E-mobility: Has the CO2 balance been calculated incorrectly?

Professor Thomas Koch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in conversation with Jens Meiners

It would be a mistake to turn the EU's mobility strategy upside down as part of the “Green Deal”: 171 scientists in an open letter to the EU Commission asked for calculation errors at CO2-Balancing of electromobility pointed out. One of the authors, Professor Thomas Koch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), explains what it is about in an interview with Jens Meiners from the Authors' Union Mobility.

Professor Koch, what is the mistake of reasoning and calculation that you are criticizing?

"The usual calculations let the CO2-The load from additional electrical consumers, heat pumps, data centers and of course also electric cars look much lower than they actually are. Because they basically use the current electricity mix as a basis and neglect that the additional demand caused by electrical consumers results in a much higher CO2-Emission leads. In economics one speaks of marginal costs. This means that the mean value of the electricity mix typically changes with each consumer, which must also be taken into account. With the existing electrical energy supply from photovoltaics and wind power, which we should of course expand as best we can, we will not be able to even begin to serve the existing electrical consumers on average over the next few years.

Why are the real CO2Emissions so much higher?

“If we look at the total primary energy, we find that in 2019 only five percent of this came from wind and solar energy in Germany. The rest comes from crude oil, gas, coal, uranium, etc. Another consideration shows that in the subsector of electrical energy in 2030 we could cover at least 70 percent with 'regeneratives'. But if we increase the demand through the electrification of cars, we can for a long time only cover this mainly with coal or gas-fired power plants, with the corresponding CO2Emissions. Even in 2035, with intensive expansion of renewable energies, we will still need fossil energy support in the power grid for 5500 to 6000 hours a year. The energy economist Claudia Kemfert speaks of a large 'green electricity gap'. And that can only be closed in the foreseeable future with fossil fuels. We derived this mathematically and the resulting additional CO2 Emissions analyzed. "

Is there still a scenario in which electric cars reduce the CO2-Lower emissions?

“It depends a lot on the application and there are excellent BEV applications, especially for urban areas. But in general no technology is CO2- top dog. We have prepared sample calculations in which a VW ID 3 is compared with a conventional diesel vehicle. According to the simplified and too low calculated emissions balance after 3 years and 16 kilometers, 224.000 tons of CO are required for mere operation of the ID 142 emitted. With the extended factor calculated by us, it is so that 30 tons of CO2 real results. These emissions are equivalent to 34 tonnes of CO2 compared to a diesel - but with 100 percent fossil fuel. And we have not yet taken into account battery production, rapid charging losses, the necessary expansion of the infrastructure or winter operation for the electric car. Our message is therefore that the technologies operate at eye level and that we need an intelligent technology mix. A one-dimensional ban strategy is wrong. "

But haven't the internal combustion engines long been exhausted?

“Thanks to hybridization and other measures, diesel still has a lot of potential in terms of consumption, and it can be operated with partially synthetic R33 fuel, although there must be political willingness for large-scale implementation. The same statement is generally also valid for the gasoline engine. Then there were 17 tons of CO left in the consideration just mentioned2 left. This makes the modern hybrid drive a very important pillar in the effort to achieve a significant level of CO2-Reduction. A medium to long-term expansion of this technology can lead to an important CO2- Reduce by over 90 percent in 2050. In general, both hybrid and electric vehicles enable clever additional CO2 Potential savings that we have to address in parallel. "

Then why does the auto industry no longer want to develop combustion engines?

“This question certainly does not arise anywhere in the world. And an exclusive fixation on battery mobility violates the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in many countries for the fastest and greatest possible CO2 Reduction. The auto industry, of course, has a problem: It has invested billions and no one can say for sure how the market will perceive the new drive technology options in the next few years. In order to stabilize the demand, a psychological inevitability is apparently to be suggested. By the way, I can reassure you on one point: good generations of engines can roll off the assembly line for decades. Realistically, we will have to further develop BEV and hybrid technologies. "

Because of your reference to a correct CO2-Calculation just got tough.

“Serious scientists pointed out five years ago that modern diesels achieve excellent results when it comes to NOx. Partly violent opposition followed. We have pointed out that this technology makes a negligible contribution to the fine dust situation - against some violent contradictions. In the debate about retrofitting solutions for SCR systems for old diesels, we raised our forefinger as a warning, in the face of violent contradictions. We mathematically analyzed the allegation of the alleged hundreds of thousands of deaths from nitrogen dioxide and warned us to make correct calculations, again with violent contradictions. And when we emphasized the general importance of thermal windows in previous technology solutions, there were also intense reactions. So there was always great excitement, but we analyzed the issues objectively and communicated the result, even when there was a headwind. In retrospect, the analyzes turned out to be correct. And even now nobody has refuted our mathematical proof and contradicted it in the core matter. Our aim is to holistically develop an optimal solution for the future and not to go wrong as a society. And I can tell you that the response from many researchers is overwhelming. "(Ampnet / jm)



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