The development of electric vehicles (EVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)) could enhance fuel diversity and utilise renewable energy, which is considered a promising, long-term solution to reduce high dependence on fossil fuels and alleviate climate change impacts from a global perspective.
In addition, EV deployment is considered capable of improving urban air quality by reducing on-road emissions for traffic-populated areas. Chinese policymakers are aware of the potential environmental benefits of EVs in lessening urban atmospheric pollution. Decade-long discussions regarding whether fleet electrification can deliver actual environmental benefits on a regional scale have been heated during recent years.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) methods were applied to determine the well-to-wheels (WTW) reduction benefits of energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants through electro-mobility. During the initial phase of the project, the full life cycle energy consumption and emissions of CO2 and major air pollutants for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles at national and regional levels in China were estimated to the year 2030. This provides massive policy implications to policymakers in terms of EV promotion. Moreover, these results are in a complex pattern and vary considerably by the power generation mix and vehicle technology. Based on this, the report aims to delve deeper from two different perspectives: methodology and timeframe.
The major purposes of the project were to:
(1) Evaluate the impacts of fleet electrification scenarios on air quality in the Yangtze River Delta and the Jing-Jin-Ji regions through the application of a comprehensive air quality model, and propose recommendations on how electro-mobility in China can provide win-win strategies in both climate and environmental protection.
(2) Update and extend the energy consumption and emission databases of different vehicle propulsion technologies, design vehicle stock and composition, Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT), and fleet electrification scenarios with a long-term perspective until 2050.
Through the project, a China-localised comprehensive database of WTW energy consumption and air pollutant emissions was developed and used to generate the detailed emission inventories as an input for air quality modelling in the mid-term future (2030), and to estimate the fuel cycle energy and environmental impacts of different light-duty vehicle technologies (i.e. ICEVs/EVs) in the long-term future (2050).
Two major issues were answered in the report:
(1) Whether fleet electrification can achieve actual air quality improving benefits in the two typical developed regions in China Yangtze River Delta and Jing-Jin-Ji in the mid-term future (2030).
(2) Whether advanced electric vehicle technologies (PHEVs and BEVs) could realise advantages on saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions over internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) in the long-term future (2050).
The Project Context
The “Impact Assessment of Vehicle Electrification on Regional Air Quality in China and Climate Impact Assessment of Electric Vehicles 2050” was published under the framework of the Sino-German cooperation project on electro-mobility and climate protection. As part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the project has been implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH jointly with the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC).