Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quote of the week: Pachauri’s recipe for IPCC messages « The View From Here
Considering that the “leak” to which he refers is that of the Second Order Draft (which in effect is the third draft, because the IPCC draft-counts start at zero) of Working Group I’s contribution to the 5th Assessment Report, surely the report should be more than “half-baked” at this point.
Weather latest: Chaos as Scotland is held in an icy grip - Environment -
Thousands of people across the UK contacted the AA’s breakdown service for help, with call-outs peaking at 1,800 an hour, including 23 for cars stuck in snow – mostly in Aberdeenshire, Oxfordshire and East Midlands.
Europe’s dirty secret: The unwelcome renaissance | The Economist
The relative price of coal and gas is crucial to the health of European utilities. At the beginning of November 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research firm, power utilities in Germany were set, on average, to lose €11.70 when they burned gas to make a megawatt of electricity, but to earn €14.22 per MW when they burned coal.
The difference reflects the prices of the fuels concerned. But there is more to it than that. Germany has an ambitious plan to shift from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables like solar and wind (this is called the Energiewende, or energy transformation). Electricity from renewables gets priority on the grid. That has allowed wind and solar to grab market share from fossil energy during the most profitable times of day, when utilities used to make most of their money and burning gas made sense (German electricity prices are at their highest in the middle of the day when solar generation is also strongest). By displacing conventional forms of energy this way renewables have undermined utilities’ finances. Moody’s, a ratings agency, recently said the whole sector’s creditworthiness is under threat.

In response, companies are switching from gas to coal as fast as they can, so renewables are in fact displacing gas but not coal. In Germany, RWE, the biggest user of coal in Europe, generated 72% of its electricity from coal and lignite (a dirtier, low-grade form of coal) in the first nine months of 2012, compared with 66% over the same period in 2011. Germany needs new capacity because it is closing down its nuclear plants  [Via Bishop Hill]

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