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The Chilean government and the country’s main energy generators this week announced a plan to gradually phase-out coal-fired generation, which currently accounts for some 40% of Chile’s power mix.
Danish utility Orsted, formerly Dong, reported a 2% dip in its bioenergy and thermal power generation over 2017, though any EUA demand decrease is likely to be understated as more of its output was fuelled by wood deemed carbon neutral.
EU carbon prices ended little changed on Thursday in a volatile session that followed a major jump back above €9 the previous day.
WCI carbon permits eased throughout the week as traders took positions ahead of the first auction of 2018, while RGGI prices climbed to a three-month high on optimism surrounding new membership.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Cuts so deep – The Trump administration is working to implement deep cuts in the Department of Energy’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes, the Washington Post reports. According to draft 2019 budget documents reviewed by the Post, the White House plans to ask Congress in February for an overall 72% cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which currently operates on a $2 billion budget. (Climate Nexus)
Here to help – News of the proposed cuts came the same day that Department of Energy official Doug Matheney told an audience at a West Virginia coal conference “The good news is I’m with the federal government and I’m here to help … I’m not a researcher, I’m not a scientist, I’m an advocate for the coal industry,” the Hill reports. “I went to Washington DC, for one purpose and that was to help create coal jobs in the United States. That’s my total purpose for being there.” Axios notes that “this is an incredibly blunt, politically transparent admission of Trump’s pro-coal agenda. Politicians of all stripes often push policies that favour one type of energy source over another, but department officials don’t usually articulate it quite so clearly.”
Renewing the fight – China’s environment ministry is finalising a three-year plan to combat air pollution, a spokesman said Thursday, after the previous policy, which focused on shutting down old, inefficient coal plants and factories, expired at the end of last year. The area around Beijing and Tianjin will remain the main focus of the strategy, but measures will also be taken around the Yangtze River delta, in the northeast, and in the region around Chongqing and Chengdu in western China, Reuters reported.
Better late than never – China’s oil- and coal-rich Shaanxi province has asked its carbon-intensive companies to report annual emissions of all six greenhouse gas emissions, starting with 2017 data, the local government said. The data will eventually be used as basis for setting caps in the provincial emissions trading scheme. The reporting requirement will initially cover installations emitting more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2e annually, but will be expanded to any firms with output above 26,000 tonnes/year – the national ETS threshold – from 2020. The data must be submitted in March every year.
Build a lot, waste a little – Installed solar power capacity in China reached 53 GW in 2017, the China Electricity Council said Thursday, a staggering 53.6% year-on-year growth that maintains the nation’s position as the world’s top solar energy generator. According to the agency, some 6% of all solar power generated last year was wasted though, a figure it aims to bring below 5% this year.
Assembly required – Maryland advanced Senate Bill 290 today, which, if passed, would mean the state would only be able to leave RGGI if the General Assembly approves it. This would prevent governors from unilaterally pulling Maryland out of RGGI, just as New Jersey’s Chris Christie did in late 2011. If enacted, the rule would take effect Oct. 1, 2018.
What tax? – Carbon taxes have not had an ‘economically important’ impact on North American energy producers, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. The study found that Canadian oil & gas producers are less competitive than their US counterparts, but the disadvantage is due to Canada’s restricted market access rather than its price on emissions. The impact of carbon pricing is relatively minor and even smaller in areas with an output-based rebate, such as Alberta. Lack of market access had by far the largest effect on competitiveness, but will likely be addressed in the near future as three major pipeline expansions have been approved.
Bamboo blockchain – Vietnam’s Bamboo Capital has signed a memorandum of understanding with Singapore’s New Era Energy to pilot carbon credit trading on blockchain. New Era will also invest US$50 million to develop BCG’s solar and wind projects this year as part of its commitment to accelerate clean energy adoption in Southeast Asia. New Era is a blockchain-enabled certification platform for measuring the clean energy footprint that aims to take the carbon trading market to the masses.
And finally… We’ll have to do it the hard way – Technologies to take CO2 out of the atmosphere have been increasingly hailed as a potential solution to climate change as the world is moving too slowly in cutting emissions. But a new study by the European Academies Science Advisory Council concluded that most geoengineering options are either too costly, too risky, or both. “Negative emissions technologies are very interesting but they are not an alternative to deep and rapid emissions reductions. These remain the safest and most reliable option that we have,” the authors said, according to the Guardian. One large facility in in Switzerland is capable of removing CO2 from the air, but its capacity is a mere 1,000 tonnes per year, and it costs them around $600 per tonne. Other options such as bioenergy require far too much space and could have huge environmental downsides if implemented, the report concluded.
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