No fuel walks alone

April 18, 2013 | 00:00

No fuel walks alone

It is not so long ago that natural gas was to be considered as the most promising fuel to deliver the necessary flexibility to the power market during its journey to the sustainable future. This position was based upon qualities that were widespread acknowledged. We all know them. Ample availability, reasonable pricing, more environmental friendly than coal and oil, growing transport infrastructure and a stable track record of security of supply together formed a reliable package. That is still the case.

However, natural gas lost some of its front position in a rather short time. The cause lies not in a deterioration of the mentioned qualities, but in the economics, as coal gained attraction because of lower prices and also closed the gap somewhat between the two fuels regarding flexibility. Timon Dubbeling goes into more details in this week’s main feature. This change of position due to financial market aspects can be considered as an external force of which no one is owner. For who is in charge of the crisis and other developments on a global scale?

In his upcoming book: “The Alternative Energy Megatrend: A Global Security Discourse in the Universally-Securitized World” Dr. Alexander Mirtchev, Vice president of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), London and Executive Chairman RUSI International, presents an extensive analysis and in-depth view of all influential components in today’s energy world. EER soon will pay attention to this book. Judging by the title the complexity of a megatrend leads the dance. But we will see what Dr. Mirtchev reveals to us.

Let’s go back to the subject of Timon Dubbeling’s article. It is obvious that flexibility plays an essential role during the dawning of the Era of Renewables. Although the gas sector will not be pleased with the latest developments and may be expected to react and lead the fossil fuel pack again, there is -from a general point of view- no reason for a fierce competition, one could reason. Even in the mind of old fashioned diehards and fossil fans it can not be denied that a sustainable energy use will be a future reality. When exactly and how fast that reality will be here and now remains to be seen. But there is another kind of certainty. About the increasing percentages of renewable forms of energy one meets different targets and scenarios. The EU commission for instance aims for results in 2020 and 2030, striving for feasible steps during the journey. Others, politicians, business leaders, scientific experts or analysts foresee firm results in 2050 or 2070 and even up to the end of this Century. Targets or calculations of time may be different, all these insiders share one opinion; the transition will take quite some time. As the demand for energy will increase, whether or not efficiency and new technology will result in a better least energy performance, mainly at a local or regional level, there will be a place under the sun for all conventional fuels.

 

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