How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?

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How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?-electric

The Austrian platform of the climate and energy fund, e-connected, publishes a saving of 70% in CO2 emissions when switching from combustion engines to electrically powered vehicles in private transport. This organization is the official mouthpiece of the Austrian federal government and deals with the challenges of climate change.

The German environmental prognosis institute e.V. On the other hand, warned in August 2015: The high subsidies for electric cars without ifs and buts only mean that the emissions that occur are not recorded, especially since the manufacturers do not have to declare the emissions from production and thus avoid fines with an incorrect “zero”.

No clear statement regarding the CO2 advantages of e-cars

Divergent positions like this can be found en masse – but who is right? A treat for every conspiracy theorist – paired with a core of truth on both sides, political opponents fuel each other and exploit the global tragedy for themselves. The consumer is on his own – we are a long way from mandatory labeling of the ecological effects of every consumer good, the desired free trade agreements seem to want to nip such a development in the bud.

How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?-does

On the other hand, we have a global climate agreement. The two developments do not necessarily appear to be coordinated. In relation to the current positions in terms of e-mobility: who do you trust more?? The small NGO, as a gang of eco-freaks who chain themselves to trees, or the decision-makers branded as political lobbyists, who enrich a chosen clientele with tax money, which immediately flows back into their own ranks? As a mere metaphor, the realist can also leave this exaggeration as it is and research what is behind it.

Regional freedom from emissions – what’s the bottom line??

As early as 2014, “Die Zeit” dealt with the content of these opponents and differentiated meaningfully in its summary: Local zero emissions – an undisputed fact with electric cars – is one thing: an advantage for individual regions, added value for our municipalities, which counteracting the Consequences of further industrialization can only be right.

The other thing, however, to use regional freedom from emissions as a justification for federal or even Europe-wide subsidies would actually be a small crime against the intellect of people and the purse of the general public. Because with regard to climate change there is no improvement here.

The states as such are also rightly enthusiastic about savings in health care due to the reduced nitrogen oxides that are saved with electrically powered vehicles. But is that enough to serve as a last resort against global climate change and anyway consume more funding than is saved? Hardly likely.

And by 2020, when emissions standard 6 comes into effect, the load should have fallen by a third anyway – even with conventional drive engines. The kilowatt hour of today’s typical German electricity mix comes to 601 g CO2. The most common models would produce 100-200 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven.

If you want to research the “truth”, you encounter the most colorful spectrum of analyzes, questionable information, opinions and studies. This closer to closer requires a high time, healthy skepticism, involving possible intentions of authors controlled from economy and politics, a long breath and maybe a portion of good humor.

Because at this point, the opposing interests in the form of winning. Even as an objective author, one is only at a loss in the middle, because a complex interaction of many subject-specific facts can not be analyzed without recourse to existing data. We see ourselves the current opinions of the different stakeholders.

Well to Wheel consideration

Fix is: You must include the emissions incurred in production. The above designation means nothing other than the energy balance from production. With regard to the global climate, what is the use of only recording emissions during operation while production is responsible for the most emissions? In fact, this would only benefit producers and mislead consumers.

Anyone who accepts the increased acquisition costs has a right to information about the eco-balance of their purchase. Motor vehicle construction is a prime example of a lack of education, but agricultural products are even more so. Anyone who, however, seriously wants to record CO2 emissions cannot avoid including production. This is neither new nor special, but simply logical and important. And the electric car is inherently tending towards a zero when used, but its production is problematic from an ecological point of view, even though a proud zero is emblazoned under the manufacturer’s specifications.

Current problem factors in production

What is the sore point of the e-car that even wants to question its existence? In short: the battery, or more precisely: the amount of energy required to dry the materials that can only be fixed in liquid form on a foil during their manufacture. The manufacturers do not have to publish any data on this and are also silent. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg is the only one to come up with figures that are shocking: 125 kg of CO2 emissions are due per Kw/h of capacity of the electric car battery.

How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?-electric

Take the Nissan Leaf as an example of the total effort: 3 tons of CO2 per vehicle are required purely for the battery. Nevertheless: The need is compensated by the service life compared to conventional drive systems. Using the model mentioned as an example, there are 28.000 kilometers driven, from this point onwards the number of CO2 emissions compared to a fuel-powered Golf has been reached that the latter will consume throughout its lifetime. In this respect, the Nissan Leaf drives from this mileage, also considered “Well to Wheel”, with a “zero”.

Problematic: disposal of the batteries

Another task is the recycling of old batteries. A cooperation between three large companies uses these old batteries as temporary storage for electricity from renewable sources, which only feed the electricity back into the grid when required and store it temporarily, so to speak. This project has proven itself, at least on a small scale.

How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?-compared

Another “second-life battery storage system” is being operated successfully in Westphalia. With the currently relatively small number of these problematic substances in the form of electric car batteries, such projects can be sold well. But if the majority of people brought one back, there would be a problem. In addition, the need for disposal is only postponed by around 10 years.

If the electric car is more widespread and there really are masses of used batteries, a clearly regulated recycling system will be necessary.

State of the art with 2016

Since the summer of 2016, at least exact figures have been known that enable targeted comparisons. Admittedly, under “Well to Wheel consideration” it surveyed all factors and came up with the following summary with the current status:

During the entire life cycle of an electric car, it consumes only a quarter to a third compared to fossil-fuelled cars. If you compare it to the consumption of a hybrid, there is a 50-70 percent reduction in demand even between these two types. The cost of materials is the same for all. The high relevance of the sources of the electricity to be consumed is always emphasized in all serious surveys, such as in this study,

Prospects CO2 emissions

The Heidelberg Institute for Energy and Environmental Research examines detailed questions from the overall complex and always comes up with new, interesting calculations. Those aspects that are therefore in great need of improvement can be summarized as follows:

  • If the battery required less material, the amount of electrical drying required would be reduced. Intensified research is to be expected.

  • Different electricity mix: If the share of renewable energies in electricity generation increases, this has a direct compensatory effect.

  • A higher energy density would bring less weight to the electrochemical storage. More work should also be done on this in the future.

This would make it possible to reduce CO2 emissions by a third by 2030. But not as of today. At the end of the year, the institute also emphasized the urgency of converting freight transport as well. Even in private transport, the sales figures for electric cars are below the expectations of the German government. Not only the governments are challenged, it affects us all.

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1 thought on “How much CO2 does an electric car consume compared to a combustion diesel?”

  1. The (continuous) charging power requirement when charging with electricity is interesting. With a charging capacity of 2.3 kW for a charging time of 5-10 hours, this corresponds to 10 amperes (single-phase) per socket. Assuming 10.000 medium car (for Vienna z.B.) results in 23.000 kW power or at least 115.000 kWh electr. work – per day ! Are the power grids available and/or suitable for this? ? In addition, there is a vehicle availability of around 50%, just so that emissions can be shifted away from the metropolitan areas. Strange logic ! Qui bono ? Who benefits from this and with what benefit ? Not to mention the problem of medium-term battery disposal (10 years phase shift).
    Conclusion: a lot of cackling about unlaid eggs.


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