China has overtaken Japan as the world’s top coal importer. Japan had held that position since 1975. China,is also the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer.

U.S. electric power plants currently produce 50% more electricity from natural gas than during the year 2000. Natural gas’s share of US electric power generation is predicted to increase to 27% in 2035 from 24% in 2010.

Shale gas will probably account for half of total U.S. natural gas production in 2035, up from 23% in 2010.

The US Energy Information Administration made a major downward revision in the estimated amount of shale gas that can be recovered from the Marcellus Shale in the Eastern US. The EIA now projects that 141 trillion cubic feet can be recovered vs. last year’s estimate of 410 trillion. About 482 trillion cubic feet can be produced from shale basins across the U.S. (US Annual Energy Outlook 2012)

The US is poised to become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2016, a net pipeline exporter in 2025, and an overall net exporter of natural gas in 2021. The outlook reflects increased use of LNG in markets outside of North America, strong domestic natural gas production, reduced pipeline imports and increased pipeline exports, and relatively low natural gas prices in North America compared to other global markets.

The US Energy Information Administration expects offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico to be the main driver of growth in US crude oil output to 6.7-6.8 million b/d by 2020.

Canadian oil production will increase by 23% within four years or by 763,000 b/d.  Much of the increase will be driven by oilsands projects ramping up and by conventional crude plays gaining momentum through technologies such as horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing. Most of this oil will be exported to the US. Canada currently exports around 2.2 million b/d to the U.S., with two-thirds going to the U.S. Midwest. Canada ranks 6th in the world in total crude oil production.

Japanese homes and small business sold 2,150 gigawatt-hours of solar power back to the electric grid in 2011. This was a 50% increase over 2010. Japan’s electric utilities pay 61 cents (48 yen) per kilowatt-hour to consumers who offer less than 10 kilowatts and 30 cents (24 cents) for owners of larger arrays.

San Diego has been named America’s solar city.  The city leads the nation in solar capacity with 4,500 rooftop solar power projects installed on residential, commercial and government buildings. Together these solar projects produce 37 MW of electricity. The Californian cities of Los Angeles and San Jose rank second and third respectively.

German solar farm operators and homeowners with solar panels received more than €8 billion ($10.2 billion) in subsidies in 2011, but contributed only 3% of Germany’s total energy supply. Germany is now poised to cut the subsidy as of April 1st. Germany has a total of 25 gigawatts of solar capacity — about half of the capacity for the entire world. Producers of solar energy are guaranteed fixed rates for power for 20 years.

Spain suspended subsidies for new renewable energy as part of the government’s efforts to control the budget deficit. The Spanish government will halt subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants as it attempts to rein in electricity system debts that reached 24 billion euros ($31.6 billion) by the end of last year. The total capacity of Spanish power plants is about twice the country’s peak power demand.

The U.K. Court of Appeal rejected the government’s bid to cut solar subsidies planned for April 1st, leaving in place incentive rates that triggered a boom in solar installations. The UK government had wanted new rates to come into force for projects finished after December 12, 2011 and may now delay that date until March at the earliest. Developers installed panels with at least 800 MW of capacity last year, more than 10 times the previous year’s pace, after a feed-in tariff granting above-market prices for renewable energy took effect in April 2010. The Court decision is expected to accelerate solar installations this year.

The UK House of Commons Energy and Climate Change committee warned that setting tougher carbon penalties than the rest of the Europe will also have a “devastating effect” on heavy industry while failing to have any overall impact on greenhouse gas emissions.  It also said that UK consumers face artificially inflated electricity bills under the government’s plan to make businesses greener. By “going it alone” on setting a minimum carbon floor price, the UK faces the prospect of industry relocating to elsewhere in Europe, said the committee. Energy generators and heavy industry, such as steel and ceramics, face a tax of up to £25 per tonne of CO2 under current plans.

Pakistan and India made considerable progress in talks over a multibillion dollar gas pipeline planned from nearby Turkmenistan. Pakistani and Indian officials met in New Delhi to discuss prospects for the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline.

Huge energy imports last year caused Japan to record its first trade deficit in 30 years. After the Fukushima disaster, the government shut down 46 of 50 nuclear reactors and the country had to import liquified natural gas, coal and oil.  Fossil fuel energy imports made up 1/3 of Japan’s imports in 2011.

Just a few years after it started, Australia’s liquefied natural gas bonanza may be drawing to a close, throttled by swelling costs, tightening credit and mounting foreign competition to supply Asian buyers. Competition from North America and Russia is expected to limit Australia’s sales opportunities to Asia. Moreover, the costs of the country’s LNG projects are higher than their competitors, partly due to its higher labour costs. With cheaper projects available elsewhere and credit tightening globally, financiers are unlikely to want to lend to Australian gas ventures.




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