Saturn’s energy rich moon Titan


The markets for liquefied natural gas (LNG) will likely be oversupplied over the next few years according to Fitch rating agency. The agency observes that additional LNG capacity being commissioned in the United States, Australia and Russia is likely to result in depressed spot prices until demand catches up. The US has put more shale gas into the open market in the form of LNG, hoping to take market share away from Russia in Europe. Australia hopes to enter into the energy-hungry Asian market with gas from its giant Wheatstone LNG project. Russia’s Novatek, meanwhile, sent its first shipment of LNG from the Arctic to the market in early December. And Russia’s giant energy firm Gazprom may also want to enter the fray. China is also considering its options including financing or joining LNG projects in the US state of Alaska, a gas pipeline from Central Asia, another LNG project in the Russian Arctic, as well as Gazprom’s Power of Siberia gas pipeline.

Outer Places wonders if Saturn’s moon Titan will be the future of energy on Earth. (See photo above) This week US space agency NASA announced that Titan was one of two finalists for unmanned space exploration that would lift off in 2025 and land on the moon in 2034. Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system, larger than the planet Mercury. We now know from previous explorations that Titan has a lot of methane both in its atmosphere and in frozen lakes and oceans. It is also believed that Titan’s atmosphere is basically crude oil, minus sulfur. Having more potential hydrocarbons than Earth, businessmen and scientists are beginning to look to Titan as a source of fuel that could be mined, shipped back to Earth, and used to provide us with combustible fuel for centuries to come. At the same time, even if energy is not shipped back to Earth, Titan has enough energy to power a large colony from Earth for a long time. See also Tiny moon circling Saturn has more oil and gas than Earth

China intends to use renewable energy to provide heat for half of its northern provinces by 2019. By 2021, an estimated 70% of the heat generated in the north will come from renewable energy systems.  In northern China natural gas shortages have cause prices for this fuel to increase significantly and many households and businesses have had to go without heating during the winter season. Now the government hopes to reduce the impact of the shortages by making use of biomass, geothermal energy, solar and gas-to-power to produce heat. In the meantime, to ease the shortages this year, natural gas is being diverted from the southern province of Guangdong to northern China,

China hopes to prevent electricity generated by its renewable energy sector being wasted by 2020, announced the country’s National Energy Administration. Power from wind, solar and hydro plants is often wasted in the country as there is not enough transmission capacity to absorb it, leading to high curtailment rates, especially in northwestern China. This covers the provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang,  Heilongjiang, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia. The government expects to reach its goal by promoting the power trade market within hte country and improving its cross-region power transmission capacity.

China’s National Energy Administration said coal-fired electricity generation capacity across the country will be capped at 1,100 gigawatts by 2020.

Italian natural gas distributor, Italgas, is converting its entire fleet of 2500 vehicles from diesel to methane-powered vehicles from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The year long process starts this month with its vehicles in Rome, Naples and Turin. Italgas is the largest gas distributor in Italy and the third largest in Europe. It is the first firm in Italy to go completely methane. The company will also be constructing more than 120 natural gas filling stations in the southern European country.

A report by Global Market Insights predicts the global fuel cell market will hit $6 billion by 2024. Increasing investments in the development of hydrogen refueling stations for transportation coupled with a rising demand for space heating across commercial and residential establishments is driving fuel cell growth. Portable fuel cells may become the most popular. Japan is quickly becoming one of the most attractive homes to fuel cell technology as it attempts to create a “hydrogen society”.  The country has invested heavily in the research and development of new fuel cell systems. By 2024, Japan’s fuel cell market is expected to surpass 70 megawatts in capacity.

Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America announced it will install more than 2,800 workplace and residential charging stations in the US by June 2019 in 17 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The initiative is part of the company’s $2-billion investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and education iover the next 10 years. These Level 2 charging stations will be located at approximately 500 sites, all with more than one charging station. Level 2 charging will provide for up to 20-25 miles of driving range per hour, which would allow drivers to fully charge their EVs at their home or workplace. 75% of the new charging station sites will be located at workplaces, with the remainder at apartment buildings, condominiums and other multi-family properties. The charging stations will be installed in the following cities: Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, Seattle and Washington, DC.

Next month automaker Nissan will introduce a car-sharing service in Japan enabling users to experience the company’s advanced technologies in vehicle electrification and intelligence. Called e-share mobi, the service will initially be offered at about 30 stations in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Nara, Wakayama and other prefectures in Japan. It will later be expanded to other regions throughout the nation.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation will receive 25 35-foot long electric buses in 2019 as part of a commitment by the City of Los Angeles to deploy an all-electric bus fleet by 2030. The new buses are expected to deliver cost savings of $11.2 million over a 12-year lifetime since they require less energy to operate and have reduced maintenance costs.


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