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Mapped: Solar And Wind Power By Country

Mapped: Solar And Wind Power By Country Wind and solar generate over a tenth of the world’s electricity. Taken together, they are the fourth-largest source of electricity, behind coal, gas, and hydro. Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti shows in the infographic below, the use of electricity from these two clean sources varies significantly across different nations, based on data from Ember. Europe Leads in Wind and Solar Wind and solar generated 10.3% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3% in 2020, and doubling their share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. In fact, 50 countries (26%) generated over a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, with seven countries hitting this landmark for the first time: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador. Denmark and Uruguay achieved 52% and 47% respectively, leading the way in technology for high renewable grid integration.   From a regional perspective, Europe leads with nine of the top 10 countries. On the flipside, the Middle East and Africa have the fewest countries reaching the 10% threshold.   Further Renewables Growth Needed to meet Global Climate Goals The electricity sector was the highest greenhouse gas emitting sector in 2020. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the sector needs to hit net zero globally by 2040 to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees. And to hit that goal, wind and solar power need to grow at nearly a 20% clip each year to 2030. Despite the record rise in renewables, solar and wind electricity generation growth currently doesn’t meet the required marks to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals. In fact, when the world faced an unprecedented surge in electricity demand in 2021, only 29% of the global rise in electricity demand was met with solar and wind. Transition Underway Even as emissions from the electricity sector are at an all-time high, there are signs that the global electricity transition is underway. Governments like the U.S., Germany, UK, and Canada are planning to increase their share of clean electricity within the next decade and a half. Investments are also coming from the private sector, with companies like Amazon and Apple extending their positions on renewable energy to become some of the biggest buyers overall. More wind and solar are being added to grids than ever, with renewables expected to provide the majority of clean electricity needed to phase out fossil fuels. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 22:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 14th, 2022

Futures Slide After Dismal Target Earnings, Plunging Mortgage Apps

Futures Slide After Dismal Target Earnings, Plunging Mortgage Apps The brief bear market rally in US stocks was set to end with a whimper following Tuesday’s strong dead cat bounce, after Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave his most hawkish remarks to date. Hope that China lockdowns would soon end turned to skepticism, as the yuan slumped after its biggest gain since October, while dismal guidance from Target - which warned that inflation was crushing margins - confirmed what Walmart said yesterday, namely that the US consumer is running on fumes. An 11% plunge in the latest weekly mortgage applications only reaffirmed that a hard-landing is inevitable and just a matter of time. Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 1%, while S&P 500 futures slipped 0.7% after US stocks surged on Tuesday. Treasury yields hit session highs, rising back to 3.0%, and the dollar snapped a three-day losing streak. Bitcoin got hammered again, sliding back under $30k. Among the biggest premarket movers, Target crashed 22% with Vital Knowledge calling its margin shortfall “more dramatic” than what Walmart posted on Tuesday, citing industry-wide macro problems. The retailer reduced its full-year forecast on operating income margin to about 6% of sales this year. It also reported first-quarter adjusted earnings per share that came in below expectations. Food and gas inflation is drawing money away from discretionary and general merchandise spending, forcing “aggressive” discounting to clear out product in the latter category, Vital’s Adam Crisafulli said in a note. Elsewhere in US premarket trading, Tesla slipped 1% after its price target was cut at Piper Sandler. Meanwhile, Twitter Inc. also traded slightly lower even as the social media platform’s board said it plans to enforce its $44 billion agreement to be bought by Elon Musk. Here are some other notable premarket movers: US tech hardware stocks may be in focus as Jefferies Group LLC strategists have turned bullish on the likes of IBM (IBM US), Cisco Systems (CSCO US) and Microchip Technology (MCHP US) after this year’s steep declines for US information technology shares National CineMedia (NCMI US) shares jump as much as 33% in US premarket trading after AMC Entertainment (AMC US) reported a 6.8% stake in the cinema advertising company. AMC shares gain 1.2% in premarket trading. DLocal Ltd. (DLO US) shares gain as much as 15% in US premarket trading after the Uruguay-based payment platform posted 1Q revenue that doubled from the year-earlier period and topped expectations. Doximity (DOCS US) shares fall as much as 19% in US premarket trading, after the online healthcare platform provider’s forecast for 1Q revenue missed the average analyst estimate, prompting analysts to slash their price targets on the stock. Penn National (PENN US) may be active on Wednesday as Jefferies raised the recommendation to buy from hold. The company’s shares rose 4% in premarket trading. On Tuesday, Powell said the Fed will keep raising interest rates until there is “clear and convincing” evidence that inflation is in retreat, which initially pushed stocks lower but then was faded as risk closed near session highs as nothing Powell said was actually new. The S&P 500 is emerging from the longest weekly slump since 2011 as investors have been gripped by fears of hawkish monetary policy and surging inflation driving the economy into a recession. As also discussed yesterday, Bank of America’s survey published yesterday showed that fund managers are the most underweight equities since May 2020 and are piling into cash. “This is one of the most challenging markets I have been in in my career,” Henry Peabody, fixed income portfolio manager at MFS Investment Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “I suspect at a certain point of time we’re going to have the liquidity of the markets challenged. They really haven’t been thus far.” As the Fed embarks on interest-rate hikes, frothy growth shares, including the tech sector, have suffered in particular as higher rates mean a bigger discount for the present value of future profits. This marks a major shift in investor outlook after tech stocks had been some of the market’s best performers for years. “Investor sentiment and confidence remain shaky, and as a result, we are likely to see volatile and choppy markets until we get further clarity on the 3Rs — rates, recession, and risk,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note. Rebounds in risk sentiment are proving fragile amid tightening monetary settings, Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s Covid lockdowns. In what’s seen as his most hawkish remarks to date, Powell said that the US central bank will raise interest rates until there is “clear and convincing” evidence that inflation is in retreat. “We’ll have this kind of volatility as people jump in and look at opportunities to buy as markets decline,” Shana Sissel, director of investments at Cope Corrales, said on Bloomberg Television, referring to the Wall Street bounce. The Fed is going to struggle to achieve a soft economic landing, she added. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was little changed, with energy stocks outperforming. Spain's IBEX outperformed, adding 0.5%. ABN Amro slumped almost 10% after the Dutch lender reported first-quarter results burdened by rising costs.  The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources sub-index drops, underperforming other sectors in the broader regional benchmark on Wednesday as base metals ended a three-day rebound and as iron ore declined. Base metals paused a recovery from this year’s lows, with copper and aluminum stalling after hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Iron ore futures declined as investors weighed China’s faltering economy and the prospect of support measures amid a mixed outlook for steel demand. Basic resources index -0.6%, halting three days of gains; broader benchmark little changed. Siemens Gamesa jumped as much as 15% as Siemens Energy weighs a bid for the shares of the troubled Spanish wind-turbine maker it doesn’t already own. Here are the most notable movers: European oil and gas stocks rise amid higher crude prices and broker upgrades, while renewables rallied after Siemens Energy confirmed it was considering a buyout offer for Siemens Gamesa. Shell gains as much as 1.8%, BP +1.8%, Equinor +3.4%, Gamesa +15%, Vestas +7.7% Air France-KLM shares rise as much as 7.5% in Paris on news that container line CMA CGM intends to take a stake of up to 9% in the French carrier following the signing of a long-term strategic partnership in the air cargo market. Rockwool shares gain as much as 8.3%, most since Feb. 15, as the company boosts its sales in local currencies forecast for the full year. British Land shares rise as much as 4.2%, as the company’s results show a strong recovery and a good performance in the UK landlord’s portfolio, analysts say. Vistry shares climb as much as 8% with analysts saying the UK homebuilder’s trading update looks positive, particularly the robust momentum in its sales rate. The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources sub-index drops, underperforming other sectors in the broader regional benchmark on Wednesday as base metals ended a three-day rebound and as iron ore declined. Rio Tinto slips as much as 1.5%, Antofagasta -2.7%, Anglo American -1.5% Prosus shares fall as much as 4.2% and Naspers sinks as much as 6.7% after Tencent reported first- quarter revenue and net income that both missed analyst expectations. TUI shares drop as much as 13% in London after the firm announced an equity raise in order to repay a chunk of government aid that helped see it through the coronavirus crisis. ABN Amro shares declined as much as 11% after the lender reported 1Q earnings that showed higher costs related to money laundering. Experian shares fall as much as 5.1% after the consumer-credit reporting company reported full-year results, with Citi saying organic growth missed consensus. Meanwhile, UK inflation rose to its highest level since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister 40 years ago, adding to pressure for action from the government and central bank. The pound weakened and gilt yields fell as traders speculated that the Bank of England will struggle to rein in inflation and avoid a recession. Elsewhere, the Biden administration is poised to fully block Russia’s ability to pay US bondholders after a deadline expires next week, a move that could bring Moscow closer to a default. Sri Lanka, meantime, is on the brink of reneging on $12.6 billion of overseas bonds, a warning sign to investors in other developing nations that surging inflation is set to take a painful toll. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks advanced for a fourth session as strong US economic data allayed worries about the global growth outlook, while Chinese equities slipped. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose as much as 1%, extending its rebound from an almost two-year low reached last Thursday. Materials shares led the gains, with Australia’s BHP Group climbing 3.2%. Benchmarks in most markets were in the black, with Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore chalking up gains of at least 1%.  Upbeat retail sales and industrial production data from the US underpinned sentiment, so much so that investors barely reacted to hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. He indicated that policy makers won’t hesitate to raise interest rates beyond neutral levels to contain inflation. Equities in China bucked the trend. Property shares paced the drop after data showed the decline in China’s new home prices accelerated in April, while tech shares also lost steam ahead of Tencent’s earnings which missed expectations and slumped. Local investors may be underwhelmed by a lack of details from Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s fresh vow to support tech firms. Liu said the government will support the development of digital economy companies and their public listings, in remarks reported by state media after a symposium with the heads of some the nation’s largest private firms. Lee Chiwoong, chief economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said Liu’s comments point to an easing of the crackdown on internet firms. “The Chinese government is stepping up measures to support the economy following the slowdown,” Lee said.  “As bottlenecks stemming from lockdowns in Shanghai ease, that impact will gradually show up in the economy,” Lee added. “We should be able to clearly see an economic recovery in the second half of this year.” Japanese equities gained as investors assessed strong US economic data and comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on the outlook for interest rate hikes.  The Topix Index rose 1% to close at 1,884.69. Tokyo time, while the Nikkei advanced 0.9% to 26,911.20. Sony Group Corp. contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 2.9%. Out of 2,172 shares in the index, 1,345 rose and 749 fell, while 78 were unchanged. Chinese stocks erased losses intraday after earlier disappointment over a much-anticipated meeting between Vice Premier Liu He and some of the nation’s tech giants. Overnight, data showed US retail sales grew at a solid pace in April, while factory production rose at a solid pace for a third month. Australia's stocks also gained, with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 1% to close at 7,182.70, extending its winning streak to a fourth day. Miners contributed the most to its advance. All sectors gained, except for consumer staples and financials. Eagers slumped after saying that its 1H profit will be lower than it was a year ago and flagged reduced new vehicle deliveries. Wage data was also in focus. Australian wages advanced at less than half the pace of consumer-price gains in the first three months of the year, reinforcing the RBA’s signal that it will stick to quarter-point hikes.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.1% to 11,258.28 India’s benchmark equities index fell, snapping two sessions of gains, weighed by declines in engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd.    The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 0.2% to close at 54,208.53 in Mumbai, after rising as much as 0.9% earlier in the session. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 0.1% to 16,240.30.  Larsen & Toubro slipped 2% and was the biggest drag on the Sensex, which saw 17 of its 30 member stocks decline. Sixteen of 19 sectoral sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. dropped, led by a gauge of realty shares.   State-run Life Insurance Corporation, which debuted Tuesday, rose 0.1% to 876 rupees, still below the issue price of 949 rupees. In earnings, of the 34 Nifty 50 firms that have announced results so far, 20 have either met or exceeded analyst estimates, while 14 have missed. Consumer goods company ITC Ltd. is scheduled to announce results on Wednesday. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index reversed an early loss and the greenback advanced versus all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen. The pound was the worst G-10 performer, tracking Gilt yields lower and paring the previous day’s gains. A widely expected jump in UK inflation prompted investors to pare back bets on BOE rate hikes. Money markets are pricing around 120bps of BOE rate hikes by December, down from 130bps from the previous day. UK inflation rose to its highest level since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister 40 years ago, adding to pressure for action from the government and central bank. Consumer prices surged 9% in the year through April. The euro fell for the first day in four and weakened beyond $1.05. The Bund curve has twist flattened as traders bet on a faster pace of ECB tightening after Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn said there’s broad agreement among members of the Governing Council that policy rates should exit sub-zero terrain “relatively quickly.” That’s to prevent inflation expectations from becoming de- anchored, he said. The Aussie swung between gains and losses while Australia’s bonds trimmed earlier declines after a report showed wage growth last quarter was less than economists forecast. The wage price index climbed an annual 2.4% last quarter, trailing economists’ expectations and coming in well below headline inflation of 5.1%. The yen rose as US yields declined amid fragile risk sentiment. Japanese government bonds were mixed, with a decent five-year auction lending support while an overnight rise in global yields weighed on super-long maturities. In rates, Treasuries were under pressure, though most benchmark yields remained within 1bp of Tuesday’s closing levels. 10-year yields rose just shy of 3.00%, higher by less than 1bp with comparable bund yield +3.3bp and UK 10-year flat. TSY futures erased gains amid a series of block trades in 5- and 10-year note contracts starting at 5:20am ET, apparently selling flow. According to Bloomberg, six 5-year block trades and two 10-year block trades -- all 5,000 lots -- have printed since 5:20am, apparently seller-initiated as cash yields concurrently rebounded from near session lows. Wednesday’s $17b 20-year new-issue auction at 1pm ET may also weigh on the market. 20-year bond auction is this week’s only nominal coupon sale; WI yield ~3.37% exceeds all 20-year auction stops since then tenor was reintroduced in 2020, is ~27.5bp cheaper than last month’s result. Elsewhere, the UK yield curve bull-steepened with the short end richening ~5bps, while pound falls after inflation surged to a four-decade high. Money markets pare BOE rate-hike wagers. Bund curve bear-flattens while money markets bet on a faster pace of ECB tightening after ECB’s Rehn said the central bank needs to move quickly from negative rates. In commodities, WTI trades within Tuesday’s range, adding 1.6% to around $114. Most base metals are in the red; LME tin falls 1.5%, underperforming peers, LME aluminum outperforms, adding 1%. Spot gold is little changed at $1,815/oz. Looking to the day ahead now, and data releases include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with US data on housing starts and building permits for the same month. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Harker and the ECB’s Muller. Earnings releases include Cisco, Lowe’s, Target and TJX. Finally, G7 finance ministers and central bank governors will be meeting in Germany. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.5% to 4,065.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 438.11 MXAP up 0.8% to 164.43 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 539.81 Nikkei up 0.9% to 26,911.20 Topix up 1.0% to 1,884.69 Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 20,644.28 Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,085.98 Sensex up 0.3% to 54,469.39 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.0% to 7,182.66 Kospi up 0.2% to 2,625.98 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.03% Euro down 0.4% to $1.0505 Brent Futures up 1.5% to $113.66/bbl Gold spot down 0.0% to $1,815.04 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.33% to 103.70 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Sweden’s biggest pension company has begun buying government bonds amid a “paradigm shift” in the market that pushed yields to their highest level since 2018. The CIO views Treasuries as “quite attractive” after a prolonged period of razor-thin yields that forced the company into alternative and riskier asset classes to preserve returns across its $117 billion portfolio While outright China bulls may be hard to find, shifts in positioning at least point to improving sentiment. Bearish bets on stocks are being abandoned in Hong Kong, expectations for yuan volatility are falling, domestic equity traders have stopped unwinding leverage and foreigners have slowed their once-record exit from government bonds The EU is set to unveil a raft of measures ranging from boosting renewables and LNG imports to lowering energy demand in its quest to cut dependence on Russian supplies. The 195 billion-euro ($205 billion) plan due Wednesday will center on cutting red tape for wind and solar farms, paving the way for renewables to make up an increased target of 45% of its energy needs by 2030, according to draft documents seen by Bloomberg that are still subject to change A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed as the regional bourses only partially sustained the momentum from global peers. ASX 200 was led higher by outperformance in the mining and materials related sectors, while softer than expected wage price data reduced the prospects of a more aggressive RBA rate hike next month. Nikkei 225 briefly reclaimed the 27,000 level but retreated off its highs as participants digested GDP data which printed in negative territory, albeit at a narrower than feared contraction. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were subdued with large-cap tech stocks pressured in Hong Kong including JD.com despite beating earnings expectations and with Tencent bracing for the expected slowest revenue growth since its listing, while the mainland was hampered by the mixed COVID-19 situation as Shanghai registered a 4th consecutive day of zero transmissions outside of quarantine, although Beijing was said to lockdown some areas in its Fengtai district for 7 days. Top Asian News Shanghai authorities issued a new white list containing 864 financial institutions permitted to resume work, according to sources cited by Reuters. China, on May 20th, is to remove some COVID test requirements on travellers to China from the US, according to embassy. China's Foreign Ministry says the BRICS foreign ministers are to meet on May 19th. Goldman Sachs downgrades its 2022 China GDP growth forecast to 4.0% from 4.5%. European bourses are rangebound and relatively directionless, Euro Stoxx 50 U/C, taking impetus from a mixed APAC session which failed to sustain US upside. Stateside, futures are modestly softer and a firmer Wall St. close; ES -0.2%. Limited Fed speak due and near-term focus on retail earnings. Tencent (0700 HK) Q1 2022 (CNY): adj. net profit 25.5bln (exp. 26.4bln), Revenue 135.5bln (exp. 141bln). Lowe's Companies Inc (LOW) Q1 2023 (USD): EPS 3.61 (exp. 3.22/3.23 GAAP), Revenue 23.70bln (exp. 23.76bln). SSS: Lowe's Companies: -4.0% (exp. -2.5%); Lowe's Companies (US): -3.8% (exp. -3.7%). -0.2% in the pre-market Top European News UK Chancellor Sunak is reportedly mulling bringing forward the 1p income tax cut to the basic rate by one year, according to iNews citing Treasury insiders. Other reports suggest that Sunak is putting plans together to raise the warm home discount by hundreds of GBP in July ahead of lowering taxes in autumn to assist with the cost of living crisis, according to The Times. EU is to offer the UK new concessions on the Northern Ireland protocol but has threatened a trade war if UK PM Johnson refuses to agree to a compromise, according to The Telegraph. In FX Sterling slides to the bottom of the major ranks as fractionally sub-forecast UK CPI dampens BoE rate hike expectations; Cable reverses from just over 1.2500 to sub-1.2400, EUR/GBP nearer 0.8500 after dip below 0.8400 only yesterday. Hawkish Fed chair Powell helps Buck bounce ahead of US housing data, DXY towards the upper end of 103.770-180 range. Aussie hampered by softer than expected wage metrics that might convince the RBA to refrain from 40bp hike in June, AUD/USD heavy on the 0.7000 handle. Yen relatively resilient in wake of Japanese GDP showing less contraction in Q1 than feared, USD/JPY closer to 129.00 than 129.50. Euro loses momentum irrespective of comments from ECB’s Rehn echoing Summer rate hike guidance as final Eurozone HICP is tweaked down, EUR/USD fades from 1.0550+ to test support around 1.0500. Loonie treads cautiously before Canadian inflation metrics as oil prices come off the boil, USD/CAD back above 1.2800 within 1.2795-1.2852 range. In Fixed Income Gilts sharply outperform as UK CPI falls just shy pf consensus and dampens BoE tightening expectations. 10 year UK bond rebounds towards 119.50 from sub-119.00 lows, while Bunds lag below 152.50 and T-note under 119-00. Record high cover for 2052 German auction and low retention sets high bar for upcoming 20 year US offering. Central Banks ECB's Rehn says June forecasts are seen near the adverse scenario from March, first rate increase will likely take place in the summer. Many colleagues back stance for quick moves. ECB's de Cos says the end of APP should be finalised early in Q3, first hike shortly afterwards. Further rises could be made in subsequent quarters of medium-term outlook remains around target; the build-up of price pressures in EZ in recent months raises the likelihood of second-round effects, which have not strongly materialised. In commodities WTI and Brent are modestly supported after yesterday's lower settlement; currently, firmer by just over USD 1.00/bbl. Focus has been on the narrowing WTI/Brent spread, particularly going into US driving season; see link below for ING's views. US Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude -2.4mln (exp. +1.4mln), Cushing -3.1mln, Gasoline -5.1mln (exp. -1.3mln), Distillates +1.1mln (exp. unchanged). Spot gold and silver are modestly firmer but capped by a firmer USD, yellow metal just shy of USD 1820/oz. US Event Calendar 07:00: May MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 2.0% 08:30: April Building Permits MoM, est. -3.0%, prior 0.4%, revised 0.3% 08:30: April Housing Starts MoM, est. -2.1%, prior 0.3% 08:30: April Building Permits, est. 1.81m, prior 1.87m, revised 1.87m 08:30: April Housing Starts, est. 1.76m, prior 1.79m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Another reminder of my webinar replay from last week discussing our recession call for 2023 and an update on credit spreads. In it I said that while we have high conviction that HY spreads would be +850bp in H2 2023, the outlook over the next few weeks and months may actually be positive from this starting point. I would say I am nervous of that view but I still don't think that the real economic pain comes until deeper into 2023 when the lagged impact of an aggressive Fed starts to bite. Click here to view the webinar and to download the presentation. Good luck to Glasgow Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt in tonight's Europa League final. These are not teams that any would have expected to reach this final and I will watch with stress free divided loyalties. My father's family were all from the former and supported Rangers while the latter play at the fabulously named Deutsche Bank Park. So good luck to both. I suspect I'll be less stress free in 11 days' time when Liverpool are out for revenge against Real Madrid in the Champions League Final. At the moment I’m feeling nervously optimistic. Talking of which, investor optimism has returned to markets over the last 24 hours as more positive data releases raised hopes that the US economy might be more resilient in the near-term than many have feared. The economic concerns won't go away, but stronger-than-expected numbers on retail sales and industrial production helped the S&P 500 (+2.02%) close at its highest level in over a week. Remember monetary policy acts with a lag and it would be very unusual historically if the data rolled over imminently. By this time next year it will likely be a very different story. The higher yield momentum was reinforced by a Powell speech after Europe went home but there was a steady march of slightly hawkish central bank speakers through the day. Before we review things keep an eye out for UK CPI just after this goes to press. The headline rate is expected to be a huge 9.1%. Expect a lot of headlines reporting of 40 year highs. With regards to Powell, most in focus was his claim that policy rates would rise above neutral if that was required to tame inflation. While the sentiment was not necessarily new, his explicit comment that neutral rates are “not a stopping point” garnered focus, noting that the Fed was looking for “clear and convincing evidence” that inflation was subsiding. The rates market have already priced terminal policy rates above the Fed’s estimate of neutral, but a combination of the risk on, and stronger data meant that equities could go up alongside yields. Earlier in the day we got a smattering of communications from Fed regional Presidents, none of which registered as materially but it reinforced the direction of travel after a month to date where markets have repriced the Fed lower. Indeed, even resident hawk, St Louis Fed President Bullard, reiterated Powell’s message in that the Fed was on course for 50bp hikes at the upcoming meetings and said that “I think we have a good plan for now”. Sovereign bonds had already sold off significantly ahead of all that Fedspeak, aided by the broader risk-on tone yesterday, but continued drifting higher through the US session. Yields on 10yr Treasuries closed +10.4bps to a one-week high of 2.99%, driven by a +7.9bps rise in real yields to 0.24%. The moves were more pronounced at the front-end however, and the 2yr yield rose by a larger +13.1bps as investors priced in a more aggressive path of hikes over the next 12 months after data showed the economy was performing stronger than the consensus had anticipated. In terms of the headlines, retail sales were up by +0.9% in April (vs. +1.0% expected), but the growth in March was revised up to +1.4% (vs. +0.5% previously). Retail sales excluding autos and gas were up by +1.0% as well (vs. +0.7% expected), whilst the industrial production number was another that came in above expectations at +1.1% (vs. +0.5% expected). Europe also had a large move in yields, which followed comments by Dutch central bank Governor Knot who became the first member of the Governing Council to openly float the idea of a 50bp hike. Although he said that “my preference would be to raise our policy rate by a quarter of a percentage point”, he said that “bigger increases must not be excluded” if data were to show inflation “broadening further or accumulating”. So even though he’s one of the more hawkish members of the council, that’s still a significant milestone in that larger moves are being openly discussed, and echoes what we saw with the Fed at the turn of the year when the policy trajectory became increasingly aggressive. Market pricing reflected that shift yesterday, and for the first time overnight index swaps were pricing in that the ECB would hike by more than 100bps by their December meeting and thus catching up with the DB House View. That growing belief behind additional hikes led to a fresh selloff in sovereign bonds, with those on 10yr bunds (+10.9bps), OATs (+10.5bps) and BTPs (+11.7bps) all moving higher. The biggest moves were seen from gilts (+15.0bps) however, which followed data that pointed to an increasingly tight labour market in the UK, and overnight index swaps nearly doubled the probability of a 50bp rate hike from the BoE in June, with the odds moving from 17% on Monday to 33% yesterday. Over in equities, stronger risk appetite led to a significant rebound yesterday, with the S&P 500 (+2.02%) hitting a one-week high, whilst the NASDAQ (+2.76%) saw an even larger rebound in spite of the simultaneous rise in yields. Walmart (-11.38%) was by far the worst performer in the S&P, which came as it cut its earnings per share forecast, which it now expected to decrease by 1%, relative to previous guidance that expected it to rise by the mid single-digits. But that was the exception, and every sector except consumer staples moved higher on the day, with the more cyclical areas leading the advance. Over in Europe the STOXX 600 (+1.22%) posted a strong performance of its own, bringing its advance to more than +5% since its recent closing low just over a week ago. Overnight in Asia, performance in regional stock indices is diverging partly on the back of economic data. Japan’s Q1 GDP (-1.0%) contracted less than expected (-1.8%), lifting the Nikkei (+0.50%) this morning. In China, though, rising covid cases and waning optimism about government’s support of tech companies weighed on the Shanghai composite (-0.37%) and the Hang Seng (-0.66%). New home prices (-0.30%) in the country also slid for an eighth month in a row. This slight souring of sentiment has extended to S&P 500 futures (-0.23%) with the US 10y yield edging back lower by -2.2bps. Elsewhere, tensions over Brexit ratcheted up again yesterday after UK Foreign Secretary Truss announced plans to introduce legislation that would override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Truss said that the UK’s preference “remains a negotiated solution with the EU” and that the bill would contain an “explicit power to give effect to a new, revised Protocol if we can reach an accommodation”, but that “the urgency of the situation means we can’t afford to delay any longer.” Unsurprisingly the EU did not react happily, and Commission Vice President Šefčovič said in a statement that if the UK moved ahead with the bill, then “the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal.” Staying on the UK, the latest employment data out yesterday pointed to an increasingly tight labour market, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.7% in the three months to March (vs. 3.8% expected), which is the lowest it’s been since 1974. Furthermore, the number of vacancies was larger than the total number of unemployed for the first time, and the more up-to-date estimate of payrolled employees in April saw an increase of +121k (vs. +51k expected). Elsewhere in Europe, the latest estimate of Euro Area GDP growth in Q1 showed a bigger than expected expansion of +0.3% (vs. +0.2% previously). Elsewhere the chances of a Russian sovereign debt default increased, following the Treasury department confirming a temporary waiver that allowed Russia to pay US creditors would expire on May 25. Meanwhile, the US is reportedly considering a tariff on Russian oil in conjunction with European allies, as the saga about banning imports to Europe drags on. To the day ahead now, and data releases include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with US data on housing starts and building permits for the same month. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Harker and the ECB’s Muller. Earnings releases include Cisco, Lowe’s, Target and TJX. Finally, G7 finance ministers and central bank governors will be meeting in Germany. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 07:51.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 18th, 2022

Mars dust is forcing NASA to say goodbye to its quake-hunting InSight lander early

InSight detected more than 1,300 quakes on Mars, revealing the planet's inner layers for the first time. But NASA engineers couldn't clear the dust. This illustration shows NASA's InSight lander with its instruments deployed on the Martian surface.NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA plans to shut down its InSight lander on Mars as it runs out of power this summer. Dust accumulated on the lander's solar panels, cutting its energy production and science activities. InSight detected more than 1,300 Mars quakes and mapped the planet's interior for the first time. NASA is ending a year-long effort to keep its $813 million InSight lander alive on Mars.InSight has been running on diminished power since layers of dust settled on its solar panels and stuck there. Today, it produces just one-tenth of the daily energy it generated at the start of the mission. In 2018, its battery charge was enough to run an electric oven for an hour and 40 minutes. Today, it could only run such an oven for 10 minutes, according to mission manager Kathya Zamora Garcia.NASA previously approved funding to run InSight through December 2022, but agency officials said in a press conference on Tuesday that they expect power levels to run so low by late summer that the lander will permanently end its science operations."Based on our current energy level, I'm going to approximate mid-July, maybe early July," Zamora Garcia said in the briefing. She emphasized that the timeline is unclear and depends on weather.A solar array on the InSight lander in December 2018 (left) and June 2021 (right).NASA/JPL-CaltechSince it landed on Mars in 2018, InSight's seismometer has detected more than 1,300 Mars quakes and several thousand dust devils. The seismic waves from those quakes revealed that the Martian crust is drier and more broken up from asteroid impacts than scientists thought ⁠— more like the moon than like Earth — and has at least two sublayers. The lander also revealed that Mars has a large liquid core."We've been able to map out the inside of Mars for the very first time in history," Bruce Banerdt, who leads the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the press briefing on Tuesday.Scientists will likely continue analyzing InSight's data for years to come. Since a planet's full history is encoded in its interior layers, the findings will help researchers revisit their models of how rocky planets form, and ultimately, inform the study of worlds that could host life beyond our solar system."This mission is really near and dear to my heart," Banerdt said, adding, "I've been trying to get a seismometer on Mars for most of my career."Though InSight achieved its goal of studying Mars's deep internal structure, its last year of research on the planet has been routinely interrupted by shutdowns to conserve power.InSight will spend the year slowly shutting downInSight's solar panels produced roughly 5,000 watt-hours each Martian day after the spacecraft touched down in November 2018. But by spring 2022, they were producing about 500 watt-hours each day.NASA/JPL-CaltechThe lander's home in an open plain called Elysium Planitia turned out to be less windy than scientists expected, which allowed the thick accumulation of dust to build up on its solar panels. There's still a chance that a gust of wind could clean the panels and save the spacecraft, but mission leaders aren't holding out hope.Dust is a common pest for Mars robots. The same year that InSight landed on Mars, the Opportunity rover's battery drained during a dust storm. It never powered back up. Earlier this month, NASA temporarily lost contact with its four-pound Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, as winter brought power-draining cold and increased the concentration of dust in the atmosphere.InSight's death will be more gradual than Opportunity's. It begins in just a few weeks, when mission managers plan to move its robotic arm into "retirement pose," Zamora Garcia said. Then they'll shut off the science instruments one by one, finally saying goodbye to the seismometer in late summer.After that, they think InSight will keep producing enough power to beam them a status update every day or so, along with the occasional photo from Mars. By the end of the year, they expect to completely lose the lander.NASA engineers struggled to outsmart Mars's dust and dirtInSight's engineering team has spent most of the lander's mission troubleshooting.InSight's solar arrays are deployed for a test at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, on April 30, 2015.NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed MartinOne of the lander's prize scientific instruments was a pile-driver called "the mole," which was designed to burrow into the Martian crust and take the planet's temperature. The mole immediately ran into a problem: The ground in Elysium Planitia was much tougher than NASA scientists expected. Instead of flowing around the mole's outer hull, providing friction for it to keep hammering deeper, the dirt stayed firm. The mole was supposed to dig 10 feet, but it got stuck just two or three centimeters below the surface.NASA's team tried to solve the issue for two years, beaming new software to InSight to teach its robotic arm maneuvers to assist the mole, and anxiously waiting for photos that might show progress. Instead, the mole popped out of its hole.InSight's robotic arm next to its "mole" heat probe, after the probe backed out of its hole, on October 26, 2019.NASA/JPL-CaltechEventually, the InSight team ran out of options. At the same time, the lander was running low on power. There wasn't much energy to spare on experimental burrowing attempts. They made the tough decision to abandon their mole."That was probably the biggest disappointment of the mission," Banerdt said.After that, NASA's engineers could only buy time for their lander. The team first tried instructing InSight to shake the solar panels, but that didn't remove the dust.InSight took this "selfie," a mosaic made up of 14 images taken on March 15 and April 11, 2019, using a camera on the lander's robotic arm.NASA/JPL-CaltechThen they instructed the robot to scoop up dirt and slowly trickle it next to the solar panels. The thinking was that some of the large grains of sand would get caught in the wind, bounce off the solar panels, and take some stubborn dust with them.It worked — a little. The first attempt added about 30 watt-hours to daily energy production. The team conducted six of these dirt-trickling operations, which generated enough power to keep running the seismometer regularly.An artist illustration of the InSight lander, with its "mole" heat probe burrowed in the Martian crust.NASA/JPL-CaltechA few months after losing its mole, in 2021, InSight engineers began hibernating the lander for the winter. NASA slowly shut down the lander's science instruments to conserve its energy through the cold months, when Mars swung far from the sun, diminishing InSight's power supply even further.At the time, Banerdt told NASA's Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group that the lander's mission was likely to end soon after the onset of the following Martian winter, in April 2022.InSight's seismometer sits on the Martian surface, as photographed by the lander.NASA/JPL-CaltechInSight resumed its science operations long enough to detect its biggest quakes yet — three temblors reaching 4.2 magnitude — and then an even bigger 5-magnitude quake on May 4."This quake is really going to be a treasure trove of scientific information when we get our teeth into it," Banerdt said.Just three days later, on May 7, InSight's power supply fell below a level that triggers its safety mode, suspending non-essential functions, including science activities, for the second time this year.Banerdt's team will spend the next few months conserving the lander's power and collecting as much data as possible."Before InSight, the interior of Mars was kind of just a big question mark," Banerdt said, adding, "Now we can actually draw a quantitatively precise picture of the inside of Mars."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

With World Gripped By Fertilizer Crisis, Biden Admin Clings To "Climate-Inspired Utopian Food-Production Fantasies"

With World Gripped By Fertilizer Crisis, Biden Admin Clings To "Climate-Inspired Utopian Food-Production Fantasies" Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times, Samantha Power: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ Do the World Economic Forum and China agree? “Fertilizer shortages are real now.” Uttered by USAID’s Samantha Power in a May 1 ABC interview with former Democratic advisor George Stephanopoulos, the words briefly drowned out the din of the news cycle. They were not unexpected to some. Power, who served as U.N. ambassador under Obama, mentioned fertilizer shortages after weeks of hints from the Biden administration. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly alluded to challenges obtaining fertilizer in recent press briefings. So did President Joe Biden himself in a joint statement with EU President Ursula von der Leyen. “We are deeply concerned by how Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused major disruptions to international food and agriculture supply chains, and the threat it poses to global food security. We recognize that many countries around the world have relied on imported food staples and fertilizer inputs from Ukraine and Russia, with Putin’s aggression disrupting that trade,” the leaders stated. In an April report titled, “The Ukraine Conflict and Other Factors Contributing to High Commodity Prices and Food Insecurity,” the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service acknowledged that “for agricultural producers around the world, high fertilizer and fuel prices are a major concern.” While political rhetoric has often focused on Russia, the rise in fertilizer prices did not begin with its invasion of Ukraine. An analysis from the Peterson Institute of International Economics shows that fertilizer prices have rapidly climbed since mid-2021, spiking first in late 2021 and again around the time of the invasion. Industry observers have pointed out that commodity prices are not solely affected by Vladimir Putin. Max Gagliardi, an Oklahoma City oil and gas industry commentator who cofounded the energy marketing firm Ancova Energy, told The Epoch Times that the war and sanctions have helped drive the upward climb of natural gas prices in Europe. A worker walks at the Yara ammonia plant in Porsgrunn, Norway, on Aug. 9, 2017. (Lefteris Karagiannopoulos/Reuters) Natural gas is used in the Haber-Bosch process, which generates the ammonia in nitrogen fertilizers. Those fertilizers feed half the planet. Gagliardi thinks the picture is more complicated at home, where environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) has become a controversial tool of stakeholder capitalism, often used to force divestment from fossil fuels or other industries disfavored by the left. “It’s a combination of record demand domestically and from LNG [liquid natural gas] exports combined with less than expected supply, in part due to the starving of capital for the O&G industry due to the ESG/green movement pressures on capital providers, plus pressure from Wall Street to spend less capital and return value to shareholders,” he said. Language from Power Echoes Green Activists, EU, WEF In the case of increasing costs for oil, natural gas, and coal, some politicians and green activists have argued that those fast-rising prices mark an opportunity to accelerate a move from hydrocarbons to wind, solar, and electrification. “Big Oil is price gouging American drivers. These liars do nothing to make the United States energy independent or stabilize gas prices. It’s time we break up with Big Oil and ignite a clean energy revolution,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said on Twitter in March. “I say we take this opportunity to double down on our renewable energy investments and wean ourselves off of planet-destroying fossil fuels[.] Never let a crisis go to waste,” said former Joe Biden delegate and political commentator Lindy Li in a Twitter post about ExxonMobil’s exit from Russia’s Far East. Meanwhile, Mandy Gunasekara, an environmental lawyer who served as the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of staff under President Trump, said in an interview with The Epoch Times, “It’s always been part of their plan to make the price of traditional energy sources go up, so then wind and solar could actually compete with them.” Describing how fertilizer shortages could actually help advance a particular agenda, Power sounded much like Li. She even used an identical phrase: “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Intentionally or not, this echoed a line from another high-profile Obama alum, Rahm Emanuel: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Emanuel was talking about the 2008-2009 financial meltdown. “Less fertilizer is coming out of Russia. As a result, we’re working with countries to think about natural solutions, like manure and compost. And this may hasten transitions that would have been in the interest of farmers to make anyway. So, never let a crisis go to waste,” Power told Stephanopoulos. Power’s language of setting crisis as opportunity parallels similar statements from environmental groups. Writing to EU President von der Leyen and other EU bureaucrats, a group of European and international environmental organizations urged the union to stay the course on environmental policy. “The crisis in Ukraine is yet another reminder of how essential it is to implement the Green Deal and its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies,” the letter states. The Farm to Fork Strategy confidently asserts that its actions to curb the overuse of chemical fertilizers “will reduce the use of [fertilizers] by at least 20 percent by 2030.” “Ploughing more farmland, as is currently being put forward, to grow crops for biofuels and intensive animal farming by using even more synthetic pesticides and [fertilizers] would be absurd and dangerously increase ecosystem collapses, the most severe threat to social-ecological stability and food security,” the activists’ letter argues. “The European Union must tackle the current challenges by accelerating the implementation of its strategies to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and [fertilizers], to preserve its natural environment and the health of its citizens.” Numerous publications from the World Economic Forum (WEF), known for its role in orchestrating the global response to COVID-19, have made similar arguments. A 2020 white paper from WEF and the consulting firm McKinsey and Company warns of greenhouse gas emissions and potential runoff from fertilizers, advocating for an end to fertilizer subsidies in developing countries and praising China for its efforts to reduce fertilizer use. A 2018 WEF white paper, co-authored with the consulting firm Accenture, claims that “a 21st century approach to organic farming” should strive to close the gap in yields between organic and conventional farming. WEF’s vision of 21st century agriculture comes into greater focus in another 2018 report titled, “Bio-Innovation in the Food System.” It advocates for the bioengineering of new microbes to fix nitrogen more efficiently in plants. “This offers the prospect of lowering and more optimally applying nitrogen fertilizer,” WEF’s report states. WEF has also pushed the use of “biosolids”—in other words sewage sludge—as fertilizer. Urine, it notes, “makes an excellent agricultural fertilizer.” Gunasekara, formerly of the EPA, said that fertilizer overuse and runoff presents serious risks, giving rise to toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. However, “generally speaking, the farmers are very, very efficient with their fertilizer use. They have a built-in incentive not to waste something that is a high input cost,” she told The Epoch Times, adding that in her experience, industry and communities could work out positive solutions with regulators. Heavy-handed restrictions, she argued, are not the solution. The UK Absolute Zero report, produced by academics at top British universities, goes even further than some other reports in its opposition to nitrogen-based fertilizers and conventional agriculture more generally. This photo shows sheep feeding on lush grass on the property of Australian farmer Kevin Tongue near the rural city of Tamworth in New South Wales, Australia, on May 4, 2020. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images) It anticipates a phaseout of beef and lamb production, with “fertilizer use greatly reduced,” in order to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050. “There are substantial opportunities to reduce energy use by reducing demand for [fertilizers],” the report states. It also envisions cuts to energy in the food sector of 60 percent before 2050. That imagined energy austerity, with its many unforeseeable consequences for human life, apparently will not last forever. The report claims that after 2050, energy for fertilizer and other aspects of food production will “[increase] with zero-emissions electricity.” “A food crisis/famine advances the long-term goal of more centralized control of energy, food, transportation, etc., as advanced by the Davos crowd of the WEF. Governments must expand their powers to ‘handle’ crises, and that is what progressives love more than anything,” Marc Morano, proprietor of the website Climate Depot, told The Epoch Times. Sri Lanka’s Organic Experiment a Stark Warning Though Power’s remarks were consistent with talking points from Democrats, WEF, the EU, and similar factions, they came at a particularly inconvenient moment for advocates of organic fertilizer—Sri Lanka’s recent experiment with abandoning chemical fertilizer has plunged the island nation into chaos that shows no signs of letting up. According to a 2021 report from the USDA Foreign Agriculture service,  Sri Lankan agricultural economists warned that a rapid shift from chemical to organic fertilizers “will result in significant drops in crop yields.” The country has since had to compensate one million of its farmers to the tune of $200 million, as reported by Al Jazeera. With food shortages now a reality, anti-government protests prompted Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to declare a state of emergency on May 6—the second in two months. “[Sri Lanka is] now literally on the verge of famine, because they’ve had massive crop failures,” Gunasekara said. A farmer prepares a paddy field for sowing in Biyagama on the outskirts of Colombo on October 21, 2020. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images) “This administration wants to use this as an opportunity to push their Green New Deal-style farming tactics, which we’ve seen implemented elsewhere, that cause significant problems beyond what we’re currently facing from our farmers’ perspective and what consumers are going to be facing,” she added. “Manure cannot compete with modern chemical agriculture for high yield farming that the world depends on,” Morano of Climate Depot said. Rufus Chaney, a retired USDA scientist known for his research on sewage sludge-based fertilizers, echoed Morano’s skepticism about making up for missing chemical fertilizers with organic alternatives. “There are not enough useful (and not already being used) organic fertilizers to change the balance of any chemical fertilizer shortages,” Rufus told The Epoch Times via email. “Nearly all organic fertilizers are built on livestock manure and can only be shipped short distances before it becomes cost-prohibitive,” he added. These realities underscore another apparent contradiction in green policy—even as climate activists push for cuts to chemical fertilizer use and greater reliance on organic alternatives, they are working assiduously to cull the livestock populations that provide manure for those fertilizers. In Northern Ireland, for example, a newly passed climate Act will require the region to lose a million sheep and cattle. The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy even states that work on fertilizers will be focused “in hotspot areas of intensive livestock farming and of recycling of organic waste into renewable fertilizers.” “For years we were warned that ‘climate change’ would cause food shortages, but now it appears that climate policy will be one of the biggest factors in causing food shortages,” Morano told The Epoch Times. Bails of hay sit in a paddock containing a failed wheat crop on farmer Trevor Knapman’s property in Gunnedah, NSW, Australia, on Oct. 4, 2019. (David Gray/Getty Images) He cited research suggesting that a move to organic farming in the United Kingdom could actually raise carbon dioxide emissions, as the decrease in domestic yields can be expected to boost carbon-intensive imports. “What the Biden admin is doing is seizing on ‘crises’ to advance their agenda. Greta [Thunberg] famously said, ‘I want you to panic.’ Because when you panic, you don’t think rationally and calmly, and you make poor choices. The only way they can sell these climate-inspired utopian energy and food production fantasies is during times of COVID crisis or wartime crisis,” he added. China’s Role Scrutinized Still, others see the focus on Russia as a distraction from China’s maneuvering on the world stage. In 2021, China limited exports of both phosphate and urea fertilizers. The country has also stepped up its fertilizer imports. China’s export restrictions came after it rapidly emerged as “the most important and most influential country in the fertilizer business,” according to an outlook document from the Gulf Chemicals & Petrochemicals Association. The Peterson Institute’s analysis shows that as global fertilizer prices shot upward in 2021 and 2022, China’s fertilizer prices mostly leveled off. Although the USDA’s April report did note the impact of China’s fertilizer export restrictions and heavy fertilizer imports, its executive summary drew greater attention to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. That summary did not mention China by name among the “countries imposing export bans and restrictions.” Stanford University’s Gordon Chang, a China expert, warned on Twitter on May 6 that China has been “buying chemical companies whose products are needed for fertilizer and, more generally, food production,” citing comments from onshoring advocate Jonathan Bass. The Epoch Times has reached out to Chang and Bass for additional details. We must, as a national priority, protect our farmland, ranches, processing facilities, distribution channels, and all the other elements that support agriculture and the food chain. #China’s regime is seeking control. Its intentions are undoubtedly malign. #CCP — Gordon G. Chang (@GordonGChang) May 7, 2022 China has also been buying up American farmland as well as ports around the world, including ports in the now-food insecure Sri Lanka. Physicist Michael Sekora, a former project director in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told The Epoch Times that worldwide fertilizer shortages could reflect China’s long-range technology strategy. A key element of that strategy, he argued, is undercutting the United States whenever and wherever possible. “Our ability to produce food is very much under attack right now. Some people say, ‘Oh, it’s just a coincidence.’ It’s China,” Sekora said. “China has been very strategic in making sure they shore up what they have and restricting access throughout the rest of the world,” Gunasekara said. “When you have people come in that are very anti-development and anti-growth, China can put its finger on the global market, making it that much harder, and then try to use that as an example to exert more authority and have access to greater power.” Pain Felt Around the World “It’s been hectic,” said South African tobacco farmer Herman J. Roos. Roos told The Epoch Times that fertilizer prices near him have jumped since the invasion of Ukraine, on the heels of steep increases over the previous year. He was able to buy all the fertilizer he needs for this year before the latest price shock. Yet, he expects shortages of urea, monoammonium phosphate (MAP), and other fertilizers to strain a population of farmers already under significant stress. Copper theft, lack of government support, and the ever-present threat of physical violence are all pushing Roos and producers like him to the brink. Yet, for all the challenges in South Africa, Roos anticipates the fallout will be worse elsewhere in the continent. “The economy will be hit harder in countries like Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—countries where your agricultural system is more focused on subsistence farming,” Roos added. They and other sub-Saharan African countries are heavily dependent on South Africa for their food supply. Roos prays food riots won’t come to South Africa. The country is still recovering from a wave of riots in summer 2021, prompted by the arrest of former South African President Jacob Zuma. He does predict that some farmers in the country will go bankrupt. Let the master gardeners foot the bill and do all the work, then show up to get in on the harvest. (StockMediaSeller/Shutterstock) Back in the United States, Connecticut landscaper Adam Geriak does not yet face such stark choices. He told The Epoch Times that fertilizer prices near him are up, in line with estimates a Connecticut garden store provided to The Epoch Times. “I do primary garden work and use organic fertilizers, which primarily come from poultry manure,” Geriak said, adding that the price of poultry manure fertilizer may have risen too. He does not think fertilizer price increases will have much of an effect on him. Yet, other facets of the current economic picture are worrisome to him as tries to manage his small business most effectively. “I’m having a hard time planning for the future because of the uncertainty, and I think other owners are feeling this too. In the previous two years, clients seemed to have open coffers. They wanted more projects done and there seemed to be a lot of money going around. Clients seem to be a bit tighter now, asking how they can save money on certain projects and such,” Geriak said. “Being on the verge of a recession, and retirement accounts down may be leading to these issues,” he added. The USDA report on Sri Lanka’s organic experiment states that the country’s government made impossible promises to different parties. It informed farmers it would handle the cost of moving away from chemical fertilizers while telling consumers that rice on their shelves would not become pricier, all while attempting to realize environmental and public health benefits through a breakneck transition to organic fertilizers. “If you put too much emphasis on environmental issues, and you ignore the very real impact that can have to people’s daily lives, it can have dire consequences,” Gunasekara told The Epoch Times. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing it in the most dire of circumstances, which is a suppressed food supply. I think that situation is only going to get worse because of the rise in prices for fertilizers and diesel and everything else that’s going to make it harder for farmers in the U.S. to produce, then also globally.” Josh, a farmer in Texas who raises small livestock, also believes things will get worse before they get better. He did not want to share his last name. “I personally think that we haven’t even begun to feel the effects of inflation in our grocery store bills, because last year, the costs to produce were 1/3 to 1/2 the cost farmers and ranchers are having to pay this year. That cost has to be absorbed by the buyer to make it feasible for them to even continue,” he said in a message to The Epoch Times. “My family is preparing now and stocking up our freezers and pantry because we are really concerned how bad it can get this next year.” He estimates that fertilizer prices near him have increased 200 or even 300 percent, “dependent on what program you are running.” The rise in diesel prices has hurt him the most. “Farm equipment runs on diesel,” he pointed out. According to AAA’s gas price website, diesel in Texas is running at an average of $5.231, up from $2.820 a year ago. “I can’t imagine how anyone would profit or sustain raising crops or cattle with all these price increases that effect your overhead,” Josh said, saying he has heard about other ranchers and farmers culling their herds to avoid losses. “Food shortages are a great way to collapse the current system and install a Great Reset,” Morano, of Climate Depot, told The Epoch Times. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/09/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 9th, 2022

Saturday links: hard-edge realities

On Saturdays we catch up with the non-finance related items that we didn’t get to earlier in the week. You can check... AutosFord ($F) has started "full" production of the F-150 Lightning. (engadget.com)Those big signs by the side of the road warning of dangers, actually increase wrecks. (wsj.com)Streetscape art helps reduce crashes. (axios.com)EnergyWind energy is largely a red state phenomenon. (cnn.com)New rules are finally coming into effect for energy-efficient lightbulbs. (marketwatch.com)Concentrated solar-thermal power works differently than PV. (wsj.com)Fracking-related earthquakes are on the rise in Texas. (bloomberg.com)How to turn old wind turbine blades into cement. (wsj.com)EnvironmentIt increasingly seems that carbon removal is the only way forward. (theatlantic.com)Climate change could accelerate virus spillover between species. (nytimes.com)Five insights from "The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World" by Oliver Millman. (nextbigideaclub.com)The shift toward electric landscaping tools is on. (wsj.com)Just how big a problem is topsoil erosion? (smithsonianmag.com)Can Buffalo become a haven from climate change? (fastcompany.com)WaterThe multi-state fight over the Colorado River is only going to get more intense. (nymag.com)Arizona is already receiving less water from the Colorado River. (wsj.com)PlanesThe airline pilot shortage is real. Hiring a more diverse workforce could help. (nytimes.com)Drone-maker SZ DJI Technology Co. has pulled out of Russia. (bloomberg.com)A big fight is looming over hundreds of leased Russian airplanes. (bloomberg.com)Trust in scienceA Q&A with Michael Lewis about declining trust of expertise. (vox.com)Trust in science didn't used to be a partisan issue. (fivethirtyeight.com)TechnologyHow spammers use expired domains to fool you and Google. (techcrunch.com)Hacktivists are relentlessly targeting Russia. (wired.com)Narrow communities keep some people returning to Facebook. (theatlantic.com)BehaviorTen things you can to do to boost happiness. (theatlantic.com)Why do we overestimate the number of various minorities in a population? (scientificamerican.com)How beliefs about aging affect longevity. (nytimes.com)Three things to do to avoid freaking out, especially in public. (msn.com)HealthThe risks of anesthesia are higher than you think. (theguardian.com)Naloxone is still in short supply around the country. (wsj.com)A plausible explanation for how the placebo effect works. (bakadesuyo.com)As we get older, seven hours of sleep is the norm. (newatlas.com)DogsDog personalities are not based on their breeds. (scientificamerican.com)But we humans want them to be related. (theatlantic.com)RestaurantsChick-fil-a franchisees have a problem: long lines at the drive thru lanes are angering neighbors. (wsj.com)How restaurants can use crowdfunding to build their businesses. (eater.com)FoodChicken wing prices are now coming down. (washingtonpost.com)How genetically modified pork could be a lifeline for those people with alpha-gal-syndrome. (theatlantic.com)Morels could soon be cultivated indoors. (nytimes.com)DrinkMany states are making to-go cocktails permanent. (npr.org)The bloom is off the craft brewing business. (fastcompany.com)The French drink a lot less than they used to. (twitter.com)SportsDo you really have a league, if one team wins the title ten years in a row? (nytimes.com)IPL teams are now easily valued more than $1 billion. (forbes.com)Why it's so hard to identify the next great QB in advance. (theringer.com)Live sports are coming to HBO Max. (thestreamable.com)Movie theatersWhy haven't more movie theaters closed permanently in the past two years? (variety.com)Studios are still pulling movies from the theatrical slate for streaming. (variety.com)CollegeCollege enrollment is trending dow but enrollment in two-year, blue collar adjacent, programs is on the rise. (bloomberg.com)Is a gap year going to change your chances of getting into a college? (wsj.com)Just because you can borrow for college, doesn't mean you should. (washingtonpost.com)Earlier on Abnormal ReturnsCoronavirus links: a little bit of compassion. (abnormalreturns.com)There are plenty of investments you can put into your 'too hard pile.' (abnormalreturns.com)What you missed in our Friday linkfest. (abnormalreturns.com)Podcast links: building stuff that matters. (abnormalreturns.com)Are you a financial adviser looking for some out-of-the-box thinking? Then check out our weekly e-mail newsletter. (newsletter.abnormalreturns.com)Mixed mediaVeterinarians around the country are burned out. (npr.org)In a booming economy, a two-year, full-time MBA program is a hard sell. (wsj.com)The Great Resignation is not just for the young and inexperienced. (vox.com).....»»

Category: blogSource: abnormalreturnsApr 30th, 2022

How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal? At the COP26 conference last year, 40 nations agreed to phase coal out of their energy mixes. However, as Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti details below, despite this, in 2021, coal-fired electricity generation reached all-time highs globally, showing that eliminating coal from the energy mix will not be a simple task. This infographic shows the aggressive phase-out of coal power that would be required in order to reach net zero goals by 2050, based on an analysis by Ember that uses data provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Low-Cost Comes at a High Environmental Cost Coal-powered electricity generation rose by 9.0% in 2021 to 10,042 Terawatt-hours (TWh), marking the biggest percentage rise since 1985. The main reason is cost. Coal is the world’s most affordable energy fuel. Unfortunately, low-cost energy comes at a high cost for the environment, with coal being the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions. China has the highest coal consumption, making up 54% of the world’s coal electricity generation. The country’s consumption jumped 12% between 2010 and 2020, despite coal making up a lower percentage of the country’s energy mix in relative terms. Together, China and India account for 66% of global coal consumption and emit about 35% of the world’s greenhouse gasses (GHG). If you add the United States to the mix, this goes up to 72% of coal consumption and 49% of GHGs. How Urgent is to Phase Out Coal? According to the United Nations, emissions from current and planned fossil energy infrastructure are already more than twice the amount that would push the planet over 1.5°C of global heating, a level that scientists say could bring more intense heat, fire, storms, flooding, and drought than the present 1.2°C. Apart from being the largest source of CO2 emissions, coal combustion is also a major threat to public health because of the fine particulate matter released into the air. As just one example of this impact, a recent study from Harvard University estimates air pollution from fossil fuel combustion is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally. The Move to Renewables Coal-powered electricity generation must fall by 13% every year until 2030 to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals of keeping global heating to only 1.5 degrees. To reach the mark, countries would need to speed up the shift from their current carbon-intensive pathways to renewable energy sources like wind and solar. How fast the transition away from coal will be achieved depends on a complicated balance between carbon emissions cuts and maintaining economic growth, the latter of which is still largely dependent on coal power. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/29/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 29th, 2022

A Mostly Wind- & Solar-Powered US Economy Is A Dangerous Fantasy

A Mostly Wind- & Solar-Powered US Economy Is A Dangerous Fantasy Authored by Francis Menton via The Gatestone Institute, When President Biden and other advocates of wind and solar generation speak, they appear to believe that the challenge posed is just a matter of currently having too much fossil fuel generation and not enough wind and solar; and therefore, accomplishing the transition to "net zero" will be a simple matter of building sufficient wind and solar facilities and having those facilities replace the current ones that use the fossil fuels. They are completely wrong about that. The proposed transition to "net zero" via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition... will crash and burn. [I]t doesn't matter whether you build a million wind turbines and solar panels, or a billion, or a trillion. On a calm night, they will still produce nothing, and will require full back-up from some other source. If you propose a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, where fossil fuel back-up is banned, you must, repeat must, address the question of energy storage. Without fossil fuel back-up, and with nuclear and hydro constrained, storage is the only remaining option. How much will be needed? How much will it cost? How long will the energy need to remain in storage before it is used? There should be highly-detailed engineering studies of how the transition can be accomplished.... But the opposite is the case. At the current time, the government is paying little to no significant attention to the energy storage problem. There is no detailed engineering plan of how to accomplish the transition. There are no detailed government-supported studies of how much storage will be needed, or of what technology can accomplish the job, or of cost. It gets worse:.... Ken Gregory calculated the cost of such a system as well over $100 trillion, before even getting to the question of whether battery technology exists that can store such amounts of energy for months on end and then discharge the energy over additional months. And even at that enormous cost, that calculation only applied to current levels of electricity consumption.... For purposes of comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is currently around $22 trillion per year. In other words: we have a hundred-trillion-or-so dollar effort that under presidential directive must be fully up and running by 2035, with everybody's light and heat and everything else dependent on success, and not only don't we have any feasibility study or demonstration project, but we haven't started the basic research yet, and the building where the basic research is to be conducted won't be ready until 2025. Meanwhile the country heads down a government-directed and coerced path of massively building wind turbines and solar panels, while forcing the closure of fully-functioning power plants burning coal, oil and natural gas. It is only a question of time before somewhere the system ceases to work.... [I]t is easy to see how the consequences could be dire. Will millions be left without heat in the dead of winter, in which case many will likely die? Will a fully-electrified transportation system get knocked out, stranding millions without ability to get to work? Will our military capabilities get disabled and enable some sort of attack? No sane, let alone competent, government would ever be headed down this path. The Biden Administration's proposed transition to "net zero" via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition will crash and burn. (Photo by VCG via Getty Images) With or without Congressional support, President Joe Biden has determined to move the U.S. as quickly as possible toward an economy predominantly powered by wind- and solar-sourced electricity. In his earliest days in office, Biden issued multiple Executive Orders directing the federal bureaucracy to bend all efforts to achieve this goal. One of those early Executive Orders, dated January 27, 2021 and titled "Tackling the Climate Crisis At Home and Abroad," stated: "It is the policy of my Administration to organize and deploy the full capacity of its agencies to combat the climate crisis to implement a Government-wide approach that reduces climate pollution in every sector of the economy..." When burned to generate energy, fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas -- all emit carbon dioxide, otherwise known in Biden-speak as "climate pollution." Thus, under Biden's directive, they are all to be suppressed. The alternative of expanding nuclear power has meanwhile equally been made impractical by regulatory obstruction; and our potential hydro-electric capacity is already mostly in use. That leaves as the principal remaining option the generation of more electricity from wind and solar facilities; and indeed, the wind/solar electricity option is currently the subject of great regulatory favor, including extensive government subsidies and tax benefits. On last year's Earth Day, April 22, 2021, Biden issued a press release expanding on his Executive Orders and setting specific goals for the elimination of fossil fuels from the U.S. economy. Although Congress has not acted on any such proposals, the Earth Day press release supposedly committed the United States by unilateral executive action to "100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035," and to a "net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050." We are thus as a country embarked on a government-ordered crash program to eliminate our fossil fuel electricity generation within a very short 13-year period, and to eliminate all usage of fossil fuels within a not-much-longer 28 years. When Biden and other advocates of wind and solar generation speak, they appear to believe that the challenge posed is just a matter of currently having too much fossil fuel generation and not enough wind and solar; and therefore, accomplishing the transition to "net zero" will be a simple matter of building sufficient wind and solar facilities and having those facilities replace the current ones that use the fossil fuels. They are completely wrong about that. The green energy advocates, including our President and his administration, entirely misperceive the challenge at hand. The proposed transition to "net zero" via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition, should it continue, will inevitably hit physical and/or financial limits, and will crash and burn. But the circumstances under which the crashing and burning will occur are currently unknown. Thus, worse than being a mere fantasy, the attempt to accomplish a "net zero" transition is a highly dangerous fantasy, putting the lives, health, and security of all Americans at risk as the attempted transition proceeds to its inevitable failure. The root of the mostly-unrecognized problem is that wind and solar generation facilities produce something fundamentally different from what fossil fuels produce. Fossil fuels produce energy that is reliable and dispatchable, that is, available when wanted and needed. The wind and sun produce energy that is intermittent, that is, available only when weather conditions permit, which often does not correspond to consumer demand. Here is something that ought to be blindingly obvious, but unfortunately goes largely unmentioned in discussions of the green energy transition: No amount of incremental wind and solar power generation on their own can ever provide a reliable 24/7 electricity grid. Electricity gets produced the moment it is consumed, and therefore a reliable grid must provide electricity to meet consumer demand at all hours. To take just the most obvious example, wind turbines produce nothing when the wind is calm, and solar panels produce nothing at night; and therefore, a combined wind/solar system produces nothing on a calm night. Unfortunately, peak electricity demand often occurs in the evening, shortly after sunset, when the wind is calm or close to it. Without full back-up from some source, an electrical grid powered by the wind and sun will experience, as just this one example, a full blackout on every calm night. And it doesn't matter whether you build a million wind turbines and solar panels, or a billion, or a trillion. On a calm night, they will still produce nothing, and will require full back-up from some other source. Fossil fuels, and particularly natural gas, are fully capable of providing the back-up needed by a principally wind/solar electricity generation system. But our President now directs that fossil fuel back-up is "carbon pollution" and must be eliminated. The remaining option is storage of the energy from the time when it is produced (e.g., in the case of a wind/solar system, at noon on a windy June day) until the time when it is needed for consumption (e.g., 7 PM on a calm December night). Which brings us to blindingly obvious statement number two: If you propose a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, where fossil fuel back-up is banned, you must, repeat must, address the question of energy storage. Without fossil fuel back-up, and with nuclear and hydro constrained, storage is the only remaining option. How much will be needed? How much will it cost? How long will the energy need to remain in storage before it is used? And, do storage systems exist that can store the energy for that period of time and return it without significant loss and at the rate required to keep the lights on? If our government officials were remotely competent, while proposing a green energy transition for the country over a short period of years -- and with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, being spent on the imminent transition -- these questions should be at the forefront of their attention every day. Long before the U.S. ever got committed to transition to an energy system based mostly on wind and sun, it should quite obviously have been far down the road toward demonstration of the feasibility and cost of the energy storage systems that are capable of enabling the transition. There should be highly-detailed engineering studies of how the transition can be accomplished. The requirements for amounts of batteries measured in gigawatt hours should be known at a high level of precision. The amounts of materials needed to produce the batteries should be known with an equally high level of precision. The technological capabilities of the batteries should be known with an also equally high level of precision (e.g., What is the optimum chemistry of the batteries to be used in the system? What will be loss of energy between input into the battery and consumption? How much in the way of additional generation facilities must be built to provide for this loss? How long can the batteries hold the charge? If charge added in June needs to be stored until December, do the proposed batteries have that capability? Do the proposed batteries need expensive climate control systems to enable them to hold the charge before it is used? And so on, and so on.) Indeed, by this time, supposedly only 13 years from when we will have a carbon-free electricity system, there should be existing demonstration projects showing clearly what technology will be used, and that the proposed technology works and can be deployed at grid scale and at reasonable cost. But the opposite is the case. At the current time, the government is paying little to no significant attention to the energy storage problem. There is no detailed engineering plan of how to accomplish the transition. There are no detailed government-supported studies of how much storage will be needed, or of what technology can accomplish the job, or of cost. It gets worse: In the absence of any serious government effort to address the engineering challenge of energy storage necessary to back up a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, the task has instead fallen to a small number of volunteer amateurs, mostly retired engineers of one sort or another. Several such people have produced credible calculations indicating that backing up a predominantly intermittent wind/solar electricity system using only battery storage will require storage in the range of approximately 30 days of average usage to avoid significant risk of the batteries running out of charge and the system crashing. The high amounts of storage required are largely a consequence of the seasonality inherent in either wind or solar generation, e.g., solar facilities produce far more electricity in the summer than the winter. One example of a serious effort to determine how much and what type of energy storage would suffice to back up a fully wind/solar electricity system was produced in 2018 by a man named Roger Andrews, a retired engineer then living in Mexico. Andrews's work appeared on a website called Energy Matters in November 2018. Andrews considered two cases, one for California and the other for Germany, and obtained detailed data of electricity usage and of production by existing wind and solar facilities in those places in order to make his calculations. Andrews' spreadsheets, and charts appearing in his post, demonstrate that, largely due to seasonality of production from both the sun and wind, it would take approximately 30 days of stored electricity usage to get through an entire year with a wind/solar system. Andrews showed that batteries to hold that amount of charge would cost in excess of a full year's GDP for either California or Germany, although, based on existing technology, batteries even at such enormous cost would not have the capability to hold the charge for sufficient months to fulfill their task. At the end of his post, Andrews concluded: "[B]attery storage is clearly not an option for a low-cost 100% renewable future." In a more recent example, in January 2022, a man name Ken Gregory -- a retired engineer living in Calgary, Canada -- undertook to produce a spreadsheet calculating storage requirements and costs for backing up a wind/solar electricity system for the case of the entire United States. Gregory's work is accessible at this link. Gregory's spreadsheet is based on detailed (in this case, hourly) data for actual consumption and generation from existing wind and solar facilities, with their wildly fluctuating output. Gregory's principal result is that full back-up by storage of the U.S. electricity system at current levels of consumption, and assuming all generation comes from wind and solar, would require something in the range of 250,000 gigawatt hours of battery capacity. Some of that energy would need to remain in storage for over six months, and be discharged over the course of months. Since U.S. electricity consumption is currently in the range of 3.7 million GWH per year, the 250,000 GWH storage requirement calculated by Gregory represents about 24 days of average usage, a result in the same range as the result reached by Andrews. Gregory calculated the cost of such a system as well over $100 trillion, before even getting to the question of whether battery technology exists that can store such amounts of energy for months on end and then discharge the energy over additional months. And even at that enormous cost, that calculation only applied to current levels of electricity consumption. The Biden "net zero" plan for 2050 involves the approximate tripling of electricity consumption, which by Gregory's calculations would drive the cost of the necessary storage up to the range of some $400 trillion. For purposes of comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is currently around $22 trillion per year. Obviously Gregory's calculations could be questioned or modified as to many of his assumptions, and perhaps his calculation of the cost of such a system is too high -- or maybe, too low. The fact remains that if the U.S. government were even slightly competent, it would have its own detailed engineering studies of how to accomplish its coerced energy transition, let alone, at this late date, demonstration projects for small cities or towns establishing the feasibility and cost of what is being proposed. None of that exists. Indeed, none of it is even in the works. To fully understand the depths of incompetence with which the U.S. government is approaching this energy transition, consider the current effort of the federal Department of Energy called the Energy Storage Grand Challenge. Under this program, the DOE proposes to hand out grants to study the challenges of creating batteries to back up the electricity grid when the grid has gone almost fully wind/solar, and particularly to study the subject of the "long duration" batteries that will clearly be needed to store and then discharge massive amounts of energy over the course of months on end to deal with the issue of seasonality. According to a piece that appeared in Energy Storage News in September 2021, here is the status of that effort: "The DOE is also helping to get a US $75 million long-duration energy storage research centre built at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is expected to open by or during 2025." In other words: we have a hundred-trillion-or-so dollar effort that under presidential directive must be fully up and running by 2035, with everybody's light and heat and everything else dependent on success, and not only don't we have any feasibility study or demonstration project, but we haven't started the basic research yet, and the building where the basic research is to be conducted won't be ready until 2025. Meanwhile the country heads down a government-directed and coerced path of massively building wind turbines and solar panels, while forcing the closure of fully-functioning power plants burning coal, oil and natural gas. It is only a question of time before somewhere the system ceases to work. It is impossible to predict exactly when and where that will occur. But it is easy to see how the consequences could be dire. Will millions be left without heat in the dead of winter, in which case many will likely die? Will a fully-electrified transportation system get knocked out, stranding millions without ability to get to work? Will our military capabilities get disabled and enable some sort of attack? No sane, let alone competent, government would ever be headed down this path. *  *  * Francis Menton is the President of the American Friends of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and blogs at manhattancontrarian.com Tyler Durden Thu, 04/28/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 28th, 2022

As Putin Threatens Nuclear Disaster, Europe Learns to Embrace Nuclear Energy Again

In early March, the world looked on in horror as a fire broke out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine. The blaze at the Zaporizhzhia facility following shelling by invading Russian forces was eventually brought under control, and no leaked radiation was reported, though the potential for catastrophe prompted Ukraine President Volodymyr… In early March, the world looked on in horror as a fire broke out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine. The blaze at the Zaporizhzhia facility following shelling by invading Russian forces was eventually brought under control, and no leaked radiation was reported, though the potential for catastrophe prompted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to accuse his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of “nuclear terrorism.” “There are six nuclear reactors there,” Zelensky said of Zaporizhzhia. “In Chernobyl, it was one reactor that exploded, only one.” By referencing Chernobyl—the nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine that became the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986—Zelensky was making the stakes very plain. But strange as it may sound, those scenes at Zaporizhzhia may inadvertently contribute to a new dawn for nuclear power. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The instability resulting from the Russian invasion—as well as mounting evidence of war crimes—has made finding alternatives to Russian oil and liquid natural gas (LNG) a policy priority for European nations who want to stop funding Putin’s war machine. With few options that offer true energy sovereignty, there is now renewed enthusiasm for nuclear energy among politicians in Europe. On April 8, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the U.K. would build up to eight new nuclear plants by 2030 to ensure “we are never again subject to the vagaries of global oil and gas prices” and “can’t be blackmailed by people like Vladimir Putin.” Across Europe, there has been a growing acceptance that nuclear energy is a vital plinth of efforts to fight climate change, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has catalyzed that trend by injecting a national security argument. And as a leader in revolutionary new nuclear technology, the U.S. stands to be the chief geostrategic beneficiary of any revival. The question is whether engrained, ideological aversion to nuclear power in key stakeholder states, particularly Germany, will quell that momentum. Why Nuclear Power is Back on the Discussion Table Collectively, the E.U. imported more than 60% of its energy in 2019. Of that, 47% of the bloc’s imported coal came from Russia, along with 41% of its imported LNG, and 27% of its imported crude oil. The ideal solution is to replace coal and oil with renewables like wind, solar and tidal power. However, despite some great advances in battery technology amid heaps of investment, there is still not a viable storage solution to provide power when the sun isn’t shining, or wind stops blowing. This means each nation’s energy portfolio requires a “firm” element. The cheapest option is simply to swap out dirty coal for comparatively clean LNG, but Putin’s aggression has underscored the hidden costs of that approach. Not only is nuclear energy immune to the vicissitudes of oil and gas prices, it’s also a zero-carbon technology. Beyond the practically uncountable damage greenhouse gas emissions inflict on the lives and livelihoods of people globally, the air pollution that results from burning fossil fuels directly led to 8.7 million deaths in 2018 alone, according to research published last year. Meanwhile, despite the raft of high-profile disasters, historic fatalities from the civil nuclear industry are measured in the low thousands. In February, the E.U. classified nuclear energy as “green,” drawing a backlash from environmentalists who point to risks associated with accidents and nuclear waste. But many energy experts counter that it’s a necessary element of a viable net-zero economy. “Nuclear power is an important source of low-carbon electricity and heat that can contribute to attaining carbon neutrality and hence help to mitigate climate change,” wrote Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in a report published in the lead up to November’s COP26 climate talks. And boosting the capacity of Europe’s existing nuclear reactors—which don’t normally run at full tilt, due to the growing inclusion of renewables—was one of the solutions the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently proposed to reduce European reliance on Russian LNG. “The majority of countries in Europe will be even more pro-nuclear now,” says Kai Vetter, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Even before the war in Ukraine, the IEA was saying that the nuclear industry must nearly double in size over the next two decades to meet global net-zero emissions targets. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a 400-page special report, “Global Warming of 1.5°C,” which offered four pathways to mitigate global temperature rises. All four pathways increased the use of nuclear power in relation to 2010, by an amount ranging from 59% to 106% by 2030, and from 98% to 501% by 2050. Since the invasion of Ukraine, E.U., policymakers grappling with how to wean their nations off Russian energy are seeing nuclear as an increasingly viable alternative. Why Some E.U. Countries Remain Skeptical of Nuclear On the other hand, nuclear power remains deeply political in Europe, not least after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan reenergized anti-nuclear advocates in the region. Perhaps the most important country opposing nuclear is Germany—which also happens to be the E.U.’s largest user of Russian energy. Germany’s ruling coalition partner Green Party has its roots as an advocacy group specifically in opposition to nuclear energy, and the country was about to take its nuclear power offline when the war began. As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine in February, Robert Habeck, German Vice-Chancellor and a Green Party leader, said he wouldn’t rule out extending the life of Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants on “ideological” grounds. But he soon backtracked and insisted decommissioning would take place as planned. Instead, Germany has gone cap in hand to Qatar and the UAE to seek alternative sources of liquid natural gas despite climate and human-rights concerns. “It’s so incomprehensible,” says Vetter. “There’s amazing naiveté in Germany in my opinion.” Nuclear power is an issue that splits Europe. Although most E.U. nations are pro-nuclear, at COP26 a group of five—Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal—banded together to urge the European Commission to keep nuclear out of the E.U.’s green finance taxonomy. “We have plenty of evidence of how dangerous nuclear power can be,” Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler told a COP26 side-event on Nov. 11. The reasons for each member’s opposition are varied and complex. In Germany and Austria, a sense of powerlessness amid fallout from the Chernobyl disaster melded anti-Soviet sentiment with anti-nuclear. In Portugal, opposition is rooted in historic tensions with neighboring Spain, which has four of its ten nuclear plants using the Tagus River for cooling, which runs into Portugal. Still, other Western European nations such as Finland, Sweden, France, Spain and Belgium have all historically supported the technology, even while adding renewables like wind and solar. In Eastern Europe, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are all beginning or expanding their nuclear capabilities. Indeed, appreciation of the myriad benefits is swelling alongside the price of oil and gas. “The question of how nuclear power may come back onto the scene was already being discussed because of climate goals,” says a senior Western diplomat in Central Europe, asking to remain anonymous due to official protocol. “Now we have the whole Russian gas question. And again, it’s an answer.” Jean-Marie Hosatte—Gamma-Rapho/Getty ImagesThe Cruas Nuclear Power Plant, in southern France, on Feb. 13, 2022. France is the E.U. country currently most reliant on nuclear energy. What Comes Next Many obstacles remain, of course: Aside from political hesitancy, nuclear plants are expensive, with steep regulatory hurdles. And there is no quick fix: traditional large-scale plants take 10 years to bring online; even the most cutting-edge, next-generation reactors require at least four. Nevertheless, those next-gen reactors, called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), can make a difference, say industry watchers. They’re groundbreaking because, as they are modular, with different numbers of “off the shelf” reactors, they can be combined to tailor for specific needs. Rather than being built bespoke to fit on a specific site, SMR modules get shipped to the location by truck, rail, or barge. This makes them more affordable when economies of scale kick in. They are also theoretically much safer, requiring neither manpower nor electricity to go offline in case of a crisis, while also producing less hazardous waste since they are able to “burn” up more fuel. While traditional reactors are ideal for splitting uranium-235 atoms, the neutrons of “fast” SMRs can also split uranium-238, which makes up over 99% of the enriched uranium that’s fed to reactors. This means less frequent refuelings and less waste. “SMRs could potentially change the game and bring nuclear back,” says the Western diplomat. “There’s a lot of countries looking at this type of technology with different designs for small reactors.” Oregon-based NuScale is a leader in the SMR field, and co-founder and Chief Technological Officer Jose Reyes has seen an uptick in inquiries since the war in Ukraine, as nations grapple with an increasingly thorny energy conundrum. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest globally,” he tells TIME. On the sidelines of COP26 last fall, U.S. and Romanian officials inked an agreement for NuScale to build Europe’s first SMR in partnership with local nuclear firm Nuclearelectrica. The collaboration “will contribute to Romania’s energy independence in line with the European vision of protecting the environment and reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă told TIME in an interview in March. Indeed, if the E.U. wants a nuclear energy ascendency, the U.S. is a likely partner. In the U.S., nuclear power is largely uncontroversial—even Democrats and Republicans are united on the benefits—and America’s 93 operating nuclear reactors supply 20% of U.S. power, or about half of its carbon-free electricity. The U.S. has also been pushing the power source as a solution for developing countries, unveiling in November $25 million of funding to help build reactors in Brazil, Kenya, and Indonesia. In the E.U., the invasion of Ukraine has galvanized an appreciation of nuclear energy. The new mood has been helped by the fact that France—Europe’s most pro-nuclear country, generating over 70% of its electricity via the technology—is the current rotating president of the E.U. Council and controversially added promotion of nuclear power to its presidential program in what one German Green Party member described to TIME as a “f–k you into the face of Germans.” Many other European nations are making a similar calculation. Of the 10 foreign nations that have signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs)—which establishes the groundwork for exploring building an SMR—with NuScale, half are European. In addition, in December NuScale signed an agreement with Ukraine to offer analysis of necessary licensing revisions for SMR deployment funded by a U.S. Trade and Development Agency grant. Courtesy of NuScale Power, LLCNuScale co-founder and chief technology officer José Reyes on a platform at the firm’s Integral System Test facility at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon Oregon. NuScale may be the first SMR firm to gain U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission design approval but it won’t have the field to itself for long. “There are four or five other [SMR] companies in the United States which I really believe will be on the grid within the next 10 years or so,” says Vetter. “And they will be strongly supported by the U.S. government.” The potential strategic benefits for the U.S. pushing this technology overseas are clear. Building a nuclear plant is not like coal or gas—the client is locked into dependency for training, fueling, and maintenance. Russia currently leads the world in exporting civilian nuclear technology, but Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has underscored it as an unreliable partner, and the E.U. is currently mulling whether to ban all collaboration with Russian nuclear providers, especially Rosatom and its subsidiaries. If so, Washington stands to boost its geostrategic clout at the expense of the Kremlin. China could be another potential partner for the E.U. Building more new nuclear reactors than any other country—it plans for as many as 150 by 2030, costing in the region of $500 billion—China will soon overtake the U.S. as the operator of the world’s largest nuclear-energy system. It is also experimenting with SMRs, and given its existing engineering prowess and record of slashing costs, is already offering cost-effective alternatives. But question marks hang over China’s strategic ambitions amid accusations of coercive practices and debt-trap diplomacy. In November 2015, Romania’s Nuclearelectrica signed a MoU with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) for the redevelopment of its sole existing nuclear power facility, Cernavoda. However, in August 2019, the U.S. blacklisted CGN over the alleged theft of U.S. nuclear technology for military purposes, and Romania canceled the deal less than a year later. Instead, it has agreed to a deal thought to be worth $8 billion to have the U.S. refurbish and expand Cernavoda. It helps that the U.S. is a trusted ally. “Our plants are designed for a 60 year life,” says Reyes. “So that’s a long-term relationship that involves supply chain and operations and training. So it’s a natural bond that’s created between nations when you do that.” German opposition remains the most problematic for the pro-nuclear lobby given the nation’s leadership role within the E.U. One leading Green Party figure, who asked to remain anonymous since energy policy was not his specific brief, tells TIME that any internal dissent regarding doubling down on LNG instead of reevaluating nuclear remains very much a fringe viewpoint. “There are political identity, cultural, and political risk components [to our continued opposition to nuclear],” he says. “And in a situation of crisis like now there are just so many compromises you can sell.” Certainly, the longer the Ukraine war goes on, extricating nations from Russian oil and gas will stay firmly at the top of Western policy agendas. And the nuclear-over-oil drum is one that Washington, Paris, and others, will keep on banging......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 21st, 2022

Explaining Germany"s Russian Gas Problem

Explaining Germany's Russian Gas Problem Submitted by Jack Raines via Young Money, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! …You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” – 16-year-old Greta Thunberg at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit, 2019 *slow claps* Climate change. The existential crisis that has filled every Gen-Zer with dread since they entered grade school. Politicians, CEOs, and other powerful figures fly their private jets to summits around the world each year to condemn the fossil fuel industry as a vile plague that must be destroyed at all costs. To raise awareness about the climate issue, green technology exhibits have popped up in museums around the world. One such museum is the Futurium, located less than a mile from the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany. While backpacking across Europe last year, I spent 10 days in Berlin. After seeing an advertisement at my hostel for the Futurium, I decided to pay the museum a visit. While walking around this exhibit, and I saw all sorts of futuristic examples of climate technology. Green cities with gardens and forests growing on the roofs of skyscrapers. Windmills and solar panels supporting power grids. A future powered by zero-emission, renewable resources. It was certainly a pleasant vision. But there was one glaring omission from this exhibit on clean energy: nuclear power. I stepped aside to ask one of the museum’s curators if they had a nuclear energy section of the green exhibit. “I’m sorry to say that we don’t. This exhibit is meant to highlight Germany’s safe, sustainable green future.” “Oh really? That’s interesting bec-,” I bit my tongue. “Ah, okay thanks. I was just curious.” Back at the hostel that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the feasibility of the whole thing. Sure, this green future sounded good. A world powered by sunlight and wind power, with no smog or pollution. Green cities with no carbon footprints. It matched the utopic vision that had been forced on me since I was a kid: if we drop fossil fuels tomorrow, the world becomes a better place. The thing is, reality doesn’t give a damn about what ‘could be’ and what ‘should be’. Reality doesn’t give a damn about utopia. Reality is reality. What happens when policy makers sacrifice reality for utopia? The above chart was from September, when supply chain disruptions wreaked havoc on energy prices. Now let’s fast forward a few months. In the wake of a brutal winter, Russia decided to invade Ukraine, and German gas and power prices have soared to new highs. A household using 20,000 kWh per year agreeing to a new annual contract in March had to pay a record $3,632, up 62% from just three months ago. Solar panels and windmills sound great when times are good, energy prices are low, and there’s not a care in the world. However, I can assure you of one thing: when winter sets in, supply chains are wrecked, and war is waging in eastern Europe… a climate crisis is the least of your worries, and tears at a UN podium aren’t going to keep your family warm. So how did Germany get here? Where did Europe’s most innovative nation drop the ball? Let’s go back to the 1950s. The Nuclear Dilemma German nuclear power began with the construction of research reactors in the 1950s and 1960s, and the first commercial plant came online in 1969. However, the anti-nuclear movement is nearly as old as the reactors themselves. As early as 1964, critics claimed that the “dangers and costs of the necessary final disposal of nuclear waste could possibly make it necessary to forego the development of nuclear energy.” As nuclear adoption increased in the 1970s, thousands of protestors would gather at proposed sites for new plants around the country. After the partial meltdown of a US reactor at Three Mile Island in 1979, 200,000 Germans took to the streets in Hannover and Bonn to demonstrate against the use of nuclear power. That being said, the anti-nuclear movement remained largely sporadic and unorganized until 1980. On January 13, 1980, a new political party, The Greens, was founded in the central European nation. The Greens emerged from a wave of new social movements including environmentalism, anti-war, and anti-nuclear power. Suddenly, the anti-nuclear movement had a face. Since the party’s inception, The Greens have been concerned with the immediate halt of construction and operation of all nuclear power stations. As an alternative, they have promoted a shift to non-nuclear renewable energy sources such and solar and wind power. In 1986, large parts of Germany were covered with radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl disaster, sparking widespread hysteria. Anti-nuclear protests broke out across the country, and the Green Party called for “the immediate shut-down of all nuclear facilities.” Support for this new party grew in the wake of Chernobyl, and The Greens increased their share of the vote to 8.3% in the 1987 federal election. Unlike the US, where we have a two-party system, the German legislature is a multi-party system. In 2021, for example, seven parties controlled at least 5% of the parliament’s voting power and seats. Given this structure, The Greens’ 8% voting share in 1987 was significant. After the Chernobyl disaster, the Greens became more radicalized and refused to compromise on the nuclear issue. Fearing public backlash, politicians across all parties began to stress that nuclear was a “transient technology”, but not the future. After 1989, no new commercial nuclear power plants were built in Germany. In 1998, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens led the nation as a joint coalition. Gerhard Schröder, leader of the SPD, was elected as Chancellor. In his first term, Schröder’s government decided to phase out nuclear power and instead double down on funding renewable energies. This phase out plan, known as the “nuclear consensus”, limited the lifespan of all nuclear plants to 32 years. Each plant was allocated an amount of electricity that it could produce before being shut down, with the end goal being the shutdown of all nuclear plants by 2022. The results after 20 years? Germany has certainly succeeded in cutting back its nuclear power production. However, it is far from a green utopia. The chart below from the IEA shows Germany’s electricity generation by source from 1990 to 2020: If colors aren’t your thing, I broke the data down into percentages below. Nuclear is highlighted. Color me shocked, I mean shocked, to see that the face of the green movement gets most of its electricity from… coal. It turns out that coal isn’t the most environmentally friendly fuel source either! It’s actually 273x more harmful than nuclear power. This reliance on coal will be important in a bit. Fascinating stuff, no? Now to Germany’s credit, they have done an excellent job of expanding their wind and solar power, growing them from less than 1% of electricity generation in 2000 to more than 31% in 2020. But that doesn’t answer the question: Why the reduction in nuclear power? According to Our World in Data, nuclear is the cleanest form of energy available. It is also 351x safer than coal, with only a rounding error separating it from wind and solar (and this includes Chernobyl and Fukushima). The shift away from nuclear has little to do with the dangers of nuclear reactors, nor the viability of other renewable energy sources. It has a lot to do with natural gas. Gas Me Up Notice that natural gas jumped from 9% to 17% of German electricity generation since 2000. While Germany was busy cutting its nuclear production, alternative forms of renewable energy couldn’t fill total output deficit left behind. Gas still produces 150x more emissions than nuclear, but it is cleaner than coal and oil. Having already committed to phasing out nuclear, Germany turned to natural gas to fulfill its energy needs. There was just one problem:  Germany produces little natural gas of its own. However, Europe’s estranged neighbor to the east, Russia, happens to produce the second-most most natural gas in the world. So Germany bumped up its Russian imports. How much gas does Germany import from Russia? A lot. Germany’s economy and climate ministry said that in 2022, 55% of its gas imports came from Russia, 30% from Norway, and 13% from the Netherlands. Part of the reason that Germany is so reliant on Russian gas is that it doesn’t have its own liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminals, meaning that all of its gas has to come through pipelines. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, owned and operated by Russian gas giant Gazprom, can transport up to 55B cubic meters of gas to Germany each year, and the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline would have doubled this capacity. However, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany put the certification of Nord Stream 2 on hold. German has now made plans to build two domestic import terminals to reduce energy dependence on Russia in the future, but that does little to fix the supply crunch that the country is facing now. To recap: Germany shut down nuclear power, the cleanest form of energy available, and planned to replace it with other renewable energy sources. When demand couldn’t be satisfied by renewable energy alone, it turned to natural gas, a much dirtier form of energy. Germany doesn’t have import terminals for LNG, making it dependent on pipelines. Russia has the highest capacity pipeline network to Germany, making it Germany’s main suitor. Cool. Now let’s bake another layer into Germany’s energy problem. While Germany has reduced its dependence on coal by 50% since 2000, coal is still its primary source of electricity. There are two kinds of coal used for energy: hard coal and brown coal. Hard coal is notoriously bad for the environment, and Germany has ended all domestic mining of this product. However, while 16.9% of Germany’s electricity is generated from the “cleaner” brown coil, 7.4% of the country’s grid is still powered by hard coal. A product that it no longer produces domestically. So Germany now imports 100% of its hard coal, which is responsible for 7.4% of its electricity. And who does Germany import 45% of its hard coal from? Russia. Starting to notice a theme here? So this central European country, that is “leading the charge” against climate change, has terminated its greenest energy source. Germany is now reliant on Russia, a country that doesn’t give a damn about climate change, for two of its main power sources, which both happen to be terrible for the environment. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much information about this at that Futurium exhibit! There Are No Coincidences This must have been a miscalculation, right? Germany must have underestimated how long it would take to implement other renewable energy sources. They underestimated what their energy needs would be in 20 years. Maybe they falsely thought that coal was cleaner than nuclear power! Maybe, but probably not. Let’s circle back to Germany’s Chancellor in year 2000. Since 2017, Gerhard Schröder, the man who led the charge to shut down nuclear in the name of renewable energy, has been the chairman of Russian energy company Rosneft. In February 2022, just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, Schröder, the man who led the charge to shut down nuclear in the name of renewable energy, was named to the board of Gazprom, the Russian state-owned multinational energy corporation that did $120B of revenue in 2019. You know, the same Gazprom that owns the Nord Stream Pipelines. Schröder also happened to be the man who authorized construction of this very Nord Stream Pipeline in 2005! It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Schröder has found himself in such an enviable position in the Russian energy industry. After all, he is a long-time friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, spending several birthdays in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Best friends ❤️ Germany, the most powerful country in the EU, is now at the mercy of Russian energy policy. Guess what product has been conveniently left out of sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine? Energy. There are no coincidences. We knew back in 2014 that Russia was willing to influence foreign energy policy. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, then secretary-general of NATO, stated that he had reliable information that Russia was engaged with British environmental organizations working against shale gas. The UK proceeded to ban fracking in 2019. Why would Putin be anti-shale? Was he worried about the environmental impact of fracking? No. He wanted Europe to remain reliant on Russian gas. Best Story Wins It is the most ironic plot line, no? Russia, a country seemingly stuck in the 1980s era of pollution-heavy industrialization, was actively funding green movements in the United Kingdom. Schröder, the German chancellor who led the “green movement” in his country, who is both best friends with Putin and a board member on multiple Russian energy companies, played an integral role in building the pipeline network from Russia to Germany. Oh the irony. This happened because we humans aren’t moved by data, statistics, and probabilities. We are compelled by stories. I could show you data that zero Germans were adversely affected by the Chernobyl meltdown. I could prove to you that the radiation received from touring the Chernobyl zone is less than what a passenger receives on a NYC to London flight. Or I could bombard you with misinformation about radioactive waste, terrify you with stories of nuclear malfunction, and sow seeds of doubt into the mind of the general populace, “What if Fukushima happens here?” I could show you evidence that solar and wind power can’t generate enough power to fuel the world’s biggest economies, or I could extrapolate temperature “data” to forecast that climate change will destroy the world if we don’t shut down fossil fuels now. Data is no match for powerful stories. Stories tug at our emotions. Fear of nuclear fallout and global warming-induced existential threats, no matter how far-fetched, dominate public opinion. Stories are the reason that Americans are terrified of plane crashes, an event that happens 1 out of every 16 million flights, but we don’t think for a second about heart disease, a condition that kills 1 out of every 4 of us. Stories spread like wildfire, creating protests and demonstrations. The strongest stories make their way into parliaments and congresses around the world, warping public policy, data be damned. Stories helped the Green Party outlaw nuclear energy in Germany, despite it being the safest and cleanest form of energy in the world. Stories led Western European nations to sacrifice energy independence now, to guard against a vague potential threat at some point in the future. Stories made Russia, the silent enemy of the west for fifty years, Europe’s primary energy provider. Putin and company quietly mastered the art of storytelling by using the green energy narrative to increase foreign dependency on Russian gas: Make sure everyone is the world views climate change as a threat, vilify western oil and gas companies, encourage legislation that favors renewable energy, amplify unfounded fears about nuclear power, and profit as countries quietly realize that they need natural gas to keep the lights on. The green movement was, ironically, the most efficient way for Putin and Schröder to pad their pockets at Europe’s expense. But you know what, maybe it would be worth it if it made a difference. Maybe sacrificing energy independence would be a fair trade off if it made the world a cleaner place. But it didn’t. If anything, western energy policy managed to make the world a dirtier place. While western leaders pat themselves on the back for “doing their part”, for shutting down fossil fuel plants and nuclear reactors, for building windmills and solar farms, they don’t realize that they didn’t change a damn thing. The planet isn’t greener, because the pollution didn’t go away. It was simply outsourced with energy independence. Germany and England replaced nuclear reactors and domestic shale with Russian gas, and I doubt Putin is losing sleep over his carbon footprint. Believe it or not, the ozone layer doesn’t discriminate by geography, and outsourced fossil fuels are, in fact, still fossil fuels. The greatest two lies that the green movement ever told were that we could drop fossil fuels for renewables overnight, and nuclear didn’t need to be part of the solution. But these two lies have proven to be quite lucrative for certain Russian energy companies. Who knew that Vladimir Putin was renewable energy’s biggest cheerleader? - Jack If you liked this piece, make sure to subscribe by adding your email below! Tyler Durden Tue, 04/19/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 19th, 2022

Solar to Beat Wind Generation in US by 2030: 3 Stocks to Watch

The encouraging growth forecast by EIA in the renewables energy space bodes well for the U.S. solar stocks like ENPH, JKS and SEDG in the long haul. Per the Annual Energy Outlook report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in March 2022, U.S. power generation from renewable sources of energy is projected to increase from 21% in 2021 to 44% in 2050. Impressively, new wind and solar power will constitute the majority of this renewable energy increase, with total solar generation projected to surpass wind generation by the early 2030s.Such an encouraging forecast brings the spotlight on prominent solar stocks like Enphase Energy ENPH, JinkoSolar JKS and SolarEdge Technologies SEDG.Factors Shaping the Growth TrendGrowth in U.S. solar generation capacity is buoyed by extension of investment tax credit for both solar and solar plus storage installations, which helped reduce the cost of solar projects. Additionally, the sustained process of retirement of coal generators and the slow pace of growth in natural gas-fired generation are propelling demand for solar energy in the United States.Also, as solar power fails to provide electricity 24x7, battery storage technology recorded a huge jump in demand in the United States. In 2021, the country recorded a solid 200% expansion in battery storage capacity, highlighting the increased adoption of storage solution technology. Per the latest EIA report, the United States is likely to witness a capacity addition of 10 gigawatts in battery storage in the next two years.Undoubtedly, these factors will boost the solar generation capacity in the United States as the nation strives to increase the pace of transition toward a cleaner environment.Stocks to WatchIn the light of the aforementioned factors, the solar stocks which investors should keep in their watchlist are:Enphase Energy:ENPH enjoys a solid position in the solar market and manufactures fully integrated solar-plus-storage solutions. Enphase strives to attain sustainable growth by continuously introducing innovative products and strategic acquisitions.Enphase anticipates to ship between 110 and 120 megawatt-hours (MWh) of batteries in the first quarter of 2022, indicating growth of 15% from the fourth-quarter 2021 level. ENPH currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.JinkoSolar: JKS is one of the largest and the most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world. One of every 10 solar modules installed worldwide was manufactured by JinkoSolar. JKS expects 2022 shipments of solar module, cell and wafer in the range of 35-40 gigawatts (GW) as compared to 25 GW shipped in 2021.JinkoSolar currently carries a Zacks Rank of 3. JKS’s 2022 estimated earnings suggest growth of 49.4% from the prior-year figure.SolarEdge Technologies: SEDG’s optimized inverter solutions benefit a broad range of solar market segments. SolarEdge launched its residential battery the SolarEdge energy bank in 2021, a 10-kW single-phase battery that integrates with its SolarEdge energy hub family of inverters. SEDG plans to ship 100-120 MWh of residential batteries in the first quarter of 2022.SolarEdge is currently Zacks #3 Ranked. SEDG boasts a long-term earnings growth rate of 23%.          Special Report: The Top 5 IPOs for Your Portfolio Today, you have a chance to get in on the ground floor of one of the best investment opportunities of the year. As the world continues to benefit from an ever-evolving internet, a handful of innovative tech companies are on the brink of reaping immense rewards - and you can put yourself in a position to cash in. One is set to disrupt the online communication industry. Brilliantly designed for creating online communities, this stock is poised to explode when made public. With the strength of our economy and record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.>>See Zacks’ Hottest IPOs NowWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report JinkoSolar Holding Company Limited (JKS): Free Stock Analysis Report Enphase Energy, Inc. (ENPH): Free Stock Analysis Report SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. (SEDG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksApr 8th, 2022

Nuclear power could transform the US energy grid — but decades of roadblocks and rising prices are standing in the way

Experts say relying more nuclear power could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, especially as the invasion of Ukraine roils global energy markets. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images Nuclear power is the answer to reducing US reliance on fossil fuels, some experts say.  But critics argue that it's still too costly and dangerous after high-profile meltdowns.  Investors like Bill Gates are working to make nuclear plants cheaper and easier to build. First, picture a lollipop.Now, imagine if that lollipop were made of uranium, and it could provide all the energy you'd need over your entire lifetime. Plus, the solid waste from providing you that energy would also be the size of a lollipop.That's the advantage of nuclear power, Gary Was, a nuclear engineering professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, wrote in a 2020 paper published in the journal "New Labor Forum." "The energy density [of nuclear power] is just phenomenal compared to fossil fuels or renewables," Was told Insider. "It's a huge amount of energy from just a tiny, tiny volume."Nuclear energy currently accounts for about 20% of all power in the US. Natural gas still outpaces nuclear, accounting for roughly 40%, while a mix of coal, hydroelectric, and other renewables make up the rest, according to US government data. But experts say that relying more on nuclear power could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, especially as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues to roil the global energy markets. Widely considered a clean, cheap, and reliable alternative to fuels like oil, gas, and coal, nuclear could be the answer to our problems — but decades of rising costs and roadblocks still stand in the way. How nuclear power plants became so expensive to build A photo of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania from 1979.Leif Skoogfors/Getty ImagesNuclear power plants began cropping up in the US in the 1960s. Back then, they were cheap to build. By some measures, building a nuclear plant was cheaper than building a modern gas plant, according to Vox. But over time, nuclear power plants became more expensive for a variety of reasons: The plants are constructed on site, which can be costly and time-consuming; there's no standard design used by the entire industry; and government regulations around security and staffing have made the plants significantly more expensive to operate, Was said.  These days, there are 28 states with at least one commercial nuclear reactor and most of them are east of the Mississippi River. Illinois leads the US with 11 reactors at six plants throughout the state — two new reactors are under construction in Georgia, though those, too, are experiencing delays and mounting costs.The possibility of a meltdownWorkers walk next to reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 10 years after it was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake.PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty ImagesWhat critics often point to as the biggest risk of nuclear power is radioactive waste.The total amount of waste is "very, very small," Was said — in fact, all the used fuel produced by the nuclear industry would only cover the length and width of a football field and reach about 10 yards high.But the fact remains that the waste is highly radioactive. The federal government had planned to create a permanent site to store all the waste in Yucca Mountain, Nevada, but political maneuvering derailed the plan. For now, waste is stored at nuclear plants across the country, which experts say will work for another 100 years or so. And then, of course, there's the possibility of a reactor melting down. In 1979, an equipment malfunction caused a partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. No one at the plant was killed, and scientific studies in the decades since have been unable to find any long-term health impacts.In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan — the meltdown resulted in one radiation-related death, the Japanese government announced in 2018. A 2016 World Health Organization report said the workers who were most exposed to radiation have an increased cancer risk, but that the risk to the population surrounding the plant is small. A 2020 United Nations report found that there have been no adverse health effects among local residents in the decade since the meltdown. Still, the Fukushima accident in particular was a public relations disaster for the nuclear power movement and led governments around the world to curtail their nuclear programs.Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in 2019 that the meltdown led him to leave the nuclear industry altogether."Despite working in the industry for more than a decade, I now believe that nuclear power's benefits are no longer enough to risk the welfare of people living near these plants," he wrote. "The current and potential costs — in lives and dollars — are just too high."'A rock-solid source of electricity' Nuclear power proponents say it's crucial for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty ImagesThe clean energy community is divided on whether nuclear power should be a key part of our future energy mix. But Michigan's Was told Insider that nuclear is essential because it's the most reliable energy source we have. Nuclear power plants operate at 100% capacity about 93% of the time, according to US government data, making them more reliable then wind and solar, and even natural gas and coal. "These things have been just sort of a rock-solid source of electricity for us for at this level for probably 20 years now," Was said. "They've quietly been building up an extremely impressive history of providing 100% CO2-free electricity to this country, and that's something that if you stand up and take note of it, you gotta ask the question, well, what else do we have that can do that?" That sentiment is gaining traction in the startup world where companies like NuScale and TerraPower, which is founded and backed by Bill Gates, are experimenting with smaller or more modular reactors that cost less to build. Gates told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin last year that he sees a future where reliance on nuclear power will "absolutely" be politically palatable."As we solve these engineering problems and cost problems," he said, "I hope people will be open-minded to see how incredibly safe the next generation will be." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 7th, 2022

Scientists say climate solutions like solar power and walkable cities are cheap, doable, and can make a dent in the crisis

The climate crisis is daunting, but a major UN report outlines plenty of low-tech ways for governments and businesses to save money and help fix it. Solar panels are installed at a floating photovoltaic plant on a lake in Haltern, Germany, on Friday, April 1, 2022.Martin Meissner/AP Photo A major UN report offers a playbook for averting the worst effects of climate change, if the world acts now. Forests, solar farms, and compact cities with electric buses can make a huge difference this decade. Here are five doable solutions for turning around the climate crisis right now. We only have three years left to avert the worst consequences of climate change, a sobering report from the United Nations warned on Monday.Human activities are releasing heat-trapping gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. That's caused global temperatures to rise 1.1 degrees Celsius in the last 170 years, and the planet is on track to warm roughly 2 more degrees by the end of the century, catastrophically endangering humans' physical health, our food and water supply, the availability of safe places to live, and the survival of animal species.However, there is still time to change our ways. That's the focus of the new report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), authored by hundreds of scientists from across the globe."As long as you want to keep temperatures below about 3 degrees, we needed to peak emissions immediately, as soon as possible — ideally five to 10 years ago — and the latest, before 2025," Edward Byers, an energy and climate researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and a lead author on the report, told Insider.Anderson Soletti walks at his soy plantation affected by drought, in Espumoso, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, on January 10, 2022.Diego Vara/ReutersIf global emissions of heat-trapping gases peak by 2025, plummet to half their current level by 2030, and drop to zero by 2050 — there's a chance the planet won't warm past 1.5 degrees. In nearly 3,000 pages, the report lays out a playbook to meet that ambitious timeline.Many of the measures in the IPCC's roadmap are cheap, quick, and doable with current technology. Some, like improved mass-transit systems, offer additional benefits, like creating new jobs and addressing socioeconomic inequity."The global benefits of climate action exceed the cost," Stephanie Roe, a lead author on the report and a climate scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, told Insider."It's still possible," Byers said.Here are five straightforward climate actions that governments and businesses of all sizes can tackle right now.Retrofit cities for electrified transit, biking, and walkingThe BYD electric bus factory in Lancaster, California, on July 1, 2021.Mike Blake/ReutersCities and urban areas make up two-thirds of all global emissions, according to the new IPCC report. Redesigning urban transportation could cut about one-quarter of those emissions by 2050.That means building housing near workplaces, so that residents have short commutes, and designing streets that encourage biking, walking, or taking shared public transit instead of driving personal vehicles. The IPCC also recommends running public buses, trams, and other transit vehicles on electricity rather than oil.The report found that these measures would ultimately save money. They would likely improve local air quality, too.Ditch fossil fuels for solar and wind powerPower-generating windmill turbines beside a church in Noreuil village during sunset at a wind park near Cambrai, France, on March 18, 2022.Pascal Rossignol/ReutersElectric buses and trains won't drive down emissions much if their energy comes from coal-fired power plants. Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas release lots of carbon dioxide and methane when we burn them for energy.For that reason, the energy sector is a far bigger greenhouse-gas polluter than sectors like agriculture or transport. In 2019, energy suppliers produced about 34% of all human-driven emissions worldwide, according to the IPCC report.Climate scientists' core message: We must stop using fossil fuels as quickly as possible.Every pathway to limit warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees requires almost eliminating fossil-fuel use by the 2050s, Byers said.An employee works among solar panels at Bemol Solar plant outside Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, on August 23, 2021.Bruno Kelly/ReutersThe good news is that wind turbines and solar panels have become significantly cheaper to install and operate in the last decade. Now, renewable energy is often competitive with fossil fuels. Governments, businesses, and households should draw energy from wind and solar farms whenever possible, the report recommends."Renewables can be done rapidly and very cheaply nowadays," Byers said, adding, "The electricity sector has made lots of progress on this."Cut methane emissions by patching leaksExcess natural gas is flared at the Cactus gas processing center, run by state oil company Pemex, near Colonia El Carmen, Chiapas, Mexico, on October 19, 2021.Edgard Garrido/ReutersNearly one-fifth of all the energy sector's emissions are methane — a powerful gas with 30 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide.Most of that methane comes from "fugitive emissions," meaning leaks from fossil-fuel transportation and processing facilities. An analysis of satellite images from 2019 and 2020 found more than 1,800 methane plumes along gas pipelines all over the globe. Altogether, the study calculated, those leaks' emissions were comparable to 20 million additional vehicles on the road for a year.Because the gas has such a potent heating effect in the atmosphere, a drop in methane emissions can help rapidly reduce the speed of global warming. Patching gas leaks would probably save energy companies money, too."That is a really low-hanging fruit, I think, that can be easily addressed," Roe said.Stop wasting foodA volunteer holds a bag of potatoes as people queue for handouts of excess potatoes at an event organized by the Washington Potato Commission in Auburn, Washington, on May 7, 2020.David Ryder/ReutersMethane also comes from livestock and waste facilities, as cows belch and garbage decomposes. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the US, and food waste is the largest category of garbage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Agriculture estimates that 30-40% of the US food supply is wasted.Wasting less food would mean fewer methane emissions at the landfill and could also reduce emissions upstream in food production. Using food that previously would have gone to waste could allow us to produce less of it, which would mean fewer emissions from fertilizer, farming, and food-processing machinery.Acres of romaine lettuce after being plowed into the ground due to the loss of the restaurant market, in Holtville, California, on April 15, 2020.Mike Blake/ReutersThat's a lifestyle change that individuals and families can make in developed countries. According to the IPCC report, 61% of the world's food waste came from households in 2019."That is an easy way to both increase efficiencies and reduce your own costs as a consumer, reduce the cost down the supply chain, and make a big, big difference in terms of reducing emissions, but also limiting and reducing pressure on land," Roe said.Protect forests and grow more of themA tourist watches birds in the top of a canopy at the Manu Biosphere Reserve in Peru's southern Amazon region of Madre de Dios, on November 2, 2009.Enrique Castro-Mendivil/ReutersTrees thrive by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in their tissues. That's why forests can be a powerful tool to slow global warming.The IPCC report calls for protecting forests across the planet from deforestation, or the die-off of trees from changing climate conditions, fires, or humans cutting them down. It also points to afforestation, meaning planting new trees where there are none."Afforestation is something that can be deployed today," Byers said.Growing trees takes time, he added, but "it can be done in every country in the world."In this decade, the IPCC's plan could cost $100 or less for every ton of carbon dioxide emissions it prevents. More than half of those mitigation strategies cost just $20 or less per ton, the report estimates. Many of them would ultimately save money.But relying on just one solution isn't enough."There are no silver bullets. We need to do it all," Roe said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 6th, 2022

Buy These Stocks Now to Help Power Your Long-Term Portfolio

Here are a few dividend-paying stocks that are ready to thrive as they help power the economy and perhaps your portfolio for decades... The first quarter of 2022 is behind us and it was chock-full of twists and turns, fueled by soaring inflation, a Russian invasion, rising interest rates, and subdued guidance. The S&P 500 posted its biggest quarterly decline since the start of 2020, closing Q1 down 5%. But things looked a lot worse only serval weeks ago.The S&P 500 surged back above its 200-day moving average and is down around 6% off its highs, after falling into correction territory multiple times in Q1. The Nasdaq ripped off a 14% run following its drop into bear market levels around the middle of the month, with it currently trading roughly 12% below its November records.Selling might return and the next three quarters could remain volatile given all of the very real factors tugging at economic growth and earnings multiples. What’s next in Ukraine remains difficult to gauge and it is unclear how quickly inflation will start to come down from its 40-year highs given the ongoing supply chain issues.What investors can count on is how difficult it is to call a market bottom, with the first quarter and the last two years providing ample examples. Therefore, investors who can handle downside risk and swings in the near term shouldn’t be afraid of buying strong stocks they plan to hold for years.Interest rates also appear poised to continue to accommodate stocks, even though they are rising and the Fed Funds Rate is officially off its rock-bottom levels. The 10-year U.S. Treasury is well above its covid/historic lows of below 0.60% at around 2.4% as of Friday afternoon.A rising rate environment doesn’t support the sky-high valuations we saw during the initial covid boom. And the market already hammered countless growth names. Just look at where the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) is still trading.That said, 10-year yields are barely at three-year highs and well within the range of the past decade. The nearby chart showcases how low 2.4% yields are compared to pre-financial crisis levels. This backdrop could leave Wall Street looking to stocks as the best way to outpace 8% inflation.Here are a few dividend-paying stocks that are ready to thrive as they help power the economy and perhaps your portfolio…Image Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data - St. Louis FedNextEra Energy NEENextEra Energy, through its various subsidiaries, is one of the country’s biggest electric utilities and a leader in renewable energy, boasting that it’s the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy. Crucially, given the variability of wind and solar, NEE is also a global leader in battery storage. And NextEra generates clean, emissions-free electricity from seven commercial nuclear power units.Nuclear, which currently accounts for 20% of U.S. electricity generation, is gaining steam as more countries, from China to France, invest heavily to help reach a carbon-neutral, clean energy future. Plus, renewable’s share (not including nuclear) of U.S. electricity generation is projected to soar from 20% to roughly 40% by 2050, with wind and solar set to be the biggest gainers. These trends clearly benefit NextEra Energy.NEE is coming off two slightly down years that saw its revenue decline YoY. NextEra Energy’s outlook is strong, having added over 7K net megawatts of new renewables and battery storage projects to its backlog in 2021. Zacks estimates call for its FY22 revenue to surge 36% to blow away its FY19 levels ($19.2 billion) at $23 billion and then pop another 8% next year.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchAt the bottom end, its adjusted 2022 earnings are projected to climb 11% to $2.82 per share and then climb 9% in FY23. This comes on top of 10% EPS expansion last year and NextEra Energy has consistently topped our EPS estimates.NEE’s FY22 and FY23 consensus figures have inched higher recently to help it land a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) right now. Plus, six of the eight brokerage recommendations Zacks has for NextEra Energy are “Strong Buys,” with nothing below a “Hold.” And the firm lifted its dividend payout by 10% YoY for a yield of 2% at the moment.NextEra Energy shares have climbed 165% during the last five years to blow away its industry’s 20% climb and the S&P 500’s 100%. This impressive outperformance stretches out for the past decade and continued during the last three years as well.NEE has roughly tracked the benchmark in the last year and closed regular trading Friday 9% below its records at $85.71 per share. NextEra also trades at an 18% discount to its own highs at 29.5X forward 12-month earnings, which places it right around its three-year median.Cummins Inc. CMICummins manufactures engines and powertrains of all shapes and sizes from diesel to electric. Air handling systems, electric power generation systems, batteries, electrified power systems, hydrogen generation, and other power solutions all play key roles in CMI’s expanding portfolio mix. The historic U.S. engine maker is also going all-in on a cleaner future, having gained traction in hydrogen fuel cell technology and beyond.CMI’s New Power division includes battery, fuel cells, and hydrogen-production technologies. Cummins is focused on new-age powertrains including “advanced diesel, natural gas, hydrogen engines, hybrids, battery electric, and fuel cells along with an increased use of low carbon fuels and renewable electricity and related infrastructure.”Cummins in mid-February unveiled what it calls the first “fuel-agnostic internal combustion powertrain solutions,” utilizing engine blocks and core components that share common architectures to be optimized for various low-carbon fuel types. CMI also announced in Feb. its plans to buy Meritor, which makes electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets, among other offerings.  Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchCummins took a hit during 2020 amid the initial covid economic halt. The firm then bounced back in a big way, with its FY21 revenue up 21% to $24 billion to top its pre-covid levels. Zacks estimates call for its sales to climb 7% and 6%, respectively in 2022 and 2023. And its bottom-line growth appears even stronger, with its adjusted EPS figure projected to surge 20% this year and 16% in the following year.Cummins did provide some slightly downbeat earnings guidance amid elevated costs across logistics, materials, and beyond. Still, CMI lands a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and its margins and earnings should slowly improve as global supply chains rebound. Thankfully, the powertrains and engine powerhouse boasts a strong balance sheet that helped it return over $2 billion to shareholders last year via dividends and buybacks. Cummins raised its dividend for the 12th straight year, with its current 2.89% yield topping the 30-year U.S. Treasury’s 2.44% and its industry’s 2.77%. The stock has dropped 25% from its May 2021 records. At $201 a share, it trades 31% below its current Zacks consensus price target. Cummins shares had roughly tracked the broader Autos-Tires-Trucks market over the last decade until its pullback.Thanks to the drop, coupled with its strong earnings outlook, Cummins trades 16% below its ten-year median at 11.2X forward 12-month earnings. This also represents 45% value compared to its own highs and 55% against its industry’s current forward P/E. These are some enticing levels for CMI stock both in terms of price and value. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksApr 1st, 2022

Greenbacker delivers annual results

Key Takeaways Operating fleet capacity nearly doubles, driving sizable production and revenue increases. Acquisition activity accelerated. Company deployed over $1.1 billion in capital; investments more than doubled. Company's net assets nearly tripled, with almost $1 billion in new investor capital raised. Company expanded wind operations in the Midwest, driving economies of scale. Company's investment activities continued to deliver on ESG metrics, including carbon abatement, water conservation and green jobs. Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company closed to new equity capital. NEW YORK, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC ("Greenbacker," "GREC," or the "Company"), a leading owner and operator of sustainable infrastructure and energy efficiency projects, has announced record financial results for 2021, with substantial growth and expansion across fleet size, production, revenue, capital deployed and raised, and portfolio value.1 Operating fleet capacity nearly doubles, driving sizable production and revenue increases Greenbacker expanded the power-generation capacity of its operating fleet by 80% during 2021, putting a record amount of under-construction projects into commercial operation and continuing to acquire existing operational assets. This greater capacity enabled the Company's fleet of clean energy projects to produce 1.5 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of total power, representing yearly growth of 49%. (For these and other exact figures, please see Appendix at the end of this release). Along with this additional production, Greenbacker's total annual revenue from the sale of renewable energy and environmental attributes increased 39%, exceeding $107 million. Acquisition activity accelerated The Company added 149 net new assets to its fleet in 2021. This brought Greenbacker's project count to over 400,2 representing a 58% increase in total number of assets. These additions nearly tripled the fleet's clean power–generating capacity, boosting it to 2.6 gigawatts (GW), an increase of 187% over the year. This figure includes both operating and pre-operational assets. As of the end of the year, GREC was conducting business in 32 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC. Company deployed over $1.1 billion in capital; investments more than doubled Greenbacker deployed a record $1.1 billion of capital into new or existing investments in 2021, marking annual growth of 182%. The fair value3 of Greenbacker's investments4 increased 111% over the year, to reach $1.4 billion. Charles Wheeler, CEO of Greenbacker, said: "Despite supply chain challenges in 2021, our capital deployment and fleet expansion reached new highs. I'm happy to report that this growth brings even greater economies of scale throughout our operations, creating additional value for our investors and allowing us to deliver cheaper renewable power across the country." Company's net assets nearly tripled, with almost $1 billion in new investor capital raised. Greenbacker raised $928.3 million of new equity capital in 2021, increasing the Company's net assets, which topped $1.4 billion by the end of the period. Company expanded wind operations in the Midwest, driving economies of scale During 2021, GREC closed on the acquisition of two operational wind projects in Minnesota—Ridgewind (25 MW) and WindShare (5 MW). The Company now owns three operating wind farms in the state, including CWS (31 MW). Greenbacker also expanded its solar footprint in Minnesota with the purchase of the 11-MW Fillinona solar asset. This project is an example of another clean energy advantage the Company supports: multipurpose land use for ecological and agricultural benefits. Fillinona is located on four separate sites across the state. At two of them, plans are in progress to plant pollinator-friendly vegetation beneath the solar panel arrays, to help support declining bee and butterfly populations and contribute to a healthy biosphere. At the other two sites, pasture mix will be planted to provide grazing for nearby farmers' livestock. Land for Fillinona is leased from local farm families and towns, generating reliable income for the landowners over the lifetime of the project. Company's investment activities continued to deliver on ESG metrics, including carbon abatement, water conservation and green jobs At the end of 2021, the cumulative amount of energy generated by the Company's fleet grew to over 3.7 million MWh, abating nearly 2.7 million metric tons of carbon since 2016.5 The Company's clean energy projects have saved over 2.5 billion gallons of water,6 compared to the amount of ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 31st, 2022

Elon Musk is optimistic on climate, says decarbonization will be achieved through nuclear then solar power

"We will solve the climate issue. It is just a question of when," Elon Musk said, adding that it's the "fundamental goal of Tesla" to do so. SpaceX founder Elon Musk at the company's HQ in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019.PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images Elon Musk said he is confident society will solve "the climate issue," it's just a question of when. He predicted that solar power "will be the main long-term way that civilization is powered."  But until that transition is made, he said countries need to maintain nuclear energy.  Elon Musk is optimistic about Earth's climate future."We will solve the climate issue. It is just a question of when," he said in a recent interview with Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Insider's parent company, Axel Springer.The Tesla and SpaceX CEO predicted decarbonization will ultimately be achieved through solar energy. The key to this transition, according to Musk, is a technology to effectively store the sun's energy for future use."Obviously the sun only shines during the day, and sometimes it is very cloudy," he said. "So you need solar batteries. That will be the main long-term way that civilization is powered."Until the shift to solar is feasible, he told Döpfner that it's essential to maintain nuclear energy plants. "I can't emphasize that enough," he said. "This is total madness to shut them down. I want to be clear, total madness."Musk's comment was in reference to Germany's decision to phase out nuclear energy following the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011. Earlier this month, he called for more nuclear energy in Europe on Twitter as Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored Germany's reliance on Russian oil. —Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2022"If you are somewhere where severe earthquakes or tsunamis occur, it is more of a question mark," Musk said earlier in the interview. "If there is no massive natural disaster risk — which Germany does not have — then there is really no danger with the nuclear power plants."While natural disasters in Germany are "not as extreme as in other parts of the world," the country is at risk to storms, floods and earthquakes, according to the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organization in Germany.Döpfner mentioned both wind and solar as viable alternatives to nuclear in a question to Musk. The Tesla CEO did not comment on wind in his response.Musk did not provide a timeline to back his climate optimism, but said in 15 years the climate issue will look "much better" from a sustainable energy standpoint. Solving the problem is "the fundamental goal of Tesla," he added. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 27th, 2022

Elon Musk discusses the war in Ukraine and the importance of nuclear power — and why Benjamin Franklin would be "the most fun at dinner"

Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner for an interview following the opening of the Gigafactory in Berlin. Mathias Döpfner speaks with Elon Musk at Tesla's Gigafactory in Berlin.Jason HenryMathias Döpfner, the CEO of Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, recently met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk for an interview for Welt Am Sonntag. The interview took place at Tesla's Gigafactory in Berlin, which Musk officially opened on Tuesday, and the men discussed Russia's invasion into Ukraine, space travel, and what makes human beings special. You can read a transcript of the conversation below.Mathias Döpfner: Before we talk about the future, let's look at the present. There is war in Europe. If you see the horrible images of Putin's troops invading Ukraine, killing people. What are your thoughts?Elon Musk: It is surprising to see that in this day and age. I thought we had sort of moved beyond such things for the most part. It is concerning. If you can get away with it, then this will be a message to other countries that perhaps they could get away with it too.Döpfner: Have you been surprised by Putin's behavior? I mean, I remember the discussions in the recent weeks when most of the Europeans thought he is not going to do it. A lot of Americans were convinced he is going to invade. What was your expectation?Musk: My best guess was that he would seek to capture the Eastern third of the country. Frankly, if you just listened to the rhetoric, then it is clear that he was going after at least portions of Ukraine that have a significant percentage of Russian speakers. He did that already in Georgia.Döpfner: In a way, if you listen carefully to dictators, they very often say what they want to do. You just had to take it seriously.Musk: Yeah. They are not subtle.Döpfner: But so far, there is a possibility that Putin achieves pretty much the opposite of what he wants to achieve. He wants to disentangle America from Europe. He wants to weaken NATO. So far, he has strengthened NATO. He has united the west. It is almost a bipartisan topic that unites democracies and open societies. With regard to the long-term outcome, are you rather pessimistic that it is going to strengthen Putin and thus, paving the way for other examples like China or elsewhere? Or are you more optimistic that it could be a turning point for a different security policy of the West?Musk: I do think this will strike the West. I suppose of course that people realize, maybe we should not have all these internal squabbles when there are more serious threats.Döpfner: Volodymyr Zelenskyy put it very clearly. "I need ammunition, not a ride". Europe, particularly Germany, struggled a long time. How about the American government?Musk: I think the American government has done more than people may realize. But it is just not been very public. But it is important to do something serious. We cannot let Putin take over Ukraine. This is crazy.Döpfner: Parts of the world, particularly Europe, have learned the wrong lesson from the Third Reich and the Holocaust. And that lesson is: no military intervention ever again. Trying not to get involved. Now, there is the opportunity that we learned the real lesson, and that is never ever racism, never ever genocides and never ever appeasement.Musk: Appeasement obviously did not work against Hitler. And how much better would the world had been if they had stopped him early. Better for everyone.Döpfner: You did something very concrete, 48 hours, upon the request of the digital minister of Ukraine. And that was delivering Starlink material in order to grant internet access. What was the motivation, and how is it developing?Musk: We did think that Starlink might be needed, and we took some preemptive actions to ensure that it could be provided quickly. When the request came, we acted very rapidly. It is worth noting that the satellite internet connectivity of Ukraine was taken offline by a cyberattack on the day of the invasion permanently. The cell towers are either being blown up or they are being jammed. There is a major fiber backbone which the Russians are aware of. It was quite likely that they will sever that fiber link. This would leave Ukraine with very few connections open. So Starlink might be, certainly in some parts of Ukraine, the only connection.Döpfner: What happens if the Russians and Chinese are targeting satellites? Is that also a threat for Starlink?Musk: It was interesting to view the Russian anti-satellite demonstration a few months ago in the context of this conflict. Because that caused a lot of strife for satellite operators. It even had some danger for the space station, where there are Russian cosmonauts. So why did they do that? It was a message in advance of the Ukraine invasion. If you attempt to take out Starlink, this is not easy because there are 2000 satellites. That means a lot of anti-satellite missiles. I hope we do not have to put this to a test, but I think we can launch satellites faster than they can launch anti-satellites missiles.Döpfner: Russia said that they are going to stop the delivery of rocket engines. Is that a threat or an opportunity for SpaceX?Musk: At SpaceX, we design and manufacture our own rocket engines. So we did not really own any Russian components at all.Döpfner: Is it dangerous for the United States of America?Musk: Boeing and Lockheed have strongly relied on the Russian RD-180 Engine. Which I should say, to be fair, is a great engine. They are hoping to move away from that in the future with engines from Blue Origin. There is also the Antares which uses the RD-180, I believe. They will not be able to fly as a result.Döpfner: With knowledge, products and services, Elon Musk is almost a strategic weapon in modern warfare. How do you see your role in that context?Musk: I think I can be helpful in conflicts. I try to take a set of actions that are most likely to improve the probability that the future will be good. And obviously sometimes I make mistakes in this regard. I do whatever I think is most likely to ensure that the future is good for humanity. Those are the actions that I will take.Döpfner: A couple of months ago we had an exchange about Ernst Jüngers famous book "Storm of Steel". You were very fascinated by that book, which has been published roughly a hundred years ago, about Jüngers experiences in the First World War. Why is that book so important for you?Musk: I read a lot of books, and for some reason I am fascinated by war and history in general. It is not just history of war, but just history in general. Jüngers book is an excellent personal account of World War One. The lesson taken from that book is we don't ever want to do that again.Döpfner: There is a big controversy around that book. Some people are saying this is glorifying war...Musk: It is definitely not!Döpfner: …It is rather positive nor negative. It is just describing what happened in a terrible way.Musk: Nobody is reading that book and says, I want to do that too. For me, it is just fascinating to read about history. I mean, learn the lessons of history, such that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.Döpfner: History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. And we see a rhyme these days. Back to the big strategic picture. The terrible actions of Putin are, to a certain degree, also a result of strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made, the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.Musk: It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.Döpfner: If we really want to reduce Putin's power as well as Europe's and Germany's dependence on Russian energy, we have to decarbonize. It's the only way. Is more nuclear energy the key to free ourselves from dictators and autocrats like Putin.Musk: I want to be super clear. You should not only not shut down the nuclear power plants, but you should also reopen the ones that have already shut down. Those are the fastest to produce energy. It is crazy to shut down nuclear power plants now, especially if you are in a place where there are no natural disasters. If you are somewhere where severe earthquakes or tsunamis occur, it is more of a question mark. If there is no massive natural disaster risk-which Germany does not have-then there is really no danger with the nuclear power plants.Döpfner: Aren't there any safer alternatives that could have a similar effect? Solar and wind won't do it. Do you have any other ideas in mind about future energy policy?Musk: I think long term, most of civilization's energy is going to come from solar, and then you need to store it with battery because obviously the sun only shines during the day, and sometimes it is very cloudy. So you need solar batteries. That will be the main long-term way that civilization is powered. But between now and then, we need to maintain nuclear. I can't emphasize that enough. This is total madness to shut them down. I want to be clear, total madness.Döpfner: Let's see whether this very clear words are heard in Germany.Musk: I would say this is a national security risk.Döpfner: How is the climate issue going to look like in 15 years? Better than today?Musk: From a sustainable energy standpoint, much better.Döpfner: So we are going to solve this problem?Musk: Yes, absolutely. We will solve the climate issue. It is just a question of when. And that is like the fundamental goal of Tesla.Döpfner: You once said that the decrease of birth rate is one of the most underestimated problems of all the times. Why?Musk: Most people in the world are operating under the false impression that we've got too many people. This is not true. The birth rate has been dropping like crazy. Unfortunately, we have these ridiculous population estimates from the UN that need to be updated because they just don't make any sense. Just look at the growth rate last year. See how many kids were born and multiply that by the life expectancy. I would say that is how many people will be alive in the future. And then say, is the trend for birth rate positive or negative? It is negative. That is the best case, unless something changes for the birth rate.Döpfner: That is also why we need alternatives. You have recently presented Optimus, a human robot, and shared great expectations, what that could do for the world. I assume it is not only about the first visit to Mars that could be done by Optimus, but it might also be a game changer in AI. Could you share this vision?Musk: With respect to AI and robotics, of course, I see things with some trepidation. Because I certainly don't want to have anything that could potentially be harmful to humanity. But humanoid robots are happening. Look at Boston Dynamics. They do better demonstrations every year. The rate of advancement of AI is very rapid.Döpfner: Concretely, Optimus is going to be used in Tesla factories. That is one of the use cases, but what is the broader use case beyond Tesla?Musk: Optimus is a general purpose, sort of worker-droid. The initial role must be in work that is repetitive, boring, or dangerous. Basically, work that people don't want to do.Döpfner: Why has Optimus two legs? Just because it looks like a human being, or is it more practical? I thought four legs were better.Musk: Haha, four legs good, two legs bad. Kind of reminds me of Orwell. Humanity has designed the world to interact with a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers. So if you want to have a robot fit in and be able to do things that humans can do, it must be approximately the same size and shape and capability.Döpfner: Do you think that Optimus is going to play a role in our daily life, helping us in the household and things like that?Musk: Yes. A general focused humanoid.Döpfner: The prototype is going to be ready by the end of this year. When is it a product that can be mass marketed?Musk: I think we will have something pretty good at the prototype level this year, and it might be ready for at least a moderate volume production towards the end of next year.Döpfner: You said the potential is bigger than the potential of Tesla. If that is true, then it must be really a mass market product. But anyway, Optimus is also an answer to the problem of dropping birth rates. If we have not enough human people, we need more bots to get work done.Musk: Optimus will be helpful with respect to dropping growth rates. But if these things continue, then what happens? Humanity dies out. Is that what we want?Döpfner: Or replaced by artificial intelligence. Human beings powered by Neuralink.Musk: Neuralink in the short term is just about solving brain injuries, spinal injuries and that kind of thing. So for many years Neuralink's products will just be helpful to someone who has lost the use of their arms or legs or has just a traumatic brain injury of some kind. That is what Neuralink will be useful for many years.Döpfner: Could you imagine that one day we would be able to download our human brain capacity into an Optimus?Musk: I think it is possible.Döpfner: Which would be a different way of eternal life, because we would download our personalities into a bot.Musk: Yes, we could download the things that we believe make ourselves so unique. Now, of course, if you're not in that body anymore, that is definitely going to be a difference, but as far as preserving our memories, our personality, I think we could do that.Döpfner: The Singularity moment that the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has, I think, predicted for 2025 is approaching fast. Is this timeline still realistic?Musk: I'm not sure if there is a very sharp boundary. I think it is much smoother. There is already so much compute that we outsource. Our memories are stored in our phones and computers with pictures and video. Computers and phones amplify our ability to communicate, enabling us to do things that would have been considered magical. Now you can have two people have a video call basically for free on opposite sides of the world. It's amazing. We've already amplified our human brains massively with computers. It could be an interesting ratio to roughly calculate the amount of compute that is digital, divided by the amount of compute that is biological. And how does that ratio change over time. With so much digital compute happening so fast, that ratio should be increasing rapidly.Döpfner: Talking about speed, you have the vision that one day, Starship could be able to get from A to B in 30 minutes all around the globe. Is that correct? It's like a global super taxi. You can just go from San Francisco to Nairobi?Musk: The landing will be loud. So you would probably be connecting cities that are next to oceans or seas. So you can land far enough offshore that the landing noise is not disturbing to peopleDöpfner: Coast to coast would be a realistic option?Musk: Yes, it is like an intercontinental rocket.Döpfner: You have solved so many problems of mankind and presented so many solutions. I'm surprised that one topic does not seem to fascinate you as much: Longevity. A significantly increased life span. Why aren't you passionate about that? Aren't you personally interested in living longer?Musk: I don't think we should try to have people live for a really long time. That it would cause asphyxiation of society because the truth is, most people don't change their mind. They just die. So if they don't die, we will be stuck with old ideas and society wouldn't advance. I think we already have quite a serious issue with gerontocracy, where the leaders of so many countries are extremely old. In the US, it's a very, very ancient leadership. And it is just impossible to stay in touch with the people if you are many generations older than them. The founders of the USA put minimum ages for a local office. But they did not put maximum ages because they did not expect that people will be living so long. They should have. Because for a democracy to function, the leaders must be reasonably in touch with the bulk of the population. And if you're too young or too old, you can't say that you will be attached.Döpfner: Is there a kind of ideal, maximum age? How old would you like to get?Musk: I think for political leadership, you want to be ideally within 10 or at least, 20 years of the average age of the population. And for me, I certainly would like to maintain health for a longer period of time. But I am not afraid of dying. I think it would come as a relief.Döpfner: You may not be able to see the vision of SpaceX come true in your life?Musk: I would like to live long enough to see that.Döpfner: How do you feel, being - at a net worth of USD 260 billion roughly - perceived as the richest person on earth?Musk: I do think that Putin is significantly richer than me.Döpfner: You really do?Musk: Yeah.Döpfner: Do you know John Law?Musk: No.Döpfner: John Law used to be the richest person on earth 300 years ago. He was a Scottish guy and lived in the end 17th century and the early 18th century. He was a gambler, 'un homme à femmes', then a very successful investor, and financial engineer. He was the biggest art collector on earth. He created a stock market bubble in France through a rush behind the shares of the Mississippi company. And was ultimately the reason for one of the first financial crises. John Law used to own roughly 30% of the United States of America then. In the end, he went bankrupt. Did you ever think about what would happen if something were to go wrong and you were to lose everything?Musk: There have been many times when I expected to lose everything. Who starts a car company and a rocket company expecting them to succeed? Certainly not me. I had less than 10 percent chance of success. After the third failure of SpaceX in 2008, I knew that if the fourth launch failed, SpaceX would be dead. We had no money for the fifth launch. Tesla's been on the verge of bankruptcy many times. We even closed on the last day of the financing round in 2008. Remember, back then General Motors and Chrysler had gone bankrupt and Ford was on the brink of it. So, imagine trying to raise money for an electric car startup while General Motors was going bankrupt. People were very angry that I even asked. But we were able to raise just enough money to squeak by. And closed the financial round for Tesla on the last hour of the last possible day in 2008. Christmas Eve. Had we not closed the round then, we would have gone bankrupt two days after Christmas.Döpfner: Elon Musk is not only an entrepreneur, he is also a philanthropist. What are the goals of your foundation?Musk: I do want to emphasize that SpaceX and Tesla fundamentally intend to improve the quality of the future. Especially in terms of usefulness to humanity. Tesla by accelerating sustainable energy. And SpaceX by making multiplanetary intercourse possible. This is more than I can do myself. When it comes to donations, I'd say it is very difficult to give away money effectively. If you care about the reality of doing good and not the perception of doing good, then it is very hard to give away money effectively. I care about reality. Perception be damned. So, there's obviously environmental causes, there is education, especially science and engineering education. Pediatric healthcare. Hunger these days is more of a political and logistics problem than it is not having enough food. There is a lot of food. In the US and many countries, the issue is more obesity than it is hunger. So, I'm always looking for ways to give away money that are effective.Döpfner: If you google Elon Musk, I think you would have more than 200 million search results and nearly 80 million Twitter followers. You are definitely one of the most popular people on earth. Is popularity a pleasure or a liability for you?Musk: It makes it difficult to go buy coffee at the corner. It is hard to go around places, or at least be able to just go to the store or walk down the street. Now it is quite difficult to do that.Döpfner: It reminds me a bit of a former chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, who once told me, you cannot imagine how terrible it is to go into a restaurant and everybody recognizes you, comes to your table, asks you for an autograph. That is terrible. There is only one thing in life that is worse. And that is: if nobody comes to your table anymore.Musk: Hahaha. I just try to find a corner table that is in a dimly light or something, where I can stay out of the way.Döpfner: Is there anything that you most urgently want to achieve?Musk: In the short run, and the most pressing is completing full self-driving, so that we have full self-driving operating at a substantially safer level than humans. Basically, it comes down to solving the problem of real world AI. That consumes a lot of my mind. And getting the starship to work. Not only getting it to orbit but achieving rapid reusability - which is really the holy grail of rocketry that is necessary for humanity to become a multiplanet species. And I think those things might happen this year.Döpfner: Anything that you really would like to achieve, which you think is going to be impossible?Musk: Impossible is a strong word.Döpfner: You don't like that word.Musk: It's a strong word. I approach things from a physics standpoint and the word impossible is more or less banned in physics. I'm really worried about this birthrate thing. That's been troubling me for many years, because I just don't see it turning around. Every year it's worse. And I drive my friends crazy with this.Döpfner: Walter Isaacson is planning your biography. He has written about the lives of Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo DaVinci. Among the four, with whom would you like to meet and have a glass of wine?Musk: I would be honored to meet any of them. I think Benjamin Franklin would be the most fun at dinner.Döpfner: And who is the one you think you are closest to? Would it be Leonardo DaVinci?Musk: I am pretty different. But it might actually be Benjamin Franklin. He did a lot of science and engineering. DaVinci wrote a book, seeing himself first and foremost as an engineer. Actually, in his application for the position that eventually enabled him to create all of the art, it was all about his engineering ideas. Just in the end, he mentioned doing some art. I think it's funny that DaVinci really thought of himself as an engineer. But he was pretty impressive for his time.Döpfner: You said that you cannot be alone. I very much share that feeling. Where does it come from?Musk: I think it's just a natural human reaction.Döpfner: A lot of people are happy if they are alone.Musk: Really? I think most people are not happy being alone.Döpfner: Do you feel lonely?Musk: I mean, there are times when I feel lonely, yes.Döpfner: Because you cannot find people with whom you like to share your feelings and thoughts? You are one of the most popular and looked after persons on earth. Everybody wants to speak with you. But it seems not to work.Musk: There are times when I'm lonely. I'm sure there are times when everyone is lonely. But it's pretty basic. Say if I'm working on the starship rocket and I'm just staying in my little house by myself, especially if my dog is not with me, then I feel quite lonely because I'm just in a little house by myself with no dog.Döpfner: What is your biggest fear?Musk: What are the existential threats that humanity faces? I spent a lot of time talking about the birthrate thing. That might be the single biggest threat to the future of human civilization. And then there's the concern of artificial intelligence going wrong. I think religious extremism is another concern.Döpfner: What is your biggest hope?Musk: My biggest hope is that humanity creates a self-sustaining city on Mars.Döpfner: You have once said, if I'm not in love, I cannot be happy. Are you happy at the moment?Musk: I think there are degrees of love. But certainly, for one to be fully happy, I think you have to be happy at work and happy in love. So, I suppose I'm medium happy.Döpfner: Can love for projects, for work, compensate for love among people?Musk: I tried to be as literal as possible. I would be happy if humanity has a self-sustaining city on Mars because then, probable lifespan of humanity is much greater. I think we really just got this little candle of consciousness, like a small light in the void. And we do not want this small candle in the darkness to be put out.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 26th, 2022

Progressives urge Biden to go around Congress and cancel student debt, boost workers" wages, and combat the climate emergency

With the midterm elections quickly approaching, progressives urge Biden to use his executive powers to revive his stalled economic agenda. U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).Alex Wong/Getty Images The Congressional Progressive Caucus released 8 policy areas Biden should act on by executive action. The issues included broad student-loan relief, combatting the climate crisis, and boosting wages. This would allow Biden to revive his stalled agenda and give relief to Americans, Rep. Jayapal said. House progressives unveiled a wide slate of executive orders they're pushing the Biden administration to take on Thursday, arguing that Democrats must deliver on core parts of his domestic agenda with large chunks of it stalled out in Congress.It amounts to a backdoor approach for Biden to enact swaths of his priorities unilaterally ahead of the November midterms. The party is defending razor-thin majorities in both the House and Senate, and many are anxious about losing control of Congress if they fail to deliver. The House-approved Build Back Better package — containing the bulk of their planned social and climate spending — was torpedoed in the Senate. There are few signs it'll be revived anytime soon."Over the past year, Democrats in Congress and the White House have worked to not only recover from the pandemic and Trump years, but to deliver greater equity and economic security for people across the country," Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the 98-member House progressive caucus, said in a statement. "Tremendous progress has been made, but that work is far from done."The 55-point agenda spans these areas:Cutting healthcare costsStudent debt reliefCombatting the climate emergency and transitioning to clean energyExpanding worker rights and boosting wagesAdvancing immigrant rightsInvesting in care economy jobsJudicial reformsOverhauling the tax code to ensure its fairnessProgressive lawmakers have long been calling on Biden to take advantage of his executive powers. In November, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the "enormous" amount of executive action Biden is sitting on when it comes to progressive priorities like student debt relief and climate action, later saying it would be "actually delusional" for Democrats to think they can win elections without following through on voter priorities.Broad student-loan relief is one particularly salient issue. Although Biden pledged on the campaign trail to approve $10,000 in debt cancellation, he has yet to do so and has expressed hesitancy over his legal ability to act on the issue with an executive order. Progressives have maintained that he has the authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt via executive action under the Higher Education Act, but Biden wasn't so sure and asked his Education Department to prepare a memo on that legality.The memo has existed since last April but has yet to be released.On healthcare, progressives want Biden to fix a so-called "family glitch" in the Affordable Care Act that shuts out families from getting federal subsidies if their employer offers what's considered affordable health coverage. The group projects 5.1 million more people would be newly eligible for these payments to slash health insurance costs. They're also prodding the White House to cut the cost of prescription drugs like insulin and Epipens, a top Democratic priority.The progressive caucus is also urging Biden to use his pen to enact other swaths of the Democratic agenda, transitioning towards cleaner sources of energy like wind and solar and leveling the playing field on taxes.While wages have skyrocketed in the past year, union power and membership still remains low. In 2021, union membership dipped yet again — following a trend of decades of diminishing labor power. At the same time, millions of workers opted to remain on the sidelines or quit in search of higher wages.The Biden administration has aggressively reiterated its commitment to expanding labor power, with progressives rallying around the PRO Act. But even as wages rise, and labor actions tick up, the federal minimum wage has languished at $7.25 since 2009 — something that progressives have repeatedly attempted to change. Biden has not yet commented on the progressive caucus' proposals, but Jayapal remained clear that going around Congress is the best way to get quick relief to Americans right now. "Taken together, these actions will have an immediate and meaningful impact on people's lives: lowering costs and raising wages for working people to provide urgently needed economic relief, advancing racial and gender equity by investing in communities that have historically been neglected, and delivering on our promises," Jayapal said. "We look forward to working with the Biden administration to realize these ambitious, but highly achievable, goals."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 17th, 2022

General Electric (GE) Arm Wins Wind Turbine Deal From Iberdrola

General Electric (GE) to offer 38 units of 3.8 MW onshore wind turbines to 145.5 MW Flyers Creek wind farm near Orange in New South Wales, Australia. General Electric Company’s GE business unit, GE Renewable Energy, recently secured a contract from Iberdrola Australia for the delivery and installation of onshore wind turbines. The financial terms of the contract have been kept under wraps.General Electric’s share price gained 2.5% yesterday, eventually closing the trading session at $94.70.Iberdrola Australia provides renewable energy solutions to households and industrial consumers in Australia. The company currently operates solar, wind and storage batteries with a capacity of more than 800 MW in the country. It also boasts a strong project portfolio, of which 453 MW are in the construction phase.Inside the HeadlineGE Renewable Energy will be responsible for supplying 38 units of its 3.8 MW wind turbines, carrying 137m of rotor diameter. The turbines will be set up at the Flyers Creek wind farm, which is under the development stage near Orange in New South Wales, Australia. The deal will likely help the 145.5 MW wind farm to generate sufficient power for 86,000 households, thus catering to the increasing demand for renewable and sustainable energy.It’s worth noting that the Flyers Creek wind farm project is expected to be completed in 2023, and General Electric will be responsible for providing operational services in the facility for 10 years.The latest contract is a testimony to the growing popularity of General Electric’s onshore wind turbine platform. Designed to operate at variable speeds, the company’s 3.8 MW wind turbines feature a higher efficiency in service ability and an improved level of annual energy production, thus delivering significant value to its customers.Zacks Rank, Price Performance and Estimate TrendGeneral Electric, with a $104.1-billion market capitalization, currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company is poised to benefit from its portfolio-restructuring plans, expansion in the digital business, product innovation and efforts to deleverage the balance sheet in the quarters ahead. However, supply-chain constraints and inflationary pressure are likely to adversely impact GE’s performance in the near term.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchIn the past three months, General Electric’s share price has increased 5.2% against the industry’s decline of 7.1%.In the past 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s 2022 earnings has decreased from $3.42 to $3.23, owing to four downward estimate revisions versus one upward. Also, the consensus estimate for its 2023 earnings has gone down from $5.05 to $5.03 due to three downward estimate revisions against two upward.Stocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked companies are discussed below.Griffon Corporation GFF presently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). It delivered a four-quarter earnings surprise of 56.7%, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Griffon’s earnings estimates increased 9% for fiscal 2022 (ending September 2022) in the past 30 days. GFF’s shares have lost 9.8% in the past three months.Franklin Electric Co., Inc. FELE presently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Its earnings surprise in the last four quarters was 17.4%, on average.In the past 30 days, Franklin Electric’s earnings estimates have been raised 10.9% for 2022. FELE’s shares have lost 5% in the past three months.Carlisle Companies Incorporated CSL presently carries a Zacks Rank #2. Its earnings surprise in the last four quarters was 35.1%, on average.Carlisle’s earnings estimates have increased 3.8% for 2022 in the past 30 days. CSL’s shares have gained 6.3% in the past three months. 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days Just released: Experts distill 7 elite stocks from the current list of 220 Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys. They deem these tickers "Most Likely for Early Price Pops." Since 1988, the full list has beaten the market more than 2X over with an average gain of +25.4% per year. So be sure to give these hand-picked 7 your immediate attention. See them now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report General Electric Company (GE): Free Stock Analysis Report Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL): Free Stock Analysis Report Franklin Electric Co., Inc. (FELE): Free Stock Analysis Report Griffon Corporation (GFF): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 17th, 2022

Malthusianism, Prometheanism, & The Hyper-Bitcoinized World To Come

Malthusianism, Prometheanism, & The Hyper-Bitcoinized World To Come Via Cathedra.com, 2021 Letter to Shareholders Dear Fellow Shareholders of Cathedra Bitcoin Inc: In 1798, a British economist was concerned that the incessant increase in population would cause humanity to run out of food. As a solution, he supported a variety of measures aimed at curbing the rate of population growth (e.g., taxes on food) to improve the living standards for those humans who did survive. The economist in question, Thomas Malthus, was raised in a country house in Surrey, was educated at Jesus College Cambridge, became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1818, and–in simple terms–championed policies designed to limit (or end) human life to prevent this population bomb. “Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague.” – Thomas Malthus, “An Essay on the Principle of Population” (1798) Looking back, we can see that such predictions have (fortunately) not come to fruition. The human population has grown ninefold since Malthus penned his infamous piece, “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” Meanwhile, technology has given humanity the ability to channel energy in ways unimaginable to Malthus, allowing us to enjoy levels of prosperity that make the elitist Malthus look like a serf in comparison. Yet we are not without our troubles. In response to COVID-19, the last two years have seen an unprecedented degree of government intervention around the world, through mandates as well as record-breaking fiscal and monetary stimulus. Meanwhile, food shortages have visited the developed and developing worlds alike. Housing, asset, and commodity prices are soaring, with even the dubious Consumer Price Index reaching its highest level in four decades in the U.S. And around the world, civil unrest is on the rise. We believe the root causes of these issues are quite simple: unsound money and unsound energy infrastructure. In this first annual letter to Cathedra Bitcoin shareholders, we examine the current state of both and discuss how they inform our vision for the future of the company. Macro Update: Energy The European Energy Crisis For the last six months, headlines have been filled with a “European Energy Crisis.” As the global economy surged back to life after 18 months of lockdowns, a perfect storm of events unfolded: over the summer, China increased natural gas imports following a coal shortage, causing power prices to rise in Europe; in September, a wind shortage beset northern Europe, resulting in enormous sums being paid to dispatch other (“dirtier”) forms of generation; reduced natural gas imports from Russia left Europe with historically low natural gas reserves; in December, unusually cold temperatures hit the continent, sending shockwaves through energy markets (even serving as a catalyst for the civil unrest in Kazakhstan); and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent weeks has sent oil and gas prices surging, bringing calls for increased domestic energy production. These events have conspired to cause a sharp increase in energy prices around the continent. One is tempted to point to any one of the above as a “black swan event” driven by unforeseeable forces beyond our control (in hindsight, it will be even more tempting to blame this crisis on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine). But in reality, Europe has been systematically dismantling its stable energy infrastructure for over a decade. And unfortunately, they are not alone. Take California, for example: over the last decade, the state has seen energy prices rise 7x more than those in the rest of the U.S., and blackouts have become “almost daily events.” If one looks deeper, a far subtler cause reveals itself: misguided policies that subsidize intermittent renewables and shutter stable forms of generation, the net effects of which are energy insecurity and higher energy costs. The Real “Energy Transition” Beginning in the early 2000s, governments around the world began reorienting energy policy around climate change. These “net-zero” policies push for an “energy transition” away from CO2-emitting energy sources toward 100% “renewable” energy, primarily via subsidies to intermittent wind and solar generation. On the surface, these policies seem to have worked. EU power generation from renewables has increased 157% in the last ten years. As a result, in 2020, renewable generation in Europe surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time, providing 38% of the region’s electricity (vs. fossil fuels’ 37%). And these policies are only accelerating: in July 2021, the EU announced its even more ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, requiring an estimated tripling of wind and solar generation from 547 TWh in 2020 to ~1,500 TWh in 2030. These pro-renewables policies have been paired with the abandonment of more stable forms of generation. Coal continues to be pushed out of the generation stack due to its heavy carbon footprint and the rising cost of carbon credits. Additionally, despite the seemingly obvious importance of nuclear energy in a “net-zero” carbon future, regulators have been shutting down nuclear reactors around the world in response to environmentalist movements[1] (a trend that accelerated in the wake of the Fukushima disaster). Germany alone shut down 16 GW of nuclear power since 2011, and plans to retire its last three nuclear power plants this year. With hydro being geography-dependent and long-term energy storage unsolved, natural gas is left as the main  viable form of dispatchable generation. Given self-imposed fracking bans, Europe has no choice but to import natural gas via LNG or pipelines (largely from Russia). Returning to California, we see the same dangerous combination of policies. Despite the aforementioned rising electricity costs and grid fragility, the state is decommissioning its last nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon–responsible for ~10% of the state’s electricity–while reasserting goals to achieve “net-zero” by 2045. Unfortunately, even if stable forms of generation are not discarded by mandates, renewables subsidies distort market signals. This auxiliary revenue stream of carbon or renewable energy credits allows wind and solar farms to sell power to the grid at negative prices, often driving unsubsidized, baseload generation out of business. The net result? The hollowing out of sound energy infrastructure, which increases both the costs and fragility of the energy system. In her book Shorting the Grid, Meredith Angwin warns of a “fatal trifecta” affecting grids around the world: (1) overreliance on renewables, (2) overreliance on natural gas, often used to load-follow renewables, and (3) overreliance on energy imports. When demand outpaces supply, either due to diminished output from renewables or heightened demand (e.g., during a cold snap), grid operators seek to dispatch additional generation. But natural gas and energy imports are both vulnerable to disruptions, as natural gas is typically delivered just-in-time via pipelines and neighboring regions are likely to experience correlated supply or demand shocks (read: weather). This results in more expensive energy (increased demand chasing limited supply) or enforced blackouts (e.g., Texas in February 2021). “Grid fragility” may sound like a highly abstract concept, but its real-world consequences are severe. It means industry halting, hospitals losing power, and even access to clean water being threatened. Such effects are so severe that energy-insecure countries tend to rely on more rudimentary forms of energy, including expensive backup diesel generators, to keep the lights on. Robert Bryce has termed this phenomenon the “Iron Law of Electricity”: people, businesses, and governments will do whatever they must to get the electricity they need[2]. We fear these confused policies are causing an energy transition of the wrong kind–one toward energy insecurity. Its effects are clear in the U.S., where “major electric disturbances and unusual occurrences” on the grid have increased 13x over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, Generac, a leading gas-powered backup generator company, saw 50% growth in sales in 2021 (it's worth highlighting the contradiction between the stated aims of these “net-zero” policies and their downstream effects). A Malthusian Approach to Energy Energy insecurity is also expensive. Dependence on intermittent renewables often results in paying top-dollar for energy when it’s needed most. During its September wind shortage, the UK paid GBP 4,000 per MWh to turn on a coal power plant–a clear demonstration that not all megawatt hours are created equal. The quality of energy matters. With renewables, humanity is once again at the mercy of the weather. This is the underlying logic of these “net-zero” policies: make energy more expensive so that we use less of it. In fact, economists advising the European Central Bank view rising energy costs (“greenflation”) as a feature, not a bug–a necessary consequence of the energy transition. Rising energy prices are a regressive tax on the least well-off in society. We all require energy to survive (heating/cooling, food, water, etc.), regardless of our wealth. These requirements are effectively a fixed cost; the lower one’s income, the greater the percentage of it one spends on energy. There is a point beyond which rising energy costs become unsustainable, sending people to the streets to fight for their survival–as we saw in Kazakhstan after the spike in LPG prices. Researchers estimate that each 1% increase in heating prices causes a 0.06% increase in winter-related deaths, with disproportionate effects in low-income areas. “If energy is life, then the lack of energy is death.” – Doomberg, “Shooting Oil in a Barrel” (2021) Energy is the key input for every other good and service in the economy, and over time accounts for all wealth in an economy. To the extent energy gets more expensive, so does everything else (including and especially food), making society poorer. This is the Malthusian approach to energy. Expensive “green” energy that the elites can afford, while the unwashed masses bear the brunt of those rising costs. Energy for me, but not for thee. We question the political and social sustainability of such an approach. Enter Entropy Energy’s role is even more fundamental to the economy and human well-being than most understand. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, what is commonly understood as “energy generation” is really just the conversion of energy into a more highly ordered form; it is the reduction of entropy locally by shedding even greater amounts of entropy elsewhere. Despite the universality of this entropy reduction, some energy resources are inherently lower-entropy than others (highly dense nuclear fission vs. low-density wind power). We depend on this entropy reduction to sustain us through the food and energy we need to maintain the order of civilization. This entropy reduction is cumulative; without sufficient entropy-reducing energy infrastructure, we cannot maintain our existing order. We cannot create entropy-reducing energy infrastructure without adequate pre-existing infrastructure. And we cannot advance further as a civilization (i.e., create more order) unless we develop even more entropy-reducing infrastructure. “We never escape from the need for energy. Whatever the short-term variations might look like, the trend over time is for greater energy use, to deliver and crucially to maintain and replace a human sphere that is progressively further away from thermodynamic equilibrium. There is no point at which you sit down and have a rest.” – John Constable, “Energy, Entropy and the Theory of Wealth” (2016) There is no free lunch when it comes to energy. If a country’s economy grows while reducing energy consumption, it is only through de-industrialization, exporting its energy footprint to other countries (the same often holds true for carbon emissions). The second law of thermodynamics is indeed a law, the best attested regularity in natural science, not a tentative suggestion: the entropy must go somewhere. Unfortunately, distortions caused by our current monetary system have convinced many otherwise, a deception that has had dire consequences. Macro Update: Money For the last 50 years the world has participated in an unprecedented experiment: a global fiat monetary standard. In 1974, a few years after “Tricky Dick” Nixon rug-pulled the other governments of the world by severing convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, the U.S. struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to cement the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency: the OPEC nations would agree to sell oil exclusively for U.S. dollars, and the Saudis would receive the protection of the U.S. military in return. This arrangement, which survives to this day, became known as the “Petrodollar system,” and it has had enduring economic, social, and political consequences: securing the dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world; bidding up U.S. asset prices via petrodollar “recycling;” displacing U.S. manufacturing capabilities and increasing economic inequality between American wage-earners and asset-owners; and contributing to the secular decline in interest rates, causing an accumulation of public- and private-sector debts and distortions in the pricing mechanism for all other assets (typically viewed in relation to the “risk-free rate” of interest on Treasuries). In recent years, cracks in the foundation of this system have begun to show. A half-century of irresponsible fiscal and monetary policy has pushed sovereign and private sector debt to the brink of unsustainability and fragilized financial markets. The once steady foreign demand for Treasuries is evaporating, forcing the Fed to begin monetizing U.S. deficits at an increasing rate. The U.S.’s share of global GDP is waning, and the role of the dollar in key trading relationships is diminishing. Even the once-mighty U.S. military—on whose supremacy the entire Petrodollar system was predicated—shows signs of degeneration. The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many of these trends. Through a series of legislative and executive actions in 2020 and 2021, Congress and the Trump and Biden administrations approved nearly $7 trillion of spending on COVID relief, a large majority of which increased the federal deficit. Not to be outdone, the Fed authorized its own emergency measures to the tune of $7 trillion. In the nearly two years since these extraordinary actions, the U.S. and the global economy has been defined by record-low interest rates (which is part of the explanation for the interest in subsidized renewables); acute supply chain disruptions (read: shortages) across critical markets; a continuation of the asset price inflation of prior decades; and the highest levels of consumer price inflation in 40 years. This last development—“not-so-transitory” CPI inflation—is perhaps most significant given it represents a departure from economic conditions since the Great Financial Crisis. The Fed now faces a predicament. With mounting cries from the public and political officials over the runaway CPI, the pressure is on Jay Powell & Co. to arrest inflation by raising interest rates. But the current state of public and private sector balance sheets complicates matters. As the Fed increases rates, so too does it increase the federal government’s borrowing cost, not to mention that of a private sector which is also saddled with dollar-denominated debt. If corporates are unable to service or refinance their debt, they will be forced to reduce costs, resulting in higher unemployment. Rest assured; rates aren’t going higher for long. Global balance sheets will not allow it. This suggests to us that we may be entering a period of financial repression, whereby inflation is allowed to run hot while interest rates remain pinned near zero, producing negative real returns and deleveraging balance sheets over several years. We also find it likely that the Fed will be forced to implement some version of a yield curve control program. Under such a policy, the central bank commits to purchasing as many bonds as necessary to cap the yields of various maturities of Treasuries at certain predetermined levels. There is precedent for a maneuver of this sort: the Fed implemented a version of the policy throughout the 1940s to inflate away the national debt during and after WWII. At the end of the long-term debt cycle, the only option is to inflate away the debt and debase the currency. But unlike in the 1940s, citizens, businesses, and governments now have several monetary alternatives available to them. We therefore believe the coming period of structural inflation will hasten a transition to a new monetary standard. The Currency Wars Cometh The writing is on the wall; the post-Bretton Woods monetary system is in its death throes. The question is not if we will see a paradigm shift away from the present dollar-based monetary order, but when. And the far more interesting question, in our view, is: what will replace it? We believe the next global monetary system will be built atop Bitcoin—with bitcoin the asset and Bitcoin the network working together to offer final settlement in a digitally native, fixed-supply reserve currency on politically neutral rails. Bitcoin uniquely enables this value proposition, and game theory and economic incentives will compel nation-states to take notice amid the collapsing monetary order. But it is not without competition. Central Bank Digital Currencies Bitcoin is the ideological and economic foil to another candidate for heir to the petrodollar: the central bank digital currency (“CBDC”). The retail CBDC—which is the variety most often discussed in policy circles—is a natively digital form of fiat money that is issued, managed, and controlled by the central bank. Their proponents claim CBDCs would enable many of the same benefits as cryptocurrencies—near-instant final settlement, programmability, high availability, etc.—without many of the attendant “disadvantages”—decentralization, untraceability, etc. CBDCs open up a whole new design space for monetary authorities, empowering them to implement creative and fine-grained policies which heretofore have been confined to masturbatory thought-experiments in BIS papers (e.g., negative interest rates). They would also allow for all manner of fiscal policies which today are operationally or technically infeasible; one can imagine government-imposed parameters around how and when a given sum of CBDC money is spent, digitally programmed into one’s Fed wallet. A universal basic income program could be effected with a single keystroke. In many ways, the CBDC is the perfect Malthusian implement. Their inherent programmability allows for granular, top-down rationing of resources for whatever “greater good” suits the politically powerful. “I’m sorry, sir. Your card has been declined, as you have already exceeded your weekly beef quota. Might we suggest a more environmentally friendly alternative, such as a Bill Gates pea protein patty?” Such a system amounts to highly efficient regulatory capture; citizens are only permitted to spend money on those goods and services favored by The Powers That Be (or the corporate interests that fund them). Expect CBDCs to further distort the pricing mechanism, leading to a variety of market failures (such as the current energy crises). Skeptics of such claims need only be reminded of the U.S. government’s recent history of abusing its power to restrict politically undesirable financial activities. It should come as no surprise that the CBDC model is being pioneered by the Chinese Communist Party in the form of a “digital renminbi.” Make no mistake—wherever a CBDC is implemented, it will be weaponized by the State for political ends. In the West, such a system would be readily abused to create a Chinese-style social credit system—but one cloaked in the neo-liberal parlance of “financial inclusion,” “climate justice,” and “anti-money laundering.” CBDCs: Coming to A Country Near You? We remain cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will forgo implementing this dystopian technology. The U.S. remains among the freest nations in the world, both politically and culturally. A CBDC is wholly incompatible with American values, and we expect millions of Americans would resist the complete usurpation of their financial lives by the State. Additionally, a retail CBDC implemented by the Fed would transfer power from the commercial banks whose interests the Fed was conceived to protect to the federal bureaucracy[3]. And is there any doubt that the U.S. now lacks the state capacity to implement a CBDC, a feat which would require a high degree of technical and operational competence? Figure 1: Which Way, Western Man? BTC vs. CBDC Bitcoin for America So, how can the U.S. extend its financial leadership of the 20th century amid the decaying Petrodollar system? The U.S. is already the frontrunner in nearly all things Bitcoin—trading volumes, mining activity, number of hodlers, entrepreneurial and business activity, capital markets activity, etc. We submit that the path of least resistance would be for America to lean into its leadership in the Bitcoin industry and embrace the technology as a privacy-respecting, open-source, free-market, and fundamentally American alternative to the totalitarian CBDC. What does “adopting Bitcoin” look like for a country like the U.S.? It is likely some combination of: (i) authorizing bitcoin as legal tender, (ii) removing onerous capital gains tax treatment, (iii) subsidizing or sponsoring mining operations (which could support domestic energy infrastructure, in turn), (iv) purchasing bitcoin as a reserve asset by the Fed and/or Treasury, or (v) making the dollar convertible into bitcoin at a fixed exchange rate. We see early signs that such a move by the U.S. may not be so far-fetched. Notably, major American policymakers have already signaled support for bitcoin as an important monetary asset and nascent industry. The “crypto” sector has grown into an important lobby in D.C. and represents a highly engaged, motivated constituency—politicians are taking notice. In our estimation, Bitcoin’s economic incentives and congruence with American values make it the leading candidate for U.S. adoption as a successor to the present monetary order. As the current dollar-based system continues to deteriorate, we are excited by the potential for a U.S.-led coalition of freedom loving nations moving to a Bitcoin Standard. Money, Energy, and Entropy Energy is the fundamental means to reduce entropy in the human sphere, and money is our tool for the direction of energy towards this end. We use money to communicate information about economic production, resolving uncertainty about how scarce resources ought to be employed. And we seek out highly ordered sources of energy to resist the influence of entropy on our bodies and societies. In his lecture, “Energy, Entropy and the Theory of Wealth,” John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation observes that all goods and services—and indeed, civilizations—are alike in that they are thermodynamically improbable. All require energy as an input and necessarily create order (i.e., reduce entropy) in the human domain, shifting the local state further away from thermodynamic equilibrium. So then, wealth can be understood as a thermodynamically improbable state made possible through human entropy reduction. If material wealth is measured by the goods and services one has at one’s disposal, then wealth creation on a sound monetary standard is the reduction of entropy for others, and one’s wealth is a record of one’s ability to reduce entropy for fellow man. Unsound money (of the sort the Malthusians celebrate) increases uncertainty—and therefore, entropy—in economic systems. Active management of the money supply confuses the price signal, reducing the information contained therein and erecting an economic Tower of Babel. Fiat money therefore contributes to malinvestment—entrepreneurial miscalculations which produce the wrong goods and services and increase societal entropy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our energy infrastructure: unsound money has caused malinvestment in unsound sources of generation. As noted above, a half-century of government subsidies and declining interest rates made possible by the Petrodollar system has steered capital towards unreliable renewables that invite greater entropy into the fragile human sphere, dragging us ever closer toward thermodynamic equilibrium (read: civilizational collapse). Cathedra Bitcoin Update Our macro views on energy and money inform everything we’re doing at Cathedra. Chief among them is the belief that sound money and cheap, abundant, highly ordered energy are the fundamental ingredients to human flourishing. Our company mission is to bring both to humanity, and so lead mankind into a new Renaissance—one led by Bitcoin and the energy revolution we believe it will galvanize. Accordingly, with Cathedra we’ve set out to build a category-defining company at the intersection of bitcoin mining and energy. One which is designed to thrive in the turbulent years of the present energy and monetary transition and in the hyperbitcoinized world we believe is to come. In December we announced a change of the company’s name from Fortress Technologies to Cathedra Bitcoin. Our new name reflects our aspirations for the company and for Bitcoin more broadly. The gothic cathedral is a symbol of bold, ambitious, long-term projects; indeed, any single contributor to the monument would likely die before its completion, but contributed nonetheless—because it was a project worth undertaking. So it is with Cathedra, and so it is with Bitcoin. The religious connotations of the name “Cathedra” are not lost on us. Rather, they’re an indication of the seriousness with which we regard this mission. Ours is a quest of civilizational importance. Our new name also hints at another distinguishing feature of our business: we focus our efforts on Bitcoin, and Bitcoin only. The difference between Bitcoin and other “crypto” networks is one of kind, not degree. Bitcoin is the only meaningfully decentralized network in the “crypto” space, which is why bitcoin the asset will continue to win adoption as the preferred form of digitally native money by the world’s eight billion inhabitants. Bitcoin seeks to destroy the institution of seigniorage once and for all. Your favorite shitcoin creator just wants to capture the seigniorage himself. We feel strongly that our long-term mission of delivering sound money and cheap, abundant energy to humanity can be best achieved through a vertically integrated model. In the long-term, Cathedra will develop and/or acquire a portfolio of energy generation assets that leverages the synergies between energy production and bitcoin mining to the advantage of both businesses. In a decade, Cathedra may be as much an energy company as a bitcoin miner. Vertical integration will allow us to control our supply chain and rate of expansion to a greater degree, in addition to giving us a cost advantage over our competitors. As a low-cost producer of bitcoin, we will also be positioned to deliver a suite of ancillary products and services to customers in the Bitcoin and energy sectors. And we’ve begun making strides toward this goal. Earlier this year, the Cathedra team expanded by three with the hires of Isaac Fithian (Chief Field Operations and Manufacturing Officer), Rete Browning (Chief Technology Officer), and Tom Masiero (Head of Business Development). Each of these gentlemen brings years of experience in developing and deploying mobile bitcoin mining infrastructure in off-grid environments. With this expanded team, we recently began production of proprietary modular datacenters to house the 5,100 bitcoin mining machines we have scheduled for delivery throughout 2022. We’re calling these datacenters “rovers,” a nod to their mobility, embedded automation, and capacity to operate under harsh environmental conditions in remote geographies. The modularity and modest footprint of our rovers will allow us to produce them at a rapid pace and deploy them wherever the cheapest power is found, in both on- and off-grid environments. We are proud to be manufacturing our fleet of rovers entirely in New Hampshire, working with the local business community to bring heavy industry back to the U.S. As bitcoin miners, we view ourselves as managers of a portfolio of hash rate. As in the traditional asset management business, diversification can be a powerful asset. Whereas most of the large, publicly traded bitcoin miners are pursuing a similar strategy to one another—developing and/or renting space at hyperscale, on-grid datacenters in which to operate their mining machines—we have optimized our approach to minimize regulatory, market, environmental, or other idiosyncratic risk within our portfolio of hash rate. If one has 90% of one’s hash rate portfolio concentrated in a single on-grid site, 90% of one’s revenue can be shut off by a grid failure or other catastrophic event—an occurrence which is sadly becoming more common, as highlighted in our Energy Update. To our knowledge, Cathedra is the only publicly traded bitcoin miner with both on- and off-grid operations today. We increasingly believe that the future of bitcoin mining is off-grid. On-grid deployments are already vulnerable to myriad unique risks today, and we believe their economic proposition will become less attractive over time. As power producers continue to integrate bitcoin mining at the site of generation themselves, large on-grid miners positioned “downstream” in the energy value chain will see their electricity rates rise. Today, “off-grid” describes any arrangement in which a bitcoin miner procures power directly from an energy producer. Popular implementations include stranded and flared natural gas and behind-the-meter hydro and nuclear. In the long-term, we believe the only way to remain competitive will be to vertically integrate down to the energy generation asset. Mining bitcoin is a capital-intensive business. To ensure we have access to the capital we’ll require to execute on our vision, we’ve embarked on several capital markets initiatives. In February, Cathedra commenced trading on the OTCQX Best Market under the symbol “CBTTF.” This milestone represents a significant upgrade from our prior listing on the OTC Pink Market and should enhance our stock’s accessibility and liquidity for U.S. investors. We intend to list on a U.S. stock exchange in 2022 to further increase the visibility, liquidity, and trading volume in our stock. We recently announced that Cathedra secured US$17m in debt financing from NYDIG, a loan secured by bitcoin mining equipment. When it comes to borrowing in fiat to finance assets that produce bitcoin—an asset which appreciates 150%+ per year on average—almost any cost of debt makes sense. We intend to continue using non-dilutive financing in a responsible manner where possible, with a sober appreciation for the risks debt service presents as an additional fixed cost. Accumulating a formidable war chest of bitcoin on our corporate balance sheet is a priority for us. If one believes, as we do, that the next global monetary order will be built with Bitcoin at its center, then those companies with the largest bitcoin treasuries will thrive. We will continue to hold as much of our mined bitcoin as possible and may even supplement our mining activities with opportunistic bitcoin purchases on occasion. At time of writing, Cathedra has 187 PH/s of hash rate active, and another 534 PH/s of hash rate contracted via purchases of mining machines we expect to be delivered from April through December of this year. Since we replaced the prior management team in September, we have grown Cathedra’s contracted hash rate by more than 300%. And we’re just getting started. Conclusion We stand today at a crossroads between two divergent movements defined by conflicting visions for the future: Malthusianism and Prometheanism. The Malthusians believe progress is zero (or even negative) sum; resources are finite and “degrowth” is the only viable path forward; we ought to judge human action first and foremost by whether it disturbs the natural world. This movement is characterized by totalitarian CBDCs and a desire to make energy more scarce and expensive, so that earth’s resources can be appropriately rationed. On the other hand, the Prometheans carry with them a more optimistic vision: progress is positive-sum; human creativity allows us to liberate and employ resources in novel ways, in turn preserving the natural world for our own benefit; and that human flourishing is the moral standard by which we should evaluate human action. These are social, cultural, and spiritual choices we are all called to confront. “The century will be fought between Malthusians (“resources are finite”; obsessed with overpopulation; scarcity mindset; zero-sum, finite games) and Prometheans (“human imagination is the most valuable natural resource”; abundance mindset; positive sum, infinite games).” – Alpha Barry (2020) The Malthusian camp wants top-down, centralized management of resources via CBDCs and energy rationing policies. They believe our energy resources are fixed; the only path forward is backward, farming for energy using huge swaths of land controlled by the privileged few. “Industrialization for me but not for thee.” “You’ll own nothing and be happy.” These are the slogans of the Malthusian movement. This is not the path that took us to space and lifted billions out of poverty. We, Cathedra, choose the other path. That of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to benefit humankind. We believe in a future of sound money that brings property rights to eight billion humans around the world. A world of beautiful, free cities powered by dense and highly ordered forms of energy generation. Small modular nuclear reactors with load-balancing bitcoin miners (and no seed oils). A future in which technology is employed to improve the human condition–not only for those who walk the earth today, but for generations to come. Bitcoin mining is a powerful ally to the Promethean cause. As the energy buyer of last resort, Bitcoin promotes sound money and sound energy infrastructure. No two forces are more fundamental to keeping disorder at bay and advancing human civilization. We at Cathedra are not alone; there are other Prometheans working tirelessly to further this vision of a freer, more prosperous tomorrow. Human flourishing is earned, not given. Together, we win. Drew Armstrong President & Chief Operating Officer AJ Scalia Chief Executive Officer Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 14th, 2022

These Are The 50 Minerals Critical To US Security

These Are The 50 Minerals Critical To US Security The U.S. aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 as part of its commitment to tackling climate change, but might be lacking the critical minerals needed to achieve its goals. The American green economy will rely on renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, along with the electrification of transportation. However, local production of the raw materials necessary to produce these technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles, is lacking. Understandably, this has raised concerns in Washington. In the graphic below, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti lists all of the minerals that the government has deemed critical to both the economic and national security of the United States. What are Critical Minerals? A critical mineral is defined as a non-fuel material considered vital for the economic well-being of the world’s major and emerging economies, whose supply may be at risk. This can be due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, trade policy, or other factors. In 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior released a list of 35 critical minerals. The new list, released in February 2022, contains 15 more commodities. Much of the increase in the new list is the result of splitting the rare earth elements and platinum group elements into individual entries rather than including them as “mineral groups.” In addition, the 2022 list of critical minerals adds nickel and zinc to the list while removing helium, potash, rhenium, and strontium. The challenge for the U.S. is that the local production of these raw materials is extremely limited. For instance, in 2021 there was only one operating nickel mine in the country, the Eagle mine in Michigan. The facility ships its concentrates abroad for refining and is scheduled to close in 2025. Likewise, the country only hosted one lithium mine, the Silver Peak Mine in Nevada. At the same time, most of the country’s supply of critical minerals depends on countries that have historically competed with America. China’s Dominance in Minerals Perhaps unsurprisingly, China is the single largest supply source of mineral commodities for the United States. Cesium, a critical metal used in a wide range of manufacturing, is one example. There are only three pegmatite mines in the world that can produce cesium, and all were controlled by Chinese companies in 2021. Furthermore, China refines nearly 90% of the world’s rare earths. Despite the name, these elements are abundant on the Earth’s crust and make up the majority of listed critical minerals. They are essential for a variety of products like EVs, advanced ceramics, computers, smartphones, wind turbines, monitors, and fiber optics. After China, the next largest source of mineral commodities to the United States has been Canada, which provided the United States with 16 different elements in 2021. The Rising Demand for Critical Minerals As the world’s clean energy transitions gather pace, demand for critical minerals is expected to grow quickly. According to the International Energy Association, the rise of low-carbon power generation is projected to triple mineral demand from this sector by 2040. The shift to a sustainable economy is important, and consequently, securing the critical minerals necessary for it is just as vital. Tyler Durden Thu, 03/10/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 11th, 2022

The True Cost Of The Green Energy Boom Is Now Being Realized

The True Cost Of The Green Energy Boom Is Now Being Realized Via AgMetalMiner, Renewable energy has taken center stage in the global fight against climate change. The energy crisis in Europe has highlighted some of the challenges the world is facing in the global energy transition. It is becoming increasingly clear that fossil fuels will remain a key part of the energy mix for years to come.  In 2018, a pair of us on the MetalMiner team attended the “premier aluminum conference in Europe” — Aluminum 2018 Dusseldorf. Although Dusseldorf felt like a charming Ohio blue collar town with good beer, one of us left the event with a deep cough (obviously pre-Covid). Oddly enough, the weather alert app kept displaying daily ozone levels in the “high” or “extremely high” range. As a puzzled American, one of us appeared confused and the other, thankfully knowledgeable. The cough comes down to the type of energy now used in Germany, coal. MetalMiner’s European colleague quickly explained that after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany implemented a plan to shut down its entire nuclear operations no later than 2022.   In hindsight, that decision by Germany appears both foolish and ironic. Foolish because Germany has lost its negotiating power (pun intended) with Russia for which it relies.  It’s ironic because the country already had “clean energy” but now must turn back to dirty energy to avoid blackouts. In the meantime, while the world watches the Russian invasion and also the impact of sanctions, (we’ll venture a guess that they will have minimal impact), the MetalMiner analyst team discussed Europe’s energy situation and the impact on various metals markets. On stability of the electric power grid in Europe Have you ever stood in a field and felt a constant breeze for hours with no interruption at all? Well, we haven’t either. However, if you think wind comes and goes how about relationships with other countries like Russia?  Perhaps one can conclude that renewables serve best as supplemental energy sources, certainly not primary sources. When Texas needed to fly helicopters with jet fuel derived from oil to thaw out windmills, clearly the grid did not perform as planned. This begs the question: will the move to green energy continue and will it pull up metals prices needed to support green energy initiatives? If the trend does not continue, one might expect a sharp reversal for several metals.  Evidence that the US power grid has weakened Home and commercial generator manufacturer Generac has seen a big uptick in home generator sales according to this recent article. Heck, even one of our analysts recently purchased a natural gas generator from Generac to shore up a weaker local power grid. And CEO Aaron Jagdfeld confirmed rising sales in Russia and Ukraine by stating, “we’re seeing interest in Russia and Ukraine which arguably might be related to some of the security concerns short term.”   To us, this represents a sure sign that people know the grid appears unsustainable. The green narrative centers around climate change as the root cause of more severe weather but the other factor relates to the unreliability of green energy and power companies have failed to make the investments in backup energy sources needed to support wind and solar. Green energy goes down far more often than either nuclear or coal plants. From an alternative investment standpoint, the lack of energy independence, the lack of sunshine or wind at times will help spur other energy spin-off companies such as generator companies (by the way the home generator lead time for this editor stands at 5 months). Another spin-off will include diesel vehicles produced with mobile generators to charge cars after they run out of charges on highways.  Energy independence equals negotiation leverage Does energy independence create autonomy? Germany and the rest of Europe may have the opportunity to discover that answer now. Energy of course drives the overall economy literally fuels productivity. In supplier negotiations, the easiest way to control the process involves gaining leverage. And thus the easiest way a country can gain leverage involves the control of its energy. We now see this throughout Europe and to a lesser extent, the United States right now. The US placed sanctions on Russia but failed to address the oil they sell us. In this respect, the US has lost negotiation leverage. By ceding our own energy autonomy, the US becomes beholden to despots like Putin. Moreover, Russia can choose both to cripple the US as well as the timing.  Oil prices, commodity markets and underlying metal prices Oil prices have no immediate cap. Prior to the invasion, rising demand already provided price support. By shutting down American production, the US gave up its control over the oil price. As a net exporter of oil, the US also supplied the world market. Thus the US had a role with both supply and demand. Second, any time oil prices surged, the US could enter the market with more supply and thus help control prices. Moreover, as the only non-OPEC producer, the US had some control over global oil prices.  Although oil prices make up some 30% of the CRB index, a rising oil price might not carry over to industrial metals. Nor does it apply to the price of individual exchange-traded metals (e.g. aluminum, copper, nickel etc). The one-two combination of rising oil prices combined with steep inflation will likely depress demand for goods and services. Ordinarily, a rising oil price tends to signal rising demand and often, a healthy economy. Today, just the opposite may occur. A page from 2008 – 2016 Perhaps part of the strategy involves driving up oil prices, to help hasten the switch to green energy and technologies. And in time, perhaps that transition will occur. In the meantime, most of those technologies do not generate a strong ROI — either for the consumer or for businesses. And with a Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps it’s time for a rethink. Tyler Durden Sat, 02/26/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 26th, 2022