Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

BTW, clicking on most charts will produce the original-sized, i.e., bigger version.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tesla Model 3 exceeds 4000 per week

From a commenter at the Tesla Motor Club (hat tip to CleanTechnica)

Report from Freemont on Model 3 Production line 5/13/2018 (midday):

* 4290- Last 7 days production of M3
* 638- Last 24hrs production of M3

The last line shutdown/retooling had a significant improvement on the speed of the M3 line. Everything is working in conjunction like intended and no bottlenecks anywhere. The upcoming May line shutdown for retooling is going to be much shorter than past, and currently scheduled for May 26-27th weekend. Shutdown could get moved up if production continues to increase at its current rate. The sentiment from the line is 5k sustained is pretty much guaranteed and 6k before end of June is very likely. Bottom line is I was told this is as good as Tesla employees have felt about the M3 production since production began.

This is not inconsistent with Bloomberg's Tesla Model 3 tracker, nor with Musk's comments in a leaked staff email.  However, over the last week fewer VINs were registered (possibly because of another scheduled shut down of the assembly line towards the end of the month), so Bloomberg's model predicts fewer assemblies next week and the week after.

Source: Bloomberg

I reiterate: by end June Tesla will have achieved at least a week of 5000+ model 3 production.  By end of Q4, they'll be running at 7000 a week.  Some of these will be directed to Canada and other international markets, but even assuming 20% are exported, US sales of the Model 3 alone will be running at double the rate of sales of all EVs in the US in 2017 (3800 per week.) 

The royal wedding's ..... EV

Yep, I watched it.  Excuse a sentimental elderly bloke.

There have been many malicious comments about Meghan's race, gleefully promoted by the gutter press in the UK, and I liked the quiet way the royal family made it clear what they thought about that: a black gospel group sang, a black primate (head of the Episcopalian church in the US) delivered the sermon, the Queen's black (and female) personal chaplain made a prayer, and a young black cellist played (he's justly been compared to Jacqueline du Pre). 

Now, the dress(es) did nothing for me.  But I liked this:

The couple then rode off into the sunset toward their final private reception at Frogmore House, a 17th century English country house, in a silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero which was originally manufactured in 1968 and now runs on electricity.

The car’s number plate bore the date of the wedding - E190518.

The conversion to an EV was apparently done by the Jaguar company itself.  And you can buy one if you've got $500,000.  (The car was hired by the Prince, not bought, so it cost him a bit less).  Note that the steering wheel is on the 'wrong' side for the UK. It has a top speed of 150mph/240 kph, and a range of 270 kms.  How beautiful it is!

The royal family can't make or change legislation.  But they can still make some very pointed comments.  And the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did, bless them.

Solar: No possible doubt whatever

Of that there is no manner of doubt-- 
No probable, possible shadow of doubt-- 
No possible doubt whatever.

[The Gondoliers.  G & S's gentle mockery of hereditary monarchy.]

From Tony Seba's latest speech:

Solar's cost has been falling by 11% a year for 4 decades.

In recent years the cost decline appears to be even faster.  4 years ago, solar cost 8 cents/kWh ($80/MWh) and in sunny places it now costs < 1.8 cents/kWh ($18/MWh)  Unsubsidised.

Not only is solar now often the cheapest source of energy, in many geographies it is cheaper than the operating costs of coal and gas.  In 80% of global markets the cost of solar is below grid parity, i.e., below the retail price of electricity.  And that ignores potential technological wild cards, such as the new perovskite solar which can be easily manufactured by ordinary glass factories and is as cheap as glass.

In consequence, installed solar capacity has been doubling every 2 years since 1990. Currently, solar PV provides about 2% of the world's electricity.  In 5 doublings--10 years--it could provide 64% of the world's electricity.  Of course, the growth rate will slow as supply reaches saturation.  And it is limited by the cost of storage.  The next few doublings in solar won't be a problem for grid stability,  but after 16% (i.e., in 2024) a rapid increase in storage will be essential.

Fortunately,  the cost of batteries is plunging.  If battery costs fall 16% per annum, that means they will decline by 60% in 5 years.

In fact, since 2010, the rate of decline in battery costs has further accelerated to 20% per annum.  This means battery costs halve every 3 years.  In 6 years, battery storage will cost 25% --or less--of what it does now.  The cost of 24 hours of storage for an average household will be below $1 a day.

I've sliced and diced Seba's arguments, and I strongly recommend you watch the whole presentation.

There are some very clear conclusions:

  • The moral of the story is that by 2024 storage costs will not be an impediment to solar reaching 64% of total global electricity supply.  
  • Solar will provide something like half our power within 10 years. The rest will be provided by wind and water, wind especially in higher latitudes.
  • The grid will have substantial battery backup both at grid level and behind the meter.  In fact battery storage will be ubiquitous.
  • Coal is finished.  Any new coal power stations built now will be stranded assets within a decade or less.  Given that they are supposed to last 30 years, that will be financially disastrous.  
  • High quality coal will still be needed (for now) for making iron and steel.  Low quality coal mines are another lost cause. 
  • Countries which insist on staying with coal will face much more expensive electricity than those which ditch it.
  • Peaking gas plants are in trouble too.  Batteries are faster and cheaper, and will get cheaper still.
  • If you add in the explosive growth of EVs (sales doubling every 18 months), CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels will start to fall rapidly within 5 or 6 years.  Not because governments and the elite have suddenly turned green, but because of sheer selfish motives by millions of energy users.
  • The carbon bubble is a serious risk to world financial markets.
  • Utilities will face a big decline in demand from households and businesses with their own rooftops (blocks of flats and office blocks are different.)  It will be cheaper for them to install rooftop solar and batteries than to use grid electricity. In fact, the cost of the grid alone will be more than the costs of (distributed) solar and storage.  That means that even if generation costs zero, it would still pay households/small businesses to install their own solar/battery combo.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Even Republicans like renewables

As y'all know, the divide between left and right on the issue of climate change seems unbridgeable, and the chasm is widest in the USA.

Yet, amazingly, both Republicans and Democrats are strongly in favour of wind and solar, even though they just as strongly disagree about whether there's global warming and what causes it and whether offshore drilling and fracking are good.

Source: Earther
What's not to like?  When the wind blows and the sun shines, electricity is produced.  Seems miraculous doesn't it?  Yet it's a thing.  And these days wind and solar are cheaper by far than coal, nuclear and even gas.  To put it another way, even if you don't "believe" in global warming, it still makes sense to switch to renewables.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tesla Model X tows a Qantas Dreamliner Boeing 787

Tesla has shown that its Model X can do more than drive itself, out-drag supercars and haul the family around town.

The American electric car maker's range-topping Model X P100D variant has towed a Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for almost 300 metres.

Weighing in at 130 tonnes, the Jumbo's successor is just a touch heavier than the P100D's official 2.5 tonne towing capacity.

Nevertheless, the feat was made possible by Tesla's dual motors that produce a massive swell of torque that is just short of 1000Nm.

That amount of pulling power puts the Tesla near the top of the torque pile in Australia with only enormous turbocharged diesel engines in US-style trucks - such as the Ram 2500 and upcoming Chevrolet Silverado - capable of eclipsing the electric machine.

However, the Tesla's usual range of up to 565km would be seriously compromised by the effort of towing such a load.

The stunt took place at Melbourne airport and was used to promote new rewards for Tesla owners who are also Qantas frequent flyers.

[Read more here]

Peace goes splat

From David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

Where's Captain Ryan?

A cartoon from Marshall Ramsey