Renewable Energy World: Energy Storage Provider Launches Drone, Robotics Technologies Contest

Energy storage solutions provider AES Corp. on Nov. 7 launched an open innovation contest targeted at improving the safety and increasing availability of power plants through unmanned inspections in extreme heat.

“AES takes our mission of improving lives seriously and recognizes that today’s energy solutions must evolve to meet tomorrow’s needs,” Andrés Gluski, AES president and CEO, said in a statement. “Engaging and collaborating with great thinkers outside our company and industry allows us to extend our internal innovation capabilities to create the best solutions for the future.”

Washington Post: The Battle Over Washington State’s Proposed Carbon Tax Has Gotten Even Weirder

A carbon tax proposal in Washington state, scheduled to appear on the ballot on Tuesday, has been drawing national attention for weeks as a result of the unexpected controversy it’s inspired among environmental groups, many of whom have outright opposed the initiative. And in the final days leading up to the vote, new voices have continued to join the fray, including influential players on all sides of the climate change conversation.

New reports from the state’s Public Disclosure Commission reveal that several prominent national fossil fuel interests have recently donated to the “No on 732“ campaign, an effort organized by the Association of Washington Business in opposition to what is known as Initiative 732. Just last Thursday, Koch Industries contributed $50,000 to the campaign. And American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers contributed $250,000 at the end of October, making the organization the second-largest donor behind Kaiser Aluminum.

Wired: As Tesla Grows Up, It Gives Up on Free Charging

Tesla offers a good sales pitch: Gorgeous cars, ludicrous acceleration, features like Autopilot that arrive via over-the-air updates. And to sweeten the deal for those who can afford the luxury electric vehicle, free charging at the young automaker’s international network of Supercharger stations.

Since 2012, Tesla has invited its customers to plug in to chargers that add 200 to 300 miles of range per hour. Good enough to top up a depleted battery in about 30 minutes, while a driver has a bathroom break and a bite to eat. They approach the convenience of pumping gas into a conventional car, and they’re free for life.

Not any more: Starting next year, new Tesla buyers hoping to plug in will have to pony up. But this isn’t Tesla giving up on its promises or Elon turning Ebenezer. This is Tesla growing up -- along with the American electric vehicle industry.

Forbes: Australia's $150 Billion Energy Projects Gamble Falls Flat

The year 2011 saw some notable developments in global oil markets. The spot price of Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, averaged $111.26/barrel for the year, the first time Brent averaged more than $100/barrel for a year.

Meanwhile, a wave of new LNG projects followed, either being green-lighted or proposed, in efforts to lock in what looked like would be years of increased demand amid exorbitantly high prices.

The building frenzy played out mostly in resource-rich Australia, whose proximity to Asian gas markets seemed the perfect fit. By the end of 2011, the country had earmarked several massive capex LNG projects, including the Wheatstone LNG project near Ashburton North on the Western Australian coast. Initial estimates for the 8.9 million tons per annum Wheatstone project were placed at A$29 billion (US$22.3 billion).

For a while it looked like nothing could go wrong for soon-to-be-built LNG projects -- then the bottom fell out.

Wall Street Journal: Toyota Looks to Electric Cars as Stronger Yen Dents Profits

Toyota Motor Corp. gave a strong signal Tuesday that it soon plans to jump on the battery bandwagon and make electric cars despite expressing skeptical views about their range and charging times.

News of Toyota’s technology shift came as its latest results, released Tuesday, showed the company’s profits were eroded by a stronger yen and the shift by American car buyers toward trucks and sport-utility vehicles. The company is turning to its regular playbook of trimming costs to bolster earnings, and slightly boosted its profit forecast for the year ending March 2017.