Tuesday, February 17, 2009

P39. Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

China is going to need a lot of oil, and to ensure it gets it, it has just loaned the Russian oil companies Rosneft and Transneft (who runs the pipelines) $25 billion, and for this they get an annual delivery of 15 million tons of oil (300,000 bd) for 20 years. Of the sum Rosneft will get $15 billion. The first pipeline heading that way will carry up to 0.6 mbd, but needs a spur to carry the oil to China. The oil will likely come from the Vankor field in the Tyumen region of Siberia, with the pipeline running from Taishet in Siberia to Skovorodino, a town of about 10,000 people, on the border, and in Amur province. Overflying part of the route on Google Earth, it doesn’t look quite as uncivilized as the articles make out. There is a Youtube video of the town of Tynda, for example.

Despite the problems that they are having with the California budget, customers of the Southern California Gas Company are getting a 20% drop in their heating bill. The average winter bill of 75 therms per month is expected to be in the $70-80 range. However there is a drive to change the gas hot water heaters to solar heating, given that about 38% of the home power goes to heating water. Unfortunately I suspect that the $250 million price tag will be too much for the state right now, even though it would be through rebates. Oddly Government support for such a move in Australia is meeting some opposition from Greenpeace, on the odd argument that they don’t generate electricity. It was only last week that tentative agreements were signed for solar-thermal power for Southern California Edison, with Brightsource Energy building 7 plants for a total of 1,300 megawatts over the next seven years. though the first 100 MW unit, in the Mojave Desert won’t be ready until 2013. SCE states that it now gets 16% of its energy from renewables. (Though by next year the state target is 20%).
BrightSource CEO John Woolard said the 400-MW Ivanpah project will create about 1,700 full-time jobs in construction and another 3,500 jobs to last the 40-year life of the plants.
The technology uses the tower approach rather than the trough shaped collector idea used by Acciona in Nevada. Israel contrarily has just approved the connection of a photo-voltaic power station to their national grid, though it will take 4 years to install the connection.

Perhaps the money put into the stimulus package for high-speed rail might head toward maglev. China is looking to start a new project next month although there is already one system in operation in Shanghai, that uses German technology. Plans for high speed rail systems in California are being debated even though no-one knows where the stimulus money is going yet.

While recent talk has focused on a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and on to India, and recent reports have been either favorable or discouraging, Bangladesh remains strapped for energy, and so there is now talk of a pipeline from Myanmar, through Bangladesh to India.. However economic reality, and the fact that coal is indigenous to many in the region is causing the countries of South Asia to seriously consider switching to coal. India, for example, is now seeing a gap of some 5.7% between available supply and demand and needed the pipelines that had been planned, since even now gas can only meet 60% of industrial demand.

There have been concerns in the past over the ability of wind turbines to operate in cold climates, but with turbines now working successfully in Alaska those days may be over. It may still take about 17 years to pay for the installation, however, on an expected life of 20-25 years. Yet with that promise there is still uncertainty over the future of wind in Canada. In the UK permission was given to install ten new wind farms around Scotland. Britain currently generates some 3 GW from wind, and these farms may add double that amount.

And the EU has just released the Market Observatory for Energy report looking at energy generation in the EU. However since the range of oil prices assumed go from $61 to $100 per barrel for oil in 2020 it may still be a little unrealistic – but I will take a look!

More stories can be found at The Energy Bulletin and Drumbeat at The Oil Drum.

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