Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. said the volume of natural gas estimated in the Tamar field off Israel stands at 11.2 trillion cubic feet, with an additional 14.6 million barrels of condensate. This is a 13% increase from the previous estimate of this natural gas bonanza. Condensate is an ultra-light mixture of hydrocarbon liquids. Once on stream, Tamar and iis sister field, Leviathan, could account for more than 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas production per day. Leviathan, the larger of the two fields, is slated to start natural gas deliveries by the end of 2019. Jordanian electric power utilities are among the first to express interest in natural gas produced offshore Israel.

Wood Resource Quarterly reports Asia’s biggest importers of wood pellets are South Korea and Japan. The countries are using the biomass to substitute for coal and nuclear to produce electricity. Consumption of pellets in Japan and South Korea has increased quite rapidly the past four years because of new government requirements which favor increasing the usage of renewable energy. With an urgent need to replace nuclear energy and generous feed-in-tariffs, it is expected that Japan will increase importation of wood pellets quite substantially over the next five years. Vietnam and Canada are the major suppliers of wood pellets to the Asian market.

The Baltic country of Latvia has a wood pellet plant to supply heat and electricity to other parts of Europe. Located in Brocēni, it is a combined wood pellet production and cogeneration facility with a thermal (heating) capacity of 19.4 megawatts (MW) and an electrical capacity of 3.98 MW. The plant makes 120,000 metric-ton of wood pellets per year which are sourced from surplus bark and chipped wood from the pellet production process. Most of the wood pellets are are exported to the European market, while excess heat and electricity made at the plant is sent to the Nordic and Baltic power market.

In Germany, 35% of its electricity came from renewable energy sources for the first half of this year. Having decided in 2011 to phase out its nuclear plants by 2022, the country has invested heavily in wind and solar to replace nuclear-produced electricity. The German government has pledged to move to a decarbonised economy by the middle of this century and has set a target of 80% renewables for gross power consumption by 2050. Currently 85% of Germany’s gross power is from fossil fuels (transportation, heating) while 15% is renewable (electricity.)  Recently the The German Renewable Energy Federation said: “On the way to decarbonization, 85 percent are still ahead of us…Under the current conditions, Germany will clearly miss the mandatory European Union target of 18 percent renewable energies in the gross final energy consumption in 2020.”

The US Energy Information Administration said the country got more electricity from renewable sources than nuclear power in March and April. This is the first time this has happened since 1984. The growth in renewable energy was fueled by scores of of new wind and solar farms, as well as recent increases in hydroelectric power as a result of heavy snow and rain in the western states last winter. The pace of construction of new nuclear reactors in the US has slowed in recent decades amid soaring costs and growing public opposition.  Despite the rise in renewables, the US gets nearly two-thirds of its electricity from natural gas and coal. Nuclear and renewables each account for less than 20% of total electricity generation.

Cities in the US that now are getting their electricity 100% from renewables (hydro, wind, solar, biofuels) are Aspen, Colorado; Georgetown, Texas; Burlington, Vermont; Greensburg, Kansas; and Rockport, Missouri. Kodiak Island, Alaska, is 99% renewable  but uses small amounts of diesel as a backup fuel source.

The US city of Edmonds, Washington announced it intends to get 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2025. The plan is to have all city-owned buildings on renewables by 2019 and the rest of the city by the target date.  Currently the city gets 88% of its electricity from hydro and 12% from fossil fuels.

Germany has launched a €60-million, three-year consortium of leading industrial companies, including BMW, Daimler, and Ford, to investigate high-volume production of automotive fuel cell stacks. The government is funding the project. The “AutoStack Industry” project aims to provide the technical, economic and technological basis for the commercial introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Germany and Europe by 2020. Currently, fuel cell stacks are largely assembled by hand. Automated assembly saves time and costs and is therefore a prerequisite for a broad market launch of fuel cell vehicles. The partners in the project will create common specifications and derive stack and component designs from this, then build a prototype stack. At the same time, the technology is being researched for a scalable and flexible production plant with a potential target capacity of 30,000 fuel cell stacks per year. The plant would produce stacks in the power range from 10 to 150 kilowatts with a life expectancy of at least 5,500 hours.

Market research company, Lux Research, has concluded  the question is when—not if—a diesel ban will happen. Lux has compiled a non-exhaustive list of major global cities that have either called for a ban on diesel or are introducing restrictions to limit the number of diesel vehicles—a step that will eventually lead to a ban. The market research organization ranked each city on the likelihood of an eventual ban on diesel vehicles. As of now, no cities or countries have imposed a blanket ban. London, Stuttgart, and Oslo have or will have aggressive policies that severely restrict the use of diesel vehicles. Paris and Madrid have publicly announced intentions of banning diesel vehicles by 2025. Seoul and Singapore announced they have or will have restrictions on diesel vehicles, but have not formally signaled their intention for a blanket ban. Said Lux:

“…the idea of a diesel ban is rapidly gaining traction, and with diesel car manufacturers struggling to abide with existing regulations, it appears that diesel’s days are numbered. The question is, therefore, when—not if—a ban will happen. Various stakeholders in the industry are already taking notice. Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson is anticipating a diesel-free future and recently said that the company intends to phase out development of diesel engines in favor of electric powertrains by 2023.”

Volvo has become the first traditional  auto manufacturer to signal the end of the internal combustion engine. It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021 and a range of hybrid models, although it will still be making internal combustion engines. Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, wants to sell one million electric cars by 2025. Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo’s carmaking division, said: “People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.” From 2021 European auto makers must ensure that across their fleets, average CO2 output is no higher than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is a lot lower than current levels. Automakers around the world are responding by developing fully-electric models which  do not emit CO2.

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