Solar Company Faces Biggest Bankruptcy In Spanish History

Lord Stern is a member of Abengoa's international advisory board; photo: Focus AbengoaLord Stern is a member of Abengoa’s international advisory board; photo: Focus AbengoaAbengoa is a Spanish company that was another of President Obama’s personally picked green energy projects, and it’s now on the verge of bankruptcy, potentially saddling taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab and fueling the notion that the administration repeatedly gambles on losers in the energy sector. The renewable energy firm said Wednesday it will begin insolvency proceedings, a technical first step toward a possible bankruptcy. International banks’ total exposure to a full Abengoa bankruptcy stands at about $21.4 billion, according to Reuters news agency, meaning the company’s downfall would end up being the largest bankruptcy in Spanish history. –Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times, 25 November 2015

Public support for a strong global deal on climate change has declined, according to a poll carried out in 20 countries. Only four now have majorities in favour of their governments setting ambitious targets at a global conference in Paris. In a similar poll before the Copenhagen meeting in 2009, eight countries had majorities favouring tough action. Just under half of all those surveyed viewed climate change as a “very serious” problem this year, compared with 63% in 2009. The findings will make sober reading for global political leaders, who will gather in Paris next week for the start of the United Nations climate conference, known as COP21. –Matt McGrath, BBC News, 27 November 2015

Fracking could start in Britain within months after the government intervened to fast-track applications to drill shale gas wells in Lancashire. Greg Clark, the communities secretary, wrote to lawyers for Cuadrilla yesterday saying that he had decided to have the final say on its appeals against Lancashire county council’s rejection of its fracking applications. The government has pledged to go “all out for shale” and in August announced changes in planning rules under which such appeals “will be treated as a priority for urgent resolution”. –Ben Webster, The Times, 27 November 2015

The Global Warming Policy Forum is calling on the Government to examine ways of speeding up shale gas exploration in the UK, following on from Lancashire County Council’s decision to reject Cuadrilla’s application for exploratory drilling at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool. The GWPF recommends that the Department of Energy and Climate Change should consider treating shale gas fields as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), which would give the Secretary of State the final say on planning applications  rather than local councils.  —Global Warming Policy Forum, 29 June 2015

Dozens of small nuclear reactors should be installed throughout the country near towns and cities if the UK wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the lights on, the former environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has said. “This is a well established technology,” he said in his first major speech since he was sacked in the summer Cabinet reshuffle. “We have nuclear plants in our submarines which are accepted.” The plan was among a set of energy measures Mr Paterson outlined on Wednesday in a lecture to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which questions the cost of many climate change policies. –Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 15 October 2014

The UK could be the global centre of a new nuclear industry in mini-reactors that are trucked into a town near you to provide your hot water, or shipped to any country that wants to plug them into their electricity grid from the dock. The chancellor, George Osborne, revealed on Wednesday that at least ¬£250m will be spent by 2020 on an “ambitious” programme to “position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”.   “Small factory-built nuclear plants could be located closer, say within 20 to 40 miles, to users and provide a combined heat and power function,” said former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson [in his GWPF lecture] in 2014. –Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 24 November 2015

Britain is paying a steep price for degrading its electricity system. In addition to the heightened risk of power cuts, subsidizing renewables is forecast to cost electricity users ¬£10 billion ($15.11 billion) a year by 2020. And that doesn’t include the cost of extra transmission infrastructure and the vast subsidies needed to induce investment in dependable generating capacity. The massive distortions created by subsidizing wind and solar leave the government facing a dilemma. Policy makers can accept that the market no longer works and replace it with a 21st-century form of nationalization, perhaps by having the state fund construction of the capacity it prescribes while private operators run it. Or Britain can end all subsidies for renewables and restore market disciplines and incentives for investment in reliable generating capacity. The government recognizes now the scale of the problem, but hasn’t yet figured a way out of the mess. Rupert Darwall, The Wall Street Journal, 27 November 2015