Top 5 stories
1) Air pollution rules proposed for Europe weaker than China – and watered down by industry
European air standards worse than China’s, and industry is weakening them, Zach writes for Energydesk.
The Guardian also covers this story on industry lobbyists watering down European air pollution rules and adds that “despite UK claims to the contrary, energy industry representatives repeatedly and forcefully pushed for weaker pollution limits at meetings in Brussels.”
In case you were wondering what these rules are, they’re called BREF and we explain all in our Q&A.
Meanwhile China has announced new targets for zero growth of its coal industry in key areas, and aims to reduce its energy intensity by 3% this year in a further effort to reduce its coal heavy coal consumption – resulting in air pollution, Reuters reports.
2) Coal mine deaths in Ukraine
The blast occurred in the rebel-held city of Donetsk near the battle front in eastern Ukraine. Kiev suggested the war with Russia had made the disaster worse, accusing separatists of holding up a rescue effort by restricting access. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has demanded access to the mine for government rescuers and police.
3) Oil prices fall again but not a huge amount and outlook improving
Oil prices fell on Wednesday after a glut in US crude stocks had built up, reports the Financial Post.
However, assurances from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister and Iran stressing it opposes a timeline for a freeze on nuclear activities both helped hold of the price from further falls.
In the UK, the chancellor George Osborne is facing renewed calls to reform North Sea oil and gas taxation as experts warn of an economic “triple whammy” for the industry, according to the Scotsman.
In related news, the FT writes that the British government has set Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman a seven-day deadline to explain why it should not block his purchase of a dozen North Sea gasfields this week from Germany’s RWE as part of a €5bn deal.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest listed energy company ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tiller has said the world should “settle in” for a period of relatively weak oil prices – as his firm said it will slash its capital spending amid increasing its oil production.
The Wall Street Journal reports firms are giving up on oil production in Yemen amid political upheaval.
4) US’ first offshore wind farm set to be built
Meanwhile, Business Green reports the UK’s offshore wind industry reveals cost reduction is running ahead of schedule.
5) ScottishPower punished over service issues
Energy giant ScottishPower has become the first of the Big Six suppliers to be banned from actively recruiting new customers, after regulator Ofgem found it had failed to address serious customer service problems, The Telegraph’s Emily Gosden reports.
She also writes that energy network companies face investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority after British Gas complained that the prices they charge are too high.
Meanwhile, Caroline Flint, shadow energy and climate change secretary writes in HuffPo that energy firms are getting away with overcharging three in four households.
In other news
The UK government’s capacity market scheme, meant to keep the lights on, could lead to unnecessarily high energy costs because it favours fossil fuel plants over smart technology which cuts demand, the Guardian reports.
Renewables have been sidelined in European Energy Union talks, according to Ends.
SunEdison, a US solar panel maker and power plant developer, has bought Solar Grid Storage LLC for an undisclosed sum to combine battery technology with its projects that generate renewable energy, Bloomberg writes.
The City of Oslo, Norway, has committed to divesting its $7 million worth of coal investments from its pension fund, Clean Technica writes.
Much of the smog in South Korea came from the country’s coal power plants and that it was not mostly blown over from China, reports the International Business Times.
A former opencast mine in the UK could now be the site of a solar and wind energy park, which has got planning permission, writes Click Green.
A floating solar plant is set to be constructed by an Australian firm on a wastewater treatment plant.
Northern Ireland’s first community energy project, to generate solar energy, has been launched.
Meanwhile, the Guardian asks: “Can solar power help bring millions out of the dark?”