Weekly Energy News Update-October 29th

I will begin this week with promoting an excellent piece written about wind energy in Andalusia. Anthropologist David Hughes asks tough questions of his informants in rural Spain regarding the way they make money off of wind turbines installed on their ranch land. Ultimately, it boils down to whether the wind should be regarded as a public or private good. This is a timely insight, drawn out through Hughes discussion with his informants, and a proper ethnographical treatment of energy issues. And he didn’t even have to use the word “Anthropocene” once! 🙂 The piece deserves to be widely read.

Who Owns the Wind? (Boston Review)

I have to admit, while reading this piece I had completely forgotten about David’s recently published book on oil production in Trinidad and Tobago, but I think it is also well worth promoting here at EAN:

Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity

Although I focused on Puerto Rico last week, again this week brought it back into the energy news spotlight. Last week I posted a local news story about a very small (two employees!) company from Montana awarded a contract to help restore power in Puerto Rico. Those of us interested in issues of energy justice must have been furious (as I was) with the disgraceful comments from Whitefish Energy in response to Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s questioning of the way the company obtained a $300M contract to help repair powerlines on the island. The title of this piece by Esquire is spot on:

How Does This Tweet Make You Feel? (Esquire)

It makes me feel wretched. Especially because I am from Montana. It is unforgivable. The company should be thoroughly investigated for corruption and the Mayor has ever right to say so without being threatened. Actually Mayor Cruz is a powerhouse on Twitter, I highly recommend following her posts. There are a number of good articles that emerged this week about what is happening in Puerto Rico so I list them here before getting into the rest of this week’s news. Enjoy:

Disaster Capitalists Take Big Step Toward Privatizing Puerto Rico’s Electric Grid (Intercept)

Emergency Manager to Be Installed at Puerto Rico Power Utility (Wall Street Journal)

Would Repealing the Jones Act Help Puerto Rico? (NYTimes)

Tesla Turns Power Back On At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico (NPR)

Google parent company sends up solar-powered balloons to bring internet service to Puerto Rico (LATimes)

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren Working on a “Comprehensive Plan” for Puerto Rico (Intercept)

PREPA, Gov. Rosselló reject appointment of ‘chief transformation officer’ for grid rebuild (UtilityDive)


Events

The energy transition needs anthropologists (Antropologia 2.0)

This weekend Energy was in the air at the 5th symposium for Why the World Needs Anthropologists. Here is a great interview with Benj Sykes, a keynote speaker for the event, discussing why anthropologists are so important for the energy sector!


Finance

Richard Branson’s green energy plan for Caribbean may include debt relief (Reuters)

Mexico and Indonesia could be next up for Eni’s asset sales (Reuters)

Nigeria recovers $85 mln deposited in Britain in oil licence deal funds (Reuters)

Russia’s Transneft taking stake in Ust-Luga oil terminal (Reuters)

Equis Energy agrees to be sold to global investors for $5 bln (Reuters)


Grid

Off-Grid Electricity Projects Are Starved for Funds (IEEE)

99% of funding goes to grid projects. It is time we start looking into the ideological reasons for this, because the technological reasons don’t merit this kind of neglect.

German household power prices at record high (Reuters)

Energy prices are high because consumers are paying for useless, profit-boosting infrastructure (Conversation)

It’s Big and Long-Lived, and It Won’t Catch Fire: The Vanadium Redox-⁠Flow Battery (IEEE)

Might take this article with a grain of salt (the author is the CEO of company producing VRFBs) but the potential boost for grid storage with new advancements in battery technology should not be ignored.

PG&E helped stall effort to map risky power lines prone to wildfires (Mercury News)

GE enters deal to make NYPA ‘first fully digital utility’ (UtilityDive)

‘Darknet’ and quantum communications could enhance grid cybersecurity, scientists tell Senate (UtilityDive)

China to increase cross-province power transmission in southwest (Reuters)


Labor

Solar and wind energy jobs to boom over next decade (AP)

This is primarily a report focused on the U.S. labor market.

Siemens to update labor on power and gas woes on Thursday (Reuters)

France’s CGT union calls for 24-hour strike in oil sector on Nov 23 (Reuters)


Pipelines

The Battle of Treaty Camp (Intercept)

U.S. lawmakers ask DOJ if terrorism law covers pipeline activists (Reuters)

For perspective, when a white male slaughters 58 people with guns (plural!) it is called “a mass shooting incident”, but when protestors damage a pipeline it should be called “terrorism”. And this comes from Democrats and Republicans.

Norway wealth fund watchdog reviewing investment in U.S. pipeline firm (Reuters)

Embarrassing that Norway or another other sovereign fund has yet to pull out their support for Energy Transfer Partners.

Kenya signs agreement for oil pipeline study, Tullow says top conservationist on board (Reuters)


Politics

Fear of Iranian general left Iraqi Kurdish oil fields deserted (Reuters)

Iraq paramilitaries battle Kurds in push towards Turkish border oil hub (Reuters)

Iraq orders truce with Kurds to allow peaceful deployment at border crossings (Reuters)

In case you hear otherwise, note that the KRG did delay elections of the presidency and parliament and offer to freeze the results of their independence referendum this week.

Clean energy can advance Indigenous reconciliation (Conversation)

Mexico Border Wall Won’t Stop Cross-border Power Push (IEEE)

Energy, not tech or finance, in CEO line-up for Trump’s China visit (Reuters)

Hot air? U.S. gas exporters rush to sell LNG to China (Reuters)

Could be some major changes in U.S.-China energy policy after this meeting…or it could amount to nothing more than another circus act. We’ll see.

Trump administration taps coal consultant for mining oversight role (Reuters)

EPA to review how clean air, water laws affect energy sector jobs (Reuters)

U.S. offers record lease sale in Alaska reserve to oil, gas drillers (Reuters)

U.S. marine sanctuary oil drilling report sent to Trump, not public (Reuters)

All four of these articles feel like they could have been printed in 1984.


Transportation

Price-Fixing Inquiry Moves From BMW to Daimler and Volkswagen (NYTimes)

Hydrogen fuel-cell car push ‘dumb’? Toyota makes a case for the Mirai (Reuters)

Interesting point at the end of the article that energy generated by an oversupply of solar and wind could be stored as hydrogen for transportation uses, something along the lines of this study.

Japanese Nissan tests waters in India for its e-Power technology (PTI)

Electric cars emit 50% less greenhouse gas than diesel, study finds (Guardian)

U.S. wants to remove ‘unnecessary’ barriers to self-driving vehicles (Reuters)


Biofuels

U.S. sets antidumping duties on Argentine, Indonesian biodiesel (Reuters)

Work to start on 150 projects on Ganga by March (PTI)


Coal

In bizarre twist, coal may become a scarce commodity (Reuters)

It may be that the climate change discourse is forcing the price  of coal to finally reflect the environmental externalities associated with the polluting energy source.

US Coal-export terminal backer sues state over permit denial (AP)

Coal shortage hits Karnataka hard (Bangalore Mirror)

Coal ministry augments fuel supply to states with critical stocks (India Times)

Southeast Asia, India turn to coal for power, imports expected to jump (Reuters)

India bans use of dirtier coal alternative in New Delhi area (Reuters)

Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says (Guardian)


Gas

Indonesia to become LNG importer in 2020 as population grows (Reuters)

Algeria pushes back start of southern Touat gas field (Reuters)

Argentina approves emergency natural gas exports to neighboring Chile (Reuters)


Hydropower

Uttarakhand frames new rules for upcoming hydro power projects (India Times)

Hydro important part of private infrastructure development in Pakistan (HydroWorld)


Nuclear

Westinghouse in talks with India for six nuclear power reactors (India Times)

France’s EDF trims forecasts with new delay in restart of nuclear reactors (Reuters)

Kudankulam nuclear power plant’s second unit to be operational soon (PTI)

ONGC proposes to partner in building nuclear power reactors (IANS)

South Korea to resume building two new nuclear reactors, but scraps plans for 6 others (Reuters)


Marine

FORESEA selects six recipients for third wave of ocean energy R&D assistance (HydroWorld)


Petroleum

Big Oil’s $1 billion climate fund picks investments, eyes new members (Reuters)

Brazil Draws Broad Interest in Offshore Oil Drilling Rights (NYTimes)

But…

Brazil judge suspends pre-salt oil auctions set for Friday (Reuters)

…this happened the day before.

‘Transformation Is Happening’: Saudi Aramco’s Chief on Future of Oil (NYTimes)

Sinochem to re-evaluate oil exploration business, expand fine chemicals (Reuters)

Nigeria’s NNPC says oil access is ‘not limitless’ for fuel swaps (Reuters)

Construction starts on Serbian oil firm’s new deep conversion complex (Reuters)

U.S. Midwest oil refiners boost output, cut region’s dependence on Gulf Coast (Reuters)

Fire at Tehran oil refinery kills six people, injures three (Reuters)

Ecuador seeks renegotiation of China oil sales, loans (Reuters)


Solar

Solar installers press homeowners to buy ahead of tariff (Reuters)

Small and medium sized solar manufacturers float industry body (India Times)

Indian Railways launches its first set of solar power plants in Delhi (PTI)

Solar costs to fall further, powering global demand (Reuters)


Wind

U.S. wind concerns ease as Trump cabinet calls on Denmark to help boost offshore output (Reuters)

Benj Sykes, the keynote speaker at Why the World Needs Anthropologists symposium this weekend, is the Head of Programme Asset Management of Offshore Wind Power for the DONG Energy discussed in this article. Perhaps he talked more about this news at the symposium?

Weekly Energy News Update-October 22nd

This week I’ll start with two topics that have dominated Energy News over the past month. The first is certainly Puerto Rico and I think the above tweet from last night really says it all. Still 83% of households in Puerto Rico are without electricity even a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

‘Survival Mode’ Defines Puerto Rico One Month After Maria (Bloomberg)

What Puerto Rico is doing to get the power back after Hurricane Maria (AP)

Sunrun, nonprofits partner to deliver renewables projects to Puerto Rico (UtilityDive)

Company from Whitefish, Montana, helping put Puerto Rican power grid back on line (Spokesman-Review)

While Trump has been giving himself a 10/10 for disaster recovery governance in Puerto Rico, the other five living presidents worked together at a fundraiser to help with disaster recovery after an extremely destructive Hurricane season.

All five living former US presidents make rare appearance together (Guardian)

Meanwhile in the Middle East the battle over the oilfields near Kirkuk between Kurdish and Iraqi forces has essentially come to a conclusion. Peshmerga forces have now moved their defenses north of Kirkuk resulting in the loss of control over the strategic oilfields.

Kurds defeated, displaced and divided after Iraq reclaims oil-rich Kirkuk (Guardian)

In Kirkuk, Kurds’ joy turns to fear after Iraqi army takeover (Reuters)

Russia’s Rosneft to take control of Iraqi Kurdish pipeline amid crisis (Reuters)

US military rushes to defuse looming crisis in Kirkuk after Iraqi army advances (Guardian)

The politics here are extremely complex particularly when one considers that there is also a very different Kurdish independence movement in Syria, where oil fields were occupied by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

U.S.-backed militias seize key oil field in east Syria (Reuters)

David Graeber this week wrote an excellent op-ed that explored the Kurdish independence movement in Syria.

Democracy Is Possible in Syria. My Friend Knew How. (NY Times)

Overall, again, not a very cheery week for energy news…


New Publication

Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System (National Academy Press)


Efficiency

Chandigarh beats Punjab in distribution of energy saving LED lights (India Times)

Are energy efficiency programmes all they seem? (The Conversation)

Highly recommend their recently published piece on Energy Justice in Energy Research and Social Science


Finance

Engie targets Africa with home solar acquisition (Reuters)

Retailer Casino turns up the heat in French residential power market (Reuters)

U.S. shale oil industry to see wave of investment (Reuters)

BP eyes smaller renewable investments to avoid repeating losses (Reuters)

Overseas assets held by China’s centrally owned firms top $900 billion (Reuters)

China’s CEFC eyes big league with Rosneft oil offtake deal (Reuters)

German power grid companies set lower renewable energy surcharge for 2018 (Reuters)


Grid

A Small Firm in Germany Has Big Ambitions in Green Energy (NY Times)

Power lines and electrical equipment are a leading cause of California wildfires (LA Times)

Smart Power Electronic Converters May Help Stabilize the Grid (IEEE)

Winter reliability strong, RTOs tell FERC, undermining DOE NOPR justification (UtilityDive)

Fuel security and power generation in the United States (Reuters)

I don’t necessarily agree with Kemp’s argument, but it is well researched and he even provides a revealing bibliography of the materials he’s been using to build up these ideas.

Transport and power disruption continues as Storm Ophelia moves on (Guardian)

While the US is still coping with devastating hurricanes, the electric grid in Ireland and the UK have recently been dealing with the impact of Storm Ophelia and this weekend Storm Brian.

Vestas to build first large-scale battery storage project for wind, solar (Reuters)

Rockefeller Foundation seeks PPPs for mini power grid projects (PTI)


Labor

Siemens may cut jobs in power turbine business overhaul (Reuters)


Pipelines

Storm in western Canada temporarily disrupts crude pipelines (Reuters)

Politics

Activists set talks with Chevron on Myanmar rights concerns (Reuters)

U.S. warns public about attacks on energy, industrial firms (Reuters)

Australia shuns clean energy target in policy overhaul (Reuters)

Australia’s new energy policy asks renewables to outcompete coal (Reuters)

The government’s energy policy hinges on some tricky wordplay about coal’s role (The Conversation)

Some diverse views regarding Australia’s announcement of their new energy policy this week.

No EU unity for Russia Nord Stream 2 talks (Reuters)

Saudi oil minister makes high profile Iraq visit, calls for economic cooperation (Reuters)

South African reshuffle irks ANC allies, Zuma confidant to oversee nuclear deal (Reuters)

U.S. will not interfere in EU trade with Iran (Reuters)

Democrats fail to block Arctic reserve oil drilling (Reuters)

U.S. EPA to shrink response time for permit requests (Reuters)

Dutch will miss 2020 green energy, climate targets (Reuters)


Technology

DOE offers $26M for carbon capture technology research (UtilityDive)

New Sulfur Flow Battery for Affordable Long-Term Grid Storage (IEEE)

New potential energy storage technology that could cost between $20-30/kWh!


Transportation

Why China Can’t Handle an All-or-Nothing Tack on Gasoline (Sixth Tone)

Three interesting things of note in this article: That China’s electric grid is still dependent on fossil fuels (true), that a ban on fossil fuel cars would leave the country more vulnerable to natural disasters or military attacks (very unclear), that electric vehicle technology is very young when compared with “conventional motors” (definitely not true).

Charging options in focus as Florida prepares for rise of electric vehicles (UtilityDive)

Nissan Suspends Production in Japan Because of Flawed Inspections (NY Times)


Biofuels

EPA abandons changes to U.S. biofuel program after lawmaker pressure (Reuters)

China’s SDIC to produce 4 million-5 million T/yr ethanol in five years (Reuters)


Coal

Shenhua will keep supplies to long-term clients after Guodian deal (Reuters)

Coal companies supplying high ash coal to Mahagenco; No protest by power utility (India Times)

Monitoring coal shortage crisis, marginal impact of spike in spot power price (India Times)

Rio opens books to over half-dozen possible suitors for Australia coal mines (Reuters)


Gas

Montenegro in “sweet spot” of untapped Adriatic oil and gas potential (Reuters)

Boom in American Liquefied Natural Gas Is Shaking Up the Energy World (NY Times)

Indonesia to extend Inpex’s Masela LNG contract by 27 years from 2028 (Reuters)

China’s bold gas plan may threaten winter power supplies (Reuters)

LNG producers take time to relax destination clauses despite Japan ruling (Reuters)


Nuclear

South Korea Will Resume Reactor Work, Defying Nuclear Opponents (NYTimes)

South Korea’s president says will continue phasing out nuclear power (Reuters)

Very confusing signals from South Korea this week…


Petroleum

How an oil and gas giant outmaneuvered low oil prices (McKinsey)

African Petroleum seeks arbitration over Gambia oil dispute (Reuters)

Venezuela’s PDVSA blocked from using NuStar terminal over unpaid bills (Reuters)

One dead, another missing after oil barge fire off Texas (Reuters)

Search suspended for worker missing after Louisiana oil platform explosion (Reuters)

Mexico expects to hold a third oil and gas auction in 2018 (Reuters)

Ecuador’s Petroamazonas to issue $350 mln bonds to help pay Schlumberger debt (Reuters)

This comes just as Schlumberger is facing criticism in financial circles

Angola is not the next Venezuela, state oil firm says as it cuts debt (Reuters)

Financial, security woes put Libyan oil recovery on shaky ground (Reuters)

Venezuela’s deteriorating oil quality riles major refiners (Reuters)

Italy breaks up Libyan fuel smuggling ring involving mafia (Reuters)


Solar

Not all trackers are created equal (UtilityDive)

Mahindra Susten to build India’s 1st battery-backed solar project in Andaman (India Times)

Shenzhen Firm Takes Shine to Three U.S. Solar Farms (Caixin)

Solar installers press homeowners to buy ahead of tariff (Reuters)

Kerala opposition demands special assembly session to table solar report (IANS)

Solar power scam: Congress says will fight legally and politically (India Times)

Reports of solar scams have become more prevalent in Indian media over the past two weeks.  The details still seem somewhat fuzzy.

U.S. firm to build solar plants in blackout-plagued Gaza (Reuters)


Wind

New Texas wind farm is Amazon’s largest (UtilityDive)

How Vestas built a Rs 500 crore blade factory near Ahmedabad in record 15 months (India Times)

Rule changes to spur French wind power projects within months (Reuters)

AAG 2018 Call for Papers: Renewing accumulation: Strategies and geographies of energy transition

AAG Annual Meeting: NEW ORLEANS 2018, April 10-14, 2018

Session organizers: Ingrid Behrsin (UC Davis), Conor Harrison (University of South Carolina), Sarah Kelly-Richards (University of Arizona), Sarah Knuth (Durham University), James McCarthy (Clark University)

 

Recent work in economic geography and political ecology has analyzed energy transitions as fundamentally geographical processes, ones with the power to transform the capitalist space economy in myriad ways (Bridge et al. 2013). Critical energy geographers have begun to explore how the rapid uptake of solar, wind, hydropower, and other renewable and ‘clean’ energy technologies in recent years is introducing new competition for land and resources and raising a host of environmental and social concerns across a variety of spaces, from rural lands and Indigenous territories to dense urban areas (Bridge et al., 2013; Calvert, 2015; Kelly-Richards et al., 2017; McCarthy, 2015; Huber and McCarthy, 2017). Energy geographers are likewise investigating energy efficiency as another accumulation frontier within today’s energy transition, as established conservation programs intersect with new schemes for making energy efficiency a valuable ‘resource’ within urban real estate markets (Knuth 2016), regional energy portfolios (Thoyre 2015), and smart metering initiatives (Levenda et al. 2015). Energy geographers studying the new accumulation sites and strategies above are increasingly attempting to situate them within broader trajectories of capitalist environmental-economic crisis and resolution, as energy transitions take center stage within the green economy’s imaginary of technological ‘disruption’ and renewal (Knuth 2017) and its promise of socioecological fixes to crisis tendencies (McCarthy 2015).

Electric utilities are key actors in these dynamics, sometimes embracing and sometimes resisting transitions to renewable energy sources. The industry is undergoing a period of tremendous technological change and turmoil across many national and regional contexts. In the face of the falling price of renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives, and a variety of ‘smart’ technologies, tech firms, energy entrepreneurs and investors, and some policy makers view the industry as ripe for disruption and are deploying new accumulation strategies. With new accumulation strategies come new actors, dynamics, and uncertainties in renewable energy development, as market-based de- and reregulation continues to transform established electric utility regimes and large-scale electric grids. At the same time, these would-be ‘disruptors’ confront obdurate socio-technical systems and entrenched political interests. Many incumbent utilities are attempting to use their amassed political economic strength to withstand changes to accumulation strategies that have changed little since the early 20th century, and are thus investing heavily in centralized natural gas and nuclear generation while undermining distributed energy initiatives at every turn. Meanwhile, the expansion of electric grids is becoming a point of conflict in energy transitions in many developing contexts, as managers struggle to grow centralized transmission and distribution grids capable of handling variable renewable energy generation sources, while new competitors market distributed infrastructural and accumulation alternatives.

In the two paper sessions and associated panel session described below, we seek to explore the ways in which these transformations are unfolding, and being contested, across diverse-but-interconnected geographical and sectoral contexts, ones that present multiple sites for critical analysis and intervention. Our intent is to assemble one paper session focused on the political ecology of renewable energy projects and transitions broadly understood; a second paper session focused on the electric utility industry in the context of those transitions; and a panel session that will integrate the themes of both. We invite papers that build on recent work in economic geography/geographical political economy and political ecology in order to examine the strategies present in the renewable energy and electricity industries to ‘renew’ accumulation, and correspondingly, how these strategies articulate and conflict with existing land uses , territorial logics, and utility industry structures. Potential topics of interest may include:

  • The politics of renewable and ‘clean’ energy planning and deployments:  e.g., what are the techniques and justifications used to plan and legitimate such projects?
  • Displacements and dispossessions associated with planned or enacted renewable energy projects.
  • Flows of investments into the renewable energy sector and specific territories and/or projects.
  • The increasing role of tech firms in the electricity industry.
  • Competing tech paradigms, accumulation strategies, and visions for long-term accumulation.
  • Regulation, deregulation, re-regulation, and the changing structure of utility industries regionally, nationally, and transnationally.
  • Increases in renewable energy generation and land use implications.
  • Utility strategies to resist distributed energy projects in the Global North and South.
  • Material and technological politics (e.g., interactions between renewable energy growth and grid innovations, new proposals for energy efficiency and storage).
  • Conflicts and environmental governance implications of the transition to renewable energy.
  • Contradictions in the private-sector-led development of renewable energy.

 

Please email abstracts of 250 words or less to Sarah Kelly-Richards (shkelly@email.arizona.edu) or Conor Harrison (cmharris@mailbox.sc.edu) by Wednesday, October 25.

Weekly Energy News Update-October 15th

I need to begin this week with a more serious topic that is unfortunately not so directly related to anthropology: Aramco’s IPO. Over the past two days the Financial Times, Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal have been reporting that Saudi Arabia is considering forgoing the potential $2 trillion valuation of Aramco in favor of privately selling a stake of the company.

Saudis Weigh Delaying International Part of Aramco IPO (Bloomberg)

This morning of course they denied these reports.

Energy giant Saudi Aramco denies reports shelving international listing (AFP)

The the IPO is part of a massive plan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy. Those interested should read through the relevant McKinsey Report since they are primarily responsible for putting this plan into action. The implications for global political economy are quite complex and it is not even clear yet from which stock exchange the offering would be made. This week also saw the Financial Conduct Authority going on the defensive when they changed certain rules to make London more attractive to Aramco.

FCA Defends Changing Listing Rules to Cater for Aramco IPO (Bloomberg)

And there is no small speculation that a direct private sale of the company would be to, at risk of me sounding like a broken record, no other than China.

Saudi Aramco in stake sale talks with Chinese investor (Reuters)

The implications of shelving the Aramco IPO (Financial Times)

Last week King Salman also met with Putin in Russia, the first time a Saudi monarch had ever entered the Kremlin. While no firm energy deals were made in Russia, as of today military cooperation between the two countries is just a signature away.

Saudi king, Putin agree deals on historic Russia trip (Aljazeera)

The global energy supply is a vast, complex system and we should be cautious about saying that changes within that system are determined by the events that occur in a single, relatively small location on globe. Yet at the same time the ripples of certain events that have emanated from Saudi Arabia over the past 70+ years can hardly be understated. While browsing through the library this week I happened across Bruce Jones and David Steven’s The Risk Pivot; a pretty standard piece of policy wonk fare that you would expect from the Brookings Institute. However, Chapter 1 begins by explaining how in 1945 Roosevelt planned a secret meeting with King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud aboard an American heavy cruiser in Suez Canal; it was the first time the King had ever left his country. Firm energy deals were also not made during this visit, but the authors paint a pretty convincing picture that the ripples, if you will, from this meeting channeled a massive transition within the global energy supply. It seems to me that at this moment the initial event rippling outward is not the recent meeting with Putin or  the potential partial sale of Aramco to China or the IPO, but rather some well orchestrated meeting between McKinsey consultants and Saudi officials a few years ago. Today global political economy seems to be “pivoting” around what happens in a boardroom just as much or perhaps even more than what happens in the bowels of a heavy cruiser. At least what happens in the latter location never pretends to be anything other than a secret meeting. Food for thought.


Efficiency

100 villages to get LED streetlights; to help reduce power bill by half (India Times)


Financial

Blockchain, gas & smart power: RCMA Group plans energy expansion (Reuters)

BNP Paribas stops funding shale energy firms, boosts green projects (Reuters)

Finnish government backs Fortum’s Uniper bid despite Nord Stream II link (Reuters)


Grid

Stress-Testing a Hypothetical Global Grid (IEEE)

China to boost energy storage capacity to fuel renewable power use (Reuters)

Launch of Japan’s First Microgrid System with a Total of 117 Homes (EnergyTrends)

NYPA wants U.S. government to modernize Puerto Rico power grid (Reuters)

Still only 15% of households reconnected. It is shameful that there is any debate that Puerto Rico needs help from the federal government.

Why Solar Microgrids May Fall Short in Replacing the Caribbean’s Devastated Power Systems (IEEE)

Some important pros and cons of solar micro grids discussed in this article

Labor

Tesla fires hundreds after company-wide performance reviews (Mercury News)


Pipeline

Oklahoma pipeline breach spilled 15,800 gallons of oil (Reuters)

U.S. oil pipeline rivals look to consolidate West Texas projects (Reuters)

U.S. judge allows Dakota pipeline to run as Army conducts study (Reuters)


Politics

Fossil fuels win billions in public money after Paris climate deal, angry campaigners claim (Guardian)

Brazil court freezes ex-leader Rousseff’s assets over 2006 refinery deal (Reuters)

Kurds vying for control over oil with Syrian army (Reuters)

Iraq refuses talks with Kurds unless they commit to unity (Reuters)

Kurds block Iraqi forces access to Kirkuk’s oil fields, airbase (Reuters)

The situation around Kirkuk sounds extremely volatile, see this from just three days ago and this from the day before that.

Ofgem extends energy price cap to 1m more vulnerable customers (Guardian)

German renewable support fee seen easing around 1.2 percent in 2018 (Reuters)

U.S. sanctions to complicate, not disrupt, Iran oil trade (Reuters)

Trump Names Former Texas Regulator as White House Environmental Adviser (NYTimes)

U.S. formally proposes scrapping Obama’s carbon-cutting plan (Reuters)


Transportation

10,000 Electric Cars Highlight Steep Path to India’s (Bloomberg)

Shell buys NewMotion charging network in first electric vehicle deal (Reuters)

Governors of 7 Western states sign agreement for EV corridor (Public Power)


Biofuel

Philadelphia-area refiners urge Trump to reform biofuels program (Reuters)


Coal

In people versus Adani’s coal mine, people may win (Reuters)

Australia Debates: Does a Warming Planet Really Need More Coal? (NYTimes)

The Adani mine is getting some much needed attention this week.

China’s Shanxi plans nine more coal mine closures this year (Reuters)

Mongolia coal exports cool as China border issue creates a bottleneck (Reuters)

TN urges Centre to supply more coal to prevent power outages (IANS)

India’s top coal official blames power plants for low coal stocks (PTI)

Coal plant closures continue even as U.S. ends ‘Clean Power Plan’ (Reuters)

No new coal power stations in Java, Indonesia energy minister says (Reuters)

Bloomberg’s charity donates $64 million to ‘war on coal’ (Reuters)


Gas

Ghana fuel site blast kills at least 7, injures dozens (Reuters)

US giant GE offers to set up gas-based power plant in Punjab (PTI)

Ukraine PM sees no reason for IMF-backed gas price adjustment (Reuters)

Shale gas in South Africa: game-changer or damp squib (The Conversation)

China buys rare Norway LNG cargo as spot deals rise ahead of winter (Reuters)

Dutch government expects further reduction in Groningen gas production (Reuters)


Hydropower

Trump official says government won’t stand in the way of removing Klamath dams (Sacramento Bee)

Nuclear

Fukushima evacuee to tell UN that Japan violated human rights (Guardian)

Areva’s Finland reactor to start in 2019 after another delay (Reuters)

Activists break into French nuclear site to highlight risks (Reuters)


Petroleum

Oil Firms Learn to Move an Ancient Product With New-Age Tech (NYTimes)

Brazil to ramp up oil production before ‘renewable era’ hits (Reuters)

Right, because that logic makes sense?

A Geologist Bets on a North Sea Gusher That May Never Come (NYTimes)

Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge: How the G.O.P. Could Finally Break the Impasse (NYTimes)

The Challenges for the Energy Industry (NYTimes)

Some very brief (fairly superficial) statements from CEOs and lobbyists of the petroleum industry


Ocean Energy

Tidal energy site in Orkney in hydrogen ‘first’ (BBC)

Many thanks to Laura Watts for bringing this news article to my attention. Unfortunately, the ocean energy sector does not get enough attention in the media, but I will try my best to rectify that here.

US$750 million marine energy project moves forward in Indonesia (Hydroworld)


Solar

IGS Solar Completes Largest Solar Array in the State of Maine for Madison Electric Works (EnergyTrends)

SunPower Completes 8.79-Megawatt Solar Project at Toyota Motor North America (EnergyTrends)

Mandalay to build 3,000 Arizona homes with solar and Sonnen batteries (Reuters)

Netherlands wins its seventh world solar car challenge in Australia (Reuters)


Wind

Floating Wind Turbines on the High Seas Could Produce Massive Amounts of Power (IEEE)

Sudden surge of wind energy news this week!

Mongolia to boost wind capacity amid regional super grid hopes (Reuters)

Clean Energy Asia, SB Energy of the SoftBank Group and Newcom Announce Commercial Operation Launch of Tsetsii Wind Farm in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia (EnergyTrend)

PacifiCorp facing regulatory blowback on wind power plans (Oregonian)

Innogy becomes sole owner of British Triton Knoll wind project (Reuters)

Call for sessions: STS Conference Graz, May 7-8, 2018

The STS Conference Graz 2018 is the joint Annual Conference of the Institute of Science, Technology and Society Studies at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt|Wien|Graz (STS), the Inter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ) and the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS).

In our Call for Sessions we suggest the following thematic fields (Gender-Technology-Environment, Digitalization of Society, Life Sciences/Biotechnology, Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement & Ecodesign, Towards Low-Carbon Energy and Mobility Systems, Sustainable Food Systems) and we would like to encourage participants to think outside the box by combining thematic fields and considering intersections: http://www.sts-conference-graz.aau.at.

Sessions do not need to be limited to academic paper presentations. We encourage you to suggest interactive and innovative session formats too, such as discussion groups, slow talks, etc.

Please let us know in case you plan an alternative setting by briefly describing it.

For submitting your session abstract, please use this online form and send an abstract (max. 500 words) no later than October 31, 2017.

Three Month Placement Opportunity with IRADE in India supporting the Development of a New Energy and Gender Community of Practice in India.

The LCEDN are currently working with Energia on a collaborative programme around questions of gender within energy and international development research. As part of this work, we are supporting the development of a Community of Practice in Energy and Gender in India which is being developed by three organizations who have been working in research projects funded under Energia’s DFID-funded Gender and Energy research programme (IRADe, TERI and M.S. Swaminathan  Research  Foundation).

The placement will be hosted by IRADE in New Delhi. The successful candidate will interact with all three Indian partners (and the LCEDN and Energia) on a regular basis (weekly) and will work on stakeholder mapping and other documentation for the Community of Practice, as well as supporting the development and delivery of the meetings that will be organised from time to time to formalise the Community and Practice.

IRADe as well as the other two Indian partners will provide a stimulating environment for young researchers concerned with development issues and policy analysis. They offer connections with many types of stakeholders ranging from senior decision makers, private sectors, experts and other NGOs.

Profile of the Person we are looking for:

  • Academic background in sustainable energy (PHD/Post-Doc)
  • Exposure/experience with writing project proposals for funding and documentation
  • Experience in Stakeholder Analysis and facilitating meetings
  • We are looking for a sociable, good-humored, dedicated person with exposure to Asian and European environments, who is able to adapt and integrate at high speed into new tasks and teams.

Duration: Three months between January 2018-May 2018 (specific timings to be negotiated).

Stipend: The successful candidate will receive a stipend of 2000 GBP per month, and will also receive a travel expenses stipend up to the value of 1500 GBP.

Application process: To apply, please send your CV and a cover letter explaining how you meet the candidate profile, to LCEDN@lboro.ac.uk .  The deadline for applications is 17:00 GMT on 23rd October 2017.

Remuneration – Benefits in kind -Reimbursement of expenses

Researcher will not receive any remuneration or reimbursement of expenses from the host organization(s).

PhD and postdoc positions at the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, University of Bergen

The Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET), University of Bergen, is currently expanding.

Three PhD positions – Climate and energy transformation

CET is now recruiting three PhD fellows to strengthen the centre’s key research areas. We aim to develop actionable knowledge about societal transformation pathways – strategies for society to decarbonize its energy supply, bring the economy into line with climate and ecological boundaries, and build resilience to changing climates. With a basis in social science, we bring together researchers across disciplinary boundaries in collaboration and knowledge exchange.

We are currently seeking three PhD candidates, each for a period of 4 years, to work within one of the five prioritized research areas for CET:

  • Analyses of policy and market dynamics
  • Integrated modelling of societal transformation pathways
  • Public perceptions and preferences
  • Urban and local governance
  • National-level energy transitions

The candidates hired will have their workplace at the CET floor of the Faculty of Social Sciences building, and will be expected to contribute to making CET a dynamic and productive academic environment.

The positions are not limited to specific disciplines. However, the applicants’ competence, as well as the proposed research, must be relevant to the scope of CET’s prioritized research areas.

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • The applicant must hold a master’s degree or the equivalent within the fields of climate, energy, transformation, environment, sustainability or social change. The degree has to be completed by the application deadline,
  • The requirements are generally grade B or better on Master thesis and for the Master degree in total
  • An interest in interdisciplinary research, and a demonstrated ability to work with others
  • Proficiency in both written and oral English

If possible, applicants should have discussed their project with a prospective supervisor. Please indicate in the application whether a supervisor has been identified. An advisor agreement is not a prerequisite, but we need to assess the centre’s capacity to supervise the specific project proposed.

The final ranking of applicants may take into consideration the overall balance of CET researchers across disciplines and research areas.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview.

About the PhD position

The duration of the PhD position is 4 years, of which 25 per cent of the time comprises obligatory duties associated with research, teaching and dissemination of results. These duties will be tied to the activities of CET. The employment period for the successful candidate may be reduced if he or she previously has been employed in a PhD position.

About the research training:

As a PhD research fellow you will take part in the doctoral educational programme at UoB. The programme corresponds to a period of three years and leads to the submission of the PhD dissertation. To be eligible for admission you must have completed a Master’s degree. The educational background must be equivalent to a five-year Master’s education, including a two-year Master’s degree and a Master thesis. It is expected that the topic of the Master’s degree is connected to the academic field to which you are seeking admission.

We can offer:

  • Salary at pay grade 50 upon appointment (Code 1017) on the government salary scale (equivalent to NOK 436 900,- per year). Further promotions are made according to length of service in the position
  • A good and professionally challenging working environment
  • Enrolment in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • A position in an inclusive workplace (IA enterprise)
  • Good welfare benefits

Your application must include:

  • A cover letter including a brief account of your research interests and motivation for applying for the position
  • The names and contact information for two reference persons. One of them must be the main advisor for the master’s thesis or equivalent thesis
  • CV, including publications (if any)
  • Transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Relevant certificates/references
  • A maximum of 3 publications can be submitted (please upload your master’s thesis or equivalent).
  • Project proposal: A research proposal (5-8 pages) explaining the intended theoretical and/or empirical contributions of the project, as well as methodological foundations and plans for data collection must accompany the application. The proposal should also include a progress plan for the different parts of the project. A budget of running costs should be included. Admittance to the PhD-programme will be based on the research proposal.
  • If you have a master’s degree from an institution outside of the Nordic countries, or a 2-year discipline- based master’s degree (or the equivalent) in a subject area other than the one associated with the application, you may later in the application process be asked to submit an overview of the syllabus for the degree you have completed

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded at Jobbnorge following the link on this page marked “Apply for this job”.

The application has to be marked: 17/11915

Closing date: November 1, 2017

Applications submitted without a project description or applications sent as e-mails will not be considered. Only submitted documents will be subjected to an expert assessment.

 

General information:            

Additional information about the position is obtainable by contacting CET Director Håvard Haarstad, e-mail havard.haarstad@uib.no, phone +47 55 58 45 81.

Practical questions regarding the application procedures should be directed to adviser Beathe Moldestad, phone +47 55 58 90 56, e-mail: beathe.moldestad@uib.no.

Appointed research fellows will be admitted to the doctoral education program at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Further information about the program is available on the webpage http://www.uib.no/en/svf/37940/doctoral-education. Questions about the program may be directed to senior officer Hanne Gravermoen, e-mail: hanne.gravermoen@uib.no, phone: +47 55 58 90 68.

The state labour force shall reflect the diversity of Norwegian society to the greatest extent possible. Age and gender balance among employees is therefore a goal. It is also a goal to recruit people with immigrant backgrounds. People with immigrant backgrounds and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the position.

The University of Bergen applies the principle of public access to information when recruiting staff for academic positions.

Information about applicants may be made public even if the applicant has asked not to be named on the list of persons who have applied. The applicant must be notified if the request to be omitted is not met.

The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at all times.

 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET) at the University of Bergen is currently expanding. We are now recruiting a postdoctoral research fellow to strengthen the centre’s key research areas. CET aims to develop actionable knowledge about societal transformation pathways – strategies for society to decarbonize its energy supply, bring the economy into line with climate and ecological boundaries, and build resilience to changing climates. With a basis in social science, we bring together researchers across disciplinary boundaries in collaboration and knowledge exchange.

 

We are currently seeking a postdoctoral research fellow for a period of three years to work within one of the five prioritized research areas for CET:

– Analysis of policy and market dynamics

– Integrated modelling of societal transformation pathways

– Public perceptions and preferences

– Urban and local governance

– National-level energy transitions

 

The researcher will have workplace at the CET floor of the Faculty of Social Sciences building, and will be expected to contribute to making CET a dynamic and productive academic environment.

 

The position is not limited to specific disciplines. However, the applicants’ competence, as well as the proposed research, must be relevant to the scope of CET’s prioritized research areas.

 

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • The applicant must hold a Norwegian PhD or an equivalent degree within the fields of climate, energy, transformation, environment, sustainability or social change, or must have submitted his/her doctoral thesis for assessment prior to the application deadline. It is a condition of employment that the PhD has been awarded.
  • An interest in interdisciplinary research, and a demonstrated ability to work with others
  • Experience with academic publication. We expect a significant record of international publications.
  • Proficiency in both written and oral English

If possible, applicants should have discussed their project with a prospective mentor at the University of Bergen or otherwise connected to CET. Please indicate in the application whether a mentor has been identified. This is not a prerequisite, but we need to assess the centre’s ability to provide a stimulating academic environment for the postdoctoral research fellow.

 

Potential candidates will be invited to the department for an interview, and might be asked to hold a trial lecture in a given topic.

 

The final ranking of applicants may take into consideration the overall balance of CET researchers across disciplines and research areas.

 

About the position of postdoctoral research fellow:

The position of postdoctoral research fellow is a fixed-term appointment with the primary objective of qualifying the appointee for work in top academic positions. The fixed-term period for this position is three years. Individuals may not be hired for more than one fixed-term period as a postdoctoral research fellow at the same institution.

 

It is a requirement that the project can be completed in the course of the period of employment.

 

We can offer:

  • A good and professionally challenging working environment.
  • Salary at pay grade 57-60 (code 1352) on the government salary scale upon appointment (equivalent to NOK 490 900 – 517 700,- per year). Further promotions are made according to length of service in the position.
  • Enrolment in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.
  • A position in an inclusive workplace (IW).
  • Good welfare benefits.

Your application must include:

  • A brief account of the applicant’s research interests and motivation for applying for the position.
  • A project proposal (6-8 pages) explaining the intended theoretical and/or empirical contributions of the project, as well as methodological foundations and plans for data collection. Applicants should include a plan for dissemination (academic and non-academic). The proposal should also include a budget for data collection or fieldwork.
  • The names and contact information for two reference persons. One of these must be the main advisor from the PhD programme.
  • CV, including list of publications.
  • Transcripts and diplomas and official confirmation that the doctoral thesis has been submitted.
  • Relevant certificates/references.
  • Up to five scientific publications.

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded at Jobbnorge.

 

The application has to be marked with: 17/12091

 

The closing date is November 1, 2017

 

Applications sent by e-mail will not be evaluated.

 

General information:

Additional information about the position is obtainable by contacting CET Director Håvard Haarstad, e-mail havard.haarstad@uib.no, phone +47 55 58 45 81.

 

Practical questions regarding the application procedures should be directed to adviser Beathe Moldestad, phone +47 55 58 90 56, e-mail: beathe.moldestad@uib.no.

 

The state labour force shall reflect the diversity of Norwegian society to the greatest extent possible. Age and gender balance among employees is therefore a goal. It is also a goal to recruit people with immigrant backgrounds. People with immigrant backgrounds and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the position.

 

The University of Bergen applies the principle of public access to information when recruiting staff for academic positions.

 

Information about applicants may be made public even if the applicant has asked not to be named on the list of persons who have applied. The applicant must be notified if the request to be omitted is not met.

The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at all times.

Weekly Energy News Update-October 8th

I found it truly odd that so many people made fun of Theresa May this week simply because she couldn’t stop coughing during a press conference. I can’t for the life of me understand why that deserves ridicule. At least Philip Hammond was willing to provide her a cough sweet (my American fingers can barely prevent myself from writing “cough drop” ;-p).

Cough, prankster make May’s British Dream speech a nightmare (AP)

One of the key points within the press conference was her announcement to institute an energy price cap in England. Perhaps now is the time to be critical seeing that we know the energy industry is not willing to go through with the deal until next year!

Energy price cap will not take effect this winter, says industry (Guardian)

Always interesting to see what the media latches on to and it is usually not practical matters (boring!) until they become a disaster (marketable!).

Ok, hope you all enjoy a more regular update for once!


Efficiency

Efficiencies helped households save up to 30 percent on energy bills in 2016 (Reuters)

A rare efficiency piece in Reuters! Cause to celebrate!


Finance

Glencore pips Sinopec to buy Chevron’s South African assets (Reuters)

RIL divests Pennsylvanian upstream assets for $126 million (India Times)

Saudi Aramco plans expansion in India with new unit (Reuters)


Grid

The bankrupt utility behind Puerto Rico’s power crisis (Reuters)

Truly an energy disaster still taking place in Puerto Rico. Only 10% with power and it looks like without help this will drag on indefinitely. While there is talk of debt forgiveness it is not clear that Wall Street would ever allow that to happen.

Tesla to send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to restore power (Reuters)

Perry’s proposed grid rule scrambles energy alliances (Reuters)

An interesting analysis of power politics in the US after DOEs new grid resiliency rule. Gas is now teaming up with solar and wind as the clean energy group versus the coal and nuclear populated dirty energy group. I wonder where hydro fits? 7% of electricity output is still a good chunk.


Labor

Petrol pump dealers strike: 54,000 outlets to remain shut on October 13 (IANS)


Pipelines

Major Canadian Pipeline Project Is Abandoned (NY Times)


Politics

Armed faction takes over protection of Libyan oil and gas complex, fresh concern over migrants (Reuters)

Main ethnic group in Nigeria’s Delta oil hub criticises army exercise (Reuters)

Algeria says will not change foreign ownership limit in new energy law (Reuters)

Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments (NY Times)

Excellent in-depth coverage of the energy conflict heating up in Germany after the recent election.

Shunning fossil fuels, 40 Catholic groups seek climate action (Reuters)

Hopefully there is an anthropologist examining the intersection of religion and energy!

Watch a Top EPA Nominee Embarrass Himself With Feigned Ignorance of Basic Facts (Intercept)

Trump picks coal lobbyist for EPA deputy role, drawing mixed reaction (Reuters)

Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws (Washington Post)

Interior Department whistleblower resigns, bipartisan former appointees object to Zinke’s statements (Washington Post)

More depressing news from within the Trump administration this week.

EU split on carbon market reform ahead of U.N. climate talks (Reuters)

Nigerian lawmakers to probe state oil firm corruption allegations (Reuters)


Technology

Toshiba Develops Next-Generation Lithium-ion Battery with New Anode Material (EnergyTrend)

New nanomaterial can create hydrogen fuel from seawater (India Times)


Transportation

Gas trucks boom in China as government curbs diesel in war on smog (Reuters)

Boeing-backed, hybrid-electric commuter plane to hit market in 2022 (Reuters)

Centre to float bulk tenders for electric rickshaws, three-wheelers (India Times)

G.M. and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models (NY Times)

Tesla in ‘production hell’ to meet Model 3 deadline: Elon Musk (Reuters)

Jobs, tax and politics: three ways electric vehicles will change our world (Conversation)

E-Mobility meets the energy industry (EnergyTrend)

This is primarily an advert for the Power2Drive Europe 2018 Conference and Exhibition to be held in Munich this summer


Biofuel

Brown energy? Dung to power Finnish horse show (Reuters)


Coal

Russia takes advantage of China’s North Korea coal ban (Reuters)

I actually did not realize that Russia had anthracite reserves large enough to support exporting.

Maharashtra power cuts: Fadnavis instructs to restore coal supply at the earliest (India Times)

Power cuts back in suburbs, Thane, Navi Mumbai (Mumbai Mirror)

Thousands protest across Australia against giant Adani coal mine (Reuters)

In the heart of China’s coal country, a city bans most coal (Reuters)

The ban until March is also combined with an extremely strict environmental campaign that kicked off in August.


Gas

Scotland rejects fracking, citing overwhelming public opposition (Reuters)

The government’s new gas deal will ease the squeeze, but dodges the price issue (Conversation)

Dirty water in U.S. shale patch drives investment in water handlers (Reuters)

Tokyo Gas will not accept destination clauses in new LNG contracts (Reuters)

Interesting, but I assume that does not include North Korea.

Kazakhstan to start exporting natural gas to China on October 15 (IANS)

China’s northern cities face soot-free winter with gas revolution (Reuters)


Hydropower

The attempt to replenish Lake Chad’s water may fail again. Here’s why (Conversation)


Nuclear

Fukushima operator can restart nuclear reactors at world’s biggest plant (Guardian)

Rosatom’s Paks nuclear project in Hungary delayed (Reuters)

Indian-American entrepreneur offers fast-track mini nuclear reactors to India (India Times)


Petroleum

Buckeye resumes operation at Yabucoa, Puerto Rico; tankers discharge fuel (Reuters)

Iraq eases financial restrictions on Kurdistan region, in first sign of de-escalation (Reuters)

Erdogan says Turkey, Iran and Iraq will decide on closing northern Iraq’s oil taps (Reuters)

On going debate about Kurdistan’s petroleum reserves.

Argentina plans auction for offshore oil exploration next year (Reuters)

Norway to study shift from oil to tackle climate risks (Reuters)


Solar

Divided U.S. solar sector spars over trade relief at hearing (Reuters)

Final report due to the White House by Nov. 13th.

How solar energy saved a Puerto Rican farm from Hurricane Maria (Reuters)

At least there is a bit of positive news from Puerto Rico and related to solar power no less

Energy Ethnographies: Foregrounding the social, cultural, and political aspects of ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’ in the Global South

Session organizers: Jonathan Balls (University of Melbourne) and Deepti Chatti (Yale University)

Discussant: Gregory Simon (University of Colorado, Denver)

This session calls for papers that draw on ethnographic and other qualitative engagements with energy users in the Global South – centering their experiences, values, politics, preferences, and epistemologies. By examining the everyday entanglements of culture, politics, environment, and society in energy use, this session aims to explore how the insights from critical qualitative social sciences can enrich our current understanding of energy access and energy transitions in developing countries.

In the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) initiative, scholars and practitioners alike have turned their focus to ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’. The extension of energy services such as electricity and ‘clean’ cooking energy to low income households in the Global South is broadly described under the rubric of ‘expanding energy access’, while the substitution of currently used technologies in favour of ‘modern’ renewable energy services is broadly described under the umbrella of ‘energy transitions’. Both these terms have attracted theoretical attention by critical geographers and allied scholars. In recent years, researchers have focused extensively on decentralized energy infrastructures and programs – such as for off-grid solar power, or improved cookstoves – highlighting their promise for extending energy access, and their role in energy transitions (Bailis et al., 2009, Cross 2013, Simon et al., 2014). Additionally, researchers have looked at centralized infrastructure to reach energy users who were previously unserved (Dabadge et al., 2016). Much of the existing literature is concerned with the technical, financial, and economic aspects of efforts to extend energy access or to facilitate the diffusion of energy technologies. When attention is paid to energy users, it is typically through survey based empirical studies, focusing on technological or economical aspects.

In parallel, there is a growing recognition by socio-cultural anthropologists of the importance of understanding the cultures and politics of infrastructure (Larkin 2013, Kale 2014, Anand 2017). Energy infrastructures are worthy of social, cultural, and political study in addition to being objects of enquiry from a technological and economic lens. Infrastructures entail newly negotiated relationships between state actors, businesses, civil society actors, and energy users (Button, 2017; Meehan, 2014). With new energy infrastructures comes new knowledge, practices, and cultures (Strauss et al., 2016, Gupta, 2015, Kumar, 2015). New technologies can reinforce existing socio-political hierarchies, or upset them (Jacobson, 2007). Ethnographic studies that focus on users and the seemingly ordinary or mundane everyday uses of energy can bring rich empirical insights on how energy access and transitions are unfolding (Chatti et al., 2017). This scholarship can improve our understanding on how energy technologies, infrastructures, and programs are mediated, shaped, and accommodated, while simultaneously paying close attention to how lives are changed to accommodate new forms of infrastructures.

This session invites participants to present research conducted with energy users in the developing world to explore the social, cultural, and political dimensions of ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’. While we hope to center ethnographic and deep qualitative research, we welcome a broad range of scholarly engagements that foreground the social, cultural, and political aspects of energy use.

Potential paper themes could include, but are not limited to:

  • How is the use of energy mediated by cultures, politics, and practices, and how does this relate with our current understanding of ‘energy access’, and ‘energy transitions’?
  • What insights are gained from ethnographic studies that center the experiences and practices of users?
  • How are accounts that detail the politics and governance of decentralised energy infrastructures, and emergent relationships between government actors, businesses, civil society, and users enriching understandings of energy transitions in the developing world?
  • How are contestations over technical and economic aspects of energy infrastructure negotiated? How does this affect the end user?

Please email paper titles and 250 word abstracts to Jonathan Balls (jonathan.balls@unimelb.edu.au) and Deepti Chatti (deepti.chatti@yale.edu) by October 15, 2017. Potential panelists will need to register for the AAG by October 25, 2017, and submit their abstracts directly.

 

References:

Anand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai. Duke University Press.

Bailis, Rob, et al. 2009. “Arresting the killer in the kitchen: the promises and pitfalls of commercializing improved cookstoves.” World Development 37 10: 1694-1705.

Button, C. 2017. The co-production of a constant water supply in Mumbai’s middle-class apartments. Urban Research & Practice, 10, 102-119.

Chatti, D., Archer, M., Lennon, M. & Dove, M. R. 2017. Exploring the mundane: Towards an ethnographic approach to bioenergy. Energy Research & Social Science, 30, 28-34.

Cross, Jamie. 2013. “The 100th object: Solar lighting technology and humanitarian goods.” Journal of Material Culture 18 4: 367-387.

Dabadge, Ashwini, et al., “From LPG Connections to Use: Realising Smokeless Kitchens for All” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol L1 No. 16, April 16, 2016.

Gupta, Akhil. 2015. ‘An Anthropology of Electricity from the Global South’. Cultural Anthropology, 30, 555-568.

Kale, Sunila S. 2014. Electrifying India: regional political economies of development. Stanford University Press.

Kumar, Ankit. 2015. ‘Cultures of lights’. Geoforum, 65, 59-68.

Jacobson, A. 2007. Connective power: Solar electrification and social change in Kenya. World Development, 35, 144-162.

Larkin, Brian. 2013. “The politics and poetics of infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327-343.

Matinga, Margaret Nijrambo. 2010. “We grow up with it”: an ethnographic study of the experiences, perceptions and responses to the health impacts of energy acquisition and use in rural South Africa. University of Twente.

Meehan, K. M. 2014. ‘Tool-power: Water infrastructure as wellsprings of state power’. Geoforum, 57, 215-224.

Simon, Gregory L., et al. 2014. “Current debates and future research needs in the clean cookstove sector.” Energy for Sustainable Development 20: 49-57.

Strauss, Sarah, Stephanie Rupp, and Thomas Love, eds. 2016. Cultures of energy: power, practices, technologies. Routledge.

Weekly Energy News Update-October 1st

Ok back in Oslo so hopefully can make this a more regular report again. I found it very difficult to find a few hours to put these together while on the road. But I did collect a number of older articles just in case you may have missed them over the past month. They will be sprinkled in with other news from this week.

As someone who has studied China for many years, one particular news item caught my eye this week:

Brazil sells dam operating licenses for $3.8 billion to foreign bidders (Reuters)

The lead photo I think explains perfectly why this is a concerning issue for the energy sector in Brazil

China’s State Power Investment Corp representatives react during Brazilian government auction of operating licenses for four hydroelectric plants in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Investors do not get that excited about an auction unless they know their bid just made them a lot of money. In particular, China’s State Power Investment Corp. aims to profit considerably from their bid for control over the 40 year old São Simão dam, which produces 1,700 MW for the Brazilian grid. It is always risky for a white American to point out the neo-colonial ambitions of China’s state owned enterprises, but recent research critical of China’s various projects in Africa tend to show that is exactly what is happening.  This is true globally, particularly from the perspective of energy resources. Being aware of China’s influence over the energy market is important, but we should consider how Chinese state owned enterprises are also changing energy politics around the globe. It is important to recognize the colonial atrocities that were perpetrated against China, but there is no reason this classic cartoon should not be redrawn. China now holds their own knife over the “energy pie” if you will.

 


Finance

Chevron Names New Chief, Signaling Steady Path (NY Times)

How Iraq’s Kurdish Independence Referendum Could Impact Oil Markets (Bloomberg)

Sharing this as an example of how corporations and the oil market expressed concerned about Kurdish independence. See petroleum section for related news.

Renewables will be cheaper than coal in the future. Here are the numbers (The Conversation)

China’s CEFC wins preliminary government approval for Rosneft deal (Reuters)

Russia’s Rosneft elects former German chancellor Schroeder as chairman (Reuters)


Grid

Renewable energy investors see opportunity in Puerto Rico’s demolished grid (Reuters)

Logistics Complicate Puerto Rico’s Electric Grid Recovery (IEEE)

Maria power outage puts old, vulnerable at risk in Puerto Rico (Reuters)

Still a great deal of disconcerting news coming out of Puerto Rico. Amazing what the Mayor of San Juan has been doing to help her citizens!

‘No one is steering the ship’: five lessons learned (or not) since the SA blackout (The Conversation)

Why Getting the Power Back On in Florida Could Take Weeks (NY Times)

Maharashtra village gets power, bus after 70 years of Independence (India Times)

Elon Musk’s big battery for South Australia already half complete (Guardian)

Will this be the first time in the company’s history that they will actually make a deadline!??? ;-p

 


Labor

What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs (NY Times)

These are definitely projects that could seriously use a long-term follow up study by a social scientist!


Politics

Thanks To Lobbying, It’s Illegal To Power Your Home With Solar Panels In Florida (IFLScience)

Unfortunately, it required a hurricane to bring this story to light.

Ryan Zinke’s Troubling Remarks Undercut Dept. of Interior’s Core Mission (LegalPlanet)

A very good analysis of the discourse used by the Trump administration to support the further extraction of natural resources

U.S. eases rules on diesel for generators in Puerto Rico (Reuters)

U.S. energy head seeks help for coal, nuclear power plants (Reuters)

France’s Macron backs up European vision with action on industry (Reuters)

Already some big moves taking place in European energy sector

Vietnam court sentences to death PetroVietnam ex-chairman in mass trial (Reuters)

U.S. lawmakers ask Facebook, Twitter for information on anti-fracking ads (Reuters)


Pipelines

Still Fighting at Standing Rock (Esquire)

Police Used Private Security Aircraft for Surveillance in Standing Rock No-Fly Zone (Intercept)

Very glad that some in the media have not allowed this story to fall through the cracks.

Kinder Morgan says fish-mat ban may delay Canada pipe expansion (Reuters)

Gas pipeline through central Europe to go ahead as planned (Reuters)


Technology

Tech Mahindra, Power Ledger to test MaaS-based electricity solution (IANS)

Could be a very interesting use of Blockchain technology to audit energy consumption and production. Just as we’ve seen recently with Bitcoin though, there could be all sorts of problems with this.

Blockchains Will Allow Rooftop Solar Energy Trading for Fun and Profit (IEEE)

And it seems this is becoming a pretty solid trend within the energy sector.

The Ridiculous Amount of Energy It Takes to Run Bitcoin (IEEE)

And this article just makes all this talk of Blockchain technology used for energy audits confusingly circular….we use blockchain technology to audit energy so that we can efficiently create a currency that uses blockchain technology…aaaahhhh!

Tesla Unveils New Patented Battery Swap Technology (EnergyTrends)

Evaporative Power Has the Potential to Create Electricity for Large Parts of the U.S. (IEEE)

This sounds like a fascinating technology but one that would desperately need a lot of study to make sure nothing goes wrong. For those who can access articles behind a paywall see this report from Nature Communications


Transportation

Jaguar Land Rover to make only electric or hybrid cars from 2020 (Guardian)

It is getting to the point that gasoline is quickly going to become the equivalent of leaded gasoline…obsolete!

End to women’s driving ban to save Saudis billions, support reforms (Reuters)

European sales of gasoline-powered cars overtake diesel (Reuters)

Azure Roof Power to Expand Electrification of Indian Railways (EnergyTrend)

Two wheels good: Bike boom nibbles on Asia gasoline demand growth (Reuters)

While gasoline demand might be shrinking, it will be interesting to see if car sales decrease. There is a great deal of social capital wrapped up in cars in Asia, but even before the “bike sharing boom” it was not unusual for the car to simply be parked at one’s home and used only when necessary (to exhibit one’s social capital, naturally).

Shell explores electric vehicle charging, energy management businesses (Reuters)

How Crazy Is Elon Musk’s Hypersonic Space Rocket Airline? (Bloomberg)

Argentina opens bidding to buy $2 bln of railcars for Buenos Aires (Retuers)

China sets target for electric car quota but delays rollout until 2019 (AP)

China may soon set date for ban on new petrol, diesel cars (Reuters)


Biofuels

U.S. biofuel credit prices fall as EPA considers change (Reuters)

Biofuel breakthroughs bring ‘negative emissions’ a step closer (The Conversation)


Coal

In Pakistan’s coal rush, some women drivers break cultural barriers (Reuters)

Coal shortage hits power supply in Rajasthan (India Times)

Russia Props Up Ukraine Rebels With Coal Sales From War Zone (Bloomberg)

AGL rejects Turnbull call to keep operating Liddell coal-fired power station (The Conversation)

Washington state denies key permit for U.S.-Asia coal export terminal (Reuters)

The environmental impact of a coal plant on Kenya’s coast is being underplayed (The Conversation)


Gas

Large Dutch gas find could be even bigger after positive drilling results (Reuters)

To avoid crisis, the gas market needs a steady steer, not an emergency swerve (The Conversation)


Nuclear

Michael Flynn ‘promoted US-Russian nuclear project from White House’ (Guardian)

This is now two weeks old and there has been little follow up in the press. However, see this analysis from the ED of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

EDF to close temporarily Tricastin nuclear plant over flooding risk (Reuters)

A Bittersweet Milestone for the World’s Safest Nuclear Reactors (IEEE)

India plays major role in nuclear plant in Bangladesh (India Times)

China National Nuclear, Shenhua team up to develop gen-4 reactor (Reuters)

This could be a big step for China if they decide to seriously ramp up their nuclear program, which currently occupies a small share of their total energy production.


Petroleum

Turkey raises oil threat after Iraqi Kurds’ referendum (Al-Jazeera)

Iran bans oil product transport to, from Iraq’s Kurdistan region (Reuters)

Iraqi PM presses case for Baghdad to receive Kurdistan oil revenue (Reuters)

So now Iraq, Iran and Turkey are attempting to constrain Kurdistan independence by attempting to control their oil revenues. Very crucial to see how other state governments and corporations react to this.

Texas Energy Industry Recovering From Hurricane’s Disruption (NY Times)

Puma Energy doubles fuel distribution in Puerto Rico after hurricane (Reuters)

Trump Administration Moves to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling Studies (NY Times)

Philippines to explore for oil and gas with China near disputed waters (Reuters)

Greek oil spill forces closure of Athens beaches (Guardian)

JXTG to shut Muroran petrochem plant as Japan gasoline demand fades (Reuters)

Brazil Offshore Oil Drilling Rights Draw Interest at Auction (NY Times)


Solar

Huge Tunisian solar park hopes to provide Saharan power to Europe (Guardian)

It seems solar mega-projects are becoming the norm now. For those interested in such topics, the journal Environment and Society recently sent out a CfP regarding mega-projects.

Panjab University solar panels lying defunct within two years of installation (India Times)

Creating Test for Trump, Panel Says Imported Solar Gear Hurts U.S. Firms (NY Times)

In windy Denmark, clouds clearing for solar power (Reuters)


Wind

CIAS Will Start the Construction of Plants at Taipei Harbor to Fight for Wind Power Market (EnergyTrends)