Energy – Nov 28

November 28, 2010

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

Kjell Aleklett in Australia: Scary new best friend for politicians – Peak oil

Paddy Manning, Sydney Morning Herald
HERE’S cold comfort. It would be impossible, according to the Swedish energy expert Kjell Aleklett, for us to emit enough greenhouse gas to warm the planet by six degrees: we don’t have enough oil, coal or gas to burn.

”All the emissions scenarios that have been put forward over the last 10 years are wrong,” says Aleklett, professor of physics at the University of Uppsala and the world president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change business as usual forecast to 2100, which would result in six degrees of warming, assumes worldwide production of coal could rise 10 times higher than today.

”That can never happen,” says Aleklett, who is on an Australian speaking tour this month and was recently heard on the ABC’s Science Show.

Aleklett says coal production will peak about 2030, and China is peaking about now.

”Ninety per cent of all coal reserves in the world can be found in six countries: the US, India, China, Russia, South Africa and, of course, Australia.

”The whole carbon dioxide emissions problem is only six countries,” he says. ”Those are the drug dealers when it comes to selling coal. If these six countries would stop selling coal there’d be no problem at all.”
Aleklett has been working with a Newcastle University team studying peak fossil fuel production, led by Geoffrey Evans and culminating in a doctoral thesis by the engineer Steve Mohr, summarised on the Oil Drum website (and previewed here last year). Taking into account supply and demand, Mohr’s ”best guess” puts peak oil production in 2011-12, peak coal production by 2019 and peak gas production between 2028 and 2047.

… Aleklett says politicians should welcome the concept of peak oil, which is physical reality: ”Peak oil should be politicians’ best friend. It is something they cannot fix.”
(27 November 2010)

Tom Whipple: What ONE Policy Change Would You Make?

Tom Whipple, Post Carbon Institute
PCI Peak Oil Fellow Tom Whipple answers the question – what one policy change would you make if you could snap your fingers and make it happen? In calling for an immediate tax on oil, Whipple believes that the resulting behavior change would have far-reaching positive economic and environmental benefits.

Tom Whipple is one of the most highly respected analysts of peak oil issues in the United States. A retired 30-year CIA analyst who has been following the peak oil story since 1999, Tom is the editor of the daily Peak Oil News and the weekly Peak Oil Review, both published by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA. He is also a weekly columnist on peak oil issues for the Falls Church News Press. Tom has degrees from Rice University and the London School of Economics.
(27 November 2010)

Energy and immigration

Michael E. Webber and Sheril R. Kirshenbaum, The Boston Globe
Global warming and declining oil production will drive more Mexicans to the United States

THOSE WHO think immigration pressures are bad today are in for a real shock: The combination of climate change and declining Mexican oil production — both of which will strain the personal and public treasuries in Mexico — are likely to magnify the northward pressure. The United States should come to terms with immigration now, before the issue gets intensified. Thankfully, developing good energy policy at home can help relieve immigration pressures from abroad.

… Sophisticated scientific models suggest that Mexico is expected to be hit hard by climate change. Drought and shifts in land use and agriculture are likely to take place. And, as climate change diminishes crop yields and places ever more pressure on limited resources, the rate of immigration to the United States will only increase. A recent paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that the factors related to climate change will lead to millions of new immigrants from Mexico over the coming decades.

But that’s just one part of the equation. We also must consider how a declining energy sector in Mexico will impact the economy.

Consider Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company that produces crude, natural gas, and petroleum products. Pemex is also the government’s greatest source of income, responsible for financing 40 percent of the federal budget.
(26 November 2010)
Related: Mexico, Peak Oil, and Immigration (CNBC)

Why Is Canada Freezing out Geothermal Power?

Mitchell Anderson,
Canadians are some world’s best at advanced exploration and drilling technologies. Not surprisingly, members of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) also produce more than 20 per cent of the world’s geothermal energy. They just don’t do it here. The almost complete absence of government support means that all of this green energy infrastructure in being installed somewhere else. That’s right — the total geothermal energy capacity in Canada is zero.

That is a shame, considering that geothermal energy is a clean, continuous base-load power whose source is the virtually unlimited heat from our planet’s interior. Unlike other renewables such as wind or solar, geothermal plants can operate 24 hours a day, rain or shine.

While the upfront costs for geothermal can be considerable, it is ultimately very cheap energy. According to CanGEA chair and founder Alison Thompson, “it has the lowest levelized cost of any power source in the world, even coal.”

Thompson points out the ironic reason Canadians are so good at geothermal is because there has been so much focus here on fossil fuel extraction. “I come from the oil patch. We have developed enormous expertise in advanced exploration and drilling techniques. These are exactly the skills you need to develop geothermal resources.”

So if Canadians are among the best geothermal experts in the world, why aren’t they doing business here?
(19 November 2010)

Tags: Culture & Behavior, Energy Policy, Fossil Fuels, Geothermal, Oil, Renewable Energy