Indirect CO2 emissions of electric vehicles: Insights from real-world vehicle use
Greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2 emissions, are a major environmental problem caused mainly by the transportation and the energy sectors. Electric vehicles have been proposed as a solution for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions in road transport. At the same time their potential emission reduction depends on the emissions from the generation of electricity used to charge the vehicles. This study analyzes indirect emissions of electric vehicles to examine optimization potential using real-world data. The results of the study suggest that charging during the daytime is associated with the usage of more electricity from renewable energy sources than charging in typical non-work hours. However, due to the highly violate character of renewable energy sources the differences are rather small. Also, CO2 emissions per kilometer driven depend on driving patterns influencing the energy demand of the vehicles. Accordingly, optimization potential using renewable energy-oriented time course of charging is found to be rather small with an average greenhouse gas emission reduction of 4%. Thus to achieve the potential of electric vehicles to solve environmental issues requires the optimization of driving and charging patterns as well as measures for reducing the carbon intensity in the electricity grid.