Thursday , August 16 2018
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Is it time to use the N-word again?

Electricity grid

Here’s some “great news:” California now generates so much solar energy that electricity prices have gone negative.  According to Ian Johnston at the Independent: “In March, during the hours of 8am to 2pm, system average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatt-hour.” Similar stories regularly hit the …

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Electric cars derailed

EV charger

Legacy infrastructure remains the key advantage for fossil fuel technologies.  This is true in electricity generation, where pre-existing coal and gas power stations can supply electricity at a cheaper price than can be achieved when renewables and especially nuclear are built from scratch.  The same is true for vehicles.  One …

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Low demand and renewables accelerate Britain’s energy death spiral

Energy death spiral

For several years, Britain’s National Grid has issued warnings about potential energy shortages as demand outstrips supply in winter.  However, the company, which operates the UK’s energy infrastructure, is now raising concerns about a new problem – low demand coupled to an excess supply of renewable electricity in summertime. According …

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Pro-coal policy is central to Paris Agreement

US Coal Mine

Environmental groups were quick to attack US President Trump’s decision to overturn his predecessor’s climate change policy in favour of a pro-fossil fuel approach aimed at securing new jobs in America’s rust belt states.  However, this is to misunderstand the many weaknesses of the Paris Agreement itself, which is a …

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French nuclear firm bails out of UK projects

Nuclear Power

In a further blow to the UK government’s energy strategy, troubled Toshiba has been forced to buy French company Engie’s 40 percent stake in NuGen – the company that was supposed to be building three new reactors in Cumbria. The buy-out comes on the back of Toshiba’s decision last week …

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Don’t bet on Britain’s oil future just yet

Shetland Storm

Judging by the headlines last week, Britain was well on its way to an oil-powered future.  The discovery of what may or may not be a billion barrel field was presented as the start of a new golden age for an oil industry that displays all of the hallmarks of …

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Three quarters of UK shale gas cannot be recovered

Fracking Lorries

Human geography and planning considerations will prevent 75 percent of the UK’s shale gas from ever reaching the surface according to a new study in the journal Science of The Total Environment (see also presentation slides): “Estimates of shale gas recoverable reserves have not considered the carrying capacity of the …

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That Scottish oil discovery in context

Scotland oil

Earlier this week the Hurricane Energy discovery of “up to a billion barrels” of oil in the North Sea was reported as some kind of energy miracle.  After 17 years of severe production declines, Scottish oil is back.  Suddenly IndyRef2 looks far more likely to deliver a vote for Scottish …

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Is it time for an alternative energy strategy?


While media attention was focused on the economic consequences of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK economy quietly suffered a far greater shock.  Tucked away in the business pages was the news that Toshiba is placing its Westinghouse US nuclear unit into bankruptcy protection. At face value, …

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UK energy predicament deepens

Power Station by Martin Kelly

New government energy projections show Britain running out of energy before new capacity can be brought on stream. Most obviously, coal generation is due to be phased out by 2022.  Less obviously, the government is projecting that its favoured gas generation is expected to fall significantly in 2017 and to …

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