A few updates from the intersection of RINs and ethanol. It’s starting to look like there have been physical market reactions to the rising price of RINs.
First of all, the price of RINs, after being enormously volatile a few weeks ago, has quieted down. The price of 2013 corn ethanol RINs has stabilized near 75-80 cents per RIN, though it moved up to almost 90 cents on Tuesday before an EIA report showing rising ethanol output — which if the RIN is ultimately separated from the ethanol by the latter being blended — was at a nine-month high. This is far less than the peak levels of more than a dollar of a few weeks ago, but obviously a lot more than the price of 2012 RINs at the start of the year (before 2013 started trading) of just a few cents. The expectation is that until the EPA finalizes its proposed Renewable Fuel Standard mandate for 2013, the market will mostly bide its time.
via An update from the ethanol/RINs battleground: hitting physical markets « The Barrel Blog.
About a year ago, in the aftermath of the revolution that drove Muammar el-Qaddafi from power in Libya, journalists crowded into a press conference called by the transitional government’s Oil Ministry. Among the reporters was a small contingent of Libyan journalists. Yet it was only the foreigners who peppered a government minister with questions about when production would resume and other issues; the Libyans remained silent.
When colleagues asked the Libyans why they didn’t speak up, the general reply was, “Well, we don’t know what to ask,” said Zara Rahman, a freedom of information expert from the organization OpenOil who attended the event that day. It seems that information about Libya’s oil industry had long been hard to come by locally, leaving the reporters unprepared.
This information deficit, which often works to the benefit of oil companies, is what OpenOil seeks to remedy. Part energy consultancy, part publishing house, the Berlin-based organization focuses on countries with a so-called “resource curse,” meaning that most of their citizens remain poor despite plentiful local oil resources. Information about the dealings between governments and oil companies in such nations is often scarce.
via Fighting the ‘Resource Curse’ – NYTimes.com.
This has been a tough year for the U.S. biofuels industry: drought curtailed corn starch ethanol production and investment in the industry shrank to its lowest level in nearly a decade. Headed into 2013, though, industry momentum appears to be regaining steam. Led by advanced biofuels, the potential for expanding biofuels production has improved dramatically as Washington offers clarity on key policy issues.
Last week, in a vote on partisan lines, the U.S. Senate extended support for the military’s efforts to scale up advanced biofuels production. As reported in Biofuels Digest, it approved an amendment offered by Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina to repeal a section of the annual Defense appropriations bill that would have prohibited “the Secretary of Defense or any other official from the Department of Defense (DoD) from entering into a contract to plan, design, refurbish, or construct a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless such planning, design, refurbishment, or construction is specifically authorized by law.”
via Policy Shifts Signal Growth Ahead for Advanced Biofuels – Forbes.
Companies could cut the running costs of their fleets* by an average of £350,000 and reduce CO2emissions by more than 5% (830 tonnes) each year by replacing just 10% of their current vehicles with electric models. The potential savings were identified in a British Gas study, conducted by TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory. The report found that converting 50% of a fleet to electric vehicles would result in an average annual cost saving of £1,753,000 for companies and reduce CO2 emissions in Britain by around 26% (2,320,000 tonnes).
The report found that some sectors can achieve greater benefits than others from a 10% switch to electric vehicles. Fleets in the financial services sector stand to make the highest average fleet saving at £484,000 a year and could cut annual CO2emissions by 5.7%, or 800 tonnes.
The top five sectors that would benefit from converting their fleet to electric vehicles, according to a combination of percentage cost and CO2savings, are:
• Financial Services
• Emergency Services/NHS Trusts
• Service industries (including IT, Leisure and Media)
• Heavy industries
• Architecture /Construction
via British Study Finds Savings in Switch to Electric Fleet: #evworld.
Much ink has been spilled over whether or not electric vehicles are a cost-effective replacement for conventional cars. Considering their high upfront cost, the return-on-investment isn’t exactly a short-term proposition. But a new study reveals that when it comes to basic maintenance, electric vehicles have the distinct advantage of costing a whole lot less to maintain.
The German study found that on average, EVs, cost about 35% less to maintain over an 8 year period of ownership, which is about on par with how long the average car buyer keeps their vehicle. Critics say the study doesn’t take into account battery pack replacement, but considering that there hasn’t been any EV on the market that long, it is hard to say whether or not that will be an issue yet. With battery pack prices predicted to come down quite a bit in the next few years, it is hard to make an accurate comparison of battery replacement costs right now.
via Study: EVs 35% Cheaper To Maintain Than Comparable Cars – Gas 2.
In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.
Meanwhile, in rural areas, subsistence farmers struggle to find a place to sow their seeds. On a recent morning, José Antonio Alvarado was harvesting his corn crop on the narrow median of Highway 2 as trucks zoomed by.
“We’re farming here because there is no other land, and I have to feed my family,” said Mr. Alvarado, pointing to his sons Alejandro and José, who are 4 and 6 but appear to be much younger, a sign of chronic malnutrition.
Recent laws in the United States and Europe that mandate the increasing use of biofuel in cars have had far-flung ripple effects, economists say, as land once devoted to growing food for humans is now sometimes more profitably used for churning out vehicle fuel.
via In Fields and Markets, Guatemalans Feel Squeeze of Biofuel Demand – NYTimes.com.
As electric cars try to forge more than just a niche in the market, the auto industry is already looking to another form of clean technology that could overtake today’s battery-powered vehicles.
Commitments by automobile manufactures to develop hydrogen fuel-cell cars have surged in recent months. Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler and Honda announced plans to build vehicles that run on the most abundant element in the universe and emit only water vapor as a byproduct.
“A lot of auto makers believe the fuel-cell vehicle is just a better performing vehicle and just makes more sense,” said Kevin See, a senior analyst of electric vehicles at Lux Research in Boston.
A fuel-cell-powered car can travel much longer distances than battery-powered ones before needing to be refueled, and fuel cells can be more readily used in large vehicles like trucks and SUVs.
via Hydrogen fuel-cell cars look to overtake electric autos – CNN.com.
Finally, the U.S. energy independence debate has taken a significant step towards a more serious discussion for what this actually means for Washington’s place in the world. As anyone reading my analysis (not just in Forbes, but around the world) will be aware, I’ve been banging the drum rather too loudly on the downside complexities this could bring for America. Being contrarian is a lonely place compared to pervasive group think that constitutes the ‘trans-Atlantic energy debate’ these days, but it never ceases to amaze me once the penny drops, how quickly analytical outliers become mainstream questions everyone asks. Cue Dan Yergin’s FT op-ed over the weekend, ‘US Energy Is Changing The World Again’. Get past all the normal stuff on American oil and gas gains, and Mr. Yergin finally poses some interesting conundrums:
‘It is still far from clear how this shift will affect the strategic balance in the Gulf and the Middle East and US engagement – especially given the rising tension over Iran’s nuclear programme and the instability throughout the region. The debate about these considerations will be stirred by America’s future fiscal negotiations. But the question will not really be addressed until the crisis with Iran is resolved. One geopolitical impact is already clear. Rising US oil production, along with increased Saudi output, has helped provide offsetting supplies that have made the sanctions on Iranian oil much more successful than anticipated a year ago.
via U.S. Energy Independence: A Small Sanity Check – Forbes.
The European Union backed down Monday from a plan to levy carbon emission surcharges on international flights entering or exiting the Continent.
Monday’s move came in the face of strong protests from the Obama administration, India, China and other nations that have protested the Emissions Trading System, or ETS, calling the tax an attack on sovereignty.
The EU instituted the unilateral plan in hopes of forcing a trade agreement.
But Monday’s surprise announcement from the European Commission for Climate Action appeared to be aimed at averting a global trade war.
Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the EU is hopeful an international agreement can be hammered out.
“I’ve just recommended in a telephone conference with the 27 member states that the EU ‘stops the clock,’” Ms. Hedegaard said. Her proposal still awaits approval from parliaments and ministers.
She warned that unless the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations, approves a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by next year, the tax will be reinstated.
via EU backs down on airline carbon tax – Washington Times.
When a suped-up Lotus Exige broke the UK land-speed record for electric vehicles at an astonishing 151mph, it blasted away the preconception that electric cars were glorified milk floats.
Consumer psychologists at London Metropolitan University are now working to debunk further myths about electric cars and reposition them in the mind of the consumer.
Research by Dr Louise Bunce, Lecturer in Psychology, reveals many of the 340 motorists tested as part of a three month UK trial, now prefer electric vehicles to traditional petrol-power.
“Despite initial skepticism, drivers quickly adapted to the vehicles and were extremely positive about aspects of its performance, including its acceleration and speed,” Dr Bunce said.
“Drivers soon discovered that recharging their vehicle was more convenient than having to stop en-route to refuel at a petrol station. Not to mention, it costs around a mere £2 to go 100 miles.
via UK Researchers Rewriting Electric Car Psychology: #evworld.