Researchers from North Carolina State University in US found that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

“We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions,” said senior author Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor at NC State.

Researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between today and 2050.

They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in a country, there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants, said a paper published in journal Environmental Science and Technology.

'EDVs' includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

“It’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place,” said DeCarolis.

“From a policy standpoint, this study tells us that it makes more sense to set emissions reductions goals, rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they’ll solve the problem on their own,” said DeCarolis.

The key factors in encouraging use of EDVs are oil price and battery cost. If batteries are cheap and oil is expensive, EDVs become more attractive to consumers.

“That’s consistent with results from other studies,” DeCarolis added.


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