People buy hybrids for a variety of reasons: to save money on gas, reduce environmental harms, or project an image as a socially-conscious driver. But on a pure economics basis, are hybrids really the way to go? Does using less gas actually translate into real savings over the life of a hybrid?
The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a contract with a 250 MW PV plant. It’s on tribal land, and according to this article, the tribe is pleased with the economics of the deal.
Ratepayers should also be pleased. This contract adds 2.9% renewables to LADWPs mix, and at a price of 9.1 cents/kWh. Read the details, here (pdf).
To simplify where we are as a civilization and where we’re going with respect to energy consumption, economics, and environmentalism, it’s useful to postulate three broad “plans”:
Plan A: We continue on our current course. We ignore the fact that our population will soon be
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. That’s the way I feel when I read something as stupid as this article in Automotive News Europe:
TURIN – Chrysler Group LLC will lose more than $10,000 on every battery-powered Fiat 500 its sells, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says. That heavy financial hit won’t stop the automaker from launching
Economic growth is such an established mantra in political and economic circles that it can seem almost outlandish to question it. Tim Jackson not only questions it but affirms we can do better without it. His book Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, published last year, is based on a report he wrote earlier in the year as Economics Commissioner of the Sustainable Development Commission, the U.K. Government’s independent watchdog.
The prosperity Jackson writes of is our ability to flourish as human beings. It transcends material concern. It has to do with such matters as physical and mental health, access to education, relationships and sense of community, meaningful employment and the ability to participate in the life of society. He argues that in the developed countries we can (and must) have such prosperity without the economic growth paradigm that currently rules our thinking.
Jackson recognises the difficulties of the situation we have landed ourselves with. On the one hand growth is unsustainable, at least in its current form. The burgeoning consumption of finite resources and the heavy costs being imposed on the environment are accompanied by profound disparities in social well-being.
Gordon Brown’s trip to the Middle East was a clear example that non oil exporting states are still very much affected by OPEC’s decisions. While OPEC nations continue to brazenly collude consumers have passed the tipping point and have made concerted efforts to cut OPEC’s impact out of the equation. Consumers have seen the impact on their economy and environment. Politicians have now realized that we will vote for them if they highlight their green credentials, and we know that by supporting locally sourced energy we are developing local employment and business opportunities.
The reality is that it will be hard to finance projects that are purely based on predictions for increasing prices. What green investments need are the foresight of people and entities that believe that their technology will yield considerable margins even under low oil prices – in the future if not immediately. These investors are out there; BP (formerly British Petroleum and now “Beyond Petroleum”) and Chevron have already shown a push towards becoming broader energy companies by investing in solar, geothermal and biofuel concerns. Companies like Monsanto beginning to play in the BioFuels game. Cynics might tout that this is good for marketing, and it is – but these companies understand investment in research and development. They have an appetite for risk, exploration is not cheap, and investing in exploration of different technologies as opposed to new oil wells has a similar cash flow profile.