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Energy

The plummeting prices of renewable energy come with hidden costs

The low prices of renewable energy globally have made it more affordable than electricity produced from fossil fuels. However, the cost of fusing the renewable energy mix to an electric grid is high due to its diversity. Researchers are still analyzing the possible price of putting renewable energy into an electric grid to facilitate its distribution to consumers. Imperial College London’s Philip Heptonstall and Robert Gross have evaluated the cost of supplying renewable energy to an electric grid for transmission. The two scientists concluded that this process’s real cost is either complicated or depends on other variables in the energy mix. Nevertheless, this cost is still low compared to utilizing fossil fuels to generate electricity.

The two scientists classified the added costs of renewable energy into three classes. First is the dynamic nature of weather patterns risking the estimated cost of a continuous supply. Next is renewable energy’s capacity to overcome the peak demand period considering there will be days when the weather will be unfavorable. Finally, the cost of infusing renewable energy into the current grid may exceed the available capacity. The last variable is of less importance considering many offshore wind power projects are close to metropolitan areas. Therefore, it is hard to fix a figure required to generate renewable energy since these factors may vary depending on renewable energy sources’ location.

For instance, nuclear power plants find their way far from cities to avoid the catastrophic effects that come with them in case of accidents. On the other hand, hydroelectric power depends on the water source’s physical location, making the cost of its integration into the national grid dependent on entirely different factors. Wind and solar energy can surpass fossil fuels if their potential comes out wholly. A study by Heptonstall and Gross identified the UK market as one where these two renewable sources have successfully attempted this noble course. Nevertheless, the UK is also bracing itself for higher costs of generating renewable energy to supplement the coal-fired electricity plants, stopping their operations from paving the way for the uptake of renewables.

Nonetheless, the prices of renewable energy will plummet once their full potential is visible. Additionally, renewables’ price assures that the world would be approaching net-zero carbon emissions since the costs being paid for champion eco-friendliness. To conclude, a flexible grid, high accessibility to renewables, and the availability of storage facilities for this energy will meet the electricity demands when they arise. The pursuance of these technologies to the latter will demonstrate the efficiency of renewable energy and its affordability.

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Energy

Mechanics are afraid of working on electric vehicles

Veteran mechanic Klaus Uebelacker has the idea that mechanics fear the changes that come with electric vehicles. This mechanic has lived his life around cars working with Mercedes-Benz from the training level to the expert level. He is currently teaching at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s automotive program to make more engineers capable of handling both the ICE models and electric vehicles. He understands that electric vehicles pose a new challenge to the mechanics working perfectly on the internal combustion engines. He stated that a few mechanics could work on the hood of an electric vehicle citing the new technology as the basis for his analysis.

Uebelacker explained that the automotive industry must brace itself to handle these new models considering that the pollutive ICE cars face a scrap-off. He cited the electric vehicles’ complexity as the fear for mechanics hoping that car manufacturers can take in more interns to learn the operation, maintenance, and repair of these systems. The veteran attributed his successful completion of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) EV maintenance training program to his desire to stroll around new car designs. He managed to see through the program early this year and hopes to utilize his newly acquired skills to train mechanics to operate the electric cars.

Uebelacker observed that the institution is the only place where trainees can face electric vehicles and handle them in their training sessions. The trainees can remove component by component, studying each item before assembling the whole car following the trainers’ assistance. Mubasher Faruki of CleanBC, which is in charge of the BCIT program, explained that the need to minimize pollution from the transportation industry had created the demand for technicians and mechanics who can handle electric vehicles. He said that this initiative would help train the technicians to be versatile with the technology that comes with electric cars. Additionally, the government has given out $10 million to aid technicians’ training to accelerate clean electric vehicles’ uptake.

Uebelacker explained that it was essential for him to receive electric vehicles training to teach the upcoming mechanics and technicians in the industry. He stated that this training would help them avoid electrocution and destruction of valuable elements of the cars in the name of repairing them. Uebelacker revealed that the first model that stirred up his desire to understand an electric vehicle’s operations was General Motors EV1 developed two decades ago. He wanted to understand the technol9gy that these vehicles utilize without emitting gases and hooting excessively.

In conclusion, technicians’ training to run and operate on these vehicles will prepare countries to transition into clean transportation without fear of insufficiency in repair skills. These vehicles’ simplicity makes them a force to reckon with, especially now that society has realized the value of renewable energy.

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Energy

Why are Electric Cars Expensive? 

The existence of electric vehicles has become more common on global roads than it has ever been. Despite their emergence, the price of these cars has remained to be out of budget for many. The total cost of these electric cars is relatively high due to the high actual cost of the rechargeable battery inside the vehicle.  

The price of electric cars is largely affected by what’s found in them. An electric car uses a battery similar to that rechargeable lithium-ion battery used on the laptop or phone. The battery used in a car is much bigger to ensure that they can propel the car for long hours for longer distances. The most expensive cell component is the cathode; these electrodes’ main role is to store and release charge. Cathodes are that expensive because the materials needed in them to pack the much energy are very expensive. They are mainly made of metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese. All the above metals need to be mined, processed and then converted into high-purity chemical compounds. 

How much do electric cars cost? 

As per the current rates and pack sizes of a standard electric vehicle’s average battery, the price can be around $7350. The average market pack cost of $156 per kW hour is still above the standard average of $100 threshold, whereby the total cost of an electric car is supposed to match the cost of a car with an internal-combustion engine. Having a matching price would increase the mass adoption of the electric car into the motor world. 

How can the batteries get cheaper?

There are no hopes that the cost shall keep dropping as fast as we think; however, it is believed that the lithium-ion cells are on a recorded track to drop in price to $93 per kilowatt by the year 2024. To get to such prices, it is called for manufacturers to replace the high cost of cobalt cathodes with a cheaper metal such as nickel. The use of nickel comes with double benefit, firstly it is cheaper, and secondly, nickel is known to hold more energy and hence allows the manufacturers to reduce the volume used. On the other hand, there is a disadvantage as cobalt does not overheat or even catch fire easily. This means that manufacturers shall need to make safety adjustments when they use nickel as a substitute for cobalt.