Sustainable Business Oregon told us that net-zero energy building will become a $1.3 trillion market by 2035. Net-zero buildings are ones that produce all the energy they need. A new study by Pike Research says that demand for net zero buildings is being driven largely from Europe where zero-energy requirements are increasingly becoming required by building codes. Such buildings are characterized by air-tight construction and good insulation, drastically reducing the need for heating and cooling and often powered by solar energy.

National Public Radio wondered if cheap natural gas in the US will slow the growth of renewable energy. Meanwhile the New York Times suggested that cheap gas could put the brakes on new nuclear plants in the US.

The Oil Drum had a comprehensive economic analysis of the future for US natural gas supply and prices.

Der Spiegel informed us of Poland’s hope that shale gas will free it from Russia’s Gazprom. “A gold rush is underway in Poland, where international energy companies are scrambling for the right to drill for shale gas. Poland’s government sees the extraction as a ticket to independence from Russia’s Gazprom…” Poland has an estimated 5.3 trillion cubic-meter deposit of recoverable natural gas buried in shale of which about 1/5 is accessible. The country is hoping that shale gas will release it from dependence on Russia and potentially make it a net exporter of gas. Currently it is one of the largest customers of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, buying 10.25 billion cubic meters of natural gas from it last year alone. See also OILPRICE Polish Natural Gas Could Free Europe from Russia’s Grip Once and for All

Still on the topic of shale gas, OILPRICE reported on the massive reserves in China. China’s shale gas reserves are estimated to be larger than the US and the country is now allowing foreign firms to start drilling.

AFP reported that a Belgium firm has created a battery that can power 1400 homes. Chemicals giant Solvay says it has successfully operated the largest fuel cell of its type in the world at a plant in Antwerp. The fuel cell converts the chemical energy from hydrogen into clean electricity through an electrochemical reaction with oxygen.

Smart Grid News said that energy storage at the electrical substation level is about to take offEnergy storage at the distribution substation level today accounts for a fraction of smart grid investment dollars. IMF Research predicts that global revenues for energy storage in distribution substations will grow at an annual growth rate of 50% over the next several years. IMS analyst Donald Henschel says “We anticipate that utilities will enjoy new economies of scale in energy storage equipment over the next several years, coinciding with increased centralized and distributed renewable generation and EV charging putting more powerful strain on existing infrastructure.” 

REVE told us about vehicle to smart grid electrification where the EV power can be used in a home or business. According to a report in November 2011 by Pike Research, 100,000 electric vehicles could be feeding power back into the national grid by 2017. “If components and communication systems between car and grid evolve as planned, owners of electric vehicles will be able to generate income to offset the premium they pay for their cars by selling power back to utility companies at times of peak usage.” renew GRID also had a posting about EV charging of the grid.

An analysis by Australia’s Grattan Institute has found that a carbon price alone will not be enough for the country to meet its target of a dramatic cut in greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The institute says extra policies will be needed if clean-energy technologies are to develop to a point where they can replace fossil fuel-generated power on a major scale. The report analyses the potential of seven clean-energy technologies: wind, solar photovoltaic panels, large-scale concentrated solar power, geothermal, carbon capture and storage, nuclear and bio-energy. It finds that none will produce power at a similar cost to that paid today for coal generated electricity. Wind and solar photovoltaic energy are unlikely to supply more than half Australia’s electricity demand unless it became viable to store the energy they generated.

Reuters said that the African nation of  Zambia sees a big electricity surplus and might be in a position to export its energy The country expects to have a power surplus of about 600 MW by 2016, which should help ease the electricity deficit facing southern Africa. About 600 MW of electricity is enough to power around a million homes in an industrialised country in Europe.

The Christian Science Monitor told us about Nicaragua’s efforts to wean itself off of expensive oil and move to renewable energy sources.

Kuensel Online let us know that the kingdom of Bhutan is attempting to bring electricity to 100% of its population by 2013. Its “Electricity For All” program has reached 80% of the population and it is now facing its most difficult challenges. To reach the last 20% will require penetrating into some of the remotest areas without access roads.

From Native American Times we found out that dozens of Navajo indian families in Arizona will be getting electricity for the first time. Within the next 3 years 62 families in the community of LeChee will be brought onto the grid.




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