by Stephen Lacey
The Economist: An Increasingly Precious Metal

Lithium accounts for only about 5% of the materials in some car batteries, and for less than 10% of their cost. Worldwide sales of lithium salts are only about $1 billion a year.

But the element is a vital component of batteries that power everything from cars to smartphones, laptops and power tools. With demand for such high-density energy storage set to surge as vehicles become greener and electricity becomes cleaner, Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, calls lithium “the new gasoline.”

The Independent: U.K. Renewables Industry Is About to Fall Off a Cliff

Britain’s renewable energy industry is about to “fall off a cliff” just at the point it would come into its own, analysis for The Independent reveals.

The dour forecast comes as the industry celebrated a record-breaking year in 2015, with billions of pounds poured into solar and wind energy and more homes powered by nature than ever before.
But experts have warned this is all about to grind to a halt as the government abandons its commitment to green energy and instead invests in fracking and nuclear power.

Bloomberg: The North Dakota Crude Oil That’s Worth Almost Nothing

Oil is so plentiful and cheap in the U.S. that at least one buyer says it would pay almost nothing to take a certain type of low-quality crude.

Flint Hills Resources LLC, the refining arm of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s industrial empire, said it offered to pay $1.50 a barrel Friday for North Dakota Sour, a high-sulfur grade of crude, according to a corrected list of prices posted on its website Monday. It had previously posted a price of -$0.50. The crude is down from $13.50 a barrel a year ago and $47.60 in January 2014.

Forbes: China Plans a Floating Nuclear Power Plant

China is working on a floating nuclear power plant that could sail to specific sites and anchor offshore to produce power for various needs.

China General Nuclear expects to complete construction of this small modular offshore multi-purpose reactor by 2020, and demonstrate its utility for a variety of purposes. Construction of the first floating reactor is expected to start next year, with electricity generation to begin in 2020.

PV-Tech: Abu Dhabi Bank Makes US$10B Renewables Pledge

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi has made a US$10 billion, 10-year pledge to finance renewable energy and other sustainable business activities.

The bank said it would lend, invest and facilitate US$10 billion of financing in environmentally sustainable projects in the so-called West-East corridor, which stretches from Africa through the Middle East to Asia.

Last year the bank published a report with Cambridge University and consultancy PwC, Financing the Future of Energy, which identified a massive US$48 trillion funding gap over the next 20 years to meet global energy demand. Renewables account for over half of this figure, the report said.