The environmental benefits of electric vehicles come in many forms. These impacts are direct and indirect.
Emissions and air quality
It is often stated that electric vehicles are not 'zero emissions'. This is true, instead they have zero tailpipe emissions. However there are two important points to consider.
- The emissions per km from driving electric is far less than driving petrol or diesel. This is true even when you consider the emissions from the power station.
- EVs have zero tailpipe emissions, saving pedestrians and cyclists from breathing in the dangerous gases.
The elimination of tailpipe emissions has a direct effect on our air quality. Even when emissions from Irish electricity generation are considered, the CO2 emissions from EVs are less than those from the cleanest petrol engines.
*Based on an average grid emission level and equivalent petrol engine
NOx and SOx
Nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides are two of the harmful gases emitted through burning fossil fuels. ICE vehicles on our roads contribute to the NOx and SOx in our atmosphere. By driving an electric vehicle, you can reduce the amount of these harmful gases emitted.
Particulates are emitted by ICE’s, in particular diesel vehicles. These minute soot-like particles are bad for the human respiratory system. Electric vehicles do not pump these particulates into the air on our streets.
Environmental pollution includes noise. The relative quietness of an electric vehicle allows a reduction in the noise levels around us. Elimination of engine noise makes our environment a lot more peaceful. But just in case you are worried that EV's are too quiet, for safety reasons EV's do emit a sound when travelling at low speed.
Less oil, dirt, and parts replacement
No engine oil and the low wear on EV brakes and tyres are further benefits for the environment. Less wear on tyres and brakes means less dust and dirt. This also means we don't need to replace or recycle them as often.
Renewables and our electricity system
The electricity system in Ireland is fuelled by a variety of sources. Some of these sources are cleaner than others. The batteries in an EV can provide some of the solution in moving to renewable energy sources.
By combining communications with existing smart energy technologies, we can match our energy consumption to the availability of renewable energy sources. The vehicle battery will then store the energy until we are ready to use it.
Charging at night means cleaner energy
Overall energy consumption is lower during the night, and that is when wind generation tends to be more prominent in the energy mix. By charging at night, electric vehicles can help the consumption of greater amounts of renewables. This also acts as a buffer to stabilise our electricity system.