Category Archives: petroleum

petroleum

IEA Ministers Call for Successful COP 21

18 November 2015: The International Energy Agency (IEA) held its 2015 Ministerial meeting under the theme, ‘Innovation for a Clean, Secure Energy Future.’

According to the Summary of the Chair, Ernest Moniz, US Secretary of Energy, discussions focused on “the critical role that energy sector policies and energy innovation can play to successfully combat climate change.” Among the meeting outcomes was a statement calling for the successful outcome of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC.

The IEA Ministerial Statement on Energy and Climate Change highlights five key opportunities for reducing emissions from the energy sector and advance the date that emissions peak. These opportunities are: increasing energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors; phasing-out the use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants; increasing investment in renewable energy technologies (including hydropower); gradual phasing out of inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies to end-users; and reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production.

In the context of COP 21, the ministers call for explicit recognition and a signal that an energy transformation is necessary to achieve climate goals and that the transformation is underway. They further pledge to support their negotiators to successfully conclude an ambitious agreement.

During the meeting, ministers heard from IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol on three pillars for modernizing the IEA, the first being the opening of the IEA’s doors to membership of emerging economies. On 16 November 2015, Mexico announced its decision to pursue membership of the IEA. The second pillar, according to Birol, is broadening the IEA’s core mandate of energy security, and the third pillar relates to “transforming the Agency to become a global hub for clean energy technologies and energy efficiency.” According to the Chair’s Summary, ministers also noted an analysis by the IEA Secretariat that energy efficiency is the “first fuel” and is supporting economic growth without increasing emissions.

The meeting was held 17-18 November 2015, in Paris, France. All 29 IEA countries were represented by ministers or other high-level officials at the meeting. Nine partner countries and 30 top business executives also attended. [IEA Press Release] [Chair’s Summary] [IEA Ministerial Statement on Energy and Climate Change]

 

Comments Off on IEA Ministers Call for Successful COP 21

Filed under energy security, oil, petroleum

Signs of stress must not be ignored, IEA warns in its new World Energy Outlook

Energy sector must tackle longer-term pressure points before they reach breaking point

Events of the last year have increased many of the long-term uncertainties facing the global energy sector, says the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2014 (WEO-2014). It warns against the risk that current events distract decision makers from recognising and tackling the longer-term signs of stress that are emerging in the energy system.

In the central scenario of WEO-2014, world primary energy demand is 37% higher in 2040, putting more pressure on the global energy system. But this pressure would be even greater if not for efficiency measures that play a vital role in holding back global demand growth. The scenario shows that world demand for two out of the three fossil fuels – coal and oil – essentially reaches a plateau by 2040, although, for both fuels, this global outcome is a result of very different trends across countries. At the same time, renewable energy technologies gain ground rapidly, helped by falling costs and subsidies (estimated at $120 billion in 2013). By 2040, world energy supply is divided into four almost equal parts: low-carbon sources (nuclear and renewables), oil, natural gas and coal.

In an in-depth focus on nuclear power, WEO-2014 sees installed capacity grow by 60% to 2040 in the central scenario, with the increase concentrated heavily in just four countries (China, India, Korea and Russia). Despite this, the share of nuclear power in the global power mix remains well below its historic peak. Nuclear power plays an important strategic role in enhancing energy security for some countries. It also avoids almost four years’ worth of global energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2040. However, nuclear power faces major challenges in competitive markets where there are significant market and regulatory risks, and public acceptance remains a critical issue worldwide. Many countries must also make important decisions regarding the almost 200 nuclear reactors due to be retired by 2040, and how to manage the growing volumes of spent nuclear fuel in the absence of permanent disposal facilities.

“As our global energy system grows and transforms, signs of stress continue to emerge,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “But renewables are expected to go from strength to strength, and it is incredible that we can now see a point where they become the world’s number one source of electricity generation.”

The report sees a positive outlook for renewables, as they are expected to account for nearly half of the global increase in power generation to 2040, and overtake coal as the leading source of electricity. Wind power accounts for the largest share of growth in renewables-based generation, followed by hydropower and solar technologies. However, as the share of wind and solar PV in the world’s power mix quadruples, their integration becomes more challenging both from a technical and market perspective.

World oil supply rises to 104 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2040, but hinges critically on investments in the Middle East. As tight oil output in the United States levels off, and non-OPEC supply falls back in the 2020s, the Middle East becomes the major source of supply growth. Growth in world oil demand slows to a near halt by 2040: demand in many of today’s largest consumers either already being in long-term decline by 2040 (the United States, European Union and Japan) or having essentially reached a plateau (China, Russia and Brazil). China overtakes the United States as the largest oil consumer around 2030 but, as its demand growth slows, India emerges as a key driver of growth, as do sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“A well-supplied oil market in the short-term should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead, as the world is set to rely more heavily on a relatively small number of producing countries,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. “The apparent breathing space provided by rising output in the Americas over the next decade provides little reassurance, given the long lead times of new upstream projects.”

Demand for gas is more than 50% higher in 2040, and it is the only fossil fuel still growing significantly at that time. The United States remains the largest global gas producer, although production levels off in the late-2030s as shale gas output starts to recede. East Africa emerges alongside Qatar, Australia, North America and others as an important source of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is an increasingly important tool for gas security. A key uncertainty for gas outside of North America is whether it can be made available at prices that are low enough to be attractive for consumers and yet high enough to incentivise large investments in supply.

While coal is abundant and its supply relatively secure, its future use is constrained by measures to improve efficiency, tackle local pollution and reduce CO2 emissions. Coal demand is 15% higher in 2040 but growth slows to a near halt in the 2020s. Regional trends vary, with demand reaching a peak in China, dropping by one-third in the United States, but continuing to grow in India.

The global energy system continues to face a major energy poverty crisis. In sub-Saharan Africa (the regional focus of WEO-2014), two out of every three people do not have access to electricity, and this is acting as a severe constraint on economic and social development. Meanwhile, costly fossil-fuel consumption subsidies (estimated at $550 billion in 2013) are often intended to help increase energy access, but fail to help those that need it most and discourage investment in efficiency and renewables.

A critical “sign of stress” is the failure to transform the energy system quickly enough to stem the rise in energy-related CO2 emissions (which grow by one-fifth to 2040) and put the world on a path consistent with a long-term global temperature increase of 2°C. In the central scenario, the entire carbon budget allowed under a 2°C climate trajectory is consumed by 2040, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and ambitious agreement at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

The World Energy Outlook is for sale at the IEA bookshop. Journalists who would like more information should contact ieapressoffice@iea.org.

Download the following resources:

About the IEA

The International Energy Agency is an autonomous organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply. While this remains a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.

Alternative Download

 

Leave a comment

Filed under energy, energy security, oil, petroleum

Renewable Islands: Settings For Success

Islands around the world are heavily reliant on costly oil imports from distant locations which can burden government budgets and inhibit investment in social and economic development.

Indigenous renewable energy resources such as hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal power, bioenergy and wave power can reduce these expensive imports and create important business and employment opportunities.

But how should islands go about attracting the investment to put these resources to use? The case studies in this short report are meant to show that a wide variety of islands in different locations and at different levels of development can all attract investment in cost-effective renewable energy resources through a mix of four key ingredients: » Political priority to attract investment

» Market framework for investment

» Technical planning for investment

» Capacity to implement investment

Political priority to attract investment in renewable energy on an island results from a realisation by its people, its utilities and its leaders that it is paying too much money for electricity and renewable power offers a way out. To be credible and have an impact, the political priority must be clearly articulated by ministers and embodied in legislation.

An effective market framework for investment must ensure that the electricity market is open to participation by all types and sizes of players who could profit by installing renewable power facilities. These include incumbent utilities, independent power producers, and building owners. Regulations should make it profitable for utilities to invest in cost-effective renewable power options. They should also make it possible for independent power producers to invest in such options – directly or through power purchase agreements with the utilities. And they should make it profitable for building owners to install photovoltaic power systems through net metering arrangements whereby the value of electricity they provide to the grid is credited to their electric bill.

Technical planning is needed to ensure that investment in renewable power options is consistent with the economic interests of the island and does not impair the reliability of service. Some sort of integrated resource planning should be done to ensure that an optimal mix of energy options is chosen for the island, to minimise costs within the constraints of preserving the environment, promoting public health, and serving other social objectives. And grid stability analysis is needed to ensure that the grid remains stable and service remains reliable as the share of variable renewable generation grows.

Finally, human capacity building is needed for successful incorporation of renewable power options on island power grids. A variety of skills are needed to plan, finance, manage, operate and maintain the power grid effectively, safely, reliably and economically.

Looking at islands in oceans around the world, this report shows how these four factors have combined to create successful settings for renewable power investment. Download PDF

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under energy, petroleum, renewable

Ex govt adviser: “global market shock” from “oil crash” could hit in 2015

In a new book, former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, identifies five “global systemic risks directly connected to energy” which, he says, together “threaten capital markets and hence the global economy” in a way that could trigger a global crash sometime between 2015 and 2020.

According to Leggett, a wide range of experts and insiders “from diverse sectors spanning academia, industry, the military and the oil industry itself, including until recently the International Energy Agency or, at least, key individuals or factions therein” are expecting an oil crunch “within a few years,” most likely “within a window from 2015 to 2020.”

Interconnected risks

Despite its serious tone, The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance, published by the reputable academic publisher Routledge, makes a compelling and ultimately hopeful case for the prospects of transitioning to a clean energy system in tandem with a new form of sustainable prosperity.

The five risks he highlights cut across oil depletion, carbon emissions, carbon assets, shale gas, and the financial sector:

“A market shock involving any one these would be capable of triggering a tsunami of economic and social problems, and, of course, there is no law of economics that says only one can hit at one time.”

At the heart of these risks, Leggett argues, is our dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuel resources. His wide-ranging analysis pinpoints the possibility of a global oil supply crunch as early as 2015. “Growing numbers of people in and around the oil industry”, he says, privately consider such a forecast to be plausible. “If we are correct, and nothing is done to soften the landing, the twenty-first century is almost certainly heading for an early depression.”

Leggett also highlights the risk of parallel developments in the financial sector:

Growing numbers of financial experts are warning that failure to rein in the financial sector in the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008 makes a second crash almost inevitable.”

A frequent Guardian contributor, Leggett has had a varied career spanning multiple disciplines. A geologist and former oil industry consultant for over a decade whose research on shale was funded by BP and Shell, he joined Greenpeace International in 1989 over concerns about climate change. As the organisation's science director he edited a landmark climate change report published by Oxford University Press.

Industry's bad bet

Leggett points to an expanding body of evidence that what he calls “the incumbency” – “most of the oil and gas industries, their financiers, and their supporters and defenders in public service” – have deliberately exaggerated the quantity of fossil fuel reserves, and the industry's capacity to exploit them. He points to a leaked email from Shell's head of exploration to the CEO, Phil Watts, dated November 2003:

“I am becoming sick and tired of lying about the extent of our reserves issues and the downward revisions that need to be done because of far too aggressive/ optimistic bookings.”

Leggett reports that after admitting that Shell's reserves had been overstated by 20%, Watts still had to “revise them down a further three times.” The company is still reeling from the apparent failure of investments in the US shale gas boom. Last October the Financial Times reported that despite having invested “at least $24bn in so-called unconventional oil and gas in North America”, so far the bet “has yet to pay off.” With its upstream business struggling “to turn a profit”, Shell announced a “strategic review of its US shale portfolio after taking a $2.1bn impairment.” Shell's outgoing CEO Peter Voser admitted that the US shale bet was a big regret: “Unconventionals did not exactly play out as planned.”

Leggett thus remains highly sceptical that shale oil and gas will change the game. Despite “soaring drilling rates,” US tight oil production has lifted “only around a million barrels a day.” As global oil consumption is at around 90 milion barrels a day, with conventional crude depleting “by over four million barrels a day of capacity each year” according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data, tight oil additions “can hardly be material in the global picture.” He reaches a similar verdict for shale gas, which he notes “contributes well under 1% of US transport fuel.”

Even as Prime Minister David Cameron has just reiterated the government's commitment to prioritise shale, Leggett says:

“Shale-gas drilling has dropped off a cliff since 2009. It is only a matter of time now before US shale-gas production falls. This is not material to the timing of a global oil crisis.”

In an interview, he goes further, questioning the very existence of a real North American 'boom': “How it can be that there is a prolonged and sustainable shale boom when so much investment is being written off in America – $32 billion at the last count?”

It is a question that our government, says Leggett, is ignoring.

Crunch time

In his book, Leggett cites a letter he had obtained in 2004 written by the First Secretary for Energy and Environment in the British embassy in Washington, referring to a presentation on oil supply by the leading oil and gas consulting firm, PFC Energy (now owned by IHS, the US government contractor which also owns Cambridge Energy Research Associates). According to Leggett, the diplomat's letter to his colleagues in London reads as follows:

“The presentation drew some gasps from the assembled energy cognoscenti. They predict a peaking of global supply in the face of high demand by as early as 2015. This will lead to a more regionalised oil market, a key role for West African producers, and continued high and volatile prices.” More

 

Leave a comment

Filed under energy, energy security, oil, peak oil, petroleum, solar

ENERGY DARWINISM The Evolution of the Energy Industry

The global energy industry has been transformed in the last five years in ways and to an extent that few would have thought credible.

Of the $9.7 trillion of global investment in Power Generation, 71% will be in renewables or clean technologies.

The emergence of shale gas has transformed the U.S. energy market while Germany has seen some gas-fired power stations running for less than 10 days a year due to the impact of solar leading utility owners to issue profit warnings. Developed markets now spend more on renewable capital expenditures than they do on conventional generation, largely due to uncertainty over commodity pricing and likely future utilisation rates, while the legacy of Fukushima has seen Japan burning gas at $16-17/mmbtu while the U.S. basks in $3 shale, driving the introduction of the world’s most attractive solar subsidy scheme and catapulting Japan to be the world’s second largest solar market.

Conversely, the intermittency of renewables has led to the greater demand for the flexibility of gas-fired power plants in some markets. So, fuel and technology substitution is happening – and not just in developed markets. The shift in emerging markets is less marked, but is nonetheless there. The voracious appetite for power displayed by emerging markets will engender a higher level of new conventional generation (in particular coal), though gas is gradually taking demand from coal and renewables are forecast to represent 10% of new installed power generation capacity in China over the next two years. Despite these shifts, the analysis of individual fuel and technology cost curves – a key determinant in setting the market price – has continued largely on a standalone basis, with limited emphasis on the risks of substitution.

Accordingly, in this report we have combined the work of our alternative energy oil & gas, mining (coal), utility and commodity research teams to create an integrated energy cost curve, which allows us to assess the impact and risks of this substitutional change across all fuel and technology types. Importantly, this integrated curve looks at incremental energy demand and supply, meaning relatively small changes in the mix can have a material impact on the returns of projects, particularly those at the upper end of the cost curve. More

 

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative, energy, petroleum, SIDS

2013 to be Record Year for Offshore Wind

Offshore wind power installations are on track to hit a seventh consecutive annual record in 2013. Developers added 1,080 megawatts of generating capacity in the first half of the year, expanding the world total by 20 percent in just six months.

Fifteen countries host some 6,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. Before the year is out, the world total should exceed 7,100 megawatts. Although still small compared with the roughly 300,000 megawatts of land-based wind power, offshore capacity is growing at close to 40 percent a year.

In 1991, Denmark installed the world’s first offshore wind farm, a 5-megawatt project in the Baltic Sea. The country’s offshore wind sector has since alternated between lulls and bursts of activity. Since 2008, Denmark’s offshore wind capacity has more than tripled, topping 1,200 megawatts by mid-2013. Over 350 megawatts of offshore wind power were plugged into the grid in the first half of the year—all of it to complete the 400-megawatt Anholt project, which is expected to meet 4 percent of Danish electricity needs.

Denmark already gets more than 30 percent of its electricity from wind—onshore and offshore—and aims to increase that share to 50 percent by 2020. At about one third the size of New York State, Denmark has the world’s highest wind power capacity per square mile, so it will rely mostly on offshore expansion to hit the 2020 target.

Denmark was first to put wind turbines in the sea, but today it ranks a distant second to the United Kingdom in total offshore wind generating capacity. More than 500 megawatts of new offshore wind power went online in U.K. waters in the first half of 2013, bringing the country’s grand total to over 3,400 megawatts—enough to power more than 2 million U.K. homes.

The bulk of this new offshore capacity went to completing the 630-megawatt first phase of the London Array, now the world’s largest offshore wind farm. It overtook another U.K. project, the 500-megawatt Greater Gabbard wind farm, which was finished in 2012. In all, the United Kingdom has some 12,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity under construction or in earlier development stages.

Belgium’s offshore wind capacity grew 20 percent to 450 megawatts in the first half of 2013, placing it third in the world rankings. Germany reached 380 megawatts of offshore wind and will have at least 520 megawatts by year’s end. Beyond this, the German offshore industry expects another 1,000 megawatts will connect to the grid in both 2014 and 2015.

Countries in Asia are starting to make offshore wind power more than just a European affair. China, for example, brought its first offshore wind farm online in 2010. Since then, China has quickly climbed to fourth in the world, with 390 megawatts. The official goal is for 5,000 megawatts of wind capacity in Chinese waters by 2015, ballooning to 30,000 megawatts by 2020.

In Japan, where land is at a premium and where the future of nuclear energy is in question, offshore wind is gaining attention as a potentially huge domestic, carbon-free power source. A 16-megawatt project inaugurated in the first half of 2013 bumped Japan’s offshore wind capacity to 41 megawatts.

Because Japan lacks much shallow seabed in which to fix standard offshore turbines, new floating turbine technology is likely the future for offshore wind there. Off the coast of Fukushima prefecture, a 2-megawatt floating turbine will begin generating electricity in November 2013, the first stage of a 16-megawatt demonstration project. If it performs well, the hope is to expand the project’s capacity to up to 1,000 megawatts by 2020.

Floating turbines may actually be a big part of future offshore wind development at the global level. Not only do they greatly expand the area available for wind farms, they also have the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of offshore wind generation, which today is more than twice as expensive as that from turbines on land. While offshore wind manufacturers have managed to achieve cost reductions for the turbines themselves—through lighter, stronger materials and increased efficiency, for example—these savings have thus far been offset by the rising cost of installing and maintaining turbines fixed to the seabed as projects move into deeper waters.

The renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan notes that working around harsh weather becomes much easier with floating turbines: when conditions are favorable, relatively cheap tugboats can bring a turbine to the project site for quick installation, avoiding the need for specialized installation vessels. The turbine can be floated back to shore when the time comes for maintenance, lowering both cost and risk.

The world is gaining experience in using this young technology. In the last few years, Norway’s Statoil and Seattle-based Principle Power have both deployed floating wind prototypes successfully, in Norwegian and Portuguese waters, respectively.

In June 2013, the United States at last joined the offshore wind club when a 20-kilowatt (0.02-megawatt) floating wind turbine anchored off the coast of Maine first sent electricity to the state’s power grid. The turbine developer, DeepCwind, a consortium led by the University of Maine, plans to deploy two much larger versions, 6 megawatts each, in 2016.

The first full-fledged offshore wind farm in the United States, though, will likely be of the traditional variety fixed to a foundation in the seabed. Three proposals—Massachusetts’ 470-megawatt Cape Wind project, Rhode Island’s 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, and New Jersey’s 25-megawatt Fisherman’s Energy I project—are the closest to beginning construction.

U.S. offshore wind’s potential is staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shallow waters along the eastern seaboard could host 530,000 megawatts of wind power, capable of covering more than 40 percent of current U.S. electricity generation. Adding in deeper waters and the other U.S. coastal regions boosts the potential to more than 4.1 million megawatts.

This is consistent with the findings of a 2009 Harvard study that calculated wind energy potential worldwide. The authors estimated that in most of the world’s leading carbon dioxide-emitting countries, available wind resources could easily meet national electricity needs. In fact, offshore wind alone would be sufficient.

Clearly, the world has barely begun to realize its offshore potential. Indeed, in some countries, regulatory and policy uncertainty seem to be sapping offshore wind’s momentum just as it really gets going, clouding the picture for future development. The U.K. government, concerned about costs, recently changed its target date for 18,000 megawatts of offshore wind from 2020 to 2030. In Germany, turbine orders are scarce as developers await the new coalition government’s plans for regulations and incentives. And in China, offshore wind companies say the guaranteed price for the electricity they generate is set too low to stimulate rapid growth, calling into question whether the country can hit its ambitious goals for 2015 and 2020.

Reflecting the hazy outlook in these and other key countries, projections for global offshore wind capacity over the next decade or so—from research and consulting firms and from industry publications—range anywhere from 37,000 to 130,000 megawatts. Despite the impressive growth of recent years, it seems that the lower end of these forecasts is much more likely. We know there is practically no limit to the available resource. What remains to be seen is how quickly the world will harness it and give offshore wind power a more prominent place in the new energy economy.

For more information on wind power, see “After Record 2012, World Wind Power Set to Top 300,000 Megawatts in 2013,” by J. Matthew Roney, at www.earth-policy.org.

Copyright © 2013 Earth Policy Institute – Reblogged with premission

 

Comments Off on 2013 to be Record Year for Offshore Wind

Filed under alternative, energy, energy security, peak oil, petroleum, wind

International Energy Agency’s Fatih Birol on fossil fuel subsidies.

IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol's strong messages at EWEA2013:


“Global fossil-fuel subsidies, which jumped to $523 billion in 2011, are providing an incentive to emit CO2 that is equivalent to $110 per ton”


“However, ladies and gentlemen, I believe the major barrier of the better prospects of wind is not the lack of predictability of the available wind, but the lack of the predictability of government policies, in terms of investment frameworks; My message to the governments here, including own governments: if the government policies about wind energy would be as predictable as the availability of wind, then we would win this game”.


Moreover, Birol said: “Last week, according to our numbers, wind became the third largest source of electricity in China, surpassing nuclear”.

Leave a comment

Filed under oil, petroleum, wind