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THE Alternative Energy (general) Thread pt 3(merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Zanstel » Tue 09 Dec 2014, 14:54:41

ralfy wrote:The world has been doing this because of peak oil, not because solar energy is a "solution."

The correct (and short) answer is "renewable is cheaper".

More expensive fossil fuel makes renewable more attractive.
More cheap renewable energy makes more attractive.
Account and make pay producers for CO2 released into atmosphere and pay for other enviroment impacts make renewable more attractive.

All it happend at same time, not in all places, not in same order, but it is enough to make renewable more attractive in a lot of places.
The most expensive fossil projects are displaced for renewable ones.

Fossil prices could be volatile, and CO2 are political, but renewable advancements are clear and it doesn't look to change.
So, although in this moment (the cross point from fossil to renewable) this variables (CO2 and oil/gas prices) has great influence, it will dissipate with time.

Other limit is the need of renewable energy (with the exception of hydropower and, perhaps, solar with termal storage), of other ways to store energy. Now, batteries are too expensive to be competitive as a couple solar/wind+batteries vs fossil fuel centralized energy.

So, for now, the percentage of renewable energy is limited by not need this costly storage.

But it seems that battery prices also will drop in time by mass production because electric vehicles.
Cheap and scalable energy storage is the key for all renewable electricity at mass scale.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Tue 09 Dec 2014, 20:05:22

dashster wrote: I don't think fear of Peak Oil or fear of oil shortages is driving solar or wind energy. It is from the global warming, air pollution side of things.


I think what is driving solar and wind is the money to be made, especially with the tax credits and subsidies. In fact, uncertainty about those subsidies is the leading factor in investment lag.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 09 Dec 2014, 20:36:44

Zanstel wrote:
ralfy wrote:The world has been doing this because of peak oil, not because solar energy is a "solution."

The correct (and short) answer is "renewable is cheaper".

More expensive fossil fuel makes renewable more attractive.
More cheap renewable energy makes more attractive.
Account and make pay producers for CO2 released into atmosphere and pay for other enviroment impacts make renewable more attractive.

All it happend at same time, not in all places, not in same order, but it is enough to make renewable more attractive in a lot of places.
The most expensive fossil projects are displaced for renewable ones.

Fossil prices could be volatile, and CO2 are political, but renewable advancements are clear and it doesn't look to change.
So, although in this moment (the cross point from fossil to renewable) this variables (CO2 and oil/gas prices) has great influence, it will dissipate with time.

Other limit is the need of renewable energy (with the exception of hydropower and, perhaps, solar with termal storage), of other ways to store energy. Now, batteries are too expensive to be competitive as a couple solar/wind+batteries vs fossil fuel centralized energy.

So, for now, the percentage of renewable energy is limited by not need this costly storage.

But it seems that battery prices also will drop in time by mass production because electric vehicles.
Cheap and scalable energy storage is the key for all renewable electricity at mass scale.


When something looks "more attractive," then that's not necessarily the same as being cheaper. That's because energy returns and even energy quantity for RE are not very high. They have become attractive because energy returns for oil have been going down:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3786

Unfortunately, the global economy requires higher energy returns and energy quantity, especially energy sources that can provide petrochemicals.

For economic growth, we will need the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia in new oil every seven years. To ensure that plus deal with low energy returns from unconventional production, we will need more. To meet the demands of a growing global middle class:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22956470

Some argue that this can be achieved using all energy sources (at maximum depletion rates for oil and gas) after several decades, but that will not be good enough if production peaks earlier:

http://www.businessinsider.com/131-year ... il-2010-11
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Wed 10 Dec 2014, 04:47:33

According to Tad Patzek (16:00) we use 100 times more energy than we need to live.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Zanstel » Wed 10 Dec 2014, 08:46:08

ralfy wrote:When something looks "more attractive," then that's not necessarily the same as being cheaper.

Normally, it is. Specially if it is a commodity, not a consumption good. Because you don't want oil as is. You want move your car, heat your house, power a machinery, etc.
Of course "cheaper" is a tough thing. Because the prices is always relative, and the comparison of prices needs to account the total life of the depreciation of the infrastructure. Only be real known AFTER the depreciation, not as you buy the renewable.
It's a gamble over the future prices of energy.

ralfy wrote: That's because energy returns and even energy quantity for RE are not very high. They have become attractive because energy returns for oil have been going down:

EROI is not constant. You cannot use the EROI calculated at 2008 (as your link) with today renewable.
Not only oil has raise. The costs down of renewable are clear too.
Costs down meens cheaper ways to build it. Means less energy, so better EROI.
While renewable progress, costs go down and EROI goes ups.

For economic growth, we will need the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia in new oil every seven years. To ensure that plus deal with low energy returns from unconventional production, we will need more. To meet the demands of a growing global middle class:

Economic numbers could be confusing. With the same consumption, numbers could reflect "growth" only using hedonic pricing. Even could reflect "numeric growth" only... known as inflation.

Real growth, specially on basic good, are more clear. But basic goods are "necessity" and normally limited per capita. I don't see any need of growth on per capita consumption. So, if your population has no growth, the consumption should be limited.
Of course, companies needs profits. But "numeric growth" a.k.a inflation is enough to avoid bankruptcy.
So stagnant money depreciates and stimulate investment on companies that do always the "same" thing.
Meet the same needs, although adapted to the current "flavor".
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby ralfy » Wed 10 Dec 2014, 21:59:13

Zanstel wrote:Normally, it is. Specially if it is a commodity, not a consumption good. Because you don't want oil as is. You want move your car, heat your house, power a machinery, etc.


Oil is "attractive" because it is used not only to move cars, heat houses, or power machinery. It's also used to make cars, construction materials for houses, and machinery.

Of course "cheaper" is a tough thing. Because the prices is always relative, and the comparison of prices needs to account the total life of the depreciation of the infrastructure. Only be real known AFTER the depreciation, not as you buy the renewable.
It's a gamble over the future prices of energy.


FWIW, global oil consumption kept rising even with a tripling of oil prices.


EROI is not constant. You cannot use the EROI calculated at 2008 (as your link) with today renewable.



EROI for RE may go up because of technofixes, but it can go down as other factors come into play, as well as shortages for materials needed to make RE components. That includes oil.

Not only oil has raise. The costs down of renewable are clear too.
Costs down meens cheaper ways to build it. Means less energy, so better EROI.
While renewable progress, costs go down and EROI goes ups.


I don't think energy returns for oil have gone up.

Costs for RE have gone down due to various reasons, but the energy return has barely gone up. The latest study of large plants in Spain confirm early data. There are more details in my previous posts.


Economic numbers could be confusing. With the same consumption, numbers could reflect "growth" only using hedonic pricing. Even could reflect "numeric growth" only... known as inflation.



That doesn't help because it only increases credit. Ultimately, growth is dependent on increasing energy and material resources available.


Real growth, specially on basic good, are more clear.


That's my point. And when it comes to a "solution" for a global capitalist economy, more than just basic goods will be required.


But basic goods are "necessity" and normally limited per capita.



That includes materials needed to make RE components. But because the global economy is capitalist, then the opposite has to take place.

I don't see any need of growth on per capita consumption. So, if your population has no growth, the consumption should be limited.


That's right, which is why solar energy is not a solution for a global economy that requires the opposite.


Of course, companies needs profits. But "numeric growth" a.k.a inflation is enough to avoid bankruptcy.



Not with competition.


So stagnant money depreciates and stimulate investment on companies that do always the "same" thing.
Meet the same needs, although adapted to the current "flavor".


That's right, but it's more than just adaptation, as the global middle class is set to grow to significant proportions. More details in my previous post.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Thu 11 Dec 2014, 04:44:20

MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote: I don't think fear of Peak Oil or fear of oil shortages is driving solar or wind energy. It is from the global warming, air pollution side of things.


I think what is driving solar and wind is the money to be made, especially with the tax credits and subsidies. In fact, uncertainty about those subsidies is the leading factor in investment lag.


Why are we offering subsidies?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Thu 11 Dec 2014, 04:56:26

Zanstel wrote:
ralfy wrote:The world has been doing this because of peak oil, not because solar energy is a "solution."

The correct (and short) answer is "renewable is cheaper".


That claim has been made before, and concurrently with other claims that renewables are not quite, but close to being as cheap as fossil fuels. Like this article from greentechmedia.com. But the costs of making renewable energy constant - storage - are never added. With that added it definitely isn't cheaper. That isn't to say it shouldn't be developed though. We get no energy return on building destroyer ships, and we do that.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Zanstel » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 03:46:24

ralfy wrote:Oil is "attractive" because it is used not only to move cars, heat houses, or power machinery. It's also used to make cars, construction materials for houses, and machinery.

That's not the point. What matters is that we don't want oil as is. We want to cover the services that oil do for us now. There is another ways to make the same things without oil. Mainly electric based, although sometimes syntethic or biofuels could be a better answer. That last options is equal in quality but not in costs and resources so a new energy configuration requires lower the fuel usage an order of magnitude and use electricity with and without storage for most of our services.

FWIW, global oil consumption kept rising even with a tripling of oil prices.

That's not what the prices are showing now.

EROI for RE may go up because of technofixes, but it can go down as other factors come into play, as well as shortages for materials needed to make RE components. That includes oil.

In the chain of building RE, there is little instrinsic dependency with fuels (never oil as is). Of course, it nowadays energy configuration, there is a significant fraction of oil because we live in a oil based society.
But as fuel oil based makes less attractive than other solutions, this configuration is changing.
The oil indirect usage in RE is lowering as most of things because is not a intrinsic dependency. Only temporary based on current energy configuration.

I don't think energy returns for oil have gone up.

¿Oil? No
¿Renewable? Clearly

Costs for RE have gone down due to various reasons, but the energy return has barely gone up. The latest study of large plants in Spain confirm early data. There are more details in my previous posts.


That is exactly the reference that i do it before. You are refering this study. It has been critized because the severity of calculations. They account as inputs a lot of things that other studies for other kinds of energy sources has not so the mix of numbers create a "apple to orange comparison" in EROI values.

But even so, there was a vasts upgrades in solar since then. This study is based in 2008 data, where Spain generated a solar bubble stressing manufacturers and raising prices, lowering later where Spain demand dropped as bubble exploded.
But in general trends, lowering costs are clear and Swanson effect is doubtless.

Even with Hall and Prieto data, exporting their calculations to nowadays prices EROI should be 10 as least in 2015.

That doesn't help because it only increases credit. Ultimately, growth is dependent on increasing energy and material resources available.

Inflation grows all numbers. That includes credit, of course. But it shouldn't be a problem if earnings grows too. There is the same ability to pay debts.
Wealth concentration, that is more a politic problem, is different. Growths debts without raise salaries so you can't pay debts.

That includes materials needed to make RE components. But because the global economy is capitalist, then the opposite has to take place.

No. Where people has freedom to choose, they choose basic goods if their total purchase power goes down.
Capitalism could work well even in decrease economy, IF wealth concentration is contained.
The freedom of people to choose is a good tool even in bad circunstances.

I don't see any need of growth on per capita consumption. So, if your population has no growth, the consumption should be limited.

That's right, which is why solar energy is not a solution for a global economy that requires the opposite.

????????

0 growth population * 0 growth consumption per capita = 0 growth = Fixed energy demand = Renewable could
work

Of course, there is places in Earth where consumption per capita must grow for now... but not forever.
Developed nations should lead the way to a advanced and sustainable future. That's mean renewable energy and closed cycle materials.
And It is clear that growth population stops if the country gets developed. It's matters of education, contraceptives and spend time working.

Not with competition.

Competition could work in a zero growth economy. Better companies displaced worse companies. It's relative ones with each other, like in sports. There is no need to make better and better or produce more and more. Only be better than others and adapt to the current demand.

That's right, but it's more than just adaptation, as the global middle class is set to grow to significant proportions. More details in my previous post.

That is only true for developing and poor nations so there is an upper limit for that. Fortunately, solar energy could serve in this case.
In fact, we need a lot more surface to feed pupolation that replace oil by electricity.
The oil problem is more a problem of time for replacing. The greatest risk is that oil supply does down quickly and alternative won't be ready.
But in medium term, feed population is a greater problem that replacing oil if overpopulation is not stopped quickly. Although is more a african/asian problem (and european by migration). American continent has good perspectives in population sustainability.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby Zanstel » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 06:08:55

dashster wrote:That claim has been made before, and concurrently with other claims that renewables are not quite, but close to being as cheap as fossil fuels. Like this article from greentechmedia.com. But the costs of making renewable energy constant - storage - are never added. With that added it definitely isn't cheaper. That isn't to say it shouldn't be developed though. We get no energy return on building destroyer ships, and we do that.

That's right but because storage is not need for all power, the price is not the same for partial renewable that a 100% renewable model.
Even in storage, hydro is cheap but limited, while batteries are potentially scalable but expensive.

So it is normal to say that renewable is cheaper, because is true, although 100% renewable requires a whole approach that should including dispatchable power (that's could include hydro and or solar thermal with thermal storage), storaging and/or intelligent demand consumption.
Each case has different options and prices.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 21:50:22

dashster wrote: Why are we offering subsidies?


To make them more competitive. Isn't that obvious?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 21:55:19

Zanstel wrote:Competition could work in a zero growth economy.


What new money system would you use? How would service existing debt in a zero growth economy?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 22:05:37

Zanstel wrote: And It is clear that growth population stops if the country gets developed. It's matters of education, contraceptives and spend time working.


No, it is not clear at all that that is the case. Many new studies are linking a decline in TFR to a loss of fertility due to the stew of environmental pollutants evident in industrialized countries. Contraception only accounts for 10-15% of the Drop in TFR. In many cases, the biggest contributor is material consumption in lieu of the expense of having children.

And many of those countries with a low TFR or below replacement, are offering cash incentives to have more children. France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, etc.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 23:43:26

MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote: Why are we offering subsidies?


To make them more competitive. Isn't that obvious?


Why are we trying to make them more competitive?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby MonteQuest » Fri 12 Dec 2014, 23:57:55

dashster wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote: Why are we offering subsidies?


To make them more competitive. Isn't that obvious?


Why are we trying to make them more competitive?


Depends upon your point of view, I guess. To reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. To meet Federal and state renewable energy goals. To help speed up their deployment. To lower GHG's. Peak oil?

Which one do you like best?
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Sat 13 Dec 2014, 00:34:05

MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote:
MonteQuest wrote:
dashster wrote: Why are we offering subsidies?


To make them more competitive. Isn't that obvious?


Why are we trying to make them more competitive?


Depends upon your point of view, I guess. To reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. To meet Federal and state renewable energy goals. To help speed up their deployment. To lower GHG's. Peak oil?

Which one do you like best?


I think it is due to global warming and air pollution/acid rain. Although having said that, if you look on the WInd Energy Foundation's history page they cite the 1970's energy crisis - which I think was actually all oil despite the usage of "energy crisis" - as starting the US federal interest in renewables. But, with the exception of California in the early 1980's, I think Wind Energy installations track better with the rise of Global Warming consciousness than concerns about oil. In fact, the mainstream is still not overtly acknowledging oil problems, while they have, in the majority, been giving lip service to global warming for a while. You can see wind energy taking off at a point when the Economist or some other financial magazine ran a cover story about us "Drowning In Oil".

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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Sat 13 Dec 2014, 01:31:00

MonteQuest wrote:
Zanstel wrote: And It is clear that growth population stops if the country gets developed. It's matters of education, contraceptives and spend time working.


No, it is not clear at all that that is the case. Many new studies are linking a decline in TFR to a loss of fertility due to the stew of environmental pollutants evident in industrialized countries. Contraception only accounts for 10-15% of the Drop in TFR. In many cases, the biggest contributor is material consumption in lieu of the expense of having children.


Well material consumption in lieu of the expense of having children can't be HOW they are having less children. That is a WHY. And appears to be a why that coincides with the claim that population growth declines as a country becomes wealthier.


And many of those countries with a low TFR or below replacement, are offering cash incentives to have more children. France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, etc.


I assume the rationale for a country wanting more children would be a social security type system needing current workers to pay for current retirees. I can't fathom anyone thinking there aren't enough workers, given job export and automation/technology eliminating jobs. Oh wait, the United States firmly believes it. Never mind.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby ralfy » Sat 13 Dec 2014, 02:16:48

Zanstel wrote:That's not the point. What matters is that we don't want oil as is. We want to cover the services that oil do for us now. There is another ways to make the same things without oil. Mainly electric based, although sometimes syntethic or biofuels could be a better answer. That last options is equal in quality but not in costs and resources so a new energy configuration requires lower the fuel usage an order of magnitude and use electricity with and without storage for most of our services.


Oil is needed for RE components. Theoretically, it is possible to move away from oil, but the transition period takes many decades:

http://www.businessinsider.com/131-year ... il-2010-11

Biofuels have low energy returns. A global capitalist economy needs high energy returns and high quantity.

That's not what the prices are showing now.


Prices are going down because of economic crisis. Production is not rising significantly.


In the chain of building RE, there is little instrinsic dependency with fuels (never oil as is).



RE is heavily dependent on oil, especially for mining, petrochemicals, and transport. The same goes for infrastructure and consumer goods.


Of course, it nowadays energy configuration, there is a significant fraction of oil because we live in a oil based society.



This counters your previous statement, unless it can be shown that RE components are manufactured outside that society.

But as fuel oil based makes less attractive than other solutions, this configuration is changing.


The problem isn't a change in the configuration but that the new configuration will not allow the for the maintenance or even growth of the global economic system that depends on it. More details are found in my previous posts.

The oil indirect usage in RE is lowering as most of things because is not a intrinsic dependency. Only temporary based on current energy configuration.


The problem isn't the amount of oil used to make RE components but the amount of oil, minerals, etc., needed for a growing global population coupled with a growing middle class.

¿Oil? No
¿Renewable? Clearly



Not to the extent that it serves as a solution to energy problems due to lack of oil. The example concerning Spain is notable.


That is exactly the reference that i do it before. You are refering this study. It has been critized because the severity of calculations. They account as inputs a lot of things that other studies for other kinds of energy sources has not so the mix of numbers create a "apple to orange comparison" in EROI values.


That's why studies of other energy sources should account for similar factors.


But even so, there was a vasts upgrades in solar since then. This study is based in 2008 data, where Spain generated a solar bubble stressing manufacturers and raising prices, lowering later where Spain demand dropped as bubble exploded.
But in general trends, lowering costs are clear and Swanson effect is doubtless.

Even with Hall and Prieto data, exporting their calculations to nowadays prices EROI should be 10 as least in 2015.


Feel free to present new studies showing these calculations. In my case, I will assume that most countries will not have these upgrades due to lack of funds. In fact, it's even possible that they'll be lucky to have systems like those in Spain.

Inflation grows all numbers. That includes credit, of course. But it shouldn't be a problem if earnings grows too. There is the same ability to pay debts.


The increase in credit worldwide involves much more than just inflation.

Wealth concentration, that is more a politic problem, is different. Growths debts without raise salaries so you can't pay debts.


Concentration of wealth involves more than just salaries.


No. Where people has freedom to choose, they choose basic goods if their total purchase power goes down.


Yes, but the goal is to increase purchasing power. In fact, most people want that as well. Recall that what we have is a global capitalist system.


Capitalism could work well even in decrease economy, IF wealth concentration is contained.
The freedom of people to choose is a good tool even in bad circunstances.


Definitely not. Capitalism requires growth because that's the basis of capital.

Also, it is highly unlikely that most people worldwide want a shrinking economy.

I don't see any need of growth on per capita consumption. So, if your population has no growth, the consumption should be limited.

That's right, which is why solar energy is not a solution for a global economy that requires the opposite.

????????[/quote]

The global economy, which is capitalist, requires expanding markets to ensure more profits and returns on investment from sales of goods and services. Those expanding markets mean increasing population and per capita consumption.

That's why for decades material resource and energy consumption, together with global GDP, have been in an upward trend.

If solar can only deal with a no-growth economy, then it is obviously not a solution.


0 growth population * 0 growth consumption per capita = 0 growth = Fixed energy demand = Renewable could
work


Yes, but we're talking about the global economy, which is capitalist. To ensure what you state we will need the equivalent of a centrally-controlled economy with heavy regulation.

Of course, there is places in Earth where consumption per capita must grow for now... but not forever.


Not just places on Earth but for most of the world's population. Of course, there will come a point when most people will say that they don't need or want more, but I very much doubt that solar energy will allow them to reach that level.

Developed nations should lead the way to a advanced and sustainable future. That's mean renewable energy and closed cycle materials.


Ironically, the main reason why developed nations are "developed" is because of the opposite. Guess what developing nations want?


And It is clear that growth population stops if the country gets developed. It's matters of education, contraceptives and spend time working.


But development also leads to higher levels of energy and material resource consumption. In addition, problems such as population aging take place. And how many resources and energy will be needed for the whole global population to reach such a stage?

Competition could work in a zero growth economy. Better companies displaced worse companies. It's relative ones with each other, like in sports. There is no need to make better and better or produce more and more. Only be better than others and adapt to the current demand.


Very likely the opposite, as competition ultimately involves increasing production to gain market share.

Also, business competition is not the same as sports. In fact, it's not even close, as businesses actually operate to make things better, to make more of them, and even to generate demand to expand sales.

One final irony is that businesses even end up transforming pro sports for the same reasons!

That is only true for developing and poor nations so there is an upper limit for that.


These countries make up most of the world's population. And the planet is already facing problems from consumption dominated by a minority of the same population. Imagine what is needed for the rest to even reach that "upper limit."

Finally, a global capitalist system does not operate with the intention of reaching upper limits.

Fortunately, solar energy could serve in this case.


Serving that growing economy is inevitable, but solving an energy crunch caused by lack of oil is highly unlikely. In fact, oil production itself will not be enough to ensure such growth.


In fact, we need a lot more surface to feed pupolation that replace oil by electricity.



This only adds to my point.

The oil problem is more a problem of time for replacing. The greatest risk is that oil supply does down quickly and alternative won't be ready.


That's what I shared earlier: it will take more than a century for a full transition, but oil production may peak in only around a decade. Meanwhile, energy demand may rise significantly during the same period.

How will solar deal with increasing energy demand plus decreasing oil production?

But in medium term, feed population is a greater problem that replacing oil if overpopulation is not stopped quickly. Although is more a african/asian problem (and european by migration). American continent has good perspectives in population sustainability.


The problem is that overpopulation cannot be stopped quickly or easily. In addition, this becomes a global problem as economies are linked to each other.
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Re: Is solar energy the solution?

Unread postby dashster » Sat 13 Dec 2014, 02:45:32

Zanstel wrote:American continent has good perspectives in population sustainability.


?? The American continent is pursuing infinite population growth via immigration. I have never seen a target amount for the number of people in the United States at which point immigration will stop. It really is considered an infinite practice in that it has no target, not even a hint of a target population for the country. And it appears that the appetite of the elite for economic migrants is increasing, not decreasing. They see population growth as part of the solution.
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