The geopolitics of electric cars will be messy. A shift to a green energy economy is bringing a new variety of political tensions. The era of fossil fuels will end. Last year, Britain had its first day without burning coal for electricity since the industrial revolution, and even the largest oil companies say it will be impossible to buy a petrol car by the middle of the century. Oil has had a leading role in geopolitics over the past 100 years, sucking western powers into an often disastrous dependence on the Middle East. While black gold, as oil is sometimes known, is not always the overt cause of conflict, it is linked to between one quarter and a half of all interstate conflicts globally between 1973 and 2012, according to a 2013 study by Jeff Colgan of Brown University. But it would be a mistake to assume that geopolitical tensions will miraculously ease in a future in which renewable energy sources dominate. Building wind turbines and creating lithium-ion batteries requires metals and raw materials from those countries which are blessed, or potentially cursed, with them. And for some of these commodities, their high concentration in particular parts of the world sharpens the risks. Take electric car batteries and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The African country accounts for more than half the world’s production of cobalt, essential for most electric car batteries. A clean energy economy will require a staggering volume of metals to be prized from the ground. For example, Olivier Vidal of the University Grenoble Alpes estimates that to build the infrastructure for clean energy the amount of copper needed amounts to almost half the total mined since 1900. There is also the real risk that the age of the electric car will generate corporate monopolies, echoing those of Standard Oil whose founder John D Rockefeller corn ered the oil market more than a century ago as the combustion engine took off. Glencore, the Switzerland-based and London-listed miner, is expanding its production of cobalt which is set to give it a 40 per cent share of global supply by 2020. The production of lithium, a key ingredient for batteries in electric cars as well as smartphones, is controlled by just five companies.
FT 23rd May 2018 read more »
The UK needs a sixfold increase in the number of electric vehicle charging points by 2020 to provide adequate infrastructure for green motorists, new research has found. It estimates there will be more than one million EVs on UK roads within two years, requiring 100,000 charging points. Currently there are just 16,500, according to the report from data company Emu Analytics. Currently only 3 per cent of supermarkets have a charging point, the research found. Asda has the best coverage, with chargers at 19 per cent of its stores, while Tesco has the worst, with chargers at just 0.4 per cent.
Independent 22nd May 2018 read more »
It’s clear that future transport is going to require more electricity – a lot more. Renewable energy advocates need to figure out a response to this – and quick. Given that coal-fired electricity generation has more or less been put out of its suffering, advocates of nuclear and gas are immediately going to pipe up and press forward the case for more of these filthy behemoths, predictably claiming that renewables are not up to the new job of EV charging.So: we need a plan for a faster growth of renewable energy, not simply to replace the dirty energy generators that we have at the moment, but to provide the additional power required by the replacement of petrol and diesel in the transport sector. Electric vehicles solve little if the electricity used to power them is generated by, er, fossil fuels.
Brighton Energy Co-op 22nd May 2018 read more »
It has been an eventful and uplifting few days for the electric vehicle (EV) market. First an electric Jaguar provided a green gloss to the Royal Wedding, then Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published some of the most bullish sales projections yet for a sector that is already well used to rapid growth, then today a major new EV charging network provider left stealth mode and unveiled plans for the world’s largest fast charger and energy storage network. The latest developments provide yet more evidence that growing business interest in zero emission transport is poised to accelerate, as costs continue to fall and charging infrastructure expands. BusinessGreen takes a look at the reasons behind the growing optimism coursing through the EV industry – and why the oil industry should be concerned.
Business Green 22nd May 2018 read more »