Monday, November 30, 2009

Biofuels Not a Factor Until 2020 Says Shell

By Richard Wottrich - Blog Editor

Three factors seemingly are slowing the momentum towards alternative energy significantly impacting global energy production.

1) Peak Oil - The concept that we are near or past the peak of available oil has been discredited in many quarters as new technologies open more and more avenues to increased oil production. It is likely that oil has 50 to 100 years left before serious consequences arise via scarcity.

2) Natural Gas - New extraction technologies in the US have increased gas reserves by 40 percent or more, dropping prices to historic recent lows. New development of the Australian Gorgon fields for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has perhaps initiated for the first time a global market based on LNG shipments.

3) Advanced Biofuels - Royal Dutch Shell has said that advanced biofuels will not be in widespread use until about 2020, puncturing hopes that they could be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. Peter Voser, who took over at the head of Shell in July, told reporters at a briefing last week that it would take “quite a number of years” before there is a commercially proven plant.

Taken together it would be wise to temper exuberance regarding the role of alternative energy around the world to a more realistic role, supplemental to the trinity of oil, coal and natural gas.

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