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Issue #42 - VW recycling and getting into V2G, Porsche looks to a new charging network, and airline carbon offsets are not working.

The EV Musings Newsletter
Issue #42 - VW recycling and getting into V2G, Porsche looks to a new charging network, and airline carbon offsets are not working.
By Gary Comerford • Issue #42 • View online
The one good thing about the area this podcast and newsletter covers is that the sector is very fast-moving. More so now that the general population is starting to recognise that climate change is here, it’s not going away, and it will impact everyone on the planet.
That’s why we’re starting to get people looking at decarbonising aviation, the circular economy for energy management, electrification of more and more vehicles and the rollout of more and more new electric vehicle models.
It’s an exciting area in which to be involved.

This Week's Podcast.
It’s the first episode of the new season and our season-opening episode is a discussion with Sam Clarke from Gridserve. If you’re a patron we also have a post-credits sequence discussion where we look at the Gridserve/ EH link-up and what that means to EV drivers in the UK (Hint: it’s good!)
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Blue Bird Delivers Its 400th Electric School Bus
News comes from Blue Bird in the US that they have delivered their 400th iconic yellow school bus with a full electric drive-train.
School buses are ideal for electrification: they work limited hours per day (usually early morning and mid-afternoon), they run limited routes and the mileage is normally pretty much identical every day. The battery size can be calculated easily to cover the mileage (with allowances for winter weather) and the recharging infrastructure can deal with either an overnight charge OR a mid-morning charge to allow the bus to be used in the afternoon.
Frankly, it’s confusing why many other school districts haven’t started replacing their old diesel school buses with electric ones.
Porsche Follows Tesla’s Supercharger Lead With Its Own Private Charging Network
Porsche is planning its own fast-charging stations along the most important European major highways and motorways. These will offer customers a high-quality, brand-appropriate charging experience while complementing the Ionity network. A unique design will showcase the special character of the Porsche fast-charging stations to the outside world.
This confuses me.
Porsche is one of the automotive manufacturers who are part of the Ionity /Electrify America consortium. They’ve put together a network of high powered chargers across Europe and the United States to service customers driving cars made by the manufacturers who are part of the consortium - including Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, and Hyundai.
So why, then, go and create a completely separate network just for Taycan drivers? It seems that the money might be better served expanding the Ionity network across places like the UK where there is an increasing number of Taycan drivers.
I’m also of the opinion that vehicle-specific networks (such as the Supercharging network, this network and the recently announced Rivian network) are the wrong approach. Taking up grid infrastructure for use by a subset of vehicles only is wasteful and the wrong message to send to everyone.
Of course, if you’re a Taycan driver (or a Tesla or Rivian driver) your attitude may be different when it comes to this topic. But looking at this from a holistic point of view we don’t have petrol stations that just service one brand of cars so why do we have public chargers that do so?
VW Promises Mobile Power Banks Will Eventually Make Charging Free
According to Volkswagen, electric cars are mobile power banks. That means they will one day be an integral part of the energy grid system, helping to save renewable energy that would otherwise just be lost. Volkswagen goes even further: with the right energy management and intelligent storage systems, charging will eventually be free.
One key tenet of renewable energy is that everything needs to be looked at with a different set of eyes than the old fossil fuel way. Previously stuff was mined/extracted, used and done. This applied to oil, coal, and natural gas.
But with renewable energy, the source of the power is just one factor in a whole network of interrelated processes and themes. These will need to fit together to ensure we have a good, solid, power network.
Examples of this include solar PV installed on people’s homes, linking into a battery which is also charged using a time-of-day tariff to ensure flattening of the usage curve for the grid. This reduces the load on the grid and makes sure the need for ‘peaker plants’ is minimised.
Another way this happens is through replacing the battery in the scenario above with a car battery. This is the principle behind vehicle to grid (V2G) technology. The house is connected to the car and charging takes place either way. This means that - in theory - a customer can connect a charged car to a house and an intelligent system will use power from the house to charge the car when needed, but also draw power from the car and plug it right into the house at other times - such as peak pricing.
At the moment this technology is limited to vehicles using the Chademo connecting standard (Nissan Leafs, mainly). However, VW has now decided they will include this tech in all their cars from 2022 onwards. This will be under the CCS connection standard.
Volkswagen Will Use Hydrometallurgy to Recycle 95 Percent of a Cell
Staying with VW: A 400-kilogram battery pack has 126 kg of aluminium, 71 kg of graphite, 41 kg of nickel, 37 kg of electrolyte, 22 kg of copper, 21 kg of plastic, and 82 kg of other raw materials. Recovering all that in an economically feasible way may be cheaper than mining for these minerals, apart from causing fewer environmental impacts.
VW believe they can do this using hydrometallurgy
We should all be living in a circular economy. Something is built from raw materials once, used until it is no longer able to be adequately used for that purpose, repurposed for something else, then dismantled at the end of life and recycled into fresh raw materials to be used again.
There are several companies engaged in recycling batteries in this circular economy. Most of them can recycle upwards of 80% of the old cell. VW’s new process aims to increase that to 95%. What’s more, it does it at a cost that is lower than extracting the original raw materials themselves. This is good news.
UK Government Cannot Rely on Ineffective UN Airline CO2 Deal After Scathing Analysis
Airline decarbonisation is one of the big hitters when it comes to major impacts on the climate. The number of flights taken per day is mind-boggling. Each one of those leaves a huge amount of carbon in the air.
So decarbonising aviation is one of those ‘low-hanging fruit’ items that should have been addressed a lot sooner than it has.
Unfortunately decarbonising is not easy. Batteries for aircraft are limited in their range - especially with the larger planes and the higher payloads - although most of the energy is needed for the take-off and climb. Once a plane is airborne the power requirements are a lot lower.
But nobody has come up with a fuel-efficient (and relatively cheap) way of powering a plane with non-fossil fuel sources.
The Corsia deal was meant to help this by allocating carbon offsets to the airlines.
There are 2 major problems with carbon offsets
  1. They don’t actually stop carbon from being created. Fossil fuels are still being burned. This has to stop.
  2. They are ineffective as a control against climate change. This all leads towards the ‘net zero’ fantasy that a lot of people are espousing: Burn fossil fuels here, remove the carbon there. This is the wrong attitude to take.
Now it seems the Corsia deal doesn’t, in fact, mitigate the carbon impact of flying. Even if it did the cost of doing so will be borne by the passengers rather than the airlines.
Not good.
A cool EV or renewable thing
Rolls Royce is one step closer to an electric plane.
No, this isn’t the Rolls Royce that makes slightly archaic but beautifully made, expensive limousines. This is Rolls Royce the aero-engine manufacturer. Their engines power everything from the A380 airbus to Eurofighter - as well as certain nuclear submarines (!)
They’ve designed an electric aircraft called ‘The Spirit of innovation’ and it recently completed Taxi tests.
The Spirit of Innovation is designed to try and take the world speed record for an electric plane.
But the program is about more than just setting speed records and gaining bragging rights. The kind of power needed to accelerate an electric aircraft up to over 300 miles per hour is very similar to the power that will be needed by future electric taxi aircraft. While the Spirit of Innovation aircraft will be using all of that energy going forward and being lifted by fixed wings, air taxis will use that power to lift themselves off the ground vertically and then change to forward flight to get where they’re going and then land safely
Something To Think About.
Leadership lessons from a chess master: Beware overconfidence
Finally...
Next week we change tack a little on the podcast (see what I did, there?). We’re speaking with Stewart Wilkinson from Vita Yachts. They’re looking at electrifying a segment of the boating world that currently has over 3 million vehicles, kicks out one tonne of pollutants per day per moving boat, and needs a global charging network at the quayside to make it work effectively.
It’s quite a challenge. Are Vita Yachts up to it? Find out next week.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Gary Comerford

Topical stories about renewables, EVs and things that are interesting to EV drivers.

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