EEA this week released a briefing paper on the implications for emissions and Europe’s electricity system arising from the potential wide-scale use of electric cars in 2050. An assessment commissioned by the EEA explored these impacts using two scenarios:
The resulting changes in energy demand, CO2 and selected air pollutant emissions were quantified. They were then compared with a European Commission “reference” projection, which assumes that 80% of Europe’s car fleet would be electric in 2050. Other sectors and their potential future reductions in energy demand were not taken into account.
The assessment found that:
EEA seems to recognize that electric vehicles are not a panacea or silver bullet, and that seems to contrast with the views of other policymakers around the world that are counting on EVs to deliver on air pollution and climate mitigation (and even congestion mitigation with autonomous driving/car sharing):
Electric vehicles are just one way in which Europe can move towards a more resource efficient economy and decarbonised transport system. Replacing conventional vehicles with electric vehicles can help reduce emissions, although how much it helps depends significantly upon the source of the electricity used to charge vehicles: renewable, nuclear power or fossil fuel sources. However, simply replacing conventional vehicles will not solve other transport-related problems such as growing congestion and increasing demand for roading infrastructure. A systematic transformation is needed, including further development of renewable biofuels, a shift towards non-motorised and/or public transport and changing the ways in which we use our transport systems. This will help achieve the EU’s commitment to a more resource efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy.