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Impacts of fleet types and charging modes for electric vehicles on emissions under different penetrations of wind power

Nature Energyvolume 3pages413421 (2018) | Download Citation


Current Chinese policy promotes the development of both electricity-propelled vehicles and carbon-free sources of power. Concern has been expressed that electric vehicles on average may emit more CO2 and conventional pollutants in China. Here, we explore the environmental implications of investments in different types of electric vehicle (public buses, taxis and private light-duty vehicles) and different modes (fast or slow) for charging under a range of different wind penetration levels. To do this, we take Beijing in 2020 as a case study and employ hourly simulation of vehicle charging behaviour and power system operation. Assuming the slow-charging option, we find that investments in electric private light-duty vehicles can result in an effective reduction in the emission of CO2 at several levels of wind penetration. The fast-charging option, however, is counter-productive. Electrifying buses and taxis offers the most effective option to reduce emissions of NO x , a major precursor for air pollution.

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The research was funded in part by the Harvard Global Institute. Additional support was provided by the Hui Fund of the Ash Center of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. This research is also supported by the State Key Laboratory on Smart Grid Protection and Operation Control of NARI Group, through the open topic project (20171613).

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Xinyu Chen, Hongcai Zhang, Zhiwei Xu, Chris P. Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy and Jiajun Lv


  1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Xinyu Chen
  2. Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

    • Hongcai Zhang
    •  & Zhiwei Xu
  3. Harvard China Project and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Chris P. Nielsen
  4. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Michael B. McElroy
  5. School of Electrical Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China

    • Jiajun Lv


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All authors contributed to all aspects of this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xinyu Chen or Michael B. McElroy.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–6, Supplementary Tables 1–10, Supplementary Notes 1–7 and Supplementary References

  2. Supplementary Data 1

    The spreadsheet presents the hourly power demand profiles of Jing-Jin-Tang region and Beijing city, as well as the hourly capacity factors for 12 typical days in each month of the year. Typical coal consumption rates for conventional thermal units and operational characteristics for CHP units are also presented

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