If it weren’t sad, it would be funny. CNN today makes much of the $4 a gallon gas price. That’s about Euro 2,58, for 3,78 liters of gas or 68 eurocents a liter. Last time I filled the tank, it took E 1,58 for a liter or more than $9 US per gallon.
Get used to it, I’d say. Despite growing rumours about price speculation (fuelled by a steeper price hike in the past months), the underlying trend is undeniable. Nearly $140 a barrel simply is about 14 times the price of 1999. That’s a 1400% percent rise in 9 years. Dave Pollards posting about what a $160 dollar oil price per barrel would mean is becoming interesting again.
Meanwhile, the closing statement of the G8 did not contain a call upon OPEC to increase production (to push prices down) but instead talked about energy conservation and investing in alternative energy sources. It seems the G8 accepts high oil prices as a given at this stage, and rules out increase in production as a possibility.
I have decided to rename this (mostly sleeping) blog to ‘Ompolen’. This because I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to write merely about hydrogen, or the end of oil. The impact on systems and structures is of much more interest to me.
Especially the opportunity that this gives us to decentralize the generation and application of energy. It is an opportunity to create an energy system from the bottom up. Which is a reversal of the current system, a reversal of polarity.
In Dutch the verb for reversing polarity is ‘ompolen’.
Today oil prices passed the $80 per barrel mark. Up 95% from August 2004, which was up 440% from 1999. This is a steady price increase of $10 per barrel per year.
Due to increasing problems in keeping my different web domains up and running on the home server, I have decided to move to a hosting arrangement. In the past days this move was done. There may still be some things that don’t work as they should but I will correct them over time.
In concurrence with my earlier post where I mentioned bringing more of my own expertise to this blog, I thought it might be a good idea to apply a way of balancing different aspects that come to play in managing change to the question of energy regime change.
In my work with Proven Partners we often use an adapted version of the 7S model, proposed by Peters and Waterman in the early eighties. Talking about change in organisations usually is about ‘hard stuff’ like strategy, structures and systems. And often much less about ’softer’ stuff like management styles, culture, and people. However, to create change in a meaningfull and effective way you have to take all those aspects into account.
I think using this model to look at energy regime change also helps to untangle the jungle of discussions and debates where a lot of arguments and positions, based on one of the six aspects, gets attacked by others who predominantly use other aspects of the six as arguments. Those discussions are not getting anywhere as both parties are not able to understand the other’s position, as it is framed in a language that isn’t theirs, and at the most works as a red flag.
So let’s list them, and add them to my list of categories as well. In that way I can order both the information I share here from elsewhere, as well as signal where my own writing is ‘coming from’ at that point.
The six aspects to balance are:
All these six aspects are subordinate to the mission and objectives the change is supposed to support and help achieve. In this case the objective would be my own reasons for being interested in energy regime change: empowering everybody by literally empowering them through self generated energy, from natural renewable resources.
So from now on I will try to sort the contributions along the lines of this model.
Photo credits: Chess by hans s, Dome Structure by DoctaBu, Coal Power Plant by Bruno Rodrigues, People Walking by Botasdeagua, Lincoln Memorial by Kathy Dodd, Native by JP Puerta, all under Creative Commons license.
In the weblog Clean Break, written by Canadian reporter Tyler Hamilton (screenshot from his site on the left), I was pointed to an edition of MIT’s Technology Review, with a set of article looking at different aspects of measures against global warming.
Articles are about different solutions in bringing down emissions, ranging from nuclear to Brasil’s biofuel as well as using improved technologies to get more from what we already are using. But in the end there is no escaping the reality that […] we will need an energy economy based on solar, wind and other renewables.
Tyler’s blog by the way is a good place to get information about Canadian initiatives in alternative energy sources, as well as the reality you have to face when implementing those initiatives.
As you can see by the frequency of writing here, this weblog on energy regime change is not my main topic of interest, nor is it my core blogging activity. Although there is an enormous amount of material to write about in terms of this blog’s theme, I find it difficult to ‘convert’ this material into entries here.
Some reasons, apart from finding my blogging rhythm in general, while contributing to 8 or more weblogs in some shape or form, seem to be:
1) The confusing and complicated mix of themes that get entangled whenever you start talking about moving away from oil towards possible other energy regimes. Political schools of thought, debates on the truthfulness of data and theories, debates on the scientific solidity of material, throwing multiple agenda’s on one heap (e.g. energy conservation, alternative energy resources, mixed in with wider ‘green’ agenda’s like battling bio-industry and promoting bio-cultures etc.), the liberal-conservative political dichotomies in the UK and especially the US, where every other discussion seems to end in either ‘you’re liberal so you hate the US’ or ‘you’re a greedy capitalist republican that believes everything Bush and his cronies say in return for more tax-cuts’. Anyway I’m ranting…
2) My own undecidedness which part of this discussion is ‘mine’, and my lack of knowledge about all the different subthemes and arena’s. This makes it difficult to both pick a main theme, as well as pick the place to start interacting with others on this.
3) Me not taking my own professional knowledge and experience into account while approaching the subject of energy regime change. I am a change management professional after all, and I have positioned this blog to be about energy regime change, precisely because it is such an intriguing and complex thing to accomplish. I was drawn to it out of both professional and personal interest (which to the largest extent are the same anyway), but seem to have forgotten to bring my own professional baggage to it. Even though doing that, being a Pro-Am in a way, is precisely what I am telling audiences is happening throughout society as well as to me, in my presentations and key notes.
I think this happened because the bewildering chaos of discussion and argument I sketched above has distracted me from my original plan. When I read a discussion I feel the need to take position as well, and in this case most of the time that is just a waste of energy and time. A lot of these discussions are of no real significance and will be overtaken by facts and developments soon enough, while at the same time there is no way to resolve them in the here and now. So I bogged myself down in a quagmire of details and shouting matches that don’t really matter, all told. I allowed myself to get stuck in the mud.
Time to pick ‘my’ storyline in this, and stick to it, so that it gives me energy instead of taking it away from me. And energy is what this blog was meant to be about in the first place, right? Time to free myself from the mud and fly.
Photos: Bog Man by Amonkeykuppa under Creative Commons license, Paraglider by myself.
This is the neighbourhood where a colleague of mine lives. The houses had solar panels added during construction. The number of panels, given latitude and climate as well as probable efficiency of the panels, should be enough for about 40% of the energy consumption.
I think adding photo voltaic technology, as well as solar water heaters to building during construction is done way too little. It helps lower the threshold for people to ‘try’ it out.
Recent polling showed that more than half of the Dutch population thought generating part of your energy yourself through solar or wind was a step too far. Three quarters thought they were already mindful enough to not waste energy. I’d say there is a big difference between the effort to try and use less energy for the same tasks (always worth an effort I’d say), and the notion of using energy you generated yourself. The two are neither opposites, nor replacements of each other, but complements working in two different directions altogether.
Adding PV panels to your home later on is still rather expensive, but adding them on top of the general building budget changes perspective as well as lets you finance it through your mortgage. There the total sum is less interesting to most than the actual monthly mortgage rates. Also it makes the financing costs tax deductable.
I had been planning to change the lay-out of this blog for quite some time. But this blog was still powered by the 1.2 version of Wordpress, so an update was seriously needed.
After the update I decided to scrap the earlier design entirely and looked for a suitable design that was already available. I settled on Andreas04, a design created by Andreas Viklund, a web designer from Sweden. It was downloaded from Wordpress in an adaptation by Tara Aukerman. Of course I adapted it some more as well.
The Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reports today that the Gasunie, Netherland’s natural gas selling and transportation company, has sold all it’s high energy gas for 2007, and that a run on gas for 2008 and 2009 is already underway. Apparantly the buyers are speculating on rising gas prices. However this leaves a number of clients of Gasunie out in the cold. Amongst them also some major electricity producers who run their plants on gas.
Gasunie stresses that gas for consumers is still in plentiful supply. Consumer quality gas is pumped from Dutch gasfields, the higher quality gas for industry comes from the North Sea, Norway and Russia. However prices are being influenced, and if electricity suppliers can’t run their plants as usual this will be felt by consumers as well.
The article closes with the remark that this speculation and price instability is a foreboding of gas actually running out.
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Most important parts: replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025, [and] move beyond a petroleum-based economy.
Now at this point, it is primarily talk (although the US could have been at it for 5 years already). And for me it doesn’t help that the message is being delivered with the trademark Bush grin. I always imagine Bush thinking “look how I am pulling everybody’s leg and get away with it” But that’s just me. So let’s see if steps are really taken. If they are it might work as a catalyst for other governments that have shown themselves reluctant in this area.
Full quote from the Whitehouse website:
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
Photo: Steel, Sky by Jason B. under Creative Commons license.
Apart from the usual forces towards oil price increase, like increasing demands from India and China, both economies gearing up their energy consumption, the disruptions of supplies, pipe lines etc are becoming a major influence as well. I follow the more than noteworthy weblog by Jon Robb (and I recommend you to add it to your regular reading) Global Guerillas, for quite some time already. In a recent posting he explains how much influence guerilla networks currently have on oil price:
The control over the price of oil is in now in the hands of global guerrillas. […] The amount of oil effectively under their control exceeds five million barrels a day, more than Saudi Arabia’s two million barrels a day of swing production.
Read the whole analysis. Dana Blankenhorn adds to that alternative energy is no longer just an option over at Moore’s Lore.
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The Dutch government plans on increasing the production of the biggest Dutch gas field in Slochteren. Production will be allowed to rise from 40 billion cubic meters to 42,5 billion cubic meters. This due to still increasing demands while smaller fields in the North Sea show declining yields, and the wish to prevent too much dependancy on fuel imports.
Of course this will mean that the Slochteren gas fields will be used up sooner than planned before. The Dutch government now expects production to diminish in the Slochteren field in 2020.
Also see this posting from 6 months ago, with new reports on gas reserves and new finds.
About this weblog
This weblog is written by Ton Zijlstra (Enschede, Netherlands). I'm a knowledge management and change management consultant.
Energy regime change seems to be around the corner and constitutes a change process of enormous complexity.
It is at the same time the biggest opportunity as well as biggest threat to our civilization, and it deserves a hard look not only at technology but even more so at the systems and structures needed and how to get there.
- Peak Mammoth? Unlikely!
- G8 Coming To Terms High Oil Price Is Unavoidable
- Renamed This Blog To ‘Ompolen’
- Oil Price Record (Again)
- Applying Change Models to Energy Regime
- MIT’s Technology Review on Facing Global Warning
- How to Move This Blog Forward?
- Solar Panels
- WP Update And New Lay-Out
- July 2008 (1)
- June 2008 (1)
- March 2008 (1)
- September 2007 (2)
- July 2006 (5)
- June 2006 (1)
- February 2006 (2)
- January 2006 (1)
- December 2005 (3)
- June 2005 (1)
- January 2005 (1)
- October 2004 (4)