The environmental problems related to the use of fossil fuels in the transport sector, such as increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution, are becoming more and more visible. In the EU, transport accounts for about one-quarter of total GHG emissions with trends increasing over the last decades. These problems are the major motivation for the growing interest in the electrification of individual mobility.
Although the percentage of electric vehicles (EV) in the global vehicle stock is still very low, about 0.1%, future targets are very ambitions. According to the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change & Call to Action, the goal is to have more than 100 million EVs worldwide by 2030. Currently the most important barriers to a faster market penetration of EVs are the high purchase price, the short driving range, the long charging time, as well as the limited availability of charging infrastructure.
To make alternative powertrains more competitive, different financial and non-financial incentives are being implemented in many countries. However, current policy designs are able to increase the number of EVs but they cannot ensure their environmental benefits. The full benefits of EVs can only be reached only if they are charged solely by electricity generated from renewable energy sources (RES). Although many countries are striving to increase the number of EVs, it is important to recognize that a significant positive impact on the environment can be ensured only in countries with a high percentage of RES in the electricity mix.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that the current problems in the transport sector cannot be solved by merely switching to new automotive technologies. We will also need a change in our attitude towards mobility.
Dr. Amela Ajanovic, Associate Prof. of Energy Economics, TU Wien, Austria.
Lecturer and faculty member of the MSc Program “Renewable Energy Systems”