UK: UK energy news continues to be dominated by actual power cuts, talk of blackouts, power station closures and subsidies for doing nothing.
Europe: German finance minister on Energiewende “I think we need to start over”
World: Ice storms close down parts of Toronoto; Iraq continues decent into anarchy; Gazprom increases market share in Europe; scientists warn that planet may warm by 4˚C by 2100; and scientists stuck in Antarctic Pack ice in mid summer, multiple rescue attempts have failed so far.
Life has taken a turn for the worse since Christmas Day, when gusts of up to 70mph slammed into the hull of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy and snow circled its decks, making it impossible to stand up straight outside. Since then we have been stuck in pack ice.
Wishing everyone a prosperous 2014 from EM. 18 more stories below the fold
Britons may see their lights dimmed and their hairdryers lose some heat if Britain’s energy demand starts to outstrip supply, a National Grid chief claimed, as he dismissed fears of blackouts this winter.
A severe ice storm has brought snow and freezing rain to Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, and to much of the east of the country.
At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm system in Canada and the north-east US, which was also affected.
The storm left hundreds of thousands of people in the region without electricity.
A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.
Britain’s nuclear ambitions received a boost after Spanish power giant Iberdrola agreed to sell its 50pc stake in NuGen to Toshiba’s US–based Westinghouse Electric Company for £85m.
NuGen is a joint venture between Iberdrola and French uitility GDF Suez to build a 3.6 gigawatt nuclear plant on the north–west coast of England next to the existing Sellafield power plant.
Consumers face paying hundreds of millions of pounds in unnecessary energy bill levies to fund household “smart meter” displays that companies have warned could be largely redundant.
Four million solar panels covering land the size of 3,400 football pitches should be built on government land and property including schools and prisons, a minister will announce.
Greg Barker, the energy minister, is expected to in the New Year disclose plans for one gigawatt of electricity generated by solar panels on the “government estate”.
The Government has ruled out challenging European environmental legislation that has forced the closure of many of Britain’s biggest coal plants and left the country at risk of blackouts within two years.
No country in the world knows how to fill ‘er up quite like the good old U.S.A.
Nigel Farage… So when, two days before Christmas, my house on the North Downs suffered two small power cuts, I feared our well-planned festivities might be at risk.
Gabriel told the weekly “Bild am Sonntag” newspaper that there were currently many problems with Germany’s move from fossil fuels and nuclear energy to renewables – the “Energiewende” – and that achieving a successful transition was the biggest problem facing the new government.
“I think we need to start over,” Gabriel told the paper.
The bosses of energy network companies are set to be summoned to give evidence before MPs over their “unacceptable” performance restoring power after the Christmas storms.
Tim Yeo MP, chairman of the energy select committee, told the Telegraph: “I’m very concerned about how long the network distribution companies took to restore power to thousands of customers. The Committee will call them in when the House gets back.
Wind farm companies were paid almost £5 million to switch off their turbines while storms lashed the UK over the festive period and tens of thousands of homes were left without power, according to figures published today.
The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is a magnificent area of extensive bog habitats in northern Scotland where, over millennia, plant material has been laid down in the waterlogged conditions to form deep layers of peat and stored carbon.
This area is home to many rare birds and other wildlife: in summer it is alive with the “tew-tew-tew” calls of greenshanks, while divers wail from the many lochans and golden eagles soar overhead.
NATIONAL Grid is in talks with Perth-based power group SSE over a special electricity supply contract as anxiety mounts about Scottish network capacity when Peterhead power station slashes output next year.
The UK’s grid controller is understood to be concerned that Scotland could struggle to keep the lights on during a transition period of about 18 months starting next March, when SSE will cut capacity at Peterhead from 1180MW to 400MW.
Russia’s Gazprom increased gas supply to Europe by 16% in 2013, while the average gas price paid by European companies fell by 5.5% to $380 1,000 cubic meters. The company, led by Alexey Miller, offered lower gas prices to Germany’s RWE and Italy’s Eni.
Gazprom Export took advantage of the decline in gas supplies from Norway and the UK. The Moscow-based company, which provides about a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, also benefitted from the turmoil in Algeria and Libya.
Iraq’s volatile western region was on the verge of all-out rebellion against the central government on Monday. It followed the weekend arrest of a prominent lawmaker and the dispersal of a largely peaceful protest in the city of Ramadi that left at least 13 dead, according to news agencies.
Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose Shia-dominated government has alienated the country’s Sunni Arab and Kurdish minorities, described the dispersal of the anti-government protest and other military operations in Anbar province as a blow against al-Qaeda extremists. This year has brought a resurgence of terrorism in Sunni parts of the country with a campaign of bombings in the capital, Baghdad, and elsewhere.
Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.
The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world’s governments deem dangerous.
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Morale among the scientists and research volunteers – or tourists – of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 is surprisingly high.
A new year is fast approaching and although that will not be accompanied by a new view for us from the ice-beset decks, preparations are underway for when midnight strikes off Cape De La Motte in east Antarctica.