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Audi A3 g-tron goes on sale in Germany; CO2-neutral in e-gas mode

13 February 2014

Advance sales of the Audi A3 g-tron began at dealerships in Germany, at a base price of €25,900 (US$35,400). Its 1.4-liter TFSI engine developing 81 kW (110 hp) can be operated using either natural gas, e-gas generated by Audi (earlier post) or gasoline. In pure e-gas mode, using the Audi e-gas fuel card, the g-tron is CO2-neutral, Audi says.

A3g140002_medium
Audi A3 g-tron. Click to enlarge.

The Audi A3 g-tron forms part of a new, integrated sustainable mobility concept from the brand. Audi e-gas is a synthetic methane that is produced using renewable energy at the Audi e-gas facility located in Werlte in Lower Saxony, Germany—the first industrial power-to-gas plant.

The process for generating Audi e-gas using green electricity binds as much CO2 as is released when the Audi A3 g-tron is driven in gas mode.

On average the Audi A3 g-tron consumes between 3.2 and 3.3 kilograms of gas per 100 kilometers. Fuel costs at present start at around €3.50 (US$4.78) per 100 kilometers.

The buying principle for Audi e-gas is straightforward and corresponds to how green electricity is distributed: Audi records the quantities of gas that the customer pays for using the Audi e-gas fuel card and ensures that exactly this amount of Audi e-gas is fed into the German natural gas network.

Customers who choose this option can obtain an Audi e-gas fuel card for a flat price of €14.95 (US$20.43) per month. In addition, the costs for the quantities of gas refueled by each customer are deducted via the Audi e-gas fuel card. The card can be used to purchase Audi e-gas at more than 650 fuel stations in Germany.

In addition to our e-mobility developments, the Audi e-gas project is an important pillar of our sustainability strategy—as is the development of other synthetic fuels.

—Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development

Audi is also operating a research facility for the production of Audi e-ethanol and e-diesel with its partner Joule in Hobbs, New Mexico. (Earlier post.) Moreover, the company is conducting research into the synthetic manufacture of Audi e-gasoline (bio-isooctane) in cooperation with Global Bioenergies (earlier post).

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So you have a virtual green car.
The gas you pump into it is most likely fossil, but is offset by bio gas.
OK,
but you have to opt in.

Now you could take it a stage further.
Suppose you have a car at 124 gms/km, and you want to get it down to 119 gms for tax reasons.

The manufacturer could opt to pump an equivalent amount of bio gas into the gas grid so as to bring the CO2 level / mile down to whatever you like.

They could either pay per km, or estimate (say 16000 kms per year and pay for that).
You could do this whether the car runs on gas or gasoline or diesel.

As long as you have enough biogas, you can do this.

It would make the CO2 pricing very clear - which is the cheapest way to reduce the CO2 emissions of a car - by making the car better, or by offsetting fossil fuel with bio fuel.

It would also make it easier to get cars to the magic 119 (or 120) or whatever gms/km levels. You design for 119, and if you miss it, you offset with biogas, rather than busting a gut to improve the engine.

In particular, you could use a "biofuel bridge" to release the car now and fix the CO2 problem in a less panicky fashion.

This would only be "green" if you had an excess of "green" electricity. However, if you have to make up the electricity wasted making hydrogen by burning coal which is almost certainly the case in Germany especially after the "green" crazies shut down the nuclear plants, it is very hard to make the argument that you are somehow carbon neutral.

With renewable energy facilities in place, Germany has 25% of it's energy provided as long as there is wind or sunshine.

Germany continues adding renewable energy and doesn't fear or pay $billions a year for decades of cleaning Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster like events.

Meanwhile, Germany bulldozes villages to make way for strip mines for lignite.

Some "renewable" program there.  How do you renew a village after you've destroyed its buildings and its history?

Germany will shut down its last eight "black coal" underground mines by 2018, according to a plan approved in 2007 by Angela Merkel's government. The phaseout, which does not affect Germany's "brown coal" surface mines, will be reviewed by parliament in 2012. Seven of the mines are located in Rhine-Westphalia, and one is located in the Saarland. The plan has been approved by German mining conglomerate RFG, which intends to refocus itself on real estate, power generation, and chemicals. It has also been approved by the Social Democratic party and by Germany's mining union. The agreement was favored by Germany's conservative parties, which looked forward to ending the 2.5 million-Euro subsidy received by the underground mining sector. Under the arrangement, the subsidy will continue until the mines are finally closed. The phaseout will eliminate 35,000 mining jobs; jobs in the underground mining sector had already declined from 166,000 in 1985. At its peak in 1957, the sector employed 607,000 miners.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Germany_and_coal

EuroCoal reports that lignite coal use should remain stable until 2020, but will likely disappear as an energy source by 2050. Extraction of lignite from opencast mines changes the natural landscape, so land reclamation is an integral part of any mining project.
http://www.euracoal.be/pages/layout1sp.php?idpage=72

Germany's recent uptick in coal consumption has been a temporary situation, primarily driven by high natural gas prices which made coal power cheaper. It's simply incorrect to lay that at the feet of the nuclear power phaseout or renewables.
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/myth-busting-germanys-energy-transition/

Reclamation of land and resettlement of towns is of course a huge cost to German coal miners and is one of the reasons they're willing to stop.
http://web.ornl.gov/info/reports/1972/3445605662636.pdf

Its a good job then that Germany relies on politically stable places like Russia for its natural gas, or a supply interruption could be nasty.

Well, in 2011 a new pipeline, the Nord Stream, directly connected Russian gas suppliers to Germany through the Baltic Sea. But before that the gas had to go through other countries that had a history of disputes with Russia:

Russia cut gas supply to Ukraine in 1991 and 1992.

Energy to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was cut off in winter 1992-1993 order to affect a policy change.

Russia–Ukraine gas disputes in 1994.

Oil deliveries to Lithuania were cut off 9 times in 1998-1999 alone.

Gas supply to Moldova was cut off in the winter of 1999.

Georgia in January 2001.

In 2001, Lithuania sold Mazeikiu refinery to an American company instead of Russian company. Russian Lukoil started to harass the company.

In 2002, Russia cut oil deliveries to Ventspils Nafta in Latvia. A Russian company had earlier attempted to acquire it, but had failed.

Georgia in 2003.

Russia cut gas supply to Ukraine in 2005-2006 and in 2007-2008.

Russia–Belarus energy dispute in 2007.

In 2007, Swedish Defence Research Agency's 110-page study Nord Stream, Sweden and Baltic Sea Security (2007) counted over 55 incidents (cut-offs, explicit threats, coercive price policy and certain take-overs) since 1991, most with "both political and economic underpinnings".

Russia cut gas supply to Ukraine in 2008-2009.

Germany's uptick in coal consumption is due in no small part to its use as balancing for "renewables", which were planned and specified as replacements for nuclear energy.  The Energiewende scheme as a whole is neither renewable nor sustainable.

Germany has reduced its emissions 27% since 1990 and surpassed its targets under the Kyoto protocol in 2009. The increase that you're wailing about was 1.6%, "statistical noise." What they are doing is working.

Meanwhile, as of 2010, greenhouse gas emissions levels for America were 10.5% higher than 1990 and for Canada they are 19% higher.

Concerns from Americans or Canadians about German emissions are the height of hypocrisy. While we re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic by shifting from coal to gas, the Germans are doing exactly what they have said that they would do: Transition off of nuclear power, and fossil fuels, and move to renewables. Even if they go against their current plan to phase out coal completely by 2050 and keep a few open for "balancing" they will have still reduced their emissions to a point lower than anyone ask of them.

Germany has reduced its emissions 27% since 1990

The 1990 baseline was pre-unification, when all the dirty East German industry was still running.  "Ein fur ein" made it all uneconomic, and it was shut down post haste.  In effect, Germany got carte blanche to cheat.

The increase that you're wailing about was 1.6%, "statistical noise." What they are doing is working.

Real progress would overwhelm any minor statistical noise.  Germany claims to be a leader in protecting the environment, but reducing CO2 emissions is a distant fourth in the Energiewende's list of priorities.

as of 2010, greenhouse gas emissions levels for America were 10.5% higher than 1990 and for Canada they are 19% higher.

This isn't a contest.  The USA isn't even in the game, and the immigration-driven growth in population plus the need to stay away from minority-dominated areas to avoid winding up like Kyle Jobin means fuel consumption.

Concerns from Americans or Canadians about German emissions are the height of hypocrisy.

Ad-hominem fallacy.  Does that mean Michael Mann and James Hansen have to shut up?  The identify of the speaker has ZERO bearing on whether a statement or argument is true.

What is key is actually getting CO2 emissions down by a minimum of 80%.  It doesn't matter who, and it scarcely matters how.  But ruinously expensive "transitions" which are purported to address the problem, but are actually designed for other ends and thus fail, don't merely waste money.  They discredit the entire idea.  THAT is a problem no matter who or where on earth you are.

they will have still reduced their emissions to a point lower than anyone ask of them.

What's being asked is a tiny fraction of what's required.  We need to be aiming for 90-100% cuts in carbon emissions, like electrifying ground transport with nuclear power.  Germany is locking in lignite use.  No matter how much more wrong others are, Germany is still wrong.

We need to be aiming for 90-100% cuts in carbon emissions, like electrifying ground transport with nuclear power. Germany is locking in lignite use.

First off the Germans ARE NOT locking in lignite use. Every one in their government AND their coal industry is saying it will be phased out by 2050.

Second: We are not the French, we will never get 90-100% nuclear power. You're a nuclear engineer right? You're defending your turf because you see the promise of nuclear energy, and I agree: Technology wise it can do the job. But the problem isn't in the engineering, it is in the poetry - the hearts and minds of people reject it.

We will not get enough nuclear power plants built in the time frame needed.

First off the Germans ARE NOT locking in lignite use. Every one in their government AND their coal industry is saying it will be phased out by 2050.

You believe them?  Not too long ago they were going to switch to natural gas.  That went by the boards when gas prices went too high.  High penetrations of wind + solar require massive amounts of storage, but their rigged market prices are killing the tiny amount of pumped hydro storage they've got.  What they are doing proves that what they are saying is simply not going to happen.

Second: We are not the French, we will never get 90-100% nuclear power.

The USA (who's "we"?) was once on a track to complete replacement of coal-fired power by uranium.

You're a nuclear engineer right? You're defending your turf

I'm an electrical engineer.  I've never worked on a nuclear project.  I don't have a dog in this fight, all I have is my desire to preserve the environment and the economy.  What I see is that "renewables" are sold as the be-all and end-all of all things environmental... and they manifestly cannot live up to that.  There's not one country or grid that has effectively weaned off fossil fuels using WWS, and excellent reasons to believe that diminishing returns make it impossible.  Meanwhile existing examples show we can de-carbonize entire sectors, like ground transport, using nuclear.

the problem isn't in the engineering, it is in the poetry - the hearts and minds of people reject it.

There are plenty of people who despise wind farms and fields of solar mirrors as greenie nonsense, and a majority of Americans support nuclear energy.  The only ones who need their hearts changed are those self-same greenies, and the "duck and cover" generation steeped in unreasoning fear of all things nuclear is dying off.

We will not get enough nuclear power plants built in the time frame needed.

Anyone selling wind as "the pragmatic choice" is actually selling natural gas.  The climate scientists say we need 80% cuts minimum (McKibben's 350 ppm would require negative emissions), and the power engineers say that's not going to happen with variable supplies that require combustion-based backup.  Meanwhile, nuclear has actually done the job in France and Ontario.  Physics doesn't care about hearts and minds.  There's only one choice, and "renewables" aren't it.

EP:
OT, but there is an interesting discussion on the best way of providing electric charging for cars at work at:
http://insideevs.com/lessons-learned-from-6-years-of-workplace-charging/

It could do with the input of an EE, instead of our guesswork!

Ai_Vin. Well said and thank you for the relevant info.

Wind and Solar will continue to gain energy market share worldwide and at a much faster rate when energy capture and storage technologies improve.

E-P. Ontario is having a serious problem with it's nuclear power plants. More than 50% are due or overdue for major overhauls. With major overhaul cost going between $0.12/kWh and $0.15/kWh, Ontario is looking at other sources. No new NPP are planned. The long term contract to buy very low cost Hydro power from Quebec is soon coming to an end.

With major overhaul cost going between $0.12/kWh and $0.15/kWh

Meanwhile, the Ontario wind feed-in tariff is approximately the same, only with wind you ALSO get

  1. the added costs of backup and/or storage paid separately from the FIT, and
  2. generation during hours of minimum demand in excess of the remaining load after "must-run" generators are considered, so power must be sold to other grids at a net loss.
Yeah, wind is all fine and dandy.  Not.

Well sure there are people who despise wind farms and fields of solar mirrors but you're comparing NIMBYs to NIABYs. (Not In My BackYard vs. Not In Anyone's BackYard)

Question asked: Do I believe them?

Answer: I never believe anything without confirmation.
As of now I have it.
http://climatecrocks.com/2014/03/08/the-other-death-spiral-centralized-utilities-now-germanys-walking-dead/

German energy giant RWE has taken a massive loss of €2.8 billion – it’s first loss in 60 years – after admitting it got its strategy wrong, and should have focused more on renewable and distributed energy rather than conventional fossil fuels.

RWE, like other major German utilities, has spent much of the past decade fighting against the country’s “energiewende”, the energy transition that is seeing it dump nuclear energy and transform the electricity system of Europe’s biggest manufacturing economy to one dominated by renewables.

Last night, Peter Terium, who has been CEO for less than two years, conceded that the company had got it wrong. He admitted that the change in electricity markets, which has seen earnings from conventional generation gutted by the impact of solar and wind energy, was “unstoppable”. It was now time to change strategy, and focus on what the electricity market will look like in the future.

“I grant that we have made mistakes,” Terium said in a prepared speech to a media conference accompanying his result. “We were late entering into the renewables market – possibly too late.”

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