Daily Archives: September 22, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

The week isn’t even half over but it’s already been a busy one for the emerging marine energy industry. Marine energy – the term encompasses both wave and tidal power – is still in its infancy, apart from tidal barrage systems, of which there are a handful in operation around the world. Of those, France’s la Rance is the biggest, with a capacity of up to 240MW, although the UK looks likely to install an even bigger system at the Severn estuary.

Trident Energy

Source: Trident Energy

But apart from barrages, it’s a curious industry and one still very much in development mode. That means a lot of things can go wrong: a wave energy machine installed off the UK’s north Suffolk coast fell over on Sunday, which must have been a dramatic sight. From the website of Trident Energy, which designed the machine:

Trident Energy can confirm that at approximately 12.35 on Sunday 20 September 2009 a problem during the deployment phase led to its demonstration wave generator overturning as it was being taken out to sea to begin its year-long offshore trial.

Another relatively well-publicised wave energy installation, created by Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power and deployed off the Portuguese coast a year ago, is a huge, snake-like series of articulated pipes. This project also ran into technical problems and is now offline – it’s not necessarily the end of the project, but the picture has been complicated by the collapse of the main investor in the project, Babcock & Brown.

So, there are plenty of opportunities to scoff in the fledgling marine industry. But the point is, it is fledgling – there are multiple different technologies still in development, particularly in wave power, and wind and solar have many years and vast amounts of investment on marine.

Sheila McNulty

The oil industry is upset that the Obama Administration is cancelling the royalty-in-kind programme the federal government has long used to tax companies for the development of federal oil and gas resources. Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the national trade organisation, notes that the program collected $6.6bn in oil and gas deliveries in fiscal 2008, as one of the government’s largest sources of non-tax revenue. It does seem strange that the government would pack it in.

But the programme has been riddled with problems. An investigation by the Government Accountability Office said the Minerals Management Service, which oversees the programme, does not provide reasonable assurance it receives its share of gas in the programme, resulting in millions in forgone revenue. The investigation noted that the MMS is owed $21m dollars for past imbalances but lacks the information to calculate the full amount of revenues due; it does not audit gas companies’ production and allocation data, so it cannot verify it is receiving its entitled per centage of gas; MMS has insufficient staff and those it does have are not sufficiently trained.

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

Now, China is the good guy on climate change

What does the airlines’ emissions pledge mean?

The Goldilocks view of oil prices

Boiling oil into backwardation

Further reading:

Companies are worrying about the cost of climate change (Washington Post)

Matthew Yglesias likes Germany’s solar feed-in tariffs (Thinkprogress)

Scientists study sequestration of liquid CO2 (Clean Technica)

Fair carbon is no carbon for rich countries (New Scientists)

Chesapeake bets on higher nat gas prices (BNet)

No climate change leader as nations meet (NY Times)

A truly global climate change agreement would be cheaper (Guardian)

Kate Mackenzie

A lot of oil market analysts and other pundits believe that crude prices will continue rising over the next year or so, as even very small increases in industrial demand will squeeze available supplies. A lot of other analysts, meanwhile, believe crude prices will fall as the world fails to emerge from recession – further squeezing refiners and oil service companies, and depressing investment in future production.

Nomura’s oil analysts however believe prices will remain where they are for the time being.

Kate Mackenzie

If the US, with its climate change legislation facing an uphill battle in Congress, is increasingly looking like the bad guy of climate change negotiations, China is beginning to look like the good guy.

Yesterday the FT reported that the International Energy Agency’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, was full of praise for China’s efforts to reduce its emissions.

Then Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said he expected China would become the “world leader” in climate change efforts, when president Hu Jintao addresses  the UN General Assembly today.

De Boer was aware of the irony. From the FT:

Mr Hu would announce measures that would “take Chinese emissions very significantly away from where they would have been and are”, Yvo de Boer said. It would be “quite ironic”, he added, to hear that “in a country [the US] that is firmly convinced that China is doing nothing to address climate change”.

So what is everyone so excited about? China after all will use those ‘carbon intensity’ commitments to try and avoid committing to binding emissions targets. But China’s right to increase its overall greenhouse gas emissions in the pursuit of growing its economy is virtually uncontested these days. What the developed world wants from China is firm commitments that it will curb, not cut, its emissions. That is, it will lower its emissions growth from they would be under a ‘business as usual’ scenario, by adopting firm commitments to pursue a low-carbon path to economic growth.

By Izabella Kaminska

As can be seen in the chart below from Stephen Schork of the Schork Report on Tuesday, the contango in the WTI Nymex crude market has weakened over the last few weeks:

Contango weakening - Schork Report

A weakening contango, of course, is traditionally seen as a bullish sign for the crude market. If only that were so this time round, however…

Kate Mackenzie

The world’s major airlines, led by trade group IATA, say they will commit to reducing net emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. The industry, according to the Guardian, is driven by a fear that if they don’t volunteer, restrictions will be forced upon them – and indeed a UK government advisory committee called for a compulsory emissions cap just a couple of weeks ago.

However the crucial “baseline” date in the statement is from 2005 levels – that is, whereas Kyoto commitments (and most commitments aimed at Copenhagen) are based on 1990 levels. A later baseline makes the overall target less ambitious.

US-EU rift clouds climate summit
Europeans believe US lacks focus (FT)

UN climate body chief predicts praise for China
Leaders wait to hear if Hu will outline ‘carbon-intensity target’ (FT)

Scientific consensus over emissions’ dire consequences
Studies have heaped on warnings of drastic warming (FT)

Global Insight: Public scepticism takes steam out of climate debate
Climate is particularly polarising issue, writes Clive Cookson (FT)

Bangladeshis live on the edge as sea rises
Scientists believe country is most at risk from global warming (FT)

China’s SWF deepens holdings in commodities
Will invest $850m in Singapore-listed Noble Group (FT)

Oil options hit highs as Verleger predicts 44% plunge
Traders paying more than ever to protect against fall in crude (Bloomberg)

Electric carmaker Tesla and former CEO settle lawsuit
Martin Eberhard had accused current CEO of defamation (Reuters)

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