Outlook for New Energy Sources
- S.H. Clark (Sherman H. Clark Associates)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1976
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 21 - 23
- 1976. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.3.4 Scale, 5.9.2 Geothermal Resources, 4.6 Natural Gas
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Examination of the constraints to market penetration of new energy sources indicates that, for all new sources combined, there will be a minimal market share for possibly two decades -Thereafter, however, the new sources' market share will increase rapidly, but they still will not effectively combat rising prices, OPEC, or regulation and control of oil and gas prices.
Energy sources that are either new or potential alternatives or supplements to sources now in use are finally receiving some attention, publicity, and research and development funds. Some energy projections anticipate rather fantastic market penetration by a few of these new sources in a relatively short time, perhaps even a decade. The projections for conventional energy sources range from -20 percent for 1985 to -50 percent for 1995. But the range for new sources is in thousands of percent. Some evaluations of the short-term potential of percent. Some evaluations of the short-term potential of new sources are so optimistic that conventional sources would be threatened; other evaluations have led to the conclusion that there will be little, if any, net energy derived from most of these new sources - solar, geothermal, tidal, wind, hydrogen, and fusion.
The issue is not a small one. Financing of conventional sources is already overextended. Also, our technological conceit could be blinding us to impending disaster for the world - the cause would not be too much energy from nuclear warfare, but too little energy that can be harnessed economically.
The uncertainty surrounding these new sources is very high. The outlook for all the new sources combined indicates a minimal market share for the next decade and possibly for two decades, but a rapidly increasing share thereafter that will rise to 25 to 50 percent of our energy supply in 50 years. However, we percent of our energy supply in 50 years. However, we write a new report on the energy outlook every 3 to 4 months, and regardless of the statements made here, I would not hesitate to revise these conclusions in the light of new evidence.
Some Characteristics of the Item, Sources
It is difficult to discuss the characteristics of all the new sources at once, but there are, some fairly common characteristics. In general, they do not offer much promise of low cost and, in fact, they tend to be promise of low cost and, in fact, they tend to be highcost sources of energy even compared with the present price of oil. Geothermal sources may be the exception, price of oil. Geothermal sources may be the exception, certainly if more Geyserville-type resources can be discovered. However, the steam contracts I have examined peg their price to that of oil, so unless there is enough peg their price to that of oil, so unless there is enough developed to create surplus oil and, thereby, force down prices, geothermal energy should not be counted on to prices, geothermal energy should not be counted on to alter the trend in energy prices.
Another general cost characteristic is high initial cost, which always tends to work against market acceptance. In many studies over the past 20 years of markets for new materials and equipment for housing or for construction in general, we have always found that higher initial cost placed two strikes against the new source. A lower total cost in use over the life of the item, if it could be clearly and conclusively demonstrated, might give the item a chance for some share of the market; but such a demonstration is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for something new.
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