The Energy Spectator

The Energy Spectator

Renewed Interest in Nuclear Power

By 7.29.15

Environmental activists privilege “renewable” power sources, such as wind and solar, and proclaim they can promptly reduce the West’s reliance on fossil fuels. But a new report on the economic and environmental contributions of nuclear power to the United States may help shift the debate.

As consumers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and even some U.S. states are fast finding out, renewable power is far more costly than other alternatives. Governments’ decrees to adopt green technologies drive many on fixed incomes into energy poverty, a scary scenario in which the poor or the elderly have to choose between eating and heating their homes during the harsh winter months.

The Energy Spectator

Mexico Begins to Share Its Oil Prize

By 7.21.15

Understanding the connection between energy and economic growth, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto set out to reform his country’s energy policy and invite outside intelligence and investment to boost slumping oil output. In late 2013, he succeeded in getting the constitution amended to allow private and foreign companies to explore and produce oil and gas in Mexico—for the first time in nearly eight decades. The amendments put an end to the government monopoly. Foreign companies can now compete with, or partner with, Pemex—the national oil company. Nieto hopes his reforms will bring in $50 billion in investment by 2018.

The Energy Spectator

The Other Nuclear Country

By 7.15.15

The fuel is now loaded into the reactor, following inspections, the switch will be flipped and, around August 10, the reactor will be fired up. Three days later, transmission of electricity is expected to start, ramping up to full power and commercial operation in September. The same process is expected to take place at a second reactor in September/October.

Despite public protest, Japan is going nuclear—again.

Following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the severe accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor in northeastern Japan, all nuclear reactors were gradually switched off for inspections. No commercial reactor has been online in Japan for nearly two years. Due to safety concerns, the country’s nuclear power generation has been at a standstill. Meanwhile, new regulatory standards have been developed and reactors are undergoing inspections.

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The Link Between Climate and Poverty

By 6.30.15

The climate alarmists are practically giddy over Pope Francis’ recently released “climate encyclical”—remember, these are, generally, the very same people who dis the church and its position on abortion, the origin of life on earth, and the definition of marriage. Even Al Gore, who admits he was “raised in the Southern Baptist tradition,” has declared he “could become a Catholic because of this Pope.”

Not surprisingly, Carl Pope, who served as executive director of the Sierra Club for 36 years, chimed in. He penned a piece published on June 22 in EcoWatch in which he bashes “American conservatism” and positions the papal publication as being responsible for a “new dynamism” that he claims is “palpable.”

The Energy Spectator

Gazprom Has Uber Problems

By 6.2.15

Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant, has traditionally used its position as the second-largest exporter of natural gas to the European Union (EU) (Norway is the largest) as a means of flexing its political muscle, especially under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But it appears Russia’s days as the energy bully may be coming to an end, as years of using energy as a blunt political instrument to advance the Kremlin’s agenda and disruptive new technologies for oil and natural gas extraction threaten Gazprom’s bottom line much like Uber and other innovative ride sharing companies have usurped market share from traditional cab companies.

The new technologies upending the geopolitics of energy production are the combination of horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, along with sophisticated seismic monitors that can detect oil and natural gas deposits thousands of feet below the surface. These technologies, frequently lumped together under with the term “fracking,” are the Uber of the energy production world.

The Energy Spectator

How Will a Nuke Deal Affect the Price of Oil?

By 4.1.15

Many complicated factors contribute to the global price of a barrel of oil, but two of the leading components are supply and risk—and both have the potential to escalate in the days ahead. The current region-wide sectarian war could easily bump oil prices up dramatically. And, the expected nuclear deal with Iran could drop them—dramatically.

Oil price predictions today play like a game of roulette, or a carnival barker of days gone by, round and round it goes, where she stops, nobody knows.

A few weeks ago, addressing the need to open up access to mid-Atlantic oil resources, I wrote:

The Energy Spectator

BULLETIN: U.S. Navy Invents Perpetual Motion Machine

By 4.15.14

You have to wonder how these things get started. Or maybe you don’t. The world is always filled with fantasies and wishful thinking. Newspapers and the Internet just make them circulate a little faster.

On April 7, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division put out a press release announcing it has developed an efficient way of synthesizing a jet fuel using carbon dioxide and hydrogen. There is nothing novel about this. You can synthesize just about any hydrocarbon from CO2 and hydrogen given enough energy and the right catalysts. What was unusual about the Navy’s development is that the process is compact and efficient enough to be done on board a ship. The hydrogen would be extracted through standard electrolysis from seawater. The carbon dioxide would come from the air. As the press release described it: