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Energy realism: ExxonMobil and wind

by Jerome a Paris Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 04:41:31 AM EST


Every year, energy giant ExxonMobil presents its own "Outlook for Energy", its view of the world's energy future until 2030. Although ExxonMobil's outlook is based on essentially the same historical data as similar "outlook" reports from the International Energy Agency in Paris and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in Washington, it offers in many ways a different - and fascinating - perspective on the world. It may well be - although this is something no one can say for sure - a more realistic, anticipatory vision than the one offered by the "official" energy institutions.

The realists at ExxonMobil, unsurprisingly, see continued dominance of fossil fuels over the next 25 years - coming mainly from growth in emerging markets as rich countries. There's a lot of interesting data in the full report (6MB PDF!), but I especially like this graph:


Source: European Energy Review
In dotted lines: the price of coal- and gas-fired electricity without any carbon pricing. Note that this is based on unknown fuel price hypotheses, but given how the report writes about the abundance of natural gas, one can expect them not to be too high...
Click for larger version

In other words, wind power is already amongst the cheapest source of electricity, and if any minimal accouting for some externalities is put in place (such as a price for carbon emissions), it becomes the cheapest. Of course, as we know, "cheapest" does not necessarily translate into "most profitable."

And as an aside, they are also sayign that carbon capture will never make any kind of sense.

And it's not me saying it, but ExxonMobil.

front-paged by afew


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European Tribune - Comments - Energy realism: ExxonMobil and wind

And as an aside, they are also sayign that carbon capture will never make any kind of sense.

And it's not me saying it, but ExxonMobil

It's interesting to see my intuition that CCS is bollocks, confirmed by such treehuggers.

Mind you, pricing carbon in CO2 rather than in energy is bollocks as well.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:00:01 PM EST
At the business level, CCS is not bollocks, it is effective greenwashing and PR. Effective, that is, until a company is found resisting demands that its new coal plant project be converted to CCS, as happened in Hamburg.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:02:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My sense is that there are serious questions about basic feasibility of CCS if implemented at the required scale to capture CO2 from fossil fuels. I seriously doubt that any of the current coal, oil or gas companies would place a significant bet on CCS on any basis other than PR.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 09:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the hydrogen fuel cells and corn ethanol of the power industry.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 11:01:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"2009 Cents/kWhr"

  1. US dollar cents or EUro-cents?
  2. kWhr... it's like "kph" for km/h. Why can't American companies and government organs get SI unit acronyms right even in official releases?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:06:22 PM EST
I'm 99% certain that's USD producer cost.  Not the price for the consumer.  

One of the things that I've noticed about my electric company is that they aren't raising generation costs, they are tacking on higher distribution and delivery charges.  So although the quoted generation cost is only $0.04/kWh, I pay $0.147/kwh overall on my bill once those other costs are added in.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fees are a favorite for them.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 09:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very cool.

I'm supposed to be on a panel for Coal Week here talking about renewables. The coal folks have been pushing this idea of clean coal. I'm definitely going to yank this for when I talk.

I wonder whether they are including the carbon costs of production (digging/pumping it out of the ground, transport, etc) as well as use in electric plants (the actual emissions from burning)?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:18:59 PM EST
When they talk about fossil fuels remaining dominant for 25 years, I presume they mean coal and gas more than oil.

However, wouldn't that imply that, at some point in the next few years, the price of gas will have to de-couple from that of oil in order to remain competitive. Yet who might initiate such a thing, as it would not be in the producer state's interests to do so.

It also puts the UK's continued insitence on the Dash for Gas in an interesting light.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 03:17:04 PM EST
They may be referring to tar sands, etc.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 02:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just by eyeballing the graph you can get an idea of the price range of gas and coal. If we assume (back-of-envelope-style):

The graph shows a range of electricity price using gas of 5 - 7.5 cents/kWh.

1m2 of natural gas (methane) contains ~10kWh of energy and the power plant is 40% efficient, so 1m2 gives 4kWh of electricity. That means the estimated price of producing electricity by gas is 20-30cents/m2 of gas. Note that this is the cost to the power plant operator per m2 consumed, which means the price of gas + running costs.

A quick googling shows that the price of Russian
 gas in Dec. 2009 was ~23cents/m2 .

I don't know if the gas fired power plant efficiency is realistic but if you use the expected price increase from $30/ton CO2 you get a figure for the efficiency about 40% (but the error bars are too big to fit into the comment box).

For coal the price range is 7-9cents/kWh. High-quality coal contains ~9kWh/kg. Again with 40% efficiency that translates into 2.5-3.2cents per kg of coal ($25-32/ton), again neglecting non-fuel costs in production.

Real capricorns don't believe in astrology.

by tomhuld (thomas punkt huld at jrc punkt it) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 03:20:23 PM EST

Daily energy use: the 3 bars are hosuehold use, personal vehicles, and indirect use.

The most amazing (as in: different from everybody else) one is the size of the personal vehicle related consumption in North America.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 06:57:52 AM EST

ExxonMobil expects bascially flat energy consumption in the West, and sharply growing elsewhere.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 06:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Amongst interesting predictions:

  • no growth in coal use (this, despite the fact that pretty much ALL growth in primary energy production over the past 10 years has come from Chinese coal producton increases);
  • the biggest source of emissions growth is increased gas consumption in the power sector (of course, ExxonMobil has positioned itself on the gas sector lately).


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 07:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The oil part of that supply graph looks like wishful thinking to me.

For that matter, so does the size and duration of the slump following the 2008 Panic.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 11:17:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

ExxonMobil sees subsantial efforts in terms of the energy intensity of our economies, both in the OECD and elsewhere, and absolute declines in emissions from the West.

Of course, this is largely BAU, somewhat constrained by vaguely greener rules, and it's insufficient.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 07:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Nissan-Renault head Carlos Ghosn's zero emission goal

"I think the trends we're seeing are all pointing in the same direction," he says.
"Oil is a challenge, both price and availability.
"Regulations about environments are going to get tougher and tougher.
"I think the new generation is much more demanding about respect for the environment than we have ever imagined."


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 09:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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