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Issue #45 - Heavy EVs are bad, Pennsylvania makes big solar investment, VW to go bi-directional, and US EV tax credit to increase.

The EV Musings Newsletter
Issue #45 - Heavy EVs are bad, Pennsylvania makes big solar investment, VW to go bi-directional, and US EV tax credit to increase.
By Gary Comerford • Issue #45 • View online
A very interesting discussion this week as we chat with Andrew Till and Nnamdi Jenkins-Johnson about taking their EVs abroad. Lots of good information in there.

This Week's Podcast.
The EV Musings Podcast: 84 - The European Roadtrip Episode
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Pennsylvania Makes ‘Largest Government Solar Commitment’ in the US
Pennsylvania’s state government will source 50% of its electricity from seven new solar energy arrays. It will go into operation on January 1, 2023. This is the largest commitment to solar amongst ANY government agency. The developments themselves will be subcontracted to Lightsource bp who will build, own, and operate the arrays themselves.
For a state which was predominantly coal based this is an interesting move. Overall, clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania have increased by 7,800 (which is almost 9% average job growth).
But this has to be put into context. This is for state government electricity; not for Pennsylvania’s electricity overall. When you compare 191 megawatts to the top 10 states by cumulative solar capacity installed, it pales in comparison. No. 1 in cumulative solar capacity is California, at 31,288 megawatts.
But baby steps, I guess.
Green Groups Dispute Power Station Claim That Biomass Is Carbon-Neutral
The Drax energy group is coming under fire from green groups after they reviewed its proposed biomass burning strategy.
Drax claims that burning wood pellets is carbon-neutral because trees absorb as much carbon dioxide when they grow as they emit when they are burnt. Capturing the carbon emissions from biomass power plants would then effectively create “negative carbon emissions”, according to Drax.
But green groups say that this doesn’t take into account the full carbon cycle of the biomass process. A rising number of scientists and environmental campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, have cast doubt on Drax’s “carbon neutral” claims because they doubt that forests can be replaced quickly enough to absorb the carbon emissions required to slow the climate crisis.
This strikes me as being one of those technologies which seeks to do something ‘good’ for the environment but ends up - either accidentally or deliberately - damaging the very thing it wants to protect.
The good thing is that biomass is excellet to use to create energy as it is renewable.
But the bad thing is that biomass means burning things and this is not good. Plus - as the article states - it looks as though it isn’t carbon neutral either
Overall biomass is bad.
Dacia Spring Shows Why Less Weight Makes a Huge Difference for EVs
Whenever you see someone saying they want to save the world by buying a massive electric SUV, doubt their true intentions. Energy efficiency depends on three main aspects: aerodynamics, powertrain efficiency, and mass. The heavier something is, the more energy it needs to move. Although that may seem obvious, many fail to realize that.
If it ran only in city streets, the Dacia Spring would achieve an energy efficiency superior to that offered by the Lucid Air or the Mercedes-Benz EQS. The A-segment hatchback gets 5.3 mi/kWh, which translates to 11.8 kWh/100 km or 8.47 km/kWh. The luxury sedans get around 4.5 mi/kWh.
The curse of the SUV is still strong, even in EVs. A large number of the newer style of vehicles that are being released with electric powertrains nowadays seem to be SUV style: The Mercedes EQC, the eTron, the Vauxhall Mokka, the E-2008 etc.
The problem with a lot of these vehicles is that the larger weight is offsetting some of the gains they get by going electric.
The fact that a ‘lightweight’ EV such as the Dacia Spring can get 5.2 m/kWh when other, similar sized but heavier, vehicles can get 4.5 m/kWh makes a compelling case for smaller, lighter EVs.
Of course the added advantage of this is that it will also reduce the purchase price of the EV as well.
VW Will Switch to Mass-Producing Electric Vehicles With Bidirectional Charging Next Year
Volkswagen has confirmed that it will switch all of its MEB-based electric vehicles to support bidirectional charging starting next year.
It could give a big boost to vehicle-to-grid technologies.
Vehicle to grid is another of the Holy Grail technologies (alongside time-of-day charging tariffs) that will enable better grid management and reduce the need for peaker plants burning fossil fuels.
Having lead the way on V2G with Chedemo connections on Leaf and eNV200 models, Nissan seems to have droped the ball a little when it comes to this technology.
Tesla have promised V2G capabilities for their range in the future and VW look to have stolen a march on other manufacturers with integrated V2G for users who have their V2G enabled wall charger. With 300,000 models potentially being produced per year this will soon add up.
Once owners realise it reduces their total electricity bill, protects them from power outages at home, and links in nicely with rooftop Solar PV and time-of-day tariffs from their energy suppliers this will take off in a big way.
US Electric Car Incentive Is Rumored to Increase to $10,000 in Program Reform
The US federal government is currently looking to include a ramp-up of investments in electrification as part of a massive infrastructure bill.
It’s unclear how the money will be spent, but we are now hearing that the electric car tax credit could increase to $10,000.
The topic of incentives to buy EVs is something of a thorny one.
There are schools of thought which say that if an EV is so expensive you need to bribe owners to buy one there’s something of a problem. Related to that is the fact that incentivising owners to buy something will take money away from other areas of society.
Putting this aside, I firmly believe that at this stage in the EV growth cycle incentives are a great way to help people come on board. EVs are dropping in price all the time but while they do this is a great way to let people know they can be helped in their purchase.
In the US the $7,500 tax credit is good for EV sales (despite the fact that there are those who feel that a tax credit isn’t as much of an incentive as cash ‘up front’). In the UK the credit is applied against the purchase price of the car NOT against a retroactive tax payment at the end of the year.
So the fact that the US gov’t is looking at, potentially, changing from a $7,500 tax credit to a $10,000 point of sale rebate is good for EV uptake.
As pointed out in the article, however, there will have to be an upper limit on purchase price. If you’re spending $187,000+ on a Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo, an extra $10,000 off the purchase price is chump change. But if you’re looking to purchase a Chevy Bolt for $38,000 then $10,000 can be something of a revelation.
A cool EV or renewable thing
Starbucks plans to make its coffee carbon neutral.
If you’re a big coffee drinker like me - and especially if you tend to get your coffee from chains such as Starbucks - you might wonder just how carbon neutral they are.
Well, if you buy an espresso at Starbucks—brewed in a machine running on renewable electricity—most of the carbon footprint of the drink comes from how the coffee was grown. Now Starbucks are looking at ways to make coffee bean growing carbon neutral by the end of the decade.
The process is quite complicated but involves doing things such as using apps to classify the health of the soil the beans are grown in. This helps to target the use of fertiliser - a large source of carbon in the growing process. Targeted fertiliser limits the carbon footprint.
There are other little things they can do such as breed and test new varieties of coffee trees that can better resist disease. The trees can produce more coffee beans, which means that they also sequester more carbon in the soil while helping farmers with small plots earn a better living.
Coffee is very susceptible to climate change so trying to remove carbon from the lifecycle and reduce the overall carbon footprint is always good.
Now all we need to do is get fully recyclable coffee cups and renewable energy to roast the beans and we’ll be on to something!
Something To Think About.
I wrote an article for Medium the other day which might strike a chord with one or two of my readers.“What’s a Fossil Fuel Car, Grandad?
Finally...
The article above on Volkswagen has prompted a thought about that company. They seem to have emerged from the scandal of Dieselgate with a renewed vigour - especially for electric cars. They’ve been instrumental in setting up the Ionity and Electrify America charging networks, they’ve committed to - and manufactured - a set of critically acclaimed EVs with the ID. range, and now they’re looking at including V2G functionality in all their vehicles - something no other manufacturer apart from Nissan has done.
Sure there have been some issues along they way (a large number of vehicles registered as sold in the ID range were not, actually sold to the general public but sold within the VW network) and some would see this as reverting to old ways.
I’m prepared to reserve judgement.
Mystery box!
Here’s a mystery box link for you. Click it to see where it goes.
And, to finish : #GotYourNewMotionCard (If you know, you know. Hint: listen to the podcast)
Did you enjoy this issue?
Gary Comerford

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