R&D Magazine said synthetic fuels could completely replace the need for crude oil in the US. Researchers at Princeton University have found that a combination of coal, natural gas, and non-food crops could produce synthetic crude. Moreover, Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the US could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50% in the next several decades using non-food crops to create liquid fuels. Synthetic fuels are almost identical to fuels refined from crude oil and, unlike ethanol, do not require special engines.

Asia will play a key role in global energy markets over the next 25 years reported BERNAMA. A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA)  forecasts Southeast Asia’s energy demand will increase by 80% of this period. The 10 countries of the region are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and Myanmar. channelnewsasia added that Asia could account for 90% of Middle East oil exports in future as the US moves towards energy self-sufficiency.

Saudi Arabia announced its energy goals for the next two decades reported Bloomberg. The desert kingdom plans to produce 18 GW of electricity from nuclear plants and 9 GW from wind energy by 2032. The country also plans to generate 1 GW from geothermal energy sources and 3 GW by turning waste into a fuel. (1 GW or 1,000 MW is the size of an average nuclear plant.) The Saudis are also considering selling electricity from solar power to the European Union during winter seasons via Turkey. See also economywatch Saudi Arabia To Spend Over $133 Billion On Energy Projects In 10 Years.

Foreign Policy discussed the vulnerabilities of the US electric power grid. A newly declassified 2007 report by the country’s National Research Council examines the potential impact of physical attacks on transmission lines and transformers. The study focuses on the electric power system’s older technology and lack of spare capacity.

From Climate Spectator we learned the European Union has agreed on a streamlined approval process to speed up strategic energy pipelines and electrical grids. The draft law requires the final approval of the European Parliament and member states, which are expected to decide on it early next year so it could come into force around March or April. Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said: “Rather than waiting up to 12 years or longer for a permit, developers of crucial cross-border infrastructure – such as pipelines or power grids – will have a decision in about 4 years.” Faster approvals will reduce administrative costs as well as move the 27 EU countries closer towards a single energy market. The fast-track permit rules will only apply to the most strategic infrastructure, labelled “projects of common interest” because they benefit more than one member state. They could include the proposed southern corridor pipeline route to bring natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan and reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

UPI Energy Resources noted France may transition from nuclear power to renewable energy sources for its electricity supply. The week the country started on a 6-month debate on this significant energy policy issue. French President Francois Hollande has pledged to cut nuclear energy from 75%  to 50% of France’s power mix by 2020. France has 58 nuclear reactors. Hollande has also announced he had closed the door on further exploration for shale natural gas in the country. The three-phase debate begins with a two-month “information phase.” That will be followed by a “public participation” phase from January-April, which will lead to recommendations being made in May for inclusion in a June energy policy bill.

Climate Spectator argued that liquid natural gas (LNG) is renewable energy’s best friend. The same source asks: Are we ready for 100% renewables? Meanwhile the Platt’s Global Energy Forum debated the case for and against renewables and OILPRICE said environmentalists must make up their mind on renewables.

The growth of alternative energy in China was covered by hydrogenfuelnews. The country has been investing heavily in solar, wind, nuclear, and hydropower. Clean electric power now accounts for about 20% of the country’s total electricity, up from the 3.6% in 2011. The country has added 7.2 GW of wind energy capacity over the past 10 months and now boasts of a total wind capacity of 56 GW. . By adopting alternative energy, China can significantly reduce its energy costs since electricity can be generated domestically rather than imported at higher cost from foreign countries.

Balkans said Serbia has some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe. For example, solar radiation in Serbia average is about 40% higher than the European average (1,400 kWh/m2).

Reuters reported that Germany and Norway will build an undersea cable to connect their electrical grids. The North Sea is expected to be ready by 2018 and would help stabilise energy prices in both countries over the course of the year. The cable will transport surplus wind and solar power from Germany to Norway. When there is little wind and sunshine in Germnay, the cable will bring power generated from hydroelectric sources from Norway.

AOL Energy has an infographic illustrating the greening of Australia. At the same time, Power Engineering told us about the challenges facing Australia in transitioning to a clean energy future.






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