Fuel Fix: Energy Job Cuts Approaching 200,000 Worldwide

The oil bust’s toll on corporate payrolls continues to grow. Job cuts in the petroleum industry reached nearly 196,000 globally last week, according to a Houston energy consultant, after ConocoPhillips said it would cut 10 percent of its workforce and other energy firms announced more layoffs.

Nearly half of the oil industry’s reductions over the past year have come from the oil field service industry, firms that provide oil and gas producers with drill bits, well casing, hydraulic fracturing pumps and other technology, says John Graves, president of Graves & Co., who has tracked the layoffs closely.

Reuters: GE Clears Final Hurdle to $14 Billion Alstom Deal

General Electric has won EU approval for its 12.4-billion-euro ($13.9 billion) acquisition of Alstom's power business after agreeing to sell some of the French company's turbine assets to Italian rival Ansaldo Energia.

EU officials said the concessions allayed concerns that the deal would reduce competition in the European market for heavy-duty gas turbines to two major players, namely, the merged company and Germany's Siemens, potentially leading to higher prices and pushing up the cost of electricity.

The U.S. conglomerate's acquisition of Alstom's energy business -- its largest deal ever -- will bring together two of the world's biggest manufacturers of power plant hardware and is crucial to GE's plans to increase its focus on industrial operations and shift away from finance.

SNL: Courtroom Battles Targeting Coal Where It Digs

While the market continues to batter the coal sector and legislative relief from regulatory pressures seems increasingly distant, coal companies are also finding themselves waging expensive battles in the nation's courtrooms.

Traditional environmentalism often focused on the local and visible effects of industry; however, the current so-called "war on coal" is both a ground and air battle, with groups simultaneously fighting supply and demand-side dynamics of the coal business.

Bruce Nilles, senior campaign director of the Sierra Club, told SNL Energy that the campaign files a legal appeal roughly every three days -- including holidays and weekends -- against everything from new and existing coal plants right down to the mine itself. The group is even attacking the industry's means of transport with lawsuits against the railroads that move coal around the country and the ports that move it abroad.

PV Magazine: Report Examines Plunge in Costs of Generating Electricity From Renewables

The significant drop in the price of solar and wind generation costs, especially for solar PV installations, helped prevent cost inflation in electricity generation over the past five years, according to a newly published report by the International Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency.

The study, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition, also shows that new nuclear power plants generate electricity more cheaply than other established “baseload” sources such as coal- and gas-fired power plants over the full lifetime of facilities when financing costs are relatively low.

The report attributes the drop in the price of solar and wind generation to “sustained technological progress.” A “plateauing in the price of new nuclear energy plants” also helped keep electricity generation cost inflation down, the study finds.

Climate Progress: Cities Could Save $17 Trillion Just by Reducing Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Making cities greener could save a lot of, well, green, according to a new report. The report, published Tuesday by the New Climate Economy, found that if cities around the world implemented certain carbon-reducing strategies -- including making buildings more efficient and investing in public transportation -- they could save a combined total of $17 trillion by 2050.

The report looked at actions such as “aggressively” deploying high-efficiency lighting, “ambitiously” installing solar on buildings, increasing the fraction of methane captured from landfills, and expanding public transit. It found that, if all of the measures were implemented, cities would reduce their combined greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. That’s more, the report notes, than the annual emissions of India.