How quickly things change…

Renewables are displacing fossil fuels at an astonishing rate in the shift from ancient sunlight to solar and silicon.

 

Oil is still the larger player and demand increased to record levels in 2018  yet the International Energy Agency reports:

“Electricity continues to position itself as the “fuel” of the future, with global electricity demand growing by 4% in 2018 to more than 23 000 TWh. This rapid growth is pushing electricity towards a 20% share in total final consumption of energy. Increasing power generation was responsible for half of the growth in primary energy demand.

Renewables were a major contributor to this power generation expansion, accounting for nearly half of electricity demand growth. China remains the leader in renewables, both for wind and solar, followed by Europe and the United States.”

 

We found out oil companies have been under-reporting their emissions.

Investing in oil right now is the equivalent of investing in Kodak, Blockbuster, or Motorola.

Some say hydrogen is the answer, I disagree.

Hydrogen-vs-EV-redlight

 

However, in the disruption, it is hard to keep up, every day is a new milestone.

 

 

 

 

China is way out in front. Way out.

 

 

There is a roadmap to sustainability and it is is well underway driven by unsubsidized renewables and staggering battery cost drops still in 2019.

“The latest technology cost analysis released by research company BloombergNEF shows that battery storage costs have fallen by more than one third since the first half of 2018, and even wind and solar have also fallen by another 10 per cent 18 per cent respectively over that time. Offshore wind is down 24 per cent over the last year”

tesla battery.PNG

 

 

Offshore wind is also a $200 billion powerhouse; the wind blows when the sun doesn’t shine, and batteries are there to store power for in between.

wind offshore

 

How many words are pictures worth?

I’ll sum this video up with pictures..

Oil is trying to extract every last cent. Low prices are recessions, high prices are wars.

oil price

 

Meanwhile technologies have been converging for 40 years to a critical turning point..

trend

 

Since 2010 the price for solar has dropped exponentially, globally. Red dotted line is coal and oil power generation cost.

solar vs tradit world

solar.PNG

 

 

And the storage technologies are ramping up as well.

types.PNG

 

solar growth.PNG

These are old numbers…

 

battery.PNG

 

 

Cheaper batteries means cheaper EV’s

2015 cost.PNG

 

tesla vs forcast

 

Yes, Big Oil knows.

oil3.PNG

 

oil.PNGoil1.PNG

Consider, Dubai is building the worlds largest solar array for 13 billion.

 

Now you know.

 

What will Alberta do now that revenues have dropped from 6 billion to 1 billion and people are out of work? Drilling for geothermal is an easy lateral move.

 

Stay tuned as the disruption accelerates…

What about battery storage?

We have touched on energy storage here and here, but lets put some more of it together.

Grid storage, home storage, vehicle storage and more will all help distribute power and support local microgrids through peak demand and storms and outages.

We already know lithium ion battery storage works well. The worlds largest battery installation was completed in 88 days in South Australia , cost $66 million to build and saved $40 million in its first 12 months. (Yes Flat Earthers, Australia exists).

The technical report is here.

However cobalt and other rare earth minerals can be problematic also. Fortunately there are many solutions being developed that are cheap, non-toxic, and use nothing in short supply.

Flow batteries that don’t use vanadium are in development for city scale storage.

New concepts like MIT’s “Sun in a Box” offer promise:

“The new design stores heat generated by excess electricity from solar or wind power in large tanks of white-hot molten silicon, and then converts the light from the glowing metal back into electricity when it’s needed. The researchers estimate that such a system would be vastly more affordable than lithium-ion batteries, which have been proposed as a viable, though expensive, method to store renewable energy. They also estimate that the system would cost about half as much as pumped hydroelectric storage — the cheapest form of grid-scale energy storage to date.”

Reminder, silicon is the second most abundant element on earth.

MIT is no slouch in large scale renewable, dirt cheap energy storage with new concepts for 50 year old technologies like batteries that use captured carbon, and proven liquid metal storage solutions already in development, now marketed as Ambri, set for larger scale deployment in the 2020’s:

 

There is no shortage of energy storage technologies:

The following list includes a variety of types of energy storage:

 

 

Stacking bricks, or  gravitational potential energy operate on the same principle as hydroelectric dams.

How does it work? As power demand decreases, the cranes surround themselves with concentric rings of the concrete bricks lifted by the leftover power from surrounding wind and solar farms. Once demand increases, the cranes begin lowering the bricks, which powers turbines that transform the kinetic energy into electricity that gets pumped back into the grid”

 

Swedish scientists have invented liquid that can store solar energy for 18 years.

 

Chinese scientists have invented solar panels that can harness energy from rain, at night even:

 

Even in the US, “The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy”.

From microorganisms that create liquid fuel 10x cheaper than biofuels, to longer term grid storage, to a plethora of other projects, even Trumps America is forging ahead.

We have seen 18 year solar energy storage, heard about infinite storage breakthrough, and Australia says no breakthroughs are needed to transition to renewable, today.

The global race for large, cheap, clean storage is just beginning, and off to a roaring start….

The Climate Pressure

I have avoided Climate Change for most of this blog except here at the first entry. The rest has been highlighting a few of the trends, technologies, and costs in a purely economic sense that are converging to disrupt and crush the oil industries from the outside in spite of Governments, not because of them.

 

Still, I’m not going to bother proving Anthropogenic Climate Change which is a certainty from Antarctic ice samples going back over 400,000 years, 97% of the Global scientific community knows.

 

This entry will focus on the public reaction and pressure which only signals the latent demand for fast, effective, dramatic solutions, akin to preparing for war, globally. Groups all around the world are taking to the streets, bridges, and malls.

 

As I write this, I see this poll:

Van emerg.

 

Now 200,000 Canadian companies are calling for a carbon tax.

 

Groups around the globe are increasing pressure on governments on all levels, from calling for complete destruction of modern civilization, to local governments turning to oil and gas companies to pay their share of climate change costs.

 

As already covered, Kids are suing governments, and winning.

 

Many countries are pledging carbon neutral in 12-30 years, with 4 on track for 2020.

 

Despite this RCMP in Canada are staging an illegal invasion of sovereign First Nations territory, to push through a LNG Pipeline, going against the United Nations:

Article 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories.” Any removal of Wet’suwet’en peoples by the RCMP, or any other authoritarian forces, will directly violate UNDRIP and the Trudeau government’s promise to implement UNDRIP”

 

Even in 2015, low oil prices were no threat to renewables in the Middle East, ‘Indeed, it is interesting to note that the world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, is now installing solar at many of its installations to save on oil costs, and to allow more oil to be exported.”

lng

 

The old story about natural gas as a bridge to reducing carbon just doesn’t add up anymore…

 

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the World is watching….

Hey Alberta…watch out

I’ve been to Alberta many times, from the cities to the edge of the oil fields/Tar Sands. Friends and acquaintances work in Oil and Gas; I’m saying the Oil Emperor wears no clothes.

 

There are 5 Trillion dollars on the table in switching to renewables.

trillions.PNG

Source.

This is not political or environmental, it is financial. Oil and Gas cannot compete against this technological disruption as we switch from carbon to silicon.

 

Where to start…how about that pipeline taxpayers are on the hook for…

 

The pipeline is such a bad investment, the big money that only cares about money, knows it is already a stranded asset and fossil fuels are on their last  legs, and has known for years. The falling price of oil and gas continues despite many production reductions worldwide. Extending the 65 yr old pipeline for billions of dollars to pump more oil and gas at a loss will not help increase falling prices…

 

The Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the US are not cutting oil production and increased to record levels in 2018, keeping prices low for at least the next year as the in US “production surged from 10 million to 11.6 million barrels a day”. The day before Bloomberg says OPEC and Russia will trim production slightly in 2019 to attempt to stabilize the price. We  will see.

 

Canadian producers say it well themselves:Cenovus

 

Expensive operations like Tar Sands and Deep Water are feeling it first. The price is expected to stay at $50-$40, then drop to $25 by 2022 or 2025. This means no more Tar Sands or pipeline extraction as it simply will not be viable no matter the political or environmental reasons.

Recently the Tar sands liability was calculated:

liability

Others prefer to frame it as there are decades of employment in cleaning up the tar sands mess.

“”We don’t need another pipeline or gargantuan bitumen mine to pump money into the coffers of multinational oil companies. On the contrary, the much greater economic opportunity lies in cleaning up the mess they have already profited from”.

 

Renewables already beat Gas in Alberta in terms of price in 2017. First Nations seem to know which way the wind is blowing and are creating 1000 jobs with a 1.2 billion dollar partnership with private companies for renewable power.

 

Big oil was looking at battery partnerships in 2017, and investing billions in renewables. The solar and renewable revolution will displace aging nuclear and expensive fuels even in Japan.

 

Many Oil and Gas companies that cannot produce for $30-$50 are poised to go the way of coal, for purely economic, free market reasons, nothing to do with a blockaded pipeline.

 

Even the Saudis are building solar.

 

Wind power in Alberta is already the cheapest energy. What say you Alberta?

 

Renewable energy will beat all fossil fuels by 2020. Still think we should built a pipeline?

 

In a surprise twist, the “Canadian Chamber of Commerce solidly backs carbon pricing“. Who would want to make trillions investing in renewables?

Short recap, fossil fuels are dying out globally. This is disruption and pure business and not a climate change debate.

Renewables and transportation are coming together to eat the oil industry. Fossil fuels are on their last legs.

 

This technology disruption is happening despite governments, not because of them and is simple economics, fossil fuels cannot compete. If you have any doubt,  watch this video and get back to me .

 

Even Forbes in Jan of 2018 knows renewables will beat fossil fuels in every market on Earth by 2020.

 

The IEA has been constantly wrong about the growth of solar.

 

Renewables beat fossil fuels already in Alberta in 2017. Cheaper than coal or natural gas, this is old news, and not years in the future.

 

Cradle to cradle offers an abundant future.

 

 

Economics needs a redesign also.

 

Tesla is destroying the auto market, in the best way.

 

Even the military is into renewables.

 

There is lots more below and all with citations or links as jumping off points. Enjoy!

 

 

But we need oil for plastics! Not forever and here is why.

We have heard about microfibers from doing laundry, the great garbage patch in ocean gyres, and plastic in seafood. Aside from clean up efforts, how do we phase it out beyond plastic bags, straws, and single use bottles?

 

“Plastics are environmental migraines for a host of reasons: Oil is one of their main building blocks, many are made from known carcinogens, and most don’t break down in landfills…So-called bio-plastic companies, using organic ingredients like chicken feathers, algae and soy, compose less than 1 percent of the $560 billion industry, but they’re growing at 20 percent a year”.

 

Some places are banning plastic altogether:

 

Mycelium, hemp and other non-toxic solutions are the new emerging field in 100% cradle to cradle recycle-ability, zero waste design.

 

 

From Starch based packing peanuts you can wash away in the garden; to mycelium surfboards; to leather type material; to “running shoes, filtration, makeup applicators, apparel, and cellular scaffolding for lab grown meat … complex biodegradable shapes according to specific densities and material compositions for applications ranging from packaging, home accessories, and other smaller moulded shapes where achieving a complex geometry is important…blocks of mycelium and wood”; to tables, lamps, and wall tiles; to “solutions for the fields of bio-architecture and design”; and you can grow it at home.

 

Many of these products exist today, the future is just getting started.

 

Hemp, not just the cry of potheads and environmentalists, hemp materials are in demand.

 

Hemp is already being made into compressed door panel and dashboards. Carmakers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc.”

 

“The companies Titan Hemp has formed a joint venture with Green Growers Technology Alliance (GGTA) to create a new company, Titan BioPlastics – a manufacturing and development entity focused on  “plant-based composites and products for a wide variety of manufacturing applications, including packaging, nanotechnology, bio-polymers, construction, and bioplastics”, and they have the technical expertise to deliver”.

 

Some estimates say we are years away and of course would need wide investment and to scale up however companies are making remarkable disruptive advances today.

 

The point is none of these are a silver bullet by themselves for displacing oil based plastics but together they are scaling up and developing  a myriad of applications.

 

Bioplastics have massive potential, expect to hear much more on this…

US a laughing stock at climate conference. Military continues investment in renewables.

Coal provides under 70,000 jobs in the US, solar about 300,000. Production is declining swiftly, despite Trump. Over half of all coal plants have closed since 2009. Coal is on the way out at an increasing speed, despite misinformation.

Pictures are better than words here.

Bankrupt

In pictures from Wikipedia:

Workers

“Coal exports to China, formerly one of the major markets, declined from 8.3 million short tons in 2013, down to 0.2 million tons in 2015″.

Don’t like Wikipedia? Try Business Insider, “prices of renewables have fallen dramatically — the cost of building a solar photovoltaic plant has fallen by about 80 percent since 2009, making it more financially feasible for states to invest in solar and wind power…”

Coal is finished, lets move on…

 

On the World stage, the US Energy secretary was openly mocked and laughed at at UN Climate conference for sticking with FF and nuclear, as shown by Young Turks:

 

 

Even the US military understands the need for renewables for national security:

“Military is not going to change its stance on renewable energy because it has already made the justification for and the connection between, green energy and resilience. Resilience resonates with the new [Trump] administration, so it will not change the military’s energy policy. The military will not only continue to increase its use of renewable energy, but will also create value through renewables and strengthen their reliability.”

The military gets it for their own reasons:

“The reasons have nothing to do with the white-hot debate over climate change. In combat zones, green energy saves lives by, for instance, reducing the need for easily attacked convoys to deliver diesel fuel to generators at U.S. bases. Mobile solar-power units allow soldiers to prowl silently through enemy territory.

At sea, gas-electric hybrid battleships save fuel and allow for fewer stops – making them less vulnerable to attacks like the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, when al-Qaeda militants killed 17 U.S. soldiers during a refueling stop in Yemen”.

The renewable race is allowing for interesting partnerships with First nations and US Government agencies and military.

Renewables are more secure, and this report, explains why and every branch of the US military is increasing investment in renewables.

military

Source.

China Vs. Canada, who pollutes more?

But China is the largest polluter! I hear that trope all the time. This is true on a per country basis however On a per capita measure of actual garbage, Canadians are the worst on the planet. China does have problem areas to be sure disproportionate to income level and is a major concern globally and yet we still have to look at ourselves.

“The 720 kilos per capita of waste produced annually by every Canadian is about twice what is produced per capita in Japan, and as much as 10 times what is produced by a half-dozen countries in Africa. More alarmingly, our production is seven per cent higher than per capita ouput of waste in the United States, which all but invented consumer excess.”

If Canada had the same population as China we would contribute double or triple the pollution as China. Rich, developed countries make the most pollution.

Canadians emit nearly 4 times the carbon per person as the Chinese; Canadians are at 15.12 tonnes per person Vs 4.6 tonnes per person for China.

A more useful measurement is carbon emissions per capita (person). Under that measurement, the average American is responsible for 19.8 tonnes per person, and the average Chinese citizen clocks in at 4.6 tonnes.

Examining CO2 per capita around the world also shows us the gulf between the developed world’s responsibility for climate change and that of the developing world. While Australia is on 20.6 tonnes per person (partly because of its reliance on CO2-intensive coal) and the UK is half that at 9.7 (explained in part by relatively CO2-light gas power stations), India is on a mere 1.2. Poorer African nations such as Kenya are on an order magnitude less again – the average Kenyan has a footprint of just 0.3 tonnes (a figure that’s likely to drop even lower with the country’s surge in wind power).”

carbon per capita

The fear was always that China or India would consume and waste at North American levels, in which case its game over for the climate and oceans. Blaming China and India is a bit like rich countries  blaming poorer countries for problems created by the rich countries.

Interestingly, the global per capita emissions are flat-lining and even decreasing as of 2014 even though North America is back on the rise; this is because India and China developing nations are leapfroging into accelerating clean, renewable energy at a breathtaking pace.

“2016 was the first time solar energy growth had surpassed any other fuel as a source of power.”

world

Last year China invested 78 billion in solar, compared to Germany’s 13 billion. China is investing a staggering 361 billion dollars in solar by 2020 to reduce its coal dependence which still about provides 2/3 of China’s power. This will make China the world leader in solar by far.

“Last year was the eighth in a row in which global investment in renewables exceeded $200 billion (€163.2 billion), the report states, adding that since 2004, the world has invested about $2.9 trillion in green energy sources.

The lion’s share of this investment went into expanding solar power production, with the world installing a record 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity last year, far more than the net additions of any other technology — renewable, fossil fuel or nuclear.”

More than half of the solar power installed last year was in China. In the next 5 years or less the world will install more solar than the last 80 years.

Source: Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018

Kenya is installing the continents largest wind farm that will generate 25% of its electricity

Developing countries are leading the way with solar.

solar growth

The size and climate and sparse population of Canada means we will be high energy users by default. Canada is 9.985 million km² with 36.71  million people, China is 9.597 million km² with 1.386 billion people; you can fit the population of Canada in China 37.8 times.

If BC were at German levels of population there would be 200 million people instead of 4.8 million.

Vancouver Island about 80% the size of Holland with 800,000 instead of 16.4 million people.

Importing food, fuel, and goods and transporting them such vast distances combined with cold weather and massive natural resources means we Canadians will always have a higher carbon footprint, and there is  lot of room for improvement.

 

 

Oil and Gas is threatened and scrambling to adapt to the clean technology energy disruption.

*Page links updated and working now! Please contact me with any issues.*

 

 

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “The world of energy is witnessing rapid and disruptive changes. Renewables already account for around a quarter of global electricity generation. In the last six years, renewable power capacity additions outpaced additions from fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. However, if we are to meet our climate goals, renewables deployment must accelerate six times faster than today.”

Solar, wind, and battery storage are today, not the future; 1000 community energy sharing co-operatives in Germany have made the utilities drop fossil fuels and go all in on clean renewable energy management, or perish. How long did that take? About 10 years. This video is 2 yrs old, this town produces 500% more energy than it needs:

How much trouble is oil and gas in? Kids are suing governments all over the world, and winning.

The Trans Mountain pipeline the Canadian government bought is already a stranded asset. The Tar Sands in Canada would take 130 billion260 billion to clean up, again, taxpayers are on the hook. Side note, as Canadians we are the biggest polluters on the planet per capita; the onus is on us to shift the way we operate.

liability

But we need oil and gas for plastics!

No.

 

Scientists in Sweden have invented and tested a fluid that can store solar energy for 18 years, attracting investors.

As Tony Seba points out, any investment in oil and gas today is a stranded asset. If that video link is too long, this written summary does it without all the graphs.

Solar and wind is so powerful India is adding battery storage to handle the energy overproduction. From 2017:

“India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – with the price for solar electricity “free falling” to levels once considered impossible.

Analyst Tim Buckley said the shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India would have “profound” implications on global energy markets”.

 Tide and wave power generation possibility in BC is mind boggling.

Teslas Gigafactory 1 is 2 years ahead of schedule with 10-20 more worldwide starting or being planned this year; It would take 100 Gigafactories to transition the entire world off fossil fuels. China is doing it even faster. “The “giga” comes from gigawatt-hour, which is enough energy to power one million homes for an hour”.

Wait, what about mining lithium? Won’t we just have a new scarcity and rare earth element scramble? “The Bloomberg 2017 New Energy Outlook predicts that $10.2 trillion will be spent on new power generation worldwide through 2040, and a massive 72 percent of this will be invested in new wind and solar plants”. How will we store the excess? “According to an article published by TIME, “lithium mining, as observed in countries with deposits like Chile, Argentina and China, seems to be less hazardous than other kinds of mineral extraction. ‘Lithium could be one of the least contaminating mining processes… so while the environmental impact might not be worse than mountaintop mining, it’s going to be important to pay attention to the environmental impact, because there will be one”. Lithium is flooded out however, not mined.

Australia is working hard on alternative battery and energy storage solutions. Energy storage is the new race.

Flow batteries are a suitable for large scale storage, and use no lithium.

Big, dirt cheap, extremely long lasting, liquid metal renewable battery systems have been in development for years and offer amazing performance, don’t use rare earth minerals, and are very powerful.

Right on schedule, the price of Canadian oil drops and Cenovus cuts production:

Cenovus

As EV’s increase uptake, oil will continually have to cut production to avoid price drops. Canada can’t influence the world price much if  at all.

Stay tuned as the race continues….

 

Autos and Transportation

The BC Government has plans to address climate change by 2030, 12 years from now and reduce GHG emissions by 40%, 80% by 2050; This does not go far enough, fast enough. The current plan for moving people, goods, green infrastructure, adapting highways, and a skimpy paragraph about the 38% of BC’s greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation network. It sounds like the usual Government rhetoric to the cynic in me and the market will move faster than gov’t..

 

Fortunately, electric vehicles are better than FF vehicles, getting cheaper and getting more range every day with sales surpassing all forecasts. There are at least 10 electric cars available in Canada in 2018. Volkswagon is testing a $30,000 car with 500 km+ range set for mass production soon.

 

Autonomous, self driving, electric autos powered by solar and storage grid will drive 95% of passenger miles by 2030 and completely disrupt transportation and energy, despite governments, not because of them. People love not driving. From the city to the racetrack, the autonomous race is on with 46 Corporations pursuing autonomous technology in 2018.

 

Electric is more powerful, and efficient, with ten percent the maintenance and 1/10 the fuel cost and up 3-5 times the lifespan. Faster than Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) vehicles and up-gradable overnight like your cell phone, you leave home everyday with a full tank. When they hit $22,000 by 2021, how can ICE vehicles compete?

 

I started a blog 4 years ago and Tesla has beat the odds.