80% by 2050?

Inel points us to a report by the IPPR, WWF and RSPB claiming that we can cut our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. My immeadiate reaction is doubt. Comparing their numbers with what I had from a previous post, I don’t see any reason to change my mind.

Inel, rather naughtily to my mind, simply posts the report without offering any comment, which is a cop-out.

So where do these people get their numbers? Fig 4 (p 14) shows that by 2050 electricity will be more than half gas CCS (carbon capture and storage), and most of the rest a mixture of wind and biofuels. Their estimates for wind are high but not impossible: if David Mackays figures are correct (and he is a professor of maths at a university of big sums) it corresponds to a wind farm 1 km thick all the way around the coastline of the UK. As to gas CCS… hmm. Will be still be able to afford to generate electricity from gas in 2050? Especially if we have to add extra for the capture? Coal CCS seems more plausible. But this is very speculative, there are ?no? operational plants at the moment.

So much for ‘lectric. Meanwhile, transport: fuel use in cars decreases by about 40%, whilst essentially all the fuel switches to bio-stuff. Hmm. Aviation is magically capped at its 2010 values, and… oh. Thats it. Wot about domestic heating. Oh: “zero carbon electricity replacing natural gas as the energy source for space and water heating.” More magic? ‘lectric only goes up by 200 TWh by 2050 to supply all this.

I’d like to see someone a bit more compentent… an engineer perhaps :-), take a proper look at their numbers.

[Update: thanks to MW for pointing out Vattenfalls plans. I’ll assume those are state of the art. In which case the Sota is that they are building a pilot plant, hope to have a demo plant by 2015 and a 300 MW commercial plant by 2020. Its good that they are doing it, but also clear that its at a rather early stage. Granted its not rocket science, and what is to be done is probably reasonably clear; nonetheless it seems unreasonable to be assuming this stuff will work economically just yet. Interesting note: rather than seperate out the CO2 from the waste gases, they burn the fuel in pure O2, so the output is nearly pure CO2. Then you need to find an old oilfield to dump it into -W]

Comments

  1. #1 mz
    2007/11/05

    Where will the biofuels come from? Remember that food still has to be grown as well.
    Also, making electricity from burning stuff with low efficiency, and then using that electricity for heating doesn’t make sense. CHP would be much better for starters.

  2. #2 Hank Roberts
    2007/11/06

    The actual report used to ‘inform the analysis’ costs £10.95:

    “…. download the report by Professor Dennis Anderson of Imperial College, London that ippr commissioned, with WWF and RSPB, to inform the analysis in 2050 Vision: Policies for a Low Carbon UK Energy System….”

    http://www.ippr.org/shoppingbasket/index.asp

    That would be 22.8202 USD at the moment, and rising as the dollar plummets (grin).

    Is there a real climate scientist willing to read and comment on it? I’ll chip in, oh, a third, if so.

  3. #3 Magnus W
    2007/11/06

    Swedish Vattenfall is trying out CCS in germany and Statoil is running it out in the sea (not sour if they also capture some of the gas outside the “snövit” (Snow white) area). It’s mainly about creating a high enough artificial price with taxes or cap and trade to make it profitable.

    [Statoil isn’t capturing it from a power plant exhaust, though -W]

  4. #4 chrisl
    2007/11/06

    William: Part of the reason YOU won’t help get us below 80% is because of your previous bonfire post
    Be ashamed, be very ashamed

    [I’m not sure – isn’t it better to burn it than let it decompose into methane? -W]

  5. #5 Magnus W
    2007/11/06

    True, but it’s the same principles. Vattenfall is working on that but as I said the main problem is to raise the CO2 price so much that it will be profitable. One big problem is that you haven’t got a good geological profile on every site where a power plant is running and starting to transport the gas could drive the price a bit to high for the publics taste…

  6. #6 Adam
    2007/11/06

    Well the Government’s going for 60% reduction by 2050 (from the queen’s speech). General question, is that enough, more than necessary or just right do we think (assuming that the rest of world fell into line which I grant is a big assumption, but what the hell)?

    [Its what they think they can get away with promising. If they have a plan for actually delivering it, I have yet to see it. Let me know! -W]

  7. #7 Adam
    2007/11/06

    “Its what they think they can get away with promising.”

    Yes, but that’s answering a different question. ;)

    As for a plan, as far as I can tell from http://tinyurl.com/32yy2w it consists of:

    1) “An independent committee on climate change will be set up to advise on “five-year carbon budgets””

    See also:
    http://tinyurl.com/2jb3w6
    http://tinyurl.com/2pvvzu (broken link atm)
    http://www.commonsleader.gov.uk/output/page2020.asp

    2) “Along with the measures on climate change, the Queen’s Speech also included an Energy Bill, which aims to reduce emissions while ensuring secure energy supplies. It will allow private investment in offshore gas supply projects as well as carbon capture and storage, and boost renewable energy in the UK.” And “pave the way for new UK nuclear power stations.” – see http://tinyurl.com/26rudr

    So, as far I have been able to check (in the short time I’ve had to look), they have no plan but are setting up the framework for someone else to come up with one for them. Off balance sheet policy making to go with the off-balance sheet funding.

    [OK, that chimes with what I have seen: they have no plan, they only have a commitment to cuts, and are hoping madly that either they can come up with a plan to fit the cuts, or that they will be well out of it by the time the plan needs to meet reality -W]

  8. #8 Alexander Ač
    2007/11/06

    Fine,

    considering it is “good” to have CO2 under 450 ppm, what is the solution? Clearly, we *need* global cuts ~80% or more in CO2 by 2050, if we are to stay under 450 ppm – so WHAT is the solution?

    [A very good question. The problem, as far as I can see, is that few people want to hear the obvious answers. Which range from (a) learning to live happily with far lower levels of energy use (personally I think we would all be happier if we did) (b) realising that vast solar arrays in the sahara will supply us with all we need so there is no need to worry about wind farms. See the Mackay stuff for numbers -W]

  9. #9 Tom Fiddaman
    2007/11/06

    The prevailing obsession with targets is quite unproductive. No one knows what 2050 will look like with any accuracy, and that applies to the technical potential and marginal cost of carbon mitigation as much as anything else. Even if we could design a -80% energy system for 2050 now, carbon cycle and climate uncertainty makes it unclear whether 80% is the magic number that will cap temperature at some desired level.

    Instead, it makes sense to focus on the near term and be adaptive. That is, put an upstream carbon tax in place and gradually ratchet it up until reasonable rates of change in emissions are achieved, with the ratcheting process conditioned on the state of the atmosphere.

    Part of the reason 80% looks hard to achieve is the fantasy that lifestyle is immutable. Here in the US, that means it’s OK to control carbon, as long as everyone gets a carbon-fiber hydrogen-powered full-size SUV that drives exactly like their current behemoth. If one can at least entertain the idea that some current emissions might be providing goods and services that contribute little to welfare, perhaps with serious non-climate negative externalities, large emissions reductions start to look a lot easier.

  10. #10 Adam
    2007/11/06

    “The prevailing obsession with targets is quite unproductive. No one knows what 2050 will look like with any accuracy,”

    It could be argued that that’s one argument for five yearly budgets (though these are to be set three steps out).

  11. #11 Bocco
    2007/11/06

    Looks like the first rather large scale demo is being planned now, 125 MW coal ccs by NRG and Powerspan in Texas. Of course, the CO2 is probably going to be used for enhanced oil recovery, so where that get’s us, I’m not sure, other than you might consider it as being enabling technology. I wonder if they added in the CO2 that they could capture easily during ammonia production for the seperation plant into the 1 million tonne / yr figure I read in the press statement.

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    2007/11/06

    There’s probably a sociology of public targets out there giving some clue of what windage politicians usually apply, and how they hear anything said by scientists.

    If the politician expects every petitioner to overstate what they want by 400 percent and dicker down to their actual goal, and the scientists state as accurately as possible what they think is needed — well?

  13. #14 Magnus W
    2007/11/06

    Feel free to edit that so the post gets normal…

  14. #15 Adam
    2007/11/06

    “There’s probably a sociology of public targets out there giving some clue of what windage politicians usually apply, and how they hear anything said by scientists.”

    There’s a some evidence to suggest that the UK government is taking the Stern report as their main line of what should be done:

    http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/portal/pls/portallive/docs/1/18569697.PPT

  15. #16 inel
    2007/11/06

    inel, rather naughtily to my mind, simply posts the report without offering any comment, which is a cop-out.

    Dear William,

    My ‘cop-out’ was welcomed as a heads-up by others for whom my post, as it stands, is sufficient ;-)

    My post and reference to the ippr/WWF/RSPB report into the feasibility of 80% reductions were both time-sensitive, simply providing context for 60% reductions in the Climate Bill, announced today by HM QEII.

    Actually, I followed up with a nice meaty commentary and promptly lost it (WordPress hiccough) :-| , so here are points I can recall quickly:

    The push for target reductions beyond the current line in the sand (at 60%) has broad-based support: it is the first key point that came through loud-and-clear to the government in the Draft Climate Change Bill Consultations, and is covered in Section 4.3 Key Conclusions (Responses to Question 1) in defra’s Final report to the consultation on the draft Climate Change Bill from 13 March – 12 June 2007.

    The UK Climate Change Bill consultation period saw input from many organisations, including professional engineering bodies (I counted seven) representing hundreds of thousands of Chartered Engineers.

    As I understand the situation, ippr and WWF asked Dennis Anderson to provide an independent assessment of policies required to speed the transition to a low carbon society, and requested a feasibility study to find out whether an 80% target for UK CO2 emissions reductions by 2050 was technologically possible, with cost estimates and also environmental preferences (such as no new nuclear).

    Appreciating Professor Anderson’s expertise in the area he was asked to assess, realising he was commended for his input to the Stern Review and has worked with the Tyndall Centre and other centres of expertise on climate technologies and policies for many years, and knowing he works with experts in the UK Energy Research Centre (see Organisation) and, based at Imperial College London, heads up UKERC’s Technology and Policy Assessment team, utilising existing energy research to answer policy-relevant questions … there is no need for me to question the conclusions of his report. Furthermore, the president of my engineering institution is executive director of UKERC and now that I have heard him speak on energy cycles and know his CV I am sure that Dennis Anderson is surrounded by experts in the topics that matter for this new report.

    Special note for Hank Roberts ~ although you need to purchase 2050 Vision: How can the UK play its part in avoiding dangerous climate change? by Lockwood and Bird, here’s the executive summary. More interesting for your purposes might be the report by Professor Dennis Anderson commissioned by ippr, WWF and RSPB, to inform the analysis in 2050 Vision. It is titled Policies for a Low Carbon UK Energy System.

    Finally, 2050 Vision was published simultaneously with another paper: 80% Challenge: Delivering a low carbon Britain.

    [THank you for your comment, but I still think you’re copping out. Now you’re just saying you trust him. Did you read the figures in any detail? Do you think that many wind turbines is plausible? -W]

  16. #17 David B. Benson
    2007/11/06

    The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently about 384 ppm and growing at 2 ppm per year. At that rate 450 ppm occurs in the year 2040.

    The biomass for biofuels will largely come from the south: Africa, South America and southeast Asia. The most recent post on

    http://biopact.com

    is quite useful in this regard.

    Best wishes.

  17. #18 Andrew Dodds
    2007/11/07

    Inel –

    I’d be more convinced by those papers if they mentioned where the natural gas and biofuels that those plans depend on actually come from. Certainly the long distance transport losses of gas are not accounted for – if supplies are actually available. Without sufficient gas, both Gas-with-CCS and CHP are no longer viable.

    I’m also unsure as to the benefits of micro-CHP on a practical level; would a million ?badly maintained? CHP systems improve on a situation of 90% efficient boilers with 60% efficient CCGT electric plants?

    There is also the question that if biomass is used as a near-total oil replacement on a worldwide scale, what are the environmental results?

  18. #19 Adam
    2007/11/07

    The government expects the UK to import something like 80% of the natural gas needs by 2020 (see: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/POSTpn230.pdf), based on figures from 2004. If the new plans require more gas to be used than was expected then, this shows a far larger reliance on imported gas than we currently have.

    If other countries attempt to go down the same route to reduce emissions, then there will be a generally higher demand for natural gas.

    Interesting times ahead.

  19. #20 Adam
    2007/11/07

    “The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently about 384 ppm and growing at 2 ppm per year. At that rate 450 ppm occurs in the year 2040.”

    The IEA has just released its Global Energy Report (I’ve not read it yet). They talk of a possible 57% increase in emissions by 2030. They also have a “450 Stabilisation” case study.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7081679.stm

    (the report is at the IEA website, linked in the RHS side bar)

  20. #21 Bocco
    2007/11/07

    Vattenfall’s 200-600 MW demo depends on how their 30 MW Oxyfuel pilot turns out. They say they are still open to other CO2 capture technologies too. The 30 MW pilot only goes on line next year, you can follow the progress here. Engineering for the big thing doesn’t begin until 2010. Good thing about the pilot, is it’s near one of their plants and will add about 6-7 MWe to its output, even though it’s only for testing purposes. With oxyfuel, you still need to do some extra processing of the CO2 to get rid of inerts – the pure oxygen that is relatively easy to make still has about 5% N2 in it. Of course it better than starting with an exhaust where only 5-15% is CO2 present.

  21. #22 Alexander Ač
    2007/11/07

    well,

    have somebody read this?

    http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/071105_ageofconsequences.pdf

    Global Climate change and secuturity consequences… seems to be too much pesimistic

  22. #23 DemocracyRules
    2007/11/07

    80% by 2050? Start with 0% (which is the null hypothesis) and disprove it with compelling incontrovertible evidence.

    BREAKING NEWS: John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel: “It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create in [sic] allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

    Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild “scientific” scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmental conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minutes documentary segment.

    […]

    I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

    In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. ” Full article at ICECAP. As I said before, it’s not about gospel, it’s about data. The data is very weak and inconsistent. More study is needed before GW is preached as gospel.

    [Std septic tripe, and entirely data free, so presumably you will ignore it? -W]

  23. #24 Alexander Ač
    2007/11/08

    Well,

    off-topic. I am interested, if somebody within scientific community is interested in the “peak-oil” problem. Seems to me maybe of bigger concern than climate change. More here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3064

    [I’ve done peak oil before. The trouble is that its totally unclear who is right. Obviosly not theoildrum because they are projecting a 100 Mb/d difference between supply and demand by 2012, whereas an inspection of the past shows that S+D matches, as it must. Meanwhile, oil hit $98 but fell back… if you believe the peak oil folks, then buy oil futures now! -W]

  24. #25 DemocracyRules
    2007/11/08

    PEAK OIL is the unfortunate sticky residue of “The Limits to Growth” a book written by the ‘Club of Rome’ in 1973. They predicted that the world would run out of oil by 1992. Ahem. Wiki has a good summary of the issues. The idea is a variant of the Malthusian Catastrophe. Linear increases in resource discovery, exponential increases in population. More than 2 centuries later, Malthus has been disproved.

    Example: Peak Oil theories studiously ignore the fact that Canada alone has more than seven (7), yes (7) Seven times the petroleum reserves of Saudi Arabia (7). It will take centuries to use it up. This is ignored by Peak Oil people on the grounds that it is ‘non-conventional’ because the petroleum is sequestered in surface sand, covering a large part of Alberta. Canada is killing itself getting that stuff out of the ground, and Canada is now the main source for US petroleum imports. (Seven,7).

  25. #26 Eli rabett
    2007/11/08

    The issue is not when oil runs out, but when it requires more than a a bbl of oil to recover a barrel of oil. Availability of any resource has a long tail, until now cheap energy has allowed us to exploit resources that are less and less concentrated. The oil tars are a good example of this.

  26. #27 Andrew Dodds
    2007/11/09

    Democracy Rules –

    The Limits to Growth actually postulated a peak in 1992 based on the fairly expontntial growth up to 1973. However, embargoes, OPEC production cuts, nationalisation and the like broke the pattern, postponing the peak (and making it much flatter).

    And no, peak oil theory does not ignore the Canadian tar sands, apart from noting that there is a difference between ‘reserve’ and ‘resource’. The tar sands at least show that petroleum feedstocks are for practical purposes unlimited. As a source of fuel it’s a different matter.

  27. #28 guthrie
    2007/11/09

    No democracyrules, peak oil is not an outgrowth of the LImits to Growth. It is actually the product of the thinking of M King Hubbert, a petroleum geologist. According to Wikipedia he first expounded it back in 1956.

    WEll, what do you know, that was before The limits to growth was written.

    William, I assume you have heard of demand destruction? So it will be if oil prices keep rising.

    [Of course. But you miss the point, which is that their curves are inconsistent -W]

    It looks to me like we are in fact on a plateau of a hubbert peak, that will maintain oil prices at the current level for a fair number of years to come, say 5 or 10. Maybe in 10 years time we will have implemented more energy efficient living methods which will help reduce our demand, but that still leaves billions of people trying to come up to our living standards, so overall demand will remain high enough to keep oil at or above the current prices for ages.

  28. #29 DemocracyRules
    2007/11/09

    To Eli Rabett: Most of the Canadian oil sands costs about $15 per barrel to extract and refine into ‘Syncrude’. These costs are increasing, but they are nowhere near $100 per barrel. It looks quite clear that as oil prices increase, the amount of recoverable oil in Canada will increase. That is, reserves are actually increasing. Canada’s problem now is getting the stuff out of the ground fast enough to (1) keep up with demand, and (2) extract as much as possible before petroleum is replaced as the preferred liquid fuel. As you know, petroleum is no longer the only economically viable mass-produced liquid fuel, and further encroachment by these fuels into the petroleum market could endanger the full exploitation of Canadian reserves.

    http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=September&x=20070919163628ndyblehs0.6094019

    U.S. demand for Canadian crude is expected to double within eight years time. http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=0147e83d-cc1b-4031-bfe7-b3f5636a0110
    http://www.capp.ca/raw.asp?x=1&e=PDF&dt=NTV&dn=123361

    Although many modern petroleum extraction techniques were developed near Petrolia, Ontario, Alberta is now the main source of petroleum in Canada. Alberta is a very large province, and more than one half of the surface area contains oil deposits, natural gas fields, and/or coal that can be converted into natural gas.

    http://www.capp.ca/raw.asp?x=1&dt=NTV&e=PDF&dn=122731

    The miscalculation about reserves was one of the key problems of “The Limits to Growth”, and the comments here replicate the source of the misjudgment. The ‘true reserve’ limit is not known at this time. It is also an empirical question whether or not petroleum is a finite resource at all. Some hypothesize that petroleum is of inorganic origin, and it continuously percolates up from deeper structures below the earth’s surface.

    To Andrew Dodds: Your comments about WHY “The Limits to Growth” woefully miscalculated the oil reserves misses my point. My point is that their modelled estimates about “Peak Oil” were very wrong indeed, and there is no getting away from that.

    Peak Oil does in fact dismiss the full impact of the Alberta oil sands on reserve estimates. If Peak Oil fully valued that impact, then “Peak Oil” as a concept would vanish as a public issue. We would not be discussing it.

    To: Guthrie: I will not debate the provenance of the “Peak Oil” concept. One may argue that the notion of petroleum as a finite resource may have occurred to the first person who scooped a bucketful of bitumen from a natural pooling pond. My point is merely that the book, “The Limits to Growth” was the first to propel the issue to broad public attention. The ‘Club of Rome’ built complex and detailed computer models of petroleum use and availability.

    “It looks to me like we are in fact on a plateau of a hubbert peak..”

    IT LOOKS TO ME as if we are not on a plateau of a Hubbert peak. The only thing we can be certain of is a great deal of error variance in resource use modeling, and continuing uncertainty until we can explain more variance. Remember that in 1999, seven years after it was due to ‘run out’, oil cost about $11 per barrel. This 1999 article from The Economist is famously entitled, “Drowning in Oil”.
    http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_TRRTPT

    My final point: Why are we discussing this? This is a global warming website, is it not? Or is this just about general ‘Stoatiness’?

    [Its slightly marginal to the GW debate, but I can talk about what I like, and so can you if I approve your comments :-). About the only thing we really know about future oil prices and reserves is that no-one really knows the real answer, or if they do they aren’t telling. Certainly, not much has changed in terms of reserves since 1999 and oil price has gone up by a factor of 10. Oil might go above $150 a barrel or it might go down to $50 (no-one seems to believe in lower so the tar sands remain economic). At any of these prices burning coal is attractive so carbon intensity goes up -W]

  29. #30 Eachran
    2007/11/10

    Mr Connelly, I tend to agree with what you say but the problem seems to me that techie solutions dont arrive with a magic wand nor with government intervention.

    Peak-oil is nonsense for the reasons you give, as is the notion of tipping points (at least for scientific purposes but not for sociological ones) and I think that here Mr Annan agrees with you.

    The only (and yes, I mean only, apart from Government prohibition (which will in the short term but never works in the long term)) policy that will work is carbon taxes. Mr Hansen knows that, just about all the economists in the world know that, politicians too, and those others interested, know that.

    To talk about alternative energy sources without knowing the price parameters following from carbon taxes is non-sensical.

    But I live in hope.

  30. #31 guthrie
    2007/11/12

    Surely I am not the only person who thinks that posting
    “I will not debate the provenance of the “Peak Oil” concept.”
    is a way of avoiding admitting that the poster has in fact been caught out in an error of similar magnitude to those that frequently grace the pages of Deltoid and other blogs?

    AS for abiogenic oil, there are some interesting experiments but bugger all actual evidence in favour of it.

    You do realise that I meant Hubbert peak of crude oil? Tar sands are not the same. look at how much energy it takes to extract them. And merely pointing out that at some point in the past oil was cheap when some said it shoudl be dear is not an argument, merely an observation, which in this case says nothing relevant to hubbert peaks.

  31. #32 Andrew Dodds
    2007/11/12

    DemocracyRules –

    No, The Limits to Growth got oil *usage/demand* wrong – it assumed that oil use would follow the then existing pattern, since the authors could hardly know what OPEC would do.

    And, I repeat, Limits to Growth did not say that oil would ‘run out’, it pointed to a peak in 1992 which, GIVEN THE DATA AVAILABLE, appears accurate – noting that global GDP and energy use would have been much higher at that peak.

    Assuming investment is strongly stepped up, Canada may be producing as much as 10% of current world oil usage by 2030; this also assumes an alternative fuel to Natural gas is used to power the process. This is how it is modelled under peak oil scenarios.

    And the abiotic oil people are wrong, by reason of there being free oxygen in the atmosphere….

  32. #33 guthrie
    2007/11/12

    Coming back to it after lunch and feeling a bit more intelligent, I have to correct myself with the usual caveats. As far as I can tell you can apply a hubbert peak to a country, or an oil field or series of reservoirs, and I suppose you needn’t apply it just to crude oil, but the impression I have gained is that he was talking about crude oil. Otherwise you have to add oil shales and other sources.

    Andrew Dodds- what do you mean? The most on the surface plausible oil formed deep in the crust hypothesis that I have come across involves marble and water at very high temperatures and pressures allegedly forming some oil like stuff.

  33. #34 Andrew Dodds
    2007/11/13

    Guthrie –

    The ‘abiotic oil’ (cf ‘Deep Oil’) people usually quote this as well; they also invoke mechanisms to somehow get this oil through 20km of crust without it breaking down.

    Problem is that even volcanoes tapping the mantle (i.e. Hawaii) have CO2 as the dominant carbon species, which strongly suggests that the mantle is too oxidised to support methane as the main carbon species.

    But more succintly – if oil reservoirs were being recharged in the manner described, i.e. close to the rate of extraction or enough to avoid peak oil, then prior to the development of oil by humans, every possible geological trap structure on the planet would have been full of oil.. and leaking to the surface at a rate comparable with current oil use.

    So in the persian gulf region, around 25 million barrels of oil would have been leaking into the Gulf every day; equivilent to 50+ supertanker accidents. This would have been noticeable.

    Additionally, natural gas leakages would have been on an epic scale.

    Furthermore, this oil would be oxidised by bacteria; and methane broken down into CO2 and water; this would rapidly scrub all free oxygen from the air (In around 200,000-500,000 years). I suspect that this would still happen even if just Volcanic carbon emissions (1% of anthropogenic) were all methane.

    Hubbert modelling works near-perfectly for a situation where you are looking in a specified basin for a specified oil habit (i.e. fault block structures in the North Sea) in an unconstrained manner. It works very well for the sumn of several such cases. Once you deviate from this – changing the geographical area, adding political constraints, factoring in large changes in technology – it becomes fuzzier. It looks like the efects of this on planet-wide oil production will bne the changing of a single peak of c. 120mb/day in 1992 to a plateau of 80-90mb/day from circa 2000 to circa 2015.

  34. #35 guthrie
    2007/11/13

    Exactly Andrew, you just summed up stuff I was trying to work out but hadn’t got there yet.

  35. #36 Peter Strom
    2010/01/26

    So, as far I have been able to check (in the short time I’ve had to look), they have no plan but are setting up the framework for someone else to come up with one for them. Off balance sheet policy making to go with the off-balance sheet funding.

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