Research shows photos of polar bears are not the way to get people to act on climate change
Research shows photos of polar bears are not the way to get people to act on climate change

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Oil: Iran sanctions end triggers oil glut, markets collapse

The price of oil fell below $28 as investors reacted to the lifting of most sanctions on one of the world’s largest oil producers: Iran.

The fall was accompanied by a crash in the value of middle eastern stocks, knocking $27bn off the value of firms in the region.

Indeed amidst all the doom you may be forgiven for forgetting that lower oil prices are often seen as a good thing for the global economy – as The Guardian explains. The FTSE opened up this morning.

Coal: Obama freezes new coal mines, Indian production to hit record

In a move with more immediate significance than his Keystone decision the US president has banned new coal mines on public lands launching a wide ranging review of their economic and environmental impacts. The move has stung the already reeling US mining sector with Mining magazine reporting that more than 30 coal mines will be affected.

And yes – we’ve been reporting on the demise of coal for some time, but it’s not all a one way street. In India the state monopoly reports that as imports fall it expects record coal production in this financial year. And in China Reuters reports that the ban on new coal mines will make hardly any difference to output given the huge capacity of existing projects.

Post-Paris climate deal: Fusion, mini nukes, batteries & cables

The FT reports that efforts to achieve fusion power are picking up – with a variety of different approaches generating limitless carbon free energy. Sometime.

Possibly closer to reality are so-called “mini-nukes” (also FT). The idea is based around constructing small nuclear reactors not on site, but in a factory, and transporting them on the back of a special truck to wherever they are needed. They can then be clumped together to form, um, bigger nukes. When might this happen? One of the leading firms says 2025 is ‘plausible’ reports Bloomberg.

Meanwhile on the “things that actually exist” side the world is getting quite excited about batteries, which means – as The Economist reports – that Lithium is perhaps the one global commodity not in trouble right now as demand grows for use in cars and, crucially, network scale energy storage.  But is Lithium good enough? The Telegraph thinks not and reports on the emerging alternatives.

Not that you’d need quite so many batteries if you follow the EU’s advice and ensure that 15% of the continents power is available via inter-connectors by 2030 – helping balance regional supply and demand.

So. Why all this future gazing? The FT reports on the increase in interest and concrete action to promote clean-tech innovation in the wake of the Paris deal. Essentially, the paper argues, the targets are deliverable with current technology – but far more likely to happen if things move on.

Renewables: Could boost GDP as UK industry to “fall off a cliff” 

The International Renewable Energy Agency says doubling global renewables would push up global GDP by 1.1% (yes, they would, we know).

Not in the UK mind where the Independent reports that changes to the subsidy regime mean the UK’s clean energy industry is about to “fall off a cliff”.

Gas: Isreal thinks it could tap major offshore gas field – maybe

Two Isreali explorers say they have found nearly 9 trillion cubic feet of gas in a new offshore field. But analysts caution that it is too soon to suggest the country will become a major player in the regional gas market – given the raft of problems to beset the industry so far. 

And finally: Power from poo & footballers

In Colorado a town is using 8 million tonnes of human waste to produce natural gas to power around 40 municipal vehicles including, appropriately, the towns fleet of “garbage” trucks. They used to flare it.

And in Lagos oil giant Shell is backing a project involving a pop star and a UK start-up to build a solar-powered football pitch which also uses the kinetic energy of the players to generate power. Now excuse me whilst we go check on our physics.

In other news

– Speaking of Shell – their CEO says a “Brexit” wouldn’t be great for their business.

– The EU wants to talk LNG with just about everyone (including the US & Canada) as it looks to sure up energy security according to a leak to Politico. The plan, in essence, is to build lots of import terminals providing for different parts of the economic block.

And don’t talk about polar bears. That’s the finding of a new look at more effective use of climate images. Yes. The story is illustrated by a polar bear.