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Category Archives: ‘International’
Published: June 14, 2013
CROW AGENCY, Mont. — Every few hours trains packed with coal pass through the sagebrush-covered landscape here in southern Montana, some on their way north to Canadian ports for shipment to Japan and South Korea. If the mining company Cloud Peak Energy has its way, many more trains will cross the prairie to far larger proposed export terminals in Washington State.
It’s part of a push by the nation’s coal industry, hobbled by plummeting demand as Americans turn to cleaner natural gas, to vastly expand what it sends to Asia and Europe. But the aggressive effort to rescue the $40 billion industry is running into fierce opposition from environmental groups, who say pollution caused by burning coal should not be exported.
The two sides have engaged in an increasingly pitched battle, in regulatory arenas and on the airwaves, scaring off some investors and raising concerns about the fate of the industry, which is seen as a key to economic growth in Western states like Montana and Wyoming.
“The future of the U.S. coal industry is at stake,” said Richard Morse, managing director at SuperCritical Capital, an energy consultancy. “Their future domestically is dim and demand growth internationally is very robust, so it is fair to say that a resuscitation of the industry has to come overseas.”Share This Post
Energy companies are facing the prospect of physical and financial losses because of climate change, and the oil industry needs to take the threat more seriously, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency said Friday.
“When there is global warming, this will result in much more frequent cyclones, floods and storms,” Fatih Birol told FuelFix. “And this will affect the infrastructure of energy companies — we think especially for the offshore oil and gas production, in the North Sea, Western Australia, the Gulf of Mexico.”
The implications of climate change will extend beyond direct physical damage, Birol said.
“Even if there was no storm or anything happening, companies have to increase the resilience of the infrastructure, which in turn means that the cost of capital will go up,” he said. “So the energy companies, even if they don’t want to solve the problem, they cannot afford to ignore climate change being part of their decision-making for their investment strategies.”
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/06/15/economist-climate-change-a-financial-threat-to-oil-companies/Share This Post
As solar prices have fallen, and oil prices have risen, Saudi Arabia now has a strong economic incentive to push ahead with its long awaited solar plans, Peixe writes. Saudi Arabia’s desire to install vast amounts of generation capacity makes them a potentially important market, and they will be able to take advantage of this with Chinese manufacturers.
By Joao Peixe, Guest blogger / June 15, 2013
Gulf countries, whilst rich in oil and natural gas, also have an abundant supply of sun, which makes them an ideal location for solar power technologies, yet despite this fact they lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of capacity installed.
Saudi officials have talked about solar power for years, and even made plans to install 41,000MW over the next 20 years, but whilst China installed 5,000MW in 2012 alone, Saudi Arabia still has virtually no solar generation capacity.
As solar prices have fallen, and oil prices have risen, Saudi Arabia now has a strong economic incentive to push ahead with its long awaited solar plans. Arabian Business has said that solar power would allow the Saudi’s to save more oil to be exported at over $100 a barrel, whilst at the same time producing electricity for less than half the cost of its current oil-fired power plants. (Related article: A U.S.-China War over Solar Power)
Wail Bamhair, the project manager of the Saudi Arabian team that visited the US’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory last week, said that “Saudi Arabia is determined to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons. Renewable energy isn't just an option, but absolutely necessary. We have the means to build renewable energy, and we need to do it.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0615/Solar-power-shines-in-oil-rich-Saudi-Arabia?nav=92-csm_category-topStoriesShare This Post
Published: June 15, 2013
HONG KONG — China’s cabinet has adopted 10 measures to improve air quality in the latest move aimed at responding to the dense smog that has repeatedly enveloped Beijing and other major Chinese cities in recent years.
Many of the measures had previously been enacted by some cities, or were the subject of national experiments that had not yet received the imprimatur of the cabinet, which is known as the State Council. The measures, adopted Friday, were announced Saturday in state-controlled news media.
The newest and least-expected of them is a mandate that heavy polluters like coal-fired power plants and metal smelters must release detailed environmental information to the general public.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/china-sets-new-rules-aimed-at-curbing-air-pollution.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0Share This Post
At the heart of California Governor Jerry Brown's China-California energy initiative is the possibility of a major turn away from climate devastation.
Posted: 06/13/2013 4:12 pm
Former State Senator and leader of sixties peace, justice and environmental movement. Director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center.
California, under Governor Jerry Brown's leadership, is playing a pivotal role in the struggle to transform the global economy toward energy conservation and renewables. Some recent developments:
With the closure of San Onofre's two nuclear reactors, California is just one plant away -- Diablo Canyon -- from being a nuclear-free state with an advanced economy.
In the first Brown Era, the utilities and industry insisted that California needed 65 nuclear plants sited on its coastline. Thanks to the environmental movement and then-Gov. Brown, that malign vision was scrapped long ago -- and California powered ahead economically.
Southern California Edison shut down San Onofre because it could not meet the demands of consumers, safety advocates, environmental experts at Friends of the Earth, and the oversight requirements of Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate's natural resources committee.
The closure creates added pressure on California to step up its energy efficiency and renewables investments, already responsible for raising the national standards.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/california-the-focal-poin_b_3436878.htmlShare This Post
Moving from managing generation to promoting energy savings
Herman K. Trabish: June 11, 2013
China can realize the ambitious targets in its twelfth 5-Year Plan by shifting its focus from increasing capacity to managing demand, according to a just-released report from the China Greentech Initiative, The 2013 China Greentech Report: China at a Crossroads.
“China has a strong track record of achieving supply-oriented targets for energy and electric power,” the report observed. “From a demand perspective, a fundamental shift in emphasis from increasing capacity to managing demand and promoting energy savings is essential.”
“As the world’s largest energy consumer and with reliance on foreign oil, coal, and gas growing, China is facing mounting pressure,” the report also said. But China's unconventional natural gas reserves and unprecedented renewables growth can relieve that pressure.
The latest Five-Year Plan devised for the world’s second biggest economy once again laid out the kind of ambitious energy targets that China has been successful at hitting:Share This Post
Not a misprint. 23.4 gigawatts.
Eric Wesoff: June 11, 2013
While the U.S. marks a record first quarter of solar installations at 723 megawatts, and California hit a record 2 gigawatts of electrical generation from PV last week -- Germany is in a somewhat different solar league.
According to SMA's cool interactive PV performance monitoring tool and my meager German skills, Germany's photovoltaic electricity production hit a record 23.4 gigawatts on the afternoon of June 6, almost 40 percent of its peak demand. According to AG Energie Bilanzen, Germany's peak electric demand is approximately 60 gigawatts. The SMA page notes that Germany had 32.92 gigawatts of installed capacity as of Feb. 28, 2013.
Paul-Frederik Bach, a longtime power planner in Denmark, claims that the penetration of renewables in Germany "has developed into a nightmare for system operators."
We have not received reports of any grid performance or reliability issues despite the solar generation milestone.Share This Post
By Tom Hussain | McClatchy Foreign Staff
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s newly elected government Wednesday unveiled its first budget, which gave the go-ahead for buying two new nuclear power plants from China but made no allocation for a long-proposed natural gas pipeline from Iran that had sparked complaints from the United States.
In not budgeting for the Iranian pipeline, agreed to by his predecessor in February, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tactfully sidestepped a potential diplomatic clash with the United States, which had warned that the pipeline, if it were ever built, could lead to sanctions on Pakistan. The deal also was criticized as a trap for the new administration by Sharif’s brother and de facto deputy, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province.
The $35.5 billion budget, which was presented to Parliament by the new minister for finance, Ishaq Dar, suggested that the new government would follow through on Sharif’s plan to resolve the country’s power shortages that Dar said had cut the country’s economic growth by 2 percent in the outgoing fiscal year, which ends June 30.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/12/193732/no-money-in-pakistan-budget-for.htmlShare This Post
June 10, 2013, 8:35 am
The International Energy Agency today released a helpful report that charts four climate-wise (if fairly familiar) actions countries can pursue to make a difference in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. There’s a low bar to entry, the agency noted, saying these steps “can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries.” Here are the four core points, followed by a slide show and related links:
To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/energy-agency-makes-case-for-climate-wise-energy-steps/?src=recgShare This Post
Shale oil and gas have revitalized the US energy industry and could do the same abroad, a new EIA report suggests. But oil and gas drilling will depend more so on market forces, than on geologic facts.
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / June 11, 2013
If the world seems suddenly awash with oil and natural gas, it's because of a stubborn rock called shale.
Why It Matters
Energy: Oil and gas from a stubborn rock called shale has allowed a North American energy boom.
Environment: Shale drilling can release heat-trapping gases and damage local resources.
The amount of known technically recoverable oil from shale formations has jumped 10 times in the past two years, according to a new 41-nation survey by the US Energy Information Administration. The amount of technically recoverable shale gas is up 10 percent from the last time the EIA surveyed the world's shale formations.
How much of that fossil-fuel energy actually sees the light of day remains unknown. Although the number of known shale formations has doubled in the past two years, economics trumps geology in the energy. What's clear is that nations will spend the next several years trying to replicate the success of the United States and Canada in turning geologic obstacles into fossil-fuel windfalls.Share This Post
Is the global push for renewables in vain if China lags behind? A new report on global emissions suggests as much, but hope for a clean-energy future is not all lost. Many see last week's US-China agreement on curbing hydrofluorocarbons as a step in the right direction.
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / June 10, 2013
If the world loses its war on climate change, you can blame China.
Why It Matters
Energy: China is the world's largest consumer of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels.
Environment: Rapid economic and demographic growth have resulted in high carbon emissions.
The fast-growing, coal-reliant powerhouse is pumping out so much more carbon dioxide that reductions in other parts of the world can't compensate, according to a report issued Monday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
But the solution to climate change may lie in dropping such finger-pointing and working instead on improvements, however incremental, that nations can agree on to cut heat-trapping emissions, such as last week's US-China agreement on between China and the US on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a heavy greenhouse-gas emitter. And China is certainly deploying significant quantities of renewables, just not fast enough to keep pace with the country's tremendous growth.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0610/China-how-to-rev-up-a-clean-energy-laggard?nav=92-csm_category-topStoriesShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Updated: Monday, June 10, 2:00 AM
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals, the International Energy Agency said in a report scheduled to be issued Monday.
The agency said continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), which IEA chief economist Fatih Birol warned “would be a disaster for all countries.”
“This puts us on a difficult and dangerous trajectory,” Birol said. “If we don’t do anything between now and 2020, it will be very difficult because there will be a lot of carbon already in the atmosphere and the energy infrastructure will be locked in.”
The energy sector accounts for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, so “energy has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change,” the IEA said. Its report urged nations to take four steps, including aggressive energy-efficiency measures, by 2015 to keep alive any hope of limiting climate change to 2 degrees Celsius.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/carbon-dioxide-emissions-rose-14-percent-in-2012-iea-report-says/2013/06/09/35d32bac-d123-11e2-8cbe-1bcbee06f8f8_story.htmlShare This Post
A Commentary by Oliver Geden
Limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, as called for by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has become patently unrealistic. Political will is lacking, and emissions continue to increase. The target needs to be revised.
At the United Nations climate conference in the former German capital of Bonn on Wednesday, delegates and stakeholders discussed the options for reaching the overarching objective of international climate policy: that of limiting the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That upper limit is considered to be the threshold to "dangerous climate change."
Technically, the goal might still be achievable. But from a political point of view, it has become patently unrealistic. And since a target that is unattainable cannot fulfill either a positive symbolic function or a productive governance function, the 2 degrees Celsius target will ultimately have to be modified.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/climate-change-target-of-two-degrees-celsius-needs-revision-a-904219.htmlShare This Post
President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree to wind down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs
The agreement between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to wind down the production and consumption of a class of chemicals commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners could mark a key step toward eliminating some of the most potent greenhouse gases.
By Steven Mufson, Published: June 8
The United States and roughly 100 other countries have already pledged to seek substitutes.
Both countries will try to persuade others to join effort to slash or end use of the potent greenhouse gas.
For the first time, the United States and China will work together to persuade other countries, most notably holdouts such as Brazil and India, to join the effort to slash or eliminate the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
The chemical group currently accounts for only 2 percent of greenhouse gases, but consumption is growing exponentially as people in developing countries grow wealthy enough to purchase air conditioners. A global push to get rid of HFCs could potentially reduce the greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, equal to roughly two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions, experts estimate.
Obama and Xi said they would use the framework of the Montreal Protocol, established in 1987 to combat the use of chemicals that were depleting stratospheric ozone. The Montreal Protocol succeeded in phasing out nearly 100 chemicals, but one unforeseen side effect was to spur the production of HFCs, which are short-lived and do not damage the ozone but are hundreds to tens of thousands times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/president-obama-and-chinese-president-xi-jinping-agree-to-wind-down-production-and-use-of-hydrofluorocarbons-or-hfcs/2013/06/08/92e4d79e-d08f-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html?wprss=rss_nationalShare This Post
Timorese leaders push for a better deal from their offshore gas fields
Jun 8th 2013 | SINGAPORE
THE future finances of the young, poor nation of Timor-Leste, formerly East Timor, have become embroiled in allegations of skulduggery by Australia nearly a decade ago. Timor-Leste has taken its big, wealthy neighbour to arbitration over a 2006 agreement on the exploitation of oil and gas in the sea between them. Speaking on a visit to Singapore this week, Timor-Leste’s oil minister, Alfredo Pires, claimed to have “irrefutable proof” that, during negotiations in 2004, Australia’s secret services had illegally obtained information. His lawyer claims the Timorese prime minister’s offices were bugged.
Whatever the truth, leaders in Timor-Leste feel Australia took advantage of them. In 2004 the tiny nation was still recovering from the devastation that followed its vote for independence from Indonesia in a UN-organised referendum in 1999. The Indonesian army and supporting militias had sought revenge in a rampage of killing and destruction.
Ever since, Timor-Leste’s hopes of prosperity have rested on offshore oil and gas reserves. But most are located in the Timor Gap, under waters also claimed by Australia. Cash-strapped and desperate for revenue to start flowing, leaders saw no option but to agree to treaties with Australia that many in Timor-Leste see as unfair.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21579074-timorese-leaders-push-better-deal-their-offshore-gas-fields-bugs-pipelineShare This Post