Is your electric car as eco-friendly as you thought?

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  • Electric car sales growing faster in Europe than in other regions
  • EV’s carbon savings depend on grid makeup and charging times
  • Switzerland’s record is the best, Poland and Kosovo’s worst
  • Using sun and wind power to charge in daylight saves more
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BERLIN, Nov 10 (Businesshala) – Electric vehicles (EVs) are a powerful weapon in the world’s fight to beat global warming, yet their impact varies greatly from nation-to-nation and in some places they are similar to gasoline models. , pollute more than data analysis. shows.

In Europe, where sales are growing the fastest in the world, EVs in Poland and Kosovo actually generate more carbon emissions as grids rely on coal, according to data compiled by research consultant Radiant Energy Group (REG).

Elsewhere around Europe, however, the picture is better, although relative carbon savings depend on grid supplies and the time of day vehicles are charged.

According to the study shared with Businesshala, the best performers are nuclear and hydroelectric-powered Switzerland, which delivers 100% carbon savings compared to gasoline vehicles, Norway 98%, France 96%, Sweden 95% and Austria 93%. .

Lagarde makes up Cyprus 4%, Serbia 15%, Estonia 35% and the Netherlands 37%. An EV driver in Europe’s largest carmaker Germany, which relies on a mix of renewable energy and coal, saves 55% of greenhouse gas, data also shows.

Carbon emissions from electric vehicles

In countries like Germany or Spain that have large investments in solar and wind, the lack of renewable energy storage means that the amount of carbon saved by running an EV depends on the time of day you recharge.

Charging in the afternoon – when sun and wind are more prevalent – ​​saves 16-18% more carbon than at night, when the grid is more likely to run on gas or coal.

The analysis, based on public data from Europe’s transmission system operator transparency platform ENTSO-E and the European Environment Agency (EEA), came ahead of Wednesday’s discussion on transport at the COP26 summit.

It showed that the auto industry’s ability to reduce emissions depends on decarbonizing the electricity grid and finding better ways to store renewable energy – challenges many European countries have yet to face.

Lithium-ion batteries are only able to store energy at full capacity for up to four hours, which means countries sourcing significant amounts of solar and wind power during the day to keep it on tap for nighttime charging do struggle.

Carbon emissions from electric vehicles

footprint inequalities

The German and US-based REG researchers said that as long as consistent, low-carbon energy is available across the region, EV drivers are keen to reduce their footprint and that engineers designing charging infrastructure will need to take these disparities into account.

“Electricity has the potential to decarbonize transport in a way that internal-combustion engines never will,” said researcher Sid Bagga.

“But the carbon impact of electrification varies dramatically depending on a country’s energy mix … countries must adopt reliable and achievable electricity decarbonization strategies if the EV transition is to be successful.”

The emissions gap between electric and gasoline-powered vehicles has narrowed in recent years as automakers know they will need to meet EU carbon reduction targets, while still selling most internal combustion engine cars. have made their engines more fuel-efficient.

As a result, the carbon intensity of newly registered gasoline-powered cars in Europe fell an average of 25% between 2006 and 2016, according to EEA data.

EV sales in Europe have been driven by government subsidies and regulations against new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars from 2035. One in five vehicles sold in Europe last quarter was electrified, and consultancy Ernst & Young expects sales of zero-emissions models to overtake ICE. fully by 2028.

Automakers including General Motors (GM.N), Stelantis (STLA.MI), and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) aim to sell electric vehicles mostly or exclusively in Europe in the coming years, with GM aiming to sell electric vehicles mostly or exclusively in Europe by 2022. Committed to the lineup. And Volkswagen has set a target of 70% all-electric sales by 2030.

The REG study was based on data from January 1 to October 15, 2021. It compared emissions from charging an electric vehicle matching Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Model 3 efficiency with the emissions generated from gasoline-powered fuel averaged to drive 100 km. vehicles at the same distance.

Countries where charging an electric vehicle is more than 85% cleaner than driving a gasoline-powered car tend to consistently have low-carbon energy supply sources, namely hydroelectric or nuclear.

Even so, there are no hard and fast rules on which energy source leads to the lowest carbon supply in the European Union at what time: for example, the wind blows more at night in Sweden.

Charging an EV in Ireland, which sources 46% of its energy from renewables, saves the same proportion of carbon as in Moldova, which sources 94% of its energy from gas, the study found, as Ireland The backup fossil fuels are more carbon-intensive. ,

“Ireland produces a greater amount of zero-carbon electricity than Moldova – but it generates about 13% of its electricity from oil (1.8x dirtier than gas), 9% from coal (2.3x dirtier than gas) , and gets 3% electricity from peat (2.6x dirtier than gas),” Bagga said.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Eli Levine; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne


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