US Wood Pellet Exports Double on British Demand
U.S. wood pellet exports doubled to 3.2 million short tons last year, from 1.6 million tons in 2012, fueled by demand from the United Kingdom. The U.K. accounted for close to 60% percent of U.S. wood pellet exports where they are mainly used to replace coal-fired power plants. The coal-fed Drax Power Station, the U.K.’s biggest power plant, is now being converted to run half of its six generating units with pellets. Sales were aided by the European Union’s goal of getting 20 percent of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020. Exports also rose to Belgium, Denmark and Italy.
Russia, China Inks $400 Billion Gas Deal After Decade of Talks
Russia’s $400 billion deal to provide natural gas to China after more than a decade of talks is tilting the world’s biggest energy exporter toward Asia as ties worsen with Europe and the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning to the east as sanctions imposed by the EU and US because of the standoff over Ukraine batter Russia’s economy. Russia needed this deal, not just because it fears losing its European market, but the broader geopolitical situation, says Bono Lo, an associate fellow at he Chatham House research group.
China Increases Offshore Wind Development
China has taken steps to boost development of its offshore wind power sector. Some industry analysts expressed pessimism as the offshore wind power industry experienced slow progress in China with only 39 MW of capacity added last year, a year-on-year decline of 69 percent. However, the China National Renewable Energy Centre said that several new offshore wind projects are scheduled to kick off within this year, including the 100 MW Phase II expansion project of Donghai bridge in Shanghai. Three projects are already under construction, one in Fujian province and two in Jiangsu province.
Electrochemical Approach to Harness Waste Heat
Researchers at MIT and Stanford University have found a new alternative for low-temperature waste-heat conversion into electricity- that is, in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 degrees Celsius. The new approach is based on a phenomenon called thermogalvanic effect. Uncharged battery is heated by the waste heat. Then, while at the higher temperature, the battery is charged; then allowed to cool once fully charged. Since charging voltage is lower at high temperatures, once it has cooled, the battery can actually deliver more electricity than what was used to charge it. In a demonstration with waste heat of 60 C, the system has an efficiency of 5.7 percent.
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