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Daily Briefing

18.08.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

18.08.2017 | 9:51am
DAILY BRIEFING Caudrilla begins drilling for shale gas in Lancashire, Macquarie completes £2.3bn Green Investment Bank deal
Caudrilla begins drilling for shale gas in Lancashire, Macquarie completes £2.3bn Green Investment Bank deal

News.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla drilling for shale gas in Lancashire

Drilling has got underway at a fracking site in Lancashire. Cuadrilla started drilling a pilot well yesterday to identify the best locations for shale gas extraction at the Preston New Road site in Little Plumpton. The 3,500m pilot well will be followed by two horizontal wells. Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, described it is “an important milestone for the energy industry in the UK as well as the community in Lancashire”. The works starts almost three years later than planned, says the Times. Cuadrilla hopes to start fracking the wells “at the end of this year”, and the shale gas they produce could be supplying homes by the middle of next year. A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group, which has been protesting at the site, said they were “bitterly disappointed that Cuadrilla have reportedly commenced drilling at the Preston New Road site, despite a legal challenge still being in progress,” reports DeSmogUK. “They seem to have a total disregard for the local community, despite on many occasions saying they wish to be good neighbours,” they added. Yesterday, Cuadrilla made its first payment of £100,000 to a fund that will support community projects around its Blackpool site, notes the Financial Times, which forms part of industry efforts to overcome grassroots opposition to fracking.

BBC News Read Article
Macquarie completes £2.3bn Green Investment Bank deal

This morning, Australian bank Macquarie confirmed completion of the £2.3bn takeover of the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). The UK government agreed in April to sell the GIB to Macquarie in a privatisation that “drew criticism from some British politicians and environmentalists who accused ministers of giving up a powerful tool for driving investment in green technology,” says the FT. Macquarie insisted it should be seen as a positive sign of renewable energy evolving from an industry dependent on government support to one able to compete for mainstream international investment. “When we started in 2012 . . . it was about proving to mainstream institutional investors that you can deliver a financial as well as an environmental return,” said Edward Northam, who was head of investment banking for the GIB and will take charge of the “Green Investment Group”, as it will be called. “The industry is now different. It has proved its investability,” he told the FT. BusinessGreen also has the story.

The Financial Times Read Article
Approaching eclipse sheds light on US solar energy expansion

With a total solar eclipse set to traverse the US on Monday, several outlets have looked at the impact it could have on solar power through the day. “In California, the grid operator is lining up additional supply from natural gas power plants and hydroelectric dams to accommodate the drop,” says the FT. The contingency plans reflect the expansion of solar energy in the US since the last eclipse in 1979. “The rise has been especially dramatic in California, which seeks to get half its power from renewable sources in 2030 in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions.” The California grid operator said it would have to fill a gap of 6,000MW as people turn on the lights during the day — enough power for 6m homes. Bloomberg runs through some key questions, such as “How much will the eclipse affect solar power?”(“Enough to notice”) and “Might there be service disruptions?” (“That’s highly unlikely”). And Wired takes a closer look at how California’s grid will react to the eclipse.

The Financial Times Read Article
World on course for one of warmest years on record even without a natural El Nino boost

Last month was the warmest July in the 137 years since records began, according to Nasa. The latest data from Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) shows that average global temperature was 0.83C higher than the average for July between 1951 and 1980. This puts it in a statistical tie with the same period last year, which was found to be 0.82C warmer than the average. Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of the GISS, tweeted that there was a 77% chance that 2017 could be one of the two warmest years on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also released its data for July, reports Bloomberg, which finds that last month was the “second hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880.”

The Independent Read Article
Shell takes $14bn gas gamble with world’s biggest floating structure

“Prelude” is the biggest floating structure ever built. Built at a cost of $14bn, the structure is 488 metres long, making it longer than four football pitches. It is Shell’s new “flagship facility” for floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) – part of Shell’s strategy for retaining its position as the world’s largest independent producer of LNG – which arrived in Australia last month to begin commissioning. The structure is used to liquefy gas from remote offshore fields without the need for onshore facilities to turn it into LNG. It can also be towed to different fields when the original one is depleted. Shell has not revealed the cost of Prelude, which it says will go into production next year. But it says lessons from the vessel will cut the cost of future projects.

The Financial Times Read Article

Comment.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power — a gift for making statistics enthral

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”, Al Gore’s follow-up documentary 11 years after “An Inconvenient Truth”, goes on general release across the UK today, and so several papers have reviewed the new film. “An Inconvenient Sequel is as much education tract as movie,” writes Nigel Andrews in his three-star review for the FT: “Gore has a gift, here as in Inconvenient 1, for making statistics enthral. Screens behind him explode with graphics as he strides the lecture stages.” The Telegraph‘s film critic, Robbie Collin, also gives the film three-stars, noting that “its various argumentative manoeuvres are pulled off with the grace of a reversing bin lorry.” “But,” he adds, “it still politely seizes you by the lapels, makes its case with range and precision, and sends you home with a carbon-neutral fire in your chest.” The film gets four stars in both the Timesand the Guardian. Gore “emerges as a cannier performer and a more compelling subject than he was in 2006,” writes Mike McCahill in the Guardian. And his “passion for the cause is palpable as he compares the environmental movement with other great progressive battles,” says Ed Potton in the Times: “With the rise of renewable energy, it’s a battle that you can actually see Gore’s side winning. If they do, films like this one will have played their part.”

Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times Read Article
My electric car perks are shockingly generous

Writing in the Times, Ed Conway, the economics editor of Sky News, takes aim at the “lavish grants” that helps him afford his electric car. “There is a grant of up to £4,500 against the cost of the car itself, a grant to help pay for your home charging point, free road tax (provided you bought before this April), generous capital allowances and, if you live in Scotland, the government will even give you an interest-free loan. Oh, and you also get free electricity to charge your car (and free parking) if you pick the right charge point.” He and his other electric car owners don’t “deserve this charity”, Conway says, but “my only defence is that I am a human being, and human beings respond to incentives.” In striving to meet the goal of cutting emissions, “the government is undermining its efforts to tackle other goals (cutting congestion; narrowing the gap between rich and poor),” he argues. This raises the question: “is the long-term objective, the creation of a working market for electric cars, worth the short-term problems?” Conway asks.

Ed Conway, The Times Read Article

Science.

Offsetting global warming-induced elevated greenhouse gas emissions from an arable soil by biochar application

Biochar, the burying of charcoal in the soil, is a potential mechanism to sequester carbon. A long-term soil warming experiment was conducted where soils were warmed by 2.5C since July 2008. Researchers found that heating the soil increased total CO2 emissions from the soil by 28%, but that biochar buried in the soil did not result in extra CO2 emissions accompanying warming, but did increase N2O emissions, another potent greenhouse gas. These findings suggest that warming may reduce the potential of soils to sequester carbon, and that increased N2O emissions under warming limit the greenhouse gas mitigation potential of biochar.

Global Change Biology Read Article
Observations and modeling of ocean-induced melt beneath Petermann Glacier Ice Shelf in Northwestern Greenland

A new observationally-based estimate of melt under the Petermann Glacier Ice Shelf in Northwestern Greenland finds that melt rate is two times larger in summer than in winter. Researchers estimate that summer melting increased by 24% beneath the ice sheet from the 1990s to the 2000s due to a 0.21° C warming in ocean temperature and a doubling in subglacial runoff, contributing to its thinning. If the ice shelf collapses, they estimate that the modeled melt rate of nearby glaciers could increase 13–16 times.

Geophysical Research Letters Read Article

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