Moving Parts (Oct 14th): Energy analysis + wind + robot dogs = new future?


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Moving Parts
Moving Parts (Oct 14th): Energy analysis + wind + robot dogs = new future?
By Trey • Issue #5 • View online
Today’s issue focuses heavily on climate and supply chains (specifically on energy). It’s good stuff, but it’s full. Enjoy (as much as you want to).

Today's Takeaway
I saw that USask was advertising their Cybersecurity Awareness Month stuff, and decided I would see if I could hit any of their bingo spots… suffice to say, I could instantly cross of almost all of the squares. This is part humblebrag, part reminder that I talked about CSAM a few days ago… and part reminder to please, like, just consider your online security.
The Roundup
Let them go? Or increase taxes?
There’s been a few interesting pieces on climate that have come out this week, but I don’t think any really hit at the level of problems we could be dealing with than the NYT’s The Daily Podcast from October 11th titled, Which Towns Are Worth Saving?
  • In short, the episode is a great primer to the emotionalism of the climate crisis, where floods have made it so a small town in North Carolina almost ceases to exist
  • Without going into too much detail (the episode is a great listen, even if you have your opinions about the NYT): “Homeowners in the Outer Banks of North Carolina are facing a tax increase of almost 50 percent to protect their homes.” The 50% tax increases would go towards a sand/beach restoration project to help with floods, which will cost the town of around 500 inhabitants about $11-15m every five years.
A (not so?) rosy Outlook
The International Energy Agency came out with its latest World Energy Outlook, and it’s a good one. I’ve done roundups on my Instagram stories of these reports before, but since I have this (not so) fancy newsletter for me to write my thoughts out now, here goes:
  • This WEO comes at an interesting time, set against the pandemic which has revealed global inequalities, and energy is no exception: much more must be done to help lower-income countries transition to cleaner forms of energy
  • Global energy markets have been in turmoil for the last few years, with the oil price dipping negative before now rebounding to price levels that would make any oil executive and politician in an oil-rich area ecstatic. However, these higher prices of oil have a habit of convincing people that we need more oil and gas, and even dirtier energy sources (coal) in order to bring prices down - something we’re starting to see a bit in China. (The China ‘issue’ is a bit different, as a lot of electricity in China is used for manufacturing… goods for western consumers. Blackouts are not good for the security or stability of a region, and this could be something to watch. China has previously announced their commitments to phase out coal… starting in a few years).
  • The outlook does a decent job of diving into it, but essentially: governments, organizations, and institutions can make as many pledges as they want - what we need to see is action on climate change.
  • “Energy geopolitics are typically associated with oil and gas. However, clean energy technologies are not immune from geopolitical hazards” -> yeah, focusing on oil and gas while leaving almost all the solar manufacturing to one country (China) was probably not a smart move from an energy security standpoint?
  • The world is not investing enough to meet its future energy needs, and uncertainties over policies and demand trajectories create a strong risk of a volatile period ahead for energy markets.” -> say it again for the people in the back. The grid is not made for the incoming increases in electricity consumption (EVs).
  • Look, I can keep talking about the report, or you can go check out the IEA’s latest WEO for 2021 here - explore the sections! It might just generate some interest in you :)
Speaking of the grid… that second last link (or this link here) takes you to a recent Washington Post piece on the future of the grid in the United States in terms of Electric Vehicles:
  • “But making America’s cars go electric is no longer primarily a story about building the cars. Against this ambitious backdrop, America’s electric grid will be sorely challenged by the need to deliver clean power to those cars. Today, though, it barely functions in times of ordinary stress, and fails altogether too often for comfort, as widespread blackouts in California, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere have shown.”
  • “By 2030, according to one study, the nation will need to invest as much as $125 billion in the grid to allow it to handle electric vehicles. The current infrastructure bill before Congress puts about $5 billion toward transmission line construction and upgrades.”
  • “Overall demand could grow by as much as 50 percent. [in NY State]”
  • So yeah, we might want to get on upgrading the grid - cleanly, securely, and smartly - lest we forget about climate and security implications that come with EVs: if a criminal group or nation-state can get into the grid (they can, yes) - they could impede even more than they can already.
Speaking of climate, electricity and the transition… it’s WIND POWER TIME BABY!
  • First off, it’s good because, well, it’s clean energy. Of course, there’s some issues in the manufacturing processes, just like anything that any conservative commenter will ensure you’re aware of - “You know Trey, they still need a lot of fossil fuels to make those wind turbines” as if everyone is oblivious to current systems of manufacturing.
  • Second, it’s bad because… we (as in the USA, of which, I have no vested interest or citizenship in) need to greatly increase our transmission capacity (“The GRIDDDDDD!” - he screams into the abyss, as if anyone cares about my fascination with energy infrastructure) in order to handle increase electricity transmission
  • Third, it’s IDK because wind turbines use some Rare Earth Minerals. I (shameless self gloat here) did an economics research paper on Rare Earth Minerals for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Trade and Export Development - there’s environmental concerns with the mining practices, as well as the fact that REMs are a geopolitical ticking-timebomb (in my opinion). China controls the market on REMs (and they’ve used it to their advantage before). Additionally, it’s similar to the semiconductor chip market: REMs are extremely valuable, yet expensive and difficult to produce, making their supply chains somewhat of a… nightmare.
Speaking of chips (not the edible kind)
The Other Stuff
The Happy
A twitter thread on Oslo’s newest branch of their public library went viral this week, and the pictures (and the entire thread, honestly) is incredible. Education is great, books are great, great design is… great?
I’d highly recommend taking a look at the entire thread for some book-filled Scandinavian happiness.
Dr Cat Jarman FSA💀
This is Oslo’s new PUBLIC LIBRARY. It’s unbelievable. Completely free, open to everyone until 10pm every day. There is a wine bar. Views to die for. All the books.
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