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Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas

The global energy transition is happening faster than the models predicted, according to a report released today by the Rocky Mountain Institute, thanks to massive investments in the advanced-battery technology ecosystem.

Previous and planned investments total $150 billion through 2023, RMI calculates—the equivalent of every person in the world chipping in $20. In the first half of 2019 alone, venture-capital firms contributed $1.4 billion to energy storage technology companies.

“These investments will push both Li-ion and new battery technologies across competitive thresholds for new applications more quickly than anticipated,” according to RMI. “This, in turn, will reduce the costs of decarbonization in key sectors and speed the global energy transition beyond the expectations of mainstream global energy models.”

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RMI’s “Breakthrough Batteries” report anticipates “self-reinforcing feedback loops” between public policy, manufacturing, research and development, and economies of scale. Those loops will drive battery performance higher while pushing costs as low as $87/kWh by 2025. (Bloomberg put the current cost at $187/kwh earlier this year.)

“These changes are already contributing to cancellations of planned natural-gas power generation,” states the report. “The need for these new natural-gas plants can be offset through clean-energy portfolios (CEPs) of energy storage, efficiency, renewable energy, and demand response.”

New natural-gas plants risk becoming stranded assets (unable to compete with renewables+storage before they’ve paid off their capital cost), while existing natural-gas plants cease to be competitive as soon as 2021, RMI predicts.

RMI analysts expect lithium-ion to remain the dominant battery technology through 2023, steadily improving in performance, but then they anticipate a suite of advanced battery technologies coming online to cater to specific uses:

Heavier transport will use solid-state batteries such as rechargeable zinc alkaline, Li-metal, and Li- sulfur. The electric grid will adopt low-cost and long-duration batteries such as zinc-based, flow, and high-temperature batteries. And when EVs become ubiquitous—raising the demand for fast charging—high-power batteries will proliferate.

Many of these alternative battery technologies will leap from the lab to the marketplace by 2030, the report predicts.

Some of these changes will be driven outside the U.S., specifically in countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines that prefer smaller vehicles. Read More: Why The U.S. Will Lag Behind The Global Transition To Electric Vehicles.

RMI analyzed the four major energy-storage markets—China, the U.S., the European Union and India—and found two major trends that apply to each: 1) “Mobility markets are driving the demand and the cost declines,” and 2) “the nascent grid storage market is about to take off.”

China dominates the market for electric vehicles and solar photovoltaic technologies, thanks to early, large and consistent investment. The RMI report notes that China also has an advantage in upstream ore processing, critical materials and component manufacturing.

The report does not, however, explore what happens should China weaponize those advantages in the trade war, restricting or embargoing imports of critical materials to the U.S.

“An expanded trade war looms large over all industries and the entire global economy and is not in the interest of either the U.S. or China, and it is unproductive to speculate on the potential scope or outcomes of a battery or minerals-related action,” two of the report’s four authors, Charlie Bloch and James Newcomb, told me in an email.

“China is no doubt aware of the long-term economic opportunity associated with being a reliable manufacturer of batteries and the risk that escalating trade war actions by either side could damage the US-China economic relationship in this important area.”

They added that manufacturers, investors, start-ups, and government officials are taking steps to mitigate the potential impact of such a risk, such as continued development of low- and no-cobalt batteries chemistries.

For more about China’s hold on critical minerals, read 4 Reasons The Developed World Is In Big Trouble With Critical Minerals.

9 Worries That Keep The Natural-Gas Magnates Awake At Night

Forbes Jeff McMahon

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’ve covered the energy and environment beat since 1985, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in a dumpster. That story ran in the Arizona Republic, and I have chased electrons and pollutants ever since, for dailies in Arizona and California, for alternative weeklies including New Times and Newcity, for online innovators such as The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth project, The New York Times Company’s LifeWire syndicate, and True/Slant—the prototype for the new Forbes. I’ve wandered far afield—to cover the counterrevolutionary war in Nicaragua, the World Series Earthquake in San Francisco, the UN Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Paris. I also teach journalism, argument and scientific writing at the University of Chicago. Email me here: jeffmcmahon.com/contact-jeff-mcmahon/

Source: Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas

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Which battery metal will offer the biggest return for investors? Watch as Chris Parry from Equity.Guru discusses with Mitchell Smith, President & CEO of Global Energy Metals Corporation (TSXV: GEMC), Larry Reaugh, CEO of American Manganese Inc. (TSXV: AMY) and A. Paul Gill, CEO of Lomiko Metals Inc. (TSXV: LMR). Join us at an upcoming event! http://www.cambridgehouse.com Stay Connected! http://www.cambridgehouse.com/ https://twitter.com/cambridge https://www.facebook.com/cambridgehou… Copyright © 2018 Cambridge House International Inc. All rights reserved.

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Before We Talk About Green Energy, Let’s Talk About Batteries

A new report from the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy seeks to assess the signs of whether there will be a gradual or a rapid “energy transition.”  In other words, will global economies switch from fossil fuels to renewable energies slowly or all at once?

The report takes for granted that the world will transition to using renewable energies—mainly solar and wind—by the middle of this century. However, the report omits a crucial piece of technological development from its forecast: batteries.

The few times batteries are mentioned, they are generally referred to as “storage,” because batteries are essentially just storage containers for electricity or power. The report draws conclusion like, “Even as penetration [of renewable power] rises, technologies such as storage and demand response are likely to make higher levels of penetration cheaper.”

This is serious flaw with the conclusions and forecasts because we do not yet have that technology to make better and cheaper batteries, and we don’t know when or if we will.

Solar and wind offer the promise of a plentiful, clean power. Yet, we still need to improve the efficiency of their power production, and we need to find a way to effectively store the power they produce. The wind does not always blow, and the sun does not always shine.

If and when we find the ability to store the excess power created by wind and solar (and hydro and nuclear and anything else), we will be well on our way to much cleaner energy production. Right now our batteries cannot store that kind of power over the long term, regularly recharge, and last for years.

Someday, someone will invent the new generation of batteries that will revolutionize energy use. When they do, the transition to renewable energy will surely be rapid. This breakthrough could be as close as a few years away. Or perhaps it won’t come for decades.

However, making assumptions about the speed at which global economies can transition away from fossil fuels without a revolution in battery technology is just wishful thinking. Investment and innovation in battery and energy storage technology is still needed before we can transition away from fossil fuels.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m an energy historian writing about how governments and energy businesses interact globally. My work looks at how policy, wars, diplomacy, the stock market, oil pricing, and innovation impact the future of energy. I am the president of Transversal Consulting, a firm that provides consulting on energy and geopolitics to a range of industries. I am also a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. My book, Saudi, Inc., (Pegasus Books, 2018) covers the history and policy of Aramco and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Before We Talk About Green Energy, Let’s Talk About Batteries

How will green energy change our future? What will our future look like with green energy? The growth of green energy goes together with change. Our future will not only include green energy, but our future will also be shaped by it. What will the future sustainable world look like? That is the big question, now that the global transition towards sustainable energy is gaining momentum. For the growth of sustainable energy involves a lot more changes than just the color of the power supplied to our homes. How will we build, how will our mobility be impacted, and will energy, one day, be free? Just like the Internet turned out to have an unforeseen influence on all kinds of industries, from music to taxi businesses, the transition towards sustainable energy will also rise beyond the energy sector. And with a much wider impact than is now assumed. But we know surprisingly little about what that world will look like, and how the people in it will live, work and move around. Expectations are that, by the 2050s, two-thirds of the electricity generated globally will be sustainable. The Netherlands is ambitious too. But what kind of world are we heading for, really, with all these sustainable measures? In partial areas, the future is clear: a massive stop to the use of gas, lots of windmills and solar panels, and perhaps a self-driving car outside. But, for now, there is no wider vision of what the sustainable new world will look like. What will the world be like once energy has become practically free? What will the impact of the transition towards sustainable energy be on the balance of power in the world? A journey along places where the sustainable future is already (nearly) visible. In China, for example, old collapsed coal mines are given a new destination as solar parks. In Denmark, the power plants of the future also serve as skiing slopes. And in Malmö, Sweden, new leases are signed with green fingers. Original title: Voorbij de groene horizon With: Bjarke Ingels (architect, BIG Copenhagen), Peggy Liu (green pioneer JUCCCE Shanghai) and Varun Sivaram (author ‘Taming the Sun’ and expert clean energy technology Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC). Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2018. © VPRO Backlight October 2018 On VPRO broadcast you will find nonfiction videos with English subtitles, French subtitles and Spanish subtitles, such as documentaries, short interviews and documentary series. VPRO Documentary publishes one new subtitled documentary about current affairs, finance, sustainability, climate change or politics every week. We research subjects like politics, world economy, society and science with experts and try to grasp the essence of prominent trends and developments. Subscribe to our channel for great, subtitled, recent documentaries. Visit additional youtube channels bij VPRO broadcast: VPRO Broadcast, all international VPRO programs: https://www.youtube.com/VPRObroadcast VPRO DOK, German only documentaries: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBi0… VPRO Metropolis, remarkable stories from all over the world: https://www.youtube.com/user/VPROmetr… VPRO World Stories, the travel series of VPRO: https://www.youtube.com/VPROworldstories VPRO Extra, additional footage and one off’s: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTLr… www.VPRObroadcast.com Credits: Director: Martijn Kieft Research:William de Bruijn Camera: Jacko van´t Hof, Hans Bouma, Remco Bikkers Sound: Cloud Wang, Mark Witte, Dennis Kersten Fixer China: Liyan Ma Edit: Michiel Hazebroek, Jeroen van den Berk Online Editor: Sanne Stevens Production: Jeroen Beumer Commissioning Editors: Marije Meerman, Doke Romeijn English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson. French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.

Net Zero Natural Gas Plant The Game Changer

NET Power’s 50 MWth Demonstration Plant in La Porte, Texas.

An actual game changing technology is being demonstrated as we sit in our air-conditioned abodes reading this. And it is being demonstrated by North Carolina–based Net Power at a new plant in La Porte, Texas.

The process involves burning fossil fuel with oxygen instead of air to generate electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide (CO2). Not using air also avoids generating NOx, the main atmospheric and health contaminant emitted from gas plants.

Included in a group of technologies known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), zero-emission fossil fuel plants have been a dream never realized in practice, as it always seems to cost a lot, adding between 5¢ and 10¢ per kWh. This is probably because most attempts just add on another step after the traditional electricity generation steps, almost as an afterthought.

Some fossil fuel plants have tried, and failed, the most famous one recently being the $7.5 billion coal power plant in Kemper, Mississippi.

But this new technology completely changes the steps and the approach from the ground up. It is based on the Allam Cycle, a new, high-pressure, oxy-fuel, supercritical CO2 cycle that generates low-cost electricity from fossil fuels while producing near-zero air emissions.

All CO2 that is generated by the cycle is produced as a high-pressure, pipeline-ready by-product for use in enhanced oil recovery and industrial processes, or that can be sequestered underground in tight geologic formations where it will not get out to the atmosphere for millions of years.

The Allam Cycle also means the power plant is a lot smaller and can be sited in more areas than older plants can.

The Allam Cycle of Net Power’s new zero-emission natural gas plant.

The Allam Cycle of Net Power’s new zero-emission natural gas plant.

Net Power

This 50 MW Texas plant is demonstrating that the technology works, especially to investors. So the project has some heavy hitters as partners – Exelon Generation will operate the plant, the infrastructure firm CB&I will provide engineering and construction, 8 Rivers Capital, Net Power’s parent will provide continuing technology development, and Toshiba will develop the key components, particularly its new CO2-turbine.

Most power plants rely on thermal power cycles for energy production. These systems create heat by burning fossil fuel using the oxygen in air. In coal plants, this takes place in a large boiler, where coal is burned and water is boiled to create high pressure steam.  This high-pressure steam then expands through a steam turbine, creating power.

In combined cycle gas turbine power plants, natural gas or coal syngas is burned in a combustor with compressed air. The heated gases then expand and drive a gas turbine. The turbine exhaust is extremely hot, so it is subsequently used to boil water to create high pressure steam and drive a steam turbine, thereby combining cycles. In both systems, aqueous steam is essential to the process as a working fluid.

Not so in an Allum Cycle plant like Net Power’s. At their Texas demonstration plant, the natural gas is burned with a mixture of hot CO2 and oxygen, known as oxy-combustion. The resulting working fluid is a mix of high-pressure CO2 and water, which is subsequently expanded through a turbine and then cooled in a heat exchanger (a recuperator).

This is key. The turbine is not turned with steam, but with CO2.

The water then condenses and is separated out, leaving a pure vapor-phase CO2 stream. That stream is compressed and pumped back up to high pressure for re-use, but the excess CO2 is sent to a pipeline, ready for export.

The remaining fluid stream is reheated in the recuperator and makes its way back to the combustor, where the hot, high-pressure CO2 helps the combustor achieve a final inlet temperature of about 1,150°C as it combusts with fresh natural gas and oxygen, the high temperature raising the efficiency significantly.

The plant can also be air-cooled, at the cost of a little efficiency, to avoid water use in arid regions and to actually produce water from the methane and oxygen.

By using a CO2 working fluid at very high pressures as opposed to steam, NET Power avoids the phase changes that cause steam cycles to be so inefficient. Instead of driving a steam cycle and losing heat energy up a stack, NET Power keeps heat within the system, meaning less fuel is needed for the turbine to reach the required operating temperature.

And they don’t even have a stack.

Federal tax credits for carbon-capture projects are helping get this demonstration off the ground, providing a $50 tax credit for every ton of carbon sequestered. The NET Power plant captures all of its CO2 as part of its process, recycles some and diverts some for sale.

Adam Goff, a principal at NET Power’s parent company, discussed how this technology will really make a difference to global warming – in developing countries. These countries desperately need energy and are planning to install thousands of traditional coal plants, representing the largest potential increase in carbon emissions over the next several decades.

Said Goff, “…most projects aren’t going to be in the U.S. They’re going to be in your developing countries in Asia and in Africa, so you’re going to see China, India, Indonesia. To do that you have to be really cheap. You have to be at cost parity if not better than cost parity with conventional generation.”

The CO2 angle is very unique. NET Power’s plant produces a high-pressure, high-quality CO2 byproduct that is pipeline-ready. This CO2 can be sequestered or used in industrial processes, such as enhanced oil recovery. EOR is a decades-old process that uses CO2 to extract significantly more oil from old oilfields while permanently storing CO2 underground. In the United States alone, 85 billion barrels of oil are recoverable using EOR.

Most industrial CO2 capture technologies cannot produce cost-effective, EOR-ready CO2, despite the fact that the industry is tremendously CO2-starved. NET Power will have both the capacity and economics to enable the EOR industry to unlock this vast resource while simultaneously sequestering CO2 from thousands of power plants below ground.

And it is the sequestering of CO2 that is probably the most difficult part of this process. Yes, we can use CO2 now, but if we go to these net zero plants in a big way, we don’t have enough industrial need for all the CO2 from generating trillions of kWhs every year.

So it will have to be injected underground, and so far that hasn’t been successful in any big way without some side effects, like earthquakes. But that is a geoengineering need we can address.

The cost of electricity generated by Net Power is even more interesting. The plant doesn’t just sell power like most plants, it also sells the CO2 and other cycle by-products including nitrogen and argon.

These sales bring the cost of electricity from NET Power’s plant down to 1.9¢ per kilowatt hour, Goff said, compared to 4.2¢ for a traditional combined cycle natural gas plant, making this the cheapest source of electricity, and with no carbon emissions.

If the plant in La Porte performs as expected, and as it has so far, this is a real game changer for natural gas. Since the United States is sitting on more natural gas than any country in the world, and it’s getting cheaper to get it out of the ground, this is no small game to change.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I have been a scientist in the field of the earth and environmental sciences for 33 years, specializing in geologic disposal of nuclear waste, energy-related research

Source: Net Zero Natural Gas Plant — The Game Changer

In South America, Utilities’ Digital Transformation Starts With Culture

Abstract Black And Golden Globe With Glowing Networks - Europe

Abastible has been providing energy to its customers in Chile since 1956. A subsidiary of the holding company Empresas Copec S.A., Abastible is one of the country’s three main utility providers and was recently recognized as the leader in corporate reputation for the third year running.

But to keep its good standing with customers, Abastible knew it needed to innovate, which included a pivot towards renewable energy sources. Paulina Toro, human resources manager at Abastible, says “Our management decided that gas-powered electricity was not enough in this world. We needed to create clean energy alternatives as well.”

The company also know it needed to deliver great customer experiences by creating offerings that made their lives easier and more efficient. Management viewed digital transformation as the key to innovation.

Toro explains that adopting digital technologies would also help create new business models to spur growth and gain new customers. “For us, digital transformation is about survival and continuing to gain customers,” she says.

If Abastible kept the same business model, the company feared it would inhibit growth. With the expansion of the company across South America to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, Abastible had prioritized innovation to help it compete for both B2B and B2C consumers in these markets.

One example of Abastible’s customer-focused innovation is an app that allows people to order propane gas, measure how much is left in their cylinder (in Latin America gas is delivered to homes and businesses in cylinders,) or check their account at any time. Previously, these activities required a phone call to customer service during regular business hours.

But Toro points out that Abastible’s efforts to become more customer focused and think digitally about innovation required a culture shift using SAP SuccessFactors’ cloud-based human capital management solutions to help build a more innovative mindset.

“SuccessFactors helps us to be much closer to people. It also supports our employees’ effort to have more agility in all the operations,” says Toro. Previously, her team used a manual system to engage with employees. Now they have education and self-service tools – all available on mobile devices. She continues, “People see us differently, more available to help people.”

But more important, she says that since the system went live late last year, “the perception is that SAP Success Factors is helping employees to think digitally. Because we’ve moved to self-service digital HR processes, it’s helped build a digital mentality amongst employees.” In future, Toro hopes that SAP solutions will help management to understand what employees think and feel about various corporate initiatives.

Abastible also uses SAP for its enterprise resource planning (ERP); the Colombian subsidiary has deployed SAP S/4HANA, the latest version of SAP’s flagship ERP suite.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, Edenor is the biggest power company with 3 million customers in Buenos Aires city and the northern area of the country, and 5,000 employees. The company has used SAP since 1997 for core business functions including field operations and maintenance of its powerlines. SAP solutions also form the IT backbone that supports all back office and administrative activities.

Like Abastible, Edenor is undergoing a digital transformation and similarly, cultural change is critically important. Luis Lenkiewicz, Chief Information Officer, says, “The company is changing its internal culture. Before we were oriented to the field, not the client. Now we’re more focused on our customers.”

He explains that the company has had to adapt to new government regulations for utilities in Argentina. Since the economic crisis of 2001, the government had subsidized and set energy tariffs. “But two years ago, the new government deregulated our industry and we were able to set prices. So now we need to focus on the client experience. This has really impacted our process, culture and technology,” says Lenkiewicz.

Industry experts also see a corporate trend towards becoming more customer focused across Latin American. “In Latin America, 37 percent of businesses mentioned that their digital transformation goals are aligned at the enterprise level to near-term strategy — and include digital customer product and experience initiatives,” said Juan Pablo Seminara, program manager for consumer and enterprise research in Latin American at analyst firm, IDC.

Lenkiewicz explains, “We’re trying to become a customer-focused company so it’s really important to have the technology to support those processes.” SAP Success Factors and SAP Jam Collaboration (a cloud-based collaboration tool,) have helped the company align employees towards its new mission and encouraged them to work together, breaking down silos across departments.

In one example of early success, the company has optimized its supply chain. Now, with a more efficient way to predict and procure the materials required to create power, Edenor can provide better customer service and respond to problems more efficiently. For example, if a blackout occurs, the team has the resources it needs to restore power more quickly.

Moving forward, the Edenor team is working with partner, Edison, to map out a digital footprint for all its business processes. This will help improve and simplify workflows, allowing Edenor to increase agility and provide a better experience for customers.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I’ve been in the technology industry for over 15 years, communicating stories about products, innovation and corporate social responsibility. I’m passionate about technology – how it works, how it impacts people and how it can be used for social good. Before my career in tech, I was pursuing my PhD in American History. Connect with me on Twitter here: @robin_meyerhoff

How Scientists Are Tapping Algae & Plant Waste To Fuel A Sustainable Energy Future -The New York Times

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The water isn’t for drinking. It’s salty, warm and thick with microscopic algae: tiny organisms that might be the future of green energy. In a world that relies on oil, fuels made from these organisms could offer a lower-carbon alternative to diesel, providing cleaner energy for trucks, planes, boats and pretty much anything else with a diesel fuel tank. “We’re working to decrease our overall carbon footprint,” says Kelsey McNeely, who leads ExxonMobil’s biofuels research and development. “I think that’s why we recognize fuels made from algae and plant-based sources could be part of the solution……..

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/paidpost/exxonmobil/the-future-of-energy-it-may-come-from-where-you-least-expect.html?%2520tbs_nyt=2018-Oct-nytoffsite_pocket&cpv_dsm_id=190678299&sr_source=lift_pocket

 

 

 

 

 

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