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Members of the rescue teams from the Egyptian army carry a dead body as they walk in the mud between the destroyed buildings, after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya, in Derna, Libya September 13, 2023. 

Ahmed Elumami | Reuters

Storm Daniel has left Libya, a country grappling with conflict and economic crisis for over a decade, in catastrophe. With little resource for search and rescue, experts warn that humanitarian partners will need tens of millions of dollars to respond to the needs of those impacted on the ground. 

According to the UN Development Programme, “humanitarian partners are requesting $71.4 million to respond to the most urgent needs of 250,000 people targeted out of the 884,000 people estimated to be in need, over the next three months.” Roula Abubaker, a spokesperson for UNDP, told CNBC the organization is still gathering data from the mission on the ground to determine the full cost of the damage.

Over 3,000 people have been killed and more than 9,000 remain missing with the toll expected to rise, according to the World Health Organization, but numbers have been difficult to verify.  Meanwhile the International Organization for Migration estimates 40,000 people have been internally displaced following the storm. Medical centers are struggling to treat civilians and morgues are running out of space for the deceased.

Maxar satellite imagery of streets amd neighborhoods after the catastrophic flooding that struck the Libyan coastal city of Derna. 

Maxar Technologies | Getty Images

“No matter how many pictures you see about Derna, you did not see anything. We don’t need water or food. We need specialized and experienced rescue teams,” Mohamed Elkwafi, a volunteer with the Eastern Libyan National Army Security Units in Derna, told CNBC. 

The rare Mediterranean hurricane tore through dams in Libya’s eastern port city of Derna, Soussa, Benghazi, Albayda and several other cities, leaving a grim aftermath. The storm moved over land, resulting in severe flash floods and extreme rainfall that collapsed infrastructure and homes. Storm Daniel developed in early September over Greece causing fatalities before migrating to Turkey and Bulgaria and through North Africa.

Libya’s political challenge

Libya’s government has been marred by conflict since 2011 after the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled the oil-rich North African country for four decades. The government was split into two administrations after renewed tensions from the rise of militias in 2014. One administration is based in the country’s east and the other in the capital Tripoli. A ceasefire was brokered in 2020 but Libya remains deeply fragmented after the Government of National Unity was formed in Tripoli in 2021.

A man sits on a damaged car, after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya, in Derna, Libya September 12, 2023.

Esam Omran Al-Fetori | Reuters

Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh rules as the internationally recognized prime minister in Benghazi. Another rival government was formed in 2022 in the east called the Government of National Stability, leaving two parties vying for control.

Despite the deep divisions between the east and the west, when it comes to search and rescue, Mohamed Elkwafi told CNBC he has been working “with all the security units, medical teams, and rescue teams as one team.”

Libya’s reconstruction

The Central Bank of Libya convened an emergency meeting last Thursday to discuss support for the impacted areas. The bank shared the outcome on X, formerly known as Twitter: “The committee reached a number of recommendations, the most important of which is opening a bank account with the Central Bank of Libya, specifically dedicated to collecting donations from commercial banks.” The financial institution was previously split in two entities in 2014 for nearly a decade but reunified in August.

Libya’s economy has struggled since the fall of Gadhafi with decentralization, but the country’s vast oil and gas reserves, which are the biggest in Africa, remain its dominant source of revenue. While terminals initially closed, the storm has not impacted Libya’s output, which is around 1.2 million barrels per day. The World Bank projected this year a potential uptick in economic growth with help from monetary contributions if conflict ceases.

The International Monetary Fund has yet to announce financial aid but Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva tweeted: “The IMF stands ready to provide the Libyan authorities any assistance they may need.” The IMF began re-surveilling Libya in June after a decade-long hiatus.

General view of flood water covering the area as a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Al-Mukhaili, Libya September 11, 2023, in this handout picture.

Libya Al-Hadath | via Reuters

Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist and fellow at the London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute says that Derna’s road to recovery will be an expensive one. 

“The 2.5 billion dinars ($51M) carved out by the Tripoli authorities is a big amount to mobilize out of budget for rebuilding, but it’s still nothing compared to the damage that was experienced,” he told CNBC.

“I think you would have to multiply this number by probably 10 or 20 to rebuild all the other municipalities.”

Last week UN Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths announced a $10 million emergency financial aid package for Libya.  Other countries that pledged support include the EU, U.S., UK, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Turkey, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates.

But Harchaoui is skeptical it will be enough, adding “I think if we don’t reach $5 billion dinars then it means that there’s no real possibility of dignified reconstruction efforts.”

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US grid-scale energy storage installations soared in Q2 2023




US grid-scale energy storage installations soared in Q2 2023

The US battery energy storage market added 5,597 megawatt hours (MWh) in the second quarter of 2023, a new quarterly record.

The grid-scale segment of the industry drove the market with a record-breaking 5,109 MWh in Q2, beating the previous record in Q4 2021 by 5%, according to Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association’s (ACP) latest US Energy Storage Monitor report.

The grid-scale segment achieved 172% growth quarter-over-quarter. California was No. 1 among states with the most grid-scale energy storage installations, with 738 MW and a 49% share of installed capacity.

Wood Mackenzie projects the grid-scale segment to be the main driver of the market in its five-year forecast from 2023-27, accounting for 83% of total installations, or 55 gigawatts (GW).

ACP’s VP of research and analytics, John Hensley, said:

The energy storage market is on pace for a record year, as utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability.

The market is on pace to nearly double annual installations despite supply chain challenges and interconnection delays, and will continue to grow quickly in coming years.

Community, commercial, and industrial (CCI) installations, at 107 MWh, were higher than any quarter in 2022 but couldn’t keep pace with the huge spike in Q1 installations, resulting in a 53% quarterly decline. However, the segment is still up 25% year-over-year.

Residential storage saw its second-straight quarter of decline at 381.2 MWh, behind Q1’s 388.2 MWh. California saw the biggest decline, decreasing 17% quarter-over-quarter and 37% year-over-year.

Vanessa Witte, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s energy storage team, said, “We still project strong growth for the residential segment in our five-year outlook, reaching a total of 8 GW in 2027. However, the CCI segment continues to fail to meet growth projections and we have downgraded its five-year growth forecast by 28% to 3 GW.”

On Friday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $325 million for 15 projects across 17 states and one tribal nation to accelerate the development of long-duration energy storage (LDES) technologies. The DOE has set a goal to reduce the cost of LDES by 90% by 2030.

Read more: Volvo is going to turn used EV batteries into new battery storage

Photo: Jupiter Power; Graphs: US Energy Storage Monitor Q3 2023 | American Clean Power Association, Wood Mackenzie

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Tesla releases update on Optimus robot with video looking like CGI




Tesla releases update on Optimus robot with video looking like CGI

Tesla has released an update with progress on its Optimus humanoid robot with a video that almost looks like CGI.

Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, has not been taken seriously by many outside of the more hardcore Tesla fans, and for good reasons.

When it was first announced, it seemed to be a half-baked idea from CEO Elon Musk with a dancer disguised as a robot for visual aid. It also didn’t help that the demo at Tesla AI Day last year was less than impressive.

At the time, Tesla had a very early prototype that didn’t look like much. It was barely able to walk around and wave at the crowd. That was about it.

But we did note that the project was gaining credibility with the latest update at Tesla’s 2023 shareholders meeting earlier this year.

At the time, Tesla showed several more prototypes that all looked more advanced and started to perform actually useful tasks.

Tesla has now released a new update on Optimus with a video showcasing the ability of the robot to sort objects autonomously:

Like the latest versions of Full Self-Driving, Tesla also notes that Optimus is now being trained with neural nets end-to-end.

The video shows that Tesla is again making progress with the Tesla bot, which looks more refined in this update. The mechanics look more stable with a prototype balancing on one foot.

The video even looks CGI at times, but everything points to Tesla actually having those working prototypes around its offices.

In a previous update on Optimus, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the “Optimus stuff is extremely underrated.” The CEO said that the demand could be as high as 10 to 20 billion units.

He went as far as “confidently predicting” that Optimus will account for “a majority of Tesla’s long-term value.”

There’s no clear timeline for bringing the product to market, but Tesla is expected to first use it in its own operations.

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Quick Charge Podcast: September 23, 2023




Quick Charge Podcast: September 23, 2023

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from Electrek. Quick Charge is available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn and our RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

New episodes of Quick Charge are recorded Monday through Thursday and again on Saturday. Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast player to guarantee new episodes are delivered as soon as they’re available.

Stories we discuss in this episode (with links):

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