Blowout Week 120

To provide a little light relief from weightier issues this week’s Blowout features the extraordinary capacity of the human mind to invent new ways of generating low-carbon energy. We already generate biogas from rotting garbage, waste food, vegetable oils and animal manure, and now we generate it from – cheese:

Clearfleau’s Lake District cheese-to-biogas plant at left.


Telegraph: Gas made from cheese to heat hundreds of homes

Hundreds of homes in Cumbria will be heated using cheese from next month, as a new government-backed green energy plant starts producing gas from cheddar manufacturing waste.

The anaerobic digestion plant at the Lake District Creamery in Aspatria will receive millions of pounds in subsidies for turning whey and other residues from the cheese production process into “biogas”. Some of the gas will be used to generate electricity on-site, while the remainder will be processed and fed into the local gas grid where it will be used by homes and business for their heating and cooking. Clearfleau, the company that built the new plant, said the total amount of gas being fed into the gas grid each year would be equivalent to the annual gas needs of 4,000 homes.

We continue with another disordered mix of stories from around the world, including the Denmark/UK Viking Link interconnector, the UK Green Deal, Germany’s “green energy fiasco”, Dutch wind farms losing money, record O&G drilling in Gulf States, plans to drill the Chicxulub meteor crater, Kuwait oil workers to go on strike, oil potential in Norway, Peabody coal files for bankruptcy, nuclear problems continue in Japan, the “vital role” of UK nuclear, Quebec to sell more renewable energy to US, the oil referendum in Italy, the environmental dangers of a Brexit and how global warming makes you unhappy. As noted in last week’s Blowout normal coverage of OPEC will be resumed when something newsworthy happens – hopefully during the forthcoming Doha meeting.

Energinet Denmark:  Denmark set to make billions from UK/Denmark electricity interconnector

A highly profitable undertaking for Denmark and a more effective green transition are what lie behind’s decision to establishing two new electricity connections to the UK and Germany, respectively. Working together with the UK’s National Grid, will con-nect the two countries’ electricity grid by means of a more than 740 km subsea cable and land cable – Viking Link. Viking Link and a new interconnection with Germany will be of great socio-economic benefit to Denmark. The future green electricity market will be much more cross-border, and with new connections, Danish power stations and wind turbine owners will be able to sell more electricity and command higher prices – by better exploiting wind power and exporting more in windier periods, for example, says Torben Glar Nielsen, Executive Vice President, CTO at Energinet.

Cornwall Energy:  NAO tells UK government to re-think energy efficiency schemes

The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that the government’s Green Deal failed to provide value for money. In a report published on Thursday 14 April, the watchdog said that the scheme had cost taxpayers £240mn but that it had failed to persuade households that it was worth paying for energy efficiency measures. The report further explained that the scheme had, alongside the Energy Company Obligation, delivered substantially less CO2 savings than previous energy efficiency schemes, mainly because of DECC’s initial focus on “harder-to-treat” homes. NAO head Amyas Morse said the government needed to be realistic about consumers’ and suppliers’ motivations when designing schemes in future.

Telegraph:  Big Six under pressure to offer double-digit energy price cuts

The UK’s largest energy suppliers are under renewed pressure to double their recent tariff cuts as fresh data shows the latest round of reductions has done little to reduce fuel poverty.The Big Six have offered customers gas price cuts of just 5pc, and no change to electricity prices, despite energy markets plummeting over 30pc to lows not seen since 2010. Energy companies consistently point out that wholesale energy makes up just half of their costs, while network prices and policy costs continue to rise. But consumer groups insist that The companies are under increasing pressure to prove that they are not profiteering at the expense of their customers as part of an ongoing probe into the sector by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Early in its investigation the CMA said that earnings made by big six energy companies increased tenfold in the years from 2007 to 2013, with higher margins taken from household customers on standard tariffs.

ICIS:  Peak UK electricity summer demand set to fall by almost 2GW

Peak electricity consumption in Britain is expected to be almost 2GW lower this summer compared to what they were forecasting 2015, National Grid revealed in its summer outlook on Thursday. Demand is forecast to peak at 35.7GW, down from peak forecasts of 37.5GW last summer, the lowest on record. Although underlying demand is expected to remain flat to last summer, the rapid increase in the UK’s installed solar capacity over the last 18 months is set to take a greater chunk out of grid demand this summer. All solar installations are connected to local distribution networks in the UK and do not feed into the National Grid’s main transmission network. Forecasts for solar generation are therefore deducted from forecast grid demand. The system operator estimates 9.3GW of solar capacity is installed as of February 2016 and that this figure is increasing by 200MW per month. “This equates to 12GW by the beginning of British Summer Time 2017,” National Grid said in the outlook. “As supply becomes increasingly dependent on weather, we are working with a number of stakeholders to improve our solar generation forecasting,” National Grid director Cordi O’Hara said.

New York Times:  Pressure on Exxon Over Climate Change Intensifies

Pressure on Exxon Mobil and the energy industry increased on Wednesday with the release of a new cache of decades-old industry documents about climate change. The new documents were released by an activist research organization, the Center for International Environmental Law, which published the project on its website. The documents, according to the environmental law center’s director, Carroll Muffett, suggest that the industry had the underlying knowledge of climate change even 60 years ago. “From 1957 onward, there is no doubt that Humble Oil, which is now Exxon, was clearly on notice” about rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the prospect that it was likely to cause global warming, he said. The American Petroleum Institute, energy companies and other organizations had created a group, the Smoke and Fumes Committee, to monitor and conduct pollution research, and to “use science and public skepticism to prevent environmental regulations they deemed hasty, costly and unnecessary,” according to the center’s description of the documents on its website. Those actions, Mr. Muffett suggested, would be echoed in later efforts to undermine climate science.

AGU:  AGU Board Votes to Continue Relationship with ExxonMobil

The question of AGU’s relationship with ExxonMobil (and our relationship with the larger oil and gas industry) has been a topic of great discussion for the last few months. When the most recent request to end ExxonMobil sponsorship and address questions about how our community should respond to the urgency of climate change was received in February, in the form of a letter signed by more than 170 AGU members and others in the climate science community, we treated it with the utmost concern and respect. In the end, by a majority vote, the board passed a motion that approved “continuing our current engagement between ExxonMobil and AGU including acceptance of funding from ExxonMobil.” (In 2015 that support consisted of a $35,000 sponsorship of the Student Breakfast at the Fall Meeting; based on current information, if we are offered support for 2016, we can accept it).

NSIDC:  Sensor on F-17 experiencing difficulties, sea ice time series temporarily suspended

NSIDC has suspended daily sea ice extent updates until further notice, due to issues with the satellite data used to produce these images. The vertically polarized 37 GHz channel (37V) of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite that provides passive microwave brightness temperatures is providing spurious data. The 37V channel is one of the inputs to the sea ice retrieval algorithms, so this is resulting in erroneous estimates of sea ice concentration and extent. The problem was initially seen in data for April 5 and all data since then are unreliable, so we have chosen to remove all of April from NSIDC’s archive.

National Public Radio:  Scientists Set To Drill Into Extinction-Event Crater In Mexico

A research team is now working to put a massive drill into the the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor to help peel back 65 million years of history. Their goal: to secure a nearly mile-deep core sample from the Chicxulub crater that’s commonly linked to the end of the dinosaur era.”There’s a lot of questions about mass extinction events, including all the extinction or kill mechanisms out there,” says one of the research team’s leaders, Sean Gulick of the University of Texas, Austin. If Gulick and his colleagues are successful, their work could bring insights into a range of topics, from prehistoric biology and planetary geology to Earth’s current era of climate change.The impact of a miles-wide asteroid and the end of the Cretaceous period were catastrophic to life on Earth, erasing more than 70 percent of the planet’s species, according to the most recent estimations. When it hit our planet, the impact must have looked something like an exclamation point, packing enough velocity and mass to make deep-seated rocks and other materials behave like water splashing in a pond after a stone is thrown into it.

Yale:  For James Hansen, the Science Demands Activism on Climate

We know from the earth’s history that 2 degrees would eventually lead to sea level rise of several meters. The last inner glacial period, 120,000 years ago, that’s the last time it was warmer than today, sea level was 6 to 9 meters higher — that would mean loss of almost all coastal cities. It’s unthinkable that we walk into such a situation with our eyes open, and yet, the science is very well understood. There’s no argument about the fact that we will lose the coastal areas, now occupied by most of the large cities of the world. It’s only a question of how soon. That loss of coastal cities would be a dangerous outcome. It’s hard to imagine that the world will be governable if this happened relatively rapidly. What we conclude is that the timescale for ice-sheet disintegration is probably a lot shorter than has been assumed in the intergovernmental discussions. “I don’t think that I have been alarmist — maybe alarming, but I don’t think I’m an alarmist,” (Hansen) said. “We have a society in which most people have become unable to understand or appreciate science, and partly that’s a communication problem, which we need to try to alleviate.”

GWPF:  Germany’s green energy fiasco

Germany has spent some €200 billion ($228.09 billion) since 2000 transforming its energy industry into a green dream, and now Berlin wants to spend more. A review now under way of the 2014 renewable-energy law could change the way Berlin chooses new generating capacity. The current system of subsidies and feed-in tariffs (requirements that utilities buy renewable electricity at above-market prices) has led to a bonanza of solar- and wind-farm construction, and renewables now provide one-third of electricity generated in Germany.The renewables never seem to fall in price the way boosters promise, and with costs skyrocketing Berlin needs a cheaper way to boost renewable capacity to its self-imposed goal of 45% of electricity generation by 2025. The proposed solution is a bidding system in which renewable producers would compete for the right to produce a share of the planned new green capacity based on who can offer the lowest price. But Berlin wants to exclude new wind producers from this auction, at least as long as other producers such as solar are available. This despite—or perhaps because of—the fact that wind is the cheapest form of green power in Germany.

NL Times:  Hundreds of Dutch wind farms operating at a loss

Hundreds of wind turbines in the Netherlands are operating at a loss and are in danger of being demolished. The main cause is the very low energy prices, which mean that the maintaining the turbines cost more than what the generated energy bring in, the Financieele Dagblad reports based on own research. Subsidies for generating wind energy are in many cases no longer cost-effective. Smaller, older windmills in particular are running at a loss, but even newer mills are struggling to be profitable with insufficient subsidies. This is extremely worrying, according to the paper, seeing as the Netherlands is already behind in meeting green energy targets set in the Energy agreement. Teun Bokhoven, chairman of umbrella organization for sustainable energy companies, thinks that the subsidy arrangement need to change, he said to BNR. The current subsidies are based on long-term forecasts and do not take the current low energy price into account.

NOAA/NCEP:  NCEP issues La Niña advisory

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were between 1.0° and 1.5°C across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during early April, having weakened appreciably over the last month. Collectively, these anomalies reflect a weakening El Niño. Nearly all models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016. Then, the chance of La Niña increases during the late summer or early fall. The official forecast is consistent with the model forecasts, also supported by a historical tendency for La Niña to follow strong El Niño events. A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with an increasing chance of La Niña during the second half of the year.

Politico:  Italians head to polls to decide fate of offshore oil

Italians head to the polls Sunday to decide the fate of 26 offshore oil and gas production areas. The question on the ballot is simple: Do voters want to repeal a line in the 2016 Stability Law that allows drilling rigs within 12 nautical miles of the coast to continue operating until the field runs out of oil and gas? A Yes vote would repeal the new rule and bring back a time limit on the offshore concessions — 30 years plus a renewal for 15 years. A No vote would allow production in the 26 operational concessions to go on indefinitely. Either way, these will be the last rigs to operate within 12 miles from shore, since there is now a ban on new platforms inside that area. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and those in favor letting the concessions live on argue that ending them would kill 11,000 jobs and valuable supplies of domestic fossil fuels — in a country that imports 92 percent of its oil and 90 percent of its gas. Green NGOs and politicians argue the extension would slow Italy’s transition to renewables — a shift that has already stalled with the unexpected rollback of incentive schemes for renewable projects in recent years. “If we are serious in our fight against climate change, we have to leave around 80 percent of our oil reserves and about a third of our gas reserves underground,” said Monica Frassoni, co-chair of the European Greens Party from Italy. “So I really don’t see why Italy, a country which has huge potential in terms of energy efficiency and renewables, should insist on oil and gas drilling beyond the concessions.”

Gulf Business:  Gulf states see record oil and gas drilling as rest of world slumps

A record number of rigs are drilling for oil and gas on the Arabian peninsula even as drilling in the rest of the world tumbles in response to low prices. There were almost 290 rigs active in Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring states of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman in March, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes. The rig count has increased by 50 since oil prices started to fall in mid-2014 and has almost doubled over the last five years. As a result, the Arabian peninsula now accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all active rigs outside North America, up from less than 18 per cent when the slump began. Saudi Arabia alone had 127 operating rigs in March, with 67 targeting primarily oil-bearing formations and 60 hunting for gas. Some analysts suggest the drilling uptick is part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy of defending or even increasing its oil market share. There have even been suggestions the kingdom is reviving its previously abandoned plan to raise capacity from 12.5 million to 15 million barrels per day.But it is at least as likely the increase in drilling is driven by the need to replace declining output from mature fields and the need to develop new sources of gas for power generation.

Oilandgas360:  US Rig count falls to 440

The total U.S. rig count fell by just three rigs in the week ended April 15, 2016, a decline of 1%. The three rigs laid down this week were all oil-seeking rigs, with the total number of oil rigs now at 351. The number of rigs targeting gas remained unchanged at 89. On a state-by-state basis, Texas lost three rigs this week, while Alaska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming each reported one fewer rig this week compared to one week ago. New Mexico reporter two additional rigs this week, while Kansas and Louisiana reported one added rig. The Canadian rig count declined by one this week. The total rig count in Canada now stands at 40, down 42% from this time last month.

Oilandgas360:  Kuwait Oil Workers Plan to Strike During Doha Meeting

Concerns over pay and benefits have led oil and gas unions in Kuwait to call for a strike starting the same Sunday as the production freeze talks are set to be help between OPEC and non-OPEC members in Doha, Qatar. Thousands of workers in state-owned oil and gas companies including Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC), Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company, Equate Petrochemical Industries Company, and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company plan to strike if their demands are not met, reports Reuters. Acting oil minister Anas al-Saleh said on Wednesday that talks were proceeding between the government and unions to avert the strike, a report which was refuted by Farhan al-Ajimi, head of the Petrochemicals Industries Company workers’ union. Aljimi said the door for negotiations had been closed since the last meeting with Saleh earlier this week. “The strike will not be cancelled or suspended until all the demands are met,” he said. Workers are concerned that their salaries and benefits will be cut, and that some may even face layoffs as part of a planned government overhaul of the payroll system in the public sector.

UPI:  Norway eyes long-term oil potential

The Norwegian government said it was placing an emphasis on the long view for the potential for offshore oil and gas production during the market downturn. “The oil and gas industry is currently experiencing a period characterized by low oil prices and considerable challenges,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said in a statement. “This means it is important to have a long-term perspective.” Norwegian energy company Statoil is working on the early stages of development of the Johan Sverdrup field, one of the largest discovered in the country’s waters with an estimated reserve basin of up to 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Statoil said the field could generate $200 billion in revenues over the next 50 years. According to its estimates, there are roughly 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters. Half of that is in the Barents Sea, with the rest distributed in the North and Norwegian Seas. “The North Sea has seen the greatest positive contributions in both exploration activity and resource growth, with Johan Sverdrup being the largest contributor to this value creation,” the agency said.

National Public Radio:  U.S. Coal Giant Peabody Energy Files For Bankruptcy

Peabody Energy — which is the biggest coal miner in the U.S. and says it is the largest private-sector coal company in the world — is looking to restructure its heavy debt load and gain relief from its creditors. It hopes to continue operations unimpeded. The St. Louis-based company said in a statement that the pressure on the coal industry is “unprecedented.” It cited a drop in prices, weaker demand from China, the rise of competition from fracking and “ongoing regulatory challenges” as reasons for the restructuring. Dashed dreams of China-powered prosperity contributed to the coal giant’s financial woes. Peabody bought Australian mining firm MacArthur in 2011 for nearly $5 billion. It was a bet on Asian growth, planned at a time when coal prices had been on the rise for two years. That same year, coal prices began to drop. The industry entered a long slump — where it remains today. And instead of surging, growth in China was stagnant. Today, Peabody carries a heavy debt burden. Australia’s ABC News reports that Peabody owes $10.1 billion and has $10.9 billion in assets — and that the company lost $2 billion in 2015.

Reuters:  Poland feels the pain of its love affair with coal

Election to Poland’s top job has depended on maintaining coal’s special national status and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, a coal miner’s daughter from Silesia, swept to office in October on a promise she would ring-fence the industry’s 100,000 jobs. It is a pledge she is now under almost as much pressure to break as to keep. The energy ministry has said the nation’s biggest mining firm, headquartered in Silesia, risks running out of cash at the end of the month. It is a familiar cry, and in the past, funds somehow appeared. This time, however, they may not. Energy ministry officials supervising Kompania Weglowa (KW), the European Union’s biggest coal mining company, say it cannot pay salaries in May if trade unions’ reject a plan to cut the company’s costs.

Bloomberg:  Norway’s $860 Billion Fund Drops 52 Companies Linked to Coal

Norway’s $860 billion sovereign wealth fund unveiled the first list of miners and power producers to be excluded from its portfolio following a ban on coal investments. The 52 companies being barred include American Electric Power Co. Inc., China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd., Whitehaven Coal Ltd., Tata Power Co. and Peabody Energy Corp., according to a statement from Norges Bank Investment Management, the unit of Norway’s central bank that manages the world’s biggest wealth fund. The exclusions are based on new criteria introduced by the government in February impacting companies that base at least 30 percent of their activities or revenues on coal. “We’re reviewing all relevant companies by the end of 2016, and there will be further exclusions,” NBIM spokeswoman Marthe Skaar said by phone.

Spectrum:  Japan’s Nuclear Energy Comeback Takes a Tumble

Just when it seemed Japan was poised to get its nuclear plants up and running again after the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi brought about the shutdown of all the country’s nuclear operations, a series of mishaps has raised doubts over the government’s ability to achieve its goal of supplying 20-22 percent of Japan’s energy needs with nuclear power by 2030.
Last month, TEPCO, the regional electric utility that operated the Fukushima plant, issued a press release admitting that staffers had not followed guidelines requiring them to quickly declare a meltdown following the Daiichi accident. Two days before last month’s TEPCO announcement, Kansai Electric Power Co. revealed that it had found a leak on 20 February in the filtering system of the Unit 4 reactor at its Takahama Nuclear Plant. The incident happened during preparations to restart the reactor after Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s (NRA) had deemed it safe to go back on line. Convinced that all was well, KEPCO started up the reactor on 26 February. It shut down automatically three days later due to a “main transformer/generator internal failure,” the company reported. But the biggest blow came on 9 March, when the District Court in Otsu ordered the immediate shutdown of Units 3 and 4. The decision came after it agreed with a group of local plaintiffs that the plant did not satisfy all the NRA safety requirements. The Unit 3 reactor had gone back online in January.

World Nuclear News:  Nuclear plays ‘vital’ role in UK economy, statistics show

Official data from the Office for National Statistics shows the “vital contribution nuclear power generation makes to the economy”. The statistics, released for the first time and part of the low-carbon and renewable energy data series, show nuclear generation and new build activities contributed £3.5 billion ($5.0 billion) to the economy in 2014, with 15,500 people employed full time. In the article providing estimates of activity in the nuclear power sector in 2014, the ONS said that almost a quarter of low-carbon electricity group acquisitions of capital assets were in the nuclear power sector. The sector accounts for a greater proportion of the low-carbon economy in Scotland than in England for both turnover and full-time equivalent employees, it said. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The nuclear sector has played an important role in keeping the lights on across the UK for over 50 years. These official statistics highlight the continued economic contribution of existing nuclear power generation operations.”

The Hill:  The fuzzy accounting behind renewable energy’s falling prices

Fans of the renewable energy industry like to boast that the costs of solar and wind power are dropping. What they never mention is where most of those “savings” are coming from — American taxpayers. Just listen to President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address: “Wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power [and] solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year.” But these stats only show one side of the ledger. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, federal subsidies — including direct expenditures, tax breaks and research and development — for solar power totaled $5.3 billion in 2013, the most recent year of data. Wind power pocketed $5.9 billion. Combined, renewable largesse grew nearly 40 percent between 2010 and 2013. Renewable energy defenders point out that fossil-fuel producers are also subsidized by the federal government. But those subsidies are minuscule compared to wind and solar. In fact, the federal government now subsidizes solar 345 times more than coal, natural gas, and oil, according to the EIA. Wind is being subsidized over 52 times more than the more conventional fossil fuels. And that’s just at the federal level. State and local governments provide lots of tax breaks and other economic support for renewables.

Platts:  Quebec to sell more renewable energy to US

Quebec has developed an ambitious energy policy to make itself the North American leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy production, which will lead to increased exports to the US, the provincial government said in its 2030 energy policy. The plan is to increase the overall output of renewable energy 25%, pushing the total amount to 60.9% by 2030 from its current 46.6%. The government will invest $4 billion to increase energy efficiency 15% and eliminate the use of coal for the production of electricity by 2030. While the focus of the energy policy is to change the energy profile of Canada’s second-largest province by 2030, part of its strategy is to promote the development of clean energy resources that can be exported to the US. The Quebec government intends to increase the number of interconnections with US utilities, the energy policy said. Hydro-Quebec intends to double its revenue over the next 15 years in part through growth potential in the US. The Ontario-based utility intends to boost its electricity exports, including hydroelectric exports, to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets of its neighboring US markets, the policy said.

BBC:  Wind farm construction ‘cuts golden plover numbers by 80%’

The construction of a wind farm in Sutherland led to an 80% drop in the number of golden plovers in the area, according to a five-year study. Scientists have now said their research project should be used as the basis for future studies on the effects of wind farms on other bird species. The study was funded by the Gordonbush site’s owners, energy company SSE, and conducted by RSPB Scotland. The study monitored golden plover numbers before, during and after construction. According to the report, the drop in numbers was greater than in areas surrounding the wind farm that were studied over the same period. Lead researcher Dr Alex Sansom said: “Golden plovers breed in open landscapes and it is likely that the presence of wind turbines in these areas leads to birds avoiding areas around the turbines. This study shows that such displacement may cause large declines in bird numbers within wind farms.”

Guardian:  Solar power sets new British record by beating coal

The sun provided British homes and businesses with more power than coal-fired power stations for 24 hours last weekend. While solar power has previously beaten coal for electricity generation over a few hours in the UK, Saturday was the first time this happened for a full day. Analysts said the symbolic milestone showed how dramatic coal’s decline had been due to carbon taxes, as solar had “exploded” across the UK in recent years. National Grid data gathered by climate analysts Carbon Brief showed that 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power was generated on Saturday by solar, or 4% of national demand that day, versus 21GWh from coal-fired power stations. “This first for solar reflects the major shifts going on in the electricity system,” said Carbon Brief in its analysis. “Last weekend’s solar breakthrough could not have happened without the increase in solar capacity. However, an ongoing collapse in coal generation was the more immediate cause.”

Bloomberg:  EU Urges Caution in Designing Subsidies to Avoid Power Blackouts

European Union nations should better analyze whether and how they should offer subsidies to electricity producers to prevent power blackouts, the bloc’s regulatory arm said. The European Commission published on Wednesday an interim report on an inquiry into capacity markets in 11 member states. While such tools can be necessary in some instances to guarantee supply security, they can’t substitute a well-functioning power market and must not distort competition, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Brussels. “The report published today shows that there is a lot of room for member states to improve how they assess whether capacity mechanisms are needed, and how they design them,” she said. “For a capacity mechanism to be well-designed it needs to be open and take into account electricity that can be provided across EU borders, thereby also contributing to building an energy union in Europe.” Improved cross-border power links are among the pillars of the EU’s energy union strategy, approved by national leaders last year. The plan is to ensure safer energy supplies, better integrate renewables into the grid and invest in infrastructure in the 28-nation bloc.

WSJ:  EU Says State Payments to Keep Power Plants on Standby Don’t Break Rules

Government payments to power operators for keeping some plants on standby so they can step in when electricity demand is at its peak don’t necessarily break European Union antisubsidy rules, the bloc’s competition regulator said Wednesday. However, the European Commission warned that governments need to be more open to a variety of potential providers and allow competition on pricing when setting up so-called capacity mechanisms. Under a capacity mechanism, power companies earn some money even if they’re plants aren’t running. Some governments also provide incentives for industries with high electricity needs to shut or slow down production when demand elsewhere is high. This kind of paid capacity provision has become a central element in the power systems of many countries, especially where renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar have contributed to variations in energy supply. Governments and network regulators say they are necessary to keep sufficient plants online amid low electricity prices and prevent blackouts. However, some competition watchdogs, including the commission have cautioned that baldly designed capacity mechanisms could amount to illegal subsidies to some operators and drive up electricity prices for consumers. In its interim report on a year-old inquiry into the sector, the commission confirmed some of these concerns.

Guardian:  Report highlights environmental dangers of leaving EU

EU membership has been a major factor behind the “marked improvement in environmental quality in the UK” since the 1980s, according to an independent report into the potential impact of a leave vote in the June referendum. The 60,000-word report found that the net result on the UK’s environment from EU membership had been positive and that leaving the union would be risky and could damage key green protections. It said that actions taken to fulfil EU obligations, for instance on clean water and wildlife protection, had been beneficial to the UK’s environment, along with EU policies that have helped infrastructure investments, for instance in renewable energy. The report found that both an exit vote that resulted in the UK seeking entirely new free trade relations with Europe and other countries, and an exit vote that resulted in the UK taking the “Norwegian option” of adopting EU regulations without fully free trade, were both “risky” because they were not the status quo, while remaining in would be “low risk”. It said that a Brexit vote could put the UK’s Climate Change Act, which sets out “carbon budgets” more than a decade into the future, in danger.

PJmedia:  Climate Change Impacts Your Happiness

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy warned that climate change is affecting the physical and “mental health status” of humans, “probably impacting how happy you are every day.”“Frankly, it is a wake-up call because there are a number of impacts we are seeing here that we are already feeling, and a number of impacts so that you can virtually see that every human being in every part of the United States is impacted now by climate and will get increasingly impacted if we do not take action now to try to reduce those impacts,” McCarthy said at the White House during an event announcing the Obama administration’s latest climate change report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. So we are talking about everything from impacting our food, our water, our air and our weather and if that’s not enough it’s probably impacting how happy you are every day and what your mental health status is.

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32 Responses to Blowout Week 120

  1. ‘The last inner glacial period, 120,000 years ago, that’s the last time it was warmer than today, sea level was 6 to 9 meters higher — that would mean loss of almost all coastal cities.’

    How dumb can this guy be?

    There’s this thing called dykes. And seawalls. And the fact that many coastal cities around the world have seen subsidence of several meters and, surprise surprise, none has been abandoned (in fact most are thriving, e.g. Jakarta).

    And you can actually raise a whole city as high as you want – people had figured out how to do it in the XIX century.

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      That it was much warmer in the last inter-glacial period is undisputed; finding fossils of lions, giraffes, elephants and hippos in the Thames Valley is hard to refute. But the CO2 level (we are told) was 280ppm. Using that as proof that any current or future warming is due to CO2 lacks credibility.

    • donb says:

      Abbreviations used below are: GL = Greenland, Ant = Antarctica
      It is interesting to compare present day GL and Ant with glacial melting that occurred in the Eemian interglacial ~125 kyr ago.
      GL temperature began to exceed present day Temp about 131 kyr ago and remained a few deg-C higher until ~117 kyr ago. Holocene Temp rapidly reached its maximum ~11 kyr ago and has likely dropped slightly (~1-2 deg-C) up to today. During most of the Eemian maximum, GL Temp exceeded Holocene Temp and probably for a time period longer than the time since Holocene maximum. Comparisons of the EPICA (GL) and Vostok (Ant) ice core data indicate that Temp in Ant never rose as high above present Temp as did GL and stayed above present Ant Temp for a considerably shorter period of time (~131-122 kyr ago).

      Some glaciers on GL survived the Eemian melting, and a recent paper argued that about equal amounts of sea level rise in the Eemian were contributed by GL and West Ant. This would seem to confirm the potential vulnerability of the West-Ant ice sheet. But the EPICA core data indicate that Eemian sea level rose above present day values only between ~130-126 kyr ago, or for only a few thousand years, then began dropping as insolation decreased (due to orbital parameters). The rise of sea level in the early Eemian interglacial roughly followed Temp. (Note that the prime driver of Temp in the Eemian interglacial was changing insolation, and the maximum CO2 level reached was only ~280 ppm.)

    • gweberbv says:


      with a sea level rise of 6 to 9 meters you would need to raise roughly 1/3 of Florida. Or you build a dyke around it.
      Have a look:

      It is one thing just not to believe that such thing might happen (due to man-made global warming or whatever). But denying that once it happens the outcome will be catastrophic for some parts of the world is simply stupid.

      • robertok06 says:

        “But denying that once it happens the outcome will be catastrophic for some parts of the world is simply stupid.”

        Well… stupid is what stupid does (who said it?)… as a matter of fact in the last 20 or so years at least a couple hundred million chinese citizens have moved from the countryside to the cities, in search of a better life (and most of them have found it)… so I do not see why the same number of much wealthier US citizens could not, in a longer time span, move their mansions which have been (very stupidly, indeed, I agree with you guenter) ON the ocean.

        A catastrophic event would be a global nuclear war, or a large meteorite, but certainly not the gullible threat of the killer CO2… that’s food for plants, nothing more nothing less.

        Let’s move our attention and resources onto more rational scares, shall we? … saving the mansions of well-to-dos in Florida should be at the very end of our priorities… plus, they are all insured, so… who really cares?

      • gweverb, you say ‘once it happens’. In fact, WHEN it happens is the only thing that matters.

        It might be the case that we’ve already raised temperatures enough to melt all of the world’s ice and raise the seas seventy meters. There is no evidence that is the case, and nobody thinks it is, but if it was it wouldn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how long it will take. Because if it takes ten thousand years, nobody will care. As I said in other comment:

        ‘a) Nobody cares what happens in the year 3000. If you want to express this mathematically, take any discount rate, e.g. 3% and do the math: 0.97^1000 => I get forty zeroes.
        b) Whatever costs are incurred will be spread over thousands of years.
        c) Whatever threat is faced will be faced with the means we have in the year 2100, or 2500, or 3000. Prediction is a risky business, but continued economic and technological progress is a sure bet. In other words, we will be more ready to adapt to the rising seas, not less.

        Even emission scenarios acknowledge this: under SRES A1B, which is pretty close to the actual emissions we’ve seen so far this century, the ‘developing’ world reaches by 2100 incomes double those of the ‘developed’ world in 2000. Me thinks the billion or so humans you talk about will no longer be farmers. Or if they’re farmers they’ll be as prepared as the Dutch ones to deal with the seas.’

      • JerryC says:

        It’s a terrible concern. Which is why the market for beachfront property has collapsed and Al Gore decided to buy a house at elevation instead of spending $9M on a beach house.

        Oh wait…

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Alberto, would you mind posting up your “Fossil Fuels Subisdies in Spain” article that was on your blog that was shut down (by Google, I imagine)?

      It would make a great guest article if Euan agrees else at another site that you often comment at and which allows guest articles.

  2. RDG says:

    Another academic clown in the UK is doing his best to have the UK commit suicide. The Greatest Conjob in History continues. No doubt the dummies hunkered down awaiting to be swept away by rising oceans are thrilled to be imminently bankrupted.

    Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade, says new study

    “The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank in the UK.

    Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, believes that the next great energy revolution could take place in a fraction of the time of major changes in the past.”

    • robertok06 says:

      Sovacool is a highly irrelevant academic liar.
      His nonsense on nuclear is legendary… even James Hansen scoffed him with a vitriolic reply to a letter that Sovacool and other anti-nuclear “green” gurus (like Jacobson) wrote as comment to the now famous paper of Hansen and Kharekha on the merits of nuclear… this one:

      “Sovacool et al.’s analysis of our paper contains numerous errors, misinterpretations, and dubious assumptions. For instance, we make no presumption in our paper that nuclear power is the only major option to replace fossil fuels — nor have we in the past, as evidenced by our other peer-reviewed publications. Furthermore, all of our results are based on complete fuel cycle analysis and are presented as mean values along with their ranges. Thus it is incorrect to claim that we single out the worst estimates for coal mortality. Contrary to Sovacool et al.’s assertions, our only “bias” is our belief that humanity’s best chance of success for mitigating the daunting challenge of climate change is to utilize all available and proven means.”

      Reading Sovacool’s research is a waste of time.

    • Dave Ward says:

      I saw this mentioned yesterday on techy site “Slashdot”. It’s fair to say that commenters there are of a decidedly warmist persuasion, yet even they were shooting this ludicrous claim down!

  3. singletonengineer says:

    It’s disappointing to read the comments from Alberto and Graham, which amount to echo chamber denialism based on selected affirmations of fact, true or otherwise.

    Yes, Alberto, there are dykes, many of them. You have not presented any credible argument that dykes can successfully manage either the on-land effects of global warming and sea level rise or the parallel acidification of the oceans. Like with like comparisons would, of course, recognise and deal with at least those two issues. Where do you recommend that the billion or so humans, the majority of whom are farmers, should relocate to when their beaches invade their homes and fields?

    Graham, on the other hand, chose to pretend that anthropogenic CO2 rise is not irrefutably linked with current-era global temperature rises. Good luck with that, Graham: if 100 climate scientists were manning the oars of a Roman galley, only one or two would be pulling against the beat of the drum. Note that the last two words of Graham’s post are “lacks credibility”. Exactly.

    • Not sure what strawman you’re shooting at.

      I was specifically attacking Hansen’s claim that sea level rise of 6-9 meters ‘would mean loss of almost all coastal cities’. This is bunk. Even if said SLR happened within this century, which is impossible, the cities would survive. That they would be lost or abandoned is out of the question, yet a surprising quantity of people believe this bunk. The alarmists feel confident enough to use it again and again: National Geographic cover, An Inconvenient Truth, and countless articles and documentaries have featured the ‘threat’ of sea level rise and underwater homes to scare people.

      I kind of believed it too, until I read a bit about coastal management. For example, Miami Beach just raised streets 60-70cm and installed new pumps. Price tag: $400 million. For a city of 100,000 and a project that will not need to be done again in decades, it looks like a bargain. For an average of about 20 tons of CO2 per American per year, assuming the whole thing is done again every 40 years, it works out to $1/ton of CO2, or less than $1 per gallon of gasoline. Hey, you can actually slap fossil fuels with a sea-level tax to fund this stuff – why not? (But if you do, don’t use SLR as an excuse for more taxes and regulations)

      Of course, what the sea level alarmists don’t usually mention is that all the evidence suggests SLR of that kind will take thousands of years. In other words:
      a) Nobody cares what happens in the year 3000. If you want to express this mathematically, take any discount rate, e.g. 3% and do the math: 0.97^1000 => I get forty zeroes.
      b) Whatever costs are incurred will be spread over thousands of years.
      c) Whatever threat is faced will be faced with the means we have in the year 2100, or 2500, or 3000. Prediction is a risky business, but continued economic and technological progress is a sure bet. In other words, we will be more ready to adapt to the rising seas, not less.

      Even emission scenarios acknowledge this: under SRES A1B, which is pretty close to the actual emissions we’ve seen so far this century, the ‘developing’ world reaches by 2100 incomes double those of the ‘developed’ world in 2000. Me thinks the billion or so humans you talk about will no longer be farmers. Or if they’re farmers they’ll be as prepared as the Dutch ones to deal with the seas.

      And then you have tiny, decaying villages like Ho Chi Minh or Jakarta dealing with sea level rise far, far faster than anything that could come from melting ice. Or Tokyo, which sank about 2 meters in the XX century. Or the atoll islands which are actually expanding instead of shrinking.

      I could go on, but you get the point. These cities thrived with subsidence of 100mm a year – the idea that SLR threatens them is laughable.

      ‘the on-land effects of global warming’ and ‘the parallel acidification of the oceans’ are entirely separate issues. Not that I would expect dykes to make any difference on acidification, or on ‘effects of global warming’ other than SLR.

      PS: you’re right that, just because the Eemian didn’t feature CO2 levels as high as today’s, doesn’t mean today’s temperature rise is not caused by CO2 – it’s almost certainly caused by this gas to a large degree, and by other manmade GHGs to an additional large degree. But scientists have a hard time explaining other periods, such as the Younger Dryas, in which temperature variations were far too big and fast to have been caused by changes in the Earth’s orbit, and far too long to have been caused by volcanoes. In fact, the rate of cooling and warming during the Younger Dryas was roughly in the same ballpark as the 1ºC per century or saw we’ve seen in the modern era.

      • That should read ‘less than one CENT per gallon’

      • ThierryC says:

        Upgrade of New Orleans dike system will cost $14.5 billion. Likely too much expensive for the many and many coastal cities in the world. Think about Abidjan, Mumbai, Bangladesh, Guangzhou, Alexandria, Santo Domingo, Naple, … there’s about 100 hundred of such cities, many of them being in large delta where traditional defense can’t work.

      • Anyone who wants to observe the effects of SLR on major cities in real time and has the requisite life expectancy should keep an eye on Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, where rising sea levels threaten to inundate large parts of the metro area (including Jakarta International Airport) within the space of a few decades. The sea level rise of course has nothing to do with AGW; it’s a result of land subsidence caused by excessive ground water pumping.

    • robertok06 says:

      “Where do you recommend that the billion or so humans, the majority of whom are farmers, should relocate to when their beaches invade their homes and fields?”

      I still have to see a farmer’s field next to a beach, at sea level.

    • Peter Lang says:

      There is genuine scientific consensus on the following points:

      – global temperatures have increased overall since 1880
      – humans are contributing to a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations
      – CO2 emits and absorbs infrared radiation

      For the most consequential issues, there remains considerable debate:

      – whether the warming since 1950 has been dominated by human causes
      – how much the planet will warm in the 21st century
      – whether warming is ‘dangerous’
      – whether radically reducing CO2 emissions will improve the climate and human well being

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    “anthropogenic CO2 rise is not irrefutably linked with current-era global temperature rises”????
    So the temperature rise in the last half of the eighteenth Century, nor the one 1920-40 wasn’t linked with anthropogenic CO2 rising, nor the temperature drop 1945-1975? Whereas the rise from 1975 to 1998 is irrefutable proof?
    If you are actually an engineer please send a list of structures that you have designed so that they may be avoided (the ones still standing will suffice).

    “if 100 climate scientists were manning the oars of a Roman galley” Great idea, but unlikely to be allowed.

  5. Gaznotprom says:

    Lol, 100 scientists – must be right.
    ‘Even in a minority of one, the truth is still the truth…’ Ghandi

    Good job Coal stores nicely in the ground for future generations and doesn’t quickly wear out and break unlike the ‘new tech’ of windmills & solar farms (especially the invertors)..

  6. climanrecon says:

    Those concerned about Scottish/Irish/UK electricity security may want to follow what is happening in South Australia and Tasmania, both of which seem to have similar religious attachments to renewable energy. The electricity supply in South Australia is poised on a cliff edge:

    *Maximum Actual Demand: 3400 MW
    *Maximum Dispactable Supply (from 2018): 2000 MW
    *Maximum Interconnector Supply: 870 MW

    Deficit is 630 MW. Would a reputable grid operator input wind/solar without any dispactable backup to cover fluctuations?

    Following these big-picture numbers is relatively easy, sources for them are given here:

    • Greg Kaan says:

      The maximum demand is likely to be lower now due to the closure of some industrial plants since 2011 (any guesses why they closed??).

      But I agree and posted a similar comment a little while back.

      Scotland and South Australia will be in a race for the first total grid collapse due to lack of wind around the end of this year (winter for Scotland, summer for South Australia) as demand peaks for due to heating/cooling requirements.

  7. robertok06 says:

    Typical “green” nonsense:

    “The sun provided British homes and businesses with more power than coal-fired power stations for 24 hours last weekend. ”

    Excuse me???? Photovoltaics provided electricity for 24 straight hours?

    Try again, with less BS, please.

  8. Dave Ward says:

    “Climate Change” does not impact my happiness, but the constant stream of scaremongering most certainly does!

  9. Colin MacDonald says:

    I live in a the center of a coastal city (Aberdeen) and even a sea level rise of 50 meters wouldn’t affect my home. A 9 meter rise would affect some people but it certainly wouldn’t destroy the entire city, Scotland’s other coastal cities would be similarly affected. James Hansen seems to think that all coastal cities share the same geography as lower Manhattan. If he’s so ignorant of basic geography I don’t have put much confidence in his climate prognostications.

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