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Peak Oil And Peak Demand Have Entirely Different Outcomes

Consumption

Following my previous article — Peak Demand? No, A New Gasoline Demand Record — I received some interesting feedback from readers. It quickly became apparent that some didn’t understand that the current discussions around “peak oil demand” are quite different than the “peak oil” arguments that were popular a few years ago.

Some interpreted my headline to mean that peak oil is a myth and that oil supplies will simply continue to grow. Actually, I was addressing the irrational exuberance around the near-term peak oil demand argument, which is something entirely different.

So let’s review.

Almost from the beginning of the U.S. oil industry, there have been those who suggested that it wouldn’t be long before oil production began to inevitably decline. The layman’s understanding of “peak oil” typically boiled down to “The world is running out of oil.”

But that was a misunderstanding of the actual peak oil argument. It wasn’t that the world was going to run out of oil, it was that oil production would begin a long decline and cause havoc in a world that is still highly dependent upon oil. A decade ago many prognosticators made dire predictions of the consequences of peak oil, pointing to events like the 1973 OPEC oil embargo or highlighting the fallout whenever oil shortages took place in an area.

Simply put, modern civilization can’t function without oil, so peak oil necessarily meant dire consequences. Books were written on the concept. In 2005 the late Matt Simmons published Twilight in the Desert, in which he argued that oil production in Saudi Arabia was nearing terminal decline.

For a while, it looked like Simmons could be right. Production in Saudi Arabia remained flat, global demand continued to grow, and oil prices skyrocketed above $100 a barrel (bbl). These were just the types of consequences predicted by the peak oil camp.

Fast forward a few years, and after falling for nearly 40 years, U.S. oil production began to surge as a result of the marriage between hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. It turns out that high prices can indeed enable a lot of new oil production, which was perhaps the biggest blind spot among the near-term peak oil adherents.

That’s the peak oil argument in a nutshell, but the peak demand argument is entirely different. In this case, oil production falls — not because of geological factors — but because the world turns its back on oil as cleaner, cheaper options become available. Electric vehicles and ride-sharing on a massive scale are envisioned as two of the key factors that will make oil obsolete.

Robert Rapier has over 20 years of experience in the energy industry as an engineer and an investor. Follow him on Twitter @rrapier or at The Energy Letter.

Forbes



81 Comments on "Peak Oil And Peak Demand Have Entirely Different Outcomes"

  1. Cloggie on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 5:19 pm 

    Here is a reference to the conclusion of an Australian scientific body about the relationship between the level of penetration of renewable energy and the need for storage:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/dont-worry-about-intermittency-under-30-40-renewable-energy-share/

    Conclusions:

    1. Australia can have a 100% renewable energy base “without blowing the bill”
    2. Do not worry about storage under penetration of 30%
    3. You do need to worry about storage above 40%

  2. Antius on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 5:34 pm 

    “For the rest I repeat what you like to ignore: intermittency is irrelevant for a renewable share of under 40% of the total energy mix. If you couple continental areas like EU + Russia you get even higher values”

    No its not. Assuming you don’t have a transcontinental grid, you are either: (1) using another power station for backup, in which case you have to pay for the capital and operations of that power plant, but maybe save a little fuel; or (2) Using pumped storage, in which case you must build and operate that plant and oversize your windfarm by 40% to cover the energy losses.

    There are no free lunches in this world. Going for a smaller contribution from renewables makes the integration job a little easier, but still not very profitable from a whole systems point of view.

    A transcontinental grid would either need very high voltages, meaning an entirely new transmission infrastructure, or buried superconducting cables, which require cryogenic cooling. Existing 345kV transmission systems have energy loss of 4.2% every 100 miles.

    It is therefore somewhat doubtful that the energy investment and losses in a transcontinental grid would be any lower than a pumped storage or other energy storage system and it is far from certain that such a grid could balance intermittency as effectively as storage.

  3. jawagord on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 5:35 pm 

    Putting power generators in remote locations offshore, in hostile, corrosive environments seems like asking for trouble down the road, even for Dutch make work socialism?

    “Operation and maintenance costs make up 25–30% of the total costs of an offshore wind farm (Miedema 2012, cf. Sect. 4.2.5). This is almost as much as the cost of the wind turbines and about as much as the costs of construction and installation. Individual offshore wind turbines currently require about five site visits per year: one regular annual maintenance visit, and three to four visits in case of malfunction (cf. Noordzeewind website).

    The number of days per month that offshore locations are accessible or not due to weather downtime varies over the year, with more no access days during the windy and stormy winter months (Stavenuiter 2009). The maximum number (22) of no access days of two offshore locations, very close to the Dutch offshore wind farms OWEZ and PAWP, in 2009 was in November. In spring and summer months, weather downtime fluctuated between 6 and 11 days between April and August 2009, and 16 in September 2009 (Stavenuiter 2009).

    Noordzeewind (2010) estimated a total of approximately 218 possible access days in 2009, and the remaining time of the year was considered non-productive time (‘weather downtime’) in 2009. According to a study in the German North Sea, available working days were estimated to be even lower, in a range of 30–100 days/year (Michler-Cieluch et al. 2009a).”

    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-51159-7_4/fulltext.html

  4. Cloggie on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 5:47 pm 

    A transcontinental grid would either need very high voltages, meaning an entirely new transmission infrastructure, or buried superconducting cables, which require cryogenic cooling.

    We already have in Europe a continental grid. Although it must be said that only limited amounts of energy pass the borders; from the top of my head, ca. 10% max.

    I visited during my holiday in Switzerland a hydro/pumped hydro-storage facility high in the mountains on the border with Italy. The tour guide told his audience that the operators regularly get phone calls from all over Europe to add capacity, because somebody is switching off.

    About the EROI discussion:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140616093317.htm

    Here results from a wind park in the US:

    Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.

    Energy payback 5-8 months and this is onshore. The lifespan at sea is longer because you have less turbulence and hence less stress. I think that my calculation for offshore EROI of 60 (based on 6 months energy payback and 30 operational years) is conservative. I did some reading tonight about longevity and everybody accepts that the design time of 25 years is conservative and that monitoring measures can be implemented to extend the lifetime before the tower needs to be taken down:

    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/753/9/092010/pdf

    The trouble is that nobody really knows how long a wind tower survives offshore because there is simply no experience yet.

  5. Cloggie on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 5:52 pm 

    The trouble is that nobody really knows how long a wind tower survives offshore because there is simply no experience yet.

    Not entirely true: as I remarked earlier, 11 offshore turbines in Denmark and 4 in Holland were recently decommissioned because of economic end of life, after 26 & 24 years resp.. None of the towers had failed. But it were small turbines of ca. 500 kW.

  6. Davy on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 6:59 pm 

    “6 months energy payback and 30 operational years) is conservative.”

    Paybacks like that seem too rich. There must be more too it. Plus we are in a relatively buoyant economic time. What about when times get harder. Economic dynamics are not usually factored in by most of these studies.

    Your reference (http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/753/9/092010/pdf) does not show how they got their payback figure. It just says that is what they determined.

  7. Antius on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 7:31 pm 

    “Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.”

    I don’t doubt it. A simple embodied energy analysis of an onshore turbine. Easy to do if you have a list of component weights and an embodied energy spreadsheet. My own analysis assuming 710t of steel per average MW, yields an energy payback time of 5.4 months for the steel in the turbine. This paper, for those who can access Science Direct, estimates 7 months for onshore wind and 8 months for offshore. Offshore does not do any better than onshore, because the greater areal power density of the wind is cancelled out by the substantially greater material investment required for an offshore wind turbine. This is why few countries outside Europe have made serious investments in offshore wind.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148117301258

    One problem with all these analyses, mine included, is that raw materials embodied energy does not equal component embodied energy. Working out embodied energy for anything manufactured is extremely complicated. To give one example, the embodied energy in a simple refrigerator, which weighs 100kg, was calculated to be 5.9GJ. That works out at 59MJ/kg. Looking at raw materials alone, we would probably conclude that embodied energy were half as much. Something complex, like a bearing or gas turbine blade, requires a lot of complex and energy intensive engineering to produce. The energy cost will be a lot more than the equivalent weight of raw steel.

    The other big problem is that none of these studies factor in the cost of dealing with intermittency. This more than doubles the required embodied energy – for the turbine raw materials alone, this increases energy payback time to 1 year. Including manufacturing, installation, maintenance and decommissioning energy costs, that could easily double.

    It is for this reason that I do not believe than an energy system based on offshore wind can have EROI any greater than 10.

  8. Davy on Thu, 17th Aug 2017 7:43 pm 

    Antius, I am curious what the financial figures tell us. I would like to see the numbers on costs and revenue streams. We need clarification on what the payback consists of. What kind of payment is being made to who from whom? I want to know the business side of this wind turbine transaction.

  9. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 3:38 am 

    Putting power generators in remote locations offshore, in hostile, corrosive environments seems like asking for trouble down the road, even for Dutch make work socialism?

    There are now two offshore wind parks decommissioned, for no other reason than that they had become outdated (too small), not because of corrosion or technical malfunction (in the Dutch case a rotor blade broke off and the occasion was used to write the entire “park” off):

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/worlds-first-offshore-windfarm-vindeby-decommissioned/

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/nuon-dismantles-offshore-wind-farm-in-the-netherlands/

    “Operation and maintenance costs make up 25–30% of the total costs of an offshore wind farm (Miedema 2012, cf. Sect. 4.2.5). This is almost as much as the cost of the wind turbines and about as much as the costs of construction and installation. Individual offshore wind turbines currently require about five site visits per year: one regular annual maintenance visit, and three to four visits in case of malfunction (cf. Noordzeewind website).

    5 visits/year for a 5-10 million euro machine? Big deal. My 1500 euro natural gas CV heater needs to be visited every year as well.

    These figures of 2012 mean little in a rapidly evolving terrain.

    http://www.windpoweroffshore.com/article/1314299/tide-turns-offshore-maintenance-costs

    The UK farms reported a cost range of EUR 11.3-EUR 33/MWh, whereas the Danish wind farm reported EUR12/MWh… There was a further upward drift during 2006-10, however, with both the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the US’s NREL reporting costs around EUR 25/MWh… costs are now in the range EUR 40-44/MWh, according to the UK trade association RenewableUK, a study by Fichtner/Prognos, and a paper by Roland Berger… The first two studies both suggest that these costs will fall by about 25% by 2020, to about EUR31/MWh.

    As the article states, one way to reduce maintenance cost is building one or more energy islands in the middle of the North Sea:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI0sbiCNXtA

    Another way to perhaps reduce cost is going back to two blades:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/2-b-energy-back-to-two-blades/

  10. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 4:01 am 

    I don’t doubt it.

    OK, well at least we are on the same page that a windturbine needs something like 6 months to pay itself back in energy terms. So you will agree that “raw EROI” of onshore wind, with 20 years (240 months) operational time and 5-8 months, like in the reported US will be 240/8 – 240/5 = 30-48. And perhaps you will agree that my offshore “raw EROI” of 60 is not far of the mark.

    And I’m willing to admit that storage is an essential ingredient of EROI, since oil and gas and coal have the pleasant trait that they are energy and storage at the same time (although they as well need to be stored in large containers and pipelines and ships, but that is much cheaper than in batteries).

    This article addresses EROI and storage:

    https://biophyseco.org/2017/05/19/storage-is-the-holy-grail-of-the-energy-transition-or-is-it/

    It is important to understand that wind and solar are meanwhile mature enough to be useful (although much further improvement is in the pipeline). But storage is currently THE major bottleneck. Yet at the same time, you only need to begin to worry about storage at 30% penetration. The Germans meanwhile have arrived at that point (and certainly the Danes and Scots) and have stopped lavishly subsidizing wind and solar and switched their attention to storage, although both the Germans and Scots are able to export their storage problem abroad, to the chagrin of UK and Dutch operators of hyper-efficient natural gas power stations, who are forced to halt their operations because so much “free” renewable energy is flowing in.

  11. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 5:14 am 

    Combating maintenance cost of large scale offshore wind:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/lowering-maintenance-cost-energy-islands-in-the-north-sea/

    Agreements have been signed that by 2030 an energy island will be built at the Dutch part of the Doggersbank.

  12. Antius on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 5:29 am 

    “Antius, I am curious what the financial figures tell us. I would like to see the numbers on costs and revenue streams. We need clarification on what the payback consists of. What kind of payment is being made to who from whom? I want to know the business side of this wind turbine transaction.”

    One of the significant things that wind farms certainly do have in their favour is rapid build time. It is possible to build an onshore wind farm and have it operational and grid connected in just a few months. Offshore takes longer, but it is still a matter of months.

    CCGTs used as back-up can be built in 30 months at a cost of $600/kW. That is extremely cheap, because CCGT is power dense and can be assembled rapidly as modular units. Manning levels are low compared to a coal power plant or nuclear light water reactor and the more compact plant has generally lower maintenance costs. So CCGT has relatively low capital and operational costs, compared to a coal or nuclear plant. That means it can sit in standby at a relatively low marginal cost. A combined wind-natural gas power system works by running the NG plant almost constantly and curtailing it when wind output increases, then increasing output as wind power falls. So you are basically using the wind power to reduce the amount of gas being burned in the CCGT. The cost of doing this is a lot more than the CCGT on its own, but it doesn’t (for the time being) break the bank, because the marginal capital and operating costs of CCGT are relatively low compared to other forms of generation.

    In terms of energy economics, what this means is that although the EROI of wind is mediocre, it is substituting a generating system that has very low embodied energy (CCGT) but relatively expensive fuel. At low wind penetrations, the EROI of the whole system remains close to 20, because of the low embodied energy of CCGT. The energy economics looks even better when considering rate of return of energy invested. A wind-CCGT system can be up and running two years after the initial financial and energy investment. That means that after 20 years (a typical investment window) it has returned ~18times the energy required for its construction. Compare that to a nuclear powerplant. Here, the EROI is as high as 80, but that energy is returned over 40 years and recent NPPs have taken about 10 years in their construction. The return on energy invested some 20 years after the start of the project is 20 – about the same as the wind-CCGT system. Although the overall EROI of the wind-NG system is poorer, rate of return is just as good because of the very short build times. Because capital costs come with interest which must be financed as soon as you start investing, the economics of new wind-CCGT may actually beat new nuclear in markets where there is not an established nuclear build programme. That includes most western markets.

    The wind-CCGT system will continue to compete so long as the following conditions can be maintained:
    1. Wind penetration remains no greater than 40% in a CCGT dominated generating system. More than that, and curtailment or storage are needed, both of which crash the EROI and the system economics as well. This will make ambitions for a 100% renewable energy economy very difficult to achieve.
    2. Natural gas remains relatively cheap and abundant, as this must still provide some 60% of the generation in the system.
    3. Steel remains cheap. This requires high steel recycling rates and also abundant coal for production of new steel. Using renewable energy to make new steel will multiply its cost at least several times.
    4. Nuclear power plant build-times remain long. The development of modular nuclear power plants with build times as low as 2 years and strong scale economies, would completely change the situation. This faces regulatory difficulties in many countries, but is not technically difficult to achieve.
    5. Environmental objections are ignored. The present wind business model works for onshore development and shallow offshore. No one has had much success so far building wind farms in deep waters (i.e. 40 metres). This means new turbines have to be built where people can see them.
    6. We don’t adopt silly purist political solutions, like a drive to 100% renewables. A renewable energy economy is basically a natural gas economy, with renewable energy used to reduce the amount of fuel being burned. It works within those limits, but trying to power the grid with 100% wind rather than 40% wind, increases capital costs enormously (you need a pumped storage plant, hydrogen production and storage system a CCGT to burn the hydrogen, extra transmission infrastructure and 5.5 times as many wind turbines, due to the storage losses. This crashes the whole system EROI and ruins the economics as well. By adopting renewables, we are tying ourselves to natural gas and that is a fact of life that cannot be avoided.

  13. Davy on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 5:51 am 

    “A renewable energy economy is basically a natural gas economy, with renewable energy used to reduce the amount of fuel being burned. It works within those limits, but trying to power the grid with 100% wind rather than 40% wind, increases capital costs enormously (you need a pumped storage plant, hydrogen production and storage system a CCGT to burn the hydrogen, extra transmission infrastructure and 5.5 times as many wind turbines, due to the storage losses. This crashes the whole system EROI and ruins the economics as well. By adopting renewables, we are tying ourselves to natural gas and that is a fact of life that cannot be avoided.”

    An excellent description of what I see with renewable energy, thanks Antius. This is a short and sweet summation of our (grid) foundational energy reality. It is balanced and sober. In a nutshell we are talking the combination of FF and AltE together in a balanced grid as the best way forward in a world of decline and decay. A 100% renewable world does not pen out. It is hopium. Maybe further advancements will come but currently it is a dud.

    Let’s extend what we can, buying time let us hope for something else. This balanced approach to our grid energy is the best current way forward. It is called tweaking not reinventing the wheel. Maybe the time we buy is just more precious life. Any future I see is precarious with techno solutions or not. I am all for renewables. I am excited about them. I am also tired of the cornucopian renewables cheerleading like I once was with the shale cheerleading on this board. Life is full of marketing and propaganda and it causes me acid reflux. I like the pure reality good and bad not “good times are here to stay” fluff. I am not so optimistic about our liquid fuel issues of mass transport, long distance trucking, and Industrial Ag machinery. All of these are foundational for modern life and if they go so goes modern life.

  14. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 6:16 am 

    Fascinating English spoken documentary of 14 minutes, showing a static picture of the North Sea, with ever changing graphics and statistics related to CO2 and renewable energy between now and 2050, in line with EU 2050 climate and renewable energy goals:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/2050-an-energetic-odyssee/

  15. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 6:36 am 

    I am also tired of the cornucopian renewables cheerleading like I once was with the shale cheerleading on this board. Life is full of marketing and propaganda and it causes me acid reflux.

    America didn’t manage to put a man on the moon with a skeptical attitude.

    And nobody is “cornucopian” when he tries to replace the current energy base with a renewable one.

  16. Davy on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 6:43 am 

    “And nobody is “cornucopian” when he tries to replace the current energy base with a renewable one.”

    So you are saying “cheerleading” and “fluff” is an “effort” because I see it as a “feeling”? Quit trying so hard and your efforts will show better. You have a lot to be proud of and much to be optimistic about but nothing at all to be cocky about.

  17. Antius on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 7:00 am 

    Cloggie, Your ‘renewable future’ is basically a natural gas future, with some renewables thrown in to reduce the fuel bill. That is the only way renewable energy can be factored into the electricity grid at an affordable cost. Wind could have a capacity factor of about 40% if most of it is installed offshore. Trying to store or curtail renewables rapidly ruins their energy economics. So you are stuck with 40% wind, 60% natural gas. As solar and wind are strong at different times of the year, you might manage a 50-50 mix of renewables and fossil in the electricity grid, so long as all of the fossil is provided by natural gas. If coal is part of the mix, the economics are less favourable because of the higher capital and operating costs of a coal plant and the generally cheaper fuel.

    That is the reality of life if we go down the renewable energy route. We are tying ourselves into a natural gas economy. By my estimation, if all EU electricity is eventually generated this way and transport and heating are mostly converted to electric, you can reduce the EU CO2 emissions by about half. That’s about as good as it is going to get. To do better than that your options are to either start building nuclear power plants or accept a much higher cost of electric power than we are presently accustomed to, as you start building long term energy storage systems and covering their huge energy losses.

  18. Davy on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 7:09 am 

    I can buy into that Antius and I hope for further breakthroughs. I respect reality and reality says we are in overshoot with no good prospects for leaving it.

  19. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 7:50 am 

    Cloggie, Your ‘renewable future’ is basically a natural gas future, with some renewables thrown in to reduce the fuel bill.

    You may have Davy on your side, but the entire EU against you.

    Wind could have a capacity factor of about 40% if most of it is installed offshore.

    Danish offshore wind has an historic average of 41.5%…

    http://energynumbers.info/capacity-factors-at-danish-offshore-wind-farms

    …and since it is a young technology, expect continued progress, just like nobody drives in a T-Ford anymore.

    Trying to store or curtail renewables rapidly ruins their energy economics. So you are stuck with 40% wind, 60% natural gas.

    Although I agree that we can always fall back on gasified coal…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2593032/Coal-fuel-UK-centuries-Vast-deposits-totalling-23trillion-tonnes-North-Sea.html

    …I completely reject your random assertion of 40/60 renewable/gas.

    What you are basically saying is that there is no solution for the storage problem. We have 33 years left of working and optimizing that one.

    The beauty about the future is that you can make any production. By the time the future arrives nobody will remind you of the assertions made.

    With full satisfaction I observe that the die is cast in the EU and most of the rest of the world about the way to proceed forward. We’ll see again in 2050 (or in my case 2043 if I would reach the average age of my parents).

  20. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 7:52 am 

    production=prediction

  21. Cloggie on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 7:55 am 

    Latest 12 month rolling Danish offshore capacity factor is already 45%.

    In NW-Europe most new installed wind capacity will be offshore anyway, one windpark of 100 turbines after another.

  22. Davy on Fri, 18th Aug 2017 8:12 am 

    Production = predictions. Is that from the same science that says 1kw=1kw nonsense?

  23. Antius on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 3:23 am 

    Cloggie wrote: “…I completely reject your random assertion of 40/60 renewable/gas.
    What you are basically saying is that there is no solution for the storage problem.”

    No affordable solution. Not unless we can afford to pay a lot more. A 50/50 renewable gas mix (40% wind, 10% solar), is something we can achieve without pushing electricity prices through the roof. Go beyond that and you need both short-term and longer-term energy storage and enough new renewable power plants to produce the energy and cover energy losses in storage. It is technically possible, but the price goes up very quickly and the system EROI crashes just as fast. The other option is curtailment, which would appear even more wasteful.

    “We have 33 years left of working and optimizing that one.”

    Where do you get 33 years from? From what I understand, we need to get off of fossil fuels as soon as possible.

  24. Cloggie on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 4:08 am 

    Production = predictions. Is that from the same science that says 1kw=1kw nonsense?

    Eh no. I was merely repairing a typo in my 7:50 post. Touchy today, aren’t we?

    Where do you get 33 years from? From what I understand, we need to get off of fossil fuels as soon as possible.

    The EU energy policy that stated that the EU should be fossil free by 2050 (95% cut from 1990 levels). That’s 33 years from now. 5-10 years later would be fine as well.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_policy_of_the_European_Union

    No affordable solution. Not unless we can afford to pay a lot more.

    1 kWh is one man-day of very hard physical labor:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/one-kilowatthour/

    I don’t see what the problem is if that man-day will cost you 40 cents. But I don’t think the energy price will get that high. There is a lot of price relief in the pipeline to compensate for storage cost.

    Industry predicts a further 40% decline in solar panel price by 2023 and likewise for offshore wind by 2030. That’s a lot of money “coming free”.

    By 2023 The Netherlands will have 4.5GW wind power installed in the North Sea. How to store it. Several options are competing here:

    Plan Brouwersmeer: a “negative” storage lake. Building a ring dike in the North Sea of the coast of the Zeeland province. Capacity: 1 GW for several days.

    https://www.rmserle.nl/plan-brouwersmeer/
    (download pdf)

    Hydrogen – There is a strong lobby to turn the North of the Netherlands into a “hydrogen province”.

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/prof-ad-van-wijk/

    One of the first results of that lobby is the conversion of one of the three blocks of the new Eemshaven natural gas power plant into a hydrogen burner. That’s a promising start:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/first-climate-neutral-power-station-in-the-netherlands/

    Something needs to be done.

  25. Cloggie on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 4:20 am 

    Should have added: a “negative” storage lake means building a ring dike and additionally remove a lot of sand from the inner and use it to make the dike higher, so you end up with a dike and a hole of 40 m deep. It is a “sand neutral solution”, so to speak.

    Size: 20 km2.

    Nice export product for the Dutch maritime industry. Britain may have ruled the waves, the Dutch still rule the dikes.lol

    99.4% of all global electricity energy storage comes from pumped hydro. It is a proven solution. This method saves long cables and geopolitical dependencies.

    The original plan, the Plan Lievense…

    https://www.deingenieur.nl/artikel/lievense-de-man-van-het-opslagbekken

    …consisted of building a 30 m high ring dike in the IJsselmeer. But that plan was abolished after it began to dawn that through hydro-static pressure the water would be pushed upward through the pavement into the streets of Amsterdam so this plan was abolished (although Amsterdam could use a good wash, but I digress).

    The beauty of the “valmeer” (fall lake) is that this problem no longer exists.

  26. Cloggie on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 4:37 am 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water#Efficiency

    Reported working efficiencies were for alkaline in 1996 lying in the 50–60% range for the smaller electrolysers and around 65–70% for the larger plants.[22] Theorical efficiency for PEM electrolysers are predicted up to 94%. Ranges in 2014 were 43–67% for the alkaline and 40–67% for the PEM, they should progress in 2030 to 53–70% for the alkaline and 62–74% for the PEM

    70% electrolysis conversion efficiency would be perfectly workable.

    Combine that with a fuel cell efficiency of 50% or higher in cars and planes and you have a good replacement for fossil fuel.

    https://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/doe_fuelcell_factsheet.pdf

  27. Cloggie on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 5:30 am 

    Researching a little on the state of renewable hydrogen production, here is a good example, where hydrogen conversion efficiencies of 65-70% are indeed already achieved:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/water-electrolysis-in-mainz/

    This is absolutely workable. This basically means that the storage problem is already solved, with further efficiency improvements likely.

    Perhaps we are going to have a hydrogen economy after all.

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/power-to-gas/

  28. Antius on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 5:38 am 

    Cloggie, I am not an electrical engineer. But I do know that the efficiency of an electrolysis cell is a function of current density. The higher the current density, the lower the efficiency, but the more compact and cheaper the electrolysis cell.

    As engineers, we try to achieve the lowest net cost, balancing capital costs against operational costs. This is why electrolysis cells are closer to 60% efficient. We could build larger more efficient units, but they might not be the cost optimum solution. Real life is never as straight forward as our back of the envelope calculations would suggest.

  29. Antius on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 5:49 am 

    “Combine that with a fuel cell efficiency of 50% or higher in cars and planes and you have a good replacement for fossil fuel.”

    Fuel cells have never been very cost effective solutions for powering vehicles. We have electric cars right now, although they are expensive compared to petrol or diesel cars.

    A 25% round trip efficiency is a very poor utilisation of electric power that is expensive to begin with. When you combine that with the high purchase cost of the fuel cell car, how many people could really afford to own and use one?

    If we do go down a 100% renewable energy route, power will be expensive. In terms of passenger-km per MJ, rail is probably our most efficient transport system. Can we rearrange our society around rail, rather than automobile?

  30. Cloggie on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 8:09 am 

    A 25% round trip efficiency is a very poor utilisation of electric power that is expensive to begin with.

    The same efficiency as with petrol cars.

    When you combine that with the high purchase cost of the fuel cell car, how many people could really afford to own and use one?

    Not. Cars will become public property, self-driving taxis. The cost of ownership will be redistributed over many owners.

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/by-2030-you-wont-own-a-car/

  31. Davy on Sat, 19th Aug 2017 9:18 am 

    “Will”????

    I am the most skeptical of those who use “will” in relation to the future. We have a name for those people. And a preacher or a snake oil salesman comes to mind.

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