Energy Trends Insider informed us that a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests coal will surpass crude oil as the world’s most popular fuel source within 10 years. Electricity production in developing economies is fueling the rapid increase in the demand for cheap coal.

The boost in coal use is due to extreme growth in emerging markets like China and India, countries that require cheap fuel sources for electricity production in order to support their quickly growing infrastructures and populations. At current rates of growth, the IEA says that it expects that coal consumption will rise to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent versus 4.4 billions tonnes of oil per year worldwide within only four years; with that trend continuing, coal would quickly overtake oil as the world’s fuel source of choice….As the United States focuses more on shale gas reserves, India is expected to become the second largest coal consumer in 2017, ranking only behind China.

See also CNBC, With China and India Ravenous for Energy, Coal’s Future Seems Assured and Energy Trends Insider, Power Generation: Battle Between Coal and Natural Gas


OILPRICE observed that India is joining China in a scramble for Africa’s energy resources. Earlier this month, India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd. made a joint bid to acquire up to 20% of  a giant Mozambique natural gas field. This reserve is estimated to hold as much as 70 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. India is interested in the liquified natural gas (LNG) which can help fuel its growing economy. At the same time, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNCP) is trying to obtain an ownership interest in another large Mozambique natural gas field.  “With India’s ONGC and OIL covertly tussling with CNPC for Mozambique’s neighboring offshore Indian Ocean concessions, few things are certain – beyond Mozambique’s oil and gas officials in the capital Maputo clapping their hands.”

From In2EastAfrica we learned Japan is the first country to successfully extract natural gas from frozen methane hydrate located in the seabed off its coast. Methane hydrates, or clathrates, are a potentially enormous source of natural gas and could prove to be of great benefit to Japan which imports all its energy needs. Japan says it hopes to establish methane hydrate production technologies for practical use within five years. A Japanese study estimated that at least 1.trillion cubic metres of methane hydrate exist in offshore deposits. This is the equivalent of more than a decade of Japan’s natural gas consumption. Other countries looking to extract natural gas from methane hydrates include Canada, the US and China. See also The New York Times, An Energy Coup for Japan: ‘Flammable Ice.

Developing countries are expected to start a nuclear power boom said OILPRICE. A new report from GlobalData finds global nuclear energy generation will climb by almost 30% by the end of the decade, due in part to an influx of new nations developing nuclear programs. The research firm predicts worldwide nuclear energy generation to jump from 2,386,449 GWh in 2012 to 3,078,130 GWh in 2020, with 198 nuclear reactors scheduled to begin commercial operations. Currently some 45 nuclear-free countries are looking at adding nuclear to their energy portfolio, including the United Arab Eremites (UAE), Turkey, Poland and Bangladesh. The UAE has plans to build four nuclear power plants. The Asia-Pacific region, led by China, South Korea, and India will increase their generation capacity from 323,989 GWh in 2012 to a massive 851,698 GWh by the end of the decade.

eurasia review provided a detailed analysis of the potential hydrorcarbon bonanza in the South China Sea, a critical trade route between East and West and a hotbed for disputes over the ownership of this resource as China sets its eyes on it.

The Financial Post told how Russia and Saudi Arabia hope to emulate the US shale boom. Russia is now using hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling (used by North America’s shale gas companies) on its existing crude oil wells in an effort to improve their productive capacity. Now producers are recovering 15%  more crude from aging deposits. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, will drill about seven test wells to look for shale gas this year. The desert kingdom may hold as much as 645 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas, the world’s fifth-largest shale deposits, behind China, the U.S., Argentina and Mexico.

World Politics Review looked at the history of energy integration among Central and South American countries and what the next phase is likely to look like as the physical, economic and political drivers are transformed by new developments.  These developments include large shale gas finds in Argentina, new hydro-electric dams planned for Brazil, as well is Brazil’s deep water crude oil finds in its Atlantic waters.

Exxon predicts that US carbon emission levels will fall to 1970s levels by 2040 as the country incorporates more natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency into its energy mix. Bloomberg reported:

Energy-related emissions will fall 25 percent in part because of a “pronounced shift away from coal in favor of less- carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas,” the Irving, Texas- based company said in a U.S. energy outlook report today. U.S. coal consumption will plummet more than 65 percent by 2040 and a 5 percent reduction in energy demand will also help cut emissions, according to the report.

Still with carbon, Global ENERGY World noted Europe is postponing its carbon tax for airlines. The European Union (EU) will put its controversial carbon tax on intercontinental airline flights on hold for a year to give time for international talks to continue at the International Civil Aviation Organization. The EU hopes that the talks will lead to a compromise solution as several countries, including Russia, Canada, the US, India and China have refused to pay the tax. The tax was put in place in January 2012 as part of a wider EU effort to compel businesses to pay for part of their greenhouse gas emissions.

In Australia, network costs now amount to about two-thirds of a residential consumer’s electricity bill said theenergycollective. The recent carbon tax adds another 7%. Since 2008 the average annual electricity bill in the country has more than doubled (from $1000 to about $2300). See the chart at the post which provides data for the state of New South Wales (NSW).

Coping with surplus wind  power is costly. A report from Canada’s province of Ontario found that surplus non-storable wind energy could cost ratepayers up to $200 million a year and compromise the province’s power grid. At present the province’s electricity system operator is unable to control the flow of wind and solar onto the system in the same way it can control the output of other generators (eg. hydro, natural gas). It all flows onto the grid, and is paid a guaranteed fixed price(feed-in-tariff). When there’s more electricity than the system can handle, the operator sells it to neighbouring provinces and US states — sometimes at a loss, and sometimes actually paying them to take it. Those losses are absorbed by ratepayers, and added to the electricity bill as the “global adjustment,” which now often exceeds the price of energy by a wide margin. As a result the operator is proposing that it be allowed to shut down solar and wind operations when the electricity is not needed.  This is being challenged by the wind and solar companies, many of who have signed 20 year fixed tariff contracts with the province.

CleanBiz Asia reported Japan’s photovoltaic (PV) market is set to grow by 120% this year with more than 5-GW of newly installed capacity, which would make it the second biggest solar market after China. In its report “The PV Market in Japan,” IMS Research predicts that Japan will benefit from the world’s most attractive solar feed-in-tariff incentive policy to surpass both Germany and the US. Projects more than two-MW in size—or ‘mega solar’— are a major driving force behind the country’s triple-digit growth rate. These projects are being deployed at a rapid rate and will account for approximately 25% of total demand in 2013. Government policy is supporting these projects while the country grapples with severe energy shortages following its shunning of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Resilience said the global solar market will reach grid parity by the end of 2014, no longer needing hefty government subsidies to continue profitably. A new study by Deutsche Bank says rooftop solar is looking especially robust, and sees strong demand in solar markets in India, China, Britain, Germany, India, and the United States. Most significantly, the bank noted the emergence of unsubsidised markets in many key countries such as Italy and India.

…this is the third report in the past month anticipating a bright future for the global solar market: UBS released a report that concluded an “unsubsidized solar revolution” was in the works, “Thanks to significant cost reductions and rising retail tariffs, households and commercial users are set to install solar systems to reduce electricity bills – without any subsidies.” And Macquarie Group argued that costs for rooftop solar in Germany have fallen so far that even with subsidy cuts “solar installations could continue at a torrid pace.”

See also pv magazine, Deutsche Bank: Sustainable solar market expected in 2014




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