Delft, The Netherlands --- (METERING.COM) --- February 19, 2010 - Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (EVs, PHEVs) could play a significant role in the move towards sustainable transport and if they run on renewable electricity, they could substantially cut CO2 emissions and improve local air quality.

This is according to a recent report from consultants CE Delft, on commission from Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and Transport & Environment, which says that as there is no simple solution to the challenge of achieving significant CO2 reductions in transport, it has become clear that a large range of efficient and effective CO2 reduction measures will have to be taken.

The report finds that the additional energy demand from electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be less than 2.9 percent to 2020, and specifically in three case studies of France, Germany and the U.K., the extra power demand could be met by existing power plants, in particular if vehicles are charged in base load hours. However, for extra demand in peak hours, an increase in gas-fired power production is most likely in these countries.

To ensure that the additional electricity production for these vehicles is 100 percent green, the best policy option is national regulation to ensure that renewable electricity targets are increased by the additional amount of electricity consumption from the vehicles. Policies aimed at promoting the voluntary purchase of green electricity by electric car owners will also be useful and will help clear the way for more ambitious policies. For example, governments or car dealers can promote the voluntary purchase of green electricity by electric car owners while electricity suppliers, local governments and companies that own and operate charging points can ensure that renewable electricity is used for the charging points for these cars.

Under the current EU regulation on CO2 from cars, an increase in electric vehicle sales will effectively result in less stringent standards for conventional cars. This cancels out the potentially positive impact of electric cars on CO2 emissions and oil consumption in transport. The regulation should be improved by eliminating super credits and the practice of zero counting for electric vehicles.
In addition, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) could be further improved so that actual data is reported on renewable electricity used for vehicle charging. More realistic methodologies should be implemented to take into account the actual energy use and the CO2 emissions of electricity used in these vehicles. This requires smart metering, which is also an important aspect to ensure any future regulation of electricity and to provide an opportunity for demand side management.

An important issue for further research and development at both the EU and national level is the potential, feasibility and cost of using EV and PHEV batteries renewable energy storage in the longer term. The appropriate technology, infrastructure and standards need to be developed in the coming years to ensure that they are implemented and fully operational as the share of variable renewable energy supply increases. This would, among other things, allow active management on the demand side, which is set to become an important ingredient in a future electricity system.