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Still no UK energy policy

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 27-Apr-09 02:57:25 PM

David Strahan, past guest on the DEA Podcast (Peak Oil & Climate Change), has written an article for yesterday’s Independent on Sunday titled A Government still addicted to petrol, in which he slams the budget as “utterly hollow”.

On the £2,000 car scrappage scheme, he highlights the inexplicable lack of any efficiency conditions. Lord Mandy sold the “efficiency” argument regularly as a sweetener for justifying the hand-out in the weeks prior to the budget announcement.

Strahan goes on to remind us how North Sea oil production has “halved since its peak in 1999, and is now dropping at 7% a year, dragging Britain ever deeper into import dependency.”

Still less will the budget measures improve the global oil outlook, where the IEA forecasts a “supply crunch” early in the next decade, Shell predicts production will plateau from around 2015, and even the head of the Libyan National Oil Company declares “peak oil is looming”.

OPEC expressed fears yesterday that oil prices ‘could approach the record prices of last July as the global recession halts investment in exploration and energy projects’, reports the Telegraph (Oil will hit peak after recession, says OPEC).

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Like others, David guardedly welcomes Ed Milliband’s announcement on CCS but calls it a “spectacular gamble.”

Under the measures, new coal-fired power stations will win approval only if the energy company commits to retrofitting CCS when the Environment Agency believes the technology (and commercial viability) is proven – a bit like driving a huge articulated truck down a one-way street then.

Via a 2% levy on bills, four new pilot plants will be constructed - but, he writes:

First, the pilot plants will capture only a quarter of the emissions of the new power stations, so for every tonne of carbon captured, three will continue to be emitted for perhaps a decade, during which time overall emissions must start to fall. A new coal-fired plant with 25% carbon capture would still emit far more CO2 than a new gas-fired plant without.

But what if it proves technically and commercially unviable (at least in time)?

Then, he writes, the Govt. is faced with a stark choice: “whether to close the power stations or sacrifice the climate.”

By then the ramifications could stretch into the mid 2020s.

Coal supplies questioned

The commercial viability question is then tested further. Strahan points to research predicting peak coal “as early as 2025.”

In January he wrote an article for New Scientist which you can read on his blog called The great coal hole.

Happy reading.

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