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China releases draft energy law

China released the draft version of a long-awaited energy law today, calling for more environment-friendly energy policies and a more market-based pricing mechanism.

The law aims to ‘construct a stable, economical, clean and sustainable energy supply and service system, increase energy efficiency and safeguard energy security’, said the draft posted on a government agency website.
(3 December 2007)

Italian consumers warned of looming energy shortfall

Guy Dinmore, Financial Times
Italians could shiver through a cold, dark winter this year thanks to a shambolic bureaucracy and confused decision-making processes that have blocked vital development of energy infrastructure, according to Fulvio Conti, head of Enel, the country’s largest utility.

“Watch out. We are in danger,” warned Mr Conti in an interview, producing figures that showed how close Italy got to pulling the plug on consumers when gas consumption hit a record, reaching the limit of capacity on January 26, 2006.

That day Italy used 420m cubic metres of gas. Russia, Algeria, Libya and the Netherlands provided the maximum possible of 230m, some 170m were taken from storage and 20m from local production. “We made it barely,” he said, explaining how domestic heating and industry were cut back and some power stations were switched from gas to fuel oil.

But nearly two years later Italy, which relies heavily on gas for electricity generation, is actually in a worse situation. Capacity of foreign and domestic supplies remains the same but, because of what Mr Conti called a “bureaucratic shambles between ministries”, storage capacity is less.
(3 December 2007)

Vietnam to stop subsidizing oil price in 2008

Xinhua (China)
Vietnam will stop subsidizing the prices of oil and petroleum products and some other industrial items such as coal and cement starting from next year, local newspaper Pioneer reported Thursday.

Vietnam has annually compensated some 10 trillion Vietnamese dong (625 million U.S. dollars) for prices oil and petroleum products in recent years, the paper quoted Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying at a local finance meeting on Wednesday.

Stopping the compensation will help save state money to deal with more urgent issues, he said.

The country will also not compensate loss for cement and coal industries, Dung said, noting that Vietnam has not encouraged exports of coal and ores. The country should consider imposing higher taxes on the products to limit their export and save energy, meeting the long-term domestic demand for them.
(29 November 2007)

Wind Power Sets Sail From Crowded Germany

Sylvia Westall and Jeremy Lovell, Reuters
Nearly 19,000 wind turbines cover Germany: dotted across the countryside, nudging to the edge of cities and whirring alongside motorways.

They generate 5 percent of Germany’s electricity — more than in any other country in the world. But with the best plots already taken, there are now few spaces left where companies are allowed to build more. And it’s not just a German problem.

“There’s not that much empty land space,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the Global Wind Energy Council, which represents the industry. “Northern Europe is this little, crowded peninsula on the western tip of Asia with an awful lot of people.

“The next big phase of development in places like Germany and Holland will be offshore, where the resources are so much better.”
(3 December 2007)