The US city of Philadelphia announced it was the 10oth city in the US to commit to 100% renewable energy by the year 2035, a target sit by the Sierra Club for all US cities.

The US city of Columbia, South Carolina said it too would be depending on 100% renewable energy by 2035.

A few years ago, Stanford University engineering professor Mark Jacobson said the US and over 100 other countries could operate entirely with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Jacobson’s study has encouraged cities and regions around the world to commit to relying on 100% renewable energy within the next 20 to 35 years. This week Jacobson’s prognostication came under attack by the US National Academy of Sciences. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences some 20 scientists claim Jacobson’s analysis contains “numerous shortcomings and errors.” They found, for example, Jacobson overstated by roughly a factor of ten the ability of the US to increase its hydro power output. Moreover, Jacobson claimed that the US can store energy underground or store it in the form of hydrogen. The 20 scientists responded “there are no electric storage systems available today that can affordably and dependably store the vast amounts of energy needed over weeks to reliably satisfy demand using expanded wind and solar power generation alone.” In addition, Jacobson has repeated the erroneous claim that his all-renewable program would need only “about four-tenths of one percent of America’s landmass” to be successful.  His critics say Jacobson’s scheme would require “nearly 500,000 square kilometers, which is roughly 6 percent of the continental United States, and more than 1,500 square meters of land for wind turbines for each American.” In other words, they found that Jacobson understated the amount of land needed for his all-renewable utopia by a factor of at least 15. The US Department of Energy has reported that the footprint of wind energy would require 833,000 square kilometers or a territory nearly twice the size of California. Jacobson responded to this critique by claiming that his paper contains no errors; that his opponents are simply shilling for the nuclear and hydrocarbon sectors; and that the Department of Energy’s data on wind energy is just plain wrong.

The Montreal Economic Institute said subsidies from governments to encourage the use of electric vehicles are the most expensive and least effective way to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically the Institute noted subsidies offered by the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario together could cost those provinces more than $17-billion by 2030, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions in those provinces less than 4% a year. Ontario offers rebates of up to $14,000 and Quebec up to $8,000 to drivers for the purchase of electric vehicles. The Ontario subsidy is costing as much as $523 a tonne and Quebec’s $288 a tonne, compared with the federal government’s planned carbon tax which will reach $50 a tonne by 2022. Germain Belzile, senior associate researcher at the institute, said: “If the governments absolutely want to get to their emissions goals faster, the worst way of doing that is a subsidy to electric cars.” At the end of 2016, there were 29,270 electric vehicles registered in Canada and three-quarters of them were in Quebec and Ontario. Quebec wants to have at least 100,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020, and one million by 2030. Ontario’s goal is to have 5% of all passenger vehicles sold in the province be electric by 2020 (excluding pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles or minivans). Research shows as many as half of those who already bought an electric car in Quebec would have done so without the subsidy, so it is costing the provincial government a lot of money to convince people to do something they would have done anyway.

Korean automaker Hyundai has entered into contracts that will enable it to produce as many as 3,600 units of its new hydrogen fuel vehicle starting early next year. Sources say the first production run will be for 1400 vehicles. Hyundai introduced its new FE Fuel Concept vehicle at the Geneva auto show earlier this year.

The Australian state of South Australia has made a $9 million commitment to implement the first stage of the state’s Hydrogen Roadmap. The money will go toward the construction of a hydrogen production facility, a hydrogen refueling station, and a trial involving six hydrogen-fueled buses.

A study by the University of Calgary finds that older men (50+) would be the most likely to have a driverless car. A survey of 485 men and women, aged 18 and over in the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Calgary, examined the willingness of drivers to embrace the automated driving experience. Only 6% to 8% of respondents said they would be comfortable giving full control to autonomous vehicle. Moreover, those drivers who were on the confident and aggressive side tended to be less likely to give up control to a computer. The general conclusion of the study was that people are interested in autonomous vehicles but are reluctant to embrace a fully-automated driving life.

 

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