At Davos, bosses paint climate change as an opportunity | Reuters

It seems that leaders in Australia are in the minority when it comes to seizing the opportunity presented by climate change. One need only look to our North and learn from China’s approach to this challenge. 

The Global Risks Report 2018 | WEF

Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on. Read more or download the full report here

Frydenberg Factcheck: Is S.A really burning 80,000l of diesel an hour to keep lights on? | Renew Economy

If you were unlucky enough to catch Josh Frydenberg’s recent ‘car crash’ of an interview, where he tried to spin Australia’s fourth consecutive year of growing greenhouse emissions as nothing but good news, your ears might have pricked up at the claim that South Australia and Victoria have had to bring in ‘expensive and polluting’ diesel generators and that South Australia in particular is burning ‘80,000 litres of diesel an hour, just to keep the lights on’.

With so many half-truths floating about in the so called ‘energy debate’, it’s worth unpacking this claim. Read more

Chaos Theory in Action | CEAG Liz Bossley

The overhaul of the regulatory regime for financial instruments, including commodities, since the banking crash of 2008 constitutes a lot more than the archetypal “butterfly flapping its wings” of chaos theory.  So we should not be surprised to see far-reaching and unintended consequences in the market from the flapping of the weighty Dodd Frank and EMIR/MiFID wings of legislation.

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Better the Devil You Know: Changes in the commodity market over the last 10 years | Lindsay Horn

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Less than 10 years ago the Wall Street Banks were on top of the oil trading heap and their client business in derivatives was an important source of profit for the banks and a major entry point for any corporate hedger. 

Things have changes in the last 10 years.

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Loy Yang B failure sends prices soaring, triggers supply safeguards | SMH

The Australian Energy Market Operator has kicked off emergency measures to protect power supply after Victoria's Loy Yang B brown coal-fired power station failed on Thursday afternoon, sending electricity spot prices soaring.

As temperatures rose around southern Australia Loy Yang B's generators failed at around 4pm, instantly taking around 528 megawatts of energy out of the state’s grid.

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How CO2 transparency helps companies grow | World Economic Forum

Studies show that companies that take steps to operate more sustainably outperform their peers in terms of shareholder return. In a recent study from the Henley Business School, researchers examined the relationship between carbon emission disclosures and financial performance for UK companies. They found that the mere act of disclosure results in improved share price performance, and that there is “a significant positive relation between corporate carbon disclosure and corporate financial performance”.

In another study, Harvard researchers examined the future financial impact of material and immaterial sustainability investments. Using SASB’s framework for materiality, they were able to determine that firms with strong ratings on material sustainability issues outperform their peers with inferior ratings. Specifically, they found that top performers achieved an estimated annualized alpha of positive 4.83%, while firms that made no investments had an estimated annualized alpha of negative 2.20%.

In October, Boston Consulting Group released a report that agreed – “investors rewarded top performers in specific ESG topics with valuation multiples that were 3% to 19% higher… than median performers”. In addition, they found that top performers had margins that were up to 12.4% higher. It is irrelevant whether this is due to correlation (executive teams that understand the need for sustainable business operations are better managers overall), or causation (because of their superior sustainability efforts, these executives are creating brand value and customer allegiance that enables them to financially outperform); there is credible evidence that sustainability disclosure can help investors make better decisions.

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Levelized Cost of Energy 2017 | Lazard

Lazard has conducted this study comparing the levelized cost of energy for various conventional and Alternative Energy generation technologies in order to understand which Alternative Energy generation technologies may be cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, either now or in the future, and under various operating assumptions, as well as to understand which technologies are best suited for various applications based on locational requirements, dispatch characteristics and other factors. We find that Alternative Energy technologies are complementary to conventional generation technologies, and believe that their use will be increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons, including RPS requirements, carbon regulations, continually improving economics as underlying technologies improve and production volumes increase, and government subsidies in certain regions. 

Download the full report here

China in 2017 | IEEFA, Tim Buckley

In 2017, China has continued to be the world’s dominant force in the building and financing of clean energy technology globally. Indications are that renewable energy will dominate global power capacity additions for at least the next two decades. China is preparing now to lead this new energy world. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement along with an increased U.S. government emphasis on coal and away from renewables is at odds with the direction being taken by China. 

"The clean energy market is growing at a rapid pace and China is setting itself up as a global technology leader whilst the U.S. government looks the other way,” Buckley said. Although China isn’t necessarily intending to fill the climate leadership void left by the U.S. withdrawal from Paris, it will certainly be very comfortable providing technology leadership and financial capacity so as to dominate fast-growing sectors such as solar energy, electric vehicles and batteries.

Download the full report here.

FERC gives Perry plan the cold shoulder | Politico

FERC (the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is going back to the drawing board on how to gauge the power grid's resilience after the five commissioners unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry's plan to prop up coal-fired and nuclear power plants Monday. After delivering a forceful defeat to the former Texas governor's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and coal plants alike, the agency ordered U.S. grid operators to submit additional information about their ability to judge "naturally occurring and man-made threats" to their systems within 60 days, punting any potential action until at least April — and that’s only if the agency decides to act at all.  More

Colorado’s renewables revolution gathers steam | Carbon Tracker

On 28 December 2017, Xcel Energy filed their Electric Resource Plan (ERP) for Colorado. Over 350 proposals for renewable energy were received by Xcel Energy and highlight the incredible cost reductions in renewable energy with storage. According to the filing, the median bid price for wind plus storage was $21/MWh and for solar plus storage was $36/MWh. Around 26 GW of solar and wind with storage were bid.

  • The filing shows the median bid price for wind plus storage was $21/MWh and for solar plus storage was $36/MWh. As far as we know, these are the lowest renewables plus storage bids in the US to date.
  • Several details remain unknown, but the median bid for wind plus storage appears to be lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado, while the median solar plus storage bid could be lower than 74% of operating coal capacity.
  • New research shows US coal burn declined 2% y-o-y, confirming coal is not coming back and will likely remain at the mercy of cheap gas and renewables.

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British billionaire who saved the Whyalla steelworks has bigger ambitions in the energy sector | AFR

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta spent almost $700 million buying unloved steel businesses when he rescued the stricken Arrium in mid-2017 in his first foray into Australia, but he expects those operations will end up being dwarfed by a much larger energy division which is growing rapidly because of huge demand in a country grappling with soaring energy prices.

"Our energy business is probably going to be the largest business we do in Australia," Mr Gupta told The Australian Financial Review.

The industrialist, who runs Liberty House, teamed up with his father's company SIMEC under the banner of the GFG Alliance to officially take ownership of the former Arrium assets at the end of August and the early signs are good.

"It's already a profitable business," he said.

The assets comprise the Whyalla steelworks in South Australia, an associated iron ore mine in the nearby Middleback ranges, electric arc furnaces and mini-mills in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, and a national steel scrap and recycling business that handles about 1.4 million tonnes of ferrous scrap annually.

More than 3500 people rely on the steelworks for employment in Whyalla, so he is lauded as a saviour. On December 22 he announced plans to proceed with a $1 billion upgrade of the Whyalla steelworks to lift its output by 50 per cent and modernise the technology in the plant. 

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Colonial First State prepared to dump managers ‘lagging’ on climate change, ESG | AFR

Colonial First State, the wealth arm of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has warned the fund managers it invests with to take the financial risks of climate change seriously or risk being dumped.

A CFS survey of more than 75 of its global and domestic investment managers found less than half (45 per cent) believe climate change is an investment risk, with less than 20 per cent measuring the carbon footprint of their portfolios. None are using carbon prices in valuing companies.

Scott Tully, head of investments at CFS, which manages $87 billion on behalf of nearly 1 million superannuation fund clients, said the findings were "lower" than the wealth manager had hoped.

"We've now got to assess [and ask] 'what are they doing about it?' It is a process where we might remove managers, not because we think they're not doing the right thing, but because they're not identifying risks which we think are material to portfolios," he told The Australian Financial Review.

This comes as the prudential regulator last year outlined plans for an industry-wide review of climate-related disclosure, warning insurers, superannuation funds and banks they place their "futures in jeopardy" by ignoring risks related to climate change.

"Increasingly, APRA will expect more sophisticated answers, especially from well-resourced and complex entities," said Australian Prudential Regulation Authority executive director Geoff Summerhayes in November.

"APRA intends to gain insights in areas such as how exposed regulated entities are to physical, transitional and liability risks, and whether they're taking steps to protect themselves and their customers."  More