Does the energy required to charge an EV come from coal?

One reason you might seek to move to an electric car, might be, to have a lower impact on the environment. This is just one great reason of course there are others like lower maintenance costs, lower 'fuel' costs, and driving a really cool car.

But seriously, with government inaction on climate change in Australia, one of the most impactful things households can do to reduce carbon impact on the earth, besides catching public transport or cycle, is to switch from a petrol, or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle to an electric vehicle (EV).

You may hear the electric vehicle 'naysayers' comment that there's 'no point' in making this change, because electric vehicles are simply powered by coal fired electricity. So lets look at this more closely.

Does the energy required to charge an EV come from coal?

When you use electricity from the grid, you are using electricity that comes from a variety of sources. Some of this is coal. Some of this is renewable energy. We reported as part of Our Ten Year Plan update that Electricity sourced from the NEM* was 19% renewable in NSW and 11% renewable in QLD - that's using 12-month data.

But stick with us on this one.....Investment in sustainable energy is increasing at a significant rate and at different times of day – like during daylight hours, there is more renewable energy in the grid - most noticeable because solar energy is only available during the day.

For example, in the comparative snapshot images above, the difference in energy mix is visible between two different times of day, the left image at 8pm with no solar generation, and the right image at 1pm with 13% solar generation

You can check how much renewable energy is in the grid at different times a day on the 'Fuel Mix' tab of the AEMO dashboard.

Further, investment in sustainable energy is increasing at a significant rate. The AEMO Quarterly energy dynamics report for Q4 2021, stated that overall variable renewable energy in the grid has increased 20% in 2021 vs 2020 after similar growth from 2019 to 2020.

When you use electricity from your home solar, of course your energy is renewable - having personal solar power (solar PV) is the fastest way to guarantee that your personal EV charging is 100% renewable.

The AEMC expects 'half of all energy users will be using home energy options like solar' within 10 years. Such a dramatic increase that that the AER has to consider how the state of the current grid requires adjustments to support the amount of rooftop solar - to the point where it may not even allow new connections of rooftop solar to the grid.

We can conclude a couple of key things to this 'myth' that EV's are not better for the environment because of coal-fired electricity

  • with the investment in sustainable energy generation increasing at a significant rate the % of energy in the grid from fossil fuels will continue to decline

  • If you charge your car during daylight hours at any location your % of renewable energy is likely to be much higher

  • If you have rooftop solar its possible you can charge your car at home from 100% renewable energy

No matter what, over time your electricity will be sourced from increasingly renewable and sustainable sources so your investment in an electric car will only continue to be even more better for the environment

Bright Spark Power are installing EV Chargers all over New South Wales. Contact Bright Spark Power and get a customised quotation for EV charger installation at your property.


Call or email Bright Spark Power to start a conversation about electric vehicle charging at home or work. No matter where you are in your journey to owning an electric vehicle, we can help you navigate what is possible for your personal EV-charging. Call 1300 010 277 weekdays or email anytime.

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