Facing the World‰’s Energy Challenges

6.3.2013 Article, Faculty News

Alan Kelly of ExxonMobil wants the world to focus on efficient energy use. As president of Fuels, Lubricants & Specialties Marketing, Kelly has a view on markets ranging from automotive to marine, aviation to asphalt and almost everything in between. He shared his thoughts on world energy during his noontime talk at Wake Forest University Charlotte Center on June third.

“Other companies are disintegrating, dividing their divisions into separate companies, but ExxonMobil believes in integration,” Kelly told the 50 or so lunchtime attendees on North College Street. The integration seems to be working for ExxonMobil. Of the $450 billion in revenues the company earned last year, about half came through Kelly’s area.

In 2006, Kelly served as project director of the National Petroleum Council’s Global Oil and Gas Study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy. The study, published both online and in print, focused on a long-term look at global energy supply and demand.

“We didn’t foresee the explosion – forgive the pun – of shale gas, but we got most of it right,” Kelly says of the study. Its five main points are:

  • Increase efficiency by moderating demand
  • The United States must expand and diversify energy supply
  • Strengthen global energy trade and investment
  • Enhance science and engineering capabilities
  • Promote a global framework for carbon management

Kelly says the group suggests that all of the recommendations must be pursued in order for global energy to be abundant in 2040 – the term the group used as a long-term forecast model. For example, the group predicts 50 percent of all passenger cards will be hybrids by 2040.

Kelly says the largest future source of energy will be savings from efficiencies we develop. In addition, the creation of a global system for carbon management will help both developed and emerging economies. But reducing emissions by seven gigatons a year – one of the group’s recommendations — isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Kelly offered some examples of alternate energy sources and how they could replace just one gigaton of emissions. For solar power, we would have to install six million acres of photovoltaics to replace that one gigaton of carbon emissions … and find a place to store the energy. If you want to do this with wind power, you’d need to install 650,000 wind turbines.

Kelly’s main point – all the countries on earth will need follow the five points of the suggested energy policy and continue to use oil, gas, nuclear, coal, hydropower and renewable sources to continue to have the necessary energy to meet demand.

A question and answer series after the presentation gave the audience room for discussion about innovative ways some companies are reducing energy demand, a focus on LEED certification and the future of organizations like OPEC.

“Bringing in corporate leaders like Alan Kelly helps our existing students and alumni connect with current market needs and innovative ideas,” says Todd Johnson, executive director of the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center. “It’s just one way our campus provides academic business thought leadership for the Charlotte region.”