Electricity

Oil still fuels most of transport demand in cars, trucks, ships and planes. Apart from rail, the contribution from electricity is negligible.

1.6%Electricity in EU transport

3xElectricity in an electric motor is more efficient than an internal combustion engine

Electricity is key to replacing oil in cars and trucks

But the coming of age of battery electric vehicles, and soon trucks, will change that considerably in the coming decades. Electricity will be the key ‘fuel’ to replace oil in cars and trucks and protect the climate and improve air quality. 

Even though the transport sector may grow, its energy demand will shrink: How is this possible? Using electricity in an electric motor is more than 3 times as efficient as an internal combustion engine. 

Increase in demand

The arrival therefore of millions of electric vehicles over the next decade will only lead to a small increase in overall demand for electricity. And as most vehicles are not used constantly, their demand is flexible and can be used as ‘Batteries on Wheels’. They can charge when there is lots of renewable energy available and prices are low (aka ‘smart charging’). In the future, electric vehicles will even be able to supply the electricity charged back to the grid, building. The introduction of flexible electricity prices – whereby the price reflects in real time the availability of renewable electricity – can encourage drivers to use smart charging for their electric vehicles.

Renewable energy

We should not be content with a rapid shift to electromobility alone. In addition, we can also incentivise drivers of electric vehicles and operators of recharging points to use renewable electricity, accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport and improving the carbon footprint of an electrified vehicle. Renewable electricity is the only renewable transport fuel that can deliver zero-emission mobility on a large scale in a way that biofuels cannot.

This is why suppliers of fuels to road transport (i.e. oil) should also be able to use renewable electricity when trying to achieve the EU’s targets for renewables in transport. As renewable electricity is – unlike biofuels – not a drop-in fuel. This is why all EU member states should introduce a system of tradable credits for renewable electricity.

Infrastructure

The shift to electromobility also requires a major shift in how we ‘refuel’ – recharge – our vehicles. Vehicles will be mostly charged at home or in the workplace, but we’ll also need a massive roll-out of public charging infrastructure.