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Emissions from producing electricity to charge EVs drops by two-thirds

Date: 30 August 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Emissions from producing electricity to recharge electric vehicles has fallen by two-thirds in the last five years thanks to more renewable energy replacing coal.

That's according to energy supplier Drax and researchers at Imperial College London. According to their quarterly Electric Insights report, power produced from April to June this year generated 199g/km of CO2 per kW/h, 10% lower than the previous best recorded last year.

According to the report, a BMW i3 emits 27g/km of CO2 when taking into account the emissions used to create the electricity to charge the vehicle, compared with 81g/km of CO2 in the 2012/13 winter months.

Emissions from the UK's most popular plug-in hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, fell from 87g/km in winter 2012/13 to 29g/km this summer, Drax added.

The research also states that emissions from charging a Tesla Model S have fallen from 124g/km of CO2 in winter 2012/13 to 41g/km of CO2 this summer.

"It is widely accepted that electric cars dramatically reduce air pollution in cities, but there is still some debate about how clean they actually are - it varies depending on where the electricity to charge them with comes from," said Dr Ian Staffell, lecturer in sustainable energy at Imperial College London. "According to our analysis, looking at a few of the most popular models, they weren't as green as you might think up until quite recently, but now, thanks to the rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation in the UK, they are much better."

He added: "Smaller electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 can be charged for less than half the CO2 of the cleanest non-electric car on the market - the Toyota Prius."

Drax - which operates the UK's largest power station - said that more than two-thirds of the power it produces is renewable, with the firm producing 17% of the country's renewable energy in the first half of the year.

Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power, said: "It's very exciting to see from this analysis how we at Drax are contributing to helping the UK to decarbonise. Our biomass generating units deliver carbon savings of 68% compared to gas power stations and more than 80% compared to when they used coal."

He added: "Biomass is cost effective, reliable and flexible - this is important not just in terms of reducing emissions in the energy sector, but also the far reaching impacts this can have in transforming other sectors like the automotive and rail industries."