Solutions proposed for UK's 'looming energy gap'

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Jan. 11 -- The UK will require supply from all sources of energy if its standard of living is to be sustained, said 150 scientific, technical, economic, and sociological experts who contributed to a report aimed at helping the UK government address a "looming energy gap." Changes in the way energy is produced and used will be necessary, they said.

The Geological Society of London and five sister institutions sponsored a white paper written by John Loughhead, executive director of the UK Energy Research Centre.

To ensure secure, affordable, and environmentally acceptable energy through 2050, the paper stressed a continuing need for three energy elements: fossil fuels, renewables, and nuclear fission.

Fossil fuels
Despite renewable energy's growing role, fossil fuels will remain the primary and most important energy source over the next 50 years, especially for transport, because of their convenience and compatibility with existing infrastructure and products. All expert commentators expect this dominance to continue through 2020 regardless of legislation.

However, clean systems, including carbon sequestration, should be initiated immediately, the group urged. Reducing carbon emissions will require simultaneous action in several areas of the energy system to change the balance and technology of energy supply, distribution, demand, and usage efficiency.

As individual fossil fuels become supply-constrained and prices rise due to technical, market, and geopolitical factors, the UK must set priorities for their use:

-- Oil. Oil probably will experience a supply peak within the time frame because of transportation issues. Even if plenty of reserves are found, a production bottleneck is likely in the short term because of political access to reserves in the Middle East, political and technical difficulties in accessing oil in arctic regions, and a likely shortage of qualified personnel in producing oil companies.

Timing will depend more on political than geological issues. The UK should plan for a sustained high price while recognizing that reduced demand (either through price or carbon legislation) will extend the time over which a given rate of supply can be maintained.

-- Natural gas. A global gas production peak within the study period is unlikely, although projection of historic growth rates suggests production constraints may arise around midcentury. As a net importer of natural gas, the UK will need strategic storage or other supply buffers.

Expanding LNG regasification facilities would alleviate concern about supply security from Russia and would require more storage capacity. Gas-to-liquid technology provides another means of augmenting liquid supplies.

-- Coal. Ample coal supplies exist so coal will probably remain relatively cheap. A price increase of only $10/tonne could effectively double the world's economic coal reserves. Maintaining the UK's coal-based generating capacity would therefore augment both diversity and security of electricity supply. Long term, coal can be used as a chemical source for methane, hydrogen, and liquid fuels when conversion becomes economic.

However, developing means of clean coal use should be a priority. Embracing cleaner technologies for coal involves costs higher than for other fossil fuels, and carbon capture and storage have only been demonstrated in principle. It is likely that permitting for an operational sequestration plant would be difficult, with long delays of the sort nuclear power plants face.

Nuclear energy
Nuclear fission, a mature technology with well known construction and operating costs and a good safety record, also will assume a key role in a future clean-energy mix.

New nuclear construction will almost certainly be required if the UK is to meet its emissions target. But active government involvement will be essential to establish the regulatory and financial frameworks needed to enable it to proceed, the group said. The cost of disposing nuclear waste and decommissioning nuclear plants in particular must be addressed by government policy.

International collaboration on standards and design approvals also would smooth planning, contributing worldwide experience.

The planned retirement dates of existing nuclear plants mean that a decision about whether to replace them with new nuclear construction must be taken soon. Because the world design and supply capacities for nuclear power plants are limited, an early policy decision that translated into early orders would help the UK avoid potential future supply bottlenecks.

Public confidence in any decision is critical, and an open and transparent decision and consultation process is essential in this case.

Renewables
Large-scale renewables, specifically wind, bioenergy, and some marine energies, potentially could meet 15% of current UK demand by 2020, rising to 35-40% by 2050, if the newer technologies could be successfully developed and deployed, the report revealed.

Incentives for development and demand remain necessary, however, and the government would have to improve current measures.

Development would require maintaining and reinforcing government incentives covering both the generation technologies and substantive changes in energy usage and supply systems, particularly changes to electricity networks. These include the use of local electricity grids for power-sharing and the more-efficient energy design of buildings and processes.

Further cost reductions are probable, but not to the historically low levels of fossil fuels.

Public engagement
Future approaches must provide clear, consistent incentives that identify with and engage the public and business. The public's engagement has been poor to date, and the government's attempts to develop it have failed to recognize the way individuals interact with the energy system. And real action for industry has arisen only when appropriate incentives, such as carbon trading, are in place.

The conference focused on two elements for energy-balance improvement: increasing energy-use efficiency and methods for reducing energy demand.

These encourage process changes leading to more-efficient onsite energy generation and usage. However, clear and consistent incentive schemes are still needed to encourage the wider adoption of such measures.

Wider application of existing energy efficiency technologies should be given the same priority as research and development in new technology, the group said. These include wider use of small-scale combined heat and power, or local renewable technologies such as wind in domestic and commercial premises, coupled with the improved energy efficiencies to be gained through improved building standards and wider adoption of low-energy devices.

Demand reduction
Demand reduction will be as important as technology generation, requiring both behavioral changes and technological advances.

Changing the behavior of individuals and UK small businesses will require active government promotion, support, and fiscal incentives to reward real improvements in energy use and local renewable generation.

More-demanding requirements for the energy performance of buildings and equipment should be put in place, coupled with improved information to consumers, including more-detailed information on energy bills. Greater efforts should also be made to provide advice—possibly through the Energy Savings Trust—on how to reduce consumption.

Related Articles

UAE easing gasoline, diesel price controls

07/22/2015

The United Arab Emirates is moving prices of gasoline and diesel toward deregulation effective Aug. 1.

BC bill advances Pacific Northwest LNG

07/22/2015 The British Columbia legislature has passed a controversial bill enabling the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG export project to advance (OGJ Online,...

Excelerate FSRUs complete LNG transfer at Pakistan terminal

07/22/2015 Excelerate Energy LP, The Woodlands, Tex., reported the completion of the first ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of LNG at the Engro Elengy LNG terminal...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices gain on expected weekly supply decline

07/22/2015 Light, sweet crude oil prices settled modestly above $50/bbl on the New York market on July 21, gaining support from a stronger dollar and from exp...

BLM extends comment period for Colorado oil, gas project’s EA

07/21/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management has extended the comment period for a preliminary environmental assessment (EA) of a proposed oil and gas project ...

Study looks at gas transmission, storage sites’ methane releases

07/21/2015 A comprehensive study of US natural gas transmission and storage operations found total methane emissions from 2,292 on-site measurements, addition...

Well completed at Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oil field onshore Russian Arctic

07/21/2015 JSC Gazprom Neft reported completion of construction of the first production well at Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oil field on the Gydan Peninsula in n...

Total starts oil flow from Dalia Phase 1A on Block 17 off Angola

07/21/2015

Total SA has started production from Dalia Phase 1A, a development on the company’s deep offshore operated Block 17, 135 km offshore Angola.

CNOOC starts oil production from Luda 10-1 adjustment project

07/21/2015 CNOOC Ltd. said its comprehensive adjustment project at Luda 10-1 oil field has started production in the Liaodong Bay area of Bohai Gulf (OGJ Onli...
White Papers

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected