Author Archives: Roger Andrews

Blowout Week 160

This week we feature the inauguration of President Donald Trump and what it portends for US (and World) energy policy. After some confusing recent announcements Trump seems to have reverted to form. We continue with, oil production up in Libya and down in China, UK “last hope” for fracking in Europe, nuclear shutdown in New York, California nuclear shutdowns frustrate renewable energy goals, Russia lends $11 billion to Bangladesh to build nuclear plant, Ontario’s failed coal closure initiative, Wyoming to ban utility-scale renewables, Saudi Arabia to become a renewable energy powerhouse, 790GW of untapped wind & solar in SE Europe, Germany can’t admit Energiewende blunder, Scotland targets 66% emissions cut in 15 years, Ikea refuses to invest in more renewables in UK, UK wave power “far too costly”, energy bills and the plight of UK pensioners, too much sun in Yorkshire, the Paris Agreement to cost $100 trillion and reduce warming by only 0.3C and a hydrogen-powered boat plans to circumnavigate the globe. Continue reading

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The gulf between the Paris Climate Agreement and energy projections

According to the Paris Climate Agreement a rapid decrease in the world’s consumption of fossil fuels is now mandatory if the Earth is to be saved from climate disaster. Projections of future energy use, however, are unanimous in predicting an increase in the world’s consumption of fossil fuels in coming decades. Either the energy consumption projections are wrong or the Paris goal is unachievable. This post reviews the basic provisions of the Paris Agreement, compares them with six independent estimates of future energy consumption and concludes that while the energy consumption estimates are subject to uncertainty the goals of the Paris Agreement are indeed unachievable. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 159

This week’s lead story features Germany’ faltering Energiewende. We continue with OPEC, Iran, Venezuela, more US oil & gas jobs, Rex Tillerson on Paris and subsidies, Norway to increase oil production, Bradwell approval process begins, clean coal in the US, wind in Austria, hydrogen in Australia, nuclear waste in Spain, Fluor’s small nuclear reactor, EC approves Areva restructuring, UAE to go big on renewables, clean energy funding decreases in 2016, Chernobyl goes solar, solar-powered trains in UK, Swansea Bay tidal recommended for go-ahead, National Grid escapes a breakup and what happens when you crash an F-4 Phantom jet into a reinforced concrete wall. Continue reading

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Can Hawaii go 100% Renewable?

Hawaii’s Renewables Portfolio Standard commits it to obtaining 100% of its energy from renewables by 2045, and Hawaii proposes to do this by wholesale replacement of fossil fuel generation with solar. This approach is theoretically possible, but only if there is enough energy storage (approximately 10GWh) to match day-night solar fluctuations of over 3GW to a substantially flat ~800MW load curve and if grid stability can be mantained with dominant solar generation. The Renewables Portfolio Standard also covers only electricity generation, which presently supplies only about a third of Hawaii’s energy needs, so even if it’s met Hawaii will still fall well short of its 100% renewable energy target. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 158

The signatories to the the Paris Climate Agreement, who include just about every country in the world, agree that the world must cut its fossil fuel emissions drastically if global climate catastrophe is to be avoided. Yet according to Exxon’s just-released Energy Outlook (the IEA and EIA outlooks are similar) the world will be burning more fossil fuels in 2040 than it is now. Does this mean that the world is doomed? Or is somebody missing something?

We continue with stories on the fallout from OPEC’s production cut, followed by nuclear in the US, France, Sweden and China, coal in China and Australia, renewables in China, Europe, and Germany, recent events in UK, roads that recharge EVs in Israel, 2016 ties 1998 for the warmest year on record in the lower troposphere and India solves the carbon capture and storage problem.
Continue reading

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El Hierro end 2016 performance update

Because of generally low wind strengths the Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved only 28.2% renewables generation in November and December 2016. Percent total renewables generation since full operations began in June 2015 stands at 37.7% at the end of 2016, down slightly from 38.7% at the end of October 2016. Renewables generation for the calendar year 2016 was 41.1%. Minor improvements are apparently being made in wind turbine performance but hydro generation remains negligible overall. Data on GdV plant layout, operation and capacities are given in the September 2015 review. Previous posts on GdV are accessible through the El Hierro portal. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 157 – New Year’s Edition

We kick of this week with a look at EU gas imports from Russia. And then follow with Russians hack into a Vermont utility; Toshiba’s nuclear business in trouble; nuclear power in Iran, Switzerland and South Africa; uranium in the US and Spain; Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage; coal in China and India; the Energiewende and the “Trump Effect”; Hawaii accelerates drive for 100% renewables; renewables records fall in Europe; Drax secures its future; post-Brexit investment surge in UK; Scotland’s renewable targets; electric vehicle costs; Swansea Bay tidal project adrift; climate change and Arctic warmth; more blackouts in South Australia and climate skeptics hoping to come in from the cold. Continue reading

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Latest El Hierro reservoir images

Rainer Strassburger is back on El Hierro and has downloaded more Gorona del Viento reservoir images on his Cloud site, which is now accessible via the El Hierro portal . Here we take a quick pictorial look at what has changed since he took his last photographs in April. The main changes are a) two flexible pipelines are now delivering water to the Upper Reservoir from the island pipeline network and b) three long graduated poles presumably intended to measure water levels have been installed in the Upper Reservoir, suggesting that GdV may finally be planning to fill it. Otherwise GdV has continued to work with the ~100,000 cu m of water that the reservoirs contained in April. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 156 – Christmas Eve

This week it’s back to OPEC, which recently agreed to cut its output by 1.2 million bpd in an attempt to increase oil prices supplemented by an additional 0.5 million bpd from Russia + other non-OPEC producers. What does this portend for the oil market? Industry opinion is unanimous. No one knows: Continue reading

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The Bingham Canyon pumped hydro project – by far the world’s largest, but still much too small.

Some of the larger-scale options (pumped hydro, CAES, FLES etc.) presently being considered for storing intermittent renewable energy rely on the existence of holes in the ground, often man-made ones, to make them work. In this post I take as a hypothetical example the world’s biggest man-made hole (the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, Utah, shown as viewed from space in the inset) and fill it with water from the Great Salt Lake 25km to the north to get an idea of how much untapped hydro storage potential Bingham and other holes like it might offer. I find that Bingham has the potential to store about 3TWh, which would make it by far the largest pumped hydro facility in the world. 3TWh of storage, however, is nowhere near enough to support an all-renewables world, and there just aren’t that many more big man-made holes like Bingham around. Continue reading

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Blowout week 155

This week we kick off with the good news that the Antarctic sea ice area has changed little since the time of Scott and Shackelton. All those who have feared for the worse can breathe a huge sigh of relief. We … Continue reading

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Solar power on the island of Ta’u, a preliminary appraisal

A 1,400kW(p) solar PV array backed up by 6,000kWh of battery storage and a smart grid has been installed on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. It’s widely reported that this system already allows Ta’u to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources for 100% of the time, and this brief review suggests that it will in fact be capable of delivering 100% electricity for almost 100% of the time if and when it reaches full operation. Continue reading

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UK Electricity Part 3: Wind and Solar

Part 1 of the series on 2050 electricity demand provided a “high electrification” scenario where the average electricity demand was approximately 72GW, but peak demand on exceptionally cold days could reach 121GW.

Part 2 described how this demand could be fulfilled with a nuclear supply model. In Part 3 we have used the same demand model to show how this could be substantially fulfilled with wind and solar power; though relying on significant amounts of storage to match supply and demand, and gas (or biofuel) capacity to operate when storage is insufficient. A number of different scenarios are explored, with the preferred scenario laid out below, adjacent to the nuclear scenario for comparison. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 152

This week we begin with Trump’ plans for Nigel Farage and continue with the Obama administration’s rush to push more regulations through, Saudis pull out of oil talks with Russia, oil potential in Mexico, pipeline gridlock in Canada, Gazprom pushes ahead with Nord Stream, Swiss to vote on nuclear phaseout, gas to ride to the rescue in France, Canada to phase out coal, snow, coal and gas in Tokyo and Beijing, the Torness nuclear outage, EU to challenge capacity markets, more UK funding for EVs, protected European forests being felled for biomass, Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic ice, how cement absorbs carbon (which is not the enemy) and the Pacific island of Ta’u, now 100% powered by solar. Continue reading

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The European Blackout Risk

At 2000 hours Central European Time on February 8, 2012 combined electricity demand in the UK, France and Germany peaked at a historic high of 231GW during a winter cold snap. This caused no serious problems at the time, but the UK, France and Germany could have a combined total of as little as 210GW of capacity on-line this winter, and if another 231GW demand peak coincides with 210GW of available capacity, demand management will undoubtedly come into effect somewhere. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 151

We begin with the Wolfcamp shale oil play in Texas and continue with the requisite dose of Trump articles, following up with Obama’s ban on Arctic drilling, Russia makes $6 billion simply by talking to OPEC, the North Sea O&G industry pleads for support, fossil fuel era “far from over”, Vietnam cans a nuclear plant, the Chernobyl Arch is moving, Asia to underpin coal demand, France to shut down coal, the Marrakech Climate Conference, global CO2 emissions not growing, vegetation slows atmospheric CO2 increase, the EU to introduce capacity mechanisms, the UK’s carbon price floor, tidal power generation in Scotland, the renewables threat to grid stability, large wind farms reduce wind speeds, a hot North Pole and a cold Siberia, UK research institute accused of misconduct and fraud, lithium from geothermal brines and what Donald Trump thinks of Scotland. Continue reading

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France’s nuclear “crisis” and UK energy security

France’s electricity generation since June has been running 5-10GW below normal because of nuclear plants being shut down for inspection. France has made up this shortfall by reducing electricity exports – generation from oil, coal, gas, hydro and renewables has stayed about the same. Exports to UK have decreased to the point where overall the UK now exports more power to France than it imports. The exports, however , occur dominantly during periods of low UK demand. The UK still imports up to 2GW of power from France during peak periods, although it’s unlikely that it would be able to do so should there be a protracted cold spell in Europe this winter. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 150

Trump special blowout includes reactions to the Trump triumph at the polls, dismay on the part of the greens and the climate science establishment, warnings from foreign governments (except Russia, which likes Trump), predicted impacts on the energy industry, the possible demise of the Paris Climate Accord, a remarkably upbeat Al Gore and a classic example from the Independent of a projection gone awry. Following Trump we have an abbreviated mix of stories, including a $6 billion gas deal in Iran, CCS in the UAE, Scotland and Brexit, the French nuclear crunch, NatGrid says no blackouts this winter and Ed Davey falls foul of the Freedom of Information Act. Continue reading

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Death and Climate Change

According to various studies and numerous web postings climate change is already causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and will cause millions more in the future, dominantly in poor countries. In this post we take a brief look at how these estimates were arrived at and whether they have any firm observational or statistical backup. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 149

Blowout begins with EU proposals to cancel the renewables merit order after 2020 and follows on with the ratification of the Paris Accord and its dismal prospects of success, the Saudi-Iran oil production cut squabble, oil & gas jobs on the point of recovery, the recent North Sea oil & gas leasing round, fracking bans, nuclear in US being replaced with gas and coal, French nuclear plant outages, China still building two coal plants a week, Finland to ban coal by 2030 while the EU finances new coal plants in Greece, EU to bolster its failing Emissions Trading System, the UK’s failing solar industry and how it was not to blame for the renewables overspend, whether Whitehall is deliberately sabotaging Scottish renewables and NatGrid plays fast and loose with public money. Continue reading

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