Triple whammy to hit energy sector: It’s business unusual
• Rising resource costs
• Rising energy costs
• Rising food prices
It’s ‘business unusual’…
For the energy sector, it is not “business as usual,” not only because of supply factors, but also related to focus on more efficient and sustainable uses of energy and climate change-related issues. See slideshow then Read more scroll down.
The energy sector is being forced to revise its directions as the result of a growing awareness that current sources of energy are likely to fail to keep up with future demand, as the capacity to supply world demand is almost already at its peak. This was fed by growing pressure for cleaner and more environmentally sustainable energy sources.
This review was prepared to stimulate thinking about how the global sector is likely to evolve over the next ten years, and thus identify associated threats and opportunities for T&T in the long-term. It is drawn from a big picture view of what the world may look like in the near future, so as to inform decisions that need to be made today with regard to sector opportunities and threats.
A lack of understanding of how quickly the “big picture” may change in future years is hindering change to more sustainable alternatives and limiting the amount of investments being made into innovative opportunities.‘Peak oil’.
Foresight and Innovation for Energy
Foresight and innovation research identified several “best bets” for T&T’s energy sector that would lead to greater efficiency in use of existing energy sources and develop businesses built around alternative energy generated from environment-friendly renewable sources. Nine initial potential “best bets” were identified, including developing alternative energy sources by harnessing the power of wave, wind, solar and volcanic energy and growing business by tapping into existing research and technologies.
Among its findings were that the energy sector’s development is being restricted primarily by traditional attitudes and short-term thinking.
“The energy sector does not operate in isolation. The major trends shaping its ‘big picture’ future are coming together for a ‘triple whammy’ effect—rising energy costs, rising food prices and rising resource costs,” said Ivey, of the research group NEXT. For the energy sector, it is not “business as usual,” not only because of supply factors, but also related to focus on more efficient and sustainable uses of energy and climate change-related issues. This is the message from energy researchers, ColinDale Marcelle and Ian Ivey, as heads of governments and policy-makers discuss the global financial crisis at the Fifth Summit of the Americas. “The energy sector does not operate in isolation. The major trends shaping its ‘big picture’ future are coming together for a ‘triple whammy’ effect—rising energy costs, rising food prices and rising resource costs,” said Ivey, of the research group, NEXT. See slide show then scrolld own for more.
This is the message from energy researchers, ColinDale Marcelle and Ian Ivey, as heads of governments and policy-makers discuss the global financial crisis at the Fifth Summit of the Americas.
Best Bet Opportunities
“The potential ‘best bet’ opportunity areas identified could provide the basis of a significant new energy sector focus in T&T,” the authors say. The top three involved use of bio-gas, solar and energy-efficient technologies. The Global Review cites trends and issues that have an impact on energy markets that point to higher prices for crude oil and natural gas, post the current slump and a 50 per cent projected increase in global energy demand by 2030. Sources referred to include the Annual Energy Outlook, the Medium-Term Oil Market Report of the International Energy Agency, Facing the Hard Truths About Energy Report of the National Petroleum Council and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, among others.
“T&T needs to become far more focused on the opportunities associated with the entire renewable energy sector, because it has invested heavily in the development of considerable expertise in the energy field. “Once the country’s oil and gas fields enter into a decline phase—which may be little more than a decade away—that investment will have little long-term value to the country, unless it is redirected towards future rapid growth opportunity areas in the ‘new energy’ scene. “It is clearly going to be difficult for a small country such as T&T to be an internationally cost-competitive player in renewable energy sectors, such as bio-ethanol and bio-diesel, as the land areas required are vast and the throughput volumes required to justify the capital investments needed are potentially large.
Along with Marcelle, Ivey is the co-author of the recently released Global Foresight Review on renewable energy and Renewable Energy Best Bets Opportunities for T&T (see Niherst.gov.tt), which focus on opportunities and alternatives for T&T outside the oil and gas sector. They were prepared by NEXT Corporation for the National Institute of Higher Education Research, Science and Education.
Increase by 2030
“People are now starting to realise that ‘peak oil’ is just a few years away, if not already here. This increases the need to speed up moves towards renewable energy alternatives where favourable conditions apply,” say the authors. Among these favourable conditions are:
Advances in technology, innovators with creative solutions;
- Advances in technology, innovators with creative solutions;
- Growing investment into green and sustainable applications (long-term);
- Decentralisation of the energy sector
It also points to possibilities for total sustainable energy solutions in place for communities, or even individual households and businesses. These already exist in European communities, such as Jühnde in Germany and Güssing in Austria.
“The global energy scene is now reaching a ‘tipping point.’ It is changing the balance between ‘old energy’ and ‘new energy.’
“It is easy to become blindsided by short-term blips such as the current low prices in fossil fuel prices and reduced investment into renewable energy. But this is unlikely to last long.
‘Old energy is likely to face a challenging future as the ‘triple whammy’ effect comes back into play‘
“Once the world recovers from the current economic downturn, the major underlying trends will be back in play and ‘old energy’ is likely to face a challenging future as the ‘triple whammy’ effect comes back into play and global policy changes adversely affect the competitive position of fossil fuels, particularly in response to climate change and reducing global emissions by up to 80 per cent (eg, the new goal in the USA).”
Dr Kris Rampersad is a global thought leader in interlocking dimensions of sustainable development . Find out more about Dr Kris Rampersad linked here.
Author’s note: This article, republished ten years later, represent the prediction of a decade ago of current outcomes arising from trends in the energy sector aligned to other development issues in this, The More Things Change, series of reflections.
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This article was Recommended by Climate Frontlines as: related to alternatives and options for employment and income generation to cope with climate change in the context of new strategies to face new challenges – towards making the Trinidad and Tobago economy more energy efficient and climate-friendly.
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First published by Trinidad Guardian on April 18, 2009