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UK Report on Potential Impact of EVs and PHEVs on GHG Reduction Concludes That EVs Could Cut Emissions by 40% Per Vehicle Even with Current Grid Mix

A new report, jointly produced by Arup and Cenex for the UK’s Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Department for Transport (DfT) concludes that electric vehicles have the potential to produce significant greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to conventional vehicles over the full life-cycle.

Even based on the current UK electricity grid mix, the authors expect an emissions reduction on a per vehicle basis of 40%. With further decarbonization of the UK power mix, reductions from the use of EVs would increase.

The authors modeled out the potential cumulative greenhouse gas impact of deploying EVs and PHEVs over a variety of adoption scenarios, and with a changing grid mix.

  • The mid-range scenario is based on the current trend for environmental measures being maintained, which results in 2.5% of all cars being able to connect to the grid in 2020 and 11.7% by 2030. This scenario assumes that whole life costs of an EV are comparable to an ICV by 2015.

  • The high-range uptake scenario relies on the UK government wanting to position the country as a world leader in low carbon car use, manufacture and development, and that a mix of technologies will be developed to achieve this. The scenario results in 4.9% of the UK car parc being able to connect to the grid by 2020 and 32% by 2030.

  • This extreme uptake scenario sees total dominance of grid connected cars to achieve a low carbon future, with 10% of all cars being able to connect by 2020 and 60% by 2030. Although very aggressive, it is possible, the authors say, assuming a renewal of a maximum of 8% of the car parc by new cars each year. This extreme scenario would require almost all new cars purchased to be grid-connected after 2025.

Business as Usual and Mid-Range adoption scenarios provide a small carbon dioxide saving of less than 1% by 2020 and less than 3.4% by 2030, relative to 1990 transport emissions. Significant emissions reductions are achieved for the High-Range and Extreme Range in 2030, reaching as high as 17.66%. Emissions reductions in any scenario in 2010 are not significant.

The report was commissioned by the UK government to provide a better understanding of the contribution that the introduction of battery electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can make to the long-term reduction of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

Road-based transport currently accounts for about 22% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. The study focused mainly on cars and light goods vehicles as these are seen as the most promising early applications for electric and plug-in technology.

The report also examined the impact of EVs and PHEVs on the UK electricity grid and concluded that there is sufficient generating capacity to cope with the increased electricity uptake assuming that demand for charging is managed and targeted at off-peak periods where there is currently surplus capacity.

It also concluded that the existing national transmission network will be sufficient to cope with the demand from vehicles though there may be local distribution issues to overcome. In such circumstances this can be overcome with local reinforcement. The impact of vehicle charging on local networks and infrastructure is a critical area for study in future pilot and demonstration projects.

Other key conclusions of the report include:

  • The development of EV and PHEV technology provides an opportunity for the UK to take a lead in the development and deployment of the new technologies required.

  • A number of volume manufacturers have recently announced intentions to develop EVs and PHEVs. These will initially be introduced in to the UK market as demonstrators or in very low volumes. Due to vehicle development lead times, mass production and volume availability of EVs and PHEVs is unlikely to occur before 2014 at the earliest. Therefore up to this date the market will be supply constrained and uptake will be with early adopters.

  • The wide spread roll-out and uptake of EVs and PHEVs after 2014 would require increased consumer confidence and education; improvements in battery performance and cost; charging infrastructure which keeps pace with demand; and stimulation of the market through appropriate incentives which encourage the uptake of low carbon vehicles. Without these a ‘Business as Usual’ scenario would prevail.

  • Largely due to the high cost of batteries, the consensus is that EVs and PHEVs will cost more to produce than comparable existing vehicles for the foreseeable future. Over the medium term the whole-life running costs of EVs and PHEVs are expected to be lower than conventionally-fuelled alternatives, primarily due to differences in fuel prices. Currently private consumers buy on capital cost rather than running costs and so education will be required to raise awareness of this benefit.

  • Pilot and demonstration projects will be critical to address the questions and concerns of all stakeholders involved in PHEV and EV in order to provide an evidence base for a possible future wider rollout of vehicles.

The authors recommend the creation of a forum for the development of the UK’s EV industry and market. This could, they say, either be physical or virtual, but would need to bring together the many stakeholders involved including policy makers, vehicle manufacturers, electricity generators and distributors, technology specialists, research establishments, urban designers, transport planners etc. The exact aims and scope of this forum should be the subject of further work to ensure that it is able to provide maximum benefit. The authors say that this would be a major step towards providing consistent and coherent industry direction to facilitate roll-out.

Other major recommendations include:

  • Promote the creation of robust international standards and the sharing of international learning and experience as an essential prerequisite to the wider rollout of EVs.

  • Set clear legislative landscape for 2020 and beyond with regard to vehicle efficiency standards, which will act as a driver for technological innovation. This will need to be undertaken as part of the European Union.

  • Develop a 20 year roadmap for the ongoing development of EVs and PHEVs.

  • Further develop relationships with existing UK manufacturers and also attract new manufacturers and high value engineering to the UK as a healthy manufacturing base draws in suppliers, expertise and funds for R&D. This must be structured to complement the existing automotive industry.

  • Focus research on batteries, internal combustion engines for hybrids, electric motors, control systems, energy scavenging systems and battery recycling and ensure that this does not damage other areas of UK expertise and ongoing development such as powertrain.

  • Undertake further investigation to fully understand the range of potential environmental issues associated with lithium-ion batteries and methods of mitigation.

  • Facilitate pilot and demonstration studies to be carried out which will enable further realworld research to be undertaken and to build market awareness and acceptance of EVs. These studies should grow in size to test scale and capability.

  • Seek to ensure the deployment of charging infrastructure for EVs and PHEVs remains ahead of vehicle uptake. A shortage of charging points would reduce consumer uptake.

  • EVs have the capacity to act as a distributed energy storage system although there are currently issues related to access and utilization. Further work is recommended to understand in more detail the technical challenges, business case and overall viability of such a proposition.

  • Consider facilitating the introduction of complementary policy measures that drive local market development and encourages the uptake of EVs and PHEVs.

  • Educate the public on whole life vehicle operating costs, enabling EVs and PHEVs to compete with internal combustion engine vehicles in a balanced fashion.

  • Raise public awareness about journey profiles to help them make informed choices on vehicle requirements and selection.




Is anyone surprised by this report? All of this 'new' information has been in the public domain for at least a decade now.

I apologise for the backwardness / tardiness of my nation....

Agreed, but you need these big reports to actually get the wheels in motion and policies in place so they should be welcomed.

Kit P

I am skeptical electric motor is not an irreverent LCA.

There's that "irreverence" again.


If PHEV/BEV life time cost is about the same as ICE driven vehicles but the initial capital cost is higher, why don't we go ahead with a very low interest $10K loan (not a subsidy) to offset the extra initial cost for every buyer?

Supplying e-energy is not a problem. A single 1500 mega-watt nuclear plant can produce enough power for 3.6 million PHEv-40 miles or BEV-40 miles/day.

Adding only 5 more nuclear power plants in England would be enough for almost 20 million PHEVs and BEVs.

Adding about 3 x 1500 (5-mega-watt) wind mills would also do it.

The above have to be multiplied by 10 for USA.

Both are very doable.

Kit P

Imagine my surprise to find out that I have already posted? This is my first post on the article.

The first problem with this LCA is that the model is not transparent. The second problem is the energy inputs are not correct. Which power plants will supply the electricity and what is gCO2/kwh of that power plant? Garbage in, garbage out.

I did learn something,

“Extraction of materials to make the battery for the EV contributes 13% to the overall EV
climate change impact in 2020.”


Another interesting assumption is that renewable energy is going to increase from 5% in 2007 to 32% in 2020.

I am not familiar with UK environmental barriers and construction processes but I will be really impressed if they increase wind generation by a 31.5% share of the mix in 12 years.

John Taylor

It took them 10 years to get around to noticing the obvious.


So far, this has worked out really well for the biggest OIL companies.
Let me explain.

If we look at the supply demand curve, we see that each decade since the first oil well in south Ontario in the 20's the world used twice as much oil as in the previous decade. Now we have used 50% of the easily recoverable supply.

Simple math tells anyone that we need to get all the oil out in the next 10 years ... then we are totally screwed ... there will be no new discovery or source to keep the world running. Panic time.

Really we need to begin a massive program of building a new energy structure and begin running the world on new energy (preferably clean energy).

So how does Big oil fit in?
Well, someone needs to pay for the new energy making wind farms and own them (and profit from them). Guess who has bags and bags of money looking for a new investment?

Not to be over clinical, but this did work out well for the Big Oil companies who now get to become Big Energy companies.



If we dig... dig... drill... drill ... hard enough, regarless of the potential damages, fossil liquid fuel may last another 5+ decades.

However, massive transport vehicles and HVAC electrification + biofuel production + improved extraction methods could extend Oil availability another 5+ decades specially if the transition starts soon enough and the pace is accellerated.

Will recent cheaper Oil affect future trend? It may be about the right time to apply a progressive carbon tax to maintain fossil fuel price high enough to offset higher initial PHEV and BEV cost.

Thomas Lankester

'I am not familiar with UK environmental barriers and construction processes but I will be really impressed if they increase wind generation by a 31.5% share of the mix in 12 years.'

It will require a huge effort but we in the UK have a 15% renewables commitment to the EU 2020 targets. The easiest way to reach this via electricity generation.

One point to note though, this will not be done by windpower. The UK is blessed with other renewables.



Are you kidding? Electric motors are practically indestructible. Worse case, you might need to rewind them at some point. Maybe put in new bearings. Compare this with an IC engine that has moving parts that wear against each other.

Kit P

Like I said Jim, the first post was someone using my name. Just for the record, ICE are very well established. I use lubricating oil in my ICE.

Will S

Kit, I hope you aren't arguing that ICEs are as durable as electric motors, as most people here know that they are not. Engine oil is necessary for an ICE, but hardly puts it in the same category as an electric motor.

Alex, Tunbridge Wells

Interesting choice of scenarios - but IF PHEVs work and are cheaper to own than ICEs in 2020, then there's no reason why the "extreme take up scenario" can't be achieved and bettered, quite easily.

A specific driver will be the EU fleet CO2 limits. But a key question is: How will PHEVs be treated in the car manufacturers EU tradable allowances? I assume a BEV will be treated as producing 0g/km, but what about a PHEV?

In the medium term (2020) most of the extra electricity consumption will be at night. What power stations do they currently shut down at night?

Kit P

“but IF PHEVs work and are cheaper to own ...”

We should also debate what if pigs fly. It is more likely that UK farmers will get pips to fly than UK engineers will be able to do any of the things in in this LCA.

LCA is a very good tool to make policy decisions if you are basing them on practical choices. So how much effort should go into PHEV?
“What power stations do they currently shut down at night?”
Single cycle Gas fired power plants built in the 1950s. In the spring and fall, 1930 vintage coal plants and 1960 vintage oil fired power plants are shut down. Except for France, Switzerland, and Iceland, PHEV will not reduce ghg in the near term.
EDF is doing a lot of development of PHEV in both France and the UK. The French and EDF are not any smarter than the rest of us. Coal was not a choice for France. France will be a good model for dealing with peak oil and peak coal.

Will S

Kit P said:

> The first problem with this LCA is that the model is not transparent. The second problem is the energy inputs are not correct. Which power plants will supply the electricity and what is gCO2/kwh of that power plant? Garbage in, garbage out.

and then non-transparently stated,

> Except for France, Switzerland, and Iceland, PHEV will not reduce ghg in the near term.

stas peterson

@ Harvey D,

The USA is already on course for just that scenario, you describe. PHEVS are coming; Clean nuclear to power them is coming as well. Only the Obama-loons could derail it. I doubt that they will.

Without I may add all the hair-shirt money wasting drivel, hectoring, and legal mandates from the green loons.

Nor with the use of lots of "a" and "b" segment unsafe driving compromises that no one really wants, but have been forced to accept in various places in the world.

Thirty five clean and safer, perfected, GEN III+ LWRs, essentially fully passive, and meltdown proof, are in the pipeline, and 18 have progressed so far as seeking now fully qualified applications for Combined construction and operating licenses, COLs.
Four have gone even further, to signg of fixed price, fixed schedule, construction contracts. Yet another innovation.

Kit P

@Will S

The source of electricity for most countries is transparent. If the electricity for PHEV comes from excess non fossil generated electricity, it is not necessary to consider either the efficiencies the power plant or the BEV.


Stas you are have and always are presenting the nuclear power fairy tale power scenario.

Lending instituitions didn't want to lend money to the utilities when times were good and projections for energy use were good. With recession, and growth projections totally wacked, that makes the nuclear scenario even worse, money is even tighter now. Lending instituitions will even be more loath to loan money. The last thing the gov't should do is extend even more uility welfare, especially considering that the DOE pay's 50%+ of the new licensing procedures, which means that they utilities get subsidized 50+ million dollars each. And most likely with old work being sent in as part of the new applications.

At the doorstep of 2009, the nuclear 2010 program has failed to create any first of a kind reactors it was designed to do by 2010. Not only that, it is unconscionable that loan guarantees be extended out so that the gov't is liable when the FOAK plans haven't shown what cost of the liabilities are. The Finnish EPR is 1.5 billion euros over budget so far. A crash building scenario as short sighted stan is pushing would exacerbate it even more as building supplies tighten as seen in wind turbine construction. Estimated costs for new nukes is estimated to be in the $4000/KWh installed range by the utilities and that's without supply side constraints.

As for the presentation that the GEN III+ reactors are somehow totally safe, it is totally BS. Yes they are less likely to have accidents. That is not to say that it is impossible. That is a falsehood. A reduced risk doesn't equate to no risk. I suggest that if it does, then these these reactors should be precluded from the revamped Price-Anderson indemnity act and then see how many utilities go for them.

As for the anti green comments. I would like to remind the prejudiced Stan that it was the CARB mandate that initially kicked off the commercialization of HEV and then PHEV. The japanese fearing that they would be left out of the California market put their efforts into the hybrid drive trains that went into the Prius and the Insight and now so many others. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Gov't mandates are able and should look farther ahead than the short sighted planning that individuals are prone too. Even above the vocal ideological implorings of the short sighted.

Kit P

Let me correct some of the inaccurate statements aym is making.

“DOE pay's 50%+ of the new licensing procedures”

No, DOE did pay pay's 50% for several of the first applications to test the new process.

“the nuclear 2010 program has failed to create any first of a kind reactors it was designed to do by 2010.”

Currently there are 5 reactor designs under NRC reviews. Using these designs, generators have told the NRC that they currently intend to submit 30+ reactors. Will construction start in 2010?

Stayed tuned.

Will S

Kit P wrote:

> The first problem with this LCA is that the model is not transparent. The second problem is the energy inputs are not correct. Which power plants will supply the electricity and what is gCO2/kwh of that power plant?

and then he wrote;

>The source of electricity for most countries is transparent.

A clear contradiction. And then;

> If the electricity for PHEV comes from excess non fossil generated electricity, it is not necessary to consider either the efficiencies the power plant or the BEV.

When in doubt, punt...

Kit P

No contradiction! This LCA is based on the UK and how electricity is generated there. France, Switzerland, and Iceland are different places where fossil fuels are a small small part of the mix and there are times during the day when non-fossil generated electricity can be used to charge PHEVs.


But PHEVs and BEVs have the potential to become the standard. Oil fueled ICEs are so universal, so easily exported and imported because we've spent a hundred years building a world-wide petro infrastructure.

There is also a world-wide infrastructure for electricity. How the electricity is generated in each country may be different but as long as you can find a socket in a wall you can drive the same EV car in whatever country you go to. You don't need to develop and market a different car technology for each country. The electricity can be the same even if the generation of it is different. France has nukes, Iceland has geothermal, Canada has hydro and America may be using too much coal now but it has more wind than anywhere else. Potential! Growth! That's what an economy needs to be based on.

Electricity is flexible, ethanol is not. You can't export an ethanol fueled car to a country that doesn't have enough land to grow the right crop. It would only make them dependent on some country that can produce more ethanol than it needed.

Kit P


What point are you trying to make? Is it PHEV is the best choice for exporting cars?

LCA is part of a systematic approach to reduce the environmental impact of modern life. There are 5 ways to make electricity that with less than 50 kg/MWh CO2eq based on LCA. Listed in the order magnitude of potential for new generation of making electricity:


Poor choices for making electricity included coal and natural gas.

Good ways to reduce ghg for POV include carpooling, ethanol, and biodiesel. Again this is based on LCA.

Bad ways to reduce ghg include HEV, PHEV, and BEV. This based on the fact that hauling batteries around is a bad idea.

Okay lets talk about future potential.

“But PHEVs and BEVs have the potential to become the standard.”

Sounds like something that would be good to say if you were trying to get elected to public office.


Why would I settle for public office?

stas peterson


There seems to be this feeling that there is no difference between an idling electrical generating plant and a plant under full load generating electricity.

That is ridiculous.

We do have excess generating capacity, meant for peak demand, even if most is antiquated, no longer reliable, and dirtier when used.

If you want to generate additional electricity it costs you more fuel, what ever the source, be it coal, natural gas, or uranium. So a fleet of PHEVs and/or BEVs will lead to increased use of fossil, to generate the electricity to recharge them.

It DOES matter how the electricity is generated.

Nuclear is the only way currently available to generate reasonable amounts of electricity that does not lead to increased fossil consumption. However, I agree that modern as opposed to ancient and obsolescent fossil generation, is much cleaner than antiques from the thirties still chugging along. Even those antiques are cleaner, than current fleets of ICEs and more than twice as efficient.

The Green-loons in the infinite stupidity, ensured that many of these "old smokers" have been kept around to supply electricity long after their life expectancies would have retired them. It seems to be a permanent feature of green lunacy, that their short-sighted policies, always run into the effect of unintended consequences (to them).

Modern Gen III+ nuclear generation is different from the previous nuclear plants that I and many other principled critics opposed long before the green-loon marchers and demagogues took to the streets. The Loons, not really knowing what they wanted or why, were mobiized and protested and chanted "No Nukes".

The second generation nuclear plants in the West now running, are safe, but require active operator control and meticulous attention to maintaining all active and backup control systems to keep them that way. The operators must be prepared to control the plant and shut it down, or alter its operation, using powered pumps, motors etc. So it is mandatory that all these powered pumps and powered valves operate when needed; and that standby power be always available. Constant maintenance, testing and monitoring by the NRC, insure that this is so.

It was the utter incompetence of the Three Mile Island Operators that did absolutely everything wrong, under the pressure to do something, anything, that caused the TMI plant to self destruct. Incidently, that very incompetence was one of the items that we critics wanted to test. Prior to TMI, no one wanted to spend $ ten billion dollars, to build a plant and then test it to destruction, to see if the backup controls actually worked. They did.

Paper studies were all that were done before TMI. TMI proved that even under incompetent control, it was not really possible to harm anyone outside the Plant.

The new designs of the GEN III+ generation solve all the potential problems of the second generation nuclear plants. They need no minute by minute, operator control. A GEN III+ plant is fully passive, and if you walk away and do nothing at all, the Plant will slowly turn itself off in a matter of 72 hours, without requiring any active motors or powered valves, or backup power.

These new designs need no active components to operate. No motor or valve need function, the plant will still shut itself down harmlessly, using natural thermal water circulation and gravity.

They are what nuclear plants should have been, all along.

Meanwhile the nuclear industry has found and has now proven methods to remove and to handle the high level nuclear waste problem. Via "actinide burning" of the trans-uranic elements created in the nuclear reactions, or at least all the odd-weight trans-uranics which are the dangerous, bomb making, "fissile" trans-uranics, in the present nuclear reactors.

Civilian nuclear reactors have permanently incinerated thousands of nuclear bombs, while converting their energy into safe electricity as a byproduct, and have tens of thousands more bombs planned for such destruction while doing "actinide burning".

Methods to transmute the even-weight transuranics are understood, and must await either GEN IV fission plants; or dedicated accelerators; or Fusion power plants.

All these sources have energetic enough neutrons to "crack" the remaining even-weight transuranics into elements radioactively safe within a 100 years instead of the transuranics with half-lives of thousands of years. When full actinide burning is used, trranmuting both even andd odd-weight tranuranics, a nuclear waste facility becomes safe in as short as a couple of hundred years, but substantially safe in as short as a century. This is well within the purview of Man's monitoring systems, and the urge to raid the waste sites like the Pharaoh's tombs were robbed, is removed as there is no "golden materials", or bomb making materials, to be "mined".

Yes there are some incentives in the Energy Acts of 2001, 2005, and 2007 to encourage the building of the first a couple of GEN III+ nuclear plants, but the other thirty or so now in the pipeline have no such subsidy.

In any case the subsidy is tiny compared to the massive amounts wasted on developing uneconomic renewable sources which do not scale and will always be a magnitude or more expensive per KWH.

These plants are not wild wishes, but hard headed business decisions by utility managements spending their own capital, who are accustomed to the vagaries of capital markets. Millions have been spent to date, but the the big financial outlays will not occur until the next decade, probably starting in about 2011. These managements have already sought, and received capital commitments for then, else they would not have even begun.

Today's temporary financial problems will be long cured by then.

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