Mobility

Coal-based electricity undermines positive impact of electric vehicles

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Photo: Pixabay/distelAPPArath

Published

November 12, 2021

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Published:

November 12, 2021

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The environmental benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) should by no means be taken for granted as their impact depends on the carbon intensity of the electricity they use to recharge, or, more precisely, on the level of coal-reliance of the grid that supplies electricity for EV chargers. Serbia and Kosovo* are among the worst performers in Europe in terms of EVs’ carbon savings compared with gasoline vehicles, according to a recent study seen by Reuters.

EVs in Kosovo*, but also in EU member Poland, generate more carbon emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles because their grids are so coal-reliant, according to the study, produced by Radiant Energy Group (REG).

EVs in Serbia save only 15% of carbon emissions compared with gasoline cars

In Serbia, the emissions savings achieved by EVs are just 15% compared to fossil-fuel powered vehicles. This still better than in Cyprus, where electric cars’ positive impact is just 4%.

The top performer in Europe is Switzerland, whose nuclear and hydroelectric-powered grid enables 100% in such savings, followed closely by Norway, with a 98% ratio, France, 96%, Sweden, 95%, and Austria, 93%.

In countries with large solar and wind capacities savings depend on whether EVs are charged in the daytime or at night

In Germany and Spain, however, despite significant solar and wind capacities, the lack of better ways to store renewable energy makes EVs’ carbon savings dependent on the time of day when they are charged – much more is achieved in the afternoon, where there is more sunshine and wind, than it is at night, when grids receive more coal-based electricity.

An electric vehicle in Germany saves 55% of carbon emissions compared to a gasoline vehicle, according to the REG analysis, which was based on data from the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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