Reading, seeing, watching, or listening to what passes off as news these days can inevitably bring a sense of doom, uncertainty, and fear (FUD) that some politicians love to bathe in to justify their middlemen role and push whatever pet project they have for their business buddies. But there is also good quality news out there if you let independent journalists communicate what they know best, fields they master for the purpose of bringing more light to important matters.
If you feel like packing and leaving for another country, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. But we do have some good news to share that should give you faith in more of your fellow countrymen/women.
1) Electric Vehicles Are Arriving
It may feel like it has taken forever, but electric vehicles (EV) are finally arriving — really arriving. We’re entering a point where the good groundwork from thousands of leaders putting in the sweat over the course of decades is bringing us commercially available electric cars that are better than similarly priced gas cars in practically every way. We’re also getting into an era of autonomous electric vehicles, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft (electric, of course), competitive electric scooters (e-scooters) that are also intelligent and can tell you if someone is tampering with them, competitive and diverse electric bicycles and motorcycles (e-bike and e-motorcycles), electric skateboards (e-skateboard) that will knock your socks off, and perhaps even the first commercially viable passenger electric airplanes (e-planes) of decent size and capacity. Electric vehicles have gone from a naive view and hope to a fast-growing industry moving serious cash as well as human flesh. With diesel car bans on top of this, life looks good for EVs.
2) Renewable Energy Is Up
Our understanding of renewable energy has also developed dramatically in just the past few years, with a lot of naysayers finally caving to the reality of clean energy’s potential — and remaining naysayers clearly trying to live in a warped and worse alternative reality. Utilities are connecting more renewable energy than fossil energy — all over the world — and cities are welcoming it as a way to take stronger climate, clean air, and public health action than states and nations are willing to take. New wind energy generation has been cheaper than electricity from new dirty energy projects in most of the world for a few years, and solar energy is increasingly undercutting wind energy — even in grey, northerly Europe!
3) The Demise Of Fossil Fuel As A Safe Investment
This one has been making waves constantly and consistently, but the story gets more and more clear. Now that renewable energy is on financial par with fossil fuels — well, cheaper than fossil fuels — and prices are still coming down at a strong clip, investing in fossil power plants doesn’t make much sense. Oil is facing a similar reckoning point as batteries and electric vehicles hit that key crossover point. The demise of fossil fuel investment is a real thing. It’s not just a hippie case, but a business case. Money is shifting in the massive energy market from dirty sources to clean sources.
4) Batteries Keep On Getting
Perhaps the star of the pack is batteries. Batteries are at the heart of some of the shifts above. They have consistently shown to grow in density while falling in price and now result in entry-level EVs below $20,000, or even below $10,000 in China. They also allow the Tesla Model 3 to outcompete traditional giants like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Prices for lithium-ion EV batteries have dropped by 75% in 6 years, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. The price drops aren’t stopping either.
Batteries, by storing energy when the sun isn’t shining or the wind blowing, will help renewable energy reach its full potential as well. That just grows the renewable energy adoption trend, and especially as solar panels + batteries or wind turbines + batteries are becoming more cost-competitive than polluting fossil fuel power plants.
5) Energy Efficiency Is In & Cool
Energy efficiency is not nearly as hot of a cleantech “brand,” but it is actually one of the greenest avenues to take and it is also following a strong forward and upward trend.
Data shows that efficiency in homes, transport, and industries throughout the European Union improved by about a fifth since 2000. US homes and business also keep getting more efficient as they learn that switching to LEDs, more efficient appliances, and simply newer products leads to significant energy and financial savings.
In Conclusion, Life Is Good?
We’ll hold off on passing that judgment but suffice it to say, it is better than many of us expected a few years ago it would become. The road is still tortuous and there is a lot of work to do while we reel in the lethargy and lack of action from companies and some of their political representatives. These 5 trends should make you a little hopeful, if not at least give you a better feel for the reality of things.
It’s hard to not bump into a story relating some sort of Siemens-supported electric vehicle (EV) these days. From trains to electric vehicle (EV) motors, the German international giant seems to be everywhere. When it comes to electric aircraft, Siemens seems particularly aggressive and ahead of the game, almost to the point of asking the question, is Siemens trying to corner the market and establish itself as the electric flight standard?
Siemens & The New Electric Flight Industry
Electric airplanes are getting quite a bit of attention this year. So far, we’ve covered a few stories highlighting how the industry is moving forward. Siemens has been working the new industry hard. Its electric motors are often associated with maiden electric flights and tests. It also gets out in front on some of those stories, not just subtly participating via hardware inside the electric planes.
In its latest public interaction, Siemens showed attendees to Innovation Day in Chicago its e-plane and hybrid electric aircraft progress. Siemens showed a first to a somewhat bewildered US crowd — its Magnus LSA fitted with a 55 kW Siemens electric motor.
Siemens plays it cool and reminds journalists that it has no intentions of competing on the OEM front when it can supply those OEMs with its electric motors and expertise. Siemens vice president of electric and hybrid-electric propulsion, Terry Hamlin, said that Siemens wants to be part of the electric mobility (e-mobility) solution and would rather work with than compete with airplane companies, such as Boeing, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce, the last two of which are working on an eFan regional airplane that should see the light of day in roughly a decade.
Siemens Electric Magnus LSA
It is obvious to most readers that by now the aviation industry needs a serious shift in the way it uses fuel for its propulsion needs, away from fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy. Much less noise from electric aircraft also mean later flights and landings/takeoffs potentially closer to where we live since e-plane make very little noise gliding to a landing.
Greg Bowles, who is the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s vice president of global innovation and policy, says, “With every R&D dollar we’re moving toward increased power density and reduce weight on battery. Battery power is also expected to change flight training…”
It’s funny to think our fathers flew across the Atlantic with propeller airplanes that had to stop along the way. The last trip I took to Europe was on a brand new carbon fiber Boeing Airbus 787 that doesn’t pressure the aircraft as much as regular aluminum ones. The progress has been astonishing and the next frontier is that of electric flight. The Siemens electric motor on the Magnus LSA is a perfect way to test 55 kW in the air.
Renewable Energy Needs To Scale Up By A Factor Of Six, Reports IRENA
April 18th, 2018 by Joshua S Hill
The speed of global renewable energy adoption needs to increase by at least a factor of six if the world is to meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, but which would also result in the growth of the global economy and global welfare, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, was launched at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue being held on Tuesday and Wednesday at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. According to the report, cumulative energy system investment would need to be increased by 30% through to 2050 in favor of supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency — from around $93 trillion under current and planned policies, up to $120 trillion. This investment figure also requires $18 trillion be directed towards power grids and energy flexibility — double that of current and planned policies.
Investing so heavily in renewable energy and energy efficiency can also result in the creation of over 11 million additional energy-sector jobs, which would completely offset the job losses stemming from the downturn in the fossil fuel industry. Of course, there is not necessarily a direct one-to-one translation from the fossil fuel industry to a renewable energy job, but if governments around the world and companies make it a priority, job transition and re-education can mitigate some of the fossil fuel job losses.
The IRENA report also highlighted the value of “immediate” action to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and energy efficiency, noting that more immediate action will reduce the scale and value of stranded energy-related assets in the future, which would end up saving taxpayers and companies billions. Specifically, the current value of stranded assets under IRENA’s current roadmap is set at $11 trillion by 2050, but that could double if immediate action is not taken.
“Renewable energy and energy efficiency together form the cornerstone of the world’s solution to energy-related CO2 emissions, and can provide over 90% of the energy-related CO2 emission reductions required to keep global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “If we are to decarbonise global energy fast enough to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, renewables must account for at least two-thirds of total energy by 2050.
“Transformation will not only support climate objectives, it will support positive social and economic outcomes all over the world, lifting millions out of energy poverty, increasing energy independence and stimulating sustainable job growth. An opportunity exists to ramp up investment in low-carbon technologies and shift the global development paradigm from one of scarcity, inequality and competition to one of shared prosperity – in our lifetimes. That is an opportunity we must rally behind by adopting strong policies, mobilizing capital and driving innovation across the energy system.”
The issue is most obviously highlighted by the trends current policies have on the planet. Current government plans fall short of the emissions reductions necessary, and at today’s trajectory, we would see the planet exhaust its energy-related “carbon budget” allowed under a 2oC scenario in only 20 years, despite expected and continued strong renewable energy growth.
As a result, significant improvements are vitally necessary in terms of energy intensity, and the share of renewable energy must increase by two-thirds.
It is important to see that transitioning to renewable electricity is not just to satisfy the desires of environmentalists and renewable energy companies. Over the past several years we have seen numerous examples proving that the low-carbon transition makes economic sense. Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures result not just in cleaner energy generation, but also reduced air pollution, better health, and lower environmental damage — all of which far outweigh the costs of transitioning.