Britain and Norway signed a pact guaranteeing the UK access to Norway’s ample oil and gas supplies. Britain now gets one-quarter of its energy from Norway, which is second only to Russia in European output. The Russians aren’t standing still, however, announcing two new pipelines beneath the Black Sea (ab0ve) to connect with Bulgaria – and avoid the Ukraine in the process. Russia and the Ukraine have had chronic disagreements over pricing in the current pipeline that runs through the Ukraine. Meanwhile, the IEA reports that the possibilities for Europe developing its own unconventional gas resources are dim because of widespread opposition, so dependence on Russia is likely to increase.
Freshman Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says he has come up with an alternative way of financing renewable energy projects. Coons recommends “master limited partnerships,” a special category that allows certain types of companies to raise money in the stock market, while having income taxed only at the unit holder level, avoiding corporate income taxes. To date MLPs have been limited to oil and gas companies in their construction of pipelines but renewable projects have been excluded. The strategy was recommended recently in a report from the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.
If MLPs are approved for renewable projects, they will come just in time for the wind industry, which is struggling after the loss of production tax credits. The mood at the Atlanta conference of the American Wind Energy Association has been gloomy, even though Republican honcho Karl Rove is now plugging for the PTC. It looks like renewables will play a prominent role in the 2012 Presidential campaign, in fact. Two days after Republican candidate Mitt Romney visited the abandoned Solyndra plant to criticize President Obama’s energy policies, Democrats have discovered that Romney had his own Solyndra as governor of Massachusetts.
Canada continues to assess its energy riches as plans take shape to construct a gas pipeline for export to Asia. The Ottawa government announced plans to form a counterterror unit to protect Alberta pipelines. The Asia Pacific and Canada West Foundations have suggested that Canada needs a national energy strategy. Green groups turned off their websites for a day in protest of Canada’s continuing development of its oil resources but it didn’t seem to have much impact. The Edmonton Journal reports that the big problem in the oil fields is still labor shortages.
Finally, the airlines industry has reported back to the government that it would love to use biofuels in commercial airlines but it will require – wouldn’t you know? – a subsidy. Researchers at Purdue have announced a new process manufacturing biofuels that involves pressurized hydrogen and temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, the newspaper reports say it may soon be challenging fossil fuels. Sacramento will subsidize a system of extracting biofuels form municipal waste and a report to the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Minneapolis says that cellulosic ethanol is still on the horizon. Republicans in Congress are getting a little tired of this, however, and have stalled efforts to have the U.S. Navy buy huge quantities of biofuels