France August 2022 Electric Car Sales and PHEV Sales

The market share of plug-in vehicles was at 20.9%. BEVs were 13.5% while PHEVs were 7.4%.


Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (1st place among all-electrics in August). Photo: Rutger van der Maar

A major French carmaker is replacing a popular ICE car with an all-electric model.

In France, Renault is now selling roughly as many vehicles under the popular Megane nameplate as during the previous year. Except that now, a significant number of them are all-electric vehicles.

The outgoing generation of the Megane is a reasonably popular hatchback, also available as a station wagon. Now a new, all-electric Megane is filling its shoes – and the transition is going surprisingly smoothly, especially considering that the new model is not cheap.

The new generation, a “hatchback with crossover styling cues”, is available as a BEV only – there is no ICE, hybrid of PHEV variant or it.

The new model is manufacured in France, unlike its predecessor, which is manufactured abroad, in Spain; that might matter to French buyers (by the way, I didn’t find any definitive confirmation that production of the old Megane in Spain has ended yet).

The market in August 2022

Among passenger vehicles, the market share of plug-in vehicles was at 20.9%. All-electrics were 13.5% while PHEVs were 7.4%.

Overall, the balance has shifted toward all-electrics (as opposed to PHEVs).

Top 10 all-electrics, August 2022:
1. Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (1521 units)
2. Fiat 500e (1325 units)
3. Dacia Spring (988 units)
4. Peugeot e-208 (889 units)
5. Renault Twingo E-Tech Electric (714 units)
6. Tesla Model Y (702 units)
7. Peugeot e-2008 (602 units)
8. Hyundai Kona Electric (465 units)
9. Renault Zoe (438 units)
10. Kia e-Niro (398 units)

Unsurprisingly, the new Megane E-Tech Electric took the first place among all-electrics in August.

The next four places, however, are all occupied by electric city cars – smaller and cheaper than the Megane. Among them, the Fiat 500e outsold the Peugeot e-208 (last month; but in cumulative year-to-date sales, the Peugeot is still in the lead). The Dacia Spring, imported from China, remains popular.

Note the decrease in Renault Zoe sales.


Fiat 500e (2nd place among all-electrics in August). Photo not taken in France. Photo: Alexander Migl

Top 10 PHEVs, August 2022:
1. Mercedes GLC PHEV (352 units)
2. Kia Sportage PHEV (327 units)
3. Mini Countryman PHEV (325 units)
4. Peugeot 3008 PHEV (311 units)
5. Peugeot 308 PHEV (277 units)
6. Lynk & Co 01 (265 units)
7. Hyundai Tucson (253 units)
8. BMW X3 PHEV (239 units)
9. Mercedes GLA PHEV (233 units)
10. Volkswagen Tiguan PHEV (215 units)

Mercedes has announced that the upcoming generation of the GLC will get a larger, 30+ kWh battery – similar to the one already used in its bigger brother, the GLE. But I assume that what you see in the statistics for August are mostly, or exclusively, sales of the outgoing model – with a battery roughly half that size. Sales of that model have been reasonably good throughout the year.

Sales of the PHEV variant of the Peugeot 3008 compact crossover were quite impressive January through May, with over 1000 units sold in each of those months; then they took a dive. Although year-to-date, that model is still the #1 among PHEVs.

A PHEV variant of the old Megane is still available (both as a hatchback and as a station wagon), but there is no sight of it in the top 10 for August; it’s also nowhere to be found in the top 10 year-to-date.

The market year to date (Jan-Aug 2022)

Here are the results year to date (note: these figures come from NGC Data, while the figures above come from AAA Aata/PFA):

Top 10 all-electrics, year to date (Jan-Aug 2022):
1. Peugeot e-208 (11982 units)
2. Fiat 500e (11185 units)
3. Dacia Spring (10852 units)
4. Renault Zoe (9516 units)
5. Renault Twingo E-Tech Electric (9315 units)
6. Tesla Model 3 (8063 units)
7. Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (6257 units)
8. Tesla Model Y (4713 units)
9. Peugeot e-2008 (4614 units)
10. Hyundai Kona Electric (4232 units)

Top 10 PHEVs, year to date (Jan-Aug 2022):
1. Peugeot 3008 PHEV (7044 units)
2. Peugeot 308 PHEV (4181 units)
3. Mercedes GLC PHEV (4107 units)
4. Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV (3531 units)
5. Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2800 units)
6. DS7 Crossback PHEV (2658 units)
7. BMW X3 PHEV (2452 units)
8. Kia Sportage PHEV (2191 units)
9. Volvo XC40 PHEV (2085 units)
10. Renault Captur PHEV (2017 units)


Peugeot e-208, the best-selling all-electric vehicle year to date. Photo: SOL – Supercars of London (on YouTube)

What else is happening in the French car market? Well, after full 14 months of year-over-year decreases in monthly sales, there was a slight increase in sales in August (that’s total passenger vehicle sales, not just plug-in vehicles). But that’s comparing a slow month of 2022 to a slow month of 2021; it’s hard to say whether the upward trend will continue in the following months.
___

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]

How Euro NCAP Frontal Crash Tests Got More Realistic

Euro NCAP frontal crash tests are now vehicle-to-vehicle collisions – not collisions of a moving vehicle with a stationary object.


Photo: ADAC

You might have seen photos of crash tests in which two vehicles – two actual brand new vehicles – are crashed against each other by some safety rating agency. What should be kept in mind is that’s not how cars or SUVs get their safety ratings.

Such crash tests, with two production vehicles pitted against each other, might help develop actual test procedures. Plus, as they look like real-life crashes, they catch the viewer’s attention, and are a good way to illustrate a point. They are educational.

But the actual evaluation of a vehicle – determining its safety rating – is done by crashing it against a barrier.

And is the barrier stationary? Speaking about frontal crash tests only: in American tests, yes; in Euro NCAP tests, since 2020, not anymore.

It’s a trolley – with four wheels similar in size to those of a car or a SUV, a wheelbase slightly longer than in a typical European car, and weighing 1400 kg (about 3100 pounds) – still more than many compact hatchbacks on European roads. There is a deformable aluminum structure – the actual barrier – attached to the trolley’s front end.

Such trolleys, or “mobile barriers”, have been used in side impact testing for quite a long time (the barrier crashes into the side of a stationary car). But using them for frontal impact testing, as a standard procedure – that’s new. In the U.S., the NHTSA has been experimenting with mobile barriers for frontal impact testing for years; but, so far, hasn’t made them part of the test procedure.

The trolley is accelerated to 50 km/h (31 mph), while the tested vehicle is accelerated to the exact same speed in the opposite direction. The left part of the trolley’s front end collides (head on) with the left half of the tested vehicle’s front end.

The weight problem

It’s quite different from the old pre-2020 procedure, which wasn’t much different from the one still used by the American IIHS. To be exact, what I’m describing here is the “moderate overlap” or “moderate offset” frontal impact; both the IIHS and Euro NCAP use more than one scenario of frontal impact testing.

In the old procedure, instead of two moving objects – the tested vehicle and the trolley, both moving at 50 km/h (31 mph) – the tested vehicle was accelerated to 64 km/h (40 mph) and smashed against a stationary barrier.

And that old stationary barrier covered just 40% of the vehicle’s width – not 50%, like the new mobile barrier.

Cars, and SUVs, obviously don’t like crashing into narrow objects (such objects cut deep into the car’s structure) – so does it mean the new, wider barrier is actually less demanding? Not really, because the new barrier, while wider, is also lower – so the impact is still spread over a relatively small area (over a relatively small part of the car’s front end).

Also, the new barrier is made of harder material than the old barrier – more about that later.

But first, one obvious issue: the new barrier puts really small cars – like popular city cars – at a disadvantage.

In 2012, the German association ADAC tested four different tiny cars against the new barrier. Yes, in 2012, even though Euro NCAP adopted it only in 2020; development of crash test procedures in a slow process – maybe it does not need to be, but apparently those developing them preferred to give automakers some time to adapt.

These city cars – back then – boasted good Euro NCAP safety ratings; 4 or even 5 stars out of 5. Today, no car will get a good Euro NCAP rating if it’s not equipped with automatic crash prevention systems like automatic emergency braking or lane assist, no matter how well it does in the actual crash test (makes sense: it’s certainly better to avoid a crash than to be in a crash, no matter how safe the car). Back then, than policy was not yet in place – and the crash test results of these tiny cars did not look bad.

But when these cars were tested by ADAC against the new barrier, the results – to put it mildly – changed for the worse:


Best results are in green; then goes yellow, orange, brown/maroon, and red (worst results). Image: ADAC

What happened?

Well, in the old EuroNCAP tests, these cars only had to carry their own weight, so to speak. And they were light. When smashed against a stationary barrier, the structure of such a car would only need to deal with stresses caused by a relatively light object – the car itself.

And then that small car would basically come to a stop; no bouncing off the heavier vehicle, no being dragged/pushed by the heavier vehicle.

No wonder small (and cheap) cars used to get better results than bigger ones.

But that changed with the new trolley-barrier setup, which simulates a collision with another vehicle quite realistically. Note that the trolley (fixed weight of 1400 kg/3100 lbs, no matter what vehicle it’s crashed into) is heavier than any of the four cars tested. It’s kind of obvious that in a head-on collision between two vehicles of different weights, the lighter vehicle is in a worse position. Because even if its body structure holds, the passengers inside the lighter vehicle are still subjected to higher forces during the crash.

It’s interesting, though, that the best result of the four – the least terrible result – was achieved by the Smart (a.k.a. SmartCar). Even though it’s the lightest one. Designers of the Smart knew that its low mass was going to be a problem in an impact. But they designed the vehicle with a stiff “safety shell” named Tridion – which solves at least one problem, that of structural integrity. As for the crumple zone, the car basically uses the crumple zone of the vehicle that it crashes into.

Different dimensions and greater hardness of the new barrier might have contributed to these results, though. The new barrier is harder, and it also strikes slightly lower:


Left: old barrier. Right: new mobile barrier. Not exactly to scale. Data for the new barrier based on the prototype used by ADAC. Material strength (in megapascals, MPa) for both barriers might be slightly inaccurate, by up to 10%. Image: IIHS, Euro NCAP

The new barrier (unlike the old one) is also a good measuring device: it measures how much damage the tested vehicle would do the other vehicle in the crash. Not with sensors or anything like that; the shape of the barrier after the crash, alone, allows for calculating the forces acting on each point of the barrier quite precisely. Since 2020, Euro NCAP notes in the description of the test results whether the vehicle is an aggressive, moderately aggressive, moderately benign or benign “crash partner” to another vehicle.

Heavy means safe?

All of this looks like bad news for tiny cars. And not only for those not built with the new barrier in mind; even completely new designs are going to suffer if they are much lighter than the new test trolley.

In 2021, so after the new barrier came into use, the Skoda Fabia (which was a budget city car, at least in its previous incarnation) got an excellent Euro NCAP rating. The video shows the car hitting the trolley and barely bouncing off it. Good engineering, sure, but that’s not the whole explanation. It looks as if the weight difference between the car and the trolley weren’t that big. And, as it turns out, the Fabia is relatively heavy – at 1200 kg (2650 lbs), it enters what used to be the European compact car territory…

But I’m not criticizing Euro NCAP for choosing what is essentially a more realistic test procedure. By the way, in addition to changes to the frontal impact test, the organization also changed the side impact test procedure in 2020. Now the car is impacted from the side at the speed of 60 km/h (37 mph), not 50 km/h (31 mph) like before. In the U.S., the IIHS experimented with side crash testing at both these speeds; so far, they haven’t changed the standard procedure, sticking to 50 km/h, or 31 mph; although they use a different, much taller barrier that better simulates the front end of a pickup truck.

Note: I don’t think introducing a mobile barrier for frontal crash testing in the U.S. would be a good idea – not right now. It would probably be much heavier than the European one, which would result in poor safety ratings of cars (as opposed to heavier vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks). And I don’t want cars to become an extinct species in the U.S.

And the complete list of additions and changes Euro NCAP made to their array of crash tests during the last 10 years is much longer than that. There is an increased focus on the safety of passengers in the rear seats – something that was mostly overlooked a decade ago.

To me, it looks like the ongoing shift toward EVs is going to help city cars in these tests. Because all that battery mass weighing electric vehicles down (that includes EVs that are city cars) now becomes an advantage.
___

Sources: [1] (in German), [2], [3], [4]

How Is BYD’s Expansion Into Norway Going?

Chinese brands are starting to offer their top-of-the-line electric SUVs in Norway. Norwegians are buying.


A BYD Tang EV in China. Photo: Jengtingchen

In Australia, deliveries of the BYD Atto 3 (a relatively small electric crossover) are delayed till October — even though at least one local journalist already got to test drive one.

Australia has recently become much like Europe when it comes to electric cars — demand outstrips supply. And now it looks like the Chinese automaker BYD won’t be bringing its reasonably priced (by Australian standards) crossover to the market this summer.

That’s in Australia; in Norway, the Chinese manufacturer marked its entry last year, by offering a large SUV with a power output of over 500 hp.

And, interestingly, it’s not even the most outlandish Chinese SUV sold in Norway.

* * *

BYD is one of two companies — the other one being Tesla — that pioneered modern long-range electric cars: Tesla with the Model S, BYD with the E6.

But, so far, BYD has been focused on China — its home market, and the world’s largest car market. Nothing spectacular came out of the plans of BYD expanding into the West, at least until 2021.

The BYD E6 — which got some attention when it was shown at the 2009 North American Auto Show — made its way into Europe, Australia and North America, but in very limited numbers, and mostly as taxis. With its 60-something-kWh battery (and that was in the beginning, before the battery capacity was increased) and without real competition, except for Tesla, it theoretically should have been a hit…

BYD was putting pressure on Western automakers by staying ahead of them in the EV race — both on the front of all-electric vehicles (the BYD E6 went on sale earlier than the Tesla Model S) and on the front of PHEVs (the BYD F3DM appeared before the Chevrolet Volt). But the Chinese automaker did not try to flood Western markets directly.

And that situation did not change even when BYD’s cars stopped looking like facelifted clones/mashups of older Japanese cars (which they initially were), and developed their own style.

BYD versus BMW

In 2021, deliveries of the BYD Tang EV finally started in Norway. It went on sale at a price appropriate for Norway (so, much higher than in China); the cockpit was revamped to give it a more premium look.

A large all-electric SUV with a power output of over 500 hp and a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of under 5 seconds — sounds good. But perhaps more importantly, the Tang offered three-row seating — something that wasn’t available on the Audi e-Tron, for example; it made the Chinese SUV stand out as a large-family-friendly option.

(Sure, there were electric passenger vans with three-row seating — the Mercedes-Benz EQV, and the Peugeot e-Traveller and its siblings. But some customers prefer SUVs over vans.)

By the way, the Tang is equipped with BYD’s much-touted “Blade Battery” (using LFP chemistry), whose most important feature is safety: it’s not supposed to catch fire even in case of damage. So, it was quite unfortunate when a Tang caught fire at an auto repair shop in Norway.

The continuing parts shortages (including semiconductor shortages) affecting other manufacturers should have worked in BYD’s favor. Unlike the competitors, the Chinese SUV could be bought without waiting. Although that situation continued for months — long wait times for other brands, zero wait times for the BYD Tang — without any huge increase in the Tang’s sales figures.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the BYD Tang flopped in Norway. A bit less than 1100 vehicles were sold in 2021. And about 900 during the first half of 2022 (so, on average, 150 units per month).

The MG ZS EV, the MG Marvel R, and the NIO ES8 (all those are Chinese vehicles, and only the MG ZS EV — specifically, the previous generation of it — has been around in Europe for a longer time) did not achieve better results: a few hundred units each, and that’s spread over the entire first half of 2022. So, roughly 100 units per month, separately for each model.

Chinese electric SUVs are definitely making inroads in Norway — even if not very quickly.

As mentioned earlier, the Tang had the advantage of three-row seating (the Tesla Model Y also offers three-row seating — but there is not enough space for adult passengers’ heads in the third row). But then came the European automakers’ countermove: the BMW iX.

Saving the honor of the West, BMW started sending huge numbers of the iX — which happens to be a large three-row electric SUV — into Norway. Not only did it outsell the BYD Tang, it also became one of the most popular EVs in the Norwegian market overall. There are two battery sizes, 71 kWh and 105 kWh (that’s the usable capacity, not the gross capacity). I guess the smaller one is a more direct competitor to the Tang, even though it falls short of the BYD’s 86.4 kilowatt-hours of battery capacity. The wait times for the smaller-battery variant are actually tolerable (for the larger one, not so much).

And while the most basic variant of the BMW is still more expensive than the BYD, the gap in the price is actually not that big (about NOK 660,000 vs. about NOK 620,000).

Compared to the iX, the Chinese SUV has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to power output or acceleration times. But what about the range?

The Norwegian Automobile Federation (here and here; you need to click “vis flere” — “see more” — in the second link a few times to load the full list) provides some useful information. According to their test data, the BYD Tang achieves 408 km (254 miles) in the summer and 356 km (221 miles) in the winter.

The smaller-battery variant of the BMW iX achieves 399 km (248 miles) in the summer and 309 km (192 miles) in the winter.

Although the Tang wins, I would say both of these vehicles disappoint a bit. If anyone is interested, the larger-battery variant of the BMW iX achieves some 569 km (354 miles) in the summer and 503 km (313 miles) in the winter — now that’s a long-range EV.

There is something weird about the Tang’s charging curve. It does not resemble a typical Li-ion charging curve, fast at the beginning and gradually slowing down until the end.

It is more flat, but not exactly flat: it mostly stays somewhere in the area between 75 kW and 120 kW, until… well, in the tests done by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, it was at least until the state-of-charge reached 80%.

In these tests, the Tang showed surprising consistency, charging from 5% to 80% is about 45 minutes in the summer, and in about 45 minutes in the winter. Other EVs practically never behave this way (charging in the summer is usually faster that in the winter). But in this case, the weaknesses of the winter charging curve (slow charging at the beginning — battery too cold) and of the summer charging curve (slower charging at the end — battery too warm) apparently canceled each other out, resulting in almost identical charging times.

Independently, the Norwegian online publication Motor.no measured the charging time from 10% to 80%, and reported that it took about 45 minutes.

And the showdown between BMW and BYD just got even more interesting: apparently the updated, 2022 model year BYD Tang (which means the model introduced in the middle of 2022) is going to be equipped with a 108.8-kWh battery — rivaling the larger of the two battery variants of the BMW.

Hongqi enters the stage

If someone considers the BMW iX too big or ostentatious, or its styling too controversial, they probably won’t like the Hongqi E-HS9 either.

The luxury Chinese SUV from the state-owned FAW Group (BYD, on the other hand, is an independent private company) looks like an attempt to outdo everything else on the market — including the BMW iX.

And it’s proving reasonably popular in Norway: over 950 units were sold during the first half of the year.


Hongqi E-HS9. Photo: Hongqi

___

Sources: [1], [2], [3]

This article has been edited since first published.

Lithium-Air Batteries Are Real

As weird as it sounds, airplanes of the future might be heavier at landing than at takeoff — because they will actually gain weight during flight.


Photo: Matsuda, Ono, Yamaguchi, Uosaki. Criteria for evaluating lithium-air batteries in academia to correctly predict the practical performance in industry

Lithium-air (Li-air) is a battery technology that, when pushed to its limits, might give jet engines a run for their money.

This article barely skims the surface of the topic, and being new to it, I probably made some important omissions or outright errors. But I think it’s worth knowing that such technology exists.

Jet fuel (kerosene) has an energy density of 12,000 Wh/kg. Sure, this is true only when not counting the mass of oxygen needed to burn that fuel; but that way of counting energy density is justified, as jet engines get their oxygen from the air, for free — it does not need to be stored onboard and does not contribute to aircraft weight.

Can lithium-ion batteries compete with that? No. Lithium-air batteries, however, can get close enough.

Not close enough to match that 12,000 Wh/kg figure — just close enough to become a viable replacement in many aviation applications.

* * *

Lithium-air batteries are not another kind of lithium-ion batteries (and they are also a different thing than rechargeable lithium metal batteries, which are nearing large-scale production).

Lithium-air batteries need air to operate.

Here’s how they work. When the battery is discharging, lithium (inside the battery) reacts with oxygen (grabbed from the air), forming lithium oxides (which remain inside the battery). Energy is released. And the neat thing is, that energy is released not as heat, but as electrical energy — so you can use it to efficiently power whatever you want; some kind of electric motor, for example.

And when you are charging the battery, you are putting energy into lithium oxides, in order to split them back into lithium and oxygen.

At this point, someone might say: oooh, now I understand why it’s so much better than current batteries — it’s not a battery at all! It needs to consume something from its surroundings to actually work, right? Well, that sounds like a characteristic of a fuel cell (or an internal combustion engine; or a biological organism), and not of a battery cell.

Well, consider this: a lithium-air battery is still a device that stores electrical energy. It charges and discharges like a battery.

But you must let is grab oxygen from the air as it discharges; and then let it blow off oxygen when it charges again.

And the battery gets heavier — significantly heavier — as it discharges, as lithium turns into heavier lithium oxides. So an electric aircraft using such a battery would take off light, but land heavy — the exact opposite of how jet planes operate today.

* * *

That 12,000 Wh/kg figure for the energy density of jet fuel should be used with caution. A jet engine can only convert some percentage of it into thrust; certainly not 100% of it. But how much exactly?

Let’s assume that jet engine efficiency is 37.5%. That efficiency is the result of multiplication of two things: (thermal efficiency) ⋅ (propulsive efficiency).

And let’s assume an electric aircraft engine can achieve 84% efficiency.

Quick calculations seem to show that a battery with an energy density of 5360 Wh/kg would be enough to replace jet fuel (because 12,000 Wh/kg * 37.5% / 84% = 5360 Wh/kg). But that’s not quite true. Jet fuel still has some advantage over a battery of such an energy density. Why?

Well, these values are for when the weight of the fuel (or battery) is at its highest.

In a passenger jet, that’s obviously at the beginning of the flight, before you start burning fuel. Then, over the course of the flight, fuel weight decreases. At the end of the flight, most of the fuel is used up — it’s no longer weighing down the plane. As a result, the average fuel weight during the flight is much lower than the highest (initial) fuel weight.

Li-air batteries will also change their weight as they get bloated up on oxygen during the flight. But no matter how well-optimized they are, their weight will not go from “high” to “almost zero” (like fuel). Their weight will only go from “medium-low” to “high”. As a result, the average battery weight during the flight will not be so dramatically lower than the highest weight.

In short: Li-air batteries suffer from higher average weight than jet fuel — even when their weights at their highest are exactly the same.

And let’s pile up more reasons why airplanes running on batteries are a bad idea. Cycle life, for example. Suppose an airliner flies just two segments a day, for 15 years, and the battery needs to be recharged before each flight. That is about 11,000 cycles, something that would be too much even for current automotive Li-ion batteries. In practice, an aircraft would probably go through multiple battery packs over the course of its service life (so it becomes important that materials from old batteries can be reused in manufacturing new ones).

* * *

Sounds discouraging? Well, electric airplanes are something that exists today, even with the current Li-ion battery technology. Which is incomparably worse than Li-air.

The Pipistrel Velis Electro is a good example. It’s not a prototype, but an actual electric aircraft being sold by an established manufacturer. Yes, it is certified, at least in Europe. Yes, the batteries carry enough energy not only for the actual flight phase, but also the required reserves. By the way, the manufacturer was recently bought by the company which owns Cessna.


Photo: Pipistrel

Clearly, there is huge gap between the energy density sufficient for a light, short-range aircraft — it can’t be much more than 200 Wh/kg in the Pipistrel — and that required to replace a jet airliner.

And there are many interesting applications in between — which might benefit from Li-air technology before larger planes start using it. Example: what if you want an electric personal aircraft with a range of let’s say 800 km (500 miles) that you can charge in your garage? Notice I said aircraft, not airplane; it could be a hoverbike, it could be some sort of a closed-cockpit VTOL. Who knows, maybe when such contraptions become popular, there will be less demand for airline travel.

But let’s skip to airliners. Suppose you have a lithium-air battery that is capable of 2000 Wh/kg (in the discharged, heavy state). Almost three times as heavy as the amount of jet fuel containing the same usable amount of energy. Still, there are many short-haul routes on which that wouldn’t be a problem.

* * *

What are the theoretical limits of lithium-air batteries? It depends on the reaction used. If it’s lithium + oxygen → lithium oxide (Li₂O), the upper limit of achievable energy density is about 5200 Wh/kg. If it’s lithium + oxygen → lithium peroxide (Li₂O₂), then it’s about 3500 Wh/kg.

That’s for the fully discharged state, when the battery is at its heaviest.

Another possible reaction, used in aqueous Li-air batteries, is lithium + oxygen + water → hydrated lithium hydroxide (LiOH ⋅ H₂O). In which case the limit is — different sources give different values — 1910 Wh/kg or 2200 Wh/kg.

* * *

Instead of giving an overview of what’s going on in the field of Li-air batteries (and there is a lot going on), I’m going to focus on one research team — led by Mohammad Asadi from Illinois Tech.

What I’m describing here is not exactly news — it’s an article was published in 2020. They made a Li-air battery that can:

• maintain 70%-80% round-trip efficiency after 800 cycles of charging-discharging at 1C (which means that fully charging the battery takes 1 hour each time)
• operate in ambient air (no need to remove CO₂ or moisture)

It’s not that the battery maintains 70%-80% of its capacity after 800 cycles (because it could be easily misread like that). It’s the round-trip efficiency of the battery is at 70-something percent: when discharging, it gives back 70%-80% of the energy that was required to charge it.

Well, that is still a drawback compared to Li-ion, which typically offers a round-trip efficiency of over 90%. But compared to previous results for Li-air, these results look great. They look commercializable.

It’s time for Li-air batteries to get out of the lab and into the real world.
___

Sources: [1],[2],[3],[4]

This article has been edited since first published.

Prices of Used Hyundai Kona Electrics in Norway

The asking price of $28,500 seems high for a used vehicle of this size. But then again, it might be considered an alternative to a used Tesla.


Photo: Matti Blume

Used Tesla Model 3s are not dropping in value like they should. What other alternatives are there? Well, in Norway, one of them – described in this article – is a vehicle that does not look like a Tesla, does not drive like a Tesla, and does not have the AI that the American brand is heavily betting on – but its range results are surprisingly close to those of the early Model 3.

In Norway, back in late 2018 and early 2019, the range of affordable long-range electric cars was pretty limited (emphasis on affordable; the Model S and X were pretty expensive, but Norwegians were still buying them). There was the Chevrolet Bolt/Opel Ampera-e; and there was the Hyundai Kona Electric. End of list.

Those receiving deliveries of their long-awaited Bolts usually had placed an order at least about a year earlier. The shipments of the Kona Electric, starting from August 2018, improved the situation: the number of available models increased from one to two; even better than that, one of them (the Kona) was a vehicle whose sales were not being actively discouraged by the very brand under which it was sold.

Still, the waiting lists for the Kona were extremely long. Around March 2019, shipments of the Tesla Model 3 finally reached Norway, which (besides changing the Norwegian, and European, car market forever) eased the pressure on Hyundai a bit.

How much does one of these early-production Kona Electrics cost now?

* * *

On finn.no, which is Norway’s eBay, you can find some Kona Electrics from the 2019 model year starting from the equivalent of about $28,500 to $33,500 (NOK 275,000 to NOK 320,000).

Those from the 2020 model year are in the range of $32,000 to $38,500 (NOK 308,000 to NOK 370,000).

I excluded the sub-40-kWh-battery variant of the Kona Electric, which is not a long-range vehicle.

These are listing prices — which might be different from actual transaction prices.

I thought it’s worth checking if there is currently a shortage of Kona Electrics on the new car market. There isn’t. Such vehicles are readily available. But this is not the case with Teslas, electric Volkswagens, the Kia EV6, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and many others — there are long wait times — which might still be inflating the prices of used EVs overall.

* * *

So, the listing prices of the Kona Electric, in Norway, start somewhere around $28,500. For the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, also in Norway and for the same 2019 model year, they start around $38,500 (excluding one outlier at slightly above $35,000). But how does the small Korean crossover stack up against the Tesla?

The Model 3 charges faster — much faster. About 150 kW at 50% state-of-charge, still over 50 kW at 80% state-of-charge. The Hyundai can maintain only about 70 kW at 50% state-of-charge and 25–30 kW at 80% state-of-charge.

Besides that, I am going to limit this comparison to just one thing: range. And, intentionally, without referring to the official EPA ratings. Here are the test results published by the French magazine l’Automobile and the German automobile association ADAC. As we are comparing used cars, the data is for pre-2021 Model 3s, not the later ones with increased battery capacity.

Kona Electric 64 kWh | Model 3 Long Range 75 kWh

l’Automobile, ville (city driving):
480 km (298 miles) | 445 km (277 miles)

l’Automobile, route (outside town; rural highways?):
380 km (236 miles) | 393 km (244 miles)

l’Automobile, autoroute (European highway speeds):
265 km (165 miles) | 320 km (199 miles)

ADAC:
435 km (270 miles) | 429 km (267 miles)

At European highway speeds (typically 130 km/h, or 81 mph), the Tesla clearly wins. Interestingly, Norway is not one of the countries where it would matter much. Speed limits in Norway are stricter than elsewhere in Europe: 110 km/h or 68 mph at most; but usually lower. The French tests suggest that at such speeds, the Tesla might still have a slight advantage over the Hyundai when it comes to range. And, as mentioned earlier, the Tesla also charges much quicker.

But the significantly lower price works in favor of the Korean crossover.
___

Sources: [1],[2]

About NCMA, the Battery Chemistry Used in the Hummer EV

The electric monstrosity from GM takes advantage of years of gradual improvements to Li-ion technology.

Photo: summitauto.com on Youtube

Even those who are not really into EV battery chemistry might have heard that Tesla started using LFP batteries, instead of “normal” Li-ion batteries, in some of its products. LFP batteries are nickel-free.

It started in 2020 with the made-in-China shorter-range variant of the Model 3, but then expanded to other variants, including those shorter-range Model 3s that are made in Fremont. Additionally, Tesla switched to using LFP for its Megapacks.

So, there are “normal” Li-ion batteries, and then there are LFP batteries: cheaper, nickel-free, with longer cycle life, but lower energy density… right?

Well, yes, but an often overlooked fact is that these “normal”, nickel-containing Li-ion batteries also come in different variants. And Tesla has long used a different variant than the rest of major EV manufacturers.

NCA, Tesla, and the birth of long-range electric cars

With the Model S, Tesla tied its future to NCA batteries.

NCA stands for nickel-cobalt-aluminum. Most Western automakers today use NMC, nickel-manganese-cobalt.

The earliest Tesla Roadsters used LCO (lithium cobalt oxide) chemistry. Batteries of that kind, known for their high energy density, have been used at least since the 1990s in cell phones, laptops, cameras.

Later, for the Model S, Tesla chose NCA batteries, supplied by Panasonic. The deciding factor seems to have been – again – the energy density. The data I found at one website suggest that, at the time, NCA had an advantage over NMC in this respect.

So, for the Model S, Tesla used batteries that – at the time and among those available commercially in larger quantities – had their energy density pushed to the maximum; and packed them into a vehicle designed to have very low aerodynamic drag. Same recipe as in the 1999 (second-gen) GM EV1.

The Tesla Model 3 and the Model Y also started as vehicles using NCA cells.

Established automakers (“legacy” automakers), if they decided to make an all-electric vehicle at all, would often use NMC cells. And these cells would often come from LG Chem or SK Innovation.

(This does not apply to pioneers like Nissan with its first-gen Leaf and Mitsubishi with the i-MiEV – they both used different chemistries.)

NMC batteries kept evolving, and in the second half of 2019 none other than Tesla started using them in the made-in-China long-range variant of the Model 3 (and then also the Model Y).

The shift to high- and very-high-nickel batteries

Generally speaking, increasing nickel content in NMC batteries results in higher energy density. Another reason to increase nickel content is to reduce cobalt content.

Designations of various kinds of NMC batteries indicate the proportions of nickel (N), manganese (M) and cobalt (C) atoms in them. For example, NMC622 means that these proportions are 6:2:2.
There was a shift, in recent years, from variants containing quite a lot of nickel toward variants containing even more nickel, like NMC811 (proportions 8:1:1).

NCA batteries, on the other hand, already had a high proportion of nickel back in the year 2012. In those used by Tesla, the proportions of nickel:cobalt:aluminum were 8 : 1.5 : 0.5.

In these two last examples (NMC811 and old NCA), the nickel content was 80%. That doesn’t mean that 80% of the battery is nickel; nickel is 80% of what you get if you take the so-called active material of the cathode – a powdery substance that is just one of multiple things that come together to form a battery cell – and then consider only the part of it that isn’t lithium or oxygen. (And another thing, although it does not change much in this case: these are not proportions of weight but proportions of atoms. So 80% nickel and 10% manganese means there is not eight times more, but actually *over* eight times more kilograms/pounds of nickel than manganese. Because one atom of nickel is slightly heavier than one atom of manganese.)

According to an article published in 2019, when you try to increase the proportion of nickel even further, to 90%, the result is a battery with low cycle life (it will need to be replaced after too few cycles of charging/discharging), at least in NMC or NCA batteries. And here is where the new NCMA (nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum) battery chemistry, described in the same 2019 article, offers an advantage: it allows for raising the nickel content to about 90%, but without sacrificing battery longevity that much.

NCMA technology is championed by LG Energy Solution, formerly part of LG Chem.

SK Innovation, their competitor, seems to disagree that this new chemistry is required. They developed a 90% nickel battery which is still an NMC battery (proportions 9 : 0.5 : 0.5). And Samsung’s “Gen 5” battery is NCA (yes, NCA) but also close to 90% nickel content.

Meanwhile, in some (if not all) applications, LG reduced the nickel content in their NCMA cells to 85% instead of 90%.

Tesla announced in 2021 their imminent switch to LG-supplied NCMA cells for longer-range variants of their made-in-China vehicles; and I assume they went ahead with it.

General Motors, in partnership with LG, is also using NCMA for their Ultium batteries. According to GM, Ultium is a whole architecture (batteries, motors, control software) that can be adapted to different vehicles. Just a thought: it might be beneficial to keep a well-publicized name even if the underlying technology changes; so, Ultium might not necessarily be associated with NCMA in the future.

But for now, in the Hummer EV, an Ultium battery is an NCMA battery. With 212.7 kWh of capacity.

One could argue that the designers of the Hummer EV were not that concerned with vehicle weight – the curb weight of the pickup truck is 4111 kg (9063 lb). But still, that battery capacity is impressive, by current standards.

The Hummer EV seems like a good truck for towing: with its huge frontal area, it deals with so much air resistance when driving without a trailer that adding one couldn’t reduce the MPGe very much. Seriously though, that large battery capacity should make it possible to plan long trips with a travel trailer in a (relatively) painless way, with longer distances between charging stops.

American pickups, Korean rivalry

While General Motors went with LG Energy Solution’s NCMA battery chemistry, Ford is using batteries from SK Innovation for the F-150 Lightning.

A 2021 press release by Ford mentioned that 90% nickel, or “Nickel 9” batteries from SK Innovation were going to be used in the F-150 Lightning. As mentioned before, SK Innovation increased nickel content to 90%, but did that without switching to NCMA.

The rivalry between LG and SK seemed quite bitter, with SK being, quite recently (early 2021), banned by the U.S. International Trade Commission from importing both complete products and components into in the U.S. because of using what LG said was LG’s technology. An exception was made for the F-150 Lightning program, allowing for domestic production of batteries from imported components, but that exception would expire after four years (a less generous two-year exception was made for Volkswagen).

In the end, the ban was lifted, as an agreement was reached between LG and SK. SK agreed to pay LG $1.8 billion. Interestingly, that sum would nicely cover LG’s expenses caused by having to compensate another party – General Motors – for Bolt fires.
___

Sources: [1],[2]

Spain March 2022 Electric Car Sales and PHEV Sales

10.7% of cars and SUVs sold in Spain in March 2022 were plug-in electric, according to the trade association ANFAC.

Tesla Model 3, the best-selling plug-in passenger vehicle in Spain in March. Photo not taken in Spain. Photo: Noah Wulf

BEVs (all-electrics) were 5.2% (3090 units). PHEVs were 5.5% (3307 units).

It has been over a year since the last time I wrote about Spain — describing December 2020, a good month for plug-in vehicle sales all over Europe; in Spain it brought a BEV share of roughly 4% and a PHEV share of roughly 6%.

But for 2021 (the entire year), these figures were at 2.8% (BEVs) and 5.0% (PHEVs). Especially in the case of BEVs, Spain was lagging behind the rest of Europe.

This year, BEVs are doing better — in March 2022 their market share passed the 5% mark for the first time. But March was of course an end-of-quarter month, a typical “Tesla month” with large shipments of the Model 3 and Model Y arriving.

Top 5 in March 2022 (all-electrics):
1. Tesla Model 3 (792 units)
2. Kia Niro EV (316 units)
3. Tesla Model Y (152 units)
4. Fiat 500e (148 units)
5. Kia EV6 (140 units)

What is missing here? Well, the Volkswagen Group, obviously. You would need to scroll further down the list of best-selling BEV models to find the Volkswagen ID.4. And considerably further down the list to find the ID.3 (or its Spanish-branded but not Spanish-built twin, the Cupra Born).

In Germany, the wait time for these models is roughly one year, so I assume the problem is on the supply side.

The Renault Zoe and the Hyundai Kona Electric, once quite popular, did not make the top 5 (of BEVs) in March.

The locally made Citroen e-C4 is not far behind the top 5 for BEVs (it occupies one of the closely contested spots numbered #6 through #8 on the list). About 95 units were registered last month.

Stellantis makes at least three all-electric vehicles in Spain, mostly for export: besides the e-C4, this includes the Opel Corsa-e and the Peugeot e-2008; and there are reports that the production of the smaller Peugeot e-208 is also going to be moved to Spain.

Citroen e-C4

Top 5 in March 2022 (PHEVs):
1. Mercedes GLC PHEV (228 units)
2. Peugeot 3008 PHEV (220 units)
3. Mercedes A-Class PHEV (193 units)
4. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV (151 units)
5. Jeep Compass PHEV (135 units)

The popularity of the Hyundai Tucson in Spain — it was the best-selling car/SUV in March regardless of the powertrain — apparently does not extend to the plug-in hybrid variant, which did not even make the top 5 of PHEVs.

And a note about the general state of the Spanish new car market: in the first three months of 2022, or Q1 2022, the market (164,000 units) is down compared the the same period of 2021 (186,000 units) which was down compared to the same period of 2020 (219,000 units) which was down compared to the same period of 2019 (317,000 units).
____

Sources: ANFAC, eu-evs.com, Faconauto.com

Sweden March 2022 Electric Car Sales and PHEV Sales

Almost one in three cars sold in Sweden in March 2022 was all-electric.

Tesla Model Y. Photo not taken in Sweden. Photo: Gold Pony

32% of new cars sold were all-electric (BEVs) and 24% of them were plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which brought the market share of plug-in cars to 56%.

Tesla traditionally delivers more vehicles at the end of each quarter (in March, June, September and December) than in other months. In March 2022, it propelled the Model Y to the first place among plug-ins in Sweden.

1363 units of the Model Y were registered last month. The Volkswagen Group’s trio of electric SUVs – the Volkswagen ID.4, the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Skoda Enyaq – achieved a similar result, but only if you add the numbers for these three models together.

The Model Y also took the #2 place among passenger vehicles overall (regardless of the powertrain). The best-selling passenger vehicle overall was the Volvo XC40, thanks to strong sales of both its plug-in and non-plug-in variants.

Volvo XC40 BEV. Photo not taken in Sweden. Photo: Alexander Migl

Top 10 in March 2022 (BEVs):
1. Tesla Model Y (1363 units)
2. Tesla Model 3 (990 units)
3. Volkswagen ID.4 (906 units)
4. Kia Niro EV (773 units)
5. Volvo XC40 BEV (596 units)
6. Polestar 2 (505 units)
7. Nissan Leaf (402 units)
8. BMW i3 (373 units)
9. Audi Q4 e-tron (328 units)
10. Kia EV6 (282 units)

Top 10 in March 2022 (PHEVs):
1. Volvo XC60 PHEV (805 units)
2. Volvo S60/V60 PHEV (532 units)
3. Kia Ceed SW PHEV (422 units)
4. Kia XCeed PHEV (324 units)
5. Ford Kuga PHEV (286 units)
6. Volvo S90/V90 PHEV (279 units)
7. Volvo XC40 PHEV (259 units)
8. Kia Niro PHEV (220 units)
9. Toyota RAV4 PHEV (212 units)
10. BMW X1 PHEV (211 units)

Top 10 in March 2022 (BEVs + PHEVs):
1. Tesla Model Y (1363 units)
2. Kia Niro BEV+PHEV (993 units)
3. Tesla Model 3 (990 units)
4. Volkswagen ID.4 (906 units)
5. Volvo XC40 BEV + PHEV (855 units)
6. Volvo XC60 PHEV (805 units)
7. Volvo S60/V60 PHEV (532 units)
8. Polestar 2 (505 units)
9. Kia Ceed SW PHEV (422 units)
10. Nissan Leaf (402 units)

I was a bit disappointed by the Kia EV6’s result. The Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 are some of the best electric vehicles on the market – so far – when it comes to reducing charging times, and bringing the experience of charging an EV a bit closer to fueling up an ICE vehicle.

(Yes, I have heard that charging an EV does not really take your time if you can charge at home: you pull into the garage, plug in the charging cable and that’s it. But there are people who cannot charge at home, and these people still need cars.)

As the Swedish plug-in vehicle market – once overwhelmingly dominated by PHEVs – is tilting more toward all-electric vehicles, one would expect that those models that can charge the fastest would be preferred by customers… So why the poor results?

Well, sales results should never be confused with customers’ preferences – certainly not when there are problems on the supply side. You do not need to do a lot of Googling to find out that wait times for electric cars became a problem in Sweden. In the case of the Kia EV6, they are especially long for the dual-motor AWD variant (there is also an RWD variant).

The older Kia Niro EV might be a great vehicle in its own right, but its comparatively good sales are probably helped by the fact that prospective customers do not need to wait that long.

Another observation: while the BMW iX (the large electric SUV) was selling like hotcakes in Norway, its sales in the neighboring Sweden were much lower, at less than 100 units in March. Maybe because deliveries are only starting; but it could also be that Swedes, when buying a car of that size, still have some cheaper options (especially options that come with a combustion engine onboard); Norwegians, with their taxation rules, not so much.

Year-to-date results (January-March 2022, or Q1 2022)

BEVs:
1. Kia Niro EV (2480 units)
2. Volkswagen ID.4 (2022 units)
3. Tesla Model Y (1954 units)

PHEVs:
1. Volvo XC60 PHEV (2057 units)
2. Kia Ceed SW PHEV (1334 units)
3. Volvo S60/V60 PHEV (1097 units)

BEVs + PHEVs:
1. Kia Niro BEV+PHEV (3146 units)
2. Volvo XC40 BEV+PHEV (2176 units)
3. Volvo XC60 PHEV (2057 units)

Year-to-date, the Kia Niro EV is the king of plug-in vehicles, followed by the Volvo XC60 PHEV. Or, if you count BEV and PHEV variants of the same model together, then the Kia Niro plug-in vehicle is the winner, but the second place goes to the smaller Volvo XC40.

Also, year-to-date, the VW ID.4 still maintains a small lead over the Model Y.

_____

Source: [1]

Note: the reason all major brands (except Tesla and Polestar) are showing in red in March 2022, some of them with registrations down by as much as 40% or 60%, is that these figures are in comparison to the same month of the previous year – and March 2021 was not a normal month. A year ago, in the face of upcoming changes to taxation, people rushed to buy cars, especially PHEVs and ICE cars, before these changes came into force. This brought the number of registrations in March 2021 to 40-something thousand, instead of the more typical 20-something thousand. So, compared to such a month, March 2022 obviously looks bleak, but it actually wasn’t a bad month for automakers.

Iceland 2021 Electric Car Sales and PHEV Sales

55% of new cars sold last year were plug-in electric.

Photo: Jakob Härter

BEVs (all-electric cars) were 28% of the market while PHEVs were 27%, bringing the total market share of plug-in cars to 55%.

For comparison, in 2020 these figures were 25%, 20% and 45%, respectively.

Tesla was the best-selling brand of plug-in cars (although not the best-selling brand overall – that is Kia). It actually sold more vehicles than the last year, but its share of the overall car market (8%) and of the plug-in car market (15%) are both lower than in the previous year, as these markets expanded a lot.

And, as Tesla’s sales were no longer dominated by the Model 3, but more or less evenly divided between the Model 3 and the Model Y, the best-selling car in Iceland (plug-in or not) is no longer a Tesla. The Model 3 topped the statistics in 2020, but in 2021 it was dethroned by the Toyota RAV4, with the two Teslas taking the rest of the podium.

And here are the statistics for plug-in cars only:

Top 3 all-electric cars (2021):
1. Tesla Model Y (537 units)
2. Tesla Model 3 (509 units)
3. Kia Niro EV (298 units)

The Nissan Leaf took the fourth place with 206 units – but, in addition to these new cars, there were a lot of used imports (more about that later).

Top 3 plug-in hybrid cars (2021):
1. Hyundai Tucson PHEV (341 units)
2. Kia Ceed PHEV (218 units)
3. Volvo XC60 (199 units)

Note: Statistics in this article (so far) cover only registrations of new (not used) passenger cars. The definition of a car for the purpose of these statistics includes minivans, passenger vans, crossovers, SUVs and serious 4WD vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser, but not cargo vehicles. When a vehicle is sold both as a cargo vehicle and as a passenger vehicle (e.g. the Nissan e-NV200), these statistics include only the passenger variant.

Used cars and “used” cars

Interestingly, among used cars/SUVs registered for the first time in Iceland last year (so, used imports) – still only passenger vehicles, excluding cargo vehicles - the share of plug-in vehicles is about 72%.

That’s right, higher than among new cars/SUVs. Most of them are PHEVs, not all-electrics.

The three most popular models, among these used imports, are the Outlander PHEV, the Leaf and the Tucson PHEV. As for the Tucson PHEV, which appeared on the European market in 2021, it is quite obvious that, despite showing up in the statistics as “used”, these SUVs are brand new vehicles. There were 269 such units registered in Iceland last year, a lot for a country with such a small population.

I recall something similar – a significant number of practically new plug-in cars showing up in statistics as “used” because they did not come via official distributors – happening in Norway.

In Iceland, counting used imports together with new cars changes the statistics a lot. The best-selling car/SUV overall in now the Tucson (744 units, including 610 PHEVs), followed by the RAV4 (638 units, including 121 PHEVs) and the Outlander (589 units, including, well, 589 PHEVs).

And statistics for plug-in cars now look like this:

Top 3 all-electric cars (2021, including used imports):
1. Tesla Model Y (539 units)
2. Tesla Model 3 (509 units)
3. Nissan Leaf (483 units)

Top 3 plug-in hybrid cars (2021, including used imports):
1. Hyundai Tucson PHEV (610 units)
2. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (589 units)
3. Volvo XC60 (241 units)

_____

Source: [1]

Thanks to bifreidatolur.samgongustofa.is for providing the statistics.

California Is Getting Serious About Grid Batteries

At the moment, batteries are not yet an important source of grid electricity. Except in California, where they are.

Saticoy energy storage facility. Photo: Arevon Asset Management

As long as power generation is dominated by fossil fuels, electricity from grid-connected solar farms or wind farms usually does not go to waste; even when generation from renewables is (temporarily) high, it is still consumed in full; this is balanced by burning a little less natural gas or coal. However, as you decrease the share of fossil fuels and get closer and closer to an all-renewables grid, you will soon encounter a problem: the problem of energy storage, because supply (generation from solar and wind) does not want to follow the demand.

If you cannot store that excess green electricity somewhere, to be used later when power generation from renewables is low, the gap in supply will be filled by fossil fuels. Companies investing in solar farms will be happy (because they will hold a large share of the market), fossil fuel companies will be happy (because they will still hold a large share of the market), but pumping CO2 into the atmosphere will continue.

California’s solution to the storage problem is to use a lot of batteries. Not something analogous to batteries, but actual batteries – of the kind that, two decades ago, were not commonly used is anything bigger than a laptop.

If it’s stupid but it works…

It is not the first time that some low-CO2 technology seems too impractical to be deployed on a large scale, and then actually gets deployed on a large scale.

For example: are electric cars feasible? The energy density of Li-ion batteries is like 10-20 times lower than usable energy density of gasoline (and that is after correcting for the gasoline engine’s low efficiency). So, naturally, an electric car, with its batteries weighing 10-20 times more than the contents of a normal car’s fuel tank, would be prohibitively heavy.

And are electric cars a real thing in 2022? Yes, they are.

Now let’s imagine an electricity grid that relies not on fossil fuels, not on nuclear, not on hydro, but on solar and wind; mostly solar. Sources which are, obviously, intermittent. How do you get a steady, reliable stream of electricity from sources that are simply not steady? If the prevailing energy source is solar, not wind – and the sun disappears only for hours, not days – how about a partial solution: batteries that can power the grid for a few hours – just a few hours, not the whole night – after sunset?

Batteries than can power the grid. Not a long time ago, the whole idea would have been laughed off, but California is already 2.5 GW past laughing. This is how much utility-scale battery storage CAISO had at the end of 2021. The overwhelming majority of it was installed during 2021. CAISO is the operator serving about 80% of California’s population.

It would be interesting to see how much battery storage California has in terms of GWh (so the total capacity – not the maximum power output).

And according to CAISO’s website, the California Public Utilities Commission’s draft preferred system plan calls for 12,000 MW [12 GW] of installed utility scale batteries by 2025.

Who’s next?

There are alternatives to battery energy storage, one of the most obvious ones being the dispatchability of hydropower. So, lessons from California should matter especially to countries/regions which cannot use the second option – because they have a low share of hydropower in overall electricity generation but good conditions for solar power. Like Australia.

China, on the other hand, does have a lot of hydroelectric capacity and is adding more (with just two recent projects, Baihetan and Wudongde, adding 26 GW of hydro capacity overall), which can be used to smooth out the intermittency of solar and wind. But still, it has laid out an ambitious plan to add gigawatts of battery storage in the coming years.
___

Source: [1]