India’s Nuclear Power Corporation is a sleepy public utility that runs 17 atomic plants not very efficiently. Last year, it made headlines for the wrong reasons, when an act of apparent sabotage at one plant put the whole country on high alert. Prime minister Manmohan Singh also frequently laments that Asia’s third largest economy only produces just 3 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power.
Areva, France’s state-owned nuclear power company, wants to change all that. Amid a $9bn deal with NPCIL, it has big ambitions for the Indian giant, possibly bigger than the company has for itself. It’s offering NPCIL investment opportunities in its global mining operations, which span more than half a dozen countries from Niger to Kazakhstan.
In the UK’s first ever annual energy statement, Chris Huhne, UK energy and climate change secretary, asked researchers, industry experts and members of the public a series of questions about the country’s energy priorities. The answers to these questions, he announced, will help form the basis of Britain’s pathway to energy security by the year 2050.
In line with David Cameron’s “Big Society” idea, the annual statement is accompanied by a “Call for evidence” and a software, essentially an excel spreadsheet, which models energy supply and demand to show alternative energy policy scenarios. The package is the government’s attempt to raise public support for the upcoming energy policy that will be announced later in the year.
But the spreadsheet currently does not contain any information on costs of any of the technologies, which is essential for the decision-making process that would shape public opinion on the subject. This crucial omission makes the tool ineffective for policy-makers and members of the public seeking to engage with Britain’s energy policy.
Matt Simmons, who described BP’s operation to cap its leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico as the “biggest environmental cover-up ever”, is not the only one circulating alarming ideas about the spill.
The drama of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has captivated many, and the mix of methane gas in the oil leak has made perfect fodder for doomsday theories and rumours. Some of these have turned out to be true, such as the contention that the actual size of the leak was much greater than BP and the US authorities were at first admitting. Others, we can now safely say, were simply implausible. Most of them involved methane gas and extinction in the same sentence.
Here’s a sample of the most far-fetched ones:
Oliver Stone’s new documentary, South of the Border, features new and emerging South American leaders from 7 countries that have nationalised their natural resources and “given them back to the people”. These leaders, in Stone’s portrayal, are champions of the poor and their rights having raised people out of poverty and improving living standards by using natural resources based income for pro-poor reforms.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday morning, Stone rejected the criticism that his documentary is “unrelenting positive” of Chavez who has a record of political intimidation domestically and maintains friendly relationships with some of the most oppressive regimes in the world including the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Libyan leader Colonel Muammer Gaddafi.
Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, of which Shell is a sponsor, Joe Leimkuhler and John Hollowell of Shell Upstream Americas explained the engineering behind deep-sea oil drilling.
In this informative and clear presentation (watch video below: provided courtesy of Aspen Ideas Festival) Mr. Leimkuhler details best off-shore drilling practices in the industry. He highlights, in a side by side comparison with Shell’s own design, how BP’s Macondo well lacked crucial fail-safe safety mechanisms, which according to him, comprise Shell’s global standards in offshore drilling.
In response to the US authorities’ efforts in seeking a moratorium on all deepwater drilling, Mr. Leimkuhler defended Shell’s wells and called on a moratorium on off-shore drilling using the cheaper “long string” design wells, like the Macondo Well. These currently account for 26 percent of all off-shore wells that have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico since 2003, including two that Shell has drilled itself.
The presentation is part of a concerted effort by Shell to advertise its offshore drilling safety standards, and to differentiate itself from BP.
When the Alaskan communities expressed concern over the safety of offshore drilling standards, Pete Slaiby, the vice-president of Shell Alaska told the BBC:
“The Gulf of Mexico may have been a wake-up call for some but not for Shell”
A week after the Muir enquiry recommended greater openness in the science of climate change, the government launched a Google Earth Map layer which shows the impact of a 4° C temperature rise in the world including food and water pressures as well links to research outputs of prominent climate change scientists. The move will be welcomed by many, as it will allow the public a new opportunity to explore the uncertainty in climate science.
The Google map layer was launched by the UK Foreign Office in collaboration with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Greenpeace, working in partnership with the German Aerospace centre(DLR), released a report detailing an “energy revolution” which it believes demonstrates that an 80 per cent cut in the emissions of Europe-27 (27 member countries of the European Union) countries is not only plausible, but it will also make Europe a role model for the rest of the world.
This report follows an announcement by the German Environmental Agency earlier in the week where it suggested that Germany could derive all of its electricity from renewables by the year 2050.
The report details two scenarios – the energy revolution and the advanced energy revolution – requiring different levels of investment to deliver an 80 to 95 percent cut in emissions respectively while creating jobs and providing energy security for Europe.