Energy nexus predicted
Speaker: Green forms can't meet world's demand
Western Colorado’s energy resources, from natural gas to uranium to oil shale, will grow in demand, speakers at the Energy Expo and Forum said Friday.
“Renewable energy can’t keep pace with demand” around the world, especially in some of the world’s most far-flung locales, author Robert Bryce told more than 250 people in a keynote speech at Two Rivers Convention Center.
Oil shale, meanwhile, has outgrown its infancy and is beginning its “rambunctious adolescence,” a Colorado School of Mines professor said as he opened the forum.
The recent development of natural gas from deep formations previously believed to be unrecoverable is making possible the extension of energy around the globe, especially to 1.3 billion people without electricity, said Bryce, the author of “Power Hungry: the Myths of Green Energy and The Real Fuels of the Future.”
Advances in drilling techniques, Bryce said, are “overlooked and underappreciated” while renewable sources have proven unable to meet the new appetites for energy, Bryce said.
Solar and wind demand vast areas of land just to keep up with burgeoning demand, Bryce said, noting that wind farms roughly equal to the area of North Carolina would have to be added each year simply to keep up with growing demand for electricity.
“There simply isn’t enough land,” he said.
Only energy-dense sources such as petroleum products and nuclear power have the ability to meet growing domestic and global demand, Bryce said.
Ultimately, Bryce said, “If you are anti-carbon and anti-nuke, then you are pro-blackout.”
Companies that are exploring ways to squeeze oil from the rock of northwest Colorado, as well as the neighboring states of Utah and Wyoming, are moving “cautiously and deliberately to tap a resource that could contain as many as 4.3 trillion barrels of oil,” Jeremy Boak, director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, said.
Though the world’s richest deposits lie in the three Western states, oil shale is getting more attention worldwide, Boak said, noting that Queensland in Australia this week lifted a ban on oil shale development.
Jordan also is a key player as several companies work to tap its oil shale resources, estimated at 1 billion barrels of oil.
The federal government, however, seems to be hamstringing industry with its plans for development of oil shale.
A soon-to-be completed environmental study appears to remove more than 90 percent of the richest oil shale deposits in the world, Boak said of the parts of the programmatic environmental impact statement that have trickled into public discussions.
The approach apparently being sought by the Obama administration reduces from 346,000 acres the amount of land in Colorado available for development to 26,000, an approach Boak labeled “punitive.”
Oil shale is the only form of energy for which the federal government requires research, development and demonstration leases before commercial production can proceed, Boak said. No similar requirements are made for wind, solar, oil or natural gas, he said.
Criticism that oil shale development would demand huge amounts of water appears baseless, Boak said, noting that renewable fuels such as ethanol use vastly larger quantities of water, he said.
“Using corn for biofuel is just a waste of good bourbon,” Boak said.