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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

onshore and offshore renewable energy, 4GW+ of which needs to be linked to the central belt. Scottish and Southern Energy will upgrade the existing 137-mile electricity transmission line from Beauly, near Inverness, to Denny, near Falkirk. 25

7.1.10. Gas supplies cut to businesses in the British NW as freezing spell hits western Europe. 95 companies on interruptible contracts are affected. EEF the manufacturers association, says: “unless we invest in gas storage facilities to the same levels as other industrialised nations, this could have a very damaging effect on manufacturing companies in the future.”  The spot price of gas has risen sharply to 56p per therm, but still well short of the 2006 peaks of over £2 per therm.26

Large parts of freezing China now face power cuts as gas is limited. Demand has gone up and coal production has been disrupted.27

EDF boss says nuclear is essential, and will be cheaper than gas, coal with CCS, and renewables. Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF Energgy, says that “using gas, additional offshore wind or clean coal instead of nuclear could cost consumers dearly. EDF Energy is among the companies developing renewables towards the government’s target. But replacing the planned 16GW of new nuclear capacity with offshore wind beyond the existing renewables targets could add about £100 a year to typical domestic energy bills (NB EDF says £40 for nuclear …so less than half as expensive), or possibly more, according to our calculations. The impact of clean coal would be only slightly lower. Gas-fired generation could also carry a high price. If fossil fuel prices return to their 2008 peak, using gas to replace nuclear would add around £60 to annual household bills. Of course, depressed fossil fuel prices could reduce this impact. But using more gas would do little to cut emissions and would increase concerns about energy security. The message is clear: if we are to cut emissions and keep bills affordable we need the cheapest low-carbon technology – nuclear.”28

Google asks for regulatory approval as an energy supplier. Last month the internet search company created a subsidiary called Google Energy. Now it seeks approval from FERC to buy and sell power like utilities do. Google says its primary goal was to gain flexibility for buying more renewable energy for its power-hungry data centers. 29 But ….Google’s Green energy czar, Bill Wiehl: “We also saw a real gap in what I would describe as “engineering innovation,” between what happens in a basic research lab and what happens in a typical venture capital-funded company.  From an engineering point of view, it seems like it ought to be possible to do this, but no one’s actually ever designed this thing to really drive the costs down really low. What if we were to try? What if we were to fund someone else to try?” His unit’s goal is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. The three most likely candidates for the breakthrough, he believes are CSP, enhanced geothermal, and high altitude wind. B ut: “As a society, we have chosen to invest too little in alternative energy over the years, and that has made some of the choices much harder than they should be. We should have been investing much more in solar [photovoltaics] since the 1970s than we have.”30  

8.1.10.£40bn bonus pa outs to bankers show government efforts to have made no difference. The $65bn handout by the world’s biggest banks means they have elected to take the UK Treasury's 50% tax hit themselves rather than pass it on to their workers. An Illinois pension fund has argued in a lawsuit filed yesterday that the payments harm shareholders. Goldman Sachs maintains the lawsuit is “completely without merit”.31

German firms win most of the deals in the UK’s giant offshore wind licensing round. Nine consortia sign agreements with the Crown Estate, the body with responsibility for renewable power in UK waters, to take their proposals through the planning stage. Only three have British majority stakes, and only 5 involve British firms. Eon, RWE and Siemens are big winners. Some $75bn in contracts and 70,000 jobs are at stake in the c 32GW of offshore wind (6,500 turbines) intended to generate 25% of UK electricity by 2020.32

UK imports electricity from France to meet demand in the cold spell. At 2.30pm today France was sending 1,766 megawatts under the Channel.33

9.1.10. Chinese renewables boss sees limited scope for CSP in China, preferring PV but Chinese companies are pushing ahead developing plenty of CSP nonetheless. Li Jenfung says concentrating solar power works best when cheap water, cheap land and lots of sun are available in the same place, and this is a rare combination in China. he also expects it to prove more expensive per kilowatt-hour generated than PV. Li is a deputy director general for energy research at the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency in China, and secretary general of the government-backed Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

10.1.10. US banks braced for bonus backlash. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others prepare to be assailed by protest as they hand out massive bonus packages. GS considers a programme that would oblige its top executives to give a percentage of their package to charity. This would copy a policy at failed bank Bear Stearns, with required a 4% charity contribution from 1,000 executives in a programme that ran for decades. “Goldman set aside $16.7 billion for compensation in the first nine months of 2009, and in good years, the firm dedicates about three-quarters of its compensation budget to year-end bonuses. The firm is expected to report later this month what could be record profit of about $12 billion for 2009, according to analysts’ estimates, compared with $11.7 billion in 2007.”34

New fears about future gas supplies, as UK government signs off on new gas power plants. This new “dash for gas is fuelling concerns that Britain’s infrastructure may become more vulnerable to extreme weather and supply disruption. Some 14,000 megawatts of new gas-fired generation have been approved. Gas-fired capacity abailable this winter is about 25,000MW,35

Fear about nuclear radiation are irrational, says Oxford physics professor. The health dangers from nuclear radiation have been oversold, according to Wade Allison, who argues that low levels of radiation can be easily tolerated by the human body and that the government is right to promote nuclear power for climate change, therefore.36

11.1.10. Deep within Gazprom’s HQ, an engineer in a control room explains how he could turn off the lights. An engineer explains how easy it would be to turn out the lights in a foreign city with the click of a button on his desk,” Dan Roberts writes in the Guardian. Gazprom claims to have natural gas in Siberia equivalent to all the oil and gas fields owned by western energy companies put together. 50.1% state owned, its taxes provide some 20% of the Russian government’s income. “Rumours persist that senior government figures (including Vladimir Putin) have sizeable indirect holdings.” The gas giant has had a bad year, but is bouncing back, given

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