Category Archives: uranium and nuclear

Why renewables get all the publicity for reducing CO2 emissions while nuclear gets hardly any but does the most by far!

Blowout Week 178

Posted on May 27, 2017 by Roger Andrews


This week’s Blowout features a story that questions why renewables get all the publicity when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions while nuclear gets hardly any (inset), citing an article from the New York Times as an example. Then it’s back to our usual mix of stories, including OPEC’s production cut extension, Trump, climate change and the Pope, Switzerland to phase out nuclear, India to cancel 14GW of coal, Ontario’s hydro plan, natural gas without the CO2 emissions, long-term hydrogen storage,  giant wind kites in the UK and how offshore wind turbines cause beached whales.

Federalist: Why Are Global Warming Alarmists Afraid Of Nuclear Power?

When The New York Times mentions China and India, it mentions solar and wind power, but not a word about nuclear.

It’s almost as if they’re afraid to mention it, as if they are—what’s the phrase I’m looking for?—climate cowards. If we were actually to emulate the example of India and China, the federal government would encourage a massive campaign of building nuclear power plants. But it’s not, and The New York Times, I feel pretty safe in predicting, would be the first to oppose it. This is one of the reasons I’m deeply skeptical of claims about catastrophic human-caused global warming: because hardly anybody behaves as if they really believe it. If people really thought carbon dioxide emissions are the major threat to the planet, a crisis that threatens the very habitability of our planet, we would have gone all-in on nuclear energy 30 years ago. Even the safety concerns about nuclear power would be regarded as a reasonable risk to take to avoid flooding and baking the entire globe.

New York Times: China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change

Until recently, China and India have been cast as obstacles, at the very least reluctant conscripts, in the battle against climate change. That reputation looks very much out-of-date now that both countries have greatly accelerated their investments in cost-effective renewable energy sources — and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. According to research released last week at a United Nations climate meeting in Germany, China and India should easily exceed the targets they set for themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement signed by more than 190 countries. China’s emissions of carbon dioxide appear to have peaked more than 10 years sooner than its government had said they would. And India is now expected to obtain 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022, eight years ahead of schedule.

Reuters: OPEC extends oil output cut by nine months

OPEC and non-members led by Russia decided on Thursday to extend cuts in oil output by nine months to March 2018 as they battle a global glut of crude after seeing prices halve and revenues drop sharply in the past three years. Oil prices dropped more than 4 percent as the market had been hoping oil producers could reach a last-minute deal to deepen the cuts or extend them further, until mid-2018. “We considered various scenarios, from six to nine to 12 months, and we even considered options for a higher cut. But all indications discovered that a nine-month extension is the optimum,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said. He told a news conference he was not worried by what he called Thursday’s “technical” oil price drop and was confident prices would recover as global inventories shrink, including because of declining Saudi exports to the United States.

Bloomberg: Trump Proposes Selling Off Half U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve

The White House plan to trim the national debt includes selling off half of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile and the entire backup gasoline supply, part of a broad series of changes proposed by President Donald Trump to the federal government’s role in energy markets. Trump’s first complete budget proposal, released Tuesday, would raise $500 million in fiscal year 2018 — and as much $16.6 billion over the next decade — by drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “We think it’s a responsible thing to do,” Mick Mulvaney, head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters. The “risk goes down dramatically when we have increased domestic production like we have today.”

Washington Post: Trump told he risks ‘lasting damage’ to ties between U.S. and Europe

The Trump administrations risks causing “lasting damage” to relations with key European allies if the the United States abandons the Paris climate agreement, a key German official has warned. Shortly before Trump is due to join G-7 leaders for a summit in Sicily, Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, said in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that the U.S. would face serious repercussions if it chooses to leave the landmark deal. “I am very concerned that a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would cause lasting damage to the long-standing mutual trust and close cooperation between our two countries and between the U.S. and other countries in Europe and elsewhere,” Hendricks wrote in the May 5 letter.

New York Times: Vatican Presses Trump on Climate Change

Pope Francis put climate change on the agenda of his first meeting with President Trump on Wednesday, and the subject is likely to come up again and again in the president’s encounters with other world leaders in the coming days. That could put Mr. Trump on the back foot after what had been an energetic swing through the Middle East. The pope presented the president with a copy of his influential encyclical on preserving the environment, while in a broader meeting, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, urged Mr. Trump not to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Mr. Trump told his Vatican hosts that he would not make a final decision until after he returned to the United States, despite some expectations that he could announce a decision at the Group of 7 summit meeting in Italy this weekend.

PhysOrg: Paris climate commitment ‘crippling’ to US growth: White House

During his election campaign, avowed climate sceptic Donald Trump promised to exit the 2015 UN pact on limiting global warming. But Trump has now said he will make a decision after returning to Washington following the G7 summit in Sicily which starts Friday, at the end of his international tour. “We know that the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth,” Trump’s economic advisor Gary Cohn said. “The president has told you that he’s going to ultimately make a decision on Paris and climate when he gets back. He’s interested to hear what the G7 leaders have to say about climate,” said Cohn, speaking aboard the presidential Air Force One.”It will be a fairly robust discussion on that. We know that because we had it today with the French president, we had it with the Belgians, we had it with all the bilaterals we’ve had,” he added.

North Country Public Radio: Trudeau claims climate champion role while embracing Big Oil

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered himself as a global leader on climate change, unveiling an ambitious new environmental plan that includes phasing out coal-fired power plants, a tax on carbon, and big investments in renewable energy. But at the same time, Trudeau has promised to help expand Canada’s role as an energy exporter. He’s backed controversial pipeline projects including Keystone XL that would cross into the United States and is pushing for big new investments in the tar sands oil fields of northern Alberta. Trudeau insists that he’s striving for a kind of third way, embracing big oil while also acknowledging the imminent threat of climate change and respecting aboriginal sovereignty. Critics say he’s making promises that contradict each other and risks alienating the progressive voters who elected him in 2015.

Nasdaq: Shell to Divest Canadian Natural Stake Worth $3 Billion

According to a recent report on Reuters , integrated oil company Royal Dutch Shell plc intends to sell roughly $3 billion worth stakes of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. in order to withdraw its focus from the oil sand business in Canada. The decision by the company complements its strategy to divert its attention towards renewable energy. Shell will use the proceeds from the transaction to reduce its debt burden, which was incurred during previous year’s acquisition of British oil and gas company, BG Group plc. The $54 billion buyout was a part of the company’s strategy to focus on cleaner fossil fuel. Shell sold assets worth $20 billion over the last two years for financing the transaction. Also, Shell is likely to dispose more properties valued almost $10 billion by next year.

CBC: Ontario hydro plan to cost $45B but will only save electricity ratepayers $24B, says watchdog

Ontario’s budget watchdog says the Liberal government will spend $45 billion over the life of its hydro plan to save people $24 billion on their electricity bills. The $45 billion is mostly the cost of funding an eight-per-cent rebate that took effect on bills in January, but that assumes balanced budgets for the next 30 years. The FAO says if the government has to fund that rebate through debt, the cost to the province could balloon up to $93 billion. Premier Kathleen Wynne promised to cut hydro bills after widespread anger over rising costs helped send her approval ratings to record lows. Electricity bills in the province have roughly doubled in the last decade, due in part to green energy initiatives, and the government has said the goal of its hydro plan is to better spread out those costs.

The Hill: Canada proposes methane pollution standards for oil and gas drilling

Canadian regulators are formally proposing rules to reduce methane pollution from the oil and natural gas sector. The Thursday announcement from Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna came despite the Trump administration’s actions in the United States to reverse course on methane regulations written by former President Barack Obama. In proposing the rules, McKenna specifically cited the examples of California, Colorado and North Dakota as jurisdictions that Canada wants to emulate on methane regulation. “By better detecting and patching leaks, companies will be able to save and sell that natural gas and do their part to fight climate change. And this will support more modern technology and good new jobs in the oil and gas sector,” McKenna said in a statement.

Oil & Gas 360: U.S. is now a net exporter of energy to Mexico

Mexico is now the U.S.’s primary oil and gas export destination, outpacing Canada, according to the EIA. The U.S. has exported a larger amount of crude and petroleum products to Mexico than Canada since August 2016, and averaged a total of 950 MMBOPD in February. Exports to Mexico have been rising gradually over the last few years, and the U.S. has been a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products to the country since 2015. The country is in the process of deregulating its fuels market, most recently by phasing out mandated gasoline prices. Demand in Mexico is growing by 3% per year, outpacing growth in supply. Gasoline prices rose by 20% in the country in January as the government raised maximum rates. The Mexican supply imbalance has made it an attractive destination for refined products, a situation companies are looking to take advantage of.

Technology Review: Switzerland Votes to Phase Out Nuclear Power

On Sunday, a little over 58 percent of voters in Switzerland gave the government a thumbs up to ban new reactors. The country’s five plants make up about 35 percent of the country’s power supply, and the law will allow current reactors to stay in service as long as they can operate safely. The law, Energy Strategy 2050, calls for large-scale investment in renewable sources of energy like wind and solar—both of which Switzerland notably lacks at the moment. It also calls for subsidies to bolster the country’s hydroelectric sector. Switzerland currently gets about 60 percent of its energy from hydro, but it is unsubsidized, making it expensive compared to wind and solar energy generated across the border in Germany, which is.

LiveMint: Kazakhstan to produce nuclear fuel for China

Kazakhstan, the world’s biggest uranium producer, will start producing nuclear fuel for Chinese power plants in 2019 through a joint venture set up by the two countries, a senior official at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant told Reuters. the joint venture between Kazakh state nuclear company Kazatomprom and China’s China General Nuclear Power Group aims to produce ready-to-use fuel assemblies. It will procure enriched uranium either in China or Russia, the Ulba plant’s head of sales Alexander Khodanov said on Friday. The first stage of the joint venture will produce about 200 tonnes of nuclear fuel a year using technologies and equipment supplied by France’s Areva. Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic that borders China, has no nuclear power plants of its own.

Nuclear Street: Japanese Regulators Approve Two Reactors For Restart

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority cleared two more nuclear reactors for restart on Wednesday. Both reactors in the Fukui Prefecture could be restarted as early as this fall, if the restarts meet with local approval, according to Japanese media reports. The regulator approved restarts of Oi nuclear power plant Units 3 and 4 operated by the Kansai Electric Power Company.The reactors have been deemed ready for operations based on upgraded, post-Fukushima Daiichi safety standards. However, they still will be subjected to a local review conducted by the Fukui government. Local courts are also involved. A lawsuit intending to block the restarts at the Oi plant is pending and the company has filed an appeal on the matter.

American Interest: Macron’s Nuclear Mistake

The newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron is busy assembling his cabinet these days, but it looks like he made a misstep in his choice for the country’s new energy minister. Macron tapped the nature documentary filmmaker and prominent green Nicolas Hulot for the position, and overnight shares in the French nuclear company EDF fell by 7 percent. That’s because Hulot is a staunch opponent of nuclear power, the zero-emissions energy source on which France relies for roughly three-quarters of its power. Hulot’s opposition to nuclear comes out of an emerging trend of thinking in France—and in Europe more generally—that holds that nuclear power ought to be phased out as soon as possible and replaced by renewables. Germany, motivated by an irrational fear of the energy source following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, is leading this charge to its own detriment. Berlin hasn’t been able to replace its shuttered nuclear plants with wind and solar, but has instead been forced to increase its reliance on lignite coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels around.

Reuters: France’s EDF denies report of ‘secret plan’ to delay scaling back nuclear power

French state-controlled utility EDF on Monday denied a media report that it had a secret plan to push back by 25 years a target to reduce the share of nuclear power generation within France’s overall electricity mix. French television station BFM TV had earlier reported that according to a secret internal EDF plan, the share of nuclear generation in that mix will only be reduced to 50 percent by 2050, instead of 2025 as stipulated in a French law. EDF said on its official Twitter account that it formally denied the “malicious rumors about the existence of a secret plan which sets back the 50 percent nuclear target to 2050.” It added it was working within the general framework of France’s 2015 energy law, and would work on France’s energy transition plans with the new government. France’s 2015 energy transition law outlined the country’s ambition to curb its dependence on atomic power by cutting the share of nuclear in its electricity mix to 50 percent from over 75 percent currently, while developing more renewable power.

Reuters: Poland will rely on coal for next 15 years

Poland will remain dependent on coal for the next 15 years due to a lack of alternative energy sources and as trade unions retain their grip on the industry, the head of the country’s biggest private miner, said. Poland currently generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from burning coal produced by its state-owned mines – a level miner PG Silesia doesn’t see changing any time soon. “Focusing on coal is the only model in Poland. There is no other way, unless you want to close the economy,” Michal Herman, the head of PG Silesia, said in an interview at the Reuters Central & Eastern Europe Investment Summit.

Reuters: Adani defers Australian coal project investment decision

India’s Adani Enterprises on Monday deferred a final investment decision on its long-delayed Australian Carmichael coal project as the Queensland state government has yet to sign off on a royalty deal for the mine. The company had been planning to make a final investment decision (FID) on the 25 million tonnes a year coal mine and rail project by the end of May. “Adani is advised that the Queensland cabinet did not consider any submission or make a decision on royalties for the Adani project today,” said the firm’s spokesman in Australia, Ron Watson. “In light of that, Adani has today deferred a decision by the board on FID until the government makes a decision.” The Queensland government is considering ways to extend royalty payments to promote jobs and investment in a state that has been hammered by the commodities slump over the past five years. However, the Labor government is running into opposition within its own ranks, after having promised that no taxpayer money would be used to subsidize the project.

Independent: India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low

India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – with the price for solar electricity “free falling” to levels once considered impossible. In January last year, Finnish company Fortum agreed to generate electricity in Rajasthan with a record low tariff, or guaranteed price, of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt-hour (about 5p). Mr Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the IEEFA, said that at the time analysts said this price was so low would never be repeated. But, 16 months later, an auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees – compared to the wholesale price charged by a major coal-power utility of 3.2 rupees (about 31 per cent higher). “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound,” Mr Buckley said.

Deseret News: Intermountain Power Project will shutter coal-fired power plant

Utah’s largest coal-fired power plant — the Intermountain Power Project outside Delta — will cease operations by 2025 due to losing its Southern California customer base and a weak market for coal-fueled electricity.”We are saddened to announce this decision, but factors beyond our control make continued operation of the coal units unfeasible after their current power purchase agreements expire,” said Ted Olson, chairman of the board of directors for the Intermountain Power Agency. The decision was anticipated, with its Southern California municipality customer base being prohibited from purchasing coal-fueled electricity when the contracts are up.

New Europe: Report calls upon the EU to raise 2030 renewable energy target to at least 35%

The report by Spanish MEP José Blanco López forms the basis of the European Parliament’s position on the new Renewable Energy Directive, which will determine the future of the renewable energy deployment in the EU, according to Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. López calls upon the EU to raise the 2030 renewable energy target to “at least 35%”, arguing that “the Commission proposal and the European Council endorsement of the 27% target occurred before the signature of the Paris Agreement and were based on technology cost estimates which have already proven to be overly pessimistic and are now outdated”. He also calls for re-introducing binding national targets for 2030, arguing, “national binding targets have been the most important driver for renewable energy policies and investments in many Member States”.

Business Insider: Forecast for EU carbon prices puts Paris target in doubt

Participants in Europe’s carbon market, including utilities, trading houses and banks expect EU carbon prices to be lower than predicted in the next decade, making it less attractive to invest in the technology needed to help hit emissions targets. Average carbon prices are likely to be almost 9 percent lower than forecast last year, a survey of 135 companies published by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) on Wednesday showed. “Once again IETA members have highlighted the yawning gap between current prices and what’s needed to achieve the Paris objectives,” Jonathan Grant, a director at PwC which carried out the survey, said in a statement. Respondents anticipate an average EU carbon price of 16.28 euros ($18.31) per tonne in the fourth phase of the ETS, which runs from 2021 to 2030. This is less than half the 40 euros per tonne that respondents said last year is needed to help incentivise investments to help the bloc meet goals set under the Paris Agreement.

PV Magazine: Spain to launch another 3 GW renewable energy auction

Spain’s Ministry of Industry has announced that it will hold another 3 GW renewable energy auction on an unspecified date “before the summer”. The Spanish government said that a significant amount of wind and PV power projects did not qualify for the 3 GW auction it held two weeks ago, and in which only a 1.5 MW solar project was ultimately selected, that will likely compete in the upcoming auction. More details about the upcoming auction were not given. The auction resulted in contracts for €43/MWh, the lowest price ever registered for on-shore wind in Europe to date. At the time, Spanish solar association Unión Española Fotovoltaica (UNEF) said in a press release that the result of the auction showed that PV was discriminated against, and that PV projects were not given the opportunity to prove their competitiveness.

Greentechmedia: Dong Energy Divests Its Oil and Gas Business to Focus on Renewables

Denmark’s largest power producer, Dong Energy, agreed to sell its complete upstream oil and gas interests to global petrochemical manufacturer INEOS for $1.05 billion plus contingent payments, concluding an effort announced in October. This marks an existential reversal for Dong, whose very name abbreviates Danish Oil and Natural Gas. The Danish state created the company in 1972 to extract fuels from the North Sea. A few decades down the road, Dong moved into electricity production, and renewable generation in particular. Meanwhile, oil and gas drilling in the North Sea became relatively expensive due to the basin’s maturity. “The transaction completes the transformation of Dong Energy into a leading, pure play renewables company,” CEO Henrik Poulsen said in a statement this week.

Wales Online: Tories come under fire for failing to promise to deliver on Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

The lack of any mention of the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon in the Conservative manifesto has set alarm bells ringing. In January the independent Hendry Review gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up, with the proposed Swansea development described as a “no regrets option”. However, there is no mention of the renewable energy project in the Conservative manifesto. The Liberal Democrats said this was a sign the Conservatives had abandoned the “husky-hugging days of David Cameron” and Britain risked becoming the “dirty man of Europe”. A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “The complete absence of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon from the UK Tory manifesto beggars belief, and gives terrible signals about this most crucial of projects. In contrast, the UK Labour manifesto makes clear that Labour ‘are committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons’”.

Military Technologies: How Renewables Will Power the UK

With the cost of renewable energy falling, and advances in grid management and storage technology, the UK can reliably be supplied with the clean, affordable energy it needs, says a report from Friends of the Earth. The report draws together evidence which shows that wind and solar may be variable, but they are increasingly predictable, and combined with flexible backup, energy storage and smarter grids should be able to form the basis of a clean and affordable energy system. Integrating variable renewables like wind and solar will help reduce costs. Based on recent government figures by 2025, generating 50TWh of electricity from new wind or solar should be around £500m a year cheaper than from new gas generation, including balancing costs. Renewables can be the foundation of a secure energy system. The biggest risks to our energy supply are currently disruption at ageing fossil fuel and nuclear plants, and extreme weather events affecting the grid. “By 2030 renewables should be able to produce at least 75% of our electricity while maintaining system reliability”.

Register: Britain on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution

As coal-fired power plants wind down and with talk of blackouts in the air, nuclear is back on the table after the government gave the go-ahead last year for a third reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Hinkley Point C is an £18bn, 35-year scheme that’ll be operated by EDF. It took financial backing from the Chinese government to land. However, a cheaper and smaller alternative is emerging – the small “modular” nuclear reactor, or SMR. An SMR is defined as producing 300MWe – just 10 per cent of what Hinkley Point C should provide. The SMR has some notable advantages – at least on paper. Perhaps the biggest is that SMRs can be sited in energy consumption “hotspots” around the UK, such as cities, and tap into using existing electricity transmission cables. They’re also much cheaper than a Hinkley. No nuclear industry programme has yet produced a series of reactors along factory production lines, but a large order for SMRs could change all that.

Proactive Investors: Will UK Oil & Gas Investments emulate the success of the Gatwick Gusher with Horse Hill lookalike?

UK Oil & Gas Investments, which led the consortium that gave us the Horse Hill discovery, is preparing to drill a well that could help turn the southern Home Counties into a new hotspot for hydrocarbons. Broadford Bridge-1 (BB-1) will test a geological look-alike to the so-called Gatwick Gusher, located on the southern flank of the Weald Basin. It is designed to test both the southerly extension of the Kimmeridge Limestone oil play across the Weald Basin and its development within the licence. Conventional drill techniques will test four Kimmeridge Limestone reservoir horizons, the uppermost two of which were successfully flow tested at Horse Hill in 2016.

Scotland Government: Scotland’s onshore wind policy

Onshore wind development is essential to Scotland’s transformation to a fully decarbonised energy system by 2050. Although electricity generation energy policy is largely reserved to the UK Government, the Scottish Government wishes to make full use of its devolved powers to promote investment in appropriately sited onshore wind. A number of recent changes at both a UK and Scottish level have highlighted the need to reassess the role of onshore wind to ensure it continues to deliver maximum value for Scotland in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits. The Scottish Government will continue to support further development of onshore wind in order to achieve the targets set by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act at the lowest cost. Onshore wind offers low carbon renewable electricity at scale and sustains growth and employment in the Scottish supply chain.

GWPF: The Rising Trend of UK Industrial Electricity Prices

The emerging trend in UK electricity prices to industry confirms civil service advice to Mr Blair, which he ignored, that the EU Renewables Directive (2009) would disadvantage the UK relative to other members of the European Union. If the Industrial Strategy is to succeed, the Renewables Directive will have to be repealed, post-Brexit, and immediate steps should be taken to resile from its commitments. The UK imposes electricity policy costs through levies prior to taxation, so it is unsurprising that it has the highest prices without taxes, but it is still in joint third position when those taxes are included. Bad though that position is, it is the trend over the last decade that gives the most cause for anxiety. Only the UK in this group (and indeed in the EU 15) has a consistent rising trend in electricity prices, and all the other countries have a falling trend. There are doubtless a number of causes behind this fact, but what BERR identified in 2007 as the disproportionate burden placed on the United Kingdom by the Renewables Directive target is a substantial part of the explanation.

Utility Week: UK breaks solar power record

Solar power output in Britain set a new record at lunchtime today (26 May), as the country enjoys the hottest day of the year. According to the National Grid, solar generation accounted for 8.7 GW (24.3 per cent of demand) around noon. This tops the previous record, which was set on 10 May, when 8.48GW of solar was recorded. Duncan Burt, who is responsible for control room operations said: “We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system and as this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have planned for these changes to the energy landscape and have the tools available to ensure we can balance supply and demand. It really is the beginning of a new era, which we are prepared for and excited to play our part,” he added.

Mail: Giant Kites flying 300 metres in the air will power more than 5,000 British homes by 2020

The world’s first wind farm powered by giant kites will power more than 5,000 British homes by 2020. Twenty of the enormous kites, which will work in pairs, will fly in 100mph (160km/h) circles at heights reaching more than 300 metres (1,000 ft) – around the same height as the Shard. Their cyclic movement will pull a tether attached to a rotating drum on the ground that is linked to a generator, which will spin to produce electricity. Plans for the farm’s location will be announced in September as power company Kite Power Systems (KPS) bids to provide wind energy to 5,500 British homes.

Sydney Morning Herald: France’s Engie says hydrogen has ‘massive long-term potential’ for power storage

Engie is helping build a small, self-contained power grid on Semakau Island to demonstrate the usefulness of hydrogen gas in converting intermittent power from solar panels and wind turbines into stored fuel that can generate electricity days or even months later. While battery storage has received most of the attention so far, hydrogen has “massive long-term potential,” said Didier Holleaux, executive vice president at Engie.”Batteries are fine for intraday, or a few hours. But if you produce energy in summer and need it in winter, or need it to last during a few cloudy days, then hydrogen would be the obvious solution.” To be a solution, though, hydrogen storage costs would have to come down dramatically. A hydrogen-based energy storage system costs about 10 times more than a diesel back-up generator with similar power output, according to a Toshiba presentation at the World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo in March.

Science Daily: Natural gas plants without the carbon dioxide emissions

How can we burn natural gas without releasing CO2 into the air? This feat is achieved using a special combustion method that TU Wien has been researching for years: chemical looping combustion (CLC). In this process, CO2 can be isolated during combustion without having to use any additional energy, which means it can then go on to be stored. This prevents it from being released into the atmosphere. The method had already been applied successfully in a test facility with 100 kW fuel power. An international research project has now managed to increase the scale of the technology significantly, thus creating all the necessary conditions to enable a fully functional demonstration facility to be built in the 10 MW range.

Daily Caller: Offshore Wind Turbines Blamed For Killing Family Of Whales

Marine environmental experts blame offshore wind turbines for the deaths of three minke whales that washed up on British beaches, The Times reported Monday. Wildlife experts claim that the noise generated by wind turbines affected the sonar that whales use to navigate, causing them to beach themselves. There are several commercial offshore wind farms close to where the whales beached themselves. “There are studies that show that the sounds created by the operational noise of the turbines create vibrations under that may in fact disorient marine mammals like whales,” Bonnie Brady, director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association who regularly discusses the impacts of noise on marine mammals, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In the case of what looks like this mother and calf, they go on the wrong path and end up disoriented then beaching themselves. The sound kills.”




Cameco signs $2-billion fuel supply deal with Bruce Power

Cameco to play key role in Bruce Power Life Extension Program to secure low-cost electricity & jobs

May 25, 2017

PORT HOPE, ON – Bruce Power and Cameco Corporation announced long-term arrangements today in support of Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) which will help ensure the Bruce site continues to provide low-cost electricity to families and business through 2064.

The two companies extended their exclusive fuel supply arrangement for an additional 10 years, and entered an arrangement for Cameco to provide reactor components for all six of Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement (MCR) projects starting in 2020. The total value of the arrangements is estimated to be approximately $2 billion to 2030.

“By entering into a long-term arrangement for fuel now while the market conditions are favourable, we are in a position to deliver an estimated $200 million in ratepayer savings over the next decade based on current forecasts, while also giving Cameco business certainty which is important to both Ontario and Port Hope,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO. “We are also leveraging Cameco’s proven capability in Ontario to manufacture key components for our MCR program with production beginning in the near future and representing a spend of up to $60 million across our fleet.”

The fuel cost savings realized through this new arrangement will go directly to reduce the cost of electricity to ratepayers. As a private sector operator, Bruce Power is responsible for meeting all investment requirements for its life extension project, including the procurement of reactor components from Cameco for future MCRs.

“We are delighted to extend our fuel supply arrangement with Bruce Power to meet 100% of their requirements out to 2030 and participate in their Life Extension Program by supplying reactor components,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO. “Bruce Power’s commitment to continue delivering clean, reliable and affordable nuclear power provides a bright future for 700 people employed at our Ontario operations.”

Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West, said Bruce Power’s Life Extension Program will deliver a major contribution to the regional economy for decades to come.

“Each year through to 2064, Bruce Power will create and sustain 22,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate $4 billion in economic benefit in Ontario through direct and indirect spending on operational equipment, supplies, materials and labour. That’s a huge contribution that will be felt by thousands in Northumberland-Quinte West and across the province,” he said.

Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and MP for Northumberland-Peterborough South, recognized the positive economic impact of the partnership.

“This agreement between Bruce Power and Cameco will continue to bring major long-term economic benefits to the Northumberland region,” she said. “I applaud both of these organizations on their ongoing success as they continue to produce clean, greenhouse gas emissions-free electricity in Canada.”

Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault emphasized the Ontario government’s commitment to the essential role nuclear power plays in the province’s electricity supply mix. “The refurbishment project at Bruce Power is a significant driver of our province’s economy,” said Minister Thibeault. “Our investments in nuclear generation will continue to help deliver clean and reliable electricity to all Ontario families and businesses.” ‎

These arrangements are subject to the negotiation and signing of definitive agreements.

About Bruce Power

Bruce Power operates the world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility and is the source of roughly 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity. The company’s site in Tiverton, Ontario is home to eight CANDU reactors, each one capable of generating enough low-cost, reliable, safe and clean electricity to meet the annual needs of a city the size of Hamilton. Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an all-Canadian partnership among Borealis Infrastructure Management (a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System), TransCanada, the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals. A majority of Bruce Power’s employees are also owners in the business.

About Cameco

Cameco is one of the world’s largest uranium producers, a significant supplier of conversion services and one of two Candu fuel manufacturers in Canada. Our competitive position is based on our controlling ownership of the world’s largest high-grade reserves and low-cost operations. Our uranium products are used to generate clean electricity in nuclear power plants around the world. We also explore for uranium in the Americas, Australia and Asia. Our shares trade on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges. Our head office is in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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For more information, contact:

John Peevers
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Nicole Emanuel
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Farming the World: China’s Epic Race to Avoid a Food Crisis

Farming the World: China’s Epic Race to Avoid a Food Crisis

By Bloomberg News

May 22, 2017

China’s 1.4 billion people are building up an appetite that is changing the way the world grows and sells food. The Chinese diet is becoming more like that of the average American, forcing companies to scour the planet for everything from bacon to bananas.

But China’s efforts to buy or lease agricultural land in developing nations show that building farms and ranches abroad won’t be enough. Ballooning populations in Asia, Africa and South America will add another 2 billion people within a generation and they too will need more food.

China food 1

That leaves China with a stark ultimatum: If it is to have enough affordable food for its population in the second half of this century, it will need to make sure the world grows food for 9 billion people.

Its answer is technology.

China’s agriculture industry, from the tiny rice plots tended by 70-year-old grandfathers to the giant companies that are beginning to challenge global players like Nestle SA and Danone SA, is undergoing a revolution that may be every bit as influential as the industrial transformation that rewrote global trade.

The change started four decades ago when the country began to recast its systems of production and private enterprise. Those reforms precipitated an economic boom, driven by factories, investment and exports, but the changes down on the farm were just as dramatic.

Land reforms lifted production of grains like rice and wheat, and millions joined a newly wealthy middle class that ate more vegetables and pork and wanted rare luxuries like beef and milk.

China food 2

When Du Chunmei was a little girl, pork was a precious gift only for the elders of her village in Sichuan during the Lunar New Year holiday. The family pig would be slaughtered, and relatives and neighbors would pack their house for a feast.

“Meat used to be such a rarity,” said Du, now 47 and an employee of state oil company PetroChina Co. whose family celebrated the holiday this year at a restaurant. “Now it’s so common we try to cut back to stay healthy.”

But the breakneck pace of the country’s development brought some nasty side effects. Tracts of prime land were swallowed by factories. Fields were polluted by waste, or by farmers soaking the soil in chemicals. The country became a byword for tainted food, from mercury-laced rice to melamine-infused milk powder.

So how can China produce enough safe food for its growing population if they all start eating like Americans?

The simple answer is it can’t.

It takes about 1 acre (half a hectare) to feed the average U.S. consumer. China only has about 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen, including fields degraded by pollution.

So China’s Communist government has increasingly shifted its focus to reforming agriculture, and its approach divides into four parts: market controls; improving farm efficiency; curbing land loss; and imports.

Operations At A Hesheng Agriculture Co. Farm

A bucolic scene of goatherders returning with their flock in the evening is just one part of Penglai Hesheng Agricultural Technology Development Co.’s 70,000 hectare showcase farm that is rearing local breeds of livestock and experimenting with the cultivation of dozens of types of crops.

In each case, technology is the key to balancing the food equation. The nation is spending billions on water systems, seeds, robots and data science to roll back some of the ravages of industry and develop sustainable, high-yield farms.

It needs to succeed quickly, because China’s chief tool during the past decade for boosting domestic production is backfiring.

China has a goal of being self-sufficient in staple foods like rice, corn and wheat. To ensure farmers grew those crops, it paid a minimum price for the grains and then stored the excess in government silos.

Farmers responded, saturating their small plots with fertilizers and pesticides to reap bumper crops that filled government reserves to bursting.

China food 4

Total state grain reserves were estimated to be to be more than 600 million tons last year, enough for more than a year’s supply. About half the stockpile is corn, which the government is trying to sell before it rots, forcing provinces to turn the grain into motor fuel.

“We have exhausted our resources and environment and used as much fertilizer and pesticide as possible to address supply shortages,” Han Jun, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, wrote in the government-backed People’s Daily on Feb. 6. “We urgently need to increase production of green and good-quality agriculture products.”

But first it needs to preserve what little farmland it has.

China food 5

China only has about 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen, including fields degraded by pollution. Areas like this one on the outskirts of Shanghai are becoming typical with small farmed plots being gobbled up by encroaching construction.

China lost 6.2 percent of its farmland between 1997 and 2008, according to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the OECD. And local governments continue to swallow fields for more-profitable real-estate developments. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Officially, the rate of land conversion has slowed since 2007, when China announced a goal of “maintaining 1.8 billion mu of farmland” (120 million hectares). But local governments that have relied for years on land sales to fund growth can circumvent restrictions by counting marginal land as arable, or re-zoning urban areas as farms.

More alarming for the nation’s planners are reports that almost 20 percent of China’s remaining arable land is contaminated.

China food 6

China is shifting from building grain stockpiles to focusing on quality, efficiency and sustainable development, said Tang Renjian, a former official at the Central Rural Work Leading Group, the country’s top rural decision-making body.

Government studies in 2014 found that some vegetable plots were dosed with high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, just one of a series of poison scares that has made the public wary of domestically produced food.

Over the years, local TV stations and social media fanned the fears, reporting a sickening array of scandals, from soy sauce produced with human hair to tofu made with sewage, and cat and rat meat passed off as rabbit and lamb.

China food 8

“Chinese people are much more aware of food-safety problems today than a decade ago,” said Sam Geall, a research fellow at the U.K.’s University of Sussex who focuses on China’s environment and agriculture. “They pay more attention to where their food is coming from, and they are often willing to pay more for safety.”

Chinese-owned businesses are taking notice, seeking out overseas investments that they can turn into premium brands on supermarket shelves at home.

Ningbo chemical baron Lu Xianfeng’s Moon Lake Investments Pty bought Australia’s biggest dairy operation last year, while Wan Long’s WH Group Ltd. became the world’s largest pork producer with the purchase of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc.

China food 7
WH Group’s 2013 purchase of Virginia-based Smithfield was part of a $52 billion overseas spending spree by Chinese food companies since 2005 as China’s population became wary of home-produced food. This WH Group factory in Zhengzhou, China, makes American-style pork products from imported Smithfield meat.

“The Chinese consumer has grown very cynical about the safety of food from their own country,” said Sean Shwe, managing director of Moon Lake, which flies fresh milk from Tasmania to China. “The food trade into China has become very lucrative.”

A change in diet is accelerating the search for overseas supplies. Beef sales to China have risen 19,000 percent in the past decade. Imports of soybeans, used in animal feed, have grown so fast that the government quietly dropped the grain from its self-sufficiency list in 2014.

“China needs to import as it is unable to produce everything from its limited farmland,” said Li Xiande, a researcher with the Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who said the country bought 106 million tons of cereals and soybeans abroad in 2016. “The country aims at self-sufficiency in staple grains and all other imports would be based on market demand.”

But China will face increasing competition from a population explosion across dozens of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

By 2050, 14 of the world’s 20 biggest metropolises will be in Asia and Africa, with Jakarta, Manila, Karachi, Kinshasa and Lagos joining Tokyo, Shanghai and Mumbai, according to a projection by Demographia.

By then, the planet could have as many as 9.7 billion mouths to feed, according to a United Nations report. Factor in changing diets and we will need to raise global food output by 70 percent from 2009 levels, according to an FAO estimate.

The world got a taste of what might be to come a decade ago, when smaller harvests and a rapid adoption of biofuels led to a global food shock, with riots over price increases in some developing nations.

China food 9

Constrained by a shortage of land and the effects of pollution, Chinese farms are adopting methods of indoor cultivation that can produce a lot of food safely in a limited space. In this Hesheng greenhouse, workers develop techniques to grow organic tomatoes.

That was one impetus behind China’s so-called land grab, where it bought or leased land in countries like Mozambique to secure grain supplies. Yet many of the projects backed by the Chinese government are aimed more at increasing production in poor countries and building China’s global influence than supplying its supermarkets.

The real effort to create another green revolution is happening back home, where entrepreneurs are embracing technology to transform the nation’s rural landscape.

China’s new breed of farmer isn’t staring at the sky to predict rain, he’s using a micro-irrigation system based on an array of soil sensors that feed data wirelessly to his smartphone. He’s growing vegetables in climate-controlled shipping containers and using drones to apply computer-formulated doses of pesticides.

Such farms are still a tiny minority, partly because of the difficulty in acquiring enough land to run an efficient operation. Beijing’s policy since 2014 has been to promote “appropriate sized” family farms of about 13 hectares or less depending on location.

China food 10

But most Chinese farms are much smaller. China’s 260 million rural households work 120 million hectares of farmland—making the size of the average plot per rural family less than half a hectare, according to Zhong Funing, head of the International Research Centre for Food and Agricultural Economics at Nanjing Agricultural University.

New laws in November have eased the ability of companies to acquire larger tracts of land, but the government remains wary of change that would unsettle its vast rural population.

Even with a modest average farm size of 13 hectares, the country would need fewer than 10 million families working the land.

China food 11

“How can the rest of farmers find jobs in cities if they abandon the land?” Zhong said. As a result, the development of large, high-tech farms may be slow, he said.

In the meantime, China’s best option may be the same as for many developed nations—improve people’s diet.

“The demand among the middle class in China to move up the food chain is a matter of status and wealth,” said Jeremy Rifkin, author of “Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture.” “It’s not sustainable.”

In China, the National Health and Family Planning Commission began a campaign in 2015 to encourage citizens to cut back on meat and unhealthy foods and eat more vegetables and fruit to counter rising levels of obesity and diabetes.

The cycle has brought Du in Chengdu full circle.

China food 12

Du Chunmei tends her organic farm on the roof of her husband’s factory in Chengdu after becoming disillusioned with the quality of supermarket food. “Being able to plant your own food is a luxury. You need to find space.”

Now her family again buys a pig each year, but not for the New Year feast. She does it to be sure of what the animal ate, insisting the farmer feeds it only corn and vegetables for eight months before slaughter.

With the help of her 75-year-old mother, Du grows peppers, cabbage, eggplants and pumpkins on the roof of her husband’s factory. Some two dozen chickens and ducks share the space, pecking on organic feed.

“There’s so much pesticides, pollutants and fertilizer in the food sold in supermarkets,” Du said. “Being able to grow your own food is a luxury.”




Ukraine – which includes Chernobyl – says no to Russian coal, gas – favours nuclear power

Ukraine says no to Russian coal, gas – favours nuclear power

May 22, 2017

Russian coal mining

Pereyaslovskiy coal mine in Russian Krasnoyarsk territory.

In spite of a blockade on shipments of anthracite coal from occupied Donbas to Ukrainian thermal power plants (TPPs) since this past winter, the country has thus far avoided blackouts. Moreover, Ukraine has managed to increase power generation by 2.1 percent year over year in January–April (Interfax-Ukraine, May 13). This was mainly thanks to heavy reliance on nuclear energy, but warm weather and lower consumption by industry also helped. Ahead of the next heating season, which kicks off in October, Ukraine is going to replace Donbas-sourced anthracite with imported coal, while also converting its thermal power plants to use alternative fuels.

Ukrainian nationalists began to block roads leading into the Moscow-backed so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR) at the end of January, protesting against what they saw as profiteering from the war by Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov at consumers’ expense (see EDM, February 24, 28). They claimed that the government agreed to pay for coal extracted at Akhmetov’s mines, located in the Russia-controlled areas, according to the so-called Rotterdam-plus formula, so it was as expensive as if it were shipped from the Netherlands (, February 17). Because of the blockade, Ukrainian TPPs were left without anthracite from the DPR and LPR territories, and the government warned in February that almost a third of Ukraine would face blackouts by April. Still, the protests gained momentum, and in March Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko banned all cargo traffic with the occupied eastern territories. As a result, five out of the six Ukrainian TPPs that used to burn anthracite stopped operations in April (see EDM, March 29).

But even with many of its TPPs offline, Ukraine was not plunged into blackouts, thanks to a combination of factors. February and March were unusually warm, so less coal was used for heating. Industry also consumed less power because the Donbas blockade not only affected power generation, but also subdued output in metallurgy and the engineering industry. For example, after growth last year and in January, metal production plunged year on year by 4.3 percent in February and by 2.2 percent in March (, accessed on May 16). Also, thermal power was partially replaced with nuclear power, so the share of nuclear plants in power generation jumped from 52 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in January–April (Interfax, May 15). However, Ukraine cannot continue to heavily rely on nuclear reactors, as it will be necessary to shut them down for scheduled maintenance later in the year. Meanwhile, domestic power consumption is likely to grow, as the economy continues to expand.

To remedy this situation, Ukraine plans to increase coal imports, while adapting its TPPs to use lower-quality G-grade coal, which is extracted outside the occupied areas and can be easily imported, in place of anthracite. The Ukrainian government does not want to increase coal imports from Russia on principle, because of the war, so Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman suggested buying coal from as far as the United States, South Africa and Australia (, March 21). However, that might be prohibitively expensive, given the transportation costs involved.

On April 25, Sakhnakhshiri, a company based across the Black Sea in Georgia, won a tender to deliver 700,000 tons of coal to Ukraine to the state company Tsentrenergo, which runs two of the five power plants stopped due to the coal shortage. Sakhnakhshiri is to deliver coal to Ukraine in May–December. However, there have been doubts about this supplier, showing the pitfalls Ukraine may encounter while looking for a replacement to Donbas anthracite. Sakhnakhshiri faced only one competitor in the tender, a little-known firm registered in Poland but linked to a Ukrainian citizen, whose bid price was only $38 higher than Sakhnakhshiri’s. So there was little or no competition (, April 26). Furthermore, Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili said on his Facebook page on April 27 that Sakhnakhshiri might end up buying coal for Ukraine in Russia, and he questioned the transparency of the deal. Georgia, said Saakashvili, could not produce so much coal of the quality asked by Tsentrenergo. Coal bought from Russia may turn out to be coal that was originally shipped to Russia by the DPR-LPR authorities.

Meanwhile, both the government and Akhmetov’s DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest private energy company, are working to convert their TPPs to G-grade coal. DTEK CEO Maksym Tymchenko said in an interview that one of his firm’s TPPs was currently being converted, and conversion of another plant was already planned (, April 27). DTEK also began to buy anthracite from South Africa (, April 13). Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk told a recent government meeting that power units at two of Tsentrenergo’s TPPs would use G-grade coal by the end of 2017. Along with the construction of new power transmission lines from nuclear plants and new hydropower units, this should allow Ukraine to replace about four million tons of Donbas anthracite in power generation, Kyiv hopes (, April 26).

Ukraine has learned to survive without natural gas purchases from Russia’s Gazprom (see EDM, February 11, 2016). This year, it is learning to live without coal from the areas controlled by Russia-backed militants. This is vital for Ukraine’s highly energy-dependent industry, which is expected to increase production this year, supporting GDP growth for the second year in a row, after deep recession in 2014–2015.

By The Jamestown Foundation




Liberals release carbon-tax plan, brace for legal battle with Saskatchewan

Liberals release carbon-tax plan, brace for legal battle with Saskatchewan


OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:37PM EDT

Last updated Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:43PM EDT


Preparing for a promised legal battle with Saskatchewan, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she’s confident Ottawa has the authority to impose a carbon price across the country, even when that levy would apply to provincially owned utilities.

The minister on Thursday released a technical paper on Ottawa’s proposed carbon tax, which will apply in provinces where premiers refused to adopt their own plan, or add to provincial levies where provincial governments adopt carbon-pricing programs that do not meet minimum federal standards.

In an interview, Ms. McKenna said the federal government is on “very strong ground” constitutionally, despite Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s argument that its carbon-pricing plan would intrude on provincial jurisdiction, especially as it relates to government-owned SaskPower, which relies heavily on coal for its electricity generation.

“If they are imposing this tax, our response is ‘see you in court,’” a spokeswoman for Mr. Wall said in an e-mail. Saskatchewan is the only province that refuses to consider a carbon price – whether a tax or cap-and-trade approach – but several others have not committed to meeting Ottawa’s minimum pricing standards.

Ms. McKenna said the federal government has clear authority to regulate on cross-border environmental matters in order to reduce pollution. She said all revenue would be returned to the province in which it is collected, and added the government is considering providing direct rebates to households and business to offset the impact of rising energy costs.

“This is not a tax; this is a levy and the revenue is going back into the province,” the federal minister said. “As the federal government, we need to be taking action to protect the environment and it is well within our jurisdiction to do so. But we hope Saskatchewan will design a system that works best for them.”

Under the federal plan, either Ottawa or provincial governments that have no pricing system would introduce the carbon levy next year, beginning at $10 per tonne and rising to $50 per tonne by 2022. A $50 per tonne carbon price would add 11.6-cents per litre of gasoline, and would also hit natural gas, and electricity generated from coal or natural gas.

Provinces can also opt to adopt a cap-and-trade plan, which keeps prices lower because companies can purchase cheaper “allowances” from California. Alberta and British Columbia have carbon taxes, while Ontario and Quebec have cap-and-trade systems that require fuel distribution companies to purchase permits, the cost of which get passed along in the price of gasoline and home heating fuel.

The paper released Tuesday proposes a hybrid carbon levy, similar to one adopted in Alberta.

Fuel distributors would have to collect the tax from consumers. Farmers would be exempt from paying the tax on fuel used in farm operations, while Ottawa is still considering how to cover fuel used on interprovincial flights within Canada. International flights are covered by an industry-wide cap-and-trade plan.

In order to protect competitiveness, Ottawa would only tax a small portion of emissions from large industrial plants that consume a lot of fossil fuels and face global competition. As in Alberta, the amount of the levy would depend on how emissions-intensive a company is compared to others in its sector, with more-efficient operators getting a bigger break.

Conservative politicians have attacked the Liberal carbon-price plan as an unwelcome burden that will make the country less competitive, particularly as President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress promise deregulation and tax cuts in the United States.

Ms. McKenna said carbon pricing is the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions that cause climate change, a view that has been endorsed by some prominent business leaders, including executives from Canada’s biggest oil sands producers. She noted many major economies – including the European Union, Mexico, China and California – are moving forward on carbon levies.

“Everyone realizes you want to put a price on pollution because pollution isn’t free,” Ms. McKenna said. “We know it’s causing droughts, fires and floods, and that our Arctic is melting in our country, and across the world. And also pollution has a very significant impacts on our health.

“And if you’re going to have a serious climate plan, you need to put prices on pollution because it also creates the incentive for companies to innovate and provide clean solutions, and provides certainty to business that we’re serious about moving to a cleaner economy.”




Ottawa to explain how it will impose a carbon tax on provinces today

Ottawa to explain how it will impose a carbon tax on provinces today

By The Canadian Press

May 18, 2017 – 7:16am

oil pump jack

OTTAWA — Provinces have until the end of 2018 to introduce a price on carbon or Ottawa will impose its own model instead, a technical paper on the federal carbon-pricing scheme will say today.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will make public the paper, which proposes to give provinces three options for pricing carbon: legislate their own levy on emissions starting at $10 a tonne, legislate their own cap-and-trade system which can show it will produce equivalent cuts in emissions as a carbon tax, or use a hybrid model largely based on Alberta’s program which Ottawa will impose itself.

The carbon tax, or cap-and-trade equivalent, will have to go up by $10 a year, rising to $50 a tonne by the end of 2022.

McKenna will accept public comments on the paper and intends to introduce legislation in the fall.

The plan is part of the Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change. Canada has agreed to cut its emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. That requires a reduction of almost 200 million tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions in 13 years, or the equivalent of taking every car in Canada off the road, twice.

Dale Marshall, national program manager at Environmental Defence, said a carbon price helps get there but it is not “a panacea.” He said it’s frustrating so much attention is focused on the carbon tax when no government anywhere has implemented a carbon price high enough to cut emissions as much as they need to be cut.

“Hopefully, people will stay engaged on things like a clean fuel standard, methane regulations, a zero net energy building code and a zero emission vehicle strategy, et cetera,” he said. “All are needed.”

The framework does include some of those measures, although the government recently delayed its methane regulations. A discussion paper on clean fuel standards was released earlier this year.

Marshall said carbon prices contribute to emissions reductions by encouraging people and companies to change their behaviour.

University of Calgary economics professor Jennifer Winter wrote a blog last week suggesting at $10 a tonne, households will pay an additional $121 a year in B.C., and up to $224 more in Nova Scotia. At $50 a tonne, those costs rise to $603 in B.C. and $1,120 in Nova Scotia. People in provinces with larger renewable sources of electricity will pay less.

All of that assumes no behavioural changes such as driving less, buying a more fuel-efficient car or upgrading home insulation and windows.

Mitch LaBuick, an indirect tax specialist at BDO Canada, said it’s hard to truly know how much a carbon tax raises prices. He said in Alberta, the price at the pump didn’t immediately go up 4.5 cents a litre on Jan. 1, when the new carbon levy came into effect. Market forces such as business decisions on profit margins and competition, can determine how much higher a price will go, he said.

However, he said taxing carbon to change behaviour is not a new concept, noting governments have for years used taxes on cigarettes to help encourage people to quit smoking.

The Alberta carbon-price model includes a direct tax on most transportation and heating fuels and a type of cap-and-trade for large industrial emitters. Alberta returns some money directly to low and middle-income Albertans through rebate cheques and puts the rest into small business tax cuts, renewable energy production and other climate change mitigation projects.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the most likely candidates for having the federal carbon-price scheme imposed on them. B.C. and Alberta have carbon taxes, Ontario and Quebec have cap-and-trade systems and Nova Scotia intends to create a cap-and-trade system in 2018. The other Atlantic provinces are looking at whether to join Nova Scotia’s plan or go it alone.

Manitoba intends to introduce a climate change strategy later this year, but hasn’t committed yet to including a price on carbon.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is the loudest opponent to a carbon tax and has threatened to sue Ottawa to prevent it from being imposed on his province.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

©2017 The Canadian Press




BHP ditching ‘Billiton’ in $10 million rebranding mov

BHP ditching ‘Billiton’ in $10 million rebranding move

Cecilia Jamasmie

May 15, 2017

BHP iron ore

Rebranding is part of BHP’s efforts to emphasize its Australian roots. (Image iron ore operations in Australia, courtesy of BHP Billiton)

BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT) is rolling out a $10 million rebranding campaign that will see the world’s largest mining company become simply “BHP” in an attempt to emphasise its Australian roots.

The move, announced Monday, comes on the heels of calls from shareholders including activist investor Elliott Management and Australia’s Tribeca Investment Partners to change its corporate structure and incorporate in the UK.

“In launching Think Big, we will take the opportunity to change our logo and move to a brand that Australians have known us by for generations – BHP,” the firm said.

The advertising campaign includes 30-second television ads, a three-minute online video and a new slogan, “Think Big”, to facilitate a change that according to the company has been in the making for quite a while.

“We started working on this 18 months ago. We realized we had to start by telling people what BHP Billiton is and what we do,” chief external affairs officer, Geoff Healy, said in a statement.

“In launching Think Big, we will take the opportunity to change our logo and move to a brand that Australians have known us by for generations – BHP,” Healy noted, adding the expression is already widely used colloquially around the world to refer to the company.

The rebranding, the first since BHP used the late actor Bill Hunter 30 years ago in its “Big Australian” promotion, can also be seen as an effort to gain back public trust after the damage to the firm’s image caused by the November 2015 dam burst at its Samarco joint-venture in Brazil. Such incident killed 19 people and caused widespread environmental harm.

It also coincides with chief executive Andrew Mackenzie’s visit to Spain this week, where he’ll face investors at the Bank of Merrill Lynch mining conference.

While the Melbourne-based miner is changing name and logo, it is not modifying its registered name, which will remain BHP Billiton.

Watch some of the ads below:




The action is heating up in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

Skyharbour to drill AREVA-backed property this summer

East Preston uranium project in Saskatchewan has $9.8 million in earn-in agreements

Andrew Topf

May 15, 2017

Skyharbour drilling

The action is heating up in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin with one of the major exploration players in the region, Skyharbour Resources (TSXV:SYH), announcing last week that its option partner Azincourt Uranium (TSXV:AAZ) will be starting a new exploration this summer.

The program will be designed to test previously untested drill targets at the East Preston Uranium Project – one of five properties being explored by Vancouver-based Skyharbour, which has a current market capitalization of $23.59 million.

Home to Cameco’s (TSX:CCO) McArthur River uranium mine, the Athabasca Basin is considered one of the richest sources of uranium in the world, with many uranium deposits hosting grades substantially higher than the world average grade of under .2% uranium oxide (U3O8).

The area has been a hotbed for energy metal investors over the past few years, due to significant discoveries, including the Arrow discovery by NexGen Energy (TSXV:NXE), Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Triple R, and Cameco, Areva and Purepoint Uranium’s joint-venture (TSXV:PTU) Hook Lake Spitfire Zone high-grade discovery.

Last Wednesday’s announcement concerns the identification of targets in the Swoosh corridor of East Preston, which has seen over $2 million in exploration expenditures to date, and $4.7 million for the entire Preston project, according to Skyharbour. The work has has consisted of ground gravity, airborne and ground electromagnetics, radon, soil, silt, biogeochem, lake sediment and geological mapping surveys, as well as two exploratory drill programs.

The program follows up on a March 28 announcement that Skyharbour and clean-tech company Clean Commodities (TSXV:CLE) teamed up for an option agreement, whereby Azincourt will earn the right to own up to 70% of the property, in exchange for issuing 4.5 million shares plus cash for a total consideration of CAD$3.5 million.

An earlier $8 million option agreement on the property was signed with AREVA Resources Canada, a subsidiary of French nuclear giant AREVA and operator of the McLean Lake Mill. Together the two option agreements total $9.8 million in exploration expenditures over six years.

Skyharbour says the Preston project is located near recent high-grade discoveries in the Patterson Lake area including NexGen Energy’s Arrow deposit, Fission Uranium’s Triple R deposit, and the Spitfire discovery. The property comprises 34 contiguous mineral claim totaling 121,148 hectares according to a 2016 NI 43-101 report.

Skyharbour’s stock hit 52 cents a share, compared to a 52-week high of 70 cents reached in February, on the same day as the news release, last Wednesday. It fell 7.55% to 49 cents a share on Friday. Azincourt Uranium hit its 52-week high of 10.5 cents a share on Friday – a gain of 16.67%.




Cameco continues to explore Athabasca Basin through CanAlaska deal

Cameco continues to explore Athabasca Basin through CanAlaska deal

$1.9 million earn-in agreement at CanAlaska’s West McArthur uranium project

Andrew Topf

May 5, 2017

CanAlaska Cameco

Top Canadian uranium producer Cameco (TSX:CCO) has just signed an agreement with CanAlaska Uranium (TSXV:CVV) to conduct exploratory drilling at the West McArthur uranium project, 15 kilometres from its majority-owned McArthur River uranium mine.

Under the deal announced today, Cameco will pay CanAlaska $1.9 million to carry out geophysics and drilling this summer on two targets known as Grid 1 and Grid 5. The work is part of an option for Cameco to earn a 60% interest in the project. The uranium major has already spent $725,000 and has the right to earn a 30% interest if it completes a $5 million exploration program within three years. Another $500,000 payment will give Cameco the right to spend an additional $6.275 million over three years in order to earn another 30% interest and form a joint venture with CanAlaska, which holds interests in approximately 500,000 hectares in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin – considered to hold highly prospective geology for high-grade uranium.

The agreement builds on Cameco’s interest in the Fox Lake discovery, of which Cameco owns 78% as part of the Read Lake project operated by Cameco and Areva. Fox Lake has inferred resources of about 68.1 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8) based on 387,000 tonnes at 7.99% U308. It’s clear that Cameco and CanAlaska are hoping to prove that the mineralization at Fox Lake extends to West McArthur, owned by CanAlaska Uranium after CanAlaska bought out former partner Mitsubishi’s interest in January. reported:

The Fox Lake conductor trends onto CanAlaska’s property at Grid 5, according to CanAlaska CEO Peter Dasler. Dasler hopes uranium mineralization extends along the conductor or originates between the Grid 5 and Fox conductors. 2012 drilling at West McArthur identified a large alteration system that hasn’t yet been followed up on. CanAlaska is looking for a partner to help explore the property.

Added Dasler in today’s press release: “In this second year of exploration by Cameco on the West McArthur property, we expect to finally close in on the source of the mineralization that we identified in past programs. Both of the target areas appear to host large mineralizing systems and it is encouraging to see the priority that Cameco’s team has given this Project during challenging times. We are looking forward to the results of this significant drill program.”

Cameco said it plans to spend about $36 million on 24 projects in Canada and Australia, the majority of which are at drill target stage, according to a management’s discussion and analysis document quoted by

US DoE delivers big boost to uranium price

US DoE delivers big boost to uranium price

Frik Els

May 1, 2017


Uranium was the glaring exception amid a broad-based rally in metals and minerals in 2016. The price of U3O8 fell 41% in 2016 with the industry tracker UxC’s broker average price hitting 12-year lows below $18 per pound in November.

Then, against expectations, the price started to turn. When top supplier Kazakhstan announced in the second week of January that it’s cutting output by 5.2 million pounds, equal to 3% of global production, the rally seemed justified.

Enough uranium is above ground for the next eight years

By February 10 the price had climbed 50% from its November low at $26.75 a pound despite more indicators of weakness to come including Japanese utility TEPCO’s declaration of Force Majeure on a key uranium delivery contract from Cameco Corp. (CCO-T), top listed uranium producer.

Uranium has been drifting lower since then, trading at $22.75 last week.  Now a  development in the US could breather new life into the uranium rally.

Rob Chang Managing Director and Head of Metals & Mining – Canada at Cantor Fitzgerald in a research note on Monday highlights large cuts made by the US Department of Energy in the amount of uranium that it disperses into the market.

Chang believes the development is very positive for the sector. The 2 million pounds allowed by the Dept for the remainder of 2017 and the 3.1 million pounds for 2018, are notably less than the 5.5 million pounds equivalent that was occurring in prior years.

This is effectively an annual cut of 2.4 million pounds or nearly half the Kazakh output reductions and should take some pressure off the spot market says Chang:

The announcement by Kazatomprom sparked a spot uranium price rally from US$20.25/lb to a peak of US$26.00/lb, or by 28%. Uranium equities across the board experienced large gains during the same period.

Combined, the Kazakh and U.S. DOE cuts amount to 7.6M lbs of U3O8 equivalent, which is 4.8% of our forecast production at the beginning of 2017.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s supply and demand forecast projects likely shutdowns and production curtailments if realized prices are flat-lined at US$40 per pound as shown in the graph.

uranium prices May 2017

Nevertheless, today’s prices are still a long way away from the all-time high of nearly $140 a pound reached in June 2007. Uranium’s weakness persists despite strong fundamentals with only reactors already being built – 66 in total, mostly in China – expected to increase the global need for uranium by a fifth from today’s levels.

Following the Fukushima reactor meltdown in 2011, market expectations were that Japan would move quickly with restarting their reactors, but 38 remain shut five years on.

Uranium that would have been delivered to Japan is being stockpiled. UxC estimates global inventories as high as 1.4 billion pounds of which some 800m pounds are sitting utilities and most of the remainder with the Russian and US governments.

While not all stockpiles can easily be brought onto the market, roughly 173 million pounds are needed per year to feed the world’s more than 400 operable reactors which means enough uranium is above ground for the next eight years.




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