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Leftist governments in South America continued their pattern of appropriation as the Bolivian army seized the assets of Iberdrola, the Spanish utility. Bolivian President Evo Morales (above) said his government was forced to act in order to distribute the nation’s electricity more fairly. Meanwhile, Iberdrola also elected to sell its renewable assets in France. Argentina, which expropriated the Spanish-owned utility YPF last fall, is now hoping to use the utility to exploit its natural gas resources. Good luck in attracting investors to that one.

The natural gas boom in the United States is beginning to spill into other industries. Bloomberg counts five new steel processing plants that are now planned to take advantage of cheap natural gas. The new foundries, called “direct-reduced iron” (DRI), bypass coal and use natural gas in separating the iron ore, the first stage of steelmaking. US Chemical manufacturers are also experiencing a revival through cheap natural gas. Meanwhile both Lebanon and Israel are developing their new finds in the eastern Mediterranean and Chevron has announced two new discoveries in Australia. The Hindu examines world resources and finds huge potential.

CleanTechnica reports that researches at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado have hit a 44 percent conversion rate of solar energy in newly designed photovoltaic panels. The new PVs utilize a wider portion of the solar spectrum. Maui has opened a new wind farm and the City of Buffalo has made a gift of solar panels to struggling Haiti. But the non-profit Vermont Electrical Cooperative has asked for a moratorium on the state’s requirements for renewable energy and in Washington State officials are debating whether the state’s large hydroelectric dams can be counted toward renewable quotas.

Waste-to-energy is making progress – although nobody is yet objecting to the carbon emissions. More than 100 firms have bid on a project in Maui.  Massachusetts may lift a moratorium on energy-generating incinerators but in Allentown PA opponents of a waste-to-energy plant are preparing to put it on the ballot. Information Nigeria notes that Sweden is actually importing garbage in order to turn it into energy and Ahmed Ishtiaq, writing on Seeking Alpha, says waste management efforts are set to grow in 2013.

And if you’re looking for investment opportunities in energy, there are plenty of people giving advice out there. Rita Sapunor, writing on OilPrice, talks about how to play America’s emerging energy independence. Peter Graham questions the pedigree of three highly promoted clean energy stocks. Value Digger, writing on Seeking Alpha, names three energy companies that deserve attention but Lou Basenese warns that the profits that are supposed to come from green investing are largely a myth.

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