It appears a major, century long shift is in its infancy of reordering how power is supplied to homes, businesses and modes of transportation.
Increases in battery storage technology, lower battery weights, available higher capacity lithium, and faster super-chargers are about to change how energy is supplied to the masses in a major way.
Hence the 60% haircut in the global price of oil over the past six months.
Over the past couple of weeks major announcements are coming out as to the utilization of solar, wind and battery storage. Two of the three largest global mega-corporations, Apple Computer and Google, have just announced, within days of each other, that they were going to be powering their main HQ’s by solar and wind power exclusively.
Across the pond, in the U.K., announcements are also being made as to the mass rollout of the mini-electric car as well. And even IKEA, the home furnishing store, is also a stepping up as major player in the electric car charger market.
This week, Tesla, the leader in battery powered automobiles, announced that they would be making decentralized battery powered home energy systems. In the not so distant future home power will come from either mini power stations in your neighborhoods or self -contained systems at your home.
The rumors have been getting stronger all week, and now they’ve come to a head: WSJ is reporting that Apple is indeed working on a car. “Project Titan,” as it’s known internally, is an all-electric vehicle that apparently “resembles a minivan” in its current iteration and has a team of several hundred people working on it.
That’s not to say that there’ll ever be an Apple car on the road, necessarily. WSJ hedges its report, noting that it’d be several years at least before Titan could be ready for production, and that’s assuming Cook and company decide to go through with the project.
Via: MIT Technology Review:
Almost every automaker interested in producing electric cars is betting on improvements to lithium-ion batteries to make the cars cheaper and extend their driving range.
But scientists at BASF are exploring the possibilities of an older type of battery, nickel-metal hydride, now used in hybrids. They recently doubled the amount of energy that these batteries can store, making them comparable to lithium-ion batteries. And they have a plan to improve them far more, potentially increasing energy storage by an additional eight times.
Tesla Motors Inc., best known for making the all-electric Model S sedan, is using its lithium-ion battery technology to position itself as a frontrunner in the emerging energy-storage market that supplements and may ultimately threaten the traditional electric grid.
“We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon,” Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said during an earnings conference call with analysts Wednesday.
California’s largest utility also has just announced that it is moving heavily into the community solar grid business.
Also this week, the largest energy provider in California, PG & E, announced stunning profits for a utility company of 56% year-to-year and then had the audacity to seek tens of millions from the state, at residents expense, to install millions of dollars worth of charging stations to provide electricity to battery powered vehicles.
The biggest problem for PG & E, and other western state utility companies, is how to they can generate electricity to sell in the ongoing greatest drought on record. Once again this year, little water is going to be available from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to run their hydro-electric dams:
PG&E owns and operates the nation’s largest investor-owned hydroelectric system, providing a safe and reliable source of clean energy for millions of customers.
The system is built along 16 river basins stretching nearly 500 miles—from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south. PG&E’s 68 powerhouses, including a pumped storage facility, have a total generating capacity of 3,896 MW and rely on nearly 100 reservoirs located primarily in the higher elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade mountain ranges.
PG & E’s answer is to get the state to, or more accurately, the residents of California, to mega dam the California basin over the next decades to provide more hydroelectric power for the utility companies benefits:
California’s growing population and dwindling water require up to $500 billion in additional investment in water in coming decades, and new state fees for water users could be one way pay for it, a water plan released Thursday by the state’s top water officials said.
Currently, governments spend about $20 billion annually on California’s water supply, or $200 billion over 10 years, said Kamyar Guivetchi, head of integrated water management for the Department of Water Resources.
State officials are calling for another $500 billion in coming decades. That includes $100 billion in flood-control projects and $400 billion to fund a wide range of projects proposed by different regions of the state, Guivetchi said. (Source)
What this means is that the CA taxpayers will be seeing a major increase in their water rates as government officials are planning on the historic drought to continue on and on for decades more.
The plan looks as far ahead as 2050, spanning a period when California will be dealing with everything from shrinking snowpack, rising seas and encroaching salinity in waterways to more frequent droughts under climate change.
Yet, the Central Valley farmers will likely continue to be dry as a bone for California’s agriculture and the farmers who grow where state planning calls for less water to their farms.
The plan envisions growing cities increasingly taking more water, farmers using less, and water costing more in general. It shouldn’t be a surprise, Cowin said, that water is going to cost more for Californians in the future.
Surprisingly in California there are no mandatory cut backs so far implemented by the state on business’ and residents. Golf courses, car washes, restaurants and lawns are only asked to cut back voluntarily, while state planners are getting set to float hundreds of billions of dollars in bonds to fund major build out of water storage and catchment systems throughout the state that will directly benefit PG & E.
Yet at the same exact time Governor Brown proposed spending of hundreds of billions of dollars for water management he enacted a new law last Fall to put meters on all groundwater wells in the state.
This means that farmers with wells, and all who are on wells, will lose their most basic rights to the water on their lands which will presumably be allocated by the state in the future.
The new laws will require local government officials to bring groundwater basins up to sustainable levels and ensure that only as much water as is taken out is naturally replenished. Farmers will likely eventually be forced to meter the water they pump. Some may be told to stop pumping entirely.
Brown and Democratic legislative leaders who worked together on the package said the changes are long overdue and will ease the pain of future droughts. But for Central Valley lawmakers and the farmers they represent, the assurances ring hollow. Many call the new rules “draconian” and envision an army of faceless bureaucrats controlling their lives. (Source)
The good news is that it is likely we have seen the top in fracking activities for oil prices may never see $100 a barrel again, much less the stated break even point of $70 stated by many frackers. New oil rigs for oil exploration continues to plummet as oil reserves continue to build.
Despite the dramatic plunge in rig counts, this week saw yet another surge in production to record highs and with storage levels getting close to full, it would seem – despite the bounce/squeeze in prices to $53 as the data hit – that supply remains well ahead of any demand. Total rig count dropped 98 to 1,358 – for the largest weekly drop of the 10 week run as cutting is accelerating rapidly – now down 30%. This is the biggest weekly rig count drop since 1993. West Virginia remains the relative hardest hit with rig count depletions but Permian Basin collapse 49 rigs to 369 this week.
Mass environmental disasters, like the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico from Deep Water Horizon oil spills will occur with less frequently.
Gas stations will be going out of business and charging stations will proliferate throughout all cities, suburbs and rural communities. Jumper cable sales will also soar.
Coal companies will continue to be shuttered which will be great for the environment and those that live around those corporations and major environmentally destructive projects, like the XL pipeline, may not be cost feasible, when local battery and power charging sources are built out.
States like Alaska, which recently announced a 50% drop in its GDP due the oil price decline, will be in big trouble. Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma Texas, Wyoming and West Virginia in addition to oil rich countries the Middle East, Russia, Venzuela and Norway will have a hard time generating half the income they have been used to from oil sales. (Source)
70% of the global lithium deposits used for these new generation batteries are concentrated in South America’s ABC (Argentina, Bolivia and Chile) region which means we can expect increase corporate and possibly U.S. military presence in those countries going forward.
Another huge issue is the downstream cycle of a mass increase in hazardous battery waste, where businesses only answer to date has been to literally bury the problem, creating toxic waste for generations to come.
It seems that only a few years ago we were talking about peak oil and the decline of cheap energy. Now, alternative energies are on the forefront of replacing oil in a major way, until those resources reach peak and begin their inevitable decline.
Only then might we be allowed to use Nikola Tesla’s free energy devices, which he developed in the early 1900’s, yet has been kept from public use by military, government and corporate interests.