Blowout week 19

I am still experimenting with how to present Blowout. Some weeks it is very difficult to make sense of the energy news. This week there is some sense and loads of nonsense as usual. You decide. I’ve added links to articles from Master Resource who helped bring Energy Matters record traffic this week – 6633 page views and counting. 32 articles in all this week, renewables, energy prices, CCS, solar, coal, oil, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq and Germany….

Green America: Obama touts energy plans, W. House trumpets solar panels

President Obama promoted new plans Friday designed to boost solar power and promote energy efficiency, saying both will reduce the environmental threats from climate change. “There are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time,” Obama said during a visit to a Wal-Mart in Mountain View, Calif., near San Jose.

Sun drenched UK: UK will install 3 times more solar than Australia in 2014

The United Kingdom – cloudy, drizzly, better-put-the-covers-on-the-pitch England – is forecast to become the largest market for solar PV in Europe in 2014. Conservative estimates put the installation rate for the current year at around 2,500MW, which is about three times more than the average forecast (800MW) for Australia. Some industry forecasts expect more than 3,000MW to be installed in the UK in 2014.

CCS abandoned: Sweden’s Vattenfall abandons research on CO2 storage

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall said Tuesday that it had given up its research on CO2 capture and storage, intended to make the company’s coal power plants greener. Capturing and liquifying CO2 coming from carbon combustion to later store it underground was meant to curb greenhouse effect gas emissions, but its costs and the energy it requires make the technology unviable.

Energy crisis in Europe: EON Urges EU Policy Revamp as Power Markets Face Crisis

The chief executive officer of Germany’s biggest utility urged the European Union to improve its energy and climate policies, saying poor design has exacerbated a deep crisis in power markets and the industry.

Scientists forecast the future: First time in 800,000 years: April’s CO2 levels above 400 ppm

Less than a year after scientists first warned that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could rise above 400 parts per million and stay there, it has finally happened.

Yergin did win a Pulitzer Prize: Daniel Yergin on the next energy revolution

The unconventional-oil and -gas revolution—shale gas and what’s become known as “tight oil”—is the most important energy innovation so far in the 21st century. I say so far, because we can be confident that there will be other innovations coming down the road. There’s more emphasis on energy innovation than ever before. Unconventional oil and gas came as a pretty big surprise. It even took the oil and gas industry by surprise. “Peak oil” was such a fervent view five or six years ago, when oil prices were going up.

Lords wiser than Commons: House of Lords committee calls for fracking to be ‘national priority’

A House of Lords committee has urged changes in the law to fast-track fracking and ensure property owners cannot delay drilling under their land. The economic affairs committee (EAC) is also demanding ministers set up a special cabinet committee on the issue and make it a “national priority” to sell the benefits of shale gas to a sceptical British public.

Norway Kaput?: Insight – End of oil boom threatens Norway’s welfare model

Norway’s energy boom is tailing off years ahead of expectations, exposing an economy unprepared for life after oil and threatening the long-term viability of the world’s most generous welfare model.

Green losses: Drax follows Centrica in issuing profit warning

Drax, the operator of Britain’s biggest power station, has become the second energy company in as many days to issue a profit warning on the back of falling wholesale prices. It blamed warm weather for hitting energy demand and lowering the price of electricity and said it had also been hurt financially by the falling value of its renewable energy subsidies.

Energy suicide: Cold Turkey: How Germany Could End Russian Gas Dependency

The crisis in Ukraine has made painfully obvious just how dependent Germany and other European countries are on Russian natural gas. There are serious alternatives for supplying the vital natural resource, but they all come at a price.

Unaffordable energy to power unaffordable train: The cost of wind-farms will dwarf that of HS2

Much attention was paid to the vote by a huge majority of MPs for the HS2 project, the main objections to which are that it will cost a staggering £50 billion and cause immense environmental damage, to much less useful purpose than is claimed for it. But no one seems to have noticed that the same is true for another of the Government’s projects: its bid to meet our agreed EU target that, within six years, we must treble the amount of our electricity derived from “renewables”. Ed Davey, our energy and climate change minister, claims that his £12 billion plan, centred on six giant offshore wind farms, will add “4.5 gigawatts” to our generating capacity.

Energy to dear: Energy billpayers ripped off as network costs ‘£4.2bn too high’, claims British Gas

Households will pay £4.2 billion too much for their energy bills over the next eight years, according to one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers. British Gas has claimed that energy network companies, who are responsible for the electricity cables and gas pipelines that feed homes from the national grid, are charging too much for their services and this is adding to consumer bills.

Too much Green: UK ‘has already approved enough green energy to hit targets’

Britain has already approved enough renewable energy projects to hit its EU targets, rendering all 1,000 projects still in the planning system surplus to requirements, new analysis claims. Government figures show that 35 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity – mainly wind and solar farms and wood-burning biomass plants – is already built, under construction or has planning consent.

Energy to cheap: UK energy too cheap, says study

The government must urgently establish a strategic authority to oversee the future growth of Britain’s ageing energy infrastructure, a study argues on Tuesday . Academics at Newcastle University challenge the government’s market-based approach, saying the £100bn needed to secure energy security is not being delivered by a fragmented system that lacks central direction.

USA wrecked: Climate change wreaking havoc in America’s backyard, scientists warn

Climate change has moved from the corners of the earth into the American backyard, the country’s leading scientists warned on Tuesday, releasing a landmark report they hoped would spur action on climate change. The 840-page National Climate Assessment was seen as the definitive account of the effects of climate change on America, and of the country’s efforts to deal with climate change.

Old coal dies: Coal-fired power station at Uskmouth to shut

The UK’s oldest coal-fired power station near Newport is to close, putting 83 jobs at risk. Renewable Electricity and gas supplier SSE said it “extremely disappointed” to lose the site in Uskmouth.

Nuclear pricing: Government procurement of new nuclear ‘could bring £12bn in savings’

Examining the government’s deal with energy firm EDF to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, CentreForum said instead of negotiating over the subsidy that would be provided, ministers could have held an auction to determine the support.

Screw England instead of Scotland: Chris Huhne: Allow wind farms in Northumberland to keep Scotland happy

The former energy secretary, Chris Huhne, has said wind farms should be allowed in Northumberland as the cost of keeping Scotland happy. Mr Huhne told a North East energy conference yesterday that as far as he was concerned, wind turbine opponents should be made to “sign a piece of paper saying they don’t mind the lights going out”.

More central control required: Fragmentation of the energy sector is ‘our achilles heel’

With Ofgem’s recent call for an inquiry into evidence of profiteering at the big six energy firms, and Labour placing energy at the centre of its electoral strategy for 2015, the UK is facing a national debate about how we power our economy – and how we pay for it. But the energy sector is a complex mosaic of competing interests and imperatives, with no quick fix.

Green “investment” disasters: Questor share tip: Avoid Drax as future falls victim to change in policy

Drax has fallen victim to the Government’s efforts to clean up the way we generate energy in this country. The majority of electricity in the UK still comes from our fleet of coal-fired power stations, of which Drax is one of the biggest in Europe. However, that is all set to change as the Government steadily increases the amount of tax it charges from this year on power generated by burning coal. The Government is trying to shift to cleaner and more modern gas-fired power stations. In order to survive, Drax has drawn up plans to convert its coal-fired generators to run on vast amounts of wood chip, or biomass.

Eagle Ford for sale: Talisman, Statoil Said to Be Exploring Sale of Texas Venture

Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM) and Statoil ASA (STL) are considering selling their joint venture in Texas’s oil-rich Eagle Ford basin, which could fetch more than $4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time. Luis remains focused on Russia / Ukraine and Iraq.

We can depend on Russia: Europe stuck with Russian gas dependence, say G7 ministers

Europe will be saddled with its dependence on Russian gas for years, ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations said on Tuesday, condemning the use of energy as a weapon of political coercion. “I don’t know anyone in the world who could tell us how Europe’s dependency on importing Russian gas can be changed in the short term,” German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters.

Russia also produces oil: Oil: Ukraine crisis can trigger oil spike and tip EU back into recession

Oil prices have increased by more than USD 2/barrel today as tension in Ukraine has escalated and raise concerns about the risks of disruption in Russian energy exports. There is a risk that the security situation in the east Ukraine will worsen even further ahead of the 25 May elections. Memories have been awakened of episodes in 2006 and 2009 when Gazprom halted all Russian gas flows through Ukraine, amid pricing disputes, completely cutting off supplies to Southern Europe and partially other European countries. Not nearly as much attention has been paid to the risk of a disruption to the oil flows.

USA interfering in Ukraine: CIA, FBI agents ‘advising Ukraine government’: report

Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government, a German newspaper reported Sunday. Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure.

Russia interfering in Iraq: Amid Chaos, Russian Billionaire Launches Giant Iraqi Oilfield

After nearly 30 years, Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov has finally caught his Iraqi elephant — the supergiant West Qurna is an oilfield so big the world may never see its like again. In mid March, Russian oil giant Lukoil celebrated the start up of the West Qurna-2. The Iraqi oilfield, located near the southern city of Basra at the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was quite likely the world’s biggest untapped field, with recoverable oil reserves believed to be in the neighborhood of 20 billion barrels.

IOC’s heading for extinction: More debate on the future of international oil companies

In my last Barrel post, I threw down the gauntlet to those casually predicting a collapse in oil prices, as such a collapse would effectively kill the oil business at the major oil companies. We will know, I wrote, that such forecasters are serious when they declare the international oil companies (IOCs) “to be the walking dead.”

The last week on Master Resource:

Obama not real: ObamaScience: Third U.S. Climate Assessment DOA (hype haunts in real science)

Despite uncooperative data regarding global warming (in a 15+ year ‘pause’), hurricanes, and tornadoes; despite the failure of climate models to predict and thus explain; despite the inability of the same models to attribute regionally; and despite the well-known benefits of carbon dioxide fertilization and moderately warmer/wetter climate scenarios, Obama and the Malthusian Left (including many cooperating scientists) soldier on.

Wind impacts birds: Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Windpower: ABC Request vs. Government-enabled Eco-blight

Under the banner of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), approximately seventy organizations have requested that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “develop a Programmatic Wind Environmental Impact Statement to identify appropriate areas for wind energy development as well as areas where new projects should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.”

Solar fries birds: Bird Vaporization at Ivanpah: Solar Enters Wind Territory

The slaughter of birds caught in the revolving blades of wind energy turbines has grabbed national attention lately. But even more pernicious is the nearly invisible vaporizing of birds that fly into the new Ivanpah solar mirror project in California’s Mojave Desert seeking to feed on the insects that are drawn to the light of the reflecting mirrors.

Watt and Stevenson revived: The Coal Train Steams Forward

The shale revolution has fundamentally changed the American energy scene. Over the last five years or so, domestic production of oil and gas have soared. And some analysts are claiming that the US oil production could soon surpass that of Saudi Arabia. As the shale gale rumbles forward, the usual battles over renewable energy are continuing. At the state level, policymakers and lobby groups continue tussling over renewable portfolio standards. At the federal level, the White House continues its mindless support for the corn ethanol scam and Congress continues debating subsidies for wind and solar. But for all of the jousting here at home over natural gas exports and the virtues (or lack thereof) of renewable energy, the global energy story of today is coal.

Wise Energy: AWED Energy & Environmental Newsletter: May 5, 2014

The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) is an informal coalition of individuals and organizations interested in improving national, state, and local energy & environmental policies. Our basic position is that technical matters like these should be addressed by using Real Science. It’s all spelled out at, which is a wealth of energy and environmental resources.

Green globalisation: The Green Benefits of Food Globalization: Markets at Work

The lessons of history can be very eloquent, if only we are willing to take the time to learn them. In a 2008 National Geographic article, journalist Charles Mann discusses how soil management policies in communist China led to the creation of terrace agriculture in unsuitable conditions, the cutting down of trees, and the planting of grain on steep slopes. The main results were increased soil erosion and soil depletion.

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7 Responses to Blowout week 19

  1. Hi Euan,

    Good catch on the Vattenfall CCS failure. I am not seeing any signs that CCS can work outside of an EOR environment, where there is no net carbon emissions reduction.

    The Uskmouth link is broken. Here is one


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Dave, I found that about 10 links weren’t there – don’t know what happened to the HTML, the links just disappeared.

      I’ve been debunking CCS for years. Its expensive to spend billions on experiments to find out what folks used to be able to work out on the back of an envelope. UK government hasn’t worked it out yet.


  2. Roger Andrews says:

    Euan: Some good stuff in this one.

    On Vattenfall. Anyone who has taken even a cursory look at CCS knows that the economics just aren’t there. The only CCS operations that seem to be making any headway are in fact those that sell the CO2 for secondary oil & gas recovery, which of course defeats the purpose of the exercise. (Whoops. I see that Dave Rutledge got in before me on this one, but no harm done.)

    On Obama & Co: Does anyone else get the feeling that the intensity of climate change rhetoric has become inversely proportional to the level of scientific support?

    On the energy crisis in Europe: It seems that Europe now faces a choice between junking its renewable energy policies or watching its electricity generation system go down the tubes. Anyone care to predict what Europe will do?

  3. zaphod42 says:

    Hi Euan. It seems that the AGW community engages in hyperbole in a manner of speaking, not as to what is happening but rather as to how long it is taking. Perhaps from their viewpoint it is justified since taking action now will not help for a good long time, so remedies also take quite a while.

    It does not help, though, that a 1.5F increase in temps over 120 years does not sound very large, even if 80% of it is in the most recent 15 years.

    I do find that the latest data on West Antarctic Ice is not very warming…

    And if the statement that they are past the point of no return is true, then what is the point in getting worried. Yes, I know, we can still lessen and slow the impact, but it seems to me that NASA and the others involved in the two studies shot themselves in the foot.

    Also, considering that there seems to rationale to doing CCS, what are we actually saying about our future?

    On a lighter note, it is good to see Yergen got a Pulitzer Prize. I never realized that no one knew about tight oil – my Dad owned stock in Permeator Corporation in the 1960s and 70s, and they were much in to oil sands and tight oil frac’ing way back then. It was just too expensive to make money doing it at that time.


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Great animation. What is missing is the linkage to Man made climate change. I wasn’t aware that Antarctica had warmed at all and understood that the advance and retreat of glaciers was part of a natural cycle where ice builds to a certain thickness when it fails and flows. And then it rebuilds.

      Yergin won Pulitzer Prize for his epic book The Prize, well worth reading. You will see how history repeats in the oil industry. He pitched himself and his company – CERA – quite firmly against Peak Oil. Like many of us, he was partly but not entirely right. Peak conventional oil provided a price that enabled shale.

  4. Hans says:

    The oil income has nothing to do with the financing of Norways welfare. Norway has a large cash pile (stocks really) becuse Norway hasn’t spent any of the oil income for decades but bought stocks for every cent.

    If the oil income vanished tomorrow, all that would mean is that the savings fund would stop growing. All the welfare is financed off non-oil income. I suspect the author of the original article has idolological reasons for not wanting to aknowledge that.

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