FRACTIONAL FLOW

Posts Tagged ‘central banks

The Powers of Fossil Fuels, an Update with Data per 2017

This post is an update and small expansion of The Powers of Fossil Fuels spanning more than two centuries of the history of the world’s energy, primarily fossil fuels (FF), consumption.

  • Between 2002 and 2017 world energy consumption grew with about 39%, world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 130% and world total debts by more than 160% (market value and expressed in US dollars).
  • The narrative of the growth story of the world economy (GDP) appears as a rule to leave out two participants:
    1. DEBT and the accelerating debt growth since the 1980’s, more notably since the start of this millennium and how this unprecedented growth in total world debt helped pull forward ENERGY demand.
      Post the Global Financial Crisis (GFC in 2008/2009) the continuity of economic growth became facilitated by concerted policies by the world’s major central banks by their low interest policies and Quantitative Easings (QE).
      Lower interest rates allowed room for more DEBT on most balance sheets and growth in total DEBT is important for continued economic growth.
    2. ENERGY (and primarily FFs) consumption and its strong growth facilitated by the rapid growth in DEBT.
  • Simplistic explained is GDP a monetary measure of the annual volume of transactions.
    These transactions involve the exchange of products and services which require some input of ENERGY and in recent years growing amounts of DEBT allowed for this to happen.
    This illustrates that money/currency is a claim on ENERGY.
    The orderly retirement of the growing DEBT is a claim on future ENERGY.
  • This post also takes a brief look at the recent years’ growth in solar and wind (renewables, RE) and how their growth measured up against FFs since 1990 and Year over Year (YoY) changes for FF and RE since 2000.

Figure 1: The chart shows the developments in total world energy consumption split on sources as of 1800 and per 2017.
Energy sources are stacked according to when these were introduced into the world’s energy mixture.
The black line (plotted versus the left hand scale) shows development in the world’s GDP in current US dollars since 1980 based on data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In the early 1800s biomasses (primarily wood) were humans’ primary source for exogenous energy. Coal was gradually introduced into the energy mixture after the successful development and deployment of the steam engine which gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Coal is a nonrenewable, abundant and a denser energy source than wood.

The growing use of biomasses had led to deforestation in those areas serving energy intensive industries like mining and metals.

The steam engine and its use of abundant coal as an energy source made it possible to rapidly expand the industrial production, create economic growth and thus the Industrial Revolution was made possible by fossil fuels.

With the most recent discoveries and introduction of fossil oil and natural gas there appeared to be several abundant sources of volumetric dense energy that could entertain exponential debt fueled economic growth.

Fossil fuels represent natures’ legacy stock of dense energy (ancient sunlight) that during some decades has been subject to an accelerated depletion.

Several reports in the media may now leave the impression that we are at the threshold for a smooth transition from FFs to RE (solar and wind).

How does this measure up against hard data for RE (solar and wind) versus FFs?

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The Powers of Fossil Fuels

In this post I present a brief perspective spanning two centuries of the history of energy and mainly fossil fuels (FFs) consumption. Then a brief look at the recent years growth in solar and wind (renewables) and how their growth measures up against FFs since 1990.

Figure 1: The chart above shows the developments in the world’s total energy consumption split on sources as from 1800 and into 2013. The chart has been developed in a joint between Dr Nate Hagens and me.

Figure 1: The chart above shows the developments in the world’s total energy consumption split on sources as from 1800 and into 2013. The chart has been developed in a joint effort between Dr Nate Hagens and me.

In the early 1800s biomass (primarily wood) were humans’ primary source for exogenous energy. Coal became increasingly introduced into the energy mixture after the successful development and deployment of the steam engine which gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Coal is a nonrenewable, abundant and a denser energy source than wood. The growing use of biomass had led to deforestation in those areas serving energy intensive industries like mining and metals. The steam engine and its use of abundant coal as an energy source made it possible to rapidly expand the industrial production, create economic growth, thus the Industrial Revolution was in reality a revolution made possible by fossil fuels. With the most recent discoveries and introduction of fossil oil and natural gas there appeared to be several abundant sources of volumetric dense energy that could entertain exponential and illusive economic growth. Fossil fuels represent natures’ legacy stock of dense energy (ancient sunlight) that during some decades has been subject to an accelerated depletion. Several reports in the media may now leave the impression that we are at the threshold for a smooth transition from FFs to renewables (solar and wind). However, how does this measure up against hard data? Read the rest of this entry »

CENTRAL BANKS’ BALANCE SHEETS, INTEREST RATES AND THE OIL PRICE

In this post I present a more detailed look at developments in central banks’ balance sheets, interest rates and the oil price since mid 2006 and as of recently.

Paper and digital money are human inventions. Most people truly believe it is money that powers the society and their lives because they have never had reason to think otherwise. Money does not create energy, but it allows for faster extraction from stocks of energy (like fossil fuels) and influences consumers’ affordability of energy.

It is humans’ ability to use external energy that gives humans leverage over other animals. The financial system in general does not recognize oil for what it is, it treats it like another commodity.
We (the aggregate human hive) moved to use more financial debts as a way of pulling resources for consumption (like oil) forward in time when Limits To Growth (LTG) was written. In recent years global credit/debt creation went exponential. The workings of financial debts (created “ex nihilo”) was not included in LTG and the effects of debts are rarely recognized when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated and its future trajectory projected.

This post takes a closer look at the question:
•   “Could the cumulative effects of the strong growth in oil prices starting back in 2004, which signaled a tighter oil supply/demand balance, upon working their way through the economies, have contributed to forcing the central banks’ to deploy their tools of lower interest rates and growing their balance sheets – measures which have mitigated some of the effects of higher priced oil?”
It is recommended to read this post as an extension to my post “Global Credit growth, Interest Rate and Oil Price – are these related?” where I showed that apparently something fundamentally changed in previous mid decade.

Data from the big western central banks, US Federal Reserve (Fed), European Central Bank (ECB), Bank of England (BoE) and Bank of Japan (BoJ) have been lifted from the article “Chart Of The Day: The Fed (And Friends) $10 Trillion Visible Hand” which recently was published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.

Figure 1: The chart above is a composite of two charts. The bottom chart shows the developments for the total central banks’ assets on the balance sheets and the interest rate for Federal Reserve [Fed], European Central Bank [ECB], Bank of England [BoE] and Bank of Japan [BoJ]. Developments in total central banks’ assets in US$ Trillion are shown by the green line and plotted versus the outer right hand scale.  Developments in the interest rate (%) are shown by the dark blue line line and plotted versus the inner right hand scale.  On top of the chart and with synchronized time axes is overlaid the development in the oil price (US$/Bbl, Brent spot), red line and plotted versus the left hand scale.

Figure 1: The chart above is a composite of two charts. The bottom chart shows the developments for the total central banks’ assets on the balance sheets and the interest rate for Federal Reserve [Fed], European Central Bank [ECB], Bank of England [BoE] and Bank of Japan [BoJ].
Developments in total central banks’ assets in US$ Trillion are shown by the green line and plotted versus the outer right hand scale.
Developments in the interest rate (%) are shown by the dark blue line line and plotted versus the inner right hand scale.
On top of the chart and with synchronized time axis is overlaid the development in the oil price (US$/Bbl, Brent spot), red line and plotted versus the left hand scale.

Since the start of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008 the western central banks (Fed, ECB, BoE and BoJ) have grown their total assets above $10 Trillion and added around $7 Trillion to their balance sheets in the last 7 years.

The overlay with the developments in the oil price on the chart with central banks’ (CBs) balance sheets and interest rate (ref also figure 1), creates the impression that massive CBs liquidity injections and considerable cuts to the interest rate renewed the support for the oil price after it collapsed from its high in the summer of 2008.

The oil price has remained fairly stable since 2011 (around US$110/Bbl) as the western central banks continued to expand their balance sheets at an annual average rate of around US$1 Trillion and kept interest rates low. Then add the expansive credit/debt creation of other big economies, like Brazil and China, during this same period.

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