WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- It now looks inevitable that the world will make the switch to electric vehicles, but there is still a lot to be done to build out the infrastructure and capacity needed to support these governments aspirations
Sell your oil and gas stocks, and throw out your old log burners. The world is changing and the renewable energy trends, or, to put it another way, the trends away from fossil fuels to new cleaner fuels, are all accelerating.
As the amount of new renewable energy coming online, from solar and wind power to geothermal and tidal power, continues to break records, and as renewable energy prices continue to plummet to become the cheapest forms of energy on Earth it’s evident that we’re witnessing a paradigm shift in action.
That said though for those of you eager to see the sun rise on the day when the last fossil fuel power station is turned off you’ll still have some time to wait, but it’s now conceivable that you’ll see it in your lifetime.
Wherever you look it looks like there’s no stopping the trend. Aircraft and cars are going electric, but that said there are two great ways to speed up the acceleration of a trend. The first, or course, is demand, and the second is regulations, and when we look at sales of electric cars, for example, it’s clear there’s a demand but, overall, it’s still modest.
However, what if your country’s government dictated you could only buy an electric vehicle? What would that do to the demand side? It’d move the it from zero to hero, and that’s precisely what’s happening right now, and as a result more auto manufacturers are pouring more investment into developing the technology, it gets better, more people buy into it and it becomes a virtuous, accelerating cycle. In short that trend that was moving quickly before, is now accelerating like crazy and before you know it we’re all sitting in electric cars looking bemused and wondering why we’ve just pulled up at a petrol pump.
Over the course of the past year France, Germany (and the EU), India and the UK have all announced they’re banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2040, with their entire car fleets being electric by no later than 2050, and that’s not bad, after all these countries governments represent over 1.7 Billion consumers, or around a third of the world’s population. But what if another country, for example, China banned the sale of petrol and diesel cars? Well, all of a sudden that figure would leap from 1.7 to 3.1 Billion consumers and that’s almost half the world’s population. And that would be an unstoppable trend.
Now, that’s precisely what it looks like China are going to do, and as a result you can expect the move to hasten the demise of the century old combustion engine and relegate it to a museum.
China, the world’s biggest vehicle market, is considering a ban on the production and sale of fossil fuel cars in a major boost to the production of electric vehicles as Beijing seeks to ease pollution.
Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology, told a forum in the northern city of Tianjin at the weekend that his ministry had started “relevant research” and was working on a timetable for China.
Xin said the policy would be implemented “in the near future”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“These measures will promote profound changes in the environment and give momentum to China’s auto industry development,” he said in remarks broadcast by CCTV state television.
“Enterprises should strive to improve the level of energy saving for traditional cars, and vigorously develop new energy vehicles according to assessment requirements,” he said.
China produced and sold more than 28m vehicles last year, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, and the sale of new energy vehicles topped 500,000 in the world’s second largest economy in 2016, over 50% more than the previous year, according to national industry figures.
In June the government introduced new draft regulation to compel vehicle manufacturers to produce more electrically powered vehicles by 2020 via a complex quota system, and now, funnily enough more automotive manufacturers are promising to make more electric cars in China, who as it happens is also just about to spend $30 Billion building out new battery and component factories to support the switch.