Month: September 2021

Hyundai Motor Group unveils its hydrogen strategy, plans to offer fuel-cell versions of commercial cars by 2028

Hyundai Motor Group Vision FK

Image Credits: Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group is backing hydrogen as a top energy solution for sustainability. With its new fuel cell system that it plans to launch in the next few years, the South Korean automaker said it will provide hydrogen fuel cell versions for all its commercial vehicles by 2028.

Hyundai announced its strategy for the future of hydrogen on Tuesday during a livestream of the automaker’s Hydrogen Wave conference. Saehoon Kim, executive vice president and head of the fuel cell center at Hyundai Motor Group, said Hyundai’s goal is to also achieve cost competitiveness comparable to that of EV batteries by 2030.

The company also shared details about its high-performance, rear-wheel-drive hydrogen sports car, the Vision FK, with a 500kW fuel cell system that can push it from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in less than four seconds and has 600 kilometers (373 miles) of range. Hyundai did not share when the vehicle would go into production.

As most automakers begin to roll out electric vehicles for both passenger and commercial use, hydrogen is still a bit of a niche market, but one that is growing as Europe, China and the United States set ambitious emissions reductions goals. Toyota Motor Corp., BMW and Daimler have all begun embracing hydrogen fuel cell technology to varying degrees, even as they continue to develop exclusively electric vehicles. For its part, Hyundai’s commitment to hydrogen doesn’t deter from its commitment to electric. With the climate situation as it is, we’re facing an all hands on deck situation. May the best fuel win.

At the event, Kim also announced Hyundai’s plans to launch two new hydrogen fuel cell powertrains in 2023, which the company hopes will help make hydrogen mainstream by 2040. The third generation of Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel stack will come in either 100kW or 200kW outputs for either passenger cars or commercial vehicles, respectively.

Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Hyundai, Kia and Genesis, has one fuel cell bus on the market today, the Elec City Fuel Cell bus, with 115 buses live on the road in South Korea. The automaker also has one fuel cell truck, the Xcient Hyundai, on the market, 45 of which were launched in Switzerland last year.

Hyundai boasts a fuel cell SUV, the NEXO, with plans to introduce the next model in 2023, alongside a hydrogen-powered multi-purpose vehicle model. The company announced at the IAA Mobility conference in Munich that it would also launch a large fuel cell-powered SUV after 2025, as well as four more commercial vehicles by the end of the decade. The company aims to provide fuel cell technology for different use cases, including emergency vehicles, ships, freights, trams, forklifts and other vehicles for industrial processes.

“Fuel cell is a proven technology that can deliver the benefits of hydrogen to people around the world in various fields,” said Kim. “Basically, a fuel cell is a power generator like an engine. It differs from a battery which stores electricity. A fuel cell system consists of a fuel cell stack that generates electricity, a hydrogen supply system, an air supply system and a thermal management system. It generates power by combining hydrogen and oxygen, similar to the engine of an internal combustion vehicle, but without the carbon emissions.”

Kim went on to explain that fuel cell systems produce energy through chemical reactions and operate as long as hydrogen fuel is supplied, unlike a battery which just passively stores energy. He said Hyundai is working on building up the necessary ecosystem to create success in the hydrogen space, including production, storage, fuel cell technology and infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure would be solar and wind sources that would produce the renewable energy needed to create clean power to split water into oxygen and “green” hydrogen.

Alongside its own research and development, Hyundai Motor has also already invested in hydrogen startups like H2Pro and has announced plans to establish green hydrogen infrastructures in countries with supportive governments and abundant renewable energy resources.

Much of the movement in this space comes after the group announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2045 and to reduce its emissions by 75% below 2019 levels by 2040. By 2030, Hyundai expects 30% of all vehicle sales to be zero emission, with battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles taking up 80% of total fleet sales by 2040.

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Coinbase to propose a federal regulatory framework for crypto to US officials within the next month

Coinbase Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong

Image Credits: Steve Jennings / Getty Images

Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase wants to help guide any emerging regulation on exchanges like itself, for obvious reasons, and in an interview with TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 on Tuesday, Coinbase CEO and founder Brian Armstrong revealed it’s preparing a draft regulatory framework for consideration by federal lawmakers which it aims to distribute sometime within the next month.

“Coinbase wants to be an advisor and a helpful advocate for how the U.S. can create that sensible regulation,” Armstrong said in the interview. “In fact, there’s a proposal that we’re putting out at the end of this month, or maybe early next month, that is our proposed regulatory framework.”

Regulators typically seek industry feedback when forming new rules, particularly in industries where the pace of technological advancements mean that progress in the market has far outpaced the development of new, and amendment of existing, regulation. Armstrong said that he has in fact been asked multiple times for such a proposal.

“When I go to DC, I’ve met with a number of people in government, and they typically will ask us ‘Well, do you have a draft, do you have a proposal of something we could try to shop around about how this could be regulated federally?’,” he said. “Because right now, Coinbase has, you know, 50 different state regulators for money transmission licenses, 50 for lending licenses, you know, FINCEN, and SEC, and CFTC, and IRS and Treasury and OFAC.”

Armstrong clearly would prefer if there were an overarching federal framework that would alleviate the burden of dealing with independent state-by-state rules and agencies. But he also did seem aware that any proposal they put forward will definitely be just a single piece of a larger puzzle, which will include input from other industry entities working in crypto as well as guidance from existing related regulations.

“We have a proposal that we actually want to put out there that could help maybe create at least one idea about how to move forward,” he said. “But this is going to require input from a lot of people and that willingness [on the part of lawmakers] to kind of engage with private industry and learn about what the opportunity is here.”

Coinbase recently clashed with the SEC after teasing the launch of a ‘Lend’ product that would allow its users to stake their crypto holdings in exchange for a return in the form of yearly interest. The SEC threatened to sue over the product since it signalled that this would represent security, and be regulated as such, and Coinbase quietly walked back its plans to debut the product for now shortly after making public the SEC’s threat and articulating its lack of comprehension about the potential regulatory backlash.

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PayPal launches its ‘super app’ combining payments, savings, bill pay, crypto, shopping and more

New PayPal app Dashboard 2

Image Credits: PayPal

PayPal has been talking about its “super app” plans for some time, having recently told investors its upcoming digital wallet and payments app had been given a go for launch. Today, the first version of that app is officially being introduced, offering a combination of financial tools including direct deposit, bill pay, a digital wallet, peer-to-peer payments, shopping tools, crypto capabilities and more. The company is also announcing its partnership with Synchrony Bank for its new high-yield savings account, PayPal Savings.

These changes shift PayPal from being largely a payments utility that’s tacked on other offerings here and there to being a more fully fleshed out finance app. Though PayPal itself doesn’t aim to be a “bank,” the new app offers a range of competitive features for those considering shifting their finances to neobanks, like Chime or Varo, as it will now also include support for paycheck Direct Deposits through PayPal’s bank partners with two-day early access, bill pay and more.

These features could make PayPal more competitive, as getting paid earlier has been one of the bigger draws among those considering digital banking apps instead of using traditional banks.

In addition to shifting their paychecks to Payal, customers’ PayPal funds can then be used for things that are a part of daily life, like paying their bills, saving or shopping, for example.

The enhanced bill pay feature lets customers track, view and pay bills from thousands of companies, including utilities, TV and internet, insurance, credit cards, phone and more, PayPal says. When bill pay first arrived earlier this year, it offered access to (single-digit) thousands of billers. Now, it will support around 17,000 billers. Customers can also discover billers through an improved, intelligent search feature, set reminders to be notified of upcoming bills and schedule automatic payments for bills they have to pay on a regular basis. The bills don’t have to only be paid from funds currently in the PayPal account, but can be paid through any eligible funding source that’s already linked to their PayPal account.

Via a Synchrony Bank partnership, PayPal Savings will offer a high-yield savings account with a 0.40% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), which is more than six times the national average of 0.06%, the company says. However, that’s lower than top rivals in the digital banking market offer, like Chime (0.50%), Varo (starts at 0.20%, but users can qualify to get 3.00% APY), Marcus (0.50%), Ally (0.50%), ONE (1.00% or 3.00% on Auto-Save transactions), and others. However, the rate may appeal to those who are switching from a traditional bank, where rates tend to be lower.

PayPal believes its high-yield offering will be able to compete not based on the APY alone, but on the strength of its combined offerings.

Image Credits: PayPal

“We know that about half of customers in the United States don’t even have a savings account, much less one with a very competitive rate,” notes PayPal SVP of Consumer, Julian King. “So all in all, we think that by bringing together the full set of solutions on the platform, it’s a really competitive offering for an individual.”

The app has also been reorganized to accommodate the new features and those yet to come.

It now features a personalized dashboard offering an overview of the customer’s account. The wallet tab lets users manage Direct Deposits and connect funding sources like bank accounts and debit and credit cards alongside the ability to enroll in PayPal’s own debit, credit and cash cards. And a finance tab provides access to the high-yield savings and the previously available crypto capabilities, which allows users to buy, hold and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

The payments tab, meanwhile, will hold much of PayPal’s traditional feature set, including peer-to-peer payments, international remittances, charitable and nonprofit giving, plus now bill pay and a two-way messaging feature that allows users to request payments or say thank you after receiving a payment — whether that’s between friends and family or between merchants and customers. This addition could bring PayPal more in line with PayPal-owned Venmo, which already offers the ability to add notes to payments and make comments.

Messaging also ties into PayPal’s new Shopping hub, which is where the company is finally putting to good use its 2019 $4 billion Honey acquisition. Honey’s core features are now becoming a part of the PayPal mobile experience, including personalized deals and exclusive rewards.

Image Credits: PayPal

PayPal users will be able to browse the discounts and offers inside the app, then shop and transact through the in-app browser. The deals can be saved to the wallet for future use, so they can be applied if shopping later in the app or online. Customers will also be able to join a loyalty program, where they can earn cashback and PayPal shopping credit on their purchases. The company says these personalized deals will improve over time.

“We’ll use AI and [machine learning] capabilities to understand what kind of shopping deals are most interesting to customers and continue to develop that over time. They’ll just get smarter and smarter as the product gets more usage,” notes King. This will include using the data about the deals a customer likes, then bringing similar deals to them in the future.

Also new in the updated mobile app is the addition of PayPal’s crowdsourced fundraising platform, the Generosity Network, first launched late last year. The network is PayPal’s answer to GoFundMe or Facebook Fundraisers, by offering tools that allow individuals to raise money for themselves, others in need, or organizations like small businesses or charities. The network is also now expanding to international markets with Germany and the U.K. to start, with more countries to come.

As PayPal has said, the new app is laying the groundwork for other new products in the quarters to come. The biggest initiative on its roadmap is a plan to enter the investment space, to rival other mobile investing apps, like Robinhood. When this arrives, it will support the ability to buy stocks, fractional stocks and ETFs, PayPal says.

It will also later add support for paying with QR codes in an offline environment, and tools for using PayPal to save while in stores.

The updated app is rolling out starting today in the U.S. as a staggered release that will complete in the weeks ahead. However, PayPal Savings won’t be available immediately — it will arrive in the U.S. in the “coming months,” as will some of the shopping and rewards tools.

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

How to meet the demand of EV infrastructure and maintain a stable grid

Andrew TangContributor – Andrew Tang is vice president of energy storage and optimization at Wärtsilä Energy, which provides solutions for renewable energy integration and EV charging infrastructure development.

As electric vehicles (EVs) become the new standard, charging infrastructure will become a commonplace detail blending into the landscape, available in a host of places from a range of providers: privately run charging stations, the office parking lot, home garages and government-provided locations to fill in the gaps. We need a new energy blueprint for the United States in order to maintain a stable grid to support this national move to EV charging.

The Biden administration announced 500,000 charging stations to be installed nationally and additional energy storage to facilitate the shift to EVs. Integrating all of this new infrastructure and transitioning requires balancing the traffic on the grid and managing increased energy demand that stretches beyond power lines and storage itself.

The majority of EV infrastructure pulls its power from the grid, which will add significant demand when it reaches scale. In an ideal situation, EV charging stations will have their own renewable power generation co-located with storage, but new programs and solutions are needed in order to make it available everywhere. A range of scenarios for how renewables can be used to power EV charging have been piloted in the U.S. in recent years. Eventually, EVs will likely even provide power to the grid.

These technological advances will happen as we progress through the energy transition; regardless, EV infrastructure will heavily rely on the U.S. grid. That makes coordination across a range of stakeholders and behavior change among the general public essential for keeping the grid stable while meeting energy demand.

The White House’s fact sheet for EV charging infrastructure points to a technical blueprint that the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute will be working on together. It is critical that utilities, energy management and storage stakeholders, and the general public be included in planning — here’s why.

Stakeholder collaboration

Charging infrastructure is currently fragmented in the U.S. Much of it is privatized and there are complaints that unless you drive a Tesla, it is hard to find charging while on the road. Some EV owners have even returned to driving gas-powered vehicles. There’s reason to be hopeful that this will rapidly change.

ChargePoint and EVgo are two companies that will likely become household names as their EV networks expand. A coalition made up of some of the largest U.S. utilities — including American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority — called the Electric Highway Coalition, announced plans for a regional network of charging stations spanning their utility territories.

Networks that swap out private gas stations for EV charging is one piece of the puzzle. We also need to ensure that everyone has affordable access and that charging times are staggered — this is one of the core concerns on every stakeholder’s mind. Having charging available in a range of places spreads out demand, helping keep power available and the grid balanced.

Varying consumer needs including location and housing, work schedules and economic situations require considerations and new solutions that make EVs and charging accessible to everyone. What works in the suburbs won’t suit rural or urban areas, and just imagine someone who works the night shift in a dense urban area.

Biden’s plan includes, “$4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will help increase the feasibility of [plug-in electric vehicle] ownership for consumers in underserved communities.” Partnerships and creative solutions will equally be needed.

An opportunity to fully engage technologies we already have

“Fifty percent of the reductions we have to make to get to net-zero by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have,” John Kerry said recently, causing a stir. He later clarified that we also have technologies now that we need to put to work, which received less air time. In reality, we are just getting started in utilizing existing renewable and energy transition technologies; we have yet to realize their full potential.

Currently, utility-scale and distributed energy storage are used for their most simplistic capabilities, that is, jumping in when energy demand reaches its peak and helping keep the grid stable through services referred to as balancing and frequency regulation. But as renewable energy penetration increases and loads such as EVs are electrified, peak demand will be exacerbated.

The role that storage plays for EV charging stations seems well understood. On-site storage is used daily to provide power for charging cars at any given time. Utility-scale storage has the same capabilities and can be used to store and then supply renewable power to the grid in large quantities every day to help balance the demand of EVs.

A stable power system for EVs combines utilities and utility-scale storage with a network of subsystems where energy storage is co-located with EV charging. All of the systems are coordinated and synchronized to gather and dispatch energy at different times of the day based on all the factors that affect grid stability and the availability of renewable power. That synchronization is handled by intelligent energy management software that relies on sophisticated algorithms to forecast and respond to changes within fractions of a second.

This model also makes it possible to manage the cost of electricity and EV demand on the grid. Those subsystems could be municipal-owned locations in lower-income areas. Such a subsystem would collect power in its storage asset and set the price locally on its own terms. These systems could incentivize residents to power up there at certain times of the day in order to make charging more affordable by providing an alternative to the real-time cost of electricity during peak demand when using a home outlet, for example.

Behavior change

The greatest challenge for utilities will be how to manage EV loads and motivate people to stagger charging their vehicles, rather than everyone waiting until they are home in the evening during off-peak renewable generation periods. If everyone plugged in at the same time, we’d end up cooking dinner in the dark.

While there’s been talk of incentivizing the public to charge at different times and spread out demand, motivators vary among demographics. With the ability to charge at home and skip a trip to the “gas station” — or “power station,” as it may be referred to in the future — many people will choose convenience over cost.

The way we currently operate, individual energy usage seems like an independent, isolated event to consumers and households. EVs will require everyone — from utilities and private charging stations to consumers — to be more aware of demand on the grid and act more as communities sharing energy.

Thus, a diverse charging network alone won’t solve the issue of overtaxing the grid. A combination of a new blueprint for managing energy on the grid plus behaviour change is needed.

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Laser-initiated fusion leads the way to safe, affordable clean energy

Image of a blue laser beam against a black background.

The quest to make fusion power a reality recently took a massive step forward. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced the results of an experiment with an unprecedented high fusion yield. A single laser shot initiated reactions that released 1.3 megajoules of fusion yield energy with signatures of propagating nuclear burn.

Reaching this milestone indicates just how close fusion actually is to achieving power production. The latest results demonstrate the rapid pace of progress — especially as lasers are evolving at breathtaking speed.

Indeed, the laser is one of the most impactful technological inventions since the end of World War II. Finding widespread use in an incredibly diverse range of applications — including machining, precision surgery and consumer electronics — lasers are an essential part of everyday life. Few know, however, that lasers are also heralding an exciting and entirely new chapter in physics: enabling controlled nuclear fusion with positive energy gain.

After six decades of innovation, lasers are now assisting us in the urgent process of developing clean, dense and efficient fuels, which, in turn, are needed to help solve the world’s energy crisis through large-scale decarbonized energy production. The peak power attainable in a laser pulse has increased every decade by a factor of 1,000.

Physicists recently conducted a fusion experiment that produced 1,500 terawatts of power. For a short period of time, this generated four to five times more energy than what the whole world consumes at a given moment. In other words, we are already able to produce vast amounts of power. Now we also need to produce vast amounts of energy so as to offset the energy expended to drive the igniting lasers.

Beyond lasers, there are also considerable advances on the target side. The recent use of nanostructure targets allows for more efficient absorption of laser energies and ignition of the fuel. This has only been possible for a few years, but here, too, technological innovation is on a steep incline with tremendous advancement from year to year.

In the face of such progress, you may wonder what is still holding us back from making commercial fusion a reality.

There remain two significant challenges: First, we need to bring the pieces together and create an integrated process that satisfies all the physical and technoeconomic requirements. Second, we require sustainable levels of investment from private and public sources to do so. Generally speaking, the field of fusion is woefully underfunded. This is shocking given the potential of fusion, especially in comparison to other energy technologies.

Investments in clean energy amounted to more than $500 billion in 2020. The funds that go into fusion research and development are only a fraction of that. There are countless brilliant scientists working in the sector already, as well as eager students wishing to enter the field. And, of course, we have excellent government research labs. Collectively, researchers and students believe in the power and potential of controlled nuclear fusion. We should ensure financial support for their work to make this vision a reality.

What we need now is an expansion of public and private investment that does justice to the opportunity at hand. Such investments may have a longer time horizon, but their eventual impact is without parallel. I believe that net-energy gain is within reach in the next decade; commercialization, based on early prototypes, will follow in very short order.

But such timelines are heavily dependent on funding and the availability of resources. Considerable investment is being allocated to alternative energy sources — wind, solar, etc. — but fusion must have a place in the global energy equation. This is especially true as we approach the critical breakthrough moment.

If laser-driven nuclear fusion is perfected and commercialized, it has the potential to become the energy source of choice, displacing the many existing, less ideal energy sources. This is because fusion, if done correctly, offers energy that is in equal parts clean, safe and affordable. I am convinced that fusion power plants will eventually replace most conventional power plants and related large-scale energy infrastructure that are still so dominant today. There will be no need for coal or gas.

The ongoing optimization of the fusion process, which results in higher yields and lower costs, promises energy production at much below the current price point. At the limit, this corresponds to a source of unlimited energy. If you have unlimited energy, then you also have unlimited possibilities. What can you do with it? I foresee reversing climate change by taking out the carbon dioxide we have put into the atmosphere over the last 150 years.

With a future empowered by fusion technology, you would also be able to use energy to desalinate water, creating unlimited water resources that would have an enormous impact in arid and desert regions. All in all, fusion enables better societies, keeping them sustainable and clean rather than dependent on destructive, dirty energy sources and related infrastructures.

We are betting on the side of optimism and science, and I hope that others will have the courage to do so. Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

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