‘Shell-shocked’ companies call for freeze on energy prices
Terry Macalister, The Guardian
An organisation representing the National Health Service, Tesco and other top companies has called for a moratorium on further rises in gas and electricity prices.

The Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC) urged utilities such as British Gas to hold back plans to further increase bills and instead work cooperatively with “shell-shocked” customers.

Andrew Bainbridge, director general of the MEUC, said: “We need a moratorium because our members are already shell-shocked by a series of price rises and there is no way they are going to be able to claw back the extra costs.

“Further price increases will force companies out of business and suppliers must work in partnership with their customers through this difficult period.”

More than 100 NHS hospitals are on interruptible gas contracts, which mean supplies can be switched off with only four hours’ notice, the Department of Health told the Guardian.

But the spokesman said all these sites were served by dual-fuel facilities, allowing them to transfer to oil-based generators backed up by large storage tanks. “Patient care will not be affected. All NHS sites are highest-category priority except for a tiny minority that have alternative power sources,” he said.

As independent suppliers warned that they were themselves low on capacity, the Department of Health refused to give details of how long hospitals could survive without further deliveries of oil.
(6 Jan 2006)

Ocean power plan mooted for island
Yomiuri Shimbun, Daily Yomiuri
The government is considering installing an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) system around Okinotorishima island, the country’s southernmost uninhabited island, government sources said Wednesday.

Japan is at odds with China over the establishment of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) around the atoll–which is about 11 kilometers in circumference–under the U.N. Convention of the Law of Sea.

On Tuesday, the National Fisheries University, an independent administrative agency, and Saga University will launch a joint research project in the area, which is about 1,740 kilometers south-southwest of metropolitan Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, to gather data about water temperatures and seabed tomography, according to the sources.

If the findings of the research confirm the feasibility of an OTEC system around Okinotorishima island, the government will go ahead with its OTEC plan for the territory by fiscal 2006, beginning with the selection of a spot where an ocean temperature gradient power generation system will be set up, the sources said.

The temperature gradient system uses warm seawater from the surface to vaporize liquid ammonia into steam for driving the power-generating turbines. The steam is then cooled with low-temperature water pumped from the sea depths, which returns the ammonia to liquid form for use again in the system.
(5 Jan 2006)

Brazilians, freed from the oil dictatorship, succumb to the one of ethanol.
Globovision vie EnergyResources
The ethanol prices are sky high in Brazil and Brazilians, who started to be free from the dictatorship of the high international prices of oil and gas, now succumb to the sugar cane producer prices.

The Brazilian government has called the industry for a meeting next web, alarmed by the consecutive prices of the so called alcohol (ethanol fuel, manufactured from sugar cane. Today a sensible part of the Brazilian car park is working with this fuel)

According to the industry, in 2006 the price of this fuel increased in the country an average of 6 percent. According to the press, the increases are much higher.

Last Saturday, the Secretary to the Minister of Energy, Nelson Hubner, warned in a press conference that the government could reduce the ethanol mix with gas from 25 to 20 percent, if producers do not reduce prices.

In Brazil, the sugar cane ethanol is a fuel in itself and besides can go mixed with the gas sold to public.

Brazil is the first world producer of sugar cane, thus allowing them the technology development of the ethanol as fuel.

At present, more than 70 percent of the cars sold in Brazil are bifuel; that is, they can be used with alcohol or gas, no matter which; a technology developed in previous years that seemed to have relieved Brazilians from the high prices dependency of the oil derivates.

But the ethanol, with all the consecutive increases is close to the gas prices.

Globovision. Economy. January 8th., 2006
Translated into English by Crisis Energetica. www.crisisenergetica.org
(9 Jan 2006)
papp20032000 comments that this article “invites [one] to think about the biofuels dependency of the fossil fuels for agriculture. And also invites [one] to think in the dilemma of food production for humans or for machines.” -AF

U.S. Government Encourages Renewables on Outer Continental Shelf
Development of wind, wave, current and solar power projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf is now being structured by the federal government agency with oversight of oil and gas development.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS), part of the Department of the Interior, was empowered by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to assume authority for renewable energy projects, such as wave, wind or solar power on offshore lands.

The agency is seeking public comment on its proposal to permit development of renewables on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the submerged lands seaward of coastal states’ waters.

There is as much wind power potential – 900,000 megawatts – off U.S. coasts as the current capacity of all power plants in the United States combined, according to a report issued last fall by the U.S. Department of Energy, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and General Electric entitled, “A Framework for Offshore Wind Energy Development in the United States.”

While no offshore wind farms exist in the United States, GE Wind Energy turbines are part of an offshore wind project off the coast of Ireland.
(2 January 2006)

Britain Seen off to Slow Start on Biomass, Biofuels
Reuters, Planet Ark
Britain has made a slow start in developing biofuels and biomass production, UK farming minister Lord Bach said on Wednesday.

“I think we in the UK have probably been a bit behind the game in both biofuels and biomass. We are seriously trying to catch up now,” he said at the annual Oxford farming conference.
(5 Jan 2006)

Coconut oil being used as fuel additive
Northwest Herald
South Pacific Island nations Vanuatu and Samoa are turning coconuts into fuel to combat the soaring cost of importing diesel.

Unelco Vanuatu Ltd. is diluting diesel for its biggest generator with 5 percent coconut oil, while Samoa’s Electric Power Corp. is running a test using blends with as much as 20 percent. Tony Deamer, Vanuatu’s biggest retailer of coconut-kerosene motor fuel, is selling his 80 percent-blend “Island Fuel” to truck drivers at prices 14 percent lower than diesel.

Energy consumers worldwide are trying to tap new fuel sources such as wind-power or crops after economic growth in the U.S. and China strained crude oil supplies, pushing prices to records. While the South Pacific’s fuel-import bill jumped 20 percent last year to about $700 million, the price of coconut oil fell 12 percent as global cooking-oil production rose.

“We’re not doing this just to burn a bit of coconut oil,” said Jean Chaniel, general manager of Unelco Vanuatu. “The objective here is to get an oil industry going.”
(7 Jan 2005)