Electric cars: dispute over carbon footprint

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On July 21, the EU Commission wants a draft for the future CO2– Submit reductions. In the run-up to this, proponents of a strict climate policy are just as warm as those who warn against hasty steps. A central role, as much can already be seen, will be played by the proportion of traffic. A draft is not yet a law, but there is still a lot of political explosives in the plan. It is to be expected that the commissioners will come up with ambitious proposals for CO2-Reduction will enter the negotiations. It’s correspondingly excited in the run-up to the upcoming debate.

One of the points of contention concerns the CO2-Balance of electric cars. Professor Thomas Koch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and colleagues accused the EU Commission of a fundamental calculation error in an open letter. Professor Christian Rehtanz from the TU Dortmund criticized this: “The letter is extremely embarrassing. It is a scientifically disguised lobbyist letter that tries desperately to save the piston machines (chair denomination of Prof. Koch of the KIT).”

Professor Martin Wietschel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research wrote in an article for the Science Media Center that Koch asked whether the CO2Emissions of the electricity mix as a whole or the CO2-Emission of the limit current mix, i.e. additionally required electricity. There are “arguments for both positions”. However, the scientific standard is the use of average emissions. Because limit current emissions could not be clearly assigned. In addition, e-cars could serve as flexible storage for excess wind and solar energy in the future.

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Koch and other scientists had criticized the CO2-Emissions from electrical consumers would be calculated far too low using a simplified mean value approach. Patrick Jochem from the German Aerospace Center wrote: “The article takes up a valid point”, but falls short at one point. Because electric cars could accelerate the energy transition in power generation and lead to negative marginal emissions, “especially if the electric cars are integrated into the energy system as mobile storage devices”.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) estimates that for every kilowatt hour generated in the German electricity mix last year, 366 grams of CO2 have accrued. For 2019, the UBA is assuming 408 grams. This can be attributed to the expansion of renewable electricity generation. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, the expansion and dismantling of the net output installed in this country looked as follows last year:

  • Biomass: 0.1
  • Nuclear energy: -1.4
  • Lignite: -0.6
  • Bituminous coal: 1
  • Gas: 0,4
  • Wind: 1.7 (on- and offshore)
  • Solar: 4,9

All figures in gigawatts


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