These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in the broad mitigation category.
1. Nationwide EV fast charging networks
Estonia with around 1.3 million people achieved the first Nationwide EV fast charging network. Now the Netherlands with about 16.8 million souls has established a contract to build the world’s largest. No citizen will be more than 50 km away from a charging station.
That’s impressive, but given the range of EVs still fairly thin on the ground. Will the charges include the cost of the capital required to roll out the plan? Also if they are going to be “user friendly”, will they sell you coffee while you wait the 15-30 minutes it takes to charge the batteries?
2. Congestion pricing in Gothenburg
Gothenburg with a population of some 528,000 has introduced congestion pricing on its road network, only to cars registered in Sweden, and only on weekdays between 6 am and 6:30 pm. The system became effective on 1 January this year. By late May traffic was down by 14% compared to the same time period in 2012.
The funds raised are to be used on transportation infrastructure projects.
Gothenburg is the
thirdfourth European city to launch congestion pricing, following London, Stockholm and Milan. Its structure is patterned after Stockholm’s system, which has cut vehicular traffic in that city by 20 percent, while boosting use of public transit during peak hours by an impressive 78 percent.
And that’s it, apparently. There are no such schemes elsewhere although some are under consideration.
3. One quarter of London rush hour vehicles are bikes
4. Youth fall out of love with the car?
Between 2001 and 2009 car travel by American youth declined 23% in favour of public transport, cycling and walking. Here’s the critical graph:
The suggestion is that a value shift is underway in America’s youth. The report Transportation and the New Generation also highlights the role of technology and social media in reducing the desire of the young to travel.
5. Five MW battery storage system
A new, state-of-the-art, 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was recently unveiled in South Salem, Oregon.
This is a demonstration project which is part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a successful public-private partnership involving 17 organizations across five Northwest states.
The new energy storage system should give grid operators the information they need to design better, larger systems and offers a means of exploring different ways to integrate wind power with the grid.
Energy storage systems of a much-larger scale are currently in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest — most utilizing relatively unconventional systems, such as underground compressed-air energy storage in porous rock, or abandoned mines.
Re the overall project:
This project—the largest of the 16 smart grid demonstration projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)—is a unique demonstration of unprecedented geographic breadth across five Pacific Northwest states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. It involves more than 60,000 metered customers, and contains many key functions of the future smart grid.
That’s real ‘direct action’ or part of it, in the USA.
6. Energy storage: Why we need it, and what it’s worth
Giles Parkinson reports on the Intersolar conference this week in San Francisco along with 20,000 other people. One of the most important topics was energy storage. Storage, he says, “is the deal-breaker, or the deal-maker, for both new generation technologies, and the incumbents who operate the grid.”
Cost is normally held to be important, and from that perspective scale is necessary to drive costs down to less than a quarter of what they are now. But:
Janice Li, a consultant with Strategem, and a member of the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), says energy storage will be a system-wide game changer, but the key lies not in the cost, but in the value to the grid, and the high renewable scenarios are the ones that create the most value.
The key was response time when demand changes. If you are quick you get paid more.
Another point of value could be in stabilising the grid, which Parkinson identifies as necessary in response to voltage and ramping issues
particularly in those areas – such as in Australia, Germany and in some suburbs in Los Angeles – where the penetration levels are getting to the point that the grid can’t, or won’t, take more.
7. The ‘electric cars aren’t green’ myth debunked
Last week Ootz linked to a critique of the green credentials of EVs by that former GM chappie. Apparently he is not alone and it may have been started by Bjorn Lomberg at the Wall Street Journal. Lindsay Wilson at Shrink that Footprint (he did the piece at 4 above and has some good stuff on his blog) has had a look at the issue.
The bottom line is that it depends on the ‘juice’, that is, the ultimate source of power. The business about the carbon footprint in building the car is pretty much a non-event. In Australia we have dirty electricity, so an electric car performs about the same as a conventional car using 26mpg (US). I make that 31 mpg Imperial or about 9 litres per 100 km. He’s used a Nissan Leaf style car as his base model, so that is a very ordinary performance.
So the conclusion is that in Australia you’d be better off with a garden variety hybrid or European diesel if you’re only option is to use grid electricity to power an EV.
Have I got that right?
Wilson has done the following graph in his report Shades of Green: