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 Drops Two ‘Bombs’ in One Week

Royal Dutch Shell Drops Two ‘Bombs’ in One Week | 01/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

First came the announcement this week by Shell senior executives that oil extraction in the Arctic would be postponed for the second year in a row, and second is yesterday’s announcement foreshadowing the company’s plan for the future, Shell Sees Solar As The Biggest Energy Source After Exiting It in 2009.

The New Lens Scenarios Europe Shell report depicts two different energy policy scenarios, predicts that “photovoltaic panels will be the main power source by 2060 or 2070”  (depending on which scenario) and “lower costs and state support will boost solar to about 600 gigawatts in 2035” – worldwide totals.

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

According to information compiled from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the International Energy Agency, solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity has grown to about 102 gigawatts worldwide in 2012 – which is up from 1 gigawatt globally in 2000.

Since year 2000, an average of 10 gigawatts of PV solar, per year, has been very unevenly added to the world’s electrical grids, but if PV solar installations were to grow at the same rate as the 2000-2012 timeframe, just 450 gigawatts of PV solar would be installed by 2035 — not the 600 gigawatts predicted by the report. The growth rate for PV solar has been astonishing for a new kind of energy for utility companies — and additionally so, considering it is battling with the big boys of the energy world, oil & gas, coal and nuclear. Regardless of past challenges, strong growth in PV solar is forecast until 2100.

All of this means that PV solar is set to grow dramatically between now and 2035, let alone by 2070.

Peter Endig/dpa via AP Images
Shell Solar GmbH 2004 | World’s then-largest solar power plant in Espenhain, Germany | Image credit courtesy: Peter Endig/dpa via AP Images

The report has PV solar power moving to number one position to provide at least 38% of worldwide energy supply (well up from today’s ranking of 13th place) to become the predominant kind of energy by 2100.

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

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”.

As all of the above plays out, natural gas demand is expected to surpass the historic demands seen for any other kind of fuel and the quote from the report’s main authour Jeremy Bentham, speaks volumes about the anticipated level of demand for the gas.

“The underlying pent-up demand for gas is very strong…we see it being sucked up, every molecule.”– Jeremy Bentham

The overall demand for energy will double in the next 50 years due to population growth and increases in living standards, and natural gas will eventually enjoy the highest level of fuel demand in history. But by 2100, the world will mainly run on PV solar, while other kinds of energy will contribute small percentages to the overall global energy mix.

It now appears that Shell would rather ‘switch than fight’ the move to PV solar. It is likely to be the first of many such switches in the global energy industry.

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Image courtesy of Cleantechnica.com
Image courtesy of Cleantechnica.com
JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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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

_

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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JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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