By Sonny Atumah

At the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference last week in San Antonio, United States, ExxonMobil commercial adviser Ken Golden was of the view that the calls for ban on fossil fuels for now were unrealistic. Examining global energy trends, Golden was of the view that though fossil fuels use posedanger to climate change,the clamour for alternative and renewable fuels in wind and solar would contribute less than 3 percent of global energy use by 2040.


He said the fossil fuels of oil, gas and coal would still contribute about 80 percent by 2040, though the use of coal would reduce considerably. Althoughhe gave the impression that his position was not that of his corporation, his opinion that it was not feasible to contemplate a ban of fossil fuels may not be radically different.

Excerpt of ExxonMobil’s statement on 2015 Paris Conference of Parties (COP21) was that they encouraged policy makers to develop mechanisms that would focus on reducing the greatest amount of emissions at the lowest cost to society. As a global issue, climate change requires global solutions. Both developed and developing nations must now work together in crafting policies aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions while recognizing differing national priorities.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) had predicted that, renewable energy could become the world’s largest source of electricity ahead of known conventional sources of coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear powerby 2030.Really what are the effects of fossil fuels reduction on global economies vis-a-vis greenhouse emissions?

Growing concerns on global warming led to calls for reduction of greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. Emissions have led to international climate negotiations to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The COP 21 to the United Nations made nations have a legally binding and universal agreement on climate to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Experts believe that a lot of the greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). Climatechangeaffects water supplies, agriculture, power and transportation systems, health, safety and environment. Global institutions campaigns have been that fossil fuel impact negatively on climate change, so alternative energy sources are being advocated to render fossil fuel useless.

Environmentalists continue to pile on the pressures for global fuel efficient technologies to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse emissions using renewable and alternative energies including solar, geothermal, and nuclear energy sources. But developed technologies are yet economic substitutes viable for fossil fuel in petroleum products.

Natural gas  is playing a very crucial role in energy geopolitics, a lot of industrial and power projects are now relying on the resource. With a fraction of carbon dioxide released during burning, gas may well be the fossil fuel staple that picks up the slack for an energy thirsty populace in years to come. (Exploration Magazine)

As the United States becomes more concerned about climate change, carbon dioxide emissions, and air quality, the use of natural gas for electricity generation is increasing. Natural gas heats up 51 percent of American households. It also cools many homes and provides fuels for cooking.

Natural gas has significant advantages over gasoline and diesel fuel. Natural gas vehicles emit 60-90 percent less smog-producing pollutants and 30-40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. It also costs less per mile to operate a natural gas vehicle compared to a gasoline or diesel vehicle.Trucks in the fleet are converting from diesel to compressed natural gas.

Because natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel, many companies and municipalities are deploying fleets of natural gas powered cars, trucks and buses to reduce emissions.(API)

The United States is already producing flexible fuels vehicles E85 and M85 that run on (ethanol 85 percent and gasoline 15 percent) and (methanol 85 percent and gasoline 15 percent) respectively. Norway has divested its $890 billion sovereign wealth fund from coal assets. China heavy reliance on coal is being reduced because the internal pressure on the dangers of smog in Beijing and other major cities has made her to increase her renewable capacity in solar energy.

The quest for clean energy is real. Arguments are that renewable energy sources would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.Renewable energy as biofuel (ethanol and biodiesel), biomass, geothermal, solar, hydropower and wind are naturally generated.

Artificial photosynthesis is a new source of renewable liquid fuels for cars, ships and planes.Darrell Delamaide of reports that U.S. researchers are recording breakthroughs in artificial photosynthesis that seeks to mimic the action of plants in capturing energy from the sun to produce biomass by breaking down water and combining it with carbon dioxide.

Two Swiss men’s (Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg) intense research produced an airplane called the Solar Impulse 2, built to promote clean technologies in what aircraft makers thought was impossible.The energy reserves of the airplane increase during flight, with every watt supplied by the sun stored in batteries for energy efficiency. Theplane’s historic flights round the world started on March 9, 2015 and ended on July 26, 2016 in Abu Dhabi with a cumulative distance of 43,041 km, 558 hours 06 min and solar energy use of 11,655 kWh.

Number one auto maker, Toyota mid-October announced plans to transform its product line with the goal of selling very few if any conventional gasoline vehicle by 2050. It will manufacture vehicles that are hybrids or will run on fuel cells. The plan is to sell 30,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2020 and divesting from gasoline engine has serious implications for the petroleum industry.

Manufacturers are not adopting large scale production of plug in electric vehicles for now because recharging time is prohibitive. It is a project that is attracting subsidy for its production and usage but would it shape the direction of world automobile by century’s end?

Our thoughts on petroleum and its usage in Nigeria have been lethargic; tied to the apron strings of other nations to supply us products. The national oil company is still relying on a group that is already investing in renewable energy to make petroleum products including Jet A, Jet A-1 (kerosene type fuels) and aviation gasoline (Avgas) for private, commercial and military flights.

With threats of the west on reduction of fossil fuels usage we must avoid rhetoric and be more ingenuous and pragmatic. Our talented,intelligent, experienced, and dynamic scientists and other professionals should be called to duty. Petroleum usage would continue for decades far beyond 2040 but we should stop procrastinating because we have a short period to explore, produce and refine petroleum for Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

President MuhammaduBuhari submission at COP21 was Nigeria’s promise of a 20 percent cut in carbon emissions, with a commitment that Nigeria would meet the goal, by focusing on natural gas usage, investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate smart agriculture was an anticipated approval.


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