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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Biomass fuel is adding to global warming

Wood burning

Using biomass as a replacement for coal in electricity generation was a seductive idea a decade or so ago.  Pellets made from scrap timber, sawdust and shavings could be used to fuel our power stations.  And since these came from trees that could be replaced, they were to all intents …

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Fracking toxic spills under-reported

Oil Spill

Up to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured wells accidentally discharge toxic fracking fluid, polluted water and hydrocarbons according to The Engineer: “The analysis, published in Environmental Science & Technology, is said to have identified 6,648 spills recorded across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania over a 10-year period. “The …

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Fracking boss hints at profitability concerns


Speaking at the UK Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester earlier this week, Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan tacitly acknowledged that there was no guarantee that hydraulically fractured UK shale gas would be profitable. In the course of a presentation to promote UK fracking, Egan claimed it would be madness for the …

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UK energy strategy on the edge

Failed energy strategy

Yesterday the UK government were at pains to point out just how important the digital economy is.  According to Gordon Corera at the BBC: “The UK is one of the most digitally dependent economies, with the digital sector estimated to be worth over £118bn per year – which means the …

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Oil and gas discoveries hit rock bottom

Oil Exploration

New oil and gas discoveries have fallen to levels not seen since the 1950s according to Ed Crooks and Andrew Ward in the Financial Times: “There were only 174 oil and gas discoveries worldwide last year, compared to an average of 400-500 per year up until 2013… “The slowdown in …

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Our convenient lie

Fossil Fuel dependency

With the Republicans back in charge of the USA, most environmental campaigners are focused on the damage that might be caused by a bonfire of regulations aimed at regenerating the fossil fuel industry. While these concerns are very real, they also provide a convenient reason not to examine our own …

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What the death of Goldilocks looks like in practice

Modern Economics: Goldilocks is dead

In the Goldilocks children’s story, there is a bowl of porridge that is just right.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Central to modern economics is a similar idea about price.  The law (sic) of supply and demand says that there is always a Goldilocks price point where supply and …

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Fracking is cheap… as long as we don’t actually do it

High-tech fracking rig

Falling oil prices since 2014 devastated the US fracking industry, causing widespread bankruptcies and leaving a trail of ghost towns in their wake.  But according to the companies that are still standing, technological improvements have brought the cost of fracking down to the point that they can turn a profit …

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The elephant that killed Western democracy

Killer Elephant

Across the Western world, centrist political parties and their supporters are like punch-drunk boxers, reeling from a series of near-knockout blows.  First there was the British (i.e. English and Welsh) decision to leave the European Union.  Then came the ‘impossible’ election of President Donald Trump.  Then there was the less …

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