Today marked an interesting day in the Oil Economy.
First, Oil hit an all time intra-day high of $56.60.
Second, the US Senate rejected, by the slimmest of margins (51-49), a motion to halt the approval of development of the oil rich ANWR area of Alaska.
Proponents of developing ANWR love to say that it is necessary because it could produce a peak of 1 million barrels of oil a day…. and that will lessen the USs’ dependance on oil from foreign lands and feed the USs’ ever growing need for fuel.
Would development of ANWR really make a dent in US reliance on oil imports?
Yes, of course. If we’re talking 1 million barrels of crude oil, it would be like eliminating the need to import oil from Nigeria. However, Nigeria is only #5 of the top countries from whom the US imports oil. If the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, Venezuela or even Iraq goes south… well, that 1 million barrels from Alaska suddenly won’t be able to make up the difference.
If you really want to be depressed though… head to the Energy Information Administration website and look at their data.
Total Energy consumption in 2003… and that’s all forms and for all purposes including coal, renewable, oil, and gas for electricity, vehicles and everything else… totalled nearly 10 Quadrillion (10,000,000,000,000,000) BTUs.
For scale, 1 million barrels of oil/day per year would equal around 2.12 Quadrillion BTUs. Right now the difference between Total Energy Production and Consumption is roughly 3 quadrillion BTU. If Consumption continues on it’s current trend, in 10 years, when that 1 million barrels/per day might actually be a reality, we’ll likely be looking at a gap of 4 or 5 quadrillion. Again, it seems that this whole ANWR thing, while helping, will not solve our problems.
So how *do* we solve the problem…. well, we start by looking at the BOTTOM of the graph. There you will see renewable energy production. Solar, Wind and Geothermal are barely visible.
Isn’t it interesting that, over the past 30 years, energy from renewable sources has been, practically, flat?
Do *you* not see room to grow there? Given the same amount of attention and resources, is it not possible that renewable energy could make up that gap, and then some? After all, only renewable energy has the capacity to grow indefinifinitely, where-as fossil fuels are doomed to decline.
ANWR is a stop-gap. And an inadequate one at that. The gains to be made from investment and development in the renewable energy sector are far greater than anything else we can imagine.
The Register says GM and Shell Hyrdrogen will work to have its’ first Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2012.
The company has already begun tests on 60 Mercedes A-class vehicles in Japan, Germany, Singapore and the US, according to Reuters
Jeremy Bentham, Shell Hydrogen’s chief executive said that energy companies would start rolling out hydrogen filling stations when there was customer demand. He acknowledged that hydrogen-powered cars could be attractive to consumers and said his job was to be prepared for that business, Reuters reports. He added that if Europe were to switch to Hydrogen as its main fuel source for its cars, it would need 50 million tons of hydrogen per year to meet demand.
As Bunker has said in the comments. We have a lot of work to do!