Fossil Fuels

A fracking company is applying for an injunction to stop protesters from disrupting its plans to restart the process after a seven-year gap. Cuadrilla, which caused minor earth tremors when it carried out hydraulic fracturing in the UK in 2011, plans to extract shale gas near Blackpool this summer. Protesters have repeatedly blockaded Cuadrilla’s site there and delayed deliveries. They have also targeted suppliers, threatening to damage their businesses and causing some to stop delivering to Cuadrilla’s site.

Times 21st May 2018 read more »

Royal Dutch Shell faces a shareholder challenge over climate change this week, as investors insist oil and gas firms should offer more transparency and action on carbon emissions. A growing number of pension funds have backed a resolution at Shell’s AGM on Tuesday that calls on the company to set tougher carbon targets that are in line with the goals of the Paris climate deal. The proposal has been backed by the Church of England, the Dutch pension fund Aegon and, most recently, Nest, the workplace pension scheme set up by the UK government, which has £7m invested in Shell.

Guardian 20th May 2018 read more »

Britain’s largest shareholder advisory groups have called on investors in Royal Dutch Shell to reject growing demands for the oil giant to take full responsibility for its impact on the environment. Shell faces a binding shareholder vote tomorrow to decide whether to adopt rigorous accountability standards to bring its operations into line with the Paris climate agreement. Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders to reject the “unduly burdensome” and “problematic” proposal.

Telegraph 20th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 May 2018

CCS

The first major international initiative to galvanise technology that traps carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere will be unveiled this week by some of the world’s largest polluters. The annual Clean Energy Ministerial will play host to the new global co-operation plan to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) to clean up the emissions from power plants and factories. The US, Saudi Arabia and Norway are preparing to lead the work to ­develop CCS, and their efforts will be supported by the UK, China, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the European Commission. It is the first time that governments will come together to work towards ­affordable CCS projects, which the technology’s proponents believe could be a major breakthrough in “decarbonising” power and industry in a bid to tackle climate change. The Clean Energy Ministerial has brought together ministers from 24 of the world’s largest economies for the past eight years to develop a cleaner energy future. Its past endeavours have included accelerating the drive towards electric vehicles, which has seen a boom in government support and policy commitments as a result. For the three lead nations CCS is ­vital in order to play a role in tackling climate change without undermining important economic drivers. To date CCS projects remain eye wateringly ­expensive. But by taking a diplomatic approach the participating countries hope to set up strategic partnerships to accelerate ­investment and create a competitive global industry. The major co-operation deal is ­expected to emerge on Thursday, a little over a week after Norway fired the starting gun on its ambitions to ­become Europe’s leader in developing CCS technology and permanent storage ­facilities under the North Sea.

Telegraph 20th May 2018 read more »

Drax Group will lead a £400,000 trial to capture and store carbon at its north Yorkshire power station in an attempt to kickstart a technology that has repeatedly failed to get off the ground in the UK. The company was part of earlier efforts to build a £1bn prototype carbon capture coal plant, but pulled out in 2015 after it missed out on renewable energy subsidies. Now the firm will try again with a pioneering form of the technology, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), to cut emissions from one of its four biomass-burning units. Experts believe the project is a world first. In theory, BECCS can reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as the trees for the power station absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, while the carbon dioxide released from generating electricity does not enter the atmosphere. Most of the UN climate science panel’s scenarios for stopping dangerous global warming assume the use of such “negative emissions” technology, though critics have said it would not work at scale. Drax has partnered with University of Leeds spin-off C-Capture for the project, which starts this month. The carbon will be stored in a compressed form on the site, which the firm hopes to sell to an as-yet-unidentified partner for industrial processes. Energy minister Claire Perry said the pilot was “hugely exciting”, while the Carbon Capture & Storage Association called it an “important step”.

Guardian 21st May 2018 read more »

Business Green 21st May 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

Pressure is building on oil and gas groups to adopt tougher carbon reduction strategies ahead of a series of annual general meetings (AGM) next week. A coalition of major investors representing $10.4tr in assets under management have today written to the Financial Times, urging oil and gas majors to be more transparent and robust in their efforts to tackle escalating climate risks. The letter, signed by 60 investors including Axa Investment Managers, Legal and General Investment Managers and Aviva Investors, insists the “case for action on climate change is clear” and stresses they are “keenly aware” of the need to shift the global economy onto a low-carbon footing. Emissions from the oil and gas industry account for about half of all global carbon pollution, according to CDP, with the vast majority, around 90 per cent, arising from the use of their products.

Business Green 18th May 2018 read more »

Three students at the Cambridge University have gone on hunger strike as part of an increasingly bitter campaign to stop the university investing in fossil fuel companies.

Guardian 18th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

The government has proposed a relaxation in the planning laws which apply to fracking. Under the plans, preliminary drilling could be classed as permitted development – the same law that allows people to build a small conservatory. Ministers are also proposing a shale environmental regulator and a new planning brokerage service. Opponents of fracking say it shows the government is desperate to encourage fracking. They call the proposed relaxation of planning law an outrageous subversion of the planning process. Energy Minister Claire Perry said: “This package of measures delivers on our manifesto promise to support shale and it will ensure exploration happens in the most environmentally responsible way while making it easier for companies and local communities to work together.” She said shale gas had the potential to lower energy prices, although opponents of the technology say there is no evidence this will happen in the UK.

BBC 17th May 2018 read more »

FT 17th May 2018 read more »

Drill or Drop 17th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

Scotland could press ahead with a formal ban on fracking later this year, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has ­indicated. The Scottish Government has come under attack after a lawyer representing ministers told a court last week the current “effective ban” was a “gloss” and the “language of a press release”. Ministers are currently using the planning system to block new fracking developments through directions to local councils. But a full legal ban can only be implemented after a full strategic environmental assessment is carried out by ministers. Labour’s Claudia Beamish said; “People in Scotland need a clear, and simple commitment from the government that existing licences granted before the powers to ban fracking was devolved to Holyrood will not be renewed.”

Scotsman 16th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 May 2018

CCS

The Norwegian government has revived plans to develop technology which can capture and store carbon emissions from factory flues with a pledge to invest almost €30m (£26m) in a pair of new demonstration projects. The funding could lay the groundwork for a Europe-wide boom in carbon capture and storage (CCS) which will require strong international co-operation to bring costs down. The vote of confidence also bodes well for the UK which reignited plans to develop CCS last year after clean energy minister Claire Perry said carbon capture is a “vital technology”, which should be deployed “at an appropriate cost”. UK CCS developers are already understood to be in talks with Norway’s CCS experts.

Telegraph 15th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

Four months after the UK government announced it was phasing out coal, campaigners are digging in to stop what they say will be the devastation of opencast mining at a beauty spot in the north-east of England. Local people and environmentalists have 16 working days left to stop the first spade going into the ground on 71 hectares of grassland, fields and woods in the Pont valley, Co Durham. Under planning permission, the mining company Banks Group has to start work by 3 June or their licence to start mining the site will expire. Campaigners say the “hit-and-run” nature of opencast mining, and the UK government’s commitment to phasing out coal, makes any new mine an anachronism. Protesters are planning a series of public demonstrations in the days leading up to the deadline.

Guardian 14th May 2018 read more »

Two new studies have this week highlighted the growing ‘carbon bubble’ risks faced by many energy firms and investors, warning that investment in new fossil fuel power plants could result in stranded assets if international climate commitments are honoured. The Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford yesterday announced the results of a new paper, which suggests up to a fifth of global power generation assets could be stranded if the world were to meet its climate goals.

Business Green 15th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 15 May 2018

Energy Supplies

Is it time to follow the coal phase out with a gas phase out target? WWF’s Gareth Redmond-King argues that when you look at the UK’s current energy infrastructure trends there is no need to respond to the coal phase out with a new ‘dash for gas’ Coal has been a major player in the United Kingdom’s history. However much harm burning it has done, and however strongly we make the case for stopping its use now to arrest that damage, there’s no point pretending that it hasn’t been hugely important to our development as a nation. WWF, with Sandbag, calculate that we can phase out coal without another (and I really hate this phrase…) ‘dash for gas’. In fact, we’re pretty sure that we don’t need any new large-scale gas to smooth the way to a clean future for UK power. Why? Well, mainly because most of the existing coal generation that needs to be replaced has already been replaced – 14GW across seven power stations. Enough capacity to cover five of those plants has already been contracted for – half with flexible supply (demand management, storage, interconnectors), and half with a mix of smaller, flexible fossil fuel generation and lifespan-extensions in the existing gas fleet. That leaves just short of 3GW to replace – which looks likely to be covered on a similar basis.

Business Green 14th May 2018 read more »

The UK has no need to build new large gas-fired power stations to replace the coal plants that the government has pledged to switch off by 2025, the World Wide Fund for Nature has argued. The gap can instead be filled by renewables, battery storage and flexible technologies, allowing the UK to go from “coal to clean” and skip new gas completely, according to a report by the environmental group. The analysis challenges the orthodoxy that phasing out coal will require large new gas plants. Amber Rudd, when energy secretary in 2015, said: “In the next 10 years, it’s imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built.” Big energy firms including Drax and Germany’s RWE want to build large-scale gas plants on the sites of former power stations in Yorkshire and Essex, respectively. Almost half of the gas industry’s hopes for new power stations for Europe are slated for the UK but developers have failed to win subsidy contracts through the main route to market, the government’s capacity market. The government is planning to launch a review of the scheme later this year, which renewables proponents fear could tilt the balance. Gareth Redmond-King, the WWF’s head of climate and energy, urged ministers to ensure the review does not open the door to gas. He said: “If we don’t need large-scale gas, if it can’t compete with renewables and there’s no need for it, why would you need a route to market for it?

Guardian 13th May 2018 read more »

Nick Butler: Why has the price of natural gas risen so much in Asia this year? The Japanese import price is at a three-year high, having increased almost 15 per cent year on year. Was there not supposed to be a glut? That raises the question of whether we are at the beginning of a new super cycle that sees the price rising even higher. The gas market far exceeds that of oil in complexity. It is still predominantly regional, and there are three distinct trading areas: the US, Europe and Asia. The first two are dominated by pipeline gas, much of which is supplied on a long-term contract basis, and some is still priced on a formula linked to oil. But the scene is changing fast. Trade in liquefied natural gas, which can be transported by ship, has doubled in the past 10 years, establishing a partial equalising factor between the regions.

FT 14th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 14 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

THE Church of Scotland could turn its back on harmful oil and gas exploration investments, in support of climate justice. While the kirk admits they have profited from its fossil fuel holdings in the past, it is now “deeply uncomfortable” with its support of the industry. A report of a two-year internal inquiry for the kirk’s general assembly, which opens next weekend, calls for an end to oil and gas extraction, to protect the environment and help deliver the Paris agreement on climate change. It follows a decision by Edinburgh University this year to sell its own oil and gas shares. The report by the kirk’s church and society council states: “It is deeply uncomfortable for the church, as a caring organisation concerned about climate justice, to continue to invest in something which causes the very ha rm it seeks to alleviate.

Herald 14th May 2018 read more »

Times 13th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 14 May 2018

Fossil Fuels

In case you missed it, the Scottish government was up before the beak over its decision to ban fracking last year in a case was brought Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe and Reach CSG. We know fracking is banned because first minister Nicola Sturgeon told us so last year. She shouted: “Fracking is being banned in Scotland, end of story.” Meanwhile, the SNP’s website states: “The Scottish Government has put in place a ban on fracking in Scotland — meaning fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” That pretty much passes the duck test. Yet James Mure QC, the expensive silk representing the Scottish government, insisted the suggestion that fracking had been banned in Scotland was, er . . . wrong. He told the Court: “The concept of an effective ban is a gloss. It is the language of a press statement.”

Times 13th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 May 2018