Report calls for defossilising of EVs’ electricity sources

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has published a report stating that electricity sources need to be defossilised if electric vehicles (EVs) are to play a key role in emissions reduction.

Indirect Emissions from Electric Vehicles: Emissions from Electricity Generation, published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, concludes that the ability of EVs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depends on the fuel mix used in the electricity generation that charges the batteries.

According to a statement, the research found that electricity power sources vary widely among and within countries, making indirect CO2 emissions from EV use equally varied. Furthermore, the roll out of EVs should be particularly promoted where energy generation is the least carbon intensive, as in France where much of its electricity comes from nuclear power stations.

Dr Oliver Inderwildi, head of the Low Carbon Mobility Centre at Oxford’s Smith School, said: ‘Transport is one of the largest and fastest-growing contributors to increased greenhouse gas concentrations.

‘With road transport responsible for more than six per cent of all CO2 emissions, electric vehicles can provide a way to significantly reduce these emissions, but indirect emissions from existing energy sources will leave a lingering carbon habit for some countries. Decarbonising the generation of electricity must be a priority.’

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 per cent less CO2 emissions in the US, 49 per cent less in the UK and 90 per cent less in France.

‘The future of our electricity sources remain a crucial issue in many countries as existing sources require replacement, while the proliferation of road transport continues to increase emissions,’ said Prof Sir David King, founding director of the Smith School. ‘We must seize the opportunity now to defossilise our electricity sources to ensure a low-carbon economy that will go hand in hand with a development in electric vehicle transport over the next few years.’