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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a study on renewable energy policies for cities last month. The reason for the focus on cities is due to their ability to scale up renewables and meet emission-reduction targets. Large cities have the revenue bases, regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure to support this while smaller ones usually don’t.

The study pointed out that it’s mostly cities that are raising awareness and moving towards energy transitions. Smaller and even medium-sized cities that have 1 million or fewer inhabitants usually don’t have the funding or political support to embrace renewables, and they are also not as highly visible as megacities.

The study analyzed six medium-sized cities from China, Uganda, and Costa Rica. They were chosen due to two reasons:

  1. They have effective policies in place, or
  2. They have untapped renewable energy sources that could launch their sustainable development.

A Quick Look At The Study

The study takes a dive into the challenges and successes that are seen in the deployment of renewable energy in medium-sized cities and provides case studies of the six cities studied. A quick look at the executive summary shows that these cities have a population range from 30,000 to 1 million inhabitants.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Altogether, cities are responsible for around 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas have high rates of air pollution as well, with 98% of cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries failing to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) air quality guidelines.

Renewable energy technologies (RETs) play a central role in easing the severity of climate change while providing cleaner air. Research is often focused on the urban trends of particular sets of global megacities and doesn’t really focus any attention on cities with 1 million or fewer inhabitants, which is the fastest growing category and home to some 2.4 billion people (59% of the world’s total urban population).

Cities are motivated to promote renewables by several factors, such as:

  • Economic development and jobs.
  • Social equity.
  • Governance.
  • Air quality.
  • Secure and affordable energy.
  • Such as access to clean energy.
  • Climate stability.
  • Energy-related policymaking requires a lot of flexibility — it involves governance structures and processes as well as the diverse motivations of many stakeholders.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Cities’ plans need to be tailored to their own circumstances, and some factors shaping city energy profiles include:

  • Demographic trends.
  • Climate zone.
  • Ownership of energy assets.
  • Settlement density.
  • Regulatory authority.
  • Institutional capacity.
  • Economic structure and wealth.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Case Studies 1 & 2: Chongli District and Tongli Town

The two cities in this section are Chongli District and Tongli Town. In the cases of these two Chinese cities, the study found that both benefit from the availability of large-scale renewable energy projects, with wind and solar being the best options. It has a level of existing deployment which provides a solid base for the cities’ ambitious targets compared to other cities where renewables aren’t as present.

The Chinese cities benefit from the availability of financial resources that target renewable energy deployment. Tongli Town receives support from its upper-level administration, which has one of the largest revenue streams among Chinese city governments.

Tongli Town is one of the most replicable in developed cities that resemble Suzhou. Although Zhangjiakou City isn’t as wealthy as Suzhou, the Chongli District was able to receive financial support from the national government as a result of the Winter Olympics.

Its example shows that distributed renewables could also play a large role in cities. PV generation systems could be deployed outside of highly populated city centers, for example. Tongli Town also benefits from the relationship between local governments and local manufacturing industries that deploy RETs.

Showcase events such as the Winter Olympics also help a city gain visibility — this is what happened with the Chongli District. It and the Zhangjiakou Municipality linked the development targets of local renewables with the hosting arrangements of the Winter Olympics. This focused political attention and financial support on renewable energy projects.

Cross-governmental collaboration and existing manufacturing industries benefitting from renewable deployment also played key roles.

Case Studies 3 & 4: Kasese and Lugazi

This case study focused on the Ugandan cities of Kasese and Lugazi. Uganda has a variety of energy resources that includes hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat, and fossil fuels. Yet only 20% of the population has access to electricity. The World Bank estimated in 2017 that only 2% of the nation’s population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.

In Uganda, renewable energy deployment benefits the local communities in many ways while boosting socio-economic goals. In both Lugazi and Kasese, solar street lighting and solar home systems (SHSs) massively saved both municipalities and households while extending business hours for street sellers. It’s also improved public safety and telecommunications, which led to the creation of job opportunities.

Ugandan cities face obstacles to greater local deployment. Institutional constraints, such as narrow political mandates and tight municipal finances, present huge obstacles to effective policy action. Scaling up projects will need greater funding as well as capacity building. This requires a national enabling framework that supports the local government at the district and municipal levels. Kasese and Lugazi have benefited from initiatives targeting sustainable energy at the district level.

Financial resources for both district and municipal governments are needed. Renewables may offer savings in the long run, but the upfront costs usually surpass the funds available to Uganda’s municipalities and districts. For now, initiatives such as solar street lighting are usually linked to third-party financing support. An example of this is the World Bank’s Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme.

Case Studies 5 & 6: Cartago and Grecia, and Guanacaste

Costa Rica has a population of around 5 million people and is the smallest of the three countries that were studied in the report. Some key questions discussed in the country include what role is played by the public and private sectors and what degree to which electricity generation should be based on centralized and decentralized sources. Some of the key issues and challenges that shape the nation’s efforts to promote the use of renewable energy include:

  • Mandates.
  • Strengthening cities’ ability to act with a diverse set of actors.
  • Transport as the next frontier.

For cities without the mandate, their scopes of action are limited and this is one of the main obstacles to a sustainable urban future. In the case of Cartago and Grecia, the cities have taken active measures to promote green policies in the transport and tourism sectors. Costa Rica’s “capital of renewable energy,” Guanacaste, has hosted several projects in the fields of wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

Another key lesson from the study in the case of Costa Rica is that when the share of renewables in the electricity mix is already high, transport becomes the next frontier. Compared to Columbia, Panama, and Chile, Costa Rica has a lack of municipal transport. The other countries are advancing with electric buses and other electric-mobility projects and these contrast with Costa Rica.

You can read the full 158-page report here.


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BYD nears huge Mexico EV plant deal with 50,000 sales in sight this year

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BYD nears huge Mexico EV plant deal with 50,000 sales in sight this year

China’s leading automaker, BYD, is rapidly expanding its global footprint. BYD is closing in on a deal for an EV plant in Mexico, which is expected to be among the biggest in the region.

After already becoming an EV leader in overseas markets like Thailand, Israel, and Australia, BYD is rapidly expanding its presence in South America.

BYD began construction on its manufacturing plant in Brazil earlier this year. Once up and running, it will produce BYD’s top-selling EVs, including the Dolphin, Dolphin Mini (Seagull), and Yuan Plus.

Sales are surging after launching its cheapest EV in Brazil in March, the $20,000 (99,800 BRL) Seagull (called the Dolphin Mini overseas).

According to data from Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry, Trade, and Services, passenger car imports were up 46.4% YOY in the first three months of 2024. Chinese vehicles accounted for 40% of the total, as imports surged 450% from Q1 2023.

BYD led the growth with nearly 15,000 of the total 36,090 EVs sold in Brazil in Q1. China’s GWM was second with 5,735, while Toyota took third with 5,049.

BYD-Mexico-EV-plant
BYD Dolphin Mini (Seagull) testing in Brazil (Source: BYD)

BYD is opening a massive EV plant in Mexico

Reports have been swirling about BYD building an EV plant in Mexico for some time as the automaker expands its North American footprint.

In February, Zhou Zou confirmed BYD is considering a factory in the country. Zou explained that Mexico is a key market with great potential. It could also be used as an export hub to other overseas markets.

BYD-Mexico-EV-plant
BYD Dolphin (left) and Atto 3 (right) Source: BYD

Mexico is quickly becoming a hot spot for EV investments. Kia revealed it will build EVs in the region. BMW, Stellantis, and Tesla are also planning to build electric models.

According to Jorge Vallejo, BYD’s general director in Mexico (via Automotive News), the new EV plant will create around 10,000 jobs. This would make it one of the largest in the country, on par with Volkswagen’s Audi.

BYD-Mexico-EV-plant
BYD Shark launch event (Source: BYD)

The VW Group’s Puebla plant is the largest employer in the city, with roughly 6,100 assembly and 5,000 supervisor employees. That doesn’t include the thousands of other workers who work in parts assembly.

According to Vallejo, BYD is expected to sell 50,000 vehicles in Mexico this year. An official announcement about the Mexico plant is expected in the next few months.

BYD-Shark-pickup
BYD Shark PHEV pickup (Source: BYD)

The news comes after BYD launched its first pickup, the Shark PHEV, in Mexico last month. Starting at $53,400 (899,980 pesos), the BYD Shark will rival other top pickups in the region, like the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.

According to BYD, the Shark pickup has 7.5 L per 100 km fuel consumption, about 40% less than a full gas-powered truck. BYD plans to launch the Shark PHEV globally, and Mexico will likely be a key part of its overseas expansion.

Electrek’s Take

After the EU revealed plans for additional tariffs on Chinese EV imports, BYD seems to be unfazed in its quest to expand globally.

With higher prices, BYD makes more on EVs sold in Europe than in China. Local production in Mexico, like Thailand, Brazil, and Europe, will enable lower prices and higher profits.

Mexico is already a key player in the EV market. However, with Canada now also calling for additional tariffs on Chinese imports, Mexico will likely see more investments as automakers look to enter the US market.

Meanwhile, BYD is taking on other markets, including South Korea. BYD plans to launch low-cost EVs like the Seal in Korea, where domestic automakers like Hyundai and Kia control the market.

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Canada reportedly preparing tariffs on Chinese EVs to align with US and EU trade partners

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Canada reportedly preparing tariffs on Chinese EVs to align with US and EU trade partners

The threat of tariffs and an all-out trade war over Chinese EVs is expanding globally, and Canada is reportedly joining the turmoil. The Canadian government is preparing tariffs on Chinese-made EVs to align with the US and European Union, which have already proposed heavy duties to deter “unfair” competition imported from overseas.

Another day, another update on the ongoing battle over EVs built in China and the attempts by those local automakers to expand their global presence.

You probably know a lot about the background of this saga by now. Still, this tale began when the EU Commission announced an anti-subsidy probe last fall, claiming that EV models built in China and imported to the region were at an unfair advantage.

As the EU conducted its probe, the US, led by the Biden Administration, wasted no time upping the duties on Chinese EV imports in the US, raising tariffs from 25% to a whopping 100%. The EU Commission followed suit, threatening its own tariffs before even sharing the results of its probe.

In retaliation, China has threatened tariffs on vehicles imported from Europe, inciting German automakers to reach across the aisle (and the globe) to help ease tensions and hopefully said tariffs. The EU’s tariffs on Chinese EVs can go as high as 48% and are scheduled to take effect in less than two weeks.

According to a new report, Canada is the latest nation to enter the EV tariff battle. The country holds strong ties with the US and EU and looks to align with its trade partners in solidarity while blocking a potential loophole China could use to enter North America.

Canada tariffs
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada urges Trudeau to impose tariffs on Chinese EVs

According to sources familiar with the matter, the government of Canada, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is preparing tariffs on imported EVs built in China, per a Bloomberg report.

The tariff talks are still in the early stages as Canada discusses how and when to proceed. Still, the US neighbors to the north appear poised to align with its trade partners against China. Furthermore, Canadian officials who requested to stay anonymous shared that public consultations on tariffs will begin soon.

Trudeau and his administration have faced increased pressure from the Canadian people and other democratic allies to join rank against Chinese imports. On Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford took to X to accuse China of poor local manufacturing practices in building its inexpensive EVs:

Taking every advantage of low labour standards and dirty energy, China is flooding the market with artificially cheap electric vehicles. Unless we act fast, we risk Ontario and Canadian jobs.

Over the last four years, Ontario has a secured $43 billion worth of investments in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing, securing hundreds of thousands of good, well-paying jobs. This has been an all-hands-on-deck achievement, working side-by-side with the federal government and our private-sector labour partners.

We can never take our progress for granted. Our workers are the best in the world. As governments, we need to do everything in our power to protect their jobs and the paycheques they take home.

Now’s the time to work with our U.S. partners to deepen and strengthen home-grown, US-Canada supply chains. Now’s the time to protect good, hard-earned Ontario and Canadian jobs by matching U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

Despite growing pressure, Prime Minister Trudeau has not publicly committed to Canada imposing tariffs on Chinese EVs, stating the cabinet is monitoring the situation closely, and he had “significant conversations” at the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Italy last week.

Canada’s auto industry has also called on its government to impose tariffs on Chinese EV imports, arguing that the nation cannot be on the opposite side of the issue with the US, a major trade partner in North America with which it shares several automotive supply chains.

Canada saw the number of Chinese imports grow by fivefold last year, including a majority of EVs built by Tesla in Shanghai. However, Canada’s focus, like that of the US and EU, is more on tariffs on vehicles from China-based automakers like BYD.

Meanwhile, Chinese automakers like BYD are already setting up manufacturing sites in Mexico, which has welcomed the business and has opened the door to at least some EV sales in North America.

This story is ongoing.

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U.S. crude oil on pace for second weekly gain as gasoline demand surges

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U.S. crude oil on pace for second weekly gain as gasoline demand surges

Investment committee talks the energy trade as oil hits $80 per barrel

U.S. crude oil was on pace Friday for a second weekly gain in a row, as gasoline demand has surged to post-pandemic highs.

Oil prices traded flat Friday morning but are ahead more than 3.6% for the week. Gasoline consumption in the U.S. surged to 9.4 million barrels per day, or bpd, last week, the highest level for that time of year since the Covid-19 pandemic ended, according to JPMorgan.

“Gasoline demand in the US has been on a steady rise since the Memorial Day weekend and we expect a further advance as record 71 million Americans are expected to travel during the upcoming July 4th holiday,” JPMorgan analyst Prateek Kedia told clients in a research note.

Here are today’s energy prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate June contract: $81.28 per barrel, down 1 cent. Year to date, U.S. crude oil has gained 13.5%.
  • Brent August contract: $85.68 per barrel, down 3 cents. Year to date, the global benchmark is ahead by 11.2%.
  • RBOB Gasoline June contract: $2.51 per gallon, up 0.58%. Year to date, gasoline is up 19.5%.
  • Natural Gas July contract: $2.72 per thousand cubic feet, down 0.02%. Year to date, gas has increased 8.3%.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said prices at the pump could rise after U.S. oil, gasoline, and distillate stocks all fell for the first time in weeks, indicating stronger demand.

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WTI vs. Brent

Global oil demand has risen by 1.4 million bpd so far this month on U.S. gas consumption and robust summer travel in Europe and Asia, according to JPMorgan. Oil inventories rose by 15 million barrels in the second week of June as China restocked, though the investment bank is forecasting drawdowns later this summer.

JPMorgan is forecasting a Brent price of $90 per barrel by September as the market tightens on falling stockpiles due to summer fuel demand.

Don’t miss these energy stories from CNBC PRO:

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