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For the EU, leading on clean energy means talking about #CleanCoal

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coalIn the post-COP21 world, most would agree that climate change is a clear threat that needs to be urgently addressed. Faced with American scepticism prompted by the election of Donald Trump, Europe has emerged as the world’s leading advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But simply airing fluffy statements is not enough: the hard part comes in designing policies that are appropriate for multiple sectors and industries. And the EU’s current energy policies are falling dreadfully short of that objective, writes Martin Banks.

The European Commission says it wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition instead of just adapting to it. For this reason, the bloc has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU's economy and delivering on jobs and growth. Its recently unveiled Emissions Trading System (ETS) proposals have three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers. The catch? It turns out that the EU’s preferred renewable fuel, biomass, is not that clean after all.

A recent policy paper by the respected Chatham House in London contradicts the EU’s assessment that wood burning is carbon neutral – instead, biomass is actually more harmful to the environment than any other fossil fuel. Burning the fuel produces more carbon, nitrogen oxide and methane emissions per unit of energy produced than coal. At best, burning bone-dry woody biomass emits 213 pounds of CO2/mmbtu, compared to 205.3 for coal. However, in most cases, wood is never that dry, which increases the amount of energy used to convert it into energy, thereby further increasing its emissions.

What’s more, when forests are cut down to be transformed into the type of wood pellets needed to power biomass plants, their soil release supplementary quantities of carbon for up to 20 more years. The Chatham House report casts serious doubt on the decision to retrofit (with EU help and British government subsidies no more) the UK’s Drax power plant to use wood pellets instead of coal, a move which was hailed by environmentalists.

Although renewable energies have made giant strides over the past two decades, it is still generally agreed that their reliance on, say, the wind blowing and the sun shining to generate electricity, is a major technological hurdle. While renewables have occupied much of the policy space, the stark reality is that technologies that seek to minimize fossil fuel emissions – such as carbon capture and utilization (CCU) and high energy, low emissions (HELE) technology – shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Not only can they drive down CO2 levels within the threshold required by the EU’s energy policy, they are also economically feasible.

The question for governments, environmentalists and others is figuring out what is the least costly path to reducing energy emissions while also maintaining energy security. Perhaps they should listen to the International Energy Agency, following the Paris Agreement in December 2015, which said that the ability of CCS to reduce emissions from fossil fuel use in power generation and industrial processes – including from existing facilities – will be “crucial” to limiting future temperature increases to “well below 2°C”.

A source in the environment directorate at the European Parliament told this website, “The cost of ignoring this technology could be huge for the climate in the long run.” CCS/CCU technology could close the gap between maintaining energy security and reducing carbon emissions. Echoing a similar sentiment, Scottish MEP Ian Duncan, UK Conservative energy and climate change spokesman, who told this website:  "Technologies like CCS and CCU could make an important contribution to reducing emissions and driving clean growth, but, as we know, initial investment costs can be high.”

The debate about the place these new technologies should have in national energy mixes is also raging in India, the world’s fastest growing large economy which is desperately trying to limit its carbon emissions. In the past, HELE technology has been seen as too expensive for developing countries to afford—but that may now be changing. India’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, said that upgrading all existing over 25-year old plants with modern, efficient super-critical plants will bring down pollution levels more than the “thrust that’s been given to renewable energy”. For example, upgrading 40GW of such plants will generate “saving[s] [that] will be far greater than possibly the 100,000 MW of solar power that we will be generating. And that should be the national priority.”

It isn’t just India where coal is undergoing an unexpected renaissance and proving to be a cleaner and more efficient energy source than previously thought. According to experts in Australia, the availability and affordability of coal means that it will remain integral to the country’s energy mix for up to at least 2040. The rise of wind and solar power in Australia was predicted to be the death knell for coal use in what is the world's biggest exporter of the fossil fuel. But coal has undergone something of a re-birth and the Australian government is even now considering helping fund construction of new HELE power plants.

These countries make a good case why outfitting existing coal plants in the EU with new technology is more advantageous than switching to biomass or, worse, closing them down. Not only would these plants reduce CO2 emissions but also nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. Offering HELE clean-energy subsidies (as has been the case for solar and wind for years) would send a clear signal of the EU’s commitment to such technologies.

With renewable energy unlikely to prove sufficient to stabilize the climate, coal executives, together with energy experts, are urging the EU to follow the example set by India, Australia and others and reconsider the role coal can play in maintaining the Old Continent’s competitiveness.

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ElectroGasMalta has summed up its Delimar power plant project

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The Electrogas consortium recently held a press conference where it announced the results of an internal audit of its company. The company said it began an "extensive internal legal and forensic review" in 2019, following the appointment of three new Directors. The audit showed that there were no signs of corruption in the project to build a gas power plant in Delimar with the participation of Siemens Projects Ventures and SOCAR Trading.

According to Energogas, the audit did not reveal any signs of any violations at the stage of bidding, construction of the power plant and operating activities of Electrogas.

Electrogas also reported that a project worth more than 500 million euros for the construction of a new 210 MW power plant and an LNG regasification terminal was implemented by ElectroGas Malta, which includes SOCAR Trading. In partnership with Siemens and local investment company GEM, it won a public tender in Malta in 2013.

It is known that the management of Electrogas changed after the resignation of shareholder Jorgen fenek.
Fenech was part of the joint venture "jam holdings", which owns 33.34% of the power plant. SOCAR Trading and Siemens Projects Ventures hold 33.34 percent each.

In 2015, ElectroGas Malta signed a contract with SOCAR giving exclusive long-term rights to supply LNG to Malta for the power plant. The first batch of LNG was delivered to the island in January 2017, thus creating the conditions for Malta to completely abandon fuel oil as a source of electricity generation. As noted earlier by the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, this helped reduce electricity prices for the Maltese population by 25% and contributed to a 90% reduction in toxic emissions into the atmosphere.

ElectroGas Malta will also supply electricity and natural gas to the state-owned energy company Enemalta for 18 years. A project worth more than €500 million to build a new 210 MW power plant and an LNG regasification terminal in Malta with the participation of SOCAR Trading was launched in December 2014 and completed in January 2017.

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#FORATOM underlines key role of nuclear in achieving ambitious climate targets

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FORATOM welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to increase its 2030 CO2 emission reduction target to at least 55%. This is essential if the EU is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  The nuclear sector stands ready to play its part by providing a stable supply of low-carbon electricity, as well as other energy carriers (e.g. hydrogen).

In terms of decarbonizing the electricity sector, FORATOM has identified two challenges: ensuring security of supply and costs.

“It is clear that by supporting an energy mix which combines both nuclear power and variable renewables, the EU will have access to a low-carbon supply of electricity, 24/7,” said FORATOM Director General Yves Desbazeille. “Such a combination will contribute not only ensuring security of supply, but also keeping the costs of the transition to a minimum”.

According to the conclusions of an FTI-CL Energy Consulting study commissioned by FORATOM (Pathways to 2050: role of nuclear in a low-carbon Europe), Europe could save more than €440 billion between 2020 and 2050 by supporting a 25% share of nuclear in the 2050 electricity mix. Customers would save around €350bn in costs, with 90% of these savings occuring before 2035 thanks primarily to the life-time extension of existing nuclear reactors as well as the construction of new ones. Furthermore, around €90bn could also be saved in relation to the additional Transmission and Distribution grid costs needed to accommodate the new solar and wind capacity, if ever built, which would replace the lost nuclear capacity.

“It should be noted that the transition is not just about saving costs, it’s also about ensuring economic growth and jobs,” added Desbazeille. “Here nuclear plays an important role as it currently sustains more than 1 million jobs in the EU-27. By 2050, this figure could rise to 1.2 million”[1].

The European nuclear industry stands ready to play its part in helping the EU to decarbonise. To do this, EU policy must treat all technologies in the same way. As highlighted by several member states at the end of 2019, if they are to progress towards such ambitious targets then they must have the freedom to include low-carbon nuclear within their energy mix.

The European Atomic Forum (FORATOM) is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. The membership of FORATOM is made up of 15 national nuclear associations and through these associations, FORATOM represents nearly 3,000 European companies working in the industry and supporting around 1,100,000 jobs.

[1] Deloitte Economic and Social Impact Report, 2019

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Arts

LUKOIL’S Oil Pavilion named world's best project for use of Virtual Reality

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LUKOIL became a winner of the international IPRA Golden World Awards in four categories for the restoration of the historical Oil Pavilion at Moscow’s VDNKh. It is the largest Russian multimedia exhibition dedicated to applied science, which presents oil industry to its visitors through interactive installations.

The Oil Pavilion was awarded the status of the best global project in Gaming and virtual reality, Business-to-business, Media relations and Sponsorship categories.

This is the second LUKOIL’s IPRA Golden World Awards win; the Company received two awards last year. LUKOIL’s campaign to promote the city of Kogalym (Yugra) as a tourist centre of the West Siberia received awards as the world’s best project in Travel and tourism and Community engagement categories.

IPRA Golden World Awards (GWA) is the world’s most influential global public relations and communications competition.

IPRA GWA, established in 1990, recognizes excellence in public relations practice worldwide, taking into account such criteria as creativity, complexity of realization, and unique character of the project. World’s greatest communications and marketing experts and leaders, including representatives of the various largest enterprises, form the GWA jury.

 

 

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