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Why Kobane matters; Ukraine braces for cold; Nobel-worthy light [Recharge]

If the Islamic State wins the fight for Kobane, it will expand its access to the black markets it needs to smuggle oil. The US and other Western partners are in Ukraine helping the country prepare for a winter without Russian gas. The inventors of efficient LEDs take home a major prize. Catch up on the latest in global energy with Recharge.  

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    A general view shows the Kobane and Mursitpinar border crossing from the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province Thursday.
    Umit Bektas/Reuters/File
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From Islamic State oil smuggling to Ukraine gas talks to climate change, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each Saturday. Subscribe for free.

KobaneUS airstrikes on Islamic State oil production have curbed the terrorist group's ability to finance its operations. Turkey has made some effort to crack down on the smuggling of those products aross its border (though the US wishes Ankara would do more). But if IS permanently seizes Kobane, it will gain a foothold on Turkey's border, expanding access to the black markets it needs to sell its illegal crude.

Alternative energyWestern energy specialists are in Ukraine promoting fuel swaps as the country prepares for a winter without Russian gas. There's hope the EU, Russia, and Ukraine can close a temporary deal to open the spigot. Even if they do, "there's been such extensive damage to the infrastructure that it will still be difficult to deliver ... energy services well," says US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Nobel: LEDs are already dramatically cutting lighting energy use in homes and businesses across developed nations. But the real impact of this Nobel-winning technology comes in bringing brighter, cleaner light to 1.4 billion people who lack electricity worldwide. Some efficiency gains will be offset by increased electricity use, but, still, solar LEDs beat kerosene lamps on every measure.

In the pipeline

Drill deeper

The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever
[The New York Times Magazine]
In 2013, oil companies in Louisiana were sued for failing to restore the coastline after drilling. If the lawsuit is successful, damages paid by oil companies would finance a multibillion-dollar plan to save the sinking coast. But the clock is ticking: Lousiana loses a Manhattan-sized chunk of land to the Gulf of Mexico every 18 months.

What's driving the US solar power boom? A bit of creative financing. [Vox]
"We found that a lot of our customers wanted to own panels instead of just leasing," SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive tells Vox. "There's an important emotional attachment to owning. And then the other benefit is that, when you sell your home, you can include the system into the price of your home, because it's your system."

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Keystone Be Darned: Canada Finds Oil Route Around Obama[Bloomberg]
Is there a new Keystone XL in town? The $10.7 billion Energy East pipeline would carry Alberta oil sands from Canada's heartland to its Atlantic coast, covering twice as much ground as Keystone XL and carrying a third more oil. By sidestepping the US, the pipeline would also bypass the political drama that has delayed Keystone approval for years.

Energy sources

  • OIES: "Kenya’s role as a regional hub for East African crude oil and petroleum products may be more significant than its potential position as an oil and gas producer."
  • European Commission: "After the Commission's intervention, the UK measures in favour of Hinkley Point nuclear power station have been significantly modified, limiting any distortions of competition in the Single Market. These modifications will also achieve significant savings for UK taxpayers."
  • Nobel Committee: "Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps."

From Islamic State oil smuggling to Ukraine gas talks to climate change, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each Saturday. Subscribe for free.

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