Automotive News NZ-EV and the environment: Renewable energy makes all the difference Automotive News NZ |

September 21, 2021 |
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NS Alastair Sloan | And Comment off

The CO2 carbon footprint of a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) powered solely by fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) is similar to that of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE).

However, running a BEV with a combination of fossil fuels and renewable energies (such as coal and hydropower) emits 14% to 22% less CO2 emissions than ICE vehicles.

Powering the same BEV with electricity from renewable energy only (water, geothermal, wind), its life cycle carbon dioxide emissions are more important overall, 53% to 57% lower than ICE vehicles. ..

However, it is the birth and death of BEVs that lose the advantage of CO2 over ICE vehicles, and the energy used to both manufacture and recycle BEVs, including the mining of rare earths, is collectively higher. A Volvo study revealed that. ..

Polestar, the BEV division of the Swedish car manufacturer, used a rating process called Polestar’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to track the environmental impact of cars from the cradle to the graveyard. It didn’t say how it did the math, but it just connected the dots and came up with the number “CO2e” that corresponds to carbon dioxide.

The LCA is based on the World Harmonized Light Vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP), a standard for determining levels of pollutants, CO2 emissions, and fuel consumption in ICE, gasoline-electric hybrids, and BEV vehicles.

Volvo used four vehicles, three Polestar 2 BEV models, each with a powertrain of different capacity, and a 2.0-liter XC40 gasoline-powered SUV for this study.

  • Polestar 2 long range 78kWh dual motor, output 300kW, consumption 19.5-20.3 kWh / 100km, range 480km
  • Polestar 2 long-distance 78kWh single motor, output 170kW, consumption 17.1-18.3kWh / 100km, range 540km
  • Polestar 2 standard range 64kWh single motor, output 165kW, consumption 17.1-18.0 kWh / 100km, range 440km

The Polestar 2 long-range dual motor combined with power generation has a 14% lower carbon footprint than the XC40, but the difference has increased to 21% for long-range single motors and 22% for standard range single motors. ..

When the Polestar 2 vehicle is in operation and charged with wind, it emits 53%, 55% and 57% less carbon dioxide than the XC40, respectively.

Polestar says that combining LCA findings into a single number will help consumers make faster, more knowledgeable decisions when buying a car.


Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath (above) requires other automakers to follow the same LCA process. “Automakers need to take full responsibility. Every week there are new announcements that automakers are turning towards electrification,” he said.

“But it’s not enough to go with electricity alone. Making a car electric is not the end game, it’s the starting point. We need to be honest and transparent.”

Volvo’s calculations show that the LCA of the three Polestar two cars tested is generally lower than the gasoline-powered XC40.

The BEVs all performed better than the XC40 in terms of climate, regardless of whether the electricity used to power them was generated by wind, fossil fuels, or a mixture of both.

Compared to the XC40, all Polestar 2 variants have a lower lifecycle carbon footprint, from a 14% reduction in 78kWh dual motors that use mixed power to a 57% reduction in 64kWh single motors that use only wind. rice field.

  • The carbon footprint of the gasoline XC40 was 58 tonnes CO2e and the birth / death was 15 tonnes CO2e.
  • For mixed power, Polestar 2 emits 50/27 tonnes CO2e for long-range dual motors, 46/26 tonnes CO2e for long-range single motors, and 45/25 tonnes CO2e for standard range single motors.
  • With wind power alone, the dual-motor Polestar 2 had a negligible life cycle footprint, but with the birth / death of 27 tonnes of CO2e. The birth / death of a long-range single motor was 26 ton CO2e, and the birth / death of a standard motor was 25 ton CO2e.

The number of kilometers that the Polestar variant needs to drive to reach the break-even point, even if the XC40 changes with a variant and electrical combination.


The standard range single motor Polestar 2 charged with wind power reaches the break-even point after 40,000 km, while the long-range dual motor Polestar 2 charged with the power mix reaches the break-even point after 110,000 km.

Research can thus conclude: BEVs can provide truly significant environmental benefits only when powered by renewable forms of electricity generation.

• New Zealand generates about 80% of its electricity from renewables, and Loosely is classified as 57% from hydropower, 15% from geothermal and 6% from wind. However, when renewable energy is at stake, for example when the water level that supplies water to hydropower plants drops, more coal is burned to maintain power supply.

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