Peak Oil pushed “Far into the Future”
WorldEnergy.Org has confirmed an abundance of energy, and stated that “Peak oil has moved far into the future.
Anyone care to tackle this monster with data of their own?
World Energy Council report confirms global abundance of energy resources and exposes myth of peak oil
World Energy Congress, Daegu, Korea, 15 October 2013: There is a greater abundance of energy resources in the world today than at any other time, and, if properly managed, the reserves are sufficient to meet even a significant upturn in demand for decades to come, according to “World Energy Resources 2013”, a report released today by the World Energy Council (WEC) at its triennial event, the World Energy Congress, in Daegu, Korea.
The report says that the increased assessment of reserves, along with improved energy production and conversion technologies, has enabled the energy industry to meet a growth in demand that is higher than was anticipated two decades ago.
Fossil fuels are still the dominant resource, providing 80% of energy, while new renewables (solar, wind, geothermal, marine) provide about 1.5% only. For electricity production, fossil fuels supply 66% (up by 2%), while new renewables supply around 5%. Over the last 10 years the share of coal has increased to around 28% (up by 4.5%), oil has decreased to 31% (down by 6%), while gas has increased to 23% (up by 2%).
The report also notes that the development of renewables has been significantly slower than was expected 20 years ago.
Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, commented: “Our latest World Energy Resources report shows that ‘peak oil’ – that the world was running out of oil – has moved into a far future. It is clear that coal, oil and gas are going to keep powering the economies of many countries for many years to come.”
According to the report, although renewable resources, especially wind power and solar PV, have developed exponentially, this started from a low base. Today renewables still represent a small fraction of total global energy supply.
Christoph Frei said: “Renewables will play an important role in our future energy mix. In particular, our World Energy Scenarios study sees that solar PV will have a bright future. However, a number of challenges for renewables remain. There is huge unexploited hydropower potential especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but a number of large projects are facing local resistance. There is significant potential of biomass energy, particularly in Latin America, but concerns about the energy-water-food nexus have to be carefully managed. Other technologies, such as marine energy, still require a lot of efforts in RD&D.”
Alessandro Clerici, Executive Chair of World Energy Resources, commented: “The growth of new renewables, namely wind and solar, has been mainly dependent on generous government support and subsidies especially in the EU. In addition, integrating a high percentage of intermittent renewables into the grid has remained challenging due to the high cost of storage and backup power. Intermittent renewables such as wind and solar will have an increased share in future electricity generation but they will still remain marginal in the global primary energy supply for decades to come.”
The report also finds that the increase of renewables has not been enough to make up for the drop in nuclear energy, from a peak of 17% in the late 1980s to 13.5% in 2012. Nuclear energy faces an uncertain future, with the nuclear renaissance stalled following the Fukushima accident, the report adds.
Alessandro Clerici commented: “The growth of renewables will benefit from having conventional thermal plants with the right flexibility for power-frequency regulation and finding adequate storage and grid technologies. Meanwhile, energy efficiency presents an immediate opportunity to reduce both energy intensity and emissions. However, as energy-efficient systems are capital-intensive, decision-makers must abandon the usual short-term mentality to finance projects based on initial costs, to also account for the lower lifecycle costs.”
The report concludes by noting that while the resources and technologies are available to meet rising demand, there are other constraints on the sector, most notably financing, the environment and climate.
Significant findings of the report are:
- Global crude oil reserves today are almost 25% larger than in 1993 and production has gone up by 20%.
- The oil reserves in the world could be quadrupled if unconventional resources such as oil shale, oil sands, extra heavy oil, and natural bitumen are taken into account.
- The report sets out a global oil reserves-to-production (R/P) ratio of 56 years with total available reserves estimated at 223 billion tonnes.
- Coal is still the global primary energy source (40%) for electricity production. Leading economies are still powered by coal, with 79% of electricity in China and 40% in the USA generated by coal-fired plants, respectively.
- The report sets out a global coal reserves-to-production ratio in excess of 100 years with total available reserves estimated at 891 billion tonnes.
- Natural gas is expected to continue to grow, thanks to significant increases in the reassessment of reserves and the growing contribution of unconventional gas, such as shale gas.
- The report sets out a global reserves-to-production ratio for natural gas at 55 years with total reserves estimated at 209 trillion cubic metres.
- The survey sets out that total identified uranium resources have grown by 12.5% since 2008 and are sufficient for over 100 years of supply based on current requirements.
- Nuclear power generated 2385 TWh in 2011.
- The nuclear share of total global electricity production reached its peak of 17% in the late 1980s, but since then it has been falling and reached 13.5% in 2012.
- Hydropower generated 2767 TWh in 2011.
- During 2012, an estimated 27 to 30 GW of new hydropower and 2 to 3 GW of pumped storage capacity was commissioned.
- Since the WEC’s 2010 resources survey the total amount of electricity produced by hydropower has dropped by 14%, in part due to water shortages.
- Wind generated 377 TWh in 2011 from 240,000 MW of installed capacity.
- Total amount of electricity generated by wind in 2011 was roughly equal to Australia’s annual electricity consumption.
- China, with about 62 GW, has the world’s highest installed capacity of wind energy, while Denmark, with over 3 GW, has the highest level per capita.
- The global total of installed capacity for solar PV stood at 68,850 MW in 2011 with an energy production around 70 TWh.
- Between 2008 and 2011 solar PV capacity increased in the USA from 1168 to 5171 MW, in Germany from 5877 to 25,039 MW, and in Italy from 430 MW to 13,000 MW.
- Between 1990 and 2010 bioenergy supply increased from 38 to 52 EJ.
The report showcases the potential for energy efficiency to decrease the use of resources and achieve huge savings along the entire energy value chain. Examples include:
- Buildings account for almost 40% of global consumption and the report notes potential energy savings in buildings could reach between 20 and 40%.
- In oil & gas exploration the energy efficiency of the electric system, which today is 20%, could be increased up to 50%.
- In power generation the average efficiency of power plants is 34% for coal-fired installations compared with best available technology of 46% for coal and 61% for gas-fired units.
The report is the 23rd of the World Energy Council’s resources studies, with the full report running to nearly 600 pages. The first report was published in 1933 and was entitled Statistical Year Book of World Energy, which later became the WEC Survey of Energy Resources. The series is regarded worldwide as the premier source of information on global energy resources and is made available free of charge via the World Energy Council’s website:http://www.worldenergy.org/publications.
The World Energy Council also announces that Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, from Germany’s RWE AG, will succeed Alessandro Clerici, Senior Advisor of CESI Italy, as Executive Chair of the World Energy Resources study, to take effect after the World Energy Congress.
[quote] the reserves are sufficient to meet even a significant upturn in demand for decades to come [/quote]
Even if that cheery assessment were true, the question remains, "After those decades pass … then what?"
I could pick this apart piece by piece, but why not just note that the opening sentence begins with a whopper of an error:
World Energy Congress, Daegu, Korea, 15 October 2013: There is a greater abundance of energy resources in the world today than at any other time,
No, resources are the starting point. By definition as soon as you begin to use them, you have fewer resources.
There is not a greater abundance of energy resources in the world today than at any other time.
Perhaps they just made a rookie error and confused resources with reserves.
There's a slight, technically correct but unsophisticated argument to be made for higher reserves than in the past.
But this ignores the bit about price.
Price and reserves are connected. What's 'technically recoverable' has no meaning or utility until you answer whether something is economically recoverable. As we know here, over the medium and long horizons what is economically recoverable is a derivative of net energy.
Quick (and stupid) example. Suppose that the Fed sets a new price on oil of $1,000,000 a barrel. Well, all of a sudden there's LOTS of reserves out there, possibly even including the moons of Neptune. Heck, reserves have never been higher! In all of human history!!
Sounds exciting, but it's a silly notion. To ignore the role of prices and then to ignore the effect of using higher cost (low net energy) reserves on the economy and on what's possible, this article just fails to be useful.
Worse, saying that "peak oil has moved far out to the future" as their quoted source says in the article is not the same thing as saying that peak oil is a myth,as the title says. Perhaps a better title would be "peak oil has moved farther out into the future" but even then the substance of the article does nto support that statement.
Instead it relies on R/P ratios which tell you nothing about a peak date. It's quite probable that the known oil reserves will last for 200 years, but again, that tells us nothing about the date of the peak of extraction.
That moment is a much more complex function of price, demand, technology, and geology. R/P is about as kindergardeny as you can get in this business.
As you know, you're preaching to the choir, here. I read this piece, which I needed to include in a project for school, and just shook my head in disbelief. The language here is 'fuzzy', to say the least, and I imagine this is how society keeps convincing itself that its addiction is totally justifiable and not really hurting anything.
It's maddening, as I'm sure you know, to present this material to people who think that "peakers" are zealots who detach from society with a religious conformity to the notion that society cannot be sustained.
Yes, that's what they actually said, in this particular class. *sigh*
I assume that their answer will be something like "Never mind, technology will continue to evolve and also efficiency will improve so we will be able to find and to extract more resources that now seem to be out of reach". But the real question should be, shall we be able to find and use all the energy that we are going to need?. As you said, it is just a matter of time. Note that they do not say anymore that it will never happen. Sooner or later, that moment will arrive.
I live in Western Colorado where the culture is rabidly pro fossil fuels.
Nevertheless I have had success as a conversation starter to use this approach:
When I get into any discussions I don’t debate forecasts. I simply note the difference between even the rosiest forecasts (clearly this one qualifies) and the forecasts by those most concerned is not a question of how many centuries we have, but rather how many decades we have till serious shortages begin.
It makes no real difference whether we have one decade, or five, or perhaps up to eight decades to address the shutdown of our entire civilization.
As noted above – And Then What?
End of debate. Even if you believe the most optimistic forecasts we have a massive amount of work to do to make the conversion to renewable energies during this century.
(Note to Chris and Adam however – it would be really great if you found some more realistic studies to publish on P.P. About five years ago there were a lot of such reports but there seems a paucity of updated studies on peak oil timetable for instance EXCEPT by these cornucopians who wish to simply quiet all concerns. What Does The True Picture look like as of now, or is there simply no reliable data?)
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The question about reserves is easily interpreted. The reserve in the financial sense is the excess crude production that is kept in storage but readily available. This is very likely the type of reserve the article is referring to This quantity is important because it has a fairly large impact on current market price. A low market price will not only discourage increased production it indicates decreased economic activity. The money side of the equation can be manipulated in many ways and for many reasons that don't have anything to do with the process of drilling for oil but these factors will influence the amount of oil that is consumed. A dead economy will mean reduced production and reduced production will push the crisis level of potential peak production to a date further in the future. Economic slowdowns warp the bell curve. A couple of other inaccuracies in the Crash course. The human population cannot increase in a purely exponential fashion. For this to happen people would have to live forever continually adding to the population and never being subtracted from it. Dead people become fossil fuel they do not continue consuming it. A more developed society actually reduces it's birthrate. Education is a key part of birth control. This works in even in societies that are less developed that have a minimal carbon foot print. About what our money is. The statements about what money is are wrong. Yes, all money is loaned into existence but stop to think about who loans the money and who has the debt paper in their pocket. The money you have is a claim on an expectation of performance on social contract. It's implied by the participating parties. Comparing it to just labor is the mistake that communist theorists make. The vigorish doesn't matter, it's the contract fulfillment that counts. What we are using are petro-dollars and separating it out and converting it to brute force only makes any sense if the oil is shut completely off and suddenly taken out of the equation. We do not owe the federal reserve when we possess their notes, it is rather they who owe us. Once they get the IOU back they could just as well burn it because it is a debt fulfilled.
There are a set of parametric equations that are used to describe natural population expansions. They are called Prey / Predator equations. After one analyzes these equations you will notice that with one set of initial conditions both populations never really take off. With another range of initial conditions both populations rise in an almost exponential manner and the population approaches a plateau with a cyclical alternating value between prey and predator as one population balances the other. In the third and final set the population rises and crashes and never recovers. This is all under a condition of infinite resources for the prey. The initial conditions that can be chosen are the mortality rates, birthrates and the initial number of prey and predators. Some may argue that we have no predators in the traditional sense but if you consider our reliance on finance then the financial markets can be seen as a predatory arena. That provides both winners and losers, prey and predators. As an example, observe the source code on this webpage and see if it has affiliate markers in it. In the same way a spider is a predator, the web visitor's clicks and wallets are the prey. Like a mouse trap the articles and information are the cheese. In the same way that we as a species choose to act like prey and predators so will our destiny ultimately be chosen. The time we made a choice between a path on the left or a path on the right was when the world as a whole decided to use the advantages of chemistry to prosecute WW1. That was the true turning point. The key to almost limitless food production with the use of fertilizers was traded for death and destruction. Prior to WW1 the population levels could have been managed but not the philosophical wreckage we have afterwards. What is taught in U.S, schools as the French an Indian war was actually a world war where the principle opponents let the French and English colonies battle amongst them selves. The territorial dispositions were negotiated in Europe to end the hostilities and mainly the drain on finances. That financial prey predator thing continues to raises it's ugly head today many years later. Technological advances applied to this mess just insured that the total destruction of life, property and capital on this path would be ever increasing. The limits the prey/predator model imposes is not unlike a cell on death row we garner a few reprieves but the end is certain. Some combination of Michael Ruppert's Lifeboats, Zeitgeist, the Venus project and the Ubuntu philosophy may yield both a path though the coming difficulties and an ultimate solution outside the limits of the prey predator relationship. Peter Joseph said it best in Zeitgeist, "This shit has got to go." If we can manage that then maybe we will see the fruits of things like Michael Lerner's focus fusion research or molten salt thorium reactors.
CM: "saying that "peak oil has moved far out to the future" as their quoted source says in the article is not the same thing as saying that peak oil is a myth,as the title says."
Peak oil as a geophysical reality is no myth in the sense of falsehood. But what they are likely referring to when they use the word "myth" is not the technical reality, but the speculative stuff that has been attached to that reality, i.e. the idea that peak oil will produce calamitous economic and social repercussions, etc. Those speculations fall more properly under the heading of "myth": interesting stories, concocted 10-15 years ago, of potential oil-shortage-driven ruin and doom — stories that are no longer fully plausible (assuming that they ever were).