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PetroChina’s important Anning refinery in Yunnan Province near the Myanmar border came online in October. Its role is so important as a linchpin in the Belt and Road Initiative that Saudi Aramco is seeking a 30-percent stake. “Meanwhile, for its part, Aramco is believed to be eyeing other petrocarbon assets in China,” reports the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. “These will be in addition to its existing agreement with the China North Industries Group, one of the mainland's leading defense contractors, to build a new refinery and a chemical complex in northeast China.”
In other Saudi news, the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund just signed an agreement to build a $200-billion solar power development called New Solar Energy Plan 2030 that calls for the commissioning by 2019 of the Kingdom's first two solar generation projects with 3GW and 4.2GW of solar capacity, respectively. By 2030, the plan commits the parties to manufacture and develop solar panels in Saudi Arabia for solar power generation, between 150 GW and 200 GW. The two parties also will “identify opportunities to establish solar and battery manufacturing ecosystems in the Kingdom, helping to support sector diversification and high-tech job creation.” Ironically, however, “this MoU and the subproject coming out of it will enable the exportation of more oil,” says the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s information office. “Importantly, these projects will help create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Kingdom. Additionally, it will increase the GDP by $12 billion and save up to $40 billion annually.
The Energy Information Administration reported on March 27 that US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) reached 1.94 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, up from 0.5 Bcf/d in 2016. U.S. LNG exports in 2017, all of which originated from Louisiana’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal, reached 25 countries, with 53 percent shipped to just three: Mexico, South Korea, and China. “Mexico received the largest amount of U.S. LNG exports, at 20 percent of the 2017 total,” writes the EIA’s Victoria Zaretskaya, owing to growing demand combined with delays in Mexican pipeline construction.
Two LNG projects — Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland — have come online since 2016, increasing U.S. LNG export capacity to 3.6 Bcf/d. Four more projects are scheduled to come online in the next two years: Elba Island LNG in Georgia and Cameron LNG in Louisiana in 2018, then Freeport LNG and Corpus Christi LNG in Texas in 2019. Once completed, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to reach 9.6 Bcf/d by the end of 2019. “As export capacity continues to increase, the United States is projected to become the third-largest LNG exporter in the world by 2020, surpassing Malaysia and remaining behind only Australia and Qatar.”
Graph courtesy of EIA
Enerkem Inc., the Montreal-based waste-to-biofuels and renewable chemicals producer, announced in January it has signed an agreement with Sinobioway Group worth over C$125 million in the form of equity investment in Enerkem Inc., future licenses, equipment manufacturing and sales, as well as for the creation of a major joint venture that will lead the construction of over 100 Enerkem facilities in China by 2035. The company also is in the financing stage for a major waste-to-chemicals project in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
During World War II, some makers of equipment for warfighting camouflaged their buildings by flooding roofs with water. But would you otherwise think water on the roof is a good idea? The judges for the LafargeHolcim Foundation’s global awards for sustainable construction thought so, as this week they awarded their global Ideas prize to Georgina Baronian from Princeton University for a roof design with a cooling function designed for logistics centers, using a model site in Cherry Valley, California.
The award-winning idea, with energy load reduction in mind, involves introducing a thin layer of water as an additional roof layer on logistics centers, acting as a solar reflector while providing thermal insulation, and resulting in an ambient temperature for workers of just under 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Image courtesy of LafargeHolcim Foundation
The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International testified before Congress in mid-March on the importance of making permanent and modernizing the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, commonly referred to as 179D after its U.S. Internal Revenue Code section number. The U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy is considering the treatment of expired tax provisions that were left unaddressed after the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. First enacted in 2005, 179D has offered commercial building owners up to $1.80 per square foot to offset some of the costs for major energy-efficient improvements made to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; the building envelope; and lighting upgrades that exceed ASHRAE Standard 90.1 by 50 percent. A partial deduction of $.60 per square foot also has been available for retrofits of individual building systems.
“By providing a financial incentive, the tax deduction helps real estate owners, who might not otherwise have the necessary capital, make the decision to design, retrofit and operate energy-efficient structures,” said Henry H. Chamberlain, president and COO of BOMA International. “179D promotes private-sector solutions to improve energy efficiency and modernize the built environment,” which is particularly important for older building stock.
Wisconsin-based Kohler Co. in early March announced a 15-year agreement to purchase 100 megawatts of wind power per year from the Diamond Vista wind farm located near Salina, Kansas. Enel Green Power North America will construct the project this year and will be the long-term owner and operator of the nearly 300 MW wind project. Enel acquired Diamond Vista from Kansas-based renewable energy developer Tradewind Energy. In 2017, Kohler received numerous awards for its environmental sustainability efforts and released its first public Sustainability and Stewardship Report.
"We are pleased to partner with the Diamond Vista Wind Project to play a leading role in reducing fossil fuel usage to power the U.S. electrical grid," said Rob Zimmerman, Director of Sustainability at Kohler Co. "This project is one component of a comprehensive strategy Kohler has created to achieve its overall goal of being 'Net Zero' in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. In addition to this investment, we will continue to drive energy efficiency in our manufacturing processes, buildings, and truck fleet; install onsite renewable energy projects; test and implement new manufacturing technologies; and develop new products and materials that require less energy to make."
Groupe Renault in February announced it has partnered with southern Europe’s first High Power charging network, E-VIA FLEX-E. The aim of the network is to reduce charging times and promote long-distance travel across Europe in new-generation electric cars. The project will kick off at the end of 2018 with the inauguration of 14 High Power charging stations in Italy, France and Spain, including eight in Italy, four in Spain and two in France. The extra-urban network will comprise High Power Charging (HPC) stations with a capacity of between 150kW and 350kW located along motorways and expressways. Renault also has partnered with the Ultra-E and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe networks in northern Europe, composed of 25 and 158 charging stations, respectively.
Image by Arnaud TAQUET/PRODIGIOUS courtesy of Renault