Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Energy Technology’ tag

A Gradual Shift to Renewable Energy is the Best Path

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Lomborg is hitting the nail on the head in this article, as is Gürcan Gülen, the very intelligent researcher with a hilarious name.

Most renewable energy technologies are more expensive and less efficient than traditional fossil fuels. Attempting to roll out vast amounts of solar and wind power before they are competitive will increase costs to users, which will hurt our economy.

In the final paragraph he also makes a point that should have come much earlier: the best way to increase jobs and make these renewable technologies competitive is to invest in research and development.

Clean, domestic, renewable energy is the goal towards which we should strive, but jumping in with both feet before that technology is ready would be foolish. Those early adopters are helping to make these resources and technologies for affordable for all, so they should be applauded. But they are the people and the firms such as Google that can afford to make these investments even if they are not entirely economically efficient. Forcing everyday people across the country in to those forms of energy will cost taxpayer dollars and will increase utility bills. These are not good for America.

Patience and prudence are essential as we strive towards this important goal.

Green Smoke Screen

Supporters of “green energy” like to say it will create more jobs. They’re wrong.

By Bjørn LomborgPosted Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, at 6:46 AM ET

Phil Tussing installing  Phil Tussing installs photovoltaic solar panels. Click image to epxand.Political rhetoric has shifted away from the need to respond to the “generational challenge” of climate change. Investment in alternative energy technologies like solar and wind is no longer peddled on environmental grounds. Instead, we are being told of the purported economic payoffs—above all, the promise of so-called “green jobs.” Unfortunately, that does not measure up to economic reality.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the state of the science in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs. Gülen concluded that job creation “cannot be defended as another benefit” of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset—or worse—by the number of jobs that they destroy.

Read the entire article here.

Projections for U.S. Shale Gas Continue to Rise

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This is potentially excellent news, so long as the companies that explore for and extract this gas are willing to cover the costs for any damage to human health or the environment.

Read more about shale gas here.

Shale-Gas Output May Double by 2035, Reducing Energy Imports, U.S. Says

By Simon Lomax – Dec 16, 2010 3:41 PM MT

Production forecasts for natural gas locked in shale have doubled, which will help the U.S. become less reliant on imported energy, according to a federal agency.


The Annual Energy Outlook predicts imports will meet 18 percent of U.S. demand by 2035, down from 24 percent last year. Higher prices will spur fuel production, including natural gas, oil and coal, the agency said. Tougher energy-saving rules, such as fuel-economy mandates for new cars, and a boost in biofuel production from crops such as corn also will make the U.S. less reliant on imports by 2035, according to the forecast.

Overall U.S. energy consumption will jump 21 percent by 2035. Coal will remain the “dominant energy source for electricity generation,” although more natural-gas fired plants will be built because of higher supplies of the cleaner-burning fuel, according to the outlook.

The agency forecasts construction of five nuclear plants by 2035, contributing to a 10 percent increase in electricity generated from atomic power. The share of electricity from renewable sources such as hydroelectric dams and solar panels will rise to 14 percent in 2035 from 11 percent last year, according to the outlook.

Read the entire article here.

Gov’t Energy “Investments” Need to Be Structured for Returns

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Government investments in energy infrastructure, which I see as potentially very positive and soon maybe even absolutely necessary, should be structured so that there will be returns on those investments. Yeah, so obvious it almost goes without saying, but a quick look at government projects in the past shows diverse aims and results, with successful and woeful examples.

Similar or at least tangential to what I argued in a post earlier this summer, government is often necessary to lay the groundwork on worthy projects that may not be profitable for years to come but will be highly beneficial to our country’s citizens and our economy.

Airplane travel would not likely be anything like what we enjoy today were it not for massive government spending in aviation earlier in the 20th Century. The luxuries we enjoy with our cars would not be possible if not for government spending on roads and, as we are seeing ever more clearly, the auto industry.

Some might argue that government spending on the auto industry has been a disaster. This is my point exactly: If energy spending is not structured properly, it will simply be a drain on our tax dollars for decades. But if these government programs are strategically designed with the aim of gaining actual economic returns on tax dollars invested, they will be hugely beneficial to our country.

One could also argue that these examples of government spending have been an enormous and destructive drain on our energy resources. I can’t disagree with that point either, but that’s for another discussion.

  • OCTOBER 2, 2010, 6:50 A.M. ET

Obama Touts Clean Energy in Weekly Speech


WASHINGTON—U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday touted his administration’s energy policy agenda, predicting that his clean energy programs will create “hundreds of thousands” of new American jobs by 2012.


“There is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now—and growth in the coming years—than clean energy,” said Mr. Obama.

Read the entire article here.

Energy Storage Tech Must Improve for a Clean Energy Future

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These energy storage technologies are so important to the energy matrix we’ll be seeing in the coming years. The huge advantage of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear is that they deliver consistent streams of energy into the grid.

Solar and wind simply cannot mass their consistency. But if battery technology can improve (right now it is highly inefficient (link to article explaining this), it will allow us to rely much more heavily on those variable power sources.

As Gov. Granholm discusses, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is the boon to our economy as we become more self sufficient for our energy needs, creating jobs here at home that have been lost in places like the auto industry.

Keep innovating, Michigan.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm

Governor of Michigan

Posted: September 14, 2010 07:06 AM

Shaping America’s Clean Energy Future

Livonia, Michigan. Home to over 100,000 citizens, great schools and parks, one of Michigan’s best burger joints (Bates Hamburgers) — and now home to North America’s largest advanced battery plant, further solidifying Michigan’s position as the advanced battery capital of the world.


It’s great news for Michigan. It’s great news for American manufacturing. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s great news for our nation’s energy future, helping to ensure that we don’t replace our current dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on foreign batteries. No other place in the country is doing more to lead the advanced battery industry than Michigan — and it’s paying off, through innovative public-private partnerships like the one that caused A123 to center its U.S. manufacturing in Michigan.

Read the entire article here.

A Strong Economy is Positive for Energy Innovation

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To pick on one particular point in this article, I definitely don’t agree with Mr. Mosquero, the chairman of Tecpetrol, quoted below, as seeming to say that the global economic crisis is positive for our energy future because it has tempered demand.

A sound economy allows companies to invest in developing the technologies that will increase our efficiency and our capabilities to, among other things, innovate alternatives to non-renewable resources. Specifically in terms of energy, those technologies that aren’t already competitive are more likely to be at least as cost effective as fossil fuels in the coming years if our economy continues to prosper.

Energy Boom Is Coming Regardless of Slowing Global Economy, Officials Say

By Margot Habiby and Frederic Tomesco – Sep 14, 2010 12:59 PM MT

The world must prepare for the next energy boom, officials meeting this week in Montreal said, as long-range forecasts that demand will surge eclipse concern that the pace of the global economic recovery is slowing.
“Any long-term energy outlook that I’m aware of has continued demand increases for energy demand globally,” said Richard Newell, head of the statistics unit of the Energy Department, which predicts demand will rise 50 percent by 2035.
“Even though the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix may decline over the longer term, the absolute quantities of energy from these sources will continue to rise simply because total energy demand is set to expand so significantly,” Khalid al-Falih, chief executive officer of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest oil producer, said in a speech yesterday in Montreal.
Projections by the EIA, IEA and IHS-CERA show that “under current policies and current market trends, the fossil-fuel share of global energy consumption is likely to stay in the 70 to 80 percent range,” the EIA’s Newell said. These forecasts factor in increased use of renewable fuels as well as improved energy efficiency by countries from the U.S. to China, he said.
“If we continue with a double-dip world economic crisis, that’s fine,” said Marcelo Martinez Mosquera, chairman of Argentina’s Tecpetrol SA and Tecgas Argentina SA. “We can postpone talking about energy issues for a while until we go back to the 2008 economic scenario of different countries pushing for scarce commodities, but I don’t think this will happen.”

Read the entire article here.

Shale’s a curse and blessing for natural gas

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Here’s another installment in the ongoing discussion about the potential for oil and gas from shale. It is interesting and important to put this discussion, about an uncertain technology with great negative and positive potential, in the context of the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Given time to work, technologies for shale and deep sea drilling both hold tremendous promise. Rushing them to market before they are ready and reliable poses equally tremendous risks.

By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch

TOKYO (MarketWatch) — A supply surplus has made natural gas a cheap source of energy, and its growing production from so-called “unconventional” sources such as shale may be destined to keep it that way.

“Natural gas is at a historically cheap price, assuming we’re just looking at the last ten years, but one major issue not affecting other energy markets is driving the price lower and lower,” said Neal Ryan, managing partner at Ryan Oil & Gas Partners LLC.

Driven by the nation’s growing need for energy and high natural-gas prices in recent years, interest in gas derived from shale, a geologic formation, has increased despite the high costs involved with developing the sources.

“Shale gas provides the largest source of growth in U.S. natural gas supply,” according to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010 report.

U.S. shale gas production was at 2.02 trillion cubic feet in 2008, up from 1.18 trillion cubic feet in 2007, government data show.


“Now many of those companies are being forced to continue drilling plans formulated for a much higher market price in order to protect those lease investments,” he said.

That’s “a dangerous spot to be in because the domestic market doesn’t need this gas right now, but companies are stuck having to protect their capital investment,” he said.


Total U.S. natural gas consumption by end use fell to 22.8 trillion cubic feet in 2009 from 23.2 trillion cubic feet in 2008, according to the EIA.


Even so, right now there are “a large number of wells that are being drilled to hold leases,” said James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, explaining that if a well is not drilled on a new lease within 3-5 years, then control of the mineral rights reverts to the owner and the lease is void.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 28th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

The Promise of Shale Gas

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This important subject has been addressed on this site before, and as I said then, if we can manage our demand for natural gas, we can give these companies time to develop this fracturing technology so that it can be done in more cost effective and environmentally responsible ways.

February 19, 2010

Ken Silverstein, EnergyBiz Insider

Advanced drilling and completion techniques are the critical means by which natural gas developers now hope to probe vast amounts of shale gas, considered by many to be able to fuel much of the country’s electric generation for decades to come. But before that aspiration can be achieved, producers must solve the environmental complexities.

At issue is how to retrieve such vast resources without harming water quality. The problem is that the shale is a sedimentary rock that holds natural gas 2,000-12,000 feet deep in the earth. To get it out, developers use a process known as hydraulic fracturing whereby millions of gallons of water and chemicals are pumped into the ground, allowing the natural gas to flow to the wellbore.

Read the entire article here.