Australia announced it will export uranium to India after the government overturned a decades-old ban on selling the material to nations that fail to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was intellectually indefensible to sell uranium to China, but not India. Selling India uranium would provide it with a clean energy option over CO2 emitting coal-fired power.

German energy company RWE announced it plans to cut up to 8000 people in its global workforce in an effort to reduce costs by €1.5 billion in 2012. The cuts are in response to Germany’s decision in May to phase out nuclear power by 2022. The company plans to divest assets worth €11 billion by the end of 2013. RWE will close its Biblis nuclear power station and also introduce less labour-intensive new coal-fired plants. It will also restructure its operations in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe. Another German energy firm E.ON has already said it plans to cut 11,000 of its global staff of 80,000. According to unions, 6,500 of those job cuts will likely be in Germany.

Thailand announced a plan to increase consumption of alternative energy to 25% within 10 years, which would lead to a significant drop in crude-oil imports. The alternative energy would be used to generate electricity. Under the plan, wind-power demand would be raised to 1.2 GW, solar power to 2 GW and biomass to 3.6 GW.

The UK wants a major increase in the use of green energy by building 32,000 additional wind turbines and adding more nuclear power. Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, wants to convert all Britain’s vehicles and homes to run on electricity by 2050. This will require the UK to double its electricity output. The strategy would be to add 6,000 to 10,000 wind turbines onshore and up to 25,000 offshore. The UK currently has 3000 turbines which produce 1.2% of the nation’s electricity. Until there are dramatic increases in solar and wave power technology wind turbines and nuclear are regarded the most viable green energy sources. His plan calls for one nuclear plant a year to be built beginning in 2019. Huhne said: “The carbon plan is a road map for a new industrial revolution in which low-carbon electricity powers the economy and protects us from reliance on imports from volatile parts of the world.”

While the UK focuses on wind and nuclear, it is cutting back its support of solar energy.  Later this month it is reducing its solar subsidy (the feed-in-tarriff) by 50%.  This has led to two-thirds of solar firms saying they will be forced to lay off employees and downsize as they say they are not profitable without the higher subsidy. This week one of the largest solar panel businesses, Carillion Energy Services, said it had given notice to 4500 workers that their jobs may be at stake if the government goes through with the reduced subsidy.

The five BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – intend to work together on developing alternative energy sources. A a meeting this week in China, the five nations discussed each other’s energy objectives and how they might help each other in attaining those objectives using green energy.  The main focus of the discussion was on wind, solar and biomass.

China has entered into an agreement with Turkmenistan to import 65 billion cubic meters a year of natural gas from the Caspian nation.  This appears to have caught Russia’s Gazprom off guard as it had expected to have the Chinese gax business. Analysts question how much demand there will now be for Russian gas — except at a knock-down price — as China seeks to diversify its energy dependence by expanding cooperation with Turkmenistan, and increasing deliveries of liquefied natural gas from Myanmar.

Mozambique could become an African energy superpower.  Both Italian and U.S. companies recently announced the discovery of massive natural gas fields off Mozambique, which could dramatically alter the country’s economy. The two finds together add up to estimated reserves of 55 trillion cubic feet. Should the projects be developed, Mozambique is able to move its output to two of the world’s top liquefied natural gas markets, Japan and South Korea, along with being in a prime position to service China and India.

Only nine nuclear reactors with a combined power generation capacity of 8.479 GW will soon be operating in Japan, representing just 17.3% of the country’s total installed capacity.

CNOOC concluded its $2.04 billion acquisition of Opti Canada, giving China’s top offshore oil company its second stake in a Canadian oil sands property.

 

with h/t Tom Whipple

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