Protests Continue At The West Sussex Fracking Site

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UK: Government approves fracking under national parks, announces solar subsidy cuts

Yesterday MPs voted on fracking rules that would allow drilling under (but not in) national parks, as well as rolling back on some groundwater protection policies.

The regulations passed by a vote of 298 to 262.

That’s not in on the fracking front; there’s murmurings that we’ll learn today which companies have won permission to drill as part of the 14th licensing round.

More than three quarters of firms awarded fracking licenses this summer in the 14th round’s first tranche have majority foreign ownership, according to an Energydesk analysis.

Not only that but an Energydesk investigation has revealed that fracking giant Cuadrilla is majority owned by an offshore tax haven entity, and that 40% of oil and gas companies with UK licenses have ties to offshore havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The FT also covered this story.

So with fracking again in the news, the BBC has a feature about the myriad of challenges still facing drillers – from the onerous planning process to civil unrest.

You’d think that’d be enough for UK energy news today, but in fact DECC has just announced the results of its consultation on cuts to the Feed-in-Tariff solar power subsidy.

The proposed 87% cut has been reduced to 65%, but there will also be a £100m overall cap by 2019, reports The Guardian.

And one final thing: Business Green reports that David Cameron has justified scrapping the £1bn funding competition for carbon capture and storage, saying ‘it doesn’t work’.

China: Clean coal isn’t as clean as they say

There’s an interesting feature in the South China Morning Post about the measures the Chinese government is taking to cut carbon emissions and end its horrendous air pollution problem.

One of those measures is upgrading its coal plants with tech that would massively reduce its power station emissions. Along with this tech comes a new ambitious set of emission limits for dust, SO2 and NOx.

According to an Energydesk analysis of 26 (out of hundreds) of new ‘ultra low emission’ coal plants, the policy isn’t working as well as the state would like.

Nearly half of those coal plants are in breach of the new pollution standards, partly because they keep switching the technology off.

It’s not the only thing they’re doing. Just the other day the Chinese cabinet approved a bunch of new nuclear and hydro projects, reports Reuters.

Another interesting development is the government’s decision to stop allowing Chinese fuel prices to be dictated by global oil prices, reports Bloomberg Gadfly.

This is good news for Chinese oil refining companies who will keep more of the money from cheap imports, and a warning sign to oil producing nations that demand may be beginning to shift.

And I leave you (on China) with another excellent feature, this one from The Telegraph, about how seriously China is taking climate change, and how the response is revolutionising its economy.

US: Oil export ban to be lifted, wind and solar to get tax credits

A congressional spending deal will see US shale drillers soon able to export their oil into the global glut, reports Bloomberg.

The lifting of the 40-year crude export ban is unlikely to have an immediate effect,according to the New York Times, and it comes when there’s already a historic global oversupply that threatens to grow even further with Iran and Algeria planning to ramp up production next year.

The oil export situation is getting all the attention, but there’s good news for renewables as well, with FuelFix reporting that it was traded for a five year extension of tax credits for wind and solar power.

The spending bill also does not block the country’s first $500m payment to the UN climate fund promised by President Obama at the Paris summit, reports Reuters.

In other news

UK: Today is the last day of the UK’s last deep coal mine. The final tonne extracted from Kellingley mine in Yorkshire will be put on display at the National Coal Mining Museum.