Low carbon revolution is what comes after shale gas revolution 08-24-2016

According to the energy consumption in 2015, the growth of natural gas with low carbon emission increased and the renewable energy enjoyed a potential future. Due to sluggish global economy and low price of gas, here comes the revolution in the field of energy and the green low carbon energy is leading the trend. After the shale gas revolution, the era of low carbon energy is approaching.


Source: Bing

Great development of natural gas and renewable energy


-Consumption of natural gas stays high


The growth of natural gas consumption accounted for 50% of the total growth of energy consumption in the world in 2015. The consumption of natural gas was up 5% YoY in 2015, with the growth rate of 500% compared to 2014. After the ban of coal gasification project in the US, the electricity market in Europe had pushed the growth of natural gas consumption. Also, the slowdown growth of natural gas consumption in China had assured enough supply of natural gas. In the coming 20 years, natural gas is expected to be the fossil energy with the fastest growth in consumption.


Nowadays, more and more petrol enterprises are integrating their asset to focus more on the natural gas business. In 2015, the output of natural gas accounted for 30%-50% of the total output of oil and gas in most of large-scale petrol enterprises. In 2025, the figure may increase to 40%-60%.


Although the natural gas consumption could increase 40% compared to now in 2035, the competitions among the natural gas producers are quite intense, especially when there is over supply of natural gas in the world before 2018.


Thanks to the emerging of shale gas revolution and the enough supply, the US has already begun exporting shale gas. Along with a series of new projects being put into operation in Australia, the supply of natural gas would increase 50% in the next five years.


-Growth of renewable energy three times surpass that of other energy


While growth of natural gas consumption accounted the most in the total growth of energy consumption, the growth of renewable energy consumption was not slow. In 2015, the growth rate of renewable energy consumption was 15%. The proportion of renewable energy producing electricity increased in Europe, the US and China, which was mainly attributed to the support from the governments and fall of cost.


The US has the largest production scale of renewable energy while China has replaced the European Union to be the biggest wind power generation country in the world. Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd, listed in Hong Kong, is the biggest wind turbine producer in the world, which helps end dominance by Europe and the US for 30 years in the field of wind power.


In the meanwhile, the installed capacity of wind turbines in China has surpassed that in European Union, with up to 145GW. In 2015, the capacity growth of solar power generation and natural gas generation both reached 6GW.


With falling demand of coal and petrol, some energy companies are actively in adjusting their asset structures to develop more in renewable energy. Large international petrol companies have performed greatly in this adjustment. Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc. invested USD700 million on alternative energy. Statoil ASA planned to invest USD200 million on building the biggest movable wind farm in the world; at the same time, Statoil ASA also set up a USD200 million fund for the development of renewable energy, which showed its risk awareness in renewable energy investment.


Besides the promised goals of eliminating emission by different governments, it is believed that more and more governments would release policies to support the renewable energy projects. If the technologies of solar power and wind power generations get real improvement, it is predicted that 20% of the electricity from the world is produced by renewable energy in 2035.


US: New energy presents great development trend


It cannot be denied that the US plays a vital part in today’s world energy, especially after the shale gas revolution, which is proved by the emerging unconventional oil in the world and the development of shale gas from Canada, Argentina and China a few years after the shale gas revolution.


After the US announcement on lifting the ban of exporting petrol, the international price of petrol changed. In some way, it is the US that leads the changes in the global energy industry. In 2015 when the prices of oil and gas stayed low, the US kept developing the shale gas while stabilized the output of oil and gas.


According to the US 2016 development plan of energy, solar power generation, wind power generation, nuclear energy and hydroelectric power would enjoy great development.


The total installed generating capacity would increase 26GW in the US in 2016 and most of the generation equipment is used for solar power (9.5GW), natural gas (8GW) and wind power (6.8GW) generating.


Solar power generation is in the lead. If all the above plans could completed at last, the growth of generating capacity from solar power generating would be the first time to surpass the total growth of generating capacity of other energy in 2016.


Specifically, the growth generating capacity from solar power increased 3.9GW in California, 1.1GW in North Caroline, 0.9GW in Nevada, 0.7GW in Texas and 0.7GW in Georgia. In fact, some solar power generating equipment was distributed in some other places in the US, with the capacity of 8.4GW in 2015.


As for natural gas, the growth generating capacity mainly came from natural gas generating in the past few years. It is estimated that the installed capacity would increase 8GW in 2016, slightly higher than 7.8GW average growth in the past five years. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Texas would have the growth of generating capacity over 1GW respectively. 


As for wind power generating, the growth of generating capacity may reach 6.8GW in 2016 mostly in Dakota, Minnesota, South Texas and eastern New Mexico.


As for nuclear generating, two nuclear generating projects in south-eastern Tennessee have 1.1GW installed capacity respectively.


Fossil energy would be dominant for a long time


Though the low carbon revolution is happening, it brings mild effect. The dominance of petrol and natural gas would not be hugely impacted by the new energy revolution and the petrol industry would not be out of date immediately.


Although the renewable energy performs quite well in the world, it still takes up share proportion in the total energy consumption and cannot strike the dominant position of petrol and natural gas. After all, the consumption of petrol and natural gas accounted for nearly 60% of total consumption of primary energy in the world, along with the fact that natural gas enjoyed the fastest growth in its consumption.


Consumption of global petrol takes up 33% of the total consumption of primary energy in the world; natural gas, 24%, coal, 30% and renewable energy, less than 10%. Thus, it is not realistic to expect the rapid enlargement of share of renewable energy in the global energy consumption in a short time.


However, the mild low carbon revolution could diverse the energy production and consumption, rather than replacing hugely the fossil energy.


*The article is edited and translated by CCM. The original one comes from Economic Analysis of China Petroleum and Chemical Industry.

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