After the liberalization of the energy market, the system has experienced some notable changes in electricity generation, creating competition in the originally conservative industry. This trend has allowed newcomers into the industry with new initiatives and innovations, thereby creating competition within the industry. The sector which was predominantly energized by coal gradually started shifting into a gas power plant.
A report from EnAppSys gave that gas-fired plant produced about 41% power more than coal to the European power supply in 2019 where coal initially produced 31% and 37% more than the gas-powered plant in 2018 and 2017 respectively. The reason for this rapid and massive shift cannot be too far from the need to reduce greenhouse emissions since the gas-fired plant produces less carbon dioxide than coal.
However, the gas-fired plant still produces more methane which is also a greenhouse gas. Hence, the policy eventually had to shift further towards renewable and environmentally friendly energy.
Several innovations continue to go into energy production to move the industry from fossil fuel towards cleaner energy, tackle global warming and to provide an essential contribution to the EU’s long-term strategy of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. These innovations eventually encourage the new electricity market design in Europe.
Details of The New Europe Energy Policy
“Today’s approval of the new electricity market design will make energy markets more flexible and facilitate the integration of a greater share of renewable energy,” was the promises made by the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete. He further went on to give the assurance of cost-effective energy supply, “An integrated EU energy market is the most cost-effective way to ensure secure and affordable supplies to all EU citizens.”
Of course, he is right, given that this new policy comes with a lot of promises that plans to increase the presence of renewable energy to about 32% in the EU’s energy mix by 2030. The policy intends to increase building performance which is known to consume about 40% of the total energy supply in Europe making it the single highest consumer and also improve energy efficiency to at least 32.5% by 2030.
Even the government was not left out as each member state was required to draft integrated national energy and climate plan known as NECP for 2021 to 2030 and where each draft are to be analyzed and necessary recommendations made to help them achieve the goal by 2030. This comprehensive update of the energy policy framework will facilitate the transition from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The electricity market design elements consist of four dossiers –
- a new electricity regulation,
- amending electricity directive,
- risk preparedness and
- a regulation outlining a stronger role for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).
The approval of the EU Council of Ministers’ puts it into law and enforces it.
An important point worth noting and worthy of commendation is the level of consistency the EU has moved. The various projections they have made and how they have followed through is worth commending regardless of whatever flaws might still be in this process. It will also come as no surprise when more players support this initiative soon.
What Are The Economic Implications?
The Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) outlines specific measures for the building sector to tackle challenges of the large energy consumption, to update and to amend many provisions from the 2010 EPBD, which is eventually targeted at bringing energy consumption in buildings to a minimum of 32.5%. The changes will bring considerable benefits from a consumer standpoint as this excess money can be diverted into tackling other financial demands and eventually increasing their financial standing.
Also, from the government’s perspective, this will enable more energy to be distributed to where demand is higher. This new market will also attract more investors and will lead to the creation of jobs and encourage more growth in the economy.
Environmental impacts of the New Electric Market Design
This new electricity market is increasing the presence of renewable energy to at least 32% in the EU energy mix and this in the other way round will reduce the percentage of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases which includes methane and CO2. It was also noted that buildings contribute to about 36% of CO2 emission to the atmosphere.
Therefore reducing the consumption will also in like manner reduce CO2 emission. Most importantly, it will eventually contribute to the EU’s long-term strategy of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The brunt will be bared by countries that depend on the exportation of fossil fuel.
Another advantage of this new market is the increase in the availability and sufficiency of energy, and this is because the system cuts down energy wastage and increases energy efficiency. The policy will also make sure that the energy available is only used when needed, and in a way that does not distort the internal electricity market.
This new market has put the European Union as leaders and initiators in the fight for a green environment and lead initiators in the transition to renewable energy. With the various set dates for the step by step actions towards the complete eradication of carbon emission and complete transition to clean energy set by the European Union and member countries, it will be agreed that these have taken the bull by the horns and are sure to achieve this set-out goal.
Maybe this might have been fueled further by the fact that the EU is the biggest importer of fossil fuel and have everything to win and very little to lose with the transition to renewable energy. Whatever the case may be, global warming has eaten up our planet and becoming the biggest threat to our dear earth.
The effect of global warming is not restricted to Europe alone as this war is declared at every inch and bend of mother earth. Hence, it will only be rational for every individual, organization and Nation to enter this war and join the fight before it comes knocking at our door.
It’s no news that there’s been a paradigm shift in energy generation and consumption. We’ve developed from the one-way, centralized energy production-consumers, to a dynamic, and distributed energy generation system. Things are changing rapidly, and it’s vital for the stakeholders in the power grid to respond to the evolving demands of energy use and production.
For this post, we’ll focus on the Distribution Service Operators (DSOs), as a principal stakeholder, to see how they can optimize their roles and take advantage of this dynamic energy production system. To start, let’s examine the distributed energy production and see what makes it peculiar.
Characteristics of Distributed Energy System
Unlike the centralized and one-way energy system, distributed energy systems have the following features:
- Energy production is commonly from renewable energy sources like solar, wind, mini-hydro plant, and bio-fuel.
- The energy source is close to the load that they serve, which decreases the energy lost from the transmission line.
- The capacity of a standard distributed energy source is lesser than 10MW.
Integrating these peculiarities in the distribution network requires the network operators to evolve in their capacity to manage such a dynamic system.
Transitioning Into an Active DSO
Before now, the traditional responsibility of the DSO was centred around planning and maintenance of the grid, managing supply outages and energy billing. However, the advent of DEPs has evolved their roles from network operators to active system operators.
Also, DSOs used to be the intermediary between the Transmission system operators and the energy consumers. Now, new actors like aggregators and prosumers have emerged, giving the DSOs more parties to manage to have a reliable and efficient system for all.
To have DSOs function fully as active system operators and to take advantage of the distributed energy systems, there are vital factors that should be in place. According to an IRENA brief, the following factors are crucial to enable DSOs to carry out their actual roles.
- An appropriate regulatory framework
- A secure data management plan
- Smart grids and digital technologies
- Improved communication with consumers
Let’s dive-in to see how these factors can influence the performance of the DSOs.
An Appropriate Regulatory Framework
Policies and systems that will favour the performance of DSOs need to be in place. And this starts with clearly stating out the roles and responsibilities of DSOs to guide them on acting on what matters. The dynamic nature of the distribution grid could lead to a confusion of roles and have them doing less on what should have been a primary priority.
Also, there needs to be a standard of operation for prosumers and aggregators least they go uncontrolled and abuse the distribution system. Every stakeholder should know how far they can go in their activities.
The regulatory framework should also involve setting a comfortable atmosphere for innovations in distributed energy management by providing incentives to the procurement, research, and businesses involved. The policies should also include mandating the implementation of smart-grid technologies on stakeholders like prosumers and aggregators.
A Secure Data Management Plan
There are lots of data and information of the grid available to the DSOs; the consumers’ data on location, electricity consumption, billing, there are also data from the DEPs that are connected to the grid, the type of energy source, the production rate, and pattern, location, the stability.
The DSOs have access to all these data, and it essential that the data is managed according to regulatory standards to protect the rights and privacy of the parties, especially the consumers. Therefore, a secured data control standard should be in place to ensure only permitted data is shared with third parties and any other participants that have interests in the distribution network.
Smart Grids And Digital Technologies
The traditional systems in the grid cannot accommodate the new developments of distributed energy production; there needs to be a shift in the technology we use in the electrical network. DEPs have made the grid more congested and dynamic; new tech innovations should be in place.
For instance, the replacement of unidirectional meters in the traditional grid with smart and multi-directional meters for efficient data capturing. Also, responsive and automatic voltage control systems are crucial to have a stable network in spite of the various energy sources.
Other vital technologies include smart meter data management software, Forecast-as-a-Service software, active communication protocols, active grid setups like automatic on-load tap changers, static compensators, etc. These technologies will help DSOs to manage a smart grid actively.
Improved Communication With Consumers
The internet and new digital technologies have changed how we communicate. DSOs also need to respond to the latest trends of communication among the customers. Communication channels like mobile and web apps, social media need to be explored to interact with consumers effectively.
All these factors, combined, are a formidable platform for DSOs to effectively manage the grid and start to take advantage of the distributed energy source.
How DSOs can Take Advantage of Distributed Energy Sources.
DSOs can take advantage of the DEPs in the following ways:
1. Using DEPs For Peak Load Management/ Non-frequency Ancillary Services
DSOs have invested heavily and are still investing in grid facilities to manage peak load demands that occur in the network. However, the presence of DEPs can change DSOs’ reliance on these expensive and environmentally unfriendly methods.
The DSOs can use the distributed energy sources from prosumers as ancillary. This process will save the DSOs much money from investing in ancillary structures.
2. Acquire Grid Flexibility Services
The penetration of DEPs in the distribution network brings in various challenges. One of which is the congestion of the network, which may lead to many imbalances. Therefore, to take advantage of DEPs, the DSOs must be ready for such complexities by obtaining flexibility services.
The flexibility services could include voltage support and demand-side response; these will ensure that the network is stabilized amid the varying energy generation and consumption.
3. Provide Reactive Power Support to TSOs.
Due to the wide-spread of DEPs and smart inverters, DSO can harvest a significant amount of reactive power across these energy sources within their network. Reactive power is useful for voltage control and also a vital element for a stable grid. DSOs can offer the acquired KVars as a service to TSOs in locations that they are needed.
Another way DSOs can take advantage of DEPs is by acting as the central data hub for all the grid information.
DEPs have changed the outlook of the grid management, and DSOs must develop new models to manage the grid effectively, optimize their service to their consumers, and maintain a profitable business.
Finally, IT and digital technologies play a major driving force in this transition. Many smart systems and software like Hive Manager, are in place to optimize the operations involved in the distribution system. DSOs should explore these solutions as they perform their roles and make the grid reliable and safe for all.
Blockchain is a fast-growing disruptive technology that is designed to improve credibility in record keeping and transactions. Its role in building trust and verified accountability is an essential service for modern dynamic transactions.
The blockchain provides a way to store verified tamperproof data that is accessible anywhere in the world at any time. The blockchain is essentially an immutable trusted database that can be used for reference when handling disputes, authenticating transactions, proving ownership and many more.
The Blockchain and How it Works
Looking at blockchain technology only in terms of its connection to Bitcoin is a somewhat limited view. This notion was emphasized by Jaspreet Bindra, the former Senior Vice President – Digital Transformation of Mahindra Group in India. In his words, defining blockchain as the technology behind Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency, or Ether is like explaining the internet (solely) as the technology behind emails.
In simple terms, the blockchain is a tamperproof decentralized digital ledger that keeps a permanent record of a wide variety of verified transactions and data. These include information on property ownership, business mergers, federal documents, shares, stocks and many more.
Conventional transactions need trusted third parties to verify the information presented by the traders. These third parties include banks, financial institutions, credit review boards and governmental agencies. You need to verify the authenticity of documents, ownership, identity and monetary status of the traders before making a deal. These verification processes can be costly and time-consuming.
In the blockchain, every transaction or related data is verified and recorded in an individual block. The block is then permanently linked to any previous similar transaction and corresponding ledgers. The links are characterized by complex cryptography that is unique to the users involved and the specific transaction. Each block is linked and validated by the previous one, saving time and money spent on conventional due diligence.
Also, the blockchain data is decentralized. General ledgers can only be stored in one location at a time; probably in a vault or safety deposit box. However, data in the blockchain is stored in multiple ledgers that are updated simultaneously, adding another layer of security against hackers.
To successfully tamper with any blockchain entry, a hacker would have to alter the entire chain. He would also need to edit the ledgers of everyone else on the network in question.
Defining Second Layer Blockchain Solutions
Blockchain technology is yet to scale up and dominate the world markets. While its potential is recognized globally, blockchain technology has been held back by its inherent limitations. The fundamental challenge that limits blockchain scalability today is the speed of its transactions.
The verification of blockchain transactions takes time and a lot of computational power. Yet, these processes are part of what sets the blockchain apart from conventional transactions.
These speed limitations have hindered the integration of blockchain technology with faster mainstream transactions. At its core, the Bitcoin Blockchain can only handle five transactions per second (TPS) while Ethereum handles 10 – 15. This is a stark contrast to Visa that can handle up to 24,000 TPS3.
Second Layer Blockchain Solutions were developed to accelerate the completion of blockchain transactions. They are a type of secondary framework built on pre-existing blockchain systems. Second layer systems take sets of transactions and compute them outside the main blockchain (off-chain). This reduces the load on the main chain, freeing up computational power and resources for other functions.
By isolating sets of transactions off-chain, the second layer solutions can increase the number of transactions the blockchain can handle in a day. This system is an essential component of scaling up the blockchain to compete with conventional systems like Visa.
Types of Second Layer Blockchain Solutions
Second layer blockchain solutions are a series of intricate protocols designed to enhance the operation of the blockchain. They are designed with elaborate algorithms and systems to increase transaction speed, verification and security. This article highlights the general idea and operation of the two principal Second Layer block solutions, State Channels and Side Chains, in simple terms.
1. What Is A State Channel?
A State Channel is a blockchain second layer solution that allows a group of participants to perform an unlimited number of private transactions off-chain. Unlike conventional on-chain transactions, the state channel transactions are not made public. They are only visible to participants on the channel. Only the initial and final state of the transactions is recorded in the main blockchain.
State channels enable people who need to make several exchanges between themselves to maintain a blockchain ledger. Recording multiple small transfers is cumbersome on the blockchain because each transaction needs to be verified and confirmed by miners. This can slow down the type of fast-paced exchanges the state channel participants need.
State channels enable groups to perform secure, fast and low-cost transactions using blockchain technology. The state channel solutions in use today hold the promise of high scalability with some capable of doing thousands of transactions per second.
How State Channels work
With State Channels, the participants rely on mutual agreements that are signed with their blockchain encryption signatures for verification. The participants create a smart contract elaborating the state of their transactions before going off-chain.
While off-chain, the participants can perform as many transactions as they desire without depending on miners’ verifications. They also don’t require the formation of new blocks per transaction.
Once the transactions are complete, the participants mutually sign a close-out transaction. Close-out transactions are unique in that they are recorded in a new block on-chain. To continue transacting after a close-out transaction, the state channel participants need to re-open the state channel with a unique encryption signature.
State Channel Security
A state channel is verified by its participants and their mutual smart contract. Yet, once the parties have finished their transactions off-chain, the final state is recorded in a new block on-chain. This way, the transactions can be done faster off-chain and secured permanently on-chain.
The smart contract design secures transactions within the state channel. It also acts as the ‘Judge’ between the participants. Smart contract designs vary.
The underlying state channel security mechanism requires all participants to sign off on each transaction. Each transaction bearing the participants, digital signatures overwrites the previous one, preventing one participant from altering the final state of transactions in the absence of their counterpart.
Some channels use a timer which updates or locks the on-chain state of the transactions automatically. Once the timer runs out, it automatically issues a close-out transaction and updates the main chain, closing the state channel based on the last verified transaction. Any new attempt to unlock the state channel creates new encryption and restarts the timer.
Examples of popular state channel projects
1. Celer Network
2. The Lighting Network
4. Raiden Network
2. What Is A Side Chain?
Sidechains are smaller blockchains that run parallel to the main blockchain or main chain. They act like branches of the main chain. During operation, they transfer assets to and from the main chain to reduce congestion and facilitate scalability. Carrying out your transactions on a side chain can significantly increase the blockchain’s TPS.
How side chains Work
Sidechains have a similar structure and operational mechanism to the blockchain (main chain). Unlike state channels, every transaction in a side chain is recorded and forms a new block. Yet, sidechain blocks can be verified faster because they need fewer verifications and distributed consent than the main chain.
The sidechain is linked to the main chain via a two-way peg that allows the transfer of assets between the two chains. Assets are transferred at a predetermined rate such that the blockchain is consistently updated of the state of transactions on the side chain.
Performing transactions on sidechains ease the computational burden and congestion of the main chain, allowing participants to carry out faster transactions. Sidechains are permanent and not limited to a set group of users. They also facilitate cryptocurrency interchangeability.
The blockchain’s main selling point is the security of your data. Yet, the security processes are time-consuming and costly. Increasing the speed of transactions often results in simplifying the main chain security processes.
A secure sidechain assures users of faster yet safer transactions by periodically securing or backing up its transactions on the main chain. This idea is the same behind the use of a two-way peg to consistently transfer assets between the primary and side chains.
Each sidechain is independent of the main chain meaning that it has its miners and dedicated computation power. If a sidechain’s security is compromised, it doesn’t affect the main chain’s protection and vice versa.
Some sidechains enlist federation groups to act as a go-between when transferring assets to and from the main chain. Although this adds a layer of security, it also increases the waiting period before a participant can actively perform transactions on the sidechain.
Examples of Popular Sidechain Solutions
2. Rootstock (RSK)
The energy industry is embracing blockchain technology as a unique way to record, track and manage transactions in the electricity market. The decentralization of electricity generation in Europe opened doors to a variety of challenges. The grid is now connected to multiple varied electricity producers, mini-grids and renewable energy resources.
Many of the technical electricity generation and distribution challenges are being addressed by the smart grid and other innovative solutions. Yet, the financial dynamics and accountability challenges are more intricate.
The blockchain provides a faster, more efficient and tamperproof way to track of electricity generation and consumption. This effectively increases the security, speed and accuracy of payments issued to the energy producer. This is especially valuable in markets where the electricity price varies with demand.
Using the blockchain second layer solutions to manage the financial side of alternative energy transactions can enhance smart grid dynamics. It can allow customers, mini-grids and utility-scale renewable energy projects to interact freely and in real-time. It can also accelerate the process of generating green certificates.
Recording production data on the blockchain can simplify the process of verification of electricity generation levels. It means that independent grid tie electricity producers such as rooftop solar, community solar and other projects can get paid faster and more accurately.
In September 2019, the Global Climate Change Strike saw about 7.6 million people in 185 countries take to the streets. People from all over the world joined forces to protest against prevailing climate injustices that continue to propagate global warming. More than half of the protesters were in Europe.
In 2015, the leaders of 196 countries came together in Paris to map practical steps to curb global warming. The result was the negotiation and formation of the Paris Agreement, designed to limit the increase of global temperatures to below 20Celcius.
The Paris Agreement was followed by the establishment of national plans and targets primarily to reduce CO2 emission levels. Yet, in the four years since the Paris Agreement was formed, CO2 emissions have continued to rise. At the current rate, 2019 will reach near-record high CO2 Emission levels.
What are CO2 Emissions and why are they a Problem?
The increased concentration of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere is what leads to global warming. These gases trap heat energy within the earth’s atmosphere and prevent solar radiation from escaping into space and thus increasing the earth’s temperature through a phenomenon known as the Greenhouse effect.
There are four gases in the atmosphere that are classified as Green House Gases. These are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Fluorinated Gases. Fluorinated gases include Ozone (O3), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) among others. Water vapour is also a potent GHG. However, we usually overlook water since the increased global temperatures lead to more vapour, rather than direct human activity.
GHGs have always been part of our atmosphere. However, their levels have been rising critically since the beginning of the industrial revolution. At lower concentrations, GHGs are useful for regulating the earth’s average temperature. Without GHGs, NASA estimates that the earth’s average temperature could drop to – 180C which would be a drastic shift from its current level of about 140C. A 32-degree drop in average temperatures would threaten the existence of life on earth.
Carbon Dioxide represents the lion’s share of GHGs. In 2015, the Center For Climate And Energy Solutions reported that CO2 represented 76% of the GHG in the Atmosphere. By 2017, Carbon Dioxide represented about 82% of the GHGs. This data shows that CO2 emissions are the most significant drivers of the greenhouse effect and global warming. As such, most of the policies aimed at controlling global warming are designed to reduce CO2 emissions.
How Are CO2 Emissions Generated
Traditionally, regular activities such as respiration, burning firewood and decay of organic matter were the primary producers of CO2. Trees and plants absorb and regulate CO2 levels naturally. The plants and trees retain the carbon in CO2 and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. As such, we refer to forests and large vegetated areas as carbon sinks.
Burning fossil fuels is the primary contributor to the generation of excessive amounts of CO2. Fossil fuels are made up of decayed compressed organic matter that has built up for thousands of years. This organic matter was trapped safely within the earth’s crust until humans discovered its energy potential. In an instant, burning fossil fuels releases carbon that has been accumulated over several centuries.
In the 1800s, people began burning fossil fuels to strengthen industrial developments. As the industrial revolution picked up speed, so did the rate of CO2 generated. The 1850s marked the first time that the CO2 levels did not revert to their previously balanced levels. This change was because humans began producing CO2 faster than it could be absorbed. Since then, global CO2 levels have continued to rise in response to the extensive use of Coal, Oil and Gas.
Global CO2 Ranking
Carbon dioxide emissions characteristically have a long lifetime. Once emitted, CO2 can continue absorbing heat in the atmosphere for more than 1,000 years. GHGs tend to diffuse in the atmosphere and are not concentrated above the regions where they were generated.
There are several ways to evaluate the regional impact of CO2 emissions on the climate. In this article, we will consider the following three methods to assess regional CO2 emissions
- Current CO2 emissions
- Per capita CO2 emissions
- Cumulative CO2 emissions
Current CO2 Emissions
In 2017, a total of 36.153 GtCO2 was generated in the world. Three top countries, China, USA and India, cause about 48% of these emissions. The list below shows the top five CO2 producers in 2017 and their emissions levels in Gigatonnes (Gt).
- China 9.839Gt
- USA 5.270Gt
- India 2.467Gt
- Russia 1.693Gt
- Japan 1.205Gt
China overtook the USA as the leading producer of CO2 emissions globally in 2006. The country has consistently generated more CO2 emissions than the USA and EU-28 combined since 2011. In 2017 the EU-28 countries collectively produced 3.544 GtCO2.
The bulk of China’s carbon emissions are because they use coal-fired power plants. The upsurge in China’s CO2 emission levels come as a result of the country’s rapid industrialization. It has taken about 35 years for China to rise from an agrarian to an industrial society.
From a Regional viewpoint, Asia generated about 46.7% of the global carbon emissions in 2017. North America came in second with 17.5% while Europe collectively produced 15.7%. The list below shows the top five regions according to the total CO2 emissions in 2017.
- Asia 16.918Gt
- North America 6.333Gt
- Europe 5.693Gt
- Middle East 2.672Gt
- Africa 1.332Gt
Per Capita CO2 Emission
Classifying the carbon emissions of a region based on political boundaries only tells one side of the story. A region’s CO2 emissions responsibility is better represented as a function of its population. That is dividing the total CO2 emissions by the population of the area to find the data per capita. This system of measurement shows the amount of CO2 emissions attributed to each individual.
Despite its high carbon emission levels, China’s rank is 52nd on the global rating with 7tCO2 per capita because China is home to close to 20% of the world’s population. Yet, each person in the EU-28 region collectively generates the same carbon emissions as in China with 7tCO2 per capita.
Holding the 11th position, the USA produces 16 tCO2 per capita. Of the top 3 CO2 producers, the USA has the highest CO2 levels per capita. The third highest producer of CO2 in 2017, India, is ranked 133rd with 1.8 tCO2 per capita.
The highest-ranked country under this system of classification is Qatar, with 49 tCO2 per capita. The second is Curacao, followed by Trinidad and Tobago. Below is a list of the top five CO2 producers per capita according to the 2017 global carbon atlas reports.
- Qatar 49t
- Curacao 39t
- Trinidad and Tobago 30t
- Kuwait 25t
- United Arab Emirates 25t
Cumulative CO2 Emissions
To get a clearer idea of each country’s actual contribution to global warming, it helps to look at the bigger picture. CO2 emissions continuously absorb energy for more than 1,000 years after being emitted in the atmosphere. With this in mind, CO2 emissions from as far back as 1,000 AD should still have an impact on our current climate.
In effect, it is worth evaluating countries based on their lifetime contribution of CO2 emissions. Gauging a country’s current emissions on the backdrop of their lifetime emissions can draw a clearer picture of its global warming responsibility.
Carbon emissions data can be evaluated back to 1750 when humans started burning fossil fuels. Historical CO2 emissions are estimated based on the fossil fuel production data of each region.
The data shows that the USA is the all-time leading contributor to CO2 emissions in the world with 397Gt. China is second, and the former Soviet Union is third. The list below shows the top five all-time CO2 generators in the world and their lifetime carbon emissions.
- USA 397.157Gt
- China 213.843Gt
- Former USSR 179.966Gt
- Germany 89.661Gt
- UK 77.761Gt
When assessing the regional impact of CO2 emissions, it is valuable to have a broad view. While CO2 emissions have a global impact, they are caused by regional and local actions.
The transport and energy sectors represent 29% and 28% of the carbon emissions generated in 20175. The industry was responsible for about 22%, while the commercial and residential areas generated 12%. The agricultural sector of the global economy generated only 9% of the 2017 carbon emissions.
Many countries are adopting the use of cleaner fuels, electric and hybrid vehicles, and more efficient transportation systems. These nations are well on their way to reducing their carbon emissions sustainably. Integration of renewable energy systems in power generation has also made a significant impact when reducing carbon emissions of leading developed countries such as the UK. However, there is a need to consider ramping up carbon-negative solutions if the countries will meet the Paris Agreement targets.
A careful look into the existence of Electric Vehicles portrays such a beautiful story. Even, a movie titled “Who Killed the Electric Car?” was made in 2005 to characterize the life of Electric Vehicles.
As a solution provider for renewable energy and smart energy management, this is our perspective to the story.
“IN THE BEGINNING” – A Little About The Past
Once upon a time, Electric Vehicles (EV) dominated the automobile market; in fact, they once outsold the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle in the United States. Unfortunately, due to some critical reasons explained below, the fossil fuel engine dominated most cars on the road.
In the early 1900s, the following events occurred that led to a tremendous decline in the use of EVs.
- There was an increase in the exploration of crude oil, which led to petrol being cheaper and more accessible. So it was more comfortable and affordable to operate a petrol engine vehicle.
- At a point in time, the petrol engine required a hand crank to start the engine. But after the invention of the electric starter in 1903, you could start an ICE without stress.
- The government constructed more roads. Hence, there was a need to cover more distance and the EVs at that time were limited by how far they could travel.
- There was a significant improvement in the production process of Ford motors that led to the boom of the ICE vehicles, thereby making them more affordable.
- Also, technological innovations led to vast improvements in the design of the Internal Combustion Engine.
- The invention of mufflers in 1879 reduced the unbearable noise produced by ICE.
All these led to a deep plunge in the use of electric vehicles all over the world. Even though the electric-powered engine was still adopted by other means of transportation (for example, the rail transport system), almost all the cars on our roads were running on fossil fuel.
How Did We Get To This Present State in The Adoption of EVs?
A few decades after the oblivion of electric vehicles, there was a spark in concern about the environmental impact of fossil fuels and fears that crude oil was depleting. This concern led to some research and development for alternative energy sources.
However, that scare wasn’t enough to drive the production of EVs around the world until about three decades ago. In the early 1990s, tighter environmental policies came into place. United State’s Clean Air Act Amendment, 1990, and the Energy Policy Act, 1992, gave rise to a renewed interest in electric vehicles by automobile manufacturers.
Within a couple of years, General Electric and Toyota responded with new models of hybrid electric vehicles that paved the way for other EVs by Tesla, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and many more.
By the end of 2018, the total number of EVs was estimated to exceed 5.1 million. If you compare this to the overall global estimate of over 1 billion vehicles, EVs are just less than 1%. This draws us to the conclusion that we have a long way to go in the fight for a sustainable environment.
What Then Does The Future Hold?
There’s been a lot of forecasts predicting the prospect of electric vehicles around the world. However, with the present statistics, it’s sufficient to say that if there’ll be any significant development, it’ll depend on our commitment to sustaining our environment and stricter government policies to encourage the adoption of more EVs.
If we judge from the performance of a few countries, there could be a glimpse of hope. But the remaining nations need to catch up to this movement of efficient transportation that is environmentally friendly.
How Promising is The Future For EVs?
Cost of Production
The currently-high cost of producing EVs is a significant factor that hinders it from having a global widespread. Today, owning an EV is luxurious. A typical one can cost well over $30,000. If only EVs can be made affordable for the middle class, there’ll be more of them on our roads.
Also, in the production of electric vehicles, the cost of manufacturing the batteries carry a significant percentage of the total cost. This has been a considerable challenge and has gained lots of attention in research and development. For instance, there’s the global quest for reducing the cost of producing lighter and bigger-capacity lithium batteries and, Toyota is working to have solid-state batteries in their EVs by 2020.
The future looks bright for EVs, as more vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and KIA are taking initiatives to produce electric cars that will be affordable and travel long-range. In addition, research shows that the cost of battery packs are expected to reduce significantly in the near future. This takes us to the second factor:
Government Incentives and Climate Policies
This is arguably the most prominent factor that encourages the adoption of EVs all over the world. Many countries need to be commended on their efforts in this regard, as they have set the pace in supporting the manufacturing, sales, and ownership of EVs according to their climate policies stipulated for a sustainable environment.
Countries like Norway, Switzerland, China, India, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, to mention a few, have situated incentives on EVs. They include tax reductions and exemptions, subsidies, bonus-malus, exception from road tax, parking fees and toll fees, the building of recharge points and many more. You can read the full details of Government incentives for most countries.
While there are still many inactive governments, in this regard, the countries with the current incentives need to improve their support. For instance, there could be incentives to support manufacturing companies by cutting down the cost incurred in the production EVs. Or there could be more investment in research and development. All these will facilitate a wider spread of EVs around the world.
As it stands, these two factors are most vital to seeing the diffusion of electric vehicles globally among several other factors.
It’s important to know that there are opposing arguments based on the facts that:
- Having more electric vehicles will lead to a massive increase in the demand for energy. This will directly impact the distribution utilities and cause more challenges in effectively managing a balanced grid.
- The process of manufacturing the batteries generates toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. As a result of this, humans, animals, plants, and other organisms are at a high risk of toxic exposure.
However, there are solutions/measures in place to address these issues. For instance, there are smart grid management systems that are designed to optimize the demand for energy from your electric car. It is called V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid), and it works by selling energy from your EV to the grid during peak hours and recharging your vehicle during the off-peak hours – since your car is usually parked more than 70% of the time. Also, there are enhanced safety measures put in place for our interaction with the lithium-ion batteries.
If the Earth Could Reward, These Five Countries will be Praised for Their Commitment to an Impactful CO2 Policy
To the crux of our discussion, here are five countries that have kept to the Paris Agreement, and even exceeded its expectations. This rank is according to the Climate Change Performance Index, CCPI.