Energy transition


  • Preface
  • Climate change
  • Gases in the atmosphere
  • Impact on the mobility sector
  • Green energy

On this page, the consequences for transport and mobility are discussed and a number of alternatives are discussed, which in 2021 will lead to environmentally friendly solutions. The powertrains of passenger and commercial vehicles are increasingly electrified in order to emit less or no harmful substances. The transition from fossil fuels to fully electric propulsion falls under the so-called “energy transition”.

The European Union wants to ban the sale of vehicles with petrol and diesel engines from 2035. All new vehicles must be equipped with an all-electric powertrain in the form of a BEV or with a fuel cell. A number of countries, including the Netherlands, intend to ban the sale of new combustion engine vehicles from 2030 onwards. Countries such as France and Germany, on the other hand, are strongly against these plans: they prefer a transition to hybrid powertrains in order to significantly reduce the emissions of the vehicle fleet, but not to fully electrify it.

Climate change:
Research shows that CO2 emissions lead to global warming. Emissions of so-called “greenhouse gases” are partly responsible for climate change. Due to the warming air, the oceans are steadily warming. Oceans cool much less quickly than air, which can fluctuate slightly in temperature.

The warming of the oceans leads to different warm water (wave) currents. These gulf currents are part of a global “conveyor belt” that circulates cold and warm water masses across all oceans. The Gulf Stream transports a lot of heat and is therefore important for the climate. Especially for our Western European, mild climate. 

With a disturbance or the disappearance of this Gulf Stream, the pressure difference between the north and south of the Atlantic Ocean will also disappear. As a result, the ocean drops half a meter in the south and rises about half a meter in the north. The rising sea level is worrisome for our low-lying Netherlands, where approximately 25% of the country is below sea level (NAP).

Not everyone believes in the consequences of climate change
Warming of the oceans

Gases in the atmosphere:
The following image shows a graph showing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as seen from right to left from the present (0.0) to 800.000 years ago. The CO2 measurements were taken from ice cores in the North and South Poles. In the graph we see fluctuations in the amount of CO2 that have always taken place.

At the low points in the chart, there was an ice age. The last ice age was about 12.000 years ago. After that, the chart style went up, as it should have stayed the same or should have gone down. We should have had a lower temperature during this time, contrary to what is often claimed: that it should have been warmer. The temperature graph now shoots to an extreme altitude (indicated by “You are here”). Due to the melting ice, such measurements are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

The diagrams below show the amount of harmful gases emitted worldwide (left) and CO2 emissions by sector (right). On this page we focus on transport, which has a 14% share in total CO2 emissions (in 2021).

Emissions of harmful gases worldwide
CO2 emissions by sector

Impact on the mobility sector:
Governments' climate targets are forcing car manufacturers to further reduce the harmful exhaust gas emissions from combustion engines. An important factor in this is CO2 emissions. In addition, more and more countries are coming up with plans to ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines between 2030 and 2040. This means a transition to electrified powertrains is taking place:

  • hybrid (partly electric in combination with a combustion engine);
  • fully electric;
  • hydrogen and fuel cell.

Vehicles with a fully electrified powertrain do not have an exhaust where harmful exhaust fumes come out. These vehicles are labeled as “green”. The range is often limited (80 to 300 km) and the charging times to charge the battery pack are long.

Partly electrified vehicles, such as hybrids, are ideal for driving longer distances. In city traffic, you can drive fully electrically, or electrical assistance from the combustion engine for lower consumption. On the highway, the combustion engine switches on and you can go on holiday abroad without any long charging times.

Electric VW ID.3 (Source:

But how clean and green is a fully electric car really? Opinions are strongly divided on this. The undersigned states facts objectively.

A fully electric car is not climate neutral. There are both direct emissions of particulate matter (brakes, tyres) and indirect emissions of nitrogen oxides (CO2 and NOx). Various studies do show that a fully electric car is cleaner over its entire lifespan than a car that runs on fossil fuels.

The CO2 emissions of a fully electric car are 0 grams per kilometer. This is the outcome of the WLTP test. There are no direct emissions. In the Netherlands in 2021, limited “green” energy is still being generated, which comes from wind turbines and solar panels. Most electricity is generated by burning gas and coal. This results in the comic illustrations below, which unfortunately do have a kernel of truth.

A fair comparison with fuel cars is only when the emissions are included to produce the electricity. In addition, the production of batteries and electric motors requires a lot of CO2 and often use is made of scarce raw materials. The table below shows the amount of CO2 emissions per liter of petrol, diesel and LPG.


The CO2 emissions of a fully electric car are 0 grams per kilometer. This is the outcome of the WLTP test. There are no direct emissions, but the generation of the electrical energy does release CO2. One kilogram of coal produces a maximum of 3,5 kWh, while combustion releases no less than 3,6 kg of CO2. 

According to the WTW methodology, all CO2 that arises during the exploration, extraction, transport and storage of coal is attributed to the CO2 emissions of coal. This brings emissions to 4,4 kg CO2 per kg coal.

We now only look at the total emissions during combustion, because CO2 is also produced according to the WTW method of petrol and diesel. We see that with the average consumption of the vehicles in question, the CO2 emissions per kilometer with an electric vehicle are many times higher than with those that run on fossil fuels. Source: AMT 5-2021


Green energy:
With green energy, no CO2 is emitted during generation. In the future, we will see that we increasingly replace gray energy (from coal) with green energy obtained from wind or solar energy.

Only when all our electricity has been obtained thanks to green energy will driving a fully electric vehicle be clean and “zero emission”.

Below are listed facts of solar energy and wind energy.

Solar and wind energy. Source:

Solar energy on land:

  • 6.000.000 kWh/year = 44.000 m2, or 136 kWh/m2
  • More predictable patterns and seasonality.
  • Fairly scalable;
  • Can often be made “invisible” on top of buildings or as a replacement for roof tiles.

Wind energy on land and sea:

  • 60.000.000 kWh/year (190.000 m2), or 32 kWh/m2;
  • Less seasonal;
  • Large capacities per unit;
  • Horizon pollution;
  • Require a lot of space (5x diameter rotor) to prevent turbulence between mutual rotor blades.

In summary, the energy yield of solar energy per square meter is higher than wind energy. But because the sun's strength varies greatly during a period and there is almost always wind (day, night, summer and winter), the yield of wind is almost constant. The solar panels are fairly easy to install and extend inconspicuously, while windmills are a source of annoyance for people who live nearby, or who can no longer enjoy an unobstructed view of a nature reserve.

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