Energy and Global Warming News for May 26: Oil to Reach $108 by 2020, $133 by 2035, EIA Says in big global forecast [seriously]

JR:  If you think we’re going to have to wait until 2020 to see $108 oil and 2035 to see $133, then I have some credit default swaps to sell you (see Deutsche Bank: Oil to hit $175 a barrel by 2016 and World’s top energy economist warns peak oil threatens recovery: “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us”).  This is one reason EIA’s long-term forecasts are not viewed as terribly useful by a lot of folks.

Oil to Reach $108 by 2020 as Economy Grows, EIA Says [seriously]

Oil prices will rise to $108 a barrel by 2020 as a global economic rebound boosts demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said today.

Average prices for crude oil, which rose 17 cents yesterday to settle at $70.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, will keep climbing beyond 2020 to $133 a barrel by 2035, the EIA said in its yearly International Energy Outlook.

Oil prices hit a record of $147.27 in July 2008 before collapsing as the first global recession since World War II cut demand for energy. Today’s report predicts a slower recovery in oil prices than last year’s forecast of $110 a barrel by 2015.

“The global economic recession that began in 2007 and continued into 2009 has had a profound impact on world energy demand in the near term,” the EIA said. “Although the recession appears to have ended, the pace of recovery has been uneven so far.”

While the report predicts an oil price of $133 by 2035, there is a “wide range of possibilities,” Howard Gruenspecht, EIA’s deputy administrator, said at a press conference in Washington. The report includes alternative scenarios that could result in 2035 oil prices as low as $51 a barrel and as high as $210, Gruenspecht said.

World energy demand is expected to grow 49 percent by 2035 under the scenario in which prices rise to $133, the EIA said. Energy demand in developing countries like China and India will rise by 84 percent, outpacing growth of 14 percent in the nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which include the U.S., U.K. and Japan, EIA said.

Oil Consumption

World oil consumption should grow 7 percent from its 2007 level of 86.1 million barrels a day to 92.1 million barrels by 2020, the EIA said. It will increase 28 percent to 110.6 million barrels by 2035, the EIA said.

World oil production is expected to increase by 25.8 million barrels a day by 2035, with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries retaining its current 40 percent share of global output.

Global natural gas consumption is predicted to rise 44 percent by 2035 to 156 trillion cubic feet. To keep pace with rising demand for the fuel from factories and power plants, natural gas production should increase 46 percent by 2035.

Climate Wire (subs. req’d) quotes me today as a critic of how EIA models energy and technology:

From oil price spikes to U.S. natural gas supply to their less-than-enthusiastic projections for renewable energy development, EIA analysts come under fire nearly every time they put out their best guesses.

“Most models say the future will be like the recent past. But in energy, that’s often not the case,” said Joseph Romm, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former assistant Energy secretary. “When it isn’t the case, they fail catastrophically.”

The agency has underestimated wind power, Romm said, and has a built-in bias against solar power and other technologies that appear to be developing rapidly and signing up electric utilities. “The EIA often models the impact of climate change, but it’s not good at dealing with innovation,” he said.

Green Roofs as Come to China

Architects use all kinds of tricks to make their buildings look better in renderings; mirrored glass used to be a favourite, with renderings of buildings showing reflections of sky and clouds as the building just blended into the landscape. As we have noted before, green roofs are the new mirrored glass, as architects bring roofs down to ground level and blur the line between landscape and building. But just imagine what this project would look like if green roofs had not been invented.

The architect of the Caohejing hi tech park in Shanghai, massimo roj of progetto CMR, tells designboom:

Special attention to the environment has been taken into consideration in the design incorporating plants in order to reduce and save energy. The large amount of green space is the heart of the project. To lower the density of visible construction and significantly increase the area devoted to green, the project foresees the creation of ‘hills’ below buildings which require less direct light, such as businesses, shopping centers, boutiques, sporting centers, restaurants, bars and a lobby.

Green roofs are wonderful things. But perhaps there should be a rule that architects showing aerial perspectives should have to show them without the green as well, so people can see what almost two million square feet of building covering a site edge to edge really looks like.

Electric car startup unveils plan for Ohio battery plant

Coda Automotive Inc. announced plans yesterday to build the batteries for its electric cars in Columbus, Ohio, jointly operating a manufacturing plant with a Chinese battery company.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Coda, which hopes to begin selling a compact sedan later this year, has raised $125 million in capital and lined up $300 million in financing, but it is still dependent on state and federal tax breaks and grants, the company said yesterday. It will submit an application to the U.S. Department of Energy seeking $400 million to $500 million through a program offering loan guarantees for green auto manufacturing.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke recently toured a Chinese plant jointly run by Coda and Lishen Power Battery, the company’s partner for the proposed Columbus plant. Coda scrapped a previous plan to build its battery plant in Connecticut after the federal government rejected the company’s request for funding.

“Battery production is something that is hugely important for the future and for this company to choose Ohio for this I think is very, very good news,” Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) said yesterday.

Engineer Explores Intersection of Engineering, Economics and Green Policy

Engineers bring a critical perspective to the economic models and mathematical predictions that are used to influence public policy, says Iowa State mechanical engineer W. Ross Morrow.

“With these quantitative models, people in policy and economics tend to take them at their word,” said Morrow, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering with a courtesy appointment in economics. “Engineers bring a great skepticism about what the models say. They ask, ‘What evidence is the model based on?'”

Morrow, who’s finishing his first year at Iowa State, knows what he’s talking about. He’s building a research career on improving large-scale computer models of engineering and economic systems. He’s focusing on energy and environmental issues that involve government, corporations, technology and consumers.

As a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Morrow developed new theories and numerical methods to analyze the government policies regulating greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on the auto industry’s design and pricing decisions.

Then, as a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, he and colleagues studied how hikes in gas taxes could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. When their report was released in March, it made The New York Times’ Dot Earth blog (“Fuel taxes must rise, Harvard researchers say”), Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (“Will America stand for $7 a gallon?”) and an interview on Bloomberg Television.

As an Iowa State faculty member, he’s continuing to look at numerical methods for modeling engineering and economic systems. He’s working to improve how models handle something as complex and uncertain as the energy industry. How do models, for example, account for uncertainties about the future of oil reserves and advances in vehicle technology?

He also wants to develop new technical solutions to building large-scale, complex models that take into account engineering technology and market behavior.

Amid Focus On Spill, Obama Touts Alternative Energy

President Obama visits a solar cell factory in California on Wednesday, touting a federal loan guarantee that is helping the company to add jobs.

The visit is part of a broader push by the White House to promote alternative forms of energy. But in the wake of the massive Gulf oil spill, some observers say Obama is missing an opportunity for even stronger action.

The Solyndra company in Fremont, Calif., was one of the early beneficiaries of Obama’s support for green energy. Last year, the federal government guaranteed a $500 million loan for the company that, White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said, is allowing Solyndra to build a new solar cell factory employing 3,000 construction workers and creating 1,000 permanent jobs.

“But what’s happening at Solyndra isn’t just about new jobs today. It’s about new industries tomorrow,” Bernstein said. “What’s more, these new industries are in the business of clean, renewable energy, thus invoking environmental benefits while reducing our dependence on foreign imports of fossil fuels.”

Alternatives In Focus

The administration wants to do more to encourage alternative forms of energy, including solar, wind and nuclear power. It has asked Congress to expedite funding for additional loan guarantees.

Obama also called last week for higher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks of the future. He said it’s important to stretch every gallon of oil as far as it can go.

“The disaster in the Gulf only underscores that even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies,” Obama said.

But the president acknowledged it would take more than higher fuel economy standards to make the U.S. a leader in green energy. He repeated his pledge to work with Congress to pass a broad energy and climate bill.

Political adviser David Axelrod said on MSNBC this week that effort could get a lift from the oil spill.

“I would like to think that this will increase the sense of urgency in Congress because it underscores the value in developing alternative sources of energy,” Axelrod said. “So I hope that it will give added impetus. We’re going to press very hard.”

US secretary seeks clean energy energy ties in Indonesia

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Tuesday the United States was keen to develop clean-energy partnerships with Indonesia, a leading energy producer, ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama.

With executives from 10 energy companies in tow, Locke held group meetings on clean energy with officials and business leaders in Jakarta, as well as talks with the government, said the US embassy.

Obama is expected to sign a “strategic partnership” with Indonesia when he visits in June, although the details have not been made known.

“The companies on this trade mission are at the vanguard of a movement to meet the world?s clean energy needs,” Locke said in a statement.

“As they expand their presence in fast-growing countries like Indonesia they can help solve unprecedented energy and environmental challenges, while creating good-paying jobs for the people of America and Indonesia.

“That’s a win for everyone involved.”

Companies represented in the delegation included General Electric, Lockheed Martin Global, Oshkosh Corporation, Peabody Energy and Pratt and Whitney Power Systems.

Indonesia is a top coal exporter, is the world’s fourth most populous country with about 240 million people, and has the largest Muslim population, making it a strategic economic and diplomatic partner of the United States in Southeast Asia.

In addition to exporting “dirty” fuels like coal and gas, it is the top exporter of palm oil used in biofuels and is estimated to possess around 40 percent of the world’s geothermal energy potential, or around 28,000 megawatts.

As EU wrangles over CO2 cuts, green tech fears Asia

European green technology companies warn that failing to toughen up European Union climate targets will play into the hands of rivals in Asia.

Traditional heavy industry has successfully fought off the prospect of deeper European emissions curbs since U.N. talks ended in stalemate in Copenhagen last December.

Since then, climate issues have dropped down the agenda as EU governments struggle to contain the debt crisis.

European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard will seek to regain the initiative on Wednesday by launching a cost-benefit analysis of deepening EU emissions cuts to 30 percent from the current 20 percent target.

But heavy industry has already launched a pre-emptive attack, uniting against deeper emissions cuts.

The economic crisis may have made such a move cheaper by eroding the price of carbon emissions permits, but it has also left companies too weak to make the required investment, they say. [ID:nLDE6460Z6]

Their argument appears to have already been won, with successive drafts of Hedegaard’s paper toning down any hint of a political proposal.

German economy minister Rainer Bruederle said on Tuesday more time was needed to get past the worst of the economic turmoil.

“At such a moment, it is legitimate to owe oneself more time,” he told reporters.

But Europe’s nascent green industries are keen to point out they are not the same as traditional sectors such as steel and cement — and sticking with the current 20 percent could slow their growth.

GOP, Silicon Valley ‘disconnect’ over green

As President Obama visits a Fremont solar panel manufacturing plant today to tout green jobs, a huge divide is opening up between the state’s top Republican and Democratic candidates over their environmental positions – in particular about how to attract and retain clean-tech business.

Four of the five Republicans seeking statewide office boast about their Silicon Valley roots, but all oppose the state’s groundbreaking climate change law, known as AB32, that was championed by the region’s tech leaders. Under AB32, California must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, returning them to 1990 levels.

While critics say the law would be a job-killer, they often do so by citing a widely discredited 2009 study by Sacramento State University business Professor Sanjay Varshney that examined only the potential cost of the law and not the savings.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, among other candidates, supports an initiative expected to qualify for the November ballot that would suspend the state’s sweeping law to curb greenhouse gases. The campaign is largely funded by out-of-state oil companies, including Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro.

“These candidates are incredibly bright and often in alignment with valley leaders – but in this case there is a serious disconnect,” said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

7 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 26: Oil to Reach $108 by 2020, $133 by 2035, EIA Says in big global forecast [seriously]

  1. prokaryote says:

    Nissan Starts U.S. Battery Plant, Expecting Electric Car Boom

    By the time it opens in 2012, the Smyrna, Tennessee, factory will be able to supply lithium-ion battery packs for 200,000 electric cars annually, topping Nissan’s plan to build as many as 150,000 rechargeable Leaf hatchbacks a year in Smyrna. Japan’s third-largest carmaker said today its $1.7 billion investment in battery and Leaf assembly capacity in Smyrna, funded mainly by a $1.4 billion U.S. government loan, will add as many as 1,300 jobs in Tennessee.

    “What we’re doing here will radically transform the automotive experience for consumers,” Ghosn said. “Production of Nissan Leaf and lithium-ion batteries in Smyrna brings the United States closer to its goal of energy independence, creates green jobs and helps sustain American manufacturing.”

    The first shipments of Yokohama-based Nissan’s Leaf, capable of traveling as far as 100 miles solely on battery power, will arrive late this year in Japan and the U.S. Nissan has said it expects U.S. tax credits and rising fuel prices to spur demand for the $32,780 car, which will cost $25,280 after U.S. subsidies.

  2. mike roddy says:

    I agree with your comments above, Joe. I’ve worked with EIA on research projects, and they are better at collecting and projecting data than analyzing it. A big problem is that they accept industry reports about emissions and supply at face value, since they have neither the staffing nor the inclination to look at the data independently.

    IEA is better, but they are more circumspect about decadal cost projections, due to the variables mentioned above, including peak oil, of course.

    I have researched and published on US timber industry issues for 16 years, often relying on US government agencies such as USDA, RPA and PNR. They have a habit of projecting that demand will meet supply in the future, even in a world of increasing population and consumption. In the last few decades, this has included the need to plunder National Forest land, and to increasingly rely on old growth imports from Canada. No values are assigned to these activities- understandable, since it’s not in their job descriptions.

    The same is true for oil. EIA projects demand satisfaction and does not assign risks or damage from offshore or heavy oil, and does not fairly calculate recovery or environmental costs.

    All it will take is one key exporter such as Iran or Venezuela to implode for prices to go berserk, since demand/supply is unlikely to be in sync anyway. Pressure will increase to add tar sands capacity, and heavy oil from South America will become attractive. That’s why our focus has to be on developing and implementing clean and sustainable alternatives. Duh!

  3. llewelly says:

    Oil to Reach $108 by 2020, $133 by 2035, EIA Says in big global forecast [seriously]

    Perhaps they expect a massive shift to alternatives. Surely we can agree a shift to alternatives is necessary. (Provided those alternatives don’t include other fossil fuels.)

  4. Bill R says:

    I think picking a price is an exercise in extreme guessing. We not only have supply and demand affecting price but the amount available for export — which is very important for an importing country such as ours — and inflation, deflation, demand destruction, etc.

    If we had the type of deflationary depression predicted by the people at the automatic earth blog (which I highly recommend as a primer on where massive global debt default may very well lead us to) it might be that oil ends up at 30-40$ a barrel… but this price will “feel” like $200 a barrel.

    The literal dollar denominated price is impossible to forcast, I think.

    But THIS is garbage:

    “World oil consumption should grow 7 percent from its 2007 level of 86.1 million barrels a day to 92.1 million barrels by 2020, the EIA said. It will increase 28 percent to 110.6 million barrels by 2035, the EIA said.”

    There are just simply no known reserves of oil that are going to allow us to grow oil supply at that rate given the 6% depletion rate that the IEA has determined in already producing well. These figures are based on entirely fictional senarios of undiscovered oil and massive utilization of Shale oil and Tarsands that will be impossible given the energetic, economic, pollution, infrastructural and freshwater constraints on producing that oil.

    It’s really complete fiction the EIA should be ashamed of even producing such figures.

  5. Chris Dudley says:

    Bill (#3),

    The energetics and economics of producing large amounts of oil from cooking shale in 2035 do not look unfavorable. The cost of renewable energy is falling and there is no reason not to expect $0.25/Watt or less solar PV at that time. Using that to produce oil from immature shale should be very feasible. Freshwater may constrain tar sand production in places but there is much more oil to be gotten from shale than from tar sands so that is not very important.

  6. paulm says:

    Oil to reach $125 in next couple of years.

  7. climateprogressive says:

    Chris (#4),

    The rate-constraints with both sands and shales are big factors though. Neither will ever substitute for regular crude on that basis alone, regardless of EROEI factors.