Energy, monopolies and cartels

 The ambition of every business is to become a monopoly, if it cannot achieve that, its ambition will be to become part of a cartel. The ambition of every government should be to prevent monopolies and to outlaw cartels.  A business having a monopoly or being part of a cartel enables it to make profits without any market mechanism to restrain those profits. It can charge what it likes and its owners will live a life of great riches. Continue reading

How much fuel is left in the world?

In London when I was much younger there were two fellows who walked around with sandwich boards, not because of their occupations, but as a result of their preoccupations. One chap’s board had a message that warned against the eating of beans and pulses, which according to this chap were at the root of all lasciviousness and evil. The other chap’s message was, at the front of his board, “the end of the world is nigh”. He wanted to tell the population of London that the world was about to end. On the back of his board the message read “prepare to meet thy doom”. Continue reading

Natural gas – going , going…

How much natural gas is left in the world depends, primarily, upon the definition that you use. In the energy industry they talk about “proven” or “proved” reserves, which is the amount of natural gas that can be taken from known places with reasonable certainty under current operating and economic conditions.

It is fairly obvious that all of the big gas fields have been discovered; there is little left to find, except perhaps around the poles.

According to the latest information at the end of 2008 there were 185.02 trillion cubic metres of natural gas. The largest deposits by far are in Russia (45 trillion) and the Middle East (50 trillion). US Canada and Mexico can only muster less than 9 trillion and the European Union less than 5 trillion. The UK has less than 0.34 trillion cubic metres of gas.

At the present rate of consumption the gas will last 60 years.

However, to get an accurate picture about natural gas reserves and consumption you have to go back first to the definition; one of the factors for reserves of gas being “proved” is that the gas must be economic to extract under current operating conditions. The higher the price of natural gas the more economic it becomes to extract gas and therefore fields that were not in the category of “proven” fall into that category, as the price of natural gas rises. Conversely, as the price of natural gas falls, fields that were proved become uneconomic and fall out of that category. Either way, the amount of natural gas within the earth remains finite and the same.

The second thing to bear in mind is that as poorer countries improve their standards of living and become “developed” so the consumption of gas will increase. More gas will be used to heat homes, as more people can afford this and more gas will be used for electricity generation. The future numbers of people using natural gas will increase for this reason.

The third thing to bear in mind is that the world’s population is increasing all the time and this will create more demand for gas, regardless of any increases in prosperity among poorer nations; the richer nations will still have children.

The fourth thing to bear in mind is that there will be some reduction is gas consumption (on an appliance basis or on a power station basis) as a result of increasing efficiencies. Today condensing boilers are more efficient that non-condensing boilers and use less gas; perhaps they do not use that much less gas, but there is an efficiency that will lead to less gas being used.

On large scale gas consumption by power stations at least half the gas used is wasted and sent into the atmosphere as waste heat. With the political will, this waste heat could be harnesses to much greater effect than at present, and when it is, there will be savings in the overall fossil fuel energy requirement.

Now, I am not a mathematician and cannot design or invent an algorithm to process and calculate what will happen about gas usage, and in any event, even if someone can, it will only be as robust as its assumptions prove to be correct.

If I consider each of the factors about future natural gas use, add to them the fact that natural gas is far less polluting than its main competitors of coal and oil, I think it is reasonable to conclude that we have enough natural gas to last us around thirty to forty years. The basis of this prediction is that in my opinion population growth and prosperity will outweigh efficiencies and discoveries. I do not think that I am wrong – the only things that I can foresee stopping population growth are climate change and environmental degradation.

The energy used by the children of those born today will be very different from the energy sources we now use.

Where are the natural gas reserves -statistics

Where is the world’s natural gas? Overall there are 185 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, but more than 172 trillion cubic metres are located in only 25 countries and 98 trillion cubic metres are located in just three countries – Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

I set out below a list of countries that have proven reserves of natural gas, where those reserves are above 1 trillion cubic metres; the places that have the significant reserves of natural gas give pause for thought, especially when you bear in mind that traditionally the discovery of a source of plentiful fuel has usually brought great prosperity to the places where the source was discovered.

If you click the link below you will get the information

gas reserves

The carbon footprint of moving people

If you have ever been in an American airport or walked in any large American city you will have rapidly become aware of the massive amount of transportation that America devotes to moving people. There are cars, planes, railways, boats and buses trams and other forms of public transport. People often associate pollution and climate change solely with transportation. Of course there are other culprits but transportation is a particularly large source of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in the United States, accounting as it does for 20% of US energy consumption and 5% of world energy consumption. Apart from sail vessels and horse drawn canal barges there are no forms of clean renewable energy for transportation. Continue reading

Greenhouse gas emission statistics for the UK

Today I shall tell you about the good news and the bad news. First, there is the good news. According to the methodology accepted by the Kyoto Protocol for calculating greenhouse gas emissions of the six greenhouse gases recognised by Kyoto, the United Kingdom has reduced is greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 and 2008.

 Now the bad news; I regret to report that the reduction was only “nearly” 2%, which is probably the margin for error in these calculations. Continue reading

The latest UK energy figures

The United Kingdom has for the past ten years used fairly consistently the same amounts of energy each year. The government when it publishes the figures adjust them for the average temperature in the UK between 1971 and 2000. In each of the years the adjustment has led to a higher theoretical use of energy – in other words temperatures have risen for the period 2000 to 2007 compared with average temperatures from 1971 to 2000, thus making us in the United Kingdom need less energy. Continue reading