14/06/2019

The battery value chain and electrification of transport are effective ways of curbing CO2 emissions

Limiting global warming requires effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study commissioned by Finnish Minerals Group, domestic battery cell production is in a position to markedly cut down emissions from transport.

Vesa Koivisto
Senior Vice President, Battery Operations, Finnish Minerals Group

In Finland, as an example, approximately 20 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 40 per cent of emissions not covered by the emissions trading system are currently generated by transport. In 2017, the total amount of CO2 emissions from domestic transport was more than 11 million tonnes. 

The target set in the national energy and climate strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by roughly 50 per cent by 2030. Approximately 90 per cent of emissions from transport are generated by road traffic, which means that curbing the emissions from vehicle use is a particularly effective way of fighting global warming. 

One of Finnish Minerals Group’s main tasks is to promote the building an electric vehicle battery (EVB) value chain in Finland. For this reason, we wanted more information on how developing the battery value chain and increasing the use of electric vehicles would impact CO2 emissions from transport. 

Combustion engine emission as reference

The study we commissioned examined the production of battery cells based on an annual production capacity of 10 gigawatt hours (GWh/year). Furthermore, we used three different scenarios based on the installation of batteries for different types of vehicles:

1)    all batteries for full electric vehicles 
2)    all batteries for rechargeable hybrid vehicles
3)    40% of batteries for fully electric vehicles and 60% for rechargeable hybrid vehicles

Three different scenarios were also created based on the production of electricity for charging the vehicles:

1)    electricity is produced with zero-emission, renewable energy, such as wind power 
2)    electricity is produced with the average Finnish electricity mix
3)    electricity is produced with the average European electricity mix 

The report was prepared by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd using a life cycle assessment method based on ISO standards for the study. The vehicle brand selected for the study by VTT was Kia, as it currently offers best comparability between the different types of vehicle available on the market. The point of reference selected for the study was the emissions of a petrol-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle during use. 

The analysis shows clear advantages

According to the study, the building of the EVB value chain and the electrification of transport help reduce CO2 emissions from transport in all the above scenarios, i.e., emissions are reduced regardless of the mode of production of the electricity that powers the vehicle. The highest total reduction of emissions in all of the above electricity production scenarios was achieved with rechargeable hybrid vehicles. This was due to the fact that the same amount of batteries would be sufficient for roughly six times more rechargeable hybrid vehicles compared to full electric vehicles. 

The study also showed that a 10 GWh per year battery cell production in Finland would in the best case enable CO2 emission reduction of more than two million tonnes per year. 

 

Click here to read the report (in Finnish only):
Akkutuotanto ja liikenteen CO2-päästöt (pdf, 389 Kb)