China has switched on its first new nuclear power plant since the Fukushima disaster two years ago. The Hongyanhe nuclear plant’s first unit has officially started generating power and is believed to be the largest energy project in northeast China. When the 4 units are fully operational at the end of 2015, the facility is expected to generate 30 billion kWh of electricity a year, equivalent to 16% of the total electricity consumption in Liaoning Province.

A French oil and natural gas consultant group said there may be more than 400 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Lebanon.

Global shale oil production could reach 14 million b/d by 2035 or 12% of the world’s total oil supply, accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a new report. “We estimate that this increase could reduce oil prices in 2035 by around 25%-40% ($83-$100/barrel in real terms) relative to the current baseline projection of $133/barrel in 2035, which assumes low levels of shale oil production.”

The Australian state of Queensland announced plans to approve the development of a commercial shale oil industry, but only under strict environmental conditions. Existing shale oil operator, Queensland Energy Resources, will be able to progress its trial plant in Gladstone in the state’s central region to a commercial stage. Energy analysts say oil shale could become the next major source of liquid fuel supplies in Australia.

The International Energy Agency said it cannot trust the accuracy of Chinese energy data.  “Few crude oil-market issues are more critical yet more elusive than getting Chinese demand right,” the industrial countries’ energy watchdog said in its latest monthly report.

Economic problems in the European Union are reflected in declines in energy consumption. Eurostat reported that EU energy consumption declined 6% from 2008-11. A modest uptick in consumption was reported in 2010 with 1.76 billion tons of oil equivalent but declined in 2011 to 1.70 billion tons. The largest energy consumers in 2011 were listed in order as Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

US crude oil demand dropped to a 16-year low in 2012 and is expected to rise only marginally through 2014,the Energy Information Administration reported.

Tokyo Electric Power purchased 15% more fuel oil in January than a year ago to run thermal-power plants that are providing a greater share of the nation’s electricity since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

It was a weekend of rage across Bulgaria as tens of thousands marched against rising electricity prices. In response the government fired its Finance Minister yesterday and is expected to announce reduced electricity prices later this week.

Spanish wind farms set a record in January generating 6 terawatt hours of electricity or enough to power nearly every household in the country. The Spanish Wind Energy Association said wind energy accounted for 25% of all electrical production in January, more than both coal and nuclear power.

The European Union wind energy sector installed 11.6 GW of capacity in 2012—enough additional power for the continent to now meet 7% of its electricity needs according to the European Wind Energy Association. This brings the EU’s total wind power capacity to 105.6 GW.

According to the Geothermal Energy Association, the US added 147 MW of gross geothermal power capacity in 2012, which is 5% more than in 2011.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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