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Energy for the future

Editors Katherine Blundell & Fraser Armstrong, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (UK)
The most recent issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is devoted to issues surrounding climate change and energy. The preface and introduction are open to the public, as are the abstracts of the research articles, but access to the articles themselves must be purchased.

Preface by Robert M. May
The climate on our planet, over its billions of years of existence, has varied a lot–from times when the entire planet may have been enveloped by snow and ice (‘snowball Earth’) to times when tropical animals inhabited the polar regions. ..
So what should we be doing? One thing is very clear. The magnitude of the problem we face is such that there is no single answer, no silver bullet, but rather a wide range of actions must be pursued. Broadly, I think these can be divided into four categories: adapting to change; reducing wasteful consumption; sequestering at source some of the CO2 emitted in burning fossil fuels; and moving towards renewable sources of energy which do not put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. ..

Introduction: energy for a sustainable future by David A. King
.. If we take our current geological knowledge, we know that there is a finite amount of fossil fuel resources on the planet. The current BP estimate, at the current rate of usage of 88 million barrels of oil a day, is 41 years of oil left. This includes the hard-to-obtain oil. The current Chinese usage of oil, extrapolated out to 2030, is 100 million barrels of oil a day; this is for China alone.

Factoring all of this in, which of course cannot happen, would mean there would not be enough oil by 2030 for China to have 100 million barrels of oil a day. We can say oil is very definitely going to be used up. The problem is with coal, where we have at least 600 years of reserve at current rate of usage. If we convert coal to oil, as we move forward in time, and burn all of that, then I would suggest that we are in deep trouble with atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Use of coal is what we have to bring under control. ..

Emissions trading is a critical part of the process. Any country looking at energy policy would see security of supply, emission reduction and energy costs, and maintaining competitiveness of the economy as the critical factors. These are the key drivers and what we are all trying to work on. Emission trading in Europe was introduced at Euro8 per ton of carbon dioxide, far too low to bring on board the right kind of behaviour, but the market knew better; the market drove it up to approximately E28 per ton, and several billion pounds have now been invested in this.

I am now invited remarkably often into the City, the Square Mile, to talk about climate change, because this is now seen in the City of London as a massive investment opportunity. When the question is ‘what is the market going to push that up to?’ my answer is: ‘what would it cost to capture carbon dioxide at a coal-fired power station and store it?’ and this is one way of giving the price of carbon dioxide. In my view, we should be heading towards E50-55 per ton at today’s level, and so it is a good investment to make in carbon dioxide shares right now, because these are going to rise.

Research-Articles [subscription/pay required]:
Good enough tools for global warming policy making
Socolow and S.H. Lam

Nuclear energy: current situation and prospects to 2020
Sue Ion

The path to fusion power
Chris Llewellyn Smith and David Ward

Wind energy
W.E. Leithead

Marine energy
David Kerr

Photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy
Michael Grätzel

Biological solar energy
James Barber

Pathways to hydrogen as an energy carrier
Thorsteinn I. Sigfusson

Hydrogen energy
P.P. Edwards, V.L. Kuznetsov, W.I.F. David

Impact of enhanced geothermal systems on US energy supply in the twenty-first century
Jefferson W. Tester, Brian J. Anderson, Anthony S. Batchelor, et al.

Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage
Sam Holloway
(15 April 2007)

NZ’s energy future in a carbon-constrained world

David Parker, NZ Minister of Energy
The title of my talk today is “New Zealand’s energy future in a carbon-constrained world”. For without doubt, the world is changing — and changing very rapidly. ..

One of the issues that the NZES looks at is the role of demand-side response in a competitive market such as we have in this country. Without demand-side response ability, electricity markets could be more prone to supply failure, price volatility and market power abuses when supply is tight. Right now, we don’t think the demand-side response currently provided by our market is meeting its full potential.

Price signals are considerably muted for residential customers and small to medium sized business customers just about all of whom are on fixed-price contracts. To promote demand-side management we need to deploy new technologies, new forms of contract and improved customer awareness.

That’s why it is pleasing to see various electricity companies advancing their own initiatives for their customers, including smart meters. ..

Another very important component of demand-side management is the encouragement of energy efficiency measures. ..
(6 Mar 2007)

South Island Set To Lose $2.7 Billion

Press Release, Kyoto Forestry Association (New Zealand)
The South Island could lose at least $2.7 billion and potentially up to $4.2 billion from the Government’s decision to nationalise Kyoto carbon credits legitimately owned by forest owners and forestry investors, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) said today.

The association released the calculation on the eve of the Government’s consultation meeting at Christchurch’s Russley Hotel at 9:45 am tomorrow, Tuesday 6 March.

It is based on an estimate of the area of post-1990 Kyoto-qualifying forestry in the South Island, derived from official MAF forest area data by age class and territorial authority, and an estimate that carbon credit values will reach between $13,000 and $20,000 per hectare during the life of a forest.

Canterbury’s loss will fall at between $575 million and $885 million, according to the analysis.

KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said more than 1,400 forest owners had attended MAF consultation meetings in the North Island and Nelson, and had delivered an overwhelming message rejecting the Government’s confiscation of carbon credits and its plans for massive new taxes on the forestry industry.

“Canterbury forest owners need to unite with the rest of the industry and make the message unanimous throughout the country,” Mr Dickie said. “We need to leave the Government in no doubt that we will never accept our carbon credits, or any other property, being confiscated by the Government without compensation.”

Kyoto carbon credits, which the Government plans to confiscate, are earned by those individuals and businesses that sequestered carbon by planting new forestry since 1990, and by those industries which have cut their carbon emissions since then. ..
(5 Mar 2007)

Green group seeks afghan refuge

Asher Moses, Sydney Morning Herald
The mining industry is engaged in a bitter row with protest group Rising Tide over an anti-mining website, which the group launched to parody the NSW Minerals Council’s latest “spin” campaign.

The council succeeded earlier this week in having the website – – shut down using copyright laws, but it has already sprung back onto the web. The site is now hosted on servers located in Afghanistan, which could place it outside the jurisdiction of Australian law. ..

Newcastle-based Rising Tide’s website spawned following the council’s recently launched advertising campaign, designed to convey “all the great things that the mining industry has to offer”.

The campaign – whose slogan is “Life. Brought to you by mining” – spans across print, TV, online billboards and a website, Rising Tide’s response to the campaign was to register its own website,, as a satirical counter-argument.

Its parody slogans included “Propaganda. Brought to you by the mining lobby” and “Rising sea levels. Brought to you by mining”. ..

This is despite the laws containing exceptions that apply “where a person or organisation can demonstrate that their use of copyright material is a fair dealing for parody or satire”, according to a fact sheet posted on the website of the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock. ..
(6 Mar 2007)
See also Sydney Indymedia and Greens Party press release. Apparently the Minerals Council is using laws brought in under the 2004 Australia-USA Free Trade Agreement.-LJ