Success and Failure of Green Energy Transport System in Cities without Petroleum

Better Place, an Israeli company which had been referred to as the rising star having the most promising solution to the energy system for electric vehicles, recently filed a bankruptcy petition and such an act shocked the world. Because of the high cost of infrastructure and low energy utilization efficiency, the initially perfect business model still cannot maintain its operation even Better Place charges a fee as high as US$ 58 per kilometer. Currently, the electric vehicle market is in its infancy. While the market environment has no economy of scale, the only chance to maintain a sustainable operation in the green energy sector is improving the energy utilization efficiency.

Better Place promotes the vehicle/battery separation and battery exchange schemes. In order to meet the vehicle owner’s demand for battery swapping system anywhere as much as possible, the company constructed a number of battery swap stations so that the customers can easily charge the battery at home or replace the battery for the energy replenishment demand at any time. However, due to the vehicle owner’s irregular daily driving mileage and time, the swap stations are not fully utilized, which in turn leads to the low energy utilization efficiency and poor economic efficacy. In the case of unexpected low revenue, the company filed for bankruptcy because they were not able to maintain business operation.

The blueprint for an ideal urban electric vehicle planning can be roughly as shown in the figure above. If the same business model is applied to city buses which have fixed everyday operation time (with the characteristics of fixed locations, regular timing, and fixed distances), the energy utilization efficiency can be improved while promoting the clean energy policy in the city (as Zone 1 in the above figure). With gradually increased construction of battery swap service stations, the business model can be extended to other categories of vehicles (Zone 2 – Zone 5) and the resultant complete energy service system can cover the entire city, which can be as convenient as the gas stations today, and to meet the dynamic energy supply requirements for cars.

In a city, 40% of the carbon dioxide emission comes from transportation vehicles. The emission from a diesel bus is equivalent to the pollutant emission from forty small cars. In accordance with the government policy for promoting new energy vehicles, the public are able to immediately enjoy the freshness and comfort brought to you by the electric buses.