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How climate-friendly are electric cars? It all boils down to where you live.

How climate-friendly are electric cars? It all boils down to where you live.

How climate-friendly is an electric car? It all comes down to where you live

If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle, whether due to soaring fuel prices or to lower your greenhouse gas emissions, where you live can make a huge difference to how climate-friendly your car is.

Research is ongoing reveals having an electric vehicle would mean less emissions than a fossil-fuelled car – but the The extentThe extent to which electric vehicles can reduce emissions varies from one state to the next. It all depends on how much electricity is produced from renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro.

Australia-wide, electric vehicles produce 29-41% less emissions per kilometre than a traditional fossil-fuelled vehicle. It is likely that Tasmania will see the greatest drop in emissions, with 70-77% fewer per kilometre.

This information is important for meeting climate targets, because Australia’s on-road fleet is different from the more commonly assessed fleets in the United States, Europe or Asia in terms of vehicle size, fuel type, emission standards and fuel quality.

Australia’s electric vehicle uptake

Australia won’t meet its climate target of net-zero emissions by 2050 without an overhaul of transport, as the sector Around 17% of national emissions are attributed to this sector. Passenger cars account for approximately half of all transport emissions.

Rising petrol prices could be just what we need to encourage public sentiment towards electric cars in Australia, which have lower carbon footprints.




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In just two years, electric car sales have risen by 50% TripledFrom 6,900 in 2020 up to 20,665 2021 Yet, they still only account for 2% market share in new cars.

This is a far cry away from the Rest of the worldLast year, 6.6 million electric vehicles sold worldwide. China was home to more than half of these electric vehicles.

A new Tesla Gigafactory for electric vehicles in Gruenheide (Germany) that aims at producing 500,000 vehicles a calendar year.
AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File

A variety of financial incentives are available to help you. Canberrans led AustaliaIn the number of electric cars purchased per capita. Motorists purchased 825 new electric vehicles in the territory last year, accounting more than 5%.

Queensland may also see an increase in uptake, as the Palaszczuk government announced last month. Package for electric vehicles up to A$55 MillionThe incentives include a $3,000 incentive to purchase a car, and $10 million for new charging infrastructure.

Comparing car emissions per km

To compare the potential emission reductions in each state Transport Energy/Emission Research (TER) conducted a so-called “Life cycle assessment”. This considers all aspects of a vehicle’s life – from production, to operational use (driving it), to when it gets scrapped.

While life cycle assessments provide a holistic way to look at emissions, some studies have reached contradicting conclusions. TER combined a life-cycle assessment with a probabilistic analysis to present our findings as a range possible, but realistic outcomes.

For a car that is fossil-fuelled in Australia, the average carbon emissions per kilometre is 349-390g. This is Made upAbout:

  • 72% for operation
  • Vehicle manufacture: 13%
  • 14% for fossil-fuel production and distribution.

A typical Australian fossil-fuelled car can emit up to 390 grams per kilometre.
Shutterstock

On the other hand, an average battery electric car is expected to emit around 221-255 grams per km. This is Made upAbout:

  • 69% for operational usage
  • Vehicle manufacturing: 23%
  • 7% for electricity distribution and production

Infrastructure and vehicle disposal (scrappage), are estimated to contribute less than 1% for both vehicle types.

These estimates are higher that what has been reported. European studies, reflecting Australia’s unique conditions, including high carbon intensity from coal-based electricity generation, and different fleet characteristics such as having heavier and larger cars than Europe.

Comparing each jurisdiction

The good news is, in all Australian jurisdictions, emissions released from the beginning to the end of the electric vehicle’s life are expected to be significantly less than for fossil-fuelled cars. Each jurisdiction will have a different extent of reducing emissions.

Tasmania will have the largest reductions in carbon emissions. It has more than 80% electricity from hydroelectricity. Wind contributes about 10%.

South Australia comes in second place, with electric cars releasing 55-66% fewer emissions per kilometre than those powered by fossil-fuelled vehicles. This is because electric vehicles emit 55-66% less emissions per kilometre than fossil-fuelled cars. significant portion of SA’s electricity comes from wind (about 40%) and solar (more than 10%).



On the other end, the majority of electricity generated in Victoria and New South Wales is currently from coal-fired power station.

Yet, electric vehicle adoption is expected to decrease by around 9-31% in Victoria and 17-39% for NSW. As the electricity generation system becomes more decarbonized, these values will rise.

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Squandering our potential

Australia is home to huge potentialWe have wide open spaces, sunny skies, and windy coasts that make it ideal for a sustainable industry in the renewables sector.

TER also considered a future scenario where the national electricity mix was generated with approximately 10% fossil fuels and 90% of renewable energy (solar wind, hydro, biomass). This scenario will see electric vehicles across the country contributing between 74%-80% to reducing carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, Australia is still very far from this reality. The majority of 2020 cars sold were Large SUVs that are fossil-fuelledWith High greenhouse gas emissionsBecause of their size or weight

Fossil fuel-guzzling SUVs were the most sold car in Australia in 2020.
Shutterstock

What’s more, fleet turnover is a slow process. According to the Australian Motor Vehicle Census, the Average ageAustralian cars last about ten to fifteen years on average. Attrition rateOnly about 4% per annum

It means that even if all passenger vehicle sales today were electric, it would take more ten years for Australia’s road fleet to become fully electric.




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It is urgent that efforts to increase the share of electric vehicles within the Australian fleet are intensified, along with a rapid decarbonisation and reorganization of the electricity grid. These should be completed. Align with international emission standardsTo reduce delays and increase productivity Selection and availabilityElectric vehicles in Australia

This will ensure we’ll have at least made a significant start with emission reductions in the road transport sector by 2030.

If Australia was serious about reducing emissions – fast – rolling out electric vehicles could perhaps focus on states with the lowest carbon intensity. But given the slow fleet turnover and the current state of play, it’s essential electrification starts everywhere, now.

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