Hydraulic Fracking Protest in England

Top 3 stories
1) Scotland bans fracking

Scotland announced a moratorium on fracking, everyone including the BBC, FT and Telegraph report.

The moratorium on the unconventional gas and oil extraction technique will last pending the outcome of a full public consultation and more research into the impact on public health.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the Holyrood government had taken “a cautious, considered and evidence-based approach” to fracking.

But the Tories and Liberal Democrats said Mr Ewing and Labour were indulging in “political posturing” over who could be seen to be most hostile to fracking ahead of the general election, regardless of the damage to the Scottish economy, according to The Telegraph

Full control over fracking is due to be devolved to Scotland after May’s general election.

This comes after MPs rejected a ban on fracking in a vote in the House of Commons on Monday.

Meanwhile, the first meeting of the Scottish energy taskforce convened yesterday to discuss possible redundancies in the sector.

2) Ovo challenges Big Six

The Mirror reports small energy company Ovo has announced a 10.4% reduction in its bills to reflect the low wholesale power price – more than double the cut of any of the Big Six (see graph below. Credit: The Mirror).

The wholesale price crashed nearly 30% but the Big Six suppliers cut their rates by between 1.3% (EDF) and 5.1% (nPower).

Ovo

ICYMI – Zach’s piece on the alternatives to the Big Six.

2) China’s coal industry takes a hit

China’s coal production is estimated to have fallen 2.5%in 2014, the first annual drop in more than a decade, hit by a war on pollution and government efforts to tackle a supply glut as demand from industry and the power sector weakens, Reuters reports. (See our analysis here.)

This comes as Shaanxi province declares it will levy a 6% resource tas on the coal industry – following other provinces such as Shanxi, Mongolia and Ningxia, writes the China Spectator. The Shaanxi Coal Association says the new resource tax is likely to increase the burden on the industry which is already struggling as a result of low prices. The association estimates 50 to 60% of coal producers are losing money.

Meanwhile, there are reports of China’s Shenhua Group getting the go ahead for a giant open cast coal mine in Australia’s Gunnedah Basin – although Peabody has recently seen a massive US$530m hole in its Australian earnings last year.

In other news

International coal firm Peabody Energy, the biggest coal producer in the US, says it’s ‘ready for the coal market to turn’ after Q4 losses led to the company slashing its dividend and projecting huge losses.

Oil is hitting six-year lows, but low oil prices won’t hurt renewable energy, says US EIA, as tax incentives outweigh its impact. (See our analysis on how low oil prices might affect UK renewables.)

Glencore is considering a partial shutdown of a coal unit in South Africa in what would be the most decisive response so far to weak coal prices by one of the world’s largest exporters, the FT reports.

India’s ambitious plans to more than double coal output to increase power generation will not face the heat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent commitment to tackle climate change, The Times of India writes.

And the US is playing catchup with offshore wind, reports Climate Central.

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