Eco Innovation

Net Zero Week 2024: the role of EVs in our journey towards net zero

9th July 2024
Paige West

Net Zero Week is the UK’s official national awareness week and the biggest net zero conference, now in its fourth year.

The annual event is dedicated to raising awareness of all the efforts needed to help Britain reach net zero by 2050, a complex strategy requiring the input and actions of a range of sectors and stakeholders.

The UK has made significant progress in greener transport to date as part of this commitment, with the government, businesses and individuals increasingly investing in electrical vehicles and EV infrastructure.

Here, Robert Byrne, Operations Director of adi Vehicle Charging Solutions, discusses why electric vehicles are a vital piece of the puzzle in achieving our net zero goals.

The UK’s 2050 target brings attention to the critical need to lower carbon emissions and mitigate the severe impact of climate change.

After Labour’s recent win, we are seeing a renewed commitment to reintroduce the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars from 2030, as well as a pledge to accelerate the rollout of charge points and increase support for second-hand electric cars buyers.

With the 2030 deadline having previously been pushed back and targets being missed, this promise showcases a much-needed push to enhance zero-emission driving opportunities and improve the experience of existing EV drivers.

Electric vehicles play a crucial role in decarbonising the transport sector – the largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG), producing around 26% of the UK’s total emissions.

A widespread shift to EVs promises substantial improvements from an environmental perspective. Air quality in urban areas would improve significantly as EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, reducing pollutants that are dangerous to public health.

There are certainly concerns regarding EV battery production, which is responsible for higher initial emissions compared to a standard gasoline vehicle. Over a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric car stem from the energy employed to manufacture the car itself.

Nevertheless, as technology advances, we are seeing quick improvements thanks to more efficient production processes. And electrical vehicles’ operational emissions are much lower over their lifecycle on account of their reliance on electricity rather than fossil fuels. Research has shown that the carbon emissions of an electric vehicle are 17-30% lower than those of a petrol or diesel car, even with electricity generation.

In turn, as the proportion of renewable energy in the electricity grid increases, the emissions associated with generating electricity for EVs decrease – which is why a holistic transition to renewable energy is necessary, creating a synergy between the two. And ultimately, this goes hand in hand with decreasing the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, which will reduce damage to the climate, enhance energy security and support the UK’s renewable energy industry, driving economic growth.

There are other consumer concerns affecting the transition. Other than affordability, many are placing emphasis on the UK’s lack of preparedness with regards to EV infrastructure, particularly whether rate of growth is enough to cater to the needs of EV owners.

However, as the number of EVs in the country increases, so is the number of charging stations, as is evidenced by data. In March 2022, the UK Government invested £1.6 billion to allow for more convenient, affordable and reliable charging across the whole of the UK, in an effort to expand the UK’s charging network to improve consumer experience and facilitate the transition.

And as more and more businesses invest in charging infrastructure, it will become common to find charge points in supermarkets, restaurants, shopping centres and places of work.

Both private and public entities have a role to play in improving charging infrastructure, with increased investment from private companies as well as government-funded initiatives being necessary to generate sustainable change.

Overall, the EV market in the UK is still registering significant growth. While just 0.4% of new vehicles were electric in 2016, this number rose to 23.9% in 2023, and the market registered an 18% growth in battery-electric cars in 2023 in just one year.

In 2024, we are continuing to witness advancements in both production technology, with longer range and faster charging times, as well as investment from consumers, driven by both environmental concerns and government incentives. Electric vehicles bring substantial advantages from both a sustainability and economical point of view, being a vital ally in the journey toward net zero emissions, and one with considerable potential.

Featured products

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier