Blowout Week 142

Usually I have to think for a bit before selecting a lead article for Blowout. But this week the lead article pretty much selects itself – and there are no prizes for guessing what it is:

Mail:   Hinkley Point nuclear power plant FINALLY gets green light

Theresa May has finally given the go-ahead for the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant despite fears over Chinese control and huge long-term costs. The government announced its approval for the £18billion project after securing tweaks to the agreement. There will also be ‘significant new safeguards’ on future foreign investment in nuclear power.

Ministers said they had imposed ‘significant new safeguards’ for future foreign investment in critical infrastructure. A statement said: ‘Following a comprehensive review of the Hinkley Point C project, and a revised agreement with EDF, the Government has decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation. However, ministers will impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s critical infrastructure, which will include nuclear energy and apply after Hinkley.’ A senior Whitehall source said Prime Minister Theresa May had accepted there was ‘no Plan B’ for keeping Britain’s civil nuclear sector alive if the controversial project was scrapped. Chinese firm CGN welcomed the Hinkley decision, and said it was now ‘able to move forward and deliver’ nuclear capacity at the separate Sizewell and Bradwell sites.

In this week’s bumper blowout: Hinkley Point C finally gets green light; KEPCO close to investing in new nuclear at Moorside; the oil at Gatwick Airport keeps on gushing; oil price tumbles as OPEC and IEA see oil glut continuing; Dutch gas (crucial to Europe) is in decline; Gazprom to increase gas exports to Europe; environmentalists oppose new gas pipeline to Europe; venture capital funds abandon clean energy; renewables losing ground in Japan; decarbonising transport in Europe is fanciful; solar panel glut in China; 40% of Ireland’s wind power curtailed; UK must add CCS to save consumers billions; UK electricity prices surge; first large scale tidal power deployed in Scotland; Stuart Paton on fracking, nuclear power and Scottish energy policy.

Carbon Brief:  Media reaction to Hinkley decision

Most newspapers had taken a sceptical view of the scheme. Editorial headlines included “No point in Hinkley” in the Times, “A nuclear error” in the Sun and “Hinkley Pointless” in the Economist. Now that the plant has been approved, a few papers have softened their tone. For example the Sun headline is: “Brits must try to look on the bright side of Hinkley Point nuclear deal”. The Daily Mail says the prime minister “may have had no option but to approve” Hinkley C. The Telegraph says: “We have had our misgivings … because the economic arguments were never entirely convincing.” Even so, it concludes: “Arguments…are now at an end. The imperative is to get on and build the plant and the four others in the pipeline.” Others remain sceptical. The Financial Times says the government’s planned new rules governing foreign investment in critical infrastructure could still “put the Hinkley project in doubt” if they are sufficiently stringent. “Hinkley C is an unproven design that comes at a punitive cost,” argues the Guardian. While “keeping the lights on without adding to global warming at a price that consumers can afford is complex…nuclear, with its lethal waste and high decommissioning costs, is no long-term solution.” The Guardian editorial says the worst aspect of Theresa May’s decision is that it could “[drive] out investment in other, smarter, solutions which are the real technologies of the future”. The prime minister has overlooked “dramatic advances and cost reductions in smart grid technology, solar power, energy storage and newer nuclear designs that could render Hinkley Point obsolete before it is completed,” the Times editorial argues. In the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says Hinkley C will be “obsolete before it even starts… [it] will be overtaken by a host of cheaper technologies before it is even opened in the late 2020s, and risks degenerating into an epic white elephant.”

Independent:  Overwhelming majority of British public oppose Theresa May’s decision to approve Hinkley Point

Three out of four Britons oppose the Hinkley nuclear power project that has just been approved by the Government, according to a poll. A quarter (25 per cent) of the 2,028 people surveyed in the Populus poll, conducted on 7-8 September, said they supported Hinkley, while nearly half (44 per cent) oppose the plans. The findings indicate a continuous decline in support for the project, following a previous poll in April this year that showed support was at 33 per cent, down from 57 per cent in 2013. It comes as Theresa May announced the Government had approved the project, but with new security conditions on the £18 billion deal. Business Secretary Greg Clark said Hinkley was an “important upgrade of our energy supplies” and a “major step forward” for the UK’s nuclear power programme, which he says could create 26,000 jobs. But Ms May’s decision prompted criticism, as it appeared likely the price promised to French-firm EDF for Hinkley’s electricity had not been lowered under new terms. There are also concerns over environmental issues. Green leader Caroline Lucas claimed that instead of investing in the “eye-wateringly expensive white-elephant, the Government should be doing all it can to support offshore wind, energy efficiency and innovative new technologies, such as energy storage.”

Utility Week:  South Korean company close to investing in Moorside nuclear plant

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) is close to investing in the £10 billion Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria, the Financial Times has reported. The company initially entered talks about joining the NuGen consortium, which is developing the project, three years ago. Negotiations have now resumed, according to four sources “with knowledge of the situation” which were quoted by the paper. The sources said progress has been made towards a potential equity stake for Kepco as well as possible role in construction. The company is 51 per cent owned the South Korean government, which has set the target of becoming the world’s third largest nuclear reactor exporter by 2030. The Moorside project is currently a joint venture between Engie and Toshiba. It will use three AP1000 reactors supplied by Westinghouse – the US-subsidiary of Toshiba. With a total capacity of up to 3.8GW, once operational it will meet around 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.

Reuters:  Nuclear sector aims to build 1,000 GW of new reactors by 2050

The world nuclear industry aims to build about 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear reactor capacity by 2050, World Nuclear Association Director-general Agneta Rising said on Thursday. Past installations have often been below 5 gigawatt (GW) or less per year, but in 2014 the industry built 5 GW, which doubled to 10 GW in 2015. One gigawatt is the equivalent of about one medium-size nuclear reactor. “We should be able to deliver 1,000 GW of new nuclear by 2050,” Rising said at the opening of the annual WNA conference in London. She said the target was for 10 GW per year from 2016 to 2020, rising to 25 GW per year from 2021 to 2025 and to 33 GW per year from 2026 to 2050. Rising said the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the 3.2 GW Hinkley Point project is an important boost for the industry. “We congratulate the UK government on going ahead with the Hinkley Point decision. It is important to have reliable low-carbon energy sources.”

Reuters:   China to build at least 60 nuclear plants in coming decade

China plans to build more than 60 nuclear plants in the coming decade, a top Chinese industry official said on Friday. Zheng Mingguang, vice president and chief nuclear designer at China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), told Reuters at the World Nuclear Association conference in London that China would build about 30 reactors in the next five years and more in the five years after that. He said that each of China’s major nuclear companies — SNPTC, CNNC and CGN — would start building a minimum of two new reactors a year. Zheng said that the 60 new plants would include between six and 10 CAP1000 reactors, which are Chinese versions of the AP1000 made by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse. The first batch of six will include CNNC building two new reactors at Sanmen in Zhejiang Province, where Westinghouse is set to complete construction of AP1000s for the plant’s first two units early next year. SNPTC will build two aditional reactors at Haiyang in Shandong province, where Westinghouse is also building two AP1000s. CGN will build two reactors at Lufeng in Guandong province.

NBC Chicago:   This Nuclear Power Plant Could Be Yours for $36.4 Million

After spending more than 40 years and $5 billion on an unfinished nuclear power plant in northeastern Alabama, the nation’s largest federal utility is preparing to sell the property at a fraction of its cost. The Tennessee Valley Authority has set a minimum bid of $36.4 million for its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and the 1,600 surrounding acres of waterfront property on the Tennessee River. The buyer gets two unfinished nuclear reactors, transmission lines, office and warehouse buildings, eight miles of roads, a 1,000-space parking lot and more. Initial bids are due Monday, and at least one company has publicly expressed interest in the site with plans to use it for alternative energy production. But TVA says it isn’t particular about what the purchaser does — using the site for power production, industrial manufacturing, recreation or even residences would all be fine with the agency, said spokesman Scott Fiedler. “It’s all about jobs and investment, and that’s our primary goal for selling this property,” said Fielder. Work began at Bellefonte in the mid-’70s on the backside of the nuclear energy boom in the United States. The utility initially planned to construct four reactors at the site, but demand for power in the region never met those early expectations and work halted in 1988. A series of starts and stops preceded TVA’s decision earlier this year to sell Bellefonte.

Energy Voice:  Doriemus reports 282 million barrels of oil per square mile in its UK Weald Basin discovery

Doriemus today revealed its Brockham-1 well in the UK’s Weald Basin contains 282 million barrels of oil per square mile. The figure was given as part of petrophysical analysis and reservoir intelligence report delivered by US-based firm Nutech. The Weald Basin well sits approximately 6 miles north west of Gatwick Airport. Executive chairman David Lenigas said: “The great advantage of the Brockham oil field is that it is already a producing oil field and any new production should be able to be put on line relatively quickly. This Nutech work for Doriemus has highlighted that the conventional Portland Sandstones and the Kimmeridge Limestones that were oil productive at the Horse Hill -1 well near Gatwick Airport are indeed evident at the nearby Brockham Oil Field. Doriemus looks forward to participating in the next phase of developing the oil potential of Brockham with the proposed drill of the next side track well designed to penetrate the Portland and the entire Kimmeridge sections of the well.” Nutech also carried out an assessment of the nearby Horse Hill-1 well, which is located 4.5 miles from the Brockham play. It reported a total of 158 MMBO OIP per square mile last year.

Bloomberg:   North Sea Proves Resilient to Oil-Price Slump

Oil producers in the North Sea were supposed to be among the first victims of OPEC’s battle for market share. Instead their high-cost, decades-old facilities are proving surprisingly resilient to the price slump. Crude oil and condensate output is likely to continue rising in the U.K. North Sea until 2018 as projects that were sanctioned before crude’s plunge four years ago start up, according to estimates by industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Even though production dips after that, output by the end of the decade will still be roughly equal to the 2015 level. The unexpected stamina of areas like the North Sea, where operators have proved adept at keeping the taps open to keep cash flowing, is adding to the global glut and keeping prices lower for longer. “Production has stayed resilient,” said Ian Thom, an Edinburgh-based senior research manager for U.K. upstream at Wood Mackenzie. “We saw a record number of dollars invested in the high-oil price environment,” and that is still delivering new production. Production of crude and condensate, a type of light oil, will top 1 million barrels a day in the U.K. North Sea this year, about 8 percent higher than last year, according to Wood Mackenzie. Output will reach 1.07 million barrels a day in 2017 and 1.11 million the next year before falling to about 956,000 barrels at the end of the decade.

Yahoo:  Oil tumbles 3 percent after both IEA, OPEC see glut persisting

Oil prices fell as much as 3 percent on Tuesday after both the world’s energy watchdog and OPEC revised forecasts that signaled the global crude glut could persist for much longer than expected. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises oil-consuming countries on their energy policies, said a sharp slowdown in oil demand growth, coupled with ballooning inventories and rising supply, means the market will be oversupplied at least through the first half of 2017. The IEA’s comments follow a surprisingly bearish outlook from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday that also pointed to a larger surplus next year due to new fields in non-member countries. U.S. shale drillers are also proving more resilient than expected to cheap crude, OPEC said. “It seems the situation has deteriorated strongly in the eyes of OPEC, as well as the IEA,” said Commerzbank head of commodities strategy Eugen Weinberg. A stronger dollar also weighed on crude and other commodities denominated in the U.S. unit, making them less affordable to holders of currencies such as the euro. U.S. equity markets were down nearly 2 percent, extending the bearish sentiment across risky markets.

Bloomberg:  Europe’s biggest natural gas producer running out of gas

The European Union’s biggest natural gas producer is running out of reserves. The Netherlands, also the region’s largest trading hub for the fuel, has used up almost 80 percent of its natural gas reserves, Dutch statistics office CBS said on Friday. Production fell 38 percent over the previous two years and is set to fall further as the government limits extraction because of earthquakes in Groningen, the province that houses the EU’s largest gas deposit, it said. The nation of about 17 million people is struggling to contain tremors linked to gas production by a joint venture of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc that has damaged thousands of homes. The government budget has been hit by the caps on extraction and declining wholesale prices, with gas accounting for just 3 percent of state income in 2015, down from 9 percent two years earlier, the CBS said. Groningen’s decline also has broader implications for the European gas market, which will be more reliant on outside countries to meet its energy needs. European and Eurasian countries consumed 1 trillion cubic meters of gas in 2015, according to the BP Statistical Review.

Platts:  Gazprom gas exports to Europe increase

Russian gas exports via pipeline to Europe and Turkey in the year to date are up by 9.4%, or 10.3 Bcm, compared with the same period last year, state-controlled gas giant Gazprom said Friday, pointing to continued strong flows so far in September. After a slump in exports in July, Gazprom’s supplies to Europe and Turkey — but not including the former Soviet Union countries — recovered in August. Supplies in the first eight months of 2016 were 10 Bcm higher than in the same period last year. Russian gas supplies to Germany rose by almost 28% year on year from January 1 to September 15, while exports to Austria were up 40% and to Denmark by a huge 222%. Russian gas exports to the UK rose by 55%, to France by 27%, to Poland by 20%, to the Netherlands by nearly 92%, to Greece by 59% and to Macedonia by 20%. Exports to the countries of the former Soviet Union are also up by 9.4% in the year to date compared with the same period of 2015.

Ecologist:  Azerbaijan-Italy gas pipeline defeats EU energy policy

Civil society campaigners have accused the European Union of pouring unprecedented amounts of state aid into a huge energy project that runs counter to its own climate change objectives. The concerns about the Southern Gas Corridor project come amid expectations that the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is owned by European Union member states, is about to provide the scheme with up €3 billion – its biggest ever lump sum. “The Southern Gas Corridor clashes with the [climate] science”, says Anna Roggenbuck, EIB policy officer at Bankwatch, a network of environmental groups in central and eastern Europe that monitors public lending institutions. “Once built, this infrastructure will stay till 2050 and simply increase the cost of supply to the European Union, and will perpetuate the use of gas, [while] colliding with EU energy and climate change targets.” The Southern Gas Corridor is the name given to a range of fixed links – including the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – needed to transport gas to Europe from the giant Shah Deniz gas field, in the part of the Caspian Sea owned by Azerbaijan, to the Adriatic coast of Italy. The European Commission was not immediately available for comment, but explained some of its thinking when the TAP part of the agreement was signed off last March. “The Energy Union framework strategy of February 2015 identified this project as a key contribution to the EU’s energy security, bringing new routes and sources of gas to Europe”, said Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president responsible for Energy Union at the EC.

Los Angeles Times:  Southern California Gas to pay $4-million settlement over Aliso Canyon gas leak

Southern California Gas Co. agreed to pay $4 million to settle criminal charges over the massive gas leak near Porter Ranch last year, but the utility still faces potentially costly civil actions from both residents and regulators. The settlement ends a prosecution brought by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which accused the gas company of failing to properly notify authorities when the largest recorded methane leak in U.S. history first occurred. The leak forced thousands of residents to flee their homes for months as officials worked to cap the leak. The gas company pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of failing to immediately notify the California Office of Emergency Services and Los Angeles County Fire Department of the leak that began on or around Oct. 23, 2015, in the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field.

Guardian:  Turkish coal plants in line for public subsidies

Turkish coal plants are in line for eye-watering public subsidies and exemptions from environmental regulations, under an amended energy package delivered by the country’s parliament, late last week. But MPs and campaigners say that the new amendment known as Article 80 could instead open Turkey’s door to extraordinary largesse for the coal sector and other big energy projects, unfettered by environmental considerations. Turkey plans to build as many as 80 new coal plants in the next few years, on top of 25 that already exist, belching an extra 200m tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year. Under the new plan, any project deemed a “strategic investment” can be exempted from corporate taxes, tariffs, stoppages, and the duty to carry out environmental risk assessments, or even permitting applications. Coal operators could be leased state lands for free, receive a 50% discount on electricity bills, and pocket state funding for wage subsidies, insurance premiums and interest on investment loans. The government is also offering a guaranteed €0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh) coal-generated electricity price and commitment to buy 6bn kWh’s of coal-generated electricity annually.

Wall Street Journal:  The Cost of Slashing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

President Barack Obama’s pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050 might cost more than $5 trillion over three decades, according to a new analysis. More than 190 countries announced similarly ambitious targets in Paris in December, but none included estimates of the costs. For the U.S., they’re huge: up to $176 billion a year, or $5.28 trillion over 30, according to Columbia Business School economist Geoffrey Heal. His new paper breaks down the costs of the most important prerequisite for achieving the target: making electricity generation carbon-free. The costs aren’t a line item in the federal budget, but would largely be picked up by utilities, which would pass on the capital costs to consumers. “The short answer is: You and I will be paying,” Mr. Heal said in an interview.Even under Mr. Heal’s most optimistic assumptions about the development of battery technology, the cost of meeting the president’s pledge would be $42 billion a year. The need to store energy for days when the sun and wind aren’t performing crimps the economic case for renewable energy, making up 70% of the total cost. To store a day’s power output from a single wind turbine, for instance, costs $7.8 million, or more than twice the cost of the turbine. And one day isn’t enough to ensure a reliable electricity grid. Mr Heal assumes construction of enough storage to cover two. “[But] there is no very solid basis for this number,” he said.

Canberra Times:  Australian Renewable Energy Agency handed lifeline after threat of closure

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has escaped closure with the government agreeing to restore $800 million of funding. The agency, which provides financial grants for 40 per cent of the CSIRO’s energy research, was set to be stripped of $1.3 billion as part of the government’s Omnibus Savings Bill. The Coalition also planned to merge its funding role with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which expects to see a financial return on money it invests in research. But a compromise was reached on Monday night to limit the cuts to $500 million after criticism from the opposition, academics and workplace unions. The Canberra-based agency, which employs close to 50 departmental staff, will be funded for five years with $550 million cast over forward estimates. ARENA was established in 2012 by the Gillard government and was to be abolished by the Abbott government in 2014. It received a stay of execution in March 2016 despite plans to cut funding. The compromise came after the Australian Conservation Foundation warned a $1.3 billion funding cut could result in up to 5000 job losses in regional towns. Professor Andrew Blakers, a professor of engineering at the Australian National University, also described the proposed cuts as an “existential threat” to clean energy innovation in Australia.

Wall Street Journal:  Why Venture Capitalists Abandoned Clean Energy

A decade ago, clean-energy companies were the hot trend that venture capitalists were chasing. Oil and natural-gas prices were on the rise and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” had just made its premiere. But high hopes that the clean-energy sector would replicate the big returns of biomedical and software startups quickly faded. Instead, monumental losses piled up: Venture-capital investors lost more than half of the $25 billion they pumped into clean-energy technology startups from 2006 to 2011. A study of why venture capital and clean energy haven’t been a good match was launched by Benjamin Gaddy, director of technology development at Clean Energy Trust, a startup accelerator in Chicago, and Varun Sivaram, the Douglas Dillon fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In a paper recently published through the MIT Energy Initiative and written with Francis O’Sullivan, the Energy Initiative’s director of research, they predict future funding for energy startups increasingly will come from more-patient providers than venture capitalists—including groups like the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, formed by Bill Gates and more than two dozen wealthy investors last year. And they argue that established energy companies and governments need to play a bigger role in nurturing clean-energy startups.

Los Angeles Times:  US Interior Department signs blueprint for renewable energy development in the California desert

On Wednesday, U.S. Interior Department officials signed a blueprint that they touted as a finely tuned effort to balance conservation of California’s iconic desert landscapes with the state’s growing hunger for clean energy in the age of climate change. Eight years in the making, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan implicitly recognizes that “green” energy can be environmentally destructive. It puts 9.2 million acres of federal land in the California desert off limits to solar, wind and geothermal development, while steering renewable projects to less ecologically valuable areas on about 800,000 acres, with a particular emphasis on roughly half that land. Projects proposed for Development Focus Areas would enjoy streamlined permitting. Energy development would also be possible on other lands, totaling more than 400,000 acres, but without streamlining. The push for renewables by the federal government and California has put the state’s sprawling desert lands in the cross hairs. Wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal plants are essentially industrial facilities that can kill birds en masse and scrape the desert floor clean of vegetation as well as all the creatures that depend on it. The Ivanpah solar plant west of Las Vegas, for example, is a magnet for insects and the birds that feast on them. Federal biologists say about 6,000 birds a year die from crashes or immolation while chasing flying insects around the facility’s three 40-story towers, which catch sunlight from five square miles of garage-door-size mirrors to drive the plant’s power-producing turbines.

Fortune:  Solar Developers Unhappy with the Desert Renewable Energy Plan

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Interior unveiled the first phase of the plan, covering 10.8 million acres of federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It designates 388,000 acres of those lands as best for renewable energy development. Applications for projects in those areas will receive a streamlined permitting process and possible financial incentives, the agency said in a press release. A coalition of five wind and solar energy trade groups said the size of the area set aside for development in the plan falls far short of what California and the United States will need to meet carbon reduction goals. “It’s just a complete disconnect with our climate change ambitions,” said Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association. Wind and solar developers worry that much of the 388,000 acres set aside for them will not actually make sense for their projects. The areas have not yet been cleared for potential conflicts with military exercises and have yet to be surveyed for impacts to avian species. The government also has imposed new environmental restrictions on those areas that will drive up the cost of development, according to Christopher Mansour, vice president of federal affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association.“The BLM has chosen to greatly restrict the where we develop, and also restricted the how we can develop these projects,” Mansour said.

The Hindu:  India wastes 15-20% of its renewable energy due to lack of storage

The variations in wind and solar energy, and the lack of adequate electricity storage facilities, result in about 15-20 per cent of all renewable energy generated in India going to waste, according to a top official in Panasonic India’s energy division. “On average, if 24 hours is the potential of electricity generation, then you can easily say that 15-20 per cent is wasted because the grid can’t manage the kind of variation in the electricity sourced from wind and solar generation,” Atul Arya, Head, Energy Systems, Panasonic India told The Hindu in an interview. The variability of generation from renewable sources—where wind changes direction and speed on an hourly basis and solar intensity can vary by the minute—is not that big a problem if renewable energy forms a small proportion of the overall grid, as it does currently in the national grid, Mr Arya said. “But if you look at state-specific grids, then the picture changes,” he added. “For example, look at the Tamil Nadu grid. Percentage-wise, wind is pretty high in the Tamil Nadu grid and that is what is creating problems for them. With wind changing its speed and direction, it becomes horrible from a grid stability point of view.” The typical strategy in India at the moment, Mr Arya said, is to simply discard the unstable power without it ever entering the grid. “So you are generating but not using it in the grid,” he said. “It gets wasted. Electricity is something you either use immediately, or you cannot use it at all.”

Wall Street Journal:  Japan’s Shift to Renewable Energy Loses Power

Before the Fukushima accident, resource-poor Japan depended on nuclear plants for about 30% of its power. Now, with nearly all of the 50-odd nuclear plants in the country still shut down in the wake of the accident, the country gets 1% of its energy from nuclear power. Cheap coal and natural gas, nearly all imported, have filled the void, together comprising more than 75% of Japan’s energy needs in the year ended in March, compared with 54% before the accident. Fierce opposition to reopening nuclear plants and growing reliance on foreign energy sources would suggest a huge opening for renewables. Yet renewables made up just 14% of energy production in the year ended in March, up from 10% before Fukushima. That has advocates worried that the government’s goal of having renewables provide 22% to 24% of Japan’s energy needs by 2030 is slipping out of reach. Even with huge investments and a strong commitment to renewables, a return to heavy reliance on nuclear power is the best way to ensure Japan’s energy security for the near future, says Nobuo Tanaka, former executive director of the International Energy Agency and president of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, because it would reduce the country’s reliance on fossil-fuel imports while renewable power sources are being developed. “Expanding renewables is important, but it needs to be twinned with a nuclear-power solution that is acceptable to the public,” he says.

Euractiv:  The EU’s fanciful transport decarbonisation strategy

While the largest emitting sector, electricity production, is greening relatively fast due to energy efficiency and deployment of renewables, transport is becoming more carbon intensive by the day. When oil price dropped, drivers drove more, so energy consumption has begun to rise again, inevitably leading to higher GHG emissions. Transport is a unique sector, the most backward in terms of decarbonisation achievements and prospects. It needs to be decarbonised. How to decarbonise transport? Does Europe have an answer? The European Commission has had its say; it recently published its Communication on transport decarbonisation. The EC relies on biofuels big time to deliver GHG savings. This time on “advanced renewable biofuels” produced from wastes (or supposed wastes), agricultural residues and wood, not conventional biofuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel. There is no indication however where the 7% share in total transport energy demand in 2030 or 37% in mid-century to be met by advanced biofuels will come from, especially if wastes (like imported cooking oil) that are not actual wastes are disallowed. Indeed, up to half of the Communications ambitions for all real decarbonisation in the transport sector over the coming decade comes from the interesting hope that Europe will import tens of billions of liters of used cooking oil. Or that the EU will somehow manage to collect the one liter of used cooking oil that every inhabitant of this planet discards every day.

Yahoo:  China solar panel glut undermines EU-China accord

A sharp increase in solar power production in China and a sharp fall in domestic demand have sparked a sudden surge of cut-price exports, undermining a China-EU agreement to limit damage to European producers. China produced 27 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in the first half of 2016, an increase of 37.8 percent and installed 20 GW of new solar power capacity in the same period, three times as much as the same period a year ago. However, demand has since tailed off. Solar projects operational since July face a reduced price paid by grid operators for their power. The China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) has forecast total new capacity by the year-end will be 30 GW, implying just 10 GW in the second half. EU ProSun, an association of EU solar producers, says the price of some panels had fallen to below 0.40 euros per watt, compared with a previous average European price of about 0.50 euros. EU ProSun president, Milan Nitzschke, said that prices had come down by some 20 percent in the past month to below the cost of production. “We fear a second wave of bankruptcies,” he said. The European Union and China were on the verge of a trade war in 2013 over EU allegations of dumping of solar panels into the bloc. That trade war was averted by agreeing a lower amount of Chinese panels could be imported free of tariffs as long as they did not price them below a minimum initially set at 0.56 euros. However, having signed up to the undertaking, an increasing number of Chinese firms have chosen to opt out considering it better to sell at even cheaper prices, even when faced with duties of between 27.3 and 64.9 percent.

Irish Energy:  Over 40% of Ireland’s Wind Energy Shut Down Last Night

Last night, over 40% of wind energy produced was shut down or curtailed during a spell of gale force winds across the island of Ireland. This episode clearly shows the limitations of relying too much on an intermittent source of energy like wind. Billions of euros worth of turbine installations become worthless at both low wind and at high wind. The reason for the shutdown of so many wind turbines can be clearly seen in the System Frequency charts before and after the wind shutdown. As the gales gathered in strength on Sunday evening, maintaining the frequency of the grid became more difficult. The zig zag patterns in Figure 2 show how frequency fluctuated between 49.9 and 50.1 Hz. The dips represent periods of too much wind when system inertia drops (due to lack of conventional generation such as coal or gas). Should frequency drop below 49.7 Hz then a blackout may occur, so Eirgrid rectified this by shutting down some of the wind and allowing more conventional generation into the system. The frequency then rises again to 50Hz. Gas turbines are forced to ramp up and down more often to maintain system stability during such periods thus pushing emissions up and negating some of the benefits of having all the wind in the first place.

Figure 2

Guardian:  UK must move now on carbon capture to save consumers billions, says report

The UK must immediately kickstart an industry to capture and bury carbon emissions in order to save consumers billions a year from the cost of meeting climate change targets, according to a high-level advisory group appointed by ministers. This requires the setting up of a new state-backed company to create the network needed to pipe the emissions into exhausted oil and gas fields under the North Sea, the group said. With this government backing, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could deliver clean electricity at a lower cost than an expanded Hinkley Point nuclear power station and almost all renewables, the group’s report states. A CCS industry could also provide thousands of jobs, particularly in industrial heartlands such as Teesside and Grangemouth, and help reverse the fortunes of the declining North Sea fossil fuel industry. It could even tackle the major problem of cutting emissions from gas boilers, by enabling clean-burning hydrogen to be pumped into the grid. “Money spent now will save money later,” said Lord Ron Oxburgh, an independent member of the House of Lords and former chairman of Shell Transport and Trading, who led the report. “CCS is a priority for Britain if our 2050 climate goals are to be achieved at least expense.” Prof Stuart Haszeldine, a CCS expert at Edinburgh University and a member of the advisory group, said another crucial immediate action is to take into temporary public ownership the offshore pipelines to the gas fields of Atlantic, Goldeneye and Hamilton, which are imminently due to be decommissioned but would be ideal for transporting CO2 to storage sites.

Telegraph:  UK power price surges to record high on supply shortage fears

UK electricity prices for Thursday have soared to record highs after unplanned nuclear plant shutdowns and the continued heatwave triggered an unseasonal power crunch. Industry sources suggested National Grid was close to having to issue an emergency alert to call for more power for Thursday evening, amid fears demand could outstrip supply. Day-ahead electricity prices have hovered at about £40 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in recent months but on Wednesday surged to a record £160/MWh, according to Jamie Stewart at price reporting agency Icis. Prices for the hour to 8pm on Thursday evening traded at £999/MWh. The unusual September heat has caused a surge in demand to power air conditioning units, which has coincided with several plants being on planned maintenance. Low wind power output and the unplanned shutdowns of two EDF nuclear reactors totaling 1 gigawatt (GW) have compounded the crunch. Meanwhile, the power cable bringing electricity from France to the UK also suffered an unexpected partial outage which has knocked a further 0.5GW from the UK’s available supplies. The power squeeze is set to continue into next week as wind and nuclear power remain low and the UK-France power cable partially shuts down for planned maintenance which will last almost two weeks. The tightening supply forecast has forced the price of electricity for next week to £200/MWh. “The market just isn’t providing enough capacity,” one UK power trader said.

Herald Scotland:  The island of Gigha’s wind power to be stored under UK government-funded trial

The island of Gigha is to play an important role in pioneering work to find a way to store power generated by wind turbines, which could revolutionise the global green energy industry. The island is host to the first community-owned grid-connected wind farm in Scotland, the ‘Dancing Ladies’, which initially consisted of three turbines christened Faith, Hope and Charity. A fourth was added later, but its operation has had to be constrained. Now the turbines are to be connected to a “vanadium redox flow battery”, which is the size of a shipping container. It is a new piece of engineering which some hold could be a game-changer. Energy can already be stored using technologies ranging from pumped hydro schemes to large-scale lithium-ion batteries. But the UK government-funded trial on Gigha, will demonstrate that vanadium redox flow is now commercially viable, says Scott McGregor, chief executive of the device’s developer, the Jersey-registered RedT company. He said “The technology has moved faster than anyone has expected and what you see today is a system that is a commodity product.”

Guardian:  World’s first large-scale tidal energy farm launches in Scotland

The launch of the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm in Scotland has been hailed as a significant moment for the renewable energy sector. A turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project in the Pentland Firth was unveiled outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. After the ceremony, attended by Nicola Sturgeon, the turbine, measuring about 15 metres tall (49ft), with blades 16 metres in diameter, and weighing in at almost 200 tonnes, will begin its journey to the project’s site in the waters off the north coast of Scotland between Caithness and Orkney. The turbine will be the first of four to be installed underwater, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), in the initial phase of the project. But the Edinburgh-based developer Atlantis Resources hopes the project which has received £23m in Scottish government funding will eventually have 269 turbines, bringing its capacity to 398MW, which is enough electricity to power 175,000 homes. Maf Smith, the deputy chief executive of the lobby group RenewableUK, said: “New technology like this will be powering our nation for decades to come.” The first minister called on the UK government to end the uncertainty around subsidies for similar schemes, warning that a failure to do so risks causing irreparable damage to the marine power industry. Sturgeon said: “I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this.”

Scotsman:  Report calls for fracking and nuclear power in Scotland

In a paper for the think tank Reform Scotland Dr Stuart Paton says: “The Holyrood government has been activist in laying out an energy policy. However, there are a number of contradictions in that policy. It has a commitment to zero emissions from electricity generation by 2020, yet a rejection of nuclear power and continued support for a coal power station at Longannet. The government shows unbridled support for the offshore oil and gas industry, but not onshore unconventionals.” Dr Paton concluded that opposition to developing fossil fuel resources such as those which can be extracted by fracking is illogical. “[It is] not a logical objection for the Scottish Government given its support of the offshore industry,” he said, making a call for communities, developers and government to work together to create an onshore oil and gas industry that would be robustly regulated. A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is taking a cautious and evidence-led approach to unconventional oil and gas. The Scottish Government has commissioned a series of independent research projects to examine potential environmental, health and economic impacts to inform our evidence-led approach.”

NASA:  Arctic Sea Ice Annual Minimum Ties Second Lowest on Record

Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its annual lowest extent on Sept. 10, NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder reported today. An analysis of satellite data showed that at 1.60 million square miles (4.14 million square kilometers), the 2016 Arctic sea ice minimum extent is effectively tied with 2007 for the second lowest yearly minimum in the satellite record. This summer, the melt of Arctic sea ice surprised scientists by changing pace several times. The melt season began with a record low yearly maximum extent in March and a rapid ice loss through May. But in June and July, low atmospheric pressures and cloudy skies slowed down the melt. Then, after two large storms went across the Arctic basin in August, sea ice melt picked up speed through early September. “It’s pretty remarkable that this year’s sea ice minimum extent ended up the second lowest, after how the melt progressed in June and July,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “June and July are usually key months for melt because that’s when you have 24 hours a day of sunlight – and this year we lost melt momentum during those two months.”

GWPF:  Nicolas Sarkozy Turns Climate Skeptic

Nicolas Sarkozy, who is fighting to regain the presidency that he lost to François Hollande in 2012, has finally come out of the closet as a climate skeptic. Speaking in front of business leaders Sarkozy, a candidate for Les Republicains party primary in November, told them that man alone was not to blame for climate change. “Climate has been changing for four billion years,” the former president said according to AFP. “Sahara has become a desert, it isn’t because of industry. You need to be as arrogant as men are to believe we changed the climate.” Sarkozy has minimized the climate change in the past, but up until now he has never openly suggested that man was not to blame. The former president believes the world should be concentrating on the rise in the population and movement of people rather than worrying so much about global warming. “Never has the earth experienced such a demographic shock as it is about to, because in a few years there will be 11 billion of us. And man is directly responsible in this case but nobody talks about it,” Sarkozy said.

Citylab:  Global Warming To Make Fish Stupid.

There’s already evidence that rapidly warming oceans are harming fish. The acidification of the water—something that happens as the seas absorb human-produced carbon dioxide—is thought to make certain species anxious and prone to hiding, and even destroy their ability to recognize each other. Now there are indications it could turn them dangerously dumb, too. When exposed to raised CO2 levels, spiny damselfish seem to be unable to sense signs of danger emitted by their fellow damselfish, according to a study in Scientific Reports. That’s bad news, because if a predator is roaming the reefs chomping on fish, an entire micropopulation is in effect twiddling its fins waiting to be eaten. This discovery comes from scientists at the University of Miami and Australia’s James Cook University, who collected damselfish in the Great Barrier Reef and put them in two tanks, one with regular seawater and the other with seawater with elevated CO2. Inside these tanks were pumps that on one side spewed normal seawater or seawater with a “chemical alarm cue” that damselfish secrete when injured. The results: The damselfish in the CO2-tainted tank spent much more time swimming around the pump with the alarm cue. They also had altered blood and brain chemistry ostensibly caused by the CO2-enriched waters. The researchers modeled the tainted water after what ocean conditions are expected to be like in 2300. However, similar conditions “have already been observed in many coastal and upwelling areas throughout the world,” according to their press release.

Huffington Post:   Man Drives From India To UK In A Solar-Powered Rickshaw

When Naveen Rabelli reached London today, he concluded a 14,200-km-long journey on his solar autorickshaw that began in Bengaluru, India seven months ago. To make this trip, Rabelli traversed 11 countries, 20 cities and 100 towns in Asia and Europe. The 35-year-old began his adventure in February in a customised red three-wheeler christened Tejas, the Sanskrit word for radiance. His aim was to promote the use of renewable energy solutions for passenger vehicles in Asian and European countries. “The first thing I wanted to address was [the notion] that a solar-powered vehicle cannot run as efficiently as a fuel vehicle,” he said before embarking on his trip. The 35-year-old electronic engineer spent over three years on the project, building and getting sponsorship for Tejas. He purchased a Piaggio Ape three-wheeler diesel autorickshaw for $1,500 and spent another $11,500 modifying it into an electric and solar-powered vehicle. He spent his own savings in building the first two prototypes, but managed to get sponsorship for the third prototype and for the final journey. Rabelli installed solar panels on its roof and an onboard computer and display system to monitor its performance at every step. He also fitted a bed, solar cooker, a passenger seat and a cupboard inside to store food donated by supporters. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 45 km per hour, and can last for 80 km after every charge.

The Tejas solar rickshaw powers through France.

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46 Responses to Blowout Week 142

  1. Joe Public says:

    The Hindu: India wastes 15-20% of its renewable energy due to lack of storage

    India’s not the only nation to waste renewables:

    “How China Wastes Its Renewable Energy …..

    …..China may be the global leader in renewable energy investment, but it’s also the leader in the percentage of that energy that never reaches consumers. China’s wasted, or “curtailed,” wind energy averages about 21% nationally, reaching as high as 40% in some provinces.

    If these curtailment figures continue, China will have a hard time reaching its carbon-peaking commitments, or for that matter, any of its international climate goals.”

    • Roger Andrews says:

      Joe: Thanks for the link.

      The problem with Chinese wind seems to be more institutional than technical. For reasons best known to itself China built wind farms in places where the local demand wasn’t large enough to accept the additional wind power and/or where the grid didn’t have the capacity to ship the power to a place where it could. It’s not, or at least shouldn’t be, a nationwide problem. In 2015 China got only 3% of its electricity from wind (the UK got 12%). At the 3% level there shouldn’t be a curtailment issue.

      Curtailment does, however, become a problem when we try to integrate large amounts of wind power with the grid. I have no exact numbers , but I would guess that 20-30% of the wind power from Gorona del Viento gets curtailed in one fashion or another, and El Hierro still has to rely on diesel generators for about 60% of its electricity. Wind power at King Island, Tasmania, also gets curtailed at the 20-30% level during high-wind conditions. Why the curtailment? Because there’s nowhere to store the excess generation. Back to the storage problem again.

  2. mark4asp says:

    No mainstream Hinkley critics realistically proposed anything better. The EPR is the only reactor design possessed of a UK generic design assessment, GDA, which takes 5 years, and costs tens of millions to gain. So there’s no alternative nuclear reactors currently on offer (with a GDA) for UK. Nor has the UK government granted itself powers to mandate best value for money be built. Many critics promoting cheaper nuclear power ignore how GDAs and over-regulation make that near impossible. For example: [1] Mark Lynas and George Monbiot in The Guardian, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph, called for a different, less expensive designs/technology. They snipe from print but do not have the guts to criticise our UK regulators: Office of Nuclear Regulation, ONR. Hinkley C is the consequence of paranoid safety assessors _seriously_ demanding answers to questions such as “What happens when gravity stops working” (as they did with the AP1000). They don’t address the stifling effect regulation has, nor the reasons why UK nuclear industry is so conservative. The last thing they’ll do is call for deregulation. They _say they want_ better technology but are happy to keep miles of red tape preventing it happening. [2] Calls for natural gas or coal in place of Hinkley, mostly refuse to take issue with the Climate Change Act, or misunderstand how difficult it is to rescind. [3] The 3rd group of Hinkley critics: renewable muppets at The Guardian, Independent and green movement are just that: unrealistic muppets.

    Critics either want to have their cake and eat it or eat invisible cake.

    • Peter Lang says:


      I agree.

      BTW: I really like this post of yours:

      I’d like to be able to cite the original authoritative sources for the data used to make the chart (not the blog post you referred to). Could you provide them (preferably add them to your post on your web site).

      • mark4asp says:

        (1) I doubt I’ll find sources for that chart. It’s quite old now.

        (2) There are a couple of interesting charts here:

        (3) The official version of history: cancelled orders have little to do with the NRC. It was all about the fall in demand; blame it on optimism not pessimism!

        Murray explains the reason for so many reactor cancellations as:

        … The reasons for the optimism were expectation that the U.S. economy would continue to expand, that electricity would substitute for many fuels, and that nuclear would fill a large fraction of the demand, reaching 56% by the year 2000. The level of 95 GWe was actually reached late in the 1980s, but the figure only reached 100 GWe after an additional decade. What is the reason for the great discrepancy between forecast and reality? The first is that it took longer and longer to build nuclear plants, adding large interest costs to the basic capital cost. When this was compounded by high inflation rates, the total costs increased dramatically, as we saw in Table 24.2. Second, the Middle East oil boycott of 1973 caused an increase in the cost of energy in general, accentuated a national recession, and prompted conservation practices by the public. The growth rate of electrical demand fell to 1% per year. As a consequence, many orders for reactors were canceled. However, by this time, a large number of reactors were in various stages of completion-reactors that would not be needed for many years, if ever. Some that were about 80% completed were finished, but work on others of 50% or less was stopped completely. The hard fact was that it was cheaper to abandon a facility on which half a billion dollars had been invested rather than to complete it … No new orders for reactors have been placed since 1978; and few new reactors will be started until regulatory stability, financial optimism, and public support are achieved. It is not possible to identify any single cause for the situation … [page 387-389, Nuclear Energy, 5th ed, 2000, Raymond Murray,]

        • mark4asp says:

          This article too. They have yet another US reactor orders vs cancellations chart:

          … As shown by the graph below, once NRC was established in 1975, orders of nuclear reactors fell to an average of 3 per year in the three following years, while orders had averaged 36 per year between 1972 to 1974. At the same time, cancellations almost tripled in 1975 to 1977, compared to the three years before NRC was established. …

        • Peter Lang says:


          Thank you. Very interesting. I’ll think about it for a while and come back. My initial reaction is that Murray may not have identified the root cause of what I call the disruption to nuclear progress. I’ll come back tomorrow.

        • Peter Lang says:


          Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I’ve been considering the material you linked and weighing it against my own knowledge of what was happening in the 1970s and 1980s. I feel that most of these explanations for the disruption describe secondary causes rather than the root cause.

          The root-cause of the disruption to nuclear power progress

          A likely root cause of the disruption to development and deployment of nuclear power was the anti-nuclear protest movement, which began in the mid-1960s (Wyatt (1978), Daubert and Moran (1985)).

          A defensible assumption is that if [the anti-nuclear protest movement had not succeeded in scaring the population, thus disrupting progress, and] the high level of public support for nuclear power that existed in the 1950s and early 1960s had continued, the early learning rates may have continued and, therefore, the accelerating global deployment rate may have continued. With cheaper electricity global electricity consumption may have been higher thus causing faster deployment. In that case, we could have Generation IV or V nuclear reactors by now. The designs could be very different to current designs – small, flexible and more advanced than anything we might envisage. The technologies and safety could be much improved by now. The aviation industry provides an example of technology and safety improvements over the same period: from 1960 to 2013, US aviation passenger miles increased by a factor of 19 while aviation passenger safety (fatalities per passenger-mile) decreased by a factor of 1051 (US Department of Transportation (Updated 2016)), an 87% learning rate for passenger safety.

          The other causes mentioned are secondary to the root-cause. That is, if public support had not turned from strongly supporting atomic power (as it was called then) to concern about and opposition to nuclear power, the impediments that have been imposed on nuclear power probably would not have happened. A possible cause and effect sequences is:

          • Anti-nuclear protest movement
          • Scare campaigns
          • Increasing public concern, fear, paranoia
          • Politicians’ response – political, legislation, regulations
          • Regulatory Ratcheting
          • Unjustifiably low allowable radiation limits
          • Excessively risk adverse NRC and IAEA (on safety, and thus causing higher fatalities from electricity than would otherwise be the case; i.e. the opposite of the intended effect of the regulatory interventions)
          • Excessive regulation and excessive bureaucratic interventions
          • Excessive licensing cost and time for approval of new designs and design changes to existing designs
          • High financial risk for investors
          • High financial risk for utilities
          • High financial risk premium for investing in nuclear power (considering the long plant life and amortization period)


          Alan Wyatt, 1978. The Nuclear Challenge; Understanding the Debate.

          Victoria L. Daubert and Sue Ellen Moran, 1985. Origins, Goals, and Tactics of the U.S. Anti-Nuclear Protest Movement. Rand Corporation, Prepared for The Sandia National Laboratory.

    • Joe Public says:

      Reuters – Friday 16th Sept

      “Toshiba-owned nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse expects to connect its first 1,000 megawatt medium-sized nuclear reactor to the grid in China early in 2017 and sees the country building a fleet of them in coming years.”

      The report continues:

      “In Britain, the NuGen consortium, owned by Toshiba and Engie, plans to build three AP1000 reactors in Cumbria. Westinghouse expects to finalize the Generic Design Assessment in the first quarter of 2017.

      “We are progressing extremely well with the British regulator,” Gutierrez said.

      Although the AP1000 is licensed in the United States and China, all new reactors need to be licensed in every new country they enter – a process that takes years.”

    • Alex says:

      Agreed there.

      One thing we can learn from renewables, as well as the UK capacity market, is that auctions are an excellent way to lower price. Unfortunately, with just one supplier, auctions are not possible.

      The Hinkley Strike Price was therefore set by an agreement over spreadsheets. I do think that in order to justify a high price, EDF upped the build cost. They basically took the Flamanville/Olkiuto cost, doubled it for two reactors, and added £2 billion for “site issues”. They assumed no lessons would be learned.

      Ideally, at the time, DECC should have taken a harder line and said “We think you can make a decent return at £80/MWh. We won’t pay more – and we can wait for the AP1000 if we have to”. But then DECC civil servants haven’t gone through strategic sourcing training.

      Moving forward, we should let Moorside, Wyfla and Bradwell be built on the same basis – spreadsheet negotiations, to deliver strike prices of about 70-80% of HPC. After that, it should be auction based, with 3 to 4GW of capacity to be brought on line per year between 2030 and 2050.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      Mark: That chart of yours is worth showing:

      • Alex says:

        No. DECC would like the ONR to go faster, and I think the ONR would like to go faster, but ONR is not prepared to compromise safety.

        Whether going faster would compromise safety, is a whole separate debate.

  3. donb says:

    Re the Guardian post on CCS (carbon capture & storage).
    Fracking for oil & gas itself does not produce many small to medium earthquakes. That is because Earth’s interior moves along existing faults. Those faults slip more easily IF they are lubricated. Removing the fluid (oil & gas) removes the lubricant.

    However, it has been rather well demonstrated that pumping fluid wastes (mostly water) from fracking deep underground is causing earthquakes. Some governments are banning fracking because of that. This likely occurs because that waste water lubricates existing faults, making slipping easier.

    BUT CO2 IS A FLUID. Will pumping large amounts of CO2 deep underground cause earthquakes. I would think so.

    • JerryC says:

      Of even more concern than small earthquakes, I would think, is the possibility of a Lake Nyos type event if the captured CO2 were to be released for some reason.

      • Peter Lang says:

        Or even more concern is disruption (accidental or intentional) of a pipe carrying compressed CO2 from the power station to the sequestration site.

    • robertok06 says:

      “BUT CO2 IS A FLUID. Will pumping large amounts of CO2 deep underground cause earthquakes. I would think so.”

      No, it wouldn’t, actually it would help avoiding just that, because they would inject it in place of water in gas/oil fields… as far as I know.

      Just consider that Holland has a hard time extracting the last 20% of its natural gas just because of the tremors/earthquakes that the extraction generates… see article on that linked here above.


  4. Peter Lang says:

    The world nuclear industry aims to build about 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear reactor capacity by 2050,

    That projection is based on the public concerns about nuclear power safety, and all the regulatory and other impediments to nuclear power, continuing to 2050.

    However, if not for the disruption caused by the anti nuclear power protest movement, we could have had over 2000 GW in operation by 2015!

    From a counterfactual analysis, if we project the accelerating global deployment rates that prevailed up to 1976, we may have built 2400 GW of nuclear capacity by 2015. This could have generated the equivalent of 95% of coal and 85% of gas fired generation by 2015. If nuclear had substituted for coal and gas it could have saved at least 9 million deaths and 170 Gt CO2. Many other benefits its too.

  5. JIm Brough says:

    Citylab: Global Warming To Make Fish Stupid.

    There’s already evidence that rapidly warming oceans are harming fish. The acidification of the water—something that happens as the seas absorb human-produced carbon dioxide—is thought to make certain species anxious and prone to hiding, and even destroy their ability to recognize each other. Now there are indications it could turn them dangerously dumb, too. When exposed to raised CO2 levels, spiny damselfish seem to be unable to sense signs of danger emitted by their fellow damselfish, according to a study in Scientific Reports. That’s bad news, because if a predator is roaming the reefs chomping on fish, an entire micropopulation is in effect twiddling its fins waiting to be eaten. This discovery comes from scientists at the University of Miami and Australia’s James Cook University, who collected damselfish in the Great Barrier Reef and put them in two tanks, one with regular seawater and the other with seawater with elevated CO2. Inside these tanks were pumps that on one side spewed normal seawater or seawater with a “chemical alarm cue” that damselfish secrete when injured. The results: The damselfish in the CO2-tainted tank spent much more time swimming around the pump with the alarm cue. They also had altered blood and brain chemistry ostensibly caused by the CO2-enriched waters. The researchers modeled the tainted water after what ocean conditions are expected to be like in 2300. However, similar conditions “have already been observed in many coastal and upwelling areas throughout the world,” according to their press release.

    Speaking as a biologist my body would be most unhappy if subjected to exposure of high concentrations of CO2. Note that this was the topic of a press release.

    Might be nominated for an Ignoble Award. Or the Gulliver Award whose gold standard is like “distilling sunbeams out of cucumbers for release in inclement weather”.

  6. Alex says:

    @Roger, Euan, can you put this in context for non “oil-drum-heads”:
    “Doriemus today revealed its Brockham-1 well in the UK’s Weald Basin contains 282 million barrels of oil per square mile. ”

    So one square mile contains enough oil for the world for 3 days?

    How many square miles and what percent is recoverable from the “Gatwick Gusher”?


      • Alex says:

        OK. I read:
        “Figure 4 explains that the HH license covers 55 square miles. Hence simply taking the 271 million barrels per square mile from Figure 3 and multiplying that by 55 we get 14.9 billion barrels of oil in place.”

        ” Without a positive fracking test, we still have no idea what % of the oil in place may be recovered. And none of this is likely to be commercially viable at current oil prices.”

        So, no real change ….

        Thanks Euan.

  7. Javier says:

    NASA: Arctic Sea Ice Annual Minimum Ties Second Lowest on Record

    Arctic sea ice extent (>15%) only dipped to 2007 levels (in statistical terms) for a few days before jumping back up, as Danish Meteorological Institute shows:

    The average for the entire month of September is going to be significantly higher in 2016 than in 2007. There has been no average Arctic sea ice melting for the last 10 years, yet during this time we had to suffer constant claims by supposed “experts” that Arctic sea ice was disappearing, and continuous campaigns by Greenpeace to save the Arctic.

    2007 Nobel prize laureate Al Gore predicts North Polar ice cap falling off a cliff seven years from now by 2014 based on scientific studies.
    Al Gore Nobel lecture.

    2007 Prof. Wieslaw Maslowski from Dept. Oceanography of the US Navy predicts an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer by 2013, and says that prediction is conservative.
    Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

    2007 NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally predicts that the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012.
    Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?

    2010 Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2030.
    Arctic ice could be gone by 2030

    2012 Prof. Wieslaw Maslowski from Dept. Oceanography of the US Navy predicts a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer by 2016 ± 3 years.
    US Navy predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2016.
    Scientific article: The Future of Arctic Sea Ice

    2012 Prof. Peter Wadhams, head of the polar ocean physics group at the University of Cambridge, predicts a collapse of the Arctic ice sheet by 2015-2016.
    Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years
    Peter Wadhams impressive Arctic scientific CV

    2016 Steven Mosher, “scientist” at Berkeley Earth affirms that there is a good chance that Arctic will become ice free by 2050.
    Comment at WUWT: Arctic sea ice melt has turned the corner

    As with most predictions from the climate scare, they fail spectacularly.

  8. Simon cove says:

    I think you’re being a little disingenuous there. it does jump up, but it’s still pretty low. 2007, 2012,2016 all look considerably less on your graph. Personally, I think that the models must be very hard to predict but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a lag in the system. Inertia and all that. Just my opinion, mind you

    • Javier says:


      It is hard to predict because those “experts” have no idea what drives the system. However other experts do appear to know:

      A signal of persistent Atlantic multidecadal variability in Arctic sea ice. M.W. Miles et al. 2014. Geophysical Research Letters 41, pg. 463-469.

      “We establish a signal of pervasive and persistent multidecadal (~60–90 year) fluctuations… Covariability between sea ice and Atlantic multidecadal variability as represented by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index is evident during the instrumental record. This observational evidence supports recent modeling studies that have suggested that Arctic sea ice is intrinsically linked to Atlantic multidecadal variability.
      Given the demonstrated covariability between sea ice and the AMO, it follows that a change to a negative AMO phase in the coming decade(s) could —to some degree— temporarily ameliorate the strongly negative recent sea-ice trends.”

      For the last 10 years Arctic sea ice has been going nowhere, while the AMO has been flat. Somehow despite the evidence we are being bombarded with alarmist no-news about the demise of Arctic sea ice and Greenpeace is making a killing extracting money from credulous good-willing people. You are pointing your disingenuous finger in the wrong direction.

      • Simon cove says:

        Well I am no more an expert than you are I’m sure. The issue is that for every expert you quote, I can really find one who is also genuinely an expert. There were a couple of experts talking in the guardian science podcast few weeks back about how difficult it was too measure sea ice. For the record, they seemed to think it was decreasing although one seemed quite subjective in his opinion.

        • Javier says:

          Ah, but science is not about finding somebody to trust or about raising hands to see what the consensus opinion is. Science is about evidence. And you can look at the evidence as much as anybody else, because it is published and can be read.

          The evidence shows a decline in Arctic sea ice since 1979 consistent with the warming trend, but previously there was a sea ice increase and in the last 10 years no trend at all. Based on that and based on the known dependency of Arctic sea ice from AMO, as both present evidence and past proxies indicate, it is clear that you cannot predict future Arctic sea ice simply by extrapolating, and it is clear also that the trend is not going to be as fast as anticipated, so none of us is going to see the Arctic ice-free.

          If scientists do not know what is going to happen they should abstain from making predictions, specially to the press, because it is not honest to pretend that they know what is going to happen when they don’t.

        • robertok06 says:

          “The issue is that for every expert you quote, I can really find one who is also genuinely an expert.”

          Problem is that his experts say things that agree with observations, while your experts keep on saying, since at least one decade, things that DO NOT AGREE with observations:

          1) effect of acidification of oceans on corals;
          2) effect of increased CO2 on glaciers;
          3) effect of increase CO2 on polar caps’ ice;
          4) effect of increase of CO2 on increase of “extreme meteorological events”;
          5) effect of increase of CO2 on formation/number/incidence of hurricanes (especially in the USA post Katrina and Rita… with the result of a spectacular and REALLY unprecedented (since records exist) LACK on landfall of any category 3 or higher hurricane on USA’s coasts);
          6) effect of increase of CO2 on amount of cereals/potatos/etc… on the planet: the planet, in effect, is greening a lot, exactly because the “greenhouse gas CO2” (which, by the way, is neithre a “pollutant”, nor “a poison”, like green popular galore pretends… and the US EPA too!…)… exactly because CO2 makes things grow better like… in greenhouses!… how strange is that, uh? 🙂
          7) effect of the increase of CO2 on the rate of rise of oceans;
          8)… sure there is an 8, and 9, and even a 10… that I can’t think of now…

          So, please think of a better statement to recite in place of the one I’ve copied/pasted above, OK? 🙂


          • Simon cove says:

            I haven’t time right now to go into detail and apologise for saying that my experts were genuine – that was a typo. There are a lot of experts and ‘experts’ about. I am not one of them.

            Ref co2 greening the planet. Yes appears to be so. I don’t really see the relevance though? It’s not like greening the planet will reduce co2 levels or not for a very long time. If CO2 is a climate change issue then greening the planet is irrelevant if levels are increasing which they are. The shrubbery took a long time to turn into oil. But I report, with regard to this point alone – so what?

            I appreciate your other points and have read this blog a lot – I am unsure and trying to be open minded. Biologically, spring seems to occur earlier each year and certainly it seems to me that the long frosty winters of the 1970-80’s are no longer like that which could be man-made or cyclical. Certainly should at least be investigated. I cannot possibly deny any other of your points as I am no expert. Worries me that so much mainstream science says otherwise. It is certainly very strange. I agree the modellers get things wrong and whether this heat is trapped deep in the oceans or is not there at all… Who knows? For example, Coral bleaching certainly seemed to be a big issue last month yet you say not?

          • robertok06 says:

            @simon cove

            “If CO2 is a climate change issue then greening the planet is irrelevant if levels are increasing which they are. ”

            You miss the point entirely!… “your” experts have said for years and years that an increased level of CO2 would have led to further desertification of already dry areas… and guess what?… it is the sub-saharan sahel areas of the planet, those in most desperate need of humidity, water and food, that got greener.
            Got it now?


          • robertok06 says:

            @simon cove

            “Worries me that so much mainstream science says otherwise.”

            Well, it is simply a case of this:

            “Publication bias and the canonization of false facts”

            “In the process of scientific inquiry, certain claims accumulate enough support to be established as facts.
            Unfortunately, not every claim accorded the status of fact turns out to be true.”

            ” In our model, publication bias—in which positive results are published preferentially over negative ones—influences the distribution of published results.”


            Right to the point.

          • robertok06 says:

            @simon cove

            “For example, Coral bleaching certainly seemed to be a big issue last month yet you say not?”

            You are talking about this? 🙂

            “Sep 12, 2016 10:33 IST
            Canberra: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has almost fully recovered from the worst coral bleaching ever known in recent history, authorities said on Monday.”


      • Simon cove says:

        In addition, I’m not sure how significant the sea ice is. I mean it’s a bit of a poster boy for environmental issues. There are plenty of worries ref extinction and limited resources and biodiversity. I don’t think anyone doubts that. It’s difficult to try to stick to what is actually happening. Last week during the storms, shops and they flat below me flooded. Anecdotal I know but quite a surprise.

        • Javier says:

          “There are plenty of worries ref extinction and limited resources and biodiversity.”

          Yes, but they are not mainly due to climate change, but due to habitat degradation, exploitation, resource and land appropriation, and contamination. All linked to population increase. But these are matters that now are seldom mentioned and funded because we are so worried about climate change. There is a huge cost of opportunity from dedicating our resources to a fight that:
          a) Might not be a real problem.
          b) Even if it was a problem we would not have any impact on it.

  9. Greg Kaan says:

    Off topic but I think it may be interesting in the context of future nuclear options

    The Dual Fluid Reactor Has anyone found much information on this?
    It appears to be mainly a German development through the Berlin Institute for Solid-State Nuclear Physics with some Canadian involvement

    From a conceptual viewpoint, I like the separation of concerns with the fueling and cooling functions being performed by different fluids.
    The stated advantages over normal MSRs are
    – High operating temperature due to the boiling point of lead
    – High power density due low fuel dilution
    – Low neutron moderation of lead vs sodium due to small cross section for fast neutrons
    – Lower neutron moderation of chlorine vs fluorine due to smaller cross section for fast neutrons
    – Safe neutron transmutation of lead
    – Lower transmutation of reactor components due to fast neutron spectrum
    – Coolant and fuel circulation speeds can be optimised for various situations (transmutation/breeding)
    – Fuel circulation can be low enough for on-line pyro reprocessing
    – Lower reactivity of lead vs sodium
    – Lower reactivity of chlorine vs fluorine
    – Smaller core size
    – Increased neutron flux

    It probably needs more development than the “normal” single fluid MSRs where the fuel also acts as the coolant but long term, it seems to have compelling advantages.


    • jfon says:

      It has elements in common with the U.K.’s Moltex molten chloride design- sodium chloride and plutonium/uranium trichloride in tubes, surrounded by another coolant. Moltex looked at lead for that, but chose another molten salt on the grounds that in an accident, the fuel salt could float on lead and possibly go critical. In salt, if the tubes breached, the fuel would be diluted and fission would not be possible.
      Moltex also seem to have done a lot of work on materials. They claim they can use standard grade nuclear steel, whereas the DFR would need refractory metals like molybdenum. DFR has the fuel salt circulating, albeit slowly, around its tubes; the Moltex design has the tubes not connected to each other, just assembled in bundles like the solid fuel rods of current reactors. They’re vented, though, to let the fission gases escape.

      • Greg Kaan says:

        I’m wondering how the terrorist damage scenario could cause the fuel rods to rupture while not also causing the cooling bath to be ruptured.

        The DFR has a much higher core density so along with the reflective property of the lead coolant, the neutron flux should be higher which would make breeding/transmutation more efficient. Plus the use of lead coolant with refractory materials allows for higher operating temperature.

        Both designs have their innovations and issues. The whole MSR field will be interesting to watch over the next decade (hopefully, anyway).

        All things being equal, the IMSR should be the first to be commercialised since it is uranium fuelled and does not breed. The recent invitation to submit the 2nd stage for a loan guarantee by the USA DoE is a hopeful sign.

  10. Ben Jamin' says:

    Ironic then that the UKs AGRs, soon to be retired, ran for a record 940 days.

    I wonder how profitable these have been for EdF over the last decade?

    Were they really such a poor design in hindsight?

    • Greg Kaan says:

      The decommissioning costs with the huge core may be what finally casts them as a poor design, given that they were supposed to be cheaper to build and run than the Magnox but ended up costing more

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