Al-Falih calls fossil fuels the crown jewels of global energy
Aramco chief’s calls for greater energy efficiency echoed by GE’s Bolze
The head of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, yesterday hailed the world’s abundant fossil fuel resources in his keynote speech, the first of the World Energy Congress 2013.
Khalid Al-Falih, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, said the world’s reserves stood at 14 trillion barrels of oil and 7,000 trillion cubic feet of gas, or, at present rates of use, about 50 years supply of oil and 250 years supply of gas.
Al-Falih told delegates: “The earth is blessed with a colossal endowment of fossil energy. Current proven reserves of 1.6 trillion barrels, which equate to half a century of global oil production at current rates, are at their highest level ever. “Oil and gas are the most efficient, convenient, economic and reliable energy sources the world has ever known.”
He called fossil fuels “the crown jewels” of the world’s energy mix, but insisted they should be used efficiently; leveraging them by combining their use with that of nuclear, hydro and renewable energy. Al-Falih also used his keynote to stress Saudi Arabia’s focus on the development of solar power: “In Saudi Arabia, our vision is to turn it into a global solar power hub, and we are investing heavily in the research, development and utilisation of solar energy.”
But he said the world cannot afford to continue to subsidise renewable energy, adding the market was the best mechanism to decide the appropriate mix between renewable and fossil fuels.
Al-Falih’s address was followed by a speech by Steve Bolze, chief executive of GE Power and Water who outlined four technical developments which will have a major effect on delivering “tomorrow’s energy today”, the key theme of WEC 2013.
Bolze said: “Those areas are the rise of brilliant machines, the proliferation of gas networks, the decentralisation of power and the coming of age of mainstream renewables.
“I often get asked: How do I get more productivity out of my existing assets and how do I eliminate unplanned downtime. Brilliant machines are opening up opportunities to achieve these goals. They are enabled by the industrial internet, a convergence of digital, industrial and analytical worlds which is taking place right now. It will transform the energy landscape.”
Bolze said that the analysis of industrial data can prevent stoppage and maximise performance. “We can make average plants on average days the best plants on best days,” he said.
He said natural gas will replace oil and coal as the primary fuel for consumption by around 2030, adding that the large- and small-scale networks required to transport gas from supplier to user will make energy use more efficient and accessible. He described power decentralisation or distributive power as “mechanical or electrical power at or near the point of use” as an important method of providing energy to emerging markets.
Bolze said that he expected renewables to increase their share of the global energy mix from 5% to 10% in the next years, aided by innovation and improvement in efficiency.
“When we got into the wind business 10 years ago wind was producing electricity at 15 cents per kilowatt hour; it’s now 5c per kwh. “I believe the world will double its wind and solar from 5% to 10% in the next 10 years. Germany is already at 25%. We continue (the drive towards a future with) subsidy-free wind power,” he said.
He added that criticism of solar and wind powers on grounds of intermittence were being undermined by new technology. “Industrial internet and energy storage are now chipping away at the intermittency challenge,” Bolze said.