Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
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EstulinAside from the Irak quagmire, energy problems continue to dominate Bilderberger discussions. Oil and natural gas are finite, non-renewable resources. That’s because once used up it cannot be replenished. As the world turns, and as oil and natural gas supplies dwindle while demand soars dramatically, especially with Indian and Chinese booming economies who want all the trinkets and privileges of an American way of life, we, as the Planet, have crossed the midpoint of oil production and discovery. From now on, the only sure thing is that supply will continue to diminish and prices will continue to increase. In these conditions world conflict is a physical certainty. End of oil means end of world’s financial system, something which has already been acknowledged by Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, two full time members of the inner circle. Goldman Sachs oil report, [another full time member of the Bilderberger elite] published on March 30, 2005 increased the oil price range for the year 2005-6 from $55-$80 per barrel to $55-$105. During 2006 meeting, Bilderbergers have confirmed that their short range price estimate for oil for the 2007-08 continues to hover around US$105-150/barrel. No wonder Jose Barroso, President of the European Commission, announced several months ago during the unveiling of the new European energy policy that the time has come for a “post-industrial age.” To bring the world into the post industrial age, you first need to destroy the world´s economic base and create another Great Depression. When people are poor, they don´t spend money, they don´t travel, and they don´t consume.
When people bring up alternative energy sources I cite the usual - turbines and PV panels require petroleum to produce, they currently provide almost no energy in the big picture (1%? 5%?), and again we're not producing them at a rate that will enable them to pick up the slack lost by petroleum following PO.
You are missing an important point. The electrification of the transport system is not possible. Why? Because electricity can not be stored easily and in the quantity necessary to run our society. There are no batteries that do not contain dangerous rare materials. They deteriorate quickly. I only posited hydrogen as a possible storage device for an a sustainable electric transport system. But it will not arrive in time.mkwin wrote:The problem, as Pstarr says, is a liquid fuel problem not an energy problem. The only solution is the electrification of our transport system. i.e. electric car/vans/trains and hybrid trucks as hydrogen might never be commercially viable.
It would have been difficult at best to create a sustainable low carbon energy system in a pre-peak world. What makes you think it will be possible in a postpeak one?mkwin wrote:So to answer your point, we can build a sustainable low carbon energy system the problem is it will be difficult to do in a post-peak world. While the optimists believe we are in for economic depressions but will get though the other side the doomers believe we are in for a break down of society and the mass die-off of 4 billion people.
Petroleum is also necessary mine, smelt, and mill the ball-bearing steel, maintain the wind mill, transport and feed the wind-mill workers, etc. etc. etc.Veritas wrote:I was under the impression you need petroleum to lubricate the ball bearings of wind mills, and that petrochemical products are necessary to create photvoltaic cells... is that not accurate?
Veritas wrote:I guess what I wonder is how much of our current energy demand is completely unnecessary and could be easily cut back just by changing certain practices (i.e. using solid state lighting, not leaving computers/televisions/lights on when not in use, using lighter more fuel-efficient vehicles, better public transit, etc etc etc). If we "tightened our belts" (without radically altering our way of life), how much would energy demand fall ?
90%? did you pull that number out of a hat? This country actually did it's best at conservation in the 1980's after the oil crisis in 1973 and 1979. We have the technology but the society and infrastructure are wrong. We can not live without just-in-time supply and the constant movement of everything we need to live. There is no storage anymore. There is no local production of food, parts, sub-assemblies, materials, and other inventories.Veritas wrote:It strikes me that peak oil itself is meaningless without the context of demand. If we somehow cut our energy needs by 90%, suddenly having maxed oil and gas production today means a lot less than it used to, and we can continue as usual for centuries into the future.
The problem is storageVeritas wrote:The main problem with renewables/alternatives I see is simply the lack of capacity - it doesn't seem reasonable to expect to meet CURRENT demand with solar/wind/bio/tidal.
Yes but that Y amount of energy is our retail economy which makes up 75% of the entire economy Without an economy you have no jobs and depression. Then there is no tax-base to fix the system.Veritas wrote:But if renewables provide X amount of energy, and we change our behaviour to only require X amount of energy, then we have a sustainable energy system don't we?
yes.Veritas wrote:THe problem however may be that the global economy is based on cheap abundant energy, and in the absence of either cheapness or abundance the system will simply collapse. All the conservation efforts in the world won't mitigate the fatal flaw. I think here of suburbs and the logic of mass production, will fuel efficient biodiesel cars enable suburbia to continue? or shipping potatoes from Mexico to Canada? Or is this simply impossible to continue in an era of expensive and/or scarce petroleum?
pstarr wrote:You are missing an important point. The electrification of the transport system is not possible. Why? Because electricity can not be stored easily and in the quantity necessary to run our society. There are no batteries that do not contain dangerous rare materials. They deteriorate quickly. I only posited hydrogen as a possible storage device for an a sustainable electric transport system. But it will not arrive in time.mkwin wrote:The problem, as Pstarr says, is a liquid fuel problem not an energy problem. The only solution is the electrification of our transport system. i.e. electric car/vans/trains and hybrid trucks as hydrogen might never be commercially viable.It would have been difficult at best to create a sustainable low carbon energy system in a pre-peak world. What makes you think it will be possible in a postpeak one?mkwin wrote:So to answer your point, we can build a sustainable low carbon energy system the problem is it will be difficult to do in a post-peak world. While the optimists believe we are in for economic depressions but will get though the other side the doomers believe we are in for a break down of society and the mass die-off of 4 billion people.
Veritas wrote:I was under the impression you need petroleum to lubricate the ball bearings of wind mills, and that petrochemical products are necessary to create photvoltaic cells... is that not accurate?
Electric grid storage is rare primarily as pumped water I believe. I do not have links but I know lead acid would be prohibitively expensive and short-lived.mkwin wrote:I know nothing about batteries so I can't really comment on the components and the chemicals needed to produce them or their availability. Do you have a link to this information?
Promising but appears to be a solution in isolation. Even if the technology were invested and developed you still have all the other EV weak points: overloaded underfunded electric transmission grid and and storage.mkwin wrote:In terms of car efficiency, one of the most promising technologies is the electric wheel. Check this bad boy out: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2219
600 bhp, 0-60 in 4.5 secs, 240 kmh and up to 80 mpg.
How can the development of the alternative infrastructure ever be "economical relative to the alternatives" when the alternative must be developed under the petroleum regime?mkwin wrote:Building a sustainable energy system is not difficult pre-peak, it's simply uneconomical in the case of renewables and nuclear has fallen out of political favor. If we wanted we could start building one tomorrow – but in the wonderful ‘free-market’ it’s not going to happen until they become economical relative to the alternatives and that point is not far away.
Uranium supply is not a "technicality" and is not the only argument. There are lots of other arguments against nuclear, eroei, security, nimbyism, time-lag, etc. Breeder reactors are always just around the corner. I would not depend on them. Perpetual energy system? Other than thermodynamics and reality there are other impediments to this techtopian dream: an entire investment, industrial, economic world paradigm built on petroleum which is in decline.mkwin wrote:Nuclear and renewables could take up the slack from peak oil and gas. The common argument against Nuclear is uranium supplies see here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2219 but it really is a technicality. If we have to pay 7 cents a kWh to ensure we have a constant supply of electricity, so be it. The cost would fall as additional breeder reactors start to create fuel. So a couple of decades down the line you have a constantly increasing supply of fuel and a perpetual energy system, which can be phased out with wind, solar, clean coal and eventually fusion – while gas and oil are phased out.
Veritas wrote:Suppose we could cut our energy demand across the board by 50%. Could we then bring enough renewable fuels online to sustain our way of life?
Because most people don't grasp that solar panels, or wind generators or ethanol aren't a magic bullet unless they represent a self-perpetuating system. Oil was nicely self perpetuating, at least for a good long time - you used oil based equipment to get oil out of the ground in a nice ration of energy returned over energy invested (EROEI) of 100-1. But we don't have the infrastructure, or the grid system, or the renewables, or the tools, or in some cases the technology to make things like solar panels or wind generators entirely out of renewables. They take fossil fuels at 20-50 different spots along the ride. When you add up all the fossil fuels involved, the EROEI of most renewables is somewhere between 1 to 1 and 20-1, probably on the low side for most of them. That means that even to match our current energy needs, we'd need 5 times as much power generated from wind as coal and 50 times as much generated from solar as natural gas. Do you begin to grasp the scale of the problem?
And these alternative energies aren't a permanent solution - it is true that a solar panel might last 20-30 years. It is also true that they might not, and that the batteries certainly won't. That grid intertie that keeps you from having batteries - that uses lots of fossil fuels quite regularly and needs quite a lot of regular maintenence and other energy inputs. And even if your windmill lasts you two decades, unless we can make them again with renewables, that means that we're just sticking the problem on our kids.
That is, let's say we do a massive build out of windmills and solar panels, enough to keep our whole society going (never mind that we could never fund it or engineer it). We use up a huge amount of our remaining fossil reserves to keep everyone comfy and in their cars, and we go into massive debt to do it. Well, five years from now, all the solar panels need new batteries. But we don't have any manufacturing plants that make batteries from solar panels. So we need to do it again, with fossil fuels, plus fix the solar panels that got broken and replace a few parts on the windmill. And all the metal, and the chemicals and the little pieces need to be made, mined, manufactured...with fossil fuels. And then five years later we have to do it again, and then a decade after that we have to do it on an even bigger scale - to replace all the worn out windmills and solar panels. And as we go along, supply constraints are increasing, and prices of fossil energies are rising. Capital costs go up, investment costs go up, and remember, since energy costs are way up, there may not be as much money around to invest.
Where is the energy and the money for all these fossil inputs going to come from in our nice, "renewable" society? In order to keep things going on renewables, we'd have to vastly *expand* our existing infrastructure - not only would we have to make enough windmills to keep the grid going, but also to run the electric cars, to power the mining equipment, to make bioplastics, and smelt aluminum, to manufacture titanium parts - all things that were done comparatively efficiently with oil and gas (because they are heat intensive) now must be done much less efficiently by electricity. So we'd have to build enough windmills not just to power things as they are, but to produce 3 times as much electricity - and rebuild the grid. This would costs trillions of dollars, tons of oil and natural gas...and in a few years, we'd have to do again.
Whenever I bring this up from people looking for techno solutions, they all tell me that eventually we'll be able to make things from renewables, of course. Hmmm...of course. That is, we're betting our kids lives on the hope that at some point renewables will become self-perpetuating, even though we have no idea how that will happen, that would require major, multiple large scale technical breakthroughs in many cases that might or might not happen, AND, we're not willing to do it now, when we have energy to burn, lots of money and no crisis - instead, we're going to bet the farm (and lives) on the fact that we'll be able to do this 20 or 30 years into a depletion crisis with much less money, much less oil, much less availability in a society that we simply don't know the shape of. That is, we're going to stick the next generation with the problem, and hope it isn't too serious. But if we can't do it now, when we have lots of energy and lots of money and all the time in the world, the chances are excellent we won't be able to do it.
pstarr wrote:Uranium supply is not a "technicality" and is not the only argument. There are lots of other arguments against nuclear, eroei, security, nimbyism, time-lag, etc. Breeder reactors are always just around the corner. I would not depend on them. Perpetual energy system? Other than thermodynamics and reality there are other impediments to this techtopian dream: an entire investment, industrial, economic world paradigm built on petroleum which is in decline.
I don't want to be naiive, nor do I want to be unduly pessimistic. I'm willing to accept that we're screwed - IF that's the case. However I'm wondering if the combination here of renewable/alternative energy and conservation couldn't paint a far less bleak future.
Sounds like while it MIGHT address the energy issue itself, it's problematic and maybe even incompatible with economies predicated on non-stop growth and cheap, abundant energy to fuel that growth.
Veritas wrote:I'm not an expert in metallurgy but tell me again why it is we won't be able to make things like windmills without oil... pretty sure the greeks were smelting bronze a few thousand years ago, and I don't think they were doing it with canisters of gasoline?
First, that's a press release and not a reality. Then do the math. 10% of the electricity needs of 2,600 customers for $2.5 million. That's $10,000 per household or $2 trillion for storage for electric current needs. Add electric vehicle load which I assume is many times household use and you are in the 10's of $trillions. Now build the transmission and generation capacity. 10's more $trillions.mkwin wrote:pstarr wrote:Uranium supply is not a "technicality" and is not the only argument. There are lots of other arguments against nuclear, eroei, security, nimbyism, time-lag, etc. Breeder reactors are always just around the corner. I would not depend on them. Perpetual energy system? Other than thermodynamics and reality there are other impediments to this techtopian dream: an entire investment, industrial, economic world paradigm built on petroleum which is in decline.
Firstly - renewable intermittency is being solved: - http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/e ... tery_N.htm
Not peak battery. But battery issues: battery life, capacity, lead-acid mean that batteries have never been used for municipal electric generations storage. Not likely to change.mkwin wrote:Secondly, I’m a regular reader of TOD and have never seen a peak-battery argument made. Surely the materials could simply be recycled and reprocessed?
Did I say insurmountable? Do you see any nuclear facilities under construction?mkwin wrote:On Nuclear, read here http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2323 and here http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2355 for a contrasting view which thoroughly answers most of your points. EROEI with nuclear are you kidding me??? Average oil EROEI is what 5 to 1 now? That’s less than wind and many times less than any conceivable nuclear system. Designs for breeder reactors exist and are doable now. The reason they haven't been commissioned is simple, they are uneconomical with the historic collapse in the uranium price. Thorium is also very abundant and can be used for fuel in slightly more expensive reactors but it hasn't happened yet because uranium is so abundant. However, from a technical point of view, they are available now. NIMBYism - In a post-peak world this won't be a problem. Lead in times are primarily a function of NIMBYism. Scalability yes, issue here. An insurmountable problem - I don't think so.
reasonable transition plan except for the natural gas. Unless we can really get it together to build LNG plants here and LNG production facilities overseas I would not expect NG to contribute to liquid-fuel mitigation. The U.S.'s major importer Alberta Canada just announced it's reserves are in decline.mkwin wrote:First, conservation and energy efficiency. "Negawatts" are the cheapest and most underexploited resource we have;
Second, renewable energies, starting with wind. They are proven technologies, are scalable and wind is already competitive, price wise;
Third, nuclear. It’s the least bad way to provide the base load capacity we'll need in the foreseeable future;
Fourth, gas-fired plants. Gas is less polluting than coal, gas turbines are very flexible to use. Such plants will probably be needed (in places that do not have sufficient hydro) to manage the permanent adjustment of supply to demand that electricity requires;
last, coal should be dismantled as quickly as possible from its current high levels of use - and new construction should be stopped.
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