Monday, November 05, 2007

The Energy Crisis: A summary of discussions with a friend

I spoke to a friend who has a birds-eye view of the energy world. Here is a summary of what I came away with:

1) Carbon utilisation will prove difficult in a market where the pricing structure is shaky due to uncertainity of supply, growing demand and an outdated pricing structure that promotes escalation and inflation. We are witnessing a preview of the likely outcomes of these forces. Environmental concerns are (currently) secondary to carbon energy pricing, however monitoring emissions represents a way of measuring and possibly creating controls on carbon utilisation on a global scale. Additionally in the future it is unclear if environmental concerns over Carbon utilisation will create constraints on carbon energy pricing, and in the event that it does, emissions monitoring could become critical to the maintenance of a new world order.

2) If a cap structure on carbon utilisation is created, enforcement of the cap will be possible only through a system of consumption control. Available technologies for alternative energy insufficiently economical to promote fuel substitution as a means of consumption control. Consumption levels have to come down for any substitution to be effective.

3) Nuclear sources offer the greatest promise of high volume energy generation, subject ofcourse securing key technologies and fuels against adverse market fluctuations. Non-traditional sources like Wind, Wave, Solar and Biofuels are currently hostage to improvements in storage technologies.

4) In general, the utilisation of all alternative sources and higher consumption efficiencies is dependent on the ability to maintain a strong presence in the high technology field. It is impossible to do this without a robust scientific community and aggressive research and development programs in the government and private sector.

5) An information system will be needed to permit effective policy making. Surveillance on carbon energy consumption, emissions levels will have to be rapidly enhanced in the next five to ten years.

2 Comments:

At 7:34 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi,

Before I forget, some more points of interest that have cropped up in the last few days.

1) Natural Gas is likely to replace fuel oil as the primary source of heat generation in the US. This is due in part to the relatively fewer problems that Natural Gas pricing faces currently.

2) Efficient offshore liquifaction technology is the key to economical recovery of flaring gas from known oil deposits at sea. This in turn will increase resistance of market forces.

3) Regassification at sea technology will reduce capex required for expanding Natural Gas usage. Typically regassification at sea shaves 50% of the capital costs associated with more traditional land based regassification terminals.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi,

Just read the paper by James Slutz in the 2004 APGas focum conference.

I was always of the opinion that the carbon emission justification for corn-to-ethanol was rubbish. But I have just realised that this corn-to-ethanol as a route to energy security in the US is also total nonsense.

Energy generation from natural gas is used to operate pumps that irrigate the fields and natural gas is used in the making of fertilizer.

There is no intrinsic security of supply as long as corn cultivation relies on inorganic fertilizers and high volume irrigation.

If more US farmers grow corn for ethanol, the demand on natural gas could easily prove painful for other food related agroeconomies.

This does not look like a viable energy security plan to me.

 

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