Godlike Productions - Conspiracy Forum
Users Online Now: 1,948 (Who's On?)Visitors Today: 1,296,135
Pageviews Today: 1,691,861Threads Today: 428Posts Today: 7,770
02:56 PM


Rate this Thread

Absolute BS Crap Reasonable Nice Amazing
 

Renewable Energy Delusion

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 276680
New Zealand
11/22/2008 04:38 AM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Renewable Energy Delusion
During the early 1970s we were told by the promoters of nuclear energy that by the year 2000 America’s coal-based electricity generation plants would be relics of the past and that all electricity would come from nuclear fission. What’s more, we were told that the first generation fission reactors would by then be on their way out, replaced by super-efficient breeder reactors that would produce more fuel than they were initially charged with.

During the early 1980s some aficionados of small-scale, distributed, “soft” (today’s “green”) energies saw America of the first decade of the 21st century drawing 30 percent to 50 percent of its energy use from renewables (solar,wind, biofuels). For the past three decades we have been told how natural gas will become the most important source of modern energy: widely cited forecasts of the early 1980s had the world deriving half of its energy from natural gas by 2000. And a decade ago the promoters of fuel cell cars were telling us that such vehicles would by now be on the road in large numbers, well on their way to displacing ancient and inefficient internal combustion engines.

These are the realities of 2008: coal-fired power plants produce half of all U.S. electricity, nuclear stations 20 percent, and there is not a single commercial breeder reactor operating anywhere in the world; in 2007 the United States derives about 1.7 percent of its energy from new renewable conversions (corn-based ethanol, wind, photovoltaic solar, geothermal); natural gas supplies about 24 percent of the world’s commercial energy—less than half the share predicted in the early 1980s and still less than coal with nearly 29 percent; and there are no fuel-cell cars.

This list of contrasts could be greatly extended, but the point is made: all of these forecasts and anticipations failed miserably because their authors and promoters ignored one of the most important realities ruling the behavior of complex energy systems—the inherently slow pace of energy transitions.

“Energy transitions” encompass the time that elapses between an introduction of a new primary energy source oil, nuclear electricity, wind captured by large turbines) and its rise to claiming a substantial share (20 percent to 30 percent) of the overall market, or even to becoming the single largest contributor or an absolute leader (with more than 50 percent) in national or global energy supply. The term also refers to gradual diffusion of new prime movers, devices that replaced animal and human muscles by converting primary energies into mechanical power that is used to rotate massive turbogenerators producing electricity or to propel fleets of vehicles, ships, and airplanes. There is one thing all energy transitions have in common: they are prolonged affairs that take decades to accomplish, and the greater the scale of prevailing uses and conversions the longer the substitutions will take. The second part of this statement seems to be a truism but it is ignored as often as the first part: otherwise we would not have all those unrealized predicted milestones for new energy sources.

Preindustrial societies had rather simple and fairly stationary patterns of primary energy use. They relied overwhelmingly on biomass fuels (wood, charcoal, straw) for heat and they supplemented their dominant prime movers(muscles) with wind to sail ships and in some regions with windmills and small waterwheels. This traditional arrangement prevailed in Europe and the Americas until the beginning of the 19th century, and it dominated most of Asia and Africa until the middle of the 20th century. The year 1882 was likely the tipping point of the transition to fossil fuels, the time when the United States first burned more coal than wood. The best available historical reconstructions indicate that it was only sometime during the late 1890s that the energy content of global fossil fuel consumption, nearly all of it coal, came to equal the energy content of wood, charcoal, and crop residues.

The Western world then rapidly increased its reliance on fossil fuels and hydroelectricity, but in large parts of Africa and Asia the grand energy transition from traditional biomass fuels to fossil fuels has yet to be completed. Looking only at modern primary energies on a global scale, coal receded from about 95 percent of the total energy supply in 1900 to about 60 percent by 1950 and less than 24 percent by 2000. But coal’s importance continued to rise in absolute terms, and in 2001 it even began to regain some of its relative importance. As a result, coal is now relatively more important in 2008 (nearly 29 percent of primary energy) than it was at the time of the first energy “crisis” in 1973 (about 27 percent). And in absolute terms it now supplies twice as much energy as it did in 1973: the world has been returning to coal rather than leaving it behind.

Although oil became the largest contributor to the world’s commercial energy supply in 1965 and its share reached 48 percent by 1973, its relative importance then began to decline and in 2008 it will claim less than 37 percent of the total. Moreover, worldwide coal extraction during the 20th century contained more energy than any other fuel, edging out oil by about 5 percent. The common perception that the 19th century was dominated by coal and the 20th century by oil is wrong: in global terms, the 19th century was still a part of the millennia-long wooden era and 20th century was, albeit by a small margin, the coal century. And while many African and Asian countries use no coal, the fuel remains indispensable: it generates 40 percent of the world’s electricity, nearly 80 percent of all energy in South Africa (that continent’s most industrialized nation), 70 percent of China’s, and about 50 percent of India’s.

The pace of the global transition from coal to oil can be judged from the following spans: it took oil about 50 years since the beginning of its commercial production during the 1860s to capture 10 percent of the global primary energy market, and then almost exactly 30 years to go from 10 percent to about 25 percent of the total. Analogical spans for natural gas are almost identical: approximately 50 years and 40 years. Regarding electricity, hydrogeneration began in 1882, the same year as Edison’s coal-fired generation, and just before World War I water power produced about 50 percent of the world’s electricity; subsequent expansion of absolute production could not prevent a large decline in water’s relative contribution to about 17 percent in 2008. Nuclear fission reached 10 percent of global electricity generation 27 years after the commissioning of the first nuclear power plant in 1956, and its share is now roughly the same as that of hydropower.

These spans should be kept in mind when appraising potential rates of market penetration by nonconventional fossilfuels or by renewable energies. No less important is the fact that none of these alternatives has yet reached even 5 percent of its respective global market. Nonconventional oil, mainly from Alberta oil sands and from Venezuelan tar deposits, now supplies only about 3 percent of the world’s crude oil and only about 1 percent of all primary energy. Renewable conversions—mainly liquid biofuels from Brazil, the United States, and Europe, and wind-powered electricity generation in Europe and North America, with much smaller contributions from geothermal and photovoltaic solar electricity generation—now provide about 0.5 percent of the world’s primary commercial energy, and in 2007 wind generated merely 1 percent of all electricity.

The absolute quantities needed to capture a significant share of the market, say 25 percent, are huge because the scale of the coming global energy transition is of an unprecedented magnitude. By the late 1890s, when combustion of coal (and some oil) surpassed the burning of wood, charcoal, and straw, these resources supplied annually an equivalent of about half a billion tons of oil. Today, replacing only half of worldwide annual fossil fuel use with renewable energies would require the equivalent of about 4.5 billion tons of oil. That’s a task equal to creating de novo an energy industry with an output surpassing that of the entire world oil industry—an industry that has taken more than a century to build.

The scale of transition needed for electricity generation is perhaps best illustrated by deconstructing Al Gore’s July 2008 proposal to “re-power” America: “Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. This goal is achievable, affordable, and transformative.”

Let’s see. In 2007 the country had about 870 gigawatts (GW) of electricity-generating capacity in fossil-fueled and nuclear stations, the two nonrenewable forms of generation that Gore wants to replace in their entirety. On average,these thermal power stations are at work about 50 percent of the time and hence they generated about 3.8 PWh (that is, 3.8 x 1015 watt-hours) of electricity in 2007. In contrast, wind turbines work on average only about 23 percent of the time, which means that even with all the requisite new high-voltage interconnections, slightly more than two units of wind-generating capacity would be needed to replace a unit in coal, gas, oil, and nuclear plants. And even if such an enormous capacity addition—in excess of 1,000 GW—could be accomplished in a single decade (since the year 2000, actual additions in all plants have averaged less than 30 GW/year!), the financial cost would be enormous: it would mean writing off the entire fossil-fuel and nuclear generation industry, an enterprise whose power plants alone have a replacement value of at least $1.5 trillion (assuming at least $1,700/installed kW), and spending at least $2.5 trillion to build the new capacity.

But because those new plants would have to be in areas that are not currently linked with high-voltage (HV)transmission lines to major consumption centers (wind from the Great Plains to the East and West coasts,photovoltaic solar from the Southwest to the rest of the country), that proposal would also require a rewiring of the country. Limited transmission capacity to move electricity eastward and westward from what is to be the new power center in the Southwest, Texas, and the Midwest is already delaying new wind projects even as wind generates less than 1 percent of all electricity. The United States has about 165,000 miles of HV lines, and at least 40,000 additional miles of new high-capacity lines would be needed to rewire the nation, at a cost of close to $100 billion. And the costs are bound to escalate, because the regulatory approval process required before beginning a new line construction can take many years. To think that the United States can install in 10 years wind and solar generating capacity equivalent to that of thermal power plants that took nearly 60 years to construct is delusional.
anonanon

User ID: 272356
United States
11/22/2008 04:45 AM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Re: Renewable Energy Delusion
Manure from both animals and mankind is always a renewable resouce. Use it to make methane gas.

Solar and wind and geo-thermal and water generated power plants are renewable.

Coal can be cleaned up to be gasified and liquified to provide fuels and the USA is the Saudi Arabia of coal.

Fast growing hemp and bamboo plants can certainly provide bio-fuels.

So renewable souces of energy is not a delusion. Might not be cheap and easy as getting oil out of the ground used to be, but it is all possible.

Of course, cold fusion is theoretically the true answer to it all. Cold fusion engines and generators would set us all free.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 276680
New Zealand
11/22/2008 04:53 AM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Re: Renewable Energy Delusion
Did you even read the article?

You think we can replace an energy system that took 100 years to install and generates 1,000 GW (just in the US) with solar panels, windmills and manure??


"According to the Department of Energy's most recent data on greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006 the U.S. emitted 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or just under 20 tons per capita. An 80% reduction in these emissions from 1990 levels means that the U.S. cannot emit more than about one billion metric tons of CO2 in 2050. []bWere man-made carbon dioxide emissions in this country ever that low? The answer is probably yes – from historical energy data it is possible to estimate that the U.S. last emitted one billion metric tons around 1910. But in 1910, the U.S. had 92 million people, and per capita income, in current dollars, was about $6,000.

By the year 2050, the Census Bureau projects that our population will be around 420 million. This means per capita emissions will have to fall to about 2.5 tons in order to meet the goal of 80% reduction. It is likely that U.S. per capita emissions were never that low - even back in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood. The only nations in the world today that emit at this low level are all poor developing nations, such as Belize, Mauritius, Jordan, Haiti and Somalia. If that comparison seems unfair, consider that even the least-CO2 emitting industrialized nations do not come close to the 2050 target. France and Switzerland, compact nations that generate almost all of their electricity from nonfossil fuel sources (nuclear for France, hydro for Switzerland) emit about 6.5 metric tons of CO2 per capita."
lynleo
User ID: 545186
United States
11/22/2008 06:36 PM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Re: Renewable Energy Delusion
Did you even read the article?

You think we can replace an energy system that took 100 years to install and generates 1,000 GW (just in the US) with solar panels, windmills and manure??
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 276680


Yes.
Hanfeitzu

User ID: 503964
United States
11/22/2008 06:53 PM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Re: Renewable Energy Delusion
Did you even read the article?

You think we can replace an energy system that took 100 years to install and generates 1,000 GW (just in the US) with solar panels, windmills and manure??


 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 276680


Our energy problems are going to take an initiative bigger than anything we've seen since the debut of the space program.

It will takes years upon years, a collaboration of the top minds in the field, and a huge budget.

Unfortunately, these resources are currently allocated to the elite's war machine.
Those without swords may still die upon them.

No one man can do everything, but each one can do something.

News