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Posts Tagged ‘Energy’

Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables Offers Lessons for the World

Posted by hkarner - 7. September 2017

Date: 06-09-2017
Source: Scientific American

How to retrain coal miners and create new jobs

August 1, 2017—Seventy-seven-year-old Heinz Spahn—whose blue eyes are both twinkling and stern—vividly recalls his younger days. The Zollverein coal mine, where he worked in the area of Essen, Germany, was so clogged with coal dust, he remembers, that people would stir up a black cloud whenever they moved. “It was no pony farm,” he says—using the sardonic German phrase to describe the harsh conditions: The roar of machines was at a constant 110 decibels, and the men were nicknamed waschbär, or “raccoons,” for the black smudges that permanently adorned their faces.

Today, the scene at Zollverein is very different. Inside the coal washery where Spahn once worked—the largest building in the Zollverein mining complex—the air is clean, and its up to 8,000 miners have been replaced by one-and-a-half million tourists annually. The whole complex is now a UNESCO world heritage site: Spahn, who worked here as a fusion welder until the mine shut down on December 23, 1986, is employed as a guide to teach tourists about its history. “I know this building in and out. I know every screw,” he says fondly. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Big Name in Coal’s Resurgence: China

Posted by hkarner - 29. August 2017

Date: 28-08-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

American coal producers filling voids created by overseas producers shifting exports to China

China’s reemergence as a coal importer has boosted the fortunes of U.S. producers who are now shipping more coal abroad than any time in the last two years.

The trend has helped solidify a business that at the beginning of last year was suffering through a spate of bankruptcies and threatened with more. Revenue at publicly traded U.S. coal companies grew 19% in the first half of this year compared with the same period a year ago, and the biggest gains came at companies helped the most by exports, according to data compiled by Doyle Trading Consultants, a coal-market-analysis firm.

That growth comes at a time when President Donald Trump has vowed to end a long decline in the U.S. coal business. Hundreds of mines have closed in recent years largely because of increasing competition from other fuels, and the Trump administration has pushed to cut regulations that make coal even less competitive. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Nuclear energy: Atomic power stations out at sea may be better than inland ones

Posted by hkarner - 11. August 2017

Date: 10-08-2017
Source: The Economist

Floating reactors are on their way. Submarine ones may follow

AFTER the events of March 11th 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan, you might be forgiven for concluding that atomic power and seawater don’t mix. Many engineers, though, do not agree. They would like to see more seawater involved, not less. In fact, they have plans to site nuclear power plants in the ocean rather than on land—either floating on the surface or moored beneath it.

At first, this sounds a mad idea. It is not. Land-based power stations are bespoke structures, built by the techniques of civil engineering, in which each is slightly different and teams of specialists come and go according to the phase of the project. Marine stations, by contrast, could be mass-produced in factories using, if not the techniques of the assembly line, then at least those of the shipyard, with crews constantly employed. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Alphabet Sees Power in Molten Salt, a New Moonshot

Posted by hkarner - 2. August 2017

Date: 01-08-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Google parent developed plans to store electricity from solar panels or wind turbines as thermal energy in hot salt and cold liquids, such as antifreeze

X engineers work on designs for an energy system that stores electricity as thermal energy in high-temperature molten salt and a low-temperature liquid. X is a “moonshot” research and development lab under Google’s parent, Alphabet.

Google parent Alphabet Inc. is pitching an idea to store power from renewable energy in tanks of molten salt and cold liquid, an example of the tech giant trying to marry its far-reaching ambitions with business demand.

Alphabet’s research lab, dubbed X, said Monday that it has developed plans to store electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines as thermal energy in hot salt and cold liquids, such as antifreeze. The lab is seeking partners in the energy industry, including power-plant developers and utilities, to build a prototype to plug into the electrical grid. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Next Energy Revolution

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juli 2017

Date: 23-07-2017
Source: Foreign Affairs By David G. Victor and Kassia Yanosek

The Promise and Peril of High-Tech Innovation

The technology revolution has transformed one industry after another, from retail to manufacturing to transportation. Its most far-reaching effects, however, may be playing out in the unlikeliest of places: the traditional industries of oil, gas, and electricity.

Over the past decade, innovation has upended the energy industry. First came the shale revolution. Starting around 2005, companies began to unlock massive new supplies of natural gas, and then oil, from shale basins, thanks to two new technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking). Engineers worked out how to drill shafts vertically and then turn their drills sideways to travel along a shale seam; they then blasted the shale with high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals to pry open the rock and allow the hydrocarbons to flow. These technologies have helped drive oil prices down from an all-time high of $145 per barrel in July 2008 to less than a third of that today, and supply has become much more responsive to market conditions, undercutting the ability of OPEC, a group of the world’s major oil-exporting nations, to influence global oil prices. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Transformative Changes in World Energy Production and Trade

Posted by hkarner - 21. Juli 2017

Major changes in oil production have transformed the US from a major importer to a major producer and sometime exporter of oil. The market power of OPEC and its non-member collaborators has been weakened (Libya and Nigeria have been exempted from current quotas). In addition to new sources of oil production, we are now hearing increasingly about limits to oil demand and when the peak oil DEMAND will be reached (Bloomberg). Increased production and trade in natural gas and growth in renewables decrease the demand for oil. The timing of peak oil demand will depend on improvements in batteries that power electric cars (Covert et al). Although batteries continue to limit the range of electric cars, auto producers, such as Volvo have recently made major commitments to introduce electric models. Volvo will phase out gas cars and go all electric or hybrid by 2019 (Wall Street Journal 2017a). India has announced that the nation will go all electric for new car sales by 2030(CNN). The result of fast growth in oil supply and slower growth in demand has been persistently low oil prices since December 2014.

US OIL PRODUCTION AND EXPORTS Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Washington and Berlin on a Collision Course

Posted by hkarner - 6. Juli 2017

 Dank an H.F.
Pepe Escobar, Sputnik
30/6

The Russia sanctions bill that passed the US Senate by 98:2 on June 15 is a bombshell; it directly demonizes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, under the Baltic Sea, which is bound to double Gazprom’s energy capacity to supply gas to Europe.

The 9.5 billion euro pipeline is being financed by five companies; Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall; Austria’s OMV; France’s Engie; and Anglo-Dutch Shell. All these majors operate in Russia, and have, or will establish, pipeline contracts with Gazprom.

In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern stressed that, “Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America”; “instruments for political sanctions should not be tied to economic interests”; and the whole thing heralds a “new and very negative quality in European-American relations”.An oil trader in the Gulf bluntly told me, “the new sanctions against Russia basically amount to telling the EU to buy expensive US gas instead of cheap Russian gas. So the Germans and the Austrians basically told the Americans to buzz off.”

A top US intel source, Middle East-based and a dissident to the Beltway consensus, stresses how, “the United States Senate by a nearly unanimous vote have decided to declare war on Russia (sanctions are war) and Germany has threatened retaliation against the United States if it initiates sanctions. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Shale Oil: Another Layer of US Power

Posted by hkarner - 30. Juni 2017

June 15, 2017 George Friedman, Mauldin’s Outside the Box

Summary

There’s scarcely a reason to point out how geopolitically important energy is. Energy, particularly oil, is a source of geopolitical power. Every country needs it, but only some countries have the resources to procure it themselves. Some countries have enough of it that they can profit from its export, and others have so much that they rely on it almost exclusively to fuel their economies.

Saudi Arabia and Russia are two such countries. They spend a lot of money on social services, and they can afford to do so as long as oil revenue keeps flowing in. In times of prosperity, they can, through OPEC, bully other countries into doing their bidding and even dictate the direction of markets. But when oil prices are low, as they are now, they simply don’t have as much money to pacify their populations or exert influence abroad. Pressure on their governments builds.

Simple supply and demand helps to explain why prices are low. When prices bottomed out a few years ago, most oil producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, were expected to cut production to normalize prices. Instead, they kept production high to increase their market share, thinking (incorrectly) that they would capitalize when prices rebounded. But perhaps a more important reason supply is so high, despite recent efforts by OPEC and Russia to cut production, is that the United States has exceeded expectations on how much oil it could bring to market. With the continued use of hydraulic fracturing and other related technologies, the United States is now believed to have more recoverable oil reserves than any other country in the world, and it is reaping the benefits of its newfound status.

Geopolitical Futures doesn’t forecast commodity prices, so we make no attempt to do so here. But the following report will outline a trend that has emerged over the past several years, one that will maintain downward pressure on prices and thus alter the global geopolitical landscape: affordable shale oil drilling in the United States. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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World Coal Output Fell by Record Amount in 2016

Posted by hkarner - 16. Juni 2017

Date: 15-06-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Coal accounted for 28% of energy production last year in a ‘marked shift toward lower-carbon fuels,’ BP says in annual energy review

An excavator moves rocks Coal production world-wide fell by the biggest amount ever last year, according to BP PLC’s annual energy review.

Global coal production saw its largest decrease on record in 2016, as China and the U.S. dug up less of the commodity and burned less of it for electricity, BP BP -1.83% PLC said in the U.K. oil and gas giant’s annual energy review.

Coal made up only 28% of the world’s energy production last year, its lowest level since 2004 and a reflection of what BP said was “marked shift toward lower-carbon fuels as renewable energy continues to grow strongly.” BP, as a major producer of natural gas, stands to gain from less production of an energy source such as coal.

Global coal production fell 6.2%, the most ever recorded, said BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, a closely watched compendium of information about global energy trends. U.S. output declined 19% and Chinese production fell almost 8%. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Next Energy Revolution

Posted by hkarner - 13. Juni 2017

Date: 13-06-2017
Source: Foreign Affairs By David G. Victor, Kassia Yanosek

The Promise and Peril of High-Tech Innovation

The technology revolution has transformed one industry after another, from retail to manufacturing to transportation. Its most far-reaching effects, however, may be playing out in the unlikeliest of places: the traditional industries of oil, gas, and electricity.

Over the past decade, innovation has upended the energy industry. First came the shale revolution. Starting around 2005, companies began to unlock massive new supplies of natural gas, and then oil, from shale basins, thanks to two new technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking). Engineers worked out how to drill shafts vertically and then turn their drills sideways to travel along a shale seam; they then blasted the shale with high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals to pry open the rock and allow the hydrocarbons to flow. These technologies have helped drive oil prices down from an all-time high of $145 per barrel in July 2008 to less than a third of that today, and supply has become much more responsive to market conditions, undercutting the ability of OPEC, a group of the world’s major oil-exporting nations, to influence global oil prices. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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