Editors: Tom Whipple, Steve Andrews

Quote of the Week

“We support renewable fuels and the green agenda, but soyabean oil [prices] have tripled. Our members are worried that they may not be able to buy any oil.”
               Robb MacKie, CEO of the American Bakers Association

Graphic of the Week

AES Corp. in January commissioned a 100-megawatt battery installation in Long Beach, California, using Fluence batteries. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg
1.  Energy prices and production
2.  Geopolitical instability
3.  Climate change
4. The global economy and the coronavirus
5. Renewables and new technologies
6. Briefs

1.  Energy prices and production

Oil:  Futures rose towards $73 a barrel on Friday as refineries in Louisiana restarted and returning offshore production could not keep pace. About two-thirds of the US Gulf’s offshore oil production or about 1.2 million b/d has remained offline since late August. As a result, US crude inventories fell to the lowest since September 2019. The storm that hit the US Gulf of Mexico so far has removed more than 21 million barrels of crude from the market. Over 1.68 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas were also off-line on Friday, while a total of 65 platforms and three rigs continued to be evacuated.

Offshore energy firms are likely to face more significant financial losses from Hurricane Ida than from previous Gulf storms because of insurers’ reduced coverage, according to risk modeling firm RMS. The damage to US offshore oil and gas production makes it one of the costliest for the energy sector since back-to-back Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 cut output for months.

According to consultancy SIA Energy, some of the world’s biggest oil consumers, led by China, have already exceeded pre-pandemic consumption levels. “The worst for Asian fuel demand is over, and we see a soft recovery of oil demand in the coming months,” SIA Energy analyst Sengyik Tee said.  He expects a 13-percent jump in Chinese oil consumption in the fourth quarter of this year from 2019 before the pandemic started. US demand for oil is also on a solid rebound thanks to mass vaccinations during the summer. Earlier this month, demand hit the highest since the start of the year despite rekindled concern as Covid-19 case numbers climb higher.

Total US crude oil production averaged 11.3 million b/d in June—the most recent month with confirmed data. The EIA forecasts production will remain near that level through the end of 2021 before increasing to an average of 11.7 million b/d in 2022, driven by higher shale oil production. The administration expects growth will result from operators beginning to increase rig additions, offsetting production decline rates.

The EIA estimates that 98.4 million b/d of petroleum and liquid fuels were consumed globally in August, an increase of 5.7 million b/d from August 2020 but still 4.0 million b/d less than in August 2019. The global consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels will average 97.4 million b/d for all of 2021, which is a 5.0 million b/d increase from 2020 and will increase an additional 3.6 million b/d in 2022 to average 101.0 million b/d, almost even with 2019 levels.

OPEC:  The cartel’s 13 members pumped 26.97 million b/d in August, a rise of 140,000 b/d from July, while nine non-OPEC partners led by Russia added 13.29 million b/d, a drop of 90,000 b/d, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey. The combined output of 40.26 million b/d marks the sixth straight month the alliance has stepped up production. But it could have been more in August. The current OPEC+ supply accord calls for monthly 400,000 b/d increases in the group’s collective quotas, aiming to capture the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE were the most significant gainers during the month. Still, Kazakhstan underwent major field maintenance that saw its output decline, and Nigeria suffered a large oil spill near a critical export terminal that shut-in production. In addition, several other members continued to pump below their allocations due to a lack of spare production capacity. Libya, which is exempt from a quota under the deal, also had a field outage. In all, OPEC+ compliance rose to 112%, as the 19 members with quotas left some 640,000 b/d of production under their caps unfulfilled.

OPEC could revise down its forecasts for global oil demand in 2022, given the increased uncertainty with the Delta variant, OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Friday. OPEC is scheduled to release its closely watched Monthly Oil MarketReport in which it could cut its oil demand estimates for next year, after keeping its demand outlook unchanged in the two previous reports.

Shale Oil: The latest Texas Petro Index (TPI) points to lower upstream oil and gas industry employment than other sources have published, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP) has revealed. Compared to the Texas Workforce Commission’s primary monthly estimates, the July TPI shows 9,000 fewer jobs, according to Petroleum Economist Karr Ingham, the executive vice president of TAEP. The July TPI increased for the fourth straight month and for the fifth time in the last six months, improving to 150.5 up from a revised 146.2 in June. However, it is still down by 1.9 percent from the July 2020 TPI of 153.4. “We believe our methodology provides a more accurate picture of statewide employment.”

Natural Gas: Prices are soaring across the northern hemisphere as anxiety mounts about the prospects of a supply crunch in coming weeks when cold weather begins, and homeowners switch on furnaces. A confluence of production and processing disruptions is running headlong into robust demand for the fuel in some of the world’s biggest economies. Moreover, the rally in North America and Europe heightened inflation concerns and worries about ripple effects that could roil gas-intensive industries from fertilizers to steel and food producers. Gas for October delivery settled up 7.6% at $4.91 per million British thermal units in New York on Wednesday, a level not seen since unprecedented cold gripped the US and Canada during the Polar Vortex of early 2014.

Electricity: Prolonged blackouts in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida are a reminder that the power grid needs to become more resilient and reliable if even more services such as electric vehicles are going to depend on it in the future. The electricity system is already directly responsible for providing a wide range of energy services in homes, offices, and factories, including space heating, air-conditioning, cooking, refrigeration, and power.

The grid is also at the heart of a collection of other critical systems, including oil and gas supply, water and sewerage, transport, communications, public safety, and healthcare, which cannot function properly without it. Moreover, in the future, the grid is likely to be responsible for providing even more energy services as policymakers push to electrify many remaining services as part of the strategy for achieving net-zero emissions.

California’s grid operator has asked the Biden administration to allow some natural gas power plants to operate without pollution restrictions for 60 days to shore up the state’s tight electricity supplies, the US Energy Department said on Thursday. The agency is reviewing the request, an official said. The move is the latest example of California’s struggle to move away from fossil fuels like natural gas that contribute to climate change. Governor Gavin Newsom this year has already loosened restrictions on diesel generators and engines, and the state’s water agency is adding gas-fired power plants to boost supplies.

2.  Geopolitical instability

(These are the situations that reduce the world’s energy supplies or have the potential to do so.)
Iran:  The Biden administration appears to be increasing the urgency for reviving the Iran nuclear deal after talks have languished for months, and as 1.7 million b/d in oil supply expected by end-2022 hangs in the balance.  The lead US negotiator, Robert Malley, headed to Paris and Moscow for talks with Russian and European diplomats over Sept. 7-10 about the “need to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” Platts Analytics still expects the US and Iran to reach a new nuclear deal by October or November, allowing the Biden administration to remove sanctions on Tehran’s oil, shipping, petrochemical, and other sectors. But the company added a no-deal scenario to its outlook as doubts have grown about whether Washington and Tehran can break the impasse.
Platts Analytics expects the Iranian oil supply to rise to 3.87 million b/d by December 2022 if a deal is reached and US oil sanctions are removed. However, if talks are delayed further or collapse, the Iranian supply outlook would fall to 2.17 million b/d by the end of next year, near last month’s estimate of 2.15 million b/d.

Iraq: The Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) has taken two significant administrative steps to become operational, signaling a potential sea change in Iraq’s oil sector structure. In an Aug. 25th meeting, the newly constituted INOC board of directors approved company bylaws. The following day, Ihsan Ismaael — both oil minister and president of INOC — issued an order to shift control of seven state-owned oil companies from the Oil Ministry to INOC.

The Pearl Petroleum consortium led by the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas has signed a $250 million financing agreement with the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to fund a significant expansion of the Khor Mor gas field in Kurdistan. The project will increase natural gas production at Khor Mor by 50 percent by 2023 “to meet the rising demand for clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation and industry in the KRI,” the statement said.

Libya: Libya’s oil production is in danger of slumping again as a political power struggle threatens to end a period of relative stability. The standoff is unfortunate for the North African country, potentially depriving it of substantial revenue as crude trades above $70 a barrel. It could also prove tricky for the global oil market, shutting some Libyan production right after Hurricane Ida halted a record amount of US output.

The problems started in March when the government in Tripoli set out to restore the Ministry of Oil. The department had been weak for several years, with Oil Minister Mohamed Oun having little influence over the country’s industry. Instead, Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Corp, controlled Libya’s extensive production and export facilities. He effectively ran the energy sector, signed agreements with international oil companies, and represented Libya at meetings of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

The ministry’s attempt to assert greater control sparked an internal crisis. Oun asked the government to dismiss Sanalla and reshuffle the NOC’s board, saying the chairman had violated policy by traveling on a business trip overseas without prior approval. Sanalla refused to implement the order, resulting in a deadlock. 

Last week demonstrations broke out with some protesters calling for Sanalla’s removal, others demanding jobs – and halted oil exports from three key terminals: Es Sider, Hariga, and Ras Lanuf in the country’s east. The Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals resumed loading tankers on Friday. However, loading operations and exports from a third oil port, Hariga, continue to be blocked due to protests. Others have also threatened to shut down production in other areas, including Sharara, the nation’s biggest oilfield. On Sept. 8th, a Libyan official said the disruption could cut output by 800,000 b/d within days. However, the situation has improved somewhat since then.

Venezuela: The near collapse of the oil industry and strict US sanctions create an opportunity for Russia, Iran, and China to strengthen their presence in Latin America. However, while Russia and Iran have, to an extent, gained a foothold in Venezuela by providing support to the embattled Maduro regime, it is China that stands to benefit the most if it can secure a close relationship with Maduro.

Growing pressure to obtain additional crude oil supplies saw Chinese logistics firm China Concord Petroleum Co, known as CCPC, emerge as a leading player in circumventing US sanctions to supply Venezuelan oil to East Asian refiners. The firm’s importance is highlighted by data sourced by Reuters which shows that during April and May 2021, vessels charted by CCPC carried more than a fifth of Venezuela’s oil exports. CCPC has acquired at least 14 petroleum tankers to transport Venezuelan and Iranian crude despite Washington’s sanctions against both. By July 2021, Venezuela’s oil exports grew for a second straight month, reaching 713,097 barrels per day with most crude oil destined for China.

3.  Climate change

Even the most well-intentioned can fail to grasp just how bad things could get if climate goals aren’t met. Warming of about 1.2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels has already had devastating consequences. “Once we get around 2°C, we are getting to a climate regime which hasn’t been seen for as long as the human species has been at work,” said Seneviratne, a professor at ETH Zurich who oversaw the chapter on extremes in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Decision-makers don’t fully comprehend the second-order effects, after physical destruction, that increasingly extreme weather events will have on our social and economic systems. Compound events are still not well understood by the public, either. “On top of sea-level rise, you have more heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones. So many coastal communities don’t understand that the risk will be much higher.”
Pressure is mounting on governments to secure a significant global breakthrough on climate change ahead of COP26 — crucial United Nations talks starting in Glasgow, Scotland, in just over 60 days. Alok Sharma, the conference president, has been flying around the world over the past year in a bid to ensure he can broker a deal at the summit. Now his focus is narrowing on a handful of countries. Sharma says COP26 must “consign coal to history,” and he’s hoping that a major report from scientists that was published earlier this month will focus minds on the need to act now.
Activists have seized on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, telling energy companies they’ll “see you in court.” “It may help to bring in a broader diversity of litigants,” said a policy analyst at the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. “It might be the call to action for some groups that haven’t necessarily been thinking about litigation in the past, but who are reading and starting to use litigation in ways they haven’t done.”
China and the US have failed to reach a climate agreement after Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry pushed Beijing to make more public pledges before the climate summit. “China already has its plans and road map for achieving its climate goals,” an official on the Chinese side was cited in the South China Morning Post as saying. The source said further that Beijing wouldn’t tolerate Washington telling it what it should do or not do. SCMP summarized Kerry’s proposals: During talks with Chinese leaders in Tianjin, US climate envoy John Kerry presented a list of recommendations for Beijing to accelerate its climate efforts. They included a public commitment to the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit targeted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a definite time frame for carbon emissions to peak before 2030, and a moratorium on financing overseas coal-fired projects.
Last week, the Biden administration renewed its commitment to dramatically expand solar energy as part of its goal of eliminating carbon emissions from electricity production by 2035. Significant investments could increase solar from 3% of electricity generation today to 45% within three decades, an Energy Department study concluded. Solar is already the fastest-growing source of new electricity generation in the US, with power companies relying primarily on panels made by Chinese companies. The Biden administration says the rate of deployment must triple or quadruple if the nation is to hit the 2035 decarbonization goal. But those plans are now running up against another White House priority: promoting human rights.
This summer, Customs, and Border Protection began blocking the import of solar panels that it believed could contain materials from Hoshine Silicon. Hoshine is a Chinese company that appears to be coercing workers from the persecuted Uyghur minority by threatening them or restricting their movement.
Developed nations have incurred the bulk of $3.6 trillion in economic losses from severe weather events over the past five decades, while high death tolls endured by poorer countries have been partly reduced by better evacuation. The latest example is the estimated cost of Hurricane Ida which AccuWeather has projected could be as high as $80 billion.

4.  The global economy and the coronavirus

The world’s third-largest container carrier said it is capping spot rates for ocean freight for the next five months, yielding to pressure from some customers and regulators concerned that global trade disruptions have pushed the cost of shipping too high. For example, the cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to Los Angeles reached $11,569 last week, nearly eight times higher than the pre-pandemic cost.

United States:  The delta variant is filling hospitals, sickening alarming numbers of children, and driving coronavirus deaths in some places to the highest levels of the pandemic to date. School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks. Legal disputes, threats, and violence have erupted over mask and vaccine requirements. The US death toll stands at more than 650,000, with one major forecast model projecting it will top 750,000 by Dec. 1st.
The US economy “downshifted slightly” in August as the renewed surge of the coronavirus hit dining, travel, and tourism, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. Still, the economy overall remained in the throes of a post-pandemic rush of rising prices, labor shortages, and stalled hiring. As a result, Goldman Sachs economists revised down their forecast for growth in the US economy this year, pointing to a “harder path” ahead for the American consumer than previously anticipated.
Airlines warned Thursday of another pandemic-driven hit to profits in the months ahead, as the Delta variant interrupts a rebound in air travel. Major carriers said new travel bookings have slowed in recent weeks, and cancellations have increased, tempering airlines’ outlook.
Leaders of some of the busiest US ports expect congestion snarling maritime gateways to continue deep into next year, as the crush of goods from manufacturers and retailers looking to replenish depleted inventories pushes past shipping’s usual seasonal lulls. Ports are already swamped by record numbers of containers reaching US shores during this year’s peak shipping season, and the number of vessels waiting for berth space at Southern California’s gateways is growing. Fifty-five ships were anchored or idling further offshore, waiting to offload at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, as of late Friday, up from 40 two weeks ago.
The European Union: For Europe, which is coming off pandemic restrictions, the increased demand for natural gas and electricity as people return for work is triggering higher prices, and therefore inflation. Germany is battling the highest inflation since 2008. Typically, demand for natural gas this time of year is still low.
Depleted natural gas inventories and low wind speeds have led to a surge in electricity prices across Europe, putting pressure on governments as consumers protest surging power bills ahead of the winter heating season. As a result, electricity prices from the UK to Spain have jumped to all-time highs, people in Spain have taken to the streets, while prices across Europe are so high they could become a drag on the economic recovery from the pandemic.
Investor confidence in the German economy declined for a fourth month in September after global supply disruptions worsened and infection rates surged, threatening to disrupt Europe’s strong recovery. The outlook for the eurozone also deteriorated after the economy grew faster than initially reported in the second quarter.
As Europe looks to lead the world in electric vehicle sales, many governments incentivize the switch from traditionally fueled cars to electric alternatives, hoping to end the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles and get on the path to net-zero carbon emissions over the next decade. Furthermore, as major automotive manufacturers catch up with niche EV brands such as Tesla, Europe is ready to build up its EV market through incentives such as subsidies, free electric charging options, tax breaks, and a wide variety of EV options for consumers.
China: The state reserves administration said it would release crude oil to the market via public auction to ease the pressure of high feedstock costs on domestic refiners. The release, described as a first, will be made in phases and is mainly for integrated refining and chemical plants.
Remember when China vowed last year to hit peak carbon emissions in 2030 and reach carbon neutrality in 2060? Maybe it will, but long before we hit 2060, China plans on taking coal-based pollution to the next level. As a result, overnight coal futures prices a hit record level and are almost 80% higher than a year ago, signaling a desperate need for China to increase domestic production in the short term, notwithstanding the government’s plan to reduce reliance on coal in the long term. Prices for the most-traded thermal coal futures contract on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange hit $150 a ton on Tuesday, up from $85 a year ago.
Japanese automakers Honda, Nissan, and Toyota saw their sales in China tumble in August as a chip shortage hit vehicle production in the world’s biggest car market. Honda said it sold 91,694 vehicles in China last month, down 38.3% from a year earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of components. Nissan said it sold 113,166 cars in China in August, down 10.6%, due to “external headwinds including on-going pandemic, material shortage and natural disasters across the country.” Toyota said it sold 144,800 cars last month there, down 11.9% from the same month last year.
Russia: Gazprom says it finished the Nord Stream 2 subsea gas pipeline to Germany on Friday, completing Moscow’s project to increase its gas exporting capability and bypass Ukraine. The much-politicized pipeline will double Russia’s gas exporting capacity to Europe via the Baltic Sea and allow Moscow to circumvent its political foe Ukraine as a major route for its lucrative gas exports to Europe. On Saturday, a senior US envoy said he had delivered reassurances to Ukraine and Poland on mitigating any threat posed by Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but that the project was now a “reality.”
When construction began on the second Nord Stream pipeline, the European Union wasted no time voicing its opposition to more Russian gas. Led by Ukraine, which fears the transit fee losses that Nord Stream 2 would bring, this opposition led to legal battles and threats of sanctions if Russia “tries to use the pipeline as a weapon against other countries,” according to German Chancellor Merkel. The project also attracted the attention of the new global gas export giant, the US, which sees the European market as lucrative.
Saudi Arabia: Last month, business activity in Saudi Arabia grew at the weakest pace in 10 months as lower export demand weighed on the kingdom’s non-oil economy. A Purchasing Managers’ Index compiled by IHS Markit fell to 54.1 in August from 55.8 in the previous month, remaining above 50, the mark that separates growth from contraction. In addition, the survey showed employment growth remained negligible while stocks of purchases rose at the slowest pace since October.
Asia:  Sydney, the epicenter of Australia’s biggest coronavirus outbreak, is expected to see daily infections peak next week, authorities said on Monday, as they look to speed up immunizations before easing lockdown rules. Australia is trying to contain the third wave of infections that have hit its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, forcing more than half the country’s 25 million people into strict stay-at-home restrictions.

5.  Renewables and new technologies

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems successfully tested the world’s most potent high-temperature superconducting magnet in a step toward building a fusion power plant. CFS, MIT, and Italian energy group Eni, an investor in CFS, announced the test results on Wednesday. The test showed that the superconducting magnet could generate a sustained magnetic field powerful enough for a CFS device to achieve net energy from fusion, which would be an historic first. As a result, Eni said, CFS plans to have a first experimental device with net energy production by 2025 and a first plant to start feeding energy into the grid in the 2030s.
A startup in Australia, SunDrive Solar, claims to have developed a solar panel that uses cheaper copper in place of expensive silver in manufacturing the panels. If SunDrive can mass-produce its technology — and that’s a big if — the Australian startup could reduce the cost of solar panels and make the industry far less dependent on silver. In the past, many have tried to use copper rather than silver without success.

6.  The Briefs (date of the articles in the Daily Energy Bulletin is in parentheses)

Get jab or be fired? Royal Dutch Shell is considering making it mandatory for some of its 86,000 workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations or risk being fired. (9/9)
In Australia, Mineral Resources Limited has revealed that recent drilling activity has led to a “significant” gas discovery at the Lockyer Deep 1 project in the onshore Perth Basin. (9/9)
In Western Australia, BP said on Tuesday it was conducting a joint feasibility study with Australian lender Macquarie Group to produce green hydrogen at the oil giant’s former refinery site near Perth. (9/7)
Ecuador, which left OPEC in January 2020 to avoid production quotas, has embarked on an ambitious plan to double its oil output. The tiny Andean nation with a population of nearly 18 million has struggled for years to grow its hydrocarbon sector as a means of bolstering a fragile economy that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with its 2020 gross domestic product shrinking 7.5%. (9/7)
Mexico cut its forecast for oil production by Petroleos Mexicanos next year from 1.867 mb/d (March 31 forecast) to 1.826 mb/day and reduced its tax burden after a string of accidents at offshore platforms signaled the highly indebted state company is struggling. (9/9)
The total US oil rig count rose by 7 to 401 while the gas rig count dropped 1 to 102, Baker Hughes Inc. reported.   The total count is up 249 from the same time last year.  Canada’s overall rig count decreased by 9. Active oil and gas rigs in Canada are now at 143, up 91 on the year. Primary Vision’s Frac Spread Count, which tracks the number of completion crews finishing off previously drilled wells, shows that completion crews stayed at 240 for the week ending September 3. The frac count is up by more than 100 for the year. (9/11)
Exxon Mobil Corp. will offer some of its Permian Basin shale gas for certification by a nonprofit that assesses methane leaks, a move that comes as the oil industry faces unprecedented pressure to clamp down on emissions. (9/9)
Diesel vs. doughnuts: Fuel refiners, including Marathon Petroleum and ExxonMobil, are adding “renewable diesel” to their product mix in response to government incentives for cleaner fuels. The raw materials are typically edible oils extracted from plants or animal fat. The push has alarmed food companies coping with record prices for many edible oils this year. A food company trade group recently met officials at the US EPA to urge lower federal mandates for biofuels. (9/9)
Nukes to be extended? The Illinois legislature on Thursday edged closer to approving a deal that would save two Exelon Corp nuclear power plants from closing beginning on Monday after the House speaker announced his support for an agreement added to a state energy bill. (9/10)
Uranium, the commodity used to fuel nuclear power plants, has surged to a 6-year high due in part to a single fund aggressively cornering the physical market. Investment firm Sprott Inc. earlier this year launched its Physical Uranium Trust and recently commented on Twitter about how much physical uranium it had been buying, aiding to the commodity’s recent bull run. Sprott has amassed over 24 million pounds of uranium, sometimes buying more than 500,000 pounds in a single day. (9/9)
Pollution from coal-fired power stations in Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Montenegro has caused 19,000 deaths in the region over the past three years due to breaches of legally binding limits on harmful emissions. (9/7)
Australia’s coal will significantly contribute to Australia’s economy beyond 2030, given the growth in global demand. The nation’s conservative government has steadfastly backed fossil fuel industries, saying stricter emissions would cost jobs. (9/6)
Recyclable blades: Siemens Gamesa says it has developed the first offshore wind turbine blades that can be fully recycled, potentially resolving an issue long highlighted by the industry’s critics. A 100-meter blade is made of a mixture of materials, including balsa wood, glass, and carbon fiber, and is difficult and costly to reuse. (9/7)
Sustainable aviation fuel: The Biden administration announced a goal Thursday of replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050, setting forth a plan to dramatically boost the production of fuels made from waste or plants to drive down the environmental cost of flying. The use of what is called sustainable aviation fuels is in its infancy, with a handful of refineries in operation around the world. (9/10)
Fast-charging progress: Israel-based StoreDot, the developer of revolutionary fast-charging battery technology for electric vehicles, has demonstrated a prototype 4680 form factor cell that is fully charged in just 10 minutes. StoreDot’s high-speed charging cells have been in development for more than three years. (9/10)
AV: Mobileye, an Intel company, unveiled the 6-passenger, road-ready electric autonomous vehicle (AV) that will be used for commercial driverless ride-hailing services in Tel Aviv and Munich starting in 2022. (9/9)
Ford’s coup: An executive responsible for Apple’s secretive car project has left for Ford in a stinging departure that potentially spells the end of the iPhone maker’s automotive ambitions. (9/9)
EV: Toyota Motor Corp. plans to spend 1.5 trillion yen ($13.7 billion) on the supply and development of batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030, joining other global automakers boosting investments in anticipation of greater demand. (9/7)
H2: Hyundai Motor Group aims to become the world’s first automaker to power all its commercial vehicle models with fuel cell systems by 2028. It seeks to popularize hydrogen vehicles by cutting the cost of the technology. Hyundai has invested heavily in developing hydrogen technology, hoping it will prove more popular than electric power in the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles. (9/7)
In India, Ford Motor Co will stop manufacturing cars and shut down its plants, becoming the latest automaker to quit a market still dominated by Asian rivals. The US automaker decided because it was not profitable for it to continue. (9/9)
More straightforward storage: A new energy storage system comes in a low-tech package: concrete blocks from Energy Vault. Here’s how it works: when renewable energy facilities create excess power, a mechanical crane lifts concrete blocks 35 stories.  When demand outpaces production, the automated crane simply lowers those blocks, and with a bit of help from gravity, the cables spin turbines which generate electricity. These devices can store up to 80 megawatt-hours and will be able to continuously discharge 4 to 8 megawatts for 8 to 16 hours. (9/9)
US climate envoy John Kerry will visit India next week to press the world’s third-biggest source of carbon emissions to step up its efforts to fight climate change. Kerry will meet on September 13 with India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav. ((9/11)
Startups Climeworks and Carbfix are working together to store deep underground carbon dioxide removed from the air. The Orca facility built by Swiss startup Climeworks AG will suck CO₂ out of the air. Icelandic startup Carbfix will then pump it deep into the ground, turning it into stone forever. Of the 16 installations Climeworks has built across Europe, Orca is the only one that permanently disposes of the CO₂ rather than recycling it. The plant will capture 4,000 tons of CO₂ a year, making it the largest direct-air capture facility in the world. (9/9)
Liquefied natural gas shipments tagged “carbon neutral” are gaining popularity among Asian buyers despite criticism that the offsets used to justify the label don’t actually cancel out planet-warming emissions generated by the fossil fuel. (9/9)