Gerald Schotman: There’s no doubt that the world will need all energies, from all sources, fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, and biofuels.
Gerald Schotman is chief technology officer for Shell. Population experts predict an increase from about seven billion people today to nine billion by 2050.
Gerald Schotman: The demand for energy will continue to rise significantly, maybe doubling by 2050.
Schotman said that, for Shell, natural gas is a hot area of research. He said that modern gas plants emit up to 70 percent less CO2 than traditional coal plants. And, he said, natural gas can be chilled and compressed into what’s called liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
Gerald Schotman: To illustrate the point, liquefaction brings a “beach ball” full of gas down to a volume which is the size of a table tennis ball. The much reduced volume, of course, makes it possible and efficient to transport gas through big carriers, LNG carriers, to gas markets around the world
Schotman spoke of large reserves of natural gas in the deep ocean. Shell is developing an enormous floating facility called FLNG, or Floating Liquified Natural Gas. Set for launch in this decade off the coast of Western Australia, the facility will liquefy the gas on board. It’ll eliminate the need to build processing plants and a jetty along the coast. It would be the largest floating structure in the world today.
The growing global demand and how technology develops to meet it, said Schotman, are the critical factors to drive innovation in the energy sector.
Gerald Schotman: And I think the essence to understand is that probably 70 percent of that energy is still very much related to fossil fuels and nuclear. The other 30 percent is related to a whole other mix, which we usually call ‘renewables.’ So renewables become more and more relevant, and oil and gas remain an indispensable part of this mix.
Our thanks today to Shell – encouraging dialogue on the energy challenge.
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.