Friday, March 29, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
IRENA’s announces that their latest study on international standardisation for renewable energy technologies is publically available at:
IRENA’s report “International Standardisation in the Field of Renewable Energy” helps understanding how standards support a sustainable and accelerated deployment of renewable energy technologies, presents the current landscape of RET standards, and provides a number of recommendations to address identified needs and gaps in standardisation for renewables. The study identifies over 570 standards in the current RET landscape, yet finds gaps in the existing standards, particularly for post-installation aspects of RET, such as operation, maintenance and repair. It calls for a more structured information platform to make appropriate standards accessible to a variety of users. All stakeholders, including those from developing countries, need to be engaged in the standardisation process. IRENA’s analysis also underlines the importance of RET certification schemes as a risk-mitigation tool, particularly to help small-scale projects obtain financing. More
What simple tool offers the entire world an extended energy supply, increased energy security, lower carbon emissions, cleaner air and extra time to mitigate climate change? Energy efficiency. What's more, higher efficiency can avoid infrastructure investment, cut energy bills, improve health, increase competitiveness and enhance consumer welfare -- all while more than paying for itself.
|Maria van der Hoeven|
The challenge is getting governments, industry and citizens to take the first steps towards making these savings in energy and money.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long spearheaded a global move toward improved energy efficiency policy and technology in buildings, appliances, transport and industry, as well as end-use applications such as lighting. That's because the core of our mandate is energy security -- the uninterrupted availability of energy at an affordable price. Greater efficiency is a principal way to strengthen that security: it reduces reliance on energy supply, especially imports, for economic growth; mitigates threats to energy security from climate change; and lessens the global economy's exposure to disruptions in fossil fuel supply.
In short, energy efficiency makes sense.
In 2006, the IEA presented to the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations its 25 energy efficiency recommendations, which identify best practice and policy approaches to realize the full potential of energy efficiency for our member countries. Every two years, the Agency reports on the gains made by member countries, and today we are working with a growing number of international organizations, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the German sustainable development cooperation services provider GIZ.
The opportunities of this "invisible fuel" are many and rich. More than half of the potential savings in industry and a whopping 80 percent of opportunities in the buildings sector worldwide remain untouched. The 25 recommendations, if adopted fully by all 28 IEA members, would save $1 trillion in annual energy costs as well as deliver incalculable security benefits in terms of energy supply and environmental protection.
Achieving even a small fraction of those gains does not require new technological breakthroughs or ruinous capital outlays: the know-how exists, and the investments generate positive returns in fuel savings and increased economic growth. What is required is foresight, patience, changed habits and the removal of the barriers to implementation of measures that are economically viable. For instance, as the World Energy Outlook 2012 demonstrates, investing less than $12 trillion in more energy-efficient technologies would not only quickly pay for itself through reduced energy costs, it would also increase cumulative economic output to 2035 by $18 trillion worldwide.
While current efforts come nowhere close to realizing the full benefits that efficiency offers, some countries are taking big steps forward. Members of the European Union have pledged to cut energy demand by 20 percent by 2020, while Japan plans to trim its electricity consumption 10 percent by 2030. China is committed to reducing the amount of energy needed for each unit of gross domestic product by 16 percent in the next two years. The United States has leaped to the forefront in transportation efficiency standards with new fuel economy rules that could more than double vehicle fuel consumption.
Such transitions entail challenges for policy, and experience shows that government and the private sector must work together to achieve the sustainability goals that societies demand, learning what works and what does not, and following the right path to optimal deployment of technology. Looking forward, energy efficiency will play a vital role in the transition to the secure and sustainable energy future that we all seek. The most secure energy is the barrel or megawatt we never have to use. More
Maria van der Hoeven is the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. This commentary appeared first this month inIEA Energy, the Agency's journal.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Bethesda, Maryland -- Caribbean nations face an uncertain energy future. With an energy infrastructure designed in the era of low-priced and abundant oil, many of these nations depend almost entirely on petroleum to supply their electricity demands. With oil prices hovering between $90 and $110 a barrel and projected to rise, island nations reliant on heavy fuel oil for their electrical generation are being hard hit.
“The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are almost 100 percent dependent on imported fuel,” says Adam Warren of the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL). According to Bill Scanlon of NREL, in the USVI, electricity prices average US$0.35/kWh and are four to five times higher than prices paid in the continental U.S. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of price volatility; prices reached a peak of $0.50/kWh during 2008, according to Scanlon. Such electricity prices are crippling to USVI residents, who have an average annual household income of $22,000. The USVI are not alone. The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are also fully dependent on petroleum imports for their electric supply and also suffer from high, volatile electricity rates. Even the larger islands struggle with high electricity prices. Puerto Rico uses petroleum to generate nearly 70 percent of its power, leading to electricity prices which are twice those of the U.S. mainland.
To look at it from another angle, Caribbean nations have, according to the World Bank, a per capita GNI of only $8,134, yet the average electricity price is a staggering $0.34/kWh with current data showing even higher prices. This is clearly not a sustainable model, particularly with the predicted demand growth in the next 20 years.
The lack of diversified power generation leaves Caribbean islands vulnerable to commodity market volatility, while the lack of new development leaves islands reliant on outdated, sometimes unreliable power plants. The key to reducing and stabilizing electricity prices on Caribbean islands is therefore to install a diversified and modern electrical generation portfolio. Some would argue that renewable energy systems should not be a part of the energy portfolio until they are cost competitive with fossil fuel generation. The notion that grid parity can or should be used as a benchmark is a fundamentally flawed standard, however. An electrical generation portfolio, similar to a stock portfolio, must be balanced to perform efficiently and without excessive volatility. A balanced energy portfolio can be achieved by carefully choosing both traditional and renewable generation to supply each island’s unique generation profile. While there will always be a place for traditional generation in a country’s power portfolio, the Caribbean islands provide a unique opportunity for renewables. Renewable energy can help to diversify electrical generation while stabilizing electrical prices and supply for islands; however, issues with scale, grid stability, and access to capital have to be overcome.
Many islands are planning or already have small scale renewable energy installations, including Puerto Rico, Barbados, Jamaica and Grenada. The USVI, which issued a request for proposals for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects at the beginning of 2011, recently announced the awardees that will install the first grid-connected utility scale solar power plants: SunEdison, Lanco, and Toshiba. However, there has yet to be effective large scale diversification of power sources or implementation of renewable energy projects in the Caribbean.
This is partially because many Caribbean islands lack an appropriate, consistent regulatory framework. Efforts are underway to help resolve this issue. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP) was founded in 1998 by 16 Caribbean nations to remove barriers to the use of renewable energy and thereby foster its development and commercialization throughout the Caribbean. CREDP has assisted with renewable energy policy reform in Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The larger issue hindering large-scale renewable energy deployments, however, is scale. While Caribbean nations have quite significant renewable energy potential, most have small demand. The deployment of renewable projects at adequate scale will help to both attract international interest and to effectively diversify the energy portfolio. To build up enough scale, therefore, Caribbean islands must cooperate to form larger economic impact zones. Such cooperation has begun with organizations like the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARELIC), among others. Formed in 1989, CARELIC is a regional association of electric utilities comprised of thirty-three utility members from thirty countries in the Caribbean region. Even larger unions must be formed. By establishing cooperative measures, Caribbean utilities can take advantage of cheaper goods, gain access to cheaper capital, and pique the interest of independent power producers (IPPs) and developers worldwide. By creating economies of scale, Caribbean utilities can drive prices down, allowing for efficient investment in each island’s power sector.
If renewable energy projects are to be built at larger scales and contribute a greater portion of the Caribbean islands’ energy portfolio, grid operators on Caribbean islands must institute measures to support the integration of variable generation sources onto their grids. The majority of island networks are old, with the average diesel generators more than 20 years old. Furthermore, the power supply is relatively inefficient with high system losses. There is a need to identify technical criteria and designs that will allow grid stability to be maintained. Two power issues of particular concern are power output and frequency smoothing.
As a case study, consider Miyako Island of Okinawa, Japan. This island has a generation profile similar to many Caribbean islands, with a peak demand of 50 MW and 74 MW of gas and diesel power plants supplying the majority of its electricity. The island is promoting a microgrid project, integrating a 4.2 MW wind project and a 4 MW solar PV installation with 4.1 MW of batteries. Miyako Island illustrates the ability of batteries to provide power output and frequency smoothing. The batteries are able to ensure grid stability, helping to limit frequency fluctuations and accommodate varying outputs from the solar and wind projects. Future study on the island will attempt to determine the optimal ratio of variable generation to batteries to maintain grid integrity. More
Thursday, March 21, 2013
The event is the preeminent meeting place for international leaders and energy experts at the forefront of the clean energy movement. Securing energy independence and developing a clean energy industry that promotes the vitality of our planet are two reasons why it is critical to reaffirm already established partnerships and build new ones throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo and the Islands & Isolated Communities Congress provide a forum for the high-level global networking necessary to advance this emerging clean energy culture. Read our 2012 attendee testimonials at right. More
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Energy efficiency has been widely recognized as one of the most cost-effective option to mitigate climate change.
But the implementation of energy efficiency has been far short of the potential due to a number of barriers, including those related to financing energy efficiency projects. What are these barriers and how have governments and international donor agencies attempted to overcome them? This webinar reviews the international experience with financing mechanisms such as energy efficiency funds, utility DSM and consumer financing, dedicated credit lines, risk-sharing programs, performance contracting and ESCOs, and equity funds. It presents a summary of the major lessons learned and recommends how a country can adapt the international experience to its local conditions.
About the Speaker:
Dilip Limaye is Senior Energy Efficiency Specialist and a Consultant to the World Bank Institute and the World Bank with the expertise in energy efficiency policies, regulations, financing and implementation strategies. He has also been a consultant to other international agencies such as ADB, USAID, UNDP, UNEP, IEA, and IFC. His recent work has focused on the development of innovative financing mechanisms for scaling up the implementation of clean energy projects, particularly energy efficiency. He is the co-author of a forthcoming World Bank book on clean energy financing. He has published several papers and made many presentations at international conferences on the subject of energy efficiency financing and implementation. More
Monday, March 18, 2013
Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found.
Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report's author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.
"If windfarms were intrinsically unhealthy or dangerous in some way, we would expect to see complaints applying to all of them, but in fact there is a large number where there have been no complaints at all," Chapman said.
The report, which is the first study of the history of complaints about windfarms in Australia, found that 63% had never been subject to noise or health complaints. In the state of Western Australia, where there are 13 windfarms, there have been no complaints.
The study shows that the majority of complaints (68%) have come from residents near five windfarms that have been heavily targeted by opponent groups. The report says more than 80% of complaints about health and noise began after 2009 when the groups "began to add health concerns to their wider opposition".
"In the preceding years health or noise complaints were rare despite large and small turbined wind farms having operated for many years," it says.
According to Chapman, when windfarms started being built in Australia about 20 years ago some of the anti-wind lobby was driven by people who simply did not like the look of them.
"Then in about 2009 things started ramping up and these people discovered if you started saying it was a health problem, a lot more people would sit up and pay attention. It's essentially a sociological phenomenon," he said.
Giving the illness a name like "wind turbine syndrome" and "vibro-acoustic disease" had been a key feature in its spread, Chapman said. He accepted that some people genuinely felt ill but "where you set up an expectation in people that something in their environment is noxious, that can translate into an expression of symptoms".
The findings run against the claims of the Waubra Foundation, a national group that opposes windfarms and says serious medical conditions have been identified in people living, working or visiting within six miles (10km) of wind turbine developments. The group says the onset of conditions including sleep deprivation, hypertension, heart attacks and depression correspond directly with the operation of the windfarms.
Waubra's chief executive, Sarah Laurie, said illnesses resulting from exposure to windfarms were "an inconvenient truth".
"There's been an attitude that the people who are getting sick are collateral damage," she said.
"People are not getting sick because someone tells them they're going to become unwell. They're waking up in the middle of the night and suffering from sleep deprivation because something is waking them up."
Laurie, who trained as a rural GP, said it was important that more research was done so we have a better understanding of exactly what's going on.
"No evidence doesn't mean no problem. It means the evidence hasn't been collected because the research hasn't been done," she said.
Chapman said that if wind farms did genuinely make people ill there would by now be a large body of medical evidence that would preclude putting them near inhabited areas. Eighteen reviews of the research literature on wind turbines and health published since 2003 had all reached the broad conclusion that there was very little evidence they were directly harmful to health. More
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Iran, Pakistan Begin Border Gas Pipe Amid Sanctions Threat
Fourth Geneva Convention, Part 111, Article 32- 33
Art. 32. The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents.
Art. 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions collective punishments are a war crime. By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and World War II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, the Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that occured in them. Additional concern also addressed the United States' atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the war's end, which, in turn, caused death and disease to hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to "intimidatory measures to terrorize the population" in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices "strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice."
It could therefore be argued that sanctions are a type of economic warfare, in which case the Geneva Conventions should apply. Therefore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, Part 111, Article 33 would apply, prohibiting any measure to cause physical suffering to Protected Persons. Editor
Friday, March 8, 2013
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Jordan is close to commissioning two nuclear reactors, to be built about 100 kilometers south of the Syrian border, as atomic energy spreads through the Arab world, even as uprisings convulse the region.
|King Abdullah of Jordan|
Amman will decide next month which of competing Russian and French-Japanese led consortiums will build two one-gigawatt nuclear reactors near the capital at an estimated cost of 12 billion euros, said Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
Jordan’s plans highlight the political stakes of the increasing interest in nuclear power in and around the gulf region, particularly among oil-rich but energy-hungry regimes such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Toukan said in an interview that the shortlist was a “neck-and-neck” contest between a bid led by Russia’s Rosatom and another headed by Areva of France and Japan’s Mitsubishi.
He said Jordan’s nuclear efforts were driven by its almost total dependence on oil and gas imports for energy generation and a domestic energy shortfall estimated to reach 6.8 gigawatts by 2030. The country, a hereditary monarchy of 6.25 million people, is economically troubled and has been plagued by sporadic unrest since the start of the uprisings that began to sweep the Arab world more than two years ago.
“We are living now in an energy crisis, a very serious crisis,” Toukan said.
While it was unclear how the Jordan project would be financed, insiders said it was given impetus by seed funding drawn from a broad development aid grant given to Jordan by the UAE. A Jordanian nuclear delegation is visiting the UAE this week. Observers said the UAE government was keen to help Amman because it wanted access to the country’s atomic fuel reserves and technical expertise for its own project to build four nuclear reactors with a total 5.6-gigawatt capacity by 2020.
“They [Jordan] have uranium — and they are churning out nuclear qualified engineers,” said one person familiar with the matter.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., which is implementing the UAE’s nuclear program, said there had been “positive conversations to explore collaboration opportunities” with Jordan, although no contractual or financial commitments had been signed.
The UAE nuclear plan is the most advanced of several in oil-rich gulf states, whose petrodollars mean they have capital to invest.
Officials in Saudi Arabia, the gulf region’s biggest power, have floated plans to build 16 reactors by 2030.
But the stop-start history of Jordan’s nuclear program shows the potential political obstacles facing Arab states’ atomic ambitions.
Amman had hoped to choose a building consortium in late 2011, but Jordan’s King Abdullah accused Israel last year of trying to derail the initiative by warning off potential partners. Israel dismissed the charge. Shaul Horev, head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said in September that his country supported “the use of nuclear power by its neighbors to meet their energy and water needs.”
Amman has declined to sign an accord with Washington that, like a similar document agreed between the UAE and the United States, would commit it to not enriching uranium as part of its nuclear plan.
Toukan said while Amman had signed international commitments on nuclear nonproliferation, it would not ink a bilateral deal with the United States on enrichment.
“We can’t accept this,” Toukan said. “We will not agree to sign any agreement that infringes on our sovereign rights or our international rights under any treaties.”
The United States has insisted that it will not allow Jordan to enrich uranium because of what it sees as the risk of proliferation in a volatile region made more insecure by conflict in Syria and growing tensions over Iran. Continued Jordanian resistance to U.S. wishes could cause problems with Congress and with Israel.
Washington remains keen to do a deal with Jordan, one of its key allies in the region and, apart from Egypt, the only Arab state to have a peace treaty with Israel. Washington also wants the accord because it would open up opportunities for U.S. companies, which Jordan would otherwise be forbidden from hiring.
Jordan has historically been so dependent on U.S. financial and political support that few observers see it as able to deny Washington’s wishes, making some kind of face-saving deal the likeliest outcome. More
Andy Revkin recently published a post on his Dot Earth blog titled A Communications Scholar Analyzes Bill McKibben’s Path on Climate. In one of the videos that is embedded in the article, Matthew Nisbet describes Bill McKibben as a public intellectual and compares his activism on climate to that of Rachel Carson on the effects of pesticide chemicals.
|Nuclear Submarine Under Ice|
Revkin provides this quote about the video:
There’s a lot of value in this short statement, including this framing explaining why global warming has been challenging for all kinds of communicators to address: Unlike conventional environmental problems like acid rain or the ozone hole, climate change is not conventionally solvable. It’s more a problem like poverty or public health — something that we’re going to do better or worse at. We’re never going to end, we’re never going to solve it.
Though I am not a New York Times columnist or the founder of a large and growing non profit like350.org, I am vain enough to believe that I have something to offer on the topic of solving climate change. Instead of describing the work of scientists and trying to synthesize the solutions offered by technologists into some kind of coherent story to convince people that they should both care and take some action, I spend my early morning hours writing about a powerful tool that is based on my own research and experience.
Nuclear fission energy has almost magical properties. It provides massive quantities of the useful ability to do work (that is the technical definition of “energy”) without producing any greenhouse gases at all. It provides that incredibly valuable product from a tiny quantity of naturally occurring material that has few competing commercial uses. We have known about this gift for just 75 years, but within just a couple of decades after it was discovered it was already powering cities, large, fast ships and submarines.
The current fear of nuclear energy is a purely man-made construct; there is nothing natural about being afraid of a force that you cannot see, smell or taste and that rarely, if ever, harms anyone as long as it is properly handled. Anyone who has raised children knows that they are naturally fearless; they have to be taught caution around such dangerous objects as lighted fireplaces, neighborhood streets full of automobiles, and edges of a high wall.
Human beings had to be taught to fear nuclear energy. Despite what some might tell you, it was not an easy thing to do; in the first few decades after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the images and experiences of the bomb were freshest in the public’s mind, the support for using atomic energy was almost universal. People recognized that any fuel powerful enough to knock down a city with a single blow was powerful enough to solve many pressing energy challenges.
However, the sustained effort to teach people to be afraid of nuclear energy – instead of respecting its power and using its force for good – has been pretty successful in many places, including Vermont, the place that McKibben calls home. It continues to frustrate me when people who claim to be almost solely focused on fighting climate change and the fossil fuels whose use is a huge contribution to the problem refuse to acknowledge that their fear of nuclear energy is hampering their ability to succeed in their self-assigned mission.
Here is a comment that I left on Dot Earth in which I made my case that McKibben is simply not serious enough about climate change to overcome an imposed phobia or take the time to learn just why he and his followers have been taught to have that fear. I wonder if he ever stops to think about how his reluctance to use nuclear energy plays into the hands of the fossil fuel companies whose behavior he is trying to alter through his divestment campaign?
Though I applaud McKibben for his success in focusing attention on a “wicked” challenge, I continue to wonder why he has chosen to avoid support for the best available tool.
Fission can directly replace oil, gas and coal in many applications including power plants, district heating, industrial process heat and ship propulsion. On January 17, 1955, nuclear fission power demonstrated that it was capable of supplying reliable power in the most challenging environment imaginable – a sealed, submerged submarine full of breathing human beings.
In a world where we need reliable power to continue to do work and where we obviously need to take action to make that power cleaner, I fail to understand why climate activists like McKibben are so fearful of nuclear energy.
The technology, despite the scary stories told in the hydrocarbon advertiser-supported media, has a respectable safety record. There have been few, if any instances of anyone in the public ever being harmed by radiation released from a nuclear power plant. There are 0 cases of anyone being harmed by fine particulates, 0 environments being damaged by acid rain, and 0 fish being polluted by mercury released from nuclear plant smokestacks. (There are no nuclear plant smoke stacks.) More
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This is where we stand, and it's a fairly bleak view: "Peak oil" -- the concept that the globe's oil supplies are finite and will, perhaps sooner rather than later, run out entirely -- is almost here.
Nothing new (with the possible but unlikely exception of Iraq) is coming online anytime soon. And while the clock is ticking, forward movement on developing renewable energy resources has been sadly inadequate. In the meantime, the idea that shale reservoirs will lead the US to energy independence will soon enough be recognized as unrealistic hype. There are no easy solutions, no viable quick fixes, and no magic fluids. Yet the future isn't all doom and gloom: Certain energy technologies do show promise. We had a chance to speak with well-known energy expert Dave Summers, where we cut through the media noise and take a realistic look at what our energy future holds.
Dr. Dave Summers — scientist, prolific writer and author of "Waterjetting Technology" — is the co-founder of energy discussion website The Oil Drum and currently writes at the popular energy blog Bit Tooth Energy. From a family of nine generations of coal miners, Summers' patented waterjetting technology enables the high-speed drilling of small holes through the earth, among other applications.
Oilprice.com: What do you foresee in our energy future? Will new extraction techniques and advances in drilling technology help put off peak oil?
Dave Summers: Most of the "innovation" in energy extraction from underground has been known for some time. It's just taken time to work its way through to large-scale market use. There are techniques such as in-situ combustion, whether of coal or oil sand, that are now being developed that show some promise. But each increment of gain is at higher cost, and is chasing after a smaller target volume. Even if better methods of drilling were developed (and we have looked at several) in the cost of overall production this would not, in itself, provide that much benefit.
If ways could be found to economically release more hydrocarbon from existing and drilled reservoirs, then that might have a significant impact, but though this has been sought after with lots of effort, there has been no magic fluid or way of doing that yet.
Peak oil is about here. Though we can argue about fractions of a million barrels of day, it is hard to find any large volumes that can be expected to come onto the market in the next decade (with the possible, though unlikely, exception of Iraq). The clock on this has been ticking for some time, and some of the moves toward increasing renewable energy sources (though motivated by a different driver) have helped mitigate some of the problem, but sadly not enough.
Oilprice.com: Can the shale boom be replicated in Europe?
Dave Summers: The technology for developing the hydrocarbon volumes in tight shales and sands is now becoming well defined, and can thus be transferred to Europe. It will likely make that transition fairly quickly. That's why some countries have American partners in their development. However, the environmental movement that is strongly against the technology is more entrenched, and has more political clout in Europe, so this may slow the transfer.
At the same time, though there are significant volumes of shale, it is only after wells have been drilled and fracked that one can get an estimate as to whether or not the resource can be turned into a reserve. This information is still a bit sparse, and it makes it difficult to be definitive at this time.
Oilprice.com: Is the Keystone XL pipeline vital to the US quest for energy independence?
Dave Summers: The pipeline is something that is a convenience in getting more oil from Canada into U.S. refineries. There are other steps (pipelines now flowing backwards for example) that are being taken to deal with the situation. As long as the sole export market for the oil is into the United States, Canada has to take the price that it is offered for the oil, or not sell it. Should a second sales path (such as a pipeline to the coast) allow significant sales to other customers (say China) then the price will likely go up, and supplies to the US will get more expensive, and potentially smaller.
Oilprice.com: What happens if Keystone isn't approved – is there a plan B?
Dave Summers: On whose part? The Canadians will run a pipeline to the coast and make more money over time. In the short term, the US will be able to balance any shortfalls with domestic production, but in about three years, as that starts to fall off, then life might get more difficult. It takes a long time to develop a new resource.
Oilprice.com: How much of a role will fracking play in US efforts to reduce carbon emissions?
Dave Summers: Well, that is a little bit of a loaded question. Any drop in carbon dioxide levels that will come from changing from coal-fired power stations to gas-fired is not really going to be significant on a global level, and the changes are more likely be market driven, than for political reasons.
It is hard to see, basic operational costs being what they are, that the low price for natural gas can be sustained that much longer. Any slippage in the supply, however, will drive the price up and that will cause a re-equilibriation of the market. How that plays out against political considerations in the Eastern states is, as yet, anybody's guess. More