ESA discusses about Ariane’s future

Updated 21 November 2012
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ESA discusses about Ariane’s future

NAPLES, Italy: The future of Europe’s space program came under the spotlight in this southern Italian city yesterday, where ministers discussed rival plans for a successor to the successful Ariane 5 launcher. The 20-nation European Space Agency (ESA), meeting at ministerial level for the first time in four years, is staging two days of budget talks.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of money worries, a fast-shifting satellite market and the growing strength of the US private sector in near-Earth space.
“This council (meeting) is crucial to sustain autonomous European access to Space...” France’s Research Minister Genevieve Fioraso said in a speech prepared for the opening and sent to AFP.
In an interview with AFP last week, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said he hoped members would back a three-year budget of 12 billion euros ($ 15 billion) but added he would be happy with “something around 10 billion euros.”
It would mean a roughly stable budget compared with current levels, he said.
One of the most crucial agenda items was deciding on a future generation of rocket launcher to replace the ageing Ariane 5.
The new rocket should provide more flexible launch options for the swiftly-changing satellite market.
France is pushing for a smaller, sleeker Ariane 6 launcher system, which would require about four billion euros, culminating in a maiden flight in 2021 if all goes well.
Germany wants a less ambitious option, an Ariane 5 ME (for “Midlife Evolution”), which would be readier sooner at a putative cost of two billion euros.
Weighing on many minds is not just belt-tightening but also the rise of the US private sector.
Last month, the US firm SpaceX sent an unmanned freighter, Dragon, to the International Space Station under a NASA initiative to delegate resupply missions to private corporations after the phaseout of the US space shuttle.


Saudi energy minister compares electric vehicle ‘hype’ to peak oil misconceptions

Updated 15 October 2018
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Saudi energy minister compares electric vehicle ‘hype’ to peak oil misconceptions

  • Khalid Al-Falih on Monday questioned what he described as the “hype” of the electric vehicle market
  • Compared it to past misconceptions around the theory of peak oil

LONDON: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Monday questioned what he described as the “hype” of the electric vehicle market and compared it to past misconceptions around the theory of peak oil.
He told the CERAWeek energy gathering by IHS Markit in New Delhi that petrol and diesel engines would co-exist with emerging electric and hydrogen fuel cell technologies for much longer than widely expected.
Miscalculations around the pace of electrification could create “serious” risks around global energy security, he said.
“Conventional vehicles today, despite all the hype, represent 99.8 percent of the global vehicle fleet. That means electric vehicles with 0.2 percent of the fleet, only substitute about 30,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent of a total global oil demand of about 100 million barrels.
“Even if those numbers increase by a factor of 100 over the next couple of decades, they would still remain negligible in the global energy mix.”
He said: “History tells us that orderly energy transformations are a complex phenomenon involving generational time frames as opposed to quick switches that could lead to costly setbacks.”
In another broadside aimed at electric vehicles, the Saudi energy minister highlighted past misconceptions about global energy demand growth — and specifically the notion of “peak oil.”
“I remember thought leaders within the industry telling us that oil demand will peak at 95 million barrels per day. Had we listened to them and not invested . . . imagine the tight spot we would be in today.”
“Let’s also remember that in many parts of the world, roughly three fourths of the electricity, which would also power electric vehicles, is currently generated by coal, including here in India. So you could think of any electric vehicle running in the streets of Delhi as essentially being a coal-powered automobile.”
“When it comes to renewables, the fundamental challenge of battery storage remains unresolved — a factor that is essential to the intermittency issue impacting wind and solar power. Therefore the more realistic narrative and assessment is that electric vehicles and renewables will continue to make technological and economic progress and achieve greater market penetration — but at a relatively gradual rate and as a result, conventional energy will be with us for a long, long time to come.”