Much of China’s boom has been supported by a phenomenal growth in coal consumption which rose from 300 million tons annually in 1970 to 4.3 billion tons last year. Until recently, annual growth in coal consumption in has mostly ranged in the vicinity of 10 to 20% a year. Since 2013, when pollution reached near-lethal levels in several major cities, there have been major changes in government policies. Last fall the Chinese government released a new plan recognizing that significant reductions in coal consumption will have to take place if the country is to avoid an environmental disaster. The government is now committed to reducing coal consumption within the next four years by 50%. To offset the loss of growing coal consumption, the Asian country is making major strides in developing solar, wind, hydro, and building more nuclear power stations to meet the demand for electricity. It also plans major increases in natural gas consumption. Thus the key issue for the remainder of the decade is whether China can maintain economic growth rates on the order of 7.5% a year while cutting back on coal.
Russia‘s Gazprom has shipped the first cargo with crude oil produced at the Prirazlomnoye offshore field — the country’s only Arctic offshore hydrocarbon project — to the international market.
Nigeria’s total crude oil exports declined by 13% between December 2012 and December 2013, leading to a loss of $1.1 billion, due largely to a 90% drop in crude oil exports to the US.
Most of the growth in petroleum and other liquid fuel supplies comes from countries outside of OPEC, the US Energy Information Administration said. The EIA 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.
As a result of the Great Recession, energy use in the European Union has dropped to 1990 levels. From 2006 to 2012 EU energy consumption has fallen 8%. Greece, Portugal and Lithuania have seen decreases as much as 17%.
The US Energy Department has approved exports from a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the state of Alaska.. ConocoPhillips is allowed to send as much as 40 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year from the facility to Asian countries that do not have a free-trade agreement with the US (eg. China).
US light duty vehicle energy use is projected to decline from roughly 8.3 million barrels per day last year to as low as 5.3 million b/day by 2040, for a variety of economic, demographic, technological, social, and environmental reasons.
Utility Southern is building the first large-scale electric power plant in the US designed to transform coal into natural gas, capture the carbon dioxide (CO2) and pump it underground. The 582-megawatt Kemper project, scheduled to start operation later this year will cost $5.2 billion, making it one of the most expensive power generating plants ever built. The plant will end up costing more than $6,800 per kilowatt. By comparison, a modern natural-gas plant costs about $1,000 a kilowatt and a nuclear plant costs about $5,500.
The US is actively closing down coal power plants that produce electricity. In 2011 and 2012, coal units capable of generating 14 gigawatts of electricity were shut down. Another 63 gigawatts — more than a fifth of US coal powered capacity — may disappear by 2017 because of new rules placing limits on the emission of mercury and other pollutants.
The use of coal in Finland for heat and electricity production in 2013 increased by over 30% from the previous year to a total of 4.5 million tonnes reports Statistics Finland. The increase was due to the government’s policy of increasing the price of peat and wood chips and thus causing a shift in demand to cheaper coal.
Energy will cost European businesses an extra €17 billion (£14 billion) by 2015, with the closure of old electric power stations, tighter environmental legislation and fluctuation in feedstock costs. Rising non-energy costs such as taxes, transmission and distribution charges will push bills up and it is anticipated these elements could make up 50% of final bills. Spain and Portugal are expected to face the most significant rises, of up to 12%, due to an increase in natural gas and coal power generation feedstock and higher carbon prices. Across the rest of Europe price are expected to rise between 5 and 8%.
Japan has approved a new energy policy that will promote coal as a cheap, stable and long-term energy source, along with nuclear power, while failing to set renewable energy targets.
with h/t Tom Whipple
Tags: Africa, automobiles, Canada, China, CO2, coal, electricity, energy, Europe, fossil fuels, hydro power, Japan, LNG, natural gas, nuclear, oil, peak oil, renewable, Russia, solar, transportation, United States, wind
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 by 2015. The Turkish government has set up a 1.2 billion euro fund to to entice investors to generate electricity out of solar energy for the national grid. A tender process will soon be under way that is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
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.
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.
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
Tags: Africa, biofuels, China, electricity, energy, energy shortage, ethanol, Europe, fossil fuels, Germany, natural gas, oil, renewable, shale oil, solar, technologies, transportation, United States, wind