- What’s behind the wildly varying accounts of Nigerian oil production
- Bjorn Lomborg annoys climate change sceptics
- The US ‘clean tech’ race debate and what it means for climate talks
- Free markets vs energy security
- The IEA and peak oil 2020
- Knocking peak oil: Right answer, wrong question?
- What kind of regulatory arbitrage might we see now?
- The small likelihood of new wind turbine factories in the UK
- Fundamentals slide further from oil markets’ view
A report on energy security published by former energy minister Malcolm Wicks warned that the UK had not adequately considered its energy security risks, and made quite a lot of recommendations, including building more gas storage and reconsidering the tax regime for some parts of the energy sector.
The government said it “welcomed” the report. “We are already taking a number of responsible far-sighted steps to put the UK on a secure, low carbon, affordable energy footing in the long-term,” prime minister Gordon Brown said in a statement.
He was in part referring to the very lengthy strategies published last month on reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 34 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. But The Economist magazine this week argues that the government is not doing enough to avoid a crunch.
Britain’s problems with future electricity supply are many. Its nuclear plants are ageing and the question of how to fund their replacement is the subject of intense debate amongst both political parties and government and industry.
Oil executives are fond of saying, “Tell me when technology can no longer be invented or improved, and I will tell you when the world has reached peak oil.”
The point is that as that, as long as new technologies can be invented, then there are going to be new ways to get increasing amounts of oil and natural gas out of the ground. The best example of this is in the US natural gas industry.
It was all but left for dead until a few years ago, when suddenly the US independents came up with new ways to get natural gas out of ground. The US natural gas industry took off, and estimates have grown from 30 years’ worth of supplies in the country to more than 100 years’ worth.
Indeed, Rod Lowman, president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, says that while there are five major shale plays in the US now providing most of the natural gas, there are over 20 other shale formations that the industry believes “hold a lot of potential”.
Same goes for oil, as shown time and time again.
Not only are the majors now drilling in 10,000 feet of water, but they are extracting oil from Canada’s tar sands.
Most recently, Chevron has come up with an innovative steam flood technology, which Bernstein Research says could improve oil recovery several times over, compared to the low per centage recovery achieveable with conventional primary recovery methods.
Remember when the IEA said in May that worldwide electricity demand would fall this year for the first time since 1945? Argus has made a handy chart of first-half demand in Europe:
Actual sales fell everywhere, and output rose for Enel because of a change in how its majority stake in Russian producer OGK-5 was accounted for, while EdF’s output was higher because of its purchase of British Energy.
Earlier this week, UK generator Drax described the fall in demand as ‘unprecedented’ as it recorded a 12.3 per cent fall in net sales to 11.4Twh. Load factor on its plant fell more than 9 percentage points to 69.3 per cent.
The picture might be a little more mixed in emerging markets, however. For example, Duke Energy’s international sales, mostly in Central and South America, were down 13 per cent, year-on-year for the first half, while Endesa’s sales were up 8.1 per cent in Latin America – though sales were only 0.2 per cent higher.
Drax suffers plung in demand (FT, 04/08/09)
World electricity use forecast to fall (FT, 21/05/09)
Bjørn Lomborg, the Danish academic who has long been a poster boy for climate change sceptics, now says it is vital that an agreement on tackling climate change is reached this year.
You can read more about Mr Lomborg’s views in an interview with the FT’s Fiona Harvey, but here are a few quotes:
“It’s incredibly important. We need a global deal on the climate.”
“If that disappoints people who are sceptics, I am not in the least bit unhappy. I hope to have more people enthused [in thinking about how to tackle climate change].”
“…the basic scientific questions [on climate change] have been answered pretty unequivocally”.
Update: We are publishing the answers over here.
Bjørn Lomborg, the author of ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’, now believes reaching an agreement at Copenhagen is vital.
His organisation, Copenhagen Consensus, is also publishing a series of reports on the cheapest ways to tackle climate change, the first one suggesting that some forms of geo-engineering, such as making clouds whiter and thus more reflective of sunlight, could cost less than 5 per cent of the bill for cutting carbon emissions. He will answer readers’ questions on Wednesday, August 12 at 2pm BST (9am EST).
You can post a question in the comments field below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org (your email address will not be published).
We’re taking questions in advance, so post any time until it begins.
Sceptic switches tack (FT, 07/08/09)
Bjorn Lomborg’s change of mind: a climate change deal IS important (FT Energy Source, 07/08/09)
Copenhagen Consensus report calls for more consideration of geo-engineering (FT, 07/08/09)
Study calls for cheaper options to cut emissions
Technologies largely untested (FT)
Sceptic switches tack and urges more effective solutions
Influential climate change sceptic supports emissions treaty (FT)
Indonesia to join Asian commodity exchange race
ICDX hopes to set palm oil prices from October (FT)
FTC expands powers on oil-market probes
Agency can levy fines of $1 million per violation a day (WSJ)
Turkey and Russia conclude energy deals
Agreements will support Turkey’s drive to become regional hub (NYT)