The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineering says geo-engineering should be taken seriously as an interim step to reducing carbon emissions, rather than taking the “plan B” role that the government seems to have assigned it.
But they’re not talking about shooting discs into the air to creating a solar shield, or sulfur-aerosol injections.
Fake trees, slime (okay, algae) piped around building exteriors and the now famous reflecting roofs could do the trick, the engineers say.
By Neil Dennis
Oil prices were down again on Thursday after a surprisingly large build up in US crude stockpiles announced by the government’s Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
The EIA numbers showed an inventory gain of 200,000 barrels of crude, nowhere near the 4.3m barrels reported by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, but the market had expected the EIA data to show a drop in crude stockpiles.
Crude prices have fallen 3.4 per cent since the API figures were released on Tuesday, in spite of some encouraging economic numbers, as new home sales and durable goods data both indicated increasing demand.
The attractions of natural gas, particularly in the US market, have been gaining a lot of attention in recent months. Prices might be low just now but there are vast supplies; natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal; and gas-fired plants are relatively easy to bring online.
And as anyone with an interest in renewables will have already heard at least a dozen times: where’s the electricity going to come from when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing? Small wonder natural gas has already become something of a cause celebre in parts of the environmental movement.
However, analysts at Barclays Capital are not quite so convinced.
Natural gas has enjoyed a boom in the past 10 years, with an additional 249,000MW of capacity more than doubling the existing installations. But the combination of lower demand and sharp growth in renewable capacity will actually constrain the growth in natural gas output, say James Crandell, Biliana Pehlivanova and Michael Zenker at BarCap.
How to resolve the green paradox
Reducing emissions for the future accelerates climate change now (FT)
India needs to put its bleak houses in order
What the Ambani brothers’ legal dispute reveals about India (FT)
Lex: Oil service companies
As an investment strategy it has patently failed (FT)
Exports to Europe fell 30% in first-quarter results (FT)
Australia approves $42bn LNG project
Chevron to decide on development investment (FT)
Repsol Peru gas lot seen reserved for domestic use
Worries of fuel shortages for Peruvians (Reuters)
Cnooc to boost reserves as profit beats estimates
Chinese oil company will step up exploration and acquisitions (Bloomberg)
Terra Firma takes stake in US renewable energy sector
UK private equity group invests in wind farms (FT)
Gorgon go-ahead rallies energy groups
Project offers Australia chance to be world’s top LNG producer (FT)
A PS to the approval for the giant Gorgon gas field in Australia on Wednesday: the decision was made by Peter Garrett, the country’s environment minister, who will be better known to readers of a certain age as the (former) lead singer of Midnight Oil.
Even as a minister, Mr Garrett cuts an imposing figure; as a rock star, he was extraordinary (you can get a sense of him on YouTube.)
Gazprom’s profits were battered by plunging gas sales to the European Union and Ukraine in the first three months of the year, it has reported in its latest results under international accounting standards.
A 62 per cent drop in profits to Rbs110bn (about $3.5bn, at today’s exchange rate), reflects steep falls in gas export volumes, which were down 31 per cent to the EU, and 61 per cent to the former Soviet Union countries, including Ukraine. The economic downturn, which has hit demand for gas, particularly from industrial users, in Europe and around the world, was part of the reason; supply disruptions caused by the interruption of flows to Ukraine during the pricing dispute in January were another.
However, there were also some more positive signs in the figures.
Koreans plan gas pipeline to China
Burma coast to be linked to Yunnan (FT)
China racing ahead of US in the drive to go solar
Chinese companies have already pushed down price of solar panels (NYT)
Cost of green homes proves punitive
Future of green building in Britain hampered by recession (FT)
Australia approves $42bn Gorgon LNG project
Environmental approval for project on island nature reserve (Reuters)
Buy foreign gas ETFs over US funds, Jefferies says
Investors of natural gas can avoid premiums on US competitors (Bloomberg)
Record oil-gas price ratio may be set to narrow
History suggests price gap will eventually narrow, analysts say (Bloomberg)
NZ Oil and Gas takes 40% stake in permit
Stake in Albacore, area in resource-rich region of Taranaki (Reuters)
Cairn bullish despite slide in revenue as oil prices fall
Production falls 15% in first half (FT)
Brazil’s Petrobras courts ethanol producer Brenco
Talks to consider potential “synergies” in biofuels production (Argus)
Aggreko points at power shift
Generator rental group sees increasing demand from developing world (FT)
Tesoro sees fuel demand languishing until job growth resumes
US needs to return to work before it returns to pumps (Bloomberg)
Many of the UK’s eight old, dirty power plants that signed their death warrant last year by opting out of the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive may not survive until their expiry date of 2015, say analysts at Inenco.
The plants (Grain, Ironbridge, Kingsnorth, Didcot, Fawley, Littlebrook, Tilbury and Cockenzie) were all given a maximum of 20,000 hours of life in return for their escaping the expensive facelifts that are making other plants less polluting. The idea was that this amount would let the ‘opt-out’ group live another seven years. But four of them have already used up 6000-8000 of their hours, suggestion they may find eternal rest far sooner. There was a flurry of stories on possible shortages last summer.
The concerns, coupled with price spikes in the wholesale electricity market, arose when the ‘opt out’ plants were doing double time to fill in the supply gap left by those power plants being taken offline while they were busy being upgraded into environmentally friendlier versions of themselves. Unforeseen outages added to the problems.
Since then the story has not been less hot because supply has been steady and the economic downturn has eaten away demand. But it would be a mistake to get complacent now.