Daily Archives: April 22, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

Peak oil group ASPO is not impressed with a recent Newsweek cover story ‘Cheap oil forever: Why prices will keep falling’. The author, Ruchir Sharma, is head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. He  argues that historically commodity prices have continued to fall, despite rising demand, because technology for extraction or production improves. He also points out that above a certain price level, substitution and efficiencies kick in, creating an effective ceiling for sustainable oil prices.

Kate Mackenzie

Another sign from China that it is not pleased with the US proposal, contained in the Waxman Markey bill, for a “border adjustment” programme would levy import taxes on foreign manufacturers to cover carbon contained in US-bound products. The FT reports:

During a speech at New York University about how the US and China can forge a closer partnership, Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Chinese government’s official advisory, said that a proposed “border adjustment” programme could be challenged through the World Trade Organisation and that he was “distressed” by the new bill introduced to Congress.

“This is particularly unfair to China,” Mr Tung, who was chief executive of Hong Kong from 1997 until 2005, said.

Related stories:
Chinese official warns US on protectionism
(FT)
US unveils radical shift in energy policy
(FT)
Determining who pays for carbon emissions (FT Energy Source)
Colonialism, ethics and China’s emissions growth (FT Energy Source)

Ed Crooks

As predicted in this morning’s FT, the big news for renewables is a change in the subsidy scheme to favour offshore wind, with an extra £525m payment over the period 2011-14. The cunning thing about this is that the money does not come from the greatly over-stretched public finances, but from the Renewables Obligation, which is paid for through electricity bills. So consumers will blame their suppliers for the extra cost, not the government. The other clever thing is that the subsidy for offshore wind will be twice that for onshore wind for projects with orders placed in 2009-10, but only 1.75 times for projects that go ahead in 2010-11. By implication, after that it will be back down to its present level of 1.5 times. That gives developers a strong incentive to get on and build their wind farms.

Consumers also seem set to pay for the expansion of the government’s support for carbon capture and storage: the plan now is to support two to four plants, instead of just one, as previously planned. That means Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, should be able to keep everyone happy by backing most or even all of the four consortiums that have entered the competition to run Britain’s first commercial-scale CCS plant. There is some merit in that: the four groups each have different approaches and bring different strengths to the task.

Kate Mackenzie

David MacKay, the Cambridge physics professor whose book on climate change is attracting some positive reviews, has a new video outlining his main argument: the need for rationality and simple maths in the discussion about how to reduce carbon emissions.

The second half specifically refers to the capacity for renewable energy production in the UK, but viewers in other countries might find his lightbulb-based tally of household energy use informative. View it after the jump:

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source:

Britain’s Budget: How green is it?

Looking on the bright side of the LNG glut

EPA says cap and trade would be cheap and effective


Elsewhere:

Green investing: Pros say green stocks can’t beat the bear It’s not the right time to invest in green stocks, says fund manager (CNBC – video)

Biomass: A million-dollar bet on making fuel from trash Project to convert raw rubbish into fuel (LA Times)

Solar: Vatican to build Europe’s largest solar plant 100-Mw, €500,000 plant planned (Guardian)

Politics: Calling carbon dioxide dangerous is ‘almost comical’ But Republican congressman Boehner says his party will probably come up with its own plan (NY Times)

Oil: The fate of an oil exporter: Why are oil producers often price-takers? (Gregor.us)

Efficiency: Screw the recession: How to spend less and get more on your bills Energy efficiency tips round-up (Gizmodo)

Research: Energy journal round-up A new monthly post on the Oil Drum wrapping up new peer-reviewed journal articles (The Oil Drum)

Carola Hoyos

The economic downturn has caught several investors in liquefied natural gas at an inopportune time. New liquefaction plants and expansions in Russia, Qatar, Indonesia and Yemen are all adding capacity just as demand has collapsed because of the downturn in the economy. But the decline in demand may prove less dire than some have predicted, argues Barclays Capital in a recent note. On top of that, if you squint hard enough you’ll see an energy security silver lining.

Ed Crooks

What energy and environment measures to watch out for in today’s UK Budget statement:

(Update: Here’s our initial reaction to energy measures announced in the Budget)

Sheila McNulty

The US Environmental Protection Agency says new draft energy legislation could succeed in “moving the US to a clean energy economy”.

In publishing its preliminary analysis of the draft clean energy and climate legislation put forward by Representatives Henry A Waxman and Edward Markey; the EPA concluded the bill would make real inroads towards combating global warming. More specifically, the analysis says the cap on global warming emissions would accelerate renewable energy deployment by 150 per cent over the next two decades. In addition, energy efficiency measures will significantly decrease energy demand, reducing primary energy needs by 6 per cent in 2020, 9 per cent in 2030, and 13 per cent in 2050, the EPA estimates.

The analysis focused on the cap and trade scheme of the bill. It found the cost of the scheme – a controversial issue during the current lean economic times that Republicans have already latch onto – would be “relatively modest assuming the bulk of revenues from the program are returned to the household”.

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from elsewhere:

- US offered to suspend Iran oil, gas sanctions in 2008 (Platts)

- Pelosi, Democrats pledge action on carbon limits in US House (Bloomberg)

- Moscow court frees Yukos lawyer (WSJ)

- Struggling ‘mom and pop’ oil companies smile for investors (Greenwire via NYT)

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from the FT:

- Chinese official warns US on carbon protectionism
Import taxes proposal in Waxman-Markey bill ‘particularly unfair to China’

- Uplift in China’s steel demand discounted
Market is likely to remain weak and prices depressed until next year

- Duration doubts over base metals bounce
Mining industry astonished as rise comes in the face of collapsing industrial output

- CF Industries fights off Agrium takeover bid
Agrium asking CF’s investors to withhold votes for three incumbent board members

- BHP says Escondida copper output to fall 30%
Global minier posted falls in quarterly production across key commodities

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