Joe Romm’s article was also posted at RenewEconomy.
Game-changing advances in batteries are happening so fast that, this week, oil giant BP announced it would invest $20 million in an Israeli company that could allow an electric car to be charged in five minutes.
On Wednesday, German battery maker Sonnen announced $71 million in new investments from Shell Ventures (the oil major’s venture capital fund) and others.
Also this week, National Grid, which runs England’s electric grid, announced a partnership with startup Pivot Power, which will create a $2 billion 2-Gigawatt network of batteries connected to the UK grid that will power 100 fast electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
And earlier this month, Volkswagen announced it had awarded an astounding $48 billion in contracts to purchase batteries. CEO Herbert Diess promised, “By 2020 we will offer our customers more than 25 new electric models and more than 20 plug-in hybrids … the world’s largest fleet of electric vehicles.”
($48 billion is about what Tesla is worth.)
Change is being driven partly by an increase in fuel prices, but largely by better technology and reduced battery prices. Major step changes in battery technology are still to come.
Here’s Bloomberg’s forecast:
Minister for climate and sustainability Shane Rattenbury:
- “From 2020 in the ACT, all electricity will be from renewable sources – so using a zero emissions vehicle charged in the ACT will result in no greenhouse gas emissions.”
The announcement on the EV charging network also comes less than two weeks after the ACT government ratcheted up its emissions reduction target to aim for net zero emissions by 2045, instead of 2050.
- US electric vehicle maker Tesla has released a progress report on its rollout of EV supercharger stations, with an updated global map revealing thousands of new stations either already being built or in the pipeline for construction.
According to the global map, the bulk of the estimated 10,000 “coming soon” supercharger stations will be installed in 2018/19 in North America, Europe, and China.
But Australia is getting its own boosted network, with another 18 supercharger stations planned for the east coast in both metropolitan regions and along “popular holiday routes, and one new charging station planned for Perth, Western Australia.
German battery giant sonnen has won key backing from global oil major Shell, after the latter’s venture capital arm Shell Ventures led a $A95 million fund raising round for the battery maker.
Sonnen said on Wednesday that it had closed the successful financing round of €60 million, the proceeds of which would go towards expanding the company’s strategy of rapid international growth and to further enhance its pioneering position as the “utility of the future”.
This expansion includes in Australia, where it is involved in several virtual power plant projects and has also proposed a battery manufacturing facility in Adelaide.
And the tie up will also involve linking sonnen’s smart batteries with new EV-charging infrastructure that is also being developed by Shell’s Venture, and is yet another significant indicator of the changing landscape of the energy industry.
Robert Dean reckons that by 2027 80 per cent of new vehicle sales will be electric, and 20 per cent hybrid.
He says that by 2022 the lifetime cost of ownership of an electric vehicle will be less than an internal combustion vehicle. By 2025 the initial purchase cost of electric will be cheaper.
However, he says we have too many cars. The young coming on will be more likely to dial an Uber, ride-share or use public transport.
- Anheuser-Busch (“A-B”), the largest brewer in the USA and owners of Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s and other beer brands, has placed an order for 800 Hydrogen-Fuel-Cell EV trucks (“FCEV”) with US manufacturer, Nikola, to be delivered by 2020.
It’s the first step in a transition to a 100% renewable energy long-haul fleet by 2025.
Currently there are over 700 laws relating to the function of autonomous vehicles in Australia. Transport ministers decided at their meeting on 18 May to clean it up and have new uniform laws in place by 2020, based on the National Transport Commission Policy Paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles.
Dan van Holst Pellekaan, the energy minister in the newly elected South Australia Liberal government, has vowed to continue the state’s dramatic energy transition and show other states “how it can be done”.
Seems he has gotten himself briefed and is going with the flow. His special thing is home battery storage.
apart from large-scale storage projects such as the Tesla big battery at Hornsdale and other battery storage projects, pumped hydro, hydrogen and solar thermal, he said his government was keen to embrace household storage
Van Holst Pellekaan also made it clear that the proposed 40,000 batteries that would be installed as the result of the Liberals $100 million subsidy scheme would be “connected”, possibly working as a virtual power plant, although the final details had not been worked out.
Queensland’s state-owned transmission company Powerlink says it has received enquiries about 30 GW of new generation projects, almost all of them renewables.
The state has some 2 GW of rooftop solar, but large-scale solar is starting to impact on the grid, with some 1400 MW, or $2.6 billion of projects to be connected this year. The 100 MW Clare solar farm has just started exporting to the grid. Clare is 35 km southwest of Ayr. (I picked tobacco at Clare one summer in the 1960s when they were still growing it there.)
A total of more than $4.2 billion worth of large-scale renewable energy projects are currently either under construction or financially committed.
This will offer a combined employment injection of more than 3500 construction jobs across regional Queensland and more than 2000 MW of power.
Australia’s biggest solar farm – the 220MW (AC) Bungala solar project near Port Augusta in South Australia – has begun production marking the important first stage of the transformation of a former coal city into a major renewable energy hub.
The first output from Bungala – which could end up being a 300MW project if all three stages are built – was injected into the local grid last week, as final commissioning of the 110MW first stage continues.
Bungala, located 12kms from Port Augusta, is one of a number of major renewable projects being built, or about to start construction, near the city which once hosted the state’s two brown coal generators.
Near Bungala, the 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm, along with at least 10MW of battery storage, is under construction, and the 150MW Aurora solar tower, with 8 hours of molten salt storage, should start construction later this year about 30kms north of the town.
- UK steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has dramatically increased the scope of his renewable energy plans for Australia, saying his company could build 10 gigawatts of large-scale solar across the country, as well as an electric vehicle manufacturing facility.
Gupta’s GFG Alliance and its energy offshoot SIMEC ZEN has previously spoken of 1GW of solar plus storage just in South Australia to power the newly purchased Whyalla steel works, and more for the OneSteel assets that he now also owns in NSW and Victoria.
He’s betting that Australia’s solar potential will give it the edge so that manufacturing can emerge here as a growth industry.
- Gupta also confirmed plans to begin manufacture in Australia of a radical new lightweight electric car, developed by former F1 car maker Gordon Murray.
He said this could happen within two or three years, but it was not yet clear if that would occur in South Australia, or another state such as Victoria, as recently suggested.
12. The game is up
I appreciate that most of the above items appeared at RenewEconomy in the last week or so. I’ve extracted them from the large flow there and highlighted them here to indicate that we are in the cusp of a huge change in the energy environment which has the potential to change our society. Australia’s policy makers and politicians can get on board or get swamped by the tide. History will be judge them harshly if they don’t.
The key point that I would like to get across is that the game is up — wind and solar photovoltaics [PV] have won the race. It is a lay-down misere. The number one new generation technology being installed around the world is solar PV, number two is wind, and coal is a distant third. This year, roughly 200 gigawatts of PV and wind new generation capacity will go in around the world, while only 50 gigawatts of coal will go in. That is a difference factor of four between PV and wind and coal. In Australia, virtually all new generation capacity is PV and wind. The reason for this is that PV and wind are decisively cheaper than coal, even when one adds the additional costs to stabilise a variable renewable energy supply, such as storage, primarily in the forms of batteries and pumped hydro; stronger interconnection; and some spillage of wind and PV. That is the basic message I have. If you want cheap electricity you push renewables as hard as you can. (Emphasis added)