International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol said that the shock brought by the revival of the US crude oil and natural gas industries is even bigger than nuclear power and is the biggest revolution in the global energy field since World War II.

The world’s longest natural gas pipeline is now operational in China. The more than 5,400 mile long pipeline is carrying natural gas from the central part of the country to Shanghai in the east and Guangzhou and Hong Kong in the south, crossing through 15 provincial regions. The natural gas will help bring electric power to 500 million people.

Energy companies behind the crude oil boom on the Northern Plains of the US are increasingly turning to an industrial-age workhorse — the locomotive — to move their crude to refineries across the U.S., as plans for new pipelines falter and existing pipe lines can’t keep up with demand. Since 2009, the number of railroad cars carrying crude oil hauled by major railroads has jumped from about 10,000 a year to a projected 200,000 in 2012.

Colombia announced it has reached its longtime goal of producing one million barrels of crude oil in one day, as the industry continues to expand due to massive investment from foreign companies. Colombia is South America’s third-largest crude oil producer and has nearly doubled its output over the past six years.

China will pay 8.6 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in subsidies for power generated from renewable sources in 2012, the Ministry of Finance reported. The funds will be allocated to electrical utility companies which purchase renewable power from generators at above-market tariffs. Almost 70% of the payments will go for wind power with the remainder to biomass and solar.

The European Union will likely meet its target of  20% renewable energy by 2020, according to a new report from the EurObserv’ER Barometer program. Under the Renewable Energy Directive of 2009, all E.U. member states have mandated levels of renewable energy use to ensure the region will reach a 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Germany plans to exempt 1,550 large firms from an electricity price surcharge to be levied in 2013 that covers part of the cost of switching from nuclear to renewable energy. Critics say this is unfair to households and small businesses which are required to pay the charge. The opposition Green Party estimates that the companies will save up to €4 billion ($5.3 billion), a cost that will be transferred to small business and residential customers.

CEZ Romania has started operating Europe’s largest on-shore wind farm. The 240 wind turbines have the potential to generate more than 600 MW of electricity.

Britain’s wind farms are wearing out far more rapidly than previously thought, making them more expensive as a result, according to an new study by Prof Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University.  The study estimates that routine wear and tear will more than double the cost of electricity being produced by wind farms in the next decade. The wind industry estimates wind turbines will last 20 to 25 years before being replaced.  However, the study found the life span is limited to just 12 to 15 years.

The cost of network utility infrastructure (poles and transmission lines etc.) has been the biggest driver of Australian electricity prices over the past five years, reported the Australian Energy Regulator. Network costs now make up almost half of residential electricity bills while wholesale electricity prices account for another third. Costs attributed to the introduction of the carbon tax on July 1 made up 8% and the country’s renewable energy target added another 5%.

Through the construction of a new power generating station and upgrading and modifying power generating and transmission facilities, the South Asian country of Sri Lanka has lowered its electricity transmission losses down to 12% from 25%.

China is now the largest financier on the entire African continent. Chinese corporations, financial institutions, and the government have invested billions of dollars in large new dams such as the Bui Hydroelectric Dam in Ghana. As African countries search for infrastructure improvements to accelerate their economic growth (such as electrical power and railroads), China has sidelined the role of the West on the continent.

Bolivian President Evo Morales nationalized the Bolivian electricity distribution subsidiaries of the Spanish energy company Iberdrola. He also expropriated an investment management company and a service provider belonging to the Spanish firm. Morales said he had “been forced to take this step” to ensure that electric service rates remain “equitable” in the regions of La Paz and Oruro. In May, Morales nationalized a subsidiary of Spanish company Red Electrica Corporacion, which controlled 74% of electricity transmission in Bolivia.

More and more politicians are calling on the German government to establish an Energy Ministry after the next election, in the face of slow progress in the country’s transition to renewable power sources. Currently responsibility for energy policy is divided between the Environment and Economy Ministries, which sometimes prevents the government from presenting a coherent line.



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