|By Steve Balogh in Peak Oil, Transportation | July 20, 2010|
Peak Oil Archives
|By Steve Balogh in Energy, Peak Oil, Solar, Wind Power | April 14, 2009|
Since I can’t leave my comment at the WSJ forums on this article (I guess the discussion is closed), I’ll have to do it here.
from the article:
Let’s Get Real About Renewable Energy
We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We’ll still depend on hydrocarbons.
Mr. Bush’s record aside, the key problem facing Mr. Obama, and anyone else advocating a rapid transition away from the hydrocarbons that have dominated the world’s energy mix since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is the same issue that dogs every alternative energy idea: scale.
Let’s start by deciphering exactly what Mr. Obama includes in his definition of “renewable” energy. If he’s including hydropower, which now provides about 2.4% of America’s total primary energy needs, then the president clearly has no concept of what he is promising. Hydro now provides more than 16 times as much energy as wind and solar power combined. Yet more dams are being dismantled than built. Since 1999, more than 200 dams in the U.S. have been removed.
If Mr. Obama is only counting wind power and solar power as renewables, then his promise is clearly doable. But the unfortunate truth is that even if he matches Mr. Bush’s effort by doubling wind and solar output by 2012, the contribution of those two sources to America’s overall energy needs will still be almost inconsequential.
and so forth…
Here’s the issue that I have with this article – the math:
For the sake of convenience, let’s convert the energy produced by U.S. wind and solar installations into oil equivalents.
The conversion of electricity into oil terms is straightforward: one barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent of 1.64 megawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, 45,493,000 megawatt-hours divided by 1.64 megawatt-hours per barrel of oil equals 27.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from solar and wind for all of 2008.
Now divide that 27.7 million barrels by 365 days and you find that solar and wind sources are providing the equivalent of 76,000 barrels of oil per day. America’s total primary energy use is about 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Politics aside, I believe that the math in the article is a little misleading.
It’s true that 1 barrel of oil contains 6119 MJ of energy, or 1.64 MWh of energy.Â However, electricity is highly refined energy, i.e. one must burn 3 MJ worth of coal to create 1 MJ of electricity (roughly the same for oil).Â The author’s math assumes that there is a process for converting all of the 1.64 MWh in a barrel of oil into electricity.Â At best the conversion rate is 30-40%.Â Looking at a barrel of oil in that light, one would consider a barrel of oil to “equal” 0.55 MWh of electricity.Â Or, conversely, a barrel of oil would be displaced for every 0.55 MWh of renewable electricity production.
Redoing the math:
45,493,000 megawatt-hours divided by 0.55 megawatt-hours per barrel of oil equals 82.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from solar and wind for all of 2008.
Dividing by 365, the numbers remain grim – 227,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.Â Still a drop in the bucket of the roughly 19 million barrels per day of crude oil consumption, but much rosier than the picture that Mr. Bryce paints.
This is one of the tricky issues of energy conversion, and using “energy equivalents” in arguing your point – especially when comparing electricity to raw fossil fuels.Â I would expect that the economists and energy analysts at the WSJ would understand this concept, especially someone who is the managing editor at the www.energytribune.com website.
|By Matt Mayer in Farming, Peak Oil, Permaculture, Videos | March 28, 2009|
Via The Oil Drum
|By Aaron Newton in Eating Local, Peak Oil, Video | February 16, 2009|
|By Steve Balogh in BioFuel, Education, Energy, Peak Oil, Transportation | February 8, 2009|
This is a link to my first publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I am honored to have worked with Charlie Hall (my advisor) and my colleague Dave Murphy on this paper, and thrilled to be published in a journal alongside David Pimentel.
Many thanks to the editors of the journal Energies.Â Â PDF available for free download.
Hall, Charles A.; Balogh, Stephen; Murphy, David J.. 2009. “What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have?” Energies 2, no. 1: 25-47.
Economic production and, more generally, most global societies, are overwhelmingly dependant upon depleting supplies of fossil fuels. There is considerable concern amongst resource scientists, if not most economists, as to whether market signals or cost benefit analysis based on todayâ€™s prices are sufficient to guide our decisions about our energy future. These suspicions and concerns were escalated during the oil price increase from 2005 â€“ 2008 and the subsequent but probably related market collapse of 2008. We believe that Energy Return On Investment (EROI) analysis provides a useful approach for examining disadvantages and advantages of different fuels and also offers the possibility to look into the future in ways that markets seem unable to do. The goal of this paper is to review the application of EROI theory to both natural and economic realms, and to assess preliminarily the minimum EROI that a society must attain from its energy exploitation to support continued economic activity and social function. In doing so we calculate herein a basic first attempt at the minimum EROI for current society and some of the consequences when that minimum is approached. The theory of the minimum EROI discussed here, which describes the somewhat obvious but nonetheless important idea that for any being or system to survive or grow it must gain substantially more energy than it uses in obtaining that energy, may be especially important. Thus any particular being or system must abide by a â€śLaw of Minimum EROIâ€ť, which we calculate for both oil and corn-based ethanol as about 3:1 at the mine-mouth/farm-gate. Since most biofuels have EROIâ€™s of less than 3:1 they must be subsidized by fossil fuels to be useful.
|By Matt Mayer in Peak Oil | January 15, 2009|
The Post Carbon Institute has published a Real New Deal for President-Elect Obama to use as he guides his administration into the future.
It’s an interesting read about what thoughts they have to adapt our society to a post-fossil fuel future, and how important it is to get started today.
Below is a video from Richard Heinberg that I found on the site.
|By Matt Mayer in Peak Oil, Reviews | October 11, 2008|
The title of this book is Reinventing Collapse, and I have to say that’s exactly what this book manages to do. It’s a short book, so you could read it in just a few hours, but it is packed with information and “make you think” moments. Orlov’s unique perspective on American life engages the reader and opens your eyes to what life in America is like to an outsider. It also questions ideas and notions from the perspective of an outsider; things that a native American wouldn’t even think to question.
Without a doubt the most useful aspect of this book are the details of what the situation was like in Russia after their political collapse. This book is a tutorial on how the reader might modify their life in the future if (or when) America collapses.
If you get a chance check it out today. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
|By Chris Welch in Climate Change, Peak Oil, Permaculture | October 1, 2008|
What will the next 10-20 years be like? With global climate change and peak oil what can we expect? David Holmgren co-originator of the permaculture concept has developed a new website investigating some possible outcomes.
Future Scenarios: Mapping the cultural implications and climate change.
The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation.
Global oil peak has the potential to shake if not destroy the foundations of global industrial economy and culture. Climate change has the potential to rearrange the biosphere more radically than the last ice age. Each limits the effective options for responses to the other.
The strategies for mitigating the adverse effects and/or adapting to the consequences of Climate Change have mostly been considered and discussed in isolation from those relevant to Peak Oil. While awareness of Peak Oil, or at least energy crisis, is increasing, understanding of how these two problems might interact to generate quite different futures, is still at an early state.
FutureScenarios.org presents an integrated approach to understanding the potential interaction between Climate Change and Peak Oil using a scenario planning model. In the process I introduce permaculture as a design system specifically evolved over the last 30 years to creatively respond to futures that involve progressively less and less available energy.
The site is arranged as a long essay. Holmgren has recently been contracted by Chelsea Green to write a book based on this website that will be published in the US, early 2009.
|By Steve Balogh in Peak Oil | September 25, 2008|
ASPO Day 2:Â â€śDemand Meet Supplyâ€ť
The second day of the conference started with the official welcome from Steve Andrews and others, followed by a panel entitled â€śOilâ€ť Once Cheap, Never Easyâ€ť moderated by ASPO Board Member, Sally Odland.Â The first presentation that I attended had Sally filling in for Gil Mull, from the Alaska Geological Survey (ret.)Â Sally noted the increased impact of the rising factor costs in ocean research.Â In the past 3 years, with rising fuel costs, cost overruns have been 40% above budget.Â Interestingly she noted that the cost of a gallon of oil delivered to the Antarctic was $100.Â Her presentation described the history of Prudhoe Bay, its discovery and initial drilling, and where it was located geographically in relation to ANWR and another restricted area called NPRA.Â Expected recoverable oil in currently undeveloped areas of Alaska include 10 Billion barrels from ANWR, 15.4 Billion from off-shore areas, and 10.6 Billion from NPRA.Â Most importantly she noted that production from these sources combined will not stop depletion from Prudhoe Bay, but will at best cause a temporarily plateau.
Jeremy Gilbert, the former BP Chief Petroleum Engineer gave the next presentation entitled â€śTime For America to Wake Upâ€ť.Â Itâ€™s always nice to infuse a little levity into heavy discussions, and Mr. Gilbert tried to do just that (although the end result was a bit dire).Â He noted little had changed since the first ASPO meeting that had 55 attendees.Â He noted no improvement in resource discovery, some more accurate calculations (but still a lack of industry data), and the political will to increase supply in oil producing nations was clearly absent.Â Despite rising costs to others, Saudi Arabia has reduced the cost of gasoline by 25% over last year.Â More optimistically, the IEA has had a recent change of opinion, no longer believes that demand = supply.Â More soberingly, Mr. Gilbert noted that Russian oil production had increased from 9.2 to 9.9 Mb/d in 2007, but that 2008 projected production was expected to fall to 9.7 Mb/d in 2008.Â He voiced his concerns about a Russian peak.Â Some improvements in the OECD situation were the decreased amount of energy needed per unit of GDP growth, and decreased energy use due to higher prices â€“ however he felt these trends were insufficient in solving the looming energy crisis.
Iâ€™ll briefly touch on the Q&A session, which included some interesting discussions.Â When asked about suggestions for the next presidential administration, Jeremy Gilbert suggested a â€ś10% in income tax for attending a 10 hour session on energy supply.â€ťÂ Ken Verosub suggested that the enormous changes coming demanded drastic action, pulling resources from NASAâ€™s Mars manned space program, earmarks, and stripping the budget to dedicate resources towards this problem at a national and global level.Â He thought that we needed a interdisciplinary approach to finding solutions with natural, physical and social scientists all working together. Read more »
|By Steve Balogh in Energy, Green Living, Green Politics, Peak Oil | September 10, 2008|
- Can a “One-legged” Man Stay Green?
- Groovy Green Now on Twitter and Facebook
- Cleveland’s RFID-enabled Recycle Bins Report When You’re Not Using Them
- Peak Roads?
- La Vida Locavore
- “Deep Thoughts”
- Paper Mate Pens – Now with Less Waste…
- offshore oil :: drill baby drill :: the obama plan
- Review: Gaea Olive Oil – Great Taste, Less Emitting?
- Review: The Book of Rubbish Ideas