Zoe Deliveries Begin in France

Zoe Charges Ahead (Image: DBT/Automobile-Propre.com)
Zoe Charges Ahead (Image: DBT/Automobile-Propre.com)

After a series of delays in the planned delivery dates for the Zoe there is light at the end of the tunnel – finally some good news, at least for the French.

Firstly, the registration figures for electric cars in France for January 2013 show, for the first time, a significant number of registrations for the Zoe. In fact, seventy were registered which instantly propelled Zoe to the top of the list of EV registrations for the month (see AVEM and Automobile-Propre).

Secondly, Renault announced at the 2nd AVEM National Conference on Infrastructure Charging in Nice that the Zoe launch is now going full speed ahead.

Key milestones in the launch calendar include:

  1. Zoes will arrive in the Renault network in France in late February
  2. A total of 1,000 will be provided ready for the first two weeks of March
  3. Television advertisements will run from 9 March
  4. Renault will hold open days on 14 and 15 March
  5. A local print advertisement campaign begins 16 March
  6. Buyers in the Alsace region (up against a deadline for a local EV subsidy) will get deliveries by 31 March
  7. Buyers who ordered in October at the Paris Motor Show will get deliveries from mid-April

If everything goes according to plan we should expect there to be another small set of registrations in February, then significant and accelerating numbers for March, April and onwards.

Renault to Supply 2,000 ZOE Vehicles to UGAP

Renault to supply 2,000 ZOE and 100 Fluence Z.E. vehicles to UGAP

February 20, 2013

Renault to supply 2,000 ZOE vehicles to UGAP
Renault to supply 2,000 ZOE vehicles to UGAP
  • Renault has won the “Versatile 4-seater electric vehicle” and “Compact electric sedan” contracts in a new call for bids launched by Union des Groupements d’Achats Publics (UGAP, a public procurement group).
  • 2,000 Renault ZOE and 100 Renault Fluence Z.E. vehicles will be ordered over three years.

Attribution via a succession of contracts

As part of the call for bids launched in October 2012, Renault positioned ZOE in the “Versatile 4-seater electric vehicle” category and Fluence Z.E. in the “Compact electric sedan” category.

With Renault ZOE and Renault Fluence Z.E., UGAP benefits from a comprehensive, cutting-edge electric mobility offering that meets the needs of the government and public authorities and contributes to the development of the public electric vehicle population.

In all, Renault will supply more than 17,000 electric vehicles in the next three years to UGAP for the public order and to the order group of 20 large companies for the initial call for bids, as part of which more than 15,000 Kangoo Z.E. vehicles are currently being delivered.

Renault ZOE, a compact electric hatchback for everyday use

Renault ZOE ushers in a new era of widely affordable electric mobility. Launched in France in late 2012 and retailing from €13,700 incl. VAT (tax incentive deducted, battery rental starting at €79 a month incl. VAT for an annual 12,500 km over three years), Renault ZOE will be broadly available in the French sales network from March 2013 and in other European countries in the following months.

The first car designed to be full electric, Renault ZOE features leading-edge electric technology in a compact and appealing design. With over 60 patents filed in the development process, Renault ZOE claims six world firsts in terms of range, user friendliness and connectivity. Renault ZOE is the first mass-production vehicle to be homologated with a range of 210 km (NEDC [1]).

In everyday use, ZOE has a range of 100 km to 150 km depending on driving style and weather conditions. This performance was made possible by the “Range OptimiZEr” system fitted as standard on all Renault ZOE models and which increases vehicle range by nearly 25% thanks to three major technological innovations:

– new-generation regenerative braking,
– a heat pump,
– MICHELIN EnergyTM E-V tires.

Renault ZOE is a major step forward for the automobile and for Renault, which in 115 years of history has developed innovation after innovation with the firm aim of making technology available to the greatest number.

[1] New European Driving Cycle

Yelvertoft Wind Farm

Blades Being Installed on Turbine 5, Yelvertoft Wind Farm (Image: T. Larkum)
Blades Being Installed on Turbine 5, Yelvertoft Wind Farm (Image: T. Larkum)

Since writing about Milton Keynes Wind Farm I have become interested in visiting wind farms in my area, England’s East Midlands. Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit the new Yelvertoft Wind Farm which is currently in the process of having its wind turbines installed. It is located near Junction 18 of the M1 motorway. Construction began in June 2012 but, following the building of roadways and foundations, all the turbines are due to be installed between February and April this year.

Turbine Foundations, extending as far as the grassed areas (Image: T. Larkum)
The Foundations of a Turbine, extending as far as the grassed areas (Image: T. Larkum)

A wind turbine is installed in a specific sequence. First of all the foundations go in, essentially a large metal base (like an upturned plate) embedded in concrete. A duct allows for cables from the central structure to pass through the foundations and out along a trench to a central control point.

Turbine Base, with cables emerging from duct (Image: T. Larkum)
A Turbine Base, with cables emerging from duct (Image: T. Larkum)

Next a tower is built is built on the base, consisting of a set of tapering tower sections (three, in this case).

Turbine 5 Tower Lower Section Being Installed (Image: AES)
Turbine 5 Tower Lower Section Being Installed (Image: AES)

On top of this goes the main generator housing, the nacelle. It contains the generator plus electric motors for rotating the turbine to face into the wind, and for adjusting the pitch of the blades for maximum efficiency in a given wind speed. This is the single heaviest lift, about 70 tonnes.

A Turbine Hub Waiting To Be Installed (Image: T. Larkum)
A Turbine Hub Waiting To Be Installed (Image: T. Larkum)

Finally the main rotor hub is fitted to the front of this, with the three turbine blades already attached to it (though sometimes they can be installed separately).

A Set of Turbine Blades Waiting To Be Installed (Image: T. Larkum)
A Set of Turbine Blades Waiting To Be Installed (Image: T. Larkum)

This wind farm will eventually have 8 turbines. The particular type used here is the MM92 made by REpower. The MM92 is intended for medium and low wind locations. It has a rotor diameter of 92.5m and delivers a nominal power of 2MW, at a typical wind speed of 12m/s.

Installation Complete (Image: T. Larkum)
Installation Complete (Image: T. Larkum)

At Yelvertoft each turbine is mounted on a tower 80m high, making a total maximum height of about 125m.

Crane Withdraws (Image: T. Larkum)
Crane Withdraws (Image: T. Larkum)

My thanks go to Mark Mealing, the Site Engineer, for giving me a comprehensive tour of the location. One interesting thing I learned was that the complete wind turbine assembly comes to about 900 tonnes – but two-thirds of this is below ground, and mostly the weight of the concrete foundation.

Why the Price of Oil Went Up

Why the Price of Oil Went Up

Alister Hamilton (Electric Ali)

Oil Export Terminal, Saudi Arabia (Image: 2B1stConsulting.com)
Oil Export Terminal, Saudi Arabia (Image: 2B1stConsulting.com)

While OPEC is the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, not all oil exporting countries are members of OPEC. As we have seen in my first post, UK Fossil Fuel Production: A Brief History, the UK was an exporter of oil between 1980 and 2005 when output from the North Sea was in full flow, but has since returned to its more accustomed role of oil importer, importing approximately half a million barrels of oil per day in 2011, according to BP data.

In 2005, there were 33 net oil exporting countries in the world. That number has declined since as Argentina, Malaysia and Vietnam have left the unofficial club of net oil exporters. More countries will follow. Using data mostly from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012 together with a small amount of data from the US Energy Information Administration, we can build up a picture of oil production from the 33 net oil exporting countries.

Net Oil Exporters (2005): Production (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 1: Net Oil Exporters (2005): Production (Image: A. Hamilton)

As we can see from the figure, oil production from these countries has increased only very slightly in the six years from 2005 to 2011, by just over 1 million barrels per day. This is by far the lowest rate of growth in oil production from these countries in any six year period since the oil shocks of the 1970’s and represents an effective six year production plateau.

When we look at oil consumption in these countries, we see a somewhat different picture. Oil consumption in the 33 net oil exporting countries has increased over the decade to 2011 at an average rate of 2.9% per year. Oil consumption has grown by 2.91 million barrels per day in the period 2005 through to 2011.

Net Oil Exporters (2005): Consumption (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 2: Net Oil Exporters (2005): Consumption (Image: A. Hamilton)

By taking oil consumption away from oil production for the 33 net oil exporting countries, we get a picture of the net oil exports available for the rest of the world to import – countries like the UK. What we see is that, although production increased by 6.8 million barrels a day between 2002 and 2004, exports only increased by 5.7 million barrels per day due to rising internal consumption in oil exporting countries. And the maximum amount of oil exported by oil exporting countries was 45.87 million barrels per day in 2005. Since 2005, net exports have declined by 1.89 million barrels per day as oil production in the 33 net oil exporting countries has been approximately flat, while internal consumption has increased. This decline in available exports since 2005 has pushed up the price of oil on the market.

Net Oil Exporters (2005): Net Exports (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 3: Net Oil Exporters (2005): Net Exports (Image: A. Hamilton)

Now let’s factor in the massive increase in oil imports in rapidly growing India and China. If we treat India and China as one country, we can take their combined oil consumption away from their combined oil production to get a picture of their combined net oil imports as shown in the figure. The slightly alarming thing about oil imports by China and India is the rate of increase, an average of 10.1% per year between 2002 and 2011.

Now let’s try playing around with the numbers.

Let’s assume that oil production by the top 33 net oil exporters remains constant at just over 63 million barrels per day. Let’s also assume that the internal rate of oil consumption increase within the top 33 net oil exporters remains at 2.9% per annum. And finally, let’s assume that the rate of increase in oil imports by China and India combined continues at 10.1%. That is, things continue as they have been for the last few years.

If things keep going the way they have done recently, by 2026 – just 13 years away – the amount of oil on the market would be enough to supply China and India alone. There would not be enough oil for anyone else. None for the USA. None for the EU. None for the UK. Scary stuff.

India and China Net Oil Imports (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 4: India and China Net Oil Imports (Image: A. Hamilton)

But things won’t work out quite like that. They’ll probably be much worse! I’ll go into the reasons for that in my next post. But for now, let’s take a look at what might be called “Available” Net Exports defined here as the net exports from the 33 net oil exporting countries in 2005 minus the oil imports of China and India, i.e. the oil exports “available” to everyone else.

Net Oil Exporters (2005): Available Net Exports (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 5: Net Oil Exporters (2005): Available Net Exports (Image: A. Hamilton)

An even clearer picture now emerges. The pool of oil on the market “available” to countries other than India and China to import reached its maximum extent at 40.74 million barrels per day in 2005. That pool of oil has declined in size ever since due to a plateau in oil production in oil exporting countries, increasing internal consumption in oil exporting countries and dramatically increasing demand from the emerging economies of India and China, home to around 2.5 billion souls. The decline since 2005 is 12.38%.

Due to the basic economics of supply and demand, the price of oil on the market should have started rising around 2005 as net exports and “available” net exports peaked. And if we take a look at the price of Brent crude oil, here plotted as the average oil price over each year, that is exactly what we see:

Brent Oil Price, US$ per barrel, annualised (Image: A. Hamilton)
Figure 6: Brent Oil Price, US$ per barrel, annualised (Image: A. Hamilton)

Others have noticed and reported on these trends before and I am particularly appreciative of the work of Jeffery Brown and Kjell Aleklett of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO). The term “Available” Net Exports is taken from the work of Jeffrey Brown, who has kindly supported my work via personal communication.

All graphs produced by the author using BP and US EIA data.

The Joy of Solar 2: Internals

Solar Panels Completely Covering the Back Roof (Image: T. Larkum)
Solar Panels Completely Covering the Back Roof (Image: T. Larkum)

I described previously the installing of our solar panel system in The Joy of Solar 1: Installation but to complete the story it is necessary to describe the remainder of the system, most of which is internal to the house.

The panels on the roof produce low voltage direct current (DC) that needs to be converted to domestic voltage alternating current (230V AC) before connecting to the house electrics and national grid. In our case the wiring from the panel goes into the loft space to a large, red SMA ‘Sunny Boy’ inverter fitted on the inside of the end wall, and it’s this inverter that does the conversion. There are also three isolators; two can switch off the power from the panels before it goes into the inverter, and another can switch off the power from the inverter before it leaves the loft.

Left to Right: Panel Isolators, Inverter, and Inverter Isolator (Image: T. Larkum)
Left to Right: Panel Isolators, Inverter, and Inverter Isolator (Image: T. Larkum)

The cable from the inverter isolator then runs down the outside of the end wall and back in on the ground floor.

Power Connection from Inverter to Consumer Unit (Image: T. Larkum)
Power Connection from Inverter to Consumer Unit (Image: T. Larkum)

Inside it travels a short distance to another isolator, through a small generation meter, and then into the existing home consumer unit (with RCD).

Left to Right: Incoming Cable (in conduit), Consumer Unit, Isolator and Meter (Image: T. Larkum)
Left to Right: Incoming Cable (in conduit), Consumer Unit, Isolator and Meter (Image: T. Larkum)

The work has been done very neatly – my only complaint is that the meter is set very high up, meaning I often have to stand on something to read the solar meter. Of course, technically I only need to read it once every three months to claim the feed-in-tariff payment, so it’s my fault I’m often in there checking it and – whenever the sun comes out – just watching the meter tick up!

I’ll write up full details on how the whole solar system has fared in later posts – costs, power details, generation rates, etc. Suffice to say that, in two and a half years, it has generated more than 7,800 kWh of electricity, for which we’re being paid about 44p per kWh (so about £3400 so far). Using a typical value of 0.525kg CO2 per kWh for the UK national grid that means it has already saved four tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide.

We are very happy with it.

[The Joy of Solar 3 here]

Climate Change Catch-Up 2

A Reassuring Lie (Image: The Christian Science Monitor)
A Reassuring Lie (Image: The Christian Science Monitor)

I rarely have time to write up the various climate change articles that catch my eye so, like last time, I’m just going to list a selection:

How many climate-change deniers does it take to change a light bulb?

Europe’s climate forecast: unsettling

Climate Skeptics v. Climate Deniers

Top 50 Twitter climate accounts to follow

2012 in Review – a Major Year for Climate Change

‘Hug The Monster’: Why So Many Climate Scientists Have Stopped Downplaying the Climate Threat

As Climate Science Gets More Dire, Climate Policy Limps Along

Faint Praise for EU Climate Diplomacy

Climate Science Predictions Prove Too Conservative

The Great Disconnect: the human disease of which climate change is but one symptom

Do the Math! A Surprisingly Optimistic Video

Zoe Award News

Zoe eCarTec Award Winner
Zoe eCarTec Award Winner

The Zoe has received or been nominated for more than its fair share of awards, mostly related to its environmental potential.

It was recently reported that it had received the ‘Oxygen Award’ in the category ‘mobility and air quality’ at ‘Les Respirations’. This is an annual conference on how the atmosphere, climate and ecosystems can be protected and the opportunities to breathe clean air in cities, at work and on the road. The award was granted not just for the Zoe’s zero emission ability, but also because of its advanced air filtration and ‘Zen’ aromatherapy system.

In October last year Renault received two of the prestigious eCarTec awards for electric mobility, one for the Zoe and another for its Zero Emission strategy. This took place on 23 October at the 4th International eCarTec trade fair for electric and hybrid mobility on the grounds of Messe München. Over 60 international companies and institutions had applied for the competition in eight categories.

These awards follow two Next Green Car Awards 2012 last July and ‘Best Green Car’ at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in October.

Currently Zoe is a finalist for the 2013 World Car Awards in the 2013 World Green Car category. The winner will be announced at a press conference hosted by the New York International Auto Show and Bridgestone Corporation on Thursday, March 28.

Renault Unveils Facelifted Kangoo Van

[This release has been edited to focus on the electric Kangoo ZE]

1st February 2013


Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.
  • The New Year sees Renault, Europe’s number one van manufacturer; renew its compact van line-up (Kangoo Van was the best-selling model in its class in 2012, with a market share of 17.4 per cent). Significant changes have been made to Kangoo Van, which now features Renault’s new styling identity, following the introduction of a new front bumper. In the cabin, the dashboard has been revised in order to heighten the impression of quality.
  • Kangoo Van Z.E. is even more clearly identifiable as an electric vehicle. Europe’s leading electric van comes with a new specific front bumper which incorporates the flap for the battery charger behind the bigger, blue-tinted, more vertically-positioned logo.
  • The new Kangoo line-up features best-in- class engines for fuel efficiency. The dCi 75 and dCi 90 diesel engines are available with Stop&Start.
  • New equipment includes ESC with Hill Start Assist and Grip Xtend, plus, the connected in-dash Renault R-Link multimedia system.
  • Renault’s range of small vans is made exclusively at the firm’s MCA de Maubeuge plant in France.

Since its launch in 2008, the second-generation Kangoo Van has already found favour with more than 400,000 business customers. Renault’s compact van, which tops the European market, returns in strength this year with the release of a brand new Phase 2 version which covers the entire range, from Kangoo Van, and Kangoo Maxi, to Kangoo Van Z.E. and Kangoo Maxi Z.E.

The changes are immediately apparent, including the introduction of a new front end which incorporates the styling cues of Renault’s new design language, with a more prominent, vertically positioned logo. The new design highlights its robustness and modernity.

New door mirrors and headlights blend more harmoniously with the vehicle’s overall lines and the cabin, too, benefits from a new design in the form of a superior quality centre console and new steering wheel.

New Kangoo Van range

The Kangoo Van range offers two wheelbase lengths, three versions of the popular 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine (75, 90 and 110hp) and a choice of two- or five-seat versions of the Kangoo Maxi. The five seat “Crew” version features a rear seat that can be tipped forward to accommodate particularly long loads.

An impression of quality that expresses New Kangoo’s inherent robustness

During the development of New Kangoo Van, significant attention was paid to improving the impression of quality. A thorough review process lasting several months was implemented with a view to identifying those areas which permit the van’s strength to be instantly recognisable. The areas to benefit from attention include:

– Spot weld finishes,

– Crimping quality of door panels (cleaner, more consistent finish),

– Precision in the application of body sealants,

– Enhanced acoustics (sound proofing, aerodynamics, engines). 

Innovative equipment: Renault R-Link, ESC with Hill Start Assist and Grip Xtend

New Kangoo Van benefits from a connected multimedia system thanks to the introduction of R-Link (optional, or standard equipment for ‘Sport’ versions). This system incorporates the in-dash TomTom® LIVE navigation previously available for Phase 1 Kangoo, plus numerous new functions, such as advance warning of hazardous zones and the ability to download applications like the reading out of e-mails. The range of radios has evolved, too, with a choice of three solutions. All radios come with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, while the next level up is equipped with a CD player. The premium radio integrates with the Renault R-Link system.

Also available is new-generation ESC combined with Hill Start Assist, plus Grip for improved traction in difficult conditions. It goes without saying that New Kangoo Van continues to be available with the many innovations that have forged its reputation, including the sliding rear roof flap.

New Kangoo: made exclusively at Renault’s Maubeuge plant

All New Kangoos will be made exclusively at Renault’s MCA de Maubeuge facilities in France. This factory is notably acclaimed for its ability to cover a wide range of vehicles and options (63 versions of Kangoo, 21 engines/motors, the Mercedes Citan, 200 colours), as well as for its uncompromising quality inspection procedures. The factory has made more than 4.9 million vehicles since 1971, including almost three million small vans and ludospace derivatives.

The Maubeuge plant also houses a Renault Tech facility. Kangoo Vans can consequently be converted on site as they come off the line, allowing business customers to take delivery of quality, tailor-built vehicles directly.

A more assertive ‘electric’ look for Kangoo Van Z.E., Europe’s number one compact electric van

Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.

Like the whole Kangoo Van range, New Kangoo Van Z.E. comes with a new front end which features the brand’s latest styling identity. The differences between the electric and internal combustion-engined versions have been accentuated. New Kangoo Van Z.E. comes with a blue-tinted logo, for instance, and blue rear light trim extensions, as well as new black headlight masks.

The socket for New Kangoo Van Z.E.’s battery charger is now located behind the logo, at the front. By plugging in the cable provided, owners can benefit from a complete charge in between six and nine hours using a Wall Box at their home or at a roadside charging station.

Another specific feature is the Z.E. Voice function which emits a sound to warn pedestrians of the vehicle’s approach. This system is activated at speeds of between 1 and 19mph (no sound at a standstill). Meanwhile, in order to benefit from off-peak electricity rates, owners can programme the charging of New Kangoo Van Z.E.’s battery remotely using their computer or smartphone thanks to the ‘My Z.E. inter@ctive’ pack.

Unanimously acclaimed by the media, New Kangoo Van Z.E. has secured a long list of awards – including “International Van of the Year 2011”. It has also been endorsed by its early customers who have been swift to praise its driveability and battery charging capacity. The model stands out as Europe’s best-selling electric LCV with almost 7,000 vehicles sold to date, including 4,000 in France. 

UK Fossil Fuel Production: A Brief History

It is with great pleasure that I present the first guest post on MyRenaultZoe.com, the first of a series on energy issues by Alister Hamilton.

UK Fossil Fuel Production: A Brief History

Alister Hamilton (Electric Ali)

Offshore Oil Rig (Image: R. Garvey/Corbis)
Offshore Oil Rig (Image: R. Garvey/Corbis)

While climate change is a real and very serious threat that most people are aware of, there are other threats out there related to our use of fossil fuel based energy. As MyRenaultZoe.com is a website related to a new electric car, I would like to consider the threats to business as usual posed by the availability of liquid fuels, in particular oil. By doing this, we will see that there are other very good reasons for adopting electric transportation as soon as possible that people in general are not aware of.

I would like to start this story by looking at UK fossil fuel production history.

1. UK Coal Production

Although coal outcrops have been exploited for centuries in the UK and horizontal and shallow vertical shafts dug to access coal underground, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that UK coal production rose dramatically. Developments in the production of cast-iron and steam engine technology resulted in the increasing exploitation of coal as an energy source and coal powered steam engines as the prime mover in the industrial revolution. Energy from coal had many significant advantages over previously used energy sources: wind, water, wood, beast of burden or human. When steam engines were applied to transport – Stephenson’s rocket was developed in 1829 – coal consumption grew rapidly as the railway network developed through the Victorian era. Coal was widely used as a cheap fuel for heating, and coal gas provided both heating and lighting.

Figure 1: U.K. Coal Production 1820-2010 (Image: Professor David Rutledge, www.caltech.edu/~rutledge)
Figure 1: U.K. Coal Production 1820-2010 (Image: Professor David Rutledge, www.caltech.edu/~rutledge)

In the book “The Coal Question” published in 1865, economist William Stanley Jevons questioned the sustainability of UK coal production given observed production increases and a finite resource base. He argued that the great increase in UK coal consumption was brought about by technological improvements resulting in increased efficiency and therefore more widespread use of coal powered technology. Jevon’s paradox was that increased efficiency resulted in increased rather than decreased coal production.

UK coal production (by weight) peaked exactly a century ago in 1913 (see Figure 1) and despite strikes, nationalisation and later privatisation, production has declined ever since so that the UK now produces less coal than it did before the advent of the railways.

2. UK Oil Production

In 1911, when Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, Welsh coal was the principal fuel used by the Royal Navy. Churchill, aware of the many advantages that oil offered over coal as a fuel for warships, started the process of converting the Navy to oil power. As the UK had no known indigenous oil production at this time, finding and securing sources of oil became paramount. Churchill is quoted as saying:

“The oil supplies of the world were in the hands of vast oil trusts under foreign control. To commit the navy irrevocably to oil was indeed to take arms against a sea of troubles. If we overcame the difficulties and surmounted the risks, we should be able to raise the whole power and efficiency of the navy to a definitely higher level; better ships, better crews, higher economies, more intense forms of war power – in a word, mastery itself was the prize of the venture.”

After a government delegation visit to the Persian Gulf the government acquired 51% of Anglo-Persian stock, placed two directors on its board and negotiated a very favourable secret contract to provide the Admiralty with a 20 year supply of oil.

Around this time, petroleum-powered internal combustion engines achieved dominance over other automobile technologies of steam and electricity. The transition from coal to oil for transport fuel had begun.

The first oilfields in the UK sector of the North Sea were discovered in the very late 1960’s and 1970’s. UK production of oil began in the mid 1970’s. Production of oil rose as more and more fields entered production (see Figure 2). The Piper Alpha disaster in July 1988, in which 167 men died, led to a major drop in oil production from the UK sector of the North Sea before a final production peak was reached in 1999.

For the finer detail, production histories of individual UK oil fields can be found on the DECC website in graphical and tabular form including profiles of giant fields like the Forties field which produced around 2.5 million barrels per month at its peak, but which now produces less than 0.2 million barrels per month.

Figure 2: UK Oil Production, Consumption and Net Exports (Image: Alister Hamilton, data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012)
Figure 2: UK Oil Production, Consumption and Net Exports (Image: Alister Hamilton, data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012)

Since 1999, UK oil production has been in decline. From a peak of just under 3 million barrels per day in 1999, the UK produced just over 1 million barrels per day in 2011. Whereas UK coal production took approximately half a century to decline by 50%, UK oil production fell by approximately 50% in just 10 years. The UK was a net exporter of oil (defined as production minus consumption) for a fleeting twenty five year period between 1980 and 2005 at a time when oil was relatively cheap compared to prices today.

3. UK Natural Gas Production

UK natural gas production from the North Sea gradually replaced domestic coal gas supplies in the UK in the decade between 1967 and 1977. Production increased rapidly in the 1990’s before a peak in UK natural gas production in 2000, a year after UK North Sea oil production peaked in 1999. The UK was briefly a net exporter of natural gas (defined as production minus consumption), but since 2004 imports of natural gas have increased rapidly as production from the North Sea has declined by around 50% in just 10 years.

Figure 3: UK Natural Gas Production, Consumption and Net Imports (Image: Alister Hamilton, data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012)
Figure 3: UK Natural Gas Production, Consumption and Net Imports (Image: Alister Hamilton, data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012)

The UK now imports around half the natural gas it consumes by pipeline from countries like Norway and from further afield by LNG shipment from countries like Qatar, Algeria and Trinidad and Tobago.

4. UK Fossil Fuel Production and Consumption

Coal, oil and natural gas have provided the UK with an enormous energy bonanza. As we have seen, a great deal of fossil fuel energy has been produced in the UK. We can view all energy sources together if we consider the primary energy they represent in PetaJoules (PJ) per year. In Paul Mobb’s graph (see Figure 4) indigenous production, commodity imports and exports together with total supply by fuel type are plotted.

Figure 4: Production, Imports, Exports and Total Supply (Image: Paul Mobbs)
Figure 4: Production, Imports, Exports and Total Supply (Image: Paul Mobbs)

We see the historical production of coal from the 1930’s, by then well into its decline, and growing imports of petroleum through the 1950’s and 1960’s. UK oil and natural gas production then comes on line and we have a period of surplus in the 1980’s and 1990’s when energy is again exported and commodity imports shrink. Meanwhile UK coal production is continuing its decline and, as UK oil and natural gas also enter decline around the beginning of this century, we are forced to import more and more energy. Projections to 2020 show that we are becoming increasingly dependent on imported energy at a time of rising and volatile prices. In energy terms, we are heading back to the 1970’s.

Energy imports have an effect on the UK balance of trade. If we look at the UK balance of trade in oil, we can see that the UK has gone from a surplus of around £0.5 billion per month at the start of this century, to a deficit of around £1 billion per month more recently as UK oil production continues to decline.

If the UK is increasingly an importer of oil, the question is what is the status of oil exports from oil exporting countries from whom we buy our oil? And what is the competition for these supplies? I shall look at the answer to these questions in a later post.

Sales results 2013: Renault steps up its international development

This is from a Renault press release covering sales during 2012 (despite the name) edited down to focus on the European market. References to Renault’s electric vehicles are in bold; there is just a brief mention of the Zoe launch in 2013 at the end of the main text.
Note that in the same week it has been reported that Renault will be making 7500 job cuts.



Zoe vs Clio (Images: Renault)
Zoe vs Clio (Images: Renault)

The Renault group is successfully pursuing its international offensive.  In 2012, the Group set a new record outside Europe with 1,279,598 vehicles sold (+9.1%). For the first time in its history, the Group generated more than half of its sales outside Europe.  However, this international success did not offset an 18% fall in sales in Europe.  Overall, with 2,550,286 vehicles sold worldwide, Group sales were down 6.3% on 2011.

Highlights in 2012

  • In international regions: the Group set new records in sales and market share in two regions, the Americas and Eurasia. Brazil and Russia are now the Group’s second and third biggest markets respectively.
  • In Europe: against a backdrop of market crisis (-8.6%), and efforts to defend margins and restructure the sales offering in the UK, the Group had market share of 9.1% (-1 point) and sales of 1,270,688 vehicles, down 18%.
  • Renault expanded its electric range in 2012, with Twizy, which has topped sales of 9,000 units since launch. With Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Van Z.E., Renault is No. 1 on the electric vehicle market in Europe with market share of 28%.
  • Launched in fourth-quarter 2012 in Europe and Turkey, New Clio is a success with its audience.
  • In the LCV market, the Renault brand increased its market share in international regions and in Europe, maintaining its leadership for the 15th consecutive year, with market share of 15.5%.

“The Group’s international expansion strategy is bringing results. In 2012, we set a new international sales record with the Renault and Dacia brands. Nevertheless, this success could not totally make up for falling sales in Europe. In market conditions that were tougher than expected, we sought primarily to defend our margins,” said Jérôme Stoll, Member of the Executive Committee, Executive Vice-President, Sales and Marketing & Light Commercial Vehicles.

Sales by brand

  • Renault sales were down 6% on 2011, despite growing by a strong 13.9% outside Europe. With 2,124,773 units sold, the brand accounts for 83% of Group sales.
  • Dacia sales rose 4.8% to 359,822 units, buoyed by the expansion of the range in 2012 with the arrival of Lodgy (an MPV), Dokker (the first LCV), and the renewal of Sandero and Logan.
  • Renault Samsung Motors saw sales fall 44.4% to 65,691 units. The brand is restructuring its sales network and product offering and targeting a recovery from 2013. New SM5, the first vehicle launched since the roll-out of the brand’s Revival Plan, has made a good start.

In Europe: a market in crisis and an unfavourable market mix

In a market in crisis, Group sales fell by 18% for market share of 9.1% (-1 point). The Renault brand is No. 3 on the passenger car/LCV market.

  • Renault is highly exposed to markets in France and Southern Europe, and brand sales have suffered from the significant downturn on these markets. At the same time, the brand pursued the policy initiated in 2011 to defend unit margins:
    • Restructuring its sales presence in the UK, where it had market share of 2.4%, down 1.6 point
    • Against a backdrop of strong price pressure, pursuit of a virtuous policy in pricing and sales by channel, despite the ageing of the range, prior to the launch of New Clio.
  • The Renault brand confirmed its leadership in LCV sales for the 15th consecutive year, with market share of 15.5%.
  • Renault is the first brand to offer a range of four electric models, and is European leader with market share of 28%.
  • The Dacia brand expanded its product offering with the launch of Lodgy, taking market share of 1.6%, a rise of 0.1 point. In France, where it ranks No. 6, Dacia increased market share by 0.1 points to 3.7%. In Spain, brand market share rose 0.6 points to 2.3%.
  • In France, despite a 24.7% fall in sales, the Renault brand remains No. 1 for passenger car sales. Twingo, Mégane and Scénic are all leaders in their segment. In LCV sales, the brand dominated the market with market share of 32.1% (+0.1 point) despite a 10.1% fall in registrations. Kangoo, Master and Clio Fleet are the three best-selling LCVs, all brands.

Outside Europe: a 9.1% rise in sales, confirming the Group’s international expansion

  • Group sales outside Europe accounted for 50.2% of the total, compared with 43.1% in 2011, a rise of 7.1 points.
  • With 1,279,598 vehicles sold, the Group set a new sales record and made progress across all regions. International growth was driven by products tailored to the needs of international customers (Pulse, Scala, Novo Clio, New SM5, etc.) and by the local production of vehicles based on the M0 platform (Duster, Logan). Brazil and Russia are now the Group’s second and third biggest markets respectively.
  • The Renault brand now ranks No. 3 in Russia. It is No. 5 in Brazil, with sales well above the 200,000 mark.
  • LCV sales on international markets rose 14.6% to 99,690 units (29.6% of the total volume, a rise of 5.6 points).

Market outlook for the Renault group in 2013

In 2013, the global market is expected to grow by 3% on 2012, while the European market is expected to fall by at least 3%.

“Building on its international development strategy and the launch of attractive new products, the Renault group is setting a course for growth in 2013. We will pursue our development strategy in international markets. In Europe, our objective is to win back market share while continuing to implement a virtuous commercial strategy. Our growth will be driven by New Clio, which has made a strong start, and by a major product offensive with the launch of Captur, ZOE, New Clio Estate, New Symbol, New Logan, New Sandero, New Fluence and Novo Clio,” said Jérôme Stoll, Executive Vice-President, Sales and Marketing & Light Commercial Vehicles.

Total sales by brand

Cumulative to end of December  



% variation


1 803 065

1 918 862

– 6 %


321 708

342 409

– 6 %


2 124 773

2 261 271

– 6 %


65 691

118 135

– 44,4 %


344 912

323 145

+ 6,7 %


14 910

20 332

– 26,7 %


359 822

343 477

+ 4,8%


2 213 668

2 360 142

– 6,2 %


336 618

362 741

– 7,2 %


2 550 286

2 722 883

– 6,3 %


Total passenger car and LCV sales by region

Cumulative to end of December



% variation


551 314

689 023

– 20%

Europe** (excluding France)

719 374

861 179

– 16,5 %

Total France – Europe

1 270 688

1 550 202

– 18 %


360 918

345 865

+ 4,4 %


207 751

170 831

+ 21,6 %


450 916

396 927

+ 13,6 %


260 013

259 058

+ 0,4 %

Total outside of  France +  Europe

1 279 598

1 172 681

+ 9,1%


2 550 286

2 722 883

– 6,3 %


* Ventes
Europe = Union Européenne (24 pays) + Croatie, Islande, Norvège & Suisse


The top 10 markets for the Renault Group to end of December 2012




Market Share


551 314

24,2 %


241 594

6,6 %


189 852

6,5 %


170 303

5,1 %


118 727

14,8 %


118 169

15,2 %


113 664

26 %


100 783

9,8 %


96 144



83 366

10,7 %

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