businessGreen said plans have been announced to install the UK’s largest hydrogen fuel cell to help power a chemicals plant in Essex. The cell should be able to produce 1 MW of electrical power using hydrogen generated as a by-product in the manufacture of chlorine and caustic soda at  Industrial Chemical’s chlor-alkali plant. It is understood this is  the largest alkaline fuel cell system announced anywhere in the world. The project could provide a template for other chemical plants around the world. Around 1.4 million metric tonnes of hydrogen is estimated to be produced by the chlor-alkali industry worldwide, of which 15% is vented or flared, providing a significant potential free source of fuel for fuel cell developers.

Lab Manager noted that Nuclear Fuel Recycling Could Offer Plentiful Energy. Currently, only about 5% of the uranium in a fuel rod gets fissioned for energy; after that, the rods are taken out of the reactor and put into permanent storage we call “nuclear waste”. The post tells how fast reactors have the ability to “recycle” used fuel to get much more energy out of it and explains how work at the US Department of Energy is making fast reactors possible. Fast reactors can get electricity out of many kinds of fuel, including all of that leftover used fuel from today’s light water fission reactors. “f we built fast reactors, it would be entirely possible to take all of the used fuel we’ve generated over the past 60 years, currently stored at reactor sites, and feed it back into fast reactors. Some of it would still need to be permanently stored, but far less; recycling all of the uranium and other actinides would reduce the volume of waste we have to store permanently by 80 percent.”

Peak Prosperity wrote about Coal: The Ignored Juggernaut. “…coal is the preferred energy source of the developing world…Prices to import natural gas to most countries via LNG (liquified natural gas) remain sky-high, easily protecting coal’s cost advantage…Accordingly, it is coal and not natural gas that provides the converged pricing to the world market. And with thermal coal trading around $2.50 – $3.50 per million BTUs, the continuing transition to coal is unstoppable.” The author points out as coal demand decreases in the US due to competition from low natural gas prices and the imposition of tougher environmental regulations, more US coal will find itself to export markets in Asia.

LNG is growing more important in the the global energy sector commented the STEELGURU.  A study by QNB Group finds the growth of the international LNG trade is one of the most significant developments of the last decade. The volume of LNG trade grew at a rate of 8.8% a year over that period more than triple the rate of overall global energy consumption. Yet, LNG contribution is still small compared to crude oil, being only 1/10th of the latter. The growth in the LNG trade is demonstrated by the increasing number of countries involved in exporting or importing it. In 2011 Qatar exported 31% of the global LNG supply.

The Asia Times described how Russian energy firms are trying to corner Europe. Recently Russian state-controlled companies, Gazprom and Rosneft, mapped out their far-reaching expansion programs in discussons with Western energy companies at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Gazprom has come up with a new type of vertical integration at the expense of European companies and consumers. Under this new concept, Gazprom seeks part-ownership of natural gas-based electrical power plants in Europe, in exchange for gas supplies from Gazprom’s fields via Gazprom pipelines. Gazprom would also be the “exclusive supplier” of gas to such power plants under these deals, thereby ruling out any competition. Gazprom held discussions with Electricite de France, Italian ENEL, and Danish DONG.  All are majority owned by their respective governments. In the oil exploration sector, Russian-owned Rosneft is moving forward on cross-investment agreements with Norway’s Statoil and Italian ENI. With Statoil, the deal envisages Rosneft acquiring a 33% stake in a Norwegian offshore field, in exchange for hard-to-access oil and gas deposits in Russia. An agreement with ENI envisages creating a Rosneft-ENI joint venture for oil exploration in Russia’s sectors of the Barents Sea and Black Sea, in return for ENI ceding oil-refining capacities in Europe and part-ownership of oil and gas deposits in North Africa to Rosneft. According to the author, “asset swaps and cross-investments are favorite Kremlin methods to increase Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, hollow out European policies in this regard, raid the Europeans’ own supply bases within and outside Europe, and gain influence on political decision-making through interest groups tied to Russian energy supplies.”

We have a moral dilemma wrote the Coshocton Tribune.  Deep below cemeteries, parks, playgrounds and churches in the US are ancient shale formations bearing lucrative quantities of natural gas. Whether to drill for that gas is causing much soul-searching. “Opponents say cemeteries are hallowed ground that shouldn’t be sullied by drilling activity they worry will be noisy, smelly and unsightly. Defenders say the drilling is so deep that it doesn’t disturb the cemetery and can generate revenue to enhance the roads and grounds.” The post explores how various communities are address this issue.

proactiveinvestors reported that China is going to speed up its shale gas exploration. China’s rich reserves of shale gas are estimated to amount to 31 trillion cubic metres, equivalent to the total amount of conventional natural gas. The gas has been found in the Sichuan Basin, the Ordos Basin, the Tarim Basin, the western Hubei-Eastern Chongqing area, and the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan.

Researchers found that UK households are wasting £1.3 billion by not fully switching off computers, televisions and other electronic devices reported the Telegraph.

Renewable Energy Focus said Europe could save €30/MWh if it adopted the Desertec wind and solar power project. Desertec envisions a power grid linking Europe to North Africa and the Middle East being supplied by a network of very large solar and wind projects in the Sahara and other deserts. The Desert Power 2050 report said that by importing 20% of its power from Desertec, Europe could save around €30/MWh in costs. Meanwhile, The North African and Middle East regions would be able to meet their needs for power with renewable energy, while developing an export industry from their excess power with an annual volume worth more than €60 billion. In a related post, Emirates 24/7 let us know that officials and experts from many countries met in Saudi Arabia last week to discuss the Desertec project.

A new study says Germany needs a green energy master plan reported Reuters. HypoVereinsbank said the country needs €335 billion ($420 billion) to fund a radical shift away from nuclear towards green electricity. To do so it will need a master plan that brings together central and local government policy and provides certainty for investors and firms involved with energy projects. The study concludes that investments are needed in new plant and infrastructure and support payments will be required for renewable wind and solar companies. By 2020, 35% of all Germany’s electricity is slated to come from renewable resources, compared with 20% today. The authors of the study question whether Germany will be able to create storage systems and construct transmission networks in time to prevent Germany from having to import more power.

Bloomberg explored how renewable energy feed-in-tariffs are distorting the electricity market in Germany and creating incentives not to invest in traditional electric power plants. By receiving a 20-year margin guarantee, solar and wind firms do not face the competitive market pressures of natural gas and coal plants. Moreover, renewables receive priority access to the national grid.  As a result, traditional plants are often forced to close down or to sell their electricity at below cost prices. Hence, mandatedIncreasing supply of renewable energy is one of the main reasons electricity prices in Germany have declined this year. “Renewables have shifted the merit order and now it’s like we have two different markets, one for renewables with 20 years’ guaranteed FIT, and one competitive for conventional power plants,” said Thorsten Korner, head of energy trading at Stadtwerke Leipzig. As a result, utilities are not investing in new capacity and closing existing ones. Swiss bank UBS predicts the average load factor of coal and natural gas plants will decline by 5% within the next three years to 33% in 2015 which will lead to 13.8 GW of plant closures.

Time told us about a plan to eradicate darkness in India and elsewhere. California-based SunEdison aims to bring electricity for the first time to 150 villages throughout India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. The village of Meerwada, India (population 400) is the first place on the list to be lit up. For 24/7 electricity households pay $1 to $1.50 per month — an amount equivalent to what they were paying for kerosene. With the cost of solar photovoltaic cells falling renewable-energy advocates say rural India is ripe for a solar-power revolution. More than 40% of the Indian countryside is still not connected to the national power grid.

Ghana News Agency reported that 39 communities in the Upper West district will have electricity within two months. The communities will be hooked up to the West African country’s national grid under its Rural Electrification Project.

WONKBLOG wondered if we are underestimating the growth of solar and wind power.

greener ideal introduced us to 8 Apps To Help You Monitor Your Electricity Usage.



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