How Do We Deal With Good News About Energy?

Because so much of the conversation about energy issues is oriented around changing the behaviour of people in their homes and cars, in governments in their policies, taxes and regulations and in corporate practice, most of what you read has a Voice of Doom quality to it. And I might fall into that trap from time to time… But there is good news out there, too.

If I can try and introduce a note of optimism, let’s talk about U.S. energy consumption for just a second. Many people have noted that consumption peaked in 2007 at 101.3 quads. It dropped to 94.5 as the recession bit and climbed back up to 97.7 the next year. But last year it dropped again, to 97.5 quads. This is with GDP growth and population rise.

More importantly, look at fossil fuels over the same period. Their consumption also peaked in 2007, at 86.2 quads. The succeeding years showed FF totals at 78.4, 81.1 and 80.

So although overall consumption picked back up and has now leveled off, fossil fuel consumption dropped more and picked less back up.

So we not only might be seeing a plateau (won’t use the word peak) in demand, the mix is getting greener.

Does that cheer anyone up? In only 4 years, fossil fuels dropped from 85% of our portfolio to 82%.

Hooray! Or something like that. Link is here: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_3.pdf

I should add that even within fossil fuels there is change brewing, with coal decreasing and natural gas increasing. So: we’re using less energy than in 2007. Of that lower figure, a lower percentage is produced by fossil fuels. Of that lower percentage, more is natural gas, which produces less CO2 than the coal it replaces.Who’s got the bubbly on ice?

6 responses to “How Do We Deal With Good News About Energy?

  1. To me, good news about energy would be James Lovelock pulling back from his climate alarmism of just a few years ago.

    Bad news would be the head of the International Energy Agency agressively pushing the alarmist view of AGW.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/25/governments-catastrophic-climate-change-iea?CMP=twt_fd

    • Republicans are the ones who have stalled on imeeimpntlng green energy!! It is all up to Democrats to get the jobe done!! Unfortunately with the repubican controlled congress, it wont get done!! I saw a poll just a week ago that said that most voters regret voting for repubicans in the mid term elections!!!! Most said they voted repubican because the economy wasnt growing fast enough, and unemployment was so high!! Democrats are the only ones properly equiped to move America forward!

  2. Duncan MacKenzie

    Just how good is the news?

    Does this all mean I don’t have to worry about our society drafting my child to kill foreigners because of oil in a few years? That would be very good news indeed. Still got a couple years to figure out what this means for our foreign policy.

    Does this all mean humanity will be able to provide modernity in the form of cheap electricity and electrical appliances to the billions living in a pre-Edison world? That would be really good news, but I doubt it.

    This good news locks us even deeper into fossil dependency. Methane isn’t a bridge to renewable energy – it’s a bridge to coal liquidification.
    We’d better hope AGW theory is fatally flawed.

  3. Tom,
    Thanks for this update. Your view on energy is inciteful and challenges pre-conceptions in a constructive and innovative way.
    It is fascinating to see how some people react to good news.
    Duncan,
    Are you actually suggesting that wars were not fought before the age of fossil fuel energy? Or are you only worried about your child fighting for energy, but not for food, freedom glory or ideology?

  4. Duncan MacKenzie

    Hunter, I’m confident my son will never have to kill anyone for food.
    There are many valid reasons to fight wars.
    Energy is a valid reason, in some cases.

    But I think we are wrong to be going out killing people at the same time we’re driving SUVs and not making any real effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

  5. Fossil fuel use has declined because: a. oil&gas prices are high, b. cars are more efficient, c. some industries have fled to other countries.
    These are natural fluctuations, we’re not on a path to sustained and meaningful reductions, because there aren’t any viable green energy sources.

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