Sunday, August 2, 2009

Australia’s Energy Policy (Part B)

Transport Fuels:

What does the future hold for us?

Let us consider the short term, up to 5 years ahead,
the medium term, 5 to 10 years ahead,
and the long term, from 20 years and on to year 2100.

Also, I define the system under consideration as being devoid of eco-religious anti-carbon influence from particularly the Labor Party and the Greens. Oh, what a refreshing view of the world this is!

My opinion is that our transport fuel needs of the future will very predominantly met in the long term by hydrocarbon (HC) fuels (diesel, gasoline, LPG etc). In the year 2100 I predict that you will still be driving your car or truck on these wonderful HC fuels!

Farmers will know the importance of having a cheap and reliable supply of diesel fuel. The truckies have to transport the farm produce to market so the price of diesel effects the price of foodstuffs in the supermarkets, where the Green urban voter blithely shops in a fool’s paradise.

This dependence on diesel fuel will continue but in the long term usage can be capped by gradual electrification of the railway system. Let us start with the most strategic and most used railway system. This should be a medium and long term objective. The cheap electricity will come from coal and gas-fired power stations. Hopefully, if we have a nuclear power station near the Olympic Dam uranium mine, then we could electrify the Ghan, which is the strategy rail link between Adelaide and Darwin.

Our enormous reserves of coal and natural gas would therefore assure us of cheap electricity and therefore a reliable and economical long distance rail transport system for the future.

The Greens and their Labor sycophants cry that we are running out of petroleum and must move towards renewable energy. They are well meaning but confused, so don’t let them get into positions of political power. Every tried running a tractor on the piddling electricity generated from a windmill? Let us forget them.

Let’s look at the situation today. The price of petroleum is fluctuating around US $60. There is no doubt that the supply of petroleum from conventional oil deposits will peak and decline in the long term, but this could be 30 years away. In the short term we can expect the price to stabilize above $100 per barrel. So what’s going to happen then? Lots!

Before I explain this let me side track onto Australia’s dependence on petroleum. I think that we produce about 15% of our petroleum needs and the shortfall is imported , along with refined HC fuels. Should we be worried about this?

Not really. New Australian oil deposits will be found eventually but more likely discoveries will be made in other more prospective countries.

Australia is the most energy rich country in the world. We have ca 40% of the known uranium reserves and export enormous amounts of coal and natural gas (LNG) to countries that are not so fortunate, such as Japan, Korea, Europe, China and so on. In the interest of maintaining viable international trade and global prosperity we must continue to do this. No worries.

So, returning to the $100 plus a barrel scenario medium term.

Lots will happen.

There will be a move towards the production of synthetic HC fuels from coal and natural gas.

The technology is already being used to convert these resources into more useable products, such as diesel, gasoline and LPG (propane and butane).

The petroleum companies will move towards production from unconventional deposits such oil shales and who knows what!

What about renewables?

The only renewable transport fuel that shows any promise is biodiesel, as shown by the Shell Oil Company production, which is the world’s largest producer. This is OK provided that fertile farming land is not used for cropping in place of food production.

What about ethanol? Let’s forget it for Australia. It is half burnt already.

The future prosperity of Australia is assured provided we chose the right political leaders.