Blowout week 38

With the dust settled on the independence debate and a decisive win for Better Together, this edition of blowout comes from the still United Kingdom. 22 stories in all, about half of those from Roger.

Engineering and Technology: “UK oil and gas: Squeezing the last drop

Despite the UK’s ambitious plans for a sustainable low-carbon economy, with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2050, oil and gas are set to remain a crucial medium-term component of the energy mix.

RATS (rope access technicians) on a North Sea rig keeping the UK’s oil supplies flowing.

UoGlasgow: Hydrogen production breakthrough could herald cheap green energy

Scientists have taken a major step forward in the production of hydrogen from water which could lead to a new era of cheap, clean and renewable energy.

Catalysis speeds reaction but does not I believe change the energetics of reaction.

Princeton: Scotland’s Sobering Oil Future

Much has been written and promised about the benefits of North Sea oil to an independent Scotland. The reality is that North Sea oil production is in dramatic decline and the deepwater services business is peaking. Thus, oil is a declining benefit to Scotland, and Aberdeen is about to become a liability.

Future Tense: Global Oceans Break All-Time Heat Record; World on Pace for Warmest Year Ever

The Earth’s oceans have never been this far beyond the bounds of normal.

New data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that Earth’s oceans reached a level last month not seen since humans have been keeping comprehensive records. Global ocean temperatures in August 2014 warmed to “the largest departure from average for any month on record” according to a NOAA statement. The previous record was set just two months ago, in June 2014.

IEEE Spectrum: Someday” is Now for Solar and Wind Power, says Lazard

Large wind and solar power farms have the economics to go toe-to-toe with the cheapest fossil fuel-based power supplies in the United States according to the venerable financial advisory firm Lazard Ltd. Thanks to falling costs and rising efficiency, reports Lazard in an analysis released this week, utility-scale installations of solar panels and wind turbines now produce power at a cost that’s competitive with natural gas and coal-fired generating stations—even without subsidies.

Telegraph: Scottish ‘no’ vote: what next for the energy sector?

From North Sea oil giants to wind farm developers, companies across the energy sector have expressed their relief at the “no” vote.
Nuclear energy, oil, coal, gas and electricity are all currently matters reserved to the United Kingdom. Independence would have heralded a major period of uncertainty as policies underpinning entire industries faced being redrawn.

Telegraph: EDF Energy boss warns over Scottish independence risks

EDF Energy has warned that Scottish independence would herald massive uncertainty for the energy sector, accusing Alex Salmond of failing to answer a series of fundamental questions over issues such as nuclear waste.

Guardian: Antarctic sea ice set for record high as Arctic heads for sixth lowest extent

The extent of sea ice in Antarctica is set to reach a record high, scientists said on Tuesday, as they announced that Arctic sea ice appeared to have shrunk to its sixth lowest level ever.


Germany’s flagship Bard 1 offshore wind farm has been described as “a faulty total system” as technical problems continue to plague the project, casting major doubts on the feasibility of large scale offshore projects.

Utility Week: Government approves 470MW gas-fired power plant

The UK government on Friday approved plans from developer CGen to build a new 470MW gas-fired power plant near North Killingholme, north Lincolnshire.

Telegraph: Scottish independence would ‘slam brakes’ on Alex Salmond’s wind farm plans

A “yes” vote for Scottish independence will “slam the brakes” on investment in wind farms north of the border, leaving Alex Salmond’s green energy ambitions in tatters, experts have warned.

Telegraph: Friends of the Earth’s shift on nuclear should be celebrated, not denied

Nuclear power in the UK has turned out much safer than environmentalists worried it would be.

Friends of the Earth, which feared the threat of a catastrophic Chernobyl-style meltdown in the UK, is now less concerned. Fear of nuclear armageddon was a driving force for the green movement in the UK – Greenpeace has its name for a reason.

Reuters: With oil under $100, China trader books world’s largest ship to store crude

A Chinese trading firm has booked the world’s largest super-tanker to store crude at sea, adding to a growing flotilla of vessels used for floating storage as benchmark oil prices slip below $100 a barrel.

Roger’s links:

WUWT: Antarctic Sea Ice Extent sets new record, pierces 20 million square kilometer barrier

Sunshinehours reports that the Antarctic Sea Ice Extent for September 19th, 2014 is 20.11297 million square kilometers,
which is 1,535,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 climatological mean.

Another 58,000 sq km. was added since yesterday, making it the 7th All-Time Record in 7 Days.

UC Davis: Global shift to mass transit could save more than $100 trillion and 1,700 megatons of CO2

More than $100 trillion in public and private spending could be saved between now and 2050 if the world expands public transportation, walking and cycling in cities, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Additionally, reductions in carbon dioxide emissions reaching 1,700 megatons per year in 2050 could be achieved if this shift occurs.

Washington Examiner: Group tells IRS Sierra Club evading taxes, colludes with commercial firms

Sierra Club officials pay no taxes on income the environmental nonprofit generates from solar panel sales by its commercial partners.

At the same time, the Sierra Club Foundation functions in a manner that illegally benefits private commercial interests, including some of the nation’s largest energy firms.

Washington Examiner: Another benefit of climate change and increased CO2 – trees continue to grow at a faster rate

Now there is even more evidence. From From Technische Universität München: Study highlights forest growth trends from 1870 to the present- Global change: Trees continue to grow at a faster rate

“…scientists are putting the growth acceleration down to rising temperatures and the extended growing season. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen are other factors contributing to the faster growth.”

Christian Science Monitor: People’s Climate March aims to be biggest rally yet on global warming

NEW YORK — More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the People’s Climate March in New York this weekend, a parade and protest that organizers hope will be the largest global rally yet to urge world leaders to act against climate change.

National Geogrpahic: As World’s Population Booms, Will Its Resources Be Enough for Us?

There are more than 7 billion people on Earth now, and roughly one in eight of us doesn’t have enough to eat. The question of how many people the Earth can support is a long-standing one that becomes more intense as the world’s population—and our use of natural resources—keeps booming.

9 News: USGS: Oil, gas at fault for Colo. earthquake

When a 5.3 magnitude earthquake rattled Southern Colorado three years ago near Trinidad, scientists wondered what could have caused it. This week, they got their answer.

The U.S. Geological Survey says humans are to blame. More specifically: waste-water injections done by the oil and gas industry.

Daily Mail: Contaminated water was NOT caused by fracking: Study finds leaky wells are to blame for tainted supplies

Despite previous claims, contaminated groundwater found in areas of Pennsylvania and Texas was not caused by controversial fracking drills.
Instead, the tainted water supplies are being blamed on problems in pipes and seals in nearby natural gas wells.
Experts focused on eight hydraulically fractured wells in both states, and used chemical analysis to determine when in the process of gas extraction methane leaked into groundwater.

Guardian: China’s ban on ‘dirty’ coal could cost Australian mining almost $1.5bn

China’s ban on “dirty” coal could cost Australia’s mining industry almost $1.5bn and force companies to find other markets or face prohibitively high processing costs, according to a leading resources economist.

Under new Chinese regulations, the use of coal with ash content higher than 16% and sulphur content above 1% will be restricted in the main population centres of the country from 1 January, 2015.

Bloomberg: Nuclear Power-less Japan Must Pay for Fuel Imports in Weak Yen

Few are as eager as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to see Japan’s idled nuclear reactors brought back into operation. Since the country flicked off the switch to its nuclear energy program a little more than a year ago, expensive energy imports, particularly of liquefied natural gas (LNG), have worsened trade deficits. That’s placed an extra burden on an economy that contracted at an annualized rate of 7.1 percent in the second quarter, its worst showing since 2009.

Scientific American: Used Batteries Might Help California Store Renewable Energy

Used batteries from plug-in electric vehicles could help California meet its goals for energy storage, a report from the University of California, Los Angeles, and UC Berkeley law schools said.

RT: Germany opens first renewable energy storage facility

Germany has launched what it claims is Europe’s first and largest commercial battery plant, which will help to store renewable power sources. Such sources can prove erratic, as they are dependent on the elements, such as wind and the sun.

The new plant, opened by Wemag AG, will be able to store five megawatts –enough to power roughly 2,500 homes. With Germany committed to going green, one of the country’s biggest problems had been where to store excess energy. The country currently produces around 25 percent of its energy from green sources.

Note that electrical capacity is normally measured in MWh

WUWT: Royal Society In Trouble Over False Extinction Claim Paper

Obama’s Former Science Official: ‘Climate Science Is Not Settled’

It was presented as shocking evidence of the damage being done by climate change: a species driven to extinction because of a decline in rainfall in its only habitat. Now the “rediscovery” of a species of snail is prompting questions about the role played by the Royal Society, Britain’s most prestigious scientific institution, in raising false alarm over an impact of climate change. –Ben Webster, The Times, 20 September 2014

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15 Responses to Blowout week 38

  1. Mark Miller says:

    Roger and Euan,

    Thanks for this weeks update(s). The University of Glasgow item:
    “Scientists have taken a major step forward in the production of hydrogen from water which could lead to a new era of cheap, clean and renewable energy. ”

    Was of interest to me as my Dad used to be involved in developing catalysts for SOHIO/BP.

    It looks like the “energetics” are effected per a few of these posts:
    “The new method allows larger-than-ever quantities of hydrogen to be produced at atmospheric pressure using lower power loads….
    The research team was led by Professor Lee Cronin of the University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry. Professor Cronin said: “The process uses a liquid that allows the hydrogen to be locked up in a liquid-based inorganic fuel. By using a liquid sponge known as a redox mediator that can soak up electrons and acid we’ve been able to create a system where hydrogen can be produced in a separate chamber without any additional energy input after the electrolysis of water takes place.
    “The link between the rate of water oxidation and hydrogen production has been overcome….”


    4) ://
    “Editors summary:
    Scheduling hydrogen release from water….”
    …. Rausch et al. present a scheme that captures the protons and electrons in a molecular cluster of silico-tungstic acid. Later, they expose the cluster to platinum, coaxing the acid into releasing hydrogen. Eliminating the mixing risk increases the potential for household use.”

    The paper above may be leveraging the knowledge generated/developed in this post:

  2. Euan Mearns says:

    Mark, My non-expert view on this topic is that the UoGlasgow paper I linked to is junk. Three out of 5 of the links you provide are to the same paper or derivatives of it.

    You need to be aware that the links I publish here are what land in my mail box. I don’t edit them in the interest of objectivity. But 50% or more are normally junk. Especially the ones in the Guardian. It’s up to the readers and comments to distill the single malt from the corn whiskey. I would have to spend two weeks for every one I Iive explaining why many of these articles I Iink to are junk. A major part of the problem is that science is currently broken.

    If your dad worked for SOHIO (Standard oil of Ohio) then he was probably working in refining where catalysis is used to speed processes. BP more recently had a world beating hydrogen team that I have had extensive contact with, but they were looking mainly at getting H from methane in order to use the consequent CO2 to enhance oil recovery. Imminently sensible and therefore rejected by politicians.

    • Luís says:

      Most of these articles/press-releases/news on fabulous lab discoveries are bogus, or reporting to results that are far from maturity. You have to understand them in the context of countries where research is largely financed by private sources. Researchers must be able to lure investors to pour money into projects/ideas that are not yet viable or commercial, and might never be.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Its a major problem Luis when Universities need to hype their work in this way. It may be that the group in Glasgow have made some significant developments. But touting this as a solution to renewable energy storage stinks. I can’t recall who posted the link originally but then this was touted as a 99% drop in cost of electrolysing water which I believe would likely mean that the laws of thermodynamics were broken.

    • Mark Miller says:

      Morning Euan,

      Dad’s 30+ year affiliation with SOHIO/BP were mostly working in the Cleveland and Warrensville Heights R&D labs. I used to feed the ducks at the labs. It was the highlight of my visits for many years.

      Dad spent years (decades really) working on the development and commercialization of SOHIO’s
      Acrylonitrile process. He used to spend weeks at a time at the Lima, Ohio facility trying to get the newer methods to work at scale.

      The big news in my area of California is the King Fire. If charcoal was still needed as a fuel source I would only need to travel a few miles to obtain a LOT of it. I hope PG&E and SMUD don’t end up with too much silt in their reservoirs as a result of all the particulate run off that is bound to occur as a result of the fire.

  3. philipdaniels818151638 says:

    China’s per capita carbon emissions overtake EU’s

    And China now produces 29% of the world’s CO2, more than the US and the EU combined.

  4. Sam Taylor says:


    Is princeton energy Steve Kopits’ new company?

  5. Willem Post says:


    East Ukrainians voting to be separate from Kiev’s disastrous economic management of the past 20 plus years are called terrorists by Kiev. I am glad to see Britain dis not do call the Scots terrorists.

    The people of Russian-speaking Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk, Donesk, etc., have just as much right to determine their future, as did the US people during the 1776 revolution, and as did the people of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

    For the US, EU, etc., to brand these people as terrorists and their referenda as illegal, etc., is meddling, applying a double standard, and being inconsistent and irrational, or are there OTHER motives, such as geo-political ones?

    Recent Examples of Self-Determination in Europe:

    1) Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia; two successful, independent states.
    2) Yugoslavia became Croatia, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo; seven successful, independent states.
    3) The Scottish people held an independence referendum and no one is pointing guns at them, or calling them terrorists!!!
    4) The Catalan people will hold a self-determination referendum and no one is pointing guns at them, or calling them terrorists!!!

  6. Willem Post says:

    Here is an other offshore wind farm disaster. It will be dismantled after 13 years.

  7. Syndroma says:

    Russia and South Africa signed the agreement on strategic partnership in nuclear energy. The Agreement lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plant (NPP) procurement and development programme of South Africa based on the construction in RSA of new nuclear power plants with Russian VVER reactors with total installed capacity of up to 9,6 GW (up to 8 NPP units).

    8 reactors. Impressive plans.

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