The Impact of the EU Car CO2 Regulation on the Energy System and the Role of Electro-Mobility to Achieve Transport Decarbonisation

Significance Statement

Several fuel-efficient technologies that can deliver significant reductions in fuel consumption were developed in recent years for standard gasoline vehicles. Other technologies such as full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric have garnered significant attention lately as ways to reduce petroleum consumption, lower consumer fuel costs, standard gasoline vehicles and reduce  CO2 emission targets.

The European Union adopted a CO2 legislation, setting specific CO2 emission targets of the average new fleet at 130 g/km and 95 g/km by the end of 2020 and onwards. The EU proposed to reduce the total GHG emissions in the EU by 40% in 2030 over the 1990 levels.

Christian Thiel and colleagues from Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate, Joint Research Centre – European Commission looked at how the European Union CO2 car legislation, can contribute towards an overall EU 40% greenhouse gases reduction target and how it may foster the deployment of electro-mobility in Europe. The study is now published in peer-reviewed journal, Energy Policy.

The EU policy will have an impact on the technological mix in the transport sector, and also affects the overall energy sector due to the substitution of fuels. The authors used a TIMES based energy system model to analyze the newly introduced policy, they also based their study on a car sector at a much higher technology detail in the context of the car CO2 legislation than employed in previous studies.

The study reported that in all scenarios, electric vehicles become the major powertrain option by 2050 while other cars required higher costs and led to higher emissions. According to the scenarios, electric vehicles will become a cost-efficient technology for decarbonizing the energy system beyond 2035 and a deployment of electric vehicles will sharply increase between 2020-2030 at learning rates > 12.5%, and reaching shares >30% by 2030.

The analysis also showed that regulating CO2 emission from cars is an effective CO2 mitigation policy regarding the total emission abatement that can be achieved not only in cars but also through increased renewable power. C. Thiel: “Electro-mobility can accelerate the deployment of low-carbon power technologies in Europe”.

The authors point out that stricter CO2 emissions limits beyond 2020 can have a positive impact on energy security aspects as it can reduce the consumption of fossil oil based fuels in the EU. Future plans are to increase the accuracy of energy/transport models used in the energy analysis and to address customer behavior and their willingness to invest in low carbon technologies.

The Impact of the EU Car CO2 Regulation on the Energy System and the Role of Electro-Mobility to Achieve Transport Decarbonisation

About the author

Christian Thiel leads the project “Modelling for Smart, Clean, and Efficient Mobility” in the Sustainable Transport Unit of the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. Christian’s research interests are transport decarbonisation, technology innovation, interaction between electro-mobility and the power/energy system. He has published numerous papers and reports in this field. The scientific and technical advice work of Christian and his colleagues supports European policies in the energy and transport field.

Christian joined the European Commission in 2009. Before, he worked 12 years in the automotive industry, amongst others, as European Engineering Project Manager for the Chevrolet Volt/ Opel Ampera.

He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science (Geooekologie) from the Technical University Braunschweig, a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Université Paris VI and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University Frankfurt (Main).

Journal Reference

Christian Thiel1, Wouter Nijs1, Sofia Simoes1, Johannes Schmidt2,  Arnold van Zyl3, Erwin Schmid2, The Impact of the EU Car CO2 Regulation on the Energy System and the Role of Electro-Mobility to Achieve Transport Decarbonisation, Energy Policy 96 (2016) 153–166.

Show Affiliation

1 Institute for Energy and Transport, Joint Research Centre – European Commission, Italy and The Netherlands.

2 University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria.

3 Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW), Stuttgart, Germany.


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