Saudi Arabia has started the process to build 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear electricity generating capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. The Saudis want to reduce the amount of crude oil they burn domestically for generate electricity so they can sell more of it overseas.

In Brazil, the oil majors bought several deepwater offshore blocks from auction, indicating a high level of interest in the country after it announced it was allowing private investment. Royal Dutch Shell won half of the blocks that were offered and says it can break even with crude oil prices at $40 per barrel, making Brazil one of the most attractive places to drill offshore in the world.

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex has made its largest onshore oil discovery in fifteen years with a find in the eastern state of Veracruz. The overall field is believed to hold some 350 million barrels of proven, probable and possible reserves.

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group announced that their joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of non-edible biomass sources into biodiesel.

Chile has completed renewable energy auctions where 600 megawatts of installed electrical generation capacity went for an average bid of $32.5/megawatt-hour (MWh or 3.25 cents per kilowatt hour). The lowest bid was $21.48/MWh. The projects include both wind and solar installations. Chile currently produces 45% of its electricity from renewables.  The South American country has a goal of 90% by 2050 using only solar, wind and geothermal energy sources.

Latin America’s largest solar farm opened in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The 246 megawatt El Romero Solar installation in Vallenar comprises 776,000 solar modules and can generate enough electricity to supply 240,000 Chilean households.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have developed an “air-breathing” flow battery that exhales oxygen, stores energy for months, is made of common materials, and costs about one-fifth of what current storage batteries cost to run. The team estimates that a scaled-up version of their breathing battery would cost between $20 and $30 per kilowatt-hour stored. By comparison, other storage systems currently available cost about $100 per kWh.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it is “well on the way” to its commitment of sending 40% of its annual investments toward financing renewable energy projects in EU countries by 2020.

Former General Motors executive Bob Lutz tells us our automated vehicle future is almost here.

“The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways. The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents. Of course, there will be a transition period. Everyone will have five years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap or trade it on a module.”

A new report by Markets and Markets predicts the hybrid electric vehicle market will be worth $41 billion by 2022, significantly more than the $19 billion in 2016. The analysts foresee hybrid vehicle sales growing from 1.8 million units in 2016 to 4.6 million units in 2022. This dramatic rise in sales will be driven by demand for higher fuel efficiency, high voltage applications, and stringent emission regulations by governments around the world forcing automakers to offer a plethora of electrified vehicles. The researchers further believe lithium-ion, nickel-based, lead-acid and solid-state batteries will all play a role in the electrification of the automotive market.

Boston Consulting Group predicts pure electric vehicles will not begin to gain serious traction in most global markets until after 2025 and will likely account for 14% of total global vehicle production by 2030. By comparison, this year EVs will account for less than 1% of the nearly 100 million vehicles sold worldwide and only 6% by 2025. Currently EV sales are driven by government incentives to drive sales. By 2030 the researchers believe that market forces will replace government incentives.  Battery costs are expected to fall rapidly after 2020, to as low as $80 per kilowatt-hour by 2025, compared with about $150 today and more than $650 in 2010. By 2021 the cost of owning and operating an electric vehicle over 10 years will fall below that of comparable petrol engine vehicles. A gradual shift to ride sharing in the larger metropolitan areas, especially in the United States, will drive demand for EVs, in large part because the shared vehicles will accumulate miles more rapidly and thus narrow the gap in operating costs with combustion-engine vehicles. Likewise, a shift to self-driving vehicles, particularly in ride-sharing fleets, will boost EV demand after 2025.

Automaker Toyota is eyeing airless tires to help reduce the weight of battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles and boost performance. The Japanese company is using these tires — featuring individual motors in each wheel — on a vehicle for the first time with its hydrogen-powered concept car, Fine-Comfort Ride. The tires comprise a band of rubber encircling a plastic-aluminum hub, which could one day compensate for the weight of the motors. The company is hoping for developments in the technology that can help reduce five kilograms (11 pounds) — or about 30% — from each tire’s weight by as early as 2025. Sumitomo Rubber said it is targeting to have a commercial product ready by 2020. The technology is currently used on lawn mowers, golf carts, construction machinery and recreational all-terrain vehicles but is still unproven on passenger cars.




with h/t Tom Whipple

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