All that noise about Cobalt? A whole bunch of people who could give a rats ass about what happens to children in the developing world suddenly got all wound up about cobalt mining in the Congo when they realized that Electric vehicles are for real.
Anyway, about that? Technology making it irrelevant.

Associated Press:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The energy startup SPARKZ said Tuesday it will locate an electric battery factory in northern West Virginia.

The batteries will be built at a 482,000-square-foot (4.5-hectare) plant in Taylor County off U.S. Route 50 near Bridgeport, the company said in a statement. The plant, which eventually will employ 350 workers, originally was a glass factory that ceased operations in 2009. 

The plant will produce cobalt-free batteries, an effort to bring down the cost of U.S. lithium-ion battery production. The Democratic Republic of Congo has historically been the top producer of cobalt worldwide, with most mines controlled by Chinese companies.

In March the Livermore, California-based company announced intentions to build the plant. An agreement with the United Mine Workers union was announced in May to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the factory’s first production workers. West Virginia has lost thousands of jobs in mining and other resource extraction industries in recent years.


Wall Street Journal:

Coal used to keep utility rates low in West Virginia. More recently, it has caused them to rise faster than in most other states.

Jason Zeigler said his monthly electricity bill for his 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house on a hilly street just outside this city on the Ohio River hit $368.91 this spring. Like his neighbors, Mr. Zeigler said he has spent thousands of dollars to buy more efficient appliances, adding insulation to his attic and switching to lightbulbs that use less energy. His bills are still rising in a state that generates 91% of its electricity from coal, more than any other state.

“I’m not one of these coal or nothing people. You’ve got to diversify your energy,” said Mr. Zeigler, a physical-therapist assistant. He and his wife have spent less on clothes, restaurants and vacations as their bills climbed, he said.

Utility rates have been rising for years in West Virginia, where coal has long played an outsize role in the economy. Keeping mines open has been a priority, even as jobs in the industry have dwindled and coal-fired power plants elsewhere have closed.

While electricity rates have risen nationally due to higher costs for fuel and environmental upgrades, among other things, rates have risen faster in West Virginia than most other states, as the state has clung to coal generation.

A governor-appointed commission that sets utility rates is pushing to keep coal plants open longer while ensuring they burn more coal. Critics said the moves aren’t helping the coal industry and put a high burden on ratepayers in a state with the second-lowest median household income behind Mississippi, according to Census Bureau data.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gas as a weapon.

Meanwhile, disciplined Germans furiously working to save and store gas for the coming winter. Will it be enough?


The nightmare scenario of a cold winter without access to heating seems to be off the table, according to Germany’s economy minister, while Russian gas now accounts for less than 10% of Germany’s consumption.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that targets set by the government for the filling of gas storage facilities had been reached ahead of schedule, staving off the worst fears of severe gas shortagesthis winter.

“The reservoirs are filling up quicker than planned,” he told German magazine Der Spiegel according to a report published on Sunday.

The government target of reaching 85% storage capacity by October could be achieved by the beginning of September, according to Habeck’s ministry.

Germany is currently trying to secure alternative sources of gas to prevent an acute shortage during the cold winter months, as it tries to wean itself off Russian fuel following the invasion of Ukraine.

Germany finds alternative sources

Storage levels have already reached around 82%, according to the European operators’ group GIE. The next target is 95% by November 1, which at the current rate should also be met ahead of time.

However, Russia is planning to shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days from August 31. Gas flows from Russia have already been reduced to 20% of the pipeline’s capacity for several weeks.

But while Russian gas accounted for 55% of Germany’s consumption in 2021, this has been squashed down to just 9.5% this August. Gas imports from Norway and the Netherlands now make up the brunt of Germany’s supply.


European natural gas and power prices plunged the most in months after Germany said its stores of the fossil fuel are filling up faster than planned. 

Benchmark Dutch futures and German power slumped more than 20% on Monday, paring the dizzying rally seen in the past few weeks. Gas stores in Germany are expected to be 85% full next month, ahead of an October target, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday. 

While that’s welcome news for the market, the fundamental picture still looks bleak: even with full storage sites, Germany risks not being able to go through the winter if Russia halts flows to the region’s largest economy. In response, the European Union is planning urgent reform of the power market in a bid to dampen the soaring prices.

Big lesson of the OPEC oil embargo and price gouging of the 1970s was how quickly business and industry adjusted and became more efficient. Energy demand turned out to be much more “elastic” than anyone, except maybe Amory Lovins, could understand.

Russia’s gas war is rocket fuel for the transition.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ll be talking to lead author Jason Box soon, stay tuned.

Too little water breaking the system in the Southwest.
In Jackson, MS, it’s too much water that’s breaking outdated infrastructure.

The New Age of Sail

August 30, 2022

Via email:

These unique innovative ships foreshadow a fleet for the decarbonization of an industry which seeks credible and realistic ways to cope with the climate crisis from a maritime perspective.

By doing so, TOWT is responding to the demand for decarbonisation, transparency, reliability and operational flexibility from its multiple clients, on the four continents.
The first vessel is scheduled for delivery in late 2023, in Concarneau (France), while the second will be delivered in spring 2024.
Sailing cargo ships for the future
These ships of 80 metres long will carry more than 1,100 tonnes of cargo (i.e. nearly 50 semi-trailers or over 100 containers), with 12 passengers on board, two masts (schooners), and nearly 3,000 m² of sails.
The two vessels will ship cargo on behalf of over 50 committed clients at speed about 10 knots reducing by more than 90% the carbon footprint, to and from the four continents, forming the first principally wind-moved fleet of this kind.

State level version of Coal-Rolling.