Friday, 22 August 2014

How EVs Could Make Solar Viable Without Subsidies Investment bank UBS says the addition of electric vehicles, and the proliferation of battery storage, will solve the problem of intermittency for rooftop solar and make it viable without subsidies. So much so, it says, that households will be able to budget for 12 years of “free electricity” for a 20-year solar system.

In a major report on the “revolution” that could hit energy markets any time soon, UBS says – as we report here – that the combination of EVs plus solar plus storage will deliver a payback time of 6-8 years by 2020 – effectively making centralised fossil fuel generation redundant.

It says this is not understood by the utility industry or the market, because they are “not yet looking at the topics of solar, EVs and stationary batteries with a holistic view.”

“Our proprietary model (above) shows it is the combination of the three that makes solar fully competitive and that has the potential to bring disruptive changes to the electricity sector.

“Here are the maths: One can leverage the EV purchase with an investment in a solar system and a stationary battery. By doing so, one can optimise the self-consumption of solar power and minimise the “excess waste” of solar electricity.

“And what also may matter to many EV buyers: The electricity used to drive the car is carbon-free. The combination of and EV + solar + battery should have a payback of 7-11 years, depending on the country-specific economics. In other words, based on a 20-year technical life of a solar system, a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free (purchase in 2020).”

UBS says pure battery EVs will be competitive with cars with internal combustion engines, and in some instance may already be so.

As this table to the right shows, the 3-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of a Tesla S model is similar to that of a comparable petrol combustion engine car such as an Audi A7, especially in markets with high fuel prices like Germany – a country where purchase incentives are almost non- existent.

“We think that by 2020, shrinking battery and solar cost will make EVs in the mass segments the cheaper alternative over a car life cycle in most European markets.

“While on a global basis, EV sales for the remainder of the decade should be mostly carbon/fuel standards and related incentives, we think penetration rates will accelerate significantly after 2020 driven by compelling economics. As a conservative 2025 scenario, we think about 10% of new car registrations in Europe will be EVs.”

So, how does this work in practice?

UBS provides the table below to explain why solar plus stationary battery plus electric vehicle, in combination with smart demand, is an almost perfect fit.

EV charging during the night smoothes the daily demand curve. The stationary battery stores excess solar electricity during the day and releases it in the evening hours.

The remaining supply gap will be filled with electricity from the grid during the night/early morning hours, which is when spot prices are low and there is excess base-load and wind power supply. On top (not illustrated below), the stationary battery may be re-charged in the early morning hours with excess grid electricity (at low prices) and supply the morning demand peak during breakfast hours.

Source: RenewEconomy. Reproduced with permission.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wireless charging electric cars on UK roads in 2017 Qualcomm Halo reveals wireless charging BMW i3 and i8 safety cars for Formula E, says tech will be available to customers within three years

Wirelessly charged electric cars could be available to buy as soon as 2017, according to the company developing the technology with car manufacturers.

Qualcomm Halo has been working on wireless charging technology for several years, and last week unveiled a BMW i8 and i3 fitted with a prototype version of the system. These cars will be used as safety and medical response vehicles for the new Formula E electric racing championship, where they need to be able to deploy rapidly – something that wouldn’t be possible if they were plugged in to charge.

Dr Anthony Thompson, vice president of business development and marketing for Qualcomm Halo, told Auto Express: “We’re in discussions at some level with all of the major companies developing electric vehicles, and some requests for quotations have already gone out. We’d expect to see the system on a production car by 2017.”

It’s not yet clear how much more expensive a wirelessly charged EV would be compared to one with a conventional charging cable, but Dr Thompson indicated the technology was likely to debut on luxury and high-end vehicles first, before filtering down to more mainstream models in a few years.

“A member of senior management at one of the carmakers we’re talking to told me that they see EVs as a 10-year game,” added Thompson. They expect that 50 per cent of the cars they sell will be EVs or hybrids by then – and almost all of them will be using wireless charging by that point, too.”

The system works through two charging pads – one on the ground and one attached to the vehicle. Sending a current through coiled wires in the ground pad creates a strong magnetic field, which carries the energy to the pad on the car. The resulting power is then converted to DC and used to recharge the batteries.

The technology has its origins as far back the earliest experiments with electro-magnetism in the 19th century, and is currently used for charging small household items such as electric toothbrushes. “The technology is easy to conceive, but difficult to implement on the scale necessary to recharge an electric car,” said Thompson. “It’s only really become possible in the last 20 years.”

Integrating wireless charging technology with an existing electric car design requires a number of steps, including determining where on the car is the best location for the charging pad. Thompson said that developing the system for the BMW i8 had been a particular challenge, as its carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic body doesn’t shield electromagnetic energy the way traditional steel panels would.

The system can transfer power over a gap of around 150mm, and is currently about 90 per cent efficient, compared to 95 per cent efficiency for a cable system. It still works if the pad is wet from rainfall or even covered in snow.​

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

USA: Rooftop Solar May Reach Grid Parity In 25+ States By 2017 

States where rooftop solar will equal or be cheaper than grid power by 2017 (UCSUSA)

In just three years, new numbers tell us, more than half of the states in the US may have rooftop solar available at the same price as the local grid’s electric rates. And that’s even without considering state and local incentives!

The Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists has just published a series of three quick infographics. Here’s what they show:
By 2017, more than half the states could have rooftop solar as cheap as local electricity prices.
Installing rooftop solar has never been more affordable.
The number of households with rooftop solar is skyrocketing.

Rooftop solar costs about half what it did in 2005 (UCSUSA)

Rather than claiming copyright privileges, the UCSUSA encourages the media to pass these graphics along, so here they are. More information is available at this link.

You’ll find a full description of the methodology used by the UCSUSA here in PDF format, including all source and forecast data. Assumptions are also clearly stated, and links are provided to full-size files. The Washington, DC, information graphics consulting and services Graphicacy produced the infographics.

Skyrocketing number of solar households (UCSUSA)

Cost and charging points more important than range, study says Price and charging infrastructure are more important than range improvements, the study says
Cost reduction and charging infrastructure, rather than long range, are the most important criteria for helping the electric vehicle sector to grow, a new study has shown.

Zhenhong Lin, a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee, optimised electric vehicle range predictions based on the individual driving patterns of 36,664 sample drivers in the United States.

The results showed most consumers would be capable of living with a car offering a range of less than 100 miles, provided the charging infrastructure continues to grow, instead of paying the extra cost of a longer-range, higher-capacity battery.

It suggests a change of focus away from the industry norm, which is to chase ever-longer ranges from a single charge. Until manufacturing costs dip below $100 per kWh of capacity, most consumers are actually better off in a low-range vehicle, according to the report.

The study, Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for U.S. Drivers, is published in the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) journal Transportation Science.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

UK: Jenny Gow to present ITV4 Formula E coverage Jennie Gow is to join ITV4 as presenter of its live coverage of the brand new FIA Formula E Championship.

The presenter, who has an impressive track-record of presenting top-class motorsport on television and radio, will front ITV4’s live coverage of the world's first fully-electric racing series, which starts on September 13 in Beijing.

Currently lead anchor for BBC Radio Five Live’s F1 coverage, Jennie was previously the presenter of BBC2’s MotoGP coverage and hosted Sky Sports News on their live channel and digital platforms.

She says: “I’m delighted and very proud to have been asked to lead ITV4’s coverage of Formula E – I’m a massive motorsport fan and I’m really excited about this brand new series.

“It’s great to be involved in a new chapter of motorsport history from the very beginning, and I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

The new single-seater championship features street circuits in iconic cities like Beijing, London, and Los Angeles. The season starts in China, with the final Formula E race scheduled to take part in Battersea Park in London on June 27, 2015.

Team backers include Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, and among the drivers are experienced Formula 1 campaigners Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna.

Joining Jennie to lend their insight into the cars, the stars and the on-track action will be a selection of expert pundits.

Niall Sloane, ITV's Director of Sport said: “It's great news that Jennie has joined ITV4’s coverage of this innovative new series - which promises top-level racing with the iconic backdrops of some of the world’s most famous cities. The coverage of this series adds to the strength of ITV4’s motorsport portfolio.”

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tesla: 8 years, now also infinite mile warranty on drive unit

Tesla blog

The Tesla Model S drive unit warranty has been increased to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, our most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period.
Moreover, the warranty extension will apply retroactively to all Model S vehicles ever produced. In hindsight, this should have been our policy from the beginning of the Model S program. If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then our warranty policy should reflect that.
To investors in Tesla, I must acknowledge that this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, as our warranty reserves will necessarily have to increase above current levels. This is amplified by the fact that we are doing so retroactively, not just for new customers. However, by doing the right thing for Tesla vehicle owners at this early stage of our company, I am confident that it will work out well in the long term.
– Elon

Thursday, 14 August 2014

If you think Tesla is growing fast, look at Solar City SolarCity installed 1.2 megawatts of rooftop solar PER DAY in Q2.

"We really had an amazing quarter" was how SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive opened up this afternoon's second-quarterearnings call.

The highlights, according to the CEO, were:

  • 218 megawatts booked in Q2, a 216 percent jump. Rive said that this volume of bookings wasn't expected until the fourth quarter. 
  • SolarCity "added 30,000 customers in one quarter." 
  • The installer/financier grew its Q2 installed capacity to 107 megawatts 
"The third securitization highlights the depth of available low-cost capital," according to the firm. The third securitization raised $201 million with $160 million at 4.03 percent and was rated BBB+ by S&P.

The Silevo acquisition closes at the end of August. The manufacturing site in New York is being selected.

Rive said that the company has more than "$3.3 billion of customer payments coming to us in the next twenty years. We've added $800 million in one quarter. This growth, and the demand for the product, has really exceeded any of our previous forecasts."

He said, "We find ourselves in a very exciting situation," adding, "Now's the time to capture the market and grow as fast as we can."

SolarCity installed 1.2 megawatts of rooftop solar per day "every day of the quarter" in Q2, according to COO Tanguy Serra. He contrasted that to the ten days it used to take SolarCity to install the same 1 megawatt in 2010.

He said the 102 percent improvement is due to an "increase in the productivity of our crews." He attributed that improvement to the Zep mounting hardware, more efficient scheduling and more attractive incentive structures.

Some really good stuff on SolarCity's cost structure from COO Tanguy Serra (prices in dollar per watt)
The COO noted that the firm is "reducing cost twice as fast as our goal."
"In an effort to increase the transparency of our cost structure, we have reconciled the GAAP numbers from our 10-Q to our unit costs."
"On average we spend $2.29 [per watt] to build a solar system -- this includes the panels, the inverters, our proprietary Zep mounting hardware, the balance of system, the labor cost, the call centers, the processing and engineering functions, as well as all the infrastructure, vehicles and warehouses necessary to install a solar asset. So $2.29 installed cost."
"We are currently at 48 cents [per watt] acquisition costs."
Adding installed cost plus acquisition cost yields $2.77 per watt, "the total marginal cost of growing the asset base."
It typically takes less than a day to get a job installed.
The goal is to get installation cost down to $1.90 per watt.
The company currently has an installation cycle, the time from contract signing to interconnection, of 60 days.

Lyndon Rive, the CEO, also acknowledged that the firm is "testing different products on the solar loan side," adding, "Once we have come up with the absolute best product out there, we'll make a big announcement on what it will look like."

Tesla Might Cause Grid Defection ‘Tipping Point’ To Occur via SolarLove: Startups often focus on disrupting markets by having some penetrating insights, new technology or simply a desire to improve upon an existing product or service. Morgan Stanley’s report on Solar Power and Energy Storage contains a fascinating comment about the potential ramifications of Tesla’s focus on developing large numbers of electric batteries.

“Energy storage, when combined with solar power, could disrupt utilities in the US and Europe to the extent customers move to an off-grid approach. We believe Tesla’s energy storage product will be economically viable in parts of the US and Europe, and at a fraction of the cost of current storage alternatives,” it explains on page 1.

They go on to say why Tesla might have such an impact, “This advantage is driven primarily by the company’s very significant scale (Tesla will produce as many cells from its Gigafactory as are currently produced by all worldwide battery manufacturers combined) and integrated manufacturing efficiencies. We project the capital cost of Tesla’s battery will fall from the current $250/kWh to $150/kWh by 2020, whereas its closest competitor will be at a cost of ~$500/kWh,” it says on page 2.

The US Energy and Information Administration estimated that about 6% of the electricity transmitted and distributed each year is lost because of problems with national grid system. Six percent doesn’t sound like much, does it?

However, another estimate translated that number into dollars and came up with an amount for a single year, “Multiplying that number by the national average retail price of electricity for 2005, we can estimate those losses came at a cost to the US economy of just under $19.5 billion.” For ten years, the total lost would be $195 billion dollars, just due to grid inefficiencies.

In a sense, the grid is also all the power plants connected to it, because they are the sources of the electricity. Coal plants are even less efficient, with only about 35% of the energy in coal becoming electricity after being burned and converted. An eventual grid defection doesn’t look so scary, when you consider that over the long term, we might be saving a lot of money and polluting our air, water and soil much less. Then, of course, there would be less climate change emissions contributing to that global problem.

Grid defection doesn’t have to be 100% either; many early adopters could have home energy systems using renewables and remain grid connected in order to have a backup power system.

It’s hard to say when a tipping point might occur, but there have been a number of Americans that have lived off-grid or mostly so for a long time. Over 120 years ago, Charles Brush created his ownwind turbine and home battery system.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Tesla maps out growth plans for supercharger network Tesla has created some cool new maps that show how its Supercharger Network will evolve over the next few years.
Plans for the U.S. and Europe are ambitious. CEO Elon Musk's company aims to effectively fill in all the charging gaps that a Tesla vehicle owner might encounter.
Teslas have far greater range than other electric cars currently in the market, but the company has introduced the Supercharger Network to alleviate any concerns about either "range anxiety" or extended charging times.
Asia, an important market for Tesla's future growth, will also see an expansion of the Supercharger Network. However, it a country as vast as, for example, China, the areas covered will be more limited.
The existing US Supercharger Network enables travel through some obvious corridors, such as coastal California and the up and down the East Coast.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.54.08 AM
Tesla's short-term goal for the U.S. is to bulk up the regional charging networks.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.54.35 AM
By 2014, there will be far fewer Supercharger gaps, and the network will provide better access to Canada.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.02 AM
By 2015, there will be almost nowhere in the U.S. that won't be accessible for a Tesla vehicle looking for a rapid recharge.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.34 AM
 Europe is more compact that the U.S., so the objective there is slightly different.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.55.56 AM
The idea here is to increase the density of Supercharger coverage.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.10 AM
But ultimately, Tesla wants to expand the European Supercharger Network to countries not now being served, such as Sweden.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.23 AM
Supercharger expansion plans in China are more limited. At the moment, it's difficult to travel among the country's major cities.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.38 AM
The goal is to gradually work toward changing that, while also adding additional capacity to the existing network.
Screen Shot 2014 08 12 at 11.56.47 AM

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