Morning Volt for 05/23/2017

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Morning Volt

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The Cancer in the Bones of the Oil Industry

Michael McDonald, Breaking Energy

Almost everyone is happy when oil prices fall and consumers save money at the pump. However, there is a difficulty with oil prices falling too far too fast which is almost never brought up. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and this includes the oil industry. There will come a day when the world’s oil demand will peak and the oil industry will begin its slow decline into history. When this day will come is still the subject of much debate; but whether in 20 years or 80, it is coming.

The Great US Oil Export Boom

Jude Clemente, Forbes

Once unthinkable, in December 2015 the U.S. decided to lift the nation’s 40-year ban on crude oil exports driven by a boom in domestic drilling and production. Until then, our crude exports just went to Canada, awarded an exemption to import U.S. petroleum.Now, some 17 months later, the shift that the U.S. has brought to the global oil market continues to reverberate.

Where a Solar Roof Works and Where It Doesn’t

Megan Guess, Ars Technica

Last week, Tesla and Tesla’s newly purchased solar-panel company SolarCity announced that they’d be taking pre-orders at $1,000 a pop for installations of their new solar roof product. The solar roof is made up of tilessome that produce solar power and some inertthat look just like regular roof tiles.Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the solar roof late last year, just before investors were about to vote on whether the electric-car company should buy SolarCity. At the reveal, Musk told the crowd that the goal is to have a roof that’s less than the installed cost of a roof plus…

Jobs? Investing in Renewables Beats Investing in Fossil Fuels

Hoffman, Energy Post

Job creation is always a safe issue for politicians to address and it played a crucial role in our recent presidential election. Donald Trump achieved his unexpected upset victory over Hillary Clinton by appealing to disaffected workers in normally Democrat-leaning states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A primary focus of the Trump campaign was jobs in the manufacturing and coal-mining industries, where many workers had been laid off in recent years. Some people have blamed these job losses on Obama Administration policies, including support for solar and wind energy. What are the facts?

Mercedes-Benz Brings a New Model (of Battery) to US Homes

Diane Cardwell, NYT

Vivint Solar, a leading provider of residential rooftop systems, has tried many things over the years to gain an edge on the competition. Now it is hoping that offering customers a Mercedes-Benz for $5,000 to $13,000 will do the trick.But the offer is not for a car from the German automaker. Instead, it is for a sleek battery the size of a mini-fridge that will allow homeowners to take better advantage of the energy their solar power systems produce, whether to cut costs or to maintain a steady source of electricity during power failures.

LA Says It’ll Stay In the Paris Climate Agreement It Isn’t In

Adam Rogers, Wired

Not because of the sentiment. Climate change presents a real danger to humanity, and it’ll hit the humans who live near oceans first. Los Angeles, where Eric Garcetti is mayor, has a population of over 10 million people, a quarter of California’s humans, and the busiest port in the United States. Sea level rise and pollution matter there.

Fighting Hacks of the Electric Grid

Rachel Layne, MIT Technology Review

Electric grids worldwide are increasingly vulnerable to attack as new technologies like smart meters and analytical software are added to them, with mature systems like North America’s at particular risk, according to the World Energy Council. Pressure to make older equipment in utilities, transformers, and transmission lines compatible with newer, more efficient Internet-connected equipment at the lowest possible cost has too often made security an afterthought, according to a recent report from MIT’s Center for International Studies.

Ethanol Industry Wants Trade War with China

John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The U.S. corn ethanol industry wants the Commerce Department to start a trade battle with China over protectionist tariffs imposed on the renewable fuel and its byproducts."China’s recent anti-dumping and countervailing tariffs on ethanol and [distillers grain] are significantly injuring U.S. ethanol producers and farmers, and undermining the substantial investments our industries have made in developing a trade relationship with the country," said Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association CEO, at a hearing at the Commerce Department Thursday.

The Beginning of the End for US Utilities?

William Tilles & Leonard Hyman, OilPrice

Capital expenditure projections for the electricity industry in the U.S. were just released by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). The data show a utility industry with plans for continued healthy levels of spending. Interestingly, planned capex is even above projections made last year despite long term kilowatt hour sales trends that can best be described as flat-to-down. (See Figure 1 for projections.).Of this projected capital spending, roughly one third is expected to be devoted to new power generation, a quarter for electric distribution and less than one fifth each for transmission and…

Climate Change: Invoking Uncertainty Can Be Perilous

David Hone, Energy Collective

The past weeks have seen something of a storm of protest directed at Bret Stephens of the New York Times, following the publication of his first column for that newspaper which happened to be on climate change. In the article Stephens does note By now I can almost hear the heads exploding’ and that is exactly what happened.While he could have easily avoided some of the petty criticism by not using words such as modest’ to describe the extent of warming over the last century, his somewhat clumsy venture into the world of probability and uncertainty led many commentators to accuse him…

The Idea of Floating Nuclear Power Plants Gets a New Look

Timothy Puko, WSJ

Imagine, off the coast of New Jersey, man-made islands of steel, moored in the ocean, housing miniature nuclear reactors.It’s something that Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. and Westinghouse Electric tried to pull off nearly 50 years ago.Confronted with rising costs and limited land to build on, the companies planned to build nuclear power plants at a shipyard in Florida and then float them up to the New Jersey coast. The project failed primarily because the 1970s energy crisis weakened local demand for power.

Is Bioenergy Good for Cutting Carbon Emissions?

Bentham Paulos, Energy Post

While rapidly growing wind and solar energy attracts daily headlines, a skirmish in the United States Senate has brought increased attention to the slow-moving and often overlooked biomass power industry. The controversy? How to measure the carbon emissions of biopower.Until the surprising election of Donald Trump, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been developing the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector. Though the Plan is still pending in the courts, the Trump Administration has made it clear they have no intention of implementing it.

What We Still Don’t Know About Tesla’s Solar Roof

Max Aram, GreenTechMedia

On May 10, Tesla announced it’s now taking orders for the company’s highly anticipated Solar Roof systems. The Tesla website now provides more details about the cost and durability of the tiles and allows interested homeowners to place a $1,000 deposit for the system.For those who understand solar, however, the announcement of the new solar roof has prompted more questions than answers. On Pick My Solar’s blog, we briefly discussed the economics of Tesla’s solar tiles and found them to be significantly overpriced.

American Oil Companies Deepen Saudi Ties, Despite Rivalry

Matt Egan, CNN Money

Saudi Arabia and American shale oil companies remain in a battle for global dominance that has sparked a rare bout of financial trouble for the kingdom and forced it to think about life after oil.Despite that rivalry, Saudi Arabia is deepening its ties with the US with a raft of deals with American energy companies unveiled during President Trump’s visit to the OPEC leader.Saudi Aramco, the country’s oil crown jewel, announced $50 billion worth of agreements with nearly a dozen US-based companies, including Schlumberger (SLB), Halliburton (HAL), General Electric, Nabors (NBR) and National…

Power Producers Would Like You to Take Them Home

L. Denning, Bloomberg Gadfly

The merchant power sector right now has all the feverish amour of closing time at a club. Both Calpine Corp. and Dynegy Inc. are said to be actively courting potential partners, which has sparked big rallies in the two stocks:

US Solar Power Bankrupcty Threatens Whole Industry

Ed Crooks, Financial Times

US solar power businesses are braced for an imminent decision from the country’s International Trade Commission on whether to start a process that could lead to a sharp contraction in the market and thousands of job losses.

Question: When Will Peak Oil Demand Arrive For China, India?

The Economist

BORROWING three words from Mario Draghi, the central banker who helped save the euro zone, Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, on May 15th promised to do whatever it takes to curb the glut in the global oil markets.

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