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Chapter 1

Drivers for Sustainable Energy

In this chapter the drivers for sustainable energy will be explained. This contains the current energy usage but also the limited resources on our planet.

1.1 Introduction to Oil

We are currently 7 billion people on our planet and on average 2 kw are used per person. Currently around 78% of human energy use is covered by fossil fuels. These are oil, coal and natural gas. We depend on depleting- fossils that have been produced on earth during millions of years.

that have been produced on earth during millions of years. Figure 1.1: The created oil Let

Figure 1.1: The created oil

Let us have a look how the oil is actually created. First there is formed in the sea a layer in which organic

remnants are deposited. Due to changes in the sea, e.g. continents moving on the earth surface, sand is deposited above that organics containing layer over time forming a porous layer. After another change of the geography,

a layer of impermeable clay is deposited. Due to motions in the earth crust the layers can deform and ripple.

Oil that is being formed from the remnants of organic material under appropriate T,P is lighter than water and

it will therefore start going upwards through the porous layer into the domes that are closed to the top by the

clay layer ( 1.1). It are these areas where the oil/gas is concentrated and it is under pressure from the upward force of water. Oil and gas result mainly from anaerobic geological processes on the ancient remains of sea life (plankton, algae). (Coal results mainly from plant matter on land.) Oil is mainly produced in the window between 4 and

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1.2. ENERGY CHANGE

CHAPTER 1.

DRIVERS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

6 km deep. At larger depth the temperature is usually higher and on geological timescales the oil is cracked to form more gas. The oil window is ca. 60 degrees Celsius-120 degrees Celsius, gas window ca.120 degrees -150 degrees C If the oil escapes from the pockets it is formed in, and comes to the surface, bacteria can start to biodegrade the oil. Then a surface deposit of very heavy tar mixed with e.g. sand results indicated by unconventional reserves. Rock formed from clay that contains organic matter that is not yet converted to oil is indicated by oil shales.

1.2 Energy Change

In 30 years the energy supply roughly doubled. Mainly fossil fuel use. The combustible renewables are e.g. wood in developing countries, where a large part of the worlds population lives. The graph in figure 1.2 uses Mtoe in order to facilitate the comparison between different sources of energy.

the comparison between different sources of energy. Figure 1.2: Evolutions of Energy Demand One reason for

Figure 1.2: Evolutions of Energy Demand

One reason for more energy use is the growth of the world population. In fact the slope of the world energy use growth is similar for that of the population growth between 1971-2004 (both roughly doubled). However, this is too simple as an explanation: most energy is used in the developed world while most growth of the population takes place in the developing parts of the world. Another reason for the growing energy use is the fact that there is a correlation between economic growth (expressed in gross domestic product per capita) and energy use of a country. Thus with increasing wealth of nations, their energy demand has also increased. Now let us have a look on how the energy reserves are distributed amongst the countries:

the energy reserves are distributed amongst the countries: Figure 1.3: Distribution of Oil Reserves 2/3 of

Figure 1.3: Distribution of Oil Reserves

2/3 of oil is in unconventional reserves, mainly tar sands. These reserves cannot be produced as easily as conventional oil. This will mean that more energy will be required to produce this oil, i.e. the yield will be lower. For conventional oil the yield is 90, so 10% is lost during the production and refining of oil.

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1.2. ENERGY CHANGE

CHAPTER 1.

DRIVERS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

1.2. ENERGY CHANGE CHAPTER 1. DRIVERS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY Figure 1.4: Efficiency of Oil Refinery Figure

Figure 1.4: Efficiency of Oil Refinery

Figure 1.4 illustrating that it costs energy to produce oil from various reserves. The more oil is produced from the reserves, the more energy it will cost to produce what is remaining. This is the reason why only a part of the oil that is in the ground can be produced. The discovery of oil has historically shown large fluctuations, however, most of the reserves have been discovered more than 30 years ago. The average curve has a bell shape, see figure 1.5. Unit is: billion = 109 barrels of oil. With 85 million barrels use per day 1 billion of barrels is enough for 1000/85 = 11.7 day world use of oil.

barrels is enough for 1000/85 = 11.7 day world use of oil. Figure 1.5: Oil Discovery

Figure 1.5: Oil Discovery

The bell shape is called a Hubbert peak after the geologist that used this shape to predict the discovery and production of oil. The proven reserves are the discovered oil reserves in the different years. It takes some time before oil starts to be produced from a known source. First the oil can be recovered rapidly (pressure still high, later it becomes more difficult, in the end all recoverable oil is taken out that can be taken out, the rest remains underground). In 1956 Hubbert predicted that oil production in US would peak in 1970s and it did. Only then this model was taken seriously. It is also important to look at the predictions from the past:

In figure 1.6 the Future oil recovery predictions are plotted against the year in which the prediction was published. In principle it should go down with time, because oil is used up in the mean time. However, it does not go down. The reason for that is maybe more advanced or costly oil recovery techniques are included as well.

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1.3. ALTERNATIVES TO STANDARD OIL ANDCHAPTERGAS

1.

DRIVERS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

STANDARD OIL ANDCHAPTERGAS 1. DRIVERS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY Figure 1.6: Predictions from the Past 1.3 Alternatives

Figure 1.6: Predictions from the Past

1.3 Alternatives to Standard Oil and Gas

Conventional oil and gas is about 21% of all oil. To place oil and gas in perspective: this is less than 10% of all fossils. There is more fossil fuel in the form of coal and natural gas stored in gas hydrates also called clathrates. The quote of the minister (1970s) means that lack of oil is not the reason for reducing dependency on oil, but rather the emerging of something better: renewables. Currently one may wonder what is first: shortage of easy recoverable fossil fuels or renewables. At higher pressures at sufficient depth in the sea (about km deep or at 100Bar pressure) methane and water can form a (crystalline) solid: methane clathrate. Because in the sea there is decomposing organic material methane is released. This can be bound spontaneously in such a clathrate, that then in principle stays there until geological circumstances change. Clathrates were first discovered when oil, natural gas and water were pumped through pipelines at high pressure. When ignited the ice like substance releases the methane and burns. Some Energy Information Association (EIA) of the US Department of Energy (DOE) predictions for recov- erable reserves of conventional oil, gas and coal. This table is directly copied from their website. Note the short timescales (calculated with constant production level of 2002, which is very crude approximation, but it gives an idea). So far the depletion of sources as a reason to develop renewable energies: we are running out of fossil fuels that are easy to recover. Politics and policies are important factors in the realization of renewable energies. First realization that economic growth and associated use of resources cannot continue indefinitely was a result of meetings of the Club of Rome; an international group of scientists, politicians and industrial managers acting as an independent think tank. Nevertheless it took several decennia before there started concerted action. The Kyoto protocol is a result of such action. The idea was a world wide reduction of CO2 emission. Other political factor of importance for the realization of renewables is the unequal geographical distribution of fossil fuels on earth, and the resulting dependence on foreign sources of fossils. The task to realize a renewable energy based future is not an easy one! If the world would build one sustainable energy plant every day with 1GW it would take 35 years to account for the worlds energy need. Note that the 35 year mentioned here if at all possible- is similar to the period within which the easy oil could be depleted. In practice renewables will be realized in much larger numbers of much smaller units than GW power plants.

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