Feb. 19, 2021

POLAR VORTEX IMPACT ON POWER GRID

  • Polar blast left more than 73% (impacting a record 48 States) of the US with snow to an average of 15 cm vs 35.5% of the US with an average 10 cm of snow last year.
    • Impacted 157 million people (most since severe weather in 2005) in the US and 4.7 million in Mexico
    • Power grids were down across the south, including in the largest shale oil and gas basins
    • Wednesday Texas banned the export of LNG and other fuels, including to other States
    • Oil production curtailed by more than 4 million b/d (40% of US production) and over 10 billion cubic feet of gas production was also shut in. Restarting of wells could take weeks
    • Coal plants, wind turbines and solar power were also off-line
    • FedEx, GM and others halted operations due to lack of power
  • Future fixes include:
    • Insulating oil and gas wells
    • Insulating wind turbine blades (not regulated in Texas but recommended)
    • Determining how to protect power grid against extreme weather conditions both hot and cold

COVID-19 UPDATE

  • BC researchers are developing a breath test for COVID-19; if successful, could provide results in 1 minute.
  • Pfizer has said their COVID-19 vaccine can be stored at -15⁰C to -25⁰C for 2 weeks; will enable wider distribution and administration of the vaccine.
  • Vatican has told employees they risk losing their jobs if they refuse COVID-19 vaccine without legitimate health reasons.

TIDBITS

  • New York company, SQ4D built a $1,400 sq ft home entirely with a 3D printer, using injectable concrete.
    • Construction time = 48 hours and selling for $299,000 USD
  • Lumber prices have reached an all-time high of $1,000 per board foot thanks to ‘relentless’ home-renovations.
  • Ontario’s online store ‘Loop’ is selling groceries and household items from Loblaws in containers they will take back and refill such as milk, oats, ice cream and toothpaste.
  • Calgary-based Eavor Technologies has received new investments from BP, Chevron and others to expand their ‘geothermal harvesting technology’ to generate power.
  • China may ban rare earth refining technology exports on security concerns. Rare earth technology is vital in everything from smartphones to fighter jets.
  • Canada has vowed to make Facebook pay for news content, joining Australia and others.
    • Facebook blocked news feeds in Australia over the requirement to share revenue from news
  • Britain’s Entain PLC will use big data in an attempt to identify problem gamblers and will switch off riskier features or connect players to customer service before their bets cause them harm.
  • Ship giant Maersk says all new vessels will be able to run on carbon-neutral fuels such as clean methanol and ammonia as well as traditional oil-based products.