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Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Electric Vehicles in China: Combining the vehicle cycle and fuel cycle

Qiao, Qinyu, Zhao, Fuquan, Liu, Zongwei, He, Xin, Hao, Han
Energy 2019 v.177 pp. 222-233
cradle-to-gate, ecosystem services, electric vehicles, electricity, emissions factor, fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, internal combustion engines, manufacturing, models, recycling, China
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are known as the future vehicles that have the potential to provide environmental benefits all over the world. The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of EVs have already been estimated for each phase in the life cycle. However, the dedicated estimations in China are not complete enough to reveal the systematic impacts of real manufacturing technologies, driving cycle and recycling processes. This study has analyzed the GHG emissions of the Cradle-to-Gate (CTG) phase, Well-to-Wheel (WTW) phase and Grave-to-Cradle (GTC) phase for different vehicles in different time to figure out the key drivers and reduction opportunities, which are based on the well-selling A0-A class compact sedan model currently in China. The results indicate that the life cycle GHG emissions of an EV are about 41.0 t CO2eq in 2015, 18% lower than those of an Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV). This value will decrease to only 34.1 t CO2eq in 2020 due to the reduction of GHG emission factor of electricity. Although the WTW phase is the largest contributor of GHG emissions for both vehicles, the proportions of each phase are quite different. The GHG emissions of the WTW phase of an EV are decreasing rapidly, but the CTG phase will not be improved at the same speed, which may become a barrier to fully take the environmental benefits of an EV. There are two major opportunities for reduction in the entire life cycle besides fuel economy development. One is EV recycling that can reduce the GHG emissions of the CTG phase by about a half. The other is the improvement of clean power grid that can further reduce the GHG emissions of the WTW phase.