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On Throwing the Carbon Capture Baby Out with the Coal Bath Water

Bruce, Take a look at the current energy mix. Per the IEA, fossil fuels supply 82% of global primary energy today and are expected ("New Policies Scenario") to supply 75% in 2040. Even in their optimistic "450" scenario--which the IEA itself says we are not on track to achieve--in 25 years coal, gas and oil would still provide 60% of an energy pie that's bigger than today's. So this isn't about stranded assets: no matter how you slice it, coal and other fossil energy will remain in the mix for a long time, albeit with a reduced share of total energy.

CCS provides a way to mitigate directly the impact of energy sources we won't be able to phase out for a long time, for various reasons of scale, cost, reliabiliity, infrastructure, etc. Maybe it turns out to be too expensive, even on an "nth plant" basis, in which case we don't do it and will instead live with the higher emissions. But if we're serious about reducing emissions without kneecapping the global economic growth that's the crucial fuel for such an effort, then it is premature to rule out CCS.

April 24, 2015    View Comment    

On Going Solar Should Be No More Difficult than Getting Cable TV

Perhaps another way to think about this analogy is to imagine what a cable hookup would entail if users were pushing their own programming back into the cable system for part of the day (as distinct from internet uploads.)

April 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Throwing the Carbon Capture Baby Out with the Coal Bath Water

If it's fundamentally uneconomical, then you don't Greenpeace-style objections; it won't get built.

However, I doubt that's an assessment that can be made based only on initial attempts to integrate the complex technolgies to make CCS work at the scale required. By that logic, solar would have been abandoned when it was still $75/Watt, (see the chart in this post.) Until energy storage becomes drastically cheaper, more effective, and can be rolled out as fast as the intermittent resources (wind/solar) that need to be time-shifted and backed up, we will need low-emission on-demand generation. That's the role coal or gas with CCS is meant to fill.

April 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Is Iran After Nuclear Power for Energy Purposes? [STORIFY]

Iran has superb solar potential--much better than many EU countries now investing billions in PV. See map linked in my post that started this conversation. Gas + solar looks like a cheaper and far less controversial choice for Iran than nuclear power starting with uranium enrichment.

April 15, 2015    View Comment    

On An Energy Perspective on the Iran Nuclear Framework

Thanks, Rick, and sorry about the WSJ link. I suspect if you Googled on the title you'd find the full text somewhere. It's a shame that op-eds of significant national intersest such as this one are hidden behind paywalls.

After some of the traffic this piece generated on Twitter this morning, I should also clarify for anyone not familiar with my body of work that I am generally supportive of nuclear power. The bone of contnention in this case is enrichment, which is even harder to justify in economic and energy terms and provides a direct path to proliferation.

April 13, 2015    View Comment    

On IEA Sees Fundamental Shifts in the Current Oil Price Drop

Bob,

In other words the oil market might start to behave like a real market, rather than the hybrid of market and cartel-driven monopoly it's been for my entire career in energy.

I strongly doubt that "all the expensive production and exploration will stop," because OPEC can't produce enough to displace all of that from the market, and the price--in a real market--would be set by the marginal cost of the last barrel, which could be shale, oil sands or deepwater production. And yes, we could be entering a period in which the kind of price swings we're now experiencing occur more frequently, whle geopolicitally driven swings happen less often.

March 13, 2015    View Comment    

On IEA Sees Fundamental Shifts in the Current Oil Price Drop

Is it possible you are confusing the IEA, which serves the governments of the OECD countries and explicitly didn't forecast prices in the report I discussed, with the EIA, an arm of the US government that does forecast prices for oil and other energy?

 

March 11, 2015    View Comment    

On A Lesson in Oil Pricing

Joris,

Perhaps the expression, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good", is found only in the US. Either way, characterizing a technology with the potential to reduce 90% of CO2 emissons from stationary sources as "not low-CO2" and a "desperate attempt" writes off in one stroke what could be one of the biggest of the necessary emission reduction "wedges.", because it is focused on existing infrastructure.. Take another look at the IPCC chart I referred Bob to, above. Is there a realistic hope of 450 ppm without it?

March 3, 2015    View Comment    

On A Lesson in Oil Pricing

It still comes down to dollars, in the sense that a combustion power plant with CCS will have a higher cost per net MWh of output than one without, and must compete on that basis, after accounting for any explicit or implicit (regulatory) price on CO2.

March 2, 2015    View Comment    

On A Lesson in Oil Pricing

Bob,

I was referring to Table SPM.2 of the WG3/AR5/Summary for Policy Makers:

http://mitigation2014.org/report/summary-for-policy-makers 

It indicates a 138% increase in mitigation costs to limit GHGs in 2100 to 450 ppm without CCS--far more than for the other 3 key technologies--vs. their base technology assumptions. That makes it a crucial technology in my book. The lower the cost of mitigation, the more we can afford to cut emissions.

And that seems like enough on CCS in a post on oil prices, don't you think?

March 2, 2015    View Comment    

On A Lesson in Oil Pricing

So why not apply your obvious creativity to come up with ways to close those potential loopholes?

February 28, 2015    View Comment    

On A Lesson in Oil Pricing

Andy,

That claim reflects a misunderstanding of oil market dynamics. It's all about which reserves you use, and who owns them. Would you disagree that it has made a significant difference in the last couple of years to use US shale reserves rather than Saudi reserves?

As for governments in the developing world--where 95% of oil subsidies are given--using this opportunity to reduce or eliminate them, that's happening and it's high time. Something we can agree on.

February 28, 2015    View Comment