Formula E

Energy produced from fossil fuels reduced: Formula E publishes sustainability report for 2023 season

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

"Racing for better futures" - this is the title of Formula E's sustainability report for the 2023 season. In the recently published report, the electric series presented new data on its impact on the climate and its endeavours to act in a socially and economically sustainable manner. Even though emissions have increased compared to the previous year, the racing series believes it is on the right track.

In 2023, Formula E became the first global sports organisation to align itself with PAS 2060, the international specification for demonstrating carbon neutrality. The purpose of this alignment was to enable accurate and credible statements about the carbon neutrality status of the racing series.

"Through aligning to the internationally-recognised standard on carbon neutrality, PAS 2060, Formula E is reinforcing its leading position across global elite sport and sustainability," says Julia Palle, Sustainability Director of the racing series.

"As an organisation we have consistently held ourselves to the highest of standards when measuring, reducing and offseing our emissions and this new standard reaffirms that commitment. It ensures that as we continue to grow our championship, we can also ensure that the reduction of our emissions of 45% by 2030 is sustainable, accurate and certified to the highest degree."

Formula E's carbon footprint has been monitored by the company Quantis since the 2014/15 season. According to the company's figures, the series caused emissions of 32,600 tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases in the 2023 season, which were fully offset with the trading of climate certificates and other measures ("net-zero"). In the pre-season 2022, this figure was still 22,700 tonnes.

The CO2e unit of measurement makes it possible to compare the climate impact of various emissions, including nitrogen oxides, water vapour, sulphur dioxide and soot particles. One tonne of methane, for example, is around 25 times more harmful to the climate than one tonne of CO2. In Formula E statistics, it would therefore correspond to around 25 tonnes of CO2e.

In comparison: Formula E emissions since season 5

Less emissions per race than in season 5

The significantly higher emissions figures compared to the previous year are likely due to the steady increase in the number of overseas races following the pandemic. While only three events were held outside Europe in 2021 and only six in 2022, this number rose to seven in 2023. The effect of the additional races is reinforced by the frequently criticised travel routes, such as in the second half of the season, when the cars were shipped from Monaco to Rome in just over two months - with stopovers in Indonesia and on the west coast of the USA.

For Formula E, the figures from its ninth season are nevertheless a success: by 2030, it aims to reduce its emissions by 45 per cent compared to season 5 (2019/20). At that time, the series generated an average of 3,433 tonnes of CO2e per race. In comparison, it was able to reduce this figure by around 41 per cent last year (2023: 2,040 tonnes of CO2e per race). Already close to the 45 per cent mark, although there were only 13 instead of 16 races back then.

However, some of the figures differ significantly from those communicated in the past. As an explanation, Formula E states in the sustainability report: "The emissions reported for Season 8 differ from the Season 8 sustainability report due to a change in methodology to reflect improved data and resources." As a result, comparability with the Gen1 era is no longer possible: Formula E only converts the figures from season 5 onwards to the new methodology.

Once again, freight accounted for the majority of emissions, with air transport leading the way. According to Quantis, 59 per cent of all emissions are attributable to the transport of vehicles and pit lane equipment. Business trips by Formula E personnel accounted for 17 per cent of emissions, while race operations (infrastructure, track construction, energy for charging the vehicles) accounted for 13 per cent.

Share of emissions by source

Fossil fuels only covered ten per cent of energy requirements

For the first time, Formula E also provided an insight into how the energy for its races is generated in a sustainability report. In total, the series required 4,569 MWh of energy for all processes on and off the track during the season (269 MWh per race, including test days).

The majority of this was generated from sustainable sources such as hydrogenated vegetable oil. Around ten per cent of the energy requirement was covered by fossil fuels such as natural gas or diesel, a significant reduction compared to the previous year, when this proportion was one third. Natural gas is used to heat the Formula E headquarters in London, while diesel is used as a substitute at the race track when neither green electricity from the local power grid nor hydrogenated vegetable oil is available.

For the first time, Formula E has broken down how attendees travelled to the races. The data was collected via an online survey sent to all ticket buyers at a later date. At the European races in London (73 per cent), Berlin (62 per cent) and Rome (51 per cent) in particular, the majority of spectators used public transport. In Cape Town, large parts of the grandstands were occupied by people who reached the course on foot. The proportion of spectators who travelled to the event by air was between zero (Valencia) and six per cent (Diriyah).

Overview: Proportion of modes of transport used by attendees

Round Location Car (%) Public transport (%) Bicycle (%) on foot (%) Plane (%) Internat. Spectators (%)
0 Valencia 75 3 9 2 0 0
1 Mexico City 60 35 0 4 1 1
2+3 Diriyah 61 28 1 8 6 6
4 Hyderabad*           5
5 Cape Town 43 18 0 40 3 3
6 Sao Paulo 65 27 0 3 1 1
7+8 Berlin 66 62 1 3 1 1
9 Monaco 25 36 7 23 4 19
10+11 Jakarta 39 35 0 5 4 3
12 Portland 69 21 2 2 4 2
13+14 Rome 36 51 1 7 6 13
15+16 London 17 73 0 4 5 5

*: In Hyderabad, no survey was sent to the visitors by the organiser.

 

56,000 litres of water filled up at refill stations

In order to reduce the use of single-use plastic at the race venues, refill stations were available to visitors at eight of the eleven race venues, where drinking water could be filled into reusable containers. Formula E fans tapped a total of around 56,000 litres of water in this way, saving more than 150,000 330 ml disposable bottles. Since the refill stations were introduced in season 5, a total of more than 585,000 bottles have been saved.

As expected, the largest water withdrawal was at the two heat races in Jakarta (16,000 litres) and Rome (9,000 litres), whereas only 844 litres were tapped in Monaco and 659 litres in London.

Overview: Water withdrawal at hydration stations 2023

Round Location Water extraction (l)
1 Mexico City 8,200
2+3 Diriyya  
4 Hyderabad  
5 Cape Town 8,000
6 Sao Paulo  
7+8 Berlin 6,377
9 Monaco 844
10+11 Jakarta 16,000
12 Portland 6,814
13+14 Rome 9,000
15+16 London 659
TOTAL   55,894

 

Focus also on social & economic sustainability

In addition to the focus on ecology, for which Formula E once again won several awards in the past season, the championship also focussed on social and economic sustainability. For example, more than 110,000 euros were spent on local commitments in the host cities. In the "FIA Girls on Track" initiative, for example, 1,080 girls took part in motorsport workshops, 98 per cent of whom stated in a subsequent survey that they were enthusiastic about the programme.

You can download the full sustainability report on the official Formula E website.

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