Working on a vid right now about the complexity of the energy transition, which we are seeing play out right in front of us this fall.

Europe is in the grips of energy anxiety as the Covid Recovery has taken energy providers by surprise and left the continent, in particular the UK and a few others, somewhat vulnerable to shortages if there is severe weather this winter. It’s complicated by the fact that Northern Europe suffered a once-in-a-century “wind drought” between may and august this year, which caused more demand for fossil gas than was expected. Inventories, already low due to unexpected economic growth, got hit.

With French nukes already suffering from covid related maintenance delays, there was a fire at the French/UK transmission connection blocking French nuclear electricity sales to the UK,. Spain gas supplies were compromised by a political squabble in North Africa, where their supplies come from – and over everything, there has been Russian gamesmanship with gas supplies, related to their desire to apply pressure around the Nordstream pipeline, which remains in German regulatory limbo.

I spoke to a lot of well informed folks – and one important, and fair point, that drillers make is that there’s a whole lot of stuff that this civilization uses (look around your room) that come from oil, not just fuel – and for now, the expansion of renewables in the utility space hasn’t really touched basic demand for transportation fuel. Obviously that’s coming, I believe sooner than a lot of folks think, but in the meantime we’re stuck with gasoline dependence.
So there’s tension between the investors who are pushing energy companies to back off of new fossil investments, concerns about new assets becoming “stranded” sooner than expected, ever intensifying climate enhanced extreme events, like Hurricane Ida, and the warm spell currently unfolding across North America, and of course, wild cards like Covid, which still has not run its course.

2020s are gonna be lit.

Guardian:

Leaders of the world’s biggest oil companies have used an industry gathering in Houston to launch an attack on the speed of transition to clean energy, claiming a badly managed process could lead to “insecurity, rampant inflation and social unrest”.

Executives from oil companies including Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, and US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron publicly described the shift towards clean energy alternatives as “deeply flawed”. They called for fossil fuels to remain part of the energy mix for years to come despite global efforts for an urgent response to the climate crisis.

Saudi Aramco’s chief executive, Amin Nasser, told delegates at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, that adapting to cleaner fuels “overnight” could trigger uncontrolled economic inflation.

“I understand that publicly admitting that oil and gas will play an essential and significant role during the transition and beyond will be hard for some,” he said. “But admitting this reality will be far easier than dealing with energy insecurity, rampant inflation and social unrest as the prices become intolerably high, and seeing net zero commitments by countries start to unravel.

New Republic:

“This morning at the ALEC Committee meetings,” Jason Isaac, director of the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, wrote last Friday morning, “you’ll have the opportunity to push back against woke financial institutions that are colluding against American energy producers.” The email—obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, and first reported by CMD investigative journalist Alex Kotch—offers a window into a rapidly congealing strategy among Republican state-level officials: declaring war on “critical energy theory” within the financial sector. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, held its States and Nation Policy Summit in San Diego last week. The event—attended by a mix of state legislators and representatives from the private sector—featured spirited discussions about a potential Constitutional Convention, as well as lots of excitement about Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to galvanize voters around “critical race theory,” the once-obscure academic subfield that right-wingers now regularly rant about, claiming that CRT has infected the K-12 curriculum and that teaching students accurate facts about slavery and segregation is somehow unfair to white people.

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I reached out to my friend Josh Pearce, formerly of Michigan Tech, now at Western University in Ontario, with a solar question – and he not only answered the question beautifully, but turned me on to his new book project, which is called To Catch the Sun.

It’s a “How to ” manual for anyone that wants to develop a small or community level solar project, for whatever your need might be. Best of all, they retained digital rights, so you can download for free at the website. Of course, if you want a hard copy you can get that thru Amazon.

To Catch the Sun:

This is a book for people looking to build a better future together, that includes:

  • Inspiring stories: Real life accounts of building solar power in communities.
  • Technical details: Straightforward descriptions of solar components and diagrams of systems, replete with real examples (many from the systems described in the stories).
  • Math and science: Easy-to-follow math that allows readers to size small photovoltaic systems for all types of environments and uses.

You’ll get diagrams like this:

More from Josh below.

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At what point does this amount to murder?

See the other piece on this page. Good luck predicting what’s going to happen this winter – but following the gyrations of the gas market this fall has been a reminder that gas markets have been historically volatile, and that now, with increased export of Liquified Natural Gas, US consumers will be permanently exposed to global price pushes and pulls.
And that – will be another driver towards the energy transition.

Wall St. Journal:

The threat of sky-high heating bills is melting away.

Unusually warm weather pushed U.S. natural gas futures down 11.5% on Monday to $3.657 per million British thermal units. That is down more than 40% from October’s peak, erasing a run-up that stoked fears of exorbitant heating bills biting into household budgets and manufacturers’ balance sheets already stressed by broad inflation. 

The climb in price has reversed thanks to an uptick in domestic production and the unseasonably warm weather that has delayed heating season in much of the country.

Monday’s sharp decline came after forecasts showed another burst of warm weather settling over much of the country next week, eliminating a lot of demand for the power-generation and heating fuel. Meager autumn consumption has allowed stockpiles that were drained by summer’s record heat to recover before furnaces and boilers start blasting.

In early September, when the prices took off, the volume of gas in domestic storage facilities was 7.4% below the five-year average inventory, according to Energy Information Administration data. As of Thanksgiving, the deficit was down to 2.4% and analysts see it shrinking further.

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ClimatesafePensions.org:

A first-of-its-kind report released today from Climate Safe Pensions Network and Stand.earth reveals that just 14 pension and permanent funds finance fossil fuels to the tune of $81.6 billion.

The report shows a comprehensive accounting of the fossil fuel exposure of 14 pension funds in one report from Climate Safe Pensions Network and Stand.earth reveals that just 14 U.S. public pension funds are the quiet culprits of climate chaos: with $81.6 billion invested in coal, oil, and gas.

With over $46 trillion in assets worldwide, pension funds are among the largest institutional investors in fossil fuels. These investments have dangerously underperformed the rest of the market, making public pensions’ fossil fuels investments inherently risky.

Pension funds’ financial influence make them a force to reckon with in the battle to confront, slow and mitigate climate change. Pension fund decision-makers must take climate protection seriously — not only for their financial well-being, but also for the well-being of their millions members.

With 10 years of data, there’s hard evidence that divestment is a winning financial strategy. The fastest way for pensions to address climate change is to divest fossil fuel holdings and invest in just and equitable climate solutions.

Download Report.

Bloomberg:

California’s climate-conscious policies aren’t matched by the investment choices of its largest public pension funds, according to a report from two environmental groups. 

Of the 14 top U.S. pension funds analysed by Stand.earth and Climate Safe Pensions Network, California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System stood out as the largest investors in fossil fuel companies, with $27.1 billion and $15.7 billion, respectively, according to findings published Wednesday.

The two combined hold about half the fossil fuel assets for the entire group, according to the study. Calpers also came first in fossil fuel holdings as a proportion of its total assets under management, at 6.9%.  

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Decent short vid puts some numbers on the difference between a 1.5 and 2 degree warming.

Somewhere in that spread, we commit to losing the Greenland Ice Sheet, and a portion of West Antarctica.

Those brushfires make for tough skiing.

Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune:

DENTON, Mont. — By Friday morning as the fog lifted from the small community of Denton in central Montana, residents and work crews started cleaning up as the destruction left by a fast-moving, wind-fueled fire became clear.

The West Wind fire burned 25 homes, 18 secondary structures and six commercial buildings, according to the state Department of Natural Resources County Assist Team.

The buzz of machinery echoed throughout town as teams with chainsaws felled burned trees, backhoe operators piled debris that used to be homes and crews augured holes for new power poles. Power was expected to be restored to the community by the end of the day Friday.

While the town had a 275,000-gallon storage tank full of water, that was depleted quickly with people in town running sprinklers, hoses and anything else trying to keep their homes safe, Joel Barber said. One sprinkler was still running Friday morning. Other water sources were also drained.

We ran the spring dry; it was nothing but well water,” Barber said, adding that was partly attributable to drought this year but that he expected the spring to be replenished soon.

Pyrah said the fire started just off Highway 81 west of town around midnight Tuesday, and he was notified shortly after it was reported. He was immediately concerned given the unseasonably warm weather, dry fields and strong winds.

“December, 60 degrees at 4 o’clock in the morning’s not normal,” Pyrah said.

Like much of the state, central Montana including the Denton area remains in extreme drought. In nearby Lewistown, precipitation for the calendar year to date is 10.19 inches compared to an average of 16.69 inches. The average temperature for November was more than 7 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service in Great Falls.

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Bloomberg:

A U.K.-backed research group unveiled a design for a liquid hydrogen-powered airliner theoretically capable of matching the performance of current midsize aircraft without producing carbon emissions.

The FlyZero concept envisions a plane carrying 279 passengers non-stop from London to San Francisco at the same speed and comfort as today, the Aerospace Technology Institute said in a statementMonday. The group, a partnership between the U.K. government and industry, is meant to accelerate high-risk projects that will benefit home-grown firms. 

Hydrogen propulsion is seen as one of the most promising technologies for achieving carbon-neutral commercial flights. However it’s expensive and more challenging to store on board, and it will take years to develop the planes and build infrastructure such as airport refueling capacity.

The U.K., which hosted the COP26 climate summit last month, is funding new technologies to help create aerospace jobs while meeting its climate targets. The government has committed 1.95 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) of funding to ATI since its start in 2013 through 2026, an amount to be matched by industry. The FlyZero concept received 15 million pounds in government funding. 

“These designs could define the future of aerospace and aviation,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in the statement. “By working with industry, we are showing that truly carbon free flight could be possible, with hydrogen a frontrunner to replace conventional fossil fuels.”

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Right.
If you saw the (all too real) Christmas tweet from the (actual, sitting) congressman Thomas Massie, coming on the heels of the latest mass shooting, and sporting a Christmas (Prince of Peace!) theme, you may have thought the guy was a total triple “A” a-hole. And you’d be right.

And because it’s generally true that the most awful people tend to be science and climate change deniers, right, he is that as well. John Kerry called it right way back in 2020. This video is really something.

Just to underline the point, if even our former President can’t stand you, that’s, well, really something.

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