EXETER, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (C) views a solar panel being exhibited as she tours the Devon Show on May 16, 2013 in Exeter, England. One of the region's biggest county shows, it is often seen as a curtain raiser for the whole showing season. As well being a agricultural livestock and produce showcase, it is also used as a barometer for the health of the whole agricultural industry in general.  (Photo by Matt Cardy - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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1) UK energy politics: No more ‘blank cheque’ for clean energy as UK cuts solar subsidies

The Telegraph reports that Green energy industries will no longer receive a “blank cheque” from consumers, Amber Rudd has vowed, as she announced cuts to subsidies for solar farms which The Guardian reported may save consumers 50p a year (we think they were being a bit snarky). 

Predictably the move went down rather badly with the clean energy sector with one partner at Ernst and Young commenting “I can’t think of any players or commentators involved in UK energy that would think killing the onshore wind sector (our cheapest source of energy in this country) and trying to curtail the solar sector (our second cheapest form of energy) is a good idea on any level.”

Whilst the narrative is depressingly simple (and repetitive) the policy is really quite detailed so I decided to take a look the winners and losers from the government’s changes in renewables policy. Is it consumers or is it – essentially – a tilt away from the widespread drive to “decentralise” or “democratise” energy and back towards a more utility driven model.

2) Global oil: US oil prices fall (again) as BP struggles

Here is a graph worth thinking about. It shows what has happened to oil [production since 2009 for the world’s largest oil companies (BP is the line in green).

And here is another thing. US oil prices fell back below $50 dollars yesterday after data suggesting the US had more oil in reserve than people thought. The WSJ’s “moneybeat” blog (which has the graph) says that of all the giants BP is the one facing the biggest problems.

3) Energy companies: Iberdrola sees coal fall, renewables rise, EDF faces big bill

A spate of company news this morning.

Spanish energy giant Iberdrola saw it’s profits rise on the back of an expansion in renewable energy output and a weak currency. It’s UK division Scottish Power reported a 24% drop in its UK coal-powered electricity generation in the first half of this year as gas and renewable generation both rose.

Things aren’t so peachy for the French state-owned energy firm EDF which  EDF has been hit with a €1.4bn bill as the European Commission ruled that the French government had granted the electricity company – which is struggling to raise financing for a raft of new nuclear power plants including one in the UK – illegal tax breaks.

And finally UK-based explorer Cairn Energy is set to vote against an offer by Vedanta Ltd to buy out minority shareholders in its former subsidiary Cairn India, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke to the FT.

4) China energy: Largest solar plant starts, Microgrids launched, Fusion researched

China continued it’s apparent mission to beat everyone else at every aspect of the whole clean energy thing.

The Economic Times reports that China has started construction of its largest solar power plant spread over 6,301 acres in the Gobi desert that can supply electricity to 1 million households in the country’s northwest.

Chinese press, meanwhile, note that China – in stark contrast to the UK –  is set to develop a renewable energy micro-power grid, to further promote the sustainable development of energy resources, according to the National Energy Administration on Wednesday.

Finally the New Scientist reports that China could be ‘ahead of everyone’ on Nuclear Fusion by 2030, beating a large international project based in France. Quelle Surprise.

In other news:

Arctic: Shell denied permits to drill into offshore Arctic oil reserves until US regulatorssee that safety equipment is in place. The company’s capping stack, a last line of defense against an uncontrolled well blowout, isn’t in the Arctic after the icebreaker hauling it had its hull damaged this month.

Fracking: New research suggests impact of shale gas in curbing US emissions has been overstated with economics, not gas, the main driver of the fall. Commenting on the study Prof Kubacek said “It is a myth – in terms of the economics of the whole system, natural gas is also competing with renewables,” says Prof Kubacek. “The other question is what happens with the coal that the gas displaces – if you take it out of the ground, it’s going to be used somewhere. The whole gas story doesn’t make a difference.” Just for the record – we covered this ages ago.

Climate: Threatened UK bird species may benefit from climate change says The Times as Bloomberg reports on claims by Democratic presidential no hoper Martin O’Malley that climate change fuelled the rise of ISIS in Syria as a result of droughts in the region.