Are electric vehicles more environmentally benign and sustainable than fossil fuel-powered vehicles? The topic that is often asked has been addressed in a new whitepaper that illustrates how automobiles driven by batteries are much more environmentally friendly over the course of their lifespan than cars powered by internal combustion.
It is estimated that the advantages of a typical new BEV already reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the entire life-cycle by approximately 65 percent. However, with advancements in battery technology and end-of-life treatment, this could increase to approximately 76 percent in comparison to a petrol equivalent operating in the UK by the year 2030.
The research was conducted by Ricardo, a worldwide energy and environmental consultant, and published in a study that was recently compiled for the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport.
“We are all aware of the operational environmental benefits of driving an electric car, but this study has provided further confirmation that those benefits are also significant in the UK when considering the full life of the vehicle from manufacturing to the end-of-life,” Nikolas Hill, an associate director and expert in vehicle technology and fuels within Ricardo’s Sustainable Transport team, said.
The effects of fuel consumption dominate the overall lifecycle impact for conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles, including hybrids. These effects currently account for more than 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and vans, and this percentage is significantly higher for higher mileage heavy-duty vehicles. Hybrid vehicles are an exception to this rule, as their emissions are significantly lower than those from gasoline and diesel vehicles.
The investigation also revealed that, despite the fact that BEVs consistently perform better than all other powertrains for all road vehicle types, alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can also offer the opportunity to deliver large savings when compared with conventional modes of transportation. These hydrogen-fueled cars are viewed as a very relevant alternative for the transportation of freight over longer distances on the road. When compared to a conventional articulated truck, an FCEV has the potential to reduce fuel use by 73% by the year 2050. These reductions on greenhouse gas emissions have the potential to climb to 86 percent for a battery electric truck, provided that the vehicle is compatible with the operating limits.
“It’s terrific to see the Government’s effort to power up the electric revolution is being validated by this ground-breaking study,” said Trudy Harrison, the Minister of Transport.
“We have already pledged £2.5 billion to fund the introduction of electric vehicles throughout the UK, which will help clean up our air, enhance possibilities for green employment in our cities, towns, and villages, and improve convenience for drivers.”
Mr. Hill said that “the findings show that the existing plan for growing electrification of road transport is the appropriate one to assist us cut emissions.” [Citation needed] In addition to the possibility of making significant financial savings, switching to cars powered by batteries or hydrogen also offers significant health advantages. The current generation of automobiles has much lower levels of pollutant emissions throughout their entire lifecycles than previous generations.
“Our findings provide credibility to the approach that the United Kingdom Government has devised for gradually eliminating conventional cars and transitioning to electric transportation. This is the most effective strategy for lowering emissions and making a contribution to the United Kingdom’s climate goals.
The research also demonstrated the extra lifespan net advantages that may be gained by producing electric cars and the batteries that power them in the United Kingdom as opposed to other areas.
Lifecycle Analysis of UK Road Vehicles is a report that builds directly upon the high-profile work that Ricardo previously carried out on EU vehicles for the European Commission. That work also made use of Ricardo’s bespoke Vehicle LCA Modelling framework. The report was titled “Lifecycle Analysis of UK Road Vehicles.”