Cambridge Energy Logo
This is the November 2005 issue of the
Cambridge Energy Forum members' newsletter

Contents

World's Second Largest Oil Field Peaks in Kuwait. On 8th Nov. it was announced that the Burgan field has reached a plateau more...

Our first major sponsor is E.ON Energy. We are very pleased to announce that E.ON are supporting the Cambridge Energy Forum more...

Geophysics of CO2 in the N.Sea Since 1999, over 1 million tonnes a year of CO2 have been pumped into the Norwegian seabed. On 10th Nov., Prof. Mike Bickle of the Dept. of Earth Sciences gave a seminar on what has happened to this more...

Lord Sainsbury in Cambridge At the High Value Manufacturing - East conference at New Hall on Friday 11th Nov., Lord Sainsbury gave quite an extensive comment of UK energy policy. more...

US DoE Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) have published their draft plan which will direct $3 billion each year for technology R&D. more...

The Westminster Energy Forum organises roughly five one-day meetings a year. On 2nd Nov. they hosted a day-long seminar on "The Future of the UK Energy Sector" more...

Imperial College Energy Futures Lab was launched on 2nd Nov. This event demonstrated Imperial's energy-related research programmes more...

California Adopts Integrated Energy Policy. On 21st Nov., California adopted its 2005 integrated energy policy. California is the sixth largest economy and the 17th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world more...

The Hydrogen Economy: Ulf Bossel,  at an invited talk in Berlin in September, again presented arguments showing why a Hydrogen Economy makes little engineering or economic sense. more...

UK 2020 CO2 Target: according to a draft DEFRA review: "We need to do about 75% more in around half the time, on top of what we are already doing.". more...

IEA World Energy Outlook 2005 released on 7 Nov. 2005, predicted that rising global energy needs will increase the annual emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels by 52% by  2030, with China more...

Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The first carbon credits of the  CDM were created on 20 October 2005. CDM is where countries that sign up to Kyoto to reduce CO2 emissions can get carbon credits by investing in carbon-reduction measures in other countries, typically poorer more...

Use of lava rock to store CO2 in Oregon, USA. There is a proposal to use igneous lava instead of sedimentary sandstones to store CO2. All other projects to date have used sandstones more...

One-third of the US is compliant with Kyoto. On 17th Nov., it was reported that one-third of the people in the USA live in areas which have voluntarily adopted the Kyoto limits more...

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will go ahead and be built at Cadarache in France. The agreement includes a commitment to build the IFMIF materials testing facility in Japan. ITER now has six members: the United States, Russia, the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea; India more...

DTI Technology Programme The DTI has announced that this Autumn's round of grants for its Technology Programme; there are initiatives in "Low Carbon Energy", "Oil and Gas Technology", "Electrical Power Control Systems" and "Materials Modelling" more...

Forum Meeting on 26th October 2005 Carbon Capture and Storage proposals and the UK nuclear "new build" proposals. Although the carbon storage and nuclear approaches are complementary, within the UK there is the concern that a nuclear policy would overshadow more...

Hydrotalcite. Dongshen Wen of Leeds University has been developing a new method for separating CO2 from exhaust gas using a potassium activated hydrotalcite which operates at a lower temperature (500 C instead of 1000 C) compared with other adsorption more...


World's Second Largest Oil Field Peaks in Kuwait. On 8th Nov., it was announced that the Burgan field has reached a plateau at  1.7mbd (million barrels of oil a day) whereas the Kuwait Oil Co. had previously said that production would be at 2.0mbd for the next 30-40 years. The field now pumps between 1.3 and 1.7mbd. Burgan accounts for more than half of Kuwait's 96.5 billion barrels of oil reserves and has been producing since 1948. In the whole world, only Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oilfield, about 500 kilometres to the south, is bigger. "Peak Oil" commentators are now saying that it is possible that conventional world oil production will peak in 2006: www.peakoil.net .

E.ON energyNew Principal Backer is E.ON Energy. We are very pleased to announce that E.ON are supporting the Cambridge Energy Forum and we are looking forward to working with them on expanding our activities and being able to do more for our members.

Geophysics of CO2 in the N.Sea
Since 1999, over 1 million tonnes a year of CO2 have been pumped into the Utsira sandstone 1000m deep at the Sleipner gas well in the Norwegian North Sea. On 10th Nov., Prof. Mike Bickle of the Dept. of Earth Sciences in Cambridge gave a seminar on what has happened to this 8 million tonnes of supercritical fluid. It was both reassuring and slightly worrying that the clearest and most revealing work on this comes from a final year undergraduate's project (Sarah Lyle) and  Mike Bickle's simple algebra.

The sandstone is about 250m thick, capped by a thick layer of Nordland Shale, and has a porosity of about 40%, with the pores filled with saline water. The pressure is about 800 bar (i.e. nearly 3x that of a compressed gas cylinder) and the temperature about 40 C. The CO2 is less dense than the water and rises from the injection point near the bottom of the sandstone to form nine roughly circular pancakes, each about 500m across and a few metres thick. These pancakes are clearly visible in the seismic surveys done in 1999, 2001 and 2002.  The CO2 rises until it hits a thin shale layer about a meter thick, spreads until it finds a hole, then flows up to the next one (these holes cannot be seen seismically). The CO2 is supercritical, i.e. it is as dense as a  liquid but its density varies. 

It is characteristic of the flow of the CO2 that the thickness of the pancakes doesn't change much, but that their area increases linearly with the volume of CO2 pumped, i.e. linearly with time, for any given pumping rate. The CO2 will eventually dissolve in the water but not very quickly. Prof. Bickle said that if one of the proposed CO2 storage systems developed a leak (due to an unobserved geological  condition perhaps), the CO2 could simply be pumped out again and recovered. If only one in a thousand wells did that, the recovery and reinjection elsewhere would be quite affordable.

Lord Sainsbury in Cambridge
At the High Value Manufacturing - East conference at New Hall on Friday 11th Nov. , Lord Sainsbury took questions from the audience and there was quite an extensive discussion of UK energy policy. "First," he said, "We need to say: 'What is an Energy Policy?' and the best approach is to set the fundamentals and let the market decide. This is more difficult in Energy than anything else." So rather than giving a single answer to the questioner, he said that the guidelines to be used for any UK energy policy should be:

On nuclear energy, he said "...over the next 20 years, are we happy replacing 20% nuclear with (probably less than) 20% renewables (largely wind turbines) and not taking any other steps [towards saving CO2] ?" There was then some discussion of "clever solar things" and the possibility of making photovoltaics from Cambridge Display Technology's polymeric semiconductors in future, as CDT had given one of the presentations earlier at the conference. See www.hvm-uk.com for other conferences in this series.

US DoE Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) have published their draft plan which will direct $3 billion each year for technology R&D. "This endeavor will strengthen the U.S. research enterprise, stimulate U.S. innovation and advance technology development in many and, perhaps, unexpected ways, expanding options and reducing their costs." This is a 256 page report covering every conceivable technology that might be relevant. See also http://www.climatetechnology.gov/ and  http://www.climatescience.gov/ .

The Westminster Energy Forum organises roughly five one-day meetings a year. On 2nd Nov. they hosted a day-long seminar on "The Future of the UK Energy Sector". They covered the immediate issues with supply and security for this coming winter and pointed out that projections have consistently been over-optimistic. The future of the UK continental shelf fossil fuel sources were covered in some detail. They laid out the urgent needs for future investment, and how that relies on clarity and consistency from government regulation. In addition to the market views, IBM presented work in Italy on remote domestic meter reading that was helping the country move towards innovative flexible demand management, and Mitsui Babcock described designs for clean-coal electricity generation systems. Overall, the Cambridge Energy Forum took from the meeting that the future of the UK Energy Sector was beset with challenges, from aging nuclear and conventional plant at the end of its life, increasing demand, climate change issues and lack of investment. How to address the challenges was not clear.

Imperial College Energy Futures Lab was launched on 2nd Nov. The afternoon meeting, chaired by Lord Oxburgh, former Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading, was attended by over 200 external and internal invited guests. The Lab, which subsumes the Energy Futures Forum (established in 2004) is a "major multidisciplinary, cross-faculty research initiative"; but does not modify the college's existing departmental structures.

California Adopts Integrated Energy Policy. On 21st Nov., the Californian Energy Commission formally adopted its 2005 integrated energy policy. California is the sixth largest economy and the 17th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Governor Schwarzenegger established greenhouse gas emission targets intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 to 2000 emission levels, by 2020 to 1990 levels, and by 2050 to 80 percent below 1990 levels. This 2005 report lays out the strategy for achieving these targets. A planning level of 8$/ton on carbon dioxide is to be mandated on all new plant build.

The Hydrogen Economy: Ulf Bossel,  at an invited talk at Intelec '05 in Berlin in September, again presented arguments showing why a Hydrogen Economy makes little engineering or economic sense. Dr. Bossel, founder and organiser of the European Fuel Cell Forum, is a long-time advocate of sustainable energy. His latest example ( http://www.efcf.com/reports/E17.pdf ) is that the energy requirements of the planes that take off from Frankfurt airport would require the continuous production from 25 nuclear power plants if the kerosene was replaced by hydrogen. Fossil fuels "should be reserved for long distance transport", and everything else should use the "electron economy".

UK 2020 CO2 Target: according to a draft DEFRA review on how the UK is progressing towards meeting the 20% by 2020 target, there is a problem: "We need to do about 75% more in around half the time, on top of what we are already doing.". This report is now not expected until 2006, but a draft copy from DEFRA projects that current policies will reduce annual emissions by between 18.3m and 21.3m tonnes of carbon by 2010, to about 11%-13% below 1990 levels. To meet the 20% target, it needs to save another 11m-14m tonnes. The review lists 58 possible measures to save an extra 11m-14m tons of carbon pollution each year, which it calls the government's "carbon gap".

Stricter enforcement of the 70 mph limit, the document says, would save 0.890 million tonnes of carbon a year - more than the biofuels obligation and many other listed measures put together. The most effective steps, the review says, are pollution caps imposed on industry under UK and European carbon trading schemes. Extending UK participation in the EU carbon trading scheme would save 4.2m tonnes a year (Mt/y), changing road speed limits would save 1.7 Mt/y ,  storing CO2 geologically would save between 0.5 and 2.5 Mt/y and everything else makes a difference of less than 0.5m Mt/y.

IEA Report The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its World Energy Outlook 2005 report, released on 7 Nov. 2005, predicted that rising global energy needs will increase the annual emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels by 52% by  2030, with China contributing most. The day after the report was released, China pledged to increase its use of renewable energies sources such as wind and solar to 15% of its total by 2020 (from 7% today). The IEA says that there are sufficient oil and natural gas reserves to meet those needs, but about $17 trillion in new investments is urgently needed to bring those supplies to market, and the IEA says that this is unlikely to happen. ''These projected trends [...] lead to a future that is not sustainable from an energy, security, or environmental perspective," said Claude Mandil, IEA executive director.

Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The first carbon credits of the  CDM were created on 20 October 2005. This is the procedure whereby countries that sign up to Kyoto to reduce CO2 emissions can get carbon credits by investing in carbon-reduction measures in other countries, typically poorer countries where the cost of reducing emissions is much less.

The Renew-Transnet Project will officially launch its Technology Transfer Model for carbon-saving technology developers, especially SMEs, in early 2006. For more information on this EU FP5 project, see www.renewtransnet.com . The UK coordination is based at the Carbon Trust incubator at Sheffield.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not dramatically change the American public's view on climate change, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in the first week of October 2005.

Use of lava rock to store CO2. In Oregon, USA, there is a proposal to use igneous lava instead of sedimentary sandstone to store CO2. All other projects to date have used sandstones. The advantage is that the weathering reactions with lava would be much faster, so the CO2 would be permanently stored as carbonates within a few hundred years, as opposed to a thousand or so for sedimentary rocks. The disadvantage is that the entire oil and gas industry is experienced with sedimentary rocks, and the knowledge of methane and carbon dioxide which has already been held in known geological formations for millions of years is restricted to sedimentary formations.

One-third of the US is compliant with Kyoto. In the 17th Nov. issue of Nature, it was reported that regions in the USA which have adopted the Kyoto limits as a target for voluntary behaviour, amount to a third of the population and to a GDP slightly greater than that of Japan. However, on average, these people have increased their CO2 emissions since 1990 by 14% and there are no mechanisms to enforce these targets.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will go ahead and be built at Cadarache in France. The agreement between the major partners (Europe and Japan) includes a commitment to build the IFMIF materials testing facility in Japan, and Japan will also provide the director and double the number of staff its cash contribution would normally entitle it to; in return for agreeing that ITER will be built in France.

ITER now has six members: the United States, Russia, the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea; it was agreed on 7th Nov. in Vienna that India will join from December 2005. India will pay nearly $500m over the next 10 years to participate.

The ITER machine will not generate electricity. It will be followed by a DEMO/PROTO experiment, intended to be a credible pre-prototype for a power-generating fusion reactor, to begin construction 20 years after ITER is begun, i.e. in 2026. DEMO would begin operation in 2036, with the prototype of the first generation of commercial reactors starting operation at the earliest in 2046.   

ExxonMobil, which announced on 27 October 2005 nearly $10 billion in profit for the third quarter, said it has "no plans to invest any of those earnings in developing alternative or renewable energy".

DTI Technology Programme
The DTI has announced that this Autumn's round of grants for its Technology Programme opened on 24th Nov.; there are initiatives in "Low Carbon Energy", "Oil and Gas Technology", "Electrical Power Control Systems" and "Materials Modelling" among others.

The DTI's "Strategy for developing carbon abatement technologies for fossil fuel use" was published in June 2005 (74 pages) and should be carefully read by anyone applying for grants involving fossil fuels. The three issues are: higher efficiency, mixed biomass firing and carbon storage.

The Cambridge Energy Forum has organised one meeting already (on 25th Nov.) involving those who have expressed interest to form one or more consortia to apply for these grants. There are groups interested in various types of solar electric generation, nuclear disposal, power semiconductors, and carbon dioxide subsea storage.

Please email query@cambridgeenergy.com to find out more about the consortia being put together.

Forum Meeting on 26th October 2005
Our speaker meeting contrasted the Carbon Capture and Storage proposals  with the UK nuclear "new build" proposals for a replacement generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. A full one-page spread on the back page of Cambridge Network Connection covered the event - with six photographs of participants and discussions.

The Carbon Storage part of the evening covered a deep technical and economic background as to why this technology deserves serious consideration. Although the carbon storage and nuclear approaches are complementary, within the UK there is the concern that a nuclear new build policy would overshadow and take development funds from the carbon storage option.

Presentations and a report of the audience discussion are available for download at  www.cambridgeenergy.com/events.htm.

Hydrotalcite. Unable to attend on the 26th, was Dongshen Wen of Leeds University who has been developing (with Yulong Ding) a new method for separating CO2 from exhaust gas. This uses a potassium activated hydrotalcite which operates at a lower temperature (500 C instead of 1000 C) compared with other adsorption/desorption technologies. As Jon Gibbins showed in his talk, separating CO2 by conventional amine extraction costs about 20% of the energy output of the plant, but more-efficient adsorption processes cannot be used for all types of carbon separation plant because some of  the other gases present can poison the material. The costs of cooling gas to separation temperature are also important: lower temperatures are not always cheaper. Dongshen's presentation can be downloaded at
www.cambridgeenergy.com/events.htm .

Please recommend us
Please tell your colleagues and friends about the benefits of membership. Please also ask your organisation if it would like to become a Advisory Member or a Principal Backer of the forum with associated benefits in promotion for what your organisation is trying to do:

Philip Sargent
Hugh Parnell
Tim Jervis
Mark Haslett

Cambridge Energy Forum
www.cambridgeenergy.com

The newsletter is distributed only to fully-paid members of the Cambridge Energy Forum.
Please only forward parts of it selectively to non-members.

URLs
Burgan: http://www.energybulletin.net/10878.html
Sleipner: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/co2/Sleipner.html
WEF: http://www.westminsterenergy.org/events_archive/
IEA report: http://www.iea.org/
CDM: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/feeling_the_heat/items/2881txt.php
US DoE CCTP: http://www.climatetechnology.gov/stratplan/draft/CCTP-SratPlan-Sept-2005.pdf
UK Targets: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/green/0,9054,442883,00.html
Lava for CO2: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_OR_Greenhouse_Gas.html
Fusion timescale: http://www.iter.org/fast_track.htm