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Assessing The Impact Of Adopting Electrically Powered Vehicles On Kuwait’S Air Quality

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The aim of this study is investigate the environmental impacts that could arise due to the adoption of a greener policy towards curbing vehicular emissions, through the adoption of all-electric vehicles or AEVs. By abandoning fossil fuel based gasoline combustion for power productions, AEVs promise a great deal of reduction to vehicular emissions. Various AEV adoption rates % will be investigated and then compared with the emissions produced from a base case scenario based on 2014 data for power production in Kuwait. Data will be gathered carefully from a variety of resources and will be compensated for if missing with justified assumptions. AEVs will not only contribute to a better state of air quality but could also help smoothen the electricity load daily cycle, since most of the AEV owners will be recharging overnight to start their next day fully recharged. Airborne concentrations will be compared against those set by international and local authorities and any risks posed will be highlighted. This thesis could help come up with various conclusions and recommendations on what could be needed to effectively adopt AEVs into the automotive market insuring benefits will be not be offset by any rising challenges, hence, a successfully reduced state of vehicular emissions.

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Keywords: Air pollution, air quality, AERMOD, AHEVs, Kuwait


The global energy infrastructure is dominated by a fossil fuel based system, but there exists a trend towards adopting a greener, more sustainable system for the well being of the environment and future generations. The successful deployment of a greener energy infrastructure doesn’t stop at using a renewable source of energy to generate electricity. Since the second most common source of harmful air pollutants is vehicular emissions (US EPA), the greener system is invariably dependent on curbing vehicular emissions as well. Many strategies for curbing vehicular emissions exist, among which is using electrically powered vehicles instead of ones that consume gasoline (a fossil fuel derivative) for energy. Automotive vehicles can be divided into three main categories; fossil fuel powered conventional vehicles (CVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (AEVS). Each of which has its own environmental advantages and disadvantages over the others. PHEVs are intriguing in that they combine the best of the other two by running on both, fossil fuel based gasoline and grid supplied electricity. Both AEVs and PHEVs in general promise to greatly reduce transportation-related harmful air pollutants. The cost effectiveness of such a strategy is most likely the deal-breaker for adopting it in the first place. Hence, one study (Kammen et al. 2008) studied the cost effectiveness of the reductions in greenhouse gases emissions due to the adoption of PHEVs. PHEVs were able to significantly decrease the harmful air pollutants’ emissions due to automotive vehicles and improve urban air quality.

However, various technological and economic hurdles will have to be overcome before the widespread embracement of PHEVs can be achieved. Among which is advances in batteries technology in order to push the capital costs of batteries downwards, hence a rapid compensation for consumers can be achieved. Battery prices need to be reduced from $1,300 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to below $500/kWh. The GREET model (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model) was employed along with a benchmark cost of $50 per ton of carbon dioxide to determine the cost effectiveness of PHEVs. The results of which showed that in order for PHEVs to compensate for their cost, very low greenhouse gases emitting electricity will have to be used to power them.

Accordingly, adopting a greener source of energy production like renewable energy is a must for PHEVs to be economically viable. Vehicular emissions are dominated by harmful air pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, and aldehydes. A study (Alhajri et al. 2011) investigated the effect of partial electrification and the adoption of biofuels into the transportation fleet at Austin, Texas on the concentrations of those gases. Multiple scenarios were simulated using CAMx (Comprehensive Air Quality Model with Extensions) and accordingly changes in ozone precursor emissions and predicted ozone, carbon monoxide, and aldehyde concentrations were estimated. Compared to a base case with no electrification and minimalistic biofuel consumption, changes in hourly ozone concentration resulting from the use of PHEVs ranged from -8. 5 to 2. 2 ppb (assuming 17% of the miles travelled were by PHEVs). When all gasoline fuel was replaced by E85, no significant difference on the base case was observed compared to when PHEVs were used; where the maximum ozone changes ranged from -2. 1 to 2. 8 ppb.

The relatively small improvement of 100% biofuel penetration compared to the 17% adoption of PHEVs highlights the significant improvements that could be achieved by adopting an even higher percent of PHEVs. Neverthelesss, the increased addition of PHEVs will require an expansion in the energy production grid which could in turn offset the improvements associated with PHEVs. Similarly, (Samaras & Meisterling, 2008) assessed the life cycle of greenhouse gases emissions from PHEVs and their implication on public policy. Greenhouse gases emissions savings due to using traditional hybrids were relatively equivalent to those from using PHEVs. However, using PHEVs reduced greenhouse gases emissions by 32% compared to conventional vehicles. Batteries play a very important role in determining the feasibility of a PHEV over its life cycle. They account for around 2-5% of life cycle greenhouse gases emissions due to lithium-ion battery materials and production.

The study suggests that the reduced liquid fuel consumption by PHEVs could be looked at as an advantage due to the scarcity of cellulosic ethanol resources. clement-nyns et al. 2010 A very important (often unaccounted for) aspect of adopting PHEVs is charging times and methods. Looking at it from a PHEV owner point of view, the PHEV is better off charged overnight so the owner can drive off in the morning fully charged. Therefore, this could open up a variety of methods by which overnight charging can be of a great benefit to the power production grid, which (Clement-Nyns et al. 2010) discusses. Recharging one’s PHEV overnight could increase the base load of power plants and smoothen their daily cycle instead of having them experiencing a relatively larger load at peak time than at rest time. Accordingly, power plants could avoid additional, inefficient start-ups and experience an increase in the overall efficiency of the electricity production process.

Furthermore, if the overnight charging could be coordinated, this could further alleviate the energy production efficiency by shifting the demand to periods of lower consumption, thus avoiding higher peak loads. This could be accomplished by optimizing a start delay from the moment the PHEV is hooked to a standard outlet for minimizing power losses occurring from voltage deviations. Since large voltage deviations could cause serious reliability problems to the electricity grid. A study (Sioshansi & Denholm, 2009) was able to quantify the efficiency improvements to power generators as a result of coordinated recharging and address the reductions in air pollutants’ emissions as well. An electric power system model was setup to determine the change in generator dispatches results from PHEV (up to 15% of light-duty vehicles) into Texas grid. Expectedly, coordinated recharging resulted in a significant decrease in net oxides of nitrogen emissions due to generators during the ozone season, regardless of the increased charging load. Furthermore, adding more vehicles to grid services, like spinning reserves and energy storage, carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and sulfur dioxide emissions could be reduced further. The hurdles faced to adopt PHEVs are not only technical but are also social (Sovacool et al. 2009). The paper argues that social barriers are perhaps even harder to overcome than the technical know-how necessary for the successful adoption of PHEVs. Subtle obstacles related to business practices, political interests, and social as well as cultural values all play a role as is evident by historical impediments faced by renewable energy adoption efforts. Many studies investigated the environmental impact of electrically powered vehicles, albeit none did so on Kuwait’s air quality.

This study will focus mainly on the effect of AEVs adoption into the automotive market on Kuwait’s air quality. Emissions of harmful air pollutants will be estimated for various scenarios of AEVs adoption and associated environmental risks assessed when compared to that of a base case scenario. Statement and Applications: The project title is: “Assessing the Impact of Adopting Electrically Powered Vehicles on Kuwait’s Air Quality” Many studies have been carried out on the topic of assessing the air quality impact of PHEVs and AEVs but none have done so with the State of Kuwait as the case study.

There is a global push towards adopting more environmentally friendly policies, which requires a greener policy for curbing vehicular emissions. Vehicles that require little or no fossil fuel based gasoline for running could greatly improve the state of air quality. By using Kuwait as a case study, various scenarios will be setup in order to come investigate the various limitations that could make it harder to adopt AEVs into Kuwait’s automotive market. A base case scenario based off Kuwait’s power production data for 2014 will be established, upon which various scenarios will be studied of adoption % rates of AEVs. This could have a wide variety of applications in guiding decision makers into the right direction, if for example higher adoption rates will be required to yield significant environmental improvements, this will require newer plants and an increase in the power production capacity. Nevertheless, the new capacity could have to be supplemented by additional renewable energy sources and not fossil fuel based energy production systems to yield meaningful results; a question that this thesis could also answer. The state of its air quality based on the literature and various other sources. The air pollutants to be investigated along with their health risks that could arise from severe airborne levels. The standard limits set by national and international organizations for the concentrations of those air pollutants. The impact of adopting PHEVs in other areas around the world and the expected challenges as well as advantages and its applicability. Data Acquisition: Data for power production fuel consumption across the State of Kuwait will be gathered from the Statistical Yearbook published by the Ministry of Electricity and Water. Meteorological data will be obtained from the relevant authorities, most likely Kuwait International Airport. Vehicular emissions are to be estimated based on various common methods as per the literature and available data.

Air Quality Assessment: The air quality will be assessed for each scenario based on the amount of released air pollutants across the State of Kuwait and/or airborne concentrations simulated using AERMOD or a relevant simulation tool. The airborne concentrations will be compared against the standard limits set by local and international authorities and hazard risks (if any) identified. The emphasis though will be on the change in emissions level each scenario will produce.

Preliminary Results and Discussions: The proposed study is scientifically important for understanding how the air quality of the State of Kuwait can be affected by a fast paced market; the electrically powered vehicles. No preliminary results are available at this point; however, after analyzing the data the results should discuss the following: Set up a base case scenario for the current state of Kuwait’s air quality. Determine the areas that are highly prone to risk of hazardous air pollutants. Study the impact of metrological parameter on the dispersion of pollutants. Quantify the impact of various adoption rates of electrically powered vehicles on air quality.

29 April 2020

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