The signatories to the the Paris Climate Agreement, who include just about every country in the world, agree that the world must cut its fossil fuel emissions drastically if global climate catastrophe is to be avoided. Yet according to Exxon’s just-released Energy Outlook (the IEA and EIA outlooks are similar) the world will be burning more fossil fuels in 2040 than it is now. Does this mean that the world is doomed? Or is somebody missing something?
The global energy mix will not look that much different for oil and gas in 2040, according to Exxon Mobil’s recently released 2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040.
Both the middle class and world GDP is expected to double in the next 15 years, accelerating demand for air conditioned homes, cars, and appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and smart phones. Non-OECD nations, particularly China and India, will experience the most economic growth, driven by urbanization. Oil is expected to remain the world’s primary energy source, driven by demand for transportation fuel and feedstock for the chemical industry. Plastics and other advanced materials provide advantages to manufacturers and consumers including energy efficiency gains. Natural gas is projected to grow the most of any energy type, accounting for a quarter of all demand by 2040. Increasing electrification will drive the growth in global energy demand over the next 25 years, 55 percent of energy demand growth coming from power generation to support increasingly digital and plugged-in lifestyles and electricity will grow the most of any sector. Natural gas demand will increase significantly, with the fuel gaining share across all sectors due to its abundance and flexibility. Different sectors will use different types of energy based on their economic supply options and suitability to different purposes. A wide variety of energy types will support electricity generation, with gas, nuclear, and renewables all increasing their share in the mix to offset the decline of coal.
Exxon’s projections of world energy consumption through 2040
We continue with stories on the fallout from OPEC’s production cut, followed by nuclear in the US, France, Sweden and China, coal in China and Australia, renewables in China, Europe, and Germany, recent events in UK, roads that recharge EVs in Israel, 2016 ties 1998 for the warmest year on record in the lower troposphere and India solves the carbon capture and storage problem.
Market Watch: Oil prices jump for 3rd day as OPEC members cut output
Crude-oil prices erased losses and bounced back into positive territory on Friday on continued signs OPEC members are sticking to their pledges to cut production to reduce the global supply glut. As U.S. production continues to creep up, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are starting to pull back on output to meet the 32.5 million barrels a day ceiling pledged at the cartel’s Nov. 30 meeting. Bloomberg reported on Friday that Kuwait is said to make bigger production cuts than required by the deal. Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the cartel, is taking the lion’s share of the output cut. The Wall Street Journal Thursday reported the kingdom made good on its pledge by cutting its January daily production by 468,000 barrels. Some market observers believe prices could reach $60-$70 a barrel later this quarter if the cuts are fully enforced. OPEC has a spotty record of adhering to past production quotas. However, even if OPEC along with nonmember nations that have also promised cuts adhere to the deal, many analysts said it remains to be seen how effective it would be in mopping up the world’s excess supply. Libya and Nigeria, the two OPEC nations exempt from the cut, are ramping up production. “With output in Libya and Nigeria probably rising this month to some 700,000 barrels a day and 1.7 million barrels a day, respectively, we estimate that actual total OPEC output in January could be closer to 33.5 million barrels a day than to the official ceiling of 32.5 million barrels a day,” said consultancy FGE in a note.
OPEC’s first oil output cuts since 2008 take effect next week, but analysts see little chance members of the producer group will stick to their quotas. “It’s inevitable. Somebody’s going to cheat,” ClearView Energy Partners managing director Kevin Book told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed last month to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day in a bid to reduce huge crude stockpiles that have built up during a more than two-year price rout. Other producers committed to reducing output by a total of nearly 558,000 barrels a day, with about half of the cuts coming from Russia. OPEC members do not exceed their quotas by much if one averages the cheating over time, but it will take a big cut this time around because inventory levels remain very high, said Book, who heads ClearView’s commodities research team. He also dismissed the notion of “ROPEC” — coordinated action by OPEC and Russia — as a myth. “We’ve been waiting to see this come through for decades. Is this going to be the time? Probably not this time either,” Book said.
Major oil producers have started cutting output but the rally in crude prices could be capped as U.S. shale companies boost production in the latter half of the year, according to JPMorgan. “Towards the second half of this year, U.S. shale starts to kick in,” said Scott Darling, the investment bank’s Asia-Pacific oil and gas research head. Darling said sustained crude prices of $50 a barrel in the second half of 2017 will aid U.S. shale growth of 200,000 barrels a day while the jump will be at 600,000 barrels a day if crude prices move up to $60 a barrel. Any further rise may even see shale production growth breaching 1 million barrels a day, he added. Rival Goldman Sachs noted Thursday U.S. shale activity has already picked up strongly, with the horizontal oil rig count at a 13-month high, and it expect U.S. shale producers to continue to ramp up activity at current price levels.
So far Libya’s revival has done little to undermine a plan by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to prop up prices by restricting oil supply. The group said Nov. 30 it would curb almost 1.2 MMbopd but that several nations—Libya among them—didn’t have to commit due to exceptional circumstances. Nigeria was also allowed to boost output because of a militant campaign that damaged its flows, while Iran was also allowed to increase supplies from what it was pumping late last year in its recovery from sanctions. Libya reopened Sharara field last month and the nation’s total pumping rate stood at 650,000 bopd. As well as restarting fields, it has also resumed cargo loadings from key ports. If maintained, the amount Libya is pumping would be about 125,000 bopd higher than the North African country was producing in October, the starting point for when most other OPEC nations are supposed to limit their collective supply. Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corp., said Dec. 21 that output would reach 900,000 bpd early this year. By hitting that target, Libya would replace about one third of the supplies being cut by other OPEC nations.
Iran has sold more than 13 million barrels of oil that it had long held on tankers at sea, capitalizing on an OPEC output cut deal from which it is exempted to regain market share and court new buyers, according to industry sources and data. In the past three months, Tehran has sold almost half the oil it had held in floating storage, which had tied up many of its tankers as it struggled to offload stocks in an oversupplied global market. The amount of Iranian oil held at sea has dropped to 16.4 million barrels, from 29.6 million barrels at the beginning of October, according to Thomson Reuters Oil Flows data. Before that sharp drop, the level had barely changed in 2016; it was 29.7 million barrels at the start of last year, the data showed. Unsold oil is now tying up about 12 to 14 Iranian tankers, out of its fleet of about 60 vessels, compared with around 30 in the summer, according to two tanker-tracking sources. The oil sold in recent months has gone to buyers in Asia including China, India and South Korea and to European countries including Italy and France, according to the sources and data. It was unclear which companies bought the oil.
International Business Times: Opec deal pushes UK petrol prices to two-year high
The price of petrol in the UK rose to its highest level in two years in December, according to a new study. The average cost of unleaded petrol was 117.9p compared to 114.2p at the start of December and 102.7p during the same period in the previous year, the RAC said. Diesel prices rose by more than 3p during the month to 119.6p – the highest level since July 2015. The RAC blamed the increases on the oil production cuts announced by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) at the end of November. “The rising oil price is bad news for motorists as it caused a nasty jump in pump prices in the most expensive month of the year,” RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said. “The big question now is how much further are they likely to go up, particularly in the long January wait to the next payday.
Washington Examiner: US will be a net exporter of natural gas in 2017
The U.S. is set to become a net exporter of natural gas in 2017 as dependence on foreign oil imports falls, according to the federal government’s latest energy projections. The Energy Information Administration, the independent analysis arm of the Energy Department, made the assessment Thursday in its Annual Energy Outlook for 2017. The outlook said all test-case scenarios point to the nation becoming a net energy exporter of natural gas, while its oil imports fall. Becoming a net exporter of natural gas means the U.S. will be able to meet demand on the global market while still producing enough to meet demand domestically. “Exports are highest, and grow throughout the projection period,” the outlook said. It said favorable geology and technology are combining to help the nation’s oil and gas companies produce at lower prices.
Oil Price: Russia Sets Oil & Gas Output Records
Over the last 15 years, Russia vaulted upwards in oil and gas production — challenging for the world’s top producer of crude. A fact that’s especially critical given this big producer is a “rogue” nation that lies outside the purview of OPEC. And 2016 was another big year for Russian oil output. With stats showing the country’s production rose again this past year — to an average 10.96 million barrels per day, up from 10.72 million barrels per day in 2015. And it isn’t just oil where Russia is having a major impact on global markets. Recent stats show the nation also had a banner year for natural gas output. Russian natgas giant Gazprom said this past week that it increased 2016 production levels to 419 billion cubic meters, or 14.8 trillion cubic feet. A mark that exceeded Gazprom’s own forecasts for the year by 2.7 percent. It’s not just pipeline gas that’s surging either. Russia’s burgeoning LNG exports also saw a 1.1 percent rise during 2016, to 14.69 billion cubic meters, according to government reports this week.
The National Iranian Oil Company has issued a list of 29 companies that have qualified for bidding in oil and gas tenders, of whom only one is a U.S. player, Schlumberger. The biggest European producers, including Shell, Eni, Total, and OMV have all qualified but BP has pulled out from the race because of worry that relations between Iran and the U.S. will get heated once Donald Trump takes office later this month, according to the Financial Times. Among those that qualified were China’s Sinopec, CNPC, CNOOC, and CNPW, as well as the state-owned oil companies of Indonesia and Malaysia – Pertamina and Petronas – plus Japan’s INPEX Corporation, Itochu, Mitsui, and Mitsubishi, and Japan Petroleum Corporation. Russian Gazprom and Lukoil were also among those qualified for the tenders, as were Danish Maersk, Indian ONGC, and Polish PGNiG. The domination of Chinese and Japanese companies on the list is understandable, as is the reluctance of U.S. energy companies to participate in Iranian oil and gas tenders. During his colorful election campaign, Donald Trump slammed the deal reached by Western powers and Iran on its nuclear program, which led to the lifting of most sanctions against it. The President-elect has also threatened to revoke the deal as soon as he takes office.
Despite two unexpected outages, the nuclear power plant near Richland, WA generated a record 9.6 billion kWhrs of electricity in 2016, edging out its previous record of 9.5 billion kWhs in 2014. The Columbia Generating Station has been generating electricity constantly for thirty-two years, but seems to have really found its groove over the last six. The power plant’s electricity output has been steadily increasing over this period because of continuous management and safety improvements, well-timed maintenance, technology replacements and power uprates, done when production is halted to replace fuel. But the most important reason for the reliability is that nuclear takes so little fuel and just keeps going and going. Unlike fossil fuel plants that have to be fueled continuously, refueling of nuclear plants only happens every two years because nuclear produces so much power using so little fuel. The Columbia Generating Station produces uses 5% of 20 tons of fuel each year to generate 9.6 billion kWhs of electricity. Compare this to a coal plant which uses almost a million tons of fuel to produce the same amount of electricity, not to mention the 2 million tons of CO2 it produces that enters the atmosphere. “Columbia’s low-cost power is absolutely critical if we’re to achieve this state’s and the region’s clean energy goals,” said Mark Reddemann, Energy Northwest CEO.
New York Times: Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant to Close by 2021
The Indian Point nuclear plant will shut down by April 2021 under an agreement New York State reached this week with Entergy, the utility company that owns the facility in Westchester County, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. Under the terms of the agreement, one of the two nuclear reactors at Indian Point will permanently cease operations by April 2020, while the other must be closed by April 2021. The shutdown has long been a priority for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who — though supportive of upstate nuclear plants — has repeatedly called for shutting down Indian Point, which he says poses too great a risk to New York City, less than 30 miles to the south. Despite the political opposition to Indian Point, which is perched on the edge of the Hudson River in Buchanan, N.Y., the plant is an important supplier of inexpensive power to the metropolitan area. It has the capacity to generate more than 2,000 megawatts, or about one-fourth of the power consumed in New York City and Westchester County. The prospects for replacing that power are so far unclear, but potential options include hydropower from Quebec and power from wind farms already operating across New York, according to the person. State officials believe the Entergy agreement will help convince renewable energy providers that the state is serious about looking for new sources of energy, the person said. But without a viable replacement source, ratepayers in New York City could be burdened with higher energy prices for years.
Financial Times: French watchdog deepens probes into Areva nuclear parts
Investigators are widening probes into potentially faulty nuclear reactor components made at a factory operated by Areva, the struggling French manufacturer, after the problems contributed to multiple shutdowns of power plants last year. Julien Collet, deputy director of the ASN, France’s nuclear regulator, said he wanted to “go much further” with investigations into Areva’s components, including one probe into the falsification of documents that certified the quality of certain parts. Separately, the ASN is expected to issue a report this year about issues with components made by Areva for a new nuclear power plant at Flamanville in France. The report’s findings could have an impact on the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK, which is due to use the same technology as Flamanville.
World Nuclear News: Worldwide nuclear capacity continues to grow in 2016
Global nuclear generating capacity increased slightly in 2016 to 391.6 GWe net, up from 382.2 GWe at the end of 2015, according to data from the World Nuclear Association. Construction of three large reactor projects also started during 2016, while three units were permanently shut down. Ten new nuclear power reactors with a combined generating capacity of 9479 MWe came online in 2016. Five of these – Ningde 4, Hongyanhe 4, Changjiang 2, Fangchenggang 2 and Fuqing 3 – were in China. Unit 3 of South Korea’s Shin Kori plant was also connected to the grid, as were India’s Kudankulam 2, Pakistan’s Chashma 3, Russia’s Novovoronezh 6 and the USA’s Watts Bar 2. In 2015, 9497 MWe of new nuclear generating capacity was connected to the grid, while 4763 MWe was added in 2014. At the end of 2016, there were 447 reactors operable around the world totalling 391.4 GWe net, and 60 under construction (64.5 GWe gross). This compares with 439 reactors in operation at the end of 2015, with a total 382.6 GWe.
A spokesman for one of Sweden’s three nuclear power plants says they will have armed guards outside the facilities starting next month in a decision made by the country’s nuclear watchdog. Anders Osterberg of the Oskarshamn power station says “the elevated level” was based on a general security assessment, not a specific threat. Osterberg said Thursday in an email to The Associated Press that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority decided last year that guards should carry firearms as of Feb. 1. Sweden has a total of 10 reactors in Oskarshamn, Ringhals and Forsmark, providing about half of the country’s electricity production. Sitting some 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Stockholm on the Baltic Sea coast, Oskarshamn has three reactors.
Power Magazine: China Starts Building SMR-Based Floating Nuclear Plant
China has officially begun construction of its first offshore nuclear power plant, a demonstration project that will employ the domestically developed ACPR50S small modular reactor (SMR). China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN) on November 4 told reporters at a press conference that the project is a “top priority” that will further the country’s “strong marine power strategy.” Among its myriad uses will be powering oilfield exploration in the Bohai Sea and deep-water oil and gas development in the South China Sea. “An offshore small modular reactor adopting a decentralized energy system could be a good solution for providing a steady supply of energy on islands, in coastal or far offshore areas,” CGN said. CGN did not address it, but the project has reportedly prompted some alarm amongst countries that border the South China Sea, which spans 1.4 million square miles. A third of the world’s shipping passes through its waters. China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia all claim sovereignty over some land features in the sea, and concerns about security and resources have driven much tension among stakeholder countries.
Brisbane Times: Uranium world’s worst commodity in 2016
No major commodity had a worse 2016 than uranium. In fact, the element used to make nuclear fuel has had a pretty dismal decade. Prices tumbled 41 per cent last year, touching a 12-year low below $US18 a pound in November, according to Ux Consulting, which compiles market data. The slump was the seventh in nine years. The rise of nuclear power has slowed as utilities shifted to cheaper natural gas for new generators. And after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, safety concerns led big uranium buyers including Japan and Germany to shut down or decommission reactors. “It’s the world’s best asset in the world’s worst market,” said Leigh Curyer, chief executive of NexGen Energy, a Vancouver-based uranium producer. “I don’t think there’s a mine profitable at current spot prices. This short-term spot price isn’t reflective of the cost of producing a pound globally.” The outlook isn’t entirely bleak. Losses are forcing uranium mines to cut production or close, which may eventually create a supply crunch, while accelerated building of nuclear plants in China and India could help revive demand.
The federal government is backing a $100 billion investment target to expand the Australian coal industry as it blasts the “hypocrisy” of environmentalists who want to halt new mines, escalating a fight over attempts to mandate more solar and wind power. Aiming to open up vast new deposits for export, the government is mobilising against warnings about the “end of coal” as it considers a $1bn loan for the Adani mine in central Queensland on the condition the cash will help further projects. Resources Minister Matt Canavan told The Australian it would be hypocritical to stop coal production or exports on the grounds that developing nations should not use fossil fuels to drive their economic growth. “For the foreseeable future, coal will remain one of the core parts of the energy supply mix to provide people with electricity. We can’t deny people the same benefits that we accrue from permanent and reliable electricity — that would be immoral,” Senator Canavan said. Senator Canavan said Australians who used fossil fuels to fly around the world or used coal power to light their homes were in no position to deny the same power to Indian consumers who wanted cheap power. “In the broader global context, it’s also mean-spirited because this is life and death for people in other parts of the world,” he said.
House Republicans in the US passed legislation Wednesday to block or undo regulations and executive orders recently issued by President Barack Obama. Congress has now the power to kill in one fell swoop dozens of such laws, dubbed “midnight rules” — those rolled out in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing administration. The approval of the bill comes as Republican leaders have made public their intention to revoke Obama’s rules to reduce methane emissions and lower the environmental impact of coal mining on nearby streams. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told AP he expected the two environmental rules to go as soon as possible, as he believes they curb the nation’s energy production. In the past, lawmakers have successfully used the special law that lets them invalidate a regulation only once. That legislation, known as the Congressional Review Act, requires a simple majority of both chambers to approve a joint resolution of disapproval followed by the President’s signature. In practical terms, it means that any federal regulation passed since May last year could be voided by the Republican-led Congress once President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House.
China Daily: China to optimize coal production
China aims to optimize the structure of its coal production by reducing outdated capacity and increasing the use of cleaner products. The world’s largest coal producer and consumer will cut outdated coal capacity by 800 million metric tons per year by 2020, while increasing use of cleaner coal by 500 million tons, according to the coal industry 2016-2020 development plan issued by the country’s top economic planner. Total coal output will stand at about 3.9 billion tons in 2020, compared with 3.75 billion tons in 2015, while China will consume 4.1 billion tons of coal, up from 3.96 billion tons in 2015. There will be about 3,000 coal enterprises in 2020, mostly large companies, running about 6,000 collieries nationwide, with large-capacity coal mines the majority. The plan also outlines targets to improve coal production safety and efficiency, as well as reducing impact on the environment.
A factory in Tamil Nadu, India, may prove to be the shining light that cuts its way through the coal-smudged sky and show us a method of slowing climate change – or at the very least, show us a place to start. The Tuticorin zero-emission factory is a coal-fueled power plant that has invented a revolutionary system to trap the CO2 emissions from the coal boiler and turn them into soda ash – which can be used to make baking soda and a variety of other compounds with many uses, including detergents and sweeteners. The factory states that the process has reduced its carbon emissions to virtually zero and on top of that, the production of baking soda prevents an estimated 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the world’s atmosphere each year. Not only is this technique an incredible scientific discovery, it is a revolutionary economic tactic as well. The Tuticorin factory will be the first factory to make CO2 emission reductions profitable. Ramachadran Gopalan, the factory’s owner, told the BBC, “I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.” Never the less, scientists estimate that this new technique could be used to prevent 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions due to coal.
A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa) found China’s dominance in renewables is rapidly spreading overseas, with the country accelerating its foreign investment in renewable energy and supporting technologies. Analysing Chinese foreign investments over US$1bn, Ieefa found 13 in 2016, worth a combined $32bn. That represented a 60% jump over similar investments in 2015. The report noted the global expansion cements China’s total domination of renewable energy growth globally. China now owned five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms, the largest wind-turbine manufacturer, the world’s largest lithium ion manufacturer (and) the world’s largest electricity utility. Tim Buckley, director of Ieefa and author of the report, said the election of Donald Trump in the US and lack of supportive policy in Australia left those countries at risk of missing a huge opportunity. “At the moment China is leaving everyone behind and has a real first-mover and scale advantage, which will be exacerbated if countries such as the US, UK and Australia continue to apply the brakes to clean energy,” he said.
Electricity companies have begun hiking consumer prices around the country, blaming the closure of coal-fired generators and the increased cost of renewable ¬energy for higher-than-predicted increases of more than $130 this year. EnergyAustralia and AGL have increased electricity tariffs in Victoria by $135 and $132 on ¬average for the year respectively — greatly exceeding state government modelling that concluded bills would rise by $27 to $100. The Victorian price rises will flow from this week but the companies’ customers in other states, including South Australia and NSW, face a yet-to-be announced price rise in June. Red Energy, the retailing arm of Snowy Hydro, informed customers in NSW its rates would increase this week because of “increases in the wholesale cost of electricity and the large-scale renewable energy certificates”. The consumer price rises will increase political pressure on state and federal governments to deal with escalating energy costs that have sparked business warnings that rising power charges are undermining competitiveness.
As American foresters ramp up logging to meet the growing demand for wood pellets by power plants on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a new European wood energy proposal would allow the power plants to continue claiming their operations are green for at least 13 more years, despite releasing more heat-trapping pollution than coal. Most of the wood fueling converted coal plants in England, Denmark, and other European countries is coming from North American forests. Each month, about 1 million tons of tree trunks and branches from southern U.S. pine plantations and natural forests is being turned into pellets and shipped to European power plants, mostly to Drax power station in the U.K. The growing transatlantic trade is being financed with billions of dollars in European climate subsidies because of a regulatory loophole that allows wood energy to count as if it’s as clean as solar or wind energy, when in reality it’s often worse for the climate than burning coal. Only the pollution released when wood pellets are produced and transported is counted on climate ledgers. Actual pollution from the smokestack — by far the greatest source of carbon pollution from wood energy — is overlooked.
Agora Energiewende: Coal power is on the decline in Germany, yet emissions have increased
Germany’s transition to green energy was marked by both progress and setbacks in 2016. On the one hand, the power system became more climate friendly for the third year running: gas power plants gained back market share from coal-fired plants; the phase-out of nuclear power continued as planned; renewable energy systems delivered more electricity than ever before; electricity use fell; and support for the energy transition among Germans grew from its already high level. On the other hand, by the end of 2016 it became clear that Germany’s total greenhouse gas emissions had risen once again; that in 2017 domestic electricity prices would exceed the 30-cent per kilowatt hour mark for the first time; and that the transition’s progress has been too slow to reach the 2020 climate and efficiency targets without major additional efforts. These are the key findings of the Agora Energiewende 2016 annual assessment released today.
Construction Equipment: Israel to Test Roads That Recharge EVs
Israeli startup company Electroad will be retrofitting a public bus route in Tel Aviv with buried coils that will inductively charge electric vehicles. The technology relies on electromagnetic induction, a principle used to charge wireless phones and toothbrushes. ElectRoad’s CEO Oren Ezer says that while the concept is the same, the technology is different. “Our technology is flexible,” said Ezer. “Only copper and rubber is needed, and deployment is quick and easy. You can retrofit one kilometer of road in just half a day, from night to morning.” The installation process begins with an asphalt scraper that digs an 8-centimeter-deep trench. A second vehicle installs the wireless energy charging strips and fills the trench back up with asphalt. Smart inverters with real-time communication are installed on the sides of the road. A coil unit attached beneath the electric vehicle receives power transferred over a small 24-centimeter air gap. Radiation is minimized and locally shielded for driver and passenger safety. The company says the compliant buses will weigh much less and require less energy. ElectRoad says cost savings compared to diesel buses would be half the price.
Investment in windfarms will fall off a “cliff edge” over the next three years and put the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk, a thinktank has found. More than £1bn of future investment in renewable energy projects disappeared over the course of 2016, the Green Alliance found when it analysed the government’s latest pipeline of major infrastructure plans. Investment in wind, solar, biomass power and waste-to-energy projects will decline by 95% between 2017 and 2020, it added. While a slowdown in green energy investment had been expected after ministers cut several subsidy schemes over the last 18 months, the figures lay bare the dramatic extent of the decline. “This cliff edge needs to be avoided if the UK is to meet its world leading carbon budgets and Paris agreement pledge,” Green Alliance said in its analysis.
International Business Times: Friends of the Earth to withdraw fraudulent anti-fracking leaflet
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has agreed to withdraw an anti-fracking leaflet that made misleading claims about the environmental and social costs of extracting shale gas. The charity has agreed not to repeat unsubstantiated claims that fracking involves the use of cancer-causing chemicals or causes house prices to plummet, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said. The leaflet also showed a picture of Grasmere in the Lake District emblazoned with the words “Don’t let fracking destroy all of this”. But it was pointed out by Michael Roberts, a retired geologist who complained to the ASA, that Grasmere is a volcanic landscape and contains no coal, oil or gas. Roberts and another individual complained to the ASA along with Cuadrilla, the energy firm that has been given governmental permission to frack in Lancashire. Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “FoE’s repeated falsehoods have been exposed as nothing more than scaremongering designed to frighten the public into giving it money. It is the unacceptable face of the charity sector.”
Energy Voice: What now for Scotland’s energy?
In 2014, renewables generated 49.9% of Scotland’s electricity output, and 59.4% in 2015. A pipeline of projects is primed to take us up to and over the 100%. These are formidable achievements. The uncomfortable reality is that, although annual averages are impressive, hour-by-hour electrical power from wind or tide is not reliably dispatchable when needed. And it is well established that the wind does not always blow somewhere else in Europe, so international interconnectors cannot supply Scotland with electricity when gaps occur. Inevitably, following the closure of the Longannet coal-fired power station, there is now an 80-fold increase in imported electricity from England for around half of the year. So can energy storage save us? Adding up the large pumped storage reservoirs in Scotland is straightforward: Cruachan (440 MW) 7 gigawatt hours; Foyers (300 MW) 6 GWh; Glenmuckloch (400MW) 1.7 GWh. So, to meet a future peak demand on a calm evening in a renewable Scotland, these resources of 14.7 GWh would supply 5GW for just three hours – generously six hours, allowing for efficient demand reduction. To avoid blackout, Scotland has either to rely on dispatchable electricity from other nations or build and maintain storage or different sources of energy. To store the equivalent energy to meet a seven-day gap in wind generation will require more than 20 Cruachan developments. Or every household in Scotland buying a week’s worth of battery storage at a cost of more than £50,000. Or we build nuclear. It’s a weighty decision.
An £18million tidal energy scheme, which was supposed to power 600 homes, has stopped working after just three months. The taxpayer-funded DeltaStream project in Pembrokeshire in Wales, was designed to use the flow of the ocean with a 39ft turbine installed on the seabed near Ramsey Island. The £18million ‘wet elephant’ received £8million funding of EU money and £500,000 from the Welsh Government. The generator was fitted with a sonar radar to detect nearby wildlife including seals, porpoises and dolphins and would shut off if they came to close. But the sonar developed an ‘intermittent fault’ in March 2016 – after being launched the previous December. Development director Chris Williams of Tidal Energy Ltd said defended the massive cost of DeltaStream saying it was a ‘research’ project.
Domestic electricity prices are now the highest in the Europe and 52pc more than median prices in the Continent, surpassing both Ireland and Spain for the first time, according to official figures. Experts blame ineffective competition between suppliers and warn that expensive energy projects, including the proposed “Hinkley C” nuclear reactor, could further drive up energy costs at home. The typical British household pays 14.8p for every unit of electricity or “kilowatt hour” (kWh) they use, before taxes are taken into account, according to analysis by the Department for Energy & Climate Change (Decc). By contrast, the pre-tax price in Denmark is just 9.35p/kWh and 5.75p/kWh in Bulgaria, according to the data collected from Eurostat.
British Utilities: UK Trade union calls for transparent decarbonisation
A trade union is calling on the UK Government to be more open about the cost of going green. The call for increased transparency comes after GMB researchers couldn’t establish what the total expense of the Climate Change Act 2008 would be. They provided an estimated cost of £123.6 billion by 2030, based on statistics from the Climate Change Committee which suggested £6.76 billion was spent on decarbonising the economy in 2015. GMB said this figure is very likely to be exceeded as it does not take into account carbon taxes, emissions permits, renewable levies and other additional expenditure. The firm has also suggested that paying for the measures out of general taxation is likely to be fairer than placing levies on consumer bills. Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for the Energy Sector, said: “Loading the costs of decarbonising the economy onto individual bill payers is highly regressive and will hit those who can least afford it the hardest – we are talking thousands of pounds extra on the bills of every house in Britain over the coming decade and a half. “Given the eye-watering amounts of cash involved, UK energy bill payers have a right to demand complete transparency over all aspects of the decarbonising costs arising out of the 2008 Climate Change Act. It must also be established whether or not the costs represent value for money, efficacy and above all, if they are going to rack up even further, as seems likely.”
Energy prices are the top concern for an increasing number of consumers, while distrust for providers has also risen, a survey has found. Which? found that almost two-thirds of consumers (64%) are concerned about energy costs, a rise of eight percentage points since September. More than a third of consumers (35%) do not trust the market, an increase of six percentage points. The latest Which? findings come 30 days ahead of the watchdog’s deadline for energy companies to submit plans on how they can help their customers on the most expensive tariffs move to better deals, as part of its Fair Energy Prices campaign. The consumer group said not one energy company had yet published a plan.
Roy Spencer: 2016 not statistically warmer than 1998
The Version 6.0 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for December 2016 was +0.24 deg. C, down substantially from the November value of +0.45 deg. C. The resulting 2016 annual average global temperature anomaly is +0.50 deg. C, which is (a statistically insignificant) 0.02 deg. C warmer than 1998 at +0.48 deg. C. We estimate that 2016 would have had to be 0.10 C warmer than 1998 to be significantly different at the 95% confidence level. Both 2016 and 1998 were strong El Nino years.
Engineering & Technology: Green technologies need to proliferate 10 times faster to prevent 2°C rises
The Paris Agreement, a climate accord signed by nearly 200 countries which came into effect in November, aims to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an ambition of limiting temperature rises even further to 1.5°C. But the United Nations later said in a report that current greenhouse emissions will exceed that which is needed to keep global warming in check by 2030 unless the pace at which emissions are curbed is not increased. “Based on our calculations, we won’t meet the climate warming goals set by the Paris Agreement unless we speed up the spread of clean technology by a full order of magnitude, or about ten times faster than in the past,” said Gabriele Manoli, who led the Duke University study. “Radical new strategies to implement technological advances on a global scale and at unprecedented rates are needed if current emissions goals are to be achieved.”
Climate scientist Dr. Judith Curry has had enough of academics politicizing her field. She’s leaving academia for the private sector, which she said on Jan. 3, “seems like a more ‘honest’ place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs.” Curry resigned her tenured position as of Jan. 1, with “no intention of seeking another academic” position in a university or government agency. Curry explained her decision to retire from academia on her Climate Etc. blog writing that she felt “growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.”In her view, the “politicized academic establishment” for climate science has limited avenues for students to receive funding, get papers published and obtain prestigious positions. Students often found themselves in a conflict between maintaining their scientific integrity and “career suicide.” Curry also criticized attempts to prevent climate change and its impacts. She reasoned that even if alarmist claims were true, both Obama’s policies and the Paris Climate agreement were inadequate to address the problem. “The one thing we know is that the commitments we’ve made, in Paris, will probably prevent about two-tenths of a degree of warming by the end of the 21st century. What is the point of that?” Curry asked in a Jan. 4, interview with E&E