There is a lot of discussion today about energy independence. Thought needs to be given to what energy independence means and what can be achieved. If energy independence is presented as self-sufficiency, then the prospect of achieving the goal is very small and will bring disappointment that will undermine the longer-term commitments that are required for a sound energy future.
However, if the goal is understood differently, then it is much more useful. We should define energy independence to be energy security — more energy resiliency, robustness and reduced vulnerability.
There is one indisputable fact that not only impacts our nation but the world as a whole: Global demand for energy will continue to increase dramatically, driven in large part by the desire of developing countries to achieve economic prosperity.
The International Energy Agency projects that global energy demand will increase 50 percent between 2007 and 2030. About 70 percent of the increase is going to be in developing countries, and those countries rely primarily on lower-cost fossil fuels.
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To meet this demand, we are going to need substantial increases in the supplies of all forms of energy. Today, fossil fuels comprise 80 percent of global energy usage: oil and natural gas comprise 60 percent, coal 20 percent and all other forms of energy the remaining 20 percent.
As you would expect, there will need to be more dramatic growth in non-fossil fuel energy sources than has been seen historically. Sources such as nuclear power, renewable fuels, biofuels, hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar energy are all important parts of the equation. Yet, the fastest growing energy sources are going to be fossil fuels.
The bottom line is that by 2030, the International Energy Agency projects that fossil fuels will still comprise about 80 percent of the world's energy usage.
If our nation is to achieve energy security, and very importantly, maintain economic competitiveness and not let our standard of living slip, we can no longer tolerate the misleading and often inaccurate rhetoric and quick fixes. We need a well-reasoned, fact-based comprehensive energy strategy that is fully integrated and consistent with U.S. foreign policy.
There are three major components of this strategy.
First, the cheapest and most plentiful form of new energy is energy efficiency and conservation. Reasonable progress has been made in the past. The U.S. economy has doubled since the 1970s, while our energy use has only increased about 25 percent.
The second key component is diversity of supplies. Diversity comes in two forms: geographic diversity of where we get oil and natural gas and diversity in terms of alternative forms of energy.
Oil and natural gas will remain the most critical and strategic component of the global energy mix for a long time in large part due to significant cost and infrastructure advantages. There are more than ample oil and natural gas resources to meet this demand.
It simply makes no sense to further hinder our ability to compete by restricting access to new areas, unfair taxation, regulation or other restrictive policies.
The other aspect of diversity is encouraging development of alternative sources of energy. Solar and wind energy have important roles to play and will grow in use in those specific areas where they are abundantly available.
Alternative energy source options alone will not meet our needs. Today alternative sources meet just more than 4 percent of our energy needs with wind accounting for 52 percent of total alternative energy supplies. Alternative energy sources are projected to increase to 8 percent by 2035.
The third key component of a U.S. energy security strategy is technology.
Technology is vitally important in increasing the supply of energy, in moderating demand and in protecting the environment.
Technological developments like 3D seismic, horizontal drilling, and multistage fracs are helping pave the way for finding and developing new oil and natural gas reserves in Kansas and around the world.
Fossil fuels are going to continue to be the dominant sources of energy for the U.S. and the world for a long time. So, technologies to capture and sequester a large portion of the CO2 produced by burning these fossil fuels have become a high priority. While most technologies for carbon capture and sequestration are essentially available, much remains to be done in improving the capture stage, demonstrating feasibility on a large scale and lowering the cost.
Change has always been a part of the oil and natural gas industry. But today we are experiencing dramatic and rapid change. Changes in the industry touch all of us because our country's economic prosperity and competitiveness are in large part dependent upon access to ample supplies of affordable, reliable energy.
We need balanced solutions that include slowing the rate of growth in energy demand, providing increased supplies of energy from diverse sources, all while minimizing the impact on our environment.