Originally Posted by woodland.telegraph
Kelly + The Shadow, I have read your comments above and have taken the time to consider your perspectives. I don't agree with you, but I appreciate your passion on the issue.
I am curious about your reading on this article by Jeffrey Sachs in the Globe & Mail that I just came across: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opin...energy-sector/
He actually reminded me of your point Kelly about declining oil consumption as we move towards 2050. Does Sachs have a point about how we should focus on sustainable energy alternatives based on the fact that the price of bitumen may be devalued in the future?
A few thoughts, firstly it's not an either / or question. We do need to continue to focus on renewables and they reduction of overall carbon footprint. Renewables are going to continue to surge forward and make up an increasingly significant portion of our energy supply. They are growing fast, but on a fairly small comparative base (the numbers depend on if you include hydro or not). However I don't think many people realize just how intertwined the modern world is with the use of hydrocarbons. The demand that each and every one of us create through our daily choices. To put this in perspective, natural gas (in actual GW of capacity), grew faster in 2017 than renewables (renewables were greater percentage growth rate).
You don't have to believe me that demand for oil will continue to grow in coming decades. I can cite numerous studies such as the IEA (https://www.iea.org/weo2017/
). We may wish it wasn't so, but there are no realistic scenarios at this point that doesn't show peak demand for oil any earlier than the 2040's. CO2 emissions growth will slow substantially as the energy mix changes and new technologies are introduced, but global demand will continue to grow.
Specifically from the Globe and Mail opinion piece. There are a few invalid assumptions
1. The vast bulk of increasing demand for energy and chemical feedstocks isn't going to come from the US, but rather Asia and Africa (Demand in Europe, Japan and North America are expected to decline) . Building transmission lines to the US doesn't address this. It is China, and more importantly, India where demand will continue to grow and they'll need to get their oil from somewhere. Like it or not, constraining Canada's ability to responsibly export oil, is a choice to put hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of despots and increased human misery.
2. Production costs within the sands have dropped substantially over the past 3 years with heavy investment in R&D and operational changes to reduce costs. Numbers currently average in the $40's per barrel, with some operators in the high $30's. Several are targeting low $30's or high $20's over the next few years. To assume that the technology used to extract bitumen will stand still while renewables leap forward doesn't reflect reality.
3. Synthetic production of aviation fuel entirely from renewables is no where near economical at this point in time, nor does the industry exist at any scale to meet demand. While technology in this area will continue to advance, so does the technology to extract and process bitumen