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Energy

Why I focus on the economics of fracking

Profitability

Amid the contested claims and counter-claims over the environmental damage that might result from widespread hydraulic fracturing in the UK there is a single, glaring (and erroneous) point of agreement for Britain’s frackers and their opponents: that fracking is economically viable.  It follows, therefore, that opponents must take every lawful (and …

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UK energy policy puts lives at risk

UK Snowstorm Deaths

Journalists are quick to tell us about the days on which we burned little or no coal at all (for electricity generation).  They are more reticent when it comes reporting times when coal provides a quarter of our electricity and prevents a national catastrophe. That, in effect, is what happened …

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Remind me again, what was Plan B?

Gas flame

Plan A, you will remember, was that the UK was going to use its massive reserves of gas as a transition fuel to fill the gap between phasing out coal and bringing in a new generation of renewables and nuclear power.  Hydraulic fracturing was going to be the game changer; …

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Fracking weakness exposed

Fracking finance

It is – as the former directors of Carillion can attest – entirely possible to simultaneously make and lose money hand over fist.  All you have to do is to persuade gullible investors to loan you vast sums of money against the promise of future riches.  Only when it becomes …

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US shale oil and the Seneca effect

Drilling rig

Behind the “good news” story of the US fracking boom is a darker problem that haunts us all. The mainstream narrative is that advanced recovery technology has allowed US oil companies to unlock vast reserves of newly discovered shale oil.  This has brought about a rapid volte-face in American economic …

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UK government wary of fracking finances

Fracking finances

In a surprise move last week, UK Business Secretary Greg Clark made approval for fracking conditional on an assessment of company finances.  This seems to mark a distinct shift in policy compared to the gung-ho approach to fracking under David Cameron. The apparent cause of Clark’s caution concerns Third Energy’s …

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Britain’s retirement party begins

North Sea Decommissioning

The North Sea oil industry that underwrote Britain’s 1980-2008 neoliberal debt-binge is coming to an end.  Oil and gas production has fallen by more than 60 percent since the 1999 peak.  And since 2004/5 Britain has become increasingly dependent upon imports to meet its energy needs (ultimately a much greater …

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How greenwashing works

Greenwashing

In the days before the internet killed advertising, media outlets used to employ real scientists and engineers to research and report their science and technology stories.  Today, with advertising revenues collapsing, few outlets can afford to pay people who are qualified and experienced to the point where they can separate …

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Redwash

Redwash

It is a rare day indeed when I find myself in agreement with a Tory minister.  Today is one of those days.  Having spent years raising awareness of Britain’s growing energy crisis, I am fully in agreement with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson when he warns that the disruption of the …

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Renewables outstripping infrastructure

Disused coal power

Renewable energy is increasingly incompatible with our energy infrastructure and our economy; and the situation is getting critical. It is common knowledge that renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, tidal, etc.) are not “firm.”  But firm is exactly how our economy needs energy.  In a just-in-time economy, it is extremely difficult …

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