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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

central Queensland by 2015. But premier Anna Bligh said the original plan was not viable and that further research was needed into suitable storage sites where carbon can be sequestered safely. "A fully functional power station by 2015, using this technology, is technically possible but it is not economically viable," she said. Bligh said the Queensland government would not abandon the project, arguing that the state possessed 300 years worth of coal supplies that would see its value eroded unless CCS technology is deployed.”1156

23.12.10. China moves to defuse trade row with US over green technology. Beijing officials say they are willing to discuss wind power incentives that White House calls 'illegal subsidies.' The US has raised the extent of Chinese subsidies in the WTO under pressure from the United Steelworkers Union.1157

Researchers develop reactor to make fuel from sunlight and store solar energy. Scientists raise hopes for a large-scale renewable source of liquid fuel with a simple reactor that mimics plants. A rooftop reactor could prove capable of producing about three gallons a day could also store solar energy for use at night. Guardian: “The device, reported in the journal Science, uses a standard parabolic mirror to focus the sun's rays into a reaction chamber where the cerium oxide catalyst breaks down water and carbon dioxide. It does this because heating cerium oxide drives oxygen atoms out of its crystal lattice. When cooled the lattice strips oxygen from surrounding chemicals, including water and CO2 in the reactor. That produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be converted to a liquid fuel.”1158

25.12.10.Graphic account of final hours of Deepwater Horizon published in New York Times. On the website, dramatic photos and a video.1159

26.12.10. Rare earth metals mine in Mojave desert is key to US control over hi-tech future. Approval secured to restart operations, which could be crucial in challenging China's stranglehold on the market. Guardian: “By mid-2012, Molycorp aims to produce 20,000 tonnes a year of nine of the 17 rare earths or about 25% of current western imports from China. Smith suggested the company could possibly ramp up production to 40,000 tonnes within the next 18 months. He says Molycorp has exposed just 55 acres of the 2,200 acre site. But even production on that scale may not be enough to guarantee the supply of metals needed to move to a clean energy economy: lanthanum for batteries for hybrid cars, neodymium for the permanent magnets for wind turbines, especially offshore, europium for energy efficient lighting. "You would need seven mines the size of Molycorp's just to meet the demand for wind turbines and that would mean no neodymium for motors or any other applications," said Jim Hedrick, who until last year was the rare earth expert at the US Geological Survey. … Despite their name, rare earth elements are not actually all that rare, but China has a near-monopoly on mining the elements. In a report on the elements published this year, the British Geological Survey put their natural abundance on the same level as copper or lead. According to the BGS China has 37% of the world's estimated reserves, about 36m tonnes, but controls more than 97% of production. The former Soviet bloc has around 19m tonnes and the US 13m, with other large deposits held by Australia, India, Brazil and Malaysia.”

27.12.10.The “virtual pipeline” that ships LNG around the world is growing in importance for the UK – and reducing the UK's reliance on Russia. “But it can't insulate the gas supply from disruption.” This Guardian article describes the Isle of Grain LNG terminal, where “tankers the size of aircraft carriers” offload gas, mostly from Norway, Qatar and Algeria – unless there are last minute diversions. “The UK has three major terminals which between them are able to supply almost half of the country's average annual gas demand. Each of the largest tankers carries enough gas to supply about a third of the UK's average daily winter demand … On one of the coldest days of the month – December 19 – a record quarter of all the gas consumed in the UK came from LNG.”1160

28.12.10.Spain has exported electricity to France for the first time, during recent strikes in the neighbouring country that shut down power plants. Heavy rain and strong winds during 2010 meant that renewables - principally hydro, wind and solar power- met 35% of Spanish demand. Wind meets 16%, solar 3% (but with big plants due online).1161

Construction schedule on Chinese third-generation nuclear plants races ahead of European models. Local experience and long working hours speed progress. The first two EPRs (sold by Areva to China in September 2007) are supposedly going well. Guardian: “The first reactor, currently no more than a metal cylinder 39 metres high, stands in the middle of a lunar landscape extending over 450 hectares, served by some 20 cranes. Nearby, the dome – which will cap the structure containing the 1,660-MW reactor – is waiting for its last two rings to be added.1162

29.12.10. Desire finds no oil again in Falklands. Desire Petroleum shares plunge 20% as politically sensitive Falklands drilling finds no oil for second time this month. (Desire is named after HMS Desire, the ship used by the Brits who supposedly discovered the Falklands in 1592).1163

Worst flooding in 50 years disrupts coal mining in Queensland. Rio Tinto claims “force majeure” to avoid delivery penalties.1164

US sees spike in mortgage foreclosures. FT: “US mortgage foreclosures jumped in the third quarter as fewer borrowers qualified for loan modifications that would have reduced their monthly payments, bank regulators have said. The rise in repossessions and decline in loan modifications are further signs that problems in the US housing market are persisting, in spite of forecasts by some analysts of a recovery before the year-end.”1165

31.12.10. Australian floodwaters rise as bushfire threat looms. Flooded area of north-east Australia is bigger than France and Germany, as southern states face tinder dry conditions. 200,000 have been evacuted. Authorities warn of risks to health, and from crocodiles and snakes in homes.1166

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