Solar Power production and storage

In our article A Clean Energy Revolution is Underway  we tried to elaborate on Solar Power production and storage that is getting preponderant in our life literally by the day.  We are increasingly seeing how Energy is more and more appreciated but from as clean a source as it can be mustered by the available technology and like for anything else, it is no more a matter of generation but rather of storing or stock piling what has been produced.  In this particular case it is about batteries and / or different types of batteries. Here are some of the most noteworthy ones to date.
“To smooth out the production of a solar plant on a 24 hours basis, store a day production of electricity at night. For this batteries are a Classic solution.”  said André Gennesseaux of Energiestro, specialist in the field for 15 years explaining in an article in French of EDF’s Electrek  post.  This is Voss, rewarded by EDF Pulse 2015 priced invention.
Alternatives abound such as for instance the beautiful promises of the hydrogen to address the Intermittency of renewable energy, hydrogen could be the ideal solution to store excess production of wind turbines or solar power stations. EDF has also committed on this topic via its Electranova program.
More recently, Tesla TESLA TESLA BATTERY  commissioned researchers hit good results with a revolutionary battery system.  This is elaborated in this proposed article of electrek posted on May 9, 2017 written by Fred Lambert .  Here it is reproduced for its obvious interests, etc.

Tesla battery researcher says they doubled lifetime of batteries in Tesla’s products 4 years ahead of time [Updated]

@FredericLambert

Almost a year into his new research partnership with Tesla, battery researcher Jeff Dahn has been hitting the talk circuit presenting some of his team’s recent progress. We reported last week on his talk at the International Battery Seminar from March and now we have a talk from him at MIT this week.

He went into details about why Tesla decided to work with his team and hire one of his graduate students, but he also announced that they have developed cells that can double the lifetime of the batteries in Tesla’s products – 4 years ahead of schedule.

Update: Dahn reached out to clarify that the cells in question were tested in the lab and they are not in Tesla’s products yet.

During the talk titled “Why would Tesla Motors partner with some Canadian?” – embedded below, Dahn explained how they invented a way to test battery cells in order to accurately monitor them during charging and discharging to identify causes for degradation.

Like he admitted in his talk at the International Battery Seminar in March, Dahn doesn’t claim that he understands perfectly the chemistry behind the degradation, but the machines that they developed enabled them to test new chemistries more accurately and much faster – resulting in significant discoveries for the longevity of the cells.

One of his students working on the project went on to work for Tesla’s in-house battery cell research group and another started a company to commercialize the battery cell testing machines that they developed. Their client list includes Tesla, but also Apple, GM, 24M, and plenty of other large battery manufacturers and consumers.

In the second half of the talk, he explained how their new testing methods led them to discover that a certain aluminum coating outperformed any other material. The cells tested showed barely any degradation under high numbers of cycles at moderate temperature and only little degradation even in difficult conditions.

When it was time to talk about how those discoveries are impacting Tesla’s products, Dahn asked to stop recording the talk in order to go into the details.

While we couldn’t get that valuable information, when they started recording again, it was for a Q&A session and the first question was about his team’s ultimate goal for the lifetime of li-ion batteries.

He hesitated to answer, but then he said:

“In the description of the [Tesla] project that we sent to NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) to get matching funds from the government for the project, I wrote down the goal of doubling the lifetime of the cells used in the Tesla products at the same upper cutoff voltage. We exceeded that in round one. OK? So that was the goal of the project and it has already been exceeded. We are not going to stop – obviously – we have another four years to go. We are going to go as far as we can.”

This is impressive, especially since their research partnership started only in June 2016 and in February 2017, Dahn said that his team’s research is already “going into the company’s products“ – just a month after Tesla and Panasonic started production of their new ‘2170’ battery cell at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

It’s not necessarily related, but the timing is certainly interesting. It can take some time for products successfully tested in the lab to make it to production products.

It’s also important to note that Dahn’s research was focusing on Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery cells, which Tesla uses for its stationary storage products (Powerwall and Powerpack), and the first cell production at Gigafactory 1 was for those products.

Dahn explained that by increasing the lifetime of those batteries, Tesla is reducing the cost of delivered kWh for its residential and utility-scale projects. He gave examples of the costs at $0.23 per kWh for residential solar with storage and $0.139 per kWh for utility-scale, based on Tesla’s current projects:

For the batteries in its vehicles, Tesla uses Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) and Dahn said that they are also working on this chemistry. Tesla and Panasonic are planning to start production of battery cells for vehicles, starting with the Model 3, at Gigafactory 1 by June 2017.

He added that considering Tesla’s use of aluminum in its chassis, there’s no reason why both the cars and the batteries couldn’t last 20 years.

Here’s the talk in full (update: MIT made the video private after we published our article):

Further reading :

How clean is solar power? The Economist wondered in an article dated December 10, 2016 http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21711301-new-paper-may-have-answer-how-clean-solar-power where all production parameters were critically reviewed in the light of their impacting Climate Change in the process of manufacturing of the necessary hardware.

France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria

by | May 9, 2017

And the prospects of mutual cooperation . . .

The two countries  confronted to their specific challenges ought to have a common vision in order to contribute to a prosperous future as based on genuine co-development and not on obscuring the memory of a shared past for long lasting relationships. The recent France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria, are looked at here as positively as they could be in so many years.
The 187 odd years of very close relationship between the two countries will certainly be in the agendas of each as the renewed French leadership confronted to challenges from all around is settling down shortly for business anew.    
It is about preparing the future through mutual respect; a point that I always made during my various meetings with political and economic personalities, and maintained that Algeria should not be considered as a market only. It is in this context that a co-partnership between Algeria and France, far from prejudice and spirit of domination must be inscribed.
We must be aware that the new international relations are no more based on relationships between heads of State, but on custom networks and on decentralized organizations through the involvement of notably business and civil society cooperation, dialogue of cultures, tolerance and the symbiosis of the contributions of the East and the West.

Because it might be unproductive to be and remain locked in distant positions as the latest events should rather make us think of to how avoid antagonising each other beliefs be it religious.  After all Islam, Christianity or Judaism did contribute to the development of civilization.

Future relations between Algeria and France must also concern the Maghreb-Europe space and more generally the Mediterranean-Europe area. Our two countries can be dynamic agents, because southern Europe and the Maghreb cannot escape adaptation to the current global changes (the present crisis already causing upheaval in both socio-economic and geo-strategic) and more generally throughout the Mediterranean region.

Because it is necessary to go beyond narrow chauvinist nationalism insofar as real nationalism will be defined in the future as the ability to together expand the standard of living of our people by our contribution to the global value.

Today’s world is characterized by interdependence. This does not mean the end of the role of the State but a separation of politics and economics which cannot be the vagaries of the economic climate, the State dedicated to its natural role as regulator of macroeconomic and macro-social life.  I firmly believe and after analysis that the intensification of the cooperation between  Algeria and France not forgetting all other cooperation between Algeria and the USA, all emerging countries such as China, Japan, India, the Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and Russia etc…

And in a more comprehensive way between the Maghreb and Europe as based on a genuine co-development, partnership, the introduction of direct investment would upset the bureaucratic behaviour conservative annuitants and enrol them in a dynamic perspective that is beneficial to the peoples of the region thus helping to  turn the Mediterranean into a lake of peace and prosperity.  The Mediterranean can be that place of rational networking to communicate with distant cultures, encouraging the symbiosis of contributions of the East and the West.

This network should facilitate communication links, freedom insofar as the excesses of the collective voluntarism inhibit any spirit of creativity. It is that the Maghreb and Europe are two geographic areas with an opening on the Latinity millennial experience and the Arab world with natural links and overall culture and Anglo-Saxon influences…

It is essential that Europe developed all actions that can be implemented to achieve a desirable balance within this set. In fact the formation of weak regional economic areas is a step of structural adjustment within the globalized economy with for a goal to promote political democracy, – a humanized, competitive market economy – promotion of ideas through social and cultural debates so as to combat extremism and racism – the implementation of common business whilst never forgetting that these are driven by the logic of profit and not emotions.

Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to the educational action because human thinking and creation should in the future be the beneficiary and the leading actor in the development process. That’s why I would advocate the creation of a Euro-Maghrebine University as a cultural center as well as a central Euro Mediterranean bank as a facilitator for all Exchange.

It is in this context that a realistic approach must be apprehended so as to the co-partnership between Algeria and France taking into account all potentialities.  At the global level, we are witnessing the evolution of a built-up passed based on a purely material vision, characterized by hierarchical rigid organizations, to a new mode of accumulation based on the mastery of knowledge, of new technologies and flexible organizations as networking around the world, with globally segmented supply chains of production where investment in comparative advantages takes place in sub-segments of these channels.

As rightly noted by Jean-Louis Guigou, President of IPEMED (Institute of Prospective Economic of the Mediterranean world, in Paris), it should be that, in the interest of both of the Algerians and of the French, and more generally of the Maghreb and the Europeans as well as all South-Mediterranean populations, the boundaries of the common market of the future, the borders of Schengen in the future, the borders of social protection in the future the borders of the environmental requirements of tomorrow, must be South of the Morocco, the Tunisia and Algeria, South and East of the Lebanon, Syria, of the Jordan and the Turkey, through a lasting peace in the Middle East, Arab and Jewish populations with a thousand-year history of peaceful coexistence.

Specifically, Algeria and France have economically other strengths and potential for the promotion of diverse activities and this experience can be an example of this global partnership becoming the privileged axis of the re-balancing of the South of Europe by amplification and the tightening of links and exchanges in different forms. Per the official foreign trade balance of Algeria in 2016, the countries of the European Union are still its main partners, with the respective proportions of 47.47% and 57.95% of exports and imports.  Italy is the main customer and France the main supplier.

Between France and Algeria, trade can be intensified in all areas, i.e.: agriculture, industry, services, tourism, education, not to mention cooperation in the military field, where Algeria can be an active player, as shown by its efforts to bring stability to the region.

Also, let’s not forget the diaspora with residents of Algerian origin in France that would exceed 4 million, including more than 2 million bi-nationals. This regardless of the numbers is an essential element of reconciliation between Algeria and France, because it holds significant intellectual, economic and financial potential. The promotion of the relations between Algeria and its emigrant community should be mobilized in various stages of intervention initiatives of all the parties concerned, namely the Government, diplomatic missions, universities, entrepreneurs and civil society.

Hence, any intensification of this cooperation won’t possible – whilst not forgetting the duty of memory – if Algeria and France have a realistic approach to the co-partnership for a win-win partnership away from any mercantilism and spirit of domination. The two countries must have a common vision of their future.

Algeria can overcome its current difficulties but the success of national and international industrial partnerships is not feasible without a total renovation of all central and local governance systems with a coherent vision based on both political, social, economic structural reforms including financial market, land and property market, labour and especially reform of the socio-educational system, at the dawn of the fourth technological revolution.

The objective for Algeria is to commit for structural reform, whilst assuming a broad internal mobilization of the social front, tolerating the different sensitivities, in the face of the many challenges in order to allow Algeria to emerge, in the medium and long term.  For this, the dominance of the bureaucratic approach must give way to economic operational approach, with positive social and economic impacts. Also, in the face of the new global changes, Algeria undergoing this transition towards a productive economy closely tied to its energy transition, needs an accumulation of technological and management expertise with assistance from its foreign partners.

In short, Algeria and France are key actors for the stability of the region, and that any destabilization of Algeria would have negative geo-strategic repercussions throughout the Mediterranean and African region, as I pointed out in my interview on December 28, 2016, the American Herald Tribune (3).

And of course, subject to Algeria furthering into the rule of law, democratization of society and that it’s reorienting its economic policy in order to achieve sustainable development. The current tensions between Algeria and France are only temporary, as per information gathered with friends of mine in France.

It is only in this context that cooperation must return for a win-win partnership far from all prejudice and in mutual respect.

Notes : See recent contributions and international interviews of Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul

  1. -«Wahl in Algerien Der Graben ist tief – wer stimmt ab?» – www.tagesschau.de –ARD-  04/05/2017
  2. -« Après Glavany et Macron… « Dépassionner les relations entre l’Algérie et la France » quotidien financier  français la Tribune .Fr 19 février 2017 – (“After Glavany and Macron…» “Take the heat out the relationship between Algeria and France” by French financial daily la Tribune.fr  19 February 2017)
  3.  – American Herald Tribune 28/12/2016 «  Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: Any Destabilization of Algeria would have Geo-strategic Repercussions on all the Mediterranean and African Space
  4.  -Interviews with the weekly Point Afrique (Paris-24/03/2016) and the Express (07/04/2016, Paris) on the prospects for co-operation Algeria-France.
  5.  -This theme was developed by Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, on 7 April 2016 in Marseille at the Mediterranean Villa

 

Green Building – More Than Just a Trend

In the MENA countries, some concerns about sustainability started to be heard of, back in the 1970s. it was in fact more of a follow-on trend than anything else.

European consultants however started ringing the bell about the 4 factors that lie behind the lack of progress but that have to be addressed at the earliest.  These are:

  • Lack of adequate legislation to enforce change towards incorporating sustainability
  • Absence of any discernible incentive towards sustainability
  • Unbalanced subsidies on energy, water, etc. leading to wastage
  • Limited awareness of environmental issues.

Nevertheless some legislation that was sporadically taken in certain countries, apart from not being regionally coordinated, did not also confront the real issues and for lack of not taking account fully the reality as it stands on the ground was across the board fairly ineffective.

The truth is that people slowly come to realise that we are having a devastating impact on the planet that we live on. In less than 2,000 years, human kind has led to the extinction to more species from the face of the earth than its entire existence. Considering that this is just a tiny bit of the overall time for which our planet exists, this is something that raises a lot of concerns. It’s obvious that people start to take initiatives through different LEED programs, sustainable development and through prioritising investments in different green initiatives. One of the most impactful fields is the construction. With this in mind, some things need to be pointed out.

 

Green Building – The Things to Consider

 

The truth is that green building, especially in Europe, has become something far more than just a simple development trend. And, of course, this is quite logical. It has paved the way for an approach which entails building homes and commercial constructions tailored to the demands of their time – not just to the demands of the occupants. And this is something that has to be particularly appreciated. The advantages are multiple.

Water Conservation

It’s worth mentioning that it’s estimated that the lack of fresh drinking water is going to be one of the tremendous burdens for future generations, should we keep wasting it with the temps we are right now. Recycling rainwater, for example, can preserve potable water and yield tremendous amounts of water savings which is definitely to be considered.

Emission Reduction

Fossil fuel emissions contribute to development and furthering of the biggest environmental burden of our times – global warming. Harmful emissions directly impact the quality of the breathable air and bring in a lot of different threats to human’s health such as lung cancer and other respiratory issues.

Storm water Management

This is also something that you might want to account for. Green building as defined in the majority of the LEED Programs can help manage storm water runoff. The latter can cause waterway erosion as well as flooding. The most troublesome thing, however, is that it could introduce potentially dangerous pollutants to water sources, hence incentivising potential diseases outbreaks.

In any case, Europe is definitely riding the wave when it comes to sustainable development, and you can easily observe this in a range of national and multinational projects. What is more, the Union is leading active policies, and it is actively funding initiatives in this particular regard through a range of different grants targeting both individuals and corporations. This is something particularly important. However, the same needs to be employed throughout the rest of the world as well. We can observe companies pioneering the field of sustainable development, and the examples here become more and more. This is definitely something particularly important, and it needs to be taken into proper consideration when it comes to it.

Where is the Market’s Invisible Hand gone?

An article in French by Ramdane Mohand Achour and published on March 25th, 2017 by LibreAlgerie is proposed. It is about Algeria in the course of the persistently decline of its hydrocarbon exports related revenues is currently undergoing soul searching questioning of what is best for making its economy work. Many are wondering where is the market’s invisible hand gone? Like many countries, Algeria that is struggling with falling revenue from lower oil prices is presently looking for ways to upgrade its energy systems to fully support current and future requirements of its economic growth.

Where is the Market’s Invisible Hand gone?

Proponents of liberalism argue that the market naturally produced a self-regulating mechanism that corrects imbalances born out of the multitude of society shaping special interests. This mechanism, called “the invisible hand of the market”, would satisfy the public interest. The law of supply and demand would naturally harmonize economic situation marked by the selfish will of each individual. In this scheme, the State doesn’t have to intervene if it is to guarantee the exercise of free and undistorted competition intended to benefit at all.

The current state of the oil international market turns wrong this angelic vision of a self-regulated inclusive market. Left to itself, the market has experienced a bullish cycle during ten years (1999 – 2008). The price of the barrel thus reached 140 dollars in June 2008 before tumbling within the 2008 crisis, but he soon to rise in 2009 again to be slightly above 120 dollars in April 2011. In 2014, it exceeded even the 110 dollars.

Such a situation was undoubtedly beneficial to the producing countries and companies in the sector as well as those rich countries whose States taxed petroleum products so as to keep their economy afloat. It was not the same for the non-producers, and all poor and middle-income countries who were struggling to feed themselves because of their limited financial resources. The market did not benefit to all, far from it.

The second disadvantage of this situation of relatively expensive oil lay in the fact that it boosted search for more hydrocarbon and production and allowed shale oils to make a big splash, in a full sense of the word, on the world market. With a production of 11 million barrels a day, the United States will see their rate of dependence on foreign oil drop to 30% in 2016 down from 60 percent in 2005.

Such a dynamic did fail to cause a state of overproduction; the purpose of the market is not, contrary to the image that its promoters sell us, to satisfy human needs, but rather to garner, first and above all for not only, profits, but for maximum profits.

Proponents of the “the invisible hand of the market” were right about one thing: in an economy obedient to the laws of the market, the engine of the “economic agents” is selfishness, the individual profit, at the expense of the lives of the producers (workers), consumer and research of nature which we see what mess it is today.

Overproduction intervening in a situation of de facto global stagnation, in the first place, the downturn in the economy of emerging countries (China, Brazil…) dropped slowly but inexorably the price of the barrel. Out of $110, it fell to $35 in February 2016. Decided to reduce the share of the North American Shale oil producers, Saudi Arabia will trigger a price war which played a vital role in this descent into hell.

If the drop in prices could theoretically help poor and middle-income countries producers, it on the other hand hit with full force the producing countries, primarily those of OPEC. For the first time in its history, the rich Saudi Arabia could no more balance its budget and had to resort to austerity. Its involvement in Yemen who turned into a quagmire for Riyadh, financial support of ‘takfirist’ groups in Syria and Iraq and a fierce will to challenge Iran contributed to accentuate its financial crisis. In this sequence of fall in the price of oil, as in the previous bullish sequence, no sign of self-regulation by the market. The invisible hand had other things to look after.

Last November and to everybody’s surprise, the 14 member countries of OPEC, under the impetus of Algeria but due to the will of Saudi Arabia, decided to reduce their production to the tune of 1.2 million barrels a day. Eleven countries non-members of the cartel, including Russia, committed as well to reduce their 560000 barrels per day. In the month of December, stocks of the OECD countries dropped to 1.2 MBD.

 

Number of non-conventional oil producers will be forced to close their wells that became no more profitable below a price floor of around $50 a barrel. The agreement of the producing countries, OPEC and non-OPEC, which was not an action of “the invisible hand of the market”, but of the conscious and active action of 25 States, will result in stopping the fall in prices on the world market and could even allow the beginnings of a rebound in prices which will pass from between 45-50 dollars to 50-55 dollars.

Number of non-conventional oil producers will be forced to close their wells that were most profitable below a price floor of turning around 50 dollars per barrel. The agreement of the producing countries, OPEC and non-OPEC, which was not the action of “the invisible hand of the market”, but the conscious and active in 25 States, will result will stop the fall in prices on the world market and will allow even the beginnings of a rebound in prices which will pass a fork understood between 45-50 dollars to 50-55 dollars.

There is however, that this new ‘virtuous cycle’ for producing countries is not shared by the importing poor and middle-income countries. It also translates into a revival of the production of Shales. In the United States, the number of wells increased each week. Mid-March 2017, it stood at 617 and the U.S. production has reached the historical peak of 9.1 MBD that recalls the production rate of the 1970s. Stocks of oil and oil products are at the highest historical level at 2 billion barrels. The commercial reserves of the country reached 528,4 million barrels with an increase of 8.2 million barrels, the largest weekly increase since 19821.

This new overproduction mechanically caused a new fall in the price of oil, which threatens the stability of many countries. We think first of countries such as the Venezuela struck by an economic and social crisis. But it does not spare the rich monarchies of the Gulf as well. Thus, below a certain price, producers of Shale disappear from the market while exporters suffer a severe income crisis whereas if prices were back on the rise, Shale producers will return to the market. But in the absence of a significant global economic recovery, they contribute quickly to only flooding the market.

The bullish and bearish cycles seem to alternate way more and faster, impeding the process of renewal of the facilities and the discovery of new deposits that require significant investment that the big oil companies do not realize by altruism, but through their search for profits.

One could therefore ascertain that the market does not regulate anything and that without the intervention of the State that plays a major role but not always effective, the market being not self-regulated, would verge onto anarchy causing economic, social, and humanitarian crises as the deterioration of the environment.

The reality of the international oil market confirms that the role of “the invisible hand of the market” is just a myth. The Liberals, who are constantly putting their realism and their pragmatism forward but who do not have enough teeth against their opponents, in ideology, swim themselves in full ideology. Behind a friendly speech sold according to the lastest in marketing theories, formidable doctrinaires could be hiding.

Source : Libre-Algérie

 

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars vs Conventional ones?

The oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP) predicted in a report that was published last week that although electric cars are increasingly being put on the roads and renewable energy growing at exceptional rates, fossil oil extraction, production, etc. which needless to remind is BP’s main business line, would not only remain in demand but see this latter rise to unprecedented levels.  The reason for this unabated level in demand would be according to this report the greater numbers of the Third World countries (cum Emerging) populations reaching levels of prosperity allowing car ownership.  The question beside that of the validity of fossil oil demand predicted not to decrease in the future, is which direction the automotive manufacturing industry would take in the future.  Would it be Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World would these be on the roads?  And most importantly, which type of energy would be used in which type of vehicle ?

We republish the following Brookings article on driveless cars as these obviously will be marketed mainly in the so-called First World.

Driverless cars are coming: Here are 8 useful facts about them

By Fred Dews / Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

“Driverless cars are a transformative technology that could have important implications for society, national security, the economy, and the environment,” Darrell West and Hillary Schaub wrote in a 2015 piece that outlined a number of challenges, benefits, and policy recommendations related to autonomous vehicles. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies, and Schaub, a program coordinator, addressed specific issues for the continued development of this technology, including: cybersecurity and liability, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic fatalities, and addressing international safety and testability. “The discussion surrounding driverless cars involves a great deal of uncertainty,” West and Schaub observed. “There are huge ethical decisions that must be made regarding these new technologies. It is the responsibility of policymakers to help decide these issues.”

Here are analyses and data about driverless cars drawn from recent Brookings research.

Computers can be considered legal drivers of vehicles

Noting that in early 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that under federal law computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles, Darrell West and Jack Karsten of the Center for Technology Innovation write that, “With the combined efforts of the technology industry, automakers, and federal regulators, driverless cars could achieve widespread use sooner than many drivers and policymakers might expect.”

With technology companies and automakers continuing to make advances on driverless cars, and with increased federal research, companies like Toyota are saying they aim to deliver driverless vehicles around 2020. Given this pace of development, West and Karsten argue that “creating a national strategy for driverless cars is a crucial task for federal transportation officials.”

Pittsburgh is a leader in driverless car technology research and testing

Bruce Katz, the Brookings centennial scholar, writes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto being the first person to hail and ride a driverless taxi. The former steel manufacturing center has become, Katz notes, “the research lab and test bed for this revolutionary technology” due to an “ecosystem” that includes the robotics research unit at Carnegie Mellon University, plus start-ups and large firms, and Uber’s Advanced Technology Center. “But what has made Pittsburgh especially effective,” Katz says, “is public, private and civic leadership that is willing and eager to make the city itself a laboratory for technological invention and testing.”

The U.S. military has an interest in self-driving vehicles

Automated vehicles are not just for civilian passengers. As Nonresident Senior Fellow Kenneth Anderson explains in a Lawfare blog post, “the U.S. military has a keen interest in self-driving vehicles that can be deployed in combat for many possible functions, such as logistics and re-supply.” Anderson discusses some of the unique technological, reliability testing, and regulatory issues the Department of Defense faces as it develops this technology for warfare.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to comprise 25 percent of the global market between 2035 and 2040

In a wide-ranging 2016 paper, Darrell West explores the different types of autonomous vehicles, their impact, and cross-national issues involved with their development. He looks in detail at the technology, budgetary, regulatory, legal, and policy frameworks for autonomous vehicles in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. “In each nation,” West argues, “government officials and business leaders have to resolve these matters because within a foreseeable period, the technology will have advanced to the point where intelligent vehicles will spread into key niches such as ride-sharing, taxis, delivery truck, industrial applications, and transport for senior citizens and the disabled.”

“People and businesses will have driverless options for taking them safely to their destinations,” he says, “and it is important for leaders to provide reasonable guidance on how to commercialize advanced technologies in transportation.”

Fragmented regulatory framework the biggest challenge to driverless cars in America

In a briefing paper included in the Election 2016 and America’s Future series, and now part of the “Brookings Big Ideas for America” book meant to inform the new Trump administration, West explains that the “biggest American challenge” for autonomous vehicles “is overcoming the fragmentation of 50 state governments and having uniform guidelines across geographic boundaries. Public officials should address questions such as who regulates, how they regulate, legal liability, privacy, and data collection.”

In the briefing paper, West reviews the benefits and needed policy actions—including better national technical standards, addressing legal liability, and improving data protection and security. “Governments can accelerate or slow the movement towards self-driving vehicles by the manner in which they regulate,” West writes. “Addressing relevant issues and making sure regulatory rules are clear should be high priorities in all the countries considering autonomous vehicles.”

Existing products liability law is adaptable to new issues in autonomous vehicles

John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies, examines the liability issues associated with autonomous vehicles as new technologies continue to advance us into an era of widespread commercial use of vehicle automation. In 2012, Villasenor notes, motor vehicle accidents caused over 33,000 deaths in the United States alone. Just as existing vehicle automation technologies have provided safety improvements, additional automation promises to improve safety even more. In this context, Villasenor argues that “broad new liability statutes aimed at protecting the manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technology are unnecessary.”

In this paper, Villasenor offers a set of guiding principles for legislation. “In short,” he writes, “the liability concerns raised by vehicle automation are legitimate and important. But they can be addressed without delaying consumer access to the many benefits that autonomous vehicles will provide.” He concludes that the U.S. “has a robust products liability law framework that, while certainly not perfect, will be well equipped to address and adapt to the autonomous vehicle liability questions that arise in the coming years.”

The adoption of driverless cars can save thousands of lives each year

Drawing upon research that shows that as unemployment rises, more dangerous drivers drive less and safer ones drive more—thus decreasing traffic deaths—Senior Fellow Cliff Winston and Vikram Maheshri of the University of Houston argue that policymakers “could allow the most dangerous drivers … to continue to have access to an automobile provided it is driverless or at the very least has more autonomy than current vehicles.” Doing so, they say, “will not only save lives but also would “expedite the transition to driverless cars and help educate the public and build trust in the new technology.”

Automated vehicles will save government billions of dollars

As Kena Fedorschak of Arizona State University and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Kevin Desouza observe, state and local governments derive billions of dollars in revenue from speeding tickets, DUIs, towing fees, and other driver-related laws. They argue that while the safety improvements offered by autonomous vehicles will remove these sources of revenue, the technology will save taxpapyers an estimated $10 billion per year by eliminating “inefficiencies” in the transportation system such as congestion, road damage, and deaths.

“Even if the public sector refuses to innovate, government entities will save big bucks from the impending driverless car revolution,” Fedorschak and Desouza conclude. “Billions will be saved as a result of increased safety and the reduction of transportation inefficiencies. The future is bright for autonomous vehicles.”

Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

by | Jan 19, 2017 |

Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

Let’s ponder October 1929 and October 2008

For the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who during the World Economic Forum in Davos, paradoxically seeming to be defending Free Trade, threw at the new American president, Donald Trump on January 17th, 2017 that no one would emerge as the winner of a trade war, or as he put it, a Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

“It doesn’t help to blame globalization. Any attempt to stop trade in capital, technology, and products between countries is impossible and contrary to history. We must remain committed to the development of free trade and investment (transnational), and say no to protectionism. We got to ‘rebalance’ globalization, and make it stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable”. In this context it is useful to recall the fundamentals of the crisis of 1929 and 2008.

The 1929 Crisis.

The 1929 crash is caused by a speculative bubble, whose genesis dates back to 1927. It was a new system of credit purchase of shares based on investors buying securities with 10% coverage that started it all. It was ‘Black Thursday’ October 24th, 1929 that the famous crisis broke out in the United States.

le krach boursier de Wall street plongeant l’économie américaine et l’économie mondiale, dans la tourmente et ce malgré l’apparente santé de l’économie américaine dont les bases de sa croissance étaient pourtant faibles.

The stock crash of Wall Street plunged the American and the global economy in turmoil, and this despite the apparent health of the U.S. economy of which bases of its growth, were however weak.

October 2008

There are many similarities between the crisis of October 1929 and October 2008. Economic boom prior to the crisis, rising debt and divorce between the real and financial impact on the real economy with the fall of technology stocks.

But in contrast with 1929, it is the interconnection of economies with stronger global regulation where the developed countries economies being in deflation (low inflation, unemployment, negative growth) and not stagflation (inflation and unemployment decline) that characterised 2008.

As evidenced by the socialization of losses of some banks, the rapid response of the central banks of the US Fed., the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, Japanese, Russian, and even Chinese and Indian banks in coordination so as to break the vicious circle in the lack of confidence and the blocked interbank lending that is the lifeblood of the functioning of the global economy.

All economic and reliable financial system is based on trust. With repeated bankruptcies, interbank credit source of the expansion of the global economy has tended to dry out especially at the investment banks that have experienced an unparalleled expansion in the contemporary period.

However, unlike a universal bank, a Merchant Bank has not the possibility, in case of difficult market conditions, to rely on deposits of individuals to raise money for the short term, although they continue to issue short-term debt to finance their business.

However, more financial institutions from which investment banking sourced finance do refuse in times of crisis to lend for lack of confidence in the ability of repayment of these banks. Generally the essence of the crisis of both 1929 as of 2008 are a distortion of the Foundation of capitalism as describing by the founders of political economy based on the enterprising creators of wealth, Karl Marx did not write about Socialism but the Capital.

This crisis is therefore related to the increasing financialisation in disconnection with the real economy and not in symbiosis of any economic and social dynamics forgetting that labour is certainly a price but also creator of value and growth through consumption. Indeed, with this increasing financialisation, we have two types of shares ownership.

The direct holding (those who own directly) and the indirect holding (those who own through an intermediary such as management, life insurance companies, pension funds, etc.). The new fact is changing fast and important type of shares held by households. The direct holding of shares becomes a minority whereas the indirect holding grew strong.

It is the pension funds that control Wall Street whilst managing more than one third of the market capitalization of the USA today. These malfunctions have been materialised with the mortgage crisis of the Subprime in August 2007; a crisis that has spread across the global stock markets with great losses which I summarize in five steps:

  1. The banks made mortgages available to insolvent households or with few guarantees, at high interest rates;
  2. Dissemination of bad debt in the market: to evacuate the risks, banks “securitised” their debts, meaning that they cut their debt in financial products to resell them on the market. Globalisation did the rest, by disseminating these risky securities in the portfolios of investors from all over the world. Hedge funds have been big buyers of Subprimes, often on credit to boost their yields (up to 30% per year), and played the leverage effect, hedge funds borrow up to 90% of the sums required;
  3. Reversal of the U.S. real estate market: towards the end of 2005, U.S. interest rates began to rise while the financial market has faltered. Thousands of households have been unable to honour their payments causing losses for banks and investors who bought bonds saw their value collapse:
  4. Confidence crisis: the banks found themselves in a situation where as in a poker game, they know what they have on their balance sheet, but not what is in that of others because these bad mortgages were bought everywhere in the world and we don’t know what is the distribution of risk where a serious crisis of confidence and since July 2007, this situation causes the exchanges to fall and paralyzes the interbank market; banks are paying more or very little fearing that their counterparts are in a red line;
  5. Intervention of central banks: facing the paralysis in the market, the Central Banks intervened massively in early August 2007 by injecting hundreds of billions of Dollars and Euros in cash.

November 15th, 2008 : G20 crisis meeting in Washington, USA.

Elle s’est articulée autour de  cinq objectifs dont  le renforcement du système de régulation qui ne saurait signifier protectionnisme. Premièrement de dégager une réponse commune à la crise financière-deuxièmement ouvrir les pistes d’une réforme en profondeur du système financier international -troisièmement prendre de nouvelles initiatives pour parer à d’éventuelles faillites bancaires et imposer aux banques de nouvelles normes comptables -quatrièmement des règles plus strictes sur les agences de notation, la titrisation et les parachutes dorés

This meeting focused on five objectives, including the strengthening of the system of regulation which does not mean protectionism.

  • First to identify a common response to the financial crisis;
  • Second to open tracks for a reform of the international financial system;
  • Third to take new initiatives to counter possible bank failures and impose on the banks of new accounting standards;
  • Fourth to adopt stricter rules on credit rating agencies, securitisation and the Golden parachutes;
  • Finally, in fifth to increase public spending through coordinated budget deficits, but for the benefit of energy savings for the building and infrastructure development and clean auto technology, questioning the European stability pact (3% of GDP and spending on / GDP less than 60%.)

But it is clear that in this month of January 2017, the global economy is still characterized by turbulence with protectionist options but in a framework of unbridled internal liberalization wanting back in vogue Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, which is likely to repeat the scenario of the 1929.  However, the strategic goal is to rethink the current global economic system that promotes bipolarisation North / South, poverty detrimental to the future of humanity, which is also accelerated by the most questionable governance on behalf of most of the leaders of the South.

In short, the return to global protectionism is a chimera and realism will prevail in the end.

In the meantime, let us meditate the crisis of October 1929 and that of October 2008. The large deficit of the American balance of payments, which will be accentuated with the new spending program announced by the new president (with the risk of a loss in value of the Dollar), is currently offset by the large flows of capital from outside the US. . Let us for the sake for humanity, put aside all nationalism, chauvinism that are source of tensions, hatred and war and meditate this quote that is sometimes attributed to French president Charles de Gaulle, under the title “Patriotism is loving his country, Nationalism, is hate of others’” and sometimes to Romain Garyn in his book “European Education” published in 1945 under the title “Patriotism is the love of one’s kin Nationalism is hatred of others”.    ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organisation

by | Jan 18, 2017 |

Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organisation

Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the face of domestic and international constraints

Per the official Algerian Customs statistics, in 2016, China is the leading provider of Algeria, with a market share of close to 18% and US$8.396 billion.  France comes second with $4.744 billion and a share of 10%, followed by Italy with $4.642 billion and 9.93%. Spain and Germany are respectively in the 4thand 5th position in this ranking, with $3.595 and $3.009 billion.  In the top 10, there are also Turkey (7th), Brazil (9th) and South Korea (10th).

If China is the big beneficiary of the explosion of the Algerian import bill, the deficit in trade between the two countries is huge between 2007 and 2016 all while official reviews were still focusing on Europe. Indeed, customers of Algeria are Italy with $4.779 billion and a market share of 16.55% of exports of the country. Spain comes second with $3.562 billion, followed by the United States ($3.227 billion) and France ($3.192 billion). Tunisia is 12th with $610 million, Morocco 13th with $589, Singapore 14th with $542 million and India 15th with $511 million closes this ranking.  For the 2016 official figures, exports declined to $28.88 against $34,66 billion in 2015, or a drop of 16.7%, non-oil exports fell to $2.063 billion in 2016 against $2.582 billion in 2015 (-20,1%).

Imports have also declined but at a lower rate to $46.72 billion in 2016 from $51.7 billion in 2015, down 9.62% giving a deficit in the balance of trade of about $18 billion, amount to which services and legal capital transfers are to be added; the balance of payments is the unique reference with between 2014 and 2016 as key partners of Algeria the countries of the European Union.  Also, as pointed out in my contributions and notably in my conference at the invitation of the European Parliament, and after some concern of the international community over the possible abandonment of the Agreement, Algerian officials were clear.  There is no question of breaking the Association Agreement which binds it to Europe.  Europe however, should consider Algeria not only from the point of view of a market.

Now with regards to the WTO, and according to the Algerian Press Service (APS), the Uruguayan Gustavo Miguel Vanerio Balbela has been appointed as of January 14, 2017, new Chairman of the Working Group for the accession of Algeria to the WTO in replacement of Alberto D’Alotto of Argentina, as per the last WTO newsletter.  Mr. Balbela was immediately invited from the Algerian Trade Minister, to visit Algiers and discuss the next steps of the Working Group, which had not met since March 2014.

We must remember that for more than 15 years, dozens of meetings took place and commissions created for Algeria’s accession to the WTO. All of the Algerian major economic players such as workers’ unions, employers’ federations, government representatives, and many experts were conveyed but so far in vain.

Algeria has since 1987 an observant status within the WTO organization and has been negotiating for more than 20 years thus achieving a world record. Looking at developing countries, such as heavyweight of Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, or small countries like Chad, Niger, Togo, Angola, Benin, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, countries of the Maghreb, Morocco and Tunisia, the majority of the Arab oil countries of which the latest being Saudi Arabia not to mention the majority of the countries of South America including Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, in Asia with India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, South Korea, and China, the latter having joined the WTO in 2001, without forgetting Turkey and Russia which joined the WTO in December 15, 2011.

With the WTO agreements, which are part of a global space concern only the economic component, are broadly outlined by the agreement linking Algeria since September 1, 2005 to Europe, as anchored in the Barcelona process, which is part of a regional space but do include political and cultural components.  These agreements have strategic implications for both economy and society: prohibition of the use of the “duality of prices” for natural resources; general elimination of quantitative restrictions on import and export trade; quality and health standards; environmental protection in the use of oil energy, environmental agreements conceived, outside the WTO but lately incorporated to the WTO when felt to be hampering the development of trade; measures concerning the freedom of movement of capital.  Intellectual property protection is an essential condition in order to fight against piracy and therefore the integration of the dominant informal sphere in Algeria which controls 40% of the money supply and more than 65% of the basic necessities.  In General, Algeria’s accession to the WTO would require opening of its borders and the increased specialization as prompted by globalization.  Indeed, both association to the European Union and that of accession to the WTO are based on the development of trade by putting in place the conditions for the gradual liberalisation of trade in goods, services and capital.  It then will be followed by Algeria proceeding with the dismantling of customs duties and taxes for industrial and manufactured products over a period of transition.

All State monopolies must be progressively adjusted in a way that there is no discrimination regarding the conditions of supply and marketing goods between nationals of the Member States. These agreements should turn the Algerian industries from the status of protected industries to industries completely open to international competition with the total removal of tariff and non-tariff obstacles. If Algeria’s WTO entry may have little impact on the oil market, already inserted in a global or regional logic (gas), it is different for all oil products that will be subject to international competition.

Thus, the duality of prices – measure by which a Government could keep domestic prices at levels lower than those determined by the international market forces and the export restrictions – can no longer be valid in a context of trade liberalization. One of the stumbling blocks in the negotiations, in addition to the importance of the informal sphere, is the duality of the gas price for units for export, which would distort international competition. In case of accession, oil products, mainly fuels, will no longer benefit from crude prices lower than the international price upstream. The Agreement emphasizes the opening to competition of the market for energy services as far as it concerns all activities, from exploration to the provision of the product to the consumer through the production and transport.

The environment is a prime area of cooperation, the aim being the preservation of the ecological balance, requiring to implement more and more stringent quality standards; Algeria would be committing to gradually implement the various recommendations of the charters on energy and the environment.  Being in a situation of mono-exporter does not warrant any acceptance; the main OPEC already being WTO member countries. So much more than Doha agreements, a transition period to avoid the wild tariff dismantling that could adversely affect the Algerian infant Industries would be necessary. Indeed, it has made clear that the main resolutions of the fourth Ministerial Conference, held in Doha in November 2001, examined the problems facing developing countries to implement the current WTO agreements, i.e. the agreements of the Uruguay Round of negotiations. The decision on implementation has focused on the following: exception in respect of the balance of payments and clarification of the less stringent conditions set out in the GATT.

This is applicable to developing countries if they restrict their imports to protect their balance of payments. Then a commitment in terms of access to markets, longer periods are granted to developing countries to enable them to adapt to new SPS in other countries. Then technical assistance to those countries least developed and review of technical assistance, including the transfer of technology to least developed countries would be provided. The terms of a special provision concerning developing countries, which recognizes that developed countries must take specifically into account the situation of developing countries when considering to apply anti-dumping measures; the extension of the deadline for developing countries to implement the agreement; development of a method to determine which developing countries fulfil the criterion according to which their GNP per capita must be less than $1.000 so they can grant subsidies contingent upon export.

New rules allowing developing countries to provide grants under programs that aim “legitimate development objectives”, but without giving rise to a countervailing action; and finally, the review of the provisions on investigations countervailing.

Not wanting to unnecessarily dwell on the notion of license according to the rules of the WTO to avoid sterile debates, I would in this context, like to request an answer as to what came about that decision of the Council of Ministers dated December 30, 2014 and thereafter the law passed for the return import licenses in Algeria?

The answer will be that these licenses should fit in the context of respect for all international commitments of Algeria.  The information I gathered however from the Algerian Government, provide the following details :

The freedom of trade and industry is the foundation of economic and trade policy of the Government of Algeria, consecrated by all the provisions of Algerian law.

In this context, this legislation as provided by several countries with open economy in Europe and elsewhere, the possibility of using in specific and predefined cases, a certain transition period, in order to upgrade their productive apparatuses, to import or export licenses neutral in application and administered in a fair and equitable way, so as to handle exceptions to this freedom to trade and this in accordance with the rules of the WTO.

It is in this context that the law that was passed, should first reaffirm the freedom of import and export of products, without prejudice to the rules relating to public morality, security and public order, the protection of the health of the people, as well as to the preservation of the environment and the historical and cultural heritage.

The reasons for implementation of licenses of import or export of which, those with the only objective to limit the trade of certain exhaustible natural resources, the guarantee for the national availability of locally produced raw material processing industry, the supply of the market in products on which would be felt a shortage, as well as backup outside the country financial equilibria.

It is in this framework that the Government introduced a 03-04 amendment of July 19, 2003 to the general rules applicable to operations of import and export of goods, the amendments aimed to upgrade the legislation in accordance with the rules of an open economy. In contrast to the restrictive licensing regime previously applied to imports, these licenses are defined as administrative procedures in the rules of the WTO and are aimed to ensure better quality and product safety as well as secure human, animal and plant health.

Reference to the WTO rules, texts of which clearly state that import licences are administrative procedures requiring, as a condition to the importation of goods, the presentation to the administrative body of a request that is separate from the documents required for customs purposes; the Government states that this kind of license does not mean restriction or distortion of imports.

Control undertaken by the administration is concerned only by those aspects of quality and compliance and not by the commercial aspects, to ensure fairness in commercial transactions, including between the community of traders themselves or between the retailer and the consumer whereas the former regime had for purpose the distribution in the amount of foreign currency to importers.

Also, it has never been said that Algeria would not adhere to the WTO as adopted by the successive governments since 1995, but that accession cannot be at the expense of the interests of Algeria’s which would be seeking to benefit from the Doha agreements that provide for a transitional period for countries such as Algeria.

Also, Algeria, per our sources, whilst safeguarding its interests as any country, intends to comply with international agreements, notably that agreement of association with Europe, the negotiations with the WTO, which it is not to call into question, is no issue to discredit the image of Algeria at the international level, unlike certain tendentious statements.

From my point of view the debate is elsewhere and is about how, with the fall in the prices of hydrocarbons, to deepen all structural reforms for a strategy leading out of the rentier type economy and how can we put aside any tensions between Europe and Algeria relating to the association agreement.

Agreement signed in full sovereignty by the Government and with fundamental implications. Certainly, the concerns being legitimate because tariff cuts are a shortfall ranging between $1.5 and $2 billion annually for Algeria.

Invoking the situation of a mono-exporter would not help, for there will not be any specificity for Algeria alone and per our information from the EU, no renegotiations of the basic clauses with Europe from 2020 onwards.  An extension of time limits for certain products per the terms of the agreement.  Similarly, there will not be any specificity also for accession to the WTO.

Membership or not to the WTO would greatly depend on internal political forces rapport and especially a real desire for clarification of the future path of the controlled liberalisation of the Algerian economy not only for its efficiency that should be coupled with a deep social justice through a better and equitable spread of the national income and therefore put up an effective fight against corruption.

This is not a question about legislation but rather of social practice referring to the urgency of a renewed governance model. All these constraints imposed by both the association and accession to WTO agreements, could not they secure the Algerian economy into the world economy and act as an important pull factor in economic development and social progress?

Legal instability and the lack of visibility in the socio-economic policy, the dominance of the informal sphere and a financial system that is totally disconnected from the international financial system tend to worsen the growing pessimism about a political opening in fact real economic and political reforms which explains the successive downgrades between 2007/2014 of many international organizations.

Is it that the new Algerian economic policy must better articulate the market forces and the action of the State as a regulator in its role of macroeconomic management and macro social within a space balanced and solidarity, the challenge being the massive arrival on the job market of millions of young people within the next two decades.

The question that arises then is the possibility of change in growth to achieve a double objective, today apparently contradictory: on the one hand, create the necessary jobs, on the other hand, improve international competitiveness while distributing more revenue, including through the productivity of factors.

The current productive structure makes growth volatile and subject to external shocks, the financial resources, the importance of foreign reserves is not synonymous with development. The external position of Algeria remains dominated by the weakness inherent to its specialization in hydrocarbons, (weak production and non-hydrocarbon exports less than 4% of the total so marginal and within these 4% semi-finished ferrous and semi-ferrous representing more than 60%), having no control over its own external accounts, which depend only on the price oil/gas and the exchange rate of the Dollar, GDP per capita moving chaotically.

Having a natural wealth that is ephemeral, Algeria must at the same time preserve this resource for future generations and gradually find different revenue sources. It follows that the levels of growth necessary to result in a significant improvement in the situation, estimated at 8 / 9% per year until 2017/2020/2025, seem difficult to achieve in the short term.  In the meantime, its association agreement of free trade with the European Union (EU), Algeria incurred a shortfall in customs duties that was valued for year 2016, at $1.27 billion and in 2015 at $1.09 billion.

To benefit from the positive effects of the agreement with Europe to a possible WTO membership, would require us to undertake first some cleaning in the Algerian economy and that they are obstacles to the comprehensive reform of the result of displacement of the segments to be able to which explains the dieback of the productive fabric that any operational analysis will have to connect the advanced or the brake reforms by analysing the different social forces, public policy strategies located fluttered between two conflicting social forces, rentier logic supported by proponents of importation (of the monopolists and not shopkeepers, actually only 100 controlling more than 80% of the total) and unfortunately dominant informal sphere, and minority entrepreneurial logic.

This explains, Algeria is in this interminable transition since 1986, not a market economy, nor an economy administered, explaining the difficulties of regulations, the progress of reforms being inversely proportional over the oil and the value of the Dollar, the reforms since 1986 being blocked or timidly with inconsistency when the price rises.

In summary, Algeria’s accession to the World Trade Organization is irreversible if it wants to avoid its marginalization, benefitting from both the Doha agreements and from the success stories of Russia and Saudi Arabia whose economies mainly dependent on hydrocarbons.  The security aspect having been improved, Algeria must create favourable conditions for the development by raising the environmental constraints to enhance the vitality of local and international enterprise as sole source of permanent wealth creation, and its foundation on promoting knowledge and the adaptation of its economic strategy to the fourth economic revolution that is looming between 2020 and 2030.

Read more on the WTO website.