According to energy consultant Wood Mackenzie, presently 13% of global C02 emissions are subjected to a carbon price. The firm believes, however, that technology and economics, not carbon pricing or other government policies, will drive the world towards decarbonization. “”It’s the technology that’s the wildcard now. How quickly can renewables costs fall, how quickly can competing technologies in the transport sector, such as electric vehicles, begin to take a bigger market share on a purely economic basis.”

Switzerland votes in a referendum on November 27th to decide on whether to make a speedy withdrawal from nuclear energy production of electricity, a move that would reduce nuclear risks but raise reliance on fossil fuels from Germany or imported nuclear power from France. The public is split on the issue and a close result is expected. Switzerland currently gets two thirds of its electric power from hydro and one-third from nuclear. Neigbouring Germany shut 40% of its nuclear reactors after Fukushima and will close the rest by 2022.

France has announced it will shut down all coal-fired electricity generating plants in the country by 2023.  Currently France derives more than 75% of its electricity from nuclear fission. It produces so much nuclear energy, in fact, that it exports much of it to nearby nations. The European nation has a goal of becoming totally renewable by 2050.

Finland announced it will phase out the use of coal in electricity production by 2030. The move is part of the northern European country’s goal to make the nation’s energy production carbon-neutral and based on renewable biofuels by 2050. Currently, coal generates 8% of Finland’s electric power needs.

Oil and natural gas companies operating in Norway, western Europe’s largest petroleum producer, have cut investment forecasts for 2017 as they continue to wrestle with a collapse in crude oil prices. The companies expect to invest 3.6% less than from a previous estimate for the year. This will be the third year in a row of petroleum investment declines. Exploration wells and removal projects originally planned for 2017 are now postponed.

This week Finland announced it wants more than 50% of the country’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. Instead of the current 13% of renewable biofuel (biomethane) used in regular petrol, the government intends to nearly triple that requirement to 30% by the year 2030.  In addition, the government wants to have 250,000 electric cars on the roads by that year. To meet that goal, the government announced a 4,000 euro subsidy for towards the purchase of electric cars.  By 2030, Finland also want 50,000 vehicles on the road powered by renewable biomethane.

Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstanding the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they are building into road surfaces.The company plans to commercialize them in 2018.  Now they are about to test them on roads in several continents. A kilometer-sized testing site began construction last month in the French village of Tourouvre in Normandy. The electricity generated by this stretch of solar road will feed directly into the grid. The next two test sites will be in the city of Calgary in Canada and in the US state of Georgia. Bouygues also plans to build roads in Africa, Japan and throughout the European Union. The purpose of the tests is to determine the effect of the panels in all kinds of different traffic and climate conditions.

Automaker Toyota hopes to improve its electric-car range by 15% by the end of this decade, thanks to a breakthrough in observing how batteries work. By observing the behaviour of lithium ions in an electrolyte when a battery charges and discharges, Toyota believes it has found out why batteries age and lose their ability to charge fully as they get older. The company believes its discovery will lead to a 15% increase in electric-car range within the next couple of years. The current limit for electric milage range is between 200 and 290 miles, as achieved by Tesla and its range of Model S and Model X cars. A 15% increase would see the upper end jump to just over 330 miles per charge, bringing the electric car closer to its internal combustion competitors.

The US city of St. Petersburg, Florida has voted unanimously to transition to 100% renewable energy. Earlier this year the major executed an executive order  that established a net-zero energy goal for the city.  No timeline was set for meeting its transition goals. St. Petersburg joins 19 other American cities that have committed to doing away with fossil fuels entirely.

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