Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

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Peak Oil 2026

The shape of the global oil production curve was never subject of debate, only the moment when it would peak, a point in time known as “peak oil”. The peak oil movement claimed it would happen in the first decade of this century and perhaps they were right, but only if you replace “oil” with “conventional oil”. Then came fracking.

This blog started in January 2012, 2542 posts ago, anticipating a global catastrophe in the wake of peak oil, after an imprudent intellectual diet of books like these:

Didn’t happen.

By December 2012, the insight grew that due to fracking, the world and industrial society would enjoy a delay of execution with at least a decade. Since 2012, the sense of foreboding of catastrophe disappeared entirely here and was replaced with a mild sort of optimism regarding the energy situation, as renewable technology made enormous progress. And more important, Europe began to embrace the new energy generation methods, in all segments of society: population, industry, government, media.

Where America sank back into complacency, bought SUVs only and decided to never look further ahead than three months, the European Union as of 2005 and targeted at 2050, began to develop a comprehensive renewable energy policy, that is beginning to take the world by storm, culminating in the Paris Accords of 2016, signed by the entire world, minus the US and Syria.

According to the Norwegian energy consultancy Rystad, the world needs to brace for peak oil 2026, at 101.6 mbd, five years from now, to remain on a plateau until 2030. Perhaps, this time it’s for real. Rystad refers to “peak oil demand”, suggesting that at no time demand will outstrip supply In other words, the world will leave oil before oil will leave the world.

In contrast to 2007, peak oil is no longer a frightful perspective, at least not for Europe, that is perfectly positioned to deal with it. Peak oil will even blast the last opposition against the transition out of the way, mostly barricaded in populist parties, because it will make discussions about the reality of man-made climate change superfluous. Peak oil will make the transition irreversible, with positive consequences for the geopolitical stature of Europe, that has an energy model on offer for the entire world.

Peak oil 2026: welcome.

[] – Slowing down as electric vehicles accelerate, oil demand set to peak at 101.6 million bpd in 2026
[] – Global oil demand to peak in 2026 -Rystad Energy
[] – Rystad
[] – Peak oil
[] – Energy policy of the European Union
[] – Paris Agreement

Shell Peak Oil was 2019. Quo Vadis?

Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it will reduce oil production and that Shell oil production will never top the amount produced in 2019. Hence, Shell peak oil supply was 2019. The company intends to layoff 7-9000 people in the coming 2 years.

So what is next, for the Anglo-Dutch oil giant? Preparing for the retirement home? Not so fast, say many organizations in the Netherlands. Shell is an incredible competent company, that should play a major role in the energy transition. For that purpose it needs to reinvent itself. Shell already said it wants to become “greener”, wants to reduce the carbon-intensity of its products by 35% in 2035. The EU has as its target to increase offshore wind from 12 GW now to 300 GW in 2050 or 10 GW per year. If you realize that Vestas produced 13 GW capacity and Siemens-Gamesa 9 GW, it’s obvious that that goal is realistic. Many want to see that Shell takes over a third manufacturer. With Vestas worth $30B and Siemens-Gamesa $20B, a takeover by Shell would be doable, provided it doesn’t wait too long. Both Vestas and Siemens-Gamesa saw their worth double or more in a single year.

[] – Shell gaat olieproductie verminderen: ‘Nooit meer zo veel als in 2019’
[] – Shell, neem ‘t voortouw en word echt groen

Conventional World Oil Production Flat Since 2005

[] – Conventional world oil production has not increased since 2005.

Rembrandt Koppelaar and the Demise of Peak Oil

Rembrandt Koppelaar relaxed speech for the London Imperial College 2013. Gone is the alarmist tone.

[] – London Imperial College conference 2013.
[] – Personal site

Rembrandt Koppelaar was the chairman of Peak Oil Nederland and one of the driving forces behind spreading the “peak oil” idea in the Netherlands. In 2011 however, he published an article at, “The Future of Cheap Energy: Underground Coal Gasification“, stating that there was no fossil fuel shortage immanent and that UCG provided a way out. Now we know that UCG has a potential that dwarfs the possibilities of the fracking technology. Yet, in the light of climate change, UCG is a forbidden fruit and at best can provide a fossil fuel bridge into the renewable energy Nirvana.

[] – The Tesla Revolution: Why Big Oil is Losing the Energy War, 2017
[] – De ondergang van de olie-industrie in 64 stappen, 2017
(The demise of the oil industry in 64 steps)

[] – The site wend dead by the end of 2011, for good reason

[] – The Future of Cheap Energy: Underground Coal Gasification (2011)

Rembrandt Koppelaar in 2008 presenting “peak oil” on Dutch television (English subs). Koppelaar presenting the ASPO-2000, Richard Heinberg tale, he would later abandon (and so did Heinberg)

The romantic early days of the Dutch “peak oil” movement, located at a Amsterdam attic, ‘evangelizing’ a dramatic future that wouldn’t materialize. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

The Final Nail in the Coffin of US Peak Oil Supply


That’s it, the final nail in the coffin of US peak oil supply:

The USGS estimates that over 46 billion barrels of oil, 280 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are trapped in these low-permeability shale formations. To better understand just how staggering these numbers are, think about this: at the end of 2017, total U.S. proven reserves of crude oil hovered around 40 billion barrels. For natural gas, figures stood around 465 trillion cubic feet (tcf). The new upward revision of Permian resources represents a more than 100% and 65% increase in U.S. oil and gas reserves, respectively, if they can be extracted economically.

[] – US Oil And Gas Reserves Double With New Permian Discovery
[] – Assessment of undiscovered continuous oil and gas resources in the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation of the Delaware Basin, Permian Basin Province, New Mexico and Texas, 2018
[deepresource] – The Sudden Death of Peak Oil – 4.5 Trillion Barrels of Oil Left
[] – We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all

Goldman-Sachs – Peak Oil Demand 2024, not 2040

Goldman-Sachs produced a report saying that peak-oil demand could be upon us as early as 2024, in the “extreme case”. Causes: increased vehicle efficiency, e-vehicle penetration and lower economic growth. Expected 2030 e-vehicle fleet: 86 million, up from 2 million today.

[] – Goldman Sachs warns of peak oil demand
[] – Get Ready for Peak Oil Demand

The Case For Peak Oil (Now)

JODI-World-TotalThis is it? Peak oil 2015?

After kjell Aleklett yet another voice who claims that ‘peak oil’ (=point in time where the world’s oil production will reach a historic maximum) is now. World oil production increased over the last two years thanks to shale oil production. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Russia, USA and Canada were mostly responsible for the production increase over the past ten years.

Big-5Big five

The rest combines it 5 million barrel/day less since 2005:


The author concludes:

I am more convinced than ever that 2015 will be the final peak in world oil production. And we may know well before a lot of people realize.

[] – The Case For Peak Oil, by Ron Patterson
[deepresource] – Kjell Aleklett Update: Peak Oil = 2015-2016

Peak Oil Infographic


More Signs That 2015-2016 Will be Global Peak-Oil


Even representatives of the oil industry have to admit:

In a world where oil prices are expected to average just $50-$70 per barrel over the next few years, actual decline rates could easily reach 3 percent or even 4 percent per year. Under a range of plausible assumptions, decline rates could easily cut between 1.4 million and 3.6 million bpd from the output of existing fields in 2016 and again in 2017.

Peak oil finally arrived with a decade delay, due to fracking.

[] – Kemp: Decline Rates Will Ensure Oil Output Falls in 2016
[deepresource] – Kjell Aleklett Update: Peak Oil = 2015-2016

Richard Heinberg, kom er maar in.

More Evidence That Peak Oil is Now


Earlier, ASPO chairman Kjell Aleklett predicted that peak oil would be 2015-2016. Now Ron Patterson of has analyzed new EIA data and comes tentatively to the same conclusion:

I am now more convinced than ever that 2015 will see the peak in world crude oil production. I have very closely studied the charts of every producing nation and my prognosis is based on that study. I see many nations in steep decline and most every other nation peaking now, or in the last couple of years, or very near their peak today. These include the world’s three largest producers, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

Editor: the delay of execution thanks to fracking has now been consumed. Expect the oil price to go up substantially soon. Again: peak oil is a confusing term. Far more interesting is peak fossil, since most applications of oil, gas and coal are interchangeable. Nevertheless, peak oil will make itself felt, especially for those people who recently bought a new car fueled by diesel or petrol. That was probably a miss-investment.

[] – 2015 Could Be The Year Of Peak Oil

BP World Energy Data 2015


Includes: crude oil + shale oil + oil sands + natural gas.

Highlights data:

  • 90% production increase comes from USA and Canada, the rest from Brasil. Price drop will probably eliminate further North-America production growth this year.
  • Largest decline came from Libya.
  • Russia and China, the world’s #2 and #5 producers, together produced nearly 18% of the world’s oil. But recently, their annual gains have been shrinking.
  • Iraq and Iran have the potential to make significant production gains.

[] – ASPO USA Peak Oil Review, 15 June 2015

World Oil Output Last 3 Years

Peak oil: not there yet. According to ASPO president Kjell Aleklett,
peak oil = 2015-2016.

[] – World Oil Output Last 3 Years

Peak Oil Debunked

Peak Oil Sneak Preview

Severe fuel shortages in Nigeria.
Reason: strikes by fuel marketers and transporters.

This is extraordinary. Remember all those dire things that were supposed to happen when Peak Oil hit? All the stuff in The Long Emrgency? Cars queuing up for miles to buy petrol, public transportation jacking up rates, cell phones not working, banks closing their doors, planes grounded for lack of fuel, supermarkets stripped bare, scalpers selling gas in jerry-cans, factories shutting down, stations going off the air, people losing their jobs, political disorder, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria… Turns out all of it is happening…In Nigeria… Felix Onuah, a Nigerian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Abuja on Thursday that many companies and businesses have been forced to shut down due to a dearth of supplies.”There is a serious crisis. About eighty percent of petrol stations do not have fuel in the country,” he said.


[] – Peak Oil Dress Rehearsal?

Peak Oil Comic



Cassandra Ugo Bardi and the Philosophy of Less


Ugo Bardi is a member of ASPO Italy and has written books about resource depletion. And on top of that since March 2011 he maintains a blog named Cassandra Legacy. Browsing through his earlier entries it is obvious that Bardi is not afraid to use the word ‘collapse’.

Yet two days ago he posted an article on his blog that seems to contradict his earlier concern:

With the ongoing collapse of the oil prices, we can say that it is game over for the oil and gas industry, in particular for the production of “tight” (or “shale”) oil and gas. Prices may still go back to reasonably high levels, in the future, but the industry will never be able to regain the momentum that had made its US supporters claim “energy independence” and “centuries of abundance.” The bubble may not burst all of a sudden, but it surely will deflate… I think we can identify at least three different strategies for the future: 1) more of the same (oil and gas) 2) a push to nuclear, and 3) a push for renewables. Let’s see to examine what the future may have in store for us…

3. A big push for renewables. Surprisingly, the renewable industry may have serious chances to take over from a senescent oil industry, leaving the nuclear industry standing still and gasping at the sight. The progress in renewable technology, especially in photovoltaic cells, has been simply fantastic during the past decade (see, e.g., the recent MIT report). We have now a set of methods for producing electric power that can compete with traditional sources, watt for watt, dollar for dollar. Consider that the most efficient of these technologies do not need critically rare materials and that none brings the strategic and security problem of nuclear. Finally, consider that it has been shown (Sgouridis, Bardi, and Csala) that the present renewable technology could take over from the current sources fast enough to prevent major damage from climate change.

It looks like we have a winner, right? Indeed, the atmosphere around renewables is one of palpable optimism. If renewable energy picks up enough momentum, there will be nothing able to stop it until it has catapulted all of us, willing or not, into a new (and cleaner) world.

There is a problem, though. The renewable industry is still tiny in comparison to the nuclear industry and especially in comparison to the oil and gas industry. And we know that might usually wins against right. The sheer financial power of the traditional energy industry may well be enough to abort the change before it becomes unstoppable. Something wicked may still come……. (*)

Editor: we started our blog nine months later than Bardi started his and we have arrived at the same conclusion as he does: in principle there is no long term energy problem. Renewables can for 100% replace fossil fuel as an energy source. And in all likelihood there is enough fossil fuel left to set up this new renewable energy infrastructure. Creating 10-15 solar panels per household is less of an effort than producing a car for said household and far less costly and lasts 30 years, so what’s the problem? Our focus of concern has moved away from energy problems towards geopolitical transition and risk of war, financial instability and multicultural destabilization.

EXTRACTED says that we are reaching the limits of economically feasible extraction of a number of mineral commodities, including metals and fossil fuels, as while the world will never run out of its minerals, extracting them will prove far more expensive, making their everyday use unfeasible. Instead, we must meticulously manage what is left and use renewables to generate energy. We need to close the industrial cycle, recover the minerals used and transform our approach to resources.

Ugi Bardi’s speech during the hearing “EU Energy Security Strategy under the conditions of the Internal Energy Market” organized by ITRE Committee (Industry, research, energy) at the European Parliament, Brussels 2014-11-5. Bardi is professor of Chemistry at the University of Florence and he is past chair and cofounder of Aspo Italia, the Italian association for the study of peak oil.

[] – Ugo Bardi
[] – Ugo Bardi
[] – Wir versuchen die Leute zu warnen

Winners & Losers Oil Price Collapse


The data explains why Europe is booming right now.

But this picture could change radically soon, with the rapidly approaching of peak oil in 2015-2016.

Kjell Aleklett Update: Peak Oil = 2015-2016

What happened to peak oil?

Here an older 2012 video from Swedish peak oil luminary and ASPO chairman Kjell Aleklett.

At the time, when we started this blog, we were entirely in the Richard Heinberg mode of thinking, summarized as: ‘industrial society is going to be hit very soon by a truck, that few see coming and industrial society is doomed, because the world is running out of oil quickly.

We no longer think that is the case. That doesn’t mean that peak oil is not going to happen, but it is at least a little postponed and there is fossil fuel life after peak oil. On the fossil fuel supply front, we are much more optimistic than we were three years ago. Meanwhile we think that it is very well possible to have a sustainable light-weight industrial society for 100% based on renewable energy, to be largely realized by 2050, at least in Europe, North-America and China.

There is no video made by Aleklett since, so this could suggest that he quietly dropped the peak oil subject? Not really. Here a recent article from his blog, let’s see what he has to say on peak oil in 2015:

[] – The crash in the price of oil may change the oil market – a look at the IEA’s “Oil Medium-Term Market Report 2015”

The article discusses this report:

[] – Medium-Term Oil Market Report 2015 (80 euro)

Aleklett argues that he and the other ASPO members were basically completely correct with their predictions concerning conventional oil and that production indeed peaked in 2005. The increase in oil production of 4.2 Mb/d we saw from 2008 to 2013 was not cheap (conventional) oil; It came from deepwater, from Canada’s oil-sands and as NGL and shale oil from fracking in the USA.

The world acording to the IEA

Aleklett explains that a reduced need for oil imports (US cars becoming 25% more efficient over the past decade) has led to the current oversupply of oil on the world market and corresponding price implosion. In other words: demand destruction was an important factor causing the drop in the oil prices.

According to Aleklett, OPEC has lost its significance, because it no longer has the will to set the price by varying production, like it did in the past. Everybody is now producing the maximum amount it can, which lead to price erosion.

Aleklett is skeptical of the IEA’s future prognoses. According to him neither shale oil nor the price crash of the past six months negate the fact that the world finds itself near Peak Oil and he concludes concerning conventional plus unconventional oil:

There are strong indications that 2015/2016 may see this global peak.

Editor: in our view, Aleklett might well be right about “peak oil=2016”, but he is focusing too much on oil, where he should concentrate on fossil fuel in general. With the current level of technology, oil, gas and coal are highly interchangeable, although they are not equally clean (read: dirty). When you add up all potentially combustible hydrocarbon material, still stored in the earth’s crust or laying around on the bottom of the ocean (methane-hydrates), we tentatively come to the conclusion that fossil fuel is indeed an infinite resource. Not in a literally sense, after all the earth is a sphere with 12,000 km diameter, but in a practical sense, namely that there is probably more fossil fuel around than the tiny earth’s atmosphere ever can handle. This is easy to exemplify: the atmosphere measures about 30 km. If in a thought experiment the atmosphere would be cooled to near zero degrees Kelvin, that atmosphere would shrink to a pool of ca. 10 meter liquid oxygen and nitrogen. The atmosphere is that thin. And it is in that tiny pool that cars, airplanes, home heating equipment, etc., etc. discharge their combustion waste into.

To illustrate the huge fossil fuel reserves, take for example the recent report about the discoveries of huge coal reserves under the North Sea, 20-150 times the total amount of oil burned so far in the entire history.

Another question is if that fossil fuel is accessible. Key parameter is EROEI (energy return on energy investment), that is: do you get more energy in return compared to the amount of energy you need to invest to harvest the fuel? That’s a matter of technology and that is a very dynamic factor.

The fact that the atmosphere could be the final limiting factor in global fossil fuel consumption is acknowledged in the IEA report:

“There is a rapidly growing discussion within the oil industry regarding what are called ‘stranded assets’ – the fact that the larger part of the world’s fossil fuel reserves cannot be produced if the world is to avoid serious climate change. New calculations presented in the journal Nature in January show that 80% of the world’s coal reserves and one third of the world’s oil reserves cannot be used, at least not before 2050.

Conclusion: for better or for worse, there is a near endless amount of fossil fuel waiting in the earth’s crust, but it will be technology that will determine if these reserves can be exploited economically. The end of the fossil fuel age will probably come in leaps and bounds. Perhaps that in a year time oil prices will sky-rocket again, if the world does indeed pass peak oil (conventional + unconventional). This will cause a shift to other fossil fuels. The best energy strategy is to be not distracted by fossil fuel price variations and continue on the path of installation of renewable energy (wind/solar) and demand destruction.

Read more…

Richard Heinberg – The Law of Diminishing Returns

Note that Heinberg has quietly dropped his original Greatest Hit: the subject of Peak Oil. The message is now about ‘less complexity, less debt, less fossil fuel’, the latter not as a constraint imposed on us by geology, but as a matter of life style choice.

Not that we disagree with that message, but it seems that Heinberg has arrived at the same conclusion as we gradually did over the past 18 months: we are not going to run out of affordable fossil fuel any time soon and that we indeed can fry the planet many times over with all that combustible stuff around.

We are intrigued by Heinberg’s advocation of ‘less population’. Is Richard going to organize a ‘Texas chain saw massacre‘ all by himself?

Nice new glasses, Richard!

Read more…

Oil Apocalypse: Peak Oil – What If the Oil Runs Out?

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