Debates revolving the future of mobility are still quite controversial. While some swear by electric cars, others doubt these are actually good for the environment. In fact, the manufacture of the rechargeable batteries and the source of electricity for electric operation are repeatedly mentioned as possible emission drivers.
The non-profit US organization International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has now highlighted precisely these criticized points in a current study for the assessment of the carbon footprint of e-cars. In doing so, they came to a clear conclusion.
E-cars in general cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petrol or diesel-powered cars. That is the résumé of the current analysis by the US non-profit organization ICCT. These investigated the effects of motor and battery manufacture, fuel or electricity production, recycling, or disposal.
Up to 81% fewer emissions are possible
Researchers came to the conclusion that the greenhouse gas emissions of newly registered e-cars are currently 66% to 69 % lower than comparable new gasoline-powered vehicles in Europe. If the share of renewable energies increases steadily as part of the goals anchored in the EU’s Green Deal, this value could be 74 to 77 % by 2030.
When the car is loaded with energy from 100% renewable energy, the value is then a maximum of 81% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional compact vehicles, according to ICCT forecasts.
The researchers also collected comparable values for the USA, China, and India. They calculated that in the USA the e-cars cause 60 and 68% fewer emissions and in China and India, where a lot of energy is still obtained from coal, up to 45% less in China and up to 34% less in India.
For their analysis, the research team assumed an electric car with a mileage of 234,000 kilometers and a battery. According to the results of the analysis, e-cars could also have an increasingly better climate footprint. They referred to new data from the Argonne National Laboratory, a research institute of the US Department of Energy.
More green electricity, more efficient processes, and, in some cases, localized supply chains reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions previously assumed by battery production. Expressed in figures, the production of a 45 kWh battery in Europe would currently cause around 2.7 tons of CO2, a 70 kWh battery around 4.2 tons of CO2, according to the results.
Hybrid cars and e-fuels are no alternative
The researchers also looked at the carbon footprint of hybrid cars and fuel vehicles. According to their own statements, scientists actually measured the fuel and power consumption in average real use and did not use any official test values. They came to the conclusion that the emissions of plug-in hybrids in everyday life are only 25 to 27% lower than with gasoline-powered vehicles.
According to the ICCT, the use of biofuels has hardly any effect on a more positive carbon footprint for combustion engines. They take a similarly critical view of the use of synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels. Since the production of these is associated with very high production costs, they could not contribute significantly to the decarbonization of the fuel mix in road traffic,” said the US organization.