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During the past ten years the energy landscape has changed dramatically, with huge advances in both traditional fossil fuels, and also renewable energy technologies.
Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling practices have opened up previously un-workable deposits, offshore wells are becoming deeper and deeper, and oil exploration is even occurring in the freezing waters of the Arctic.
In the world of renewable energy, the price solar panels has fallen by 80% and wind turbines are now six times as powerful as they used to be, producing far more electricity at a far lower cost.
Policymakers are excited by the potential for growth in the two industries, and are therefore stuck trying to promote two very different solutions to the world’s energy demands at the same time.
Oil and gas prices that are at their highest ever levels across most of the world are driving oil and gas companies to explore ever more dangerous or difficult regions in the search for new sources of hydrocarbons.
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And whilst there are many that work to encourage a reduction in fossil fuel production, the world’s demand for energy, and the natural abundance of hydrocarbon fuels, makes it very difficult deter their exploitation.
Even the latest claim by the International Energy Agency, that in order to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, then only half of all existing proven reserves of oil and gas could be extracted and burnt by 2050, and that’s assuming huge cuts in global coal use, has little effect on the demand for and consumption of fossil fuels.
Demand only gets ever higher, raising the prices, which in turn encourages oil companies to spend even more in exploration and production.
Unfortunately renewable energy is losing the battle as investors see more security in fossil fuel demand for the future.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com