Monday, March 31, 2014

I see the IPCC, and I see a failure...

Another IPCC report is out and indicators are that we still know what we knew.  
Which has the entitled climate elites madder than hell, particularly with people like Bjorn Lomborg who continues to point out non-entitled people present a bigger priority ... as does Copenhagen Consensus alumnus, and IPCC participant, Richard Tol

Humans are a tough and adaptable species. People live on the equator and in the Arctic, in the desert and in the rainforest. We survived the ice ages with primitive technologies. The idea that climate change poses an existential threat to humankind is laughable.
Climate change will have consequences, of course. Since different plants and animals thrive in different climates, it will affect natural ecosystems and agriculture. Warmer and wetter weather will advance the spread of tropical diseases. Seas will rise, putting pressure on all that lives on the coast. These impacts sound alarming but they need to be put in perspective before we draw conclusions about policy.
...Cutting emissions is not the only way to reduce the impacts of climate change. Adaptation and development are alternatives. But these trade-offs are rarely discussed. More than 15 per cent of all development aid is now spent on attempts to prevent climate change. Is that the best way to help the intended beneficiaries? Or does it reflect the donors’ priorities?

NJ contends rolling blackouts possible without subsidized power plants

New Jersey joins Maryland as states wanting to get new generation constructed, but being prevented from providing subsudies to make that happen.

NJ contends rolling blackouts possible without subsidized power plants |
New Jersey still faces potential rolling blackouts because of a shortage of generating capacity, making its plans to subsidize new power plants essential, a state lawyer said.

The state’s Board of Public Utilities on Thursday urged the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to resurrect the law that makes subsidies possible, saying the federal judge who struck it down as unconstitutional was mistaken. The plan, signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in January 2011, could cost state households and businesses $2.1 billion over 15 years, according to the board.

The “law was enacted to solve a very important problem, to provide safe, reliable and more environmentally friendly power to the citizens of New Jersey,” Richard Engel, a lawyer for the utilities board, told the three-judge panel. “There still is a great concern if we don’t do something.”

New Jersey is among states grappling with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over the limits of state and U.S. authorities’ powers in overseeing power generation plants and wholesale market prices. A similar case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., over subsidized power generation in Maryland.
Continue reading at

My opinion is states - or PJM - should be buying/subsidizing old plant for emergency reserve purposes, with unsubsidized markets participants (including CDM) setting the rules for when that reserve can operate. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Energy Facts of the Day from Earth's Energy

A lot of fresh information from a couple of posts at - providing an excuse to plug the site.

Energy Facts of the Day (Part 1) | Earth's Energy:
This year the US is on course to enjoy its third straight year of record coal exports. Europe is the biggest target market, where demand is strong and, as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, likely to grow further.

Japan is on a path to increase its carbon-dioxide emissions because, with its nuclear power plants still shut down, it is shifting to coal imports from more expensive liquefied natural gas to produce electricity.
In an attempt to curb energy consumption, China will raise natural gas prices by the end of 2015 for the 20% of residential consumers who consume the most energy. The heaviest consumers will pay around 1.5 times a base rate for household use gas while a second tier will pay 1.2 times the base rate.
BYD’s second-generation Dual-Mode, plug-in hybrid electric sedan is now China’s best-selling electric vehicle according to China’s National Passenger Car Association.
 ...from Part 2
The International Energy Agency reports nearly 1.3 billion people, or 18% of the world population, lacked access to electricity in 2011. The world’s population is currently at 7 billion.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

From Bad to Worse:Kochs to Steyers, May to Green, RPJ to Krugman/Mann

Villains and other villains, and press wars, and useful idiots.

The blog has been quiet - probably due to a combination of an interminably long winter locally and far too many related articles which are interesting not particularly because to the content, but because of the fight.
To honour 'earth hour' appropriately - here's some nastiness.

Re: the weather.  Saw a Tom Burke article in the Guardian only because it starts with that great political quote on what sets agendas: "Events, dear boy, events."  Burke figures extreme weather have put climate change back on some agendas.

The weather is setting my mood, if not my agenda.  I made an outdoor rink for several years - each year hoping that maybe weather would permit it before the Christmas holidays (it didn't) - hoping some freak warm spell wouldn't wipe it out in January (usually did) ... and that maybe it would hold on through the kids' March school break (never happened). This year our local temperature went below freezing about 3 weeks into November, and the river is still frozen over with about 2 feet of snow on the ground.

Burke ain't appealing to me today.
Bring the heat.

Things that have my attention 1: WaPo/Powerline (Steiner/Koch?) and May/Green

The Washington Post ran an article on March 20th, by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin with the enormous title, "The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers." I won't quote from it, because apparently it was very poor - assuming as factual statements in a short report from a wingnut group, taken from the same group's report the prior year.

When I say wingnut I mean their works of the past few years, broken down to single word summaries, are: Koch, Billionaires, Kochs, Billionaires, nuclear, climate.

You know the type

Friday, March 28, 2014

EON to Close Atomic Reactor in BMW’s Backyard 7 Months Early

Bavaria is: 50% nuclear, inhospitable (politically) to wind but very much into solar.
It is the richest state and, not unrelated, it is the state with the greatest positive balance from renewable energy (rich Bavarians receive more for their contract solar production than Bavarians pay in EEG charges).  

EON to Close Atomic Reactor in BMW’s Backyard 7 Months Early (1) - Businessweek:
EON SE (EOAN) wants to shutter a nuclear plant in Bavaria seven months ahead of schedule, cutting power capacity in the home of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Siemens AG as Germany’s biggest utility tries to save money.
EON notified the Bundesnetzagentur regulator and the grid operator of its plan to close the 1,275-megawatt plant at the end of May 2015 “because of its lack of profitability,” the Dusseldorf-based utility said in a statement.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chinese scientists urged to develop new thorium nuclear reactors by 2024

"The problem of coal has become clear. If the average energy consumption per person doubles, this country will be choked to death by polluted air"
Chinese scientists urged to develop new thorium nuclear reactors by 2024 | South China Morning Post:
Image from source article
The deadline to develop a new design of nuclear power plant has been brought forward by 15 years as the central government tries to reduce the nation's reliance on smog-producing coal-fired power stations.
A team of scientists in Shanghai had originally been given 25 years to try to develop the world's first nuclear plant using the radioactive element thorium as fuel rather than uranium, but they have now been told they have 10, the researchers said.
"In the past the government was interested in nuclear power because of the energy shortage. Now they are more interested because of smog," said Professor Li Zhong, a scientist working on the project.
Premier Li Keqiang told the national legislature in Beijing on March 5 that the government had declared "war on pollution", and measures to tackle the problem included closing coal-fired power stations. About 70 per cent of China's electricity was produced by coal-fired plants last year, according to government figures. Nuclear power stations generated just over 1 per cent.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bleak outlooks on Bio-energy and CCS

Here's some light electricity generation related reading from the past week.

George Monbiot's The Biogas Disaster is a must read for the unlucky who missed Will Boisvert's extraordinary Harmonic Destrucion: How Greens Justify Bioenergy's Assault on Nature when it was release a month ago, and a nice companion for those who did.
Monbiot: There could scarcely be a better formula for subverting everything biogas is supposed to achieve.
The first and most obvious problem is that it means taking land out of food production. ...
... the area of maize being grown for biogas in the UK has trebled – to 15,000 hectares – just in the past two years, and is likely to rise to 25,000 hectares next year. This is an astonishing rate of growth. If, as the National Farmers Union (NFU) advocates, 1000 medium-sized biogas plants are built by 2020, and maize supplements the slurry and manure they process, that will mean the use of between 100,000 and 125,000 hectares.
So when you hear the NFU insisting that we cannot remove even the most barren land (such as hills which can support only one sheep on every two hectares) from farming for the purpose of rewilding and flood prevention, because that might have an impact on our food supply, remember that the same organisation wants 100,000 hectares of the best land in Britain to be taken out of food growing and used instead for gas.
But it gets worse, because maize farming could scarcely be better designed to cause soil erosion, compaction and run-off, which threaten the fertility of the land, the health of our freshwater ecosystems and the homes at risk from flooding.
 Chris Goodall's Maize in anaerobic digesters: Is Monbiot right? demonstrates that yes, he is.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Elementary considerations: Who should be involved in primary school curriculum

A happy coincidence resulted in me seeing a furor erupt over oil and gas industry involvement in developing a school curriculum in Alberta along with an explanation an industry would do so, from a company that moved it's manufacturing out of Ontario to North Carolina.
“If we’re going to build a relevant education system, we need the voice of the employer, the business community, economic development — we need those people at the table.” - Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson
Critics raise concerns over oil industry involvement in Alberta curriculum redesign | Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Critics say they’re worried about the direction of Alberta’s massive overhaul of school curriculum after it was revealed Tuesday major oil companies are being consulted on changes.
A document posted to the Alberta Education website indicates companies such as Syncrude Canada, Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy are included among partners “in helping draft Alberta’s future curriculum for our students” from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Specifically, Syncrude and Suncor are listed under a working group being led by the Edmonton public school board in the K-to-3 redesign.
NDP education critic Deron Bilous, who raised the issue Tuesday in the legislature, said it is “shocking and very concerning” that oil and gas companies could have a hand in shaping the curriculum taught to kindergarten students.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are Bavarian EEG Demands threatening Germany's Energy Transition?

This, regarding the energiewende progressing, is interesting

"...Bavaria in particular demands a cap on the EEG surcharge with which consumers pay for the difference between the feed-in tariffs paid pursuant to the EEG for renewable energy and the sale of the energy at the EPEX Spot power exchange by the transmission system operators (TSOs). Once the cap is reached, the Bavarian government wants to put a stop to the promotion of renewable energy...
The EEG surcharge currently amounts to 6.24 ct/kWh. A cap at around 8 ct/kWh should be discussed, Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer (CSU) told the paper..." 
This is a little rich coming from Bavaria.  The Texas of Germany's states is the largest net beneficiary of the country's renewable energy scheming.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Never-Ending Energy Transitions

Some articles I've read.  The first I got to via the Earth's Energy blog, which had this quote of the day:'
Right now is probably the most everything-goes moment in energy choices that the world has ever known. We’re simultaneously splitting atoms, wood, and hydrocarbons. We’re tapping the heat of the planet and harnessing its wind and waves. We are harvesting sunshine, squeezing fuel out of corn and sugar cane, and fracturing shale. We’re pouring billions of dollars and the best minds in science into fusion projects around the world. We are making progress with energy efficiency. We’re all over the map.
– John Yemma, editor-at-large, The Christian Science Monitor in The never-ending energy transition
I enjoyed this from Mr. Yemma's article:
A friend who lives in the historical district of a historical town wants to put solar panels on her roof. To her, it’s a practical decision with a nice environmental benefit. Home Depot signed her up. The panels seem to blend in with the black shingles on the side of her house; her roof is high; neighboring houses are close. It’s hard to see how the installation would disrupt the street’s ambiance. In the mock-ups, it’s hard to see the panels at all. But the local historical commission has twice ruled that solar panels are not in keeping with the early-American character of the street.
I’m not here to argue her case or to criticize a citizens’ board that is trying to preserve a street’s historical legacy. The commissioners might be right. My friend might be right. What’s interesting to me is the selective cropping we do when it comes to energy and other modern conveniences. Overhead wires hang like bunting on her street. Cars snug up to the curbs. Mercury vapor lights loom overhead. A generous eye could see a kind of Ashcan School beauty in all of that overlapping infrastructure, but if you were looking for early America you would need to be extremely aggressive at cropping.
Infrastructure isn’t pretty...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Emergency electricity – U.K. on verge of strategic reserve

I think the financial Post's Nick Butler could have this one wrong overall, but he makes a number of pertinent points in reporting the U.K. is about to choose a strategic reserve model for ensuring sufficient electricity supply at all times.

Emergency electricity – here come the Green Goddesses | Nick Butler:
Older UK readers will remember the green goddesses – fire engines held in reserve for moments of national emergency. At the height of a crisis army drivers would maintain an essential service. Well lo and behold some new green goddesses are to be created as the Government launches its “emergency electricity reserve”.
...who will invest in capacity which might only be used 10 or 20 per cent of the time. ?
After much agonising and hundreds of notes an answer has emerged from Whitehall.
The Government will invest. Under the energy legislation this is close to impossible and so in a lovely sleight of hand worthy of Yes Minister the investment will be labelled as a matter of national security. The details are not yet all fully agreed but the current plan is for up to a dozen stations which are currently mothballed to be re-commissioned. These will be gas fired but some argue for including coal as well. They will be controlled by National Grid to avoid any suggestion that the Government is enriching the energy companies. The remit is to create a strategic electricity reserve for use if we ever get close to a brown out.
That might sound sensible but the plan starts to break down as soon as you get to the detail. Power stations cannot be switched on and off at will. ... Then there is the gas supply issue. To have stations ready to go onstream requires a guaranteed gas supply.... The gas market is not very liquid – most gas is supplied on long term contracts – and take or pay deals of this sort will leave a lot of gas which is unwanted most of the time. That will be destabilise the market. Unless, of course, the Government intends to hold its own permanent gas stocks ...
Read the entire article at the Financial Times

Environmental Groups are Flirting with Extinction

Environmental Groups are Flirting with Extinction - Collide-a-Scape |
The green movement is not aging well. Like today’s U.S. Republican Party, it has a diversity problem and speaks primarily to a narrow, graying demographic slice of the United States."
Image from Wonkblog

...some suggest that environmentalism’s core philosophy is outdated. Perhaps the latest results from a Pew survey will move greens to focus on their predicament. Pew found that those born after 1980–known as Millennials–are much less likely to identify with environmentalism than other age groups. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog has a nice overview and graphic [shown at side] of the Pew Survey.

Kloor's article, a nice short read, veers away from discussing ethnic diversity and deals mainly with the demographics of age.  The referenced Wonkblog article concentrates on millennials.  A different Wonkblog article indicates, to me, that millenials are substantially more conscious of diversity:
Nearly seven in 10 Millennials back same-sex marriage, more than 10 points higher than any other generation — and 30 points higher than the Silent Generation...
...Millenials are also more likely to say that more mixed-race marriages and more gay and lesbian couples raising children are good things for American society.
More than half of Millennials, 55 percent, say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship, while another 25 percent say the undocumented should be allowed to stay and apply for permanent residency.
I'm still not clear what's unique to young adults now as opposed to at other periods - but I do think the lack of diversity of "environmental" groups is one issue in not attracting younger supporters.

I am unaware of any  progress on diversifying personnel, and opinion, in Toronto's "green" web since I wrote Green is the Old White nearly two years ago.  One recently held event, the Canadian Energy Innovation Summit (CEIS 2014), featured some of the same characters I noted in that article (they haven't accomplished anything in the interim), and all of the same lack of diversity.  

CEIS 2014 Image from Twitter's #CEIS2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hydropower for Me But Not for Thee

extraordinary; on "green" hypocrisy lessening the influence of older wealthy nations in developing areas of the world

Hydropower for Me But Not for Thee | Center For Global Development:
One of the great divides between the rich and poor worlds is the access to electricity. As Todd Moss has noted, consumption of electricity by a standard single-family American refrigerator is ten times the consumption of electricity by the average Ethiopian. An equally great divide is the use of hydropower. In most rich countries over 80% of economically-viable hydropower potential is tapped; in Africa, the comparable figure is under 5%. Many African countries are, accordingly, giving high priority to developing hydropower as a source of cheap, clean energy. But to tap this energy, they need assistance from external private and public partners. Historically the World Bank and other international finance institutions have played a major role...
Into this picture steps Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 contains a legislative provision authored by Senator Leahy seeking to prohibit the construction of hydroelectric dams in poor countries: “Section 7060(c)(7)(D). The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director of each international financial institution that it is the policy of the United States to oppose any loan, grant, strategy or policy of such institution to support the construction of any large hydroelectric dam.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

Trailblazing Saskatchewan power plant is first to bury its carbon... and biomass news

Saskatchewan's Boundary Dam CCS project is getting some attention - I think deserved - as it nears completion.

Trailblazing power plant is first to bury its carbon - environment - 05 March 2014 - New Scientist:
RISING above the endless plains of Saskatchewan, Canada's Boundary Dam power plant looks like any other: giant boxes, tall red-and-white striped chimneys, and a mess of pipes and power lines.

But appearances can be deceptive. In the coming months, it will become the first power plant to suck the carbon dioxide out of its flue before the gas reaches the air. It is blazing the trail for carbon capture and storage (CCS) around the world. Not bad for Canada's largest coal power plant.

Each year, Unit 3 of SaskPower's Boundary Dam plant emits 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. But from this summer, 90 per cent of that CO2 will never see the light of day. Instead, the gas will be piped to the nearby Weyburn oilfield and Deadwater saline aquifer, and pumped several kilometres underground.

"The resulting 110 megawatts of power produced will be some of the world's most environmentally clean power from fossil fuels," says SaskPower'sRobert Watson.
Reading the entire article at New Scientist is worth the time.  It was referenced to me in exchanging comments on Facebook.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Frigid U.S. Weather Means Highest Power Prices Since ’08

There's some truth to the idea that the worst has passed once the mainstream media picks up on a story.

The impact of scarce stores of natural gas (I'm guessing far less so for coal) will continue - perhaps for many months and especially if the exceptionally cold winter is followed by an exceptionally warm summer, but ... the price of gas at the hub relevant to Ontario (Dawn) has dropped steeply the past couple of days.

Frigid U.S. Weather Means Highest Power Prices Since ’08: Energy - Bloomberg:
Freezing temperatures gripping the eastern U.S. will result in the highest electricity prices in six years for consumers in Boston, Dallas and San Francisco.

Supplies of natural gas and coal will decline to six-year lows by the end of this month, government data show. The fuels are used to generate 67 percent of the country’s electricity. Wholesale power for use from April through June in New England traded at an average of $62.15 a megawatt-hour yesterday, 26 percent more than a year earlier and the highest for the period since 2008, according to IntercontinentalExchange and broker data compiled by Bloomberg.
Continue reading at Bloomberg

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Poverty of the Energiewende

by Vaclav Smil

The Poverty of the Energiewende:

What I find really remarkable is that so little attention has been given to an aspect of die Energiewende that is no less perverse than increased greenhouse gas emissions: indeed, that curiously overlooked reality is inimical to the animus of left-leaning green and socialist parties (the latter one now in the government) — and yet both of them chose to promote the shift, and they still keep silent in this critical regard.
The matter has been overlooked because most people are not aware of some surprisingly large differences in the rate of homeownership among high-income economies. The aggregate U.S. rate is about 65 percent, the UK rate is nearly identical, and the rates in Spain and Italy are about 80 percent — but the latest statistics show that only 43 percent German families own their home. What is even more noteworthy is the distribution of homeownership according to disposable income. In the United States, nearly 90 percent of households in the last quartile own their homes, and the rate is still 50 percent in the lowest quartile, while the corresponding German rates are just over 60 percent and barely over 20 percent. Of course, homeowners have been able, for two decades, to take advantage of state subsidies and a guaranteed high price for electricity generated from their homes, essentially an effortless income for homeowners with enough initial capital to plaster their roofs with PV panels.
Renters (without roofs and often with no initial capital) cannot enjoy benefits available to their richer compatriots, but they are not exempt from paying rising electricity prices. All households pay them, but the richer ones can offset them in part by selling their surplus electricity to the grid. Large companies, however, are exempt from the burden of rising prices — a decision taken to keep Daimler, Volkswagen, Siemens, Hoechst, and ThyssenKrupp competitive. Thus we have a nearly perfectly socially regressive scheme in which the poorest segment of the society bears a disproportionate burden of an innovation that benefits many wealthier citizens and that leaves corporate accounts largely intact.
Read Vaclav Smil's full article at The Breakthrough Institute:

Ontario's Wholesale Electricity Rates at Record levels

In the news ... attention given to Ontario's higher electricity rates by a reporter, and by a politician

Hydro prices soar in cold weather | The Toronto Star
The current cold snap is pushing Ontario electricity prices into record territory.
Three of the five highest-priced days recorded on Ontario’s wholesale electricity market have occurred since the onset of cold weather late last week.
Saturday’s average daily price of 24.96 cents a kilowatt hour set a new record, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator [IESO], which runs the market.
Monday’s average of 22.5 cents a kilowatt hour is the second-highest on record, according to the IESO, and Friday’s average price also hit the top five, at 22.2 cents a kwh.
The cold weather is behind the high prices, as Alexandra Campbell of the IESO.
“I would say high electricity demand, and high demand for gas generation,” she said when asked about the rising prices.
The day the article was written is now the highest priced day of the market, with the weighted Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) averaging $277.89/MWh) - so 4 of the 5 highest daily average prices in the history of the Ontario market have occurred over the past 5 days.

CANDUs with 80 year operating life!

Astute readers of Ontario's "Long-term energy plan" raised an eyebrow at the refurbishment schedule.
Mr. Jones seems explains what's happening here ...

CANDUs with 80 year operating life! – 2014 March | The Don Jones Articles:
According to Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan the last nuclear unit to be refurbished will be Bruce unit 8 with its refurb scheduled to start in 2028. Since this unit was brought into service in 1987 it means it would have operated for 41 years before its mid-life refurbishment. Bruce unit 5 would have operated for 37 years before its refurb and units 6 and 7 for 40 years. Conventional wisdom calls for refurbishment at 25-30 years. "
The pressure tube life for a CANDU 6 unit was originally predicted to be 210,000 Equivalent Full Power Hours (EFPH) or 30 years at an 80 percent capacity factor. Point Lepreau had operated for 25 years with a life time capacity factor of 79.5 percent (based on CANDU Owners Group data in the 2009 Nuclear Canada Yearbook produced by the Canadian Nuclear Association) when the unit went into its refurb outage in 2008 accumulating 174,105 EFPH. For Wolsong unit 1 the most life limiting aging mechanism based on regular inspections was found to be pressure tube axial elongation, expected at around 190,000 EFPH. With a lifetime capacity factor of 84.1 percent Wolsong 1 reached this limit in 2009 and went into its refurb outage. Gentilly 2 had run for 29 years up to 2012 December, when it was permanently shutdown, at a lifetime capacity factor of 76.9 percent so it had accumulated 195,356 EFPH by that time.

Now getting back to the Bruce B units. Bruce B would have had the same 210,000 EFPH prediction as CANDU 6 units since they went into service around the same time in the early 1980s. Up to 2012 December Bruce B had a four unit average lifetime capacity factor of 83.3 percent and Bruce unit 8 had a lifetime capacity factor of 82.6 percent meaning it had accumulated 180,894 EFPH by the end of 2012 after 25 years of operation. Extrapolating this to 2028, the start of refurbishment, at an assumed capacity factor of 80 percent, means it would accumulate an additional 112,128 EFPH for a grand total of 293,022 EFPH, substantially more than 210,000 EFPH.
Read the entire article at The Don Jones Articles

Note: Donald Jones is one of the reasons this blog exists - and the entire reason I created another specifically for his writings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero

This is the energy story on the winter, and this, from Robert Rapier, is the best article I've seen on it.
My fellow Ontarians should know the situation appears to be worse here, from my perspective observing the electricity market which is now setting price records whenever gas-fired generators are required.

Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero:
...a typical winter season will see just over 2 tcf pulled out of storage — an amount equivalent to about 10 percent of annual US natural gas production.
In the case of a mild winter as in 2012, inventories won’t be pulled down as much before they begin to rebuild. In fact, the winter of 2011-2012 failed to pull gas inventories below 2 tcf for the first time in over 20 years. It wasn’t a coincidence that this corresponded to natural gas prices that went below $2 per million Btu (MMBtu) the following month, and spent a full year below $4 per million Btu (MMBtu).
Presently, the exact opposite is happening. This season’s withdrawal marks the fastest inventory depletion on record during the winter months. We have already withdrawn 2.4 tcf — more than the average for most winters — and we are likely 4-6 weeks away from the bottom. If withdrawals continue at the current pace, the inventory level would reach zero the week of March 28th (see the figure below), which is usually around the time inventories start to recover. This may lead to more spiking prices in the weeks ahead, but more importantly it will probably support higher than normal natural gas prices for the rest of the year.
Regardless of what happens over the next 6 weeks, natural gas inventories will probably bottom out at the lowest level on record. The current lowest inventory level on record took place on April 11, 2003 at 642 billion cubic feet (bcf).

Clean Energy needs less regulation, not more: Liebreich

"Michael Liebreich is founder and CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance"
From some entertaining exchanges on Twitter between Malthusian Machiavellians and what they seem to be calling "Neocon Brits" I stumbled onto a commentary by Liebreich in the recently released Responsibility & Resilience: What the Environment means to Conservatives
Feed-in tariffs are nothing less than state price controls.  Renewable energy targets are indistinguishable from Soviet five year plans. Over-regulation and complex planning requirements add costs, slow down projects, reduce transparency and increase risk. Green Investment Banks are the very embodiment of state capital allocation.  Capacity payments and carbon price floors are evidence of failure in the design of markets. Don’t get me started on price caps.
We have seen the results of these approaches. Germany may have reached over 25% renewable electricity, but at what excessive cost to its household energy users? Spain reached 42%, but its retro-active policy U-turns have left its entire economy all but uninvestable. Around the world the energy industry – fossil fuels as well as clean energy – is in the grip of a pandemic of rent-seeking, subsidy-farming, inefficiency, misallocation of resources, and the inevitable picking of losers. 
The entire publication is available from the Conservative Environment Network (.pdf - quote here is from page 61)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Household Energy Spending in the UK, 2002-2012

From the U.K. Office for National Statistics, on the regressive nature of increasing energy costs.

Full Report: Household Energy Spending in the UK, 2002-2012 - ONS:

Household Energy Spending: 7 things you should know
Image from source article

1. UK households spent an average of £106 a month on household energy in 2012. This was a 55% rise on the 2002 monthly spend, after accounting for inflation. This is despite a decline in average energy usage.
UK households spent an average of £106 a month on electricity, gas and other household fuels1 in 2012. This compares to £69 a month in 2002, after adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This means there was a 55% increase in average household spending on energy between 2002 and 2012.
Over this same time period, household energy use has fallen, with figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showing that the average amount of energy used per household was 17% lower in 2012 than in 2002. This means the increase in the average amount households are spending is explained solely by rises in energy prices.
2. Average household spending on gas increased 56%, while average spending on electricity increased 43%...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our Retail Electricity Bill Just Killed Our Summer Vacation

Should protection from ignorance kill consumer choice?

Our Retail Electricity Bill Just Killed Our Summer Vacation:
What would you do if a salesperson came to your door offering you the opportunity to gamble on weather derivatives – financial contracts based on the weather?  You could bet on rainfall (farmers) or snowfall (ski areas do it). Or you could bet on temperature. If it’s a warm winter, you win.  A cold one?  You lose.  Not many ordinary people would probably take that bet – it’s too unfamiliar, maybe too risky, and far beyond their comfort zone. Might as well go to Vegas.
Well, it turns out that hundreds and maybe thousands of people did unknowingly take a similar bet this winter in the northeastern U.S,. and they lost big time.
...customers’ wallets got badly dented, and the pain is evident. Here are justtwo letters that the informative website Energy Choice Matters pulled from various social media sites:
Thanks to your price gouging, we (a family of 4 with 2 hard-working parents) will not purchase our tickets to a summer amusement park because we now can’t afford it. We will, instead pay our, 4.5 times more than usual power bill. Thanks for screwing the hard-working middle class yet again! 

Reasons for U.K. to freeze carbon tax

"A senior renewable industry source said compensation would be “appropriate”"
Taxation polices that don't attract investment but increase consumer costs might be inappropriate.

Wind farm earnings hit by plans to freeze carbon tax - Telegraph:
Wind farm owners across Britain will earn tens of millions of pounds less than expected because of plans by the Government to freeze the carbon tax. Solar farm, biomass and nuclear plant owners will also see future earnings cut by the change, widely expected to be announced in the Budget later this month.

The carbon tax was announced in the 2011 Budget and came into effect last year, with the aim of encouraging new green power plants. It sets a “floor” for the price of burning carbon each year.

The tax has the effect of pushing up the wholesale market price for electricity — increasing profits for renewable and nuclear generators who do not have to pay it.

Critics say it has been insufficient to attract investment, but has handed windfall profits to green plants built before it was introduced. Most damagingly, it makes UK manufacturers increasingly uncompetitive and pushes up consumer energy bills – adding £5 in 2013, rising to £50 by 2020.