Volume 1, Issue 5
February 29, 2016 – March 6, 2016
Jason Mulderrig | Anushka Dasgupta

Oil and Gas:
Aubrey McClendon Attracted Controversy, Outrage, and Lots of Natural Gas http://fortune.com/2016/03/03/aubrey-mcclendon-chesapeake-energy-natural-gas/
March 3, 2016 | Cyrus Sanati                                                                                                              In the past few weeks, the Power Surge has covered the floundering of the Chesapeake Energy. Things got even worse for Chesapeake Energy this week when their chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, was indicted on charges of bid rigging on Tuesday. Then, the next day, McClendon tragically died in a fiery single car crash in Oklahoma City. That brought the end to a man who was super influential in building up the American natural gas industry, partucilarly through his work at Chesapeake. However, McClendon was also known for malpractice. For instance, in 2008, at the height of the market panic on Wall Street, Chesapeake shareholders suffered (and eventually sued) when McClendon sold 94% of his personal stock in Chesapeake, and then took home the highest CEO salary in the nation that year. Reuters also revealed that McClendon was running a secret $200 million natural gas hedge fund – a blatant breach of conflict-of-interest for McClendon. Finally, in the late 2000s, McClendon secretly borrowed over $1 billion from companies linked to Chesapeake to buy personal stakes in various natural gas wells. In McClendon’s death, we are reminded that even though he helped build up the US energy industry, he emerged without his hands completely clean. -JPM

Can fracking power Europe?                                                          http://www.nature.com/news/can-fracking-power-europe-1.19464
March 1, 2016 | Mason Inman                                                                                                               In response to the success of the US shale boom in the late 2000s and early 2010s, several European countries have been investigating the viability of fracking to increase their oil output. A successful fracking front would stimulate the economy of European countries, increase their energy independence, and loosen their reliance on Russia for their energy needs. However, only two European countries have given a serious effort to fracking, and both have been unsuccessful thus far. The first, Poland, was once predicted by a study conducted by an American energy consulting firm to have 5,295 billion cubic metres of recoverable gas. However, Poland’s gas potential has been found to be dramatically lower than predicted due to the extreme depth of the gas deposits and the richness of undesirable clay in those deposits. The other country, the UK, has a lower potential of recoverable gas, but is pursuing fracking due to extreme reliance on energy imports and the desire to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025. However, due to several earthquakes caused by fracking and public outcry for the unaesthetic nature of fracking equipment, fracking process has slowed down considerably in the UK. -JPM

China Cuts Coal Use for Second Year in a Row                                           http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-cuts-coal-use-for-second-year-in-a-row/
March 1, 2016 | Jean Chemnick                                                                                                        China announced last Monday that its coal consumption decreased for the second year in a row. This announcement bodes well for China’s commitment towards the pledges made at the COP21 conference in Paris this past December. The fall in Chinese coal consumption is influenced by the recent economic slowdown in China, a reordering of the Chinese economy by its government from heavy industry-centered economy to a more service-oriented economy, and an attack by the government on air pollution. Even though this announcement came as good news to many, a major question remains: How accurate is the data that China is releasing? This question needs to be asked because studies have shown that China has severely-underreported its coal usage in the past. Even though China’s energy reporting has not been the most reliable in the past, this announcement still comes as good news for those hopeful that China will lead the world towards meeting the COP21 standards. -JPM

China Includes Green Cap in Economic Blueprint                                         http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-includes-green-cap-in-economic-blueprint-1457164553   https://global.factiva.com/ha/default.aspx#./!?&_suid=1457197999482047886442798873374
March 5, 2016 | Brian Spegele                                                                                                        Note: The first link provided above leads to the article on the Wall Street Journal website, which requires a subscription to access. As usual, we include a second link to the article in the Factiva database – log in using your Princeton netid and password!                                                                                 On Saturday, the Chinese government released its draft of an economic blueprint for the next five years – and for the first time, the blueprint includes a what WSJ calls a “hard energy-consumption cap.” Although China is targeting an average economic growth rate of 6.5% each year for the next five years, the government promises to cap energy consumption at the equivalent of 5 billion metric tons of coal by 2020. Interestingly, it will also push for the growth of its natural gas industry. Some see this move as a commitment to clean energy and the environment, especially in light of last year’s Paris talks on climate change.                                                                                 Read the short Bloomberg article below for the alternate viewpoint that China’s consumption was slowing on its own and that the cap will require little planning to achieve. -AD

China Sets Energy Consumption Cap Researcher Deems “Loose”                                       http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-05/china-sets-energy-consumption-cap-that-researcher-deems-loose
March 5, 2016 | Bloomberg News

First Solar’s Cells Break New Efficiency Record                            https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600922/first-solars-cells-break-efficiency-record/#/set/id/600946/
March 3, 2016 | Richard Martin                                                                                                         First Solar, the major American manufacturer of commercial cadmium telluride solar panels, has announced record-breaking efficiencies in its new experimental solar cells. Although conventional silicon solar cells power 90 percent of today’s solar energy market, cadmium telluride cells have a higher theoretical efficiency – above 30 percent photovoltaic conversion. First Solar says it has achieved 22.1 percent efficiency. While many CdTe solar manufacturers have struggled in recent years (General Electric went back on plans for a $300 million plant in 2013), First Solar has grown by focusing on utility rather than rooftop power, and expanding its research and development team. In theory, solar thin film technology is cheaper and easier to manufacture than silicon. Companies such as First Solar are pushing to make it truly commercially viable. -AD