The World Energy Council says per capita energy demand will peak before 2030. This is in stark contrast to historic growth levels, which have seen global demand for energy more than double since 1970. A combination of technological innovation, government policies, and lower world growth expectations are expected to have a significant impact on energy markets in the coming decades.  Demand for electricity will double by 2060 and solar and wind will represent between 20% and 40% of global electric power generation by that time. Crude oil will continue to play a significant role in the transportation sector representing over 60% of the energy mix in 2060 and natural gas will continue to increase at a steady rate.

States in Australia are beginning to remove subsidies to residential buyers of solar panels. More than 60,000 solar customers in South Australia have been the first to be hit with higher power bills after the subsidy ended last week. By January 1st, more than a quarter of a million residences in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria will lose the subsidy. The Australian Energy Council said the incentive to kickstart the market for residential rooftop solar had run its course, and now it was time to return balance to the country’s energy market by re-introducing competitive market pricing.

In a world’s first, wave energy, solar power and battery storage will be integrated in one system in the western Australian city of Perth. The project enhances existing wave technology on the Garden Island naval base off Perth’s coast by adding a solar photo-voltaic array and battery energy storage system. Construction of the electrical microgrid will begin before the end of this year and should be in operation by mid-2017. The system provides an energy alternative for island nations that presently rely on electricity generated using expensive fossil fuels such as diesel.

A small energy company, Caelus Energy LLC, announced that it has made a “world-class” crude oil discovery in the US state of Alaska, which could be the largest find in the state in years. Located on the state’s northern Arctic coast, the field could hold as much as 6 billion barrels of oil, with about 1.8 to 2.4 billion barrels considered to be recoverable. If that is the case, the discovery would instantly raise Alaska’s statewide recoverable oil reserve base by about 80%. Getting to the oil will not be easy, though. Drilling must take place in the winter and Caelus will have to build a 125 mile long pipeline to connect to an existing pipeline system in Prudhoe Bay.

Philips Lighting says it has created the world’s most energy-efficient LED light bulb.  The light bulb reduces energy used for lighting by nearly 90% and last 15 times longer than conventional lighting. The Middle East city of Dubai has an agreement with Philips whereby it will install 2 million of these bulbs for residential and commercial use across the city next year and plans to increase this total to 10 million by 2021.

The world’s largest coal plant capable of capturing its own carbon will start later this year near the southern US city of Houston, Texas. The 240-megawatt facility is expected to capture 90% of the carbon dioxide from its exhaust gas, and pump it 80 miles away before injecting it into depleted oil wells out of the atmosphere. The technology uses decades-old “scrubbing” technology to extract CO2 from combustion gasses. By pumping the waste gas into rock formations in abandoned wells, oil companies can recover the last bits of crude oil in those wells, and then sequester the CO2 underground. Only 14 carbon capture and storage plants exist in the world beyond the proof-of-concept stage, and many question whether capturing CO2 from fossil fuels, rather than keeping them in the ground, is realistic on a global scale.

German logistics giant Deutsche Post has designed and made its own electric delivery van. The company already has 1,000 of these vans on the road, and production has been raised to 5,000 vehicles a year, with the possibility of adding a second shift. Deutsche Post decided to make its own vans when traditional automakers turned down requests to build the electric vans in limited numbers. The vans are used by the firm for its own e-commerce deliveries. However, it will soon be deciding whether it will sell the vehicle on the open market and compete with other automakers. Advances in manufacturing software are allowing firms like Deutsche Post, Apple, Google and start-ups to get suppliers to design, engineer and test new vehicle concepts without hiring thousands of engineering staff or investing billions in tooling and factories. Technical and engineering know-how among this network of suppliers has blossomed since traditional manufacturers began farming out research and development to keep their own costs down after the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Today, suppliers produce components which make up 80% of a car.

 

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