The Guardian covered the vote in the Australian Senate passing the controversial “carbon tax”.  The carbon scheme (essentially a carbon trading system) is to take effect in July 2012. The purpose of the scheme is move the domestic economy away from coal and oil and towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Australia accounts for just 1.5% of global emissions, but is the developed world’s highest emitter per capita due to its reliance on coal to generate 80% of its electricity. Australia will continue to export large volumes of coal and liquid natural gas to Asia.  You can read Earth’s Energy’s earlier report on this issue here.  Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the state of New South Wales will be itemizing the carbon tax on its power bills to customers.

The same source also told us that Scotland’s green energy program may be unrealistic. Prime Minister Alex Salmond has set the goal of meeting all of his country’s electricity needs with green sources by 2020.  He said he wants Scotland to turn Scotland into the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” within this decade. Two sources (Citigroup and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers) came out this week challenging this goal stating that the target was poorly worked out, uncosted and unrealistic.  You can read Scotland’s “2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy” here.

Still with the UK, related that UK energy prices are going to rise 30% over the next five years putting great pressure on household budgets.  This is on top of a 21% rise in natural gas and electricity prices over the past 12 months.

Algae is now helping to fly airplanes according to Fuel Fix. This week a United Continental Boeing 737-800 flew from Houston to Chicago becoming the first US passenger flight powered by a blend that included algae-based biofuel along with conventional petroleum-based jet fuel. The fuel mixture was 40% algae-based and 60% petroleum-based.  Meanwhile, Sustainable Business reported that Alaska Airlines will be flying planes on used cooking oil. Over the next two weeks, 75 Air Alaska flights between Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Washington DC will fly on 20% biofuel, starting on November 9.

HydroWorld reported that the village of Boyun, Pakistan is finally going to get electricity.  A new micro-hydro project is bringing light to the village of 5000 after decades of darkness. The agricultural village of 5000 has been without electricity for decades. “For years we lived in darkness and we are glad to have electricity finally,” said Hazrat Muhammad, a resident of Boyun.

autobloggreen discovered that Chevy Volt target buyers are mainly techies and not greenies. “Early on, we talked a lot about whether our initial target market would be the techies or the greens,” said Cristi Landy, the Volt’s product marketing director. “And we concluded that it would be the techies, which we confirmed with our first customer surveys.”

Beijing will have 150 electric taxis by mid-2012 we learned from China Daily.  The 100 new taxis will have a range of 165 km and will have thermal for insulation during the cold winter months. The re-charging time is expected to be “considerably reduced” from the current 8 hours for the 50 taxis on the road now.

For those of you who don’t like to shovel snow, Honda is coming out with an electric snowblower posted autobloggreen. It is powered by a combination of a four-stroke gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors. The engine drives the auger and fan, and charges the battery that powers the electric motors driving the tracks. During deceleration, the engine acts as a generator and even the braking energy is recuperated to recharge the battery.  A nice Christmas gift for dad.

Tampa, Florida has set up eight charging stations around the city for electric vehicles. auto-types said the charging stations couldn’t be easier to use, all the driver has to do is drive up to the station, park and then plug-in their vehicles and watch them begin to charge. By the end of the year, Tampa is aiming to have around 150 charging stations throughout the city.

One of our favourite places to eat breakfast, Cracker Barrel, is adding electric car charging stations at 12 of its Tennessee locations reported Convenience Store Decisions. The stations are able to charge a battery to 80% capacity in under 30 minutes—the fastest charge rate currently available.

In what it calls a new nuclear age, OILPRICE told us that a thorium powered plant is to be built in India. Producing a workable thorium reactor would be a massive breakthrough in electric power generation. The concept is supported by enviromentalists as thorium does not produce near the amount of radioactivity as uranium fissioned reactors. India has started the process of building the world’s newest thorium fueled prototype nuclear power plant with a proposed rating at 300 MW or about 30% of a customary 1 GW uranium fueled plants. Once the six-month search for a site is completed (probably next to an existing nuclear power plant) it will take another 18 months to obtain regulatory and environmental impact clearances before building work on the site can begin. It would take another six years for the reactor to become operational.

The Manilla Bulletin commented that the struggle for energy supply is pushing Southeast Asian countries towards nuclear. Six countries in Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore – have expressed interest in building nuclear power stations in order to meet a surging electricity demand. Southeast Asia’s power-hungry emerging economies cannot afford the alternatives, which are to import more liquid natural gas and coal or to invest in large scale deployment of renewable energy.


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