Its been a while that we know Volkswagen has a close relationship with QuantumScape. The company aims to produce solid-state batteries and seems to be pretty close to doing that, according to what its CEO, Jagdeep Singh, tells us in the video above. What we did not know was that Bill Gates was also an investor in it, both personally and through his Breakthrough Energy Ventures – BEV, probably not by chance.
We learned about that after reading Gates’ newest text at GatesNotes, “How Do We Move Around In a Zero-Carbon World.” Although the title is a bit weird (a zero-carbon world would have no life forms), you get the picture: Microsoft’s founder wants to discuss how transportation can be carbon-neutral.
One of his main bets is in QuantumScape. We have already spoken a lot about solid-state batteries at InsideEvs, but it seems Singh’s company is a step ahead. At least if we take his word for it.
According to QuantumScape’s CEO, the company is just trying to find a way to produce its solution on a mass scale. He sums this up with this sentence:
“We’ve been able to make these cells work and really our main challenge now is to scale up production.”
Bold, right? According to Singh, his solution tackles the main hurdles in current battery technology: range, charge time, cost, and safety. QuantumScape batteries could double the current range of electric cars and eliminate the risk of thermal runways. The first manufacturer to get them will probably be Volkswagen.
Singh says the company already tested QuantumScape cells and was very satisfied with the results. We could see cars with these new solid-state batteries as soon as 2025.
According to Bill Gates, that would solve the problem for personal mobility, but not all emissions concerns. He says that, although transportation is the main responsible for carbon emissions, it only accounts for 16 percent of all emissions in the world. Again, this shows that people that demonize cars miss the point entirely.
Wood Mackenzie pointed out that having mostly electric cars would only flatten the transportation emission curve. To make it get down, it also demands trucks, boats, airplanes, trains, and any transportation means you can think about getting clean.
Curiously, Bill Gates does not seem to see a future in FCEV, such as the Nikola trucks. At least he does not mention them in his text. What Gates suggests are alternative fuels. What we can infer is that he sees no sense in having a massive battery to carry stuff around, since they add more weight to the vehicles.
Alternative fuels would keep carbon emissions stable (since they do not come from fossil fuels, with have taken carbon from the atmosphere millions of years ago). Producing them – as well as the electric energy for the batteries – would demand clean energy power plants. As we have already told you, Gates believes in fourth-generation nuclear power.
People invent all sorts of conspiracy theories about the man. Thankfully, he does not care about them and keeps devoting his foundation to problems that threaten mankind as a whole. Proof of that is he was sensible enough to realize and share that we will only solve carbon emissions if we do it together – as a human race effort.
A simple example is getting EVs to prevail in the US, Europe, and China. What about Africa? Carmakers will focus on those countries and in Latin America to keep selling combustion-engined vehicles. Used cars that nobody wants anymore in developed countries will probably end up there, as a report from Ariadne Baskin for UN Environment.
Any effective effort to cut carbon emissions necessarily has to include us all. The COVID-19 pandemic is the most dramatic and raw example that borders do not hold global problems outside them.
Overlooking this will imply no progress in cutting carbon emissions is sustainable. Plain and simple, it will become just an illusion people may hold on to in order to feel better about themselves. We have a good opportunity not to make this mistake. Not again, at least.