‘Panacea’ to some, ‘quaint’ to another

New Energy: Problems and Promise

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Hannes Leetaru
Hannes Leetaru

Admitting that there is no perfect solution to our energy needs, Hannes Leetaru believes that the enemy of the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good.

More to the point, Leetaru believes that future problems will look a lot like the ones we’ve had for decades.

“The most important thing to consider is that we need a reliable electricity grid,” he said – and he believes one way to ensure that the grid is effective and diverse is to allow for the transportation of electricity from different areas.

“For example, wind is a good source of energy in Wyoming,” he said. “If the grid was extended and made larger (capable of carrying more electricity), then wind could be a greater mix for the national needs.”

Leetaru, an AAPG member, geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey and one of the speakers at this year’s AAPG Division’s Energy Forum, says that part of the difficulty in achieving this is overcoming the long-held beliefs about alternative forms of energy on both sides of the equation – those who think it will be a panacea and those who think it’s quaint.

“Both nuclear and coal have a negative public perception and it is already becoming very difficult to build new coal-fired power plants that do not have carbon sequestration capabilities,” he said.

Nuclear and coal, indeed, carry with them more than their share of baggage – but Leetaru says there are problems with other alternative sources.

Even those more universally accepted.

“As for the darlings of the alternate universe, solar and wind,” he says simply, “they’re unreliable,” adding that it is probably wise not to get too carried away by the promise of renewable energy in the first place.

Running down the roster, Leetaru sees both the problems and the promise:

  • Solar is geographically limited to the southwest United States. Places like Illinois do not get enough sun and it rains too much. Also in the winter, the states in the northern latitudes, such as Michigan, have too short a day to get much help from the sun.
  • Wind also is geographically limited. The best wind (consistent wind) occurs in the western half of the United States. Illinois is the last eastern state to have reliable wind energy.

    That does not mean that it cannot be done in the eastern part of the country, it just is more difficult and less commercial.
  • Hydroelectric is limited by the regulatory framework and by location.

    It is almost impossible to build a new dam because of the incredible environmental impact it would have on the environment, he points out. You would be taking pristine valleys and filling them with water.
  • Biofuels are very controversial because they may cause degradation of the environment.

    It would be sad to have the Amazon Rainforest cut down so we can have more energy from sugar cane, he observed, which is a current challenge in Brazil.
  • Carbon sequestration also is geographically limiting, because it requires sedimentary rocks that have porosity and a seal that would keep the CO2 within the target reservoir and not allow its migration to the surface.

It’s not that Leetaru is pessimistic, he insists. He’s just realistic.

Speaking of nuclear and coal, he says, “At this time there are no other viable alternatives that could totally replace these two fuels.”

“With present technologies,” he added, at best, “renewable would be limited to about 25 percent of our energy mix.”

It is not, as many suggest, going to be cheap or easy. “The cost of electricity,” he said, “is going to go up. The goal is keep it reliable.”  

Comments (0)

 

What Can I Do?

Add Item

Enter Notes:
 
* You must be logged in to name and customize your collection.
Recommend Recommend
Printable Version Printable Version Email to a friend Email to a friend

Divisions Present Joint Energy Forum

The Division Energy Forum, sponsored by DEG, DPA and EMD, will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver.

The three speakers will be:

  • Hannes Leetaru, speaking on “Our Energy Future.”
  • Sue Hovorka, of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, speaking on “Risks and Benefits of Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide – How Do the Pieces Fit?”
  • John Kaldi, of the University of Adelaide, Australia, and an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer, speaking on “CO2 Sequestration – The View From Down Under.”

Emphasis: Annual Convention

See Also: Online e Symposium

Online e-Symposium Evaluating Mature Fields: Best Approaches for Recovering Remaining Reserves Evaluating Mature Fields: Best Approaches for Recovering Remaining Reserves Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/oc-es-evaluating-mature-fields.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 1464

See Also: Workshop Program Paper

Workshop Program Paper Geoscience Technology Workshop Keynote Address - A Petrography-based Model of Igneous and Hydrothermal Activity in Diverse Petroleum Basins Keynote Address - A Petrography-based Model of Igneous and Hydrothermal Activity in Diverse Petroleum Basins Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/influence-of-volcanism-and-associated-magmatic-processes-on-petroleum-systems-herov3.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 34079

See Also: ACE Program Paper

ACE Program Paper Exhibition Hall Geologic Mapping of Ice Cave Peak Quadrangle, Uintah and Duchesne Counties, Utah With Implications for Lower Mississippian Stratigraphy and Laramide Faulting Geologic Mapping of Ice Cave Peak Quadrangle, Uintah and Duchesne Counties, Utah With Implications for Lower Mississippian Stratigraphy and Laramide Faulting Desktop /Portals/0/images/ace/2015/luncheon heros/ace2015-tp4-siliciclastics.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 15275

See Also: Book

Book GS SP 339 - The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere-Geosphere Interface GS SP 339 - The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere-Geosphere Interface Desktop /remote/store-assets.aapg.org/img/products/GSL_SP339_lg.jpg?width=50&height=50&mode=pad&bgcolor=white&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true&scale=both 4011

See Also: Learn! Blog

Learn! Blog Interview with Richard Stevens: About Coiled Tubing Drilling Interview with Richard Stevens: About Coiled Tubing Drilling Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/AnTech deploying POLARIS in Europe.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 30842