Greece’s economy is in ruins, crushed by the country’s vast debt load but government officials say that energy may offer a way out of the mess wrote Der Spiegel. The country is eying a number of energy projects including solar, oil exploration, offshore wind energy production and, possibly, as a future natural gas hub. It also is looking at completing oil and gas pipelines and privatizing state-owned oil, gas and power concerns.

OILPRICE discussed how high oil prices affect the price of food. Modern agriculture uses oil products to fuel farm machinery, to transport other inputs to the farm, and to transport farm output to the ultimate consumer. Oil is often also used as an input in agricultural chemicals. Oil price increases put pressure on all aspects of commercial food systems. The conclusion: The current global food system is highly fuel- and transport-dependent. Fuels will almost certainly become less affordable in the near and medium term, making the current, highly fuel-dependent agricultural production system less secure and food less affordable.”

Clean Break argued that biofuel production is not the wisest use of land. It believes that using biofeedstocks (such as corn) in higher valued green chemicals is a more economic and environmentally friendly way of substituting away from fossil fuels than converting these feedstocks to electricity or transportation fuels. Petroleum-based products currently dominate the manufacture of fertilizers, polymers, and lubricants.

Cuba is using sugar cane to generate electricity said AFP. The country is hoping that the biofuel will eventually meet 30% of its energy needs. A new power plant, being built in Ciego de Avila province, some 400 kilometers (240 miles) east of Havana, will use sugar cane waste to supply the electricity to run sugar processing plants. Cuba is in the midst of a large project to update its electricity grid and replace millions of inefficient appliances.

The Mainichi Daily News reported that Tokyo has decided to double its electricity power generation capacity. The March crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant highlighted the fragility of the city’s dependence on the power supply system. Tokyo will increase power generation capacity in the capital by 3 GW to approximately 6 GW by 2020. This will cover about 40% of the electricity consumed in the city.  The new energy will come from liquified natural gas, co-generation and solar power.

Kenya will have a new geothermal plant in operation by mid-2012 we learned from the Daily Nation. The 540 MW geothermal plant is expected to come on-stream by April. to construct the facility, Kenya Electricity Generating Company is drilling 7000 meters underground. See also our previous post Kenya Turning to Geothermal Energy.

Earth Techling wrote that geothermal energy is on the rise in East Africa. The East African Rift System offers the prospects of bringing electricity to a large number of power deficient communities on that side of the continent.  Now a joint European-African partnership is funding exploratory drilling in hopes of finding subterranean areas in the Rift suitable for the development of geothermal power facilities.

Plastic bottles use the Sun to light up homes in the Philippines wrote the UK Guardian. (with video)  This is a country where 40% of the population lives off less than $2 a day and the rising cost of power leaves many unable to afford electricity. Some still use candles as a light source. To address this, the Liter of Light program was started 6 months ago to provide light to 1 million of the roughly 12 million homes who are either still without light or live on the threshold of having their electricity shut down. The project uses plastic bottles filled with a solution of bleached water, installed into holes made in shanty towns’ corrugated iron roofs, which then refracts the equivalent of 55 watts of sunlight into the room. The idea of using plastic bottles as a light source was developed in Brazil in 2002. The solar bulb used in the Philippines has been modified to meet local needs.

The Times of India reported that the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is bringing electricity to 925 forest villagesThe state, working with the Indian government and Norway, are in the early stages of powering street lights, homes, fans and irrigation projects using solar power. Under the proposal, every village will have a solar power station with solar panels. “All economic development is centered around energy. Once villages get power it will usher in prosperity to villagers,” Conservator of Forest R K  Dave said, adding that it would bring economic opportunities to the villagers.

ZEENEWS told us that solar and wind will light up remote Kashmir.  The Remote Village Electrification Programme is being created to bring electricity to off grid communities in remote and border areas of northern India. Each project will generate 8.8 kilowatts of power (6.6 kw from wind energy and 2.2 kw from solar photovoltaics) to gradually replace the conventional power supply and bring down the cost of providing electricity through diesel generators. A majority of these projects would be in areas that remain cut off for a few months during winters due to snowfall. 809 villages in the Jammu region close to the international border and 349 in the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh are without electricity. The project will cover 285 of these villages villages and 28 hamlets.

Solar energy is going to power a California prison posted Mother Nature Network. Merced County announced that it has commissioned a 1.4-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar array to power the county’s correctional facilities in El Nido.  This will generate enough electricity to meet 70% of the facilities’ peak electricity consumption. Over 6000 solar panels will be set up on 4.5 acres next to the prison complex. The county estimates it will save nearly $14 million in electricity costs over 25 years.

In its efforts to get off of coal, the Canadian province of Ontario is converting its coal plants to natural gas and biomass for the production of electricity. The Chroncle Journal told us that by 2014 the plant in Thunder Bay is switching to a natural gas-fuelled system while the Atikokan plant will be using forest-based biomass pellets. Power Engineering said that the fuels to be used at the two largest coal plants, Nanticoke and Lambton, have yet to be decided.

Asia’s biggest coal-fired power plant is to be built in China’s southern province of Guangxi to help reduce electricity shortages in the region reported Bloomberg. An 8 GW plant will be constructed at the port city of Beiha and begin operations in 5 years. China relies on coal to generate about 80 percent of its electricity. The plan to build the thermal station in Guangxi comes after the province suffered power shortages in recent years because drought reduced supply from hydroelectric plants. The plant will be supplied from coal mines in Indonesia and Australia.

Ghana Business News let us know that Cameroon has built the first natural gas plant to feed industrial energy requirements in sub-Sahara Africa. Textile and brewery companies operating in Magzi are the potential beneficiaries of this project. As most companies in Cameroon rely on heavy fuel oil to power their plants, this project will help them save about 40% on energy costs as well as reduce pollution. About 100,000 litres of heavy oil is burnt nearly every day by industrial companies and domestic users in Cameroon.

Reuters suggested that Indonesia’s future growth prospects could be dimmed for lack of electricity. “A business can’t grow when it is facing blackouts a few times a week,” says Erman Rahman, director of economic programs at The Asia Foundation, a San Francisco-headquartered nongovernmental organization. Almost half of 13,000 Indonesian companies surveyed by the foundation in 2010 and 2011 experienced power outages at least three times a week. Hotels in Bali have to use expensive diesel in back-up generators to keep operating when the power goes off. Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and the third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but almost one-third of its citizens have no access to electricity. In outlying regions such as Papua, the figure rises to more than half. A 2011 World Bank report ranks Indonesia 161st among 183 countries in the ease of businesses getting reliable electricity supply. Lack of private investment in energy-related infrastructure (railways, gas pipelines, electricity generation equipment) is held back by the substantial subsidies the government mandates for the price of electricity and oil. This year’s fuel subsidy bill will total 168 trillion rupiah ($18.5 billion).  While the government talks of removing some auto fuel subsidies and raising electricity rates, few believe this will happen or have any significant effect.

Meanwhile, OILPRICE wonders if Pakistan’s energy sector is about to collapse. The website asks: At what point does a nation’s energy infrastructure become unsustainable?  It appears that the nation’s entire economy is at risk from the consequences of bad energy and petroleum policy in the face of an exploding population. Population growth, which in turn generates ever increasing energy consumption rates, subsequently makes available energy resources too expensive for many industries, forcing them to close because of insufficient power supplies. And now the press runs daily stories about power blackouts and angry people in many parts of the country. Pakistan’s current electricity demand is about 25,000 MW per day while the nation’s current electrical production is less than 20,000 MW per day, resulting in a shortfall of 20%, or over 5,000 MW per day. And by 2015 demand is projected to rise to 30,000 MW per day. So far the government has responded by mandating energy conservation but the real problem, the need for a massive investment in power infrastructure, seems far off.

The SETimes reported that serious electricity shortages are affecting the Balkans. Following a month-long drought, a region-wide electricity shortage in the Balkans is now becoming acute. Suppliers have responded to steady demand and reduced supply with a price increase of 6.5 to 11 eurocents per kilowatt hour. A dramatic fall in water levels has impacted hydroelectric dams, while production from coal power plants and — in Bulgaria and Romania — nuclear facilities is reaching full capacity. Hydro plants which are producing around 10 kilowatt hours, the lowest production level since 1926. Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania have been forced to import electricity due to the drought conditions.

The American Institute for Energy Research says that citizens of that country can expect higher electricity prices due to federal and state government green energy initiatives. More than half of the states mandate a certain amount of electricity must come from renewable electricity, most of which is wind or solar. Because renewable technologies cost more than traditional coal and natural gas-fired technologies, electricity prices are higher and rising in the states with electricity mandates.

Bloomberg said that German electricity prices could rise 20% this decade as the country moves away from nuclear power and relies more on solar and wind, coal and natural gas, and grid storage investments.

euroasia review revealed that Burma is looking at a 50% increase in electricity rates (see also here) while Reuters wrote that Bangladesh is raising its rates 21%. And Nepal is raising its rates 20% to 30% said The Himalayan Times.






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