< Back to News Archive

posted on:

Electric vehicles produce more emissions


A report by the Victorian Government’s Department of Transport has found that if electric cars are charged by connecting directly to the electricity grid, the electricity they consume emits more carbon than the exhaust of a petroleum-fired, internal-combustion engine.

This is due to the high carbon intensity of the Victorian portion of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and its abundance of brown-coal generation. Carbon intensity is a measure of the tonnage of carbon dioxide emitted in the creation of one Megawatt of electricity. During September 2012, the carbon intensity for the Victorian section of the NEM was 118% compared to 86% for the entire National Electricity Market and 46% is South Australia where the is a large amount of wind power installed. Tasmania, with its largest proportion of hydroelectric assets was the lowest with 5%. This means that Victoria’s generation mix is the largest emitter of carbon in the NEM.

During Thursday the 29th of November when the temperature peaked at 39.6 degrees and prices for wholesale electricity shot up to $9,974 per MWh, the electricity flowing into Victorian air-conditioners was predominantly generated from the combustion of fossil fuels. 64% came from Brown Coal, 11% from Natural Gas, 24% from Hydro and the rest from wind; less than 1%. This means 75% of Victorian electricity is supplied from sources that emit carbon into the atmosphere. The majority coming from AGL’s Loy Yang power station, with EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn providing the next largest share.

In order for electric vehicles to overcome their dependence on carbon intensive sources, renewable on-site generation in the form of solar PV or small-scale solar remains the best way to circumvent emissions. Currently Melbourne remains lacking in these resources and investment in on-site renewable sources is needed before any effective roll-out of carbon abating vehicles can be realized.