Top Cleantech Stories to Start 2024!

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The holiday season is over and we’ve already logged more than a week in January. Looking back at the first 9 days of January and the last few days of December, here are some top stories that deserve extra love and attention.

In terms of solar power prices, it was uplifting to find out in December that solar module prices were down 20–30% in 2023 across the world, with US prices down a more modest 15% due to tariffs on Chinese solar modules.

Looking at solar & wind penetration in the US, it’s great but not surprising to see the two renewable energy sources combining for 71% of new power capacity in the country in October and 64% of new power capacity through the first 10 months of 2023. Wind and solar power now provide more electricity (generation, not capacity) than coal! And hundreds of gigawatts of new solar power capacity are expected in the next 3 years while 21 gigawatts of coal are expected to retire.

In terms of electric vehicle sales, first of all, it was amazing and uplifting to see that the top selling car, truck, or SUV of any kind across the world was the Tesla Model Y. True — we don’t have official, final stats on that yet, but it was clear in December that the Model Yw as taking home the prize. Overall, Tesla had another record quarter in the 4th quarter, and the Model Y also surpassed the Model 3 as the top selling EV in history. However, despite that stellar performance, BYD passed up Tesla in the 4th quarter to become the top seller of BEVs worldwide (in the quarter, but not the year). BYD also become the first automaker to sell more than 3 million plugin vehicles in a year.

Going past Tesla and BYD and looking at some of the best among the rest, XPeng sales grew 171% in the 4th quarter, while NIO grew 31% across the year as a whole. What’s quite eye-catching is how much XPeng and NIO sales have rhymed over the past four years. In the US, GM just inched out Ford in 2023 BEV sales.

Looking at EV market share in different markets, Norway continues to impress, with 73.5% of auto sales now BEV sales. China is at 27% BEV share, the best among big markets, while Europe is at 17% BEV share. The world as a whole is at 13% BEV share (with Tesla and BYD dominant).

In terms of new-ish EV tech, electric cars with sodium-ion batteries have joined the Chinese market, and BYD has begun construction on a 30 GWh sodium-ion battery factory. Also, on the higher end of the market, NIO rolled out the ET9, which could certainly be a Car of the Year contender when it eventually arrives — it looks amazing.

When it comes to EV hurdles, one clear one we’ve been discussing is challenges with Tesla and other EV rentals. There seem to be some clear ways to fix some of these problems (such as better introductions to the cars and EV charging for customers as well as more reasonable pricing), but there’s also no sign rental car companies are looking to implement them.

Changes with the US EV tax credit are a big topic, with policies pushing for the reshoring of blue collar jobs — particularly in the battery sector — temporarily taking the $7,500 tax credit away from several EVs. However, it also provides a point-of-sale rebate option for people who can’t benefit from a $7,500 tax credit. One oddity coming from these changes is the Model 3 Performance is now cheaper than the Model 3 Long Range in the USA! You can also get a Tesla Model Y for cheaper than a Tesla Model 3!

As a final fun and big story, Flemish transport company De Lijn has ordered 92 electric buses from BYD, it’s already got 114 electric buses, and may get up to 500 electric buses by 2030.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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