With electric vehicle sales soaring so dramatically amid a growing battle against climate change, it’s sobering to think that most of us will still be driving gasoline cars 15 years from now.
In fact, many who hope to make a difference by driving an electric vehicle already have one. So if alternative fuel vehicles are ever to get gas powered cars and trucks off the road, they will have to defeat them in their own game.
It’s a big job. Gasoline is cheap, plentiful, and efficient.
“If you gave the brightest scientists and engineers tons of money and told them to develop the perfect storage medium for transportation, they would find gasoline,” said Eric Toone, co-chair of the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, or BEV , a sustainability investment firm co-founded by Bill Gates based in Kirkland, Washington. Billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros are also involved.
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is “safe, very energetic, easy to move. It has all the properties you could want in an energy storage medium, with the exception of the problem that it produces carbon dioxide, ”he said.
But all is not lost. We may even have the right combination for a dynamic market that is still moving the US towards its climate goals. President Joe Biden believes he has put the United States on track for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
Remember that by 2030:
Green hydrogen alternatives will charge through batteries for planes and trains, if not cars, and;
Cleaner-burning fuels will help reduce emissions from gas-powered vehicles.
That combination will bring the US roughly halfway to the Paris climate agreement Goal of net zero emissions by 2050According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency. The report shocked some in the energy sector with his blunt call to curb new oil and gas investments.
Reach net zero
“When we hit zero as a planet, it’s pretty clear that much of our emissions reductions will have to come from technologies that weren’t invented, commercialized, or scaled up,” said Matt Peterson, director of Amazon’s $ 2 billion Climate Pledge Fund.
and BEV are just two of a growing number of Fortune 500 companies, venture capitalists and bankers who are investing billions of dollars on startups with innovations that could help bridge the void in areas such as energy, agriculture, construction and transportation.
Can You Be Successful? Here’s a look at the three biggest areas of sustainability investing in transportation and how they could affect what you’ll be driving in 2035 and beyond.
Battery operated electric vehicles
Electric vehicles will increasingly appeal to more people, in part due to a growing range of models, more fast charging stations and batteries with a longer range. But the actual kicker is expected in just two months: fully electric pickup trucks.
The Ford F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the country’s best-selling vehicle, could help boost sales of electric vehicles when it launches next spring.
Three out of four American vehicles are light trucks, including pickups and SUVs, so all-electric models could prove to be an important boost to the EV market. The Lightning, which won’t hit the market until next spring, likely won’t be the first EV pickup. But the electric version of the world’s most popular truck – and the country’s best-selling vehicle – could help take EV sales to a higher level.
“The Ford F-150 Lightning is the most important thing that has happened in electric vehicles since Tesla started selling cars,” said Toone of BEV. “If they really start selling this thing in a configuration that people can use for $ 40,000, that’s a game changer.”
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possibly well on the way to launching the F-150 Lightning with their Cybertruck and Hummer EV pickups. Deliveries of these models are expected later this year or early next year.
Startup Rivian will be the first to hit the market, provided it adheres to its latest schedule for shipments to start in September. And it has a volume ace up its sleeve: Amazon. The internet giant, a major investor in Rivian, has pledged to purchase 100,000 Rivian delivery vans by 2030, 10,000 of them by the end of 2022.
“It’s a good balance between investing in stocks and having demand from Amazon to help Rivian scale its own operations,” said Peterson of Amazon. “The introduction and use of this technology is a real unique selling point for our fund.”
Hydrogen fuel cells
There are a few hydrogen-powered vehicles on the streets, including those made by Toyota Motor Corp.
Mirai and the Honda Motor Co.
Clarity. They combine the emission-free advantages of battery operation with a five-minute filling and greater ranges than with gasoline.
“Developing inexpensive green hydrogen is one of the holy grails,” said Peterson.
Two main obstacles stand in the way of the adoption of green hydrogen – that is, hydrogen made from a process that does not release planet-warming emissions: It is very expensive to produce. And hydrogen is unaffordable to distribute and store.
So you won’t find any fuel for a hydrogen-powered car unless you live near one of California’s 48 gas stations or the lonely gas pump in Honolulu. In contrast, the United States has 5,250 high-speed charging stations for electric vehicles and around 115,000 traditional gas stations.
Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, has its place in the constellation of sustainable fuels. However, this is true for applications that do not require many pump locations, such as.
Amazon already uses hydrogen-powered forklifts in logistics centers. And Amazon and BEV have both invested in ZeroAvia, a British-American company developing short-haul aircraft powered by green hydrogen.
If what you’re driving in ’35 is a gasoline vehicle, you’ve got plenty of company. For this reason, investing in lower-carbon alternatives will be critical to meeting the sustainability goals.
“I keep telling people that there will be more gasoline-powered vehicles in 2050 than there are today,” Toone said. “The idea that you can say from Fiat that we will stop using internal combustion engines after a certain period of time is ridiculous. There’s no chance that will happen. “
The need for low-emission fuels is even greater in developing countries, where the infrastructure for electric vehicles and hydrogen may be decades away.
One company with promising technology is Infinium, based in Sacramento, California, that is developing a carbon-free fuel to power existing aircraft, trucks, and ships.
“This is especially relevant when it comes to aviation because eliminating carbon emissions from jets is a problem that goes beyond 10 years,” said Peterson.
Too early to determine a winner
The path to net zero emissions takes decades. And with so much still to be developed, it’s too early to determine a winner.
“We want to invest in electrification, we want to invest in hydrogen and we want to invest in the existing infrastructure. And better alternative fuels, ”concludes Amazon’s Peterson. “These are all areas of focus for the fund, and I cannot predict which ones will eventually make the others obsolete. So we have to make all the bets we can and see what works. “
Mike Feibus is President and Principal Analyst of FeibusTech, a market research and consulting firm. Reach him below [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeFeibus. He does not directly own any shares in the companies named in this column.