The European Union sees itself leading the world in curbing carbon-dioxide emissions and doing more than any other region to mitigate climate change. Yet at the same time it is also increasing the share of electricity being generated by coal. Coal-fired electrical-generation plants are being started up across Europe while comparatively clean but more expensive gas-fired generating capacity is being shut down.

The European Union lawmakers voted last week to quickly put into effect a plan to stimulate its carbon permit trading system by reducing the number of carbon allowances either sold in auctions or given to big users of fossil fuels. By this vote, the EU is hoping to revive its flagging effort to take a market-incentives approach to reducing greenhouse gases. The permits essentially give holders the right to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide from industrial smokestacks. But prices for the permits have been so low that they give industries little incentive to stop burning coal and switch to cleaner forms of energy. If prices rise, the theory goes, then polluters will have more incentive to adopt cleaner energy alternatives. After the vote, carbon permit prices rose about 7%, to about 6.60 euros, or $9. But that price is still well under the figure of 25 euros or more that analysts say is needed to influence decisions about burning fossil fuels.

A new survey, published by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, finds electricity generation from fossil fuels and non-fossil fuels to be among the 10 most important chemically engineered inventions in the modern era of humanity.

The International Energy Agency predicts global electricity demand will grow 70% by 2035, with the majority of the increase coming from developing countries. China and India combined will account for half of the projected growth.

BP’s Energy Outlook 2035 says that by 2035 energy use in the non-OECD economies is expected to be 69% higher than in 2012. In comparison use in the OECD countries will have grown by only 5%, and actually to have fallen after 2030, even with continued economic growth. The Outlook predicts that global energy consumption will rise by 41% from 2012 to 2035, compared with 30% over the past decade.

To help meet the anticipated increased electricity demands, China now has 17 nuclear plants in operation and another 29 under construction. India has 20 nuclear plants running and seven more being built. And the Russian Federation operates 33 and has another 11 in the works.

Approximately 90% of China’s electricity currently comes from coal-fired power stations.

Presently, 2.4% of India’s electricity comes from renewable sources, as against 2.8% in the US and 12% in Germany.

Egypt and Ethiopia are in heated discussions over the latter’s plan to build a $4.2 billion, 6 GW hydro-electric dam on a major tributary of the Nile River that Egypt says will greatly reduce the flow of water that is Egypt’s lifeline. Tension between the two north African states rose sharply in January.

Spain has raised the ire of its wind industry by ending all price subsidies for wind power projects that came online before the end of 2004. This means that more than 37% of the country’s 22.6 gigawatts of wind power will no longer be subsidized. The wind industry calls this “retroactive looting” as investors in Spanish wind power had been promised they would receive generous subsidies for 20 years. A lagging economy and budget woes has led Spain to conclude it can no longer afford to maintain its green subsidy regime. The new policy also reduces the subsidies available to new wind projects.

Global installed wind power capacity increased by 12.4% to more than 318 GW in 2013 led by China and Canada reports the Global Wind Energy Council. Wind installations slowed in 2013 to about 35.5 GW, almost 10 GW less than a year earlier mostly on a drop in US investment.

Uganda has signed a deal with foreign oil companies Tullow, Total and the Chinese National Oil Company to develop its crude oil sector, bringing to an end several years of protracted talks. Plans include a 60,000 barrels-a-day oil refinery, a crude oil export pipeline to Kenya’s northern port of Lamu and a crude-fired electricity plant in the west African country’s oil region.

Norway, which has watched its crude oil output fall every year since 2000, wants to attract large producers to compete with its state-owned Statoil as the company cancels and delays key projects.

Shale oil production from the Bakken formation in the US state of North Dakota will peak this year, according to French oil geologist Jean Laherrere from ASPO France.

Poland says it will speed up work on setting regulations for its new shale gas industry after a London-listed operator hit reserves it described last month as being potentially commercially viable.

Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s second-largest crude oil producer, plans to buy a quarter of Israel ’s offshore largest natural gas field for as much as $2.6 billion. A deal would put Woodside in the middle of Israel’s nascent natural gas industry.

China’s Finance Ministry says the Asian country will extend a programme of subsidies for buyers of electric-powered vehicles after the current subsidy regime expires in 2015. The existing subsidies will be phased out by 2015 as planned, with a new regime to take effect after that date. The current subsidies of up to 60,000 yuan ($US 9,800) are available for the purchase of an all-electric battery vehicle and up to 35,000 yuan for a “near all-electric” plug-in vehicle.

with h/t Tom Whipple


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