Blowout Week 146

This week’s Blowout focuses on electric vehicles. The Netherlands and Germany are presently considering legislation that will ban sales of fossil-fuel-fired cars and light vehicles after 2025 or 2030, and a draft EU directive mandates an electric charging point in every new home in Europe starting in 2019. “This kind of market stimulus is not just positive, it is mandatory if we want to see a massive rollout of electric vehicles in the near future,” said a Renault executive:

Guardian: EU wants an electric car charging point in every new home in Europe

Every new or refurbished house in Europe will need to be equipped with an electric vehicle recharging point, under a draft EU directive expected to come into effect by 2019. In a further boost to prospects for the electric car market in Europe, the regulations due to be published before the end of the year state that by 2023, 10% of parking spaces in new buildings in the EU zone will also need recharging facilities.

The EU initiative is intended to lay the infrastructure for the sort of electric car boom envisaged by Norway and the Netherlands, which both plan to completely phase out vehicles with diesel engines by 2025. As well as extending the driving range and convenience of electric cars, the mushrooming number of recharge stations would allow vehicles to feed their electricity back into the grid. That in turn would open the door to a futuristic world in which cars supply energy to Europe’s power network at all times of the day and night, balancing shortfalls from intermittent renewable energies when the sun is not shining and the wind not blowing. “This kind of market stimulus is not just positive, it is mandatory if we want to see a massive rollout of electric vehicles in the near future,” said Guillaume Berthier, sales and marketing director for electric vehicles at Renault, which recently unveiled an electric vehicle with a 250-mile range. “The question of how you recharge your car when you live in an apartment within a city is a very important one.”

Blowout this week begins with the EU embracing electric vehicles (EVs) and directing citizens to install charging points at home; EU and California target zero emissions; in Germany and China renewables outgrow the grid; Ontario’s broken grid; subsidies boost USA wind; global clean energy investment slumps; The Sun set to produce energy 24/7; home battery storage costs plummet 50% to $10,000; America sacrifices southern forests to save the planet; UK blackout risk averted by consumers paying £122 million; Tesla benefits from South Australia blackout; UK government plans to break the laws of thermodynamics; Baroness Worthington concedes that EU 2020 contributed to Brexit; are Putin and Erdogan the only sane leaders left?; Israeli gas heading for Europe over Turkey; hydrogen rots the minds of policy makers.

Christian Science Monitor: Can German auto regulators usher in the zero-emissions age?

The country’s federal council, or Bundesrat, has resolved to ban all gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030. According to the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, “only zero-emission passenger vehicles will be approved” for use after that time. By enacting such a ban, Germany could herald a new automotive age. About 15 percent of global emissions come from fossil fuel-burning vehicles, so to eliminate those vehicles completely is to put a considerable dent in our carbon footprint. But legislators may encounter a myriad of legal, technological, and cultural challenges along the way. The Bundesrat, which includes representatives from all 16 German states, is just one half of the country’s bicameral parliament. All legislation approved through the Bundesrat must then be approved by the Bundestag, or Federal Diet, and vice-versa. But the council’s proposed ban isn’t really a legislative act, so much as it is a call to action. Germany is a member of the European Union, so any widespread vehicle ban would need to be passed by the supranational body before taking effect nationally. Here, the council is simply appealing to the EU Commission in Brussels, which does have the power to pass such a directive. That said, Germany is among the most influential members of the EU. In many cases, EU regulations are modeled after previously-enacted German regulations. So the country may be able to leverage its clout to pass a higher-level ban.

Christian Science Monitor: Can California change US cars forever? New zero-emissions rules take aim.

Confirming its role as a national trend-setter on auto emissions, California passed stringent new standards Friday intended to boost the production and sale of electric and hybrid vehicles here and nationwide. The new rules passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandate that 15 percent of new cars sold in the state by 2025 run with zero emissions or near-zero emissions. The result would be some 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen cars on California roads within 13 years. Today, there are 10,000 such vehicles in the state. In addition to the goals for zero-emission automobiles, the new CARB rules rein in emissions from conventional cars. By 2025, smog-producing pollutants must be cut by 75 percent and greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent compared with today’s levels. Critics such as auto dealers note that California has attempted to spur sales of zero-emissions vehicles before and failed. The current effort, they add, could also fail if zero-emissions vehicles remain so expensive that average car buyers cannot afford them.

Technology Review: In China and Germany, Renewables Are Outgrowing Their Grids

The Guardian reports that leaked plans from the German federal network agency, which manages the country’s power grid, describe how it is planning to cut back its ambitions for wind power in the north of the country because the grid can’t handle it. Wind turbines have been going up rapidly in the north, with the intention of supplying energy to engineering hubs in the south. But recently the government has had to pay wind power providers to reduce their generation because its energy grid is at full capacity. The leaked papers suggest that Germany will halve its wind turbine expansion plans as a result. A similar story is playing out in China. According to a BBC report, the country has built so many coal-fired power plants, which are slow to turn on and off, that it has to turn its wind turbines off for as much as 15 percent of the time because its grid can’t always handle both being online concurrently. It’s not the first time that China’s renewables eyes have proven bigger than its grid belly, either: it’s been adding solar power installations so fast that it can’t make use of as much as 50 percent of the energy being generated in some provinces. This is a problem that’s likely to rear its head again and again. India and Australia are both under increasing pressure to build out their grid infrastructure to support renewables. The most impressive example of wind power adoption in the U.S. has played out in, of all places, Texas. It’s only been made possible by a gigantic transmission system that was built to take electricity from the desolate northwest portion of the state to the big cities in the southeast. But it cost $7 billion—a price that could be prohibitive in other regions.

Financil Post: How Ontario’s pursuit of renewable energy broke the province’s electricity system

Back in 2010, deep green environmentalist Rick Smith, then head of Environmental Defence Canada, hailed Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act regime as a cost-free operation that would catapult the province into the big leagues of renewable energy. Through fat subsidies and high prices offered to wind, solar and other renewable industry players, jobs and growth would boom and Ontario would be free of its dirty coal plants. Smith was absolutely sure that Ontario’s campaign to become the North American leader in renewable energy would not be a burden on consumers. “Ontarians won’t even notice any impact on their electricity rates.” The penny that nobody would notice on their bills has morphed into hundreds of dollars a year, in some cases a month, to the point where the premier of the province can’t mention the word “hydro” without getting booed. The government also shocked observers last month when it suspended plans to buy more wind and solar power. Instead of being a worthy model for other nations and states, the province’s green energy megaproject stands as a cautionary tale. For all the costs of going green — estimated by Ontario’s auditor general to total $170 billion over 30 years—none of the alleged economic and social benefits have materialized. Claims by former premier Dalton McGuinty and current leader Kathleen Wynne that closing coal plants dramatically reduced smog and saved $4.4 billion in health care and other costs are demonstrably untrue. The promise of maybe hundreds of thousands of renewable energy jobs was also a fantasy; today, nobody can say where the jobs are, mainly because few new permanent jobs exist. Instead of boosting Ontario’s economy and the health of its citizens, the province has created an incoherent electricity industry that many say threatens the viability of key industries.

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Tax Credit Powers Wind-Farm Upgrades

Wind-power producers are rushing to take advantage of a green energy tax credit extended by Congress—and, in a new twist, many are using it to renovate existing wind farms, not just build new ones. The Production Tax Credit, which was renewed by lawmakers last December, allows qualifying wind farms to reap tax benefits based on their output for a 10-year period. The credits, which can be shared with investment partners, reduce federal tax bills. Some wind producers, encouraged by turbine makers, are deciding to “repower” existing wind farms to tap the tax credits, including NextEra Energy Inc., which has 110 wind farms in 19 states and Canada. NextEra reaped $73 million in Production Tax Credit subsidies in the first six months of the year.Armando Pimentel, chief executive of NextEra Energy Resources, the company arm that develops renewable power, recently told investors that while retrofitting “certainly wasn’t something we were thinking about six months ago,” he believes it may now make sense for nearly a third of the company’s 13,000-megawatt wind portfolio. Upgrading wind farms makes sense for wind producers because modern turbines generate far more electricity than those built two or three decades ago. That means some existing wind farms will get overhauled to generate more renewable power, while others will produce the same amount of electricity but with fewer turbines.

AWEA: American farmers are harvesting the wind

Wind power is rapidly growing in America’s heartland, supplying enough electricity for 20 million homes, and that’s helping keep farms in the family and families on the farm. Wind farm operators pay landowners to lease portions of their property for the construction of wind turbines. Because the average wind farm leaves 98 percent of land undisturbed, farmers can continue harvesting crops uninterrupted, with the added benefit of dependable revenue from wind turbine lease payments, totaling $222 million every year at the end of 2015. Wind power is creating an opportunity of unheard scale for rural America. In fact, its contributions to farmers are growing to the point that Bloomberg Businessweek recently call wind power “the new corn” for struggling farmers. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates rural landowners who lease their land to wind farms could reap as much as $900 million a year in total by 2030.

Cleantechnica: Global Clean Energy Investment Slumps In Third Quarter Of 2016

Global clean energy investment in the third quarter of 2016 slumped to its weakest quarter since 2013, according to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A Northern Hemisphere summer lull impacting offshore wind financing in Europe, and a further stage in the slowdown seen this year in project funding in China and Japan are behind the lack-luster clean energy investment figures for the third quarter, published this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Specifically, investment in renewable energy and energy smart technologies only totaled $42.4 billion globally in the third quarter of 2016, down 31% from the second quarter, and down a whopping 43% on the third quarter in 2015. This was the weakest quarter since the first quarter of 2013, which brought in only $41.8 billion. According to BNEF, weaknesses in clean energy investment in the third quarter were to be found in asset financing of utility-scale renewable energy projects, which was down 49% year-over-year to only $28.8 billion, with wind down 32% and solar down 67%. On top of that, investment in small-scale solar PV projects was 35% lower at only $9.3 billion.

Cleantechnica: Global Wind Energy Capacity Set To Hit 500 GW By Year-End

Global wind energy capacity reached 456 GW at the half-year mark of 2016, and is set to hit 500 GW by the end of the year, according to new figures from the World Wind Energy Association.Published this week, the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) released its half-year report, revealing that 21 GW of new wind installations were completed during the first half of the year, bringing the global cumulative total up to 456 GW. Further, the WWEA predict that global wind capacity will reach 500 GW by the end of the year. “Wind power shows robust growth also in the year 2016, and the good news is especially that we can see strong markets now also in Latin America and in Africa,” said Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General. “With the expected 500 GW installed wind capacity by end of this year, wind power will contribute 5 % to the global power supply. A major reason of concern is, however, the global trend towards auctions which is endangering the driving role of small and medium sized players. It has already slowed down most of the European markets, so that Europe has already lost its long-term leadership to Asia.”

Ecowatch: World’s Largest Solar Project Would Generate Electricity 24 Hours a Day

SolarReserve’s Sandstone project involves at least 100,000 mirrored heliostats that capture the sun’s rays and concentrates it onto 10 towers equipped with a molten salt energy storage system. The molten salt, heated to more than 1,000 degrees, then boils water and creates a steam turbine that can drive generators 24/7. Compared to photovoltaic arrays, the appeal of CSP systems is that solar power can be used after sunset. “It’s really the ability to provide renewable energy that’s available on demand 24 hours a day,” SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told NPR. SolarReserve already operates a CSP plant near Tonopah, a revolutionary 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant that’s now powering Nevada homes. The company says on its website that this “completely emission free” CSP plant runs without the requirement for natural gas or oil back up. “Energy storage provides a firm, reliable electricity product on-demand, day and night,” SolarReserve says, adding that the plant “helps meet growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources.” Smith told the Review-Journal that Sandstone construction probably won’t begin for another two or three years. Once construction begins, Smith estimated the project should create about 3,000 jobs for about seven years. He said the company will also have to build a new transmission infrastructure to carry the energy to market, and the generated power will likely will be “exported to the California market.”

News Australia: Home energy system costs tumble

Producing your own power is getting much cheaper for households as the price of solar energy storage systems drops quickly. A battery storage system that cost $20,000 two years ago is now $10,000, while solar panels that cost more than $20,000 five years ago today sell for about $6000. The shrinking cost of home renewable energy systems has helped compensate people for the disappearance of generous government feed-in tariffs, and experts believe prices will continue to fall. ZEN Energy founder and director of innovation Richard Turner says energy storage systems — which first hit the market in 2012 — now cost less than $9000, or $11,000 when bundled with solar panels. “Many of the people we were speaking with about energy storage over recent years said ‘Call me back when it’s under $10,000’. Well, now it is and we’re calling back,” he says.“Energy storage is one of the most exciting technological developments of our lifetime but until now has been cost-prohibitive for the majority of householders. With solar panels and battery storage, an average home could save hundreds on quarterly electricity bills and protect themselves from future energy price rises. ZEN expects the market to take off over the next few months in much the same way solar did many years ago.”

Alternet: America’s Southern Forests Are Being Decimated to Supply Europe With Energy

In just a few years, the southern U.S. has become the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets, the preferred form of biomass for industrial use. Last year alone, over 5 million tons of wood pellets were exported from the South directly to markets in Europe. This arrangement has had serious impacts on the climate, communities and forests of the region. While biomass was sold to policymakers and the public as clean, green energy—using only waste wood and providing massive carbon savings—emerging science and on-the-ground evidence have shown quite the opposite. In recent years, industrial biomass companies have been exposed by organizations and leading media outlets to be sourcing whole hardwood trees from endangered wetland habitats for their pellets—evidence contrary to misleading industry promotions of their use of sawdust and “waste” wood. In addition, the notion that biomass is a “carbon neutral” energy source is scientifically unsound and based on a “serious carbon accounting error.” According to the U.K. government’s own science, the biomass that is sourced from whole trees can be up to four times worse than coal for the climate. It’s a major problem for industrial biomass, since there is no possible way to meet Europe’s current demand without logging whole trees.

Telegraph: UK blackout risk recedes as National Grid pays old coal plants to stay on standby

The risk of blackouts this winter has receded but National Grid will likely have to pay old coal plants millions of pounds to stay on standby for days at a time to ensure the lights stay on. A new assessment published by the utility giant on Friday shows that the outlook for this winter is better than had been feared earlier in the year, when forecasts suggested there would be barely enough power plants operating in the main electricity market to meet demand. Since then part of the Eggborough coal plant has rejoined the market, increasing the available supply, while part of the subsea power cable used to export electricity to Ireland is out of action, reducing the likely demand. In addition, National Grid has a separate reserve of 10 old coal and gas power plants that are not operating in the market but will be paid £122m through an emergency scheme to stay open in case they are needed as a “last resort”. These backup plants will bolster the overall margin to 6.6pc, compared with 5.1pc last year when National Grid also had last resort schemes in place. The plants will be paid millions of pounds more to fire up if they are actually required. Two of the reserve plants are coal plants, which require more than 24 hours’ notice to warm up before they can start producing power. “As a result, we will need to issue start up instructions to these generators up to 48 hours ahead,” National Grid said.

Electrek: Tesla Powerwall sees a ’30 times’ increase in demand after Australia’s blackouts

Tesla Energy authorized distributors in Australia are now reporting a ’30 times’ increase in demand for the Tesla Powerwall and other home battery packs. Chris Williams, who runs a national firm with its head-quarters in Sydney, said the biggest jump had been in South Australia and Victoria, but demand had spiked across the country after the blackouts put the future of electricity grids and renewable energy sharply into the national spotlight. Williams says that the biggest spike happened within the first 5 days after the blackout during the last week of September and that now about 95% of the company’s customers who are getting a solar array for their home also want to add a Tesla Powerwall home storage battery to go with the system. While most people want a Powerwall in order to get more out of their solar panels by using the energy produced by the panels even after the sun goes down, now more people are looking at the Powerwall for “blackout proofing” their home. They want to keep the lights on in case of an outage. Natural Solar gave an example of the energy consumption graph of one of its clients during the blackout in South Australia:

News Trust: Britain lacks policies to meet emissions targets

“Current policy in the UK is not enough to deliver the existing carbon budgets that Parliament has set,” Britain’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in one of three reports published on Thursday on Britain’s climate policy. Existing policies, including those agreed to by Britain and at the EU level will at best deliver around half the emission cuts required, the CCC said. The government should produce proposals on bridging the policy gap by February, Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC said at a press briefing ahead of the reports’ publication. Following Britain’s decision earlier this year to leave the European Union, the country should either retain EU policies or replace them with equivalent measures, the CCC said. A spokeswoman for Britain’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said it is making good progress towards meeting emission reduction goals. “We are now looking ahead to set out how we will continue to decarbonise through the 2020s. Our plan will send an important signal to the markets, businesses and investors so we want to take the time now to get it right,” she said. Under the Climate Change Act Britain has committed by 2050 to cut emissions by 80 percent compared with 1990 levels, and must produce proposals on how it intends to reach its climate targets, set in five-yearly carbon budgets.

Businessgreen: Government must do more to boost energy storage and demand response, say MPs

The UK has a chance to become a world leader in smart energy technologies such as demand response and energy storage, but only if the government takes the necessary steps to reform the regulatory market. That is the conclusion of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee (ECC), which today issued its final report before it formally disbands on Monday, to be replaced by a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEISC). The report suggests that if current regulatory barriers to energy storage were removed, the technology could deliver £7bn of annual savings for consumers, while changes to regulations for demand response (DRS) services would help cut energy demand and reduce emissions by curbing the use of polluting plants for backup winter power. “The government must get a move on and encourage the energy market to embrace smart technological solutions like energy storage and demand side response,” Angus MacNeil, SNP MP and chairman of the ECC, said in a statement. “There is an incredible opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in these disruptive technologies. Yet our current energy security subsidies favour dirty diesel generation over smart new clean tech solutions.”

Power Engineering International: Top environmentalist claims EU 2020 push fed Brexit

Baroness Bryony Worthington told the Bloomberg New Energy Summit, “The European 2008 package, without realizing it, contributed to and fostered some of the conditions that led to Brexit.” Worthington, executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, added, “It was far too top-down in its view and too inflexible in its approach to climate change. It led to rancour from being told what to do by Eurocrats.” In 2008, Brussels approved a set of laws to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels, boost energy efficiency by a fifth and increase the share of renewables in energy consumption by 20 percent. To meet the goals, European member states had to translate the rules into domestic legislation and enact policies to promote the transition to low-carbon economy. Worthington went on to question the merits of the German energy transition and its suitability as a model for the rest of Europe. She maintained it is an unfair imposition on countries differing greatly in resources. Former energy secretary Ed Davey, also a panellist at the event, also criticised the 2008 package for not enabling countries to decarbonise according to their own strengths. “The 2008 package was too technology-focused instead of meeting the real objective, which is to cut greenhouse gases. That means giving countries such as Poland the freedom to tackle these problems the way they wanted to without Brussels interference, through allowing them to meet their obligations in a technology neutral way.”

Yahoo: Oil glut to last until mid-2017 unless OPEC cuts output: IEA

A massive oil glut may weigh on world markets deep into next year unless the OPEC producer cartel makes good on its promise to cut output, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday. The oil price has recovered steadily since OPEC said last month that it would reduce production, with details to be hammered out at the cartel’s November meeting, and such a deal would “speed up the process” of working off global oil inventories, the IEA said in its monthly report. “Even with tentative signs that bulging inventories are starting to decline, our supply-demand outlook suggests that the market — if left to its own devices — may remain in oversupply through the first half of next year,” the IEA said. If OPEC sticks to its new target, the market’s rebalancing could come faster,” it said. Initially greeted with scepticism among analysts, OPEC’s agreement to cut output has gained traction in the oil market, with the IEA noting that the oil price has risen by 15 percent since the cartel’s announcement on September 28. Oil prices rose to their highest level in several months after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that his country, not a member of the cartel, was ready to align with OPEC’s push to limit oil output. At its September meeting, OPEC said it had agreed to cut its supply by up to 750,000 barrels per day to between 32.5 and 33 million barrels per day. While the IEA did not make any predictions on the chances of OPEC following through on its pledge, its report implied that all oil price bets are off should OPEC fail to deliver.

Wall Street Journal: North Dakota Crude-Oil Production Falls Below One Million Barrels a Day

North Dakota oil production dropped 4.7% in August on a commodity price slump, falling below the one-million-barrel-a-day mark for the first time in more than two years, according to the latest data from the state’s Department of Mineral Resources. Crude production dropped to 981,039 barrels a day in August, the most recent month for which data is available. That is the lowest level since March of 2014, when output came to 977,178 barrels a day. “This is the month we’ve all been anticipating, but not looking forward to,” Lynn Helms, director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, said at a press conference in Bismarck. “There is still more slowing to come over the next few months,” he said. Mr. Helms said North Dakota’s oil production would likely decline to a low of about 900,000 barrels a day by mid-2017 before recovering. Total production in North Dakota was 30.4 million barrels of oil in August, down from 31.9 million barrels in July. North Dakota’s active rig count—a barometer of future production—stands at 33 rigs, one less than in September but up from 32 in August. The all-time high for the state was 218 rigs in May 2012, when oil prices were around $100 a barrel. The number of wells completed, or brought into production, rose to 59 in August from 44 in July, according to provisional state figures. Officials in North Dakota have said completion numbers must rise above 70 wells a month to stabilize crude-oil production as older wells face declining production rates.

Independent: China to sell portable nuclear reactor – based on ‘fundamentally unsafe’ design used in 1970s Soviet subs

China has developed a nuclear power plant so small it can fit inside a shipping container. The reactor will be used to supply electricity to new settlements and desalinate sea water for drinking. The reactor is based on a design used in 1970s Soviet submarines, which one British expert described as “fundamentally unsafe”. The South China Morning Post reported the new reactor, believed to be the smallest ever created for civilian use, had been developed by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology. They told the paper they hoped to send the first reactor to the South China Sea in the next five years and it could also be sold to countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Part of our funding came from the military, but we hope – and it’s our ultimate goal – that the technology will eventually benefit civilian users,” Professor Huang Qunying said.The researchers said the technology used was similar to lead-cooled thermal reactors used by Soviet submarines. The UK Government has expressed an interest in using small modular nuclear reactors, which could provide heat to local communities as well as generating electricity. But John Large, a British independent nuclear consultant who advised the Russian government after the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in 2000, dismissed the suggestion the Chinese reactors might be an option. “The lead-bismuth reactor, in my opinion, wouldn’t be developable to an acceptably safe point because it is fundamentally unsafe,” he said.

Reuters: Japan election key to world’s biggest nuclear plant and Abe’s energy policy

A regional election north of Tokyo between candidates most Japanese have never heard of may decide the fate of the world’s biggest nuclear plant and mark a turning point for an industry all but shut down after the Fukushima disaster. The campaign for governor of Niigata Prefecture has boiled down to two men and one issue: whether to restart the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. Reviving the seven-reactor giant, with capacity of 8 gigawatts, is key to saving Tokyo Electric Power, which was brought low by the 2011 Fukushima explosions and meltdowns, and then the repeated admissions of cover-ups and safety lapses after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Tepco is in turn vital to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy policy, which relies on rebooting more of the reactors that once met about 30 percent of the nation’s needs. But Ryuichi Yoneyama, 49, an anti-nuclear doctor-lawyer who has never held office and is backed by mostly left-wing parties, has made a tight race for governor of Niigata against an initially favored veteran politician from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear party, Japanese media say. In a sign that Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party also sees a tough contest, party heavyweights were dispatched to campaign for Tamio Mori, 67. The former mayor and construction ministry bureaucrat is seen more likely to allow Kashiwazaki-Kariwa to restart.

Open Democracy: New life for Ukraine’s aging nuclear power plants

In the past few weeks, two of Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear reactors received a lease on life for an additional 10 years beyond their originally projected life-span. Units 1 and 2 at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, are the fifth and sixth units to have their expiry dates extended by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. This is a dangerous move, which violates international law and democratic principles. Nuclear proponents, Ukrainian governmental officials and the state nuclear power operator Energoatom argue these extensions are necessary. But is it really? And who benefits from the continued operation of Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet? On the face of it, the “nuclear safety upgrade program”, supported by Euratom and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is meant to help Ukraine improve safety standards in its nuclear units. But in reality, the EU is paying (60% of EBRD shares belong to EU member states and the European Investment Bank) and Ukraine is extending operation of its unsafe, aging reactors beyond their original lifespan without completing some of the top priority safety measures.

Swissinfo: Request to build nuclear power plants withdrawn

Three energy utility companies have admitted defeat in their bid to build more nuclear power plants in Switzerland by formally withdrawing a long-standing application on Wednesday. Axpo, Alpiq and BKW informed the government that their framework request from 2008 was no longer valid. The application was put on ice in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, which led to a Swiss decision to phase out all existing plants by 2050. “The energy world has changed fundamentally since the framework permit applications for replacement nuclear power plants were submitted in the year 2008,” a joint statement read. “Today the market is a very different one, and in the meantime, policy-makers have set the course for a future without nuclear power.” The application had envisaged three new power plants – Beznau III, Gösgen II and a replacement for the Mühleberg plant. Approximately 40% of Switzerland’s energy comes from its five nuclear power plants. Switzerland’s Energy Strategy 2050 plans to bridge the gap through increased use of hydropower and alternative energy sources and with energy efficiencies.

Bloomberg: German utilities make deal on nuclear waste disposal

Germany utilities from RWE AG and EON SE moved closer to finally fixing their financial obligations in dismantling the nation’s nuclear reactors and making safe equipment and fuel that may be radioactive for 100,000 years. Owners of reactors, which also include Vattenfall AB and Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG, have to pay 23.6 billion euros ($26 billion) into a fund to free them from their atomic waste storage liabilities, according to a draft law that includes an option to make installments until 2026. Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to pull the plug on Germany’s 60-year-old nuclear industry in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, spurring an unprecedented shift to renewable energy that sent wholesale market prices to decade lows and hurt profit at traditional utilities. The deal ends the lengthy talks on who funds the country’s exit from atomic power, particularly the cost of storing the radioactive fuel, which has weighed on the companies’ shares.

Newsok: US coal company shifts to Canadian port to reach Asia markets

A coal company with mines in Montana and Wyoming said Thursday that it’s begun exporting fuel to Asia through a Canadian shipping terminal, after its years long effort to secure port access in the U.S. Pacific Northwest has come up short. The announcement from Lighthouse Resources, Inc. offered a rare bit of positive news for the coal mining industry, which has been in a prolonged tailspin amid falling demand due to climate concerns and competition from cheap natural gas. Lighthouse, which is headquartered in Utah, had been seeking approval since 2011 for a coal export terminal in Oregon and since 2010 for a terminal in Washington. It’s faced strong opposition from environmentalists, American Indian tribes and some state officials concerned over coal dust pollution and potential damage to fisheries on the Columbia River. With the company’s coal now going through British Columbia’s Westshore Terminals, Lighthouse Chief Executive Officer Everett King said it was pulling out of the proposed coal terminal at Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon after that project stalled. “Though we are disappointed for our Morrow Pacific Project supporters, we are very excited to commence delivery of products to our customers,” King said. The exported fuel is destined for coal-burning power plants in South Korea, the company said. It declined to give shipment volumes.

New York Times: Putin and Erdogan Revive Gas Pipeline Deal

Amid increasingly tense relations with the United States over Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia took advantage of a routine meeting in Istanbul on Monday to advance the Kremlin’s reconciliation with Turkey, including an agreement to revive a suspended natural-gas pipeline project. The new pipeline, known as the Turkish Stream, would run under the Black Sea to Turkey and then the Greek border, allowing Russian gas to reach Western markets without using Russia’s existing export pipelines through Eastern Europe. The pipeline would make it much easier for Russia to cut off gas supplies to neighboring countries like Ukraine without disrupting sales to countries farther west like Italy or Austria. Russia has been trying for years to establish such an export route. The Turkish Stream gas pipeline is intended to replace a planned pipeline through Bulgaria that the European Union blocked at the outset of the Ukraine crisis. Some European governments and the United States also oppose the Turkish Stream project. The revived agreement to build the pipeline also includes a common geopolitical sweetener from Russia: a reduction in the price that Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant, would charge for natural gas sold on Turkey’s domestic market.

Pennenergy: Turkey, Israel to consider building gas pipeline

Israel and Turkey will consider building a pipeline that would carry Israeli natural gas to Turkey and onward to European markets, Israel’s energy minister said Thursday, during a first visit by an Israeli minister since the countries ended a six-year rift this summer. Yuval Steinitz told reporters after talks with his Turkish counterpart, Berat Albayrak, that the two sides also discussed the issue of Turkey supplying electricity and other forms of energy to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank “Israel is welcoming any involvement of Turkey in improving the lives of ordinary people in Gaza,” Steinitz said. “We will do our best in order to enable this.”Turkey and Israel reached an agreement in June to normalize ties and end acrimony caused by an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010. Ten Turkish activists were killed in the raid. Under the reconciliation deal, Israel agreed to compensate the families of the victims while Turkey agreed not to hold Israeli nationals criminally liable for the incident.
Steinitz said the two countries “agreed to establish immediately a dialogue to examine the possibility and the feasibility” of the natural gas pipeline project. He said Israel was considering other pipeline projects but said the “Turkish option” was an “important” one. The Israeli minister said his country would also welcome the participation of Turkish businesses in the exploration of future gas fields.

Courier Mail: Coal price rally set to replenish Queensland government coffers

Government coffers are expected to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in additional royalties from surging coal prices, but analysts warn the rally may be short lived. Both coking and thermal coal prices are climbing as China cuts production to support its own struggling sector. December contracts for coking coal are now trading at US$200 ($264) a tonne, more than double what they were in September, while thermal coal is trading near a two-year high. Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said while there were still uncertainties, the uptick was a welcome respite for the sector. Mr Roche said the State Government would be cheering the rally, given that it would add up to hundreds of millions of dollars in extra royalties. “Treasurer Curtis Pitt should be happy,” said Mr Roche, who will be replaced as head of the lobby group next month by Ian Macfarlane. “Thermal coal prices are now a third higher than the highest assumption in the last Budget.” BIS Shrapnel senior economist Richard Robinson said while the rally was not sustainable, prices would not slump like they had previously. “Coking coal prices will probably settle between the $100 to $200 per tonne level,” Mr Robinson said.

Live Science: Donald Trump’s Clean-Coal Response Misses Mark, Experts Say

Could “clean coal” meet the energy needs of the United States for the next 1,000 years, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Sunday (Oct. 9) during the second presidential debate? Scientists contacted by Live Science are dubious both about whether current U.S. supplies of this fossil fuel could last more than a century and whether the country will start implementing industrywide practices to meet the clean coal definition. As of now, there aren’t any operational U.S. coal plants that use so-called clean coal technology, said Edward Rubin, a professor of engineering, public policy and mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Moreover, if the United States continues to use coal at its current rate of consumption, the known coal deposits will last only about 100 more years, according to a 2007 report from The National Academy of Sciences. Trump’s comment came about during a town-hall debate, held at Washington University in St. Louis. The newly minted internet star Ken Bone — the man with the bright-red sweater and black-rimmed glasses — asked both candidates, “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs, while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?” During his 2-minute response, Trump said, “There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country.”

Wind Power Monthly: Industrial-scale hydrogen storage on trial

Hydrogen systems supplier Hydrogenics is taking part in pilots across Europe to demonstrate the potential for hydrogen electrolysers for grid balancing and renewables integration. These various projects are trialling industrial-scale versions of the company’s alkaline and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers. In Puglia, in southern Italy, Hydrogenics’ 1MW alkaline electrolyser is being used in a project to increase the integration of renewable electricity from solar photovoltaic and wind plants on the grid, improve active-reactive power control for voltage regulation and enhance power quality. Hydrogenics is also supplying its technology for two projects in Denmark, which include the Hybalance project in Hobro, northern Denmark, announced earlier this year. The power-to-gas demonstration project, costing more than €15 million, is supported by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and the Danish ForskEL programme, which is ad-ministered by Danish grid operator At the other Danish project, also supported by ForskEL, Hydrogenics is supplying a 1MW alkaline electrolyser for a commercial-scale power-to-gas facility at a wastewater treatment plant in Denmark.

Los Angeles Times: Human-caused warming doubled how much of the West has burned since 1984, study finds

Human-caused warming in the West has nearly doubled the area burned by wildfires over the last three decades, researchers reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s an extra 16,000 square miles, or an area about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The West has seen a dramatic increase in wildfires over the last 30 years. The researchers set out to determine why. Using large-scale climate models, annual wildfire data and eight established methods for measuring the aridity of the forests, the researchers concluded that from 1979 to 2015, climate change increased the aridity of wildfire fuel by 55%. Without that drying, a little more than half as much land would have burned over the last three decades, the researchers found. Natural variability in climate was also a major factor, on par with human-caused warming, the researchers said. In particular, a long-term cycle of weather in the Pacific Ocean has prevented storms from reaching the forested West. The researchers also blamed government fire-suppression practices for essentially storing up fire fuel instead of letting some fires burn naturally.

Guardian: Hurricane Sandy-level flooding is rising so sharply that it could become normal

The frequency of floods of the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of New York City in 2012, is rising so sharply that they could become relatively normal, with a raft of new research laying bare the enormous upheavals already under way in the US due to climate change. An analysis of past storms and models of future events as the planet warms has shown that Sandy-like floods have become three times more common in the New York area since 1800. This frequency is set to climb further, from once every 400 years to once every 90 years by 2100, due to the effects of sea level rise alone. Worse still, when the impact of future storm conditions, supercharged by the warming oceans and increased atmospheric moisture, is considered, New York could be swamped by Sandy-level flooding as frequently as once every 23 years by the end of the century, according to research led by Princeton University. The frequency of flood events such as Sandy, which caused a storm surge nearly 3m above high tide resulting in 159 deaths and $68bn in damage in the US north-east, has “increased significantly over the past two centuries and is very likely to increase more sharply over the 21st century, due to the compound effects of sea level rise and storm climatology change”, the Princeton study states.

See News: China denies stealing Scottish wave tech data – report

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which was just recently accused of stealing information from Scottish firm Pelamis Wave Power to develop its own wave energy device, says those claims are totally groundless. CSIC’s No 710 Research Institute told the Global Times on Thursday that the company has spent many years of independent re-search to develop a wave power generating system specifically for China’s conditions. Contrary to what a former Pelamis business development director told the Guardian recently, there are huge differences between CSIC’s Hailong 1 device and Pelamis’ own system, the Chinese company has said. According to the Guardian report from Monday, a number of laptops were stolen from Pelamis’ office in March 2011, about two months after a 60-man delegation from China visited the Scottish company. The crime went unsolved and people involved in the Pelamis project became suspicious only after a similar design emerged in China a few years later. Max Carcas, who served as business development director at Pelamis until 2012, told the newspaper that even though some of the details are different, there are also striking similarities between the two concepts. Neither the UK nor Scotland plan to challenge China over the patent, according to the report, which cited a representative for Wave Energy Scotland as saying that the IP is not protected in China.

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56 Responses to Blowout Week 146

    • OpenSourceElectricity says:

      What is missing in the blowout is that 23 nuclear power stations in france are offline now and as it seems for the comming months causing france to draw power from all surrounding grids.

      • Stuart Brown says:

        10:30am in France. 39GW nuclear, 2.1GW imports

        peak imports yesterday 12:45 4.27GW. Meanwhile nuclear 38.9GW…

        Winds picking up though, it’s made it to over 1.5GW today.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Why are so many nukes off line? Notably UK electricity imports are on zero. The pressure map is for Friday. High pressure moving in.

        • robertok06 says:

          Hi Euan:

          they are off-line due to one accident during maintenance in one power station, to longer than expected maintenance at another station, due to planned outages (most of the reactos, I believe), and due to a “problem” raised by the nuclear safety agency (ASN) which has asked for additional tests on samples of some reactors’ RPVs and/or steam generators.

          This is making the headlines, of course, since the French nuclear machine is most of the time impeccable from the point of view of the operation and delivery “on demand” of power, 24h/24… just like it has done during the prolonged cold spells of the past winters (churned out 63 GW out of 63 during the record cold weeks of 2012, with a record demand at 7 pm of 106 GW.

          So France needs to buy electricity, for once… and this is “the proof” that nuclear doesn’t work, right?… 🙂


  1. Gaznotprom says:

    Amazing Euan.

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks for consolidating all the news.

    The plans for EVs to be mandated in Germany is interesting. It hasn’t been the top story here – probably because it has no chance of happening as long as the motoring lobby has so much influence. If Germany was interest in reducing emissions, it would for example (as well as extending nuclear power plant life) put in place speed limits on the motorways. 130km/h is slow on German motorways, meaning people NEED over powered engines to burn lots of fuel. But that is good for German industry (if you have to drive 160km/h, you can’t buy a Fiat or a Kia). So controlling that is an issue.

    The other point – with such expensive electricity – and cheap diesel, EVs lose some of their running-cost advantage. Which is another reason why EVs are not doing well in Germany.

    Still – the sentiment is good. EVs will take over at some point. But it won’t be easy.

    • Leo Smith says:

      I am terribly ambivalent about EVs. They are hovering on the cusp between a cat-belling solution that is impractical and a genuinely useful thing to have.

      For sure no current grid could withstand a rapid transition to all electric vehicles. Neither is it particularly helpful on a limited range vehicle with a small pack to restricts its charging to when the wind blows.

      So unless we go massively nuclear, there is little or no carbon benefit from burning coal or gas in power stations to charge electric cars.

      I think the reality is that we should let electric cars find their own level and penetrate naturally into such markets as suit them.

      These ‘green’ initiatives are in the end just virtue signalling EcoBollox from a political establishment that looks increasingly incompetent as the weeks roll by.

      • Alex says:

        If, or when we go massively nuclear, EV’s will be quite useful for balancing diurnal demand.

        At the moment, they’re sill an improvement on ICEs. Our next second car (which does more mileage than our “first” car) will be a EV. But it will be charged at home – mostly.

    • euanmearns says:

      I believe the country with most Teslas is Norway. Norway has a minimum 100% import duty on cars (all cars are imported). Teslas are exempt. So the path for Germany should be quite clear. Slap a 100% tax on all ICE cars and folks will charge towards EVs.

      This is happening in reverse in the UK where the government subsidises the purchase of EVs instead of taxing ICE cars even more.

      I see EV charging points dotted around various towns. I have yet to see one being used.

      • OpenSourceElectricity says:

        There are plenty of car models in the pipeline to come on the market till 2019 with 500+ km battery capacity (test-km, so maybe 400km real life), which would have enough capacity for most users to move charging sime days, with an average of 200km driven per week and car.
        Price tag is expected the same as the current 200km models. Life expectancy of the battery would exceede the life expectancy of the ICE motor and gearboxes. Maybe they are good enough for the market then.

  3. Willem Post says:


    EV build outs would require a significant increase in generation from wind and solar, plus battery systems, and chargers in Germany.

    Has anyone looked into adequate lithium and rare earths supply?

    If buildings change present systems to heat pumps, a further increase in generation is required.

    In Vermont, that increase would be 48% by 2050, even after significant improvements in efficiency.
    In Vermont, 625,000 people, the cost of the transformation would be over $20 billion by 2050.

    Germany has about 83 million people. Even Germany will not be rich enough to pull that off.

    With world RE investments decreasing, and likely not increasing, due to world economic malaise, and low growth, “saving the world” looks less likely, even after the ratifying of targets in Paris.

    Fossil fuels likely will keep their 78% share of ALL world energy for some decades.

    Welcome to the real world.

    • Willem: For Germany to consider converting to 100% renewable-powered EVs when it plans to shut down its nuclear (and coal) plants, when it’s cutting back on renewables subsidies and when it can’t even build enough power lines to distribute the RE it does have borders on lunacy. Those guys have got to get their act together.

      • Jan Ebenholtz says:

        It is very hard to understand how Merkel is thinking. The only option they got with her policy is to increase gas consumption. Where is that gas comming from?

        • Lars says:

          Jan, the average German load is around 700 watts per capita. How many passenger cars are there in Germany? Between 30 and 40 million? How does Merkel & co. think you can charge that bunch of cars even if you charge with jus 10 amps, around 2,3 KW? Theoretically, if 30 million cars are charging with 10 amps that would create a demand of 21 GWs. If we assume that each car needs 6 hours of charging each day you will need 5,25 GWs or around 60 watts per German on average. That`s a relatively large increase even without considering that charging will not be even throughout the day, and that a certain amount of cars will need fast charging with 100 KWs ++

          The solution for Germany must at least be to keep the existing nuclear reactors.

          • Wookey says:

            “If we assume that each car needs 6 hours of charging each day ”

            …you will get a wildly incorrect calculation. The charging requirement comes from miles driven, not total battery capacity of all vehicles in the country. I don’t know offhand what factor you have overestimated by, but it’s a large overestimate.

          • Lars says:

            Wookey, I think my calculations aren`t that far off. Let`s see it from another angle with some US figures. According to the US Department of Transportation the average annual miles per driver in the US is 13476 miles or 21682 kms. An EV consumes about 2 KWh per 10 kms or 6,215 miles.

            To drive 13476 miles you thus need to charge 4336 KWh assuming no losses and so on. This is an all year round average load of 49,5 watts or let`s say 50 watts for convenience. With transfer losses, AC to DC losses, cold weather losses and so on I think 60 watts is a reasonable estimate at least for the US but you may be driving somewhat more than the average German perhaps.

            If we assume there were 30 million EVs in Germany consuming 4000 KWh each year that would amount to new production needs of 120 TWh or almost what the wonderful “Energiewende” currently yields in terms of “new renewables”. Or actually just a little more than what the still operating nuclear power stations yield…

          • Lars says:

            Actually Wookey I see now that I have lost a zero in my estimates. With a EV consumption of 4000 KWh annually which is not unreasonable you need a constant load of about 0,46 KW all year round. With lots more EVs on the road this doesn`t look like something most grids are capable of handling.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            @ Lars: germany is not the US. In germany ist’s 10.000km per car and year, with 15kWh/i00km that’s 1500kWh per year. With 50 million cars thats 75 TWh, or 15% more electricity demand for a full change. The demand can be shifted to the time when its convenient to the grid.

          • Lars says:

            OpenSourceElectricity, according to

            the average travel distance for each car in Germany was 14259 kms in 2014, in other words two thirds of US driving. Your estimate is simply far too low.
            The biggest problem with EVs is not the total consumption but use of effect. It`s not going to be the case that all EVs can be charged during the night.

            Teslas and other EVs are already causing problems in Norway in areas with a tiny population but lots of leisure homes like where I live. We had a local blackout here a couple of weeks ago just when the autumn holiday started and people were coming from the towns charging their EVs, starting heat pumps, cooking and so on. I did not count them, but last winter I think we had between 5 and 10 blackouts and the frequency seems to be increasing every year.

        • robertok06 says:

          “Where is that gas comming from?”

          Comrade Putin in large part?… thanks to the well known connection of former chancellor G. Schroeder, who after stepping down got a job with?… GazProm… 🙂

    • Leo Smith says:

      In the end my bet is we will all go nuclear, EVs will find some sort of market penetration – as short range things – and we will simply stop doing quite so much long distance travelling anyway, as it will get more expensive.

      My objecti0omn is to legislate for change, when oits not clear that change is actually readyt.

      Today I buy LED bulbs because they are cost effective and look OK.

      Previous CFL bulbs were awful and we should never have been forced to adopt them.

      • Jan Ebenholtz says:

        In Sweden we have nuclear, hydro and some RE and the electricity price is low compared to fossilfuels. EVs is perfect for us and when Germany start selling them for the same price as a fossilcar they will increase rapidly. The range fear will not be a major problem if a car can go 300km in one charge and you can charge in about 20min. Usually you will charge at home during nighttime and drive a 30–60km to work and to shop every day. Charging stations will be plentiful.
        There is already an EV bus running in Stockholm and there will be plenty more. The bus is charged in 2min and can go 10km on a charge. Hopefully this will improve. Lorries for long distance transport is of course yet to be seen.
        In my house I have electrical heating of water and house and the latest LED lamps. The LED lamps are brilliant. Looks and feels like the old ones.
        Nuclear is the way to go. We have had no problems with our nuclear plants. Oil and Coal is to valueable to be burned if you can avoid it.

      • robertok06 says:


        “In the end my bet is we will all go nuclear, ”

        Iwish you were right, Leo!… unfortunately there is ample evidence that mankind in the past has shot itself in the foot more than once… opting for choices based on popular demand (like “free energy for all!… let’s put some PV panels and that will be it!”)… my bet is that we’ll keep on buring fossil fuels for the majority of the energy we’ll consume since at least the end of this century.
        Nuclear has too much ideological pressure, and decades of scare-mongering against it, which has gotten entrenched into the mind of the lay-person.
        You can’t have a single “excess” case of leukemia in 5 years, that will be enough to ask for all nuclear power plants to be shut down (the infamous KiKK Study), while at the same time you can keep on buring lignite and coal which kill every year thousands of people… how logical is that?


        • Greg Kaan says:

          Roberto, I am confident that at some stage, the public of one western nation will realise it has been hoodwinked and demand nuclear energy be (re)deployed as costs for FF increase and the renewables continue to fail. The asian countries and Russia haven’t fallen for the BS and nuclear development continues there so the Western nations economies will be increasingly contrasted.

          It will only take one western nation to take up the competitive advantage and self interest will ensure that the others will follow.

          KiteGen may make a difference but while I hope it will work, I remain a sceptic.

    • Williem

      “EV build outs would require a significant increase in generation from wind and solar, plus battery systems, and chargers in Germany.

      Has anyone looked into adequate lithium and rare earths supply?”

      I commented here* for the UK. Much shortened
      “Say 5 million of UK homes go for this…… Call it 5,000 tons of Li for the 5 million UK homes to load shift or just under 1% worldwide production assuming correct grade and no losses….So the UK alone would be putting a significant dent into world wide production every 10 years.”


      • OpenSourceElectricity says:

        In one average km³ of earth is 120.000t of lithium. There is no problem to ramp up lithium production, it is not rare, it’s just not concentrated to high percentages by natural processes anywhere.

        • Possibly not, I do not know Li production well. Bit if it is like Fe, then we will need large deposits.

          Current guess via USGS is production at 36,000 with 34 million tons of resources @ 2014. Looks like I should have wrote 10% in the post above, not 1%.

        • robertok06 says:

          “In one average km³ of earth is 120.000t of lithium. ”

          Don’t be silly, extraction of any chemical element becomes un-economical or even energy-negative as soon as its concentration goes below a given value…

          “Lithium-ion electric vehicles can be designed with a large variation of battery capacities, so I will (somewhat arbitrarily) base my analysis on the Nissan Leaf electric car, which has a 24 kW·h battery. [11] There are electric cars with smaller batteries than the Leaf (e.g., Chevrolet Volt) and larger batteries (e.g., Tesla Model S), so the Leaf’s battery strikes a rough median. Every 10 kW·h requires 1 kg of lithium, so it takes at least 2.4 kg of lithium to make this battery.

          If all other lithium industries suddenly evaporated, we could imagine using the entire world lithium production to make nothing but Nissan Leafs. At 2 × 107 kg of lithium per year, we can make 8.3 million of them. Using all 9.9 × 109 kg of the world’s lithium reserves, we can make 4.1 billion Leafs; using all the identified lithium resources (2.55 × 1010 kg), we can make 10.6 billion Leafs.

          If we would like to have a North American standard of living for everyone in the world – say, 1 car for every 2 people – then we would need about 3.4 billion Nissan Leafs. This would use 32% of the identified resources (all known lithium in the world), or 82% of the reserves (all lithium that is currently economic to produce). Even with widespread recycling, that seems like an unsustainable prospect.”

    • Beamspot says:


      According to USGS, there are 14MMT of lithium (IIRC, in metallic form, about 5 times more in carbonate form).

      That amounts to approx 65TWh, or like 1000M Tesla S65, more or less the same amount of cars currently running on the world. At a mean of 15TW of world’s power consumption, that stands for less than 5 hours of world’s energy consumption.

      But according to USGS and Meridien International, the 7.5MMT from Atacama (>50%) reported by USGS, are fake, an scam, overstated by about 4.5MMT (by Chilean government).

      And according to Meridien, from the remaining 3MMT at Salar de Atacama in Chile, about half MMT had been already extracted.

      And lithium is not recycled never, so it ends totally lost.

      According to some sources I have in Salar del Hombre Muerto (Argentina, in the lithium triangle), it seems that the yeld to obtain lithium carbonate battery grade is about 70%. But there are also other consumers, like glass manufacturers that use lithium. That reduces the amount of batteries we would obtain.

      If we move to LiFePO, then we will need 20% more lithium (due the fact that each electron delivers 20% less energy). For LiS, the situation is even worse.

      Lead runs short much faster than Lithium.

      Rare earths are another issues. Motors can be manufactures without them. Async squirrel AC async, or external excitation AC synchronous don’t use them, but they are less efficient per KW. Permanent magnet AC Sync motors use lots of neodymium.

      Prius uses 1Kg, 60€ of Nd, and 120grams or 144€ of dysprosium. The bottleneck is dysprosium, that is also used in high power wind turbines, and its production is really limited.

      Dysprosium, as well as Nd, but at a lesser extent, generates lots of toxic waste, and many Kg of radioactive waste per Kg of them. Also lots of other RE elements that perhaps are not used, like Europium, that is one of the key ingredients of white LED’s, and the reason why those LED’s are cheap: dysprosium pays the bill of europium extraction and purification (it’s a byproduct).

      In short, the issues with reserves are really limiting, not only for EV’s, but also for RE.


  4. Javier says:

    Thank you for the news, Roger.

    I guess European governments didn’t learn a damn thing from the diesel debacle. Due to government intervention now we have an environmental problem in the cities when it doesn’t rain. And now they want again to intervene the market trough regulation to ban non-EV cars. Nobody had to force people to buy fuel cars, yet the only way they see people buying EVs is by forcing them. This will end badly. In the end we will have to revolt against our governments as they always try to find ways of worsening our lives.

    • You’re welcome Javier. I actually learn quite a lot by putting Blowout together.

      But the world’s most successful EV program isn’t succeeding because of coercion. In 2015 a third of the cars sold in Norway were EVs. Why? Because government subsidies offset about 50% of the purchase price.

      • JerryC says:

        Well, it is kind of coercive because the government is using its taxing power to subsidize EV purchases. People don’t pay taxes voluntarily, you know.

        In any case, I’m not sure you can call the program successful just because dealers are moving a lot of EVs. Governments can cause just about any product to sell by applying a high enough subsidy level. What is the goal of the EV subsidy program? Affecting global warming? Clearly Norway is far too small to matter, even if AGW theory is perfectly true and man-made CO2 is the earth’s thermostat.

        • John ONeill says:

          You could say that about any group of five million people.
          ‘ What would happen if everybody behaved like you, Milligan ?’
          ‘ Well than I’d be a damn fool to do otherwise, Sir !’
          One of Norway’s incentives, though , was free access for electric vehicles on bus lanes and the like, which meant the bus lanes became clogged up with single user electric cars.

      • Javier says:

        Using tax power to intervene the markets isn’t exactly a paradigm of freedom.

        EVs are more expensive than ICs. You can get a perfectly good IC for 9,000 €, and used ICs go for much less. The average price paid for a new car in Spain is 19,000 €. The best selling EV is 35,000 € with subsidies. EVs have a very limited range. The result is that EVs are being bought by people of means as a second car for short range daily use. Average people are subsidizing rich people as they always do because the main goal of subsidies is to take money from a lot of people and to put it into the pockets of a few. Sadly average people are too ignorant to know this and so they are largely in favor of subsidies.

        If something doesn’t sell without subsidies and regulations, then it shouldn’t be subsidized and research should continue until a usable product at a right price is obtained. The idea that we live in rich countries that can afford these kind of inefficiencies is wrong. We live in deeply indebted countries that are living beyond their means and these type of policies are damaging to our economies making them less competitive.

        • A C Osborn says:

          I could not agree more.
          The more of these headlines I read the more I think that the world has gone mad.

          • Leo Smith says:

            Rather I am of the persuasion that the world has always been mad, but that we now have a communications system that renders it a bit more obvious….

        • Wookey says:

          “EVs are more expensive than ICs”.

          In initial purchase, yes, but not when considered over the lifetime of the vehicle, or at least it’s already very close and some EVs are cheaper than similar ICE cars. It seems almost certain that that line will be crossed reliably quite soon at which point we can expect EVs to become rather popular.

          • JerryC says:

            I can’t see how that’s possible. In the US, a new Nissan Leaf costs around $30K after subsidy, $37K pre-subsidy. You can get a new Nissan Versa ICE car for $12K.

            If you drive, say, 30 miles a day, the Versa would use about $700 a year in gas at $2/gallon or $1,400 a year at $4/gallon. So you are talking about a long, long wait to break even. Keep in mind that electricity ain’t free either, though I honestly have no idea how much it would cost to keep a Leaf charged up.

          • Beamspot. says:

            The main issue here, is battery life. And there is a line at the pirenees. South of it, Li batteries last <5 years, whatever you use them.

            So, in the PIGS (hey, I'm spanish) region, you have two options: use EV's as much as you can, or otherwise battery will offset you by very far.

            Tesla Model S costs about 10€/100Km just of battery. Leaf around 6. My 407 2.0HDi costs me about 5€ in gasoil.

            And don't forget that in China, EV's cause more CO2 than diesel counterparts.

    • Beamspot says:


      EV 1.0 dated one century, but it couldn’t compete with power density and storing abilities of FF. EV’s 2.0, dated by 2005 is the paradigm of Fiasco. Spanigh government estimations were that about 1M EV’s will be in use in Spain by 2015. Now, by the end of 2016, roughly 10000 EV’s (if Twizzy can be considered a car) are crossing Spanish roads.

      Renault Fluence ZEV was also a failure: Renault estimated 30000 units per year. After 4 years and less than a total of 4000 cars sold, the production line was closed.

      When I was appointed at R+D engineer in HEV in Nürmberng, the german multinational where I work had lost 700M€ in EV’s. Luckily, I resigned (officially due ‘personal reasons’, in fact, by other reasons) soon. My colleagues leaved one year and half and 1000M€ more losses later. Even by 2015, about 380 M€ of losses in HEV were provisioned.

      EV’s had been a failure, but not due lobbying issues.

      The main, big, the one and only problem is one well known and understood, but not accepted or at least, commonly publicized: cost of batteries.

      The cost of battery cells bottomed by the end of 2015, and now it is rising.

      EV’s are and will be expensive, not matter what you want. No way to drop prices to affordable levels.

      Governments and car manufacturers already know that.

      But, if EV 2.0 with incentives was a failure, now they go for EV 3.0. The trick is use the iron fist of taxes. They will crush us by taxes under the climate change excuse. Dieselgate and COP21 (check the timming, it is suspicious) are all smoke and mirrors, propaganda, social engineering.

      With diesel at Norwegian prices (say 3€/liter, last week I fill the tank at 0.998€/, of which about 0.56 were taxes), car taxes and operation costs (taxed) at those levels, FF cars will be too expensive, so EV’s will seem less expensive.

      But the result is a wealth pump, where the gross of population (>75% of European vehicles are Diesel, but gasoline will be also heavily charged too) will pay lots of taxes, and some rich people that can afford 100K€ cars, will have privileges , tax exemptions, and even subsidies.

      The end result, and that had been reported internally at the company where I still work, is that private ownership of EV’s will be a rich man privilege, while the remaining poor of use, the great unwashed, will use legs, by foot or by bicilcle.

      Cars will be reduced by 90%. And that will be a major shock for labour and workers. Economy will have serious side effects. Bu I guess those not explained side effects are exactly what those in power exactly want.

      This is a deep field to discuss, but I don’t have the time.

      Best regards,

  5. John F. Hultquist says:

    Regarding the making of fuel pellets “using only waste wood” – this hoax is getting old. Way back in the first half of the 1900s there were many small mills and sawdust and bark were considered waste. That changed as small operations were closed and the industry consolidated. Waste became fuel and the piles of “waste” no longer accumulated. Leaves and branches usually have been left in the forest to decay, protect the land, and provide nutrients.
    Someone deliberately fabricated this falsehood and the CAGW crowd, including the EU and UK bureaucrats ( No hear, speak, see evil ) seem quite happy to go along.

    It is good to see the usual environmental groups catch on to this hoax, finally.

    See the wiki link to Eugene Odum if the topic of southern ecosystems is of interest. I have a manuscript on “southern river swamps” from him (1960s, I think). Fascinating!

  6. Javier says:


    Great picture of Putin on top.

    Seems like Russia finally found a decent leader while the US is trying hard to sink into new lows.

  7. Alternet: America’s Southern Forests Are Being Decimated to Supply Europe With Energy

    “In recent years, industrial biomass companies have been exposed by organizations and leading media outlets to be sourcing whole hardwood trees from endangered wetland habitats for their pellets—evidence contrary to misleading industry promotions of their use of sawdust and “waste” wood. In addition, the notion that biomass is a “carbon neutral” energy source is scientifically unsound and based on a “serious carbon accounting error.””

    Biomass burning comes first in my recommendations for energy storage to back-up intermittent renewables.

    Renewable Energy storage that’s ready to go –

    1. Bio-mass power station burning wood-pellets that’s already operational.

    To lower the carbon footprint even further, switch to sourcing the wood from dry wild-fire susceptible forests of the American west, while switching away from wood sourced from wetland forests which act as a carbon sink.

    2. Wind and solar farms on-site energy storage, probably from power-to-gas, electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen gas, which is stored in tanks, then on demand gas-to-power either from Combined Cycle Gas Turbines or Hydrogen Fuel Cells.

    – best for making use of generator site surplus power that would otherwise have to be curtailed or constrained because there is no demand or the local grid is at transmission capacity.

    – options for power-to-gas & gas-to-power offshore can be developed too.

    3. New build pumped-storage hydro for the grid – decades old technology that is best suited to maximum efficiency storage and generation from surplus power which is transmitted via the grid.

    I recommended converting the now closed Longannet, Fife, Scotland coal-fired power station to biomass-burning as was done with Drax and if that’s too late, I’d recommend a new-build solid fuel (optimised for biomass but with options to burn coal just in case) burning power station for the Longannet site.

    In terms of carbon accounting for biomass, improvements are possible by reducing the carbon footprint by, [in addition to my point 1 (above) switching to wood-pellets sourced from wild-fire susceptible dry woodland] reducing the carbon footprint of the energy for transportation of the wood-pellets from as far away as the American west, as follows.

    With modified steam-turbine engines which generate steam by burning solid-fuel, It would be possible to power ships transporting wood-pellets by burning wood-pellets.

    Alternatively, there’s bio-diesel fuels which don’t require any changes in existing diesel-burning ship engines at all.

    The Americans (or indeed anyone) could build or modify a dedicated freight-only electrified two-way railway line which could be used to transport wood-pellets from the dry west to the east coast ports for shipping to Europe (and used to transport other nonperishable freight.)

    The electricity for the railway would be generated using renewable power from solar and wind farms. When there is no wind and no solar power, the trains could stop – but that would usually be no problem for a dedicated freight-only railway line, because there’s no passenger trains being held up behind.

    Where there are expensive bottlenecks in the railway infrastructure – bridges and tunnels, routes through urban areas which cannot be cost effectively replicated, which must be used by both the wood-pellet electrified freight and passenger trains, there would be conventionally powered rail-tractors to shunt a becalmed electrified train through the bottle neck to clear the way for passenger trains. So there wouldn’t have to be great expense in building new dedicated new bridges and tunnels, routes through urban areas.

    Duplicating railway infrastructure would obviously be easier for the great land masses of America, Russia and Australia – not quite so easy for this congested island and other countries in Europe but something we might want to consider. “Demand management” for electrified freight railways, so to speak.


    Scottish Scientist
    Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

    • Leo Smith says:

      What an unadulterated load of cat-belling EcoBollox that is to be sure.

      None of it is Practical

      English Engineer.
      Unfunded by anyone, so no axe to grind

      • What’s “impractical” and why?

        “They Laughed at Galileo: How the Great Inventors Proved Their Critics Wrong”

        “At some point in modern history, each and every one of our inventions and discoveries was first envisioned and then developed by a single person, or a handful of people, who dreamt of the seemingly impossible. For them, the future was clear and obvious, but for the vast majority, including the acknowledged experts of their days, such belief was sheer folly. ”

        • A C Osborn says:

          For an “Engineer” you seem to have little grasp of Efficiency.
          Both the things you have mentioned are far less efficient than the current methods.
          Wood Pellets are very poor Energy Density wise and any kind of Bio fuel is just a damned waste of Bio.
          Eco loons tend to forget that we NEED Oil for all the Plastics and other stuff we use.

        • Leo Smith says:

          The mere fact that you can post what you post, shows that you are no scientist and certainly not an engineer.

          Once you understand how science and engineering works, you know where breakthroughs are possible, and you also know where breakthroughs are not.

          And if you want me to take you seriously, please dont cite some poppy stab at the history of engineering for credulous 5 year olds.

        • robertok06 says:


          “What’s “impractical” and why?”

          It is difficult to decide from where to start, my friend…

          … how about his BS?

          “2. Wind and solar farms on-site energy storage, probably from power-to-gas, electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen gas, which is stored in tanks, then on demand gas-to-power either from Combined Cycle Gas Turbines or Hydrogen Fuel Cells.”

          You are suggesting using, in the UK!… the Land of Sunshine, right?… “excess electricity” from 50%) to then burn the H2 mixed with natural gas at a capacity factor of ~ 60%?…

          So, you are touting the marvels of a pseudo-technology that will never fly, because each “excess kWh” of your hyper-expensive, hyper-intermittent, hyper-seasonal, hyper-ridiculous PV panels would in the end generate 1×0.5×0.6=0.3 kWh of baseload electricity, therefore boosting the capital cost at least 3.3x higher, not to mention the astronomical costs of all the remainder of the process.

          Try again.

      • John F. Hultquist says:

        I have an axe I use to split firewood.

        I live in the “dry west” [central WA State on the lee side of the Cascades].
        Here is a link to a well-done presentation on wildfires.

        Attended one of the presentations about 2 weeks ago. A bit of global warming stuff in it but not enough to ruin the message. Namely fuel build-up during the last 100 years is going to burn in-place, mostly.
        Much will burn from lighting or other causes unintended.
        Prescribed fires will be much in the news and increased.

        Some will be removed, but not much. Steep land and environmental issues slow or stop such harvests.

        Even after a fire there is much difficulty and anguish, including lawsuits, about harvesting dead trees. I have 40,000 pounds of Ponderosa Pine that was taken from a ridge about 4 miles north of us. I know the logger and visited with him about these issues.

        Here is a link to a story about a recent fire north of us about 70 miles:

        DC10 over WA

        The plane in the photo passed over our place a dozen times 2 years ago.

        • Dave Ward says:

          “I have an axe I use to split firewood”

          I was looking through a machinery supply catalogue the other day, and couldn’t help laughing at the number of petrol & electric powered devices available to speed up traditional methods. I wonder if all those virtue seeking environmentalists ever think about the irony of using “evil” fossil fuels to (indirectly) supply their wood burners?

  8. The Dork of Cork says:

    Scottish science ignorant of thermodynamics…..

    British American biomass operations is merely a extension of the dash for gas policy post 1990.
    We are simply witnessing a capitalistic policy of raising prices by any and all means.

    A effective drive toward complexity and overbuild also witnessed in the European car market to a wild and absurd degree.
    People seem to be unaware of CH Douglas writings on this subject( industrial sabotage)
    War is the most extreme example.
    The winners can only effectively impose monopoly pricing after scarcity is created.

  9. John Kunka says:

    The electricity has to be generated somewhere ideally out of eye, and the range of electric vehicles is also very poor. And how long does it take to charge an electric vehicle if you want to travel more than the range of the batteries? Probably a good ploy to get cars off the road and encourage more cycling!

  10. Greg Kaan says:

    As an OT (blowout seems the best place for it) Crescent Dunes has managed 5 days of continuous output in July!
    They throttled output down to about 60% for 8 hours of the day but it looks like the storage was on its last legs in the hour before capturing resumed. See page 3

    Unfortunately, the period this trial took place was not given so we cannot check if there was any significant cloud cover during the trial.

    It will be interesting to see if Solar Reserve can bring down the costs (30% less construction) as they claim they will for South Africa.

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