In the Pipeline: 3/8/11

Wanna bet the Queen won’t have to change her own behaviour? Financial Post (3/5/11) reports: Electricity consumers in the UK will need to get used to flicking the switch and finding the power unavailable, according to Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, the country’s grid operator. Because of a six-fold increase in wind generation, which won’t be available when the wind doesn’t blow, “The grid is going to be a very different system in 2020, 2030,” he told BBC’s Radio 4. “We keep thinking that we want it to be there and provide power when we need it. It’s going to be much smarter than that…“We are going to change our own behaviour and consume it when it is available and available cheaply.”…Holliday has for several years been predicting that blackouts could become a feature of power systems that replace reliable coal plants with wind turbines in order to meet greenhouse gas targets. Wind-based power systems are necessary to meet the government’s targets, he has explained, but they will require lifestyle changes.

The Obama Administration’s national energy policy has been a natural disaster that qualifies for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  Or maybe we can just drill for oil in the Gulf, Alaska, Virginia, California…starting to get the picture? The Hill (3/8/11) reports: A member of the House GOP leadership is attacking the White House over its consideration of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.“As the price of gas continues to rise, the White House is considering a short-term response and ignoring the implications of its failed energy policies,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee…“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created to offer relief should there be a temporary disruption in the supply of crude oil, like a devastating hurricane or a blockade of oil imports.  It was not intended to be a tool to manipulate the market or provide political relief,” he added in a statement…Bill Daley, President Obama’s chief of staff, said Sunday that the president is considering tapping the reserve. But the White House emphasized Monday that rising oil costs will not be the “sole factor” in whether the administration taps the 727-million barrel stockpile.

One crop to rule them all — which GOP candidate will do the right thing and stand up to King Corn? The Hill (3/7/11) reports: Corn is king in Iowa, but ethanol is a close second, and Republicans seeking to unseat President Obama must balance conservative demands to slash subsidies with the popularity of price supports in Iowa… Support for ethanol subsidies has long been seen as a requirement to winning support in Iowa. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, shifted from opposing the subsidies in 2000 to supporting them by 2008, but still ended up losing to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), partly because of his past opposition to farm subsidies… The GOP presidential field faces a huge challenge in handling ethanol subsidies in the Tea Party era ahead of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation 2012 caucuses.

Dominoes: At what point is our government going to realize we don’t need to depend on dictators for our energy supplies? Wall Street Journal (3/8/11) reports: Big oil companies and Wall Street banks have stopped trading crude with Libya in response to sanctions against the country, threatening a near-shutdown of exports from the North African country and driving oil prices even higher… Morgan Stanley, which buys Libyan oil for its clients, has stopped buying because of sanctions announced last month, according to a person familiar with the matter. ConocoPhillips Co. said it isn’t exporting any of the 46,000 barrels a day of oil it normally produces in Libya. Exxon Mobil Corp. also said it is complying with the sanctions against Libya. A person familiar with BP PLC said the company wasn’t currently doing any new trading deals in Libya… These moves are putting further strains on an already-volatile oil market, threatening to send gasoline prices higher around the world. Oil is already trading at its highest level in 2½ years as antigovernment protests sweep further across the Middle East, and worries increase that disruptions could spread from Libya to bigger producers like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Crude futures rose $1.02 per barrel, or 1%, to $105.44 at the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday.

Two thousand words on miracles of geothermal and this was said in passing: ‘The monthly electric will bill go up, of course’.  At least the cat has fur, but we’ll need a snuggie to keep warm. New York Times (3/7/11) reports: Five years ago, my husband and I walked out of what was left of our historic house after a propane explosion. As the house caught fire, the cat jumped out to safety, too. When we rebuilt, we wanted to avoid burning fossil fuels in our new home, and I remembered reading an article about an architect who drilled geothermal wells to heat and cool his Lower Manhattan town house… Many people think geothermal energy means tapping the power of geyserlike hot springs from miles underground to turn turbines and generate electricity. They may also associate it with minor earthquakes like those that halted major geothermal deep-drilling projects in northern California and in Switzerland late in 2009… “Cost savings are specific to the area of the country, and depend on whether you are competing with natural gas or propane or electric resistance,” said Gordon Bloomquist, a retired senior scientist at Washington State University, who has studied, designed and done troubleshooting on hundreds of geothermal projects.

Chu has a moment of zen — energy created at home is wealth creation — but it lasted as long as a Volt battery charge Scientific American (3/7/11) reports: “You might ask, what will the price of oil be? And the answer is, we don’t know.”…That’s Steven Chu musing on oil at the second annual summit of ARPA-e in Washington, D.C. on March 1. Chu, for one, hopes we don’t hit the snooze button again. “Our national security is very dependent on our energy security. So, and I want to stress this, energy we create at home is wealth creation at home.”… Chu is a man who knows a lot, Nobel laureate in physics, our nation’s 12th secretary of energy. But given the world’s increasing thirst for oil—and the demand for energy more generally—guessing black gold’s future price is a speculator’s game

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