Australia can move to electric vehicles, powered entirely by renewable electricity, in a decade. It is feasible and affordable, providing environmental, health and economic benefits.
(Beyond Zero Emissions Report: August 2016)
A shift to 100 per cent electric vehicles would eliminate at least six per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions.
At present, approximately six per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions are attributed to the operation of urban passenger vehicles. Shifting to 100 per cent electric vehicles (EVs), operating on renewable electricity, would eliminate these emissions.
Up to 8 per cent of national emissions would be removed if regional passenger vehicles are also included.
There would also be additional economic, health and environmental benefits from the transition to EVs, such as improved urban air quality, reduced noise pollution, increased urban amenity, reduced reliance on imported fuels and a reduction of approximately 500-1000 pollution related deaths in Australia per year from existing internal combustion engine vehicles.
Electric vehicles are more convenient.
Electric vehicles already have the range to cover the majority of urban car trips. EV drivers often charge their car at home, meaning their car is usually fully charged and they avoid the inconvenience of filling their car at the petrol station. EVs will be even more convenient once we have comprehensive public charging infrastructure in urban areas, as assumed in this study, with the convenience of charging at work, at the shopping mall, and other public locations.
A rapid shift to electric vehicles operating on 100 per cent renewable electricity is both realistic and affordable.
Electric vehicles are significantly cheaper to fuel and maintain. This significantly offsets the current higher purchase price of EVs. Applying conservative assumptions (which are likely to overestimate costs), this report finds that it will cost approximately 25 per cent more than a business-as-usual scenario to transition to 100 per cent electric cars by 2025. This equates to $20 more per capita, per week.
The report also finds that the transition cost could be the same as the cost of business-as-usual if:
- Car and battery technology progresses at the more rapid end of projections,
- Maintenance costs for electric vehicles are at the lower end of projections, and
- Petrol prices are at the higher end of projections.
Costs could be even lower if we adapt transport behaviours to reduce car ownership.
Policies that make it more convenient for more Australians to use non-car transport modes, such as public transport, walking, cycling and other forms of electric personal mobility (such as bicycles and scooters), combined with increased access to car-share and ride-share schemes, will allow more Australians to avoid the costs of individual car ownership. This will reduce the costs of a shift to 100 per cent electric vehicles even further, and also make the scale of the task easier as there are less vehicles in the Australian passenger fleet required to transition to EVs. A shift towards increased use of public transport, walking and cycling also offers benefits in reducing traffic congestion, reducing traffic accidents, and increasing incidental exercise to promote improved health outcomes.
A rapid shift to electric buses operating on 100 per cent renewable electricity is also feasible, and affordable.
A shift to 100 per cent electric buses for all urban public bus transport in Australia is found to cost only 10 per cent more than business as usual. This amounts to an increase in cost of only $0.72 per capita per week. If bus and battery technology progresses at the more rapid end of projections, maintenance costs for electric buses are at the lower end of projections, and petrol prices are at the higher end of projections, then this analysis finds that a shift to 100 per cent electric buses in ten years could cost almost 12 per cent less than business as usual. This would mean that a transition to 100 per cent electric buses would be economically attractive.
Zero Carbon Australia: Electric Vehicles
First Edition 2016
Beyond Zero Emissions: Melbourne
Report Pages: 56
Get a copy of the Electric Vehicles Report
The Electric Vehicle Report National Launch was in Brisbane on 12 August 2016. It was co-hosted by BZE and the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.
Listen to the national launch.
The national launch media release