Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Failure of Green Energy Policies

It is important to recall that well over $1,700,000,000,000 ($1.7 trillion) has been spent on installing wind and solar devices in recent years with the sole objective of reducing global CO2 emissions. It transpires that since 1995 low carbon energy sources (nuclear, hydro and other renewables) share of global energy consumption has not changed at all (Figure 1). Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 132 Comments

Oil and Coal: trends in global energy substitution

The percentage contributions of oil and coal tend to move in opposite directions. Coal goes down, oil goes up. Oil goes down, coal goes up. Oil goes flat, so does coal. But neither oil nor coal show a clear overall relationship with the third major source of energy, natural gas. The suggestion is that oil and coal have been substituting for each other, with coal replacing oil or oil replacing coal depending presumably on market conditions at the time, but with gas remaining largely unaffected. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

Drilling Deeper – A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom

There is a lot of red ink, but no problem here that European natural gas prices coming to America cannot solve. The big question is whether or not the US economy is sufficiently robust to withstand sharply higher primary energy costs that Europeans, Japanese and S Koreans have lived with for many years. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

Blowout week 43

We lead off this week with the Didcot B power plant fire and its potential impact on UK electricity supply: Penn Energy:  Half of Didcot B shut down indefinitely The blaze, which began in one of the station’s cooling towers … Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | 14 Comments

Ed Davey, UK Energy Security and the US Chamber of Commerce

Two related articles appeared in Blowout Week last Sunday. In the first the Daily Express fulminated about how the UK government’s energy policies will send electricity bills skyrocketing and maybe snuff the lights out at the same time: The green … Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | 22 Comments

Oil, economic growth and recessions revisited

Here I re-tread a well-trodden path, but with recent events in the oil market I thought a brief recap might be timely. I begin with a photographic illustration of a typical US demand response to the tripling of oil prices that … Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Blowout week 42

(Euan is taking a break this week. It’s also his birthday today, so Happy Birthday, Euan.) Interest this week focuses on the budding oil price war between the US and Saudi Arabia, so we lead off with this story: Marketwatch:  … Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | 12 Comments

Keeping the Lights On

I was invited to attend the annual “Global Warming Policy Foundation’s” annual lecture delivered by The Rt Honorable Owen Paterson MP on the evening of Wednesday 15th October and decided to blow last Monday’s donations on a trip to London … Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Drowning in oil again

For 4 years now the oil price (Brent) has been range bound between $90 and $130 per barrel (Figure 2). This is where it settled after the convulsions of the $148 per barrel peak in 2008 followed by the financial crash. Recently it has dipped below the $90 mark and looks set to break even lower. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

The terrestrial biosphere – a growing carbon sink

Over the course of time CO2 emitted to the atmosphere is sequestered in carbon sinks. There are two places it can go:
* Into the ocean sink, or
* Into the terrestrial biosphere sink (vegetation, soils etc.)
How much goes into each? Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Blowout week 41

Are lower oil prices a good thing? The answer depends on who you are. If you are a consumer the answer is clearly yes (or is it?). If you are one of the new global dictators planning the world economy from the IMF or World Bank then you too will be pleased since lower oil prices should help stimulate global growth. But if you are an oil producer with expensive production then the answer is probably no since lower oil prices may herald losses, decreased investment and lower future supply. Continue reading

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The Carbon Cycle: a geologist’s view

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution a total of 240GtC from human emissions have accumulated in the atmosphere while a similar amount has been sequestered by the non-permanent reservoirs of the deep ocean and terrestrial biomass, soils and biodetritus. What will be the fate of the emissions C in these non-permanent reservoirs and of that which remains in the atmosphere? Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Cycling Coal to Balance Electricity Grids

And so the question is if a coal fired power station is “switched off” when demand for coal fired electricity goes down are the furnaces extinguished thus eliminating CO2 emissions or are they kept burning, perhaps at reduced levels?

I have always felt the best way to tackle both emissions and energy scarcity was to improve energy efficiency at every level of society. The current strategy appears to be taking us in the opposite direction. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Electricity supply, electricity demand and 100% renewables

Here we will examine a hypothetical scenario involving a diversified mix of renewable energy sources that supplies 100% of electricity consumption in unspecified future year 20XX in Atlantis, an imaginary island country that is very much like, but not exactly the same as, the UK. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 51 Comments

Blowout week 40

I lead off this week with the exciting story of the world’s first large scale commercial CCS project in Canada. Published in on a Norwegian website the author observes that the project went from conception to completion in only 5 years and that there are lessons to be learned. It’s not that hard to work out. The boundary Dam project is linked to CO2 enhanced oil recovery which will make the owners money. Continue reading

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UK Wind Power in The Doldrums

The lack of wind in the UK this year has already been in the news resulting in poor performance of UK wind farms. UK wind now has 11.2 GW [1] of installed capacity amounting to 13.5% of total generating capacity in the UK. In September the wind park generated 739 GWh amounting to 3.3% of UK demand [2]. The load factor was only 9%. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 44 Comments

Sequestration of ocean surface water by the Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream transports nearly four billion cubic feet of water per second, an amount greater than that carried by all of the world’s rivers combined. That is one BIG number. The calculation below the fold suggests that the Gulf Stream sequesters the equivalent of the surface waters (333m layer) of the whole Atlantic Ocean once every decade. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , , | 79 Comments