Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Oil, natural gas, coal to stay top energy sources

The 3 fossil fuels will account for nearly 80% of global needs up till 2030

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Guanyu 道 said...

Oil, natural gas, coal to stay top energy sources

The 3 fossil fuels will account for nearly 80% of global needs up till 2030

By RONNIE LIM
02 March 2010

(SINGAPORE) From now till 2030, oil will remain the world’s largest energy source, with natural gas moving into second spot ahead of coal. The three fossil fuels will account for close to 80 per cent of global energy needs, says ExxonMobil’s senior energy adviser, David Reed.

Citing its Outlook for Energy report at an oil conference here yesterday, Mr. Reed said that the use of nuclear and renewable fuels will also grow strongly in power generation, with the two fuels accounting for 40 per cent of electricity generation by then.

The ExxonMobil study has implications for Singapore - which is increasingly going the natural gas route, with coming liquefied natural gas imports in mid-2013 adding to piped gas supplies here, followed by the use of coal and possibly nuclear energy in future.

Singapore’s Economic Strategies Committee last month recommended that the power industry here could consider options such as coal and that it should aim to have 5 per cent of peak electricity demand supplied from renewable energy by 2020. The feasibility of using nuclear energy in the longer-term should also be studied, the ESC said.

ExxonMobil’s Mr. Reed said that natural gas would be the fastest-growing major fuel, with gas demand in 2030 about 55 per cent higher than in 2005, although technologies that have unlocked ‘unconventional’ gas, like shale gas and coal bed methane, will help to satisfy this demand.

Interestingly, BG Group, which is Singapore’s designated LNG buyer, intends to tap coal seam gas in Queensland and then liquefy it, before shipping it to the Republic.

In the US, unconventional gas is also expected to satisfy over half of the country’s gas demand there by 2030, thus moderating its LNG import needs. Gas demand in the Asia Pacific, on the other hand, will continue to climb, and the region will need to import more gas, especially LNG, which will meet over one-third of its needs in 2030, the ExxonMobil study shows.

Mr. Reed, who made the keynote presentation at the Asia Pacific Base Oil Conference here, said that as for transportation, the composition of the global vehicle fleet is expected to change through 2030.

While conventional petrol vehicles will continue to remain the majority followed by diesel vehicles, hybrids and other advanced vehicles will grow rapidly.

Singapore, for instance, is also starting to experiment with the use of plug-in electric cars, although their commercial usage is still some way down the road.

Regarding such hybrids, the ExxonMobil study said: ‘We estimate that by 2030, they will constitute approximately 15 per cent of the total personal vehicle fleet, compared to less than one per cent today.’

But the oil giant maintains that improving today’s vehicles - for example, making engines more efficient through turbo charging, or through the use of lightweight materials and better tyre technology - will also help.

‘Our view is that compared to hybrids, plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles, improvements to conventional vehicles will likely be a more cost-effective approach for improving light-duty vehicle efficiency through 2030.’

It’s a matter of affordability and scale, the ExxonMobil study argues. ‘Making incremental and economical improvements to the millions of conventional cars that make up the vast majority of new-car sales is expected to have a greater overall impact than revolutionary and costly changes in new cars with technologies that as of yet have not been proven capable of significantly penetrating the market.’

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