Prime Minister Yasuhiko Noda says Japan must restart two nuclear reactors to protect the economy and people’s livelihoods.

German electric power suppliers are suing the government for €15 billion in damages over the decision to abandon nuclear power. The country’s biggest power utility E.ON alone wants at least €8.0 billion. In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power, forcing nuclear energy suppliers to shut down their profitable large-scale power plants, while it also levied a tax on the reactors’ fuel for their remaining lifespan.

World natural-gas consumption could grow 17% by 2017 as Chinese and US demand rises, the International Energy Agency said, potentially curbing growth in global use of coal. “On the long-term, our world energy outlook sees gas demand growing faster than any other fossil fuel to 2035, and it’s likely to overtake coal as the second most popular fuel” IEA director general Maria van der Hoeven told reporters.

A surge in unconventional supplies will see the United States overtake Russia as the world’s biggest natural gas producer in 2017.  A rapid rise in production of shale gas and oil trapped in difficult reservoirs has turned the US from the biggest natural gas importer to a potential exporter and reducing its dependency on expensive crude shipments.

Royal Dutch Shell said it signed a preliminary agreement to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heavy-duty trucks at 100 fueling stations across the US starting in 2013.

Canadian pipeline company TransCanada said it was selected by Shell to build a 435-mile natural gas pipeline to a western export hub. The Coastal GasLink project will carry natural gas from the interior of British Columbia to a liquefied natural gas export facility on the British Columbia coast.

The shale Bazhenov region of Western Siberia in Russia is said to cover 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined, an area 80 times bigger than the shale Bakken region in North Dakota in the US.

A study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that thermoelectric power plants (i.e., nuclear and fossil-fueled generating units) in Europe and the United States are vulnerable to climate change due to the combined impacts of lower summer river flows and higher river water temperatures.

PlanetSolar, a solar-powered catamaran, became the first ever solar electric vehicle to circumnavigate the globe in May after 584 days at sea, departing from Monaco in September 2010.

European countries, led by Germany, get more of their electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources than any other region in the world.

The definition used to decide which UK households need hand-outs to help pay heating bills is being changed after the Energy Secretary realised the Queen could be considered in “fuel poverty”. Currently a household is considered ‘fuel poor’ if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income to maintain “an adequate level of warmth” in all rooms in the house. This means that the Queen, who has an enormous number of rooms to heat, could be considered as living in fuel poverty and therefore be eligible for grants.

Greece faces the threat of rolling power blackouts as the economic crisis leaves electric utilities without cash to pay for natural gas imports and operate power stations. Regulators will meet with Greece’s power market operator as early as today to discuss an emergency loan of 300 million euros ($375 million) to cover payments for gas imports from Russia’s OAO Gazprom, Turkey’s Botas AS and Italy’s Eni SpA. The country’s largest power producer is almost out of money and likely to default after unpaid accounts jumped more than 50% in a year.

Australia’s carbon tax, to take effect July 1st, is predicted to increase electricity prices in the state of Western Australia from 9-10 % according to studies by electric utilities and the federal treasury department.  A similar rise will occur in the state of New South Wales where the carbon tax will account for half of the 18% increase in electricity prices on July 1st.



with h/t Tom Whipple

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