Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley believes evermore costly emission control technology could eventually make cars unaffordable for most consumers
Vehicle emission regulators in Europe “need to consider affordability, or risk creating an elitist industry where cars are only attainable by the wealthy.” — Farley told the Financial Times
The obvious conclusion to draw from Ford’s position is that FUELS must become several orders of magnitude cleaner. And with today’s technology, that is entirely possible.
(1)In South Africa, SASOL has been taking the dirtiest grade of coal (brown coal) and turning it into one of the cleanest burning fuels on the planet since 1950.
Cars in South Africa only require minimal emission controls due to the extremely clean burning petrol which has a minimum blend of 30% CTL fuel (Coal-to-Liquids)
During hot summer days with their higher pollution levels (from coal-fired power plants, from marine shipping and from rail) SASOL simply increases the CTL percentage in its fuel — neatly countering the air quality problem in South African cities.
It should be said that CTL blended fuel is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
(2) Brazil uses biofuel sourced from sugar cane and now that they are collecting the bagasse (stems, leaves, roots) of the sugar cane, instead of burning it in the fields, it is a quantum leap forward for the environment.
Ethanol from sugar cane dramatically lowers CO2 tailpipe emissions compared to conventional petrol, and the next growing season ‘eats’ every bit of the CO2 that was produced and then comes out of those Brazilian tailpipes. (Two crops per year in Brazil, growing plants eat a lot of CO2)
It parallels the normal CO2 recycling of Earth ecosystems.
Again it is the case that ethanol blended fuel from sugarcane is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
Yet again! It is the case that biofuel fuel blends are easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
Until all cars are electric vehicles (or in later decades when Hydrogen fuelled vehicles become economically viable) all of our effort should be going into making fuels cleaner and dropping some emission controls for petrol cars — except for the obvious, like Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) and those that serve to lower emissions during engine warm-up.
Petrol powered cars are here to stay whether some like it or not. But we need to put the focus on making vehicle fuels cleaner as we’ve long ago reached the point of diminishing returns on vehicle emission controls.
The following are electric cars that are for sale today in the US or are supposed to be for sale at some point in 2015.
The first prices listed are base prices before the federal tax credit, and in parenthesis are prices after the federal tax credit (normally $7,500, but often less than that if the cars aren’t 100% electric cars).
Other tax credits and rebates potentially available in your city or state (such as the $2,500 California EV rebate or $5,000 Georgia EV tax credit) are not included.
Range and MPGe/MPG data come from the EPA.
Check these electric cars out and go test drive some this weekend!
The BMW i3 is BMW’s first 100%-electric car built electric from the ground up. It is part of BMW’s “born electric” i series. It’s price puts it somewhat in the middle of the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S.
Despite looking a bit bulky, the BMW i3 is the lightest electric car on the market, thanks to its carbon fiber body. It’s a smooth & sweet drive. Compared to BMW’s overall sales, the i3 is selling very well, making it clear that BMW is one of the auto-manufacturing pioneers in the electric vehicle space. Read my full BMW i3 review here.
Chevy Spark EV
The Chevy Spark EV is a low-priced 100%-electric car that has gotten good reviews (compared to its gasoline cousin, that is) but is only available in a few markets. The Chevy Spark EV was the first car on the market that could use the SAE Combo Fast Charging system.
Ford Focus Electric
The Ford Focus Electric is Ford’s only 100%-electric car has long been overpriced and simply unable to compete with competitors like the Nissan Leaf. It has long been priced considerably higher than the Nissan Leaf — which is also more widely available — but Ford finally knocked the price down by several thousand dollars in recent months… but with very little broadcasting of the price drop. Needless to say, it still isn’t selling nearly as well as the Leaf.
The Fiat 500e has gotten great reviews. However, the head of Fiat apparently hates electric cars (I know, crazy) and is only producing the 500e in extremely limited quantities for a couple of states (basically, because it has to in order to sell cars in California).
Hopefully the cute electric car will someday soon be available to a broader market. With its relatively low price, good reviews, and cool styling, it could give some of the top-selling electric cars on the market a run for their market.
Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV is a snazzy electric vehicle with a bit more space on the inside than the average car, and a clear youngster appeal. With good specs and a decent price, the Soul EV could sell well… if Kia really tries to sell it.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric is an extremely close competitor to the BMW i3, and is a first-offering from Mercedes in this department. It has Tesla’s interior, and reviewers have been split between it and the BMW i3, with some preferring the i3 and some preferring the B-Class Electric. One of my friends recently bought the B-Class Electric and reviewed it for us here.
The Mitsubishi i (aka Mitsubishi i-MiEV) is one of the most basic electric cars on the market, but also one of the cheapest. As noted below, the Citröen C-Zero, Peugeot iOn, and Mitsubishi i all have essentially the same design but serve different markets.
The Nissan Leaf is seemingly the most competitive electric car on the market. It is the world’s best-selling electric car, and sales have only been increasing (thanks to falling prices and word of mouth). After test driving several EVs myself, I have to say that it would be hard to beat the Nissan Leaf for the money… unless you have enough money to dump on a higher-end EV, like the Tesla Model S, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric, or BMW i3. Read my full Nissan Leaf review here.
The Renault Twizy is a cute and fun little two-seater that comes in at a super affordable price. With just two seats, it’s clearly not a “family car,” but it is a ton of fun to drive and very adequate for most driving needs.
Despite (or because of) its small size, the Twizy was the 10th-best-selling electric car in Europe and 15th-best-selling electric car in the world in 2013.
The smart electric drive could be the cheapest electric car on the US market… if you don’t own or lease it for very long.
However, due to an $80/month battery rental, the price rises to about the same as a 2014 Mitsubishi i within 3 years (note that the Mitsubishi i seats 4, while the smart electric drive seats two). Within about 6 years, the smart electric drive is about the same price as a 5-seat and much more plush Nissan Leaf.
The Tesla Model S is widely regarded as not just the best electric car on the market, but the best car of any type on the mass market (see here, here, here, here, and here for just a few examples).
So, for many people, if they can afford a $70,000–$120,000 car, the Model S is as good as it gets.
This car has flipped the electric car and overall auto world on its head in many respects.
It is a top-selling luxury/performance car, and it was the 2nd- or 3rd-best-selling electric car worldwide in 2013, despite its high price tag. All the while, it was production-limited rather than demand-limited.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is VW’s second electric car, following close behind the VW e-Up! Clearly, it’s an electric version of VW’s extremely popular Golf model.
The e-Golf is one of the closest competitors to the world-leading Nissan LEAF, so it could potentially see very big sales numbers. However, its significantly higher price is certainly keeping sales down a lot, so VW will have to change that if it actually wants to sell this car. Read our VW e-Golf review here.
The BMW i8 is BMW’s second i-series car. It’s one of the most expensive cars on the market — actually, the most expensive on the mass market today.
It comes with a ton of style and great acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds only trails the Tesla Model S P85D’s 3.2 seconds amongst electric cars). It’s hard not to covet this beauty.
The Cadillac ELR is a high-end, luxury, plug-in hybrid electric car that hit the market at the very end of 2013. In many respects, it is essentially a more luxurious Chevy Volt.
It is pretty. Though, its high price was hard to justify compared to other options on the table, so you can now find the car for a price much below its MSRP… as in, cuts of nearly $30,000.
Chevy Volt Plug-in
The Chevy Volt is one of the most widely acclaimed electric cars on the market. It is the top-selling electric car in the US to date.
In 2013, it was the 2nd-best-selling electric car in the world. Volt owners are known as Voltheads and were “the happiest drivers” in the US for two years running… before the Tesla Model S arrived (as per Consumer Reports owner satisfaction surveys).
Ford C-Max Energi
One of two cars in Ford’s Energi (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) lineup, the Ford C-Max Energi has quite good specs for someone who doesn’t drive very far on most days but wants to take very long trips fairly regularly. It’s also good for larger families, as it seats up to 5 people. Despite seating 5, it is cheaper than the Chevy Volt… until you factor in the federal tax credit.
The C-Max Energi is also the most efficient plug-in hybrid electric car on the market. As a result of all of this, the car has sold quite well. Despite only being available in the US, the C-Max Energi was the 8th-best-selling electric car in the world in 2013.
Ford Fusion Energi
Quite similar to the Ford C-Max Energi but with a few more bells & whistles, the Ford Fusion Energi has done quite well since its introduction in February 2013.
The Ford Fusion Energi certainly offers some competition to the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and its sister, the C-Max Energi.
Importantly, for some people, it is larger than all three of these competitors. It has a bit less electric range than the Volt, but it has enough seats for five passengers.
(It has much more electric range than the Prius, and the same as the C-Max Energi — both of which seat 5.) And it is quite the looker.
Honda Accord PHEV
Coming in a bit higher in price than the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Ford C-Max Energi, and Ford Fusion Energi has certainly hurt the Honda Accord Plug-in‘s sales. However, limited availability has likely had an even stronger impact on those sales.
Furthermore, having just 13 miles of electric range doesn’t particularly excite would-be electric car buyers. The good news is that the Accord Plug-in is very efficient when using the electric motor. But, yeah, this is a compliance car.
Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
Following the successful Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (see below), Porsche launched the Cayenne S E-Hybrid at the end of 2014. The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 151 mph. I think “wicked” is the word for that.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid electric sports car that is everything you’d expect — awesome. It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in ~5 seconds.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid now accounts for nearly 10% of all Panamera sales.
Toyota Prius Plug-in
The Toyota Prius Plug-in was either the 2nd- or 3rd-best-selling electric car worldwide in 2013. Unfortunately, its electric range is just 11 miles, then the gas engine kicks in. The Prius PHEV is most likely aided by the strong, high-selling Prius brand.
It mainly competes with the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, and Ford Fusion Energi, but it has more seats than the Volt and is almost $10,000 cheaper than the Fusion Energi. So, its closest competitor is probably the Ford C-Max Energi. This seems to be a good place in the EV spectrum, as both cars have been doing quite well. Of course, the C-Max Energi has 10 more miles of electric range, almost double the Prius PHEV’s 11 miles.
Either due to the increasing competition, people simply deciding they want more electric range, or Toyota cutting supply, sales of the Prius Plug-in fell off a lot toward the end of 2014.
Basic Electric Vehicle Information
Electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity. Some EVs run on 100% electricity, while others (hybrid electric vehicles HEVs) run partly on electricity and partly on some other fuel (e.g., gas or diesel).
Vehicles that can at times run solely on electricity, and can be plugged in to charge their batteries, are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). 100% electric vehicles and PHEVs are clearly much better for the environment (and thus, humans) than their gasoline-powered cousins. Their fuel (electricity) is also much cheaper.
Originally published at EVobsession by Zachary Shahan. This article is posted here with the authour’s permission.
An accelerated switch to renewable energy is the path to EU jobs and prosperity
Europe is on shaky ground. There is even talk in some quarters that the euro, and consequently the EU, may not last a year.
Critics of the European Union are predicting that continued austerity measures, the elections in Greece, petroleum price instability, and Russian moves in Ukraine will conspire to topple the European Union.
Of course, this is a subject of ongoing debate. EU backers say that the present economic morass will end and that the UK and other European nations will join as full European Union members in the coming months, resulting in a unified and complementary union ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Success Stories Throughout History
Throughout history, various leaders have ‘risen to the occasion’ to provide visionary leadership — seemingly ‘rising out of nowhere’ to inspire great love among the public for a cause, and on account of their great vision and leadership impossible feats occurred on their watch due to the combined willpower of millions of thereby-inspired people.
People are individuals, and no matter how many individuals there are in a country or in a larger economic union like the EU, at the end of the day every one of them are individuals living inside a larger society. Therefore, leaders must appeal to those things important to their citizens.
In Life; All a person really needs, is a person (or something) to love. If you can’t give them that, give them hope. If you can’t give them that, at least give them something to do.
Leaders who can inspire love for the country through their vision and charisma, have the effect of giving each individual in the country something to love. Or at the very least, give them hope.
Where would the United States have been without FDR?
The New Deal was a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States mainly between 1933 and 1938. They included laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term (1933–37) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.
That is Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. — Wikipedia
The success of the New Deal is beyond dispute. Without it, the United States would not be half the country that it is today.
Where would Great Britain have been without Winston S. Churchill?
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and an artist. Churchill is the only British Prime Minister to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature since its inception in 1901, and was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. — Wikipedia
In between lecturing Hitler and Mussolini via his weekly radio broadcast, Winston Churchill painted a realistic picture of Great Britain for his citizens, and painted another realistic picture for them what life would be like under occupation.
Rather than be cowed by a more powerful aggressor, Churchill inspired his people to valour and sacrifice. And they responded powerfully.
What would our 21st century world have become had Mohandas K. Gandhi not perfected the art of non-violent protest?
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolentcivil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Indians widely describe Gandhi as the father of the nation.
Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India.
Gandhi attempted to practice nonviolence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. Gandhi’s vision of a free India was based on religious pluralism.
Imagine if every protest movement since 1947 hadn’t been influenced by Gandhi. Almost certainly, the anti-Viet Nam protests and the civil rights movement in 1960’s America would have led to civil war.
Due to Gandhi’s example, individuals who were part of the anti-war movement or the civil rights movement protested — peacefully for the most part — and to great effect.
John F. Kennedy’s decision to not be cowed by the USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev, led eventually, to the end of the Soviet Union
Had JFK not stood up to Soviet adventurism in Cuba and South America, the geopolitical world would have evolved very differently The USSR would have, in short order, controlled the Western democracies completely.
By utilizing the economic advantage, by ordering a Moon shot, and by not backing down against the communists in Viet Nam, JFK neatly avoided playing the Soviet gameplan — and instead played a gameplan that favoured the strengths of the democratic West.
All of these visionaries gave citizens reason to — love their country, to hope for a better future, to employ their good will and energies — towards solving the almost unsolvable problems of their time. (Love, Hope, Do)
Without that overarching vision promised by their political leaders, without that hope in their hearts, and without some means to express their goodwill and energy, citizens wouldn’t have united in large numbers to solve the near-insurmountable challenges of their time.
Now is the time for visionary EU renewable energy leadership
The case for the EU to adopt a ‘50% renewable energy by 2020’ portfolio and make it an ‘air quality and jobs mission’ for citizens and governments alike:
The vast majority of Europeans want a renewable energy future.
They know that the technological hurdles have been overcome, they know that many Pacific Ocean island nation-states and Indian Ocean islands now run on 100% renewable energy, they know that Norway is powered by 100% renewable energy and that Iceland has surpassed 76% renewable energy use.
They know that Sweden gets 51% of its energy from renewable energy, and that Latvia, Finland, Austria, and Denmark aren’t far behind. They see Estonia, Portugal, and Romania getting more than 25% of their electricity from renewable energy and they see Germany’s Energiewende setting stellar records for renewable energy output every month.
Other nations in Europe have surprisingly advanced renewable energy programs and some EU nations will surpass their renewable energy target before 2020.
Renewable Energy provides massive employment opportunities
And it is becoming apparent that when compared to the fossil fuel industry, the renewable energy industry provides thousands more jobs per million people. Always handy that, a job to go to.
Energy Price Parity and Subsidy Regimes
Not only has some renewable energy approached price parity with conventional energy, in some cases it has surpassed it. Especially when the massive global fossil fuel subsidies that topped $600 billion in 2014 ($550 billion in 2013) are factored in.
Meanwhile, global renewable energy subsidies barely hit $100 billion in 2014, the majority share of it spent in China.
Worried about fossil fuel subsidies? That’s nothing compared to fossil fuel externalities
Fossil fuel subsidies of $600 billion (globally) are one thing. But it now appears that the economic totality of fossil fuel cost to healthcare systems, to livestock health, the agriculture sector, the global climate, regional climate (local drought or flooding) and damage to outdoor concrete and metal structures may now exceed $2 trillion dollars per year.
China reports 410,000 premature deaths per year are due to air pollution. The U.S. admits to 200,000 premature deaths by air pollution and as many as 400,000 premature deaths per year occur in Europe due to our overuse of fossil fuels.
If you add the global rising fossil fuel subsidies of $600 billion to the global externality cost of fossil fuels, it equals approximately $2.6 trillion (globally).
How much renewable energy can we get for $2.6 trillion dollars, please?
It’s not that fossil fuels are intrinsically bad, or evil. It’s not that the people who run those companies are bad, or evil. It’s not the shareholder’s fault either.
It’s just that too many of us are using fossil fuel.
And nobody is forcing us to buy it. If there are reasonable alternatives to fossil fuel overuse, then citizens are making a conscious decision to pollute the air, rather than choose those alternative forms of energy.
But if no alternative exists for citizens to purchase (and yet consumer demand is there) that is primarily the fault of policymakers.
The solution to the fossil fuel subsidy and externality problem in the EU? Renewable energy
With the right vision and the right leadership, getting the EU to a 50% renewable energy minimum standard by 2020 is eminently possible.
There are no technological hurdles that haven’t been solved.
There simply exists no public outcry against renewable energy power plants.
Grid parity (with low subsidy) is now the norm — even against massively subsidized fossil fuel and nuclear power.
And several countries around the world already run on 100% renewable energy. One of them is in Europe. (Norway) So it can be done.
It’s not about; How much will switching to renewable energy cost us?
It’s now about; How much will renewable energy save us?
Each one euro spent on renewable energy installations (actual installations, not more endless research) could save two euros of fossil fuel subsidy and three euros of fossil fuel externality cost — although there is a time lag involved before healthcare systems, ranchers, farmers, and owners of infrastructure see declining costs.
Following the 1/2/3 fossil fuel subsidy and externality equation, we see that if the EU suddenly installed 10 billion euros worth of wind turbines and solar panels (displacing the equivalent amount of fossil electrical generation) the EU would save 20 billion euros of subsidy, and would over 25 years, save 30 billion euros in heathcare costs, costs to livestock health and agriculture, and outdoor concrete and metal infrastructure repair costs.
Spending 10 billion to save 50 billion — for a net save of 40 billion euros over 25 years. Not bad.
Spending 100 billion euros to save 500 billion — for a net save of 400 billion over 25 years, that works too.
So, denizens of Europe, how much fossil fuel electrical power production would you like to replace with renewable energy?
The EU should move to a 50% renewable energy portfolio by 2020 and make it a priority ‘mission’ for citizens and governments alike. An energy ‘New Deal’ for EU citizens
In order to plan for a clean EU energy future, we need to look at where the European Union is today and make a responsible plan, one that displaces fossil fuel electrical power production without placing undue economic hardship on existing electrical power producers.
A ‘can-do’ attitude that doesn’t ignore the many positives associated with an EU-wide 50% renewable energy standard will be required to meet the challenge
The best candidate for an EU-financed switch to renewable energy?
Malta is presently striving to meet its target of 10% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. However, Malta could easily convert to 100% renewable energy in as little as 24 months.
Malta is a tiny island nation and other tiny island nations have successfully transitioned to 100% renewable energy — and it took them only a few short months to accomplish that goal.
Malta’s electrical grid produces 571 MW at peak load and uses expensive imported fossil fuels.
Replacing Malta’s fossil fueled electrical grid with a combination of offshore / onshore wind turbines and solar panels is well within our present-day technical capabilities and would save the Malta government millions of dollars per year in fuel and healthcare costs.
A low-interest loan from the EU to cover the capital cost of wind and solar power plants and some basic technical support is what Malta needs. Nothing more complicated than that.
How would replacing Malta’s present electrical power generation with 100% renewable energy benefit the EU and the residents of Malta alike?
It’s a given that all of the wind turbines and solar panels / inverters, etc. would be sourced from the EU. In fact, European sourcing could be a requirement of obtaining the EU financing for the project.
All of the engineering, manufacturing and installation / grid connection would be performed by EU workers.
Malta’s residents and visitors would thereafter enjoy clean air, lower healthcare costs, better quality of life, and could say goodbye to toxic and expensive, imported oil.
From 10% to 100% renewable energy within 24 months — now that would demonstrate political and environmental leadership!
Granted, Malta has the smallest electrical grid in the EU. But it’s a place to start, a place to set a baseline for the learning curve to 100% renewable energy on a per country basis, and a place to test out the actual economic inputs vs. outputs, with minimal investment.
By starting with island nations and converting them to 100% renewable energy, solid standalone renewable energy power generation experience is gained, and once completed, can serve as models for standalone systems on the continent.
To get to 50% renewable energy in other EU states requires similar measures but on a larger scale than Malta. (Low interest loans from the EU, requirement to source all equipment, materials, and labour from EU nations, and some amount of renewable energy expertise)
Some European Union nations wouldn’t need all that much investment to make the step up from their planned 2020 targets. Some will already have attained at least 30% renewable energy, assuming they hit their planned targets. Other nations have small populations, and therefore, wouldn’t need all that much capital to hit the 100% mark, let alone a 50% renewable target by 2020.
The Next Step for the EU
During the darkest days of recession in early 1980’s America, newly-elected President Ronald Reagan didn’t appear and suddenly solve America’s economic problems.
He told Americans (very convincingly) that they had it in their power to solve their own economic problems and arranged some temporary loans to Chrysler and other companies — and cheered by his vision and leadership, they responded powerfully — ending America’s recession.
Someone in the EU needs to step up now, leading the charge to improve EU air quality, to lower the rate of illness and premature deaths due to air pollution, to lower the damage to livestock and agriculture, and to concrete and metal infrastructure — thereby creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs — by insisting on a minimum of 50% renewable energy standard by 2020 for all EU nations.
And that great, overarching vision in itself, will be the thing that EU residents will love, hope for, and willingly agree to do, for the next five years. Neatly ending the EU’s present recession.
Let’s roll up our sleeves, people. We’ve got work to do.
by John Brian Shannon (Originally published at JBSnews.com)
Air pollution has a very real cost to our civilization via increased healthcare costs, premature deaths, lowered productivity, environmental degradation with resultant lowered crop yields, increased water consumption and higher taxation.
However, air pollution is only one cost associated with fossil fuel use.
There are three main costs associated with energy
The retail price that you pay at the gas pump or on your utility bill for example (which is paid by consumers)
The subsidy cost that governments pay energy producers and utility companies (which is ultimately paid by taxpayers)
The externality cost of each type of energy (which is paid by taxpayers, by increased prices for consumers, and the impact on, or the ‘cost to’ the environment)
Externality cost in Europe and the U.S.A.
A recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) states that high air pollution levels (one type of externality) in the EU cost society €189 billion every year and it’s a number that increases every year. (That’s $235 billion when converted to U.S. dollars)
To put that number in some kind of context, the cost of the air pollution externality in the EU annually, is equal to the GDP of Finland.
Let’s state that even more clearly. The amount of taxation paid by EU taxpayers every year to pay for airborne fossil fuel damage is equal to Finland’s entire annual economic output!
It’s getting worse, not better, notwithstanding recent renewable energy programs and incentives. Even the admirable German Energiewende program is barely making an impact when we look at the overall EU air quality index.
“Of the 30 biggest facilities it identified as causing the most damage, 26 were power plants, mainly fueled by coal in Germany and eastern Europe.” — Barbara Lewis (Reuters)
“Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and thus are often considered as “externalities.”
We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.
Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative.
Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of non fossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive.
We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.” — Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal by Dr. Paul Epstein, the Director of Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, and eleven other co-authors
The report also notes that electricity costs would need to rise by another .09 to .27 cents per kilowatt hour in the U.S. to cover the externality cost of American coal-fired electricity production.
The externality cost for solar or wind power plants is zero, just for the record
Dr. Epstein and his team notes: “Coal burning produces one and a half times the CO2 emissions of oil combustion and twice that from burning natural gas (for an equal amount of energy produced).”
There’s the argument to switch from coal to natural gas right there
Also in the Harvard report in regards to the intrinsic inefficiency of coal: “Energy specialist Amory Lovins estimates that after mining, processing, transporting and burning coal, and transmitting the electricity, only about 3% of the energy in the coal is used in incandescent light bulbs.”
“…In the United States in 2005, coal produced 50% of the nation’s electricity but 81% of the CO2 emissions.
For 2030, coal is projected to produce 53% of U.S. power and 85% of the U.S. CO2 emissions from electricity generation.
None of these figures includes the additional life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal, including methane from coal mines, emissions from coal transport, other GHG emissions (e.g., particulates or black carbon), and carbon and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from land transformation in the case of MTR coal mining.” — Harvard University’s Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal report
It’s not like this information is secret. All European, American, and Asian policymakers now know about the externality costs of coal vs. renewable energy. It’s just that until recently everyone thought that the cost of switching to renewable energy, was higher than the cost of fossil externalities.
It’s not only an economic problem, it’s also a health problem
“Air pollution impacts human health, resulting in extra healthcare costs, lost productivity, and fewer work days. Other impacts are reduced crop yields and building damage.
Particulate matter and ground-level ozone are two of the main pollutants that come from coal.
90% or more of Europeans living in cities are exposed to harmful air pollution. Bulgaria and Poland have some of the worst pollution of the European countries.
An estimated 400,000 premature deaths in European cities were linked to air pollution in 2011.” — CleanTechnica
Externality cost in China
Remember the Beijing Olympics where the city’s industry and commercial business were shut down to allow visitors and athletes to breathe clean air during their stay (and Wow!) look at their clear blue sky for the first time in decades. Great for tourists! Bad for Beijing business and industry, with the exception of the tourism industry (for one month) of course.
The Common Language Project reported in 2008 that premature deaths in China resulting from fossil fuel air pollution were surpassing 400,000 per year.
“China faces a number of serious environmental issues caused by overpopulation and rapid industrial growth. Water pollution and a resulting shortage of drinking water is one such issue, as is air pollution caused by an over-reliance on coal as fuel. It has been estimated that 410,000 Chinese die as a result of pollution each year.” clpmag.org
The die is cast since it is becoming common knowledge that renewable energy merely requires a small subsidy to assist with power plant construction and grid harmonization — while fossil fuels continue to require truly massive and ongoing subsidies to continue operations.
Want to add up the total costs (direct economic subsidy and externality cost subsidy) of fossil fuels?
Add the $600 billion global fossil fuel subsidy to the to the $2 trillion dollars of global externality cost and you arrive at (approx) $2.5 trillion dollars per year. Then there is the more than 1 million premature deaths globally caused by air pollution. All of that is subsidized by the world’s taxpayers.
Compare that to the total costs of renewable energy. Well, for starters, the economic subsidy dollar amount for renewable energy is much less (about $100 billion per year globally) and there are no externality costs.
No deaths. No illness. No direct or related productivity loss due to a host of fossil fuel related issues (oil spills, coal car derailment, river contamination, explosions in pipelines or factories) for just a very few examples.
The fossil fuel industry is a very mature industry, it has found ways to do more with ever-fewer employees, and it gets more subsidy dollars than any other economic segment on the planet.
By comparison, the renewable energy industry is a new segment, one that requires many thousands of workers and it gets only relative handfuls of subsidy dollars. And, no externalities.
It becomes clearer every day that high carbon fossil electricity power production must be displaced by renewable energy
No longer is it some arcane moral argument that we should switch to renewables for the good of the Earth; Fossil fuel is proving to be a major factor in human illness/premature deaths, it sends our money abroad to purchase energy instead of keeping our money in our own countries, and the wholly-taxpayer-funded subsidy cost of fossil is out of control and getting worse with each passing year.
The time for dithering is past. It’s time to make the switch to renewable energy, and to start, we need to remove the worst polluting power plants from the grid (and at the very least, replace them with natural gas powered plants) or even better, replace them with hybrid wind and solar power plants.
To accomplish this, governments need to begin diverting some of the tens of billions of dollars annually paid to the fossil fuel industry to the renewable energy industry.
Germany’s Energiewende program was (and still is) an admirable first step. Once Germany has completed it’s energy transition away from oil, coal and nuclear — having replaced all of that generation capacity with renewable energy and natural gas, only then can it be hailed a complete success — and German leaders should go down in history as being instrumental in changing the world’s 21st century energy paradigm.
Dank an unsere deutschen Freunde! (With thanks to our German friends!)
If only every nation would sign-on to matching or exceeding the ongoing German example, we wouldn’t have 1 million premature deaths globally due to fossil fuel burning, we wouldn’t have almost 2 trillion dollars of externality cost, we wouldn’t need $600 billion dollars of direct subsidies for fossil fuel producers — and we would all live in a healthier environment, and our plant, animal, and aquatic life would return to their normally thriving state.
Taxes would reflect the global $2.5 trillion drop in combined fossil fuel subsidy and fossil fuel externality costs, employment stats would improve, productivity would increase, the tourism industry would receive a boost, and enjoyment of life for individuals would rebound.
It’s a truism in the energy industry that all energy is subsidized, of that there is no doubt. Even renewable energy receives tiny amounts of subsidy, relative to fossil.
But it is now apparent that over the past 100 years, getting ‘the best (energy) bang for the buck’ has been our nemesis. The energy world that we once knew, is about to change.
The world didn’t come to an end when air travel began to replace rail travel in the 1950’s. Now almost everyone travels by air, and only few travel by train.
And what about the railway investors didn’t they lose their money when the age of rail tapered-off? No, they simply moved their money to the new transportation mode and made as much or more money in the airline business.
Likewise, the world will not come to an end now that renewable energy is beginning to displace coal and oil. Investors will simply reallocate their money and make as much or more money in renewable energy.
Let’s look at Switzerland today, a tiny nation of 8 million people. Historically a neutral country, Switzerland isn’t a member of the EU, nor of NATO, but it is a member of the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP) and it became a member of the UN on September 10, 2002.
Some other notable facts about Switzerland are that it is ruled by direct democracy where citizens can block any law or get a new proposal heard and voted on with only 50,000 signatures, and the country has proximity to the largest market in the world, the European Union.
It is also one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Switzerland makes the best of its opportunities
Switzerland ranks in the top 5 places to live in the world, personal income ranks in the top 5 in the world, it ranks in the top 5 education systems and in the top 5 health care systems in the world. In many other measures Switzerland ranks among the top 10 globally.
How did little Switzerland with only 8 million people, few resources, and buried under a blanket of cold and snow for 6 months of the year, manage all of that and so much more?
As is often the case, the answer is good management!
With less than 2% of the world’s population Switzerland has attained 19th place (nominal GDP) and 36th place (PPP) out of 191 countries
It boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the world at $137,094 median (PPP)
The country has the highest average wealth per adult in the world, at $540,000 (PPP)
Image by Monsieur Fou (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
What time is it? It’s always Swiss Time.
Historically covered by a thick blanket of snow for six or more months of the year, the Swiss had plenty of time on their hands. So they decided long ago to make some ultra-high quality clocks to mark time until the return of spring.
The Swiss clock and wristwatch industry exported $20 billion dollars worth of timepieces in 2011, making the Swiss #1 exporters of timepieces in the world. Exports of watches and clocks from Switzerland have been ticking upwards, some years showing a 14% increase compared to the previous year.
If you’d like to buy a piece of art that also displays time, you’ll recall these Swiss brand names; Rolex, TAG-Heuer, Hublot, Zenith, Swatch and International.
Switzerland, where the world’s banks do their banking
Owing to long-standing Swiss neutrality and the careful management of Swiss national sovereignty, a stable environment for the banking sector evolved which was observed by many foreign nations and their central banks, hence most of the worlds central banks maintain offices and conduct business there.
The financial sector in Switzerland contributes approximately 12% of Switzerland’s GDP and employs 200,000 people. It is known internationally as the world’s banking capital and all banks cooperate with the Bank of International Settlements, based in Basel, Switzerland. The country’s banks processed a grand total of 5.4 trillion Swiss francs in 2009.
On top of that, foreign banks operating in the country manage almost another 1 trillion Swiss francs worth of assets per year.
Nothing but fresh air in all directions
Switzerland is #1 (2014) and #2 (2013) in the world when it comes to creating a progressively cleaner environment. And not only visionary policy, but tangible results too! As the Swiss work to cut total energy consumption levels in half by 2050, they are using cleaner fuels, more renewable energy, and in 2011 decided to begin the process of decommissioning all of their nuclear and coal power plants, a process which will be completed by 2045. (OECD Swiss environmental link here)
Lucerne and Lucerne Lake, Switzerland. Image by Clare66 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Simple, but effective changes have showed promising results. The large amount of household waste set out for curbside collection was tackled via pre-paid stickers that must be placed on each bag to be picked up at the curb. This has dramatically reduced the amount of waste that must be processed.
A large number of complementary projects are underway in the country, which range from sustainable forestry practices (forests cover 31% of the country), to even more world-class transit systems (the spectacular views are complimentary), to the 2,000-Watt Society which aims to lower carbon footprints by cutting total energy consumption levels in half by 2050.
The 2000-watt society (2,000-Watt Society) is an environmental vision, first introduced in 1998 by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, which pictures the average First World citizen reducing their overall average continuous energy usage to no more than 2,000 watts (48 kilowatt-hours per day) by the year 2050 – without lowering their standard of living.
The concept addresses not only personal or household energy use, but the total for the whole society, divided by the population.
Two thousand watts is approximately the current world average rate of total energy use. This compares to averages of around 6,000 watts in western Europe, 12,000 watts in the United States, 1,500 watts in China, 1,000 watts in India, 500 watts in South Africa and only 300 watts in Bangladesh. Switzerland itself, currently using an average of around 5,000 watts, was last a 2000-watt society in the 1960s.
It is further envisaged that the use of carbon based fuels would be ultimately cut to no more than 500 watts per person within 50 to 100 years.
The vision was developed in response to concerns about climate change, energy security and energy supplies. It’s supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, the Association of Swiss Architects and Engineers, and other bodies. — Wikipedia
Swiss Army Knife stats
The UN DESA list says Swiss citizens have the second-highest life expectancy in the world. Switzerland is also ranked #1 (tied) on the Bribe Payers Index indicating very low levels of business corruption. For the last five years the country has been ranked #1 in economic and tourist competitiveness according to the Global Competitiveness Report and the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report respectively, both developed by the World Economic Forum.
Zürich and Geneva have been ranked among the top cities with the highest quality of life in the world. Switzerland has very low tax rates as compared to other western nations. More Swiss citizens have won Nobel Prizes, than any other single country’s citizens.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations (the UN Palace of Nations is the 2nd-largest UN facility in the world), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and about 200 other international organisations, including the World Trade Organization and the World Economic Forum in Davos all have their headquarters in Switzerland.
Furthermore, many sport federations and organisations are located throughout the country, such as the International Basketball Federation in Geneva, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Nyon, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the International Ice Hockey Federation both in Zürich, the International Cycling Union in Aigle, and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
There is a world-class scientific community that also thrives within the country, some of it centred around the CERN particle accelerator (the largest such device in the world) which is what recently confirmed the presence of the (up-till-then-theoretical) Higgs Bosun. Also, the World Wide Web began as a CERN project called ENQUIRE, initiated by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.
The largest Swiss companies by revenue are Glencore, Gunvor, Nestlé, Novartis, Hoffmann-La Roche, ABB, Mercuria Energy Group and Adecco.
Also, notable are UBS AG, Zurich Financial Services, Credit Suisse, Barry Callebaut, Swiss Re, Tetra Pak, The Swatch Group and Swiss International Airlines. Switzerland is ranked as having one of the most powerful economies in the world.– Wikipedia
Healthcare in Switzerland
All Swiss citizens are required by law to carry private health insurance and the healthcare insurance companies are required to accept every citizen-applicant. It is an expensive system, but with high wages and even high-minimum-wages in Switzerland it is an affordable system for the Swiss. As noted above, citizens enjoy the 2nd highest life expectancy in the world and even that statistic continues to improve.
The Commonwealth Fund 2013 International Health Policy Survey in Eleven Countries has ranked Switzerland #2 in the world for overall healthcare outcomes.
Swiss President about town
To give you the best idea of how relaxed and civilized Switzerland is, the President of Switzerland, Mr. Didier Burkhalter, takes the train to work just like other citizens and was photographed recently at the train station waiting for the train.
That’s the way it is in Switzerland. The President of the country goes to the train station to catch the train like everyone else. He stands on the platform waiting for the train and texting on his SmartPhone and nobody there thinks a thing about it… yet in North America this is seen as a novel act and it goes viral on Twitter in only 8 minutes.
With only a tiny land mass, no sea access, a small population, minimal natural resources (compared to the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Brazil or Argentina, for just a few examples) and long winters combined with fragile ecosystems, Switzerland has created a thriving and special society inside a very pure form of democracy — from little else than pure ingenuity. It’s no wonder the Swiss citizens have been awarded more Nobel Prizes than any other nation!
This doesn’t cover half of Switzerland’s achievements and all of this and much more is happening on only 15,940 square miles of land, and most of that is covered with Swiss Alps and glaciers.