Canadian Stephen Murgatroyd has penned a sterling guest column in the Ponoka News (Alberta, Canada) on the subject of oil, natural gas and renewable energy. The column refutes the notion that fossil fuels, in particular oil, have reached their “peak”—the idea that we have reached a situation where we are using more oil and natural gas in the world than can be found in new reserves—and that we will run low or run out in the not-too-distant future (perhaps a generation or two from now).
Mr. Murgatroyd turns the table and makes the case that renewable sources of energy, like wind, solar, biomass and hydro instead are facing a “peak” in their use as the environmental problems with these technologies become more evident, and as their high costs become unacceptable due to subsidies being phased out by governments that can no longer afford to prop them up as they have done to date.
Murgatroyd cites examples in Canada and the UK where governments initially embraced renewable technologies complete with regulations forcing adoption, but now faced with a public backlash, are abandoning them. He ends his column with this:
But more significantly, there is a public counter-reaction to “green” energy. Anti-wind-farm and solar movements, springing up across the developed world, are angry about energy price hikes and the impact on the environment that these technologies have. They are also skeptical about the impact these technologies are actually having on CO2 reduction — especially given recent reports that CO2 continues to increase, despite a recession and a massive investment in these technologies.
As these industries begin to experience “subsidy-sunset” — they are driven by subsidy, not market, conditions — then the “peak” of renewable energy from wind and solar may have been reached. The fact that significant and vocal sections of the public are also speaking up and campaigning may also be another sign that the commitment to renewable energy has peaked. We shall see.
With low-cost [natural] gas, significant new access to oil, and an ongoing investment in clean coal we may not need to worry. We are a long way from peak energy.*
MDN recommends you read the entire column (click the link below).
*Alberta Ponoka News (Aug 3, 2011) – Forget about peak oil. Think peak renewables