ieee spectrum explored whether nuclear fusion can clean up our existing nuclear waste and Peak Oil looked at the promise of fusion. The latter said: “Despite the physics and technology difficulties of confining the plasma at these extreme conditions, progress has exceeded the spectacular improvement in computer power. In the space of 30 years power output has increased by a factor of more than one million. Present-day experiments have a power output of 10 MW. Fusion energy research is now poised to advance rapidly due to a large international investment in next step high performance fusion experiments, including….ITER, formerly known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.” You can read more about ITER here and here.

In Fusion Power On line? Environmental News Networks discussed a potential demonstration fusion plant in South Korea that could come on-stream in the 2030s. The US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is working with researchers in South Korea to develop a conceptual design for the facility. See also Science World Report Korea signs up PPPL to help develop future K-DEMO fusion reactor.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph told us that China is blazing a new trail with thorium fission nuclear reactors. China is beginning the process of creating a new generation of thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste “and cannot blow their top like Fukushima.”

We learned about heat trading as a new energy efficiency concept from CORDIS. Europe is looking at developing a heat trading simulation tool  with the object of creating an open market for heat trading, enabling consumers to save energy and contribute to helping the environment. The trading would take place within virtual district heating networks in the European Union. It has the ability to match fluctuations between commercial buildings, where heat demand is highest during the day, and residential areas, where it’s higher in the mornings and evenings.  This could benefit millions of EU citizens with locally produced heat, from solar collectors, biomass-fired boilers and micro-scale combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

The Economic Times reported that India could achieve energy independence by 2030. Oil Minister Veerappa Moily announced he is working on a detailed road map having well defined action plans to reduce crude oil import dependence by 50% by 2020, 75% by 2025, and 100% by 2030. To achieve this goal the country will have to increase domestic production of oil and gas, diversify into unconventional sources such as coal bed methane and shale gas, accelerate the acquisition of hydrocarbon assets abroad, rationalize subsidies on motor fuels, and undertake a sustained campaign for the conservation of petroleum product use. According to the International Energy Agency, India will need $600 billion in investments over the next 20 years in the domestic oil and gas sector.

BBC tried to answer the question: Is ‘peak oil theory’ delayed by fracking? (with audio podcast)

gulfnews reported the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is likely to become a net importer of natural gas within the next few years because of rising population and rising domestic demand. The country is already importing gas from neighbouring Qatar. Several Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, are looking at nuclear power after being unable to develop sufficient natural gas production to meet their rising electricity demand, especially during the summer when use of air conditioning soars. The UAE is one of the world’s top five electricity consumers (per capita) and hopes that nuclear energy will eventually help it meet 25% of its consumption even as its economy expands. Currently, about 80% of the country’s electricity is generated from natural gas, while the rest comes from crude oil.

OILPRICE looked at coal’s continued growth in the world economy pushed by the industrialization of Asia and particularly China. “Coal had many advantages for a newly industrialized countries: it often can be extracted without advanced technology; it is relatively cheap to extract; and it is often available locally. It can be used to make many of the basic items used by industrialized countries, including steel, concrete, and electricity.”  And coal is much cheaper than oil and, apart from the US, cheaper than natural gas too. In addition, the GDP of countries with a lot of coal in their mix (eg. China, India) seems to grow more quickly than other countries. Finally, coal producers in developed countries who were being constrained by climate change policies, found it profitable to export their coal to the rising developing economies.

The Economist is critical of European energy policy which is promoting the rising use of coal. “The amount of electricity generated from coal is rising at annualised rates of as much as 50% in some European countries. Since coal is by the far the most polluting source of electricity, with more greenhouse gas produced per kilowatt hour than any other fossil fuel, this is making a mockery of European environmental aspirations.”

Still with coal, The Local Germany told us that German scientists have found a way to turn garden waste into a carbon neutral coal. Garden waste such as grass, leaves or plant clippings, is placed in a kind of pressure cooker which can transform it into a form of coal, completing in a matter of hours a process which takes millions of years in nature. The breakthrough could mean an extra four million tons of fuel could be generated every year in Germany alone, enough to provide electricity for 2.5 million households.

Energy Live News said China will account for 30% of global wind power capacity by 2030. Data from the International Energy Agency shows China plans to use onshore and offshore wind turbines to generate 8.4% of its electricity by 2030. In a related post, energydigital looked in on China’s renewable energy boom.

smartplanet wrote that Latin America will see “explosive” solar energy growth. This region is poised to see rapid annual photovoltaic (PV) solar growth of 45% through 2017 according to market research firm NPD Solarbuzz. Three countries (Chile, Brazil, and Mexico) are expected to dominate the solar market and should account for about 70% of this demand. You can access the report here.

From greener ideal we were informed as to how France intends to save its struggling solar industry. The country plans to offer more financial support to small solar power farms (more than 2 billion euros in investments) to save its dying solar industry. Consumers will cover the cost through higher electricity rates.

The Deccan Chronicle told us how solar power is lighting up rural India and Daily News noted that solar lamps are lighting up Zanzibar schools.

Costa Rica plans on diversifying its renewable energy sources according to Inside Costa Rica. Currently this Central American country gets 93% of its electricity from renewable sources and 3/4 of that is hydro power. The second most utilized renewable source is geothermal energy. Now the government wants to diversify into more geothermal, wind and solar. The country will also explore the use of distributed energy, which encourages private property owners to produce their own clean energy from biomass, wind, solar, or hydro sources and thereby reducing or eliminating their consumption from the national grid. In remote areas without electricity solar panels have already been installed at rural schools, health clinics, and some homes.

The Daily Mail wanted to know why the UK is spending £110 billion to enter a new Dark Age. The author argues that the country’s green energy strategy, embodied in the new Energy Bill, is self-defeating.  Not only will the policy be very expensive for energy consumers, it will not achieve the goals set out in it. “…the ultimate scandal is that the new technologies that really do present an opportunity to create a low-carbon future (thorium fission, fusion) are being starved of funds….The UK budget for fusion research amounts to a pitiful £25 million a year, a tiny fraction of the money being thrown at wind power.” The Independent picks up this theme with how UK energy policies are causing some consumers to have to choose between heat or food. See also The Telegraph Winter energy bills ‘will reach £530 a quarter’ and The Daily Mail MPs say cost of offshore wind farms will add £17bn to your household energy bills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment on The Energy Blog World: The Week in Review

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