George Osborne Visits Scotland

Global coal: China coal demand falls for 12 months on the trot as US coal production plummets

We report on how the world’s largest coal consuming country keeps consuming less and less coal. According to an Energydesk analysis of industry statistics, China’s ‘implied coal demand’ – the sum of production and net imports – has fallen by 10% in the past year.

The news comes as reports in China suggested that 80% of coal companies made a loss in the first half of the year with some facing bankruptcy. It’s not all bleak in the Chinese economy though, production of ‘new energy vehicles’ including hybrid and electric cars rose to 24,500 in August – that’s 372% more than last year if you are counting.

Over in the U.S. the Energy Information Administration lowered its outlook for coal production for a seventh time this year, projecting that output will slide to levels not seen since the mid-1980s.

However there is some ‘good’ news for the embattled sector. A Dutch court on Wednesday said an environmental licence issued for a major new coal-fired plant built by RWE was granted properly, removing the last hurdle to operating the 3 billion euro ($3.36 billion) plant at full capacity.

Nuclear power: UK finance minister gets sums wrong on Hinkley, FT calls for project to be abandoned

We report claims by UK Chancellor George Osborne that the UK taxpayer would have no financial exposure to the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, and that nuclear power is cheaper than onshore wind which are – at best – confused. Our story comes as the Times suggests the final cost of the project could come to £40bn and the FT arguesministers should use delays in the project to re-examine the entire thing suggesting other low-carbon options are falling in price.

Meanwhile in France Deutsche Welle reports a nuclear phase-out may be on the cards as the traditionally strong French nuclear power industry continues to be plagued by technical and financial difficulties and in Germany EON has abandoned plans to spin off its nuclear power business in the face of government concerns it was trying to limit it’s liabilities.

Oil markets: Oil prices, oil production, energy stocks fall amidst problems for frackers, North Sea

Bloomberg reports that the collapse of oil prices will have a slightly bigger impact on U.S. crude production this year and the next than previously estimated with shale drillers having sidelined around half their rigs in response.

In the UK the Telegraph notes that falling oil prices could lead to the closure of 140 fields in the North Sea over the next five years as operators accelerate plans for decommissioning amid drastic cost cutting. The low oil – and coal – price has also seen energy stocks lose value on global exchanges seeing the US market close down yesterday.

Carbon capture & fracking: Energy firms face bill for new technology, environmentalist backs fracking, but with CCS

The FT reports that oil and gas companies could be forced to pay millions of pounds to help combat climate change under a “polluter pays” plan debated in Britain’s Parliament designed to fund the expansion of carbon capture and storage.

The news comes as the BBC reports on a new study which suggests a new technique for securing and storing carbon dioxide could help to unlock the North Sea’s “vast” CO2 storage potential and the FT’s Pilita Clark investigates the efforts to deliver CCS so far.

The renewed interest in CCS came as leading environmentalist Baroness Worthington called on green groups to rethink their opposition to fracking – but said it should only take place if the emissions were captured and stored.

“We have to be realistic,” she told BBC News. “We are going to be using gas for a long time because of the huge role it plays for heating homes and for industry.

“The important thing is to minimize the carbon emissions from gas. That means if we can get our own fracked gas, it’s better to use that than importing gas that’s been compressed at great energy cost somewhere else.”

Climate change: EU could face climate refugees if climate talks fail

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, has called for the world to sign an ambitious deal to tackle climate change this year, and warned rising temperatures could worsen the migrant crisis Europe is currently facing. His calls echo the French President Francois Hollande who said there could be millions of climate refugees in future if climate change isn’t tackled.

In other news

US solar: Growing fast, but about to hit speed-bump

UK politics: New measures to cut bills

Offshore: India backs new offshore wind plan 

Gas leaks: Experts find gas leaking from 1,000 spots in New York City

Fracking: UK backs efforts to limit regulation on fracking