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Lithium-ion technologies are accepted as the most suitable due to their historically low costs and high energy densities, as well as their growth in production allowing for scale effects. Many efforts have contributed to the cost reduction that underlies the observed price decline, but the contributions of these efforts and their relative importance remain unclear. Lithium-ion battery prices, which were above $1100/kWh in 2010, fell 89% in real terms to $132/kWh in 2021 and could be around $100/kWh in 2023. Pack prices below $100/kWh are critical because it is around this level that automakers should be able to produce and sell mass market EVs at the same price as internal combustion vehicles. In any case, lithium is valuable because it is both the lightest metal and the least dense solid element offering a high power-to-weight ratio, critical when it comes to transport.
Tidal power is a form of hydroelectricity that converts tidal energy into electrical energy. The power available for tidal power generation in a given area may be greater than that of a wind turbine due to the higher density of water. The first advantage of tidal turbines, and of tidal energy in general, is its predictability. Moreover, that they are not visible (in the case of tidal turbines standing on the seabed), because they are completely submerged under water. The tidal turbine sector faces four key challenges : energy cost, availability, environmental impact, energy transport. The technology required for tidal power is well developed, and the main barrier to increased use of the tides is construction costs. The demand for electricity on a power grid varies with the time of day and the electricity supply from a tidal power station will never match the demand from a system. But this source of energy will be able to replace, in part, the electricity which would otherwise be produced by fossil fuel power stations. The global potential for tidal energy is enormous (tidal turbines and dams). The World Energy Council estimates that up to 1,000 GW of ocean power could be installed by 2050, equivalent to half the world's current coal capacity.
This Part I aims to be generalist without going into the details of more specific issues that we will try to address in subsequent publications. Focusing only on the specific link related to the subject would lead us to potentially evade decisive issues that may influence or arise from the central subject. In future publications, it seems interesting to us to look more deeply into the following areas, even if by pulling the thread new themes will certainly emerge: Production of electrolysers, players, technological and competitive environment ; Hydrogen producers by energy source, infrastructure needs in production, storage and transport of green energy for the production of hydrogen ; Hydrogen demand, more detailed trends, industrial players and limits ; The future of fossil players faced with the challenges of hydrogen.
The question of “best effort” versus “best in class” arises for heavy industries. They are ranked among the worst ESG performers in the world, and the materials they produce are closely linked to their carbon footprint. Is there a fatality for players in cement, aggregates, mortars and other heavy materials related to construction and infrastructure? Should the steel industry, the other big dirty sector in the world, suffer the same fate? To ensure the energy transition, we need these heavy materials industries just as we need the mining industry, so the answer is in the question. The rapid emergence of solutions to extract excess CO2 from the atmosphere raises essential questions about measures to advance these technologies. CCUS projects are on track to extract more than 550 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, globally, each year by 2030.
This editorial is the first in a long series dedicated to the preservation of the Oceans This first publication has no other ambition than to draw up a factual observation of the dramatic damage that the oceans have suffered for years under the effect of human activity, from the use of fossil fuels to overfishing. At the end of this long list of the damage that man does to his oceans, we will focus on defining the measures that are already taken, and that remain to be taken, to save our oceans, We will also try, in terms of ecological transition, to determine to what extent the ingenuity of man could make it possible to generate clean energy through the phenomenal and eternal energy that the oceans provide. We are talking about marine energy. A wide variety of technologies can be used. All these themes will be part of a series of Editos to come in the coming weeks.
A limited number of coal-fired power plants are still under construction in advanced economies. In Asia, their number is growing rapidly and represents 90% of new coal-fired electricity generation capacity in the world for the past 20 years. The solutions for less CO2 emissions are multiple. The most radical will tip the scales as much as possible towards degrowth without taking into consideration the economic and social effects induced by it. In this publication, we focus on some of the aspects, not as unique solutions, but rather as illustrations in the universe of possibilities. Industrial production is essential to a modern economy. However, a modern production strategy must be driven by industry and for industry. Energy efficiency is often forgotten in the discourse, or even treated as a limited and declining (Ricardian) resource.
In this Part III of Living in The Plastic Age, we stay in the world of polymers, but on a smaller scale in unit size, but not necessarily volume and especially in current and future damage, that of plastic microparticles. We offer you an approach very centred on the textile sector, even if it is not the only one responsible for this form of invisible marine pollution. These microplastics come significantly from textiles and clothing, but also from plastic packaging that eventually erodes into smaller pieces and inevitably into the equivalent of grains of sand over time.
Historical beliefs are that geopolitical disturbances are favourable to maritime transport demand. The pattern of trade is disrupted and becomes less efficient. Freight has to travel longer distances. Rates are rising. Russia's invasion of Ukraine could demonstrate the opposite. The conflict in Ukraine, beyond the disastrous human considerations, could have a very significant impact on global growth. We can start to read estimates of an impact of around 1% on global economic growth, but this will of course depend on the different scenarios linked to this conflict and which are difficult to predict at this stage.
Reading new publications on the topic of plastic pollution led us to the notion of the life cycle of plastic products according to the sectors of activity that use them (Geyer 2017). The shorter the life cycle, the greater the need for recycling is to be considered and addressed. Less than 2% of packaging plastics within the consumer and retail sectors are reusable, according to the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation. If we broaden the notion of reusable to those of recyclable and compostable, we arrive at around 65%, but showing almost no progress between 2019 and 2020.
Several events in recent years, including the global financial crisis, political polarisation and trade disputes, as well as the pandemic, have raised concerns about the growing economic uncertainty. But does it mean mechanically higher volatility? Measuring uncertainty is inherently complex, and this is particularly the case over time and from one country to another. The Economic Policy Uncertainty (EPU) index which is correlated at 0.7 with the World Uncertainty Index, does not seem to show a strong correlation with the VIX US (0.1).
Nearly 90% of new coal-fired power plants developed worldwide are also in emerging and developing economies, primarily in Asia. Since 2015, the pre-construction pipeline has collapsed by 76% to 297GW, and the world has avoided a 56% expansion of the total global coal fleet (as in June 2021). China, however, still accounts for 39% of the global pipeline of new projects and is thus a constituent block in its own right.
Global demand for plastics has quadrupled over the past four decades and is expected to increase further in the future, intensifying the impacts on the environment and human health. Each of the forms of plastic pollution is found both upstream and downstream of the value chains: greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and emissions of fine solid or liquid particles (PM), of which microplastics are a part.
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