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31 January 2015

Press review 31-01-2015 - Hopes for energy storage

For a change, this review starts with an highlight on renewable energies. Or better said: technologies that may facilitate the expansion of renewable energies. The liquid metal battery developed by American company EOS is coming to the market next year. This is one of the technologies I have been following closest in recent years and things start to look definitely good after real context testing (among which a pilot run by GDF Suez). The zinc cathode based battery is to sell for a third of a lithium-ion battery on a €/kWh basis, and boast an operational lifetime 5 to 10 times longer.

Is technology about to save us? Perhaps not, but developments like these clearly show that "collapse" is not the unavoidable predicament of Mankind. There are certainly other planetary constraints to overcome and the herculean task of swaying governments away from impoverishment centred policies. By ultimately, the Future is largely unknown, marred with bad and good surprises.

Clean Technica
Eos Energy Storage’s Aurora Battery System Commercially Available In 2016, At $160/kWh
James Ayre , 29-01-2015

Eos Energy Storage will be making its megawatt-scale Aurora system commercially available starting in 2016 at a price of $160/kWh, according to a recent press release.

The company’s standard offering, the Aurora 1000|4000 product, is a containerized 1 megawatt (MW) DC battery system that can provide roughly 4 hours of continuous discharge — thereby representing a fairly cost-effective energy storage solution that’s competitive with gas-peaking generation and/or conventional utility distribution.

“This system represents the culmination of many years of development and collaboration with our Genesis Partners to design a product with a clear value proposition,” stated Eos CEO Michael Oster.
And here is a fresh round up of various other technologies to keep an eye on the following years.
Mother Nature Network
Why everyone is talking about energy storage
Sami Grover, 31-01-2015

Ever since governments started getting serious about developing renewable energy, naysayers have been arguing that it's a pipe dream — after all, the sun doesn't always shine or the wind doesn't always blow. The questions raised always lead back to energy storage.

We've seen ideas about how to store renewable energy when it's abundant and cheap and use it again when demand is higher — from wind turbines that incorporate battery storage to vehicle-to-grid technology that uses electric cars' batteries as temporary storage to supplement the grid. But those concepts are just the beginning.

In fact, a recent report suggests that revenue from the distributed energy storage market — meaning battery packs and other storage devices located directly at homes and businesses (many of which now generate electricity through solar) — could exceed $16.5 billion by 2024. Another report predicts $68 billion in revenue in the same time frame from the grid-scale storage market. This includes large-scale battery packs, hydro-storage systems that use cheap abundant electricity to pump water uphill to drive turbines later on, or even solar thermal systems that store energy as heat in molten salt.

This is a quickly changing landscape. Here are some of the latest energy storage developments that are worth keeping an eye on.
Meanwhile Europe keeps on its race to the bottom, trying to solve its problems with economic recession. No amount of Quantitative Easing will ever fix wrong economic policies.
The Telegraph
Germany succumbs to Europe’s deflationary crisis
Peter Spence, 29-01-2015

Germany has succumbed to deflation for the first time in more than five years, and may not see inflation again before the year is out.

Inflation fell below zero for the first time since October 2009, according to preliminary estimates from statistics agency Destatis, as prices dropped by 0.3pc in the year to January.

Analysts had expected deflation - but not at this pace. A poll suggested that prices would fall by just 0.2pc in the period. Final results for January will be published on February 12.
The SYRIZA lead government in Greece is still very fresh, but turmoil is already brewing. The stock market collapsed and the negotiations with the so called "troika" were terminated. Midway in the week the Greek government seemed ready to boycott further sanctions on Russia; below go some interesting hints that may explain why.
Business Insider
Russia's Grip On Greece's Gas Has Created A Mess For The New Government In Athens
Tomas Hirst, 28-01-2015

Back in 2013, the Greek government under then-prime minister Antonis Samaras was attempting to implement a package of reforms that included the sale of state-owned assets to the private sector, including Greek gas firm Depa, one of the perceived "jewels in the crown." Depa was purportedly being targeted by Russian gas giant Gazprom for a takeover bid.

In May of that year, the Russian company offered €900 million for the company, well in excess of the only rival bid in the deal.

All of the signs on the ground were looking good. Gazprom chief executive Alexey Miller had flown to Athens in an effort, many believed, to oversee the deal personally and people close to the deal within the Greek establishment were briefing the press that an announcement was imminent.

They were right. It just wasn't the announcement they had been expecting.
The article below puts in perspective the collapse in commodities prices during the past few months, of which petroleum seems the most battered.
The Telegraph
Commodity prices collapse to lowest in 12 years
John Ficenec, 29-01-2015

The world's leading index of commodity prices has slumped to its lowest level in more than 12 years as China slows and America hints at tightening monetary policy.

The Bloomberg Commodity index, which tracks the prices of 22 different commodity prices such as gold, natural gas and oil, fell 0.3pc to 99.84 in early trading, the lowest point since August 2002.
In the US, the impact on the petroleum industry operating on source rocks is fast spreading to non energy companies that in recent years supplied the "shale boom".
The Economic Collapse
Why The Damage To The Economy Caused By The Oil Crash Is Going To Get Progressively Worse
Michael Snyder, 27-01-2015

We are really starting to see the price of oil weigh very heavily on the economy and on the stock market. On Tuesday, the Dow was down 291 points, and the primary reason for the decline was disappointing corporate sales numbers. For example, heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar is blaming the “dramatic decline in the price of oil” for much lower than anticipated sales during the fourth quarter of 2014. Even though Caterpillar is not an “energy company”, the price of oil is critical to their success. And the same could be said about thousands of other companies. That is why I have repeatedly stated that anyone who believes that collapsing oil prices are good for the U.S. economy is crazy. The key to how much damage this oil collapse is going to do to our economy is not how low prices ultimately go. Rather, the key is how long they stay at these low levels. If the price of oil went back to $80 a barrel next week, the damage would be fairly minimal. But if the price of oil stays at this current level for the remainder of 2015, the damage will be absolutely catastrophic. Just think of the price of oil like a hot iron. If you touch it for just a fraction of a second, it won’t do too much damage. But if you press it against your skin for an hour, you will be severely damaged for the rest of your life at the very least.
Scotland is the latest region in Europe to forbid source rock fracturation. These decisions are easier in times of low prices, but can only last if proper policies towards a resilient economy are set in place.
Could Drilling Moratorium be 'Nail in Coffin' for Fracking in Scotland?
Lauren McCauley, 28-01-2015

Citing public health and safety concerns, the Scottish government on Wednesday announced a ban against fracking until "the voices of the communities likely to be most affected are heard."

Introduced by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, the new policy places an open-ended moratorium on granting permits for unconventional gas drilling in the country.

"Fergus Ewing’s announcement today is huge victory for the communities, individuals and groups who have been campaigning to stop this dirty industry in Scotland," said Dr. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. "This moratorium is a very big nail in the coffin for the unconventional gas and fracking industry in Scotland."
One more clue that models of infinite growth and resource extraction must be promptly revised. This is not yet Peak Coal in China, but an appropriate reminder of the constraints facing an unsustainable economy.
China Daily
Chinese coal industry freezes over - CNCA

[...] Mr Jiang expects oversupply and pressure on miners to remain in 2015, as China seeks environmental protection and quality growth with clean energy, but coal production actually dropped last year for the first time since 2000, and Mr Jiang predicts another 2.5% drop this year.

Coal stockpiles with miners stand at around 87 million tonnes, up 2.6% from this time last year. Worse yet, power plants have 95 million tonnes piled up, waiting to be burned; 17% more than a year ago. Major coal companies recorded profits of CNY 110 billion in the first 11 months of 2014, down 44.4%.

CNCA analyst Mr Zhang Hong believes the oversupply headache won't go away any time soon and the entire sector will come under huge pressure this year.

Mr Zhang said that "Demand is slowing. Overcapacity is yet to be digested and environmental constraints are constantly in the headlines as we transform the growth mode."
In contrast to European governments, Indonesia is moving to tight its control over a key natural resource: copper. Free market ideals remain an hard sell, thus compromising access of wealthier countries to foreign resources.
This Critical Copper Nation Has Begun Seizing Mines
Dave Forest, 28-01-2015

An important saga for the global copper market is continuing to play out in one top-producing nation. With developments this week showing that the government here is moving ahead with ambitious plans to take greater control of the mining industry.

The place is Indonesia. Where officials said they will soon begin taking larger ownership stakes in projects, pushing existing operators to divest ownership.

Local media reported that the director general for Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, R. Sukhyar, has said major producer Freeport McMoRan will be one of the first firms compelled to divest a project interest. With the director general noting that plans are for Freeport to divest an initial 10.6% stake in its Indonesian subsidiary to the government.
New information emerged this week on the Sunni-Shiite war raging in the Near and Middle East. It once again points to the involvement of the US with both sides of the conflict.
The Express Tribune
Startling revelations: IS operative confesses to getting funds via US
Naveed Miraj, 28-01-2015

Law enforcing agencies on January 22 claimed that they arrested al Salafi, along with his two companions, during a joint raid in Lahore. However, sources revealed that al Salafi was actually arrested sometimes in December last year and it was only disclosed on January 22.

“During the investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source privy to the investigations revealed to Daily Express on the condition of anonymity.
New evidence of American soldiers fighting in Ukraine along side the nationalist army emerged in recent days. Mike Shedlock produced a detailed account of this recent information well worth reading (with the appropriate dose of scepticism). Note that German media Handlesblatt and Der Spiegel reported the presence of American soldiers in Ukraine as early as last May.
Global Economic Trend Analysis
Email From US Special Forces Veteran; 500 US Blackwater Mercenaries in Ukraine? US Backs Ukrainian Neo-Nazis
Mike Shedlock, 27-01-2015

In response to US Special Forces in Mariupol? I received an interesting email from "Dan" a 23-year Army veteran with four years in special services.

Dan writes ...
I was a soldier in the US Army for 23 years including four years in Special forces Stationed in Germany. I would agree that there is a strong likelihood that this is a US Special Forces soldier.
Closing a musical suggestion. Birds and Buildings is the name of a Zeuhl band from the US (who would imagine these two epitomes would ever marry ). And it is becoming a driving force in this select genre. The following track, Abominable Pelican is taken from the 2013 LP Multipurpose Trap.

Have a great weekend.

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