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ODAC Newsletter - May 27

Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

There was a step forward this week for recognition of peak oil in the UK political agenda. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has agreed that the Department for Energy and Climate Change and ITPOES (UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security) should work more closely together on peak oil threat assessment and contingency planning. The news is of course welcome, although it is to be hoped that a DECC spokesman's assurance that a "call for evidence" will follow shortly doesn't mean that the government will opt for the endless consultation and little action mode of recent decades. In a side note, there is a certain irony that the alliance relies strongly on Chris Huhne, and thus runs the risk of being sidelined by a speeding ticket—should allegations about a penalty points violation by him prove politically ruinous.

In other UK energy news this week the government released further details about the green investment bank, on which much hope rests for supporting innovation in the clean energy sector. The announcement, which sets the bank out to be independent of government, and aims to add £15bn of investment in renewables by 2015, was generally welcomed by industry, though the lack of borrowing powers before 2015 is seen as a major weakness.

One possible threat to renewables investment could come from over reliance on gas, which is being pushed by industry as a 'lower carbon' option and fits the current centralized power generation model. This point was emphasised in a report released this week by the Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee on shale gas. While the report determined that there was "no evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself" is a risk to water supplies, it determined there was a risk of tilting investment away from clean energy, and that in order to decarbonize the energy sector, gas needed to be approached with caution. In determining fracking safe, the committee is essentially saying that the water contamination issues experienced in the US will be avoided here due to greater industry and regulatory vigilance. This is a risk which we must hope does not backfire. As useful as gas is, it is not as essential as clean water.

A chronic lack of water in central China, which is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, is one factor driving growing power shortages and blackouts across the region. The Three Gorges reservoir on the Yangtze river is being drained of 5bn cubic feet of water a day for drinking and irrigation at the cost of hydro electric power generation. Added to this high coal prices are resulting in less power as Chinese utility companies reduce output rather than lose money. A government cap on electricity prices prevents the power companies from offsetting the higher fuel prices. This could reach a crisis point as summer temperatures start to soar.

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Oil

Exclusive: Government to develop Oil Shock Response Plan

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Oil Rises on World Economy Outlook, Dollar; JPMorgan Sees OPEC Quota Gain

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Goldman U-turn fuels surge in oil prices

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Facing Up to End of 'Easy Oil'

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Ahmadinejad not to attend OPEC meeting

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Danish warship sails into Greenpeace Arctic oil protest

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Gas

MPs urge backing for UK shale gas

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Big Dogs of the Oil Patch Tangle Over Gas Subsidies

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Second largest gas field found in Turkmenistan

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Oil industry losing the shale PR battle

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Coal

Bill Allows Military to Use High-Carbon 'Liquid Coal'

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Electricity

Power vs. Profit

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China crisis over Yangtze river drought forces drastic dam measures

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Pylon competition seeks alternative to 'industrial soldiers'

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Eurotunnel to carry electricity from France to UK

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Nuclear

Europe divided over nuclear power after Fukushima disaster

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Renewables

Further details on UK Green Investment Bank

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Wind forecast upgrade should mean big drop in fossil fuel use

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Gas threat to wind farm growth

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Innovative solar storage plant lands $737m loan guarantee

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Biofuels

Green groups take EU to court over biofuels - again

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Gauge agreed for biofuel effects on world

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Economy

OECD sees risk of 'stagflation' for global recovery

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Transport

Horse-drawn rubbish carts make a comeback for Suez Environnement

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Ryanair set to ground more planes as fuel costs take off

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