Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Electric Future

Dutch bank, ING, predicts that, by 2035, all new cars sold in Europe will be electric.

The forecast is much more aggressive than most other projections, such as the UK’s National Grid which on Thursday said it expects 90% of new cars in Britain to be electric by 2050.

France’s commitment last week to banning new petrol and diesel car sales by 2040 suggests it also thinks the roll-out of electric vehicles will be slower than ING’s report expects.

However, the bank said that it believed pure electric cars would “become the rational choice for motorists in Europe” sometime between 2017 and 2024, as their car showroom prices fall, their ranges increase and charging infrastructure becomes more widespread.

Another glimpse into the near future is on display across southern Europe this week.

A heatwave is rolling across southern Europe, fuelling wildfires, exacerbating droughts in Italy and Spain and leading the Greek authorities to close some of the most popular tourist sites.

In Greece, the heatwave led the culture ministry to close popular archaeological sites around the country, including the Acropolis in Athens, on Wednesday.

The ministry said all archaeological sites had been closed between 1pm and 5pm, adding the measures would be enacted when the mercury hit 39C. On those days, Greece’s main archaeological attractions will be open from 8am to 1pm and then from 5pm to 8pm.

To cope with the rising temperature municipal authorities in Athens also opened air-conditioned “friendship clubs” for the elderly and infirm. The organisations were being kept open from 8am until 8pm, said Stamatia Leontopoulou a municipal employee.

“A lot of older people who can’t afford to keep their homes cool and are vulnerable have been coming in,” she told the Guardian. “Everyone is saying ‘thank God this heat wave is not as bad as the last one a couple of weeks ago.’”


Anonymous said...

These people, including ING, are forgetting how quickly consumers adopt new technology. In 1981, IBM sold its first PC; 10 years later it sold its typewriter division; 13 years after that it sold its PC division.

In 1984, Psion launched the first personal digital assistant; 20 years later, the company was gone and so was the PDA.

In 1991, Kodak and Nikon teamed up to produce the first digital SLR; 15 years later Nikon discontinued all but two film cameras; 6 years after that Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

If you look at those timelines, you see full market adoption of a technology within about 5 to 10 years, with manufacturers continuing legacy production for a few more.

Well, in 1996, GM launched the first mass-produced electric car; 12 years later Tesla started producing electric cars with good performance and range. By this point, gasoline engines should be in legacy production. The real question is why haven't the automakers switched to electric cars?


Anonymous said...

Anyong..... "The real question is why haven't the automakers switched to electric cars?" How about people who make these cars as of now, have too much money invested and stand to lose a lot? Ha! They stand to lose a lot more in the next couple of years. Take a good look at the Atlantic produces between 50-81% of the oxygen we breath and it is depleting now. Take as look at ....

Anonymous said... is another site....

Anonymous said...

Anyong, the automakers don't stand to lose a penny. Electric motors are cheaper to make, have fewer moving parts and are less likely to break down thereby reducing warranty costs. Batteries are currently outsourced to suppliers and there's no reason this would change. Otherwise, vehicle design and manufacturing remains the same.

The companies that stand to lose are the oil and gas companies, but why would that be of any concern to the automakers? Camera makers didn't worry about the fate of film makers when they went digital.

Northern PoV said...

Hey Cap....
The reason the transportation market is slower than the ones you mention has to do with the energy system ... in your examples they all run off the same electric current - no massive infrastructure investment needed. That and market inertia, f.fuel subsidies & political power etc etc

In the year 2000 during the bust 90% of the new fiber-optics were unused as demand crashed suddenly. Nobody is rushing out an EV charging station network and the ones in Vancouver that have been installed are rarely in use (from what I've seen.)

Until the 'storage' issue is settled (ie way better batteries) and if the price of oil stays low (the Saudis will make sure of that if they can) it may take a regulatory switch I think to move most of the market.

Anonymous said...

NPoV, the problem isn't so much storage as lack of electrical energy. Storage has already largely been taken care of. The Chevy Bolt does about 410km per charge city and 350km highway, which is practical for most uses. The Tesla S gets between 450km and 590km per charge at highway speeds, and 650km to 850km in the city. That's enough to get to the cottage and back. If manufacturers would standardize batteries, long drives could simply involve pulling into a service centre and swapping a used battery for a fresh one. The service centre could recharge batteries at its leisure.

As the video in Mound's next post shows, the real problem with a general move to electric cars is that our electrical grid wouldn't be able to cope. I'm not sure it would be able to cope even by 2035.


crf said...

The report, which I think is actually just a power point presentation without any obvious input from engineers, states that supply of lithium is not a future constraint.

There just isn't enough lithium for battery electric cars everywhere. If electric vehicles catch on it will be using hydrogen fuel cells, rather than large batteries. The report rags on hydrogen, but both techs need to get much cheaper, and both techs present costly infrastructure issues.

An electrical grid should be able cope with electric vehicles. The recharging demand for electric vehicles should be very predictable. And at present the number of electric vehicles is quite small, and will likely rise at a modest predictable rate. There is well enough time to plan and engineer the grid to accommodate them.

Roughly 80% of our world's energy comes from fossil fuels (a figure which has not budged in decades: talk about a renewables revolution), so a large chunk of that will need to be replaced with new electricity supply (along clean energy carriers like hydrogen). The cost of upgrading the grid to cope with all this new demand will certainly be costly, but the cost share borne by electric vehicles will be a fraction of that.

Anonymous said...

Crf, you're correct in saying that about 80% of the world's energy currently comes from fossil fuels. But let's break that down a bit. Transportation accounts for about 25% of world energy consumption, and 96% of transportation energy comes from oil. If we electrified all that, we would need to produce 24% (25% x 96%) more energy from sources other than oil. Even if we electrified only the light-vehicles (cars, vans and pickups) that account for 59% of all transportation energy used, we would still need to produce 14% (24% x 59%) more energy from sources other than oil.

Currently, Canada generates about 61% of its electrical power from hydro. Wind accounts for 1% of Canada's electricity. Thermal power accounts for most of the rest, with 16% from uranium, 14% from coal, 6% from natural gas and 1% each from petroleum and waste steam.

Except coal and hydro, all of these energy sources have an energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) lower than the oil they would replace. This means they are less efficient and their use will have to be expanded much more to replace the energy from oil. Expanding nuclear energy comes with the risk of nuclear accidents, the problem of waste disposal and limits on uranium supplies. Expansion of wind and solar will be constrained by the supply of rare earth metals, almost all of which are produced only in China and are subject to export controls.

North American coal production has been in decline for years, so increasing the use of coal-fired power plants is unlikely. Besides, their carbon footprint would be far worse than the oil they'd replace. That leaves hydro, which is unlikely to increase significantly even with Site C. It certainly couldn't go from 61% to 75%, which it would have to do if we were to replace the 14% of energy from oil used by light vehicles.

So, even under current conditions, we're limited in our ability to wean ourselves off oil. As you recognize, energy storage remains a significant concern as there isn't enough lithium for all the batteries needed. Lithium is only easily extracted from salt water pools in the Andes. Hydrogen fuel cells are problematic for good reason - extracting hydrogen from oil, natural gas or water uses more energy than it produces. And we haven't even discussed population and economic growth, or climate change. In other words, we're fuqued.


The Mound of Sound said...

The problem I have with those fossil EROEI numbers,Cap, is that they never factor in government subsidies or the true environmental costs including natural capital (water for one) and greenhouse gas pricing.