Blowout week 97

We begin this week’s Blowout with good news from BP:

Telegraph:  The Earth is not running out of oil and gas

The world is no longer at risk of running out of oil or gas, with existing technology capable of unlocking so much that global reserves would almost double by 2050 despite booming consumption, BP has said. When taking into account all accessible forms of energy, including nuclear, wind and solar, there are enough resources to meet 20 times what the world will need over that period, David Eyton, BP Group head of technology said. “Energy resources are plentiful. Concerns over running out of oil and gas have disappeared,” Mr Eyton said at the launch of BP’s inaugural Technology Outlook. With new exploration and technology, the resources could leap to a staggering 7.5 trillion boe, Mr Eyton said. “We are probably nearing the point where potential from additional recovery from discovered reservoir exceeds the potential for exploration.”

A focus on the United States below the fold, beginning with Obama’s not-unexpected rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and moving on to the parlous state of the US nuclear industry. Then the usual mix, including rifts in OPEC, Canada to get serious about cutting emissions, blackouts in Adelaide (but not in the UK), the Exxon global warming investigation, China’s coal consumption revised upwards, Icelink under way, the Galloper wind farm resurrected, Antarctica gaining ice, the coming magnetic pole reversal, floating wind turbines, the solar power tower, how whisky can help neutralize radioactive waste and how global warming will cause less sex and fewer babies.

White House:  Obama rejects Keystone

This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision. First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.  Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year — five years early. In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

USA Today: Obama to attend Paris climate change conference

While announcing his rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, President Obama con-firmed Friday he will attend an upcoming summit in Paris on a global climate change deal. “Three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can,” Obama said. Obama cited climate change, and the need to emphasize cleaner sources of energy, in rejecting the proposed pipeline designed to move oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Later this month, some 80 heads of state and more than 40,000 others are expected to attend the Paris climate change conference that is scheduled to begin Nov. 30 and run until at least Dec. 11. Obama is expected to attend the opening session and stay in Paris for only a day or so.

White House:  Obama Administration Announces Actions to Ensure that Nuclear Energy Remains a Vibrant Component of the United States’ Clean Energy Strategy

As detailed in the Climate Action Plan, President Obama is committed to using every appropriate tool to combat climate change.  As America leads the global transition to a low-carbon economy, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of our clean energy strategy. The President’s FY 2016 Budget includes more than $900 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to support the U.S. civilian nuclear energy sector by leading federal research, development, and demonstration efforts in nuclear energy technologies. DOE also supports the deployment of these technologies with $12.5 billion in remaining loan guarantee authority for advanced nuclear projects through Title 17. DOE’s investments in nuclear energy help secure the three strategic objectives that are foundational to our nation’s energy system: energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental responsibility.

The Hill:  US Nuclear power plants warn of closure crisis

The nuclear power industry is sounding the alarm over the latest in a series of plant closures, warning that an energy source central to meeting President Obama’s climate change goals is deteriorating. With nuclear providing the majority of carbon emissions-free electricity in the United States, utilities and suppliers in the industry say Obama’s planned 32 percent reduction in power-sector carbon is impossible if reactors keep shutting down. Entergy Corp. announced this week its plans to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant near Syracuse, N.Y., the seventh nuclear power plant to announce impending closure in recent years, out of the 60 plants currently operating throughout the country. A few weeks earlier, Entergy said it would close the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Massachusetts. They’re both major losses in the industry’s efforts to counter the nation’s dwindling nuclear power operations. Proponents argue that nuclear power should get special treatment that gives it a leg up, given its lack of air pollution and reliability.

Daily Caller:  US Frightfully Behind Rest Of The World In Nuclear Power

Of the 59 new nuclear reactors under construction worldwide to help meet increasing demand for electricity, only 4 of them are being built in the United States, just enough to compensate for shutting down older reactors. Four new nuclear reactors are expected to enter service by the end of the decade, but that will barely offset those reactors leaving service due to cheap natural gas, which has driven American power prices lower than nuclear plants’ operating costs. The FitzPatrick nuclear plant in New York is scheduled to shut down as soon as 2016 due to concerns about profitability. Other plants such Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey are also scheduled to shut down due to financial concerns. Two other reactors, the Vermont Yankee reactor and Wisconsin’s reactor, have already been closed due to competition from cheap natural gas. The world’s largest nuclear plant operator, Électricité de France, withdrew from a joint venture that would have created three new American nuclear plants–after it had already invested billions of dollars. U.S. regulators recently gave the go-ahead for the country’s first new nuclear reactor in 20 years to begin commercial operations. However, approval for the construction of this reactor took an incredible 43 years due to scandals, red-tape, and environmental concerns.

Reuters:  Exit now, pay later: Germany’s rushed farewell to nuclear power

As the Fukushima disaster approaches its fifth anniversary, Germany’s utilities are in crisis and struggling to shoulder the shutdown bill. There are fears the government may have to bail them out. Since Fukushima, shares in Germany’s top three energy groups – E.ON, RWE and EnBW – have lost an average 56 percent, or 50 billion euros in combined market value, while racking up 65 billion euros in net debt, about twice their current combined market value. They have filed lawsuits against the government, claiming more than 24 billion euros related to Merkel’s nuclear policy, which they claim is unfair and has rid them of one of their main profit centers overnight. Before the Fukushima crisis, German nuclear capacity was around 21,500 megawatts (MW). It is now 11,357 MW and will cease in 2022, when the last of the reactors will be shut down. Germany’s nuclear capacity now only accounts for about 6 percent of the country’s total capacity. Government officials counter that all four big utilities have brought the pain on themselves by failing to adjust their business models quickly enough to respond.

Wall Street Journal:  OPEC Members at Odds Over Group’s Long-Term Goals

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has delayed completing its internal report on long-term strategy as tensions deepen among members over an extended oil-price slump, according to delegates to the group. OPEC’s long-term strategy report was expected to be made final Wednesday at an OPEC staff-level meeting in Vienna before being submitted for ministerial approval next month. But attendees at the meeting said OPEC delegates—who represent national governments with competing interests—couldn’t agree on language defining the group’s long-term mission. Algeria, Iran and Venezuela—which have been heavily hit by lower oil prices in the past year—supported language in the report saying the group wanted to maximize revenue and restore the ability to either influence prices or production, the delegates said. Those goals clashed with language advocating “fair” prices as a goal, which was proposed by OPEC’s central secretariat and supported by Saudi Arabia, the group’s kingpin, the delegates said. Though it may seem like semantics, “it’s a debate that goes at the heart of the organization’s existence,” an attendee said.

New York Times:  China Burning Much More Coal Than Reported

China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated. The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels. Officials from around the world will have to come to grips with the new figures when they gather in Paris this month to negotiate an international framework for curtailing greenhouse-gas pollution. The press office of the International Energy Agency said by email that the organization would revise its own data to reflect China’s revisions, starting with numbers for 2011 to 2013 that will be released Wednesday. The agency estimated, based on the new figures, that China’s carbon dioxide pollution in 2011 and 2012 was 4 percent to 6 percent greater than previously thought. But some scientists said the difference could be much larger.

North American Windpower:  Wind Breaks Records Across The U.S. In October

Hitting a number of new records in October, many U.S. grid operators, including the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), had a big month in terms of wind generation output. On Oct. 22, ERCOT reached a record 12,238 MW of output at 12:48 a.m. – accounting for 36.83% of its overall load at the time. The grid operator had notched its previous record of 11,467 MW in September. Not long after, MISO confirmed via Twitter that it had reached a wind peak record of 12,383 MW on Oct. 28 – surpassing its 11,930 MW record from Jan. 8. Furthermore, a blog from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) mentions wind output records reached on other U.S. grids for the month, including the Southwest Power Pool, ISO New England and Xcel’s Public Service Co. of Colorado. AWEA attributes the jumps in wind output in part to the country’s “wind rush”: advances in turbine technology that are creating new development opportunities for sites with, for example, lower average wind speeds. AWEA also notes the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone initiative in Texas as a catalyst for wind production.

Guardian:  Monster blackout in Adelaide leaves 45,000 SA properties without power

Power was cut to more than 45,000 properties across South Australia late on Sunday after the failure of an interconnector linking SA to Victoria. The monster blackout hit homes and businesses from Sellicks Beach, south of Adelaide, across the metropolitan area and into the Barossa Valley. SA Power Networks said electricity services had been cut to customers in response to a direction from the energy regulator late on Sunday night to begin rotational load shedding. The loss of the interconnector followed a planned shutdown at a Victorian power station earlier on Sunday but it was unclear if the two incidents were directly related. SA Power Networks apologised to customers for the disruptions and said supplies had been restored to most customers by 1am on Monday.“SA Power Networks does not generate electricity, we are reliant on upstream supply,” the company said. “The loss of capacity from Victoria resulted in automatic load shedding to avoid wider issues.”

Adelaide without interconnectors. Image credit Ben Byrne

DeSmog Canada:  Canada’s New Climate Change Minister ‘Excited’ To Tackle Emissions

It’s already big news that Canada now has a Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. But it might be even more newsworthy that McKenna is promising that Canada will be a constructive player at the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris next month. After years of international scrutiny for playing an obstructive role in international climate negotiations and a former environment minister who performed awkward linguistic gymnastics to avoid using the words “climate change,” McKenna’s enthusiasm signals a new era for Canada’s role on the global climate stage. Although the Liberal government isn’t armed with the kind of targets most climate advocates would like to see, McKenna said she plans to demonstrate Canada is taking a new approach to climate change. “Our priority is certainly to show we have an ambitious agenda,” she said, indicating the Liberal government’s full-fledged climate plan is in development. “We’re going to figure out a plan to make a huge reduction in emissions and show that Canada is back, that we believe that climate change is a massive problem and we need to be playing a significant role to tackle it and that we’re there at the table to play a constructive role with the other governments.”

Reuters:  EDF to review grid business strategy

French utility EDF is reviewing the strategy of its high-voltage grid business, an asset that analysts have long believed may be partially sold to fund investment in nuclear power. EDF needs 55 billion euros ($60 billion) to upgrade its ageing nuclear plants, plans to invest 18 billion pounds to build two plants in Hinkley Point, Britain and spend several billion euros to buy Areva’s reactor business. French utility EDF is reviewing the strategy of its high-voltage grid business, an asset that analysts have long believed may be partially sold to fund investment in nuclear power. EDF needs 55 billion euros ($60 billion) to upgrade its ageing nuclear plants, plans to invest 18 billion pounds to build two plants in Hinkley Point, Britain and spend several billion euros to buy Areva’s reactor business. EDF Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy has also outlined a strategy to invest in renewable energy and expand in emerging markets, but with EDF’s balance sheet stretched and few non-core assets left to sell, a partial sale of grid company RTE is one of its few options for raising cash quickly.

Washington Post:  Exxon under investigation for misleading the public about climate change

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil confirmed Thursday that the company had received a subpoena from the office of the attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, related to the subject of climate change and was “assessing” its response. The investigation focuses on whether Exxon Mobil intentionally clouded public debate about science and hid from investors the risks that climate change could pose to its business according to a person familiar with the matter. The inquiry seeks a variety of documents and records from the company, according to the person familiar with the probe, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the subpoena have not been made public. Schneiderman is also conducting a similar investigation regarding Peabody Energy, a leading coal company. The person familiar with the matter suggested that other energy companies could also face scrutiny. Environmental advocates hailed the probes as a major victory. For well over a decade, such organizations have been probing alleged links between Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded energy company, and the raising of public doubt about climate change.

Guardian:  National Grid makes urgent call for companies to reduce electricity usage

Earlier on Wednesday, National Grid issued an urgent request for energy companies to make more power available after multiple breakdowns at UK power stations. Power firms were asked to supply an extra 500 megawatts (MW) between 4.30pm and 6pm, a period when power demand surges, with some people still at work and others arriving home and turning the lights on. Severn Power sold electricity to the National Grid at £2,500 per megawatt hour during the afternoon, industry sources confirmed, compared with the typical price at that time of about £60. National Grid issued the original request by sending a “notification of inadequate system margin” (NISM), a warning that there was not enough power in reserve to keep the lights on in the event of an unforeseen emergency. Shortly before 6pm, National Grid issued a further statement saying suppliers had responded to its urgent request and 40MW of extra power had been ordered, so the NISM had been withdrawn. Energy analysts at the stockbroker Jefferies said that while the National Grid’s warning could have been just “one of those things”, it could be a sign of system stress as coal-fired power stations close. “It is self-evident that the UK power system is under increasing stress. Eventually that stress will manifest itself via security-of-supply events,” the company said in a note.

BBC:  National Grid gets back-up power supply

The UK power industry has provided more electricity generation after a request from the National Grid. There had not been a risk of electricity supplies being disrupted, it said. National Grid earlier issued a Notification of Inadequate System Margin (NISM) as a result of multiple energy plant breakdowns. “The market duly responded to this signal,” the company said. The National Grid described the NISM as “one of the routine tools that we use to indicate to the market that we would like more generation to come forward for the evening peak demand period”. An additional 500 megawatts had been requested between 16.30 and 18.30 on Wednesday. “More generation came forward and about 40 MW of demand side balancing reserve was ordered so the NISM has been withdrawn,” National Grid said. The National Grid plans to increase significantly its use of demand side management to keep the system in balance.

Guardian:  National Grid spends more than £2.5m to prevent power shortages

National Grid spent millions of pounds seeking to prevent power shortages on Wednesday after using all but one of its “safety nets”. The electricity transmission firm revealed it was forced to call on a range of measures when power reserves ran low, including buying power at short notice and asking industrial users to turn down their usage. National Grid spent at least £2.5m after issuing a notice of inadequate system margin (NISM) on Wednesday afternoon asking power companies to provide more electricity. It paid the owner of Severn power station, Calon, about £2,500 per megawatt hour to provide an extra 500MW for two hours. On a normal day the typical cost for immediate power would be closer to £60 per megawatt hour. National Grid also used one of two new powers designed to prevent power cuts. These have already cost the National Grid £36.5m to put in place – adding 50p to the average annual household energy bill – but incur extra costs when called on.

Citizens Advice:  Scrapping support for onshore wind developments could hit energy customers

Citizens Advice says a pledge to end new subsidies for onshore wind farms could stifle crucial attempts to lower bills and reduce harmful emissions. The new report, Generating Value?, from the national charity says excluding onshore wind – one of the cheapest renewable technologies in the UK – from auctions for future subsidies could drive up electricity bills. The absence of onshore wind from the auctions could result in more expensive technologies being purchased instead. Researchers suggest it could add as much as £0.5billion to bills over the 15-year duration of subsidy contracts, or the equivalent of around £30million a year. Those costs relate to a single auction round for new low carbon generation, but there may be a number of auctions over several years, so the total cost to consumers may be higher still. The report welcomes efforts by the Government to rein in the costs of deploying low carbon generation, but says the policies on onshore wind could be counterproductive.

Utility Week:  Icelink deal expected in six months

A new government-backed deal to bring Icelandic geothermal power to the UK via the world’s longest undersea power link is expected to come within the next six months. Ministerial talks have begun following a meeting between UK prime minister David Cameron and his Icelandic counterpart, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson late last week in which the two leaders agreed to establish a UK-Iceland Energy Task Force to study the power cable plans. The Sunday Times reports that the financier behind the scheme Edi Truell expects the details of the financial support deal to be in place by next May. The £5 billion project will give the UK access to Iceland’s abundance of geothermal and hydropower which currently accounts for 95 per cent of Iceland’s power use. The Icelink could bring 1.2GW of renewable power capacity to the UK by 2023. At this early stage, the price remains uncertain, but Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s central estimate of £86/MWh brings it in cheaper than new nuclear. The power cable is expected to take at least seven to ten years to build once construction starts.

Guardian:  £1.5bn Galloper windfarm to go ahead with new backers

Construction of a £1.5bn windfarm off the Suffolk coast is to go ahead in November after three new partners were found to back the project. The future of the Galloper windfarm was left in doubt last year when energy company SSE pulled out of the project, blaming the cost and the subsidy regime. The remaining partner, RWE Innogy, halted work. But RWE Innogy announced on Friday that Siemens Financial Services and the investment and financial services group Macquarie Capital, along with the UK government’s Green Investment Bank, had become joint 25% equity partners. Scheduled to become operational in March 2018, Galloper will become one of the larger offshore windfarms in British waters with a capacity of 336MW, or enough to power 336,000 homes. The announcement follows Dong Energy’s confirmation on Wednesday that it was going ahead with an extension to a windfarm in the Irish sea that will make it the world’s biggest. Together, the two projects mean that there is 10GW of offshore wind capacity built, under construction or with financing secured in Britain, double the current operational capacity of 5GW, said the trade body RenewableUK.

BBC:  The Forties Pipeline at 40

In 63 and a bit years, the Queen’s had a hand in much of the British economy; opening factories, bridges and the Border railway, launching ships, asking why no-one foresaw the financial crash, and adding her royal warrant to Deeside suppliers of Balmoral’s comestibles and household sundries. But the event that took her to Aberdeen 40 years ago was perhaps the most significant economic event in her reign. That was when she pressed the button that started the Forties pipeline flowing. It wasn’t the first oil brought ashore. That had been in June 1975, by tanker. But the pipeline network was vital to making the North Sea viable. It’s the risk that the pipeline networks throughout the North Sea may no longer be viable at the current oil price that is one of the industry’s big concerns about the next 40 years. So there’s not much celebration as the Forties turns 40.

Christian Science Monitor:  Are floating wind turbines the future of clean energy?

A Norwegian oil and gas company has been given the go-ahead to harness the record-breaking winds off of Scotland’s shores. Using a different sort of Scandinavian windmill, Hywind, a project of Norway’s Statoil, got permission from the Scottish government to build the world’s largest floating wind farm. Hywind turbines introduce a potentially exciting innovation in the field of wind energy: unlike typical turbines, the five being put in place by Statoil will “float,” while secured to the seabed by a tripod-style mooring-and-anchoring system. The turbines will be connected by cables, with one cable running electricity from the wind farm to the shore 25 kilometers away at Peterhead, on the northeast coast of Scotland. If successful, the pilot project will have a generating capacity of 135GWh of electricity annually, with the potential to “power up to 19,900 houses,” according to a statement from the Scottish government. The potential power would be roughly 12 percent cheaper to generate compared to the global utility average, according to independent environmental analysts at the UK-based Carbon Trust.

American Bazaar:  Innovative solar power harnessing technology gets US patent

The US Patent Office has considered it unique and has granted patent titled “Transpired Solar Collector Chimney Tower” to SolarWall inventor John Hollick and his associate Dogan Eryener. The invention uses a transpired solar collector to take advantage of a well-known phenomenon – warm air rises. The solar updraft tower has three essential elements: solar air collector, chimney or tower and a wind turbine combined now in a novel way. Mounting the SolarWall panels over acres of land with a tall chimney in the center creates a tremendous stack effect that draws air through each square foot of panel towards the chimney where the moving air turns a turbine to produce electricity. The ground is also heated during the day, and at night the stored heat is released to continue its journey up the chimney,” states Hollick. A small test system has confirmed the system performance and plans are underway to construct a one megawatt pilot system with a chimney hundreds of feet high.

NASA:  Mass gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet greater than losses

A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers. The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice. According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008. “We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica,” said Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study, which was published on Oct. 30 in the Journal of Glaciology. “Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica – there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.”

Express:  Earth faces 200 years of solar radiation blasts as ‘magnetic poles shift’, say NASA

The Earth could be left powerless to defend against blasts of solar radiation from the Sun for up to 200 YEARS, leaving us at risk from skin cancer and worldwide electronic communication blackouts, NASA scientists have warned. Climate researchers believe we are heading towards a reversal of the planet’s magnetic field, an event that has happened before and has been attributed to wiping out the Neanderthal species. Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said when the switch does take place, the Earth’s magnetic field which prevents the Sun’s dangerous radiation getting through, would be neutralised for around 200 years. He revealed the detail during an historic announcement about how Mars lost 99% of its atmosphere and its oceans that could have housed early life. Mr Jakosky explained that Mars had been blasted by solar winds, which had stripped it of its atmosphere, for billions of years since the beginnings of our solar system. He said: “When the polar shift happens the Earth will have no magnetic field for about 200 years.” During that time the Sun’s solar blasts are expected to strip away at our atmosphere as they did on Mars billions of years ago. But he thankfully added that 200 years would not be long enough for the Sun to significantly reduce the atmosphere for life to die out.

Spirits Business:  Whisky by-products to clean up radioactive waste

Researchers from the Environmental Research Institute in Scotland hope to clean up toxic waste at the Dounreay nuclear site using a “biosorption” process – where biological materials absorb radioactive isotopes. Scientists believe grain left over from whisky production may be a “sustainable solution that can be sourced locally”, and are also testing seaweed, crab shells and coffee grounds. The radioactive isotope is present in liquid waste inside Dounreay’s Shaft, which is situated in the shores of Pentland Firth approximately 65 metres below ground. Radioactive waste was disposed at the Dounreay nuclear site from 1959 to 1977, when an explosion ended the practice. Mike Gearhart, who leads the Dounreay Shaft and Silo project team, told the BBC: “We are pleased to be working with ERI to identify a sustainable solution that can be sourced locally. “We still have a number of issues to address but results to date have been very promising.”

Gizmodo:  Climate Change Causes Less Sex and Fewer Babies

Three researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research have published a working paper showing how increasing temperatures over the next century could mean fewer babies born–because, to paraphrase Cole Porter, it’ll be too darn hot. Did you know that just one day over 80 degrees is correlated with a .4 percent decrease in birthrates nine months later? Yep–just a moderately hot day can have a “large and statistically significant” effect on rates of birth, say Tulane University’s Alan Barreca, UC Santa Barbara’s Olivier Deschenes, and the University of Central Florida’s Melanie Guldi. The trio studied this effect using the biggest dataset of birth rates and temperature records available, spanning across the US from 1930 to 2010. They compared temperature fluctuation over those 80 years, looking at state-by-state data to account for region differences (for example, the South has way more days over 80 degrees, and births tend to spike in September compared to the rest of the country) as well as other things that could effect birth rate–for example, how summertime planting season could prevent people from having sex during those months.

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20 Responses to Blowout week 97

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    “The Earth Is Not Running Out of Oil and Gas”

    A curious statement from BP. The Earth never was running out, but what matters is economically recoverable, thermodynamically recoverable, and environmentally recoverable resources. How does BP look today on the back of a perceived environmental catastrophe, producing increasingly expensive oil, using more energy (ie money) to do so at a low price. BP does need a new business plan, the graphic posted up top is not IMO it.

    • I was surprised too, but I can’t see BP publishing a claim like “Concerns over running out of oil and gas have disappeared” without top-level approval and at least some factual support. Maybe we should check to see what the factual support is.

    • robertok06 says:

      “BP does need a new business plan, the graphic posted up top is not IMO it.”

      Sorry, Euan, by now you should know that I love your blog and I love you (well, you know what I mean by that, don’t you? 🙂 )… but I don’t understand why you say this.
      BP is a very knowledgeable company, there’s no doubt about that, right?
      So, they simply extrapolate to the future what their past experience and current knowledge tell them that the future will be. IMHO it is that simple.
      One can be pro or against fossil fuels, that’s a matter of personal choice, but one cannot possibly claim that BP (or Exxon for that matter) does not know what they are talking about.
      They are confident that in a clearly stated span of time, they COULD be able to extract that amount of oil (“they”=the fossil fuel companies), and I believe them, why shouldn’t I?

      King Hubbard stated 60 years ago that by 40 years ago the US would have reached the peak of production from their oil fields (48 contiguous states, at that time, AK was not in business yet, I think…) and guess what? … (rethorical question for you)… ??… the USofA are still in the business, extracting oil and gas at unprecendented rates (OK… a bit slowee recently due to the ridiculous OPEC policy).

      If the “new business plan” is what the German politicians claim has been lacking in the German energy companies (see related “Reuters: Exit now, pay later: Germany’s rushed farewell to nuclear power”)… where the German geniuses claim that…

      “… all four big utilities have brought the pain on themselves by failing to adjust their business models quickly enough to respond”

      … when the “new business model” companies cannot even grab the concepts that PV NEVER EVER will produce a single Wh between sunset and sunrise, and wind DOESN’T always blow… then I’d say that the world is in biiiiig trouble.


      • Euan Mearns says:

        BP’s production should be going through the roof then? I very much doubt that. I’m struggling to access the correct data but from memory we have produced just over 1 trillion bbls of oil to date. BP make this difficult by including oil + gas. But for example they have 700 billion bbls of new discoveries in there in the next 35 years (20 billion / year) with recent discovery rate running at << 10 billion per year, and likely to fall close to zero since they stopped drilling cuz its too dear to drill.

        BP see a remaining resource of 7.5 trillion BOE. The stuff we have produced to date gushed out of the ground, the new stuff trickles.

        Enhanced oil recovery may increase recovery by say 5%. 5% of 1 trillion = 50 billion, but BP have it there as a big slice of 2 trillion. The new economist chap obviously has a direct line to GM wacky backy.

        And if BP waltz around making statements like this, the Greens will demand they are shut down.

        The peak oil meme certainly needs to be over hauled but this BP stance seeks to destroy it completely. So why don't they just head out and find 1 billion bbls if its that easy?

        • Javier says:

          Actually what BP says is that scrapping for leftovers looks more promising than finding new stuff. To me this sounds extremely alarming.

          As they said in the political satire “Yes, minister”. You cannot be sure of anything until is officially denied. BP just denied Peak oil, so probably Peak oil is upon us.

          • Aslangeo says:

            Field enhanced recovery and infield / near field exploration is normally more profitable and less risky that wildcat exploration for larger companies

            The industry has been finding between 5 and 12 billion barrels of liquids per year according to the major industry consultancies. the exploration performance of the Majors has generally been less than great in the last decade (ENI excepted). Most of the large discoveries (Brazil, East Africa (gas), eastern med (gas), Kara sea) have been made by either NOC’s or Independents. The tight oil reserves in North America were also first developed by independents

            Large companies face a bit of a dilemma, some are trying to explore while others prefer to buy reserves

            Costs have escalated in the last ten years – more than doubling – this is now being reversed and causing a lot of pain to contractors and employees. At present the only cashflow positive listed companies are Lukoil, Gazprom and Rosneft. The majors need about $60 (down from $80 last year) to balance. Some indpendents particularly North Americans are in even worse shape.

            Morgan Stanley / Boston consulting did an interesting report on Big oil – toughen it out or business Model reboot

            hope this helps

          • Javier says:

            Field enhanced recovery and infield / near field exploration is normally more profitable and less risky that wildcat exploration for larger companies

            Yes, but while successful exploration increases ultimate recoverable reserves, EOR decreases them. The abandonment of the first in favor of the second speaks volumes about how close we are to Peak Oil and how inevitable it is becoming in the medium term, contradicting the main conclusion from BP: “The world is no longer at risk of running out of oil or gas”. The risk is actually increasing significantly.

          • robertok06 says:

            “The abandonment of the first in favor of the second speaks volumes about how close we are to Peak Oil and how inevitable it is becoming in the medium term,”

            Not at all!… the Peak Oil meme claims that at/past the peak the price of oil is going to sky rocket… and I don’t think that this is what it is doing right now.

            BP cannot afford at the present, artificially created lower-than-low prices of the barrel to start new fields… why should they?… there is a glut of oil out there, in the US they don’t know where to store it… so they are finding our new ways to recover more oil from places where they wouldn’t had otherwise tried to recover it.

            But this has nothing to do with forecasts about future production, it is just a transient episode, related to politics more than science or technology.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    I fail to see what is innovative about that solar tower which was patented. Similar designs have been around for a decade. One a kilometre high was even slated for construction in Mildura in Victoria, but never proceeded. It even included water containers to absorb some of the heat and maintain 24hour supply. Possibly the cost of building a power station that was 1% efficient was a negative factor.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    Re the Adelaide blackout:
    this appears to be a stock standard problem that can happen in a grid with little flexibility. South Australia has actively encouraged the installation of wind turbines and has over half the capacity installed in Australia, to service 7.5% of demand. This is then ‘backed up’ by a series of small OCGT. The more reliable elderly coal fired power station at Port Augusta and CCGT have been ignored. The company running the coal fired station (Alinta) has got fed up with running a part time operation with full time costs and will close down in March next year. Their proposal for a CCGT plant got nowhere. The main CCGT is also being phased out.

    That will leave South Australia even more dependent on the inter-connectors from Victoria’s brown coal fired plants. The trouble will be that the connectors can only supply less than 25% of peak demand, so the wind has to blow at favourable speeds during hot spells in summer (Jan. Feb.). They failed to do so in a past year when the government tried to do without the Pt. Augusta plant and had to hastily order it back into production, so Jan/Feb. 2017 looks like a sure thing for more, and bigger, blackouts.

    So far there is no public sign that the government realises this, nor that it is taking any action. The only proposed addition to supply is a slight up-grade to inter-connector capacity and calls from part of the public to install a solar tower project (as used in Spain) at Pt. Augusta. That would generate 17 MW in place of the coal station’s 500 MW. Excuse me while I price a generator.

  4. oldfossil says:

    Re Climate Change results in fewer babies. I wonder, I do, which countries have the highest birth rates. They aren’t by any chance the countries with the warmest climates are they? But if Climate Change results in less sex, now that’s something to worry about.

    • robertok06 says:

      “But if Climate Change results in less sex, now that’s something to worry about.”

      If I may add… if this were true than the Pope should be the first “negationist” of the anthropic global warming hypothesis…. strange, uh?

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Roger Andrews:
    try the 2015 report (which I have just found). The previous year’s report was BS, but a quick scan seems to indicate less mathematical tricks this time.
    Note: Page 34 is tripe. Playford B has been out of action for some times and Northern (2 by 256MW) will stop March 2016.
    There are 2 attachment which give the figures listed as separate reports.

    Do you want to track individual wind farm outputs or daily prices? If so I know of someone who knows how to get these, and has analysed same, and could put you in touch (after his permission).

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    Roger Andrews:
    At the first point of call…/the-wind-power-fraud-in-pictures-part-1-the-south- australian-wind-farm-fiasco/‎
    might be useful for recent performance. (don’t expect a laudatory approach). is the Miskelly paper on wind in SE Australia, also found at…/Miskelly-paper-on-wind-farms.pdf‎

    Otherwise is the source for just about anything to do with electricity in Australia but you may need help to navigate it, hence my offer.

  7. robertok06 says:


    I’m not sure this is the right place to post this, sorry in case it isn’t… but I just wanted to make Roger aware that one of his recents posts on this blog has been cited, and criticized by Ugo Bardi, a well known figure in the field of energy/resources/environment research… here:

    He is referring to this post:

    … and, among other things, Bardi is questioning Roger’s ability to discern between proven resources and ultimately recoverble ones.

    I have not the time to translate all of it from the language of Dante, sorry, but the final part says…

    “il post di Andrew cade nella stessa trappola di molti tentativi precedenti: usa i dati prodotti dalla scienza del clima per cercare di dimostrare la sua tesi principale, ma solo dopo aver definito la scienza del clima come una “scienza voodoo”. Non ci siamo proprio: è un meme che non diventerà mai virale.”

    … which poorely translated by me reads as…

    “Andrew’s post has the same shorfall as other authors: he uses data generated by cimate science to try and proove his main thesis (that even burning all oil the 2C limit should not be reached), but he does so only after having defined climate science as “voodoo science”. That’s totally wrong, ’cause it is a meme that won’t ever become viral”

    Well… I leave to Roger and Euan (and anybody else) the task to eventually reply to this.
    Personally, having followed this kind of discussions on italian blogs/websites, I find that Bardi has morphed, in the recent years, from a distinguished researcher into a green pasdaran… he’s written (on other blog of an italian newspaper) stuff on PV and renewables in generale that can’t possibly come from a normal-minded engineer, which he is.


    • Thanks for the heads-up, Robert (or is is Roberto?). This is the second time I’ve been translated into Italian. However, I somehow don’t think a response to Bardi would advance the cause of science.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roberto, I stumbled upon this a few weeks ago. We see where traffic is coming from and I followed the lead. Decided to ignore it. Ugo is a very smart and nice guy – at least he was the last time I met him. But he became obsessed with peak everything and was one of those disappointed by the fact the peak oil was not in 2005, 2008 and beyond.

      I have learned rather belatedly that many of those fascinated by peak oil were Malthusians who relish contemplating the end of humanity by whatever means possible. Hence peak oil morphed into stranded oil, gas and coal. I have an interesting story to tell, can’t work out the best way to tell it.

      Ugo’s blog sent us 7 hits in the last quarter 😉

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