Vehicle Carbon Emissions

We all know worldwide vehicle usage has a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

But how much carbon do the vehicles many of us rely on everyday produce?

We conducted a study to find out.

What is the carbon content of my vehicle?

You’ll have seen electric vehicles have no tailpipe. This is because they are powered 100% by electricity and do not need to burn any fuel to run the vehicle.

As burning fossil-fuels produce greenhouse gas emissions, electric transport is great for our island – but should we be concerned with how much more carbon electric vehicles generate when they’re produced?

Does an electric vehicle produce more carbon than the same petrol or diesel vehicle when you also take into account the battery production? The short answer here is no.

A recent study revealed the greenhouse gas emissions released from each kilometre driven, and across the complete lifecycle of an average vehicle – including production, maintenance, and exhaust emissions.

An electric vehicle produces up to 65% fewer carbon emissions over its entire lifecycle than the equivalent petrol vehicle.

These figures represent the amount of carbon produced per kilometere driven.

1 mile = 1.6 kilometres

How do EVs compare with everyday petrol and diesel cars?

The following figures display the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in grams of CO2 per kilometre driven. 

WTT, production, operation - what do these words mean?

Production

These emissions are generated during the production of the vehicle and include raw material extraction and processing.

Operation

This includes tailpipe emissions from the combustion of petrol/diesel, emissions produced from generating electricity*, vehicle maintenance and well-to-tank (WTT) emissions.

*this includes electricity generated at the Vale power station. Electricity in Guernsey is made up of over 90% imported renewable energy – a mix of solar, wind and hydro power – with the remaining demand topped up by electricity from the power station.

Maintenance

The carbons emissions generated from maintenance work to keep the vehicle in good working order. 

End-of-life

This is when the vehicle, its part and components become waste and needs to be dismantled and disposed of. 

Well-to-tank (WTT)

WTT specifically refers to the fuel used in the vehicle, from extraction (well) to final use in the petrol or diesel vehicle (tank). 

Cleaner driving in Guernsey – how Guernsey’s electricity compares with the UK

The following figures display the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in gCO2/km

Electric vehicle uptake

The below statistics display the PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC) prediction for number of electric vehicles in use in Guernsey versus the actual recorded number of electric vehicles in use by Sept 2021.

575

PWC prediction Sept 2021

980

Actual EVs in Guernsey

Registered electric vehicles in Guernsey

The States of Guernsey and Guernsey Electricity Ltd commissioned a report undertaken by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) on future energy demand up until 2050 in connection with the Guernsey Energy Policy. A section of this report focused on the adoption of electric transport to help demonstrate an increase in the island’s electricity demand.

Electric vehicles in Guernsey now represent over 2% of the active vehicles on our roads today and far exceeding PWC’s original predictions made for the adoption of more sustainable transport.

Click to view the full study and methodology

What about alternative fuels?

If you’re looking to drive more sustainably but aren’t ready to buy an electric vehicle yet, renewable fuel could be the answer.

There has been much talk recently about a viable replacement for petrol and diesel. Alternatives such as Biofuel and Renewable Diesel are some of the main options as they have a lower carbon intensity over their lifetime – but it’s worth remembering that these vehicles will still produce tailpipe emissions.

Renewable Diesel – RD100 – is available for purchase at some forecourts in Guernsey and could be an excellent transition fuel due to the lower carbon emissions when compared to petrol or diesel.

If you drive a diesel vehicle, switching to RD100 at the pumps means you could be producing around 70% less carbon emissions and significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

The following figures display the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in grams of CO2 per kilometre driven

Thinking about switching to an electric vehicle?

Find out more about EVs