S1 E9: Electric Volvo XC40, ice drifting in the Porsche Taycan, EVs in Norway, Vistra replacing coal power plants, Japanese rail installs Tesla Powerpacks, and coal powered EVs?

Volvo XC40 is going electric

[Automotive News] Volvo will reveal the full-electric version of the XC40 before the end of the year, the company told Automotive News Europe at a safety event here last week. Officials declined to provide additional details.

Adding a battery-powered version of the compact crossover to the lineup is a crucial step for Volvo, which wants full-electric cars to account for half of its global sales by 2025.

Source: https://www.autonews.com/cars-concepts/volvo-xc40-full-electric-variant-debut-year

Porsche Taycan goes ice drifting


  • 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in “way below” 3.5 seconds

  • “more than a dozen 0-62mph standing starts with no fall-off in power”

  • “at least four 0-124mph runs without degradation”

  • top speed of at least 250 km/h (155 mph)

  • “It will maintain its top speed “for longer than you could drive at that speed on any public road”

  • range to be above 500 km (311 miles) NEDC (WLTP range of ~270 mi and EPA range of ~240 mi)

  • 800 V architecture

  • battery recharge in just 4 minutes to replenish 100 (62 miles) according to NEDC

  • 10-80% recharge in around 20 minutes

Source: https://insideevs.com/details-porsche-taycan-spill-test-drives/

It’s an EV world in Norway

[Teslarati] Norway registered 10,316 electric vehicles in March, comprising 58.4% of all car sales in the month. This was the first time that EVs accounted for more than 50% of all auto sales in the country. The market share of all-electric cars in the first quarter was also the highest recorded at 48.4%.

What is rather remarkable about Norway’s EV sales record was that it was largely driven by the Tesla Model 3, which set a new benchmark for competing electric car makers by selling 5,315 vehicles in March. That’s far above the previous record held by the Nissan Leaf, which sold 2,172 units in one month last year.

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-3-norway-electric-car-sales/

Energy provider Vistra is replacing coal plants with solar and battery storage

[PV Magazine] Illinois State Representative Luis Arroyo filed an amendment to House Bill 2713, the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act. The legislation aims to create a financial structure to keep at-risk coal plants online through 2024, while funding a build-out of solar+storage, energy efficiency, and transmission to replace the lost capacity.

Just last year, a study sponsored by NRDC and Sierra Club finds that old coal plants can be retired and safely replaced by solar and other resources. The study was written specifically to counter a push by Vistra Energy to gain subsidies for its old plants.

Vistra Energy and its subsidiaries own 5.5 GW of coal resources within the region noted in the legislation (MISO Zone 4), which represents 40% of the summer capacity within that region. The company is seemingly a (the?) major backer, as noted by their website and press releases supporting the document.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2019/04/01/the-illinois-coal-for-solar-and-energy-storage-act-is-real/

Japanese Rail company goes Tesla with Powerpack


Tesla has completed its largest battery storage installation in Asia in Osaka, Japan. The 4.2 MW / 7 MWh facility uses 42 Tesla Powerpack battery storage units, which were installed in just 2 days following their arrival onsite.

The customer is Kintetsu Railway, whose electrified trains operate on 500 km (311 miles) of track.

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/29/largest-tesla-battery-storage-installation-in-asia-for-japanese-railway/

Are EVs really powered by coal?

The statement I see very often in the comments of my videos from contrarians regarding EVs is that they are no better than fossil fuel powered vehicles since they are charged from the grid, which they say, is powered by coal. This raises the question, are EVs really powered by coal?

The short answer is: it depends on where you live in the world. 

Mexico: 80% of power generated comes from non-renewable sources like petroleum, coal, and nuclear. 

China: 70% from non-renewables - 63% coming from coal.

Australia: 87% of power generation in the country from coal.

Mexican power: https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.php?iso=MEX

Chinese power: https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.php?iso=CHN

Norway: 100% of your electricity is generated by water through hydroelectric means.

Canada: 648.4 TWh of electricity, of which 66% came from renewable sources - and 59% of their renewable sources are coming from hydroelectric.

Norwegian power: https://www.ssb.no/en/energi-og-industri/statistikker/elektrisitet/aar

Canadian power: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/electricity/20068

For this video, we’re going to dive into detail over what the US energy mix is and just how much comes from non-renewable sources like coal.

If we look at a graph of US power generation from 1965-2018, we instantly get an idea of where our power is coming from. The big blue line is coal. As you can see, coal hit its peak in 2007 with just over 2 million killowatthours generated and has been taking a sharp decline since then. This coal decline is in direct correlation to natural gas’s sharp incline, taking over as the dominant energy source in 2015 with 1.3 million killowatthours generated.

US power: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/browser/?tbl=T07.02A#/?f=A&start=1949&end=2017&charted=1-2-3-5-8-14

US Renewable: 16%

US Coal: 28%

US Natural Gas: 35.8%

Why aren’t renewables better represented in the US? Three words: supply and demand. Lack of demand keeps costs high. High demand typically drives research and development (R&D). R&D creates efficiencies usually result in lower costs and economies of scale, which consequently spur on even demand. 

This is certainly the case for any new technology. The cost is typically high in the beginning, but then falls as mass adoption takes place. Remember the cost of early mobile phones in the 80s? The Motorola DynaTAC in 1983 cost just under $4,000, factoring in inflation that’s over $10,000 in today’s money. You can now find smartphones for $200-$300.

I expect renewable sources of power generation to follow a similar ubiquitous trajectory. Here’s why: EVs are powered by electricity. As more people choose electric powertrains over fossil fuel variants, the demand for powering an EV at home will increase. If an owner sees that home electricity costs increase, they will look into ways to reducing those costs. What is the most cost effective and efficient way for a home owner to generate their own power? You probably guess it - solar power and home battery storage.

Electric vehicles will likely singlehandedly drive solar and battery storage costs - resulting in a vehicle powered completely by sun. In fact, even if an EV owner ops to not install a home solar system, large scale power providers are also driving renewable sources of energy.

Duke energy has committed to adding 700 MW of solar energy by 2022. 

NextEra Energy currently generates 2,000 MW of solar energy, 14,000 MW of wind energy, and has 100 MW of battery storage in their territory. 

Though some might say it’s important, these companies aren’t driven to save the world from climate change - they’re driven by profits. Power providers are learning that after up front costs, renewable energy power generators are extremely inexpensive and profitable. This expansion of clean energy generators only benefits the EV owner looking to power their vehicles from clean sources.

Duke power: https://www.duke-energy.com/our-company/environment/renewable-energy

NextEra power: http://www.nexteraenergy.com/sustainability/environment/renewable-energy.html

So to address the question, are EVs really powered by coal?

If you power your vehicle from the US grid, only partially and the grid is becoming cleaner each year. If you choose to install solar and home battery storage on your home, your EV can be powered by 100% renewables - something fossil fuel vehicles will never be able to claim.

Wrap up

Thank you so much for listening

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