Hogmanay Blowout week 52

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.

World: Antarctic expedition: still icebound – what happens next is anyone’s guess

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

UK: Lights will be dimmed but not go out, says electricity chief

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.

World: Toronto hit as winter storm grips eastern Canada and US

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.

World: Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’

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.

UK: Toshiba pays £85m for stake in NuGen to build nuclear plant at Sellafield

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.

UK: Energy bill-payers face hundreds of millions of pound charges for ‘pointless’ smart meter displays

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.

UK: Energy minister wants four million solar panels installed on government land and buildings

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”.

UK: Coal plants will stay shut despite threat of blackouts

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.

World: The U.S. Is A Gas-Guzzling Horror Show, In 1 Chart

No country in the world knows how to fill ‘er up quite like the good old U.S.A.

UK: A power cut at Christmas showed up the nonsense of our energy policy

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.

Germany: Germany’s economics minister Gabriel seeks reform for renewable energy transition

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.

UK: Energy company bosses to be summoned to appear before MPs over Christmas power cuts

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.

UK: Wind farms handed £5 million to switch off turbines as thousands of homes left without power

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.

UK: Ill wind blowing for Scotland’s heritage

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.

UK: Fear we could run out of power prompts talks between Grid and SSE

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.

World: Gazprom Increases Gas Supplies To Europe

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.

World: Western Iraq on brink of rebellion against Shia regime

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.

World: Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn

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.

World: ‘Morale high’ on stranded Antarctica ship

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.

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14 Responses to Hogmanay Blowout week 52

  1. A C Osborn says:

    A happy & prosperous new year to you too.

  2. A C Osborn says:

    UK: Energy minister wants four million solar panels installed on government land and buildings

    UK: Coal plants will stay shut despite threat of blackouts

    Just goes to prove that our Ministers are completely out of touch with reality, God help this country over the next couple of years.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I always assumed that when the crunch came, government would back down on coal plant closure. We are obviously dealing with some fanatics here. As Clive points out on another thread, it is UK policy to insist on CCS (not yet invented) on new coal plant which effectively blocks its construction.

      Re solar panels – FITs may be used to fund the NHS? Who, let’s face it could be very busy 🙁

  3. Roger Andrews says:

    For those who haven’t been following the story, the passengers on the ship stuck in the ice include a group of climate scientists, journalists and assorted hangers-on who were on their way to the Antarctic to witness among other things how global warming was melting the ice there. The irony has not gone unnoticed on skeptic blogs.

    On the Sherwood “ohmigod global warming is going to fry us” paper. We already knew that global warming causes more droughts and fewer droughts, more floods and fewer floods, more blizzards and fewer blizzards etc, but up to this point it’s only been thought capable of causing more humidity and more clouds. Now, however, we find that it actually causes less humidity and fewer clouds. Ain’t nothing global warming can’t do. 😉

    And an honorable mention to the DeKalb coal plant CC&S project, which is doing OK on the “CC” part but not so well on the “S”:


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roger, you forgot to mention global warming may cause global cooling. 97% of scientists agree that any outcome is possible and no matter which outcome we have on any given day CO2 is the cause. You do realise that warming of Antarctica has led to greater melt of land ice leading to freshening of the ocean and more sea ice. The higher albedo does not lead to cooling and negative feed back because this is the southern hemisphere.

      Thanks for heads up on DeKalb – would be good to have more on the history there. Gotta admire Mericans, while Europe huffs and puffs you guys just get on and do. Together with Hugh Sharman we have an ongoing dialogue with civil servants at DECC. They support what we call bonkers CCS but discount CCS – EOR cos it would be too expensive. Go figure.

  4. Roger Andrews says:

    Euan: I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but whenever I try to access one of the Telegraph articles you link to I get a “subscribe today to continue reading” notice. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about this but thought you ought to know.

    In the meantime, Happy Hogmanay.

    Slainte Mhath!

  5. Instead of whining about power cuts how about Britons learning how to make do with less? Throw away the damned television … that is a good place to start.

    They could certainly cut power use in half and not notice. Then, they could cut half again and again.

    Getting rid of the stupid cars would be a positive step in the right direction. Rather, the British will destroy everything they can get their hands on to maintain the lazy-man’s status quo … they will fail in their efforts, anyway.

    The same dynamic needs to take hold in the US and other so-called ‘developed’ countries: get rid of the useless cars and power down. It’s all going to happen anyway, best to have some control over outcomes rather than settle for the usual wars and other disruptions.

    Cars … or wars.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Steve, I don’t know what your personal circumstances are. I know you commented on The Oil Drum for many years. The message you have today is toxic. I would certainly agree, and believe that most readers of this blog would also agree, that we should strive to reduce per capita consumption of resources and energy, but this can be managed in a way that does not impact living standards and the progress of humanity. A couple of percent efficiency improvements per annum may actually leave us all better off.

      The message of inevitable collapse is “misguided” and becomes toxic when civil servants and politicians put in place the mechanisms to bring about this collapse – which unbelievably seems to be the course we are following in Europe right now. Sure, human society may collapse one day, in fact it seems almost inevitable, but it may be hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of years in the future. Go out and enjoy the life you have. By all means live a frugal and environmentally neutral life if that is what you want to do. But it is dangerous to preach this as a way of life that everyone must follow.

      I think inoculation is a good example of what progress brought humanity. And sure over population and environmental degradation is a concern at many levels but this has to be managed at a level that improves outcomes for most. Not a return to this:


  6. A C Osborn says:

    steve from virginia (@econundertow) says: January 1, 2014 at 12:28 am

    In the great British vernacular, Sod Off.

  7. A C Osborn says:

    Roger Andrews says:December 31, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Roger it is controlled by how many times you have tried to read Telegraph articles, they only allow 30 a month unless you contribute to membership.

    The Europeans tried CCS, I think it was the Danes and they failed miserably after spending a fortune on it.

  8. A C Osborn says:

    It was the Norwegian Project that is was thinking of, according to Wiki “it was 80% complete project cost rose to USD 985 million.[79] Then in October 2011, Aker Solutions’ wrote off its investment in Aker Clean Carbon, declaring the carbon sequestration market to be “dead”
    They have a very nice list of the projects that have tried and failed, although the Germans have a 30Mw Plant that has been running since 2008 at Schwarze Pumpe.

  9. Roger Andrews says:

    You Europeans aren’t the only ones huffing and puffing. CCS is pretty much on hold in the US too while lawyers and legislators argue about who owns the pore spaces that the CO2 gets injected into.

  10. Kit P says:

    There is a certain irony to the suggestion of tossing the TV by using a TV monitor, computer, and the internet. Using a small amount of power, a world of information is available. Our doctor suggested checking the CDC for travel plans because of pollution. There is a warning for malaria.

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