Energy Injustice and Nordic Electric Mobility: Inequality, Elitism, and Externalities in the Electrification of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Transport

Much research on electric mobility transitions has been descriptive or positive, rather than normative or critical, assessing the deeper ethical, justice, or moral issues that arise. To address this gap, this study qualitatively examines the ongoing transition to Nordic electric vehicles(EVs) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems. It does so through the various lenses of distributive justiceprocedural justice, cosmopolitan justice, and recognition justice. It asks: what are the types of injustices associated with electric mobility and V2G? In what ways do emerging patterns of electric mobility worsen socio-environmental risks or vulnerabilities? Based on original primary data collected from 257 experts across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, the study finds that electric mobility can erode elements of distributive justice for being accessible only to the rich, and for raising risks related to privacy, hacking, and cyberterrorism. Electric mobility may contravene aspects of procedural justice by reinforcing exclusion and elitism in national planning. It can erode cosmopolitan justice by producing negative environmental externalities, and exacerbating rural (and global) vulnerability. It may threaten recognition justice through unemployment, disruption to traditional businesses, and the entrenchment of patriarchy. Thankfully, the study also proposes a suite of policy mechanisms to address many of these concerns.

By Benjamin K. Sovacool, Johannes Kester, Lance Noel, Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens.

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The role of intermediate trade in the change of carbon flows within China

In recent years, evaluating the emissions embodied in trade (EEIT) has become an important area of policy and research. Multiregional input-output (MRIO) analysis, which links producers and final consumers, is a widely-used method for quantifying the EEIT. However, the role of intermediate trade in driving changes in the EEIT is still not fully incorporated in MRIO analysis and as a result poorly understood. Here, we present a framework that separately identifies the drivers of the emissions embodied in the trade of final and intermediate products. We implement this framework in a case study in which we analyse the changes in CO2 emissions embodied in interprovincial trade in China from 2007 to 2012. We find that the largest changes are a rising final demand, which is associated with increased emissions that are to some extent offset by decreasing emissions intensity and changing interregional dependency. Regionally, the rising imports and the growth in final demand in less developed regions in the north and central (e.g., Hebei and Henan) reduced the CO2 emissions outsourced by central coastal regions and drove the traded embodied CO2 flows between the central and western regions. The framework enriches our understanding of the role played by intermediate trade in the relocation of emissions.

Written by Jing Meng, Zengkai Zhang, Zhifu Mi, Laura Diaz Anadon, Heran Zheng, Bo Zhang, Yuli Shan and Dabo Guan.

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A dynamic analysis of financing conditions for renewable energy technologies

Renewable energy technologies often face high upfront costs, making financing conditions highly relevant. Thus far, the dynamics of financing conditions are poorly understood. Here, we provide empirical data covering 133 representative utility-scale photovoltaic and onshore wind projects in Germany over the last 18 years. These data reveal that financing conditions have strongly improved. As drivers, we identify macroeconomic conditions (general interest rate) and experience effects within the renewable energy finance industry. For the latter, we estimate experience rates. These two effects contribute 5% (photovoltaic) and 24% (wind) to the observed reductions in levelized costs of electricity (LCOEs). Our results imply that extant studies may overestimate technological learning and that increases in the general interest rate may increase renewable energies’ LCOEs, casting doubt on the efficacy of plans to phase out policy support.

Written by Florian Egli, Bjarne Steffen and Tobias S. Schmidt

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