EVs are set for exponential growth in the next few years. Also, why Terra CO2’s climate-friendly concrete is a big deal.

If you don’t already own an EV, chances are good that you will soon.

Do you feel like you’re seeing more electric vehicles (EVs) on the road lately? According to a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), it’s only the beginning of an oncoming revolution.

Recent analysis by RMI in collaboration with the Bezos Earth Fund, revealed that global EV sales are poised to not only meet, but also surpass, even the most ambitious net-zero targets. By 2030, they could constitute over two-thirds of the market share.

The research from RMI shows that sales worldwide of traditional combustion engine cars reached their peak in 2017. By the midpoint of this decade, more of these cars will be retired than sold, signifying a sharp decline in the overall combustion car fleet by 2030. Global EV sales will see at least a sixfold increase by 2030, achieving a market share ranging from 62% to 86% of new vehicle sales.

Given that internal combustion cars are responsible for approximately one-quarter of global oil demand, the rapid adoption of EVs puts significant downward pressure on oil demand. RMI’s forecasts suggest that oil demand for cars already peaked in 2019 and will steadily decrease by at least 1 million barrels per day each year after 2030.

Economics is becoming the primary driver of EV sales, with declining battery costs playing a pivotal role. RMI projects that battery costs will halve over the course of this decade. As a result, EVs are expected to become as affordable or even cheaper to purchase and operate than gasoline cars in every global market by that year. China is on track to achieve 90% EV sales by 2030, a significant increase from its current one-third share, thanks to robust policy support and a strong presence in EV production.

Once EVs become cheaper than internal combustion cars, consumer preference is expected to rapidly shift to the newer technology, according to research by Exeter University’s Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition (EEIST) project. For medium sized cars, that tipping point is expected as early as 2024 in Europe, 2025 in China, 2026 in the US, and 2027 in India. Smaller vehicles will get there even more quickly.

For now, internal combustion engines still rule the road, but the combined forces of cheaper EVs, the ongoing buildout of charging capacity and the constant fluctuations of gasoline prices might end that reign sooner than we expected.

Concrete causes eight percent of carbon emissions across the world. How do we change that?

When we think of how to reduce carbon emissions, we tend to think about changing how we get our energy and how we use it. That often means flashy technology like EVs, home solar energy systems or wind turbines.

But reaching our net zero goals is an “all-hands-on-deck” undertaking. A lot of emissions come from generating energy, but what else puts carbon in the atmosphere and how do we lower those emissions?.

One of the surprisingly biggest contributors to atmospheric carbon surrounds us every day in the built environment–concrete. After water, concrete is the most widely used material in the world, and making it puts a lot of carbon in the atmosphere–a whopping 8% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions globally.

Concrete has two big carbon problems.

The first is that one of the key ingredients, limestone, has to be heated to high temperatures. The cheapest way to achieve those temperatures has traditionally been with fossil fuels.

The other reason is the limestone itself. Heating the limestone “calcinates” it, causing it to release even more carbon dioxide. In fact, about half the carbon emissions from concrete manufacturing comes from this chemical reaction. Forty percent comes from heating the kiln, and most of the remaining 10% comes from transporting the very heavy materials from where they’re mined to the facility. (2)

With this complex mix, decarbonizing concrete has always been one of the biggest challenges to reaching net zero.

Enter Terra CO2.

Terra CO2 has developed a method to transform silicate rocks, including granite, basalt, sand, gravel, and clay-sand mixtures into “supplementary cementitious material”, or SCM. The company estimates that each ton of cement replaced by Terra’s SCM leads to a 70% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. And while Terra CO2’s reactors currently rely on fossil fuels, the potential for a transition to clean-electricity-powered high-heat sources could render the process entirely carbon-neutral.

Although there are other ways to create SCM, finding a way to use silicate rock is a big breakthrough. The raw material is very common, so transportation distances can be kept very low. And it’s very cheap—an important factor in cement and concrete production. The industry’s tight profit margins mean green technologies need to also reduce costs. Terra CO2’s method is easily scalable, even as its SCM meets the most stringent construction standards.

Last week, Terra CO2 unveiled plans to build a facility in Texas, marking a significant stride towards commercializing its technology. This facility is projected to produce up to 240,000 metric tons of SCM. (4)

In 2018, The Guardian labeled concrete as the most destructive material on the planet, so any innovation that reduces its impact is a big step toward reaching the world’s net zero goals.

The Weekly Sunsong

We might be close to climate-friendly concrete, but Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders still think we should break it all up: