Daimler to invest $11 billion in electronic vehicles  

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Reuters reports that Daimler is about to move into the electric vehicle market - Daimler to invest $11 billion in electronic vehicles.

uxury carmaker Daimler is planning to invest up to 10 billion euros in developing electric vehicles, its research and development head told a German daily. German firms are investing heavily in electric cars, once shunned for their high cost and limited operating range but now benefiting from recent advances in battery technology and a backlash against diesel fumes.

Danish wind nears 100% of demand over weekend  

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RNE reports that Danish wind power generation is getting close to power demand on good days - Graph of the Day: Danish wind nears 100% of demand over weekend.

Wind energy had a good run in Denmark over the weekend, with the nation’s wind farms at times generating enough electricity to meet demand over the course of Saturday, November 26. ...

Denmark – a world leader in both onshore and offshore wind power development – aims to have wind supply 50 per cent of electricity consumption by 2020. In 2015, wind energy supplied 42 per cent of domestic electricity consumption.

Since installing the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991, the country has installed a total of 1,271MW offshore wind, which combined with its onshore wind capacity amounted to 5,070MW as at January 2016.

WSJ: Oil Industry Anticipates Peak Oil Day of Reckoning  

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The Wall Street Journal has an article on the looming prospect of peak oil demand - Oil Industry Anticipates Day of Reckoning.

Last month Shell finance chief Simon Henry caused a stir when he said the company sees oil demand peaking in five to 15 years. Shell’s latest published forecasts have consumption flattening toward the end of that period.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corp. quietly issued a report in the summer predicting that China’s oil consumption—a major driver of growth in recent decades—will begin to fall by 2030, if not sooner. Global demand is expected to follow suit.

The International Energy Agency, which advises industrialized countries on energy policy, says consumption will continue to rise for decades in its most likely scenario. But that picture shifts radically if governments take further action to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius with more stringent policies like carbon pricing, strict emissions limits and the removal of fossil-fuel subsidies. If that happens, oil demand could peak within the next 10 years, the IEA says.

“The question is more a question of when, rather than if,” Dominic Emery, BP’s vice president for long-term planning and policy, told the Economist Energy Summit in London this month. BP says oil demand could fall by the late 2020s if tougher emissions laws are enacted.

Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level  

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The Guardian has a look at the melting arctic - Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level.

Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

The Economist on The future of oil  

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The Economist has a special report on energy, looking at how to break the oil habit - The future of oil.

For all its staying power, oil may be facing its Model T moment. The danger is not an imminent collapse in demand but the start of a shift in investment strategies away from finding new sources of oil to finding alternatives to it. The immediate catalyst is the global response to climate change. An agreement in Paris last year that offers a 50/50 chance of keeping global warming to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, and perhaps limiting it to 1.5ºC, was seen by some as a declaration of war against fossil fuels.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), a global forecaster, says that to come close to a 2ºC target, oil demand would have to peak in 2020 at 93m barrels per day (b/d), just above current levels. Oil use in passenger transport and freight would plummet over the next 25 years, to be replaced by electricity, natural gas and biofuels. None of the signatories to the Paris accord has pledged such draconian action yet, but as the costs of renewable energy and batteries fall, such a transition appears ever more inevitable. “Whether or not you believe in climate change, an unstoppable shift away from coal and oil towards lower-carbon fuels is under way, which will ultimately bring about an end to the oil age,” says Bernstein, an investment-research firm.

Few doubt that the fossil fuel which will suffer most from this transition is coal. In 2014 it generated 46% of the world’s fuel-based carbon-dioxide emissions, compared with 34% for oil and 20% for natural gas. Natural gas is likely to be the last fossil fuel to remain standing, because of its relative cleanliness. Many see electricity powered by gas and renewables as the first step in an overhaul of the global energy system.

This special report will focus on oil because it is the biggest single component of the energy industry and the world’s most traded commodity, with about $1.5trn-worth exported each year. Half of the Global Fortune 500’s top ten listed companies produce oil, and unlisted Saudi Aramco dwarfs them all. Oil bankrolls countries that bring stability to global geopolitics as well as those in the grip of tyrants and terrorists. And its products fuel 93% of the world’s transport, so its price affects almost everyone.

Another article in the report looks out into the post oil future - When oil is no longer in demand.

As the world enters what could be the twilight of the oil age, some wonder whether Aberdeen’s travails could be a harbinger of things to come in oil-producing regions across the world. Mr Spence thinks so. He still runs the smartest hotel in Aberdeen and is about to install a charging station for electric vehicles. ...

Statoil, the Norwegian state oil company, has set an example of what oil companies might do in future. Earlier this year it acquired a lease to build the world’s largest floating wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead, north of Aberdeen. Each of its five 6MW turbines will be tethered to the seabed on a floating steel base, enabling it to operate in deeper water than a conventional turbine embedded into the sea floor. That will give it access to stronger winds farther offshore, making it cheaper to produce electricity.

A Trump adviser wants to scale back NASA’s ability to study climate change  

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Vox has a report on a Trump "science" adviser speculating about cutting NASA's earth science research to cut down on all that annoying global warming data being captured (echoing the Australian government's attempts to purge itself of climate scientists) - A Trump adviser wants to scale back NASA’s ability to study climate change. As the UCS says - Bad decision !.

Donald Trump isn’t just vowing to undo US climate policies as president. His transition team is also talking about curtailing NASA’s ability to study climate change. ... In the piece, it becomes clear that what Walker really dislikes is NASA’s research on global warming, which he called “heavily politicized” without any justification. (Walker, who was the Republican chair of the House science committee from 1995 to 1997, claimed that “half” the world’s climatologists doubt the human role in global warming — that’s just not true at all.)

A move like this, if it actually happened, could be a big deal. Not only would it mean serious changes to America’s ability to study global warming, but it could affect a host of other key NASA programs that provide info on everything from weather to wildfires to drought and much more. And while any change to NASA’s budget would require congressional approval, plenty of Republicans in both the House and Senate are on board with removing the agency’s earth science programs.

LNG: Having spent $200bn to export gas, is Australia about to import it?  

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Now the Australian building boom for LNG plants (exporting natural gas from the north west and coal seam gas from the north east) is over, local utility AGL is wondering if the easiest source of gas in future may be LNG imports from elsewhere - LNG: Having spent $200bn to export gas, is Australia about to import it?.

In a 21st century variant of "selling coals to Newcastle", energy supplier AGL has flagged it may need to spend up to $300 million to build an LNG import depot to shield itself from soaring gas prices and increasing difficulty in finding reliable local supplies.

Solar Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year  

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Bloomberg has an update on progress developing solar roads - Solar-Panel Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year.

Electric avenues that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you. A subsidiary of Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they’re now building into road surfaces. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, they’re constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018.

Canada to phase out coal-fired power by 2030  

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The Independent reports that Canada is looking to retire coal fired power within 15 years - Canada set to phase out coal-fired power by 2030.

Canada will close its coal-fired power plants by 2030 as part of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emission under the Paris climate accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced on Monday.

The woodwide web  

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The Guardian has a review of a book called "The Hidden Life of Trees" by German forester Peter Wohlleben - The man who ​thinks trees talk to each other. Maybe they use "nature's internet" to communicate with each other ?

Trees have friends, feel loneliness, scream with pain and communicate underground via the “woodwide web”. Some act as parents and good neighbours. Others do more than just throw shade – they’re brutal bullies to rival species. The young ones take risks with their drinking and leaf-dropping then remember the hard lessons from their mistakes. It’s a hard-knock life.

Scottish mainland gets electricity from tidal power for first time  

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The Independent has an update on Atlantis' 400MW Maygen tidal power project in Scotland - Scottish mainland gets electricity from tidal power for first time.

Scotland's mainland has received electricity from tidal power for the first time ever. A 1.5MW tidal stream turbine off the Caithness coast started operating last week, sending power back to the shore. Atlantis, the company behind project MayGen, hopes to eventually deploy up to 269 turbines, which will generate around 400MW of electricity.

Strange, super-hot temperatures at the Arctic mean that sea ice is melting  

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The Independent has an article on the unprecedented warmth in the Arctic - Strange, super-hot temperatures at the Arctic mean that sea ice is melting. Yale Environment 360 reports that the Chinese and Russians are looking to take advantage of the new shipping lanes opening up to the North - Full Speed Ahead: Shipping Plans Grow as Arctic Ice Fades.

Russia, China, and other nations are stepping up preparations for the day when large numbers of cargo ships will be traversing a once-icebound Arctic Ocean. But with vessels already plying these waters, experts say the time is now to prepare for the inevitable environmental fallout.

The Ta'u Microgrid  

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Wired has an article on a renewable microgrid powering the island of Tu'a in American Samoa - This island is powered entirely by solar panels and batteries thanks to SolarCity.

The island of Ta’u in American Samoa, more than 4,000 miles from the United States’ West Coast, now hosts a solar power and battery storage-enabled microgrid that can supply nearly 100 per cent of the island’s power needs from renewable energy. The microgrid is made up of 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and six-megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks. The whole thing took just a year to implement.

Due to the remote nature of the island, its citizens were used to constant power rationing, outages and a high dependency on diesel generators. The installation of the microgrid, however, provides a cost-saving alternative to diesel, and the island’s core services such as the local hospital, schools and police stations don’t have to worry about outages or rationing anymore.

Picnic at Standing Rock  

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Protests about the North Dakota pipeline have been going on for more than 6 months now, with recent reports like "Police fire water cannon at Dakota pipeline protesters in freezing weather" and ugly associated video footage becoming more common. Yale Environment 360 has a look at what has been happening - At Standing Rock, A Battle Over Fossil Fuels and Land.

For more than eight months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been leading a protest to stop an oil pipeline from crossing near its land and potentially threatening its drinking water and sacred sites. In many ways, the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil some 1,200 miles daily, is a traditional fight over Native American land rights. But as indigenous environmental justice expert Kyle Powys Whyte sees it, the demonstration also points to the important role tribes have played in opposing fossil fuel energy projects in recent years, from the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. to the Northern Gateway pipeline in Canada.

“Almost everywhere you go, tribes have taken direct action to protect their health and their cultures and their economies from the threats, as well as the false promises of, extractive industries,” says Powys Whyte, an associate professor at Michigan State University who studies climate policy and indigenous peoples and is a member of the Potawatomi Nation.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Powys Whyte talks about the long history of coal and oil and gas development on native lands, the longstanding divisions within indigenous communities over allowing such projects, and why the Standing Rock protest has become a lightning rod for opposition to fossil fuels.

Watch Tesla "instant speed" avoid a potential rear-end collision  

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TechCrunch has some video of a Tesla narrowly avoiding a collision thanks to its rapid acceleration (not done by the auto-pilot but you'd imagine this would give the AI and/or development team some ideas) - Watch Tesla Model S P85D’s instant speed avoid a potential rear-end collision.

Tesla owner Jason Hughes captured a narrow miss in his car using a rear-mounted dash cam, showing the moment a Prius coming up from behind clearly didn’t notice that he’d stopped to turn left into a parking lot.

The distracted Prius driver realizes late that he’s going to plow into the Tesla, and makes a turn toward the curb to avoid it. But by the time he’s reacted, the P85D is actually already clear of the danger zone, something Hughes attributes to his car’s instant acceleration, which comes from its electric motors’ ability to provide torque instantly, unlike in a fossil fuel-burning vehicle.

The future of second-generation biofuel  

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McKinsey has a report on second generation (2G) biofuel production - The future of second-generation biomass.

The promise of the second-generation (2G) bioconversion industry is that it will transform cellulose-based, nonedible biomass and agricultural waste into clean and affordable high-value fuels or chemicals. (The first-generation, or 1G, technology converts edible biomass.) In this way, 2G could offer an alternative source both of energy and of chemical-industry inputs, which other renewable technologies cannot provide.

That is 2G’s potential, but the industry failed to deliver on this promise for almost a decade. However, there has been progress in recent years. Since the inauguration of the first commercial-scale 2G plant, in 2013, eight more have opened around the world, of which some, not surprisingly, are failing, while others are progressing. Most are in North America, two are in Brazil, and one is in Europe—all markets with mature 1G biomass industries and governments that support cellulosic ethanol.

Second-generation projects have also begun attracting interest in China, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia in the form of government initiatives to coordinate action and to facilitate the establishment of a 2G ethanol market. As these trends suggest, the technology could be approaching the acceleration phase that marked the development trajectory of other industries, such as wind power, solar energy, and shale gas. In each case, growth was modest at first and then took off

At feedstock costs of $30 to $50 a ton and validated levels of technology performance, 2G production economics can compete on cost with 1G bioethanol and certain more expensive oil sources,2 particularly at locations where 2G operations can piggyback on existing 1G infrastructure, such as sugarcane bagasse feedstock or corn stover at 1G plants that already process sugarcane and corn, respectively. On a marginal-cost basis, 2G is already structurally more attractive than 1G because its running costs3 are lower.

However, there are two important risks: feedstock security (which can be addressed through forward contracts) and technology. Building new commercial-scale plants will encourage simplification and standardization, while also leading to scale efficiencies that reduce capital expenditures. As with the development of wind farms, leading players should eventually be able to offer investors turnkey operations. Government support could improve the business case substantially for some 2G plants, and there are precedents for this: Germany helped build initial capacity for solar power, as the United States did for the 1G industry.

Total to install 200MW of solar on 5,000 service stations  

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PV Magazine reports that oil company Total is getting into solar power, initially to meet their own power needs, but perhaps paving the way for electric car recharges as well - Total to install 200MW of solar on 5,000 service stations.

The project will add 200 MW of solar PV capacity globally, and marks one of Total’s largest forays into the solar PV sector just a few days after the company’s CEO was one of ten oil and gas figureheads to sign a $1 billion investment pledge for clean energy technology development. Total will leverage its close partner, U.S. solar power developer SunPower, to supply the solar panels for the project, which will produce electricity equivalent to that required to power a city of 200,000 people once complete. The French company also calculates that it will save $40 million in its electricity bills a year, and lower its annual carbon emissions by 100,000 tons.

Total confirmed that 800 of the 5,000 installations will be located in France. The details of the project follow on from a pledge by leading members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) to invest $1 billion over the next ten years in technology that will help the world’s ten largest oil and gas companies to lower their carbon footprint.

This initiative received immediate criticism among environmentalists, who alleged that it was merely a piecemeal offering in the fight against climate change. Total, however, has been a little more progressive than many of its oil rivals, investing $1.1 billion earlier this year to acquire storage developer Saft.

OPEC Math Misses the Point  

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Julian Lee at Bloomberg has alook at Saudi oil production strategy in light of "peak oil demand" - OPEC Math Misses the Point.

The roots of this trace back to Nov. 2014, when the Kingdom refused to cut its output to support prices and subsidize high-cost rivals, rejecting the role of the world's swing producer.

This change of heart was inspired in part by the surge in U.S. shale oil production -- which was rising by 1 million barrels per day each year at the time -- in part by the growth in Iraqi output and in part by a re-evaluation of the long-term future of oil.

Saudi concerns over peak oil demand have changed its calculation of the long-term value of reserves in the ground. For most of the last 50 years they were seen as appreciating assets, whose value could only rise in the face of future scarcity. More recently a fear has surfaced that they could be wasting assets, falling in value as oil demand peaks and then wanes, while competing supplies vie for a dwindling market.

As I wrote in May, Saudi Arabia has finally heeded the warning issued in 2000 by former oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani, that the Stone Age did not end because of a lack of stones, and the oil age will not end for a lack of oil.

Trump vs Global Warming  

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George Monbiot has a look at the historical forces that enabled the rise of Donald Trump and notes that the biggest danger he poses initially is to action on global warming - The Deep History Behind Trump’s Rise.

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek’s triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair’s expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act, that had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn’t possess a narrative either (except “hope”), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion. As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If their dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes and delivering social justice, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people’s lives; debate is reduced to the yabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics, in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband. The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism’s crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek’s “independent”; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal think tankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, beginning with the agreement to limit global warming.

Grist is also worried about Trump's impact on climate action - There’s no way around it: Donald Trump looks like a disaster for the planet.

So what happens if Trump gets his way? More air pollution, more carbon emissions. Exactly how much more remains to be seen. There are, after all, plenty of other factors pushing down US emissions that Trump has no control over. Natural gas from fracking would continue to kill coal power. Wind and solar would continue to grow. But it’s nearly impossible to imagine emissions under Trump dropping at the sharp pace necessary to slow global warming.

Noam Chomsky also thinks that Trump is a menace to the planet - Trump in the White House: An Interview With Noam Chomsky.

Before turning to this question, I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on November 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.

No exaggeration.

The most important news of November 8 was barely noted, a fact of some significance in itself.

On November 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record. It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28 percent below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.

Another event took place on November 8, which also may turn out to be of unusual historical significance for reasons that, once again, were barely noted.

On November 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government -- executive, Congress, the Supreme Court -- in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

Apart from the last phrase, all of this is uncontroversial. The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The Party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.

Is this an exaggeration? Consider what we have just been witnessing.

Much to my surprise, Bill OReilly at Fox News also thinks Trump should do something about global warming and keep to the Paris agreement - What? Bill O'Reilly Is Urging Trump to Keep the Paris Climate Agreement.

Conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly is urging Donald Trump to stick to the Paris climate agreement, the global pact to reduce emissions that the president-elect has railed against for months. "It doesn't really amount to much anyway," O'Reilly told his Fox News audience Wednesday evening. "Let it go."

One time Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis isn't focused on global warming when he talks about Trump, but he did have an interesting piece of commentary in the SMH after the US elections - Trump victory comes with a silver lining for the world's progressives.

The election of Donald Trump symbolises the demise of a remarkable era. It was a time when we saw the curious spectacle of a superpower, the US, growing stronger because of – rather than despite – its burgeoning deficits. It was also remarkable because of the sudden influx of two billion workers – from China and Eastern Europe – into capitalism’s international supply chain. This combination gave global capitalism a historic boost, while at the same time suppressing Western labour’s share of income and prospects.

Trump’s success comes as that dynamic fails. His presidency represents a defeat for liberal democrats everywhere, but it holds important lessons – as well as hope – for progressives.

From the mid-1970s to 2008, the US economy had kept global capitalism in an unstable, though finely balanced, equilibrium. It sucked into its territory the net exports of economies such as those of Germany, Japan and later China, providing the world’s most efficient factories with the requisite demand. How was this growing trade deficit paid for? By the return of around 70 per cent of the profits made by foreign corporates to Wall Street, to be invested in America’s financial markets.

To keep this recycling mechanism going, Wall Street had to be unshackled from all constraints; leftovers from President Roosevelt’s New Deal and the post-war Bretton Woods agreement which sought to regulate financial markets. This is why Washington officials were so keen to deregulate finance: Wall Street provided the conduit through which increasing capital inflows from the rest of the world equilibrated the US deficits which were, in turn, providing the rest of the world with the aggregate demand stabilising the globalisation process. And so on.

A $900 Billion Oil Treasure Lies Beneath West Texas Desert ?  

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Art Berman has a post at Forbes looking rather skeptically at breathless reports about a "massive oil find" in the Permian basin in Texas (like this one - A $900 Billion Oil Treasure Lies Beneath West Texas Desert) - Permian Giant Oil Field Would Lose $500 Billion At Today's Prices. Tim Worstall isn't very impressed either - The Midland Basin Wolfcamp Shale Is Not Worth $900 Billion - That's Not How Resource Economics Works.

Read the source–the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS did an assessment of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of the Wolfcamp shale in the Permian basin. “Undiscovered” means what it says–it has not been discovered. It’s an estimate, an educated guess. ”Technically recoverable resources” means the oil that could be produced if cost didn’t matter.

Where Did $900 Billion Come From?

Where did the $900 billion value come from? Multiply 20 billion barrels times $45 per barrel and you get $900 billion. In other words, if the oil magically leaped out of the ground without the cost of drilling and completing wells; if there were no operating costs to produce it; if there were no taxes and no royalties.

Using seaweed to eliminate methane from cow farts  

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The CBC has an article on some interesting experiments on methane emission from ruminants - P.E.I. farmer assists in near-eradication of methane from cow farts.

A P.E.I. farmer has helped lead to a researcher's discovery of an unlikely weapon in the battle against global warming: a seaweed that nearly eliminates the destructive methane content of cow burps and farts.

"Ruminant animals are responsible for roughly 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, so it's not a small number," said Kinley, an agricultural research scientist now working at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Queensland, Australia. "We're talking numbers equivalent to hundreds of millions of cars."

Tesla extends Australian supercharger network  

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RNE has an article on Tesl'a upgrade to their Australian supercharger network - Tesla extends supercharger network to Brisbane, starts on Adelaide link.

Last week, Tesla Motors revealed it would begin charging new Tesla EV drivers a “small fee” to use its network of Superchargers, a change it said would be used to fund an expansion of that network. This week, the Californian EV maker is already making good on that promise in Australia, with the announcement of three new Supercharging stations along Australia’s south and east coasts; two between Sydney and Brisbane and one between Melbourne and Adelaide.

North America's First Offshore Wind Farm  

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The HuffPo has a post on North America's first offshore wind farm - North America Finally Has Its First Offshore Wind Farm.

North America’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm, started operations last Wednesday and is expected to be in full swing by Thanksgiving. When it is running at full capacity, the farm will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes, or about 4 percent of all households in Rhode Island. It’s a modest U.S. launch for an industry that has been booming in Europe. But it’s a big win after 15 years of trying to get offshore wind power off the ground.

RIP Jay Forrester  

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Ugo Bardi at Cassandra's Legacy has a tribute to the recently departed Jay Forrester, the inventor of system dynamics, the modelling method used in "The Limits To Growth" - Jay Forrester: the man who saw the future.

Jay Wright Forrester (1918-2016) may have been the source of inspiration for Hari Seldon, a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. In Asimov's novels, Seldon develops "pyschohistoric equations" that allow him to predict the impending collapse of the Galactic Empire. In the real world, Forrester developed "system dynamics equations" that allowed him to predict the impending collapse of the modern human civilization. The predictions were ignored by the Imperial powers of both the fictional and the real universe.

Jay Forrester, one of the great minds of the 20th century, died at 98, a few days ago. His career was long and fruitful, and we can say that his work changed the intellectual story of humankind in various ways, in particular for the role he had in the birth of the Club of Rome's report "The Limits to Growth".

In 1969, Forrester was a faculty member of the MIT when he met Aurelio Peccei in Italy. At that time, Peccei had already founded the Club of Rome, whose members were worried about the limits to the natural resources that the Earth could provide. They were trying to understand what the consequences would have been for humankind. From what Peccei wrote, it seems clear that he was seeing the situation mostly in Malthusian terms; thinking that the human population would have been growing until reaching the resource limits, and then stay there, kept in check by famines and epidemics. The main concern of Peccei and of the Club of Rome was to avoid human suffering by ensuring a fair distribution of what was available.

The encounter with Forrester changed this vision in ways that, perhaps, neither Peccei nor any of the Club members would have imagined. In the 1960s, Forrester's models were already well advanced. Based on a completely new method of calculation that Forrester had dubbed "system dynamics," the models were able to take into account how the many variables of a complex system interacted with each other and changed in time.

The result was the study that the Club of Rome commissioned to Forrester and to his research group: simulate the future of humankind over a time range of more than a century, all the way to 2100. Forrester himself prepared a complete study with the title "World Dynamics" that was published in 1971. A group of Forrester's students and coworkers prepared a more extensive study titled "The Limits to Growth" that became a true intellectual revolution in 1972.

Swiss try to give away nuclear plants, but find no takers  

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RNE reports that you can't even give away a nuclear power plant in Switzerland these days - Swiss try to give away nuclear plants, but find no takers.

On the weekend, Swiss media reported (in German and in French) that Swiss reactor operator Alpiq could find no buyer for its two nuclear plants and is therefore hoping to give them to the Swiss state. The firm’s CEO is quoted saying that France’s EDF was not interested even at no cost because it “has its own problems pertaining to nuclear power at present.”

France will stop using coal by 2023  

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Electrek has a post on French plans to move towards a clean energy economy - France is serious about carbon: will stop using coal by 2023, might carbon tax US goods if US pulls out of climate agreements.

France will shut down all of their coal power plants by 2023, French President Francois Hollande has announced. The announcement took place at COP22, the UN’s annual climate change conference happening now in Marrakech.

France has been a leader in non-polluting electricity sources for a long time, with 95% low-carbon sources ... but they still use some fossil fuels for electricity, getting 3% of their power from coal through the month of November so far. Given that their share of coal for electricity generation has been dropping since the 60s and is now a fairly small amount, it seems likely that France will easily meet their goal of eliminating the power source by 2023. France is also a world leader in electric cars, with 1.2% market share nationwide as of 2015, which is higher than all other countries except Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.

A bleak-looking sea ice graph has Twitter in a frenzy  

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The Verge has a look at this week's Twitter (and Facebook) storm about sea ice extent - A bleak-looking sea ice graph has Twitter in a frenzy. It is at record lows in the arctic, but not quite as catastrophically low as the graph circulating suggested (yet).

So why is this causing such a hubbub on Twitter? What's so alarming about this representation?

It's global sea ice area — meaning both the Arctic and Antarctic. We typically associate recent low sea ice cover (from climate change and natural variability) in the Arctic, but not the Antarctic. In this case, both the Arctic and Antarctic are at record lows for the date.

2016 Hottest Year Ever  

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Climate Central reports that a warm October has made 2016 the hottest year ever - Second-Warmest October Cements Hottest Year.

October was the second hottest on record for the planet, NASA data released Tuesday shows. The month was the latest in a string of record- and near record-warm months that will see 2016 easily take the title of hottest year in the books.

CETO wave power in Cornwall  

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Inhabitat reports that Perth based wave energy company is deploying a pilot plant at the UK "wave hub" in Cornwall - The UK’s first wave energy plant will produce enough energy for 6,000 homes.

Australia-based company Carnegie Wave Energy (CWE) will bring their wave power and desalination technology to Wave Hub in Cornwall, England. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) granted 9.6 million pounds (around $11.8 million) to CWE for the first phase of their Wave Hub project. Ultimately CWE aims to install enough of their wave power converter devices to generate 15 megawatts (MW) of clean energy at Wave Hub.

Tesla made more money last quarter than the entire US oil industry made last year  

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Electrek has a post comparing the job creation potential of Tesla to that of shrinking oil and gas companies - Tesla made more money last quarter than the entire US oil industry made last year.

While there are nuances to the claim made in this headline, it is technically true since Tesla announced that it turned a profit of $22 million last quarter while the US oil industry managed to lose $67 billion last year due to its inability to stomach lower gas prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

I think it’s something to consider in this new political climate following the election of Donald Trump.

Notwithstanding any potential ulterior motives to favor fossil fuels or the fact that Trump doesn’t believe in man-made climate change, it’s important for the upcoming new Trump administration and GOP-controlled Washington to start looking at Tesla and other upcoming cleantech ventures as important middle-class American job creators and sustainable businesses. ...

When the US oil industry lost $67 billion in 2015, it also slashed close to 100,000 jobs during the same period. All the while, more Americans now work in the solar industry than the extraction of oil, gas, or coal. ...

On the other hand, Tesla has been adding jobs with now over 18,000 employees worldwide and the majority are in the US. At the Fremont factory alone, Tesla employs over 6,000 people and it plans to bring that number up to 9,000 to support its latest expansion plans. The electric automaker is also investing in the Gigafactory in Nevada, where it plans to employ over 6,000 workers.

Britain to officially shutter all coal power plants by 2025  

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Inhabitat has an article on the UK's efforts to abandon coal entirely - Britain to officially shutter all coal power plants by 2025.

Last year the British government promised to replace coal with natural gas and alternative energy within a decade. But according to The Guardian, the country’s last coal power plant could close down by 2022 – and without government intervention.

Trump & Woolsey: Was There a Bait-and-Switch?  

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Counterpunch has a look at the unlikely presence of ex CIA director (and prominent Iraq war era neco, "geo green" and peak oil proponent) James Woolsey in Team Trump - Trump & Woolsey: Was There a Bait-and-Switch?.

The article has an interesting section on the motley collection of characters, including Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch, that are behind a company called genie Energy looking to exploit oil fomrations in Syria's Golan Heights region.

For voters hoping to ease global tensions and diminish the threat of World War III, Donald Trump seemed to be saying some sensible things on the campaign trail. He questioned the role of NATO, and the use of “regime change” by the U.S. against other nations. He asked why the U.S. and Russia couldn’t be partners rather than belligerents. He even questioned why the U.S. must always play the role of the world’s policeman and suggested that the U.S. should turn its attention to solving its own domestic problems. Such campaign rhetoric was unusual and likely struck a chord with some war-weary listeners.

But in early September 2016, in a move that should have received far more attention than it did, Trump appointed former CIA director James Woolsey as his senior advisor on national security issues. Woolsey – a key member of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) – had been a strong advocate for invading Iraq in 2003 and for waging war throughout the Middle East.

Big Trouble At ExxonMobil ?  

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Zero Hedge has an article by SRSrocco on Exxon's inability to increase oil production as production costs rise - END OF THE U.S. MAJOR OIL INDUSTRY ERA: Big Trouble At ExxonMobil.

in 1997, Exxon spent $11.8 billion on capital expenditures while producing 2.5 million barrels per day (mbd) of oil. However, their capital expenditures nearly tripled to $34 billion in 2012 as total liquid production fell to 2.2 mbd. Basically, Exxon spent three times more money in 2012 to produce 300,000 barrels per day less than it did in 1997. ...

It seems as if Exxon realized early on that peak oil had finally arrived (privately, of course), so it decided to not waste too much money on future oil projects. Instead, the company spent a massive amount of money on stock repurchases over the past two decades... especially since 2005.

Toyota jumping into electric vehicle mass production by 2020  

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Autoblog has a post on Toyota's plans to finally enter the electric vehicle market - Toyota jumping into electric vehicle mass production by 2020.

According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review, Toyota plans to jump into battery electric vehicle (BEV) mass production by 2020. This could be an abrupt shift from the company's focus on fuel-cell electric vehicles, as BEVs have been absent from any of Toyota's announced or rumored future vehicles. The plan would coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, of which Toyota is a major sponsor.

Tesla plans to choose location for ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Europe next year  

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Elektrek reports that Tesla are planning to set up Gigafactory 2 in Europe - Tesla plans to choose location for ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Europe next year, will produce both batteries and cars.

Tesla also announced that they will be creating Tesla Advanced Automation Germany after buying German engineering company Grohmann Engineering, a leader in highly automated methods of manufacturing.

Musk confirmed that Tesla plans to choose a location for ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Europe next year and he added that the factory will combine both the production of batteries and complete cars. It’s an interesting development considering the Gigafactory concept was originally only supposed to manufacture battery cells and packs, but we recently learned that Tesla is planning drive system production lines at the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. Now it looks like Tesla will take it a step further and vertically integrate the entire production process in one plant – for the ‘Gigafactory 2’ at least.

Simpson 2020  

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Well - it appears the end times have arrived.

Looks like the average worker (and ex-worker) in the US has finally realised that globalisation means a global levelling of wages over time and decided to stage a revolt.

With the orange faced conman now in charge I doubt their hopes will be fulfilled (not the more positive ones anyway) but it appears we are in for a chaotic 4 years until Lisa Simpson takes on the US presidency.

I wonder if the DNC are having second thoughts about sabotaging Bernie Sanders now given that he would likely have beaten Trump in the rust belt states Hillary couldn't win.

Shell CFO: Peak Oil Demand Could Be Reached In 2021  

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OilPrice.com has a post on some recent comments by Shell's CFO - Shell: Peak Oil Demand Could Be Reached In 2021.

A senior executive for Royal Dutch Shell claimed demand could reach its peak as early as 2021, which is much sooner than anticipated by other analysts. “We’ve long been of the opinion that demand will peak before supply,” said Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry, in a Tuesday conference call. “And that peak may be somewhere between 5 and 15 years hence, and it will be driven by efficiency and substitution, more than offsetting the new demand for transport,” Henry added.

Be Like Elon  

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Danny MacAskill's Wee Day Out  

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Hottest Month Streak Ends At 16  

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Climate Central reports that September failed to be the hottest September on record by 0.04 degrees - Hottest Months on Record Have Something in Common.

It shows that the month was a scant 0.07°F (0.04°C) below September 2015’s record, making it the second-warmest September on record. That ends a streak of 16 consecutive record-setting hot months in NOAA’s dataset, a record-setting streak itself. The run of planetary heat has rewritten the record books.

Global Coal Consumption vs Asian Coal Consumption  

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World’s largest thermal solar plant could be coming to Nevada  

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Inhabitat has a post on Solarreserve's recent proposal to build a 2GW solar thermal power plant in the Nevada desert - World’s largest thermal solar plant could be coming to Nevada.

The company recently announced it’s hoping to build a 2,000 megawatt facility in Nevada called Sandstone. With a planned 10 towers and more than 100,000 concentrating mirrors, the plant would be the largest of its type anywhere in the world. It would overshadow SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes plant, currently the largest in the US with 110 megawatts of capacity.

Small scale solar power: Africa unplugged  

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The Economist has a look at the rapid spread of small scale solar power systems in Africa, driven by cheap solar panels and low-power led lighting - Africa unplugged.

Off-grid solar is spreading at an electrifying pace. An industry that barely existed a few years ago is now thought to be providing power to perhaps 600,000 households in Africa. The pace of growth is accelerating in a continent that, more than any other, is rich in sunshine (see map). Industry executives reckon that over the next year the number of home-power systems on African roofs will grow by 60-100%. M-Kopa, the market leader, has installed 400,000 systems and, at its current rate of growth, may add another 200,000 to that number over the next year. Smaller rivals such as Off Grid Electric, Bboxx and Azuri Technologies may well double their client base over the same period.

IEA still low-balling solar growth, says Energy Watch Group  

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The recent IEA medium term renewable energy report has come in for some criticism from the Energy Watch Group - - IEA still low-balling solar growth, says Energy Watch Group.

All the major energy forecasts seem to underestimate renewable energy growth. Whether or not this is do do bias in favour of legacy energy sources or simply because they don't recognise the rate at which technology is improving and prices are dropping isn't clear - it would be interesting to have a look at the trends in the under-estimations over time...

The report found that last year saw 153 GW of new renewable capacity installed, while the headline figure picked up by many leading media outlets was that 500,000 solar panels were fitted every single day in 2015. However, the Energy Watch Group (EWG) – a long-term critic of the IEA’s calculations – has reported that the IEA has once again heavily underestimated the growth of wind and solar PV.

Despite a 13% increase in the IEA’s mid-term projections, the EWG’s analysis argues that these new calculations still suggest that wind and solar installations will peak in 2015 and 2016 respectively, with the five years between now and 2021 likely to see a slowing of the growth seen these past two years.

EWG chairman Christian Breyer calls these projections misleading, and remarked that the IEA is “playing a dangerous game” in relying on assumptions that err on the side of conservatism. Rather, the EWG analysis shows, solar growth between now and 2021 is likely to far exceed the projections laid out in the IEA report. As an example, India’s plan to install 90 GW of additional PV capacity to 2022 is off-handedly dismissed, with the IEA forecasting total PV growth in the whole of Asia Pacific will amount to 85 GW by 2021. “We would like to know why the IEA assumes that this policy target in India will not be achieved,” mused Breyer. “We have found no valid arguments in the report.”

There are accusations, too, of erroneous cost assumptions in the report, with EWG claiming that the IEA has overestimated the price of solar PV in major markets for 2016 by at least 20%. For example, PV power plants in India are currently averaging a cost of around $750/kWp, argues the EWG, whereas the IEA report says that “PV prices in leading markets should not be lower than $1,150 – $1,300/kWp”. The reality is that costs are already around 35% lower than that in China and Germany, the EWG analysis argues.

Before The Flood  

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National Geographic and Leonardo Di Caprio have launched a pre-election movie about global warming - Before The Flood. Nat Geo also has a video looking Inside the Gigafactory.


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