The Guardian explained The Hydrogen Economy. And techradar asked: When will fuel cells rule the world?

OILPRICE revealed aircraft manufacturer Boeing is testing a hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft. Boeing is in Glasgow, Scotland, testing its next-generation 737-800 ecoDemonstrator aircraft. One of the technologies being used is a regenerative fuel cell which stores the surplus energy produced during take-off and cruising, and then uses it to power the aircraft’s systems.

The Christian Science Monitor discussed the promise (and shortcomings) of fusion energy.

Germany is finding it expensive to exit nuclear power said Businessweek. “The country’s four main grid operators said Monday that households will from January see a nearly 50 percent rise in the tax they pay to finance the switchover (from nuclear to renewable power) — from €3.6 cents to €5.3 cents ($6.7 cents) per kilowatt hour. A typical family of four will pay about €250 ($324) per year under the tariff, including a sales tax.” With the closing of nuclear plants in the country over the past 18 months, nuclear power’s share of the German energy market has declined from 23% to about 17%, with renewable energy (wind, solar) rising to over 20%. Germans already pay some of Europe’s highest electricity prices, averaging about 24 euro cents (31 US cents) per kilowatt hour compared with about 13 euro cents in France or 14 euro cents in Britain. As the alternative energies’ production rises, so does the extra amount Germans must pay for electricity. This surcharge totaled €17 billion ($22 billion) in 2011 and analysts expect it to top €25 billion next year, or 1% of GDP. Government plans call for generating 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and up to 80% by 2050. Not surprisingly, this has led to consumer backlash, particularly from lower income groups finding it difficult to pay their energy bills. The Telegraph added Germany faces power blackouts as it switches away from nuclear, Der Spiegel noted Germans Grow Wary of Switch to Renewables, and Russia Today stated Ideology trumps reason as Germans pay the price for abandoning nuclear power.

Renewable or “green” energy is hurting Scottish pocketbooks too. The Telegraph reported Scottish Power is raising electricity and natural gas bills for 2.3 million households to pay for the government’s green energy policies. From December 3rd the company’s domestic gas and electricity prices will rise by 7%, almost three times the rate of inflation. The price increase will add around £100 to the average annual household bill and the average yearly bill will rise to £1,271. See also Daily Record Scottish Power customers join list of disgruntled households as energy firm reveals £100-a-year price hike.

British energy companies also came under fire for their energy price increases. British Gas raised its fuel prices by 6% last week, NPower will increase the price of gas by an average of 8.8% next month and Southern Electric has also put up its prices, by 9%.

Deutsche Welle told us northern Scotland is going from nuclear to wind and waves. The local nuclear plant is to be completely decommissioned by 2023 and the population of 26,000 are hoping off shore wind and marine (wave, tidal) power can supply their electricity.

eurasian review analyzed the Nigerian oil and gas industry where political instability is limiting the African oountry’s potential.

The BBC told us Ireland may have oil billions. Providence Resources Plc, an Irish and UK company, has confirmed its Barryroe site, 30 miles off the Irish coast, should yield 280 million barrels of oil. Ireland takes 25% of all profits, rising to 40% depending on the volume extracted.

environmental research web told us about renewable methane as a major energy carrier. Renewable methane is created using green energy sources such as biomass or human and animal waste. Unlike electricity, methane can be stored and can also be transmitted with lower energy losses and fed into the national natural gas grid. Biomethane produced from biomass/waste via anaerobic digesters is becoming popular around the globe. Germany is experimenting with ‘green gas’ production, generating hydrogen via electrolysis, using excess wind-derived electricity. The hydrogen gas can be used as a fuel direct (e.g. in fuel cells or gas turbines) for electricity production, or added to the natural-gas grid, or used in vehicles. It can also be converted into other fuels such as methane or synthetic gas. The post explores what Germany and other countries in Europe are doing to use this energy source as a transportation fuel.

Waste Management World observed that increasingly on-site electricity generation in the US is using natural gas. A recent report from the Energy Information Administration found the industrial sector produced 142 million MW-hours of electricity in 2011. Of that amount, 58% was from natural gas, up from 51% in 2000. Onsite generation includes both electric power generation-only facilities and combined heat and power (CHP) facilities.

Energy efficiency is the next big trend in building construction and renovation according to The Vancouver Sun. Today commercial projects  can achieve 50% reduction in energy use and become essentially greenhouse gas neutral through the implementation of cost-effective technologies such as electric heat pumps, better insulation, heating and ventilation systems. Residential savings can be as high as 80%. See also hydrogenfuelnews Green buildings to surge in coming years. To cite a specific example, SWITCHBOARD tells us about the energy efficiency retrofitting at the Empire State Building in New York. In the next few years, when the project is complete, the building is expected to reduce its energy use by about 40%–and save $4.4 million each year in energy costs.

Speaking of energy efficiency, the Hindustan Times mentioned that LED lighting will be lighting rural homes in India. Electricity deprived rural India is about to get world’s most efficient lighting system — light emitting diode (LED). Next year the government will provide LED lights as part of its subsidized solar powered home lighting systems for rural homes.LED lights are about 80% more energy efficient than compact fluorescent lamps. The solar home lighting system can run two LED lights and fans, a television and a mobile charger.

Engineering News said global wind energy capacity will double over the next five years. The Global Wind Energy Council announced installed global wind capacity is expected to increase from the current 250 GW to close to 500 GW in the next five years. Most of the growth will come from Latin America, Africa, India, China and the rest of Asia. By 2016 Asia will overtake Europe as the largest wind-powered region. However, the Council did note one barrier to industry growth going forward. A rise in protectionist practices in markets around the world had been seen over the last two to three years because of the economic slowdown and has resulted in increased local content requirements in the renewable-energy sector. An example is the Canadian province of Ontario’s solar and wind local content requirements which have been challenged by Europe and Japan before the World Trade Organization.

greener ideal noted Concentrated Solar Power could contribute over 11% of Global Energy by 2050. Global Information predicts that CSP could provide 11% of global electricity by 2050 – with 9.6% from solar power and 1.7% from backup fuels (fossil fuels or biomass).

Meanwhile, Take Part wrote about The Dawn of a Sub-Saharan Solar Revolution. “With 600 million African households without access to electricity and the micro-solar industry set to grow from 0.5 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2015, many are talking of a Sub-Saharan solar revolution.” A lack of financing as the biggest challenge to the solar industry, creating high upfront production costs for importers of solar equipment and high upfront purchasing prices for customers.

Australia’s massive renewable energy potential was a topic at Energy Matters. A study by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has found Australia hosts enough renewable energy resources to generate well over 500 times its electricity consumption. Currently, the national electricity market currently produces 200 TW- hours of energy each year.  The study shows there is potential to produce around 500 times that amount if all possible sources of renewable energy available across eastern and south eastern Australia were tapped into.

The Automatic Earth challenged the promises of renewable energy in Renewable Energy: The Vision And A Dose Of Reality. The author looks at the complex economic and technical obstacles that will prevent a rapid transition, or perhaps any transition, to a 100% renewable energy world.

The Energy Collective wrote about small cities and the smart grid.

 

 

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