April 11, 2018
Want to get an EV? You will have lots of choice in 2021
April 11, 2018
New analysis by NGO Transport & Environment shows that European carmakers are delaying the introduction of electric cars and plug-in hybrids until 2021, when they have to comply with the EU’s 2021 CO2-emission reduction targets.
The research shows that “only 6 of top 50 models were upgraded in 2017”, whereas “seven upgrades per year is typical”. T&E also finds that “21 will be re-launched as more fuel-efficient, low-carbon models in 2019-2020, and that battery electric models are expected to increase five-fold to 100 by 2021, thus increasing driving-range, choice and competition.” In addition, “most European carmakers, but not Fiat, are set to meet EU’s 2021 CO2 reduction targets on time – in part by selling more plug-in vehicles.”
T&E puts a negative spin on these figures. According to Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at T&E, “Carmakers are shameless, crying wolf that they can’t meet their CO2 targets and blaming declining diesel sales, while pushing old, inefficient, high-performance SUVs to maximise their profits. As a result CO2 emissions are rising and their customers are hit with higher fuel bills. But the reality is almost all serious carmakers in Europe will hit their targets and avoid fines.”
This reaction seems a bit over the top. It is a bit strange to blame carmakers for meeting the EU’s targets!
According to Archer, however, “Carmakers are desperately trying to persuade regulators to drop the planned 2025 car and van CO2 targets completely and set even easier 2030 goals. The plan is to keep selling diesels in Europe for as long as possible. Politicians should not be fooled by their cynical strategy and must instead demand ambitious 2025 targets, a mandate for electric vehicle sales as well as guarantees that emission reductions happen in the real world and not just in carmaker labs.”
In other words, by making it appear that the 2021 targets are difficult to reach, carmakers are trying to influence policymakers to go easy on 2025 and 2030 targets. If that is the case, T&E’s research has effectively undermined the credibility of this strategy.
In any case, as a consumer you may want to wait until 2021 before you buy an electric car, as this chart from T&E shows:
Electric buses prove their worth
April 11, 2018
Cities in Europe that took part in the EU-funded ZeEUS project (Zero Emission Urban Bus System) “overwhelmingly” reported that “the buses performed better than was expected and that both drivers and users reported satisfaction with the smoothness and silence of the ride”, according to the Norwegian Bellona foundation, which participated in the program.
Bellona writes that the results of the project, presented at a conference in Brussels, “were encouraging in both confirming the technological maturity and the public acceptance for the wider deployment of zero emission, electric buses. This gives us all the more reason to push for stronger policies in the ongoing revision of the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD).”
Buses carry around half of all public transport passengers, accounting for around 8% of the EU’s transport emissions.
“The demonstrations of electric buses in various EU cities have shown that zero-emission buses are not only feasible but also desirable”, notes Bellona. “The presentation from Warsaw made a point of mentioning that electric buses were clearly the preferred method of powering the city’s public transport, with a strong reminder that an electric bus backed by a grid fuelled by coal would still be cleaner than a bus which meets the most stringent emission standards.”
Nevertheless, “some critical issues were pointed out, especially in relation to the energy-demanding heating and cooling of the interior of buses”, Bellona adds. “While some demonstrations resolved this by using conventional fuel to power the heating mechanism, others chose to pre-heat the buses at end-stations using grid-powered electricity. This was particularly tricky in Barcelona, which reported up to 40% higher consumption of energy during peak summer temperatures. In fact, the city reported so many technical challenges that it has decided to switch its efforts to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).”
According to Bellona, the use of CNG in buses should be avoided. It notes that with regard to heavy duty vehicles and buses, the definition of a ‘clean vehicle’ in the EU’s proposed revision of the Clean Vehicles Directive would include natural gas and synthetic fuels. “These fuels are anything but clean, and thus risk undermining the very objective of the CVD, which is to stimulate the market for clean, energy-efficient vehicles.”
Note that earlier this month, unrelated to the ZeEUS project, French public transport company Connexxion presented a fleet of 100 electrically powered buses at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It is the world’s biggest ‘zero emissions’ project with the largest number of electric buses taking to the road in one go, according to one article. Connexxion has been running a fleet of 43 electric buses in Eindhoven in the Netherlands since 2016.
Rosatom: the unlikely new player in renewables, electric vehicles and batteries
April 11, 2018
Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear giant (with 250,000 employees!) has been following a diversification strategy for some time, branching out into renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy storage.
According to a recent briefing from the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), “The company has significant advantages and know-how to build its experience in these areas and its strategy is also coherent with the Kremlin’s plan to develop renewables in Russia. The successful implementation of these plans will allow Rosatom in the long run to strengthen cooperation with developed countries that abandon nuclear energy and invest in green technologies and electric vehicles. It will also help Russia to extend its political influence.”
Currently, Rosatom “is one of the biggest Russian companies and is responsible for the country’s nuclear industry. More than 300 Rosatom subsidiaries work across the value chain of the nuclear industry, including uranium production and enrichment, fabrication of nuclear fuel, nuclear power plant design, construction, and decommissioning, and nuclear fuel utilisation.”
The corporation also works on nuclear weapons for the Russian military and “is one of the global leaders of the nuclear industry. It has 36% of the uranium enrichment market, 13% of global production, and the second-biggest uranium reserve in the world.”
But Rosatom does not want to be dependent on nuclear power only. It has been chosen by the Russian government to become a national renewable energy champion, notes PISM, which regards this as a strategic decision: “Russian authorities … recognise the dynamic growth of renewables all over the world, which could decrease the demand for Russian resources in the long run. Rosatom’s goals are convergent with the government’s ambitions to develop renewables in Russia (where, beside hydroelectricity, the production of energy from renewables is marginal). In recent years, the Russian government launched a tender for the construction of wind and solar plants. Russian authorities also want some of the equipment to be manufactured locally to support job creation and the government’s aim to develop innovative technologies.”
In the last two years, Rosatom’s subsidiaries won the tenders for wind farm construction in Russia with almost 1 GW capacity … According to Rosatom’s forecasts from 2016, in 10 years wind energy will account for 11% of the company’s revenue. The company also has experience in producing polycrystalline silicon, used in solar panel production.
Rosatom also works on energy storage technology and aims “to create the capacity to produce lithium-ion batteries, crucial for electric vehicles, and to cooperate with vehicle manufacturers. It is not clear whether electric vehicles will become popular in Russia, but the market potential is recognised by other state companies that could collaborate with Rosatom in the future. One of them, Rostec, and its subsidiaries (including AvtoVaz) are developing electric buses and electric vehicles.”
PISM notes that “Moscow local authorities want all newly introduced buses in the city from 2021 to be electric, and charging stations created not only in the capital but also in Saint Petersburg. State firm Rosseti, one of the biggest electric grid operators in the world, announced in 2015 its goal to create 1,000 charging points in Russia by the end of 2018. In 2017, Rossetti signed an agreement with St. Petersburg authorities and Renault Russia to create charging stations in St. Petersburg.”
Rosatom is also the only Russian company (through its subsidiaries) producing lithium products, notes PISM. “The Russian company is looking for new lithium sources to help it strengthen its position as the popularity of electric vehicles grows. Rosatom plans to open a lithium mine in Zabaykalsky Krai, East Siberia. It also aims to get involved in lithium mining projects in the top producing countries or to strengthen economic ties with them: Australia, Chile, and Argentine.”
Action to ban fossil fuel companies from UN climate conferences
April 11, 2018
The yearly UN climate conferences are traditionally a big circus attended by thousands of policymakers, bureaucrats, lobbyists, NGOs and experts – including representatives of the big energy companies. But according to 93 environmental NGOs and civil society organisations the latter should be banned from the talks.
In a joint letter sent today to the European Union’s lead climate negotiator, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, the organisations, represented by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), call on the EU “to support efforts tackling vested interests at these UN conferences”.
“Despite their large contribution to climate change and resulting conflicts of interest, fossil fuel corporations and their lobbies have continued to be heavily involved in the negotiations around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pushing for false solutions and obstructing effective action”, notes CEO. “Curbing the influence of vested interests at the UN climate talks is essential for keeping the average global temperature rise well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, the key commitment under the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement.”
“Countries representing nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population have long been calling upon the UNFCCC to introduce a rigorous policy framework to prevent conflicts of interest. They have been joined by numerous civil society organisations in the global South and North representing youth, indigenous people, women, and those on the front lines of climate change.”
Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate campaigner Belen Balanya said: “Countries at the front lines of climate change and the global civil society movements supporting them are not alone in demanding the UN curb conflicts of interest at its climate change conferences. While the European Parliament recently passed a resolution with the exact same requests, the EU Commission continues to block progress on this issue – alongside historic polluters like the USA and Australia.”
Paul de Clerck, Economic Justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “While oil and gas companies are publicly speaking about their commitment to the Paris Agreement, we see them obstructing strong climate policies behind the scenes and lobbying for measures like Carbon Capture and Storage that let them off the hook. As long as these companies have such excessive influence over negotiators, we will not see a fossil free world and will not be able to keep global warming under 1.5°C.”
Secretary General at the European Public Health Alliance Nina Renshaw noted: “There is already a very good example for a successful conflict of interest policy at the UN level. Vested interests have been blacklisted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in order to protect public health policy-making from the influence of the tobacco industry and its lobbyists. The parallel to the fossil fuel lobbies’ influence in climate policy is very clear – climate change is, after all, also a major threat to global public health.”
Not a bad idea, perhaps, to get rid of the corporate lobbyists, but to get real results perhaps the UN should get rid of much of the rest of the circus as well.