Support the Arctic Sea Ice Forum and Blog

Author Topic: The Third Carbon Age  (Read 6110 times)

JimD

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 2270
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 0
The Third Carbon Age
« on: August 09, 2013, 07:18:54 PM »
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/michael-klare-the-third-carbon-age-drop-the-fantasy-of-a-coming-era-of-renewable-energy.html

I have some arguments with the author, but it is a very interesting read and I thought the readers here would also find it interesting and generate some comments.  Bolds are mine.

Quote
When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems. Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables, just as oil had long since superseded the Age of Coal. ................

Many other experts share this view, assuring us that increased reliance on “clean” natural gas combined with expanded investments in wind and solar power will permit a smooth transition to a green energy future in which humanity will no longer be pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All this sounds promising indeed. There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down. The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables. Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects, mainly involving the exploitation of what are called “unconventional” oil and gas reserves.

The result is indisputable: humanity is not entering a period that will be dominated by renewables. Instead, it is pioneering the third great carbon era, the Age of Unconventional Oil and Gas.......

It’s true that ever more wind farms and solar arrays are being built, but here’s the kicker: investment in unconventional fossil-fuel extraction and distribution is now expected to outpace spending on renewables by a ratio of at least three-to-one in the decades ahead.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an inter-governmental research organization based in Paris, cumulative worldwide investment in new fossil-fuel extraction and processing will total an estimated $22.87 trillion between 2012 and 2035, while investment in renewables, hydropower, and nuclear energy will amount to only $7.32 trillion. In these years, investment in oil alone, at an estimated $10.32 trillion, is expected to exceed spending on wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, hydro, nuclear, and every other form of renewable energy combined.
....

Lots more.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

OldLeatherneck

  • Grease ice
  • Posts: 554
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 07:47:57 PM »
My kneejerk reaction to that is...."OH S*%@!!"[/b

That will doom civilization as we know it!!
"Share Your Knowledge.  It's a Way to Achieve Immortality."  ......the Dalai Lama

ritter

  • Grease ice
  • Posts: 563
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 14
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 10:27:38 PM »
That will doom civilization as we know it!!

Welcome to the pain of eyes wide open.  ;)

JimD: Thanks for excerpts. I follow peak oil with the same nauseating fascination that I follow arctic ice loss and climate change. It is clear we have not heeded the warning signs on any of these impending society-destroying realities. And we make no significant progress toward lessening the thud as we fall off the cliff(s). They are all converging on us within the same lifetime yet we only continue to accelerate them. This is why I am a (relatively) fast crash doomer. We might be able to adapt to one of these, but the convergence of so many catastrophes.... I have little hope that we'll make it through the bottleneck in anyway that we'd recognize as society.

OldLeatherneck

  • Grease ice
  • Posts: 554
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 10:39:34 PM »
That will doom civilization as we know it!!

Welcome to the pain of eyes wide open.  ;)


I haven't followed Peak-Oil as regularly recently as I did for several years.  However, we can be certain that the Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) for producing unconventional oil will be less than 6:1, possibly as low as 3:1 in some cases.  That means that a significantly large percentage of all energy produced is going to be spent producing CO2 spewing fossil fuel energy.

This does not make sense economically, let alone environmentally.
"Share Your Knowledge.  It's a Way to Achieve Immortality."  ......the Dalai Lama

ritter

  • Grease ice
  • Posts: 563
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 14
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 10:46:45 PM »
That will doom civilization as we know it!!

Welcome to the pain of eyes wide open.  ;)


I haven't followed Peak-Oil as regularly recently as I did for several years.  However, we can be certain that the Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) for producing unconventional oil will be less than 6:1, possibly as low as 3:1 in some cases.  That means that a significantly large percentage of all energy produced is going to be spent producing CO2 spewing fossil fuel energy.

This does not make sense economically, let alone environmentally.

Yes, we got a momentary reprieve from peak oil. However, the investment in unconventional makes the same kind of sense as alcoholics and drug addicts. We, as a society, will continue to chase the dragon until its fire burns us beyond recognition.

EROEI is a very important concept that most have no idea of. Same with aquifer depletion, etc.

Oh well. Maybe the tooth fairy will save us. ;D

silkman

  • Frazil ice
  • Posts: 367
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 56
  • Likes Given: 10
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 09:27:16 AM »
As someone whose fifth grandchild is about to enter the world we're creating for him, the concept of a third carbon age is simply terrifying.

The drug analogy is an excellent one; our society is hooked on carbon and doesn't seem to have a mechanism to break the habit.

It's fascinating to watch the current movement of public opinion on fracking in the UK. Opposition is being strongly voiced but it's of the NIMBY variety. Lord Howells, George Osbourne's father in law, went as far last week as to suggest it would be fine as long as it was restricted to "desolate" areas of the North, an opinion shared I suspect by many in the South.

There's scarcely a mention of carbon. Earthquakes are seen as a bigger concern and the immense, long term macro-economic implications relating to future capital investment in energy generation are ignored by the politicians.

The result will be that the UK, already walking gently away from its carbon commitments (the much vaunted Green Deal proving an absolute lemon for example), will invest heavily in new gas fired electricity generation, locking us into our carbon fix for the economic lifespan of the new power stations of 30 years or so whilst claiming that the policy is "almost" green.

In global terms the UK's emissions are minor but what right do we have to expect the Developing World to hold to stringent carbon targets if a mature economy like ours simply moves on to the next legal carbon high? Absolutely none!

« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 09:33:35 AM by Silkman »

pikaia

  • Frazil ice
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 74
  • Likes Given: 39
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2013, 12:22:28 PM »
In the UK, wind farms are paid £30 million per year when they produce more energy than the National Grid can use. Why not reduce the output from gas-fired power stations instead?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2388417/Wind-farms-paid-30-million-year-stand-idle-grid-cope-energy-produce.html

6roucho

  • Frazil ice
  • Posts: 296
  • Finance geek
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2013, 05:23:35 PM »
I have a different view to Klare.

I work as a risk analyst in the energy business. I was once an energy quant in investment banking, and now I have my own business producing software to analyse investment risk.

The relationship between renewable and fossil fuels, and therefore in effect the relationship between high and low carbon energy sources, is driven almost entirely by the market. No matter how well-meaning the intentions of policy makers, the only real effect they can have on what type of energy source is used depends on the price.

Most of the conservationist (as opposed to conservative!) actions of lawmakers are therefore aimed at changing the price, and they have been more or less successful. For example, the Australian carbon tax has had a substantial effect on the mix of investment in the Australian energy market, simply because it has changed the price.

Sadly, the policies of lawmakers come and go. In Australia a conservative government may soon be elected who will undo this good work.

But all is far from lost. The long-term prognosis for the cost of energy produced from renewable sources is excellent. For example, the cost of electricity generated from solar and wind is already at 5c per kw/h in the United States, and if projections are to believed, they will fall to 1c per kw/h over the next 50 years.

This isn't driven by policy, or politics, but the cost of technology. Fuel from the sky or the wind is inherently cheap, because we don't have to pay for it or ship it to plants.

Never forget, the energy from the sun is free. All we need is the technology. And we have the technology now. So don't despair: oil companies may be a potent bogeyman, but the market is a category 5 hurricane that will blow them away.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 05:42:14 PM by 6roucho »

JimD

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 2270
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2013, 04:42:21 PM »
As someone whose fifth grandchild is about to enter the world we're creating for him, the concept of a third carbon age is simply terrifying.

The drug analogy is an excellent one; our society is hooked on carbon and doesn't seem to have a mechanism to break the habit.

It's fascinating to watch the current movement of public opinion on fracking in the UK. Opposition is being strongly voiced but it's of the NIMBY variety. Lord Howells, George Osbourne's father in law, went as far last week as to suggest it would be fine as long as it was restricted to "desolate" areas of the North, an opinion shared I suspect by many in the South.

.......
In global terms the UK's emissions are minor but what right do we have to expect the Developing World to hold to stringent carbon targets if a mature economy like ours simply moves on to the next legal carbon high? Absolutely none!

UK to Launch Fracking Bonanza

Quote
The British government is preparing to offer up fracking licenses across some two-thirds of the UK’s entire territory for shale oil and gas exploration by next summer as London eyes the drilling of over 2,800 new wells.

The shale push would have the potential to supply about 25% of the UK’s annual gas needs and create up to 32,000 jobs, according to a government-commissioned report by engineering giant Amec.

A new map published by the British government on Tuesday shows that shale gas exploration licenses will be made available for almost every county in England on a 37,000-square-mile chunk of territory that stretches from the center of Scotland to the south coast.
.....

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/UK-to-Launch-Fracking-Bonanza.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

  • Guest
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2013, 05:47:38 PM »
You've got shale oil and gas and then you have tar sands. We are like junkies with most of the good veins collapsed by repeated injections. We now resort to shooting up between the toes and under the tongue.

ccgwebmaster

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1085
  • Civilisation collapse - what are you doing?
    • View Profile
    • CCG Website
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2013, 08:52:07 PM »
Never forget, the energy from the sun is free. All we need is the technology. And we have the technology now. So don't despair: oil companies may be a potent bogeyman, but the market is a category 5 hurricane that will blow them away.

But unimaginable amounts of damage are already committed and the market itself is just a little zephyr compared to what the earth system itself will do.

Even that's taking just the climate change as a result of carbon dioxide view into account, there are a whole host of other problems compounding the matter of course.

JimD

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 2270
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: The Third Carbon Age
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2014, 06:31:32 PM »
Exxon Russia Ambitions Show Oil Trumps Obama-Putin Spats

Quote
As Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin argue over human rights in Russia and the fate of fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the countries’ biggest oil companies are preparing to drill for giant discoveries together in the Arctic Ocean.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and OAO Rosneft (ROSN) are set to start their first Arctic well this year, targeting a deposit that may hold more oil than Norway’s North Sea. It will kick off a series of landmark projects and cement an alliance begun in 2011. They also plan to frack shale fields in Siberia, sink a deep-water well in the Black Sea and build a natural-gas export terminal in Russia’s Far East.
....

Sigh!

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-02/exxon-s-russia-ambitions-show-drilling-trumps-obama-putin-spats.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Anne

  • Grease ice
  • Posts: 531
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 13
  • Likes Given: 2
WWF-Canada maps Arctic oil spills
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 03:41:19 PM »
Not sure if this is the best place to post this little bundle of cheer.

WWF-Canada maps Arctic oil spills
Quote
Today, WWF-Canada released new research mapping a range of oil spill scenarios in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, which is home to an incredibly rich diversity of species and key to the livelihood of the region’s Indigenous peoples. The study, which used cutting-edge scientific and modelling technology, is being shared to help advance discussions about development in the Canadian Arctic, informing northern residents and decisions-makers about the potential impacts of spills so they can make well-informed choices to reduce these risks.

The results of the research – including the full report and a summary report – are available at arcticspils.wwf.ca. Site visitors can not only watch oil spills spread but also see how these spills would overlap with areas important for the health of Arctic species and ecosystems, ultimately affecting the local communities that depend on them for so much.

More here: http://www.wwf.ca/newsroom/?uNewsID=15721