Four cru­cial steps to a car­bon-neu­tral e‑mobility industry

The elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the auto­mo­tive indus­try is a sub­ject which con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the minds of world lead­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those of tra­di­tion­al com­bus­tion engine pro­duc­ing coun­tries such as Ger­many and Chi­na. As more reg­u­la­tions and leg­is­la­tions are rolled out, and CO2 emis­sion tar­gets are put in place around the world, the com­plete phase-out of com­bus­tion engines is inevitable.

Sales of bat­tery elec­tric vehi­cles (BEVs) and plu­g­in hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles (PHEVs) are increas­ing. In fact, by 2025 it is esti­mat­ed that 30% of all vehi­cle sales glob­al­ly will be BEVs and PHEVs. Com­par­a­tive­ly, in 2016 just under 1 mil­lion vehi­cles, or 1% of glob­al auto sales, came from elec­tric vehi­cles.

But is the uptake in EVs hap­pen­ing fast enough? And what still needs to hap­pen in order to achieve a pros­per­ous, car­bon-neu­tral e‑mobility indus­try?

1. Improved bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy
These days, bat­tery capac­i­ty, pow­er, longevi­ty and dis­pos­al are top­ics fre­quent­ly men­tioned as poten­tial issues with e‑mobility. How­ev­er, bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy con­tin­ues to improve, which leads to reduced costs for con­sumers. It won’t be long before a bat­tery capa­ble of under­tak­ing a 300–500km jour­ney can be charged in just 10 min­utes.

2. Ambi­tious poli­cies and tighter reg­u­la­tions
Coun­tries lead­ing the e‑mobility tran­si­tion use a com­bi­na­tion of pol­i­cy and reg­u­la­tion to nudge the mar­ket towards elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. For exam­ple, Nor­way uses mea­sures such as tax deduc­tions, pur­chase aids and oth­er ben­e­fits includ­ing free park­ing and charg­ing, free fer­ries and access to bus lanes for EVs. These eco­nom­ic instru­ments help bridge the cost gap between EVs and con­ven­tion­al vehi­cles.

3. Decar­boniza­tion of elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion
The chang­ing gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric­i­ty con­tin­ues to play a crit­i­cal role in influ­enc­ing the growth and suc­cess of e‑mobility. The total green­house gas (GHS) emis­sions pro­duced from an EV are deter­mined by the com­bi­na­tion of the vehicle’s ener­gy con­sump­tion and the car­bon inten­si­ty of elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion. Basi­cal­ly, as elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion becomes less car­bon-inten­sive, so do EVs. Despite the com­par­a­tive advan­tage of EVs in terms of GHG emis­sions, we won’t see the actu­al ben­e­fits of the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of trans­porta­tion on cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion just yet. We must con­tin­ue to work towards the decar­boniza­tion of glob­al pow­er sys­tems.

4. Dis­trib­uted ener­gy sys­tems
A ful­ly decar­bonized ener­gy sys­tem will involve many new play­ers in addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al ener­gy sup­pli­ers, mak­ing the grid more com­plex than ever before. E‑mobility is an impor­tant ele­ment in this more dis­trib­uted ener­gy sys­tem. Not only does charg­ing infra­struc­ture need to be account­ed for and reg­u­lat­ed effec­tive­ly, but we also need to ful­ly real­ize the poten­tial for EVs as ener­gy stor­age units. Dis­trib­uted ener­gy sys­tems require seam­less­ly inte­grat­ed tech­nol­o­gy and will­ing politi­cians and indus­try to succeed.

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Reimag­ine Ener­gy — The e‑mobility edition

Arti­cles about:
E‑mobility trends

The Ger­man smart meter roll­out

Inter­views with:
Elmar Möller about plans, hur­dles, con­cerns and ben­e­fits of enter­ing the ener­gy mar­ket

Michael Lehmann of MIT­NETZ Strom talks about flex­i­ble tar­iffs and the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges of e‑mobility for region­al pow­er sys­tem man­age­ment

Hans Krüger, Direc­tor Prod­ucts at Kiwigrid, talks about the smart meter roll­out in Ger­many, the remain­ing chal­lenges and the poten­tial of val­ue-added services 

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