Cal on October 24th, 2014

From The Telegraph we learn driverless buses may be on the horizon in the UK. The Transport Minister has revealed his government is in discussions with a company to introduce the first automated bus service. One of the advantages of an electric bus is that it saves on the cost of the driver. Earlier this year the UK  announced driverless car trials will take place in up to three cities in 2015. The vehicles will use GPS technology to determine their exact location and navigate their way across the road map, although the law will still initially require a driver to be seated at the wheel.

The Auto Future gives us factors to consider if you want to buy an electric car. And Planetsave introduces us to a new tool from the Sierra Club that will tell you what EV is right for your driving requirements.

EVObsession gives us a list of 2014 electric vehicles on the market along with their prices, range, efficiency and where they are being sold globally.

Clean Technica says the Tesla Model S is the best car based on price per mile of range. A comparison of EV costs per mile of range revealed that the Model S with its 85 kWh battery pack, 265 mile range and $79,900 suggested price came in first at a cost of just $302 per mile. This was followed by the Chevy Spark ($325) and Nissan Leaf ($350). The worst car was the BMW i3, which costs $41,350 but has a rated range of just 81 miles per charge, which works out to about $510 for every mile of driving range. Following closely behind the BMW was the Toyota RAV4 EV $483) and Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive ($476). See chart with article.

plugincars writes about The Coming Era of Long-Range Electric Cars. According to this website, in recent week automakers have been discussing the possibility of producing and selling electric cars that get 200-plus miles on a single charge. Flor example, Mark Reuss, the global product chief for General Motors, confirmed earlier this month that the company was working on a 200-mile car. Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, chief of powertrain development at Volkswagen, said his ccmpany is about five years from an EV that gets between 300 and 370 miles per charge. Neusser views plug-in hybrids as a “bridge technology” for the next few years, until the longer-range electric car is commercialized. See also, Clean Technica, 310- To 373-Mile Electric Cars By 2020, Says VW Exec

Tech Flash tells us the US state of Georgia leads in EV sales in that country. Most would think it would be California but large state tax incentives have propelled Georgia to this position. California ranks second. EVs comprise 1.6% of all registered vehicle sales in Georgia this year. The US national average for EV registrations is 0.3%. The southern state provides drivers a $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of a new EV whereas California offers a $2,500 state tax credit. The region’s temperate climate and relatively flat topography means limited drain on electric vehicle batteries, maximizing mileage range. See also International Business Times, How Georgia Became The State With The Highest Electric Car Adoption Rate.

Meanwhile ending these incentives can bring electric vehicle sales to a half. Business Vancouver reports sales of EVs have dropped considerably in the Canadian province of British Columbia once it removed its $5000 rebate for new EV purchases. The rebate was introduced in 2012 and removed in March of this year. BC is the first jurisdiction in North America to stop providing a rebate to encourage drivers to buy battery-powered vehicles. Since March only about 100 EVs have been sold in the province.

The Irish city of Cork is offering a number of perks to increase EV driving. The Irish Examiner says the city is offering free parking, free charging, free charge points, waived toll charges, zero deposit, and 0% finance as part of a package of incentives to encourage people to buy EVs. Car manufacturers, including Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi Motors, and BMW are providing more than 75 EVs for extended test drives. Marine Minister Simon Coveney said:

“There are about 450 private electric plug-in cars in Ireland at the moment and that is not a good figure. We’d like to see this project increase that number by at least 50% in Cork alone.”

See also Kildare Nationalist, Cork launches electric car initiative in aim to become European Green Capital




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Cal on October 23rd, 2014

Earth's Energy

Cal on October 21st, 2014

Something Different

Cal on October 21st, 2014

Lockheed Martin said it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. An official said that a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work.

US banker Citigroup says that the global economy has received a $1.1 trillion stimulus for lower crude oil prices as more money is now staying with oil importing countries rather than going to exporters. This stimulus is already showing up in the US with oil imports down 7% from last year and many economic indicators looking better.

US crude oil imports were 7.4 million barrels for the week ending October 10, down 7.4% from the same week in 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration..

Plummeting world oil prices are throwing into doubt financial stability of Venezuela.  The country relies on crude oil exports for most of its income.  Oil exporters from Russia to Iran are suffering with the lowest crude oil prices since June 2012. But few are as vulnerable as Venezuela, where a free-spending government had already been grappling with a recession, widespread shortages, and massive protests earlier this year

Two of OPEC’s largest members say they will not immediately reduce crude oil production to offset tumbling world oil prices, a signal the group is unlikely to respond to Venezuelan calls for an emergency meeting. While oil producing nations would like higher prices, they are unlikely to achieve that by lowering supply. Saudi Arabia, which pumped almost one-third of the group’s output last month, has indicated it will not alter its supplies much between now and the end of the year.

OPEC must keep cutting crude oil prices to displace competing supplies from Latin America and West Africa, Indian refiners said. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, which account for about half of OPEC’s output, will sell crude to Asia next month at the largest discounts since at least January 2009.

The Kashagan oilfielddiscovered in 2000 in the Caspian Sea, was the world’s largest crude oil find in three decades. By now it was supposed to be pumping 1.2 million barrels per day. A year ago, when the first trickle of crude briefly flowed, it was already eight years behind schedule having cost $43 billion, some $30 billion over budget. Production lasted only a few weeks before leaks of poisonous gas forced its suspension. Earlier this month a government minister admitted it would not restart until at least 2016.

.Norway’s Statoil and its joint venture partner, Exxon Mobil, announced the discovery of about 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place at the Giligiliani-1 exploration well offshore the East African nation of Tanzania. The new discovery pushes the total of in-place natural gas reserves above the 20 trillion cubic feet mark.

Canada estimates the Gulf of St. Lawrence may hold as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale formations in the Eastern US continues to grow. Total production from the Utica shale should increase from 155 million cubic feet per day in January 2012 to an expected 1.3 billion cubic feet per day in September. By 2020, Marcellus could be responsible for about one-quarter of the total US. natural gas supply.

The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute may be coming to a conclusion. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko announced that he has reached a temporary agreement with Russia to resume natural gas settlements through March at $385 per 1,000 cubic meters. This is down from the $485 that Ukraine was paying for its natural gas under a 2009 agreement. A new contract is expected to be signed this week. The Russians had been demanding that Ukraine pay the $3.1 billion owed for previous deliveries before shipments would be resumed. There is some discussion that the International Monetary Fund might loan Ukraine the money to pay off the debt to Gazprom.

A new $4 billion polyethylene production facility in the Bakken shale formation in the US state of North Dakota could soon help crude oil and natural gas producers in the region reduce natural gas flaring in the state. CERES estimates that up to 30% of gas produced in North Dakota is flared—more than $100 million a month of natural gas that is just burned off.  The plant will employ 500 workers and will be able to produce 3.3 billion points of polyethylene annually.

China’s government has said it will impose a resources tax of between 2% and 10% on the country’s struggling coal industry after last week’s surprise announcement of an increase in import tariffs for both coking and thermal coals. China imposed a levy of 3% on coking coal imports and6% on lower grade thermal coal. These actions are being taken to counter the country’s worsening pollution problems.


with h/t Tom Whipple


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Cal on October 21st, 2014

Oil prices have fallen and we don’t know if in the future there will be enough to cover the costs of these global mega-projects.  It’s a big challenge that means the industry has to improve its efficiency rates, lower costs and increase capacity.”  Cipollitti estimated that more than half of the world’s 163 biggest oil projects required a $120 market price for crude.

    Luisa Cipollitti, with Statoil Venezuela 

Cal on October 20th, 2014

Earth's Energy

Cal on October 18th, 2014

Something Different

Cal on October 18th, 2014

Mother Earth News has a three part series about how food waste is converted into biogas.  You can read Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

The New Indian Express writes about the waste-to-energy revolution in Sweden where 99% of all household waste in Sweden is reused, recycled or composted.

Not only are they running their power grids from their own waste, they import over 800,000 tonnes/year of trash from neighbouring European countries like the UK, Ireland, Norway and Italy to use in their power plants. So Sweden generates heat and power for its buildings from trash and gets paid to do it!

See also care2, The Swedish Revolution: Turning 99% of Garbage Into Energy.

Finland has opened its largest waste to energy plant reports Energy Digital. Vantaa Energia opened the facility last week in Vantaa. With a generating capacity of 920 GWh, it’s expected to power 50% of district heating demands and 30% of Vantaa’s electricity. The power is produced by burning waste collected from the surrounding areas of Uusimaa, a region which includes Helsinki. It will process an estimated 320,000 tons of waste annually..

A UK firm is turning human waste into energy say RT. Severn Trent Water claims to be the first electric power company in the UK to provide biomethane gas, created by breaking down the ‘sludge’ in sewers. The sludge is a combination of human waste compounds and biodegradable matter. The gas is then put into the National Grid to help heat the nation’s homes and businesses. Other energy producers including Wessex Water and Northumbrian Water also have plans to develop a pipe to supply natural gas from sewers.

In the past, energy companies have used the method to provide electricity and heat on site, but advances in cleaning technology now mean high quality biomethane gas may be the way forward for UK households in the near future.

Meanwhile a US firm is converting potato peels into power. ALT Energy Stocks tells us about Blue Sphere Inc. which has started construction on a bio-digester and electric power generation facility near Charlotte, North Carolina that will turn potato peelings and apple cores into 5.2 MW of power. Electric utility giant Duke Energy will buy the power when the plant goes operational by the end of 2015.

From Climate Spectator we learn LMS Energy has opened a waste-to-gas generator at Swanbank Landfill at Ipwich, southwest of Brisbane in Australia. The methane gas from the landfill is expected to generate 9000 megawatt-hours a year of electricity for the country’s grid.


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