Home > Energy independence, LNG, Natural Gas, Renewable energy, Shale gas > Energy independence – divergent European and American paths meet

Energy independence – divergent European and American paths meet

In recent months, many have touted that the United States is on the road to energy independence. Citibank pointed in the early part of the year that the emergence of shale oil and shale gas and increased vehicle efficiency may make USA the new Middle East of Oil, whilst Philip Verleger, a famed American economist argued that the US will be energy independent in that it will export more oil than it imports by 2023. In March 2012, the United States exports of petroleum products exceeded imports for the first time since six decades.

Whilst the Americans satiate their energy appetite with advanced lateral and horizontal drilling for tight oil and gas, the Europeans are pursuing their own energy agenda via a different route.

Divergent paths to energy independence

The use of gas instead of coal in power generation has reduced American carbon emission by 450 mt over the past 5 years. At the same time, lower energy costs have resulted in a renaissance of industry in the States, with thousands of jobs created and the relocation of petrochemical and fertiliser industries back to the States.

In Europe, countries are adopting a renewables approach towards energy independence instead. Germany’s adoption of Energiewende – an energy turnaround or transformation – faces hurdles to meet all its targets. The Irish targets renewables to be 20% of all energy sources by 2020. These targets are made more arduous by European countries phasing out nuclear power, whilst shale gas lumbers with environmental and geological obstacles in the continent.

Divergent paths meet on transportation

Even as renewables growth accelerates over the next 5 years and natural gas increase its share as an energy source, energy independence in both continents hinges on the key transportation sector. The transportation sector unlike the power sector is made up of disparate millions of vehicles which face inertia to fuel type change relative to more concentrated power stations.

Both continents’ success hinges on reducing the use of gasoline (for America) and diesel (for Europe) in vehicles. The Europeans will largely depend on electric vehicles to wean off oil. However a recent IEA report highlighted the muted impact of electric vehicles – only 5 million of vehicles sold in 2020 or 5% of total vehicles production. It may take another 30 years for electric vehicles to make a material impact, during which re-charging stations and the mileage range of electric vehicles are improved.

The greater abundance of natural gas for the Americans may see it adopt natural gas (CNG / LNG) vehicles as an interim solution for energy independence. However, similar issues arise for this type of vehicles – re-fuelling stations and the mileage range. In the case of natural gas though, prices are not likely to remain at present depressed levels. Advancing renewables technologies on the other hand are likely to see a decrease in unit costs of production over time.

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  1. August 14, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Hello Eric.

    My name is Jaime Ortega
    And I would like to include you in our The Daily Journalist Club, we need a person who can write about electric issues.

    Please email me

    Jortega at thedailyjournalist dot com

    Hope to hear soon from you.

    Jaime Ortega
    The Daily Journalist- President.

  2. Henry Markant
    January 12, 2013 at 12:59 am

    It’s a fact! The United States has the world’s largest petroleum reserves, and we currently rank third among its leading producers. We can and should become a natural gas and oil exporting powerhouse and thereby solve all of our economic problems. We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas with the world’s lowest cost, most abundant reserves. We have a glut of natural gas filling our storage tanks and pipeline facilities but need the ports and ships and additional pipelines for export. Our costs remain below $2 per ten million BTU and our prices below $4, while liquid natural gas (LNG) sells in Europe and Asia—where it is scarce—for $10 12. Opportunity is knocking!
    You can buy this book now on any of the following websites:

    Strategic Book Publishing Rights Agency: http://sbpra.com/HenryMarkant/

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    Barnes and Noble Books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coming-crises-and-their-solutions-henry-markant/1113749628?ean=2940015922875

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