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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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This guy built a six-seater electric bike for $150, and it absolutely rips

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This guy built a six-seater electric bike for 0, and it absolutely rips

I’ve always enjoyed multi-seater electric bikes, which bring passenger-carrying utility to small-format, easy-to-produce vehicles. But I never thought I’d see the concept taken this far. At least not until I stumbled upon a six-seater electric bike that has me all kinds of jealous.

It’s no surprise where this custom e-bike originated. If you want to see the most creative and ingenious transportation solutions in the world, you have to head over to Asia.

The Chinese often get a lot of credit for some of the more wacky vehicles popping up on Alibaba, but India usually takes the cake with some of the coolest auto and motorcycle innovation on the planet. And that’s exactly where this impressive six-seater bike comes from, where it was hand-built by Ashhad Abdullah from Lohra in eastern India.

Abdullah seems to have caught my recent Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week entry for a three-seater electric bike and said “Hold my lassi.”

Flip-flops and no helmets, but at least he’s wearing a mask!

Instead of a three-seater, Abdullah doubled the capacity to six seats. His stretch-limousine electric bike looks like it wears a scooter fork on front complete with drum brake, off-road lighting kit, and even a motorcycle horn. The rear seems to hold a hub motor wheel in a swingarm supported by dual coilover shocks. There’s a battery box mounted just in front of the swingarm, though how much capacity he’s rocking seems to be a mystery.

Bridging the two ends of the bike is a bespoke ladder frame with six seats, six handlebars, and six pairs of foot pegs.

There’s no word on the turning radius, but we’d wager it’s somewhere around the width of the state of Bihar.

Abdullah created the custom-designed bike after climbing fuel prices made petrol-powered motorcycles less appealing. In total, he says the bike cost him around 12,000 INR (US $150) to build.

It gets a range of around 150 km (93 miles) and costs around 10 INR (US $0.12) to recharge.

I’m not sure if this is technically an e-bike, at least by electric bicycle standards. It certainly looks like a tandem-style bicycle setup with bicycle seats, but the lack of pedals means it would be classified more like an electric scooter or motorcycle.

But whatever you call it, the six-seater bike has received a warm reception around the world.

The novel creation went viral on Twitter after a video of it in action was reposted by Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra Group, one of the largest automakers in India (and similar in size to GM).

It’s unlikely we’d see an awesome ride like this in the West, where safety regulations and an unhealthy aversion to two wheels would likely make this six-seater dead on arrival.

I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to argue with the safety concerns, especially when seeing six helmet-less heads and a few bare feet as well.

There are some good alternatives available in the US, at least if you’re alright with just two-seater e-bikes. But with options like a $999 Lectric XP 3.0 or a $1,499 RadRunner helping put more riders on smaller electric vehicles, the chances for sharing the fun on e-bikes are growing, even in laggard countries like the US.

We may never get six bodies on one bike, but even two would be a good start!

via: TimesNowNews

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Tesla launches in Thailand, opens Model 3 and Y orders at competitive prices

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Tesla launches in Thailand, opens Model 3 and Y orders at competitive prices

Tesla has officially launched in Thailand and opened orders for Model 3 and Model Y at competitive prices.

It has been a little while since Tesla has expanded into a brand-new market. The company was trying hard to enter the Indian market for years, but the effort was put on hold earlier this year after negotiations with the government stalled.

A few weeks later, we learned that Tesla’s new market team turned its attention to Southeast Asia, and more specifically Thailand.

The automaker filed to register its product for sale in the country. That was the first indication that Tesla planned to enter the market.

In September, we reported that Tesla started to hire in Thailand – indicating that a launch was imminent.

Today, Tesla has officially launched its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Thailand with a small event in a luxury mall in central Bangkok.

The automaker has started taking orders through a new Thai configurator for those two models. Tesla is offering all variants of the Model 3 and Model Y for sale in Thailand:

The Model 3 starts at ฿1,759,000 in Thailand, which is the equivalent of about $50,000 USD and fairly competitive compared to other luxury EVs in the market.

The Model Y starts ฿1,959,000, or about $58,000 USD.

Interestingly, while Tesla is starting to take orders through the new configurator, the automaker doesn’t list expected delivery windows in the country.

While we don’t know when official deliveries from Tesla will start in Thailand, there are already a decent number of Tesla electric vehicles in the country.

They have been imported privately by the owners – and that’s a factor that Tesla takes into account when considering entering a new market. If many people are willing to go through the trouble of importing the vehicle, there’s a good chance that there’s a market for its vehicles in the country.

We even reported on the Thai police buying a fleet of Tesla Model 3 vehicles for police patrol back in 2020, pictured above.

The Thai auto market is more significant than most people would think. More than 750,000 cars were sold in the market last year, and it is expected to ramp up to 800K–900K this year. However, most of those vehicles are not in the same price range as Tesla vehicles.

Thailand is also a vehicle assembly hub with up to 2 million vehicles produced locally per year.

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U.S. pledges to ramp up supplies of natural gas to Britain as Biden and Sunak seek to cut off Russia

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U.S. pledges to ramp up supplies of natural gas to Britain as Biden and Sunak seek to cut off Russia

Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden photographed on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Indonesia on Nov. 16, 2022.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The U.K. and U.S. are forming a new energy partnership focused on boosting energy security and reducing prices.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.K. government said the new partnership would “drive work to reduce global dependence on Russian energy exports, stabilise energy markets and step up collaboration on energy efficiency, nuclear and renewables.”

The U.K.-U.S. Energy Security and Affordability Partnership, as it’s known, will be directed by a U.K.-U.S. Joint Action Group headed up by officials from both the White House and U.K. government.

Among other things, the group will undertake efforts to make sure the market ramps up supplies of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to the U.K.

Read more about energy from CNBC Pro

“As part of this, the US will strive to export at least 9-10 billion cubic metres of LNG over the next year via UK terminals, more than doubling the level exported in 2021 and capitalising on the UK’s leading import infrastructure,” Wednesday’s announcement said.

“The group will also work to reduce global reliance on Russian energy by driving efforts to increase energy efficiency and supporting the transition to clean energy, expediting the development of clean hydrogen globally and promoting civil nuclear as a secure use of energy,” it added.

Commenting on the plans, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We have the natural resources, industry and innovative thinking we need to create a better, freer system and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

“This partnership will bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy once and for all.”

The news comes at a time of huge disruption within global energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

The Kremlin was the biggest supplier of both natural gas and petroleum oils to the EU in 2021, according to Eurostat, but gas exports from Russia to the European Union have been signifciantly reduced this year. The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, 2020.

Major European economies have been trying to reduce their own consumption and shore up supplies from alternative sources for the colder months ahead — and beyond.

Top CEOs from the power industry have forecast that turbulence in energy markets is likely to persist for some time. “Things are extremely turbulent, as they have been the whole year, I would say,” Francesco Starace, the CEO of Italy’s Enel, told CNBC last month.

“The turbulence we’re going to have will remain — it might change a little bit, the pattern, but we’re looking at one or two years of extreme volatility in the energy markets,” Starace added.

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