WUEG February 2015 Newsletter

whartonundergradenergy

for transport remains unfulfilled, tanker trucks

will gain in use and importance.

Both trucking and rail pose environmental,

safety, and economic concerns. The likelihood

for leaks are significantly higher for rail cars and

trucks, which are less reliable methods of

conveying crude than pipelines. Additionally,

rail and roads often run through populated

areas and accidents (such as in Quebec in

2013) violently demonstrate the volatile nature

of crude. Finally, hiring drivers and contracting

trains, though requiring less capital investment,

cost significantly more per unit of oil moved.

While effective as a stopgap measure to

transport crude, pipelines represent the most

realistic long-term vehicle for getting oil sands

crude to market.

Oil Sands Hit by Oil Prices

Despite all the hub-bub, current oil prices may

make the entire debate moot. Oil sands

projects, with their very high set-up costs and

relatively low grade product, face significant

cuts to investment as oil prices have plunged

and stayed low for several months. Shell’s

shelving of an oil sands mine on February 23rd

underscored the threat that the current pricing

environment could have on new production

and alternative pipelines. Still, those

operations that are being completed or have

already been finished will be finished, as the

expectation remains that prices will eventually

rebound. The long term impacts of the price

environment are unclear, but the fact remains

that oil from oil sands is going to reach the

global market, one way or another.

Sources:

Business News Network

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Financial Post

Forbes

Solar Energy in China

Sheetal Akole – Senior member, Academic Committee

With a population of over 1.4 billion people

and an economy growing at 7.7% per year,

China currently holds the title to the largest

energy consumer in the world. Major cities

such as Beijing, Xi’an, and Nanjing are now

known for their pollution, contributed by their

dependence and use of coal-powered plants.

As of 2011, coal constituted 69% of total

energy consumption, and oil constituted 18% --

renewables only accounted for approximately

7%. However, a more recent look at China’s

energy consumption shows shifting trends,

with renewables, especially solar energy,

beginning to play a larger role.

In 2012, China had 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar

capacity – their goal was to reach 35 GW by

2015. As of August 2014, China’s total power

supply was up to 23 GW, coming in second (in

terms of solar capacity) behind Germany, which

had 36GW of capacity. Although Germany

remains the global leader in solar power

generation, China is challenging their position.

In 2013, China increased its photovoltaic (PV)

generation capacity by a whopping 232%.

Compare this to Germany’s 56.5% decline in

new PV generation capacity additions.

Many of the large strides taken by China in

terms of solar energy generation comes as a

result of two main characteristics: China’s

massive solar panel manufacturing industry and

the way China incentivizes solar power. China

has ramped up its PV cell production and is

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