Task 31, Fuels and Energy Carriers for Transport

Fuels and energy carriers for transport

Ongoing Tasks

Operating Agent

Completed Tasks

Contact for further information

Mr. Bert Witkamp
Bd. de la Plaine 2
1050 Brussels


Download the final Task 31 report


Programme of  Work

IEA HEV TCP aims to create an objective review/assessment, based on state-of-the-art, independent studies, to inform policy makers on the key environmental aspects of electric vehicles (EVs) in comparison to conventionally fueled vehicles (Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, ICEV). Scenario analysis on a vehicle level will give insight in the consequences of e.g. a changing electricity mix, or of an increasing average battery size and range of electric vehicles.

The goal of the Task 31 is to:

  • Provide policy makers with an independent, state-of-the-art environmental evaluation of vehicles and their use, comparing electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles with vehicles running on conventional motor fuels and a limited range of alternative motor fuels
  • Inform policy makers about the impact of future developments on this comparison of environmental impacts

The present work will answer questions such as:

  1. How do BEVs and ICEVs compare on environmental impacts if not only direct emissions are taken into account, but also the indirect emissions from energy production chains and vehicle production and decommissioning?
  2. Is the environmental impact comparison between BEV, ICEV and PHEV different for different market segments with corresponding use pattern?
  3. How may future developments influence the comparison between electric vehicles and combustion engine vehicles, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions:
  • Efficiency improvement of combustion engine vehicles
  • Trend towards more sustainable electricity mix
  • Developments in battery capacities and life span
  • Changes in driving behaviour: autonomous driving, intelligent traffic systems, platooning

Currently, many reports, studies and LCA's are available on this topics as well as many biased "lobby" documents and it is very difficult for policymakers to distinguish between these sources and to draw the right conclusions.

Working Method

Information necessary for the task will be collected through three different channels and subsequently analyzed.

Firstly, recent scientific literature will be collected:

  • Scientific journals
  • Conference proceedings
  • Studies commissioned by central and regional governments
  • Other independent studies

Secondly, key independent groups in this field will be identified and contacted in order to discuss their view on the environmental balance between ICEVs and EVs, and to find possible additional sources. Among these groups will be the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania (Costa Samaras), the VUB Brussels MOBI and the Industrial Ecology Group of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Anders Hammer Strømman, in particular). An option is to ask one or more of these groups to review the report (dependent on the available budget). This might further improve the credibility and stature of the report.

Finally, the literature sources collected will be sorted. In general, it is important to be aware of a possible bias in the results presented in each of the publications. To judge the independence of the information found, we will try to find out in which way the studies have been funded. Next, the assumptions will be judged by our team of experts to see if these are realistic or are suspect to having a bias. Furthermore, the information (literature) sources that have a large influence on the outcome of the work presented in the publications will be requested and researched. Subsequently cross checks among the papers/reports will be done, where relevant.

It is not yet clear how many studies will be found, or what their quality is. It is attempted to cover the complete chain of processes in equal detail, thus being representative for Europe.

The outcome of the study will be a high level, credible and "understandable for all" short summary comparing the impacts of the current dominating fuels (gasoline and diesel) with electricity for selected vehicle types. The summary will also provide scenarios for the impacts in 2030 and as such provide an assessment on how the impacts will evolve in time.


Task 31 started in February 2016 and was completed in February 2017.

Member Countries

The Netherlands, Denmark, France

Financing and Sponsorship

The task is based on a work sharing principle and in kind contribution is expected. The Operating Agent will get financed on the standard per country contribution.

Benefits of Participation

Members will get the opportunity to learn about key stakeholders and their activities in the field of electric mobility.