Coal’s Demise Quickens in Europe as Market Shift Idles Plants. Use of the dirtiest fossil fuel has dropped this year as economics favor using cheaper natural gas. Commodity markets are stripping away the case for coal in Europe, moving quicker than government efforts to close the most polluting power plants. A plunge in natural gas prices along with an increase in the cost of releasing carbon dioxide emissions shifted the profitability of generating electricity away from burning coal, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF. The trend is evident in Italy, Spain, Germany and the U.K., each of which have cut the proportion of coal in their power mixes this year.
Bloomberg 22nd July 2019 read more »
At about 5am last Tuesday, a convoy of 26 lorries carrying pumps and giant coils of tubing made their way under police escort westwards down Preston New Road in Lancashire. Just after the village of Little Plumpton, they turned off into a field to their destination: Cuadrilla Resources’ exploration site, where the energy firm is preparing to resume work on the front line of fracking in Britain. Two kilometres below the ground lies a thick layer of shale rock that extends across much of Lancashire and that Cuadrilla believes contains 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. If a tenth of that could be extracted, it would equate to seven years of UK gas needs. Extracting it requires fracking: pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure, hydraulically fracturing the rock and allowing the gas to escape. In early 2014, the privately-owned company identified Preston New Road as the best place to launch a British shale gas industry, aiming to supply nearby homes a year later. Other firms jostled for exploration rights in northern England, while politicians talked of Britain emulating the fracking revolution that has transformed America into an energy superpower. Yet in the five and a half years since, the only fracking to have taken place is at one well at Preston New Road last year, and that did not go according to plan. Though Cuadrilla reported “highly encouraging” flows of gas, it was unable to complete the fracking after repeatedly causing earth tremors that forced it to stop under UK safety rules known as the traffic light system. It had to halt for 18 hours after each of the six “red light” tremors of more than 0.5 magnitude – one of which was felt by local residents. Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, warns the industry is “highly unlikely to be commercial” unless the seismic limits are raised and has been calling for a review – pointing to limits of between 2.5 and 4 magnitude elsewhere in the world. Having failed to convince the government, he is preparing to frack a second well before planning permission expires in November.
Times 22nd July 2019 read more »