It’s fall, and that means it’s harvest season. So, this week, we’re providing a cornucopia of micro rants and information.
I’m Alexa, and I’m Here to Help
This headline caught my eye, ‘Alexa, I’m cold’: Government teams up with Amazon for energy saving campaign. The world’s fifth largest company, dominant retailer, data center behemoth, and tech giant partners with the government to use its in-home listening device. What could possibly go wrong? I recommend 1984, the book.
EV Repair Black Market
The Wall Street Journal reported, via email, that totaled Teslas from Western nations are being shipped to Ukraine and a handful of other countries, refurbished, and used in a second life – as though it were a black market. “That export trade runs counter to efforts to recycle more batteries at home—a big part of Western plans to reduce China’s industry dominance.”
In the first half of 2023, Ukraine imported almost 13,000 EVs, equal to the total EV imports in 2022. “Many new cars aren’t available in countries where incomes are relatively low. To establish the EV market and spur investment in charging infrastructure, Ukraine’s government axed customs duty on used EVs in 2016. Russia made similar moves, along with Belarus, Jordan, Sri Lanka, and others.”
“Ukraine has some competitive bidders. Importers have access to plenty of skilled—and relatively cheap—mechanics who can fix vehicles or assemble new ones, Frankenstein-style, from multiple old cars.”
“All this could spell trouble down the line for the West’s nascent battery-recycling industry. Investors are pouring billions of dollars into recycling ventures in the U.S. and Europe, lured by ambitious government targets for the use of recycled material in batteries. But recyclers are at the bottom of the food chain, and EVs’ resale value far exceeds the value of the materials in the battery.”
This is absurd. What is sustainable about throwing away a repairable EV and grinding it down to its elements that are worth a small fraction of the whole?
Right to Repair
Big tech companies, like Apple and Amazon, want a monopoly on repairing damaged products, and of course, they “teamed” with the government to make it so. I referenced this scam in the EV segment above.
The tech companies want to monopolize repairs, so when your iPhone goes for a swim, or your MacBook takes a swig of coffee, guess what – the repair is 95% of the cost of a new gadget.
The argument: “Tech companies and their lobbyists, such as the industry group TechNet, have a counterargument: consumer safety. If there’s an unreliable repair, the device can potentially harm you. They say if more information is available about devices or the parts aren’t sanctioned by the company, there might be more opportunities for hackers to breach them. And your private information might be in the hands of a shady repair person.”
Is it that way with cars? Do I send my VW back to Wolfsburg because Skeeter at the neighborhood garage can’t be trusted to fix my brakes? Brakes are a safety mechanism, you know. I will say, however, that you don’t want people ham and egging a lithium-ion battery.
The Fair Repair Act was introduced in the last congress to “require original equipment manufacturers of digital electronic equipment to make available certain documentation, diagnostic, and repair information to independent repair providers, and for other purposes.” It never came up for a vote.
Ring of Fire
The Wall Street Journal reports a massive deposit of nickel, copper, and cobalt 700 miles northwest of Toronto near the Hudson Bay. With an estimated value of $67 billion, the minerals were deposited by magma flows three billion years ago. The deposits rest under a massive bed of peat that holds more carbon per square foot than rainforests in the Amazon (or rainforests being leveled for nickel mining in Indonesia).
It seems there’s a fourth rendition of King Kong opportunity here. It would be a parody of the 1970s edition, in which evil global oil behemoth Petrox corporation invaded Kong’s luxurious island for black gold. An evil mining company would replace Petrox.
Hydrogen in Five Years
Clean burning hydrogen is just five years off, as it has been since the 1980s and every decade since, and maybe a couple before. The government is burning $billions again to develop hydrogen, which is very explosive. Burning dollar bills to generate electricity may be more cost-effective than the ROI on these fiascos. Some plans include using natural gas to produce hydrogen using carbon capture. Natural gas is predominately methane, CH4, don’t cha know.
I didn’t need to look that up.
Why not burn natural gas to generate electricity and capture the CO2 from that?
Carbon Pipeline Blowback
An idea even worse than making hydrogen with natural gas hit a brick wall. Regulators in North and South Dakota recently rejected CO2 pipeline permit applications.
States and counties decide up or down on pipeline easements. The federal government can give pipelines and electric transmission lines away for free, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. Last week, I wrote about Iowa’s buildout of wind. Today, I’m among the seas of wind turbines in the northwest part of the state, and anti-wind-turbine signs are everywhere.
What doesn’t require an easement or mineral underneath an ancient peat bed or rainforest that must be retrieved via slave labor?
Efficiency and load management with the appropriate policy and ratemaking to make it work.