This week’s Blowout features the UK government’s plan to install 53 million smart meters in UK households and businesses by 2020. The government believes that this will lead to a net saving of £17bn, but others remain unconvinced and are calling for an urgent review of the plan:
Energy Live News: Business group urges UK government to review smart meter programme
A UK business group has called on the government for an “urgent review” of its £11 billion smart meter programme. The Institute of Directors (IoD) believe the scheme is expensive as the technology is “unnecessarily complex”.
The government aims to install around 53 million smart meters across households and businesses in the UK by 2020. The IoD added while the devices are being offered at no extra cost, the rollout effectively could cost up to £400 per household through energy bills. Its latest survey, which asked 998 members of the group, revealed less than 1% of customers would willingly cover the full cost of smart meters if they had a choice. Nine in 10 said they would pay no more than half the cost of the technology (£200), while half would refuse to pay anything if they had the choice. Dan Lewis, Senior Energy Adviser at the IoD said: “Now is the right time to review the smart meter programme, which is an overly complex scheme for which the benefits are far from clear. There are much cheaper ways of automating meter readings, increasing switching and monitoring energy use but instead we are pushing ahead with costly technology without consumers having all the facts.”
In this week’s blowout we revisit the issue of £billion dumb meters, weak oil prices, Libya ramping oil production a lot, Donald Trump wooing the oil industry, Australia’s stranded coal reserves, wind frenzy in China, US wave power takes off, blackouts in Puerto Rico, the Nordlink inter-connector, Holland to close coal fired power generation, Tesla to power Europe.
Engerati: More reasons to halt UK smart meters
According to an article from the Financial Times, thousands of consumers have been overcharged or undercharged because energy suppliers have failed to work out whether their meters were reading in cubic feet or cubic metres. More recent coverage suggests this could affect up to a hundred thousand customers, with some being incorrectly billed for up to fifteen years. These energy companies, who can’t work out the difference between metric and imperial units, are the same companies who have been responsible for designing the most complicated smart metering system in the world. When it emerges that they don’t even know how long their ruler is, you have to conclude that they are woefully incompetent to do that design. My personal experience, sitting in technical meetings, is that they are totally out of their depth and the SMETS2 specification is a farce.
Businessgreen: Government defends smart meter programme
Responding to the IoD’s call for a review, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the government has ensured the smart meters programme results in no upfront costs for households and businesses, and criticised the IoD research for failing to recognise the wider benefits of the programme, adding there is no other technology on the market that helps to deliver these benefits for consumers. “Smart meters put households and businesses in control of their energy, allowing bill payers to see exactly how much their energy use costs,” she said in a statement. “This will end estimated billing and deliver £17bn in savings.” Smart Energy GB, the national public engagement body charged with helping consumers make the most out of their new smart meters, also criticised the research and said Britain’s smart meter programme is putting power back in the hands of consumers. “The IoD’s latest statement, which contains inaccuracies and misrepresentation of facts, shows them once again attacking the rollout on ideological grounds,” said Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB. He argued the IoD poll sought its negative findings by failing to inform survey participants that “many billions more in savings” will be made via the programme, which government has said will be passed back to consumers.
Wall Street Journal: Oil prices slip as OPEC meeting looms
Oil futures fell sharply Friday, posting their biggest daily loss in two months on skepticism that the world’s largest exporters can cooperate and ease a supply glut that has dragged down prices for two years. Crude dropped just before noon after Bloomberg News reported Saudi Arabia doesn’t expect the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to reach an agreement when it meets Wednesday in Algeria’s capital. The comments echo those made last weekend by the group’s secretary-general to Algeria’s state news agency APS that the meeting is informal and not for decision-making. Traders “are reacting with disappointment and disgust,” said Donald Morton, senior vice president at Herbert J. Sims Co., who runs an energy-trading desk. Short bursts of optimism have often been broken by news of internal disputes and by widespread skepticism from analysts and traders about OPEC’s ability to strike a deal. Heavyweights including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have longstanding political rivalries and have been in a fierce competition to undercut each other and sell more oil. Analysts at Macquarie Group issued a note Friday advising traders to sell on almost any outcome from OPEC’s talks.
Oil Price: Libya ups oil output
Libya has done the unthinkable: oil production in the war-torn country is actually up substantially in recent weeks, as some idled oil fields came back into operation. Libya’s oil production jumped by more than 70 percent this month, from roughly 260,000 barrels per day in August to 450,000 barrels per day in September, according to Bloomberg. Libya hopes to build on that momentum with the return of some major export terminals that have been sidelined for nearly two years. Libya has set a target of nearly 1 million barrels per day by the end of the year, a hugely ambitious objective that will be difficult to meet. The country still is hoping to boost its fledgling unity government, but violence and political strife is still widespread. But the latest increase is an encouraging sign that progress can be made. That may be good news for Libya, but the North African OPEC member will be dumping additional barrels onto an oversupplied market. And since oil traders have largely forgotten about Libya, which hasn’t been able to boost production beyond the roughly 300,000 barrels per day since 2014, the new supply comes as a bit of a surprise. The oil market is now seeing an extra 200,000 barrels per day, supplies that have not been incorporated into many oil price forecasts. With the global surplus standing at about 1.6 million barrels per day in the first half of 2016, the additional barrels from Libya will have worldwide implications. The IEA already pushed back its timeframe for when it believes the market will balance until the middle of next year. If Libya continues to ramp up production, even the IEA’s dour assessment could prove to be too optimistic.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continued his effort to woo the oil and gas industry in a speech Thursday with a promise to slash regulations and cut taxes. Trump has promised the upper management of energy companies essentially everything they could want. He said Thursday that he would repeal a slew of regulations including the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the ban on new coal mining leases on federal land and other regulations. “It will be a future of conservation, prosperity and great success, for all the people in this room and all the people you employ,” he said Thursday. Some energy executives have supported Trump enthusiastically, including businessman Harold Hamm, who is thought to be Trump’s chief advisor on energy matters. But, for a Republican, the lack of widespread support has been visible. A recent Wall Street Journal report found that oil and gas employees have donated significantly more to Hillary Clinton than Trump. That’s a remarkable turnaround after years of staunch support for Republicans in the industry. There are a number of reasons why they may remain skeptical of Trump’s promises. For one, he has bungled the fundamentals in public settings. Trump suggested this past summer that he believes local communities can decide whether they want to ban fracking on their own, an idea anathema to the industry. He backtracked, but the damage was done.
Seeking Alpha: Oil industry unconcerned about electric vehicles
Sales of electric vehicles will fall far short of past projections. Paris agreement sounds good, but isn’t based in reality – last internal combustion engine-powered car would have to be sold in 2035 to reach targets. Major markets U.S., China, Germany, and Japan: less than 1 percent of all new vehicles sold are electric. It’ll be a long time before electric vehicles make a major impact on oil. According to the Climate Action Tracker, a group of four research organizations that track the actions being taken by 32 countries which represent 80 percent of emissions, the last vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine would have be sold in 2035 to reach the goals set forth in the Paris agreement. Assuming that’s an accurate conclusion, it shows how unrealistic the idea is, and why oil companies of all sort are very safe in regard to this part of the market.
Science Magazine: Texas quakes likely triggered by oil and gas activity
The 2012 quakes shook the small town of Timpson, Texas, which lies northeast of Houston near the Louisiana state line. The largest, a 4.8-magnitude quake, and three more magnitude-4 or higher that followed, all originated in a suspicious spot: directly beneath two wells where wastewater generated during oil and gas production in the region is pumped into porous sandstone layers about 1.8 kilometers underground. Oil and gas producers dispose of their wastewater deep underground for a variety of reasons; sometimes pumping fluid into the reservoir helps boost production, and in other cases it’s a convenient method of getting polluted water out of retention ponds on the surface so that it doesn’t inadvertently spill to pollute rivers, streams, or other sources of drinking water. According to data provided by the companies that owned the wells, between 2007 and mid-2012 the two injection wells nearest the quakes and another two wells fewer than 10 kilometers away pumped, on average, about 890,000 cubic meters of water into the ground each year. Many studies have already noted the link between wastewater injection wells and swarms of nearby tremors, says Manoochehr Shirzaei, a geophysicist at Arizona State University, Tempe. Few doubt that injection wells are the chief reason that Oklahoma has overtaken California as the earthquake capital of the United States’s lower 48.
Bloomberg: Uranium price sinks amid oversupply
Uranium prices have gone from bad to worse, slumping to an 11-year low as brimming global inventories weigh on a market that hasn’t recovered from the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Spot uranium declined 1.4 percent to $24.40 a pound on Thursday, the lowest since April 2005, according to data from Ux Consulting Co. Prices have slumped 29 percent this year, making it the worst performing energy commodity in 2016. The fuel has more than halved since hitting $73 the month before the Fukushima meltdown in 2011. Uranium is heading for a second annual decline, even as producers cut output and Japanese utilities attempt to restart atomic plants. Prices are unlikely to rebound until at least 2019 as a market rebalancing may take another three years, Kirill Komarov, first deputy head of Rosatom Corp., said last month. The Russian company is the world’s fourth-largest producer of the nuclear fuel. “The market is oversupplied and there is a lack of significant demand for spot material,” Jonathan Hinze, executive vice president at Ux Consulting, said by e-mail. “Some producers and other sellers need to move material for cash flow purposes, and thus, we have seen some pretty aggressive selling in the past few weeks. These market conditions are unlikely to change in the near future.”
Miners seeking the green light to dig up Queensland’s Galilee basin should be stopped as a priority, according to a new report showing existing fossil fuels projects worldwide are enough to push global warming beyond 2C. The report by the research and advocacy group Oil Change International argues there is a compelling case for the six Galilee coalmining proposals in the hands of Australian regulators to be axed in line with a “managed decline” of global coal, oil and gas supplies already on tap. It shows the embedded carbon emissions from operating fields and mines worldwide, if run to the end of their projected lifetimes, would drive warming beyond the 2C limit laid down by last year’s Paris agreement. Developed oil and gas reserves alone would take warming beyond the aspirational 1.5C target. The report shows that if Australia fully exploited its untapped coal reserves – the third largest in the world behind the US and Russia – the resulting emissions would blow almost a third of the world’s carbon budget for 1.5C. About a fifth of these emissions (24 gigatonnes) would come from the six Galilee mining hopefuls who have applied for permits.
China has been building two wind turbines every hour, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has told BBC News. This is the world’s biggest programme of turbine installation, double that of its nearest rival, the US. The nation’s entire annual increase in energy demand has been fulfilled from the wind. But the IEA warns China has built so much coal-fired generating capacity that it is turning off wind turbines for 15% of the time. The problem is that coal-fired power stations are given priority access to the grid. An IEA spokesman told BBC News: “The rather rosy statement on wind energy hides the issue that 2015 and the first half of 2016 also saw record new installations of coal.” China has now a clear over-supply. In the province of Gansu, 39% of wind energy had to be curtailed (turned off because there is not enough capacity on the grid). The average European wind farm is forced to stop generating between 1-2% of the year. He said: “China’s position is clearly unsustainable. It will need strong policy decisions, including the construction of many more grid lines and a phase-out policy for older, more inefficient coal power plants.” State media has reported China’s plans to impose a moratorium on all new coal-fired plants until 2018.
Off the coast of Hawaii, a tall buoy bobs and sways in the water, using the rise and fall of the waves to generate electricity. The current travels through an undersea cable for a mile to a military base, where it feeds into Oahu’s power grid — the first wave-produced electricity to go online in the U.S. By some estimates, the ocean’s endless motion packs enough power to meet a quarter of America’s energy needs and dramatically reduce the nation’s reliance on oil, gas and coal. But wave energy technology lags well behind wind and solar power, with important technical hurdles still to be overcome. To that end, the Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, with hopes the technology can someday be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fueling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel-starved places around the world. “More power from more places translates to a more agile, more flexible, more capable force,” Joseph Bryan, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, said during an event at the site. “So we’re always looking for new ways to power the mission.” Hawaii would seem a natural site for such technology. As any surfer can tell you, it is blessed with powerful waves. The island state also has the nation’s highest electricity costs — largely because of its heavy reliance on oil delivered by sea — and has a legislative mandate to get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2045. Still, it could be five to 10 years before wave energy technology can provide an affordable alternative to fossil fuels, experts say.
A bill passed by the California State Legislature in August is expected to help the state’s struggling biomass facilities and has been warmly received by industry representatives, as reported by Construction & Demolition Recycling. The bill would require the state’s largest utilities to get 125 megawatts (MW) of biomass power from dead trees in high hazard forested zones. The California Public Utilities Commission has also placed a 50 MW requirement on the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law by a Sept. 30 deadline. Utilities would have to meet the requirement by Dec. 1. Six biomass plants have closed in the state over the past two years at the same time as tens of millions dead trees need to be disposed after wildfires. Mobile incinerators were seen as one solution to the problem, but much of the material is still being sent to landfills. Biomass industry representatives say incentives for wind and solar have hurt business. While they applauded this new bill, they also said more incentives were needed for agricultural and organic waste.
Bloomberg: Widespread blackouts in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency Thursday as authorities worked to restore electricity to almost 1.5 million utility customers a day after a power-plant fire caused widespread blackouts. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who announced the state of emergency on his Twitter account, said about half of the island’s main utility clients should have electricity by Thursday afternoon. Power to some 130,000 users had been restored by early morning. “The expectation is that by tomorrow service will be restored,” he said during a press briefing in San Juan. “Because the system is so old, setbacks could occur.” The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said on Wednesday that a blaze at a substation of the Aguirre power plant in the southeast of the island triggered the outage. The fire at the power plant, which generates about 30 percent of the island’s electricity, tripped a safety mechanism that automatically shut down the system, bringing down two 230,000-volt transmission lines, Garcia Padilla said. The outage forced the government to close schools and cancel classes at public universities. It also knocked out water service for 340,000 customers of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. The blackout comes as the utility known as Prepa, its bondholders, insurance companies and fuel-line lenders are working on a deal that would reduce the utility’s $9 billion debt load through a bond exchange. The Aguirre power plant faced the risk of fines and closure earlier this year after it failed to install scrubbers needed to meet federal standards for toxic emissions.
Eubusiness: EU faces credibility test on climate action
The European Union is showing up empty-handed as dozens of countries gather today in New York to formally ratify the Paris climate agreement. Quick ratification and higher ambition at home are key if the EU wants to remain a climate champion. So far only three out of 28 EU member states have ratified the Paris Agreement. After months dozing at the back of the class while more alert countries ratified, EU leaders appear to have woken up, and are now pledging quick ratification. “Unless ratification is fast-tracked now, Europe will show up empty-handed once again at the November’s UN climate summit in Marrakech and this would be very embarrassing indeed. We simply cannot afford to stay on the sidelines here”, said Genevieve Pons, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Only by ratifying the Paris Agreement quickly can the EU show that it is serious about climate action.” “But faster, more ambitious European and national climate action is also needed. The EU’s current policy proposals do not reflect the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well under 2 degrees and pursuing efforts to stay below 1.5 degrees,” added Imke Luebbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office. “This year, nearly 90% of all EU climate and energy legislation for 2030 is being proposed, reviewed or reformed. Europe’s ability to seize these opportunities to make legislation more robust and ambitious will be the ultimate climate credibility test.”
Investors managing over €13 trillion in assets have called on EU regulators to foster a financial system that better takes climate risk into account when the European Commission reviews its Capital Markets Union next year. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), a powerful coalition of green investors and pension funds, has called on EU regulators to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy by profoundly reforming financial markets across Europe. “IIGCC has continuously called for European leadership on climate change – something Europe rightly prides itself for. However, this leadership must be reinforced by enabling the financial system to fully support action against climate change,” the group said in a policy paper published on Tuesday (20 September). “Financial regulation needs to enable and facilitate the changes occurring in the real economy,” it said, calling for an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy. “Climate risk needs to be better reflected in the price of risk so that a shift in capital can be encouraged,” the IIGCC wrote. This includes fostering “a financial system that encompasses time horizons capable of dealing with the challenge of climate change” and steer investments into clean technologies, it said. “We call on EU institutions to develop an action plan to make the capital markets union more sustainable,” the IIGCC said in reference to a flagship initiative by the European Commission to build a single market for capital across the 28-member bloc.
Investors managing over €13 trillion in assets have called on EU regulators to foster a financial system that better takes climate risk into account when the European Commission reviews its Capital Markets Union next year. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), a powerful coalition of green investors and pension funds, has called on EU regulators to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy by profoundly reforming financial markets across Europe. “IIGCC has continuously called for European leadership on climate change – something Europe rightly prides itself for. However, this leadership must be reinforced by enabling the financial system to fully support action against climate change,” the group said in a policy paper published on Tuesday (20 September). “Financial regulation needs to enable and facilitate the changes occurring in the real economy,” it said, calling for an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy. “Climate risk needs to be better reflected in the price of risk so that a shift in capital can be encouraged,” the IIGCC wrote. This includes fostering “a financial system that encompasses time horizons capable of dealing with the challenge of climate change” and steer investments into clean technologies, it said.“We call on EU institutions to develop an action plan to make the capital markets union more sustainable,” the IIGCC said in reference to a flagship initiative by the European Commission to build a single market for capital across the 28-member bloc.
TenneT Holding BV, Statnett SF and KfW on Friday held a ground-breaking ceremony for the 1.4-GW NordLink subsea cable project, the first direct link between the Norwegian and German energy markets. “NordLink connects two perfectly complementary systems for the exchange of renewable energy: German wind and solar power, on the one side, and Norwegian hydropower, on the other,” Lex Hartman, member of the TenneT executive board, said in a statement. The 623-km (387-mile) NordLink will be built by Norwegian transmission system operator (TSO) Statnett and DC Nordseekabel GmbH & Co KG. The latter is equally owned by Netherlands-based TSO TenneT and German development bank KfW and is responsible for the German part of the project. On Friday, the partners broke ground on the German converter station for the link. NordLink has been awarded Project of Common Interest status by the EU as it is important for the integration of European energy markets. It is expected to be in operation in 2020.
The Dutch parliament has voted for a 55% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030, which would require the closure of all the country’s coal-fired power plants. The unexpected vote on Thursday night by 77 to 72 would bring the Netherlands clearly into line with the Paris climate agreement, with some of the most ambitious climate policies in Europe. It is not binding on the government, but the Liberal and Labour parties say they will now push for speedy implementation of the motion. Five Dutch coal-fired power stations were closed last year but the country still has another five plants in operation. Three of these came online in 2015, and have been blamed for a 5% rise in the country’s emissions last year. The Dutch Liberal MP and vice president of the parliament, Stientje van Veldhoven, told the Guardian: “Closing down big coal plants – even if they were recently opened – is by far the most cost effective way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and all countries will need to take such far-reaching measures. We cannot continue to use coal as the cheapest source of energy when it is the most expensive from a climate perspective.” A court in the Netherlands last year ordered prime minister Mark Rutte’s government to cut its emissions by a quarter by 2020, citing the severity of the global warming threat which the Netherlands has recognised in international treaties.
Risks of a nuclear disaster have been significantly underestimated, scientists have warned just days after the Government approved plans for the £18billion Hinkley Point C reactor. Experts from the UK and Switzerland said that the true cost of the project could be much higher because of the underestimated risks. They blamed the miscalculation on a conflict of interest of industry bodies who have a stake in the major investment going ahead. Their estimations were based on ‘flawed and woefully incomplete data,’ scientists wrote in the journal Risk Analysis as they called for more transparency in the nuclear industry. And according to the largest analysis conducted on the risks of nuclear accidents a disaster on the scale of Fukushima is ‘more probable than not’ in the next 100 years. The worrying warnings come just days after Theresa May gave the final go ahead for work to begin on Britain’s biggest nuclear investment project in a generation at the Hinkley site in Somerset. A University of Sussex report warned that the global nuclear watchdog – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – lacks sufficient transparency.
Solar Power Portal: Europe’s first Tesla grid-scale powerpack installed in UK
The first grid scale installation of the Tesla Powerpack system in Europe has been completed in the UK by Camborne Energy Storage and is set to provide ancillary services to the National Grid. The first grid scale installation of the Tesla Powerpack system in Europe has been completed in the UK by Camborne Energy Storage and is set to provide ancillary services to the National Grid. The 500kWh capacity system, has been co-located with a 500kWp solar farm in Somerset to demonstrate the potential to provide a balanced grid.Dan Taylor, managing director of Camborne, said: “The development of Tesla’s first European grid-tied system is an exciting step forward for Camborne and Tesla in terms of our respective storage strategies. This project is another success for storage development in the UK and being co-located with a renewable generation site, should offer significant benefits to all stakeholders.” According to Poweri Services, which was the EPC for the project, it is a commercially viable project and not a demonstration. The system was able to share the existing grid connection used by the solar farm which helped to keep the costs low.
Wind Power Engineering: World’s first offshore wind power radar delivering data
DONG Energy and SmartWind Technologies have installed an advanced radar system collecting three-dimensional data on the wind flow in the Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm off England’s east coast. The project, the first of its kind in the world, represents a paradigm shift in wind measurements. DONG Energy recently started receiving three-dimensional data from the advanced BEACon radar located at the Westermost Rough Wind Farm on England’s east coast. “This is a huge step forward for wind insights,” explains Nicolai Gayle Nygaard, BEACon Technical Manager at DONG Energy. “We’re getting minute-by-minute 3D images of the wind flow through the wind-power plant. This is a game changer for the industry. We’re no longer limited to measuring the wind at just one point, now we can document the wind field across the entire wind-power plant and coastal domain.” Whereas conventional measurement technologies are like using a torch in a dark room – you have a limited view – the entire room is flooded with light with the new radars. “We get new insights that provide valuable information for the design and operation of future wind-power plants,” adds Nygaard.
The ESB has opened the UK’s first new large gas plant in three years. The plant near Manchester began electricity generation this week. The plant, with a capacity of 880 megawatts, can generate enough electricity to power around 1 million homes. “Carrington Power Station is the first large-scale gas-fired power plant to come online in Great Britain since 2013,” the ESB said, adding that first commercial operations began on Monday. “As well as providing 880MW of reliable baseload electricity, Carrington Power Station will be one of the most flexible plants providing fast back-up to intermittent wind and solar generation when it is needed most,” it said. The plant has already secured a contract for the winter of 2019/20 under the government’s new capacity market scheme, which pays owners of power plants to provide back-up electricity at short notice. The scheme will kick in when supply is too low to meet demand, for instance when renewable energy sources fail to produce enough power or when thermal power plants close or have failures.
Britain, which last week gave the go-ahead for EDF to build its £18 billion Hinkley C nuclear project, needs several new power plants to be built over the next decade to replace its ageing power fleet. All but one of Britain’s existing nuclear plants, which produce around a fifth of the country’s electricity, are set to close by 2030 as the plants come to the end of their operational lifespan.
This Is Money: Seven million UK households face energy bill shock
Seven million energy customers are submitting meter readings less than once a quarter to their provider and risk being landed with an unexpected bill. By not giving regular meter readings and paying estimated bills, customers could be paying too much to their supplier or may end up in debt to it. Those paying too little owe an average of £125 to their energy provider, according to new research. Those who are paying for more energy than they use are owed an average of £137 by their supplier, data from the comparison site uSwitch has found. Of the 2,026 asked by the website, 49 per cent had found themselves suddenly in credit or owing money to their supplier following a prolonged period of paying estimated rather than bills based on their actual usage. Five per cent of those asked who ended up in debt to their provider after submitting a meter reading and three per cent who were in credit faced a change in the balance of their account by £500 or more. Ofgem says consumers should give readings to their provider on a quarterly basis and suppliers are required to do so at least once a year. But a quarter said they didn’t know they should read their meters once a quarter and a fifth said they thought it should be up to the provider not the consumer to do so. Less than half said they had given readings after being prompted by their energy provider and 16 per cent said they didn’t think giving the meter reading would make any difference to their energy bills. When smart meters are installed into homes by 2020 there will no longer be a need to give energy meter readings and estimated bills will be scrapped.
Evening Standard: World-famous conservationist on trial for ecoprojects tax scam
Professor Ian Swingland, who was given an OBE in 2007, allegedly helped investors avoid tax on £170 million of income during the three-year scam. Swingland, 69, founded the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology in 1989 at the University of Kent, which is now a world-leading research facility into biodiversity, communities and sustainable development. He is on trial at Southwark crown court with Anthony Blakey, 65, John Banyard, 67, Martin King, 54, and Andrew Bascombe, 58, accused of operating “a series of dishonest tax schemes” between 2005 and 2008. Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC said: “They were opportunities to invest in research designed to counteract the effects of climate change and to find a cure for HIV. They were designed to be attractive to people who had a large amount of income that they would rather not pay tax on.” It is alleged they ran the scam by trading carbon credits, so the “money would be invested in research into reforestation”, said Mr Christopher. But “nothing like” the amount said to be going into research was spent. Bascombe, of East Putney, Banyard, of Horsham, Blakey, of Littlehampton, and King, of Beckenham, each deny two counts of cheating the public revenue. Blakey and King also deny one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Swingland, of Canterbury, Kent, denies one count of each charge. The trial continues.
The first shipment of gas fracked from U.S. shale will arrive in Britain next week, upping pressure on Scotland to reassess its opposition to fracking. Chemicals giant Ineos will be importing ethane, obtained from rocks fractured at high pressure, in a foretaste of larger deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from shale set to reach Europe in 2018. The shipment of ethane, used to make plastics, anti-freeze and detergents, will arrive in Scotland’s Firth of Forth on Tuesday, accompanied by a lone Scots piper at sunrise, the company said. The Zurich-headquartered group is against a Scottish moratorium on fracking. It is Britain’s biggest shale gas company in terms of acreage and it has promised to share six percent of future shale gas revenue with local residents. Chairman Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, argues he is offering the potential from shale fracking to create tens of thousands of jobs, putting pressure on the Scottish government grappling with an economy expected to be weakened by Britain’s decision to leave the EU. While the British government backs shale gas extraction, Scotland, under its devolved powers, imposed a moratorium on fracking in early 2015. It said more research was needed before a final decision.
The Paris climate agreement is on the brink of coming into force after 31 nations officially joined the landmark accord, with the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, predicting it will be fully ratified by the end of the year. On Wednesday, 31 countries formally signed up to the Paris deal at the UN general assembly in New York. They include Brazil, the world’s seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Mexico, Argentina and Sri Lanka. Oil-rich United Arab Emirates also ratified the deal, as did nations considered particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, such as Kiribati and Bangladesh.nThe pledges mean that a total of 60 countries, representing 47.7% of global emissions, have now formally joined the Paris agreement. The deal aims to limit the global temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of keeping it to 1.5C. A total of 55 nations representing at least 55% of global emissions need to sign up for the deal to come into force. The first of these thresholds has now been reached, with Ban and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, both predicting that the agreement will be fully implemented within months.
Business Insider: Obama calls for a new global business model to fight climate change
Obama gave his final address to the United Nations on Tuesday, where he discussed how investing in new technologies can help combat climate change, among other issues. He highlighted the need for a “new model” for the global marketplace, one that’s both environmentally sustainable and inclusive of rich and poor countries. The address came just a day before Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum requiring the federal government to consider climate change when setting national security policies. In the address, Obama said that “investing in research” and providing “market incentives” to develop new technologies is critical to fighting climate change and greenhouse gases. He also discussed the landmark Paris climate deal, signed in December 2015, giving it another boost in front of world leaders. Obama said that the agreement — which was ratified by both the US and China when Obama visited Hangzhou for the G20 conference earlier in September — gives the global community a “framework to act,” but only if we “scale up our ambition.”
Scientific American: Kerry calls for phase-out of refrigerants
The United States and other countries proclaimed yesterday that an upcoming effort to amend an international ozone treaty to curb refrigerants that contribute to global warming would be a test of the post-Paris Agreement era. Speaking in a posh Midtown hotel conference room blocks away from the United Nations, where the landmark global warming deal struck in the French capital sailed past its first ratification hurdle Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said a hydrofluorocarbon phasedown under the Montreal Protocol would be a “huge step” toward making good on the promise of Paris. “We know that the Paris Agreement itself won’t, in and of itself, get the job done,” said Kerry, who spent much of that summit in the suburb of Le Bourget working to deliver the deal. “So we need to do more,” he said. “And one of the single most important actions that the global community can take is to amend the Montreal Protocol to include an ambitious amendment that phases down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs.”
A far-reaching global trade deal being negotiated in secret could threaten the goals of the Paris climate deal by making it harder for governments to favour clean energy over fossil fuels, a leak of the latest negotiating text shows. The controversial Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) aims to liberalise trade between the EU and 22 countries across the global services sector, which employs tens of millions in Europe alone. But a new EU text seen by the Guardian would oblige signatories to work towards “energy neutrality” between renewable energy and fossil fuel power, although amendments proposed by the EU would exempt nuclear power from this rule. The document, marked “limited distribution – for Tisa participants only”, would also force member states to legislate against “anti-competitive conduct” and “market distortions” in energy-related services. This is viewed by campaigners as code for state support for clean power sectors, such as wind and solar. A right to regulate is explicitly mentioned in the paper, but governments would first have to prove the necessity for regulations that legally constrain multinationals. The same clause was used in the World Trade Organisation’s Gatt and Gats treaties which entered into force in 1995, and led to 44 complaints by multinationals via their governments. Susan Cohen Jehoram, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, told the Guardian: “We fear the same thing will happen with Tisa but on a much larger scale, when legislation is proposed to keep temperature rises to 1.5C [above pre-industrial levels, as agreed at the Paris climate summit].
Common Dreams: How nuclear power causes global warming
Nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources. In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew eight times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11 percent more than the average coal plant. Every day, large reactors like the two at Diablo Canyon, California, individually dump about 1.25 billion gallons of water into the ocean at temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the natural environment. Diablo’s “once-through cooling system” takes water out of the ocean and dumps it back superheated, irradiated and laden with toxic chemicals. Many U.S. reactors use cooling towers which emit huge quantities of steam and water vapor that also directly warm the atmosphere. And that’s not all. All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are “carbon free.” And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive. The mining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas.
The total world energy usage (coal +oil +hydroelectric +nuclear +renewable) in 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE). This translates to 17.3 Terawatts continuous power during the year. Now, if we cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power. This area is 43,000 square miles. The Great Saharan Desert in Africa is 3.6 million square miles and is prime for solar power (more than twelve hours per day). That means 1.2% of the Sahara desert is sufficient to cover all of the energy needs of the world in solar energy. There is no way coal, oil, wind, geothermal or nuclear can compete with this. The cost of the project will be about five trillion dollars, one time cost at today’s prices without any economy of scale savings. That is less than the bail out cost of banks by Obama in the last recession. Easier to imagine the cost is 1/4 of US national debt, and equal to 10% of world one year GDP. So this cost is rather small compared to other spending in the world. There is no future in other energy forms. In twenty to thirty years solar will replace everything. There will still be need for liquid fuels but likely it will be hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water and that powered by solar. Then tankers and pipelines will haul that hydrogen around the world. One can also envision zirconium or titanium batteries that store large quantities of hydrogen.