The nether worlds of planet Earth have barely been explored for their rich deposits of hydrocarbons and other minerals. Another recent discovery of “centuries worth of coal” under the North Sea, accents the potential of future discoveries around the globe.
SCIENTISTS have discovered vast deposits of coal lying under the North Sea, potentially holding enough energy to power Britain for centuries….
The work revealed that the sea bed holds up to 20 layers of coal extending from Britain’s northeast coast far out under the sea — and that much of it could be reached with the technologies already in use to extract oil and gas. _Sunday Times
“We think there are between three trillion and 23 trillion tonnes of coal buried under the North Sea,” said Dermot Roddy, formerly professor of energy at Newcastle University. “This is thousands of times greater than all the oil and gas we have taken out so far, which totals around 6bn tonnes. If we could extract just a few per cent of that coal it would be enough to power the UK for decades or centuries.”
Geologists have long known that Britain’s onshore coal seams extend under the North Sea but were uncertain about the scale. Energy companies ignored them because they were seen as inaccessible.
Recent years, however, have brought advances in technologies such as gasification, where superheated steam and oxygen are pumped underground to turn coal into gases that can be burnt for power or used to make plastics. _GWPF quoting Sunday Times
Hydrocarbons form naturally within large sediments of organic material. But hydrocarbons are also found in large quantities on other planets, where life is unknown. In other words, Earth not only possesses huge quantities of hydrocarbons from biological decay and transformation, but it may also have significant quantities of hydrocarbons formed via non-biological methods.
Any cheap hydrocarbon — including coal, kerogens, oil sands, natural gas, heavy oil, gas hydrates, and even biomass — can be cleanly and affordably converted to high value products such as plastics, lubricants, fuels, polymers, fertilisers, and much more. How? By using clean, cheap, abundant process heat generated by new generation very high temperature nuclear reactors.
What can we do with cheap high quality nuclear process heat?
- Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in oil sands (PDF)
- Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in coal to liquids and gas to liquids (PDF)
- Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in shale oil kerogens
- Provide abundant industrial process heat for production of fertilisers, refining fuels, making plastics, etc
- Split CO2 into CO to use as a hydrogen carrier
- Overturn conventional fears of EROEI and Peak Oil
And much more.
It is clear that humans need to pursue the development of cleaner, more reliable, safer, more scalable nuclear reactors — for many reasons. It is also clear that humans will need to use available deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, kerogens, bitumens, and even biomass, as bridge energies and fuels to the future — when hydrocarbons will be mainly used as chemical and industrial feedstocks and other non-fuel uses.
Lefty-Luddite green dieoff.orgiasts stand in the way of a cleaner, more prosperous human future. They occupy some of the highest positions in governmental and inter-governmental organisations and political lobbies / activist groups. They are likely to contribute to a significant global economic slowdown in the not-so-distant future, which will probably result in a disruptive shakeup in global power.
Humans are on the verge of grand possibilities. Hope for the best.
But dysfunctional ideologies and grand political ambitions of power appear to block a clear way forward. Prepare for the worst.
Position yourself among others who are competent, resilient, wise, and prepared. Keep your eyes open for present and future opportunities.
More: Underground coal gasification (pictured in the top image) has been around for several decades, and continues to be improved. More on UCG from Wikipedia
As robotic technology and remote automation continues to improve, expect more infrastructure to be installed on the seafloor to provide for extraction and refining of deep sea hydrocarbon and mineral resources.
Political and geological constraints will assure that the price of energy assets will grow to support increasingly costly means to acquire them. Of course as technology improves and production volumes increase, costs of production become more competitive — even on the seafloor.