Archive for the ‘electric power’ Category

Keeping the electricity flowing in Europe and the UK…or at least trying

Among the many brilliant and baffling woodcuts by the Dutch artist MC Escher is a depiction of what appears to be a triangle made of three sections of wood, which is in fact an impossible construct owing to the way the joints appear to fit together.

If it existed at all, it would resemble the leg of an insect, which viewed from one position only would appear to enclose a triangle, but in reality it would form a three-part zigzag in space, two of its ends far apart.

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Bank commodity trading and the US Fed: An unfolding relationship

Last week something serendipitous happened. I went to what was ostensibly a briefing and news broke out.

The news was that the big French bank BNP Paribas, after some high-level recruitment from a decamping JP Morgan Chase, intends to try and rebuild North American physical electricity trading to go along with its existing natural gas trading operations done primarily through its offices in New York.

BNP’s decision bucks the trend set by a number of other big banks—most notably JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Barclays Plc– who have pulled out of several areas of physical energy commodity trading due to a combination of changing market conditions and flagging revenues, but perhaps most importantly, due to mounting regulations.

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The “sharing” economy and its impact on raw materials

What would happen if the American consumer, the most voracious buyer the world has ever seen, becomes more efficient at purchasing?

That is the question that could shape our future economics as the sharing of goods and services continues to proliferate with the aid of smart phones and social media.

Will ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft put taxis out of business? Will Airbnb, which connects vacationers to people with rooms — or castles — to rent, put hotels out of business?

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Energy politics can be tough on Massachusetts politicians

Practicing politics in Massachusetts must be like steering a ship toward a safe harbor while running away from a hurricane. Certainly Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is being battered by environmentalists, must feel that way.

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The Latin American quandary: lots of shale gas, not a lot of production

Imports of liquefied natural gas to Latin American are up 18% so far this year, according to Bentek, a unit of Platts, buoyed by growing demand from Mexico and Brazil. But, with so much recoverable indigenous supply, why is Latin America paying top dollar for imported gas?

According to the US Energy Information Administration, technically recoverable shale gas resources in Argentina are the second largest globally at 802 trillion cubic feet, Mexico’s reserves are the sixth largest at 545 Tcf, while Brazil ranks tenth with reserves estimated at 245 Tcf.

Accessing these shale reserves requires political will and costly investments, factors that have combined in various ways across the region to impede domestic production and make LNG an easy, though short-sighted solution to growing demand for electricity in Latin America.

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US Supreme Court opens the “BACT” door for EPA on CO2, but it could swing two ways

The US Supreme Court last week rejected the methodology the Environmental Protection Agency used to implement its first-ever regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, but did lay out a path the agency can follow to achieve the same end by using the Clean Air Act’s the “Best Available Control Technology,” or BACT, provisions.

And although the ruling could be viewed as a win for EPA, it may end up being a victory that does not advance the agency toward its ultimate goal.

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UK utilities under scrutiny as wholesale gas and power falls

UK gas and electricity prices are back in the spotlight after the country’s energy regulator, Ofgem, wrote to the nation’s major energy suppliers asking them to explain why household bills weren’t reacting to falling wholesale markets.

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Marrying the sun and upstream oil production to cash in on LCFS credits

All along, the backers of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard have claimed that the standard, by not being top-down, is going to spur innovation in helping sellers of transportation fuels reach the state’s goals.

And sometimes, they’re proven right. For example, we blogged awhile ago about a plan to turn landfill gas produced somewhere other than in California into two things: natural gas vehicle fuel, and LCFS credits.

It’s hard to imagine how these little things are going to add up enough to help the state’s fuels industry reach its ambitious goal of a 10% cut in the carbon intensity of its transportation fuels. But it does support the suggestion that some companies or individuals will get creative and capitalize on LCFS processes in various ways.

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Energy Economist: South American hydropower fluctuates, and LNG markets feel the impact

A butterfly flapping its wings in the Andes may or may not have some unforeseen global consequence, but the falling of a raindrop will. South America has a natural gas deficit and a highly variable demand load, owing to its over-dependence on hydroelectricity and the variations in electricity generation that produces. Countries in the region have turned to LNG as a backstop, passing the volatility of hydro generation through to the spot market for LNG. Ross McCracken discusses the issue in this month’s excerpt from Platts Energy Economist.

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Can energy sources get bigger and slower in a world going the other way?

Robert Bryce is no easy-to-pigeonhole right-winger. “The Second Iraq War, costing more than $800 billion, will be remembered as one of the biggest strategic errors in modern US history,” he writes in his new book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper. That comes soon after he says “I’ve never believed in American ‘exceptionalism,’ whatever that dubious term might mean.”

The main premise of Bryce’s new book is that lots and lots of things are getting SmallerFasterLighterDenserCheaper, and he strings together those five words into one word frequently in his book.

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