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Zero Emissions Zones: A Tool to Target Benefits of Vehicle Electrification to Communities that Need it Most

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Originally published by Union of Concerned Scientists, The Equation.
By David Reichmuth and Leslie Aguayo, a Climate Equity Program Manager from The Greenlining Institute

Zero-emission vehicle technologies, like battery electric and fuel cell vehicles, are critical to reducing air pollution and climate-changing emissions from transportation. State and federal policies that require and incentivize zero emission vehicles sales are important tools to ensure that this transition away from fossil fuel combustion happens as rapidly as possible. The reduction in tailpipe pollution will help address harmful and inequitable air pollution exposure from on-road vehicles. And, there are tools that could be used to target these benefits to specific communities — communities that are disproportionately burdened by air pollution. One promising tool is the use of low- or zero-emission zones to prioritize the use of cleaner vehicles.

Low- and zero-emissions zones are a policy tool available to cities to improve air quality and can reduce congestion, raise revenue, and achieve climate goals. There are more than 250 of these zones across Europe, but can they work in the United States? To help answer this question, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Greenlining Institute have created a primer to explore potential benefits to communities, as well as factors to consider in using zones as a tool to increase racial and economic equity. The goal of this primer is not to be prescriptive, but instead as an aid to help policymakers and stakeholders understand and evaluate the utility of low- and zero-emissions zones for their communities, as well as provide important considerations towards equitable policymaking.

Congestion, low-emission, and zero-emission zones compared

A congestion zone is designed primarily to reduce vehicle travel and is often used to combat traffic and other issues caused by having many vehicles on the road. Low-emissions zones (LEZ) and zero-emissions zones (ZEZ) are designed primarily to reduce emissions, and are often used to combat air pollution and meet global warming pollution reduction goals.

Congestion zones and LEZs or ZEZs are similar to each other, but there are key differences. In California, a city has the ability to implement a congestion zone on its own, but legislation may be needed before a city can begin creating LEZs or ZEZs.

A congestion zone may limit vehicle entry by type or time of day. Often, a fee will be used to incentivize drivers to choose an alternative form of transportation within the zone or to avoid it altogether. LEZs and ZEZs usually require vehicles to meet a certain pollution standard, but they can also be designed to apply only to certain classes of vehicles, such as heavy-duty trucks.

Congestion, low-emissions, and zero-emissions zones can be designed to meet an area’s particular challenges with the best practices for that community. Some of the factors to consider are included in the table above.

Consideration of local needs vital to implementation

Communities in other countries have established ZEZs to discourage the use of polluting gasoline and diesel vehicles in dense urban areas. Given the high levels of vehicular air pollution in California and the racial inequities in exposure to tailpipe pollution, communities may want to explore ZEZs as a potential remedy ZEZs are promising because, in addition to promoting long-term change, such as the transition to electric vehicles, if designed equitably, they can direct the benefits of existing clean vehicle policies to people who are overburdened by harmful air pollution.

In implementing ZEZs in hardest hit communities, there are important equity considerations that must be addressed, such as access to cleaner vehicles and chargers, ensuring market-based approaches result in real-world emissions reductions, and, most importantly, assurance that the community has the power to determine the structure and implementation of the zone.

Similarly, decisionmakers must consider many factors in pursuing an LEZ/ZEZ, and each city will need to explore the options that work locally. For too long, in implementing solutions to help the environment, decisionmakers have missed the opportunity to center economic and racial justice. ZEZs hold potential to further all three, but the policy should be considered carefully within each local context.

In fact, equitable implementation of an LEZ or ZEZ is not possible if it is done in an acontextual or ahistorical manner, particularly in California where car dependency, highways, and transit systems were born out of racialized policies. New policies must not ignore the impact of past decisions such as the construction of highways intentionally designed to segregate communities of color or punitive, racially-targeted transit enforcement. On a smaller scale, each locality’s unique context must also be factored to design an appropriate ZEZ that targets community needs, seizes opportunities for economic development and prioritizes racial equity.

For these reasons, this primer highlights the critical importance of context, and prioritized interviews and qualitative data from stakeholders in California’s communities with the highest levels of air pollution and poverty levels (AB 617 Communities). The feedback received was critical for understanding community perspectives on ZEZs, developing equity considerations, policy recommendations for decision makers, and mitigating future transportation induced environmental inequality.

While LEZs and ZEZs are not the silver bullet to equitable transportation or pollution reduction, if done with an equity-centered approach, and in combination with other community-driven strategies, the potential benefits could serve as a step in the right direction.

Featured image from LACI, from related story: USA’s 1st Zero-Emissions Delivery Zone Is In Santa Monica, California


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/28/zero-emissions-zones-a-tool-to-target-benefits-of-vehicle-electrification-to-communities-that-need-it-most/

Cleantech

 Elon Musk Offers Insight On Pros & Cons Of Electric Vehicle Battery Form Factors

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Most would agree: safety first. That said, are there battery form factors that are safer than others? While you can ask a variety of “experts” their opinion on the matter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is probably a good candidate to start with — after all, Tesla sold almost 80% of all electric cars sold in the US last year.

Elon Musk discussing the new 4680 battery form factor at last year’s “Tesla Battery Day” presentation. (Source: Tesla)

It turns out that Elon recently opened up a bit more regarding his views on EV batteries. Musk began by answering a question on Twitter about different EV battery form factors and the use of pouch cells. He said that heat propagation (technical term: TRP, which stands for thermal runaway propagation) seen in large pouch cells can be dangerously high.

“Probability of thermal runaway is dangerously high with large pouch cells. Tesla strongly recommends against their use,” Elon Musk tweeted.

Pouch cells have come under some scrutiny of late due to GM’s Chevy Bolt recall related to a series of battery fires, as reported by CleanTechnica. According to Steve Hanley, “The Bolt’s battery packs are made up of pouch cells, which are essentially layers of cathodes, anodes, and separators that are flooded with liquid electrolyte and encased in a flexible polymer pouch.”

In turn, is there a better approach to EV batteries? Twitter weighed in once Musk provided his initial input. Twitter handle Tesla Facts inquired, “So smaller, reinforced, pressure protected prismatic cells for iron based cells (LFP) are good & safe, and steel cylindrical for nickel (and iron) are the overall design sweet spot?” It appears Elon agrees.

Tesla battery cells.Tesla tab-less battery cells (Source: Tesla)

Musk further explained that cooling a cell with a larger form factor can be a challenge because the cooling loop to the center is a longer distance. This high cooling loop makes it harder to prevent hotspots (or heat spots). “Then, pressure & heat released from large cell in weak bag make it impossible to stop whole pack from burning,” Musk tweeted.

Tesla unveiled its 46mm diameter and 60mm length (4680) form factor battery cell at the company’s “Battery Day” in 2020. Since this is a larger form factor cell as well, I thought I should ask Elon if Tesla also had to deal with heat propagation issues with the 4680.

He did not reply to our official account directly, but he indirectly addressed the question. “Our new cell is 46mm diameter with steel shell & even that was huge challenge for propagation resistance,” Musk tweeted.

Taking a closer look at the Battery Day presentation, vehicle teardown expert Sandy Munro noted that Tesla had changed its battery cooling mechanism. Previously, the batteries were cooled down by placing the battery coolant tubes between the cell walls. The newer battery packs with 4680 cells will be cooled down by placing the coolant tubes above and below the cells, an effective technique to dissipate battery heat. Coupled with the tab-less design that reduces the cooling loop, Tesla appears to have discovered an optimal approach for battery thermal management.

An earlier version of this article was originally published by Tesla OracleRevised update edited by EVANNEX.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/elon-musk-offers-insight-on-pros-cons-of-electric-vehicle-battery-form-factors/

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Tesla Donated A Solar Roof Worth At Least $150,000 To Buffalo Heritage Carousel In 2020

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In August 2020, The Buffalo News reported that Tesla donated a solar roof to the Buffalo Heritage Carousel at Canalside, which was scheduled to open in the spring of 2021. The article noted that the black tiles were made at Tesla’s factory in South Buffalo and that each would be stamped “Assembled in Buffalo, NY, USA.” Today, Tesla shared a stunning video of the carousel on Twitter with the caption, “Solar Roof powers Buffalo Heritage Carousel in NY.”

When Tesla made the donation, Laurie Hauer-LaDuca, who is the president of Buffalo Heritage Carousel, said:

“With the support of Tesla, this rare and historic carousel will be powered by the sun and offer a new family recreational and educational attraction located along the boardwalk.

“We are so proud to be a local showcase for the solar roof tiles that are ‘made in Buffalo, New York.’”

The article noted that Tesla didn’t put a dollar value on the solar roof, which consists of two tiers. However, Corky Burger, the organization’s capital campaign director, said that estimates received before Tesla stepped forward came in at around $150,000.

The octagonal roundhouse was designed by eco_logic STUDIO houses a vintage park-style menagerie carousel that was manufactured in 1924 by Spillman Engineering Co.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/21/tesla-donated-a-solar-roof-worth-at-least-150k-to-buffalo-heritage-carousel-in-2020-see-it-now/

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World’s Longest-Operating Solar Thermal Facility is Retiring Most of its Capacity

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The Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) facility in California’s Mojave Desert retired five of its solar plants (SEGS 3 through 7) in July 2021 and plans to retire a sixth (SEGS 8) in September 2021, based on information submitted to EIA and published in our Preliminary Electric Generator Inventory. After SEGS 8 is retired, only one solar thermal unit at SEGS will remain operating (SEGS 9). SEGS, which began operating in 1984, is the world’s longest-operating solar thermal power facility.

Solar thermal power plants use mirrors to focus sunlight onto a receiver, which absorbs and converts the sunlight into thermal energy (heat). The heat is used to drive a turbine, which produces electricity. The SEGS units are parabolic trough concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) systems, meaning that parabolic (u-shaped) mirrors capture and concentrate sunlight to heat synthetic oil in a central tube, which then boils water to create steam. The steam drives the turbine, generating electricity.

The 356-megawatt (MW) SEGS facility was originally made up of nine solar thermal plants. SEGS 1 and 2 were retired in 2015 and replaced with two solar photovoltaic (PV) farms, Sunray 2 and Sunray 3. SEGS 3 through 7 (each with 36 MW of capacity) came online from 1986 to 1988. SEGS 8 and 9 (each with 88 MW of capacity) came online in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

Solar thermal plants account for a relatively small share of utility-scale U.S. solar electric generating capacity. As of June 2021, the United States had about 52,600 MW of utility-scale solar capacity. Of that total, 3.3% was solar thermal; the remaining 96.7% was utility-scale solar PV.

Although solar capacity in the United States is increasing rapidly, most of the capacity additions in recent years have been solar PV. About 42,000 MW of utility-scale PV capacity was added to the U.S. power grid between 2015 and June 2021; no additional solar thermal capacity has been added since the Crescent Dunes plant came online in 2015.

Based on data that developers and power plant owners have reported to EIA, one utility-scale solar thermal plant is planned to come online in the next five years in the United States: Arizona’s 200-MW La Paz Solar Tower. According to trade press and announced projects, several CSP projects are planned or are in development in other countries.

Principal contributor: Singfoong “Cindy” Cheah

Originally published on TODAY IN ENERGY.

Featured image source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Electric Generator Inventory. Note: SEGS 1 and SEGS 2 were replaced by photovoltaic systems Sunray 2 and Sunray 3, respectively, in 2017 after being decommissioned. They appear in EIA data as Sunray 2 and Sunray 3.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/20/worlds-longest-operating-solar-thermal-facility-is-retiring-most-of-its-capacity/

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5-Seat Tesla Model Y Approved For Australia

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The Tesla Model Y (five seater) has now been approved for sale in Australia, TechAU reports. The approval came from Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications Road Vehicle Regulator (ROVER) website.

ROVER is the system that administers road vehicles according to the nation’s Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018. From the approval documentation, TechAU found that three variants of the Model Y have been approved for sale — the Standard Range (255 kW power capacity, 69.2 kWh battery), Long Range (375 kW power capacity, 92 kWh), and Performance (393 kW power capacity, 92 kWh battery).

One key thing the article highlighted was a towbar option included in the documentation, leading to the expectation that Tesla will be offering a towing package with the Model Y. In particular, the document showed:

  • Maximum towing mass (braked trailer) — 1600kg
  • Maximum towing mass (non-braked trailer) — 750kg

Here’s the approval document:

There’s not any pricing information as of yet, but the article noted that it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be a $3,000 to $10,000 premium over the Model 3.

The Driven reported that there is no confirmed date for local sales and that Tesla representatives are reportedly indicating to some customers that it’s not on track to start deliveries in late 2021, early 2022, or even late 2022. This could be due to regulatory delays and/or strong demand elsewhere along with the widely reports automotive chip shortages. The Driven also noted, as did TechAU, that when the Tesla Model Y finally arrives in Australia, sales are expected to skyrocket. The Driven emphasized that Australian consumers favor SUVs and that these make up over half of total sales in Australia. So, as popular as the Model 3 is, the Model Y should be even more so.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/20/5-seat-tesla-model-y-approved-for-australia/

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