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France-based Areva plans California nuclear plant using European Pressurized Reactor technology

French nuclear engineering company Areva SA said Tuesday that it plans to work with Fresno Nuclear Energy Group on developing one or two new-generation reactors in California's Central Valley. Areva said FNEG is a group of investors that wants to acquire the so-called EPR, or European Pressurized Reactor, technology for California. Areva has been plagued by delays in Finland, where the first EPR was supposed to be online this year. Areva said that six companies - Constellation, PPL, AmerenUE, Amarillo Power, AEHI and Duke Energy - have chosen the EPR for a total of eight potential reactor construction projects, pending U.S. certification.  Full Story   AP/Forbes_ 12/29/09

EPA: Chemicals found in Wyoming drinking water might be from natural gas drilling

Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March. The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and it could be pivotal in the national debate over the role of natural gas in America’s energy policy.   Full Story   ProPublica/Scientific American_ 8/26/09

Could this be the end of electric power cords?

From the time of Thomas Edison, scientists have been trying to develop a system that would send electric power through the air without wires. Now a Massachusetts company, WiTricity, says it will have just such a system on the market in about 18 months. The company, which has been developing its technology based on the work of MIT physicist Marin Soljacic, made the announcement at the prestigious TEDGlobal conference that ended Friday in Oxford in the U.K.   Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 7/27/09

Sweden tests ways to bury nuclear waste for 100,000 years

At the Aespoe Hard Rock Laboratory in the southeastern Swedish town of Oskarshamn, researchers are using an underground maze of four kilometres (2.5 miles) of tunnels to test methods to enable Sweden to become the first country in the world to bury spent nuclear fuel for hundreds of thousands of years. The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB), an independent company owned by nuclear power plant operators, is due to select a site sometime in June for its final repository for high-level spent nuclear fuel from Sweden's 10 reactors. Nuclear power accounts for 14 percent of the world's electricity production. But while there are interim storage facilities for high-level nuclear waste, no permanent storage solution exists yet.   Full Story   AFP_ 6/2/09

Even 'green' energy is thirsty

At the Aspen Institute high in the Colorado Rockies, a four-day conference on the energy problems that come from global warming, brought together more than 100 climate experts to wrestle with a number of climate dilemmas ... including the fact that alternative energy is, as they put it, "so thirsty." Even wind and solar energy, while they may appear to need little water, said panel members, are often managed in a way that relies on water-based back-up energy sources when there's no wind or sun.  Full Story  ABC News_ 4/19/09

Electricity grid in U.S. penetrated by spies

Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.  The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.  FULL STORY_Wall Street Journal 4/8/09

Portuguese wave-powered snake dead in the water, but another planned for Scotland

Opened in September as a world "first" in producing electricity from waves, a pioneering installation is dead in the water having functioned for only a few weeks in a stormy process of research and development. First it had to be taken out of service and dismantled because of technical problems. And now Australian investment group Babcock & Brown, one of the main investors in the project, which had a start-up cost of nine million euros (12.3 million dollars), has gone bankrupt. Meanwhile, British company Pelamis Wave Power, the partner for technology in the project, announced in February that it had signed a contract with EON-UK, a subsidiary of EON, the leading energy group in Germany, to develop a similar project in Scotland using a new generation of power converters.   Full Story   AFP_ 3/23/09

Toshiba wins US nuclear plant contracts, the first time a Japanese company has been awarded overseas contracts

Japan's Toshiba Corp. said Wednesday it had won a contract to build two nuclear plants in Texas in the United States that are scheduled to start generating power in 2016. It is the first such contract a Japanese company has won overseas, covering the projects entirely from engineering and procurement to construction of the nuclear plants, the company said. Under the contract, Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corp., a US-based Toshiba subsidiary, will build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) nuclear power plants.   Full Story   AFP_ 2/25/09

How much water does pasta really need?

Why boil so much more water than pasta actually absorbs, only to pour it down the drain? Couldn’t we cook pasta just as well with much less water and energy? And if we could, what would the defenders of Italian tradition say? After some experiments, I’ve found that we can indeed make pasta in just a few cups of water and save a good deal of energy. Americans cook something like a billion pounds of pasta a year, so those minutes could add up.   Full Story    New York Times_ 2/24/09

German utility RWE to buy Dutch state-owned Essent for $12.4 billion

RWE said Monday it agreed to pay 9.3 billion euros ($12.4 billion), including debt, for most of Dutch state-owned utility Essent, a move that makes sense strategically while still raising a few eyebrows over the price. There may have been pressure on RWE to win the deal after it failed to acquire nuclear operator British Energy last year. French rival Electricite de France ended up winning that race. Electricite de France also managed to defuse a rival Warren Buffett bid for Constellation Energy. Essent is the Netherlands' biggest utility by sales and is owned by Dutch municipal and regional authorities. In addition to energy, it provides sewer and water services.   Full Story   Forbes_ 1/12/09

Energy vs. water in Rocky Mountain power struggle

A titanic battle between the West's two traditional power brokers -- Big Oil and Big Water -- has begun. At stake is one of the largest oil reserves in the world, a vast cache trapped beneath the Rocky Mountains containing an estimated 800 billion barrels -- about three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia. Extracting oil from rocky seams of underground shale is not only expensive, but also requires massive amounts of water, a precious resource crucial to continued development in the nation's fastest-growing region. That water-to-oil equation has inflamed officials in the upper Rockies, who are raising the alarm about the cumulative effect of energy projects on the region's water supplies, which ultimately feed Southern California reservoirs via the Colorado River. "There are estimates that oil shale could use all of the remaining water in upper Colorado River Basin," said Susan Daggett, a commissioner on the Denver Water Board. "That essentially pits oil shale against people's needs."   Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 12/28/08

Nepal declares power 'crisis'

Nepal's Maoist-run government has declared a "national power crisis" and warned that blackouts in the impoverished country will increase to at least 16 hours per day, officials said Friday. Nepal is struggling to recover from a civil war waged by the Maoists who now govern the country after winning elections earlier this year, and the Himalayan country can currently meet only around 50 per cent of its electricity needs. The government will import more electricity from neighbouring India as well as set up diesel-powered generators and attempt to attract more investment in hydro electricity projects, a minister said. An official from the Nepal Electricity Authority said electricity demand had been outstripping supply for years in the mountainous country dotted with Himalayan rivers, which has massive untapped potential for hydro power.   Full Story     AFP_ 12/26/08

Solar meets polar as winter curbs clean energy

Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy. This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine. As concern has grown about global warming, many utilities and homeowners have been trying to shrink their emissions of carbon dioxide — their carbon footprints — by installing solar panels, wind turbines and even generators powered by tides or rivers. But for the moment, at least, the planet is still cold enough to deal nasty winter blows to some of this green machinery.   Full Story   New York Times_ 12/25/08

Idaho energy office disbands wind think-tank

At a time when Idaho trails others in harnessing wind resources, the Office of Energy Resources has disbanded the state's wind-power think tank and reassigned a staff member who had focused on wind projects to work on energy efficiency instead. The staffer, Gerald Fleischman, told the Idaho Wind Power Working Group he "will no longer be able to respond to requests about wind issues and wind projects," according to a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Energy office director Paul Kjellander said he made the changes to better coordinate renewable energy development, including biogas from dairies, solar and geothermal.   Full Story   AP/Forbes_ 12/24/08

Obama picks Salazar as Interior Secretary

President-elect Barack Obama plans to name Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) to lead the Interior Department -- an appointment that could put the brakes on several controversial energy development projects across the West. If confirmed, Salazar would be responsible for the Bureau of Land Management, which sets policy for oil and gas drilling, mining and other resource extraction on public land. Earlier this year, Salazar criticized the department for decisions to open Colorado's picturesque Roan Plateau for drilling, saying regulations to begin opening land for oil shale development would "sell Colorado short." Salazar was not the first choice of some environmental groups, who had favored Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.).   Full Story   Los Angeles Times _ 12/16/08

Decision on first off-shore U.S. wind farm delayed again

The Coast Guard, at the urging of a Minnesota congressman, will delay until Jan. 15 its recommendation on the advisability of the nation's first proposed offshore wind farm. It was not clear yesterday whether that will delay the key environmental review of Cape Wind - expected in the next two weeks - that was expected to pave the way for the massive project to move ahead. The delay came at the request of Representative James L. Oberstar of Minnesota, whose committee oversees the Coast Guard. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent letters to Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen in September and again last Tuesday, urging further scrutiny of the Coast Guard's study of Cape Wind's potential effect on ship radar.   Full Story   Boston Globe_ 12/14/08

Wind, water and sun beat biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy

A Stanford University professor has evaluated the best ways to produce clean energy.  The 'front running' candidates being hyped by the media such as 'clean coal' and biofuels' are actually the worst pollutors and the most inefficient producers of energy.  Full Story_ Science Daily_ 12/10/08

Hawaii unveils plans for Better Place
All-electric cars on the way

Hawaii has decided to partner with Better Place to bring car battery exchange stations for electric vehicles to the islands, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle announced Tuesday.  Better Place stations, similar in concept to gas stations, offer drivers with electric vehicles an automated system that swaps out exhausted lithium ion car batteries for fully-charged ones. The swapping system is intended to be convenient for both drivers and local electric companies, since Better Place can recharge the exhausted batteries with excess electricity generated from renewable sources during off-peak electricity hours.  Full Story_CNET News_ 12/3/08

EDF takes on Warren Buffett for Constellation Energy's nuclear assets

Electricite De France has found a formidable competitor. The French energy giant is offering $4.5 billion for 50.0% of Constellation Energy's nuclear energy assets, even though billionaire Warren Buffett has already bid for the unit. Sadly for EDF, it's probably going to lose that battle.   Full Story   Forbes_ 12/3/08

In California, solar thermal projects gather steam--and opposition

At least 80 large solar projects are on the drawing board in California, more than in any other place in the country. The scale of some is unrivaled on the planet. Palo Alto-based Ausra Inc.

owns the first so-called solar thermal facility to open in California in nearly two decades. "The expectation is that renewables will transform California's electricity system," said Terry O'Brien, who helps vet sites for new facilities for the California Energy Commission. It's a daunting challenge for the world's eighth-largest economy. Despite the nation's toughest mandates for boosting green energy and reducing greenhouse gases, California remains addicted to burning fossil fuels to keep the lights on. Excluding large hydroelectric operations, less than 12% of the state's electricity came from renewable sources in 2007, according to the energy commission. Solar ranked last, supplying just 0.2% of California's needs.   Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 12/3/08

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed 60 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico

This summer's back-to-back punches from hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed 60 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, but the structures represented only a minute percentage of the region's overall production, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said Wednesday. Before the storms, the Gulf of Mexico had about 3,800 production platforms accounting for roughly 25 percent of domestic oil output and 15 percent of natural gas. In its final damage assessment, MMS said the platforms destroyed by Gustav and Ike accounted for about 1 percent of the Gulf's oil and natural gas production.   Full Story   AP/Forbes_ 11/26/08

Bangladesh sends more troops to Myanmar border in natural gas drilling boundary dispute

Myanmar has also sent soldiers to the border, a senior Bangladeshi border official told AFP. Talks between the two countries have failed to resolve the dispute, which began six days ago when Myanmar instructed the Korean company Daewoo to begin drilling in a disputed mineral-rich area. Bangladesh says it has had assurances from the firm and the South Korean government that work is winding up, but Myanmar, which has discovered huge reserves of natural gas in the Bay of Bengal, insists its exploration work is legal. Tensions flared when Myanmar sent warships to support Daewoo drilling some 50 kilometres south of Bangladesh's Saint Martin Island.   Full Story    AFP/China News Asia_ 11/9/08

Critics claim deception in California energy measures

Californians will vote on two ballot initiatives this fall that at first glance would seem shoo-ins for approval in a state long associated with environmental activism. The first would require utilities to generate half their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. The second would provide rebates of up to $50,000 for the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles through a $5 billion bond. Opponents say they actually would undermine state efforts to promote alternative energy, add to California's already bloated budget deficit, saddle taxpayers with billions in debt and potentially benefit a handful of companies, including one linked to Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. Experts on California's initiative process say the propositions are the latest examples of special interest groups seeking to pass laws or authorize state bonds through the ballot. Anyone can place questions before voters if they collect enough valid signatures.   Full Story   AP/Forbes_ 9/14/08

India wins approval to end 34-year ban on nuclear trade

India won the right to buy atomic- energy equipment after a suppliers' group lifted a three-decade ban on exports to the country, swayed by promises that the nation will keep its moratorium on nuclear-bomb tests. The U.S. made the proposal to the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to give the south Asian country access to atomic fuels and technologies. The NSG, founded in 1974 to prevent countries from copying India's use of imported technology to make its first atomic bomb, needed a unanimous vote to pass the deal. The waiver means that companies including France's Areva SA, Russia's Rosatom Corp. and Japan's Toshiba Corp. will be able to export nuclear equipment to India. General Electric Co. and other U.S. companies will have to wait until Congress ratifies a 2006 trade pact backed by President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. General Electric, the world's biggest maker of energy- generation equipment, said Aug. 25 that it may lose contracts in India to French, Russian and Japanese rivals if the U.S. Congress doesn't ratify a U.S.-India nuclear deal soon after the agreement wins approval from the Suppliers Group.    Full Story   Bloomberg_ 9/6/08

Solar powered desalination farm to bring life to the Sahara

The ingenious plan, known as the Sahara Forest Project is simple: combine huge greenhouses with concentrated solar power (CSP) and plain old seawater. The solar power provides electricity for the farm of greenhouses, the desalination of the seawater provides both the freshwater and cooling required to grow a wide variety of crops. One of the benefits of using the Seawater Greenhouse, invented by Chris Paton, is that it doesn't draw water from the ever diminishing freshwater table and since we have an abundance of seawater across the globe it could potentially turn the most arid, inhospitable and usually poor regions of the planet into rich farming areas. There is already interest in funding demonstration projects from across the Middle East, including UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. The cost is estimated at approximately $118 million for a 20 hectare site of greenhouses and a 10MW concentrated solar power farm. The initiative to harness the sun's power with the North Africa solar plan has already gained support in Europe from both the UK's Gordon Brown and French premier Nikolas Sarkozy and though expensive to set up, $150 billion, investing in the infrastructure, as government's have previously for oil, coal and nuclear could be more than worthwhile in the long term. According to the International Energy Agency $45 trillion will be needed in investment to develop new energy systems over the next 30 years.   Full Story   Red Herring_ 9/2/08

Two large solar plants planned in California

Companies will build two solar power plants in California that together will put out more than 12 times as much electricity as the largest such plant today, the latest indication that solar energy is starting to achieve significant scale. The plants will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels, and in the middle of a sunny day will generate about 800 megawatts of power, roughly equal to the size of a large coal-burning power plant or a small nuclear plant. A megawatt is enough power to run a large Wal-Mart store. The power will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, which is under a state mandate to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. OptiSolar, a company that has just begun making a type of solar panel with a thin film of active material, will install 550 megawatts in San Luis Obispo County. The SunPower Corporation, which uses silicon-crystal technology, will build about 250 megawatts at a different location in the same county. The largest photovoltaic installation in the United States, at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, uses SunPower panels.  Full Story   New York Times_ 8/14/08 (logon required)

Suez and Gaz de France form giant global energy firm

Shareholders in publicly-held GDF and the private Suez group Wednesday approved a merger, despite opposition from the EU and groups in France. The French government has said it hopes the new corporation will become a national energy giant. Suez has major water and waste treatment operations in addition to its energy arm. The deal amounts to the privatisation of GDF and it triggered strong objections from the French left and consternation on the part of unions. It also means that the state enters Suez as the biggest shareholder.  Full Story  AFP_ 7/16/08

US and EU urged at G8 summit to cut biofuels

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has called for reform of biofuel policies in rich countries, urging them to grow more food to feed the hungry. He was speaking at the G8 summit in Japan, where soaring food and fuel prices are top of the agenda. UN chief Ban Ki-moon - also at the summit - urged the group to tackle the "interconnected" challenges of climate change, food prices and development. Speaking on the sidelines of the summit on Hokkaido island, Mr Zoellick said biofuels - transport fuels made from crops - have contributed to food price rises. and he laid particular blame on fuels made from rapeseed and corn produced in the United States and the EU.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/7/08

Forbes Special Report: Utilities and regulators scare off energy efficient projects

In your standard fossil-fuel power plant, the inefficiency begins when the coal or gas ignites. In some plants, as little as 30% of the energy created ends up in the power grid. The rest, in the form of heat, blows out the smokestacks. If one could build power plants that used 80% of the energy instead, everyone would be rushing to do so, right? Not so fast. Yes, such plants exist, but advocates say potential customers are staying away. Why? Utilities and regulators are scaring them off. "It's not uncommon for utilities, when they hear 'cogeneration,' to bring out the white blood cells to inoculate it from happening," says Rob Thornton, president of the International District Energy Association.  Full Story  Forbes_ 7/7/08

Nuclear agreement signed by Jordan and Canada

The official Petra news agency reported that Jordan signed a cooperation memorandum on nuclear energy Saturday with Canada. The plan is to help Jordan develop alternate power sources by possibly bringing in the CANDU nuclear energy reactor. The reactor uses non-enriched uranium as fuel and is a pressurised heavy water reactor. Jordan hopes to produce nuclear power by 2016  Full Story  AFP_ 6/28/08

Carlsbad, California pushes to get power plant moved

The city of Carlsbad faces a challenge in trying to persuade NRG Energy to move a proposed new power station away from the coast. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose NRG Energy's application to build a new gas-powered plant on its ocean-view property west of Interstate 5, on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Council members say the coastal land is too valuable to remain an industrial site and should be developed for some other purpose. The new plant would be built just east of the Encina Power Station, which NRG owns. The California Energy Commission, not the city, has authority over a new plant, so Carlsbad can only offer its input. Council members say there's no longer a reason to put a power plant on the coast, because unlike Encina, a new plant won't use ocean water to cool its generators. NRG's proposed 540-megawatt plant would be air-cooled.  Full Story   San Diego Union-Tribune_ 5/17/08

Jordan to sign agreements with uranium extraction companies by year-end

Prime Minister Nader Dahabi on Thursday said the government will sign cooperative agreements with international companies specialised in uranium extraction by the end of this year in order to develop the Kingdom's nuclear energy programme. During a meeting with Senate President Zeid Rifai and Upper House members yesterday, the premier said the Kingdom's estimated uranium reserves amount to around 70,000 tonnes and are worth $7 billion. Meanwhile, Jordan Nuclear Energy Commission (JNEC) President Khalid Touqan announced on Thursday that the JNEC will float an international tender to invite bids for the design and construction of the country's first uranium mine by the end of this year, to be operational by 2012. Touqan added that the government intends to form a strategic partnership with leading international companies in the fields of uranium extraction and utilisation. He indicated that the government will sign cooperative agreements with several countries, including the US, France, Canada, Russia and China to develop a nuclear energy programme for peaceful purposes as a necessary alternative energy source to generate electricity and desalinate water. At a meeting with Touqan on Tuesday, a South Korean delegation said their country is prepared to provide the Kingdom with a nuclear reactor to generate electric power. Touqan, who is expected to visit South Korea on May 24 to look into the possibility of signing an agreement in the area of nuclear energy between the two countries, also met with a Canadian delegation last week and announced that Jordan and Canada will sign an agreement by the end of this summer to set the framework for nuclear cooperation. Full Story   MENAFN/Jordan Times_ 5/16/08   

U.S. Congress votes to stop stockpiling oil

The House and Senate demanded on Tuesday that President Bush halt the shipment of oil to the country’s strategic petroleum reserve as long as oil prices remain high. The Senate voted, 97 to 1, to tell President Bush to halt the shipments to the strategic reserve, the supply of just over 700 million barrels that is stored in salt caverns along the Gulf Coast. The reserve is meant to protect the United States against a disastrous sudden cutoff of oil supplies, like the Arab embargo of the 1970s. Tuesday evening, by a vote of 385 to 25, the House passed legislation that would suspend deliveries to the stockpile while the price of oil was above $75 a barrel, a measure that is similar to the Senate’s. The Bush administration has opposed the measures. Given the sentiment in the two legislative chambers, any veto of the measure by President Bush would probably be overridden.  Full Story   New York Times_ 5/13/08 (logon required)

Nuclear accidents 'can destroy entire Gulf'

Gulf countries have again been warned that a nuclear accident in any one state could render the entire region uninhabitable. It would also hit global oil supplies because the extraction of hydrocarbon fuels would be impossible, the concluding session of the International Conference on Nuclear Technologies in the Service of Arab Society heard yesterday. "The states of the region are thus asked to be extra cautious and ensure they are not negligent in case they go for the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," said Gulf Council for Foreign Relations president Dr Mansoor Al Arayedh. He was quoting from conclusions and final recommendations agreed by participants of the event, which was organised by the council. The two-day conference was held under the patronage of the Oil and Gas Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza at the Crowne Plaza's Bahrain Conference Centre.  Full Story   Bahrain Daily News_ 5/7/08

Duke Energy nuclear plant causes Carolina water concerns

Water will be a likely font of controversy as Duke Energy moves toward building a new nuclear plant, its first in two decades, 40 miles southwest of Charlotte. The William States Lee III plant near Gaffney would be Duke's first nuclear plant not built on a large reservoir, as McGuire is on Lake Norman and Catawba is on Lake Wylie. It would instead draw 50 million gallons a day from the Broad River, which also supplies Duke's Cliffside coal-fired plant just above the N.C. line. About 35 million gallons a day will evaporate from the plant's cooling towers, with the rest returned to the river. Anti-nuclear groups that will try to stop the plant's construction say the Broad can't afford to give up that much water. S.C. officials and Duke say the Broad should be able to supply the nuclear plant -- except during severe drought. About once every 12 years, a Duke report says, the plant might have to shut down because the Broad and small on-site ponds can't cool it. The utility says it needs the plant to help supply electricity to 40,000 to 60,000 new Carolinas customers a year. State legislation that would require permits for South Carolina's largest water users, including utilities, went nowhere this year. Duke and business groups fought for versions that conservationists said would allow rivers to be drawn down to unhealthy levels for fish and wildlife. Full Story   Charlotte Observer_ 5/4/08

Era of cheap energy in United Arab Emirates is over

The UAE's electricity demand projections are staggering. Based on future development plans, the current installed capacity of energy will need to double by 2015. The amount of energy the UAE consumes is set to treble by 2020 - a reflection of a very energy-intensive lifestyle. Even as the energy-producing Middle East sells its wares in lucrative global markets, the UAE looks set to suffer from the resulting demand and price rise. The UAE has one of the highest per capita gas consumption rates in the world. Until recently, the assumption was that demand growth would be met by creating additional generation capacity, fed by limitless gas resources. Governments in the region acted in line, seeking to locate energy intensive industries such as aluminium smelting and sponsoring the building boom. However, a significant shift occurred in the past year. Although gas, the principal fuel for power generation and desalination, is abundant in the region, the assumption that it would flow as a cheap resource to underpin the UAE's growth no longer makes sense.  Full Story  Gulf News_ 4/19/08

New York governor rejects floating gas plant in Long Island Sound

In his first major policy decision on the environment, Gov. David A. Paterson on Thursday blocked the nation’s first floating liquefied natural gas plant, which had been proposed for Long Island Sound. Moving ahead on the $700 million plant, he said, would put a large section of the Sound off limits to boaters and would not guarantee low-cost gas for Long Island. A broad range of environmental groups, community activists and elected officials from New York and Connecticut have strongly opposed the Broadwater Energy plan to build a 1,200-foot-long floating platform that looks like a ship and can hold up to 8 billion cubic feet of imported natural gas. The proposed terminal, rising eight stories over the water line, would be moored in the widest part of Long Island Sound, nine miles north of Long Island and 10 miles from the Connecticut shoreline. Mr. Paterson’s decision now makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the project to move forward. Broadwater executives said they would consider their legal and regulatory options.  Full Story New York Times_ 4/11/08 (logon required)  

Salt could shake up world energy supply

Only up to powering light bulbs so far, "salt power" is a tantalising if distant prospect as high oil prices make alternative energy sources look more economical. Two tiny projects to mix sea and river water -- one by the fjord south of Oslo, the other at a Dutch seaside lake -- are due on stream this year and may point to a new source of clean energy in estuaries from the Mississippi to the Yangtze. The experiments, which seek to capture the energy released when fresh and salt water are mixed, build on knowledge that has been around for centuries -- in one case imitating the process of osmosis used by trees to suck water from their roots. Although they are far from being economically viable, if eventually successful they might help a long-term quest to diversify away from fossil fuels such as coal and oil, widely blamed for stoking global warming. The science at the heart of the projects is the fact that when salt and fresh water mix at river mouths, they are typically warmed by 0.1 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit). Dutch scientists say such energy at all the world's estuaries is equivalent to 20 percent of world electricity demand. The plants may support hopes the technology can overcome hurdles, the most significant of which is poor cost-effectiveness of the membranes used in the process. In Norway, power group Statkraft, which says it is Europe's top producer of hydro and wind energy alongside Electricite de France, is building a test plant costing $20 million.  Full Story  Reuters/Guardian_ 3/19/08

Hawaii may become first U.S. state to mandate solar water heaters

Two House committees yesterday advanced a bill (Senate Bill 644) that would require the installation of solar thermal water heaters in single-family homes built after Jan. 1, 2010. It also would restrict the current state solar thermal energy system tax credit to homes built before 2010. If the legislation becomes law, Hawai'i would be the first state with such a mandate, according to the Sierra Club Hawai'i chapter. The proposal is opposed by Hawaiian Electric Co. and the building and solar industry, which say in part that the mandate would unfairly drive up costs for home buyers. Opponents also say such a mandate is unnecessary because many developers are offering solar water-heating systems as a standard feature or as an option. But supporters of the bill said most new homes in Hawai'i do not use solar and that most solar water-heating systems pay for themselves in energy savings within three to seven years. House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chairwoman Hermina Morita said electric water-heating tanks account for 30 percent to 35 percent of a home's electric bill. She said if the cost of installing a solar water heater is included in the mortgage for a new home, the savings from the lowered electricity costs — given the high price of oil — could surpass the added monthly cost for the system.   Full Story  Honolulu Advertiser_ 3/14/08

California cows begin passing gas to the grid

Imagine a vat of liquid cow manure covering the area of five football fields and 33 feet deep. Meet California's most alternative new energy. On a dairy farm in the Golden State's agricultural heartland, utility PG&E Corp began on Tuesday producing natural gas derived from manure, in what it hopes will be a new way to power homes with renewable, if not entirely clean, energy. The Vintage Dairy Biogas Project, the brainchild of life- long dairyman David Albers, aims to provide the natural gas needed to power 1,200 homes a day, Albers said at the facility's inauguration ceremony. In addition to being a partner in the 5,000-head Vintage Dairy, Albers is also president of BioEnergy Solutions, the company that funded and built the facility which cost millions of dollars. PG&E is simply a customer and the companies declined to give details of project finances.  Full Story  Reuters_ 3/4/08

UK designers set to launch green sports car

A "zero-emission" sports car with a top speed of nearly 100mph is set to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The hydrogen-powered Lifecar, based on the design of the Morgan Aero-8 roadster, produces little noise and only water vapour from its exhaust. The lightweight model packs advanced fuel cells and an energy storage system that gives the car a range of 250 miles (400km) per tank of hydrogen. It has been developed by a consortium of UK companies and universities. The £1.9m project to build the Lifecar, part funded by the UK government, has taken nearly three years. The car is powered by a bank of lightweight hydrogen fuel-cells developed by UK defence firm Qinetiq.  Full Story  BBC News_ 3/3/08

Too few farmers in US to harvest the winds

Wind power officials see a large obstacle coming from its workforce, a highly specialized group of technicians that combines working knowledge of mechanics, hydraulics, computers and meteorology with the willingness to climb 200 feet in the air in all kinds of weather. That workforce isn't keeping up with the future demand, partly because the industry is so new that the oldest independent training programs are less than 5 years old. The American Wind Energy Assn., a Washington-based trade group, estimates the industry employs about 20,000 people, not including those making turbines or other equipment. With two-man teams generally responsible for seven to 10 turbines, the industry would need as many as 800 technicians to serve the turbines expected to be installed this year. Park developers, turbine manufacturers and utilities are investing in training programs, attempting to lure workers with wages of as much as $25 an hour, or teaming up with the growing number of training programs being offered at community and technical colleges. The industry tends to draw heavily from the military and from agricultural areas, which put a heavy emphasis on machinery and technical training.  Full Story  AP/Los Angeles Times_ 2/9/08 (logon required)

China begins restoring power to millions cut off by snow

Chenzhou, a city in the central province of Hunan and the worst hit, was getting its power back after being blacked out for 11 days, Xinhua news agency said. About 1,000 pylons and poles in the region had collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, which means the local grid, that took decades to build, had effectively been destroyed, Xinhua said. Whole cities had had their power and water cut off for more than a week and 11 electricians have been killed trying to reconnect lines or break ice encasing poles and cables. Livestock and crops have been destroyed. The remote township of Wengxiang in the snowy mountains of Guizhou province hadn't had electricity since January 14. Residents also have to negotiate steep, icy paths to fetch water in buckets because pipes are frozen or cracked. Across the country, 170 of more than 2,000 counties had suffered outages. By Wednesday, 169 counties had had their power restored, or partially restored. Full Story  Reuters_ 2/6/08

CIA says hackers have cut power grid

Criminals have been able to hack into computer systems via the Internet and cut power to several cities outside the United States, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst said this week. Speaking at a conference of security professionals on Wednesday, CIA analyst Tom Donahue disclosed the recently declassified attacks while offering few specifics on what actually went wrong. The goal of the attacks was extortion, he said. Hacking the power grid made front-page headlines in September when CNN aired a video showing an Idaho National Laboratory demonstration of a software attack on the computer system used to control a power generator. In the demonstration, the smoking generator was rendered inoperable. The U.S. is taking steps to lock down the computers that manage its power systems, however. On Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved new mandatory standards designed to improve cybersecurity.  Full Story  IDG News Service/PCWorld_ 1/19/08

In the U.S., coal is no longer on the front burner

America's headlong rush to tap its enormous coal reserves for electricity has slowed abruptly, with more than 50 proposed coal-fired power plants in 20 states canceled or delayed in 2007 because of concerns about climate change, construction costs and transportation problems. Coal, touted as cheap and plentiful, has been a cornerstone of President Bush's plans to meet America's energy needs with dozens of new power plants. Burned in about 600 facilities, coal produces more than half of the nation's electricity. But urgent questions are emerging about a fuel once thought to be the most reliable of all. Utilities are confronting rising costs and a lack of transportation routes from coal fields to generators, opposition from state regulators and environmental groups, and uncertainty over climate-change policies in Washington. The setbacks have energy regulators jittery about the prospects for meeting America's ever-increasing hunger for electricity. They say that any delays in building new capacity -- coal-fired or otherwise -- add pressure to an already strained electricity infrastructure, raising the prospect of shortages or sharply higher prices. Energy planners say coal needs to be in the mix because the other mainstay fuels for generating electricity also have serious drawbacks. Natural gas has proved volatile in both price and supply. Nuclear power plants are costly and take much longer to build -- and the problem of radioactive-waste disposal remains unsolved.  Full Story  Los Angeles Times_ 1/18/08 (logon required)

December, 2007

Nigeria’s corruption fighter reassigned

Nigeria’s top anticorruption official, whose investigations have ensnared some of the country’s wealthiest politicians, is being sent to a year-long course at a remote training institute, according to senior law enforcement officials, provoking criticism from many who described the move as an attempt to sideline him. The official, Nuhu Ribadu, is a police investigator who has risen to become one of the most powerful and feared figures in Nigeria. Late Thursday, the top police official, Mike Okiro, said the decision to send him to study for a year was not an effort to push him aside but part of a routine training exercise for senior officers. But the reassignment inspired outrage in Nigeria and abroad from advocates of greater transparency in a country where hundreds of billions of dollars in oil money have disappeared from the public treasury since independence in 1960. The move comes as Nigeria enters a turbulent period. Earlier this month Mr. Ribadu’s commission arrested James Ibori, a powerful former governor from an oil-rich state who is accused of stealing more than $85 million. Mr. Ibori was a crucial part of the team that helped the country’s new president, Umaru Yar’Adua, win an election in April that international observers said was too deeply flawed to be credible. An independent tribunal is expected to rule next month on the legitimacy of the presidential election, and some analysts and diplomats say that the chances of Mr. Yar’Adua’s victory being annulled are increasing. But to Nigerians, the most serious form of corruption is the malfeasance of government officials that has left Africa’s most populous nation one of the poorest countries on earth despite exporting billions of dollars in oil each year.  Full Story  New York Times_ 12/28/07 (logon required)

U.S. House passes energy bill; Bush to sign it

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved an energy bill to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks for the first time since 1975, boost production of ethanol and cut energy use in light bulbs and appliances. The legislation will do little in the short term to help consumers deal with high gasoline and heating-oil prices, but the future policy changes aim to reduce U.S. oil imports and save consumers up to $1,000 a year at the pump. The Senate approved the same bill last week and President George W. Bush will sign the measure into law on Wednesday, the White House said. But to win the backing of Bush and many Republican lawmakers, Democratic congressional leaders dropped provisions that would have imposed about $13 billion in taxes on big oil and gas companies and required utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/18/07

U.S. agrees to Bali climate change compromise

The United States made a dramatic reversal Saturday, first rejecting and then accepting a compromise to set the stage for intense negotiations in the next two years aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The U.N. climate change conference in Bali was filled with emotion and cliff-hanging anticipation on Saturday, an extra day added because of a failure to reach agreement during the scheduled sessions. The final result was a global warming pact that provides for negotiating rounds to conclude in 2009. The head of the U.S. delegation -- Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky -- was booed Saturday afternoon when she announced that the United States was rejecting the plan as then written because they were "not prepared to accept this formulation." She said developing countries needed to carry more of the responsibility. While rhetoric at such conferences is often just words, a short speech by a delegate from the small developing country of Papua New Guinea appeared to carry weight with the Americans. The delegate challenged the United States to "either lead, follow or get out of the way." Just five minutes later, when it appeared the conference was on the brink of collapse, Dobriansky took to the floor again to announce the United States was willing to accept the arrangement. Applause erupted in the hall and a relative level of success for the conference appeared certain.  Full Story   CNN_ 12/15/07

U.S. Senate passes energy bill without tax breaks to encourage wind and solar projects; Bush expected to sign it

The Senate passed an energy bill with overwhelming bipartisan support last night but only after a Republican filibuster threat forced Democratic leaders to ditch the bill's tax package, which would have extended tax breaks for wind and solar projects while reducing breaks for the biggest oil and gas companies. The revised bill, approved by a 86 to 8 vote, would boost fuel efficiency standards for new automobile fleets to 35 miles a gallon by 2020, increase energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and set a mandate for the vastly expanded use of ethanol and other biofuels. The measure will go back to the House and, if approved, to President Bush, who said last night that he would sign it.  Full Story   Washington Post_ 12/14/07 (logon required)

U.S. Senate rejects far-reaching energy bill

But there's still hope the nation may get a nice green-energy law for Christmas – not the big fat one environmentalists wanted, but a slimmed-down version that probably includes fuel economy and biofuel provisions. That scenario emerged Friday, observers say, after the Senate failed to approve a more far-reaching House energy bill that promised to cut US dependence on imported oil and global warming emissions. Congress still has the possibility to pass two measures with wide bipartisan support: the first major hike in vehicle fuel-economy standards since the 1970s and an enormous boost for US-made biofuels. But House provisions for a $21 billion repeal of tax cuts for the oil and gas industry and a mandate for electric utilities to begin using renewable fuels to generate some of their electricity now appear dead.  Full Story Christian Science Monitor_ 12/8/07

Bosses detained as death toll rises in China coal mine explosion

Police have detained managers and officials at a north China coal mine where a gas blast killed more than 100 people, state media reported on Friday. The bodies of 105 miners have so far been recovered from the Xinyao mine in coal-rich Shanxi province, which was hit by an explosion late on Wednesday. Managers did not report the blast until five hours later and instead tried to launch their own rescue operation, which Chinese media said probably increased casualties. The village-run mine was licensed, but initial investigations showed the explosion was caused by mining along a coal seam that had not been authorised for production, Chinese media said. Police have arrested the mine's head and legal representative, suspended its licence and frozen its bank accounts, while top safety officials had rushed to the site from Beijing, Xinhua news agency said. By Friday afternoon, police had placed 33 people "under control" over the accident, Xinhua said. China has been trying to tighten safety regulations but its coal industry is still the world's deadliest, claiming close to 5,000 lives last year.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/7/07

French nuclear power giant Areva signs largest deal in idustry's history with China's leading nuclear power company

The agreement will bring both technology and much-needed energy to China, which has the world’s fastest-growing appetite for energy. But the deal could prove an even greater boon to Anne Lauvergeon, Areva’s chief executive, whose strategies — and optimism — have been questioned by critics. The reasons for skepticism are clear. In recent years, nuclear-powered countries — like the United States, Germany and Japan — have refrained from building more plants, and countries like Italy and Poland, who had none, have refused to plunge into the nuclear age. But as today’s deal illustrates, the business of nuclear energy has come alive again, and it is people like Ms. Lauvergeon, her steely temper softened by a lively manner and a captivating laugh, that are bringing it back to life.  Full Story  New York Times_ 11/26/07 (logon required)

Los Angeles Times Q&A: Master decoder J. Craig Venter sees the future of energy in genomes

J. Craig Venter, the founder of Celera Genomics, has spent much of the last decade decoding the world. Now president of the nonprofit J. Craig Venter Institute, he visited The Times to discuss these projects and his new book, "A Life Decoded."

What is this new field of synthetic biology that you're working on now?

We're designing genomes to do what we want. I've described these as the design components of the future. If you liken that to the electronics industry in the 1950s, there were a handful of components -- resistors, transistors, capacitors. We will have tens of millions of design components for biology.

What sort of things do you imagine could be built?

We're trying to design cells that produce unique renewable fuels. We have one of those in extensive testing now that could be one of the first green jet fuels. Hopefully there'll be hundreds of these. With this breadth of biology, we have the capability of probably making any chemical out there. It's not hard even to imagine gasoline or octane that we put into our tanks. Bacteria can make that.

Would this be produced on farms?

I'm thinking a country of this size could have 100,000 to 1 million mini-refineries. Just bacterial vats, hopefully not as big as barn silos. The notion I have is: You get rid of the distribution system and produce it where you need it.  Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 11/24/07 (logon required)

Could nuclear power be the answer to desalination?

Research results presented at the Trombay Symposium on Desalination and Water Reuse offer a new perspective on desalination and describe alternatives to the current expensive and inefficient methods. Meenakshi Jain of CDM & Environmental Services and Positive Climate Care Pvt Ltd in Jaipur, India highlights the energy problem facing regions with little fresh water. "Desalination is an energy-intensive process. Over the long term, desalination with fossil energy sources would not be compatible with sustainable development ...." "Nuclear energy seawater desalination has a tremendous potential for the production of freshwater," Jain adds. The development of a floating nuclear plant is one of the more surprising solutions to the desalination problem. S.S. Verma of the Department of Physics at SLIET in Punjab, points out that small floating nuclear power plants represent a way to produce electrical energy with minimal environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Such plants could be sited offshore anywhere there is dense coastal population and not only provide cheap electricity but be used to power a desalination plant with their excess heat. A. Raha and colleagues at the Desalination Division of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, in Trombay, point out that Low-Temperature Evaporation (LTE) desalination technology utilizing low-quality waste heat in the form of hot water (as low as 50 Celsius) or low-pressure steam from a nuclear power plant has been developed to produce high-purity water directly from seawater.   Full Story   Science Daily_ 11/20/07

Wind powers Sydney, Australia's desalination plant

Sydney's controversial desalination plant will be supplied with power from 75 wind turbines from as many as six wind farms to be built across the state. The $1.7 billion project will demand almost one-fifth of the country's wind-generated energy, providing the biggest ever boost to the state's green energy industry. Water Utilities Minister Nathan Rees will today issue a request for proposals from energy suppliers to power the 400,000MwH plant. Mr Rees said proposals would be accepted from any provider accredited to supply clean, green energy to the national energy market: "As I have said repeatedly, Sydney's desalination plant will not produce a single kilogram of CO2 emissions. Concerns were previously raised that the desalination plant would absorb almost all of the country's green power supply. It has since emerged that it will take only a sizeable chunk - and with renewable energy now a federal hot topic the industry is expected to grow rapidly enough to feed the plant.   Full Story Daily Telegraph_ 10/15/07

Orbiting solar panels may be economically competitive

Beam it down, Scotty. A new federal study released Wednesday concluded that continued increases in oil prices may finally make the generation of solar power in orbit economically competitive. The report urged the government to sponsor a demonstration of the technology to spur private investment in the concept. The orbiting power plants would reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil and help reduce the production of carbon dioxide that is contributing to global warming, according to the report led by the National Security Space Office, part of the U.S. Department of Defense. The report estimated that in a single year, satellites in a continuously sunlit orbit could generate an amount of energy nearly equivalent to all of the energy available in the world's oil reserves.  Full Story Los Angeles Times_ 10/11/07 (logon required)

Study: U.S. ethanol production brings water risk

As attention turns more and more toward using corn and other products to produce ethanol for fuel, experts warn that increased production of these crops could pose a threat to the nation's water supplies. Both water quality and the availability of water could be threatened by sharply increasing crops such as corn, said Jerald L. Schnoor, professor of environmental engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. Schnoor is chairman of a National Research Council panel that studied the potential impact of increased use of biofuels on water supplies. The committee report was released Wednesday. Water supplies are already stressed in some areas of the country, including a large region where water is drawn from the underground Ogallala aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming.  Full Story  AP/USA Today_ 10/10/07

True or false: The U.S. produces 80% of the world's solar-powered hot water

The answer is: FALSE It is actually China which can claim this fact -- it produces around 80 million cubic meters of solar hot water a year, taking 80% of the global market share. Solar-powered hot water is taking off to such an extent in China that now, around 1 in 10 househoulds have solar heaters.  Full Story  Worldwatch Institute/CCTV/CNN_ 10/2/07

In Atlanta, Georgia: From indie rock to biodiesel

For years in this car-clogged city, the easiest way to score a tank of biodiesel -- that much-hyped fuel of the future -- involved seeking out a guy named Rob Del Bueno. Del Bueno is not an engineer or a gas station owner, but a former member of a sci-fi surf rock band called Man or Astro-man? He played bass, and spent most of the 1990s telling people he was from outer space. A few years ago, with the band on hiatus, Del Bueno developed another passion: brewing up pure biodiesel from used kitchen oil. He couldn't believe that fuel -- the source of so much war and worry -- could be so easily produced from an ingredient available in the back of a fast-food restaurant. He put his number on the Web. When customers called, he would meet them for a fill-up in his driveway. Like a number of small biodiesel producers around the country, however, Del Bueno is now pushing his product a little closer to the mainstream. Last month, he and a nonprofit, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, unveiled the first biodiesel retail station within Atlanta city limits.  Full Story  Los Angeles Times_ 10/1/07 (logon required)

General Electric Energy sets up Asia commercial headquarters in Singapore

The US conglomerate said such a move will allow for better service to its customers, and also expedite the decision-making process. According to GE, its Singapore energy team of 20 to 30 executives will be dealing with contracts totalling US$1 billion a year. GE has been expanding outside the US, spending US$15 billion acquiring other businesses in 2006. And it expects the bigger part of its revenue to come from its overseas businesses, starting this year. The US conglomerate plans to continue its acquisition drive, and is looking to tap into the growing demand for infrastructure in emerging economies. Nani Beccalli-Falco, president and CEO of GE International, said: "They need power generators; they need transportation, water purification, desalination and so on. And we're a company that provides these kinds of products.  Full Story  ChannelNewsAsia_ 10/1/07

NRG Energy to seek permit for nuclear reactors in Texas, first U.S. plants since the 1970s

An independent power producer expects to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday for permission to build two nuclear reactors at a site 90 miles southwest of Houston, the first time since the mid-1970’s that a company has sought approval to build for a new nuclear power plant in the United States. The company, NRG Energy, based in Princeton, N.J., is seeking to build a General Electric model now used in Japan and under construction in Taiwan but untried in the United States. The announcement Tuesday will be a decision to seek a combined construction and operating license under a new process designed to avoid the long delays and cost overruns in the last round of nuclear construction, but the company has not yet ordered the reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates the cost of obtaining a license at $24 million, but some industry experts say it could easily be more. The plant itself would run into the billions of dollars. Still, the application, the first of what the commission anticipates will be about two dozen in the next few months, is a milestone for the industry. More than 100 reactor projects were canceled in the 1970s and 80s, some abandoned in late stages of construction. Revived interest in nuclear power is being driven by a combination of strong growth in demand for electricity, high prices for natural gas and the potential for taxes on carbon dioxide, which would make coal use more expensive, experts said.  Full Story  New York Times_ 9/24/07 (logon required)

U.S. signs accord with Jordan backing its nuclear development for electricity and desalination

The United States has signed an accord with Jordan aimed at supporting the peaceful development of the kingdom's nascent nuclear program, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday. 
The agreement comes at a time of heightened tensions over Iran's controversial nuclear program, which the U.S. suspects is a cover for weapons development - a charge Tehran denies. Jordan and several other Sunni Arab countries have recently announced plans to develop peaceful nuclear programs. U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Jordanian Minister for Scientific Research Khaled Toukan signed Sunday's memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of a nuclear energy summit in Vienna. Under the agreement, the two countries will work together to develop requirements for appropriate power reactors, fuel service arrangements, civilian training, nuclear safety, energy technology and other related areas, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. Jordanian King Abdullah II announced his intention to develop a peaceful nuclear program in January, saying alternative energy sources were needed to generate electricity and desalinate water in the kingdom.   Full Story  Haaretz/AP_ 9/16/07

Arctic ice melt opens Northwest Passage

Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane. The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978. The waters are exposing unexplored resources, and vessels could trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing the Panama Canal. The seasonal ebb and flow of ice levels has already opened up a slim summer window for ships. A U.N. panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be virtually free of ice by the summer of 2070 because of rising temperatures and sea ice decline, ESA noted. Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States are among countries in a race to secure rights to the Arctic that heated up last month when Russia sent two small submarines to plant its national flag under the North Pole. A U.S. study has suggested as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden in the area.  Full Story   AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 9/15/07

Burn salt water for energy? Yes, really.

John Kanzius of Erie, Pennsylvania, tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. Instead, it caused a flash in the test tube. Within days, he had the salt water in the test tube burning like a candle, as long as it was exposed to radio frequencies. His discovery has spawned scientific interest in using the world's most abundant substance as clean fuel, among other uses. Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, held a demonstration last week at the university's Materials Research Laboratory in State College, to confirm what he'd witnessed weeks before in an Erie lab. "It's true, it works," Dr. Roy said. He called Mr. Kanzius' discovery "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years." One immediate question is energy efficiency: The energy the RF generator uses vs. the energy output from burning hydrogen.  Full Story  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette_ 9/9/07

Jordan's King Abdullah II urges speeding up the nation's nuclear power program to cut energy imports

Following up on his January announcement of his intentions to develop a peaceful nuclear program, the king stressed the need for an alternative energy source to generate electricity and desalinate water in the face of the rising costs of imported energy, the official Petra news agency reported. Minister for Scientific Research Khaled Toukan told the recently formed Supreme Committee for Nuclear Energy Strategy that "nuclear energy would constitute 30 percent of the total amount of energy produced in Jordan by 2030," based on studies his ministry has conducted. Other countries in the region, including U.S.-allies Egypt and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council also have announced plans to develop their own peaceful nuclear programs. The moves come against a backdrop of rising regional concern over Iran's nuclear program which it describes as being for peaceful purposes, though the U.S. alleges it is also for developing weapons.   Full Story  AP/International Herald Tribune_ 8/26/07  

Canada uses military might in Arctic energy scramble

An international scramble for the Arctic's oil and gas resources accelerated on Friday when Canada responded to Russia's recent sovereignty claims with a plan to build two military bases in the region. On a trip to the far north, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, said: "Canada's new government understands that the first principle of Arctic sovereignty is: use it or lose it." An army training centre for 100 troops is to be built in Resolute Bay, and a deep-water port will be built on Baffin Island, to bolster Canada's claim to ownership. The move comes a week after a Russian sub planted a flag on the Arctic seabed. Moscow claims rights to half the Arctic. The United States, Norway and Denmark also have claims. As Canada was making its move, Danish scientists were preparing to head for the Arctic on Saturday as part of their bid for a share of the region's wealth. A US coast guard icebreaker was heading to the Arctic to map the seafloor north of Alaska. No country owns the Arctic Ocean and north pole, but there are international laws governing its use. Under one UN convention, each country with a coast has sole exploitation rights in a limited "exclusive economic zone", beyond which mineral resources are controlled by the International Seabed Authority. However, upon ratification of the UN convention, each country was given a 10-year period within which to make claims to extend its zone. Norway (ratified in 1996), Russia (1997), Canada (2003) and Denmark (2004) have all launched claims that certain Arctic sectors should belong to their territories. The UN's ruling on these submissions will determine who gets the right to extract the Arctic's huge reserves of oil and gas, estimated at 10-billion tonnes.  Full Story  Mail & Guardian_  8/11/07

U.S. House of Representatives passes bill to support renewable energy

The House yesterday passed a far-reaching package of energy legislation that would promote conservation and the use of renewable resources at the expense of the country's oil and gas interests. The bill, which passed 241 to 172, would require more energy efficiency in appliances, buildings and power grids, which proponents of the bill say would reduce carbon dioxide emissions and electricity use. It also would provide grants for studies to promote ethanol pipelines, installation of pumps for 85 percent ethanol fuel at gas stations and production of cellulosic ethanol. The Democrats also won passage of a provision that would require that 15 percent of electricity from private utilities come from solar, wind or other renewable energy sources. It would be the first such requirement to apply to all the states. The House last night also passed, 221 to 189, a companion tax package, totaling nearly $16 billion, that targets the oil and gas industry. In a letter to Congress, however, the Bush administration said Friday that the two House measures would result in less domestic oil and gas production. The letter said President Bush's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bills.  Full Story Washington Post_ 8/5/07

U.N. watchdog team to check Japan's nuclear plant

A team of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors was in Japan Sunday to assess the condition of a nuclear power plant severely damaged in an earthquake last month. The July 11 magnitude-6.8 quake in Niigata province killed 11 people and injured more than 1,000. It also caused numerous malfunctions and leaks at the plant — the world's largest in terms of capacity — that raised safety concerns at the country's nuclear power stations. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, has been under fire in the wake of the powerful quake, which triggered a small fire at the plant. Though Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, plant officials said they had not foreseen such a powerful quake hitting the facility and repeatedly underreported its impact afterward.  Full Story AP/USAToday_ 8/5/07

July, 2007

France, Libya sign nuclear drinking water desalination deal

France and Libya have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a Libyan nuclear reactor for water desalination and clinched a raft of other deals, a senior French official said. The agreement "aims to furnish Libya with a nuclear reactor that makes it possible to meet one of its important needs - a supply of drinking water," French presidential aide Claude Gueant told reporters in Tripoli. The deal came soon after French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew in for talks with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, a day after Tripoli’s release of six foreign medics that cleared the way for trade deals with the oil-rich state. Gueant stressed that "there is still much work to do" on the feasibility study of the desalination project and that French experts had already been in Libya for more than three weeks doing preliminary planning. Asked if the deal had been linked to the release of the medics, he replied, "No, not at all."  Full Story  AFP/The Times_ 7/26/07

Russia to build floating nuclear power plants

Since 2006, Sevmash, the main company of the Russian State Nuclear Shipbuilding Center, has been working to complete a floating nuclear power plant in northern Russia that will be launched in 2010 and moored in a nearby harbor. The floating NPP, three to five hectares in area, will power Sevmash's production and social infrastructure, and will generate heat and desalinate seawater. In fact, the ship, like a small island with two KLT-40S reactors, could be towed anywhere. Russia plans to build many floating NPPs by 2020. These NPPs, which are a vital element of the national energy program, the G8 strategy to prevent energy crises and the current renaissance in nuclear power, were developed in order to meet growing power demand in remote Russian areas.   Full Story  Russian News and Information Agency_ 7/17/07

Report: Radioactive water leaked into the sea after Japan earthquake

Kyodo News agency reports water containing radioactive material leaked at a nuclear power plant following the earthquake today in Japan. National broadcaster NHK says water with low levels of radioactivity leaked into the Sea of Japan.  Full Story   Kyodo News Agency/AP/USA Today_ 7/16/07

Dell extends commitment to develop most energy-efficient products in the industry

Configurations of its OptiPlex(TM) 745 and 740 corporate desktops are designed to meet Energy Star 4.0 requirements. The company also said that it expects to be one of the first in the industry to complete its Energy Star 4.0 compliance work across multiple systems within its commercial desktops, notebooks and workstations product lines before the July 2007 deadline. In the coming weeks, Dell will offer configurations of Dell Precision(TM) workstations that meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements.  Full Story   News Release/Business Wire/CSR Wire_ 5/30/07

United Nations tackles sustainable bioenergy growth

The United Nations unveiled guidelines on Tuesday to tackle the rapidly growing bioenergy industry, which it warned could threaten the availability of adequate food supplies. As environment and development ministers from around the world prepare to meet on Wednesday for the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, UN-Energy released its report "Sustainable Energy: A Framework for Decision Makers." The report said the development of new biofuel industries could provide clean energy services to millions of people who currently lack them, while generating income and creating jobs in poorer areas of the world. But UN-Energy, which was created to promote consistency on energy developments throughout the United Nations system, said biofuel production had already appeared to have driven up the price of maize in 2006 and 2007. But equally, UN-Energy said "modern bioenergy could make energy services more widely and cheaply available in remote rural areas, supporting productivity growth in agriculture or other sectors with positive implications for food availability and access."  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/8/07

Nations have the money and technology to tackle global warming, but they must act immediately: UN

After five days of testy negotiations, the experts from 120 nations agreed on a report laying out proposals to fight climate change, which they said were cheap and easy enough for political leaders to act on right away. Environmental groups hailed the report as a victory for science over politics -- after fierce debate among the delegates this week -- and said the onus was now on governments to act without delay. The IPCC report presented a best-case scenario of limiting global warming to two to 2,4 degrees Celsius, generally recognised as the threshold when the most extreme ravages of climate change will begin. Ramping up use of new technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency and other methods to achieve this target would shave less than 0,12% off world economic growth each year, it said. Nuclear power, which was one of the points of debate, was also highlighted as one option global policymakers should consider. Another important element was making people and industry pay for using fossil fuels. This and other economic mechanisms would make using fossil fuels more expensive and renewable energies much cheaper.  Full Story AFP/Mail & Guardian_ 5/4/07

Venezuela takes over refineries

Venezuela has said that it has taken control of the massive Orinoco Belt oil projects as part of President Hugo Chavez's nationalisation drive. Many of the world's biggest oil companies agreed to transfer operational control to the government. Bolivia's President Evo Morales said his country's takeover of gas fields one year ago had been "a blessing". Mr Chavez has also said he wants to pull Venezuela out of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  Full Story BBC News_ 5/2/07

Colombia hit by nationwide blackout
Colombia's electrical grid collapsed Thursday, causing a nationwide blackout that briefly halted stock trading, trapped people in elevators and left authorities struggling to determine the cause. Luis Alarcon, manager of state-controlled electricity distributor ISA, issued a statement that the power outage apparently began with an undetermined technical glitch at a substation in Bogota and quickly spread to the rest of the country. He said work crews had re-established power to about 20 percent of the country and hoped to reconnect the rest in a few hours. There was no indication of a terrorist attack, though leftist rebels routinely sabotage electric transmission lines as part of their four-decade old campaign to overthrow the government.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/26/07

Halliburton to move to Dubai; Members of Congress call it 'insult' to U.S. soldiers and taxpayers

U.S. oil services firm Halliburton Co. is shifting its corporate headquarters and chief executive from Houston to Dubai in a move that immediately sparked criticism from U.S. members of Congress. Halliburton Chief Executive Dave Lesar, speaking at an energy conference in Bahrain, said he will relocate to Dubai from Texas to oversee Halliburton's intensified focus on business in the Mideast and energy-hungry Asia, home to some of the world's most important oil and gas markets. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called the decision to move "an insult to the U.S. soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contracts and endured their overcharges for all these years." Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is already planning a hearing on Halliburton's move, Time Magazine reports online. Dubai is an Arab boomtown, where free-market capitalism has been paired with some of the world's most liberal tax, investment and residency laws. In 2006, Halliburton — once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney — earned profits of $2.3 billion on revenues of $22.6 billion. Federal investigators last month alleged Halliburton was responsible for $2.7 billion of the $10 billion in contractor waste and overcharging in Iraq.  Full Story CBS/AP_ 3/12/07

International corporate groups sets plan to curb global warming

More than 100 corporate heads, international organizations and experts set out a plan on Tuesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions, calling on governments to act urgently against global warming. The Global Roundtable on Climate Change includes executives from a range of industries including air transport, energy, and technology. "Of course, addressing climate change involves risks and costs. But much greater is the risk of failing to act," said Alain Belda, chairman and CEO of the world's top aluminum producer Alcoa, who signed the pact.

It includes General Electric, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor North America, investment bank Goldman Sachs, and Wal-Mart among its major corporations.   Full Story   Reuters_ 2/20/07

Australia pulls plug on old light bulbs; Plans to switch to fluorescent by 2010

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the move from incandescent light to more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs could cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012. The decision will make Australia the first country to ban the light bulbs, although the idea has also been proposed in the US state of California. The incandescent light bulb, which wastes energy in heat dispersed while the light is switched on, is based on a design invented in the 19th century by engineers including Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan.   Full Story   BBC News_ 2/20/07

Persian Gulf states to move ahead with nuclear energy plans for drinking water desalination and other power needs

The six Gulf Arab states are moving ahead with plans to explore development of their first nuclear energy plants, with representatives planning to seek help from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog later this month, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council said on Sunday. Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah said he and other GCC officials would travel to the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency Feb. 22 to seek help planning the six-nation Arab bloc's first foray into nuclear power. Analysts say the advance of civilian nuclear technology could spill over into military areas in the volatile region. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country with nuclear weapons and a civilian nuclear energy program. Al-Attiyah said the huge energy needs of the fast-growing Gulf countries warranted development of nuclear energy. In particular, Gulf countries expend vast amounts of oil and gas in desalination, turning sea water into drinking water.   Full Story  AP/International Herald Tribune_ 2/11/07

Nuclear programmes in Middle East
Here are some facts about nuclear plans in the region.  Reuters_ 2/11/07

Russian-Belarusian oil feud ripples through Europe

The standoff between Belarus and the Russian pipeline monopoly, Transneft, led to oil disruptions in Poland and Germany. That triggered a shake in financial markets and an immediate jump in the stock of a Norwegian energy company that supplies the region. The crisis appeared to be resolved at the end of last week, but the unpredictability around it has pushed Europe to reexamine its options. Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic plan to import more natural gas from Norway and Qatar. Italy wants to improve solar power technology. The European Union has proposed cutting oil imports, but has yet to agree on a uniform energy bloc that would reduce Russia's strategic advantage in negotiating with individual nations.  Full Story  Los Angeles Times_ 1/14/07 (logon required)

December, 2006

Bush signs U.S.-India nuclear deal

President George W. Bush hailed a new era of strategic cooperation with India on Monday as he signed a law that is a major step toward allowing New Delhi to buy U.S. nuclear reactors and fuel for the first time in 30 years. Three other approvals -- by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, the International Atomic Energy Agency and a second time by the U.S. Congress -- are still needed before U.S. nuclear transfers to India actually can take place. But some analysts say winning passage in Congress of the law that Bush signed with fanfare at the White House was the highest hurdle. Experts say India has already produced about 50 nuclear weapons and plans to reach up to 400 in a decade. Many fear selling India U.S.-origin fuel for civilian energy use will free up New Delhi's indigenous uranium stocks for weapons. Critics worry that Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India, and rising power China will both expand their arsenals against New Delhi and that Beijing will offer Islamabad nuclear assistance that Washington has refused to provide.  Full Story  Reuters_ 12/18/06

UK OKs two off-shore wind farms, including world's biggest, for £2 billion

The government said the Thames Estuary wind farms would produce enough renewable electricity to power about one million households. The £1.5bn London Array scheme will have 341 turbines rising from the sea about 12 miles (20km) off the Kent and Essex coasts, as well as five offshore substations and four meteorological masts. The consortium behind it is made up of Shell WindEnergy Ltd, E.ON UK Renewables and Core Ltd. The smaller £450m Thanet project will be located seven miles (11km) out from North Foreland, Kent, will have 100 turbines and will be developed by Warwick Energy.  Full Story BBC News_ 12/18/06

Sydney 'first to run out of water

Water advocate Maude Barlow says she believes Sydney is in the running with Mexico City and Beijing to be the first city in the world to run out of water.  "My guess is that Sydney is going to hit the water wall in three to five years," she told the Seven Network.  "That doesn't mean there won't be any water but I think it will be reserved for drinking.  "I want to say to people in Australia you have a limited amount of time before you're going to have to evacuate your country. I mean that."  Ms Barlow heads the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest Public Advocacy Organisation, and is the author of Blue Gold, The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water.  She is also leading a push for a United Nations convention on international water rights.  FULL STORY_ The Australian 12/17/06

Westinghouse Electric Co. to build four civilian nuclear reactors in China
China and the United States signed an agreement Saturday, a multibillion dollar coup for U.S. business over French and Russian competitors. A memorandum of understanding supporting the transfer of nuclear technology to China was signed by China's Minister for the National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Stephen Tritch, Westinghouse's president and CEO, said the company want the plants up and running by 2013. The agreement, negotiated late into the night Friday, makes Westinghouse's AP1000 - which relies on gravity rather than mechanical pumps to carry water to a reactor in an emergency - China's choice for developing its own nuclear industry. According to a statement issued by the Chinese side, French nuclear group AREVA was their second choice, and a competing bid by Russia's AtomStroyExport was apparently rejected. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse, which was acquired earlier this year by Japan's Toshiba Corp., is banking on its AP1000 technology to help lead an atomic-energy renaissance in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Eighteen reactors - about 70 percent of the world's total under construction - are going up in Asia, and another 77 are planned or proposed, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.  Full Story  AP/Las Vegas Sun_ 12/16/06

6 nations plus European Union sign accord for nuclear fusion project

Physicists have dreamt about it for decades: harnessing the fusion that powers the sun to make clean, safe and limitless energy. A multinational pact may now bring it a step closer to reality. The accord signed Tuesday by seven partners representing half the world's population will create an experimental fusion reactor in southern France aimed at revolutionizing global energy use for future generations. Yet it is also just an experiment — a bold, long-awaited, €10 billion (US$12.8 billion) experiment — and it will be decades before scientists are even sure that it works. The ITER project by the United States, the European Union, China, India, Russia, Japan and South Korea will attempt to combat global warming by offering an alternative to polluting fossil fuels. Climate change and secure energy sources are key priorities worldwide in the decades to come. French President Jacques Chirac hailed it as a victory for humanity — and for France, which touts and widely exports its nuclear energy expertise, and which beat out Japan in the bidding to house the reactor. The project's director will be Japanese, and Japan will supply the reactor's most complex parts.  Full Story  AP/International Herald Tribune_ 11/21/06

Jordan seeks to trade sun for cutting edge European solar energy technology

Secretary General of the Higher Council for Science and Technology, Khalid Shraideh, told reporters at a press conference late last week that the problem of storing solar power has now been solved by modern technological developments, paving the way for an expansion in the use of this renewable energy source. The topic will be high on the agenda of a series of meetings organised by the council November 27-28, when senior officials and experts will gather for the 12th Scientific Week to discuss "Energy, Water and Human Environment."

Cooperation with Europe falls under the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) initiative. Founded in 2003, the initiative works to develop a practical concept for energy, water and climate security in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, bringing together a network of scientists, politicians and experts in the field of renewable forms of energy and their development.  Full Story MENAFN_ 11/21/06

Overhead costs smother the U.S. rebuilding of Iraq

Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq, a U.S. government estimate shows, leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis. The report, released Tuesday by a federal agency, provides the first official estimate that, in some cases, more money was being spent on things like housing and feeding employees, completing paperwork and providing security than on construction. In some cases, says the report by the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction, the costs have eaten up 55 percent or more of the budget. On similar projects in the United States, such costs generally run to a few percent. The inspector general points to a simple bureaucratic flaw: The United States ordered the contractors and their equipment to Iraq and then let them sit idle for months at a time. The delay between "mobilization," or assembling the teams in Iraq, and the start of actual construction was as long as nine months, the report says.  Full Report    New York Times/International Herald Tribune_ 10/25/06

Download the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction pdf report

Chevron partners strike oil deep in Gulf of Mexico waters; Supply could rival Alaska

Chevron and its partners have successfully extracted oil from a test well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, an achievement that could be the biggest breakthrough in domestic oil supplies since the opening of the Alaskan pipeline. The announcement helped dampen fears that oil supplies would be swamped by growing global demand, a concern that helped lift oil to record highs this summer, unadjusted for inflation. The three partners in the test well known as "Jack 2" are Chevron, which owns a 50 percent stake, Devon Energy and Norwegian oil company Statoil. Devon and Statoil each own 25 percent stakes. Neither Chevron nor Devon would say how long it would take for oil from the well to reach market. Experts say it will take billions of dollars to build the deepwater oil platforms and pipelines needed to extract the oil and get it into world markets. Full Story CNN.com 9/5/06

August, 2006

Texas senator supports nuclear reactor to power desalination plant

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is "completely sold" on the idea of a high temperature teaching and test reactor in the Permian Basin. It will train future scientists and engineers and help the country explore new sources of energy. "If we can desalinate more of the saltwater on Earth ... it would be a major step in the right direction. It's exactly the direction we should be going," the Republican senator said. The reactor, which probably would not be operational until 2012, would be a state-of-the-art, helium-cooled nuclear research facility, built largely underground in Andrews County.  Full Story  Midland Reporter-Telegram_ 8/8/06

July, 2006

Chicago Tribune Special Report: Twilight of the oil age, tracing gasoline from its source to your tank

The key to unlocking the far-flung sources of gasoline lies hidden in an obscure oil industry document called a "crude slate." Every refinery in America keeps a slate, or list, of the types of oil it processes. Because the names of individual crudes on such lists often can be linked to precise oil reservoirs, they offer a remarkably accurate map of the global oil supplies pouring into the Midwest. The hitch: Such data are among the tightest-held secrets of a secretive industry. The Tribune's Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Paul Salopek cracked the code. He and photographer Kuni Takahashi dispelled a well-guarded oil industry myth, and did what had never been done before.  Full Story Chicago Tribune_ 7/30/06 (logon required)

How Australia got hot for solar power: A 1,600-foot tall "solar tower" that can power a small city

Rattling down a red dirt road on the edge of the Australian outback, Roger Davey hits the brakes and hops out of a rented Corolla. With a sweep of his arm, he surveys his domain - 24,000 acres of emptiness stretching toward the horizon, the landscape bare but for clumps of scrubby eucalyptus trees and an occasional sheep.  Davey, chief executive of Melbourne renewable-energy company EnviroMission, aims to break ground here early next year on the world's first commercial "solar tower" power station.  "The tower will be over there," Davey says, pointing to a spot a mile distant where a 1,600-foot structure will rise from the ocher-colored earth. Acting as a giant greenhouse, the solar collector will superheat the air with radiation from the sun. Hot air rises, naturally, and the tower will operate as a giant vacuum. As the air is sucked into the tower, it will produce wind to power an array of turbine generators clustered around the structure.  The result: enough clean, green electricity to power some 100,000 homes without producing a particle of pollution or a wisp of planet-warming gases.  FULL STORY_Business2.0 8/2/06

Toy hydrogen-powered car offers glimpse of future

It's a dream that's been pursued for years by governments, energy companies and automakers so far without success: Mass-producing affordable hydrogen-powered cars that spew just clean water from their tailpipes.  So Shanghai's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies decided to start small. Really small.  This month, it will begin sales of a tiny hydrogen fuel-cell car, complete with its own miniature solar-powered refueling station. The $80.00 toy is a step toward introducing the technology to the public and making it commercially viable.  "Public awareness and education are the first steps toward commercialization," said Horizon founder Taras Wankewycz, 32. "We want to make sure this technology gets adapted globally." FULL STORY_ CNN 7/24/06

Spanish firm claims it can make oil from plankton
A Spanish company claimed on Thursday to have developed a method of breeding plankton and turning the marine plants into oil, providing a potentially inexhaustible source of clean fuel.  Vehicle tests are some time away because the company, Bio Fuel Systems, has not yet tried refining the dark green coloured crude oil phytoplankton turn into, a spokesman said. "Bio Fuel Systems has developed a process that converts energy, based on three elements: solar energy, photosynthesis and an electromagnetic field," it said in a press dossier.  "That process allows us to obtain biopetroleum, equivalent to that of fossil origin."  FULL STORY_ Reuters 7/20/06

Mitsubishi Heavy to boost U.S. nuclear power business

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said on Monday it aims to take advantage of the resurgence in the U.S. nuclear power market by launching a new advanced pressurised water reactor there in 2012. The Japanese company, which lost out to Toshiba Corp. in a race to buy U.S. nuclear plant maker Westinghouse earlier this year, added that it has formed a U.S. unit to develop its nuclear business. A string of moves by Toshiba, Hitachi Ltd., General Electric and other rivals have led to greater competitiveness in the global nuclear power market, which has regained popularity due to increasing energy demands in the United States and China as well as soaring oil prices. Concern over the safety of power supplies and growing demand worldwide for energy has fuelled a surge in crude oil prices, prompting fuel-hungry countries such as China to expand investment in other energy sources such as nuclear power.  Full Story  Reuters_ 7/3/06

May, 2006

The great alt-fuel debate: corn, coal, oil and all

It takes five barrels of crude oil to produce enough gasoline (nearly 97 gal.) to power a Honda Civic from New York to California. So how do the alternative fuels that may gradually reduce America's dependence on foreign oil stack up against the mileage and convenience of the filling-station stalwart? Popular Mechanics took up the challenge and produced a comparison chart with the results.  Full Story  Popular Mechanics_ 5/27/06

March, 2006

Drilling for energy in a hot volcano

Geologists in Iceland are drilling directly into the heart of a hot volcano. Their $20 million project hopes to reveal more about the nature of mid-ocean ridges where new ocean floor is created. Such boreholes could ultimately yield 10 times as much geothermal power as any previous project. At depth, the groundwater is way over 100C, but the pressure keeps it liquid. Later this year, scientists will put a pressure lining into their borehole and drill on down to more than 4km deep. At that depth, they hope to encounter what is called supercritical water: water that is not simply a mixture of steam and hot water but a single phase which can carry much more energy.  Full Story BBC News_ 3/26/06

January, 2006

Global warming demands urgent solutions: scientists

The world must halt greenhouse gas emissions and reverse them within two decades or watch the planet spiraling toward destruction, scientists in London said Monday. Saying that evidence of catastrophic global warming from burning fossil fuels was now incontrovertible, the experts from oceanographers to economists, climatologists and politicians stressed that inaction was unacceptable.  Full Story  Reuters_ 1/31/06

NASA's top climate expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, says Bush administration tried to stop him from speaking out
Hansen said the restrictions came after he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The scientist is the longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He told the New York Times that officials at NASA headquarters ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel.  Full Story  New York Times_ 1/29/06 (logon required)

December, 2005

2005 warmest ever year in northern hemisphere - UK scientists

It is the second warmest globally since the 1860s, when reliable records began, they say. Ocean temperatures recorded in the northern hemisphere Atlantic Ocean have also been the hottest on record. The researchers, from the UK Met Office and the University of East Anglia, say this is more evidence for the reality of human-induced global warming. The northern hemisphere is warming faster than the south, scientists believe, because a greater proportion of it is land, which responds faster to atmospheric conditions than ocean.  Full Story   BBC News_ 12/15/05

November, 2005

Energy boom alarms Russian Greens

"Do you know what is the brightest place on Earth in satellite images?" asks Aleksey Yablokov, leader of the new Green Russia party. "Not Los Angeles, not Tokyo. It's western Siberia." The vast expanses of this sparsely populated region are lit by the flares of associated gas burned at oil wells. "I once flew there by night - the view was unforgettable. But these flares killed not millions, but billions of migrating birds", says Mr Yablokov, one of Russia's leading biologists and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Former US Vice-President Al Gore called Siberian oil flares one of the main causes of global warming, in his book Earth In The Balance. The number of oil wells where gas is being burned has fallen considerably with the arrival of modern oil extraction technology in the post-Soviet era, Mr Yablokov admits. But he estimates that about 20,000 such flares are still lighting up the taiga (virgin forest).  Full Story_BBC 11/23/05

Fuel cells 'need political push'
The world must actively push for alternative energy technologies such as fuel cells, says Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific advisor.  But there needs to be a cultural shift in energy production, he told delegates at a fuel cell symposium in London.  Humans had to adapt to climate change, he said, but government could encourage wide adoption of new technologies.  Fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in fuels, such as hydrogen and methanol, into electrical energy.  They are seen as a great clean energy hope for future sustainable power generation.  Full Story_ BBC 10/5/05

EU Takes On Pollution

Strategy seeks to bring EU up to US emissions standards

Wide-ranging proposals to clean up Europe's polluted air won approval from the European Commission on Wednesday after a debate over the package's multi-billion euro price tag threatened to scupper it. The measures, dubbed the "clean air strategy", will seek to bring the European Union up to par with the United States in capping emissions of particulates, or fine dust, in the air. It will also set tighter limits for emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxide and ammonia from different sectors of the EU economy like transport, power, and agriculture. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the measures, expected to cost 7.1 billion euros ($8.7 billion) a year from 2020 when they are fully implemented, would enable Europe to have one of the most advanced air policies in the world. 

Full Story_Reuters9/21/05

More U.S. companies weighing climate risks
The United States does not regulate global warming emissions, but many U.S. companies are beginning to prepare for greenhouse gas limits, according to a study by a coalition of institutional investors. Over the past three years the investors group, the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project, has sent questionnaires to the world's largest companies by market capitalization, asking them to quantify the greenhouse gases they produce. It also asks them how they plan to manage their greenhouse risks. Responses to CDP's questions have created the world's largest database of corporate greenhouse emissions. This year 60 percent of more than 250 U.S. companies responded to the CDP, up from 42 percent last year. Full Story_Reuters 9/14/05

World running out of time for oil alternatives
The world could run out of time to develop cleaner alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels before depletion drives prices through the roof, a leading Dutch energy researcher said on Thursday. Ton Hoff, manager of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, said it could take decades to make alternatives affordable to the point where they can be used widely, although high oil prices were already stimulating such research.  "If we run out of fossil fuels -- by the time the oil price hits 100 dollars or plus, people will be screaming for alternatives, but whether they will be available at that moment of time -- that's my biggest worry," Hoff said.  Full Story_Reuters 8/18/05

China fuel shortage exposes policy contradictions
China's bureaucrats may once have thought they could have it all: billions in foreign investment flowing into lean, listed oil companies and political stability from low government-set oil prices.  But capped pump prices have stopped the country's oil majors passing on recent high crude costs, causing corporate losses. And on-the-ground fuel shortages are undermining Beijing's delicate balance of planned and free-market economics.  Oil giants Sinopec and PetroChina are turning the screws on the government -- their majority owners -- by trimming supply to loss-making domestic markets to protect their balance sheets.  Hours-long queues have formed outside police-guarded stations pumping rationed oil in the export hub of Guangdong, fraying tempers -- an indication the majors may make Beijing face up to their problems with the threat of what it fears most: social unrest. 

Full Story_ Reuters 8/17/05

250 miles per gallon? They're doing it

Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage. It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret -- a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.  Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car. Full Story_CNN 8/15/05

Japan protests at China gas move
Japan has lodged a new protest against China's drilling for gas near a disputed part of the East China Sea.

Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said he had information that a Chinese consortium was laying pipes to prepare to tap the area's huge gas resources.  The gas dispute stems from a long-standing disagreement over the extent of both Japan and China's claims to gas-rich areas under the East China Sea.  According to a UN convention, both countries can claim an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) from their shores.  But China claims its EEZ on the basis of its continental shelf, which extends into Japan's claimed area.  Japan is worried that China is preparing to siphon off gas buried under the seabed on the Japanese side.  Full Story_ BBC 8/10/05

Pakistan, Japan sign deals on water, power and tourism

Pakistan and Japan have signed three agreements whereby the latter will give financial assistance for infrastructure projects and tourism promotion in Pakistan.  Two agreements on water and power were signed by Hina Rabbani Khar, minister of state for economic affairs, and the chief of Japan Bank for International Cooperation.  Under the two agreements, Japan will give Pakistan two soft-term loans worth $157 million for two projects - $36 million to upgrade the National Power Control Cell and $121 million for the rehabilitation of Chenab Canal in Punjab, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a press conference after talks with his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi. The loans will have to be repaid over 30 years at an interest rate of 1.3 percent, with a grace period of 10 years.   Full Story_ Daily Times 8/11/05

Jump start for solar? Car race shows potential
Tapping the sun, students drove 2,500 miles from Texas to Canada

Experts say solar cars won't be viable for many decades to come, if ever. But the cars in the North American Solar Challenge race showcase recent advances in technology and demonstrate the promise of solar energy in other uses.  Full Story _MSNBC 8/5/05

US oil company returns to Libya
Occidental says it will be the first US oil company to resume operations

The US-based Occidental Petroleum Corporation says Libya has given it permission to resume operations there for the first time in 19 years.  The company was forced to abandon production in Libya in the mid-1980s, because of sanctions against Tripoli imposed by the US government.  The US eased economic sanctions against Libya in 2004, opening the door for oil companies to return.  Full Story_ BBC 7/30/05

U.S.-led climate plan won't supplant Kyoto -experts
A U.S.-led Asian-Pacific accord on spreading technology to fight global warming has hazy targets and is unlikely to end up supplanting the far broader U.N. Kyoto protocol, experts said.  Unlike the 152-nation Kyoto pact, the six-country accord between the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea sets no binding goals for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels blamed for rising temperatures.  Full Story_ Reuters 7/28/05

Report names top power plant polluters

Ten power plants in the Northeast last year produced a third of the region's carbon dioxide emissions, considered a major contributor to global warming, according to a report released Tuesday by a coalition of environmental groups.  Brayton Point Station, a predominantly coal-fired plant in Somerset Mass., was the top carbon dioxide emitter, the report said.  The report said Brayton Point released 5.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air in 2004, representing nearly 5 percent of the total released in the nine-state region.  Two other Massachusetts power plants also were included on the list, along with six plants in New York and one in New Jersey. The report was compiled by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, the Clean Water Fund and Environmental Advocates of New York.  Full Story_ CNN 7/27/05

U.S. to announce climate pact

The United States, the world's top polluter, is set to unveil a five-nation pact to combat global warming by developing energy technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions, officials said.  China and India, whose burgeoning economies comprise a third of humanity, as well as Australia and South Korea are part of the agreement to tackle climate change beyond the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol.  The United States and Australia are the only developed nations outside Kyoto, which demands cuts in greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Both say Kyoto is flawed because it omits developing states.  Diplomats in the Laotian capital Vientiane said the pact would be formally announced on Thursday when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick holds a news conference attended by representatives of the other signatories.  Full Story_ CNN 7/27/05

Light bulb that lasts more than a decade

The bulbs in lamps on the streets of Dutch town Ede will not have to be changed for 12 years, thanks to a new type of lighting technology.  Dutch electronics group Philips, the world's biggest lighting maker, has put up the first street lamps that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which last four times longer than normal street lighting.  With 50,000 light hours, LED lamps do not have to be changed for 12 years when lit for an average 11 to 12 hours a day.  Because LEDs are made of solid organic materials, they are smaller, more versatile and less vulnerable than today's glass lamps filled with gases, Philips said. 

Full Story_Reuters 9/18/05


Enron Corp. settles Western U.S. power and natural gas manipulation dispute for $1.5 billion

The dispute covered 1997 through 2003. However, the payout from Enron, which emerged from bankruptcy in November as a private entity, will likely be far smaller, since the company's remaining assets are only a fraction of the amount it owes its creditors. The settling parties include PG&E Corp. utility unit Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Edison International's Southern California Edison Co., Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric Co., the California Department of Water Resources, the California Electricity Oversight Board, the state of California and attorneys general of Oregon and Washington.  Full Story  Reuters_ 7/15/05

Start-up zeros in on hydrogen fuel cells

Michael Lefenfeld and James Dye of Signa Chemistry wanted to make rooms smell better. Instead, they stumbled on a way that could make hydrogen fuel cells a practical reality.  New York City-based Signa says it has come up with a new--and fairly efficient--way to produce hydrogen, one of the vexing problems for boosters of the hydrogen economy.
Conceivably, the company's technology could be incorporated into fuel cells that could generate enough electricity to run a cell phone for a week, or a car in emergency situations. The company's techniques could also reduce cost and complexity for pharmaceutical manufacturers and petroleum refiners.  Full Story _ ZDNet 7/12/05

Dennis hits Alabama, Florida; damage light, many lose power

Hurricane Dennis roared quickly through the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast yesterday with a 120-mph bluster of blinding squalls and crashing waves, but shellshocked residents emerged to find far less damage than when Ivan took nearly the same path 10 months ago. The tightly wound Dennis, which had been a Category 4, 145-mph monster as it marched up the Gulf of Mexico, weakened just before it struck less than 50 miles east of Ivan's landfall.  Full Story  AP/Winston-Salem Journal_ 7/11/05

Schwarzenegger solar power bill faces Calif. test
California leads the United States in solar power generation but a bill sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would sharply expand sun power use is drawing fire as too costly for utility customers and manufacturers.  The bill aims to put photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of one million new homes and businesses within 10 years, increasing solar generation from a current 100 megawatts to more than 3,000 megawatts, equivalent to 30 new "peaking" plants to deliver electricity during high-demand periods.  That would make California the world's third largest solar energy producer behind Japan and Germany, according to solar advocacy group Environment California. 

Full Story _ Reuters 7/5/05

Senate halts laser project construction

The Senate has voted to stop construction of the nation’s costliest science project, a laser roughly the size of a football stadium that is meant to harness fusion.  The project, the National Ignition Facility, is at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and has cost $2.8 billion. About 80 percent complete, the facility was to be finished in 2009 at a cost of $3.5 billion and operate for three decades for a total of $8 billion.  The Senate’s action, part of the $31 billion energy and water appropriations bill, prompted warnings from the project’s leaders that its demise could damage the nation’s leadership in a field important to confronting energy shortages.  The Bush administration backs the facility, and the Senate action could be reversed or modified in conference with the House.  Full Story _ Kansas City Star 7/3/05 Logon Required

Clean energy' power station slated for Scotland
The world's first industrial-scale clean energy power plant to generate "carbon-free" electricity from hydrogen could be built in Aberdeenshire.  The £330m project will split natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.  The hydrogen will fuel a new power station to be built near the existing power station at Peterhead.  Oil giant BP PLC and its partners Royal Dutch/Shell, ConocoPhillips and Scottish & Southern Energy PLC are planning to build the 350 megawatt power station, which could come on stream in 2009.  BP said the project would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by the power generation by more than 90% and would provide carbon-free electricity to the equivalent of a quarter of a million UK homes.  Full Story _ BBC 6/30/05

Scottish council backs huge wind farm plan
Plans to build the largest onshore wind farm in Europe have been approved by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) of Scotland.  An application by Lewis Wind Power for a 209 turbine wind farm in North Lewis, costing £400m, was passed by 19 votes to eight.  It was approved despite more than 4,000 objections.  Some councillors accused the authority of ignoring public opinion, but those in favour argued that the social and economic benefits far outweighed the disadvantages.  Full Story _ BBC 6/30/05

Honda leases first fuel cell vehicle to a family
A Los Angeles family became the first in the United States to lease a hydrogen-powered car from Honda Motor Co. Ltd. as the company introduces consumers to the zero-emission technology.  Honda, which already leases nonpolluting FCX fuel cell cars to several cities, said the initial consumer test was critical toward eventual commercial viability.  Proponents of hydrogen fuel, which produces electricity and water vapor when it burns with oxygen, believe it eventually will compete with gasoline, but high costs, the need for more research and scarcity of refueling stations are barriers.  Full Story _ Reuters 6/29/05

France to host world's first nuclear fusion plant
Science's quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs took a major step forward when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.  The 10-billion-euro ($12.18-billion) experimental reactor in Cadarache, near Marseille will seek to turn seawater into fuel by mimicking the way the sun produces energy.  Its backers say it would be cleaner than existing nuclear reactors, but critics argue it could be at least 50 years before a commercially viable reactor is built, if at all Full Story _ Reuters 6/28/05

Interest rises in ethanol-heavy E85 fuel

E85 - a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline - that sells for an average of about 45 cents per gallon less than regular unleaded in the United States is gaining popularity with drivers who own flexible vuel vehicles.5.  Interest in E85 has been growing in recent months due to frequent spikes in gasoline prices. Promoters say it's not only cheaper, it reduces America's dependence on foreign oil and burns cleaner. And it's a boost to the Midwest farm economy because ethanol is distilled mainly from corn.  More than 4 million flexible fuel vehicles - which can run on any blend of gasoline and up to 85 percent ethanol - are currently on the road in the United States, according to government figures.

Full Story _ Associated Press 6/28/05

Italy grapples with energy needs as local protests grow
They may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but when it comes to plans to build a gas terminal in this Italian port, Brindisi's rightist mayor and the region's openly gay communist president agree.  And the answer is 'no'.  Politicians of all colors in the southern region of Apulia have demanded that Rome revoke a decree authorizing the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Brindisi -- the latest protests against new industrial projects in Italy.  Full Story Reuters_6/21/05

U.S. Senate calls on power companies to use more renewable energy

The Senate vote to require power companies to use more renewable energy such as wind and solar power to generate electricity put its emerging energy measure on a collision course with a House plan that favors traditional fossil fuels. The White House opposes the Senate approach as well. At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee approved a $14 billion package of energy tax incentives with an emphasis on tax credits not only for producers of wind and for owners of hybrid cars but also for companies that can convert animal waste into a power source.  Full Story New York Times_ 6/16/05 (logon required)

U.S. Senate backs ethanol boost in energy bill

The plan requires oil refiners to double the use of corn-blended ethanol in gasoline by 2012. The Senate rejected a move to gut the mandate from pending energy legislation. Instead, lawmakers voted 70-26 for a pro-ethanol amendment sponsored by a bevy of mostly farm-state senators from both parties that codified the mandate. The Senate will debate the energy bill through next week, with a vote tentatively set for that Friday.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/15/05

'Green power plant' plan unveiled
Clean coal plants reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Plans to create a so-called "clean coal" power plant in the north-east of England have been unveiled. The plant would use a process known as gasification, which traps carbon dioxide underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Hydrogen produced during gasification can be used to power turbines and make electricity.  Carbon monoxide is also produced and could be piped to the North Sea oil fields and used to force out more crude oil from reserves previously considered too depleted to be profitable.  Full Story BBC News_6/9/05

Global electricity grids strained
Electricity supply in developed countries is straining to cope with demand, an International Energy Agency (IEA) report suggests. In a report called 'Saving Electricity In A Hurry', the agency predicts there will be outages like those experienced in the United States, Japan and Canada. Several developed countries have experienced power shortages and more are likely to occur, it says.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/9/05

World marks green day; big city mayors sign pacts to improve urban centers

The signings capped a five-day U.N. World Environment conference in San Francisco, the city where the United Nations was founded in 1945. The accords call for 21 actions that covered energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health, and water improvement programs to be implemented by mayors and delegates from cities like Jakarta, London, Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Lausanne, and Calcutta.  Full Story Reuters_ 6/5/05

May, 2005

High-tech cargo ship sets course for green ocean transport

Shipping firm Wallenius Wilhelmsen (WW) has designed a high-tech "back to the future" freighter powered solely by wind and waves in the expectation that increasing regulation and shipping costs over the next 20 years will force the industry to come up with greener vessels.

Full Story  Reuters_ 5/28/05

Building the world's most powerful laser

In a building the size of a football stadium, engineers have assembled the framework for a network of 192 laser beams, each traveling 1,000 feet (305 meters) to converge simultaneously on a target the size of a pencil eraser.  Ed Moses talks of the "grand challenge" that has consumed him for the past five years, comparing it to trying to hit the strike zone with a baseball from 350 miles (563 kilometers) away or tossing a dime into a parking meter from 40 miles (64 kilometers) away.  "That's the precision we have to have," says Moses, the director of a high-energy physics adventure to produce the world's most powerful laser -- one that scientists hope will create in a laboratory the type of energy found at the center of the sun.  Full Story_ CNN 5/23/05

'Green' diesel from natural gas could cut city smog

Some $20 billion has been committed to build an unprecedented array of clean diesel plants in a Gulf shore industrial park in Qatar.  The rat's nest of pipes and columns snaking across the desert harbors a secret process that will use cobalt to turn natural gas into a powerful, clean-burning diesel fuel.  By next year, rulers of this tiny desert sheikdom hope, these gas-to-liquids (GTL) reactors under construction will bring in billions of dollars while clearing big city smog belched by trucks and buses.  Petroleum experts who have sniffed vials of gin-clear GTL diesel speak of it with reverence.  "It's a beautiful product," says Jim Jensen, a Massachusetts-based energy economist. "The kerosene smells like perfume." 

Full Story CNN_ May 17, 2005

'Wave farm' project gets green light

A pioneering commercial wave power plant, producing clean and renewable energy, is to go on line off Portugal in 2006, after a contract was signed this week, project partners announced.  The companies claimed the so-called "wave farm" will be the world's first such commercial operation.  The power generators, like giant, orange sausages floating on water, will use wave motion to produce electricity by pumping high-pressure fluids to motors.  Full Story_ CNN 5/20/05

Company claims fuel cell advance

A small British technology company has claimed it is on the verge of unlocking the vast potential of fuel cells as a commercially viable source of green energy.  Cambridge-based CMR Fuel Cells said it had made a breakthrough with a new design of fuel cell that is a 10th of the size of existing models and small enough to replace conventional batteries in laptop computers.  CMR said the new design would run for four times longer than conventional batteries in a laptop or other devices like power tools. "We firmly believe CMR technology is the equivalent of the jump from transistors to integrated circuits," said John Halfpenny, the firm's chief executive.  Full Story_CNN 5/20/05

Experts seek clean, green power
Britain aims to cut carbon emissions by a fifth by 2010
Scientists are due to take part in a brainstorming session to seek the future's clean, green energy sources.  Energy experts from the world's leading economies will join a two-day workshop at Oxford University to find solutions to the global warming crisis. The scientists will present the fruits of their deliberations to a meeting of the G8 of key industrialised nations in Gleneagles in Scotland in July. The conference, at St Anne's College, Oxford, will also involve experts from the G8 states and the five largest developing nations; China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. Full Story _ BBC 5/11/05

Norway advocates 'zero-emissions' for Arctic oil
Norway believes its "zero emissions" policy for oil and gas activity in the Arctic should be adopted internationally, the country's oil minister said before a visit to neighboring Russia.  Norway and Russia share a sea boundary in the Arctic Barents Sea, which is believed to contain vast petroleum resources. Energy firms are increasingly turning their gaze north to the Barents as North Sea oil becomes depleted.  Full Story_ Reuters 5/11/05

General Electric Co. to boost investment for 'green' technologies

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said in a statement that the new "Ecomagination" initiative aims to address the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy; reduced emissions; and abundant sources of clean water. "We plan to make money doing it," he said. "Increasingly for business, 'green' is green." The Fairfield, Connecticut, company also said it plans to reduce its global-warming emissions by 1 percent over the next seven years. GE's emissions would rise 40 percent in that time if the company does nothing to curb them. While the United States has rejected the Kyoto Protocol international treaty on global-warming standards, executives at many big U.S. companies have said they believe it only a matter of time before the nation imposes some sort of global-warming emissions cap.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/9/05

Caspian oil set to flow in $3.6 billion pipeline described as world's largest energy project

Within the next few weeks, oil from the Caspian will start flowing into a 1,762 kilometres long pipeline that will run from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, via near Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and across eastern Turkey to the port of Ceyhan, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is being built by a consortium of companies led by energy giant BP.  Full Story BBC News_ 5/5/05


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