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Shell to Present New Energy Scenarios to 2050: Scramble and Blueprints

As part of its on-going methodology of scenario-assisted planning, this year Shell will present two new global scenarios looking out to 2050: Scramble and Blueprints. Shell last issued a set of global scenarios in 2005, looking forward to 2025.

Shell uses scenarios to help review and assess strategy. The scenarios are not forecasts but rather efforts to understand the possible interplay of different types of change. During the 1990’s, as market liberalization accelerated, the Shell global scenarios explored increasing globalization, the onrush of new technology and market liberalization.

The three scenarios issued in 2005 saw continuing globalization in the simplistic sense of the word: continuing economic growth and an increasing movement of people and ideas across the globe. The focal question, which ran throughout all three scenarios, was how the ‘triple dilemma’ posed by trying to achieve efficiency, social justice and security could be resolved in a globalized world.

Shell’s two new global scenarios looking ahead to 2050 are built on what it calls the “predetermined factors of three hard truths about energy”:

  1. There is step change in demand for energy driven by growing population and increasing prosperity.

  2. “Easy”—i.e., easily and relatively cheaply produced conventional—oil and gas will not be able to match this pace of growth. In fact all energy sources together will struggle to match demand, which will have to be met partly by new energy efficiency technology. The world is going to need all the energy it can get.

    Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer has put a date on the peaking of easy oil and gas: “After 2015, easily accessible supplies of oil and gas probably will no longer keep up with demand.

  3. Environmental stresses—both local pollution and climate change—are increasing.

In a speech published on the Shell website, van der Veer provides a little more detail on the two new scenarios, prior to the rollout.

The presumption is that by 2100, the world will have a radically different energy system than today’s, with renewables—solar, wind, hydroelectricity, and biofuels—making up a large share of the mix, along with nuclear.

Humans will have found ways of dealing with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will have reduced the amount of energy needed to power buildings and vehicles.

The scenarios explore two very different possible ways of getting there.

In the Scramble scenario, nations rush to secure energy resources for themselves, fearing that energy security is a zero-sum game, with clear winners and losers. The use of local coal and homegrown biofuels increases fast. Taking the path of least resistance, policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy consumption—until supplies run short. Likewise, despite much rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until major shocks trigger political reactions. Since these responses are overdue, they are severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility.

The Blueprints scenario is less painful, even if the start is more disorderly. Numerous coalitions emerge to take on the challenges of economic development, energy security, and environmental pollution through cross-border cooperation. Much innovation occurs at the local level, as major cities develop links with industry to reduce local emissions. National governments introduce efficiency standards, taxes, and other policy instruments to improve the environmental performance of buildings, vehicles, and transport fuels.

Regardless of the route, van der Veer said, “the world’s current predicament limits our room to maneuver...Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue.

Shell traditionally uses its scenarios to prepare for the future without expressing a preference for one over another. But, faced with the need to manage climate risk for our investors and our descendants, we believe the Blueprints outcomes provide the best balance between economy, energy, and environment. For a second opinion, we appealed to climate change calculations made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These calculations indicate that a Blueprints world with CO2 capture and storage results in the least amount of climate change, provided emissions of other major manmade greenhouse gases are similarly reduced.

But the Blueprints scenario will be realized only if policymakers agree on a global approach to emissions trading and actively promote energy efficiency and new technology in four sectors: heat and power generation, industry, transport, and buildings.

This will require hard work, and time is short. For example, Blueprints assumes CO2 is captured at 90% of all coal- and gas-fired power plants in developed countries by 2050, plus at least 50% of those in non-OECD countries. Today, none capture CO2. Because CO2 capture and storage adds costs and yields no revenues, government support is needed to make it happen quickly on a scale large enough to affect global emissions.

Blueprints will not be easy. But it offers the world the best chance of reaching a sustainable energy future unscathed, so we should explore this route with the same ingenuity and persistence that put humans on the moon and created the digital age.

The world faces a long voyage before it reaches a low-carbon energy system. Companies can suggest possible routes to get there, but governments are in the driver’s seat. And governments will determine whether we should prepare for bitter competition or a true team effort.

Comments

arnold

Organic farming is a practice which recognises the importance of retuning biomass particularly carbon to the soil as this is required by all life forms. It is their environment.
organic farming methods are not under any credible question as far as I am aware.
Removal of organic matter from farmlands in the mistaken belief that chemicals will do the job is a universally accepted act of intellectual vandalism.
I repeat there is no credible support for this attitude.
Past attempts have been responsible for unprecedented destruction of even the richest lands.
Such removal will have to be carefully monitored if it is to have any part in Bio fuel feed stocks future.
That's not to say Fertilization per say is bad , just that good practices will be mandatory. Unregulated cheap shortcuts will be a TOTAL disaster.

sjc

Even if there were biomass for 50 billion gallons, that would be 1/3 of our gasoline usage. There are plenty of articles on this site of companies getting into biomass fuels. I do not think that they would do that if the biomass were not available.

sulleny

Does anyone honestly believe the CEO of Dutch giant Shell Oil about anything? More disingenuous scenarios from outdated simulators. These programs are what young thinkers call... "over."

Jesse67

In theory biofuel crops get their carbon from the air, use sunlight to form it into biomass and we convert that carbon into biofuels, so on paper it sounds really good, sort of like communism right? but if we don't put the rest of the stuff back on to the land after "extracting" the carbon our current usable land will be quickly depleted, no iffs ands or buts. Arnold is right.
Now if managed properly and if the right species are used, ie. things that grow lots of biomass without extracting much from the soil (bamboo? ) and then what ever is left is put back on the land as organic matter along with some extra like decomposed animal manure or sewage, this could be a real win win.It would be really great if the crop produces some food and whatever's left makes fuel.

Of course none of this would be an issue if we all just used less energy in the first place!
How about this, we attach little generating coils to the keys on our keyboards and wind turbines to our voice boxes, then all this talk might actually be good for something! What actions are we actually taking to help the problem other than just "raising awarness" ?

Frank Juliano

I have identified, and conceived, and copyrighted, a very simple, and most facsinating theory, that stroungly proves, in theory still, that light energy can not only be captured from any light source, but looped, and trapped, elimenating the need for its source, and still keeping the sources properties.

Frank Juliano
1819 Ave. X
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11235


Frank Juliano

Please contact me at my posted address with all offers of help to prove my theory by building a working prototype of my theory posted Aug. 8, 2008.

Frank Juliano
1819 Ave. X
Brooklyn, N.Y.,11235

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