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This time each year, I get to write the following…
As you read this, Marina and I are somewhere over the Atlantic in route to the annual Energy Consultation at Windsor Castle outside London.
While the royal family is in residence at the castle, the select meeting is held under a charter from Queen Elizabeth II during the first weekend of March each year.
Included among the assembled dignitaries are ambassadors, ministers, CEOs, international organization officials, and globally recognized energy experts.
In addition to plenary sessions held in the fabled "Vicar's Hall" (the same room where Shakespeare held the first performance of "The Merry Wives of Windsor"), each meeting includes a traditional briefing to ambassadors held in the dungeon of the castle.
As I noted in the last edition of Oil & Energy Investor, we expect some very interesting discussions on possible breakthroughs in batteries and storage system technologies.
For many parts of the world, the provision of regular electricity is the single most important priority.
This is why I have often termed it the "Holy Grail" in energy…
Renewable Energy's Storage Problems
The ability to store generated power will singlehandedly turn renewables like solar and wind into a major driving force in the emerging global energy balance.
A breakthrough here would also increase efficiency and lower costs for all types of power sourcing.
Currently, the intermittent nature of solar and wind power (the sun doesn't shine 24/7, and the wind isn't always blowing) means more traditional generation sources must remain online to cover the slack periods or those in which demand peaks.
The Saudis have invested $100 billion into one type of fuel, and I'm not talking about oil. This universal fuel is slated for a global takeover. Here's how you can take part…
Electricity must be used when it is generated; there is no way to keep it in reserve and then release it as needed.
That makes our upcoming Windsor discussions so intriguing.
Because on the agenda are some of the biggest trend-setting developments happening around the world.
Including some breaking news from the world of cryptocurrency that could help solve the "Holy Grail" in energy's biggest problem.
Bitcoin's (Growing) Energy Appetite
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have had a widespread impact across multiple sectors, including energy.
I have previously discussed energy as the major ingredient in figuring the costs of mining such coins (i.e., the setting up the blockchains from which new coins emerge).
The entire Bitcoin network now consumes more energy than a number of countries, based on a report published by the International Energy Agency.
In fact, if Bitcoin were a country, it would rank between Serbia and Denmark in energy consumption.
In October, James Stafford of Oilprice.com estimated that Bitcoin mining consumes 22.5 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually, which amounts to 13,239,916 barrels of oil equivalent.
With 12.5 bitcoins mined every 10 minutes, that means the average energy cost of one Bitcoin would equate to 20 barrels of oil equivalent.
But there could be a development underway in crypto that could impact the cost of providing and receiving electricity as well.
As crypto's energy consumption rate continues to increase, there will be a continued focus on the cost of the electricity needed to mine "coins."
But it has also raised renewed concerns over how electricity is produced.
China has been the net beneficiary of mining activity, due to the low cost of electricity in the country. Unfortunately, given the source of fuel for that power generation – poor-quality coal – the result has been a further focus on the negative environmental impact.
Recently, I had suggested that a move of coin mining to colder climates like Iceland and Sweden would serve to lower energy consumption and, thereby, reliance on inferior fuel sourcing to keep costs down.
However, a new proposal has just hit that may have an even more pervasive impact…
About the Author
Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy, risk assessment, and emerging market economic development. He serves as an advisor to many U.S. governors and foreign governments. Kent details his latest global travels in his free Oil & Energy Investor e-letter. He makes specific investment recommendations in his newsletter, the Energy Advantage. For more active investors, he issues shorter-term trades in his Energy Inner Circle.