EEA: large-scale roll-out of EVs will help EU shift to green transport, but may challenge power grid

27 September 2016

A large scale roll-out of electric cars on European roads would result in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower levels of certain air pollutants, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment. However, widespread use of such vehicles would pose challenges for Europe’s power grid in meeting increased electricity demand.

The EEA briefing Electric vehicles and the energy sector — impacts on Europe’s future emissions looks at the impact of different scenarios that take into account the increased use of electric cars and their effect on the European Union’s (EU) energy system, and on emissions of greenhouse gases and selected air pollutants.

Electric vehicles powered by renewable energy sources can play a bridging role in the EU’s plans to move towards a greener, more sustainable transport system, and in meeting its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80‒95 % by 2050. However, larger numbers of electric vehicles will not be enough for the shift to a low-carbon economy.

—Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

The report explores several scenarios, including one model in which electric cars have an 80% share of the EU’s total car fleet in 2050. Additional electricity generation will be required in the EU to meet the higher energy demand. The need for extra power will be higher if other sectors like industry or households do not follow through on planned energy efficiency improvements. The use of renewable energy in 2050 will also have an effect on the level of emissions from the power-generating sector.

Overall, the resulting CO2 emission reductions in the road transport sector would outweigh the higher emissions caused by the continued use of fossil fuels in the power-generating sector. In the EU, a net reduction of 255 million tonnes of CO2 could be delivered in 2050. This amount is equivalent to around 10% of the total emissions estimated for that year.

However, in countries with a high share of fossil power plants, environmental benefits would be lower. This would also lower the benefits of using electric vehicles in these countries.

An 80% share of electric vehicles would also significantly reduce overall emissions of certain air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). For other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), emissions could increase due to the continued use of coal in the electricity generation sector.

 Assuming an 80% share of EVs in 2050. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.

A larger number of electric cars on the road may pose future challenges for Europe’s power production capacities and put stress on existing power grids. Under the 80% scenario, the share of Europe’s total electricity consumption from electric vehicles would increase from around 0.03% in 2014, to 9.5% by 2050.

A more extensive infrastructure providing more public charging points would be key as well as increased power capacity able to handle a larger European car fleet. The assessment stresses that closer coordination between the road transport and energy sectors on policy making and investments will be crucial.

The EEA complemented the release of the report with the publication of a new EEA guide on electric vehicles in Europe, which provides a non-technical summary of the latest information on electric cars in Europe, including those with hybrid technologies.

The guide specifically focuses on the electric passenger cars currently on the market, and describes how they work and the challenges and incentives in place they face in achieving their broader use. Sales and use of electric vehicles are increasing, but they currently only make up 1.2% of total passenger car sales in the EU. Current estimates also show that electric cars only account for 0.15% of Europe’s total car fleet.

A lot of it will come down to having cars with large enough batteries to give flexibility in charging times.
Thus, if you have to charge every night, you have to do it there and then; but if you only have to charge every second night, you could schedule it when it is windiest, or sunniest.
When you think about solar, you have to install loads of charge points at people's places of work so they can charge during the day.
Europe is already awash with renewables, especially Germany, and this would be one way of soaking it up.
If there isn't enough energy, you would have to use hybrids or PHEVs.

I think the challenges for every region will be different but where I live I expect the market will adjust quite easily. We have lots of sun. We have many work place parking spots with plug-ins for block heaters; we have a need for heat in winter which can be integrated into CHP's in many locations. And if all that fails we can always build an NPP.

My biggest concern is that the cost of electricity is cheap relative gasoline and when EV's become affordable there will be a major increase in travel.

I think that a Heat Pump(s) (Ground Source Geothermal as opposed to Air Source exchange) in combination with CHP is the optimal for residential/commercial space heating. Natural Gas is cheap in most NA suburban/urban areas, so it is slow to develop. There is a lot of wasted potential here. Perhaps CHP should be mandated wherever NG/Propane space heating is applied.

We are located in the rural foot hills of the metro DC area. I built the house we are in 25 years ago, and the WaterFurnace Geothermal has worked great all this time. I wish we had cheap NG here as well. I would like to add CHP if we had an Economical source of NG/Propane. The Grid electrical costs are relatively low here.

The report explored several scenarios and only one, a model in which electric cars have an 80% share of the EU’s total car fleet in 2050, is giving them cause to worry. Please remember that in this scenario the EU goes from having 0.15% of Europe’s total car fleet being EVs now to 80% in just 34 years.

A9.5% increase in electricity consumption, by going from ICEV to EVs (at 80%)in 34 years, is nothing to worry about.

Better use of e-energy could easily liberate 9.5% for EVs. Secondly, EV owners could charge at night when plenty of unused electricity is available or install their own solar panels to recharge the EV's battery or offset the extra load.

EPRI in the U.S. says we have enough night time power capacity for one million cars.

The main obstacle to realising transition from fossil fuels is reluctance on the part of politicians to give clear notice to miners and grid operators that renewable will be supported and that the change will happen at an accelerating rate.
Battery technology and proven vehicles models are improving at astonishing rate,although there is a lot of inertia from old technology owners still to overcome.
The capacity for renewable power generation is also capable of meeting any target, unfortunately the bastions of some grid operators and miners would rather sit on their thumbs or employ political lobbyists to run scare campaigns.
If we could see the needed increase in transfer of investment  from fossil fuel extraction, then the increase in CO2 emissions can be turned.

Thus, if you have to charge every night, you have to do it there and then; but if you only have to charge every second night, you could schedule it when it is windiest, or sunniest.

The sky can be cloudy and the winds calm for days and weeks.  The idea of EVs as the white knight riding to the rescue of flaky, unreliable ruinable generators is attractive, but wrong.  It won't work because it can't work, and it leads to fossl-fuel lock in:  just what the oil and gas industry are pushing for.

Europe is already awash with renewables, especially Germany, and this would be one way of soaking it up.

IIRC, I calculated last year that Germany's existing PV would require on the order of 1 Chevy Volt per capita to absorb its sunny-day surpluses.  It must be quite a bit more now.

in this scenario the EU goes from having 0.15% of Europe’s total car fleet being EVs now to 80% in just 34 years.

Note that the active LDV fleet will turn over at least 3x in 34 years.

A large and growing EV fleet plus a carbon tax will feed a rapid growth of nuclear power, where politics allows.  The load-levelling effect of overnight charging, plus the price-floor on backup power created by a carbon tax, reverses the economic war of "renewables" on nuclear.  Making "renewables" forego subsidies and mandates and accept tax-backed wholesale prices will make them temporarily attractive, but that attraction will disappear when they are all selling into a saturated wholesale market whenever they are generating.  Generators who are able to build e.g. Cal Abel's salt-storage LMFBR plant will just buy up zero-price electricity, dump it to heaters in their salt tanks, and sell the energy back to the grid when the surplus is gone and it's worth something again.  The wind and PV farms will either shrink so that such surpluses don't occur any more, or just fold.

@EP,
I am under no illusions that you can build a wind+solar+battery grid, you will always need a dispatchable source, such as gas to balance the load when, as you point out, the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine.
And that dispatchable source could be as large as the whole grid because both can happen at the same time.
The problem of a solar+wind+gas grid will be overabundance, and for this, we can use the EVs to soak up some of the excess.

Obviously, you could just build a nuclear+gas grid as the French have done, but this is not politically acceptable or affordable in most of "the west". Which is a huge shame as we could solve the CO2 problem at a stroke with nukes. (The national carbon suicides of Germany and Japan really annoy me - keep the old Nukes going as long as possible, IMO).

The problem of a solar+wind+gas grid will be overabundance

No, it will be feast-or-famine.  Even if capacity can be way overbuilt for the average, events like the BPA multi-week wind droughts will produce famine conditions as well.

for this, we can use the EVs to soak up some of the excess.

Only by sacrificing their primary purpose, which is mobility.  The watchword for EVs today is "range anxiety", caused by batteries which are too small (or charging opportunities too infrequent) to handle the contingencies of life.  If EVs are going to soak up excesses, they have to have a lot of un-charged and available battery capacity.  If you reduce the effective range of EVs in order to have that "sponge" available, you slash the utility of the vehicles and bring range anxiety right back.

Germany is pushing H2 as the storage element, allowing months rather than hours of capacity.  The problem with H2 is that the round-trip losses are massive, and the net cost so high that no article on the matter dares to deal with it head-on.  It is ALL a scam.

The ideal clean e-energy source is more a matter of cost than technology used.

Recent NPPs cost over $0.22/kWh and near future units will probably cost up to$0.30/kWh and takes up to 12 years to build.

Clean Solar or Wind (with storage) cost $0.05/kWh +$0.10/kWh for a total of $0.15/kWh and less than 2 years to build. The choice is 100% in favour of Solar+Wind and Germany? Info: The current retailed price for electricity in France is between$0.16/kWh to $0.19/kWh (USD) depending on max load purchased (3 KW to 36 KW). The current retailed price for homes in Ontario-Canada is$0.13/kWh (CAN) plus sale taxes.

The current average retailed price for homes anywhere in Quebec-Canada is $0.065/kWh (CAN) plus sale taxes. Basically, electricity cost 3X and/or 2X more for nuclear energy in France and Ontario than for clean Hydro-Wind in Quebec. That says it all? NPPs are more costly to build and operate. The current retailed price for electricity in France is between$0.16/kWh to $0.19/kWh (USD) depending on max load purchased (3 KW to 36 KW). The current average retailed price for homes anywhere in Quebec-Canada is$0.065/kWh (CAN) plus sale taxes.

Which is not comparable in the least.  In France, "there are several taxes that are applied to electricity consumption (see below), and when put together, they represent about 31% of the cost of electricity for residential customers".  In short, the French taxes alone are almost as much as the HQ base rate.  The German "renewable" surcharge alone is MORE than the HQ base rate, at €0.06354/kWh (USD 0.0714/kWh)*.

electricity cost 3X and/or 2X more for nuclear energy in France and Ontario than for clean Hydro-Wind in Quebec.

So tell us, Harvey... how are you going to give Quebec's low population density and large amount of rainfall and relief to France, so the French can live up to your expectations for them?

That says it all? NPPs are more costly to build and operate.

And they're both cheaper and much cleaner than the "Green" solutions of Denmark and Germany; the German rate is about €0.287/kWh (USD 0.323/kWh).

HQ should have refurbished Gentilly in the anticipation of carbon taxes and cross-border sales opportunities, but ideology triumphed over economics and the environment both.

The current retailed price for electricity in France is between $0.16/kWh to$0.19/kWh (USD) depending on max load purchased (3 KW to 36 KW).

The current average retailed price for homes anywhere in Quebec-Canada is $0.065/kWh (CAN) plus sale taxes. Which is not comparable in the least. In France, "there are several taxes that are applied to electricity consumption (see below), and when put together, they represent about 31% of the cost of electricity for residential customers" [1]. In short, the French taxes alone are almost as much as the HQ base rate. The German "renewable" surcharge alone is MORE than the HQ base rate, at €0.06354/kWh (USD 0.0714/kWh) [2]. electricity cost 3X and/or 2X more for nuclear energy in France and Ontario than for clean Hydro-Wind in Quebec. So tell us, Harvey... how are you going to give Quebec's low population density and large amount of rainfall and relief to France, so the French can live up to your expectations for them? That says it all? NPPs are more costly to build and operate. And they're both cheaper and much cleaner than the "Green" solutions of Denmark and Germany; the German rate is about €0.287/kWh (USD 0.323/kWh). HQ should have refurbished Gentilly in the anticipation of carbon taxes and cross-border sales opportunities, but ideology triumphed over economics and the environment both. Links in next comment, because they send it to moderation. [1] http://en.selectra.info/energy-france/guides/electricity-cost#structure-electricity-bill-France [2] https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/what-german-households-pay-power I compared cost of electricity for homes in Nuclear France and Nuclear Ontario with/versus Quebec single rate Hydro/Wind electricity. Even at those low cross network single rates, HQ's profits are close to 30%. QC government gets close to 15% dividends to pay for schools and hospitals and to reduce deficits. Granted that sale taxes are as bit higher (instead of Dividends) in France but are a slight bit lower in Ontario. France could go more Wind/Solar + storage (@ about$0.15/kWh) without raising retail prices much. Solar could be installed in many places including roofs etc. H2 could be an excellent storage medium.

PHEVs with Long Electric Range (PHEVLERs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) do not have to challenge the electric power grid. Over the coming years we can generate enough additional electricity to power both transportation and domestic needs by gradually adding 6 to 8 Kw of solar or wind electric generators for each PHEVLER or BEV sold.

In addition, economical low power EV charging stations should be installed at all the places where EVs are parked for long periods of time (e.g. homes and workplaces). This will allow intelligent nighttime charging when other electric demands are low, and/or daytime charging when electricity from solar PV and wind is plentiful. In the long run, the management of energy by the electric power companies will be needed to manage and coordinate between the renewably generated electricity sources, the batteries for electricity storage and the bidirectional chargers in BEVs and PHEVLERs.

See: "PHEVLERs are the Zero CO2 Clean Green Machines of the Future"
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2016/04/20160422-phevler.html

Dr. Frank, I don't know what your personal experience is with PHEVs, but I've been driving one for 3.5 years now and you don't need the long-range feature to slash fuel demand by 2/3.  I used to drive a turbodiesel sedan averaging about 38 MPG, but my Fusion Energi's lifetime average is 129.7 MPG as of tonight, more than 3x as much.

Your prescription of solar or wind generators is, however, somewhere between misguided and flat wrong.  The thing which most affects my fuel-replacement isn't wattage of generation, but availability of supply.  The car takes a rated maximum of 240 VAC 16 A*, so anything more than what its charger can take is wasted.  Periods of dark and calm would throw it back on liquid fuel.

If we expect to replace petroleum and charge our vehicles during off-peak hours, we have to have absolutely reliable power available to do it.  Wind and solar fail utterly at this; doing it carbon-free requires hydro or nuclear.

* I'd love to see if it could handle rectified pulsating DC from 208 VAC 3φ, which would have a lower peak voltage but considerably higher RMS voltage and could sustain closer to 4.4 kW of power at the same current.  A lot of the chargers I use are fed from 208 VAC 3φ and the car's peak charging power on them is about 3.3 kW.

EGOsphere knows more than Dr. Frank...no way.

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