Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday 31

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

After the Storm, Puerto Rico Misses a Chance to Rebuild with Renewables

Eight months after Hurricane Maria damaged 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, energy expert Lionel Orama-Exclusa talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the island is missing an opportunity to transform its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable sources.


Damage from Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico in October 2017. The storm compromised about 80 percent of the island's electrical grid. (Credit: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico last September, the storm’s 155 mile-per-hour winds tore apart the island’s infrastructure, killing thousands of people and leaving the entire island without electricity, in some cases for months.  In the wake of the storm, renewable energy proponents and the media observed that the island’s devastation provided a unique opportunity to rebuild Puerto Rico as a resilient community powered largely by renewable energy.

One of the most vocal advocates for transforming the country’s post-Maria energy system has been Lionel Orama-Exclusa, an engineer and sustainable energy expert at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.  But to the chagrin of Orama-Exclusa and others, in the eight months since the storm, the island has made almost no headway in laying the foundation for a renewable energy economy.  Although government officials have given lip service to microgrids and renewables, “there’s no building back better anywhere you look,” says Orama-Exclusa.  He lamented that in late May the director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) was touting continued carbon generation using coal and “totally dropping the possibility of renewables because he said renewables are so expensive.” 

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Orama-Exclusa, also a leader of the University of Puerto Rico’s National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability, talks about Puerto Rico’s enormous potential to develop solar and wind power, the government’s continued preference for fossil fuels, and whether the island and its energy infrastructure are ready for a new hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.

Yale Environment 360:  What state is Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure in today, eight months after Hurricane Maria?
Lionel Orama-Exclusa:  According to PREPA, it’s close to 99 percent recovered.  But we are not sure of that.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Puerto Rico delivered a lot of emergency generators, specifically to hospital facilities and to aqueduct facilities.  As far as we know, at least a third of those facilities, hospitals, and aqueduct plants are still working with emergency generators.  If that’s the case, I am pretty sure we are not close to 99 percent, not even 95 percent, recovered.  That doesn’t count, also, the people that are relying on their own generators, [living] without any electricity at all, or depending an improvised microgrids that some of the communities are developing right now.

After eight months, it’s difficult for a lot of people.  A lot of people are getting sick — mentally sick and physically sick just because they don’t have access to energy.  Financially it’s been very difficult for people to survive this emergency.

e360:  Following the storm, you and your colleagues argued that Puerto Rico needed to rebuild its energy infrastructure using renewable energy technology. Is progress being made in that direction?
Orama-Exclusa:  In my opinion, they have done nothing other than talking about it.  They have been talking about microgrids and building back better.  But, up to this point, there’s no building back better anywhere you look.  Even this month, the director of PREPA was talking in favor of continued carbon generation using coal, totally dropping the possibility of renewables because he said renewables are so expensive and coal is very inexpensive.

In Puerto Rico, right now, the most effective solution is rooftop solar, without batteries.  Even with batteries, at least for an emergency, you can have rooftop solar with some energy storage for less than 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.  And we’re paying 21 cents to PREPA [for fossil fuel-generated electricity].  The best thing is rooftop solar.  Obviously, in the meantime, we will need some fossil fuel generators.  We believe that those generators have to be small, flexible, and based on natural gas or biogas to accommodate the most penetration possible of renewables.  That has been our message.

e360:  Realistically, could solar and wind power 100 percent of the island?
Orama-Exclusa:  A couple of our researchers studied that question, and they discovered that we have enough renewable resources — wind, solar, water [hydropower], and biomass — to energize twice our actual consumption. It’s not that we can go 100 percent, we can even go 200 percent.

The other fact is that we spend $8 million on fossil fuels every day.  That is close to $3 billion on fossil fuels for electricity alone every year.  That money goes out of Puerto Rico, out of our economy. If we develop renewables, those monies will stay in the island.

So why are we still battling with fossil fuels?  In my opinion, it’s a political decision more than anything else.  There is no [official] vision in Puerto Rico to get to 100 percent [renewables].  Even today, if you hear what the PREPA and government officials are proposing, it is about 20 percent renewables by 2035.  It’s amazing that other parts of the world with a lot fewer renewable resources than we have are hoping for and are shooting for 100 percent, and we aren’t.

Read more at After the Storm, Puerto Rico Misses a Chance to Rebuild with Renewables

EV Sales to Triple by 2020

Evolution of the global electric car stock, 2013-17 (Credit: oilprice.com) Click to Enlarge.
Electric vehicle sales are finally starting to take off in larger numbers, surpassing 1 million in 2017 after growing 56 percent from a year before.  By 2020 sales are expected to rise to about 4 million and before jumping to 21.5 million in EV sales by 2030.

The grow rate of EV sales has been rather high for several years, but always from a low base.  Now that base is starting to build, making the additions more meaningful.  The global EV stock grew above 3 million last year, but could triple to 13 million over the next two years, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.  Electric buses are also making rapid headway, with the stock rising to 370,000 units, almost exclusively because of China.

The falling cost of batteries is a crucial ingredient in the acceleration of EV sales.  The high cost of batteries are the main reason why EVs cost more than a traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle, so ongoing cost declines are a pivotal factor in the success of EVs.

Norway has “the world’s most advanced market of electric cars” with a 39 percent market share for EVs, while China is far and away the leader in absolute numbers.

As the IEA notes, the countries with the most success in rolling out EVs have led with policy support, including public procurement programs, financial incentives, fuel-economy standards, and restrictions on vehicles based on emissions.

Norway is an interesting case since EVs have grabbed nearly 40 percent market share in terms of sales in just a few years.  Norway offers EVs exemptions for a value-added tax (VAT) and registration tax, free access to toll roads and tax rebates.  Meanwhile, the Netherlands actually saw a dip in EV sales and market share over the past few years after a tax change, demonstrating the strong link that EV sales have with policy at the moment.

Over the long-term, a growing list of countries are set to ban the internal combustion engine, forcing a phase out of gasoline and diesel vehicles.  France and the UK will do it by 2040,  Scotland by 2032, while Ireland, the Netherlands, and Slovenia will implement bans by 2030.  Norway is aiming for 2025.  An even longer list of cities – including Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, London, Cape Town, Mexico City, and more – will introduce access restrictions on their roads for gasoline and diesel vehicles, many of which will be implemented by 2030.

So, while EVs still depend on policy support, the trend is clear:  EV costs are declining, while restrictions on gasoline and diesel will rise.

Looking forward, the IEA’s main scenario, which incorporates existing and announced policies, sees the EV stock reaching 125 million by 2030, a figure that would balloon to 220 million if more aggressive climate policies were adopted.

So, while EVs still depend on policy support, the trend is clear:  EV costs are declining, while restrictions on gasoline and diesel will rise.

Looking forward, the IEA’s main scenario, which incorporates existing and announced policies, sees the EV stock reaching 125 million by 2030, a figure that would balloon to 220 million if more aggressive climate policies were adopted.

The 3 million EVs already on the roads last year displaced about 0.38 million barrels per day (mb/d) of oil demand.  By 2030 EVs will knock off 2.57 mb/d of oil demand, or 4.74 mb/d in the more aggressive scenario incorporating more climate policy.

Even the higher number is a rather small figure in a 100-million-barrel-per-day oil market, but prices are largely decided at the margins.  U.S. shale was largely responsible for crashing the entire market in 2014 after adding nearly 4 mb/d over the course of a few years.  Oil demand won’t disappear overnight, but as EVs scale up, they could certainly keep a hard cap on oil prices, more or less permanently.

The report comes a week after Bloomberg New Energy Finance came to similar conclusions.  BNEF said that EVs will beat the internal combustion engine on cost within a decade, putting EVs on track to capture a majority of auto sales on an annual basis by 2040.  That would erase more than 7 mb/d of oil demand by that date.

Read more at EV Sales to Triple by 2020

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wednesday 30

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Consumer Reports Recommends Tesla's Model 3 After Braking Fix

Tesla Model 3 (Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports said on Wednesday that it now recommended Tesla Inc’s Model 3 sedan after its latest tests showed that a firmware update improved the car’s braking distance by nearly 20 feet.

The magazine last week flagged “big flaws” in the car, including braking slower than a full-sized pickup truck, while also highlighting many positives.

Tesla shares rose 2.5 percent to $290.80 on Wednesday after the report.

The Model 3 sedan is seen as crucial to Tesla’s profitability at a time when it is battling to reverse production shortfalls, confronting reports of crashes involving its vehicles and facing increased skepticism over its finances.

The update improved the Model 3’s overall score enough for a recommendation, said Consumer Reports, which had also raised other concerns such as the car’s wind noise, stiff ride and uncomfortable rear seat.

"Really appreciate the high quality critical feedback from @ConsumerReports.  Road noise & ride comfort already addressed too.  UI improvements coming via remote software update later this month," Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in a tweet here in response to the report.
...
Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, said he had never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update in his 19-year career at the magazine.

Read more at Consumer Reports Recommends Tesla's Model 3 After Braking Fix

Panasonic Plans to Develop Cobalt-Free Car Batteries

A logo of Panasonic Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, October 2, 2017. (Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai) Click to Enlarge.
Tesla Inc’s battery cell supplier Panasonic Corp said on Wednesday it is aiming to develop automotive batteries without using cobalt in the near future amid soaring prices of the key battery ingredient.

Top battery makers are scrambling to reduce cobalt content in lithium-ion batteries as prices of the mineral have multiplied over the recent years and the spread of electric vehicles is expected to result in cobalt shortages eventually.

“We have already cut down cobalt usage substantially,” Kenji Tamura, who is in charge of Panasonic’s automotive battery business, said at a meeting with analysts.

“We are aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future, and development is underway.”

Panasonic is the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 sedan, producing the cells at their joint Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada.

Tesla said early this month that battery cells used in Model 3 have achieved the highest energy density while “significantly reducing cobalt content,” as well as increasing nickel content and still maintaining superior thermal stability.

Read more at Panasonic Plans to Develop Cobalt-Free Car Batteries

Illinois Can Subsidize Nuclear Power If It Wants:  U.S. FERC Brief

The Clinton Nuclear Generating Station, located in central Illinois, operated by Exelon Corp (Credit: Exelon Corp) Click to Enlarge.
U.S. energy regulators said federal rules do not preempt Illinois’ program to provide money to nuclear reactors that provide carbon-free energy to help prevent the units from shutting early, according to a filing with a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made their comments in a brief on Tuesday in an appeal of a case brought by power generators opposed to Illinois’ Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) program.

Several nuclear reactors in the United States are in danger of shutting for economic reasons because cheap and abundant natural gas from shale formations and subsidies paid to renewable energy projects have reduced power prices to their lowest levels on record in several parts of the country.

Illinois adopted the ZEC program in 2016 to keep some nuclear power plants in service to help meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals after Illinois power company Exelon Corp said it would shut its Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants because they were losing money.

In most states, the bulk of carbon-free energy comes from nuclear power plants.

Power generators, like NRG Energy Inc and Vistra Energy Inc, challenged the Illinois law in federal court, arguing it favors nuclear power over other energy resources, like gas, and boosts consumers’ costs, among other things.

That legal challenge continues in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The U.S. Justice Department and FERC submitted their brief after the court invited the United States to file its opinion of the case.  That brief is not a decision in the case.

“We remain confident that the courts will uphold the view of policymakers and regulators who support the continued operation of Illinois’ nuclear plants and the environmental benefits they provide for consumers,” Exelon said in a statement.

Read more at Illinois Can Subsidize Nuclear Power If It Wants:  U.S. FERC Brief

Big Oil Pivots to Electricity, Total Leads the Way

Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s CEO (Credit: energypost.eu) Click to Enlarge.
Most big oil companies are considering how they can change their focus from oil to gas and renewables.  Leading the way is French oil major Total, writes Fereidoon Sioshansi, publisher of newsletter EEnergy Informer.

Oil and water, as everyone knows, do not mix – and until now – the same was true of oil and electricity.  The two industries have different cultures and are run by different types of people.

Over time, however, three things began to change:  First was the rise of natural gas – increasingly used for power generation – within what was traditionally oil-dominated business.  Second – a more recent phenomenon – is the rise of renewables also playing a growing role in power generation, especially in countries and states with mandatory carbon-reduction and/or rising renewable targets.

A third reason, at least for oil majors who are forward-looking, is the realization that the continued growth in demand for oil, which has historically been driven by the transport sector, may be coming to an end due to the expected rise of electric vehicles (EVs).

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that virtually all oil majors have been internalizing what may be the potential impacts of these 3 trends on their long-term business prospects and whether the time has arrived to adjust how they invest and plan for the future.

Aggressively expanding
The change in focus has been in the making for some time.  All oil majors, for example, have come to recognize the growing role of natural gas – now extensively used for power generation the world over – in their portfolios.  But the threat posed by the expected rise of EVs and renewables is yet to be acknowledged by most, at least publicly.

In April 2018 the French oil major Total announced that it was not only aggressively expanding its footprint into gas and renewables but went a step further by acquiring an electricity distribution company.

During the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas in March 2018, Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s CEO, revealed that Total was pivoting to become a major natural gas and electricity company as it moves towards lower carbon energy sources.  Perhaps people listening to his speech did not read between the lines when he said instead of being an oil-and-gas company, “maybe we will become … a gas-and-oil company,” as reported in the April 2018 issue of this newsletter.

He then stunned many in the audience when he revealed that he was an EV driver.  When the CEO of an oil company publicly admits that he is driving an electric car, you know you have reached a tipping point.  Mr. Pouyanné is simply the latest convert.  He has discovered what many have been saying for some time.

Read more at Big Oil Pivots to Electricity, Total Leads the Way

Keeping Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Could Spare Millions Pain of Dengue Fever

The tropical disease is spread by mosquitoes that thrive in the wetter, hotter conditions that accompany climate change.


Under mosquito nets, young patients are treated for dengue fever at a hospital in Paraguay. Limiting global warming could avoid millions of new cases each year, research shows. (Credit: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Faster international action to control global warming could halt the spread of dengue fever in the Western Hemisphere and avoid more than 3 million new cases a year in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of the century, scientists report.

The tropical disease, painful but not usually fatal, afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world.  There is no vaccine, so controlling its spread by reining in global warming would be a significant health benefit.

The study is one of several recently published that attempt to quantify the benefits of cutting pollution fast enough to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.  It also projects infection patterns at 2 degrees of warming and 3.7 degrees, a business-as-usual case.

Scientists have predicted that climate change could create the wetter, hotter conditions that favor diseases spread by various insects and parasites.  This study focuses on one widespread disease and on one geographical region.

Half a Degree Can Make a Big Difference
Published May 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study was conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and the Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso in Brazil.

Read more at Keeping Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Could Spare Millions Pain of Dengue Fever

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tuesday 29

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Northeast Charging Infrastructure Anticipates EV Charging Expansion

Northeast charging infrastructure (Photo Credit: mariordo59 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA) Click to Enlarge.
The northeast corridor, from the Washington DC metro area to Maine, is a heavily populated area that is poised to become one of the world’s leading electric vehicle (EV) markets.  Working collaboratively, a dozen northeast US states developed a set of recommendations titled the Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure to advance public and private investments in electric car charging and increase the use of electric cars throughout the region.  The strategy incorporates input from automobile manufacturers, utilities, EV charging companies, and others.

On May 16, 2018, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia announced support for expanding the network of fast charging stations along their heavily traveled corridors.  The recommendations included utility actions to lower the costs of charging at home, especially at multi-unit dwellings where high upfront installation costs such as electrical infrastructure upgrades can be a barrier.  The Strategy also outlined state incentives and outreach programs to promote workplace charging.

Facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), the multi-state effort attempts to balance EV market penetration goals for the northeast corridor alongside consumer concerns about the availability of charging locations and the time to recharge.

Read more at Northeast Charging Infrastructure Anticipates EV Charging Expansion

Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday 28

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Small Global Warming Cuts Offer Huge Savings

Everybody profits from a world that cuts global warming to only another half a degree. The challenge is to persuade nations to act.


Warming may now be affecting the south Asian monsoon. (Image Credit: Basilemorin, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
Californian scientists have worked out how to reduce global warming so as to make the world 20 trillion US dollars better off.  It’s simple.  Just stick to the spirit of an international agreement that the American President Donald Trump has already broken.

The researchers arrived at their forecasts of climate profit and loss to calculate that if the 195 nations who agreed in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to “well below” 2°C by the end of the century kept their promise – and global temperatures have already crept up 1°C in the last century as a consequence of the profligate use of fossil fuels – then there would be a 60% chance that the benefits would exceed $20 trillion.

That represents the savings made by avoiding the calamitous economic damage that would accompany higher temperatures.  The same scientists also argue that 71% of the world’s nations – including China, Japan and the US – with 90% of the world’s population have a 75% chance of experiencing reduced economic damage, if global warming is limited to 1.5°C: that is, to just an extra half of a degree this century.

And although conjectures about wealth that has yet to be generated and disasters that have yet to happen are subject to enormous uncertainties, the scientists stand by their argument:  if the world fails to meet the 2°C limit, the economic damage could add up to 15% of the world’s entire economic output.

Calculations like these are difficult enough, but at least one of the authors has been making the case for concerted global action for years.  Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University, has already warned that global extremes of heat and drought are an inevitable consequence of continued warming.

He says warming that has happened so far has already increased California’s vulnerability to devastating drought and may now be influencing the south Asian monsoon, on which a billion people depend.

“It is clear from our analysis that achieving the more ambitious Paris goal is highly likely to benefit most countries – and the global economy overall – by avoiding more severe economic damages,” Professor Diffenbaugh said.

And Marshall Burke, his Stanford colleague who led the study in the journal Nature, said:  “Over the past century we have already experienced a 1°C increase in global temperature, so achieving the ambitious targets laid out in the Paris Agreement will not be easy or cheap.  We need a clear understanding of how much economic benefit we’re going to get from meeting these different targets.”

Worse outcome possible
The researchers think they may even have underestimated the costs of a dangerously hotter world:  they cite, for instance, the rapid rise in sea levels if the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melt, or heatwaves and floods intensify more dramatically than anything seen so far in human history.

Although the richest nations stand to benefit most from sticking strictly to the Paris ambitions, some of the world’s poorest regions will also feel the benefit, with a noticeable increase in gross domestic product per head.

“The countries likely to benefit the most are already relatively hot today,” Dr Burke said.  “The historical record tells us that additional warming will be very harmful to these countries’ economies, and so even small reductions in future warming could have large benefits for most countries.”

Read more at Small Global Warming Cuts Offer Huge Savings

EVs Could Erase 7 Million Bpd in Demand

Electric vehicle charging station (Credit: oilprice.com) Click to Enlarge.
Electric vehicles will become cheaper than the internal combustion engine in a half decade, while electric buses will completely “dominate” its sector by the late-2020s, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which just published its Electric Vehicle Outlook 2018 report.

EV sales will top 1.6 million in 2018, up from just a few hundred thousand in 2014, according to BNEF.  The acceleration in sales can be chalked up to a few factors.  First, battery costs have declined by 79 percent since 2010, falling from over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour to just $209/kWh at the end of 2017.  Energy density has also increased by 5 to 7 percent each year.  Costs could drop to as low as $70/kWh by 2030.

Second, governments continue to support EVs with various forms of subsidies or other policy help.

The third reason can be summed up in one word:  China.  Roughly 21 percent of all EV sales in 2017 occurred in just six Chinese cities.  China is offering an array of carrots, but also sticks, including restrictions on buying and using gasoline or diesel vehicles.  By 2025 China will account for roughly half of the entire global EV market.

Another reason is the proliferation of new EV models from a long line of automakers.  The number of EV models is expected to nearly double from 155 at the end of 2017 to as many as 289 by 2022.

Obviously, it isn’t all rosey for the EV industry.  EVs still only account for less than 2 percent of the auto market in most of the world.  There is also a lack of recharging infrastructure in most markets.

Meanwhile, key ingredients used in lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, have seen costs skyrocket as demand has increased.  Without significant investment in new cobalt capacity, for instance, there could be shortages within a few years.  “If capacity does not grow as planned, cobalt prices could continue to spike and there could be a major cobalt shortage,” BNEF analysts said.  “This would have serious implications on the electric vehicle market.”

Cobalt prices have already tripled in the past two years, and with supply lagging demand, prices could continue to rise.  The problem is all the more worrying because new mines have long lead times, which sets the market up for some serious speed bumps in the early 2020s.

Nevertheless, the BNEF forecast is bullish for EVs.  Sales are expected to continue to accelerate, topping 11 million units by 2025 and 30 million by 2030.  By 2040 EV sales will hit 60 million, or about 55 percent of the global market for light-duty vehicles.  Cumulatively, about 559 million EVs will be on the roads in 2040, or about a third of the global fleet.

On an unsubsidized basis, EVs will hit cost parity with gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by about 2024, causing the latter to see declining sales after that point “as EVs bite hard into their market,” BNEF says.

Many of the BNEF projections are similar to last year’s report, although some of the near-term projections appear more bullish.  But one of the more eye-opening forecasts is for electric buses.  Consider this statement:  “The advance of e-buses will be even more rapid than for electric cars,” BNEF concluded.

Electric buses will reach cost parity with conventional municipal buses as soon as next year, BNEF says.  And whereas EVs will capture 28 percent of the market by the late 2020s, e-buses will “dominate” its segment, making up 84 percent of the bus market by the same date.  “China has led this market in spectacular style, accounting for 99 percent of the world total last year.  The rest of the world will follow, and by 2040 we expect 80 percent of the global municipal bus fleet to be electric,” Colin McKerracher, lead analyst on advanced transportation for BNEF, said in a statement.

What is the upshot for crude oil?  The penetration of EVs into the light-duty vehicle market will erase 7.3 million barrels per day of oil demand by 2040.

Oil prices are largely determined at the margins, with small discrepancies between supply and demand responsible for wild swings in prices.  In that context, while demand will still be enormous in 10 or 20 years, the demand destruction stemming from EVs and e-buses present a mortal threat to high oil prices.

Read more at EVs Could Erase 7 Million Bpd in Demand

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday 27

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Meet the Microgrid, the Technology Poised to Transform Electricity - By David Roberts and Alvin Chang

This is the path to a cleaner, more reliable, more resilient energy grid.


Microgrid (Credit: vox.com/energy-and-environment) Click to Enlarge.
If we want a livable climate for future generations, we need to slow, stop, and reverse the rise in global temperatures.  To do that, we need to stop burning fossil fuels for energy.

To do that, we need to generate lots of carbon-free electricity and get as many of our energy uses as possible (including transportation and industry) hooked up to the electricity grid.  Electrify everything!

We need a greener grid.  But that’s not all.

The highly digital modern world also demands a more reliable grid, capable of providing high-quality power to facilities like hospitals or data centers, where even brief brownouts can cost money or lives.

The renewable energy sources with the most potential — wind and solar — are variable, which means that they come and go on nature’s schedule, not ours.  They ramp up and down with the weather, so integrating them into the grid while maintaining (and improving) reliability means finding clever ways to balance out their swings.

Finally, recent blackouts in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria highlight the need for a more resilient grid — one that can get back up and running quickly (at least for essential sites) after a disaster or attack.

It’s a triple challenge:  We need, all at once, a greener, more reliable, more resilient electricity grid.

But hark!  Lo!  There is a technology, or a set of technologies, that promises one day to be a triple solution — to address all three of the grid’s needs at once.

We speak of the humble microgrid.

What is a microgrid?
Technically, a grid is any combination of power sources, power users, wires to connect them, and some sort of control system to operate it all.

Microgrid just means a small, freestanding grid.  It can consist of several buildings, one small building (sometimes called a “nanogrid”), or even one person (a “picogrid”) with a backpack solar panel, an iPhone, and some headphones.

Read more at Meet the Microgrid, the Technology Poised to Transform Electricity

Climate Change May Lead to Bigger Atmospheric Rivers

In early 2017, the Western United States experienced rain and flooding from a series of storms flowing to America on multiple streams of moist air, each individually known as an atmospheric river. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech ) Click to Enlarge.
A new NASA-led study shows that climate change is likely to intensify extreme weather events known as atmospheric rivers across most of the globe by the end of this century, while slightly reducing their number.

The new study projects atmospheric rivers will be significantly longer and wider than the ones we observe today, leading to more frequent atmospheric river conditions in affected areas.

"The results project that in a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, there will be about 10 percent fewer atmospheric rivers globally by the end of the 21st century," said the study's lead author, Duane Waliser, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  "However, because the findings project that the atmospheric rivers will be, on average, about 25 percent wider and longer, the global frequency of atmospheric river conditions — like heavy rain and strong winds — will actually increase by about 50 percent."

The results also show that the frequency of the most intense atmospheric river storms is projected to nearly double.

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow jets of air that carry huge amounts of water vapor from the tropics to Earth's continents and polar regions.  These "rivers in the sky" typically range from 250 to 375 miles (400 to 600 kilometers) wide and carry as much water — in the form of water vapor — as about 25 Mississippi Rivers.  When an atmospheric river makes landfall, particularly against mountainous terrain (such as the Sierra Nevada and the Andes), it releases much of that water vapor in the form of rain or snow.

These storm systems are common — on average, there are about 11 present on Earth at any time.  In many areas of the globe, they bring much-needed precipitation and are an important contribution to annual freshwater supplies.  However, stronger atmospheric rivers — especially those that stall at landfall or that produce rain on top of snowpack — can cause disastrous flooding.

Atmospheric rivers show up on satellite imagery, including in data from a series of actual atmospheric river storms that drenched the U.S. West Coast and caused severe flooding in early 2017.

Read more at Climate Change May Lead to Bigger Atmospheric Rivers

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday 26

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Yes, EVs Are Green and Global Warming Is Raising Sea Levels


Republicans paid by the fossil fuel industry deny these realities.

A Volkswagen e-Golf electric car stands in the front of the Volkswagen AG (VW) factory on May 8, 2018 in Dresden, Germany. (Photograph Credit: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held yet another climate science hearing similar to those from April 2017, February 2017, January 2016, May 2015, June 2014, December 2013, and so on.  It seems as though disputing established climate science is House Republicans’ favorite hobby.  This time, it was Philip Duffy’s turn to spend two hours playing whack-a-mole with the committee Republicans’ endless supply of long-debunked climate myths.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed that sea level rise is due to the White Cliffs of Dover tumbling into the ocean (yes, really), and his colleagues argued that scientists in the 1970s were predicting global cooling, that Earth is just returning to its “normal temperature,” that Antarctic ice is growing, and sea levels are hardly rising.

Self-contradictory sea level rise denial
Those last two claims originated from a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial entered into the Congressional record by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), written by Fred Singer.  As the group Ozone Action documented, Singer has been a lifetime contrarian on virtually every scientific subject imaginable - acid rain, nuclear winter, nuclear waste, nuclear war, ozone depletion, secondhand smoke, amphibian population loss, and even minimum wage benefits.  In recent decades he’s worked for a plethora of fossil fuel-funded think tanks, denying established climate science.

Singer’s WSJ editorial is difficult to follow, largely because it contradicts itself several times, saying:
there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at an accelerating rate ... to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed...
Obviously if sea level rise is accelerating, it’s not increasing at a constant rate.  The WSJ later “corrected” that first sentence, thus removing one of the few accurate statements in the editorial - sea level rise is indeed accelerating.

Singer’s explanation for why the accelerating sea level rise isn’t accelerating likewise contradicts itself:
the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise … accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect [sea level rise due to warming temperatures] for at least several centuries.
Here, Singer first claims that the basic physics of thermal expansion is wrong, or at least somehow doesn’t apply to ocean water, but then argues it is real and is merely being offset by ice growth on Antarctica.  The latter claim is of course also wrong – Antarctica has been losing land ice and a recent study found that it’s responsible for 8% of sea level rise since 1993 (thermal expansion is the biggest contributor, at 42%). 

As one sea level researcher at Climate Feedback described Singer’s editorial, “If this were an essay in one of my undergraduate classes, he would fail.”  The whole thing is complete nonsense, denying basic physics, and yet was published in the WSJ and entered into the congressional record.  This is the material that House Republicans and their conservative media allies who reject climate science and oppose all climate policies find most compelling.  That says a lot about the state of climate denial on the American right today.

Read more at Yes, EVs Are Green and Global Warming Is Raising Sea Levels

Investors Have Made Oil Majors Consider Safe Climate Limits.  What Next?

Even holdout Exxon Mobil has analyzed what holding global warming to 2C means for its business.  Now the sector needs to invest – or divest – accordingly.


Oil companies are under more pressure than ever to reckon with their climate impact, this AGM season.

Supermajor Exxon Mobil has published its first assessment of what holding global warming to 2C means for its business, prompted by a shareholder revolt in 2017.

Shareholder activists have moved on to target second-tier companies, winning resolutions to make Kinder Morgan and Anadarko follow suit.  Several firms pre-empted a vote by agreeing to their demands.

In Europe, where most oil majors have already produced 2C scenarios, the conversation is turning from disclosure to action.

“We have seen a significant uptick in the number of reports this year,” Robert Schuwerk of Carbon Tracker told Climate Home News.

Analyzing the implications of 2C, the upper warming limit in the Paris Agreement, is “becoming normalized as a concept”, he said.  There is not yet a standardized approach, though, making it hard to compare companies:  “I think that is going to become a focus.”

By each choosing methods to flatter their business plans, firms are perpetuating collective denial.

Globally, the vast majority of oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground to limit temperature rise to 2C.  That implies some producers will lose out.  But, as a Carbon Tracker report this week highlighted, corporate scenario analyses show everyone winning.

“The primary risk is over-investment in a resource base, bringing on a supply-demand imbalance, lower prices and therefore lower returns for shareholders,” said Schuwerk.  In other words, they waste money on unburnable fuel and profits dive.

Price assumptions are key.  As climate regulations and clean technology take hold, they dampen oil demand.  Other things being equal, that means low prices.

The proof oil companies are taking climate risk seriously will come when they cancel expensive exploration projects, which cannot pay off in a 2C world.

French major Total was one of the earliest to grasp this, ruling out Arctic oil drilling in 2016.  But most still see their role as following government policy rather than driving the shift to cleaner energy.

They emphasize the growing energy needs of the developing world and plan to meet them the traditional way – with fossil fuels.

Read more at Investors Have Made Oil Majors Consider Safe Climate Limits.  What Next?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday 25

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Climate Change Is Putting Extra Pressure on New England's Forests

Add warming temperatures to the pile of problems.


Forests in the northeastern U.S. are lush and diverse. Towering oaks in southern Connecticut give way to majestic sugar maples in Maine.  D’Amato: “On a personal level, I certainly care a lot about the forest. It’s, from an aesthetic and spiritual perspective, something I gain a lot of strength and peace from.”  Tony D’Amato, director of the forestry program at the University of Vermont, says forests in the region provide beauty and support the economy. But they’re under pressure from many threats, such as deforestation for development, logging, non-native species, over-browsing by deer, and forest diseases.  D’Amato: “As you start to make a list of all the things that are threatening our forests, it’s hard not to get a little bit concerned.”  Climate change will only add more stress. For example, seeds from some trees need snow to germinate. But as the region gets warmer and wetter, there may be less snowpack. That also leaves young tree roots vulnerable to freezing.  D’Amato: “Climate change in its own right is quite daunting, but when you put it on top of everything else that’s affecting our forests, it’s really a challenging long-term dilemma that many managers and conservation groups have to deal with.”
Forests in the northeastern U.S. are lush and diverse.  Towering oaks in southern Connecticut give way to majestic sugar maples in Maine.
...
Tony D’Amato, director of the forestry program at the University of Vermont, says forests in the region provide beauty and support the economy.  But they’re under pressure from many threats, such as deforestation for development, logging, non-native species, over-browsing by deer, and forest diseases.

D’Amato:  “As you start to make a list of all the things that are threatening our forests, it’s hard not to get a little bit concerned.”

Climate change will only add more stress.  For example, seeds from some trees need snow to germinate.  But as the region gets warmer and wetter, there may be less snowpack.  That also leaves young tree roots vulnerable to freezing.

D’Amato:  “Climate change in its own right is quite daunting, but when you put it on top of everything else that’s affecting our forests, it’s really a challenging long-term dilemma that many managers and conservation groups have to deal with.”

Read original at Climate Change Is Putting Extra Pressure on New England's Forests

New Theory Finds 'Traffic Jams' in Jet Stream Cause Abnormal Weather Patterns

Study explains blocking phenomenon that has baffled forecasters.


A study published May 24 in Science offers an explanation for a mysterious and sometimes deadly weather pattern in which the jet stream, the global air currents that circle the Earth, stalls out over a region.  Much like highways, the jet stream has a capacity, researchers said, and when it's exceeded, blockages form that are remarkably similar to traffic jams -- and climate forecasters can use the same math to model them both.

The deadly 2003 European heat wave, California's 2014 drought, and the swing of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that surprised forecasters -- all of these were caused by a weather phenomenon known as "blocking," in which the jet stream meanders, stopping weather systems from moving eastward.  Scientists have known about it for decades, almost as long as they've known about the jet stream -- first discovered by pioneering University of Chicago meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby, in fact -- but no one had a good explanation for why it happens.

"Blocking is notoriously difficult to forecast, in large part because there was no compelling theory about when it forms and why," said study coauthor Noboru Nakamura, a professor in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences.

Nakamura and then-graduate student Clare S.Y. Huang were studying the jet stream, trying to determine a clear set of measurements for blocking in order to better analyze the phenomenon.  One of their new metrics was a term that measured the jet stream's meander.  Looking over the math, Nakamura realized that the equation was nearly identical to one devised decades ago by transportation engineers trying to describe traffic jams.

"It turns out the jet stream has a capacity for 'weather traffic,' just as highway has traffic capacity, and when it is exceeded, blocking manifests as congestion," said Huang.

Much like car traffic, movement slows when multiple highways converge and the speed of the jet stream is reduced due to topography such as mountains or coasts.

The result is a simple theory that not only reproduces blocking, but predicts it, said Nakamura, who called making the cross-disciplinary connection "one of the most unexpected, but enlightening moments in my research career -- truly a gift from God."

The explanation may not immediately improve short-term weather forecasting, the researchers said, but it will certainly help predict long-term patterns, including which areas may see more drought or floods.

Their initial results suggest that while climate change probably increases blocking by running the jet stream closer to its capacity, there will be regional differences:  for example, the Pacific Ocean may actually see a decrease in blocking over the decades.

"It's very difficult to forecast anything until you understand why it's happening, so this mechanistic model should be extremely helpful," Nakamura said.

 Read more at New Theory Finds 'Traffic Jams' in Jet Stream Cause Abnormal Weather Patterns