hydrogenfuelnews said we can expect to see major growth in stationary fuel cells.  In a recent report, Pike Research suggests that more than 350,000 stationary fuel cells will be shipped annually around the world by 2022. By 2020 fuel cells could be generating 50 GW of electricity. A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel (usually hydrogen) into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied. Stationary fuel cells are often used for industrial and manufacturing purposes, but have begun gaining traction as residential energy systems.

Regular readers of Earth’s Energy are well aware of predictions that the shale oil and gas revolution currently underway is making Peak Oil obsolete as the US becomes energy self-sufficient and other countries benefit from their own large shale oil and gas deposits (e.g Canada, China, Argentina, UK, Poland, South Africa).  Over the past year this belief was echoed by energy companies like Exxon-Mobil and BP as well as the US Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency and energy experts like Daniel Yergin and Leonardo Maugeri. Not everyone, however, is accepting this conclusion.  In The Great Oil Swindle in Eurasia Review we were told this is not the case — that in fact Peak Oil is real and that the data on which the shale gas revolution is based is blatantly flawed. The post cites recent studies and journalist investigations that question the economics of extracting shale gas as well as the growth of global oil reserves (flat and predicted to decline) that will undermine the predictions. These state that the true amount of shale oil and gas has been grossly overstated because of out-of-date models that fail to properly account for shale wells’ decline rates, which, they argue, are extremely high.  Hence, they characterize shale production as extremely uneconomical at current prices. In 2011 the New York Times asserted that the US oil and gas industry has actively and deliberately attempted to obscure the challenges facing shale gas production and is overstating the actual size of the shale oil and gas resources.

The eventual consequences of the current gas glut, in other words, are more than likely to be an unsustainable shale bubble that collapses under its own weight, precipitating a supply collapse and price spike. Rather than fuelling prosperity, the shale revolution will instead boost a temporary recovery masking deeper, structural instabilities. Inevitably, those instabilities will collide, leaving us with an even bigger financial mess, on a faster trajectory toward costly environmental destruction.

So when is crunch time? According to a recent report from the New Economics Foundation, the arrival of “economic peak oil”—when the cost of supply “exceeds the price economies can pay without significantly disrupting economic activity”—will be around 2014 or 2015.

Black gold, it would seem, is not the answer to our problems.

Other sources supported the Eurasia Review observations. Platt’s wrote US shale ‘boom’ boosts manufacturing, not energy independence, DailyFinance posted Why the U.S. Will Still Crave Foreign Energy, and DailyFinance added Has the Potential of Shale Oil and Gas Been Overstated?

 

Five years ago Brazil was envied for its energy riches as it used sugar cane to power its cars, green hydro-power to generate its electricity and the country was finding huge oil reserves in the deep waters off its Atlantic Coast.  But now things looking bleak as The Globe and Mail observed in How ‘hubris’ put a damper on Brazil’s energy spark.

Three-quarters of electricity came from renewable hydro power and the main automobile fuel was home-grown sugarcane ethanol. Plus, Brazil had just found massive oil fields off its coast, putting it on a path to become the world’s No. 3 oil producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia by 2020.

Today, the outlook is much darker. Oil output is falling, ethanol production has plunged, and fears have recently returned of electricity rationing that could further depress a stagnant economy and embarrass President Dilma Rousseff.

A major factor that changed Brazil’s fortunes was weather. It is now facing one of the worst droughts in decades, depriving dams of the water they need to generate electricity. There is even talk of rationing electricity use soon. At the same time government intervention, new regulations, and quasi-nationalization of the oil industry has limited both domestic and foreign investment and scared some private companies away. Then efforts to check inflation by preventing petrol prices from rising put the squeeze on sugarcane ethanol producers who have now cut back their output and is reversing the green transportation policy which had been so successful until now. In addition the policy as reduced the value of oil refiners and has led to increased oil imports at higher international market prices. See also Buenos Aires Herald Brazil’s hot, dry summer may lead to energy rationing, The Globe and Mail Brazil’s clean energy claims threatened by power shortage, and Reuters Brazil energy crisis could wreck Rousseff’s economic agenda.

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