Battery electric vehicles currently have the greatest potential for saving greenhouse gases in the transport sector, according to a study.
Germany is to become greenhouse gas neutral by 2045, according to the climate protection amendment that came into force in August last year. The transport sector is expected to make an important contribution in this context. The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe, Germany, has been commissioned by the German government to study the potential contribution of different types of drive, from the internal combustion engine to the electric motor, to achieving the climate targets. According to the study, battery-powered vehicles already have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions with today’s electricity mix. With an increasing share of electricity from renewable energy sources, the savings potential will increase even further.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles, i.e. those that can also be charged from the power grid, are assessed in the study only as a bridging technology. In the medium and long term, they would also have to run on synthetic fuels, which are very expensive to produce. Biogas could be considered as an alternative, but it would have to avoid competing uses such as use in international air traffic. The possibilities for reducing greenhouse emissions are much smaller in this area, they say.
The study attests that the hydrogen-powered fuel cell currently makes only a small contribution to CO2 savings, but in the long term it would complement battery-powered vehicles for large and heavy vehicles with high range requirements.
The study also points to the high demand for critical raw materials for alternative powertrains, such as lithium and cobalt for battery production and platinum group metals for fuel cell-powered vehicles. In addition, there is an increased demand for copper. To ensure that emissions of climate-damaging gases do not merely shift, sustainability criteria are needed in the supply chains. Recycling also needs to be promoted.
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