Friday, 2 October 2015

The fall and rise of the Electric Vehicle ... and yet "the electricity power grid needed behind the recharging still uses fossil fuels."

There is more and more interest around the electric car:
Boating Business - Massive growth of electric vehicles should be noted

In Sidmouth, the community energy group SidEnergy has been working with partners to make it easier to use electric vehicles:
Futures Forum: SVEAG project: Electric car charging point at Hunter's Moon Hotel

Meanwhile, the market for electric-powered transport is hotting up: 
Tesla's Model X Is Here, and It's as Awesome as We Hoped | WIRED
6 next-gen electric vehicles taking on Tesla

This might actually help the belleaguered VW:
Could Electric Cars Save Volkswagen? | Carol Pierson Holding

This report from the New Economics Foundation looks at the fall and rise of the EV:

Energy round-up: back from the dead

Photo credit:   Frank Hebbert

A decade ago electric cars were a lost cause. The popular 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, highlighted the role of carmakers, oil companies and politics to explain why a technology with a lot of promise never caught on. But these days there is a very different tone among car industry commentators.
The dramatic rise of Tesla, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, continues to surprise industry analysts and traditional carmakers are now throwing their own weight behind EVs.
VW made news recently with its admission that it was cheating emission tests, but what passed unnoticed just days before was their launch of 20 new electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2020,including a luxury Porsche and an Audi sports utility vehicle. The degree to which VW knew this scandal was coming is unclear, but it does look like EVs are central to VW’s strategy for adapting to a new world of sustainable transport.
Constantly tightening emission standards are one driver of the rise in EVs but they are not the most important. Most of the surge is credited to government programmes designed to increase EV uptake. Interestingly the evidence shows that non-financial incentives play a large role here.
Cross-country comparisons show that countries with similar financial incentives like Norway and Denmark have very different rates of EV ownership. Some analysts have credited this difference to environmental attitudes, more indirect incentives like parking spaces, and overall awareness about the available programmes – something we’ve recently observed in other policy areas, such as the plastic bag levy in Wales and Northern Ireland.  
The recent fall in oil prices provides another example where EV sales did not drop as much as traditional economic models would assume, and sales are now rising again despite little change in oil prices.
What makes this rise of electric vehicles particularly interesting is how it could link up with other changes in the energy industry. Analysts with an eye to the future are now trying to piece together what the electrification of nearly all energy use, the inevitable dominance of distributed and renewable energy, and the creation of smart homes means for who holds power in the energy market. Could communities soon be generating their own renewable energy, charging their cars and controlling home appliances remotely? Take a look at our previous energy round-up for some of these key shifts taking place in homes across the country.

Don't miss these:

In other news…

Shell’s failed Arctic adventure reveals a failing business model
There was a big announcement from Shell this week: Burger J, Shell’s Arctic oil well will be sealed and abandoned, resulting in an estimated loss of $7bn. It is now likely that Shell will continue to produce oil and gas faster than it is adding to its reserves, a problem faced by many of the oil majors. This is not a bad thing for climate change or the financial system (see Mark Carney’s speech in this week’s three things not to miss), although state-controlled reserves are still rising.
Fracking or climate change action: pick one
Energy Desk runs through the ways in which fracking runs counter to action on climate change, particularly for the UK. What once was a powerful argument in favour of fracking now seems to have turned around in the face of some on-the-ground realities and further analysis.
Co-benefits of climate change policy could motivate action
new article in the journal Nature shows the massive co-benefits of climate action – from cleaner air to more resilient economies – can motivate people of all ideologies to act. If climate scepticism continues to act as a barrier to progress, this may prove an effective way of building consensus.
The 800 ways public money supports fossil fuel industries
Public subsidies in all shapes and forms continue to support the fossil fuel industry, totalling $167bn last year for the oil, natural gas and coal industries, according to the OECD. This figure dwarfs the amount of subsidies for renewable energy technologies.
No investor interest in Hinkley Point nuclear
Policy uncertainty causes Drax to quit UK carbon-capture scheme
The government’s £1bn carbon capture and storage plan is now in serious question after the Drax power company has announced it is leaving the scheme due to policy uncertainty. A wave of cuts to other energy programmes earlier in the year may be taking its toll across the energy portfolio.

Energy round-up: back from the dead | New Economics Foundation 

With a perspective from the United States on how EVs will effect the climate:

How much can electric cars impact climate change? New report says a lot

A Chevy Volt gets a free electric charge at one of two new charging stations in Pasadena on Friday.WALT MANCINI — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The new Free Electric Charging by VOLTA is at 528 Hudson Avenue in Pasadena behind the Macy’s Shops on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena.Walt Mancini — Staff PhotographeR
Just two months before international climate talks begin in Paris, a new report from energy and environmental groups predicts greenhouse gases can plunge 77 percent in 2050 by electrifying more than half the nation’s cars, trucks and forklifts.
Through electrification of 53 percent of the vehicle miles traveled primarily from passenger cars, small trucks, buses and off-road equipment, along with more wind and solar power plants, the nation would realize a reduction in greenhouse gases of 550 metric tons per year in 35 years, equal to 100 million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles taken off the road, according to the report.
Put simply, electric vehicles are cleaner than petroleum-fueled vehicles and seen as a partial solution to global warming, the report concluded.
Such a paradigm shift in transportation requires cooperation from California, the leader in electric vehicles, which must convince the other 49 states to enact zero-emission vehicle targets that will translate into more electric cars produced and sold.
Already, California is committed to 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2025 for an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the transportation sector by 2050. On Friday, the California Air Resources board continued a plan to cut carbon content from fuels 10 percent by 2020.
With the passage of a pared-down Senate Bill 350 earlier this month, the state will have to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. Though a petroleum reduction clause was removed from the bill, new clean-electricity targets are significant and are being used as fodder by utilities to expand electric transportation in California and beyond, even to the point of replacing petroleum fuels.
There are 150,000 electric cars in the state out of 13 million registered automobiles; about 350,000 EVs or plug-in hybrids in the nation out of 250 million automobiles, according to energy officials.
The small number of EVs represents a fraction of the vehicles on the road. Ramping up to more than 50 percent would be a dramatic change but one that utilities and nonprofit think tanks see as doable.
“Is it a slam dunk to achieve 60 percent of vehicle sales (electric) by 2050? We’ll have to see. A lot of things have to happen to reach that potential,” said Mark Duvall, director of energy utilization for the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto.
EPRI and the Natural Resources Defense Council released their report on Sept. 17, in cooperation with dozens of municipal and investor-owned utilities.
It was part of a consideration for reducing GHG levels to prevent more warming of the planet, which is causing ice sheets to shrink, sea levels to rise and record warm temperatures in the western United States, including California.
The two nonprofit groups were first to use battery-electric cars such as those from Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet as part of a model predicting air emission and GHG reductions in 2050.
The study’s lower GHG scenario also figures a cheaper cost of natural gas, closure of higher-polluting coal plants and increasing the number of clean-fuel plants such as those run on wind, solar and geothermal power for generating electricity, as well as a price penalty on higher-carbon fuels. The base calculation, without the carbon penalty, will reduce 430 metric tons in 2050 or the equivalent of 80 million passenger cars.
No other report studies what would happen if more than half the miles traveled would be via electric power.
“It’s based on a sophisticated model of the electric transportation sector. We’ve proven you can get there,” Duvall said.
Tens of millions of cars and light-trucks would have to run on battery power. More importantly, the power needed to charge them must be available.
The report figures even with a 62 percent share of light­ and medium-­duty vehicles as electric in 2050, those EVs would consume only 13 percent of grid-­supplied electricity.
“The grid is ready for this. And transportation will benefit from it,” said Ed Kjaer, director of transportation electrification for Southern California Edison.
Edison is mandated by state law to increase the amount of renewable energy. Currently, 22 percent of all the energy supplied by SCE comes from renewables and that must reach 50 percent by 2030, he said.
He called transportation the last industrial sector to electrify. Cars can plug in to the grid at night, when power is not being used by air conditioners. By increasing usage, it forces Edison to add new solar, wind and geothermal plants to the grid, he said.
“We see the benefits of connecting transportation to the grid: reducing GHGs, air quality and increasing efficiency of the electrical system while helping to introduce renewables into the system,” Kjaer said.
California air quality rules require an increasing scale of zero-emission vehicles each year, Duvall explained. The numbers will go from 35,000 a year to double in 2018 to 15 percent of all car sales by 2025.
Oregon and several Northeastern states have adopted California’s ZEV targets, meaning these states will see more EV sales as well. Duvall says it is possible there will be close to 4 million EVs on the road in the U.S. by 2025.
Since the release of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2011 and in the same year, the Chevrolet Volt, a battery-powered car with a small, gasoline-powered generator that runs the electric drive train if necessary, more automakers have jumped on the battery-electric or plug-in hybrid bandwagon.
From 2016 to 2020, Duvall says 24 new electric car models will be sold in the United States. Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are investing heavily in battery-electric cars, perhaps as competition for the luxury Tesla Model S, which has about a 265-mile range between charges and costs between $70,000 and $105,000.
Like computers and smart phones, as more electric cars are made, the prices will drop, he said. In 10 years, the sticker price of a electric car will be equal to that of a similar-sized gasoline car, he said.
“Battery costs are declining, the cost of motors and controllers and all the things unique to electric vehicles are dropping significantly,” Duvall said.
Fueling an electric car is about the equivalent of paying $1 per gallon of gasoline and that doesn’t include the reduced maintenance costs associated with EVs.

How much can electric cars impact climate change? New report says a lot

A note of caution, however, about where all this electric power will come from:

False Greening in the Auto Industry: Volkswagen and Tricking Emissions

The German automobile giant, Volkswagen, has produced a few gems of history. Volkswagen’s Beetle, to take a classic, dominated German roads, and made a permanent impression on the international automobile market. While 1.3 million Morris Minors struggled to be sold over the decades, the Beetle stormed through the million unit mark each year in the 1960s and early 1970s. As Richard J. Evans notes, by 1972, the Beetle’s gross sales had passed that of Henry Ford’s Model T.[1]
Then looms the issue of diesel and gasoline, those grand fossil fuel sources that remain staples in automobile technology. Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, suggests that the Volkswagen scandal serves to show that the time to give up the ghost on such fuels. “What Volkswagen is really showing is that we’ve reached the limit of what’s possible with diesel and gasoline.”[2] The point is hardly surprising, given Tesla manufacturing’s base of electric cars, which run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. For all that optimism, the electricity power grid needed behind the recharging still uses fossil fuels.
Costs vary on the proposed correction, though the $7.3 billion figure has been put forth by the company. Up to 11 million cars will have to be recalled. There will be more than a loss of good faith. The lawyers will certainly be kept busy in the forthcoming months, as will the investigators seeking to find other perpetrators. Volkswagen is hardly likely to be the only one.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com
False Greening in the Auto Industry: Volkswagen and Tricking Emissions | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

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