Archive | Energy Industry

Davos Forum: Leaders Call for Green Economy

International leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland say U.S. businesses must pressure the federal government to work toward an energy-efficient economy before China reaches one first.

U.N. climate chief Christina Figueres said Thursday that China “is going to leave us all in the dust” if Western countries don’t begin to act on climate change, AP reports.

Figueres said the Chinese “are not doing it just because they want to save the planet. They are doing it because it’s good for the economy.”

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called for U.S. businesses to change their perspective on energy efficiency, saying they should realize that “it’s bad business to not be among the front-runners” in the race for a green global economy.

The annual conference is held in a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.

Posted in Effects, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Finance, Accounting, & Investment, Global Warming, Globalization & Free Trade, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

Oil Prices Dip Slightly

Oil prices settled at $91.12 per barrel of benchmark grade crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday, and other energy commodities fell as the East Coast worked to dig itself out from Monday’s snow storm.

Energy prices usually climb as the weather gets colder, but industry analysts say that most traders have locked in their energy contracts for the year, and investors still buying are looking ahead to 2011, The Associated Press reports.

Heating oil for January delivery fell less than a penny to $2.524 per gallon, gasoline for January delivery fell 1.47 cents to $2.3909 per gallon, and natural gas for February shed 3.1 cents at $4.257 per 1,000 cubic feet, AP reports.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline was $3.061 per gallon, up 1.2 cents from Tuesday’s $3.049, AAA said.

Posted in Energy Industry, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Gas Prices Will Rise to $5 by 2012, Shell Exec Warns

Gas prices will climb to $5 and rationing will be necessary by 2012 if ineffective governing continues, a former Shell executive said Tuesday.

John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, told the Platts news service that political indecision could lead to all-time high prices at the pump and national shortages as soon as a year down the road.

“The politically driven choices that are being made, which are non-choices, essentially frittering at the edges of renewable energy, stifling production in hydrocarbon energy — that’s a sure path for not enough energy for American consumers,” Hofmeister said, according to UPI.

He predicted that lawmakers will panic when they “suddenly” realize they need to rework the U.S. energy strategy around 2012.

“When American consumers are short or prices are so high — $5 a gallon for gasoline, for example, by 2012 — that’s going to set a new tone,” he added.

Hofmeister also expects that the newly Republican-controlled House will make for political gridlock in 2011, fixing energy dependency on hydrocarbons and preventing the exploration of sustainable methods.

The national average price of unleaded gasoline rose Tuesday to $3.049 per gallon, up from $3.042 Monday, AAA said. Oil was up 10 cents at $91.03 a barrel on the Nymex.

Posted in Biofuels & Biomass, Energy Industry, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

China Cuts Rare Earth Exports; U.S. Concerned

China plans to slash its exports of rare earth minerals used worldwide in high-tech products and clean energy, a decision that could cause strain with the United States.

The Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that it will scale back the export quotas 11 percent in the first half of 2011.

China churns out 97 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements, which are essential components of high-technology products like cell phones, computer drives, and hybrid cars, AP reports.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office voiced concern over the move.

“We are very concerned about China’s export restraints on rare earth materials. We have raised our concerns with China and we are continuing to work closely on the issue with stakeholders,” a USTR spokeswoman said, according to Reuters.

The announcement comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China. China lowered its export quota by 40 percent in 2010 and last week shot down U.S. requests to end the restraints. The USTR says the United States may bring the dispute before the World Trade Organization, Reuters reports.

China is allocating 14,446 tons of rare earths among 31 companies.

Posted in Energy Industry, Engineering, International Relations & Treaties0 Comments

EPA Takes Over Texas Carbon Emission Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.

The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.

“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”

The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.

The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.

Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.

An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.

The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Global Trade: U.S. Challenges China’s Clean Energy Subsidies

The U.S. on Wednesday filed a case against China before the World Trade Organization, claiming that Beijing has unfairly provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of subsidies to Chinese wind power companies.

The accusation follows a petition filed by the United Steelworkers in September, which claimed that China buoys its clean energy sector with subsidies, allowing Chinese businesses to sell wind and solar equipment at a lower rate on the international market.

The WTO request alleges that the funding is in violation of global trade rules.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that the Obama Administration is targeting China’s wind power production grants, because they seem to require that Chinese manufacturers use only domestically-made parts.

“Import substitution subsidies are particularly harmful and inherently trade distorting, which is why they are expressly prohibited under WTO rules,” Kirk said in a statement. “These subsidies effectively operate as a barrier to U.S. exports to China.”

The case comes weeks before Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama.

U.S.-China relations are already tense: the two superpowers are arguing over a number of trade issues, including China’s currency policy and Chinese barriers against U.S. beef imports.

During trade talks last week, the U.S. persuaded China to loosen restrictions on foreign contributions to the booming Chinese wind power industry. Foreign suppliers will no longer require previous experience in the Chinese clean energy sector.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard expressed the union’s satisfaction with the Obama administration’s decision to submit the WTO request.

“Today’s announcement by the administration comes as an early note of holiday cheer for those workers in the alternative and renewable energy sector,” said Gerard in a statement. “The goal is not litigation; it’s to end their practices.”

Posted in Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, International Relations & Treaties, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Ethanol Fuel Additive Law Brings Automakers to Appeals Court

U.S. carmakers and engine manufacturers have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

The EPA ruled on Oct. 13th that filling stations could start selling gasoline containing more of the corn-based additive for vehicles built in 2007 or later. The current blend contains 10 percent ethanol.

The various organizations Monday asked a federal appeals court in Washington to review the October decision. They claim the approval of the E15 blend violates the Clean Air Act, and that the fuel could damage engines.

“We want to be sure that any new fuel will not increase air pollution, harm engines or endanger consumer safety,” Michael J. Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said in a joint statement with the other members of the Engine Products Group, according to BusinessWeek.

The Renewable Fuels Association,  an ethanol trade group, said the EPA should have allowed E15 for more models.

“The only way to meet the nation’s energy, economic and environmental goals as put forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard is to increase ethanol consumption,” the group said in a statement.

The suit, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 10-1414, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Policies0 Comments

German Renewable Industry Booming

BERLIN, March 24 (UPI) — Countering Germany’s overall economic trend, the renewable energy industry boomed in 2009, supplying more than 10 percent of the country’s energy for the first time.

“We have made delightful progress,” German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said upon unveiling of the renewable data Wednesday in Berlin. “Germany is a global market leader in the field of renewable energies.”

Renewables — including biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and solar energy — accounted for 10.1 percent of the overall energy mix, up from 9.3 percent in 2008. Renewables produced 94 billion kilowatt hours of power in 2009, a share of 16.1 percent, up from 15.2 percent in the previous year.

That puts Germany in a comfortable position when it comes to reaching its targets of boosting renewables in the energy mix and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewables in 2009 avoided 109 million tons of emissions; Germany has reduced its emissions levels by 28 percent compared to 1990 levels.

Roettgen said it was “very realistic” that Germany before 2020 reaches its target of a 30 percent renewable share in the power mix and by the same year reducing its emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.

The German renewable energy sector has benefited from a generous feed-in-tariff provided by famous renewable energy law, or EEG.

Last year, the German renewable energy industry unlocked investments worth some $23 billion, in a year when the overall economy contracted by 5 percent. The sector employs 300,500 people, that’s almost double the 2004 figure.

“The sector is growing against the trend and it remains a job and economic motor,” Roettgen said.

It’s not all positive news, however: The solar energy industry has turned into a problem child.

The feed-in tariff requires large utilities to buy up power generated by solar panels at prices several times the market value. This has led to German companies leading the global solar power market but also in an excess capacity within relatively chilly Germany: The country in 2009 accounted for more than half of global panel installations, meaning that billions of dollars in subsidies go to their owners. Despite those massive subsidies, solar accounts for less than 1 percent of the overall energy mix in Germany.

This over-funding “discourages technological advances and lowers the acceptance of renewables with the public,” Roettgen said, adding that subsidy cuts were imminent. “We don’t want to use the EEG to subsidize solar investment funds that enjoy double-digit returns.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Geothermal, Hydroelectric, Solar0 Comments

China Enters Latin Energy Market with Deal

BUENOS AIRES, March 15 (UPI) — China has taken the first major step toward securing an energy foothold in Latin America with the purchase of a 50 percent stake in Argentinian oil firm Bridas Corporation.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation said it would pay $3.1 billion for a 50 percent stake in Bridas, which is controlled by Argentine businessman Carlos Bulgheroni and has oil assets in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

The CNOOC acquisition in Argentina comes after many months of Chinese exploratory visits and negotiations in Latin America. Analysts said the purchase was in line with the Chinese government strategy to secure energy assets abroad as a cushion against China’s rising demand and as a future source of revenue.

With crude oil at more than $80 a barrel, the purchase signals the start of formal Chinese entry into the Latin American energy market, after similar approaches made to acquire metals and raw materials to feed the Chinese industry’s growing demand.

CNOOC President Yang Hua said Bridas represents “a very good beachhead for us to enter Latin America” and a culmination of efforts begun last year to secure that position.

With galloping industrial growth and rising consumption among the country’s newly rich, China has become the world’s second largest energy consumer, after the United States.

The Argentine deal is the largest single CNOOC transaction since the company paid $2.7 billion for a stake in a Nigerian oil field nearly five years ago.

In between China has been buying energy assets in Asia and Africa. Industry estimates suggest China spent about $13 billion on energy asset buying worldwide in the past two years. However, most of the buying involved canny scrutiny of the assets, with an eye on securing not only the best possible deal but also assurance of energy supplies for the coming generations.

The Bridas buyout will add 318 million barrels, an increase of about 12 percent, in CNOOC reserves and boost its average daily production by 46,000 barrels.

Bridas owns a 40 percent stake in Pan American Energy LLC, Argentina’s largest crude oil exporter and has oil and gas reserves in Chile and Bolivia. BP Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, owns the remainder of Pan American shares.

Demand for oil in China rose 28 percent in January compared with the same month a year earlier, the International Energy Agency in Paris said. The agency called the rise “astonishing,” indicating information from China’s energy industry was still threadbare in some areas.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Energy Industry, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Amendment to Chinese Energy Law Adopted

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (UPI) — China’s renewable energy law was amended Saturday to require power companies to buy all power generated from renewable resources.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported Chinese lawmakers adopted the amendment to China’s renewable energy law during a National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting.

The amendment also requires the State Council Energy Department and the state power regulatory agency to “determine the proportion of renewable energy power generation to the overall generating capacity for a certain period.”

Under China’s renewable energy law, electricity grid companies will face sizable fines if they fail to purchase power generated from renewable resources such as non-fossil fuels or wind and solar power.

The law and its adopted amendment come about as China remains reliant on coal as a power supply. Two-thirds of the country’s power supply comes from coal, Xinhua said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Solar, Wind0 Comments

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