BBC reported that China leads the world in green energy investment.  A report published jointly by the UN Environment Programme and the Frankfurt School of Finance, shows that China has become the largest investor in renewable energy projects. Unlike countries like India, China has a deliberate policy of offering direct support to the renewable industry sector to help it evolve and mature.

Seeking Alpha told us that computing trends are reducing electricity demand. Two of the biggest trends in computing are all about reducing that load and reducing the industry’s reliance on grid power. “The cheapest renewable energy remains the energy you don’t use. If the computing industry can use clouds, flash and solar-powered devices to cut its own energy use by just 10%, and that seems fairly easy to foresee, that will have a major impact on utility industry planning.”

From Edumunds AutoObserver we learned that global sales of natural gas vehicles will rise 70% by 2016. Sales of these vehicles are expected to reach 3.2 million in 2016 from 1.9 million last year as fleet owners attempt to move away from oil.  India will overtake Iran as the world’s largest user of natural-gas vehicles as governments push their bus fleets towards compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG burns cleaner than gasoline or ethanol, resulting in lower greenhouse-gas emissions. Also, it is much cheaper than gasoline and reduces periodic engine maintenance, because it doesn’t contain the impurities that leave deposits in a gasoline engine. Earlier we posted that in the US Ford was converting about about 100 of its Transit Connect utility vehicles to CNG to be used as taxi cabs in Southern California.

The Chemical Engineer informed us that Cuadrilla Resources, a small UK energy company, claims to have discovered 200 trillion ft3 of shale gas in northwest England.  If true, this could be enough to meet the country’s demands for several decades to come. “Cuadrilla’s claims still need to be independently verified, and in reality as little as 10% of the gas may actually be recoverable, but it establishes the UK as one of Europe’s most promising sites for the unconventional resource.”

Spain tested the world’s first hybrid high speed train according to Typically Spanish.  Its new Alvia S-730 trains can reach 250km/hour on high speed tracks, and can operate on electricity or diesel on conventional tracks at speeds of 220 and 180 km/hour respectively. They can also run on both Spanish and international gauge tracks. The hybrid train will start regular services between Madrid and Galicia in the second half of 2012. There will eventually be a fleet of 15 trains.

Spain also claims the world’s first commercial wave energy plant said Deutsche Welle. The small Spanish coastal town of Mutriku in the Basque region started getting electricity from wave energy in July. The 300-kilowatt plant produces enough electricity to meet 10 percent of the town’s needs. Operators Ente Vasco de la Energía said they planned to deploy the technology in other locations along the coast. Similar technology has been researched and improved in Scotland for over 10 years, but until now has not reached commercial maturity. (The UK Guardian wrote about wave energy plans for Scotland’s Orkney Islands here.) There are currently 60 wave energy projects underway in the world, but only Spain has a commercial operation. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that wave energy could deliver up to 30 percent of the world’s electricity.

A new study from Britain, sponsored by the London-based Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, suggested that the future of electric cars may be limited.  This from The Toronto Star: “It now costs far more to buy and operate any type of electric car — conventional, plug-in or range-extended hybrid; pure battery; or fuel cell — compared with one powered only by gasoline…while the gap will shrink, it will remain substantial until at least 2030, and likely beyond.”

OILPRICE let us know that Britain opened its first hydrogen fueling station despite that fact that there are virtually no hydrogen vehicles in the UK. Located in Swindon, England, it will be run by BOC (British Oxygen Company), the nation’s biggest supplier of compressed gases. It is hoped that this will encourage the manufacture of hydrogen-cars in Britain, which currently are made mostly in Japan.  In this article you can read OILPRICE’s concerns with a hydrogen vehicle future.

Russia was in the news over the potential for the vast Arctic energy resources. Prime Minister Putin indicated that an Arctic trade route based on shipping petroleum resouces could rival the Suez Canal  as a faster trade route between Europe and Asia, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the CBC reported that the Russians would be increasing its Arctic military presence in the Arctic region, a move likely to increase tensions in this resource rich area.  See our earlier posts on the Arctic here.

There were also more biofuel stories this week.  Vanguard reported that plans are underway to build a plant in Nigeria that will produce 30 MW of electricity from biomass as well as well as ethanol for fuel. In addition, it will remove millions of tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and thus become a veritable tool for climate change mitigation in Nigeria. Global Energy Watch let us know that by 2015 biomass is to become the Czech Republic’s primary source of renewable energy. The German biomass plant manufacturer, WELTEC BIOPOWER GmbH, built its fifth plant in the Czech Republic this summer in record time – just four monts. The plant is fed with substrates and manure from farms in the vicinity: pig manure, grass silage, maize silage, crop silage, and grain waste. It produces 366 kW of electricity which is fed into the national grid.  Waste Management World told us that Plymouth, England is going to have a 40,000 tonne energy centre that will treat wood waste and supply both heat and power.  The plant will use gasification technology to convert waste wood  into a gas fuel which will be combusted in a boiler to create steam. This steam will drive a turbine to produce electricity and heat. The facility is expected to generate 26,000 MWh of electricity a year – enough to power 6200 homes. The same source also revealed that Doncaster, England opened an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility that will handle 45,000 tonnes of food waste produced by local businesses, enough power for 5,000 homes.  The plant will generate 2.8 MWh of electricity. The UK produces 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood a year. It is estimated that recovering energy from just 2 million tonnes of waste wood would generate 2600 GWh of electricity and save 1.15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

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