Catherine Mitchell on “intense lobbying by energy companies and government misinformation: it is creating genuine uncertainty about who has overall control. ….EDF set out as early as 2006 what was needed for new nuclear power to be built in Britain and this has now been put in place via the electricity market reform (EMR) process. This is despite a tidal wave of criticism, not least because the number of secondees in Decc from EDF and British Gas/Centrica – a fellow member of EDF’s nuclear consortium – far outweigh any other company. / The other main lobby is that which argues that the cheapest way to decarbonise our energy system is to move to gas, rather than the low carbon generation of nuclear and renewable energy. This is a short-term economic view, supported by the Treasury, which conveniently leaves others to deliver and pay for the long term, more difficult solution to climate change. / In practice, this means that Decc does all it can to support nuclear power while the Treasury attempts to support gas as best it can by moving as much risk of investment away from UK PLC to the nuclear companies. At the same time, both lobbies relentlessly undermine renewable energy thereby making sure their deployment is as limited as possible so that nuclear power or gas can step in. / This is not only confusing but it has led to wildly one-sided policies from the government. For example, a letter in 2010 from National Grid set out its decision to not require new nuclear power plants to pay for the additional costs they will impose on the electricity network. The letter ended saying this was because, at £160m per plant per year, it would make nuclear power uneconomical. Renewable energy, on the other hand, has to pay the costs of connections. / Or take the EU Renewable Energy directive, intended to help renewable electricity by ensuring that it is “taken” before generation from other sources of electricity, thereby reducing investment risk. The UK has mostly sidestepped the spirit by letter of law actions. However, recently even the letter of the law has been broken with National Grid favouring nuclear over wind in its management of energy at peak times of demand. …. Meanwhile, our nuclear liabilities are £6.93bn annually, or around £350 per year for each household.”
Archive for February, 2012
The President gives in to Republican pressure and endorses construction on a key southern portion of the controversial project. Environmental campaigners say he has betrayed them. TransCanada says it will renew its efforts to win the permit for the more contested stretch across Nebraska that would link to the tar sands.
Business Green: “According to reports, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted a new five-year plan on its website last week detailing how “leading” polysilicon and solar cell manufacturers will be required to increase production capacity.”
All 54 will be offline by the spring, and many are too old to be brought back on. Solar can be put up in days.
The IAEA says Iran has been significantly accelerating production of higher grade uranium over the last six months.
So writes Liam Halligan in the Telegraph. “Crude is now expensive not due to political argy-bargy but because of the fundamental truths of demand and supply.” Oil now highest ever in sterling and euro terms.
The tar sands operator raises $575m on the Hong Kong exchange. FT: “Sunshine, which is backed by Chinese state-owned investors, raised $350m, or 60 per cent of the total amount, from cornerstone investors including China Investment Corp, China’s sovereign wealth fund, and Sinopec Group, the country’s biggest oil refiner.”
NYT: “The latest charges of fraud in a Chinese company traded in the United States were filed this week by the SEC against two former executives of a Chinese coal company who the commission says stole and sold the company’s assets before they raised more than $100 million from public investors in the United States. In some ways, the theft was not the most audacious part of the strange case of Puda Coal, which traded on the NYSE Amex stock exchange in New York. The attempted cover-up, involving a forged letter from a Chinese state-owned entity and a fake takeover offer, were even more brazen. But what is most amazing is how easy it turned out to be to discover the fraud.” The documents showing the executives were selling the company twice, in China and the US, were public.
Bloomberg: “Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, will cut federal aid to the panel industry by as much as 29 percent from March 9 and further scale back subsidies each month beginning in May, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said yesterday. The cuts are deeper than the 15 percent reduction ordered Jan. 1 and may hurt manufacturers in Germany and China, where the world’s three largest panel makers are based.”
So figures seen by the Guardian show. Before the April 2010 start of the feed-in tariff, 26 MW were installed. The UK is now c 1% of the global total of c. 100 GW, 50 GW of which are in one country, Germany.
The UN report was produced by UNEP to mark the African launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Africa needs to install an estimated 7 GW of new generation capacity each year, the report says. PVTech: positive developments include “Groups like Eight19 and SunnyMoney – a division of SolarAid – have launched a “KickStart Sustainable Energy Fund” that aims to provide affordable solar lighting to rural off-grid communities in East Africa.”
Jitters over a possible attack on Iran are outweighing concerns that slowing export orders in China and the eurozone crisis could jeopardise global growth. The cost of Brent crude hit $121.92 a barrel, or £77.77. The previous sterling record was set last year at the height of the Libyan war. US crude hit a nine-month high of $106 (£67.62) a barrel this week. The highest price recorded in dollars was $147 in July 2008, when the pound was stronger. A high oil price pushed UK inflation last year to above 5%.
Jeremy Leggett: “We have been expecting this but we hoped that Ed Davey would see sense and not take the appeal. If we are lucky this is just a cynical exercise to limit the market to 3rd March and they will withdraw in a few weeks. If not, and they really are serious about a Supreme Court appeal, then the implications for the renewables industry are deeply worrying. Two weeks ago, Ministers reassured the industry that they wanted to see 4 million solar homes in the UK by 2020. This appeal completely undermines that claim. They need to stop rewriting the scheme, end the constant stop-start and provide long-term stability and meaningful returns for investors and customers and give certainty to the 30,000+ employees of this successful industry – one of the few that is actively creating jobs in this country. If the appeal is successful it will allow Government to change feed-in tariffs whenever it chooses, even for projects that are already installed and supposedly guaranteed the feed-in tariff. At a stroke, this would undermine investment in all UK renewables, not just PV, and show investors that the UK government simply cannot be trusted. Fortunately their arguments are weak. They are the same ones unanimously rejected by the Court of Appeal so I wouldn’t give them much chance of success. Sadly, this appeal has the whiff of farce about it. First they try to woo private capital into infrastructure; then they mismanage it; now they go to the Supreme Court to argue for sovereign default to cover their tracks. I just hope the new Secretary of State actually understands what his lawyers are doing.”
RE World: “Prices for crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules fell below the $1/W mark in January 2012, and in some cases well below even that, marking the first time that global average prices have fallen below this milestone, according to IMS Research. ….Annualized price declines slowed to 22 percent in January, ignoring seasonality, after exceeding 50 percent declines in December, thanks to reductions in incentives across several major solar PV markets at the end of 2011.”
In the FT. The title doesn’t match the content. “This revolution could prove to be a Faustian bargain. Care needs to be taken over how – and how swiftly – the technology is introduced: environmental costs might prove heavy.”
Independent: “Nine out of 10 people support The Independent’s calls for an independent public inquiry into the Big Six energy companies. Meanwhile, seven out of 10 think a levy on excessive energy profits is a good idea. The overwhelming public support for our campaign for fair energy prices is revealed in a survey published today by YouGov on behalf of Friends of the Earth and Compass. It follows yesterday’s news that energy watchdog Ofgem is considering price controls on the Big Six and an inquiry into their business practices, supporting two of the key points in The Independent’s Fair Prices campaign….The brand consultancy Siegel+Gale named Npower as having the worst customer service out of 122 UK companies surveyed. This put the company slightly behind competitor EDF. British Gas and E.on were also in the worst 10.”
OilPrice.com: The Damman field, shut down 30 years ago, is one such. It is now in a metropolitan area.
WSJ: “After decades of decline, ‘U.S. oil production is now on the rise, entirely because of shale oil production,’ said Citigroup. Shale oil could add almost 3.5 million barrels a day to US oil production between 2010 and 2022 and has already slashed 1 million barrels a day from U.S. oil imports. One day it may allow the U.S. and Canada to be self-sufficient in oil, it said.”
Bloomberg: “Saudi Arabian Oil Co. plans to re- open the Gulf kingdom’s oldest oil field and produce there for the first time in 30 years as the company boosts output of heavy crude, the Economist Intelligence Unit said.” The mothballed Dammam field contains some 500 million barrels of oil and may yield as much as 100,000 barrels a day of Arabian Heavy crude. “Aramco is also speeding up a project to increase capacity for heavy crude at the Manifa field.”
FT: “Risks to output, once confined to the Middle East, are now spreading to Africa. Inventories are low. And the ability of Saudi Arabia to make up for any shortfall is being called into question. “Not since the late 1970s-early 1980s has there been such a serious threat to oil supply,” a report by Deutsche Bank said.
In 1993 I addressed the annual US-Europe coal conference with Harlan Watson, who later headed the USA’s climate negotiation team. This is the man, and the constituency, I saw that day.
Extract from The Carbon War (Penguin 2000) p 127……Watson reached his recommendations. “What should you do, you might ask? Let me make several suggestions. (more…)
DeSmogBlog receives confidential documents from an “insider” at the Heartland Institute, based in Chicago. Guardian: “The Heartland Institute, founded in 1984, has built a reputation over the years for providing a forum for climate change deniers. But it is especially known for hosting a series of lavish conferences of climate science doubters at expensive hotels at New York’s Time Square as well as in Washington DC. …The papers indicate that discrediting established climate science remains a core mission of the organisation, which has received support from a network of wealthy individuals – including the Koch oil billionaires as well as corporations such as Microsoft and RJR Tobacco. ….The importance of one or two wealthy individuals to Heartland’s operations is underscored by a line in the fundraising document noting that a foundation connected to the oil billionaire Charles Koch had returned as a donor after a lengthy hiatus with a gift of $200,000 in 2011. “We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with,” the document said. ….The documents suggest several prominent voices in the campaign to deny established climate science are recipients of Heartland funding. They include…Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses).
Der Spiegel: “The company said it will put two large projects on hold unless the grid operators speed up the construction of power lines. … The German government plans to increase the share of green power to 35 percent of power consumption by 2020 from 20 percent at present. A decisive part of that increase is to come from offshore wind farms. …There has been growing criticism of delays in building wind farms in the North Sea and Baltic. In January, the German Transport Ministry provided figures which outline the scale of the task Germany faces. The plan is to have 10,000 wind turbines in operation off Germany’s coasts by 2030. It currently only has 27. The aim is for the windfarms to produce 25,000 megawatts of power — so far, it’s just 135 megawatts. Energy company RWE has also complained about delays in power line construction.”