Greening transport with more electric vehicles © weseetheworld

A large scale roll-out of electric cars on EU roads would result in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower levels of certain air pollutants.

A new briefing from the European Environment Agency (EEA) looks at the impact of different scenarios for the increased use of electric cars and their effect on the EU’s energy system, and on emissions of greenhouse gases and selected air pollutants.

Two scenarios were explored where the share of electric vehicles as part of the entire EU car fleet in 2050 on average was assumed to be respectively 50 and 80 per cent. They were compared with a reference projection in which only 8 per cent of cars would be electric in 2050.

Under the 80-per-cent scenario, the share of total electricity consumption in the EU by electric vehicles would increase from around 0.03 per cent in 2014, to 9.5 per cent by 2050. Overall, an additional electrical capacity of 150 GW would be needed in 2050 to charge electric cars.

The resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions from road transport would outweigh the higher emissions caused by the continued use of fossil fuels in the power-generating sector. In the EU, a net reduction of 255 million tonnes of CO2 could be delivered in 2050, equivalent to around 10 per cent of the total emissions estimated for that year. However in countries with a high share of fossil power plants, environmental benefits would be lower.

An 80 per cent share of electric cars would also significantly reduce overall emissions of certain air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, while emissions of sulphur dioxide could increase due to the continued use of coal in the electricity generation sector.

Sales and use of electric vehicles are increasing, but they currently only make up 1.2 per cent of total passenger car sales in the EU. Current estimates also show that electric cars only account for 0.15 per cent of the total car fleet.

Source: EEA News, 26 Sep 2016.
EEA Briefing:


In this issue