Monday, March 22, 2010

Feasta Tipping Point Report and the New Emergency Conference

Feasta aims to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose.

Feasta has released a new report Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production, by David Korowicz of Feasta and the Risk/Resilience Network, is now available for download. The report argues that the defining dynamic of our civilisation is the withdrawal of energy from a complex and integrated system adapted only to growing. A managed "de-growth" is impossible; what is required is rapid emergency planning coupled with a plan for longer-term adaptation.

Feasta organized The New Emergeny Conference last year. The videos of all of the presentations from the conference can now be viewed for free on the conference website.

This conference, marking Feasta's tenth anniversary, analysed the systems and the mindsets that have steered the world onto its grotesquely unsustainable current path. Discussions focussed on the new systems (financial, energy, food) and ways of thinking that are urgently required to correct the situation and bring about a rapid transition to a more secure future. Many of the ideas explored were Feasta's. Others were presented by international speakers who broadly share Feasta's analysis of what needs to be done to build a truly sustainable world.

That's it for the 100th post on the Energy Crash blog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Global Wind Power Boom Continues Despite Economic Woes

China doubles installed capacity for fifth year running – Global markets up 31%

Brussels, 3 February 2010. The Global Wind Energy Council today announced that the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 GW to bring total installations up to 157.9 GW. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year of over 100% growth.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install. Wind power has become the power technology of choice a growing number of countries around the world,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “Copenhagen didn’t bring us any closer to a global price on carbon, but wind energy continued to grow due to national energy policy in our main markets and also because many governments in prioritised renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans,” he said.

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2009 was worth about 45 bn EUR or 63 bn US$. GWEC estimates that around half a million people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.

The main markets driving this significant growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009.

China was the world’s largest market in 2009, nearly doubling its wind generation capacity from 12.1 GW in 2008 to 25.1 GW at the end of 2009 with new capacity additions of 13 GW.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit CO2 emissions while providing energy for its growing economy. China is putting strong efforts into developing the country’s tremendous wind resource. Given the current growth rates, it can be expected that the even the unofficial target of 150 GW will be met well ahead of 2020,” said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

Newly added capacity of 1,270 MW in India and some smaller additions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan make Asia the biggest regional market for wind energy in 2009, with more than 14 GW of new capacity.

However, the US continues to have a comfortable lead in terms of total installed capacity. Against all expectations, the US wind energy market installed nearly 10 GW in 2009, increasing the country’s installed capacity by 39% and bringing the total installed, grid-connected capacity to 35 GW. In early 2009, some analysts had foreseen a drop in wind power development of as much as 50%, but the implementation of the US Recovery Act with its strong focus on wind energy development in the summer reversed this trend.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.”

Europe, which has traditionally been the world’s largest market for wind energy development, continued to see strong growth, also exceeding expectations. In 2009, 10.5 GW were installed in Europe, led by Spain (2.5GW) and Germany (1.9 GW). Italy, France and the UK all added more than 1 GW of new wind capacity each.

“It is a remarkable result in a difficult year” said Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association. “The figures, once again, confirm that wind power, together with other renewable energy technologies and a shift from coal to gas, are delivering massive European carbon reductions, while creating much needed economic activity and new jobs for Europe’s citizens.”

“Wind energy is already making a significant contribution to saving CO2 emissions. The 158GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2009 will produce 340 TWh of clean electricity and save 204 million tons of CO2 every year,” concluded Sawyer. “As we see in Europe and the US, wind power is now often the most attractive option for new power generation, both in economic and environmental terms, and for improved supply security.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twin Threats to Resource Scarcity: Oil & Water by Matthew Simmons

Matthew R. Simmons had a recent speech at Marsh’s National Oil Companies’ Conference 2010. The presentation: Twin Threats to Resource Scarcity: Oil & Water is available online on the web page of Simmons & Company International.

A post on The Business Insider called it Matthew Simmons' Awesome Presentation On The Coming Oil & Water Shortage.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Energy Solution Ideas of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Each year a distinguished jury will award a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

A Design Science Revolution

Buckminster Fuller's prolific life of exploration, discovery, invention and teaching was driven by his intention “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”

Fuller coupled this intention with a pioneering approach aimed at solving complex problems. This approach, which he called “comprehensive anticipatory design science”, combined an emphasis on individual initiative and integrity with whole systems thinking, scientific rigor and faithful reliance on nature's underlying principles. The designs he is best known for (the geodesic dome, the Dymaxion house, car, and map, and the global electric grid) were part of a visionary strategy to redesign the inter-related systems of shelter, transportation and energy.

After decades of tracking world resources, innovations in science and technology, and human needs, Fuller asserted that options exist to successfully surmount the crises of unprecedented scope and complexity facing all humanity – he issued an urgent call for a design science revolution to make the world work for all.

Answering this call is what the Buckminster Fuller Challenge is all about.

Energy Solutions in the Idea Index

The Idea Index serves as a tool to educate, network, and help solve problems. As an educational tool, the Index is full of hopeful, exciting ideas and solutions to pressing problems. As a networking tool, the Index allows site visitors to contact the project leaders, leave a constructive and/or encouraging comment and connect with one another. It presents a fully searchable database of socially-responsible initiatives, in all stages of development, in need of further funding and support.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Idea Index currently lists 38 projects related to Energy problems and solutions. Some examples:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forecasting World Crude Oil Production Using Multicyclic Hubbert Model

A new oil forecast research from Kuwait

The year 2008 has witnessed unprecedented fluctuations in the oil prices. During the first three-quarters, the oil price abruptly increased to $140/bbl, a level that has never been reached before; then because of the global economic crisis, the price dramatically plunged to less than $50/bbl by the end of the year losing more than 64% of the maximum price in less than three months period. The supply of crude oil to the international market oscillated to follow suite according to the law of supply and demand. This behavior affected oil production in all exporting countries. Nonetheless, the demand for crude oil in some developing countries, such as China and India, has increased in the past few years because of the rapid growth in the transportation sector in addition to the absence of viable economic alternatives for fossil fuel. The rapid growth in fuel demand has forced the policy makers worldwide to include uninterrupted crude oil supply as a vital priority in their economic and strategic planning.

Even though forecasting should be handled with extreme caution, it is always desirable to look ahead as far as possible to make an intellectual judgment on the future supplies of crude oil. Over the years, accurate prediction of oil production was confronted by fluctuating ecological, economical, and political factors, which imposed many restrictions on its exploration, transportation, and supply and demand. The objective of this study is to develop a forecasting model to predict world crude oil supply with better accuracy than the existing models. Even though our approach originates from Hubbert model, it overcomes the limitations and restrictions associated with the original Hubbert model. As opposed to Hubbert single-cycle model, our model has more than one cycle depending on the historical oil production trend and known oil reserves. The presented method is a viable tool to predict the peak oil production rate and time. The model is simple, accurate, and totally data driven, which allows a continuous updating once new data are available. The analysis of 47 major oil producing countries estimates the world’s ultimate crude oil reserve by 2140 BSTB and the remaining recoverable oil by 1161 BSTB. The world production is estimated to peak in 2014 at a rate of 79 MMSTB/D. OPEC has remaining reserve of 909 BSTB, which is about 78% of the world reserves. OPEC production is expected to peak in 2026 at a rate of 53 MMSTB/D. On the basis of 2005 world crude oil production and current recovery techniques, the world oil reserves are being depleted at an annual rate of 2.1%.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Life After Growth - Managing our Way to a Desirable Future

What if the economy doesn't recover?

Richard Heinberg has a new article about the limits to growth on the Post Carbon Institute and shorter version on The Oil Drum. The main part of it is summarized in the following four propositions.

1. We have reached the end of economic growth as we have known it. The “growth” we are talking about consists of the expansion of the overall size of the economy (with more people being served and more money changing hands) and of the quantities of energy and material goods flowing through it. The economic crisis that began in 2008 was both foreseeable and inevitable, and it marks a permanent, fundamental break from past decades—a period in which economists adopted the unrealistic view that perpetual economic growth is necessary and also possible to achieve.

As we will see, there are fundamental constraints to ongoing economic expansion, and the world is beginning to encounter those constraints. This is not to say the U.S. or the world will never see another quarter or year of growth relative to the previous year. Rather, the point is that when the bumps are averaged out, the general trend-line of the economy (measured in terms of production and consumption of real goods) will be level or downward rather than upward from now on.

2. The basic factors that will inevitably shape whatever replaces the growth economy are knowable. To survive and thrive for long, societies have to operate within the planet’s budget of sustainably extractable resources. This means that even if we don’t know exactly what a desirable post-growth economy and lifestyle will look like, we know enough to begin working toward them.

3. It is possible for economies to persist for centuries or millennia with no or minimal growth. That is how most economies operated until recent times. If billions of people (cumulatively) through countless generations lived without economic growth, we can do so as well—now and far into the future. The end of growth does not mean the end of the world.

4. Life in a non-growing economy can be fulfilling, interesting, and secure. The absence of growth does not imply a lack of change or improvement. Within a non-growing or equilibrium economy, there can still be a continuous development of practical skills, artistic expression, and technology.

In fact, some historians and social scientists argue that life in an equilibrium economy can be superior to life in a fast-growing economy: while growth creates opportunities for some, it also typically intensifies competition—there are big winners and big losers, and (as in most boom towns) the quality of relations within the community can suffer as a result. Within a non-growing economy it is possible to maximize benefits and reduce factors leading to decay, but doing so will require pursuing appropriate goals: instead of more, we must strive for better; rather than promoting increased economic activity for its own sake, we must emphasize whatever increases quality of life without stoking consumption. One way to do this is to reinvent and redefine growth itself.

You can read the full article linked at the top of this post.