Energy Report from the FT
The Financial Times had another blockbuster special report on energy out a couple of weeks back. Some highlights:
- US policy: A nation in thrall to the power of oil in which we learn that federal policy has been generally a failure for decades – no news there, I’m afraid. “The only really successful federal policy has been support for the maize-based ethanol industry, which now supplies almost a 10th of the nation’s petrol and consumes more than a third of its corn. But that is better understood as an agricultural subsidy than as a solution to concerns about energy security and climate change.” Ouch. (I would, however, continue to represent, as much as the conventional wisdom would have it that the Obama Administration is failing in much the same way as most previous governments, that there has been considerable progress in the last two years – quantum leaps in fact.)
- US power inputs: Usurpers mount challenge to the ascendancy of King Coal – “Ageing plants, rising Chinese demand for coal supplies, new environmental regulations, and – above all – competition from cheap US and Canadian gas production are combining to threaten the future of coal-fired power generation.” Yeah! (The transition from coal to gas – and eventually to renewables – seems to be in full swing.)
- Alternatives: Algae offer double benefit as biofuel and carbon capture – One project I’ve noted is the one in Venice that will use algae to power a 40MW plant and use the carbon dioxide to grow the algae. Closed loop. (As William McDonough would say: There are no wastes, only nutrients.)
- China: Beijing in the running to take crown for wind turbines – “On optimistic assumptions, it could have 230GW by 2020, concluded an October report by the Global Wind Energy Council, Greenpeace, and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.” That would be, in a word, spectacular.
- In Britain, a new subsidy system is igniting an explosion of solar power installation.
- China, South Africa, India and Europe are all expecting a flood of new natural gas from shale formations, as the US has been experiencing. Is that realistic? Well the Russians, for one, are quite worried about Europe weaning itself from its dependence on Russia’s gas.
- And the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has created another level of concern regarding accidents, leading to greater application of safety measures and more inspections.
This is, as usual from the FT, some extremely informative and useful reading.