Looking back at December 2008, we barely mentioned shale gas, which for various reasons, but mostly to do with its disruptive potential, has been an obsession here lately. 

But we started out with the basic rule that saving energy is saving money and both are far easier than most experts would have business buyers believe.  Why?  The simple answer is that making a problem appear complex is the first and hardest part of the sale.  Convince someone energy is a problem and getting them to sign up to an expensive solution is the easy part.

From day one we've been techno optimists, in that we think there are solutions of various horizon lengths that can transform energy use and costs.  A long term would be something like solar, which is predicted as being able to generate electricity at grid parity even at higher latitudes sooner than many think.

On a shorter horizon but still techno optmists, we've always been fans of OLED lighting.  So when one of the top three lighting manufacturers Osram says the future has already started, we have to look.  But Osram are only one.  GE was built on incandescent lighting, and has embraced LED and OLED as the new world order.  Phillips the other world lighting  powerhouse agrees, and coming up quick are Samsung and LG.

Printable OLEDs promise to tick all the boxes:  Cheap, low power and low carbon. But they also add another not usually of importance to business users, but vital to consumers: They promise to be transformative works of art.

What attracted us was the idea that illumination is up to one third of business energy use. Street lighting is a staggering one quarter of all electric use in urban areas and domestic lighting is somewhere in between.  And we haven't even considered the savings that OLED will offer for display:  advertising and screen displays of what are now called TVs, computers and mobile phones.

To us, OLEDs promise a dual revolution in that electricity displaced from illumination means electricity generation itself will be revolutionised.  At first this seemed that it was a case where simply we could lose 15 to 20% of generation capacity:  No  need to worry about lights out Britain when we will use so much less. No need to worry about peak supply when demand disappears.

But the amount of power that OLEDs need promises to be so small that this opens up the possibility of self generated illumination via solar or paper thin batteries

Combine solar advances with OLED.  Throw in heat pumps and smart meter based efficiency.  Generate the remaining electricity via abundant natural gas.  The next decade promises to be transformative, not terrifying.  Don't buy catastrophe stories.  And don't let people sell them to you.

Attached is a copy of the Chesapeake Energy presentation on shale gas presented in Copenhagen in December 2009.  It serves as a good introduction to shale in an international context. 

Send a copy to your representatives and energy regulators.  We have, and we'll have answers here soon.

First, we must dispel the myth of natural gas scarcity.

Download Chesapeake Copenhagen Presentation


Total have made few noises about shale, and have even made diversionary noises about European gas security as little as in October.  We revealed in October 9 that far from being behind the pack, they produce the first shale gas outside of North America from Patagonia.

Argentina in general is very, very hot in shale, but so far away that most people can go about their business in secret until something big happens.  But Total are also looking at the US

Total is also considering investment to extract natural gas trapped in shale rock in the U.S. and elsewhere, de Margerie told Bloomberg at a conference in Beijing yesterday.

“We’re looking at it,” de Margerie said. “There are strong chances that the U.S. is a good place” for shale developments. The Paris-based company has made shale-gas deposits a priority to fill a development gap, de Margerie has said. Total is looking to counter falling output as OPEC limits oil production to support prices.

But we'll try and find out about this one:  Total in China.  Shale or not, this one could be big:

Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil producer, is planning to expand cooperation with China National Petroleum Corp. by pursuing a multibillion-dollar project to extract natural gas in the northern Chinese Ordos Basin


October 28:

Britain faces gas shortage in six years due to Russia

December 20

Everybody knows that this is a game changer," says Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of the $16bn (£10bn) Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the largest independent producer of shale gas in the US.

Suddenly everyone is going to be a shale fan.  Remember where you heard it first.

I guess we should be thankful. But how many UK end users signed up two or three year fixed price contracts based on fear?  How many column inches have been given over to expert,and expensive opinion that has pushed the gas shortage story way past it's sell by date.  This from CapGemini is only six weeks old!

Key Findings of the 11th European Energy Markets Observatory:

Security of supply has improved in electricity, little progress was observed in gas

Europe’s declining reserves and high dependency on Russian gas supplies are an issue.