Happening in 2018

January 02, 2018 by Denis Pombriant

This will be an important transition year. Car makers are poised to bring to market scores of new electric models in 2019, so in the lead up to that moment, this year will be a time when we all become more familiar with the terms and conditions of electric driving. Charging times, driving range, and battery life will become topics of serious conversation. We’ll also begin thinking about how much driving we each do in a day and how this need fits with the battery capabilities about to be launched.

For example, many car makers plan to bring to market models that get about 185 miles on a charge or about 300 km. That should be more than enough to get to and from work and on most occasions it should be a fine driving range for suburban Saturday errands. But if you need more then you’ll also be very interested in the discussion of charging stations in public garages and city lots.

Auto manufacturers will be participating in a slow conversion of their fleets and all of them will continue selling internal combustion engine-based cars well into the future. In fact, most manufacturers will sell mostly gas-powered cars in the initial ramp up. For instance, in 2017 the industry sold about 200,000 EV’s while it also sold 17 million conventional cars.

The slow ramp is a good thing too because it’s unclear if the electric utilities have the capacity to charge the huge number of EV’s that we’ll have on the roads in 10 or 20 years. So in addition to bringing actual cars to market, we’ll most likely have conversations about generation options like solar and wind and how to construct that capacity. But also look out for some new terms—geothermal and space-based solar panels (SBSP).

Geothermal refers to capturing earth’s heat to generate power. It’s a proven technology discussed in The Age of Sustainability and it can add significantly to baseload capacity. SBSP’s are a little further out there. This solution offers great promise because the sky is a pretty big place and because solar panels operate 5 to 10 times as efficiently in space because there’s no atmosphere to filter the solar radiation. SBSP’s are probably a few years out since they’ll require some infrastructure funding, but the technology is solid.

All of this kicks off now and accelerates in 2019. If you’ve ever wondered how major economic change gets started this is it. At first the change is barely perceptible but soon it’s an unstoppable force. Cloud computing was like that at the turn of the last century and now look at it.



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