2. Climate Change and Public Image of HCR as a Source of CO2 Emission
3. Alternative Energy Technologies. Problems and Prospects
3.1. Nuclear Energy Sector
3.2. Renewable Energy Sector
- RES are a group of primary energy resources that are considered inexhaustible for foreseeable future consumption. Moreover, they have an extensive geographical range to allow the creation and scaling of decentralized energy supply systems  and, as a result, avoid the problems related to the creation of centralized infrastructures.
- Theoretically, RES technologies are carbon-free, with some exceptions. Nevertheless, when considering them in view of the entire lifecycle, including the production and use of worn equipment, environmental issues become more controversial .
- Similar to HCR, some RES have non-uniform geographical distribution. Significant differentiation can be seen even in one country . Resources of wind and solar energy show the most wide-spread distribution in the world, though they do have certain restrictions.
- Another issue is dependence on favourable weather conditions, prediction of which is a complex scientific task. The most predictable sources are biomass, geothermal energy and hydro-energy due to their low dependence (or independence) on changeable weather conditions. This issue also determines the complexity of energy transformation process control and maintenance of required levels of effectiveness .
- The third issue is related to the immaturity of most RES-based technologies, which affects energy generation cost. The most cost-intensive options are solar and oceanic energy plants, with the electricity cost being an order of magnitude higher than that of HCR. The most competitive are large-scale hydro and wind plants, the energy cost of which is only a few times higher than that of HCR. Additionally, a comparatively low production cost of energy can be obtained during the processing of biomass, including peat, due to the high rate of its reserve base replenishment . Low competitiveness in terms of price necessitates seeking ways of defining the project’s potential based on theoretical prospects, rather than on the completeness of technologies and potential profitability .
- The fourth, and probably main, issue with RES is the accumulation and storage of energy. Today, many technologies have been developed in this area, but there are objective problems with their effectiveness and possible storage period . In accordance with market needs, RES development is impossible without these key stages of energy generation .
3.3. Hydrogen Technologies
- Unlike HCR, hydrogen is a secondary energy resource since its production from the natural environment is hard to implement. Many concepts and technologies have been developed for generation of hydrogen , which can be provisionally divided into two groups: (1) based on RES, and (2) based on HCR. The first group uses thermochemical or biological processes. The second group uses HCR reforming and pyrolysis processes. The problem is that the majority of accessible technologies are not sufficiently tested for their industrial implementation.
- The cost of hydrogen production is quite high due to the initial stage of technology development and it does not allow competition with traditional HCR-based technologies. The study  includes a comparative analysis of 19 technologies for the production of hydrogen fuel. Based on this analysis, the authors drew several important conclusions in terms of the potential of the development of hydrocarbon resources. First of all, the reforming of the hydrocarbon feed has the highest energy efficiency among all of the options considered. Secondly, the exergy efficiency of hydrocarbon reforming is one of the highest (45–50%), with only biomass gasification being ahead of it (60%). Thirdly, it was shown that the cheapest hydrogen could also be obtained from the hydrocarbon feed, with a price of nearly 0.75 $/kg H2. The use of technologies such as water electrolysis will enable generation of hydrogen with a cost 1.5 times higher and more.
- Transportation and storage processes are the foils of the hydrocarbon energy sector . An increase in the efficiency of the processes is related to the solution of two key issues: the transformation of hydrogen into a form with higher density (for example, liquefaction), and an increase in the safety of tanks and delivery systems. In addition, while the first problem already has some practical solutions, the issues of safe hydrogen handling have not yet been studied. However, nearly 70 mln t are produced, presently, and as a rule is used during the processing of metals.
4. Hydrocarbon Resources. Focus on LNG
4.1. The Role of Hydrocarbons in the Energy Sector
- There is no system for the international regulation of processes connected with the development of the traditional oil and gas sector, whether by increasing the effectiveness of internal processes or by integration with associated industries.
- Rapid depletion of the raw materials base of easy-to-recover reserves and, as a result, higher operating and investment costs. By some estimates, the refilling of reserve volumes trails behind the volumes of produced oil and gas resources by 20%–30% , which will lead to industrial stagnation and destabilization of the raw-material and associated markets in the long term.
- The comparatively low level of oil recovery at multiple fields. The average value of the global recovery ratio is around 20%–40% . In some cases, such rates are connected with the possibility of reorientation to new “effortless” reservoirs; however, such policies may become impracticable soon.
- The lack of commonly accepted indicators for assessment of oil and gas companies’ performance based on sustainable development principles . For example, it is evident that using nuclear energy resources must be regulated and controlled at an international level. Due to this, it is not quite clear why hi-tech oil and gas industries bearing huge technological and environmental risks are completely self-regulated.
4.2. The Role of Russia in the Development of the LNG Industry
5. Conclusions and Discussion
5.1. Global Energy Markets
- Today we face a paradoxical situation. International corporations and politicians calling for the need for an immediate transition from HCR to alternative energy technologies. However, the real activities of leading global economies show that they are not planning to decrease their footprint in the hydrocarbon energy sector and, moreover, they are expanding scientific and technical potential in geological surveying and the production of HCR.
- Environmental protection is one of the main barriers to sustainable development in the energy sector, which is unlikely to be eliminated within the next few decades due to our current level of technological development. The risk of climatic catastrophe is extremely high. At the same time, the lack of knowledge of the secondary theories of Global Warming mechanisms makes this issue even more complicated. On the one hand, we could have a chance to receive extra time to improve the environmental efficiency of our technologies. On the other hand, there is a risk that it is too late, and we will see the forecasted consequences much earlier than expected.
- The most promising alternative energy options include RES, nuclear energy, and hydrogen. Theoretically, each of these resources is able to solve the HCR environmental issue, but there are some concurrent critical disadvantages that prevent them from being a complete alternative in the observed future:
- the majority of RES-based technologies will be non-competitive within the next ten to twenty years due to insufficient efficiency of energy conversion and storage processes;
- the generation of nuclear energy is associated with significant risks of a mainly technical (environmental) nature, mitigation of which is impossible at present;
- hydrogen itself is not an energy resource, as much as a method for storage and transportation of primary energy and its broad application requires a solution to safe-storage and transportation issues, a higher efficiency of production, the creation of new infrastructure and the development of market-interaction mechanisms.
- The global resource potential of the oil and gas industry as a whole is able to ensure the sustainable development of the world economy under the conditions of a better investment climate and the formation of an international regulation system for the sector. Here, special attention must be paid to ensuring good conditions for the development of hard-to-recover reserves in terms of geological and environmental factors.
- The vector for the development of oil and coal sector has shifted towards integration with the chemical industry to enable the diversification of sectoral enterprises activities, but their role in the energy sector will not be reduced within the next few decades.
- LNG production is the independent sector of the gas industry with the highest expansion potential in the long run. First of all, this can be attributed to the environmental and economical properties of LNG, which enable its consideration as a “win–win” solution for energy supply to satisfy even the strict requirements of European Union. Moreover, the flexibility of LNG logistic chains compared to pipelines is a very important factor.
5.2. The Role of Russia in the Development of the LNG Industry
Conflicts of Interest
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|Proportion of HCR as primary energy sources in 2025, incl.:|
|Proportion of HCR as primary energy sources in 2035, incl.:|
|Aggregate consumption of energy resources in 2035, bln toe||17.6||17.5||17.3||17.2||17.1||17|
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