Tag Archives: Tesla

Climate clippings 201

1. Australian fund managers short Tesla and Elon Musk

When Elon Musk dramatically promised to build a grid-scale battery in South Australia, the media was enthralled. Share traders and a string of Australian fund managers smirked. They’d seen it all before, and were shorting him in the market.

In that very week he was in the market with plans to raise $US1.15 billion in equity and convertible notes. I understand also that Tesla has gone strangely quiet about SA since then. Continue reading Climate clippings 201

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

Climate clippings 191

1. Tesla solar roof cheaper than regular roof, with electricity “a bonus”

    Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has again set tongues wagging, this time with his declaration last week that his newly launched integrated solar roof tiles could actually cost less to install than a regular roof – making the renewable electricity they produce “just a bonus”. Continue reading Climate clippings 191

Climate clippings 180

1. Tesla car drives owner to hospital, saves his life

Missouri lawyer Joshua Neally was driving his Tesla Model X home from his office when he suffered piercing pain in his stomach and chest. Rather than call an ambulance he set his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode and headed for a hospital 20 miles (32km) down the road. He was able to park it and check himself in.

He suffered a pulmonary, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs. Very probably, the car saved his life. Continue reading Climate clippings 180

Climate clippings 168

1. Tesla 3 sales going gangbusters

    Demand for Tesla Motors’ new lower-priced electric car surprised even the company’s CEO Friday as 198,000 people plunked down $US1,000 ($1302) deposits to reserve their vehicles.

    The orders came from across the globe even though the car isn’t scheduled for sale until late in 2017.

Continue reading Climate clippings 168

Climate clippings 137

1. Unburnable Carbon: Why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground

That’s the title of a new report from the Climate Council.

    To have a 75% chance of meeting the 2°C warming limit, at least 77% of the world’s fossil fuels cannot be burned.

Climate clippings 128

1. Hot and cold

My sister in Toronto tells us how cold it has been. She can’t remember the last time it reached -5°C.

Yet NASA finds that Feb 2014 to Jan 2015 was the hottest 12 months on record. The picture tells the story:

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2. Record megadroughts predicted

The American Southwest and the great Plains could experience the worst megadroughts in ancient and modern times.

According to the findings, future droughts in both regions will be more severe than even the hottest, driest megadroughts of the 12th and 13th centuries, which are believed to have contributed to the fall of ancient Native American civilizations that inhabited the Southwest, such as the Pueblo Indians.

Climate Central gives the odds.

The chances of a megadrought (lasting 35 years or longer) are up to 50%.

The odds of a decade-long drought are around 90%.

There’s also a 5-10 percent chance that parts of the region could see a state of “permanent” megadrought lasting 50 years or longer under the highest-warming scenario, a greenhouse gas emissions path we’re currently on.

3. New era of climate action and hope

Christiana Figueres reckons 2015 is going to be a transformational year in climate change action. She of course is the boss-person of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is sponsoring the Paris talks in December.

Amongst other things she mentions the June Live Earth concerts initiated by Al Gore and Kevin Wall (reviving their 2007 effort) to be held in New York, South Africa, Australia, China, Brazil and Paris.

She also plugs the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative, including Lighthouse Activities.

4. UK parties in pact on climate change

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have agreed to work together to tackle climate change, as they warned it posed a threat to national security and economic prosperity.

In what might be seen as a surprising move in the run-up to the general election, the three party leaders have pledged to work “across party lines” to agree cuts to the UK’s carbon emissions.

They have also signed up to seeking a “fair, strong, legally binding” international climate deal, set to be negotiated in Paris at the end of the year, to limit global temperature rises to below 2C – the level beyond which “dangerous” climate change is expected.

And they pledged to move to a low-carbon economy, ending the use of coal without technology to capture and store its emissions for power generation. (Emphasis added)

5. Tesla’s fancy home battery

Tesla will start production in about six months, all going well.

“We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon.”

“Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directional inverter, and plug and play.”

Thanks to Geoff Henderson who linked to this one recently at Saturday Salon. Yes, it could indeed be a game changer.

6. Laser ignition to replace spark plugs

A team at Princeton Optronics working on replacing conventional spark plugs with laser igniters has produced a running engine and they claim that replacing spark ignition with lasers could improve the efficiency of gasoline powered engines by 27%. Considering that the basic design of the spark plug hasn’t really changed in over a century, this would be a revolutionary step, frickin’ lasers or not.

Because the spark plug is located on the edge of the combustion chamber, not all of the fuel is combusted. Laser ignition can be directed to the centre of the chamber, or in fact to multiple parts of the chamber in extremely rapid succession. Ignition can also be more accurately timed in relation to the movement of the piston. The result is a more complete burn and greater fuel efficiency.

7. Climate oscillations and the global warming faux pause

Michael Mann posts on research he was conducted, with others, on multidecadal climate oscillations in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. They found that the Pacific dominates and was the predominant cause of a slight slowing in predicted warming over the past decade-and-a-half or so.

It is possible that the downturn in the PMO [Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation] itself reflects a “dynamical response” of the climate to global warming. Indeed, I have suggested this possibility before. But the state-of-the-art climate model simulations analyzed in our current study suggest that this phenomenon is a manifestation of purely random, internal oscillations in the climate system.

This has implications for the future.

Given the pattern of past historical variation, this trend will likely reverse with internal variability, instead adding to anthropogenic warming in the coming decades.

The “false pause” may simply have been a cause for false complacency, when it comes to averting dangerous climate change.

Reminder Climate clippings is an open thread and can be used for exchanging news and views on climate.

Climate clippings 119

1. Abbott appoints fruitcake to assist Greg Hunt

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He says he’s not a denier or a sceptic, so let’s just call him a fruitcake. In the recent ministerial reshuffle Bob Baldwin has been moved from Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry to Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment Minister.

Baldwin told the Chinese that the climate had been changing for millions of years and we wouldn’t have coal, oil or gas without climate change. That’s a typical denialist tack. Elsewhere he quoted that well-known authority on everything, Queensland radio shock-jock Michael Smith. If the atmosphere was a bridge a kilometre long, he said, the first 770 metres would be nitrogen, the next 210 metres oxygen, and so on until you come to CO2. Australia’s contribution of CO2 is the equivalent to 0.18 millimetres, the width of a human hair.

2. Bernie Fraser sends a Christmas message to Abbott

Bernie

Basically, keep the Renewable Energy Target (RET), it all you’ve got, and the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) may not meet its initial target of 5% emissions reductions by 2020. In any case it is not scalable to meet the targets we are likely to be committed to post 2020.

The Climate Change Authority has just completed its review of the RET and a review of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), as mandated in the establishing legislation. I’d recommend reading Bernie’s Chairman’s Statement.

The CCA recommends extending the achievement date of the RET by up to three years, but this is the big picture:

The Authority has argued consistently throughout its short life that an effective policy response to the risks of climate change requires favourable winds on at least two fronts:

• first, a broad community consensus that climate change poses real risks to the community; and

• secondly, a well-stocked toolbox to be able to tap into opportunities to reduce emissions wherever they occur.

Neither exists today. The earlier broad political consensus has ruptured in recent years, and no early repair is in prospect. And the tool box is feeling less weighty, with the removal of the carbon pricing mechanism, an unproven ERF, and an uncertain outlook for the RET.

There’s more from Giles Parkinson who calls it “a damming assessment of Abbott government climate policy” and from Sophie Vorrath.

3. Harper flags carbon price rethink for Canada

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Before Christmas when Tony Abbott was asked what he’d achieved as Minister for Women he nominated dumping the carbon tax. At the same time the Canadian PM Stephen Harper, Abbott’s soul-mate on climate policy, suggested that he was open to a country-wide carbon pricing scheme similar to the one implemented in Alberta.

In Alberta, energy heavy polluting companies are required to reduce their energy intensity, or improve their energy efficiency, annually. If they don’t, they must contribute to a technology fund at $15 a tonne for carbon emissions.

“I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader,” Harper said in Wednesday’s interview.

4. Tesla pilots battery swap

Tesla is opening a battery swap station between Los Angeles and San Francisco on a pilot basis to see whether the idea goes anywhere. Zachary Shahan, the author of the linked piece, suggests perhaps not. The swap must be done by appointment and although it may be completed in less than a minute it would cost almost as much as a tank of premium. The alternative is free Supercharging for Tesla owners.

5. Technology on the move

In the same issue of RenewEconomy as the Tesla battery swap item above were three other technology announcements.

First, the ASX listed company Algae.Tec has issued rights to raise capital to build an algae biofuel plant in India.

Second, the ADF is looking to replace diesel generation with renewable energy to power Bathurst Island, north of Darwin, probably wind and solar.

Third, a solar plant that floats on water is being launched in South Korea.

6. Banks begin to take climate risk seriously

The large investor Australian Super has been asking banks about their climate change risk policies. It sounds as though banks are pretending to be more active than they really are, but it is clear that the investment landscape has changed forever. If the banks have not been actively concerned, they soon will.

Former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson, who chairs the Asset Owners Disclosure Project

is considering “naming and shaming” how the world’s 1000 biggest banks are responding to carbon risk, something it already does for pension funds.

Climate clippings 113

1. The Amazon is drying

AmazonRainforest_500_332_s_c1_c_c

Since 2000, rainfall has decreased by up to 25% across a vast swath of the southeastern Amazon, according to a new satellite analysis.

The area of concern is 12 times the size of California. The Amazon overall takes up 25% of the global carbon cycle that vegetation is responsible for, so it’s a significant carbon sink. With further drying the Amazon could become a carbon source rather than a sink.

Causes are not clear, but it’s possible that rainfall patterns have moved further north with global warming.

In related news, the re-election of Dilma Rousseff as president is seen as a significant negative for the environment in Brazil.

2. Great Barrier Reef protection plan ‘ignores the threat of climate change’

In its formal response to the Reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan, which was drawn up by the Australian and Queensland governments, the Australian Academy of Science states the strategy is “inadequate to achieve the goal of restoring or even maintaining the diminished outstanding universal value of the reef.”

There is “no adequate recognition” in the 2050 plan of the importance of curbing greenhouse gases.

Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and an academy fellow, said the plan was focused on the sustainable development of four “mega ports” adjacent to the reef, rather than conservation of the reef itself.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost around half its coral cover in the past 30 years. The question now is whether UNESCO will list the GBR as endangered.

3. Limiting global warming to 2°C is unlikely to save most coral reefs

In this recent post I mentioned that “preserving more than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below +1.5°C (atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) range: 1.3–1.8°C) relative to pre-industrial levels”. Following the links, the paper by K. Frieler at al is here.

It annoys me that the dangers to reefs from temperature change and ocean acidification are almost never mentioned, even by greenies. Opposition pollies should be speaking up too! That paper has been around since 2011.

4. Carbon capture and storage research budget slashed

The government has cut almost half a billion dollars from research into carbon capture and storage – which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deems crucial for continued use of coal – despite the prime minister insisting coal is the “foundation of our prosperity”.

In the budget the government cut $459.3m over three years from its carbon capture and storage flagship program, leaving $191.7m to continue existing projects for the next seven years. The program had already been cut by the previous Labor government and much of the funding remained unallocated.

John Connor, the chief executive of the Climate Institute, said CCS “has to be one of the clean energy options available because all the modelling says that to avoid temperature rises of more than two degrees, we have to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”.

The first full-scale CCS power plant, the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage Project in Canada, opened last month.

5. Poland rejects zero coal by 2100

Poland and a bunch of eastern Europe countries “have categorically rejected the target put forward by the world’s top climate scientists to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2100 to avoid dangerous global warming…”

You might recall that when Poland hosted the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in 2013 it was positively promoting coal.

The EU has not yet apportioned the effort between countries in planning to meet recently announced emissions reduction targets. The fun is about to begin!

6. Roof top solar in San Francisco

New regulations in San Francisco will require new buildings to have roof top solar or gardens or both.

7. Tesla solar supercharging network

Tesla is rolling out a solar supercharging network for electric vehicles throughout the world eventually. Soon they will make a beginning in Australia.

The superchargers provide half a full charge in as little as 20 minutes, and are usually located near amenities like roadside restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers. Usually they have between 4 and 10 stalls.

The $5 billion “giagfactory” to be built in Nevada will generate more than 100% of its electricity needs with wind and solar.

The world is changing!

8. News of energy storage is a big, big deal

So says Sophie Vorrath at RenewEconomy:

The big announcements keep coming from the energy storage sector, with news this week that US behind-the-meter startup, Stem, has been tapped to provide 85MW of distributed energy storage to households in the West Los Angeles Basin.

The deal, a multi-year agreement awarded to Stem by Southern California Edison (SCE), marks America’s largest distributed energy storage project to date, and the first time energy storage has competed with traditional energy sources like natural gas at this scale.

For its part of the deal, Stem will deploy its advanced, behind-the-meter energy storage technology at customer locations in the Western LA Basin to act as dispatchable capacity to enhance the local reliability of the region.

In other words, using the combination of storage and its proprietary software platform, Stem will allow customers to monitor and manage energy use, which in turn will provide additional capacity to SCE.

9. Billboard banned

You may have heard that Brisbane Airport banned a billboard suggesting to incoming G20 delegates that climate change should be on their agenda. Apparently the billboard was “too political”.

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Getup and a bunch of other NGOs are campaigning to have the decision reversed.

The billboard was based on the experience of South Australian grape grower David Bruer, a farmer from South Australia who lost $25,000 worth of grapes in one day when temperatures soared to 45°C last year.