Monthly Archives: April 2016

Electric Vehicle at charging station

Big Oil Gearing Up to Battle Electric Vehicles

[7 April] Last week Tesla unveiled the Model 3, a mass market, affordable electric vehicle with a starting price of $35,000 and a two hundred mile range.

Electric Vehicle at charging station
Electric Vehicle at charging station

In just over five days, more than 276,000 people put down $1,000 to reserve their own Model 3, signaling that American appetite for electric vehicles (EVs) is on the rise.

That’s good news because greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are growing faster than in any other sector in the U.S. and account for about 30 percent of the total. A major shift to electrified vehicles in the transportation sector is necessary to give us a fighting chance to meet our climate goals.

Yet, just as EVs are poised for growth, oil industry interests are sharpening their knives. Energy companies, including Koch Industries, are increasing their public opposition to electric vehicles because they are realizing the significant potential impacts of EVs on oil demand.

Recently, for example, Jim Mahoney, board member of Koch Industries, penned an oped in Fortune about opposing government subsidies that favor one form of energy over another.

“Koch opposes all market-distorting policies, including subsidies and mandates—even if they may benefit the company,” he wrote.

What Mahoney was really taking aim at were incentives offered to the small but growing electric vehicle market in the U.S.

His op-ed was mum on fossil fuel subsidies—which the International Monetary Fund pegs at $5.3 trillion. And he certainly didn’t mention the 11 fossil fuel federal tax subsidies identified by the Department of Treasury that cost U.S. taxpayers $4.7 billion per year—some of which have been in place for more than 100 years. Or the numerous public lands leasing and royalty breaks for oil and gas production.

Mahoney singles out the electric vehicle tax credit because electric vehicles are a threat to oil, which is mainly used for transportation and his op-ed is part of a broader attempt to roll back tax credits that support advanced vehicles.

If you doubt that the tiny but growing electric vehicle market could threaten big oil, consider this: Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) projects that oil displacement as a result of increased electric vehicle deployment could lead to an oil crash by 2023. BNEF flags battery prices and strong policies as important drivers of EV growth. In fact, battery costs have dropped dramatically—falling by 65 percent since 2010. By 2030 they are estimated to fall from $350 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to below $120 per kWh.

To-date, oil producers have underestimated the competitiveness of electric vehicles, but they are seeing the threat to their market share and are taking aim at the EV industry. Because they can’t do much to improve the environmental profile of their own core products, we can expect a growing effort by the oil industry to undermine the electric vehicle sector. It’s no surprise that Koch Industries is leading the way.

Read more: EcoWatch

Solar Power (Image: ARENA)

Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels

Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1

Solar Power (Image: ARENA)
Solar Power (Image: ARENA)

Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.

While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”

Read more: Bloomberg

Car exhaust pollution (Image: Wikipedia)

Dutch government wants to ban petrol and diesel cars

Dutch Labour party wants to halt the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2025; is this the beginning of the end for the mass-produced combustion engine?

Dutch Labour party PvdA is pressing for the banning of sales of all petrol and diesel cars in the Netherlands from 2025.

The proposal has been met with support from the country’s lower houses of Parliament and could mean that only alternatively fuelled vehicles – such as electric cars – could be sold in the market nine years from now.

European leaders have been talking about such a ban for many years – insiders have suggested Paris will be the first to implement a zero-emissions-vehicle-only zone within its boundaries – but if it were introduced, the Dutch policy would come as the first complete ban on combustion-engined vehicles.

The proposal arrives a year after the Netherlands joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance, which aims to make all new vehicles use electric power by the year 2050. The country is already one of the fastest growing markets for alternatively fuelled cars, with nearly one in 10 cars bought last year using electric power.

The UK has seen similarly rapid levels of growth, although the overall number of sales for alternatively fuelled vehicles is comparably small. The latest figures from March reveal that sales of alternative-fuel vehicles grew by 21% year on year, compared with sales growths of 4.8% and 4.7% for diesel and petrol cars respectively.

Read more: Autocar

Air pollution obscures the view of the London eye in central London on April 9, 2015 (Image: Getty)

‘Extend congestion charge as far as North and South Circular roads to halt pollution’

The congestion charging zone should be extended out as far as the North and South circular roads by 2019 to tackle London’s growing air pollution problem, a major study said today.

Air pollution obscures the view of the London eye in central London on April 9, 2015 (Image: Getty)
Air pollution obscures the view of the London eye in central London on April 9, 2015 (Image: Getty)

Transport for London should look at expanding the zone, which costs £11.50 a day to enter, to merge it with the wider low emissions zones currently in place.

The major report from independent think tank IPPR said the scheme could be one of the best ways of simultaneously tackling air pollution and congestion as well as raising funds to reinvest in public transport, cycling and walking.

It warned that without new policies to manage increased congestion, there will be an estimated 43 per cent increase in miles driven between 2013 and 2030, making emissions even worse.

The death toll in London from air pollution is more than 9,000-a-year and experts are particularly worried about the impact on the health of children. The economic cost is put at £3.7 billion.

Other key recommendations include speeding up the “greening” of TfL’s bus fleet so it meets air pollution standards by 2019, expanding the electric vehicles charging network and bringing in on-street parking permits reserved for car-sharing schemes.

The report, London: Global Green City, said:

“The deadly spectre of air pollution has risen once again in the form of invisible pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

“This is a public health problem of the highest order and once again London sits on the frontline. London stands at a crossroads, and nothing short of a world-leading transport programme is required.”

Read more: Standard

Photo Credit:Leslie R in San Diego waits in hours-long line to pre-order the Tesla Model 3. Tesla Motors received more than 250,000 pre-orders within 72 hours of the vehicle’s unveiling

The Electric Car Goes Big

[6 April] This past week was unprecedented in the history of the automobile. Tesla Motors began accepting orders on the Model 3. In three days, they took some 300,000 reservations for the car, each with a $1,000 deposit.

If they all come through, that equates to over $10 billion in sales–in three days. For perspective, the Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in the country, sold about 430,000 units for all of 2015. Thousands stood in line for hours at Tesla stores around the world, including more than a few of us at Plug In America.

Photo Credit:Leslie R in San Diego waits in hours-long line to pre-order the Tesla Model 3. Tesla Motors received more than 250,000 pre-orders within 72 hours of the vehicle’s unveiling
Photo Credit:Leslie R in San Diego waits in hours-long line to pre-order the Tesla Model 3. Tesla Motors received more than 250,000 pre-orders within 72
hours of the vehicle’s unveiling

This feat was a tremendous accomplishment for Tesla and a tribute to the enormous power of the brand that Elon Musk and his team have built. But it was also an indicator of the excitement around the electric car, the sense that it is going mainstream, and an early indicator of the market transformation that we believe is coming.

Studies have suggested that a battery range of 200 miles is about the point where most people stop worrying about range and demand moves from early adopters into the broader market. The opening of reservations for the Tesla Model 3 has been the first true test of what the demand might be for a moderately priced car with a 200 mile range. In fact, demand turns out to be vastly larger than anyone had previously imagined.

While certainly a great success for Tesla, this incredible sales event should also give comfort to Carlos Ghosn of Nissan, Mary Barra of General Motors, and other automakers who are boldly investing billions of dollars into building the new generation of 200 mile range electric vehicles–and wondering whether the demand for the cars is really there. Well, it’s there. It turns out that this is a very big sandbox and there is plenty of room for everyone to play.

The fact that Tesla uncovered such extraordinary demand for a vehicle that is still years from delivery suggests that there is plenty of room for others to succeed as well. People have diverse needs and lifestyles. Just as there are many different gasoline cars that are successful in meeting the varying needs of a variety of consumers, there is every reason to believe that there will be a number of successful electric vehicles meeting various needs in this newly developing market, driven by the biggest change in automobile technology since the Model T.

Source: Plugin America

Fuel prices have risen as oil recovers to $40 per barrel (Image: N. Ansell/PA)

Cheaper petrol ends as UK pump prices rise

RAC says prices have risen 3.4p a litre on average – the first increase on the forecourts since July 2015

Fuel prices have risen as oil recovers to $40 per barrel (Image: N. Ansell/PA)
Fuel prices have risen as oil recovers to $40 per barrel (Image: N. Ansell/PA)

Motorists have been warned that the period of lower fuel prices is over after the cost of petrol rose last month for the first time since July 2015.

Experts said the 3.4p a litre rise in average pump prices to 105p was a result of oil reaching $40 (£28) a barrel for the first time since early December.

The report by the RAC found that around £1.84 was added to the cost of filling up an average 55-litre car with unleaded.

Diesel forecourt prices increased by 3.7p a litre to 105p despite the wholesale price only rising by 1.5p, according to the RAC’s analysis.

The RAC claimed this indicates that retailers are either using the lower diesel wholesale cost to subsidise the price of petrol or using it as a means of increasing their profit margin.

Simon Williams, the RAC’s fuel spokesman, said:

“The good times for motorists enjoying lower fuel prices had to come to an end at some point, but unfortunately it’s happened with a bit more of a bump than motorists were probably expecting.”

He warned that there could be further bad news for motorists when oil producers meet later this month to discuss limiting their output, although he does not believe prices will reach $60 a barrel in the short-term.

“It looks as though we are heading towards a new norm of the oil price fluctuating between lower and upper limits of $35 and $55 a barrel,” he said.

“This means that motorists should hopefully not see the eye-watering prices they were paying at the pumps in April 2012 when the average price of petrol was 142p and diesel was close to 150p per litre.”

Source: The Guardian

Redflow better than Tesla’s home battery storage

Simon Hackett, the executive chairman of Australian battery storage developer Redflow, declares himself to be the number one fan of Tesla electric vehicles in Australia. But he insists that Redflow’s battery storage product is better than the Tesla Powerwall.


Redflow threw down the gauntlet to its much-hyped international rival on Wednesday, announcing the release of the ZCell battery storage product, bigger and more expensive than Tesla and other big name products, but one Hackett expects to be a force in the market.

“As Tesla’s biggest fan in Australia I’ve got a view that they’ve got the best battery technology for cars, but we do a better technology for houses and that’s totally cool,”

says Hackett, who has bought Tesla Roadsters and several Model S electric vehicles, has orders in for the Model X and will also be head of the queue for the new “mass market” Model 3.

“I expect Tesla to sell a hell of a lot of Powerwalls and the nice thing is that we have a market here that is going to explode, it’s not a matter of them having to lose for us to win or vice versa and you can appreciate as well we make a battery that’s a lot more grunt, a lot more capacity,” Hackett told RenewEconomy in an interview.

Hackett expects the market for battery storage in Australia to be “huge”. This, he says, will be driven by Australia’s high grid prices, its big rates of rooftop solar installation, a desire for more grid “independence”, and a wish to do something for the environment.

“I’m seeing the same set of signals from human beings that I saw at the start of the internet boom,” says Hackett, who made his fortune with his company.

“The batteries have gone from something that people that use to talk about in dark corridors to something that is a dinner table conversation in households.

“Tesla are the catalyst here, not the cause. The cause is that the conditions are right, batteries are … starting to approach the cost where we can have these conversations.

“It’s a tipping point in my view , you can see it a year ago you couldn’t have this discussion with a random person about batteries, now every second person I talk to engages me about it.”

Read more: Renew Economy

Tesla, rivals, software may kill petrol car as soon as 2025

The response to our article on Monday “Tesla Motor’s Elon Musk just killed the petrol car” was as fascinating as it was overwhelming. It is on track to be the most read story on our web-site to date.

The response was fascinating because it came from a mixture of those prepared to imagine the future, and read the signs of change, and those focused on short-term issues – be it meeting production schedules, reducing battery costs, or the immediate future of the Tesla share price.


Then there were those who simply didn’t want to know. The oil industry is one of them. It is making predictions, and seeking capital, as though the EV didn’t exist. The nuclear industry also wishes it wasn’t so. “This is bullish*t”, tweeted one of the most prominent nuclear advocates, still clinging to the old centralised energy model.

So we thought it would be useful to explain more about how it is that Musk has killed the petrol car. And for that we went back to Stanford University’s Tony Seba, the academic who predicts that fossil fuels, coal and oil in particular, will be redundant by 2030.

Seba tells RenewEconomy that the latest developments at Tesla, with the huge response to the sneak preview of its new Model 3, and the rollout over at General Motors of the Chevy Bolt, confirm his predictions. They may in fact accelerate them.

Seba’s message is not one that sits comfortably with incumbent industries, the auto and oil sectors in particular. He thinks that new internal combustion engine cars will not be on sale by 2025. Anywhere in the world. And there may not be many internal combustion engine buses, trucks, and tractors either.

Read more: Renew Economy