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This Month in Energy - July 2016

11 minutes to read

Here’s what happened in the world of energy this month.

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GLOBAL

Move Over Oil – Lithium Is The Future Of Transportation

With the surge in adoption of electric vehicles and notable government policy in countries like Germany where all new vehicles registered must be emissions free by 2030 and in Norway where there will be an all out ban on combustion engine vehicles, there has been a surge in lithium prices.  Lithium is a key metal used in battery storage.  Metal hoarding and demand is driving up prices to $15,000 per ton vs. only $5,000 a couple years ago.

Market consumption could triple from 160,000 metric tons to a staggering 470,000 metric tons by 2025. And even if the EV market share increased by only 1%, it would raise lithium demand by 70,000 metric tons—which is about half of today’s demand

Ethanol, bioenergy no threat to food security: report

Bioenergy produced from crops does not threaten food supplies, researchers funded by the U.S. government, World Bank and others said in a recent report, dealing a potential blow to critics of the country's biofuels program.

Tesla's Master Plan Part Deux

Founder of Tesla Motors released his Master Plan, Part Deux that shows his vision for the company, including their massive bid for Solar City and expanding their offerings into commercial transport.

Energy sector is one of the largest consumers of water in a drought-threatened world

With a quarter of the world’s human population already living in regions that suffer from severe water scarcity for at least six months of the year, it is perhaps not surprising that the World Economic Forum recently rated water crises as the largest global risk in terms of potential impacts over the next decade.

Electricity generation is a significant consumer of water: it consumes more than five times as much water globally as domestic uses (drinking, preparing food, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets and the rest) and more than five times as much water globally as industrial production.

The International Energy Agency projected a rise of 85% in global water use for energy production between 2012 and 2032 alone.

A New Climate Change Documentary Focuses on Solutions, Not Doom

Time to Choose is the latest documentary that aims to effectively and truthfully explain the solutions to climate change that we have at our disposal, and just how feasible and realistic these solutions are.

NORTH AMERICA

US oil reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia and Russia

The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world's biggest exporting nations, according to a new study. It is estimated that recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia's 212bn and Russia's 256bn in reserves. 

The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide, conducted over a three-year period by the Oslo-based group, shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year.

California to Extend Cap-and-Trade System to 2050

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration yesterday released a plan to extend the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program in a bid to slash greenhouse gas emissions through midcentury. The amendments released yesterday would establish decreasing emissions caps for covered entities through 2031, to reach 40 percent below 1990 levels, and would include preliminary caps through 2050 “to signal the long-term trajectory of the program to inform investment decisions.”

LATIN AMERICA

Ecuador pays $112 million award to Chevron

Ecuador has paid $112 million to energy company Chevron Corp over a four-decade-old contract dispute, even though it remains in disagreement, the head of the central bank has said.

A Hague arbitration court awarded the U.S. company $96 million in 2011 in a dispute stemming from a 1973 deal that called for Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, to develop fields in exchange for selling oil to Ecuador at below-market rates.

MIDDLE EAST

Solar plane takes off from Egypt on final leg of world tour

An aircraft powered by solar energy left Egypt on July 16 on the last leg of the first ever fuel-free flight around the globe.

Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.

IEA Sees Record Middle East Oil Supply as U.S. Output Slumps

Oil production from the Middle East has climbed to a record while U.S. output slumps, the International Energy Agency said, in a sign that OPEC’s strategy of defending market share is succeeding.

Middle Eastern output exceeded 31 million barrels a day for a third month in June amid near-record supply from Saudi Arabia, while U.S. oil production slid 140,000 barrels a day to 12.45 million, the agency said in its monthly market report.

EUROPE

In Midst of Brexit, UK strengthens climate target

The UK government has adopted targets that will require a 57 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The reduction will help the UK on its way to reaching the legally binding target of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, using the emissions in 1990 as a baseline.

Vattenfall commits to £300m UK offshore wind farm despite Brexit

The Swedish energy company Vattenfall is pushing ahead with a £300m wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen despite last month’s EU referendum vote.

The offshore wind farm has been dogged by years of legal battles between Donald Trump and the Scottish government over its impact on his golf course, which the tycoon ultimately lost in the courts last year.

AFRICA

Bill Gates: Solar is not the energy solution Africa needs

Bill Gates once again shunned solar power from his vision for energy access in Africa in his talk at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, where he argued that whilst “cheap, clean energy” is what Africa needs, solar does not fit the bill.

In the speech on Sunday, the software entrepreneur recommended increased investment in renewables, namely hydropower and geothermal. He went on to argue that recently launched solar power initiatives have not been enough:

“There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar,” he said. “This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.”

South Africa generating enough energy to avoid blackouts: Eskom

South Africa's state power utility Eskom is generating enough electricity to meet demand and avoid chronic power outages that plagued Africa's most developed economy for most of 2015.

"Eskom has sufficient generation capacity to meet peak demand," Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe told a new conference, adding that the firm expected to avoid blackouts at least up to 2017.

ASIA

Japan to restart nuclear energy production

Japan, which had shut all its nuclear plants after 2011 Fukushima disaster, is set to restart plant amid safety concerns. Local officials have approved to restart a nuclear power plant in Japan's south, ushering the country's return to nuclear power generation more than three years after the Fukushima disaster.

The local approval came after the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said in September that it believed the two units at Sendai met toughened safety standards introduced after the Fukushima accident in 2011. The actual restart, however, is likely to be delayed until next year as technical procedures are still under way, including more NRA approvals for remedial work at the site.

China sets up coal asset management firm to push overcapacity cut

China has set up a coal asset management firm as part of its effort to reduce excess capacity in the sector, China's state-owned assets regulator said. The asset management firm will be mainly used to help cut overcapacity, push consolidation for state-owned coal resources and promote state-owned coal companies to restructure and upgrade.

Philippines' oil still in troubled waters after South China Sea ruling

Beijing has refused to recognise the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that granted the Philippines sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, a shallow tablemount some 85 nautical miles off its coast.