Ford researchers suggest using higher ethanol blends to boost the minimum octane number of regular-grade gasoline
DOE to award up to $15M for technologies to produce bio-oils for use as feedstocks in petroleum refineries

Hybrids take 16% of new vehicle market in Japan in FY 2011, where Prius #1 seller; 1% in France (corrected)

Integrity Exports reports that hybrid cars in Japan accounted for 16% of all new car sales in fiscal year 2011 (April 2011 through end of March 2012), according to figures from the Japan Mini Vehicles Association and Japan Auto Dealers Association.

The Toyota Prius retained its crown as Japan’s best-selling car in the 2011 financial year, making it a third straight win in a row.

In France, hybrids broke through the 1% mark in March, with the increase in sales of the Citroën DS5 hybrid and Peugeot 508 RXH.



Toyota said they could half their HSD part count.

Has this happened?


With 16% versus about 1% in USA and most other countries, Japan is light years ahead. Will the next country to succeed be China or USA or EU? Will it be with HEVs, PHEVs or BEVs? Interesting questions?


16% vs 1%

all it takes is a Tsunami and nuclear meltdown to motivate people.


AND ever bigger subsidies.


Higher fuel prices.


And better bateries


And a country where diesel is discouraged and most people do not feel the need to drive monster cars.
Also an ageing population and a population with the view that the world's resources are scarce and should be conserved.
If you look at the account of Tokugawa Japan in Jared Diamond's Collapse, he tells that the emperor forbade excess tree felling and so preserved the economy, environment and society.
The Japanese are used to living in a resource constrained manner, and could probably teach the rest of the world a thing or two about it.



US hybrid sales are about 4% of the LDV fleet if I am correct. The 1% is France. The Prius is responsible for more than 50% of hybrid sales.


Anne....4% may be correct for March 2012 but was only about 1.0% to 1.5% for 2011 when ultra mild hybrids (i.e. units with stop-start falsely called hybrids) and diesels are excluded.

Don't know why alternative fuel vehicles, stop-start equipped vehicles and HEVs are often pooled together in USA.

Account Deleted



It is time you turned your caps lock off Wala.

Rough estimates of hybrid sales in the U.S. would be 300,000 units or just over 2% at present run rate. We are coming back to around 14 million units per year.

The Prius sells about 200,000 units, Honda Civic and Insight hybrids maybe 40,000 units, Camry, Altima, Fusion, Escape and Highlander and others maybe 60,000 units.

These are estimates just to gauge magnitude, but you can see that you would have to sell quite a few more to get the total up to 3%. I make no conclusions other than to mention this.

Experts said 10 years ago that hybrids would level out at about 2.5% of vehicle sales in the U.S. and it looks like they were not far off.



The number never dropped below 2%.

According to about hybrid market share was 2.1% in 2011. In individual months it went lower than that. One of the things that could have kept back hybrid sales is supply constraint caused by the tsunami.



Viewing the strong march sales of hybrids (4%) and introduction of more Prius models, combined with the outlook of even higher petrol prices, my view is that the experts will be proven wrong.


Nirmalkumar has a point, though, if the whole world tries to consume at the same level as the USA, we are all going to hell in a handcart, rather quickly.

Even if they only consume at the level of Europe or Japan, we are still going to hell in a (slightly slower) handcart.

There have been NO energy innovations in the last 30-40 years.

Nothing since nuclear fission, and that is not exactly being welcomed with open arms (for obvious reasons).

You might say that "big wind" or "cheap solar" are major innovations, but they are hugely flawed (due to intermittency) and only work because they have fossil fuels to back them up. (You can argue that you can use Hydro as a backup, but this is not available worldwide, only in certain lucky countries).

So we have quite a big problem. If the next 3 billion try to consume at the same rate as the first 3/4 billion, we are in for it.

Solution - sorry, that is another day's work.



Thanks for the 2011 numbers, you could be right, with $4 gasoline anything could happen if it stays at the level long enough.


@mahonj - Collapse and "Guns, Germs, and Steel" are two of my favorite books. Someone did point out that Japan is very respectful of its own trees, but has no problem cutting down trees of other countries. Also, in Collapse, there are Indian civilizations that didn't mind their ecology very well and didn't make it. Hopefully, we will learn how to be more efficient and everyone on the planet can benefit from these gains. I think Toyota has the winning formula with the Prius technology. I don't think pure BEVs will overtake HEVs for quite sometime.



Hydro is available all over the world. Probably you mean to say that it is not available in each country. Does that matter? Not at all. Countries depend on each other for so many things: oil, iron ore, financial services, wheat, labour, equipment. Why should it be a problem for renewable energy?

Most obvious example are Denmark and Norway/Sweden. Is wind power not a viable option for Denmark because they have no hydro to balance the variability? Would nuclear then be a better choice for the Danes?

But they have no uranium! That would make them dependent on Canada for uranium. Weird thing is that people never use this as an argument against nuclear power. Should they opt for natural gas from Russia, and become dependent on Putin's 'democracy'?

If I were Danish I'd prefer to rely on my friendly neighbours to the north, thank you.

Then another issue. Wind is not intermittent, it is variable. As I write this, wind is producing (as a percentage of installed capacity):
Denmark - 20%
Germany - 9%
UK - 50%
Spain - 25%

As you can see, wind can be balanced by . . . wind.

What is primarily needed is reinforced international connections to connect wind over a large area. This greatly reduces the variability. Europe is working on this. A few years ago the NorNed HVDC connection was commissioned, followed later this year by BritNed and in 2015 Cobra (Denmark-The Netherlands). More are in the pipeline.



Sorry to bother you once more ;)

One thing that I forgot to mention is that another option for balancing is biomass. It doesn't have to be fossil fuels. Hydrocarbons of any kind will do fine.


a: hydro is not available in every country - as you say
b: There isn't anything like enough of it.
c: There is opposition every time people try to build a big dam, so it is expanding very slowly (in the developed world anyway).
d: It is a perfect compliment to intermittant renewables, but
b: There isn't anything like enough of it.

e: Denmark is a bit of a special case because they have Norway as a neighbour which is overflowing with hydro, and Germany to the south where they can sell excess wind.
Nonetheless, they have only got to 21% electricity from wind - this from the country that more or less invented "big wind".

f: You can at least store a couple of years' worth of Uranium, which is more than you can do with electricity or gas.
g: I would have thought relying on Canada or Australia would be equivalent to relying on Norway - in terms of all 3 countries being "nice people we can do business with", rather than say Russia or Iran.
As you point out, Russia has curtailed gas exports to Ukraine (and hence the rest of Europe).

h: >> UK - 50% - what do you mean here - the UK does not get 50% if it's electricity from wind. The maximum it has got was 12.2% on the 28th December 2011.

i: >> As you can see, wind can be balanced by . . . wind.

I do not understand that statement.

j: Interconnections - you are right - we need more of these, but there is increasing opposition to high tension cables nowadays so it is a battle to get them built, and a lot will be built if you want to move energy from (say) Spain to Germany.

k: Biomass.
How much land do you think you would need to create enough biomass to buffer wind (and solar). Europe is not big enough to do this - The amount would be enormous.
There is certainly a fair amount of wood cuttings, etc around, but nothing like enough to take over from coal or Nuclear. It just won't scale.

I think the main thing is to look at the figures.

Denmark, the world leader in wind, with Norway to it's north and Germany to its south, the inventor of the modern wind generator gets 28 percent of its electricity from wind, while France, with nuclear, can get 79% from Nukes.

I am not totally against wind and solar, I am just against overselling it. There are days when you can get 1250 MW there are days when the same wind network gives you < 30 MW.
See and put in 2/4/2012 for the still day and 3/4/2012 for a windier day (next day).

You can't build an electricity supply system on that kind of variability.



a. Irrelevant.
b. How do you know there is not enough hydro? Do you have support for that statement?
c. See b.
d. Totally true
e. All countries have neighbours. Large countries have smaller variability because they are - well - bigger.

"they have only got to 21% electricity from wind"

Pure spin. You suggest they they tried and somehow never succeeded in getting beyond 21%. They paused for a few years and are now growing again. Over 2011 they got 26% from wind. They have committed themselves to grow to 50% in 2025.

f. Huh? Store uranium for a couple of years? How is that an argument against wind? But if you really have the urge to stockpile something, you can do so with biomass.

h., i. That was not what I meant. Wind was producing at 50% of installed wind capacity in the UK. That means it produced 2x as much as the expected value, which is ~25% (average capacity factor of modern wind turbines). This was to show that at any given time, the wind speed differs in the various countries. Lack of wind in Germany can be compensated by overproduction in the UK. That's what I meant by wind can be backed up by wind.

j: Although more expensive, HVDC can be underground. But you're correct, opposition kills anything. Also new nukes (especially in Germany ;).

k: Europe now gets 4% of its energy from biomass (primary energy). For electricity generation, the share is a bit less. My best guess is we won't need more than 10% from biomass, just for backup purposes. There is still much growth potential, so your assertion:

"Europe is not big enough to do this [...] It just won't scale."

does not seem to be true. If you have the sources to prove that, I'd like to see them.

"See "

Thanks for the link. I'll add it to my collection of real-time data for the UK, Spain, Denmark and Germany.

But, again, you are pointing to 1 isolated, small country and 1 type of generation. I've gone over this before. Countries are NOT isolated, they are connected. The wind speed isn't equal over all of Europe. There are more technologies available. So, first connect wind and solar and geothermal and hydro and marine power over all of Europe and then see what variability remains. It will be much smaller. Look at the figures - and try to understand what they mean.

"You can't build an electricity supply system on that kind of variability.".

Your mistake is to think we have to.

Roger Pham

Thanks, Anne, for the info on RE developements in Europe and the insightful discussion. I wish to see the developments of the same level in the USA.


I (get that tag!) think Anne understates the issues relating to hydropower.  Even if there is enough river flow and migratory fish aren't a factor, the unseasonal changes in flow due to demand buffering will be a problem for many species.

The other factor is the lack of supply.  The USA's schedulable (not "run of the river") hydropower resources are tapped out.  Canada's total hydropower potential is 163 GW, compared to nameplate US generation capacity of over 1000 GW.

18 months of fuel supply for a LWR is about 1/3 of a core-load.  It can be delivered on one, maybe two trucks.  The USA has about 500,000 tons of uranium in inventory, enough to run the country for about 300 years using fast-spectrum reactors.  That's where the real energy storage is.


Trying to kill the bold.



I get your point :)

You are quick to name all kinds of potential problems with fish etc, but how much does that really hamper the use of hydro for balancing variable renewables? I'm sorry to say that it seems more like FUD than knowledge.

The variability for which hydro is most suitable is the one with a cycle of at most a few days. That is on the same timescale as the daily fluctuation of demand, for which hydro is extensively used across the world. Most hydro dams have more than a couple of days worth of water.

I take Spain as an example because they give the most detailed data.

According to REE, at the end of january the reservoirs were at 50% of maximum capacity representing


(Ok, that reply was somehow posted too soon)

... representing 9 TWh. To put that in context: that is about 12 days worth of Spanish consumption.

From previous years, I can see that the level in the reservoirs at the end of january varies between 42% and 70%, meaning they have a bandwidth of least 28% to use for balancing purposes. It is probably more than that.

You can see the real time energy generation here and how they use mainly hydro to compensate variability (all, not just wind and solar, but also demand variability).

I have no such detailed data for other countries, but I take it they are not too different from Spain.

Fast-spectrum reactors are like fusion: the energy source of the future. Forever. I'm not against it, but there just doesn't seem to be any progress. We need a solution now, not by the end of the century.

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