Recharge is a weekly e-mail digest of energy news and analysis written by Monitor reporters David J. Unger and Jared Gilmour.
Antitrust: The EU leveled formal antitrust charges against Gazprom last week, reflecting the sense that Moscow needs European customers more than Brussels needs Russian energy. After years of strengthening its own pipeline interconnections, expanding alternative sources, and using all those sources more efficiently, Europe is better poised to enforce policies that counter Russian gas dominance. The term “energy security” is often thrown around, but this is a real world example of what it means and why it matters.
Restart: A path to a nuclear renaissance in Japan is paved with legal ups and downs. Last Wednesday, a Japanese court cleared the way for restarting the Sendai nuclear power station, just a week after a separate court delayed the startup of reactors in Fukui prefecture. Meanwhile, grid operators scramble to fill the gap left by the country’s mothballed reactors, which once accounted for more than a quarter of it’s power. Japan’s LNG imports bill continues to mount, hitting a record high for the fiscal year ending March 31.
Everglades: The Obama administration has long tried to shift energy and climate issues from the future to the present and from the political extremes to stabler middle ground. And in southern Florida’s tropical wetlands, climate change is a kind of here-and-now problem, blind to local politics. It explains why the White House picked the Everglades for President Obama’s Earth Day speech, which emphasized contemporary challenges in a conservative state – replete with nods to Teddy Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush.
In the pipeline
- Tuesday, April 28: WASHINGTON – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with President Obama to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, security, and climate change. A bill is working its way through Congress that would give Mr. Obama authority to negotiate a deal with Pacific nations seeking to liberalize energy trade with the US.
- Tuesday, April 28: WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Moniz testifies before the Senate Energy Committee on his department’s Quadrennial Energy Review, which diagnoses problems with decaying US energy infrastructure and suggests some fixes – many of which would require appropriations from a GOP Congress.
- Thursday, April 30: HAWTHORNE, CALIF. – Tesla Motors is expected to introduce home and utility-scale batteries in CEO Elon Musk’s latest venture beyond electric cars. Big names like Wal-Mart and Cargill are reportedly already slated to use Tesla’s batteries.
Why one town in oil-rich Texas is ditching fossil fuels
[The Christian Science Monitor]
By 2017, Georgetown, Texas will get all its electricity from renewables – and the decision is an economic rather than environmental one. “Make no mistake, this was a business case,” Mayor Dale Ross tells the Monitor. Though nearly “everybody has an oil derrick in their backyard” in Texas, Ross says, sun and wind power are abundant and cheap, and don’t experience the same price volatility as fossil fuels.
Why Moore’s Law Doesn’t Apply to Clean Technologies
[Council on Foreign Relations]
“Moore’s Law is a consequence of fundamental physics. Clean technology cost declines are not,” writes Varun Sivaram. “Moore’s Law is a prediction about innovation as a function of time. Clean technology cost declines are a function of experience, or production.”
Is China-Pakistan 'silk road' a game-changer? [BBC]
China and Pakistan are bolstering ties with mutually beneficial infrastructure and energy deals. Pakistan will reap billions in investment; China will gain easier access to Middle East oil and gas. It’s part of China’s “Go West” strategy to expand influence in Eurasia and the Middle East. Though the US and India fret that China’s new development bank and its aggression in the South China Sea could stoke unrest, new money in Pakistan is more likely to stabilize a region sorely needing investment.
- US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz via Fuel Fix: "In a situation where we still import 7 million barrels of crude oil per day, I don’t think an overly compelling argument has been made on the basis of pragmatic economics"
- Earth Statement: "2015 is a critical year for humanity. Our civilization has never faced such existential risks as those associated with global warming, biodiversity erosion and resource depletion. Our societies have never had such an opportunity to advance prosperity and eradicate poverty."
- Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, via Fuel Fix: "Here we are thinking about lifting the sanctions on Iran and letting them export, and yet here we have sanctions in America that we can’t export our oil. What’s going on?"
“Research has identified 17 areas in the central and eastern United States with increased rates of induced seismicity. Since 2000, several of these areas have experienced high levels of seismicity, with substantial increases since 2009 that continue today.”