Feb 10, 2014

Shell Develops "Scenarios" to Plan for the Future

This is really cool.  Shell has developed a number of scenarios to project what the future of energy might look like.  Some of the surprises--we will need to produce much more energy than we presently produce.  Energy use is expected to double by 2050.  Where will it come from?  There are several scenarios which indicate in order to meet the growing demand and the specific energy density that much more natural gas and coal will need to be mined and produced.  The natural gas will be required for the high energy density needs such as cars, trucks and planes.

You can look through the Energy Scenarios on YouTube Here;  

You can access the PDFs for the different scenarios here;

There are some perspectives in the scenario presentations that presume global warming to be true and depict some sort of widespread flood.  Aside from those assumptions, it is a very interesting resource.  

Mitch

Jan 3, 2014

The Irony of Global Warming Scientists Stuck in 10 Feet of Polar Ice

The news finally broke about the stuck Russian science ship at the South Pole.  The research team on board was studying global warming, when an ice flow of 10 feet thick ice trapped thier ship.  In fact the ice was so thick that the Chinese and Australian ice breakers could only get to within 6 and 10 miles of the stuck ship.

I think the media bias can clearly be seen by noting that it took 5 days for the news agencies to identify the research team as a global warming expedition.  Fox News was the first to note the reality.  The other major agencies followed, presumably because the cat was out of the bag.



The captain of the expedition claims that climate change is responsible for the ice flow crashing into the ocean from an iceberg and then blowing across the bay to trap his ship.  Maybe it was carma?  Maybe he could just wait for the global warming to free his ship?


Photo: Courtesy Wikepedia Commons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akademik_Shokalskiy
The truth of the matter is that the polar ice has grown for the second straight year and is now at a 35 year record high.  That's right the ice is thicker, stronger and reaches farther.  Global warming scientists are baffled--because they have an internal bias towards global warming.  Yet, the stubborn truth and data refuse to line up for them.  

A Washington Post writer noted, "Ultimately, it’s apparent the relationship between ozone depletion, climate warming from greenhouse gases, natural variability, and how Antarctic ice responds is all very complicated. " 

Yes, it is all very complicated, and that is one of my points. We all need to be very careful in predicting things, making massive changes to our economy and our way of life based on a single view of the world, and based on very complex models. 

Dec 22, 2013

Solar Energy is not a Replacement Technology for Fossil Fuel

The solar and wind energy enthusiasts continue to talk about the cost of the solar energy and the recent declines in cost.  It is important to note that implicit in their discussion is their understanding that solar and wind are not replacement technologies, but rather supplemental technologies.  Most renewable energy programs don't explain well for you that these are NOT replacement programs, they are supplemental.

Before I get into the details, let me say I support solar energy, biomass, wind energy, oxy-fuel cycles, nuclear, clean coal, natural gas and fuel cell.  I support an all of the above approach.  We don't know where the next big technological development will come from, so let's not limit innovation.  There is a cost point that makes solar energy cost effective for certain applications.  Let's use it there.

The difference between cost of production and cost as consumed is in availability, those two numbers are not apples-to-apples.  The cost to produce fossil fueled energy is still $.05 to $.08 per KWh.  The sun doesn't always shine when you need the energy.  In fact, the availability of solar energy is about 25%, so you would need 4 times as much installed capacity and a way to store the energy for when you need it.  That brings solar energy to a cost as consumed of about $ .52 per KWh.  The solar energy cost doesn't capture frequency regulation, backup costs and a subsidy to provide power for un-collectible utility bills, low income energy subsidies and energy efficiency programs either.  Now before everyone blows a lid, I know it doesn't exactly translate to four times--but neither do the solar energy costs capture all the government programs that burden your utility energy costs.  Evenso, my point is made, it is not $ .l3 per KWh for a large replacement of utility scale energy program.  The cost of solar energy as proscribed in most articles depends on the fact that other energy sources are present and providing services to support solar energy, and the solar energy advocates are not being entirely transparent with you.

Lastly, if solar and renewable energy were in fact less expensive and a replacement, then the utilities would be giving you a discount to choose renewables instead of charging more if you select renewable energy.

(1) Solar Energy Industries  Association, "A Bright Future", Fortune Magazine/Adsections, Dec 2013, p125

May 3, 2013

Alternatives to high priced solar and wind energy

It is not that I don't think that there is a place for wind and solar, it is just that those are more expensive, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.  We need to insure we have a low cost readily available base load energy fuel source for our economy.

The environmentalist focus seems to now be shifting from "we need more renewable energy"sources to "we hate coal".  But while the group focuses on what they like and don't like, without regard for the merit or functionality of an idea there is growing support for a new method of coal based generation.

The past method for coal fired energy was to supply atmospheric air to the combustion.  However, air is only about 21% oxygen.  the other 80% of air is nitrogen and other gasses.  It is this impure mixture which creates more pollutants on in the exhaust from the combustion.  A new combustion cycle was introduced about 7 years ago in which they will purify the air supply to be almost 100% oxygen.   This improves the efficiency and reduces the emissions of NOx by up to 80%.  Other pollutants are also reduced.  While the oxygenation cycle requires some energy and reduces the overall output, it remains much much more cost effective than any other source of power generation.  The emissions are reduced by 97% below half of the current generating stations.  Think of it;  We could reduce the air pollution by about 50% and still have very low cost power.

Courtesy NETL, National Energy Technology Lab,
 http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/turbines/refshelf/brochures/Brochure%209-19-05.pdf


There are several twists to the remaining Oxy-fuel cycle.  The environmentalist wants to pump the remaining CO2 into the ground, at great cost, to insure zero emissions.  One company has coupled their process with the enhanced oil extraction process.  Many tight oil fields require CO2 or other gaseous mixtures to force the oil out of formations and into the extraction process.  By siting microgeneration stations at the point of oil extraction the former problem of what to do with the CO2 becomes the solution for better and more efficient recovery of our own oil resources.  I love it when America out-smarts a problem.

Several companies have generating stations that are already online and proving the technology today.  Google oxy-fuel cycle and read more.

Read more at;
http://www.netpower.com/technology.html

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/factsheets/project/Proj460.pdf

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/factsheets/rd/R&D127.pdf

Apr 26, 2013

US set to become Natural Gas Exporter in 7 years.

US set to become Natural Gas Exporter in 7 years. 

The Energy Information Administration released a report for Bank of America titled "Outlook for shale gas and tight oil development in the U.S".  The report outlines state of US energy development, and very clearly shows that we have enough energy to power the American Economy - if we would only develop them.

Adam Sieminski, "Outlook for shale gas and tight oil development in the U.S.", EIA, Accessed May 2013
Four of the top five uncertainties to development are man-made.

• Resource quantities and distribution
• Surface vs. mineral rights
• Risk appetite of industry participants
• Infrastructure and technology
• Environmental constraints

Furthermore, three out of the five potential impediments are government influenced (risk, distribution (leases), and environmental constraints.

The presentation in full can be found at:  http://www.eia.gov/pressroom/presentations/sieminski_04202013.pdf


Mar 24, 2013

High Energy Prices = High Un-employment

We know based on some basic economic principles that increased regulations and taxes slow the economy down.  I have postulated in my upcoming book that higher energy prices are an indicator of both high regulation and higher taxes and also correlate to higher unemployment.  Now thanks to the Institute for Energy Research (IER) I can show the data.  The IER recently published a study that included all the data that I needed.  So I graphed un-employment against energy prices for 48 States from February of 2010.  The trend is unmistakable.


Nov 17, 2012

US set to become largest Oil Producer

In an article in the Globe and Mail, the oil in North Dakota drive unemployment to a record low in those areas, and the US is set to become the worlds largest oil producer.

Link:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/in-us-energy-renaissance-flares-of-fear-for-albertas-oil-patch/article5398644/

The Story:
As the sun dips below a grain stubble horizon, the flares flicker into view, a dozen tongues of flame licking against a pink sky.

The flares are natural gas being burned off in the rush for a far more valuable resource – oil. Shining in the gathering dusk, they are industrial glimmers of a changed future for a nation whose long-faltering dreams of energy independence are being revived.

Oil is pouring out of North Dakota. In September, some 728,000 barrels a day flowed, up a startling 57 per cent from the year before. And it’s not just here: Similar fields in Texas and elsewhere are seeing similarly fast rises in oil output, prompting a near-euphoric re-examination of what’s ahead for a country that has long relied heavily on imported oil to fill its gas tanks and keep its economic engine running.

Now, as hundreds of drilling rigs employ technological advances to extract rich reserves of previously untapped energy, the oil renaissance is triggering some startling forecasts.

The International Energy Agency predicted this week that the U.S. is set to become the largest oil-producing nation on earth, more prolific even than Saudi Arabia. One day, the IEA said, the U.S. could drive away most foreign imports.

What, then, does the future hold for the country that today delivers the largest share of those imports? Some 27 per cent of all barrels that cross U.S. borders come from Canada, and a belief in unfettered access to an insatiably oil-hungry U.S. market has been a central underlying assumption of the great energy expansion under way in Alberta.

Canada already produces far more oil than it needs. Any flaws in that assumption about U.S. demand will have a profound effect on Canada’s oil sands, where companies are spending a billion dollars a week to build production destined for export – virtually all U.S. bound.

At stake is the growth of an industry that keeps Western Canada’s economy vibrant, producing boatloads of well-paying jobs, welcome spinoff effects and government revenue. Already, amid weaker oil prices, some oil companies have contemplated deferring or cancelling projects, and just this week the Alberta government backed away from a goal to balance its budget.

“Canada has a real problem,” said Al Monaco, chief executive officer of Enbridge Inc., the pipeline company that has long been the prime mover of Canada’s oil. Combine rising U.S. oil output with declining consumption and the lack of other markets for Canada, and “none of that bodes well for prices if you’re a producer – nor if you’re a government that has royalties at play. Nor if you’re the federal government for tax revenue.”

The greatest vulnerability, he said, lies in the northeastern corner of Alberta, the Fort McMurray area that not long ago looked a lot like North Dakota, a nascent boom town that stoked – and continues to stoke – great economic hopes for Canada. But, Mr. Monaco warned, “if you’re in the oil sands and you are the marginal production because you’re the highest cost, this is a big factor. These are big issues.” He is not, however, worried. Enbridge believes it can be the solution by building new pipelines to bring Canadian oil to new markets, both abroad and in U.S. states not served by current pipelines. But it’s hard to find a new pipeline proposal – to the West Coast, to the Gulf Coast, to the East Coast – that is not wrangling with severe political and social skepticism.

And if opponents succeed in stopping or slowing those projects, the outlook is grim: Prices for Canadian oil “will get pushed down to the point that production stops growing,” says Chris Micsak, an oil analyst with Bentek, an international energy forecasting and analysis firm.

So the North Dakota flares are a flickering glimpse of an uncertain future. It’s one that is already arriving. Alberta’s primary export pipeline system is already turning away oil, in part because North Dakota crude is shouldering its way in, prompting some Canadian companies to employ unusual alternatives, including trucking oil into the U.S.

Larger shifts are under way, too. The refining complex in the U.S. Gulf Coast, with its huge capacity to process heavy crude, has long been viewed as virtually the only market the oil sands will ever need. But refiners are already working to cater their operations to light barrels like those found in the giant Bakken field that is fuelling North Dakota’s growth.

And there are signs that corporate spending is shifting. Producers like Suncor Energy Inc. are scaling back growth expectations as they work to shake out excess costs. And as U.S. oil shoulders in on the pipeline network, Canadian oil is backing up and prices are soft. In the third quarter, Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. sold its oil sands crude for just $38.12 a barrel. More Related to this Story