Last week, the head of ExxonMobil's
According to the company's Robert Olsen, Exxon expects that wind and solar power will grow at an average annual rate of 10.5% between now and 2030, compared with just 1.6% yearly for the combination of coal, natural gas, and oil. But if you're envisioning an end to oil rigs and gas stations, despite those disparate growth rates, the company believes that when we hit 2030, 80% of our energy needs will still be accounted for by fossil fuels, vs. just 1% by that relatively fast-growing wind and solar component.
Fools will recall 2030 as the year by which such forecasters as Exxon and the U.S. Department of Energy think the world's daily energy requirements will reach the equivalent of about 120 million barrels of oil. That's up more than 40% above today's level, and the realization faces a couple of big -- perhaps insurmountable -- hurdles.
The first is simply that many of today's big fields were discovered decades ago, and their production rates are beginning to flag seriously. As such, the future discoveries that would accomplish the big hike in output must first make up for that sliding production.
The other impediment to raising production is at least as serious: A larger percentage of the world's reserves and production are located in places like Venezuela -- which this year booted such Western operating producers as Exxon, Chevron
None of this says anything about events in Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, or China. What it does accomplish is the painting of a picture in which we may just be closer than we realize to that "tipping point" wherein energy demand begins to exceed supply, a daunting circumstance to which energy seer T. Boone Pickens alludes frequently.
More immediately, crude prices have climbed almost unnoticed to nearly $77 a barrel, just a skosh from their all-time highs, up roughly $20 a barrel just this year alone. I hope it's enough to make you want to double-check your Foolish investment portfolios for solid energy names.
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