For SmartPlanet this week, I updated the story on U.S. shale gas production and prices, and the increasingly dubious prospect of LNG exports at a large scale. Read it here: The murky future of U.S. shale gas
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For SmartPlanet this week, I took a fresh look at how large percentages of renewable power are affecting Europe’s grids, and reviewed some new academic research on grid management strategies. Most of the typical objections to using more renewable power on the grid are simply wrong. Read it here: Designing the grid for renewables
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For SmartPlanet this week, I did another deep data dive to check the claim that improved vehicle efficiency has been largely responsible for the decline in U.S. oil consumption since 2005. My conclusion: Probably not. Read it here: Has vehicle efficiency really curbed U.S. oil demand?
An administrative note: My SmartPlanet column has been moved to a different section called The Take, under the Technology tab instead of the Energy tab. My older pieces there are still located under the Energy Futurist section. But you can find all of my SmartPlanet articles in both sections by searching by my name.
For SmartPlanet this week, I evaluated the energy policies of President Obama and Governor Romney. The U.S. presidential candidates offer two radically different directions into the future. Which one would take us into prosperity? Read it here: Obama vs. Romney: Who has the best energy plan?
Plenty of ink has already been spilled about Mitt Romney’s so-called energy plan, released yesterday, so I will not offer a comprehensive critique of it. But a few additional observations are in order.
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For SmartPlanet this week, I detailed the water demands of power production and the power demands of water production as power plants are forced to shut down in the drought and record heat of 2012. Read it here: The energy-water nexus, 2012 edition
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This is a guest post from my pals at Open4Energy, a site dedicated to exposing consumer energy scams and offering good, vetted energy information to consumers. I almost never allow guests posts here, but this is an important subject that’s outside the bounds of my usual work and I think it’s worth highlighting, particularly as we are seeing a fresh bloom of consumer energy scams sprouting up online. If you see something online about some magical device (or worse, a book and DVD set that offers to tell you how to build one) that promises to make your household energy independent for under $100, save yourself some grief: Go to Open4Energy and do a little homework before being suckered!
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I made a guest appearance on the Extraenvironmentalist podcast this week, to talk about how the oil and gas industry works, peak oil, and my larger vision of the future of energy and energy transition. My friend Gregor Macdonald was also featured on the show.
I’ve been a big fan of this podcast for quite some time now, with its “doom without the gloom” focus. They really zero in on the important subjects and the best thinkers and writers on them, with excellent production values. (They also make some really fun “mixtapes” of hip music and clips from great speakers of the past.) The hosts are Justin Ritchie, who is finishing his Masters degree in nanotechnology materials engineering at the University of British Columbia and headed for a PhD in resource management and environmental systems, and Seth Moser-Katz, a multimedia journalist who works at Duke University in Chapel Hill, NC. These guys really show how the current generation of university students are far more tuned in to our challenges and coming to grips with them in a fearless, clear-eyed way than older generations are, without losing their optimism or sense of humor. (Don’t miss their faux 6-Hour Energy commercial at the end of this episode.) If there is hope for our future, it’s in the hands of people like them. In addition to the Twitter accounts of the hosts, linked above, you can follow the Twitter account for the show at xenvironmental.
I encourage you to fire up this podcast and check it out, along with their archive of past episodes. (If the inline player quits halfway on you, as it did for me, try downloading it or listening to it on iTunes.) It’s here: Extraenvironmentalist Episode #47: Power Transition
For SmartPlanet this week, I dug up some data on lobbying spending by the fossil fuel industry and the renewable energy industry, along with a few recent reports about additional efforts by the fossil fuel industry to tear down renewables and subvert the debate and the science on climate change. In conclusion, I speculated that the renewables industry is probably being outspent by around 100 to 1. Read it here: Energy policy: Follow the money
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For SmartPlanet this week, I discussed the European market for North American wood pellets, which they are increasingly using for power generation. It’s a fascinating market that gets very little coverage in the American press, but exploiting our full export potential will require infrastructure investment in freight rail and ports, which in turn will create jobs and enable a more general transport infrastructure that uses less energy and delivers a wide spectrum of ancillary benefits to the U.S. economy. Read it here: The missing link to a $7 billion market
I had a longish critique published at FT Alphaville (an online publication of the Financial Times) today, of the widely-heralded recent report by Harvard’s Leonardo Maugeri, “Oil: The Next Revolution.” It’s unavoidably technical and wonky, but hopefully still readable by non-wonks.
Read it here: Is peak oil dead?
Postscript, August 6, 2012: Rich Turcotte assembled a useful, if tongue-in-cheek summary of links to the credulous mainstream media coverage of the Maugeri report, as well as the responses from the peak oil camp. It’s a fine snapshot of the peak oil debate at this point in time.
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My first piece for the Economist Intelligence Unit (a sister publication to The Economist) is up today, discussing the outlook for U.S. LNG exports. Read it here: USA gas: fluid markets
I argue that LNG exports will be modest in the near term and questionable in the long term, given the current unprofitability of dry natural gas production and the uncertainty that implies for future production. The prospect of adding more than 50% of additional gas demand from LNG exports should give us pause (data here). Alert readers will note that this is a substantial increase from the projects that were approved back in January, when I last discussed the subject (see: The siren song of LNG exports).
Coincidentally, Platts reported today that according to Baker Hughes data, the U.S. gas rig count is now at 518, the lowest since August 1999.
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For SmartPlanet this week, I explored the energy side of California’s high-speed rail plan. I found that the energy savings of the HSR system would be greater than the entire state’s wind generation, that it would help close the yawning gap between the state’s energy supply and demand, and that in a future of declining oil supply, would prove to be a critical lifeline. Read it here: California’s high-speed rail as an energy lifeline
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For SmartPlanet this week, I highlighted the example of Lancaster, California to outline how local communities can move ahead on climate solutions and true energy independence now that global climate policy efforts have failed.
Read it here: All energy and climate solutions are local
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For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed why unconventional oil pushes oil prices higher, and forecasted oil prices through 2014 and beyond. Read it here: The future of oil prices
Oil pumpjack with solar tower in background
We’re all familiar with solar as a way to generate electricity and hot water, but now it is being tested as a way to produce oil in one of America’s oldest oil fields. I recently took a Chevron-sponsored trip to their demonstration plant near Coalinga, in California’s Central Valley. The plant is the first in the world to try using steam generated by a solar thermal plant for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). (more…)
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For SmartPlanet this week, I mused on the stories we tell about our energy future, and explored some behavioral and cognitive research about how we think, and the power of storytelling. Read it here: Storytelling our energy future
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For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed eight recent public opinion polls from around the world, along with a handful of recent news reports and several research papers on solar costs, and found that fossil fuel industry money is no longer able to stop the energy transition juggernaut. The age of renewables has arrived. Read it here: The energy transition juggernaut
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For SmartPlanet this week, I dug into the details of U.S. oil supply in an attempt to figure out how much if it is actually usable as vehicle fuel, and discount the energy content of natural gas liquids and biofuels so they can be accurately compared to oil. I conclude that on this basis, U.S. “oil” production is being routinely overstated by about one-third. Read it here: Fuel to Byrne
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I appeared on the Financial Sense with Jim Puplava program today, to discuss the influence of spare capacity and speculators on oil prices; recent reports from the IEA and EIA; the shifting of global oil demand from West to East; and the role of unconventional fuels.
You can download the show (26 mins) here: RealPlayer | WinAmp | Windows Media | MP3
Related articles that came up in the discussion:
Scoring the rhetoric on Obama’s energy policies
Oil demand shift: Asia takes over
A model of oil prices
The cost of new oil supply
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