Electric Car Takes to the Road
L.P. PADALKO, D.Sc. Economics, Professor, chief research officer at the Institute of Economics, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus F.F. IVANOV, senior research officer at the Institute of Economics, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus
The rate of motorization in Belarus is one of the highest among the former Soviet Union countries: 337.8 vehicles per 1,000 residents. As of 1 January 2013, there were 3,817,792 vehicles in Belarus. Of them 2,774,832 were privately owned cars. Over the past 10 years, the number of cars in Belarus has increased more than 2 times. As compared to the pre-perestroika period this number has grown more than 8 times, but the infrastructure has largely remained the same.
Oil motor fuel is not cheap as it requires substantial foreign currency expenses on the import of crude oil and on its refining. Out of the total oil delivered to Belarus, about 6 million tonnes are used for domestic needs in the form of various oil products (mostly motor fuels). The burning of oil fuel has a negative impact on the environment due to harmful emissions that affect human health, flora and fauna. Given the fact that crude oil is not cheap it is important to decrease the consumption of oil fuel by substituting it with a cheaper source of energy. For example, it could be electricity generated from nuclear fuel or renewable energy sources.
The importance of resolving the environmental problem is obvious. Now it is global in nature as the emissions of greenhouse gases lead to global warming. One of these greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide CO2 emitted during combustion of oil fuel. The land is polluted by emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds, lead and other chemical elements.
Today the prices in the voluntary carbon market are slightly lower than in the market compliant with the Kyoto Protocol. The Western countries agreed to calculate the CO2 reduction units in tonnes, and one tonne costs € 8-10 today. However, experts predict that as the new climate agreement comes into force, the prices will rise significantly.
Another important thing which is regulated by the Belarus president’s Decree No. 625 dated 8 December 2010 “Concerning the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” is the provision of benefits. Enterprises are exempt from taxes on profits from the funds earned on the projects to reduce CO2 emissions. Today, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection is considering 27 project proposals. Their implementation will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48 million tonnes. All of them have received letters of support from the environmental protection agency. The largest projects have been submitted by the Energy Ministry, Belneftekhim Concern, the Forestry Ministry, which is implementing a re-swamping program, and the Transport Ministry.
One of the most important measures to reduce the negative impact of transport on the environment may be the conversion from liquid motor fuel to electrical energy, i.e. electric traction. Electric vehicles (EV) run on the electric
engine instead of the internal combustion engine. Energy is produced by batteries which can accumulate a large amount of energy. Today electric cars run on lithium-ion batteries which last several hundred kilometers and are rechargeable. The world has gained a great deal of experience in the use of electric vehicles. To charge batteries we need electrical energy sources, i.e. power plants. Yet, we need power plants running on nonfossil fuel to rule out pollutant emissions. As such we can use power plants running on renewable energy, particularly wind, solar, hydropower. These could also be nuclear power plants as they do not release harmful emissions. Thus, while promoting the use of electric vehicles we will not shift the burden of harmful emissions from transport to power plants.
The analysis of the international market shows that the electric vehicle is becoming a more serious alternative to the conventional car in the eyes of consumers. According to the analytical agency BNFF, 225,000 electric cars were sold globally in 2013. In 2012, the United States accounted for 46% of the sales, Europe and Japan for 23% each. Today, nearly a third of American consumers show an interest in buying an electric car as the second vehicle in a family. There are as many potential buyers in other countries. For example, 57% of the motorists in Israel are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle, 40% in Denmark, 39% in Australia, and 35% in Canada. Nearly half of consumers across all demographic groups are prepared to consider switching from the car with the gasoline engine to an electric car.
Germany has planned three phases for the development of its market of electric vehicles and infrastructure: the preparation and development of the electric car market by 2014; market growth and reaching the planned volumes by 2017; the mature mass market by 2020. Plans have been made to design and bring to the market more than 15 new models of electric vehicles during the first phase.
In addition to the EV design efforts, there are plans to launch the production of battery packs and wheel control systems, upgrade the recharging network, and develop a network of power stations running on renewable energy. In this respect we can expect a sharp increase in the production of renewable electric energy.
Due to the rapid development of electric car innovations, a number of Western countries have adopted 10-year-long electric car and plug-in hybrid programs. These programs envisage infrastructure development (charging stations) and elaboration of a legal framework and standards to regulate safe operation of electric cars and their recycling. These programs are in the stage of implementation with their first phase already completed. The preparatory phase included the production of prototypes and EV industrial models, the launch of small-batch manufacturing and the
installation of charging stations across cities and regions.
These programs require considerable investments in the development of the market, personnel training, and financial support system for EV buyers. In Norway the purchase of an electric car nets $8,200 in subsidies from the state. To make an electric car an economically sound alternative the government offers tax concessions, free or cheap parking space, and access to bus lanes.
The experience of the countries where electric cars already hum along the streets shows that the key problem for this vehicle is the development of the supporting infrastructure, which requires the biggest efforts. Many specialists believe that it would be much easier if electric cars recharged from the standard power grid. The point was taken by electric carmakers to roll off a Volvo C30E that recharges its battery from 220-volt household outlet. The battery needs at least eight hours to recharge.
Special recharging stations are also needed. The matter is that modern battery packs can charge in 20 minutes when the charge current is increased. For example, Toshiba batteries can recharge with the speed of 2-3% per minute. The Japanese firm guarantees a five-year service life for such a battery. Rapid charge battery packs and recharging stations are in widespread use in the United States.
Germany unveiled its National Electric Mobility Platform (NEMP) in 2009. It laid a foundation for a program that the country adopted in 2011 to develop its EV market. A total of € 500 million was allocated to implement the program in 20092011. Another € 180 million was earmarked for pilot projects in 2012. The financing of the program is expected to reach € 17 billion in the future. It is hoped that the total output of electric cars and plug-in hybrids in Germany will make up at least 1 million units by 2020 and 6 million by 2030.
The government also supports designers and producers of renewable energy generating equipment. The government offers incentives for the purchase of a car with CO emissions of no
2 more than 50g/km in Germany and Norway, which include vehicle tax exemptions, additional parking space, access to special zones and public bus lanes. The German federal government required that from 2013 at least 10% of all new or leased government cars must emit less than 50g CO2 /km. This is believed to give an additional exposure to electric vehicles.
In China motor transport consumes over one third of the oil products used in the country. A sharp growth is projected in car making (the number of cars will exceed 200 million units by 2020) and this will make China’s totally dependent on oil imports. In 2013 air pollution in 90% of China’s biggest cities was below environmental standards. 80% of pollution is caused by motor vehicle emissions. In response China announced its Action Plan for Air Pollution Control for 2013-2017. One of its main objectives is to increase the share of renewable energy sources to at least 15% by 2020, 28-32% by 2030 and 30-40% by 2050.
In 2011 the State Council of China approved the energy-saving and new-energy car industry program (2011-2020). It was later (in 2013) specified by the government’s
resolution concerning the plan of energy-efficient car production in 2013-2020 taking into account that in 2003-2013 China injected $300 million in its energy-saving car industry. The program envisaged over $15 billion in investment in the production of cars running on new types of energy within the next 10 years. Apart from that, $15 billion was allocated to develop the relevant charging infrastructure. The program aims to turn China into a world leader in green car production, to increase the country’s share in the world electric car output from 2.7% in 2015 to 35% in 2020. It is expected that China will manufacture up to 4 million electric cars a year by 2020.
Russia’s Testing Center for Motor Vehicles, Spare Parts and Accessories (NAMI) tested plug-in hybrids and electric cars in 2012. Among them was the Russian electric car EL Lada offering a mileage of 162km with energy consumption at 160 watt-hour per 1km. That corresponds to RUB0.4 with the current tariffs of RUB2.5 per 1kWh.
Belarus has a potential for electric car development and needs the relevant supporting infrastructure. There is a refuelling station in Borovaya in Minsk which opened a charging point several months ago. Belneftekhim Concern has announced a plan to develop the necessary charging infrastructure. This work has just begun. It is worth mentioning that electric vehicles require the relevant infrastructure across towns and cities, which needs substantial funding.
Virtually no investments are required for slow charging. All is needed is a regular power socket. Dozens of millions of U.S. dollars or euros are needed to create fast charging facilities (in accordance with the available data, the battery is charged by 80% in 30 minutes). This is an ambitious program. Creation and enlargement of the EV fleet will be accompanied by the construction of a recharging network.
In our opinion, the state should supervise infrastructure development projects. If the state decides to raise the number of electric cars, it should offer reduced duties and also stimulate the construction of recharging stations by means of reducing the cost of imported equipment and promoting energy saving programs.
The United States and European countries provide subsidies to the owners of electric cars: if the owner fulfills a number of conditions, the state returns nearly a half of the car’s price. The state interested in raising the number of electric vehicles is expected not only to zero the duties but also to create conditions for the augmentation of the network, cheapening of equipment, establishment of facilities to produce this equipment. Swing the pendulum, spur the interest of people, and the ball will start rolling.
As soon as the number of electric cars in the country increases, more parking lots can be equipped with charging devices. To arrange slow charging it is enough to equip parking lots with electrical interconnection. Charging one hundred cars fast is more difficult to accomplish.
Viable and Efficient
Due to the commissioning of the Belarusian nuclear power plant with the output capacity of 2,400MW, the Belarusian power system will face problems with covering the daily intermediate and peak load demand and, especially, the falling demand during night hours. It is explained by the fact that immediately after the commissioning of the nuclear power plant in 2020 there will be redundant power output, while during night hours the electrical load of the power system will be reduced to 64% of the maximum level. It is worth saying that the nuclear power plant can operate only with a permanent load, whereas operation in a variable regime, i.e. in a load/unload mode, is virtually impossible and dangerous as it can cause an accident. During night hours in the winter season the generation of heat power as well as the generation of electric energy at the NPP can be considered must-run generation as it is attributed to the thermal capacity. The sum of these two generating capacities, except for the capacities of other power plants, exceeds the required amount. This issue can be partially solved by
unloading CHP plants operating on the thermal load schedule. It means that part of thermal load should be transferred from extraction turbines to power boilers. This practice is already used because the problem exists even without the nuclear power plant. Although it worsens the performance of CHP plants, this measure is necessary. It is also possible to raise the electric demand during night hours. This energy can be consumed by electric transport.
Therefore, there are three reasons for the development of electric car technology. First, it is beneficial for the energy production system as in this case the operation mode of the nuclear power plant correlates with the operation mode of the power system since the launch of two large power units (1,200 MW each) at the nuclear power plant, as mentioned above, will create problems for the energy generation system as it will have to deal with the power consumption drop during night hours. It is especially important in winter when the total energy output of the nuclear power plant shall be added to the heat generation capacity of all CHP plants which makes up about 3,000 MW.
The second reason is about economic benefits. The conversion from liquid oil fuel to electric energy which is used to charge batteries during night hours will result in big cost savings. A simple example can illustrate the idea. Let’s suggest that a passenger vehicle consumes 10 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers. If the cost of petrol is Br11,000 per liter, then your expenses on petrol for 100 kilometers will be Br110,000. According to the available data, an electric car consumes 0.2 kWh per 1 kilometer on average. Then the consumption of electricity per 100 kilometers will make up 20 kWh. If the electric energy generated by a nuclear power plant is used to recharge batteries, the cost of 1 kWh will make up approximately $0.05. By the way, nuclear fuel is almost five times cheaper than natural gas used in thermal power plants. As a result, the cost of electricity for 100 kilometers will make up $1 or about Br15,000. Obviously, electric traction is 7.3 times cheaper than the use of oil fuel (Br110,000 vs. Br15,000). It is worth mentioning that eclectic traction motors operate with a 90-95% capacity, while the efficiency of a petrol engine is 20-40%.
By the way, oil reserves will be depleted some time in the future. Even today the production of oil in a number of countries is declining, and it is the main reason why prices for oil products keep rising. As a consequence, this hinders the development of economies of certain countries and the global economy in general. Given the fact that 80% of mechanical energy used by man in his activities is produced by internal combustion engines, we must think about the use of alternative non-oil energy sources.
The third reason is environment. Nowadays motor vehicles emit a huge amount of pollutants which have a detrimental effect on people’s health and flora. Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the global climate change. An extensive use of cars in urban areas raises the proportion of exhaust gases in the air. Damage from the aforementioned emissions is difficult to quantify. However, Russian experts say that in money terms this damage can be estimated at $0.75 per $1 of used fuel. This figure can help get a more objective assessment of the efficiency of various environmental
The experience of the countries where electric cars already hum along the streets shows that the key problem for this vehicle is the development of the supporting infrastructure, which requires the biggest efforts
One of the most important measures
to reduce the negative impact of transport on the environment may be the conversion from liquid motor fuel
to electrical energy