3 CEOs explain how a holistic approach to mobility and electricity can achieve net zero faster

Green and white electric vehicle charging photo: Energy storage provided by electric vehicles' infrastructure allows us to scale clean grid capacity.
Energy storage provided by electric vehicles' infrastructure allows us to scale clean grid capacity.
Image: Unsplash/Michael Marais
  • Industries traditionally plan decarbonization strategies and infrastructure in isolation, resulting in inefficiencies, higher costs and slowed deployment.
  • By tapping into the potential energy storage that vehicle electrification offers, we can scale clean grid capacity, improve grid efficiency and accelerate the cost offering of electric vehicles.
  • New storage solutions and intelligent demand management are needed to transition to a 50-70% electricity share in energy consumption by 2050.

As extreme weather conditions wreak havoc around the world, we must act fast to combat the threat of climate change. One way to better arm ourselves in this fight is to integrate the two most emitting industries: transport and energy. Combined, these two sectors are responsible for over half of global emissions.

Year-on-year change in electricity demand by region.
Year-on-year change in electricity demand by region.
Image: IEA

There is currently a massive increase in power demand across the globe, especially from renewable sources, as many industries seek electrification solutions. Similarly, the mobility industry is on a path to electrifying most new cars sold.

However, without access to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure at a reasonable cost and convenience, the adoption rate for EVs will be slow – especially in emerging markets. Furthermore, without batteries enabling energy storage, clean energy generation will not scale as fast as it could.

One obvious solution is more synchronized planning of mobility and electricity, from design and deployment to operations and scaling, for a shared and interconnected future.

Three CEOs from companies that have started a vehicle electrification strategy explain their approach and how they see it supporting the drive to net zero.

Sales in % of new passenger vehicle sales.
Sales in % of new passenger vehicle sales.
Image: McKinsey Centre for Future Mobility

'E-mobility is only green if the energy source is also sustainable.'

Ralf Brandstätter, Member of the Board of Volkswagen AG for China and Chief Executive Officer, Volkswagen Group China

Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time. The Volkswagen Group was the first automobile manufacturer to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2018, aiming to achieve a net carbon-neutral footprint by no later than 2050, fundamentally via a comprehensive electrification strategy.

However, advancing the transition to cleaner mobility throughout society requires creating the right framework conditions with partners – China plays a decisive role here.

That’s why, in China, we work with partners like Gotion to develop clean battery technologies. And our CAMS charging joint venture is building the right infrastructure for our Chinese customers. Since 2022, the number of registered users of CAMS has almost quadrupled to about 2 million e-car drivers. By 2025, we aim to deliver 17,000 fast charging points across 180 Chinese cities, with an increasing focus on high-performance, automated concepts.

But e-mobility is only green if the energy source is also sustainable. That’s why we are also working closely with key Chinese stakeholders to pilot innovative green charging solutions.

To this end, we are actively exploring collaborations on new energy services, such as integrating the grid network to make the charging process more efficient, strengthening grid stability and incentivizing renewable energy consumption. Other solutions complement grid availability through renewable energy purchases at public charging stations and photovoltaic power generation.

Our goal is to make e-mobility in China even more convenient, accessible, and, most importantly, environmentally friendly for our customers. And in doing so, contribute to the sustainable development in China with a high global impact.

'Reinforcing Thailand’s EV ecosystem encourages and provides Thai people with clean and environmentally friendly energy via a Green Charging Network.'

Mr. Auttapol Rerkpiboon, President & Chief Executive Officer, PTT Public Company Limited

As the national energy company of Thailand, PTT aims to attain net zero emissions by 2050 and help the country move towards net zero by 2065. We recognize the pivotal role of the energy and transportation sectors in expediting and driving emissions reduction, which is why we have embarked on an energy transition and decarbonization journey.

Our targets include investing at least 30% in future energy and beyond businesses and attaining 12 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2030, which will help improve the mobility landscape for electric vehicles (EV).

For instance, our subsidiary ARUN PLUS Company Limited invests in the fully integrated value chain of EVs. It recently joined with technology and innovation leader Foxconn to establish an EV manufacturing facility in Thailand – expected to be operational by 2024 – that will cater to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) brands seeking a foothold in the country.

We also work with our strategic partners to develop battery technology and production plants and invest in battery-swapping businesses. And to further the growth of electrification in Thailand, PTT Group has installed EV Charging in existing PTT stations while expanding into new areas. Reinforcing Thailand’s EV ecosystem encourages and provides Thai people with clean and environmentally friendly energy via a “Green Charging Network.”

Global warming is a top priority worldwide, requiring immediate attention and effort. All parties – policymakers, technology developers, donor countries, companies and consumers – must collaborate to adopt and enable the green energy transformation for our future.

'Renewables are now the most affordable option in many countries to meet new electricity demand.'

Helen Mountford, President and Chief Executive Officer, Climate Works Foundation

We are witnessing a sea change in the mobility and power sectors. Due to strong policies, innovation and investment, the explosive growth in the global adoption of electric vehicles puts us on a pathway to avoid burning over 5 million barrels of oil daily by 2030 and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths. And renewables are now the most affordable option in many countries to meet new electricity demand.

These developments have far-reaching implications for reducing fossil fuel demand and harmful pollution, supporting sustainable development, and promoting the transition to a clean economy. And the transition is much faster than experts thought possible just a few years ago.

Through philanthropic-powered campaigns like Drive Electric and the Global Energy Transition initiative, climate funders are critical in mobilizing resources and fostering collaborations among civil society organizations, governments and private sector partners to effect positive change and support ambitious policies that benefit people’s lives. Although much more must be done to achieve global climate goals, collectively, we’re taking great strides toward a more equitable and sustainable future.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the mobility-electricity nexus and driving sustainable change together is increasingly crucial. While jump-started by an innovative collaboration between the transport and energy sectors showcased here, scaling is needed now. Will your company join?

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