The Energy Bulletin

ENERGY, 25 Jan 2021

Tom Whipple and Steve Andrews | Editors – Post Carbon Institute

18 Jan 2021

“It may be counterintuitive to say that the oil demand crash and the resulting glut in 2020 could lead to an oil supply crunch in just a few years. Yet, a growing number of experts and international agencies warn that the world could be headed for an oil shortage when oil demand finally recovers from the COVID-inflicted crisis in late 2022 or 2023.”

— Tsvetana Paraskov, writer for

Graphic of the Week


1.  Energy prices and production
2.  Geopolitical instability
3.  Climate change
4.  The global economy and the coronavirus
5.  Renewables and new technologies
6.  Briefs

1. Energy prices and production 

Oil: Prices, which hit their highest in nearly a year the previous week, posted their first weekly decline of 2021 last week. Brent was down 1.6 percent on the week, and US crude down about 0.4 percent. Producers face unprecedented challenges balancing supply and demand with other factors involving vaccine rollouts versus lockdowns, strong equities, a weaker dollar, and robust Chinese demand.

A resurgent virus across some regions may cap further price gains. China is seeing rising cases again after mostly containing the outbreak, while in Europe, France is extending tighter curfew measures, and Germany is strengthening its lockdown.

US consumer sentiment cooled more than forecast in January. Other economic data such as sluggish retail sales and producer prices also portray the country’s obstacles as it struggles with the pandemic. Meanwhile, President-elect Biden said he would ask Congress for $1.9 trillion to fund immediate relief for the US economy that has been battered by the pandemic.

The EIA raised its Brent spot average and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot average forecast prices for 2021. The administration sees 2021 Brent spot prices averaging $52.70 per barrel and 2021 WTI spot prices averaging $49.70 per barrel. EIA estimates that US crude oil production fell from the 2019 record level of 12.2 million b/d to 11.3 million b/d in 2020. EIA expects that annual average production will fall further to 11.1 million b/d in 2021 before rising to 11.5 million b/d in 2022.

OPEC: The cartel’s oil revenues for 2020 declined to $323 billion, the lowest revenue level in 18 years.  In comparison, OPEC’s oil revenues for 2019 were $595 billion.  For 2019, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues totaled $202 billion—more than a third of the total—but 2020 revenues will be hit by the pandemic like those of its fellow OPEC exporters.

OPEC and its allies raised their crude oil production by 280,000 b/d in December to a seven-month high, as Libya pumped its most since mid-2013 and several other countries posted modest increases.  OPEC’s 13 members pumped 25.43 million b/d in December, up 220,000 b/d from November, while their nine non-OPEC partners, led by Russia, produced 12.74 million b/d, an increase of 60,000. Combined, the entire coalition’s conformity level was 98.5 percent, down from 100.1 percent in November.

In its closely watched Oil Market Report, OPEC kept its 2021 global demand forecast little changed at 95.91 million b/d, compared with 95.89 million b/d last month. The forecast is still 5.9 million b/d higher than in 2020. Global oil stockpiles fell to a seven-month low in November, but OPEC says it is still trying to shrink them further.

In November, OECD commercial oil inventories declined to 3.104 billion barrels, some 163.1 million barrels above the five-year average, OPEC said in its latest monthly oil market report. That’s the lowest since 140.6 million barrels in April. OPEC Secretary-General Barkindo said on Jan. 13 that the stocks are not low enough. “We are focusing on stocks globally. Not just OECD but also non-OECD.”

Shale Oil: WTI is back above $50 a barrel, and things are looking up for the battered US oil industry. The rig count is going up. Although the worst may be behind drillers, they still face many difficulties, including the danger of more loan defaults. Fitch Ratings warned about the continued threat of defaults in a recent update, noting the oil and gas industry would continue this year to be the one with the most bankruptcies.

Last year, several dozen oil and gas operators filed for bankruptcy with a cumulative debt of $28 billion, which far outstripped any other industry’s cumulative deficit. This year, according to Fitch, the amount of debt in default will be lower, estimated at $15-18 billion.

US shale oil companies are hedging against future price drops as West Texas Intermediate enjoys a rebound above $50 a barrel. Crude oil prices recovered slowly during the final quarter of last year. They jumped sharply earlier this month as vaccine rollouts advanced, albeit slowly, in the US and Europe. At the same time, Saudi Arabia surprised oil markets by declaring it would cut an additional 1 million b/d from its production on top of cuts agreed with OPEC+. As a result, WTI hit the highest since February 2020, trading at over $53. The increase in hedging suggests that some drillers do not foresee oil prices moving much higher.

As is well known, shale oil wells deplete rapidly, and it takes considerable drilling and fracking just to keep production flat. Some observers say that the number of rigs currently drilling for shale oil is insufficient to keep output flat, much less grow it, thus a fall is inevitable. There has been a small increase in the rig count recently, but even if drilled-but-uncompleted wells are included, there are not enough new wells coming online.

The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation of Exxon Mobil after an employee filed a whistleblower complaint last fall alleging that the company overvalued one of its most important oil and gas properties. The investigation’s current status is unknown.

Natural Gas: A mid-winter energy crisis hit northeast Asia as an extended period of much colder-than-normal temperatures across the region strained supplies of coal, gas, and electricity to the breaking point. China has been forced to restrict power in multiple provinces. Japan has appealed for voluntary restraint when liquefied natural gas prices hit record highs as utilities scrambled for spot cargoes. The crisis exposed an underlying lack of resilience in regional energy systems caused by the rapid transition to gas for space heating and power generation.

North Asia’s liquefied natural gas benchmark rose above $30 per million Btu for the first time, breaking a barrier that few thought possible. Numerous production issues at export facilities and delays traversing the Panama Canal curbed supplies.

Shell has restarted liquefied natural gas production at its Prelude offshore project in Australia after almost a year’s suspension. Like most other large-scale offshore LNG projects, it ran into delays and cost overruns. When Prelude stopped pumping gas last February, there was concern that the multi-billion-dollar project may flop as its breakeven price was estimated by analysts at $20 per 1,000 cu ft of natural gas, versus going prices of $2-3 per 1,000 cu ft in the US last year.

Recent growth in US industrial natural gas demand continued into January, outperforming year-ago levels, despite expanded lockdowns. The demand from industrial consumers has averaged over 25.3 billion cf/d, outpacing its January 2020 level by 700 million. Current lockdowns have failed to significantly slow industrial activity, which suffered a steep decline last March as measures taken in the US and globally cut demand for industrial end products. At the height of the 2020 drop, industrial demand fell nearly 1.4 billion cf/d, compared to its prior-year level.

Prognosis: The pandemic and the pace of oil demand recovery from the coronavirus crisis are posing a significant challenge for oil producers in rebalancing the market, according to the IEA. Oil-producing countries and oil companies now have to factor in many more variables in their plans, including economic forecasts and various speeds at which vaccines are being used in different countries. “Producers are grappling with massive uncertainty about where this goes from here. So high is the uncertainty that the OPEC+ group decided in December—just when Europe was renewing lockdowns to fight soaring coronavirus cases—to hold monthly ministerial meetings to decide production policies.

While the December decision of the OPEC+ alliance was to boost production in January by 500,000 b/d, thus easing the cuts from 7.7 million b/d to 7.2 million, the January meeting refrained from lifting output in February too much, except for a compromise boost to Russia’s production by 65,000 b/d. Saudi Arabia went the extra mile and pledged unilaterally to cut its crude oil production by an additional 1 million b/d. Analysts view the surprise cut as a sign that the Kingdom expects weak oil demand in the first quarter of this year.

A growing number of experts and international agencies warn that the world could be headed for an oil shortage when oil demand finally recovers from the pandemic in late 2022 or 2023. Last year, the pandemic slashed global oil demand, which is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels for at least another year and a half.

However, the coronavirus also accelerated a structural decline in upstream oil investments as all E&P firms, oil supermajors, US shale producers, and national oil companies alike slashed capital expenditures in the wake of the price crash. Investments in new oil supply have now slumped to a more-than-a-decade low. If the industry doesn’t raise upstream investments in coming years, the oil market could be headed to a supply crunch after oil global demand recovers, analysts and forecasters warn.

Countries dependent on oil revenues for much of their budgets will become increasingly vulnerable to problems caused by the global energy transition, according to the head of the IEA, Fatih Birol. The world will still need oil this year and next, and for years to come, but it will need less and less of it, Birol said.

Birol’s comments came after the IEA reported it would release the first comprehensive roadmap to net zero emissions. The roadmap, according to the report, “will set out in detail what is needed from governments, companies, investors, and citizens to fully decarbonize the energy sector and put emissions on a path in line with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

2. Geopolitical instability 
(These are the situations that reduce the world’s energy supplies or have the potential to do so.)

Iran: According to the governor of the Central Bank, oil revenues have halved since the US imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018. The country’s oil revenues have dropped from more than $40 billion in 2018 to less than $20 billion in 2019 and 2020. As early as 2019, Iran’s Oil Minister Zanganeh admitted that Iran’s oil industry had been dealt a “deadly blow” by the US sanctions. Last week, Iran said that the US must pay Tehran as much as $70 billion in reparations for the damage the sanctions have caused.

For nearly three years, Tehran has been waiting for President Trump to leave office and to try its hand at negotiating against a perceived weaker Democratic opponent. In anticipation of the US administration’s change, they have been rolling out more bargaining chips, including stepped-up nuclear enrichment, demands for reparations, and taking hostages in hopes they can negotiate to have the sanctions lifted and still retain their missile development programs. The most serious of these moves is work on an assembly line to manufacture a key material used at the core of nuclear warheads and restarting production of fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that runs on uranium enriched to higher levels.

The National Iranian Oil Co. signed eight more oil projects as part of a $6.2 billion program started in January 2019 to boost oil production by 355,000 b/d.

Iraq: Baghdad announced a deal with Lebanon that could gradually move Lebanon deeper into Tehran’s sphere of influence. Tehran sees Lebanon as a critical player in the Shia crescent of power that it has been meticulously developing for years. Under the deal, Iraq will begin exporting fuel to Lebanon this month. Given that Iraq itself suffered from serious power shortages over the summer, this is a major sacrifice by Baghdad that will likely result in Iran gaining more influence in the region.

After a record-setting 2019, annual oil output fell by about 760,000 b/d last year as Iraq made extraordinary cuts to help support global prices. In December, nationwide crude production fell slightly to about 3.86 million b/d, capping a year of OPEC-related constraints that yielded the lowest output since 2015. Fields managed by the federal government produced about 3.46 million b/d in December — a decrease of 2 percent compared to November — while those under the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government rose slightly to 477,000 b/d.

3. Climate change

President-elect Biden is setting up a bigger White House climate team than any president before him. The president-elect announced the planned hiring of more than a half-dozen new climate staffers to join his West Wing. The crew is drawn from the ranks of green groups, environmental justice advocates, and former Democratic administration officials to grow an inner circle that will help him try to slash the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

That team will be tasked with executing a wide-reaching plan to embed climate action across government agencies and in legislation on Capitol Hill. Biden has also pledged to address the disproportionate pollution burden carried by poor and minority neighborhoods. Biden’s incoming climate team is a mix of new faces and old hands. Biden also plans to add one of the architects of Obama’s plan for cutting emissions from the power sector to the Environmental Protection Agency, a sign of environmental regulation to come.

Placing a dollar value on the contribution of climate change to storm damage has been tricky. Now, Stanford University researchers have determined that a third of the financial damage caused by flooding in the US over the past three decades—almost $75 billion worth—can be attributed to excess precipitation caused by climate change. Their paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to make such a comprehensive estimate.

Under the EU’s massive economic recovery program, more than 500 billion euros will start flowing to help the region clean up its energy, industry, transport, and farming sectors. The “Green Deal,” a central pillar of the recovery plan, will be turned into legislation, making irreversible Europe’s ambitious target to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Included in these changes will be new climate laws, tighter rules on the carbon market, higher charges for carbon emissions, and cleaner cars.

4. The global economy and the coronavirus

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist warned that even as numerous countries start rolling out vaccination programs to stop COVID-19, herd immunity is highly unlikely this year. While the recorded death count from the Covid-19 pandemic is now over 2 million, the true extent is far worse. More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 59 countries and jurisdictions. Deaths in these places last year surged more than 12 percent above average levels.

The economic distress of the pandemic is picking up where it left off at the end of 2020. The latest data show activity in the advanced economies softened in the first two weeks of the new year. In the US, government figures showed retail sales fell for a third month in December as a resurgent virus prompted another tightening of business restrictions. Europe is facing the possibility that output will shrink in consecutive quarters.

United States:  The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August and a sign that the resurgent virus has increased layoffs. The latest figures for jobless claims remain at levels never seen until the virus struck. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000. They spiked to nearly 7 million last spring after nationwide shutdowns took effect.

Federal health officials sounded the alarm Friday about a fast-spreading, far more contagious variant of the coronavirus projected to become the dominant source of infection in the country by March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that its forecasts indicated outbreaks caused by the new variant could lead to a burgeoning pandemic this winter.

As the US goes through the most lethal phase of the coronavirus outbreak yet, governors and local officials in hard-hit parts of the country show little willingness to impose any new restrictions on businesses to stop the spread. And unlike in 2020, when the debate over lockdowns often split along party lines, both Democratic and Republican leaders signify their opposition to forced closings and other measures. Some have expressed fear of compounding the heavy economic damage inflicted by the outbreak. Some see little patience among their constituents for more restrictions ten months into the crisis. And some seem to be focused more on the rollout of the vaccines that could eventually defeat the threat.

President-elect Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis. This package outlines the type of total aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signals a shift in the federal government’s pandemic response. The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to reopen most schools within 100 days safely. Another $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls. Simultaneously, the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers, and large subsidies for childcare costs.

China: Beijing has imposed its most widespread restrictions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, placing travel restrictions on about 23 million people and putting some areas into lockdown after a sudden rise in cases. Since last July, China’s total reported symptomatic cases had exceeded 100 on Wednesday, the most significant outbreak. Ninety of the new infections were in Hebei province, next to Beijing.

China ended the year in many ways stronger than it started.  While the US and Europe wait for vaccine rollouts to get more people vaccinated, China became the only major economy expected to report growth for 2020, helping it close the US’s GDP gap. It has expanded its role in global trade and shored up its position as the world’s factory floor, despite years of US efforts to persuade companies to invest elsewhere. China’s consumer market—lifted by its quick recovery from Covid-19—keeps gaining momentum, making it a bigger driver of global companies’ earnings. And the country has solidified its standing as a force in global financial markets.

China’s economy is expected to have grown 6.1 percent in October-December from a year earlier, after the third quarter’s 4.9 percent expansion. The economy has been recovering steadily from a steep 6.8 percent slump in the first three months of 2020 when the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan’s central city caused widespread lockdowns.

Chinese exports grew more than expected in December as coronavirus disruptions fueled worldwide demand for Chinese goods.  A robust domestic recovery also spurred the Chinese appetite for foreign products in December, with import growth quickening from the month prior and beating expectations.

China’s crude imports fell to a 27-month low of 9.09 million b/d in December, but total imports over 2020 were up 7 percent year on year at 10.86 million b/d. The last time monthly imports were lower was in September 2018 at 9.092 million b/d.

Europe: Road traffic in most of the continent is at its weakest since the end of the first lockdowns in the late spring of last year as more people stay at home with renewed lockdowns. Despite the start of vaccinations in Europe, many countries continue to battle record daily new coronavirus cases and have been on lockdown, again, since before Christmas.

According to Rystad Energy, road fuel consumption across Europe has significantly dropped due to the lockdowns in recent weeks. Still, overall oil demand in Europe is not as low as it was last spring because the frigid winter in most parts of the continent drives up the use of oil products for heating. Nevertheless, the lockdowns are sapping oil demand again, and consumption is unlikely to pick up materially over the next two to three months.

The UK is under stay-at-home orders nationwide at least until the middle of February, with people not allowed to leave their local area and allowed to go out of their homes only for essential shopping, which cannot be done from home, and once-a-day outdoor exercise. Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, is also on nationwide lockdown until at least January 31st, while the Netherlands will be locked down until at least February 9th.

Russia:  Rosneft is in talks with some of the world’s largest oil trading houses, offering them the opportunity to become investors in a major oil project in Russia’s far north. The Vostok oil mega project is in Siberia and has resources estimated at 44 billion barrels.  These oil fields are close to the Northern Sea Route that Rosneft plans to use to ship oil to Europe and Asia.

Saudi Arabia:  Aramco is lining up a $7.5 billion deal for potential investors in its oil pipelines. The discussions are occurring in parallel with the sale of a stake in a pipeline unit, which could raise about $10 billion for Aramco, sources said. A pipeline deal would be the first phase of Aramco’s strategy to raise money by selling leasing rights or stakes in non-core assets.

5. Renewables and new technologies

More hydrogen facilities and bigger storage batteries for electricity generated by wind towers and solar panels were announced last week. Siemens is developing a commercial offshore wind turbine that produces hydrogen via electrolysis. The company is investing $146 million in the system, which would be the renewable industry’s most concrete plan to capitalize on an expected boom in hydrogen demand.

Some of Asia’s biggest potential hydrogen consumers are hopeful that Australia will achieve its aim of sharply reducing production costs to supply green hydrogen at $2/kg in the future.  Hydrogen costs below $2/kg are not unusual for conventional hydrogen produced from natural gas. However, even with carbon capture and lower gas prices, a polymer electrolyte membrane or PEM electrolyzer operating at 70 percent capacity would need input power prices to be average below $15/MWh to produce hydrogen for less than $2/kg.

Another big battery project has been announced in Australia, as energy storage developers rush to profit from the nation’s abundant sunshine and wind resources. Origin Energy wants to install a 700-megawatt facility near the Eraring coal plant in New South Wales. That comes as utilities worldwide run to install warehouse-sized batteries to back up wind and solar generation. The current record holder, a 300-megawatt facility, opened in California last month.

Occidental Petroleum plans to build a facility which the company says could change the way the world thinks about fossil-fuel emissions. The globe’s first large-scale direct air capture (DAC) plant would remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and pump it underground.

The goal is to lower emissions of the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming—and one day even produce a carbon-negative barrel of oil. But to cover the cost of operating the plant, Occidental will initially use much of the CO2 to push out oil from underground reservoirs, thereby replacing one pollutant with another. The facility, expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, will also need support from tax credits and outside investors to be financially viable.

6. The Briefs (date of the article in the Daily Energy Bulletin is in parentheses)

Norway expects its oil production to rise by 19 percent through to 2024 on the back of new developments such as Johan Sverdrup, while it is eyeing emissions reductions in the order of 40 percent by the industry. It estimated Norway’s 2020 oil production at 2.0 million b/d, up 15 percent from 2019.  (1/15) [Ed. note: Norway’s production peaked during 2001 at 3.4 million b/d.]

French oil and gas company Total said it has decided to withdraw from the American Petroleum Institute because it disagrees with climate-related policies. Total’s move puts pressure on BP and Shell to take the same step since they share stated climate positions. (1/16)

India’s petroleum consumption fell for the first time in more than two decades in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and factories, hurting the demand from one of the world’s largest fuel users. Total petroleum demand declined 10.8 percent last year from 2019. (1/11)

Two of South Africa’s four oil refineries are currently offline and expected to restart next year at the earliest. Those two refineries account for 43 percent of South Africa’s total oil refining capacity of over 500,000 barrels per day (bpd).  (1/13)

In Nigeria, loadings of key export grade Forcados are on force majeure due to the shutdown of the Trans Forcados pipeline, Shell said late Jan. 14th. The pipeline had initially shut down for maintenance, but “community disturbances” had disrupted the exercise. (1/16)

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has decided to focus its attention on condensate production to compensate for lost revenue from oil exports due to its commitment to the OPEC+ production cut deal. Whether condensates should be included in oil production figures when calculating OPEC’s production quotas has been a longstanding dispute. (1/15)

In the offshore Guyana-Suriname basin, Total and Apache Corporation have made their fourth oil and gas discovery. The discovery adds to numerous other significant oil finds in the basin, where ExxonMobil is also a major operator. (1/15)

The US oil rig count increased for the eighth consecutive week, Baker Hughes reported on Friday.  Oil rigs rose by 12 to 287, while gas rigs inched up by 1 to 85. (1/16)

SPR sale: A federal effort to sell roughly 20 million barrels of crude oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve could begin deliveries as early as April and continue well into 2021. The reserve, which was sitting at 638.1 million barrels as of Jan. 8th, has slowly declined since peaking at more than 726 million barrels in early 2010. But that decline has coincided with commercial storage gains over most of the last decade as the nation’s shale oil boomed. (1/16)

Texas’ oil revenues: The Texas oil and gas industry paid a total of $13.9 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in the fiscal year 2020. That came in below the record-high $16.3 billion in local taxes and state royalties in the fiscal year 2019. (1/14)

Near-record US propane demand: Propane product supplied, or implied demand, reached 2.10 million b/d, the second-highest level ever, the week ended Jan. 8th. Total US propane exports also hit 1.35 million b/d, marking the 10th time that the EIA reported exports over 1.30 million b/d since the week ended Sept. 18th, 2020. (1/14)

Halliburton Co. reported Thursday that it had deployed the industry’s first successful electric grid-powered hydraulic fracturing operation. “Electric fracturing aligns with our goal to provide the industry with lower-carbon-intensive solutions and our commitment to a sustainable industry future,” a corporate VP said. (1/15)

Chesapeake Energy Corp’s value has soared since its June bankruptcy filing, the US judge overseeing the natural gas producer’s trial indicated, and is worth $5.13 billion, far above the shale gas pioneer’s estimate. Creditors have offered sharply different estimates of the firm’s enterprise value during its trial in Houston’s US bankruptcy court. (1/12)

Airline travel will continue to suffer in the first half of this year. According to oil trading firm Vitol, air travel will only recover, and jet fuel consumption with it in the second half of 2021, when mass vaccinations are poised to allow traveling to more destinations quarantine-free. (1/14)

The cruising halt: Carnival Corp reported a preliminary loss of $2.22 billion for the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30th as the cruise industry remains nearly drydocked.  While quarterly revenues weren’t officially announced, they ranked in the “tens of millions.” (1/12)

The US coal industry is estimated to produce 602.6 million st of coal in 2021, the EIA said in a Jan. 12th report, lowering its estimate from a month ago by 3.4 percent. (1/13)

Texas wind: In 2020, for the first time, wind power overtook coal in the state’s overall energy mix, the latest sign of renewable energy’s rising prominence in America’s fossil fuel heartland. As the shale revolution that put Texas on the global energy map has been cooling down, the state has been fervently building up its wind power capacity. (1/14)

NY wind: Equinor has been selected to provide New York State with offshore wind power in what is being described as one of the largest renewable energy procurements in the US to date. Under the award, Equinor and incoming strategic partner BP will provide a generation capacity of 1,260 megawatts of renewable offshore wind power from Empire Wind 2 and another 1,230 MW of power from Beacon Wind 1 – adding to the existing commitment to provide New York with 816 MW of renewable energy from Empire Wind 1. (1/15)

GM EV push: General Motors is launching a new electric-truck business geared toward delivery services, the latest in the company’s efforts to commercialize battery technology it is developing in-house.  The automaker said it would begin making electric delivery trucks and motorized dollies as part of a division called BrightDrop, which aims to capitalize on the now-booming market for e-commerce and home delivery. (1/13)

Mercedes-Benz experienced a sharp increase in xEV deliveries in 2020, with more than 160,000 plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles sold worldwide (+229 percent), including about 87,000 units in the fourth quarter alone. (1/12)

VW’s EV push: In 2020, Volkswagen delivered more than 212,000 electric cars in total (up 158 percent versus 2019), including nearly 134,000 battery electric vehicles up 197 percent versus 2019). This brought the share of BEV and hybrid cars in Europe up to 12.4 percent of the brand’s total deliveries, up from 2.3 percent in 2019. (1/13)

Automakers worldwide are shutting assembly lines because of a global shortage of semiconductors that, in some cases, has been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s actions against key Chinese chip factories. The shortage is now causing Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, and Toyota Motor Corp to curtail production in the United States. (1/15)

Clean energy stocks have been hot throughout 2020 and show no signs of letting off steam in the new year, thanks to the rapidly changing political landscape in the US. (1/12)

German H2 plant: Linde will build, own and operate a 24MW PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolyzer plant in Germany. The new 24-megawatt electrolyzer will produce green hydrogen to supply Linde’s industrial customers through the company’s existing pipeline network. The total green hydrogen being produced can fuel approximately six hundred fuel cell buses. The plant is due to start production in the second half of 2022. (1/14)

Texas H2 potential: Texas is well-suited to become the leading producer of low-cost hydrogen in the US due to its existing hydrogen infrastructure and proximity to renewables, natural gas, and storage resources. The state focuses on a $10.8 million US Department of Energy project: H2@Scale initiative. (1/13)

Bamboo can quickly sequester at least double the amount of carbon as a similar stand of trees.  Some say bamboo can store up to six times as much carbon.  Research shows there are species of bamboo that could be farmed to store carbon and produce valuable products. (1/12)

In Saudi Arabia, a zero-carbon city will be built on the Neom smart city project site, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Sunday. The city, first described in 2018, will have the capacity to accommodate 1 million residents, who will enjoy “carbon-positive urban developments powered by 100 percent clean energy”. Neom’s price tag is $500 billion. (1/12)

“Microwaved coal”: An international team of researchers demonstrated that pulverized coal powder could be converted into high-value nano-graphite in just 15 minutes. Nano-graphite is used as a lubricant and in items ranging from fire extinguishers to lithium-ion batteries. (1/12)

Flying car concept unveiled: General Motors stole the show on Tuesday after revealing the Cadillac Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicle and electric shuttle concepts in a virtual presentation at the CES expo. GM did not say if they had a working prototype. (1/14)

Polar vortex splitting: A dramatic spike in temperatures—by as much as 30 degrees is at high altitudes above the North Pole, where the air is thin and typically frigid. Known as a sudden stratospheric warming event, experts say it’s likely to have potentially significant repercussions for winter weather across the Northern Hemisphere for weeks to possibly months.  This powerful event may increase the potential for paralyzing snowstorms and punishing blasts of Arctic air. (1/6)

Sweden’s coronavirus strategy has changed. To combat the pandemic, the government this week proposed an emergency law that would allow it to lock down large parts of society; the first recommended use of face masks came into force, and the authorities gave schools the option to close for pupils older than 13. (1/8)

MA’s climate toolkit: Massachusetts lawmakers have sent to the governor’s desk a bill, a so-called climate toolkit, that aims to chart the state’s path to net-zero emissions by 2050. It “focuses on reducing greenhouse gases, creating jobs, and protecting the vulnerable.” (1/6)

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