I am not convinced that we are at peak oil/liquids and if it does occur I believe that it will not do severe damage to the economies of the developed countries or China.
In the event of a peak in oil, the most vulnerable countries have a lot of oil imports. Oil producing countries would cut back on exports of oil at a faster rate. The USA imports 12 million bpd out of about 20.6 million bpd consumed. Japan imports 5.1 million bpd out of 5.6 million bpd consumed. China imports 3.4 million bpd out of 7.3 million bpd consumed. Germany and south Korea are next on the list.
We are seeing some problems that are being made worse because by the Iraq war and potential of war with Iran. Most projections of the peak are for a substantial plateau. Any demand destruction would hit poorer countries first.
The initial step is conservation. Dropping speed limits back to 55mph on highways.
750,000 gallons per day.
Instituting other conservation measures.
No drive days. One day a week retail store closures.
More government imposed and assisted telecommuting.
Satellite office programs.
Carpooling, transit, odd-even and other measures can reduce fuel usage by 8-15% right away and several can be sustained without harming the economy. A mid-term transition would be to require and setup satellite offices and wifi buses and trains (so that people could be productive while traveling on transit)
Those steps were in the first part of my transitioning from oil article.
10-20% reduction with those conservation measures. 2-4 million barrels per day for the USA.
I see no indications that such measures for 4 years would not be sufficient to allow ANWR and the new gulf oil to get spun up. Then the shale oil, biofuels and more oilsands and more electrification and high efficiency vehicles.
ANWR 800,000 bpd by 2018, gulf Oil brazil – maybe 1 million bpd by 2015, Chevron -gulf of Mexico Maybe 700,000 bpd by 2012, Shell oil shale – maybe 1.5 million bpd by 2025, other significant deep oil possible of coasts of africa and asia, Canada will still be exporting oil from oilsands in the pipelines to the USA.
IF Iraq and Iran get stable they each could produce about 6 million bpd, which is 6 million bpd more than they do now. A more desperate big country with a big military could super-surge double down to make that happen.
I believe that China also has the means to conserve and use its $1.4 trillion in reserves to ride out a rapid transition.
The best technologies for moderating peak oil would be better oil recovery (enhanced oil recovery) like Toe to heel air injection
There are other means of enhanced oil recovery. Actually carbon sequestering into old fields enhances oil recovery.
The material on the Petrobank web site indicates that it is expected that THAI will recover 70% to 80% of oil originally in place. If 10% of the oil originally in place is burned in the process, this would leave 10% to 20% of the oil originally in place in the ground.
By comparison, recovery using current steam processes is estimated to be 20% to 50% in the high-grade, homogeneous areas where steam methods can be used.
Summarizing the near term transitioning from oil steps (from now out 5+ years). Conserve. Use and develop alternative liquids (biofuels, fuel from shale). Drill everywhere like ANWR (Enhanced oil recovery, don’t fall back to coal, but go hard for more oil and a nuclear/electric switch). Use electrical transportation. China has 60 million electric cycles and scooters already. (existing batteries good enough for bikes and scooters)
Then there is the transition to far greater efficiency in the mid-term 2010-2025
Thermoelectronics, I see as big from 2010+ making engines and society more efficient
Superconductoring motors for industrial efficiency and for improved power grid efficiency and reliability.
Improved industrial processes and direct current long haul power lines would also help.
More power, nuclear fission, wind, and maybe fusion
If we do not get good nuclear fusion then the world and China will build a lot of nuclear fission.
I also like the kitegen system for wind power and think it would work and be cheaper and better. There will also be 10MW superconducting wind generators.
I discuss the nuclear plans of China, India and Russia
China’s nuclear build is accelerating, with interior provinces likely to get reactors.
China’s big hydro build and more renewables for China
I go into detail about scaling up nuclear fission by a lot. I also discuss how “nuclear waste” is unburned nuclear fuel. The right reactors (which have been built before) would burn it all.
Worst case oil problems trigger a four year crash program transition and a deep recession. Weaker countries in Africa etc… are hit the most.
Nuclear Fusion best bets in my view : Bussard fusion, Tri alpha energy colliding beam fusion, Z-pinch rapid fire, Hyper (laser fusion)
To summarize the overall plan: conserve, drill more, use enhanced oil recovery, switch to more efficient electrical transportation, switch to more efficient systems (thermoelectric, superconductors) and develop nuclear fission, wind and fusion.
Changing the USA energy production mix
Over 20 years, a replacement energy mix scenario for the USA is (total needed power is in the range of 5200 billion kwh for electricity and then a similar amount for transportation. Need to replace as much of the 80% of the power that is produced by coal and oil as possible.):
160 new 2GW nuclear plants (up-rated 1.55 GW reactors) with 16.25 billion kWh each. 2600 billion kWh
600 billion kWh from up-rating of existing nuclear reactors (increased from original article because of MIT and other research on generating a lot more power from current nuclear plants)
400 billion kWh from wind
200 billion kWh from solar
34 billion kWh from superconductor motor industrial efficiency
1000 billion kwh from thermoelectronic and other efficiency technology (new)
There is a new IEA plan for stabilizing world CO2 at the 450 parts per million level for less global warming.
Nuclear capacity under this projection would more than double from its current capacity to 833 GW by 2030. Even if this increase were to happen, nuclear would account for only 16% of the necessary reductions in CO2 emissions worldwide. This should speak to the monstrous challenge the world faces in curbing CO2 emissions. Improved fossil-fuel efficiency would account for 27% of the reductions; end-use energy efficiency would provide 13%; biofuels for transportation, 4%; renewables for power, 19%; and CO2 capture and storage, 21%.
The USA, China, Japan, S korea, Russia, Europe and Canada would be the ones who would be needing to step up and install a lot more nuclear power.
The climate bill passages in the US and Europe and even faster building in the interior of China could combine to increase power by another 800GW by 2030. 1.6 TW.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
Comments are closed.