An accurate estimate of the ultimate production of oil, gas, and coal
would be helpful for the ongoing policy discussion on alternatives to
fossil fuels and climate change. By ultimate production, we mean total
production, past and future. It takes a long time to develop energy
infrastructure, and this means it matters whether we have burned 20% of
our oil, gas, and coal, or 40%. In modeling climate change, the carbon
dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the most important factor. The
time frame for the climate response is much longer than the time frame
for burning fossil fuels, and this means that the total amount burned
is more important than the burn rate. Oil, gas, and coal ultimates are
traditionally estimated by government geological surveys from
measurements of oil and gas reservoirs and coal seams, together with an
allowance for future discoveries of oil and gas. We will see that where
these estimates can be tested, they tend to be too high, and that more
accurate estimates can be made by curve fits to the production history.
Professor Rutledge is the Tomiyasu Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, and a former Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science there. He is the author of the textbook Electronics of Radio, published by Cambridge University Press, and the popular microwave computer-aided-design software package Puff. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a winner of the IEEE Microwave Prize, and a winner of the Teaching Award of the Associated Students at Caltech. He served as the editor for the Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, and is a founder of the Wavestream Corporation, a manufacturer of high-power transmitters for satellite uplinks.
This talk is part of the PESD Energy Working Group series.