Fleet News

Report states the need to defossilise electricity sources

The full environmental benefits of electric vehicles was thrown into question after Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment published a report stating the need to defossilise electricity sources before EVs can become a key part of emissions reduction.

The UK, the US and France were compared in the study for their indirect EV CO2 output from well to wheels. Hypothetical EV fleets would produce 59% less CO2 emissions in the US, 49% less in the UK and 90% less in France, where much of its electricity is produced from nuclear power stations.

The report concludes that the ability of EVs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depends on the fuel mix used in electricity generation that charges the batteries.

Dr Oliver Inderwildi, head of the low carbon mobility centre at the Smith School, said: “Decarbonising the generation of electricity must be a priority.”

Professor Sir David King, founding director of the Smith School, added: “The future of our electricity sources remain a crucial issue in many countries as existing sources require replacement, whilst the proliferation of road transport continues to increase emissions. We must seize the opportunity now to defossilise our electricity sources to ensure a low carbon economy which will go hand in hand with a development in electric vehicle transport over the next few years.”

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  • adamrollins - 18/10/2010 15:57

    It is easy to see that environmental benefits from electric vehicles are dependant on the source of power to generate the electricity they use. Not forgetting that the conversion, transmission and storage of electricity all have an energy cost. Conversion of one form of energy to another always results in an energy loss as well. Removal of carbon from exhausts of fossil fueled power stations is a further possibility, but with current technology, the cleaning and storage of CO2 from power station emissions costs about 25% of the total power generated by the station. However, as technology improves and more renewable energy sources come on-line, then the benefits from electric vehicle technology will take effect; so for applications where electric vehicle technology is suitable, the uptake should be fully encouraged, promoting the additional benefit of ongoing advances in electric vehicle technology. The positive spiral should be more and more electric vehicles requiring less and less electricity from progressively cleaner sources of energy. The ultimate goal of clean transport is still a long way off. An immediate and practical measure that needs to be adopted is mileage management, ensuring that business journeys are optimised to minimise both financial and environmental costs. There is no use counting on cheap travel in the future. Even once clean transport has been achieved it is highly likely that the cost of generating electricity from clean sources will be far higher than the current costs from what we consider to be expensive fossil fuels. Even if energy costs do come down, the governement of the the day will need to find ways of charging for road use, whether this is packaged as anti congestion measures (and there still will be more and more vehicles on the roads), or whether it is more honestly presented as an important source of revenue. The present may not offer immediately clean transport; the future does. But cheap is not going to go hand in ha

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