Battery electric vehicles are the best option for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Australia and New Zealand, according to new research published in the journal Energy Policy.
A joint study from Australia’s University of Wollongong and the University of Auckland in New Zealand has drawn the conclusion after analysing the carbon footprint of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and, of course, your regular petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE).
As part of the study, researchers did a “well-to-wheel” analysis, in which they measured the carbon emissions from every step of the process including the generation of the electricity itself, and the emissions released through the driving of the vehicles.
It comes as absolutely no surprise to see that internal combustion engine vehicles ranked worst when it comes to emissions, however, the results for the greener options were particularly interesting.
Battery electric vehicles came out on top, but the extent of the emissions benefit was dependent on how intensive the electricity grid was.
Interestingly, Australia’s grid was significantly more intensive than our trans-Tasman mates. This is due to the fact that New Zealand’s electricity grid is largely supplied by renewable energy sources (60 per cent hydroelectric, 17 per cent geothermal and 5 per cent wind).
Meanwhile, Australia’s electricity is still largely powered by coal, with renewables only accounting for roughly 30 per cent.
However, even our battery electric vehicles came out on top when compared to other options.
“In both countries, BEVs offer the best option for minimising emissions and ICE-powered vehicles produce the highest emissions,” the research states.
“In the case of Australia, the overall emission from BEVs is lower than that of FCEVs, PHEVs and ICE-powered vehicles, but is still much higher than the emissions in the New Zealand context,” the researchers added.
Although Australia’s BEVs still largely rely on coal-powered electricity grids, the research shows that the benefits of BEVs over other options will only continue to grow as we shift towards renewable electricity.
Across Australia, there are various levels of incentives to encourage uptake of electric vehicles. You can check out the policies state-by-state here.