The use of electric vehicles with sustainable battery production is seen as a help towards France meeting its Paris Agreement commitments.
In France, battery electric vehicles cause 2 to 3 times less global warming pollution than diesel and petrol vehicles over their whole life cycle, reveals a new study released by the European Climate Foundation together with French institutional actors, representatives of the automotive and electromobility industry, battery makers, the energy sector and five NGOs, including Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme.
This advantage, the study shows, will be maintained in 2030 if the objectives of the French Energy Transition Law are achieved, and will be even greater if France extends its objectives to develop renewable energy and commits to a scenario that is 100% renewable).
While emissions from the transport sector continue to rise, decarbonising transport not only in France but also in Europe will be key to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement commitments. The Clean Mobility Package, presented by the European Commission in November 2017, recognises the role of electric vehicles to meet the EU’s climate goals. This study confirms that electric vehicles are good for the climate even taking into account emissions from the production of batteries.
The key role of batteries
40% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by an electric vehicle occur during the battery production phase. Therefore, reducing the environmental impact of batteries, the study reveals, has a key role in decarbonising the transport sector and helping to reach the Paris Climate Agreement objectives.
In a period of major growth in the battery electric vehicle market up to 2030, the improvement of energy efficiency of production activities should enable the impact of the vehicle to be reduced by 20 to 25% up to 2030.
Improving the environmental impact of mineral extraction, developing sustainable batteries in terms of efficiency, weight and use, and the promotion of recycling practices are also part of the answer.
Unleashing battery potential
E-mobility offers a wealth of additional environmental advantages for the French electricity system, the study says:
* The use of vehicle-to-grid services (V2G) can help integrate intermittent energy and stabilise the grid in order to phase-out fossil fuels in the French power sector, either by implementing smart charging or bilateral charging (electricity is exported from the vehicle to the grid). The technical V2G potential in France of 1.3 million vehicles (30% of the stock in 2030) is 45 GWh. Around 10% of this potential could cover the entire needs in terms of primary reserve between 6-8pm during a winter day.
* Second-life batteries for storing electricity can compete as a sustainable and convenient option for renewable energy storage. When a battery loses a quarter of its initial capacity (for example after 10 years), it can be refurbished and used as a renewable energy storage device. Renewable energy can therefore be stored when a surplus is available and then reinjected when demand is high, or it can be used on own use. If all automotive batteries entered in the French market in 2020 are used for renewable energy storage in 2030, the technical annual potential will be 8 TWh, increasing to 37 TWh in 2040 (providing there is enough renewable energy to be stored).
Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation said, “Decarbonising the transport sector is key if we want to be in line with the Paris Agreement. This study shows that electric vehicles can be deployed while respecting our climate and environmental objectives. The collaborative spirit shown throughout this project is what we need to make this ambition come true.”
Jean-Philippe Hermine, Groupe Renault Environment VP concluded, “Electromobility is a vital aspect of accelerating the energy transition and the deployment of renewables.”