Just so we’re clear.

But both “zero” and “net zero” lie ahead in the same general direction, so stay the course and hit the accelerator on clean energy.

Above, early solar panel and battery. In the 1950s, this would have been the most expensive form of electricity available. After a thousand-fold price drop, it is now the cheapest.

Bill McKibben on Substack:

The price of renewable energy is now falling nearly as fast as heat and rainfall records, and in the process perhaps offering us one possible way out. The public debate hasn’t caught up to the new reality—Bill Gates, in his recent bestseller on energy and climate, laments the “green premium” that must be paid for clean energy. But he (and virtually every other mainstream energy observer) is already wrong—and they’re all about to be spectacularly wrong, if the latest evidence turns out to be right.

            Last Wednesday, a team at Oxford University released a fascinating paper that I haven’t seen covered anywhere. Stirringly titled “Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition,” it makes the following argument: “compared to continuing with a fossil-fuel-based system, a rapid green energy transition will likely result in overall net savings of many trillions of dollars–even without accounting for climate damages or co-benefits of climate policy.” Short and muscular, the paper begins by pointing out that at the moment most energy technologies, from gas to solar, have converged on a price point of about $100 per megawatt hour. In the case of coal, gas, and oil, however, “after adjusting for inflation, prices now are very similar to what they were 140 years ago, and there is no obvious long-range trend.” Sun, wind, and batteries, however, have dropped exponentially at roughly ten percent a year for three decades. Solar power didn’t exist until the late 1950s; since that time it has dropped in price about three orders of magnitude.

Empirically GroundedTechnology Forecasts and the Energy Transition:

The long term trends provide a clue as to how this competition may be resolved: The prices of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are volatile, but after adjusting for inflation, prices now are very similar to what they were 140 years ago, and there is no obvious long range trend. In contrast, for several decades the costs of solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, and batteries have dropped (roughly) exponentially at a rate near 10% per year. The cost of solar PV has decreased by more than three orders of magnitude since its first commercial use in 1958.

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The ship is taking on water.

Reuters:

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Deep in the Oman desert lies one of BP’s more lucrative projects, a mass of steel pipes and cooling towers that showcases the British energy giant’s pioneering natural gas extraction technology.

The facility earned BP Plc (BP.L) more than $650 million in profits in 2019, according to financial filings reviewed by Reuters. Yet the oil major agreed to sell a third of its majority stake in the project earlier this year. The deal exemplifies a larger strategy to liquidate fossil-fuel assets to raise cash for investments in renewable-energy projects that BP concedes won’t make money for years.

BP’s big bet is emblematic of the hard choices confronting Big Oil. All oil majors face mounting pressure from regulators and investors worldwide to develop cleaner energy and divest from fossil fuels, a primary source of greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming. That scrutiny has increased since early August, when the United Nations panel on climate change warned in a landmark report that rising temperatures could soon spiral out of control.

BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney, who took office in February 2020, is gambling that BP can make the clean-energy transition much faster than its peers. Last year, he became the first major oil CEO to announce that he would purposely cut future production. He aims to slash BP’s output by 40%, or about 1 million barrels per day, an amount equal to the UK’s entire daily output in 2019. At the same time, BP would boost its capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources to 50 gigawatts, a 20-fold increase and equivalent to the power produced by 50 U.S. nuclear plants.

Ed Crooks is Vice Chair of Americas at Wood Mackenzie.

Shell.us:

Houston − Shell Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, has reached an agreement for the sale of its Permian business to ConocoPhillips, a leading shales developer in the basin, for $9.5 billion in cash. The transaction will transfer all of Shell’s interest in the Permian to ConocoPhillips, subject to regulatory approvals.

“After reviewing multiple strategies and portfolio options for our Permian assets, this transaction with ConocoPhillips emerged as a very compelling value proposition,” said Wael Sawan, Upstream Director. “This decision once again reflects our focus on value over volumes as well as disciplined stewardship of capital. This transaction, made possible by the Permian team’s outstanding operational performance, provides excellent value to our shareholders through accelerating cash delivery and additional distributions.”

Shell’s Upstream business plays a critical role in the Powering Progress strategy through a more focused, competitive and resilient portfolio that provides the energy the world needs today whilst funding shareholder distributions as well as the energy transition.

The cash proceeds from this transaction will be used to fund $7 billion in additional shareholder distributions after closing, with the remainder used for further strengthening of the balance sheet. These distributions will be in addition to our shareholder distributions in the range of 20-30% of cash flow from operations. The effective date of the transaction is July 1, 2021 with closing expected in Q4 2021.

Shell has been providing energy to U.S. customers for more than 100 years and plans to remain an energy leader in the country for decades to come.

Notes to editors

  • Shell’s Permian business includes ownership in approximately 225k net acres with current production of around 175 thousand barrels equivalent per day.
  • This transaction constitutes a Class 2 transaction for RDS plc under the UK Listing Rules. The gross assets that are subject of this transaction amounted to $10.5 billion December 31, 2020. The Permian business recorded a before-tax operating loss of $491 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. The transaction is expected to result in an after-tax gain of $2.4 to $2.6 billion, subject to adjustments.
  • A further update to Shell’s oil production outlook and portfolio will be provided with fourth quarter earnings.
  • Majority of Midland-based Permian employees and many Houston-based employees will be offered employment by ConocoPhillips with effect upon closing in accordance with the terms and conditions of the transaction.
  • Since 2017, Shell’s Permian operations have reduced green house gas and methane intensity by 80% through investment in infrastructure and technology.
  • Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. are serving as Shell’s financial advisors and Norton Rose Fulbright is serving as Shell’s legal advisor for the divestment.
  • Shell is one of America’s leading energy companies with interests in 50 states employing more than 15,000 people. Shell’s U.S. portfolio of operated companies and interests consists of oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, gasoline, lubricants, and other refined products along with renewables such as wind, solar, and mobility options like electric vehicle charging and hydrogen. In the U.S. Shell is also investing in an integrated power business that will provide electricity to millions of homes and businesses.
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Second Life for EV Batteries

September 20, 2021

There’s a meme out there that some kind of e-waste problem exists related to Lithium Ion batteries for electric vehicles.
In fact, the potential recycle value of such batteries is only beginning to be realized.

A typical EV battery will cycle many thousands of times, but there may come a point when the the battery will no longer, say, get you from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. At that point, the batteries will still perform at about 80 percent of their original specs, and it’s possible that owners might want to swap them out and sell them to an emerging market for energy storage, where they still have many years of useful life.

After a summer of extreme “NB4” (Never Before) events, I’m working on a video piece showing the increasing realization that climate change is not just about polar bears, but increasingly impacting bottom lines, and human health in expensive ways.
It’s important because the “cost of carbon”
My friend Dana Nuccitelli has this at Yale Climate Connections.

Dana Nuccitelli in Yale Climate Connections:

Those opposing a fast transition to renewable energy and other aggressive action to fight catastrophic climate change often argue that the economic costs would be too great.  Now, with the proliferation of extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, and other disasters linked to a changing climate, it has grown more apparent that the status quo also carries a cost – defined as the “social cost” of carbon.  But recent research indicates existing economic models may have low-balled those potential social costs by trillions of dollars.

Papers accounting for the value of nature and heat-related mortality conclude that the social cost of carbon is in the hundreds of dollars per ton of carbon dioxide pollution.  A new study published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL) also finds that the cost of doing nothing could be 15 times greater yet. The trillion-dollar question for climate economists is: will climate damages have persistent effects that result in slower economic growth?

“Climate change makes detrimental events like the recent heat wave in North America and the floods in Europe much more likely,” noted the new study’s co-author Chris Brierley of the University College London. “If we stop assuming that economies recover from such events within months, the costs of warming look much higher than usually stated. We still need a better understanding of how climate alters economic growth, but even in the presence of small long-term effects, cutting emissions becomes much more urgent.”

The Obama administration pegged the social cost of carbon at about $50 per ton, but the Trump administration reduced the federal social cost of carbon estimate to near zeroby heavily discounting the value of future generations and entirely disregarding the wellbeing of humans beyond U.S. borders. The Biden administration reversed those changes by restoring the Obama administration estimate and now is in the process of incorporating the latest research to further update the value.

In a separate but relevant new report, the World Meteorological Organization has found that over the past five decades, the number of extreme weather disasters has increased fivefold globally and associated costs have increased sevenfold. More than half of those costs have been borne by the United States, largely because of damages resulting from extreme Atlantic hurricanes like Katrina in 2005, Harvey, Maria, and Irma in 2017, Sandy in 2012, and Andrew in 1992. Damages from these storms totaled almost $500 billion (nearly $1.2 trillion when adjusted for inflation). This year’s Hurricane Ida is expected to add $95 billion to that total. And as the latest IPCC report concluded, hotter global temperatures and ocean waters will cause a greater proportion of tropical cyclones to rapidly intensify and become dangerous Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Many climate-economics models have assumed the global economy will keep growing at a steady rate no matter how much the climate changes. Over the past decade, more and more climate economists have questioned this assumption, noting that economies will increasingly struggle to fully recover from persistent and worsening climate damages.

UC Davis climate economist Frances Moore, who was not involved in the new ERL study, said the novel part of its approach involves figuring in the possibility of “partial persistence” of damages from climate change.  “This is probably a more realistic representation of what is really going on” as opposed to previous studies that either chalked up damages as permanent “or not persistent at all.”

The ERL study concluded that if just 10% of economic damages from climate change were to persist and reduce economic growth, the social cost of carbon would increase by a factor of 15, into the thousands of dollars per ton. Moreover, the authors found that these adverse economic impacts would be heavily borne by countries in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America: developing countries that have contributed the least to the climate crisis, but which are the most vulnerable to its impacts as a result of  their already hot climates and lack of resources available for adaptation efforts.

The study authors also investigated the possibility that countries could reinforce their resilience to persistent climate damages through adaptation measures. They concluded that keeping the social cost of carbon below $600 per ton “would require lowering the persistence of temperature-related economic impacts by half within less than 25 years.” Such an approach would require immense investments in climate adaptation that would be especially difficult for poorer countries to afford.

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Above, a perfect storm of outages at UK Nuclear stations (below), plus uncertainties about natural gas, snow deficit and warmth affecting Norwegian hydro, and low winds in recent weeks have all created a crunch in European power markets.

Reuters:

BRUSSELS/LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Record high power prices in European Union countries show the bloc must wean itself off fossil fuels and speed up the transition to green energy, the EU’s top climate change official said on Tuesday.

Wholesale European power prices have doubled this year, driven by factors including soaring coal and gas prices, surging CO2 prices and lower than usual renewable energy output. 

The EU’s Green Deal seeks to overhaul the bloc’s economy to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a goal that will require huge investments in low-carbon power and infrastructure.

“Had we had the Green Deal five years earlier, we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependence on fossil fuels and on natural gas,” European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Timmermans said that even as fossil fuel prices have soared, costs for renewable generation have remained low and stable.

That should encourage the EU to speed up its green transition, to ensure more citizens have access to affordable renewable energy, he said. read more 

European carbon prices, which also impact the cost of electricity, have also surged to record highs this year, but Timmermans said they were not the main culprit for soaring energy costs.

“Only about one fifth of the [power] price increase can be attributed to CO2 prices rising,” he said.

The EU carbon benchmark contract is trading at around 61 euros ($72.01) a tonne, not far off an all-time high set this month as more ambitious EU climate targets have helped buoy prices.

A Bank of Spain analysis published last month said that gas prices were responsible for roughly half of the recent surge in Spanish electricity prices, while carbon had caused a fifth of the power price increase. read more 

To bring down soaring power costs, the Spanish government said this week it would cap gas prices, cut taxes and redirect energy company profits. It also plans to auction 3.3 gigawatts of renewable capacity, betting that building out clean energy will lower prices in the long term.

Regular readers know that long term electric storage is a dynamic and increasingly crowded space right now, with a number of leading contenders, many of whom will probably find their place in the coming decade.

Below, important to remember not just the importance of new storage technologies, but also new business models like the virtual power plant model that Tesla is now proposing at scale for Texas.

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John Nolte in Breitbart (I won’t link to that fascist rag):

In a country where elections are decided on razor-thin margins, does it not benefit one side if their opponents simply drop dead?

If I wanted to use reverse psychology to convince people not to get a life-saving vaccination, I would do exactly what Stern and the left are doing… I would bully and taunt and mock and ridicule you for not getting vaccinated, knowing the human response would be, Hey, fuck you, I’m never getting vaccinated!

And why is that a perfectly human response? Because no one ever wants to feel like they are being bullied or ridiculed or mocked or pushed into doing anything.

Who wants to cave to piece of shit like Howard Stern (or Jimmy Kimmel or these repulsive doctors refusing to treat the unvaccinated or Bette Midler or, or, or…) Who wants to feel like they’re caving to a guy who’s such a piece of shit he publicly mocks people who have died. And he’s not just a piece of shit mocking them; he’s a piece of shit hurting the families the dead men left behind.

No one wants to cave to a piece of shit like that, or a scumbag like Fauci, or any of the scumbags at CNNLOL, so we don’t. And what’s the result? They’re all vaccinated, and we’re not! And when you look at the numbers, the only numbers that matter, which is who’s dying, it’s overwhelmingly the unvaccinated who are dying, and they have just manipulated millions of their political enemies into the unvaccinated camp.

According to the CDC, 99.5 percent of those dying of the China Flu are unvaccinated. So even if they’re lying or exaggerating, even if it’s 75 or 80 percent, those numbers are pretty stark.

Could it be…? Could it possibly be that the left has manipulated huge swathes of Trump voters into believing they are owning the left by not taking the life-saving Trump Vaccine?

Here’s Stern:

Long-time radio host and media personality Howard Stern laughed as he mocked a string of right-wing radio hosts who died of Covid after publicly stating their opposition to forced vaccine and mask mandates.

On Tuesday’s edition of Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show, the host took pleasure in mocking several late radio hosts with whom he disagreed, as he made the case for a mandatory vaccination program.

‘It’s really funny when these radio, the radio guys are the best, they’re like four of them died, four of them were like ranting on the air,’ he cackled.

Have you ever thought that maybe the left has us right where they want us?

Just stand back for a moment and think about this…

Right now, a countless number of Trump supporters believe they are owning the left by refusing to take a life-saving vaccine — a vaccine, by the way, everyone on the left has taken. Oh, and so has Trump.

Now think about this…

On this very day, about 1,000 people in the U.S. will die of the China Flu. How many of those lives could’ve been saved had they been vaccinated? Is it 998?

Is it 778?

Is it 229?

Does it matter?

And if the left is all vaccinated and we’re not, who’s winning?

The push for mandates is another ploy to get us to dig in and not do what’s best for ourselves because no one wants to feel like they’re caving to a mandate.

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“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Phillips

Decolonial Atlas:

Just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. The guys who run those companies – and they are mostly guys – have gotten rich on the backs of literally all life on Earth. Their business model relies on the destruction of the only home humanity has ever known. Meanwhile, we misdirect our outrage at our neighbors, friends, and family for using plastic straws or not recycling. If there is anyone who deserves the outrage of all 7.5 billion of us, it’s these 100 people right here. Combined, they control the majority of the world’s mineral rights – the “right” to exploit the remaining unextracted oil, gas, and coal. They need to know that we won’t leave them alone until they agree to Keep It In The Ground. Not just their companies, but them. Now it’s personal.

Peter Kalmus in the Guardian:

The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”.

These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown.

First, consider “by 2050”. This deadline feels comfortably far away, encouraging further climate procrastination. Who feels urgency over a deadline in 2050? This is convenient for the world’s elected leaders, who typically have term limits of between three and five years, less so for anyone who needs a livable planet.

Pathways for achieving net zero by 2050 – meaning that in 2050 any carbon emissions would be balanced by CO2 withdrawn through natural means, like forests, and through hypothetical carbon-trapping technology – are designed to give roughly even odds for keeping global heating below 1.5C. But it’s now apparent that even the current 1.1C of global heating is not a “safe” level. Climate catastrophes are arriving with a frequency and ferocity that have shocked climate scientists. The fact that climate models failed to predict the intensity of the summer’s heatwaves and flooding suggests that severe impacts will come sooner than previously thought. Madagascar is on the brink of the first climate famine, and developments such as multi-regional crop losses and climate warfare even before reaching 1.5C should no longer be ruled out.

Meanwhile, “net zero” is a phrase that represents magical thinking rooted in our society’s technology fetish. Just presuppose enough hypothetical carbon capture and you can pencil out a plan for meeting any climate goal, even while allowing the fossil fuel industry to keep growing. While there may be useful negative-emissions strategies such as reforestation and conservation agriculture, their carbon capture potential is small compared with cumulative fossil fuel carbon emissions, and their effects may not be permanent. Policymakers are betting the future of life on Earth that someone will invent some kind of whiz-bang tech to draw down CO2 at a massive scale.

The world’s largest direct air capture facility opened this month in Iceland; if it works, it will capture one ten-millionth of humanity’s current emissions, and due to its expense it is not yet scalable. It is the deepest of moral failures to casually saddle today’s young people with a critical task that may prove unfeasible by orders of magnitude – and expecting them to somehow accomplish this amid worsening heatwaves, fires, storms and floods that will pummel financial, insurance, infrastructure, water, food, health and political systems.

It should tell us all we need to know about “net zero by 2050” that it is supported by fossil fuel executives, and that climate uber-villain Rupert Murdoch has embraced it through his News Corp Australia mouthpiece.

So where does this leave us? Stabilizing the rapidly escalating destruction of the Earth will require directly scaling back and ultimately ending fossil fuels. To lower the odds of civilizational collapse, society must shift into emergency mode.

It will be easy to tell when society has begun this shift: leaders will begin to take actions that actually inflict pain on big oil, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing a moratorium on all new oil and gas infrastructure.

Below, one of my more popular videos gives some context for the Tobacco/fossil fuel connection.

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Coming: Cat 7 Caines?

September 17, 2021

After reduction to the official measurement height of 10 m, this would still rank as one of the highest surface gusts ever measured in a hurricane. Record: 211 mph, Hurricane Gustav, 2008, Cuba. 2nd place: 186 mph, Long Island Express Hurricane, Blue Hill Observatory, MA, 1938.

According to Sim Aberson of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, the record for surface winds from dropsondes by the Hurricane Hunters is 248 mph 153 m above the surface in Typhoon Megi (2010); a sonde in Hurricane Felix (2007) reported 219 mph 38 m above the surface.

Originally tweeted by Jeff Masters (@DrJeffMasters) on September 18, 2021.

Michael Mann on MSN.com:

Imagine a world where Category 6 hurricanes threaten the East Coast, with sustained winds of 200 mph and storm surges in the 30-foot range. The devastation would be almost unimaginable — all the glass blown out of high-rise buildings, homes wiped off their foundations, and neighborhoods well inland completely underwater from the storm surge.

In some ways, we don’t have to imagine it — we are already living in a new era of superstorms. Category 5 is what we use to identify the strongest hurricanes on the planet, with sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or more. But some Atlantic hurricanes, such as Dorian in 2019, have had sustained winds in the 185 miles-per-hour range. That’s arguably strong enough to merit a Category 6 designation.Climate change has reached an unprecedented level, with little time to act, a stark new UN report finds

Thanks to human-caused climate change, we are hurtling toward a world where such Category 6 storms may become a familiarity. Estimates are that the maximum wind speeds of Atlantic hurricanes increase about 17 miles per hour per degree Celsius. That’s enough to shift storms a whole category given 1 degree Celsius (approximately 2 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, which is what we’ve already seen over the past century.

The calls for adding this next category of storms are growing louder. And I’ve added my voice to them. My own scientific work adds to a growing body of research suggesting that climate change is exacerbating the coastal threat from these storms.Welcome to the Climate Apocalypse. (It will get worse.)

If the concept of a Category 6 storm isn’t scary enough, there may be an even worse future in store if we fail to act on the climate crisis. Picture an EF-5 tornado hundreds of miles wide scouring the landscape. That would be the same as a theoretical Category 7 hurricane packing 220-plus miles-per-hour sustained winds and a 40-foot storm surge that could swamp a coastal metropolis and leave a region uninhabitable for years. The human toll would be unbearable.

Let the chips fall where they may.

CNBC:

Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced Tuesday that they’ve formed a joint venture to create, produce and market snacks and drinks with plant-based substitutes.

Shares of Beyond jumped as much as 31% in morning trading on the news, while Pepsi’s stock rose about 1%. The run in Beyond Meat may have been helped by hedge funds rushing to cover their bets against the stock, a trend unfolding in may heavily-shorted names this year. More than 38% of the Beyond Meat shares available for trading are sold short, according to FactSet.

The partnership gives Beyond, a relative newcomer to the food world, a chance to leverage Pepsi’s production and marketing expertise for new products. For its part, Pepsi can deepen its investment in plant-based categories, which are growing increasingly crowded, while working with one of the top creators of meat substitutes.

Beyond Meat controls about 13% of the meat alternatives category in the U.S., according to estimates from Jefferies.

“PepsiCo represents the ideal partner for us in this exciting endeavor, one of global reach and importance,” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement.

Operations will be managed through a limited liability corporation called The PLANeT Partnership. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The partnership also helps Pepsi work toward its sustainability goals. Last year, the company signed the United Nations’ pledge, committing to set science-based emissions reduction targets. A 2019 report from the UN found that the food system contributes to 37% of greenhouse-gas emissions. In recent years, Pepsi also has been trying to cut down the amount of sugar in its products and add healthier snacks and drinks to its portfolio.

“Plant-based proteins represent an exciting growth opportunity for us, a new frontier in our efforts to build a more sustainable food system and be a positive force for people and the planet, while meeting consumer demand for an expanded portfolio of more nutritious products,” Ram Krishnan, Pepsi’s Global Chief Commercial Officer, said in a statement. 

JPMorgan analyst Ken Goldman said in a note to clients that he views the partnership as an “incremental positive” for Beyond, but he thinks that the stock move has overshot the actual opportunity.

“We merely question how big the market size is for these products,” Goldman wrote. “Is there a huge, uncounted population clamoring for vegan Doritos? Probably not, in our opinion, and surely not big enough to justify this kind of stock move.”

Shares of PepsiCo are roughly flat over the last year, giving it a market value of $196 billion. The food and beverage giant has seen higher sales during the pandemic, thanks to consumer stockpiling and less exposure to away-from-home occasions than its rival Coca-Cola.

As of Monday’s close, Beyond’s stock has risen more than 32% in the last year, despite the blow to its business by the coronavirus pandemic, which hurt its sales to restaurants. The company has a market value of $9.95 billion.