Category Archives: Energy technologies

The global financial crisis and the prospects for ‘Green Growth’

The global financial crisis offers a big opportunity for progressive politicians to reenergise the green agenda.” (Source: Policy Network)

British energy expert Dieter Helm provides a good analysis of why EU climate policy has failed to make a difference but his plea for "green growth" suffers from technology optimism and belief in the overhyped gas eldorado.

From the outset Kyoto made Europe look good¬—and hence could be presented as a political “success”.  But much was “smoke and mirrors”. Europe has been exiting energy intensive industries, and these have moved to developing countries like China. … But sadly reducing carbon production in Europe does not — and has not — made much difference to global emissions. Europe just imports the carbon instead – so carbon consumption replaced carbon production.” …

None of the existing technologies are likely to meet the decarbonisation challenge. There simply is not enough land and shallow water for wind or biofuels to make a difference. Current renewables just can’t do it. So we need future renewables, and the good news is that on the technology front there are lots and lots of opportunities. What Europe should do is take some of the hundreds of billions being spent on current expensive renewables and spend it on the future renewables and technologies — on things like the next generation of solar, on batteries, on smart information systems, electric cars and on a host of new concepts.”

The Frozen Frontier: Is Shell Ready For The Risks Of Arctic Drilling?

A new report by Ceres shows that oil and gas companies are not doing enough to manage offshore drilling risks and disclose their efforts to investors.” (Source: Forbes)

Forbes is one of the few media paying attention to this interesting new report on offshore and Arctic drilling for oil and gas.

Extract from this must-read article:

A new report by Ceres shows that oil and gas companies—Shell included—are not doing enough to manage offshore drilling risks and disclose their efforts to investors. The report, Sustainable Extraction?, examines risk disclosure in SEC filings submitted in the first quarter of 2011 by 10 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. It finds that out of 50 deepwater risk disclosure scores on key metrics including spill response procedures and drilling risk management, only four scores were good, and 29 (nearly 60 percent) were poor or no disclosure.

This striking lack of disclosure makes it nearly impossible for investors to understand how companies are managing the range of potential drilling risks.  And investors are already wary.

Lloyd’s, the world’s largest insurance market, cautions that “the Arctic is a frontier unlike any other” that will “remain a complex risk environment.” In its Arctic Opening report, Lloyd’s highlights geographic remoteness, ongoing changes to the environment as a result of climate change and extreme weather as key risk factors of offshore drilling in the Arctic.”

How renewables will change electricity markets in the next five years

Photovoltaic (PV) cells, onshore wind turbines, internet technologies, and storage technologies have the potential to fundamentally change electricity markets in the years ahead. Photovoltaic cells are the most disruptive energy technology as they allow consumers of all sizes to produce power by themselves—new actors in the power market can begin operating with a new bottom-up control logic. Unsubsidised PV markets may start to take off in 2013, fuelling substantial growth where PV power is getting cheaper than grid or diesel backup electricity for commercial consumers.”

Good overview of the potential of renewables in the science magazine Energy.

The nukes of hazard: – not safety but exploding costs will be the demise of nuclear

We need to start aggressively deploying all forms of carbon-free power if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming, starting with the lowest cost ones. That’s what makes the events of March 12, 2011 so tragic.”  

Great piece by Joe Romm on his Climate Progress blog about the future of nuclear. Nuclear power is too costly to be a major climate solution.

The dream that failed

A year after Fukushima, the future for nuclear power is not bright—for reasons of cost as much as safety”.  

The Economist has an excellent critical dossier on the tough future for nuclear energy.

Sensible or sinister? The growth of ‘smart’ thinking

“Smart technology could help speed us towards a sustainable, low carbon economy but gaining public trust on data usage will be crucial, says Trewin Restorick…” (Source: The Guardian)

Surely, "smart" technology could win us some time but the smartest thing would be to finally get smart on the existence of ecological and social limits to economic growth and re-engineer our societies accordingly.

New study paints rosy future for grid-scale energy storage in UK

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance study finds that rapid falls in the price of technology and appropriate regulatory support could create a significant opportunity for the use of storage in the electricity network.  

Excellent news for all renewable energy fans. 

Another extract from the press release:

The study says that while niche markets for energy storage are already viable in the UK today, mainly to relieve bottlenecks in the transmission and distribution of power, more substantial penetration of energy storage within the grid system will become economic within the next five years. However, the report also points out that the key to the successful roll‐out of energy storage within the UK electricity system in the next few years will be putting in place an appropriate regulatory framework ‐ something
that has not yet been achieved
”.

Clean-Energy Investment Rises to $260B

“Renewable energy investment rose 5 percent to a record $260 billion last year driven by a surge in solar developments and increased spending in the U.S., Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Despite the economic and financial crisis, the Solyndra collapse in the US and reduced government subsidies, the renewables sector continues its growth. That said, Europe risks losing its leadership position as Chinese competition is driving jobs out of the old continent.

Shale Gas Industry Using PsyOps Tactics Tested in Iraq

In an attempt to convince wary local populations of the benefits of shale gas exploration, several US energy companies are employing former soldiers with psychological warfare experience learned in Iraq.” 

Social media news site OWNI.EU has this worrying  article on the use of strange communication strategies to break public opposition to shale gas fracking.

Greening the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank can help countries worldwide to make vital progress on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions at a time when political solutions based on international agreement remain elusive.  

Manana Kochladze of  CEE Bankwatch Network on the EIB’s investments in fossil fuel projects

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