In the previous posting I suggested that change management is a process of discovery. How does this apply to the various fields related to energy?
Many people agree that we need to transform energy systems on a large scale and rapidly increase the share of renewable energy that we use. In the past people who have been interested in energy have discovered that we need to apply a number of different energy sources and technologies in order to achieve this. Yes, we do need photovoltaics, biofuels, fuel cells, electric vehicles, but we also need to reduce our energy use. At least we need to further analyse how much we would need of each of these and how much may become available in the future. Energy is complex, we use it for different purposes and we will need a number of different solutions.
Perhaps at this point we do not need to go much further debating the advantages or disadvantages of the different alternatives, we need to identify realistic maximum and minimum levels of supply and demand for various alternatives in the future and calculate investment levels that are necessary in order to achieve these. This will be a process of discovery, as there are no ready answers and we will debate a number of aspects in the near future.
We need also to estimate the amount of oil based products that we will have access to at different points in the future, based on realistic assumptions of reduced production from existing wells and realistic assumptions about new discoveries. These scenarios need to be developed on the country level, but also aggregated for groups of countries based on geography or other aspects. We also need to analyse and debate the consequences of reduced oil supply. The first people to experience a shortage will be the poor. A little later we will experience it because of reduced supply of the products that the poor supply to the rich, such as many things that are made in low cost countries. At the same time as this happens we will experience how fuel prices are increasing. Much later we will experience shortages of fuel at the pump.
As soon as possible, each country needs to develop a strategy and a plan based on expected future needs from a supply and demand perspective.
An alternative approach is the one applied at present in many countries, to base plans for the implementation of renewable fuels on the need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. In order to decide which approach is more relevant, we need to make up our minds about the peak oil issue and our global ability to rapidly discover a large number of new oil wells that could make up for the depletion of existing ones. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences wrote a very brief and succinct report about this in 2005. It seems to still hold to a very large degree and what has happened since then is that we have depleted our oil reserves even further. Don’t take my word for it. Access the report via the link below!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 by Mats Larsson