Energy Flux yearbook: 2020

Deep-dives written from the dour depths of lockdown

This is where it all started — critical long-form analysis of the energy transition written from the dour depths of the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns. All these posts are free to view (no paywall).

Energy Flux
Beyond Exxon: Why a desperate mega-merger with BP might finally make sense
Spare a thought for ExxonMobil shareholders. While the S&P 500 has rebounded from April’s Covid crash to hit a series of all-time highs this autumn, XOM stock is still down 40% year-to-date despite the recent vaccine-inspired market euphoria that has lifted Brent crude back above USD 50 per barrel…
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Energy Flux
System change or climate change: Why Biden must abandon his bipartisan instincts
Since Joe Biden emerged as US president-elect, jubilant commentators on energy and climate matters have been falling over each other to highlight the many progressive climate measures that a Democratic administration could implement, even without control of the Senate. Tools at the president’s disposal include executive orders, appointing climate expert…
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Energy Flux
Jumping on the bandwagon: EDF embraces hydrogen and carbon capture in bid to keep Sizewell C relevant
How times change. Secure, baseload generation has been the main selling point of nuclear power for decades: the promise of a reliable source of electricity, generating constantly around the clock, 24/7, has mesmerised UK energy policymakers since the first civil nuclear power station came online in the 1960s…
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Energy Flux
The economic imperative: Recession and social injustice imperil the energy transition
When the economy booms, so do anthropogenic emissions of climate-warming gases. This year, the inverse happened. The pandemic plunged the global economy into its most severe contraction since the Great Depression. Energy-related emissions, which were on a hockey-stick trajectory…
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Energy Flux
Lipstick, meet pig: US frackers’ hopeless ESG beauty parade won’t wash with investors
The US fracking industry is redoubling efforts to convince investors that the energy transition will not put it out of business. Amid last month’s frenzy of defensive merger and acquisition deals in the North American shale patch, companies responsible for not insignificant amounts of natural gas flaring, venting and methane leaks—not to mention the pro…
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Energy Flux
No more gaslighting: Let’s get real about carbon capture and storage
Is anybody in the energy sector prepared to contemplate a decarbonised future without technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions? If not, then how exactly are such installations going to be paid for? As wildfires, hurricanes and floods offer early signs of just how devastating runaway climate change could be, these are two question tha…
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Energy Flux
The shape of change: Incipient megatrends point to multiverse of intertwined energy transitions
The energy transition has barely begun, and its ultimate destination is today unknowable. But several authoritative reports* released recently by the likes of BP, DNV GL and Morgan Stanley offer insights into the forces driving the overall direction of travel. Long-term forecasts and scenario modelling do not lend themselves to concrete conclusions—rath…
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Energy Flux
Policy miasma: Failure to crack down on methane emissions thwarts EU’s ‘clean hydrogen’ push
The European Commission has done more than probably any international body to advance the issue of climate neutrality on the world stage. Its European Green Deal has set in motion an ambitious policy package intended to set the 27-member bloc on a path towards ‘net zero’ climate emissions by 2050…
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Energy Flux
Backs to the wall: Oil exporting countries double down on fossil fuel subsidies
Fossil fuel-exporting countries are losing touch with their customers. As major import-reliant economies in Europe and Asia funnel large pots of Covid-19 stimulus funding into cleaner sources of energy, the suppliers that they still depend upon for natural gas, oil and coal are doubling down on fossil fuel subsidies—in the hope of keeping their flagship…
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Energy Flux
Diversify, consolidate or die: Energy transition poses stark choices to mid-sized oil companies
US oil supermajor Chevron’s headline-grabbing USD 13 billion deal to acquire independent outfit Noble Energy was hailed in some quarters as proof that Big Oil is far from dead and buried, no matter what the fossil fuel divest movement might say. Battered and bruised, the supermajors still have a lot of life left in them. Armed with enviable credit rating…
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Energy Flux
Lost in transition: Big Oil searches for purpose as peak demand looms
The oil industry is about to enter its final phase: managed decline. Even if there is a strong post-pandemic economic recovery that boosts oil prices at some in the 2020s, it will be Big Oil’s ‘last hurrah’ before global demand peaks definitively and gradually tapers off. Some say this might have happened…
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Energy Flux
Moscow manoeuvres to neutralise threat from Europe’s latest hydrogen push
European policies on climate emissions and clean energy are reshaping the balance of power between the EU and one of its main external energy suppliers: Russia. Europe’s headlong rush to replace natural gas with clean hydrogen has prompted a strategic rethink at Gazprom, Russia’s state gas company that holds the monopoly over Russian pipeline gas exports…
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