Amid the strife, turmoil and corruption in Venezuela, its oil production has sunk to a 28 years low, to levels not seen since 1989. This in a world of increasing oil demand. Torbjorn Kjus, oil market analyst with Norway’s DNB Bank, said:

“The Venezuelan economy could collapse at any moment. We could envisage scenarios spanning from outright civil war to a state coup, to a general strike or even just one more year of strangulating slow death for the economy. Neither of these outcomes bodes well for Venezuelan oil production.”

Energy consultant, Wood Mackenzie, projects coal-fired electric power plants will continue to dominate the energy markets of emerging economies in Asia despite tighter regulations limiting their use. Electricity demand in Southeast Asia is expected to grow at about 4.6% yearly. In response, some $250 billion worth of investments in coal-fired power over planned over the next decade. The countries affected include Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and smaller South Asian and Central Asian nations.

Finland is looking at phasing out the use of coal in electricity production by 2025. To achieve this goal, the government is considering introducing tax incentives that would encourage greater use of natural gas and biofuels over coal.

By 2019 Australia could be the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, as large projects are completed.  Australia is likely to overtake Qatar as the biggest gas exporter, before the US takes over this position in the mid-2020’s. This will result from the completion if four liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects – Gorgon, Wheatstone, Ichthys and Prelude.  Australia’s LNG export volumes are forecast to reach 77 million tonnes in 2018–19, up from 52 million tonnes in 2016–17. The International Energy Agency says five natural gas projects to begin construction in the US by 2019 will make it the world’s largest gas exporter by 2025. 

Energy Digital comments on the future of geothermal energy.

Norway is installing automatic dimmers on street lamps to save energy. The “intelligent lighting” technology was installed along an 8 kilometer stretch of highway near Oslo and automatically dims street lights when they are not in use.  Approaching cars, bicycles and pedestrians trigger radar sensors attached to the 220 lamp posts, causing the LED lamps to suddenly illuminate to 100% brightness. When the roadway is empty, the lights dim to about 20% brightness. The energy-saving lights are expected to cut 2,100 kilowatt-hours of usage per week and pay for themselves over 5 years.

The city of Fayetteville, Arkansas announced it was the 54th city in the US to run 100% on renewable energy by 2030.  This means municipal owned buildings. The city’s plan goals include:

  • 100% local government clean energy by 2030;
  • 50% community-wide clean energy by 2030;
  • 100% community-wide clean energy by 2050

Following Fayetteville, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan announced similar goals. The local government wants to operate on 100% renewable energy by 2035 or sooner. The city expects to meet the 2035 goal through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy (solar, wind) and optimal business practices.

Wind turbines supplied 44% of Denmark’s electric power demand last year, according to the Danish Energy Association. Wind farms  generated 14.7 terrawatt-hours of electricity in the past 12 months, setting a new production record (beating 42% in 2015). This figure is expected to reach 50% by 2020, when renewables as a whole are slated to supply 80% of the country’s overall electricity consumption. Presently, the Nordic country’s installed onshore and offshore wind power capacity stands at 5.3 gigawatts.

The US Energy Information Administration said about half of new electric generation capacity in the US last year came from renewable sources. Some 25 gigawatts of new electricity was added to the grid last year. Coal-fired power decreased 2% last year as several  plants closed. Coal is expected to decline another 1% this year and 4% in 2019.

Brazil’s wind power output increased by 19% in 2017 according to the Power Trading Chamber. Wind produced 7.6% of the South American country’s total electricity. Hydropower produced most of the country’s power, or about 72% of total electricity generation. Solar adds another 3%.

In 2017, renewable energy contributed to 13% of Indonesia’s total national electricity supply. This was mostly from hydropower (7%) and geothermal (5%) plants.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub, an artificial island in the North Sea set to begin operation in 2027, could supply renewable energy to 80 million people in Europe. The hub will send electricity via long-distance cables to six European countries.  Thousands of wind turbines will be placed around the island, with short alternating-current (AC) links to the island.  Converters will change wind-generated electricity from alternating current to direct current which would be transmitted over cables to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, Germany and Denmark. Dutch power grid operator TenneT claims the island will be billions of euros cheaper than conventional windfarms and international power cables. TenneT thinks the project could handle windfarms with a capacity of 30 gigawatts, more than twice today’s total installed offshore wind power across the whole of Europe. Rob van der Hage, who manages TenneT’s offshore wind grid development program, said:

“It’s crucial for the wind industry to continue with the cost reduction path. The big challenge we are facing towards 2030 and 2050 is onshore wind is hampered by local opposition and nearshore is nearly full. It’s logical we are looking at areas further offshore.”

The Ashalim Solar Thermal Power Station, located in Israel’s Negev desert, will have the tallest solar tower in the world. The generator in the concentrated solar power plant will sit on top of the central tower, at 787 feet, Construction is currently underway and the project is expected to be completed in early 2018. When operational, it will able to supply solar energy to 120,000 homes. Electric power from the project will be sold to government utility Israeli Electric Corporation under a long-term power purchase agreement.





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