About to hit $19.
Only 3% of cubans own cars and they are all late 1950's U.S, cars. Relaxing trade sanctions could increase the car ownership and gasoline consumption 10-fold. Could put a good dent in the current over supply of oil.
Basically, the number of motor vehicles per 1,000 people is 32 (as of 1997)...but it has increased now.
A given number of vehicles recorded from 1985:
cars 206,300 (1985), trucks and buses 172,800 (1985)
If Cuba is allowed to import our cars, that will create millions of new drivers, creating a new market for the excess oil supply.
Obama speaks at noon about relaxing relations with Cuba and 2:00 Fed speaks.
Cuba to greatly expand Cuban access to the internet. Also allowing import of telecommunications to build out infrastructure.
First time since 1962-this has to be good for the market. Obama speaks at noon.
With high levels of output from the US and no sign of a sustained economic recovery in Europe, most experts believe prices will remain low for the foreseeable future.
However, the low cost of crude may also make investment in some new wells uneconomical - which means prices could rise in the longer term.
Goldman Sachs has estimated that about $930m of investment in new oil projects could be hit, given the recent plunge in oil prices.
Without this investment, new oil output could be cut by about 7.5 million barrels a day by 2025, or about 8% of current demand, the bank estimates.
Moreover, even banks are also turning extremely optimistic about the future of solar power in the U.S. According to a Deutsche Bank report, by 2016, solar power will be cheaper than grid power in almost 36 states, and this number could be 47 if federal credits are included.
(click to enlarge)
Figure 4: Cost Of Solar Power vis a vis grid power
UCS projects that for more than half the states, as shown in Figure 4 above, solar power will be cheaper than utility power. In addition, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and SolarCity have recently formed a new investment program for financing an estimated $400 million in solar power projects in 2014 and 2015 alone. This is a part of the 10-year, $50 billion environmental business goal announced by the Bank of America in 2012.
Basher fear monger. You don't own this. I wish you bought it 6 months ago. You would deserve the pain you are enjoying others experience.
Russia just raised interest rates to 17% from 10.5%.
According to a statement from Russia's central bank, Russia has taken its key interest rate to 17% from 10.5% in a stunning decision made after the collapse of the ruble on Monday.
The Bank of Russia's statement said the decision was driven by the need to limit significant devaluation in the ruble and inflation risks.
The announcement was made at 1 a.m. local time in Moscow.
Last Thursday, Russia hiked rates to 10.5% from 8% in an effort to combat inflation, which rose 9.1% year on year in November.
This surprise announcement from Russia comes after the ruble got absolutely crushed on Monday, losing more than 10% of its value against the US dollar, as the ruble fell to below 64 against the dollar on Monday; earlier this year, one dollar bought about 35 rubles.
Russia's Micex stock exchange also fell by about 10% on Monday as the financial situation in that country continues to deteriorate amid the declining price of oil and the devaluation of its currency.
And earlier this month, Russia's economy ministry projected GDP would contract by 0.8% in 2015. In other words, Russia is falling into recession.
While engineers build cheaper and more efficient solar panels to soak up more of the sun's rays, it's storage that needs a breakthrough so that solar energy can be used when the sun's not shining. Batteries, at least those we have today, just aren't cutting it. "We need to find a way to store massive amounts of electrical energy," says Michael Aziz, a professor of energy technologies at Harvard University. "That's the single biggest obstacle to getting a large fraction of our electricity from solar power."
Aziz and his colleagues turned to fuel cells for inspiration. Fuel cells power space capsules and aircraft, capitalizing on reactions that convert the chemical energy in small organic molecules like methanol into electricity. Aziz figured that if he could craft a fuel cell that also runs in reverse—essentially converting energy back into chemical reactants—the resulting flow battery could store solar power using inexpensive, organic fuel.
Inorganic, metal ion-based flow batteries have been in use since the 1980s. These older models were constructed as tanks filled with vanadium ions, and could be customized to deliver more hours of energy by simply increasing the amount of vanadium in a storage tank. Unfortunately, vanadium isn't cheap.
"If all you have to do is increase the size of the storage chemicals, that's fine—until you have to pay for the chemicals," Aziz says.
His team found a less expensive alternative in the form of quinones—small organic molecules that help rhubarb plants store energy. "In photosynthesis, quinones are known to recharge over and over again with high efficiency," Aziz says. While vanadium flow batteries cost almost 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, Aziz says that his quinone-based flow batteries may ultimately cost as little as 1/4 of a cent per kilowatt hour.
But quinone flow batteries are not the only recent advances in the struggle to store sunlight. "There are lots of clever people doing lots of clever things in the battery business," says Tom Meyer, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina.
Last week, Meyer announced a new strategy—converting solar energy to hydrogen, instead of electricity. The key to Meyer's method is water: "You start out with water and just break it into its elemental form," he says, "then collect that hydrogen in a tank and then burn it at night."
Although Meyer's team is currently working with water, he hopes to extend his project to power homes while reducing our carbon footprint. Meyer's ambitious plan involves using solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into methanol, its combustive cousin. At night, a power plant would burn that methanol as fuel, converting it back into carbon dioxide, which it would capture and store for later. The next time the sun came out, the process would begin again, effectively recycling carbon—and potentially reducing harmful emissions.
"It's still a research project," Meyer cautions. "But it's knocking on the door to go to the next stage."
Other methods of storing solar power for a rainy day involve converting the sun's energy into heat, which is then captured in thermal storage tanks. Abengoa, a renewable energy firm based in Spain, has already built several solar plants that store excess energy in molten salt, which can absorb extremely high temperatures without changing state. Abengoa recently secured yet another contract to build a salt-based 110 mega-watt solar storage plant in Chile, which should be able to store 17 hours of energy in reserve.
Between these novel technologies for storing sunlight, will solar power eventually negate the need for fossil fuels? "It's hard to imagine it going down to zero," Aziz says. "[But] I foresee a future where we can use this technology to vastly cut down on fossil fuel use," he says.
Sun Edison to invest more than $700 million in projects! You gotta spend money to make money.
This is great news!
ELMONT, Calif., Dec. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- SunEdison, Inc. (SUNE), a leading solar technology manufacturer and provider of solar energy services, today announced that the National Energy Commission in Chile has awarded SunEdison a contract to supply 570 gigawatt hours of clean energy a year. To meet the demand, SunEdison will be investing more than $700 million USD to develop 350 megawatts of utility scale solar photovoltaic power plants throughout the country. The plants will be added to the call right list of TerraForm Power, Inc. (TERP), a global owner and operator of renewable energy power plants.
Electricity generated by SunEdison's solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants is now 10%-25% lower cost – without subsidies or incentives of any kind – than electricity generated by fossil fuels in Chile. The National Energy Commission in Chile recently changed the bidding process used to award electricity supply contracts for the regulated market to create a more level playing field across different kinds of energy. With these changes, SunEdison was able to bid on and win supply contracts for 570 gigawatt hours of solar energy. SunEdison was awarded the provision of 190 gigawatt hours per year during the daytime block which begins in 2016 and a further provision of 380 gigawatt hours per during the daytime block which will become operational in 2017. The solar energy generated through SunEdison's 350 megawatts utility scale projects will be purchased by the National Energy Commission under 15 year power purchase agreements.
"This project demonstrates SunEdison's ability to provide innovative energy solutions and compete on equal footing in the Chilean regulated market," stated Jose Perez, president of SunEdison for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. "Without incentives or subsidies of any kind, solar energy is 10-25% more affordable than imported fossil fuels in Chile. This bid represents a portfolio of strategic projects for SunEdison that will help diversify the energy mix of the Chilean grid and will help resolve the country's energy supply deficit using clean, sustainable renewable energy at competitive electricity prices." Perez added: "This award allows us to continue our steady growth as the leading renewable energy developer in Chile and Latin America."
"We are proud to partner with SunEdison to make this milestone event in energy provision in Chile a reality, and we're pleased to continue to expand our portfolio of renewable energy assets in high quality energy markets," said Carlos Domenech, president and chief executive officer of TerraForm Power. "As we acquire these power plants over the next several years, we will adding to our substantial base of facilities with high-quality, long-term power purchase agreements that are not affected by fossil fuel price changes. Contracts like these demonstrate the cost advantage that solar and wind generation has established over conventional generation in many markets. Lower oil prices will not reverse this advantage and we expect it to continue to drive rapid growth in the deployment of renewables."
Reuters 06:00 12/15/14
A plan to limit fossil-fuel pollution in all nations for the first time came a step closer as envoys from more than 190 countries agreed on the key parts of a deal they plan to adopt next year to fight global warming.
After two weeks of discussions in Peru organized by the United Nations, the diplomats agreed on the detail of pledges from all nations on curbing greenhouse gases. Richer countries gave an assurance they’re on track to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate aid by 2020.
The decision sets the framework for a landmark agreement the UN intends to adopt in December 2015 in Paris that will rein in the emissions damaging the atmosphere. It included last-minute concessions to some of the poorest nations in the world, who are concerned the system will impose costly and painful changes on their economies.
“We are on track for an ambitious and equitable Paris agreement,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of climate programs at the World Resources Institute in Washington, an advocacy group. “What you’re seeing is the emergence of a new form of international cooperation on global climate change.”
The talks in Lima are part of a process started three years ago to apply pollution limits in all nations instead of just the industrialized countries covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Since that treaty was signed in 1997, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest emitter, and India became third. Both are classified as developing countries exempt from restrictions.
Countries agreed on what information they’ll provide to back up the goals they’ll put on paper for reining in emissions. The biggest polluters have turned the work into a mostly voluntary system -- and some such as India may be allowed to keep levels rising.
“Although the EU wanted a more ambitious outcome from Lima, we beieve we are on track to agree a global deal in Paris next year,” said Miguel Arias Canete, the European Union’s climate and energy commissioner.
This year’s p
Solar Stocks Dive With Oil Prices; CEOs See No Link
Solar stocks have plummeted in tandem with oil prices in recent months, yet some solar company executives and analysts wonder why.
SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) CEO Lyndon Rive doesn't see a fundamental correlation between oil prices and the solar industry.
"I think people put energy in one big bucket, and oil, of course, falls into the energy bucket," Rive told IBD. "But you have to look at how electricity is generated. In the U.S., almost no oil is used to create electricity."
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SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) CEO Tom Werner sees it the same way.
"The price of oil has almost nothing to do with the future demand (of solar)," Werner said.
Oil that's turned into gasoline to fuel cars may have little to do with the solar industry, but Rive and others acknowledge the solar sector's sensitivity to oil prices.
Solar stocks fell by approximately 25% from early September to Dec. 3, matching a 25% fall in oil prices over the same period, said Josh Baribeau, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity.
Overall, oil prices have fallen about 46% since hitting $107 a barrel in June. Economists say the underlying reason is a mix of concerns about sluggish consumption growth, OPEC's recent decision to maintain production at the current level, Mideast violence and strong supply from North American shale fields.
Oil prices on Dec. 12 fell to $57.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest level since May 2009. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell to $62 a barrel.
For solar industry bellwethers such as SolarCity, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), SunPower and SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE), there have been significant declines in stock in recent months.
SolarCity is down 26% over the past three months, First Solar 40%, SunPower 37% and SunEdison 8%. Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) stock has fallen 39%.
Shawn Qu, CEO of Canadian Solar, said "demand for solar energy is and will not be affected by oil price change," noting that 39% of U.S. electricity is coal-generated, 27% comes from natural gas, 19% from nuclear, 7% hydro, 6% renewables and 1% oil.
The sell-off has affected solar stocks in Asia as well. Chinese solar players ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) down 59%, Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL) has declined 36%, and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) fell 12%.
Solar and oil are sometimes correlated in periods of market distress, but Baribeau sees no fundamental correlation. Natural gas and coal would be "more relevant metrics" because those fuels account for considerably more electricity generation worldwide, he said.
"We have never liked the psychological correlation between solar stocks and oil, but it exists to some degree," Baribeau said.
Rive said natural gas and coal may have more of an effect on the cost of electricity than oil, but in the end the cost has less to do with the actual fuel source and more with the infrastructure required. Natural gas prices have dropped, for instance, but electricity prices haven't declined in unison, Rive said.
"It's mainly in transmission and distribution — the aging infrastructure that has been around for 100 years that needs to be upgraded," Rive said. "Those upgrades far exceed any of the benefits that you're gaining from the low cost of natural gas."
To illustrate the point that virtually no oil is used to create electricity, Rive said if oil dives to $50, it would still have almost zero effect on the cost of electricity.
"But the opposite is true, too," Rive said. "If oil went up to $150 it would also have almost zero effect on the cost of electricity. What moves the cost of electricity is transmission and distribution infrastructure. It's definitely not oil."
With gasoline under $3 a gallon nationwide, consumers may have less of an incentive to leap to plug-in cars, which tap the grid. While insignificant now, plug-ins could be a major player down the road. Cheap oil makes that less likely in the mid-term. All-electric Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock is down 29% from its Sept. 4 peak — though that's a smaller decline than many solar stocks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is SolarCity's chairman and top shareholder.
The dropoff in oil prices also could slow the shift to natural gas vehicle fleets, from cars and buses to garbage trucks. That means more natural gas for electricity-fired plants, which already have benefited from a rise in natural gas production.
Analysts and solar executives see another reason for the drop in solar stocks in line with oil stocks. Some mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) hold both solar and oil company shares. As oil prices fall and investors unload shares, some energy-based mutual funds and ETFs are affected as fund managers sells both solar stocks and oil company stocks.
The Guggenheim Solar ETF (ARCA:TAN) has declined 26% in the past three months.
Solar fundamentals are driven mostly by government policies and natural gas prices in most major markets, Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah said in an email. He forecasts strong solar demand in the U.S., China, and India next year.
The U.S. market is especially well-insulated from falling oil prices as local electricity prices are unlikely to drop any time soon, Shah said.
On Friday, however, natural gas futures edged up further after weather forecasts called for colder temperatures in late December that could drive demand for heating.
Natural gas futures for delivery in January rose 4.5% Friday at $3.798 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid forecasts for colder temperatures later this month. But prices have fallen 20% from Nov. 20, near 2014 lows, amid a tepid demand outlook and general energy pessimism.
Analysts say as oil investors lose money, they may opt to sell other holdings to raise cash, and natural gas is a popular target for liquidation.
Meanwhile, the U.S. solar market continues to grow, with 1,354 megawatts of solar photovoltaics installed in the third quarter, up 41% compared with a year earlier, the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research reported this month.
U.S. utility-scale solar developers installed 825 megawatts, up from 540 MW from the same period a year ago. U.S. residential installers added more than 300 MW. That brings the U.S. cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1 gigawatts.
Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, attributed the solar industry growth to public policies such as a 30% federal solar investment tax credit, renewable portfolio standards and net energy metering.
"Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project," Resch said.
Still, in the 12 months through September, utility-scale solar power generated 16.73 million megawatt-hours, just 0.41% of total U.S. electricity, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.
Globally, solar PV demand is expected to grow to 49 gigawatts this year, up from 36 GW in 2013, according to NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly.
"This growth is being driven by leading module suppliers and project developers that returned to profitability during 2013, and which have now established highly effective global sales and marketing networks," said NPD Solarbuzz analyst Finlay Colville.
Total solar PV demand from the five leading Asia Pacific markets — China, Japan, India, Australia and Thailand — is forecast to reach 17.2 GW in the second half of 2014, almost 60% of global solar PV demand.
China has set a goal of installing 50 GW by 2018 — enough to power 8.2 million homes.
Michael Barker, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, expects China to install more than 100 GW by 2018, and at least eight other countries to have more than 5 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity installed. He expects more than 30 countries will top the 1 GW capacity mark by 2018.