Crude oil prices would have to skyrocket above $350 per barrel for electric vehicle makers to make a dent in the global automobile market, according to a study done by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. Oil prices are currently hovering in the $40 per barrel range. The batteries for EVs cost, on average, about $325 per kilowatt-hour, which means the price of oil would need to climb almost 1,000% before EVs would be cheaper than petrol-powered vehicles. “While alternative sources of energy and energy storage technologies have vastly improved, lowering costs, they still have a long way to go before they are cost competitive with fossil fuels,” Chris Knittel, co-author of the study.

China’s first ever permanent magnet subway train is now operating in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan Province. Also known as a maglev, it uses magnetic fields created by electric coils to levitate slightly and propel the train forward. The train is 30% more energy efficient than traditional subway trains.

Poland’s antitrust agency blocked Russia’s plans to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltics. The agency ruled the pipeline would put too much of the Polish natural gas market in the hands of foreign firms and impede the ability of Poland’s new LNG terminal in Świnoujście to compete. It appears that three of Russia’s proposed pipelines designed to move Russian natural gas to Europe are now on hold.  South Stream, which was to be built under the Black Sea and land in the Balkans; Turkish Stream, a South Stream alternative also under the Black Sea, and now Nord Stream 2. (Nord Stream 1 is a natural gas pipeline that connects Russia to Germany.)

Last week, due to very high winds, Scotland’s wind farms generated more electricity than was required in the country for a single day. A total of 39,545 megawatt-hours of electricity was produced by the turbines, more than the nation’s total consumption of 37,202 MWh.

The eastern US state of Massachusetts passed legislation to create an energy future where its homes and businesses are powered by energy from ocean- and land-based wind farms, solar power, and hydroelectricity imported from the Canadian province of Quebec. The state now mandates electric power utilities must enter into 15-20 year contracts with offshore wind farm developers to bring at least 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of electric power into the state. Utilities are also required to enter into contracts for up to 1.2 additional GW of energy generation from a mix of hydro, onshore wind and solar.  The state wants the contracts entered into by June 2017. The law sets a goal of adding the offshore wind power no later than June 30, 2027. Whether that deadline can be reached will depend on myriad factors, including how quickly wind farms and transmission lines can get permits and be constructed. (1 GW is the electricity generated by a typical nuclear reactor.)

14 police stations in the Indian city of Kakinada are now operating under solar power. The daily electricity requirements of each station are being met by a 1.5 kilowatt solar panel as well as an inverter and batteries for the system.

In Japan sewage is powering hydrogen vehicles. In the southern city of Fukuoka a sewage treatment plant is creating hydrogen from biogas (the combination of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the breakdown of organic matter). Now drivers of the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity are able to drive up to the sewage plant and fill up their hydrogen fuel cell cars. The station is working only 12 hours a day but is making enough hydrogen to fill 65 cars daily. That could increase to 600 vehicles if all the biogas at the plant is used. Customers are charged about $11 for a kilogram of hydrogen, and a fill-up requires about five kilograms, making the cost comparable to driving a petrol car.

Japan is not alone at thinking of using sewage to power automobiles. A 2014 study by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that biogas from waste water treatment plants, landfills, manure and industrial facilities could be used as a major source of hydrogen — enough to support 11 million fuel cell vehicles a year. “Sewage sludge is completely untapped today as a hydrogen fuel source,” says Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai. “We believe it’s very promising and would bring ultimate self-sustainability to communities.”

New Zealand has created a fund to increase the purchase of electric and other low emission vehicles. Up to $7 million will be made available starting next month. Energy Minister Simon Bridges said his government has set a target to double the number of EVs on the road each year to reach 64,000 by 2021. By 2025, New Zealand plans to obtain 90% of its electricity from renewable energy resources such as hydro, wind and solar.

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