1) US: Obama boost renewables in rural Alaska
Speaking at a high school in Alaska, Obama announced Wednesday that the White House would launch a $4 million programme to hasten the development of renewable energy in remote Alaskan communities – part of a package of new initiatives aimed at reducing fossil fuel use and countering climate impacts in the region of the world that is warming the fastest (White House fact sheet).
The Denali Commission will be in charge of building climate resilience in Alaska ,and co-ordinating with state, local and tribal authorities. It also has a budget of $2 million for relocations due to climate change.
Republican presidential candidate and renowned climate denier Marco Rubio used Obama’s Alaska tour to criticise Obama’s interventions in climate and energy policy. He said US’ energy future should be determined by scientists and businesses “not bureaucrats”, and that he would get rid of the crude oil export ban if he became president.
The oil industry has long been pushing for a lift to the ban on crude exports, which has existed since the 1970s, and has now been using a new US EIA study to argue its benefits.
Rubio would also ditch Obama’s flagship emissions reductions policy, the Clean Power Plan and to give states more control over energy policy including fracking regulations, rather than it being decided at a federal level.
2) UK coal: Eggborough closure highlights controversy over likelihood of blackouts
There are conflicting views over whether the imminent closure of Eggborough coal-fired power plant, announced yesterday, will affect the UK’s energy security. The Telegraph’s Emily Gosden writes that the closure of the plant will increase the risk of blackouts in winter 2016-17, while The Guardian’s Terry MacAlister stresses that the UK government insists they have worked out a plan with the National Grid which means there is no such risk.
3) Oil: Prices down again – most volatile in 24 years
The oil price at its most volatile in 24 years, proclaims The Week, reporting that the strongest rally since Iraq invaded Kuwait earlier this week came to abrupt end, with oil prices falling over Tuesday and Wednesday.
Oil fell on Thursday, Reuters reports, with Brent at around $50 per barrel this morning, and WTI at around $46 per barrel.
In case you’re wondering why the oil prices jumped by 27% only a few days ago, here’s an explainer in Time.
In other news
Coal pollution: Radioactive contaminants have been found in coal ash, according to a Duke University study.
China coal: China power firms return to profit as coal miners lose out, Reuters reports.
Decarbonisation: Academics writing in Nature urge: make wind and solar power even cheaper by opening up access to the electricity grid and ending fossil-fuel subsidies.
Battery storage: Washington Post reports on the recent surge of uptake of storage in the US
Divestment: California has dropped coal investments from its public pension funds, says the NYT.
UK renewables: The ‘largest onshore wind farm’ bid in the UK has been approved, the BBC reports.
Gas: A Dutch court rules gas producer NAM must compensate homeowners in quake zone.