Thursday, June 21, 2007

Coal: It's the reason that peak oil dosent matter.

Peak oil is not simply the theory that oil production will peak at some time (that is a statement of fact with a finite resources), rather it is a belief that economically severe consequences will result.

Personally i dont see it, we have concervation, energy efficiency, fuel switching and smarter business between the problem and that predicted result. These options mean that i am not even slightly woried about peak oil.

I mentioned in a previous article that my biggest concern was an increase in carbon intensity as oil runs low. Coal to oil, tar sands and heavy crude are likely to become more significant.

In terms of global energy supplies coal would be encouraged, along with gas, unfortunately we have rather a lot more coal than gas!

These where concerns, today they are being reflected in events around the world. There is a whole lot of lobbying going on in Washington DC in favour of Coal to liquids technology. This would be disasterous...costly subsidies to entrenched power, ohh great. It is telling
that in the US support for coal to liquids by presidential candidates of both parties is virtually unanimous! In China, much to the chargrin of us developed people living >10MtCo2 per capita per year (and often above 20) the are deciding that they want some of what we have, namely higher living standards and a lifestyle that our marketing people have established. In china rapid economic development is being powered by coal. A recent BBC report suggested two power stations a week being built. It's clearly a disastrous state of affairs, but until the developed world (so called) gets its own house in order and outlaws these technologies and takes climate change seriously rather than rhetorically we are in no position to change this.

We are heading towards a cliff and we are stoking the fires with coal.

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At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your concerns. But I still think that oil price shocks are going to cause significant problems. This is because I am convinced that conventional mineral oil has been uniquely cheap, high-density, portable energy - and peak oil means that supply will not longer be able to track demand.

Amanda Baker, UK


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