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Oilsands producers forced to transition as batteries gain momentum

Canada’s oilsands industry is in a race with other forms of crude production and emerging technologies such as electric cars to remain a relevant energy source in the coming decades, according to consultancy Deloitte LLP.

Oilsands producers face the risk of a “forced transition”

Among various scenarios, oilsands producers face the risk of a “forced transition” away from oil and natural gas as power generation is dominated by solar panels and wind turbines and as electricity replaces oil as a transportation fuel, Deloitte said in a report released Tuesday. Most of Canada’s oil and gas would be stranded and only the lowest-cost producers would survive by spending on innovative technology.

“Companies should reflect on what actions they might take today to provide resilience in the face of different future scenarios,” Andrew Swart, Daniel Rowe and Paul Craig wrote in the report.

Companies including Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd. and competitors have been slashing operating costs as they wait for crude prices to rise in order to deploy the latest, cost-saving equipment that will make oil production less carbon intensive. Canada’s industry is hampered by its higher costs and lack of access to global markets, which has depressed prices for commodities.

Another possible scenario would see hydrocarbons remain a significant source of global energy as commodity prices remain competitive and with only incremental improvements in battery technology, the report said. Foreign investment in Canadian oil and gas, as well as new pipelines, would allow companies to remain competitive in global markets.

No matter what, companies must focus on innovation to improve performance and engage with stakeholders to retain their social license to operate, the authors said.

Canada’s oil industry is on track to post a combined pre-tax losses of US$10 billion this year, following a record loss of US$11 billion in 2015, according to the Conference Board of Canada. The industry will likely return to profit next year, the group said in its industry outlook.

Source: Financial Post

Tesla Wins Massive Contract to Help Power the California Grid

Tesla just won a bid to supply grid-scale power in Southern California to help prevent electricity shortages following the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history. The Powerpacks, worth tens of millions of dollars, will be operational in record time—by the end of this year.

Tesla Motors Inc. will supply 20 megawatts (80 mWh) of energy storage to Southern California Edison as part of a wider effort to prevent blackouts by replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries. Tesla’s contribution is enough to power about 2,500 homes for a full day, the company said in a blog post on Thursday. But the real significance of the deal is the speed with which lithium-ion battery packs are being deployed.

“The storage is being procured in a record time frame,” months instead of years, said Yayoi Sekine, a battery analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It highlights the maturity of advanced technologies like energy storage to be contracted as a reliable resource in an emergency situation.”

Here’s a chart showing the acceleration of energy-storage deployment as batteries gain popularity.

The deal fits into Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That’s the same motivation behind his pending deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the rooftop solar company founded by his cousins, of which he is also chairman and the largest shareholder.

In total megawatt hours, the Tesla batteries will make up the biggest lithium-ion battery project in the world, though it will soon be surpassed by others under contract, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment on the value of the 20 megawatt deal. According to Tesla’s website, a 2-megawatt Tesla battery system costs about $2.9 million, and any contracts greater than 2.5 megawatts must be negotiated directly with the company.

Last fall’s natural gas leak at Alisa Canyon, near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch, released thousands of tons of methane before it was sealed in February. In its wake, SCE and other utilities are pursuing energy storage deals. To alleviate the risk of blackouts, regulators ordered the installation of systems to store electricity when demand is low and deploy it when usage spikes, especially during the winter heating season.

Although Sempra Energy plugged its massive gas leak in February, use of its Aliso Canyon complex, California’s biggest gas storage field, remains restricted. Grid-storage projects are now being fast-tracked and built in less than four months, compared to an average of three and a half years in previous procurements, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
In August, California regulators approved two contracts for AES Corp. to build 37 megawatts of grid-scale energy storage systems to address anticipated power shortfalls stemming from the Aliso Canyon leak.

“This isn’t a Tesla-only story,” Sekine said. “This is a broader energy win.”

Source: Bloomberg

The Earth’s Hottest Month in Recorded History was in July

WASHINGTON — Earth just broiled to its hottest month in recorded history, according to NASA.

Even after the fading of a strong El Nino, which spikes global temperatures on top of man-made climate change, July burst global temperature records.

NASA calculated that July 2016 was 0.84 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1950-1980 global average. That’s clearly hotter than the previous hotter month and warmer than the previous record of July 2011 and July 2015, which were so close they were said to be in a tie for the hottest month on record, said NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt.

Scientists blame mostly man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuel with an extra jump from the now-gone El Nino , which every few years is a natural warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.

Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said this is significant “because global temperatures continue to warm even as a record-breaking El Nino event has finally released its grip.”

NASA’s five hottest months on record are July 2016, July 2011, July 2015, July 2009 and August 2014. Only July 2015 was during an El Nino. Records go back to 1880.

This is the 10th record hot month in a row, according to NASA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculates temperatures slightly differently, will come out with its July figures on Wednesday. NOAA has figured there have been 14 monthly heat records broken in a row, before July.

“The scary thing is that we are moving into an era where it will be a surprise when each new month or year isn’t one of the hottest on record,” said Chris Field, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University.

This new record and all the records that have been broken recently years tell one cohesive story, said Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “The planet is getting warmer. It’s important for what it tells us about the future.”

 

Source: National Post

Pollution Sunset Smoke

Another Month, Another Record Broken

It’s no longer a question of whether 2016 will be the hottest on record, but by how large of a margin..

 

The El Niño warming pattern in the Pacific Ocean is over, but unprecedented heat remains across the planet. Last month was the hottest May in 137 years of record keeping, according to new reports from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common: May was the 13th consecutive month to set a new record, according to NOAA data released on Wednesday.

 

The extremes of recent months are such that we’re not even halfway into 2016 and there’s already a greater than 99% likelihood that this year will be the hottest on record, according to Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. NASA and NOAA maintain independent records of the Earth’s temperatures, but they both agree that last month was a scorcher.

 

If NASA’s Schmidt is right, 2016 will be the the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record—the first time that’s ever happened. So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.

 

Results from the world’s chief monitoring agencies vary slightly. The Japan Meteorological Agency said last month was the second-hottest May, not the hottest. Nevertheless, all agree that the extremes of 2016 are unrivaled in the modern climate record.

 

Some of this is still the result of last year’s monster El Niño, which releases heat from the Pacific that typically lingers for months after the underlying conditions subside. Now that El Niño has finally come to an end, it may soon shift to a cooling La Niña this summer, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The agency gives a 75 percent chance of a La Niña pattern developing in 2016.

 

As the effects of El Niño fade, the new monthly records have become less dramatic, as shown by the dip in the animation above. That doesn’t mean we’ll ever return to normal temperatures, said Deke Arndt, chief of the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. Climate change is like riding on an escalator of rising temperatures, he said, and El Nino is the same as jumping while you’re on it.

 

Still, coastal cities are flooding more regularly, wildfires are starting early, and the world is in the midst of the most prolonged die-off of the ocean’s coral ever witnessed. Beyond the cyclical changes, there’s no escaping the larger trend that we live on a planet that’s warming rapidly.

 

Now is the time to drop fossil fuels and convert to solar energy. these staggering numbers are becoming too regular and what must be done to prevent tragedy, is to transfer energy use from dangerous fossil fuels, to clean solar or wind energy.

Earth’s Rising Temperatures have Just hit a new Thunderous Point

The number of climate records broken in the last few years is astonishing. Though there’s a new level of misery: Not only did we just experience the hottest April in 137 years of record keeping, but it was the 12th consecutive month to set a new record.

 

It’s been relentless. May 2015 was the hottest May in records dating back all the way to 1880. Being followed by the hottest June, and along came a record July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March—and, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday—the hottest April. In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common. Still, a string of 12 of them is without precedent.

 

Perhaps even more remarkable is the magnitude of the new records. The extremes of recent months are such that we’re only four months into 2016 and already there’s a >99% chance that this year, once again, will be recorded the warmest year ever, according to Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

 

If NASA’s Schmidt is right, 2016 will be the the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record—the first time that’s ever happened. So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.

 

Results from the world’s chief monitoring agencies vary slightly, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration says April is only the seventh consecutive record-breaking month. But NASA, NOAA, and the Meteorological Center of Japan all agree that the extremes of 2016 are unrivaled in the modern climate record.

 

The NASA map below shows how heat was distributed across the globe last month. The most extreme heat blazed across the Arctic, where ice levels have been setting daily lows for this time of the year. Come summer, the ice cap at the top of the planet will likely be the smallest on record.

 

NASA world Heating Map

To be clear, some of this is the result of a monster El Niño weather pattern lingering in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño may finally be coming to an end, shifting this summer to a cooling La Niña by the time Arctic ice coverage reaches its nadir, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The agency gives a 75% chance of a La Niña pattern developing this year.

 

Beyond these cyclical changes, however, there seems no escaping the larger trend that we live on a planet that’s warming rapidly. Coastal cities are flooding more regularly, wildfires are starting early, and the world is in the midst of the most prolonged die-off of the ocean’s coral ever witnessed.

 

Perhaps most worrisome, if recent trends are any indication, is that it won’t be long before this record-hot year looks cool, compared to what’s coming.

 

The information in this article was gathered from Bloomberg.