Running Out Of Cash, Greece Returns To Coal

cartoonGreece’s energy minister Lafazanis said that [the coal-fired power plant] Ptolemaida V is required since renewable power plants are intermittent and endanger the country’s energy security. In May, Lafazanis sent a letter to the European Commission asking permission to operate the Ptolemaida III, a separate coal plant that is shut down due to its very old technology that pollutes the environment enormously. One of Lafazanis arguments was “the economic crisis in Greece, which makes the need for keeping the cost of energy for households’ heating as low as possible.” –Ilias Tsagas, PV Magazine, 19 June 2015

Poland’s leading opposition party is seeking to negotiate exemptions from the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal. Law & Justice, which opinion polls show winning October’s general election, has vowed to toughen Poland’s stance on climate issues to protect the nation’s $526 billion economy, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity. “The strategy that we’re planning for the economy rejects the dogma of de-carbonization,” Piotr Naimski, in charge of energy policy at Law & Justice, said in an interview last week. –Maciej Martewicz, Bloomberg, 22 June 2015

While the economic pressure on existing co-generation and conventional power plants is increasing, new power plant construction in Germany is facing a deepening crisis. Around 53 percent of all planned power plants lack secure investments. “If current policies continue as before, there will be no new, modern power plants built in Germany. There is simply no incentives for investment, even if policy makers always stress that they want to change that,” said Hildegard Müller, the president of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20 June 2015

Argentina and Venezuela should, based on their natural resource endowments, be among the most prosperous countries in the world. Toxic political cultures are making these countries poorer every day, and as their economies deteriorate their authoritarian populist leaders turn to ever more ugly and less effective policies. Capitalists around the world should thank heaven for both countries. By demonstrating the costs of economic quackery, Argentina and Venezuela do more for the cause of global capitalism than the Koch brothers could ever dream of. The American Interest, 20 June 2015

A US environmental group has written to Lancashire County Council urging it to refuse permission to allow test drilling for fracking. The letter, signed by 850 elected officials in New York State, comes days before the council decides whether to approve test drilling at two locations. The letter rejected the fracking industry’s case that it would bring jobs and prosperity. —BBC News, 20 June 2015

The obvious opening for new British energy policy is after the United Nations climate conference in Paris in November. It’s likely to be a fiasco: India and China are highly unlikely to sign up to any legally binding target to cut down on emissions. There is little chance of a new Kyoto Treaty, given the abject failure of the last one. So it will be time for a new conversation – and George Osborne has already started it. The Climate Change Act was written by Ed Miliband; we’ve been playing by his rules ever since. Yet it gives the government the power to set a new target, if there have been “significant developments” in scientific knowledge or European policy. There have been developments aplenty. It’s time, in short, for a rethink – and for the Conservatives to come up with their own ideas on energy. David Cameron and George Osborne have just defeated Ed Miliband electorally; now they have to defeat him intellectually. It should be a far easier task. –Fraser Nelson, The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2015

Over the last decade China’s primary energy consumption grew by 1398 million tonnes of equivalent (Mtoe). The annual average increase then was 140 Mtoe. That’s the context for judging the growth of wind and solar in China: 140 Mtoe of (mostly coal) energy added per year for the last decade. How does China’s world leading wind and solar build out compare with this? In total, China got 42.4 Mtoe from wind and solar in 2014. In other words, the total production of energy from wind and solar energy is less than one third of a year’s of growth in primary energy consumption. —Carbon Counter, 17 June 2015