Guest Post by David Middleton
I ran across a really funny story on Real Clear Energy last Friday…
Once you get past all of the nonsense about fracking polluting groundwater and global warming hysteria, the article really gets “interesting.”
Ten Reasons Why Fracking
is isn’t Doomed
1. Scientists have found that solar photovoltaic cells could be producing electricity at less 50 cents a watt by 2016, four years earlier than other projections.
The source of reason #1 is this blog post…
Brave new world as solar PV heads to 50c/watt
By Giles Parkinson on 20 July 2012
US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu earlier this year suggested that solar PV without subsidies will be cheaper than both coal and gas if it could get its costs down to around $1/watt by the end of the decade – an event that would trigger a total re-examination of the way electricity was produced in the world’s largest economy.
The report includes a few notable graphs. The first is the cost path for module – now estimated at around 75c/W and heading down to 50c/W at a rate of knots. GTM, and most others in the industry, believe it will get to the 50c/W mark by 2016 at the latest, most likely 2015
The chart implies that solar PV power plants currently cost ~$1.45/W and will soon fall to ~$0.50/W. However, the chart only covers the CapEx for the solar modules. Even if the module costs are accurate, the CapEx for solar PV power plants currently ranges from $6-7/W ($6-7 million per MW), costing 6-7 times as much as and requiring 8 times as much land area per MW as a natural gas-fired plant.
Even if you factor in fuel,solar PV is still projected to cost 3 times as much per kWh as gas-fired electricity (combined cycle).
Even if the module costs did drop from $1.45 to $0.50 per Watt, that would only lower the full cost from $6-7 million per MW to $5-6 million per MW. Land isn’t free and construction isn’t done by volunteers.
2. Germany is on the verge of producing more solar energy than wind energy, the first major industrialized country to reach that milestone. Germany wants to produce 35 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, only 8 years from now.
I didn’t think the second reason could be dumber than the first reason. I was wrong…
3. Researchers at UCLA have created a solar-power-generating window. If all those glass box skyscrapers in southern California could be put to work generating electricity, it would probably power the whole state.
Words escape me… Even if mythical solar windows could power the entire State…
How much would it cost per MW of installed capacity?
How would California keep the lights on when “the Sun don’t shine”?
4. The British government has given the go-ahead for two huge offshore wind farms off the coast of Norfolk (the eastern coast). Together, they will have the capacity to produce over a gigawatt of power (roughly one nuclear power plant’s worth). Britain is the leader in offshore wind energy generation.
“Over a gigawatt of power”! That’s just 1,000 MW and, as can be seen in the previously posted levelized generation cost chart, offshore wind is even more expensive than solar PV.
5. With Japan’s nuclear energy plants being phased out because of public fury over the Fukushima disaster, the country is trying to move quickly to renewables. It is placing a big bet on offshore floating wind platforms.
Maybe I’m missing something here… But I don’t see how Japan’s lack of cheap energy sources dooms fracking.
6. Scientists have concluded that it is perfectly practical to provide 2/3s of US electricity from solar over the next decades. The main problem is not electricity generation or having enough land to put the cells on, it is the poor electrical grid of the US, which will have to be redone.
Reason number 6 seems to be that there is enough surface area on the planet for solar PV (I wonder if there’s enough Windex on the planet). Good to know that there’s enough space. Since natural gas-fired plants take up 1/8 as much space per MW, “space” isn’t likely to doom fracking before it dooms solar PV.
7. Algeria wants to go solar, aiming for 650 megawatts of solar energy by 2015 and a massive 22 gigawatts by 2030. The Desertec Foundation has big projects in Egypt and Morocco, and Algeria, an oil producer, has decided to join in.
It’s been a bit more than a year since I ran the numbers on Desertec; but I doubt they’ve improved. The ultimate goal is 100 GW installed capacity (100,000 MW) at an estimated total cost of $550 billion (~$5.5 million per MW)… Only about 6 times as expensive as coal and natural gas and 2-3 times as expensive as nuclear and wind.
1 TW (Terrawatt) = 1 billion kW (Kilowatts)
At 15 cents per kWh, Desertec will generate an annual gross revenue of $105 billion if it really delivers 700 TWh per year. That’s enough to cover the construction cost principle (pay out) in 35-46 years (30-40 years to build and 5-6 years of operation).
If Desertec really had to compete with nuclear, natural gas and coal, it could only charge 3 to 7 cents per kWh. This would push “pay out” up to about 70 years.
In either case, it’s still an example of multinational mental deficiency.
On top of all of that. These solar arrays would be built across North Africa and the Middle East. I always thought one of selling points for solar was that it would make us less energy-dependent on regions like North Africa and the Middle East…
8. Some 750,000 Australian homes have solar panels on the roof, heading toward 10% of the 8 million households in the sun-drenched country.
Not likely to doom fracking in the USA… We’re a bit less sun-drenched than Oz. And I doubt it will doom fracking in Oz either….
Australian LNG Exports to Triple
11 July 2012
National exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could more than triple to 63 million tonnes per annum by 2016-17 as Australia plays a greater role in satisfying global energy demand.
This is the forecast of the inaugural Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) Gas Market Report released today by Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP.
9. China is going to make a major push for solar energy after 2015, aiming for a mind-bogging (Sic) 50 gigawatts worth by 2020.
I think the author may have meant “mind-boggling,” However, the author’s mind clearly is “bogged.” 50 GW would be less than 5% of China’s generation capacity.
China leads the world in the manufacturing and sales of solar PV cells, but they are in no hurry to build out solar PV infrastructure for themselves…
They manufacture solar cells to sell them to Germany.
China’s push to build 50 GW of solar PV won’t even doom fracking in China, much less in the USA…
July 4, 2012,
Can China Follow U.S. Shift from Coal to Gas?
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Second, several years ago, I heard that teams of Chinese engineers were spending months in Oklahoma to learn about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a method for liberating gas and oil from previously untappable shale deposits. More recently, reports showed that China — which was once considered gas poor — now has estimated volumes greater than those of the United States (which are, as you know, enormous). This week China signaled that it may indeed be gearing up for an ambitious gas push. An article in China Daily, “Will China embrace a shale gas boom?,” essentially answers its headline question with a resounding yes.
Reason number 10: Blame Israel…
10. The Egyptian gas pipeline through the Sinai to Jordan and Israel has been blown up 15 times since the Jan. 25 revolution. Egyptians are angry that the government of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak had sold the gas at substantially below-market prices to Israel. Because of the interruptions, Jordan’s government is more eager than ever to move to solar and wind power. A sign of increased international interest in the nascent Jordanian renewables sector is that a Chinese company wants to invest $200 million in a solar project. Jordan has a goal of getting 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, though that may be an ambitious timeline. If its government were smart, it would go all out and double that goal, and try to meet it.
I have no doubt that China is eager to sell solar cells to another gullible customer… In the meantime Israel is open for business to natural gas drilling…
Noble Energy has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea, offshore Israel, since 1998. Our 47 percent interest in the Mari-B field, the first offshore natural gas production facility in Israel, is one of our core international assets. Production from Mari-B began in 2004 and sales volumes have increased as Israel’s natural gas infrastructure has developed. Additional pipeline construction and power plant conversion is contributing to the growing natural gas demand in Israel. Significant new exploration discoveries at Tamar and Dalit will help meet Israel’s energy needs and drive new uses for natural gas in the future.
In early 2010, the Company commenced drilling two additional development wells at Mari-B. Combined with additional compression work, these new wells will support near-term gas deliverability and serve as injection wells for storage in the future.
We have a 36 percent operated working interest at Tamar, with gross mean resources of 8.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas. Tamar was the largest natural gas discovery in the world in 2009 and represents Noble Energy’s largest-ever exploration find. Initial expectations target first production from Tamar in 2012. Contracting for the sale of natural gas from Tamar is underway, and the Company has negotiated a number of multi-year letters of intent to deliver energy supply to customers. Project sanction at Tamar is expected in 2010.
In late 2009, we acquired additional 3D seismic over approximately 1,600 square miles in the region where we have identified a number of new prospects and leads on our significant acreage position offshore Israel and Cyprus. Based on the results of the seismic program, the Company has identified gross unrisked resource potential greater than 30 Tcf. Along with our partners, we are planning to spud Leviathan, a 16 Tcf gross prospect, in the fourth quarter 2010.
All “Ten Reasons Why Fracking is Doomed” are abject nonsense.
The author of “Ten Reasons Why Fracking is Doomed” is Professor Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan.