Transport and the Environment

Transport and the Environment

Climate and Environment Protection

It is a fact that electromobility will make significant contributions to reduce the levels of CO2 emissions and anthropogenic emissions such as traffic generated emissions. Besides, reducing air pollution, electromobility will also reduce traffic generated noise pollution. Anthropogenic emissions such as traffic generated emissions including sulphur oxides (Sox), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) all have a negative effect on the urban environment and human health.

For example, the oxidation of sulphur dioxide in the presence of nitrogen dioxide will produce acidic rain (H2SO4) which also leaves a negative effect on architecture including historical buildings while a continuous exposure to high PM levels may lead to heart and lung disease including asthma and cancer.

Therefore, putting aside what electromobility can do to help mitigate climate change, the fact that BEVs do not emit any other tail-pipe generated emissions offers a significant solution to the improvement of air quality, especially in urban centers and canyon effects.

Climate Change

According to the latest National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Malta 2013, road transport currently accounts for 16.9% of the total greenhouse gas emissions generated in Malta.

As things stand, the current European Climate Change and Energy Targets which were approved by the European Council in 2008 in the form of the Climate Change and Energy Package are the following:

    1. ​Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% when compared to 2005 levels
    2. Having 20% of energy consumption through increased energy efficiency
    3. 20% of EU energy needs must come from renewable energy sources
    4. 10% of all transport fuel must come from renewable energy sources

As an EU Member State, Malta has transposed all the relevant climate change regulations and policies in order to contribute towards the overall European target to limit the increase of the mean surface temperature to 2°C less when compared to pre-industrial levels.

According to NSO statistics, over the last fifty years the mean temperature of the Maltese Islands has increased by 0.23°C every ten years. On the other hand, between 1990 and 2007[1], greenhouse gas emissions increased by 49% in Malta. Although this may be seen as a high increase, when taking into account GDP growth per capita, Malta is one of the lowest from all EU Member States where greenhouse gas emissions are concerned. In fact, when emissions are decoupled from economic development, it transpires that in terms of unit GDP (in billion Euros at 2000 prices) there was a decrease of 18% between 1990 and 2007. However Malta still needs to improve on its carbon emission levels.

Reducing local emissions through Electromobility

Battery Electric Vehicles are one of the main solutions that can free our towns and villages of pollutants, fine dust and noise and hence raise the quality of life. Microclimates in urban cores and conurbations are heavily exposed to traffic exhaust, fine-dust and noise emissions from traffic. The need and urgency to reduce these emissions from Maltese roads is a priority for the Maltese Government

Energy Efficiency

EVs integration into the main system

It is a fact that BEVs will help improve grid efficiency, especially during EV night charging and promote the idea of carbon neutral transport through the promotion for the uptake of photovoltaic infrastructure.

In addition, the more Electric Vehicles the more energy can be stored in their battery, meaning that the use of electric vehicle batteries for storage will increase the overall efficiency of power supply. This is done by the smoothing of production peaks, by aligning production and load curves more closely and supplying balancing energy in the future. 

Energy storage in batteries of vehicles reduces adverse fluctuation effects and will facilitate the continued expansion of solar energy in the whole system. Having a large national BEV fleet in the future and their integration in the national grid will also raise the efficiency of conventional power stations, when the demand for energy is low, for example during the night, which in turn will contribute towards the reduction in demand for fossil fuels.

[1] MEPA 2010; State of the Environment Report, 2008 p.20