Other stories below: Average U.S. gas prices near record levels
The global wind power market rose 6 percent to 41 gigawatts last year, led by China, which captured more than two-fifths of the total, the Global Wind Energy Council said today in a report.
China installed 18 gigawatts of turbines in 2011, followed by the U.S. with 6.8 gigawatts and India’s 3 gigawatts. Germany, the U.K., Canada and Spain followed, according to the Brussels- based industry lobby group.
Growth in the market occurred as European governments cut subsidies to tighten budgets and heightened competition among manufacturers as Chinese companies such as Sinovel Wind Group Co. and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. grabbed market share outside China.
“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice,” GWEC Secretary-General Steve Sawyer said in an e-mailed statement. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China to discuss oil sales and other economic ties following U.S. President Barack Obama’s rejection of a pipeline carrying Canadian oil across the continental United States.
Harper is due to arrive late Tuesday at the head of a 40-strong delegation of Canadian business leaders. He will meet with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top officials following a welcoming ceremony Wednesday.
The visit highlights efforts by Canada to diversify energy sales. The U.S. market currently absorbs 97 percent of Canadian oil exports.
Chinese state-owned companies have invested more than $16 billion in Canadian energy in the past two years and hope to gain steady supplies to fuel their country’s booming economy. Chinese state-controlled Sinopec has a stake in a proposed Canadian pipeline to the Pacific Ocean that would substantially boost Chinese investment in Alberta oil sands.
Much has been said and written about rapid global warming-driven changes in the Arctic, but for all the rhetoric, scientists are just in the early stages of understanding the implications for ecosystems in the region.
A new multidisciplinary study by the U.S. Geological Survey may help understand how dynamic ecosystems and their wildlife communities will respond to rapid change in the Arctic.
For example, polar bears and walruses are both showing increased use of land areas. The study will try to determine how that changing behavior will affect those species.
If the globe keeps warming and the seas keep rising, the country of Palau could be wiped off the map. So the Pacific island is teaming up with other small island nations to fight the threat of climate change — in court.
The countries want the International Court of Justice to offer an opinion on whether countries that pollute have a responsibility to other countries that get hurt by that pollution. Ecological damage that crosses borders could be seen as a violation of international law, a legal cudgel against climate change.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that climate change is, for us, a matter of life and death,” Sprent Dabwido, president of the Pacific state of Nauru, said at a climate change conference in December.
Some island nations have already begun planning to go underwater: Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that his countrymen might need to relocate to Australia as climate refugees. The president of Kiribati, another Pacific island nation, has mused that they might need to build artificial floating islands to cope. Several South Pacific islands have already disappeared.
The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.
Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.
The result: The U.S. has reversed a two-decade-long decline in energy independence, increasing the proportion of demand met from domestic sources over the last six years to an estimated 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the U.S. Department of Energy. That would be the highest level since 1992.
Last month turned out to be the most expensive January ever at U.S. gasoline pumps, boosted by growing economic strength.
January is typically a month of falling gasoline prices because fuel demand falters in the slower travel weeks that follow the year-end holidays.
Not so this year.
In January, retail gasoline prices averaged $3.37 a gallon, according to the Oil Price Information Service, a private fuel information service. That compared with the previous record average for the month of $3.095 a gallon, set last year. In 2010, January gasoline prices averaged just $2.71 a gallon.
The new record meant more pain in Americans’ budgets. A typical household, burning about 50 gallons of gasoline a month, paid about $168.50 for that fuel in January, or $33 more than in January 2010.
An economic pickup is behind some of the price appreciation, analysts said.
BP said it was preparing “vigorously” for lawsuits related to its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which are due to start later this month, as it unveiled a rise in fourth-quarter earnings boosted by higher oil prices and one-off gains.
Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Tuesday BP was ready to settle the approximate 600 civil lawsuits it faces from people in states as far away as South Carolina and Kentucky, as well as litigation from the government, on “fair and reasonable terms”.
However, as the clock ticks to the Feb. 27 start of hearings in New Orleans, he added BP was also ready to fight.
Alastair Syme, oil analyst at Citigroup, said he expected the case to go to trial.
Australia reopened a solar funding competition to AGL Energy Ltd., TRUenergy Holdings Pty Ltd. and Suntech Power Holdings Co. after the winning venture that includes BP Plc failed to meet a financing deadline.
The government invited the companies to update their applications seeking grants to build solar-power projects, Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said in a statement today. London-based BP, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Pacific Hydro Pty were awarded A$306.5 million ($330.3 million) in funds last year to build the Moree solar farm in New South Wales state.
“The government is committed to the deployment of large- scale renewable energy technologies in Australia,” Ferguson said in the e-mailed statement. “However, we must also ensure that taxpayer money is spent prudently.”