Report: EVs Greener than Diesel Even when Refuelled with Electricity from Coal-Fired Power Stations

Mobility | World

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Electric vehicles are far greener than their diesel and petrol alternatives over their entire lifetime, even when powered using electricity generated with the dirtiest fossil fuels, according to a new report released today by VUB University in Brussels.

The report, which was compiled on behalf of campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E), factored in emissions from the manufacture of an electric vehicle and its battery, as well as energy consumption over the course of its lifetime.

It shows that even where an electricity grid is dominated by dirty energy sources, it is still greener to drive an electric car rather than a diesel or petrol alternative. In Poland, for example, where 90 per cent of electricity is generated using coal power, an electric vehicle emits 25 per cent less CO2 over its lifetime compared to a diesel.

As the proportion of renewable energy grows on a grid, the comparison between electric cars and combustion engine vehicles becomes even more favourable. In Sweden, where all grid electricity is generated by renewables and nuclear power, electric cars emit 85 per cent less carbon dioxide over their lifetime than diesels.

“Today an electric vehicle driving on Polish electricity – the most carbon intensive in the EU – still has a lower impact on the climate than a new diesel car,” explained Yoann le Petit, clean vehicles and e-mobility officer at T&E. “With the rapid decarbonisation of the EU electricity mix, on average electric vehicles will emit half the CO2 emissions of a diesel car by 2030 including the manufacturing emissions.”

The paper builds on research from power giant Drax earlier this year, which found that in the UK the rapid decarbonisation of grid energy means that emissions from electric cars have fallen by two-thirds over the last five years.

Electric cars currently make up just 1.7 per cent of new vehicles sold in Europe, but this figure is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years as electric vehicles become a staple of the mass market. Governments are keen to push the shift to electric – the European Commission is considering including a zero-emission sales quota in legislation later this year for example.