Blowout week 40

I lead off this week with the exciting story of the world’s first large scale commercial CCS project in Canada. Published on a Norwegian website the author observes that the project went from conception to completion in only 5 years and that there are lessons to be learned. It’s not that hard to work out. The Boundary Dam project is linked to CO2 enhanced oil recovery which will make the owners money. In Europe, bonkers Green energy policies dictate that CO2 captured at power stations should simply be thrown away. It’s not rocket science to understand the difference between sensible and bonkers energy policies. 29 stories in all this week in a bumper issue of blowout.

Zero CO2: Boundary Dam integrated CCS project – counting down to the grand opening October 2, 2014

This is the first commercial-scale project in the world combining post-combustion CCS with coal-fired power generation.

Incredibly, this Canadian project will have gone from concept stage to start-up in just five years. With other CCS projects in Norway and elsewhere either cancelled or still on the starting blocks, there is clearly much to learn from SaskPower’s project.

Telegraph: Eight big new gas power plants vie for consumer subsidies

At least eight proposed big gas-fired power plants are vying to win subsidies that would see them built and generating electricity by 2018, ministers have announced.
How many of them – if any – are built will depend on the outcome of a reverse auction to be held later this year, as part of a new Government scheme designed to keep the lights on.

EU: CEER Position on the European Commission Communication: European Energy Security Strategy [COM(2014)330]

In response to the political crisis in Ukraine and in view of the overall importance of a stable and abundant supply of energy for the EU’s citizens and economy, the European Commission adopted an EU Energy Security Strategy (EESS) on 28 May 2014 (including an in-depth study of Member States’ energy dependence)1.

BBC: Longannet plant: Scottish Power issues warning over future

Scotland’s largest power station may be forced to close due to the huge sums its operator must pay to connect to the National Grid, the BBC has learned.

Rig Zone: Oil Traders Say OPEC May Be Heading For Price War

Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash the official selling price for its oil has sparked trader talk of an emerging OPEC price cutting war, as members of the producer group could compete to defend their market share amid ample supplies and tepid demand.

Nuclear Street: Reactors at Risk of Closure Add $3.8 Billion to Illinois Economy

A study by the Nuclear Energy Institute has tallied up the economic impact of Exelon’s nuclear plants in Illinois as the utility threatens to close several unprofitable reactors unless changes are made to the state’s energy market.

UK Gov: £300 million budget to launch UK auctions for renewables

Renewable electricity projects will compete for £300 million in support this autumn – an increase of £95 million from the indicative budget published in July, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey announced today.

The funding for Contracts for Difference, which provide long-term certainty for investors, are a cornerstone of the Government’s reforms to the electricity markets, designed to drive investment in a new generation of clean, secure electricity supplies.

UK Gov: Fossil fuel price projections: 2014

Guardian: UK renewable energy subsidy changes anger solar industry

The government on Thursday outlined plans to provide £300m worth of support subsidies to the renewable power industry this autumn but has angered the solar industry and been accused of not providing value for money.

Telegraph: Living close to wind farms could cause hearing damage

Living close to wind farms may lead to severe hearing damage or even deafness, according to new research which warns of the possible danger posed by low frequency noise.
The physical composition of inner ear was “drastically” altered following exposure to low frequency noise, like that emitted by wind turbines, a study has found.

World Nuclear: Sweden faces future without nuclear

Sweden may be facing the phase out of nuclear power following agreement by the country’s Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the Green Party, to set up an energy commission tasked with achieving a 100% renewable electricity system.

NEO: China and Russia in New Strategic Energy Deals

Only weeks after Russia’s Putin and China’s President Xi signed what was called the “energy deal of the century,” a $400 billion eastern gas and pipeline project over 30 years from Russia to China, the two countries have followed with a dazzling array of major new energy agreements from gas to oil to coal. Taken as a totality it amounts to a major strategic and geopolitical shift in relations between the two
giant nations of Eurasia that will have implications for the future of Europe as well as the United States.

BBC: Rosneft and Exxon discover Arctic oil

Russian energy giant Rosneft says it has discovered oil with its US project partner Exxon Mobil at a controversial well in the Arctic.

Drilling was completed in record time, it said, but questions remain about how quickly the well can be developed.

Exxon has said it will “wind down” the project following US sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

Interfax: Japanese companies band together to test methane hydrates

A group of 11 Japanese companies have formed a joint venture to conduct production tests of offshore methane hydrates – an unconventional resource seen as a potential game changer for the world’s largest LNG importer.

Aljazeera: Germany’s energy model can save the world

The People’s Climate March and the United Nations Climate Summit that took place last week in New York City have, hopefully, focused Americans’ attention on global warming, at long last. If the United States is now actively looking around for best-practice policies, one place to start is Germany’s Energiewende, or clean energy transition, which has turned nearly one-third of the country’s electricity production green in just over 10 years. Some projections have Germany running solely on renewables by 2050.

Roger’s links:

Parliament: Commons Public Accounts Committee slams DECC

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said: “By awarding contracts worth up to £16.6 billion to eight renewable electricity generation projects without price competition, the Department of Energy and Climate Change failed to adequately secure best value for consumers. Yet again the consumer has been left to pick up the bill for poorly conceived and managed contracts.”

FT: Government by announcement undermines UK energy policy

Government by announcement is now characteristic of British politics. The goal is to make statements that will receive favourable media coverage. There is little perception of any need to follow up on these announcements, or consideration of how they might interact with other similar announcements, and no concern for the effects of the uncertainty these initiatives create for people engaged in real business …. nowhere has the approach been more damaging than in energy policy. The government has three laudable objectives – low energy bills, supply security, and decarbonisation. There are difficult trade-offs to be made, since these goals are not compatible. In the meantime, none of these goals is being achieved. But we are assured that all will be.

Telegraph: North Sea needs £1 trillion to tap remaining oil and gas

Over £1 trillion of investment will be required to recover all of the remaining oil and gas that is thought to exist offshore in British waters, according to the latest industry report from Oil & Gas UK. Unless more incentives are provided for drillers to work in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and offset the increase in costs of operating there then the UK will struggle to recover the 20bn barrels of oil equivalent (boe), or above, that are thought to remain offshore, warned Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK.

Telegraph: Scotland power shortage warning as coal plant faces closure

Scottish households could face dimmed lights and flickering TV sets in three years’ time because UK authorities are putting Scotland’s last coal-fired power plant at risk of closure, ScottishPower has warned. The company’s Longannet power station provides electricity for 2m homes and plays a crucial role in balancing electricity supply and demand to prevent shortages in Scotland. But rising green taxes and high network charges set by regulator Ofgem could make it unprofitable by winter 2016-17 and could force its closure, ScottishPower warned on Friday.

FT: Tougher terms planned for Hinkley Point nuclear power plant

Tougher profit clawback clauses are to be added to Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant contract, as ministers try to convince Brussels to approve Europe’s biggest state-backed infrastructure project. A draft European Commission decision, seen by the Financial Times, backs the UK government’s support for the project subject to provisions giving taxpayers a bigger slice of the upside from Hinkley Point over its full lifespan of more than 60 years. The leaked terms are more stringent than originally envisaged by the UK and French utility EDF, which owns the site and the existing Hinkley Point reactors, but will disappoint critics who fear that billions will be wasted on subsidising a wave of new nuclear plants across Europe. Greenpeace, the campaigning environmental group, described the Hinkley Point project as “the heist of the century”.

UK Govt: New scientific advisor for DECC

Professor John Loughhead OBE FREng FTSE has been appointed DECC’s Chief Scientific Advisor, it has been announced today. Professor Loughhead is currently Executive Director at UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and will bring his extensive experience in energy industrial research to make sure the best science and engineering advice underpins Government energy and climate change policy. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “We are very fortunate to have Professor Loughhead join DECC as we deliver the greatest reform of the electricity market in a generation.”

The Wire: Ukraine Braces for a Winter Without Russian Gas

Days after an EU-brokered deal was set to give Ukrainians access to Russian gas for the winter, Ukraine is now balking at the price tag and preparing for the oncoming frost. The deal, the details of which were announced on Friday, required Ukraine to pay $3.1 billion to Russia by the end of the year. “In exchange,” The Times explains, “Gazprom will ensure that at least 5 billion cubic meters of gas are supplied to Ukraine from October to March at the set price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters, which must be prepaid before delivery.” Ukrainian officials are protesting, saying that violating an earlier agreement, made with the previous Moscow-friendly president, Victor Yanukovych, to sell the gas at a lower price.

Reuters: Norway’s Statoil sells gas to Ukraine’s Naftogaz

Norwegian energy firm Statoil has signed a deal to sell gas to Ukraine state gas firm Naftogaz, the Nordic firm said on Friday, providing another source of gas for Ukraine after Russia cut off supplies. On Thursday a source in the Ukrainian energy sector told Reuters Ukraine had received its first supplies from Norway via Slovakia and that the price was much lower than for Russian gas.

Bellona: Sweden’s incoming government edging out nuclear power

Sweden may soon turn its back on nuclear power as the incoming Social Democrats and Green Party have announced a coalition agreement to phase out atomic power development, Swedish media have reported. The two parties have agreed to establish a commission that would put the country on track toward 100 percent reliance on renewable energy.

Euobserver: Eastern countries oppose EU climate goals

With only three weeks to go before the European Council is to make a final decision on new climate goals for 2030, six Central and Eastern European countries have declared their opposition to the proposed targets. The six countries are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. The six ask for a framework that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances”. The energy mix differs greatly among member states and reaching the targets will be easier for some than others.

NBC: Gas Prices Drop to a Four-Year Low As Oil Tumbles

U.S. gasoline prices are the lowest in four years following a drop in crude oil futures, the nation’s largest motorists group said. The average price at the pump dropped to $3.33 a gallon on Thursday, down 10 percent from this year’s high, and the lowest for the month of September since 2010, according to the AAA.

Houston News: Enough Gas for 100 Years, says Exxon CEO

“Industry technologies have now put within reach enough natural gas to help power the US economy at its current demand for more than a century,” Tillerson told a Partnership luncheon this week at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. “Sources of oil and natural gas, long-dismissed as uneconomic and inaccessible are being transformed into energy supplies that are successful, reliable, and competitive,” he says.

Clive Best: The certainty of extreme weather

The Met Office tell us that September was the driest since records began 104 years ago. Last summer was ‘the hottest ever recorded’ in Australia. These extreme records hit the headlines implying that global warming is to blame. However just how likely is it that one extreme weather record or another will be broken due to pure chance? There is a 96.3% chance that at least one Met Office record will be broken this year in the UK. For Australia there is a … 98.1% chance that a record will be broken and for the US there is … essentially a 100% chance that a record will be broken.

Nature: Ditch the 2°C warming goal

Bold simplicity must now face reality. Politically and scientifically, the 2°C goal is wrong-headed. Politically, it has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. Scientifically, there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system than the growth of average global surface temperature — which has stalled since 1998 and is poorly coupled to entities that governments and companies can control directly.

National Geographic: With UN climate summit opening, marchers rally around the world

At 1 p.m., a hush fell over the march as demonstrators observed a moment of silence for victims of climate change. Then the crowd let out a sustained roar of loud cheers, clapping, and music to send an “alarm” to world leaders and corporations to cut fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Smithsonian: Could Climate Change Affect the Number of Boys and Girls Born?

Climate change—with its warmer global temperatures and more extreme weather events—will affect us in profound ways, including, perhaps, by tipping the balance between genders. A new study found that, at the same time that temperatures are rising in Japan, the number of boys born is falling in comparison to the number of baby girls.

Mail: Did climate change create modern man? Ancient temperature shifts made us more intelligent, study claims

A growing number of scientists believe that shifts in the Earth’s climate are responsible for creating some of human’s most distinctive characteristics such as our big brains and ability to develop tools.

Uncover California: Scientists at Princeton University Claim Discovery of Anti-matter

Scientists from Princeton University claimed that they have discovered a particle that has the characteristics of a matter and anti-matter. The discovery was published online in the Journal Science. Antimatter is very rare and to find a particle that has both matter and its antimatter characteristics is tough, say researchers.

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14 Responses to Blowout week 40

  1. Joe Public says:

    BBC Longannet photo – it’s probably the only BBC photo of a coal-fired power station not belching smoke.

    Could it be anything to do with the threat of loss of local jobs, or is that too cynical?

  2. The Boundary Dam CCS installation reportedly cost $600 million for ~120MW, or about $5,000/kW installed. If this is a typical installation cost then CCS at coal plants is economically unviable.

    In this case the cost will supposedly be offset by selling 1 million tons of CO2 a year for EOR at an undisclosed price. But at a CO2 price of $40/tonne (the only number I can find – Euan, do you have any numbers on this?) the stand-alone economics of the CCS plant don’t look too good either.

    The CO2 savings achieved by CCS will also be offset by the amount of CO2 emitted from the EOR oil. Euan (again), any idea how much oil 1 million tons of injected CO2 might produce?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      It would take me a while to dig up all of the Roger, but I know from memory that CCS EOR will be about carbon neutral, the CO2 produced from combusting the oil roughly equal to that injected. In the right circumstances it can increase recovery factor at a field by 10 to 20% – so this is big bananas. The Canadians will have done their sums. At very least their is a revenue stream unlike the UK version (bonkers CCS) where there are zero benefits, only costs that need to be borne by the hard pressed consumer.

      • Thanks Euan

        Interesting to note that reinjecting a million tons of CO2 in Saskatchewan is equivalent to taking 400,000 cars off the road in Norway. Wonder where they got that from?

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Yep, it should say that “reinjecting a million tons of CO2 in Saskatchewan is equivalent to keeping 400,000 cars on the road in Norway”. Dope smokin Green dopes 😉

    • Hi Roger,

      I would have been inclined to take the entire project cost, 1.2 billion, for the comparison because I could not imagine spending $5,000/kW to retrofit a 130-MW coal plant otherwise. So it is $10,000/kW for an old coal plant that does not reduce CO2 emissions once the oil burn is factored in. One has to spending someone else’s money to think that is worth doing.


  3. Willem Post says:

    Thanks for the China-Russia energy article, which describes future Russia-China energy projects with more coal, oil and gas exported to China than is presently exported to Europe!

    Washington’s narrow-minded, vengeful thinking caused the EU and US to make a major geopolitical blunder “going after Russia” for the past 24 years.

    I have added it to the below article.

  4. Glen Mcmillian says:

    It should be obvious to anybody that shutting down nuclear power plants with good safety records is a dumb move but it this might actually happen in at least a few cases in the US with the decision having already been made in the case of a Vermont Yankee if I remember the name of the plant correctly.

    The owners of traditional base load generating plants need to be paid enough to maintain and staff them and keep them either online or on standby as needed so as to make wind and solar power work.

    Now this is a political and business problem.. It is not an engineering problem at all.

    We need to keep the pedal to the metal on nuclear as well as wind and solar. Ditto efficiency and conservation.

    Unfortunately the political climate is such that nuclear power is more or less off the table for now and for at least another five or ten years ….. five or ten years without another Fukushima or Chernobyl.

    Fossil fuels are not going to last forever and we don’t want to fight WWIII over access to them.

    WWII was as much or more about access to oil and other natural resources as any other factor.Any other TWO factors.

    We Yankees with a little half hearted help have been boots on the ground most of my adult life in sand country for the sake of oil.We will probably never get our troops home until either (one ) economic collapse on the home front makes it impossible to keep them there or (two) the oil resource is so depleted as to not be worth the trouble any more.

  5. Alfred says:

    It looks like Sweden wishes to emulate the German experience. Good luck with that!

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