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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, June 4, 2014
 

The problem is not that there is not enough coal left underground; there is. But the task of lifting it, transporting it and using it depends on many other factors, most importantly on the continued availability of oil as a lubricant for all the machines involved in the supply chain, and as a fuel for transportation. It is reckoned that there are some 109 years of coal left under current consumption assumptions according to a new report by BP, an energy producer. Broadly that is in line with forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris which also predicts the availability of other fuels.

Discussions about fossil fuel reserves start by aggregating firm and expected supplies from known and almost unknown sources, equating the resulting volume against fairly loose forecasts of economic activity including the assumption that rising costs will be accepted by consumers. While the EROEI (Energy Returned over Energy Invested) ratio logically suggests that the lifting of fuel will cease when it costs too much (that is, when EROEI becomes less than one) the reality is that the ratio needs to be calculated at the point of consumption, and not at the source. Take oil as an example. Oil is increasingly produced from smaller fields in deep offshore wells, or from wells in difficult climatic conditions. Their well-head cost will be high - but we ought to add in the costs of transportation to the refinery, transforming the crude oil, and then transporting the oil products to users. Well-head EROEI was 100:1 in the days of Texan gushers, but now it has fallen to below 10:1, maybe less. Some reckon the tar-sand oil of Canada has a ratio of less than 5:1. I wonder, after adding in the costs of pressurising and pumping this oil 3,500 km to the refineries of Louisiana along the Keystone XL pipeline, if the EROEI has turned negative!

Academics Ajay Gupta and Charles Hall, writing in Sustainability in 2011 state that the available data for EROEI calculations across the energy resource spectrum (oil and natural gas, coal, tar sands, shale oil, nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, wave/tidal and corn ethanol) are sparse and unreliable. Good analyses are important as politicians must guide nations towards a good future, and it is nonsense to blurt out that coal supplies will last for 109 years. The IEA by 2012 had accepted that globally we had passed the "peak oil" - that is, we had consumed half of all our known oil potential. The peak for gas supply might be 2014-2019, and the coal peak sometime later.

Of course, we can transform one source of fossil fuel into another (as with coal gasification), but this will come at a cost as no transformation is ever 100 per cent efficient. It is important to recognise in general terms that coal is used to power electricity generators or other heavy industrial needs, oil is used for most transport systems, and gas for space heating. Coal consumption is decreasing somewhat under international pressure to reduce CO2 output by using more acceptable fuels and by using more efficient machinery. Yet, if carbon capturing and sequestration (CCS) were available on a commercial scale, coal would be more acceptable.

 

Frank-Jurgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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