Author Archives: olivianelson076

BP and Shell Need to Up Their Game to Combat Climate Change


Oil and gas giants BP and Shell are reportedly failing to do their bit towards combatting climate change and this is putting shareholder capital at risk.


The companies have been described as “dragging their feet” by ShareAction, a non-profit that promotes responsible investment. The damning description is backed by claims that neither BP nor Shell has taken appropriate steps to reform its business model in order to comply with the general transition towards a low carbon economy.


This statement directly contradicts another report, which says that a number of businesses across Europe, including Shell, have entrenched the issue of climate change into their company strategies.


Nevertheless, ShareAction is speaking loud and clear on this issue and has encouraged shareholders to take action as well. They are advised not to leave the problem dormant and to engage with boards and management in order to see the issue resolved.


The non-profit further suggests that investors in both BP and Shell should insist on seeing fully fleshed out plans as to how the companies plan to reduce their total lifecycle emissions. The companies should also be prepared to disclose how they plan on incorporating any future climate legislation that is to be passed within the jurisdictions in which they operate.


If the companies fail to correctly implement policies that would encourage the use of renewable energy and wean the public off its dependence on fossil fuels, it will put millions of savers at risk. Indeed, many pension portfolios feature either Shell or BP and so a plunge in share price could be disastrous for those who count on these companies in their savings.


ShareAction’s Senior Campaigns Office, Michael Chaitow, has noted that Shell and BP are operating conflicting policies. On the one hand they are openly backing the Paris Agreement but on the other, they are simultaneously planning for actions that could directly contravene it.


In response to the claims lodged against it, BP has said that it is going to do its best to rise to the challenge of aiding the transition to a lower carbon future whilst still providing reliable energy to a world that is growing in population every day.




E.ON partners set to develop technology for domestic smart systems


Nowadays, technology runs the world and it is important for companies to be able keep up with the demand for progress. E.ON has recognised and embraced this and it shows in their recent investment in the development of new domestic smart systems.


The energy giant has invested heavily in a provider of Internet of Things technology in a bid to advance the idea of household energy systems that run from a decentralised platform.


The Internet of Things is an intriguing concept. It essentially consists of allowing everything with a basic on off switch function to be connected via wireless Internet. This means that you will have a far more automated set of belongings, which will be invaluable to an easier daily routine. When your alarm goes off it could send a signal to your coffee maker to switch on. If your printer was low on ink it could automatically order cartridges online and have them sent to your front door. The possibilities are virtually endless.


E.ON has partnered with Cuculus, a German company that works with smart technology. Between them they plan to create everything that an intelligent house will need by way of equipment. The idea is to have as many different systems connected to each other as possible. This will, in turn, create the ultimate house of the future.


Not only does an automated house mean that your life will become notably easier but it can also make the house in question run as efficiently as possible with regards to energy usage. If charging points are all automated, the house will know exactly how much energy is needed at any given moment to put through them.


Currently Cuculus uses and smart system called ZONOS. Yet, their partnership with E.ON has given them the resources to improve this system. While already secure and flexible, the partners are sure it can be expanded and adjusted for the better.


IEA Tells Governments to Increase Energy Efficiency

Energy-Efficiency.jpgThe International Energy Agency (IEA) has told national governments that they must do more to strengthen their energy efficiency policies. If global governments do not take measures to implement more policies and continue to work towards a green future, energy efficiency will plateau or even decrease.


A new report released by the IEA has shown that energy intensity fell by 1.8% in 2016. Energy intensity is the amount of energy used per unit of GDP. This suggests that the same amount of energy was generating more value than in previous years.


In comparison with 2000, the world could have used 12% more energy had it not been for the multitude of energy efficiency policies put in place by governments. This is a huge achievement for easing some of the pressure off the global energy market. However, it is important that countries don’t start getting complacent.


It is believed that around 68% of global energy use is occurring unrestricted by various codes and standards, designed to ensure energy efficiency. Furthermore, the development of new policies to aid the situation is moving at its slowest rate in years.


Right now, we are on the brink of all kinds of technological breaks through so it is paramount that we do not stop introducing new energy efficiency policies. Experts say that stalling now would seriously damage the progress that has been made so far.


The Executive Director of the IEA, Faith Birhol, noted that the slowing down with regards to the implementation of new policies started in 2016 and has carried on throughout 2017.  This clearly shows that governments are becoming less concerned with energy efficiency policies.


Birhol also emphasised the importance of countries calling out nations who allow energy use to go unregulated by efficiency codes and standards.

Oil Benchmarks

100550500-oil-rigs-smoke-sunset-california-getty.1910x1000Oil is extracted and produced around the world. Oil is also traded around the world. Sellers ad buyers come together at various exchanges and trade the oil for cash. Because of the size of the oil industry and the plethora of producers and buyers, keeping tabs of the prices can be a daunting task.

Most of the world’s oil is sold through exchanges, but oil also isn’t a universal commodity. There are different grades and types of crude oil, and it’s found in many different forms and ways. To better allow for transparency and to give sellers and buyers an idea of the costs, exchanges have set up indexes and will publish benchmark prices based on a number of factors.

One of the key defining factors is location. The location at which the oil is sold and can be delivered defines where, to which benchmark, the price of the trade is registered. For example, Oil produced in the US typically gets characterised as West Texas Intermediate. Here, West Texas Intermediate indicates the grade of the oil, and not the actual location of the exchange. WTI is traded in New York, far from the oil fields that produce this commodity.

Another benchmark is Brent. Made up of the price of oil from 15 fields in the North Sea, Brent Crude is a trading classification for oil and is commonly used to reference oil production in Europe. Other benchmarks include Dubai Crude, Oman Crude, Canadian Crude and the OPEC reference basket.

Microsoft set to purchase all the wind power generated in GE’s Irish site

Last Monday, Microsoft and GE (General Electric) announced that they have just signed off on a power purchase agreement that binds them together for the next 15 years. The energy in question will come from GE’s Irish site in County Kerry.


This deal means that the brand new 37 megawatt (MW) Tullahennel wind farm will exclusively sell its wind power to Microsoft. And, this will be the case for the next 15 years.


Addressing the new deal, the chief commercial officer of GE Renewable Energy, Andres Isaza, said that by creating this new partnership with Microsoft, GE will be able to expand its presence in Ireland. Currently, the company employs around 1,500 individuals in Ireland with sights to increasing this in the near future. He added that there was a notable emphasis on the renewable energy sector among those employees.


Isaza continued his statement by saying that wind is now “one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today.” And, GE plans to capitalise on this. The company has said that each of the wind turbines on the new site will be equipped with a battery that has been integrated into the machine. This battery will be able to generate data that will give technicians details regarding energy storage.


The hope for the batteries is that technicians will be able to use the information to “capture and store” any excess energy. They will then be able to send this energy back to the grid as and when it is needed.


This news has been received in the wake of a statement from Parkwind that it sees no problems with becoming a strategic partner in the Oriel Wind Farm. This wind farm would be located in the northwest section of the Irish sea. Parkwind is a Belgian company that specialises in offshore wind farm development.


The project in question is set to include 55 wind turbines and will be built around 22km from the coast of Dundalk, Ireland. Oriel Wind Farm Ltd expect the output of this project to be enough to provide green energy to approximately 250,000 homes in Ireland.

Ocean Power Generation

OC_GenerationSocieties have long harnessed the power of water for many needs from milling to power generation. The feature that most of these projects have in common, however, is that they are usually found in inland waters including rivers and streams.

Rivers and streams offer something that the ocean cannot; a steady flow. Water in rivers and streams is predictable and as long as there is a water source upstream (rainfall) it is easy to predict the flow of water and manage power generation.

The ocean holds a great amount of power, however harnessing it has not been easy. The ocean has only relatively recently become a source of energy for humans because the technology has been developed to be cost effective to harness this power.

A major source of difficulty in harnessing the power of the sea is the fact that the sea is so unpredictable. The only really predictable movement of water in the ocean comes from the tides, but unfortunately, there are only very few places on earth where the tidal flow is strong enough to effectively harness the power.

Using the ocean’s power generating capabilities also has to take place close to shore. Going too far offshore where the strongest currents are has the disadvantage that bringing the power back to land will be too costly. Closer to shore, there are also other economic considerations such as shipping and fisheries that cannot be impeded by generation.

Striking the perfect balance of cost and functionality has been difficult for those wishing to harness the power of the ocean. However, with more efficient means of production, the coming decades are sure to see major increases in the scale of ocean power generation.

Run-of-the-River versus Hydropower Dams

ice-harbor-dam-credit-David-G-Rigg-usace-Many of us are familiar with the towering earth and concrete structures holding back large reservoirs of water, and this is the association that we have with hydroelectric power. Large dams with heavy water flows driving the turbines. Harnessing electricity from the flow of water, though, may not require this infrastructure.

When a dam is built it can serve many purposes, but a feature of the dam is that it holds back a large amount of water. This usually creates a reservoir and will flood large portions of land which may or may not be inhabited. The abandoned towns and villages may lie largely intact underwater and have become part of the marine environment.

Of course, with a structure holding back so much water, you have to be careful and certain to make sure that it can withstand the forces. A failure can mean the catastrophic release of water from the reservoir and give the population living downstream from the dam very little warning about the impending flood.

Though there are risks as described above, dams continue to be built and there is very little to worry about when it comes to their safety. However, because of these drawbacks, when looking at a way to use the flow of water to generate electricity, a run-of-the-river plant design may be more acceptable and feasible.

Using minimal invasive infrastructure, a run-of-the-river plant literally uses the existing flow of the river to drive the turbines. A drawback here is that the plant is dependent on how fast the river is flowing, which can vary by season. A dam with reservoir can more precisely control the flow of water through the dam, therefore it may have a higher capacity factor.

Another major consideration in determining how to harness the river’s power is whether or not the river needs to remain navigable. A dam is literally a wall built to block the river, so when a river is vital for transportation of goods and persons, a large dam may not be feasible.

As technology develops so to do we adapt to our own capabilities, but also draw inspiration for new designs because of our limitations. Run-of-the-river plants are an excellent example of engineering ingenuity.