We’re going to be hearing a lot about president-elect Trump in coming weeks, so in this week’s Blowout we break off Trump coverage to feature a story that hasn’t received much media attention but which has implications that in the long term are perhaps just as important – the USGS’s estimate of 20 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically-recoverable oil in the Midland Basin. If this much oil remains to be found in an area as intensively-explored as Texas, how much might there be in areas that have yet to feel the tread of the roughneck’s boot?
The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey.
This estimate is for continuous (unconventional) oil, and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources. The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale assessment is nearly three times larger than that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks resource assessment, making this the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date. “The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”
We continue with the requisite dose of Trump articles, following up with Obama’s ban on Arctic drilling, Russia makes $6 billion simply by talking to OPEC, the North Sea O&G industry pleads for support, fossil fuel era “far from over”, Vietnam cans a nuclear plant, the Chernobyl Arch is moving, Asia to underpin coal demand, France to shut down coal, the Marrakech Climate Conference, global CO2 emissions not growing, vegetation slows atmospheric CO2 increase, the EU to introduce capacity mechanisms, the UK’s carbon price floor, tidal power generation in Scotland, the renewables threat to grid stability, large wind farms reduce wind speeds, a hot North Pole and a cold Siberia, UK research institute accused of misconduct and fraud, lithium from geothermal brines and what Donald Trump thinks of Scotland.
Washington Post: Trump victory reverses U.S. energy and environmental priorities
Donald J. Trump comes into office with a plan to toss out most of what President Obama achieved on energy and the environment. Although Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, in putting together a transition team the New York real estate mogul has chosen veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science. Oil industry executives were delighted. “It sure looks a whole lot friendlier than it would have under President Podesta … I mean President Clinton,” Stephen Brown, vice president of government relations for the oil refiner Tesoro, said, referring to John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman who views steps to slow climate change as a high priority and who led climate efforts under Obama. Brown predicted that the Paris climate accord “will be scrapped quickly,” obstacles and “procedural hurdles” to infrastructure projects such as pipelines would be reexamined, and regulations about the social cost of carbon and other environmental impacts would be “gone.” “The Clean Power Plan will die a slow death,” he said, adding that public lands permitting for oil and gas drilling would open up.
Oil Price: Trump To Usher In New Era For Oil And Gas
The shockwave of the surprise election of Donald Trump is still being felt around the world, with all sectors of the global economy scrambling to figure out the ramifications of his presidency. The political establishment in Washington is reeling, and there are more questions than answers on Trump’s approach to energy. One thing is for sure: he will usher in one of the most deregulated eras for oil and gas in recent memory. He will rescind regulations that affect methane emissions, hydraulic fracturing, and greenhouse gas emissions. He will likely streamline or gut permitting requirements for major infrastructure projects, clearing the way for pipelines. He will probably open up public lands for expanded drilling opportunities, and in time, he could auction off drilling rights in the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Alaskan wilderness, and even the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. He has also promised to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Some of that agenda will require acts of Congress, but with Republican control of both the House and Senate, nearly all of that agenda is within reach. It is hard to overstate what a revolution in energy policy this could be. The one major caveat is that Trump has been vague on specifics, so the devil will be in the details.
The U.S. can realize President-elect Donald Trump’s dream of independence from foreign oil “foes” and “cartels”–but he likely won’t live to see it unless he embraces the kinds of policies he’s campaigned against, according to a new study out Wednesday. In its World Energy Outlook for 2016, the International Energy Agency said that on current policies, the U.S. will need until 2040 to reduce its oil import needs to a level that can be met by just Canada and Mexico. At that point, it would be free of the need to intervene in the Middle East to guarantee vital energy supplies. It could happen sooner, but that would require Trump to really embrace the kind of transformation of the energy sector called for by the Paris Accord on climate change–promoting renewables, encouraging energy efficiency, and migrating the transport sector to electric motors. That’s kind of awkward, given that Trump has pledged to pull out of the accord and revive the coal industry instead.
Climate Change News: Republicans plan multi-billion dollar climate budget raid
US Republicans are expected to axe billions of dollars in climate finance when they take the White House and Congress in January. Funds to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and develop sustainably will be redirected to domestic priorities. “We are going to cancel billions in payments to the UN climate change programmes and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure,” said President-elect Donald Trump in his 22 October Gettysburg address. With a Republican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, there appears to be little standing in his way. “That brings a fear to African countries,” Akabiwa Nyambe, a Zambian official, told Climate Home at a side meeting of COP22 climate talks in Marrakech. “We have been looking forward to the US bringing a lot of funding into projects… It drops our faces.”
Bloomberg: Donald Trump could be OPEC’s new best friend
OPEC needs friends and a miracle to re-balance the oil market. Could President Trump be that unwitting buddy, providing the miracle by tearing up the nuclear agreement with Iran and removing almost a million barrels a day of supply at a stroke? Trump’s number one priority is to dismantle the “disastrous” deal — although his to-do list might have changed since saying that back in March. Can he do it? Yes, despite assertions to the contrary from Iran’s President Rouhani and a slew of analysts. Here’s how: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is snappily titled, wasn’t ratified by Congress, but brought into force by President Obama via executive order. Trump could rescind that. The fall-out would be messy, but it could be done (in theory).
Financial Post: So long, OPEC — you’re at the top of Donald Trump’s hit list
Change is coming, folks — assuming, that is, that Donald Trump follows through with the vague energy policies he announced on the campaign trail. But if there is one policy Americans, and its allies like Canada and Mexico, should pay close attention to, it’s Trump’s promise to ban OPEC oil from U.S. markets. The Republican candidate laid out his energy policy in a May 26 speech in Bismarck, N.D., entitled “An America First Energy Plan.” “America’s incredible energy potential remains untapped. It is a totally self-inflicted wound. Under my presidency, we will accomplish complete American energy independence,” he said. “Imagine a world in which our foes, and the oil cartels, can no longer use energy as a weapon.”Now that he will soon be president of the United States, Trump no longer has to just imagine such a world. He has the means to accomplish it.
OPEC will complete an accord to cut production this month, while stopping short of setting the individual country limits needed to make the deal work, according to a Bloomberg survey. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will finalize a pledge to reduce total output — its first cut in eight years — when the group meets on Nov. 30, according to 14 of 20 analysts polled this week. Yet only seven of the 20 said the group will specify how much each member should cut, an essential part of OPEC’s actions in the past. “It looks like there will be a deal, but not the deal that’s really needed,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. OPEC members will try to resolve the differences at impromptu talks in Doha this week, and will hold discussions there with Russia, the biggest exporter outside the group, which has signaled it’s prepared to at least freeze production.
Huffington Post: Obama Administration Blocks Arctic Oil Drilling Through 2022
Further cementing President Barack Obama’s climate legacy, the Department of the Interior announced on Friday its intent to ban oil drilling in the U.S. section of the Arctic Ocean for the next five years, citing environmental risks. The plan blocks the sale of new offshore oil and gas leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, north of Alaska, between 2017 and 2022. “The plan focuses lease sales in the best places ― those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure ― and removes regions that are simply not right to lease,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. Earlier this week, NextGen Climate urged Obama to use his executive authority to permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from such drilling, noting the “dangerous agenda” of President-elect Donald Trump. “The Trump Administration has the potential to do serious damage to our climate ― but in the last few months of his presidency, President Obama can take concrete steps to secure his environmental legacy,” NextGen President Tom Steyer said in a statement, adding it would continue to flight against “Trump’s dark vision and dangerous plans for our country.” Unsurprisingly, the oil and gas industry is disappointed by the announcement. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, called the move “short-sighted” and “detrimental.”
Russia’s decision earlier this year to engage in talks with OPEC about limiting oil output has added more than 400 billion rubles ($6 billion) to the nation’s budget, according to two officials familiar with government calculations. The possibility that Russia could cooperate with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to shrink the global oil surplus helped lift international crude prices from as low as $27 in January to an average of $44 for the year as a whole. This increase, combined with rising Russian production, has boosted government revenue by 400 billion to 700 billion rubles, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the calculations haven’t been made public.Russian production reached a post-Soviet monthly record of 11.2 million barrels a day last month compared with 10.9 million barrels a day in January. Energy Minister Novak has said Russia is willing to limit supply if OPEC finalizes its cuts this month, but would prefer to freeze at current levels rather than reduce output.
Herald Scotland: North Sea oil and gas industry pleads for support
North Sea oil and gas industry leaders have called on Philip Hammond to act urgently to help reverse the potentially disastrous slump in activity in the area triggered by the crude price slump. Oil & Gas UK said the Chancellor could use his Autumn Statement later this month to provide a vital spur for the North Sea where billions of barrels reserves may be left undeveloped unless investment increases. The chief executive of the trade body, Deirdre Michie, warned: “Exploration and development drilling has fallen to record lows and industry figures reveal a drought of new investment approved in 2016 and 2017 looks no better.” Oil & Gas UK has forecast the downturn will cost around 120,000 jobs by the end of this year. The organisation said Mr Hammond could encourage new entrants to buy North Sea assets by confirming they will be able to claim tax relief on the cost of decommissioning fields when they run dry. While there may be around 20 billion barrels to be recovered from the North Sea, many fields are controlled by firms with no plans to develop them. Oil & Gas UK wants firms to get tax breaks to encourage them to increase output from producing fields.
Financial Times: Aberdeen-based energy group buys $1bn of North Sea assets
Siccar Point Energy, a company backed by Blackstone, the US private equity group, has agreed to pay up to $1bn for the North Sea assets of Austria’s OMV. It marks the biggest acquisition in the UK offshore energy industry since crude prices crashed two years ago and highlights the interest of private equity investors in the North Sea as cash-strapped oil companies shed assets. For Aberdeen-based Siccar, the deal seals its arrival as a serious operator in the North Sea with stakes in three of the biggest new UK oilfields alongside partners including BP, Chevron and Statoil. OMV is the latest of several energy companies to exit or reduce their presence in the North Sea — one of the world’s oldest and highest-cost offshore oil basins. However, Mustafa Siddiqui, who heads Blackstone’s energy activities in Europe, said there was still value to be found in UK waters. “The death knell for North Sea oil and gas has not rung,” he told the Financial Times. “There are parties like us who want to invest in the basin and find new oil but we have to be selective.”
World Nuclear News: Fossil fuel era “far from over” – IEA
In the World Energy Outlook 2016, published today, the IEA presents three scenarios for the world’s energy mix up to 2040. The New Policies Scenario looks at the impact of existing government policies and commitments on energy demand, supplies and investments. The Current Policies Scenario only includes policies that are firmly enacted, providing a benchmark. The 450 Scenario demonstrates a pathway to limit long-term global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. World power generation will increase from 23,809 TWh in 2014 to 34,092 TWh in 2040, according to the IEA’s 450 Scenario. In this scenario, global nuclear generating capacity increases from 398 GWe in 2014 to 820 GWe in 2040. Nuclear output would grow from 2535 TWh to 6101 TWh over this period, when it will account for 18% of total electricity production. “In the case of nuclear, even though one-sixth of the global nuclear fleet is retired in the next decade (80% of this in OECD countries), overall prospects are buoyed by large new build programs in a select group of countries led by China, Russia and India,” the IEA said. “A detailed analysis of the pledges made for the Paris Agreement on climate change finds that the era of fossil fuels appears far from over and underscores the challenge of reaching more ambitious climate goals,” the IEA said in a statement.
Power Magazine: Vietnam Kills Nuclear Power Project Due to High Costs
The Vietnamese government has canceled the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant project, after cost estimates for the plant nearly doubled, according to the Hanoi-based news agency dtinews. Le Hong Tinh, vice chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Science, Technology, and Environment, in an interview conducted with dtinews on November 10, said costs for the project had increased to VND400 trillion ($19 billion), raising concerns about the project’s feasibility. Although the country has spent trillions on the endeavor already, it is willing to cut its losses now rather than throwing good money after bad on the development. Many things have changed since the project was approved in 2009. At the time, annual economic growth estimates were in the 7.5% to 10% range, and electricity demand was expected to follow suit. But that never materialized. Current growth estimates are only around 6%, and energy efficiency improvements, spurred by the proliferation of modern technology, have held electricity demand growth in check. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was also a detriment to the project. But economics seem to have been the death knell for the project. According to dtinews, Duong Quang Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Electricity Corp., told the media on November 9 that the price of nuclear power was much more expensive than other options, such as coal or oil, making it uncompetitive. Le Hong Tinh seemed to echo the sentiment, suggesting that original estimates priced nuclear power at 4¢–4.5¢/kWh, but based on the latest cost projections, the plant’s power would have been priced closer to 8¢/kWh.
Wall Street Journal: Man buys unfinished nuclear power station for $111m
A canny property developer in the US has made history by becoming the first individual ever to buy a nuclear power station. The well-connected Franklin J. Haney, whose $10bn property portfolio includes government offices and a stake in a major toll road, picked up the power station in Hollywood, Alabama at an auction this week for just $111m. Claiming a reputation for “innovative financing” and “imaginative acquisitions”, the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based mogul will need to bring all his deal-making talents to bear on his new asset because construction on the Bellefonte plant was abandoned in 1988, and Haney says he will find another $13bn to get it completed. After outbidding one rival in the 14 November auction, 75-year-old Haney said the rejuvenated plant would “transform communities” hit by coal-plant closures in Alabama and Tennessee. Completing the plant will employ up to 4,000 people, Haney said, while operating it would create 2,000 “permanent, high paying jobs”. Along with the incomplete 2.6GW power station, which has for years been ransacked for spare parts, Haney will get 1,400 acres of property on the Guntersville Reservoir. To hold him to his promises regarding the site, the seller, state utility Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), stipulated that Haney must invest at least $25m on the property within five years of closing the deal, and he has two years to close the deal.
World Nuclear News: Chernobyl arch moved into place in historic engineering feat
The process of sliding the arched structure into place to shield the damaged unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant started today, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said. London-based EBRD described the milestone at the plant in Ukraine as “one of the most ambitious projects in the history of engineering”.The arch, called the New Safe Confinement (NSC), is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257m, a length of 162m, a height of 108m and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes equipped. It will now be moved into its “resting place”, the bank said, over Chernobyl’s reactor 4 which was destroyed in the accident 30 years ago. “The sliding is done with help of a special skidding system that consists of 224 hydraulic jacks to push the arch 60 centimetres each stroke. It is anticipated that the total skid time will be around 40 hours of operation spread over a period of up to five days,” the EBRD said. The NSC was constructed in a clean area near reactor 4 and will be slid over 327m to seal off the unit. It will make the site safe and allow for the eventual dismantling of the aging shelter currently housing the reactor and the management of the radioactive waste within the structure, the bank said. Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of ecology and natural resources, said today’s event is “the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident”.
The Chernobyl NSC, pictured earlier this month (Image: EBRD)
In recent years, coal and natural gas have been dueling for the role of the nation’s largest electricity source, and it seems like coal will win that battle this winter. Coal is expected to surpass natural gas as the most common source of electricity in December, January and February, according to an analysis released Friday by the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s a rebound for coal, which, after years as nation’s dominant power source, was surpassed by natural gas in until April 2015. For the six months of 2016, natural gas supplied 36 percent of the nation’s energy, as compared to the 31 percent supplied by coal. But now steadily rising natural gas prices means it will be cheaper to generate electricity with coal, the department’s analysis predicts. The Energy Department predicted in its October energy outlook that average natural gas prices would steadily rise in the coming months — by February prices are expected to be 40 percent higher than the price of coal-fueled electricity.
Hellenic Shipping News: Fast-developing Asian nations to underpin coal demand
Strong economic development in South East Asia and India will underpin global coal demand, which is set to return to 2014 levels in the next four years, paving the way for Australia to increase its share of global trade. Citing the World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2016 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) said on Thursday that demand for coal in Asia would grow at 0.8% a year, with Indian demand for coal growing at 3.6% a year and Southeast Asia at 4.4% a year. The report notes that Australian coal exports are forecast to increase from 350-million tonnes to 410-million tonnes by 2040 with the Australian share of international trade growing from 32% to 36%. The WEO report states coal’s primary share in global primary energy use remained at 29%, the second-largest provider of energy behind oil. The report notes that coal also remains the mainstay of electricity generation, providing 41% of global supply. Gas is forecast to remain the fastest growing fossil fuel to 2040, with a yearly growth rate of 1.5%.
France will shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2023, president Francois Hollande has announced. Speaking at an annual UN climate change conference on Wednesday, Mr Hollande vowed to beat by two years the UK’s commitment to stop using fossil fuels to generate power by 2025. Mr Hollande, a keynote speaker at the event in Marrakech, Morocco, also praised his US counterpart Barack Obama for his work on climate change, and then appeared to snub president-elect Donald Trump. “The role played by Barack Obama was crucial in achieving the Paris agreement,” Mr Hollande said, before adding, in what has been perceived as a dig at Mr Trump, that becoming a signatory to the treaty is “irreversible”. “We need carbon neutrality by 2050,” the French President continued, promising that coal will no longer form part of France’s energy mix in six to seven years’ time.
France and the United Nations on Tuesday stepped up warnings to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump about the risks of quitting a 2015 global plan to combat climate change, saying a historic shift from fossil fuels is unstoppable. French President Francois Hollande, addressing almost 200 nations meeting in Morocco on ways to slow global warming, said that inaction would be “disastrous for future generations and it would be dangerous for peace. The United States, the largest economic power in the world, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, must respect the commitments it has undertaken,” Hollande said to applause. The agreement was “irreversible”, he said. Ban said Trump, as a “very successful business person”, would understand that market forces were driving the world economy towards cleaner energies such as wind and solar power, which are becoming cheaper, and away from fossil fuels. “I am sure he will make a fast and wise decision” on the Paris Agreement, Ban said, saying he had spoken to Trump by telephone after his victory and planned to meet him.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday he will continue his efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on global warming until the day President Barack Obama leaves office on Jan. 20. Speaking in New Zealand following a trip to Antarctica, Kerry said his administration would continue to do everything possible to meet its responsibility to future generations. Kerry has long championed climate action but now his legacy is under threat. President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax and said he would “cancel” U.S. involvement in the landmark Paris deal. Kerry said it would be up to the Trump administration to define itself on climate change. He said that sometimes there is a divide between what is said on the campaign trail and what is done in governance. But Kerry appeared to take a swipe at Trump when he listed some of the ways in which global warming could already be seen. He said that globally, there were more fires, floods and damaging storms, and sea levels were rising. “The evidence is mounting in ways that people in public life should not dare to avoid accepting as a mandate for action,” Kerry said. “Now the world’s scientific community has concluded that climate change is happening beyond any doubt. And the evidence is there for everybody to see,” Kerry said.
Huffington Post: Canada Called Out At COP22 For Fossil Fuel Expansion
The Liberal government’s twin pursuits of expanded foreign markets for Canadian fossil fuels and global action on climate change are getting some unfavourable notice at an international climate summit in Morocco. The newly elected Trudeau government made a big splash at last December’s United Nations-sponsored COP21 in Paris by helping push aggressive global ambition in the battle against a warming planet. But while negotiating a national plan with the provinces and territories to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Liberals have also approved a major liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia this fall and signalled their openness to new oil pipeline proposals. Environmental advocates attending this year’s COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, issued a release Wednesday calling out Canada’s competing policy priorities. “It is a serious concern when we see the international community not honouring their commitments and we are concerned Canada is still pursuing their fossil fuel projects,” Benson Ireri of Christian Aid Africa said in the release. “Developed countries have a moral obligation to honour the Paris Agreement.”
Representatives from 47 of the world’s most disadvantaged nations have pledged to generate all their future energy needs from renewables. Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum issued their statement on the last day of the Marrakech climate conference. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Haiti, among others, say they will update their national plans on cutting carbon before 2020. Delegates here welcomed the move, saying it was “inspirational”. These two weeks of negotiations have been overshadowed to an extent by reaction to the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. But in an effort to show that even the world’s poorest countries are committed to dealing with global warming, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) members have issued a promise to fully green their economies between 2030 and 2050. Termed the Marrakech Vision, the plan promises that the 47 members will: “strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”. “We are pioneering the transformation towards 100% renewable energy, but we want other countries to follow in our footsteps in order to evade catastrophic impacts we are experiencing through hurricanes, flooding and droughts,” said Mr Mattlan Zackhras, a minister from the Marshall Islands.
It is a vision of a future so apocalyptic that it is hard to even imagine. But, if leading scientists writing in one of the most respected academic journals are right, planet Earth could be on course for global warming of more than seven degrees Celsius within a lifetime. And that, according to one of the world’s most renowned climatologists, could be “game over” – particularly given the imminent presence of climate change denier Donald Trump in the White House. According to the current best estimate, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if humans carry on with a “business as usual” approach using large amounts of fossil fuels, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2100. However new research by an international team of experts who looked into how the Earth’s climate has reacted over nearly 800,000 years warns this could be a major under-estimate. In a paper in the journal Science Advances, they said the actual range could be between 4.78C to 7.36C by 2100, based on one set of calculations. Some have dismissed the idea that the world would continue to burn fossil fuels despite obvious global warming, but emissions are still increasing despite a 1C rise in average thermometer readings since the 1880s.
Financial Times: Scientists hail progress in fighting growth of CO2 emissions
Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have stayed almost flat for the third year in a row in what scientists say is a “clear and unpredicted break” that could mark a turning point in the world’s efforts to curb climate change. Emissions are only expected to rise by 0.2 per cent in 2016, having failed to increase in 2015 and growing by just 0.7 per cent in 2014. That is a sharp turnround from the decade up to 2013 when carbon pollution growth averaged 2.3 per cent a year. A fall in the use of coal in China, by far the world’s largest carbon emitter, is the main reason for the slowdown.Global carbon pollution usually slows when a shock to the world’s economy stalls the use of coal, oil and other fossil fuels in factories and power plants.But the global economy has been growing by as much 3 per cent a year as emissions growth has slumped, which is “unprecedented” according to Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the UK’s University of East Anglia, an author of research to be unveiled at UN climate talks in Marrakesh on Monday. The break in emissions growth ties in with the pledges countries have made for the international climate deal struck in Paris last December, which aims to stop global temperatures rising more than 2C from pre-industrial times.
A new study says that green vegetation has helped offset a large fraction of human related carbon emissions between 2002 and 2014. Plants and trees have become more absorbent say the authors, because of so much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Over the past 50 years, the amount of CO2 absorbed by the Earth’s oceans, plants and vegetation has doubled and these carbon sinks now account for about 45% of the gas emitted each year because of human activities. Researchers now report that since the start of the 21st century there has been a significant change in the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by the plants and trees. The new analysis suggests that between 2002 and 2014 the amount of human caused CO2 remaining in the atmosphere declined by around 20%. Reports earlier this year indicated that there has been an increase in the number of trees and plants growing on the Earth, the so-called greening of the planet. But the authors of this new study believe that this isn’t the main cause of the slowdown in the rise of CO2. “There have been reports of the greening of the land surface but what we found was that was of secondary importance to the direct effect of CO2 fertilisation on the plants that are already there,” lead author Dr Trevor Keenan told BBC News. “We have a huge amount of vegetation on the Earth and that was being fertilised by CO2 and taking in more CO2 as a result.”
On 30 November, the European Commission will unveil its Winter Package, a series of legislative proposals supposedly aimed at providing “clean energy for all”, of which EurActiv.fr has obtained a copy. One contentious issue is the introduction of capacity mechanisms across the EU. These systems, which are already in use in several European countries such as the United Kingdom and France, allow electricity producers to earn money from their idle generation capacity. But for environmental NGOs, capacity mechanisms are little more than veiled subsidies for fossil fuels. And another problem: the regulation calls into question the priority market access enjoyed by renewable energies. Priority access currently serves as a guarantee of profitability for investors in renewable energy. The EU executive also proposed the creation of a European energy regulation authority to supervise the national authorities. The text says that governments “may” offer their citizens the right to produce electricity. But with no compulsory element and no guarantee of market access, the right to produce and sell renewable electricity is meaningless. And there is more bad news for environmentalists: the Commission has proposed a renewable energy target of 27% for 2030, but with no binding national targets and no effort sharing plan. Jean-François Fauconnier, from the NGO Climate Action Network, said, “The European Commission has not understood the message of the Paris Agreement. These proposals are kilometres from what is needed to change the Paris objectives in reality.”
For the liberal metropolitan elites who forecast immediate doom and destruction, it’s just adding insult to injury. The British economy is still refusing to collapse, despite the increasing disarray in government over the Brexit process and rising signs of trouble further down the road. The country’s jobless rate hit an 11-year low of 4.8% in the three months through September (i.e., the three months immediately following the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU in June.), while the number of people in work remained at a record high of 31.8 million. That’s according to figures released Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics. The figures come only a day after the ONS said the annual rate of inflation fell back to 0.9% in October, below the 1.1% predicted by economists. To many people, this is a bit like the part in the old “Road Runner” cartoons where Wile E. Coyote walks off a cliff but fails to notice at first.
Assuming the role of the now-defunct Energy and Climate Change (ECC) watchdog, the newly-formed Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee will seek expert advice on which policy areas should be prioritised in negotiations on the UK’s departure from the European Union. BEIS Committee Chair Iain Wright MP said: “The UK’s vote to leave the European Union raises serious questions about the UK’s future energy and climate change policy, which the Government will need to consider carefully during exit negotiations. As a Committee, we want to examine the implications of the UK’s departure from the EU on the energy sector and on our ambitions to combat climate change. We are keen to hear from stakeholders about what they want from the UK’s exit negotiations and we will want to consider how best to maintain investor confidence and security of supply as we leave the EU. We also want to explore how, post-Brexit, the UK can build on its international standing in climate leadership and as a centre for low carbon innovation.”
Policy Exchange has become the latest organisation to call for the retention of the UK’s carbon price floor ahead of next week’s autumn statement, arguing changes to the policy would seriously undermine the government’s efforts to phase out coal power by 2025. The influential thinktank joins the CBI and trade body Energy UK in arguing the levy should be kept in place, despite lobbying from some industry groups calling for it to be axed. Critics of the levy have said it pushes up energy bills and undermines the competitiveness of UK industries. However, in a new paper Policy Exchange argues that while the carbon price floor has largely failed in its original goal of mobilising investment in clean energy it has inadvertently become the primary policy mechanism for shifting the energy mix from coal to less carbon intensive gas – a phenomenon that has happened so quickly coal provided just three percent of total power generation in the three months to October this year. “We recommend that the government retains the carbon price support until the early 2020s, to support the government’s plan to phase out coal generation,” the report states. “Scrapping the carbon price support now … would damage policy credibility and undermine the government’s decarbonisation plans.”
Britain will end up importing electricity from polluting power plants in Europe instead of generating it from cleaner and newer plants at home unless it phases out its carbon tax, Policy Exchange has warned. In a report, the influential think-tank urged the Chancellor to resist calls from manufacturers who want the levy scrapped now and instead keep it until the early 2020s, to ensure that it leads to the closure of the UK’s dirty old coal-fired power plants in favour of new gas plants. But once the coal plants have shut, by the mid-2020s, Policy Exchange argues the tax will serve little purpose and would simply encourage Britain to import more power from dirtier plants in Europe where carbon taxes are lower. This could actually increase overall European emissions, while also pushing up UK electricity bills, it warned.
Energy Voice: Paris climate change agreement to be ratified by UK
The UK is set to ratify the world’s first comprehensive agreement on tackling climate change after Parliament raised no objections to the deal. The Paris Agreement commits countries to taking action to keep temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to keep rises to 1.5C, which will require greenhouse gas emissions to fall to net zero within decades. It was put before Parliament as part of the process for UK ratification, and the required 21 day period for parliamentary scrutiny has now expired with no objections raised by the House of Commons or Lords. The Government is expected to ratify it on Thursday.
In a news release on Tuesday, Atlantis Resources – the indirect majority owner of the MeyGen project, as the tidal scheme is known – said that a turbine was exporting electricity for the first time in an area off the north coast of Scotland. “The success of this first phase is a foundation for the tidal industry to build upon to ensure we develop a new energy sector which can deliver clean, predictable and affordable power from the U.K.’s own abundant resources,” Tim Cornelius, Atlantis CEO, said in a statement. “When it comes to energy, we think consumers should be asking for the moon, and we know how to harness it.” The potential of tidal energy is significant. In 2013, for example, the U.K. government said that wave and tidal stream energy had the potential to meet as much as 20 percent of the U.K.’s electricity demand.
Reneweconomy: The myth of renewables threatening grid stability
Germany’s power grid outage averaged 12.7 minutes last year, 41% less than in 2006, even though renewables have grown to account for as much as a third of power generation in the country, according to data released by the federal regulator last week. This put to rest concerns about intermittent sources of power threatening grid stability. The country is weaning itself away from nuclear power and embracing renewables generation, providing a working model of transformation of the energy sector for many other countries. In contrast, the 28 September black-out following a storm in South Australia was blamed on the high penetration of renewable energy by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He said some state governments have set renewable energy targets “that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.” A report released last week by the Australian Energy Market Operator, however, found that “five transmission line faults, resulting in six voltage disturbances on the network” – which caused an expected reduction of 445MW of wind generation as the turbines entered fault-mode – led to the outage. The operator was not aware of the wind farms’ fault-mode settings, and did not plan for it. There were also three fossil-fuelled generators that failed.
The head of the International Energy Agency is calling for stronger national plans to deal with the challenges posed by ¬renewables, declaring the “stability of networks” is at stake in the long-term shift. IEA director Fatih Birol told The Australian the South Australian blackout in September highlighted the need to adjust energy networks to handle intermittent power supplies from wind and solar. “As they continue to grow and increase market share, they may well have implications for the stability of networks,” Dr Birol said. “We are now looking at the issue of electricity security as the renewables are providing a lot of benefits both in terms of the ¬environmental benefits and the flexibility, and in terms of cost. But their intermittent nature could have serious implications if the markets are not well-designed.” Dr Birol has spoken to Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg about the energy security implications of the September blackout as he gathers lessons from similar network experiences around the world.
A new study published by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, lowers the expectations of wind energy when used at large scales. Every turbine removes energy from the winds, so that many turbines operating over large scales should reduce wind speeds of the atmospheric flow. With many turbines, this effect should extend beyond the immediate wake behind each turbine and result in a general reduction of wind speeds. By accounting for this slowdown effect, the authors resolved a standing discrepancy between the high estimates for wind energy derived from local wind speed observations and small wind farms and the much lower estimates derived from large-scale estimates derived from climate models. Dr. Lee Miller, first author of the study, explains: “One should not assume that wind speeds are going to stay the same with a lot of wind turbines in a region. Wind speeds in climate models may not be completely realistic, but climate models can simulate the effect that many wind turbines have on wind speeds while observations cannot capture their effect.” The wind speed reduction would dramatically lower the efficiency by which turbines generate electricity. The authors calculated that when wind energy is used at its maximum potential in a given region, each turbine in the presence of many other turbines generates on average only about 20% of the electricity compared to what an isolated turbine would generate.
While the North Pole flirts with melting temperatures, Siberia is shivering in off-the-charts cold. The Weather Channel described the stunning side-by-side extremes as “one of the most bizarre juxtapositions seen”. The Siberian cold, up to 60 degrees below normal, has persisted for weeks. On Nov. 15, it manifested itself in more than 12 cities registering temperatures to minus-40 degrees or colder, the Weather Channel said. NOAA’s daily weather records database shows 138 new daily record low temperatures set across Russia since Nov. 1. Dozens of locations saw their previous cold records smashed by more than 10 degrees – some even by 15 to 20 degrees or more. While abnormally cold conditions have gripped Eurasia, temperatures have soared to their highest levels on record in the Arctic for the time of year. In recent days, several buoys in the North Pole’s proximity rose above the melting point (32 degrees). It is the second straight year abnormally mild air has surged toward the Pole. In 2015, in late December, a buoy near the North Pole also eclipsed the freezing mark. The warmth has prevented ice from forming over large expanses of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice extent has hit record low levels for the time of year. The weather pattern responsible for the contrasting zones of extreme weather set up weeks ago and has barely budged.
As it stands, the Paris agreement has been ratified by 111 parties, representing 77 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. So how is each country doing when it comes to saving the world? As reported by the Guardian, an assessment of 58 of them – led by advocacy collectives Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch – found that it’s pretty bad news if you happen to live in Australia. The desert continent comes in at number 59, just above Kazakhstan. This places it in the “very poor” category, along with Russia, which is at 53. The US is currently number 34 (“poor”), India is number 25 (“moderate”), France is number 8 and the UK is at number 5 (“good”). The rankings were based on each country’s current emissions levels, how they have changed over time, their use of renewables, their energy efficiency, and their current climate policy. As in all past editions, places 1 to 3 are empty because, again, no country has done enough to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change.
One of the world’s leading institutes for researching the impact of global warming has repeatedly claimed credit for work done by rivals – and used it to win millions from the taxpayer. An investigation by The Mail on Sunday also reveals that when the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) made a bid for more Government funds, it claimed it was responsible for work that was published before the organisation even existed. Last night, our evidence was described by one leading professor whose work was misrepresented as ‘a clear case of fraud – using deception for financial gain’. The chairman of the CCCEP since 2008 has been Nick Stern, a renowned global advocate for drastic action to combat climate change. He is also the president of the British Academy, an invitation-only society reserved for the academic elite. It disburses grants worth millions to researchers – and to Lord Stern’s own organisation. Academics whose work was misrepresented reacted with fury. Professor Richard Tol, a climate change economics expert from Sussex University, said: ‘It is serious misconduct to claim credit for a paper you haven’t supported, and it’s fraud to use that in a bid to renew a grant. I’ve never come across anything like it before. It stinks.’
Energy Source is operating a 50 MW geothermal power plant at the Salton Sea and is – as reported – “testing a new process to extract lithium and other metals from the underground brine it uses to generate electricity, according to Eric Spomer, the company’s president and chief executive.” Results of earlier tests seem to be promising enough that there is a significant interest by investors, with an investment group recently having acquired a 38.5% stake in Energy Source. The company is now planning further testing of its extraction process. If successful, this could provide a great and significant new revenue stream for the company and provide hope for several other geothermal operators and developers at the Salton Sea. EnergySource is not revealing exactly how it is planning to extract lithium from geothermal brine, but describes it as proven technology. With an increasing demand for electric batteries, Lithium is an increasingly valuable and much needed resource to fuel the demand for electric cars and the batteries powering them.
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!” (Jun 24, 2016) “Scotland is having a virtual revolt over obsolete wind turbines which are driving up energy costs and killing the bird population (and more).” (May 22, 2013) On Scottish independence “If Scotland would have gone independent predicated on $100 – $150 oil, they would now be bust! (Jan 21, 2015) “Good luck to the people of Scotland, whatever their decision may be on Thursday. The whole world is watching—really exciting!” (Sep 15, 2014) On Alex Salmond “I have to admit @AlexSalmond is a tough, smart guy. He is formidable by any standard!” (Oct 9, 2014) “I am convinced that if @AlexSalmond had not pushed ugly wind turbines all over Scotland, the vote would have been much better for him!” (Sep 19, 2014) “The people of Scotland have spoken—a great decision. I wish @AlexSalmond well & look forward to playing golf with him at Aberdeen!” (Sep 19, 2014) “Isn’t it ironic that China is going all in nuclear for energy while at the same time making wind turbines for others. @alexsalmond” (Apr 25, 2014) “First Minister Salmond should stop his fruitless drive for obsolete wind turbines in Scotland-he would become popular again! @alexsalmond” (Nov 29, 2013) “@alexsalmond, the same man that released Pan Am terrorist for humane reasons, will destroy Scotland with grotesque turbines! (Nov 28, 2013) “.@AlexSalmond of Scotland may be the dumbest leader of the free world. I can’t imagine that anyone wants him in office.” (Oct 29, 2013) On windfarms “PM @David_Cameron should be run out of office for spending so much of England’s money to subsidize windfarms in Scotland.” (Jul 30, 2014) “I can’t believe that Prime Minister @David_Cameron is giving massive subsidy to Scotland to destroy itself with windfarms” (Jul 30, 2014) “@AlexSalmond-I have no doubt that you will come to your senses about the costly, bird killing and very ugly wind turbines dotting Scotland” (Apr 15, 2014) “If Scotland doesn’t stop insane policy of obsolete, bird killing wind turbines, country will be destroyed.” (Feb 13, 2014) “.@Lord_Sugar If you think ugly windmills are good for Scotland you are an even worse businessman than I thought…” (Dec 6, 2012) On his golf courses “I am in Scotland checking on my developments in Aberdeen and Turnberry. Just left Ireland, property will be great. ALWAYS CHECKING!” (May 16, 2014) On RSPB Scotland “@RSPBScotland RSPB IS A TOTAL JOKE-They went for bird chopping wind turbines in @Aberdeenshire and fought me on bird friendly golf course!” (Nov 28, 2013) “@RSPBScotland: Thanks to everyone supporting the petition to make the golden #eagle Scotland’s national bird! Being KILLED by wind turbines” (Nov 28, 2013) On the Scottish media “Scotland does not have free press, even when you are just stating the facts-it’s crazy” (Apr 24, 2013) “@EveningExpress Thank you for your fair and balanced reporting. You provide a great and important service to the people of Scotland!” (Nov 16, 2013).