Cars and renewables have more synergy on energy than ever

November 13, 2017 7:29 pm

Cars haven’t really had a chance to prove that they are suitable vehicles for renewable energy use.

Sure, we now have electric vehicles and we’ve seen in the past PV solar panels glowing on cart roofs while racing for fun against their gas-powered counterparts, but the two are still subject to some form of trash talk by car aficionados, entrenched in their belief that combustion engines are any driver’s passion.

While still failing on horsepower, cars using renewable energy are gaining traction on global and regional markets.

Watch: 7 seriously quirky concept cars

Read: You think you know what Tesla is? Think again

Are cars and renewables in sync?

The State of the Future report, released by the UAE at Davos this year, said that nearly 20 per cent of households in the world would run on solar power, 90 per cent of vehicles on road would be electric, self-driving cars by 2035 and the first Hyperloop would be ready by 2020.

Yes, the magnetically powered Hyperloop train is a form of clean energy, but the renewable that is the most applicable to cars are solar and electric energies.

The UAE is currently testing driverless cars in Downtown, and Dubai is quickly becoming a regional leader for the adoption of EVs.

Read: ‘In 20 years, we won’t even be allowed to drive ourselves’

Green adoption in the car industry does not only apply to cars, but also to how they are financed, as per the Dubai Ministry of Energy incentive program, launched last May.

It encourages motorists to buy new zero-carbon-emission electric vehicles through green bank loans and green insurance plans.

“We are working on a road map to expedite a 15 per cent reduction by 2020 of carbon emissions,” said UAE Minister of Energy, Suhail Mohammad Faraj Al Mazroui.

His ministry’s plan also includes ten per cent and 20 per cent targets for EV adoption within the government’s own fleet.

“The new platform is also good news for consumers,” added Al Mazroui, “because it is cooperating with banks, car companies and insurance firms to help educate potential electric vehicle buyers on the benefits of going green to reduce greenhouse gases in the UAE.”

To accommodate this growth, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) will double its electric vehicle charging stations to 200 stations across Dubai.

“Through this initiative, DEWA aims to encourage people to use sustainable transportation of hybrid and electric vehicles, to help reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector, which is the second highest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Dubai,” explained Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.

Dubai ordered 200 Model S and Model X electric vehicles from Elon Musk’s Tesla for the city’s taxi and government fleet.

The UAE Police Department is building a fleet of BMW i3 electric cars.

EV in numbers

The International Energy Agency said in a 2017 report that renewables would account for 30 per cent of electricity consumption of EVs by 2022, up from 26 per cent today.

It said globally, electricity consumed by EVs – including cars, two- and-three wheelers and buses – was expected to double by 2022, but would still account for less than one per cent of total electricity generation.

Hyundai, for example, will launch 14 or more eco-friendly vehicles models by 2020, including five hybrid models, four plug-in hybrids, four electric cars and one fuel cell electric vehicle. In 2018, they will launch a new-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. It will be a completely new SUV model, based on a new platform developed especially for fuel cell technology.

“The share of renewables in road transport is expected to increase only marginally, from over 4 per cent in 2016 to 4.5 per cent in 2022.

Despite strongly rising sales, the share of EVs remains limited, and biofuels are still expected to represent over 90 per cent of total renewable energy consumption in road transport by 2022. Biofuels production is expected to grow by over 16% during over the forecast period,” said the report.

Forbes, in a report, believes that the growth in sales of electric vehicles could cut demand for oil by two million barrels per day as soon as 2025.

The sun is my friend

According to research company Markets and Market, solar powered cars can be electric vehicles with motors and rechargeable batteries and hybrid vehicles, which could include a combination of electric and internal combustion,” it said.

Read: Guess which solar panel colors are red hot for rooftops

The Stella Vie, a solar-powered car designed by a group in the Netherlands competed at the World Solar Challenge, in which solar vehicles travel the 3,000 km route from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia.

“We could start by assuming that a future solar-powered car doesn’t just have a single roof panel, but a surface made largely of a solar material […]. It is conceivable that this extends to the windscreen glass as well. That means for a car such as the Tesla Model S, there is up to 10 m2 of solar panelling,” it said.



Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.