Plug it in, baby!

A corner has been turned in both the transportation and energy games.

Glance back over the history of science fiction and you will find a recurring dream many writers had for the future: flying cars. While vessels packed with people speeding overhead is still an illusion – and that’s probably a good thing – another dream for the daily commute is very real: electric vehicles.

And they’ve just turned an important corner, thanks to a large degree by the Chinese dislike for face masks.

Pollution is a major problem in Chinese cities, and without the trifles of democratic bureaucracy, the government’s answer has been both swift and explicit.

One reaction has been the rapid rollout of electric buses. According to Bloomberg, in 2017 99% of the world’s electric buses could be found quietly buzzing around Chinese roads.

Furthermore, China adds another approximately 9500 electric buses to their network every 5 weeks. All those buses need a support infrastructure, and that’s good for research and development of the necessary technology, the outcome of which is often reduction in costs and increase in uptake.

And not just in China.

As batteries get cheaper and better, the cost per kilowatt-hour falls further. Result: EVs (electric vehicles) take less time to charge, go further per charge, and cost less.

There’s a flipside to all of this, and, for once, it’s not altogether all that bad; unless you’re in the oil business. As you can imagine, with China’s economic power, the impact of cutting back on its demand for carbon-based fuel has been felt worldwide.

It’s been calculated that for every 1000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels of diesel fuel are displaced from the market every day. At first glance, that may not sound a lot, but it all adds up when you’re talking China.

Crunch the figures and you get an equivalent of a supertanker of diesel fuel displaced from the market by Chinese electric buses every day.

That’s a lot of fuel to hide under the carpet.

The energy and transportation games are linked to oil, and the oil market is a volatile beast at best. The Chinese concern for pollution, and the electric buses they’ve embraced, have added fuel to the fire.

[This article originally appeared in the publication Fox Bytes (you can view it here) and on the mindofafox Growing Foxes app in the week of 21 May 2018. Growing Foxes is a school strategic intelligence programme designed by mindofafox. It is being piloted in a number of leading schools in the UK and South Africa. The app serves to support those students currently engaging with the programme. Click on the logo to find out more]

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