United Nations Publishes iCET’s Electric Vehicles in China Analysis

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development has published a report by iCET (and me as the lead author!), entitled “ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA.“  This paper, which will serve as background information for the 19th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York, 2-13 May 2011, highlights some of the environmental opportunities and risks of developing electric vehicle systems in China.

This report provides a comprehensive and systematic analytical overview of China’s automotive electric-drive technology development and electric mobility promotion policies and programmes, and recent trends and projections in technology development and electricity use in private and public motor vehicles are analysed. Significant findings of the report include:

  • China’s financial support for electric vehicle development, while significant, is lagging behind other nations
  • Although high-speed, high-tech vehicles are on the policy agenda, low-speed, low-cost electric vehicles are selling well across China
  • China will require the development of new lithium resources, or import of lithium, in order to complete its mid-term targets for electric vehicle implementation
  • Accounting for energy losses and GHG emissions from resource extraction, power production, transmission and distribution of power, charger and battery efficiency, lifecycle analysis indicates that electric vehicle use will result in GHG emission reductions in Southern China as well as in the Central China region, while resulting in possible GHG emission increases in cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Tangshan, Dalian, Shenyang and other northern places

The paper concludes that China should not overemphasize the benefits of electric vehicles in regions where they are not environmentally appropriate, and continue to follow its policy of transport energy diversification depending on local circumstances.  Given the potential of electric vehicles to provide stable storage to the grid, the grid should be optimized to provide renewable energies to electric vehicles, and for electric vehicles to provide power back to the grid during peak times.  Plug-in hybrid technology should be utilized to maximise the benefits of both ICE and battery drive systems, and finally, fuel economy and GHG emission standards should be expanded to include electric vehicles.

The report is available at the United Nations website at:


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