Categoria: energia

Covid le superfici green che annullano i batteri: è milanese il brevetto

Tecniche sostenibili di cromatura e copertura di superfici con proprietà antibatteriche e antivirali: tra i brevetti di Kenosistec

FOTO USO UFFICIO STAMPA: bit.ly/3xGox4w

Ogni giorno veniamo a contatto con innumerevoli superfici, fonti di virus e batteri, più o meno dannosi. Soprattutto a seguito dell’emergenza da COVID19, è necessario ripensare e includere nelle tecnologie di deposizione nuove misure igienico-sanitarie efficaci e resistenti nel tempo.

Kenosistec, azienda lombarda, ha lanciato prodotti che ambiscono a rivestire ogni superficie in modo innovativo e sostenibile. Parliamo di film trasparenti in grado di conferire a ogni superficie proprietà antibatteriche e antivirali, e trattamenti PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) che aggiungono nuovi strati di protezione ai prodotti.

Nata nel 2005 e guidata da Mauro Margherita, l’azienda punta a scrivere il futuro del “coating” – il termine inglese usato per indicare il comparto dei rivestimenti.

Cos’è BioK e come funziona

BioK è il nome del processo che Kenosistec sta brevettando in collaborazione con IIT Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia: si tratta di un film trasparente in grado di conferire a qualsiasi superficie delle proprietà antibatteriche e antivirali mantenendo le originali caratteristiche estetiche.

 

L’efficacia di BIOK è stata testata contro i batteri dei ceppi Escherichia Coli e Staphylococcus Aureus, tra i più diffusi e responsabili di molte infezioni da contatto. Il nuovo rivestimento ha un finish traslucido e con la sua proprietà antibatterica è in grado di abbattere sino al 99,9 % dei batteri comuni.

«Chiunque tra noi si sposti con mezzi pubblici o entri in ufficio, quando tocca delle superfici, inesorabilmente entra in contatto con dei germi più o meno pericolosi Immaginate perciò il vantaggio di superfici che distruggono autonomamente batteri e virus dopo poco tempo dal contatto senza alcuna pulizia esterna,  preservando certe caratteristiche come la trasparenza, fondamentale per esempio in pareti divisorie, finestre ecc, la conduttanza, fondamentale ad esempio nei filtri per l’aria», continua Margherita.

Cromature green e finiture in nero

BioK è solo uno dei brevetti innovativi lanciati dall’azienda.  Chrome + è un’altra delle innovazioni di punta dell’azienda che, assieme al suo partner Barnem Srl di Brescia, ambisce a rivoluzionare le tecniche di cromatura. Tecnicamente, si tratta di un rivestimento a due strati di cui il primo è una vernice, polimerizzata a raggi ultravioletti, che permette poi di depositare cromo metallico, con la tecnologia PVD-HiP.Po (patentata da Kenosistec) anziché la galvanica, riducendo così l’uso di materiali altamente inquinanti e pericolosi dei processi industriali attualmente in uso. Il tutto avviene garantendo un aspetto   esteticamente equivalente ad un processo galvanico e capace di superare test tra i più severi quali quelli del settore Automotive

E ancora Nero Hi.P.Po , un  rivestimento innovativo pensato per le finiture in nero: «ll nero continua a essere uno dei colori più richiesti per la maggior parte dei prodotti di consumo, specialmente nell’arredamento di casa, negli accessori di cucina e nei sanitari. Il nuovo nero Hi.P.Po.  permette di produrre un rivestimento stabile, uniforme ed esteticamente molto luminoso. In più, la macchina Kenosistec equipaggiata con la tecnologia Hi.P.Po riesce ad avere una produttività fino al 300% maggiore delle macchine PVD oggi in commercio»,  conclude Margherita.

Kenosistec:  Parte del Gruppo Angelantoni Industrie, Kenosistec nasce nel 2005, come risultato della fusione di due precedenti aziende , Kenotec e Sistec, diventando sin da subito un  punto di riferimento europeo per le soluzioni di deposizione di film sottili. L’azienda mira a essere sempre di più il punto di riferimento su scala globale per la realizzazione di sistemi di coating che abbiano alte performance e grande affidabilità.  Info: https://www.kenosistec.com/en

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns - 2019 Edition

Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2019 Edition)

Commodities are an interesting asset class to watch.

In certain years, all commodities will move in price together in an obvious and correlated fashion. This is a representation of the cyclical characteristics of commodity markets, in which macroeconomic factors align to create a tide that lifts or sinks all boats.

At the same time, however, each individual commodity is incredibly unique with its own specific set of supply and demand circumstances. In the years when these supply or demand crunches materialize, a certain commodity can surge or crash in price, separating itself from the rest of the pack.

A Decade of Commodity Returns

Today’s visualization comes to us from our friends at U.S. Global Investors, and it tracks commodity returns over the last decade.

More specifically, it takes a closer look at individual commodities (i.e. corn, gold, oil, zinc) to show how performance can vary over time. With a quick examination of the graphic, you can see years where commodities moved together – and some years where individual commodities stole the show unexpectedly.

Palladium: A Perennial Winner

The best performing commodity in 2018 was palladium, which found itself up 18.6% – just enough to edge out corn, which jumped up 17.9% in price last year.

Interestingly, palladium has also been the best performing commodity over the 10-year period as well:

Palladium is the best performing commodity

Palladium has finished in first place in four of the last 10 years, including in 2017 and 2018 – it’s also impressive to note that palladium has only had negative returns twice in the last decade (2011, 2015).

A Crude Awakening

The worst performing commodity in 2018 was crude oil, which fell -24.8% in price.

Like palladium, this wasn’t a unique occurrence: crude has actually been the worst performing commodity investment over the last decade:

Oil is the worst performing commodity

As you can see, crude oil has been the worst (or second worst) commodity in three of the last five years.

Further, as our chart on how all assets performed in 2018 shows, crude oil was outperformed by every other asset class, and the energy sector had the poorest performance out of all S&P 500 sectors last year.

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ENERGY

All the World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map

Today’s interactive map shows all of the world’s coal power plants, plotted by capacity and carbon emissions from 2000 until 2018.

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All The World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map

The use of coal for fuel dates back thousands of years.

Demand for the energy source really started to soar during the Industrial Revolution, and it continues to power some of the world’s largest economies today. However, as the clean energy revolution heats up, will coal continue to be a viable option?

Today’s data visualization from Carbon Brief maps the changing number of global coal power plants operating between 2000 and 2018. The interactive timeline pulls from the Global Coal Plant Tracker’s latest data and features around 10,000 retired, operating, and planned coal units, totaling close to 3,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity across 95 countries.

On the map, each circular icon’s size represents each plant’s coal capacity in megawatts (MW). The data also highlights the type of coal burned and the CO₂ emissions produced as a result.

A Precarious Power Source

Throughout its history, coal has been used for everything from domestic heating and steel manufacturing, to railways, gas works, and electricity. The fuel played a pivotal role in powering economic development, and had a promising future with a flurry of plant openings.

However, in 2016, coal output dropped by 231 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Combined with a rapid slowdown of new plants being built, total coal units operating around the world fell for the first time in 2018.

With the remaining fleet of plants operating fewer hours than ever, plant closures have been triggered in South Africa, India, and China—steadily eroding coal’s bottom line. Industry trends have also forced a wave of coal companies to recently declare bankruptcy, including giants such as Peabody Energy and Alpha Natural.

Can Coal Compete with Clean Energy?

Today, coal is experiencing fierce competition from low-priced natural gas and ever-cheaper renewable power—most notably from wind and solar. Further, solar power costs will continue to decline each year and be cut in half by 2020, relative to 2015 figures.

chart

Source: Lazard

Natural gas surpassed coal as America’s #1 power source in 2016, with the total share of power generated from coal tumbling from 45% in 2010 to 28% in 2018. By next year, the role of coal is expected to be further reduced to 24% of the mix.

On the interactive visualization, the decline of coal is especially evident in 2018 as plant closures sweep across the map. The chart shows how several countries, notably China and India, have been closing many hundreds of smaller, older, and less efficient units, but replacing them with larger and more efficient models.

As of today, China retains the largest fleet of coal plants, consuming a staggering 45% of the world’s coal.


Use the above slider to see the difference between China’s coal plants in 2000 with projected future capacity.

Towards a New Reality

Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel, and for every tonne of coal burned there are approximately 2.5 tonnes of carbon emissions. The International Energy Agency states that all unabated coal must be phased out within a few decades if global warming is to be limited.

Despite these warnings, global coal demand is set to remain stable for the next five years, with declines in the U.S. and Europe offset by immediate growth in India and China. The latter are the main players in the global coal market, but will eventually see a gradual decline in demand as they move away from industrialization.

total phaseout of unabated coal is planned by 14 of the world’s 78 coal-powered countries, with many of these countries working to convert coal capacity to natural gas.

As the price of premium solar generation drops steadily, and innovation in renewable energy technology becomes more prominent, the world is shifting its attention to a clean energy economy. A global revival of coal looks less and less likely—and the fossil fuel might very well one day become obsolete.

Editor’s Note: The map uses WebGL and will not work on some older browsers. The map may also fail to load if you are using an ad-blocking browser plugin.

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ECONOMY

What is a Commodity Super Cycle?

The prices of energy, agriculture, livestock and metals tell the story of human development. Learn about the commodity super cycle in this infographic.

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Visualizing the Commodity Super Cycle

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world has seen its population and the need for natural resources boom.

As more people and wealth translate into the demand for global goods, the prices of commodities—such as energy, agriculture, livestock, and metals—have often followed in sync.

Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

 

Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

The state of our world is shifting beneath our feet — economics alone no longer equate to satisfaction, let alone happiness.

Today’s visualization pulls data from the seventh World Happiness Report 2019, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. We’ve previously shown the variables used to measure happiness in this report, but here, we break down rankings by continent and region for a clearer picture of where each country lies.

happiness north america map

North America

Unhappy Americans have caused the country to tumble in rankings for a third straight year, despite evidence that things are generally looking up. The report attributes much of this erosion to a variety of addictions: opioids, workaholism, gambling, internet, exercise, and even shopping are among them.

Haiti is the least happy country in this region. The country is still struggling to rebuild sanitation infrastructure and other educational and healthcare programs, despite foreign aid.

In brighter news, Nicaragua is seeing great gains in happiness levels, as the country makes a concentrated effort to reduce poverty.

happiness south america map

South America

In South America, the majority of countries cluster around a score of six on the happiness scale.

The one notable exception to this is Venezuela, which is faltering in both happiness rank and regional improvement. The nation’s hyperinflation and humanitarian crisis both show no signs of slowing down.

happiness europe map

Europe

Finland comes out on top of the world for a second consecutive year, and it’s not difficult to see why. The country boasts a stable work-life balance, bolstered by a comprehensive welfare state.

Scandinavian countries appear among the happiest nations for similar very reasons — elevating the region’s score to 16% above the global average.

On the flip side, Ukraine is the unhappiest, likely intensified by the ongoing war in southeastern Donbass. Greece is the least improved, as it continues to heal from the sovereign debt crisis.

happiness middle east map

Middle East and Central Asia

Uzbekistan shows the swiftest regional improvement, as the country has launched an ambitious reform agenda for greater economic, social, and political development and openness.

Unfortunately, Syria’s continued civil war comes with a heavy price for its people and economy, as does the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — although the latter doesn’t seem to impact Israel’s happiness ranking. In fact, Israel finished with the 13th best score, globally.

happiness asia 2019

Rest of Asia and Oceania

In East Asia, the average happiness score is quite close to the global average, with Taiwan standing out as the happiest country.

Singapore out-competes other countries within Southeast Asia, despite only being home to a population of 5.6 million. Its neighbor Malaysia, however, plunged from 35th to 80th place.

Oceania stands alone – Australia and New Zealand are closely matched in their individual happiness scores.

happiness africa map

Africa

The African continent as a

What is Lithium Worth?

The following content is sponsored by Benchmark Minerals Intelligence.

What is Lithium Worth?

What is Lithium Worth?

Different generations find different uses for raw materials, changing the value of these inputs over time.

Lithium is not a new discovery, but its applications are. Scientists first discovered lithium as an element in 1817, but it was not until the 1970s that studies into lithium-ion batteries began.

It was a British chemist working for Exxon that first proposed the idea of lithium-ion battery. However, after some initial testing, Exxon abandoned the project.

Nonetheless, lithium-ion battery technology has evolved into regular use through cell phones and electric vehicles. It offers an alternative to fossil fuels that global industry can run on.

Just as the world currently watches the prices of oil to determine the trade winds, lithium could become just as important for the worldwide movement to clean energy.

Pricing the New Oil

Traditionally, buyers and sellers have priced lithium through long-term contracts. However, in recent times, there has been a push from major end-users, especially automotive OEMs, to have more price transparency and to use third-party independent contract references in negotiations.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has created a standard for pricing the special lithium chemistry for the battery supply chain that the industry can rely on.

Supply & Demand: Miners, Manufacturers and End Users

Lithium is a hot commodity in the mining, manufacturing, energy storage, and automobile industries today. The current size of the market is small, but the potential is huge.

In 2016, the world’s leading lithium battery companies produced 29GWh of batteries. This production is forecast to grow to 1049GWh by 2028, an increase of 3516%.

Data Collection and Price Reporting

There are three cornerstone factors Benchmark uses to set the lithium industry’s reference price.

  1. Quality and grade of lithium
  2. Shipping costs and volumes
  3. Quality and reliability of information

Let’s look in deeper at each one:

1. Quality and Grade of Lithium

Most of the world’s lithium comes from two sources: mined from hard rock deposits of pegmatites, or pumped from lithium brine salars.

Grade and impurity of extracted lithium have unique profiles which will affect its price. Lithium is converted into different compounds: spodumene concentrate, lithium carbonate, and lithium hydroxide.

These different varieties suit manufacturers’ exact specifications with different cost profiles.

2. Shipping Costs and Volumes

The origin and destination of lithium is an important choke point for pricing information. At these locations, “incoterms” are set rules that represent the destination and origin of the material, which in turn affects the cost of lithium.

3. Quality and Reliability of Information

In order to generate a lithium price, Benchmark embarks on the industry’s most rigorous price data collection process that relies on constant contact through email, phone calls, and in-person meetings.

Benchmark analysts evaluate the information received against volumes traded, the position of a company in the market, and reliability of the source of information.

The Results

Independent and accurate prices will be key as the lithium market grows, providing a solid foundation for contract negotiations and a level of transparency that will help attract capital to the market.

The varying nature of lithium chemicals makes it difficult to manage risk, but Benchmark Minerals Intelligence is building a standard for pricing lithium to help manage this, and set us off on a new era of energy.

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Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

There’s little doubt that renewable energy sources will play a strategic role in powering the global economy of the future.

But for now, crude oil is still the undisputed heavyweight champion of the energy world.

In 2018, we consumed more oil than any prior year in history – about 99.3 million barrels per day on a global basis. This number is projected to rise again in 2019 to 100.8 million barrels per day.

The Most Oil Reserves by Country

Given that oil will continue to be dominant in the energy mix for the short and medium term, which countries hold the most oil reserves?

Today’s map comes from HowMuch.net and it uses data from the CIA World Factbook to resize countries based on the amount of oil reserves they hold.

Here’s the data for the top 15 countries below:

Rank Country Oil Reserves (Barrels)
#1 🇻🇪 Venezuela 300.9 billion
#2 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 266.5 billion
#3 🇨🇦 Canada 169.7 billion
#4 🇮🇷 Iran 158.4 billion
#5 🇮🇶 Iraq 142.5 billion
#6 🇰🇼 Kuwait 101.5 billion
#7 🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates 97.8 billion
#8 🇷🇺 Russia 80.0 billion
#9 🇱🇾 Libya 48.4 billion
#10 🇳🇬 Nigeria 37.1 billion
#11 🇺🇸 United States 36.5 billion
#12 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 30.0 billion
#13 🇨🇳 China 25.6 billion
#14 🇶🇦 Qatar 25.2 billion
#15 🇧🇷 Brazil 12.7 billion

Venezuela tops the list with 300.9 billion barrels of oil in reserve – but even this vast wealth in natural resources has not been enough to save the country from its recent economic and humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia, a country known for its oil dominance, takes the #2 spot with 266.5 billion barrels of oil. Meanwhile, Canada and the U.S. are found at the #3 (169.7 billion bbls) and the #11 (36.5 billion bbls) spots respectively.

The Cost of Production

While having an endowment of billions of barrels of oil within your borders can be a strategic gift from mother nature, it’s worth mentioning that reserves are just one factor in assessing the potential value of this crucial resource.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, the production cost of oil is roughly $3.00 per barrel, which makes black gold strategic to produce at almost any possible price.

Other countries are not so lucky:

Country Production cost (bbl) Total cost (bbl)*
🇬🇧 United Kingdom $17.36 $44.33
🇧🇷 Brazil $9.45 $34.99
🇳🇬 Nigeria $8.81 $28.99
🇻🇪 Venezuela $7.94 $27.62
🇨🇦 Canada $11.56 $26.64
🇺🇸 U.S. shale $5.85 $23.35
🇳🇴 Norway $4.24 $21.31
🇺🇸 U.S. non-shale $5.15 $20.99
🇮🇩 Indonesia $6.87 $19.71
🇷🇺 Russia $2.98 $19.21
🇮🇶 Iraq $2.16 $10.57
🇮🇷 Iran $1.94 $9.09
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia $3.00 $8.98

*Total cost (bbl) includes production cost (also shown), capital spending, gross taxes, and admin/transport costs.

Even if a country is blessed with some of the most oil reserves in the world, it may not be able to produce and sell that oil to maximize the potential benefit.

Countries like Canada and Venezuela are hindered by geology – in these places, the majority of oil is extra heavy crude or bitumen (oil sands), and these types of oil are simply more difficult and costly to extract.

In other places, obstacles are are self-imposed. In some countries, like Brazil and the U.S., there are higher taxes on oil production, which raises the total cost per barrel.

Visualizing Copper’s Role in the Transition to Clean Energy

A future powered by renewables is not in the distant horizon, but rather in its early hours.

This new dawn comes from a global awareness of the environmental impacts of the current energy mix, which relies heavily on fossil fuels and their associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Technologies such as wind, solar, and batteries offer renewable and clean alternatives and are leading the way for the transition to clean energy. However, as with every energy transition, there are not only new technologies, but also new material demands.

Copper: A Key Piece of the Puzzle

This energy transition will be mineral intensive and it will require metals such as nickel, lithium, and cobalt. However, one metal stands out as being particularly important, and that is copper.

Today’s infographic comes to us from the Copper Development Associationand outlines the special role of copper in renewable power generation, energy storage, and electric vehicles.

Copper and the Clean Energy Transition

Why Copper?

The red metal has four key properties that make it ideal for the clean energy transition.

  1. Conductivity
  2. Ductility
  3. Efficiency
  4. Recyclability

It is these properties that make copper the critical material for wind and solar technology, energy storage, and electric vehicles.

It’s also why, according to ThinkCopper, the generation of electricity from solar and wind uses four to six times more copper than fossil fuel sources.

Copper in Wind

A three-megawatt wind turbine can contain up to 4.7 tons of copper with 53% of that demand coming from the cable and wiring, 24% from the turbine/power generation components, 4% from transformers, and 19% from turbine transformers.

The use of copper significantly increases when going offshore. That’s because onshore wind farms use approximately 7,766 lbs of copper per MW, while an offshore wind installation uses 21,068 lbs of copper per MW.

It is the cabling of the offshore wind farms to connect them to each other and to deliver the power that accounts for the bulk of the copper usage.

Copper in Solar

Solar power systems can contain approximately 5.5 tons of copper per MW. Copper is in the heat exchangers of solar thermal units as well as in the wiring and cabling that transmits the electricity in photovoltaic solar cells.

Navigant Research projects that 262 GW of new solar installations between 2018 and 2027 in North America will require 1.9 billion lbs of copper.

Copper in Energy Storage

There are many ways to store energy, but every method uses copper. For example, a lithium ion battery contains 440 lbs of copper per MW and a flow battery 540 lbs of copper per MW.

Copper wiring and cabling connects renewable power generation with energy storage, while the copper in the switches of transformers help to deliver power at the right voltage.

Across the United States, a total of 5,752 MW of energy capacity has been announced and commissioned.

Copper in Electric Vehicles

Copper is at the heart of the electric vehicle (EV). This is because EVs rely on copper for the motor coil that drives the engine.

The more electric the car, the more copper it needs; a car powered by an internal combustion engine contains roughly 48 lbs, a hybrid needs 88 lbs, and a battery electric vehicle uses 184 lbs.

Additionally, the cabling for charging stations of electric vehicles will be another source of copper demand.

The Copper Future

Advances in technologies create new material demands.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the transition to renewables is going to create demand for many minerals – and copper is going to be a critical mineral for the new era of energy.

Animation: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales (2010-19)

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It’s challenging to get ahead, but it’s even harder to stay ahead.

For companies looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving, capital intensive, and nascent sector like manufacturing electric vehicles, this is a simple reality that must be accounted for.

Every milestone achieved is met with the onset of new and more sophisticated competitors – and as the industry grows, the stakes grow higher and the market gets further de-risked. Then, the real 800-lb gorillas start to climb their way in, making competition even more fierce.

Visualizing U.S. EV Sales

Today’s animation uses data from InsideEVs to show almost nine years of U.S. sales in the electric vehicle market, sorted by model of car.

It paints a picture of a rapidly evolving market with many new competitors sweeping in to try and claim a stake. You can see the leads of early successes eroded away, the increasing value of scale, and consumer preferences, all rolled into one nifty animation.

The Tesla Roadster starts with a very early lead, but is soon replaced by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which are the most sold models in the U.S. from 2011-2016.

Closer to the end, the Tesla Model S rises fast to eventually surpass the Leaf by the end of 2017. Finally, the scale of the rollout of the Tesla Model 3 is put into real perspective, as it quickly jumps past all other models in the span of roughly one year.

The Gorilla Search

While Tesla’s rise has been well-documented, it’s also unclear how long the company can maintain an EV leadership position in the North American market.

As carmakers double-down on EVs as their future foundations, many well-capitalized competitors are entering the fray with serious and ambitious plans to make a dent in the market.

In the previous animation, you can already see there are multiple models from BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet that have accumulated over 10,000 sales – and as these manufacturers continue to pour capital in the sector, they are likely posturing to try and find how to create the next mass market EV.

Of these, Volkswagen seems to be the most bullish on a global transition to EVs, and the company is expecting to have 50 fully electric models by 2025 while investing $40 billion into new EV technologies (such as batteries) along the way.

The Chinese Bigfoot?

However, the 800-lb gorilla could come from the other side of the Pacific as well.

Global EV Sales

Source: The Driven

Chinese company BYD – which is backed by Warren Buffett – is currently the largest EV manufacturer in the world, selling 250,000 EVs in 2018.

The Chinese carmaker quietly manufacturers buses in the U.S. already, and it has also announced future plans to sell its cars in the U.S. as well.

How will such an animation of cumulative U.S. EV sales look in the future? In such a rapidly evolving space, it seems it could go any which way.

Mapped: Fossil Fuel Production by Country

Fossil fuels exist as a double-edged sword for most countries.

On one hand, they still make up a dominant piece of the current energy mix, and oil is still seen as a crucial resource for achieving geopolitical significance. It’s also no secret that fossil fuels are a driver for many economies around the world.

But with governments and corporations counting carbon emissions and mounting concerns about climate change, reliance on these same fuels will not last forever. As attitudes and policies evolve, they will continue to see a reduced role going forward.

Visualizing Fossil Fuels by Country

So, which countries are pumping out the most hydrocarbons?

Today’s cartograms come from 911Metallurgist, and the animated maps resize each country based on their share of global fossil fuel production.

Below, you’ll see four cartograms that cover oil, gas, coal, and total fossil fuel production.

Crude Oil Production

The United States leads this category, producing about 18% of the world’s total oil:

Oil production by country

Although the U.S. is the number one producer globally, it should be noted that the country doesn’t have the same quantity of oil reserves as other leading nations.

Weirdly, Venezuela has the exact opposite problem. The country has the most oil reserves in the world, but currently only sits as its 12th biggest producer.

Natural Gas Production

In terms of gas, the U.S. leads again with a 20% share of global production. Russia is also a gas powerhouse, with a 17.3% share.

Natural gas production by country

After the U.S. and Russia, it’s a fairly steep dropoff in terms of natural gas production. Countries like Iran, Canada, Qatar, and China are the next most significant players, but they each only produce 4-6% of the global total.

Coal Production

Coal use may be on the decline, but China still produces a whopping 45% of the world’s coal.

Coal production by country

China’s current relationship with coal is an interesting one.

Every year, coal has become less important in China’s energy mix – in 2011 it represented 70% of energy consumption, and by 2018 it had fell to 59%.

Despite this meaningful progress, China’s economy has grown so fast, that coal use has essentially held steady in absolute terms. Meanwhile, the country’s production of coal has actually grown slightly over the same timeframe.

Total Fossil Fuel Production

Finally, here is the sum of all three above categories, converted to metric tonnes:

Total fossil fuel production by country

The United States produces 20% of all global fossil fuels, with Russia and Iran rounding out the top three. After that comes Canada, which produces just under 5% of all fossil fuels globally.

ENERGYVisualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

Visualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

Visualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

If you feel like you’ve seen this diagram before, you probably have.

Every year, it’s assembled by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a research center founded by UC Berkeley and funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The ambitious aim is to chart all U.S. energy use in one Sankey diagram, including the original energy source (i.e. nuclear, oil, wind, etc.) as well as the ultimate end use (i.e. residential, commercial, etc.) for the energy that was generated.

U.S. Energy Use in 2018

According to the research center’s most recent published version of the diagram, U.S. energy use totaled 101.2 quads in 2018.

In case you are wondering, a single quad is equal to 1 quadrillion BTUs, with each quad being roughly equivalent to 185 million barrels of crude oil, 8 billion gallons of gasoline, or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Here is how the recent figure compares to previous years:

Year U.S. Energy Consumption % Fossil Fuels in Mix
2018 101.2 quads 80.2%
2017 97.7 quads 80.0%
2016 97.3 quads 80.8%
2015 97.2 quads 81.6%
2014 98.3 quads 81.6%

As you can see in the table, U.S. energy use has been generally increasing, eventually topping 100 quads per year by 2018. During this time, the total percentage of fossil fuels in the mix has dropped, but only from 81.6% to 80.2%.

Taking a closer look at the data, we can see that the largest percentage increases in the mix have come from solar and wind sources:

Source 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Change (’14-’18)
Solar 0.427 0.426 0.587 0.775 0.949 +122%
Wind 1.73 1.78 2.11 2.35 2.53 +46%

Energy use measured in quads (1 quadrillion BTUs)

Solar use has increased 122% since 2014, while wind jumped 46% over the same timeframe. Not surprisingly, energy derived from coal has fallen by 26%.

Dealing With the Rejects

One interesting thing about the diagram is that it also shows rejected energy, which represents the energy that actually gets wasted due to various inefficiencies. In fact, 68% of all energy generated is not harnessed for any productive use.

This makes sense, since gasoline engines are usually only about 20-40% efficient, and even electric engines are 85-90% efficient. Put another way, a certain percentage of energy is always released as heat, sound, light, or other forms that are hard for us to harness.

As electric cars rise in popularity and as modern gas-powered engines also get more efficient, there is hope that the amount of this rejected energy will decrease over time.

ECONOMYWhat is a Commodity Super Cycle?

What is a Commodity Super Cycle?

Visualizing the Commodity Super Cycle

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world has seen its population and the need for natural resources boom.

As more people and wealth translate into the demand for global goods, the prices of commodities—such as energy, agriculture, livestock, and metals—have often followed in sync.

This cycle, which tends to coincide with extended periods of industrialization and modernization, helps in telling a story of human development.

Why are Commodity Prices Cyclical?

Commodity prices go through extended periods during which prices are well above or below their long-term price trend. There are two types of swings in commodity prices: upswings and downswings.

Many economists believe that the upswing phase in super cycles results from a lag between unexpected, persistent, and positive trends to support commodity demand with slow-moving supply, such as the building of a new mine or planting a new crop. Eventually, as adequate supply becomes available and demand growth slows, the cycle enters a downswing phase.

While individual commodity groups have their own price patterns, when charted together they form extended periods of price trends known as “Commodity Super Cycles” where there is a recognizable pattern across major commodity groups.

How can a Commodity Super Cycle be Identified?

Commodity super cycles are different from immediate supply disruptions; high or low prices persist over time.

In our above chart, we used data from the Bank of Canada, who leveraged a statistical technique called an asymmetric band pass filter. This is a calculation that can identify the patterns or frequencies of events in sets of data.

Economists at the Bank of Canada employed this technique using their Commodity Price Index (BCPI) to search for evidence of super cycles. This is an index of the spot or transaction prices in U.S. dollars of 26 commodities produced in Canada and sold to world markets.

  • Energy: Coal, Oil, Natural Gas
  • Metals and Minerals: Gold, Silver, Nickel, Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Potash, Lead, Iron
  • Forestry: Pulp, Lumber, Newsprint
  • Agriculture: Potatoes, Cattle, Hogs, Wheat, Barley, Canola, Corn
  • Fisheries: Finfish, Shellfish

Using the band pass filter and the BCPI data, the chart indicates that there are four distinct commodity price super cycles since 1899.

  • 1899-1932:
    The first cycle coincides with the industrialization of the United States in the late 19th century.
  • 1933-1961:
    The second began with the onset of global rearmament before the Second World War in the 1930s.
  • 1962-1995:
    The third began with the reindustrialization of Europe and Japan in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
  • 1996 – Present:
    The fourth began in the mid to late 1990s with the rapid industrialization of China

What Causes Commodity Cycles?

The rapid industrialization and growth of a nation or region are the main drivers of these commodity super cycles.

From the rapid industrialization of America emerging as a world power at the beginning of the 20th century, to the ascent of China at the beginning of the 21st century, these historical periods of growth and industrialization drive new demand for commodities.

Because there is often a lag in supply coming online, prices have nowhere to go but above long-term trend lines. Then, prices cannot subside until supply is overshot, or growth slows down.

Is This the Beginning of a New Super Cycle?

The evidence suggests that human industrialization drives commodity prices into cycles. However, past growth was asymmetric around the world with different countries taking the lion’s share of commodities at different times.

With more and more parts of the world experiencing growth simultaneously, demand for commodities is not isolated to a few nations.

Confined to Earth, we could possibly be entering an era where commodities could perpetually be scarce and valuable, breaking the cycles and giving power to nations with the greatest access to resources.

Each commodity has its own story, but together, they show the arc of human development.