The Korea Herald surprised us with the news that South Korea is going to build the world’s largest hydrogen-powered town. The “Hydrogen Town Pilot Project” aims to establish futuristic energy infrastructure that uses waste hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell technologies to meet the nation’s energy consumption needs. The town will use hydrogen emitted as exhaust during the manufacture of petrochemical products and power plant operations. Hydrogen tanks and pipelines will be installed in August and the town could be operational by the end of this year.

The Regina Leader-Post talked about coal’s role as an economic indicator. Economists look at the price of coal as an important indicator for the steel industry and as an alternate source of energy. It can also be used as a relative indicator for historical ratios between energy prices. Coal is primarily used for two purposes. Metallurgical coal, also known as hard coking coal, is a key ingredient in the smelting process of steel because it burns cleanly at a high enough temperature. As a result, global trends in coking coal consumption can be used as an indicator for the health of steel production and, therefore, manufacturing and construction. Thermal coal is less expensive and primarily used to generate electricity, a purpose it shares with other fuel sources such as natural gas, biomass, wind, and solar power. Prices for coking coal have been largely flat in 2012 while thermal coal is down 15.9% on the year. These prices illustrate respectively the state of the global economy and the glut of natural gas in North America.

From UPI we learned the International Energy Agency warned Asia to brace for energy woes. The IEA estimates that energy demand from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will expand 90% in the next 25 years. The growth rate, about 2.3% per year, will be double the average rate of the rest of the world. The IEA thinks that the region, heavily dependent on oil and natural gas, will need to diversify its energy sources it it wants to avoid shortages.

Eurasia Review wrote about the Swiss Alps becoming the powerhouse of Europe. The Swiss Alps have always been one of the continent’s most important sources of water and as countries cut back on the use of coal and nuclear energy, hydroelectric power from this region may be needed to meet European electricity demand. Switzerland’s 24/7 hydro-electricity would be extremely important on those days when the Sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Some 200 pump-storage stations in the Swiss Alps represent the most economic and efficient technology for storing large quantities of electric power. Reservoirs and man-made lakes can be filled up by pumping water into them which is then released downhill to produce electricity at times when other sources are lacking.

Forbes commented on energy storage as the key to US power production. Energy storage is the technology that allows batteries or other devices to harness the wind and Sun when they are abundant and to release that energy when they are not. If proven and cost effective, energy storage would allow electric utilities to avoid investments in power plants as well as in transmission and distribution facilities. It would also permit generators to operate more efficiently because they would run closer to full capacity for longer periods of time. Presently, however,  energy storage is still too expensive and untested. Power suppliers are hoping that a combination of government funding and tax changes will help make it a reality sooner rather than later. In a related post, hydrogenfuelnews discussed what it will take to modernize the US electric grid with open standards being at the top of the list.

The coming smart electric power grid was covered by several sources. OILPRICE explained Why the Smart Grid is More Than Just Smart Meters. FierceSmartGrid talked about Expanding the role of distributed generation in the smart grid. ENERGYBOOM said the smarter the grid, the less we should notice it. And ABC13 discussed the impact electric cars might have on the grid.

 

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