DLR Outlines Approaches for 40% Reduction in Global Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions by 2050

Jose Michael

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Well-to-wheel CO2 emissions of light duty vehicles in the reference and energy [r]evolution scenarios from 2000 to 2050. Click to enlarge.

A combination of higher efficiency vehicle technologies, a major switch to grid-connected electric vehicles and incentives for travellers to save CO2 could result in a reduction of well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the global light-duty vehicle sector in 2050 by roughly 25% compared to 1990 and 40% compared to 2005, according to a new report produced by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International.

Total LDV sector energy consumption in total is reduced by 23% in 2050 compared to 2005, in spite of tremendous increases in some world regions. Even with the aggressive focus on new technologies and demand reduction, 74% of the final energy used in cars will still come from fossil fuel sources, 70% from gasoline and diesel, according to the findings. Renewable electricity covers 19% of total car energy demand, biofuels cover 5% and hydrogen 2%.

The report, “Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook”, outlines a set of approaches to cut energy-related CO2 emissions to enable greenhouse gas emissions to peak and then fall by 2015. For the light-duty vehicle transportation component, the producers commissioned the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, the German Aerospace Center) Institute for Vehicle Concepts to look specifically at the potential for reductions in the light-duty vehicle sector.

The DLR developed a global scenario for cars based on a detailed bottom-up model covering ten world regions, with the intent of producing a feasible scenario which would lower global CO2 emissions within the context of the overall emission reduction objective.

Turnover of replacement vehicles was been modelled over five year stages from 2005 to 2050. The scenario assumes that a large share of renewable electricity is available in the future. The major parameters for achieving increased efficiency are:

  • Vehicle technology;
  • Alternative fuels;
  • Changes in sales by vehicle size; and
  • Changes in vehicle kilometers travelled.

DLR divided the light-duty market into three vehicle segments (small, medium and large) and nine categories of fuel/propulsion technology:

  • Conventional gasoline;
  • Gasoline hybrid;
  • Diesel hybrid;
  • LPG/CNG;
  • LPG/CNG hybrid;
  • Fuel cell hydrogen;
  • Battery electric; and
  • Plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV)

For the reference case, DLR used the IEA reference scenario developed for the Mobility 2030 project as a starting point. The alternative car scenario is targeted towards high CO2 reductions compared to today’s levels.

The authors contend that the share of hybrid cars in the market will grow “enormously” worldwide.

For the industrialized regions, we anticipate a sales share of 65% for hybrid power trains by 2050 and for all other regions 50%, apart from Africa, with 25%. This share includes all types of non-grid connected hybrids. In 2050 the balance of different hybrids will be that in Europe, North America and OECD Pacific roughly 20% are powered by conventional ICE engines, roughly 40% are grid-connectable and 40% are autonomous hybrids. For all other regions, 34% will be conventional, a third plug-in-hybrids and a third autonomous hybrids. Africa is again treated differently.

To power all sizes of vehicles with the same technology does not make sense. We have therefore further projected that a large share of plugin-electric cars in the small vehicle segment (80%) will be battery electric vehicles. Two-thirds of the medium sized vehicles and all of the large vehicles will be plug-in-hybrids, thus still having an internal combustion engine on board.

Overall, the entire report concludes that aggressive investment in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could create an annual US$360-billion industry and provide half of the world’s electricity, while reducing future fuel costs by more than US$18 trillion.

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