Be Prepared

“British Energy Policy” is a contradiction in terms. There has been no energy policy for at least twenty years, just a collection of ill thought out statements backed by political dogma which ignores the reality of what the United Kingdom needs for energy and how it can be done. It is likely that the next very cold winter that the United Kingdom experiences will see power cuts and gas shortages. Continue reading

South Stream Construction Halted

When the South Stream gas pipeline is finished Russia will through that pipeline be able to supply Europe with 15% of its natural gas needs. The line starts in Russia, will flow under the Black Sea and hit land in Northern Bulgaria, where it will then travel to Serbia, Through Hungary and Slovenia and thence into Italy. Gazprom hopes to own the pipeline and have paid for the construction thus far, but the European Union is uncomfortable with Gazprom owning 100% and seek to restrict its ownership to 50%.  Continue reading

Rearranging the energy furniture

In the United Kingdom energy prices, which for most people means electricity and gas for household consumption, have been rising far faster than the underlying raw material and delivery costs. As a result energy companies are making higher profits than utilities would normally deliver and some people are finding it hard to afford to keep their homes heated to a decent standard. As a result, last winter (which was one of the coldest for many years) 30,000 “excess deaths”, probably due to fuel poverty, happened.

With this situation of course the politicians have something to say and something to do. Continue reading

Earthquakes in USA May Be Due to Fracking Techniques

Northern Texas in the past three or four weeks has experienced an intense series of earthquakes. Historically this part of America has had only two earthquakes between 1970 and 2007, but in 2008 a series of minor earthquakes were recorded and in the last few days two earthquakes, each measuring 3.6 and 2.8 on the Richter scale happened. Continue reading

The Process of Lobbying for Fracking

The present discussions about fracking for shale gas shows the processes which occur when private enterprises undertakes tasks that are supposed to benefit the common weal. The same processes occurred when energy was privatised. There are four stages Continue reading

Burning the Unburnable

The London School of Economics and NGO Carbon Tracker made the news when they found that fossil fuel exploration companies spent £440 billion in 2012 looking for oil, gas and coal. They postulated that if this continues for ten years (reasonably likely in my view) the oil gas and coal found could not be burnt if governments adhere to their fossil fuel emission targets (unlikely in my view). The study points out that if the level of global warming was restricted to three degrees as opposed to the present two degrees, much of the fossil fuel found would be unburnable because of the three degree global warming target.

This study does not show that investors in fossil fuel companies are being misled because they are putting their savings into businesses that will be forced to fail because of the world’s global warming targets; this study shows that investors know that governments of the world will not stick to their global warming targets. The short term chase for money takes precedence over everything on our planet, even our planet.

Keeping the Gas On

As I write these words, on the second day of Spring after a long hard cold and wet winter in London, it is now snowing and the snow is settling on the roof tops and on the cars. Spring snow is rare, not quite as scarce as hen’s teeth, but an event to be noted. Continue reading

Update on Energy

Readers of these pages will know that for years I have been arguing that the United Kingdom’s energy policy is little more than a collection of words and ideas, rather than a real policy. It has tended to revolve around the generation of electricity, rather than understanding that heat is at least as important as electricity. We tend to worry that the lights will go out, rather than the fire going out. Today there are rumours that energy policy is going to be put on a more rational basis, but I am not too excited about the rumours. Continue reading

The Methane Leak at the Elgin Rig is Continuing

The first reaction by the government to the gas leak at theElginwell, off Moray inScotland, was that there was no significant environmental impact. Continue reading

Energy Statistics – statistics of a climate change policy failure

Are we creating fewer carbon emissions? This can be very hard to discover. If you want to look at the world as a whole you have to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere scientifically. The last most accurate measurement was 381 parts of carbon dioxide per million parts of the atmosphere. Various official bodies want to stabilise this at 400ppm, although 450ppm is thought by some to be the lowest achievable level. Some think that anything above 450ppm sends the climate into catastrophic change.

These are opinions, not facts; we do not really know what figure, if any, constitutes a tipping point beyond which the planet can never recover.One good way of looking at how we are doing as a country is to look at the quarterly statistics for energy collated and published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. As that name is not only a mouthful but indicates the diverse and curiously mixed responsibilities that the department undertakes.

They shorten it to BERR, although they went through a phase of calling themselves DBERR.

When you look at energy statistics take into account that at least 98% of the energy we use comes from fossil fuel and nuclear. Seeing whether we increase or decrease our energy use tells you whether we are likely to be pumping more carbon dioxide into the air or not, and by how much we are increasing the amount of nuclear waste we have to stockpile.

Once you make seasonal adjustments and adjustments for the weather it looks like we consumed 1.6% more energy than we did in the third quarter of 2006. That is not good.

Taking the fossil fuel sources individually, coal production is up but coal imports are down; 2.6% less coal was used to generate electricity in power stations, so that is good. Coal demand is marginally down. Oil is virtually unchanged, in terms of production and consumption. The UK is now a net importer of oil by more than 2 million tonnes a quarter. Gas production is down by 11.2% a year. Gas exports are down by 25% and imports up by 31%. Gas used for electricity generation is virtually unchanged. Taking a year on year view, gas consumption overall is up by 5%.

Making electricity is a big generator of emissions. As a country 25% of the electricity we use comes from highly polluting coal, 36% from gas and only 15% from nuclear. Nuclear usually accounts for around 20% but two nuclear power stations have been undergoing some much needed maintenance work, so the nuclear share is down this quarter.

Households account for 23.6% of the electricity used. I will not give price information for domestic gas and electricity because the statistics issued do not take into account the very high price rises recently announced. I can tell you though that an average home used £552 worth of gas and £383 worth of electricity in 2007, making a total energy spend in the home of £935. Recent price rises will take the average to about £1200, so start saving now.

Most people will have to earn £2000 in order to pay £1200 out of their wages for energy. If you earn £22,000 you will pay just under 10% of what you earn for energy, thus falling just outside the definition of being “fuel poor” and therefore you will not be entitled to any government help with the energy bills or measures.

If you decide to shop around for your electricity and gas in the hope of saving money you will need to know your energy consumption each year in kilowatt hours to get the best deal. You can find this out from your bills which show this consumption, but only if your meter readings are up to date. It is always worth reading your meter and send in the readings.

In case you cannot do this and you might find it helpful to know that the average home is thought to consume 18,000 kWh of gas and 3,300 kWh of electricity.

Cheap energy is now gone for good. Quite apart from the pressing environmental reasons, you need to save your wallet by switching off lights, turning the temperature down and unplugging appliances when not in use.

By mid December 2007 unleaded petrol was 17.2% up on last year and diesel 15.3% up on last year. Cheap car fuel has also gone for ever, so drive carefully, with a view to conserving as much fuel as possible, and if you can, stop taking the car for those very short journeys. Drive gently.

Overall, there is nothing in the figures to make me think that our carbon emissions are fallen; if anything the rate of emissions is probably marginally rising.Clearly the policy of the government of reducing carbon emisisions is failing completely.

These energy stats are very important but the way that I have presented them is I know not compelling. I will try to think of a way to remedy that, so we can keep track of prices and use at a glance.