The Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Electric Vehicles ...

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  • Title: The Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Electric Vehicles as a Function of Renewable Energy
  • Author(s): Ryan Cornell
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • Keywords: Electric Vehicles, Sustainable Transportation, Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide, Emissions
  • Volume: 11
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 1835-7156 (Print)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-7156/CGP/v11i01/15-24
  • Citation: Cornell, Ryan. 2019. "The Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Electric Vehicles as a Function of Renewable Energy." The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses 11 (1): 15-24. doi:10.18848/1835-7156/CGP/v11i01/15-24.
  • Extent: 10 pages

Abstract

This project quantifies the carbon dioxide emissions produced by electric vehicles (EVs) as a function of renewable energy. These values are compared to the emissions for internal combustion engines (ICE) of varying efficiencies. Many studies quantify carbon dioxide emissions based on a static grid, but this fails to accurately measure the long-term potential of electric vehicles. This model disaggregates grid-based and non-grid-based emissions, which allows production-based emissions to accurately reflect the percentage of renewable energy that is entered into the model. Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET Model and a variety of meta-analyses are used to determine the emissions per kWh and per gallon. The model also allows for the manipulation of a variety of variables other than the percentage of renewable energy, including: EV efficiency, miles per gallon, and battery-based emissions. The lifecycle EV carbon emissions for a vehicle powered by the 2016 US grid is 30.82 metric tons, while the emissions for an EV powered by 100 percent renewable energy is 6.3 metric tons. An average internal combustion engine vehicle (25.4 miles per gallon) is responsible for 68.38 metric tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, while an ICE vehicle with a utopian efficiency of 80 miles per gallon accounts for 25.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide.