Jul 6, 2015

The EIA's predictions that fossil fuels are the future the final word. Are they right?

Tomas H. Lucero
4 min
In a report titled, “Fossil fuels have made up at least 80% of U.S. fuel mix sin...

In a report titled, “Fossil fuels have made up at least 80% of U.S. fuel mix since 1900,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that petroleum, natural gas and coal—all fossil fuels—are likely to continue into the future as the predominant energy sources used in America.

In a separate article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram (MRT), a former chairman of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Steve Pruett, states, “I am glad the EIA is stating the obvious, even though it is not politically correct.” Then he states his opinion on why these fossil fuels will continue as the main sources of American energy.

“’It is because the United States is blessed with large amounts of fossil fuel reserves, a capitalist economy that encourages investment in the extraction of fossil fuels and a free market that allows consumers of energy to make rational choices of the best sources of transportation fuel, heating fuel or source of power generation,’” he said to the MRT.

[Related: American majors opt out of European corporation-led request to UN for help on climate change]

What Mr. Pruett seems to be saying is that since the U.S. has fossil fuels and since we live in a capitalist economy and a so-called free market, then we should extract those resources, just like the EIA predicts will happen, and consume them.

Pruett, who is chief executive officer of Elevation Resources, “a Midland-based independent energy company formed in April 2013 to focus on the acquisition and development of unconventional oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin,” logically thinks this way because he is in a position to make lots of money based on fossil fuel extraction.

Mr. Pruett does not seem to think that climate change is the most important threat to decent human life on the planet. Speaking to the MRT, he said, “There is no doubt we need to take better care of mother Earth, but the roots of her problems rest in the explosion of the world’s population, which neither our president nor the U.N. controls,” Pruett said. To be clear, overpopulation is a serious problem but it’s not what is causing the Earth’s climate to warm.

[Related: Why is the U.S. Senate So Behind On Climate Change?]

Instead of celebrating the EIA’s prediction, we should take it as a call to arms so that fossil fuels are not the predominant source of American energy going forward. What needs to happen is not the continued extraction of fossil fuels but a complete and final stop to it, followed by a coordinated national effort to shift to wind, solar and water power.

Continued use of fossil fuels is extremely expensive. Fossil fuel emissions cause air pollution in addition to warming the planet. Speaking to Democracy Now!, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson quantified the monetary cost of air pollution-related health care bills and of climate change-related natural disasters.

According to Jacobson, air pollution causes four to seven million premature deaths each year worldwide, including about 62,000 in the United States and about 12,000 in California. The air pollution mortality in the United States alone costs the United States about $500 billion per year. In 2050, it’s estimated that U.S. emissions alone will cause $3.3 trillion of global climate damage, and the rest of the world will cause a total of about $15 to $20 trillion per year of damage.

[Related: Five new green technologies that will help us tackle global warming]

Pruett suggests that renewable energy sources and infrastructure are not enough to power all of the United States. “Wind and solar energy may be fast growing, but that is from a very small base of approximately 2 percent of the nation’s energy consumption,” Pruett said to the MRT.

Jacobson would disagree with him. Along with other scientists, Jacobson has founded the Solutions Project, which is a plan to convert the entire United States to wind, solar and water energy use by 2050. Meanwhile, the state of California recently passed 12 bills that set high benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use. Pruett may believe that renewable energy is not enough, but the rest of the world is making it so it is.



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Apr 23, 2021

Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Drax is advancing biomass following Pinnacle acquisition it reported in a trading update

Drax' recently completed acquisition of Pinnacle more than doubles its sustainable biomass production capacity and significantly reduces its cost of production, it reported in a trading update.

The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.

The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said its Q1 performance had been "robust", supported by the sale of Drax Generation Enterprise, which holds four CCGT power stations, to VPI Generation.

This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.

In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.

The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.

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