By Roger Andrews:
A non-bumper Blowout Week during Euan’s absence. Twenty or so more stories below the fold:
Energy Live News: Ferrybridge fire cuts UK backup capacity
In a sign of how serious the damage may be, the energy company doesn’t expect unit 4 (500Mw) to return to service this financial year, suggesting it will need months of repair work. Unit 3 (also 500MW) could be back at work before 1 November. SSE said it will investigate the full extent of damage in due course.
Hugh Sharman, a British engineering consultant, was commissioned to work on a government-sanctioned report examining how UK authorities could sustain the nation’s energy demands in an era of mandatory renewable energy use. Tendered to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last year, the research went unpublished. Sharman claims the report revealed that Britain’s aging gas-powered stations are simply incapable of speedily “balancing” the state’s supply of electricity when wind levels are low.
A DECC spokesperson assured, “The lights will not go out. There are many ways we balance the grid, by sending excess energy abroad through undersea cables for example and by increasing supply and reducing demand if and when needed.” (As to) why the government-commissioned report went unpublished, despite the fact it consisted of content that broached a matter of public importance. “The final report was not delivered until November 2013, and was not published because it was no longer relevant,” the DECC spokesperson claimed.
Sunday Times: Fast-track fracking licenses vital to protect Britain
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Matthew Hancock said the government would make it “much quicker” for companies to get approval to drill for shale gas. At present firms that want to frack have to wait about six months for permission through a 15-stage process. Hancock hopes to slash that in half.
Physics World: Solar flare could be “devastating”
One particularly strong solar super-storm occurred back in 1859 in what is known as the “Carrington event”, so named after the English astronomer who spotted a solar flare that accompanied it. The world in the mid-19th century was technologically a relatively unsophisticated place and the consequences were pretty benign. But should a storm of similar strength occur today, the impact could be devastating to our way of life. I don’t want to cause alarm, but … the Earth is, on average, in the path of Carrington-level events every 150 years – which means we are five years overdue.
once we price bad things right, we will not need to worry so much about subsidizing good things—like renewable energy.
Climate Etc: Bjorn Lomborg testifies before the US Senate
Global warming is real, but a problem, not the end of the world. Claims of “catastrophic” costs are ill founded. Inaction has costs, but so does action. It is likely that climate action will lead to higher total costs in this century. Climate action through increased energy costs will likely harm the poor the most, both in rich and poor countries. Because there is no good, cheap green energy, the almost universal political choices have been expensive policies that do very little.
SMA Solar , Germany’s biggest solar company by revenue, said it will cut 12 percent of its workforce after competition from Asia and a decline in Europe’s solar sector forced it to lower its outlook for sales and profit. The company has been badly hit by falling solar power subsidies in Europe, most notably in its home market Germany, where the company makes about 28 percent of its sales.
A new “poll of polls” says 57% of Scots are likely to vote No with 43% backing a Yes vote, the research for the Independent suggests. It is based on the last six opinion polls and excludes `don’t knows’ and has been calculated by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University.
Telegraph: UK renewables set generation record in 2013:
The UK generated almost 15 per cent of its power from renewable sources in 2013, an increase of almost one third from 11.3 per cent in 2012, according to Government statistics.
A dozen states led by West Virginia sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block a proposed rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The states said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibits the EPA from issuing power-plant rules under one section of the Clean Air Act, known as 111(d), when it has already regulated them under a separate section. The agency previously used the act to regulate hazardous air pollutants in 2012, according to the filing.
International Business Times: Libyan oil production recovering, Iraq fears fading:
Oil prices ended lower for the week on the prospect of a revival in Libyan crude exports and as the threat of Iraqi supply disruptions receded.
The Russian authorities have introduced a sweeping ban on imports of fruit and vegetables from Poland, depriving it of a major export market. Russia’s food hygiene authorities said the imports had unacceptable levels of pesticide residues and nitrates. They earn Poland more than 1bn euros (£795m; $1.3bn) annually. Russia is Poland’s biggest market for apples. The move follows EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Poland has condemned Russian actions there.
ekathimerini.com: And Greece is getting nervous:
The Panhellenic Exporters Federation (PSE) has warned the European Commission against the impact of European sanctions against Russia on Greece’s exports. In a letter sent to Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso, PSE chief Christina Sakellaridi called for a political solution that will take into account the interests of the debt-hit country’s exporters.
New Western sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, depriving Russian industry of crucial equipment, threaten to disrupt one of the few growth markets for Europe’s defense and high-tech manufacturing companies.
Oil & Gas Journal: Offshore Gabon gas discovery:
Italy’s Eni SPA has made a natural gas and condensate discovery in the Nyonie Deep exploration prospect on Block D4 about 13 km offshore Gabon, 50 km from the capital city of Libreville. Preliminary estimates suggest the gas find is “significant,” Eni said, with initial potential in place estimated at 500 million boe.
China has concluded drilling in disputed waters near Vietnam with an announcement that it has discovered signs of oil and gas, which should help tensions with its neighbour to recede in the near-term, ahead of an Asian security meeting next month.
Traditional winemaking strongholds like Tuscany and South Africa will soon become too hot for grape-growing. Does that mean a “grape-ocalypse” is upon us? No. But it does mean the wine you sip a decade or two from now will taste very different from today’s tipple—and will be a lot pricier, too. It’s also been responsible for the shift toward bolder-tasting wines that pack a boozier wallop. As grapevines photosynthesize, they create the sugars, which in the fermentation stage, are what yeast converts into alcohol. Thanks to extra sunshine, some Bordeauxs now contain around 16% alcohol, compared with 12.5% in the early 1980s Zinfandels, meanwhile, have gotten around 30% more alcoholic since 1990.
The budget for FCO’s climate change and energy department, special representative for climate change and overseas missions was hacked by 39%, from £7.5m in 2011-12 to £4.5 million in 2013-14. This reduces the UK’s capacity to influence other countries’ positions on climate action in the run-up to the global deal expected in 2015.
Baghdad wants to settle a high-stakes dispute over $100 million worth of Kurdish crude oil in Iraq’s courts, although the oil is sitting in a tanker off the coast of Texas, a U.S. court filing said on Friday.
UK Met Office: Met office climate model updated:
our Dynamics Research team and Professor John Thuburn from the University of Exeter developed “ENDGame”‘ (Even Newer Dynamics for General atmospheric modelling of the environment). This development took nearly 10 years and in the past two years staff from across the Met Office have tested and evaluated its impact and prepared our operational systems for its implementation. ENDGame is now being used for global weather and climate prediction work and we will move our regional and seasonal prediction systems to use ENDGame over the next year. In a sense ENDGame finishes the work that New Dynamics started, but the development of our dynamical cores doesn’t end here. Research has already started on the next-generation dynamical core (named GungHo) which we expect to replace ENDGame in about 10 years.
Steven Goddard:CO2 to make 2015 the largest year ever:
As CO2 increases, the date also advances. Experts believe that increases in CO2 will force next year to be the largest year ever – beating the old record (2014) by 0.05%..