The Role of Electric Vehicles in Achieving Climate Goals

The Role of Electric Vehicles in Achieving Climate Goals


R Witzig, Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen, DE


We analyze the effect of a large number of electric vehicles on climate goals. Our model contains the impact on the structure of power plants, changing demand of vehicle mileage, total energy demand and CO2-emissions in private transport.


"The intensifying climate change comes along with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. The transport sector?s substantial role in this context leads to the imperative to decrease the energy demand in transportation considerably. The changeover from cars with combustion engines to electric vehicles is currently strongly supported by politics, also being justified with the positive effects on climate goals that would come with it. This raises high expectations in media, industry, society and lobby groups. We want to analyze its actual impact on climate goals, as well as its side effects and possible counter-productive interactions with other system elements of transportation.
In a first step we examine several actions for reducing energy demand in transportation and their effects by means of a qualitative sensitivity analysis. Although being strongly financially supported by the German government, this analysis shows that electric vehicles do not contribute significantly to reduce the total energy demand in transport. We would like to investigate this controversial correlation. Speaking for electric vehicles, there is the comparably low energy demand for the end user and the theoretical option to operate electric vehicles independently of fossil fuels. Also, due to the current electricity price, operational costs driving an electric vehicle would be much cheaper compared to a conventional car. However, this could also result in an increasing vehicle mileage. The future structure of power plants which would be necessary to meet the increasing demand of electricity is another important variable to be analyzed. In turn, these factors would counterbalance today?s linear estimations regarding CO2-emissions, electricity price and demand of fossil fuels. Since the qualitative sensitivity analysis does not account for all of those factors, we use a more detailed model for further inspections. This model contains the feedback of electricity demand, electricity price, price elasticity of mobility and the changing demand of electric mobility helps to analyze these interactions and impacts.
The obtained results of the detailed simulation give an insight into the impacts of one particular action, namely the changeover to electric vehicles. However, the meaning of this eventual success in the overall context of climate goals needs to be observed separately. Again, for this task a cybernetic model using a qualitative sensitivity analysis is a useful approach.
This research work is a part of the interdisciplinary research project ?Energy 2030? of the International Graduate School of Science and Engineering (IGSSE). In this research group, 8 researchers from 5 different faculties are modelling and simulation scenarios for energy demand in 2030. The work presented in this paper covers the key aspects of the transportation oriented part of the project ?Energy 2030?."


Association for European Transport