EVs - The Electric Car Revolution Tesla Began Faces Its Biggest Test

At one point, almost four percent of new cars being sold in Georgia were electric. Then they pulled away the punch bowl. But a very illuminating thing happened after Georgia's incentives expired. Unlike the Nissan Leaf, which made up the majority of the EV market there, sales of electric-luxury Teslas were barely affected by the loss of the tax credit. In fact, more people are buying Teslas in Georgia today than during the subsidy years. The Tesla exception shows what happens when an electric car reaches parity with fuel-burning competitors in both price and function. Unlike the Leaf and the BMW i3, the Tesla Model S is quicker than similarly priced gasoline cars, has a long driving range, extensive fast-charging network, and is packed with unrivaled tech advances like Autopilot and wireless software updates.

For true mass-market appeal, the up-front sticker price is what matters most, and battery prices must come down further. Fortunately, prices are falling fast—by roughly 20 percent a year. The manufacturing cost of electric cars will fall below their gasoline counterparts across the board around 2026, according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
So, when the U.S. incentives begin to expire next year, don’t expect a collapse in the market. All the top carmakers are investing billions of dollars to electrify their drivetrains, and the smart ones will compete aggressively on pricing in the short-term in order to establish market share for the long haul. Incentives are important, but they won’t define the market for much longer. B

Vanilla - Vanilla price reaches record high after Madagascar cyclone

The price of vanilla has soared to a record high as Madagascar, the world’s top producer of vanilla beans, grapples with damage wrought by a cyclone. Used in ice cream, chocolate and perfume, vanilla pods are trading at an all-time high of $600 a kilogramme, according to US vanilla and flavourings group, Nielsen Massey.

Prices for vanilla, which is not traded on an exchange, had already surged over the past year thanks to speculative hoarding and rising demand as more consumers shun artificial flavourings and ingredients. The price climbed from about $100 a kg in 2015 to $450-$500 at the start of this year. Cyclone Enawo has displaced almost 500,000 people since it struck the island off Africa’s east coast last month. Madagascar produces about 80 to 85 per cent of the world’s vanilla crop. Other producers include Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Uganda and India.  FT
Space Mining - Space May Be Next Frontier for Earth's Crude Oil Giants

The Middle East has an outsize impact on energy here on Earth. One analyst thinks some regional powerhouses may leverage that role into the development of natural resources in space. Countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are developing space programs and investing in nascent private space commodity initiatives, said Tom James, a partner at energy consultant Navitas Resources. Doing so could give them a foothold in building extraterrestrial reserves of water -- a substance likely to fuel travel within space -- and other resources that could be used for in-space manufacturing. Navitas expects companies to launch satellites searching for rare gases and metals in asteroids within five years, with actual mining happening within eight. 

A single asteroid might contain 175 times more platinum than the Earth mines in a year, Goldman said, citing a project associated with MIT. That much platinum could be worth $25 billion to $50 billion, although it would likely crater the market for the metal. B

Renewables - Taxes Are No Longer Certain And That's Disrupting Solar Deals

After Trump’s surprise victory in November, clean-energy proponents worried that the prospect of tax reform would slow wind and solar finance. Instead, deals may be accelerating -- at least in solar -- as developers and investors rush to get deals done before the corporate rate falls. But developers may have to pay more than they would have before the election.

Part of the reason for the rush: lower corporate tax rates may deplete the supply of tax equity, an esoteric but critical source of financing for wind and solar farms. In such deals, clean-energy developers sell a portion of their projects’ tax credits to companies -- often banks and some insurance companies -- that can apply the federal credits to their own tax bills. If tax rates fall, investors would have less need for write-offs. Many deals this year are priced assuming corporate tax rates of 25 percent, or even 20 percent. If the rates go lower, financing packages may no longer be as economical for developers. B

Renewables - This map shows why renewables and natural gas are taking over the US

The University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute has put out an incredibly useful interactive map showing what types of power plants are cheapest to build in every county in the continental United States. Playing around with the map, you can see why natural gas and renewables are likely to provide much of America’s new electric capacity going forward. It also shows why, despite Trump’s promises, it will be extremely difficult to build new US coal plants anytime soon.

In most of the US, the lowest-cost plants tend to be natural gas combined cycle plants (NGCC, in red) or wind farms (in green). In the West, utility-scale solar photovoltaic plants (in purple) prevail. This explains why solar, wind, and natural gas have been the vast, vast majority of new capacity additions in the past few years — and will be for the foreseeable future, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The first thing to note is that almost nowhere in the country is it cheapest to build a new coal plant. Even without subsidies, wind remains the cheapest option in the middle of the country....  Vox 

Real Estate Tech Deals Tick Up, But Still Well Below Peak … Funding, however, is on track to reach record levels.

We define real estate technology as the software tools and platforms used by different participants in the real estate industry, including brokers, investors, real estate-focused lenders and mortgage providers, property owners, and managers, as well as buyers. The category includes online real estate rental and buying guides. We do not include travel rental services like Airbnb, nor do we include property owners, including companies like WeWork.  CBI

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