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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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The North Sea – how peak oil plays out in practice

End of oil

The political row that recently broke out between the Scottish National Party and the Labour/Tory opposition obscures a far more troubling problem for the British economy. The SNP were accused of lying about oil revenues in the run up to the 2014 independence referendum.  They had claimed tax receipts of …

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Oil experts predict economic woes ahead

Economic bloodshed

Ten out of the last eleven recessions – including the great crash of 2008 – were preceded by a spike in oil prices.  Now, after several years of not-really-that-cheap oil prices, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) is predicting a serious global oil shortage by 2020. According to the IEA’s …

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