Monday, October 10, 2016

First, the Good News...

The World Energy Council predicts global demand for energy will peak in 2030 and decline thereafter.

That's the good news.

Now, for the bad news. That's "per capita" global demand for energy. And since we're about to welcome another couple of billion "capitas" gross global energy consumption will just keep increasing.

...while overall per capita energy demand would begin to fall, demand for electricity would double by 2060, the council said, requiring greater infrastructure investment in smart systems that promote energy efficiency.

The “phenomenal” growth of solar and wind energy is predicted to continue, while coal and oil will fade from the energy mix. Solar and wind accounted for 4% of power generation in 2014 but could supply up to 39% by 2060, while hydroelectric power and nuclear are also expected to grow.

But fossil fuels will remain the number one source of energy, having fallen just 5% since 1970 from 86% of energy supply to 81% in 2014.

The council drew up three scenarios to assess different areas of energy use. The range of outcomes could see fossil fuels provide anything from 50% to 70% of energy by 2060, said the council, which is the UN-accredited global energy body.

Under two of the scenarios, oil production will peak in 2030 at between 94m barrels per day (bpd) and 103 mb/d, although the third scenario would see it peak and plateau at 104 m/bpd for a decade from 2040.

...But the council warned that keeping global warming below 2C would require an “exceptional and enduring effort, far beyond already pledged commitments and with very high carbon prices”.

Its predictions for carbon emissions vary wildly depending on the strength of efforts to tackle the problem, from a reduction of 61% by 2060 to a slight increase of 5%.

Overall, the report’s theme of a grand transition envisages lower population growth, radical new technologies, greater environmental challenges and a shift in economic and geopolitical power.

Oh yeah, and for all three scenarios presented by the Council, we'll shatter the "carbon budget" in the coming 30 to 40 years. However, if we're sticking with the 1.5C carbon budget, we'll blow through that in the next five years.


Toby said...

Governments have to be involved. As an example, houses are still being built to the same energy inefficiency as 40 years ago because it's cheaper to do so. It is much cheaper over the long haul to spend a bit more on construction to make a house energy efficient but that makes it less competitive on the market so it's not done. Government has to change the regs whether the builders like it or not. Multiply this by just about everything and the fuel savings will be immense. But it won't be done out of warm fuzzy feelings.

The Mound of Sound said...

Governments absolutely have to be involved, Toby. At last December's Paris climate summit, Potsdam Institute director, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, delivered a blunt but largely unheeded warning. He said if we're to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic, runaway global warming, it will require an "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industry.

An induced implosion. Plainly that's beyond any power but governmental. And yet there's no political will for such a thing nor does the public have much appetite for what that might entail. Consider this. There's roughly 27-trillion dollars of known fossil fuel reserves securitized on the world's stock markets. That perceived value anchors massive investments by banks, institutional lenders, pension funds and so on. An induced implosion of these fossil industries would wipe out a big chunk of that notional wealth with almost unimaginable consequences for the global economy.

This could be the biggest, most dangerous blunder in the history of modern civilization and it's not clear how civilization can survive if it does act as Schellnhuber asks. What we may be witnessing is a lethal conflict between mankind, our species (along with all others) and the civilization we created. That's a mind-boggling thought

the salamander said...

.. ! ..

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Sal. You bring up an important problem, GHG leakage from fracking. Christy Clark writes off the problem saying that fracking in BC will be "world class" which, in reality, is another way of saying still pretty leaky.

There is some telling video taken by environmental watchdogs using infrared cameras at fracking sites. Because the raw gas is odourless, colourless and flavourless, it's almost impossible to detect, especially at the distance these monitors are forced to keep. With infrared, however, it's possible not only to see these often massive onsite leaks but also reliably predict the amount of leaked gas escaping into the atmosphere. Anyone who has seen an aerial shot of these fracking fields can appreciate the magnitude of the challenge. How can so many sites be monitored and how can the monitors operate without interference?

Another form of fracking leakage is into the shale rock itself and then out into the surrounding lands and water. Plenty of YouTube videos of Australians simply setting fire to rivers and lakes.

Then there's the problem of retail infrastructure - aging urban gas lines. I think it was a Harvard project that took its apparatus up and down the streets of Boston detecting an enormous number of small gas leaks from decaying old pipes, some of them dating to the 19th century, running underneath the streets and sidewalks. The only way to fix that is to tear up the streets and sidewalks and replace the cast iron with new pipes. In the short to medium-term (the business life cycle) that's plainly uneconomical and so it simply isn't done. The customer doesn't care. He gets billed according to the meter at his house. The rate might reflect the leakage factor but it's never broken out that way on the monthly statement - out of sight/out of mind.

It's a mess blanketed by layers of political myths spun by shameless liars like a certain coastal premier I know.

the salamander said...

.. there is another Yale article or study.. describing how Methane tracking of leaks back to specific source allowed Yale researchers to help an Energy & Pipeline firm selectively repair an aging pipeline instead of rebuild or replace the entire thing. Instead of being in the area of 30 billion $' it got inderway at a cost of just several billion.

An interesting sidenote of course is how we the population are denied information on where leaked & spilled dilbit originated, its exact composition & its end destination or buyer .. We just get to subsidize these Big Energy offenders.. we can neither access their product for domestic energy security or get the basic facts when it spills into our rivers, wetlands or backyards..

There is so much we are not being told or informed of.. yet so much vague generalizing and misinformation - coming not just from mainstream media.. but from our various levels of government.. who certainly want to be privy to our private data, communications, voting perceptions or radicalized tree hugging urges.. We are also expected to understand that election promises are 'just political speech' with zero dury of care - as our wounded & disabled vets - and our seniors are finding out ..