Russian energy company Gazprom reported total cumulative production from the Novoportovskoye oil field above the Arctic Circle has reached 35 million barrels. Eighty-five wells are currently in operation at the field, producing between 50 and 1,100 tonnes of oil per day. Pilot projects were completed in 2014 and shipments facilitated by an icebreaking-vessel made it so the company could start delivering oil from the extreme north about a year ago. Development of the fields above the Arctic Circle is costly, however, with most Russian operators waiting for oil to move above $75 per barrel to review further opportunities. World crude oil prices are currently around $50.

Canada produces two-thirds of its electricity from renewable sources according to the country’s National Energy Board. Canada is the second largest producer of hydro electricity in the world, accounting for 10% of the entire world’s generation. 60% of the country’s electricity in 2015 was produced by hydro with the remaining amount coming from wind, solar and biomass. Only five other countries in the world — Norway, New Zealand, Brazil, Austria and Denmark — produce a similar or greater amount of renewable electricity.

The Canadian province of Nova Scotia says it’s on track to reach its mandated target of 40% renewable electric power by 2020. Last year, 28% of the electricity used by Nova Scotians came from renewable resources.  Tapping into the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador three years from now will give the province the resources it needs to reach 40%.

The Global Wind Energy Council predicts global wind capacity will reach 800 gigawatts  (GW) by 2021. 54 GW of wind power were put into place in 2016. Cumulative capacity increased by 12.6% to reach a total of 487 GW. More than 90 countries are now home to wind energy. Denmark leads the world with 40% of its electricity from wind. The larger countries like China, the US and Canada source 4% to 6% of their electric power from wind. (1 GW is the size of an average nuclear power plant.)

Denmark is planning to remove its subsidies to renewable energy. The Danish energy minister, Lars Christian Lilleholt, announced that “in just a few years renewable energy providers won’t need state support anymore.” The introduction of wind capacity auctions by governments around the world has led to a dramatic fall in offshore wind prices. WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Auction price levels are dropping quicker than anyone thought. These deals have completely changed the picture for offshore wind. Offshore wind is no longer an expensive niche technology.”

Toshiba Corp. has started commercial operation of its first ever biomass power plant, a 50 megawatt facility that will supply enough electricity for 80,000 Japanese households. Located in Omuta, Fukuoka prefecture, the plant has been equipped to burn biomass in a circulating fluidized bed boiler, and can handle a variety of fuels. The plant will initally be fuelled with palm kernel shells, the highly fibrous shell fractions left after extracting oil in palm oil mills. The palm kernel shells are imported from Indonesia.

Crooks are making money in the US by stealing cooking oil. Bloomberg reports a black market for used cooking oil is growing as US refiners process record amounts of grease to comply with government mandates for renewable fuels. Last year, 1.4 billion pounds (635,000 metric tons) were turned into biodiesel. Biofuel prices have been shooting up, boosting the incentive for thieves who are getting bolder and craftier.  Sumit Majumdar, president of Buffalo Biodiesel Inc. said: “There’s an actual market for stolen oil. It’s almost like a pawn shop or scrap-metal business.”  Biofuel is now the largest use for old grease, at around 30% of demand. The year US oil companies are mandated to use 2 billion gallons of renewable biodiesel in their gasoline.  Cooking oil now joins corn and soybeans as a main source of this biodiesel.

Hydrogen-powered trains will start operating in Germany next year. Alstom’s  Coradia iLint is the world’s first low-floor passenger train that uses a hydrogen fuel cell to create its electricity. The trains successfully completed test runs in March and will begin carrying passengers in early 2018. The 300 passenger train can travel 500 miles per day on a fuel cell.


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