From the San Francisco Chronicle we learned that global nuclear power generation will reach 3.1 trillion kWh by 2017.  A new report by Global Industry Analysts says that escalating demand for electricity, rising crude oil prices, favorable government policies, and the need to lower environmental pollution are enhancing the significance of nuclear power.  Currently, nuclear energy generates about 15% of global electricity and is one of the world’s largest sources of electricity following fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) and hydropower. While the Fukushima incident in Japan put some brakes on the movement to nuclear, the report says that concerns are rising about the ability of existing non-nuclear resources to address this surging demand from a larger and wealthier population on Earth. The nuclear power industry is expected to remain a vital source of power for the rapidly expanding economies of India and China, where electricity supply is essential to achieving targets of economic development. The growing need to ensure energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other nations is also a major driving factor behind continued interest in nuclear. The industry’s focus on maximum safety in comparison with earlier generation plants is identified as a key factor that will encourage the growth of nuclear energy.

Switzerland’s decision to close its five nuclear power plants will cost €16.8 billion according to The Local Switzerland. The amount is 10% higher than earlier projections. The shutdown will take about 20 years. The most expensive part of the process will be the long-term management of radioactive waste. The Swiss parliament approved a phased exit from nuclear energy at the end of September, six months after the Fukushima plant catastrophe in Japan. The Swiss decision followed an earlier decision by Germany to close its nuclear facilities.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that some renewable energy is becoming cost competitive reported Climate Spectator.  The IEA said that “established hydro power, geothermal and bioenergy technologies is now…cost-competitive in an increasingly broad range of circumstances, providing investment opportunities without the need for specific economic support.”  Wind and solar are still higher priced. At the same time, the IEA defended subsidies in renewable energy technology as a necessary means to create a clean and independent energy supply system. The majority of renewable energy growth is taking place in OECD countries and in major emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. Of all renewable energy technologies, the report said hydro power remained the major source of renewable electricity, at 84% of renewable energy generation.

Reuters reported that the Dutch are falling out of love with windmills. While the IEA says that wind needs subsidies, the Netherlands is moving in a different direction. Faced with the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says offshore wind power is too expensive and that it cannot afford to subsidize the entire cost of 18 cents per kilowatt-hour — some 4.5 billion euros last year. The government now plans to transfer the financial burden to households and industrial customers as of January 2013.  But the new billing system will reap only a third of what was previously available to the industry in subsidies — the government forecasts 1.5 billion euros every year — while the huge investment costs required for offshore wind more likely that interested parties will choose less expensive technologies than wind. In the words of Reuters: “The outlook for Dutch wind projects seems bleak.”

Renewable Energy Magazine posted that Australia is sitting on a vast geothermal potential. This is equivalent to 68 times the country’s coal and natural gas reserves. The rocks beneath Australia (within 5 kilometres of the surface) store enough heat to theoretically provide 85 million megawatts (MW), or all of Australia’s current electricity demand for 50,000 years.

An Australian report reveals the start of the switch from coal to renewables noted AltEnergy Magazine. The latest Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics’ publication, Major Electricity Generation Projects, shows the transformation of Australia’s movement away from coal to generate electricity has begun, with 36% of the committed new investment in natural gas and 41% in wind. Coal-fired power generation, which currently accounts for around 75% of Australia’s total electricity generation, was only 17% of the committed new investment in power stations for  2011. These numbers suggest that in 30 years less than 20% of Australia’s energy use will be from coal.

Clean Technica said that Canada is boosting its hydro power to 88.5 GW to replace US coal. The nation’s hydropower industry has plans to invest up to $70 billion on hydro-electric projects across the country in the next 10 to 15 years, increasing its hydro-electric resources to 88,5 MW. Quebec is building another 4,570 MW, British Columbia: 3,341 MW, Labrador: 3,074 MW and Manitoba: 2,380 MW. Much of this electricity will be exported to the US and thereby reduce the demand for coal south of the border. In Canada, only 19% of electric power comes from coal, so exporting it to the US grid will have more effect on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Each year 600 coal-fired generating plants in the US burn nearly a billion tons of coal. While nationwide, coal provides 45% of US electricity, this is heavily skewed by 8 that are heavily dependent, getting between 85% and 98% of their electricity from coal – North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming and Utah.

Meanwhile Bernama p0sted that fossil fuels are to remain as southeast Asia’s main source for electricity. Exxon Mobile Corporation says natural gas and coal will continue to be the main sources of electricity generation in the area for years to come.  These are the lowest cost means of meeting rising demand from the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, mainly for air conditioning. Demand for these commodities is expected to triple by 2030.  Transportation fuel demand will double over this period as the countries in the region enlarge their personal car fleets as will as see growth in freight and marine carriage.

The World Bank is bringing electricity to 163,000 in Cameroon said microfinance focus. The bank is helping to fund the Kribi Gas Power Project, the first electrical power plant to run on natural gas in the African country. Cameroon has been unable to meet its electricity demand. The 218 MW plant will run on natural gas using diesel as backup fuel. Natural gas will be supplied from the offshore Sanaga South gas field in Cameroon. AES Sonel, Cameroon’s national utility, will be the sole off-taker for the electricity.

Lanka Business mentioned that Sri Lanka eastern villages are being lit up by China.  Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board will light up 268 villages in the former war zones in the island’s East with Chinese funding. The Exim Bank of China is providing a long-term loan of $33.3 million for the project. The project involves 106 new low voltage substations and rehabilitation of 200 substations and constructing 802 kilometres of low voltage distribution lines. Sri Lanka’s government has a goal of providing 100% electricity to the island.

A Navajo community in the US southwest is finally getting electricity. News In A Box related how solar panel system has been installed on the native American land giving its 200 inhabitants access to electric power for the first time. It was recently estimated that 18,000 out of 250,000 residents in the Navajo Reservation don’t have access to electricity.

TheGreenCar carried a story that global passanger cars will double by 2035. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the passenger vehicle fleet is expected to double to almost 1.7 billion by that time. Road transport is expected to continue to dominate total crude oil demand – it will likely be responsible for about 75% of global transport oil demand by 2035, similar to the 77% in 2010. Today passenger light duty vehicles are the single largest component of transport oil consumption, although that is expected to fall from a 45% share today to 39% by 2035.

Russia is considering challanging Europe’s energy regulations before the World Trade Organization.  Industrial Fuels and Power reported that Russia is concerned that the European Union’s rules would limit the control of natural gas export monopoly Gazprom over its European pipeline assets.  The EU rules aim to increase competition in the European gas market by forbidding suppliers from controlling the transport infrastructure used to supply their gas.

Energy Efficiency News let us know that the first commerical wave energy plant is now in operation. Scottish marine energy developer Voith Hydro Wavegen is operating the world’s first commercial wave power plant in northern Spain. Testimates that about six million pounds of the raw material is hijacked across North America every yearhe 300 kW wave power plant comprises 16 turbines housed in a breakwater in the port of Mutriku in the Basque area. It has already produced 100 MWh during commissioning and should provide enough electricity for 250 homes over its 25-year lifetime. Voith has had a demonstration commercial-scale version of the technology operating at the Limpet plant on the Scottish island of Islay since 2000.

Canada is reporting increased theft of kitchen grease from restaurants to be used for biodiesel. More and more thefts of used cooking oil and kitchen grease are being reported in Canada’s major cities.  And Canada is not alone. Some estimate that about six million pounds of the raw material is hijacked across North America every year.Once a worthless waste, the cooking and oil is being used to produce biodiesel, eithe by major refiners or by individuals who use it to power their vehicles. Small-time grease thieves are similar to the those who are steeling and reselling pipes or wire as copper prices rise. The price of yellow grease has tripled in the past decade. Rendering comp;anies are affected by the thefts as they have contracted to pick up the grease and oil and use it to convert it into other useful products such as animal feed, soap products, and increasingly, biofuel. Now heavier bins and strong locks are being installed outside restaurants to try to thwart the thieves.

The New York Times wrote about the renewed interest in direct current transmission of electricity. Invented by Thomas Edison in the late 19th century, it quickly lost out to Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse and their alternating current, or AC. At that time, AC was far more efficient at transmitting electricity over long distances that direct current, or DC. As a result it economized on the number of power plants and the amount of copper cable required to service the population. Today, AC is still the standard for the electricity that comes out of our wall sockets.  But DC is making a comeback in niche areas. More than 145 projects using high-voltage DC, known as HVDC, are under way worldwide. The constant stepping up and down of the current using AC technology has its own costs. Direct-current transmission is also better suited to handle the electricity produced by solar and wind farms, which starts out as direct current. DC grids can also more easily manage the variable output that occurs with wind. So now large electrical companies are using DC to carry electrical current over long distances from wind farms in remote areas of China and the North Sea to cities located far away. Companies like Facebook that operate huge data centers are using more DC to reduce waste heat. Panasonic is even talking about building eco-friendly homes that use direct current.

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