Blowout Week 152

Once more unto to the Donald, dear friends. This week we feature president-elect Trump’s call for Nigel Farage to be UK ambassador in Washington and the reactions to this unprecedented breach of diplomatic protocol, not all of which were negative. You just can’t make this stuff up. (Image credit Daily Mail):

New York Times:  Trump wants Farage as ambassador to US

Once again, President-elect Donald J. Trump seems to have gone out of his way to embarrass the British government. In a Monday night Twitter post, just as the British government was reaching out to Mr. Trump to reaffirm the “special relationship” with the United States that Britons prize, he suggested the appointment of Nigel Farage, the interim leader of Britain’s populist, anti-immigrant U.K. Independence Party, as ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Farage, whose party is a right-wing rival and irritant to Mrs. May’s Conservative Party, has struck up a warm friendship with Mr. Trump. Mr. Farage visited the president-elect in Manhattan on Nov. 12, four days after the election. A photo of the two men posing happily in front of a gold-plated elevator went viral. Still, few expected Mr. Trump to trample on the normal rules of diplomatic protocol by suggesting in public that the British government should make his political ally its envoy to the United States. That is exactly what Mr. Trump did in his Twitter post, in which he said, “Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!”

We continue with more on Trump and Farage, the Obama administration rushes to push more regulations through, Saudis pull out of oil talks with Russia, oil potential in Mexico, pipeline gridlock in Canada, Gazprom pushes ahead with Nord Stream, Swiss to vote on nuclear phaseout, gas to ride to the rescue in France, Canada to phase out coal, snow, coal and gas in Tokyo and Beijing, the Torness outage, EU to challenge capacity markets, more UK funding for EVs, protected European forests being felled for biomass, Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic ice, how cement absorbs carbon (which is not the enemy) and the Pacific island of Ta’u, now 100% powered by solar.

VOA News:  Britain to Trump: “No Vacancy” for Farage as Ambassador

Britain on Tuesday dismissed U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s unprecedented expression of support for Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage to be made British ambassador to Washington, saying pointedly that there is no vacancy for the job. Trump, who after his election victory met Farage before any EU leaders, said on Twitter that “many people” would like to see the former metals trader turned politician as Britain’s ambassador. Prime Minister Theresa May, who congratulated Trump on his victory, was swift to reject such an undiplomatic proposal, with a spokesman saying Britain already had an excellent ambassador to Washington and that London would appoint its own envoys. “We have first rate ambassador in Washington,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned for Brexit, told the British parliament. “There is no vacancy for that position.”

Observer:  Brits Should Accept Reality and Make Farage Ambassador to DC

It is well known there are members of the British cabinet who have argued for a closer relationship with Farage, because he has Trump’s ear. They are said to include Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis, the three men in charge of forging a new place in the world for a post-Brexit Britain. Prime Minister May had previously slapped them down, saying she didn’t want “three people in the relationship.” But how long can she deny the reality of the situation? Almost everyone sees Trump’s win as a larger scale example of what the Brits did in the Brexit referendum, so engaging with Farage and Trump is the will of the people, like it or not. Even if it wasn’t the will of the people, London should think of the realpolitik here. May was the ninth world leader to be called by Trump after his election, whereas Farage was the first foreign politician to see him. It is clear who the president-elect wants to talk to.

CNN:  Farage offers to help UK govt. mend fences with Trump

Speaking to CNN’s Carol Costello, Farage said there were “some fences that need to be mended” after “nearly the entire British government said derogatory things about Donald Trump and his team” during the US presidential campaign. “I would like to try to act as a little bit of a middle man to try and mend some of this, so we can get on with some really important work,” he said. But Farage said it was up to the British government whether it wanted him to take on that kind of liaison role. Judging by the government’s frosty response to Trump’s tweet proposing Farage for the role of ambassador, the invitation may not come soon.

Guardian:  Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring. We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission. My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. ”  Donald Trump’s outlook on climate change could help economy

John Christy, the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville said that the position Trump took during his campaign could help improve the economy. “We can only talk about intentions right now,” Christy said of Trump’s views on climate change. “The intentions are to roll back the regulatory activities that have been going on the last four years or so. Now as a scientist, I can say I don’t have any problem with that because we can test the impact of these regulations and they will have no impact on the climate. They are so tiny to what happens globally. But they will have a pretty strong economic impact. And I think that’s what the president-elect is going for – he’s very concerned about the economic effect and get those regulations off, that that would really help the economy.” Christy has long said that, even if humans are influencing climate change, the impact of the United States is virtually non-existent. “Let’s make the United States disappear – no more people, no more cars, no more factories,” said Christy, echoing testimony he has given in hearings before Congress. “And the climate models tell us the impact of global temperature will be just a tiny fraction – you couldn’t measure that fraction hardly at all, it’s so small.”

Forbes:  The Rush To Regulate Oil And Gas Accelerates As Jan. 20 Approaches

Since election day delivered the realization that President Obama’s two terms in office would be succeeded by a Republican rather than a fellow Democrat, the Administration’s regulatory agencies have accelerated their efforts to cram through as many last-minute regulations as possible. Nowhere has this effort been more focused than on the oil and natural gas industry. On November 15, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its final rule on venting and flaring natural gas from wells drilled on federal lands. On November 17, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced unilateral cancellation of 65 oil and gas leases in the White River National Forest. On November 18, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued its final five-year plan for leasing on federal lands and waters. The plan removes areas of the Arctic waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas – which had been included in its previous draft – from leasing consideration. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, was outraged by DOI’s refusal to include the Arctic lease sales in its final plan. “Why the president is willing to send all of those benefits overseas is beyond explanation,” Murkowski said. “And it is even more stunning that just one day after urging the new administration to stand up to Russia, he continues to cede leadership on Arctic energy production to them.”

Washington Post:  EPA chief: Trump can’t halt U.S. shift to clean energy

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday gave an impassioned defense of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies and insisted the nation’s shift from fossil fuels will continue no matter who occupies the White House. “The inevitability of our clean energy future is bigger than any one person or one nation,” Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a speech at the National Press Club that was twice interrupted by protesters. “It must be guided by a simple but profound truth: We don’t have to choose between economy or environment. We can and we must choose both. Science tells us that there is no bigger threat to American progress and prosperity than the threat of global climate change,” she said. “And if you take nothing else from my speech today, take this: The train to a global, clean-energy future has already left the station. We have a choice. We can choose to get on board, to lead. Or we can choose to be left behind.”

Fuel Fix:  Saudis pull out of talks with Russia as OPEC deal stalls

Saudi Arabia has pulled out of talks with non-OPEC producers including Russia planned for Monday because the exporters’ group still has no internal agreement on how to implement supply cuts, according to two delegates. OPEC officials were scheduled to meet with non-members including Russia on Monday ahead of a ministerial meeting in Vienna two days later. Instead, the group called another internal meeting to try to resolve its own differences, particularly the question of whether Iran and Iraq are willing to cut production, the delegates said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are sensitive. The setback suggests that Saudi Arabia remains split from its two biggest Gulf rivals at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. With less than a week until the crucial ministerial meeting, the refusal of just one major producer to participate could scuttle the whole deal, which is intended to curb supply and boost prices. Iran, the group’s third-largest producer, has been insisting it should be allowed to keep increasing output to pre-sanctions levels of about 4 million barrels a day. Iraq’s prime minister appeared earlier this week to accept joining the cuts, but it was unclear whether Baghdad is still disputing the OPEC supply estimates that would provide the basis for any cuts.

Infotel:  Oil and gas project delays hurting Canada’s reputation

Canada’s pipeline gridlock is harming its global reputation as an attractive place to invest in oil and gas projects, says a leading industry group.Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said Donald Trump’s election in the United States adds pressure to Canada to clear regulatory hurdles blocking new projects. “We may see some or a lot of that capital that would normally come to Canada going other places and to the U.S., who is targeting it,” McMillan told The Canadian Press in an editorial board meeting. Many in Alberta’s oilpatch have expressed concern that Trump will make it harder for Canada to compete for global investment. Canada has seen many major pipeline projects stalled for the better part of the last decade, with Northern Gateway scuttled by the courts, Keystone XL rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama and protesters gearing up to battle the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline if it’s approved by the federal government in the coming weeks.

City am:   No new support for North Sea oil and gas industry

The government will continue to deliver its pre-existing commitments to the North Sea oil and gas industry, but has not made any significant new pledges to boost the ailing sector. To help provide a “stable tax regime” to the UK’s biggest oil-producing region, the government said it “recommits” to its long-term ‘Driving Investment’ plan for the industry in today’s Autumn Statement. Although no significant new tax relief or financial boosts were announced, the Treasury said steps will be taken to “simplify the reporting process and reduce the administrative costs of petroleum revenue tax for oil and gas companies”.

Maritime Executive:  Low Oil and Gas Investment Could Mean Shortfall

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its World Energy Outlook 2016 with a warning that the world could soon suffer a shortfall in oil and gas. As a result of major transformations in the global energy system that take place over the next decades, renewables and natural gas are predicted to be the big winners in the race to meet energy demand growth until 2040. However, the transformation of the global energy mix means that risks to energy security also evolve. Traditional concerns related to oil and gas supply remain are reinforced by record falls in investment levels. The report shows that another year of lower upstream oil investment in 2017 would create a significant risk of a shortfall in new conventional supply within a few years.

Oil Price:  Mexico’s Oil Reform Is A Huge Opportunity For Investors

Mexico’s move to implement historic energy reform legislation in December 2013, and follow-up legislation in 2014 that further solidified the comprehensive de-nationalization, provides an unprecedented opportunity for oil companies looking to tap into Mexico’s huge energy potential. Mexico has ended the 75-year monopoly of state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), and admitted in no uncertain terms that it needs foreign partners and investors. All of this has prompted the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) to revise its 2040 forecast for Mexican oil and gas production upwards by a whopping 76 percent. All of this, says International Frontier Resources Corp. CEO Steve Hanson, means that “over the next four years, we will see accelerated growth for a country with massive oil and gas resources, excellent infrastructure, a transparent investment framework, and a new hunger for foreign partners. In short, it is the largest energy opportunity in the world today–and the door has just been opened.”

Wall Street Journal:  Gazprom Pushes Ahead With Nord Stream 2 Pipeline to Germany

Russia’s state energy giant PAO Gazprom is pushing forward with building controversial natural-gas pipelines to Germany, calling for bids on the $11 billion project under the Baltic Sea, people familiar with the matter said. The two pipelines, known as Nord Stream 2, would bring a combined capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas and boost Germany’s importance as a transit hub for Russian gas into Europe. Nord Stream 2, a Switzerland-based wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom, has issued tenders for laying pipes in shallow-water areas near landfall in Germany and Russia, the people said. The controversial project would help Russian gas bypass Ukraine, a former Moscow satellite that has moved closer to the European Union. Germany supports the pipelines, but the U.S. and some European Union countries have strongly opposed them as a Russian plan to deprive Kiev of gas-transit fees and to limit Eastern European access to gas. Gazprom has said it plans to fast-track the project so it is completed by late 2019. That is around the same time Russia’s gas transit contract with Ukraine expires.

Power Engineering International:   Gas-fired power set to secure French energy over Winter

A record output increase from gas-fired electricity generators since the start of the month could enable France avoid rolling outages amid reduced supply from the country’s aging nuclear reactors, gas network operators said on Tuesday. Reuters reports that French grid operator RTE warned that power shortages could force outages this month, as a result of nuclear plants being taken offline. France had pre-empted the problem by stepping up power imports from neighbouring countries. GRTGaz, majority-owned by gas group Engie, and gas storage company TIGF, said in their 2016/2017 winter outlook that extra capacity and adequate stock levels meant gas supplies were sufficient to cover the higher output levels. “In the event of a cold spell, existing gas infrastructure should allow suppliers to cover French (gas) consumption with a surplus of 680 GW hour per day of gas, equivalent to a daily average of 28 GW of electricity,” the companies said in a statement.

Business Times:  Swiss to vote on faster nuclear phaseout

Swiss voters will head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether or not to speed up the process of phasing out the country’s nuclear power plants. Switzerland has already vowed to do so but a “yes” vote would force three of its five reactors to close next year. Just a few months after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant was wrecked in the March 2011 tsunami disaster, Switzerland decided to gradually close its nuclear plants, but without setting a clear timeline. The government’s plan was to decommission Switzerland’s five ageing reactors, which today produce around a third of the country’s electricity, as they reached the end of their safe operational lifespan.That was not good enough for Switzerland’s Green Party, which five years ago launched the initiative that comprises Sunday’s vote, calling for the reactors to run no longer than 45 years. While the Swiss government supports gradually shutting down the plants, it opposes the initiative, cautioning that it would lead to premature closures. “The reduction in electricity output could not be compensated quickly enough by electricity generated from renewable sources,” it warned in its policy position.

East Lothian Courier:  Reactor at Torness nuclear power station shut down by seaweed

Reactor one was shut down at about 8.45am this morning when the seaweed began to threaten a cooling water inlet at the power station, to the east of Dunbar. EDF Energy, which runs the plant, said: “One of the reactors at Torness Power Station came offline this morning due to an increase in seaweed levels as a result of the weather conditions in the area. “We are currently monitoring the weather and the seaweed levels and will confirm once we have returned the unit to service. “We know that at certain times of year particular weather conditions in this part of the Forth Estuary can lead to increased seaweed volumes, which can enter the station’s cooling water intake system. Our staff are trained to respond in this situation, and to take the plant offline if necessary. In addition, the plant’s safety systems monitor conditions like this and will take the unit offline automatically, should levels rise beyond prescribed settings, ensuring safety at all times.” It is unknown when the reactor will be back online.

Globe & Mail:   Canada to phase out coal, aims for virtual elimination by 2030

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled the coal-phase-out plan Monday as one of a series of measures that Ottawa is introducing ahead of the first ministers’ meeting in December, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes to conclude a pan-Canadian climate accord. “Taking traditional coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of Canadians, and benefit generations for years to come,” Ms. McKenna told reporters. The coal regulation would accelerate the existing timetable – laid down by the Conservative government in 2012 – for the four provinces that still burn coal for electricity to either adopt technology to capture carbon emissions or shut down the plants. However, government sources say Ottawa recognizes that provinces need flexibility and is willing to negotiate agreements that would allow some plants to stay open so long as equivalent emission reductions are achieved elsewhere.

CNBC:  Coal, LNG prices heat up as snow hits Tokyo, Beijing

An early winter sharp cold snap in northeast Asia and the first November snow fall in Tokyo in 54 years this week has boosted prices for thermal coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as power stations fire up to meet a surge in electricity demand. The cold snap is linked to the La Nina weather event in the Southern Hemisphere that can lead to sustained and disruptive variations in normal seasonal weather patterns. To beat the cold, China has temporarily eased restrictions on coal production until the end of the year as Premier Li Keqiang said there was a need to balance demand to ramp up power output against pollution control. Spot thermal coal prices from the Australian port of Newcastle have already doubled year-to-date to top over $100 a metric ton, underscoring its position as one of the best performing raw materials this year amid a broad and extended slump in the commodities complex.

Wall Street Journal:  Czech Firm Makes Unusual Bet on Coal Power Plants

Since 2013, a little-known Czech company has purchased at least 10 coal- or lignite-fired power plants and related mines at fire-sale prices, in deals worth a total of more than $7 billion, according to data provider Dealogic. That gives it almost as much coal-derived electricity-generating capacity as Canada. Energetický a Průmyslový Holdings’ latest acquisition is a plant in Poland, which Electricité de France says it is selling to the company for an undisclosed sum. As other businesses heave coal aside, EPH is one of a small group of companies seeking to wring profits from the fossil fuel. The group also includes General Electric Co., which nearly doubled its fleet of turbines for coal plants when it bought the power business of France’s Alstom SA, and which plans to build coal plants in developing Asian economies such as India, where demand for cheap energy is high. Electricity of Vietnam Group, a utility firm, is heavily invested in building coal-fired power plants in Vietnam, where the government has projected coal-derived energy will rise to 49% by 2020, up from 25% in 2014.

EurActiv:  Lawmakers eye excluding coal from EU energy transition funds

Provisions in the EU’s carbon market designed to help poorer countries move to low carbon energy are being abused to subsidise fossil fuels and need to be dropped, 31 organisations and networks campaigning to end coal have said.In an open letter to members of the European Parliament committee in charge of the revision of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the NGOs said that Article 10c of the directive should be ditched from 2020. Article 10c allows lower income countries to give free carbon allowances to electricity installations on condition they invest an equivalent amount in the modernisation and diversification of their energy systems. The funding is open to ten countries whose GDP is under 60% of the EU average – Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Backers of the scheme say the money is necessary to modernise the power sector, while keeping energy prices affordable for households and industry consumers. But campaigners have argued that the cash has been used to modernise polluting fossil fuel industries that generate electricity from burning coal.

RT:  Russian scientists discover how to extract gold from coal

Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East branch say they are building a facility to make gold out of coal. The scientists are planning to test the gold-making equipment in one of the Amur region’s boiler houses next year, and ultimately hope to receive a grant to develop and implement an industrial grade device. Although the science is no fairy tale, to the dismay of business owners, the process is not as productive as they might hope – burning a ton of coal yields one gram of gold, tops. At present, the scientists are setting the bar even lower, expecting a yield of 0.5 grams, or 1,500 rubles, per ton. “We burn a ton – we gain 1,500 rubles,” Oleg Ageev, CEO of Complex Innovative Technologies of the Amur Scientific Center, said in a press statement. At current exchange rates, that is roughly $23 US dollars. To create the gold, smoke created in burning coal goes through a hundred-fold purifying system. The residue is then flushed through a filter with water, allowing a gold concentrate to be extracted that is later used to make the precious metal. The whole operation is on hold until spring kicks in because of subzero temperatures. Part of the process takes place outside and the water used for filtering freezes up.

Interfax Energy:  Brussels may challenge capacity markets

The European Commission may introduce environmental standards for capacity mechanisms to phase out state support for fossil fuel power plants, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said at a briefing in Brussels on Thursday. “Capacity mechanisms should not serve as an excuse to subsidise high-polluting [power plants],” Cañete told an event hosted by thinktank Bruegel. “It might therefore be necessary to [include] strict environmental criteria in such mechanisms,” he added. National capacity mechanisms pay power plant operators for making generation capacity available in the future in a move intended to strengthen security of electricity supply and avoid plant closures. However, the UK scheme, for instance, has been criticised for prolonging the lifetime of coal- and diesel-fired generators without encouraging new investment in cleaner forms of power. Questions from the floor highlighted the absurdity of subsidising coal-fired power through capacity mechanisms while at the same time penalising them through the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and national carbon taxes.

Guardian:  Protected forests in Europe felled to meet EU renewable targets

Protected forests are being indiscriminately felled across Europe to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets, according to an investigation by the conservation group Birdlife. Up to 65% of Europe’s renewable output currently comes from bioenergy, involving fuels such as wood pellets and chips, rather than wind and solar power. Bioenergy fuel is supposed to be harvested from residue such as forest waste but, under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced. Birdlife found logging taking place in conservation zones such as Poloniny national park in eastern Slovakia and in Italian riverside forests around Emilia-Romagna, where it said it had been falsely presented as flood-risk mitigation. Sini Eräjää, Birdlife’s bioenergy officer, said: “This report provides clear evidence that the EU’s renewable energy policies have led to increased harvesting of whole trees and to continued use of food crops for energy. We are subsidising large-scale environmental destruction, not just outside Europe, as in Indonesia or the US, but also right in our own backyard.”

Energy Live News:  UK coal plants set for £152m pay-out in capacity auction

Developers of coal-fired power stations in the UK could be paid more than £150 million next year to keep the lights on. That’s according to energy market analysts at Cornwall Energy, who have published their forecasts for two Capacity Market auctions and their impact on consumer bills. National Grid’s T-4 auction for delivery in 2020/21 will take place next month and the Early Auction (EA) for delivery in winter 2017/18 is set for January 2017. The report states coal plants will be able to compete for contracts with other forms of power generation next year. That’s despite the government planning to phase out unabated coal by 2025. The EA is estimated to cost £1.5 billion, “higher than the two previous auctions”, with a household bill impact of £16.60. That would include £152.2 million of pay-outs to 6.7GW of coal generation, it adds.

PV Magazine:  UK increases funding for EVs

The U.K.’s Chancellor Philip Hammond presented yesterday his autumn statement to the U.K. Parliament, pledging £390 million ($485 million) investment in future transport technology, including driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport. Specifically, £80 million ($99 million) will be invested towards installing charging points for ultra-low emission vehicles; £150 million ($186 million) will aim to provide at least 550 new electric and hydrogen buses and reduce the emissions of 1,500 existing buses and support taxis to become zero emission, and another £100 million ($124 million) will be spent towards testing infrastructure for driverless cars. There will also be “a two-year 100% first year allowance for companies who install electric charge-points, coming in from today‎,” said the government. “This allows companies to deduct the cost of the charge-point from their pre-tax profits in that year‎.” However, in a rather contradictory announcement, the Chancellor confirmed that fuel duty in 2017 will remain frozen for the seventh successive year.

Transport Extra:  European project will test business case for vehicle-to-grid charging technology

The Smart Energy Project will investigate how cities can increase energy efficiency and decrease carbon emissions by integrating vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology into the existing energy infrastructure at district and city scale. The programme will explore how electric vehicles (EVs) can support energy infrastructure through V2G, using EV batteries as short-term storage to manage energy demand at district and city scale in Birmingham, Berlin and Valencia. The project is being led by Cenex, a UK consultancy specialising low carbon and fuel cell technologies will lead the Smart Mobile Energy project, supported by the Climate KIC, a European public-private partnership focused on innovations that could mitigate climate change. Sean Lockie, director of urban transitions at Climate-KIC, said: “The Smart Mobile Energy programme offers a unique opportunity for us to test the beneficial impact of V2G technologies in cities, by creating an understanding of the size of the opportunity, identifying common barriers and mapping the actions required to deliver the integration of electric mobility and energy systems at a district and city scale.”

London South East:  UK Government Set To Defend Energy Strategy To Lords Committee

The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy will give evidence later Friday to back up its energy policy, as the Economic Affairs Committee begins to investigate the government’s plans for the UK energy market. In summary, the three sources of energy that are to be encouraged by the UK government are gas, nuclear and offshore wind, while investment will be made in new technologies, including energy storage – the next key step to make intermittently available renewable energy more useful. Clark has also set up the Energy Innovation Board chaired by Chief Scientific Advisor Mark Walport, tasked with finding something “cheaper and as reliable as coal and carbon free”. A move away from one central energy network, an area mostly dominated by National Grid PLC, was also suggested by Clark, referring to the trend toward smaller, more regional electricity distribution networks. However, uncertainty looms over the UK energy market since the vote for Brexit, as gas and electricity generators and suppliers continue to worry about the relationship with the European energy market – with numerous inter-connectors running underneath the Channel allowing countries to trade, import and export power from one another.

UPI:  Trump wants British allies to block ‘ugly’ wind farms in Britain

President-elect Donald Trump wants British politicians to rally against offshore wind farms in Britain — like one in Scotland he fought in court because it blocks the view at one of the golf courses he owns there. Trump unsuccessfully fought the wind farm project near his golf resort in Aberdeenshire all the way to Britain’s highest court, and apparently now wants the leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, to lead a crusade against them in the future, believing they “sully” the Scottish countryside’s beauty. Media consultant Andy Wigmore, who was at a New York meeting with Trump and Farage after the election, told the BBC the president-elect is “offended” by the clean energy wind turbines. “He is a complete Anglophile and also absolutely adores Scotland which he thinks is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But he is dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape,” Wigmore told Britain’s Express newspaper.

Independent:  Marrakesh climate conference: Campaigners react with ‘extreme disappointment’ over lack of progress

Campaigners have expressed “extreme disappointment” at the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit in Marrakesh, saying the nations most vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. The Paris conference last year was widely regarded as a success, but this was based largely on promises to tackle the problem. Marrakesh was seen as the event at which those pledges would be turned into action. Yet environmental campaigners said the Morocco summit was again heavy on rhetoric and light on real progress, with rich countries failing to do enough to help the developing world. Isabel Kreisler, of Oxfam, said not enough money was being given to the world’s poorest countries to help them adapt to changes that are already happening because of global warming. “We saw a stubborn refusal from developed country ministers and negotiators to fill the adaptation finance gap and face the fact that the [Paris] Agreement doesn’t fully protect lives that will suffer the most from climate change,” Ms Kreisler said.

Telegraph:  Scott and Shackleton logbooks prove Antarctic sea ice is not shrinking

Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after poring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change. But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming. It also explains why sea ice levels in the South Pole have begun to rise again in recent years, a trend which has left climate scientists scratching their heads. “The missions of Scott and Shackleton are remembered in history as heroic failures, yet the data collected by these and other explorers could profoundly change the way we view the ebb and flow of Antarctic sea ice,” said Dr Jonathan Day, who led the study, which was published in the journal The Cryosphere.

Environmental Research Letters:  Did European temperatures in 1540 exceed present-day records?

There is strong evidence that the year 1540 was exceptionally dry and warm in Central Europe. Here we infer 1540 summer temperatures from the number of dry days (NDDs) in spring (March–May) and summer (June–August) in 1540 derived from historical documentary evidence published elsewhere, and compare our estimates with present-day temperatures. We translate the NDD values into temperature distributions using a linear relationship between modeled temperature and NDD from a 3000 year pre-industrial control simulation with the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Our results show medium confidence that summer mean temperatures (T JJA) and maximum temperatures (TXx) in Central Europe in 1540 were warmer than the respective present-day mean summer temperatures (assessed between 1966–2015). The model-based reconstruction suggests further that with a probability of 40%–70%, the highest daily temperatures in 1540 were even warmer than in 2003, while there is at most a 20% probability that the 1540 mean summer temperature was warmer than that of 2003 in Central Europe.

New York Times:  Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate

Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A warming planet has already forced a number of industries — coal, oil, agriculture and utilities among them — to account for potential future costs of a changed climate. The real estate industry, particularly along the vulnerable coastlines, is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, including that wrought by rising seas and storm-driven flooding. But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008. The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages.

CNS News:  1 Billion Tons of CO2 Absorbed Annually by Cement

Cement, the ubiquitous material used to build roads, buildings and other infrastructure, absorbs about one billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience. But concrete carbonation is “not currently considered in emissions inventories” kept by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to the study’s co-authors, an international team of researchers led by Professor Dabo Guan of the U.K.’s University of East Anglia. The study found that cement’s natural carbonation process not only offsets the fossil fuel emissions released during its production, it also “represents a large and growing net sink of CO2” that has not been taken into account by the IPCC. “It is well known that the weathering of carbonate and silicate materials removes CO2 from the atmosphere on geologic timescales,” said the study, entitled Substantial Global Carbon Uptake by Cement Carbonation. “However, the potential for removal by the weathering of cement materials has only been recently recognized. Our results indicate that such enhanced weathering is already occurring on a large scale; existing cement stocks worldwide sequester approximately one billion tons of atmospheric CO2 each year.  Existing cement is a large and overlooked carbon sink and future emissions inventories and carbon budgets may be improved by including this,” said Prof. Guan.

Nature:   Carbon is not the enemy

Carbon has a bad name. If we can reduce our carbon emissions, and shrink our carbon footprint, the thinking goes, we can bring down the carbon enemy. But carbon — the element — is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon toxic — like lead in our drinking water or nitrates in our rivers. In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool. Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad.

Cleantechnica:  American Samoan Island Of Ta’u Now Running On 100% Solar Electricity

The island of 600 is now home to 1.4 megawatts (MW) of solar energy generation capacity (5,328 SolarCity solar panels) and 6 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy storage capacity (60 Tesla Powerpacks). Notably, the project took less than a year to develop and implement. Previous to the solar photovoltaic (PV) + energy storage installation, the island of Ta’u had been reliant upon imported diesel fuel, as many small islands are — not a cheap situation to be in. So, while a combination of solar PV and energy storage isn’t exactly cheap at this point, it is often a very good choice for small island communities (if initial funding can be found). In this case, funding was provided by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Tesla and SolarCity, the newly created island microgrid allows for 24/7 electricity availability — with no power outages and no bottlenecking.

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26 Responses to Blowout Week 152

  1. pyrrhus says:

    The Farage business is just Trump trolling the UK establishment, which has clearly shown that it doesn’t like him, Farage or Brexit. They fell for it hook, line and sinker…..

  2. Scott Adams (Dilbert) has fully reversed his position on Trump because Trump is showing he was doing what it took to get him into the White House because it got him there. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he succeeded in getting the White House renamed to something more egalitarian..

  3. Phil Chapman says:

    Gina McCarthy says “The train to a global, clean-energy future has already left the station. We have a choice. We can choose to get on board, to lead. Or we can choose to be left behind.”

    Only those with a strong death wish get aboard a train that is clearly about to be derailed.

    • Peter Lang says:

      I hope you are right. I hope Trump can derail the ‘CAGW train’, and also the PC train. I hope!

      • Leo Smith says:

        Hope springs eternal…

        Its rare that a politicians really makes nearly as much of a dramatic effect as their supporters hope.

        And not without huge pain either.

        They can only go as far as the political consensus allows, and the Left always fights back viciously to defend its existence.

        The real battle is hearts and minds of the electorate. if 99% of the USA wanted a wall along the Mexican border, there would be one already.

        Its blogs like this where ideas that change the world first get aired. Then it takes about 15 years for them to become mainstream.

        Outside of the W****ati, the idea that climate change the scare is actually a huge con, is fairly well understood, if not agreed with always.

        As with Brexit, the Trump will try ignoring it, and what will probably happen is what is happening with Brexit. Life carries on almost completely unaffected except a few things improve.

        And as very few things might get slightly worse.

        The reality is that the electorate are by and large bored with climate change. The ability to contemplate a remote existential threat is not as important as the real here now existential threats they feel when faced with say loss of electricity, or an act of terrorism, or getting their kids beaten up by someone who speaks a language they have never heard of.

        What 2016 has showed us are that the faux concerns of the Establishment and the Media are not the real concerns of vast numbers of the voting public.

    • Leo Smith says:

      I definitely choose to be left behind.

      • gaznotoprom says:

        Totally agree Leo, I share your observations.
        Adding to it, there’s a significant minority that are really in their own world of TV, computer games etc and totally domesticated, and hold on to their world views and ‘religious beliefs’ in climate change etc like their favourite blanket.

        Logic, reason don’t work sadly, in particular in the (wishy washy) ‘educated’ I’ve noticed, who look down their noses at the unwashed, unvarnished, straight-talkers and all they can retort with is pre-programmed: racist, lizards, I’ve got a degree you haven’t, experts, racist, hate, conspiracy…

        I guess it’s partly Stockholm syndrome and/or not wanting to admit you’ve been conned.

        I hope a more logical rational world comes out of the last 6 months of ‘upsets’, lets hope.

  4. Javier says:

    1540, the warmest year “evah” for Central Europe in the middle of the Little Ice Age, and then we think we understand climate change and we think current warming rate is unprecedented.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Could it have something to do with the geometry of the polar jet stream?

    • Javier,

      I don’t know about 1540, it was way before my time, but I studied the year 1947 in the low countries, because it had the highest number of heatwaves per year in De Bilt

      (that is to say, until recently, because temperatures before 1950 were “homogenized” a few months back .. it may come as a surprise, but after homogenizing, the 1947 heatwaves have all but been disappeared …

      but the jury is still out on that one and I’m still using the old temperature dataset …)

      now, if you look at the average temperature for 1947, it was 9,9°C, which is absolutely average … (the average yearly temperature for the whole dataset beginning in 1706 is 9,2 with a SD of 0.8)

      but the winter 46/47 turned out particularly cold … the average dec/jan/feb for that one was -2,4°C (average 2,2°. sd 1,8°) … that is the second coldest in the dataset, and the newspapers from that time that I looked at, said the same …

      a very, very cold winter, followed by the first heatwave in May … ! … 🙂

      not saying anything about 1540, only saying that in an average, some extremes disappear completely … 🙂

  5. Peter Lang says:

    “Gas-fired power set to secure French energy over Winter”

    Way back when the President of France announced he would reduce nuclear’s share of electricity supply to 50% (from current 76%), I estimated the CO2 emissions intensity of France’s electricity generation would increase from 44 g/kWh to 150 g/kWh.

    What are the advocates of this policy more concerned about: GHG emissions or their anti-nuclear agenda? Either they couldn’t care less about reliability of energy supply and the country’s economy, or they are ignorant of the relevant facts.

    • Willem Post says:

      Hollande has been a disaster for France.

      He is a social democrat who believes in subsidized government cradle to the grave programs, which are unaffordable, but create subsidy dépendent constituencies that produce reliable votes for incumbents year after year.

      Finally, that jig is up.

      Private enterprise should take the lead for the next 5 decades, expand nuclear, get rid of the wind turbines and install solar panels on roofs wherever feasible.

  6. Euan Mearns says:

    In an older thread, Andrew Jaremko wondered why we hadn’t covered other reactor technologies:

    Molten Salt Fast Reactor Technology – An Overview
    Nuclear Options
    Imagining Fusion Power


    If you are looking for information the “Search” facility on the blog (top right) is a good starting point. But we are always open to post suggestions too.

    • robertok06 says:

      Congratulations, once more, to the swiss voters… CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

      I have personally witnessed one public meeting of the anti-nuclear camp, about 6 months ago at the university of Geneva, and I can attest that no one of the speakers had the slightest idea about how a reactor works, about how their CO2-free production could be replaced,… nothing!

      I’ll drink to the result! 🙂

    • steve says:

      Note: the French cantons were green and the Germans numerate. The opposite of the French high nuclear system, which Madame Royale and her ex want to balls up, and Mrs Merkel who wants to close her nuke and use lignite.

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    RE: a: American Samoan Island Of Ta’u

    This is a small place with the population of 600, near the equator. It is a warm and sunny place. Search for ” economy Ta’u ” and you get No hits.

    This place likely uses less energy than a large church on Sunday morning. The church patrons pay their own bills. The Ta’u system was given to them using other people’s money.

    What would it cost to scale this up to power the 1,200,000+ people and activities in the City of Calgary at 51° N Latitude?

    Given the situation, this is a good deal for Ta’u. I’m thrilled that my tax money is not simply wasted.

    • I found a (retail) price indication on this link …

      another (recent) article on that site mentioned a 5% + 10% price drop since …

      for that price, (now +/- 140000$), you would get 2 powerpacks, 2way inverter, and some cabling … and that would have 200 kWh storage …

      a billion here, a billion there, and if you translate that to Calgary, pretty soon you will be talking serious money …

    • John: 100% solar in Calgary is not a viable option. This isn’t so much a result of less sun as it is a result of the huge swings between winter and summer solar generation at higher latitudes, which require a prohibitive amount of storage to smooth out.

      However, solar could well be a good deal for Ta’u, provided they can solve the problem of how to run a grid on 100% solar energy. I’m writing a post on this now.

  8. PhilH says:

    ‘Sea-water-cooled nuclear power station shut down due to seaweed’ is even better than ‘train cancelled due to leaves on the line’. Only in Britain!

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    South Australia disconnected from the national electricity network about 1.33am local time. Problem blamed on Victorian transmission scheme (Portland Al smelter also affected).
    About 200,000 South Australian customers were affected – some lost power for 15 minutes, others for up to an hour. Most properties had electricity restored by 2am.

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