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Well-to-wheels energy consumption and emissions of electric vehicles: Mid-term implications from real-world features and air pollution control progress


  • Ke, Wenwei
  • Zhang, Shaojun
  • He, Xiaoyi
  • Wu, Ye
  • Hao, Jiming


Previous well-to-wheels (WTW) analyses on electric vehicles (EVs) have reported tremendous results of potential energy and environmental effects. However, there remains a challenge to lower the uncertainties that were introduced when obtaining life-cycle parameters from a macro perspective (e.g., nationwide or regional scales). This study takes Beijing as a case, because it is an important regional hub for EV promotion and represents megacities with severe urban air pollution issues and congested traffic conditions. We collected up-to-date data concerning the electricity generation mix, fuel transport, end-of-pipe controls, real-world fuel economy and emissions, and estimated the WTW energy consumption and CO2 and air pollutant emissions for various light-duty passenger vehicle technologies currently (2015) and in the mid-term future (2030). Unlike previous results, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are shown to significantly reduce WTW CO2 emissions by 32% for the present model year (MY) 2015 compared with their conventional gasoline counterparts, primarily due to the shift from coal to gas in local power plants in Beijing and the significantly higher real-world fuel consumption of conventional vehicles compared with the type-approval value. By 2030, WTW CO2 emissions by BEVs should approach 100gkm−1 due to the increased importation of non-fossil electricity, even lower than that of hybrid electric vehicles. Furthermore, significant improvements in end-of-pipe controls for coal-fired power plants have effectively lowered WTW emissions of air pollutants. In terms of VOCs and NOX that are of most concerns among all pollutants emitted from passenger vehicles, the WTW emissions of VOCs for MY 2015 BEV are already significantly lower than their conventional counterparts by 95%. Although WTW NOX emissions for BEVs are currently higher by 66% than conventional gasoline vehicles, we expect that BEVs can achieve WTW emission reduction benefit of NOX (41%) by 2030. This study indicates the significance of fine-grained and real-world features when assessing the WTW energy and environmental effects of EVs.

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  • Ke, Wenwei & Zhang, Shaojun & He, Xiaoyi & Wu, Ye & Hao, Jiming, 2017. "Well-to-wheels energy consumption and emissions of electric vehicles: Mid-term implications from real-world features and air pollution control progress," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 367-377.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:188:y:2017:i:c:p:367-377
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.12.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Tianduo Peng & Sheng Zhou & Zhiyi Yuan & Xunmin Ou, 2017. "Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis of Multiple Vehicle Fuel Pathways in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-24, November.
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    5. Feiqi Liu & Fuquan Zhao & Zongwei Liu & Han Hao, 2018. "China’s Electric Vehicle Deployment: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(12), pages 1-19, November.
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    9. Audoly, Richard & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Guivarch, Céline & Pfeiffer, Alexander, 2018. "Pathways toward zero-carbon electricity required for climate stabilization," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 884-901.
    10. Sun, Lishan & Wang, Shunchao & Liu, Shuli & Yao, Liya & Luo, Wei & Shukla, Ashish, 2018. "A completive research on the feasibility and adaptation of shared transportation in mega-cities – A case study in Beijing," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 230(C), pages 1014-1033.
    11. Li, Lin & Dababneh, Fadwa & Zhao, Jing, 2018. "Cost-effective supply chain for electric vehicle battery remanufacturing," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 226(C), pages 277-286.
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    14. Kalghatgi, Gautam, 2018. "Is it really the end of internal combustion engines and petroleum in transport?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 965-974.
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    16. Falcão, Eduardo Aparecido Moreira & Teixeira, Ana Carolina Rodrigues & Sodré, José Ricardo, 2017. "Analysis of CO2 emissions and techno-economic feasibility of an electric commercial vehicle," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 297-307.
    17. Choi, Wonjae & Song, Han Ho, 2018. "Well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions of battery electric vehicles in countries dependent on the import of fuels through maritime transportation: A South Korean case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 230(C), pages 135-147.
    18. Moretti, Christian & Moro, Alberto & Edwards, Robert & Rocco, Matteo Vincenzo & Colombo, Emanuela, 2017. "Analysis of standard and innovative methods for allocating upstream and refinery GHG emissions to oil products," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 206(C), pages 372-381.
    19. Onat, Nuri Cihat & Kucukvar, Murat & Aboushaqrah, Nour N.M. & Jabbar, Rateb, 2019. "How sustainable is electric mobility? A comprehensive sustainability assessment approach for the case of Qatar," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 250(C), pages 461-477.
    20. Pan, Lingying & Liu, Pei & Li, Zheng, 2018. "A discussion on China's vehicle fuel policy: Based on the development route optimization of refining industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 403-412.
    21. Arminda Almeida & Nuno Sousa & João Coutinho-Rodrigues, 2019. "Quest for Sustainability: Life-Cycle Emissions Assessment of Electric Vehicles Considering Newer Li-Ion Batteries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(8), pages 1-19, April.
    22. He, Liqiang & Hu, Jingnan & Zhang, Shaojun & Wu, Ye & Zhu, Rencheng & Zu, Lei & Bao, Xiaofeng & Lai, Yitu & Su, Sheng, 2018. "The impact from the direct injection and multi-port fuel injection technologies for gasoline vehicles on solid particle number and black carbon emissions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 226(C), pages 819-826.
    23. Saw, Lip Huat & Ye, Yonghuang & Yew, Ming Chian & Chong, Wen Tong & Yew, Ming Kun & Ng, Tan Ching, 2017. "Computational fluid dynamics simulation on open cell aluminium foams for Li-ion battery cooling system," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 204(C), pages 1489-1499.


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