Wall Street's War On Big Coal  

Posted by Big Gav in

Grist reports that new coal fired power plants have been "Mark(et)ed for Death" by Wall Street as concerns about future cap and trade schemes (or even better, carbon taxes) make the financial future of dirty energy infrastructure appear grim.

Three major investment banks, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, will announce new environmental standards today that are expected to make it more difficult for large coal-fired power plants in the United States to get funding. The standards anticipate some form of cap-and-trade program becoming law in the U.S. in coming years and seek to force utilities to plan for the inevitable; coal plants seeking funding would first have to prove they can be financially viable under a cap-and-trade system. The three banks said that they would consider funding energy efficiency measures and renewable-energy projects ahead of coal plants and that when funding coal projects they'll heavily favor plants that can successfully capture and sequester their carbon emissions. The banks maintain that their primary motivation for the standards is financial; Wall Street bigwigs don't want to be stuck with debt when coal plants are forced to pay for at least a portion of their emission allowances under cap and trade. Jeffrey Holzschuh of Morgan Stanley paraphrased Melissa Etheridge, crooning, "We have to wake up some people who are asleep."

In other news:

The Energy Blog has a related post on "Leading Wall Street Banks Establishing The Carbon Principles".

The Energy Blog also points to an interview with Charles Maxwell - summarising it as "Oil Shortages Start in 2010; Peak Oil Hits 2012-2015

In the wake of the cancellation of the FutureGen project, The New York Times asks Is Capturing CO2 a Pipe Dream?, while The Age notes the US move is a blow to Australian clean-coal projects.

TreeHugger has a report on the "The Aerogenerator" - a 9MW Vertical Axis wind turbine from Scottish company WindPower.

Tyler Hamilton has an article in Technology Review, reporting on"Flexible, Nanowire Solar Cells" that use "exotic materials and cheaper substrates" which could lead to better photovoltaics.

Renewable Energy Access has a post on two research projects that are using E. coli to create different types of fuel. In one project, researchers have "tweaked" E. coli so that it will produce hydrogen. In another, E. coli is being used to create higher-chain alcohols that can be used as a petrol substitute.

REA also has an article from Christopher Flavin of WorldWatch, arguing that "there are good reasons to think that the world may be on the verge of a major transformation of energy markets" in "The Final Tipping Point".

The BBC reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has attended the launch of a new high-speed train made by Alstom - the AGV (Automotrice Grande Vitesse) train will travel at up to 360km/h (224mph) with motors placed under each carriage.

Wired reports that MIT has launched a "Pervasive Environmental Sensor Program". This is good news from the point of view that we need good data on environmental changes in order to monitor the state of the world and to measure the effectiveness (or otherwise) of actions to restore it and mitigate negative changes. Wired notes that " the expansion of "global environmental sensor networks" is exactly what Jamais Cascio recommended yesterday in Foreign Policy to prevent the undetectable weaponizing of the climate".

Morgan Spurlock (of "Super Size Me" fame) has been the talk of the town at the Sundance movie festival, with his new film "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?'". Wasn't Dubya supposed to be doing something about catching him ? How many years has it been now ? And how much money has flowed into Saudi coffers (and those of Texas oil companies) during that time ?


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