In East Africa, Tanzania’s state-owned power utility company has announced plans to export electricity to its neighbouring country, Kenya. The African Development Bank has agreed to finance the $300 million energy project, which would see Tanzania becoming an electricity exporter by 2018. A yet to be built 680 kilometer transmission line would provide Kenya with 2 gigabites of electricity.

Ireland’s state-owned electricity utility, ESB, announced plans to construct dozens of solar farms across the country that would also supply Northern Ireland. Ireland currently has about 1 megawatt (MW) of installed solar capacity but ESB wants to increase this to a minimum of 100 MW and potentially 500 MW by 2021.  There are no private solar firms in Ireland currently but two private firms have announced plans to also build solar capacity in the country. By comparison, Ireland has about 3 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind capacity.

The UK is exploring the idea of using hydrogen to heat its homes. This would be part of the country’s plan to phase out the use of natural gas with a carbon-free energy source. The UK government is looking at adopting a pilot project whereby the entire gas network for the city of Leeds, including all domestic gas boilers and cookers, would be converted to run on hydrogen. More than 80% of UK homes currently use natural gas for their heating and cooking. The plan sees Leeds converted into a “hydrogen city” by 2035 and it could be used as a model for other cities in the UK and other parts of the world. A key advantage for moving to hydrogen would be that the existing natural gas distribution pipe network infrastructure would need minimal modification and the change would be less disruptive for consumers than alternative energy sources.

Planetsave discusses the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy.

In March of this year, electric vehicles (plug-ins and hybrids) accounted for 60% of the Norway’s automobile sales. The high sales rate in Norway is driven by the perks offered by the Norweigian government for EV buyers. For Norway’s EV drivers, there is no car registration fee, free public parking, free public charging, free ferry trips, use of bus lanes, and no tolls on roads, bridges, or tunnels. Norway may have forfeited as much as $1.12 billion in vehicle taxes for the two years ended 2015 because of its EV exemptions.

The Electric Drive Transportation Association reported that pure electric cars sales in the US totaled 71,064 last year. That amounted to just 0.4% of the record 17.4 million cars sold in the United States in 2015. When hybrids are included the electric-car industry’s sales totaled 498,426 or 2.9% of the market. The Association believes that the future growth of the EV industry in the US will depend on how rapidly battery technology keeps improving, so that consumers can drive longer distances without recharging.

According to the group Plug ‘N Drive, there are 18,451 electric cars on the road in Canada, mostly in the three provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. There are 3,513 EV charging stations, including 102 that are for Tesla owners only. Only 51 of the total public charging stations are fast charging, i.e. take less than half an hour to charge a car. The vast majority require four to six hours to fully charge a vehicle. The Canadian government is currently in the process of exploring proposals for increasing the number of fast charging stations across the country.

Mercedes-Benz USA’s CEO, Dietmar Exlar, said the electric vehicle poses an existential threat to the petrol powered car — however, that threat is “more than a decade” away due to economic realities.  To become more affordable for consumers, battery capacity-to-price ratio would have to narrow for mass adoption of EVs. In addition, the used-car market for EVs is a barrier as consumers are uncomfortable buying a four-year-old electric car that might not have a warranty on the battery (the most expensive part in an EV). Exlar says he can envision a world of fully autonomous vehicles cruising around cities with no one in the driver seat, however, he believes that vision will have to wait until government regulators catch up, which will vary by country and could be a long time from now.

The government of South Korea announced it will no longer provide free charging for electric vehicles. The Ministry of the Environment said: “It is a measure that is necessary to lower the government’s financial burdens and to attract private businesses that are willing to run charging stations in the future.” There were 5,757 EVs in Korea last year. The government’s plan is to increase that number by 8,000 this year.

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