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The development of fracking has created a revolution in the United States oil and gas industry. Following a conference in Houston, analysts have projected the U.S. to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world's top crude exporter within the next few years. The U.S. is projected to double its gross crude oil exports to 4.2 million barrels per day by 2024. Additionally, the United States is expected to account for 70% of the total increase in global production capacity over the next 5 years. Directors for the International Energy Agency have crowned this the “Second wave of the U.S. shale revolution”. Additionally, there is a $2.5 billion project being discussed that would carry wind and solar energy from Iowa into the Chicago area. This ‘cord’ is estimated to be 349 miles long and would connect to a power grid serving 13 midwestern states.

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This is the fifth post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry.

The future of energy is often discussed in the news.  Many publications will say that the energy market’s future rests in one form or another but the future of the energy industry whole is difficult to predict because much of the future of energy is rooted in the policies of politicians. However, the Earth is not yet close to running out of these nonrenewable fuels so while there will be a need to fully replace the use of fossil fuels in our world at some point; running out of fossil fuels is not really the most pressing need at this time. 

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This is the fourth post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry.

As more countries consider the environmental impacts of capturing and using different forms of energy, the era for previous power-houses like coal is coming to a close. This post will explore the accessibility, development, and trading of upcoming fossil fuels around the globe.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry.

As our world’s supply of nonrenewable resources slowly dwindles, society is being forced to consider new methods of generating energy in a continuously growing world.  A major focus has been put on turning earth’s natural products like wind, sun, and water, and additionally nuclear power, into devices of energy production.  Fifty countries agreed at the Climate Vulnerable Forum to make 100% of their energy renewable by 2050.  The construction of wind turbines, solar panels, and nuclear reactors is spearheading this dive into renewable energy while having a definite impact on business.

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This is the second post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry. 

Every day we face new problems arising from the environmental state of our world. Widespread pollution is a huge problem to our environment and there is an urgent need to start using renewable sources that eliminate the burning of fossil fuels. Geothermal and hydroelectric are renewable sources of energies and produce “clean” fuel sources.

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This is the first post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry. 

This week’s blog series will be about the Energy industry with posts about Geothermal and Hydroelectric Power; Solar, Wind, and Nuclear Energy; Oil, and Natural Gas; concluding with an outlook on the future of Energy. By the end of the week, these articles will give you an in-depth break down on the current state of the Energy industry in the United States and abroad.

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This winter, Australia gave life to business extraordinaire Elon Musk’s mega-battery, changing the scope of energy production as we know it.  The battery is the size of an American football field and powers 30,000 homes in Southern Australia and was built in the Tesla founder’s guaranteed 100-day time frame. On the heels of his accomplishment, Musk has announced another mega-battery to be built, putting on full display the growing market of batteries as the future of society’s power source.

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Many still think of biofuels as the fuel of the future.  They think of a futuristic technology that still has not really been developed fully.  Biofuels have actually been around much longer than most people realize.  Henry Ford even planned to have his Model T run on ethanol way back in the early 1900s.  Problems with today’s energy sources often come up because of the harm they can cause to the environment.  Biofuels may eventually become a solution to both of these problems.  That is why people still think of biofuels as a fuel of the future; they have not yet been implemented in society in an effective way. 

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Venezuela's international standing has suffered in the wake of its controversial presidential election and constitutional assembly. Amidst allegations of vote manipulation and crackdowns on protests and opposition, Venezuela's electoral process and ensuing government scandals have faced condemnation from several international leaders. Foreign ministers of fellow Mercosur countries voted to indefinitely suspend Venezuela from the trade bloc. The United States levied sanctions on numerous Venezuelan officials, including the country's president, preventing them from doing business in or traveling to the U.S. Other nations have refused to recognize the election results. The international response will likely impact the already-suffering Venezuelan economy, which has declined sharply over the past few years.

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Clean and renewable energy has continued to gain worldwide importance and is growing at a rapid rate in today's society. Globally, almost 10 million people were employed by the renewable energy sector in 2016 alone. According to reports from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), that is a 1.1% increase from the number employed in 2015. The report indicates that the main employers in renewable energy were the United States, China, India, Brazil, and Germany, with most jobs coming from the solar power sector. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that wind turbine service technician is the fastest-growing occupation in the United States.

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On Wednesday, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report detailing trends in the renewable energy job market. Worldwide, renewable energy employed 9.8 million people last year, which is nearly twice as many compared to 2012. Wind jobs specifically grew by 28%. As global leaders, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, and the United States have the highest number of renewable jobs. Global energy job growth has slowed down in recent years following solar energy declines in Japan and Europe, but IRENA Director-General, Adnan Amin, predicted that by 2030, employment will triple to 24 million.

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The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, was a global agreement that curtailed multinational sanctions on Iran with the promise that Iran would cut back on its uranium enrichment. Several nations have doubted Iran's full commitment to the deal, especially with news of the recent missile test; nonetheless, the JCPOA has held firm thus far. Helped by the sanctions relief, Iran has now taken a large step in revitalizing its position within the global marketplace. The country has started building 12 new oil refineries, hoping to increase its overall output to at least 4 billion barrels a day by the end of March. Unaffected by the OPEC supply cuts negotiated last November, Iran hopes to massively expand its lagging energy industry, a sector that was particularly hit hard by pre-deal sanctions.

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Canada is the world's 12th largest coal producer, contributing close to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions overall. However, Canada plans to fully phase out coal power by the year 2030. Canada's largest province, Ontario, phased out coal power in 2014, so the remaining four provinces that still use coal-fired electricity will be the next in line.

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On Wednesday, OPEC reached an agreement that will cut its output of oil for the first time in eight years. The current rate of production is 33.24 million barrels per day; the new aim is 32.5 million barrels per day. The decision came to fruition at a two-day OPEC meeting in Algeria. However, it is not yet an official deal. Specific details have not been released yet, and decisions regarding individual countries' output will not be discussed until late November. Plus, there are several more related proposals from OPEC affiliates that warrant discussion. If an official deal is eventually reached and put into effect, it will undoubtedly raise oil prices (which have been cripplingly low over the past year) and help combat the global oversupply of crude oil.

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China has gained a valuable foothold in the nuclear energy industry as Britain’s new Prime Minister has given the green light for a power plant to be built in Hinkley, England. The project is worth a reported $24 billion and has many people worried about the economic ramifications of allowing China and France to fund this large scale project on English soil. “In response, the U.K. has set out new restrictions on the project's builders, saying the companies would not be able to sell their stakes in the plant without prior approval from the government. Going forward, the British government will take a stake in all nuclear power projects, giving it control over a change of ownership.” (CNN) The restrictions that the UK has put on this project eases the fears of many, but some still are worried over the consequences of this act.

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The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a 65-page complaint to about 47 different energy and mining giants, accusing them of contributing to climate change and thus violating the fundamental rights of Filipino citizens. Grievances listed include violation of the rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination." The document demands that the corporations respond within 45 days with formal plans to either eliminate or lessen their carbon footprints. Major companies listed in the dispatch include Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BHP Billiton. Both human rights and environmental organizations are calling this a "landmark case." 

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Chevron and partners in the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan will help to increase crude oil production in the field by about 260,000 barrels per day with the development of its Future Growth and Wellhead Pressure Management Project. This expansion is estimated to cost $36.8 billion but will increase the field’s total daily production to about 1 million barrels. Multiple companies own portions of this oil field: Tengizchevroil is 50% owned by Chevron and owns and operates the Tengiz field. However, another 25% is owned by Exxon Mobil Corp, 20% by Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company, KazMunayGas, and the final 5% is owned by a subsidiary of Russia’s Lukoil.

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Recent pushes for an increase in environmental consciousness have resulted in increased demand for renewable energy. Along with the increased awareness, the Paris Climate Conference highlighted the importance and urgency behind the situation. All of the recent talk surrounding green energy is expected to significantly increase investment and production in the industry, but multiple factors are currently holding back it's success.

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Cap and trade programs are being implemented in many countries and regions all over the world. A cap and trade program is a system that sets a “cap” limiting the amount of pollution a company, institution, or household can emit. The trade aspect of the program refers to a market where companies buy and sell allowances depending on if they will be over or under the cap. In essence, it’s a polluter-pays principle. Cap and trade allows the market to decide where emissions can be condensed with the lowest cost, while cutting down on the pollution that is causing climate change.

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Throughout human history, natural resources have been the bedrock of human development and commerce. In ancient times, civilizations flourished based on vast amounts of precious minerals or other valuable resources. Is it possible, however, that in modern times an abundance of natural resources can be as much a curse as a blessing to a nation state? This is not a brand new thesis, in fact many have covered it from academia to national publications and everything in between.

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Since American shale oil has joined the oil industry, oil prices have plummeted. Brent crude oil is down more than 60% since last summer, pricing at under $43 a barrel. American light crude oil is trading at the lowest prices in 10 years at under $40 a barrel. Predictions from Goldman Sachs suggest that prices could fall even further. The main concern driving this price drop is supply and demand imbalances--there is too much oil being produced and not enough customers purchasing it all.

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On December 1st, the SPDR S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free ETF (SPYX) will be launched as the greener version of the SDPR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY). This shows an overall global trend to investing in lowering our carbon footprint. This trend could have huge implications as the world shifts to less fossil fuel based industries because it could spell trouble for companies that rely heavily on the non-renewable energy business. The new ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) breaks up the S&P 500 of companies that own fossil fuel reserves. “While that's far from totally cleaning up an index that includes several carbon-emitting companies in different industries—namely, transportation—it does remove Big Oil, one of the largest offenders.” This statement made from Bloomberg Business also shows how important this could be, as it could set off a chain of events that cause more companies to invest more heavily in renewable energy, as well as cutting off companies who are huge in the oil business.

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The ever-changing oil industry is currently facing a downturn, as the price of oil per barrel has been cut roughly in half since June 2014, the lowest since the economic recession in 2009. Over the last decade, oil prices were normally around $90 or $100 per barrel. On Tuesday, the international standard of Brent crude oil was trading at around $46 per barrel while American oil was trading at around $43 per barrel.

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Earlier this summer, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) announced a $70 million commitment to bring in one billion dollars in public-private investments for developing countries. This plan will take place over the next five years, and the grant money given to Africa is expected to generate $750 million in investments from the private sector. The MCC is heavily investing in the continent’s energy sector, and the ultimate goal is to reduce poverty, increase economic growth, and attract more investors to countries such as Malawi, Benin, Lesotho, Liberia, Tanzania, Ghana, and Morocco. According to Kyeh Kim, the Deputy Vice-President of Compact Operations for the MCC, “these are countries that have a good track record in terms of good governance and democracy, have made strong efforts toward anti-corruption and are investing in their social sectors: education and health, as well as creating an enabling business environment through things like good fiscal policy, trade policy.”

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Commodities are generally a good measure of how the market is doing overall; how abundant and fluid certain resources are can explain a lot about the economy and its patterns. When so much of the world, independent and corporate investors alike, has deeply vested interests in such a large market-one whose health is constantly up for debate, it is difficult to know when the warning signs are considerably worrying. Internationally, the world is facing a massive supply glut with Middle Eastern producers turning over oil at record production rates and the recent emergence of other serious oil producers, including the U.S. Even with such steep price drops, petroleum is not the only factor. One commodity index in particular, that tracks an array of different commodities, is currently trading far below recorded levels from before December 2008. Prices drop, the market recalibrates, and volatility is appeased, if only temporarily. But with recent global events surrounding Greece banks and the Chinese market bubble, perhaps it is time to look below the surface and into the past. 

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For the first time in nearly 80 years, Mexico is holding an oil auction in which energy firms from all over the world will compete. Is this bid for oil going to hold lackluster results or is it the key for Mexico's energy reform? Petróleos Mexicanos, mononymously known as Pemex, virtually controls the entire nation’s oil industry. Nationalized in 1938, Pemex was designed to push out external parties like the U.K. and the U.S. following major labor disputes and their ostensible domination of the energy markets. Therefore, the auctions being held are a step, or leap, in the opposite direction. The bidding marks the first time ever that private oil companies are being allowed to set up in Mexico and that oil contracts are being sold off. For a country whose oil industry has been monopolized for 77 years, the auctioning offers a world of possibilities to both Mexico and its prospective investors. To be exact, the sell-off is estimated to draw in a revitalizing $62.5 billion for the Mexican economy.

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The arctic ice shelves pose a difficult question to the world’s largest oil companies. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, they may contain the largest remaining untapped oil reserves on the planet, but accessing this oil requires large amounts of time and money. Factor in the recent oil crash and the increasingly uncertain outlook for the industry, and pursuing arctic oil becomes a gamble akin to a billion dollar toss up.

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Global discussion and concern about climate change has amplified in the past few years, as more research has been conducted and more world leaders have voiced their opinions on the issue. The most recent world leader to do so was Pope Francis, leader of almost 70 million Catholics worldwide, who declared global warming to be a threat to life on the planet and called for a reduction of the usage of fossil fuels. As this movement garners further support, more and more nations are turning to clean and renewable alternative energy sources to supplement, and eventually replace, their fossil fuel driven energy sources. Of these renewable alternatives, solar power is one of the most popular worldwide.

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With a new development by an engineer at Michigan State University, soon a sky scraper could generate enough energy from its windows to supply all of the energy it needs. Researcher Richard Lunt, of Michigan State University, has been able to do what many have tried in the past, making a fully transparent solar concentrator. This new technology, within the next couple of years, could change the face of solar energy and global business. This new technique could change the windows in any building or the glass face on a mobile device into a solar power harvesting application. 

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In recent years, scientists have noted the impacts of climate change on crops worldwide. As a result of rising temperatures and widespread drought, coffee crops in Vietnam are suffering. In Pakistan, the recent periods of intense rains and hailstorms have reduced the yields of wheat nationwide. Although there are many measures being taken to prevent further climate change, such as major corporations reducing their carbon dioxide output, global economic expansion is exacerbating the effects of climate change and is actually harming some industries.

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Oil prices dipped on Monday due to the rising value of the dollar and the potential for an oversupply of oil. Global conditions and the turmoil in the Middle East caused oil barrel prices to rise, especially due to the gains that Islamic State militants made in Iraq after seizing the provincial capital of Ramadi. In addition, the dollar continued to rise against other major currencies, thus making raw materials less affordable to holders of the euro and other currencies.

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Three-quarters of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power, which is a higher proportion than any other country in the world. In France alone, 220,000 people are hired to work in the energy industry. Because of this, French nuclear companies have been seen as leaders at the forefront of developing and operating uranium fueled reactors around the world. But recently, it was discovered that new power plants intended to showcase the energy industry’s latest technology are now extremely behind schedule and over budget. Problems at one site have raised doubts that it will even be completed.

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Since last year, prices of oil have decreased by over fifty percent and have festered at some of their lowest rates in many years. This has occurred due to several factors, including decreasing global demand for oil and an increasing supply. Lately, however, demand for crude oil is on the rise and overall output has been growing in major oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya. It is yet to be seen if these events will continue as an industry trend for this year, but a potential change in oil prices could certainly occur.

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Compared to figures taken in 2014, the Eurozone’s trade surplus was much wider this January.  According to the EU statistics agency, on March 18, the 19 countries that use the euro had a surplus in their trade with goods with the rest of the world of 7.9 billion euros, or $8.38 billion, which is up 100 euros from January 2014. This widening gap was said to be due to a 6% decline in imports, which likely reflects the drop in oil prices. During this time, experts noted that overall exports increased, but at a very slow rate.

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In the wake of the drastic decline in oil prices since last July, and with the current crude oil prices about half of the 2014 peak, Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced Wednesday that it would buy fellow Oil and Gas Company, BG Group, in a deal amounting to approximately $70 billion. Assuming the deal is completed, this would be the largest energy merger since Exxon and Mobil in 1998, and would create the world’s largest independent producer of liquefied natural gas. The merger comes as an effort to create cost synergies, or eliminate overlapping costs, in order to offset the effect of low oil prices.

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With changing political office, comes changing economic policy. At least, that is what millions of Nigerians are hoping for from newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari. The Nigerian capital market responded positively to the change in leadership, gaining 8.30%, its single biggest daily gain all year. High optimism for the new leader to follow through on his promise to reshape the national economy is sorely needed at this point.

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Last Friday, the United Nations announced that the world may be facing a major shortage of water supplies in about fifteen years. Available water for consumption and other uses may be reduced by 40% as a result of factors such as urbanization, high living standards, heavy industry usage, and booming population growth. The report calls for drastic measures to keep freshwater as a readily available resource for the future, as some regions of the world are already starting to run out of water and aquifers are becoming exploited beyond a sustainable level. This will mean cutting down on heavy water consumption and use, a move which will affect people and industries worldwide.

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On Wednesday, the European Union Commission approved plans to combine the energy markets of its twenty-eight member countries into a unified energy market. The Commission stated that the EU Energy Union would provide many benefits to the countries of the EU, lessening their dependence on energy supplies from foreign countries and boosting their economic power significantly. The ambitious plan is facing some criticism, and has yet to be approved by the European Parliament as well as the EU's member countries, but it certainly has the potential for major influence on European economics.

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This past week, the Obama Administration cleared a plan to override federal regulations on oil drilling off of Alaska's coast in the Arctic Ocean. The proposal is intended to establish drilling standards for the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas, both of which are believed to be abundant in fossil fuels, and follows a growing emphasis in the international system on the Arctic's natural resources. Last January, 1,400 participants from several countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway to stake their claims at the Arctic Frontiers conference. Russia's increasing interest in the region, coupled with its growing military presence throughout international waters, gave the conference unprecedented significance.

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Shortly following the coronation of the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the recently minted monarch quickly assured the global energy community that the kingdom would continue its policy of encouraging top oil exporters to raise their production levels. The king's message directly contradicts with global expectations that the death of King Abdullah might lead to fundamental changes in Saudi Arabia's oil policy, but most analysts now agree that the royal family will resist any sharp changes in policy, especially as it tries to navigate multiple foreign policy challenges in the region.

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Is it possible that the newest form of renewable energy could come from volcanoes? If Iceland becomes more than just an example, but a leader in the energy industry, this new form of geothermal energy will no longer just be conversation. Currently, Iceland’s volcanic geography is contributing geothermal resources that account for nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity. While the world is currently dominated by hydrocarbon economies, taking a lesson from Iceland and tapping into volcanic geothermal sources could open access to a powerful renewable resource for the world.

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In part 3 of our global energy blog series, we discussed which countries could capitalize on the falling oil prices. For the fourth installment of the series, we turn our eyes to some of the environmental issues surrounding the energy industry, specifically the issue of carbon emissions. As climate change fears increase and become more urgent on a global scale, world leaders have been looking for solutions to reduce harmful emissions while avoiding the economic pitfalls that can be associated with taxes or regulation. One solution gaining popularity is carbon markets, which create carbon emission allowances that are given to businesses. These credits can be used or sold depending on the amount of emissions the business produces, giving companies an incentive to reduce their emissions.

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In yesterday’s blog post, we spoke of the how falling oil prices could lead to increased mergers and acquisitions in the private sector. This blog will focus on the public sector and which countries benefit the most from these low energy prices. Commodity pricing is as much an art as it is a science; the fundamentals of supply and demand clarify most of these fluctuations, however they do not properly explain the exaggerated influence prices. The saturated, oversupplied market is now creating volatility for producers, but opportunities exist for speculative nations looking to stabilize or expand their global economic footprint.

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The extremely low oil prices that have characterized the energy industry for the past few months are making waves all around the world. In some countries, low prices have been seen as a benefit; in others, not so much. A major consequence has arisen that will affect all nations regardless of economic status: oil corporation mergers and takeovers. Historically, it has generally been the case that when there are low prices in the energy industry, mergers and acquisitions occur between bigger and smaller firms. Several plants and companies that originally profited immensely off of high oil prices, will now either have to severely change business strategies or be forced to relinquish control to more powerful firms in the industry.

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In this month’s blog series, globalEDGE features the global energy industry. This series will discuss the industry outlook for 2015, the potential for mergers and takeovers, countries that benefit from falling oil prices, global carbon markets, and volcanoes as an energy source. Many analysts hold the belief that oil prices will continue to fall in the first half of 2015, before increasing in the second half of the year. The shale revolution in the United States, Saudi Arabia’s insistence on maintaining its market share, and a weak global economy have all contributed to the lowest oil price per barrel in five and a half years.

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Several new economic developments have occurred in the United States during this last quarter. The recent drop in gas prices, credited to the drop in global oil prices led by OPEC, is one of these noteworthy developments. This has led to increased spending in the U.S, especially in the retail and automotive industries. There have also been significant increases in employment, as well as a strengthening in the value of the dollar. While these all seem like boons to the United States, some of these factors have the potential to not only hurt the U.S. economy, but economies around the world as well. As a result, economists are warning the U.S. to take caution, especially with its fragile economy now leaving the period of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

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Turkmenistan is a small nation with only about 5 million citizens, yet it could be the solution to energy problems affecting hundreds of millions of people. Despite the fact that the Central Asian nation has the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan ranks twelfth in the world in natural gas production. Turkmenistan plans to fill this gap between reserves and production with multiple plans to export its natural gas abroad.

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It has been almost a year since the expiry of the 75-year-old concession of Abu Dhabi with western oil companies. Having been working as service providers and not getting paid in oil this past year, the Western oil companies are among the hopefuls to win the bidding for Abu Dhabi’s new oil concession. These companies are hoping to keep their stakes in the Persian Gulf, which is the one of the few major oil-producing areas that allows international companies to hold direct shares. Now they are worried about losing their stakes because of the rising interest of Asian oil companies in this lucrative oil business.

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Tensions across Europe are escalating as a potential energy crisis is looming in the near future. In June of this year, Russia cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine, citing Ukraine's failure to payback debt. Ukraine has since been receiving gas from Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Hungary, however, suspended the flow of natural gas to Ukraine last Friday, intensifying the energy crisis in Ukraine.  Ukraine is dependent on natural gas to heat homes and to power industry during the rapidly approaching winter months.

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Africa’s second biggest economy is experiencing an energy shortage that is affecting consumers and businesses across the country. Eskom, the state-owned electrical provider, has informed customers that the company cannot keep up with the increasing demand for electricity, and has asked everyone to reduce the amount of energy they use. Recently, these measures have not been enough, forcing Eskom to implement managed electrical blackouts, impacting the 95% of South Africans that rely on Eskom’s service.

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Since the Nordic economies are relatively small and open, exporting constitutes an important part of the economic activities in the Nordic region. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have all had greater exports than imports every year since 1995. As the Nordic countries focus on exporting a few different products, each of them contributes to the growth of the regional Nordic economy and they together form a competitive market in the global economy.

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Much of the talk surrounding biofuels in the past has centered on corn, wheat, soybeans, and sugarcane, which are known as first generation biofuels. These food crops were seen by many as a way to become more energy independent, as they could be processed to create ethanol fuel that in turn could replace our dependence on oil. The excitement of this prospect led many countries, such as the United States, to implement mandates requiring specific amounts of ethanol to be mixed with gasoline. These countries hoped that ethanol could help by lessening the impact of oil prices on the economy and by saving the environment from the increasing use of oil.

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In the first half of 2014, Germany derived 31% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. Compared to the first half of 2013, Germany's production of solar power increased by 28% and its production of wind power increased by 19%. Germany’s use of natural gas fell by 25%, which signals an effort to become less dependent on Russian natural gas.  Over the past few years, Germany has elevated itself to the status of one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy production, especially in wind and solar power.  Germany aims to continue its production of renewable energy and also its innovation of new sources of renewable energy.

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Within the past week, the Congress of Mexico has approved new legislation that will allow the country's energy industry to award contracts to private oil companies. As a result of these new reforms, not only will the state-owned oil giant Pemex lose its monopoly over the country's oil sector that it's held since 1938, but foreign oil firms will also be able to enter the lucrative Mexican oil market.

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In India, electricity is not a commodity that is taken for granted by consumers. Power is so valuable to Indian citizens that inspectors from electricity companies have been brutally attacked so that they would not have to pay power bills. In addition to these attacks, some have even tampered with meters to lower readings just to dodge payments. The problem is so prevalent in India that Bloomberg estimates an annual loss of $17 billion in revenue due to electricity theft alone.

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On Monday, June 2nd, the Obama administration announced through the EPA that new rules have been put into effect to reduce carbon pollution by coal and power plants by 30% by 2030. This is a historic occasion, as it marks the first time that the United States government has acted to try and regulate power plant emissions. The new rules have been met with high praise by many environmental groups and activists. However, debate has sparked over the potential economic impact of these rules. While concerns have been voiced over the effects on the coal and energy industries, many economists are also claiming these rules will lead to an overall positive outcome for the U.S. and the world. Here is a closer look.

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After 10 years of negotiations, Russia and China have finally reached a natural gas deal.  The 30-year agreement worth an estimated $400 billion will supply China with Russian natural gas, beginning in 2018.  China will make advance payments amounting to as much as $25 billion to Russia to develop the necessary infrastructure to effectively supply the gas.  With this deal signed, Russia may be in a better position to negotiate with the United States and European Union over imposed sanctions for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

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In the face of major economic sanctions from many countries around the world, especially the United States and other Western nations, Russia has been actively looking to avoid economic isolation. As a result of this, it has turned to many large nations in the East to set up economic agreements. One country that is willing to open its doors is China. After over ten years of talks on the subject, Russia and China are finally coming close to signing what has been called a "Holy Grail" for Russia and especially Moscow; a deal where Russia will send natural gas to China.

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Mitigating climate change and the shortage of natural resources require rapid and widespread development of renewable energy. As the demand for renewable energy has increased largely in the past 10 years, the number of renewable energy trade disputes is also rising. A number of countries have found that their feed-in-tariff (FIT) programs are at odds with the fair trade agreements in the international trade of renewable energy. Therefore, this post will introduce the impacts of trade barriers on the international trade of renewable energy.

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In recent findings, scientists have discovered how to turn a stream of algae into bio-crude oil, a  possible game changer for the role oil plays in global business and global dependencies. The high-tech pressure cooker that reaches temperatures around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch, is licensed by a Utah-based biofuel company Genifuel, who are now working with industrial partners to build a pilot plant.

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International relations are extremely important for developing countries. Without support from abroad, funding infrastructure projects and economic development would be nearly impossible. This is exactly the case in Zimbabwe where government officials have turned to China for help. Recently, China has lent Zimbabwe $319 million to ease electricity shortages by expanding its Kariba hydropower station. Although this project will take an estimated four years to complete, it can have dramatic effects on the development of Zimbabwe and international relations in Africa.

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Within the next two decades, Brazil is expected to triple oil production and move from the 12th top oil producer to the 6th according to the 2013 World Energy Outlook Report generated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The predicted success of Brazil’s energy industry can be attributed to the auctioning of the Libra oil field which holds 8 to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil. With a supply of oil this substantial, the world’s crude oil demand could be fulfilled for up to 9 weeks alone by Libra.

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Over the last 30 years, Russia has been the only gas supplier to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. As the gas price and demand has dramatically increased in the Baltic States, the European Union (EU) is has made plans to subsidize a regional liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Baltic States. These plans are designed to decrease the Baltic countries' energy dependence on Russia and to meet the continually increasing gas demand. However, two issues aroused along with the project: where to build the LNG terminal and how to ease the relationship with Russia.

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Within the European Union (EU), Poland stands as the union's coal-producing giant. Although the country suffered declining production rates during the global financial crisis, Poland's coal-mining sector has shown signs of recovery. More than 88 percent of Poland's electrical needs come from coal, and the mines at Belchatow are more than eight-and-a-half miles long, two miles wide, and have been measured to be the largest carbon emitter in Europe. Poland's coal industry produces 77 million tons of coal per year, making it the world's 10th largest coal producer. Due to the importance of Poland's coal mining industry, the Polish government has been increasingly active in blocking aggressive regulations by the EU to limit climate change.

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Usually unrest in the Middle East translates into booming gas prices for American drivers, but so far the Syrian conflict has had little to no effect on US gas prices.  Slight increases, as of late, in average gas prices nationwide have been attributed to Labor Day weekend and its tendency to induce higher prices at the gas pump.  An increase in the number of fuel efficient cars on the road and a push for sustainable oil consumption are all contributing factors that have kept gas prices in check.

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Harnessing the energy in shale has created a boom in the markets with enough momentum to alter the global energy industry altogether.  The controversial drilling technique involves fracturing shale formations using water, sand, and other (undisclosed) chemicals to access natural gas.  Entrepreneurial potential coupled with technological innovations from both the public- and private-sectors attract investment to either resource rich regions or competitive hedging projects for returns.

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Germany’s decision to slowly close its many nuclear power plants over the next decade was met with much support. Consequently, new plans for renewable energy sources started to accumulate, with the grandest, most expensive plan proceeding in the North Sea.  Germany’s ambitious plan is entitled Energiewende, or energy transition. This state-backed plan seeks to build fourteen gigawatts of wind turbines off the coast of the North Sea by the year 2023. These turbines alone will provide for roughly one tenth of the country’s energy needs.  The elaborate plan has met many issues, both financial and political, though. Will the turbines come to fruition in spite of its obstacles, or will this become just a giant waste of taxpayer money?

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The international trade of consumer products is a regular occurrence and nearly everyone in the world is aware of its role in the global economy. However, how many people are cognizant of the fact that cities use imported garbage from neighboring countries and turn this waste into energy? I am guessing that not many people have heard of this phenomenon. This is exactly what is happening in the city of Oslo, located in southern Norway.

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International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Tuesday that the shale oil recently found in the United States will help meet most of the world's oil demand in the next five years. It is significant to the world market as well as to the U.S. itself because it eliminates the threat of future energy shortage and reshapes the U.S energy market and its relationship with other countries.

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Until now, China has never shown much interest in Middle Eastern investment. If it is able to establish a relationship with the Middle East, it can take advantage of arguably one of the most volatile areas in the world. In an area where westerners have long feared to go, China seems very interested in the diplomacy, economics, soft power and security. Upon helping in the war in the Middle East, China has begun to fully immerse themselves in the Middle East in an effort to increase their involvement in the area.

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The World Trade Organization is investigating an Indian governmental program that requires solar energy producers to use Indian manufactured solar cells instead of imported products. Several U.S. environmental groups are pressing the WTO to not pursue action against India, saying that ending the program would threaten the ability of India to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The irony is that India’s green energy industry would be harmed if no action were to be taken, a blow to the environmentalists goal of increasing alternative energy use throughout the globe.

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While Cyprus is experiencing economic woes and Turkey is finding its way out of a huge European debt crisis, the energy relationship between Cyprus and Turkey regarding gas and oil is causing stress for both countries. On Wednesday, Turkey announced the suspension of energy projects with Italian giant ENI because the company expanded the exploration for oil and gas to Cyprus. ENI’s decision on the project expansion in Cyprus has created hope of economic recovery Cyprus but it infuriated Turkey since the project would cut down the energy plan in Turkey.

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The shale-gas industry is flourishing in the United States and West African crude oil exporters are being negatively impacted.  Because of the “U.S. shale-gas revolution”, crude oil exports from Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria to the United States have fallen by over 40%.  Thus far, this has led to a decrease in overall crude oil exports from these three countries; however, the increase in supply of sweet crude oil has led existing buyers to increase their purchases and allowed new buyers to enter the market.

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What seemed unthinkable just a half decade ago is now reality. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest fuel producer. Crude output in the U.S. has hit a 20 year high and has produced the most fuel in the world for the first time since 2002. The United States is producing 11.65 million barrels of liquid fuel a day (which includes crude, refined petroleum products, and biofuels) surpassing the Saudi Arabian output of 11.25 million barrels a day.

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Germany’s economy holds a critical significance in the European Union, especially in regards to the ongoing debt crisis. Its industrialized economy has held steady despite a slump in the global economy. It might be surprising to hear that Germany, one of the most industrialized countries in the world, is undertaking an energy revolution that will dramatically transform its economy’s energy sector. The newly re-engineered economy will no longer receive its energy from nuclear powered stations as all nuclear power plants in Germany are being closed down. Renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, will instead fill Germany’s energy gap. Will this move jeopardize Germany’s economy and how does this energy revolution affect Germany’s relationship with other countries?

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The way in which shipping is conducted can have huge implications for consumers and businesses around the world.   As talks of sustainability and green energy continue to dominate the energy sector, businesses are looking for ways to make shipping less harmful to the environment.  Hence, some companies have begun to ship their goods via sailing ships that use the wind as the source of energy. The organic and eco-friendly sector has jumped on this idea because the maritime industry is said to currently produce 3-5% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

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In a move that always stirs controversy and can enflame international relations President Evo Morales, of Bolivia, has moved to nationalize the energy sector by overtaking the largely Spanish owned company, Electropaz. President Morales has accused the Iberdrola, the company based in Spain that owns the majority of Electropaz, of charging artificially high prices to residents in rural areas of the country. Morales argues that under the constitution this move is permissible by acting in the public’s interest.

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For the most part, Africa struggles to develop large amounts of energy, and Ghana is striving to change this. Apart from the northern and southern parts of the continent, Africa has no major energy sources and no efforts have really been made to fix the problem. Blue Energy, a British renewable energy investment firm officially verified plans to build Africa’s largest solar panel installation. It will be a one hundred fifty five megawatt photovoltaic plant, and construction will be located in Aiwaiso, Ghana. Officials are hoping that this is the start of a revolution for renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa, and it will show whether or not governments can unlock the large potential that Africa holds for solar energy.

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Lately, Iran has been under a lot of international fire because of its nuclear program and its questionable intent.  Iran claims that the goal of its nuclear program is to generate an alternative energy source, but American and European officials believe that Iran has plans to build nuclear weapons.  As a result, the United States and Europe have put sanctions on Iran’s oil and natural gas exports because they believe that this large source of revenue could be financing Iran’s nuclear program.  Sanctions, however, have not been applied to Iran’s renewable energy program, which happens to be the largest in the Middle East.  Iran is developing renewable energy sources to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels and in part to escape the sanctions that have been placed on its oil and natural gas industries.

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In today’s world, energy is always in demand and this has led many companies in the energy sector to focus on new renewable forms of energy. Lately renewable energy, specifically solar, has experienced a multitude of issues that threaten many of the companies that specialize in solar power. From the high profile collapse of Solyndra to the free fall of prices around the world, many are left wondering what the future holds for this burgeoning industry.

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Over a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the future of nuclear energy in Japan is in jeopardy.  On March 11, 2011 an earthquake off the Eastern coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people, devastated many towns along the Eastern coast, and severely damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.  The damage to the reactors led to a significant release of radioactive chemicals, and a mass evacuation of the surrounding area was conducted.  Now, Japan is intent on cutting back and possibly even eliminating nuclear power productions, and the economic repercussions of such a transition are coming to fruition.

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As the international community continues to strive towards clean, renewable energy, South Korea has turned towards an abundant resource to power the future: the powerful waves of the Yellow Sea. Marine experts from Orkney, Scotland have recently agreed to advise South Korean engineers during the construction of a new tidal testing center in the northwestern Incheon Metropolitan City. The European Marine Energy Centre, or EMEC, has been operating in Scotland since 2003, where it has been developing technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams. Although the turbulent waves of the Yellow Sea have been noted as "very tough to work in," and EMEC spokeman has said that the waters offer some of the world's most tidal conditions, therefore making it a superb resource.

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With booming agricultural and mining industries, Latin America has seen economic and human development increase exponentially in the past decade.  While human capital and resources attracted foreign investors for a past few years, lately it has been the plentiful sunshine that catches the eyes of many venture capitalists.

Chile in particular has caught the “green” bug.  While imported fossil fuel accounts for more than 60% of the county’s electricity production, hydroelectric and solar power plants are in high demand by the Chilean government.  With the cost of solar power technology falling, Chile’s quest for affordable renewable energy is not too difficult to obtain.  A trade deal with the world’s leading solar power technology manufacturer, China, is in the works.

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Over the years, clean energy sources have become extremely popular as countries and governments around the world try to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions. One of these clean energy sources is solar power which converts sunlight directly into electricity. Solar power has been used as a major energy source for many applications such as providing electricity for residential homes and industrial equipment. Recently, solar power has been applied to many new projects. One of which is shipping and if successful, solar powered shipping can have large impacts on the environment as well as international trade.

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It appears that Saudi Arabia is attempting to become more open to foreign direct investment. Currently they are a large exporter of oil. Saudi Arabia exports about 9 million barrels per day of oil. Since oil prices are high this has benefited Saudi Arabia, but they are attempting to plan for a less oil dependent society in the future. In order to do this, they will need to diversify the types of businesses in operation in the country and work more with foreign investors.

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In an attempt to decrease its carbon footprint, China is asking its energy-intensive industries to reduce their energy consumption by a greater percentage than previously mandated.  These efforts by China are also a result of growing domestic and international pressure to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels.  Last year, China’s industries fell short of the government’s goals for lowering energy intensity and pollutant emissions, but the government is optimistic about firms meeting this year’s targets due to new and improved policies and controls.

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With concerns of a changing global climate, many countries around the world are looking for efficient energy sources designed to lower carbon emissions and combat global warming. One well-known energy project is harnessing the power of the wind with turbines to produce electricity. While many wind farms are built on land, offshore wind turbines are expected to grow rapidly as these climates are filled with constant driving winds. These offshore wind turbines hold great potential for the future of energy and new technology is changing the way wind farms operate.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo has faced years of harsh wars leaving the country deeply stricken by poverty, but now the country moves forward and has its eyes on recovery. A large scale plan to build a hydropower dam capable of producing enough electricity for the entire country has kept hopes high in Congo. If constructed the Inga Three dam in Congo would be Africa’s largest hydropower dam and would produce twice as much electricity as the major Three Gorges dam in China. The country’s multitude of rivers offer enormous potential for hydropower but Congo faces many difficulties if it wants to accomplish its energy goals.

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Recently, Novozymes, a company that makes enzymes used to make goods such as household detergents and soft drinks, announced that it has developed an enzyme that will make it possible to derive cellulosic ethanol from waste material like household trash or corn husks.  This company has discovered something that has been sought after by many clean energy producers- a way to inexpensively convert biowaste into fuel.  Novozymes officially announced its new enzyme, Cellic CTec3, February 22, 2012, and already has deals in place to begin supplying it.

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Natural gas is a relatively obscure energy source compared to its more popular companion oil. Most people rarely think about it - it heats their house and if there is a particularly cold winter, their heating bill tends to rise. Thought process done. However, natural gas has started to become more mainstream as pricing patterns around the globe and new technologies are awakening the industry.

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While many countries depend on each other for the trade of goods and services, few would think countries could depend on each other for one of the most important resources on Earth—energy. A proposed electricity supergrid spanning across several European countries could mean not only improved power sources but also cleaner energy. Advocates of this energy plan suggest that a transnational supergrid could connect power sources like wind farms in Scotland and solar arrays in Spain to the many population centers scattered throughout Europe. The need for an expanded and upgraded power network in Europe is clear. However, the political, regulatory, and economic obstacles are formidable and will be tough to overcome.

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The European Union has been one of the most devoted players in the attempts to combat global climate change and reduce carbon emissions. The long-term energy plans proposed by the European Union depend largely on high technology projects designed to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground. This would help abate global warming while also allowing industries to continue to burn large amounts of fossil fuels. However, weak support for the experimental carbon capturing technology has held the European Union back from reaching its energy goals.

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Solar power has been a hot topic all over the globe. Many countries have made commitments to use solar panels to clean up energy sources. Still, it does not seem that all of the hype has lead to much production. Many countries have begun these initiatives to "green up" their energy, and now it seems that a reduction in solar panel prices might begin to press the issue.

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The world of sports is closely intertwined with the world of business.  Sports franchises and leagues function to create an economically-viable product for profit.  Businesses in many industries utilize sports entertainment for its unmatched marketing opportunities.  Global athletic events bring tourism, trade, and international attention to host cities and countries.  Businesses could not function without sports and sports could not function without business.  This week, the globalEDGE blog will take a closer look at business and economic impacts of sports around the world. 

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While many countries look to drive their economies by increasing trade and consumer spending, South Korea is looking in another direction. Renewable energy sources and projects are being used to boost business and promote economic growth in South Korea. The term “Green Growth” has been coined by the country and has become a major national strategy. This strategy has given rise to a vast range of policies regarding waste-management and air-quality control. However, South Korea’s main focus lies within renewable energy technologies with the mission not only to lower greenhouse gas emissions but to also boost the economy.

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Skiing in Barcelona probably sounds like an oxymoron to most people. With its warm climate and lack of snow, Barcelona is not normally on avid skiers’ top lists of destinations, but that all could soon change once an indoor skiing facility is built in Barcelona.

The concept of an indoor skiing facility may be foreign to some, but there are actually a lot of facilities like this that already exist. There are several in Europe – mostly in areas with cooler climates, some in Asia, and others scattered across the world. The indoor skiing facility in Dubai is the most relevant to Barcelona because it is also in a very warm climate. The facility has had to take extra care by making walls several feet deep and heavily insulated to keep the inside cold enough for ideal skiing conditions, exactly what the facility in Barcelona will need to emulate.

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Over a decade of recurrent high energy prices has prompted Kenya to look beyond traditional energy sources.  The traditional energy supply line in Kenya is unstable and has been for many years, which has caused consistently high prices that will unlikely subside.  Green energy firms are emerging and have been largely successful thus far because of the increasing demand for alternative energy sources.

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As the earth’s conventional oil supply continues to diminish, the discovery of new fuel types is becoming as important as ever.  The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has recently released a statement stating that global tight oil reserves could produce as many as 300 billion barrels.  Tight oil is another name for shale oil, which is a form of light crude oil found in shale deep below the earth’s surface.  Although it will most likely be a decade before big supplies of tight oil are produced, the future production could rival the conventional oil production in Saudi Arabia.

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Last month’s blog series introduced readers to cloud computing, as well as digging deeper into numerous characteristics of the cloud. A particularly interesting aspect of cloud computing is the risks and benefits to the global environment. With the explosive growth of cloud computing in recent years, this is quickly becoming a very heated debate.

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Since the Industrial Revolution coal has been one of the most important energy commodities for countries and industries across the world. However, this is beginning to change as many businesses search for cleaner energy sources. With new drilling techniques, lower prices, and a large domestic supply in the United States, natural gas is becoming a very popular energy commodity. This energy switch from coal to natural gas is often viewed as beneficial for the environment but there has been some doubt regarding this belief.

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There have been massive efforts recently to improve the quality of China’s polluted air by blending low-polluting imported coal with dirtier-burning domestic coal. Experts argue that while this will positively effect the air quality in the near-term, it might contribute to faster global warming in the long-term.

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A new report by KPMG is claiming that the clean technology sector is a strong force in the economy of several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia. The report says that clean tech firms will directly generate over $2.5 billion for the economy in 2011, not including other economic benefits created by these companies. This is a 57% increase from 2008. The growth is not expected to slow either; KPMG has stated that the sector will grow 16.5% to 8,400 employees in 2011.

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Three months after Japan’s largest earthquake, a major nuclear reactor disaster seems to have been avoided. However, major doubts surrounding nuclear energy as a safe power source remain in countries around the world. If these doubts linger, the energy industry can be changed dramatically with this significant loss of faith in nuclear energy. Alternative energy sources must be able to replace nuclear energy and many countries will have to develop efficient and sustainable infrastructures to support this energy change.

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In 2007, former president Oscar Arias announced Costa Rica’s goal to become the first developing country to go carbon-neutral in 14 years. At the time, that goal seemed to be very unlikely for such a small country with financial difficulties. However, over the past years Costa Rica has made significant strides in accomplishing their energy goal and has become one of the leading countries in environmental sustainability.

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In a recent Forbes article, they highlighted the top 10 green companies in the world. These companies have all in some way contributed a global environmental management system by reducing emissions, adjusting their manufacturing process, becoming environmentally certified and doing the best to adjust their performance records into a more positive light.

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Everyone sees the recycling label, the organic food label, and sometimes something similar to the Rainforest Alliance label on their food and home products. These let us know what the product stands for and where it came from. Now a new label may be appearing on many of your household products, the WindMade label.

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When you think of a major international business hub, densely populated metropolitan areas such as London, Tokyo, and New York City come to mind. They are home to many multinational corporations’ headquarters and countless commercial offices; business never seems to cease in these cities. The relentless rise of electricity prices and a growing demand for high-quality power could drastically change the geography of these international business hubs in the next decade.

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As the demand for energy is expected to grow by double digits in the upcoming decades, the search for the right energy source to fulfill this demand has begun. The serious problems at the Japanese nuclear power plant have raised major concerns about the safety of nuclear energy and new exploration for oil has yet to resume in the Gulf of Mexico after last year’s massive oil spill. Coal has had similar bad luck as coal plants have been used more cautiously due to their contribution to global warming. With these three energy sources ruled out, natural gas is looking like a top candidate to fulfill future energy demands.

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Oil is quite possibly the single most important commodity in the modern world economy.  Those countries with abundant sources of the valuable substance are in a strong position to trade with producers around the world who cannot do business without it.  CNBC has put together a list of the top fifteen countries in terms of confirmed oil reserves.  The ramifications of this list are much greater than they may initially seem. 

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As the world’s population continues to grow and the problem of poverty remains, it is clear that we must continue to develop the world economy. However, many believe that this economic growth should not come at the cost of the environment that supports our lives. Recently, the United Nations released a report that estimated the cost of changing the world from an unsustainable economy to one that is both resource efficient and environmentally friendly.

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During the cold winter months, businesses use an enormous amount of energy to heat their working facilities. With soaring energy prices around the globe, businesses are looking for ways to save energy to reduce these high energy costs. A company in Sweden has found an exceptional way to do just this. Sweden’s creative approach to heating might just surprise you.

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With China’s push for rapid economic development, it’s no surprise that China consumes more energy than any other country in the world. As China dominates the global energy market, it also is the single biggest force in causing oil prices and carbon emissions to increase. However at the same time, the International Energy Agency claims China to be the most influential country in the development of renewable energy. China is looking to lower the costs of oil and reduce carbon emissions linked to negative climate change by improving the progress of green energy. This developmental process of increasing the supply of energy in China will affect almost every country in the world.

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It can be done! Creating jobs back home while increasing sales overseas is possible and United Solar Ovonic has proved it. United Solar Ovonic is a Michigan based company that creates and exports solar panels and has recently begun a joint venture with United Solar Ovonic Jinneng in China. They develop lightweight, flexible solar panels. They are great, not to mention green, energy producers so it’s no wonder that this business has been booming.

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After panic spread last year as the price of Sugar rose due to poor weather conditions in Brazil and India, things look hopeful as prices become more stable.  Sugar production is seasonal and is heavily affected by weather conditions.  Last year India struggled to produce sugar due to a long drought after the Asian Monsoon.  While India was waiting for water, Brazil struggled to keep the water away as it had heavy rains which created waterlogged crops. 

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Two developing countries are taking a turn to produce more oil and gain a bigger stake in the oil industry.  Both Columbia and Venezuela hope to double oil production in upcoming years. Columbia hopes to reach 1.2 million barrels a day by the end of 2012 and Venezuela plans to increase oil production from the current 3 million barrels per day to 6 million barrels by 2016.  If these numbers hold true it looks like both countries will become imperative to the oil industry.

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What do Michigan and China have in common?  They are both involved in the production of a triple junction amorphous crystalline solar cell. In layman’s terms, solar energy.  These roof-mounted solar cells will generate much more electricity than silicon because of it is lightweight and flexible structure which holds up more efficiently in real-world conditions.

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Poultry farmers all over the globe are running into serious problems with the waste from chickens, which is real trouble when it gets into the water supply. Years back John Logan, a farmer from Prentiss, Mississippi, noticed the same problem. In an interview with NPR radio he recalled, "I said, 'I got to do something.' I can't be putting this on the ground. Now, I have a river right here. What's to happen when that phosphorus overload washes into the river, which then ends up in the Gulf of Mexico?"

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Is “off-grid” the new “on-grid”?  Bloom Energy thinks so. The company is a start-up based in Silicon Valley, California and it claims to have found a solution to both reducing harmful byproducts and providing energy at lower costs than the current average market rate.  Their compact power plants are run on everyday elements such as oxygen and can be as small as a lunchbox.

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Until recently China was the world’s largest exporter of coal. While it is still the largest producer, a new exporter has come on to the map. Indonesia recently surpassed China in the market for exporting coal. Many Chinese power stations are even importing coal from Indonesia rather than obtaining it from within its own borders.

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This week, multiple oil companies are battling for control over Iraq’s 15 fields, located in Baghdad. These fields contain at least 41.121 billion barrels of oil. This is the biggest cut of Iraq's existing oil assets of 115 billion barrels in decades! A total of 44 companies, which include Exxon Mobile Corp, Chevron, and Britain’s BP Group PLC, will be placing their auction bids this week. After all, how could they pass this up?

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Going green has become a global event. Billions of dollars are spent every year to improve our environment, better businesses, and to improve customer service. In 2010, the amount of global investments in alternative energy projects will increase from $130 billion to nearly $200 billion! Too bad it isn’t cheaper to be eco-friendly!  Even so, multiple projects are being funded and new technologies are being introduced on a day to day basis. These technologies include clean coal, wind turbines, solar, and hydroelectric, just to name a few.

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On December 3, 1984, the lives of 15,000 people in Bhopal, India, ended unexpectedly with a catastrophic chemical plant accident.  On March 24, 1989, an oil barge, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground and created one of the worlds largest ecological disasters.  Events like these are cemented into history because they have marked important turning points for enhanced levels of corporate social responsibility and their impact on the environment.  On this topic we’ll approach the subject from two different vantage points:

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“Sustainable Development” has quickly become a term used by companies across the world to explain efforts addressing the use of natural resources.  Generally speaking, the concept describes how a company can increase its efficiency, thereby reducing its overall impact on mother earth.  The demand in the marketplace to solve energy-related issues is growing, based on recent changes in global governmental policy.

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Much of Europe is heavily-reliant on Russian pipeline gas to satisfy its energy needs-- However, this could change fairly soon. Oil companies and private investors are carefully weighing the initiatives which may be set forth following the 2009 Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum. The Black Sea is home to a wealth of unconventional oil and gas resources which could possibly rival Russia in the sheer volume of output and usage.

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With raw sugar prices soaring to a high of 24 cents per pound and the possibility of rising to 30 cents per pound, Brazil, the largest sugar-cane growing area in the world, has a few options. Brazilian factories can either continue producing ethanol, which is used for more than 90% of new cars in Brazil, or they can produce sugar, which can be sold 40% above cost.

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India's younger population is growing quickly, and with that comes a greater demand for energy. Despite an ambitious rural energy program, 400 million people still live without access to elecricity. Approximately one-third of the world's urban residents live in slums. In the city of Mumbai, about half of it's residents (roughly 8 million people) live in these slums. Access to electricity can raise the quality of life dramatically, where now it is hard to do simple tasks such as reading and cooking. Many families must choose between putting food on the table or keeping the electricity running. The desperation resulting from this situation has led to a major problem of people stealing the energy.

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Gas prices have been fluctuating in the past few weeks without following a certain trend. The volatility is minimal however, when compared to last summer's record-setting high prices. Many people started using public transportation more often, or buying more fuel efficient cars. Others looked toward hybrids. This increased the pressure on car companies to produce zero-emission vehicles at an affordable price. Nissan was one of the companies to rise to the challenge. Spokespeople for Nissan express confidence when saying that their new electric car will sell exceptionally well because it is what the consumer wants.

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To many nations, having numerous fields of wind turbines seems like a far-off green dream. Denmark, however, has made it into a reality. The Danes are now essentially energy independent, and wind power plays a major role. In 2007, wind power provided nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity production and 24 percent of its capacity; proportions nearly double that of the next highest country. The Danish company Vestas has emerged as the top manufacturer in the world of these wind turbines, which are in high demand. Executive Erik Therkelsen says, "If we can make a turbine, it's sold." So what does this mean for the energy industry?

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Last week in Amsterdam, the first of 1,200 households installed energy-saving systems aimed at cutting their electricity costs. Additionally, Dutch banks ING and Rabobank provided access to financing for the purchase of energy-saving light bulbs and efficient roof insulation. Actions like these are the beginning of a concerted effort to make Amsterdam’s infrastructure smarter, greener, and more eco-friendly.

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The University of Pennsylvania produces a great publication called Knowledge at Wharton, which provides in-depth analysis of current business topics. They recently came out with a 17-page Special Report on the affects of the oil bust on Middle Eastern economies. It covers several topics ranging from the region’s Sovereign Wealth Funds, to women’s rights, to business transparency.

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President Bush achieved one of his top legislative priorities Wednesday, but the magnitude of the occasion may have been obscured by other news. What I’m referring to, of course, is the US-India civilian nuclear agreement.

The nuclear deal is the culmination of an initial joint statement between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was signed in 2006. For the past two years President Bush and Prime Minister Singh have trudged through domestic opposition, international hurdles, and legal bureaucracy to produce a finalized agreement. The pact allows full nuclear cooperation between the United States and India, as well as opening up the Indian market to US nuclear technology suppliers. The necessity of the seal of approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group also makes it a de facto recognition of India’s status as a legitimate nuclear power, despite their abstinence from the NPT.

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Although the current state of affairs seems predisposed in dealing with the global banking and equities crisis, another crisis has the potential to dominate our lives much more in the long-term - energy. The supply of fossil fuels will not last forever, and so the race for finding viable replacements to gas, oil, and coal before these become unaffordable to the average person is on.

The heart of business has been and always will be innovation. Therefore, it’s not hard to believe that numerous business schools have begun taking the lead in planning for a post-oil world. According to an article on CNN, this is going to become an increasing trend.  Institutions such as Judge Business School at Cambridge University are committed to the movement away from dependence on fossil fuels. Judge recently held a three-day pioneering conference called Entrepreneurship for a Zero Carbon Society, which brought together the best minds in ecological entrepreneurship to share both ideas as well as business cards.