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ODAC Newsletter - Nov 4

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.

In a year when chaos is beginning to feel like the norm, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's out of the blue announcement calling a referendum on the latest Euro bailout plan caught even the most jaded observers by surprise. Although it looks as if the idea has now been abandoned, the likelihood of a still more serious financial crisis has surely moved a step closer.

The political drama did little to soften the oil price, however, supplies remain tight with the market in backwardation (oil for immediate delivery today is more expensive than for future months). OPEC has little incentive to increase supply even if it could, as members are increasingly lining up behind an ideal price of $100/barrel to support their budget commitments. Add to this worrying reports that the US or Israel may be planning missile strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and the news looks grim indeed.

In the UK this week hopes of a shale gas bonanza were dealt a blow as Cuadrilla Resources reported that it was "highly probable" that earthquakes in Blackpool were caused by their fracking activities. Desperation for an energy silver bullet has led to a lot of excitable press about shale gas, and the government has so far taken a rather laissez-faire approach to its development. Given the serious water pollution issues in the US, which have led to a number of regional moratoria and an Environmental Protection Agency investigation, we hope DECC would want to avoid making the same mistakes.

The UK today represents a microcosm of the current energy dilemma. Oil and gas production are in decline, energy costs are rising, and the race to avoid the worst impacts of climate change requires drastic cuts in emissions. Shale gas, along with tar sands and shale oil, offer an illusion that business might be able to continue as usual, but these are lower quality resources in terms of the energy they require to produce, pollution, and emissions. They are not the cheap energy sources on which our economy depends, and betting on them risks slowing the transition to a more resilient energy future.

So what of the UK government's plans to stimulate renewable energy? The government was accused this week of gutting the emerging solar industry with its proposal to cut the feed-in-tariff from 43.3p/kWh to 21p from December 12th. While there is certainly an argument that the cost of solar installation has come down since the launch of the FiTs, the proposed reduction is drastic and likely to result in the cancellation of projects. New requirements for energy conservation measures on buildings before qualification for the FiT have also been added — these were missing from the original legislation and make sense.

The government has succeeded in kick starting the solar industry with the initial FiT, but now looks like bringing it to an abrupt halt. The criticism that the scheme benefitted wealthier home owners at the expense of poorer households is fair, but the community and local authority projects which take longer to plan and would bring benefits to a broader section of the population are the ones most likely to get the axe.

View our Reports and Resources page

Oil

Oil Rises to Three-Month High as Greece Backs Down on Referendum

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Oil Inventories Slip, Slide Away

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Is this group think, or is the U.S. about to be energy-independent?

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Obama to make decision on controversial oil pipeline

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Military thinktank urges US to cut oil use

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Saudi opposition to Iran fades on $100 oil goal

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Gas

UK firm says shale fracking caused tremors

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Shale gas is no game-changer in the UK

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US to require details of fracking on federal land

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Electricity

Japan Winter Power Enough Despite Nuclear Lack: Government

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Nuclear

UK nuclear power plant moves step closer

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Village goes to high court over radioactive waste

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Fukushima fears played down by Tepco

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Belgium Agrees On Conditional Nuclear Exit Plans

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Nuclear Phase-Out Faces Billion-Euro Lawsuit

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Renewables

Solar subsidies to be cut by half

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Government accused of 'destroying 25,000 green jobs'

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Nine in 10 homes will have to spend more to qualify for solar subsidies

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Is clean energy headed for a crisis?

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Morocco to host first solar farm in €400bn renewables network

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Lesotho to harness wind and water in huge green energy project

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Clean energy in California: On its own sunny path

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Biofuels

Brazil Lacks Cane to Boost Fuel Exports, Senator Says

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Climate

UN Body Urges Europe to Omit Foreign Airlines From CO2 Curbs

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Geopolitics

UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears

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Israelis hold defense drill for missile attack

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