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Month: April 2024

Survey: US consumer confidence at lowest level since 2022

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Washington — U.S. consumers appear less optimistic about the jobs market and more worried about future financial conditions, bringing a closely watched confidence metric to its lowest level since July 2022, a survey showed Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index fell to 97.0 in April, said The Conference Board, significantly below the 104.0 reading that analysts anticipated.

This marks the third straight month consumer confidence has worsened, the report said, and comes as President Joe Biden struggles to boost perceptions about the economy as his reelection campaign ramps up.

“Consumers became less positive about the current labor market situation, and more concerned about future business conditions, job availability, and income,” said Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board.

But she added that despite the slip, “optimism about the present situation continues to more than offset concerns about the future.”

The biggest worries surrounded “elevated price levels, especially for food and gas,” said Peterson.

Meanwhile, politics and global conflicts were “distant runners-up,” she added.

While consumers rated current business conditions “positively,” their views of the labor market weakened with more reporting that jobs are hard to get, said The Conference Board.

Consumers also became less upbeat about their families’ financial situations, both currently and in the future.

“Perceptions about the labor market deteriorated even as job growth remains robust, and the unemployment rate is historically low,” noted Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

“A deteriorating trend in sentiment could persist,” she cautioned.

This risks bogging down spending and growth, given that inflation remains persistent and interest rate cuts are “not imminent,” she said.

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G7 ministers: Energy storage is key to global renewable goals

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Paris, France — G7 environment ministers committed on Tuesday to ramp up the production and deployment of battery storage technology, an essential component for increasing renewable energy and combating climate change.  

Here is how and why batteries play a vital role in the energy transition:   

Growing demand

Batteries have been central to the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) but are also critical to wind and solar power because of the intermittent nature of these energy sources.  

Surplus electricity must be stored in batteries to stabilize distribution regardless of peaks in demand, or breaks in supply at night or during low winds.   

Battery deployment in the energy sector last year increased more than 130 percent from 2022, according to a report released last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA).    

The main markets are China, the European Union and the United States. 

Following closely are Britain, South Korea, Japan and developing nations in Africa, where solar and storage technology is seen as the gateway to energy access.  

Six-fold goal

To triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 — a goal set at the UN climate conference in December — the IEA says a six-fold increase in battery storage will be necessary.  

Clean energy is essential to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and to hope to keep the international target of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.   

The total storage capacity required to achieve this target is an estimated 1,500 gigawatts by 2030.  

Of this, 1,200 GW will need to be supplied by batteries.

Cost challenges

In less than 15 years, the cost of batteries has fallen by 90 percent.  

“The combination of solar PV and batteries is today competitive with new coal plants in India. And just in the next few years, it will be cheaper than new coal in China and gas-fired power in the United States,” IEA chief Fatih Birol said last week.   

“But still the pace is not fast enough to reach our goals in terms of climate change and energy security.”  

Costs will have to come down further, he said, while calling for supply chains to be diversified.   

Most batteries are currently produced by China.   

But some 40 percent of planned battery manufacturing projects are in the United States and Europe, according to the IEA.   

If those projects are realized, they would be nearly sufficient to meet the needs of those countries.

Metal matters

Another thorny issue is the availability of critical metals like lithium and cobalt that are essential to make batteries.  

Experts say the development chemical alternatives could complement the dominant lithium-ion technology.  

“Transition in the technology will reduce the amount of lithium” needed, said Brent Wanner, head of the IEA’s power sector unit, adding, “this includes shifting to sodium-ion batteries.” 

Beyond 2030, high-density solid-state batteries that offer a longer lifespan are expected to become commercially available. 

There are other storage options, although not as widely applicable or available as batteries.

Pumped storage hydropower has long been used in the hydroelectric sector.

The transformation of electricity into hydrogen, which can be stored and transported, is a new technology expected to become more readily available. 

Be flexible

Renewable energy is not entirely reliant on storage and measures can be taken to improve the flexibility of its production to meet demands.   

Industry and governments are gearing up for the transition.   

The European Union’s Energy Regulators Agency called on member states in September to assess their “flexibility potential” based on estimates that renewables will need to double by 2030.   

Such a rise requires greater “flexibility” in grids, meaning energy can be stored and distributed consistently despite fluctuating production and demand.   

The G7 said Tuesday it would not only support more production and use of battery storage, but promote technological advancements in the sector as well as grid infrastructure.


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У Тбілісі відновилася акція проти закону про «іноагентів»

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30 квітня законопроєкт «Про прозорість іноземного впливу» був винесений на розгляд парламенту Грузії у другому читанні, втім лідер парламентської більшості Мамука Мдінарадзе заявив, що його обговорення може тривати кілька днів

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Норвегія збільшить цьогорічну підтримку України на понад 630 мільйонів доларів – прем’єр

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«Дуже важливо, що більша частина цих коштів буде спрямована на посилення протиповітряної оборони України», – прокоментував рішення президент Зеленський

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Categories: Новини, Світ

У розвідці Британії назвали успішним український удар по аеродрому «Кущевська» в РФ

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«Цей успішний удар, ймовірно, змусить Росію розосередити винищувачі, а також перерозподілити засоби протиповітряної оборони для закриття прогалин»

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Путін, Дуров, Дугін – Такер Карлсон продовжив серію інтервʼю з росіянами

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Російський ідеолог розповів американському відеоблогеру, що «після розвалу Радянського Союзу у світі не залишилося ніяких ідеологій, крім лібералізму»

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Ексспівробітника Пентагону засудили до 21 року за передавання даних «агенту РФ»

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За угодою про визнання провини обвинувачений визнав, що навмисне передавав файли таємному співробітнику ФБР, вважаючи, що інформація «буде використана на шкоду Сполученим Штатам та на користь Росії»

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Categories: Новини, Світ

ЄС планує почати розслідування щодо Facebook та Instagram через російську дезінформацію – ЗМІ

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Єврокомісія має почати розслідування на основі звіту, надісланого Meta у вересні, про те, як вона справляється з ризиками дезінформації на своїй платформі, а також на основі власної оцінки

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Україна та ОАЕ завершили переговори щодо угоди про всеосяжне економічне партнерство – уряд

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«За результатами переговорів сторонам вдалося досягнути домовленостей щодо значної лібералізації доступу як до ринків товарів, так і до ринків послуг»

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FT: європейські банки заплатили Росії вчетверо більше податків, ніж до повномасштабної війни

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Газета називає це прикладом того, як іноземні компанії допомагають Кремлю підтримувати фінансову стабільність за умов війни, незважаючи на західні санкції

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Categories: Новини, Світ