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EGEB: EV supporters respond to Saudi oil refinery attack, South Africa’s $11B green energy plan, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • EV supporters tweet about the Saudi oil refinery drone attack.
  • South Africa kicks off a US$11 billion green-energy initiative.
  • A South Carolinian lists the benefits of solar energy for her state.
  • Green energy is important, but so are the batteries that store it.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

On Saturday morning, Saudi Arabian oil processing company Aramco’s plants at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by drones. (Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, but the US is blaming Iran, who denies they were responsible. Saudi Arabia says Iranian weapons were used.)

Abqaiq is the world’s largest processing plant, and Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter. The fires that resulted from the attacks halted nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. That’s 5% of the global daily oil supply.

As of this morning, news outlets reported a “massive price spike” in oil. The International Energy Agency says it’s the largest disruption in oil production on record, but Saudi Arabia says it can tap into its stockpiles to keep supply going.

So, I scrolled through Twitter to see what electric vehicle drivers and supporters thought about this major fossil-fuel energy supply disruption. (Gas prices will likely “creep up” this fall, said an oil analyst.)

Mark Brownstein, senior vice president of energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that efficiency and diversification were important considerations for the US:

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), a nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce US dependence on oil, took this opportunity to promote EVs as a long-term solution:

Australia’s Renew Economy, an independent news and commentary site on clean energy and climate change, cited Australia’s dependence on imported oil as a weakness, and the country’s need to “embrace EVs.”


And when it comes to saving money on gas for individual drivers, Tesla driver David McLeod and the EV Society of Sudbury, Ontario, had this to say:

Electric vehicle drivers often talk about how much they don’t miss going to the gas station. The Saudi Arabian incident just drives that home (no pun intended).

South Africa’s green initiative

South Africa is hashing out a plan to establish the world’s largest green-energy financing initiative.

Cape Town think tank Meridian Economics:

… envisions the establishment of a US$11 billion facility backed by development finance institutions and private funders. The new entity would lend money to Eskom at slightly below commercial rates on condition it accelerates the closure of polluting coal plants to make way for renewable energy…

Eskom supplies about 95% of South Africa’s power and has turned to the government for aid to remain solvent after amassing [around US$30 billion] of debt.

South Africa is the world’s 14th-largest producer of greenhouse gases, and the government is under pressure to deliver on a commitment it made in 2009 to reduce emissions by 42% by 2025.

Several large development finance institutions, climate funds and philanthropic organisations have expressed initial interest in participating in the initiative [said climate economist Emily Tyler of Meridian].

South Carolina Solar

The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act, which passed in May 2019, was a great boost for solar in the Palmetto State.

Shelley Hudson Robbins is the energy and state policy director of Upstate Forever, a Greenville-based conservation nonprofit in South Carolina. Robbins wrote about the benefits of green energy for the state in the Greenville News. Here are some notable excerpts from her op-ed, which notes that solar:

Increasing South Carolina’s solar capacity must become a priority if we want to protect citizens and businesses from the risk associated with fossil fuel commodity prices, if we want to build county coffers without increasing expenses, and if we want to attract the best corporate partners to this state.

Solar is the best choice for the environment — that’s a given — but also for the state’s economic health.

EnlightenSC, a South Carolina energy education program, says that 3.4% of all the electricity South Carolina generates comes from renewable resources if hydropower is included. Obviously, there’s room for improvement there, so it’s good that there’s a growing interest.

Don’t forget the batteries!

Ellen Wald at Forbes rightly points out that globally, solar and wind offer great potential for green energy, but that “we need to find a way to effectively store the power they produce… Right now our batteries cannot store that kind of power over the long term, regularly recharge, and last for years. Investment and innovation in battery and energy storage technology is still needed before we can transition away from fossil fuels.”

My take

Quite right, Ms. Wald. I have solar here in Florida, and plenty of sun to go with it. But what I really want is a phenomenally good battery to store my energy during cloudy days, or, heaven forbid, the power gets knocked out due to extreme weather such as hurricanes. I had no power during Irma for five days because the electrical lines were down and transformers blew, and I don’t want to use a gas-powered generator. They’re polluting and noisy.

I’ll let you know what I find (Tesla Powerwall, I’m researching you), and if you have thoughts you want to share about affordable, great storage batteries, please comment below.

Photo credit: Reuters

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.