Scroll down....

Friday, 23 February 2018

So Soros invests in fossil fuels. So what?

James Delingpole’s latest blog on Breitbart takes a predictable swing at international financier and advocate of action against climate change, George Soros, claiming that Soros is a hypocrite for investing in fossil fuels while simultaneously advocating solutions to climate change.

This claim originates from a Daily Caller story written by Richard Pollock and published on 9th February. The article claims that Soros invested in fossil fuel companies in the fourth quarter of 2017, companies that Soros apparently claims contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Eleven companies were reported by Soros Fund Management, a total of nearly $160 million worth of investments, according to the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings on 31st December 2017.

The problem here is that Soros has pledged action against the oil, gas and coal sectors, on the basis that those industries are exacerbating climate change. He also founded a climate change policy group called the Climate Policy Initiative, which he still operates.

The Daily Caller is an American conservative news and opinion website. In other words, it is a right wing platform. That being so, it is natural someone writing for it should go after Soros, given that he is a popular right wing target. However, the left-leaning Guardian has carried the story too, back in August 2015. This is interesting because there are various comments attached to that story trying to second-guess what Soros is up to. One very appealing theory here is that Soros is involved in some kind of asset stripping exercise so that he make a fortune while also, once these companies start to seriously decline, forcing them to make an ‘about face’ and reorientate them towards renewables. Another comment suggests:

“Maybe he's done some maths and worked out these guys can't afford to go bankrupt in the next few years because there is insufficient capacity from other sources to maintain grid stability if that occurs, and hence they would need bailing out, or similar government assistance and subsidies”.

But we’re actually getting bogged down on minutiae here. In the wider context of climate change, this really isn’t that important. For a start, Soros is a regular target of the right anyway, as Business Insider explains. There are numerous conspiracy theories about him, the vast majority of which are without foundation.

Delingpole’s usual tactic of using something like this as a crook from which to attack the whole subject of man-made climate change is fairly obvious here, particularly in his concluding claim that thanks to Trump’s revival of “beautiful clean coal”, climate change mitigation is unprofitable.

This of course is baloney. The coal industry is dying. Mostly, so far that’s been because of cheap natural gas, but renewables are increasingly reducing in cost and thus are also beating coal.

Which means that Trump has about as much chance of resurrecting the American coal industry as he has of digging up the body of the King of Atlantis.  

Friday, 28 July 2017

Met Office State of the Climate 2016

The Met Office 3rd annual State of the UK Climate report, released today, shows 2016 was the 13th warmest year (records dating back to 1910).

2016 has been 0.5 °C warmer than average and the last decade 0.3 °C warmer (1981-2010) over the UK as a whole and for many it was also sunny with sunshine levels 4% above the 30 year average (1981-2010) for the UK overall.

National Grid release Future Energy Scenarios (FES) 2017

The National Grid's Future Energy Scenarios (FES) document, released in July 2017, aims to encourage and inform a national debate about how the national grid should transition towards an energy system that is secure, affordable and sustainable. It is published every year with the assistance of stakeholders from across the industry.

One of its key messages is that an energy system with high levels of distributed and renewable generation has become a reality, with growth in this area set to continue. However, that in turn increases the complexity of running the energy system. Furthermore, market and regulatory arrangements need to adapt quickly to a more flexible energy system involving an increasing number of participants.

Electricity demand will increase in the future (the increasing entry of electric vehicles (EVs) into the automotive market springs to mind here) and the shape of that demand will also change. A range of solutions need to be introduced in order to deliver the best value for consumers, including smart energy technologies, a coordinated approach across the whole system, improved transmission and distribution infrastructure and various commercial approaches such as encouraging consumer behaviour change.

The document predicts four probable future energy scenarios: Two Degrees, Slow Progression, Steady State and Consumer Power.

In the first of these, increased investment delivers high levels of low carbon energy with consumers making conscious choices to become greener and being able to afford to do so. This scenario sees all the UK low carbon energy targets being achieved.

In the Slow Progression scenario, low economic growth and affordability suppress the transition to a low carbon energy system. The focus moves to longer-term environmental policies.

The Steady State scenario predicts current 'business as usual' attitudes prevailing with the main focus being security of supply at low cost. This is the least affluent of the scenarios and the least green, with little appetite for investment in low carbon technologies.

Finally, the Consumer Power scenario predicts high economic growth with more money to spend. Consumers show little interest in switching to low carbon technologies or to become environmentally friendly.

So which scenario is the most likely? The document doesn't really say, and that isn't really its function anyway, leaving that instead to the wider national debate. Instead, what it does do is explore each scenario in detail and explains what each involves and its potential impacts.

The rest is up to us.

Further information:

National Grid

FES debate

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Aiming for operational excellence: An interview with David Swindin of Cubico Sustainable Investments

As mentioned previously in Renewable Energy Magazine, Cubico Sustainable Investments has acquired a portfolio of 18 Italian PV plants (109 MW) from Silver Ridge Power Italia, a Joint Venture between Riverstone and SunEdison. Cubico employs a unique business model where they invest in and then manage renewable assets for the long-term – typically 30-35 years. Cubico is backed by two leading Canadian pension funds and has very ambitious plans, aiming to expand rapidly and become one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies in terms of operational excellence.

REM talked to David Swindin, Head of EMEA at Cubico, to find out more about the company and its vision for the future.

Monday, 15 May 2017

H&M joins EP100 in order to enhance its energy efficiency

International fashion retailer H&M has joined global collaborative initiative EP100 in order to enhance its energy productivity and transition to a net zero carbon company.  

Energy & Environment Dates 2012