It's become the talk of the energy industry that the US love affair with energy may be given a boost with the additional production of gas and oils from increasingly successful (if environmentally controversial) "fracking" to get at shale layers to release their reserves. 

Australia is dipping into this technology as well despite well publicised "lock the gate" campaigns by farmers and those worried about water supply contamination.

A number of analysts say the USA's fortunes will fundamentally shift the energy balance in the world and potentially extend the life of fossil fuels for some time beyond the current peak oil scenarios.  America for one may close in on "energy independence" while Saudi Arabia is tipped to be importing fossil fuels by 2030.  And analysts are only now beginning to consider what will be accessed under an "ice free" Arctic.

Given that Peak Oil and the rising price of oil has been the one inescapable factor to motivate change in energy and transport policies, is a surge in fossil fuel supplies and more stable prices actually going to be unwelcome news for cycling and cyclists, more sustainable transport and those (apparently few) concerned about the impact of climate change? 

SMH article

Economist article

NYT article

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Oh Duncan, "There are none so blind as those who will not see” You are reciting classic denier propaganda. Just because the Stone Age served us well doesn’t mean we languished there.

When 97% of scientists change their minds and agree with you be sure to come back and share the news. Until then, perhaps give some thought to the letter you would write to future generations about why you refused to accept overwhelming evidence and instead took a punt that things might just work out.

By the way, the Tesla 100 MW battery storage facility looks like it will indeed be up and running from start to finish in under 100 days. Imagine what would be possible if we all actually got behind making the transition a national prioriority!

Enjoy your nostalgia.
Well we, we've got 4,000sqkms, no problems there.

If we equipped every home and building in the country with solar panels, and then built the storage systems necessary, we wouldn't need any additional land,
Not to mention that probably something along the lines of ~800 to 1,000sqkms of land is used now by coal mines and their associated infrastructure.

As an ex coal industry person, coal is dark ages stuff. The sooner we get out of it the better. Out destroys prime agricultural land, depletes and contaminates our extremely valuable ground water and artesian basin and causes health problems for thousands of mine workers and people living near mines and power stations.

I agree - we have plenty of space.

Just pointing out the numbers.

There's still the problem of energy storage, though.  Industry cannot run on unreliable or intermittent sources.

If you crunch the numbers on batteries like Tesla, its ridiculous.

But wait, there is hope still ! (cross posted in Disruptions: How Driverless Cars Could Reshape Cities discussion as well)

We are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest disruption in transportation history," he says.

Seba predicts that by 2024, the whole concept of individually owned cars will be obsolete. The internal combustion engine will cease to be competitive with electric motors.

Car dealerships will cease to exist. Global demand for oil will plummet, and so will its price. And by 2030, 95 per cent of US auto miles will be travelled by autonomous, on-demand electric vehicles.

The automotive and oil industries as we now know them will collapse.

So the Peak Oil discussions have been around the supply side impact on motor vehicle numbers but the article above relates to demand side impacts of autonomous & electrically powered vehicles. Guess it doesn't matter which wins as long as the result is less vehicles overall and less polluting and better behaved vehicles

I heard via Twitter that some class actions have been launched in relation to poor air quality in USA and France. That might hasten the move to rid the world of the ICE sooner rather than later.

Article in today's online SMH talking about diesel cars pumping up emissions. It is absolutely disgusting having to breathe anywhere near one.

Just can't see the government doing anything on air quality until they are forced to by big business. Politics is so reactive these days, no out the front leadership.



Peak oil as a concept is a crock. Better to think of the marginal cost of additional oil and the leads and lags in bringing on new supplies. Compared to the 1990's the marginal cost of the next barrel of oil supply is higher i.e. ~US$50 today versus ~US$20 then. The real cost of incremental oil rises and so does supply. However, I am told by people in the exploration and production business that the Americans fully expect to continue reducing the cost of shale oil supplies and hence the inflation adjusted price of oil.

There is no such thing as peak oil, only an amount of supply at a price. While the price of incremental oil has risen scince the 1990's the real cost of using oil hasn't risen nearly as much because every year the efficency with which we use oil (and other commodities) improves i.e. better fuel effficiency etc.

Conclusion, current oil glut will dry up by early 2020s, there will be a spike in prices that will encourage increased supply by the late 2020's when prices will again fall.

As for the trend in real prices, it is a race between the ongoing reduction in the cost of shale oil production and the demand for more oil tending to increase prices. I suspect costs and prices will fall further as nations like China and India begin to apply US shale oil technologies to their shale oil deposits.

sooner or later a carbon tax or stronger measure is going to be imposed world wide, as heat waves and oceanic acidification proceed to destroy the earths systems.

How much warning do people need? (SMH article on new research on heat waves)

I heard Tony Abbot banging on about the coal industry yesterday. I had the feeling that, even if he was about to expire due to effects of global warming, his last words would still be "don't do anything, the free market will resolve all".


A carbon tax raises the question of what to do with the tax receipts? This is one reason for some people object to carbon taxes and the social engineering that could go with the use of the proceeds by government.

However, there is another very efficent economic alternative to carbon taxes i.e. carbon certificates - where carbon producers are issued with greebhouse gas certificates equal to their previous annual produstion of greenhouse gases. Then over time, the number of certificates is steadily reduced thereby reducing pollution.

The owners of the certificates are allowed to trade tthem. This encourages big polluters to sell their certificates to producers who will use the certificates for higher value production. Consequently the marginal impact on value of production and community income is minimised while pollution falls with the steadily reducing number of certificates. (Sorry to say there is no such thing as a free lunch and reducing greenhouse gases will cost but so does any pollution abatement and the majority of us are happy to have cleaned things up a lot since the 1970s).

Pollution certificates were very successfully used for the US phase out of lead in petrol and helped minimise the cost to levels much lower than originally thought possible.


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