🚗 EVs: Five Midwest regional energy companies and one from just outside the Midwest are working together to build a multi-state network of electric vehicle charging stations to promote greater use of low- and no-emissions electric vehicles. Ameren Illinois, Ameren Missouri, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, Evergy, and Oklahoma Gas and Electric signed the memorandum of cooperation, and more power companies reportedly are considering joining.
- The partners aim to have the charging infrastructure installed by 2022.
- Specific details of charging locations have not yet been provided, simply that the network would stretch from Michigan to Kansas. Those details are subject to regulatory approval in each state.
- Other regional private companies and states have invested in charging infrastructure, but this one is touted as the largest interstate network in the country.
- Centered’s take: All signs point to the electric vehicle industry being on the verge of a boom; the Edison Electric Institute estimates 1.5 million EVs currently are on U.S. roads and that will expand to 18.7 million in less than 10 years. A lack of places to charge EVs is a big barrier for consumer adoption. But this network will help to boost confidence that drivers won’t get stranded without juice because chargers are available across a huge swath of the Midwest. Participating in this cooperative will also help utilities keep technology development and installation costs in check by pooling resources.
⚖️ LEGAL WRANGLING: In other EV news, state legislators in Michigan proposed legislation to bar electric vehicle startups — including Michigan-based Rivian — from selling directly to customers instead of through a dealer, Bloomberg reports. Tesla won a legal battle over this with Michigan auto dealers in January due to a workaround from the state attorney general, but the new legislation would prevent future such exemptions.
🌞 SOLAR: New photovoltaics, or solar cells, that reflect 99% of the energy they can’t convert to electricity could help to reduce the price of an energy storage application sometimes referred to as “sun in a box,” according to the University of Michigan. Estimates indicate this type of grid-scale energy storage could be 10 times cheaper than batteries.
🌱 BIOFUEL: Eight biodiesel users across the country — including two from Michigan and one each from Illinois, Iowa, and North Dakota — received match funding from the National Biodiesel Board for wraps or decals that will be affixed to biodiesel-fueled trucks to raise awareness of biodiesel technologies.
Newly branded vehicles highlighting biodiesel’s sustainability and emissions reduction benefits are rolling along city streets and interstate highways from the nation’s capital, to Texas oil country, up the California coast and throughout the Midwest. https://t.co/zKbjA0qKkU pic.twitter.com/qujEiEOnqJ
— National Biodiesel Board (@Biodiesel_Media) September 21, 2020
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is partnering with nine Midwest community colleges to encourage conservation-minded farming. The partners committed to accelerating the adoption of technologies that promote both agricultural conservation and productivity.
- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony for food company Benson Hill’s new high-tech headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri, reports Missouri Public Radio. The facility will be in a 600-acre innovation district and a focal area will be sustainable innovation on topics such as agronomy, data analytics, and machine learning.
🚀 PRODUCT LAUNCH: Eaton, whose U.S. headquarters is in Ohio, launched a product that regulates airflow in hydrogen fuel cells, which provides voltage control. A few customers already are using it in hydrogen-powered buses.
🏆 COMPETITION: October 8 is the deadline for submissions to the American-Made Solar Prize, a competition led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program accelerates disruptive solar industry technologies and distributes a total of $3 million in prizes and $900,000 in vouchers for use at national laboratories and other testing facilities.
- Dubuque, Iowa-based software developer Cartegraph acquired water utility management software developer SEMS Technologies.
- Milwaukee-based Westin Technology Solutions, a water utility technology provider, acquired the eRIS software product from Eramosa Engineering. The software is considered a leader for data visualization and reporting.
🎉 EXPANSION: NatureWorks, a bioplastic developer headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is adding additional lactide monomer purification technology to its Blair, Nebraska, facility to expand the availability of its biopolymer.