Leaking more gas than Wales consumes

I thought I'd re-post this article from this evening's Channel 4 News on Williston, North Dakota, the centre of the current boom in fracking in the USA. The written version is here.

     

The line that particularly caught my attention was that the waste flares burn off the same amount of gas that Wales consumes and pays for ... the greenhouse gas equivalent of a million cars. Yet another indication that "the size of Wales" is an internationally recognized unit of measurement. In essence, the operators there are only really interested in the oil, and regard the methane released as a waste product. More about that here.

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Even though such a high level of waste is scandalous enough in itself, the problem is that not burning the methane that escapes is much worse than burning it, because methane is many times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

The idea behind fracking is to shatter rock formations to so as to release oil and gas that could otherwise not be extracted. But it is far from a precise process. One of the greatest dangers, even when the intention is to collect methane (as it would be in Britain), is that not all the methane released by fracking will be collected, and that it will eventually find its way to the surface in an uncontrolled way. This has always been known to be a problem, but it seems that the problem is far, far worse than had been thought. Only a few days ago it was reported that unburned methane emission rates in south west Pennsylvania were 1,000 times higher than had previously been estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Fracking might well be a way of helping to achieve energy self-sufficiency, but it is a complete disaster in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

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The sort of energy Wales really wants

While reading this post on the excellent Ynni Cymru website, I found out that a poll had been conducted last year about how people thought we should generate electricity in Wales.

The results are summarized here, and the full tables are available in pdf and spreadsheet form.

The first question was a general question about the place of wind energy.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement. "I support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and conventional forms of electricity generation."

Agree ... 64%
Neutral ... 12%
Disagree ... 21%

The second question asked whether people were generally for, neither for nor against, or generally against the development of different types of large-scale energy projects in their areas.

In general, would you be for or against the development of large-scale projects being built in your local council area involving each of the following energy sources?

Coal ... 38% for ... 23% neutral ... 31% against
Shale Gas ... 24% for ... 20% neutral ... 38% against
Gas (excluding shale gas) ... 42% for ... 25% neutral ... 22% against
Nuclear ... 27% for ... 16% neutral ... 48% against
Oil ... 30% for ... 32% neutral ... 27% against

Wind ... 64% for ... 11% neutral ... 20% against
Solar ... 82% for ... 8% neutral ... 5% against
Hydro ... 82% for ... 9% neutral ... 3% against
Bioenergy ... 56% for ... 18% neutral ... 9% against

The percentages in favour of renewable energy (the bottom four) are all remarkably high. It's interesting to note that, for wind energy, the figures for this second question are virtually identical to the figures for the first question. The first question is a general question, but the second is specifically about large scale development in people's own local area. This suggests that there is not much nimbyism in Wales about wind farms: those who are in favour of wind energy do not object to windfarms in their areas; and those who object to windfarms in their areas object to windfarms per se rather than because they are visible from their back yard.

More people in Wales are against nuclear energy than against any other form of power.

The third question asked people to choose from which one source they would prefer to receive the majority of their electricity.

In general, from which ONE of the following energy sources would you choose to receive the majority of your electricity?

Solar ... 26%
Hydro ... 23%
Wind ... 16%
Bioenergy ... 4%

Total for renewables ... 69%

Nuclear ... 10%
Gas (excluding shale gas) ... 4%
Coal ... 3%
Shale gas ... 1%
Oil ... 1%

Total for non-renewables ... 19%

Other ... 1%
Don't know ... 13%

Finally, there was a question on the impact of windfarms on tourism.

Generally speaking, would the presence of a wind farm affect or not affect your decision of visiting that area?

Would be affected ... 26%
Would not be affected ... 66%
Don't know ... 9%

I think results like these don't need much commentary. Overwhelmingly, we want our energy to be produced from renewable sources rather than from fossil fuels or nuclear. And, with our wealth of renewable resources, Wales is easily able to do this.

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OECD Report - Improving Schools in Wales

I had a bit of difficulty finding a link to the actual OECD report into the state of education in Wales, as reported by both the BBC and WalesOnline.

So to make it easier for others who are looking for it, it's here.

     

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The proposed e-smoking ban

I've just read this article by Victoria Winckler on the Bevan Foundation blog about the Welsh Government's proposed ban on smoking e-cigarettes in public places.

     

I agree with what she says and think it's well worth taking five minutes to read.

The real battle is to help people quit smoking tobacco, and e-cigarettes are more likely to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

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A real Jewell

Plaid Cymru is fortunate to have an excellent team of researchers, both in Cardiff and in Westminster. So it wasn't so much of a surprise to find out last night that Delyth Jewell has just won the Overall Researcher of the Year award at Westminster.

The panel of judges, made up of MPs, peers and the National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses which sponsors the event, said that her work on the stalking bill “went far beyond what would be asked of a researcher”.

     

In case anyone is wondering why she's holding two trophies, it's because she also won the award for Crossbench or Other Parties’ Researcher of the Year.

More details here.

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The Daily Wales and Wales Weekly

In the past couple of weeks I've come across two brand new online news sites for Wales which I think deserve wider attention.

The Daily Wales is now a month old, and publishes several articles each day.
 
 

       

 
Wales Weekly appears to have been going since the beginning of February, and publishes a few dozen articles each Thursday.

Wales is a nation with remarkably few home grown media outlets, so these two online sites are very welcome, and I wish them all the best.

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Catalunya's referendum

There was a report about the upcoming referendum on independence for Catalunya on Newyddion 9 this evening.

As it doesn't seem to be on the BBC website, I thought it would be a good idea to put it here for anyone who might have missed it.

     
 

 
Update - 11:51, 21 March 2014

The BBC have now put the report on their website, here, though without the video. That's good, because it means people can use Google or Bing to translate it.

But it does seem strange that there is no English language version of the story. If the BBC go to the trouble and expense of sending out a reporter and film crew to Barcelona, they could produce an English version as well with minimal extra work and at virtually no extra cost. Mind you, the same is true the other way round too.

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