Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The “Forces of No” are Market Forces

with 4 comments

Christy Clark is worried about the opposition her increasingly inappropriate policy direction has created

“There are people who just say no to everything, and heaven knows there are plenty of those in British Columbia,” said Clark.

Well, she has been pretty good at saying no herself: no to doing something about child poverty, for instance, or funding transit expansion. The real big issue she faces is the one she created for herself by going all in on LNG. The opposition to that is mainly due to local environmental impacts, but what is most likely to stop these projects is the way that demand for LNG has dropped while supplies are flooding on to the market. The prospects for any of the BC proposals being financially viable are somewhere between slim and none. Don’t take my word for it: read this report from The Brattle Group.

increasing competition has significant ramifications for the many LNG export projects now in development across North America and for buyers of LNG that have signed long-term contracts for export capacity from new North American LNG export projects. Many of the proposed projects that are not yet under construction are already facing an uncertain future due to the collapse of global oil and LNG prices. Additionally, the start-up of several new LNG projects in the next few years is likely to result in an over-supplied LNG market. LNG export developers and buyers of LNG that have signed long-term contracts for LNG export capacity are hopeful that the worldwide LNG supply glut is temporary and that market conditions in the post-2020 time frame will improve.

The Brattle Group are not in business just to say No to projects in BC.

And Scotiabank agrees with them, too!

And it is not just that the costs of wind and solar generation are falling, it is also that the problems of storing that power are getting solved too.

“Solar storage will become more competitive as new battery technology drives prices down, and wind storage more attractive as technical advances in areas such as composite materials enables the power generated by wind turbines to increase.”

That report is mainly about how to evaluate batteries, but there are other promising energy storage solutions too – like pumping water uphill, or pumping air into gas bags under a lake. There’s a good summary at The Guardian examining the options, from a UK perspective, of course.

And if the market forces are not convincing enough, there is also the impact of that agreement we signed in Paris to try to reduce global warming to no more than 1.5ºC. The physics of that mean that there cannot be any more new fossil fuel based power generation added by 2018.  It is not just the LNG plants and the pipelines that cannot be built if we are to hit this target.

Well-established science that says global CO2 emissions need to peak and decline before 2020. Wait until after 2020 and the costs of reducing emissions rise rapidly, as does the risk of exceeding 2°C. The 2018 deadline is consistent with this. It just happens to be a more meaningful way of looking at where we stand, and the consequences of the decisions being made today to build a school, a data center, or 10,000 diesel-powered farm tractors.

UPDATE And it would seem that the same Brattle report is inspiring Merran Smith to write about the possible impact of renewables too.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 28, 2016 at 10:05 am

4 Responses

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  1. A very notable take on fossil fuels in BC. Thanks for the numerous links!

    Here’s another, a summary from a report by geoscientist David Hughes who analyzed BC LNG with respect to the conditions of the rock formations, historical data, emissions and climate change, and world supply. Governments need to start shifting toward renewables very soon.

    https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2015/05/CCPA-BC-Clear-Look-LNG-SUMMARY_0.pdf

    MB

    January 28, 2016 at 11:25 am

  2. The links keep coming in – I have added several since this was first published.

    Stephen Rees

    January 28, 2016 at 11:59 am

  3. Just came across another utterly surprising article on geo-engineering for carbon absorption, but as found in the natural world. BIO-geo-engineering. Very illuminating, and comes with important Canadian examples regarding the boreal forest, soil and marine ecosystems that contain largely overlooked and much abused carbon sinks.

    Emissions reductions are obviously not enough alone, but coupled with better natural systems management practices that are revised to account for the carbon cycle — and I suggest better agricultural practices — we might just get climate change under control.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/how_natural_geo-engineering_can_help_slow_global_warming/2951/

    MB

    January 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm

  4. I also belatedly found another article on Yale e360 on the absolute devastation of the mountain pine beetle. It has now spread as far north as Yukon and east in to Saskatchewan. It’s well on its way into the heart of the great northern boreal forest which is one of the largest carbon sinks there is. This is disheartening news especially after reading the optimistic article linked in the post above this one.

    The scientist still thinks there is hope, notably I genetic research on the few trees unaffected by large beetle infestations, and into the bug’s physiology. But the spread is so rapid compared to the research progress.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/how_science_can_help_to_halt_the_western_bark_beetle_plague/2944/

    MB

    January 29, 2016 at 4:18 pm


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