AOL notified us about a potential energy crunch in the UK in 2015. Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, is warning consumers that they face a sharp hike in their natural gas and electricity bills by the middle of this decade. The reason given for the predicted hike is the closing of many British coal-fired power stations. The UK’s biggest energy problem is its supply capacity and increasing reliance on natural gas to provide heat and generate electricity. To help increase electricity supply, the UK is connecting itself to Ireland via underwater cable in hopes of taking advantage of excess wind power in Ireland. The Guardian said that the UK will also try to tap into Iceland’s geothermal energy.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer explored the power mess in the country. “With the electricity rates in Luzon now among the highest in the world and Mindanao plagued by daily brownouts, the power situation in the Philippines can only be described as a mess.  How did we work ourselves into this jam?” The post recounts the history of Philippines electricity decisions since the 1990s that have culminated in a large gap between demand and supply, high rates and shortages and distrust among the population about whose interests are really being attended to.

Energy Shortage told how Chile’s energy shortage is harming its copper industry. While companies such as companies BHP Billiton and Anglo American spend as much as $100 billion on copper and metals projects in Chile, 5 GW of electricity projects are facing delays or have been shelved.  Strong opposition to new electric power plants led to a power blackout as recently as this week. Some say the country will need to boost capacity by 47% within 8 years to keep pace with demand.

Some queried what will replace crude oil to power transportation in the 21st century. CNBC saw lots of alternatives including solar, natural gas, biofuels, and electric vehicles. However, the general consensus seems to be it will be all of the above, but not for a few decades. Seeking Alpha in What Will Replace Oil? Natural Gas Vs. Biofuels said these are the most practical clean fuel alternatives to oil. The conclusion: “The future demand for oil alternatives is sure to be so large that each will likely carve out its own purposes in the medium to long term.” Meanwhile the Christian Science Monitor asked: With all this natural gas, who needs oil?

Axcess News wondered:what should the US do with its natural gas surplus. “What should be done with America’s natural gas surplus? Use it instead of high-priced gasoline to fuel cars? Export it? Or just sit back and enjoy the lower prices for industrial and private consumers?” The question has become more significant now that the US government has given permission for a company to construct a new liquid natural gas  export terminal in Sabine, La. The answers to these questions will ultimately depend on how large the natural gas surplus is and whether exportation will affect domestic prices and use.  On this the jury is still out, as the article explains.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said that the country may still be dependent on coal-fired power stations at the end of this decade to generate electricity because of volatility in natural gas and carbon prices and a lack of infrastructure. Standard & Poor’s says gas-fired power plants are not being built quickly enough to replace coal due to the small number of investors in the market. And if gas prices rise steeply there could be even less incentive to switch from coal. S&P doesn’t think natural gas will be competitive with coal until gas is priced below coal and the new carbon tax will not achieve this. The ratings agency also says that the driver for rising electricity prices in the country is the upgrading of the aging electricity infrastructure. Renewable energy will be cheaper to generate than conventional sources of power once a new infrastructure is built.

Nuclear energy was a topic of interest. GreenBang told us which countries use the most nuclear power. The Eurasia Review reported that Switzerland’s decision to abandon nuclear energy is going to cost the country &33 billion up to 2050. The country’s five nuclear reactors generate some 40% of its electricity but will be phased out by 2034. Utility Products wondered what will replace nuclear power in Switzerland. The government is looking at a combination of energy conservation and renewable energy to replace nuclear but energy critics believer that government announcements to date will not achieve this goal. The Los Angeles Times observed that environmentalists are not happy with Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy in Germany’s nuclear power phaseout turns off environmentalists. To keep the power on 24/7 the country has had to revert to CO2 emitting coal-fired plants as well as importing nuclear power from its neighbours. Bloomberg told us that Germany’s move away from nuclear may fail if the electrical grid is not updated in time. According to ABB CEO Joe Hogan, the integration of Germany’s solar and wind projects into the country’s energy mix is unparalleled in the world and participants do not seem to realize how important the power gird is to its success.

The Bangkok Post reported that the UN is calling for a doubling of renewable energy by 2030. The UN says this target is necessary to ensure universal access to electricity. Currently, renewable energy accounts for about 16% of world electricity consumption. About 1.3 billion people on Earth — a fifth of the global population — lacks access to electricity, while 2.7 billion do not have clean fuel to cook their food and heat their homes, relying instead on open fires or furnaces that burn coal, wood or animal waste.

From Deutsche Welle we learned that wind is generating 3% of the world’s electricity. “It supplies some 20 percent of electricity in Spain and Denmark as well as about 10 percent in Germany. By 2020, the share of wind energy will have risen to between 20 percent and 25 percent in Germany, according to estimates.” The World Wind Energy Association says it expects to see a four-fold increase in global wind power generation by 2020.

Renewable energy will not be enough says the Energy Bulletin. A new report by the Simplicity Institute says that, contrary to widely held beliefs, renewable energy and other ‘tech-fixes’ will be unable to generate enough energy to sustain growth-based and energy-intensive consumer societies. In spite of very optimistic technological change assumptions, the author of the study finds that solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen, as well as energy storage systems, cannot evolve quickly enough and cheaply enough to sustain consumer societies on an upward growth path. “…the enormous quantities of electricity and oil required by consumer societies today simply cannot be converted to any mixture of renewable energy sources, each of which suffer from various limitations arising out of such things as intermittency of supply, storage problems, resource limitations (e.g. rare metals, land for biomass competing with food production, etc.), and inefficiency issues.” You can read the study here.

The Economic Times said that India will be the world’s 3rd largest energy consumer by 2020. Only the US and China will be larger. To meet that consumer demand, the state of Gujarat hopes to get 20% of its electricity from renewables by that date according to Bloomberg. livemint questioned whether India is seriously dealing with its energy demand surge while NDTV discussed India’s struggles to produce enough electricity to meet its growth objectives. “… the country cannot get enough fuel — principally coal — to run the plants. Clumsy policies, poor management and environmental concerns have hampered the country’s efforts to dig up fuel fast enough to keep up with its growing need for power.”

Still with India, 2 Zee News let us  know that a village in the northeast state of Bihar finally got electricity 65 years after Independence. The population of 18,000 alternates each week between 8-12 hours of daytime and nighttime power.

CNET directed us to an IPad app that tells us how much energy we use.

The Canberra Times thought a high price is being paid for solar energy by people living in the Australian Capital Territory. Electricity consumers are paying about $8.37 million annually for power generated by some 10,500 small-scale solar generators which produce only 0.7 per cent of the overall annual electricity demand. The feed-in tariff for solar works out to $26 per household per year but next year the government is increasing this to $50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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