What if all cars were electric?

July 27, 2015 by Anne-Muriel Brouet
What if all cars were electric?
Credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL

A century ago, Switzerland decided to electrify its railways. Out went coal, coal pollution and energy dependency. Today, what about switching all our cars over to electricity? The air would be cleaner, but what would be the impact on electricity demand, employment and tax income? This is the topic of Cihan Cavdarli's Master Thesis in Energy Management.

His first : if all cars in Switzerland were electric, total would rise by 19-24% depending on the scenario. Should this make us think twice? Not at all, if we look at the bigger picture. To measure the impact of the widespread use of , Cihan took many other factors into account – economic, environmental, technological and tax-related. "The positive impact of switching to electricity generally outweighs the negative impact, apart from some extreme cases," said Cihan.

Anticipating the country's phasing out of nuclear power, Cihan looked at two scenarios. One assumes a high carbon footprint, with replaced by gas. The other boasts a low carbon footprint, with renewable energies stepping into the nuclear breach. "This latter scenario is the best fit for ," added Cihan.

He based his work on the scenarios drawn up by the research institute Prognose. He also used the Swiss-Energyscope calculator, developed by the Energy Center, to estimate marginal electricity generation - in other words. the source of the additional kWh to power electric cars for each scenario.

Cihan took into account primary energy consumption (before transformation, storage and transport) for both internal-combustion and electric vehicles. Under the assumption that energy efficiency will improve, the consumption of primary energy by electric vehicles will decrease. Depending on the scenario, this decrease is expected to be 16-23% by 2035. So that evens things out.

The environment also stands to gain. Private vehicles currently account for 25% of CO2 emissions. In the best case this figure would fall to 5% (with a second life for batteries); in the worst case, 10%. In addition, even if only a third of vehicles were electric, nitrogen oxide emissions would be cut in half.

A tax on electrical vehicles?

When it comes to the impact on tax revenues, things get a little more complicated: taxes on fossil fuels currently account for 8% of Switzerland's tax income. "Tax revenues will go down unless the tax on mineral oils is shifted to electric vehicles," said Cihan. But the tax impact would be reduced. This is because internal-combustion engines are becoming increasingly efficient, which means that fuel consumption is on the decline. And the country will save money on fuel imports. The savings will be even higher since the energy will come from locally produced renewable energies.

In view of their price tag, electric vehicles are not yet economical. But by 2020 they should cost the same as gas-powered ones. As long as the government doesn't tax electric vehicles – and oil prices don't rise to $180 a barrel.

Explore further: Government initiative needed to boost electric vehicle use

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3 comments

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Eikka
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 27, 2015
One assumes a high carbon footprint, with nuclear energy replaced by gas.


There's a certain political factor that he isn't taking into account: Europe is dependent on Russia for gas imports, yet paradoxically both France and Germany are banning fracking in their respective areas, and Russia is currently invading the other large gas fields in eastern Ukraine - and generally preventing international oil companies from exploiting the unconventional gas fields near its borders by its saber-rattling.

The supply of gas in Europe is so politically constricted that there's no room to increase gas consumption, so the question should really be between coal and renewables, not gas and renewables.

kochevnik
not rated yet Jul 27, 2015
Eikka you are off your meds again. We are not invading Ukraine. Ukraine means borderland, you nitwit. It is part of greater Russia. Ukrainians are siphoning off gas on pipes feeding West Europe, and yet Russia makes no big fuss as they probably need the money anyway

Obama, Soros and Victoria Newland organized the coup of the democratically elected president and installed your zionist Willie Wonka Poroshenks and you NAZI oompa-loompas Right Sektor and Svoboda
Edenlegaia
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2015
Eikka you are off your meds again. We are not invading Ukraine. Ukraine means borderland, you nitwit. It is part of greater Russia. Ukrainians are siphoning off gas on pipes feeding West Europe, and yet Russia makes no big fuss as they probably need the money anyway

Obama, Soros and Victoria Newland organized the coup of the democratically elected president and installed your zionist Willie Wonka Poroshenks and you NAZI oompa-loompas Right Sektor and Svoboda


The problem is, both sides use Media Weaponry. Who can we believe? Americans, the "Aggressive Warmongers wanting to insert Westerner Nazism Everywhere", or Russians, the "Aggressive Warmongers wanting to insert Total World Dangerous Red Cold Dictatoricality"?
As an European, i don't really know how the world sees us. Probably not better. Anyway, if France and Germany refuses to frack in their respective areas, they'll have to find a way to produce gas with ecologic/economic friendly method. It won't be easy.

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