Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “fossil fuel”

EU27 Share Fossil Primary Energy Constant until 2030

Contrary to popular belief, the share of oil and gas in the EU27 primary energy mix will remain roughly constant until 2030. In the FitFor55 plans, primary energy demand falls by 20%; mainly thanks to ‘boring’ energy savings.

[] – primary energy consumption EU27
[] – Fit for 55 package under the European Green Deal
[] – ‘Fit for 55’: De EU wil afslanken tot 55% minder emissies

Dutch Government Unfortunately Allows Canadian Firm to Start Fracking

Frackers will soon be injecting benzene and formaldehyde into the soil under high pressure. A part of it comes back and then counts as chemical waste. Even radioactive substances are added. Plus the greenhouse gas methane. Frackers also use a lot of water. I thought we were enjoying a sustainable energy transition together?

[] – Vermilion legt tijdbom onder De Langstraat
[] – De voor en nadelen van fracking en onconventioneel aardgas
[] – EBN: grootste schaliegasactivist van Nederland
[] – Hydraulic fracturing

Ave Caesar, Morituri te Salutant

Overview of the largest fossil fuel power stations in the Netherlands with an output larger than 500 MW. All of them are to be phased out by 2050. A few of them could survive as refactored hydrogen/ammonia/methanol-fueled power stations, to even out intermittent renewable energy supply.

Dutch post-war electricity consumption. Since 2006 consumption is steady at 120 TWh. Note that the Netherlands currently consumes 3 times as much as in 1970. We were already happy then. Should put to rest the notion that eternal economic growth is the only way to salvation.

Dutch electricity production capacity. 20 GW “centraal” in large power stations, the rest “decentraal”, locally produced: generators, wind, solar, biomass.

[] – Elektriciteit in Nederland (2015)

Eemshaven, coal-1560 MW

[] – Eemshavencentrale

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EROI Canadian Tar Sands Rapidly Increasing

What a difference technology makes! Where some, mostly in the doomer corner, claim that it costs more energy to extract tar sands and convert it into fuel than you get in return, here a study that paints a different picture. While tar sands do indeed have a very low EROI, perhaps in another 7 years they could surpass a value of 10 and as such could contribute to complete the energy transition.

[] – Energy Return on Investment of Canadian Oil Sands Extraction from 2009 to 2015

EU Fossil Fuel Subsidy €112B/Year

[] – Phase-out 2020: monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies

Europe Leading the Way in Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Between 1990 and 2014 Europe reduced emissions of greenhouse gases with 23%, yet at the same time increased its real term GDP with 46%.


Solar Fuel

The great advantage of fossil fuels is its storage aspect. It will wait patiently in a tank until somebody needs the energy and decides to burn it. With wind and solar no such luck. For this reason some researchers try to combine the advantages of solar and fossil fuel. Enter solar fuel. The most obvious source of solar fuel is biomass, created from water, oxygen and sunlight, producing sugars with enzymes as catalysts. The essence of solar fuel research consists in circumventing natural processes occurring in plants and create fuel in a more direct way. Solar light is converted into chemicals, using water, oxygen and CO2 as “base materials” and adding some catalyst(s) to speed things up, c.q. enable the process.

Solar fuels are carbon neutral in the sense that they recycle CO2 from the atmosphere before they are released again into the atmosphere.

Solar fuel production methods can be either direct (H2) or indirect (biomass).

Direct solar fuel production. TiO2 photocatalyst for water splitting. H2 bubbles are generated from the catalyst surface only by sunlight irradiation.

[] – Solar fuel
[] – Solar Fuels: How Close, How Real?
[] – The Wild and (Potentially) Wonderful World of Solar Fuels
[] – How solar energy can be transformed into fuel
[] – Solar Fuels: How Planes And Cars Could Be Powered By The Sun
[] – The Road to Solar Fuels Hits a Speed Bump
[] – SOLARH2 (EU)
[] – Scientists May Be a Step Closer to Creating Solar-Fueled Vehicles
[] – Solar fuels: materials breakthrough could open new chapter

[] – Inorganic Materials Chemistry, Solar Fuels
[] – UMC Utrecht – Solar Fuels

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European Oil Majors Favor Carbon Tax


Quite a breakthrough:

For large companies such as Shell, BP and Statoil to join forces and unequivocally state, as they now have, that a price on carbon should be a “key element” of climate policy frameworks is a refreshing boost to pre-Paris United Nations climate talks.

Editor: we are in favor of a carbon tax. This increases the price of fossil fuel and gives a competitive boost to wind and solar methods of energy generation, that are the future anyway. There is no need to wait with massive introduction of solar and wind until the last fossil fuel has been burned. Leave fossil before fossil leaves us.

[] – The good, the bad and the ugly when oil giants shift to natural gas

Renewables Are For Winners, Oil For Losers

Here are the results of the Legatum Prosperity Index, showing the world’s most and least prosperous nations in 2012. The most prosperous nations:

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Australia
5. New Zealand
6. Canada
7. Finland
8. Netherlands
9. Switzerland
10. Ireland


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Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis

Fischer Tropsch synthesis is crucial in producing fuels, plastics and chemicals from gas, coal or biomass.

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The Bakken Formation

People who reject the peak-oil theory, like to point at the potential for extracting large amounts of fossil fuels by means of new technologies, first and foremost hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Many point at the Bakken Formation on the US-Canadian border as one of the most promising territories. This post presents arguments pro and con.


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Dennis Meadows

Dennis Meadows in 1972 was a prominent member of the Club of Rome. On March 1, 2012 a symposium celebrated 40 years of ‘Limits to Growth‘, one of the most influential environmental studies of the 20th century. Meadows no longer believes in sustainable development, it is too late for that. Meadows currently holds that collapse is now all but inevitable, but that its actual form will be too complex for any model to predict. “Collapse will not be driven by a single, identifiable cause simultaneously acting in all countries,” he observes. “It will come through a self-reinforcing complex of issues”—including climate change, resource constraints and socioeconomic inequality… As scarcities mount and inequality increases, revolutions and socioeconomic movements like the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street will become more widespread—as will their repression. [source].

[] – “There is nothing we can do” – Meadows

The Composition of US Oil Production

US overall liquid fuel consumption is currently at 19 million barrels per day. The graph shows what the US is able to produce itself, that is slightly more than 50%. What we see here is 1) crude oil (blue); 2) liquids derived from natural gas (red); 3) other liquids, mainly biofuel, that is corn ethanol (green) and 4) volume changes from cracking heavy oil in US refineries (purple). The graph makes clear that most of the production increase of recent years has come from the non-crude components, with biofuels as the largest source of growth.


Olduvai Theory

Theory that predicts that in 2050 the planet Earth will inhabit merely 2 billion people as a consequence of resource depletion. And that man will return to the stone age eventually. We respectfully disagree with that latter notion.

Richard C. Duncan
[Die Off – 1996]
[oilcrisis – update 2006]

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Rembrandt Koppelaar on World Energy Consumption 1830-2010

Today’s post goes into the global consumption of energy and provides a dataset in Excel for researchers on global primary energy consumption from 1830 to 2010. In other words, the energy contained in fossil fuels, uranium, and biomass in their raw form before processing into electricity, heat, or liquid fuel, and direct electricity production from hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal. Read more…

Energy slave

We can think of no better way to illustrate the impact of fossil fuels on modern society than using the concept of energy slave. An energy slave is to be understood as an imaginary adult man, who is located in your basement, sitting on a bicycle and tirelessly generating electrical energy. He does not need food, social life or sex, he merely generates energy for you without complaint. Picture this:


The average American citizen is on top of the global energy consumption pyramid (for how much longer?) and is so lucky to have some 147 of these imaginairy slaves working for him day and night to garantee him a western life style. These slaves do everything: heat your home, keep your computer, fridge, television, vacuum cleaner going, your car, your bus, your train, your flight and your industries. Everything. Today’s energy supplies provide the equivalent of the work of 22 billion slaves, according to former oil industry man Colin Campbell [*].

Slavery was abolished in the US around 1865. Usually this event is portrayed as a triumph of morality over greed. But in reality it is more likely that at that time Uncle Tom was outperformed by fossil fuels and rising industrial society. It simply was too much trouble to keep human slaves any more. Interesting hypothesis to test.

The prospect for the future is that every year a few imaginairy energy slaves will leave your basement, never to return. The interesting question is how many energy slaves we will keep when the situation will reach the bottom. Hopefully enough to prevent the return of human slavery.

[*] A total of 22 billion slaves does not match 147 slaves per capita. Different people make different assumptions as to what a human slave can achieve in a day. But the point is that if you switch on a light, it means that in a world without fossil fuels you would need a football team worth of energy slaves to accomplish the same effect.

[] – Vermogensmeting in de Tour de France

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