Monthly Archives: December 2013

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’

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A former British Petroleum BP geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London UCL, Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency IEA, US Energy Information Administration EIA, International Monetary Fund IMF, among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

via Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’ | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

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Twitter fiasco director leaves British Gas

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The British Gas director who was slammed on Twitter for the energy supplier’s soaring bills has left the business after an “organisational change”.

Bert Pijls will leave his post as managing director of customer services at the end of the year.

Just two months ago the Dutchman fielded customer questions over the internet just hours after British Gas announced a 9.2 per cent price hike for the winter.

The webchat, under the hashtag #AskBG, quickly became dominated by abuse directed at the company over high prices.

The Q&A became one of the top trending topics as hundreds of customers joined in to vent their anger. One critic, John F, wrote: “Thanks for helping me save money on heating. Your latest hike has boiled my blood enough to keep me warm through winter.”

via Twitter fiasco director leaves British Gas – Telegraph.

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Npower calls in service partners after troubled SAP rollout disrupts billing systems 

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Npower has been forced to bring in service provider partners to help resolve disruption to customer-facing systems after encountering problems with its large-scale SAP rollout.

Many of the energy provider’s 5.4 million customers began to experience problems as account details were transferred from legacy in-house systems onto an SAP platform in 2011. Issues included billing delays, problems with the creation of accounts and direct debit payment schemes not being set up properly. A backlog of complaints also created longer call waiting times, with regulator Ofgem highlighting a “serious deterioration in service levels” in the past year, prompting an apology from npower CEO Paul Massara.

The project was originally aimed at improving administration of millions of customer accounts, with the IT system covering billing, customer service and financial systems. IBM was contracted as the systems integrator for the project, with account migration reaching completion in August 2012.

However, Forrester analyst Duncan Jones said that the stakeholders should have expected to encounter some technical problems with such a large, transformative SAP project. As a result, customers, vendors and service partners need to ensure that project contracts give the flexibility needed to react to unplanned changes during and after the implementation process, he said.

“These are complex projects involving a lot of changes to the way that people are doing things, and there is risk involved that you have to mitigate,” he said.

“They [npower] should have foreseen this, SAP should have foreseen this and IBM should have foreseen this.”

An npower spokesperson said that the billing and account problems were the result of a number of “complex and varied issues” due to the size of the project, and the company is currently working to resolve the IT issues.

via Npower calls in service partners after troubled SAP rollout disrupts billing systems ( – Software ).

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Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners’ knowledge

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Fracking could take place under thousands of homes without their owners’ knowledge after ministers said companies would no longer have to notify people directly about potential gas drilling in their areas.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, said the law would be changed to allow gas companies to put in fracking applications without sending out letters to tell people about possible drilling beneath their properties. Instead, companies will be required to publish a notice in a local newspaper and put up site displays in local parishes, as well as conducting a wider consultation.

Campaigners said the announcement was a blow to all communities likely to be affected by fracking, following concerns about minor tremors caused by test drilling for shale gas near Blackpool, and the potential for flaring, air pollution and contamination of water.

However, the government said it would be too burdensome for gas companies to tell everybody within a wide radius of drilling that it might take place under their homes.

It would mean a “disproportionately large number of individuals and businesses” would have to be personally informed, Boles told MPs in a written statement.

Ministers have repeatedly dismissed safety and environmental concerns about fracking, saying it will be tightly regulated and developed responsibly.

The announcement comes after a report on shale gas found two-thirds of the UK’s land could be made available for fracking companies to license, with new areas opened up in the Midlands, Cumbria and Wales.

The technology uses high pressure water and chemicals to fracture underground rock and release trapped gas. Because it takes place many miles underground, the companies themselves may not know precisely where they are drilling.

“The associated underground extraction takes place very deep below the Earth’s surface, over a wide geographical area,” Boles said. “As a result, it is often not possible to identify the exact route of any lateral drilling.

via Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners’ knowledge | Environment | theguardian.com.

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Video – Perth-based company building world’s first wave energy farm off the WA coast

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After six years on the drawing board, a Perth-based company has finally started building the world’s first wave energy farm off the West Australian coast.

Carnegie Energy is building the plant five kilometres off Rockingham and will supply electricity and desalinated water to the naval base at Garden Island.

The company’s chief executive Mike Ottaviano says it has taken a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of optimism to get to this stage.

“This is the first time that any company has ever deployed multiple wave energy units into what’s called a wave farm and produced electricity and fresh water from that,” he said.

It is one of three wave energy pilot projects in the pipeline around Australia but it is the only so-called ‘wave farm’, comprising of multiple units.

Under the system, Carnegie places large buoys beneath the ocean’s surface, which moves with the waves to generate high amounts of hydraulic pressure.

That pressure is then delivered onshore through a pipeline and then used to spin a hydro-electric turbine to generate electricity.

And wave power differs from other renewable energies like solar and wind, in that it delivers a relatively constant supply of energy both day and night.

Susan Wijffels from CSIRO says Australia is well placed to take advantage of wave energy.

“The resource that southern Australia gets its absolutely massive, if we could just harvest 10 per cent of that energy, that would supply half of Australia’s electricity,” she said.

That potential Mr Ottaviano hopes Carnegie will be able to capitalise on after it’s proved the technology at Garden Island.

via Perth-based company building world’s first wave energy farm off the WA coast – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

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UK Approves 450 Million Pound Offshore Wind Port Project Plan

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The U.K. approved a 450-million pound ($736 million) project to build manufacturing and port facilities for the offshore wind industry in northeast England, expanding the country’s drive to develop the technology.

Able U.K. Ltd. was given the go-ahead for the project after satisfying a government request for more detail on how it will accommodate for seabirds and a railway line affected by the plan, the Department of Transport said today in an e-mailed statement. Parliament must now consider compulsory purchase powers to acquire some of the land needed, it said.

Britain has more installed offshore wind power than the rest of the world combined, and ministers have identified the technology as key to U.K. efforts to slash carbon and boost renewables. Deployment of 10 gigawatts, almost triple current installations, is possible by 2020, according to the government, which has shied away from setting an official goal.

The approval is “testament to a continuing sense of long- term confidence in the offshore wind sector, which is at the very heart of our green energy future,” Maf Smith, deputy chief executive officer of the RenewableUK lobby group said in a statement. “Offshore wind, and the supply chain it is building, could create tens of thousands of green-collar jobs to coastline communities in areas where they’re needed most.”

The project on the banks of the Humber River in northeast England includes about 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) of deep-water docks and 906 acres (367 hectares) of land for offices and factories, according to its website. Able says the project may create 4,000 jobs.

via UK Approves 450 Million Pound Offshore Wind Port Project Plan.

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2013 sees £1.3 Billion in Clean Energy Investment

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Trillion Fund, a high-profile group aiming to make investment into clean energy more accessible, has announced that over £1.3bn was invested into the renewable energy sector in 2013.The last 12 months have seen substantial records broken in clean commercial energy investments and uptake of projects across the UK’s renewables sector, with £1 billion in Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) invested in the UK’s stock market.

via 2013 sees £1.3 Billion in Clean Energy Investment.

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Renewable energy: Tony Abbott signals he could wind back or scrap targets

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Tony Abbott has signalled next year’s review of the renewable energy target could wind back, or even scrap, the scheme, saying lower power prices are the government’s primary goal and the rationale for the RET no longer exists.

Announcing modest government assistance for Holden, the prime minister also revealed he would chair a new taskforce to find ways to make industry more competitive, with reducing the cost of energy a primary aim.

Asked whether that could involve scaling back the RET, which was set up by the Howard government and requires energy retailers and large customers to source a proportion of their energy from renewable sources, Abbott said: “We support sensible use of renewable energy, and as you know it was former Howard government which initially gave us the RET and at the time it was important because we made very little use of renewable energy.”

But times had changed, he said.

“We have to accept that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be an affordable energy superpower … cheap energy ought to be one of our comparative advantages … what we will be looking at is what we need to do to get power prices down significantly,” he said.

Abbott said he would also “consult closely” with his Business Advisory Council, chaired by Maurice Newman, as the taskforce looked for ways to increase industry competitiveness.

via Renewable energy: Tony Abbott signals he could wind back or scrap targets | Environment | theguardian.com.

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Fracking companies entitled to licences on more than 60% of British land

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Two-thirds of the UK’s land will be available for fracking companies to license, a government map published on Tuesday shows, with new areas opened up in the Midlands, Cumbria and Wales.

Ministers said major energy companies had expressed interest in new shale gas licences and up to 150 applications are expected, which could cover about 15% of the UK.

Almost £1bn of financial incentives and revenues could be injected into local communities that accept fracking, according to a new assessment of the impact of a largescale shale gas industry on the UK, published the same day.

The report, commissioned by the government, suggests that a major fracking effort would deliver about 25% of the UK’s annual gas needs in its peak years in the 2020s and provide up to 32,000 jobs, although as few as one-fifth of these could be local.

However, Keith Taylor, the Green party’s MEP for south-east England, said: “In reality, many people will be unwilling to accept air pollution, noisy trucks, gas flaring and potential water contamination in exchange for the government’s bribe.”

The assessment, required by law, was produced by consultants Amec and also warns that the billions of litres of polluted wastewater produced by a big shale gas industry “could place a significant burden on existing wastewater treatment capacity”. Fracking uses high pressure water and chemicals to fracture underground rock and release trapped gas.

“There is a huge amount of shale gas underneath us all and what is important for public confidence is to show the regulatory framework is robust,” said energy minister, Michael Fallon. He said Tuesday’s announcements were “stepping up the search for shale gas” but declined to say whether he would welcome fracking under his own house. The government also published a “roadmap” of existing regulations covering the sector, intended to “provide certainty to investors and local communities”.

via Fracking companies entitled to licences on more than 60% of British land | Environment | theguardian.com.

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