Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Shale gas potential delays new natural gas pieline under the Baltic

November 19, 2013

It will be slower than in the US, but shale gas will also be a game changer in Europe. Even though Russia has huge reserves of shale gas and shale oil, they would also prefer that the transition to shale gas should not go too fast. They have so much invested in the Natural Gas infrastructure that they need to keep the sales of natural gas going to ensure a return. Gazprom has the enviable dilemma of protecting an existing revenue stream by preventing the too rapid establishment of another revenue stream. One problem for Gazprom of course is that shale gas is much more widespread across Europe and their virtual monopoly with Siberian natural gas will be threatened.

In any case the energy scene is changing fast and the planned investment in additional gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany have been delayed by Nord Stream.

Swedish Radio News: The gas pipeline consortium Nord Stream are delaying their plans for one or two more pipelines under the Baltic Sea. According to Nord Stream’s adviser, Lars Grönstedt, the shareholders want further analyses of the rapidly changing energy market. 

The USA has quickly become almost self-sufficient in energy because of its own shale gas , and it has led to Europe buying more cheap coal than before. “I can not comment directly on the shareholders’ deliberations. But I can guess that since gas has changed to such an extent just the last twelve months , it needs some deeper analysis” says Lars Grönstedt. 

Nord Stream pipeline image http://russia-media.ru/

Nord Stream’s current pipeline has two channels extending from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany under the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe.  

Nord Stream had planned to add one or two further gas pipes and held public information meetings last spring –  including on Gotland. It is a project that is expected to cost about $9 billion, and in Sweden alone could create some two hundred jobs during construction. 

Nord Stream’s shareholders, five European energy companies , including Russia’s Gazprom , have postponed these plans. The changes in the energy market as Lars Grönstedt mention, are due in part to America’s increased shale gas . 

I suspect that Gazprom’s best way of maximising revenues is by holding up current natural gas prices but not so high that the development of shale gas is accelerated and not so high that gas users shift to coal (as the large utilities are doing in Germany). A delicate calculation and which would require a slow development of their gas distribution pipelines.

But for the private consumers, the lowest cost would be if shale gas development was speeded up.

 

German hard reality is 10 new hard coal power plants to generate 8GW

November 18, 2013

It was inevitable.

The ridiculous energy policies in Germany in subsidising renewable energy and shutting down nuclear plants is backfiring. Green Energy policy in Europe has been at the cost of about 15 million jobs in lost growth opportunities.

They left themselves no option but to return to coal.

It is only a matter of time before the intransigent “green” lobbies of Europe are forced to face realities and cut back the wasteful subsidies on renewable energy and allow the fracking of shale for gas and to return to nuclear power. It has been a costly 3 decades of “green” madness.

1. RT News: 

Germany’s ‘green energy revolution’ costing billions

In the wake of Fukushima, Angela Merkel said Germany would phase out nuclear power by 2022 and subsidize renewable energy. Average German consumers can’t afford the ‘green’ subsidies as they drive up energy prices and suck profits from energy companies.

In the next 27 years, Germany will spend 550 billion euro on renewable technologies like wind and solar, in the hope of attaining 80 percent renewable energy by 2050. 

“It’s being sold on the message it’s either wind energy or radioactive catastrophe, this plays on fear, and makes money for wind energy providers,” Petra Dahms, anti-wind power activist, told RT. 

According to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, Germany’s energy costs are 40 percent higher than in neighboring France and the Netherlands. …… 

2. Bloomberg

Steag Starts Coal-Fired Power Plant in Germany

Steag GmbH started Germany’s first new power plant fueled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.

The 725-megawatt Walsum-10 plant, located near Dortmund in the western part of the country, began electricity output today, the Essen-based company said in an e-mailed statement. It will probably start commercial operations later in the year after “optimization works and testing,” it said.

The plant is the first new hard-coal-fired generator in Europe’s biggest power market since 2005. It marks the start of Germany’s biggest new-build program for hard coal stations since its liberalization in 1998. Ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 megawatts, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years, according to information from German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur and operators.

“Coal prices recently fell to their lowest price for over four years in October and carbon prices are half what they were two years ago, making coal-burn extremely attractive to generators in terms of profitability,” Gary Hornby, energy markets analyst at Inenco Group Ltd., said by e-mail today.

The price for coal used in thermal plants for delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp next year, dropped to a record low of $80.25 a metric ton on Oct. 14, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The contract traded at $81.60 at 2:51 p.m. London time, broker data show.

Greens fail in Berlin referendum

November 4, 2013

In Germany the greens believe that it is worthwhile to pay exorbitant prices for electricity if it is from renewable sources. That “feel-good” view does not quite pass muster in not so good times. It is beginning to sink in through the German electorate that the shift away from nuclear and coal is not only very expensive, it also achieves nothing.  A referendum called in Berlin to satisfy the Greens’ needs to reduce coal utilisation has failed to garner enough votes to go forward.

BBCA bid to renationalise the electricity grid in the German capital Berlin has narrowly failed in a referendum. 

The measure was backed by 24% of those eligible to vote, but a quorum of 25% was needed for it to pass. It had been supported by green groups, who believe the current provider relies too much on coal. Opponents said it would burden Berlin with debt.

The wording had called for Berlin to set up a public enterprise to trade in electricity from green sources and sell it to residents. Voters were also asked to decide whether the city government should open the way for the grid to be taken back into public ownership.

There has been disappointment in Germany that privatisation of the energy grid has not always led to the hoped-for falls in prices and improvements in quality. The switch from nuclear to solar and wind power has also led to a steep rise in electricity costs.

But the authorities in Berlin – which is already 60bn euros (£50bn; $80bn) in debt – said the city could not afford to renationalise the grid.

Berlin has the dubious pleasure of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe (which may ensure a place for some residents in their imagined green heaven but may lead them to bankruptcy in this life). Berlin residents pay more than twice the price that Helsinki residents pay.

Forbes: 

Residential-Energy-Prices-by-City-EU-2013

The good people of Berlin pay more for electricity than residents of any other major city in the European Union, according to the Household Energy Price Index for Europe.

VaasaETT, an energy think tank based in Helsinki, Finland, tracks monthly prices of electricity and natural gas for utility customers in the capital cities of 23 European countries.

The price customers pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity varies by as much as 127% across these 23 countries.

After adjusting for purchasing power, Berlin becomes the place with the most expensive electricity in Europe followed by Prague and Lisbon.

Meanwhile, Helsinki has the cheapest electricity followed by Stockholm. …

 

Biofuels produce twice as much carbon dioxide per kWh as natural gas

October 31, 2013

Of course, carbon dioxide is proving to be of much less importance to global warming than the alarmists would have us believe. Sharply increasing carbon dioxide concentrations have had no impact on global temperatures for the last 17 – 18 years and the supposed link between man-made carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures is looking very shaky.

It has been another “feel-good” assumption that burning wood, peat, bioethanol and biofuels in general are “carbon neutral”. But that is just wishful thinking. “… only about half as much CO2 per kWh is released when using natural gas rather than wood”.

“Both this and the original method used models of the forest. Models are by definition simplifications. The simplifications a researcher makes will vary according to the issues at hand, the questions being asked. You realise how much earlier analyses have oversimplified things when more refined models yield completely different answers.” 

ScienceNordic reports that scientists from the Cicero Centre for Climate Research and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used a new method for quantifying the contributions of bioenergy to global warming as compared to fossil energy such as oil and gas.

But further research now indicates that the real climate effect of wood burning is less advantageous.

“By refining their method I determined that the emission of one kg of CO2 from biomass is the equivalent of about 1.25 to 1.5 kg fossil CO2.  So it’s much higher and less climate friendly,” says Bjart Holtsmark, a researcher at Statistics Norway.

In other words, if Holtsmark’s calculations are correct, the climate impact of using slow-growing forest wood for fuel is greater than the burning of fossil fuel, given a 100-year time frame.

Holtsmark says that the original method failed to account for how logging leaves behind dead tree parts. When trees are cut, a considerable amount of tree “waste” remains in the forest to rot and oxidise – and emit CO2.

“This aspect of the carbon balance sheet for bioenergy needs to be included,” he says. “The usual practice in forestry is to take out the trunks, while leaving the branches, treetops, stumps and roots. But the trunk only comprises half the tree’s living biomass.”

He explains that even if the branches and tops are taken out with the trunks, the stumps and roots will be left behind to oxidise into CO2. …… 

…. Holtsmark also asserts that the combustion of timber releases more carbon dioxide per kWh of heat energy than oil and gas.

“For example, only about half as much CO2 per kWh is released when using natural gas rather than wood. When this is taken into account, the picture for bioenergy from slow growing forests becomes even less advantageous.”

Removing visual pollution

October 16, 2013

The wind turbines seem to have been replaced by sheep!

Four wind turbines in the Yorkshire Dales are the first in Britain to be torn down

The 150ft high turbines of Chelker Reservoir, near Ilkley, will not be replaced after the council refused permission for two even bigger machines. According to campaigners, the turbines have not worked in years. In an unprecedented move, the utility company sent in contractors at the end of last month to dismantle the rusting structures.

Chelker Reservoir, Addingham, Yorkshire - Chelker Reservoir wind turbines are dismantled

Chelker Reservoir, Addingham, Yorkshire – Daily Mail

 

What energy shortage?

August 21, 2013

Energy Distribution of the Universe: Chandra

Most of the Universe is dark. The protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the stars, planets and us represent only a small fraction of the mass and energy of the Universe. The rest is dark and mysterious. X-rays can help reveal the secrets of this darkness. X-ray astrophysics is crucial to our understanding not only of the Universe we see, but the quest to determine the physics of everything.

  • Dark Energy

    At the close of the 20th century, our perception of the Universe was jolted. Instead of slowing down after the Big Bang, the expansion of the Universe was found to be accelerating. Was the cosmic acceleration due to Einstein’s cosmological constant, a mysterious form of “dark energy,” or perhaps a lack of understanding of gravity? The answer is still out there. By studying clusters of galaxies, X-ray astronomy is tackling this question using powerful techniques that are independent of other methods currently being employed or proposed for the future.

  • Dark Matter

    The next chunk of the Universe’s budget is another unknown: dark matter. Of all of the material we know about because we can see its gravitational effects, about 85% is composed of matter that emits no light and is radically different from material found in planets and stars. X-rays can be used to study the effects of dark matter in a variety of astronomical settings, and thus probe the nature of this mysterious substance that pervades the Universe.

 

Europe is paying the price for its infatuation with renewable energy

July 30, 2013

Electricity and the price of its generation is now one of the most fundamental parameters which steers the economy and industry and ultimately the level of unemployment in any country. It ought not to be subject to the misguided whims and fancies of “feel-good” environmentalism, but for the last 2 decades much of Europe has been travelling down a cul-de-sac chasing a mirage. Instead of just focusing on generating electricity at the lowest possible cost while keeping the air and water sufficiently clean, politicians have been lured down the renewable energy path in a fantasy of saving the world from the imaginary dragon of carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of just using wind and solar energy in the special niches they are suited to, they have been subsidised and promoted as basic generation which is a role they cannot fulfill.

The US with its much lower electricity prices now has a significant competitive advantage over Europe and will come out of the  recession much faster as it creates jobs.

As David Garman and Samuel Thernstrom write in the Wall Street Journal:

Europe has bet big on wind and solar energy, and many environmental advocates would like America to follow. Wind and solar have a role in the U.S. energy economy, but we would be wise to see the cautionary tale in the European experience and adjust our plans accordingly.

Wind and solar generate 3.5% of America’s electricity today, but Denmark gets 30% of its electricity from wind and hopes to produce 50% by 2020. Germany, Europe’s largest national economy, produces roughly 12% of its electricity from wind and solar today, and it wants renewable energy to account for 35% of electricity generation by 2020.

Clean energy powered by renewable resources is understandably attractive. But the honeymoon with renewables is ending for some Europeans as the practical challenges of the relationship become clear.

The first challenge is cost. Germany has reportedly invested more than $250 billion in renewable energy deployment, and its households pay the highest power costs in Europe—except for the Danish. On average, Germans and Danes pay roughly 300% more for residential electricity than Americans do.

But it is not just price that is at issue. The reliability of electricity supply is not helped by the inherent instabilities of having too much dependence on intermittent and unforeseeable sources.

Another challenge of Europe’s growing dependence on renewable energy is far more serious: the potential loss of reliable electrical supply. It’s one thing to ask consumers to pay more for cleaner energy; it’s another to force them to endure blackouts. …..

……. Grid operators generally rely on coal and nuclear plants to meet baseload demand while modifying gas and hydroelectric power output to meet shifting demand. But electricity from wind and solar is variable and intermittent. Nature determines when and how much power will be generated from available capacity, so it is not necessarily “dispatchable” when needed.

When intermittent renewables are small players in the grid, they can be easily absorbed. But as they reach European levels of penetration, the strain begins to show. There are increasing reports of management challenges resulting from wind and solar across the European grid, including frequency fluctuations, voltage support issues, and inadvertent power flows. Anxious operators are concerned about potential blackouts.

In an April 17, 2012, letter to EU Commissioner for Energy Gunter Oettinger, for example, Daniel Dobbeni, the European Network of Transmission System Operators president, said grid operators are “deeply concerned about the difference in speed between the connection of very large capacities of renewable energy resources and the realization in due time of the grid investments needed to support the massive increase of power flows these new resources bring.” He also expressed great concern “about the potential destabilizing effect of outdated connection conditions for distributed generation that are not being retrofitted anywhere fast enough.”

The article continues with a warning to the US about unhealthy subsidies.

There is also an important lesson in the European experience with energy subsidies: Focus incentives so they reward the right behavior. Lavish subsidies for wind and solar have changed Europe’s generation mix, but the costs have been high because the subsidy structure prioritized mass deployment rather than efficiency, reliability and innovation. Even in the U.S., the wind-production tax credit has occasionally produced “negative pricing”—that is, turbine operators pay grid operators to take their power even though it isn’t needed, just so the wind generators can collect tax credits.

Czechs jump off the renewables train to nowhere

July 30, 2013

From Power Engineering:

The Czech Republic’s government has voted to end support for renewable power generation in a bid to reduce rising consumer electricity bills.

The law proposes to stop subsidies for new projects and goes in to effect from 2014.

Subsidies for renewable-power sources have raised prices for Czech energy users in the past three years as the cost is passed on through customer bills.

Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said in the statement, that rising electricity prices “threatens the competitiveness of our industry and raises consumers’ uncertainty about power prices.”

Only hydro, wind and biomass power plants that got construction permits in 2013 will be eligible for support if they’re completed before the end of 2014, the statement said.

The profligacy of “green” power is not sustainable

July 16, 2013

Chasing “green” fantasies about renewable energy are proving to be among the most profligate of all the misguided policies which build on alarmist scenarios. Renewable energy has its place but it is the “green” belief that it could replace fossil fuels which has proven to be nonsense. And what is worse is that the pursuit of “low carbon” energy serves no purpose whatsoever. It is just waste which has cost Europe many millions of jobs and has unnecessarily prolonged the recession. Perhaps as many as 15 million jobs in Europe have been “lost” based on the growth that has been suppressed by high energy prices.

Financial Times: 
RWE npower became the first of the big six power suppliers publicly to warn that the government’s green policies will cost consumers more, saying energy bills would rise by more than 19 per cent by the end of the decade.

The Telegraph:

A household’s energy bill will rise from £1,247 today to £1,487 by 2020 in real terms – not taking into account inflationary increases – if usage remains static, npower warns in a report. Costs caused by government policies such as subsidies for new wind farms and energy efficiency schemes will be the main driver, adding £144, it claims.

…. The report finds that the costs of upgrading Britain’s ageing gas and electricity networks would be the next biggest driver of bills, adding £114, while the costs of the nationwide roll-out of “smart meters” that send automatic meter readings back to suppliers will add £24.

Profits will account for £71, or just under 5pc, of the bill by 2020, up £12 from today, but a significant jump from £18 in 2007.

The impact of fracking Eagle Ford shale in Texas

July 5, 2013

It is seen as a “game changer” and the numbers are persuasive. It is certainly a step-change – and what a step!

Oil: Production data for April show how fracking has shattered not only the shale rock in formations like Texas’ Eagle Ford and Permian Basin but also the myths of “peak oil” and petroleum as an energy source of the past.

As Mark Perry notes on his Carpe Diem blog, Texas produced an average of 2.45 million barrels a day (bpd) of crude oil in April, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s the highest average daily output for Texas in any month since April 1985 — 28 years ago.

In only 2-1/2 years, the Lone Star State has doubled its crude output, making it what Perry dubs Saudi Texas and reversing a 23-year decline that fueled speculation that the maximum rate of petroleum extraction has been, or will soon be, reached.

In only 2-1/2 years, the Lone Star State has doubled its crude output, making it what Perry dubs Saudi Texas and reversing a 23-year decline that fueled speculation that the maximum rate of petroleum extraction has been, or will soon be, reached.

As of February, the most recent month for which international oil production data are available, Texas would be the 12th largest oil producer in the world if it were a separate country, only slightly behind Kuwait and Venezuela. This is due to an oil boom that’s added the equivalent of the Bakken formation in North Dakota to the state’s output in just the past 16 months.

At the current pace of output gains, Texas’ production will likely surpass 3 million bpd by year-end, pulling it ahead of Venezuela, Kuwait, Mexico and Iraq to become the equivalent of the ninth largest oil-production “nation” in the world.

The Eagle Ford shale formation, a 400-mile-long, 50-mile-wide, crescent-shaped field in the south central part of the state, is still brimming with crude. Its production in March rose 77% from a year earlier to 529,900 bpd, the Texas Railroad Commission reported.

This of course has contributed to a job boom, just as in North Dakota. Over the 12 months ended in May, Texas payrolls swelled by 325,000 positions, equivalent to a 3% annual increase. Every business day over the past year, almost 1,500 new jobs were created in the Lone Star State.

A report by the University of Texas, San Antonio, showed that in 2011 alone Eagle Ford supported 38,000 full-time jobs, generated $10.8 billion in gross regional product and poured millions into state and local tax coffers.

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/070213-662299-texas-eagle-ford-shale-sparks-boom.htm#ixzz2Y9R2M2wr 


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