Climatic Change

, Volume 123, Issue 3–4, pp 651–664 | Cite as

Transport electrification: A key element for energy system transformation and climate stabilization

  • David McCollum
  • Volker Krey
  • Peter Kolp
  • Yu Nagai
  • Keywan Riahi


This paper analyzes the role of transport electrification in the broader context of energy system transformation and climate stabilization. As part of the EMF27 model inter-comparison exercise, we employ the MESSAGE integrated assessment modeling framework to conduct a systematic variation of availability, cost, and performance of particular energy supply technologies, thereby deriving implications for feasibility of climate stabilization goals and the associated costs of mitigation. In addition, we explore a wide range of assumptions regarding the potential degree of electrification of the transportation sector. These analyses allow us to (i) test the extent to which the feasible attainment of stringent climate policy targets depends on transport electrification, and (ii) assess the far-reaching impacts that transport electrification could have throughout the rest of the energy system. A detailed analysis of the transition to electricity within the transport sector is not conducted. Our results indicate that while a low-carbon transport system built upon conventional liquid-based fuel delivery infrastructures is destined to become increasingly reliant on biofuels and synthetic liquids, electrification opens up a door through which nuclear energy and non-biomass renewables can flow. The latter has important implications for mitigation costs.


Transport Electrification Transport Sector Final Energy Mitigation Cost Climate Stabilization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We recognize the technical contributions of Patrick Sullivan to this analysis. The Sankey-type flow diagrams were developed using the Fineo software made available by the DensityDesign Research Lab of the Politecnico di Milano. The comments of the editor and anonymous reviewers helped to substantially improve this paper.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_969_MOESM1_ESM.docx (512 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 512 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McCollum
    • 1
  • Volker Krey
    • 1
  • Peter Kolp
    • 1
  • Yu Nagai
    • 1
  • Keywan Riahi
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria

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