A U.S. fusion lab has made a record-shattering laser shot that focused a cluster of lasers on a single target like a mini Death Star. The new record for the highest-power laser shot paves the way for the lab’s efforts to create sustainable fusion energy, similar to what takes place in the centre of the Sun. The National Ignition Facility delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of power during its historic test shot on July 5 — about 1,000 times more power than the entire United States uses at any given time. That power came from 1.85 megajoules of energy that represent about 100 times as much as what any other laser can sustain.

India will need to import 185 million tons of coal annually by 2017 to meet increasing shortfalls. A draft paper by the government’s commission on energy for India’s 5-year plan for 2012-17 warned of “an urgent need to take effective measures to step up coal production.”

Abu Dhabi started exporting its first crude from a pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, shipping the oil from the neighboring sheikhdom of Fujairah to a refinery in Pakistan.

Chevron’s crude oil exploration deal with Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurds will doubtless incense Baghdad, which seeks to control all of Iraq’s energy resources, and spur Kurdish aspirations of independence. This is only part of wider geostrategic shifts in the region that could impinge on Iraq’s ambition to challenge Saudi Arabia as a global energy power.

Venezuela has long had to contend with the hemorrhaging of gasoline supplies as smugglers haul gas across the border to neighboring Colombia. There drivers pay 40 times as much as Venezuelans to tank up – $1.25 a liter ($4.73 a gallon), compared to 3 U.S. cents a liter (11 cents a gallon) in Venezuela.

The new French Energy Minister has said her government will continue to oppose the use of hydraulic fracturing, which was banned by the previous administration last year. “The government clearly and definitely keeps its position on shale gas extraction,” Delphine Batho told French television.

The US is at risk of relying too much on natural gas as transportation, manufacturing and electric-power industries vie for the cheap fuel, top executives of three power utilities said. While greater use of gas instead of coal for generation cuts air pollution and carbon-dioxide emissions linked to climate change, the executives said the US needed a diverse fuel mix to hedge against cost increases in any one source.

Spain’s plans to tax the energy sector more, part of government efforts to slash its deficit, are expected to raise 6.8 billion euros ($8.3 billion) a year. The production of nuclear, hydroelectric and thermoelectric energy would be charged 4%, or 2 euros per MW billed to consumers. Other forms of energy would be charged at higher rates, including wind energy at 11% to raise 440 million euros and photovoltaic energy at 19% to generate 550 million euros. On top of this first tax, nuclear and hydroelectric plants would pay an additional tax of 10 euros per MW and 15 euros per MW respectively, while hydrocarbons would face an additional surcharge of 4 cents a cubic meter, which is expected to raise 1.2 billion euros.

The U.K. government is about to publish plans to cut subsidies for land-based wind turbines. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne wants to reduce these subsidies to keep a lid on end user electricity bills. A government proposal last year recommended a reduction of 10%.

Germany’s Siemens is to supply 300 wind turbines to the United Kingdom, with each of the turbines totaling 6 MW of capacity. In total, that will come to 1.8 GW of power generation capacity.

Pakistan’s Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has raised electricity rates 12% on an average across all categories, including domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural pump set consumers. The state power corporation had proposed a rise of 55% in electricity rates. The new rates are effective April 1, 2012.

The number of motor vehicles in China in June topped 233 million, including 114 million automobiles and 103 million motorcycles. The number of vehicles is growing rapidly, showing an increase from last year of 3.7% or 8.26 million vehicles.


with h/t Tom Whipple




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