At the G20 conference this week in China, the United States and China both ratified the Paris climate treaty negotiated last December. The two countries are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. Getting them to ratify the agreement now means there is a chance the Paris agreement could take effect by 2017 — three years ahead of schedule.
Originally posted on CleanTechnica
Governments of the G20 organisation are contributing approximately $88 billion towards the exploration of fossil fuels each year, despite the numerous cases against such a move, and despite numerous pledges to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. This, according to a new report conducted by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International.
The report is the first to contain a detailed analysis of fossil fuel exploration subsidies by all of the G20 nations, and comes to one unmistakable conclusion: with the rising costs necessary to acquire hard-to-reach reserves in tandem with falling coal and oil prices, government subsidies are “propping up fuel exploration which would otherwise be deemed uneconomic.”
“Despite the widespread perception that renewables are costly, our research reveals that finding new fossil fuel reserves is costing nearly $88 billion in exploration subsidies across the G20,” said Shelagh Whitley, of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). “Scrapping these subsidies would begin to create a level playing field between renewables and fossil fuel energy.”
“Five years ago, G20 governments pledged to both phase out fossil fuel subsidies and take action to limit climate change,” added Oil Change International’s Director Stephen Kretzmann. “Immediately ending exploration subsidies is the clearest next step on both fronts.”
Hit the jump to take a look at the key findings from the report, as well as what the research has to say about Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, is the controversial method used to extract natural gas from the earth. The practice had been banned in many European nations due to concerns of environmental damage. However in recent years those bans have begun to be lifted, despite protest.
France has had a ban on fracking since 2011 that was put into place under the government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Fracking has been a major boom industry in the U.S.; it has also opened the door for major environmental impact issues, legal issues, and extortion. Fracking has even been linked to minor earthquakes in the U.K., though a temporary ban on the practice was lifted a year later.
“We have to have our eyes wide open about what is going on in the U.S.,” Environmental and Energy Minister Delphine Batho said in a debate. “The reality is that the cost of producing gas doesn’t take into account considerable environmental damage.”
The Environmental and Energy Minister went on to point out that fracking has been linked to earthquakes, aquifer pollution, and heavy metal contamination to name a few. These are environmental risks that that the country of France is not willing to take. It should come as no surprise that in recent months France’s business lobbies have stepped up a campaign in favor of shale energy development.
Even with the well-known dangers associated with fracking, the industry is growing in the United States. Given the current economic climate in America, were many Americans cannot find a full time job, the work that comes with fracking is attractive and many states are jumping on the opportunity. Only time will tell if this will be a regrettable decision.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
Nissan offers a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty on the Nissan Leaf battery bank, which is a lot less than the 8-year/100,000 mile warranty of the Chevy Volt’s battery pack. Considering the cost of battery packs, this could be a deal-breaker for some customers.
However, Nissan will offer a unique battery replacement program for U.S. customers in 2014, under which you pay them a monthly amount for a guarantee that your battery pack will be replaced if your battery’s capacity falls below 9 bars, or 70% of what it originally had.
Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of Electric Vehicle Sales and Marketing, said: “Nissan anticipates that the great majority of our current Leaf drivers will never need this battery replacement option. However, this program is yet another example of Nissan’s commitment to deliver peace of mind for our continually growing community of Leaf drivers.”
Peace of mind is certainly crucial to the adoption of electric vehicles, but this costs program costs $100 a month, or $1,200 per year That is $6,000 after 5 years. That is about the cost of a battery pack, and even though you can sign up for the program even after your standard battery warranty is up, there is no “end” to the payments. Sounds a lot like Renault’s battery-leasing program, but without the significantly-cheaper MSRP.
You can keep getting fresh battery packs as long as you keep paying your $100 a month. But what happens when you stop paying? Nissan doesn’t seem to know. Could they repossess your battery? Sounds like an option they are considering.
Automobile manufacturers have been repeating the same policies for years. They tend to buy existing parts from third-party manufacturers, instead of designing or building their own. This is one reason why cars have lacked originality for decades.
Tesla Motors (run by Elon Musk) then came along and flipped the script, bringing production for the most critical components in house. This seperated them from major auto makers, who turned to other technology companies to buy or license current technology, rather than developing their own.
Tesla designs and manufactures most of their own parts, though some less-important components come from suppliers. To top it all off, they are determined. They operated for years without turning a profit, and only recently has the money begun to flow. It is difficult to start out a new company, especially a new automaker, so success may not have happened without years of sheer determination.
It was a brilliant move to bring design in-house, allowing Tesla to implement both quality and cost controls. This is why the Tesla Model S isn’t just the best electric car, but one of the best cars you can buy right now, period. Designing and manufacturing your own parts enables you to innovate by building the parts around your new and improved designs. In other words, you can’t improve cars unless you come up with a new design yourself.
That is why Tesla’s battery packs are considered the best in the industry. By latching together numerous laptop battery cells, Tesla created a dense, high-energy pack in a (comparatively) small and affordable package.
Then there is the fact that buying a Tesla opens a world of service opportunities and access to free, often off-the-grid fast charging. The Tesla Supercharger network will soon cover most of North America, and anytime your Model S needs service, Tesla will loan you a fully-equipped Model S for the duration of the service.
Meanwhile, the rest of the car manufacturers also try to sell their cars with gimmicks. While BMW offers headlamp dimmers and rain sensing wipers (which are pointless because people will turn their wipers on, as they can’t see when it is raining), Tesla Motors offers free fast charging and a truly innovative, next-generation vehicle.
How do you feel about the manner in which conventional car manufacturers operate compared to that of Tesla Motors? Sound off in the comment section!
The number of plug-in vehicles in the United States has finally exceeded 100,000 units, according to Plug In America. Next step; one million plug-in cars!
This is an estimate, so it isn’t precisely 100,000, and the person that purchased the 100,000th vehicle is not known, but, it is still an important milestone. While it is well short of the 1 million plug-in vehicle goal set by President Obama for 2015, the advancement of electric propulsion technology has picked up its pace not just in the past five years, but even more so in the past year, and things really are heating up.
With cars like the Tesla Model S and Ford C-Max Energi rolling off of assembly lines, customers now have more plug-in car options than ever. Costs are also going down, with the Nissan Leaf dropping over $6,000 off of its MSRP, while other EVs like the Fiat 500E offer attractive lease deals. So not only are there more plug-in vehicle options, but they’re more affordable than ever.
While that 1 million EV goal still seems very far away, if plug-in vehicle sales continue to take off, maybe we’ll get there after all?
Source: Plug In America
Tesla Motors shares increased after it announced a decision to offer stock and notes in an $830 million deal that will enable it to repay its debt to the US government earlier than planned. Things are looking better than ever for the electric automaker.
This follows other positive events for Tesla, including the company’s first quarterly profit. Still, Tesla owes the government $465 million for the loan provided by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop zero emissions vehicles (ZEV). Tesla Motors said it would sell 2.7 million shares of its common stock, and $450 million of convertible senior notes.
Elon Musk will help the debt repayment process by purchasing $100 million dollars of shares in Tesla Motors himself, and at the same price as the current public offering. $45 million of those shares will be via public offering, and the other $55 million directly from Tesla Motors.
He owns 27 million shares in Tesla Motors, which accounts for 24% of Tesla Motor’s stock. Tesla Motors’ stock value increased from $33.87 at the end of 2012 to $93.56 on Thursday, almost tripling overnight.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek: “Tesla’s rapid stock price rise has some skeptics. Deutsche Bank raised its target price — but only to $50, from $35, and kept a “Hold” rating on the stock. A note from the firm said the target price implies a 14 percent pre-tax margin on 40,000 cars sold. That’s a little higher than the premium assigned to Porsche during its rapid growth in the early 2000s, the note said.”
But others are feeling the Tesla love. According to a Morgan Stanley analyst, Adam Jones: “What Tesla has accomplished isn’t luck, it’s real”.
The Chinese automobile company, BYD opened an electric bus factory in 70 miles North of Los Angeles in Lancaster, California. The plant has the capacity to produce 1,000 buses annually, but expects to produce 50 units in the first year. So far, BYD has a contract with Long Beach Transit for 10 ebuses.
“The is the first time a Chinese bus company is opening a manufacturing plant in the U.S. and the first North and South America plant for BYD,” said Stella Li, the senior vice president of BYD.
How much of a vehicle that is “Made in the USA” actually made in the USA? “Made in the USA” means assembled in the USA, but every single part could have come from another country. The manufacturers of almost all appliances, electronics, and automobiles do not build most of their parts themselves. They purchase them from external manufacturers, and they are actually usually outside of the country.
Examples of parts not usually built by car “manufacturers” include tyres, Engine Control Units (ECU), stereos, speakers, transistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors, LEDs, CPUs (computer processors) integrated circuits, light bulbs, batteries, and more. Still, jobs are jobs, and electric buses could soon become a major part of public transit fleets across the country. With BYD’s recent decision to go all-in with green cars, opening a factory in America is a bold, but ultimately necessary move.
The 10 buses ordered by Long Beach Transit are to commence service in 2014.
The Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane that has already flown between Europe and Africa, has just completed the first leg of its American odyssey between San Francisco, California to Phoenix, Arizona. The flight lasted 18 hours, but eventually the Solar Impulse landed safely in Phoenix. The next stop is Dallas, Texas, and from there it is on to St. Louis, Washington D.C., and eventually New York City.
As you may have guessed, the Solar Impulse is an electric plane covered in solar panels and is extremely lightweight. Despite carrying 12,000 silicon solar cells stretched across the 60-meter wingspan, the Solar Impulse weighs just 1,600 kg, or about 3,500 pounds. The Solar Impulse is so efficient that it uses as much power as an electric scooter.
The Solar Impulse achieves its extremely high efficiency partly because it weighs as much as a conventional passenger car, but has the wide wingspan of a jumbo jet that enables it to accommodate the solar panels that it requires.
The pilot, Bertrand Piccard, said: “It’s a little bit like being in a dream,” he told reporters after landing.
The flight was so successful that was able to fly in circles for hours while he waited for the Phoenix airport to shut down commercial flight operations as a safety precaution. If all goes well, the Solar Impulse plans to eventually fly around the world in a plane powered by the sun and human ingenuity.
Source: NBC News
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A pilot program is being conducted by Nissan in New York City that will help Nissan to test and learn more about its Leaf electric car. It is a program under which six Nissan Leaf vehicles will be used as taxis. Nissan will provide some fast chargers to aid this project, and it will help people become accustomed to the use of electric vehicles as taxis. But will New York cab drivers adopt as well?
This is at least the second public taxi test of the Nissan Leaf. On one hand cities are the perfect place for electric vehicles, with their low range and long recharge times, to operate. But the average New York Taxi operator drives 180 miles per 12 hour shift, about 2.5 times the advertised range of the Nissan Leaf, which can go about 73 miles per charge. While some drivers have easily exceeded 100 miles in low-speed driving, the Leaf lacks the battery capacity to go even one full shift on a single charge. That hasn’t stopped a Virginia company from trying to build an all-electric fleet anyways.
However, Nissan is also installing fast charging stations can technically be installed anywhere, even on sidewalks. The fast chargers could top off the Nissan Leaf battery pack in as little as 30 minutes, and would cost a lot less than topping off a Crown Victoria’s gas tank. Nissan also won the contract to provide all of New York’s cabs going forward, using the NV van as the base vehicle.
Everything has to be tried and tested in the first place. Proof of concept is required to get skittish (understandably) people to warm up to the concept of vehicle electrification. Maybe the Nissan Leaf taxi cab will prove so popular, other taxi companies will willingly adopt it.
Source: Autoblog Green
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Following a trend towards efficiency improvement and electrification of automobiles, Mercedes-Benz will offer hybrid-electric and diesel versions of C Class cars in 2014. They are expected to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in 2014.
The hybrid-electric C Class option will be available in 2015, and will be a first for this class of Mercedes. The German automaker already sells several diesel variants of the C Class in Europe, where diesel cars are far more common than they are in the United States. According to Automotive News, one reason for this is an effort to dig into BMW’s lead with the 3 series. BMW is also bringing a diesel sedan to the U.S., and the two German automakers will no doubt butt heads over potential customers.
Convertible and coupe models of the C-class will be available in 2015. Mercedes-Benz said there will be no wagons for the United States, citing low demand. The diesel engines used in Europe are four-cylinder units displacing 2.1 liters. Fuel economy is said to be around 50 mpg on the European testing cycle, and the turbodiesel engine will deliver a respectable 190 horsepower and 368 ft-lbs of torque. Gotta love those diesels!
The hybrid setup will also utilize a 4-cylinder engine, albeit one paired with an electric motor. This will give customers an important choice, one playing out across new car dealerships across America. Do I want a diesel, or do I want a hybrid? Oh, Mercedes is also offering the pure electric B-class for sale in the U.S. starting next year too. Decisions, decisions!
Given the choice, which would you rather drive?
Source: Automotive News
Fiat has decided to address the battery range anxiety issue by offering the Fiat 500e electric vehicle with access to a second car. They will offer access to the second car for free from Enterprise for 12 days per year, for the first three years of 500e ownership as part of its ePass program.
The Fiat 500e has a range of 87 miles, which is 14 miles greater than that of the 2012 Nissan Leaf. “We know we’ve got a great car,” Fiat’s North American brand chief, Tom Kuniskis, told Automotive News. “But I still can’t get a guy to New York to visit his grandma for Easter.”
He also said that the 500e is advertised as a viable alternative to the ordinary 500, and that, therefore, it needs to be able to travel as far as the owners want it to. The 500e is supposed to arrive in the California market this summer. For now, the program will be offered at all of the 25 California dealerships that the 500e vehicle will be at.
There are other ways to address EV range anxiety, and one is the use of ubiquitous resonant induction chargers placed in parking spaces, so that peoples’ cars automatically charge wherever they park. Tesla is building a nationwide network of fast-charging “Superchargers” for the Tesla Model S, although few people can afford the $62,500 (before tax credits) electric sedan. It would be helpful if charging stations were embedded in parking spaces so that peoples’ cars would automatically charge while shopping at a supermarket, theatre, office, and the like, but EVs are still incapable of traveling long distances in a short amount of time.
This rental scheme could help alleviate some of the range anxiety that comes with owning an electric car; however, the ultimate goal is a 500+ mile electric vehicle that can be fully recharged in just a few hours. That is still likely a ways off though. For now, rental cars might be the way to go.
Source: Automotive News
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Better Place, an organization that invented, installs, and operates electric car battery swapping stations in only 4 minutes has decided to shut down its facilities in Australia and America so that it can focus on its operations in Israel and Denmark. This does not bode well for the innovative EV infrastructure company.
There were signs from December last year that their Australian operations were on the outs. Evan Thornley stepped down from his position after only three months after he replaced the previous CEO, Shai Agassi, who was the founder of Better Place. Shai Agassi was fired amid massive financial losses and a lack of focus.
According to Daily Kos, Better Place convinced only one electric vehicle manufacturer, Renault to partner with them to offer only one electric car with a switchable battery pack. Agassi pledged to buy 100,000 battery-swappable EVs from Renault, but so far they’ve only sold a few hundred in Better Place’s home market of Israel. It wasn’t so long ago that Better Place was valued at more than $2 billion. Now it seems like they’re on the outs after perhaps too many ambitious projects.
Project Better Place was a promising concept because it can enable electric cars to travel long distances and “recharge” in a short amount of time. Conventional electric cars take 3 to 8 hours to charge, so if a Nissan Leaf-like vehicle runs out of its 70 mile range per charge, it is stranded unless the owner is willing to sit with it for up to 8 hours to recharge it so they can get back home. If the vehicle has a switchable battery pack, then assuming that swapping stations are ubiquitous enough, the owner could be on their merry way for another 70 miles after spending 4 minutes swapping the battery.
Unfortunately, Better Place has not found many customers willing to sign up for its subscription-like battery swapping plans, where you buy X amount of miles per month. Better Place will focus on Denmark and Israel for now, where the more dense populations and smaller driving distances are more conducive to EV ownership. No word on what’s happening with their Japanese projects.
The U.S. and Australia are just too big to fit Better Place’s business model. Will the unique EV infrastructure company find success for its business model elsewhere though?
President Barack Obama pledged to modernize the government fleet, and he has done just that…though many of these new, fuel-efficient cars aren’t American. In fact, 54% of the Obama Administration’s fleet of alternatively fueled vehicles come from Asian brands.
The Obama administration set a goal of purchasing only alternatively fueled vehicles for its fleet by 2015. They have been purchasing alternatively fueled vehicles since 2009 by the thousands. However, their purchases of these vehicles has been decreasing for years. Sales of these vehicles was 8139 in 2009, and dropped to 6,467 in 2010, it then dropped to 2,645 in fiscal 2011. In 2012, the government purchased just 1,801 hybrid vehicles, making up about 3.6% of the more than 50,000 vehicles purchase by the government last year.
It is certainly true that the U.S government should practice what it encourages, and use alternatively fueled vehicles as well to set an example, however, they don’t favor American cars as much as they used to. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has replaced the Ford Fusion hybrid as the most popular green car in government fleets.
One of the reasons stated for this is that the Fusion was not available in large quantities at the time as anew Fusion hybrid was coming out. The same was said for the Ford C-Max hybrid, though there is no mention of the Chevy Volt, another popular hybrid vehicle.
It’s worth asking…is the Obama administration backtracking on its hybrid fleet pledge? Is the 2015 goal even possible anymore?