Electromobility in Germany: CO2 Balance Depends on Charging Electricity

DIW Weekly Report 17 / 2015, S. 235-242

Wolf-Peter Schill, Clemens Gerbaulet, Peter Kasten

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The German government plans to significantly increase the deployment of electric vehicles. What impact would this have on the country’s power system and carbon emissions? This question was addressed as part of a European research project analyzing various scenarios up to 2030. One of the key findings of the study is that total annual power consumption of the four to five million electric vehicles (depending on the scenario) would be small. However, recharging the vehicles, particularly in an uncontrolled charging mode, which involves the car being fully recharged as rapidly as possible after being connected to the electricity grid, would result in problematic peak loads in the power system. The type of additional power generation required for electric vehicles also largely depends on the charging mode. For example, a charging mode that minimizes system costs would use a particularly high share of power from hard-coal- and lignite-fired plants, which, in turn, would result in an above-average level of specific carbon emissions of the charging electricity. If the electricity and transport sectors are both considered, it becomes evident that the introduction of electromobility would result in a significant net reduction in carbon emissions only if linked with an additional expansion of renewable energy sources compared to current plans.

Wolf-Peter Schill

Deputy Head of Department in the Energy, Transportation, Environment Department

JEL-Classification: Q42;R41;Q54
Keywords: Electric vehicles, power system modelling, carbon emissions
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