Electrifying Transport in the West and elsewhere

In 2011, about 30,000 electric vehicles were on UK roads with a few hundreds of charging points scattered across England, Scotland and Wales. By January 2019, the number of electric vehicles on UK roads had reached 190,000 — a 600% increase compared to 2011 numbers. Correspondingly, the number of public charging points now number 19,039, an increase of 6000 in just one year according to the European Energy Centre. Simply put electric vehicles are a major phenomenon redefining the future of transport; creating enormous opportunities for researchers and experts to engage and steer its course. Proactive governments are fast preparing and adapting to the changes that accompany this shift; innovatively fashioning incentives to encourage the use of electric vehicles and in order to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector.

In the UK, as part of effort to curtail transport emissions, which according to National statistics figures accounted for the largest greenhouse emissions in 2017 and recorded the lowest percentage reduction — 2% compared to 2009 levels, the government established the office for low emission Vehicles (OLEV) to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV). The autonomous and electric vehicles act, which was passed into law in July 2018 ensures motorway services are upgraded with enough charging points and gives mayors the right to request for installations at large fuel retailers in their areas. Though regarded as unambitious at some quarters, the UK Government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, 10 years behind some European countries like Germany, Ireland and Denmark.

How’s Germany doing?

10 years ago, Of the 41million cars on German roads, only about 1452 of them were electric. As at December 2018, about 196,750 plug in cars had been registered in Germany since 2010. The government targets 1million electric cars on its roads by 2020. Though this target has been extended, it intends to inject $240 million into research on the batteries that power electric cars. Data from the German Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW) indicates that huge progress is being made on the rollout of charging infrastructure. According to it, a total of 7,407 publicly accessible charging points (3,206 charging stations) were available at the end of 2016 with nearly 900 new charging points added in the second half of 2016, an increase of more than 11%. To promote plug-in vehicle adaption, the government approved 1 billion euros in 2016 to run its plug-in electric vehicle incentive scheme.

What of Norway?

Norway, the world biggest per capita market for electric vehicles keeps pushing the boundaries through aggressive national and local incentives. These incentives dating from 1990 include purchase tax waiver on zero emission vehicles, toll-free roads HOV-lane access, free charging and free parking. The country plans to end the sale of new fossil powered vehicles by 2025 — six years from now! According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Norway’s share of electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids) stood at 39% as at 2017; ice land, the second-placed stood at 12% followed by Sweden at 6%. China recorded 2.2% while the USA stood at 1.2%.

Let's take a look at emerging markets

Across emerging markets, the story is heterogeneous. China, the world’s largest pollution emitter is on the path of making itself the leader in electric vehicle technology. According to a Bloomberg report, Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL), a southern China-based battery cell manufacturer plans to construct a battery cell plant second in size only to Tesla Inc’s Gigafactory in Nevada. This will see the production capacity increase fivefold — making it the world’s largest electric battery cell manufacturer, ahead of Tesla, Warren Buffet-backed BYD Co in China and South Korean’s LG Chem.

As of 2018, about 130.4GWh battery plant capacity plants were planned in China, 68% more than the 42.4G planned in the rest of the world. To take on China and other rivals from Asia, France and Germany are pooling efforts together to build battery cell production in Europe, a recent Blomberg publication revealed.

If China’s recent plan to build the first solar power station in space becomes a success, there certainly would be surplus clean power to support the charging stations across the country.

India is taking action

India, home to 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, aims to have 30% EVs on it roads by 2030, though many have described its EV policy as a sham due largely to its lack of clarity to incentivize local manufacturing and sales and lack of public charging infrastructure, it appears its EV goals will be realized on two wheels, not four. According to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), in fiscal 2017–18, sales of electric scooters more than doubled to 54,800 from a year ago while electric car sales fell to 1,200 from 2,000 over the same period. With India the world’s biggest market for scooters and motorcycles, with annual domestic sales in excess of 19million in 2018 — six times that of car sales over the same period, the potential is huge.

In the next piece, I will take a good look at the current state of EV and its prospects in Africa.

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Sustainability |Technology|Energy Transition

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John Igwebuike

John Igwebuike

Sustainability |Technology|Energy Transition

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