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This Month In Energy: A Look at December's Energy News Highlights

10 minutes to read

Closing out 2015, Student Energy's amazing volunteer team is starting an initiative to get the new year going right. Each month, members of our community around the globe are going to collect the key news stories, and tales of ambitious enernerds from their region to share what's happening where they are with all of you!

Here's December's Energy News Highlights:

North America

America lifts its ban on oil exports

The North American shale oil industry is a relatively new development born partly in response to what can arguably be constituted as cartelling behaviour by OPEC. The recent increase in profitability of shale oil has seen many groups lobbying for the export of U.S. oil, with Congress voting to lift the export ban in December of 2015. The move raises a myriad of questions regarding the effects of opening up trade and potential pockets of interest - a definite story to watch for in 2016. 

Renewables Boom Expected Thanks to Tax Credit

A tax credit extension for renewables, extended to at least the end of the decade, is expected to help drive the United State’s transition away from traditional fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy. The extenders are expected to stimulate hundreds of billions of dollars in new renewable energy investment, marking it as one of the most significant stimulus policies for the renewable sector in the past decade.

It's Canada (again)! This time, it's helping to lead the way to fix the environment

When Canada's newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to Paris to participate in the worldwide environmental negotiations, he brought with him a clear message: Canada is now backing federal and provincial climate protection.

 

Latin America

Mexican Government Ignores Social Impact of Energy Projects

The oil industry contracts granted by the Mexican government since 2014 have not included the social impact assessments required by law.

Mexico awards 1st wholesale electricity supply permit

Mexico's energy regulatory commission (CRE) has awarded the first permit for qualified electricity supply as part of the country's newly created wholesale power market.

 

Asia

Japan and South Korea will stick to coal energy despite the Paris climate deal

Japan and South Korea will continue with their plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, less than a week after the signing of the climate deal in Paris, according to a Reuters report Tuesday. Together, the two countries are set to add over 60 new coal-based power plants in the next 10 years.

Asian Countries Are among Top Achievers on Sustainable Energy Progress

Asian countries are making a vital contribution to achieving global sustainable energy goals, a new World Bank report finds. But while the region performs strongly on ensuring electricity access for people and using more modern renewable energy, there is room for further improvement on energy efficiency and access to clean, smoke-free cooking.

Energy Storage, Renewable Energy Set to Soar in 2016

Solar power is expected to be the fastest growing power generation technology next year while energy storage is set to soar in Asia, according to a report by market research and consulting group Frost & Sullivan.

 

Europe

Europe's largest solar plant opens in France

The 300 megawatt Cestas, the Europe's largest solar PV installation now, starts operating near the French city of Bordeaux. It was developed by Neoen, the leading French renewable energy company, for a cost of €360 million and is expected to produce solar energy for 20 years for a price of €105/MWh, which is cheaper than new nuclear energy in France.

 

Africa

Ghana abounds in renewable energy resources for improved electricity supply

Ghana has several renewable energy resources (RERs) like wind, solar PV, mini and small hydro and modern biomass that can be exploited for electricity production and supply in the country. The investigation also identified barriers for utilizing these resources for electricity generation in the country, and reviewed government policies and programs to promote utilization of renewable energy.

 East Africa a hotbed for energy investments

East Africa is emerging as a hotbed for energy related investments not only for its robust economic growth, but also for its potential to become one of the largest producers and exporters of oil and natural gas in the world. Countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda - which have traditionally depended on biomass to meet most of their energy requirements - are gradually shifting to modern energy sources to meet the growing demands of the expanding urban population and the rising per capita income levels.

Generating investment in Africa’s energy sector: Nigeria must go further

There can be no development of Africa, the world’s final frontier market, without access to modern, efficient energy. So how should we address the continent’s current power deficit, which leaves more than 600m people without electricity? Sub-Saharan Africa currently consumes less electricity than Spain. According to the Africa Progress Panel, based on current trends, it will not be until 2080 that every African has reliable access to electricity.

South Africa Approves 9,600-Megawatt Nuclear Procurement Plan

South Africa approved a plan for the country to procure as much as 9,600 megawatts of nuclear-generated power. “Electricity produced from the new generation capacity shall be procured through tendering procedures which are fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective,” the Minister of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa said in a Government Gazette statement, dated Dec. 21. The statement is signed by the former Energy Minister Ben Martins with a date stamp of November 2013.

 

Student Success Stories

Breakthrough research in solar power storage by a student of University of Copenhagen

Anders Bo Skov, a Master's student at the University of Copenhagen, has developed molecules capable of harvesting and holding a high amount of energy over a longer period of time. In addition to this, his molecules are non-toxic and that is why outperform poisonous lithium ion batteries, currently used to store solar energy.

Waste+water = Electricity

Two students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) have proposed turning wastewater into electricity and reusing the water for daily use. John Paul Santos and Christian Sta. Romana’s concept of the Electrifilter won third place at the fifth Go Green in the City competition last June. The Electrifilter is a device that generates electricity while treating wastewater