Register

Peak Oil is You


Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)


Page added on March 4, 2017

Bookmark and Share

Peak oil? Not any time soon

Peak oil? Not any time soon thumbnail

We’ve heard for decades that there is a phenomenon known as peak oil. The Green taliban all want us to change our ways because apparently oil is going to run out soon.

That argument wasn’t really gaining traction so along came climate change to scare us into using alternative fuel sources.

However, peak oil is still referred to by the wombles…the only problem is we are way past when it was predicted to be and we are still finding oil.

Oil is more plentiful than you can imagine. And we keep figuring out easier and more economical ways to get it out of the ground.

In 1938, the famous geologist M. King Hubbert came up with the concept of peak oil, which is defined as having extracted half of the recoverable, conventional oil reserves. After that, oil production declines and cannot keep up with growing demand as the population continues to rise.

In Hubbert’s time, most of the conventional oil reserves had already been discovered. Hubbert went on to predict that U.S. production would peak in 1969, and it did appear to peak in 1970. World reserves were supposed to peak around 2010 (see figure).  

However, about 20 years ago, the industry really leapt forward on the technologies to find oil and to extract it. Particularly fracking.

This changed everything.

BP’s Spencer Dale summed it up nicely, “For every barrel of oil consumed over the past 35 years, two new barrels have been discovered.” And this shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Peak oil has probably moved out a hundred years or more.

Right, so not really a problem then, is it?

Drilling into unconventional sources like oil and gas shale is quite different, more like tiramisu – the petroleum is in many layers that have to be individually tapped using horizontal drilling and fracking methods to open up the rock.

Saudi Arabia has a bunch of really big jelly donuts. The United States has lots of tiramisu, plus some pretty good jelly donuts as well. But we keep finding more tiramisu.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of these rocks has allowed us to recover gas and oil from these tight rocks, and horizontal drilling, as well as drilling many-directional strings from a single well, have allowed pinpoint targeting of these deposits, making recovery economic. If the crude is think and tarry, and won’t flow at all, like the Alberta tar sands, it must be removed by using heat, steam or solvents and mixed with more fluid crude for transport.

Unfortunately, the environmental cost of unconventionals is even greater than for conventional sources.

World oil and gas reserves are estimated in four ways:

1) those that are economically recoverable (this is what is used most often), also known as proven reserves,

2) those that are technically recoverable (we think we could recover these in the future),

3) total or in-place reserves (the total amount of oil and gas we know of but know we can’t get it all out yet), and

4) Unknown reserves (those we do not know about yet, primarily under ice sheets).

We still only use the first two to estimate global oil reserves, and so they keep changing as we develop new technologies and find new unconventional reserves.

Saudi Arabia was so concerned they initiated a price war hoping to drive the shale oil producers out of business. But the Saudis forgot about market forces. Shale oil producers got leaner and meaner, they are still in business but at a lower production rate.

Initially, this oil war made the U.S. shale oil industry leaner and meaner as the big guys like Exxon bought out the small guys going bankrupt. But eventually, even the big guys had to decrease shale oil production, and even some conventional reserves have been closed down.

So the oil war seems to have worked out for the Saudis and OPEC. According to Chris Helman of Forbes, the Saudi’s tactic has brought a halt to the shale boom and has also potentially scared off a whole generation of exploration into the deepwater and arctic.  “75% of America’s drilling rigs are in mothballs and fracking crews have been tossed to the wind.”

Oil prices are back up over $50/bbl and holding steady.

The unconventional oil is still there, it’s just that OPEC will not make it very economic to recover until we really need it.

But certainly, Peak Oil is no longer in sight.

Next time you hear a green womble banging on about peak oil, smile nicely at the stupid person.

– Forbes



50 Comments on "Peak oil? Not any time soon"

  1. rockman on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 3:17 pm 

    Since this crap was deemed import enough to repeat I figure my crap must also be important so I’ll repeat my original response:

    Even if they can’t get the definition correct you think they could get the date correct from wiki: it wasn’t 1938. Nor is it defined as “having extracted half of the recoverable, conventional oil reserves.” Amazing Forbes can’t understand such a simple metric.

    Here’s one of the best summaries of his analysis I’ve run across especially since it highlights more subtle points some folks miss:

    The Hubbert peak theory says that for any given geographical area…the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell-shaped curve.”

    Yes: a given geographic area at a point in time. There was a previous PO date in the late 1800’s as production in one geographic area, PA, declined. There was another PO date when the geographic area of the Texas oil trends (which were the primary stats Dr. H used) in the 1950’s time frame. And that is the same geographic area, but different time frame, where a PO will be established for the Eagle Ford Shale peak. And today we may be at the PO of another geographic area, the offshore Gulf of Mexico, which has just reached an all time high of daily oil production.

    The confusion comes when folks start lumping different geographic areas over different time periods. The shale plays came very close to establishing a new US PO date. But even if it had it would not invalidate Dr. He’s analysis: it was primarily based upon one geographic area over one time period. And his project proved very accurate and would have still been correct had the shales established a new US PO date.

    And it continues: “The Hubbert peak theory is based on the observation that the amount of oil under the ground in any region is finite, therefore the rate of discovery which initially increases quickly must reach a maximum and decline.” And this is the second misconception many have: the “bell-shaped curve”. BSC’s may be symmetric or not. A BSC may be very asymmetric…which is extremely common for individual oil well, oil fields, oil trends and even specific oil producing geographic regions. The trends Dr. H used in his analysis are still producing. In fact they represent a big % of the 80% of the US oil wells producing at stripper rates. IOW that BSC is very asymmetric and thus the 1971 inflection point does not represent the 50% mark of the ultimate recovery. So while ultimate recovery of any stat will be a function of the area under that curve the peak point of an ASYMMETRIC BSC does not represent the midpoint of the ultimate recovery of that particular stat.

    Of course those FACTS won’t prevent folks like Forbes and others from redefining aspects of such analysis in order to support the particular spin they’re trying to sell.

  2. F. Lynn Blystone on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 5:39 pm 

    And speaking of spin, Hubbert’s “peak oil” ALWAYS referred to easy to extract conventional oil and he was absolutely correct. The peak passed more than a decade ago. We are now into much more expensive, technologically relied on sources which he hesitated to predict. Almost all writers ignore this.

  3. Sissyfuss on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 7:23 pm 

    Forbes is pimping to get more of its staff on Trump’s cabinet. Forget Goldman Sucks.

  4. James boags on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 7:42 pm 

    Expect more and more b.s articles likes this to keep the sheeple at bay and investors (suckers) money in the bubble a little while longer

  5. joe on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 9:54 pm 

    http://www.moneycafe.com/charts/fed-funds-history.png

    Basically the US and world economy has been on emergency life support since 2005 when peak easy oil hit and oil price went all over the place. The cost of the EUssr is about to rise forcing the European economic south into permanent austerity and germany to enslave Europe via its benefiting from a cheaper Euro all the while passing social welfare benefits onto an ever growing and hostile muslim population.

  6. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 12:46 am 

    I heard at least half the oil
    an gas, is coming from offshore rigs.

    So that’s gotta be telling us something.

    If there is unlimited offshore oil, then it don’t
    matter. However when we drilling down
    8 bazillion feet and we are offshore also, that’s gotta
    be tellin us sumthin. That’s what Deepwater Horizon
    was doin, drilling the difficult reserves, an look
    what happened.

  7. Jan on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 4:58 am 

    The term Peak Oil has unfortunately been discredited by half wits like Patzek and many like him.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9619

    Patzek says in 2012 Saudi barely hanging on to 9/10. US produces half that.

    This one has a Saudi peak in 2011.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9223

    Anyone contradicting these know alls, would usually get abuse.

    Since these people crawled back into their lecture halls. U.S production has increased from 6 million to 9 million.

    Saudi Arabia produced 10.6 before self imposed cuts.
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-oil-output-august-falls-2016-10?r=US&IR=T

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

    With so many in the past crying wolf, when peak oil does happen on one will believe it.

  8. Scorpion on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 8:51 am 

    People who deny the existence of climate change have officially become a threat to humanity.
    Right wingers think they’re so tough with their guns and big pick up trucks.
    Thank God MIT, Caltech in Silicon Valley are all liberal! We need to start mass producing drones.
    Right wingers and their corporate overlords need to be exterminated before the planet becomes uninhabitable. If they think guns and big pick up trucks will let them win the next American Civil War, they can ask the Taliban how that worked out for them.

  9. Cloggie on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 9:03 am 

    People who deny the existence of climate change have officially become a threat to humanity.

    Officially? Must have missed that gem in Trump’s twitter feed.

    Right wingers and their corporate overlords need to be exterminated before the planet becomes uninhabitable.

    Apparently left wingers with SUVs will be left unharmed in the murderous schemes of Scorpion.

    As I said before, climate change (real or fake), is the ideal pretext for commies to demand global governance.

    If they think guns and big pick up trucks will let them win the next American Civil War, they can ask the Taliban how that worked out for them.

    You need a new script writer:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/20/asia/afghanistan-escalation-analysis/

    The Taliban is winning.

  10. onlooker on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 9:16 am 

    Yes Clog Its all fake news, a grand conspiracy to fake statistics, eyewitness accounts, readings, authoritative polls, news stories and anecdotes , climate change is all fake
    And Santa Claus will run for President haha

  11. Boat on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 9:19 am 

    Scorpion,

    The largest corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, are considered green or going green and support green programs. You can’t lump corporations together. Even a couple oil companies have wind and solar divisions. Some Republicans support wind and solar for economic reasons. The waters are becoming more muddied politically as solar and wind prices drop.

  12. Apneaman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 10:50 am 

    clog, I hear they are thinking of lining all the denier conspiracy tards up on the edge of a ditch and shooting them in the back of the neck – good fucking riddance.

    Just think of all the resources that will free up for me.

  13. Apneaman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 10:55 am 

    clog, you’re in good company.

    Why Do So Many Christians Still Deny Climate Change?

    “Many Christians have been trained to interpret sensitivity for ecological concerns as a direct threat to Christian faith. In the attempt to preserve a “Christian worldview,” the “secular” worldview of ecological concern is maintained as the enemy. Jenkins explains:”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2015/10/why-do-so-many-christians-still-deny-climate-change/

    Same for you right? Except AGW, peak oil and anything Overshoot challenge your faith in the neo 1000 year Reich.

  14. rockman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 1:24 pm 

    Racer – “I heard at least half the oil and gas, is coming from offshore rigs.” If you mean in the US: Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production accounts for 17% of total U.S. production and natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for 5% of total U.S. dry production. Globally offshore oil production (including lease condensate and hydrocarbon gas liquids) in 2015 was at the highest level since 2010, and accounted for nearly 30% of total global oil production. Offshore oil production increased in both 2014 and 2015, reversing consecutive annual declines from 2010 to 2013. Natural gas a little more difficult to estimate but about 1/3 coming from offshore.

    “That’s what Deepwater Horizon was doin, drilling the difficult reserves, an look what happened.” Sadly your implication is completely wrong. The BP well did not drill into a particular difficult subsurface conditions. Thousands of well have been drilled in the Gulf Coast Basin into much more difficult/dangerous conditions with much higher reservoir pressures then what the Macondo well encountered and ops went just fine. BP just followed a very risky procedure that the hands on the rig failed to monitor properly. In just the last 6 years the Rockman has safely drilled 8 wells in much more challenging conditions without coming close to losing control let alone having a blow out.

    The huge danger with the Macondo well wasn’t in its drilling but dealing with a blowout in that water depth.

  15. rockman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 1:42 pm 

    “The waters are becoming more muddied politically as solar and wind prices drop.” Not in Texas: the conservatives in the largest fossil fuel producing and coal burning state just love solar and wind power. Really…not sarcasm. Soon the largest city in the country to go 100% green with be in Texas: Georgetown. And not just cities services like another town bragged but every electricity consumer. And some of that energy will come from a new solar farm. With the recent price drop solar is projected to begin coming on very strong in Texas. From 2016:

    “On solar, however, Texas has been lagging. It ranked No. 10 among the states in solar power as of September. Texas doesn’t match the incentives of some states and has an abundant supply of other cheap energy, including natural gas. But prices for solar panels have fallen over 80 percent since 2009, making it competitive with fossil fuels. That’s ramped up the outlook in Texas, because there’s plenty of sun, a growing population, a huge electric load and a hyper-competitive electricity market.

    Last year, solar installations on ERCOT {the electricity czar of Texas} grew almost 50 percent. This year, solar generation could jump sixfold, according to ERCOT projections, which are based on developer agreements to connect with the grid. By 2030, solar will add 14,100 megawatts of power if proposed rules to cut emissions and haze remain in place, ERCOT estimates. That could power over 2 million homes in the summer. And if solar builds out as projected, it would account for more new capacity than wind and natural gas plants combined, ERCOT said. These projections came before last month’s federal budget deal, which extended the tax credits for renewable energy — and will help keep the momentum going.”

    And a reminder how Texas is gaining so much alt energy without large scale commercial storage systems to deal with the intermittency problem: we’re maintaining our fossil fuel fired plants.

  16. Boat on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 2:59 pm 

    Rock,

    You say Texas is maintaining it’s fossil fuel plants. I would say nat gas is still gaining while coal is collapsing.

  17. GregT on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 3:13 pm 

    Natural gas is a fossil fuel Boat.

  18. rockman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 5:33 pm 

    Boat – “I would say nat gas is still gaining while coal is collapsing.”

    Define “collapsing”. In 2015 Texas consumed 1,340 TRILLION Btu from coal. That’s almost 10% of all the coal consumed in the US and 30% more then #2 Indiana. And 5 few years ago:

    “…Texas added several coal plants, for the first time in recent memory, and produced more power than any other electricity source. The big loser to wind power was natural gas. While natural gas is abundant in Texas, less polluting than coal and cheaper than it was jut a few years ago, it is also easily replaced by the wind. The percentage of power on the grid generated from natural gas dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2010; coal, at 40 percent, slightly edged it out. Since at least 1990, natural gas had generated more electricity than coal in Texas, according to the Energy Information Administration.”

    I think some folks think I’m just teasing about the attitude of folks in Texas towards our lignite resources. It’s really very simple: with respect to feelings from much of the world regarding climate change from burning coal: f*ck you and the horse you road in on. LOL. But seriously: f*ck you. LOL Texas has a 100+ year supply of coal. And thanks to our advances in alt energy its utility has been extended. Not one Btu of coal sourced capability has been abandoned by our increased wind power. As mentioned often Texas now has the largest CO2 sequestration project on the planet. Half the burners run on lignite with the other half on NG.

    And it is that maintained coal burning capability that has allowed Texas alt energy expansion to boom (with solar now coming on strong) despite the intermittency problem. In fact twice now wind power prevented statewide blackouts when severe cold weather shut down NG fired plants: wind provided 40% of electricity demand in the state for a short period.

    Opinions may vary but that doesn’t seem like coal is “collapsing” in Texas IMHO. LOL.

  19. Truth Has A Liberal Bias on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 7:06 pm 

    Lmfao Boat doesn’t know that natural gas is a fossil fuel. Holy fuck what a retard!

  20. Boat on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 9:49 pm 

    Rock,

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/5-charts-that-show-how-coal-is-getting-killed-in-texas

    So do you disagree with the link.

  21. GregT on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 11:14 pm 

    The report in your link is speculative Boat. It also happens to be written by the IEEFA.

    From their mission statement:

    The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy and to reduce dependence on coal and other non-renewable energy resources.

    Greenwashing at it’s finest.

  22. rockman on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 11:55 pm 

    Boat – Which is exactly what I said. By sourcing more power from non-coal sources we are preserving those reserves. And as this report from the Houston Chronicle shows we are maintaining our coal fired plants as backup for peak demand (as the below report predicts for the summer months) as well as dealing with the intermittency problem with the alts. You don’t seem the grasp the critical point: Texas is becoming LESS dependent upon coal sourced electricity but is still retaining the capacity as a backup. Again read what I said: our lignite resources are not being depleted as fast as they had been. Thus we’ll have them available further into the future as needed. Add that to the fact that Texas has some of the more efficient coal burning plants since they are much newer then the national average. That’s a good thing: coal is to stay longer then it had been projected prior to the alternative sources are developed.

    “Already, less than a quarter of Texas’ coal fleet is operating early this spring, as more generators simply take their coal plants offline until the summer heat brings more demand, analysts from Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. noted.

    In March, wind added to the grid more than coal power for the first time ever for a full month. Wind contributed 21.4 percent of the grid’s overall power, compared with 12.9 percent from coal, which used to be the dominant source of the state’s electricity generation, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90 percent of the state’s electricity load.”

    See: depending when you pull the number coal isn’t doing the 29% your link offers but 13%. They don’t seem to grasp the complete dynamic of electricity in Texas.

    You don’t seem to understand that coal and wind have two different and complimentary seasons: wind in the winder and coal in the summer. And as our solar continues to boom it will eat into the summer demand for coal. And thus extending the life of our coal reserves even further into the future.

    A future where NG prices will increase. Yes: the price is close to $3/mcf today. And not that long ago they topped out at over $12/mcf. Perhaps you aren’t aware how electric rates are determine in Texas: Every time an energy source price increases the monthly electric bill goes up instantly: they call it a the “fuel adjustment”. The utility companies long ago learned how to deal with the price volatility of NG.

    If you search the statement of the city managers of Georgetown you’ll see them explain why they are willing to initially pay ABOVE the current rate for NG sourced electricity: the expectation of future higher NG prices at which time the city will be getting much lower rates from the 20 year contracts they’ve signed with wind and solar providers.

    And you don’t need to worry about our lignite producers, Consider the recent history of one of our biggest: Westmoreland Coal Company. It owns the Jewett Mine, a 35,000-acre surface mine complex located between Dallas and Houston. It currently operates four active pits. It supplies lignite under a supply contract to the adjacent two-unit Limestone Electric Generating Station owned by NRG Texas. A low-cost, base-load power plant utilizing emission control technologies, Limestone was designed and built specifically to burn lignite from Jewett.

    And financially how is this lignite miner doing these days:

    • For the year ended December 31, 2015, an increase in revenue of $9.5 million.

    • For the nine months ended September 30, 2016, an increase in revenue of $3.4 million.

    Which probably explains why their stock price increased 54% to $13.70/share from Oct 2016.

    The bottom line I keep trying to make is that thanks to Texas coal we haven’t had to wait for large scale commercial battery systems to be developed to handle the intermittency problem with the alt energy producers. And when such ECONOMICAL systems are developed Texas will be able to extend the life of our coal resource future into the future.

  23. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 5:15 am 

    clog, I hear they are thinking of lining all the denier conspiracy tards up on the edge of a ditch and shooting them in the back of the neck – good fucking riddance.

    Yeah, true Friedman-Friday, shooting in the neck was the standard Bolshevik method of killing Goyim by the millions and the Austrian wanted to prevent this fate for his people by deporting you. Never will Spielberg make films about those events. But then again it was his system:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piBtBsAQJJ0

    …and your system.

    And you of course can’t wait to repeat that scenario on North-American soil, while exercising your favorite past-time: “shooting naive Republicans”, together with your BLM-buddies and the rest of the Soros rabble.

    But I wouldn’t be that upbeat if I were you. The 20th century may have been yours, but the grand finale is now underway and in that spectacle you don’t want to be… well… you.

    https://s17.postimg.org/6wwnomfpb/worldmap.jpg

    This time WW3 will be fought on North-American soil and lead to the complete dismemberment of globalist Anglosphere, your power base, to make way for a traditionalist, anti-modern, multi-polar world, with Eurosphere and Sinosphere the leading members.

    Enjoy your own funeral.

  24. Davy on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 5:28 am 

    “Eurosphere and Sinosphere the leading members.”
    Both clearly in decay and failure nothing worth crowing about. Europe in an unworkable union in a debt crisis and growth stall. Its borders porous with so many wanting in. Europe is already socially destabilizing already with only a small amount of immigration.

    China is clearly at its end time economically with growth stalling and its environment in decline and localized failure. Its large and aging population will be increasingly difficult to support. There is nothing good about either referenced sphere that indicates them outcompeting Anglosphere arrangements.

  25. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 6:48 am 

    Both clearly in decay and failure nothing worth crowing about.

    Are you sure?

    China to grow 6.5% in 2017:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-thinktank-idUSKBN14N03G

    EU growth 1.8%:

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/european-union/gdp-annual-growth-rate

    China grows faster than Europe, but then again, babies grow faster than adults. Perhaps you should question the quality of your collapse glasses (blinders?).

    Large increase of real minimum wages in the EU:
    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/mindestloehne-in-der-eu-steigen-kraeftig-a-1136593.html
    (converted in euro)
    France……9.76
    Holland…..9.52
    Belgium…..9.28
    Germany…..8.84
    UK……….8.79

    Canada……7.64
    USA………6.84

    China…….1.78
    Russia……0.62

    There is no economic collapse in Europe. Western Europe is economically the first address again on this planet and has a clear energy vision. The only real concern with the population is that enforced immigration that fuels nationalism and at some point will explode.

  26. Antius on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 6:59 am 

    Peak oil denial and smear campaigns.

    It’s a bit like asking someone to predict a man’s year of death. After they get it wrong a few times, can you assume that the whole theory is bogus and therefore the man will live forever?

  27. Antius on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 7:03 am 

    Cloggie,

    The minimum wage gives no indication of economic success does it? For some industries it may force employers to pay more than the productivity value of the job. What then happens to that job and the industry that it is part of?

  28. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 7:13 am 

    The minimum wage gives no indication of economic success does it?

    It is indeed not the only indicator, but still a very important indicator nevertheless.

  29. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 7:21 am 

    @Antius

    Here is the alternative 100% renewable energy vision for Germany from the renowned Fraunhofer Institute:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/blueprint-for-100-renewable-energy-base-in-germany/

    (German report of 37p)

  30. Antius on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 7:49 am 

    Thanks Clog, will give it a read. I am quite busy today, so probably won’t be able to comment until tonight.

  31. Davy on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 8:55 am 

    Clog, first China’s growth figures are not accurate. Second do some research on how much credit China created in last few months. Check how many corporates bonds the EU bank purchased in the last few months. If Europe is so healthy than why does it need to do this? I think you are blinded by raw numbers. You are also going to makatiland promoting your agenda of Europe – good US – bad. Makati does his Asia – good US – bad. Nothing good going on with any of them but that is not acceptable to you or makati. You guys need winners and losers or else your agenda falls flat on its face.

  32. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 10:34 am 

    It is OK to defend your country Davy, but only if it is attacked, which I didn’t. Instead I merely responded to your remark:

    Both clearly in decay and failure nothing worth crowing about. Europe in an unworkable union in a debt crisis and growth stall. Its borders porous with so many wanting in. Europe is already socially destabilizing already with only a small amount of immigration.

    Everybody is spreading the message that we finally have overcome the long post-2008 dip and that the good times are back again. There is absolutely no economic-crisis mood in Europe. The #1 topic here is migration, like in the run-up to the US-2016 election.

  33. Antius on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 11:27 am 

    ‘Here is the alternative 100% renewable energy vision for Germany from the renowned Fraunhofer Institute:’

    I cannot read German, but here are my thoughts:

    I am not a complete expert on renewable energy systems. But I would point out the following:
    1. Power to gas is an inefficient means of storing electricity. Whilst there have been speculations about the use of reversible solid oxide fuel cells, real systems available today would lose at least 2/3rds of total electric power through: Losses in electrolysis (20-40%); Compression of hydrogen (10%); Energy consumed in Sabatier reactor (20%); Compression of methane into a storable form (5%?); efficiency losses from combined cycle gas turbine (40-50%). Multiply all the efficiencies and you get 33%. Also, this means of storage is likely to be capital intensive. In addition to electrolysis cells, you need a chemical reactor, a source of piped CO2, some big intercooled compressors and a combined cycle gas turbine plant. There are other energy storage solutions that may have substantially better economics.
    2. Solar PV is popular because it is an elegant, low impact system (at point of use) that is suitable for small scale ownership and works with diffuse sunlight. However, close to settlements there are other solutions that have better EROI. For individual dwellings, solar heating systems are arguably a more economical way of using roof space and directly offset natural gas used for space heating and water heating. Whilst electricity can be transmitted long distances, heat must be generated close to where it is used. If thermal stores can be built in urban areas, then low temperature solar thermal is an efficient means of gathering winter heat. For bulk power generation, concentrated solar thermal has some significant advantages over PV. It has better EROI which translates into lower cost and most importantly, concentrated solar thermal produces very high temperature heat, which can be stored interseasonally in thermal masses at low cost. This negates the need for having to store electricity. With the development of S-CO2 power conversion cycles, heat at 700C can be converted to electricity at an efficiency of 50%. On this basis, storage can be provided economically with only slight losses.
    3. Biomass suffers from low EROI because of its critically low power density. However, it can be the precursor to an energy dense, portable fuel. It should be prioritised for this application. There is potential to upgrade biomass into high quality liquid fuels using a combination of high quality stored solar heat and hydrogen released from electrolysis. This can then smoothen interannual power fluctuations and provides a useful substitute transport fuel.
    4. Combustion products are about as harmful to human health as the release products of a nuclear meltdown and power stations and cars pump them out all of the time, not just in accidents. If you are worried about meltdowns, you should be even more worried about combustion products. They cause hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year in Europe. Try to look for solutions that do not involve combustion, otherwise there really is no point to the nuclear phase-out.
    5. Wind power has much lower capacity factor over central Europe than for coastal regions like UK and Netherlands. Given that solar thermal is more power dense and can be far more efficiently stored, I would prioritise this energy source and limit wind power to coastal regions where it gets the best economy.

  34. Antius on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 11:34 am 

    Some food for thought. It take a hell of a lot of nuclear meltdowns to kill as many people as fossil fuel air pollution kills in one year.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/pollution-child-death/en/

  35. Davy on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 11:57 am 

    “Everybody is spreading the message that we finally have overcome the long post-2008 dip and that the good times are back again. There is absolutely no economic-crisis mood in Europe. The #1 topic here is migration, like in the run-up to the US-2016 election.”
    Clog, I follow finance and economics closely and there are more pressing economic issues with Europe than the US. The US is in the process of raising rates something Europe would be hard pressed to do. The two economic regions have different issues so it is hard to compare but your Europe is not economically healthy. There are no economic regions that are now healthy. So when I read your Euro-praise I have to chime in with BS. This is not about defending my country it is about calling out lame agenda.

  36. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 12:40 pm 

    @Antius

    Ad-1: The study refers to a single study regarding power-to-methane:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610216310906
    (full pdf download from this link); assumptions:

    Efficiency power-to-gas:
    2015: 49-54 %
    2020: 58-70 %
    2030: 68-75 %
    2050: 77-84 %

    (much better than your 80%) rather than PV (efficiency ca. 15%). Provided of course you have seasonal storage available, which until now only works on a large scale, not private scale. Although this could rapidly change with the rise of molten salts technology:
    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/merits-seasonal-heat-storage-breakthrough/

    Ad-3: Biomass indeed has a low attractiveness for direct fuel harvest. However, most biomass comes as by-product from food production.

    Ad-4: there is no discussion about choice between fossil or nuclear. Fossil needs to go.

    Ad-5: I’m glad that you admit that there is “much lower” potential for onshore than offshore 😉 Agree with your assessment. But the largest source of low grade heat you don’t mention: geothermal. That’s what the Dutch government has opted for now that the Groningen gas field is running on empty, c.q. causes buildings to have cracks.

  37. Cloggie on Mon, 6th Mar 2017 12:47 pm 

    @Antius

    I should not have used “smaller than” and “larger then” symbols in my text; now “Ad-2” went missing.

    So after 2050: 77-84% and before Ad-3, insert this:

    (much better than your smaller than 33%)

    Ad-2: visited Munich-Germany Intersolar twice in the recent years:

    https://www.intersolar.de/en/home.html

    Was surprised that in this giant exhibition there were hardly any participants with solar collectors [*]. I do agree that if you want to save fossil fuel it makes more sense to use your roof m2 for thermal (efficiency larger than 80%) rather than PV (efficiency ca. 15%). Provided of course you have seasonal storage available, which until now only works on a large scale, not private scale. Although this could rapidly change with the rise of molten salts technology:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/merits-seasonal-heat-storage-breakthrough/

    [*] the other thing that struck me was that there were mostly German and Chinese “exhibitionists”; the rest not so much.

  38. Cloggie on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 4:05 am 

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

    In 2013 the round-trip efficiency of power-to-gas-storage was well below 50%, with the hydrogen path being able to reach an maximum efficiency of ~ 43% and methane of ~ 39% by using combined-cycle powerplants. If cogeneration plants are used that produce both electricity and heat, efficiency can be above 60%, but is still less than pumped hydro or battery storage. However, there is potential to increase efficiency of power-to-gas storage. In 2015 a study published in Energy and Environmental Science found that by using reversible solid oxide electrochemical cells and recycling waste heat in the storage process a round-trip efficiency electricity to electricity of more than 70% can be reached at low cost.

  39. Cloggie on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 5:22 am 

    Solution to the storage problem and at the same time silence those who insist that renewable energy can’t exist without fossil… by producing gas and liquids from renewable electricity; power-to-gas.

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

  40. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 5:53 am 

    Clog, I am not insisting renewable energy can’t exist without fossil fuels. I am saying it can’t exist without fossil fuels at the global level. It may work in a regional level like your northern Europe. Globalism will not survive without fossil fuels. Renewables may extend the life of the status quo globalism but not save it from certain failure.

    The catch for you is can you say your northern Europe can survive the end of the status quo and globalism? It then must make it on renewables without fossil fuels. That is two severe test ahead for you. You also need to transform your broken union and defend yourselves from many geopolitical dangers. That is a tall order.

    First I see the bar very high for you to go all renewables. You have a long way to go with an unhealthy economy in an unhealthy global economy. Let’s say you manage to get significantly renewable based then you then must survive a global breakdown and still maintain your complexity that is likely only achievable from a globalized world. An end of a globalized world is not a given but it is a valid projections considering the problems at hand. Your many resources are obtained from aboard that allow your high standard of living. Your export markets that keep your economies of scale humming will be impacted. The other issue is scale of what you need to do in the time frame needed. You have too much to do with little time to do it. You have an unhealthy economy sandwiched between failing regions.

    I see a transformation occurring in Europe that will keep you viable in the coming global breakup but only viable for a time. The bar is too high for a transition in my mind. I am still listening to you and hope it happens. I wish the world could drop its population and decarbonize but I don’t see anything positive on the horizon. Your renewable revolution is one of those positive but not the kind that will save the world. You are just a delusional techno optimist. You are like an angle with iron wings. Your vision is great but it does not fit a reality of a global civilization at limits and suffering the destructive change of growth hitting limits in diminishing returns. Technology is not the answer and is mostly the problem. You are basing our salvation on technology and that is your downfall. You are projecting an adequate economy to power your dream of a northern European renewable civilization. Too many lose ends and too much fictional convergence of the right stuff.

  41. Antius on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 6:44 am 

    Whole system EROI is likely to be poor for a renewables only Europe. Not only is the primary energy system low EROI compared to fossil, hydro and nuclear, but the distribution and storage systems have high embedded energy and losses directly cut into EROI.

    What this means in practical terms is that whole system cost will be high and these systems will be difficult o construct in a fossil constrained world. The upkeep costs will also be expensive, as they require direct subtraction from a low EROI energy source in renewables only scenario.

    In terms of whole system EROI, solar thermal electricity and direct heat beat all other renewable sources except hydro. This is where priorities should be focused. Even in a tepid climate like the UK, solar thermal electricity could have an effective power density of 12W/m2. That’s a lot better than wind and with thermal storage can provide base load with relatively little energy losses. It is still a much poorer EROI than a nuclear reactor.

  42. Antius on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 6:51 am 

    ‘In 2013 the round-trip efficiency of power-to-gas-storage was well below 50%, with the hydrogen path being able to reach an maximum efficiency of ~ 43% and methane of ~ 39% by using combined-cycle powerplants. If cogeneration plants are used that produce both electricity and heat, efficiency can be above 60%, but is still less than pumped hydro or battery storage. However, there is potential to increase efficiency of power-to-gas storage. In 2015 a study published in Energy and Environmental Science found that by using reversible solid oxide electrochemical cells and recycling waste heat in the storage process a round-trip efficiency electricity to electricity of more than 70% can be reached at low cost.’

    I don’t think this is as simple as it is made out to be. If we are interested in producing a power system, we look at the options that provide the lowest net cost of power. That may or may not be the most energy efficient option. It is why real electrolysis units have efficiency of 60-70%, rather than the 90% that might be possible with high temperature electrolysis units. Power at any cost, is worth nothing. The more expensive it is, the less we can afford and the poorer we will be.

  43. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 7:06 am 

    “Power at any cost, is worth nothing. The more expensive it is, the less we can afford and the poorer we will be.”

    Sound wisdom Antius! That statement is such a simple statement but one very complicated for rational humans to understand. Sometimes it is the most basic of knowledge that are the most complex due to the degree of corruption that occurs from within a process of knowledge processing. This is because of the corruption of knowledge from human narratives of agendas and fictions. Humans are unbalanced with the tensions of the rational and emotions. We live in a local world but fantasize at the global and galactic. We are hopelessly lost in such a world so we grasp at untested meaning and emotional crutches. This is subtle and elastic. It is subtle because this condition can be disguised by science and history. It is elastic because it can be embellished as long as the basis is sound. That embellishment can then be made a basis and on and on.

  44. Cloggie on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 8:08 am 

    Even in a tepid climate like the UK, solar thermal electricity could have an effective power density of 12W/m2.

    ????

    Solar constant in space is ca 1300 Watt/m2
    Sahara 12:00 something like 1000 Watt/m2

    Britain will do a lot better than 12 W/m2:

    http://www.how-green-is.co.uk/uploaded_files/uksolar_radiation_map1.gif

    Kent: on average 10 MJ/m2 per day or 116 W/m2

    Ten times better than you assume.

    Ever thought of combining PV and thermal? The picture at the bottom is in Britain:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/hybrid-solar/

    You can use the black solar panel as a thermal absorber and harvest both electricity and heat. Double edged sword.

  45. Antius on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 8:42 am 

    ‘Kent: on average 10 MJ/m2 per day or 116 W/m2

    Ten times better than you assume.

    Ever thought of combining PV and thermal? The picture at the bottom is in Britain:’

    116W/m2. But:

    Only 50% of power delivered as direct sunlight in cloudy UK (for most of Europe it will be greater);

    Solar collectors occupy about 50% of plant footprint (basically because they need to track the sun when not directly overhead and must avoid self-shadowing;

    Collector efficiency 90%, say:

    Storage efficiency 90%

    Conversion efficient (heat to electricity) = up to 50%, using S-CO2.

    Total = 11.75W/m2. About 10% efficient – but importantly, 10% efficient at producing dispatchable power. This, the relatively high power density (nearly 10 times greater than wind) and the much superior economics of thermal storage of direct heat in bulk materials, is why I think solar thermal should dominate renewable energy research budgets.

    The problem I see with PV (as it stands) is the poor EROI, which will likely translate in high costs when fossil fuel energy suffers genuine shortages and intermittency, which introduces other system costs. Attempting to use PV in conjunction with solar thermal will rob the thermal plant of market share, which will push up its unit costs, as its operating and capital repayment costs must be met whether it is generating or not. It is most sensible to build these plants at 100’s MW scales and try to achieve the highest capacity factor on the thermal plant possible – as it will tend to dominate capital costs. The store itself can be cheap and whilst the collectors are not cheap, their assembly and operating costs will at least be lower if we adopt economy of scale. So I would anticipate that an ideal solar thermal plant would be at least a few km in diameter.

  46. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 9:41 am 

    “is why I think solar thermal should dominate renewable energy research budgets.”
    I agree for grid level applications but for the individual end user application PV with small scale applications for lights and basics wins hands down. This is all about attitudes and behaviors. If you are a techno optimist and look towards an energy transition you are going to put most of your effort into grid level applications. These are large scale high investment efforts that are driven by market based capitalism. They primarily focus on a return to investors and do not necessarily focus on society as a whole. These grid level investments in many cases will be stranded assets when and if the grid goes unstable. End user applications on a small scale with limited application reach is hands down our best cost benefit and the best bang for our buck for survival in a collapsing modernism.

    The problem is the social narrative is based on techno optimism and a continuation of the status quo in a manifest destiny of long term progress. Techno optimist ultimately consider space colonization especially in earth orbit as the future. This is a stretch of the imagination considering we can’t even succeed with sustainable development goals. They talk about a new green world of low carbon but don’t say how this will be paid for. “Failure is not an option” attitudes point to failure when reality is breached with fantasy.

    Instead of these techno fancies we should be designing lifeboats for a continuation of civilization (LITE) in a collapse paradigm. This will allow us to adjust downwards as globalism collapses and along with it economic output. This includes adaptation to the destabilization of our planetary system with climate and ecosystem decline and localized failure. We need realistic goals based on a collapse process not expensive complex techno optimistic goals of continued progress when the reality is globalism is self-destructing as we speak.

    That said since the world at the macro level where leadership and capital allocation is concerned is a lost cause any diversification of energy assets away from fossil fuels is a must. Any vital renewable investments must be promoted and things like skyscrapers and new airports should be avoided. Since our civilization trajectory is overshoot and catastrophic collapse because of poor investments in arrangements with no future grid level renewable investments will ultimately fail. End user ones will continue longer and are the best investments for survival post collapse. We need the lifeboat option to remain in the policy debate. At some point the debate will change because of clear failure of the industrial and modern focus on whole grid energy transitions to a dominant renewable based system. This whole grid transition is likely unattainable for many reasons. Most do not relate to technology. They relate to poor decisions and policy formulation.

  47. Cloggie on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 9:44 am 

    Makes no sense to convert low-grade heat in electricity; should be used for space heating only, including (district) seasonal storage. In that case 20 m2 collector will provide you with 2000 Watt continuously, or 4000 Watt in the dark months, which should be sufficient for a household.

    No real need for collector research funds, as the technology already matured. What is needed is seasonal heat storage research.

    The problem I see with PV (as it stands) is the poor EROI, which will likely translate in high costs when fossil fuel energy suffers genuine shortages and intermittency

    I have 6 panels which provide me with 1500 kwh/year which is precisely sufficient, with all appliances optimized for energy efficiency. I costed me 3000,- all in, including montage, converter, cables, etc. Payback time for current electricity prices (23 euro cent/kwh) is 9 years. After that at least 16 years “free electricity”. If they abolish feed-in tariffs with 100% compensation (as they intend to do in a couple of years), the financial picture deteriorates. Hopefully storage will be much cheaper by then (probably will).

  48. Antius on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 10:06 am 

    ‘I agree for grid level applications but for the individual end user application PV with small scale applications for lights and basics wins hands down. This is all about attitudes and behaviors. If you are a techno optimist and look towards an energy transition you are going to put most of your effort into grid level applications. These are large scale high investment efforts that are driven by market based capitalism. They primarily focus on a return to investors and do not necessarily focus on society as a whole. These grid level investments in many cases will be stranded assets when and if the grid goes unstable. End user applications on a small scale with limited application reach is hands down our best cost benefit and the best bang for our buck for survival in a collapsing modernism.’

    Agreed. But bare in mind that there is no possibility of manufacturing solar panels if large scale energy systems collapse. These are high tech pieces of kit that require a lot of industrial infrastructure.

    In terms of planning for a breakdown of society, I think you are basically talking biomass plus whatever you can source from residual fossil.

  49. Antius on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 10:08 am 

    ‘Makes no sense to convert low-grade heat in electricity’

    Agreed. But I am talking about concentrated solar power here, using either reflective dishes, troughs or power towers. This can achieve very high temperatures, even in northern Europe if the sun is shining.

  50. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 11:27 am 

    “I think you are basically talking biomass plus whatever you can source from residual fossil.”

    And a smaller population. And a whole lot less “modern”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *