TOWNS THAT ARE WORTH LIVING IN ARE LARGELY INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE COMBUSTION ENGINE
Until recently we lived in world of harmonious mobility orchestrated by politicians and the car industry. Now many different sounds can be heard which don't seem to produce a catchy melody. Time to take a sober view of the situation. The changes are actually not just a passing fad, they go deeper. They affect areas ranging from energy and the supply of raw materials to transport and the design of our living and cultural spaces. This is not like the good old symphony orchestra playing a new piece – here another band is at work composing a new genre.
CLASSICS ARE SEARCHING FOR THEIR AUDIENCE
The traditional car industry with its internal combustion engines will no longer play first fiddle. For instance, the e-car has 15 to 20 moving parts – while a normal car has roughly a hundred times as many. The producers of fossil fuels are also losing out. The surprisingly rapid growth of e-mobility and the drop in the costs of photovoltaics have led to a revision of long-term forecasts: in the next ten years fossil fuels could lose over 10 percent of their market share just to solar power. By the way, it was this level of reduction in market share which led to the collapse of the US coal industry.
THE NEW STAR IS POWERED UP
We're getting the mobility revolution under way. But anyone who takes an unbiased look at things will ask himself where the electricity for the complete electrification of the transport sector is meant to come from. For Great Britain alone (in 2050 when 90 percent of vehicles are to be electric-powered) the increased consumption is estimated to be 18 gigawatts per year. That's roughly as much as the capacity of the planned new Hinkley Point power station. About a third of future energy consumption will have to be provided through energy efficiency measures. It’s also expected that at peak times the consumption of electricity will have to be cut back – for instance by staggering car charging times. The decline in electricity prices in Europe shows that the structures from the last century can't play a useful role. The lack of clean electricity isn't the only problem: in order to control the whole range of electrification, the regional electricity markets also have to be completely reformed.
DIGITAL ORCHESTRATION AND A HIGH RAW MATERIALS CONTENT
The digital management of storage, transmission and consumption will enable fluctuations in electricity supply and any timing deficiencies in the synchronisation of electricity generation and consumption to be handled "smartly". But the low-carbon (battery-powered) world remains a pipe dream: the World Bank is warning of a more intensive use of raw materials and adverse consequences for production. Big mining and chemical companies are already positioning themselves: lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt are in demand. Innovations are needed to make production more sustainable and to fully close the materials life cycles soon. Price signals from regulatory bodies shouldn't be necessary if there are shortages and price increases. And the manufacturers of conventional catalysts? Will they disappear off-stage together with the combustion engine? Or will they secure a key position in the market for supplying clean energy using alternative materials and cycle concepts?