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back to article Saudi oil minister praises renewable energy

A call to acknowledge concerns over global warming (aka climate change aka climate disruption aka pseudoscientific fraud) has come from a most unlikely source: Saudi Arabia's oil minister. "Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are among humanity's most pressing concerns," said Ali Al-Naimi in a speech at the Middle East …

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Holmes

7 kW/m^2 sounds way off. Typical rule of thumb is closer to 1.

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Bronze badge

I think that's the amount, if you had a solar panel with 100% efficiency that always faced the sun and never got dirty, or went behind a cloud, or...

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Angel

I suspect that's an annual figure

3000 hours of sunshine, 2 watt/sqm/hour = 7 kW/sqm/year

That figure is still off, though.

Oh well.

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For Riyadh you will get about 6 kWhr/m2/day of energy from the sun. At its highest in June it goes up to 6.89, down to 4.41 in December. This is raw energy but at 15% collection efficiency it is about 1kWhr/m2/day.

The June figure of 6.89 is an average over the whole month at the centre of the country. So given that, there may be a point in the south where on Summer Solstice the energy received is 7kWhr/m2/day or pretty damn close.

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It's a daily figure

7kWhr/m2/day, but this is a maximum figure during June.

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Def
Bronze badge
Joke

or...

...had a woman park in front of it. Fortunately, that will never happen in Saudi either.

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Silver badge

"leave us alone!"

In other words: "Please USA, don't invade us when you're done with Iraq oil; build solar panels instead".

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FAIL

Typical innaccurate green bollocks

"The Kingdom experiences roughly 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, emitting about 7,000 watts of energy per square metre,"

Unless the kingdom is in orbit aroud venus, then I'm not believing that shit.

At least it wasn't watts per hour.

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Bronze badge
Facepalm

The "watts per hour" thing doesn't make you look too bright, either. I'd rate you around 0.1 joules per second, decreasing at the rate of 1 milliwatt per hour.

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Anonymous Coward

Renewable energy is good...

So say the oil companies - as long as they have a monopoly on renewable energy in addition to fossil fuels.

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Unhappy

Renewable is great

when you run out of the stuff you've been pumping up for the last 70 years.

Please move along. Nothing to see here at Ghawar. It's all tapped out. Your tour bus is blocking the sun on the King's solar panels and costing him lots of watts. Please move along.

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Headmaster

Indeed.

Out by this third rock, the sun's energy output is clocking 1366 W/m2.

Maybe they've a flux capacitor?

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Bronze badge

Look at the units of measurements.

He was talking about 3,000 hours *per year*. With the lack of time differential for his othe number, I assume he means 7,000 Watt per square meter each year. Which would be ~2.3Wh/m^2

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Meh

Petroleum is here to stay

is it? I think not.

But on the upside solving the energy/transport problem (ie switching from petrol/oil to nuclear/solar/electric/Hydrogen/gas) is at least a practical proposition, and advancing on many fronts.

Replacing oil-based Materials (plastics, fertilizer etc) is gonna be more of a bitch though.

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Headmaster

Not as silly as it sounds...

Don't underestimate solar power; if it follows the same price/performance trajectory as the rest of the semiconductor industry things will happen quickly and we can forget fusion and thorium reactors etc. Even research is moving things along nicely - Xiaoyang Zhu at the University of Texas has for example recently identified a simpler way of capturing 'hot electrons' in silicon panels, raising the theoretical max efficiency to 66% (Zhu suggests 44% in practice).

Not quite there yet, but I expect the Chinese are already working on it - they need lots of clean energy and have plenty of desert plus the manufacturing capacity to build the stuff. Anything we do in Europe is just p*ssing in a river compared with what the Chinese are capable of.

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Silver badge

Moore's law?

It can't follow Moore's law as there's only so much energy to be captured from the Sun.

Unless that wasn't what you meant.

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@Richard Wharram

"It can't follow Moore's law as there's only so much energy to be captured from the Sun.

Unless that wasn't what you meant."

I was reading it as meaning the increase in density and efficiency, and decrease in the per-unit cost, of the semi-conductor part of the PV cell - but that's not to say that was what was intended either.. maybe we'll get a clarification.

That said, we can't easily extrapolate the 'usual' Moore's Law endlessly [0] - the current round of ~10nm processes being built and tested lead to transistors with only a few dozen atoms in the gate channels (~50). With the ~4nm processes being expected in some shape or form by 2020, that number goes down to about a dozen. The current version of Moores' Law applied to that would lead to a single atom channel before 2030 - all assuming we're still using CMOS or similar semiconductor technology to provide the features that is...

[0] ..and neither should we - it's not really a law as we all know, just an observation, which itself has changed a number of times, that broadly holds true.

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Happy

110%

If even contestants on the X Factor can give 110% then I don't see why solar panels can't be made to eventually.

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Boffin

Solar thermal is here and now.

Known technology, very scalable and *can* be stored. From a physics point of view it's also broad spectrum rather than relying on 1 or more band gaps, where below the band gap you just heat up the PV panel, above it you don't much benefit.

I'll also note the US built up substantial construction experience in this type of system while Europe is keen to roll out single axis high temperature inert oil systems.

I'd say solar in whatever form *does* make sense in somewhere like the Middle East.

On the numbers 7Kw m^-2 sounds high. The solar "constant" is really just an *average* across a year, across latitudes and across the spectrum. IIRC the European plans used a figure for desert areas of something like 2000 W m^-2. Keep in mind the Earth is *inclined* to the planes of the Sun, so optimum latitude is likely to be whatever inclination the Earth is at to the solar system plane so the Sun would be *exactly* opposite that part of the Earth.

But the big one is *not* efficiency.

It's $/Kwh. The US (through) JPL spent *lots* of money in the 1970-s and early 80s trying to lower the cost of PV cells. They made headway.

Strangely you still don't see *every* new home or office in the sunny regions of the US sporting a full set of panels.

Certainly the front runner for "The last person I would have expected to say *that*" award this year.

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Black Helicopters

Alternatives....

Perhaps the Saudis are not terribly keen on the production of some the more promising alternative fuels.

Alcohol fuels (methanol, ethanol etc.), which could use the existing distribution networks and infrastructure, could run into religious objections.

Saudi Arabia would also have difficulty growing the biomass needed in their production.

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Education? In Saudi?

Yeah right. If you educate them, sooner or later they'll start asking "what's special about those guys at the top?" And the Saudi record on that is pretty clear. In your own country, you send in the secret police to round them up, routinely torture them, and imprison them for any length of time you like without trial. And elsewhere (Bahrain, say) you send troops across to help your fellow plutocrats stay in power through force. And all this is before we've got onto the 50% of citizens who've had the misfortune to be born female.

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Gold badge

@Graham Bartlett

That said the healthcare system is meant to be pretty good and free (for citizens). A sort of national health service if you will.

It was also an early live test of AI in medicine with the Ryadah Intensive Program to diagnose probabilities of ICU patients recovering.

Hopefully they have updated this over the years to track improvements in treatment outcomes.

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Pirate

London, Middle East

Ironically he and his chums took us one step closer to Peak Oil* by having the "Middle East and North Africa Energy 2012 conference" in that well known MEA city: London. (* the point at which oil production starts declining, which some say could be as soon as 2015.)

Skull & Crossbones: de rigueur flag for vessels off East Africa

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Anonymous Coward

peak Oil

The figures that you have probably read are related to how much oil is left if it's produced at the current production levels with the current reserves.

What no-one ever seems to pick up on is the vast number of untapped reserves that exist; also the fact that 'peak oil' was a propaganda tool started by OPEC (to keep prices high) that seems to have backfired somewhat spectacularly since the environmentalists hijacked it.

Before I don my tinfoil hat, I feel compelled to mention I worked for a Saudi oil supplier for a brief period and was informed that by their reckoning, they have at least 300 years worth of oil left in their reserves. Not going to run out anytime soon.

Regardless of how much oil is left, I'm all for us moving to more sustainable energy supplies.

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FAIL

Please change your icon to Joke Alert

"What no-one ever seems to pick up on is the vast number of untapped reserves that exist"

"The peak of world oilfield discoveries occurred in 1965[50] at around 55 billion barrels (8.7×109m3)(Gb)/year.[51] According to the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), the rate of discovery has been falling steadily since. Less than 10 Gb/yr of oil were discovered each year between 2002-2007.[52] According to a 2010 Reuters article, the annual rate of discovery of new fields has remained remarkably constant at 15-20 Gb/yr."

" 'peak oil' was a propaganda tool started by OPEC (to keep prices high) that seems to have backfired somewhat spectacularly since the environmentalists hijacked it.... I worked for a Saudi oil supplier for a brief period and was informed that by their reckoning, they have at least 300 years worth of oil left in their reserves.  Not going to run out anytime soon."

When did you work for that Saudi oil supplier?  The early 1700's?  :-)

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C 2
Alert

RE: peak oil

Someone has been fed some serious mis-information. I'm correcting the major point.

Have a look at Wikipedia's article on peak oil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_peak_oil

Global production of conventional oil peaked in 2007-2008, despite increasing demand.

To make up that increased demand, we've begun mining the stuff and scraping it off the sand that its soaked into. We've also started in on other extremely costly and hard to get to 'reserves'. Whoever said we have 300 years of reserves is either delusional, been lied to or works for a propaganda outfit. This doesn't even consider that if we somehow continued to burn fossil fuels for 300 years at current rates, our climate would probably be like the planet Venus (hot enough to melt lead). Even a few more decades may do enough damage to the climate and environment make humans nothing more than another layer of the fossil record. Our environment is failing. We are the cause. We cannot live without it.

We're on the way down. Yes, its that serious.

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it makes sense

I really don't see why everyone is so supprised. The more energy they generate from other means the more of the black sticky stuff they can sell (or sit on and wait for the price to rise). They have a large amount of capital now why not invest it in the means to be self sufficient when the wells do run dry?

Add in the side benifits of a little bit of greenwash after all they are getting the kind of publicity that money can't buy with this anouncement!

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Anonymous Coward

Oil is renewable every 50-100 years

For those who don't know crude oil is renewed every 50-100 years so what they pump out now is replenished. There is so much untapped crude oil available it's just laughable to think we would even run low on it. I'm all for renewable energy as long as it's a free market and not a Cabal like the present Oil Cartel.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

You're going to have to explain that.

Where exactly is the crude renewed from? Do billions of pre-historic creatures from millions of years ago die again and bury themseves deep underground again and and get gradually converted to oil again over millions of years, and do they do all this again and again and again every 50-100 years forever? No?

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Anonymous Coward

No moron...

The adjacent areas from where the crude was pumped are always in a state of creating new oil. Crude is the word. Look it up!

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Trollface

@ AC. "Look it up"

Where? In the Joe Miller joke book?

"After Miller's death, John Mottley (1692–1750) brought out a book called Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-Mecum (1739), published under the pseudonym of Elijah Jenkins Esq. at the price of one shilling. This was a collection of contemporary and ancient coarse witticisms, only three of which are told of Miller. This first edition was a thin pamphlet of 247 numbered jokes. This ran to three editions in its first year.

Later (not wholly connected) versions were entitled with names such as "Joe Miller's Joke Book"

and "The New Joe Miller" to latch onto the popularity of both Joe Miller himself and the popularity of

Mottley's first book. It should be noted that joke books of this format (i.e. "Mr Smith's Jests") were common even before this date. It was common practice to learn one or two jokes for use at parties etc.

Owing to the quality of the jokes in Mottley's book, their number increasing with each of the many subsequent editions, any time-worn jest came to be called "a Joe Miller", a Joe-Millerism, or simply a Millerism.

Joke 99 states

A Lady's Age happening to be questioned, she affirmed she was but Forty, and called upon a Gentleman that was in Company for his Opinion; Cousin, said she, do you believe I am in the Right, when I say I am but Forty? I ought not to dispute it, Madam, reply'd he, for I have heard you say so these ten Years. :o)

Joke

A famous teacher of Arithmetick, who had long been married without being able to get his Wife with

Child. One said to her ‘Madam, your Husband is an excellent Arithmetician’. ‘Yes, replies she, only he can't multiply.' :o)

Joe Miller was referred to in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843), by the character Scrooge, who remarks "It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke (as sending the

turkey to Bob.)" [Wikipedia]

AC is famous for his Joe Miller jokes. Thumbs up for you, AC.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Re. No moron...

"The adjacent areas are always in a state of creating new oil"... from what? I'm willing to bet real money that it is isn't going to keep renewing itself forever: the raw material must run out at some point, and something that runs out is, by definition, not renewable.

As for the insult, right back at ya buddy.

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Facepalm

Hey people, stop behaving like kids...

There is enough documentation about depleted fields refilling, it's happening in Saudi and Russia. Has even been reported/discussed in a previous el REG article some years back - not going to look for it....

Here is something more recent:

http://www.rense.com/general63/refil.htm

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Devil

Happening in Saudi and Russia

Two of today's bastions of an open and free press. You can count on the truth of anything reported from those two oil production giants. :-)

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Mushroom

This isn't really about green energy.

It's about heading off a 'Saudi Uprising' due, in part, to a young highly educated but unemployed population. No doubt we will play our part by continuing to supply arms to the ruling regime.

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Saudi Shock

Regardless of his potential "agenda" is making this announcement, it's an obvious sign of the times that the one nation in the world, literally sitting on billions upon billions of dollars in fossil fuels, says they want to pursue renewable energy. Most hopefully, it tells the rest of the world to get in gear and not let the oil rich Saudis lead the way on any renewable technology. I'm keeping my eyes on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. Truly clean, endless power created from the temperature difference in shallow and deep water. It won't work for the Saudis, but they don't really want it right? For people living near tropical locations it will cut their dependence on fossil fuels, and the only byproduct is clean drinking water. So yes, clean energy and clean water. That's the kind of energy source we can all be proud of. Right now the Bahamas are working on 2 OTEC plants, and other Caribbean nations are following their lead... lots more info on that deal at The On Project...

http://www.theonproject.org/2011/the-bahamas-sign-memorandum-of-understanding-to-build-two-otec-plants/?utm_source=theregister&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=mscomment

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C 2
Go

RE: OTEC

Right, but what the Saudis can use is the upside-down land version of an OTEC, that has a byproduct of a year round greenhouse. It can also generate electricity 24/7/365. Pretty good for solar, huh?

I encourage skepticism, but you might want to read how before you go into 'complete disbelief mode'. There's even pictures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

These are well within our ability to build, and have been for at least 30 years, despite the enormous tower at its center. Although the tower is a pretty expensive part. Namibia has eight of these in the planning stage. Two more are in the permit stage in the SW of the US. Alternate designs are available that use a buoyant chimney, cutting the build cost significantly.

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