Bitcoin is a digital currency. Whether that is a good thing or not is beside the point. What is important is that as a creature of the digital world, it relies on servers powered by electricity for its existence — a lot of them. Even though the use of renewable energy has surged in the past decade, the majority of electricity today still comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal. That means the digital world we have created — all our cell phones, streaming TV, video games, internet of things, and yes, bitcoin — creates lots of carbon emissions.
According to the BBC, the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet, and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions — about the same as the airline industry. But the problem is expanding. Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University, tells the BBC emissions from digital devices are expected to double by 2025.
Bitcoin goes beyond being a digital currency, though. It’s extra energy intensive on purpose — bitcoin mining is supposed to be hard and costly.
In March, Tesla shocked the world when it said it would begin allowing customers to pay for their cars using bitcoin. 6 weeks later, the company reversed course and stopped accepting bitcoin for purchases. In a statement, Elon Musk said, “Tesla has suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin. We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.
“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment. Tesla will not be selling any bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to a more sustainable energy. We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of bitcoin’s energy/transaction.”
But now it appears Tesla and Musk have rethought their position. On Wednesday, Musk told a “B Word” conference that Tesla will most likely start accepting bitcoin again.
“I wanted a little bit more due diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage is most likely at or above 50%, and that there is a trend towards increasing that number, and if so, Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin. Most likely the answer is that Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin. Tesla’s mission is accelerating the advent of sustainable energy. We can’t be the company that does that and also not do appropriate diligence on the energy usage of bitcoin.”
Editor’s note: The issue isn’t ONLY what type of power plant powers miners. Every serious/decent/real plan showing how we can get the climate crisis under control indicates that we need to massively reduce energy use while we quickly scale of renewable energy projects. Bitcoin drives us in the opposite direction, as it’s extremely, ridiculous, insanely energy intensive. Jacking up energy demand means that the solar panels and wind turbines we feverishly produce will be used to satisfy increasing energy demand more than to retire fossil fuel power plants. It’s just not a good idea.
Musk added that he personally owns bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin, separate and apart from the bitcoin that Tesla and SpaceX own. “I might pump, but I don’t dump,” Musk said. “I definitely do not believe in getting the price high and selling. I would like to see bitcoin succeed.”
Quick Charge Podcast: March 30, 2023
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Tesla is rumored to be planning a US LFP battery cell factory with CATL
Tesla is rumored to be planning a new battery factory to produce LFP cells in the US with China’s CATL, the world’s biggest battery manufacturer.
Over the last few years, CEO Elon Musk has said multiple times that Tesla plans to shift more electric cars to LFP batteries in order to overcome nickel and cobalt supply concerns.
Iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which don’t use nickel or cobalt, are traditionally cheaper and safer, but they offer less energy density, which means less efficiency and a shorter range for electric vehicles.
However, they have improved enough recently that it now makes sense to use cobalt-free batteries in lower-end and shorter-range vehicles. It also frees up the production of battery cells with other, more energy-dense chemistries to produce longer-range vehicles.
The main issue is that LFP battery cell production is currently almost entirely concentrated in China. Therefore, it creates a logistical problem for electric vehicles produced in other markets.
Furthermore, in the US, it creates a problem for automakers trying to take advantage of the new federal tax credit for electric vehicles, which requires that the batteries of electric vehicles be produced in North America in order for buyers to get the full $7,500 credit. It creates a demand to bring LFP production to North America.
Ford has recently announced a plan to partner with CATL, the world’s biggest battery cell manufacturer, to build LFP battery cells at a $3.5 billion factory in Michigan.
Now Tesla is rumored to be doing the same thing. Bloomberg first reported the rumor:
The EV maker discussed plans involving Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. with the White House in recent days, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing private conversations. Tesla representatives sought clarity on the Inflation Reduction Act rules that the Biden administration is finalizing this week, according to some of the people. Rohan Patel, the company’s senior global director of public policy, was among those involved with the discussions, one of the people said.
The report is light on detail, but it states that Tesla is looking at a similar structure to Ford’s own deal with CATL. Texas has also been rumored to be a possible location for the new factory.
The LFP cells would enable Tesla buyers to get the full tax on the base Model 3, which is about to lose the incentive because its cells currently come from CATL’s Chinese factories.
Heart Aerospace finds a new partner to develop ES-30 electric plane battery
Swedish electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace is joining forces with BAE Systems to develop a battery system for its ES-30 electric plane.
Heart partners with BAE to develop electric plane battery
Heart Aerospace is paving the way for sustainable electric air travel to become the norm with its leading-edge zero-emission aircraft.
We first covered the company in 2021 after it made waves with its ES-19 electric airplane. The aircraft was designed to carry up to 19 people up to 250 miles (400 km), perfect for short-distance travel.
The innovation was enough to attract an investment from the third largest US air carrier, United Airlines, in July 2021. United committed to purchasing and deploying 100 ES-19 electric aircraft to its fleet as it works to erase emissions from its fleet “without relying on traditional carbon offsets.”
Air Canada, the largest airliner in Canada, invested $5 million into Heart last year in addition to ordering 30 of its newest model, the ES-30.
Heart introduced the ES-30 last year, an electric plane driven by four electric motors and a battery system. The electric aircraft will have a fully-electric zero-emission range of up to 200 km (124 miles) and 30-minute fast charge capabilities. Hybrid reserve turbogenerators allow travel of nearly 500 miles (800 km) at 25 people max.
To advance the ES-30 battery system, Heart is partnering with BAE Systems, best known for its leading defense and aerospace solutions. The battery system will be the “first of its kind” for a conventional takeoff and landing regional aircraft, operating with zero emissions and significantly reduced noise.
The collaboration will utilize BAE Systems’ over 25 years of experience electrifying heavy-duty industrial vehicles. Chief operating officer at Heart Aerospace, Sofia Graflund, said:
BAE Systems’ extensive experience in developing batteries for heavy-duty ground applications, and their experience in developing safety critical control systems for aerospace, make them an ideal partner in this important next step for the ES-30 and for the aviation industry.
Heart Aerospace says it already has 230 orders and another 100 options for the ES-30 electric aircraft. In addition, Heart says it has a letter of intent for another 108 planes. The ES-30 is scheduled to enter service in 2028.
Heart Aerospace is aiming to double the all-electric range of its aircraft by the late 2030s with close to 250 miles (400km) range. In addition to offering zero emissions, electric airplanes feature lower costs (electricity compared to jet fuel) and less maintenance due to engine repair.
Although 124 miles may not seem like much, it will be perfect for regional air travel while building a base for the future of zero-emission air travel.
The 30-minute fast charge feature is perfect for turning around flights quickly in between loading passengers and luggage.
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