The U.S. will be a dominant force in global oil and gas markets for many years to come as the shale boom becomes the biggest supply surge in history, the International Energy Agency predicted.
By 2025, the growth in American oil production will equal that achieved by Saudi Arabia at the height of its expansion, and increases in natural gas will surpass those of the former Soviet Union, the agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook. The boom will turn the U.S., still among the biggest oil importers, into a net exporter of fossil fuels.
“The United States will be the undisputed leader of global oil and gas markets for decades to come,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg television. “There’s big growth coming from shale oil, and as such there’ll be a big difference between the U.S. and other producers.”
The shale boom was made possible by the miraculous technological advance known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Is there anything that can derail the shale boom? Possibly.
The Washington Post is reporting that There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say:
New research published on Monday finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments.
It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds. But the more modest message is that wind energy over the open oceans has large potential — reinforcing the idea that floating wind farms, over very deep waters, could be the next major step for wind energy technology.
Of the two, shale oil and gas seems like the most realistic outcome, by far. But who really knows? Shale has long been known to harbor vast reserves of oil and gas—it was even included in the plot of the 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. Fracking opened this vast new previously technologically unexploitable hydrocarbon supply. Who could have predicted the shale boom just 15 years ago? Is there a similar unforseen dramatic technological breakthrough “waiting in the wings” for wind energy that would overcome the seemingly insurmountable drawbacks?
And then there is nuclear power. Though stymied for decades by Environmentalists’ scare-mongering, major nuclear technological advances have opened the potential for a nuclear power resurgence, reports Ronald Bailey for Reason.com.
In view of the exiting advances in energy technology that have occurred or could occur, how do we sort out the best course forward? That’s easy. Restrict government interference and favoritism, and liberate the energy market. A regulated, controlled, crony-dominated industry—an unfree market— restricts or forbids some ideas while favoring others. One might call an unfree market a partial or total “moratorium on brains”. A free market ends that moratorium, and opens up the field to all ideas and investments on an equal basis, while liberating energy consumers to make their own choices. A free market requires fair and evenly enforced laws. A free market is not just the most practical and objective way to get at the most progressive energy production, from a human flourishing perspective. It’s also the only just way, because a free market eliminates force—in other words, political influence—from the decision-making process of all participants.
There is no shortage of exiting real and/or potential, known and unknown, energy advances out there. Only freely operating private enterprise, shielded by strong property rights and anti-fraud laws, can keep progress toward an ever cheaper, more reliable, environmentally cleaner, human flourishing-enhancing energy future a reality.
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