Grupo de Economia da Energia

Posts Tagged ‘energy security’

Pre-salt: an obstacle to renewable energy?

In oil, renewable energy on 28/11/2011 at 00:09

By Edmar de Almeida 

Recent accidents involving oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico and now in the Campos Basin raise an issue on Pre-salt exploitation in Brazil: Would Brazil going through an irrelevant adventure with the imminence of substituting renewable energy sources by oil?

This question is linked to the idea that oil is a former energy and there is no worth to mobilize society’s resources in a business doomed to shrink and disappear quickly. This idea has no support nowadays.

Prediction studies of global energy matrix show oil and natural gas still prevailing in long-term horizon. According to the International Energy Agency, these energy sources, together with other fossil fuels, will account for 75% of global energy matrix in 2035, the most optimistic scenario for renewable energies.

This type of prediction is confirmed by other government agencies and major energy companies worldwide. We can say that oil and gas will keep a prominent role in the long transition to a decarbonized economy. Thus, Pre-salt is a significant comparative advantage for Brazil. Our country could take a leading role in the energy transition, not only because of its large endowment of oil and gas, but also because of its significant potential for renewable resources. Continue lendo »

Reduction of CO2 emissions: distributing costs and sacrifices

In energy on 07/11/2011 at 00:49

By Ronaldo Bicalho

According to our last article, thinking about the transition between the current economy based on intensive use of fossil fuels and a future economy relying on renewable energy as a defined process with a single trajectory, a single timing and unique content, is a simplification that does not help in understanding the nature of this transition, its possibilities and hindrances.

Indeed, the transition is an undefined and open process with multiple paths, content and possible times.

In other words, there is no a single transition, but various transitions.

In this sense, analyzing nowadays the possible evolution of the energy sector in the world involves the analysis of these various transitions.

Mapping transitions

To identify these different possibilities of transition it is essential to map the different ways of noting the trade-off energy security versus climate change and the various forms of facing it.

Thus, we can consider generally the reduction in the intensity of the climate change process as the main objective and, thereafter, to evaluate the type of negative impact (cost) the reduction of CO2 emissions has on energy security, according to several hypotheses to achieve this reduction. Continue lendo »

Energy security and climate change: the hard convergence

In energy on 19/09/2011 at 00:30

By Ronaldo Bicalho

Two main issues dominate the current debate about energy: climate change and energy security.

Initially, these issues belong to different areas of public policy; however, the recent development of events, both in energy and environment levels, made the interdependence between them increases significantly.

According to this, the peculiarity of the current moment is not simply the presence of the environmental issue – climate change – in the energy debate, but the prominence acquired by the subject in the evolution of the current energy situation. As a result, it is not enough to recognize the need to incorporate the environmental variable in the debate, but recognize the need to incorporate it as a relevant issue as energy issue (energy security) is addressed.

The need to balance environmental and energy dimensions in the discussion on energy results from the strong presence of fossil fuels in both climate change and energy security.

For the environment area , fossil fuels are the main cause of climate change as a function of temperature increase generated by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; in particular, the CO2 from burning fuels.

For the energy area, fossil fuels play a key role for ensuring the energy supply necessary for economic development and social welfare, due to a set of attributes – capacity of storage, density, availability and control – which allows the use of these fuels at scale levels and cost extremely advantageous. Continue lendo »

From fossil fuels to renewables: the hard energy transition

In energy on 18/07/2011 at 00:30

By Ronaldo Bicalho

To prepare an energy policy that manages the hard transition from a fossil fuel economy to a low carbon economy is not an easy task.

The massive replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources involves significant technological, economic and institutional changes. These changes go beyond the energy sector and cover subjects related to a set of values associated with the crucial role of energy in economic development and social welfare and relationship with natural resources and environment derived precisely from this centrality.

The compatibility between the imperatives of energy security and climate change, by penalizing fossil fuels and incentives to renewables, has been demonstrated much more complex than previously conceived.

The idea of bringing together the best of both worlds – the self-sufficiency and low emission, increased energy security and combat the factors causing climate change – concerning the expansion of renewable sources in the energy matrix has been facing relevant technological, economic and political-institutional obstacles.

The first obstacle is technological and concerns the requirement of significant advances in renewable technologies so they can actually compete with traditional technologies. These advances are related to overcome the problems associated with low capacity of storage, density and scale characteristics of the current stage of development of renewables. Continue lendo »

The future of shale gas and dynamics of the natural gas industry

In natural gas on 06/06/2011 at 00:30

By Marcelo Colomer

The development and improvement of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques have allowed the expansion for production capacity of natural gas in low permeability geological formations, especially in shale formations. In this new exploitation context, there is a growing shale gas production in the USA and Canada, where the increase in domestic supply of natural gas has completely changed the energy market.

However, despite the increase in Canada and USA shale gas production, there are still major uncertainties about the productive potential of natural gas in low permeability geological formations. This is explained not only by lack of geological data in specific shale formations, but also by high and still little-known environmental impacts of the shale gas production. Continue lendo »

Energy security and climate change: different views, several policies

In energy on 23/05/2011 at 00:30

By Ronaldo Bicalho

Energy security and climate change are the two main axes currently surrounded by the energy policies in the world.

Then, to ensure the supply of energy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases have become major strategic objectives of Nation States in the energy field, with significant impact in the desired composition of the future energy matrix and setting the most appropriate strategies to achieve it.

However, the evaluation of the real consequences of these two objectives at the heart of energy policy needs a qualification. Especially, because Nation States perceive, hierarchized and insert into their set of public policies such goals, which, after all, translates into the amount of resources that, in fact, these States are willing to mobilize to achieve them. Continue lendo »

Ethanol: from promise to problem

In biofuels, ethanol on 16/05/2011 at 00:30

By Luciano Losekann

Until recently, the Brazilian government highlighted the country as a world’s top ethanol exporter. Accordingly, in 2007, the Brazilian government published a study indicating the possibility of Brazil using  ethanol to meet 5% of global gasoline consumption and, with more advanced techniques, such portion could reach 10% in 2025 [1], with a production of 205 billion liters of ethanol in the country.

Four years later, perspective is completely different. The recent scenario of ethanol in Brazil is characterized by difficulties in supplying the fuel, high prices and need to import the product.

In April, prices of hydrous ethanol and anhydrous ethanol in power plants in São Paulo showed the maximum value ever of the past 10 years. On average, the price of hydrous ethanol at gas station reached 40% over the same period in 2010. As the price of anhydrous ethanol mixed with gasoline tripled during the same period, the price of gasoline was also affected, increasing 15%. Continue lendo »

Fukushima Nuclear Accident: a dilemma for the world energy planning

In nuclear energy on 11/04/2011 at 00:30

By Renato Queiroz

The accident in Fukushima Daiichi power plant, located about 250 km from Tokyo, and the classification of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) on the explosions occurred in the Japanese generation plant that reached the level 6 (serious accident), in an international scale for nuclear events until level 7 [*] engraved energy experts worldwide. That adds a strong element of uncertainty for the global nuclear industry.

The INES level (6) means serious accident, stating that there was release of radioactive material and as consequences the adoption of measures to protect the population in the affected area.  This reflects the world public opinion, causing major concerns and pressure against the generation of electricity through this source.

Shortly after the accident, some experts, under the impact of the tragic news and images in real time, agreed with the thesis that the revival of the nuclear industry was being aborted.  Perhaps the question not discussed is: Without using nuclear energy, how can we meet the increasing consumption of energy required by societies in the coming years in a context of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases? Continue lendo »

The inexorable interdependence of Brazilian energy policies

In energy on 30/08/2010 at 00:30

By Helder Queiroz

The discussion on energy issues has been guided, at international and national level, about the future of the production and use of energy sources, which can not be any longer dissociated from policies that aim to achieve 3 goals simultaneously: security of energy supply, decreasing of energy dependence by Brazilian states and mitigation of impacts of climate changes caused by greenhouse gases, especially from the burning of fossil fuels. There is nothing trivial in reconciling these objectives, and they indicate probably an increasing importance of the binomial Energy-Technology in the process of finding solutions.

In the case of the energy industries, there are negative externalities, in variable degrees, regarding the production and use of all means of energy. For this reason, the State plays a fundamental role in both establishment of energy policy guidelines and application of economic and tax instruments required to mitigate externalities and securing energy supplies.

In Brazil, for decades, the guidance for energy policies, since the first oil crisis, implemented by many governments, was the attempt to achieve self-sufficiency in oil. This is an outstanding aspect of government guidelines for the Brazilian energy sector. The results are widely known. Although Brazil has to import light oil to balance its refining process, the degree of dependence in oil imports is now close to zero. And the possibilities unveiled with the important findings of the Pre-salt, even with major technological and institutional challenges to address and overcome, set the country in a privileged position regarding the allocation of energy resources. Continue lendo »