Blowout Week 100

This week: the UN’s disaster scenarios, stalling global CO2 emissions growth, declining public support for climate action, OPEC to hold the line, Iran’s oil contracts, US oil reserves highest in 42 years, Russia’s escalating standoffs with Ukraine and Turkey, nuclear closures in France, grid reliability  in Australia, mini-nukes in UK, supercritical coal in India, Abengoa files for insolvency, CO2-absorbing bubble baths, exploding plankton populations and how climate change caused Hitler.

We lead with the UN, which is really laying it on thick in advance of the Paris Climate Conference:

UN:  UN agencies weigh in on climate change impacts ahead of Paris conference

In the weeks leading up to the United Nations climate change conference, which begins in Paris on Monday

and aims to reach a new universal climate agreement, many of the Organization’s agencies and programmes announced their latest climate-related findings, bringing to light new data, major concerns, and underlining existing and potential opportunities to preserve the planet.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached yet another new record high in 2014, continuing a “relentless rise” which is fueling climate change and will make the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations. Just days later, the agency shared more “bad news for the planet,” warning that 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record, breaching the symbolic and significant milestone of 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era. In addition, data from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) revealed that over the last 20 years, 90 per cent of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events. Echoing this message was the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which underlined that natural disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity. Raising awareness on groups most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said youngsters will bear the brunt. Recalling that indigenous peoples own, occupy or manage up to 65 per cent of the Earth’s land surface – and that their voices must be heard in Paris – the UN Development Programme (UNDP) expressed significant concern regarding the exclusion of their issues from national plans to combat climate change.

UN:  UN report finds 90 per cent of disasters are weather-related

A new report issued today by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) shows that over the last 20 years, 90 per cent of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events. “Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost,” said Ms. Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, in a press release. The report and analysis compiled by UNISDR and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters. The report also highlights data gaps, noting that economic losses from weather-related disasters are much higher than the recorded figure of $1.891 trillion, which accounts for 71 per cent of all losses attributed to natural hazards over the twenty-year period. UNISDR estimates that the true figure on disaster losses – including earthquakes and tsunamis – is between $250 billion and $300 billion annually. “In the long term, an agreement in Paris at COP21 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a significant contribution to reducing damage and loss from disasters which are partly driven by a warming globe and rising sea levels,” Ms. Wahlström explained.

Reuters:  Extreme weather poses growing threat to food security – UN’s FAO

Drought, floods and other extremes of weather have become more frequent and severe in the past 30 years and pose a rising threat to food security in developing countries, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. Natural disasters caused worldwide dam-age worth $1.5 trillion, more than the annual GDP of Australia, between 2003 and 2013 and hit agriculture hard, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report. It said they were occurring almost twice as often as in the 1980s, hampering efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty. Ahead of next week’s U.N. climate conference in Paris, where almost 200 countries will try to agree measures to limit climate change, the FAO called for more investment in disaster response and recovery, and in adaptation to climate change, to make the farming sector more resilient. “This year alone, small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and foresters – from Myanmar to Guatemala and from Vanuatu to Malawi – have seen their livelihoods eroded or erased by cyclones, droughts, floods and earthquakes,” FAO Director General Graziano Da Silva wrote in the report.

Wall Street Journal:  Your complete guide to the climate change debate

In February President Obama said, a little carelessly, that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Next week he will be in Paris, a city terrorized yet again by mass murderers, for a summit with other world leaders on climate change, not terrorism. What precisely makes these world leaders so convinced that climate change is a more urgent and massive threat than the incessant rampages of Islamist violence? It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global-warming scare began in earnest. Nor can it be the consequences of this recent slight temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise—about a foot a century—with no sign of recent acceleration.

Scientific American:  Climate Change Will Not Be Dangerous for a Long Time

The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time.This “lukewarm” option has been boosted by recent climate research, and if it is right, current policies may do more harm than good. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other bodies agree that the rush to grow biofuels, justified as a decarbonization measure, has raised food prices and contributed to rainforest destruction. Since 2013 aid agencies such as the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have restricted funding for building fossil-fuel plants in Asia and Africa; that has slowed progress in bringing electricity to the one billion people who live without it and the four million who die each year from the effects of cooking over wood fires.

Cleantechnica:  CO2 Emissions Growth Almost Stalled In 2014

A new report published by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) showed that not only did global CO2 emissions growth slow to only 0.5% in 2014 compared to the year previous, but that the world’s economy grew 3% during the same period, showing again the partial decoupling we have been seeing over the past 18 months of emissions and economic growth. This continues the trend we have seen over the past few years, and the report notes that it follows on from a decade of annual increases of 4%, followed by two years (2012 and 2013) of slowing to about 1% growth. This compares well with the global average growth rate over the 1980-2002 period of 1.2%. Unsurprisingly, when looking at individual players, China and the US both saw their emissions increase by 0.9%, and India’s emissions grew by 7.8%. At the same time, however, the European Union saw “unprecedented” decrease in emissions of 5.4%. These four “countries” accounted for 61% of total global emissions, and were the top four emitters as well (China, 30%; the United States, 15%; the European Union, 10%; and India, 6.5%).

BBC:  Public support for tough climate deal declines

Public support for a strong global deal on climate change has declined, according to a poll carried out in 20 countries. Only four now have majorities in favour of their governments setting ambitious targets at a global conference in Paris. In a similar poll before the Copenhagen meeting in 2009, eight countries had majorities favouring tough action. The poll has been provided to the BBC by research group GlobeScan. Just under half of all those surveyed viewed climate change as a “very serious” problem this year, compared with 63% in 2009. The findings will make sober reading for global political leaders, who will gather in Paris next week for the start of the United Nations climate conference, known as COP21.

The Week:  Oil price: UK sector braced for ‘wave of failures’

The oil price crash has devastated the finances of companies operating in the North Sea and dramatically reduced their contribution to the UK economy. According to figures in the Autumn Statement, released by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the tax take from the UK oil sector – on which an independent Scotland’s budget was at one time projected to be balanced ¬– was £2.2bn last year but will slump to £130m this year. The Daily Telegraph points out that the oil sector provided tax revenues of £11bn as recently as four years ago. International benchmark Brent crude, which relates to prices paid for oil produced in the North Sea, was around $115 a barrel in the summer of 2014 but has now fallen to a figure that’s stubbornly below $50 a barrel. This is the level at which production on average is deemed to break even. Yesterday the oil price drifted down again and it is now hovering around $45 a barrel, after the US reported another increase in its stockpile of one million barrels to its highest levels in eight decades. As further evidence of unrelenting oversupply in the market, this might have prompted a more severe slide were it not for the fact that traders are optimistic about a meeting of the 13-nation Opec cartel next week amid hints that it may reverse its high production policy. MarketWatch says, however, that “the market holds conflicting views on what the bloc will do”.

Economic Times India:  OPEC to stay the course despite fears of $20 oil

OPEC is determined to keep pumping oil vigorously despite the resulting financial strain even on the policy’s chief architect, Saudi Arabia, alarming weaker members who fear prices may slump further towards $20. Any policy U-turn would be possible only if large producers outside the exporters’ group, notably Russia, were to join coordinated output cuts. While Moscow may consult OPEC oil ministers before their six-monthly meeting next week, the chances of it helping to halt the price slide remain slim. “Unless non-OPEC say they are willing to help, I think there will be no change,” said a delegate from a major OPEC producer. “OPEC will not cut alone.”

Business Insider:  Oil rig count falls again

The US oil rig count fell by 9 to 555 this week, according to driller Baker Hughes. The tally is at the lowest level since the week of June 4, 2010. The gas rig count fell by 4, bringing the total to 744. Last week, the oil rig count fell by 10, while the gas rig count was unchanged. After Wednesday’s rig count data, West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York were down by less than 1%, near $42.83 per barrel.

Financial Times:  Iran set to reveal framework for oil and gas contracts

Iran is set to reveal the framework of oil and gas contracts to lure back international oil companies on Saturday. It is expected to offer more flexible terms on oil price fluctuations and investment risks to make the sector more financially attractive. During the two-day Tehran Conference, oil executives from European and Asian companies including France’s Total Group, Norway’s Statoil, BP, Shell, Repsol, China’s Sinopec as well as companies from India, Pakistan and Oman, will hear about the details of the new scheme. There was also an energy adviser from the UK government, according to a western diplomat. The Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) officially puts an end to about two decades of a buyback system that prevented foreign companies from booking reserves or taking equity stakes in Iranian companies. Under some circumstances, the new model allows reserves to be booked, but foreign companies would still not own oilfields. “We do not claim that this is an ideal and flawless scheme but it can address the needs of both National Iranian Oil Company and international oil companies,” Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, said. The Islamic republic, which has the world’s largest gas reserves and fourth-biggest oil reserves, plans to increase its oil production capacity to about 5m barrels a day by the end of the decade from about 1mb/d since sanctions were introduced in 2012.

BBC:  Oil and gas companies ‘risk losing $2 trillion’

The world’s biggest oil and gas companies risk losing $2.2tn (£1.5tn) by overestimating future demand for fossil fuels, a report suggests. By underestimating both legislation to cut the use of dirty fuels and the development of clean energy, these firms are investing in assets that may prove worthless, says Carbon Tracker. Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP are among those most a risk, it says. The report comes on the eve of the Paris climate change summit. “If the industry misreads future demand by underestimating technology and policy advances, this can lead to an excess of supply and create stranded assets,” says the report by the green think tank. “This is where shareholders should be concerned – if companies are committing to future production which may never generate the returns expected.”

Daily Caller:  U.S. Oil Reserves Hit Levels Not Seen In 42 Years

U.S. proved crude oil reserves hit levels not seen since 1972, surpassing 39 billion barrels in 2014, according to newly released federal data. America’s proved crude oil reserves have grown for the past six consecutive years, according to the Energy Information Administration, and are now at levels not seen in 42 years. Crude reserves jumped 3.4 billion barrels from 2013 to 2014 – a 9 percent increase. “Texas added 2.1 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves… mostly located within the Texas portion of the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale play,” EIA reported Monday, adding that “North Dakota added 0.4 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves… mostly from the Bakken Shale play.” Lease condensate proved reserves are produced when oil is extracted. Low oil prices have hampered producers in the last year, forcing them to cut jobs and investments to stay afloat. But the technology used to get at U.S. oil reserves is still there, and it keeps getting better all the time.

Reuters:  Russia-Ukraine row over Crimea escalates as Moscow cuts coal to Kiev

Russia has begun to restrict coal supplies to Ukraine, Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn told parliament on Friday, days after the Kremlin threatened to punish Kiev for a power blackout of Russian-annexed Crimea. Demchyshyn said pro-Russian separatists who control coal mines in eastern Ukraine had also halted coal supplies. He said Kiev had one month of its own coal supplies left and was seeking alternative supplies from South Africa. “Coal supplies have been restricted from uncontrolled territory (Donbass) and from Russia,” said Demchyshyn. “Right now our power stations have enough coal reserves in storage to last for at least one month. But in the long-term problematic questions will arise.” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that Russia might cut coal supplies to punish Ukraine for what he said was its deliberate refusal to help rebuild power lines to Crimea, which were blown up by unknown saboteurs. Minor repair work has been carried out on the sabotaged pylons and power lines in southern Ukraine which supply Crimea, but none of the four pylons which were destroyed are operational.

RT:  Ukraine nuclear power plants ‘dangerously’ without power as towers feeding energy to Crimea blown up

In an eerie reminder of a possible nuclear catastrophe, a senior Ukrainian energy official revealed that the attack on transmission towers that cut off the delivery of electricity from Ukraine to Crimea also created an emergency situation at nuclear power plants. The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich. Russia’s Crimea was forced to switch to autonomous reserve power after transmission towers in the adjacent Ukrainian region were blown up, causing a blackout. Meanwhile, the repairs were delayed by Right Sector and Crimean Tatar “activists” attempting to block crews from getting to the scene. None of the groups have accepted responsibility. “All of these events have led to an additional emergency shutdown of the electrical network of two units at thermal power plants – the Dnieper and Uglegorskaya – and the emergency unloading by 500 MW of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This includes Zaporozhskaya NPP and the South Ukrainian NPP. I want to stress that such emergency unloading of a nuclear plant – it is very dangerous,” 112. Ukraine online portal quoted Katich as saying.

BBC:  Ukraine closes airspace to all Russian planes

Ukraine has banned all Russian planes from using its airspace and exports of Russian gas to Ukraine have been halted by state-controlled giant Gazprom. The decision was announced by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at a televised government meeting. Gazprom said it had halted gas deliveries to Ukraine because it had used up all the gas it had paid for. But Ukraine said it had stopped buying from Gazprom because it could get cheaper gas from Europe. The airspace ban applies to military planes as well as civil airliners. “The Ukrainian government has decided to ban all transit flights for all Russian airlines in Ukraine’s airspace,” said Mr Yatsenyuk. “The government is instructing [aviation authority] Ukraerorukh, in line with the norms of international law, to inform the Russian Federation that Russian airlines and Russian aircraft do not have the right to use Ukraine’s airspace any longer.”

Reuters:  Putin ‘fully mobilized’ to tackle threat from Turkey

President Vladimir Putin is fully mobilized to tackle what the Kremlin regards as an unprecedented threat from Turkey following the shooting down of one of its warplanes by a Turkish F-16, the Russian leader’s spokesman said on Saturday. In comments which underscore how angry the Kremlin still is over the incident, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokes-man, called the behavior of the Turkish air force “absolute madness” and said Ankara’s subsequent handling of the crisis had reminded him of the “theater of the absurd.” Peskov said the crisis had prompted Putin, whose ministers are preparing retaliatory economic measures against Turkey, to “mobilize” in the way an army does in tense times. “The president is mobilized, fully mobilized, mobilized to the extent that circumstances demand,” said Peskov. “The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat.” President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will not apologize for downing the jet, but he said on Saturday that the incident had saddened him and that the climate change summit in Paris next week could be a chance to repair relations with Moscow.

Financial Times:  France’s nuclear industry on back foot over new energy law

Designed to shift France on to a greener footing ahead of next week’s climate change conference in Paris, the adoption of a new energy law has instead alarmed the country’s powerful nuclear industry and raised fundamental questions about the country’s energy mix. Under the controversial legislation parliamentarians agreed to drastically reduce the country’s output of nuclear energy from 75 per cent of the current total to 50 per cent by 2025. They also committed to sizeable increases in the use of renewable energy to make up for the shortfall in nuclear energy production and targeted a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But the commitment to cut the amount of nuclear power in the French energy mix over the next decade is creating a real headache for the government of President François Hollande, who agreed the exacting target as part of an alliance with the green party in the 2012 presidential election. According to some experts, France could have to close as many as two dozen nuclear reactors over the next decade to meet the target, costing billions, reducing capacity and almost certainly leading to higher electricity prices — which are currently among the lowest in Europe. “Meeting the 50 per cent target by 2025 will likely be hugely expensive,” says François Lévêque, economics professor at l’Ecole des Mines in Paris and author of The Economics and Uncertainties of Nuclear Power. “If power demand continues to decrease it could mean shutting down as many as a dozen profitable and safe reactors — it’s just money down the drain,” he says.

Guardian:  George Osborne puts UK at the heart of global race for mini-nuclear reactors

The chancellor, George Osborne, revealed on Wednesday that at least £250m will be spent by 2020 on an “ambitious” programme to “position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”. There will be a competition to identify the best value design of mini reactors – called small modular reactors (SMRs) – and paving the way “towards building one of the world’s first SMRs in the UK in the 2020s”. SMRs aim to capture the advantages of nuclear power – always-on, low-carbon energy – while avoiding the problems, principally the vast cost and time taken to build huge plants. Current plants, such as the planned French-Chinese Hinkley Point project in Somerset, have to be built on-site, a task likened to “building a cathedral within a cathedral”. Instead, SMRs, would be turned out by the dozen in a factory, then transported to sites and plugged in, making them – in theory – cheaper. Companies around the world, including in Russia, South Korea and Argentina, are now trying to turn that theory into practice and many are looking at the nuclear-friendly UK as the place to make it happen. SMRs are reactors that produce less than 300MW (0.3GW) of electricity, much smaller than the 1,000MW (1GW) of many existing nuclear plants. An additional advantage is that SMRs can vary their output quickly, meaning they could be used to balance intermittent wind and solar energy, unlike big nuclear plants.

PV Magazine:  German utilities demand financing assistance for nuclear exit

Germany’s four biggest utilities are calling for government assistance as they prepare to decommission the country’s last eight nuclear power plants. The big four – E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall – have asked the federal government to establish a final site to store nuclear waste and also to set up a public trust to secure funds for the process, according to Reuters. The utilities, which have set aside nearly €40 billion to shut down the plants, are also claiming billions of euros in compensation from the government for the decommissioning, which they describe as expropriation. Finding a safe storage site for nuclear waste remains a key issue. The government has yet to approve a final site for nuclear waste, which has led to growing uncertainty among the companies who fear they could get stuck with shuttered plants and mounting costs with nowhere to store the waste. Rolf Martin Schmitz, chief operating officer at RWE, said the companies needed “a solution with a sense of proportion that enables the nuclear exit to take place but at the same time gives the companies the chance to develop further. From our point of view, the trust is the best model.”

Australian:  Wind and solar ‘hits reliability of power grid’

In a major report yesterday on strategic priorities for the energy market, the Australian Energy Market Commission says the national electricity market is in a “disinvestment phase”, with 11 coal generators due to leave the industry between 2011 and 2023. Meanwhile, 35 per cent of South Australia’s electricity gener¬a¬tion in 2013-14 was from wind and, nationwide, 1.4 million households have rooftop solar panels. “With intermittent capacity in wind and solar making up a larger proportion of the energy mix, this may present a number of technical challenges going forward around managing power system security and reliability,” the report says. The report points to South Australia, where some of the state was plunged into blackouts this month when an incident at a substation owned by transmission provider ElectraNet affected supplies from Victoria via an interconnector. The rise of intermittent generation, especially in South Australia, had “potential implications for the efficient operation of the wholesale market”, the energy report¬ says. The comments come as the Energ¬y Supply Association of Australia warned yesterday that South Australia faced increased risks to reliability because it is at the “leading edge” of relying on intermittent renewable energy.

USA Today:  U.S. fails to harness hydro power potential

Hydroelectric plants represent an intriguing opportunity to generate more energy without in-creasing carbon output. In particular, there are a significant number of existing dams at rivers across the U.S. where hydroelectric power is not being used. The U.S. Department of Energy did a study suggesting that up to 12 gigawatts of additional power could be generated simply by taking advantage of these existing plants. Beyond that proverbial low hanging fruit, there is a significant amount of construction activity around building new dams and hydro plants; over 600 dams are currently under construction with several thousand more planned for the future. Most of these new hydro power plants are being built outside the U.S. though. Like nuclear power plants, hydroelectric plants have gone out of vogue in the U.S. it would seem. The U.S. has plenty of opportunities to add to hydroelectric capacity as the DoE study demonstrates, yet little is being done on this front. In theory hydroelectric power could be a threat to the explosive trend towards greater natural gas use (and the associated phase out of coal power). Yet there is no indication that utility companies are looking to switch away from gas or any other source and towards hydroelectric in large quantities.

Guardian:  Most of Britain’s major cities pledge to run on green energy by 2050

Most of Britain’s major cities will be run entirely on green energy by 2050, after the leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils made pledges to eradicate carbon emissions in their areas. In a highly significant move, council leaders in Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Glasgow and many others signed up to the promise ahead of the crucial international climate talks that will take place next month in Paris. Labour said this would cut the UK’s carbon footprint by 10%. The pledge, coordinated by Lisa Nandy, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, will mean green transport, an end to gas heating and a programme of mass insulation of homes in cities across the UK. The move will also pile pressure on the London mayoral candidates to make a similar pledge for the capital, with some Labour-led London boroughs, including Southwark, Lambeth and Greenwich, having already signed the promise. Ahead of the crucial Paris talks, similar pledges have been made by the leaders of other towns and cities around the world, including Copenhagen, New York, Sydney, Malmö and Munich.

Trust:  German firms get creative in tackling CO2

Steel and technology group Thyssenkrupp has formed a consortium to process CO2-containing waste gas from steel mills into products such as ammonia for nitrogen fertilisers or methanol, a basis for various chemical products. The so-called Carbon2Chem consortium, which includes E.ON , Akzo Nobel, Linde and Evonik , has 15 years of development work ahead of it, but its chemical reactor concept has vast implications. Under the scheme, the additional energy that is needed in the process would come from hydrogen generated during times of excess supply of wind and solar power. Others, like unlisted Brain Biotech, are harnessing the power of biology, blowing flue gases through a bacteria-filled bubble bath. Brain, which conducts research for chemical, cosmetics and food companies, is genetically engineering microbes so that they metabolise CO2 into succinic acid, a versatile raw material whose uses include polyesters and food additives. Elsewhere in Europe, Spanish energy group Repsol and rival Shell are also taking organic approaches in separate projects, seeking to boost the growth of energy crops for biofuel by funnelling CO2 from refinery gases into greenhouses. While most of these schemes rely in part on public-sector funding, companies say their willingness to spend millions on climate projects will depend on staying competitive as more energy-related levies loom.

NDTV:  ‘Clean Coal’: India’s Way Ahead to Lower Carbon Emissions

Ahead of the Paris climate summit, India has pledged to cut carbon emissions but said that even though coal is polluting, it will continue to dominate its power needs. The answer, says the government, lies in clean-coal power plants also called supercritical power plants. Clean coal technology has nothing to do with coal per se but with the process of electricity generation. The plant offers higher efficiency and lower carbon emissions because it generates lesser carbon for the same amount of coal burnt. Power Minister Piyush Goyal says, “We are almost at a situation where we are not encouraging any new plant which is not super critical technology.” From 2017, the government says all new coal power plants will use this clean technology. The main difference between supercritical and the old, subcritical, plant is the material of the boiler which makes it more efficient and environment friendly. V.B. Fadnavis, Executive Director of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s supercritical plant, Sipat, explains, “In a clean coal plant, water directly converts into steam without wasting energy (in first converting) into boiling water which is why we save 1000 tonnes of coal every day. Carbon dioxide emissions in ‘clean coal’ plant are 3.8% less.”

Telegraph:  11 EU countries to miss 2020 renewables targets

Countries will be encouraged to reach an agreement on climate at the UN Climate Change Conference in France in December. But many European nations are far from reaching their current targets on renewable energy consumption, according to figures published by Eurostat. Based on the growth between 2010 and 2013, 11 out of 29 European countries will miss their 2020 targets – including the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany. The Netherlands and France have the next largest shortfalls from their targets to overcome by 2020 – even before considering any further pledges made at the UN conference. Scandinavian countries are Europe’s leaders when it comes to renewable energy, with Sweden and Norway performing the best. More than half of Norway and Sweden’s energy consumption now comes from renewable sources – ten times the proportion in the UK. France and Germany – Europe’s largest countries alongside the UK – obtained 14.2 and 12.4 per cent of their energy from renewables in 2013. This is more than twice the UK’s current renewable energy use, which stood at 5.1 per cent in 2013 – a third of its 2020 target.

Energy Voice:  Energy Secretary feels “unfairly picked on” by “enemies”

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has revealed she feels “unfairly picked on” by her “enemies” over the UK Government’s plans to cut support for renewables. The Tory frontbencher said her opponents had put together a series of completely separate policy changes in to try to portray her as “anti-green”. She insisted she was a supporter of renewable energy – but underlined the need to be “vigilant” about the cost to bill payers. Ms Rudd said: “(Liberal Democrat) Ed Davey was secretary of state when I was the minister. I shared his view about wanting renewable energy. My complaint about the policy at the time was they didn’t manage the costs. That was the piece that was missing in the previous government.”

Euronews:  Spain’s solar energy firm Abengoa begins insolvency proceedings

Spain’s troubled renewable energy company Abengoa is said to have begun insolvency proceedings after talks with a potential investor broke down. The Seville-based solar energy firm, which employs 24,000 people worldwide, has been seeking to reassure investors that it can generate enough cash to service its near nine-billion dollar debt. Shares in Abengoa, which have more than halved over the past year, were suspended from trading on the Madrid Stock Exchange. The company says it is seeking creditor protection to ensure its financial viability, after talks with Spanish industrial group Gonvarri fell through over a possible 350 million euro capital increase. Abengoa has been at the centre of speculation over its survival for several months, and some questions have been raised over its business model and transparency.

HNGN:  Plankton Growth Increase In Ocean Could Be Tied To Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels, Global Warming, Study Shows

A study that analyzed data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey of the North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea since the mid-1960s revealed a tenfold increase in single-cell coccolithophores between the years 1965 and 2010, as well as a large increase in pale-shelled floating phytoplankton in the later half of the 1990s. These results fly in the face of scientific predictions, and the John Hopkins University scientists that carried out the study believe that the findings stem from an increase in the ocean’s carbon dioxide levels. “Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should,” Anand Gnanadesikan, co-author of the study, said in a press release. “What is worrisome, is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.” The results could mean that many of our current ecosystem models may not accurately reflect the rapid changes that are taking place on our planet.

BBC:  Prince Charles links climate change to Syria conflict

Prince Charles said he was one of those who warned many years ago that there would be rising conflict over scarce resources if the issue was not tackled. In Syria, the prince said, a drought lasting several years meant that many people were forced off the land. Prince Charles told Sky News: “We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem be-cause, it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move. And there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.”

Breitbart:  Global warming caused Hitler

Global warming’s reputation as the most evil and dangerous thing ever to happen in the history of the world has just gone full Godwin: apparently – among all its myriad other crimes – it may have been responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler, the spread of fascism across Europe and, by extension, the death of six million Jews. This novel theory, first reported on in an American newspaper in 1941, has just resurfaced in the wake of claims by John Kerry and others that climate change was responsible for creating ISIS. Researchers were naturally keen to discover whether there was any precedent for such “global warming” related idiocy. And indeed it turns out that there was. Little is known about what became of Dr Clarence A Mills, professor of experimental at the University of Cincinnati, and his amazing theory that “gradually warming temperatures of the world” helped bring Hitler and Mussolini to power because “people are more docile and easily led in warm weather than in cold.” But Dr Mills would surely be proud to know that his legacy lives on among such great 21st century thinkers as ex-jailbait-choral-nymphet Charlotte Church, the Prince of Wales, John Kerry, Thomas Friedman and the fifth most obnoxious Social Justice Warrior on Twitter, Graham Linehan.

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29 Responses to Blowout Week 100

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    Blowout week 100!

    A big thank you to Roger for getting to the heart of energy and climate issues and juxtaposing the conflicting views that are out there. There is only one version of truth and that is the version that is true.

    We will soon pass 1 million reads and at that time there will be an opportunity for soul searching into how to run a sustainable blog.

  2. oldfossil says:

    I should be glad that the Western nations are all busy tying one or more hands behind their backs giving us developing nations a head start except that our President Zuma has just headed for Paris promising to make South Africa green af.

    • Both my presidents have gone – one promising to make America green, the other promising to make Mexico green and each determined to lead the world in the Fight Against Climate Change. I see a wind farm in my future ….

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    South Australia has decided that the problem of grid instability caused by too many wind turbines will be solved by installing more wind turbines. Apparently no-one can see that zero output from 1000 turbines is no different to zero output from 100 turbines.
    And when there is too much electricity it can be exported to the eastern states earning money and making power cheaper in South Australia. Remember they are competing with brown coal fired power.
    I am thinking that I should move to another State as I don’t have the right mind for S.A.

    • Paolo Martini says:

      Well deserved, it is a great article

      • robertok06 says:

        Roger got also mentioned on Judith Curry’s “Climate etc…” blog… as…

        “Roger Andrews has just utterly destroyed claims about Syria, drought and migrants. [link] …”

        … in “Week in Review – Science and Technology edition”.


  4. Euan Mearns says:

    While the notion that global warming caused the rise of Hitler is debatable, there is less doubt that a very cold winter contributed to his demise.

  5. GeoffM says:

    Best Blowout Week for a while!
    How are these big UK cities going to be “carbon-free” by 2050? Will they disconnect themselves from the grid? Will they outlaw the import of all goods and services which used fossil fuel/thermal bioenergy at any point in the supply chain? Will they ban petrol/diesel cars, or users of such vehicles from driving out of town to fill up? Will they close the local airport/sea port?

    France to close a third of it’s nuclear? I see that today, even though Wind’s been performing “well” for a while, and it’s the weekend, the Fr interconnector is (importing to the UK) full to capacity. So here’s a new reason why the UK energy system is sitting on a ticking time bomb, Why haven’t the French authorities learned the lesson on nuclear that Germany and the UK have demonstrated? France today has arguably the best energy system in the world.

    • A C Osborn says:

      Current “Green” = mindless.
      The Paris Conference and the Climate demonstrations have been all over the BBC news with totally one sided information.

    • robertok06 says:


      “Why haven’t the French authorities learned the lesson on nuclear that Germany and the UK have demonstrated? France today has arguably the best energy system in the world.”

      Having spent the last 18 years in France, I can answer your qustions above very easily.
      The French authorities, the high-level politicians, have been trading votes and support in parliament and at elections with anti-nuclear groups…. see the demise of the Superphenix fast-neutron reactor in the late 90’s, or the latest gifts done to the Frrrench Grrreens…
      Another aid at dismounting what is arguably and easily demostrated to be a gem within the power industry… France’s civil nuclear program… has come from the fact that only and exclusively incompetent persons have been nominated minister of the environment and energy… and this across all recent governments… if one goes on wikipedia and looks for the composition of the last 10 governments he/she will hardly find someone who has a degree in science or technology in that position… the present one has a degree in political science… the previos one was a lawyer, the one before hadn’t even a university degree… only a “lycee classique” diploma… what else could one expect with these credentials?

      • Syndroma says:

        The closure of Superphenix is a crime against humanity. The development of essential technologies were halted, at least in one of the most potent centers of expertise.

  6. Euan Mearns says:

    This from the UN:

    The report and analysis compiled by UNISDR and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.


    606,000 lives lost in 20 years is 30,300 per year. Typhoon Haiyan, for example killed 6,300 and injured 28,689. This stat is perhaps plausible. What we need to know are the excess deaths linked to man made climate change. I'd venture that zero is the most likely number.

    4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance This does it for me. They are claiming that 56% of the world population have been seriously affected by weather related disasters.

    • robertok06 says:

      Ehi!… if you go on CRED’s web site… … the story looks different!… in fact what the analysis of that organization show/prove is that there is a decrease in deaths/costs due to natural disasters… there is no question about it… of course there are some spikes here and there… the tsunamis of the last 10-15 years… large earthquakes… volcano eruptions… but nevertheless a reduced impact from meterological events.

    • Euan: If you want a UN claim to pick apart it’s hard to beat the UN FAO: Drought, floods and other extremes of weather have become more frequent and severe in the past 30 years is almost the exact opposite of what the IPCC concluded in the AR5.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Roger I down loaded today food production data – hundred+ products – for every country in the world, since 1961. The FACT is that the world has performed an astonishing feat in managing to produce enough food for so many people. It was only made possible by FF. For me it is insane for the UN to be harping on about “crop failures” due to CC caused by FF for two reasons. I don’t think there is any evidence for significant crop failure at the global scale and FF created most of the crops in the first place.

  7. A C Osborn says:

    This is what puts it in to perspective
    Estimates of the total death toll range from 145,000[1] to between 3.7 million and 4 million.

    1900 Galverston Hurricane – These tides were largely responsible for the 8,000 deaths (estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000)
    1881, may have caused 300,000 fatalities, making it the deadliest typhoon in history.

  8. PhilH says:

    Re: George Osborne’s proposed SMR program

    Can anybody explain to me why this is expected to be cheaper than the current plans for a set of large reactors that he has been boosting, ie, why do the economies of mass-production of a large number of small things outweigh the economies of scale of producing a small number of large things?

    A commenter on the ‘Green Gone’ post suggested it was because of applying one ‘type approval’ to all of them, but I thought there was a similar system of general approval for large reactor designs, and it was this that the Chinese are really after for their reactor design in their support for the new British nuclear power plans.

    For the UK’s 50+GW peak demand to be met by SMRs, would need 200+ of the 250MW I’ve seen proposed elsewhere, or 2500+ of the Rolls Royce 20MW submarine ones.

    It seems to me that persuading 200, let alone 2500, communites in England and Wales (I’m even more doubtful anywhere in Scotland could be persuaded) to host a new nuclear reactor, however ’boutique’, would be a much larger challenge than the ~8 (several relatively remote) locations earmarked for the new round of large reactors.

    I would think that the costs of the lengthy planning effort, which will be necessary and different for each site, would seriously impact the economics, let alone the vastly larger number of properties that would have to be compensated for the blight of having a new nuclear facility in the vicinity.

    • gweberbv says:


      probably one would like to build ‘farms’ of these devices.

      • PhilH says:

        I guess that might be what happens in the end, but that loses three of the advantages I can see for SMRs: that by their location close to the demand, they avoid the losses from long-distance transmission; by their distribution, they avoid the losses from stepping up and down for connection to the high-voltage national grid; and similarly they avoid the capital costs of connecting them to the high-voltage national grid. All of which would erode at least part of any cost advantage.

  9. 9:15 p.m:

    U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the House will not go along if President Barack Obama tries to commit taxpayer money to support a climate accord reached in Paris. He says Congress has the authority to decide how to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars, “and I don’t think that’s the best use of our money.”


  10. Syndroma says:

    Nuclear-powered container ship SevMorPut has completed sea trials after renovation. It will start servicing the Northern Sea Route and Arctic oil & gas projects next year.

  11. The Dork of Cork . says:

    “This will change the narrative. A powerful moral voice has validated the science of climate change” – Mary Robinson (former Irish president )on the Pope’s comments
    19June 2015 speaking on Irish state radio.

    I kid you not.
    Bacon and all those other scientific method guys are spinning in their graves.

  12. Pingback: Food, Population, Energy and Climate Change in MENA | Energy Matters

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