Daily Archives: March 8, 2017

Ice covering the ocean surface along lower Baffin Island, in the Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea (Image:: K. Calvo/National Geographic/Alamy)

Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn

Climatologists say Labrador Sea could cool within a decade before end of this century, leading to unprecedented disruption, reports Climate News Network

For thousands of years, parts of northwest Europe have enjoyed a climate about 5C warmer than many other regions on the same latitude. But new scientific analysis suggests that that could change much sooner and much faster than thought possible.

Climatologists who have looked again at the possibility of major climate change in and around the Atlantic Ocean, a persistent puzzle to researchers, now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.

Ice covering the ocean surface along lower Baffin Island, in the Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea (Image:: K. Calvo/National Geographic/Alamy)
Ice covering the ocean surface along lower Baffin Island, in the Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea (Image:: K. Calvo/National Geographic/Alamy)

That is a much starker prospect than even the worst-case scientific scenario proposed so far, which does not see the Atlantic ocean current shutdown happening for several hundred years at least.

A scenario even more drastic (but fortunately fictional) was the subject of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow, which portrayed the disruption of the North Atlantic’s circulation leading to global cooling and a new Ice Age.

To evaluate the risk of extreme climate change, researchers from the Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux laboratory (CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France), and the University of Southamptondeveloped an algorithm to analyse the 40 climate models considered by the Fifth Assessment Report.

The findings by the British and French team, published in the Nature Communications journal, in sharp contrast to the IPCC, put the probability of rapid North Atlantic cooling during this century at almost an even chance – nearly 50%.

Read more: The Guardian

Exxon Caves to Oil Crash With Historic Global Reserves Cut

  • International oil giant wipes 3.3 billion barrels from books
  • Entire Kearl oil-sands project in western Canada de-booked

Exxon Mobil Corp. disclosed the deepest reserves cut in its modern history as prolonged routs in oil and natural gas markets erased the value of a $16 billion oil-sands investment and other North American assets.

The equivalent of about 3.3 billion barrels of untapped crude was removed from the so-called proved reserves category in Exxon’s books, the Irving, Texas-based explorer said in a statement. The revisions were triggered when low energy prices made it mathematically impossible to profitably harvest those fields within five years. The sprawling, 3.5-billion barrel Kearl oil-sands development in western Canada accounted for most of the hit.

The 19 percent drop amounts to the largest annual cut since at least the 1999 merger that created the company in its modern form, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That includes 1.5 billion barrels of reserves that were pumped from wells. The previous record cut was a 3 percent reduction taken during the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. The reserves are now at their lowest since 1997.

The shares gained 0.2 percent to $81.08 in after-hours trading as of 5:46 p.m. in New York on Wednesday, after closing at $80.93.

Exxon, facing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into how it valued its portfolio amid the worst oil market collapse in a generation, signaled in October and again last month that the revision was probably coming.

The oil-sand mines in northern Alberta are among the costliest types of petroleum projects to develop because the raw bitumen extracted from the region must be processed and converted to a thick, synthetic crude oil. As such, they have been particularly hard hit by the worst oil slump in a generation.

ConocoPhillips on Tuesday removed the equivalent of 1.15 billion barrels of oil-sands crude from its books as part of a 21 percent cut that pushed the Houston-based company’s reserves to a 15-year low.

Read more: Bloomberg

Nest aims to reduce workers’ exposure to companies with reserves of coal, oil and gas (Image: JJ Mitchell/Getty)

Government pension scheme begins ditching oil and gas investments

A giant pension scheme with more than 4 million members is shifting almost 10% of its investments into a new climate change fund designed to move people’s money out of fossil fuels and into renewable energy.

Nest (National Employment Savings Trust), a publicly owned scheme set up by the government, said it was moving £130m into the fund because it wanted to protect its worker members from the risks associated with climate change by reducing their exposure to companies with reserves of coal, oil and gas.

Nest aims to reduce workers’ exposure to companies with reserves of coal, oil and gas (Image: JJ Mitchell/Getty)
Nest aims to reduce workers’ exposure to companies with reserves of coal, oil and gas (Image: JJ Mitchell/Getty)

Nest has named oil groups Shell and ExxonMobil as two of the companies in which it is set to scale back its investment, with SSE, one of Britain’s biggest energy firms, one of those likely to be a beneficiary of the new strategy.

The move has been welcomed by climate change campaigners and comes amid an ongoing global carbon divestment campaign that has succeeded in persuading hundreds of institutions, including universities, pension funds and charitable foundations, to dump billions of pounds of shares in carbon-intensive industries. The Guardian has been running its own campaign called Keep it in the ground.

The move by Nest is notable because it is a public body – it was set up by the government to help employers meet their obligations under the automatic enrolment retirement saving initiative, which went live in 2012. Nest is now looking after the pension pots of more than 4 million UK workers, investing £1.5bn on their behalf, and has signed up more than 290,000 employers. These numbers are expected to increase markedly over the next few years, making Nest a major shareholder and, it hopes, a difficult voice to ignore.

Most of the money looked after by Nest is invested in its retirement date funds – there are 47 of these, with each worker put into the one appropriate for their age. It is £130m of this total pot that is being moved into a new “climate-aware” fund managed by UBS Asset Management, which has been developed to allow members to

“benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy”.

Read more: The Guardian

Simplified EV Charging Infrastructure on its Way

New rules have been put into place by the UK Government that will make access to electric car recharging infrastructure easier for drivers.

As part of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill 2017, charge point network operators could be made to provide cross-network access for customers.

Motorway services and large petrol stations could be made to provide EV charging points too, and possibly include hydrogen refuelling stations on site.

With the new bill, the Government has the ability to enforce aspects of electric vehicle recharging or refuelling to be simplified. Among considerations is creating standardised payment systems, whether that be via apps, RFID cards, or credit/debit cards.

Also, the potential is there to standardise recharging/refuelling pricing. Hydrogen is widely charged in £/kg and that is likely to remain with the refuelling infrastructure in its infancy. However, EV charging is often priced at £/kWh or £/minute – potentially confusing users as to costs.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Transport said:

“If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later.

“I recognise that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone and these new laws will help make this a reality.”

Source: Zap-Map

Renault-Nissan To Test Fleet Of Autonomous Zoes In Paris

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced a partnership with autonomous vehicle services company Transdev which will see a fleet of self-driving Renault Zoe models hit the streets.

In a statement, the two automakers said that they will collaborate with Transdev to develop a modular transportation system that enables clients to book vehicles and for mobility operators to monitor and operate self-driving car fleets.

The partnership will start with fields tests in the Paris-Saclay business area and involve Transdev’s on-demand dispatch, supervision and routing platform.

Speaking about the deal, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice president of connected vehicles and mobility services, Ogi Redzic, said

“As the mobility services landscape keeps evolving, we have a great opportunity to offer innovative, connected mobility solutions for the evolving needs of our customers, fully aligned with our vision of a zero-emission, zero-fatalities society.

“Partnering with Transdev allows us to share our knowledge as leaders in electric vehicles, autonomous drive and connected-car technologies with one of the largest multi-modal mobility operators worldwide. Together we will develop an advanced driverless mobility system that will enhance existing public and on-demand transport systems.”

Source: Car Scoops

San Francisco plans to require that all new buildings and parking be ‘100% electric vehicle ready’

The city of San Francisco has not been shy to use its building codes to try to accelerate the deployment of sustainable energy. Last year, it required new buildings to have solar panels installed on the roof and this year, it will try to accommodate electric vehicles by using a similar approach.

San Francisco already has one of the highest concentration of electric vehicles in the world and that comes with a more than decent public charging station coverage.

Now they want to make sure people can also have a charger at home more easily, which is why Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Supervisor Katy Tang introduced new legislation to require that all new buildings are ‘100% electric vehicle ready’.

Mayor Lee said about the announcement on Tuesday:

“San Francisco is working towards smart, long-term investments and policies that reduce pollution and make sense economically. We are committed to continuing our leadership on fighting climate change. By improving access to electric charging citywide, San Francisco is accelerating our transition to a clean-energy transportation future.”

They want to require all new parking construction to accommodate EVs with at least 10% of the space and the rest to be “ready” to have chargers installed:

“This 100 percent EV Ready ordinance requires all new residential and commercial buildings to configure 10 percent of parking spaces to be “turnkey ready” for EV charger installation, and an additional 10 percent to be “EV flexible” for potential charging and upgrades. The remaining 80 percent of parking spaces will be “EV capable,” by ensuring conduit is run in the hardest to reach areas of a parking garage to avoid future cost barriers.”

The city expects that this approach will reduce the cost of installing an electric vehicle charger by as much as 75% versus a building/parking that wasn’t designed to be “EV ready”.

It’s a more aggressive approach than the state’s. California building codes now require 3 percent of parking spaces to be designed to serve electric vehicles.

Source: Electrek

BMW i3 Wins Best Electric Car 2017

BMW continues to make headway with its flagship ‘i’ range, with the BMW i3 94Ah having recently won the Best Electric Car in the £20,000 – £40,000 category at the What Car? Car of the Year 2017 awards. The annual awards are the UK motoring industry’s highest accolades, demonstrating just how far the BMW i concept has come since its establishment in 2013.

The BMW i3 94Ah was praised for its 50% improvement on range between charges – now a maximum of 195 miles – as well as for its interior quality, sustainable production values and usability.

The ethos of the BMW ‘i’ range is sustainability to its very core. From renewable energy used in the making of its interior carbon fibre, to the recycled materials used throughout its construction, the BMW i3 spearheads the carbon-free car market.

On a practical level, the BMW i3 now comes with direct current (DC) rapid charging as standard, allowing it to be fully charged in less than 3 hours [edit – this is obviously wrong, BMW mean 40 minutes – the writer must have got confused! Trevor]. With a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 93mph, the BMW i3 continues to make its mark on the electric car market.

Visit the What Car? Best Electric Car award feature here.

Source: BMW.co.uk

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric: First Drive Impression

The second version of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq I got to drive was the fully electric model (the plug-in hybrid wasn’t available to all drivers), and although my first thought was that the Ioniq electric only has a 124-mile range (which probably has more to say about our societal conditioning about “range anxiety” than about actual driving habits), I ended up changing my mind about the so-called limitations of that as well by the end of the day.

For my time behind the wheel, I gunned it up hills and from full stops, put the regenerative braking at the lowest level, and generally tried to “drive it like I stole it” (at least as much as I could in traffic, anyway), but after checking the odometer against the estimated range still in the battery, that 124-mile range certainly seemed like a solid number, even for a driver who wasn’t trying to hypermile it.

Before getting behind the wheel, I thought that driving the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric was going to be more exciting to me than the hybrid was, perhaps because it’s truly a contender for the fully electric market, both in price and in efficiency (where it is actually the leader — more on that later), but it turned out that I barely noticed the difference. Sure, there were slight differences in the handling and driving experience, perhaps only due to the different drivetrain and battery, but overall, it felt so much like the same car that I had to keep telling myself “It’s an electric.”

The main difference was the almost complete lack of noise, other than some slight road noise from the tires, and the gear shift was missing (replaced by buttons for selecting drive, reverse, Eco and Sport mode, etc.), and the lack of oomph off the line. The Electric accelerated just fine, and could hold its own in traffic, but it certainly didn’t seem to have the same “launch” feeling that the Hybrid did from a full stop.

One feature that I really liked about the Ioniq Electric was the ability to quickly switch between several levels of regenerative braking, via two paddles on the steering wheel. At the lowest setting, the car drove very similar to a conventional vehicle, with plenty of coasting possible when taking your foot off the accelerator, while at the highest level, the regenerative braking feature allowed for a “single pedal” driving style, which meant that as soon as your foot was off of the accelerator, the car started slowing down quite aggressively — not enough to come to a complete stop, but enough that touching the brake wasn’t necessary when accounting for curves and slowing traffic.

I could see the usefulness of the high level of regen braking when trying to get the most range out of the car, while the lowest level gave you the feel of driving a conventional car — something that might come in handy when transitioning from a conventional or hybrid to a fully electric car.

That said, the Electric had plenty of power for the route we were on (which had no incredibly steep or sustained grades), and wasn’t a stodgy “green car” that sacrificed all of the fun of driving in order to deliver a more sustainable transport option.

As with the Hybrid, for the first half of our time with the Electric, my co-pilot drove it mostly in Eco mode, so when I got in the driver’s seat, I put it in Sport mode and kept it there, with the same aim as before — to see if I could put some holes in the company’s range claim. This time, even with some pedal-to-the-metal takeoffs and punching up hills, we ended our drive of the day with the car giving us a range estimate very much in line with the company’s stated 124 miles after subtracting the miles we’d driven.

Read more: Clean Technica

Coming to a street near you? You can make a case with your local authority to have an electric car charge point installed on your street

Want an electric car charge point on the street outside your house?

  • On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme available since January 1
  • EV owners must ask their local authorities to apply for chargers on their behalf
  • Scheme will favour areas where no off-street parking is available
  • Councils can apply for multiple plug-ins to cover current and future EV demand
Coming to a street near you? You can make a case with your local authority to have an electric car charge point installed on your street
Coming to a street near you? You can make a case with your local authority to have an electric car charge point installed on your street

The biggest issue strangling the nation’s switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles is undoubtedly the lack of infrastructure in the UK. Too few chargers to replenish batteries – especially in inner-city areas where short journeys are best served by zero-emissions electric cars but most people must park their car on the street – have restricted the take-up of pure electric models in Britain.

However, a new £2.5 million ‘On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme’ has been created to allow EV owners to apply to have a plug-in point installed on their street – and perhaps even right outside their house – the only problem is you have to apply through your council.

The scheme offered by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles from January has made £1 million available to fund installations during the current financial year and an additional £1.5 million to cover applications made during 2017/18. Residents who want one of the twin charge points added on their street will have to ask their local authority to take up their case, with funding then allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
Of course, if you (or your local authority) is fortunate enough to secure one of the charge posts, there’s no guarantee it’ll be available for you to take advantage of – any electric-car or plug-in hybrid driver will be able to use it and you’ll have to pay to have access to the supply. So don’t expect to plug your BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf into one overnight every day.

The scheme is aimed at EV owners who have no off-street parking, for example those with on-street resident parking bays – suggesting most accepted applications will be in highly-populated urban areas. However, local authorities can also apply to the scheme to meet future demands, meaning plug-in posts capable of charging two vehicles at once could be erected in your area even if there are currently no electric car owners living on your street.

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low – a joint government and industry campaign to encourage motorists into zero-emissions vehicles – said:

‘The growing demand for electric vehicles justifies greater on-street charging infrastructure and for EV owners that do not have access to off street charging, this public infrastructure is vital.

‘2016 marked a record year for plug-in registrations with more motorists than ever making the switch to electric. Annual uptake rose 29 per cent and we expect this strong growth to continue, so welcome all investments made in the national charging infrastructure.

‘While Go Ultra Low research shows more than 90 per cent of charging is done at home, there are already more than 11,000 publically accessible charge points around the country, so this growing national network provides a useful additional option to motorists.’

Read more: This is Money