An ExxonMobil vice president got a rough ride earlier this week after he presented his company’s 2040 energy outlook at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.
William Colton, VP of Corporate Strategic Planning, had been invited to discuss a report that sees natural gas as the dominant fossil fuel through 2040, with only a limited contribution for renewable energy, and full hybrid cars providing a solution for personal transport. Energy Post reports that Colton “emphasized how oil exploration technology was improving all the time,” barely mentioned climate change, suggested continuing high costs for renewable energy, and portrayed European Union policies on renewable energy and emission reductions as an exception.
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There was just one problem, reports Mike Parr of PWR, a UK-based energy consultancy.
“The real facts with respect to renewable energy costs will have been known to much of the expert audience in the room. To give some real-life examples: Mediterranean basin solar PV costs around 5 eurocents/kWh (similar to the US$0.05 in Texas). Onshore wind in North Germany is around 7 eurocents/kWh and perhaps 5.5 eurocents/kWh in the UK.”
The response began with a subtle rebuttal from European Commission analyst Stefaan Vergote, followed by a more overt critique by the European Energy Foundation’s Tom Brookes and uniform hostility from the audience.
“Colton claimed that all energy policies had costs,” Parr writes. “Brookes cited the example of improved fuel efficiency for motor vehicles that had direct and measurable benefits for motor vehicle owners. He was too polite to mention that the cost (less fuel purchased) would be a cost borne by fuel suppliers such as Exxon.”
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