In the first global energy competitiveness index launched by KPMG at the end of 2012, 146 countries were surveyed according to three key criteria: the quality of their energy mix, electricity access and availability levels and environmental footprint. The overall top ranked country was Norway, followed closely by Canada and Iceland. France was the top country in the EU at 9th and the leading African country, which came in at number 40, turns out to be Angola.

Coal’s share of US electricity generation market will rise to 39% in 2013 from last year’s 37.6% and reach 39.6% in 2014, the Energy Information Administration said in its January Short-Term Energy Outlook. EIA said coal’s rising share was a product of a projected increase in natural gas prices.

U.S. oil production exceeded 7 million barrels a day for the first time since March 1993 as improved drilling techniques boosted exploration across the country.

Turkey is drilling for oil and natural gas with more rigs than any European country and plans new rules in 2013 to speed exploration of energy supplies for the fastest-growing major economy after China.

Iran has dramatically scaled up its use of compressed natural gas (CNG) to power its vehicles, an effort which has helped ease the tightening pressure from international sanctions on petrol imports in response to the country’s nuclear power plans.

The opening of the Flat Ridge 2 wind farm in the US state of Kansas represents the largest single-wind farm in the US. The site features 294 wind turbines that can generate the annual electricity demand of more than 140,000 households.

The share of renewables in the global energy mix has increased over the past decade to about 17% but doubts remain over whether a 2030 target of 30% is achievable, delegates to an international renewable energy conference in Abu Dhabi were told this week.  Fossil fuels — crude oil, natural gas and coal — still account for 80% of the total while nuclear energy accounts for around two to three percent. At present, renewables account for at least 20%  of the energy mix in at least 30 countries, and around 120 countries have various types of policy targets.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a report released this week that the cost of renewables was falling and is competitive with fossil fuels. “The cost of solar energy, for example, has dropped below the cost of diesel generation worldwide for communities living away from the electricity grid,” the report said.

Global renewable energy investment fell 11% last year after governments in industrial nations slashed subsidies for technologies ranging from wind turbines to solar power and biomass. Investment fell 32% in the U.S., 51% in Italy, 68% in Spain and 44% in India. To a large part the decline in investment was due to the continuing debt crises in the US and Europe.

With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. The Germany’s Renters Association estimates the heating costs will go up 22% this winter. Experts estimate that 5% to 10%  of the firewood coming out of the country’s forest is stolen to be used in wood stoves.

The town of Newport, Oregon has been chosen as the future location for the first utility-scale, grid-connected wave energy test site in the US. Researchers will test energy generation potential and the environmental impacts of wave energy devices, at an ocean site about five miles from shore.



with h/t Tom Whipple

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