Wednesday, 30 May 2018

RenewEconomy/Joe Romm: Oil and car companies are suddenly investing in electric vehicles – why?



Oil and car companies are suddenly investing in electric vehicles – why?
By Joe Romm on 30 May 2018
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Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

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.”

What’s driving these announcements and investments?

Electric vehicle sales have seen exponential growth this decade

Certainly the steady rise in gasoline prices in recent months has made the environment better for such investments. But the primary driver is the exponential growth in EV sales as the above chart illustrates.

The EV industry had essentially zero share of global car sales in 2010, but EV-Volumes projects that “it reaches close to 3% in December 2018 and 2% for the complete year.”

The massive investments are also based on projections that this exponential growth will continue in the years to come, with EVs potentially hitting a 50 percent market share in two decades, as Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts.

Projected global electric vehicle sales

The exponential growth in sales is, in turn, due primarily to the stunning improvements in the price and performance of batteries over the past decade.

In addition, the projections of future sales growth are based on projections of continued improvements in battery price and performance, especially in energy density, which results in cheaper batteries that are also smaller and lighter.

Plummeting prices for batteries and rising energy density are expected to continue for years to come Credit: The Economist

The most optimistic future projections, however, are not just based on incremental improvements in lithium-ion batteries.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Japanese government announced a new initiative to develop next-generation solid-state batteries. That’s what the BP investment in Israeli start-up StoreDot was about — a solid-state organic polymer battery.

The “promise” of solid-state batteries, the journal Nature explained in 2015, “is that they will replace the heavy and sometimes dangerous liquid electrolyte” with a “lighter, more versatile solid alternative.”

As one MIT materials scientist put it, “Imagine batteries that do not catch fire and do not lose storage capacity. That is the promise of solid-state batteries.”

The promise is also that a solid-state battery could be available in five years that “delivers 2.5 times the energy density of typical lithium-ion batteries, with the potential of costing one third of the 2020 projected price of those batteries,” Green Car Congress reported in Novmember

And solid state batteries are the ones that can be charged in a matter of minutes,  just like your gas tank can.

With next generation batteries, an electric car will match or beat gasoline cars in every respect. The future of EVs is very solid.

Source: ThinkProgress. Reproduced with permission.
News & Commentary • Renewables • Smart Transport • Solar • Tesla

    Chris Drongers

    Is there a lower limit to how many kWhrs/100km an electric vehicle will use? At the present consumption of about 5k/kWhr or 20 kWhr/100 km ‘fuel’ cost for a sparky @25c/kWhr retail is $5/100 km. A petrol Camry gives about 7 l/100 km or $10/100 km fuel cost. Substantial difference but not a game changer for a family runabout.

        My i3 averages around 13 kWh per 100 km on my suburban commute into town. Lower limit is zero if you drop the car from space 100 km above the ground. Realistically main impediments would relate to weight you are moving, constancy of speed, tyre and wind resistance, and how spirited a ride you want. I’m a bit of a lead foot with my i3 – but with city driving there is not much chance to really let loose.
    Kim Wilkinson

    Hi Chris,
    Cost becomes much more attractive if you are using energy from your own PV – in my case, that will be 7c/kWhr, or 100kms in an EV will cost about $1.40 (opportunity cost). Also the cost of maintenance will be much less. A new EV dealership is budgeting on maintenance revenue (to them) of about $100 pa and a further $30 for parts.

    Those graphs of the global uptake of EVs are a clear vindication of Tony Seba’s predictions. Doubling every two years.
    Now if our horrible federal government would only get the hell out of the way, and the State governments step up to the plate (Well done ACT and Qld), Australia would be well on the way to fuel security in a very few years.

    It’s so damn obvious, anyone who loves Israel or lives in Israel, should be spending every waking moment and every spare dollar finding decent vehicle battery technologies, or building battery factories or facilitating EV production. Israel is surrounded by oil-funded foes, over a billion ICE cars are transporting money to these countries which bristle with weapons aimed at this small vulnerable state.

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