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Fort Lauderdale Considers A Bid From The Boring Company

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18 months ago, my wife and I were invited by BMW to test drive the all electric MINI from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and back. It was a great idea, except for one thing. But for a brief stint on the highway, the route involved mostly stop and go driving in an urban environment with lots of traffic lights and streets clogged with other vehicles. We seldom had a chance to prod the exhilarator pedal to find out what the car was capable of in spirited driving.

South Florida is a mess. The skyline is festooned with construction cranes as developers throw up high rise buildings as fast as possible. The world of finance found out during the pandemic that people really didn’t need to traipse down to Wall Street every day. They could work from home online and do just fine. The exodus from New York City has begun, and a lot of people are looking at Miami and environs as their new home.

That means congestion in South Florida — already horrendous — is about to get worse. Recently, The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s brainchild that specializes in digging underground tunnels to ease surface congestion, approached the city of Fort Lauderdale with a proposal. Let it bore a tunnel (two tunnels, actually) from the city center to the beach with a stop at Las Olas, where the city’s trendiest shops and restaurants are located. Inside the tunnels would be a fleet of self driving Teslas that would whisk people in an out of the city. The projected capacity of the project is 4,000 riders a day.

Spending Money To Save Money

The fascination with Musk’s tunnels is economic. “Currently, tunnels are really expensive to dig, with many projects costing between $100 million and $1 billion per mile,” Boring says on its website. “In order to make vast tunnel networks feasible, tunneling costs must be reduced by a factor of more than 10, with Boring Co. Loop tunnels currently priced at approximately $10 million per mile.” Indeed, the roughly 3-mile long tunnel for Fort Lauderdale is projected to cost just $30 million, according to Vox.

“It’s worth investigating whether that’s feasible from a structural and engineering perspective,” Lily Elefteriadou, the director of the University of Florida’s Transportation Institute, told Recode. “From a transportation systems perspective, it makes sense to look into alternatives to get people out of private vehicles and see if that might work.”

At present, there is no clear understanding of how the project would be paid for. The city has reached out to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to see if state funding might be available. The city could use public funds, or The Boring Company could front the costs with the expectation of getting paid back over time through user fees. “There would be a fee — five or six bucks — to take the route, and considering we charge $4 per hour to park on the beach, it’s definitely much better to take something like this,” Mayor Trantalis says.

Other Proposals Have Been Quietly Dropped

Maybe. But 4,000 riders a day is small potatoes compared to the number of riders a public transportation system can transport. And while autonomous Teslas were supposed to be used in the recently completed underground loop in Las Vegas, today those cars are piloted by human drivers.

Several proposed Boring Company projects have quietly disappeared from the company’s website. Proposals for Los Angeles and Chicago are no longer mentioned and the much ballyhooed tunnel from Washington, DC to Baltimore has also been dropped. When Fort Lauderdale reached out to officials in those cities, it got no response. “Talk to the Boring Company,” they all said, but the Boring Company, like all Musk led enterprises these days, has slammed a lid on any public communications.

“I think there was an expectation from Tesla that ‘we will start digging a hole and when something gets in our way we’ll deal with it and we’ll keep digging,’” Pete Rahn, the former secretary of transportation for Maryland, tells NBC News. “That’s just not how the system works in the public environment.”

A short “proof of concept” test tunnel was constructed by the Boring Company just outside the Los Angeles International Airport. It was built entirely on private land and largely did not require any permits or environmental studies to make it happen. Still, Fort Lauderdale seems not to be concerned by such details. “We are an organization that can and will eliminate the red tape that has historically existed in government,” Chris Lagerbloom, Fort Lauderdale’s city manager, tells NBC News.

Skepticism In High Places

NBC News says a recent editor’s note in Tunneling Journal dismissed Musk’s Vegas tunnels as a mere “vanity project.” In February, Martin Herrenknecht, the CEO of Herrenknecht, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tunnel boring machines, dismissed Musk as being “full of hot air” in an interview with a German business magazine.

Jian Zhao, a professor of civil engineering and a tunnel boring expert at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said that he didn’t see how the Boring Co., given its current approach, would be “able to do things as they promised. I don’t see any new technology being mentioned.”

Rising Sea Levels

Like all of South Florida, rising sea levels are a fact of life. How long will it be before that prized Fort Lauderdale beach is underwater? And how does one dig a tunnel through limestone and sand that will remain intact for 100 years or more?

“The designers will look at what are all the loads and situations that could conceivably exist over that 100- to 150-year time period,” says Michael Mooney, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines who focuses on underground construction and tunnels. “They’ll look at rising sea level, they’ll look at what the design-hurricane event will be, and then they’ll design accordingly.” Water problems could impact how high a tunnel’s two ends need to be built to keep them from being flooded.

Luis Arboleda Monsalve, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Central Florida, isn’t worried. He tells Recode, “We have done all kinds of tunnels in very, very difficult ground.” But Shimon Wdowinski, an earth and environment professor at Florida International University, is more sanguine. “We have a better idea of what can happen in the next 30 years. In 100 years, there are many more uncertainties. As everybody knows, sea level is rising.”

The Takeaway

My wife reminds me that moving people underground on electric cars is better for the environment than having lots of cars on surface streets chugging along at 5 mph in traffic while spewing out exhaust emissions the whole time, but I wonder whether 4,000 people a day is enough to move the needle on traffic congestion in Fort Lauderdale.

Another question I have is whether the investment needed to make this proposal a reality might not be better spent on electrifying the city’s public transportation system. Everything we do means we can’t be doing something else. Is a tunnel under Fort Lauderdale the highest and best use of the money needed to build it? There are no easy answers to such questions, but I am left with the feeling that there are lot more things cities in South Florida should be worrying about than how to get to the beach.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/11/fort-lauderdale-considers-a-bid-from-the-boring-company/

Cleantech

Jobs In Renewable Energy Fared Better Than Other Sectors In 2020

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Employment in renewable energy and battery-related sectors was far more resilient to the shock of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an annual DOE report released Monday.

Overall, one in 10 U.S. energy workers lost their jobs in 2020, with oil and gas workers hit hardest despite billions in bailouts and substantial payouts to executives.

Wind energy employment grew by nearly 2%. Jobs in the electric and hybrid-electric vehicle sectors grew by 8% and 6% respectively, and battery storage jobs also increased.

“While we do have work to do to make our energy sector more robust, we also have a lot of work to do in making our energy sector look like America and to make sure that these new clean energy jobs are paying family-sustaining wages, with good benefits and union membership,” DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm said during a virtual report release.

Sources: ReutersThe Hill

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/21/jobs-in-renewable-energy-fared-better-than-other-sectors-in-2020/

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Cleantech

Jobs In Renewable Energy Fared Better Than Other Sectors In 2020

Published

on

Employment in renewable energy and battery-related sectors was far more resilient to the shock of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an annual DOE report released Monday.

Overall, one in 10 U.S. energy workers lost their jobs in 2020, with oil and gas workers hit hardest despite billions in bailouts and substantial payouts to executives.

Wind energy employment grew by nearly 2%. Jobs in the electric and hybrid-electric vehicle sectors grew by 8% and 6% respectively, and battery storage jobs also increased.

“While we do have work to do to make our energy sector more robust, we also have a lot of work to do in making our energy sector look like America and to make sure that these new clean energy jobs are paying family-sustaining wages, with good benefits and union membership,” DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm said during a virtual report release.

Sources: ReutersThe Hill

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/21/jobs-in-renewable-energy-fared-better-than-other-sectors-in-2020/

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Cleantech

EU’s Proposed Green Deal Is A Big Victory For Fossil Fuel Companies

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On the 14th of July 2021, the EU Commission published its proposal for dealing with the climate crises and biodiversity crises, using money made available to counter the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The mix of climate crises, biodiversity crises, and economic recovery makes this packet something where many people find bits to be happy about and many people find bits not to be happy about.

  • The economic recovery is high priority, very short term.
  • The climate crises is ultimate priority, very short term.
  • The biodiversity is medium priority, medium to long term.

With that last classification, many people will get very angry. But it is a task that will take our attention for the coming centuries. Getting one or two years delayed in formulating policies, writing laws, and reaching consensus is not the biggest problem. The realization that we should start doing it, that we should keep doing it for as long as we are the custodians of life on Earth, that is the hardest part. It is something that can not be, even a tiny little bit for your special case, sacrificed for convenience or financial gain.

The second classification about climate change is even harder to understand for most people. Species are disappearing today, to be never seen again. The climate is something that will last centuries from now. How can it have a higher priority?

Catastrophic climate change is already happening today. It is killing people in heatwaves and floods today — literally, today. If we do not succeed to halt the growth of the greenhouse gas layer in this decade for the most part, mopping up the rest of the pollution sources in the next decade, biodiversity does not matter anymore. We will likely go to an Earth with a completely different biotope, one where there is no place for mammals.

Without mammals in the mix, there will be room for many thousands, if not millions, of new species on earth. Biodiversity will be saved, but not as we envision it today.

Economic recovery is always a very short-term action. For the economic problems caused by the coronavirus measures, immediate relief is needed. Companies should not go broke and people should not get unemployed because of what is essentially a natural disaster.

That the money for the economic recovery is used to accelerate the necessary transition to a clean/green economy is logical. Why spend money to rebuild what we were planning to demolish. I mean, the fossil fuel–based economy has to go. No reason to waste money in preserving it.

Logical, but not what many stakeholders of the fossil industry would like to see. They have dreams of transitioning the economy to greener fossil fuels. The previous attempt to switch to clean diesel failed, but that is not a reason to give up and go find a new career. There is still the fuel of the future, hydrogen. It is preferably made from natural gas (preferably for them, not for us), and in the long run with electricity from nuclear reactors, through a future electrolysis process.

Convincing policymakers that hydrogen (green in the future) is essential for road transport will delay the growth of battery electric vehicles — those pesky toys that do so much harm to the automotive industry and can drive on electricity from the solar cells on one’s roof.

These goals in the EU Green Deal proposal — not nearly large enough (“fossil fuel friendly,” you might say) — are:

  • A 600kW station every 60 kilometers along European highways for light vehicles by 2030 (2*150kW by 2025 and 4*150kW by 2030).
  • A 3500kW station every 60 kilometers along European highways for medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles in 2030 (perhaps 5*700kW?).
  • A hydrogen station every 150 kilometers for ???????.

Currently, the fastest charging is at 175 kW or 250 kW for 350V–400V batteries. Double that for 800V batteries. A two-plug 150kW each station every 60 kilometers is probably sufficient in Northern Sweden and Lapland. Between 2025 and 2030, the number of BEVs on the roads will multiply by four (increase by 300%) at least. I expect Tesla alone to offer more stations with more plugs long before 2030.

Trucks have charging at their home depot, or are long-haul trucks charging on the road? (Okay, this is a bit simplified.) The Tesla Semi uses about 1.25 kWh/km. The charge time of the truck can be booked as the mandatory rest time of the driver. The 1 MW or 1.2 MW chargers that are now discussed are a reflection of this reality.

Truckers like to combine their rest time with their lunch or dinner break. This creates high demand for many plugs around these times with low demand during normal trucking times. Logistics is a commercial business. It will create the needed charging infrastructure via demand and supply. Selling electricity and a warm meal is the name of the game.

Local governments need to be prepared to facilitate the permitting process and plan the grid connections. Each station (both for light-duty vehicles and medium-/heavy-duty vehicles) should be planned for a 2MW–8MW connection or more. Building the transport line between the charging station and the existing grid is very expensive.

For the chargers, the most important metric is missing. That is the number of plugs needed at each station. For this, an analysis of the traffic volumes on the European roads is needed. It would show that many roads will need a charging station every 30 kilometers with 8 to 20 plugs.

In Europe, many have free travel in their company cars. Company cars are new, and after 2025, likely all electric. While the complete European car fleet will likely take 20+ years to replace, the fleet traveling on highways will be replaced in about 6 years. Due to less range, a BEV will charge more often than a fossil fuel vehicle makes a tank stop, at least twice as often. It will also keep a charging space longer occupied than a gas pump will be occupied — for ease of computation, double the time.

By 2030, at least half the fleet on the highways will be BEV. That means that half the gas pumps have to be replaced by four times that number of charging plugs. We have an awful lot more than four gas pumps every 60 kilometers of highway. The European Automobile Industry (ACEA) has even explained that the progress in selling BEVs is limited by the buildout of the infrastructure on the ground. When the EU comes with an ambitious plan for the car market, an even more ambitious infrastructure plan should accompany it to make it reality.

The fossil fuel industry will be very grateful for this ridiculous lowball number for highway charging stations. There will never be enough plugs for the yearly mass migrations to the sun and the snow. But that is only about 6 weekends each year. It is like the airlines never having enough seats for Thanksgiving weekend in the USA. Sizing to the exception is impossible, but we can aim to have enough in the rest of the year.

There is NO metric for the hydrogen station. Probably the lobbyists know that there won’t be customers. It is only about getting subsidies for the uneconomical stations and slowing the transition to fully electric ones. It is just a distraction. The well-to-wheel energy need is too clear a case to expect any hydrogen ever playing a role in road transport.

There are a number of lofty goals for hydrogen production. It should get at volume soon, and 50% of the green hydrogen should be renewable by 2030. Makes one think — what is non-renewable green hydrogen? I can only think of hydrogen fused into helium as not renewable. That would liberate a lot of energy, by the way.

Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica

Another way of temporizing what the market is doing is setting goals for public chargers that are too low. These are mostly Level 2 chargers for people without home charging.

  • 2025 – 1 million
  • 2030 – 3.5 million
  • 2040 – 11.4 million
  • 2050 – 16.3 million

Either those civil servants in Brussel are math-illiterate, or they think we are. The total for the EU in 2025 is just twice what the home country of the main writers of the deal plan to build by that year. The 2030 number is about three times the number in their home country. These math-illiterate people are Commissioner Timmermans and his chief-of-staff Samson, both Dutch.

Before he became chief-of-staff, Samson was one of the authors of the Dutch Klimaatakkoord, where the numbers of Dutch planned chargers can be found.

The EU is over 25 times the population of the Netherlands, and many more times the size. The Dutch numbers are from before the more ambitious goals and the rise in BEV sales in the last two years. In another article, I discussed why they are too low. With over a million chargers for the Netherlands alone in 2030, there is only a goal of 2.5 million chargers for the rest of the EU.  … Somebody is math challenged, and it ain’t me. In my very humble and biased opinion, that number needs an extra zero. And then some.

While greenwashing their actions, the EU commission is applying the brakes at full force. The fossil fuel lobby was successful.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/21/eus-proposed-green-deal-is-a-big-victory-for-fossil-fuel-companies/

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Cleantech

What Will Happen To Old ICE Vehicles In The Electric Era?

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David Waterworth

“Disabled & Elderly Parking Only.” That’s what the sign said, so he parked his ICE Corolla there. We saw the vehicle as we exited the restaurant and walked towards where we had parked our Tesla. When I pointed it out to my friend, he said, “In 20 years they’ll be using that car for a chook pen.”

Image by David Waterworth

I thought that was a little unfair, as one of my neighbours has an older Corolla (and 2 others the same model in the backyard for spares). They are certainly a great little car and have been a phenomenal success for Toyota. But so was the Morris Minor for British Motors Corporation and the Torana for General Motors Holden and the Cortina for Ford. 

Image by David Waterworth

The conversation continued around car clubs and the future of ICE vehicles for enthusiasts and hobbyists. Would they become quaint curiosities to be gawked at in special auto shows? Perhaps they would feature in car museums. While everyone else is driving normal cars (those that have electric motors, that don’t make a lot of noise or produce noxious smells), these could be taken out on weekends to drive in convoys for the nostalgic.

Or will it be smash-up derbies as was done to the old British cars of the ’60s – the Austins, Morrises, and Wolseleys were driven round the track and smashed into each other for fun and entertainment. 

When the age of horse power came to an end, many animals were kept as pets or out of kindness and duty. Unfortunately, most were slaughtered and eaten (yes, eaten). As the age of ICE vehicles comes to an end, we may have to give thought about what to do with the faithful Corollas that we will have to let go. There is a limit to how many we can keep as pets. And we can’t eat them. 

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/21/what-will-happen-to-old-ice-vehicles-in-the-electric-era/

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