By 2026 the US is expected to become a net exporter of energy. By then the American economy will be producing 20% more energy than today, with domestic demand only having risen by 5%. This projection comes from the country’s Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook. Through to 2040, electricity is expected to be the largest single use of energy in the US. The biggest change the EIA expects to see over the next 30 years is that Americans will use more natural gas and renewables than they do now. Natural gas production is expected to grow 1.2% through 2050, with wind and solar power production growing 3.5%. Coal production will continue a slow but gradual decline, falling only 0.7% through 2050.

China will spend 2.5 trillion yuan (US$361 billion) on renewable electric power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency said this week.  By that date, renewable power capacity (including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power) will contribute to about half of all new electricity generation. The remainder will be supplied by coal-fired electricity plants. Last month, the country’s National Development and Reform Commission said solar power will receive 1 trillion yuan of spending which is the equivalent of 1,000 major solar power plants, according to experts’ estimates. The cost of building large-scale solar plants has dropped by as much as 40% in China since 2010. By 2020 renewable energy will supply about 15% of all of China’s electricity needs.

Electric Vehicle Arteries is planning to create a fast charging infrastructure for electric vehicles on main roads and motorways in Italy and Austria. Over the course of the three-year project 200 multi-standard fast charge stations, each of which is capable of offering all the fast charging standards (CSS Combo 2, CHAdeMO or AC charging), will be installed. The project is a collaboration of electric utility companies in each country along with automobile manufacturers Renault, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen Group Italia.

Market research company McKinsey has published a report looking at the hurdles  —  supply, demand and strategy  —  holding back the electric vehicle market. (You can download the report here.) The report highlighted the following:

  • 30% to 45% of vehicle owners in the US and Germany consider an electric vehicle purchase today.
  • But consumers are worried about mileage range.
  • Automakers may not have the capital to invest in electric vehicles when they also have to focus on autonomous systems, connected cars and new business models.
  • Battery costs have fallen 80% from 2010, but electric vehicles still cost more than traditional ones.
  • Automakers will need new business models to make money as the next wave of electric vehicle buyers will have lower incomes.

The big questions McKinsey asks about the transformation from a fossil fuel to electric transportation system include the price point that will be needed to drive adoption?  The price point boils down to one word: batteries. Given current system costs and pricing ability within certain segments, auto companies that offer EVs face the near-term prospect of losing money with each sale because of the large battery costs ($13,600 in 2016). And this does not include additional systems such as electric motors, high voltage wiring, on-board chargers, and inverters.

Green Car Reports tells us about the wildly different predictions for global electric vehicle market shares both in the near term (2020) and (2040). For 2020 the estimates range from 1% to 11%. Looking further to 2040, the estimates range from 6% to 35%. Ultimately the growth rates will depend on how quickly high mileage EV battery prices can decline to match or even beat the cost of internal combustion engines.

Hyundai is developing a second-generation hydrogen fuel cell SUV as a successor to the Tucson Fuel Cell SUV. The new vehicle is expected to feature a 348 mile range (561 km), falling just below the recently released Honda Clarity’s 366-mile range and above the Toyota Mirai’s 312-mile range. The vehicle will be offered in that US at about $50,000, compared to the Clarity at $60,000 and the Mirai at $57,500. It is expected to be available in the US market in January 2018. Hyundai also plans to introduce a commercial hydrogen fuel-cell powered bus sometime in 2017 to compete with Toyota’s 77 seat fuel cell bus.

GM has unveiled the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZH2. It is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that is expected to be part of a new generation of vehicles for the US Army, mostly used for light transportation. The refuel time is less than 5 minutes, and the range is comparable to a standard electric vehicle. The plan is to deploy the truck at three different military bases in April.

Transparency Market Research projects the global hydrogen generator market growing from US$800 million in 2015 to US$1.2 billion by 2024. Hydrogen generators are units installed on-site in order to produce hydrogen. They are often portable to enable users to produce temporary electric power. Many construction sites use portable hydrogen generators to power tools and lights at a remote site. The use of hydrogen in applications such as chemical processing, fuel cells, petroleum recovery and refining is expected to increase significantly throughout the forecast period as ever more stringent environmental legislation is enforced. The chemical processing and refining industries are the largest consumers of hydrogen.



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