BNEF: How EVs are driving the next oil crisis (update)  

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Bloomberg NEF have revised their oil consumption forecasts as electric vehicles expand their market share - Graph of the Day: How EVs are driving the next oil crisis.

When Bloomberg published a story under a version of the above headline at around this time last year, it was based on data predicting that by 2040, 35 per cent of new cars worldwide “would have a plug.” Last week, a new graph based on new data by Bloomberg New Energy Finance has updated the details on how such a global shift electric vehilces might play out for the oil sector.

According to the graph, featured below, some 13 million barrels of oil per day will be displaced by electric vehicles by the year 2040 – an amount, BNEF says, that is equivalent to 14 per cent of the Energy Information Agency’s estimated global crude oil demand in 2016. ...

For the record, that’s slightly down on what BNEF forecast last year: that electric vehicles could displace oil demand of 2 million barrels a day as early as 2023. But we will leave you with Tom Randall’s closing comments on the February 2016 BNEF analysis: “One thing is certain: Whenever the oil crash comes, it will be only the beginning. Every year that follows will bring more electric cars to the road, and less demand for oil. Someone will be left holding the barrel.”

Putin Transfers 19% Of Rosneft to Trump ?  

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I've been wondering for a while how Putin's rumoured videos of Donald Trump's hobbies would be enough to convince him to run for President hard enough to actually win it.

The carrot to accompany the stick became clearer over the last 24 hours as stories linking the transfer of ownership of 19% of Russian oil company Rosneft to an unknown party - now widely believed to be Trump.

The stories seem to be partially born out by the dossier assembled by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele that ended up being put forward by US Intelligence agencies, predicting that 19% of Rosneft would be given to Trump if sanctions were lifted.

This also helps to explain Trump's desire to ally with Russia, his hostility to clean energy and action to reduce global warming, and the likes of oilman Rex Tillerson in his cabinet - rather than just having a yearning for returning the US to the 1950s he now has a large financial interest in maintaining oil as a primary source of energy.

Keeping Iraq unstable in the coming years will no doubt help the oil price, and his personal wealth, increase too.

Flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy  

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Inhabitat has a post on a a new Tunisian wind power company using biomimicry to develop new wind turbine designs - Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy.How well these things avoid metal fatigue will be interesting to watch.

A new flapping wind turbine from Tunisia marks a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of mechanics. Until recently, scientists have been limited in their ability to apply new understandings of animal and human motion to machines, according to Tyer Wind. In the wind energy sector, this limitation has resulted in fairly simple and relatively inefficient turbines. Using 3D Aouinian kinematics that he pioneered, Anis Aouini is disrupting that space with a unique wind turbine modeled on articulations of the only bird capable of sustained hovering–the hummingbird.

Elon Musk On Climate Change, Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump  

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Elon Musk is in something of a tough spot at the moment, serving on 2 of Trump's advisory committees while having a customer base that is predominantly liberal in outlook. As a result, he is starting to cop some heavy criticism from the likes of Alex Steffen

My view he is probably taking the correct course of action at this point - his businesses are helping to create the long term solutions we need and if he isn't openly criticising Trump they may continue to grow during this new era of protectionism (with all of them manufacturing in the US and employing US workers). With some luck he may even find himself in a position of influence over time (and in the meantime he isn't being completely silent about contentious issues).

Gizmodo has an interview with Musk on the state of play - A Brief Chat With Elon Musk About Climate Change, Rex Tillerson, and Donald Trump.

Yesterday Elon Musk stunned us (and just about everyone else) by tweeting in support of Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and likely Secretary of State under the Trump administration. Musk’s public image is that of a tycoon using his influence to innovate towards a techno-utopian future powered by clean energy and complete with human cities on Mars. What could he possibly have in common with a mogul who made his fortune sucking the Earth’s resources dry? We asked him. And today he answered.

Trump's Threat To Steal Iraq's Oil  

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The spectacle of Donald Trump abruptly transitioning the US political system into open fascism is quite horrifying even from the other side of the Pacific, however by and large ourlocal media aren't bothering to report the details.

Paul McGeough at the SMH gets to do a summary piece each day though (today's piece looking on the blatant blackmail involved in the new anti-muslim immigration laws, with countries that host Trump properties exempt and those without them hit hard - it's more a mafia style shakedown than a real immigration policy).

Long time business writer Michael Pascoe was also moved to voice his shock ("Australia is investing billions in madman Donald Trump") after Trump's bizarre interview with ABC News recently where he once again threatened to steal Iraq's oil.

As I've noted here many times before, Iraq has the world's largest and cheapest to extract oil reserves, and trying to gain control of them was a major reason for the Iraq war.

Bush and the neocons at least tried to maintain a fig leaf of legality around their attempt's to bully the Iraqi government into signing over control of the oil, so Trump's naked imperialism has managed to outrage the entire political spectrum outside of the fascist right.

The Washington Post - Trump’s illegal, impossible, and ‘beyond goofy’ idea of seizing Iraq’s oil.

The United States can’t just walk off with Iraq’s oil when it decides to get out. In 2015, Iraq produced about 4 million barrels a day, enough crude oil to fill more than 700 Trump Towers. Billions of barrels more sit underground in conventional reservoirs. The International Energy Agency has estimated that Iraq could produce twice as much as it does currently — by 2035. That means taking the oil would take decades. That might explain Trump’s suggestion that “a certain group” should be left behind to hold down parts of the country so that the United States could siphon off oil. What he didn’t say is that that group – undoubtedly U.S. soldiers — could be there quite a while. ...

“To ‘take the oil’ would require the United States to occupy Iraq. We tried that after 2003 with something approaching 200,000 troops and it did not work,” said Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and professor of history and international relations at Boston University. “What would effective occupation actually require? A minimum of a half-million troops, perhaps more.” Bacevich added, “Presumably, Trump would have them stay until the oil runs out, which would entail an occupation running into decades. The total cost? Probably more than the value of the oil itself. The whole idea is beyond goofy.”

Juan Cole - Trump to CIA: We now have 2nd Chance to take Iraq’s Oil.

The United Nations Charter and other treaty instruments that are part of US law actually abolished the principle of ‘to the victors go the spoils.’ Conquering states in a war are not allowed to annex territory from the vanquished as of 1945. That’s what is wrong with the Israeli creeping annexation of Palestine since 1967.

Given that the US has 6000 troops in Iraq, as Thomas Doherty pointed out, this kind of talk puts them in danger from Iraqi nationalists who may begin seeing them not as allies against ISIL but as stalking horses for a sinister imperialism. Trump just painted a big red target on the backs of our troops. ...

This isn’t speculation: the great Borzou Daragahi reports that the Iraqis are indeed ‘pissed’ and ready to fight for their oil.

Trump is also wrong that Iraqi petroleum fueled Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), or that the US could have “taken” Iraqi petroleum. This is because he does not know Iraqi geography or political geography. Most oil in Iraq is either down in Shiite territory at Basra (the vast majority of what is pumped) or up in Kurdish-held territory at Kirkuk. Daesh in Iraq had relatively little access to petroleum revenues, and the experts on it believe that contributions from Gulf supporters and taxes and plunder from local people (including on agriculture) were much more important. The situation is perhaps a little different in Syria, but we’re talking about Iraq.

The Independent - Iraq says Donald Trump's threat to seize the country's oil makes no sense.

US enemies and friends would oppose the move. While Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has accepted US help to retake Isis-held territory in his country, he has repeatedly asserted Iraqi sovereignty. He said of Trump's oil vow in November, “I am going to judge him by what he does later.” Reuters reported Mr al-Abadi as saying: “It wasn't clear what he meant. Did he mean in 2003 or to prevent the terrorists from seizing Iraq's oil? Iraq's oil is constitutionally the property of the Iraqis.”

The Atlantic - Why Iraq Needs the Oil.

It is into this delicate situation that Trump has pitched himself, without apparent regard to the consequences. That his threat to strip Iraq of its oil survived his transition into the White House demands careful consideration of what the proposal could actually entail. The U.S. military would not, as Trump has suggested, occupy Iraq to oversee the illegal extraction of crude from its oil fields, which are dispersed across the country. ...

Or he could just push the Iraqi government to award favorable contracts to American companies like ExxonMobil, whose former CEO Rex Tillerson has just been confirmed as secretary of state. Tillerson’s previous escapades, of course, present a cautionary tale. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil purchased oil rights to land blocks controlled by the KRG in 2011—a deal that directly challenged the authority of the Iraqi government and was partially responsible for an armed stand-off between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga.

Tillerson’s record of aggressively asserting corporate interests into decidedly thorny diplomatic climates also reflects the lack of common purpose among Trump’s team. James Mattis, Trump’s secretary of defense, has a record of seeking to confront Iran’s growing influence in Baghdad. Destabilizing Iraq’s oil sector would weaken Baghdad’s hold on the country, thereby strengthening Iran’s position.

The Boston Globe - As Trump muses about seizing Iraq oil, energy experts say it makes no sense.

“This is foolish,” Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, said. “This is a typical Trump remark. It’s moronic. It makes no sense. We couldn’t just suddenly grab Iraq’s oil and walk away with it.” In order to extract the oil, American forces would need to occupy the country, a costly, dangerous, and politically risky process, Pollack said. He added Iraqi resistance to these efforts would be quite strong given oil is a crucial source of income for the country.

In response to Trump’s comments, Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, a former Marine, tweeted on Saturday, “No. That’s pillaging, and it’s a war crime.”

The Guardian - Trump's plan to seize Iraq's oil: 'It's not stealing, we're reimbursing ourselves'.

The idea predates Trump’s presidential campaign. As far back as 2011, he was telling the Wall Street Journal that this was his policy for Iraq. “You heard me, I would take the oil,” he said. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.” And he insisted to ABC News that this did not amount to national theft. “You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said. “We’re reimbursing ourselves … at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5tn to reimburse ourselves.”

As a security strategy, this presents huge problems from almost every angle, according to military, strategic, legal and oil experts. First of all, there are issues of principle and legality. Trump’s frequent invocation of the “spoils of war” seems to hark back to a bygone age of conquistadors and plunder-based imperialism, illegal now under the laws of war.

“In international law, you can’t take civilian goods or seize them. That would amount to a war crime,” Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke chair in strategy at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Oil exports were almost the only Iraqi source of money. So you would have to pay for government salaries, maintain the army, and you have triggered a level of national animosity far worse than we did. It would be the worst kind of neo-colonialism. Not even Britain did that.”

Jay Hakes, the author of A Declaration of Energy Independence, about the relationship between US national security and Middle Eastern oil, was similarly unsparing. “It is hard to overstate the stupidity of this idea,” he wrote on Real Clear Energy. “Even our allies in the Middle East regard oil in their lands as a gift from God and the only major source of income to develop their countries. Seizing Iraq’s oil would make our current allies against Isis our new enemies. We would likely, at the least, have to return to the massive military expenditures and deployment of American troops at the war’s peak.”

Elon Musk's Hyperloop contest is happening this weekend  

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SpaceX's Hyperloop pod competition is on this weekend. BusinessInsider has a good summary of what is going on and who is competing - Elon Musk's Hyperloop contest is happening this weekend — here's a look at all the competing pods. Musk's recent tweet about this made me wonder if his boring hobby might be hyperloop related...

In June 2015, SpaceX announced an open competition for university students and engineering teams to design and actually build a Hyperloop pod that will travel through a vacuum tube. In 2013, Musk released a 57-page white paper detailing his plan for the Hyperloop, a futuristic transit system that could propel people in pods at speeds topping 700 mph. Musk isn't planning to pursue the Hyperloop commercially, but he is encouraging others to take up the challenge through the SpaceX competition.

The competition itself has actually been running for quite some time. After SpaceX announced the competition in June 2015, more than 1,200 teams applied for entry. However, SpaceX engineers, who are serving as judges for the contest, narrowed down the number of participating teams to 30 by February 2016.

An Inconvenient Sequel  

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Inhabitat reports that Al Gore has a follow up to "An Inconvenient Truth" coming out in July - Al Gore fights climate change with “An Inconvenient Sequel”.

When Al Gore’s landmark climate change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the administration in Washington was averse to climate change action. Eleven years later Gore has debuted his follow up film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” at Sundance — just as Donald Trump takes office as the nation’s 45th president. Despite the dire prospects for the climate under Trump after eight years of modest gains under former President Barack Obama, Gore was upbeat in comments to the crowd after two standing ovations followed the Sundance screening.

Is Elon Musk Boring ?  

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Elon Musk tweeted about his desire to avoid traffic jams by getting into the tunnel building business a couple months ago, prompting some consternation amongst Musk watchers. While most observers seemed to think he was joking, he seems to be serious - Elon Musk says he will ‘seriously’ start digging a tunnel ‘in a month or so’ to address traffic problems in LA.

After Tesla, SpaceX, and now SolarCity being under his leadership at Tesla, it’s one more venture for the entrepreneur to spend his limited time on.

Or maybe it will save him some time?

It sounds like he plans for the first project of “the Boring Company” to affect him directly. He said that the first tunnel would link SpaceX and the 105 Freeway:

It could certainly reduce traffic in the area and save him time when he works from SpaceX’s headquarters or Tesla’s Design Studio, which are located on the same block in Hawthorne.

Trump's War On Facts  

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I figured The Borowitz Report may have been a little premature claiming that George W Bush was very relieved he would no longer be the worst US president in history once Donald Trump was inaugurated, however after 5 days in the job I think Trump is getting close to taking the honour (unlike Bush he hasn't invaded any other countries yet so it's still line ball, though apparently he is threatening to invade Chicago).

Listing all of Trump's violations of decency and common sense would be tedious but one unpleasant aspect of this American experiment with authoritarianism which stands out already is his continual war on the truth, starting with the bizarre attempts to deny that the attendance at his inauguration ceremony was far lower than that of previous presidents (not to mention the massive anti-Trump protests the following day) and the creation of the phrase "alternative facts" to describe Trump administration lies.

While it is common for dictators to lie about topics which reflect poorly upon them (they also like to declare weird national holidays like Trump's "National Day of Patriotic Devotion, which I initially thought was satire - apparently Trump is following Kim Jong Il's playbook as much as he is Vladimir Putin's) the speed at which the Trump administration is moving to push scientific facts down the memory hole (one of the many apropros concepts from George Orwell's 1984 which will come in handy during the Trump era) is staggering.

After starting with a purge of the White House web site (eliminating all mention of climate change and clean energy, along with other annoyances like civil rights and the Spanish language version of the site), the administration has quickly moved on to removing references to climate change from the EPA web site and telling government employees they cannot release information to the media or the public without having it vetted for political correctness first. The functions of the EPA seem to have been pretty much suspended as well, no doubt as the first step towards dismantling federal environmental protection programs completely (as they are an obstacle to keeping US consumers hooked on fossil fuels for as long as they last).

On the plus side, the fear of Trumpist censorship led to a carnival of climate data archiving over the past month, and the administration's heavy handed censorship of official Twitter accounts has sparked a boom in rogue government Tweeters that are now far more popular than the official accounts (with special mention going to the folks at the Badlands National Park).

The science community is now organising it's own protest marches against Trump, with a march on Washington planned in the coming weeks.

Whether or not Trump is still in office at that point can't be certain, with his recent performance in a TV interview prompting a lot of pundits to wonder if he'll be bounced out of office by his own cabinet under the 25th amendment section covering situations where the president is no longer fit for office. That's if the CIA (allegedly unimpressed with his cheer squad disrespecting their hallowed ground) don't assassinate him first of course...

(Energy) Lab Accelerator Program  

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Australian readers interested in starting up a clean tech business may be interested in this acceleration program from (Energy) Lab.

Are you setting up a business related to clean energy technologies such as renewable energy, batteries, electric vehicles and connected appliances? Then come along to the EnergyLab Acceleration Program Info Night and learn how we can help your business take off.

About EnergyLab

EnergyLab is Australia’s leading hub, connector and accelerator of new clean energy business and technological initiatives. Our integrated approach draws on the community of cleantech entrepreneurs and offers arrange of ways to engage and leverage their ideas, technologies and resources.

Turning point: solar power now cheaper than wind energy  

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RNE has a look at the ever-decreasing cost of renewable energy - Turning point: solar power now cheaper than wind energy.

The BNEF’s accompanying chart, which shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 recently completed projects and/or auctions in places such as China, India, and Brazil suggests that the solar’s steep price drop since 2010 has caught up with wind – which has more or less held steady in the recent past.

“Solar investment has gone from nothing—literally nothing—like five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of BNEF’s US policy analysis, who attributes “a huge part” of this to China, which has not only been rapidly expanding its own solar capacity but actively promoting and/or financing other countries to do the same. As the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in the world, there is a lot at stake in how fast solar capacity is installed beyond China’s own borders.

Heralding the new age of solar, BNEF’s colorful chairman Michael Liebreich declared, “Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil fuel prices. He said he was basing his statement on numerous solar projects completed in 2016 with more to follow in 2017. When the data are tallied for the year, it’s likely that the total solar PV capacity added globally in 2016 will exceed that of wind for the first time. The latest BNEF projections call for 70 GW of newly installed solar compared to 59 GW of wind for 2016. What is stunning about these figures is that both are significant, but solar appears to have overtaken wind. ...

The BNEF’s Liebreich acknowledges that, “… the overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants,” adding, “But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies.”

2016 Hottest Year Ever For Third Straight Year  

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The NYT reports that 2016 is officially the hottest year ever - Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.

In reality, the Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

Law forbidding utilities from using renewables proposed in Wyoming  

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The Christian Science Monitor has an article on a bizarre proposal to try to stay stuck in the 20th centruy by Republican legislators who are looking to ban renewable energy - New Wyoming bill forbids utilities from using renewables. Maybe they'll ban the internet next...

Some states have worked hard to stimulate renewable energy, supporting infrastructure projects and offering incentives to consumers who install home solar arrays. But others have tried to restrict renewable energy, often at the behest of lobbyists for electric utilities and fossil-fuel providers that fear its growth.

One of the states in the latter category is Wyoming, where Republican legislators recently introduced a bill that would essentially ban large-scale renewable energy in the state. The new Wyoming bill would forbid utilities from using solar or wind sources for their electricity by 2019, according to Inside Climate News.

South Korea plans 1,000km/h, near-supersonic, ‘hyper-tube train’  

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The South China Morning Post has an article on a hyperloop style transport system being proposed in South Korea - South Korea plans 1,000km/h, near-supersonic, ‘hyper-tube train’ that would leave maglev in the dust.

South Korea is seeking to develop a train-like public transport concept that is almost as fast as the speed of sound reaching 1,000km/h, the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) said Tuesday. The state-run institute will join forces with other research groups and Hanyang University to build the near-supersonic “train”, which would be able to travel from Seoul to Busan in half an hour. “We hope to create an ultra-fast train, which will travel inside a state-of-the-art low-pressure tube at lightning speeds, in the not-too-distant future,” said a KRRI official.

The Secret of Buckminister Fuller’s World-Changing Idea: Serendipity  

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Nautilus has a interview with the author of a new-ish book on Bucky Fuller - The Secret of Buckminister Fuller’s World-Changing Ideas Was Serendipity.

The review notes the underlying motivation for one of Fuller's projects, the flying car ("The reason he wanted to make a flying car was because his first daughter died of meningitis."), which Airbus are now apparently looking to make a reality by 2018.

In his 2016 book, You Belong to the Universe, Jonathon Keats sets out to release Buckminister Fuller from “the zany sci-fi designs that made him notorious, and rescue him from the groupies who have impounded him as a cultish prophet.”

Keats, a writer and artist who whips up his own world-changing ideas through trickster gallery and museum exhibitions, comes to Fuller’s rescue by venturing beneath the veneer of his infamous inventions—the geodesic dome, flying car, world peace games, and dome over Manhattan—to expose their broader significance.

That significance can be summed up in the unwieldy title that Fuller gave himself: “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” The most succinct definition of the title is Fuller’s determination, he said, “to make the world work for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.” ...

One of the qualities Keats most admires in Fuller, who was born in Massachusetts in 1895, is the inventor’s conviction that people learn through serendipity. His bewitching inventions, books, and lectures were designed to spur serendipitous thinking in others. Fuller knew, Keats writes, that “new ideas might emerge from the chance meeting of disparate information in a curious mind.”

Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018  

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Nafeez Ahmed has an article at Medium looking at the HSBC global oil supply report, declaring "80% of the world’s oil has peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy" - Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018. He seems to be the one remaining actively writing peak oil doomer still out there - positioning himself for the next peak oil cycle...

But what if the HSBC supply forecast is correct?

Firstly, oil price spikes would have an immediate recessionary effect on the global economy, by amplifying inflation and leading to higher costs for social activity at all levels, driven by the higher underlying energy costs.

Secondly, even as spikes may temporarily return some oil companies to potential profitability, such higher oil prices will drive consumer incentives to transition to cheaper renewable energy technologies like solar and wind, which are already becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

That means a global oil squeeze could end up having a dramatic impact on continued demand for oil, as twin crises of ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak demand’ end up intensifying and interacting in unfamiliar ways.

Ahmed has another article at Medium covering similar ground - Why the United States is at war with itself.

And perhaps the biggest symptom of the dire state of this crisis is the inability to agree on what the crisis is, or whether it even exists. Consider the fact that the President-elect of the United States plans to appoint Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State. ExxonMobil is the giant oil conglomerate which, despite its own scientific research confirming the reality of climate change in the 1970s, went on to fund climate denialism to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Trump wants to burn as much fossil fuels as he can to ‘make America great again.’

And this, at a time when scientists warn that even if the Paris Agreement is implemented in full, we may still be on track for a catastrophic rise of at least 4C by 2100, continually rising to 10C by 2300: an uninhabitable planet for hundreds of years.

This risk is well-known, but as might be expected in the Age of Confusion, its relationship to net energy decline — and how the latter will permanently transform the geopolitical order within our lifetimes — is not.

While fracking companies rejoice at the heyday of accelerating shale oil and gas production, they ignore the fact that these meteoric production levels have come at an increasing cost: the dirtier, polluting environmental impacts of unconventional fuels; the higher cost of the new technologies to extract and refine these fuels — costs which are permanently transforming the economics of energy.

Over the last few decades, the Energy Return on Investment — the amount of energy we can extract compared to the energy necessary to enable that extraction — has dramatically declined. In fact, between 1960 and 1980, while oil, gas and coal production was rising, the world average value EROI declined by more than half from 35 to 15.

It continues to decline. In the US, for instance, the EROI value of shale oil and gas is about 11. In other words, the total value of energy we are able to produce from the global fossil fuel resource base is decreasing. The more we produce, the faster we produce, the more we accelerate the problem.

Bird flocking inspires technology that cuts plug-in hybrid fuel use by 30 percent  

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TreeHugger has an article on a biomimicry based approach for reducing car fuel consumption by introducing flocking behaviour - Bird flocking inspires technology that cuts plug-in hybrid fuel use by 30 percent.

Plug-in hybrid cars are far more fuel efficient than internal combustion engine cars, but it turns out that the way the cars' energy management systems balance the energy load between the battery and gas engine isn't always the most efficient.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside looked to nature evolutionary systems for inspiration, particularly how birds flock and fly in formation in order to improve their energy efficiency, and came up with a new technology that improves that balance and reduces fuel consumption of plug-in hybrids by 30 percent.

The university says that while not all plug-in hybrids work the same, many of them have energy management systems (EMS) that first put the car in all-electric mode until the battery is drained and then switch into hybrid mode. Research has found that this split is not the most efficient way to balance the two power sources in the plug-in hybrid, but that blending the two power modes and using the battery throughout a car trip minimizes fuel consumption.

Australian zinc refinery to build 100MW solar plant  

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RNE has a report on a Queensland zinc refiner that is building its own solar power plant - .

Australian zinc metals producer Sun Metals is to build a 100MW solar PV plant to supply its refinery located near Townsville, in northern Queensland, in a landmark development in the Australian renewable energy landscape.

The project marks the biggest intervention yet in Australia by a major energy user to source some of its electricity needs from renewable energy. While major international corporate players – such as Google, Apple, Amazon and others – have long had a 100 per cent renewable energy target, little has been done in Australia.

China To Pump $360 Billion Into New Renewable Energy Projects by 2020  

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The Globe and Mail quotes a Reuters report on Chinese renewable energy investment plans - U.S. and Canada falling behind China in race for renewable energy.

Last year, Chinese firms invested a record $32-billion (U.S.) in overseas renewable energy and electricity transmission assets, including a $13-billion acquisition by China’s State Grid Corp. of Brazil’s CPFL Energia SA, an electricity generation and distribution company, and Tianqi Lithium’s $2.5-billion purchase of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), a major lithium producer.

In the domestic market, Chinese companies invested $103-billion in renewable energy and associated low-emission technologies – a 17-per-cent increase over 2015 and two and a half times the amount spent in the United States which was the second leading investor in the renewable sector, said the IEEFA report, which is being released Friday.

It notes the International Energy Agency forecast last year that, between 2015 and 2021, China will account for 36 per cent of all hydroelectric capacity growth, 40 per cent of wind and 36 per cent of solar capacity growth. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts the world will invest $7.8-trillion in renewable power over the next 25 years, compared to $2.1-trillion in fossil-fuel electricity.

IEA Global EV Outlook 2016  

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The IEA has freed their 2016 report on the EV market - Global EV Outlook 2016.

This report aims to provide an update on recent EV developments, providing detailed information on the recent evolution of EV registrations (vehicle sales), the number of EVs on the road, their modal coverage across the most relevant global vehicle markets. The analysis also looks at the availability and characteristics of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), reporting on the evolution of deployment rates. The report includes a review and a discussion of key elements on policy support, both for EVs and EVSE. The analysis is also providing insights on the encouraging signs that characterized the recent evolution of battery costs and energy density.

East Timor tears up oil and gas treaty with Australia after Hague dispute  

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Rather surprisingly, the most read post from this blog this week is an old one from 2013 - East Timor Complains About Australian Spying On Oil And Gas Negotiations / Australia Detains Whistleblower.

Presumably interest has been piqued by East Timor's recent decision to abandon an earlier agreement on oil and gas revenue sharing from Timor Sea fields - East Timor tears up oil and gas treaty with Australia after Hague dispute. The SMH has an article outlining the case for a better deal for the Timorese - Australia's unscrupulous pursuit of East Timor's oil needs to stop.

East Timor will tear up an oil and gas treaty with Australia that has been at the centre of espionage allegations, international arbitration and a bitter diplomatic dispute. The 2006 treaty relates to a temporary maritime border in the Timor Sea, and access to oil and gas deposits worth an estimated $40 billion. The agreement had outlined a 50-year freeze on negotiations for a permanent border.

But East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, had claimed the treaty was invalid given Australian intelligence operations in 2004. Diplomatic relations have been tense since East Timorese officials accused Australia of spying on cabinet ministers amid negotiations on the treaty to divide the oil and gas fields.

HSBC Global Oil Supply Report (September 2016)  

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HSBC produced an interesting report on oil production decline rates and their implications for the long-term oil supply outlook - Global oil supply: Will mature field declines drive the next supply crunch?.

1. The oil market may be oversupplied at present, but we see it returning to balance in 2017e

2. By that stage, effective spare capacity could shrink to just 1% of global supply/demand of 96mbd, leaving the market far more susceptible to disruptions than has been the case in recent years

3. Oil demand is still growing by ~1mbd every year, and no central scenarios that we recently assessed see oil demand peaking before 2040

4. 81% of world liquids production is already in decline (excluding future redevelopments)

5. In our view a sensible range for average decline rate on post-peak production is 5-7%, equivalent to around 3-4.5mbd of lost production every year

6. By 2040, this means the world could need to replace over 4 times the current crude oil output of Saudi Arabia (>40mbd), just to keep output flat

7. Small oilfields typically decline twice as fast as large fields, and the global supply mix relies increasingly on small fields: the typical new oilfield size has fallen from 500-1,000mb 40 years ago to only 75mb this decade

8. New discoveries are limited: last year the exploration success rate hit a record low of 5%, and the average discovery size was 24mbbls

9. US tight oil has been a growth area and we expect to see a strong recovery, but at 4.6mbd currently it represents only 5% of global supply

10. Step-change improvements in production and drilling efficiency in response to the downturn have masked underlying decline rates at many companies, but the degree to which they can continue to do so is becoming much more limited

EIA forecast errors for natural gas prices and production  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Forbes has a graphic showing the size of the errors in EIA gas production forecasts and actual values. It would be useful to have this sort of data (and some better visualisations) for all energy production forecasts (if nothing else it would bring clarity to which organisations produce useful forecasts and which don't) - Got A Favorite 2017 Energy Forecast? Technology Will Make It Obsolete.

We can take this logic to data, and, fortunately, the EIA has made this exercise easy to do. Since 1996, they have published retrospective analyses of their predictions. In this useful and under-appreciated effort, the EIA compiles 20 years of forecasts into a single report and compares those forecasts to what actually happened. The last of these analyses was published in May 2015, comparing forecasts as far back as 1994 to realized outcomes through 2013. For U.S. natural gas markets, I have extended this data (both forecasted and realized) through 2015 and characterized the forecasting error of each report year, prediction year combination as driven by unexpected shocks to supply or demand. I have plotted this data in the figure below, separating forecasts made before the start of the recent shale boom in 2005 and after.

What reduces women's rights more - Oil or Islam ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

Interesting theory - Oil, Islam, and Women.

This paper suggests that Middle East women are underrepresented in the workforce and in government because of oil—–not Islam. Oil and mineral production can also explain the unusually low status of women in many countries outside the Middle East, including Azerbaijan, Botswana, Chile, Nigeria, and Russia.

Oil production affects gender relations by reducing the presence of women in the labor force. The failure of women to join the nonagricultural labor force has profound social consequences: it leads to higher fertility rates, less education for girls, and less female influence within the family. It also has far-reaching political consequences: when fewer women work outside the home, they are less likely to exchange information and overcome collective action problems; less likely to mobilize politically, and to lobby for expanded rights; and less likely to gain representation in government. This leaves oil-producing states with atypically strong patriarchal cultures and political institutions

20 Electric Cars  

Posted by Big Gav in

CleanTechnica has a summary of 20 electric cars on sale in the northern hemisphere - The 20 Electric Cars For Sale In The USA, Canada, & Europe.

We now have way, way more electric car models on the market than we had a few years ago. … Yet, so many more EV models will flood the market in the coming few years — and wash gasoline cars down the drain in the process. My typing fingers are tingling with excitement … or maybe that’s just the late-night coffee.

Below are the 20 fully electric cars currently for sale in the US and Europe. It’s fun to reflect on the progress of the past few years, dwell over the current offerings, and ponder the future, so I encourage you to join in and do that with me.

Comedy Gold  

Posted by Big Gav in

There's a part of me that think that the new revelations that Putin has videotape of Trump indulging in golden showers with Russian prostitutes are probably made up - but as I can't prove they aren't true and I can't see why the CIA / NSA et al would make it up I'm going to assume they are on the level.

Truer than stories about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were anyway.

If nothing else they are providing a comedy fest on Twitter and after all the ridiculous nonsense Trump supporters made up about Hillary (there are enough true bad things about Hillary they could use if they wanted to have an honest debate rather than making up stories about satanic abuse at pizza parlours) that I can't say I feel any pity for him whatsoever.

Hopefully the impeachment process begins soon.

Tesla Gigafactory Commences Production  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Bloomberg reports that Elon Musk has met his first deadline for Gigafactory production of lithium ion batteries - Tesla Flips the Switch on the Gigafactory.

The Gigafactory has been activated. Hidden in the scrubland east of Reno, Nev., where cowboys gamble and wild horses still roam—a diamond-shaped factory of outlandish proportions is emerging from the sweat and promises of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It’s known as the Gigafactory, and today its first battery cells are rolling off production lines to power the company’s energy storage products and, before long, the Model 3 electric car.

The start of mass production is a huge milestone in Tesla’s quest to electrify transportation, and it brings to America a manufacturing industry—battery cells—that’s long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea. More than 2,900 people are already working at the 4.9 million square-foot facility, and another 4,000 jobs (including temporary construction work) will be added this year through the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic.

By 2018, the Gigafactory, which is less than a third complete, will double the world’s production capacity for lithium-ion batteries and employ 6,500 full-time Reno-based workers, according to a new hiring forecast from Tesla.

Platts Five commodity themes to watch closely in 2017  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Platts has a look at trends to watch in 2017, including oil prices and production levels, the emergence of a global gas market and the rise of electric vehicles and peak oil demand - Five commodity themes to watch closely in 2017.

Against the dramatic political and economic surprises of 2016, S&P Global Platts President Martin Fraenkel lays out his five themes to focus on in commodity markets in 2017. It’s not just oil markets that could provide big shifts in the new year; LNG and electric car markets also deserve attention as commodities markets continue to change.

Ford Upshifts To Electric Vehicles  

Posted by Big Gav in

Electrek has an updates on Ford's moves to being manufacturing electric vehicles - Ford says electric vehicles will overtake gas in 15 years, announces all-electric 300-mile SUV, hybrid F-150, Mustang, and more.

Ford is making a big announcement in electrification today. CEO Mark Field confirmed several new models will receive electric drivetrain options, including its flagship F-150 pickup truck that will double as an on-site generator. In 2015, Ford announced a $4.5 billion investment in electric vehicles in order to introduce 13 new models. Today, it confirmed 7 of those 13 new models and the list will surprise a few: a new all-electric SUV with “at least” 300 miles of range, a hybrid F-150 and a hybrid Mustang, a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid and 2 new electric police vehicles.

If you were counting, that’s 6 vehicles. The 7th vehicle will be the “high volume” autonomous car that Ford plans to produce by 2021. Ford confirmed today the vehicle will be equipped with a hybrid drivetrain. ...

It looked like was Ford was falling behind in electrification over the past few years with not many vehicles on the roadmap, but today’s announcement give us a better idea of the company’s commitment to EVs. It’s a lot of hybrids, some plug-in hybrids, and one all-electric vehicle so far.

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