Cal on April 19th, 2014

Something Different

Concentrated Solar


Coal is expected to be Australia’s primary energy source for the next several decades said The Guardian. The country’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, predicts that while coal will still be around many years from now it will be much cleaner due to new emissions technologies such as carbon capture and reusage.

Hunt said he believed carbon capture and usage would be crucial to Australia’s emissions reductions.

“Coal will be used for decades and decades more … but what I do think will change is the emissions from it and that is the critical thing…What I think will happen is this … we will be able to use coal and gas in a dramatically more efficient way, with dramatically lower emissions … that will happen over the coming decade as we make real progress, including cleaning up our brown coal power stations, with drying gasification and capturing, not for storage … but capture and reuse,” Hunt said.

Bloomberg told us that in a Post-Fukushima world, Japan is choosing coal over renewable energy to produce electricity.

A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source while falling short of setting specific targets for cleaner energy from wind, solar and geothermal. The policy also gives nuclear power the same prominence as coal in Japan’s energy strategy. 

Japan’s 10 power companies consumed 5.66 million metric tons of coal in January, a record for the month and 12 percent more than a year ago, according to industry figures.

Eurasia Review wrote about how coal is replacing nuclear power in Germany for the generation of electricity and causing increased CO2 emissions.

Releasing 834 million tonnes of carbon dioxide during 2013, the country’s emissions were at their highest for five years…One direct cause is that coal’s dominance has grown, both to substitute for nuclear power and as a back-up fuel for renewable intermittancy – which has become more important with the growth of renewable sources from 16.6% in 2010 to 23.9% of supply in 2013.

Deutsche Welle looked at how much Germany depends on Russia for its energy supplies. More than 70% of Germany’s energy supply depends on imports and Russia alone accounts for a quarter of Germany’s natural gas, crude oil and coal imports. Now that the Ukraine crisis is in full swing and the NATO countries are looking at ways of punishing Russia, Germany is exploring alternatives to Russian energy supplies.  But, according to the post, finding alternative energy sources will not be easy and especially for natural gas.

The most important energy supplier is Russia: It provides 38 percent of Germany’s natural gas imports, 35 percent of all oil imports and 25 percent of coal imports, covering a quarter of the country’s entire energy needs. There are no suitable alternatives in sight that could cover shortfalls of this magnitude.

From ChemInfo we learned the US Department of Energy is looking at how to exploit the methane hydrates reserves off the northern coast of the state of Alaska as well as off the continental US shelf. The department is actively looking for research projects that could explore how to economically extract the gas locked in ice far below the Earth’s surface. Methane is the main ingredient of natural gas. Methane hydrate deposits (a lattice of ice and natural gas) can be found under the permafrost in Alaska as well as in sediment below the ocean floor. Some estimates say the Gulf of Mexico alone contains methyl hydrate reserves that are 100 times larger than US natural gas reserves.

LNG Industry noted energy advisers, Douglas Westwood, made public a report suggesting methyl hydrate is the ‘dark horse’ of future energy. In theory, the report states, methane hydrates could “revolutionise the energy industry, potentially providing significant upside to natural gas production”. However to date there have been no commercial scale developments of this vast resource although Japan could be the first test case. Natural gas prices in Japan are currently four times that of US level giving the country a strong incentive to capitalise on its methane hydrate resources.

It is the possibility for commercialization offshore Japan that remains the most interesting. A large-scale development could considerably impact the country’s existing and growing energy trade deficit.

Japan is the largest LNG buyer in the world, importing 70 million tpa of LNG in 2012, twice the levels of South Korea, the second largest LNG importer. Should methane hydrates become a commercially viable energy source, Japanese LNG imports could be impacted, as could the wider LNG industry. (note: LNG is liquified natural gas)

Energy Live News reported two renewable energy companies in the UK have created a joint venture to develop a 300 MW tidal array in the English Channel, off the island of Alderney. OpenHydro and Alderney Renewable Energy will build the array, which will consist of 150 turbines and be able to provide electricity to more than 150,000 homes. The project is expected to be fully operational by 2020.

Canada’s largest wind farm in now in operation we learned from reve. The 270 megawatt project in the province of Ontario has the capacity to produce electricity for approximately 100,000 Ontario homes each year. The project uses 124 2.3 MW wind turbines.

Here you can access an interactive map of onshore wind turbines in the US.  The map was created by the US Department of the Interior.

American Security Project wrote about the promise of space based solar energy. Meanwhile, Science Daily revealed scientists envision a device that could capture energy from Earth’s infrared emissions to outer space.

Renewable Energy Magazine posted the concentrated solar power market is about to explode. (See photo above) A $1.3 billion market  in 2013, it is anticipated to reach $53.7 billion by 2020, according to a new analysis by WinterGreen Research. Concentrated solar power systems are now able to be built at utility scale and can provide 24/7 solar renewable energy power. Concentrating solar technology uses traditional electricity steam generators to make power fueled by solar heat. In addition, they incorporate molten salt storage technologies to store the solar power for times when the Sun is not available.

The UK wants to become a world leader in solar energy according to Energy & Environment. And it wants to do this by covering the rooftops of government buildings, factories, car parks, and supermarkets with solar panels. The recently announced Solar Strategy sets out the guiding principles for the deployment of solar in the UK. The new plan is to move away from large solar farms and focus on the country’s 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial rooftops.

 Energy minister Greg Barker said: “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy as part of our long term economic plan.”

Daily Sabah reported Turkey is on the way to creating 600 MW of electricity from sunlight.







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Cal on April 17th, 2014

Earth's Energy

Cal on April 16th, 2014

Something Different

Cal on April 14th, 2014

The US Energy Information Administration reported most of the growth in petroleum and other liquid fuel supplies comes from countries outside of OPEC, and particularly North America. The EIA said it projects petroleum and other liquids supply to increase by 1.4 million barrels per day in 2014 and 1.3 million bpd in 2015, with most of the growth coming from North America.

Nigeria is a victim of shale oil exploration in the US as the African country’s crude oil exports to North America have dropped by 91% in one year. Prior to the decline, the US was the largest buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil.

US  proved crude oil reserves increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2012, increasing by 15% to 33 billion barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration. Crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves were the highest since 1976, and the 2012 increase of 4.5 billion barrels was the largest annual increase since 1970.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported at least 37 million barrels of crude oil and 2 million square feet of natural gas may be in the offshore Njord field. These results from the Njord field well are greater than expected.

Combined global production of ethanol and biodiesel fell in 2012 for the first time since 2000, down 0.4% from 2011.

In France, a new contract to buy natural gas from Azerbaijan shows the decades-old structure of Europe’s energy market — where natural gas prices were tied to crude oil prices —  is starting to crumble. For the first time, GDF Suez signed a 25-year contract to buy gas from the former Soviet republic at prices tied to those in Western Europe’s domestic natural gas markets. Europe’s natural gas contracts have been tied to international crude oil prices since the 1960s as a way of providing certainty to suppliers who would then invest billions to build fields and pipelines.

Nigerians are increasingly focused on finding affordable fuel for their vehicles and to run their power generators, without which they are guaranteed darkness. Many parts of the African country are going for weeks without electricity.

China’s nuclear power plants will have a total installed electrical generating capacity of 40 gigawatts by 2015. The Asian country currently has 17 nuclear power units running with a total installed capacity of 14 GW.

In the US, natural gas-fired power plants accounted for just over 50% of new utility-scale electricity generating capacity added in 2013. Solar jumped to 22% from less than 6% in 2012. Coal provided 11% and wind nearly 8%. Almost half of all capacity added in 2013, and 60% of natural gas capacity, was located in California.

Germany has reformed its renewable-energy laws meant to help make the country nuclear-free but that have sent electricity prices soaring and hurting consumers and negatively impacting the country’s exports. The German government approved amendments that it said would constrain rising electricity costs while seeking to protect German jobs in the industrial sector. The changes include lower targets for wind power and a cut in subsidies for certain forms of renewable energy. Renewable power already accounts for 25% of Germany’s electricity and the German government has set targets to increase this share to 40-45% by 2025.

Funding renewable energy will become harder under European Uni0n rules published last week designed to replace subsidies to producers with market-based schemes. The rules take effect from July 1 this year and from 2017 all member states will have to hold a bidding process to support new green power facilities following a pilot phase from 2015-16. The idea is to replace feed-in tariffs, which have little or no relation to market reality but have spurred renewable development, with auctions or bidding processes open to all green energy generators competing equally for government funds.

According to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, renewable energy (excluding large hydro) accounted for 43.6% of newly installed generating capacity in the world in 2013. For the first time, China invested more in renewable energy projects last year than Europe. Renewables’ share of total world electricity generation rose to 8.5%, up from 7.8% in 2012.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says renewable energy installations around the world will rise 37% in the next two years, driven by a drop in the cost of wind and solar power. The research group estimates installations may rise to 112.4 gigawatts in 2015 from about 82 gigawatts in 2013. (1 gigawatt is the size of a typical nuclear power plant.)

BlackLight Power announced that it achieved sustained electricity production from a primary new energy source by using photovoltaic technology to transform a brilliant plasma, with power comprising millions of watts of light, directly into electricity.


with h/t Tom Whipple


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Cal on April 13th, 2014

Earth's Energy



The Guardian answered the question: Where does energy in the UK come from?  The post provides a simple guide to explain where and how the UK gathers the energy it uses.

Today, UK homeowners expect flick-of-a-switch access to energy. It keeps our houses warm, our fridges cold and our lights illuminated. Yet where does our power come from? How does it reach us? And why is it becoming so expensive?

There were posts this week about how to power Africa’s current and future energy needs. devex posted How to ‘power’ Africa: A trillion dollar question? while HARD ASSETS told us Africa’s biggest investor’s energy plan includes shale. The continent needs investments of $40 billion a year until 2040 if targets to provide modern and sustainable energy for 250 million people are to be met. Most of this money is needed to provide electricity – to expand generating capacity as well as regional transmission and integration within the continent’s power sector. The Public Investment Corp., the continent’s largest money manager, is looking at investments in South African shale gas projects and the Inga hydropower complex on the Congo River to assist in meeting this goal.

Africa’s two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, are among countries on the continent suffering electric power shortages that are restraining economic growth… Nearly half the economies in sub-Saharan Africa are still held back by frequent power-cuts even though the continent is well-endowed with fossil fuels and renewable energy resources.

Indonesia is using compressed natural gas for electric power generation reported NGV Global News. The Indonesian state-owned electricity company PT PLN has opened a new CNG storage fFacility in Muara Tawar, Bekasi, West Java, which is the biggest compression and storage facility built so far worldwide and will reduce the company’s crude oil use by more than 200,000 kilolitres. The installation will reduce the company’s total usage of oil to 5 %, compared to the current 12.3%, and increase the use of natural gas to 95%.

greentechmedia told us wind and solar can carry the bulk of the transformation to a new low carbon energy economy. The International Energy Agency (IEA says that integration of large amounts of renewable energy can be achieved by any country at only a small increase on whole-system costs, compared with the current fossil-fuel-heavy electricity systems. But there is a caveat.  To be cost effective,  the key is for countries to employ renewable energy in a way that supports the grid, investing in additional flexible generating capacity and improving the operation of electricity markets. The IEA adds that wind and solar can be even more cost-effectively introduced into emerging economies, because there is not the issue of sunken or stranded costs.

“Integration is not simply about adding wind and solar on top of ‘business as usual,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “We need to transform the system as a whole to do this cost-effectively.”…The risk of applying renewables to an untransformed system, the IEA concluded, is that electricity costs will be pushed up. The IEA modeled this scenario, finding that total system costs can increase up to 40 percent.

For a contrary view on the IEA conclusion see The Financial Post, The International Energy Agency backs unreliable renewables

Singularity Hub said 100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable. Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each US state to transition to 100% wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only existing technology. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion. All existing fossil and nuclear power generating facilities would be phased out when their useful life is reached and replaced by renewable sources such as  geothermal energy, concentrating solar,  off-shore and on-land wind turbines, and some and tidal energy. All but tidal energy collectors are already commercially available.

“The greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political,” the researchers conclude…“I’m pretty sure the proposal will be adopted,” Jacobson said. “I’m just not sure it’ll be adopted by 2050. It has to be adopted in the sense that fossil fuels are limited and they’ll eventually run out, so what are the other options?”

US Energy Secretary Walter Moniz predicted renewable energy could make up 30% to 40% of the US power mix by as early as 2030 according to Climate Spectator. Moniz expects wind and solar capacity to double in “the next several years”.

What we are seeing with wind — in particular on-shore wind — and solar, is that costs have come down pretty dramatically, and with that cost reduction is coming rapidly-increased deployment,” he said.

See also, Solar PV to undergo ‘massive growth’ in Americas which forecast North and South American solar photovoltaic (PV) installed capacity will increase more than tenfold over the coming years.

The Middle East and North Africa will experience a renewable energy boom suggested Clean Technica. The region is likely to see their renewable energy assets more than double in capacity by the end of 2015. Solar and wind generation capacity is forecast to rise to 3.9 GW in 2015 from its current 1.5 GW.

The Middle East region and the whole of Africa have recently begun to come into their own when it comes to renewable energy development, thanks in large part to a desperate need for widespread energy deployment. Countries like China and the US, as well as several countries within Europe, have looked to Africa as a new sales locale for solar PV technology, which has benefited the continent greatly.



region is likely to see their renewable energy assets more than double in capacity by the end of 2015.

According to Desertec, solar and wind generation capacity will rise to 3.9 GW in 2015 from its current 1.5 GW.





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Cal on April 13th, 2014

“Energy is one of the biggest barriers for the continent of Africa and if we don’t deal with it, it is going to deal with us.”

—-  Elias Masilela, Chief Executive Officer, Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest investor’s energy plan includes shale