Cambridge Energy Logo
This is the April 2006 issue of the
Cambridge Energy Forum members' newsletter

Since our last newsletter in November, gas and oil prices have shot up, there has been a great deal of activity in the world nuclear industry, President Bush has said that the USA is "addicted to oil" and the general perceptions that hydrocarbon supplies are peaking and that hybrid cars are not actually more efficient than diesels have been taking hold in the world's media.

LED Luminous Efficiency Breakthrough Nichia Corp. has for the first time beaten the efficiency of a fluorescent light with an LED more...

UK Nuclear Waste Disposal Committee produced its draft report on April 27th more...

Cambridge MP appointed Liberal Democrat Energy Spokesperson more...

Hybrid Prius is less efficient than Audi Quattro: gasoline hybrids often emit more CO2 than ordinary diesel cars more...

UK Gas Prices Quadrupled in one day on Monday March 13th more...

Lord Browne (BP) in Cambridge in February gave a seminar at the Judge Business School more...

California law limiting CO2 to 1990 levels introduced into the state congress more...

CMR Fuel Cells have a new partnership with Solvay SA and have been granted a core Chinese patent more...

Danish Carbon Capture plant begun: the world's largest carbon capture pilot plant more...

The International Energy Agency's Report on Nuclear New Build indicates that a nuclear renaissance is clearly already underway, irrespective of any energy choices made in the UK more...

The Social Cost of Carbon is now a serious concern at DEFRA more...

Chinese nuclear plans include two reactors immediately, one a year for 10 years and then two a year. Russia and China are planning oil and gas pipelines more...

Europe's Largest Onshore Windfarm has been approved for construction in Scotland more...

The Head of Royal Dutch Shell said the "scientific advice is now clear" that human activities are causing climate change, calling for less carbon-intensive ways to use traditional energy rather than aggressive moves toward alternatives, but "the risk to delay action is too great." more...

The Sustainable Development Round Table produced a response to the Energy Review by the SDRT Eastern Region Energy Group more...

DTI Technology Programme The DTI has announced the Spring 2006 round of grants for its Technology Programme; there are initiatives more...

Cambridge Energy Forum Meeting on 15th March 2006 The problem of the oil peak and the nuclear and solar responses more...

An online copy of this newsletter can be read at:
The previous newsletter can be read at:

LEDs achieve 113 lumens/Watt. Fluorescent tubes produce about 70 lumens/Watt and ordinary incandescent lightbulbs only 17 lumens/Watt. It has been widely expected that LEDs would achieve parity with fluorescents sometime before 2010; but Nichia's success so early was unexpected. The physics of LED operation put a limit on LEDs of about 300 lumens/Watt, but practical limits, such as getting the light out of the chip and into the air, imply a likely limit of 150-200 lumens/Watt.

A likely niche application for LED lighting is in cold stores and freezer cabinets where the energy cost is not just that of the lighting, it is the refrigeration cost of removing the waste heat.

Nuclear Waste Disposal Committee Report. After 3 years, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has released draft recommendations. These are that "[deep] geological disposal is the best end point for managing our waste" but that surface interim storage facilities, perhaps for some decades, are "absolutely essential". It should be noted that surface storage for 100 years or so dramatically reduces the amount of heat generated which must be dealt with in a permanent storage facility, thus making the permanent storage system somewhat cheaper and more robust. "The majority of earth scientists believe that geological disposal in a well-chosen geological environment is the right means of dealing with these wastes."

The government has an overall plan determining how government strategies should be produced. This is an overall framework into which tasks such as the energy review and the nuclear waste review are meant to be run.

Cambridge MP David Howarth. Mr. Howarth will speak for the Liberal Democrats on energy policy and will be part of the Shadow Department of Trade and Industry team. Mr. Howarth's opposite number on the Government bench is the Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks MP. Mr. Howarth commented: "The need to combat global warming and find sustainable forms of energy is one of the most pressing political issues of our time."

Hybrid cars are not necessarily the answer, a recent review in April showed that European diesel cars are more efficient than gasoline hybrids, and very significantly cheaper. The problem is that US particulate emission regulations forbid these vehicles in most American states; though this may change when cleaner diesel fuel becomes available in the USA. Diesel hybrids have much less efficiency advantage over a non-hybrid than the gasoline equivalent, but a diesel hybrid may reduce particulate emissions very significantly which would encourage adoption in the USA.

UK wholesale gas prices shot up in March because of concerns over supply, a cold snap and because the UK's largest gas storage system (the Rough field) was out of action due to a fire. The background is a steady rise in gas prices because of uncertainty over the Russia-Ukraine dispute and because gas prices tend to rise when oil prices do - and oil prices are now above $75/barrel.

Lord Browne of Madingley, group chief executive of BP, gave a lecture on doing business in China where he said there are two challenges: the first is the energy supply and the second is the environmental impact of that energy consumption. He believes that biofuels have a big future in China though there are concerns about water supply. Globally, "the underlying facts are that energy demand is growing and that available supplies are coming from a very limited number of places, and the environmental damage could damage all of us". He pointed out that significant quantities of oil are being produced by fewer and fewer countries and that by 2015, 4/5 of world supply will come from just Russia and the Persian Gulf.

In a discussion about Putin and whether energy is to be a lever of power or a basis of commerce, Browne politely did not point out that it has always been both, but did say that East Siberia is the greatest undeveloped oil area in the world. When a questioner asked about the "inevitable" future energy conflicts between China and the USA over the energy resources of Iran, Lord Browne rejected the idea that any conflict was inevitable, and said that it is all about "building metastable equilibria from time to time".

Lord Browne said that with coal "we have a choice of technology" in that coal can be processed to produce "hydrogen, alcohols or other fluids". When questioned on carbon trading, he said "this is a good start" on the issue of governments enforcing companies to pay for all the externalities of their operations. The way he phrased some of his responses also indicated that he was familiar with the economic academic literature in energy supply and global development, which was entirely suitable for an audience of MBAs at the business school.

A bill limiting CO2 to 1990 levels in California by 2020 began the process of becoming law in April. It will also require the state's Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish a mandatory reporting system to track and monitor emission levels. ''We believe that if left unchecked, global warming threatens our air quality; it threatens our water supply; it threatens our coastlines, and our public health,'' Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, a co-author of the bill, said at a news conference. ''But it also threatens the reliability of our power grid and some of the state's largest and most important industries such as agriculture, skiing, forestry and tourism.''

CMR Fuel Cells (Harston, Cambridge) has entered into a joint development collaboration in April with Solvay SA. They will work to produce high performance porous membranes for use in CMR's high power density 'compact mixed-reactant' fuel cell stacks. Solvay SA is an International Pharmaceutical and Chemicals Group with annual sales of over €8.6billion. CMR announced the full grant of a core patent in China in March.

The Elsam power station carbon capture plant near Esbjerg, Denmark, was inaugurated in March. This is part of the 6th Framework Programme demonstration project CASTOR. The EU also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Government on Near Zero Emission Power Plant Technology.

New Nuclear Build - IEA. In December 2005, one of Canada's largest power companies announced a Can$4.25 billion (US$3.6 billion) investment to rebuild two reactors that have stood idle for nearly 10 years on Lake Huron. The Ontario Power Authority proposed plans to build 12 new nuclear plants to help phase out Ontario's coal-fired power stations.

Two 1600-MW European PWRs are being built, one in Finland and one in France, with respective power-up dates of 2008 and 2012. On 5 January, France's president, Jacques Chirac, announced plans for an expansion of renewable and nuclear energy sources for France, including a PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor) by 2020.

Iran is building two Russian-designed reactors, the first of which should go on line in 2006. India has nine power plants under construction, including a fast-breeder reactor, and the first South African PBMR is set to be completed in 2012. Russia is currently constructing several reactors, including an 800-MW fast neutron reactor.

Japan is building five new power plants by 2010, and six countries—Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, and Turkey—may build two to five PWRs each, while Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland are now reevaluating plans to phase-out nuclear power.

In the US Congress 2005 energy bill, tax credits worth $3.1 billion, along with liability protection and compensation for legislative delays, were awarded to the nuclear industry. Also, on 30 December 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certified the design of a new reactor—the 1000-MW Westinghouse advanced passive (AP) reactor. There are plans for 9 new reactors: a mix of AP-1000s, GE simplified boiling water reactors and European PWRs.

DEFRA has a significant effort in analysing the Social Cost of Carbon: reviewed in detail on their website. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is due to report in Autumn 2006 and already this has shown the need to develop several new types of economic theory to cope with this complex subject.

A rough estimate £35 to £140/tC has been made of the social cost of carbon emissions.

Two Chinese nuclear reactors are to be built in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, it was announced in February. By 2020 the installed capacity of nuclear electricity generation will rise to 40GW; 4% of the installed capacity and 6% of the power production. Today there are 9 plants producing 7 GW. These new plants will be 27, probably domestically designed, nuclear reactors; though Russia will be tendering for "every one". Russia is currently helping to build two reactors in East China which are due for completion in 2006. China sees nuclear technology as a major export opportunity, and is building its second of four power plants for Pakistan.

From 2010, Australia will be providing China with 20,000 tonnes of uranium a year, according to a contract signed in early April 2006 by Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Premier Wen Jiabao.

President Putin met President Hu Jintao in Beijing in march and signed a broad agreement on energy cooperation. Russia intends to sell oil and particularly gas to China, and new pipelines are being planned which may carry up to 80 billion cubic metres of gas and 30 million tonnes of oil a year.

Russia is planning 40 new reactors by 2030, and also wants to offer fuel reprocessing facilities to developing countries, to enable them to develop nuclear power without increasing proliferation risks.

A 322 MW onshore windfarm south of Glasgow has been approved. ScottishPower’s £300 million, 140 turbine Whitelee wind farm project will cover 55km2 of open moorland and commercial forestry. Construction at the site will start this summer, with the first units becoming operational in 2008. The whole wind farm is expected to be completed by the summer of 2009.

Van der Veer, head of Royal Dutch Shell spoke at International Petroleum Week in London in February. He said that Shell supports alternative energy sources but only as a longer-term goal: "the reality is that fossil fuels are likely to remain a central part of the energy mix for many decades ahead". He said the world is not nearing "peak oil," especially when unconventional sources are taken into account. Shell is working on the Miller decarbonised fuels project that will capture the carbon dioxide from a power plant and use it for enhanced oil recovery in the Miller field in the North Sea.

In March, Shell and Statoil announced a $1.4 billion carbon sequestration project: Statoil will build an 860-MW gas-fired power plant at Tjeldbergodden and CO2 will be separated from the power plant's exhaust and sent via pipeline to Shell's Draugen and Heidrun offshore oil fields to be used for enhanced oil recovery. Potentially, 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 will be stored annually in the two fields.

SDRT Eastern Region Energy Group submitted its response to the Energy Review. They prioritised "joined up government" in getting the government departments to work together better, and more long-term market-based instruments to create certainty in investment. On demand, they wanted more emphasis on energy efficiency; and on supply, more emphasis on innovation. Long term, more was needed they thought to incentivise local government properly, and again, longer term (at least 5 years) timescales for programmes such as Clear Skies, Low Carbon Buildings, Renewable Obligations etc.

DTI Technology Programme
The DTI has announced that this Spring's round of grants for its Collaborative R&D Projects opened on 26th April 2006; and there is a deadline of 24th of May for registering your intention to put in a proposal. Outline applications are due by 19th June. There are initiatives in "Low Carbon Energy", "Oil and Gas Technology", and "Energy Efficiency Technologies" among others.

The DTI's "Strategy for developing carbon abatement technologies for fossil fuel use" was published in June 2005 (74 pages) and should be carefully read by anyone applying for grants involving fossil fuels. The three issues are: higher efficiency, mixed biomass firing and carbon storage.

The Cambridge Energy Forum organised several meetings involving those who have expressed interest to form one or more consortia to apply for these grants for the Autumn 2005 round, and we will do this again for this round. There are groups interested in various types of solar electric generation, nuclear disposal, power semiconductors, and carbon dioxide subsea storage. Please email to find out more about the consortia being put together. St John's Innovation Centre can also provide free assistance to anyone in the East of England who is interested in preparing a proposal.

Next Forum Meeting will be on 28th June 2006
Our next speaker meeting will be on the theme of Energy Demand Management: Increasing Effectiveness and Efficiency and will be in central Cambridge on Wednesday June 28th.

Our Last Forum Meeting was on 15th March 20065
Our speaker meeting retrospective from the point of view of 2050 was a great success. Presentations and a report of the audience discussion will available soon for download at

Please recommend us
Please tell your colleagues and friends about the benefits of membership. Please also ask your organisation if it would like to become a Advisory Member or a Principal Backer of the forum with associated benefits in promotion for what your organisation is trying to do:

Philip Sargent
Hugh Parnell
Tim Jervis
Mark Haslett

Cambridge Energy Forum

The newsletter is distributed only to fully-paid members of the Cambridge Energy Forum.
Please only forward parts of it selectively to non-members.

Strategy Guide:
DEFRA Carbon Cost:
Hybrid cars: