Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Energy

Analysis and Comment (59)

The cat that got too fat. But let’s talk about you. The cat that got too fat. But let’s talk about you. Yukari

Ten things you didn’t know about fat

Our understanding of fats – including which ones are actually good for us – is evolving. We know for example that red meat and meat products, cakes and biscuits, which are rich sources of saturated fatty…
Big may be beautiful but it’s also inflexible and expensive. Big may be beautiful but it’s also inflexible and expensive. Andrew Parsons/PA

Small nuclear reactors may be the key to a low-carbon future

Take a hard look at the painful process of de-carbonising the UK’s electricity supply, and it’s clear that the options on the table are not great. From the outset, changes to the system generate further…
You spin me right round, and power the lights too. You spin me right round, and power the lights too. Simon Syon

Relying on renewables need not mean dealing with blackouts

For all the huge, hulking buildings of concrete and steel that house coal, gas or nuclear power stations, or towering 100-metre-tall wind turbines, generating electricity is in fact a very precise and…
Installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the Boyarka village near Kiev. Installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the Boyarka village near Kiev. Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Russia’s game of chicken with Ukraine leaves Europe on the edge

As with the previous Russia-Ukraine gas disputes in 2006 and 2009, how we describe the current stand-off between the two countries is a matter of semantics. Those earlier disputes found solutions based…
While there may be gold beneath the surface, it’s hard to reach. While there may be gold beneath the surface, it’s hard to reach. Wu Hong/EPA

US-style fracking success far from guaranteed on British soil

Britain’s energy-hungry population is highly dependent on oil and gas, which powers around two thirds of the UK’s energy needs. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) projects that by 2030…
Methane hydrates - fire ice from deep under the sea. Methane hydrates - fire ice from deep under the sea. Wusel007

Japan’s quest to tap the natural gas beneath the ocean floor

Last year Japanese scientists announced they had for the first time extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate, an ice-like substance made of natural gas (methane) trapped inside water crystals…
It depends if the price is right, it seems. It depends if the price is right, it seems. Peter Byrne/PA

Fracking will be tried in the court of public opinion in 2015

There has been an anxious search for new sources of fossil fuels, and shale gas appears to offer Britain a key national resource. But the nation’s new-found hydrocarbon wealth has met with far from universal…
Many long-promised renewable and low-emission energy programs have been scrapped or cut back in the Coalition’s first budget. Many long-promised renewable and low-emission energy programs have been scrapped or cut back in the Coalition’s first budget. Lukas Coch/AAP

Billions axed in clean energy: renewable target is next

There are billions of dollars of broken promises in the Abbott government’s first budget for low-emission and renewable energy programs – and wiggle room to break even more in the next few years. Among…
Automatically labelling people as NIMBYs if they have concerns about local power projects is not a constructive way to proceed. Automatically labelling people as NIMBYs if they have concerns about local power projects is not a constructive way to proceed. Grahamec/Wikimedia Commons

Calling people NIMBYs won’t stop development arguments

From coal seam gas to wind farms, new resource projects seem to be pitting communities against corporations, and people against their neighbours. We often see, in such cases, community concerns labelled…
Better appliances and energy-efficiency rules saved Australians more than A$3 billion on electricity last year alone. Better appliances and energy-efficiency rules saved Australians more than A$3 billion on electricity last year alone. Shutterstock

Energy-smart appliances cut Australian power bills by billions

The latest review of Australia’s energy-saving appliance scheme has delivered a rare trifecta: a good news story for the economy, the community and the environment. According to my estimates from data…
Putin talks; Gazprom’s CEO listens. Putin talks; Gazprom’s CEO listens. EPA

Gazprom may yet be a victim of Putin’s Ukraine policy

Gazprom’s decision to hike the price of the gas it sells to Ukraine came as no surprise as it was flagged more than a month ago. At that time the company’s website showed the Russian prime minister, Dmitry…
Mexicans are taking matters into their own hands. Mexicans are taking matters into their own hands. Esther Vargas

Vigilantes patrol as Mexico concludes its energy reform

In 2013, Mexico signed into law an important and controversial set of structural reforms, one of which opens the way for foreign companies to profit from Mexico’s oil holdings. An article in The Economist…
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Double or nothing: Australia’s G20 energy challenge

When Australia hosts the G20 Leaders' Summit in November, a top agenda item for its “Brisbane Action Plan” will be “practical actions to improve productivity and competitiveness”. So here’s a good place…
Is information like this going to stop you putting the kettle on? Is information like this going to stop you putting the kettle on? athriftymrs.com

Smart meters don’t make us any smarter about energy use

Energy bills are higher on the political agenda than ever before and we are constantly being told that devices such as smart meters will help us make better decisions and take control of the energy we…
Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Flickr/ccdoh1

Is $15 a year really too much to pay for renewable energy?

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target looks likely to be weakened or even axed, with the Prime Minister saying the scheme needs to be reviewed because it is causing “pretty significant price pressure”. But…
Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Flickr/Wei Lun Koh (some rights reserved)

When will Australians finally stop wasting our energy?

From flicking on a light to travelling around town, our lives are utterly dependent on energy. That’s why it’s so surprising that Australia has been so bad at thinking about our country’s future energy…
Is this a sunset, or sunrise, for fracking? Is this a sunset, or sunrise, for fracking? danielfoster437

Shale gas: make polluters pay for the social cost of fracking

While the prime minister has shown unequivocal support for exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves, stating the country should “go all out for shale gas”, more cautious voices point to possible effects…
Workers assemble air conditioners at a factory in China earlier this year. Workers assemble air conditioners at a factory in China earlier this year. EPA/SHEPHERD ZHOU CHINA OUT

Australia’s rising air con use makes us hot and bothered

With temperatures starting to climb, it’s time to think about how we will stay cool this summer. The stakes are getting higher when it comes to hot weather. As the Australian Medical Association has warned…
Getting heat from people underground to those above ground is not an easy task. Getting heat from people underground to those above ground is not an easy task. Sean Dempsey/PA

How to use the London Underground to heat your home

Any traveller on the London Underground during the summer will know how hot and stifling it can get. That the Tube can be hotter than Bali or Barcelona is a fact of life for commuters. Running trains in…
Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Ben Curtis/PA

Scotland benefits by paying for its energy, not UK’s mistakes

Could Scotland benefit from having an independent electricity system? Our report published this week found that it could – if it meant Scotland paying for (and benefiting from) its own renewable energy…
There’s more oil down there, and it’s the regulator’s job to make sure it comes up. There’s more oil down there, and it’s the regulator’s job to make sure it comes up. AP/PA

Compel firms to extract North Sea oil in the nation’s interest

For decades the UK has been accustomed to filling its coffers with the bounty from North Sea oil and gas, and the jobs and tax receipts it has brought. At one time exports helped balance the books and…
Whodunnit: who broke the energy market? Whodunnit: who broke the energy market? Chris Young/PA

Labour’s ten-point energy plan goes too far – or not far enough

It is ironic that it is the Labour frontbench leading the charge against what it calls the UK’s “broken energy market”, because practically every controversial aspect of the energy market was the creation…
Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. David Cheskin/PA

Ofgem faces select committee, but market reform still lags

With high energy prices all anyone can talk about this winter, Ofgem’s interim chief Andrew Wright appeared before MPs today to defend the regulator’s performance. Predictably, he was met with some hostile…
The Three Gorges Dam has changed the lives of millions - not always for the better. The Three Gorges Dam has changed the lives of millions - not always for the better. Greg Baker/AP

Chinese hydropower electrifies southeast Asia, but at a cost

China is the world’s largest energy consumer, its ferocious industrial expansion and urbanisation driving a demand for electricity that has risen 10% in a single year between September 2012-13. This has…
If power can’t come to the village, the village must make its own. If power can’t come to the village, the village must make its own. AbuBakr Bahaj

Solar power is the only answer to light up rural Africa

It is estimated that around one and a half billion people globally have no access to reliable electricity. Most live in developing countries where the cost of connecting rural villages to the electricity…
Drilling in Balcombe and in Lancashire, pictured, has caused a frack load of fuss. Drilling in Balcombe and in Lancashire, pictured, has caused a frack load of fuss. Cuadrilla

Fracking earthquakes and flaming water: but not in the UK

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, reignited the row over fracking this week, when he insisted this method of extracting shale gas was no “great evil” and could act as a bridge to a “green…
Electric mountain - the reservoir at Ffestiniog power station, Wales. Electric mountain - the reservoir at Ffestiniog power station, Wales. Arpingstone

A renewable-powered future will need energy storage

The way we generate, transfer and use energy is changing, and our energy systems and infrastructure have come under increasing pressure to cope. Black-outs strike where we would expect reliable supplies…
Whether more power stations should switch to burning wood or biomass is debatable. Whether more power stations should switch to burning wood or biomass is debatable. David Cheskin/PA

If we burn wood for energy, we can’t have our cake and eat it

Many countries have turned to the planet’s forests to meet their need for renewable energy, burning wood chips and pellets produced at home or abroad in power stations to generate electricity. But a report…
Copper clad, steel containers for geological disposal: what the best dressed nuclear waste is wearing in Sweden these days. Copper clad, steel containers for geological disposal: what the best dressed nuclear waste is wearing in Sweden these days. kallerna/Wikipedia

Reaping nuclear rewards means paying the costs

It was said originally that nuclear-powered electricity would be “too cheap to meter”, but in the current climate it is nuclear’s capacity to deliver secure, low-carbon energy that appeals. We all use…
Sunrise at Sellafield: could thorium-powered reactors be a new dawn for nuclear energy? Sunrise at Sellafield: could thorium-powered reactors be a new dawn for nuclear energy? Phil Noble/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Nuclear futures: thorium could be the silver bullet to solve our energy crisis

The only source of energy that can meet global demand while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions is nuclear power. But our perception of nuclear power is coloured by issues of safety, radiotoxic waste, and…
From the plate to the power station. From the plate to the power station. Flickr/tomylees

It stinks, but food waste is feeding our hunger for energy

The amount of scrap food thrown away worldwide is staggering. WRAP, a government-funded non-profit set up to encourage recycling and clamp down on waste, reports that in the UK we discard more than 7.2m…
Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Magnox Sites Ltd

Nuclear subsidies: a gamble on the price of gas

Providing power to the nation is no small task. It requires considerable forward planning, involves huge costs and considerable risks. More risk and cost, in fact, than most energy providers can stomach…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
Be the change you wish to see in the world - it may have more impact than you realise. Be the change you wish to see in the world - it may have more impact than you realise. Corepics VOF/Shutterstock

Neighbourhood watch: how to go green and influence people

We all know that children learn by example. I know if I swear in front of my four year old I’m going to hear that word again soon, probably right in front of my mother-in-law, a school teacher, or a priest…
The big emitters of greenhouse gases - China, India, and Brazil - and other developing countries were not bound by Kyoto emission targets, and the USA refused to sign up to the Protocol. The big emitters of greenhouse gases - China, India, and Brazil - and other developing countries were not bound by Kyoto emission targets, and the USA refused to sign up to the Protocol. Bret Arnett

Kyoto Protocol fails: get ready for a hotter world

Australia is on track at the end of this year to meet its emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. We’ve also signed up to the new version of Kyoto. But that should not encourage us to believe…
Australia could soon have millions of small electricity generators. Australia could soon have millions of small electricity generators. absentmindedprof/Flickr

Energy White Paper underestimates solar

The 2012 Energy White Paper has much to commend it. In particular, the far greater acknowledgement of the need to shift to clean energy sources is a fundamental shift from previous White Papers. The emphasis…
Do you value this? The Energy White Paper doesn’t. Do you value this? The Energy White Paper doesn’t. Green MPs

Energy White Paper plans to burn, burn, burn it all

Burn it all. That is the plan in Australia’s new Energy White Paper. Released yesterday by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, it talks about responding to climate change while planning the…
Housing stress and energy poverty are compromising the health of low-income Australians. Housing stress and energy poverty are compromising the health of low-income Australians. onecellotheory/Flickr

Housing stress and energy poverty – a deadly mix?

The well-being of low-income Australian households is being seriously undermined by the increasing cost of housing and electricity. Many such households are suffering from both housing stress and energy…
The Origin Smart portal provides customers with an estimate of future electricity bills. The Origin Smart portal provides customers with an estimate of future electricity bills. fudj

Is Origin Smart sleepwalking into a shocking personal data breach?

Early last week, Origin Energy, Australia’s pre-eminent energy retailer, launched an online energy-use monitoring portal Origin Smart to much fanfare. All good – but what about the the privacy and security…
Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Flickr/Tim J Keegan

Climate change and Victoria: high time to innovate, adapt, and cope

Victoria has entered a critical decade in the race to adapt for the stresses of climate change, according to a new report from the Climate Commission. Following the release of Victorian climate impacts…
Sold to the lowest bidder! The carbon price will not transform Australia’s power supply without further steps to help low-emission technologies into the market. Sold to the lowest bidder! The carbon price will not transform Australia’s power supply without further steps to help low-emission technologies into the market. Flickr/sashafatcat

Low-emission’s missing link: reverse auctions for clean power

When it comes to reducing emissions, most serious analysts agree: the market works best, but the market is not enough. The International Energy Agency, the OECD, leading British climate economist Nicholas…
With Australia’s highest carbon intensity, Victoria’s Hazelwood coal-fired power station is a prime candidate to close down part of its generating capacity. With Australia’s highest carbon intensity, Victoria’s Hazelwood coal-fired power station is a prime candidate to close down part of its generating capacity. AAP

The case for shutting down Hazelwood power station - some facts and figures

Under its Clean Energy Future, the Federal government will negotiate to close 2000 MW of the dirtiest fossil fuel power generating capacity in Australia by 2020. With the price on carbon now in operation…
Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Bobcatnorth/Flickr

Putting health at the heart of sustainability policy

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic. Today Anthony…
With natural gas - like other commodities - it can be necessary for prices to rise in anticipation of increasing demand. With natural gas - like other commodities - it can be necessary for prices to rise in anticipation of increasing demand. Flickr/jasonwoodhead23

Natural gas: expect price to rise as market expands

Many are concerned with the price of natural gas. Natural gas is an important part of Australia’s overall energy mix; it represents roughly a quarter of all primary energy sources consumed. And, as we…
Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Jason A Samfield

The discovery of fire: initial steps toward anthropogenic climate change

The evidence for a rapid shift in state of the terrestrial atmosphere-ocean system over the last two centuries (see figure 1) requires a deep time perspective, beyond events of the day. Tracing the original…
There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? AzureGrackel

Thoughts from a thorium ‘symposium’

You have probably heard at least a little about thorium. There are certainly advocates out there who strongly believe it could help solve the world’s energy problems. The idea is that thorium-based nuclear…
Coal’s heyday is coming to a close, but is gas a long-term solution? Coal’s heyday is coming to a close, but is gas a long-term solution? Guy Gorek

The future of gas power: stepping-stone or snare?

The past few years have seen the rapid expansion of the coal seam and shale gas industry. Combine this expansion with the recent introduction of a price on carbon here in Australia, and you end up with…
The Federal Government’s draft energy white paper outlines a future where Australia still depends on fossil fuels. The Federal Government’s draft energy white paper outlines a future where Australia still depends on fossil fuels. AAP

Australia’s draft energy white paper misses the big picture

The release of Australia’s draft energy white paper has outlined a future where Australia continues to be largely dependent on fossil fuels, embraces uranium and expands existing deregulation and privatisation…
Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Joost J Bakker IJmuiden

The emissions juggernaut rolls on, and everybody is on board

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: A paper published yesterday shows global industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, overwhelmingly from fossil fuels, jumped by 5.9% from 2009 to 2010. This is a big increase…
It’s hard to predict our future energy needs, but careful modelling can help. It’s hard to predict our future energy needs, but careful modelling can help. KatB Photography

Beyond the crystal ball – why energy modelling is more than a guessing game

Models, forecasts, scenario projections … they’re all viewed with a certain degree of scepticism. And, for the most part, rightly so – we’ll never know the future with complete certainty. But what modelling…
To meet the energy challenge we have to think big. To meet the energy challenge we have to think big. AAP Image/Snowy Hydro Limited

Australia’s low carbon economy: do the heavy lifting here

Today’s carbon navel-gazing by politicians, business leaders and media scribes seems determined to constrain Australia to the stone age of industrial competence, workforce skills and international environmental…
Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. AFP Photo/Sakis Mitrolidis

Solar will force coal and nuclear out of the energy business

A solar energy revolution is brewing that will put the coal and nuclear industries out of business. Solar is already reaching price parity with coal in many parts of Australia. In contrast to coal and…
The movie Gasland galvanised the public on the dangers of fracking. The movie Gasland galvanised the public on the dangers of fracking. Gasland

NSW’s coal seam gas ban - where the frack to next?

Fracking. It’s a hotbed of controversy that spans our increasingly energy-hungry globe. The French have turned their back on it. Permanently. And now the NSW government has temporarily frozen the use of…
OPEC president Mohammad Aliabadi believes speculation in futures is inflating oil prices. He is wrong. OPEC president Mohammad Aliabadi believes speculation in futures is inflating oil prices. He is wrong. AAP

Why it’s wrong to blame speculation for pushing up oil prices

OPEC Conference president Mohammad Aliabadi recently joined a chorus of international observers to blame speculation as the source of ongoing volatility in the global oil market. Speaking at an OPEC Conference…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (15)

Human urine: a wee energy producer?

Carbon from dried human urine has been extracted for use in chemical fuel cells. These cells traditionally use platinum as…

Long-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

Extending the life of lithium-ion batteries tenfold may now be possible thanks to researchers at Northwestern University…

Artificial leaves turn water into fuel

Channeling inspiration from leaves and the process of photosynthesis, two research teams have developed improved techniques…