Enefit: Vehicle electrification – the quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions in the environment
Within the framework of the European Green Deal, Latvia is obliged to meet serious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. According to the RTSD (CSDD) database, at the moment, the total number of registered vehicles in Latvia is currently 982,000, 1,965 or only 0.2% of which are powered by electricity. Following the appearance of the first electric vehicle in Latvia, initial growth of their popularity was rather slow, but, at the moment, forecasts indicating that electric vehicles will become part of our daily lives are more convincing.
According to the Draft Transport Development Guidelines 2021–2027, the transport sector in Latvia, which is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases (GHG), is obliged to reduce emissions by 18% in 2023 compared to 2018, and by 23% in 2027. According to the summary of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (MEPRD), the largest source of emissions in the transport sector is motor transport, which accounted for 95% of the total volume of transport sector emissions in 2019. The electric vehicle is the quickest way to reduce emissions across the sector, however, some sections of the population still believe that such vehicles are not more environmentally friendly than vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines due to their batteries.
Mr Andrejs Kombecovs, Head of the Energy Service Division at LLC (SIA) Enefit, points out that the ecological footprint of electric vehicles is mainly determined not by where and how electric vehicle batteries are used, but how the electricity used to power the vehicle on daily basis is generated.
“Although recycling of electric vehicle batteries is still at an initial stage, large automotive companies are developing systems for recycling and reuse of lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, any concerns about these batteries being disposed of at landfill sites are unjustified. The issue of battery charging is more important. If the electricity used for charging is produced using renewable sources, any negative environmental impact when using such a vehicle is minimal. Electric vehicles do not produce either emissions or noise. Thus, they significantly contribute to better quality of life and cleaner air to breathe”, adds Kombecovs.
Why is the development of electric transport so significant?
The European Union has set a goal – to reach climate neutrality or reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.
“A large part of society already understands that reducing CO2 emissions is the key to minimising climate change. Energy and transport are major GHG sources in Latvia, therefore challenges related to the reduction of emissions are foreseeable precisely in these sectors. Within the transport sector, motor transport is the largest source of GHG, accounting for 95% of emissions generated by the transport sector in 2019”, stresses Kombecovs.
The Head of the Energy Service Division at LLC (SIA) Enefit stresses that electrification is the fastest, cheapest and environmentally friendliest solution for Latvia to reach a carbon-neutral economy: “Simple and convenient electric vehicle charging solutions, which may be installed at home, work or any public place are already available on the market, including from Enefit. Furthermore, both households and companies have an opportunity to purchase “green electricity” instead of the standard kind. This means that polluting energy sources, for example, fuel or natural gas, can be replaced by renewable electricity”.
Renewable electricity is the key to making electric vehicles green
Kombecovs points out that, in an open electricity market, every resident could choose to buy electricity produced using 100% renewable sources, thus reducing their CO2 footprint. “By using such electricity to charge and drive electric vehicles, we can make the air we breath cleaner, because emissions have a significant impact on air quality in urban areas. World Health Organisation data indicates that every year air pollution causes nearly 4.2 million cases of serious illness. If electric vehicles dominated the streets of cities across the globe, this number might be several times lower”, adds Kombecovs.
Daily benefits of using an electric vehicle
Driving an electric vehicle offers a number of benefits. First, it is not subject to road tax, and the first registration with the RTSD is also free. The state technical inspection for such vehicles only involves administrative costs and these vehicles may be driven in the public transport lanes and parked for free in parking lots within the largest cities. Furthermore, as of 2022, the state is planning a subsidy of EUR 4,500 for the purchase of new electric vehicles in Latvia, and a EUR 2,250 subsidy for the purchase of used electric vehicles.
Along with the development of new technologies, electric vehicles have the potential to balance the electricity network in future – returning any electricity accumulated in their batteries to the grid at the appropriate moment for remuneration. Using smart electric vehicles will result in cleaner air in cities and lower bills for vehicle maintenance, as well as reduced daily costs. For society as a whole, this means a natural and convenient, but important shift towards carbon neutrality.