Clean power from deserts

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PEAK OIL AND PEAK COAL

There is now an accumulation of evidence that the world has reached "peak oil" (the point at which the world's output of oil reaches a peak and then goes into decline):

Given that the demand for oil is continuing to rise (driven in part by the rapidly-expanding economies of India and China), the effect is likely to be steep increases in the price of oil. This is exactly what we have been seeing from 2004 up to the middle of 2008. If we have indeed reached peak oil, it is likely that prices will continue to rise.

Although we may not yet have reached "peak gas", the price of gas is normally closely linked to the price of oil (partly because the two fuels are to some extent inter-changeable) and so it is likely that the rising trend of gas prices in the months up to mid-2008 will continue into the future.

It is commonly supposed that coal will be available for several hundred years. But analysis of the evidence suggests otherwise:

  • The Energy Watch Group has published another report saying that "Global coal reserve data are of poor quality, but seem to be biased towards the high side. Production profile projections suggest the global peak of coal production to occur around 2025 at 30 percent above current production in the best case." (p. 8).
  • In Coal: bleak outlook for the black stuff (New Scientist, 2008-01-19) David Strahan describes evidence suggesting that worldwide production of coal may peak much sooner than most people expect.

Last updated: 2009-08-20 (ISO 8601)