Journal article

Assessing greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicle operation in Australia using temporal vehicle charging and electricity emission characteristics

Transport Electric vehicles Greenhouse gases Smart grid Australia

Significant interest exists in the potential for electric vehicles (EVs) to be a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement. In order to establish the extent to which EVs will deliver abatement, however, a realistic understanding of the electricity and transport sector GHG emissions impacts arising from different approaches to integrating EVs into the power system is required. A key issue in this regard is the extent to which GHG emissions are a function of where and when EV charging will be enabled (or disabled) by the provision of recharging infrastructure and implementation of charging management strategies by the electricity industry.

This article presents an investigation of the GHG emissions arising from electricity and gasoline consumption by plug-in hybrid EVs under a range of standard EV-power system integration scenarios. An assessment framework is presented, and GHG emissions from EV use are assessed for the New South Wales (NSW) and South Australian (SA) pools of the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) using retrospective electricity system generation data for 2011.

Results highlight that there is a range of possible outcomes depending on the integration scenario and emissions accounting approach used. This range illustrates value of a temporally explicit assessment approach in capturing the temporal alignment of electricity sector emission intensity and EV charging. Results also show the importance of a clean electricity generation mix in order for EVs to provide a GHG abatement benefit beyond what would be achieved by a hybrid (but non-plug-in) vehicle. The extent to which overnight charging in NSW is observed to produce higher emissions relative to unmanaged charging also illustrates a possible trade-off between GHG emissions and benefits for electricity industry from EV charging at times of low demand.

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