According to a report written by Ricardo, the CO2 emissions of manufacturing an average electric car are approximately 50% higher than the average petrol car, half of which stems from the production of the battery. However, these higher production emissions are mitigated over the lifecycle of the vehicles due to the lower in-use emissions, resulting in lower overall emissions for an electric car of around 30%.
The electricity used to charge electric vehicles ultimately comes from a range of sources within the grid, some of which use fossil fuels. However, in a country such as the UK with a mixed energy grid, electric vehicles are much cleaner than their petrol or diesel counterparts.
Of electricity generated in 2017, gas accounted for 39.7% whilst coal accounted for only 6.7%. Renewable electricity generation was 98.9 TWh in 2017, a record high, and up nearly a fifth, due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds.
Renewables’ share of electricity generation is 29.4%, second only to gas. Nuclear remains broadly steady at 20.9%.
Furthermore, as the grid decarbonises with the increased use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, an electric vehicle’s emissions will continue to reduce over time.
A number of charging networks such as Ecotricity and the POLAR network exclusively use renewable energy.