The Norwegian government estimates there are roughly 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters and half of that is in the Arctic’s Barents Sea. In the past year Swedish energy company Lundin Petroleum has made two discoveries in the Barent’s Sea. It’s discovery last year at Alta, about 100 miles from the Norwegian coast, was found to have a reserve estimate between 85 million and 315 million barrels of recoverable oil and 175 billion and 600 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Recently the company drilled in a region of the Barent’s Sea not previously known to hold hydrocarbons. The well in the Neiden exploration area, 37 miles northeast of the Alta discovery, has estimated reserves between 18 million and 44 million barrels of recoverable oil and between 35 and 70 billion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

Germany is combining solar energy and farming. In a pilot project near Lake Constance, on the German-Swiss border, an organic farming company is growing wheat, potatoes, celery and a mixture of clover and grass – part of it under photovoltaic panels mounted on stands at a height of five meters (16.5 feet). The purpose is to find out what kinds of vegetables or crops are particularly suited for agrophotovoltaic (APV) production. Agronomists will use sensors and soil samples over the next three years to measure the differences in crop growth, biodiversity and crop yields. This is the first systematic research on the optimal combination between crops and solar panel infrastructure.  APV has  potential worldwide, especially in sunny regions. In areas like the Middle East, solar power generation is particularly cheap and could replace diesel generators used to power agricultural water pumps.

Tides off the northern coastline of Scotland have begun generating electric power from a 1.5 megawatt (MW) underwater turbine installation in Pentland Firth off the Caithness coast. The device is the first of four 1.5 MW tidal stream turbines that are to be installed in the area by Atlantis Resources. Atlantis hopes to expand the project to have 269 turbines generating about 400 MW of electricity. This news comes just months after Nova Innovation said its two-turbine Bluemull Sound project in Shetland had become the first offshore tidal array in the world to deliver electricity to the grid. Tidal power has advantages over solar and wind as it is not intermittent.

A massive underwater turbine has started generating electricity from the world’s highest tides in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The 2 megawatt turbine is producing enough energy to power 500 homes in the adjacent province of Nova Scotia. The 1,000-tonne machine is in the eastern end of the bay at the Minas Passage, a five-kilometre-wide channel near the town of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

China has lowered its solar and wind power targets for 2020 after finding these renewable energy sources have overwhelmed the ability of the nation’s electricity grid to absorb the new power. China is now aiming for 110 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020, a 27% reduction from an earlier target, according to the National Energy Administration. The Asian nation also reduced its goal for wind power by 16% to 210 GW. While China has spent billions of dollars on renewable energy in recent years, the ability to deliver the newly-generated electricity from where it’s produced to where it’s needed has lagged. The mismatch has left large swatches of solar and wind capacity sitting idle in some parts of the country. The government earlier expected to have 150 GW of solar power and 250 GW of wind by 2020. China idled 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind power last year, up 69% from a year earlier and idled capacity at solar farms has begun to appear, especially in the nation’s northwest.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis finds the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) face a US$51 billion annual funding shortfall to meet there renewable energy targets.  BRICS countries have set a collective renewable energy target of approximately 1250 gigawatts between 2020 and 2030, at a total estimated cost of US$975 billion. The majority of the required investment (US$622 billion) will be in China, although major investments will also be needed in India (US$157 billion) and Brazil (US$120 billion). In 2015, about 40% of global investment in renewable energy was in China, India, Brazil or South Africa.

Investment banker Morgan Stanley says that electric vehicle sales will reach 10 to 15% of the global new car market by 2025. That is three times the rate the investment banking house has projected in the past. The new projection is based on the fact that countries around the world have put in place regulations that will require auto manufacturers to dramatically lower the emissions from their petrol vehicles in just a few years time. Morgan Stanley analyst Harald Hendrikse says:

“…we believe it is the sharply rising cost of regulatory compliance on existing internal combustion engines that is pushing manufacturers to change their strategy towards electric vehicles, as much as improvements in battery technology. As more manufacturers commit to launching EVs, accessing more consumers, we think EV penetration forecasts could rise to 10 to 15% by 2025, more than three times current forecasts.”

Eight major nations – Canada, China, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US – have signed a Government Fleet Declaration pledging to increase the share of electric vehicles in their government fleets and calling for other governments around the world to join them,  including cities, regional and state and provincial governments.

RNR Market Research predicts the global hybrid electric vehicle market will grow at 37% annually during the period 2016-2020. Hybrid electric vehicles are an amalgamation of intnernal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs), often using electricity generated by braking to power the vehicle’s battery. They are produced by all the major automobile manufacturers. Having a petrol engine, they do not suffer from the “range anxiety” and longer recharging times traditionally associated with EVs.



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