Role of Alternative Energy Resources in Reshaping Global Transportation Infrastructure

Abstract

Transport infrastructure is one of the most important and ancient developments in human history. Since the invention of wheel in ancient world, improvement of transport sector has dominated human activities. Over the years, infrastructure has improved in virtually every country. Recent developments have seen production of several PHEVs. This is mainly attributed to economic developments, which are spurred by the need to move goods and services from one place to another.

This technology combines the two methods, use of electric motor to propel vehicles as well as (internal combustion engine. This is very helpful as it mitigates the drawbacks of electric vehicles as well as those of highbred vehicles. This results in low greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, as well as cost of transport. Another factor that receives attention is driving range, which has been faulted in electric cars.

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Fortunately, PHEV is well prepared for such eventualities, since it has both electric motor and ICE for fuel. Therefore, in the event that battery runs out, hybrid vehicles can convert to ICE powered propellers. This makes it easy for owners and improves the vehicle’s driving range. Merging of these, two technologies have improved efficiency of PHEV in terms of recharging periods.

However, the only barrier to its full usage is the cost of production. This is major concern as in the case of purely electric cars. However, recent research have shown that by 2020, their costs will depreciate considerably as prices of rechargeable lithium batteries will fall by about 50%. Green stimulus packages that are currently rolled out by most governments are working to promote building of more PHEV cars (Shah, 2009, p. 29, 37 and 43).

Introduction

Transport infrastructure is one of the most important and ancient developments in human history. Since the invention of wheel in the ancient world, improvement of transport sector has dominated human activities. Over the years, infrastructure has improved in virtually every country.

This is attributed to economic developments, which are spurred by the need to move goods and services from one place to another. This has enabled man to improve their infrastructure as well as vessels and resources required for transportation. For instance, modes of transportation have increased and improved with inventions after inventions. Moreover, improvement on vehicle models have enabled man to reduce on energy costs.

As much as these developments have made work easier in improving economic development, this has come at a great cost to human lives since most of these vessels use energy from fossils, which are being depleted repeatedly. In fact, fear is gripping the world on its future since exploitation of fossil fuels has reached its peak.

Moreover, these fossil fuels have increased the world’s susceptibility to natural calamities like famine, unpredictable weather, and global warming, among other severe effects. This has led to research and investment on alternative energy, which is aimed at conserving our environment. This paper will therefore explore the roles of alternative energy resources in shaping global transportation infrastructure. In this regard, it will emphasize on the invention and use of electric cars to achieve environmental conservation (Sperling & Deborah, 2009, p. 22-26).

Electric cars (PHEV)

Plug in electric cars have gained popularity in the recent past, especially with rising concern on depletion of fossil fuels as well as their effect on environment.

These automobiles employ electric motors to propel their movement. To achieve this, the motors draw electric energy from batteries or in some cases, other energy storing devices. Its popularity flourished mainly in the early 20th and late 19th century. Since then, it has continued to gain popularity as people resort to green energy.

Later on, ideas came up on how to deal with issues such as driving range in electric cars, recharging time, and the lifetime of batteries, among others.

In addition, most potential customers feared that the batteries might lose its power before they reach their destinations. All these concerns along with gas emissions in both hybrid and conventional ICE cars led to calls for merging. In this regard, a new car came up, which is now known as Plug in Hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). These cars are already increasing in popularity and numbers. It is expected that within the next 10 – 20 years, their costs will drop significantly.

The fall will be attributed to increased investments and grants on electric car batteries. For instance, the United Sates federal government has put in place a project to manufacture electric car batteries through grants among other, incentives. Owing to their significance in reducing environmental pollution through emissions, and noise, as well as depletion of natural resources, a huge market is expected to flood PHEV cars (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Effects of environmental pollution have led to various natural calamities as well as health risks to human lives. For this reason, adopting PHEV cars would be beneficial to health and environment. This is mainly due to the impressive advantages of green energy as well as destructive effects of fossil fuels. In addition another reason for rush towards green energy is because it is cheap and favors recycling. Use of these vehicles has declined shortly in the 20th century due to the introduction of cheaper gasoline vehicles.

Moreover, ways of producing alternative fuels such as biofuels have increased speculations on its viability. However, despite its high production cost, electric cars are still considered the best model of cars that would help save our environment. This is mainly because fossil fuels are non-renewable, meaning that continued exploitation would result in exhaustion. This has driven oil prices to very high levels that had never been witnessed before.

It is also quite important to note that Use of biofuels is quite withdrawn since it negates food production. Furthermore, the world is undergoing tough times, with famine and drought, among other calamities. Planting crops or fuel would be unwise compared to using electric cars. In this regard, invention of electric cars remains one of the best in human history. It has several advantages that include reduction in pollution through noise, greenhouse gasses, among others.

However, it is also of major concern to note that production costs for electric cars are still way ahead of most people. There are several models of electric cars. These include Nissan leaf, Buddy, Tesla Roadster, and REVAi, among others (Kirsch, 2000, p. 153-162).

Status of the PHEV (Pug-ins electric vehicles) technology

This technology combines the two methods, use of electric motor to propel the vehicle as well as (internal combustion engine. This is very helpful as it mitigates the drawbacks of electric vehicles as well as those of highbred vehicles. This results in low greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, as well as cost of transport. Another factor that receives attention is driving range, which has been faulted in electric cars.

Fortunately, PHEV is well prepared for such eventualities, since it has both electric motor and ICE for fuel. Therefore, in the event that battery runs out, hybrid vehicles can convert to ICE powered propellers. This makes it easy for owners and improves the vehicle’s driving range. Merging of these, two technologies have improved efficiency of PHEV in terms of recharging periods. However, the only barrier to its full usage is he cost of production.

This is major concern as in the case of purely electric cars. However, recent research have shown that by 2020, their costs will depreciate considerably as prices of rechargeable lithium batteries will fall by about 50%. Green stimulus packages that are currently rolled out by most governments are working to promote building of more PHEV cars. This is good news to the world as people seek to reduce on greenhouse gas emissions (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Even though electric cars provide man with ways to conserve their environment and reduce on greenhouse emissions, they are very expensive. This is mainly because additional cost of its Lithium ion battery.

On the other hand, conventional combustion engine of vehicles release emissions that continue to deplete the Ozone layer. In effect, people are torn between the two, either since they can buy cheaper cars with high maintenance cost or expensive ones with cheaper maintenance cost. In addition, potential customers shy away because of its unpredictability.

Infrastructures that have been laid down cannot support recharging of electric cars. This would mean that whoever buys them must have a private recharge facility, which is more expensive. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that power may not run out before one reaches his/her destination.

Electric cars are propelled by electric motors, which are in turn powered by electricity through a controller. This technology allows for storage of electric energy in rechargeable batteries. These batteries can then be recharged at common places such as recharge centers or even with household electricity. However, its use has not received wide support concerning driving range.

In addition, as opposed to conventional fossil fuel engines, recharging takes time and increases costs on the buyer when the battery needs replacement. The car utilizes motor and battery to increase its efficiency. It is also quite important to note that these cars produce no emissions from tail pipe; this makes them more efficient and environmental friendly. Another advantage of this technology is the fact that it gains torque faster and in silence.

Generally, it seems more efficient to combine the two. This has market the newest technology on electric cars by combining its electric elements with hybrids. These cars are referred to as plug in hybrids. It combines hybrid facilities with electric motor thereby improving on drawbacks of purely electric cars (Sadden, 2011, p. 1).

Start-to-End supply chain for PHEV

The world is preparing for a huge roll out of new models of PHEV cars within the next 5 years. The market is expected to receive over 30 products and models of PHEV cars with different brands to choose. Most PHEV vehicles have been utilized in neighborhood movements, but this is set to change as the world prepare for a major transformation in transport infrastructure. Several charging stations are set to increase in the United States and other dominant countries in the world like Australia and Canada (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Methods of conversion and consumption

PHEV technology allows a car to be charged throughout the night. The vehicle then utilizes this stored energy during day. The technology is very popular as it improves vehicles’ efficiency as well as gas mileage. These vehicles utilize two methods of energy consumption and conversion.

These are electricity and gasoline. This means that when the battery is low, then gasoline can be used for transport. Energy consumption by PHEV cars are considerably low, for instance, when the battery has power it runs on electricity thereby minimizing gas emissions.

This saves fuel usage and is more economical compared to conventional car. For instance, in United States, the calculated total energy consumed annually is quite high. It is estimated that PHEVs run on 0.33 kWh of energy per mile. On the other hand, cars that use gasoline would pay more than twice it costs to drive PHEV cars (Motavalli, 2011, p. 1).

Current infrastructure status (production, transportation, and consumption)

Because of high production cost of electric cars, many people withdraw from buying them and instead opt for cheaper conventional internal combustion engine cars.

Moreover, the transport infrastructure does not allow for introduction of many electric cars. There are very few recharging centers all over the globe; in fact, some continents like Africa have not felt the impact of electric cars. Most countries are therefore using fuel driven cars, as they can afford them.

However, this will change in the future as prices of batteries continues fall significantly. The fall will be attributed to increased investments and grants on electric car batteries. For instance, the United Sates federal government has put in place a project to manufacture electric car batteries through grants among other, incentives.

It is also predicted that as production volumes continues to rise, and manufacturers get more contracts to produce batteries, this will reduce its cost. Another development that could spur development of global transport infrastructure on PHEVs is the recent studies, which have continued to fid ways of building batteries with same lifetime as their respective vehicles. This would make cars affordable to a variety of people in the world (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

What will happen to all the batteries once they are drained and how do we recycle them

Electric car batteries are very expensive, in fact they have attributed highly to the total cost of these vehicles. These batteries require some hours to be recharged and just as the normal lithium cell batteries, they have to be replaced after exhaustion. The cost of replacing these batteries is still high, and disposal of used and already exhausted batteries. In addition, these batteries can be recycled to make back up grid for infrastructures.

For instance, technological research on Lithium ion batteries has not reached their peak, leaving ways for more technological developments on the same. Furthermore, it is known that even after use, PHEV batteries still hold more than 60% of energy. These can be utilized in management of Grid load, storage for renewable energy and as backup power for communities, among other uses. This makes them even more useful after use in motor vehicles (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Key issues for growth of the clean energy resource

Growth of green energy has been sought for decades after it became clear that oil wells were being depleted. In the process, several proposals have come up.

These included nuclear power, electricity, and geothermal energy, among other renewable sources of power. This did not leave transportation infrastructure aside because it is one of the main contributors to pollution and environmental degradation. In this regard, hybrid and electric cars were introduced.

Consequently, plug in hybrid electric vehicles have come up with various challenges to growth of clean energy resource. It is quite important to note that PHEV vehicles have contributed significantly to the reduction of emissions to environment. However, it is of essence to continue towards achieving the objective, which is a clean energy resource (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Several key issues may spur growth of clean energy. These include conversion from the traditional internal combustion engines into electric motor vehicles. Besides, achieving the objective is yet to be made. This is mainly because most power productions in the United States are derived from coal mining, another resource that risks exploitation.

Moreover, the high risks associated with nuclear power plants as witnessed in Japan would not make the world safer. It is therefore important that people learn of ways to help conserve the environment. The following key issues shall therefore be discussed concerning growth of energy resource (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

Security of supply – how to ensure uninterrupted supply of the alternative energy resource is available at reasonable cost

Energy supply is very important in if it can be sustained. Security of supply is therefore necessary for continued conservation of the environment. Another important aspect sustainability and security is cost. It is very important for energy to be supplied at a reasonable price.

Security of demand – how to ensure consistent demand for the alternative energy resource (e.g., for producers, one concern is security of demand. If consumers take large quantities one year and none the next, producers make huge losses).

Security of demand for alternative energy is also very essential to producers. To ensure this, importance of PHEVs should be made known to potential buyers. In addition, they need to ensure that their products are efficient. In this regard, PHEVs would suit buyers since it has a wider driving range.

Reliability of energy supply forms another alternative energy security issue. Energy delivery reliability is an increasingly contentious topic (e.g., wind is not reliable for year round use).

Reliability is very important for sustainability of the resource. Electricity is reliable and sustainable since it can be produced through many ways that are reasonable and secure. PHEVs are quite reliable in that they have the capability of propelling either electric motor or internal combustion engine.

Physical security of installations and personnel – Energy security includes the physical security of alternate energy installations against acts of sabotage, terrorism, piracy, and other harm. What specific steps are needed?

To ensure physical security of alternative energy, production of the energy should be done in accordance with the laid out procedures. Chemicals utilized in production facilities should be protected against potential sabotage, piracy, or even terrorism.

Explain current technology availability and specific technology advancements required to implement this future alternate energy vision

The current technology combines electric motor with internal combustion engine to prolong driving range.

Provide expectation of future governmental policies that will affect your selected energy choice

Most governments have focused their policies on transforming transportation infrastructure. In addition, In addition, governments all over the world are continually shifting towards green energy. To achieve this, they have laid out strategies that include stimulus packages and incentives.

For instance, the United States government is giving grants of up to $5000 to people who buy electric cars. Moreover, additional benefits such as incentives on packing fees have also been introduced in major cities like London and New York to push for green technology. All these are aimed at improving dependence on clean energy resource (HybridCars, 2011, p. 1).

Assess the selected energy infrastructure, size and level in 2010, 2015 and 2020 (e.g., gallons used, number of alternative cars, number of refineries, etc.)

Researchers are predicting continued increase in production of PHEVs. According to these estimations, plug in hybrid electric vehicles will grow beyond 150 000 by 2012. This production is expected to be constrained until all the required facilities and infrastructure is in place by 2020.

Generally, it is also estimated that production will rise at an average rate of 20% until 2020. The current assumption is that there are about one million plugs in hybrid electric cars in the world with hundreds of thousands being built annually (Abuelsamid, 2009, p. 1).

Provide key determining factors that will be critical in the assessment

Assessment of these figures will depend on consumer response to emerging markets. It is clear that most people are still gripping with effects of recession. In this regard, a good number will not be able to afford PHEVs in 2010. However as we move to towards 2012, and with the assumption that economic growth will improve, more people will consider purchasing these cars.

It is also of essence to note that expected high number of productions will lower prices significantly. This will act to reduce cost of battery infrastructure. Other key issues that will critically affect this assessment include the surging fears of global warming. There are very few recharging centers all over the globe; in fact, some continents like Africa have not felt the impact of electric cars. Most countries are therefore using fuel driven cars, as they can afford them.

However, this will change in the future as prices of batteries continues fall significantly. The fall will be attributed to increased investments and grants on electric car batteries. For instance, the United Sates federal government has put in place a project to manufacture electric car batteries through grants among other, incentives. It is also predicted that as production volumes continues to rise, and manufacturers get more contracts to produce batteries, this will reduce its cost.

Various parts of the world are currently experiencing unpredictable weather. This will be very instrumental in pushing for green energy to conserve our environment. Another key issue that will spur movement towards PHEVs is depletion of oil resources, which are estimated to be severely depleted by 2050. As expected, this will put pressure on fuel prices, leading to its unsustainability in motor vehicles.

The outcome will be increased demand for PHEVS and alternative energy, leading to rise in production and hence lowered cost. Furthermore, more research is being conducted on Lithium ion batteries to find ways of increasing its driving range and sustainability. In addition, governments all over the world are continually shifting towards green energy.

To achieve this, they have laid out strategies that include stimulus packages and incentives. For instance, the United States government is giving grants of up to $5000 to people who buy electric cars. Moreover, additional benefits such as incentives on packing fees have also been introduced in major cities like London and New York to push for green technology. All these are aimed at improving dependence on clean energy resource (Chang-Ran, 2010, p. 1).

Assess which countries will be early adopters

Electric cars have been in existence for some time, and mainly in the developed world. Countries such as the United States, Japan, China, India, South Korea, among many European Countries have already adopted strategies to move towards green technology through electric cars.

For instance, the United States government is giving grants of up to $5000 to people who buy electric cars. Moreover, additional benefits such as incentives on packing fees have also been introduced in major cities like London and New York to push for green technology.

Other countries such as Australia, Germany, France, and Britain have made progress in production of electric cars. However, with every country now focusing on green energy, and the expected fall in prices, more people throughout the globe will shift towards PHEVs and hence reduce on greenhouse emissions.

This is mainly because these countries have governments that show great concern for exploitation of fossil fuel. In addition, they have resources and the work force to research and develop new ideas that would shape global transportation infrastructure (Yuri, 2010, p. 1).

Conclusions

Over the years, infrastructure has improved in virtually every country. This is attributed to economic developments, which are spurred by the need to move goods and services from one place to another. These developments have enabled man to improve their infrastructure as well as vessels and resources required for transportation. For instance, modes of transportation have increased and improved with inventions after inventions. Moreover, improvement on vehicle models have enabled man to reduce on energy costs.

As much as these developments have made work easier in improving economic development, this has come at a great cost to human lives since most of these vessels use energy from fossils, which are being depleted repeatedly. In fact, fear is gripping the world on its future since exploitation of fossil fuels has reached its peak. Moreover, these fossil fuels have increased the world’s susceptibility to natural calamities like famine, unpredictable weather, and global warming, among other severe effects.

Introduction of PHEVs has continued greatly to development in the world, as governments tend to shift towards green technology. This is done in an effort to mitigate on effects of global warming. Recent research have shown that by 2020, their costs will depreciate considerably as prices of rechargeable lithium batteries will fall by about 50%. Green stimulus packages that are currently rolled out by most governments are working to promote building of more PHEV cars.

This is good news to the world as people seek to reduce on greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, additional benefits such as incentives on packing fees have also been introduced in major cities like London and New York to push for green technology.

Other countries such as Australia, Germany, France, and Britain have made progress in production of electric cars. However, with every country now focusing on green energy, and the expected fall in prices, more people throughout the globe will shift towards PHEVs and hence reduce on greenhouse emissions.

This is mainly because these countries have governments that show great concern for exploitation of fossil fuel. In addition, they have resources and the work force to research and develop new ideas that would shape global transportation infrastructure (Randall, 2004, p. 1).

References

Abuelsamid, S. (2009). Tesla offers laundry list of new options, $12k prepaid battery replacement. Green.autoblog.com. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/01/17/tesla-offers-laundry-list-of-new-options-12k-prepaid-battery-r/

Chang-Ran, K. (2010). Mitsubishi Motors lowers price of electric i-MiEV. Reuters. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://www.reuters.com/article/ idUSTOE62T09V20100330

HybridCars. (2011). Electric Cars: A Definitive Guide. HybridCars.com. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://www.hybridcars.com/electric-car

Kirsch, D. A. (2000). The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History. Rutgers University Press. pp. 153–162. ISBN 9780813528090.

Motavalli, J. (2011). 7 New Electric Cars Available in 2011. The daily Green. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/new-electric-cars-460210#fbIndex1

Randall, J. (2004). Economics of PHEVs. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://web.missouri.edu/~suppesg/Benefits.htm

Sadden, E. (2011). Molycorp’s Expansion across the Rare Earth Supply Chain. pikeresearch.com. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://www.pikeresearch.com/ blog/articles/molycorp%E2%80%99s-expansion-across-the-rare-earth-supply-chain

Shah, S. D. (2009). Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st ed.). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37, and 43. ISBN 9780815703051.

Sperling, D., & Deborah G. (2009). Two billion cars: driving toward sustainability. Oxford University Press, New York. pp. 22–26. ISBN 978-0-19-537664-7.

Yuri, K. (2010). Japanese Start Buying Affordable Electric Cars. Associated Press. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ ALeqM5hZLF-TovzdeerGbFwLJ3NLfeIXZQD9EQ3PL00

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