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Surprises - May 1

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Shell ditches renewable stake amid fears of a retreat to carbons

Terry Macalister, The Guardian
The future of the world's largest offshore wind farm and a symbol of Britain's renewable energy future was thrown into doubt last night after it emerged that Shell was backing out of the project and indicated it would prefer to invest in more lucrative oil schemes.

Shell said the decision to sell its 33% stake in the £2bn London Array off the coast of Kent was part of an "ongoing review of projects and investment choices" and was not part of any major rethink about renewables versus other oil and gas projects.

But environmentalists will see the decision to drop one of only two renewable schemes being worked on by Shell in Britain as a further sign that the company is retreating back to hydrocarbons at a time when the price of oil has risen to about $120 a barrel.
(1 May 2008)


Nuclear's CO2 cost 'will climb'

Paul Rincon, BBC News
The case for nuclear power as a low carbon energy source to replace fossil fuels has been challenged in a new report by Australian academics.

It suggests greenhouse emissions from the mining of uranium - on which nuclear power relies - are on the rise.

Availability of high-grade uranium ore is set to decline with time, it says, making the fuel less environmentally friendly and more costly to extract.

The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

A significant proportion of greenhouse emissions from nuclear power stem from the fuel supply stage, which includes uranium mining, milling, enrichment and fuel manufacturing.

Others sources of carbon include construction of the plant - including the manufacturing of steel and concrete materials - and decomissioning.

The authors based their analysis on historical records, contemporary financial and technical reports, and analyses of CO2 emissions.

Experts say it is the first such report to draw together such detailed information on the environmental costs incurred at this point in the nuclear energy chain.
(30 April 2008)


Rockefellers call for change at Exxon Mobil

Michael Erman and Edward Tobin, Reuters
Members of the Rockefeller family are calling on Exxon Mobil Corp to make corporate governance changes and adopt a renewable fuels strategy to help address the soaring cost of energy.

John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Co in 1870, which was a precursor to Exxon Mobil. Exxon Mobil is the world's largest publicly traded oil company based on market capitalization ...

Fifteen descendants of the oil baron are involved in four shareholder resolutions seeking changes at Exxon...

They also seek to establish a task force study of the consequences of global warning on poor economies, called on Exxon to reduce greenhouse gas emission at its own operations and adopt a renewable energy policy.
(30 April 2008)


A Real Time Example of Energy Quality-
How Wind Turbines are Subsidized by Fossil Fuels

Nate Hagens, The Oil Drum
Global oil depletion is not immune to the Law of Receding Horizons, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns, nor it seems to the Law of Unintended Consequences. The Grangemouth refinery shutdown has apparently caused work on a new wind farm in Scotland to shut down for lack of diesel fuel. This is a real time example of how lack of systems analysis of our energy problem will lead to unanticipated problems.

Tomorrow we will highlight another in a series of analysis on Energy Return on (Energy) Investment. Though measuring an energy projects profit and cost in terms of energy is very important, all energy sources are not the same, and the word 'alternative' does not connote 'equality'. In effect, quality matters. Despite some attractive substitutes to oil and gas from an energy return perspective, ALL fuel sources are now heavily subsidized by an infrastructure built and maintained by cheap and constantly available liquid fuels.

In the comment section of theoildrums coverage of the Grangemouth refinery shutdown, we find that a diesel shortage has caused construction to stop on a $300 million wind farm.(hat tip to Undertow)

MORE than 100 construction workers could face the dole after the fuel crisis brought their project to a halt.

The drivers for Glasgowbased AB2000 were grounded at the new wind farm at Fenwick Moor, Ayrshire, on Thursday after contractors Morrison Construction were unable to find more diesel.

The job was restarted on Friday but bosses fear the limited fuel supply will soon run out and lead to job cuts.

Ted Reilly, of AB2000, said: "We have 70-odd vehicles stuck there because we are hiring men and vehicles to a contractor which can't supply diesel. That situation can't go on any longer.

This highlights an ongoing theme discussed on this website about wide boundaries and energy quality. We need energy to perform work. How we define 'work' is dependent upon how our society is structured. A handful of decades ago, crude oil, despite being extremely powerful and right under their feet, would not have meant much to Saud tribespeople in the Arabian desert, who valued fast, healthy horses as the 'energy quality' that powered their society. Similarly, today we are utterly dependent on crude oil and its refined end products of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and heating oil.
(28 April 2008)

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