800 years of oil supply before we run out?

May 9, 2010
Alan Caplan May be wrong about oil, but is he right about renewables?
CaplanSome believe we’ve found all the world’s oil reserves already…Others point to a trillion barrels of the sticky stuff, known to be sitting under the oilsands right here in Alberta plus an estimated several trillion barrels more not yet scooped out.

There’s a huge glut of natural gas; witness current low gas prices mainly due to the recent discovery and recovery methods from shale formations and the fact that no one in the industry predicts major upward price adjustments anytime soon.

Peak oil theorists have been wrong at least 10 times since the 1970s. We have, maybe, 800 years of supply before we run out if we find no more reserves, an unlikely possibility.

Solar and wind energy are, so far, so expensive to construct and operate compared to oil, gas, coal, nuclear or hydro-generated power, they’re at least a decade away from general use. To boot, they don’t produce sustainable energy when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

Both wind and solar produce excess energy, which can be stored and traded to public electric grids. Again, storage is expensive to build and maintain, requiring substantial government or electric system subsidies to make the trades viable. While it would be nice, they just aren’t viable for ordinary folks yet. And ordinary folks, unfortunately, pay for those subsidies and trade-offs.
Environmentalists say our oilsands are dirty and want them shutdown — pointing out that current technology produces massive amounts of CO2 and kills ducks that land on tailings ponds. One wonders if the so-called environmental disaster of the oilsands is anywhere near the ongoing catastrophe from BP’s offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
The renewable sectors will refine their technologies too, reducing costs and increasing production consistency.
We won’t run out of oil, gas or coal. Their use will decline as renewables become more viable and cost effective and they become more efficient. So it’s only a matter of time until there’s a new mix of energy sources. We’ll preserve the reserves.

That ought to suit both environmentalists and the dinosaurs.

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