Top Five Stories in Energy This Week
Recovering from one of the most devastating storms to hit Florida in the 21st century is proving difficult for many residents. The fuel shortages experienced before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Sunshine State were still being felt a week after the devastation, particularly in the South Florida region. Another challenge being felt across the state is related to the prices that drivers are seeing at the pump; even though Port Everglades and Tampa have resumed operations, low supplies and the fact that many communities are using fossil fuels to operate generators have resulted in higher prices. According to a report published by financial news site TheStreet.com, analysts expect gas prices to remain high in Florida over the next few weeks. The average price of gasoline in the United States stands at $2.63 per gallon; in Florida, the statewide average is $2.71.
In the American Midwest, the Buckeye State currently employs 105,000 individuals engaged in the renewable energy sector; this statistic puts Ohio in a position that is only second to Illinois in the region. According to the Clean Energy Trust, an investment banking firm that specializes in the renewable energy sector, Ohio is also a leading state in terms of solar panel manufacturing, an industry that employs thousands of skilled workers. Lawmakers are trying to introduce measures that would increase jobs in this burgeoning sector.
In the late 20th century, the prospect of using hydrogen as a fuel to power motor vehicles was something that engineers believed was going to develop faster than electric vehicles. Along the way, hybrids and plug-in electric cars became a more viable option because it took longer to reduce hydrogen volatility. According to a report published recently by Texas Monthly, hydrogen fuel cells are once again being considered for automotive use due to the long hours needed to fully charge an electric vehicle. The World Economic Forum is committed to investing $1.5 billion per year towards hydrogen production research, which many scientists believe is a more sensible replacement to fossil fuels.
West Texas Intermediate forward prices for 2018 are trading around $51 per barrel, up from $45 per barrel in June, a level high enough to encourage US shale producers to increase drilling as well as hedging activity again, writes John Kemp. If forward prices move toward $55 per barrel, shale drillers may abandon consolidation efforts to focus on output growth, which could result in overproduction and weaker prices, Kemp writes.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that the target prices for production of solar energy panels have been reached three years ahead of schedule; this means that the cost of manufacturing panels destined for utility companies has fallen to about six cents per kilowatt hour on average, which is about a dollar per watt. Solar energy projects still have to research how to drive down other costs to generate more profits; at this time, coal-powered electricity plants are still cheaper to operate, but their solar panel counterparts are catching up very quickly.