UBS: Electric vehicles to reach cost parity with petrol cars by 2018  

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Investment bank UBS is forecasting that electric car costs will hit parity with petrol cars next year - UBS: Electric vehicles to reach cost parity with petrol cars by 2018.

Analysts for UBS have torn apart a perfectly good Chevy Bolt to see how it is put together. What they found led them to make this rather startling announcement: the “total cost of consumer ownership [of electric cars] can reach parity with combustion engines from 2018.” Notice that doesn’t mean an electric car and a conventional car will cost the same to buy new. It means they will cost the same to own, figuring in maintenance, cost of fuel, insurance, and all the other factors that are part of the total cost of ownership.

The UBS study goes on to say, “This will create an inflection point for demand. We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by 50% to 14.2 million — 14% of global car sales.”

IEA Predictions Of Solar Power Capacity Growth  

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Stunningly wrong, year after year...

Rude Maps  

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Apparently Beavis and Butthead became cartographers when they eventually finished school - Rude Map Of The World.

World’s largest floating solar PV plant connected to grid in China  

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PV magazine reports on a new floating solar PV plant in China - World’s largest floating solar PV plant connected to grid in China.

Chinese PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow announced that a 40MW aquaculture project, the world’s largest floating PV power plant, had been grid connected with its SG2500-MV central inverters in the flooded coal-mining region of Huainan, China.

The power plant is located on a lake that formed in this coal-rich area as a result of gradual subsidence and floods caused by heavy rains. Its water depth today ranges from to 4 to 10 meters.

Japan and China successfully extract methane hydrates from seafloor  

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Methane Hydrates are one of those apparently mythical energy sources that never quite get to commercial production. The Independent reports that China and Japan may be making progress on extracting the burning ice from the oceans (at who knows what cost to the climate) - Japan and China successfully extract ‘combustible ice’ from seafloor.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the fuel was successfully mined by a drilling rig operating in the South China Sea on Thursday. Chinese Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming declared the event a breakthrough moment heralding a potential “global energy revolution.” A drilling crew in Japan reported a similar successful operation two weeks earlier, on 4 May offshore the Shima Peninsula.

For Japan, methane hydrate offers the chance to reduce its heavy reliance of imported fuels if it can tap into reserves off its coastline. In China, it could serve as a cleaner substitute for coal-burning power plants and steel factories that have polluted much of the country with lung-damaging smog.

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts  

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The Guardian reports that the doomsday seedbank at Svalbard has been flooded after the permafrost it is built on melted - Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts. I wonder how far above sea level it is ?

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

“A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in,” she told the Guardian. Fortunately, the meltwater did not reach the vault itself, the ice has been hacked out, and the precious seeds remain safe for now at the required storage temperature of -18C.

Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever  

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Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone has an obituary for the monster that invented Fox News - Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we're that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans' worst fantasies about each other.

The onetime Nixon operative has created the most profitable propaganda machine in history. Inside America's Unfair and Imbalanced Network Like many con artists, he reflexively targeted the elderly – "I created a TV network for people from 55 to dead," he told Joan Walsh – where he saw billions could be made mining terrifying storylines about the collapse of the simpler America such viewers remembered, correctly or (more often) incorrectly, from their childhoods.

The FT on The Big Green Bang  

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The FT has an in-depth look at the transition to renewable energy - The Big Green Bang: how renewable energy became unstoppable. The article contains some choice quotes along with a raft of statistics:

Irish executive Eddie O’Connor: “Fossil fuels have lost. The rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet.”

Investor Jeremy Grantham: "I think [the energy transition] is happening much faster than most well-educated business people in America understand. Because the science is being deliberately obfuscated in the US, the consequences are being obscured as well.”

7,000 massive methane gas bubbles under the Russian permafrost could explode anytime  

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Thin Progress has a report on Siberia's melting permafrost - 7,000 massive methane gas bubbles under the Russian permafrost could explode anytime.

Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground methane bubbles in Siberia that could explode anytime. ‘Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost,” explained a Russian Academy of Science spokesperson, “which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades.”

This discovery is especially worrisome for three reasons. First, methane traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. Thawing permafrost creates both CO2 and methane (CH4), but most models of thawing permafrost assume only CO2 is created. If, as it appears, a lot of methane is being generated, then we’ll see even more extra warming than scientists have projected. Second, a recent study found global warming will defrost much more permafrost than we thought. Third, the permafrost has already been warming at an alarming rate. In general, the Arctic warms twice as fast as the planet as a whole.

Rethinking Transportation: The end of petrol and diesel cars? "All vehicles will be electric by 2025"  

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Ambrose Evans Pritchard has an article on Stanford professor Tony Seba's optimistic predictions that the end is nigh for fossil fuelled vehicles in his report "Rethinking Transportation" - The end of petrol and diesel cars? All vehicles will be electric by 2025, says expert.

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.

This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

Prof Seba’s premise is that people will stop driving altogether. They will switch en masse to self-drive electric vehicles (EVs) that are ten times cheaper to run than fossil-based cars, with a near-zero marginal cost of fuel and an expected lifespan of 1m miles.

Elon Musk Has Finally Confirmed What the Boring Tunnels He’s Making Are For  

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Futurism has an update on Elon Musk's boring project - Elon Musk Has Finally Confirmed What the Boring Tunnels He’s Making Are For.

We now have an idea of just what Elon Musk's Boring Company is going to be for. Yes, it's to solve traffic, but it looks like it isn't meant just to be your usual tunnel for cars. In a new update today, the company asserts that it's actually building a tunnel that can also run the Hyperloop.

REthinking Energy 2017: Accelerating the global energy transformation  

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IRENA has released their annual report on the transition to renewable energy - REthinking Energy 2017: Accelerating the global energy transformation (PDF report).

Renewable energy is a fundamental and growing part of the global energy transformation. Increasingly, renewables have become the first choice for expanding, upgrading and modernising power systems around the world.

REthinking Energy, the flagship report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), examines trends and developments in the global quest for a sustainable energy future. As this third edition emphasises, accelerated deployment will fuel economic growth, create new employment opportunities, enhance human welfare and contribute to a climate-safe future.

Elon Musk's Future - Boring, Electric Semis, Solar Roofs and More Gigafactories  

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Elon Musk recently had a TED talk with Chris Anderson covering a wide range of topics, including the Tesla Semi and expanding the Gigafactory fleet - What will the future look like? Elon Musk speaks at TED2017.

Showing a concept photo of a house with a Tesla in the driveway, Powerwalls on the side of the house and a solar glass roof, Musk talks about his vision for the home of the future. Most houses in the US, he says, have enough roof area for solar panels to power all the needs of the house. “Eventually almost all houses will have a solar roof,” he says. “Fast forward 15 years from now, it’ll be unusual to have a roof that doesn’t have solar.”

And to store all that electricity needed to power our homes and cars, Musk has made a huge bet on lithium-ion batteries. Moving on to a discussion of the Gigafactory, a massive diamond-shaped lithium-ion battery factory near Sparks, Nevada, Musk talks about how power will be stored in the future.

“When it’s running full speed, you can’t see the cells without a strobe light,” Musk says as a video of the factory pumping out Li-ion batteries plays behind him. Musk thinks we’ll need about 100 such factories to power the world in a future where we don’t feel guilty about using and producing energy, and Tesla plans to announce locations for another four Gigafactories late this year. “We need to address a global market,” Musk says, hinting that the new factories will be spread out across the world. ...

Sustainable energy will happen no matter what, out of necessity, Musk says. “If you don’t have sustainable energy, you have unsustainable energy … The fundamental value of a company like Tesla is the degree to which it accelerates the advent of sustainable energy faster than it would otherwise occur,” he says.

But becoming a multi-planet species isn’t inevitable. “If you look at the progress in space, in 1969 we were able to send somebody to the moon. Then we had the space shuttle, which could only take people to low-Earth orbit. Now we take no one to orbit. That’s the trend — it’s down to nothing. We’re mistaken when we think technology automatically improves. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better.”

Tesla have also released their "solar roof" product, with Bloomberg declaring it "better than anyone expected". RNE has a summary - Tesla’s solar roof sets Musk’s grand unification into motion.

Production of the tiles will begin at Tesla’s Fremont solar plant in California and then shift this summer to its new factory in Buffalo, New York, with additional investments from Tesla’s partner, Panasonic. Musk said initial sales will be limited by manufacturing capacity. As production ramps up into 2018, sales will begin in the UK, Australia, and other locations, along with the introduction of sculpted terracotta and slate versions of the solar roof.

The tempered glass in Tesla’s tiles is designed to conform to the toughest durability standards for both roofs and solar products, according to Tesla. The roof itself is guaranteed to outlast your home, while the power production of the solar cells is covered under a 30 year warranty, according to the company’s website. Glass, as Musk likes to point out, has a “quasi-infinite” lifetime, though the underlying solar cell will degrade over time.

Tesla’s basic premise is to make solar ownership more attractive and affordable by eliminating the need to install both a roof and solar panels. Tesla will manage the entire process of solar roof installation, including removal of existing roofs, design, permits, installation, and maintenance. The company estimates that each installation will take about a week.

Norway Looking To Electric Ships To Replace Trucks  

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Gas 2.0 has an article on an electric shipping experiments in Norway (the first vessel is due to launch in 2018)- Norway Is Looking To Autonomous Electric Ships To Replace Trucks.

Trucks are essential to commerce. Virtually every item purchased in stores is transported by truck at some point. Trucks add to urban congestion and clog highways. Worst of all, the vast majority of them are powered by diesel engines that pump millions of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere every year. Norway is experimenting with a new way to get some of those trucks off the road and reduce diesel emissions — autonomous electric ships.

Solar to attract more investment than coal, gas and nuclear combined this year  

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PV Magazine has an article on the now unstoppable transition to solar power - Solar to attract more investment than coal, gas and nuclear combined this year, says Frost & Sullivan.

Analysts expect global renewable power investment to reach $243bn this year, with solar PV the fastest-growing segment and non-hydro renewables to account for 65% of all global power investment by 2020.

How Western Civilisation Could Collapse  

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Collapsist stories in the media are pretty rare these days (even the tide of stories about authoritarian dystopias has receded since its peak after Donald Trump's election) - however the BBC has kept the meme going with this uplifting tale -

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return? ...

According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in.

So far, modern Western societies have largely been able to postpone similar precipitators of collapse through fossil fuels and industrial technologies – think hydraulic fracturing coming along in 2008, just in time to offset soaring oil prices. Tainter suspects this will not always be the case, however. “Imagine the costs if we have to build a seawall around Manhattan, just to protect against storms and rising tides,” he says. Eventually, investment in complexity as a problem-solving strategy reaches a point of diminishing returns, leading to fiscal weakness and vulnerability to collapse. That is, he says “unless we find a way to pay for the complexity, as our ancestors did when they increasingly ran societies on fossil fuels.”

Paul Hawken's "Drawdown" project  

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Dave Roberts at Vox has an interview with Paul Hawken about his book on the "Drawdown" project to assess the effectiveness of carbon emission reduction options - A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising..

Hawken is a legend in environmental circles. Since the early 1980s, he has been starting green businesses, writing books on ecological commerce (President Bill Clinton called Hawken’s Natural Capitalism one of the five most important books in the world), consulting with businesses and governments, speaking to civic groups, and collecting honorary doctorates (six so far).

A few years ago, he set out to pull together the careful coverage of solutions that had so long been lacking. With the help of a little funding, he and a team of several dozen research fellows set out to “map, measure, and model” the 100 most substantive solutions to climate change, using only peer-reviewed research.

The result, released last month, is called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

Unlike most popular books on climate change, it is not a polemic or a collection of anecdotes and exhortations. In fact, with the exception of a few thoughtful essays scattered throughout, it’s basically a reference book: a list of solutions, ranked by potential carbon impact, each with cost estimates and a short description. A set of scenarios show the cumulative potential.

It is fascinating, a powerful reminder of how narrow a set of solutions dominates the public’s attention. Alternatives range from farmland irrigation to heat pumps to ride-sharing.

The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning, which together could reduce 120 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 — more than on- and offshore wind power combined (99 GT).

Also sitting atop the list, with an impact that dwarfs any single energy source: refrigerant management. (Don’t hear much about that, do you? Here’s a great Brad Plumer piece on it.)

Both reduced food waste and plant-rich diets, on their own, beat solar farms and rooftop solar combined.

(Important note: The above comparisons are true in Drawdown’s central, “probable” scenario. There are also more ambitious scenarios, in which each solution is pushed to its full potential. In the “optimum” scenario, onshore wind rises to crush all competitors, reducing 139 GT. All scenarios use only existing, commercialized technologies, so they should be considered conservative. All the solutions, data, and references are available at

Word of the day - Spherecuck  

Posted by Big Gav

I have this feeling the entire alt-right is just satire these days. Spherecuck.


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