The Daily Bulletin - June 22, 2015
EIA ESTIMATES THAT NEW EPA RULES WILL SHUT 90 GW OF COAL BY 2040
Meanwhile, the EPA continues its campaign for shutting down coal plants. In fact, the effort is accelerating. As James Ayre of CleanTechnica reports: “A new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected that the new carbon emissions rules from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) will result in coal-fired power plant shutdowns potentially more than doubling. To be more specific, the new rules (which are being supported by the Obama administration) could result in a projected 90 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants being retired by the year 2040. This compares against the roughly 40 GW of coal-fired power plants that would likely be shutdown anyways by 2040 in the absence of the new carbon emissions rules. . . . A rise in electricity prices of as much as 3-7% throughout the 2020s as companies take action to remain in compliance (as compared against the scenario without the new rules); and a rise in renewable energy capacity 160% above where it would be without the rules — altogether, resulting in a projected 174 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2040.” Even without the Pope's environmental encyclical, the EPA seems determined to carry out its campaign against coal.
SPECULATORS RETREAT AS OPEC CROWDS OUT SHALE
Hedge funds and futures traders are beginning to get a clearer picture of oil prices as the Saudis keep pumping at record levels and the U.S. says shale oil supplies will be on the decrease. According to Moming Zhou of Bloomberg: “Money managers trimmed their short wagers in West Texas Intermediate oil by 4.3 percent and long bets by 0.2 percent, leading to a 0.8 percent gain in the net-long position, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data for the seven days ended June 16 show. Net-long positions in Brent crude dropped for a sixth week. Trading in futures is falling as WTI swings in a $5 range, the narrowest in 19 months. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped the most oil last month since October 2012, while the U.S. government says output will start falling from this month. Investors are watching a June 30 deadline for Iran and six other nations to reach a nuclear deal that could lift oil sanctions and further swell a global supply glut. ‘It’s tough to get conviction one way or the other,’ John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone June 19. ‘The narrow range can lead to diminished activity until the market can get a break-out signal.’ It looks like those low prices are here to stay for a while.
IN THE NEW ERA, THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OIL
As new forms of oil replace the conventional types, Deborah Gordon of the Christian Science Monitor asks the question, “What constitutes oil?” “What is seemingly a simple question is becoming harder to answer. From its sheer volumes to what it’s made of and its environmental impacts, the next century of oil will likely be very different from the last. Despite John D. Rockefeller’s successful corporate marketing, there is no standard oil. . . . Although Conventional oil reserves, the principal liquid petroleum resource that fueled the twentieth century, are depleting, there is no shortage of alternative oils around the globe. In fact, there may at least 500 years of oil in place, a significant share of which may be technically recoverable over time. Three-quarters of the estimated 24 trillion barrels of alternative oils buried in different formations will likely require unconventional techniques to extract, refine, and consume. This highlights the fact that oil resources will need to be managed anew in terms of their infrastructures, economics, safety, local environmental, and global climate impacts.” Still, oil is oil no matter where it’s found.
THE GUARDIAN THINKS CARBON CAPTURE COULD BECOME A REALITY
Brian Clegg of The Guardian thinks that new technologies are advancing at a pace that could make carbon capture in Britain and the United States a reality within five years. “With an immense scientific consensus that manmade greenhouse gases cause climate change, there is pressure to reduce carbon emissions, but little sign that governments can reach a binding agreement to cut back sufficiently. The answer may be a new material that is a thousand times more efficient at capturing carbon dioxide than trees. This substance, a synthetic resin, is a part of diverse attempts to make carbon capture and storage (CCS) practical. Mercedes Maroto-Valer, professor of sustainable energy engineering at Heriot-Watt University, defines CCS as ‘a portfolio of technologies that aim to separate carbon dioxide from other gases, then capture and store them in a permanent situation’. CCS is a pragmatic solution, recognizing that we will continue to emit CO2, and so need to remove the gas from the atmosphere and store it away where it can do no harm. There are two primary strategies for capturing carbon dioxide. The natural mechanism is absorption by plants, which use CO2 to build their carbon-based structures, emitting oxygen as waste. Trees absorb a considerable amount of carbon and lock it away for much longer than smaller plants. However, trees take decades to reach a state when they absorb significant quantities of carbon. Trees, like the new resin, take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere wherever they are located. This makes for easy deployment, but limits the rate at which the gas can be removed. The alternative strategy is to take CO2 directly from the exhausts of power stations and carbon-intensive industries such as steel and concrete production, where the gas is much more concentrated. Maroto-Valer notes ‘these provide percentage levels rather than parts per million levels. A gas-fired power station might produce around 5% carbon dioxide and a coal fired station 10 to 12%.’” Removing carbon from the atmosphere the way trees do it would make a lot of people happy.
DC ARCHBISHOP SAYS POPE GIVE CLIMATE 'MORAL DIMENSION'
With the Pope speaking out on climate change and world poverty, the American clergy is beginning to show support. As Mark Hensch reports in The Hill: “Cardinal Donald Wuerl said on Sunday that Pope Francis provides a moral element to the debate over climate change. ‘That’s what the church brings, that’s what he brings to this discussion,’ Wuerl told host Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘We have to look at this through the moral dimension of, ‘How does this affect everyone on the planet?' asked Wuerl, the archbishop of the Catholic Church’s Washington, D.C. diocese. Wuerl was commenting on the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change and its environmental impact last week. Francis said in the letter to the entire Catholic Church on Thursday that humanity has a direct role in causing climate change. ‘What we get is the moral frame of reference for how we arrive at those positions,’ Wuerl said of the pope’s new encyclical. ‘I think that’s the richness to his contribution to all of this,’ he added. This puts a powerful moral force on the side of solving climate change.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH ISN’T HAPPY ABOUT THE POPE’S ENCYCLIC
The Daily Telegraph, Britain’s leading conservative daily paper, says that by expressing concern about global warming, the Pope has joined a great deal of the population in a land of make-believe. Columnist Christopher Booker makes the case: “What has a Papal Encyclical calling on the world to end its use of fossil fuels and to pray to God for the success of the global “climate summit” in December got in common with the Greek euro crisis, the ominous rift between the West and Russia, and the shambles Europe is making over the desperation of African and Syrian refugees to find safety this side of the Mediterranean? They are all different aspects of the two greatest acts of political make-believe of our time, so all-pervasive that it is hard for us to grasp just how much effect they are having on all our lives. When future historians come to look back on our age, few things will puzzle them more than the extent to which our politics became so dominated and bedeviled by two belief-systems, each based on an obsessive attempt to force into being an immensely complicated political construct which defied economic, psychological and scientific reality.” Global warming continues to raise passions on both sides.