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President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

Obama to Discuss Energy's Economic Impact at Home Depot Store in Northern Virginia

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Obama’s Main Street tour of U.S. cities for discussions about economic issues heads to a Home Depot hardware store in northern Virginia Tuesday.

Obama was to discuss the economic impact of energy saving home retrofitting with representatives of small business, labor and manufacturing, the White House said.

Obama also was scheduled to meet with business leaders in the White House.

Later in the afternoon, the Senate Democratic Caucus and Obama will meet at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Office0 Comments

Solar Power Units Create More Power with Less Sun

KONA, Hawaii, Dec. 14 (UPI) — The world’s first solar thermal plant using proprietary MicroCSP solar panels opened at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in a major new response to the state’s clean energy initiative.

The thermal energy project spans 3.8 acres in the Kona desert and features 1,000 of the solar panels, the first of their kind, Hawaii-based Sopogy Inc. said.

Through the use of mirrors and optics and an integrated sun tracker, the company claims the panels achieve higher efficiencies than conventional solar panels and are good at gathering energy even in the cloudiest of conditions.

Solar energy is attracting funding and support worldwide amid a scramble for clean energy. As the panels’ manufacturer, Sopogy is poised to replace the “chaotic” solar power installations worldwide with its branded product.

Sopogy has projects operating in Idaho, California, Hawaii and several more across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. However, many of Sopogy’s customers are using the systems as a competitive advantage and have intentionally kept their projects confidential.

Analysts said several factors supported upgrading of conventional solar panels with more efficient and versatile devices that respond to familiar challenges, such as poor sunlight or fragility and unreliability of the equipment.

Sopogy’s branded system also uses a thermal energy storage buffer, the first of its kind, that allows energy to be produced during cloudy periods. The buffer can also transfer energy produced during the day to evening hours.

Sopogy named the project, “Holaniku at Keahole Point” to add local color and to reflect the diversity of the technology’s uses. The Hawaiian term stands for a location that has everything required for self-sufficiency.

Sopogy also believes it is on to an all-round winner with the MicroCSP technology applied in solar power systems. “MicroCSP is an achievement in rugged, modular and cost-effective solar thermal technology,” said Darren T. Kimura, the company’s president and CEO.

Kimura said the completion and demonstration of the 2 megawatt solar thermal project is an important first step toward widening its usage across the world.

Sopogy’s MicroCSP technologies are being used in such diverse applications as process heat, solar air conditioning, rooftop deployment and power generation.

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has attracted the attention of the renewable energy industry. Sopogy and its local solar project development partner Keahole Solar Power plan to bring 30 megawatts of MicroCSP power to the state by 2015.

Analysts said competitive pricing of Sopogy’s systems would be crucial to establishing the company into solar thermal energy markets with less cash than Europe’s industrial countries or oil-rich states experimenting with energy diversification.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar0 Comments

Exxon to Buy XTO Energy for $41B

HOUSTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) — Exxon Mobil Corp. Monday said it reached a deal to buy U.S. energy company XTO Energy Inc. for $41 billion.

For the the all-stock deal, Exxon will issue 0.7989 percent of a share for each XTO common share, or 25 percent more than recent closing prices, MarketWatch reported.

XTO Energy shares quickly jumped 15 percent with the announcement, while Exxon shares dropped 4 percent.

Standard & Poor’s stock analyst Tina Vital said, “we like the deal, which we view as fairly valued at W$2.96 per thousand cubic feet of proved reserves, in line with recent data.”

XTO would be “a compliment” to Exxon’s future plans, Vital said.

While the deal is certain to draw scrutiny from anti-trust regulators, Exxon said it would “enhance” it’s position “in the development of unconventional natural gas and oil reserves.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas0 Comments

Wind Power Industry to Gain from Copenhagen Summit Deals

NEW DELHI, Dec. 14 (UPI) — A breakthrough deal in climate-change talks in Copenhagen would lead to a sales boost for the wind power industry, says the chief of India’s biggest maker of wind-turbine generators.

Suzlon, based in the Indian city of Pune, could see a ten-fold increase in annual revenues by 2020 with a successful Copenhagen outcome, predicts chief executive Tulsi Tanti.

“With a very strong support of the Copenhagen meeting and a very clear road map from political leaders around the world, I think I can deliver by 2020 a $50 billion size of the business,” Tanti told Bloomberg.

Tanti said that worldwide turbine sales, which have averaged 28 percent over the last decade, will likely increase to 35 percent pending a successful Copenhagen outcome. Even without a Copenhagen deal, Tanti predicts an industry-wide turbine sales increase of 20 percent to 25 percent a year.

The Global Wind Energy Council expects industry growth of 22 percent until 2013.

Suzlon, the third-largest wind-turbine manufacturer in the world, was founded in 1995 with a staff of 20 and has grown to 14,000 people in 21 countries, according to the company’s Web site.

But Suzlon has weathered storms due to the global economic crisis, a high level of company debt and manufacturing problems with its turbines.

For fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, Suzlon is functioning at less than 50 percent of its 4,200 megawatt manufacturing capacity. That’s down about 70 percent to 75 percent from the previous year. The company’s breakeven point is for manufacturing to be running at 40 percent to 45 percent of capacity, Chief Operating Officer Sumant Sinha told The Wall Street Journal.

Now Suzlon is close to pinning down a $2.8 billion refinancing package that would give it permission to acquire the remaining stake in REpower Systems AG, one of the leading turbine producers in the German wind energy sector.

Sinha said last week that Suzlon would file for a “domination agreement” in Germany “probably in a couple of months.” Suzlon currently holds a 92 percent stake in REpower but under German law must buy out the remaining shareholders before exercising full control of the company.

Sinha also said the company has spent about $100 million to retrofit blades that cracked on turbines in the United States and is also making strides in its financial affairs.

India, for its part, has a total wind power installed capacity of 10,900 megawatts and ranks fifth in the world after the United States, Germany, Spain and China.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, People, Wind0 Comments

Bombs Defused on Gas Pipeline

MAGAS, Russia, Dec. 14 (UPI) — Weapons experts Monday defused two bombs planted near a natural gas pipeline in Russia’s volatile Ingushetia region, authorities said.

The bombs, made from hand grenades, were found Sunday night on the gas line running from Mozdok in Russia’s North Ossetia to Georgia, RIA Novosti reported.

Gas supplies to Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Armenia were cut while weapons experts defused the bombs and searched other parts of the pipeline, said a spokesman for Gazprom, the giant Russian energy utility. Gas supplies to Georgia were not affected.

It was not known who planted the bombs, investigators said.

The predominately Muslim region of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, in recent months has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist rebels battling pro-Kremlin authorities and Russian security forces.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas, Other0 Comments

Republicans Say Obama's Climate Change Efforts to Cost Jobs

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) — Efforts backed by U.S President Barack Obama to stop global warming would wipe out millions of American jobs if enacted, a Republican Party spokeswoman says.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., warned listeners to the GOP’s weekly radio address that complying with plans to cut carbon emissions put forward by world leaders at the U.N. climate change conference this week in Copenhagen, Denmark, “would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come.”

Blackburn asserted that to comply with a Copenhagen agreement, “Washington Democrats” want to enact a “national energy tax, a bureaucratic nightmare that would make households, small businesses and family farms pay higher prices for electricity, gasoline, food and virtually every product made in America.”

Blasting the “cap-and-trade” greenhouse gas emission legislation that has passed the House and stalled in the Senate, Blackburn said Obama has “piled more regulation on the backs of families and small businesses in the name of combating global warming,” referring to a move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determining that carbon dioxide emissions endanger human health and must be regulated.

“My bill, H.R. 391, would stop the EPA,” Blackburn said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Global Warming & Climate Change1 Comment

Top Natural Gas Producers Tackle Global Excess

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 11 (UPI) — The world’s top natural gas producers meeting in the Gulf state of Qatar have agreed to strengthen their emergent organization and work together to push up tumbling prices caused by an unprecedented global gas glut.

But there’s still no sign that they will coalesce into a price-manipulating cartel with the market muscle of the 13-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that the three nations with the world’s three biggest reserves of gas — Russia, Iran and Qatar — are pushing for.

Talk of a possible major gas monopoly, dubbed a “gas OPEC,” has unnerved Europe, which gets much of its gas from Russia. The 27-member European Union imports 61 percent of its gas needs, 42 percent from Russia.

There are concerns too that a resurgent Russia, now vying with Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer, is using its oil and gas exports as leverage to reassert its dominance over the states that comprised the former Soviet bloc.

The 15-member Gas Exporting Countries Forum agreed at its Dec. 9-10 ministerial meeting in Doha, the ninth since the organization was formed in 2001, that it needs to expand strategic cooperation.

The group also elected its first secretary-general, energy executive Leonid Bokhanovsky, vice president of Russian pipeline builder OAO Stroytansgaz, further cementing its organizational structure from its informal beginnings and adding more cohesion to its decision-making process.

According to Forbes, the group of gas producers “is in many ways similar to OPEC in its early days. … OPEC members cooperated to use their market power and as a result extracted hundreds of thousands of billions of dollars of ‘cartel profits’ from consuming countries.”

“The Gas Exporting Countries Forum should function like OPEC to defend the interests of its members,” declared Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil.

He urged forum members to “reach agreement on a strategy for obtaining a fair price for gas.”

Forbes observed that “such words cause alarm, especially in European and Asian countries, many of which are highly dependent on gas imports from GECF member states.”

The Paris-based International Energy Agency warned in November of an “acute glut” of natural gas across the world in the coming years because of rising production in the United States and Canada.

Much of this is due to new technologies that allow the large-scale production of “shale gas,” an unconventional natural gas, particularly in the United States, which had been expected to become a major gas importer.

This, Forbes noted, would “turn the United States into a net exporter and thus offset a GECF-led natural gas cartel.”

Still, opinion remains divided over the likelihood that a Gas OPEC will emerge.

U.S.-based global security consultancy Stratfor said in an analysis that the prospect of a cartel being able to affect gas prices is remote because natural gas is a very different energy commodity than oil.

“Gas is not transported — or priced — like oil” and “cannot simply be poured into a container and sent to market,” it said. “It has to be shipped and distributed via multibillion-dollar dedicated pipeline infrastructures that require years to build.

“Because the infrastructure is so tightly linked to the market, natural gas prices almost exclusively are priced only within that network, not via the global market as oil is.”

Most GECF members “are wholly dependent upon foreign investment for their natural gas industries … and are very unlikely to actually take steps to hurt their customers,” Stratfor added.

“Keeping those investments flowing and those facilities operational requires partnering with customers, not plotting against them.”

Forbes sees it differently. “Despite potentially mitigating factors, the economic risk of an emerging natural gas cartel remains since market structures change rapidly and gas exporters are determined to cooperate,” it noted.

“In the early 1960s, OPEC was dismissed as an ineffective forum. But it managed to harm the world economy and extracted enormous ‘cartel profits’ at the expense of consumers only a decade later.

“Today, policymakers need to take the scenario of a natural gas cartel seriously. It could cost consumers dearly and hurt the world economy if we were unprepared.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Infrastructure, Natural Gas0 Comments

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