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Volkswagen’s European Factories Up To 95% Powered By Renewables

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In 2020, Volkswagen Group increased the share of renewables powering its European factories from 80% to 95% (year over year/YoY), and 10 of its factories became 100% renewably powered. The target is for them to reach 100% renewable power by 2023.

In China, Volkswagen Group increased the share of renewables powering its factories from 76% to 91%.

By the way, this is no joke. It may still be April 1, but this is a legit update on Volkswagen’s reliance on clean, renewable energy.

“In total, eight production sites within the EU and two further sites outside the EU were completely converted to external supply with electricity from renewable energies in 2020. The three largest sites were the Audi plants in Győr, Hungary, and Neckarsulm, Germany, and the Volkswagen plant in Palmela, Portugal. Plants operated by Bugatti, Skoda, SITECH, MAN Truck&Bus and MAN Energy Solutions also converted to 100 percent renewable electricity in 2020.

“The sites concerned are located in seven countries: Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Austria, Mexico and the USA. This year, additional sites will be converted, including the SITECH sites in Germany and the MAN site in Oberhausen.”

Globally, Volkswagen Group has much further to go, but its share of renewables is still quite high relative to other businesses. A full 46% of the conglomerate’s energy came from renewables globally in 2020. That was up 5 percentage points from 2019, when it was at 41%.

However, not all is rainbows and sunshine. Volkswagen thought this was something it should highlight in its press release: “Volkswagen is also paying particular attention to converting its own electricity generation. For example, the two coal-fired power plant units at the Wolfsburg production site will be completely converted to natural gas by 2022. From 2023, this will reduce CO2 emissions by 60 percent.” Natural gas leaks like like an ice cream cone with the bottom bitten off. Its climate benefits are widely viewed as overhyped and unrealistic. Why is Volkswagen wasting time converting coal plants to natural gas? It’s 2021, not 2011.

Nonetheless, the use of more renewables is real and is having an effect. “The increased share of renewable energies used to supply production helped to significantly reduce the Group’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared with 2019: by 14 percent and 1.1 million metric tons of CO2.”

Image courtesy of Volkswagen AG.

Volkswagen Group Board Member Oliver Blume, head of production, also noted: “The transformation of the Volkswagen Group into a CO2-neutral company has gained momentum. In this context, supplying our plants with renewable electricity is an important part of the overall decarbonization strategy. We are consistently implementing our plans together with all brands and regions, and in 2020 we have already come very close to the target lines that we actually only marked for 2023 and 2030. That’s an encouraging milestone. However, we are not resting on our laurels. The energy transition in production also includes an ambitious conversion of the power supply at the Chinese production sites. In addition, we also want to further reduce greenhouse gases in our in-house electricity production.”

Good luck to Volkswagen Group getting more renewables worked into its electricity supply every day. This is a critical step in solving the climate conundrum, and it’s something Volkswagen again seems to want to truly lead on. I look forward to seeing updates in 2022 and 2023 showing how far the company has gotten increasing its overall renewable energy share from 46% to something closer to 100%.

Images courtesy of Volkswagen

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/01/volkswagens-european-factories-up-to-95-powered-by-renewables/

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Honest Australian Government Ads & the Great Australian Coverup

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Don’t watch these ads if you are easily offended. They are honest and intelligent, but full of Aussie bawdy humour and satire. Each ad is only a few minutes.

Regarding the first one, how does the Australian government support electric vehicles? It doesn’t!

Renewable energy? No thanks!

Climate change….

Want to know more about carbon capture and storage? Giordiano from The Juice interviews Ritchie Merizian on the YouTube video below. Shoutout to TJ Murphy who gave us this excellent suggestion: 

Richie Merzian is the inaugural Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute. Richie is a former Australian Government representative to the UN climate change conference and worked at the Department of Climate Change and the Department of Foreign Affairs for almost a decade on both domestic and international climate and energy agendas.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/honest-australian-government-ads-the-great-australian-coverup/

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The Case for Low-Speed Chargers in the ‘Burbs

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Many cities around the world are keen to transition to EVs to solve their pollution problems. London, for example, is installing low-speed chargers in lampposts for those who do not have access to a garage (which would be most). Sydney, Capital of New South Wales Australia, is planning on using existing electricity infrastructure to make cheap, low-speed charging available to all. 

Not everybody needs a high-speed charger. With electricity so abundantly available, there are many cheaper and easier options, like using the StreetSide power kiosk (that is already there in many Sydney suburbs — over 13,000 kiosks) to get a free charge. This initiative is being set up by network owner Ausgrid and EV charging company Jolt. They plan to provide 500 such charging points across Sydney.

Residents of Mona Vale in Sydney’s north can get a free charge of up to 7 kWh daily (equivalent to about 15 minutes of charging, or 45 kilometres of range) via the Jolt app. This suburb was selected because of the high percentage of EVs in the area. Though, as one person has commented: “It’s a clever idea but 15 minutes is too long to just sit around waiting and not long enough to satisfy. I expect most people to pay and walk away.”

I would expect that the people using this service would live nearby, so the time interval might not be an issue for some — put the car on charge, go home for a coffee, come back, move the car, and it’s charged for tomorrow’s commute. I am sure smart, money-wise Aussies will work out the best use. It may depend on the interaction between convenience and cost.

Jolt reports that drivers are already using the Mona Vale kiosk as well as the Hornsby Kiosk that was opened in April. Expect to see many more of these in operation as EV sales surge down under.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/the-case-for-low-speed-chargers-in-the-burbs/

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Analysis: Electric Heavy-Duty Vehicle Powertrains Can Provide Lower Total Cost of Ownership

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For commercial medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles, the adoption of a new technology relies heavily on its cost relative to alternatives. A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) seeks to pinpoint the conditions for when battery electric or fuel cell electric commercial trucks offer economic advantages over traditional diesel-fueled trucks by examining a key metric — the total cost of ownership (TCO).

For years, medium- and heavy-duty trucks have presented unique challenges to decarbonization of the transportation sector. For one, these vehicles must withstand significantly more annual use than a personal car. On average, commercial Class 8 tractors can expect to travel 120,000 miles each year. In addition, commercial vehicles are extremely heavy, ranging from 14,000-pound Class 4 delivery vehicles to Class 8 tractors hauling up to 80,000 pounds. Altogether, medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for 26% of national fuel use — despite making up just 4% of the total vehicle population — and greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks continue to increase at a rate faster than emissions from light-duty vehicles in the United States. However, new electric powertrain technologies offer a pathway to decarbonization for this critical vehicle segment.

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of the TCO for Class 8 Tractors and Class 4 Parcel Delivery Trucks compares six truck powertrain technologies to quantify their TCO and identify operating scenarios where each technology may have an economic advantage. The powertrains analyzed include conventional diesel, diesel hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, fuel cell electric, and battery all-electric.

“Our objective was to provide a quantitative comparison of various powertrains to highlight the potential lifetime implications of each technology,” said Chad Hunter, lead author of the report and former NREL researcher. “This analysis found that battery-electric and hydrogen-electric powertrains could have a competitive TCO as early as 2025, even for Class 8 vehicles, which are notoriously difficult to decarbonize.”

This TCO study quantifies indirect costs — for example, the cost of lost cargo capacity due to a heavier powertrain or the cost of dwell time spent refueling or recharging — along with the direct costs of buying, maintaining, fueling or charging, and driving a vehicle. Understanding these indirect costs is critical to understanding the full economic implications of a shift toward zero-emission transportation.

Introducing T3CO: An Integrated, Flexible TCO Modeling Approach

The research leveraged NREL’s Transportation Technology Total Cost of Ownership (T3CO) modeling framework, which enables levelized assessments of the full life-cycle costs of advanced commercial vehicles. T3CO combines the power of two existing NREL tools, the Future Automotive Systems Technology Simulator (FASTSim) and the Scenario Evaluation and Regionalization Analysis (SERA) model, to account for the varied performance and economic requirements for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“Total cost of ownership is one of the most critical metrics for mass adoption of electrified commercial vehicles,” said Alex Schroeder, manager of NREL’s Advanced Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure group. “We recognize that commercial vehicle technologies and operations will continue to evolve and purposely sought to make T3CO flexible, extensible, integrated, and open. A lot of stakeholder input informed its development, and we’re excited to see it evolve and grow through continued partnerships.”

T3CO features an end-to-end, integrated approach for evaluating all costs and enabling consistent comparisons across technologies and vocations.

A Future for Decarbonization of Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Using the new T3CO model, NREL researchers assessed all direct and indirect costs for each powertrain technology for three different truck vocations: Class 8 long-haul (500–750-mile range), Class 8 short-haul (300-mile range), and Class 4 parcel delivery (120-mile range). To further the analysis, researchers compared the powertrains for multiple timeframes to illustrate how battery and hydrogen fuel price reductions are key to accelerating medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification.

“Our research indicates that refueling and recharging cost management must be a key focus for future research and development,” Hunter said. “Electricity and hydrogen fuel prices are central factors to the TCO of the battery and fuel cell electric trucks evaluated in this report.”

At NREL, the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) research platform will support R&D to achieve these technology advancements and cost reductions.

“One of the important outcomes from this study is that it helps us to hone future research priorities,” Schroeder said. “The ARIES platform being established at NREL is expressly designed to provide cost-effective megawatt-scale charging and high-throughput hydrogen fueling.”

This comprehensive comparison across technologies represents significant coordination across the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office and leverages TCO studies developed by other DOE national laboratories.

Article courtesy of NREL.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/analysis-electric-heavy-duty-vehicle-powertrains-can-provide-lower-total-cost-of-ownership/

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Bringing Reliable, Renewable Energy to the People of Puerto Rico

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Courtesy of RMI.
By Max Lainfiesta, Nathaniel Buescher, & Michael Liebman 

Income inequality is palpable on the streets of the United States in cities and towns alike. On one block you may have neighborhoods with maintained roads and sidewalks, well-funded schools, and easy access to services including grocery stores, transit, healthcare, and banks. And on the next block you may have neighborhoods in transit or food deserts with vulnerable key infrastructure including streets, schools, and healthcare.

This checkerboard-like phenomenon becomes ever more apparent after a disaster, as communities with less resources wait, often literally in the dark, while construction crews and vehicles go first to the areas with more.

This was especially visible in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which struck four years ago on September 20, when communities endured the longest power outage in US history. Public aid for many lower- and middle-income communities was both insufficient and slow. That is why RMI and partners* formed the Puerto Rico Community Energy Resilience Initiative (CERI).

CERI’s goal is to advance access to reliable and renewable energy for critical facilities in low-to-moderate income communities using solar plus storage microgrids. Under a broader definition of critical facility, examples include hospitals and fire stations, local life-sustaining businesses, and non-profits providing essential services following disasters.

The CERI team spent a year working on pilot projects, community engagement, and financing vehicle development. In the end, the team found that a community-driven process combined with flexible capital and technical assistance is the most effective way to help achieve energy resilience for those whose needs are not served in the current market.

Putting All Communities in the Driver’s Seat

CERI puts Puerto Rican communities that received limited aid after disasters in the driver’s seat. The team does this by first listening to community stakeholders and then addressing their energy resilience needs by preparing and de-risking the project. CERI then uses a blend of capital from financial institutions and philanthropic organizations to advance access to reliable and renewable energy.

Currently, the CERI team is installing four pilot projects at critical facilities: two nonprofit organizations and two local businesses, with systems averaging approximately 63 kW of solar and 30 kWh of storage. The pilot projects highlight the importance of community ownership of systems, flexibility in designing a project’s financing, and timing for engaging different stakeholders.

When microgrid projects are locally owned, community members autonomously create their energy goals while simultaneously bolstering local economies and jobs. Facility leaders can determine which equipment and operations must continue during an outage based on their own experiences. This bottom-up involvement shifts accountability from external programs to the community itself.

Flexible Financing Adapts to Community Needs

It is crucial to have financing models that are scalable yet able to flex to individual project constraints. The CERI team will soon launch a financing vehicle which will provide critical facilities throughout the island with concessionary capital and technical assistance needed to simultaneously make systems more affordable and make financing viable.

Operationally, this equates to a lower interest rate and a shorter term on the loan used to pay for the facility’s microgrid. This grant funding contributes to the system’s down payment and to the creation of a loan loss reserve for financial institutions to allow facilities with varying credit histories to access competitive interest rates.

The CERI team’s initial vision was to award a project with an amount of grant funding so that the microgrid’s estimated monthly costs over a 10-year period would be less than the facility’s average monthly energy bill. Monthly costs include loan payments, maintenance, insurance costs, and fixed fees to the utility.

Although some facility staff prioritized the lower monthly energy costs, other facility managers were willing to pay more to reduce their loan term. Such scenarios highlighted the need for the CERI team to work with financial institutions to offer flexibility in the loan’s terms and/or payment options that do not penalize early payments.

Syncing Timelines of Multiple Stakeholders

From a timeline perspective, as the CERI team scales up, the team will ensure to use an inclusive and fair process for project recruitment and selection. This includes engaging with all types of communities (rural and urban, for example) and maintaining transparency with interested facilities.

Once projects are selected, CERI team members will be diligent to engage all the project’s stakeholders early in the project development process and use a competitive process whenever possible to find savings for the participating organizations. Such stakeholders include local financial institutions, local microgrid developers, and critical facility staff. These stakeholders have varying amounts of staff available to focus on a specific microgrid project and differing due diligence and review processes.

For example, financial institutions assess the facility’s financial history, developers build systems based on the facility staff’s requirements, and the facility staff decide whether to take a loan depending on costs and loan terms. If not lined up properly, these timelines translate into time-consuming due diligence processes and rounds of negotiation that can lead to delays in a project.

The Right System for Each Individual Need

Facilities have greatly varying needs differing on the types of electricity services, electricity rates, and on how and when they use energy. Therefore, technical assistance on energy modeling, system sizing, energy efficiency analysis, and procurement support is key to ensure that each facility has the right system and best price for its specific needs.

For example, a therapy and rehabilitation center may use power mainly during weekdays while a supermarket may require a steady energy supply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In the event of a prolonged power outage, facilities have very different critical load needs — while some facilities may be able to operate with 25 percent of the usual energy supply, others may require 50 percent or more. Time of use and critical load size have significant implications when designing battery size.

There are also physical constraints that affect project design. Some facilities may have a structurally sound roof that has enough space to accommodate the system, while others may not have enough roof space or may need significant repairs to accommodate a solar system. And some facilities may need ground-mounted systems that increase the system costs (ground mounted systems of this size are often more expensive than roof mounted systems based on the additional construction needed).

In most cases, facility owners and or administrators lack the experience and background needed to know if the system is right for their needs, if the price is appropriate given the market, or if the equipment meets the local requirements. With technical assistance, facilities can get the right system at the right price, and are likely to share their positive experiences with colleagues. This will lead to grassroots scaling of renewable energy in communities in Puerto Rico and beyond.

 The Importance of Capacity Building

Maintenance is key to the sustainability of these systems. Building the capacity to check the system, use pre-contracted O&M and warranties, replace parts as needed, and ensure continuous safety and system operation is essential. Through a CERI-specific capacity building plan, facility owners and administrators gain the knowledge required to understand the technical aspects, financials, and overall implications of acquiring and maintaining a solar-plus-storage microgrid.

What’s Next for CERI?

The CERI team is preparing a transition to a next phase of demonstration projects across Puerto Rico. This work will set the stage for the full implementation of a scaled-up financing vehicle where hundreds of facilities will benefit from affordable and resilient solar-plus-storage microgrids.

These microgrids will provide stable energy prices, savings from day one, the ability to continue providing essential services in the event of an emergency, environmental benefits, and ultimately, community resilience and wellness. They will enable all community members to receive critical services such as health care, food, water, and communication when needed most.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at [email protected]

* CERI was founded by The Rockefeller Foundation; RMI; Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico; The Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust; the Association of Renewable Energy Consultants and Contractors for Puerto Rico; and Resilient Power Puerto Rico.

Featured photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/bringing-reliable-renewable-energy-to-the-people-of-puerto-rico/

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