When it comes to reducing the number of vehicles on its roads, Amsterdam has a method that not many other cities can offer — taking to the canals. The city has been using its waterways for transport since long before the internal combustion engine even existed. Back in 2016, MIT and the Netherlands’ Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) announced a new collaboration that would provide a cleaner, safer option for water transport in the city — a self-driving electric boat dubbed the Roboat. Now that project is reaching fruition, with trials of the futuristic boat concept about to start.
A new slewing crane has been erected at Marineterrein Amsterdam which allows for the first full-scale prototype of the Roboat to be tested, and is a precursor to further trials with the electric boat in other parts of the city.
Roboats are autonomous vehicles without human drivers on board. They have 4 thrusters that are powered by an electric battery and will travel at a speed or around 4 mph (6 kph). Depending on the type of battery and the cargo load, the Roboat will be able to run for between 12 and 24 hours. Steering is managed remotely by a computer which uses cameras and sensors to scan the area around the vessel to detect moving and stationary objects. Roboats are also modular in design, meaning they can adapted for different use cases such as carrying workers or cargo.
There are a broad number of use cases planned for the Roboats, such as passenger transport, refuse collection, and food delivery. There are a number of key benefits to using this new technology. Stephan van Dijk, director of innovation at the Amsterdam institute, explained that the technology is “very relevant in highly complex port operations, where you have a lot of vessels and a lot of ships and a lot of quays and piers. There you can really improve the safety with autonomous systems, but also make it more efficient and into a 24/7 operations approach.”
Even though the first trials are currently underway, it will be a little while before the boats become commonplace on the waterways. Developers have stated that it will take between two and four years before the self-steering technology is perfected.
Mechatronics engineer Rens Doornbusch clarified this cautious approach: “It’s mostly because we want to be absolutely sure that we can navigate safely in the canals. Right now we have the autonomy in place, but one of the next steps is to make sure that we can actually handle any kind of situation that we might encounter in the canals.”
It’s not only the safety and technological aspects that need to be addressed, there are also legislative hurdles to clear. Van Dijk assures that these challenges are being met. “We are actively working together with the ministries and the legislators to identify what specific legal aspects have to be changed to allow for fully autonomous operation,” he said. In case there are concerns around privacy and the use of data from its scanners and cameras, Van Dijk says that they have been developed “in such a way that we are not identifying any persons that are walking on the roads. So in that sense, privacy is being secured.”
Image courtesy Roboat
Undercutting Climate Goals, Biden Administration Greenlights Oil Drilling in Alaska
It just takes common sense to see that the climate change math of the Biden administration is not adding up: You cannot approve massive oil drilling projects if you want to swiftly reach net-zero emissions.
That is exactly what the administration did when it sided with ConocoPhillips in the company’s bid to drill for more than a half billion barrels of oil in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) in the Alaskan Arctic, erecting infrastructure that will be in operation for 30 years or more. After spending $6 million in federal funds and generating more than 3,600 pages of environmental analysis, the Biden administration’s brief, recently filed in federal district court, argues that the lease the Trump administration granted to ConocoPhillips is “valid” — including its impacts on the climate.
Not surprisingly, the decision drew applause from ConocoPhillips Alaska President Erec Isaacson. The 23.4-million-acre reserve, on Alaska’s central north coast, and under the control of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, was created in 1923 in case the Navy needed emergency oil.
Nearly a century later, that need has been outstripped by the need to leave as much oil in the ground as possible. In an Earth Day fact sheet in April, the Biden administration said it is setting the nation on a firm path toward cutting emissions in half over the next nine years, a carbon-free power sector by 2035, and net zero emissions by 2050. “The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the fact sheet said. “Climate change poses an existential threat.”
Given the dire threat we face, it cannot comport with any rationale for supporting ConocoPhillips. The project would make a mockery of being on a firm path in cutting emissions when the government itself says the project might spew 260 million metric tons of global warming emissions into the atmosphere over the next 30 years, equivalent to the annual emissions from 63 coal-fired plants.
The drilling would also threaten extremely fragile ecosystems for some of the world’s greatest concentrations of nesting and migrating wildlife. While less publicized than the 19.3-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge along the northeast coast run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the NPR is home to a dazzling array of polar bears, seals, walruses, loons, shorebirds, caribou, and peregrine falcons.
“A critical year at the start of a critical decade”
Climate change poses such an existential threat that this spring the International Energy Agency — the intergovernmental energy analysis forum for members of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation — said all nations must act now. With global carbon dioxide emissions rising again as many COVID-19 restrictions end, the IEA said 2021 is a “critical year at the start of a critical decade” to commit to a “total transformation” of energy. It warned that achieving net zero emissions “hinges on a singular, unwavering focus,” adding that: “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply.”
The wavering by the Biden administration on extracting the nation from fossil fuel extraction threatens to neuter the many good things the administration is doing, such as suspending the Trump administration’s leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opposing the now-canceled Keystone XL pipeline, pausing new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands (although that effort is now tangled in a court case), and bringing the United States back into the Paris climate accords.
Other actions and inactions are also concerning. Aside from upholding the Trump administration’s permit for ConocoPhillips, the Biden White House whiffed on shutting down the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline until it could be fully reviewed. Particularly contentious to Indigenous tribes is how the pipeline, which carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois, goes under a reservoir of the Missouri River near the Standing Rock reservation. The administration has also taken no position so far on the proposed expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, that would bring Canadian tar-sands oil through ecologically sensitive parts of Minnesota and tribal lands.
The complicated, partisan web of politics offers a probable reason why the Biden administration is not going all out to fight climate change from the start. The ConocoPhillips project is championed by Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both of whom were among the few Republicans to vote to confirm Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Murkowski is also one of the tiny handful of Republican senators who has been known to very occasionally vote with Democrats on major legislation.
Just as sticky on the Democratic side are politicians such as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. In a Senate split 50-50 along party lines, Manchin (along with Murkowski) already hampered the Biden administration’s carbon mitigation efforts by nixing Elizabeth Klein, Biden’s first choice to be deputy energy secretary, complaining that she wasn’t friendly enough with the oil and gas industry.
Manchin, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, supported the replacement nominee, Tommy Beaudreau, who was approved by the committee for a Senate confirmation vote by an 18-1 margin. As a lawyer, Beaudreau has represented the development of offshore wind and the fossil fuel industry, leading Manchin to describe him as someone whom both sides of the aisle “can work with.”
Rising concern over muddled messages and actions
Concern about the Biden administration’s record to date prompted several environmental groups wrote a June 10 letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland urging her and the Biden administration to halt new drilling permits and cancel any oil and gas leases that were unlawfully rushed through by the Trump administration.
While diplomatically praising the Biden administration’s general climate leadership in a press release, the signatories to the letter were adamant about the need for more action now. One of them, Natasha Leger, executive director of the Citizens for a Healthy Community, said, “The Biden administration needs to stop the federal government’s complicity in climate degradation by ending new oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands.”
President Biden may be trying to avoid drawing a line in the sand, but it’s looking likely that one may be forced upon him by his base. Back when he was vice president, the Obama White House, pushed an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. Then-Vice President Biden presided during a period when rapid growth of fracked natural gas supplanted coal, which helped to slash overall global warming emissions in the United States. But those positive effects are now in the past; natural gas and its primary component, methane, are now major impediments to fighting climate change.
Even in 2014, then-Vice President Biden recognized that the time was coming for the nation to say no to any new fossil fuels. In a speech that year to a Goldman Sachs energy summit, he said, “What is the long play? To state the obvious, I’m not an investment banker, but I wouldn’t go long on investments that lead to carbon pollution. I’d bid a little more on clean energy. There’s a convergence around addressing climate change and carbon emissions, both here and abroad.”
President Biden now has his chance to say no. The time for the long play is here and the opportunity won’t last.
Featured image courtesy of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
Debunking Myths About Tesla’s Regulatory Credits, Profits, And Jerome Guillen’s Departure
Dave Lee, who has a YouTube channel covering Tesla, investing, and more, recently shared some thoughts about Tesla’s regulatory credits, profits, and even the departure of Jerome Guillen and what all of these could mean for Tesla. While sharing his thoughts, Dave also debunked some fear, uncertainties, and doubt (FUD) about Tesla and likened the FUD wars to a video game — a great analogy, actually.
“Sometimes I feel like we live in a world filled with mobs and memes and the whole world seems connected online via this alternative-alternate universe of tribal warfare. It kind of reminds me of a video game sometimes.”
In a previous video, Dave debunked some FUD regarding Tesla but realized that people are just so caught up in the misinformation that little can help — it’s programmed into their minds. Some of the comments he read helped him how deeply ingrained some of these misunderstandings are.
Regulatory Credits Are Not Government Handouts To Tesla Or Elon
The first example of deeply believed misunderstanding is that of regulatory credits and subsidies. Many who do not like Elon Musk or Tesla often criticize Elon Musk and Tesla for receiving regulatory credits, while looking the other way when other large corporations do so. Dave explained the difference between subsidies and regulatory credits while noting that these are not handouts, as some of the marketed FUD would have you believe.
“Tesla makes some regulatory credits every quarter. However, most people — or a lot of people out there — think that these regulatory credits are somehow government subsidies given right directly to Tesla by the government. The reality is each government or different countries around the world — some of them have some strict standards against, you know, carbon emissions from cars.
“And if certain automakers don’t meet those strict standards, then they have to pay some fines. But in order to avoid those fines, these governments have set up a system where they could buy these certain emission credits from other auto companies that that don’t give much emissions out of their cars.
“And that’s what’s happening here. Tesla is getting the vast majority of their regulatory credit sales from other OEM manufacturers; not directly from the government.”
Dave explained that governments do give tax credits or rebates for EVs, but this is always or almost always to the customer directly. Tesla’s not getting that money into its bank account. The customer buys the vehicle and the rebate or credit is applied — putting the extra cash into the customer’s pocket — not Tesla’s.
Myth: Tesla Doesn’t Make Money On Its Cars
The above FUD, centered around regulatory credits, is often linked with the idea that Tesla isn’t making money on its vehicles. The two combined are something that many think is a real thing. Tesla is getting free money from the government and not making any profit from selling its cars — this thought is pure FUD and I love how Dave debunked it.
“A lot of people think that Tesla doesn’t make any money on their cars, and that’s kind of crazy because Tesla has been profitable for many, many quarters.”
Another thing Dave brought up is that Tesla is bringing in billions of dollars every year. Those billions of dollars are mostly coming from its car sales.
“Over the past four quarters, Tesla brought in over $36 billion in revenue and they’re making a healthy gross profit.”
That gross profit, between 20% and 25%, is leaving Tesla with billions of dollars of gross profit even after covering its operating expenses. Tesla still makes a profit in the end, along with positive free cash flow.
This past week, Jerome Guillen parted ways with Tesla, which led to a slew of negative headlines and heightened FUD. Honestly, we don’t know the specifics, and I feel that it’s really none of our business. Guillen’s reasons for leaving weren’t publicized, and I personally think that he shouldn’t be hounded and neither should Tesla. The way some of the headlines gushed over him leaving, you would think he was dating Elon or something — the FUD was that wild.
Dave shared his thoughts on Guillen’s decision to leave and noted that the FUD is leading people to think that Tesla is really in trouble. Dave tackled the FUD in a different way by starting with Guillen’s work history at Tesla.
“Jerome Guillen was the former president of Auto for Tesla, which is a huge role, and I think Jerome will go down in Tesla history as a super important person who played some crucial roles. For example, early in the day back in the day in 2014 or 2015 or so, Jerome Guillen was head of Tesla Sales and Service, a hugely important role. Next, he came back after a hiatus and he really helped Tesla ramp the Model 3.
“He was working on the Tesla Semi but Elon brought him over and he really was the person responsible for building an assembly tent that really turned the corner for Tesla in their ramp of Model 3 in 2018. Afterward, Jerome was promoted to president of Tesla Auto, largely because Elon needed somebody to take care of the entire supply chain and the hundreds and hundreds of suppliers all around the world.”
Dave pointed out that for Tesla to have someone with the title of President of Automotive would help that cause. He noted that, recently, Guillen stepped down from that position to switch to being President of Heavy Trucking — and now, according to a company filing, he has left the company. Dave shared that he was saddened and somewhat disappointed that Guillen is leaving.
Dave’s met Guillen several times and noted that Guillen knew how to work with Elon. Dave also shared that when he asked Guillen if the Shanghai factory was going to be on time back during Autonomy Day, Guillen replied that it was because it was under his watch.
“All in all, I think we’re going to miss Jerome and I believe he will do well wherever he goes. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up head of a large auto company in the future and he does a great job. Because I think he’s learned a lot of great examples that have been set at Tesla.”
Tesla’s Business Structure Ensures It Will Weather The Storms
Dave noted that he believes that Tesla will do fine and touched upon what he thought most people aren’t understanding about Tesla.
“I think Tesla as a company isn’t structured like a typical large company. Tesla has 80,000 employees. However, they are an extremely engineering-focused company, which is actually quite unique. And they’re driven by ambitious projects and goals that all bring things together that set Tesla apart, I think, from the rest.
“Many other companies are planning focused. They’re management focused, right? You bring in your MBAs, you bring in your accountants, CFOs. Other companies are very marketing focused. However, for Tesla, they are very uniquely engineering focused where they’re pushing big improvements. They’re looking to release new and better products constantly and a lot of the departments actually report to Elon directly.
“Now, this is another kind of unique thing about Tesla. Usually, a CEO just delegates everything to his VPs or exec senior VPs and they take care of all the things and the CEO just takes care of the vision. However, with Elon, he’s directly involved with so many different areas of engineering because he wants to combine the minute details of the power of engineering together with the bigger context of giving audacious goals and ambitious goals to drive forward progress, innovation.”
Elon is hands-on and gets direct reports from various teams, and meets regularly with his teams. Elon is also in a lot of different engineering meetings where he gives feedback and tries to help solve engineering problems so the teams can push those forward, so that those audacious and ambitious goals can become reality.
Since Tesla is so engineering-driven, having a key executive such as Jerome Guillen leaving will not affect the engineering. Had Tesla been a marketing-focused company or management-focused company, perhaps having a key executive leaving would have been a major challenge. Dave pointed out that Elon is still there to guide the whole process and noted that it’s actually easier for another competent person to step into these key roles as long as they are engineering-focused and they know how to lead engineering while being open to shooting for the stars. Do you agree?
You can watch Dave’s full video here.
Tropical Storm Claudette … Heat Dangers & Injustice — Nexus News Briefs
Tropical Storm Claudette Restrengthens, Targets Outer Banks
Tropical Storm Claudette caused at least 13 deaths in the Southeast over the weekend, as it left flooding and destruction across the region. The third named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, Claudette dumped up to 15 inches of rain on southeastern Louisiana on Saturday, southern Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle. The storm, which weakened into a tropical depression over land, regained Tropical Storm status as it bore down on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Source Death Toll: USA TODAY; Flooding/destruction:Sources: Washington Post $, Yale Climate Connections, New York Times $; Restrengthening: New York Times $, Washington Post $, Tallahassee Democrat, CNN
Originally published by Nexus Media (image added by editor).
Heat Dangers Worst For Communities Already Harmed By Injustice
Extreme heatwaves disproportionately harm communities of color, poor communities, people experiencing homelessness, and the elderly. Those without access to air conditioning in their homes, and without means of transportation to cooling centers are particularly at risk, as are farmworkers, construction workers, and others unable to put food on the table without risking heat stroke working in the sun.
Originally published by Nexus Media.
Tesla Honors The Historical Silk Road With The Longest Supercharger Route From East To West In China
Tesla announced on Twitter from its Tesla Greater China account that it has opened the longest Supercharger route from east to west in China. The tweet included a stunning video and the hashtag #TheSilkRoute, which is a nod to China’s historic Silk Road and what the country is doing to modernize the ancient route.
— Tesla Greater China (@teslacn) June 19, 2021
“Across the boundless desert and the isolated Gobi, lay a realm of desolation once unknown to many. Some, with firm belief, embarked on a long journey. They marched fearlessly along the way and opened up a path of exploration. Despite uncertainty and danger, the will to discover was valid as always. Along this trail, thousand years of history fades in the blink of an eye. This time, together with Tesla, let us come alongside the time-honored Hexi Corridor and return to the ancient Silk Road where the West and the East encounters to revive the buried epics, to retrieve the forgotten beauty. Beyond distance and time, unbound by tradition or trends, towards the farther oasis. Embrace all in a pure way with a pure heart.” —Tesla China.
The Hexi Corridor, also known as the Gansu Corridor, is a historically narrow stretch of plain that is west of the Yellow River’s Ordos Loop and is part of the Northern Silk Road that runs northwest from the western section of the Ordus Loop between Yinchuan and Lanzhou. It was the most important trade route in Northwest China and linked the nation to historic Western regions for both traders and military incursions into Central Asia.
The Silk Road was established during the Han Dynasty era sometime between 206 BC and 220 AD. It expanded to the west and built a trade network with Central Asian countries and connected the empire with Europe. Silk, spices, and jade were traded for glass, gold, and other noble metals. This ancient trading route was an exchange bridge for trade, culture, and religions between China and Western nations.
China is modernizing the New Silk Road by linking countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa together with a focus on investment for railway, highway, and port construction. The New Silk Road Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Initiative, defines Belt as the overland routes and Road as the sea routes. Altogether, the project promotes global cooperation and economic development.
Tesla is playing a key role in not only modernizing the New Silk Road, but making it much cleaner by installing 27 Supercharger stations across 5,000 kilometers along the Hexi Corridor. @Ray4Tesla also gave a clue about this back in December.
🇨🇳 SuC Update: 2 SuC stations go online today in Hami & Urumqi in farthest West 🇨🇳. This is significant development, marking the beginning of building all 11 SuC stations along “Silk Road” all the way to Xi’an. @Teslacn doesn’t rest on its laurels. It just completed 600th SuC. pic.twitter.com/BocTzWer1S
— Ray4Tesla⚡️🚘☀️🔋 (@ray4tesla) December 23, 2020
I touched upon the idea of Tesla installing Superchargers along the entire length of the Silk Road back in December after seeing Ray’s tweet, and I remember thinking that it would be really neat if Tesla was able to do this. Six months later, we are seeing that idea taking form and I am excited to witness it.
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