The shale revolution crushes wind and solar 

Posted: April 29, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, fracking, innovation, Shale gas, shale oil
Tags: , ,


H/T GWPF / RealClearEnergy

The author notes that ‘the rigs are getting roughly twice as productive every three years. No other energy technology is improving that quickly.’

Wind and solar are now experiencing a declining rate of improvement as those technologies start to approach their limits in terms of what physics permits. Shale technology is a long way from its physics limits. In fact, the shale industry is at the beginning of what I’ve earlier termed Shale 2.0.

The Promethean task of supplying energy to the U.S. economy and the rest of the world involves scales that are truly difficult to visualize. Many options appear to make sense until you crunch the numbers. That’s why Bill Gates said that people need to bring “math skills to the problem.”

Consider petroleum alone, which accounts for about one-third of global energy use.

If the world’s current oil supply were delivered in a pile of actual barrels, that stack would rise up at a velocity of 1,500 miles per hour and reach the moon’s orbit in a week – and continue at that rate every week for years to come.

Meanwhile, solar and wind power are the two most discussed “disruptions” to our energy supply. It is true that solar/wind costs have gone down dramatically in the past decade. At the same time there’s a policy revolution in subsidies (more about policies in part 3 of this series) leading to a cumulative $100+ billion in the U.S. for solar/wind. The effect of this combination has been to proliferate solar panels and wind turbines sufficient to drive a nearly 10-fold increase in combined energy supplied from those sources.

While that’s quite remarkable, wind and solar together still supply less than 1.5% of America’s energy. Fast growth from a small number is like winning $100 in Vegas on a $10 bet. Nice, but not life-changing.

To find a “radical and pervasive” change in energy markets we have to look elsewhere. Over the same decade noted above, the amount of energy added to America from shale hydrocarbons was 2,000% greater than the additional supply from solar and wind combined. That actual revolution also happened because of the maturation of new technologies. But, notably, in this case it took place without the stimulus of special subsidies.

The scale and velocity of the shale revolution is under-appreciated. It is the fastest and biggest addition to world energy supply — not just hydrocarbons, but all forms of energy — that has occurred in history. The only time something close to as dramatic has occurred was in the decade following the 1968 opening of Saudi Arabia’s giant Ghawar oil field.

Continued here.

  1. AlecM says:

    Trying to explain this to dumb politicians who have a Stockholm syndrome belief in IPCC fake science is about as difficult as explaining why trains can run at more than 30 mph without killing passengers.

  2. Joe Public says:

    The graphic states “The oil & natural gas industry provides 9.8 million US jobs”

    Unsure where that figure was obtained.

    The 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) finds that the Traditional Energy *AND* Energy Efficiency sectors today employ approximately 6.4 million Americans.

    Exec Summary, page 8:

    “Electric Power Generation and Fuels technologies directly employ more than 1.9 million workers. In 2016, 55 percent, or 1.1 million, of these employees worked in traditional coal, oil, and gas, while almost 800,000 workers were employed in low carbon emission generation technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and advanced/low emission natural gas. Just under 374,000 individuals work, in whole or in part, for solar firms, with more than 260,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar. There are an additional 102,000 workers employed at wind firms across the nation. The solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%.
    The 2017 USEER also identifies about 2.3 million jobs in Transmission, Distribution, and Storage, with approximately 982,000 working in retail trade (gasoline stations and fuel dealers) and another 830,000 working across utilities and construction. Exclusive of the retail trade sector, Transmission, Wholesale Trade, Distribution and Storage firms”

    Then, pages 30-31

    Of the over one million workers in the Fuels sector, almost half (46 percent) are working with petroleum fuels, followed by 29 percent in natural gas—or 502,900 and 310,000 workers respectively.”

    Click to access 2017%20US%20Energy%20and%20Jobs%20Report_0.pdf

  3. oldbrew says:

    Joe – the graphic is from this site:

    The employment figures may include ‘indirect’ jobs, but as there’s no breakdown of the figures it’s an open question.

    Quote: ‘Exclusive of the retail trade sector, Transmission, Wholesale Trade, Distribution and Storage firms’ – from Joe’s comment

  4. tom0mason says:

    Trump understands that cheap energy is the key to an economic and social renaissance for the USA. Thankfully the German government don’t get the message, or their industry would be far too efficient. While Merkel and the German Green party sucking the life out of their (electrical and political) power base this gives others the opportunities.
    The UK now has an opportunity to (again) rebuild its industrial base using the cheapest energy available, re-employing people in manufacturing jobs(!), rebuilding real exports markets to the whole world not just the economically sick Europeans.
    Trump wishes to make America great again, does Mrs May wish to do similar for Britain?

  5. John H. Harmon says:

    Once again tomOmason makes a compelling point. After labor, taxes and regulation costs business and industry bear energy costs. Since both employees and Government incur energy costs and must be paid more to cover high costs of energy, cheap energy is the key. The Romans took slaves to increase energy availability and reduce the cost of human energy. The US Northeast had a lot of altitude drop over a short distance and dominated US manufacturing for a time by using hydro power. The US coal and petroleum (including gas) abundance did, and can again, allow US manufacturers to provide good products at low costs.
    Warming has always been about politics rather than science, the West may DECIDE to “solve” warming.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    the greatest limiting factor to wind and solar utilization is that they are running out of access to other peoples money…pg