Top 5: A New Green Deal for All Countries

12.23.19 | Blog | By:

Hello friends! Here’s my monthly take on five most interesting developments in fuels and vehicles trends. Items I selected include:

  • A New Green Deal for All Countries?: Yes, say Stanford researchers, and it can be done by 2050 for $73 trillion that would pay for itself over time.
  • IBM Creates a New Battery: No lithium or cobalt required.
  • A New Green Deal for Europe: The 10-point deal includes numerous provisions directed at transport.
  • Biofuels and Food Prices: A new study found that biofuels have not impacted food prices. In fact, during the biofuel boom, they were at their lowest.
  • Breaking the Car Culture: To break the car culture in the U.S., stop funding new highways and put that funding into public transport, a new report says.

1. Science Magazine: Could Every Country Have A Green New Deal? Stanford Report Charts Paths For 143 Countries Ten years after the publication of their first plan for powering the world with wind, water, and solar, Stanford researchers offer an updated vision of the steps that 143 countries around the world can take to attain 100% clean, renewable energy by the year 2050. The new roadmaps, published December 20 in the journal One Earth, follow up on previous work that formed the basis for the energy portion of the U.S. Green New Deal and other state, city, and business commitments to 100% clean, renewable energy around the globe–and use the latest energy data available in each country to offer more precise guidance on how to reach those commitments. The figure below shows the roadmaps for getting there.

Source: Jacobsen

In this update, researchers find low-cost, stable grid solutions in 24 world regions encompassing the 143 countries. They project that transitioning to renewable energy could reduce worldwide energy needs by 57%, create 28.6 million more jobs than are lost, and reduce energy, health, and climate costs by 91% compared with a business-as-usual analysis. The new paper makes use of updated data about how each country’s energy use is changing, acknowledges lower costs and greater availability of renewable energy and storage technology, includes new countries in its analysis, and accounts for recently built clean, renewable infrastructure in some countries.

The roadmaps call for the electrification of all energy sectors, for increased energy efficiency leading to reduced energy use, and for the development of wind, water, and solar infrastructure that can supply 80% of all power by 2030 and 100% of all power by 2050. All energy sectors includes electricity; transportation; building heating and cooling; industry; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; and the military. The researchers’ modeling suggests that the efficiency of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over fossil fuel vehicles, of electrified industry over fossil industry, and of electric heat pumps over fossil heating and cooling, along with the elimination of energy needed for mining, transporting, and refining fossil fuels, could substantially decrease overall energy use. The cost? $73 trillion worldwide, but the researchers this would pay for itself over time by energy sales.

2. Gizmodo: IBM Research Created a New Battery That Outperforms Lithium-Ion—No Problematic Heavy Metals Required ― Scientists at IBM Research have developed a new battery whose unique ingredients can be extracted from seawater instead of mining. The battery replaces the need for cobalt and nickel in the cathode, and also uses a new liquid electrolyte (the material in a battery that helps ions move from one end to the other) with a high flash point. The combination of the new cathode and the electrolyte materials was also found to limit the creation of lithium dendrites which are spiky structures that often develop in lithium-ion batteries that can lead to short circuits. According to the company, the new battery would:

  • Have less of an impact on the environment to manufacture,
  • Be safer, with a reduced risk of fire or explosions,
  • Have a larger capacity than existing lithium-ion batteries,
  • Potentially charge to about 80 percent of its full capacity in just five minutes,
  • Be more energy-efficient, and,
  • Cheaper to manufacture which in turn means they could help reduce the cost of gadgets and electric vehicles.

IBM will be joining with Mercedes to further explore and develop the technology.

3. Euractiv: EU Commission Unveils ‘European Green Deal’: The Key Points Climate policy is Europe’s new growth strategy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during the unveiling of the European Green Deal earlier this month. Part of the strategy was specifically directed at transport, including:

  • Giving “fresh political consideration” as to how to achieve effective road pricing in the EU.
  • Ending fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Encouraging multi-modal transport.
  • Helping develop smart systems for traffic management and Mobility as a Service solutions.
  • Ramping up the production and deployment of sustainable alternative transport fuels.
  • Ramping up public recharging and refueling stations for EVs
  • Considering “legislative options” to boost the production and uptake of sustainable alternative fuels for the different transport modes.
  • Reviewing the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive and the TEN-T Regulation to accelerate the deployment of zero- and low-emission vehicles and vessels.
  • Proposing more stringent air pollutant emissions standards for combustion-engine vehicles. “The Commission will also propose to revise by June 2021 the legislation on CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans, to ensure a clear pathway from 2025 onwards towards zero-emission mobility.”

Other key provisions include:

  • Climate Neutral Europe: The EU will aim to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a goal that will be included in climate legislation to be presented for consideration in March 2020. That means updating the EU’s climate ambition for 2030, with a 50-55% cut in GHG emissions to replace the current 40% objective.
  • Zero Pollution: Whether in air, soil or water, the objective is to reach a “pollution-free environment” by 2050.
  • R&D and Innovation: With a proposed budget of €100bn over the next seven years (2021-2027), the Horizon Europe research and innovation program will also contribute to the Green Deal. About 35% of the EU’s research funding will be set aside for climate-friendly technologies under an agreement struck earlier this year.
  • Just Transition Mechanism: The Commission proposes a €100 billion Just Transition Mechanism to help regions most heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

4. Biomass and Energy: Biofuel Impact on Food Prices Index and Land Use Change ― A new study published in the journal Biomass and Energy found no evidence of food price increases or other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel. Food price and land use data over an extended time period were examined to identify possible correlations between biofuel production and food price or land use changes. The food price index before and after the biofuel boom in the 2000s were compared to evaluate biofuel’s impact on the inflation rate. Researchers found that the U.S. food price inflation rate since 1973 could be divided into three distinct regions, and that the inflation rate was lowest at 2.6% during 1991–2016, which encompasses the biofuel boom. Among many factors, continuously rising food production per capita was identified as the likely cause of low food price inflation during this period. The U.S. exports of corn have not declined since the 1990s and soybean exports are rising at a steady rate. Among several variables tested as a cause of food price index increase, crude oil price had the highest correlation.

5. StreetsBlog USA: Think Tank Offers Road Map to Break the Car Culture ―How to get there? Stop spending money on new highways and instead put that money into expanding public transport infrastructure, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. “Transit agencies face a limitation, where federal funding can only support capital investments such as fixed-route construction and vehicle purchases, with no support for more frequent bus and train service that could put essential destinations and jobs in closer proximity to workers,” the report notes.

Tammy Klein is a consultant and strategic advisor providing market and policy intelligence and analysis on transportation fuels to the auto and oil industries, governments, and NGOs. She writes and advises on petroleum fuels, biofuels, alternative fuels, automotive fuels, and fuels policy.

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