There has been a considerable amount of debate recently about how clean electric vehicles really are.  Some suggest that, dependent upon the source of electricity, electric vehicles may actually be dirtier overall than gasoline vehicles.  Others argue that though the source of electricity does make a difference, electric vehicles are always cleaner than gasoline powered counterparts.  Yet others believe that electric vehicles are inherently dirty due to old methods used worldwide to generate electricity.

Renault is now looking to prove that electric vehicles can be clean with a test that will utilize renewable energy sources for generating electricity to power EVs.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a letter of intent with Renault and 5 other corporate partners. The letter lays out plans for electric vehicle testing in France.  The goal of the 50 vehicle test will be to demonstrate that BEVs, which are charged from renewable energy sources, will have a lower total CO2 impact on the environment than gasoline powered vehicles.

The testing is to take place on Reunion Island.  A charging system will be in place to charge the fleet of test vehicles.  Standard 220 volt charging will be on hand as well as 400 volt rapid charging stations.  The renewable energy sources will include solar and wind.

It seems likely that Renault will indeed prove that renewable energy provides EVs with a CO2 advantage over gasoline vehicles, but how common is renewable energy worldwide and how costly is it to adapt to existing infrastructure?

Source:  Renault Press Release

In the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Renault, EDF, GBH (Groupe Bernard Hayot), Total Réunion, GE Money and the GERRI agency today signed a letter of intent on the experimentation of 50 electric vehicles in Reunion together with battery charge infrastructure powered mainly by renewable energies.

The letter of intent signed today in Reunion by the six partners mentioned above, under the patronage of Nicolas Sarkozy, marks their commitment to the VERT project (Electric Vehicle for a Technological Reunion), a principal component of the GERRI program (Grenelle Environment Forum in Reunion - Succeeding in Innovation).

The document establishes the framework of an experiment to test electric vehicles and the corresponding charge infrastructures powered by dedicated renewable energy sources (notably photovoltaic). The idea behind the project is to demonstrate that the overall CO2 performance of the electric vehicles in Reunion is superior to that of today's thermal combustion and hybrid vehicles.

The purpose of the VERT program is to test the implementation of a network of charge infrastructures sized in number and charge technique (normal or fast) to meet the mobility needs of a territory with a limited geographical area.

VERT is also an opportunity to test specific electric mobility offers aimed at company or government vehicle fleets and at individual customers.

Lessons learnt from the project could be applied to countries or regions with similar electric systems.
The French Environment and Energy Management Agency, ADEME, will be submitting a file on the VERT project at an upcoming call for expression of interest (EOI).