Direct Current (DC) Supergrids are appearing in China, India. Europe and Brazil. Long-distance ultra-high-voltage direct-current (UHVDC) connectors are now transmitting electricity over thousands of kilometres more efficiently than AC or alternating current. China began building these transmission facilities in 2010 and is currently has one under construction that will carry 12 gigawatts (half the average power use of Spain) over 3,400 kilometers.  This journey is so long that it requires 1.1 million volts to push the current to its destination. Brazil is planning a 2,500 km line that will run from the Belo Monte hydropower plant on the Amazon to Rio de Janeiro. India has both a 1,700 km and 1,400 km transmission line. These lines all run from hydropower stations to an urban community.  However, plans are underway to bring wind power across long distances to other areas where the power is needed, including to neighbouring countries. Germany is constructing the SuedOstLink which will bring wind power from the northeast part of the country to Bavaria in the south of the country and eventually to Austria. In time we could see UHVDC lines stretching from the north of Sweden down to Bavaria and perhaps a UHVDC grid in Europe — one in which the lines actually interconnect with each other. Meanwhile, the US is looking forward to its first UHVDC line. Later this year, work is expected to begin on a 1,100 km line between the states of Oklahoma and Tennessee where it will bring wind generated electricity to 9 million customers.

China plans to spend 50 billion yuan (about US$7.3 billion) on building methane projects in rural areas for electricity generation. Between now and 2020 the country is scheduled to build 172 new biogas projects and 3,150 large-scale methane projects. Adding 5 billion cubic meters of methane producing capacity will replace the equivalent of 3.5 million tonnes of coal.  Rural businesses create billions of tons of biomass waste annually, which can potentially be used to produce 73.6 billion cubic meters of biogas and replace 87.6 million tonnes of coal.  Combined these projects are expected to provide power to more than 230 million rural residents.

BTE tells us how hydrogen cars work.

Europe’s largest hydrogen bus project was stated last week with the announcement of a €125 million project to deliver 144 hydrogen fuel cell buses and seven large hydrogen refueling stations across Europe. The buses will be employed if 5 countries. Initially the project will primarily be focused on the UK where the buses will take to the roads in the cities of London, Birmingham, Dundee and Aberdeen. One of the goals of the new project is to demonstrate the capabilities of fuel cells and how they can be used to power commercial vehicles.

British newsletter Automotive Industry Data says Western Europe’s sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) stagnated in 2016.  Sales grew 4.6% to 94,056 in an overall automobile market that expanded by 5.8%. Market share for BEVs remained unchanged at 0.68%. The newsletter noted:

“European consumers’ appetite for today’s still high-priced electric cars, despite tempting financial incentives and notable infrastructure improvements, is not yet strong enough to finally kick-start West Europe’s evidently stalled electric car market.”

Volkswagen announced its new Modular Electric Drive (MEB platform) will go into production in 2019 when it starts producing its first all-electric vehicles. Over the next decade the German automobile manufacturer will convert all of its factories to include EV production and hybrids. The Zwickau plant in Saxony will be the first to be updated to support the new platform. The Wolfsburg and the Emden plants will follow shortly thereafter. The first all-electric vehicle on the platform is expected to be a Golf-sized all-electric vehicle with a driving range of over 300 miles. The current version of the electric Golf has a 124 mile range on a 35.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack.

Swedish electric utility Vattenfall said it plans to switch its passenger car fleet to electric vehicles over the next five years. The state-owned company revealed that more than 3,000 diesel vehicles in Sweden, Netherlands and Germany will be replaced by electric alternatives.

A new report from IDTechEx projects the industrial electric vehicle market will be a $350 billion global industry by 2027. Construction, agriculture and mining alone will amount to $81 billion. Important sectors will also include military and forklifts. Hybrid vehicles based on batteries and supercapacitors and pure electric powertrains will be the most popular technology.

The Philippines Department of Energy said it is exploring the possibility of integrating electric vehicle charging areas in gasoline stations as the Asian country gets ready for the advent of electric vehicles.

Grab, a rival to Uber in Southeast Asia, introduced a new ride-sharing operation using private buses in Singapore. Grab Coach is aimed at large groups that would otherwise require multiple cars. There are three types of coaches: 13 seaters, 23 seaters and 40 seaters. Each can be booked with the Grab app like its other services. Grab operates in 5 countries Southeast Asia with 600,000 drivers offering private car ride sharing, car-pooling, motorbikes on-demand, as well as logistics and delivery.

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