Here's what we're reading in the top stories in energy news today: Insider whistleblowing on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, more nations eyeing shale gas for energy independence never mind the increased greenhouse gas emissions, more fingerpointing over cleaning up after the BP spill, and more.
Whistleblowing Pipeline Inspector Calls Keystone XL Pipeline Potential "Disaster"
ThinkProgress has the critical quote from Mike Klink, a former inspector for mega-contractor Bechtel who worked on TransCanada's original Keystone pipeline. "Let's be clear, I'm an engineer. I am not telling you we shouldn't build pipelines. We just should not build this one," Klink says about Keystone XL. Klink was fired by Bechtel after he raised concerns about "shoddy materials and poor craftsmanship" of that pipeline.
Remember, it's not just the US northeast that's going crazy over shale gas and fracking. IPS News reports on how oil and gas-dependent nations such as Chile, Paraguay, Poland and Ukraine are now banking on shale gas to make them energy independent, and maybe even turn them into gas exporters. More groundwater contamination, small-scale earthquakes, and increased carbon emissions anyone?
BP Sues Halliburton Over Deepwater Horizon Clean Up Costs
More finger-pointing over the worst oil spill in US history: In a New Orleans courts BP has sued Halliburton for an unspecified amount of damages, but is seeking "the amount of costs an expenses incurred by BP to clean up an remediate the oil spill, the lost profits from and/or diminution in value of the Macondo prospect, and all other costs and damages incurred by BP related to the Deepwater Horizon incident and resulting oil spill," The Guardian reports. BP places estimated clean-up costs alone, let alone lost revenue, at $42 billion.
Economics of Storing Electricity From Solar Thermal Plants Is Convoluted
Interesting piece in the New York Times:
The economics of a plant that can store bulk amounts of energy are a bit arcane. At the simplest level the idea is to gather the sun's heat when it is available and save it until prices for electricity reach a peak. At the moment, though, prices peak when the sun is high in the sky, because that is when the demand for power, mostly for air-conditioning, is highest. Some experts think it will be years before the power system is so saturated with solar photovoltaics that thermal storage becomes worthwhile.
Europe The Hottest Market For Smart Meters
GTM Research forecasts that with the smart meter market slowing in the US, and a mandate for 80% of European houses to have smart meters by 2020, Europe will be the hottest smart meter market for the next few years. 100 million more smart meters are expected to be installed there by 2016. But, "residential demand response programs will not have the same appeal in Europe since the average household usage there is less than half what it is in the US."