Blowout week 36

Fracking in PA; Paul Nurse and Brian Cox dislike scepticism; BP on the rocks; “FREEDOM” for Scotland; Blackouts around the corner; China & India cool on climate talks; North Sea Fracking mad; 15 nukes in Ukraine give NATO headache; Wind records – really?; Floating solar in Japan. 33 stories in total this week from Roger and I.

NY Times: How Much Europe Depends on Russian Energy

Current European Union sanctions ban the sale of certain oil industry technologies to Russia, and European leaders are considering a further round of sanctions. But the situation is complicated by the union’s reliance on imported Russian oil, which has not yet been restricted.

HT Joe Public

Clean Technica: Huge Reversal on Fracking In Pennsylvania

Let’s go out on a limb and say this is not a coincidence: just days after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection disclosed 243 cases of contamination from oil and gas drilling operations, a major drilling company has voluntarily dropped an attempt to force its operations upon unwilling property owners in the Utica shale formation.

Guradian: Brian Cox: scientists giving false sense of debate on climate change

Scientists are doing the public a disservice in their attempts to communicate certainty in climate change science, often giving a “false sense of debate” by being overly precise, says broadcaster and physicist Professor Brian Cox.

Climate scientists are 95% certain that humans are the main cause of the current global warming the world is experiencing. But Cox said this level of accuracy had been manipulated by “nonsensical”, politically-motivated climate sceptics.

Bloomberg: ‘Worst Case’ BP Ruling to Force Billions More in Payouts

BP Plc faces billions more in potential penalties after a judge found it acted with gross negligence in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, putting the bulk of the blame on the company for the explosion that caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Guardian: Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse

The 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would probably collapse some time this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. Back in 2002, self-styled environmental expert Bjorn Lomborg consigned it to the “dustbin of history”.

It doesn’t belong there. Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.

Guardian: Scottish referendum: Shock new poll says Scots set to vote for independence

The people of Scotland are to be offered a historic opportunity to devise a federal future for their country before next year’s general election, it emerged on Saturday night, as a shock new poll gave the campaign for independence a narrow lead for the first time.

Guardian: Fuels rush in as energy blackout threat prompts action from National Grid

One of the new niche areas for investment in the energy sector is – no, not solar arrays, wind farms or anaerobic digestion plants, but diesel generation parks. It is one of the ironies of the current “energy crisis” that it has allowed the return of one of the most carbon-polluting technologies at a time when we are trying to tackle global warming.

Guardian: Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution

Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world’s largest private bank.

Renewable UK: Wind power beats nuclear and coal in record-breaking August

RenewableUK says new data shows that August was an exceptional month for wind energy, with new records set and generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal, according to official National Grid statistics.

UK Parliament: Committee take evidence on electricity demand-side measures

The Energy and Climate Change Committee will take evidence on Electricity demand-side measures on Tuesday 2 September 2014 in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House.

Telegraph: Emergency measures to prevent blackouts this winter as power crunch worsens

Emergency measures to fire up mothballed power stations could be used to keep the lights on this winter, after a series of power plant fires and closures left Britain more vulnerable to blackouts.

New Economics: North Sea Oil and Scottish Independence: where does the truth lie?

Cutting through the increasingly fractious debate on North Sea oil and gas reserves, production and finance.

Roger’s links

Guradian: Sir Paul Nurse criticises those who distort scientific evidence

Britain’s most senior scientist has launched a fierce attack on influential figures who distort scientific evidence to support their own political, religious or ideological agendas.

The president of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, said scientists must challenge serial offenders from all spheres of life who continually misused science to support their preconceived beliefs.

Sky News: National Grid Seeks Extra Winter Electricity

National Grid has brought forward plans to tap additional power capacity over the winter after unexpected plant outages raised the risk of shortages.

It is being described as a precautionary move, supported by Government, to safeguard supply rather than any bid to prevent possible blackouts.

The Diplomat: Top Leaders From China, India to Skip UN Climate Change Summit

Reports indicate that neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plan to attend a U.N. summit of world leaders on climate change. The Climate Summit 2014, to be held on September 23 in New York, was organized by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to galvanize and catalyze climate action.” U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as other leaders from developed nations, are expected to attend, but the absence of leaders from the world’s two largest developing nations has some worried that the summit will fall flat.

Free Beacon: Feds: California Fracking is Safe

Federal regulators say hydraulic fracturing in California poses little environmental or health risk, clearing the way for oil companies to employ the practice in the Golden State.

Guardian: Will banning high-powered kettles and hairdryers help climate change efforts?

The EU’s ban on high-powered appliances has attracted predictably vociferous criticism from Eurosceptics, who have bemoaned “yet another assault on the British way of life” from the bureaucrats in Brussels.

The EU’s Ecodesign for Energy-Using Products and Energy Labelling directives aims to set limits on the wattage of household appliances. Small appliances use a vast amount of electricity worldwide. The rules intend to reduce EU electricity consumption by 19 terrawatt hours by 2020 and to inspire designers to build more energy efficient, yet still effective, devices.

i09: Study: 99.999% Certainty Humans Are Contributing To Global Warming

There is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperature over the past 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, new research shows.

WND: Did Jesus Really Die?

As the United Nations prepares for its 2014 Climate Summit in New York this month with an agenda to advance a new carbon-emissions regulatory agreement to supersede the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Russian scientist who correctly predicted the lack of global warming over the past 19 years has gained new scientific support for his belief that Earth is in the beginning of a prolonged ice age.

NY Times: BP May Be Fined Up to $18 Billion for Spill in Gulf

In the four years since the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and sent millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has spent more than $28 billion on damage claims and cleanup costs, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and emerged a shrunken giant.

IB Times: BP: ‘Business As Usual’ For Offshore Oil Plans Despite Ruling That Company Was ‘Grossly Negligent’ In Deepwater Horizon Explosion

British energy giant BP PLC (NYSE:BP) won’t curb its plans to drill for offshore oil, even after a U.S. judge found it was “grossly negligent” in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, the company’s technology chief says. The ruling on Thursday could put BP on the line for up to $18 billion in new civil penalties for its role in the biggest offshore oil spill in American history.

Telegraph: Scottish independence: Yes camp closes the poll gap

Support for Scottish independence has risen eight points in a month, according to a new poll.
The No camp are now six points ahead of the Yes campaign, down from 14 points in mid-August and 22 points early last month, excluding undecided voters.
The latest YouGov poll found that, excluding ”don’t knows”, 53% of those questioned planned to vote No, while 47% would back Yes.

Fuel Fix: Shell announces Utica gas discovery

Shell Oil announced two successful new discovery wells in the northern, central part of Pennsylvania Wednesday, a find that may suggest the sweet spot of the Utica formation extends farther east than previously thought.

IB Times: Oil And Gas Discoveries Near Africa’s East Coast To Soon Drive Billions In Investments: PWC

Global oil and gas firms are turning their attention to Africa’s east coast, a region long overshadowed by production on the continent’s northern and western fields. New discoveries in emerging zones are expected to drive billions of dollars in annual investments in coming years as the world seeks to tap more fossil fuels, a new report says.

Herald Scotland: Experts propose North Sea fracking

Underwater fracking could almost double the amount of recoverable oil and gas in the North Sea, according to oil experts.

The technique could “propel Scotland towards the top of the global league table in terms of oil and gas production”, Scottish business body N56 said.

The Carbon Brief: Why undersea fracking is unlikely to give Scotland a £600 billion windfall

As Scotland prepares to decide whether to vote ‘yes’ for independence, the North Sea oil and gas industry’s economic prospects have become something of a political football.

Today, a new report backed by the ‘Yes’ campaign claims the industry’s taxes could be worth over £600 billion. But other experts have been quick to cast doubt on the findings.

Guardian: Two nuclear power stations could be out of action until December, says EDF

Two nuclear stations that play a vital role helping to keep Britain’s already fragile electricity system intact could be out of action till the end of the year, EDF Energy said on Thursday.

The ongoing problems at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool reactors, taken offline last month, forced Centrica, a 20% owner of the atomic fleet with EDF, to issue a profit warning.

Washington Post: A worrying factor in Ukraine’s chaos: 15 nuclear reactors

As Ukraine looks like a country teetering on the edge of war, there’s an important factor to keep an eye on: The country’s 15 nuclear reactors.

“There haven’t been many conflicts in states with nuclear power facilities in the past, so we’re really entering unknown territory here,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia Program. NATO has already shown its concern, sending a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine in April to advise the government on the safety of its infrastructure.

Climate Progress: Coal Plant Gets EPA’s First-Ever Approval To Inject Carbon Emissions Underground

The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time on Tuesday issued permits to allow a coal-fired power plant to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and inject them deep underground, a process that many hope could help control climate change if it is ultimately successful.

Mining Global: Rio Tinto to Slash Jobs at Australian Coal Mine

UK mining giant Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO) (NYSE:RIO) has revealed plans to cut 100 jobs from its Kestrel coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

According to Rio, the job cuts are part of the company’s continuous strategy to restructure its coal portfolio to remain competitive in Australia’s declining coal industry.

WSJ: Denmark’s Wind Power Output Rises to Record in First Half

Wind power provided a record 41.2% of Denmark’s electricity consumption in the first half of 2014, power grid operator said in its half-year report published Tuesday.

“This is a record,” said “The high share is partly due to more wind than usual, and partly due to a 650-megawatt growth in wind power capacity in 2013.”

Wind energy accounted for 33.2% of the country’s energy…

Moscow Times: Russia’s Largest Solar Power Plant Opens in Siberia

A solar power station opened Thursday in Siberia’s Altai republic has become the biggest facility of its kind in Russia.

The Kosh-Agachskaya plant, which has a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW), will be the first of five solar power facilities to open in the region by 2019, the Kremlin said in an online statement.

Science Alert: Japan is planning to build huge floating solar power plants

Japan may be short on free land space, but that’s not stopping them from investing in renewable energy. Solar panel company Kyocera Corp, Century Tokyo Leasing Corp and Ciel Terre have announced (release in Japanese) that they’re teaming up to create two huge floating solar power plants which will be up and running by April next year.
These are just the first two of a planned network of around 30 floating 2 megawatt (MW) power plants, capable of generating a combined 60 MW of power, a spokesperson from Kyocera told Chisaki Watanabe from Bloomberg.

Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time has his usual round up of stories from Russia-Ukraine and MENA plus lots more this week, especially news of pending blackouts from around the World.

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12 Responses to Blowout week 36

  1. The Telegraph has this interesting graphic on the imminent UK electricity shortage:

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I see Barking may get paid to not close (Barking Mad?). Companies are to be paid for not using electricity. Wind generators get paid for not producing electricity when its windy. Welcome to the Green utopia of demand management. Loads of cash being transferred from consumers to large companies. Absolutely zero stuff being produced. Cameron really needs to get a grip.

      Its also worth noting that the closed nuclear plants are shut because of issues on the generating plant and not the nuclear reactor side of the plant. So it is not nuclear safety risk.

      • Sam Taylor says:

        Earlier in my career I spent 6 happy months working night shifts poking cameras around the Hartlepool and Heysham boilers when, due to an utterly insignificant wire corroding (which had been anticipated in the design but not the safety case), they were both shut for the best part of a year. Halcyon days. I was in Hartlepool when the missing canoeist story broke, the only exciting thing that happened.

        Suffice to say I have my doubts as to how much longer those rusting hulks can be kept running for. The boilers really are not in good nick at all, and seem to be causing repeated downtime. My understanding is that the boilers were originally designed to be replaced, but that’s pretty much thought to be an impossibility now, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can fix it.

  2. A C Osborn says:

    “RenewableUK says new data shows that August was an exceptional month for wind energy, with new records set and generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal, according to official National Grid statistics.”

    Euan, have you actually checked the National Grid?
    For 4 days Wind exceeded Coal and not one day exceeded Nuclear, for the month it looks like Wind averaged about 2.5Gw. Coal had been dropped from 15Gw earlier in the year to about 6Gw in favour of Gas, Nuclear was about 6Gw.
    How do they get away with such out & out Propaganda Exageration?

    “The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time on Tuesday issued permits to allow a coal-fired power plant to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and inject them deep underground, a process that many hope could help control climate change if it is ultimately successful.”

    How to turn a completely Harmless Gas into a surefire Killer if they get any leaks.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      How do they get away with such out & out Propaganda Exaggeration?

      There are several stories this week I’d like to have a go at. But it all takes time. With coal and nuclear production both down for different reasons this is pure cherry picking propaganda.

    • Luís says:

      You haven’t read the article, the details are all there.

  3. Hugh Sharman says:

    By “Guradian” I suppose you are referring to that well-known, left-wing organ often called “The Grauniad” (reference Brian Cox and scepticism)

  4. Luís says:

    Hi Euan, perhaps you have already written about it and I missed, but it would be interesting to know the balance of the Scottish grid/electric park in case the independence vote wins. Scotland is a net supplier to England, right? Is this the case the whole year? Would independence leave England/Wales in a worse place compared to now?

    P.S.: a lot of strange optimism on electric cars – this is likely the next thing to be forbidden or restricted by law.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      On the energy security side, the main thing lost by FUK (former UK) is the oil and gas. This would leave the trade balance of FUK in even worse state than now. Scotland has growing renewable electricity production that I dealt with in this post:

      Scotch on the ROCs

      I’m pretty sure I got the wind surplus correct in this post but I’m unsure of what will happen with the subsidies. Will England pay subsidies to renewables producers based in Scotland?

      • Luís says:

        I would expect those subsidies to be FUKed. But the FUK might be interested in acquiring surplus “green” electricity from Scotland at flat rates; it will still have targets to meet.

  5. Mads Frederik Hovmand says:

    Wind power provided a record 41.2% of Denmark’s electricity consumption in the first half of 2014, power grid operator said in its half-year report published Tuesday.
    (Reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal)

    But !!

    This is simply not true.
    It is a falsification, and it is likely that Danish knows it.
    Wind turbines produced in the first half of 2014 what is equal to 41,2 % of the electricity consumed in Denmark.
    But ¼ of the wind powered electricity was exported, so wind power in reality covered close to 31 % of consumed electricity.
    After all 31 % wind power is a high wind energy contribution, only achieved by forcing a close down of power plants and raising the import of electricity from neighboring countries. The electricity is imported to a price 44% higher than the exported.
    15 % of electricity consumed in the first half of 2014 was imported. In the coming years more import is needed to counterbalance the growth in unstable wind power.
    A political self-delusion costing the country billions of kroner.

    M.F. Hovmand
    Senior Scientist
    University of Copenhagen

    • But ¼ of the wind powered electricity was exported, so wind power in reality covered close to 31 % of consumed electricity.

      The electricity is imported to a price 44% higher than the exported.

      That sounds like useful information. Could you provide the source please? .

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