Even if you don’t fully understand what the “smart grid” is, no doubt you have heard the term. It could be argued that the smart grid is the result of a technological evolution within the electricity supply chain, where reliability and quality have been improved by the adoption of modern technology, particularly communications technology. But there are a few game-changing concepts that take this evolution idea to another level. One such concept is that of the microgrid.

Chile, Mexico and Brazil are turning to renewable energy to build a more sustainable future. But the policies that support renewable energy must themselves be sustainable. 

Chile needs power – its electricity consumption is forecasted to grow at a rate of 7 percent through 2020. But the country is a net importer of electricity and does not have the native facilities to meet this demand. 

To close the gap, Chile, like other Latin American countries, is looking to its vast and largely untapped renewable resources. Chile is home to several solar-rich regions, including part of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world with some of the world’s best solar radiation. 

The frequency of spills has steadily escalated over the past decades, increasing from 2,900 barrels of oil and other toxic chemicals spilled in 1980 to more than 4,400 barrels in 1990. In the United States alone, during the first five months of 2013, three major spills were documented. 

As demand for energy grows, oil production is projected to increase worldwide. With rich deposits throughout the region, Latin America holds 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The region, already a leading oil producer, is expected to add about 7.5 billion barrels a day, doubling current outputs between now and 2025.   

In fall 2012, construction began on Panda Power Funds’ Temple I Power Project located in the Synergy Industrial Park in Temple, Texas. When the power station comes online in 2014, it will spread across 250 acres, boast a gross installed electrical capacity of 758 megawatts, and be able to supply the power needs of approximately 750,000 homes in the Central and North Texas regions.

It also will be among the cleanest natural gas-fueled plants in the United States, with carbon monoxide emissions of less than 10 parts-per-million (ppm), and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions less than 2 ppm. Panda Power estimates that 400 to 500 personnel will be employed at the plant at peak construction. According to an economic impact analysis conducted by Impact Data Source of Austin, Texas, the construction and ongoing operation of the plant will infuse more than $505 million into the area’s economy over the next 10 years.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will soon have its second opportunity to weigh in on the attempt by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to spread the costs of high-voltage transmission facilities across the regional market administered by PJM Interconnection LLC (PJM). The court’s ruling will have implications for the manner in which the costs of transmission facilities are allocated in the future, not only in PJM, but throughout the country.

South America’s role and importance in the global oil and gas puzzle is quickly changing – and the region is once again attracting considerable global attention.

Whether the interest lies on the burgeoning Brazilian pre-salt fields, the large and unexplored expanses of Colombia, new bid rounds in Ecuador and Peru, non-conventional potential in Argentina or Venezuela’s vast reserves, the region can certainly claim to be vital to global supplies in the years to come.

While most jurisdictions within Latin America and the Caribbean – with the exception of Brazil and Costa Rica – have based their electric generation asset portfolio around fossil fuels, renewable energy technologies are now changing the energy landscape throughout the region.

Wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power plant developers have begun focusing their efforts on transforming Latin America and the Caribbean into more eco-friendly power generators. In turn, the governments in the region have modified their electric utility regulatory frameworks to accommodate the introduction of renewable energy into their electric distribution systems.

The oil and gas industry is constantly evolving to incorporate new technologies and maximize efficiencies. Nowhere is this more evident than in the advances being made in plant and pipeline security measures.

While plant, treatment, storage and distribution portals have always needed security coverage, in the past few years, the most significant security trend impacting the Canadian oil and gas industry has been temporary and permanent solutions for issues impacting key points across the entire distribution network. The security protection involves not just detection of potential damage or security breaches but infrastructure monitoring, such as pump-jack heads using either dedicated microwave links or using the more expansive GSM Network. In addition, the use of remote monitoring cameras has helped to significantly reduce the high cost of manual inspections that have typically dominated the way equipment was monitored in the past. Site operators continue to look for new ways to enhance perimeter detection either through traditional or video analytical detection.

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