Advanced Energy Perspectives

NEWS: EV Drivetrains and Blockchain are Changing the Game

Posted by Lexie Briggs

May 26, 2017 12:35:09 PM


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This week in the news, we have everything from more affordable electric vehicles driving demand to major investments in wind and solar, as well as a new solar+storage pipeline and blockchain technology changing the game once again. Just an average week in the world of advanced energy.

The LA Times reported last week that the release of the Chevy Bolt, an EV with a baseline price under $30,000 after federal tax credits, has boosted EV sales in California by 91% over last year. In the first quarter of 2017, Chevy sold 2,735 Bolt EVs in the Golden State.

Despite nearly doubling sales, the number of units sold is still relatively low, accounting for less than 3% of the total number of vehicles sold in California in Q1. While the state is actively implementing its ambitious Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate and is hoping to reach Gov. Brown’s goal of 15% ZEVs on the road by 2025, the market has a way to go. To that end, AEE is co-sponsoring AB 1184, a bill authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, which would create the California Electric Vehicle Initiative (CEVI). Read more about the bill, and our sponsorship, here.

California is leading the nation in EV sales, but EV sales worldwide are growing, thanks to falling prices for EVs. The Telegraph reported this week on an analysis by the “evidence lab” of investment bank UBS, which claimed the cost of owning an EV will be the same as owning a gasoline-powered vehicle by next year, creating an “inflexion point for demand.”

“We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by ~50% to 14.2m – 14% of global car sales,” the analysts stated. They also called EVs “the most disruptive category since the Model T Ford.”

Reporting on the same analysis, CleanTechnica discussed how the investment bank came to that conclusion: by deconstructing a Bolt and figuring out the cost of production. The drivetrain was found to be $4,600 cheaper than originally thought, but the team found additional potential for cost reduction.

From drivetrain to blockchain! In another example of major traditional energy companies investing in advanced energy technology, Greentech Media reports on Shell, Statoil, Tepco, and several others joining the Energy Web Foundation. The Energy Web Foundation is a collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Institute and Grid Singularity to accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain in the energy sector.

The oil companies are not the first of the Fortune 100 companies to make investments in blockchain for energy. AEE member Siemens and LO3 Energy have been collaborating on a small-scale Brooklyn microgrid backed by blockchain technology for nearly a year. The Energy Web Foundation has bigger plans than producing “small batch and local” energy for neighbors to share.

“We have a strong hypothesis that blockchain will solve a lot of long-running problems in the energy sector,” said Jesse Morris, principal for electricity and transportation practices at RMI. “Overcoming these challenges could make small, incremental changes to energy infrastructure and markets in the near term, while others would be more far-reaching and disruptive."

Blockchain’s secure certificates of origin could underpin a larger-scale energy tracking system, allowing consumers to know with certainty that the energy they’re consuming was generated from renewable sources. The United States has 10 different tracking systems, according to Morris, and there are many more worldwide. As Mike Stone writes in Greentech Media, “Blockchain could be used to transparently guarantee the origin of the electrons.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported this week that GE Energy Financial Services, will invest $3 billion this year with at least half dedicated to renewable energy projects. Most of GE Energy Financial’s investments this year will be in North American projects. Many of those projects will be repowering existing onshore wind farms with updated turbines, according to GE Energy Financial’s CEO David Nason. GE is a member of AEE’s Leadership Council.

Another AEE member, 8minutenergy, announced this week that it is expanding into energy storage in a big way – 1 GW big! Utility Dive reports that the company, which is already developing more than 5 GW of solar in utility-scale projects in North America, has 1 GW in storage projects planned, working with manufacturers to offer a variety of storage technologies, including lithium-ion batteries, flywheels, and more. The company is targeting areas with high solar penetration, especially in the southwest.

8minutenergy and GE are just two of the sponsors of this year’s Pathway to 2050, California’s premier policy and industry event hosted by AEE. It will be held on June 21 in Sacramento, CA. Click below to see the agenda and register!

Register to Attend Pathway to 2050

Topics: News Update


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