The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have formed a new bank to compete with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in supplying loans to developing countries to construct infrastructure projects. The BRIC nations have criticised the World Bank and the IMF for not giving developing nations enough voting rights. The New Development Bank is expected to start lending later this year with an emphasis on funding renewable energy projects. The bank is to start out with a capital of $50bn (£32bn) though the amount is to be doubled in the coming years. The biggest contributor will be China.

Africa has become the new frontier for innovative non-food crop based biofuels’ projects, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. A new report entitled ‘Second-Generation Biofuel Markets: State of Play, Trade and Developing Country Perspectives’, says these initiatives are mainly taking place in Eastern and Southern Africa. Second generation biofuels are aimed at the transportation, cooking and electrical generation sectors of the continent. Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Sudan having all introduced blending mandates for transportation fuels. South African airways is looking to produce bio-jet fuel using Solaris, an energy rich and nicotine-free variety of tobacco. In addition, countries are exploring the use of cellulosic ethanol, a new type of biofuel produced from wood, grass or the inedible parts of plants. The focus of the report is on developing means of exploring and encouraging the growth of the second generation biofuel market across Africa.

Norway has announced plans for Europe’s largest offshore wind farm which will double the nation’s wind energy capacity. It will generate 3.4 terrawatt-hours of electric power each year when it is operational by 2020. The project will actually consist of six connected wind farms with a combined capacity of 1 gigawatt – more than the entire wind power capacity the country currently holds.

A new solar plant in the US state of Nevada can generate energy both during the day and at night. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant located about 225 miles northwest of Las Vegas is capable of generating 110 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 75,000 homes. The facility uses more than 10,000 mirrored heliostats spread across 1,600 acres to focus sunlight on a 640-foot tall central tower filled with molten salt. That salt is heated by the sunlight to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This stored heat is then used to convert water to steam and drive electricity-producing generators. Hence, this system allows the plant to deliver power on demand, not just when the Sun is shining. The salt can retain heat for months.

A new study by the World Energy Council concludes shale gas is causing a shift in the dynamics of the global natural gas market. The magnitude and speed of change brought on by shale gas production and the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is not only influencing the US market, but also markets like China, Argentina and Algeria that have similar potential as the US in shale gas production. Countries such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Poland and Turkey are also mentioned in the study has having significant potential for shale gas development. Unconventional gas’s spread around the world is being accelerated because it makes natural gas more affordable to customers and reduces concerns about the security of supply. Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, said: “So far, the surprising resilience of the US shale gas market has led the way in the shale gas boom, and whilst other countries may not have the unique characteristics of the US, they will learn how to become LNG producers or exporters which will change the global dynamics of energy.” Natural gas has the advantage of being useful for producing heat, generating electricity and for powering motor vehicles.

Europe’s market for new plug-in electric passenger cars doubled in 2015 to 186,000 according to registration data. Netherlands sold the most plug-ins (43,441) followed by Norway (33,721), the UK (28,715), Germany (23,481) and France (22,867).

A new 683-mile electric vehicle charging network has been completed in the UK. Installed by Rapid Charge Network, the road network consists of 74 rapid charging points, which are capable of charging a vehicle’s battery to 80% of capacity in 30 minutes. The network covers from Stranraer in Scotland, to Suffolk in the east of England, Hull in Yorkshire to Holyhead in northwest Wales, and connects to Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. The network was part-funded by the European Union and by vehicle manufacturers Nissan, BMW, Renault and Volkswagen.






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