Singularity Hub informed us that Norway is testing a thorium nuclear reactor. Oslo based Thor Energy is working with the Norwegian government and Westinghouse to begin a four-year test of this alternative nuclear fuel at a government reactor in Halden. Thorium is believed to be safer, cleaner and more efficient than uranium. In addition, thorium reactors do not produce plutonium and thus reduce the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. See also The Business Insider Norway Set To Test The ‘Energy Source Of The Future‘.

OILPRICE had a two-part series on the transition to renewable energy as the world’s primary energy source later this century and the role natural gas will play in getting us there.  Part 1 – Replacing Fossil Fuels with Renewables and Part 2 – Natural Gas, the Perfect Bridge to Renewable Energy.

Think Progress told us 10 Energy Numbers To Remember From 2012For example, did you know that it only costs only 41 cents per year to charge an iPhone 5?

CleanBiz Asia said global fuel cell system shipments will surpass 600,000 by 2017. Pike Research forecasts annual shipments of fuel cell systems will grow rapidly over the next five years, from less than 29,000 in 2012 to more than 600,000 in 2017. The largest part of the market is for stationary fuel cells which are used by manufacturers to generate heat and electricity.  The fuel cell also include portable and transportation fuel cells with the later expected to grow more rapidly with the advent of hydrogen powered vehicles.

The Energy Tribune argued that fracking is limiting OPEC’s pricing power. A report by the US National Intelligence Council concludes that shale rock exploration has the potential to boost oil production so much that it may deny OPEC the power to set global oil and gasoline prices.

Canada’s shale resources made the news this week. The Globe and Mail observed that the future of Canadian natural gas lies in shale development and the Financial Post said investment in Canada’s natural gas sector is set to rival the oil sands.

The Financial Post added that Canadian oil sands and US shale oil production is driving non-OPEC crude oil growth. This will lead non-OPEC production to grow faster than OPEC production over the next decade.

Australia is testing a carbon capture and storage plant reported UPI Energy Resources. The objective of the plant is to burn coal with pure oxygen for less waste and confine and gather the greenhouse gases rather than release them into the atmosphere. The project is designed to catch more than 85% of the carbon dioxide of the flue gases or smokestack emissions being treated. Coal generates about three-quarters of Australia’s electricity. The demonstration phase will last until November 2014. The Callide Oxyfuel Project is located in Biloela, a rural area in central Queensland. Partners for the project include the Queensland government, the Japanese government, the Australian Coal Association, Xstrata and Japan’s IHI Engineering.

Coal will nearly overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017 reported The Telegraph. The International Energy Agency (IEA), in a recent report, said: “Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade.” China will use more coal than the rest of the world put together, while India will overtake the US as the world’s second-largest coal consumer and become the biggest global importer. The IEA believes that only strong competition from low-priced natural gas could reduce in cutting coal demand. See also Consumer Energy Report Coal Will Surpass Oil in Fuel Use by 2022: IEA.

Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest energy company, disagreed with the IEA noted UPI Energy Resources. In its annual energy outlook the company said crude oil will remain the dominant form of fuel but natural gas is positioned to take the No. 2 spot from coal by 2025. Boosted by shale gas finds in North America and elsewhere, demand for natural gas will increase by about 65% through 2040. The company predicts natural gas will account for about 30% of the global electricity generation by 2040, compared to less than 25% currently. See also coalguru ExxonMobil sees gas displacing coal as world No 2 energy source. Exxon also expects North America to be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 said McClatchy.

asian correspondent revealed Pakistan’s natural gas shortage exposes its energy crisis. Pakistan’s demand for natural gas, and other forms of energy, is quickly outstripping supply. Pakistan’s 10 year old policy of subsidizing compressed natural gas (CNG) for transportation (to reduce crude oil import costs) has been so successful that demand has skyrocketed to the point that the country’s domestic supply can’t keep up. “Pakistan has 3.5 million private vehicles running on CNG, more than 80 percent of vehicles in the country and more than any other country in the world. But Pakistan’s gas supplies can’t support this demand while also feeding power plants, fertilizer companies and other businesses that rely on the fuel.” Now the government is considering reducing the amount of natural gas for transportation to ensure there is enough for electricity production. Pakistan already suffers widespread power outages in the summer in part because power plants don’t have enough fuel to run.

Despite its investments in renewable energy sources, the UK is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels posted The Carbon Brief. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just released the latest figures on the UK’s energy use. While renewable energy output is up to almost 12% of total power output, the country still depends primarily on coal to generate its electricity. Coal accounts for 35% of the UK electricity production followed by natural gas (28%) and nuclear (22%). Most of the renewable energy comes from wind and bioenergy.



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