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DTI minister backs nuclear new-build

Tim Webb, Independent
Building a new fleet of nuclear reactors is a “no brainer”, according to a government minister with responsibility for global energy and climate change.

Conservative politicians said the Government risked pre-empting its energy review, which will begin soon and will consider how to replace Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors. The Government claims it is keeping an open mind over how to maintain a secure supply of energy while at the same time meeting targets on cutting CO2 emissions.

The comments from Ian Pearson, the minister for trade with a brief on energy issues, are the most explicit expression of support for nuclear power from a senior Labour figure. Nuclear power is virtually carbon free.

“My personal view is that we ought to look at a limited new-build nuclear programme, probably based around existing sites,” he said. “That strikes me as pretty much a no-brainer. To meet our future climate-change targets, it is the right thing to do, and in terms of the energy mix.” He conceded that “there are a whole series of concerns you have to get right” over nuclear energy, for example how to safely store radioactive waste.
(13 November 2005)
The point about nuclear power being “virtually carbon free,” is contested. Carbon would be emitted during the construction, mining, transport, decommissioning and waste disposal phases of nuclear power.-BA

UK – Clean energy opportunities from climate change Bill

Wicks looks to extend backing for renewables on Scottish islands till 2024 & free up microgeneration sector. Malcolm Wicks today outlined the Government’s broad support for Mark Lazarowicz’s Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Private Member’s Bill, which had its second reading in the Commons this morning.

The main purpose of the Bill is to enhance the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change. It calls for an annual report to be laid before the House on the efforts being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and an update on the implementation of the DTI’s microgeneration strategy. It also calls for increased promotion of microgeneration technologies and eventual targets for their use. …
(11 November 2005)

Investment in deepwater projects soars

Andrea R. Mihailescu, UPI
The deepwater drilling industry is expected to continue to grow through the decade and see expenditures reach $20 billion annually by 2010, a leading research firm said. In its World Deepwater Market Forecast, U.K.-based Douglas-Westwood estimates deepwater spending will rise annually by 7.3 percent. Growth will be led by Asia and Latin America, where drilling is rising, but analysts say the “golden triangle” of deepwater exploration and development — offshore West Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil — will still account for 85 percent of global deepwater expenditures in the coming years.

“After the drilling and completion of subsea wells, an activity that is becoming increasingly expensive in areas such as the US Gulf of Mexico, it is floating platforms that form the main component of deepwater development expenditure,” Steve Robertson, research manager at Douglas-Westwood, was quoted as saying in an industry publication. …
(11 November 2005)

Middle East takes advantage of slack in US refining

Adam Porter, ITP Business
If Hurricane Katrina is to have a lasting global impact, it could be on the oil refinery industry. As the tempest rode in from the Gulf of Mexico it seriously damaged at least four major US refineries, Pascagoula, Meraux, Belle Chasse, and Chalmette. As a result it knocked out close to one million barrels per day of refined product. This in turn has finally led to the media being able to question the bottleneck in global refinery capacity. …

To put it into context, the nature of the American and European refinery industry is almost completely moribund. These two huge economic blocs are currently only online to create one more refinery; a 150,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Arizona, whose capacity will only be a drop in the American fuel ocean. This is a country that consumes 27 million barrels of crude every day. …

As a result, the rest of the world has taken advantage of this lack of global refining capacity and are set to cash in. Right across the Middle East, Indonesia, India, and China new refinery projects are ready to exploit the gaps in the market left by the OECD nations, especially the USA. …
(5 October 2005)

Clarkson U. Research Improves Economics of Biodiesel
Potsdam, New York – The goal of NextGen Fuel Inc. is to build technology based on its research that will advance alternative energy production and create a more cost-effective approach to making biodiesel. …

“The technology we’ve developed reduces the costs of building and operating a biofuel plant by more than half. The result is that we are significantly improving the economics of the biodiesel industry.” Roshan Jachuck, Clarkson Professor of Chemical Engineering. …

This year New York State Governor George Pataki and State Senator James Wright provided NextGen Fuel with approximately $350,000 of grant money to build a processing plant and help develop renewable energy markets in the state. To help the company with the project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $99,500 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to Operation Oswego County, which will use the money to assist NextGen Fuel in building a state-of-the-art biodiesel fuel plant in Fulton, New York.

“The plant will be able to produce as much as five-million gallons per year of transportation biodiesel or bio-heating fuel,” said Gaus, a 1989 graduate of Clarkson. “This will help offset the use of imported petroleum products while also reducing emissions. The output will then be sold to fuel distributors, who will blend it with petroleum-based fuel and sell it to truck fleets or heating fuel customers.” …
(10 November 2005)
No details are provided on how the savings are achieved, would welcome more information.-LJ

World’s next fuel source could be designer organisms

Michael Kanellos, CNET
The scientist who cracked the human genome now hopes to exploit the properties of DNA to solve the world’s pending energy crisis.

J. Craig Venter, who gained worldwide fame in 2000 when he mapped the human genetic code, is behind a new start-up called Synthetic Genomics, which plans to create new types of organisms that, ideally, would produce hydrogen, secrete nonpolluting heating oil or be able to break down greenhouse gases.

The initial focus will be on creating “biofactories” for hydrogen and ethanol, two fuels seen as playing an increasing role in powering cars in the future. Hydrogen also holds promise for heating homes and putting juice into electronic devices.
(7 November 2005)

Oil firms said to oppose biofuel made from rye

Reuters via Planet Ark
HANNOVER – Oil companies are hostile to use of bioethanol produced using German rye although the industry has huge potential, a leading German agricultural trade fair was told on Tuesday.

In the next few years 840,000 tonnes of German rye could be used for biofuel production annually, Margit Ziehe, grain purchaser for Mitteldeutsche BioEnergie, Germany’s first major bioethanol plant, told a forum at the Agritechnica trade fair.

But oil companies are unwilling to buy the bioethanol produced from rye and are refusing to blend it as an additive in conventional fuel which they are permitted to do, she said.
(9 November 2005)

Olympic Dam shows hot rocks potential

ABC (Au)
Olympic Dam in northern South Australia is showing promise as another site for a hot rocks energy project. Initial exploration of the site by Western Australian firm Green Rock Energy has found a potential 1,000 megawatt resource.

Managing director Adrian Larking says the company plans to begin drilling next year. He says he is encouraged by the site’s proximity to high voltage transmission lines and the Olympic Dam mine.

“We think we have a large advantage because of our location being so close to existing markets,” he said. “We don’t have to install a lot of infrastructure, we don’t have hundreds of kilometres of power lines that we have to install, so yes we think we do have a timing advantage over other projects.”
(9 November 2005)
Olympic Dam is a BIG copper, uranium oxide, gold and silver mine more than 500km north of the already isolated Australian city of Adelaide.