Quantcast
Latest Stories

Cleaning windows: Shell’s think tank mulls over world’s energy future

By

Sherlock Holmes solving crimes in foggy London is such a Western image, but not far removed from that of smog-gray Beijing at midday on Jan. 13, 2013. That the capital of an economy in Asia, the new nexus of global economic development, was covered in thick smog earlier this year warns the next wave of “tiger economies” such as the Philippines of the risks that development entails.

As such, the Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team, whom political analyst Dr. Cho-Oon Kong refers to as “window cleaners,” are looking at various possible energy futures and what can be done for more sustainable development.

Surely, even now people realize that energy transition is taking place for reasons of climate change, among others. Over the next few decades, “We face a range of more turbulent changes, not just in energy but also in economic and geopolitical terms,” Kong says.

The Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team has come up with two broad energy scenarios—“Mountains” and “Oceans”—based on perceived trends in the economy, politics, and energy as far ahead as 2100.

In the policy-driven Mountains scenario, gas is king. Or at least, it will be dominant by the 2030s over dirtier-burning coal and fossil fuels amid government moves to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Urban planning, moderate economic development, and policy-driven long-term projects could loosen the energy market.

A profound shift in the transportation sector sees global demand for oil peaking in about 2035. By the end of the century, cars and trucks powered by electricity and hydrogen could dominate the road. Technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power stations, refineries and other industrial installations becomes widely used, helping to curb CO2 emissions from the power sector to zero by 2060.

Nuclear power’s share in global power generation could grow by around 25 percent in the period to 2060. Subsidy-dependent renewables are likely to lose out.

With these changes to the energy system, greenhouse gas emissions begin to fall after 2030. Nevertheless, emissions remain on a trajectory to overshoot the target of limiting global temperatures rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

The market-driven Oceans scenario sees power generation relying on solar photovoltaic panels around 2070 amid a tight energy market where high energy prices spark an aggressive drive for energy efficiency and opens opportunities for biofuels and renewables.

Public resistance and the slow adoption of policies and technology limit nuclear power and natural gas outside North America. Coal remains widely used until mid-century. Wind energy expands at a slower pace, due to public opposition to large installations of wind turbines.

Another reason why solar energy will rule is that fast-growing in Asia needs to fuel its industries. “We see most energy development in Asia, where, well, there’s lots of sun,” Kong says. Solar power is also amenable to development in small cooperatives, and improved storage technology could be available by that time.

Ironically, although the Oceans scenario sees a dramatic increase in solar power, it also envisions greater fossil fuel use and higher climate-changing CO2 emissions over the century than the Mountains scenario. Also, carbon capture catches on slowly, making electricity generation carbon-neutral some 30 years later in the Oceans scenario than in the Mountains scenario.

Oil demand continues to grow through the 20s and 30s, reaching a plateau after 2040. Liquid fuels still account for about 70 percent of road passenger travel by mid-century.

In both scenarios, Asia is seen as a growth driver economically and in terms of energy demand. The only difference is that development as well as energy requirements in this region are seen to surge more steeply in the Oceans story. “We have high expectations for Asia, and energy demand may rise more steeply, which is functionally due to more rapid economic growth,” Kong says.

Both scenarios see global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) dropping to near zero by 2100. One factor is increasing use of technology that takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, for instance by burning biomass to produce electricity, and then storing emissions underground. The uncertainty lies in getting from here to there.

With the world’s population headed toward 9.5 billion by 2060 and the rapid growth of emerging economies lifting millions of people out of poverty for the first time, the scenarios project that world energy demand could double over the next 50 years. If dirtier, shorter-term energy solutions win, we’re in for a fuzzy kind of heatwaved future  with stronger storms, droughts, and flashfloods threatening food and water supplies, or even sinking urban areas.

Sure, all these scenarios are still decades away. Why should we care?

The future is starting now and we are all in it together—for foggy or for worse.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Energy , oil , Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team , Sherlock Holmes

  • WeAry_Bat

    Hehehe all of those wishy washy daydreaming er, thinking goes down the drain when weather troubles start now.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  • 2 contractors fined P25,000 for delays in Edsa rehab
  • Luisita beneficiaries take over renters
  • 5 years of hard work pay off for top UP grad
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • A brand for life
  • Wear a rainbow on your wrist
  • Wearing Kate Moss
  • Sail into summer
  • Life lessons from the Ultimate Warrior
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Professionals in the family business
  • Foreign funds flowed out in Q1, says BSP
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • Marketplace