Climate

Don’t know how to save the planet? This is what you can do. Should we become vegetarians? Is it OK to fly? The author of There Is No Planet B, A Handbook for the Make or Break Years, answers the big questions.

Guardian 25th March 2019 read more »

An unapologetically rough guide to your carbon footprint.

10:10 (accessed) 25th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 25 March 2019

Radwaste

In a remote stretch of New Mexico desert, the U.S. government put in motion an experiment aimed at proving to the world that radioactive waste could be safely disposed of deep underground, rendering it less of a threat to the environment. Twenty years and more than 12,380 shipments later, tons of Cold War-era waste from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research across the U.S. have been stashed in the salt caverns that make up the underground facility . Each week, several shipments of special boxes and barrels packed with lab coats, rubber gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements are trucked to the site. But the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has not been without issues. A 2014 radiation leak forced an expensive, nearly three-year closure, delayed the federal government’s cleanup program and prompted policy changes at national laboratories and defense-related sites across the U.S. More recently, the U.S. Department of Energy said it would investigate reports that workers may have been exposed last year to hazardous chemicals.

AP 23rd March 2019 read more »

Miami Herald 23rd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Capacity Market

The environmental campaign group Greenpeace can be revealed as one of the financial backers in an escalating legal row in which EU judges have pulled the plug on more than £1bn in power plant subsidies. Greenpeace confirmed that it is now funding further legal action in the English courts that aims to force the Government to comply with the decision by the European Court of Justice. The subsidy scheme, which is designed to secure electricity supplies until renewable sources can produce more power, faces a threat from minnow Tempus Energy.

Telegraph 24th March 2019 read more »

‘To be honest, nobody thought they would win,” says one industry source. “Actually, I don’t think even they thought they would pull this off.” The energy industry transition has long served as a battlefield between power and money. But in a multi-billion-pound coup, one energy start-up has emerged as David in the fight against the industry’s incumbent power-generating Goliaths. The triumph of Tempus Energy, a 10-strong technology upstart, in a European Court battle against power plant subsidies has rocked the industry to its core. A shock court ruling in November has forced the scheme, which aims to stem the closure of power plants by awarding supply contracts worth £1bn a year, into a legal battle.

Telegraph 24th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Companies

When the great and good of the oil industry gathered at their annual conference in Texas this month, they were joined by a few unfamiliar names. In a sign of shifting times, the guest list at Ceraweek in Houston also included Amazon Web Services boss Andrew Jassey and executives from Japanese car maker Mitsubishi. Big Oil, facing disruption from huge shifts in technology and energy use, is gradually trying to do something about it. Shell executive Maarten Wetselaar, responsible for so-called new energies, spoke for the first time of the Anglo-Dutch giant’s ambitions to become the world’s biggest electricity company in little more than a decade. He outlined audacious plans for up to 30% of Shell’s $400bn (£303bn) business to be in generating, trading and selling electricity, compared with a fraction now. “Electrification is the biggest trend in energy over the next 10 to 15 years because we think it is the easiest way to decarbonise energy usage.” Meanwhile, energy efficiency is making household devices less power hungry, and efforts are under way to electrify home heating. This month, the UK said that gas boilers would be banned in new homes by 2025 to ease climate change. The proportion of energy provided by electricity is set to jump to about 50%, up from 20% now. Within that, renewables such as solar and wind power are set to become the world’s target source of global electricity by 2040, BP is predicting, as the technology gets cheaper. Shell’s plan to shift towards electricity is a logical next step for it and many of its peers, positioning it as a provider of energy, not just oil and gas – but it also plays to its core strength. Others are also dipping their toes into the electricity market. French oil and gas major Total splashed out $1.7bn on Direct Energie in a challenge to state-controlled utility EDF. BP bought a small stake in UK supplier Pure Planet and has a partnership with solar power developer Lightsource BP, taking a 43% stake in the company. The tie-up is central to an advertising campaign BP has launched in recent weeks.

Sunday Times 24th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Chernobyl/Middle East

Spectre of Chernobyl hangs over Middle East’s nuclear ambitions. The Middle East is going nuclear. The United Arab Emirates is home to the Barakah nuclear power station, the Arab world’s first such facility and the biggest nuclear power plant currently under construction. Saudi Arabia has plans for two large nuclear plants to cope with national energy demands, increasing by more than eight percent annually. Initial land-clearing work has also begun for a nuclear facility at Akkuyu, on Turkey’s southern coast, while Egypt is due to start building a nuclear power plant in El Dabaa, west of Alexandria, next year. Jordan has plans for a number of smaller nuclear facilities. In a recently published book on Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy – now a history professor at Harvard but in 1986 a Ukraine resident – said the idea of a nuclear accident was inconceivable. “As far as they [the engineers] were concerned, the reactor and its panoply of safety systems were idiot proof. No textbook they had ever read suggested that reactors could explode.” Chernobyl’s reactor exploded, throwing vast clouds of radiation up into the atmosphere that were blown by winds over Scandinavia, much of Europe and Ukraine itself. Plokhy’s book – billed as the most extensively researched work yet on the Chernobyl disaster – should be required reading for any government official contemplating a nuclear-driven future. He said that although safety features and procedures at nuclear facilities have been improved, we’re still just as far from taming nuclear reactions as we were in 1986. Lessons have not been learned. The nuclear power industry, which grew out of and alongside nuclear arms programmes, continues to be obsessed with secrecy, and has always been wary of disclosing any problems. In 1957, there was a serious accident at a Soviet nuclear power plant in the Urals. Both the Soviets and the US military – which was aware of the incident – decided not to disclose the event to the public in the West. “Both sides had a stake in keeping it under wraps so as not to frighten their citizens and make them reject nuclear power as a source of cheap energy,” Plokhy said.

Middle East Eye 22nd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Brazil

Brazil’s former president Michel Temer – who played a key role in the 2016 impeachment of his rival Dilma Rousseff – has been arrested by federal policewhile driving in São Paulo. Judge Marcelo Breitas issued arrest warrants on Thursday for Temer and nine others in “Operation Radioactivity” – part of Operation Car Wash, the country’s largest ever corruption investigation, which has led to the convictions of numerous members of Brazil’s political elite. Federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro said Temer had led “a criminal organization”, which was involved in the construction of Brazil’s Angra 3 nuclear plant. According to prosecutors, Temer received a R$1m bribe in exchange for awarding three companies a construction contract for the nuclear facility.

Guardian 21st March 2019 read more »

Jurist 22nd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

China

Another place, another atmosphere. Xi Jinping’s visit to France is not expected to lead to any major breakthrough on Orano’s long-awaited contract to build a used nuclear fuel processing and recycling plant in China. Fifteen months after Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Beijing during which the French industrialist and his partner CNNC had concluded a new memorandum of understanding , Orano (the former Areva refocused on the fuel cycle) is still far from to have won the bet. At the time, Orano and CNNC had given themselves until the end of 2018 to formally agree on this mega contract of more than 10 billion dollars.

Les Echos 23rd March 2019 read more »

European Union leaders called for an end to naivety on Friday in relations with Beijing and said China was a competitor whose markets were not sufficiently open, although they did not spell out specifically what they planned to do. The bloc has sought to avoid taking sides in a multi-billion dollar trade war between Washington and Beijing. But it has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies and state involvement in the Chinese economy, and what it sees as a slow pace of opening up. It plans to raise these issues at an EU-China summit on April 9 after years of granting China almost unfettered access to EU markets. French President Emmanuel Macron, among the most vocal EU critics of Beijing, said that he recognized there was a divergence of views in the bloc but that letting Chinese companies buy up EU infrastructure such as ports had been a “strategic error”.

Reuters 22nd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Hydrogen

A NEW blueprint has been drawn up to turn Scotland into a global powerhouse for green energy – a move which economists and scientists say would be transformative when it comes to the wealth and standing of the nation. The study lays the ground for Scotland to take full advantage of the hydrogen revolution. Renewable hydrogen would not only satisfy all our domestic energy needs, but it could also be exported. Until now it’s been impossible to properly store and export green energy. The Scottish economist and scientist who head up the new HIAlba-Idea think tank say Scotland could effectively fuel the proposed European supergrid, and generate so much money for the economy that the nation could establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund, as Norway did with North Sea oil. The UK failed to set up such a fund. HIAlba-Idea, the first think tank based in the Highlands, is run by the economist Professor Ronald MacDonald, and the mathematician, scientist and engineer Dr Donald MacRae. MacDonald is professor of macroeconomics at Glasgow University’s Adam Smith Business School. He has been a consultant adviser to the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the World Bank, the IMF and the UK National Audit Office. MacRae has held under-secretary positions in the Australian government and was a director with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). MacRae’s work with CSIRO is key to the blueprints which the think tank is releasing tomorrow – called Hydrogen Scotland: A Route to Export Powerhouse and Maximising Scotland’s Wellbeing While Bravely Innovating. Australia has started to use solar power to develop renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen can be produced using solar, wave or wind power, and can then be used as a cheap, clean, plentiful energy source, and exported for the first time. Some have described the process as bottling sunshine and wind.The new technology is being hailed as the solution to many of the West’s environmental, economic and social problems. MacDonald says the energy revolution would solve the “tail-off in productivity of the Scottish and UK economy”, which came about with the shift from manufacturing to services. Renewable hydrogen is “the big transformative idea”, he says, which would “take us back to being a manufacturing economy and an export power house”. He added: “The revolution is having this cheap, storable and transportable energy.” MacRae called it “a game-changer”. While Scotland – and Orkney in particular – are making good progress with the technology, Australia has already created a “roadmap” for commercial use of renewable hydrogen. South Korea plans to convert its 26,000-strong fleet of buses to hydrogen, and Australia is eyeing the market for exports. Japan is also moving toward the use of more hydrogen vehicles.

Herald 24th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Climate Emergency

Suffolk county councillors vote to declare a ‘climate emergency’. Overwhelming agreement to work towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of the council becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The landmark decision came following a discussion of the issue at a meeting of the full council yesterday. The motion had originally been tabled by Green Party councillors Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw and Robert Lindsay, who agreed some amendments before the session. Putting aside party political differences, 60 councillors voted in favour with a single vote against and one abstention. Councillors also agreed to form a cross-party panel tasked with coming up with policy ideas to help the authority cut emissions.

East Anglian Daily Times 22nd March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

Coal, oil and gas industries in the UK cause at least £44 billion pounds of damage each year, according to a new estimate by environmental campaigners. Friends of the Earth have called for the “polluter pays” principle to be applied, with a new carbon tax levied on companies so they can contribute to a green transition. They argue the fossil fuel industry has long been aware of the harmful effects of climate change, such as its impact on extreme weather. “If you pollute, you pay. It’s a simple fix to help avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. For decades the oil, coal and gas industry has extracted, processed, sold and profited from fossil fuels,” said Mike Childs, head of policy for Friends of the Earth. “The costs of this industry are being felt by people and nature across the world through more extreme weather, such as floods, droughts and wildfires. “It’s time the industry is held to account for the range of damage it causes and is made to foot much of the bill for the transition to clean energy.” In their new analysis, the green group used an average “social cost of carbon” price based on a recent studies that have priced up the impact each tonne of emissions has. The campaigners took into consideration fossil fuel companies, the “big 6” energy companies and oil refineries. Their estimate is based solely on the contribution fossil fuels make to climate change, and not other damaging factors such as the effects of air pollution on health.

Independent 24th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 March 2019