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Welcome back. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,299 words, < 5 minutes.

This week on "Axios on HBO" — An exclusive: DNC chair Tom Perez said on Monday he's "not contemplating" an online convention despite the spread of the novel coronavirus (clip). Watch the full interview Sunday at 6pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.  

And at this moment in 1979, Gloria Gaynor was atop the Billboard singles charts with a hit that has a title for our times...

1 big thing: Coronavirus and geopolitics upend the oil landscape

Munich Airport sees far less traffic due to the coronavirus. Photo: Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images

Crude oil prices are falling again this morning in the wake of President Trump's Wednesday night announcement that European travel to the U.S. will be restricted for 30 days.

Why it matters: It's likely to further sap oil demand, which is already declining as COVID-19 stymies economic activity and travel.

  • More broadly, the oil landscape has been completely upended by the twin forces of coronavirus and the collapse of Saudi-Russia cooperation to limit production — a rupture slated to bring a lot of new supply.
  • Brent crude oil is trading in the $33-per-barrel range this morning, down well over $2 since Trump's announcement and around 50% below where it was in early January.

The big picture: “We are now staring at the whole world going into a lockdown,” energy analyst Vandana Hari tells Bloomberg.

  • “Oil demand can be expected to crash through the floor and all previous projections on oil consumption are now out the door," Hari said.
  • And via Reuters, National Australia Bank analyst Lachlan Shaw said, "This is what a large positive supply shock and a large negative demand shock looks like," and, "It’s hard to come up with a more bearish scenario."

What's new: Analysts are racing to keep up with the effects of the twin shocks of coronavirus and the OPEC+ rupture.

One fresh sign: yesterday the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast that U.S. crude oil production will fall next year for the first time since 2016.

  • And this morning, Apache Corp. became the latest U.S.-based producer to announce it's sharply cutting planned capital spending and slashing dividends.
  • Apache also said it's dropping its number of rigs in the Permian Basin shale play to zero.

What we don't know: The state of potential Trump administration efforts to help U.S. producers getting hammered by low prices remains unclear.

  • Last night Trump said the Small Business Administration will provide loans to small businesses affected by coronavirus and that he's asking Congress to boost funding for the program.
  • But I don't have a read yet on whether shale producers might apply or qualify.
  • He also said the administration would defer tax payments for certain people and businesses affected by the virus, and called on Congress to cut payroll taxes.

What they're saying: ClearView Energy Partners, in a note, said the plans "did not appear to explicitly offer support for upstream oil and gas production."

But it points out that tax deferments "could potentially benefit energy companies by freeing up some cash available to fund operations."

2. Joe Biden is facing a new climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The apparent end of the Democratic primary's truly competitive phase will bring closer scrutiny of Joe Biden's climate and energy plans — and new efforts to change them.

Driving the news: Bernie Sanders yesterday suggested that his mission in remaining in the race is pushing Biden left, and he name-checked climate change among the policy areas.

What's next: Sanders vowed to confront Biden on the topic at Sunday's debate in Arizona, saying he will ask:

  • "Joe, how are you going to respond to the scientists who tell us we have seven or eight years remaining to transform our energy system before irreparable harm takes place to this planet because of the ravages of climate change?"

The intrigue: Another thing that caught my eye is the latest positioning from the pro-Sanders Sunrise Movement, the youth-led group that has played a major role in pushing the Green New Deal into the political bloodstream.

Here's a slice of the spokesperson Aracely Jimenez's statement yesterday responding to Tuesday's primaries:

  • “It’s never been more important for the next Democratic President — whoever it is — to prioritize an aggressive Green New Deal that overhauls our economy and energy system while stimulating the economy for working people.
  • "That’s why we’re calling on Vice President Biden to pick up the mantle of Sen. Sanders’ ambitious Green New Deal plan, and pledge to make it a priority during his first 100 days in office."

The intrigue: It's not clear how much leverage Sanders and the left flanks of the green movement will have.

  • That's because Biden isn't just eking out wins — he's running away with many states, which limits the power of Sanders and groups backing him to win concessions.
  • Biden's success also limits the incentive to change course, but that said, it's helpful for him to gain as much support as possible across the party's ideological and demographic spectrum.
  • By the way, this FiveThirtyEight podcast about Tuesday's results explores these dynamics.

The big picture: While Biden's wide-ranging climate plan goes much further than Obama-era policies, Sanders' is far more aggressive.

  • I don't have space to list all the differences, but Sanders' $16 trillion Green New Deal plan includes calls to ban fracking, ban fossil fuel exports, and reach 100% renewables for power and transportation by 2030.
  • Both plans are a mix of executive actions and legislative goals. Check out more differences here.

But, but, but: My standing reminder differences between the plans shrink a lot if you consider what has any chance of getting through Congress and the courts.

3. Analysts: Oil's plunge won't bring down EVs
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Cheaper gasoline thanks to the oil price collapse isn't expected to badly undercut electric vehicles, but the overall economic dislocation from the novel coronavirus is a hurdle, analysts say.

Why it matters: EVs sales have grown in recent years, but they're still basically a niche market and tiny percentage of overall vehicle purchases, so any new headwinds are worth watching.

What they're saying: "For many years the theory is that low oil and gas is not good for EV demand from a high level," Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives tells me. But he adds...

  • "I believe on the margin some customers will stay away from EV in light of cheap gas, but overall the environmental movement and next generation technology and design behind Tesla neutralizes most of this dynamic."

The big picture: He's not alone. Morgan Stanley analysts gamed out the effects of gasoline prices at $2.37-per-gallon — where it was a few days ago — compared to $3.50-per-gallon.

Yes, that lengthens the "payback period" from switching to an EV from a traditional car on fuel savings alone to roughly seven years rather than four.

But, but, but: They say that while lower oil prices put a "dent in economic paybacks," their note adds...

  • [W]e strongly believe the next burst in BEV adoption will not come from individual consumers waiting for their Model Y or Cybertruck… bur rather megafleets (think e-commerce final mile delivery vans and ride sharing fleets in dense urban cores) moving rapidly (either voluntarily or with regulatory encouragement) into all-electric fleets."

And a piece yesterday in Barron's quotes UBS analysts who say that in China, the world's largest EV market, "we believe continuous efficiency gain and cost cut along the EV supply chain is much more predictable than oil price fluctuations."

The UBS note adds that in Europe, industry compliance with carbon emissions rules will drive sales.

4. Energy storage sees record growth

U.S. energy storage installations grew by a record amount last quarter, per new data from Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association.

Why it matters: Battery storage helps integrate more renewables onto power grids and, in some applications, provide backup power for buildings during outages.

The big picture: Installations totaled 186.4 megawatts in the fourth quarter and 523 for the full year, also a record.

For 2019 as a whole, California led the market for residential and non-residential buildings, while Massachusetts saw the most "front of the meter" deployments — basically systems used on the power grid.

The intrigue: The big power shutoffs to cut wildfire risk in California are beginning to boost the storage market, the analysis shows.

  • “California continues to be a market to watch and we expect almost one in four residential solar systems across the state to have storage attached in 2020," Wood Mackenzie analyst Brett Simon said in a statement.
  • "This is due to multiple factors, including the Self-Generation Incentive Program, opportunities from time-of-use rates, continued desire for resilience in the wake of PSPS events and even some upside from the new home solar mandate."

Go deeper: US Storage Industry Achieved Biggest-Ever Quarter and Year in 2019 (Greentech Media)

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Wood Mackenzie analyst who discussed California's storage market was Brett Simon (not Simon Flowers).