NYT editorial: “Despite pleading by Mr. Obama, the Senate on Thursday could not produce the 60 votes necessary to pass a bill eliminating $2.5 billion a year of these subsidies. This is a minuscule amount for an industry whose top three companies in the United States alone earned more than $80 billion in profits last year. Nevertheless, in the days leading up to the vote, the American Petroleum Institute spent several million dollars on an ad campaign calling the bill “another bad idea from Washington — higher taxes that could lead to higher prices.” The ads had four messages, all myths.
Archive for March, 2012
Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix: “It used to be that Saudi Arabia produced more oil when it wanted lower oil prices. Today, when Saudi Arabia wants lower prices it produces an op-ed in the Financial Times.” FT Alphaville: “It all does seem very counterintuitive. On the one hand Saudi is saying there is no supply shortage and stocks are at record levels. On the other hand it’s sending more crude to the United States. On the one hand you have high oil prices and the constant mumblings of SPR releases. On the other hand much of the analyst and academic community insists there’s no need for any emergency action. / So what is going on? / We’d be pleased to hear from anyone who can make sense of it.”
French oil experts, including ex Total executives, publish an appeal in le Monde, translated in the Energy Bulletin.
IPCC: “Evidence suggests that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and, in many regions, heavy precipitation in the past half century, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said today …..in its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). ….“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group II, which together with Working Group I produced the report.” The IPCC released the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the report in November 2011. …The SREX has assessed a wealth of new studies, and new global and regional modelling results that were not available at the time of the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, its last major assessment of climate change science. Some important conclusions delivered by the SREX therefore include: – Medium confidence in an observed increase in the length or number of warm spells or heat waves in many regions of the globe. – Likely increase in frequency of heavy precipitation events or increase in proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls over many areas of the globe, in particular in the high latitudes and tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes. – Medium confidence in projected increase in duration and intensity of droughts in some regions of the world, including southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa.”
JL thought: “Improving as the global circulation models are, if we wait for all models in all national centres of climate research to agree, we will already be living in a 6 degree world.”
Chris Nelder, on SmartPlanet, Energy Futurist: “A persistent myth about the challenges of integrating renewable power into the grid is that because solar and wind are intermittent, grid operators need to maintain full generation capacity from “baseload” plants powered by coal and nuclear. Recent real-world data and research shows that not only is this not true, but that baseload capacity is fundamentally incompatible with renewables, and that as renewables provide a greater portion of the grid’s power, baseload generation will need to be phased out.”
REneweconomy: “Here is a pair of graphs that demonstrate most vividly the merit order effect and the impact that solar is having on electricity prices in Germany; and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to try to reign in the growth of solar PV in Europe. It may also explain why Australian generators are fighting so hard against the extension of feed-in tariffs in this country. The first graph illustrates what a typical day on the electricity market in Germany looked like in March four years ago; the second illustrates what is happening now, with 25GW of solar PV installed across the country. Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators – as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV – it is in fact eating their entire cake.”
FT: “Saudi Arabia says it has the capacity to raise production by 2.5m b/d if markets need it. The problem, says Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup, is that “the market is seeking transparency, and all the Saudis are giving is verbal assurances”. The kingdom is already pumping at a three-decade peak of 10m b/d, and increased exports last month by 150-300,000 b/d, according to the IEA.”
ClickGreen: “Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: “The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Government simply has no grounds to appeal the decision that its handling of solar Feed-in tariffs was illegal. This final step in the legal process has wasted much needed time and money and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future. Renewables can only play the pivotal role necessary to deliver a new green economy if we have a stable market and investor confidence backed by lawful, predictable and carefully considered policy. I hope the Government is now clear that it will be held to account if they try to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes. We would much prefer not to have taken this path but Ministers gave us no choice. Our hope now is that we can work together again to restore the thriving jobs-rich solar sector that has been so badly undermined by Government actions.” More in the Guardian.
E2B Pulse: ““Disastrous” solar Feed-in-Tariffs, the “cavalier irresponsibility” of bankers, and a government that is “mortgaging the future” – Jeremy Leggett is a man with strong opinions. In an exclusive interview with E2B Pulse’s News Editor James Kershaw, Solarcentury’s Executive Chairman argues there’s a war raging against the UK’s renewable energy industry – one that he’s prepared to fight.”
Bloomberg: “U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google Inc. (GOOG) and KKR & Co. by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) together with the biggest Internet search company, the private equity company and insurers MetLife Inc. (MET) and John Hancock Life Insurance Co. poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That’s the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.”
Reuters: “Britain is poised to cooperate with the United States on a release of strategic oil stocks that is expected within months, two British sources said, in a bid to prevent fuel prices choking economic growth in a U.S. election year.” Price falls $4 on the news. The White House then denies this is an option. Gasoline prices are at near record levels in the US.
This is money.co.uk: “Mark Todd, at comparison site Energyhelpline, has calculated that since September wholesale gas costs have fallen by 10 per cent and wholesale electricity has fallen 13 per cent. This could have led to a 7 per cent fall in gas bills and a 9 per cent fall in electricity bills had savings been passed on. Instead, tariffs were cut by only 2 per cent on average — netting the firms an extra £80 a year per customer.”
“I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. ….It makes me ill how callously (colleagues) talk about ripping their clients off. ….I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.” So says Greg Smith, former head of US Equity Derivatives in Europe, in the New York Times.
Scientific American: “Previous studies have vastly underestimated the carbon footprint of the Canadian oil sands by not considering the industry’s impact on peatlands, according to new research. Scientists from the University of Alberta found that 10 operational oil sands mining projects would destroy enough peatlands to release 11.4 million to 47.3 million metric tons of stored carbon into the atmosphere. That release is the equivalent of seven years’ worth of emissions from the oil sands mining region.”
FT: “Britain is heading towards an energy supply crunch sooner than expected as many of the country’s coal-fired power stations face early closure under European Union environmental regulations. Eight coal-fired plants are due to close by 2015 as part of efforts to cut harmful emissions but several are set to shut before then as companies rapidly burn through their remaining EU production allowances. …Coal accounted for 43 per cent of generation in January compared with 26 per cent for gas, far more than normal, according to National Grid. Gas prices in Europe are still heavily linked to oil prices, which have been driven up by political tensions in the Middle East”: the total opposite of the situation in the US.
They believe RWE and Eon can’t build reactors after what has happened in Germany. As for EDF’s chances, “François Roussely, the former head of EDF, also advised President Sarkozy that EPRs should be abandoned. Experience with constructing two EPRs in Finland and France has been woeful – both are already four years late and costs are running twice as high as originally projected.”
Clean Edge: “Wind power (new installation capital costs) totaled a record $71.5 billion in 2011, up 18 percent from $60.5 billion the prior year, and is projected to reach $116.3 billion in 2021. Last year’s global wind power installations equaled 41.6 GW, the largest year for global installations on record. China remained the global leader in new installations for the fourth year in a row, installing more than 40 percent of all global wind capacity, or 18 GW in total.”
Clean Edge: “The global market for solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) increased from $71.2 billion in 2010 to $91.6 billion in 2011. While total market revenues were up 29 percent, installations climbed more than 69 percent from 15.6 gigawatts in 2010 to more than 26 GW worldwide last year. This 40-point discrepancy was due to rapidly declining solar costs. Crystalline solar PV module prices, for example, dropped more than 40 percent between 2010 and 2011, and Clean Edge projects that the cost to install solar PV systems will fall from an average of $3.47 per watt globally in 2011 to $1.28 within the next decade.
ClickGreen: “Jeremy Leggett, chairman of UK-based Solarcentury said: “Any industry (PV) growing volume at 69% and cutting costs 40% whilst netting nearly $100 billion you would suspect might have a glittering future. Big Energy needs to understand that this industry is coming for their market share fast, first in Germany and soon after in other countries, they should embrace solar technology and cease their pushback in defence of a ruinous and increasingly expensive status quo. The UK government is among those who need to understand that their accommodation of Big Energy’s special pleading will cause them to lose out in a job-rich global industry just as it approaches a mass market.”
FT: “Company informants tempted by the prospect of multimillion dollar payouts are rushing to US regulators with audio recordings and internal documents to take advantage of a new programme that can make whistleblowing on wrongdoing lucrative , lawyers and regulators say. Many of the complaints, lawyers say, involve allegations of accounting fraud and foreign bribery at financial and industrial companies. Others include allegations of market manipulation or other crimes by hedge funds and private equity firms.”
Michael Mann in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “If one considers the collective impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gases alone, we have already reached 450 ppm CO2eq. It is only when the cooling due to anthropogenic aerosol production (e.g., sulfate) is taken into account (equivalent to ≈ −80 ppm CO2eq) that we appear to be safely below the 450-ppm number, at an effective ≈375 ppm CO2eq [this number is uncertain, due to the substantial uncertainty in estimates of the net impact of anthropogenic aerosols]. If we were to suddenly halt the various dirty industrial and agricultural processes responsible for anthropogenic sulfate, nitrate, and other aerosols, we would suddenly find ourselves with 450 ppm CO2eq on our hands.” Feb CO2 concentration was 393 ppm.
Guardian: “His pay deal is likely to infuriate shareholders and pay campaigners and comes after Barclays was forced into an embarrassing row with HM Revenue & Customers over two tax avoidance schemes that could have saved Barclays up to £300m.”