Demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) could outpace supply by the mid-2020s according to Shell. In its 2018 LNG Outlook the energy company says total demand for the super-cooled form of natural gas has risen rapidly in recent years as the number of companies it has swelled, especially in Asia. Japan has looked to LNG more since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 while China has imported more as it’s economy expands and it attempts to combat air pollution from coal. Shell believes demand outstrips supply by the mid-2020s unless energy companies commit to new LNG projects soon. Shell also noted there is a developing difference between the wants of suppliers and buyers.

“Most suppliers still seek long-term LNG contracts to secure financing. But LNG buyers increasingly want shorter, smaller and more flexible contracts so they can better compete in their own downstream power and gas markets.”

CleanTechnica writes about the growing market for energy storage. Among other advantages, grid-scale energy storage will enable electric power utilities to even out the flow of electricity sloshing around the utility grid.

“It will play a vital part in converting the utility industry from one in which a few large generating stations supply power to millions of customers spread over hundred of miles into one that features thousand of power producers who share their electricity locally. That shift will usher in the era of many smaller microgrids linked by a few long-distance interconnecting transmission lines, which will reduce the cost of building and maintaining such a large energy grid with its many substations and transformers.”

A new report from Frost & Sullivan informs us the European DC (direct current) electric power distribution market will reach a value of $40 million by 2025 driven by the increasing integration of solar photovoltaic system (PV) and energy storage in residential and commercial buildings. Fastest growth will take place in the UK, IrelandGermanyFranceSwitzerlandNetherlands, and Nordic countries. Office, retail, and industrial warehouses will be the immediate targets with LED lighting serving as the gateway for participants to enter the DC power distribution market. LED lighting works well as a test bed for implementing DC power distribution in buildings due to its scalability and economic feasibility.

In five years France will have the world’s largest offshore wind turbine, which will have a capacity of 12 megawatts and stand 260 meters (853 feet) tall. With 107-metre blades, longer than a soccer field, the turbine will produce enough power for up to 16,000 households. Currently the world’s most powerful wind turbine is offshore UK,standing 187 meters tall and with 80-metre blades producing 9.5 MW. The size of offshore wind turbines – which unlike onshore turbines is not limited by overland truck transport – has grown rapidly in recent years as larger turbines capture more wind and reduce maintenance costs and capital spending. Onshore wind turbines in Europe have average capacities of about 2.7 MW.

The Australian state of South Australia has increased its renewable energy target to 75% by 2025.  “We’re sending a signal to the world,” said the state’s Premier Jay Weatherill. South Australia now generates 49% of its energy production from renewable energy.

A study published in Energy & Environmental Science finds that trying to get the US onto renewable energy alone significantly inflates the cost of overhauling energy systems.  Recently a large number of US cities have passed resolutions to reach 100% renewable energy within the next couple of decades. The study found that while solar and wind energy alone could reliably meet about 80% of recent US annual electricity demand, massive investments in energy storage and transmission would be needed to avoid major blackouts. Nathan Lewis, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology and coauthor of the study said: “Policy makers would be well advised to consider the data and trade-offs that result from this type of data analysis before adopting policies or mandates for a 100% wind/solar grid.” In commenting on the study MIT Technology Review says:

“Pushing to meet 100 percent of demand with these resources would require building a huge number of additional wind and solar farms—or expanding electricity storage to an extent that would be prohibitively expensive at current prices. Or some of both…Relying on these intermittent sources alone would require building many more solar and wind farms to produce excess energy during particularly sunny and windy periods, plus huge storage systems that can bank hours’ or even weeks’ worth of power…Storage systems are incredibly expensive in the case of batteries—and geographically limited in the case of pumped hydroelectric, which requires a set of water reservoirs at varying heights. Long-distance transmission lines which cross state lines are also pricey and can take decades to get approved and built. 

Just getting to 80 percent of demand reliably with only wind and solar would require either a US-wide high-speed transmission system or 12 hours of electricity storage. A storage system of that size across the US would cost more than $2.5 trillion for a battery system. To meet all the nation’s annual electricity needs with 99.97 percent reliability, electric utilities would have to build 12 hours of storage plus at least twice the amount of renewable-energy generation.”

The New York Times looks at the rapid growth of geothermal energy in the African country of Kenya. The country now generates about 630 megawatts of electric power from geothermal; nearly 400 megawatts of that production has come online since 2014. Much of Kenya lacks electricity; only 40% of its population of 44 million has access to reliable service.


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