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Page added on May 30, 2014

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Energy Crunch: What’s the big picture?

Energy Crunch: What’s the big picture? thumbnail
  1. Chart: Putting Weald shale oil in perspective – total recoverable reserves amount to less than half the UK’s annual demand:
Source: The Carbon Brief
  1. ArticleU.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96% – The Monterey Shale formation contains about two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil reserves. It had been seen as an enormous bonanza
  1. Chart: $44 trillion cost of decarbonising the energy system is offset by over $115 trillion in fuel savings:
Source: IEA
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Hopes of a shale bonanza to replace dwindling conventional resources took a battering this week. In the UK the British Geological Society released its estimate of the shale resource in the Weald Basin (Kent, Hampshire, Sussex), concluding that it has no meaningful gas, and between 2 and 8.5 billion barrels of oil in place. It may sound a lot, but of that only 5-10% of the oil resource is likely to be recoverable, which would amount to less than half of UK annual demand. Undeterred, the government continued with efforts to boost fracking by proposing changes to trespass laws and increasing compensation for communities that allow the drillers in.
If the UK Weald assessment was disappointing for fracking advocates, imagine the embarrassment of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), forced this week to slash its estimate of the recoverable oil in the Monterey shale play in California by a whopping 96%, or 13 billion barrels. It turns out the previous estimate was based on the assumption that California’s geology would be as simple as that of North Dakota, whereas it is in fact far more complicated. At the same time, there were also reports that many shale companies across the US are struggling financiallybecause of the constant drilling required to counter vertiginous well decline rates. Yet again, shale is the victim of its own hype.
In an otherwise bleak report about the world’s chronic failure to invest enough in clean energy, some encouraging news came this week from the International Energy Agency. It once again demonstrated that the economic case for transition is incontestable. We would need to invest an extra $44 trillion to secure clean energy future by 2050, they say, but that would be far outweighed by fuel savings of $115 trillion. If only our politicians could stop obsessing about short term shale and raise their gaze to the big picture.

New Economics Foundation



8 Comments on "Energy Crunch: What’s the big picture?"

  1. J-Gav on Fri, 30th May 2014 10:39 am 

    I can’t say whether their cost vs savings $X trillions estimates are correct but one thing is clear: Popping off about reserves before taking the geology into consideration is not a clever move.

  2. meld on Fri, 30th May 2014 12:07 pm 

    Geez the renewables zealots are just as bad as the fossil fuel zealots. We’re surrounded by nutters. At least the oil zealots are based in reality, be that “evil” or not.

  3. bob on Fri, 30th May 2014 1:07 pm 

    yeah!! hate those renewable zealots!!!

  4. HARM on Fri, 30th May 2014 1:40 pm 

    Can anyone define “renewable zealot”? Is that someone who goes door to door and tries to proselytize you into joining the Church of Gaia?

  5. GregT on Fri, 30th May 2014 1:55 pm 

    “We would need to invest an extra $44 trillion to secure clean energy future by 2050”

    Too bad we don’t have until 2050. We’ll be lucky if we make it to 2030.

    “If only our politicians could stop obsessing about short term shale and raise their gaze to the big picture.”

    Apparently, our politicians are not the only ones unable to see the ‘big picture’.

  6. Dave Thompson on Fri, 30th May 2014 2:48 pm 

    BAU will continue and then it will end. Good Luck folks.

  7. meld on Fri, 30th May 2014 3:55 pm 

    renewables zealots are people who are firmly ensconced in the church of progress, they simply believe that the almighty power of the sun and wind will take them up to the heavens rather than the dirty devilish oil of the underworld.

    In other words we have two sides of the same religion. The devil worshippers (fossil fuels industry) and the righteous who pray to the holy lord of infinite clean energy (renewables industry).

    And who says humans would overcome religion to bring about a saner world? bullshit, they just projected their need for religion onto new symbols and icons.

  8. Juan Pueblo on Sat, 31st May 2014 6:23 am 

    Things will keep getting worse until long after I am gone.
    Carpe Diem

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