Milestone: – Companies abandoning Alberta oilsands exploration leases

❝ In another sign the bloom is off the boom for the oilsands, the industry has returned almost one million hectares of northern Alberta exploration leases to the province over the past two years — abandoning an area far bigger than P.E.I.

The total area covered by oilsands leases remained constant at about nine million hectares between 2011 and 2014. But it fell to 8.5 million hectares in 2015 and 8.1 million in 2016, following the crash in world oil prices from over US$100 to under $60 per barrel in 2014.

Most of the returned acreage either represents expired or surrendered leases, according to Alberta Energy, which provided the statistics at the request of The Canadian Press.

❝ Observers were surprised by the size of the lease returns which they attributed to industry cost-cutting and disinterest in spending to develop new prospects when there’s no money to build projects already on the books.

“It costs money to maintain these lands,” said Brad Hayes, president of Petrel Robertson Consulting in Calgary. “You can’t convince shareholders to continue to put that money out if there’s no prospect for success.”

Maybe he should follow the ExxonMobil model and go to work for the Canadian government as Foreign Minister.

The Electric Vehicle Takeover


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❝ Do you want the big thing or the new thing?…More importantly: Do you want to invest in the big thing or the new thing?

It’s a question that haunts any industry vulnerable to disruption, which is pretty much all of them these days.

❝ Take the automotive business. Bloomberg New Energy Finance just released its latest long-term outlook for electric vehicles. It posits, startlingly, that sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will overtake those using internal combustion engines within roughly two decades…

The late 2030s may sound like a long way away. But they aren’t when put in the context of an automotive industry that’s only been around for a century or so.

❝ Looked at differently, BNEF’s projection suggests electric vehicles account for all the growth in global vehicle sales within a decade from now…

Based on BNEF’s projections, global sales of vehicles will rise by 1.67 million in the year 2026. But sales of electric vehicles are forecast to rise by 2.06 million, while the number of vehicles using internal combustion engines will fall slightly, by around 400,000. To be clear, absolute sales of electric vehicles in that year are expected to be just over 10 million, versus almost 87 million for their traditional counterparts…

❝ And while it is tough for incumbents to pivot to a new business, it is not impossible…it was critical for Facebook that, even as it was launching its IPO in 2012, it was also overhauling its business to focus on smartphones rather than its desktop PC product — despite the latter accounting for 89 percent of the company’s advertising revenue that year…

Facebook’s desktop product dominated its advertising revenue in 2012 — but all the growth potential was in smartphones.

More examples dot the financial map. VW planning on investing $10 billion into electric vehicle manufacture – mostly in the United States for global distribution. The Brits announced, today, legislation to end registration of diesel or gasoline-powered motor vehicles in the UK by 2040.

Those drops of water appearing under your front door look like the beginning of a flood to me.

Obama’s energy efficiency policy saves taxpayers over $500 billion – of course Trump’s pimps oppose it!


Just another Trump pimp who can’t figure out how to sign his name

❝ A leaked draft study of the electric grid requested by Energy Secretary Rick Perry found that federal energy efficiency policies are in the process of saving U.S. consumers and businesses more than a half trillion dollars.

So…the new administration is halting energy efficiency policies and gutting funding for energy efficiency improvements for American homes. Perry’s department is currently being sued by 11 states for stalling efficiency mandates for air conditioners and other high-energy products.

❝ Back in April, Perry ordered a study from Department of Energy (DOE) staff to back up his claims that solar and wind power were undermining the U.S. electric grid’s reliability. But a July draft obtained by Bloomberg debunked that attack. Instead, the authors found that “the power system is more reliable today” than ever.

❝ …ThinkProgress reported the study concluded a large fraction of America’s aging fleet of coal and nuclear plants are simply not economic to operate anymore.

The study has a long discussion of why coal and nuclear aren’t going to become economic anytime soon. For instance, it’s increasingly clear that, for the foreseeable future, natural gas prices will stay low — and that renewable sources of power like solar and wind will continue the stunning price drops they’ve seen in the past two decades, which have upended the global power market…

❝ No good policy goes unpunished in the Trump administration, however, so California and New York are leading a coalition of states in a lawsuit to force DOE to publish five efficiency standards that were finalized under the Obama administration but were undergoing a 45-day review period (typically used for catching typographical errors and other minor problems…) when Trump took office. Six months later, the new administration still hasn’t sent the rules to the Federal Registrar to be published.

Three Bronx cheers for Trump efficiency in government. Not only is he – and his True Believers – incompetent at introducing and passing legislation which might benefit average Americans, they refuse to carry through simple publication of improvements like this which would save consumers a half-trillion dollar$.

Fukushima: robot finds massive deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel


Click to enlargeInt’l Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning/Kyodo News

❝ Images captured by an underwater robot on Saturday showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1m on the bottom inside a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

❝ On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day investigation of Unit 3 ended on Saturday.

Locating and analysing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels…

When you screw-up a nuclear-fueled power plant the sort of damage you produce is generational in scope.

Chinese province runs seven days on renewable energy alone


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❝ Northwest China’s Qinghai Province has just run for seven straight days entirely on renewable energy.

From June 17 to midnight of June 23, Qinghai used only wind, solar and hydro power stations.

Quan Shengming, general manager of the provincial grid company, said during the period, electricity use was 1.1 billion kilowatt hours, equivalent to 535,000 tons of coal.

❝ Hydro power plants supplied 72.3 percent of the electricity, with new energy like wind and solar supplying the remainder for the province, which is home to 5.8 million people, said Han Ti, vice general manager.

Laxiwa hydro-power station in Guide county, is the largest on the upper stream of the Yellow River. On average, it generates 10.2 billion kilowatt hours a year…

❝ Home to the source of China’s major rivers, Qinghai has strong hydro-power and solar supplies.

Clean energy is the ultimate way. We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel, improve our energy structure, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Han.

It’s happening all around the world. In the United States, the changeover will continue upon the efforts of states and localities – now that we have a federal government run by 18th Century ideologues.

California has beaucoup solar power — so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it

❝ On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power.

Well, actually better than free. California produced so much solar power on those days that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren’t using to avoid overloading its own power lines…

The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn’t ordered some solar plants to reduce production — even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity…

❝ Why doesn’t California, a champion of renewable energy, use all the solar power it can generate?…

❝ The answer, in part, is that the state has achieved dramatic success in increasing renewable energy production in recent years. But it also reflects sharp conflicts among major energy players in the state over the best way to weave these new electricity sources into a system still dominated by fossil-fuel-generated power

That’s the polite way to put it.

❝ …The California Legislature has mandated that one-half of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030; today it’s about one-fourth. That goal once was considered wildly optimistic. But solar panels have become much more efficient and less expensive. So solar power is now often the same price or cheaper than most other types of electricity, and production has soared so much that the target now looks laughably easy to achieve.

At the same time, however, state regulators — who act independently of the Legislature — until recently have continued to greenlight utility company proposals to build more natural gas power plants.

Generally, when folks are sleeping in a strange bed it involves sex or money or both. RTFA and decide how much of each is involved.

“Clean Coal” Plant Billion$ Over Budget Should Just Give Up And Burn Natural Gas


Click to enlargeWilliam Widmer/Politico

Round and round the money goes and where it comes out nobody knows

❝ A coal gasification plant in development in Mississippi is more than $4 billion over budget and years past deadline — and now it may have to rethink plans to burn gasified coal in favor of cheaper natural gas after a recommendation from state regulators.

The recommendation was made to prevent potential rate increases as the Kemper County plant continues to face cost overruns. Kemper was supposed to be up and running by 2014, for less than $3 billion. But the plant has now run up a $7.5 billion tab and may need redesigns on a critical part, a process that could take up to two years to complete, according to E&E News. No official decision has been made yet, but the Mississippi Public Service Commission made it clear last week that burning cheaper natural gas instead of gasified coal may be a long-term solution for the facility…

❝ According to a carbon capture and storage project database maintained by MIT, plans for Kemper started in 2004 but “costs began increasing almost immediately, especially once construction began in 2010 and the company discovered that many of the original designs needed major changes.” Specifically, pipe thickness and metallurgy appeared to have been miscalculated, and, after those changes were made, the support structures for the pipes had to be changed…

Fossil fuel pimps rant and rave against subsidizing any projects for alternative energy. At the same time, it’s business as usual for coal-based plants getting billion$ in subsidies and forgivable loans to keep on cranking out projects that don’t do a damned thing other than suck up taxpayer money and spew out pollution.

Global Energy Demand Stumbles Again — Coal Is Dead


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❝ Global energy demand continued its sluggish rise last year as growth in Chinese consumption fell to its lowest in nearly two decades, while renewables flourished, BP said in a report…

Slower demand growth helped stall the acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions for a third year to levels not seen since the 1980s, but emissions remained well above targets set out globally under the 2015 Paris accord on climate change.

❝ Coal’s share in the energy mix declined to its lowest since 2004 at around 28 percent, while production of the highly polluting fossil fuel saw its largest ever annual drop at 6.2 percent…

❝ China’s energy demand growth in 2015 and 2016, 1.2 and 1.3 percent respectively, although still the strongest in the world, marked its lowest over a two-year period since 1997-98…

❝ Cheaper and abundant gas supplies in the United States and China’s drive to switch to cleaner feedstock for its power plants led to a 1.7 percent drop in demand for coal, the most pollutant fossil fuel.

“It feels to me like we are seeing a decisive break in coal relative to the past,” BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale said…

❝ Renewables such as solar and wind power were the fastest-growing source of energy, rising by 12 percent and accounting for a third of the overall growth in demand…China, meanwhile, overtook the United States for the first time as the largest producer of renewable power.

The slowing growth in energy demand, the shift to cleaner fuels and energy efficiency meant carbon emissions grew by 0.1 percent last year, similar to the prior two years, making it the lowest three-year average for emissions growth since 1981-83.

Dullards like Trump, his peers, his followers, are fighting a vain and wasteful retreat – while blathering all the while about returning 19th Century glory to rustbelt industry. The only exportable segment of our traditional industrial base – capital goods – was sold off by conglomerate profiteers decades ago. The mostly foreign-based companies who bought up the companies whose machines make other machines – are rolling in profits while the backwards-looking crowd whines. Perish the thought they should notice it was the American one-percenters who sold them out.

Here’s a link to the whole report.

China Switches On World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm — On A Lake Over A Closed Coal Mine


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❝ Last week, workers switched on a solar energy plant capable of producing 40 megawatts of power, which floats on a manmade lake in China’s Anhui province near the city of Huainan…The array is the largest floating solar project in the world, though at the brisk pace China is building new renewable projects it’s unlikely to hold that title very long.

❝ Built by the company Sungrow Power Supply, the power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes…While the company has not revealed the exact size of the operation, it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which is located in the same area and was launched by the company Xinyi Solar in 2016.

❝ Anhui province is a coal-rich region, and the Sungrow plant is located on a lake that was once the site of intensive mining. Heavy rains filled the area with water…

So why build solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs?…Building on bodies of water, especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently…

❝ While the floating solar plant is the largest in the world, it pales in comparison to some of China’s non-floating solar projects. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park on the Tibetan plateau hosts 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. Even that will soon be eclipsed by a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will have 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

If Trump’s chumps continue to keep the Republican Party in power, say, until 2024 — we may yet see coal become the cheapest source of mediocre construction stone in the United States. Keeping fewer people employed than Arby’s just to maintain welfare checks flowing into certain corporate bank accounts is an important part of the 18th Century lifestyle so beloved of today’s conservative politicians.

Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline-Burners by 2025


I could be tempted

❝ Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers, new research shows.

Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles.

❝ Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said…

❝ Renault, maker of the Zoe electric car, predicts total ownership costs of EVs will by the early 2020s equal conventional internal combustion engine vehicles…according to Gilles Normand, the French company’s senior vice president for electric vehicles.

If I could justify buying a new vehicle to replace my 24-year-old pickup truck it probably would be from whomever offers me a smallish EV pickup, say, a quarter-ton AWD.

Still, I just don’t drive enough to justify a second new or newish vehicle in our family. My wife’s 4-year-old Fiesta is still very low accumulated miles – our go to town shopping-mobile – averages 40+ mpg.