I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy, but for some reason, I want to say that in late 2019, it feels like we are winning a little. Maybe I’m delusional; there are old school politicians in positions of power, and mega companies still have big influence, but change is in the air. I’ve felt it all year. I can see it in the angry, yet empowered faces of the students in #FridaysForFuture. I can hear it in the quiet hum of electric vehicles as they move through my neighborhood and I can feel it in my soul after reading and curating the news stories on Happy Eco News.
The environmentally corrupt ways of old are weakening and I believe we are on the verge of a new era of environmental and social advancement.
In the article Three Industries Where Technology Is Reducing Our Carbon Footprint, writer Tom Raferty talks about three specific industries that are making a positive difference in reducing carbon emissions. According to his research, transportation is one of the biggest areas where technology is helping. The adoption of electric vehicles is accelerating for a variety of reasons, including low operating costs and reduced emissions.
The barriers to mass EV adoption are falling every day; EV charging infrastructure is now a booming business with automotive companies like Ford getting in the game. The electricity to run an EV is cleaner and cheaper than ever (even with no subsidies) because the cost of building a brand new renewable energy power plant is cheaper than simply continuing to use existing coal power plants. Maybe most importantly, it’s faster. It takes only a couple of years to plan, permit and build grid scale clean energy generation, instead of a decade or more for traditional power plants. Renewable energy is both cheaper and faster to deploy. It is cheap, fast and demand is ever increasing. That means it is more than here to stay, it will completely displace fossil fuel power generation in the near future.
All major automakers are rolling out EV’s in the next couple of years. Not just the ones you’d expect, like existing hybrid and EV market leaders, no it is quite literally all of them. Even Jeep, the tough brand that symbolizes freedom and escape more than any other vehicle, is adding 4 plug-in hybrid models to their lineup in 2020.
2019 may be the year of the EV, but like most overnight successes it has been a long time to take hold. I think that when the big decarbonization shift comes, it’s going to happen fast. The young people I know aren’t really “car people” anymore. Having grown up with technology in their hands from a very young age, they expect it everywhere and an EV is simply an extension of that. Most really don’t care if their car is Uber or Lyft, electric or fossil fuel driven, as long as it works when they need it. They care much more about style and luxury and most of all, convenience. It is easier to charge your EV in its parking space and pay on account with your app, than it is to drive your Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle to a gas station and fill up with stinky liquid fuel. EV range has increased to the point where most people can do their daily commute without recharging, and with coast to coast networks of charging infrastructure already in place, the idea of getting stranded somewhere is now pretty much a non-issue for most users.
The most expensive part of an EV, the battery, is already about 1/10th the price it was only 10 years ago. This price will likely fall further as the economies of scale come into play and the automakers ramp up EV production. Advances in technology mean the batteries last longer, have more cycles and charge faster than ever before. Maintenance on an EV is basically nothing compared to ICE powered vehicles; you only have to change the tires, and maybe the brakes eventually (brakes will last longer because an EV largely slows itself through regenerative braking). Compared to a typical service schedule for a new ICE vehicle, this is a fraction of the cost and inconvenience. As consumers start to realize that day-to-day life with an EV is easier and cheaper, and then have more models to choose from, the EV will rapidly displace ICE vehicles – and it will happen fast.
It already happened at my house.
Last year my wife got a new job about 43 kilometers from home. On a good day, she can do this drive in about 45 minutes. However, there was no way she was going to drive our gas guzzler into the city and back every day. Taking public transit was hit or miss and required three bus changes each way. Some days she would spend more than 3 hours in transit. After a year of it she’d had enough but didn’t want to get back in the fossil fuel game. Enter the EV. We had talked about buying a hybrid or EV for some time but always came up with excuses not to, mostly because it was new technology, expensive and relatively unproven.
In June 2019, we decided to cautiously test the EV waters and she bought a 2016 Nissan Leaf SV. The car has a 30KWh battery pack and enough range for her to travel to work and back on a single charge. There are several level 2 chargers at work and in the surrounding area, so she’s never been worried about range. All of the reasons why not to go EV really turned out to be non-issues.
We had a level 2 charger installed at our house and can recharge from near empty in just a few hours. So far, it’s been a great little car for us. It is small and efficient and is what both of us prefer for local driving; to run to the post office, to get groceries or taxiing kids to and from activities. For our use, in our climate, it seems to be almost the perfect vehicle. We still have the ICE for use on longer trips or for winter travel on snowy roads, but mostly it just sits and waits. Maybe someday I will replace it with a plug in hybrid, but in the meantime we will drive the Leaf as much as possible and enjoy every clean minute.
Are we early adopters? Not really, the first Nissan Leaf was delivered in 2011. We are just responsible people who have seen an opportunity to make a simple change with lasting positive consequences, and that feels pretty darn good.
2019 is the year of the EV. Get yours today!
In other top Happy Eco News stories, the Agave plant commonly found in arid locations around the world proves very beneficial to storing carbon, the Ørsted company (formerly Danish Oil and Natural Gas) signed the largest ever corporate deal for offshore wind. Green shift anyone? Renewable energy is now the cheapest form of power and experts believe the coming shift to clean technology and renewable energy will provide a worldwide boom in jobs growth.
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