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Royal Society energy conference in London April 10-11

Lord Robert May FRS, Dr Katherine Blundell, Professor Fraser Armstrong and Dr David Vincent, The Royal Society (UK)

Conference: Energy… for the future
Date: Monday 10 to Tuesday 11 April 2006
Location: The Royal Society, London

‘Energy… for the future’ will pose the question: how can we supply energy for the inhabitants of Earth, sufficient to meet everyones needs, without causing serious, irreversible damage to the environment? This is timely as we face the global challenges of addressing climate change, providing a secure and reliable supply of energy and the depletion of oil.

Fossil fuels provide cheap and convenient sources of energy and no single solution can replace them. But unless we change course, developing alternative supplies of energy and address how we use it, the next generations could face dangerous climate change and major restrictions to their lifestyles and economic development with the potential for conflicts over energy supplies.

Our generation – rightly – will be blamed for knowingly squandering the planet’s resources. The input for this meeting will be from leading scientists and engineers representing a whole spectrum of possible energy solutions.
(March 2006)
See the original article for details, registration and Programme (PDF).

Public sees alternative fuels as wave of future

Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup News Service
Americans divided over which institution should be responsible for developing alternative fuels
PRINCETON, NJ — With worldwide demand for oil increasing, there are questions about whether the world’s oil supply will be able to meet future demand. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that most Americans expect oil supplies to eventually run short. The public’s expectation is that, within 30 years, most U.S. automobiles will primarily run on alternative sources of fuel rather than gasoline. Americans lack consensus over whether the government, automobile companies, or oil companies should have the primary responsibility for developing fuel alternatives.

The March 10-12 poll finds that 77% of Americans think the world will eventually run short of oil, while 20% believe the global oil supply will always be able to keep up with demand. Most of the people who think the oil supply is limited believe it will be depleted in the next generation or two — 39% say it will happen in less than 25 years, and another 16% say between 25 years and 50 years. Thirty-six percent believe the supply will run short in 50 years or more, including 14% who believe it will not happen for at least another century.

When the views of all Americans are analyzed — including those who do not think the world will run short of oil — the median estimate of when the supply will run short is 50 years. That means half of Americans think the oil supply will run short in 50 years or less, and half think it will be more than 50 years or will never run out.

…Looking ahead, only 21% of Americans believe most cars will still be powered by gasoline in 30 years, while 76% say most cars will largely run on other types of fuels.
(2X March 2006)
For more polls on energy, see Polls show surging support for action on energy, global warming.

Oil majors plan to spend more as costs soar

Tom Bergin, Reuters
MOSCOW – The biggest western oil firms plan to invest much more in finding and producing oil in 2006 than in 2005 but investors and consumers will be disappointed the extra spending has not translated into higher production targets.

Last year, as oil prices hit new records above $70 per barrel, politicians demanded the big, integrated oil and gas companies invest more of their bumper profits in finding oil, to boost supplies and cool prices.

However, rampant oil services inflation, the need to look for oil in more inhospitable locations and an increased focus on natural gas and heavy oil, which require costlier infrastructure than ordinary crude, mean that while capital expenditure is rising, growth plans are static.
(21 March 2006)

Russia signs gas deal with China

Russia and China have signed an agreement to pipe large quantities of gas from fields in Siberia to China.

Officials said the pipelines, which could begin supply within five years, would deliver up to 80bn cubic metres of gas annually.

The agreement came as part of a raft of economic deals signed between the two sides during the visit to Beijing of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But there was no deal on a separate pipeline to deliver Siberian oil.

Mr Putin said the two sides had agreed on a deal to supply large quantities of gas through two pipelines from fields in west Siberia and the Russian far east.
(21 March 2006)
Related from Associated Press: Hu, Putin Call for Closer Oil Cooperation.

A new grip on reality
Friedman says some conservatives have a new grip on [energy] reality

Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times
One of the most important laws of political debate is this: To name something is to own it. If you can name something, get that name to stick and therefore define how people think about an issue, your opponents don’t stand a chance. One of the most pernicious things that Vice President Dick Cheney and Big Oil have done for years is to define “realism” when it comes to U.S. energy policy – and therefore they have owned the debate.

If you listen to them, they always offer this patronizing, pat-you-on-the-head view about alternative energy – hybrids, wind, solar, ethanol – which goes like this: “Yes, yes, those are all very cute and virtuous, but not realistic. Real men know that oil and fossil fuels are going to dominate our energy usage for a long time, so get used to it.”

Well, here’s what’s encouraging today. There is a split emerging among conservatives on this issue. Not all conservatives are in the pocket of Big Oil. Many evangelicals, led by people like Gary Bauer, are going green – both because they believe that we need to be better stewards of God’s green earth and because they don’t like being dependent for energy on countries that nurse a deep hostility toward the United States.

One of the best speeches I’ve ever read about the necessity of breaking America’s oil addiction now, and redefining “realism,” was delivered by Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Brookings Institution on March 13. Drop what you are doing and read it at .
(21 March 2006)
Fridman’s column is behind a subscription wall. You can go directly to a PDF of Lugar’s speech. David Roberts has some commentary at Gristmill: The Mustache and Lugar.