Rank #1: Dan Szeezil of UOP: We’ve Never Been More Active in Renewable Diesel and SAF As We Are Now
Following the successful Q&A roundtable discussion on the future of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) last month, I decided to do a video podcast series with several SAF producers and technology developers to get their insight into the future of SAF. First on deck is a discussion with Dan Szeezil, Product Marketing Manager for UOP. Following are several excerpts from our discussion, which you can view or download below, or listen to in ITunes.
On the Interest in Ecofining, Renewable Diesel and SAF:
“We’ve really never been more active than we have now. And the activity really has been a worldwide development. So not just North America, but Europe, and Asia and everywhere. We’re seeing a lot of activity here. The response to our technology in the market has been very good, not only in the renewable diesel space, but along with the renewable jet fuel space. As you touched on, there’s a lot of increased interest around sustainable aviation fuels. And we’re seeing a lot of increased interest today for producers trying to look forward to what this SAF future might look like.”
On Changes in the Refining Industry and Interest in Renewable Diesel and SAF:
“It’s clear that the refining industry is re-evaluating the use of their existing assets and infrastructure at their sites. I think it’s a combination of two things. One, there’s been a clear shift towards an interest in producing sustainable fuels and renewable fuels worldwide. But it’s also been some of the ramifications of COVID and some of the downturn in the petroleum demand that’s forced the refining industry to reevaluate how these assets might be performing and what they might be able to be repurposed toward.”
On Feedstock Availability:
“The feedstock question is an important component of project development. And as you touched on with all of the new announcements or potential announcements for new projects in this space, it has brought the issue of feedstock procurement to probably the number one success point with regard to developing a project. We have looked at a lot of the potential supply for sustainable feeds going forwards, as well as utilizing some existing vegetable oil crop oil seeds as well for these fuels. Traditionally, the growth of the supply of the feedstocks has sort of matched the increase in renewable projects. But of course, with the large surge we’re seeing today, people are starting to question whether that the supply can expand to meet it. I think there’s a lot of untapped potential for sourcing sustainable feeds from other parts of the world, as opposed to sourcing them locally in North America and in Europe.”
Jan 08 2021
Rank #2: Steele Lorenz: We Can Benefit Farmers and Achieve GHG Emission Reductions at the Farm Level
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast I spoke with Steele Lorenz, head of sustainable business at Farmer’s Business Network. We spoke about a topic that I think is exciting and that could deliver real GHG reductions at the farm-level across the U.S. while supporting the country’s farmers (and in turn, farm communities): paying farmers for reductions in farm-level carbon intensity. Following is an excerpt from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On Farmers and the LCFS:
“Let me start actually with something really interesting you said which was an assumption about how much technology is on the farm and how technologically savvy growers are. I have to tell you that modern farming produces a tremendous amount of data from exceedingly high tech equipment. Harvesters, sprayers combines are all collecting hundreds of thousands of data points every acre. And growers are really using and maximizing that to the extent that they can to make better informed decisions about what they should plant, when they should plant, how they should plant or cultivate and how they should market.
So, I think that there is some misconceptions that we have to put to rest. We often joke that to be a grower today not only do you have to be an expert in mechanics and engine repair, you have to be an expert agronomist, and increasingly you have to be an expert data manipulator and to some extent coder. Because all of these machines include an increasing amount of data and computer sophistication. So anyway, that is the segue into what the opportunity is in the low carbon fuel standard.
We started working on this about two years ago because of all the information that’s available. Really this wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago, but now with technologies like the FBN analytics platform and the amount of information that’s collected in the field, it is possible to assign a carbon intensity score with a high amount of certainty and verifiability to bushels that are coming off of individual fields. And so, when we started to look at that and see really how we could facilitate that, we started talking to the California Air Resources Board. It was about two years ago now they put us together with a couple of other groups that were working on the same idea from different angles.”
Jan 07 2021
Rank #3: Erika Myers: Transportation Electrification is a Huge Opportunity for Utilities
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Erika Myers, Principal, Transportation Electrification of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). Erika and I have gotten to know one another a bit through our work together on the Fuels Institute’s Electric Vehicle Council, which I am chairing. It’s been fascinating to learn more about utility engagement in the electric vehicle space — it’s happening and I believe utilities will be a key driver of infrastructure expansion in the coming years and organizations such as SEPA are assisting them in building capacity. We spoke about one such work, a paper Erika co-authored, Utility Best Practices for EV Infrastructure Deployment, that makes a range of recommendations to utilities as they enter the EV infrastructure space. Following are a couple of excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On Electrification as a Huge Opportunity for Utilities:
“From a high level, we see transportation electrification as a huge opportunity for utilities, and something that they need to start preparing for today. The folks who are listening to this podcast have probably seen industry forecasts predict EV adoption will increase from where we are today in the U.S., which is around one and a half million electric vehicles, to somewhere over 20 million electric vehicles in the next 10 years. This will equate to electricity consumption of about 11% increase annually, by that that point in time.
That’s a huge amount of growth in electricity consumption, and we have fortunately already quite a bit of existing capacity in our system, but probably the bigger trick is to figure out, how do we get people to charge during more optimal times of the day, or even over the course of a year? Because there’s changes in seasonal electricity consumption.
And so, we see three challenges utilities are facing related to these bigger picture issues. The first is distribution and transmission planning. We need to make sure we continue to provide reliable, affordable, and clean power to this new industry in the most efficient manner possible. The challenge here is basically having adequate forecasting data to incorporate into utility system planning. The second biggest challenge is minimizing system impact. You want to make sure people don’t charge their vehicles during what we call system peak. There’s usually about 100 hours a year where everybody has their air conditioning turned on, or their pumps are running, and all the things that are causing what we call a system peak, so that we can prevent unnecessary build out of new generation, and grid infrastructure.
The third biggest challenge is defining the utility role. Utilities are inherently different from the traditional private sector because they are regulated monopolies. They face a different set of regulations. The assets that they pay for out of the rate base, which is what all consumers are paying for as part of their electricity bill. Those assets must be used and useful, meaning that they’re filling an essential need to provide electricity. We know utilities are essential as future fuel providers, but they may not be able to move as quickly to fill in market gaps for things like charging infrastructure, which is why partnerships are so essential. SEPA is working with utilities and other EV stakeholders to develop best practice, and help guide solutions to these and other EV challenges.”
On What the Next 10 Years Could Bring for Utilities and the EV Market:
“I’m really excited to see what happens in the coming decade as the market matures, and we have bigger industry players entering the market. I see some future trends that I’m personally excited about. The first is an increased convergence around charging standards. That’s an exciting trend, from just the charging infrastructure perspective, to get some uniformity around the charging standards. I think that would help reduce costs for hardware and ultimately software.
A second trend we’ll see is more utility programs for transportation electrification, including some evolution of residential and commercial rate design. And I’d like to see at some point, something like an export tariff for vehicle to grid that will basically allow us to take advantage of EV batteries in the same way that we use stationary storage.
And then the third trend I’d like to see is in conjunction with grid modernization deployments. Industry players will be able to get real time signals for power cost. And these real time signals will help fleets, and aggregators design more sophisticated charging load management systems, and eventually will allow them to have bigger fuel savings. And so, what that might look like is real time pricing at the stations, the charging stations. Similar to what we have for fuel retailers. You see the price changing five, 10 times a day, something similar to that for consumers at DC fast charging locations.”
The post Erika Myers: Transportation Electrification is a Huge Opportunity for Utilities appeared first on Transport Energy Strategies.
Sep 06 2020
Rank #4: Mike Roeth on the Future of Freight Efficiency: “It’s an Exciting Time to Be in Trucking”
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Mike Roeth, Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On the Potential for Heavy-Duty Electrification:
“I had my doubts, and I still do. Let me just tell you how I think about it now, actually, how NACFE thinks about it and what we’ve concluded from our work on electric trucks. First of all, you mentioned four years ago. If I went back four years ago, I think my reaction would was, ‘Come on. Batteries moving freight? I mean, that’s why we have engines and that’s why we burn oil.’
The first hurdle was getting over that the batteries could do it. I think they can. Now, can they go the full trip, and what about dwell time and charge times and how many miles can you get on the charge? All that’s got to be dealt through and worked on. Maybe it will be some of the market, not all of it, but the fact of the matter is I and the industry had to get over the batteries could even do the job, and yes, they can.
Then it was like, ‘Okay, well, maybe the batteries will do it, but we don’t have the trucks. The current truck companies are just too invested in diesel, and they’re working hard on it.’ Well, it was a big moment in 2017 when Tesla has its big semi-truck launch, and we’re all like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I was there,’ and we all saw that.
But what was most interesting, maybe in addition to that night, but maybe more importantly was how in the next months following did all of these projects come out of the woodwork, even with traditional diesel players like Cummins and Daimler and so forth, where they had electric truck programs going, and that just sort of brought them out from their research and development areas and maybe skunkworks and into the real world. Now we’ve got the trucks coming…”
On the Future of Freight Efficiency and How It May Evolve in the Coming Years:
“Maybe there’s an automated self-driving truck as part of that system where possibly exit-to-exit on freeways we can do trucking, or maybe there’s a driverless platooned truck following one with a driver in it. But we see a lot of change there as we move forward, and that change needs to take into account these different items we’ve talked about over our time together here, whether it’s electric or hydrogen or whatever that needs to fit in to this new system of goods movement. Very exciting time to be in trucking. I think that it’s been an industry that some I’ve looked at is kind of, ‘Who wants to do trucking? I mean, those big trucks just get in my way on the freeway,’ but it’s cool. It’s cool. It’s dynamic. There’s a lot of interesting players, and the industry is much more accepting to the technologies than a lot of people think.”
The post Mike Roeth on the Future of Freight Efficiency: “It’s an Exciting Time to Be in Trucking” appeared first on Transport Energy Strategies.
Aug 19 2020
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Rank #5: Dev Shrestha: Real-World Data Shows No Food Insecurity or ILUC from Biofuels
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Dr. Dev Shrestha of the University of Idaho about the recent paper he co-authored, “Biofuel Impact on Food Prices Index and Land Use Change.” The paper found, among other things that short term food price increases have been blamed on biofuel based on simplistic analyses, which may not reveal the main drivers of food insecurity and ignore opportunities for bioenergy to contribute to solutions. Looking at real-world data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the study team was able to show that there is no impact on food prices or land use change happening because of biofuels production and consumption. Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On the Question of Whether There Really Is Land Use Change Associated with Biofuels:
“This is one of the questions we generally get about biofuel, that if we grow or use agriculture product to make biofuel, then the same amount of agriculture product that uses in making biofuels fuel has to be grown somewhere else, that means somewhere else has to convert agricultural land or forest land into agriculture. That’s called indirect land use change. That means because of the fact that we use more biofuel in United States, some other country has to clear up forests to grow agriculture product that they’re missing from the United States. Again, this is all the model predictions. It makes sense from outside. The idea is that the biofuel creates more demand for agriculture product and the forest has to be converted to agricultural land. That’s a valid concern.
However, what we have found looking at the real world data is the opposite of this expectation. The world and U.S. agricultural land is steadily decreasing, not increasing. I would emphasize that fact that the world and the U.S. agricultural land is steadily decreasing. The reason that the world needs less land to grow food may be explained by improving land productivity. So despite declining agricultural land, the World Bank data shows we are growing agriculture production by 2.8%. And that’s been consistent since 2000. Declining agricultural land in case of the U.S. and the world average is true. However, we have not looked into individual countries. There may be some countries that deviate from the world average. So that’d be an interesting study in itself to look at, as you said, there may be a country or two which deviates from the average of the world’s land productivity or land use change impact we have seen in this study.”
On the Problem with Relying on Economic Models for Assessing Potential Land Use Change from Biofuels:
“Despite economic models having many known flaws, we rely on economic models because this is the best tool that’s available out there. And economic models have worked for many other problems, but since this is relatively new without much data, it hasn’t worked in addressing indirect land use issues for biofuels. So initial studies to predict land use change, again, have used these existing economic models. They were not designed to predict the impact of biofuels, that’s the reason that predictions were either off or even in some cases completely the opposite of what actually happened.
So I’ll give you these four predictions that was given in 2008 paper [the Searchinger study] using this economic model, and then we’ll compare how that economic models compare versus the real world. So the first prediction was that corn prices will increase by 40% because of biofuel production. That was the first prediction which clearly did not happen. As we discussed earlier, the real world data from 1991 to 2016 shows the inflation rate of corn prices was steady before and after the biofuel era. There’s no hiccup. There may be a year or two where the food price has gone up specifically, like in 2007, 2008 and 2011. That was due to the weather issues and the declining dollar value at that time and a couple of other things like fuel prices were high. But other than that, if you just look at the trend, there is no change whatsoever before and after biofuel era. So that prediction did not hold.
The second prediction was that U.S. corn exports will decline by 62% and soybean exports will decline by 28%, which also did not happen. The corn export stayed the same while the soybean export is continuously rising. Look at the third prediction of this study, which held that world agricultural land will increase to grow food to replace the amount used by biofuel. Also, as we discussed earlier, world agricultural land is actually declining 14 million acres a year. So that’s quite a significant amount of reduced land for agriculture in the year, yet we are increasing per capita food production. And the fourth prediction they had made was that the U.S. will bring about 10.8 million acres of additional land into agriculture, which also did not happen. And actually in U.S., agricultural land is declining.
Again, I would say that the problem with this complex model is that they require largely input parameters and understanding of interrelationships. Unfortunately, that has to be based on literature and studies and verified data, which currently is not available. There are flaws in the economics, but we still rely on these models. It has a long way to go for economic models to catch up with reality, though these models are improving over time. Since 2008, we have come a long way to improve these economic models, but we are not there yet to use this as the only tool in making good agriculture or biofuel policies.”
The post Dev Shrestha: Real-World Data Shows No Food Insecurity or ILUC from Biofuels appeared first on Transport Energy Strategies.
Jul 10 2020
Rank #6: Rodrigo Favela on the Future of Fuels, Vehicles, Energy Reform and PEMEX
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Rodrigo Favela, a partner in HCX of Mexico. HCX recently completed a study about the Mexican fuel market for the Fuels Institute, Mexico’s Energy Reform: Impact of Mexico’s Deregulation and Liberalization of the Fuels Market. We talked about the study’s findings and the future of vehicles and fuels in Mexico.
On January 1, 2017, Mexico began to implement its Energy Reform program, allowing private companies to invest and own infrastructure and fueling stations in Mexico for the first time since the inception of state-owned and operated petroleum company, Pemex. By the end of that first year, fuel prices were fully subject to free market dynamics versus being controlled by the government. The deregulation and liberalization of Mexico’s fuel market also ushered in a new regulatory framework designed to guarantee free market conditions and foster private investments by outside companies.
Despite the hope for private investment into fuel distribution infrastructure and retail sites, growth has been slow and states are still heavily dependent on PEMEX owned infrastructure to supply and sell fuel. The report identified a number of barriers to market diversification including high entry costs, a complex and lengthy permitting process, limited transparency in price information, lack of security and difficulty competing with subsidized PEMEX.
Currently, Mexico has the capacity to store enough fuel to satisfy about 3.6 days of demand, but new proposed projects are expected to increase this capacity by 50% with an ultimate goal to reach 10-13 days of capacity by 2025. Existing bottlenecks and inefficiencies, however, have resulted in pipelines operating at only 43% of capacity. Significant investment in fuel distribution infrastructure is needed to reliably satisfy demand. And while retailers face good margins in Mexico, existing barriers to new competitors are resulting in rebranding of existing stations versus opening of new retail sites. This has not resulted in improved competition nor has it led to lower prices for consumers.
Even with the efforts of the current administration to raise the production and storage capacity, Mexico will remain dependent on imports as the major source of fuel supply for the next ten to fifteen years. Just as Mexico has become highly dependent on the American market for supply, U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are just as dependent on Mexico for demand. This symbiotic relationship is likely to remain strong within the next decade.
Also influencing the fuels market is the composition of the vehicle fleet. The Mexican vehicle market is dominated by gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, which account for more than 96% of total fuel demand in the country. The fleet is expanding at a rate of 6.2% per year, with compact and subcompacts dominating the market with a 60% share. The car parc is older than that found in the United States, with vehicles averaging 17 years old – this aged fleet has direct implications on efforts to reduce emissions. The U.S. is the third most common importer of vehicles to Mexico and car manufacturing will continue to be an important factor for the development of fuel markets in Mexico.
Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On the Future of PEMEX:
“Even though the new government has very adamant in terms of trying to foster or make PEMEX stronger, we have seen that this hasn’t actually happened. PEMEX is still not producing enough fuel internally. The amount of imported fuels by private companies continues to grow, and the amount of retail at gas stations with other brand names apart from PEMEX, continues to grow in the country as well. In any sense, this is irreversible — this trend will continue.”
On Why Liberalization Will Continue:
“We have gone too far into liberalization at this point. There are too many interests already investing to import fuels. People are getting used to having more competition. And people are seeing that. Mexico has a problem with black market fuels. This has grown in the last 10 to 15 years to alarming proportions linked also to drug cartels and other problems.
When the new government came in, what it did was try to stop the black market because most of it was stolen from the pipeline. We have very specialized, technical specialized black market operators. They steal from the pipeline directly and they resell into gas stations. So the president stopped the pipeline. Large parts of the country were out of fuel for maybe one month, and interestingly enough, the only fuel stations that had fuel to sell were those that didn’t import through PEMEX. They were the private importers who had fuel because they supply through other means besides the pipeline. In the end, what happened is that this gave another push toward liberalization because people were seeing that it was not a good idea to be so dependent on PEMEX.”
On Why Mexico Is Not Exempt from Global Fuel Trends:
“Well, Mexico is not exempt from the trends. Biofuel, hybrids and electric cars, and the natural gas vehicles fleet, have been growing. It’s a very small proportion, but it’s growing very fast. And we’re going to continue this trend. Even after the pandemic, we are going to continue to see these type of fuels or energy sources grow because of market conditions. People will prefer hybrid vehicles, for example, as they have gone down in prices. People are preferring hybrid vehicles because they don’t want to get into this political discussion about the sovereignty of fuels into Mexico. They just want to drive a car. And people prefer, if they have the money, they to buy a hybrid car so they don’t have to go to the gas station every week. They go every month or every two months.
So that’s the types of decisions facing Mexicans. The other thing is we have seen the growth of natural gas vehicle fleets. Natural gas in Mexico is at a very low price. It’s the same as in the U.S. and has been growing in a very fast pace. The number of commercial car fleets using natural gas has picked up, and will continue to grow as well. And with biofuels, it has always been the same question. We have a strong sugar cane lobby in Mexico. In some regions, especially on the Gulf of Mexico, we are seeing the growth of the use of bio-ethanol. I think that will continue to be done.”
The post Rodrigo Favela on the Future of Fuels, Vehicles, Energy Reform and PEMEX appeared first on Transport Energy Strategies.
Jun 24 2020
Rank #7: Ortwin Costenoble on Future Biofuels Standards in the EU
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Ortwin Costenoble, senior standarization consultant with the Royal Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) about the recent research project commissioned by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) entitled, “Engine tests with new types of biofuels and development of biofuel standards.” The objective of the project was to present input to the standardization work of CEN/TC 19 ‘Gaseous and liquid fuels, lubricants and related products of petroleum, synthetic and biological origin’. The project consisted of the following work packages:
- Study the overall sensitivity of future (Euro 6C technology) vehicles and the fuel logistics’ system towards mid-blend oxygenate (“E20/25”) gasoline;
- Demonstrate the feasibility of a CI engine using ignition assist (spark plugs or glow plugs) to make high octane fuels ignitable and the combustion controllable over a wide operational window;
- Make FAME standard EN 14214 more robust to ensure B7 is fit for purpose and to be prepared in case of higher blends B10-B30;
- Check whether present or future engines might pose issues regarding quality requirements for blends of paraffinic diesel and to confirm their potential emissions benefits.
The results from the project, which concluded towards the end of 2019, will help CEN develop new quality and specification standards that will be required before it can be sold. A recent post on the blog also featured the E20-related project findings.
Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On a Potential E20 Standard:
“One of our main conclusions was that you need to do some tweaking and maybe a little bit of extra research, specifically on how to make an E20 petrol specification standard. But it can be done. There is no major hurdle any more, except that the European Commission has a directive in place which, well, if you read it as it is, forbids the sales to the public of anything above 10% of ethanol in petrol, which is E10. That set the Commission to thinking, and at the end of last year, they published a tender for consultants to review the whole directive, which is related to fuels quality, to see where would it make sense to further adapt that directive apart from going to an E20? Where do we need to do things? Where can we relax? Where do we need to be more strict in order to be sure that we can maintain our goals? And where does it still assist the industry in achieving goals with regards to CO2 reduction, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and so on. That was basically the response by the Commission. It’s not a big step. Obviously we would have liked them, based on our research, to just say, ‘Okay, we’re going to revise it. And we start now.’ But okay. They are working on it.
On the CI Ignition Assist Part of the Study:
“Then another part of the study was to demonstrate the feasibility of diesel engine, using high-octane fuels and gasoline type of fuels. We constructed single-cylinder engine, with the help of some car manufacturers. And that single-cylinder, we obviously tested it with diesel. It worked. We tested it with the normal gasoline, and we tested it with several types of blends of gasoline and ethanol to see where we could optimize, and when you need to have an assist with spark. So it’s a combination of a gasoline-type of engine and a diesel type of engine.
That worked. Obviously it was a single-cylinder. We compared how it worked with a normal gasoline engine. The results were quite good. So that is hopeful. Some of the OEMs have agreed to work internally and continue on that. The point is that would be optimized on not too high-octane type of gasoline, so that would be just a normal octane, as we have in Europe or even an octane that is common in the States or in some other parts of the world. So it could be, and it is, a normal market fuel. That was the target, to see if we could have this run on a normal fuel, where there are some engines already, and cars already, in the market, that use special fuels.”
The post Ortwin Costenoble on Future Biofuels Standards in the EU appeared first on Transport Energy Strategies.
Jun 08 2020
Rank #8: Ken Dragoon on the Promise of Renewable Hydrogen
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Ken Dragoon, executive director of the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance (RENEWH2) about the promise and future of renewable hydrogen. Following are a few excerpts from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes.
On the Mission of the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance:
“Two of our big issues is to raise awareness of producing fuels from electricity as a form of long-term storage that lots of people are prospecting for madly, thinking we need new technology to do that. The technology is here if we just recognize it. And the other issue is to promote that, when people talk about transportation electrification, it’s not just battery vehicles, it’s hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. We can make the hydrogen from electricity. So those are two of the big sort of central messages that we’re promoting today. There’s a lot of work ahead because there’s a lot of lack of information among members of the public and even legislators about how far hydrogen has come.”
On Why Renewable Hydrogen Is Beginning to Take Off:
“It’s only really in the last few years that renewable hydrogen has begun to take off because wind and solar penetration levels have gotten high enough to where there’s a lot of surplus electricity running around. They’ve seen this in Europe, started deploying electrolyzers by the dozens, and that’s caused the capital cost of the devices to drop rapidly, factor of two, in just a few years. And those economies of scale are nowhere near through. The cost of this technology is dropping quickly, and so is the cost of the electricity to make the fuel itself, so that’s kind of what’s going on.”
On the U.S. v. Europe in Terms of Development:
“The United States is lagging because our penetration levels of renewables are lower than in Europe. And also hydrogen is a fuel, like natural gas, and it’s like you said, you can sort of substitute it for natural gas as the advantage of no carbon footprint, but natural gas in the United States is far cheaper than it is in Europe. So, they have more abundant electricity for this purpose and the value of the product, the hydrogen, is higher in Europe than it is here, where they don’t have any indigenous sources of natural gas. The development of renewable hydrogen and the renewable electricity kind of go hand in hand. If we’re going to use renewable electricity, wind, and solar, to meet a high fraction or even all of our electrical needs, we’re going to have these kinds of huge surpluses. And the alternative today is just turning off the renewables.”
On Renewable Electricity and Synthetic Fuels:
“I would argue, you can’t get to a 100% renewable electricity without using renewable electricity to make synthetic fuels that can be stored in conventional storage like gas pipelines or fuel tanks, if they make a liquid fuel, to run in conventional, even existing power plants to convert back to electricity. We can have these high pressure weather systems that can set over a multi-state area. And while they sit there, there’s no wind happening within those areas. We’ve seen that that is not uncommon for a week of no wind in the winter, in the Northern latitudes, where we are. Where solar can’t really fill in, and to replace all of our gas and coal fired turbines with batteries to cover a week or two weeks of low wind output would cost many tens of times more than the actual renewable to get to 100%.”
(Note: Ken mentions SB 5811 in the podcast recording; it’s actually SB 5588. Information on the bill can be found at this link.)
May 19 2020
Rank #9: Nick Molden: Tires Not Tailpipe
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with Nick Molden, founder and CEO of Emissions Analytics, about non-exhaust emissions in vehicles. Following is an excerpt from our discussion, which you can download or listen to at the link below or listen to in ITunes. See also the recent post Tires Not Tailpipe about this issue on the blog.
On What Non-Exhaust Emissions Are:
“Non-exhaust emissions generally encompass three things, which is material lost from tires during operations, from brakes, and also from the road surface itself so, obviously, not only do the tires wear, but the road surface wears, as well. These three sources create particle emissions. We decided to focus on tires first of all because we believe that is the single largest of the three as a source, but also that it’s growing as a problem, and there’s strong evidence that the heavier the vehicle, the more the tire wear emissions are, everything else being equal, whereas brake wear, we have more regenerative braking may well decline, so tires was our priority out of those three.
It’s very easy just to take what we’re regulating today and just make that progressively tighter and tighter over time, and there’s an arms race between regions to just regulate harder. One of my concerns is that, actually, that’s not the efficient way of doing it, particularly as if you put all the effort into that and neglect something else which is not regulated, which is actually more important. I think we’re getting to that stage now with the tailpipe.
With modern vehicles, particularly modern diesel vehicles, there’s now so little pollutants coming out of the tailpipe, except for CO2. They’re getting down into the regions of being very hard to measure, and that includes particle emissions. The regulated level in Europe for particles at the tailpipe is 4.5 milligrams per kilometer, but reality from our data, it’s probably a tenth of that and, in certain circumstances, 100th of that, so we’re now talking down to extremely low mass of particles coming out of the tailpipe, yet that is the thing which is regulated, and tires are not regulated.”
Mar 30 2020
Rank #10: George Heppel: How a Metals Analyst Looks at EV Sales Potential
On this episode of the Fueling the Future podcast, I spoke with George Heppel, senior analyst for CRU Group, about electric vehicles and the future of the battery metals markets. Following is an excerpt from our discussion, which you can download below or listen to in ITunes.
On What You Really Need to Focus on When Assessing EV Sales Potential:
“2017 was kind of when the electric vehicle sort of boom was really beginning to take off. Tesla was doing extremely well. Electric vehicle sales in China were absolutely booming. We took the top 11 biggest electric vehicle manufacturers in China, and we looked at their cumulative sales forecast to 2020, because around that time, around 2017 a lot of these Chinese electric vehicle sales were saying, ‘We’re going to be making X a number of cars by 2020.’ We took the top 11 and we added up all of their sales expectations of 2020, and it came to 4.2 million cars. 4.2 million electric vehicles is a huge number. I think at the time, back in 2017, I think annual sales were about 800,000. The idea it was going to grow to 4.2 was just, it was an extraordinary forecast.
That hasn’t materialized. Fast forward to today, and are we going to see 4.2 million electric vehicles sold in China next year? Well, no. In fact, Chinese government target is 2 million, and a lot of people think it’s going to be a lot less than that. On average, people are torn between 1.3 and 1.7 as the general view. The point I’m trying to make here is that in the past we had a huge expectations for electric vehicle sales, and they just haven’t materialized in practice.
We need to remember that. It’s really important having that hindsight and having an understanding of what’s being forecast in the future when you’re trying to understand what electric vehicle sales are going to be like in 2025, because you need to understand that bias in the market. If someone says that EV sales are going to reach 10 million in 2025, bearing in mind they’re two million today, you need to factor in the potential that there is a little bit of upward bias on that.
Personally, when I’m looking at electric vehicle sales over the next five to 10 years, the key question that I ask myself, and this is if anyone wants to really try to understand how many of these vehicles are going to be made over the next five to 10 years, or how many that vehicles are going to be sold, rather, the key question you have to ask yourself is who is going to make them? That is the key question. Because I do not deny that there’s huge demand for electric vehicles at the moment. If you want to go out and buy a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf or anything, you have huge waiting lists. I think the Volkswagen ID.3 has sold extremely well and they haven’t even started making them yet.
The demand is there. I think 10 million cars by 2025, the demand is there, but is the manufacturing capacity there? I don’t think it will be. For 2025, we have more conservative forecasts for EV sales based on expectations of what companies are going to make, as opposed to what we think demand is going to be.”
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Jan 17 2020