Lockheed Martin said it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. An official said that a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work.
US banker Citigroup says that the global economy has received a $1.1 trillion stimulus for lower crude oil prices as more money is now staying with oil importing countries rather than going to exporters. This stimulus is already showing up in the US with oil imports down 7% from last year and many economic indicators looking better.
US crude oil imports were 7.4 million barrels for the week ending October 10, down 7.4% from the same week in 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration..
Plummeting world oil prices are throwing into doubt financial stability of Venezuela. The country relies on crude oil exports for most of its income. Oil exporters from Russia to Iran are suffering with the lowest crude oil prices since June 2012. But few are as vulnerable as Venezuela, where a free-spending government had already been grappling with a recession, widespread shortages, and massive protests earlier this year
Two of OPEC’s largest members say they will not immediately reduce crude oil production to offset tumbling world oil prices, a signal the group is unlikely to respond to Venezuelan calls for an emergency meeting. While oil producing nations would like higher prices, they are unlikely to achieve that by lowering supply. Saudi Arabia, which pumped almost one-third of the group’s output last month, has indicated it will not alter its supplies much between now and the end of the year.
OPEC must keep cutting crude oil prices to displace competing supplies from Latin America and West Africa, Indian refiners said. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, which account for about half of OPEC’s output, will sell crude to Asia next month at the largest discounts since at least January 2009.
The Kashagan oilfield, discovered in 2000 in the Caspian Sea, was the world’s largest crude oil find in three decades. By now it was supposed to be pumping 1.2 million barrels per day. A year ago, when the first trickle of crude briefly flowed, it was already eight years behind schedule having cost $43 billion, some $30 billion over budget. Production lasted only a few weeks before leaks of poisonous gas forced its suspension. Earlier this month a government minister admitted it would not restart until at least 2016.
.Norway’s Statoil and its joint venture partner, Exxon Mobil, announced the discovery of about 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place at the Giligiliani-1 exploration well offshore the East African nation of Tanzania. The new discovery pushes the total of in-place natural gas reserves above the 20 trillion cubic feet mark.
Canada estimates the Gulf of St. Lawrence may hold as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale formations in the Eastern US continues to grow. Total production from the Utica shale should increase from 155 million cubic feet per day in January 2012 to an expected 1.3 billion cubic feet per day in September. By 2020, Marcellus could be responsible for about one-quarter of the total US. natural gas supply.
The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute may be coming to a conclusion. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko announced that he has reached a temporary agreement with Russia to resume natural gas settlements through March at $385 per 1,000 cubic meters. This is down from the $485 that Ukraine was paying for its natural gas under a 2009 agreement. A new contract is expected to be signed this week. The Russians had been demanding that Ukraine pay the $3.1 billion owed for previous deliveries before shipments would be resumed. There is some discussion that the International Monetary Fund might loan Ukraine the money to pay off the debt to Gazprom.
A new $4 billion polyethylene production facility in the Bakken shale formation in the US state of North Dakota could soon help crude oil and natural gas producers in the region reduce natural gas flaring in the state. CERES estimates that up to 30% of gas produced in North Dakota is flared—more than $100 million a month of natural gas that is just burned off. The plant will employ 500 workers and will be able to produce 3.3 billion points of polyethylene annually.
China’s government has said it will impose a resources tax of between 2% and 10% on the country’s struggling coal industry after last week’s surprise announcement of an increase in import tariffs for both coking and thermal coals. China imposed a levy of 3% on coking coal imports and6% on lower grade thermal coal. These actions are being taken to counter the country’s worsening pollution problems.
with h/t Tom Whipple
Oil prices have fallen and we don’t know if in the future there will be enough to cover the costs of these global mega-projects. It’s a big challenge that means the industry has to improve its efficiency rates, lower costs and increase capacity.” Cipollitti estimated that more than half of the world’s 163 biggest oil projects required a $120 market price for crude.
– Luisa Cipollitti, with Statoil Venezuela
The New Indian Express writes about the waste-to-energy revolution in Sweden where 99% of all household waste in Sweden is reused, recycled or composted.
Not only are they running their power grids from their own waste, they import over 800,000 tonnes/year of trash from neighbouring European countries like the UK, Ireland, Norway and Italy to use in their power plants. So Sweden generates heat and power for its buildings from trash and gets paid to do it!
See also care2, The Swedish Revolution: Turning 99% of Garbage Into Energy.
Finland has opened its largest waste to energy plant reports Energy Digital. Vantaa Energia opened the facility last week in Vantaa. With a generating capacity of 920 GWh, it’s expected to power 50% of district heating demands and 30% of Vantaa’s electricity. The power is produced by burning waste collected from the surrounding areas of Uusimaa, a region which includes Helsinki. It will process an estimated 320,000 tons of waste annually..
A UK firm is turning human waste into energy say RT. Severn Trent Water claims to be the first electric power company in the UK to provide biomethane gas, created by breaking down the ‘sludge’ in sewers. The sludge is a combination of human waste compounds and biodegradable matter. The gas is then put into the National Grid to help heat the nation’s homes and businesses. Other energy producers including Wessex Water and Northumbrian Water also have plans to develop a pipe to supply natural gas from sewers.
In the past, energy companies have used the method to provide electricity and heat on site, but advances in cleaning technology now mean high quality biomethane gas may be the way forward for UK households in the near future.
Meanwhile a US firm is converting potato peels into power. ALT Energy Stocks tells us about Blue Sphere Inc. which has started construction on a bio-digester and electric power generation facility near Charlotte, North Carolina that will turn potato peelings and apple cores into 5.2 MW of power. Electric utility giant Duke Energy will buy the power when the plant goes operational by the end of 2015.
From Climate Spectator we learn LMS Energy has opened a waste-to-gas generator at Swanbank Landfill at Ipwich, southwest of Brisbane in Australia. The methane gas from the landfill is expected to generate 9000 megawatt-hours a year of electricity for the country’s grid.
The UK Government’s quarterly Energy Trends publication reveals a record contribution from bioenergy to the nation’s energy supply reports The Crop Site. In 2014 Q2, bioenergy accounted for a record 5.6 TWh (7%) of electricity generation. This is an increase of 8.8% compared with a year earlier, due mainly to the conversions at the Drax and Ironbridge electric power plants, which have started burning biomass fuel instead of coal. Over the same period, biofuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol accounted for 4% of vehicle fuel used in the UK.
The same source updates us on the deployment of anaerobic digestion facilities in the UK. The full report is available here. There are over 130 operational AD plants in the UK outside of the sewage treatment sector, with more than 340 projects currently under development. These developments are taking place despite a reduction in government subsidies. Over the past six months there has been a noticeable shift towards the development of plants intending to use agricultural feedstock as input to the generation of electricity; the number of farm-fed plants under development has increased by a total of 70 while the number of waste-based projects has increased by just four.
A US company will soon have nearly 350,000 tons of wood pellet production capacity reports BIOMASS Magazine. Northeast Wood Products LLC will be producing the pellets from operations in the states of Ohio, Indiana and Virginia. The company’s plan is to supply pellets to the European heating market.
Canfor Corp. plans to collocate a wood pellet plant at each of the company’s sawmill sites in the Canadian province of British Columbia. BIOMASS magazine says the two facilities combined will have a capacity of 175,000 metric tons of pellets per year. The project will also include electrical self-generation capacity of 3 MW that will be generated from a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant at one of the sites. This in turn will displace 19.1 GWh of Canfor’s electricity consumption per year for 20 years. The plants are scheduled to commence production in late 2015. The pellets will be sold on the international market out of the port of Vancouver. The feedstock for the plants will come primarily from the sawmill at each site, though some additional material will come from other Canfor mills and the open market.
Giant King Grass will be powering a sugar mill in the Philippines. Biofuels International informs us Sagay Central, a sugar milling and sugar growing company, will use the renewable grass to generate electricity for its sugar mills. Any excess electricity will be delivered to the national grid. The company crushes 4,000 tonnes of sugarcane daily and produces 150,000 tonnes of sugar per year.
Clean Technica reports the first industrial-scale municipal solid waste to biofuel facility opened in the Canadian city of Edmonton on June. (with video) Enerkem’s waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility will convert 100,000 tonnes of sorted municipal waste per year into biofuels and chemicals. Once the facility is up to full capacity in 2016, the city will be able to divert 90% of its residential waste from landfills. Edmonton will produce 38 million litres of clean fuels and biochemicals from waste that used to end up in landfills, which will initially be used to produce methanol. The facility will eventually produce enough ethanol to fill the tanks of 400,000 cars with a 5% (E5) blend. The company says its process breaks down the waste using heat and converts it into a gas that is as clean as natural gas. Then it converts the gas to liquid methanol — and all of this happens in just three minutes.
Brazil has opened it first cellulosic ethanol plant. Bioenergy Insight says the facility, in Alagoas, is the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the southern hemisphere. It has the capacity to produce 82 million litres per year of ethanol from sugarcane waste.
The Eurasia Review examines how the Central American country of Nicaragua is turning sugarcane waste into electricity. Being the second largest exporter of sugar in Central America, the country is taking advantage of its bagasse (biomass from sugarcane waste) to produce power for its citizens. The government recently granted a 30 year license to Green Power company for the establishment of a 38 MW co-generation plant which will use the bagasse to power the plant and send all additional electricity to the national grid.
The US has its first carbon-neutral wastewater treatment plant according to Axis of Logic. Located in Victor Valley, California, Biogas produced from food waste and sewage powers the plant while diverting tons of garbage from landfills. The facility is expected to operate independent of the power grid by 2015, diverting more than 1,400 tons of waste from landfills. The Omnivore Biogas Renewable Energy Project mixes high solids (such as solid food) with sludge (sewage) and uses anaerobic digestion technology to convert the waste into biogas. That biogas is harnessed and turned into low-carbon fuel will be used to generate electricity to run the wastewater plant and reduce its $1 million annual electric bill.
Logan Olds, general manager of the high desert city, told the Daily Press. “It’s a demonstration project and has not been done anywhere else. There are currently no other installations of this technology in the U.S.”
The Gulf Times tells us that the middle east country of Qatar is generating electricity from waste. The government-owned Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre in the capital city of Doha is generating 30 MW a day which is used around the country, although it has the capability to produce 42 MW. The plant can treat at least 2,300 tonnes of a total of 2,700 tonnes of waste generated in Qatar daily. 95% of the country’s waste is now converted to energy or recycled instead of being sent to a landfill. This is the first integrated waste management facility in the Middle East and features one of the largest composting plants in the world.