Mark Jacobson in his book Renewable energy and storage for everything developed a plan to convert virtually all energy use in the world from fossil fuels to electricity. It includes things like steel and concrete production, high-speed long-distance air travel that most people didn’t think about until he did his research and laid out a plan in his articles.
He also explained in his book how to produce this electricity with wind, water and solar energy as quickly as possible, in the most economical, least carbon-intensive way. Also see my article: Green Energy: Let’s Do the Fastest Smartest First.
When electricity is produced in the least carbon-intensive way, the transition from fossil fuel use to electricity can be made the fastest, most cost-effectively and, above all, with the greatest impact.
Special light electric vehicles: I put this in the first place because countries like Norway, Germany and China are well on their way to completely switching from fossil fuel to battery electric vehicles for new car sales. Many of our readers, myself included, have already bought and for the most part drive EVs and do our best to promote them. This is a highly visible sector, and if the general public and politicians can see major progress in this area, it will encourage them to tackle the rest of the problem.
How did Norway, with frigid temperatures that reduce battery performance and require cabin heating, get 90% of its car sales from new electric vehicles? 1) High gas prices (If you think gas prices are high in the US right now, go to European countries with very high gas taxes). 2) There is no sales tax on electric vehicles (gas-powered vehicles are heavily taxed). 3) Free tolls on highways and ferries. 4) Access to bus and HOV lanes. Also, Norwegian car sales are quite small, so there was no problem for EV manufacturers to meet the demand.
However, other countries with slightly larger or larger vehicle sales are well on their way, with Germany accounting for 26% and China accounting for 28% of all new EV sales. Germany and China also have incentives and regulations that encourage and require the adoption of electric vehicles.
Most other countries with large car sales have exceeded the 5% or 10% adoption rate typical of new technology market capture. Even in the U.S., where Tesla, GM, and Nissan have nearly or completely run out of federal subsidies, the new BEV adoption rate has already reached 5.6%. The biggest challenge now is to shift the mass car industry to EVs and produce enough batteries to power them. Market leader Tesla will produce 3 million EVs a year in huge factories in Fremont, California; Austin, Texas; Shanghai, China; and soon Berlin, Germany. Tesla Giga Texas is the largest building in the world, 3 times the size of the US pentagon, and will eventually build millions of Model Ys, Model 3s, Cybertrucks and Tesla Semis per year. But that’s still a drop in the bucket in a world market of 67 million new cars a year. Other companies, such as Volkswagen in Europe and BYD in China, are also committed to massively expanding production of electric vehicles, along with the likes of Ford and GM. However, we still have companies like Toyota and Honda doing their best to slow down the transition to EVs. The entire industry must rapidly switch to BEVs to become fully electric.
Heavy Duty Electric Vehicles: Although there are fewer cars in this class, their duty cycle is higher and diesel engines are more polluting. Tesla is a major proponent of battery electric motors for long-haul heavy-duty trucks, but even it has delayed production of the Tesla Semi for several years, largely due to a lack of sufficient supplies of high-capacity batteries. However, many heavy-duty Semis have predictable short-haul routes, and Volvo, Mercedes, Lion, etc. numerous companies such as already manufacture BEVs for this application.
Commercial Electric Vehicles: The duty cycle of fleet vehicles is also often very high. Numerous companies such as Hertz, Amazon and Walmart have ordered tens of thousands of BEVs for their businesses. Unfortunately, suppliers like Tesla, Rivian, and Canoo have delivered relatively little so far. Even the USPS plans to electrify 20% of new vehicles in its mass vehicle replacement program. We can only hope that enough political pressure can be exerted to bring this figure to 100%..
It is entirely possible that global adoption of new electric vehicles will account for more than 50% of new car sales within 5 years, However, even when approaching 95%, it will be at least a decade before total fleet numbers match these numbers.
Electrified heating and air conditioning: All air conditioners have been fully electrified using heat pump technology since it became widespread in hot climates in the 1960s. Homes have been heated by electric resistance vacuum heaters for many years. However, resistance heating it is inefficient and very expensive compared to fossil gas and oil, the main technology for the last 75 years. Heat pumps are the most efficient technology for electric heating. Heat pumps have recently become more efficient and can now be used in colder climates. For the coldest days in super cold climates, they can use resistance heat or a ground source heat source to keep running. Also, heat pumps can be used, which can heat and cool efficiently with the same unit. Unfortunately, heat pumps for heating have a high initial cost, making them a difficult choice for upgrades and also for furnace replacements when required by furnace malfunctions. For this to happen rapidly on a large scale, significant government subsidies are required. For new construction, it is more practical to install heat pump units that are capable of both heating and cooling. This will only happen on a large scale if building codes are changed. Now, for the first time, we’re seeing some cities ban excavation joints in new construction. It is this arrangement that will accelerate the adoption of two-way heat pump heating and cooling.
Europe as a whole, and Germany in particular, faces the threat of blackmail by cutting off the gas produced from the Russian supplier. If Germany is to avoid freezing homes next winter, it needs to make a massive switch to heat pump technology in a very short period of time. It can also buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship from the U.S. and other countries, but that won’t nearly make up for the complete shutdown of gas pipelines from Russia this winter.
Zero Energy Buildings: I described how conventional buildings can be heated and cooled without using fossil fuels. However, conservation techniques that use maximum insulation and completely eliminate air leaks can reduce the energy demand of buildings to near zero. This is a critical step for many homes and buildings.
Electricity delivery: This is another area where an electric motor can predict impracticality. However, new short-haul ferries and other vessels now run on batteries and electric motors. How to do this for huge ships floating in the oceans for weeks is inconceivable. New technology such as vertical rotating sails and kite-type sails have been developed to reduce fossil fuel use in long-distance shipping by up to 20%. However, it is likely that electricity can only be used in two steps to power long-range ships. Excess electricity from wind farms and solar fields can be used to make green hydrogen, and fuel cells can convert that hydrogen back into electricity for long-distance carbon-free transportation.
Electric Aviation: Many companies are investing heavily in using battery technology and electric motors to power short-range commuter aircraft and drone-style vertical lift aircraft. As battery technology improves, these aircraft will have longer and longer ranges. Medium-range aircraft will likely be powered by green hydrogen and fuel cells. Long-range aircraft must burn green hydrogen directly or use it to make green jet fuel.
Electrical steel and cement production: I’m not an expert on this technology, but I’m guessing it would require using green hydrogen burned directly or as part of the green fuel needed. Explore our green steel and cement archives for more information on these topics.
Everything Electric: I wrote a number of articles under the title “Everything Electric” for CleanTechnica This list of how everything my readers and I can think of is available in battery electric versions. However, most of them will not have a large impact on the amount of fossil fuel reduction compared to the items listed above.
Comments: Please use the comment section to add anything we missed or share your thoughts on how we can electrify things.
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