Energy: The Rise Of The Micro Grids

A few years ago I had a conversation with a sceptic about the centralised power production.. They were unable to visualize a time when householders would generate and regulate power production literally in-house. The prospect of leaving trillions of dollars of fossil fuels in the ground has given big oil and coal industry the willies for decades. Whole swathes of industry will be rendered progressively obsolete. Transporting and burning the billions of tons of material it takes to power mankind will cease. What then? With the advent of robots clever enough to do the jobs that remain what happens to the idling humans?


Moneyweek: Electric cars are just the start – our entire energy infrastructure is being disrupted

Man fitting solar panels © Getty Images
The real game-changer for battery technology is renewable energy

When people get excited about battery technology, it’s usually in connection with electric vehicles.

And it is all very exciting. Shell has introduced electric charging points at various petrol stations in London, Surrey and Derby, which allow electric car drivers to recharge about 80% of their battery in half an hour. It’s a small start, but it is a start.

But there’s another big battery-driven shift going on. And it’s one that could have even bigger consequences than the move towards electric cars…

The rise of the micro-grid

Renewable energy keeps getting cheaper. Solar panels in particular keep getting less expensive and more efficient. It was the fastest-growing form of power generation last year, in terms of capacity added to grids around the world.

The International Energy Agency reckons that solar will continue to dominate future growth. According to IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol, solar photovoltaic capacity growth “will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022”, according to The Guardian.

In sunnier climes, solar energy is already having a huge impact on the economics of electricity production. In the US, for example, wholesale electricity prices will sometimes go negative because of excess generation (too much sun, not enough energy consumption), which means generators in one state are effectively having to pay others to take their overspilll.

That points to the big problem with renewable energy – finding somewhere to keep it. Coal – you can burn that to harvest the energy when you like. Nuclear you can switch on and off. But solar power works when the sun is shining. Wind works when it’s windy.

In other words, you can’t just switch them on and off. You need a middle stage where you can collect the energy and then release it again when you need it.

There are two obvious solutions. One is storage. We’re now getting to the stage where we now have batteries for individual homes. Tesla’s Powerwall is probably the best known, although there’s also a big German manufacturer, Sonnen, and various other providers.

In the US, reports The Wall Street Journal, one property developer – Mandalay Homes – now plans to build estates of ultra energy-efficient homes that come with batteries installed. The idea is to create a “virtual power plant for demand response”.

What does that mean? You’re effectively creating your own little micro-grid, that can take the strain off the main grid by accommodating any spikes in demand.

And this isn’t just happening in the sunny parts of the US. In Japan – spurred partly by the 2011 Fukushima disaster – towns and cities are aiming to become at least partly self-sufficient via the use of microgrids.

As Reuters reports, one city in northern Japan – Higashi Matsushima – has used reconstruction funding to build “decentralised renewable power generation to create a self-sustaining system capable of producing an average of 25% of its electricity without the need of the region’s local power utility”.

The idea is partly to have decent back-up power systems to prevent a repeat of the blackouts that followed Fukushima. But it’s spreading across Japan.

Demand management and smart energy systems

As well as the generation side – fitting renewables into the wider grid and being more generally self-reliant in smaller communities – there’s the consumption side.

Consumption is all about “smart” grids and demand management of energy systems. Basically, this involves enabling all of the devices connected to a grid to talk to each other, and direct and use electricity more effectively. This helps to avoid consumption spikes and makes more sensible use of energy at peak times.

So your various devices would know when was the best time to do the dishwashing, say, or to heat (or cool) the house to a given temperature.

Professor Takao Kashiwagi, who is the head of Japan’s New Energy Promotion Council, tells Reuters that the days of big power plants are numbered. “Instead, we will have distributed power systems, where small power supply systems are in place near the consumption areas.”

It’s all very exciting. Who wouldn’t want a more efficient energy system, ideally powered by a clean and virtually limitless energy source? It could be far more revolutionary than anything we’ve seen so far, including the internet.

And clearly there are huge implications for many sectors here – the potential beneficiaries range from battery manufacturers to the miners of ‘battery’ metals to energy efficient builders to companies involved in the ‘internet of things’.

On the other hand, the “disruptees” – in this case, the utility companies – could have a very interesting challenge on their hands. Particularly as they’ve been seen as dull, reliable stocks for a very long time.

We’ll be looking at how to profit from this in an upcoming issue of MoneyWeek magazine – if you’re not already a subscriber, sign up here.

Tax Justice Network – The Offshore Wrapper

It has been a super busy week here at Wrapper Towers, so this is a shorter update than usual.

Here at the TJN we were all devastated by the news of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Daphne had for many years taken aim at the corruption and criminality that is becoming endemic to this small island tax haven.

In other news, our CEO Alex Cobham has been busy over the last week giving presentations at the Pan Africa Conference on Illicit Financial Flows in Nairobi, where he spoke on the campaign brewing to remove the target to reduce tax avoidance by multinational companies from the Sustainable Development Goals. You can see the slides from his presentation and listen to an audio recording here.

And just a few days later Alex was in Washington DC at the annual meeting of the World Bank Group talking about taxing wealth and addressing wealth inequality.

Alex has written about the event, here, where you can also see a video of the presentation.

Finally, do take a look at the excellent new research published by the Financial Transparency Coalition this week. Their new report – Unequal Exchange – looks at the implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information System. Automatic Exchange is designed to combat tax evasion and other financial crimes by making banks and other financial institutions report to foreign tax authorities when a citizen of their country opens an account. The system isn’t universal, with countries able to opt in and to decide which other countries they wish to exchange with. The FTC has analysed the current state of play, and found that the vast majority of information flows are between high income countries, with lower income countries benefitting very little from the system.

The latest from the TJN Blog

Tax justice, the new Washington consensus?

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Malta & corruption: Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia killed by car bomb

As reported by Reuters, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative journalistRead the full article… The post Malta & corruption: Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia killed by car bomb appeared first on Tax Justice Network.

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Our October 2017 Spanish language Podcast: Justicia ImPositiva, nuestro podcast de octubre 2017

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Naomi Fowler


Tax justice: A powerful means to address inequality CIDSE

A new global solution to money laundering will mainly just help rich countries Quartz
On a report (linked yesterday) by the Financial Transparency Coalition and Christian AID.

PANA Committee finds resistance to reforms by ‘some member states’ Malta Today

Azerbaijan Laundromat shows UK is choice of crooks and despots, says Hodge The Guardian

UK banks’ money laundering risks in South Africa show why senior bankers must be held to account Global Witness

Switzerland agrees to share tax information on multinationals Reuters
Cites TJN Director and Chair John Christensen: ”There are still some issues in Switzerland regarding tax transparency, but there has been progress, and the move to country by country reporting is a major step forward” 

Latin American & Caribbean network convenes its 4th Biennial Assembly in Buenos Aires Global Alliance for Tax Justice

#TaxJustice Tour in Hungary Global Alliance for Tax Justice

João Paulo Batalha – Corruption in Portugal: The mighty have fallen – the elite’s day of reckoning Brave New Europe

Austalia: Come hide with us – bean counters raid big law firms The Conversation
“Could the incursion be designed also to allow the accounting firms to assert legal professional privilege over tax advice for their multinational clients so they can keep that advice out of the hands of the Australian Tax Office?”

EU leaders want proposals on taxing online giants early next year Reuters

France dials back on digital tax plans after US meetings Politico

This Russian general fought the mob. Why does he own $38 million of Florida real estate? The Miami Herald

Bermuda’s New Premier Fires Back At ‘Tax Haven’ Accusations Tax-News
See our blog “We are not a tax haven.” They all say that, and #wanath

Unequal Exchange: How poor countries are blindfolded in the global fight against banking secrecy Financial Transparency Coalition & Christian Aid

Combating Illicit Financial Flows Through Corporate Tax Evasion, By Léonce Ndikumana Premium Times

Strengthening regional collaboration in international taxation Tax Justice Network Latin America & Caribbean (In Spanish)

Nigeria: Federal Government Cautioned on Use of Corporate Tax Incentives to Achieve Projects Implementation This Day Live

Panama Papers: Ousted Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif indicted over corruption claims  The Guardian

Final report of the Panama Papers Committee of Inquiry: European governments heavily accused for failure Sven Giegold

#PanamaPapers: MEPs accuse EU national governments of lacking political will on tax avoidance EU Reporter

Offshore Shell Games 2017: The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies ITEP& U.S. PIRG
See also – Study: 73% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Offshore Tax Havens in 2016

Cayman Islands technocrats lobby on Capitol Hill Cayman News Service

Public country-by-country reporting is going to happen Tax Research UK

Six ways the UK’s financial regulation system is a protection racket for the elite Left Foot Forward
By TJN Senior Adviser @premnsikka

Running the numbers – How African governments model extractive projects – Analytical Report African Natural Resources Centre, African Development Bank

Web of Australian Adani solar companies leads to offshore tax havens The Guardian

Hong Kong Group to Acquire Liechtenstein Bank finews Asia
‘Just weeks after Luxembourg’s oldest bank was sold to Chinese firm Legend Holdings, a Hong Kong listed conglomerate has also moved into European private banking

UK banks ‘exposed to money laundering in South Africa’ BBC News

Did Uganda miss $38 million in tax from Actis-Umeme deals? The Observer

France Probes Danske Bank in Relation to Magnitsky Case OCCRP

Shell Executives Charged With Bribery In Italy PM News Nigeria
“In April, Global Witness and Finance Uncovered revealed that Shell executives knew that $1.1bn they paid for OPL 245 would go to Dan Etete and were likely to be used in a vast bribery scheme”

Rio Tinto: where were the auditors? Tax Research UK

Descent Into Treason – The Last Post

TMSack May and Hammond

They have sold the people out.

Taxpayers pay the extortion/divorce bill – EU banks and corporations reap the profits – UK Sovereignty and democracy sold down the river to EU Dictators. This is treachery.

Now we know what May meant by “Brexit means Brexit”

 Brexit in name only and betrayal.

It is becoming increasingly obvious the Conservative Brexit Plan was to get out in front of the Leave movement with the likes of Boris Johnson and the ‘take back control’ crew then mislead it back into the Dictatorial EU fold with Hammond and May in the vanguard.

Like many who supported UKIP in the past I cannot see any future for the Party without the radical, campaigning Farage at its helm. Farage made the terrible mistake of agreeing to resign the leadership at the behest of the then party chairman Steve Crowther and his poor thinking immediately after the referendum. It was too soon and led to the tragic and now terminal decline of the party.

We tried to warn the country, young and old, that our nations sovereignty, freedom and democracy were at stake. We nearly succeeded but the actions of Farage, May, Hammond and Johnson have compounded the treachery of McMillan, Heath, Wilson, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

The next generation will it seems have to sacrifice on a terrible scale in the not too distant future, to learn the hard lessons of the past, and to regain the freedoms so easily spirited away by traitors to foreign powers over generations without the consent of the British People.

The descent into Treason

“Clause 49 states that there will be regulatory alignment across the whole of the UK economy for an unspecified period. This would mean that Britain would be unable to adjust its laws and negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world, which are important economic benefits of Brexit. Albeit this is related to the Irish question, it could easily be a Trojan horse for a neverendum and would result in the UK having a deal worse than that of Norway. –  Leave Means Leave