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By Robert Rapier on Dec 24, 2013 with 5 responses

Top Energy Stories of 2013 – Honorable Mention

Tags: Top 10

My Top 10 energy related stories of 2013 ended up being a 3,500 word story, so I decided to break it up into three parts. Today I will list some of the stories that could have arguably been placed in a list of Top 10 energy stories for the year. Later this week I will list stories 6-10 of my Top 10, and then early next week I will list my Top 5.

Note that this list of Honorable Mentions simply entails the headline without any detail, and are in no particular order. The Top 10 goes into detail on each story, which is why the story ended up being so long.

Honorable Mentions

  • Tokyo Electric Power Company acknowledged that its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
  • Two years ago lawyer Steven Donziger won a huge judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. This year Chevron took him to court for fraud.
  • After years of delays, Kashagan — the world’s second-largest oil field — started to produce crude in Kazakhstan.
  • Following failed attempts by three oil majors, Poland became the first country in Europe to produce shale gas from hydraulic fracturing.
  • Venezuela suffered a massive power outage that left 70% of the country without power.
  • The Oil Drum — where I cut my teeth writing about energy — was archived after more than 8 years of operation. You can see my farewell post on The Oil Drum here.
  • Germany recorded a record 23.9 GW of electricity generated from solar power.
  • BP began to aggressively challenge financial claims from the Gulf Oil Spill that it deems to be inflated or fraudulent.
  • Electric car venture Better Place — valued at $2.25 billion two years ago — filed for bankruptcy after sluggish sales ended their dreams.
  • An explosion caused by a gas leak at the headquarters of PEMEX killed 37 people.
  • Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced his resignation. He was replaced by MIT physicist Ernest Moniz.
  • The EPA announced plans to cut the allowable limit of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds.
  • Daily measurements of carbon dioxide at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab in Hawaii topped 400 parts per million for the first time.
  • Alaska is attempting to stem its steep decline in oil production by repealing taxes that the Governor Sarah Palin had put in place, which had given Alaska one of the highest oil tax rates in the country
  • The Brent-WTI price spread that proved so profitable to refiners in 2012 collapsed in 2013 (which I predicted would happen).

Link to Original Article: Top Energy Stories of 2013 – Honorable Mention

By Robert Rapier. (You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.)

 

  1. By Robert Wilson on December 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm
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  2. By Forrest on December 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Fuel cell R&D still active especially Ford and Daimler. I read an engineering piece on Ford thinking the fuel cell will be the answer to efficient low polluting auto power. Battery technology not projected to replace much traditional IC engines, nor hybrids. Mini hybrids will provide most benefits at fraction of cost. This the forecast of our transportation fleet 2040. If they were to get the cost of fuel cell down …. it would be disruptive technology. The efficiency, low pollution, weight, range, reliability, low component count, simplicity, and low maintenance would drastically change our transportation sector. Also, it probably change the grid. Current technology of co-generation of power and heat very cost effective in high heat load specific locations. Honda has invested in this early technology. Small IC natural gas engine of ultra long service life and quietness provide hot water heat from exhaust and engine cooling water while powering an AC generator. The engine is not nearly as efficient as typical power plant production of electric, but unlike homes generation of electric needs, power plants have little use for heat waste. Combining the heat generation and use with electric power of the home unit is much more efficient than power plant operation. Currently, the technology produces more heat than household needs. The fuel cell would correct the imbalance and could disrupt the power plant/grid electric distribution system within country settings. No line loss of power, no costly electric grid, ultra low pollution, no backup power required, very high safeguard of power, and low cost. If fuel cell technology becomes cost effective the only utility needed would be natural gas. You auto fuel cell could double for household needs as well.

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  3. By Tom G. on December 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Its been a while since I posted something so the subject of fuel cells sounds kind of interesting. I give the fuel cell about the same 25% chance of success as I gave the EPA and Chrysler minivan hydraulic hybrid vehicle and here is why.

    First, we need to develop some cost effective method[s] to obtain the hydrogen; as in natural gas or electrolysis.

    Second, we need to build a trillion dollar hydrogen infrastructure.

    Third, we need to supply the hydrogen to hydrogen fueling station and AAA Tow Truck drivers for people who run out of hydrogen on the road, LOL.

    Fourth, smarter people will need drive to hydrogen fueling stations sooner or later for refueling again and again and again and again.

    Fifth, 200 million Americans will need to learn how to deal with either low or high pressure hydrogen refueling.

    Sixth, repeat the process at periodic intervals.

    Now lets try something different

    First, put some solar panels in the sun

    Two, convert the solar DC to AC at multi megawatt facilities or on your homes roof and transmit that power to your electric vehicle or to the grid using the our existing infrastructure.

    Three, plug in your electric vehicle when it needs more power at your home or at a charging station.

    Fourth, drive where ever you want to go and re-charge from any existing 120 or 240V power source. Did I mention that infrastructure already exist, LOL

    Five, repeat steps three and four.

    Forget the new taxes to pay for the trillion dollar hydrogen infrastructure and the training of hundreds of millions of drivers how to deal with high pressure combustible gasses. Forget the periodic visits to your local gas [hydrogen] station.

    O.K. so that was fun wasn’t it. Of course automotive manufacturers are betting on any technology that will keep “we the people” coming back for more and more FUEL regardless of the type of FUEL. Be it gasoline, diesel, hydrogen or something else. It is my belief that it won’t be long [maybe less than 10 years] before natural gas [source of hydrogen] prices once again rise. Our so called cheap 100 year supply of natural gas will most likely magically disappeared once we start shipping billions of cubic feet to other countries and there is nothing to stop that from happening. Many countries would be happy to get LNG at $12.

    I still believe that the best long term strategy for the individual consumer is solar + electric vehicles for most driving [~80-90%]. Battery technology is improving every year and costs are dropping about 7% per year. Solar panels and inverters prices have fallen to near commodity pricing. In many states. Building Codes now require charging circuits be included in new home construction.

    Do fuel cells have a niche to fill; of course they do, but I just don’t see them as mainstream in the transportation sector. We are already building induction charging systems into some roads as test cases. A couple of cities are testing buses that use inductive charging plates to recharge the vehicle without the driver ever leaving the vehicle. We are or have been creating hundreds of rapid charging stations along our Interstate highways in some states.

    At the ripe old age of 73 I can see an end to some of the traditional things we once took for granted. Things like going to filling station; changing our oil and filters, air breathers and transmission fluid. Brakes on electric or hybrid vehicles with regenerative braking can easily last 150-200,000 miles since the braking energy is feed back into the batteries. Before 2030 arrives I believe most or many of our streets and some highways will have built in inductive charging. Many of our children today will never visit a filling station in their lifetime.

    O.K. done for today. Have a great day everyone.

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    • By Forrest on December 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Both systems utilize electric motors and control systems for energy conversion. Chemical electric energy storage very potent upon fuel cell and unlimited capacity whereas the battery has limited life and capacity. Also, the battery will never have energy conversion equivalency say to move trains and heavy trucks. Their niche appears to be light vehicle in inner city short trip. The trend of lower cost and increasing capacity does not automatically foretell of future dominance. Inside research and auto experts expect anemic growth of battery car. The power source is heavy, costly, and low density. Not that efficient upon current grid when stacking each concurrent loss. Solar has similar problems of low energy, cost, and unreliable. Both solar and wind should be considered complementary as they are intermittent sources and need back up. Back up power is expensive and not efficient (more polluting). Critical mass problem of every energy utilization/conversion is energy storage. You find a cost effective means to store energy, then wind and solar become viable. But, with energy storage our current system would need nothing new and become amazingly efficient. Also, the lowly natural gas pipeline more efficient and cost effective device as compared to the electrical grid. at least upon btu scale. Reformers and catalytic processes apparently utilized within the scope of first generation fuel cell technology as per your concern of infrastructure. Fossil fuel the energy source, but with advent of nanotechnology of hydrogen storage? Well, current research appears interesting and foretells of amazing range of refueling. Our grandchildren could be living within a hydrogen economy. Society of Mechanical Engineers had a seminar upon this transition. Offshore windmills set to task of generation of hydrogen. Easy task to utilize the power of wind energy within this production schedule as compared to instantaneous requirement of electricity balance.

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      • By Tom G. on December 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        We should revisit our postings in 5 years and then again in 15 years. Time has a way of clarifying projections.

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