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By Robert Rapier on Aug 28, 2014 with 2 responses

Global Biofuels Status Update

Introduction to the GSR

Today I want to take a deep look at the global biofuels picture, drawing mainly from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report (GSR) that was released in June by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. I had intended to draw data primarily from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, but I believe that the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture. The GSR has more complete renewable energy data than the BP Statistical Review, but both reports complement each other. Full disclosure, however, I have been a contributor to the GSR for the past five years.

Before I begin, let me introduce REN21 and what are they trying to achieve. From the foreword to the 215-page report: CONTINUE»

By Russ Finley on Aug 14, 2014 with 16 responses

Update on the Tesla Model S

Has anyone else noticed how much a Tesla Model S looks like a Jaguar XF (pictured below)? One of my neighbors drives a Tesla Model S. I was following him down the street a few weeks ago and heard his tires squeak three times in two blocks. Adequate acceleration to maneuver in traffic can enhance overall safety but too much acceleration potential can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. Not sure I’d want that temptation.


Tesla Model S Photo courtesy of Gareth James via Flickr


Jaguar XF Photo courtesy of Jimmy Smith via Flickr

Fast Chargers

Tesla is dead on with their promotion of fast charging stations. The ubiquitous 240 volt chargers are next to worthless simply because they take too long. A high voltage fast charger can provide a significant charge in a matter of minutes. I recently deliberately drove my Leaf beyond its range because we needed two cars to get supplies to a wedding. My plan was to stop at a charge station on the way home for a few hours to get enough charge to finish the trip. The rest of the family came home in our Prius.


By Robert Rapier on Aug 13, 2014 with 28 responses

Why Natural Gas Prices Collapsed

Over the course of the next two columns, I plan to finish up the recent look at BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. The final two columns will focus on renewable energy, and carbon dioxide emissions.

Today I want to provide an update on the natural gas picture, as prices declined sharply at the end of July. I have laid out the argument since last winter that because of the deep inventory hole that developed over the course of the exceptionally cold winter, natural gas prices would remain high relative to last year, and that as a result natural gas producers would likely report higher year-over-year profits. (For background on the inventory picture, see my February column Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero). CONTINUE»

By Elias Hinckley on Aug 7, 2014 with 3 responses

Cracking the Code on the Business of Energy Management

By Elias Hinckley and Therese Miranda-Blackney

Energy management is one of the most important parts of our changing energy landscape. It is a market made up of part energy efficiency, part Big Data solution and part Internet of Things. Energy management will be a multi-trillion dollar industry that will reverberate across industrialized economies.  The competitive advantage in virtually every economic sector will be redefined by companies’ ability to manage volatile energy prices. It will change how we consume energy. Significant reductions in energy use are an obvious outcome (with corresponding pressure on energy companies), but even more exciting are the social and economic benefits of being able to preform significantly more work with our existing energy resources.

With the trends towards corporate resilience, sustainability, and social responsibility, energy management has evolved beyond the realm of engineers and energy nerds. The growth of Big Data and promise of the Internet of Things is giving rise to exciting, easily used, and powerful energy management tools. The energy management industry is poised to explode in size over the coming years –affecting every aspect of the economy.

If this is going to be so big, why is the market so small today?

Historically, only facility managers of commercial and industrial facilities, and a handful of individuals that were exceptionally excited about energy use or its environmental impact purchased energy management tools. As a result, the tools were developed by engineers, for engineers – they provided only data, and that was typically raw and unmanageable, as the target audience was assumed to have the necessary knowledge and capability to effectively make use of, and act on, the raw data. Not only was the audience tiny, but also existing technology did not provide a viable way to bridge the gap between data and useful information or, more importantly, action. As a result, the market for energy management tools has been had only a handful of success stories.


By Robert Rapier on Jul 30, 2014 with 28 responses

King Coal Deposed in West, but Reigns in East


This is the 3rd installment in a series that examines data from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. The previous posts – World Sets New Oil Production and Consumption Records and The US and Russia are Gas Giants – delved into world oil and natural gas production and consumption figures. Today’s post looks at the global coal picture.

Coal Consumption

In the US, coal consumption has been flat to declining for the past 20 years. Just since 2007, US coal consumption has fallen by more than 20%. This is the primary reason the US leads all countries in reducing carbon dioxide emissions over that same time period. (This will be covered in an upcoming article). Still, the US accounted for 11.9% of the global demand of coal in 2013. This was good for 2nd place globally among countries for coal consumption, but the 455.7 million metric tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) that the US consumed in 2013 was roughly the amount we consumed in 1987.

The declining demand story is the same in the European Union (EU). Since 2007, coal consumption in the EU has fallen by 12%. While the consumption decline since 2007 is not as dramatic as that in the US, the decline in EU coal consumption since the late 1980s has been greater. In 1989, US and EU coal consumption were almost identical (480.5 Mtoe for the US versus 487.6 Mtoe for the EU), but then consumption in the EU fell sharply during the 1990s. Today the EU share of the world’s coal consumption is 7.5%.

By Robert Rapier on Jul 24, 2014 with 7 responses

The US and Russia are Gas Giants


This is the 2nd installment in a series that examines data from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. The previous post – World Sets New Oil Production and Consumption Records – delved into world oil production and consumption figures. Today’s post looks at the global natural gas picture.

In 2013 global natural gas production advanced 1.1% to a new all-time high of 328 billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd). Except for a one-year decline in 2008-2009, global gas production has risen fairly steadily for about three decades, and production has more than doubled during that time span:

Global Gas Production 1970 through 2013


By Elias Hinckley on Jul 14, 2014 with 9 responses

The Greatest Growth Opportunity for Electric Companies: Devour Oil’s Market

Energy use in the US can be split into two large (very, very large) pies. One is electricity for use in homes, buildings, and industry and the other is transportation, which is powered primarily by liquid fuels (gasoline and diesel) from oil. There are some exceptions, and small overlapping fuel uses – direct industrial use of liquid fuel (a fairly significant quantity), some liquids burned to make electricity (this used to be a significant amount, but is now only a very small amount), and now a very small amount of electricity used to power electric vehicles (“EVs”).

American consumers spend, on average more than $1 billion every day on each of these energy uses.

Daily U.S. Consumer Energy Spending

pies 1

Electric utilities have never made a serious effort to attack the transportation market at scale.  Historically this made sense.  Transportation infrastructure was built around liquid fuels and virtually the entire fleet of U.S. cars and trucks run on liquid fuels and there was no viable electric-drive alternative and fueling infrastructure was non-existent.


By Robert Rapier on Jul 10, 2014 with 17 responses

World Sets New Oil Production and Consumption Records

Last month BP (NYSE: BP) released the Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. This report is one of the most comprehensive sources of global and country level statistics on production and consumption of oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and renewables. Right after the release of the report, I wrote a short post discussing the highlights. Today I will take a deeper dive into oil production and consumption figures. In coming weeks, I will delve into the rest of the report.

Oil Production

First a note about BP’s definitions. “Oil” in the BP Statistical Review (BPSR) is defined as ”crude oil, tight oil, oil sands and natural gas liquids”, but excludes biofuels and liquid fuels produced from coal or natural gas. Consumption numbers do include all liquid fuels, so consumption numbers are always greater than production numbers, but this is merely an artifact of BP’s definitions.

Global oil production advanced in 2013 by 557,000 barrels per day (bpd), reaching a new all-time high of 86.8 million bpd (an increase of 0.6 percent over 2012). After declining in 2009, global crude oil production has now increased 4 years in a row. But as I noted in last month’s short article, while global oil production did indeed set a new record, the US production increase alone was 1.1 million bpd. Thus, outside the US global production actually declined by 554,000 bpd. CONTINUE»

By Russ Finley on Jul 3, 2014 with 5 responses

Nissan Leaf Replacement Battery for $5,500


Provision of an after-market battery pack is another electric car first and an all important step for electric cars to gain greater market share. Leaf owners now have the option to upgrade to a new battery (with new, more heat resistant chemistry) when the old one wears out, or of selling their car and letting someone else put a new battery in it. An electric car with a worn out battery wouldn’t have much resale value if you couldn’t replace the battery. The existence of a reasonably priced battery replacement might stimulate sales by putting at ease any prospective customers concerned about how they would sell their electric car once its battery wore out.


By Geoffrey Styles on Jun 25, 2014 with 1 response

Condensate Pries Open the Oil Export Lid

US Administration OKs Exports without Requiring Congressional Approval

I see that the US Commerce Department has given two US companies permission to export condensate that would otherwise be trapped here under a 1970s-vintage ban on US oil exports. This validates the view, as described in a white paper from the office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) earlier this year, that the administration has the statutory authority necessary to allow such exports.

After decades of investment to process the increasingly heavy and sour crude oil types available for import, most US refineries, particularly on the Gulf and west coasts, are no longer equipped to run large volumes of the extremely light condensates and oils now coming from onshore shale deposits. Allowing producers to achieve world-market prices for their output should boost the economy and raise tax receipts, yet is unlikely to harm consumers.

Condensate Exports Won’t Reduce US Gasoline Production

Condensates are a class of hydrocarbons distinct from crude oil, but they share enough oil-like characteristics frequently to be lumped in with the latter, as in US export regulations. The technical definition of condensates encompasses both the “natural gasoline” extracted during the processing of natural gas produced from oil fields (“associated gas”,) as well as the heaviest liquids separated from “non-associated” gas, i.e. from gas fields, rather than oil fields. CONTINUE»