A popular phrase in industry is the “energy mix” and the general consensus seems to be that it is going to take an “all of the above approach” to achieve our goals of providing the world with the energy it needs. In this issue, we have a thoughtful and insightful interview with Al Vickers, the CEO of bp Wind Energy, who spent more than two decades of his career, first at bp’s petrochemical business, and later in its upstream oil and gas sector, before bp CEO Bernard Looney asked him to run the company’s wind business. Currently, wind is the number one source of alternative energy in the U.S. and, in 2020, provided about 8.4 percent of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation (EIA).
We also cover renewable natural gas, nuclear fusion, solar storage and more, further illustrating the need for a diverse “energy mix.” As a writer and editor, I am always looking for different ways to convey the same words and message, and I was hoping to find a “new” word for mix, which sounds somewhat simplistic, considering the magnitude and scope of the alternative forms of energy solutions that we currently have available and others that are being brought to scale. I thought of “mélange,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a mixture often of incongruous elements,” but was surprised to find that the word is also used in geology, which, of course, plays an essential role in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the definition of mélange as it pertains to geology is: A body of rock characterized by a lack of internal continuity of contacts or strata and by the inclusion of fragments and blocks of all sizes, both exotic and native, [my italics] embedded in a fragmental matrix of finer-grained material. This seems like a perfect way to sum up the energy transition, which is really a transformation – an inclusion of both the old and the new. While hydrocarbons and renewables may seem like incongruous elements, they are, as Al Vickers is fond of saying, complements to each other.
Don’t miss the Fall quarterly issue coming in September!
Rebecca Ponton has been a journalist for 25+ years and is also a petroleum landman. Her book, Breaking the GAS Ceiling: Women in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry (Modern History Press), was released in May 2019. For more info, go to www.breakingthegasceiling.com.