Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills – The New York Times

“Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses.

The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive.

In Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and New York, rates are up about 15 percent, according to the Energy Department’s latest figures. Combined with a seasonal increase in the use of electricity as people turn on air-conditioners, the higher rates will leave many people paying a lot more for power this summer than they did last year.”

More big-tech billionaires backing next-gen nuclear startups — ANS / Nuclear Newswire

“The trend of big-tech billionaires of Silicon Valley investing in next-generation nuclear energy startup companies continues. In a March 22 article on the Bloomberg website, Lizette Chapman, of the site’s venture capital group, writes that these investors view nuclear power as “a solution to both cutting carbon emissions and weaning the world off now-controversial Russian gas.”

According to the article, venture funding for startups focusing on nuclear energy reached a peak in 2021, with an investment amount that year of $3.4 billion. That amount compares with $381 million in 2020 and only $131 million back in 2012.”

Source: More big-tech billionaires backing next-gen nuclear startups — ANS / Nuclear Newswire

How the Recoil From Russian Gas Is Scrambling World Markets – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/business/russia-europe-natural-gas.html

Stanley Reed, a longtime global energy correspondent, reported this article from London.

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“Just months ago, Germany’s plans to build a terminal for receiving shiploads of liquefied natural gas were in disarray. Would-be developers were not convinced customers would make enough use of a facility that can cost billions of dollars. And concerns about climate change undermined the future of a fossil fuel like natural gas.

Perceptions have changed. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s threats to sever fuel supplies, the government in Berlin has decided it needs these massive facilities — as many as four of them — to wean the country off Russian gas and act as a lifeline in case Moscow turns off the taps. The cost to the taxpayer now seems to be a secondary consideration.”

Dennis Blair and Joseph Dunford Jr. | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

“. . . . Are the United States and its allies adequately focused on the risks of today’s energy reality? Have they positioned themselves for a future in which they have ready access to the raw materials essential to emerging technologies?

The answer is no — they are at risk of being usurped by adversaries. And perhaps the biggest threat ahead is China. The United States and its allies are making strides to harness diverse and clean energy sources like wind, solar and hydrogen. They are smartly deploying electric vehicles to end our dependence on oil and its market-controlling cartel. Increases in battery efficiency are helping to encourage both trends.

But the danger of the electric vehicle transition especially is that it will convert America’s current vulnerability to oil and gas markets to dependence on a supply chain for critical minerals for advanced batteries that is now controlled by and flows through China.

Over a decade ago, China made a strategic decision to corner the world of electrification. It made substantial investments in the manufacture of batteries and the assembly of electric vehicles, as well as in the mining and processing of minerals vital for E.V.s.

Electric vehicle batteries at a workshop in Nanjing, in the Jiangsu Province of China.

Credit…Xu Congjun/VCG, via Getty Images

As of 2020, Chinese firms controlled more than 60 percent of the world’s lithium and nickel refining and over 70 percent of cobalt refining, according to a report prepared by the consulting firm Roland Berger for SAFE, the energy security group that one of us chairs. These are essential for lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles. The same report found that U.S. companies account for only 4 percent of lithium, 1 percent of nickel and zero percent of cobalt refining. Further along this supply chain, Chinese companies produce 41 percent of the cathodes and 71 percent of the anodes used in E.V. batteries. The United States produces essentially none of these key components.

The bottom line is that the United States now depends heavily on supply chains from nations that do not share our interests and values. Policymakers must heed this risk or risk being held hostage by these nations.”   . . .

David Lindsay: Excellent opinion piece. Here are the two top comments, I also recommended.

The Poet McTeagle
CaliforniaFeb. 22
Times Pick

It’s not just EV assembly and battery cell manufacturing. It’s everything else, like robot manufacturing, because robots make the EVs. Also all the bolts, washers, other parts and computer chips and paint and everything else that makes robots and EVs. Offshoring all manufacturing to China was a really bad idea in the first place. It happened because Big Money saw big profits to be made. Those in government went along with Big Money, because it’s Big Money that controls our government.

11 Replies524 Recommended

Chris commented February 22

Chris
Times Pick

It’s not that we can’t. It’s that we don’t. We don’t build stuff anymore. The real problem seems related to how corporate america likes to manage businesses. Building products, innovating is difficult business. It’s tricky, doesn’t always pan out, and can often result in lower profit margins. Senior managers in this country want 20% growth with 60% profit margins. They want low capital investment. That’s why we have silicon valley and social media companies. That’s why we’re so good at advertising. It’s isn’t the natural competitive advantage of nations. But rather the culture of executive leadership and risk tolerance in capital markets that drives this. Executives and investors in Chinese companies do not have these constraints. At some point wall street has to get back to investing in boring companies that build stuff.

15 Replies400 Recommended

Admiral Blair and General Dunford | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

Dennis C. Blair and 

Admiral Blair, who retired from the Navy in 2002, was a director of national intelligence in the Obama administration and served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. General Dunford was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Obama and Trump administrations. Before that, he served as commandant of the Marines.

“Russia’s belligerence against Ukraine is underscoring once again the inextricable link between national security and energy security. Today, Russia is flexing its energy dominance over a dependent Europe. But tomorrow, the danger may come from China and its control over the raw materials that are key to a clean energy future.

The United States and its allies must ensure that doesn’t happen.

In recent years America has been lulled into a false sense of energy independence. The shale revolution of the past decade has generated incredible supplies of vital natural gas and oil. European countries, blessed with diverse economies, have also felt relatively secure in recent years. But that is changing.

Germany now depends on Russian suppliers for as much as two-thirds of its natural gas and the European Union for about 40 percent. And as it phases out its nuclear power plants by year’s end, Germany, Europe’s largest economic force, has appeared more hesitant than its peers to forcefully confront the Kremlin. Moscow sees Europe’s energy dependence for what it is: a supply chain dynamic it can control and exploit at will.”

What Happens if Russia Cuts Off Europe’s Natural Gas? – The New York Times

“While Russia masses troops and military equipment near its border with Ukraine, parallel tensions have been building in world energy markets.

It is not hard to see why. Natural gas flowing through a web of pipelines from Russia heats homes and power factories across much of Europe. Russia is also one of the continent’s key sources of oil.

Now Western officials are considering what happens if Moscow issues a doomsday response to the tensions — a cutoff of those gas and oil supplies, in the depths of Europe’s winter.

The standoff over Ukraine comes at an inopportune time. World energy prices are already elevated as supplies of oil and natural gas have lagged the recovery of demand from the pandemic.”

Exxon Sets a 2050 Goal for Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/business/exxon-net-zero-emissions.html

“HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil, under increasing pressure from investors to address climate change, announced on Tuesday that it had the “ambition” to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2050.

The oil company, the largest in the United States, still remains behind several of its major competitors in its public climate commitments.

Exxon said it had identified 150 modifications of its exploration and production practices to help reach its goals, including electrification of operations with energy from renewable sources. Initial steps will include elimination of the flaring and venting of methane, a byproduct of drilling that is a powerful greenhouse gas.”

“. . . Exxon’s targets include so-called Scope 1 emissions, which are produced directly by the company, and Scope 2 emissions from the generation of power that Exxon buys, such as electricity supplied by utilities.

But the new policies stop short of including Scope 3 emissions, which result from the combustion of fuels by drivers and other customers, as well as other companies along Exxon’s supply chain. The overwhelming majority of emissions linked to companies are Scope 3, and they are the hardest to control or compensate for.

European companies have begun to embrace commitments to Scope 3, which will require immense efforts, including reforestation, the capture and removal of carbon from operations, and technological advances such as fuels made from recycled carbon. Many of the companies are selling off hydrocarbon businesses and redirecting resources to renewable energy like solar and wind power.” . . . .

Shell, the largest European oil company, has set a 2050 target for net zero emissions that includes Scope 3, which it says accounts for over 90 percent of its emissions. Equinor, the Norwegian national oil company, has a similar target, as does BP, although it excluded its joint operations with Rosneft, a Russian company.

Manchin’s Choice on Build Back Better: Mine Workers or Mine Owners – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For years, burly men in camouflage hunting jackets have been a constant presence in the Capitol Hill office of Senator Joe Manchin III, their United Mine Workers logos giving away their mission: to lobby not only for the interests of coal, but also on more personal matters such as pensions, health care and funding to address black lung disease.

So when the miners’ union and the West Virginia A.F.L.-C.I.O. came out last month with statements pleading for passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act — just hours after Mr. Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said he was a “no” — the Capitol took notice.”

As Western Oil Giants Cut Production, State-Owned Companies Step Up – The New York Times

By Clifford KraussOct. 14, 2021, 9:52 a.m. ETHOUSTON — After years of pumping more oil and gas, Western energy giants like BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron are slowing down production as they switch to renewable energy or cut costs after being bruised by the pandemic.But that doesn’t mean that the world will have less oil. That’s because state-owned oil companies in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America are taking advantage of the cutbacks by investor-owned oil companies by cranking up their production.This massive shift could reverse a decade-long trend of rising domestic oil and gas production that turned the United States into a net exporter of oil, gasoline, natural gas and other petroleum products, and make America more dependent on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, authoritarian leaders and politically unstable countries.

Op-Ed: How Congress could curtail the Big Oil gravy train – Los Angeles Times

“The fossil fuel industry is a poster child for corporate welfare.

Federal subsidies and tax breaks prop up fossil fuel development, even when drilling projects should be too expensive to turn a profit. Below-market leasing rates, royalties and fees subsidize oil and gas companies, encouraging them to exploit our public lands and leaving taxpayers on the hook for the environmental damage.

In the “Build Back Better” Act, Congress has an opportunity to make oil and gas corporations play by the same rules as everyone else. The House has included common-sense oil and gas reforms in its version of the bill, and the Senate should follow suit.

Taxpayers should get a fair return from oil and gas companies that drill on publicly owned lands and waters. The House bill would make this change. Right now, these polluters pay below-market rates to extract resources that belong to all Americans.”

Source: Op-Ed: How Congress could curtail the Big Oil gravy train – Los Angeles Times