The Energy Bulletin refered us to an article recently published in the scientific journal Nature that supports the peak oil thesis. James Murray of the University of Washington and David King of the University of Oxford say that global production of easy to reach low cost oil peaked in 2005 at about 75 million barrels a day. The “supply of cheap oil has plateaued,” said King. “The geologists know where the source rocks are and where the trap structures are,” according to Murray. “If there was a prospect for a new giant oil field, I think it would have been found.” “We are not running out of oil, but we are running out of oil that can be produced easily and cheaply,” they explain. “…given the locations of the remaining oil, getting the next trillion is likely to cost a lot more than the previous trillion” adds King. Energy Bulletin has links to others who covered this article. See also the Alaska Dispatch post Oil ‘tipping point’ has passed with much higher prices to come and Scientific American Has Petroleum Production Peaked, Ending the Era of Easy Oil?

While not buying into Peak Oil, Forbes agreed that the end of easy to get cheap oil is over in The End of Elastic Oil. Charles Kenny at Blooomberg goes further and challenges the Peak Oil and Peak Everything theory in Everything You Know About Peak Oil Is Wrong.

The James Baker III Institute at Rice University in Texas recently held a summit on North American Energy Resources.  The summit brought together distinguished industry, environmental and academic leaders to discuss the great potential of North American oil and gas resources, particularly from unconventional sources such as shale in the US and Canada and oil sands in Canada. In addition it discussed environmental challenges and concerns. The entire summit was videotaped and you can watch it here as well as read the presentations.

In a related post, the Philadelphia Inquirer related how a natural gas boom in Pennsylvania has become a glut.

The Voice of Russia told us about that country’s ambitious coal plans. In a three stage program, costing an estimated $3.7 trillion, Russia intends to boost its annual coal production to 430 million tons. The plan will focus on the country’s traditional coal mining centers – Kuzbas, Eastern Donbas, Vorkuta, as well as exploring new fields in Tuva and Yakutia. Last year the country produced 330 million tons. Russia expects the demand for coal will be on the rise in the next decade, both at home and abroad and especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Similar programs have been launched to boost Russia’s oil and gas industries and the electric power industry.

The Times of Oman reported the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) appears to be a driving force behind renewable energy investment. This finding emerges from Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly global renewable energy Country Attractiveness Indices report. It found that significant alternative energy projects are underway in the Mena region and many more are in the planning stage. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar initiative, Dubai’s announcement of a $3.26 billion investment in solar power over the next three years and Saudi Arabia’s $800 million investment in solar energy generating plants are just a few of the projects currently in the pipeline. Solar thermal energy has been a particularly popular investment with several large projects on the way in Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. The oil-rich nations view solar as a means of protecting wealth by preserving reserves for export, rather than consuming these resources locally.

We learned from OILPRICE that Venezuela is oil rich and electricity poor.  The South American nation has the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere. And yet it suffers from on-going electricity shortages. Venezuela’s most popular newspaper, El Universal, says these shortages have cost the economy $81 billion. The beginning of Venezuela’s unreliable electrical situation dates back to 2007, when Venezuela’s power sector was nationalized. Compounding the problems, strict governmental regulation combined with low tariff rates to severely limit profits, left little capital for system improvements much beyond simple maintenance. Last year the country saw widespread blackouts when a lengthy drought lowered water levels at the country’s main hydroelectric dam. The country is one of the few in the world to rely on hydroelectricity for the majority of its power production. Since the 1960s the government has chosen to export fossil fuels rather than use them for domestic power.  Now with a 15.5 GW demand, the country is scrambling to bring new power supplies online. President Chavez says that 4 Gw of new capacity will be online by the end of this year and another 2.2 GW will come online when Bolivia’s Manuel Piar Hydroelectric Tocoma Dam Power Plant is completed.

Stock & Land wrote about Australia’s lonely carbon price. Last year the Australian government announced it would be imposing a $23 per tonne tax on carbon emitting industries effective July 1st this year.  Now we find that Europe’s market determined carbon tax has been declining and is currently around $12 and is not expected to rise about $18 until 2020. The lower European price eminates from an over-supply of emission units, a worsening EU economic outlook, and an expansion of low-carbon energy sources. The economic stagnation in Europe is expected to reduce carbon emissions.  These events have lead some Australians to believe that the higher carbon price there will make their country uncompetitive in global markets and increase the tax burden on consumers.

Tunisian Sun will soon be powering Europe according to Renewable Energy Magazine. The Desertec Foundation will be building the TuNur Concentrating Solar-thermal Power plant which will ultimately produce 2 GW of electricity to be sold to Europe. The first phase is expected to begin in 2014 and the first electricity exports are set to reach Europe by 2016 via a new low-loss transmission line to Italy.  The power will be enough to power 700,000 homes. OILPRICE also commented on this story here.

New Europe told us that the European Union is failing to reach its energy objectives.  Energy poverty is increasing in the 27 EU countries as prices continue to rise. “The European Union’s policy on energy issues has failed to achieve its main objectives: ensuring access to energy at reasonable and stable prices; maintaining the EU’s industrial competitiveness; ensuring security of energy supply for all Europeans wherever they live; and promoting sustainable production, transportation, distribution, storage and consumption of energy, thus moving decisively towards a low-carbon society… Despite promises made by many governments, energy prices have soared in recent years and, as a result, energy poverty is becoming more acute than ever… Today, no single European country can, on its own, reliably provide its citizens with affordable energy.”

the olive press wrote about the green energy retreat in Spain. The country’s use of coal as an energy source almost doubled last year as the contribution of coal-fired plants increased from eight% to 15%. The environmental cost of the increase was a 25% rise in CO2 emissions in 2011 compared to 2010. Meanwhile, the combined contribution to the power supply of Spain’s renewable sector – including wind, hydraulic, geothermal and solar – fell from 36 to 33%.

ERR News said that the increase in renewable energy is forcing Estonia to review its renewable energy subsidies. Energy output from renewable sources was 12.9%t last year. a 3.2%  increase from 2010 and over double the 2009 level. The largest increase was from biomass, biogass and wind power. Electricity made from waste and biomass led all renewable sources. Renewable subsidies were up 40% last year to 57.2 million euros. The government wants to reduce the burden on consumers for subsidizing renewable power and will likely renew the subsidy at the end of this year. Not surprisingly, the Renewable Energy Association defends the current subsidy levels and has suggested the government look to getting money from the other European countries to keep the subsidy going.

The Christian Science Monitor asks: Can Germany’s renewable energy sector grow without subsidies?

Global geothermal power will triple this decade said Global Energy Watch. Installed capacity will increase from  11,086 MW in 2010 to 36,538 MW in 2020. North America is the leading market for geothermal power, with most of the existing geothermal potential in North America restricted to the US and Mexico. Geothermal energy is the third largest source of renewable energy in the US, behind wind and biomass.

Around 3000 homes in 49 villages in Pakistan’s Sindh Province are getting electricity from solar energy under the country’s Rural Electrification Programme reported the Pakistan Observer. Electrification of another 300 villages in Balochistan has been approved and the projects will be executed when funds are available. The purpose of the program is to bring electricity to remote areas of the country.

The thousand residents of Tsumkwe, Namibia in southern Africa will soon be getting electricity from a hybrid solar/diesel plant said New Era. The 200-kilowatt off-grid system will replace the two diesel-powered generators that have been limited to providing power for 14 hours a day due to the high cost of diesel.




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