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Environmental impact of public charging facilities for electric two-wheelers

2014 / Joan-Manuel F. Mendoza, Alejandro Josa, Joan Rieradevall, and Xavier Gabarrell

International Journal of Industrial Ecology, In Press

Abstract The environmental characterization of the charging infrastructure required to operate electric vehicles (EVs) is usually overlooked in the literature. Only small life cycle inventories of EV charging facilities are publicly available. This lack of information is especially noticeable in environmental studies of the environmental performance of electric two-wheelers (E2Ws), none of which have included an analysis of charging facilities, even though they constitute the most successful electric-drive market in the world. This paper focus on characterizing the life-cycle global warming potential (GWP) and primary energy demand (PED) of two conventional charging facility designs that are widely implemented for charging E2Ws in the public space. The relative environmental significance of charging facilities per kWh consumed by E2Ws is determined by considering a range of use scenarios (variability in the service ratio) and the effect of upgrading the electricity mix to include more renewable energy sources. Savings of over 3 tn of CO2-eq emissions and 56 GJ-eq. can be achieved by implementing optimized charging system designs. The internalization of the relative environmental burden from the charging facility per kWh consumed by E2Ws can increase the GWP of E2Ws’ use phase from 1% to 20% and the PED from 1% to 13%. Although the article focuses on a particular case scenario, the research is intended to provide complementary criteria for further research on the life cycle management of electric mobility systems. Thus, a series of factors that can influence the potential environmental significance of EV charging network at the macro scale are discussed. Keywords Electric mobility, charging infrastructure, electricity mix, global warming potential, life cycle assessment, industrial ecology.