27 September 2022

Climate Change and technology based economic developments in the near future

I follow a lot of commentary on the technology of conversion away from fossil fuels, and what it's likely to mean. So here are some informal predictions that most people may not really have thought of.

1. The oil companies have failed to innovate a substitute production system. They will FAIL. And they will go down fighting, so we have to make sure we are politically stronger than they are.

2. The electrification of the auto sector will happen with lightning speed. Tesla, Hyundai (includes Kia), and to a lesser extent Daimler, BMW, VW, Ford and GM, have done enough that they will probably survive, although there are reports that GM is so saddled with legacy costs, useless plants, and debt that it may not avoid bankruptcy. Who's left out here? The JAPANESE. ALL of them. Even though Nissan pioneered the Leaf, and Toyota the Prius (25 year old fully obsolete hybrid technology)... they have not kept up, and in fact have resisted the changeover. All the Japanese manufacturers will struggle, and some will not survive. Toyota was the largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world until recently. It is so far behind on electrification that it will probably drop below 10% market share worldwide by 2030. Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Mazda would all be doomed if they were not part of larger concerns that make ships and other major industrial production. Stellantis (Fiat/Peugeot/Chrysler) is in deep trouble and will probably only survive as a Chinese company. Which brings up the elephant on the planet: China. China has TEN manufacturers set to produce electric cars in huge volumes over the next five years. They don't seem to be that interested in the North American market, but the Eurasian market, which is huge and growing, is likely to be dominated by them.

3. Nuclear technology is not right there, but it is coming along. We will likely see practical modular thorium (and possibly some low pressure uranium) fission reactors proliferating, mostly outside Europe and North America (for political reasons) in the next few years, and, FINALLY, there appears to be significant progress towards fusion energy production, which is likely to be a part of the solution, probably mostly after 2040. 

4.  Battery technology, which is critical not only for transportation but for practical use of solar and wind and other carbon neutral forms of energy production, is making wildly encouraging progress towards more efficient, longer lasting, and vastly cheaper batteries. The US is, surprisingly, doing well as an innovator here, whereas the actual production of most batteries, so far, centers on China. The Inflation Reduction Act makes a significant contribution to bringing this industry online more in America. 

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