Blowout Week 138

This week’s Blowout features the arrival within the next few weeks of the first of many shiploads of US fracked shale gas scheduled to be delivered to Scotland, which fracking supporters hope will “undermine arguments against fracking for shale gas in Scotland’s central belt”. The SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS painted on the ships’ sides alone (inset) will be like a red rag to a bull to the anti-frackers, so prepare for protests:

GWPF:  Arrival Of US Shale Gas Raises Pressure On Scottish Nationalists

Industry insiders have confirmed that the first of a fleet of “Dragon-class” ships, each capable of transporting huge quantities of the shale gas ethane, will dock within the next seven weeks.

The shipment into the Ineos petrochemical complex at Grangemouth is expected to trigger environmental protests by campaigners who believe that the imports will undermine arguments against fracking for shale gas in Scotland’s central belt. The ship, likely to be the Intrepid, will be hard to miss. Not only is she 590 feet long, but the slogan “Shale Gas for Progress” is emblazoned on her side — promoting the gas extraction technique which is still dividing communities and experts. With fracking in the UK moving rapidly up the political agenda, the first shipment to arrive in Scotland for processing will put further pressure on Nicola Sturgeon’s government to make a decision on the controversial energy source for Scotland. The Scottish government has imposed a moratorium on all fracking and the first minister has made it clear that she will only authorise the extraction method in Scotland if she is convinced there will be no damage to the environment.

Falkirk Herald:  Ineos boss urges government to speed up fracking decision

Petrochemical giants Ineos has challenged the Scottish Government to reconsider the timetable it has set on making a decision about whether unconventional gas extraction should be allowed. Just days after Prime Minister Theresa May announced consultation on a Shale Wealth Fund that could be worth thousands of pounds to householders in England affected by ‘fracking’, a senior member of the company has asked why Scotland is still ‘dithering’ over the issue while our neighbours in the south look ready to benefit from a cash bonanza. Holyrood imposed a moratorium on the controversial process in January last year and it will remain in place until the SNP Government has made its evidence-led decision, probably next summer. But Gary Haywood, the chief executive officer of Ineos Shale, has asked if it really should take that long. To keep competitive and the Grangemouth plant in business, Ineos have taken matters into their own hands. Next month will see the first cargo of ethane sourced from shale gas arrive at Grangemouth from the United States. The tanker will be the first of many, creating a virtual pipeline running from fields in the eastern United States to UK industry. Mr Haywood said: “This shale gas-sourced ethane has provided a new lease of life to the Grangemouth site. The £1.5 billion total commitment made by Ineos to establish this supply will enable Grangemouth to deliver a sustainable profit and secure thousands of jobs.”

CNBC:  Oil price surges as OPEC brings bulls back into market

Oil prices surged dramatically in the last two weeks thanks to OPEC freeze talk, but there’s little expectation the cartel will act, especially now that crude is trading 24 percent higher just on hot air. Oil, up nearly 9 percent this week alone, has raced higher since West Texas Intermediate crude futures dipped below $40 per barrel in early August. In just 16 days, oil futures are approaching $50 – settling at $48.52 per barrel Friday. While analysts say oil could back off its highs, there’s a more bullish tone to the market. Investors are building new long positions, offsetting a major short position, which has been whittled away from record levels by short covering. “These elevated prices may last a bit just because the market has given so much reward to the rhetoric right now,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. OPEC on Aug. 8 said it would meet on the sidelines of an energy conference in Algiers in late September, which will also be attended by non-OPEC producers. OPEC’s biggest producer Saudi Arabia last week confirmed it was on board with discussing actions if prices remain low, and that gave much more credibility to the talks. Since the Saudis officially joined in, oil has risen more than 15 percent.

Bloomberg:  OPEC’s Former Head Says Conditions Right for Oil-Freeze Deal

OPEC is on course to strike an output-freeze deal with fellow oil producers in Algiers next month because its biggest members are already pumping flat-out, the group’s former president said. While a similar initiative failed in April, an agreement can now be reached as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and non-member Russia are producing at, or close to, maximum capacity, Chakib Khelil said in a Bloomberg Television interview. Khelil steered OPEC in 2008, the last time it implemented an output cut, which was announced in Algeria in December of that year. In a separate interview, former Qatari Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah was convinced there is a need for an accord. “All the conditions are set for an agreement,” Khelil said from Washington. “Probably this is the time because most of the big countries like Russia, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are reaching their top production level. They have gained all the market share they could gain.” As producers are almost pumping at full-tilt, the impact of any accord to prevent further increases would essentially be “psychological,” Khelil said. That would nonetheless have a benefit for the market, according to the Algerian, who was also the country’s energy minister from 1999 to 2010. The global crude oversupply is already diminishing, and markets will probably reach “complete equilibrium” next year, Khelil said.

Oil & Gas 360:  The Oil and Gas Supercycle

James Constas, Managing Director of EnerCom spoke at The Oil and Gas Conference 21 on Thursday morning. Constas spoke about the cyclical nature of the oil and gas cycle, the dynamics of the current cycle and what might lie ahead. By Constas’ calculations, since 1975, the oil and gas industry has been through 12 major peak-to-trough cycles, as measured by rig count. Currently, rig counts in the low to mid 400s points toward what appears to be the bottom of the current cycle, Constas said. The market existed largely in equilibrium from 1986 to 2002, with more recent volatility in oil price being attributed to the dynamic of a “super cycle,” described by Constas as a period with a dramatic rise and/or fall in the price of oil. This is opposed to a more normal cycle where the price of oil is subject to change, but not nearly as dramatic as the price swing within a super cycle. With the fall in oil price from over $100 per barrel to under $30 per barrel, the most recent down swing in the cycle has been among the most dramatic changes ever. For E&P companies, the downswing has led to costs reductions and increased efficiencies. For Oil Service companies, the downswing has caused companies to reduce workforce, focus on the best crews and the best methods, and reductions in drilling time—a tremendous cost savings that is passed on to the E&Ps.

Business Insider:  Oil rig count climbs for 8th straight week

The US oil rig count rose by 10 to 406 this week, according to driller Baker Hughes. That’s the highest level since February 19, 2016. The gas rig count was unchanged at 83, and the total rig count gained 10 to 491. Last week, the oil rig count jumped by 15. Producers have been bringing rigs back online amid a recovery in oil prices. On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate crude reentered a bull market, having gained 22% since it bottomed below $40 per barrel early in August. On Friday, WTI futures were little changed after the rig count data, up 0.03% to $48.25 in New York.

Sputnik News:  Russia’s Rosatom Plans to Design High-Capacity Nuclear Project With Super Reactor

Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation plans to develop a conceptual project of a high-capacity nuclear power plant (NPP) equipped with the so-called super Water-Water Energetic Reactor (WWER). The project is estimated to be completed by 2023, according to Rosatom’s 2030 innovative development and technological modernization program published Tuesday.The WWER is expected to have dramatically improved indicators on nuclear fuel use, allowing to reuse major part of the spent fuel after reprocessing. Super WWER reactors are expected to be able to work in a closed nuclear fuel cycle along with fast neutron reactors. Rosatom also plans to draft a feasibility study and a terms of reference for the most economically efficient nuclear power plant unit in 2027, according to the published program. As part of the effort, Rosatom’s program sets a 2020 deadline to develop source data and technical specifications for the world’s most efficient unit, an optimized 1,250-1,255MW WWER-TOI nuclear reactor. The project intends to exceed the US-Japanese Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000 nuclear power plant in efficiency while maintaining advanced safety features.

World Nuclear News:  Russian fast reactor reaches full power

Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant started operating at 100% power for the first time today. The BN-800 fast neutron reactor is scheduled to enter commercial operation later this year. Plant operator Rosenergoatom said, “Thus begins the procedure of comprehensive testing of the unit at its rated power. This procedure is a major and final condition in preparation for the delivery of power in commercial operation.” It added, “During the 15-day comprehensive test the unit will have to confirm that it is able to consistently run at the rated power load in accordance with the design parameters, without deviation.” On completion of the comprehensive test, Rosenergoatom is required to obtain permission from the Russian nuclear regulator, Rostechnadzor, to operate the reactor commercially. Since the beginning of this year, during its ascent to full power, Beloyarsk 4 has generated more than 1.3 billion kWh of electricity. It is planned to produce 3.5 billion kWh during the whole of 2016. The 789 MWe BN-800 Beloyarsk 4 is fuelled by a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. Its capacity exceeds that of the world’s second most powerful fast reactor – the 560 MWe BN-600 Beloyarsk 3.

VOA News:  Nuclear Developers Have Big Plans for Pint-sized Power Plants in UK

A range of mini-nuclear power plants could help solve Britain’s looming power crunch, rather than the $24 billion Hinkley project snarled up in delays, companies developing the technology say. So-called small modular reactors (SMRs) use existing or new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of larger plants and would be able to produce around a tenth of the electricity created by large-scale projects, such as Hinkley. The mini plants, still under development, would be made in factories, with parts small enough to be transported on trucks and barges to sites where they could be assembled in around six to 12 months, up to a tenth of the time it takes to build some larger plants. “The real promise of SMRs is their modularization. You can assemble them in a factory with an explicable design meaning consistent standards and predicable costs and delivery timescale,” said Anurag Gupta, director and global lead for power infrastructure at consultancy KPMG. Manufacturing advancements mean SMR developers are only a few years from being able to replicate this technology on a smaller scale, and plants could be ready for deployment by the mid-2020s.

Asahi Shimbuns:  TEPCO’s ‘ice wall’ failing at Fukushima

An expert panel with the Nuclear Regulation Authority received a report from TEPCO on the current state of the project on Aug. 18. The experts said the ice wall project, almost in its fifth month, has shown little or no success.“The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing,” said panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University. “They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plan.” One big problem hampering work at the nuclear plant, which was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has been the tons of groundwater entering the buildings housing the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors every day.The water becomes contaminated with radioactive materials within the reactor buildings. TEPCO’s plan was to create a frozen wall of earth around the reactor buildings to divert the groundwater away from the plant and into the ocean. But the amount of groundwater pumped from the ocean side of the frozen wall has shown little change from when there was no icy earth wall. TEPCO’s report said 99 percent of thermometer readings on the 820-meter-long stretch showed temperatures of freezing or lower, suggesting the underground wall was frozen solid at those points. However, the remaining 1 percent of the readings above freezing were in areas with high levels of groundwater concentration. A 99-percent success rate may sound impressive, but much like dams, airlocks and Tupperware, TEPCO’s ice wall is failing if it is not 100-percent watertight.

Nuclear Stret:  World Energy Production Up 1.5 percent In 2014

Energy data compiled by the International Energy Agency, a global study group based in Paris, found that world energy production rose 1.5 percent from 2013 to 2014 with much of the gain – 81 percent – coming from fossil fuels. Production among fossil fuels, however, rose 0.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to available data, with a 3.1 percent decrease in the use of coal, which was offset by increases in oil and natural gas use, up 3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. A global perspective on energy use is an eye-opener that highlights the use of renewable sources, while making strides, remains an all but insignificant factor in the greater scheme of things. “While wind and solar PV continued their fast growth – 11 percent and 35 percent, respectively,” the annual study showed, together they account for just 1 percent of the globe’s energy production. Hydro alone produces 2.4 percent of the world’s energy, gaining at a rate of 2.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. In terms of the fuel mix, the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development countries, with 35 member states comprising the world’s most significant economies, increased the use of oil, 36 percent of total primary energy supply (TPES), by 1 percent, with the use of natural gas (26 percent of TPES) rose 2 percent in 2015. Among the OECD, nuclear “remains stable,” the report said, at 10 percent of TPES, with Asia-Oceania increasing its use, while Europe decreased.

Investopedia:  General Electric Bets on a Coal Future

After years of advocating for the use of nuclear energy, General Electric Co (GE) has shifted tracks to coal. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the company is “bullish” about the fuel and intends to ramp up its involvement with it. GE will build coal plants in emerging markets hungry for coal, such as India and China, and ramp up GE Power’s business in upgrading existing coal plants in the U.S. and Europe. There are several triggers for the change in strategy. Despite dire predictions about its future, coal will continue to corner a substantial portion of the future energy market. The market for coal is expected to remain healthy in the coming years with non-OECD countries picking up the slack in consumption in the Western economies. GE’s $9.5 billion acquisition of French power giant Alstom S.A. is another reason for its pivot towards coal. The French giant has more than 20% of the world’s installed steam turbine capacity and a lucrative technology and services business. Third, the Journal report states that GE will make money by upgrading existing coal plants. According to GE, a single percentage point increase in the efficiency of a coal plant would translate into $20 million in added value over the next 10 years and result in a 3% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Finally, there is the profit imperative. After divesting off its financial arm and returning to its industrial roots, GE is looking to revive growth again. Coal is a low-hanging fruit for the company, given its recent acquisition and its expertise through its in-house unit.

Reuters:  After years of pain, coal becomes one of the hottest commodities of 2016

Less than a year after the coal industry was declared to be in terminal decline, the fossil fuel has staged its steepest price rally in over half a decade, making it one of the hottest major commodities. Cargo prices for Australian thermal coal from its Newcastle terminal, seen as the Asian benchmark, have soared over 35 percent since mid-June to more than one-year highs of almost $70 a tonne, pushed by surprise increases in Chinese imports. “Coal markets, after five years of declining prices, appear to have found a bottom in the first quarter,” Australia’s Whitehaven Coal said on Thursday, as its shares hit a three-year high on the release of its annual results. “Reasons for the increase in prices include mine closures in Indonesia, United States and Australia and policy change by Chinese authorities,” Whitehaven said, adding it was confident that coal prices will rise. Goldman Sachs, reversing a gloomy outlook it issued last September, said this week restrictions on domestic production by Chinese regulators had turned coal “into one of the best performing commodities so far this year.” Global mining majors like Glencore and Anglo American, but also regional Asian players like Whitehaven and Thailand’s Banpu, are reaping the benefits.

Utility Dive:  US Energy-related CO2 emissions from natural gas will surpass coal in 2016

According to EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, energy-related CO2 emissions from natural gas will be 10% greater than those from coal in 2016. The agency said gas consumption results in about 52 million metric tons of CO2 for every quadrillion British thermal units, while coal’s carbon intensity is about 95 MMmtCO2/quad Btu — more than 80% higher than gas’s carbon intensity, on average. “Annual carbon intensity rates in the United States have generally been decreasing since 2005,” EIA said in a research note posted this week. As the country has shifted away from coal, that has helped lower the carbon-intensity measure. “Another contributing factor to lower carbon intensity is increased consumption of fuels that produce no carbon dioxide, such as nuclear-powered electricity and renewable energy,” EIA said. “As these fuels make up a larger share of U.S. energy consumption, the U.S. average carbon intensity declines.” The United States’ total total carbon intensity has declined from 60 MMmtCO2/quad Btu in 2005 to 54 MMmtCO2/quad Btu in 2015.

ABC News:   May Reassures China After Nuclear Power Plant Delay

Prime Minister Theresa May has attempted to allay disquiet about her surprise delay to a Chinese-backed nuclear power plant by reassuring China’s leader that Britain wants strong relations with Beijing. Foreign Office Minister Alok Sharma delivered a letter from May to President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing. May’s office did not publish the full letter, but said Tuesday it was about “reassuring the Chinese of our commitment to Anglo-Chinese relations.” In it, May said Britain “looks forward to strengthening co-operation with China on trade and business and on global issues.” China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, warned last week that relations were at a “crucial historical juncture” after the U.K. government’s abruptly delayed a decision on the Hinkley Point power plant. May surprised the business world last month by announcing a review of the power project in southwest England, financed by a Chinese nuclear power provider and French energy giant EDF. She said the government would announce its decision later in the year. The delay threw into doubt the “golden era” of ties proclaimed by Xi during a visit to Britain last year.

Reuters:  China blasts Australian blocking of grid sale

China voiced anger on Friday over a decision by Australia to rule out on security grounds the preferred Chinese bidders for an energy grid potentially worth more than $7 billion and restart the sale process. Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison, who must approve major foreign investments, formally blocked the sale of Ausgrid to State Grid Corp of China and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings earlier in the day. The disqualification of State Grid and Cheung Kong Infrastructure prompted the state of New South Wales (NSW) to restart the tender process for a majority stake in the grid. “The NSW Government will now move immediately to relaunch the transaction process for the partial lease of Ausgrid and notes the strong market interest for this valuable asset,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a statement. The decision to halt the A$10 billion ($7.6 billion) sale has caused a rift with China, Australia’s biggest trade partner, just eight months after their A$100 billion free trade agreement took effect. China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on its website that the decision showed uncertainty in Australia’s investment environment and would seriously hurt the willingness of Chinese companies to invest in the country. State Grid said it “found it hard to understand and deeply regretted” the decision, adding it had followed regulations set by Australia in its bid and met all the bidding requirements.

Bloomberg:  Offshore Wind Could Replace Hinkley at Same Cost

Britain could scrap the 18 billion-pound ($23 billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point and get the same amount of electricity from offshore wind turbines for roughly the same investment. That’s the assessment of Bloomberg New Energy Finance following Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to review whether to proceed with the first new atomic plant in more than three decades. For the same capital costs, the U.K. could install about 830 new turbines at sea, which would generate 25 terawatt hours a year — the same amount of power the Hinkley reactors would produce, according to the London-based researcher. The findings add to the debate over whether Electricite de France SA’s proposal makes economic sense. With the cost of offshore wind turbines falling, developers led by Dong Energy A/S of Denmark are promoting renewables as a better way to get energy without the emissions that cause global warming.“If we had 18 billion to spend today, we could build 5.7 gigawatts of offshore wind ¬– just under double the capacity and generating the same level of power as Hinkley Point,” said Keegan Kruger, analyst for BNEF. The BNEF assessment includes only the capital cost of erecting various forms of generation, not operating expenses or the price of fuel. It also sidesteps the question of what would have to be invested to create storage at a giant scale capable of smoothing out power delivered from renewables when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

Bloomberg:  Solar Sells in Chile for Cheapest Ever at Half the Price of Coal

The Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica won contracts to sell power from a 120-megawatt solar plant for $29.10 a megawatt-hour at an energy auction this week. That’s the lowest price on record for electricity from sunshine, surpassing a deal in Dubai in May. It’s the cheapest to date for any kind of renewable energy, and was almost half the price of coal power sold in the same event. According to Solarpack General Director Inigo Malo de Molina, it’s one of the lowest rates ever for any kind of electricity, anywhere. “Solar energy technology has evolved and proved it is competitive,” Molina said in a telephone interview from Santiago Thursday. “Prices for electricity generation have changed drastically in the last years. Solar energy in Chile is now the cheapest in the market.” A key part of the low price is the ever-declining price for solar panels. The average price on the spot market declined this week to 44.7 cents a watt for standard polysilicon panels, a record low. The location for this particular power plant is also a factor, in northern Chile’s Atacama desert. It’s high in the Andes, close to the equator and is considered one of the sunniest and driest places on Earth. It’s ideal for solar energy, and will generate more electricity than projects in areas that get less sunshine. Chile’s government is planning to complete transmission lines that will let the solar farm deliver power to the entire country, which prompted Solarpack and other developers to bid so low, Molina said.

Fortune:   Big Batteries Will Help Bring Clean Energy to San Diego

On Thursday AES Energy Storage announced that it’s won two contracts with utility San Diego Gas & Electric to develop two battery projects—in the cities of Escondido and El Cajon—that will total 37.5 megawatts in capacity. That means combined the battery farms will be able to supply 37.5 megawatts on demand to the utility for a four-hour period whenever the utility might need it. It’s not a ton of energy on demand, but San Diego Gas & Electric can use the batteries to store excess solar and wind energy, and tap into that power when their customers are using a lot of electricity, like on a hot summer’s day. 37.5 megawatts is about the size of a small solar farm; a large natural gas or coal plant can generate several hundred megawatts of power. It won’t be the biggest project by AES in California. That would be a more than 100 megawatt project for utility Southern California Edison in the Los Angeles area. But the San Diego projects are still pretty big considering these projects are just starting to get built.

Politico:   Oil-rich Norway could become Europe’s ‘green battery’

Norway is already taking some early steps in shifting from supplying only its own 5 million people with electricity to becoming a crucial part of the EU’s energy system. The country exports hydro power to the Netherlands and exchanges renewables with Sweden and Finland, and there are plans for similar green exchanges with Germany and the United Kingdom within the next five years. But the marquee project is with Denmark, a country that relies heavily on wind energy. Norway imports Denmark’s excess wind-generated power and sends hydro-generated electricity back when the wind isn’t blowing, allowing Denmark to rely on renewables for about 40 percent of its electricity needs. “You can clearly see that the Danish system, with so much wind and very little base load, would not be able to operate without hydro power,” said Auke Lont, the CEO of Statnett, the state-owned company that operates Norway’s grid. While Norwegian companies are eager to boost power links with Europe, some officials caution against doing too much too quickly, arguing there are still kinks to be worked out in the grid. But advocates say it has enormous potential. Other Norwegian officials tried to pour a little cold water on the most optimistic projections. “I don’t believe in the expression ‘green battery’ because it creates the image of Norway supplying Europe with energy,” Lien, the energy minister, said. “I would call it ‘capacity companion.’ Let’s face it, we’re huge on gas. We’re large on [hydro]. But we can’t power Europe ourselves,” he added.

Australian:  Call for moratorium on new South Australia wind farms until power solution found

South Australia’s power crisis was a “wake-up call” for other states on the impact on consumers of subsidised renewable energy, particularly wind power, a Liberal senator has warned. Chris Back called for a moratorium on new wind farms, and no more subsidies for wind energy generators until the Productivity Commission conducted a cost-¬benefit analysis of the effect the industry was having on the ¬National Electricity Market and retail electricity costs. “There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure. There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Senator Back said. The state government applied pressure to accelerate upgrade works on the state’s Heywood ¬Interconnector with Victoria to bring it back online two days ear¬lier than forecast. The connector, operated by private company ElectraNet, was offline when wholesale electricity prices spiked from an average of $100 per megawatt hour to almost $14,000/MWh on July 7, and triggered major businesses to threaten shutdowns. The sapping of power by wind turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the ¬crisis was also blamed for the price surge in the state, which is 40 per cent relian¬t on wind and solar power generation since the closure of Alinta’s coal-fired power station in May. The upgraded interconnector would increase its capacity to 650MW in both directions over the next few months, but leaves South Australian consumers ¬reliant on wind and solar for 40 per cent of the energy mix, paying double the wholesale electricity price paid in eastern states.

Guardian:   South Australia’s ‘absurd’ electricity prices: renewables are not to blame

What has sparked all the concern has been a doubling in the contract price in South Australia’s wholesale electricity market which unfolded after June last year when it was announced South Australia’s coal power stations would be permanently shut down. Prices increased from around $50 per megawatt-hour up to something around $95 now.Also South Australia does have one the world’s highest shares of wind and solar in its electricity mix – 36% last financial year . To be financially viable, wind and solar generally require prices for their power that are higher than what our other existing power generators receive. Putting two and two together, some in the media appear to have concluded wind and solar must be responsible for price rises. Yet wholesale market data suggests renewable energy has actually been depressing power prices, not increasing them. In the months before and after the Northern Coal Power Station was taken off-line, South Australia’s wind farms, without exception, bid their entire available output into the market for a price less than a single dollar. Meanwhile rooftop solar doesn’t even bid into the market, with its output just reducing the demand for generators that do bid into the wholesale market. This is not to suggest renewable energy imposes no costs. It is certainly true that wind and solar require a subsidy, but its cost is distributed equally across all electricity consumption around the nation via the federal Renewable Energy Target scheme. It isn’t allocated to states depending on how many wind farms or solar panels they have installed.

Biomass Magazine:   DBEIS releases 2016 Digest of U.K. Energy Statistics

Final energy consumption increased 0.4 percent due to the cooler weather experienced in 2015 compared to 2014. On a temperature-adjusted basis, final energy consumption was down 0.8 percent, continuing the downward trend of the last 10 years. Electricity generated from renewable sources during 2015 in the U.K. rose 29 percent from 2014, and accounted for 25 percent (83.6 TWh) of total U.K. electricity generation, an increase from 19.1 percent in 2014. Installed electrical generating capacity of renewable sources increased by 23 percent or 5.7 GW to 30.5 GW in 2015, mainly due to high deployment of large-scale capacity of solar photovoltaic under the Renewable Obligation that resulted in a 69 percent increase (3.8 GW) in this category. In 2015, bioenergy accounted for 71 percent of renewable energy sources used. Renewables accounted for 16.7 million metric tons of oil equivalent of priority energy, of which, 12.1 million metric tons was used to generate electricity, 3.5 million metric tons was used for heat, and 1 million metric tons for road transport..Total renewables measured by the 2009 EU Renewables Directive accounted for 8.3 percent of energy consumption in 2015, an increase from 7.1 percent in 2014. Also, in 2015, CHP capacity stood at 5,692 MW, a decrease of 202 MW from 2014.

Edie:  UK Governments have succeeded on renewables but failed on energy security, say business leaders

A poll of 998 directors, conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD), reveals that Britain’s business leaders believe UK green policy to have been successful in increasing the use of renewable energy sources (59% agreed) and reducing carbon emissions (45% agreed), since Tony Blaire’s Labour Government first pivoted in that direction in 2002. However, seven in 10 of the directors believe the Labour, Coalition and Conservative administrations have all failed to make energy available at a reasonable cost. Two-thirds also complained that politicians had not succeeded in ensuring the UK would always have the power it needs.

When asked about Britain’s future energy mix, the majority of business directors support all mainstream forms of renewable power generation, although the most popular – wave and tidal – is still largely untested in the UK. Interestingly, more than half (51%) of the 998 respondents also support fracking of shale rock for oil and gas as a way of extracting UK-based hydrocarbon resources.

Telegraph:  National Grid slashes its new power plant forecasts

National Grid has slashed its forecasts for the number of big new power plants expected to be built in coming years, while admitting its estimates for the growth of solar farms and other small-scale generators were almost 50 times too low. Just four years ago the company expected up to 33 gigawatts (GW) of new power plant capacity to be connected to its high voltage electricity transmission networks in England and Wales by 2021. But this forecast has now been cut to 14GW, the company said yesterday, due to delays to new nuclear reactors such as Hinkley Point, a hiatus in investment in new gas-fired power stations and delays to some offshore wind farms. At the same time, National Grid appears to have been completely blindsided by the rapid growth in small-scale generation such as solar panels and small wind farms that connect directly into lower-voltage distribution networks. In 2012 it anticipated that just 0.5GW of such generation would be connected between 2013 and 2021. In fact, almost 11GW has already connected and a further 13GW is forecast, primarily due to the boom in subsidised solar as the costs of the technology plummeted. The figures, which underline the radical changes underway in the UK electricity system, emerged after regulator Ofgem proposed cutting National Grid’s budget for upgrades to the transmission network due to “fewer generators connecting to the high voltage grid”.

Wall Street Journal:   California’s Cow Police

Having mandated emissions reductions from fossil fuels, California’s relentless progressives are seeking to curb the natural gas emanating from dairy farms. The California Air Resources Board has pumped out regulations to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and the board worries that its climate agenda could be jeopardized by natural phenomena. To wit, cow manure and “enteric fermentation” (flatulence), which account for half of the state’s methane emissions. According to the board, methane is a “short-lived climate pollutant” with “an outsized impact on climate change in the near term.” Democratic lawmakers want to mandate a 40% reduction in methane by 2030, and the board is pondering ways to do it. “If dairy farms in California were to manage manure in a way to further reduce methane emissions,” the board explains, “a gallon of California milk might be the least GHG intensive in the world.” And the most expensive. Many California dairy farms have already been converted into nut farms, which are more economical amid the state’s high regulatory costs. The board suggests that dairy farms purchase technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to consumers. Yet the regulators acknowledge that most ideas involve environmental trade-offs and are not cost-effective without substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits that can be sold to fossil-fuel producers.

Ecobusiness:  The world’s first zero-carbon beer

The postcard pretty village of Göss, just two hours from Vienna, is home to 25,000 people, the pristine Mur River which leads out into the Danube, and yes, lots and lots of beer. But it isn’t just fine quality beer that’s brewing in the village. Göss is also home to the Gösser Brewery, the world’s first large-scale zero-carbon brewery. Owned and operated by the Heineken Group, the world’s third-largest beer maker, the Gösser Brewery relaunched as a zero-carbon facility in June. The brewery produces 1.4 million bottles of beer every day using a mix of entirely renewable energy sources, including solar, hydropower, biogas and waste heat. This has brought its carbon emissions down from 3,000 tonnes a year to zero. Andreas Werner, brew master at Gösser Brewery said: “Our Göss brewery may be in a small town but our goal was to make a big impact. I am proud of what we have achieved for the Heineken Group and want to help our other breweries and the wider brewing industry make renewable energy part of their energy mix, just as we have done.” To power its production, the Gösser Brewery uses 100 per cent hydropower sources for electricity, 35 per cent from biomass for heating, 10 per cent from bio gas from waste water, 3-5 per cent from a solar plant, and 50 per cent from biogas generated from the spent grain fermentation tank.

Science Magazine: How Zebra finches prepare their eggs for climate change

Scientists have long worried whether animals can respond to the planet’s changing climate. Now, a new study reports that at least one species of songbird—and likely many more—already knows how to prep its chicks for a warming world. They do so by emitting special calls to the embryos inside their eggs, which can hear and learn external sounds. When the chicks hatched, those that had listened to the incubation calls were more vocal than the control nestlings. What’s more, the chicks that had been exposed to the incubation calls weighed less than the controls, they report online today in Science. That could be an advantageous adaptation in a hot environment, the scientists argue. They clinched their results with data on the success of the chicks: When kept in hot conditions, the lower weight chicks did indeed go on to produce more fledglings in their first breeding season than did the control birds. But the control birds were more successful in cooler conditions. And the incubation calls may have other lasting effects. For two breeding seasons, the males that heard these sounds preferred nesting boxes that were hot, whereas the control males chose cooler homes.

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17 Responses to Blowout Week 138

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    Noting that the first shale gas imports to Scotland are ethane and not methane – I wonder if anyone in the Scottish government knows the difference? BP built a large petrochemicals industry in Scotland on the back of North Sea oil. Selling out to INEOS in one of these mystery deals many years ago, INEOS are trying to keep things going but evidently deprived of an essential raw material – C2H6.

    The Scottish Government at least has balls. Committed to closing down CO2 emissions, petrochemicals and nuclear power. We are destined to run on sustainable energy and lots of very cold air.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    An extraordinary comment by The Guardian that renewables were not to blame for the price hikes in South Australia. After commenting that wind (and solar) need subsidies they point out that they were selling at low prices until the coal fired plant shut down. Then they claim that the cost of the subsidies for SA wind are spread over the Australian coal and gas fired industry so they couldn’t have raised prices. It was all due to the inter-connector not being connected so SA had to rely on wind and gas. So where was the cheap wind then?
    The real reason is the unreliability of wind, and the incompetence and gullibility of the State government who let conventional producers make losses competing with subsidised output and failed to get the necessary infrastructure in place.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      The article was written by Tristan Edis – a member of the Melbourne Energy Institute as well as being Director of Analysis and Advisory at Green Energy Markets (a renewables lobby group).

      His qualification are a Bachelor degree in economics.

      It’s suitable fodder for the readership of The Guardian but is as realistic as RenewEconomy (where coincidentally, Tristan is also a contributor).

    • donoughshanahan says:

      The other notable thing about the article was that it was calling for more electricity to be supplied despite claiming that demand was being met. In other words it wanted electricity to be thrown away.

      Clearly this indicates that it is an issue with what is supplying the demand as opposed to what could be. But the opposite comes out.

  3. Dave Ward says:

    “The world’s first zero-carbon beer”

    Which (presumably) doesn’t contain any CO2 to give it a traditional frothy head? I wouldn’t have thought there was much demand for “flat” beer…

  4. A C Osborn says:

    Britain has DUMB Business Directors.
    They disagree that Energy has become more Secure or Cheaper and at the same time support Renewables.
    They can’t seem to equate that the Insecurity and expense is being caused by the Renewable policies.

  5. Has anyone noticed the division of opinion in the Bloomberg article on wind replacing Hinkley?

    Bloomberg New Energy Finance claims: Britain could scrap the 18 billion-pound ($23 billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point and get the same amount of electricity from offshore wind turbines for roughly the same investment.”

    But the Bloomberg article points out the obvious flaw in BNEF’s claim: The BNEF assessment ….. sidesteps the question of what would have to be invested to create storage at a giant scale capable of smoothing out power delivered from renewables when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

    Could it be that Bloomberg – normally a champion of all things green – is beginning to see the light?

  6. robertok06 says:

    @batteries in san diego

    “That means combined the battery farms will be able to supply 37.5 megawatts on demand to the utility for a four-hour period whenever the utility might need it.”

    Is this REALLY news? 37.5 MW in a hot city where the average household probably consumes 12 thousand kWh/year?….

  7. ristvan says:

    Interesting about Ineos and ethane shipped to Scotland from the US.
    The back story was in the WSJ some months ago, and also in Philadelphia papers recently.
    The natural gas Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania is rich in ethane and NGLs. Shell is building a $multibillion ethylene cracker near Pittsburg to use Marcellus ethane.
    Range Resources, a big early Marcellus fracker, did a three way deal with Sunoco and Ineos. Range separates the ethane from methane at its new NGL gas processing facilities in western Pennsylvania. Sends the natural gas to New York and New England via new connections to existing pipelines coming from West Texas and Louisianna. Ships propane and butane mainly by rail. Feeds the ethane into a new 200 mile Sunoco pipeline to the port of Marcus Hook near Philly, where Sunoco built a liquifaction plant. Total Sunoco ethane investment $2.5 billion. Loads the liquified ethane onto new purpose built Ineos LNG tankers for shipment to Europe. The Scottish shipment is actually the second by Ineos. The first was to an Ineos petrochem plant in Norway.

    The Marcellus in Pennsylvania alone (not West Virginia, Ohio, or NewYork) has enough TRR to last over 50 years on this Ineos supply chain even after the Shell plant comes on line near Pittsburg. That was figured with recovery factors of 12-15%. Improved fracking techniques developed the last 3 years (closer lateral spacing, more sand proppant , closer spaced plug and perf replacing sleeve fracks) suggests Range may be able to get 25% recovery. And under the Marcellus lies the Utica shale, which is several times thicker and, except for oil in the shallow western Ohio end, all natural gas, ethane, and NGLs like the Marcellus. Unlike peak oil, peak natural gas has been pushed back many decades by fracking.

    • ristvan says:

      Four minor fact corrections/additions as I read more sources after posting. The new Sunoco pipeline is 300 miles, not 200. Sunoco is also marketing some of the Range NGLs out of Marcus Hook (one presumes to Europe), shipped via the new pipeline. Ineos bought 8 identical LNG transport ships to finish its ‘virtual pipeline’ to Europe; all have the same message painted on the sides. The new Sunoco facility is on the site of an old decommissioned refinery.

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