The US city of Santa Fe, New Mexico has voted unanimously to target 100% renewable energy for city owned operations by 2025. Presently 25% of the city’s energy now comes from renewable sources, primarily solar installations on municipal buildings.

China has reached its 2020 solar power target three years ahead of schedule, after installed solar capacity exceeds its 105 gigawatt (GW) target. In July capacity reached 212 GW.  China has the largest solar farm in the world, which measures in at over 30 square kilometres and recently opened the world’s largest floating solar farm. Despite this impressive growth in solar technology, solar satisfies only 1% of the nation’s energy demand. Coal still reigns supreme in its energy mix.

UK anaerobic digestion (AD) plants produce enough biogas to provide electric power over 1 million homes, according to the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association. The UK now has an AD capacity of 730 MWe-e (megawatt electrical equivalent), an increase of 18% over this time last year, with total energy generation of 10.7 TWh per year. Electricity generation from AD is receiving minimal government support, with the Feed-In Tariff for >500 kW plants down to just over 2 pence/kWh.

Currently there are 86 facilities in the United States that convert municipal solid waste into energy. These facilities are located in 25 states, mainly in the Northeast. The 86 facilities have the capacity to produce 2.7 gigawatts of electricity per year by processing more than 28 million tons of waste per year.

Ethiopia’s 50 megawatt Reppie waste-to-energy facility in the city of Addis Ababa, the first of its kind in Africa, will be commissioned in December. Built on Ethiopia’s largest landfill, the project will process 350,000 tonnes of solid waste annually and produce 185 GW-hours of electricity annually that will be exported to the Ethiopian national grid. This will be sufficient to power 25% of Addis Ababa’s households.

China is going to pay farmers to turn animal waste into fertilizer and electric power. The government announced it will give farmers subsidies to build animal waste processing facilities to make fertilizers or to treat manure so it’s safe for disposal, and also to install biogas plants that use methane to generate electricity. Chinese livestock farms generate nearly 4 billion tonnes of waste annually, according to the agriculture ministry.

A new study by the American Automobile Association concludes that compared to compact and midsize cars and SUVs, electric cars have a dramatically higher cost of ownership. Unlike many affordability studies that look at just the cost of certain aspects of ownership, the AAA study takes into account maintenance, consumable items like tires, insurance, initial price, depreciation, and the cost to fuel or charge a vehicle. Depreciation is the biggest negative for electric vehicles. EVs lose value for many reasons, including, ironically, tax deductions and government incentives. Fuel costs are low in the US right now and in many places electricity is expensive. Electric vehicle owners often include huge savings for fuel in their budgets, but the reality is that gasoline-powered vehicles can match EV’s costs per mile for power. You can see a summary of the study here and the full study is here.  See also EVs Are Cheap to Run but Expensive to Own, Thanks to Abysmal Resale Values

The rapid increase in electric car sales in China has been powered by generous government subsidies and incentives. In 2016 China sold half a million electric vehicles, making it by far the world’s largest EV market. About 340,000 of those were passenger cars, the rest were mostly buses. To achieve those sales, China’s central government offered subsidies of 30,000 yuan to buyers of plug-in hybrid cars, and as much as 55,000 yuan to purchasers of pure electric cars. Some local governments offered additional subsidies of the same amount, to total 60% of the vehicle’s sticker price. Moreover, in some places in the country licence plates for electric cars and plug-in hybrids are free. In comparison, Shanghai buyers of gasoline and diesel powered cars can pay as much as 80,000 yuan at auction for a permanent licence plate. Yet despite all these EV sales, the Asian country is short of EV charging stations to power the cars. As a result, private buyers tend to purchase plug-in hybrids to take advantage of the generous incentives, and then run them using only their conventional petrol engines. Interestingly, the biggest customers for these cars are often the local governments that support their manufacture. Last year, more than 40% of all electric vehicles sales were made in the final quarter of the year as local governments increased their purchases to ensure they met the central government’s target for EV sales in the country. In an attempt to tackle these market distortions, the central government announced plans to reduce its EV subsidies and to cap those offered by local governments. This year, the maximum central government subsidy for a pure electric car will be reduced from 55,000 to 44,000 yuan. And local government subsidies will be capped at half that. This, of course, will undoubtedly reduce the demand for EVs, opposite to the government’s intentions.


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