Can we get by with fossil fuels ?

One of the benefits of flying around the country for a couple of weeks has been the chance to finish the odd book, and given the current subjects of the site, it is time to toss one of them into the fray.  Mark Jaccard has recently written "Sustainable Fossil Fuels, the Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy." To give you a taste of his credentials, apart from being a Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver,
Dr. Jaccard is responsible for the Canadian Industrial Energy Efficiency Data and Analysis Centre, funded by the Canadian government and other agencies. The centre is directed by Dr. John Nyboer, University Research Associate, who collaborates in research, supervision and advisory work. Dr. Jaccard has chaired the B.C. Utilities Commission (92-97), served on the IPCC (93-96), and served on the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (96-2003).
I had therefore been looking forward to reading his book since it was first publicized (it came out at the end of December).  It was, unfortunately, a bit harder to read and follow than I had hoped (despite the fact that it comes with it's own student's abbreviated version at the back).  
The book is replete with odd facts that are used to build a case, and which have value in some of our discussions. For example in terms of megajoules/kg the estimates of energy density of fossil fuels are given (p 15) as peat 15; wood 18; coal 20 - 30; natural gas 45 and oil 50.  And one of the first things one notes is a wee bit of a cheat.  For after defining sustainable as enduring indefinitely, he switches the definition to encompass only the next 50 - 100 years.

 If I follow correctly he uses as his data base the energy scenarios that were developed for the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change(IPCC), the United Nations Development Programme and the World Energy Council. And this was where I first began to get a bit frustrated. This is because of the many scenarios that came from these bodies he picked two, but did not give a good reason why.  He then goes on to state energy supply sources for those scenarios, as well as other economic  metrics, but with little rationale for his choices.  Though again interesting data pop up.

This means that the typical American household potentially commands close to half a megawatt of power if it were to use all its devices at the same time (furnace, vehicles, appliances, etc), an amount similar to the power available to a Roman landowner with 6,000 slaves or a nineteenth-century landlord employing 3,000 workers and 400 horses.
The quote comes from the chapter where he is working to assess the growth in demand over the next century, which he posits will go from double to quadruple current levels (430 to 1,390 exajoules (EJ), with the supply in 2100 coming from fossil fuels (920 EJ); Nuclear (90 EJ); Traditional renewables (90 EJ); and modern renewables (290 EJ).  The modern renewables include conversion of biomass into gaseous and liquid fuels and into electricity.

However it was at this point that I became somewhat disappointed since it is here that he notes

my current trends projection has oil and gas declining after 2050, albeit not as dramatically as some analysts predict (p 45).

As I went through the book from this point I continued to try and find the justifications for the assumptions that he makes, but, like this one, found that it seemed to be more on the basis of personal choice than a solid rationale. For example, by 2100 Dr Jaccard believes that hydrogen will have captured about 30-40% of the secondary energy market, equivalent at that time to the amount that hydrocarbons will contribute.   In discussing oil supply he writes as though the market will continue to control supply and demand, with additional resources coming on stream as price rises. Geological limits don't seem evident, only the bounds set by price.

And so, in the end, the book will not be one that I refer to for authority on where we are going.  But I will keep it around since it has these inserted facts that are valuable.  For example, through a personal story, he did point out that energy savings are not always as great as anticipated, using the example of a switch to fluorescent bulbs in his house (he broke one and had to rebuild some fixtures - neither being considered in projected cost savings).

But having said all this, there is also a section on carbon sequestration and injection for EOR.  He notes that a "carbon capture" system on the outlet of a power plant could capture 85-90% of the carbon dioxide, but at a price of 8-9% drop in plant efficiency. And he answers a couple of questions raised in comments on my last two posts.  Particulates removed from flue gas are collected and used as material in structural fill, nitrogen can be converted to fertilizer and sulfur is recovered in solid form, though he notes that the poor price now can lead to it being injected in deep reservoirs. Carbon dioxide, he notes, is now injected at rates of around 20-30 million tonnes a year at more than seventy sites for EOR.  Giving costs for transportation and injection, he projects an additional cost of 2 - 3 cents/kWh for carbon capture and storage.

The creation of an energy future based on parameters that are selected without clear justification and without recognizing supply limits is going to stop me using this book as a basis for future projections, but I will keep it on my immediate shelf, since some of the facts he does provide, exemplified above, have value, and may appear in future posts.

(And for those curious, I am now reading Tom Friedman's "The World is Flat", which has more to do with other aspects of societal evolution and which, therefore will not be quoted - though it is proving to be a more interesting and easy book to read, follow and agree with).


Write to  MMS and Help Make the Rules that will Govern Offshore Renewable Energy for the Next 10-30 Years - DEADLINE IS FEBRUARY 28, 2006

A Rare Situation in Which INDIVIDUAL Comments will get noticed, heard, and even written into crucial Federal Regulation!

The Minerals Management Service (MMS), an agency with the US Department of the Interior is now soliciting public comments for the regulations it is writing to govern alternative energy projects to be located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). These comprehensive and far reaching regulations will govern every aspect of the business of offshore energy generation, including: project siting, leasing, environmental protection, navigation safety, and royalty payments.

    Why this matters: As some of you know, after Congress makes a law, the relevant executive agency often solicits comments from affected parties (state and local governments, companies, consumers). These comments are given great weight when the regulators and staff sit down to draft final rules. Especially in this age of "small government," understaffed agencies often don't have the manpower to sort through the legal and scientific implications of proposed regulations. They let the commenters do it!

    Usually that means: industry lawyers and lobbyists decide how civil laws apply to the industry they represent. Industry has the most at stake when rules affect their business and they will spend the money it takes to make regulations come out their way. They hire the lawyers, scientists, and engineers they need to understand what an ideal regulation would look like from their point of view and then try to make it happen. Rulemaking is normally an arcane and technical process and rarely do agencies get even a thousand comments on comment solicitations. Not too many private citizens keep up with the arcane world of regulation, and few have the time or expertise to comment even if they did. But since the number of comments on most issues is so rare, even a few hundred comments from private citizens could have a real impact on the future of offshore wind, solar, and tidal energy over the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.

    This time it will be different! We have talked to representatives of the offshore alternative energy industry. We have learned about their concerns and what kind of regulations will allow offshore alternative energy to happen while protecting other legitimate interests. We are providing some of that key information below. If Oil Drummers use it to respond to the MMS in force, we will be listened to. Today, every single e-mail will have real weight. I am counting on the passion, education, and civility of our readership to ACT NOW at this point of MAXIMUM LEVERAGE. It will never matter more than this.

To send a comment to the MMS, use the following link:

Here is a copy of the letter I already submitted to MMS; I ask that you NOT copy it exactly but use it as a model. Washington officials know the difference between individually written letters that demonstrate passionate concern - the authentic "grass roots" - from form letters solicited by a few insiders with money and a database of addresses - "Astroturf!" Therefore after the letter I provide some links to other information so you can understand the basic issues for yourself and make this letter your own.


Dear sir or madam:

I understand that you will soon be drafting regulations for offshore alternative energy platforms. I am very concerned about US dependence on foreign oil and hope that you will make the final rule as friendly as possible to offshore alternative energy development without compromising other vital interests of the United States. Here is what I would like to see:

A simple application process. The applications should minimize the burden for those who would put up alternative energy projects. MMS should rely on the developer to evaluate feasibility; he wouldn't go ahead if it made no economic sense.

Fair access to lease properties. I would like to see the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy for wind also extended to OCS renewables. The BLM process allows prospective developers to lease development rights while proving up their potential for a limited time. Then the developer must put up his wind farm or give up the lease, but an operating lease should have a term of twenty years or more. This is similar to the use it or lose it philosophy that underlies oil leases let by the MMS.

A streamlined review process. I believe that the standard of single agency review and federal pre-emption that current law permits builders of liquefied natural gas terminals (LNG) demonstrates the seriousness with which our Government properly views our energy supply situation. Given that most types of renewable energy arguably entail fewer environmental risks than LNG, it would seem that a similar standard should obtain. Failing this I would like to see a "one stop shopping" procedure whereby alternative energy project builders would submit an application to MMS and all affected parties - other federal agencies, state and local governments, shipping companies, airlines, oil companies with nearby platforms--would comment to MMS. MMS would then make its recommendation. It is to be hoped that as lead agency with expertise in this area, and with input registered by all other interested parties, the MMS recommendation would receive due weight in the courts if need be.

Low and fair royalty payments. In its regulation of onshore wind farms the Bureau of Land Management charges a 3% royalty on wind farm revenue once the wind farm is up and running. This would seem to be fair for offshore renewables in all forms. We believe that offshore renewable energy revenues should not exceed the BLM precedent. OCS oil is property of the citizens of the United States and can be extracted only once; that is the very good reason for the traditional 27% OCS oil royalty. By contrast, energy will continue to flow from the sun, winds, and tides indefinitely. What renewable energy we use today will not diminish what we can use tomorrow or the day after that.

It is my hope that the general spirit of the final rule will be to minimize obstacles to bringing OCS renewables projects online and to keeping them there. We need not decide to prefer solar, wind, tidal or any form of alternative energy over any other; science and the free market will show us the way. Finally, it is my hope that MMS will do its best to unleash the entrepreneurial energy of OCS alternatives developers so that they can contribute to US energy independence.

Yours truly,

The following links might prove useful to anyone drafting a customized letter:

Minerals Management Service- main page for offshore renewables

 Link to Explanation of MMS's new authority to regulate offshore renewables

Link to Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) - the actual legal basis for soliciting comment for OCS development of alternative energy projects

Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition - these folks are doing excellent work on this issue

The Cape Wind Project - Proposed Windfarm on Nantucket Sound

Excellent newspaper article on proposed wind farm off Long Island, NY - hat tip, Peak Guy,0,3905799.story?page=2

Below is an (edited) list of comments to MMS  given to me by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), one of the key agencies working on the proposed offshore Long Island wind farm.

Public Comments to the

Minerals Management Service (MMS)

Alternate Energy-Related Uses on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

*    Offshore wind power facilities will not be developed or operate successfully on the OCS if MMS establishes regulations that impose significant additional costs, measured both in terms of dollars and time, beyond those inherent to planning, construction, and operation
*    Unduly burdensome regulation of renewable energy development in the OCS only benefits the fossil fuel-fired and other generators with which wind energy must compete.
*    MMS must recognize that the actual potential for wind energy development on the OCS is acutely sensitive to the price and schedule imposed by the agency's regulatory program.  The Administration and Congress have clearly stated that they are seeking ways to reduce the Nation's dependence on foreign energy sources, prevent worsening oil and natural gas shortages and allocation problems, and encourage the private sector to voluntarily invest in non-greenhouse gas emitting energy technologies.  MMS, while protecting the public interest in environmental quality and safety, should also seek every opportunity to resist imposing unwarranted burdens on this emerging industry.
*    MMS should make access for resource and site assessment as simple and efficient as possible.
*    MMS should employ a relatively simple "permit" process to administer the short-term activities involved in performing site and resource assessments.
*    MMS should allow industry to conduct the necessary due diligence of potential development projects and approach MMS for development review and approval.
*    MMS should allow developers to sign a Wind Resources Evaluation Lease with provisions that would allow conversion by the developer to into a Wind Power Production Lease at the end of the evaluation term.
*    The duration of a lease issued for OCS wind energy development should be at least 20 years or the life of the project, with rights of renewal and assignment.  The 20-year period would match the length of a typical power purchase agreement for a wind energy facility.
*    MMS should use every means possible to constrain the time period required to complete the agency decision-making process leading to issuance or denial of leases or other agreements needed to allow renewable energy development on the OCS.
*    Many wind energy projects are financially feasible today because Congress has enacted a Production Tax Credit (PTC).  The PTC has been authorized several times by Congress. Wind energy developers must be able to plan, receive permit approvals, construct and commence operations of facilities within the window afforded by the PTC.  If the application and leasing process extends beyond this window, it is likely that no developer will be able to count on taking advantage of the PTC, jeopardizing the financial feasibility of the project.
*    Any payment structure should recognize the nascent state of the industry and be designed to encourage the development of these activities until the technologies are better established. In this regard, MMS should consider following the example of other nations and waive any royalties, fees, rentals, bonuses, or other payments during the first ten years of operation of an offshore alternative energy project..
*    The requirements contained in the 3800-page Cape Wind Draft Environmental Impact Statement are excessive and would halt future offshore wind development if required from every project.
*    Develop timely leasing and permitting schedules that include NEPA flexibility.
*    Identify where interested parties can provide input.  Currently it is unclear.  
*    Public involvement is critical early in the process to identify potential issues at a site.
*    MMS should view OCS wind development as a vital strategy to conserve the Nation's non-renewable energy resources and protect the Nation's air, water, and lands.
*    MMS should incorporate the cost of externalities associated with fossil fueled electric generation into any assessment of the benefits and impacts of OCS renewable energy development.
*    MMS engage in a full dialogue with wind regulators and developers in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom.

Excellent post!  I sent a letter which used your template, but I also requested that the limit to shipping lanes be no more than 100 yards from any farthest-intruding equipment.
I put in my 2¢ also.
Just one question about using CO2 for EOR.

Is the CO2 sequestered in the oil bearing structure or does it just bubble up with the oil when it is extracted?  If it is not 'safely' sequestered then using CO2 in this way does not contribute to measures to combat climate change.

The CO2 eventually finds its way from the injection wells to the production wells and comes back to the surface. This is perfectly natural and not a problem; it's allowed for in the design of any EOR scheme. The CO2 is just another part of the well effluent stream, so it's fully contained. You strip it out in the separators, recompress it and reinject it to dissolve out the next lot of oil... and so on. This is called "gas cycling".

Eventually you would have a reservoir full of CO2 (or, more realistically, CO2-rich solvent plus injected water) and some residual trapped oil (probably quite heavy as all the light ends would have vaporized), with smaller and smaller quantities of liquids coming out. When oil production falls below some economic limit, you shut everything down and abandon the wells (you DID provide for abandonment costs in your project plan, didn't you?). The CO2 would remain trapped underground.

It might be good to remind readers here that projects like Weyburn and the Otway basin (Australia) are pilot projects. Yes, CO2 injection has been in use for a long time. Sequestration really is the new part of all this.

The way people are speaking about CO2 injection, capture and storage on this (and other) threads leaves the impression that all the angles have already been worked out (the capture and storage issues). But that's why these are trials with monitoring programs to see if the techniques involve will really work.

It depends in part on how it is injected.  If it is below the critical depth where it turns to a liquid under the pressure, then it will likely be absorbed into the oil, thinning it and reducing its adhesion.  The combination will then be pumped from the ground, however it then goes to a refinery, where the different bits are separated and the carbon dioxide can be recovered and sent back for reinjection.

If it is injected as a gas (and there is a current example here) then it stays in the formation displacing, in this case the natural gas, but in other cases the oil, toward the producing well, as the gas flows out from the injection wells.

Heading Out wrote:

> If it is below the critical depth where
> it turns to a liquid under the pressure,
> then it will likely be absorbed into the oil,
> thinning it and reducing its adhesion

First contact miscibility certainly exists, but it's very rare to base an EOR scheme around this mechanism. FCM is very uneconomical of injected gas - you can get excellent results with much more dilute solvents.

> If it is injected as a gas...then it
> stays in the formation displacing...

Gas is pretty mobile stuff - it's perfectly capable of finding its way into a producer by itself if you're careless or unlucky, or if you wait long enough. Why do you think BP needs 7 bcf/d of gas compression at Prudhoe Bay? They sure don't have that much miscible solvent available! Sure, you'll drill & perf the wells to avoid the gas, but it will get through eventually.

And please don't let's give our readership the impression that gas injection - CO2 or otherwise - is anything new. It's being going on for many decades in a large percentage of the world's oilfields, large and small. The new thing is the carbon sequestration angle - and if you're getting your CO2 from flue gas, even $60 oil isn't always going to make it economical.

The only reason I mentioned it is because of its connection with Clean Coal.  The impression that I get from Clean Coal advocates is that CO2 for EOR is a way of sequestering the CO2 from coal plants thereby reducing emissions.

From the responses

  1. you cannot guarantee that the CO2 is sequestered safely.

  2. As the CO2 is recycled there is not enough CO2 needed for offsetting the huge amounts of CO2 produced from power plants.

Sorry a bit off topic however it does go to the sustainable use of fossil fuels and clearly CO2 for EOR is not going to help.
That's not what they said.  They actually said that the gas will migrate and exit through a producer (well).  As HO said after the producer wells are shut down if there is a caprock on the field you've got centuries at least.  The fact that the gas can migrate thru the whole field is a good thing, it means most of the void space of the field is available for CO2 storage.
TJ - however is this guaranteed sequestration?  It is not really no good if the CO2 just starts bubbling up after a few centuries.
I was browsing the Jaccard book at B&N the other day -- I spent a lot of time trying to get to a part where he said something regard peak oil. Finally I went to the index and looked under Hubbert, and that got some results. He doesn't dismiss peak oil, but he's fairly sanguine about other things making up for it. He reminds me of V. Smil, who writes and writes and writes, and throws in a lot of interesting stuff, but tiptoes by the crux of the matter, so as not to wake anyone up -- so to speak.

I also don't understand how one can write about these things anymore without tackling Deffeyes, Simmons, Campbell, etc. One can legitimately disagree with these guys, but it is not legitimate to ignore them.

Bottom line, I put the book back. I'm usually a sucker for the energy books.

I had the same problem with Deffeyes and his "Beyond Oil" book. Didn't buy it because it pretty much ignored coal to liquids. I mean I know the man is a geologist and not a chemical engineer, but really...
Anyone read "3 Billion New Capitalists" (Clyde Prestowitz)?  It mostly deals with economic issues affecting the US, but I was surprised to find that he brings up peak oil and the lack of a serious US energy policy.  His basic argument is that Asia (esp. China and India) and Europe have well thought out economic strategies, while the US is content to pretty much let things go in whichever direction they will.
Thanks for tip on Prestowitz book. I've studied much of his earlier work, and it is solid; he is one of the economists who has his head screwed-on right, i.e., he looks at the real world, tries to make sense out of it, and then makes recommendations.

Am off to Barnes and Nobles . . . .


Thanks for the recent series on coal and fossil fuels.

All my biological scientist friends have all reached the same conclusion.  We are using stored energy reserves built up over eons by plants and animals.  Clearly we can't consume this bank account forever without running out.  We must figure out how to live within a recently captured energy budget eventually.  The debate is when this will happen!

With regard to Tom Friedmans book.  I have read it.  I will be interested to hear your assessment of how you think his vision will work in an energy scarce world.

My first post here, but have been visiting The Oil Drum since to old days (pre-Katrina).  I have also recently read Jaccard's book, and I personally found it interesting from the perspective of gaining greater insight into an economist's view of energy and Peak Oil.  

Referring to Peak Oil, Jaccard asks the question whether peaking of conventional oil really matters?.  Consumers don't care if the gasoline comes from conventional oil, non-conventional oil, coal-to-liquids (CTL) or oil shale.  All we care about is price.  We have abundant coal, presumably enough for 250-1000y (pick your own number), and therefore CTL will act as the "backstop technology" that will provide a "ceiling" on oil prices.  The argument goes that liquid fuels from CTL can be produced for $35/bbl (the magic number), and once investors are confident that prices will remain above $35, they will flock to invest in CTL, and drive the price down to $35/bbl or perhaps lower (p. 158) (maybe add a few dollars more for sequestration).  He comes up with this whopper "Ironically, the cost of gasoline might actually trend downward over the next fifty years even as we exhaust our highly valued supplies of conventional oil" (p. 161). (Perhaps it will become too cheap to meter!).

IMHO, the major flaw in this argument on liquid fuel supply is whether CTL can be scaled up to offset decline or lack of growth in conventional oil supply.  He acknowledges this as a concern of the peak oil "prophets of doom" (p. 155), but does not address this scaling issue that I could see.   2% demand growth plus 2% decline equals 3.4 million bbl/day, or the equivalent of thirty-four 100,000 bbl/day CTL plants every year (at about $6 billion each).  China (scroll down to China to Invest US$15 Billion in Coal-to-Liquids Plants) is developing the equivalent of  about three of these plants over the next 5-10 years that will supply 5% of its current consumption (which is increasing at 7% p.a.).

Perhaps scaling up CTL is economically and technically feasible.  I haven't done the detailed analysis, nor has Jaccard.  

David Goodstein doesn't think we have hundreds of years' worth of coal:

It's possible for us to revert either to natural gas or to coal or both. Among consequences are the increasing global climate change. But another consequence is, let us suppose you tried to substitute coal for oil. Natural gas is a good substitute and it will last for a while but it will have its own peak one or two decades after oil, so it's only a temporary solution. If you turn to coal, we're now using twice as much energy from oil as we are from coal. So if you want to liquefy coal as a substitute for oil in transportation--which is its most important application--you would have to mine coal at a rate that's many, many times at the rate of what we're doing now. But the conversion process is very inefficient. So you'd have to mine much more than that. If you put that together with the growing world population and the fact that the rest of the world wants to increase its standard of living, you realize that the estimates that say we have hundreds of years worth of coal in the ground are wrong by a factor of ten or more. So we will run out of all fossil fuels. Coal will peak just like any natural resource. We will reach the peak for all fossil fuels by the end of the century.
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how much longer the coal will last -- all that matters is that it will last longer than the oil. Once you've eaten the leaves, you go for the bark.

Oil and and gas are near perfect fuels for transportation and heating. But of these two, oil is more fundamental to our economy - if for no other reason than the military machine runs on oil. But there are other reasons: the whole suburban way of life, the whole country in other words, turns in a big pile of junk. So, CTL is the only way to go for those who are unwilling to make significant changes in our way of life. Ha! I just contradicted myself - correction: for those who are unwilling to see a drastic asset devaluation.

My daughter lives in W. Va., although the eastern part. In the western part, there's already a huge movement opposing removing mountain tops. When one considers the (low) energy density of coal and the conversion loss, and then figures out what it will take to replace any significant fraction our current oil budget, well, I can't begin to imagine what the future will be like. But next time I go down, I'm going to visit western W Va -- visit the future.

Oh, I don't doubt we'll go with coal.  So will China, Russia, and any other countries that have coal reserves.  I'm just saying I doubt we have hundreds of years' worth.  Not if we start using coal to run our cars.    

But I do wonder if we'll be able to build the infrastructure in time to do that.  It's going to be much harder as energy gets pricier.  We may not be able to scale up in time to keep the American way of life going for even a few decades longer.  The wealthy will still be driving, I'm sure, but only the wealthy driving is not enough to support the highway system.  

Welcome, and a fair question, Cactus.

You are, in many senses, right to think of oil and oil substitutes in the wider sense. After all, it only really matters what quantity of usable, portable, liquid hydrocarbon fuel we have (until we devise alternative means). The statistics we tend to watch and debate here as the mesure of peak oil are those released by the EIA and IEA. These are based on exactly the wide definition you suggest - including oil sands, oil shales, deepwater, NGL, ethanol, biodiesel.

No doubt they do / will include CTL if and when that becomes more than a microbe on the belly of oil production. It hasn't, as far as I know, become at all significant yet. Odds are that Jaccard's irony is wishful and willful delusion, the investment required to compensate for oil decline from CTL is likely to exceed anything practically achievable, but I haven't done the sums.

I'd bet my savings on $200 bbl oil rather than $20 bbl oil ;)

I will be interested in your take on the Friedman book.  I didn't care for the cheerleading, "gee whiz" tone, but he does a nice job capturing some of the key drivers of globalization that have accellerated the process in the last few years.  He mentions energy as a possible impediment, but only gives it a few pages--an afterthought it seems.  

If you spend enough time focusing on one thing (e.g., energy, climate change, globalization), it is easy to overlook other forces of change.  Friedman overlooks energy, and some in this community are probably a bit too dismissive of the role of future technological advances and the types of breakthroughs (organizationally and technologically) that we may see when a hyper-networked world gets serious about energy.  

While I totally disagree with the conclusions in Jaccard's book "Sustainable Fossil Fuels" I would like to suggest there are a couple of reasons to read it.

The book has some fundatmental flaws in terms of how "sustainability" is defined (in terms of energy systems rather than ecosystems), and what are proposed as acceptible levels of greenhouse gas concentration of some 500 ppm (even if the proposal Jaccard makes were to work, which I think there are many reasons to doubt).

However, an interesting and useful aspect of the book is that it attempts to define a suite of policies that proport to deal with energy issues, environmental concerns and political realities.  While I think Jaccard fails regarding at least the first two challenges, he at least attempts to take us from where we are to what he (falsely, I believe) regards as a more desirable state.  

Many of his policy recommendations have value even if one disagrees with his basic premise (i.e. we will need three times more energy y 2100 bthan we use today) and conclusions (i.e.fossil fuels will remain the main global energy supply well into the 22nd century).  

One way to look at what he has done is to view it as a challenge to come up with a better plan, one which deals with issues Jaccard largely ignores ( peak oil, net energy, environmental "tipping points").  

A good starting pont for such a plan might be a question Jaccard raises but doesnt answer: how much energy can we use without pushing global ecosystems beyond their "tipping points" ? (my term, not his).  As an economist, Jaccard simply assumes that economic growth is the ultimate objective of a sustainable energy system, and fails to see that the answer to his question involves biophysical limits.

Jaccard's book is dangerous because it presents an articulate, systematic and seemingly credible approach to dealing with the energy challenges the world is facing.  His conclusions thus provide a seemingly credible rationale for powerful forces ( the coal and nuclear lobbies)who may well have their way regardless of the science involved.  They need to be challenged, and this is another reason for understanding the arguments in the book.

Well, to state the obvious, Stuart has been doing great work on climate change to show us why we can't get by on fossil fuels. Maybe the engineers could figure out a way to keep on satisfying a high-consumption lifestyle by burning fossil fuels for another few decades -- or a century plus at the outside, but what would that do to the atmosphere?

Oil is economic cocaine. It pumps everything up, makes you feel just dandy. Then  you crash. The only thing worse than not having oil to burn, is burning it. We are addicted to oil in so many more ways than our Addict-in-Chief will ever know, it isn't even funny.

Yeah... I pretty much undressed Jaccard and handed him his a** during a live call-in show for the CBC.