El Hierro Revisited

In November last year I wrote a post on the Gorona del Viento plant on the island of El Hierro in the Canaries, an innovative renewable energy project that uses a pumped hydro system to supply dispatchable power to the grid and surplus power from a wind farm to keep the pumped hydro reservoirs topped up. Gorona del Viento was in the news at the time because it had just been commissioned and was being hailed as an example of how renewable energy could be made to supply 100% of energy needs on a remote island. The graphic below recaps the plant layout:

Gorona del Viento plant layout. The wind turbines have a capacity of 11.5 MW and the pumped hydro plant a capacity of 11.3MW. The Llanos Blancos diesel plant, which has historically provided the island’s electricity, consists of seven diesel-fired units (one mobile) ranging in size from 0.78MW to 2MW and aggregating 11.78MW. Average demand on the island is about 5.4MW and peak demand about 7.6MW.

And after having succeeded in supplying 100% of El Hierro’s power for two consecutive hours between 12.25 and 14.25 on August 9th, 2015 (the claims of four consecutive hours are incorrect) Gorona del Viento is now back in the news:

El Pais, August 20, 2015:

For four hours from 12 noon on Sunday August 9, the Gorona del Viento wind-hydro power station generated all the electricity for the tiny island of 10,000 inhabitants using clean energy – the culmination of a project that began 30 years ago.

Energy Live News, August 24, 2015:

“This is a relevant fact for locals, Europe and the planet. We prove that it is possible to achieve 100% of green energy in an isolated region by boosting renewables and ditching fossil fuels.”

Olive Press News, August 15, 2015:

El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, has turned off its diesel engines. The island is set to be run entirely on wind power from this week.

Well, El Hierro hasn’t turned off its diesel engines quite yet. On August 30, 2015, the last day for which I have data, 74% of the island’s electricity came from diesel generation. Nor is it set to be run entirely on wind power. In fact it won’t be for some time, if ever.
Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Oil Production Vital Statistics August 2015

The main action this month has been on the oil price that continued to slide. Both WTI and Brent set new post-crisis lows but saw sharp reversals on 27th and 28th August last week. This is a story still unfolding that is discussed in greater detail in the caption to Figure 1 (below). Global oil production data remains in its up trend although there are signs from the regions that this may be slowing and reversing. Monthly data revisions continue to obscure the real picture.

  • World total liquids production down 580,000 bpd to 96.57 Mbpd.
  • OPEC production down 20,000 bpd to 31.79 Mbpd (C+C)
  • N America production down 240,000 bpd to 19.55 Mbpd.
  • Russia and FSU down 100,000 bpd to 13.87 Mbpd
  • Europe up 50,000 bpd to 3.34 Mbpd (compared with July 2014)
  • Asia down 140,000 bpd to 7.91 Mbpd.
  • Middle East rig count is stable. The international oil rig count continues to decline while the US oil and gas rig count is flat-lining.

Figure 1 With production data always running one month in arrears, the oil price and rig counts give us the most up to date indicators for the oil market. August has seen a lot of action for the oil price with the slide that began in July continuing through August. But then on 27th and 28th August there was a sharp reversal of fortune. Note that at time of writing the EIA price data stops on 24 August. I have used data from the FT to illustrate the recent uptick in price.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Iran nuclear deal could pave way to higher output

In a departure from our usual format, this post simply reproduces a part of the August edition of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Oil Market Report (OMR). It provides a time table for the full return of Iran to the oil market and discusses recent action and consequences. The prospect of an additional 1 Mbpd oil coming to the export market is clearly bearish for the oil price. The possibility remains though that OPEC resume their policy of protecting price and cut production to make way for Iranian crude.

Prior to 2008, Iran was pumping at 4 Mbpd with a  production peak of 4.25 Mbpd in July 2006. Since 2008 Iranian production has been in decline. It is unclear to what extent this is due to reserves depletion and how much to imposition of sanctions. With spare capacity now booked at 730,000 bpd, the IEA view is that Iran may have total capacity of about 3.6 Mbpd which seems reasonable. Stretching unused capacity to over 1 Mbpd as suggested by the Iranians seems rather speculative and reminiscent of striking a bargaining position within the OPEC quota system. The excerpt from the OMR is below the fold.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Blowout week 87

This week’s Blowout features a drought. Not the California drought, which is hardly unprecedented, but one that is – the drought in major US hurricane landfalls. It is now almost ten years since the last major hurricane made landfall in the US, the longest drought since records began in 1851:

CNS News:  NOAA: Hurricane Drought Hits Record 118 Months

As of today, it has been a record 118 months since the last major hurricane struck the continental United States, according to records kept by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division, which list all hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland going back to 1851. A major hurricane is Category 3 or higher hurricane. The last one to strike the continental U.S. was Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. President Obama is the first president in 122 years, since Benjamin Harrison was in office, who has not seen a major hurricane strike the U.S. during his time in office. In a statement on its website, NOAA expressed concern that Americans might suffer from “hurricane amnesia.” The second longest stretch between major hurricanes hitting the continental U.S. was the eight years between 1860 and 1869, NOAA records show. “It has been 10 years since Hurricanes Katrina (Aug. 29), Rita (Sept. 23/24) and Wilma (Oct. 24) made landfall along the Gulf Coast during one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history,” NOAA said in a statement marking the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 hurricane season. “Wilma is also the last major hurricane to strike the U.S.–an unprecedented stretch that could unfortunately lead to ‘hurricane amnesia’ for the destruction such a hurricane can cause.”

Hurricane Katrina, August 8, 2005 (image credit UA News)

Stories of interest below the fold include: oil price jumps after Venezuela asks for emergency OPEC meeting, Dutch rail to run entirely on wind power, UK to cut solar subsidies, nuclear in Sweden, El Hierro goes 100% renewable for four hours, Japan cuts oil usage, the costs of the Energiewende, Aberdeenshire approves Northconnect link, US and China to cooperate on clean coal, problems with ocean acidification models, C-Enduro, a solar/wind powered catamaran and SWET, the Solar Wind Energy Tower (don’t miss the video).

Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Inter Connectors – who needs them?

There’s only one thing that renewable energy advocates like more than plastering hillsides with turbines and that is building transmission lines and inter connectors, deemed necessary to make it all work.

In this short post I want to draw attention to a news item (in Danish) I received courtesy of Hugh Sharman detailing a complaint that the Danes have with their German neighbours. The Germans are blocking electricity exports from Denmark, evidently in contravention of EU free trade rules.

According to latest data from the Energy Watchdog, the inter connector between Denmark and Germany is just available for Danish exports for 14% of the time.

So what’s going on here? If existing inter connectors are not being used, what is the point in planning and building more?

Figure 1 Map of the European high voltage grid courtesy of Energyanalyst showing the inter connections between Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Figure 2 shows the actual flows for May 2014.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

“Renewable”, “Sustainable” And The Brundtland Commission

The phrase “renewable energy” conjures up visions of wind, solar, tidal power – clean energy sources that last forever and which will power the world into a green, sustainable future that will last forever. But what, exactly, is sustainability? How is it defined? When we examine the official definitions we find two things: First that renewable energy is not necessarily sustainable and sustainable energy not necessarily renewable: and second that there’s far more to sustainability than just energy. Sustainability contemplates a complete restructuring of the global economy and the world’s social fabric, and energy policy has, unfortunately, been nominated to take the lead in achieving it.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , | 66 Comments

OPEC’s Gigantic Blunder

With WTI falling below $40 and perhaps heading for $20, one needs to wonder if OPEC’s strategy is working out as planned? Why are they following this course and what are their goals? The face value explanation, accepted by many, is that OPEC is protecting market share especially against rampant supply growth in the OECD, namely in the US LTO (light tight oil) patch. This post examines how OPEC’s market share has evolved with time and with past swings in the oil price.

This turned out to be more complex than expected. But scrutiny of the data shows that following each of the three oil shocks since 1965 (Figure 1) OPEC market share AND oil price fell (Figure 3). The most recent trend follows the 2008-2014 highs and I believe it is this observation that is driving current behaviour.

Had OPEC decided to sacrifice about 5% market share they could have maintained price above $100 per barrel for years to come in which time the US shale bonanza may have burned out. It seems that OPEC may have made a colossal error that threatens to de-stabilise their member countries. This post originally appeared on the Energy Matters blog.

Figure 1 OPEC market share is simply OPEC production / global production. It is very difficult to make sense of the data from this plot. In Figure 2 the variables are cross plotted against each other which does enable some sense to be made. Shock 1 = Yom Kippur, Shock 2 = Iranian revolution and Shock 3 = peak cheap conventional oil.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 45 Comments

Blowout week 86

CO2 emissions are in the news in advance of the forthcoming Paris Climate Conference, and now we learn that CO2 emissions from China, the world’s number one emitter, may have been significantly overestimated. Have they? And if they have, how much difference does it make?

Coal plant, Yangtze River

New York Times:  China’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions Overstated by 14%

Scientists may have been overestimating China’s emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 10 percent, because of inaccurate assumptions about the country’s coal-burning, according to a study published on Wednesday. The study looked in detail at the coal used as fuel in China, and found that it is generally less rich in carbon and is burned less efficiently than scientists had assumed. That means that each ton of burned coal yields less carbon dioxide than had been thought (as well as less energy, and more ash). “We measured thousands of samples of coal from mines across China, and found that the carbon content of the coal being burned in China is actually much lower than what has been assumed in previous estimates of emissions,” Steven J. Davis, a greenhouse gas scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the authors, said in emailed answers to questions. The researchers found that, on average, each lump of coal in China was 40 percent less potent as a source of carbon dioxide emissions than the default figure used for coal by the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change. This made the researchers’ estimate for China’s total emissions markedly lower than those reached previously by monitoring projects financed by the United States government and the European Commission. The scientists reckon that in 2013, China produced 9.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and cement production, “which is 14 percent lower than the emissions reported by other prominent inventories,” the study said.

Below the fold: Cracks in OPEC unity, EIA cuts oil price forecast, low oil prices threaten Canadian oil producers and US ethanol producers, the end of the Golden Age of Gas, refracking – the next shale revolution, Mexico imports oil for the first time, UK scrambles to avoid EU emissions fines, Longannet to close, biomass at Drax, Islam calls for an end to fossil fuels, Germany’s grid even more reliable, EPA goes after methane, E.ON’s modular energy storage battery, the Aquarius wind/solar powered ship, 2015 to be the warmest year on record and how global warming caused dogs.

Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Who Killed Hamako Watanabe?

CNN: Four months after three reactors melted down at the Fukushima plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami, Hamako Watanabe and her husband lost their home, their jobs and the prospect of restoring their lives. She doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after slipping into depression. Her husband, Mikio Watanabe, found her charred body. “We lost everything,” her widower told CNN in 2012. “We were forced to evacuate. We lost our jobs. I lost my wife in such a terrible way. I really lost everything.”

Mikio Watanabe holds a portrait of his late wife Hamako at his home at Yamakiya district

Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 181 Comments

Electricity Supply – Driven by Politics at the Customers’ Expense?

Guest post by David Porter, former CEO of UK’s Association of Electricity Producers and Energy UK. David has recently published a book chronicling the UK electricity generating industry that he previews here.

Most of what I read in Energy Matters fits nicely in my comfort zone. Some of it, however, collides with my prejudices and at times I am swept out of my depth by the mathematics. Never mind. Many of the subscribers to Energy Matters apply more rigour to today’s issues than those who decide our energy policy; and with policy for electricity supply, in particular. The recent questioning here of conventional thinking about the comparative level of CO2 emissions from gas- and coal-fired power stations, for example – with serious people being prepared to admit that they might have been wrong – is not the kind of thing witnessed very often at the tables where our policy-makers sit. More’s the pity.

17 minute interview with David on Energy Live News.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Green Mythology and the High Price of European Electricity

The price of residential electricity in the EU is correlated with the level of renewable energy installed on a per capita basis. The data shows that more renewables leads to higher electricity bills. The notion that renewable energy is cheap is one of five Green energy myths discussed.

A few weeks ago Willis Eschenbach posting at WUWT and Jonathan Drake posting at Paul Homewood produced a chart showing a relationship between European residential electricity prices and the installed renewable energy (RE = wind + solar) per capita for a number of European countries that I have reproduced below. I thought this was one of the most interesting charts I’d seen for a while and wanted to write a post on it, but Dave Rutledge posting at Judith Curry beat me to it.

So why do I think this is important and why do we need another post? Well, the notion that RE is cheap is one of a number of Green energy myths that has become engrained in the public psyche. President Obama evidently believes that renewable electricity is cheap and expanding RE supplies was part of the medicine recommended by the IMF / EU to cure Greece’s economic woes. I have been told many times by those who make their living peddling renewable hardware that RE has brought down European electricity prices. I’m afraid there is little evidence to support that notion in Figure 1. So where does the truth lie?

Figure 1 The Y-axis shows residential electricity prices for the second half of 2014 from Eurostat. The X-axis installed wind + solar capacity for 2014 as reported in the 2015 BP statistical review normalised to W per capita using population data for 2014 as reported by the UN.
Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 199 Comments

Blowout Week 85

This week we feature biomass, which is coming under increasing scrutiny because of growing doubts as to how carbon-neutral it really is. Now the EU is beginning to have second thoughts:

Biomass awaits burning (Image Credit National Boiler Service)

Reuters:  EU takes aim at biomass

For many nations, wood burning, or biomass, provided a fast, affordable way to meet a European Union goal to get a fifth of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. Spurred by subsidies, EU nations will meet almost 60 percent of that target from biomass, according to European Commission data. But as forests, which absorb carbon dioxide, are replanted more slowly than they are burned, not all biomass is sustainable and an assumption that it is carbon neutral can be wildly inaccurate. The European Commission, the EU executive, has said there is a problem, but does not expect to deliver its strategy to address it until well after landmark United Nations’ talks in Paris late this year on a global climate deal. “The European Commission will propose a new renewable energy package in 2016-2017. This will include a new policy for sustainable biomass and biofuels,” an EU official said on condition of anonymity. Even then, it could take two years of negotiations to finalise law binding on the 28 member states, while the number of uncounted emissions will rise, campaigners say. For the purposes of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), meant to be the main EU weapon against climate change, electricity generated from biomass counts as zero emissions on the basis that every tree chopped down for fuel is replaced. Campaigners say that even if trees are planted, creating carbon sinks takes decades or even centuries. In some instances burning biomass can be more polluting than coal, especially if fragile environments such as wetlands are disturbed.

The usual mix below the fold, including the EPA’s unscheduled release of contaminated water from a Colorado gold mine, Poland rations electricity, IEA’s oil market predictions, Venezuela wants an OPEC meeting, wireless charging of EVs, Gazprom to expand Nord Stream, US shale oil gets even cheaper, Scotland needs a supergrid, Sendai nuclear plant threatened by volcano, the end of the global population explosion, Skywolf, a Solar Hybrid Diffused Augmented Wind Turbine and how climate change is bringing British butterflies to the brink.
Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings

Since February 2014 I find that I’ve published 24 posts on renewable energy here on Energy Matters (linked to in order of appearance at the end of the post) . In them I’ve written about wind, solar and tidal power, hydro, biogas, hydrogen and methane, CO2 emissions, interconnectors, exports and imports, energy storage, load management, backup capacity and ramp rates, the UK, France, Germany, Norway, California, remote islands like Eigg and El Hierro, the world as a whole and even mythical places like Atlantis and the Island of Denmark. I’ve reviewed “energy future” plans formulated by others, such as DECC, the National Grid and France’s ADEME and even come up with some plans of my own. I can’t think of any stone I’ve left unturned, or for that matter anything more I can write about for the time being.

So, time to sum up.

The ongoing transition to renewables – is it leading us into a clean, green, sustainable energy future, or will it leave us freezing in the dark? Or will it do neither?

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 112 Comments

The Oil Price: how low is low?

With West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent close to their January 2015 lows some readers are wondering how these lows compare with historic lows when the oil price is adjusted for inflation (deflated). BP just happen to provide an oil price series that is adjusted for inflation (Figure 1). The data are annual averages and based on Brent since 1984. Annual averages conceal the extreme swings in price that tend to be short lived. At time of writing WTI front month future contract was $44.42 and Brent front month future was $49.92.

Figure 1 The blue line gives the annual average oil price (Brent since 1984) in money of the day and the red line adjusted for inflation expressed in $2014. Three large spikes in the oil price are evident in the 1860s, 1970s and 2010s. It is notable that the magnitude of each spike is similar, of the order $100 to $120 (adjusted to 2014 $). The 1860s and 1970s spikes were followed by long bear markets for the oil price, lasting for 110 years in the case of 1864 to 1973.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Blowout Week 84

This week we feature Tesla’s Snakebot, an autocharging device which allows Tesla owners to charge their batteries without the drudgery of having to plug them in. No information is available as to whether current flow is reversed when the wind stops blowing:

Business Finance News:  Tesla Motors Inc Unveils Snakebot Autocharger Prototype

Last December, Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive Tesla Motors Inc, tweeted that the company was striving to roll out an automated charger that “moves out from the wall and connects like a solid metal snake.” The robotic snake charger is currently in testing phase, but the company said it could work on its premium sedan, the Model S, on the road. When the snake charger senses a charging point nearby, the charging port of the Model S automatically opens. The technology is similar to when the vehicle’s door handle senses the driver approaching towards the car with the keys, it automatically opens the door. Although, the company has not given many details regarding the upcoming automated charger, it is expected to be initially installed in more than 480 Supercharger stations across the US.

Stories below the fold include: Saudi Arabia having to borrow money, BP to invest in N. Sea oil, nuclear risks are all in the mind, renewables self-destructing, Jeremy Corbyn on rooftop solar and nationalization, Germany’s neighbors blocking imports of unwanted German wind & solar, emissions wars in Australia, a cold summer in Iceland, US rig count up again, how corals can survive ocean acidification, why sucking CO2 out of the air won’t work and the latest weapon in the fight against climate change – bovine dietary supplement 3-nitrooxypropanol.

Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Obama’s CO2 Deception

On August 3rd President Obama made a speech* detailing his plans to decarbonise the US electrical power generation sector. While the legality of this move has been challenged in certain quarters, in this post I want to focus on the technical details and competence of the President and his advisors at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Let me begin by focussing on what the main target is:

to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

*Note that the quotes throughout are lifted from the White House narrative to the speech rather than the speech itself.

So what does a 32% reduction in CO2 emissions mean in practical terms for US power generation and CO2 emissions? A good starting point is to look at the electricity generation mix and how it has changed since 2005 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 US electrical power generation 2005 to 2014 as published by DOE-EIA.

The key observations are as follows:

Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 65 Comments

How Much Wind And Solar Can Norway’s Reservoirs Balance?

The Skaggerak subsea power cable connects Norway with Denmark. The NorNed cable connects Norway with the Netherlands. By 2019 the Nordlink cable will connect Norway with Germany and by 2021 the NSN cable will connect Norway with the UK. And now Scotland wants to connect with Norway via the NorthConnect link:

Figure 1: Existing, in progress and planned interconnectors with Norway

Why are these countries so anxious to connect to Norway? Because Norway’s hydro reservoirs are regarded as a large-scale storage battery that can be used to smooth out large quantities of intermittent renewables generation. The 2013 Joint Norwegian-German Declaration says as much:

Thanks to its natural endowments and previous investments, Norway possesses 50% of Europe’s entire power storage capacities. Therefore, Norway is in a position to provide large-scale, cost-effective, and emission-free indirect storage to balance wind and solar generation in other countries ….. In times of high wind or solar production, Norway can import cheap electricity from abroad, thereby saving water in its reservoirs. In times of low wind production, Norway can use the stored water to export power at higher prices. In this way, excess wind or solar production can be stored and used later.

On the face of it this looks like a win-win proposition. Germany and its renewables-heavy, storage-challenged neighbors get to store the intermittent wind and solar power they couldn’t otherwise use in Norwegian reservoirs and Norway makes money selling it back to them. But how is it going to work out in practice? Here we look into this question.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 89 Comments

Blowout week 83

With all the recent focus on Saudi Arabia, OPEC and oil it’s easy to forget that the Middle East is also distinguished by its climate, which is very hot in summer. So in this week’s Blowout we feature the ongoing Middle Eastern heat wave, which is breaking all regional records since ….. since, well, 2003:

Telegraph:  Scorching ‘heat dome’ over Middle East sees temperatures soar to 165F in Iran

Iran is buckling under the pressure of a massive heatwave passing across the Middle East, with temperatures soaring to nearly 70C. Scorching heat levels of 50C have already paralysed nearby Iraq, where officials were forced to call a four day public holiday because it was too hot to work. But the word “hot” has taken on an entirely new meaning in Iran’s city of Bandar Mahshahr, where it was claimed that the city’s heat index, or “feels-like temperature”, was among the highest ever recorded. The heat index was recorded by a group of astonished weather experts who predict the country could be enduring some of the hottest urban temperatures ever endured by mankind. ‘That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world,’ said AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Saglia. It is just a few degrees lower than the highest ever recorded heat index, which was 178F (81C) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003.

The usual potpourri of news from around the world below the fold, including layoffs at Shell and Centrica, BP still paying for Deepwater Horizon, an Australian coal mine sells for $1, Fukushima executives charged, possible lawsuits over green subsidies in UK, nuclear expansion in China, Iran to peddle oil projects, politics and climate change in the US, wind power in Europe and five amazing environmental scientists. And immediately following, two conflicting stories that highlight the difficulties of making sense of oil production statistics that are constantly being revised.
Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Oil Production Vital Statistics July 2015

The US oil directed rig count was up 31 for the month of July and WTI is down about $11 for the month at time of writing. Global total liquids production was up 540,000 bpd in June. The production momentum built in recent years is proving very difficult to switch off. Amongst other things, an inventory of over a thousand wells drilled but uncompleted in the US shale oil patch will continue to be switched on for several months to come. The IEA sees global oil stocks rising at 3.3 Mbpd in 2Q 2015, that is close to 100 Mbbls per month.

  • World total liquids production up 540,000 bpd to 96.64 Mbpd. The recent trend remains sharply upwards.
  • OPEC production up 340,000 bpd to 31.71 mbpd (C+C)
  • N America production up 50,000 bpd to 19.66 Mbpd.
  • Russia and FSU down 60,000 bpd to 13.98 Mbpd
  • Europe up 140,000 bpd to 3.26 Mbpd (compared with June 2014)
  • Asia up 110,000 bpd to 8.20 Mbpd.
  • Middle East rig count is stable. The international oil rig count continues to decline while the US oil rig count is rising slowly.

Figure 1 The oil directed US rig count has turned a corner and has begun to rise slowly for the time being. The low point was 628 on 26th June and the latest was 659 on 24th July, up 31 for the month. This is bearish for the oil price and the survival of US shale oil companies. The gas directed rig count has been stable at 220±10 since the end of March (4 months).

The June 2015 Vital Statistics are here. EIA oil price and Baker Hughes rig count charts are updated to end July 2015, the remaining oil production charts are updated to June 2015 using the IEA OMR data.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Decarbonizing UK Electricity Generation – Five Options That Will Work

At the end of my recent post on the National Grid’s energy future scenarios I mentioned that I was working on a plan for decarbonizing the UK electricity sector that works in practice and which gets the UK least some way down the road towards an increasingly elusive green energy future. The work is now complete, and here I present five future energy options that employ nuclear, gas and variable amounts of wind to achieve large reductions in CO2 emissions while at the same time meeting UK demand in a typical winter month.

Assumptions:

The options are designed to meet hourly electricity demand in February 20XX, where XX is an unspecified year in the future. Basic assumptions are:

  • Demand in February 20XX is the same as it was in February 2013. (The February 2013 generation data are from Gridwatch.)
  • Wind conditions in February 20XX are the same as they were in February 2013, allowing hourly wind generation in February 20XX to be estimated by factoring February 2013 wind generation.
  • Hydro and “other” generation is the same as it was in February 2013.
  • 20GW of the 28GW of the nuclear capacity currently in operation, planned or being considered will be on line in 20XX. Operating at a capacity factor of 90% this delivers a constant 18GW of baseload power.
  • Gas-fired capacity remains substantially the same as it is now.
  • All existing coal-fired capacity is decommissioned.
  • In February 20XX there will be no significant amount of electricity available from imports, CCS, biomass, biogas or solar and no significant amount of energy storage capacity.

Generation mixes for the five options are quantified as follows:

  • Nuclear plus hydro/other generation is the same for all options.
  • Wind generation is progressively increased.
  • Wind generation is added to nuclear plus hydro/other generation. If the sum exceeds hourly demand the surplus wind generation is curtailed. Shortfalls are filled with load-following gas and “peaking” generation.

Installed wind capacity increases from 10GW in Option 1 to 20GW in Option 2, to 50GW in Option 3, to 100GW in Option 4 and to 200GW in Option 5 assuming a capacity factor of 20%. Increasing wind capacity does not lower the requirement for gas capacity because peak load for gas is about the same in all five options.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 72 Comments