A new hybrid method for reducing the gap between WTW and LCA in the carbon footprint assessment of electric vehicles

  • Purpose: The well-to-wheel (WTW) methodology is widely used for policy support in road transport. It can be seen as a simplified life cycle assessment (LCA) that focuses on the energy consumption and CO2 emissions only for the fuel being consumed, ignoring other stages of a vehicle’s life cycle. WTW results are therefore different from LCA results. In order to close this gap, the authors propose a hybrid WTW+LCA methodology useful to assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) profiles of road vehicles. Methods: The proposed method (hybrid WTW+LCA) keeps the main hypotheses of the WTW methodology, but integrates them with LCA data restricted to the global warming potential (GWP) occurring during the manufacturing of the battery pack. WTW data are used for the GHG intensity of the EU electric mix, after a consistency check with the main life cycle impact (LCI) sources available in literature. Results and discussion: A numerical example is provided, comparing GHG emissions due to the use of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) with emissions from an internal combustion engine vehicle. This comparison is done both according to the WTW approach (namely the JEC WTW version 4) and the proposed hybrid WTW+LCA method. The GHG savings due to the use of BEVs calculated with the WTW-4 range between 44 and 56 %, while according to the hybrid method the savings are lower (31–46 %). This difference is due to the GWP which arises as a result of the manufacturing of the battery pack for the electric vehicles. Conclusions: The WTW methodology used in policy support to quantify energy content and GHG emissions of fuels and powertrains can produce results closer to the LCA methodology by adopting a hybrid WTW+LCA approach. While evaluating GHG savings due to the use of BEVs, it is important that this method considers the GWP due to the manufacturing of the battery pack.

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Author:Alberto Moro, Eckard Helmers
Parent Title (English):The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Publisher:Springer Nature
Document Type:Article (specialist journals)
Date of OPUS upload:2022/09/06
Year of first Publication:2017
Publishing University:Hochschule Trier
Release Date:2022/09/06
Tag:BEV; GHG; GWP; LCA; battery; battery electric vehicle; carbon footprint; well-to-wheels
GND Keyword:Elektrofahrzeug; Batterie; CO2-Bilanz
Page Number:11
First Page:4
Last Page:14
Departments:FB Umweltplanung/-technik (UCB)
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 62 Ingenieurwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International