Electromobility has clear economic advantages

Goals of Climate Action Plan can only be achieved through an energy transformation in the transport sector

electric carClick to enlarge
Climate-neutral transport in Germany is possible by 2050. Electromobility provides the best answer.
Source: Michael Flippo / Fotolia.com

The Climate Action Plan of the Federal Government shows that the transport sector urgently requires a change of direction. The sector reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by only two per cent between 1990 and 2014, although the goal is to achieve reductions of 40 to 42 percent compared to the base year (1990) by 2030. Maria Krautzberger, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA), said: “The transport sector needs to produce zero emissions by 2050 if we are really serious about the Climate Action Plan. This means a complete shift away from fossil fuels.” A recent study published by UBA shows how Germany can achieve these goals in the most cost-efficient way. Ms Krautzberger said: “Electromobility is the most economical of all greenhouse gas-neutral solutions.”

Germany’s transport sector must become greenhouse gas-neutral by 2050 to reach its climate action targets. This will require the use of post fossil fuels and alternative technologies in the sector. The study by the Öko-Institut done on behalf of the German Environment Agency develops a strategic plan for energy supply in the transport sector through 2050 and analyses the economic costs of the necessary energy turnaround in the sector. The analysis calculates the costs of vehicle purchase, the building of filling stations and charging infrastructure, and energy supply for the entire period from 2010 to 2050. All modes of transport were taken into consideration and compared with the costs of the use of petrol, diesel, kerosene or heavy oil fossil fuels.

The research results are clear: electromobility incurs the lowest economic costs to achieve a transformation of energy supply in the transport sector. Ms Krautzberger said: “This is why we must establish electromobility on the market even more quickly than before – and that means buses, trucks and vans, too. A buyer’s premium alone will not be enough if diesel-run cars are subsidised with lower energy taxes at the same time.” She added: “We need legally binding quotas on new vehicle registrations which prescribe how high the share of electric vehicles must be per year.”

In addition to the direct use of electricity in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the study examined the use of fuels based on renewable electricity in conventional combustion engines (Power-to-Liquid and Power-to-Gas methane) and of hydrogen produced from renewable electricity that is used in fuel cell vehicles (Power-to-Gas/hydrogen). The total additional costs of a switch to electric vehicles in the passenger car, van and delivery truck segment are about a quarter less than for vehicles which run on electricity-based energy. In long-haul trucking, the hybrid trolley truck, supplied with electricity from an overhead line on certain stretches of motorway and otherwise run on battery power or combustion engine, even has a cost advantage of about 50 per cent compared to truck types that run on electricity-based fuels.

The in-depth study clearly demonstrates that the total economic costs of building the infrastructure for charging and filling stations and overhead lines – often criticised as problematic – are rather low. The costs for building overhead lines on motorways are less than 15 per cent of the total costs of the switch to hybrid trolley trucks. Ms Krautzberger said: “Energy costs and therefore energy efficiency are decisive for total costs. The lower the energy consumption is the lower the costs of a turnaround in the transport sector.” The study also reaches the conclusion that traffic avoidance strategies, modal shift and improved efficiency are absolutely necessary to achieve decarbonisation of the transport sector.

All of the greenhouse gas-neutral options examined in the study incur additional costs compared to energy supply based on fossil fuels. In the international aviation and shipping transport sectors, only power-generated fuels can be used since less costly electrification is not an option. Ms Krautzberger states: "In the long term, the lower environmental costs incurred because of lower greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution warrant the additional costs in 2010-2050. The sooner we achieve an energy turnaround in transport, the more positive the sector's record will be – for the environment and our economy."


Study „Erarbeitung einer fachlichen Strategie zur Energieversorgung des Verkehrs bis zum Jahr 2050“

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