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Investors are Fleeing Fossil Fuels in Droves

When Bill McKibben and 350.org spear-headed a campaign to divest from fossil fuels and go 100 percent renewables as part of a multi-pronged strategy to confront ramping harms from global climate change in 2012, the big push-back was “divestment doesn’t work, it’s just feel-good, someone else will just buy the stocks when prices drop.”

The Green Mouse That Roared

As if where individuals, banks, investment firms and governments put their money doesn’t matter. As if monetary policy at all levels isn’t an enabler of energy and climate policy. As if the world were awash in an infinite flood of money. As if capital just magically grows on trees.

The detractors clearly didn’t get it. They’d already lost the argument. But the ultimate realization would take years to materialize.

The divestment movement wasn’t so much about the short-term, day to day, flux of money on the financial markets. It was instead aimed at triggering a long term mega-trend. The movement did this by shining a light on the intrinsic immorality of fossil fuel burning. By changing the terms of the environmental debate to include such objects as financial risk and stranded assets. By meeting investors on their own intellectual turf on a daily basis. And by revealing to them the very serious and real risk of loss they were exposed to by pumping money into an energy source that produces widespread, ramping and systemic harm.

A long game that is presently gaining some very significant traction. For it appears that Bill McKibben and the various proponents of the divestment movement have managed to outflank the fossil fuel industry on what was, hitherto, intellectual and financial ground under their unquestioned control. They became, all of us involved became, the green mouse that roared.

(The divestment movement helped to shine a light on the various glaring financial risks involved in continued fossil fuel burning. A primary issue being that due to damage caused by climate change, losses to the whole financial system would eventually greatly outweigh gains. At which point, sunk fossil fuel assets would become stranded due to investor flight. Image source: Carbon Tracker.)

From EcoWatch:

We used text analytics software to sift through 42,000 news articles about climate change between 2011 and 2015 and map the influence of the radical flank. In this analysis, we found that the divestment campaign expanded rapidly as a topic in worldwide media. In the process, it disrupted what had become a polarized debate and reframed the conflict by redrawing moral lines around acceptable behavior.

Our evidence suggests this shift enabled previously marginal policy ideas such as a carbon tax and carbon budget to gain greater traction in the debate. It also helped translate McKibben’s radical position into new issues like “stranded assets” and “unburnable carbon,” the idea that existing fossil fuel resources should remain in the ground.

Although these latter concepts are still radical in implication, they adopt the language of financial analysis and appeared in business journals like The EconomistFortune and Bloomberg, which makes them more legitimate within business circles.

Thus, the battle cry of divestment became a call for prudent attention to financial risk. By being addressed in these financial publications, the carriers of the message shifted from grassroots activists to investorsinsurance companies and even the Governor of the Bank of England.

Mass Divestment Underway as Climate Change Impacts Worsen

Today the world is starting to wake up, bleary eyed and hung over from tar sands smog, to the reality that climate change is poised to eat everyone’s lunch. The U.S. has been hammered by not one, not two, but three $100 billion dollar plus hurricanes. All of those storms were made worse by climate change and one — Harvey — was found to be three times more likely due to the heat trapping gasses fossil fuel based industry has collectively pumped into the world’s atmosphere. With the Thomas Fire threatening to burn down Santa Barbara in December, California is reeling from its worst fire season on record. And glaciers from Greenland to Antarctica are teetering at the brink — ready to inundate the world’s cities at rates far faster than previously expected with only just a bit more added fossil fuel trapped heat.

(How investments in fossil fuel based industry generate carbon emissions. Image source: Carbon Tracker.)

That’s with global temperatures at only 1.1 to 1.2 C above 1880s averages. Keep burning fossil fuels and we’ll hit 3 to 7 C or more by 2100. And folks already feeling the pain of lost financial stability, lost homes, or forced displacement are starting to cry uncle.

Some of the investors holding the fossil fuel industry’s purse strings appear to have had enough. AXA Equitable CEO Thomas Buberl this week stated: “A 4 C world is not insurable.” The major financial and insurance firm has pledged to invest 10.6 billion in environmentally friendly projects and to move 4 billion in funds out of fossil fuels by 2020.

But AXA isn’t the only one by far. Other banks, firms, and share holders are realizing in droves that investing in that 4 C world by throwing more money at fossil fuels isn’t worth a darn either. The World Bank just announced it will stop investing in upstream oil and gas projects by 2019. This after resisting appeals to divest for years. The 23 large regional investors of the International Development Finance Club, who hold 4 trillion in assets, have agreed to align their procurement with the goals of the Paris Climate Summit. Dutch ING bank has announced that it won’t fund any utility that relies on coal for more than 5 percent of its energy.

Meanwhile, an umbrella group managing 26.3 trillion dollars in assets is directly targeting the world’s top 100 carbon emitters. The group — called Climate Action 100 — comprises 225 pension funds and other investors. And it aims to get the world’s worst carbon emitters to curb their greenhouse gas pollution and to disclose their climate change related risks to share holders. Oil, gas, coal, cement, mining and major transportation players are all in Climate Action 100’s sights.

(Renewables possess superior economics in a number of key facets. 1. They have a positive learning curve — the more you build the less they cost. 2. They reduce healthcare costs to society and increase productivity. 3. They reduce ramping systemic harms from climate change by replacing fossil fuel burning. Image source: Union of Concerned Scientists.)

The shareholders from Climate Action 100 have effectively drawn a line in the sand. If these top emitters fail to act to reduce their carbon pollution, then the investors from the group will move their money elsewhere. Effectively, this action is directly from the divestment playbook. But it is now one that lives entirely in the realm of global finance. In other words, divestment is no longer just an environmentalist thing. Global finance, to a rising degree, is being infused with rational environmental thought to the point that it owns it.

Mindy Lubber, President and CEO of Ceres notes in an interview to Motherboard:

“These investors are the largest owners of companies and they see climate change as a serious threat to their investments and the global economy. They believe it is imperative these companies move away from high-carbon emitting activities. Such companies [top 100 emitters] are unlikely to have economic success [if they don’t adjust to the reality of climate change].

Strong Renewable Energy Economics Mean Investors are No Longer Captive to Dirty Energy

This push for divestment from fossil fuels and holding fossil fuel industry accountable by many of the world’s wealthiest banks and firms comes as renewable energy is making major gains. Solar and wind energy are now less expensive than coal or even gas in many markets. The price of electrical vehicles is falling even as these non-emitting forms of transportation are becoming more capable than traditional ICE vehicles. And the price of related battery storage is also plummeting. So it’s not as if there is no viable alternative to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels. In fact, the alternatives are much more attractive on their own merits. Investors have options at hand to confront climate change. So do the rest of us. And that whole divestment thing that was nonsensically poo-pooed by naysayers — it’s becoming as ubiquitous as oxygen.

CREDITS:

Hat tip to Bill McKibben

Hat tip to EcoWatch

Hat tip to Miles H

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64 Comments

  1. Greg

     /  December 15, 2017

    You worked hard and long on this one. Nicely informative. Small investors have many options now to diversify, like big institutions, such as buying bonds directly from solar companies. I came across this one recently: You buy and then lease out individual solar cells in developing countries. This one in local currencies or bitcoin:
    https://thesunexchange.com

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    • 🙂

      I’ve been kicking this one around for a couple of days. Just put a bit of finish on it. Glad you found it useful.

      Lots of trends converging at present. We appear to be working through a major power shift. Climate crisis is a major driver and it’s increasingly coming to light.

      We’ve even got Painter talking about climate change these days.

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    • paul

       /  December 16, 2017

      Should they be using bitcoin?

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  2. Greg

     /  December 15, 2017

    The National Australia Bank, one of the country’s leading banks, announced this week that it will cease financing new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major bank in the country to make such a decision.
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/12/15/national-australia-bank-ceases-financing-new-thermal-coal-mining/

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    • We can add this to the list. These banks and firms are the heart of global finance in the west. If they keep pulling out, the energy side of the game is won. And we need a fast win in that arena.

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  3. oldmoses

     /  December 15, 2017

    Production & distribution of alternative energies needs to be fueled by the same. Until alternative industry bases its production on alternative energy, it will merely be capitalist greed grinding on same same. Sustainable energy should prove itself from the ground up. If we skip this piece and just allow production of cars, etc. it will prolong the harming of the environment. We need a foundational beginning, please. Lotta words to try and articulate what I’m puzzling over – apologies. Someone throw me a life raft.

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    • Jimbot

       /  December 16, 2017

      You mean like Giga-factories powered with PV solar collector grids? Mining, not so much.

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  December 16, 2017

      “Production & distribution of alternative energies needs to be fueled by the same. ”
      I’m fine with components for new energy being made with some fossil fuel. By leveraging old energy to accelerate new energy–which is fossil fuel paying for its own demise–we speed up the bootstrap process.

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    • Jim

       /  December 16, 2017

      So, an example of this is Tesla’s recently announced Semi, where the range is perfect for transporting batteries from the Nevada Gigafactory to the Tesla auto assembly plant in CA.
      Since Tesla already applied for permission to “platoon” trucks on this route, it seems like Tesla is already a customer of itself.

      But as rhymes’ mentions it’s not alway’s possible to do this, often a transition needs to take place first. I kind of feel where you are at – that we just need to change – but in reality I think it’s got to transistion, or it’s going to be too disruptive to society and face too much of a backlash.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • Transportation and electricity production account for the vast majority of global carbon emissions. Production and distribution is a smaller fraction. But the same renewable energy can be applied to it as well.

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    • EV/renewable powered equipment can also be used in mining.

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  4. coloradobob

     /  December 16, 2017

    Greenland’s ice sheet is driving global sea level rise. One section is melting 80% faster.
    Scientists found ice melt runoff in a section of Greenland suddenly surged as the climate changed.

    https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/12/14/16772722/greenland-ice-sheet-melting-sea-level-rise

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    • kassy

       /  December 16, 2017

      quoting from article above:

      From previous studies, the scientists knew that the ice sheet melt rate in Greenland is linked to global atmospheric circulation. They started examining changes in the climate around 2003 to see if there was something different happening that year over Greenland compared to prior years.

      “We see that it did correspond with a change in the weather pattern,” Ahlstrøm said.

      Looking at the dataset, the team could see the fingerprints of volcanic eruptions in other parts of the world, like the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, for example.

      But what they also found was that the air moving over Greenland changed course. The team conducted an atmospheric trajectory analysis, using measurements and computer simulations to trace backward where the air over Greenland came from in a given year. Air parcels rolling over the ice sheet used to arrive in the summer from the North, bringing in cold arctic air and keeping the melt rate in check.

      In 2003, that changed. The air currents started arriving from the South, bringing in warmer air, and the jet stream became wavier, making the melt rate increase while shifting erratically from year to year.

      *

      So this is a really good example of (a local) climate switching into another state. I bet the arctic ice decline plays a huge role in it which means this air flow will not reverse.

      So the next step is someone using this to redo local Greenland climate modelling (and/or the ice modelling, not sure how much these are integrated) and then give us the new estimates on future melt.

      Thanks for posting this and for all your other good work coloradobob!

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  5. R.S
    What is happening.?
    Tried to comment as usual, but wordpress insisted I register, sign up and create a website which I neither want or need and pay $5 + per month to be permitted to comment sort of anonymously.
    Have had to use the facebook account I created for Wendy

    Is this the first of the respondents to the demise of net neutrality

    Regards AA

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    • Uncertain. That seems to be a WordPress thing. Yours is the first complaint, so I hope it’s a glitch. They’re always changing stuff. So it wouldn’t surprise me.

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  6. Vaughn Anderson

     /  December 16, 2017

    I discussed my investments with my financial advisor this week. I was very clear I did not want any of my money invested in the fossil fuel industry. He was in good agreement with this philosophy and assured me that I did not have any money invested in that industry now and I would not have any money invested in that area in the future.

    If all of us with any investments would take some action to be sure we have money invested in companies that are environmentally friendly it would help keep our hard earned money safer and send a message to investing companies to move investments away from fossil fuels. That would be a plus for all of us and also keep each person’s money in safer investments.

    Thanks, especially to Robert and Colorado Bob and others for all the good information that helps me make better decisions.

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  7. We should take many of those closed coal fired power plants and turn them into BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) power plants, I think. Most of them could be given a solar thermal assist, using parabolic troughs or solar power towers and heliostats.

    The entire Mississippi basin could be turned into one gigantic BECCS project, simultaneously displacing fossil fuel use, putting carbon back underground, and generating electricity for electric vehicles. Many existing coal fired power plants are located on navigable rivers – they were built there because of easy access to cooling water for the power plants and cheap river transport of coal.

    Image of a coal fired power plant in Indiana – part of the Mississippi river basin:

    Most people have not noticed that BECCS plantations can be planted at higher elevations than the converted power plants. BECCS crops or charcoal can be transported down navigable rivers, for example, or from higher elevations to lower elevations on electric trains, or using electric (like Tesla) semi trucks with regenerative braking.

    Navigable rivers like the Mississippi and it’s tributaries could make perfect BECCS biomass or charcoal transport corridors. At each point along the river, just transport the biomass or charcoal down slope to the river, for pickup at the river bank.

    By hooking the river barges to electric cableways, the barges could actually generate electricity going downriver. Then use that electricity to transport lighter empty barges tethered to electrical cableways back upriver. Retractable fins could increase water resistance going downriver, then be retracted to decrease water resistance going back upriver to make the energy balance more favorable.

    So the transport could be free, or generate electricity, or consume some electricity depending on local conditions.

    Nobody that I know of is modeling these sorts of gravity assisted transport scenarios for BECCS, but they should be.

    This gravity assisted transport is actually a form of solar energy, like hydropower – natural solar energy transports water back uphill as clouds to grow the crops at higher elevations than the power plants. Ash from the process, much reduced in weight, could be transported back uphill on the mostly empty barges and electric vehicles.

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    • One quick and easy way to produce a pure stream of CO2 is using oxy-fuel combustion, in which oxygen and recycled flue gas is substituted for air. Oxy-fuel combustion and a topping cycle can be retrofitted to existing power plants.

      One way to dispose of the CO2 is as carbonate, via the Carbfix process or something similar. Carbfix reported 95% conversion of CO2 into calcite in 2 years:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CarbFix

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    • Allan Barr

       /  December 17, 2017

      Bioenergy is an abomination. We must stop burning anything for power. Its truly that simple.

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      • We’re going to have to burn something for power, and sequester the carbon, if we want to get back below 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere in this century. It’s as simple as that, I think.


        This graph is a few years old. The situation is worse now, the starting CO2 levels are higher, and dollars are worth less now due to inflation since this study was published.

        Solar and wind are carbon neutral. We need to go carbon negative. We need BECCS or direct CO2 capture from the atmosphere and subsequent carbon storage or mineral carbonation.

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        • What this graph shows is cost in trillions of dollars to reach various CO2 target levels. The red line on the graph is the situation you are talking about, roughly. The green line is BECCS. All of the lines have shifted to the right since this study was published, and costs for all the scenarios have increased due to inflation.

          Solar and wind are carbon neutral. We need to put carbon back underground.

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        • The above study can be accessed through the Wikipedia BECCS page:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

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        • So I think the inherent limits to scaling for BECCS put an upper boundary on how widespread adoption can or will be. The ability to rapidly scale and strong positive learning curve means that renewables like wind and solar presently have far greater potential to cut carbon emissions. That said, beginning to scale BECCS alongside wind and solar while starting to deploy atmospheric carbon capture would be helpful.

          I think we need to be very careful that we frame BECCS as complimentary to renewables. If we get into polarized language, we run a high risk of BECCS being used to attack the renewables S curve which is now poised to dramatically cut that 11 billion tons per year annual carbon emission by direct replacement.

          For BECCS to work it needs:
          1. To prove that it is more effective than forests and regenerative farms at capturing carbon on a net basis. If you are cutting down forests to feed BECCS, then you’re probably not as carbon negative as you’d think at first blush.
          2. Use of biofuel like ethanol, biodiesel, or algae feedstocks would likely increase atmospheric capture efficiency. However net capture vs use of lands for other capture purposes needs to quantifiable.
          3. BECCS needs to get costs down to at least that of present nuclear. However, it will probably still require subsidies.

          In any case, the higher costs inherent to BECCS make it likely that replacing even 10 percent of the present coal fleet with BECCS would be a relatively tough goal to achieve. It may be a worthy goal. But this is something we should consider in light of the present economic edge that renewable energy is developing and continuing to sharpen.

          In the end, we will need various forms of atmospheric carbon capture. But we should also be clear that atmospheric carbon capture energy sources are unlikely to dominate. More likely, mating present and future renewables with various atmospheric capture techniques may produce enhanced scaling.

          I want to be very clear that I do not agree with the position of atmospheric capture detractors like Kevin Anderson. However, we should be honest about the challenges involved as we attempt to achieve atmospheric capture at scale. And we should also not enable BECCS or any other form of atmospheric capture to cloud the very clear benefit coming from switching present fossil fuel burning to renewables. The recent book entitled ‘Drawdown’ vastly overstated the potential of atmospheric carbon capture and vastly understated the ability of renewables to replace present sources of carbon emission. It did this through various forms of double counting and failure to understand base economics. Let’s not make the same mistake with BECCS.

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        • Hi Robert-

          Yes, the cost of solar and wind is dropping like a rock, and thank God for that. But BECCS, solar, and wind are not incompatible. We only spend about 5 percent of our incomes on energy, and a reasonable society would be willing to pay an extra percent or two of our incomes to reverse global warming, as BECCS subsidies.

          When rockets were first proposed, a number of critics warned that they could never be practical, because of the huge amount of fuel necessary and the implausibly light but strong structure needed to contain that fuel. Many of the early critics just didn’t think of rockets with multiple stages, and actually throwing some of the structure of the rocket away as it rises through the atmosphere. So, a single good idea can sometimes make a huge difference.

          Nobody that I know of is modeling river transport of biomass and charcoal. Nobody that I know of is modeling gravity assisted transport of biomass at all. The physics of it is very simple, just trading gravitational potential energy for kinetic energy, as is done with hydropower or rolling a ball down a hill, for that matter. Rivers are ideal biomass and charcoal transport corridors – at each point along the river, just bring the biomass or charcoal down to the river, for transport downstream. We don’t know how cheap BECCS with gravity assisted transport could be, because none of the modeling so far has considered that scenario.

          BECCS has solvable problems, that is the difference between BECCS and other solutions, in my opinion.

          Yes, we should avoid cutting down trees, limiting ourselves to harvesting dead trees, clearing out undergrowth, and cutting firebreaks through existing forests. Biomass plantations should stick to quick growing crops, at least at first, I think. We should start with the sources of biomass mentioned in this Oak Ridge National Labs study:

          https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/12/f34/2016_billion_ton_report_12.2.16_0.pdf

          A billion tons of biomass per year in the U.S. is a good start, containing something like 200 million tons of carbon. Counting displacement of fossil fuel use, putting carbon back underground, and generation of electricity for electric vehicles, the net difference from business as usual could easily be twice that or more.

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    • Vic

       /  December 17, 2017

      Some good info and some great ideas there Leland, thanks. 280ppm for me please.

      Here’s one I think you’ll like,

      The Origen Power process – “Cost effective, carbon negative, baseload power”.

      A recent techno-economic study of the Origen Power process published in Applied Energy (Hanak et al, 2017) indicates that the process can economically generate electricity in a way that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – without a carbon price.
      The Origen Power process supplies natural gas to a fuel cell, where about half of the chemical energy in the natural gas is converted into electricity. The remainder is converted into heat, which is used in a lime kiln to thermally decompose limestone into lime and carbon dioxide. The process is configured in such a way that all the carbon dioxide generated – both from the fuel cell and the lime kiln – is pure, enabling it to be either used industrially or sequestered at low cost.
      The lime that is produced can be used industrially and, in being used, draws carbon dioxide out of the air. Overall, the process is carbon-negative – there is less carbon dioxide in the air at the end of the process than there was at the outset.

      The study, led by Dr Dawid Hanak of Cranfield University, modelled the Origen Power process at a 25MW-scale using AspenPlus™ software. At that scale, the process will generate (on a daily basis):
      (i) 409MWh of electricity (η = 47.7LHV)
      (ii) 307 tonnes of lime
      (iii) 362 tonnes of pure CO2 (>99%).
      (iv) If the pure CO2 is sequestered, then the lime will remove 190 tonnes of CO2 from the air (net).
      If all the costs of the process are loaded onto the sale of electricity (that is with no revenue from the other products) then the levelised cost of electricity is £69.1 per MWh. If all the costs are loaded onto the removal of CO2 from the air, a carbon price of £149.0 per tonne of CO2 would be required.
      If the electricity and lime are sold at wholesale market prices (£42 per MWh of electricity and £60 per tonne of lime) then the costs are covered without a carbon price – even as it withdraws CO2 from the air.

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      • Vic

         /  December 17, 2017

        http://www.origenpower.com/

        You could put the Origen Power process on BECCS steroids by using biogas instead of natural gas and using farmed Foraminifera shells instead of limestone. The fleshy parts of the Foraminifera could also provide at least some of the biogas.

        Farming helped get us into this mess and advanced farming can help get us out.

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        • Yes, using natural gas would seem to be a bad idea. Digging limestone out of the ground seems like a bad idea. Both of these add to the total CO2 that needs to be sequestered. Your “on steroids” ideas about using biogas and forams seem like really good ideas.

          Dunno, I’ll have to think about it. This is the first I have heard of the Oregon process. Bless your heart for posting this!

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        • Origen process, not Oregon process. Thanks again for the info!

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  8. https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/byron-bay-rail-revived-after-13-years-with-solar-t/3292364/#/0
    ENTHUSIASTIC cries and cheering greeted the launch of the world’s first solar powered train which now services Byron Bay.

    Run under a not-for-profit entity, The Byron Bay Railroad Company, the two-carriage restored 1949 NSW train now carries passengers between North Beach Station and the centre of Byron Bay township.
    The project was the realisation of a five-year dream held by the owners of the resort Elements of Byron and Byron Bay Railroad Company development director, Jeremy Holmes.
    He said the first ride was “fantastic”, but also a “little bit stressful”.
    “It’s a 70 tonne train moved by energy from the sun.”
    “The new-world technology adds a beautiful quirk and married up with the heritage train, it’s real charming.”
    The train has 6.5 kilowatts of solar power panels on its roof charging a big lithium battery.
    On top of the train shed at North Beach there is also 30-kilowatt solar system, to top up the train every four or five trips.
    On days where there isn’t enough solar the local green energy supplier will supply power from the grid.
    The train will also run on diesel about once a week.

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  9. The climate change they experienced was natural with a dollop of vigorous volcanic activity to give some global dimming chaos

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2017/12/15/climate-change-rome/
    Climate Change, Disease and the Fall of Rome

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    • Climate change comes up again and again as an issue that has historically stressed civilizations. The number of times it contributed to, or brought about collapse is significant. Collapse due to climate change is not inevitable. That depends on both intensity of the change and civilization resilience.

      In the present day, fossil fuel burning is the driver of climate change. The main resiliency feature in this case is halting that burning soon enough to prevent damage of a scale to which modern human civilization cannot adapt. Other responses add or reduce that necessary resiliency. But fossil fuel burning is the center of gravity for climate change.

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  10. Just to blow your minds
    There is hope for fossil fuel free energy, with no radioactive fuel or radiation byproducts or requirement for for thermal staem turbines et al
    Not there yet but well on it’s way with a clear roadmap and strong patents, far simpler , less dangerous, and direct electricity out

    https://www.zmescience.com/science/hydrogen-boron-laser-fusion-15122017/
    Functional hydrogen-boron fusion could be here “within the next decade”, powered by huge lasers

    Viable fusion may be just around the corner, powered on by immensely powerful lasers. Even better, a new technique requires no radioactive fuel and produces no toxic or radioactive waste.
    One of the brightest burning dreams of sci-fi enthusiasts the world over is closer to reality than we’ve ever dared hope: sustainable fusion on Earth. Drawing on advances in high-power, high-intensity lasers, an international research team led by Heinrich Hora, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at UNSW Sydney, is close to bringing hydrogen-boron reactions to a reactor near you.
    In a recent paper, Hora argues that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable and closer to implementation that other types of fusion we’re toying with — such as the deuterium-tritium fusion system being developed by the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

    Hydrogen-boron fusion has several very appealing properties which Hora believes puts it at a distinct advantage compared to other systems. For one, it relies on precise, rapid bursts from immensely powerful lasers to squish atoms together. This dramatically simplifies reactor construction and reaction maintenance. For comparison, its ‘competitors’ have to heat fuel to the temperatures of the Sun and then power massive magnets to contain this superhot plasma inside torus-shaped (doughnut-like) chambers.

    Furthermore, hydrogen-boron fusion doesn’t release any neutrinos in its primary reaction — in other words, it’s not radioactive. It requires no radioactive fuel and produces no radioactive waste. And, unlike most other energy-generation methods which heat water as an intermediary media to spin turbines — such as fossil-fuel or nuclear — hydrogen-boron fusion releases energy directly into electricity.

    All of this goody goodness comes at a price, however, which always kept them beyond our grasp. Hydrogen-boron fusion reactions require immense pressures and temperatures — they’re only comfortable upwards of 3 billion degrees Celsius or so, some 200 times hotter than the Sun’s core.

    Back in the 1970s, Hora predicted that this fusion reaction should be feasible without the need for thermal equilibrium, i.e. in temperature conditions we can actually reach and maintain. We had nowhere near the technological basis needed to prove his theory back then, however.The dramatic advances we’ve made in laser technology over the last few decades are making the two-laser approach to the reaction Hora developed back then tangibly possible today.

    Experiments recently performed around the world suggest that an ‘avalanche’ fusion reaction could be generated starting with bursts of a petawatt-scale laser pulse packing a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.

    “It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations,” he said.

    “Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”
    The patent to the process belongs to HB11 Energy, an Australian-based spin-off company, which means it’s not open for everyone to experiment.

    “If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have a prototype reactor within a decade,” said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.

    “From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf,” he added.

    The paper “Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion” has been published in the journal Laser and Particle Beams.

    Also a good inclusive article on Clean Technica
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/12/14/free-lunch-alert-hydrogen-boron-solution-clean-nuclear-fusion/

    Free Lunch Alert! A Hydrogen – Boron Solution For “Clean” Nuclear Fusion
    Also provides list of co researchers worldwide
    December 14th, 2017 by Tina Casey

    HB11 is an Australian University Spin Off Start up, not listed on any exchanges

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    • What’s blowing my mind right now is the fact that wind and solar cost 1/2 to 1/3 as much as present nuclear. This bit of news is interesting. But I think Tina may be overstating it. Hasn’t even climbed out of the lab yet.

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    • My understanding of it is that proton boron 11 fusion requires a higher temperature than deuterium tritium fusion. So, it’s much harder to do. I wonder why they don’t just apply their dual laser technique to deuterium tritium fusion?

      It’s probably a stupid question, to a laser fusion physicist.

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  11. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 16, 2017

    OT but have to ask: What the hell is going on inside of the US? Orwellian would seem to be in the rearview. This is the centre for disease control not warming denial. Is biological warfare on citizens coming to a town near you? Are we about to see a few new strains of the flu? Wouldn’t want any scientific evidence of human finger prints on that slipping out! It is starting to look more like Margaret Atwood’s “Madd Addam” trilogy than one would like. Nothing at that level is done without fore thought by the “few” to benefit the “few”. Hold on boys and girls and sports fanatical’s this ride is about to go super sonic. You have to wonder what their end game really is? You can be sure it’s not about saving the polar bears or most of us! We do have to free up some arable land for the coming agriculture issues. No top soil in 60 years or less. There is a good bit still around its just that it is under the burbs. Concrete and asphalt make good caps for holding it in place. Hmmm. Sorry for the rant people, just have to let off steam now and again. Can’t talk about it much with my significant other, drives her into depression. I don’t why!!

    Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/cdc-gets-list-of-forbidden-words-fetus-transgender-diversity/2017/12/15/f503837a-e1cf-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.7de4db8d82ab

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    • wili

       /  December 16, 2017

      Home of the brave, land of the free….

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    • Jesus, it’s like an old George Carlin comedy routine. This is more like slapstick than Orwell.

      Well, so was Hitler and the Nazis more like a comedy routine than a government. And look how much they screwed up.

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    • Syd Bridges

       /  December 16, 2017

      You make a very good point, Shawn. What is the endgame for the 1 percent? Most of the rest of us dead with just sufficient serfs to fulfill their every whim, plus a few redundant ones to use as cudgels if the working serfs fail to understand their role in life? They might be joined by those to be saved along with themselves in the rapture.

      How can an organization like the CDC function without science-based and evidence-based medicine? It would be a formula for every quacksalver in the nation. Anti-vaxxers, snake oil salesmen, supplement vendors, toad lickers, witch doctors, mountebanks, big tobacco, and their ilk can be unleashed upon the population, no holds barred. The already faltering life expectancy of poor white women can be inflicted on many other groups as even children are denied health coverage by the Hitlerians-sorry, I meant upstanding and pious Christians-of Congress.

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  12. wili

     /  December 16, 2017

    #ThomasFire -Fire intensity increasing in the Santa Barbara area.

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  13. wili

     /  December 16, 2017

    Now officially third largest at ~ 260,000 acres. The second largest, the Rush Fire of 1012 at ~ 272,000 acres, recorded about 40,000 of those in Nevada, so it can be said that Thomas is now the second largest California to burn all of its acreage in that state.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_wildfires

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  14. Syd Bridges

     /  December 16, 2017

    A little OT again, but yet another pollutant brought to you courtesy of the carbon criminals and their squalid minions in the Congress. Nice whiff of vanadium, anyone?

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171215121052.htm

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  15. Syd Bridges

     /  December 16, 2017

    This comment on topic. Thanks for this more optimistic article, Robert. I think that the mouse is now beginning to roar. With the exception of the doomsday cultists in the fossil fuel industry and the lunatic in the White House nursery, rational capitalism is asserting itself. Which insurer is going to let itself be caught on the hook when the colossal costs of BAU become obvious? How many institutions really benefit from long-term suicidal investments? What use is a 5 percent larger pension to me if food prices quadruple because of floods, droughts, fires,loss of topsoil, and rising sea levels?

    With green technologies already outperforming fossil fuels and having far greater scope for improvement than their mature FF counterparts, I only see the flow of capital moving more towards them. If Trump thinks he can reverse this, he’s pissing in the wind. He may retard the US, but that will only pass world leadership to other countries like China and the Europeans all the faster. He’s already doing an excellent job of squandering the US’ world leadership.

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  16. Andy_in_SD

     /  December 16, 2017

    The largest fires in California, record keeping started in the mid 1800’s.

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  17. coloradobob

     /  December 17, 2017

    Deer bringing death to Minnesota’s moose

    After spending millions of dollars and tracking hundreds of moose with GPS collars, scientists have pinpointed the primary culprit behind the animal’s ever-shrinking numbers in Minnesota.

    It’s the deer. Parasites they carry into Minnesota’s North Woods have emerged as the leading cause of death for moose, state and tribal biologists have concluded.

    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/dec/16/deer-bringing-death-to-minnesotas-moose/

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  18. For the religious Zealots behind Trump and in and behind the GOP, there is a massive difference between Sinning and Evil, one can be forgiven.
    As Jesus stated “The love of money is the root of all evil”
    Those who pushed for the tax cuts have no actual need for the extra money.
    Those who push so hard for fossil fuels regardless of consequences can make an income elsewhere

    http://metro.co.uk/2017/12/16/trump-remove-climate-change-list-national-security-threats-7165120/
    Donald Trump is expected to remove climate change from his National Security Strategy when it is published on Monday.
    It is a list of the greatest challenges the country faces, used as a guide for what needs to be addressed most.
    The Federalist reports that Trump’s administration will change course from Barack Obama, who prioritised climate change as a major threat.
    They claim to have have access to a draft document where climate change has been removed, with the focus on the economy and energy security instead.

    ‘Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system,’ the draft Strategy says.
    ‘US leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests.

    ‘Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.’

    The early draft of the strategy said America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multi-national agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

    That draft downplayed the national security risk of climate change and emphasized the costs to the US economy of environmental and other regulations aimed at mitigating it.

    It was not immediately clear if the climate change language would be in the final version of the strategy.

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  19. TS Norway

     /  December 17, 2017

    From what I have read, Wall Street people have lately been preoccupied with inventing ways they can profit from Bitcoin (financial instruments), so that shows their true colors, so to say. Read what for example Holthaus has been saying about Bitcoin if you have not done so yet…it’s the most ridicolous energy waste on the planet….good for nothing.

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    • Good point. And, yeah, have to agree w/Holthaus on this one.

      Will say that there are a lot of bad actors on Wall Street willing to exploit these kinds of arrangements. Which is why labeling of bad actor currency as immoral is an appropriate response.

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