Advances in shale oil & gas production are keeping North American shale in the game long after Saudi Arabia and Russia thought they could out-produce the upstarts into the dirt. Now, shale is poised to benefit from the inevitable rises in global oil prices that will occur when the current glut is slowly matched by increasing demand (if Russia and China mischief and economic malpractise can be tamed by a “suddenly rational” world).
Coal is Not Even Close to Being Dead
China and India are pouring resources into building large new coal power plant capacity:
Since 2010, 473 gigawatts (GW) of new coal capacity went online in 33 countries. 85 percent of these plants were built in China and India, with the remainder mostly in Indonesia and Vietnam.
East and South Asia saw a 17.5GW and 3.7GW growth in coal-fired generation capacity over the past year, respectively. By contrast, almost no new coal plants are being built in Europe and North America, and many old plants are being retired… both India and China have made future coal use a central part of their emissions reduction plans submitted in Paris. Benjamin Sporton, chief executive of the World Coal Association, notes that the report does not mention that the new plants are using new “high-efficiency coal” technology that they say will be half the price of gas and one-fifth the price of wind in Asian countries in the future.
One Example of “High Efficiency Coal” from MIT
The concept, proposed by MIT doctoral student Katherine Ong and Ronald C. Crane (1972) Professor Ahmed Ghoniem, is described in their paper in the Journal of Power Sources. The key is combining into a single system two well-known technologies: coal gasification and fuel cells.
Coal gasification is a way of extracting burnable gaseous fuel from pulverized coal, rather than burning the coal itself. The technique is widely used in chemical processing plants as a way of producing hydrogen gas. Fuel cells produce electricity from a gaseous fuel by passing it through a battery-like system where the fuel reacts electrochemically with oxygen from the air.
The attraction of combining these two systems, Ong explains, is that both processes operate at similarly high temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius or more. Combining them in a single plant would thus allow the two components to exchange heat with minimal energy losses. In fact, the fuel cell would generate enough heat to sustain the gasification part of the process, she says, eliminating the need for a separate heating system, which is usually provided by burning a portion of the coal.
Massive amounts of hydrocarbons still exist under the land and water of Earth. In fact, humans have barely touched the surface of these hydrocarbon resources, and there is no chance that humans will ever run out of hydrocarbon fuels. Human ingenuity will keep these fuels in ample supply as long as humans choose to use them.
Nuclear Power is Safe and Fuels are Plentiful When Used Efficiently
Nuclear power is safe, but added costs of regulation make the economics of nuclear difficult when cheap natural gas, and plentiful cheap coal are available. In other words, nuclear economics makes the most sense in natural resource-poor nations such as Japan and many nations of Europe. Nuclear would even make sense in the energy-rich US, if government regulation stopped driving up the costs of construction so steeply.
Grid-Scale Wind and Solar Disastrous Choices for Industrial Nations
In order for the any power grid to function, demand for energy must exactly match supply. Solar power runs the risk of providing either too much energy or not enough, as it cannot easily adjust output. Adding green power, which only provides power at intermittent and unpredictable times, makes the power grid more fragile, especially in developing countries. Power demand is relatively predictable, and conventional power plans, like nuclear plants and natural gas, can adjust output accordingly as they put out a steady and predictable supply of electricity.
___ Daily Caller ..
California learning its lesson on grid-scale solar the hard way:
… the growth of solar and wind power has thrown a wild card in the mix. The sun and wind are much less predictable.
“All of a sudden you have a major cloud that comes over a solar field,” Traweek says, and that causes the solar power to drop off.
“That [power] needs to come from somewhere else immediately,” she says.
So grid operators have to keep the natural gas plants running in the background. If they’re turned off, many take four to eight hours start up again.
California’s highest demand for electricity also happens right as the sun goes down, when Californians come home from work and lights turn on. Grid operators need natural gas power plants at the ready to meet that peak and to fill the gap that’s left by solar power.
All of that expensive effort to incorporate big solar into the energy mix — making the entire power generation scheme more complex and vulnerable — cannot be explained in any logical fashion. Only by appealing to a quasi-religious belief in “clean energy,” “saving the Earth,” or “reducing carbon emissions to prevent (a delusional) climate apocalypse,” can proponents of grid-scale wind and solar convince themselves that they are doing the right thing for the people whose lives depend upon reliable, high quality energy — something that wind and solar alone will never be able to provide in an affordable fashion.
So if big wind and big solar cannot provide what large industrial economies vitally need — plentiful, affordable, high quality power on demand — why pay so much and make consumers so vulnerable to shortages and failures, based upon nothing but warm fuzzy feelings and quasi-religious energy and carbon delusions? It is pure madness and criminal political opportunism and deception at all levels of government, industry, media, academia, and popular culture. It is Idiocracy of all kinds, including the variety that takes advantage of the effect of dysgenic demographic decline on democratic institutions.
Peak Oil No!
Saudi Arabia is pumping near record levels, over 10 years after peak oil martyr Matt Simmons expected the nation’s oil production to collapse into terminal decline. Russia has set recent oil production records. North American oil production has been hardly affected by lower oil prices — although a shakeup in oil production companies themselves is taking place. Iran and Iraq are both in positions to ramp up production, if certain political and logistical issues can be settled. Africa, Latin America, and large areas of Asia are sitting on large pools of oil that could be produced if the price were right, and if production infrastructure were upgraded and pipelines protected.
All in all, the massive confidence in peak oil Armageddon and global collapse long displayed by peak oil echo choirs and circular jerkulars has not been justified by any real world phenomena.
And as previously mentioned, humans have barely tapped into the global hydrocarbon complement.
This image represents a recent USGS estimate of global conventional oil & gas reserves. Oil & gas reserves have risen inexorably since the beginning of the oil age. And they will continue to do so.
Here is another look at global hydrocarbon endowment including many unconventional hydrocarbons — but not even close to the more likely, much higher numbers:
Here is a look at gas hydrate resources compared to other hydrocarbon resources (low estimates):
All of these hydrocarbon fuels together could power advanced human societies for thousands of years — particularly with the addition of advanced nuclear fission process heat used to turn abundant low quality hydrocarbons into high quality fuels, fertilisers, polymers, and other high value products.
Fast Neutron Nuclear Fission Reactors Could Produce High Quality Reliable Power for Thousands of Years
Using currently known uranium resources, “fast reactors operating in a closed fuel cycle would be able to provide energy for thousands of years as well as easing concerns about waste,” says Stefano Monti, Team Leader for the IAEA’s Fast Reactor Technology Development Section in the Department of Nuclear Energy. Fast reactors are a versatile and flexible technology that promises to create or “breed” more fuel by converting nuclear “waste” into “fissile” material. “Fissile” material is nuclear fuel, usually uranium or plutonium that can sustain a fission chain. The heat generated by that fission chain reaction, contained within a nuclear power reactor, is used to produce steam, which then spins turbines to produce electricity. Since fast reactors “burn up” or consume material that would otherwise be considered “spent fuel”, the total volume of nuclear material that needs to be handled as waste is reduced. __ https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/fast-reactors-provide-sustainable-nuclear-power-thousands-years
The energy density of nuclear reactions — both fission and fusion — are many orders of magnitude higher than that of any other available energy technology. It is obvious that nuclear reactors will be the foundation of any human society advanced enough to move millions of humans into the outer solar system and beyond.
Humans will need to navigate past the popular mass delusions of Climate Apocalypse, Peak Oil Armageddon, Resource Scarcity Collapse, Overpopulation Calamity, Global Pollution Holocaust, and any number of other imaginative dooms fed to the gullible public by always willing media outlets, academics, politicians, NGOs, activists, opportunists, doom junkies, political lobbies, and miscreants of all types — who would do almost anything to prevent the coming of an abundant and expansive human future. (Yes, I know, we’re gonna need a lot more guillotines!)
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late (or too early) to have a Dangerous Childhood. Make provisions for a bumpy ride.