Cal on October 20th, 2017

Argentina announced it plans to auction offshore oil and gas exploration rights next year, in the hope of developing fields off its Atlantic coast like those in neighboring Brazil. “There is a high probability that the subsalt basin that exists on the coast of Brazil continues south and so we see the discovery of any formation of oil and conventional gas in the area as very attractive. It could be very profitable for the country,” Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren aaid. Last week Brazil attracted a record US$1.19 billion in its 14th round of bidding for oil exploration and production rights.

Australia has announced a new energy policy by rejecting a plan to generate 42% of the country’s electricity from wind and solar energy, The federal instead plans to require electric utility companies to provide a certain minimum amount of power from coal, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. Reliance on solar and wind generation would be let to the decision of each state. In addition, the new policy change will end subsidies paid to wind and solar generators starting in 2020, to help reduce costs for consumers. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said that coal and gas would generate 64% to 72% of Australia’s electricity by 2030. The government has accused some states, such as South Australia, of irresponsibly switching to intermittent renewable energy sources at the cost of ensuring reliable supply, including suffering state-wide blackouts last year.

The Netherlands announced it will close all of its coal-fired electric generation plants by 2030.  This includes three that were built in 2015. The Netherlands joins other European countries — France, the UK, and Denmark — who have all decided to phase out coal completely from their grids in the coming decades. In addition to the coal announcement, the Netherlands said it will ban the sale of new petrol powered automobiles that same year.

Market research firm Global Data forecasts moderate growth for the global biogas power market between 2012 and 2025, expecting it to climb from 50,516 gigawatt-hours to 130,321 GWh at an average annual rate of 7.6%.  Biogas is gaining popularity across the world as it can be produced through anaerobic digestion or fermentation of organic wastes along with effluents from agricultural, industrial as well as municipal wastewater treatment plants. Biogas generated at these plants is being used to produce electricity and heat. It is also being used to power motor vehicles and as a fuel for different industrial applications. Energy Business Review lists some of the world’s largest biogas plants here.

Europe’s largest energy-from-waste plant for municipal solid waste is to be built in Istanbul, Turkey. Starting in 2021 the plant will process 1 million tonnes of waste per annum generating around 70 megawatts of electricity. This represents 15% of the city’s municipal solid waste.

The city of Bristol, England has the first vehicle in the country that collects commercial food waste and is powered by that same waste. The collection vehicle runs on biomethane that has been produced by the anaerobic digestion of food waste and sewage from houses in Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area. The collected waste produces biogas which is either used to produce electricity or is converted into enriched biomethane, which is injected into the natural gas grid. At this stage it can be used as fuel for vehicles or to supply local homes with heat.

Low cost European airline EasyJet says it will be flying all-electric commercial passenger planes within the next ten years. The airline is working with Wright Electric to develop a lightweight battery that can be used in a short-haul commercial plane. The target range is 330 miles which would enable it to operate popular routes such as London to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as Geneva to Paris, Nice, Pisa, Toulouse, Venice and Brussels.

Researchers at the US Carnegie Institution studied the wind power potential of the North Atlantic ocean and found that in some areas ocean-based wind farms could generate at least three times more power than those on land. They also concluded that new giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere, while on the other hand wind farms on land remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources. Moreover, their computer model showed that in the winter, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilization’s current needs.

Renewable Energy Focus looks at the problem of what to do with “spent” wind turbine blades.


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Cal on October 19th, 2017

“Technology is moving at a speed that is sometimes a bit hard for us to comprehend as individuals. If you look at how fast things are digitalising, such as the smart meter rollout and storage, we are in the process of shaping a new energy system. Nobody is 100% sure of how it will pan out. There are a number of races going on: a digital race, a battery race, a renewables race and a centralised versus decentralised race.”

      —  Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL’s energy division

Cal on October 19th, 2017

Cal on October 19th, 2017

Cal on October 18th, 2017

Cal on October 17th, 2017

France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, announced it would no longer finance companies whose main business is the exploration, production, trading, or marketing of crude oil and natural gas from shale or tar sands projects.  The bank will also no longer finance liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals that predominantly liquefy and export gas from shale projects, and will end funding for pipelines that carry oil and gas from shale or tar sands. The new policy is part of the Bank’s efforts to support energy transition. It remains to be seen if other banks and financial institutions will follow the lead of the French bank.

Russian oil company Rosneft is buying a 30% stake in the offshore waters near Egypt where the giant Zohr natural gas field is located.  Zohr has a total of 850 billion cubic meters of natural gas in place and is the largest natural gas field ever discovered in the Mediterranean. This purchase will give Rosneft a foothold in one of the world’s most important emerging natural gas areas: the eastern Mediterranean.

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is under construction in the North African country of Morocco and last week Morocco and Russia discussed the possibility of gas deliveries by the Russian groups Gazprom and Novatek.

Chris Watling, CEO & chief market strategist at Longview Economics, said the adoption of electric vehicles will lead to global peak oil demand as soon as in 2023-2025, which will result in crude oil prices crashing to $10 a barrel. He added: “What happens with electric vehicles is really, really important given that around 70 percent of oil is used for transportation.” Currently the world price of crude is around $57 for Brent and $51 for West Texas.

Nearly half of India’s energy comes from crude oil and natural gas. Recently the Reserve Bank of India predicted the country’s economic growth should increase from 6.7% through 2018 to 7.4% in 2019. This growth would translate into an even stronger demand for energy.

Major oil companies Chevron and BP announced they have abandoned plans to explore the deep waters off the south coast off Australia, long seen as a promising prospect, because of weak world crude oil prices.

Last week the US reported a record 2 million barrels per day in crude oil exports.

Hydro-Quebec is building a series of dams on the Romaine River in the Canadian province that will generate enough electricity for more than one million homes. The project hopes to sell electricity to northern US states where nuclear reactors are closing.

China is hoping to solve by 2020 its problem of renewable energy going to waste, an official at the National Energy Administration said this week. Liang Zhipeng, deputy director of the NEA’s new energy and renewable energy department, also said hia agency expects the wind sector to wean itself off government subsidies by 2022. Getting power in the west of the Asian country to urban users has been a major headache for the government. Much of the energy generated is being wasted because of the lack of transmission and storage facilities. Last week, state planner the National Development and Reform Commission said it would issue subsidies to energy storage companies to spur the construction of storage facilities that would preserve this renewable power.

Navigant Research reports the installed capacity of energy storage for microgrids is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade, with nearly 15 gigawatts of new cumulative capacity and revenue worth $22.3 billion. Interest in energy storage technology is increasing with the growth of solar PV and wind installations. Navigant notes that energy storage microgrids are viewed as a valuable component to distributed energy networks because of their ability to effectively integrate renewable generation. Total annual capacity additions will increase from 238 MW in 2017 to 3.3 GW in 2026, led by the Asia-Pacific and North America regions. The remote microgrid segment will see the largest growth — remote systems being installed for village electrification, commodity extraction operations, and strengthening grid reliance on islands.

Major petroleum company Royal Dutch Shell announced it is acquiring one of Europe’s largest electrical vehicle charging networks, Netherlands-based NewMotion. NewMotion has more than 30,000 private charge points across the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK.  Last week, Mark Gainsborough, Shell’s Executive Vice President of New Energies, commented on Shell’s entry into the EV refueling market:

“We’re starting to provide electric-vehicle fast-charging on Shell retail sites and working on smart charging to help the electricity grid cope with the demands of battery electric vehicles.”


with h/t Tom Whipple





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Cal on October 17th, 2017

Cal on October 16th, 2017

MarketResearchFuture says the global energy storage market is about to grow 20% annually between now and 2023. Energy storage ranges from small to very large systems. It is segmented into mechanical energy storage, electro-chemical energy storage, thermal storage, and chemical storage. Energy storage systems have become important for storing renewable energy in recent years because of the ability to store solar and wind energy in various forms and supply electricity when end users need it. Energy storage provides the option to source electricity as and when required without requiring conventional energy sources. This flexibility enables optimal use of large generation and grid assets. Energy storage also acts as a source of power for remote and off grid areas where hundreds of millions of people live.

A decade of political dithering has left resource-rich Australia with the highest electricity prices in the world. Just in the past year manufacturers and consumers have seen a doubling of their electricity rates and some parts of the country have faced serious blackouts. As the country closed its coal mines, natural gas was supposed to fill in to produce electricity. But rising exports of the fuel to higher-paying overseas buyers created a domestic shortage. Now the federal government is threatening natural gas producers with export restrictions unless they plug the shortfall. The government is also trying to convince electric power utilities to patch up old and dilapidated coal-fired generators to keep the electric supply going. But it is difficult to find banks willing to finance the refurbishment and the owners want to shut the coal plants and replace them with more modern technologies such as renewable energy, natural gas and energy storage. Now some of the largest businesses in the country are suggesting they would move elsewhere or shut down some operations if the there is no energy certainty. And renewable energy is not solving the problems. South Australia is the state with the most wind power but has the world’s most expensive electricity and had several blackouts last year, some affecting the entire state for weeks.

“It is not a bit of a mess, it is a major mess…We have every energy resource you could want — whether its old school or new school — here in Australia. Yet, we have the most expensive power in the world.” – Sanjeev Gupta, British owner of Liberty House Group whose steel operations went without power last July for an extended period during a blackout in South Australia

Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, said: “I think we will see some energy intensive manufacturing close down.”

BYD, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, opened its expanded battery-electric bus manufacturing facility in Lancaster, California—North America’s largest. BYD will use the facility to build up to 1,500 battery-electric buses annually.  BYD is currently producing 300 electric buses based on current customer orders and has options for more than 300 additional purchases. The plant also produces battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks, including delivery, drayage, refuse, and yard trucks.

Chinese Internet company Baidu is partnering with Chinese automaker BAIC to start mass production of level 3 autonomous vehicles in 2019, followed by level 4 vehicles around 2021. The immediate goal is 1 million cars produced next year that will encompass connectivity features and voice assistant as the partnership moves toward higher levels of autonomous vehicles.  Here is the difference between level 3 and level 4:

  • Level 3 (”eyes off”): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so. In 2017 the Audi A8 Luxury Sedan was the first commercial car to claim to be able to do level 3 self driving. The car has a so called Traffic Jam Pilot. When activated by the human driver the car takes full control of all aspects of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 kilometers per hour. The function only works on highways with a physical barrier separating oncoming traffic.
  • Level 4 (”mind off”): Like level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, i.e. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self driving is supported only in limited areas or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has contracted to purchase 300 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.  LA Metro will buy 65 of the 60-foot heavy-duty transit buses now with an option to purchase an additional 235 buses. Earlier this year LA Metro committed to an all-electric bus fleet by 2030.

A 15 megawatt anaerobic digestion facility has opened in Aylesbury, England with the capacity to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 12,000 households. The waste-to-energy plant can convert in excess of 100,000 tons of waste into heat, power and bio-methane for export to the UK national grid as well as bio-fertilizer. The waste comes from dairy manure, food and cooking oil from the retail and food service sectors.

A recent study from Michigan Technological University found that bio-methane produced from all available food waste and dairy manure in the US annually would offset about 0.74% of annual natural gas demand.

Research and Markets reports the global waste to biodiesel market is expected to reach almost $1 billion by 2025. Municipal waste is the main input and gasification is the fastest growing technology to convert waste into biodiesel. Europe is the leading continent in adopting this technology where that market is forecast to grow 10% annually. Stringent environmental regulations in the automobile sector has been a major factor driving the growth of the waste to biodiesel market.

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