Author Archives: olivianelson076

Exciting new sources of bio-energy

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Bio-energy has been around for many thousands of years. Think of the burning of wood for heat and cooking stretching back to the earliest of human existence. Today, biofuels have become far more advanced, and their uses aren’t just limited to cooking. Many companies and research institutes are working hard to develop the fuels and technology that we can use in the future to help curb our use of fossil fuels and replace them with a more sustainable source of energy.

Though in many cases there is combustion with biofuels, and gasses are released into the atmosphere, the production of the fuels is able to directly absorb and recapture the expelled gasses and components, making bio-fuels an excellent source of renewable energy. Pollution problems may still exist locally, but in balance, with the use of biofuels there should be no surplus or additional greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere that cannot be re-captured and absorbed quickly.

Bio-Ethanol production and commercialization is one of the prime focuses and research areas for many industry players. Researchers are also addressing the issue of food versus fuel production by looking at ways to combine the production streams and using waste and residue products for fuel production while maintaining food and feedstock production.

One area of research that seems to have slowed down despite promising prospects is that of algae fuels, however, development continues and much of the research already performed is being elaborated on and applied for uses such as the production of jet fuel and biodiesels.


Why there should be a diverse generation mix

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Energy can be produced by multiple sources. From Coal and oil to Gas and Hydro, many countries rely on “traditional” fuel sources for most of their energy needs. Increasingly, however, countries are adopting more renewable energy sources into their portfolio of generation plants. This isn’t only good for the environment, but also has benefits in terms of creating stability in the energy markets.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good strategy for many things, but certainly for energy it can cause many headaches down the road. Large countries such as France, heavily reliant on nuclear energy, or smaller countries relying on single plants run an increased risk of energy shortfalls should external events drastically affect the supply of fuel or the use of technology for safety reasons.

Maintaining a diverse fleet of electricity generation sources can help mitigate these risks. Though redundancy and multiple plants may not be feasible in many smaller countries, there are still technologies and incentives that can help diversify these countries’ energy portfolio such as distributed generation schemes and smaller-scale power generation.

Energy independence is nothing new, and many politicians have campaigned on platforms promising to reduce the dependence on foreign sources for energy. Political unrest and global economic uncertainty is one of the biggest factors that influences the prices on the energy markets. By deploying varied energy production resources, these fluctuations and the volatility can be further mitigated on the demand side of the market, should supply fall short or be cut off.

New technologies, and many renewable technologies also have a tendancy to not operate at prime output levels or at a sufficiently stable level when first brought online, or as is the case with renewables may even be intermittent in normal operation. Here too, there is a need for sufficient alternate capacity to ensure stability in a grid system.

Geothermal could be pivotal for future of energy-intensive heavy industry in New Zealand



When it comes to securing a long-term future for New Zealand’s energy-intensive heavy industry, it is crucial that the country has secure and baseload power. The country’s government has already proposed that the nation be run by 100% renewables in the future, meaning geothermal could play a key role along with hydropower and pumped storage.

The notion of the long-term future of the energy-intensive industry in New Zealand has already been considered.

The challenge of staying competitive for companies operating aluminium smelters and other energy-intensive heavy industry has already been examined. Their business is global, and as such it has some serious leverage when it comes to dictating low prices for electricity for their business – although clean energy sources for this electricity is rarely a focus.

Both Iceland and New Zealand have been, historically, locations where aluminium smelters have operated. In Iceland, these companies were responsible for building up a power market as well as developing the geothermal and hydropower industries in the country. Can the same be said for New Zealand? For the companies in question, a secure and cheap supply of electricity is vital.

Gretta Stephens, former chief executive of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters spoke on the matter. She explained that the only option for energy-intensive heavy industry has for securing a long-term future in this island nation is if “policies to decarbonise the economy can deliver a secure energy supply.”

In the background, there have been developments in New Zealand’s energy scene. The government has decided to stop issuing permits allowing exploration of offshore oil and gas deposits to take place. It has also committed to a 100% renewable future by 2035.

The number one consideration for businesses such as the smelter is making sure it has a secure supply of baseload power. If the country going 100% renewable is on the agenda then it needs to be determined where this baseload power will come from. This will be a concern for all heavy industries, such as smelters and steel works.

If hydropower is going to be the renewable of choice, the country needs to make sure it has a contingency plan. What is going to happen if it is a dry year? Who is going to have the assets to produce the extra requisite power in such circumstances? The fact is we are going to be consuming power come rain or shine so this question of energy security is pressing. Ultimately, companies need to ask themselves how they are going to continuously provide the baseload power they need.

This is where geothermal power comes in to play. New Zealand has a huge potential for generating power from geothermal sources. This provides a uniquely baseload capacity as part of a renewable energy future for New Zealand. All that remains to be done is to harness this power and use it to generate the power needed to run the energy-intensive heavy industry. The future is going to be bright for New Zealand.


UK Sets its Sights on Becoming World Leader in Electric Vehicles Space

UK Sets its Sights on Becoming World Leader in Electric Vehicles Space.jpgWith the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy becoming more pressing than ever before, countries are doing everything they can to find ways to be greener. The Paris Agreement sparked countries and the entire EU to issue legally binding emissions targets in an attempt to control global warming. One way in which the world is meeting the demand for a reduced usage of fossil fuels is the use of electric vehicles that can be charged up from designated charging points around cities and towns.

Currently there are over 150,000 ultra-low emission vehicles driving around on the roads of Britain. A new strategy that has been laid out by the British government would see at least half of all new car sales be ultra-low emission by 2030. This is the UK’s move towards becoming the world leader in the electric vehicle sphere.

On Monday, the British government announced that this new strategy being proposed by policy-makers is called “The Road to Zero”. The government went on to explain that it consists of a number of proposals aimed at increasing green infrastructure, cutting emissions from vehicles and promoting the purchase of zero-emission vans, trucks and cars.

The strategy is an ambitious one that hopes to see at least 50% of new car sales and up to 40% of new van sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030. On top of this the government reiterated its pledge to invest £1.5 billion in ultra-low emission vehicles by the end of 2020.

But, electric vehicles themselves are not the only things targeted by the strategy. The strategy aims to create a suitable infrastructure to accommodate these vehicles, including charge points in newly built homes and lampposts. This £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will help the UK trial innovative, low-cost wireless and on-street charging technology. If it works, this could be a huge step in the right direction for the country.

On top of all of that, owners of electric vehicles may be offered up to £500 to assist them with installing a charge point in their home.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling explained that the next couple of decades are going to be both transformative and disruptive when it comes to the motor industry and the way we travel. In fact, he said that the people of the UK should look forward to seeing more change in the transport sector over the next decade than has been seen in the past century. Things are changing and they are changing fast.

Commenting on the initiative, the government said they would “set the stage” for ultra-low emission vehicles to become the norm on British roads. The 150,000 currently driving around is just the very beginning. The Road to Zero, it is hoped, will pave the way for the UK to become a world leader in the electric vehicle arena. This could be the spark the ignites a zero-emission revolution and brings the planet back from the brink of irreparable climate change. In addition to that, it will mean cleaner air for the people of Britain and an enhanced level of health as a result. The government added that the strategy is technology neutral and that there are no plans to ban any particular type of tech.



Japan Has Concerns Over Its Energy Security

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There is only one thing on Japan’s collective mind right now when it comes to energy and that is energy security. While the rest of the world is grappling with how to reduce its carbon emissions, Japan has put this to the wayside in order to focus on security. This is the single most pressing issue for the far eastern country. Renewables are going to grow, without any doubt, but for the foreseeable future coal is going to remain supreme and natural gas is going to be cut back.

However, the real winner in all of this is nuclear power, which is back in town and growing at a gradual but steady rate. This comes despite the tragic events at Fukushima where a nuclear reactor exploded and killed numerous people.

These notions were published last week in Japan’s new national energy plan, which will carry the country through to 2030. In terms of nominal gross domestic product, Japan is the third largest economy in the world, despite two decades of comparatively low growth. It is also a big consumer of energy even though it has highly efficient use patterns.

What this means is that Japan is, and will continue to be, an important player in the country’s energy scene. However, its dependence on foreign energy is giving it cause for concern. In the 1970s, oil embargoes opened the eyes of the Japanese to the risks associated with a dependence on oil from the Middle East. In 2011, in the year after the Fukushima disaster, all of Japan’s nuclear reactors closed down and there was rapid growth in imports of liquefied natural gas, which caused Asian gas price to surge.

This spike in price has now died down as 19 of Japan’s nuclear reactors are functioning again. The outcome of this, and more generally of a global oversupply, is that the price of Asian gas is only half of what it was in 2014.

What Japan does not want now is to be in a position of risk. Now, a lot of this depends on how you define risk. There is no shortage of gas, with it coming in from Australia, Indonesia, Qatar, Siberia and elsewhere. Price is also not a problem as Japan’s economy is strong enough for it to afford any fluctuations.

So, where is the risk? It revolves around the security of open trade routes required to bring the physical gas to Japan. This is in stark contrast with the Chinese approach, which has seen the country import over 9m barrels per day, constituting over a fifth of world oil trade. This makes China the largest oil importer in the world.

It is also looking likely that China will become the world’s largest gas importer next year if a study by the International Energy Agency is to be believed. LNG shipments are set to grow 60% by 2023. China has plenty of coal of its own and is also increasing the amount of energy it produces from renewable energy sources and nuclear.

Looking at Asia with regards to economic and military strength, Japan is clearly now a second power. America’s alliance with Japan is certainly beneficial but in practice it is hard to see what this means for the country. Would the US be willing to send troops out to aid Japan and keeps its trade routes open? On paper it looks like the answer would be yes but in reality it could be very different.

Japan has taken stock of the energy risks it faces and is making sure it limits them as best it can. The country’s new energy plan is rational and will prevent Japan from vulnerability.


Carbons Dividends are the Way to Energy Freedom

The time is now to do something to prevent climate change. Climate change is doing more than just threatening the environment. It is also a trigger factor for armed conflict, mass migration, and prolonged natural disasters, such as storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods. This has caused the United States to spend as much on disaster management in 2017 as it did in the 30 years between 1980 and 2010.

Unfortunately, political division in Washington has left the people to depend on a Democratic administration with sorely inappropriate regulatory measures to achieve climate change-related targets.

Everyone wants different things. The Conservatives want an insurance policy for the country, while business people want to future-proof their investments and operations and young people want intervention and rebuilding. The IMF has already issued a warning saying that countries that have a strong dependence on publicly subsidised fossil fuels are jeopardising their future solvency. They are investing in a way that destroys future economic resilience.

Green bonds and their running start have shown just how pressing our need for a clean economy is. It is expected that climate-smart finance will be run of the mill in both the private and public sectors within the next decade or two.

Republican former Secretaries of the Treasury James Baker and George Shultz have called for a carbon dividends strategy, because:

  1. It avoids new regulation,
  2. It abides by conservative principles of market efficiency, and
  3. It leverages improvements to the Main Street economy to ensure a future of real energy freedom.

If pollution and climate disruption go unpaid for, and we take into account cost and risk to the economy as a whole, it is clear that we are undermining our ability to defend our freedom and obtain future prosperity. The US might be producing record breaking amounts of oil and gas, but it still depends heavily on foreign regimes that can manipulate supply.

The only solution is to ensure we have access to omnipresent, low-cost, clean energy. This is the only way to secure energy freedom.

So, how do carbon dividends work? They involve imposing a simple upstream fee on anyone that wants to sell polluting fuels. It is easy to impose this fee and it will be the same for everyone. 100% of the revenue generated from the fee is then returned to households in equal shares each month. As the fee and the dividend rises steadily, polluting businesses will see an incentive to innovate and diversify in order to liberate themselves from this increasingly prohibitive fee.

In the end we will see a steady shift towards new investments in clean energy and also the creation of new jobs. There will be new opportunities for industrial production of clean energy technology and equipment as well as maintenance and operation jobs.

There seems to be no fast and more efficient way of reducing the country’s emissions whilst also driving the energy sector firmly into the 21st century. A carbon dividends strategy will place the United States into the zone of energy freedom and keep it there.

Looming Trade War Between US and China Cause Oil Price Dip

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Today, Friday, nervous trading caused the price of oil to dip. This comes ahead of a raft of import tariffs that the two leading world economies, the United States and China, are planning to impose. The U.S. tariffs came into play earlier today.

In total, Brent crude futures dropped by 25 cents, or 0.3% to $77.14 per barrel from their last close. This occurred at around 03:17 GMT. Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures dipped down 15 cents, or 0.2% to a price of $72.79.

Weighing on prices was a rise in U.S. crude inventories of 1.2 million barrels in the week to June 29, to 417.88 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

Of course, the real issue is the looming trade war expected to ignite between the U.S. and China. At 12:01am Washington D.C. time (04:01 GMT) Washington will be imposing tariffs on Chinese goods in a bid to boost domestic production and economic growth.

China did not take this action sitting down and has vowed to retaliate to these tariffs. President Trump announced on Thursday that the grand total of tariffs he is willing to impose will cover over a half-trillion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at brokerage OANDA explained that the situation is looking to be one that is going to seriously affect the country. He referred to it as an unparalleled trade conflict between the world’s largest economies.

Beijing has already responded to Trump’s provocative action by threatening a 25% tariff on U.S. crude imports. However, the Chinese capital is yet to set a date for the introduction of the new policy.

As it stand currently, crude shipments from the U.S. to China amounts to around 400,000 barrels per day for a total of $1 billion a month at current prices. An introduction of tariffs on U.S. oil at 25% would make the oil uncompetitive in China.

One executive from Dongming Petrochemical Group in China has said that he anticipates the tariff on U.S. oil imports to be imposed sooner rather than later. He went on to explain that his refinery has already cancelled U.S. crude imports and is looking to switch to West African or Middle Eastern supplies instead.

The oil market is already tight and a trade war breaking out between the U.S. and China will do nothing to ease this off.

On Friday, FGE, an energy consultancy, issued a warning to the country mentioning a shortage of supplies as a result of U.S. sanctions against Iran and other disruptions. The warning spoke in detail of Iran’s exports, saying its daily exports total around 2.7 million barrels per day, including condensate.

Even if the U.S. allows allies to enjoy some wavers, FGE estimates that up to 2 million barrels per day of crude and condensate will be cut out of markets after the sanctions have been implemented.

Some countries are already reacting to the sanctions and South Korea has said it will not lift any Iranian oil in July. This will be the first time this has happened since August 2012.

Despite Saudi Arabia and Russia reassuring the world that they will raise oil output to offset the loss caused by the disruptions, FGE does not believe that this will be sufficient to compensate for crude losses from Iran, Venezuela and Libya. The final word was that oil prices may well rise to over $100 per barrel.