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The thorny decision to remove hydro dams

Dealing with only one side of an issue – whether it’s migrating fish or electric cars – can generate more problems than it solves Economists often…

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This article was originally published by Canadian Investor

Dealing with only one side of an issue – whether it’s migrating fish or electric cars – can generate more problems than it solves

Economists often talk about over-constrained problems. These are situations where there are so many goals to be reached and/or so many limitations that it’s impossible to find a solution that meets all requirements.

Contrast this with advice often given to politicians to never talk about anything that can’t be fully described on a bumper sticker. Our desire for simple problems with easy solutions often runs headlong into the convoluted complexity of the real world. One such situation was described in the Economist of July 10.

It concerns the Klamath River, which flows from Oregon down through northern California. Dams on this river could generate enough hydroelectric power to provide for 140,000 homes, although only half of that is being produced. The dams have also produced artificial lakes where water is stored.

This should all be good news for those who are concerned about the environment and global warming. Hydro power is clean, renewable and emission free. The lakes behind the dams provide an easily accessible source of water to the aircraft that fight the forest fires that have been plaguing California through its long, ongoing drought. Other sources of water to fight the fires are not as plentiful or easily accessible.

But it’s not all good news. Indigenous groups and others have noted a reduction in salmon and other fish in the waters below dams. They blame this on the fact that dams prevent migratory fish from swimming up river to spawn. Food fishing, commercial fishing and sport fishing are all hurt when fish stocks are diminished.

There’s a relatively simple though not necessarily cheap solution for the migratory fish. Put in fish ladders. Such devices are often used to enable fish to avoid impediments on their traditional upriver routes to reach their spawning grounds. Such ladders exist for part but not all of the river. Fish cannons provide a similar function, although this solution has been rejected.

Instead, some groups have been damning the dams as anthropologic interference with the natural world. Their solution is to destroy the dams and drain the lakes above them.

Surprisingly, both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and PacifiCorp, the power company that operates the dams and generates the hydro power, are prepared to demolish four of six dams next year.

How will the current and future potential supply of electricity that the dams could generate be replaced?

No problem, according to PacifiCorp. They have other sources of power. Unfortunately, that power is generated by burning coal. Instead of clean, green hydro power, the lights and air conditioners will be kept on by burning the dirtiest and most polluting of carbon-based fuels.

Draining the artificial lakes won’t be a happy return to a simpler, more natural state. Indigenous burial grounds under the lakes have been protected by the water. Exposing them would leave them open to desecration and the theft of artifacts.

Removing the dams will cost close to half a billion dollars, with about 50 per cent of that being provided by government – taxpayers. The remainder will be paid for in the form of higher electricity costs.

No doubt the proponents of demolition are feeling both virtuous and victorious. They’re improving the prospects for fish and bringing the Klamath River area closer to its original natural state, even though they rejected the less damaging alternatives of fish ladders or fish cannons.

Are they aware that the resulting higher electricity costs will impact everyone in the area, including those on low incomes? Do they realize that this will increase coal burning, pollution and global warming?

Probably not.

It’s surprising that governments or their agencies didn’t make people aware of the negative impacts of removing a major source of clean power. The demand for electricity is rapidly growing.

Global warming increases both the need and demand for air conditioning. The major heat dome in Western Canada in June saw power demand during the month exceed peak electricity use in our cold winters.

Electric vehicles will reduce the use of carbon-based gasoline. Now chargers for those vehicles are being installed in public places and private residential buildings. BC Hydro is already wondering where it will get the additional power to meet this increased demand.

Dealing with only one side of an issue – whether it’s migrating fish or electric cars – can generate more problems than it solves. We need to look at the whole complicated, messy picture and analyze all the costs and benefits of any potential solutions.

By Roslyn Kunin
Columnist
Troy Media

Troy Media columnist Roslyn Kunin is a consulting economist and speaker.

© Troy Media

Energy & Critical Metals

Daimler Truck’s powertrain plants in Germany will produce electric drive components

Following intensive talks, Daimler Truck AG and the Works Council have agreed that the three powertrain sites in Gaggenau, Kassel and Mannheim will specialize…

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Following intensive talks, Daimler Truck AG and the Works Council have agreed that the three powertrain sites in Gaggenau, Kassel and Mannheim will specialize in different components for electrified drives.

In the future, they will drive the global production of battery-electric and hydrogen-based drive systems in a production and technology network for electric drive components and battery systems, together with the sister plant in Detroit. Significant additional investments in future technologies at the Daimler Truck powertrain plants will drive technological change.


  • The Mercedes-Benz plant in Gaggenau, which specializes in heavy-duty commercial vehicle transmissions, will develop into a competence center for electric drive components as well as the assembly of hydrogen-based fuel cell drive components.

  • The Mercedes-Benz plant in Kassel is expanding its current focus on commercial vehicle axles and will become a competence centre for electric drive systems.

  • The Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim, specialized in commercial verhicle engines, is drawing on the more than 25 years of experience of the Competence Center for Emission-free Mobility (KEM) located at the plant and is focusing on battery technologies and high-voltage-systems.

Important scopes for alternative drives, such as the production of electrically driven axle systems, e-motors and inverters, as well as the assembly of fuel cell systems, will be integrated into the powertrain plants in the future, in addition to investments in the reprocessing and recycling of battery systems.

Our industry is undergoing a transformation toward CO2-neutral trucks. Since conventional drive systems will also be with us for some years to come, we are focusing the future orientation of our powertrain plants primarily on flexibility, cost-effectiveness and very well-trained employees. This had to be reconciled in our negotiations with the Works Council. With the production and technology network for electric drive components and battery systems in conjunction with the competence centers at the plants, we have succeeded in doing so. In this way, we are creating optimum conditions for maximum competitiveness for our plants and at the same time laying the foundations for a successful future.

—Yaris Pürsün, Head of Global Powertrain Operations Daimler Truck

Another element of the technology network for electric drive components and battery systems are the innovation laboratories (InnoLabs). In addition to the competence centers, these are being set up at all plants. They specialize in innovative production processes, new technologies and products.

The aim of the InnoLabs is to close the gap between prototype production and series development. Series start-ups are thus to be prepared with maximum efficiency so that products can be transferred from the prototype phase to series production as quickly as possible. With the InnoLab Battery located at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim, Daimler Truck AG will establish its own pilot battery cell production and thus lay an important foundation stone for future competence in battery technology.

In its transformation toward CO2-neutral transportation, Daimler Truck is focusing on two all-electric drive technologies: battery and hydrogen-based fuel cell. With these, every customer application can be covered with full flexibility in terms of routes—from well-plannable, urban distribution transport to multi-day transports that are difficult to plan. Which solution is used by the customer depends on the specific application.

As the first battery-electric truck, the Mercedes-Benz eActros for routes in distribution transport will go into series production at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth in October 2021, followed by the eEconic next year. The battery-electric eActros LongHaul for long-distance transport will follow from the middle of the decade. Key components be manufactured at the powertrain plants in the future.

In addition to the products, the powertrain plants are to become CO2-neutral from 2022, just like all other European Daimler Truck plants. This will be made possible, among other things, by a green power concept at Daimler: CO2-free power procurement from renewable energy sources will form the basis for CO2-neutral production. As part of this, the sites will purchase electricity from wind and solar farms as well as hydropower plants from 2022 onwards. On the way to becoming green production sites, the Mercedes-Benz powertrain plants are also to operate CO2-free in the long term by successively establishing fully renewable energy systems over the next few years.

The sister plant in Detroit, which is part of the global production network for powertrain components, will continue to strengthen its role in the US market and, as a competence center for electric powertrain components, make an important contribution to shaping sustainable transportation in the American market.

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Energy & Critical Metals

Tata Steel contracts for 27 electric trucks for transportation of finished steel in India

As part of its sustainability initiative, Tata Steel is partnering with an Indian start-up to deploy electric trucks for its steel transportin India. This…

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As part of its sustainability initiative, Tata Steel is partnering with an Indian start-up to deploy electric trucks for its steel transportin India. This marks the first use of EVs by any steel producer in the country for transportation of finished steel.


The electric trucks feature a 230.4 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack with a cooling system and a battery management system giving it capability to operate at ambient temperatures upto 60 °C (140 °F). The battery pack will be powered by a 160-kWh charger setup which would be able to charge the battery from 0 to 100% in 90 min. With zero tail-pipe emission, each electric vehicle would reduce the GHG footprint by more than 125 tCO2e every year.

Tata Steel has contracted for 27 EVs, each with a carrying capacity 35 tonnes of steel (minimum capacity). The company plans to deploy 15 EVs at its Jamshedpur plant and 12 EVs at its Sahibabad plant. The first set of EVs for Tata Steel are being put in operation between Tata Steel BSL’s Sahibabad Plant and Pilkhuwa Stockyard in Uttar Pradesh.

At a virtual ceremony organized on July 29, Tata Steel formally flagged-off the loaded vehicle at the Pilkhuwa Stockyard to move to the Sahibabad plant, 38 km away.

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Energy & Critical Metals

Tesla Is Hiking Prices In The U.S. While Slashing Them In China

Tesla Is Hiking Prices In The U.S. While Slashing Them In China

After posting its most recent earnings "beat", Tesla is taking on two starkly…

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Tesla Is Hiking Prices In The U.S. While Slashing Them In China

After posting its most recent earnings "beat", Tesla is taking on two starkly different strategies for its U.S. and its China business. 

In the United States, the automaker is raising prices in an attempt to boost profit margins, while in China it is keeping prices steady in what is likely an attempt to drum up more demand, Reuters reported

So far, Tesla has raised the price of its Model 3 and Model Y "about a dozen times" in the U.S. this year, the report notes. At the same time, the company also introduced an affordable version of its Model Y in China.

Tesla isn't just facing increased scrutiny in China from its citizens and the government, but is also running face-first into a wall of Chinese EV competitors. 

Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein has questioned demand in China as a result of the introduction of the lower priced Model Y. He has said that the model "may make sustained margin improvement difficult". Chinese owners were "were less enthusiastic and had lower repurchase intentions than owners in the United States and Europe," a Bernstein survey recently showed.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Tesla continues to raise the price of its Model Y long range, which is now priced at $53,990. In China, the more affordable Model Y is priced at $42,394.

Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin told Reuters: "I think Tesla is looking to be as competitive as it can be in China. Lower prices will be a part of that aggressive market positioning. There is a very large difference in battery prices in the U.S. and China, as well as local vehicle manufacturing costs."

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett added: "It wasn't so long ago that the group was trimming prices in the U.S. to gain scale and maximize profitability, and it feels like we're now seeing that in China too."

Gene Munster at Loup Ventures attests that the lower prices in China could "have a lasting effect" for the company in the country: "Teslas are on average 3x the cost of a typical EV made in China so they have to be priced less than the U.S. to compete. Prices of Teslas in China will be below (the) rest of the world for the next decade."

Tesla's market share in China has fallen to 11% in the battery electric vehicle market. China makes up 44% of the global EV market. 

 

 

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 07/30/2021 - 10:36
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