Carbon dioxide limit on new cars pushed back to 2021 from 2020, after months of lobbying by Germany
Zoe Williams is on the right track when she finds the behaviour of the big six energy companies, and the government, hard to comprehend (Want an energy revolution? 13 November). It only begins to make sense when you delve into the implications of a showdown between a system based on big centralised energy generation and one based on a huge number of small producers using a very large number of local but interconnected distribution grids.
As things are, it is clear how big money can be made, taxes (if not off-shored) levied and pension funds boosted. Not so if households and businesses start setting up local generation schemes via charities and other community benefit vehicles that channel money back into local schemes.
I am involved with a small fund that focuses on deprived areas, lending for renewable energy projects with social as well as environmental benefits. It is not short of applications. The way the money circulates in this sort of "distributed" system is the stuff of nightmares for the Treasury. So "greed" is indeed an unhelpful diagnosis of what is going on right now. Fear is the emotion gripping the big six and the government.
Founder director, Forum for the Future
• Surely the time for decentralising our energy market has come? Many local councils, responsive to those severely affected by fuel poverty, want to see a microgeneration revolution and the opportunity to develop local energy schemes for the local community. The Feldheim experience in Germany (Report, 30 May 2012) could be translated across the British Isles. So instead of a big centralised renationalisation of energy, which isn't likely to happen, government should be encouraging local councils, parish councils, schools, businesses and communities to take control of their own energy needs. A co-ordinated approach of energy efficiency, community consultations and a wide renewable energy mix can power our communities in a far more efficient and responsive way than a £16bn nuclear power station ever will.
Councillor Mark Hackett
Chair of UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities
• Former energy secretary Chris Huhne is right to link the increased frequency of extreme weather events with man-made climate change (Comment, 18 November). But he is wrong to suggest that the solutions lie in either nuclear power or carbon capture and storage. We already know the answers: more clean renewable energy generation and better energy use and energy conservation measures. I hope the world leaders meeting in Warsaw this week will commit to making rapid progress on reducing emissions in the next few years, using technology that has been around for decades .
Jean Lambert MEP
• "With cheap batteries in the loft, home heat and light using low-carbon electricity will be attractive," Chris Huhne writes. Over the past 12 months my solar panels have put 2,142 kWh of electricity into the national grid (in the hours of daylight) and in the evenings I have drawn 2,177 kWh from the grid. So, if I had effective batteries I could be self-sufficient in electricity. As Huhne says, we need a massive research drive into storage batteries.
• Plug-in electric vehicles could help local authorities achieve healthy, prosperous and sustainable communities. The key issue is around having the infrastructure in place so that electric vehicle owners can charge their cars. The Department of Transport's £37m funding of charging points represents a step forward in this respect. Ensuring that charge points are installed correctly and are safe to use is essential to gaining consumer confidence. This is why the IET has published a code of practice for electrical vehicle charging equipment installation.
To stimulate investment in this area the IET will shortly be making its guidance freely available to UK local authorities.
We must integrate electric vehicle recharging with transport planning, network development and fleet procurement, to ensure that electric vehicles are a major part of future transport strategy.
Chair, standards committee, Institution of Engineering and Technology, London
- Renewable energy
- Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars
- Carbon emissions
- Energy industry
- Climate change
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Hot aluminium spills from casting press at Elon Musk's electric car factory, leaving three employees with injuries
Three Tesla Motors employees were injured when a casting press containing hot aluminium failed at its San Francisco Bay area factory, officials said.
One employee was seriously hurt and two other sustained minor injuries when the low-pressure machine spilled hot metal shortly before noon on Wednesday, said Greg Siggins, a spokesman for the California Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration (OSHA).
"Hot metal somehow burned the workers," said Siggins, who added there had been no fire inside the plant.
The most seriously injured worker received chest and upper-body burns, OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said. The three workers were taken to hospital with second-degree burns, Siggins said.
The high-profile Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, who also runs the private SpaceX consortium building spacecraft, said in an email that he would visit the workers and "personally ensure that they receive the best possible care".
The incident was being treated as an industrial accident, Siggins said. "We will be talking to any witnesses, reviewing training documents and manuals to see if they are in accordance with specifications as part of finding out what happened," Siggins said.
Tesla Motors, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, makes its all-electric Model S sedan at the Fremont factory. Tesla took ownership four years ago of the plant formerly jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota.
Wednesday's accident follows recent Tesla car fires in Washington state, Tennessee and Mexico. Two Model S sedans caught fire after hitting a metal object in the road and a third caught fire after a high-speed chase. None of the drivers were injured.
Musk said on Tuesday that there were no plans for a recall and described the Model S as one of the safest cars on the road.
- Elon Musk
- Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars
- Automotive industry
- United States
theguardian.com Read More
A pollution plan to require hybrid and electric vehicles, while useful, won't be enough.Read More
By James Gover,Kettering University
There are many changes taking place in the USA that will affect the future of transportation. These changes include economic changes, social changes, technology changes, environmental changes and changes in the perception of mankind's' impact on climate change.
(1) In the current USA economic recovery, job creation has lagged that traditionally expected during economic recoveries following recessions. Over 22 million workers are unemployed, underemployed or are not seeking employment. At its current job creation rate, the USA will not reach its pre-recession employment levels until 2020. In addition, the salaries of low and medium income workers have stagnated and some economic scholars predict that as many as 85 percent of Americans are irreversibly destined to live with wage stagnation and social immobility. As Henry Ford recognized and demonstrated, automobile purchase requires people to be employed at salaries that can accommodate auto purchase. Current economic trends are likely to make electric bicycles and scooters and used autos increasingly attractive to those at the lower end of the income scale and live in cities.
(2) Companies that are five years old or younger account for almost all of the USA's job creation and much of the nation's innovation. However, these growth machines have slowed. In 2012 start-up companies created 2.7 million new jobs in comparison to 4.7 million in 1999. The jobs that are being created are located in (1) economic ecosystems that are centers of knowledge and ideas and (2) clusters of energy production. The former are creating high wage jobs paying over $21 per hour and are centered in rapidly growing knowledge metros spread around the USA. Locations include: San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Salt Lake City, Boston, New York, Denver, Phoenix, etc. Although energy production jobs are promoting growth in smaller cities like Bismark, Fargo, and Sioux Falls, energy production is also promoting rapid growth in large cities such as Houston, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City.
People clustering in cities leads to air pollution. This is not idle speculation, nor is this phenomenon limited to the USA. The concentration of people in China's cities where jobs are being created, has created massive air pollution problems. In early 2013 Beijing's air had a toxicity 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe despite efforts to move polluting industries out of Beijing prior to hosting the 2008 Olympics.
Cities can address these growing air pollution problems by: (1) electrifying public transportation, (2) restricting the use of internal combustion engine powered automobiles or (3) both.
We can also expect cities to increasingly impose regulations on air pollution produced by airplanes when on the ground. This can lead to more use of electric drive trains in airplanes for ground movement. Port cities can impose pollution standards on ships when they enter and leave harbors. This will promote more use of electric drives in ships. Similar pressures could lead to more electric energy storage in trains which already employ electric drives.
(3) Advanced techniques for extracting fossil fuels such as fracking, deep-ocean drilling, and directed drilling can temporarily boost the economy and perhaps even threaten investment in low carbon technology. Nevertheless, much of the industrial world believes climate science when it tells us that we must decarbonize energy. This includes decarbonizing energy used for transportation. USA educational institutions are teaching their students the economic and environmental consequences of global warming, the importance of developing sustainable energy sources and the need for making sure that fracking does not damage the environment. (The late George Mitchell, the entrapreneur who developed fracking so that it released “unconventional” gas trapped in shale, was a strong advocate for tight government regulation of fracking.) Therefore, we can expect nations to continue to increase their requirements for reduced carbon emissions. This includes increased requirements for transportation fuel efficiency.
(4) Although the so-called “peak oil” theory argued that the supply of oil was rapidly approaching a maximum, predictions of a supply peak have not proven to be accurate. However, the demand for oil may have peaked despite growing demand in China and India. This expected decline in oil demand is driven by two phenomenon: (1) The world's reserve of natural gas has increased from a 50 years supply to 200 years supply making natural gas an alternative for powering buses, delivery vehicles, ships, electric power generation, petrochemical plants and domestic and industrial heating systems. (2) Automobiles are rapidly experiencing increases in fuel efficiency. This is due to increased use of composite materials that reduce automobile weight and improvements in diesel and gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE) efficiency. Analysts predict that if the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks increase by an average of 2.5 percent per year, oil demand will peak at about 92 million barrels per day in the next few years.
Options for use of natural gas as a transportation energy source include: (1) combusting it in a combined cycle electric power plant (~60 percent efficiency) and using the electric power for electric and plug hybrid vehicles; (2) compressing the natural gas, storing it in high pressure tanks and combustion of the gas in internal combustion engines; and (3) converting the natural gas to methanol and using the methanol to power vehicles. Substitution of natural gas for oil could cause a drop in the price of oil and make gasoline powered transportation more economically attractive than alternatives. This could prove to be particularly important to those experiencing income stagnation.
(5) The cost of battery technology for transportation applications has gradually decreased. New chemistries are emerging that have potential to make substantial increases in battery lifetime, reductions in battery cost, reduction of battery charge time and reduction in battery weight. A major breakthrough in battery technology could make EVs and PEVs cost competitive.
(6) The inflation-adjusted income of a typical USA family has dropped to mid-1990 figures – while those at the top of the income pyramid continue to see income growth. About 16 percent or 50 million US residents live below the poverty line ($11,702 for an individual or $23,201 for a family of four). This is the highest percentage since the early 1960s. At the start of the 1970s, average top 100 CEO pay was roughly 40 times the average worker's pay. By the year 2000, it had reached 1,000 times the average worker's pay. The median pay earnings of male full-time workers peaked in 1973. The inequality of income and wealth in today's USA is unprecedented in American history. Studies suggest that the advantaged are becoming permanently better-off, while the disadvantaged are becoming permanently worse-off; economic mobility is becoming more difficult and less likely. Concurrent with individual wealth shifting to a smaller fraction of the population has been cash accumulation by large USA companies that hold $1.8 trillion in cash.
The shifting of wealth into fewer hands and the accumulation of wealth by companies means that companies manufacturing automobile must develop low cost automobiles for 85 percent of the population, but 15 percent of the population and large companies can afford to purchase any type of automobile they wish to purchase. Tesla has shown that there is a market for high performance, high cost electric vehicles. Even if battery costs do not drop but battery charging can be reduced to the time it takes to make a gasoline stop, it is likely that high end electric vehicles will find a growing market among the highest income part of the population and companies.
TRANSFORMING TRANSPORTATION BY DIVERSIFYING ENERGY SOURCES
Today, more than 96 percent of the energy used in transportation comes from oil. The transportation sector consumes about two-thirds of all petroleum used in the United States. Oil will continue to be a major fuel for decades, but our ability to substantially reduce its use for transportation will be essential to reducing the national security risks inherent in dependence on a single energy source.
A radical transformation of the transportation sector is needed, not only to reduce our dependency on oil, but also to increase the security of our transportation system and to reduce emissions in the transportation sector, particularly in large cities. Because transportation emissions are widely dispersed, it is unlikely that these could ever be captured and stored. Hence the principal option is substitution of alternate energy sources for oil.
IEEE-USA proposes a two-pronged effort: (1) to electrify transportation, focusing on plug-in electric and hybrid technologies — and in parallel, (2) pursue replacing conventional fuels with alternative liquid fuels and expanding the use of natural gas for heavy-duty vehicles. Domestically produced electricity and alternative liquid fuels would give the United States the ability to maintain its economy and transportation system regardless of what happens in the rest of the world.
Conventional hybrid vehicles have already demonstrated their ability to substantially increase fuel economy. The plug-in capabilities will add an option to substitute electricity for some or all of the oil used in the vehicles.
1. Electrifying Transportation: Plug-In and Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The electric infrastructure already in place is sufficient to permit on the order of 75 percent reduction in the dependence on liquid fuels through greater penetration of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), which includes all electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, very little oil is used to produce electricity in the US and the fuels used (nuclear, coal, gas and renewables) are primarily domestic. Therefore, electrification of vehicles would produce a direct and immediate substitute for oil along with commensurate benefits for national security and the environment. Electric motors are inherently more efficient than internal combustion engines; motors do not consume energy while vehicles are stopped in traffic and motors, when paired with batteries, provide the opportunity to recover energy from braking. Current hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology, e.g., Ford Focus, Toyota Prius, and Honda Insight, demonstrates the potential of this approach.
Electrifying the transportation sector will increase transportation energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions, even with the current generation fuel mix. Increased use of natural gas for generation is making the environmental advantage even more prominent. In addition, electrification opens up a clear pathway to zero emissions in the transportation sector.
While the technical feasibility of PEVs is evidenced by the growing number of manufacturers, the market is still in its infancy. The current sales volume and maturity of plug-in vehicles are comparable to those of Prius in 2000, when it entered the U.S. market. In 2012 Tesla earned a profit on its suite of electric vehicles. Stable, predictable incentives, similar to those provided to conventional hybrids are needed to expand the market for PEVs and EVs and enhance economies of scale. These market development measures should be combined with further technology refinement to improve cost competitiveness with conventional internal combustion technology.
IEEE-USA recommends that federal, state, and local governments, along with quasi-governmental and private sector organizations, develop and pursue a strategy to electrify transportation, including mass transit, passenger and commercial vehicles, buses, and short- and long-distance rail by:
>Increasing transportation efficiency and promoting the rapid deployment of PEVs and HEVs through measures such as (1) raising CAFE standards to those of other developed economies, (2) offering incentives such as tax rebates, commuter lane driving opportunities and special parking privileges for consumers who purchase PEVs and HEVs, and (3) accelerating the development of HEV and PEV technology for military applications;
>Promoting the development and deployment of battery charging infrastructure;
>Accelerating and diversifying R&D aimed at improving battery technology including: (1) increasing energy storage density, (2) decreasing cost; (3) increasing life, (4) assuring safety, (5) implementing rapid battery recharge or change-out strategies, and (6) identifying secondary markets for used batteries;
>Promoting research on the integration of PEVs on the electric grid and the development and implementation of industry consensus standards to realize their full potential benefits;
>Identify the true costs and benefits of electricity and other alternatives to oil for transportation; and
>Accelerating and diversifying R&D aimed at substantially reducing weight, volume, and cost of power electronics (PE) for PEVs. This includes: (1) highly efficient PE interfaces, (2) wide band-gap material research, (3) advanced packaging, and (4) enhanced reliability.
2. Developing and Using Alternative Transportation Fuels
The fastest and most efficient way to reduce dependence on petroleum is to combine a strategy of rapid electrification together with a rapid development of alternative liquid fuels to satisfy the continuing requirement for liquid fuels. Some alternative liquid fuels generate CO2 emissions as great as conventional petroleum but others offer an opportunity to substantially reduce net CO2.
To help meet our transportation fuel demand from secure, domestic sources as soon as possible and at reasonable cost, IEEE-USA recommends:
>Passing legislation to mandate fuel flexibility in vehicles;
>Pursuing R&D to convert sustainable biomass to transportation fuels, which can be blended and distributed with gasoline;
>Promoting fuel flexibility in the fuel distribution system and advanced control technologies to maximize efficiency and minimize emissions across the spectrum of fuels;
>In all government procurement of light-duty vehicles, give preference to vehicles that offer three-way fuel flexibility to use at least gasoline, ethanol, and M60 methanol blends;
>Promote the use of biofuels that offer a higher energy return on energy invested (EROI); and
>Support comprehensive legislation which would enhance the greater use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles, so long as such legislation provides equal or greater stimulus to electrification and alternative vehicles.
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