Ørsted to replace fleet with EVs

Beginning in 2021, wind energy producer Ørsted will no longer buy or lease fossil-fuelled vehicles, phasing them out completely by 2025. These steps have been taken as part of the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which aims to commit companies to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles.

Ørsted’s fleet of cars consists of 340 work and passenger vehicles. Twenty-two per cent of this fleet is already electric. In line with this shift, the company plans to install electric vehicle charging points and other infrastructure at its offices.

While the move is in line with Ørsted’s zero-emissions business model, it raises questions about the environmental cost of ditching the current fleet and replacing it with new cars. According to Mike Berners-Lee, a greenhouse gas researcher and writer, the production of new cars, especially electric cars which require more specialised and complex production processes, often results in more greenhouse gas emissions than a petrol-powered car that is already in use. While the science and analysis of the exact amount of emissions resultant from each car’s production is complex and variable, Berners-Lee suggests that keeping old cars on the road is often less costly to the environment. Emissions from the transport of resources and parts make up a large portion of emissions in the car production line, along with the infrastructure needed to manufacture and fit each part, as well as the energy needed to keep factories running and increasing output. In some cases, the carbon footprints of these processes can outweigh the reduction in emissions from switching to an Electric Vehicle. Further, the scrapping of old cars often results in environmental degradation, when oil and brake fluid is disposed of in drains and old parts and tyres considered to be non-valuable are left in stacks. These parts often contain hazardous materials that can seep into the soil below. While scrapping takes these carbon-emitting vehicles off the road, and some parts are recycled and reused, it is important to consider any environmental certifications that a scrapping business may have, to ensure that the car will be properly processed and disposed of in an ecologically friendly way.

As electric vehicles become more competitive, cost to consumers is falling, prompting companies like Ørsted to make a switch that could benefit the company’s budget. This is especially true for energy producers like Ørsted, who will be able to power electric vehicles with electricity they are already producing, eliminating fuel costs. While this move to zero-carbon emitting vehicles may be beneficial to Ørsted’s overhead costs and beneficial for the long-term market shift toward more sustainable vehicles, Ørsted has not clarified the method by which the current fleet will be disposed of, or which company it intends to purchase new electric vehicles from. This information is necessary in determining the true cost of an electric vehicle switch.

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