Japan expects nuclear power to supply as much as 22% of the nation’s electricity needs by 2030. Another 24% will be supplied by hydro power and solar. The other sources of supply will be natural gas (27%), coal (26%) and crude oil (3%).  All in all, renewable sources will supply almost half of the Asian nation’s electricity 15 years from now. Nuclear generated slightly more than a quarter of Japan’s electricity before the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. Japan is now without nuclear while maintenance and safety checks are conducted on the country’s existing fleet of reactors.

Global energy subsidies are projected at US$5.3 trillion in 2015, or 6.5% of global GDP, according to a recent study by the International Monetary Fund. The organization says subsidies are projected to remain high, despite sharp declines in international energy prices. High growth in energy consumption (especially coal), inflation, real income growth and persistent undercharging for environmental costs (eg. pollution) are all key factors. China provides the highest subsidy when measured in dollar terms, Ukraine in percent of GDP, and Qatar in per capita subsidies. (See chart below.)

 

 

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UK think tank Policy Exchange finds the UK government has been “reckless and wasteful” in spending consumers’ money on green energy subsidies. Household energy bills have risen by £120 as a direct result of implementing these policies and the costs of running energy networks. “This is reckless and wasteful spending of consumers’ money – the impact of which will be felt for decades to come given the duration of some of the commitments made,” the Exchange says. The Department of Energy and Climate Change responded to the criticism by saying the government has recently announced reforms to remove subsidies for onshore wind energy.

Pakistan continues to experience an acute energy crisis. The city of Karachi plunged into darkness twice last week due to failures at multiple sites run by K-Electric, Pakistan’s only private electricity provider. The blackouts came just two weeks after a heatwave, compounded by power outages, claimed the lives of more than 1000 people.

IHS Automotive reports that Norway continues to lead the global electric vehicle/plug-in hybrid vehicle (EV/PHEV) market. In the first quarter of 2015 these vehicles accounted for one third of new vehicles registered in the northern European nation. EVs in Norway have benefited from a number of incentives, including no import taxes, thereby enabling the vehicles a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine (ICE). The dominant model among Norwegian consumers during the first quarter was the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Market share for electric vehicles in the US remains low, accounting for just 0.006% of all vehicles (3.9 million) purchased in that country during the first quarter of 2015. Through June, Nissan Leaf sales are down 23% over 2014, Toyota Prius sales are down 16%, and Chevrolet Volt sales have dropped 35%.

In the US there are only 10,000 public electric vehicle chargers versus 140,000 gasoline stations. Many in the auto industry see the lack of EV charging infrastructure as one of the biggest barriers to EV sales growth — there remains nearly a complete lack of charging in areas that aren’t big EV markets, making road trips nearly impossible. Until the infrastructure problem is solved, EVs are likely to remain a second vehicle for most US families. Additionally, many EV drivers are finding that the daily cost of parking near their work in order to access a charging station is offsetting the economic advantages of owing an EV compared with a gasoline powered vehicle.

 

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