Energy

Highways to Hell. Railways to Ruin

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Zero Hedge has an interesting expose on a report that China is expediting the construction of a 6 lane highway toward North Korea’s border. It makes perfect sense and supports what CM has said about China taking action on North Korea and replacing Kim Jong Un with a puppet they can control. Forget the WW3 rhetoric. It is far cleaner to have China deal with the problem. The constant jaw-boning from Trump is to get China to hurry up. Of course there is a limit to the patience. The so-called G1112 Ji’an–Shuangliao Expressway is under construction. China’s Jilin province has even upgraded road infrastructure inside some parts of North Korea. It would be useful in getting tanks and troops to the border quickly. There is method in the madness and it is quite a common infrastructure to put in place for obvious reasons. North Korea is hugely strategic to China’s border security – a buffer from the US backed South Koreans.

Probably many are unaware that Mongolia which divides China and Russia has a railway developed by the Russians which runs on a Russian rail gauge. Mongolia is rich with resources so any raw materials exported to China must change bogeys at the border. It is the same with the Kazakh-China border. Russian rail gauges. So in the event of war, troops and supplies can be efficiently transported. Sure an enemy can bomb a railway but in terms of transporting lots of equipment and heavy armaments quickly rail is very efficient.

While the news looks startling it is nothing more than business as usual for the Chinese. Before the highway is completed the Chinese still have around 150,000 troops stationed near the border.

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

Will Greenpeace Be arrested and charged with trespassing?

Greenpeace has disrupted a business which is already paying billions in fines. If only Greenpeace had the first clue about diesel emissions and the reality of the CO2 footprint of EVs at the production stage and charging.

Bureau of Meteorology also in on the junk(et) climate science

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Below is a piece from The Australian today on the woeful behaviour at the Bureau of Meteorology. The work of yet another one of these venerable institutions (e.g. NASA, NOAA) which we are told to respect without question. Turns out that last year the BoM spent $7.8mn on travel expenses or just shy of $5,000 per head. No doubt flying on taxpayer coin to exotic locations to fight the cause of global warming. As written yesterday a whistleblower at NASA claimed that climate change junkets are more important than the science. Why wouldn’t you fly around the world promoting baseless fear in order to keep your frequent flyer miles up?

Maurice Newman writes,

“Enough is enough. The Bureau of Meteorology yet again stands charged with fabricating temperature records.

This time, thanks to the diligence of scientist Jennifer Marohasy, the bureau has been caught red-handed regulating temperatures to keep them above a predetermined minimum — at least for two NSW automatic weather stations, one located in Goulburn, the other at Thredbo.

The BOM initially admitted it had set an arbitrary limit of minus 10C for the Goulburn station, but then changed the story to the equipment being “not fit for purpose” — because it got too cold — even though the same instruments are used in the Antarctic. The actual temperature measured was a record July low for Goulburn, at minus 10.4C, so why, if the equipment was faulty, didn’t the bureau leave a blank instead of rounding up to minus 10C?

Allowing the bureau to defend itself, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg called for an internal review.

In 77 pages, it acknowledged that, indeed, Goulburn and Thredbo were governed and, minimum limits were set. This was blamed on a filter being installed into these weather stations 15 and 10 years ago respectively. No limits were imposed on maximum temperatures. Yet implicitly, we are asked to believe that the historical temperature record has not been compromised.

Before filters were installed, Goulburn recorded minus 10.9C in August 1994 and, in that cold winter, Thredbo went down to minus 13.6C and nearby Charlotte Pass to minus 23C on June 29, a record low for Australia. Charlotte Pass weather station was decommissioned in March 2015.

Ironically, the bureau’s newest location, near White Cliffs in NSW, home to some of the nation’s hottest temperatures, last August recorded minus 62.5C, due to a “hardware fault”.

A BOM-friendly technical forum, part of former minister Greg Hunt’s plan to buy time and “kill off” a proposed Abbott government probe, has foreshadowed “the need for a major revision of the dataset”.

Predictably, though, it did not address specific claims by Marohasy and others, and seems satisfied the bureau’s dataset is well maintained. Really? This may fool ministers, but for a sceptical public, time has run out.

British author and journalist Christopher Booker says: “When future generations look back on the global warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records — on which the entire (global warming) panic ultimately rested — were systematically ‘adjusted’ to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified.” He says this practice has been observed by experts around the world and “raises an ever larger question mark over the entire official surface temperature record”.

He is joined by John Theon, retired chief of NASA’s Climate Processes Research Program and responsible for all weather and climate research, who testified before congress that “some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it.”

Take the article NASA published in 1999 showing 1934 was the US’s warmest year. Across the ensuing decade, by cooling the past and warming the present, 1998 jumped five places to become the warmest. Whistleblower John Bates, recently retired principal scientist at US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, described how his agency manipulated data to manufacture a non-existent increase in global temperatures.

Why should Australia be any different? We remember the Climategate emails from despairing programmer Ian Harris: “Getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data, so many new stations have been introduced, so many false references”.

Science writer and blogger Joanne Nova has raised scandal after scandal concerning the BOM’s record-keeping.

She refers to historic data being destroyed, and the influence of adjustments on Australia’s warming trend. She reports private auditors advising the bureau of almost a “thousand days where minimum temperatures were higher than the maxes”.

Taxpayers outlaying $1 million a day for reliable temperature data deserve better than this.

When Australia’s bureau transitioned from mercury thermometers to electronic sensors more than 20 years ago, to ensure readings from these devices were comparable with the old thermometers and complied with World Meteorological Organisation guidelines, parallel studies were undertaken at multiple sites.

A key conclusion was that readings from the new electronic sensors needed to be averaged over one to 10 minutes. However, rather than implement practices consistent with their finding, the bureau records one-second extremes (or noise), which can be announced as new record highs.

Inherent inconsistency aside, this calls into question whether Australian data is WMO compliant. Marohasy discovered this as part of her investigation and believes it is more damning than even the imposition of minimum limits, as it affects the recording of temperatures from all 695 automatic stations.

Marohasy is a respected scientist, known for her forensic work. While attempts will be made to dismiss her evidence as an arcane academic skirmish over recording methodology, it is a smoking gun that threatens the integrity of global temperature records.

It affects every Australian. It strikes at the heart of renewable energy policies. Globally, trillions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.

The government has a duty to inform the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, should it have sufficient grounds, that the bureau is not complying with WMO guidelines. Sooner or later, closed eyes must open.

Now, with Marohasy’s evidence adding to the credible findings of other experts, there can be no confidence in any future official assurances. Further delay of a proper independent audit, which includes dissidents, can be interpreted only as a cover-up. One way or another, the truth will out.

Blowing the whistle on NASA over climate data

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Jo Nova has an excellent piece exposing the scams inside NASA with regards to their climate models and allegations of misappropriated taxpayer funds. She notes whistleblower Dr Duane Thresher who worked seven years at NASA GISS “describes a culture of self serving rent-seekers, mismanagement and incompetence. These are the top experts in the climate science field that we are supposed to accept without questioning. Those who say they are working to “save the planet” care more about their junckets than they do about the data or their “best” model…NASA GISS’s most advanced climate model is run from the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Thresher recounts a story from someone on the inside:“NASA GISS’s climate model — named Model E, an intentional play on the word “muddle” — is called the “jungle” because it is so badly coded.” I know this to be true from my own extensive experience programming it (I tried to fix as much as I could…)…”

Of course I can hear the alarmists cry  that Thresher is a ‘discredited’ scientist as they do for anyone who disagrees,. Much in the spirit of the Harvard piece I put out last week, venerable organizations like NASA (which has put humans into space) carry almost untouchable status. This is the problem. Do we just suck up aything we are told by these organizations or do we need to add an extra layer of skepticism because of the ‘reputation’?

It is truly hard to imagine that the brain’s trust that makes up an organization that can launch rockets and space shuttles can be guilty of such sloppiness. Such whistleblowing will  lead to a congressional testimony which will bring many things to light. It wasn’t long ago that NOAA was subpoenaed after a whistleblower said the group had rushed a report ahead of the Paris climate summit with obviously fiddled data that fit a narrative. NOAA refused to hand over the emails for months on the grounds of privacy  when the head of House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith explained the reality that they worked for the government and had no choice.

Smith noted, “According to Dr. John Bates, the recently retired principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the Karl study was used “to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy…I thank Dr. John Bates for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion. In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference. Since then, the Committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegations, but was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials. I repeatedly asked, ‘What does NOAA have to hide?’

Once again whenever people try to use the ‘credibility’ argument to sway debate, there is a treasure trove of evidence to show in this case that it is politics not science. With billions if not trillions at stake, such fraud has not resulted in any of these climate scientists being fined, deregistered or jailed for the very things that have happened to people in the financial sector. What is the difference I wonder? Maybe because the government has been in on the act…

Even Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has been recently exposed for divisive behaviour in temperature measurement. Putting hard floors on cold temperatures with no such restrictions on warm weather. We’re supposed to trust these bodies? More on that tomorrow.

Well as the old adage goes, “there are lies, more lies and then there are statistics”

100% EVs from 2040? Don’t bet on it

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PDF REPORT HERE

It might look fashionable but don’t fall for all EV cars from 2040

It isn’t a big surprise to see national governments virtue signal over climate abatement. The UK swiftly followed French plans to ban the sale of petrol/diesel cars from 2040. However, let’s get real. Government proactivity on climate change may appear serious but the activities of the auto industry are generally a far better indicator of their lobby power. As a car analyst at the turn of the century, how the excitement of alternatives to internal combustion engines was all the rage. Completely pie in the sky assumptions about adoption rates. In 1999 industry experts said that by 2010 electric vehicles (EV) would be 10% of all units sold. Scroll forward to 2017 and they are near as makes no difference 1% of total vehicle sales.

Volkswagen makes an interesting case study. After being caught red handed cheating diesel emissions regulations (a perfect example of how little VW must believe in man-made global warming) they were in full compliance at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show telling the world of their $80bn investment in EVs out to 2030, 300 new EV models comprising 3 million units in 25 years of which 1.5mn would be sold in China.  3 million cars would be c.30% of VW’s total output today.

We cannot ignore the huge tax revenues governments generate from fuel excise. Fuel duties in the UK are expected to fetch around £35bn in 2017 or c.5% of total tax receipts. In Germany that number is around €40bn, the third largest intake after income tax and GST.

On top of this, massive electric infrastructure will be required in many countries. Not just installing more charging points but meeting higher electricity demand with new power generation to replace aging infrastructure and the push by many governments to install unreliable renewable energy. Governments relying on other countries for back-up power is fraught with risk. Yet it seems countries like the UK aren’t properly prepared to meet the excess demand they are trying to force on the hand of consumers by loading a grid they can’t sensibly ensure can be charged. Battery technology will improve but whether commerciality can be achieved is another question.

We should also think of how EVs, which are being pushed as the backbone of self-driven cars, affect the insurance industry and the auto makers. After-all if a driver puts his/her car into auto-pilot and the safety systems fail to avoid an accident which results in death/injury either of the driver, passenger or pedestrian is the auto maker at fault? This will require legislation to define responsibility. This will also need to be extended to the potential of ‘hacking’ autonomous cars where willful remote action could lead to deaths. Emergency service providers have made it clear that traditionally powered vehicles to function properly.

Cars need to meet customer utility not just be electric for EV’s sake

What governments must also consider with car purchases is utility. Why is it that SUVs remain one of the most popular vehicle classes around? In the US, SUV sales have surged from 16.4% in 1980 to around 36% today. Could it be that the man who likes to sail needs a V8 Toyota Land Cruiser to haul his 7000lb boat. While he might like a Tesla Model S with 22” rims it can’t manage even half of the Toyota’s towing capacity. Could it be that a mother with 3 kids who often takes her parents on trips to the beach needs a minivan? Have they considered the single bachelor who wants a BMW sports car? Or the DINKs couple who want a Range Rover because they love to ski in the winter. In niche sectors, it may not be profitable for car companies to fill those segments with EVs.

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Source:   www.afdc.energy.gov/data/

 Has the auto industry been properly consulted?

Have the UK & French governments consulted the auto industry? It wouldn’t seem so. Having a zero emissions target is one thing. Why not tell auto makers they need to get to zero emissions but give them complete technological freedom to hit those targets. If the auto makers see necessity as the mother of invention, who are regulators to dictate the technology? If an internal combustion engine can achieve zero emissions does that not meet the goal? There is a very important reason for this.

Talk to an automaker in private and they will admit they are against full EV because it ruins the most fundamental part of their DNA – the drivetrain. When you read all the blurb on automakers’ brochures what is the one area they can milk consumers? Power and performance. Mercedes can sell you a base model C180 for a little bit of profit and absolutely gouge out your eyeballs for the top-end high performance C63 which will vaporize your wallet with the options list. Auto makers don’t want to go full EV for this very reason. EVs will turn cars into the equivalent of an iPhone vs. a Samsung Galaxy. Brand and style with very little differentiation outside of packaging.

A 2014 study conducted by Penton Research produced this telling chart about how they aim to meet government fuel efficiency regulations by 2025.

Fig.2: What have automakers in the US been focusing on to improve economy

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As Fig.2 shows, automakers want to lighten materials to boost economy. Electrifying the vehicle ranked third. This also included hybrids. As this was an American survey it isn’t surprising to see the low weight of diesels as a solution.

Companies such as Daikyo Nishikawa (4246) have seen strong growth driven by the shift toward plastic panels which are lighter and cheaper to produce. The Mazda Roadster is full of supplier’s plastic panels for cost effective weight reduction. Daikyo Nishikawa has also managed to cut out the painting process by a technology that allows the paint to be impregnated into the plastic panel with finish quality properties as good if not superior to steel

Fuel economy – which vehicle is burning?

Scroll toward to fuel economy. The Federal Highway Administration looked at average annual fuel consumption. Taking a simple sum of Class 8 trucks, annual sales which comprise around 1.5% of passenger cars, they consume 42% the amount of equivalent fuel. While US haulage distances are larger than those in the EU, the relative gaps to passenger cars is similar. Put simply trucks relative impact is 27x higher than automobiles.

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Source:   http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/

Sensible EV subsidies?

Take California’s new $3bn plan to support EV sales – effectively a deeply Democrat state fritting away tax dollars to subsidize the wealthy. The poor chap who has to drive a 20-yo petrol pick-up truck because he can’t afford a new one is probably paying taxes to subsidize the guy who pays him to mow his lawn to buy that Tesla. It is a serious question.

Have governments considered that consumers are already clearly showing their belief in ‘climate change abatement’ by the cars they buy? When the subsidies were torn from Tesla in HK, sales went to zero while in Danish Tesla registrations fell 94%. Isn’t that evidence enough of how these vehicles are only tax avoidance devices, not the action of deep seated ecologists?

A reminder of the risks of green subsidies in other sectors

So before running for madder green schemes to save the planet perhaps governments should remind themselves of past failures. Moreover, when governments get heavily involved in subsidizing industries it generally results in disaster by creating massive oversupply like we saw in solar and wind industries. Spain perhaps provides the strongest evidence of this. Around 2004 it wanted to get 1GW of solar under its feed in tariff over 4 years. Instead it got 4GW in 1 year meaning its budget exploded 16x and it had €120bn in tax liabilities over the course of the promise. In the end, the government reneged. So much for the assurance of government run programs.

Germany’s failure in bio-fuel legislation last decade

The German authorities went big for bio-fuels in 2008 forcing gas stands to install E-10 pumps to cut CO2. However as many as 3 million cars at the time weren’t equipped to run on it and as a result consumers abandoned it leaving many gas stands with shortages of the petrol and gluts of E-10 which left the petrol companies liable to huge fines (around $630mn) for not hitting government targets.

Claude Termes, a member of European Parliament from the Green Party in Luxembourg said in 2008 that “legally mandated biofuels were a dead end…the sooner It disappears, the better…my preference is zero…policymakers cannot close their eyes in front of the facts. The European Parliament is increasingly skeptical of biofuels.” Even ADAC told German drivers to avoid using E10 when traveling in other parts of continental Europe.

The 2017 Frankfurt (Virtue Signaling) Motor Show

The Frankfurt Motor Show this year was used to introduce a truckload of EVs across all brands to show automakers had caught the enviro bug.

Fig.4: Frankfurt Motor Show 2017 – roll out the EVs

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As mentioned earlier, VW said it aims to be 30% EV by 2042. That is undoubtedly a realistic goal when assessing production cost, development, infrastructure roll out and ultimately consumer demand. While the UK and France may have drawn a line in the sand, reality is that Westminster and Paris are at the mercy of the manufacturers and the supply chain to meet the ambitious target.

Our contention is that these targets get peeled back and pushed out. We have seen many delays in the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NHTSA began the development of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in 2007.

The standard for passenger cars had stayed at 27.5 mpg from 1990 until 2007. In 2009, the government set a fuel economy standard of 34.1 mpg for cars and light trucks by 2016. In 2012, it set a new target of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Trump is looking to push out the April 2018 deadline to hit 49.7mpg and the 2025 potentially out to 2030.

A study commissioned by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers estimates the cost of compliance to EPA regulations is around $1,249 per vehicle.

Below we see the evolution of power trains in the US market in the last decade by number of new model introductions. Note that the EV slice includes the Plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEV). Hybrid shares have grown while petrol and diesel have shrunk relative.

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Source:   http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/

The dangers of autonomous driving

So much faith is put in the hands of computers nowadays but the idea of driverless cars is still fraught with danger.  Car & Driver reported;

Researchers at the University of Washington have shown they can get computer vision systems to misidentify road signs using nothing more than stickers made on a home printer. UW computer-security researcher Yoshi Kohno described an attack algorithm that uses printed images stuck on road signs. These images confuse the cameras on which most self-driving vehicles rely. In one example, explained in a document uploaded to the open-source scientific-paper site arXiv last week, small stickers attached to a standard stop sign…using an attack disguised as graffiti, researchers were able to get computer vision systems to misclassify stop signs at a 73.3 percent rate, causing them to be interpreted as Speed Limit 45 signs.”

One step beyond tricking on-board systems as aforementioned, a full hack of a car has far more risky implications. NHTSA launched an investigation when Chrysler cars could be manipulated to hijack the brakes and accelerator. It took five years for Chrysler to fix the full takeover hack and required a 1.4 million vehicle recall.

Which then begs the question of ultimate liability for insurance companies.

Fig. 7: tricking the driverless detection systems

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Source:  University of Washington

Insurance payouts versus auto maker negligence

It is not too hard to envisage the scenario where a sophisticated hack of an autonomously driven vehicle causes death or injury. We do not have to look back far to the Bridgestone/ Firestone-Ford Explorer tyre blow-out scandal which ended up in the deaths of over 200 people. Besides the negative brand image associated with the recall and investigation it is quite possible to see insurance companies refuse accident payouts due to the flaws in the auto-pilot systems.

Car companies could end up being on the hook for billions if these vehicles are compromised. While the software in the cars can always improve there is no reason to suggest the hackers get more creative and sophisticated.

Big Brother

While one might think autonomous vehicles are the future, consider the privacy implications. Your car will be remotely controlled. Your data of where you travel, when you travel and what you do will become available.

Do people wish to have such tracking in their lives? Were such data hacked, thieves could use the data to work out when you were out of the house, where you shop, bank and where your kids go to school. Think of how many post to social media where they are going on holiday and what not. Many are already loose with public information to then have applications and systems that monitor your every move.

Even if it sounds like conspiracy theory, this is something few have considered.

Emergency Services are not convinced by EV

What about emergency services vehicles? Have these governments considered the impact of having reliable heat exchangers (from combustion engines) to power lifesaving equipment in ambulances? It is easy to believe politicians have had no such discussions with the people that are most affected. An Australian paramedic made the issue clear,

We have Webasto heaters in our cars in the colder areas. Running off the diesel they can operate 24/7 if needed. If we don’t have them some of our equipment doesn’t work like our tympanic thermometers, the blood glucose reader and then there is the problem of having cold fluids in the car. This is a problem if we are giving these IV because we can make a patient hypothermic if it’s cold. Then there’s just the general environment inside the cab. It needs to be warm in winter.”

What about LCVs? Will light commercial vehicles be exempt? Just watch the auto makers classify their SUVs as LCVs and dodge the rules. The Hummer is a perfect example of this. It was so heavy that it managed to be excluded from the passenger vehicle qualifications on fuel economy. So auto makers did not need to include it in their CAFÉ calculations.

Why is government forcing adoption of EVs?

It stands to reason that to question those with the least idea on the technology being the ones trying to dictate the future. The zero emissions appeal of EVs is an effective virtue signaling device to voters. However if we look at Euro emissions regulations introduced since 1993, one can see the progress made in the last 20 years. Euro 6 started in 2015. For diesel particulate matter, emissions are 97% down on Euro 1 (1993) and NOx down by 95% over the same period, Fig.8.

Fig.8: Diesel emissions cut – Euro 1~6 – 97% lower in 20 years

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Source: Delphi

By sheer virtue of the scale of emissions reduction in 20 years for internal combustion engines, why not charge the auto makers to hit a zero emissions target by 2040 in any form they choose provided it is met. All auto makers should be given the power to go full electric of their own volition. Why not allow the spirit of innovation to come to the fore and allow auto makers to defend their brands in ways where they take the risk?

In 1999 I had the same discussion with Beru AG (now Borg Warner), a German diesel glow plug maker. The CEO said that in 20 years the ability to cut emissions by almost 100% would be achievable. Indeed he was correct.

Taking into account life cycle costs of EVs

Unfortunately depending on what a country’s actual electricity generation mix is the charging of EVs can have a larger impact on total emissions.

The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute was commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency to investigate lithium-ion batteries climate impact from a life cycle perspective.

The report showed that battery manufacturing leads to high emissions. For every kilowatt hour of storage capacity in the battery generated emissions of 150 to 200 kilos of carbon dioxide already in the factory. Regular EV batteries with 25–30 kWh of capacity will result in 5 metric tonnes CO2, which is equivalent to 50,000 km driving in a regular, fuel-efficient diesel vehicle

Another study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) showed that depending on the power generation mix, an all EV Nissan Leaf in the US or China was no better than a 2012 Prius. Countries with higher relative nuclear power generation unsurprisingly had lower CO2 emissions outcomes for EVs. By deduction countries with higher shares of coal or gas fired power negated much of the ‘saving’ of an EV relative to gasoline power.

Fig.9: Electricity generation mix impacts on CO2 saving with EVs

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Source: ICCT

Electricity Prices & Infrastructure

This is a sticky point. When the UK announced it was following France in the zero gasoline/diesel directive by 2040, the concern of being able to power up to millions of EVs (from the 90,000-odd now) and the impact on the grid rose to the surface.

Some industry pundits have argued the UK will need a range of technologies to manage the projected jump in power consumption by 15% in overall demand and spikes of up to 40% at peak periods. Renewable energy sources (including wind, wave, marine, hydro, biomass and solar) made up 25% of electricity generated in 2015. The UK aims to generate 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 in line with EU guidelines.

Britain is staring at the prospect of capacity issues in the early 2020s as old nuclear reactors are decommissioned and remaining coal-fired plants are phased out by 2025. Hinckley Point C will add around 3.2GWh to the grid. Up to 50 terrawatt hours (TWh) could be needed to charge all the EVs expected by 2040. While some argue that charging EVs overnight alleviates much of this fear the reality is most people charge their iPhones when they need it with little or no thought to others. If you wish to charge your EV and the grid is at risk of collapsing, how will the government regulate this? Will they mandate rationing? Enforce peak power pricing?

The UK electricity network is currently connected to systems in France, the Netherlands and Ireland through cables called interconnectors. The UK uses these to import or export electricity when it is most economical. In 2015, the UK was a net importer from France and the Netherlands with net imports of 13.8 TWh and 8.0 TWh respectively which accounted for 5.8 per cent of electricity supplied in 2015. Total net exports to Ireland amounted to 0.9 TWh.

The growing problem with the push for renewables as a larger part of the mix is the paradox of loading more power consuming elements onto the grid (i.e. EVs) and looking to accommodate it with systems that have a proven inability to provide reliable baseload power. South Australia is a perfect example of this.

By pursuing a 40% renewables energy policy South Australia has suffered multiple blackouts. It has relied on the neighbouring state of Victoria to provide backup baseload power from its Hazelwood coal fired plant. However Victoria has now closed Hazelwood meaning South Australia will be forced to spend around $600mn to install new gas-fired capacity to offset the gap in supply capacity and demand. It will also add a $100mn battery plant to provide the state with 90 seconds of back-up power in the event of a blackout.

South Australia has the world’s most expensive electricity prices, the highest unemployment rate in the country and the slowest growth. The irony is that while the gas generation is being built, diesel generators burning 80,000 litres of diesel per hour will provide the backstop until its operational. Fig.10 shows the sharp rise in Australian electricity prices as more renewables have been added to the grid

Fig,10: Progression and forecast of residential Australian electricity prices

20408.pngSource: Jacobs International

At some point governments will be forced to realise that in order to guarantee a pledge of 100% EV sales from 2040 it will require very sound policy on the generation front to combat the risk of power shortages. Relying on other countries to provide alternative power could prove a fatal flaw in the 2040 deadline. The construction of new energy capacity is never an overnight affair. The location, the energy source, the local neighbours, the size of the output and the people and materials to construct it all play a part. From start to finish, a decade is not an unreasonable time frame yet if countries like France are relied upon to import electricity any policy change on their side can have very damaging side effects.

In short we have governments deliberately loading a grid at the same time it is making it far less reliable. This will have to play a part in a 2040 solution. In any event electricity prices are likely to rise putting further stress on households.

Fig.11: Progression of household UK electricity GBp/KWh (2004-2015)

20409Source: OVO Energy

In the last ten years the real price of electricity in the UK has risen by 63%, This is before EVs enter the electricity grid in earnest.

In any event rising electricity prices drives down the relative economic rationale for EV ownership.

Battery Technology Advances

Of course we cannot rule out advancements in battery technology which by deduction will offset any prices hikes in electricity by greater range. There is high anticipation for Toyota’s solid state battery technology which in theory will speed charges, improve the performance of the per cell power stack and reduce materials. Such advancements would also weigh on the aforementioned electricity grid considerations but the question will still come down to commerciality, the ability to access raw materials and gear the supply chain to meet such demand.

Charging Infrastructure

The roll out of fast chargers is growing. Where to install these ‘charge stands’? Traditional petrol stations will be marginalised to serve a larger proportion of commercial vehicles. That could mean that local gas stands go out of business or require a major overhaul in operations. If charging times take 20-30 minutes, cycle time will be poor.

It should not surprise that the faster the charge time the more expensive the initial outlay costs. The latest high end fast EV chargers can cost over $250,000 per unit.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) EV charging outlets surpassed 2 million in 2016.  Electric cars still outnumber public charging stations by more than six to one, indicating that most drivers rely primarily on private charging stations.

Fig.12: Global EVSE outlets, 2010-16

204010.pngSource: IEA

The IEA stated in its 2017 report that,

“The growth of publicly accessible chargers accompanies the increase in the number of electric cars on the road: the growth rate in the number of publicly accessible chargers in 2016 (72%) was higher, but of similar magnitude, to that of the electric car stock growth in the same year (60%). The higher rate of growth for chargers than electric cars is consistent with the need to deploy chargers as a prerequisite for EV adoption and the nascent nature of most of the electric car markets.…Publicly accessible EVSE growth was primarily driven by the rapid increase in the number of fast chargers, largely attributable to China, where fast chargers grew sevenfold to nearly 90 thousand units.31 Even when China is not considered, the growth rate for publicly accessible fast chargers in 2016 was still greater than publicly available slow chargers…”

Fig.12: EV stock & publicly available EVSE outlets, by country and type of charger, 2016

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Source: IEA

By 2020 China aims to deploy 4.3 million private EV charging outlets, 500,000 public chargers for cars and 850 intercity quick-charge stations, among other targets. The EU Directive on the Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (EC, 2014) required EU member countries to define electric charging point targets for 2020. France has stated its ambition to deploy 7 million charging outlets by 2030.

The IEA makes the claim of using EV cities to drive the adoption. While in theory larger city centres are subject to greater restrictions of access, parking and congestion zones, the idea that a rural town copying the program of a big city would unlikely result in similar adoption rates.

Fig.13: EV city policies that drive EV adoption

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Source: IEA

In its conclusion the IEA noted,

In the next 10 to 20 years the electric car market will likely transition from early deployment to mass market adoption. Assessments of country targets, OEM announcements and scenarios on electric car deployment seem to confirm these positive signals; indicating that the electric car stock may range between 9 million and 20 million by 2020 and between 40 million and 70 million by 2025.”

Regardless of the adoption rates, it is worth nothing that governments are setting policy against estimates that are wider than an aircraft hangar door. Therefore investment decisions in the basket of EV related companies is likely to be a risky investment. EV related stocks have done exceptionally well to date but as ever when reality dawns, the downside is a gaping chasm. A look at the history of Ballard Power in Canada is a good yardstick for looking what happens when the wind is taken from a theme’s sails.

Fig.14 – Ballard Power – a history of EV hope that failed to eventuate

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Summary

EVs are coming. There is no point trying to ignore it. The question remains how rational setting targets such as 2040 are achievable. The auto industry employs around 9% of the workforce (directly and indirectly) so it is a powerful lobby group despite past failures and bail outs. If auto companies tell governments that the supply chain needs longer to catch up we will see this 2040 target slip to 2045 or 2050. Supply chains don’t end at the gate of the end supplier but right down to the capacity and investment in raw materials procurement, the intermediate refiners and packagers. All levels of the supply chain have to be on board.

Nonetheless we must also accept that consumers have vastly different needs and auto makers must make sure they can make products that fill the market segments profitably. Most importantly car makers’ drivetrain DNA is a vital component of their brands. EVs will do serious damage to this defining quality which will turn profitability back toward distribution networks and scale efficiency.

Electricity generation and energy policy will be bigger swing factors in ultimate hard targets on the sales of EVs. While making optically appealing eco-policies look good in the eyes of the electorate, those same people will turn on politicians in time if these schemes end up costing them far more in terms of their daily consumption other than their driving habits. Rolling out new charging stations to meet demand is a moot point given the wide range of predictions of how big or small the market may end up being.

The expansion of unreliable renewable energy sources as a percentage of total generation adds unnecessary risks into the EV equation. We have too many examples of the poor implementation of energy policy which gullibly relies on optimistic assumptions and the goodwill of neighbours we have no control of.

The advent of automated driving has the potential to open a whole new can of worms. The insurance market will feel the urge to blame accidents on faulty technology (not faulty humans) and expect consumers to get their claims covered by the manufacturer.

Finally governments have got to allow industry decide how they achieve emissions regulations. In 20 years Euro 6 has proved that emissions can be cut 97%. What is to say in the next 20 years that auto makers can’t drive that to zero? If car makers want to be a differentiator all they need do is fight the battle of internal combustion with zero emissions. Why are amateurs in technology (government) dictating to the professionals on what consumers may or may not want? Governments, for all the good will in the world must look at their involvement in renewable energy back at the turn of the century to remind themselves how disastrous their policies were in bankrupting so many companies that over invested in promises that were later reneged on.

EVs are here to stay but to this author 2040 is nothing more than an idle promise by which time those politicians proposing it most likely won’t be in office. Await the delays as the lobby groups explain the harsh realities to the law makers.

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Renewable jobs!!

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Victorian Premier Dan Andrews blathered on his FaceBook page that wind farms create lots of jobs. In March this year I revealed the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) renewable employment figures which showed all states seeing declines. By state, South Australia has seen a 65% fall in green jobs since the peak in 2011/12. Victoria down 46%, Queensland down 49%, NSW down 32% & WA down 55%. The problem with green jobs is they are not sustainable.

ABS Program Manager of Environment and Agricultural Statistics, Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly, said that Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia provides experimental estimates of the levels of employment in renewable energy by state and territory, and by types of renewable energy activities.

Annual full time equivalent (FTE) employment in renewable energy activities was estimated to be 11,150 in 2015-16, down 16 per cent from 13,300 in 2014-15 and down from a peak of 19,220 in 2011-12,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said.

Wind Power in Australia made up 1,200 jobs in total in 2014/15 down from 1,700 in 2013/14 according to the ABS. Total employment in the industry is around 65,000. So for the boom that Premier Andrews is talking about the stats tell a different story. As the ABS stats clearly show, renewable jobs aren’t sustainable. While there is a spurt in construction this disappears and then consumers are faced with higher electricity prices and blackouts because they don’t provide baseload power.