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The Keystone Pipeline drama took an unexpected turn as liberal activists disclosed that UN Secretary Susan Rice (above) has holdings of between $300,000 and $600,000 in Transcanada, the company that is scheduled to build the pipeline. The revelation was probably intended to force President Obama decide against the pipeline but the much more likely outcome is to torpedo Rice’s chances of being appointed Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton. Collateral damage in the green wars.

The Department of Energy stirred talk of a “Silicon Valley for Batteries” by awarding $120 million to create a Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) in the Midwest. Headquarters will be at the Argonne National Laboratory with two subcenters at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. The aim will be to make storage batteries five times as powerful and five times as cheap within five years. Is this another renewable mandate? A vow to be producing 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2012? Stick around, we’ll see.

The United Kingdom is about to erupt in a huge controversy over fracking. Think what New York State is going through. Now move the whole scene to London and multiply it by five. That’s what to expect. Rumor has it that Chancellor George Osborne is about to unveil a plan that will offer considerable tax breaks and “certainty” to fracking companies. The firms say they’re ready to go. But protestors already assembled in London over the weekend and are ready to do battle. It should be a long one.

Qatar announced plans to build a $20 billion solar installation to desalinate seawater for the desert fiefdom. Now that’s a practical use for solar energy! You don’t have to worry about the lights going out at night or losing data if the sun goes behind a cloud. (Do they have clouds in Qatar?) The Japan Daily Press reports that Chinese solar companies are looking to Japan for new business as that countries tries to substitute solar for nuclear. Yingli, which is experiencing a downturn, reports a contract to supply 200 MW of solar in southern California. But Denmark is finding the response to its solar subsidies a little too enthusiastic and is thinking about cutting them back.

Finally, Australia is still trying to straighten out its power situation as Prime Minister Julia Gillard proposes an overhaul of the electrical system based on deregulating. Household bills have been rising because of the carbon tax and her government is looking for ways to soften the blow. The power companies also want deregulation but there’s always the dangers of messing it up and ending up like California in 2000.

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