United Kingdom’s coal-free days brought to you by natural gas
Amy Harder, Axios, June 5, 2019
The United Kingdom just broke records for the number of days it went without any coal-fired electricity — thanks largely to natural gas. Driving the news: The 18-day streak was snapped late yesterday, according to the UK’s electricity operator. Coal has historically been the nation’s dominant electricity source. Natural gas burns 50% less carbon emissions than coal. Due to several factors — notably a carbon price policy implemented in 2013 — the UK’s coal use has plummeted; natural gas has risen to make up most of the difference and emissions have dropped. The big picture: Natural gas is controversial in the world’s energy and climate debate. It’s still a fossil fuel, but the cleanest-burning kind, so when it’s displacing coal, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions as the accompanying chart shows. The experience in the U.K. shows what an outsized role natural gas can fill in countries seeking to reduce or eliminate coal altogether.
Our Take: See the article below. Natural gas isn’t a bridge fuel – it is a permanent part of the world’s energy future.
The Gas-as-a-Bridge-Fuel Pitch: Who Needs it?
Natural Gas World, June 5, 2019
Who first thought of the idea of promoting natural gas as “bridge fuel”? I remember that Shell launched a campaign promoting natural gas as “abundant, affordable and acceptable”. This must have been in 2012. In November of that year the Daily Telegraph published an interview with then-CEO Peter Voser, headlined: “Gas is abundant, affordable and acceptable. It’s also the future, argues Shell chief Peter Voser”. Responding to the news that the UK government was set to announce the construction of “20 new gas-fired power stations”, to replace coal power, Voser said: “In all of this we see very strong gas growth. It is really driven by availability – there is some 250 years of gas resources available. It is acceptable from a CO2 footprint point of view, producing 50% to 70% less CO2 than coal for example. It is affordable currently and in the longer term.”
Officials Say LNG Project’s Steel Pipeline Could Withstand Cook Inlet’s Currents
Jennifer Williams, KSRM, June 5, 2019
The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation told federal regulators that they are confident the Alaska LNG project’s steel pipeline could withstand Cook Inlet’s strong currents along the 29-mile underwater route to the gas liquefaction plant in Nikiski. The water-crossing information is among the remaining batches of answers the AGDC owes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is expected to publish its draft environmental impact statement this month.
“The strong tidal currents of Cook Inlet could potentially move debris and boulders across the pipeline,” AGDC reported in a May 24 filing with FERC. The project team analyzed what would happen if boulders as large as 10 tonnes (22,000 pounds) fell on the 42-inch-diameter pipeline, which would be laid — not buried — on the seabed floor. The analysis also looked at the risk of 15-tonne boulders “traveling at the maximum identified Cook Inlet bottom current velocity of 4.8 knots.”
U.S. report urges steps to reduce reliance on foreign critical minerals
Andrea Shalal, Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, June 4, 2019
The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday recommended urgent steps to boost domestic production of rare earths and other critical minerals, warning that a halt in Chinese or Russian exports could cause “significant shocks” in global supply chains. The report includes 61 specific recommendations – including low-interest loans and “Buy American” requirements for defense companies – to boost domestic production of minerals essential for the manufacture of mobile phones and a host of other consumer goods, as well as fighter jets. It also called for closer cooperation with allies such as Japan, Australia and the European Union, and directed reviews of government permitting processes to speed up domestic mining.
Our Take: From Senator Murkowski: “I welcome this report, which provides clear direction on how to reduce our reliance on foreign minerals and thereby strengthen our economy and national security,” Murkowski said. “I urge the administration to swiftly implement its recommendations, especially those that encourage domestic mineral production and continued research into processing technologies and will continue my work to complement these efforts with new legislative authorities.”
Activists Suffer Major Defeat as Shareholders Reject Climate Resolutions
Spencer Walrath, Energy in Depth, June 3, 2019
Last week, environmental activists upped the pressure on ExxonMobil and Chevron shareholders to pass extreme resolutions on climate change. Shareholders sent a clear message: no thanks. Chevron’s shareholder meeting included two climate resolutions: a measure to create a new board committee on climate and another demanding the creation of a report tracking Chevron’s emissions against the Paris Climate Accord. Both failed. At Exxon’s 2019 shareholder meeting, one shareholder resolution could only muster about seven percent of available shareholder votes. The meeting included two other failed climate resolutions: one resolution called for a report on climate risk on Gulf Coast petrochemical operations, and the other resolution advocated for an independent chairperson. The latter resolution was jointly submitted by the Church of England and New York State Common Retirement Fund, after their original motion was dismissed by the SEC as an attempt to micromanage the company.
Our Take: Good. There is no need for extreme resolutions when companies are already working to reduce emissions. It is the private sector that is investing in and developing the technologies that will address climate changes issues- no need to mandate extreme actions.