China’s energy consumption grew at 1.5% last year, the lowest growth rate since 1998, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The biggest change has been in coal consumption. China’s coal usage now appears to have peaked in 2011 — a decade earlier than expected — and since 2013 has been in decline. In 2015, coal consumption dropped 2% from a year earlier. Current estimates claim that China now has a massive energy oversupply glut, with upwards of 200 gigawatts of this coming from redundant coal-fired energy capacity. This is equivalent to one-sixth the total energy capacity of the US. Renewable energy has been growing fast in China. It grew 21% in 2015 over 2014, amounting to about 17% of the global total. Solar energy grew fastest, followed by nuclear energy and wind power.

Iran announced it wants to join ITER, an international project underway in southern France that hopes to build the first reactor to demonstrate the potential for nuclear fusion. ITER stands for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and is expected to be in operation by the mid 2020s. Nuclear fusion, which joins hydrogen atoms together at very high temperatures to create helium, is the process that powers the Sun and stars. Currently 35 nations are part of the ITER project.

Germany is slowing down its renewable energy expansion. Last week it passed a law to limit the expansion of renewable power, in response to concerns that the country’s efforts to promote green energy has resulted in too much too soon. The new law will require generators of renewable energy to submit bids on a restricted number of projects as of 2017, replacing a system that allowed an unlimited number of projects to go forward at guaranteed prices, called “feed-in tariffs”. Under the new system, prices will be proposed by bidders. The new capacity limits will allow the expansion of grid infrastructure time to catch up with the increase in electrical generation facilities. According to the European Wind Energy Association, a shift from feed-in tariffs to tenders is being seen across Europe.

Germany accounted for 44% of global wind installations last year, installing a total of 6 gigawatts.

German households pay the second highest per-unit electricity rate in Europe, at 29.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Eurostat. Only Denmark pays higher electricity rates in the EU. Germany electricity rates include a 6.35 cents per kw/h government surcharge on renewable energy to finance renewable expansion.

Frost & Sullivan says the world will be increasingly powered by solar PV as the technology becomes more affordable, efficient and mainstream. The Asia Pacific countries of China, India and Japan will account for more than 80% of all solar installations over the coming years, growing to account for 64% of all installed solar PV capacity by 2020. It is the continuing lower cost for solar panels that is the main catalyst for PV growth. “Falling costs not only support grid parity but also bring increased uptake of decentralized solar energy in this low-price era,” said Frost & Sullivan director energy and environment, John Raspin.

Currently, India has a total wind energy capacity of approximately 27 gigawatts GW). This capacity accounts for nearly 9% of the country’s total installed electric power capacity. Over the next year, some 4,3 GW of new wind capacity is expected to come online. Currently, India is ranked fourth in terms of total installed wind energy capacity, behind China, the US, and Germany.

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein announced plans to completely electrify is 1100 kilometer railway network by using hydrogen fuel cells. The state expects to have a “hydrail” system in place by 2025. The first hybrid railcar equipped with a hydrogen fuel system was tested in Japan in 2006, with another passenger train completing its pilot trip in the United Kingdom in 2012. Most recently, China debuted a fully hydrogen-powered tram last year, sparking further interest in the concept of hydrail.

China’s is reporting the discovery of a large shale gas field in the Guizhou Province, located in the southwest part of the country. According to the country’s Ministry of Land and Resources, the amount of accessible gas is around 100 billion cubic meters. These reserves could meet the residential, industrial and agricultural needs of approximately 10 million people in the region.

Since the beginning of 2015, 157 North American oil companies have filed for bankruptcy with 82 being located in the US state of Texas. Hovering around $100 a barrel in mid-2014, the price of crude oil plummeted down to nearly $25 per barrel in February, before rebounding to more than $45 today. The low oil prices prevented many companies from meeting their debt obligations and hence had to file for bankruptcy protection.

Facing a financial crisis, Cuba must ration energy in a bid to avoid electricity blackouts and spare essential services.  The austerity measures come as low global commodities prices batter Cuban exports of nickel, refined oil products and sugar. The Government is ordering cuts in electricity and fuel consumption to most state-run companies and entities by 50%. Cuban companies are already slashing work hours and limiting the use of air conditioning and petrol cars in order to save energy. Cuba generates its electricity from oil and has seen its imports from its close ally, Venezuela, cut by 40% in the past year as the South American country suffers its own financial crisis.




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