Impact Of Large-Scale EV Roll-Out On Energy Sector And Emissions In Europe

OCT 26 2016 BY MARK KANE 23

The European Environment Agency (EEA) sees electric cars combined with renewable energy sources as a major leverage point for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and also a way to the lowering of certain other air pollutants.

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

However the assessment also notes challenges ahead for Europe’s power grid as a result, which may need to increase power generation accordingly.

Assuming EVs would stand for 80% of cars in 2050, electricity demand for EVs in EU would increase to 9.5% of the total demand…which honestly doesn’t seem like all that much additional capacity to add over the next ~35 years.

“Several scenarios were explored, including one model where electric cars have an 80% share of the EU’s total car fleet in 2050. Additional electricity generation will be required in the EU to meet the higher energy demand. The need for extra power will be higher if other sectors like industry or households do not follow through on planned energy efficiency improvements. The use of renewable energy in 2050 will also have an effect on the level of emissions from the power-generating sector.

Overall, the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions in the road transport sector would outweigh the higher emissions caused by the continued use of fossil fuels in the power-generating sector. In the EU, a net reduction of 255 million tonnes of CO2 could be delivered in 2050. This amount is equivalent to around 10% of the total emissions estimated for that year. However in countries with a high share of fossil power plants, environmental benefits would be lower. This would also lower the benefits of using electric vehicles in these countries.

An 80 % share of electric vehicles would also significantly reduce overall emissions of certain air pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). For other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), emissions could increase due to the continued use of coal in the electricity generation sector.

A larger number of electric cars on the road may pose future challenges for Europe’s power production capacities and put stress on existing power grids. Under the 80% scenario, the share of Europe’s total electricity consumption from electric vehicles would increase from around 0.03% in 2014, to 9.5% by 2050. A more extensive infrastructure providing more public charging points would be key as well as increased power capacity able to handle a larger European car fleet. The assessment stresses that closer coordination between the road transport and energy sectors on policy making and investments will be crucial.”

The report “Electric vehicles and the energy sector – impacts on Europe’s future emissions” also notes that EVs will benefit from the lowering of CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), while sulphur dioxide (SO2) will probably increase in countries that continue the use of coal.

Main messages

Electric vehicles powered by renewable energy sources can play an important role in EU plans to:

  • move towards a decarbonised transport system;
  • meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-95 % by 2050.

The growth in electric vehicle use will result in extra energy demand in the European Union (EU-28): Europe’s total electricity consumption by electric vehicles will increase from approximately 0.03 % in 2014 to 9.5 % in 2050.

An increase in electric vehicle use will result in:

  • lower CO2 and air pollutant emissions from the road transport sector itself;
  • higher emissions from associated electricity production;
  • an overall net benefit in terms of lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the air pollutants nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM);
  • an overall increase in sulphur dioxide (SO2) due to emissions from the electricity-generating sector.

source: European Environment Agency (EEA) via Green Car Congress

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23 Comments on "Impact Of Large-Scale EV Roll-Out On Energy Sector And Emissions In Europe"

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EVs Will increase power needs by 10%.
How much Will power needs from refining decrease?

How % chances of survival for us with oil burning fast decrease?

Power needs from refining will decrease to less than 1/5th of today’s levels.

But that will have marginal impact since it would be less than 1% reduction of those 10%, not percentage points but percent.
So the increase will “only” be 9,99% instead of 10%.

The massive amount of external power used by refineries is just a myth. And just like we don’t want myths about EVs spread we should not add to this myth.


Seem to recall Fully Charged or someone else calculated that 4 kWh was user per liter petrol, but 3 kWh was produced in the same process, mankind the external need 1 kWh per liter.
Not wild, but worth counting.

It varies from one refinery to the next. Some refineries export electricity.

It look like you’r wrong!

The needed power will also be reduce by less transport, extraction, pumping AND refining.
The energy usage of all that process isn’t all electric for sure, but nonetheless, less fossil fuel use for refining is adding up too.
And it’s seems it’s a valuable amount of energy.
This source total energy in it.
Still, it doesn’t count the exploration, extraction, transport and so on.
Can we add spill!

I was only commenting on external electricity used for refining. That was what my and the original comment was about which is also very clear.

If you want to add topics you are welcome, but “you are wrong” is clearly not right.

And thank you for adding a source which supports my comment. 0,2 kwh/gallon-0,9 kWh/gallon. And external energy is often about 1/3 to half of all electricity used in refineries.

The whole process should of course die out, there is nothing good about using fossil oil as a fuel but the impact on the electrical grid when the refineries stop will be marginal.

Some basic calculation based on german numbers:

Electricy used 2015 ( 600 TWh
+13% means adding another 78 TWh

We used 30,5 Mio t diesel and 17,9 Mio t gasoline in 2015 (, that is equal to
36,3 million liter diesel
23,9 million liter gasoline

Insiting we need 1kWh per liter we would need 1GWh or 0.001 TWh to produce a million liter. That means we needed around 0.06TWh for producing all gasoline and diesel we consumed.

0.06 TWh reduction to 78 TWh increase. I would say that is pretty close to the 99.9% you suggested. According to the calculation is not even 0.1% but only 0.08%

Refineries are not distributed equally in every country, though.

Solar roofs are the answer

Hardly… most of those countries are at latitudes where solar is fairly useless.

And some of the southern countries already have solar at levels fairly close to their natural saturation point. Solar will help though, being a small portion of the answer which consists of many different ways to generate (and to a certain degree store) energy.

Aside from Northern Sweden, Northern GB, Finnland and the Baltic states, Solar is an option in Europe. Not as much power as in California, but profitable due to high electricity cost. Notably, the adoption rate of solar on private roofs in Germany is much larger than in sunny Spain, as Spain makes it problematic to dump excess power to the grid. Storage will change that soon. Hence I expect to see plenty of Powerwall sales in Europe soon.

Yes, there is also the “dirt cheap” factor: at certain price points, you will stop caring if your solar panels don’t work well at your lattitude, and just deploy more of them.

Germany has around 1000kWh/a per kWp installed.

Germany as more solar panels per person than any other country in Europe and at contrary Spain and Italy are nowhere near saturation, in fact Spain and Italy are closer to zero panels per person than to saturation.
The potential in Europe is just enormous.

Even in germany we are far from reachin PV saturation. Production could be increased by a factor of 3 (actual around 10%, 30% of total electricity production by solar is easy doable) without destabilizing the grid and area is also enough available.

We have around 27 GW installed on roofs and there is area for another 75GW on the roofs alone. (source:,property=pdf,bereich=bmwi2012,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf)

Don’t forget energy efficiency upgrades along the way. There has been a substantial amount of enegy not used due to efficiency improvements in the last few years.

Now, if we could stop building enormous homes on equally large lots, we could do better, quicker.

This isn’t about US electricity consumption, but EU consumption.

If you’ve ever been to Europe, you would already know that “enormous homes on enormous lots” isn’t really a thing there.

Yeah, there are not castles, chateaus, or summer residencies in Europe, at all!

2050 eh?

There’s good indications that by 2030, the entire *grid* will be obsolete, with the way solar and battery storage are getting cheaper. As it stands now, large electricity consumers are snapping up renewables as fast as they can, and not bothering to share them with the rest of the grid.

Here’s a nice video about that:

Ditto on this. This study, and many like it, are based on static analysis. What is changing dynamically is solar power generation, which even in Europe will be taking a bigger and bigger share of power generation due to rooftop installation.

By 2050, you will be blinded by the sun reflecting off the things when you come into the airport.

solar installation is decreasing rapidly in germany from once (2010/2011) 8GW/a to now 2GW/a due to import tarifs on chinese modules and continous decreasing funding.