Natural gas as answer to oil decline could lead to catastrophe, says leading expert

Mar 05, 2009

Ploughing resources into the use of natural gas as an alternative energy supply could lead to global shortage within 20 years time, according to a leading energy expert.

Professor in Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden, Kjell Aleklett, says reliance on natural gas - believed by many to be a key source of alternative fuel for the future - would be a major mistake.

Whilst it could provide a short term solution to the energy issue, Professor Aleklett believes it is not the long term answer we need to tackle what he predicts will be a continuing decline in global oil production.

Professor Aleklett will outline his views this evening (Thursday 5 March) in his lecture Global Energy Resources - The Peak Oil View- which takes place as part of the institution's Energy Controversies lecture series.

Professor Aleklett said: "The problem we should be concerning ourselves with is not climate change but the fact that there are too many people and not enough energy resources.

"We have reached a level where economic growth in the oil and gas industry is no longer possible. Looking for alternative energy sources has to become a key priority to counteract the continuing decline in global oil production which I predict we will experience.

"Many are looking to natural gas as a solution for electricity production in the future, but this is a massive mistake. Natural gas could generate enough energy to meet the demand for the next five to 10 years, but it is not a long term sustainable option.

"To expand the use of natural gas would be a mistake which could have catastrophic economical consequences for UK, Europe and across the globe in 20 years time. When we are hit by "Peak Gas" there are no alternatives for power generation. We have a discussion about future energy policy - it's time to start to discuss the future power policy."

The University's Energy Controversies lecture series brings together leading international industry and academic experts to discuss the current challenges and debates facing the energy sector.

Professor Aleklett will deliver his lecture to a 250 strong audience at the sold out event which begins at 6pm at the University's King's College Conference Centre.

Provided by University of Aberdeen

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User comments : 7

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2 / 5 (2) Mar 05, 2009
Here in Holland we have significant gas reserves but increasingly more relying on gas from Russia instead as we foresee that it will run in a few decades, so that we have some puff left once the prices really go through the roof. Meanwhile German approach is spearheading towards green energy and bought a few Dutch energy companies to get their energypolicy promoted in the european union (especially large windfarm concepts in the north sea). Meanwhile nuclear fusion still seems a good 30-40 years away before it really takes off(Z-machine is making huge strides, but commercial is another thing), so yes, why not invest green while we can, diversity and bridging technologies should give us the air to reach for the holy grail
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2009
Yarr. The first *commercial* fusion plant probably won't start construction until between 2036-2050, from what I've read. The exact date is more dependant on economic and political factors than it is on the technology involved. By 2036 we should have the ability to build a basic D-T reactor.

But as for a working fusion reactor itself, DEMO, the prototype for a commercial 2 gigawatt (net thermal output, not electricity output) D-T fusion powerplant, is schedualed to begin construction in 2024, if all goes according to the current timeline. The initial design phase is scheduled to be completed in 2017. That's only 8 or 9 years from now.

So we aren't all that far away from fusion power, really.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2009
Oh look, a troll rated down the comments:P. I just *love* these flawed ranking systems. There is only one type of ranking system that is less vulnerable to vandalism: a system that you can only rate positively on. So you can rate up people's comments, but you can't rate them down. That really frustrates the "anti"-type trolls;) (though admittedly it does nothing to stop the fanboi-type trolls).
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2009
I didn't rate you yet but the comments above on fusion are highly optimistic. I've been following this for 50 yrs and the technology is always JUST 50 yrs away. One thing that is carefully avoided in any discussion is that no known material will withstand the intense neutron flux of an operating reactor for more than a few weeks at best before it fails structurally. The D-T fusion system will also produce far more radioactive waste than an energy equivalent fission system. Once that becomes common knowledge, you can kiss D-T fusion goodbye.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2009
Oh, and for the near future methane IS the way to go. The world is swimming in it, e.g. a recent massive discovery way below the Saudi peninsula will become available with some advances in well technology and will replace the 30 - 35% of pumped oil the Saudi's presently use internally.
not rated yet Mar 06, 2009
deatopmg: 50 years ago there weren't prototype reactors being built. ITER has already started construction, and DEMO will finish it's initial design review as soon as they are sure that ITER is working as intended.

While the media played up potential breakthroughs (that didn't pan out) in the past - things that would have allowed us to shortcut straight to functional reactors if they'd worked - there was never a time when people were saying that we were going to be building standard largescale fusion reactors in a few years.

In the past it was always a way to shortcut the 100 years of R&D that everyone knew would need to take place if we went down the "standard path" for fusion development.

Well, none of those shortcuts panned out, but we've kept plugging away on the standard path. And now that long road approach that everyone was hoping wouldn't be necessary is finally nearing completion.

So these developments aren't comparable to the pipe dreams of the past.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2009
How the hell could we *ever* run out of natural gas? What; like we're suddenly going to run out of crap, or something? Feh. FUD.

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