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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

UPDATE ON OIL AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

For every positive remark I get about my energy/environment postings, there must be ten favorable ones regarding the food I eat and my travels.  Notwithstanding, at least once/week during 2016 I'll focus on some aspect of renewable energy, for this blog site once only reported on this subject.

The success of the cleaner options is driven by the price of oil.  A useful site you might want to bookmark is the Energy & Oil location for Bloomberg Business, where, today:

  • You probably have not kept up, but for most of last year the price of Brent Crude (ICE, European) was close to $10/barrel more expensive than WTI Crude (NYMEX, U.S.).  Today, they're both around $36/bbl.    If you truly want to confuse yourself, try analyzing why these prices are different.
  • Ignore Crude Oil (Tokyo), for if you bother to convert the 27350 Yen/kiloliter, you end up with nearly the same price as the two above.  
  • The NYMEX natural gas price today is $2.31/MMBtu.  Don't even try to convert that term, for this is a gas and oil is a liquid.  
  • This page also provides the price of gasoline, value of carbon emissions in Europe, etc.
Surely, your gut sense is that the price of petroleum will now jump with Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia threatening something close to war with Iran?  Apparently not, as John Kilduff of Again Capital just suggested oil prices dropping even further to $18/bbl, even with those rising tensions in the area.

Certainly, you are a bit pissed that fuel companies are taking advantage of currently depressed oil prices by still charging us more than they should.  For example (the red line is the price of gasoline):


However, when you read the article from which came the above, the answer is, well, maybe not, blaming instead refinery capacity.  This is called free enterprise.  However, Hawaii gets it in the jaw and solar plexus, for we not only pay around 1.3 times for our gasoline, but 300% more for electricity.  Second highest?  Connecticut, 17.6 cents/kWh, half our rate.  Actually, Honolulu has recently dropped to less than 30 cents/kWh because we are the only state still largely burning oil to generate power.  However, there is now a concerted push to import liquified natural gas (LNG).

Finally, here are the historical prices of oil and natural gas since 2000:


Hard to predict which one will be higher into the future.  For the past five years natural gas was much cheaper than oil, but they seem now to be equilibrating.  Those natural gas spikes in 2001 and 2006 indicate the volatility of this commodity.  The stunning prognostication is that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) predicts natural gas to be $2.37 per million BTU in January of 2026!!  That's the price today.  2026 is ten years into the future.  I can assure you, though, the CME has always been wrong.  They cannot predict crises.  They only adapt to the reality.

So moving on into renewable energy, here are 17 answers for burning questions about biofuels, renewable chemicals, biomass and more... click on that, compiled by Jim Lane CEO of Renewable Energy World:
  • What technologies are likely to develop faster over the next 10 years.   Generally, those technologies that get their research well-funded! As a blanket statement, bet on biology. So, feedstock yields will improve faster than process yields and separation technology.
  • What about government help for renewable chemicals, not just fuels?   Integrated biorefineries can get help under Section 9003 of the Farm Bill, and they can produce chemicals or fuels. Ultimately, it’s an artificial distinction based on use; obviously, all fuels are chemicals, though typically they are blends. Good news for renchem fans though:...click on 17 answers to get the rest of this response, and 15 others.
Read the 10 most popular articles of RenewableEnergyWorld.com in 2015:

Of the seven maps, the one I found the most disturbing had to do with public attitude regarding the belief of scientists.  The blue shades indicate that the masses are listening to Republicans.  The public is either unaware of what scientists believe, or, worse, remember mostly what detractors are saying, like global warming is a hoax,  alarmingly touted by U.S. Senator James Inhofe, who actually has a book on exactly that.  He happens to be chairman of the Senate committee that oversees this subject.  What a country.  Here is the truth, or, at least a bunch of them:


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