FuelCell Energy, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cells, is constructing a new power plant in the US that will make use of the company’s fuel cell systems. Once operational, the plant is expected to supply electricity to 3,700 homes in the state of Connecticut.
Renewable energy sources comprised nearly 90% of new electric power capacity added to Europe’s electricity grids last year. Of the 24.5 gigawatts of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21 GW – or 86% – was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro power. Wind farms accounted for more than half of the capacity installed. Germany, which has three times as much wind power as any other European Union country, installed 44% of Europe’s new wind capacity last year.
According to WindEurope, Europe currently has 918.8 gigawatts of electric power generation capacity. Wind, with an installed capacity of 153.7 gigawatts, accounts for 17% of total electric generation capacity in Europe.
Canada now has 11.9 gigawatts of installed wind generation capacity, enough to supply 6% of the country’s electricity demand and meet the annual electricity needs of more than three million homes. Wind energy has been the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada since 2005. Between 2012 and 2016, the installed wind energy capacity grew by an average of 18%, or 1.3 gigawatts, annually. The Canadian Wind Energy Association projects the country to install approximately 700 megawatts of new wind energy capacity this year.
Electric vehicle sales in the US rose by 37% in 2016 with total sales of 159,139 EVs. More than half of these sales took place in the state of California, driven by the state’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which requires that a certain percentage of an automaker’s sales must be ZEVs. California’s goal is to put 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads by 2025.
Japanese automaker Honda announced a new joint venture with Hitachi to produce electric vehicle motors. The Japan-based joint venture, to start operating in March, will work on developing, manufacturing and selling motors for EVs. Hitachi Automotive Systems has been selling motors to the auto industry since 1999. Subsidiaries will be set up in the United States and China, each with manufacturing and sales functions. The partnership is not exclusive and will enable each company to continue working with other companies on EVs and parts.
Five of the largest electric vehicle charging network operators in Europe announced the ‘Open Fast Charging Alliance’, which will enable the creation of a network of DC fast chargers across the continent. The companies are Fastned (The Netherlands), Sodetrel (France), Smatrics (Austria), Grønn Kontakt (Norway), and GOtthard FASTcharge (Switzerland). Together they operate more than 500 fast chargers in 6 countries. They will use open standards to allow roaming between their respective networks. Fastned recently upgraded its chargers to 300 kW while GOtthard brought online its first 150 kW station.
Volkswagen has created a US subsidiary, called Electrify America, to manage the $2 billion the automaker agreed to spend in the US in support of zero-emissions vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the wake of its recent emissions cheating scandal. The German automaker will install more than 500 EV charging stations nationwide beginning this year. This includes more than 300 chargers in 15 metro areas and developing a high-speed, cross-country network of more than 200 chargers. In addition, the firm will launch a “Green City” initiative in a yet-to-be-named California city. The Green City will pilot a zero emissions-based shuttle service, an electric car-sharing program, and zero emission transit systems. Volkswagen is expected to plead guilty next week to three felony counts as part of a plea agreement with the US Justice Department to resolve charges it installed software in US vehicles to allow them to cheat automotive emissions tests.