Hydrogen fuel is on the rise in Japan according to Hydrogen Fuel News. Last week, the city of Tokyo announced a new plan to help fund the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells throughout the city. The fuel cells will be used as residential energy systems as well as power sources for businesses. Hydrogen fuels cells are quickly becoming a valuable energy source for the Japanese residential sector, especially since they not only produce electrical power but heat as well.

There is more shale gas that we thought we learned from Next Generation Transportation News. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report last week that says the amount of “technically recoverable” shale gas globally is 7,299 trillion cubic feet – an estimate that is 10% higher than what scientists assessed in the EIA’s previous analysis two years ago.  32% of the world’s total estimated natural gas resources are in shale formations. The EIA says there are 137 shale formations in 41 countries. The largest shale gas reserves are in China (1,115 trillion cubic feet), followed by Argentina (802), Algeria (707), the US (995), Canada (573) and Mexico (545).

UK shale gas reserves have dramatically increased said The Telegraph. Last week shale gas firm IGas increased its estimate of the amount of gas trapped within the rocks of north-west England by a factor of ten. The company reported there could be as much as 172 trillion cubic feet of shale gas within its drilling areas in Lancashire and Cheshire, equivalent to more than 50 years’ worth of UK usage. The minimum would be about 102 trillion cubic feet. A year ago IGas said it believed there were about 10 trillion cubic feet within its area of 300 square miles. See also the Globe and Mail, Massive gas find renews shale debate in UK.

mondaq looked at the LNG (liquified natural gas) facilities planned for Canada to export gas to Asia. With natural gas prices at $3-$4 per thousand cubic feet in North America and around $12 in Europe, and as high as $16-$17 in Japan,there is a large incentive for firms in Canada and the US to export gas to these high priced areas.  Until now natural gas has not been an international commodity like oil and hence there have not been export facilities in North America. Now that is about to change as the shale gas revolution evolves. The post discusses 9 proposed LNG export facilities in Canada’s west coast province of British Columbia announced to date which are vying to ship product to Asia. With their nuclear plans in turmoil, both Japan and South Korea are increasing their demand for LNG to generate electricity in these countries.

We may be in for a crude oil glut next year we learned from OILPRICE. Raymond James Equity Research is forecasting an oil glut in 2014. Shale oil production is on the ascent, with the US joining Saudi Arabia on the supply side, while China’s demand for oil may be sliding and demand in developed countries remains in decline.

Prior to about 2009, we were in a world where there was one marginal producer of oil (Saudi Arabia), and one marginal buyer of oil (China). Now we’re in a world that has two marginal suppliers of oil, those being the U.S. and Saudi. We have not added any new marginal buyers of oil. The question remains, is that marginal buyer of oil—China—as hungry for oil as it has been in the past? We also know that as economies develop, they become less energy-intensive.

If the price spread between oil and natural gas remains wide, we’ll see continued evolution toward natural gas use across the US economy… It would ultimately kick-start the next big wave of economic expansion on the back of affordable natural gas in the US.

In a related post the Globe and Mail discussed OPEC’s declining role in the world oil market and OPEC itself looks to North America as the driver behind world oil growth added UPI Energy Resources.

Meanwhile the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted a global refined oil products glut as more refineries are built in Asia and the Middle East. Climate Spectator speculated that the surplus product will likely force older less efficient refineries in developed countries to shut down. The IEA says it expects 9.5 million barrels per day of new crude oil refining capacity, representing more than a 10th of global demand, to come on stream between 2013 and 2018. Slower growth in Europe and China will lead to stockpiling of petroleum products and excess supply.

“Older plants in mature markets, saddled with comparatively high costs, might feel the heat. That those plants should find it increasingly tough to compete is a widely anticipated outcome of the current downstream restructuring,” the IEA added.”

Reuters informed us how Chinese companies are moving into the Balkins and neighbouring areas in order to supply products such as electricity to Europe.  The story focuses on Chinese electric company Dongfang Electric Corp’s decision to finance a power plant in northern Bosnia at a substantial cost discount for that country. Bosnia is  popular because it is one of few Balkan nations able to export electricity due to significant its hydro power. Bosnia needs the cash and know-how from foreign investors to enable it to expand.

“Chinese companies are clearly searching for an entry point into Europe and they see the region (the Balkans) as an entry point into Europe,” said Gabor Gion, Deloitte’s Central Europe Chinese Services Group Leader. “They are willing to spend the money when the rest of the world is in need of money. This is a perfect match”.

Experts say the energy sector in particular is drawing China’s interest because so much of that part of Europe is still dependent on aging, polluting coal-fired power plants…The need is most acute in the Western Balkans where mostly state-run utilities have invested little since the wars of the 1990s when many power plants, grids and other energy infrastructure were destroyed or badly damaged. As a result, Balkan governments have offered concessions such as building and land rights – allowing ownership to companies over a period of years before they must be handed back to the State – as well as simplifying regulations relating to planning and permits..

euobserver let us know that Lithuania is battling Russia’s Gazprom for energy independence. Lithuania is currently 90% dependent on Russian natural gas for electricity now that it has followed an European Union mandate to close down an aging nuclear power plant. And to make matters worse, Gazprom – the Russian natural gas monopoly distributor – charges among the highest prices in Europe. Gazprom also co-owns the natural gas pipelines crossing Lithuania.  In an attempt to level the playing field, the tiny Baltic country has gone to the EU demanding that  energy companies be prevented from controlling both the transmission networks and the sale of electricity or gas. At the same time, in an attempt to diversity its gas supply the country will be opening a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Baltic port of Klaipeda in 2015 to generate electricity and provide heat. Meanwhile the country is debating building another nuclear power plant as well as exploring its shale gas opportunities.

The International Business Times commented that Australian renewable energy may reach 50% by 2050. Green Energy Markets forecasts Australia is on track to sustain 22% of renewable energy by 2020 and this figure can reach 51% by 2050. The rapid growth in solar energy combined with the gradual phase-out of brown coal are major factors leading to this projection.

Engineering and Technology Magazine wrote how blackouts and rising energy costs are creating fear for UK electricity users.



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