Monthly Archives: July 2016

Blowout Week 135

This weeks’s blowout looks into global oil storage capacity, Middle East nuclear power, offshore wind cheaper than nuclear, US heat wave, Poland, coal and Germany, human rights, Brexit and climate change. Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

The Hinkley Point C Pantomime

The board of EDF, the French State controlled owner of UK and French power stations and vendor of the new Gen 3 EPR (European Pressurised Water Reactor) voted narrowly to approve the Hinkley C reactor project on Thursday (by 10 votes to 7). Contracts were supposed to be signed today (Friday). But then in an unexpected move the UK Government has called the project in for re-evaluation. Clearly, they did not expect the French to proceed. What on Earth is going on? Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 116 Comments

How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant?

Cost and time overruns of the Areva EPR reactors at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France are seldom out of the energy news. Olkiluoto began construction in 2005 with planned grid connection in 2010. The original build cost of €3billion has risen to €8.5 billion. And the grid connection has been pushed out to 2018 – 8 years late (13 years construction time) and €5.5 billion over budget.

So how long should it take to build a nuclear reactor? 5, 10 or 15 years? The answers are below the fold. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 66 Comments

The Eigg renewables project revisited

Among the claimants for the title of “world leader” in renewables development in remote areas the island of Eigg (population 90) off the west coast of Scotland, which since 2008 has been obtaining over 80% of its electricity from a custom-designed hybrid system, probably has the best claim. This post reviews operating data that have become available since I posted Eigg, a model for a sustainable energy future in September 2014. It concludes a) that while the project has delivered good results it is inefficient (overall capacity factor 11%), b) that Eigg will probably never be able to do away entirely with diesel backup and c) that the project owes its existence to the fact that 94% of the capital cost was financed by grants. It is economically unviable on a stand-alone basis. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 48 Comments

Blowout Week 134

This week we feature the forthcoming US elections, in particular the Republican and Democratic Platforms on energy and climate change. It’s difficult to conceive of such diametrically opposed positions. If Clinton wins the US will continue with Obama’s pro-renewable policies, but a Trump victory could well put paid to the world’s vision of a renewable energy future. Or could it?

The Democrats: “Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.”

The Republicans: “would end limits to CO2 emissions, pull the US out of the United Nations climate process, open protected forests to logging and end all subsidies to renewable energy.” Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Global Nuclear Power Snapshot

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) has an informative web site with a mine of data that I’ve wanted to extract for some time. This is a first pass to try and capture some of the headlines which are: deployment of nuclear power has in the past depended upon a combination of three factors 1) the size and level of technology development of any country (the leading producers in 2015 were the USA, France, Russia and China) 2) the desire to acquire nuclear weapons that may be linked to large advanced countries wanting to defend themselves and 3) a shortage of fossil fuels (France, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia etc. have the greatest penetration of nuclear in power generation). Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 51 Comments

Climate science and the UK Climate Change Act

The Climate Change Act of 2008 is, supposedly, underpinned by the findings of climate science, and riding herd on these findings is the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which reviews the state of climate science whenever a new carbon budget is published to see whether any significant changes have occurred. Here we briefly review the CCC’s latest assessment, which accompanies the fifth carbon budget. We find that few if any of the CCC’s conclusions are backed up by hard evidence and that some of them are the opposite of the truth. Yet they still underpin the Climate Change Act, which continues to govern the UK’s long-term energy policy. Continue reading

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

Blowout Week 133

This week’s Blowout features the demise of the DECC and its amalgamation into the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Does this signal a sea change in UK government energy policy, or is it business-as-usual under a new banner?

Following up are stories on the reactions of the greens to the disappearance of the DECC and on what Theresa May thinks about climate change. (It seems that she has never established a position; her few recorded utterances are heavy into energy security but say nothing about climate change per se.)
Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Can the UK meet the fifth carbon budget?

The UK’s fifth carbon budget calls for a 57% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2028-2032. This post evaluates whether this goal is achievable and concludes that at best it will be difficult to meet. It also reviews the reasons behind the UK’s apparent success in reducing its GHG emissions (down by 36% in 2014 relative to 1990) and concludes that this reduction is largely a result of market forces and that renewable energy has played only a minor part. The post also highlights the fact that only about a quarter of UK GHG emissions come from the electricity sector, meaning that success can be achieved only by reducing emissions from the other energy-consuming sectors, which is a much tougher proposition. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

The Peak Oil Paradox

Back in the mid-noughties the peak oil meme gained significant traction in part due to The Oil Drum blog where I played a prominent role. Sharply rising oil price, OPEC spare capacity falling below 2 Mbpd and the decline of the North Sea were definite signs of scarcity and many believed that peak oil was at hand and the world as we knew it was about to end. And yet between 2008, when the oil price peaked, and 2015, global crude+condensate+NGL production has risen by 8.85 Mbpd to 91.67 Mbpd. Peak oilers need to admit they were wrong then. Or were they? Continue reading

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

El Hierro completes a year of full operation

At the end of June the Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant completed its first year of full operation, during which it supplied 34.6% of El Hierro’s electricity demand with renewable electricity at a cost probably exceeding €1.00/kWh while lowering the island’s CO2 emissions by approximately 12,000 tons at a cost of around €1,000/ton. This post summarizes these unexpectedly poor results, discusses the reasons for them and concludes that GdV, which was intended to show the world how fossil fuel generation can readily be replaced with intermittent renewables, can already be classified as a “failed project”. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 157 Comments

Blowout Week 132

In 2007, Alex Salmond rejected any new nuclear Scottish power stations. Policies based on fear, rather than facts, may feel good, but they increase the overall risk by not educating the public. Successful democracy requires people understand the decisions they make; otherwise it becomes a loose cannon, with decisions based on slogans. Accidents, when amplified by the media, induce fear far beyond realistic risk. At Fukushima none died from radiation exposure. At Chernobyl only 46 died as a result of radiation damage, an accident caused by faulty safety design and irresponsible neglect of safety procedures. In Hamburg in 2011, 54 died from eating organic beansprouts and 3,500 experienced kidney damage. Continue reading

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

Oil Production Vital Statistics June 2016

The big news in May’s production figures is Canada down 620,000 bpd in the wake of the Fort McMurray wild fire, Nigeria down 250,000 bpd in the wake of civil unrest on the Niger Delta and Libya down 80,000 bpd as that country disintegrates in the wake of western intervention in its civil war.

Global total liquids production was down 760,000 bpd in May and while the oil price was perky, getting above $50 in early June, it has not really responded to any of those events. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

High Altitude Wind Power Reviewed

This post reviews the weird and wonderful world of high altitude wind power. It looks into the reasons for wanting to go high, explains tethered flight and explores the main competing technologies of 1) airborne generation (Google Makani) and 2) ground based generation (KiteGen) and compares their strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , | 186 Comments

Blowout Week 131

Roger Andrews, a UK national by birth now living in Mexico provides the Energy Matters’ view on Brexit, energy matters, climate change and global politics. 75 years experience analysing complex data impartially does count! Continue reading

Posted in Blowout | Tagged , , , , , , , | 45 Comments