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Total CEO on peak oil

by Jerome a Paris Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 04:35:07 AM EST

Some of the most explicit words on the topic from the well respected CEO of Total, Thierry Desmarest from a few days ago (Le Monde dated 31 October, already behind sub. wall):

Le problème de l'épuisement des réserves d'hydrocarbures devient crucial. Les plus pessimistes parlent d'un pic de production dès 2010. Quelle est votre analyse de la situation ?Q: The issue of hydrocarbon reserve depletion is becoming crucial. The most pessimistic talk of a prodcution peak as early as 2010. What's your analysis on this?
Les géologues de Total ne croient pas au scénario de l'Agence internationale de l'énergie [AIE], qui prévoit que la production mondiale de brut passera de 85 millions de barils par jour en 2006 à 120 millions de barils en 2030. (...)TD: Total geologists do not believe the scenario of the International Energy Agency whereby oil productino will increase from 85mb/d in 2006 to 120 mb/d in 2030. (...)
Nous pensons que le pic ne sera pas atteint à 120 millions de barils mais plutôt entre 100 et 110 millions. Il faut donc commencer dès maintenant à calmer la demande. Si elle progresse de 2 % par an, on risque d'atteindre le fameux "peak oil" vers 2020 ; si elle est de l'ordre de 1 %, on a dix ans de plus devant nous. Ce délai est important pour préparer la transition et développer des énergies de substitution à l'échelle industrielle.We think that the peak will not be reached at 120 mb/d but rather between 100 and 110 md/d. We have to start right now to slow demand down. If demand grows by 2% per annum, we'll reach the peak by 2020, if it grows by 1%, we'll have 10 more years in front of us. Such a delay is important to prepare a transition and develop substitute energy sources on an industrial scale.
Even if you do not think that he has an optimistic take, the message is absolutely clear: we have to cut demand and work on substitutes RIGHT NOW. How is this not the biggest issue of the day? Every day?


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Nothing left to say on the topic of peak oil or the lack of responsiveness of our politicians?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 08:10:37 AM EST
I was just about to comment "Very true" or something like that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 08:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would have been a most excellent and useful comment.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 08:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to thank you for another great bilingual diary (I love 'em!), but I thought I might not be on topic...

A comment in my local shop today.  Context: I needed a bag to put some things in.  The woman handed me the bag.  As she did so she said.

"Next time, you can put 2p in the charity box for the bag."

"Oh, of course," I said, digging into my pocket, "Here, I've got 10p."

"The world won't be the same for our children," she said, taking the money.

"You can get biodegradable plastic bags now," I said.

"They [I'm not sure if she meant the biodegradable bags] last 22 years in the ground," she said.

"Oh!  Oh," I said.  (Thinking.)  "Here, have the bag back."

But she waved it away.  "You take it.  If you go to the supermarket you can buy one of their bags, and when it wears out they'll give you a new one free of charge."

"Well okay," I said.  "I'll keep this one.  This'll be my bag from now on."

And it is.  My tiny plastic bag for when I need a bag.

All of which is to say that momentum is building...this was a corner shop--a newsagents.  These are the issues she is thinking about and trying to resolve.

And you are a fine part of that process, Jerome.  Thing is, we accept the logic, and are ready (I think) for the next steps...

I would very much (I'm OT, I know, but if I can drag some minds into the diary space--), yes, I would very much like to follow up on Nomad's modelling-up concept, where we start at an (e.g.) Amish level of material subsistence and then see how many modern...aspects we can add on...using wind and solar power only.  (And waves...anything renewable.)

I know the Amish can't produce wind turbines and solar panels, so there's an element of using today's technology to fund a different future, but...let's go with the CEO...let's say we have a window...ten years, twenty years...

How much...modern life?...could we have if, say, wind turbines were planted every 2 km across europe (c.f. Elco B's comment about a belgian village buying a wind turbine)?  What negatives would this have?  What would we lose?

Tie this into...ach...I can hear Starvid getting his nuclear comments ready...

Anyways, that's enough from me.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 08:34:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tie this into...ach...I can hear Starvid getting his nuclear comments ready...

I am that predictable am I? I guess I am. :)

Well, Swedish process industry recently said they will invest 500 million euros in 1 TWh of windpower. They also added that windpower would not be an attractive investment without subsidies. Now I have nothing against certain subsidies (sovereign interest rate loans for example), but these subsidies are not optimal.

They'll also build a new power line to import power from Leningrad RBMK nuclear power plant. What a sucess for Swedish energy policy... ;(


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 02:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read (here?) that Google are placing solar (?) on the roofs of their offices, so maybe businesses will be the first to leap across into decentralised...maybe that's our difference, I just prefer decentralised...more expensive, but with more redundancies in the system (in the sense I understand it from Migeru--less liable to collapse.)

I can't see any negatives from planting wind turbines across Europe at a suitable spacing for some basic level of local energy security.  I think it was you who confirmed in the Maglev train diary that a wind turbine every 3.5 km along a track would power a rail network.  "But why separate them, why not bunch them together?" was your next question...I think.  But for me it's the bunching together that creates the problems, you need more set aside land, the noise levels increase, you need larger support structures.

But but but!  My main thought is that constructing wind turbines at a spacing of, say, one every 2km square of land, from Ireland to the Ukraine--and on into Russia, round the Black Sea, etc... would enable engineers to move out of the oil pipe...for years...and the movement would generate waves, secondary development...I'd like to live near a wind turbine (and I know you enjoy living near a nuclear power station ;), we have one sixty miles down the road...

Decentralisation...it seems Europe has been tasked with being the world's forward thinker (for reasons of political stability and diversity, I think), and if our main problems in years to come are:

--human pollution of the environment

and

--too many humans

I'd say that lowering group sizes is a way to go...but keep the groups connected...a village/town at every wind turbine...you've had enough of where you live?  The next community is a train ride away...3.5 km...I know, fantasy land, but I can't see any technical or environmental reason why Europe can't become a wind turbine plantation...but not in the factory farm sense used at present.  (Every industrial estate could have a pair, that kind of thing...)

Starvid, you're a positivist.  I don't know why I have a prejudice against positivist thought when it comes to nuclear power, except that it doesn't seem to take enough account of the unforseen and non-linear (but hey, I'm reading a book on Chaos Theory, so anyways...  Here's a wind turbine!)



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 05:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My main thought is that constructing wind turbines at a spacing of, say, one every 2km square of land, from Ireland to the Ukraine--and on into Russia, round the Black Sea, etc...

You have to consider the distances involved in building and servicing all these turbines. Putting them all together in a relatively dense field is efficient because of that.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 06:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one of my points: considering a grouping-together as more efficient only makes me think that efficiency is not a helpful concept when talking about a move to a pure-renewable model.  Renewable energy doesn't need efficiencies...as long as there's enough to go round...so more building and servicing = more jobs, more community involvement with their primary source(s) of power, added physical aspect to human life (so many modern ailments are due to sitting down too often and for too long)...etc...

I simply wonder how much energy Europe (wherever its borders lie...;) could produce from a windmill every 2.5 km, but I 'm not good at maths...

And then, once we have that number, following the "from the ground up" model, what necessary services could we provide a bunch of humans with this energy--and to how many humans?  Well, they're the same question the wrong way round, but those are the kinds of questions I'm intersted in...if not for Europe, why not Tanzania, or Mongolia?  A part of the world free to do what it wants (within X, Y,Z limits--hence the questions) thanks to the HUGE nuclear reactor out there...in space (where nuclear belongs...)

I have summarized my discovery of the option to become omnieconomically and sustainably successful on our planet while phasing out forever all use of fossil fuels and atomic generation other than the Sun.

R Buckminster Fuller



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 09:36:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so more building and servicing = more jobs, more community involvement with their primary source(s) of power, added physical aspect to human life (so many modern ailments are due to sitting down too often and for too long)...etc...

And more roads and more heavy vehicles to power.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 09:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?  Don't we have enough roads?  Apart from the structures (which I imagine can be made out of ever lighter materials) which components are going to necessitate all this heaviness?  Even the heavist components could be transported to within a km or so of site via light-rail (? etc.)  Lightweight clip-together rail systems could be used to transport large items from railtrack to site...etc...labour intensive (good!), out in the open (good!), new materials lightening the load (good!)...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 09:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much rail do you need to get within 1km of "the site" if all the turbines are 2km apart from each other? You need 2Km of road/track per turbine!

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 09:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, a simple calculation:

How much infastructure do you currently need to supply/build/etc. the oil/gas/coal system?  Let's say you need that much plus some more to implement a distributed wind-turbine structure.  But you don't need the heaviness (or the width?) and you are talking about dropping (or dragging, or pulling etc.) a descrete number of mechanical parts plus cables to a specific number of locations once-in-X-years.  Let's say X=25.  For the other 24 years and 300 or so days...peace and quiet...the lanes can grow over, vegetable can be planted...the lack of ongoing intensive polluting activity...  For a given area there could be one factory (very small scale) near a train track and connected via communications media to other centres...best practice passed along...ever better and lighter machines helping humans to build an ever better and lighter system...

Sommat like that?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And why not start by placing wind turbines every 2.5 km along existing roads and rail lines?  How much power would that generate?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We talked about this. The point is that going from building along existing transportation infrastructure does not translate into building on a sparse 2D grid.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By we talked about this, do you mean that past discussion on wind power along railways? If yes, you haven't made that point explicitely, and I understood what you were on about only now.

Good point, but re rg, the idea of resurrecting field railways, e.g. temporary tracks, is attractive to me...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, field railways to get to a windfarm site is a great idea.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Small tracks which could be built up to a range of, say, 10 km, then connected up to the nearest wind turbine(s) for power--the ones along the roads if we're thinking of how to get out beyond the current road/rail infastructure.  Then you use the new wind turbine(s) to step out another 10 km in every direction?

How about field maglev tracks?  

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd call it completely unrealistic :-) Field railways were rarely electrified (their whole purpose is to be simple and easily re-layable), and if a field railway is to carry wind turbine parts itself, overhead wire would be in the way of the large pieces. If we want to go non-fossil here, I suggest battery locomotives.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
with the batteries charged by the turbines.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Apart from the structures (which I imagine can be made out of ever lighter materials) which components are going to necessitate all this heaviness?  Even the heavist components could be transported to within a km or so of site via light-rail



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 05:37:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great photo!

It looks very long, what is it, 60m?  I can imagine that a track can be made in 60m-straight sections.  Is it very heavy?  Too heavy for a light-rail solution?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 06:31:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just about bags:  

Reuse is the idea, because even biodegradable requires wasteful production, so producing long-lasting bags should help.

I give terrible stuff like this for gifts: http://tinyurl.com/ubhk2  This example supports a cottage industry, but requires shipping too far, so I am trying to find an African/European source.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:16:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tax them: 15c a go and almost nobody will take them, I promise. Worked a treat in Ireland.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not soon enough in Spain.  I have barely heard it mentioned.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Tue Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is this not the biggest issue of the day? Every day?

Because it can't easily be framed in an entertainment or populartity contest narrative.

And because you don't run the media. ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 12:50:08 PM EST
he does around here!

which is why we have yummy energy articles almost daily....so great....

good points rg about starting amish and adding from there, but making each energy decisions based on how they will affect the next generation, not just short-term.

that's why i'm a digital contadino!

thanks jerome, for not getting distracted...it  IS an elephant, and i can smell it as well as see it!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 6th, 2006 at 08:36:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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