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   PoliticsRat's Nest - Chronicles of Collapse

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From: Wharf Rat2/23/2024 5:02:17 PM
   of 23954
Aerial photo captures visual proof of massive US high-speed rail project construction underway: ‘It was very cool to see’ (

High-speed rail is supposed to be coming to California, and an image recently shared to social media indicates that the promising initiative isn’t just a pipe dream.

In the subreddit r/trains, a Redditor posted a screenshot of a Google Earth map in which the high-speed rail row was visible.

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From: Wharf Rat2/25/2024 1:29:18 PM
1 Recommendation   of 23954
No, electric vehicle sales aren’t dropping. Here’s what’s really going on (

Story by By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN • 3h

Tesla has been slashing prices. Ford just cut the price of its Mustang Mach-E, too, plus it cut back production of its electric pickup. And General Motors is thinking about bringing back plug-in hybrids, possibly taking a step back from GM’s earlier commitment to shifting straight to pure EVs.

And now the EPA is considering slowing down requirements for automakers to sell more electric vehicles, dialing back what had been aggressive plans to move away from gas powered cars and SUVs.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the American market for EVs is collapsing. But in the last quarter of 2023, EV sales were up 40% from the same quarter a year before, according to Cox Automotive. In fact, EV sales in the United States hit a record last year, topping 1 million for the first time.

Still there is still a troubling gap between expectations and reality. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, for instance, projected sales of 1.7 million plug-in vehicles in 2023, but only 1.46 million ultimately sold. (BNEF’s figures include plug-in hybrids, but the large majority are fully electric vehicles.) The trend line isn’t slanting upward as sharply as many had predicted so the industry is lowering future estimates.

Industry experts cite a number of reasons for this, including vehicle price, lack of charging capacity and confusing tax credit rules.

High pricesMost electric vehicles currently on sale in America are on the more expensive side of the automotive market.

“Between $50,000 and $60,000 now we get Kia and we get Cadillac,” said Tyson Jominy, an industry analyst with J.D. Power, referring to the Kia EV9 and Cadillac Lyriq electric vehicles. “Those two don’t normally face each other.”

Besides being too expensive for the average buyer, selection is limited in terms of body style, said Corey Cantor, an industry analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The vast majority are relatively expensive SUVs, and there are few sedans or compact cars for customers who want something different.

The target customer is also changing as selling more EVs means reaching outside a core of knowledgable EV enthusiasts.

“As the COVID shock retreated, we learned that as you scale EVs to 5,000, to 7,000 units a month and you move into the early majority customer, they are not willing to pay a significant premium for EVs,” Ford chief executive Jim Farley. “This is a huge moment for us.”

This is why Ford recently cut prices for the Mach-E SUV and why Farley created a team to work on a less expensive EV engineering platform that will be the basis for future models.

Charging neededThen there’s the continued lack of public charging. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, estimates that the US will need 182,000 fast chargers for electric vehicles by 2030. There are currently fewer than 40,000, according to the DOE, with about a quarter of those in California.

Besides raw numbers, the EV chargers that are currently available tend t o rate low with consumers in terms of reliability, according to J.D.. Power surveys.

The two issues of vehicle price and public charging are related, Jominy said. People who can afford to buy luxury-priced vehicles are also more likely to have a home in the suburbs with a garage where they can charge their car overnight. Public chargers are more important to people who can afford neither an expensive vehicle nor a house with private parking.

Automakers are finally taking major steps to do something about that, tapping into newly available federal funds, plus their own money, to install more chargers.

BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis have come together to create a joint venture that plans to install about 30,000 chargers across the United States and Canada.

Also, to make things simpler for drivers, every major automaker in the US has agreed to switch over to the same charging standard used by Tesla, still the largest seller of EVs. That means that, in a few years, almost all EVs sold in America will have the same type of charging port and use the same type of charger.

There’s a long way to go, said Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis, the company that makes Jeep and Dodge vehicles. In the words of the Portuguese auto executive, who spoke to journalists in New York recently, public EV charging needs to “jump on your face” before most customers will consider an electric vehicle.

“It means when you go to the mall, when you go to the supermarket, when you go to the restaurant, when you go to gym, when you park your car, you have charging units waiting for you,” he said. “You don’t have to look for them.”

EV chargers in the US are nowhere near that level, yet but things will improve, said Valdez Streaty.

“I think, in the next couple of years, we’re going to start to see exponential growth of charging,” she said, “and hopefully, with that comes reliability, because that’s the other big aspect of it.”

Credit confusionMany substantial tax credits are available to help offset the cost of purchasing electric vehicles, but the rules are complex. Some come with restrictions on where the vehicle is built, where the battery pack and its parts are from, the price of the vehicle, and the household income of the buyer.

More models are becoming eligible as automakers go through the complex application process. Also, starting this year, customers can claim the tax credit as a rebate at the time of purchase rather than waiting until they file their taxes.

Leasing also provides a way for more consumers to get tax credits. Because of the way tax laws are written, leased vehicles are exempt from most restrictions on federal tax credits, so many automakers offer the tax credit as a lease incentive.

“We’re going to see leasing take off and that’s because of the loophole,” said Valdez Streaty, “but also because consumers are not sure if they want to buy, or if they’re ready to buy, electric.”

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From: Wharf Rat2/25/2024 1:43:18 PM
1 Recommendation   of 23954
Sheep may soon graze under solar panels in one of Wyoming’s first ‘agrivoltaic’ projects (
Story by Jake Bolster, Inside Climate News • 4h

This story was originally published by Inside Climate News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Converse County is one of the most welcoming areas in Wyoming when it comes to clean energy. For roughly every 20 residents, there is one wind turbine, the highest ratio in the state. At a recent County Commissioners meeting, it took another step in diversifying its energy infrastructure, signaling its intent to issue its first solar farm permit to BrightNight.

The global energy company has proposed to build more than 1 million solar panels, a battery storage facility and a few miles of above-ground transmission lines on a 4,738 acres of private land run by the Tillard ranching family near Glenrock. The Dutchman Project, as it is called, is notable neither for its generation nor its storage capacity but for the creatures moseying beneath its panels.

The base of each sun-tracking panel will be several feet off the ground, allowing enough room for the Tillard’s sheep to continue grazing. In a state whose ranching industry predates its inclusion in the union, pairing solar generation with livestock grazing or other agricultural practices, a technique called “agrivoltaics,” could forge an unlikely alliance between two industries — one ancient; the other, high tech — that typically compete for resources.

At the conclusion of their February 6 hearing regarding the Dutchman project, Converse County Commissioners directed the county attorney to draft an order of approval, indicating they would likely grant the project its permit later this month.

“BrightNight is proud to reach today’s permitting milestone. Our project is ideally-sited to deliver valuable capacity to a growing region preparing for significant generation retirements,” said Maribeth Sawchuk, the company’s vice president of communications, in a statement to Inside Climate News. The company is focused on “utility-scale renewable power solutions while also raising the industry standard for community engagement and support.”

The Tillard family could not be reached for comment.

Inside Climate News© Provided by Grist

Jim Willox, chairman of the board of Converse County Commissioners and one of the people responsible for reviewing BrightNight’s permit application, remembered being excited to see the company proposing to use an agrivoltaic approach to building solar.

“I think the solar industry has learned that they don’t have to be just bare ground underneath,” he said. “I find that very exciting and a continuation of Wyoming’s view on multiple use.”

Willox has been a Converse County Commissioner for the last 18 years, during which he’s witnessed the rise, fall, and rise again of fossil fuels in the county. When he first started his job, coal production was a huge economic asset to the county. Now, “it’s zero,” he said.

While fossil fuels still play an important role in the county’s economy, and Converse County still takes an “all of these above” approach to energy development, “we also really believe renewables are part of the energy portfolio for the country and generally are welcoming to them,” Willox said.

Economically, Willox viewed the solar farm as a good source of tax revenue for the county. “You’ll have sales tax that will be collected during construction, then there will be a property tax value increase,” money from BrightNight that can be used for schools, hospitals, and other public resources in the county, he said.

Still, renewables — much like oil, gas, and coal — are not without “some challenges and some concerns,” Willox said.

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A few partnerships between farmers and scientists have shown that some crops react poorly to living under the penumbra of a solar farm. Shade from the panels can sometimes trap too much water near the plants, and the presence of large photovoltaics can make it difficult for farmers to conduct their harvest.

At the public briefing held in Douglas, Wyoming, on Tuesday, county residents gathered in a courthouse basement to hear presentations from BrightNight executives regarding the Dutchman solar farm’s permit application. Afterwards, some county residents voiced concerns regarding the solar farm’s access to transmission lines, its impact on prairie dog migration patterns and the effects of radiation on residents.

BrightNight must wait for its county and state permits before determining its grid access, said Jess Melin, BrightNight’s executive vice president of development. As with other nearby energy projects going through the permitting and contracting phases, Melin said once BrightNight has “a permit and a power contract, that’s the point when they say ‘OK, let’s actually sit down at the table and negotiate queue position,’” for delivering energy to the grid.

Brandon Pollpeter, BrightNight’s director of development, called prairie dog migration a “difficult thing to manage,” and said the company would coordinate with the Wyoming Game and Fish department to consider best practices for responding to the rodents. He added that any high-voltage equipment, which produces a small amount of electromagnetic waves, has been sited far from the community, and would not be a factor to county residents.

“This county is very knowledgeable on energy and energy generation,” said Pollpeter. “We’ve gotten some outstanding feedback.” Pollpeter added that BrightNight increased the project setback and moved its construction entrance in response to local concerns.

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As states slash rooftop solar incentives, Puerto Rico extends them

Gabriela Aoun Angueira

There is evidence that agrivoltaic solar farms are just as effective grazing areas as traditional open pastures, and that combining grazing with solar generation increases land productivity by offering crops respite from the sun in hot, arid environments.

In the spring of 2019 and 2020, Chad Higgins and a team of other researchers from Oregon State University tracked sheep grazing at an agrivoltaic solar farm in Oregon, measuring the animals’ growth, grazing habits and water consumption. They split two groups of sheep on the same land; one that grazed near the solar panels, and another browsing on open pastures. What they found led them to conclude that agrivoltaic solar farms can be an ideal setup for sheep ranchers.

“In the early spring grazing time, which is when the most intense grazing is and the most growth is, we could put more sheep on the agrivoltaic array than on the open pasture, and the sheep grew at the same rates,” said Higgins, an associate professor in Oregon State University’s department of biological and ecological engineering. “There was overall more production in that intense grazing period because of the solar panels.”

The reason why has to do with shade. “You can reduce heat stress to plants by watering them more or shading them some,” Higgins said. “If you shade them some — which is what you’re going to do, for example, in a Wyoming project that’s on non-irrigated lands — you’re going to reduce some of that heat stress on those plants. Those plants tend to grow a little more, and as they grow a little more, the sheep take advantage of them.”

The study found that, while the sheep grazing near the solar panels experienced a 38 percent drop in the quantity of grazable vegetation, that was offset by an increase in the available plants’ quality, as measured by the nutritional makeup of the vegetation’s tissue. Despite having access to less vegetation, the sheep grazing near solar panels “were gaining weight at their maximum rate,” and reached similar peak weights to sheep on the open field, Higgins said. “We actually had to fence the sheep in the open field to keep them in the open field, because, given the choice, they all preferred to be in the solar.”

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Jennifer Oldham, Capital and Main

Agrivoltaic solar farms, while suitable for sheep, are more difficult to tailor to cattle, Wyoming’s most common livestock. The state is home to 1.2 million cattle, which are burlier and heavier than sheep. Cows “just beat up equipment by rubbing up against it,” Pollpeter said. The solar industry “is taking a tough look to try and see how that starts to make sense. But, at least in my personal opinion, we’re not quite there yet.”

Among Wyoming’s sheep ranchers, there may be a budding interest in agrivoltaics. “If there are opportunities to make the two work together that provide sheep producers expanded revenue and better financial stability, that’s the type of thing we look for,” said Jim Magagna, a longtime sheep rancher and executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the state’s most powerful livestock advocacy organization.

Given the variation in soil, grazing plants, sunlight, moisture, and terrain across Wyoming, Magagna stopped short of endorsing agrivoltaics as the de facto approach to solar farms moving forward. “I think it needs to be a carefully considered decision by the landowner,” he said.

Magagna wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an agrivoltaic solar farm cropping up on public land in the future, a process that would involve years of planning and environmental assessments by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, as well as stakeholder input. But given the fact that a majority of public lands in Wyoming are grazed by cattle, “I think the opportunity to do that on public land on a very significant scale would not be there today,” he said.

In January, the BLM released an environmental impact statement regarding utility-scale solar farms in 11 Western states, including Wyoming, as it considers whether or not to amend its approach to solar farms in the region. The agency acknowledged agrivolatics as an “emerging [photovoltaic] system” that could gain commercial traction in the future.

Converse County Commissioners expect to finalize their support for the Dutchman project permit during a February 20th vote. The company still needs to secure a permit from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, whose Industrial Siting Council is already considering the company’s application. Should the state issue it a permit, BrightNight expects to break ground on the Dutchman solar farm as early as March of next year.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Sheep may soon graze under solar panels in one of Wyoming’s first ‘agrivoltaic’ projects on Feb 25, 2024.

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (23843)2/26/2024 9:11:45 AM
From: Eric
   of 23954

Credit: American Association of Manufacturers

AAM Calls Cheap Chinese EVs Built In Mexico “An Extinction Level Event”

13 hours ago

Steve Hanley 64 Comments

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The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership formed in 2007 by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. Its mission is to strengthen American manufacturing and create new private sector jobs through smart public policies. It believes an innovative and growing manufacturing base is vital to America’s economic and national security, as well as providing good jobs for future generations. It also believes EVs built in Mexico by Chinese companies could be a threat to America’s economic security.

On February 20, 2024, it issued a report warning that cheap Chinese electric cars manufactured in Mexico could be the death knell for US automakers. That report warns about “China’s Existential Threat To America’s Auto Industry And Its Route Through Mexico.” The focus of the report has been turbocharged by reports that BYD is scouting locations for a new factory in Mexico.

China, Mexico, & USMCA

The problem, of course, is that Mexico is an integral part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that became effective on July 1, 2020, replacing the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). By virtue of that agreement, products manufactured in Mexico can enter the United States without paying import taxes or duties. The basic idea is Mexico, the United States, and Canada are all one big happy family where everyone works together collaboratively to create good jobs for all. That’s the theory. The reality is rather more nuanced.

Picture this. Electric cars built in Mexico will be eligible — if they meet all the requirements on battery materials and component sourcing — for the full $7500 federal tax credit/rebate. How is that going to play in Peoria? “The introduction of cheap Chinese autos — which are so inexpensive because they are backed with the power and funding of the Chinese government — to the American market could end up being an extinction-level event for the U.S. auto sector,” the AAM report warns.

The AAM argues the United States should work to prevent automobiles and parts manufactured in Mexico by companies headquartered in China from benefiting from the USMCA. “The commercial back door left open to Chinese auto imports should be shut before it causes mass plant closures and job losses in the United States,” it says.

BYD Is Disrupting The Disruptors

BYD is the cause of most of this angst. It sells the Qin Pluis plug-in hybrid in China for just $14,000. Is it a car Americans would buy? Maybe, maybe not, but the idea that a company can produce an actual car so cheaply and sell it at a profit (we presume) scares the bejezus out of American car companies. Even Elon Musk is worried and he knows a thing or two about what it costs to build cars in China.

BYD is really just the tip of the spear. Once it sets up shop in Mexico, other Chinese electric car companies like Nio and Xpend and Zeekr are sure to follow. So the US is on the horns of a dilemma largely of its own making. When USMCA was finalized less than 4 years ago, no one could imagine Chinese made cars might one day be manufactured in Mexico. But the market has changed dramatically in less than four years.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Washington told Reuters that China’s automobile exports “reflect the high-quality development and strong innovation of China’s manufacturing industry. The leapfrog development of China’s auto industry has provided cost-effective products with high quality to the world.”

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

The US has always been a strong advocate for forcing other companies to open their markets (viz, China). Now the shoe is on the other foot, which must be a bit disconcerting to the free traders who thought the benefits of globalization would always favor America over all other nations. What no one anticipated was how the Chinese central government would create special areas of interest in electronics, batteries, and automobile manufacturing that would give China a huge advantage in those industries. But now the servant has become the master. It is like the limerick by William Monkhouse:

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Members of Congress from both parties are beating the drum for special levies that would apply to vehicles made by Chinese owned companies who manufacture them in Mexico. How that could possibly square with the various free trade agreements the US has entered into and the rules of the World Trade Organization is not mentioned. What isn’t being said is that Ford, GM, Mercedes, and others all build cars in Mexico for sale in the US. How can you penalize corporations from one country and not others? That’s the nub of the problem.

Those members of Congress are urging US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to boost the 27.5% tariff on Chinese vehicles and said her office “must also be prepared to address the coming wave of (Chinese) vehicles that will be exported from our other trading partners, such as Mexico, as (Chinese) automakers look to strategically establish operations outside of (China).”

The Takeaway

There is more than a little irony to all this huffing and puffing about an “existential crisis.” The real existential crisis is global heating caused in part by the tailpipe emissions from conventional cars that traditional automakers manufacture by the millions. From one perspective, affordable electric cars from Chinese-owned companies would help reduce carbon emissions in America and Europe. How odd that people can see one existential crisis but not another.

Europe is just as concerned about a flood of Chinese cars damaging its car makers as is the US. BYD has just sent 5000 EVs to Europe on its own ocean-going car transporter. The auto industry supports millions of people who either help make vehicles or the parts that go into them. Many more are employed in the sale, financing, insuring, repairing and distribution of them. If the car companies were to suffer a devastating loss of business, the impact on all those direct and indirect jobs would be enormous.

An old adage says, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” Many wish for affordable electric cars. The Chinese seem set to deliver them. Not that BYD cars made in Mexico will be priced the same as they are in China. Mexican labor rates may be lower than than the US, but they are still higher higher than they are in China. That $14,000 Qin Plus PHEV in China might cost $28,000 in a US showroom. So the threat may not be quite as dire as people are saying.

This is a thorny thicket. No one wants to see American or European jobs in the auto sector lost, but how to manage the challenge of low cost electric cars from Chinese companies is a question with no easy answer. Knee-jerk protectionism doesn’t seem like the ideal answer, but what is? Please share your thoughts with the CleanTechnica community in the comments section.

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To: Eric who wrote (23845)2/26/2024 1:09:39 PM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 23954
"The Takeaway"

Trump helps China.

Trump signs USMCA, revamping North American trade rules

The Washington Post

Jan 29, 2020 — President Trump signed a revamped trade agreement with Canada and Mexico into law Wednesday, fulfilling his pledge to rework the North ...

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (23846)2/26/2024 1:25:51 PM
From: Eric
   of 23954
Oh the irony!

Trump opened up the back door...

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From: Wharf Rat2/26/2024 4:46:23 PM
   of 23954
Company gives retired wind turbine blades new life » Yale Climate Connections

Turbine blades are made of a composite material that can be tricky to recycle, but a company called Carbon Rivers has found a way.


(Photo credit: Lars Plougmann / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

A wind turbine usually lasts 20 years or more. But at the end of its life, its giant blades often end up in a landfill.

That’s because many turbine blades are built out of a composite material made of glass fibers mixed with a hardened resin or other polymer.

Recycling this composite material is difficult. But a company called Carbon Rivers has found a way to give this material a new life.

Morgan: “We know how to do this with paper, we know how to do this with metal, and we know how to do this with plastic. Now we’re doing this with composite.”

That’s David Morgan of Carbon Rivers.

The company shreds each turbine blade and runs the pieces through an oxygen-free reactor to separate the polymer from the glass fibers.

Those fibers can then be recovered and reused.

Morgan: “We take that material, recover it, and have the capability to put it into a brand-new blade.”

The process also recovers oil and a gas that can be used for energy.

Last year, the company recycled about 1,000 blades, and Morgan expects that number to grow rapidly in the coming years.

As the world races to fight climate change, wind turbines are replacing more and more fossil fuel power plants.

So finding ways to recycle used blades at the end of their lifetime will be critical in coming decades.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman / ChavoBart Digital Media

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (23846)2/27/2024 2:04:33 PM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 23954
Chinese EVs Have Detroit in the Crosshairs, and by the Shorthairs – This is Not Cool (

Surprisingly entertaining and informative conversation above.
Another sad reminder that US Auto makers had a 30 year lead on the world in producing sustainable cars – and deliberately walked away from it.
Out of greed, they betrayed their country, their workers, the taxpayers who bailed them out, and their own children’s future.

Robinson Meyer in the New York Times:

It happened very quickly — so fast that you might not have noticed it. Over the past few months, America’s Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the oddly named company that owns Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep — landed in big trouble.

I realize this may sound silly. Ford, General Motors and Stellantis made billions in profit last year, even after a lengthy strike by autoworkers, and all three companies are forecasting a big 2024. But recently, the Big Three found themselves outmaneuvered and missing their goals for electric vehicle sales at the same time that a crop of new affordable, electrified foreign cars appeared, ready to flood the global market.

About a decade ago, America bailed out the Big Three and swore it wouldn’t do it again. But the federal government is going to have to help the Big Three — and the rest of the U.S. car market — again very soon. And it has to do it in the right way — now — to avoid the next auto bailout.

The biggest threat to the Big Three comes from a new crop of Chinese automakers, especially BYD, which specialize in producing plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles. BYD’s growth is astounding: It sold three million electrified vehicles last year, more than any other company, and it now has enough production capacity in China to manufacture four million cars a year. But that isn’t enough: It’s building new factories in Brazil, Thailand, Hungary and Uzbekistan, which will produce even more cars, and it may soon add Indonesia and Mexico to that list. A deluge of electric vehicles is coming.

BYD’s cars deliver great value at prices that beat anything coming out of the West. Earlier this month, BYD unveiled a plug-in hybrid that gets decent all-electric range and will retail for just over $11,000. How can it do that? Like other Chinese manufacturers, BYD benefits from its home country’s lower labor costs, but this explains only some of its success. The fact is that BYD — and Chinese automakers like Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and Polestar brands — are very good at making cars. They have leveraged China’s dominance of the battery industry and automated production lines to create a juggernaut.

The Chinese automakers, especially BYD, represent something new in the world. They signal that China’s decades-long accretion of economic complexity is almost complete: Whereas the country once made toys and clothes, and then made electronics and batteries, now it makes cars and airplanes. What’s more, BYD and other Chinese automakers are becoming virtually global car companies, capable of manufacturing electric cars that can compete directly with gas-burning cars on cost.

That is, on the surface, a good thing. Electric cars need to get cheaper and more abundant if we are to have any hope of meeting our global climate goals. But it poses some immediate and thorny problems for American policymakers. After BYD announced its $11,000 plug-in hybrid, it posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that “the price will make [gasoline] car assemblers tremble.” The problem is many of those gasoline carmakers are American.

Ford and GM plotted an ambitious E.V. transition three years ago. But it didn’t take long for them to stumble. Last year, Ford lost more than $64,000 on every E.V. that it sold. Since October, it has delayed the opening of one of its new E.V. battery plants, while GM has fumbled the start of its new Ultium battery platform, which is meant to be the foundation for all of its future electric vehicles. Ford and GM have notched some wins here — the Mustang Mach-E and Chevrolet Bolt are modest hits — but they aren’t competing at the level of Tesla or Hyundai — companies that operate factories in less union-friendly states in the Sun Belt.

Jim Farley, Ford’s chief executive, recently disclosed that the company had a secret development team building a cheap, affordable electric car to compete with Tesla and BYD. But producing electric vehicles profitably is an organizational skill, and like any skill, it takes time, effort and money to develop. Even if Ford and GM now bust out innovative new designs, they will lag behind their competition at executing them well.


Ford CEO Jim Farley is worried about competition from China’s electric vehicle makers. Chief among the threats is BYD—backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway—which can produce vehicles at significantly lower costs than industry norms, partly because it owns the entire supply chain for its batteries, which account for roughly 40% of a new EV’s price.

That kind of advantage is hard to beat, and it has Ford evaluating its battery strategy. On Thursday, Farley shared thoughts on how to address the challenge from China, suggesting some cooperation among rivals may be merited on battery production.

“We can start having a competitive battery situation,” Farley told attendees at an auto conference hosted by Wolfe Research on Thursday in New York, as reportedby Reuters. “We can go to common cylindrical cells that could add a lot of leverage to our purchasing capability. Maybe we should do [this] with another OEM [automaker].”

He might well find receptive partners among his rivals—he’s not the only carmaker boss worried about BYD’s price prowess, after all.

“No one can match BYD on price. Period,” Michael Dunne, CEO of Asia-focused car consultancy Dunne Insights, told the Financial Times last month. “Boardrooms in America, Europe, Korea, and Japan are in a state of shock.”

Earlier this month, Farley told investors that Ford had “made a bet in silence two years ago” on a secret “skunkworks” team dedicated to creating a low-cost EV platform.

“It was a small group, small team, some of the best EV engineers in the world,” he said, “and it was separate from the Ford mothership. It was a startup.”

Leading that team—based in Irvine, California— is Alan Clarke, an EV engineer who spent a dozen years at Tesla before Ford hired him in 2022 as its executive director of advanced EV development. Members include engineers ??from Los Angeles–based Auto Motive Power (AMP), an energy management venture Ford acquired last year.

There’s never been any question about who Farley sees as the main competitive threat in the EV space. Speaking at a Morgan Stanley event last May, he said, “I think we see the Chinese as the main competitor, not GM or Toyota. The Chinese are going to be the powerhouse.”

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From: Wharf Rat2/27/2024 2:31:27 PM
   of 23954

Putin bans petrol exports as Russia runs on fumes (

The Kremlin has announced a six-month ban on petrol exports after Ukrainian attacks on Russian refineries left Vladimir Putin’s regime scrambling to meet domestic demand.

The ban, which comes into force on March 1, was confirmed by a spokesman for deputy prime minister Alexander Novak who said it would allow for “planned maintenance” of refineries.

It follows attacks on Russian facilities by Ukrainian drones in recent months, which have harmed the country’s ability to refine crude oil into usable products such as petrol and diesel.

Russia previously imposed a similar ban between September and November last year in order to tackle high domestic prices and shortages.

Then, only four ex-Soviet states – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – were exempt. This time, more Russian neighbours will be exempt, including Mongolia, Uzbekistan and two Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia: South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Oil, oil products and gas are by far Russia’s biggest export and provide a major source of income for the Kremlin’s war economy.
Putin has been working with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, to keep prices high as part of the broader Opec+ group, which includes the Opec cartel of oil producing nations and its key allies.

Russia is already voluntarily cutting its oil and fuel exports by 500,000 barrels per day in the first quarter as part of Opec+ efforts to support prices.

The top petrol producers in Russia last year were Gazprom Neft’s Omsk refinery, Lukoil’s NORSI oil refinery in Nizhny Novgorod and Rosneft’s Ryazan refinery.

Russia produced 43.9m tonnes of petrol in 2023 and exported about 5.8m tonnes, or around 13pc of its production.

The biggest importers of Russian gasoline are mainly African countries, including Nigeria, Libya and Tunisia.

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From: Wharf Rat2/29/2024 6:56:55 PM
   of 23954
Zero carbon dioxide emissions: Successful production of ammonia-based clean hydrogen (

Story by Science X staff

Basic principles of ammonia-based carbon-free hydrogen production technology (above). Credit: KOREA INSTITUTE OF ENERGY RESEARCH (KIER)© Provided by Tech Xplore

Dr. Jung Unho's research team at the Hydrogen Research Department of the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) has developed Korea's first clean hydrogen production technology. This technology is based on ammonia decomposition and does not use fossil fuels.

The team's breakthrough could pave the way for a more sustainable and eco-friendly energy source. This allows for the production of high-purity hydrogen that meets international standards for hydrogen-powered vehicles without the carbon dioxide emissions produced by using fossil fuels.


Ammonia, a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen, has a hydrogen storage density 1.7 times higher than that of liquefied hydrogen, and it is gaining attention as the most cost-effective method for transporting hydrogen. In particular, as it has been used in various fields, such as fertilizer, for over 100 years, it is equipped with infrastructure, handling, and safety standards. It is considered the most practical solution to address hydrogen storage and transportation challenges.

1st Carbon-free Ammonia Decomposition Reactor. Credit: KOREA INSTITUTE OF ENERGY RESEARCH (KIER)© Provided by Tech Xplore

Ammonia consists only of hydrogen and nitrogen, so no carbon is emitted when the hydrogen is separated. The decomposition process requires a supply of heat energy of over 600?, and currently, fossil fuels are used, resulting in the emission of carbon dioxide. Therefore, to produce clean hydrogen, a carbon-free energy source must be used, even in the process of decomposing ammonia.

By utilizing the small quantities of hydrogen and ammonia left over from the decomposition reaction, the researchers were able to produce hydrogen without the use of fossil fuels.

To generate pure hydrogen from ammonia, the decomposition of ammonia is carried out at a temperature above 600? using a ruthenium (Ru) catalyst, followed by the purification of hydrogen through pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology.

While carrying out this method, a residual gas mixture of nitrogen and hydrogen is formed and repurposed as a heating element for the ammonia decomposition reactor. Despite this, the residual gas alone does not offer sufficient heat of reaction, therefore extra heat must be added.

In the case of existing technology, insufficient heat of reaction are supplemented with fossil fuels such as natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), so carbon dioxide is emitted during combustion. However, using the system developed this time, by supplying ammonia instead of fossil fuels, heat of reaction can be supplied and carbon dioxide emissions can be blocked at the source.

Using the developed system, high-purity hydrogen of more than 99.97%, which can be supplied to fuel cells for hydrogen electric vehicles, is produced at 5Nm3 (approximately 0.45kg) per hour. In addition, the hydrogen produced has an impurity concentration of less than 300 ppm for nitrogen and less than 0.1 ppm for ammonia. It met ISO 14687, the international standard for hydrogen-fueled electric vehicles.

The research team has reached a significant milestone by demonstrating a 1kW fuel cell system for buildings that generates electricity without emitting carbon dioxide, using hydrogen extracted from ammonia.

This demonstration, conducted in collaboration with Doosan Fuel Cell Power BU (Business Unit), is of great importance as it overcomes the issue of carbon dioxide emissions, which has been considered a disadvantage of natural gas (LNG) based fuel cell systems. It shows the potential to generate power using clean hydrogen fuel cells.

According to lead researcher Dr. Jung Unho, the newly developed technology holds great significance as it allows for carbon-free hydrogen production using ammonia, filling a previous gap in this area.

There is an expectation that it will find practicality in diverse areas that use clean hydrogen. In his remarks, he went on to say, "The combining of ammonia and fuel cells presents a viable option for powering eco-ships. And as we scale up, we can also make a significant impact in the clean hydrogen power sector."

Provided by National Research Council of Science and Technology

This story was originally published on Tech Xplore.

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