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This week sees Siemens open the Crystal, which is claimed to house the world’s largest exhibition space dedicated to sustainable urban development.

Located at Royal Victoria Docks, London the £30m facility is expected to bring a host of stake holders together under one roof to develop concepts for the future of cities and their infrastructures.

A showcase for sustainable design and construction, Siemens inform us that the building uses solar power, ground source heat pumps and LED lighting, and can operate free of fossil fuels.

In use, the Crystal will act as a conference centre, ‘urban dialogue platform’ (Siemens’ words, not ours) and technology and innovation centre.

In a related development, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently unveiled a new laboratory designed to demonstrate how a suburban home can generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

Built to US Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards, the two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility is said to incorporate energy-efficient construction and appliances, plus energy-generating technologies including solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems.

According to NIST, the solar photovoltaic system will generate electricity to power lights and appliances when weather permits, and excess energy will be sent back to the local utility grid via a smart electric meter. The house will draw energy from the grid on days it cannot generate enough on its own, but over the course of a year it will produce enough to make up for that purchased energy, for a net-zero energy usage.

Sticking with all things green and sustainable and news that Vattenfall will officially inaugurate its 30 turbine, 150MW Ormonde Offshore Wind Farm off the Cumbrian coast this Wednesday.

Owen Paterson, the UK’s new environment secretary doesn’t appear entirely convinced by the figures when it comes to certain aspects of wind energy developments and wrote on his website in 2008 that they are ‘a massive waste of consumers’ money’.

In a speech in May to the Strangford Conservative Association, the conservative MP for north Shropshire added that shale reserves represent ‘one unexpected and potentially huge windfall’ and could generate ‘massive economic activity and a wealth of new jobs’ if developed safely and responsibly.

Shale gas is firmly on the agenda this week during the Technology Forum at the 3rd World Shale Oil and Gas Summit.

At the event, representatives from Oxford Catalysts Group, Ventech Engineers, and Haldor Topsøe will deliver a presentation entitled Modular Gas-to-Liquids: a Solution to Monetise Shale Gas

They will discuss the use of modular Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plants, based on the use of microchannel reactors, to realise high value from shale gas and other gas resources where the economics are marginal.

In publicity material Jeff McDaniel, commercial director, Oxford Catalysts Group said, ‘Modular GTL represents a revolutionary way of approaching the challenge of monetising remote gas resources.

‘It can be scaled to match the size of the resource and offers an efficient and cost-effective way to produce clean liquid fuels from smaller scale gas fields and shale gas resources.’

Last week, French president François Hollande was reported by the FT as having rejected opening up the country’s shale deposits but Shell is forging ahead with growing its shale assets.

On September 12 the company announced that it is has acquired acreage in Texas from Chesapeake Energy in a further step to build a leading portfolio of shale assets rich in oil and natural gas liquids. The $1.9bn transaction is expected to close within 30 days.

The $1.9bn acquisition covers 618,000 net acres in the Permian Basin in West Texas that currently produces some 26,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and has significant growth potential.