Cal on February 23rd, 2017

China’s current Five-Year Plan envisions building seven new nuclear reactors a year between 2016 and 2020. China currently has 36 nuclear reactors in operation, 21 under construction and more waiting to start.

There were only 174 crude oil and natural gas discoveries worldwide last year, compared to an average of 400-500 per year up until 2013, according to research group IHS Markit.  The slowdown in exploration indicates the world is likely to become increasingly reliant on “unconventional” resources such as US shale oil and gas to meet demand for energy in future decades.

Iran has found shale oil reserves of 2 billion barrels of light crude in its western Lorestan province, according to the National Iranian Oil Company. Exploration is also being carried out for shale gas reserves in the area, and the studies were expected to be completed by this October. Iran has proven oil reserves of about 160 billion barrels, almost 10% of the world’s total.

A report from Houston-based consulting firm Graves & Co. reveals the global oil and gas industry has suffered 441,371 jobs lost since the beginning of the most recent downturn.

Saudi Arabia uses about 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil in the summer to meet its air conditioning demands.  The desert kingdom plans to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, starting with wind and solar plants in its vast northwestern desert. The effort could replace a sizable amount of the oil now burned to produce electric power. This oil could then be diverted to export markets.

The social and economic crisis in Venezuela continues to get worse with many talking about a financial default followed by a societal collapse this year. Should this happen, anywhere up to 2 million barrels per day of crude oil production could be taken from international markets, an amount sure to drive oil prices higher.

Consultants CRU Group say global electric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million in 2021 and more than six million by 2025, up from 1.1 million last year.

General Motors Co plans to deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in the US in partnership with ride-sharing affiliate Lyft Inc, beginning in 2018. Most of the specially equipped versions of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle will be tested by Lyft in its ride-sharing fleet in several states.

The Argentinian city of Buenos Aires saw the first street race of two driverless electric cars running at speeds of up to 185 kilometers per hour. The cars used sensors and on-board systems to navigate the street circuit whilst communicating with each other to avoid contact. However, this did not prevent one of the cars crashing into a barrier. The organizers of Formula E (all electric) racing hope ultimately to have up to 10 driverless cars racing together, run by teams who write their own software, around city tracks as part of their annual racing series.



h/t Tom Whipple

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Cal on February 23rd, 2017

Cal on February 22nd, 2017

Cal on February 21st, 2017

A recent survey of global automotive executives by accounting firm KPMG revealed 78% of them said hydrogen fuel cells are the “real breakthrough” due to their zero emissions, construction, operation, and recycling or disposal.  62% of those polled said electric vehicles will fail, meaning the current push for electric vehicles may be somewhat short-lived. 76% believe the traditional internal combustion engine will remain relevant for “quite some time,” except for diesels, which they do not see lasting much longer. 82% believe a Silicon Valley firm will launch an electric or autonomous car within the next four years. Perhaps, most interestingly, 59% of these executives believe that half of all drivers in the world do not want to be owing a car by 2025. The survey included 1000 auto executives in 42 countries.

The global hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market is projected to grow at compound annual growth rate of more than 82% during the next 5 years, according to the latest Technavio report. According to the market research firm, the growth will be driven by three factors: reduced emission and improved fuel economy; development of infrastructure to produce hydrogen; and incentives and investments by governments. Moreover, fuel cells are compact and lightweight and thus the mileage of these vehicles is considerably higher when compared to plug-in electric vehicles. The demand for fuel cell electric vehicles is directly related to the existence of hydrogen infrastructure. Significant investments are now being made to scale up the production of hydrogen, including thermochemical conversion of fossil fuels to hydrogen by steam methane reforming or coal gasification processes with integrated carbon capture and storage units, biomass gasification, and the use of nuclear or renewable energy for water electrolysis. All major countries are investing in research and development of hydrogen vehicles and supporting infrastructure development including providing financial incentives to universities, manufacturers and to buyers of fuel cell vehicles.

South Korean automaker Kia announced it will bring a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to market by 2021. The company said it will be a ‘bigger’ model which would be capable of housing conventional combustion engines, as well as hybrid and electric options and a fuel cell. The hydrogen range will range be about 500 miles with a top speed around 105 mph. Over the next four years the company will spend over US$8 billion to launch seven new hybrids, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and battery-electric and fuel cell cars. More efficient multi-speed transmissions are also being developed.

In the US state of California, a county near Los Angeles is adding 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses to its fleet. It already has one hydrogen bus in operation. The municipal bus line will also be adding a hydrogen refueling station and making maintenance modifications to service hydrogen vehicles. The 10 new buses are scheduled to begin service by the end of 2018. The bus line also has 530 buses which operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). These buses are financed by the State which has a goal of transforming all buses to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Also in California, the city of Oakland is doubling its hydrogen bus fleet by adding 10 new fuel cell buses. These are expected to be operating by the end of 2018.

Iceland is beginning to build a hydrogen fuel cell refueling network across the Nordic country. Nel Hydrogen Solutions has formed a joint venture with Icelandic oil retail company Skeljunger HF to build the first three stations and an electrolyser. The stations will be connected to central hydrogen electrolysis production. Once completed in 2018, almost 80% of the Icelandic population will be within reach of one of the three stations. This is the first step in the continuous, long-term expansion of the network across the nation.




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Cal on February 20th, 2017

Cal on February 20th, 2017

Global Electricity Generation Mix: 2013-2035


Source: Mckinsey Global InstituteHow technology is reshaping supply and demand for natural resources

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Cal on February 20th, 2017

Cal on February 19th, 2017

Recent global solar-power capacity auctions have come in at record low levels: $0.033/kilowatt-hour (kwh) in India, $0.032/kwh in Mexico, $0.024/kwh in Abu Dhabi, $0.029/kwh in Chile, and $0.039/kwh in the United States. In adding renewable energy to their grids, many countries are now holding public auctions whereby the lowest qualified bidders get the government contracts to build electrical generating capacity. This is the most economic way of ensuring a country gets renewable energy at the lowest cost.

A report from the McKinsey Global Institute, How technology is reshaping supply and demand for natural resources,” estimates that renewable energy sources, primarily solar and wind, could jump from 4% of global power generation today to as much as 36% by 2035, reshaping global electricity markets in the process. By 2025 solar PV and wind power could become competitive with the marginal cost of natural gas and coal production, accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources. Growth rates in renewable power deployment would likely accelerate after that.

McKinsey further projects that growth of primary energy demand worldwide will slow and could even peak in 2025 if new technologies such as robotics, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are adopted rapidly. Global demand for crude oil and coal will most likely peak and could decline over the next two decades. While oil demand is likely to continue growing strongly in China and India with a rapidly emerging middles class, it could slow in North America and Europe. due to increased energy efficiency and shifts in transportation to electric and hydrogen vehicles and autonomous cars.

The South American country of Argentina has set a target to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% of the country’s electricity generation mix by 2025.

Spending by US consumers on energy is now at its lowest level in 60 years. The lower prices for energy resulted from falling electricity, gasoline and natural gas prices along with improved energy efficiency. US consumers allotted less than 4% of household spending to energy in 2016, the lowest levels since record-keeping of this kind began 60 years ago.

The European Commission announced the continent will be investing €444 million in energy infrastructure projects.  Of the 18 projects selected, seven are in the electricity sector, 10 in the natural gas sector and one smart grid. Five projects relate to construction works and 13 to studies. Germany’s SuedLink project will connect wind power generated in northern Germany with consumer centres in the south of the country through 700 kilometers of underground high-voltage cables. It represents that nation’s largest energy infrastructure project to date and is designed to better integrate renewable energies into the national grid as well as enhance the cross-border exchange of energy with neighbouring countries.

European Union countries Slovenia and Croatia’s are building a smart grid project, which includes 10 megawatts of battery energy storage, grid integration of distributed generation resources such as small hydro and biogas plants, and advanced control systems. The project will integrate renewable energy into their electrical grids and enhance greater energy security without the need to build new overhead power cables.

Last year automaker General Motors committed to running all of its operations with renewable energy by 2050. This week it announced its SUV plant in Arlington, Texas (which makes more than 1,000 SUV’s a day) will be entirely powered by wind energy by the end of next year. The assembly plant is one of GM’s largest assembly plants in the world, both from a manufacturing footprint as well as electricity load.

The US cities of Pueblo, Colorado and Moab, Utah, became the 22nd and 23rd cities in that country to commit to a transition to 100% renewable energy by the mid-2030s.

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