Our Energy Future includes good news too!

Most of the world’s energy supply is fossil fuel based. However, recent successes in renewable energy foretell a ‘cleaner’ future energy mix. Image courtesy of: www.drsoram.com
Most of the world’s energy supply is fossil fuel based. However, recent successes in renewable energy foretell a ‘cleaner’ future energy mix. Image courtesy of: www.drsoram.com

by John Brian Shannon

Most of the world’s energy supply is fossil fuel (86.2%) based. However, that statistic is set for unprecedented change as recent successes in renewable energy foretell of a ‘cleaner’ energy future.

World energy consumption increases every year, while the kinds of energy we use is changing, and environmental standards are (unequally) improving worldwide.

In short, we are using more energy — but it is ‘cleaner’ energy.

For instance, half of the added electrical capacity every year comes from renewable energy. And with major political initiatives in many countries promoting renewable energy, it is realistic to think that the share of renewables will increase over the coming decades.

Even major petroleum companies are changing their ways.

A recent, landmark report by Royal Dutch Shell illustrates a dramatically new order among the various kinds of energy and how the energy we use will change over the next 80-90 years. In Shell’s; NEW LENS SCENARIOS – A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE FOR A WORLD IN TRANSITION the company discusses two different scenarios, named ‘Mountains’ and ‘Oceans’ in our global energy future.

The boom in natural gas figures prominently, with natural gas quickly ramping-up to become the number one kind of energy in the world by 2030.

“The underlying pent-up demand for gas is very strong… we see it being sucked up, every molecule.” — Jeremy Bentham, the main authour of the NEW LENS SCENARIOS – A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE FOR A WORLD IN TRANSITION, talking about the anticipated level of demand for natural gas between now and 2030

Solar energy becomes the dominant kind of energy by the mid-2060’s supplying 38% of all demand worldwide!

  • By 2060, the report has PV solar power moving from today’s 13th-place, into 1st-place, to provide at least 38% of global energy demand. See: Shell Sees Solar As The Biggest Energy Source After Exiting It in 2009.
  • Due to enhanced Carbon Capture and Storage and clean combustion technology; “Global emissions of carbon dioxide dropping to near zero by 2100.”
  • Shell New Lens Scenarios says; “By 2100, energy from oil will account for only 10% of worldwide energy use and natural gas will account for just 7.5 percent of the global total.”

While the ‘energy produced to emissions released ratio’ looks utterly dreadful over the short term, over the long term it looks quite wonderful. If only we had a time machine to take us to the latter half of this century, we could all go for a nice breath of fresh air!

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JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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Royal Dutch Shell Report Spells Big Changes for Energy

by John Brian Shannon

Royal Dutch Shell has published a startling report in which it lays out it’s future view and it has detailed huge global implications for citizens, governments and the energy industry.

Shell’s New Lense Scenarios (policy paper) paints a picture of a new order among the different kinds of energy and how energy use will change between now and 2100.

Two different scenarios are discussed and named. The two, named ‘Mountains’ and ‘Oceans’ take different views of the many factors likely to affect the industry over the next 87 years,  but there is more consensus than disagreement between the two views.

The boom in natural gas figures prominently in both scenarios with natural gas dramatically ramping-up to become the number one kind of energy in the world by 2030.

“In 2030, natural gas becomes the largest global primary energy source, ending a 70-year reign for oil.” — NLS report

Due to enhanced Carbon Capture and Storage, clean combustion technology and the use of CO2 gas for industrial processes by 2100, Shell sees global emissions of carbon dioxide dropping by 2100, to nearly zero.

A quote from the report’s main authour Jeremy Bentham, speaks volumes about the anticipated level of demand for natural gas; “The underlying pent-up demand for gas is very strong…we see it being sucked up, every molecule.”

By 2060, the report has PV solar power moving into number one position to provide at least 38 percent of global energy supply — well up from today’s distant ranking of 13th place. See; Shell Sees Solar As The Biggest Energy Source After Exiting It in 2009.

Due to enhanced Carbon Capture and Storage, clean combustion technology and the use of CO2 gas for industrial processes by 2100, Shell sees “global emissions of carbon dioxide dropping to near zero by 2100”.

By 2100, energy from oil will account for only 10 percent of worldwide energy use and natural gas will account for just 7.5 percent of the global total, Shell said.

What might lie ahead 50 years from now… or even in 2100? We consider two possible scenarios of the future, taking a number of pressing global trends and issues and using them as “lenses” through which to view the world.

The scenarios provide a detailed analysis of current trends and their likely trajectory into the future. They dive into the implications for the pace of global economic development, the types of energy we use to power our lives and the growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

The scenarios also highlight areas of public policy likely to have the greatest influence on the development of cleaner fuels, improvements in energy efficiency and on moderating greenhouse gas emissions.

Mountains

The first scenario, labelled “mountains”, sees a strong role for government and the introduction of firm and far-reaching policy measures. These help to develop more compact cities and transform the global transport network. New policies unlock plentiful natural gas resources – making it the largest global energy source by the 2030s – and accelerate carbon capture and storage technology, supporting a cleaner energy system.

Oceans

The second scenario, which we call “oceans”, describes a more prosperous and volatile world. Energy demand surges, due to strong economic growth. Power is more widely distributed and governments take longer to agree major decisions. Market forces rather than policies shape the energy system: oil and coal remain part of the energy mix but renewable energy also grows. By the 2060s solar becomes the world’s largest energy source. – Shell

Download New Lens Scenarios PDF (PDF, 9 MB) – opens in new window

After selling off it’s global solar holdings in 2009, except for those located in Japan, Shell, having taken a long, studious look into the future, has since embraced PV solar as never before and is presently buying back it’s own shares at a brisk pace.

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The Next Trillion-dollar Business

by John Brian Shannon

High energy costs to pump crude oil from the bottom two-thirds of an oil reservoir is one of two main reasons that some of the largest oil wells have been capped and abandoned. Therefore, until recently much of the global proven reserves have lain dormant in so-called ‘ageing’ or ‘spent’ oilfields.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) can allow oil companies to resume extraction of crude oil at previously abandoned facilities.

This kind of CCS is a fine way to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions by storing the CO2 deep underground forever — and helping to help bring crude oil to the surface.

https://i0.wp.com/www.ico2n.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ICO2N-Enhanced-Oil-Recovery-Carbon-Capture-and-Storage.jpg
ICO2N Enhanced Oil Recovery – Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage

Recently, and where vast quantities of CO2 are available locally from industry, millions of tons of CO2 gas have already been pumped deep into the underground crude, increasing the volume and raising the overall pressure of the oil reservoir, thereby ‘forcing’ more crude oil to the surface. This is starting to become a common practice in Canada, the U.S.A., and in Saudi Arabia.

More often than not, this process has made economic sense based on it’s own economic merit, but government subsidies have also been employed on and off over the years — on an experimental and case-by-case basis.

So, why isn’t this being done everywhere if it is such a great idea? It turns out that much of the industry-produced CO2 that is available for CCS use is already being used for that purpose. But two factors have (so far) limited more CCS injection for oilfield rejuvenation:

  1. The remote locations of some oilfields can limit the use of industrial CO2 emissions for use, as pipelines to deliver the gasses to capped wells are expensive.
  2. The high energy costs of pumping supercritical (liquified) greenhouse gasses deep underground at high pressure — and pumping the crude oil up the pipe and out through the wellhead

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And… Voila! Just like that, high energy costs are no longer a factor in that equation — thanks to the dramatic fall in solar panel prices over the past 26 months! What?

It’s true! Up ‘till now, the high cost of all kinds of energy have prevented many CCS projects from going forward, as Carbon Capture and Storage requires huge amounts of energy. But solar costs have now dropped so dramatically that free energy from the Sun is being harnessed to inject liquified CO2 deep underground to rejuvenate massive oilfields — while at the same time, sequestering millions of tons of harmful greenhouse gasses.

Semprius Inc. 33.9% efficiency solar panel arrays mounted on Solar Tracker

It’s a win-win for the environment. Some might argue that point. But each year, our civilization is consuming more crude oil producing billions more tons of greenhouse gasses.

“The burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tonnes (21.3 gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, but it is estimated that natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount, so there is a net increase of 10.65 billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year…” — Wikipedia Fossil Fuel

We can continue to allow those gasses to escape unimpeded into the atmosphere, further warming the planet — or we can inject billions of tons of these gasses underground where they will stay for millennia.

The millions of tons of CO2 per year already being injected underground (now) and billions of tons of CO2 per year (in the near future) can only be seen as positive. If only all of the industry-produced CO2 could be so treated! Suddenly, that noble goal seems a lot closer to becoming a reality.

Who could have predicted that the oil industry and the solar industry would become such strong and complementary partners in this great and lofty enterprise?

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