I am on holiday for two weeks. And so expect fewer posts. Roger Andrews has the keys to the site and will be keeping an eye on things and maybe even posting a couple of posts.
35 stories this week below the fold.
Following the loss of the Malaysian airliner last week, European leaders are once again wrestling with the question of how to respond to Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
They are reluctant to get tough, much more so than the United States.
The EU could easily end up doing itself a lot of economic harm, most obviously if Russia were to respond by turning down the gas.
UK Met office: Is an El Niño on the way and what might its impacts be?
July 2014 – This year has seen changes taking place in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that have heralded the onset of an El Niño event, with the potential to cause major climatic impacts around the world.
MEXICO CITY, July 25 (Reuters) – State-owned oil company Pemex reported a wider second quarter loss hurt by higher sales costs, declining asset values and higher taxes, the company said on Friday.
BUSINESSES in Scotland have invested almost £50 million in their own onsite power stations in recent years in the face of rising energy prices and concerns over security of supply.
There are now 40 commercial-scale renewable energy projects including wind turbines, roof-mounted solar panels and anaerobic digestion plants in operation.
Three enormous cooling towers at the disused Didcot A Power Station in Oxfordshire have been demolished.
The blast, conducted with more than 180kg of explosives, flattened 36,000 tonnes of material in seconds and was streamed live online.
Sustainable energy for all: Scottish Government to host European Launch of UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in Glasgow
VIENNA/GLASGOW, 21 July 2014: Kandeh K. Yumkella, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All will address the European Launch of the UN Decade of SE4All on 24 July in Glasgow, on the margins of the Commonwealth Games at an event hosted by the Scottish Government in partnership with the SE4All Global Facilitation Team alongside the Commonwealth Games Business Conference.
Utility Week: Green Deal Home Improvement Fund closes indefinitely
The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) has been closed indefinitely by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) after just seven weeks.
A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is just two days away from arriving at a U.S. port, according to ship tracking satellites, despite Washington’s long-standing concern over independent oil sales from the autonomous region.
A new material structure generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.
A government cashback scheme offering £7,600 to people improving the energy efficiency of their homes has been slammed shut overnight after a last-minute surge of applications threatened to blow the budget.
Paul Holmwood: How can the Green Deal be called a ‘success’?
The Telegraph report on the news that the Govt’s Green Deal has been closed for at least a year, because the money has run out. Ed Davey claims this as a success
Burning wood to fuel power stations can create as many harmful carbon emissions as burning coal, according to a government report.
UK taxpayers subsidise energy firms to burn wood to meet EU renewables targets.
Gov.UK: Biomass calculator launched
Launch of scientific calculator that investigates the impact on carbon emissions of biomass sourced from North America to produce electricity.
Investing in renewables is seen as the top priority for maintaining energy security by nearly half the British population – a view reflected across voters of all four major political parties – according to new polling information conducted by ComRes on behalf of RenewableUK. This follows research published last week that found politicians opposing wind development are a turn off for voters.
Global Construction Review: UK carbon capture scheme gets cash boost
A UK carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that would drastically reduce emissions from a coal-fired power plant received a funding boost of €300m from the European Commission this month.
Norwegian officials say they think Islamist terrorists could strike the country within a few days, but they do not know what the plot is.
A ceiling of £200m a year will be placed on subsidies to some of the major forms of renewable energy from this autumn, affecting the funding of large-scale low-carbon installations from wind and solar farms to biomass-burning power plants.
People whose power is cut off for long spells during bad weather will be eligible for much higher compensation payments.
The regulator Ofgem is raising the minimum payment per customer from £27 to £70 for those who go at least 24 hours without power.
The U.K.’s first auction to provide power capacity is unlikely to herald a burst of construction of new gas-fed plants, as expected by the government, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The European Commission approved the U.K. government’s renewable energy contracts and so-called capacity payments, saying the program that benefits power plants complies with state-aid rules.
Centrica: Energy Choices for the UK
Our energy system, which generates electricity, provides heating and fuels our transport and industry, has been one of the most secure and reliable in the world. Greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by over 25% since 1990, and UK household gas and electricity prices are among the lowest in Europe.
North of Scotland consumers will benefit from a deal to spread the subsidy costs of providing electricity to the Shetland Islands across Great Britain, the UK government has said.
Until now, residents in the north of Scotland have footed the entire subsidy bill for Shetland.
“Nuclear power remains, prospectively, one of the cheapest low-carbon technologies and can play an important role as part of a cost-effective portfolio of technologies to decarbonise the power sector.” As the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, this is something you’d expect me to say, but this is the viewpoint of the Committee on Climate Change in its progress report to Parliament earlier this month.
“Burning wood to produce electricity can produce lower carbon emissions than other fuels, but only under tightly controlled conditions, a report for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has found.
Russia has reacted angrily to the EU’s resolution to expand sanctions on Russia following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, describing the measures as “absolutely unacceptable”.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised “reciprocal measures” for the new round of sanctions. But what can Moscow do in response to Western embargoes and financial restrictions?
The Government’s latest proposals to tackle the UK’s catastrophic fuel poverty problem were published with a fanfare today. But critics were quick to accuse the Coalition of “setting meaningless targets” and ignoring the plight of pensioners.
Deutsche Wella: ‘I’m ready to sacrifice my soul for Kirkuk’
As Iraqi Kurds and Peshmerga attempt to consolidate their hold on Kirkuk, they are facing stiff resistence from ISIS fighters. DW spoke to the Iraqi federal police commander of the Kirkuk district about the situation.
Parlaiment.UK: Resilience of electricity infrastructure
The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee has today launched an inquiry into the resilience of the UK’s electricity system, asking how science and technology can help with future needs.
Oil prices above $200 a barrel. Energy shortages in western Europe. The return of recession to the still-fragile global economy. A slump in Russia. That’s the fear haunting policymakers as they contemplate how to respond to the shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine last week.
Herald Scotland: Row over contract to help nuclear firms
FIVE years ago the First Minister branded nuclear power “a busted flush”.
However, Scottish Enterprise, the quango that received £233million in Scottish Government funding in 2012-13, apparently holds a different view to that of its paymasters.
The body is to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds of public cash in a project aimed at helping Scottish firms move into the nuclear power industry.
Green energy subsidies will cost every British household £600 a year by 2020, a leading industry analyst warns in a Civitas paper published today.
The cost to consumers of pursuing EU renewables targets is set to rise above £16 billion per annum, when VAT is taken into account, Dr John Constable writes in Are Green Times Just Around the Corner?
Scotland’s Longannet power station has been named as one of the top 30 polluting power plants in the EU.
Europe’s Dirty 30 report is by WWF, CAN Europe, the European Envionmental Bureau, the Health and Environment Alliance and Climate Alliance Germany.
A senior British minister is once again launched on a long-haul high-carbon mission of shuttle diplomacy in the cause of tackling climate change.
The target is to try to land an international deal on limiting greenhouse gases at what is billed as a major summit in Paris in late 2015.
Sciencedaily: More energy from a liter of biofuel
Oil produced from biomass — such as wood chips or plant residues — seldom has the same quality and energy content as ‘classical’ crude oil. A new, simple catalyst improves the quality of this oil before it is even transported to the refinery.
Technology Review: Thermoelectric Material to Hit Market Later This Year
California-based Alphabet Energy plans to begin selling a new type of material that can turn heat into electricity. Unlike previous thermoelectrics, as such materials are known, it is abundant, cheap, and nontoxic.