Renewable energy for electric cars?
Sir, – The European Environment Agency (EEA) report described in your articles (Home News, December 4th) provides much food for thought.
Although Ireland scores well on low levels of water and air pollution, as pointed out by Kevin O’Sullivan, the same does not apply to greenhouse gases. It is clear that Ireland must make determined efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from transport as well as agriculture-related emissions such as methane and ammonia. In my mind, one diagram of the report stands out, that showing the relative life-cycle CO2 emissions from different vehicles and fuel types (Fig. 16.6). This shows that electric battery vehicles perform at a much better level than do petrol and diesel vehicles (80g CO2 per km compared with 230 and 210g CO2 per km respectively). However, this low figure is only achieved if the electricity is generated using renewable resources (wind, hydro-electric, etc.). If, however, the electricity is generated by coal-combustion, the figure for the electric cars jumps well above those for petrol and diesel, to 310g CO2 per km.
While Ireland does produce a very respectable proportion of its electricity using wind power, it cannot be argued that this is being used by the increasing number of electric cars: the extra load is undoubtedly catered for by increased outputs from power plants such as that at Moneypoint.
One way to ensure that the electricity used is renewable is for all users of electric cars to be encouraged to install photovoltaic panels to generate the necessary energy. For this approach to have some chance of success, the Government must ensure that Electric Ireland establishes a scheme to buy back unused electricity at a reasonable price, as is done in many other European countries.
Introduction of more photovoltaic power would not only reduce CO2 emissions but the extra renewable electricity introduced into the grid would increase Ireland’s proportion of renewable power.
A further advantage would be that the electricity generation would be more evenly spread around the country, relieving the need for grid improvement that would be required should there be a significant increase in the operation of electric cars. – Yours, etc,