Double the Burn Rate, Scotty!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Lots of folks claim that the worst possible thing we could do is to allow the third world to actually develop to the level of the industrialized nations. The conventional wisdom holds that there’s not enough fossil fuels in the world to do that, that fuel use would be ten times what it is today, that it’s not technically feasible to increase production that much, and that if we did that, the world would run out of oil in the very near future. I woke up this morning and for some reason I started wondering if that is all true. So as is my habit, I ran the numbers. I started with the marvelous graphing site, Gapminder, to take an overall look at the question. Here’s that graph:

energy use vs gdp per capitaFigure 1. Annual income per person (horizontal axis, constant dollars) versus annual energy use per person (tonnes of oil equivalent, denoted “TOE”). I’ve added the horizontal red line to show the global median per capita energy use, in TOE per person per year. (The median is the value such that half the population is above that value, and half is below the value.) Click here for the live version at Gapminder.

So … how much additional energy would it take to bring all countries up to a minimum standard? We could perhaps take the level of Spain or Italy as our target. They each use about 2.75 tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per capita per year, and they each have an annual income (GDP per capita) of about $26,000 per year. If that were true of everyone on the planet, well, that would be very nice, with much avoided pain and suffering. So how much energy would it take to bring the billions of people using less energy than the inhabitants of Spain and Italy, up to that 2.75 TOE level of consumption? Now, here’s the wrinkle. I don’t want to drag the top half down. I don’t want anyone to use less energy, energy is the lifeblood of development.

So I’m not proposing that the folks using more energy than Spain/Italy reduce their energy consumption. Quite the contrary, I want them to continue their energy use, that’s what keeps them well-fed and clothed and healthy and able to take care of the environment and the like. As a result, what I wanted to find out was the following:

How much extra energy would it take to bring everyone currently using less energy than Spain/Italy up to their usage level of 2.75 TOE/capita/year, while leaving everyone who was using more energy than Spain/Italy untouched?

So, remembering that the figures in the graph are per capita, what say ye all? If we want to bring the energy use of all those billions of people up to a European standard, and nobody’s energy usage goes down … would that take five times our current energy usage? Ten times? Here’s how I calculated it

First, I downloaded the population data and the per capita energy use data, both from the Gapminder site linked to in the caption to Figure 1. If you notice, at the bottom left of the graph there’s a couple of tiny spreadsheet icons. If you click that you get the data.

Then, I combined the two datasets, multiplying per capita energy use by the population to give me total energy use. There were a dozen or so very poor countries (Niger, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, etc) with no data on energy use. I arbitrarily assigned them a value of 0.3 TOC/capita, in line with other equivalent African countries.

Then, I checked my numbers by adding up the population and the energy use. For total energy use I got 11,677 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE). The corresponding figure for 2009 from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy is 11,391 MTOE, so I was very happy with that kind of agreement. The population totaled ~ 6.8 billion, so that was right.

Then for each country, I looked at how much energy they were using. If it was more than 2.75 TOE/capita/year, I ignored them. They didn’t need extra energy. If usage was less than 2.75 TOE/capita/year, I subtracted what they were using from 2.75, and multiplied the result by the population to get the total amount of extra energy needed for that country. I repeated that for all the countries.

And at the end? Well, when I totaled the extra energy required, I was quite surprised to find out that to achieve the stated goal of bringing the world’s poor countries all up to the energy level of Spain and Italy, all that we need is a bit more than 80% more energy. I’ve triple-checked my figures, and that’s the reality. It wouldn’t take ten times the energy we use now. In fact it wouldn’t even take twice the energy we’re now using to get the poor countries of the world up to a comfortable standard of living. Eighty percent more energy use, and we’re there.

In closing let me note a couple of things. You can’t get up to the standard of living of Spain or Italy without using that much energy. Energy is development, and energy is income.

Second, the world’s poor people are starving and dying for lack of cheap energy today. Driving the price of energy up and denying loans for coal-fired power plants is depriving the poor of cheap energy today, on the basis that it may help their grandchildren in fifty years. That is criminal madness. The result of any policy that increases energy prices is more pain and suffering. Rich people living in industrialized nations should be ashamed of proposing such an inhumane way to fight the dangers of CO2, regardless of whether those dangers are imaginary or real.

Finally, regarding feeding and clothing the world, we’re getting there. It’s not that far to go, only 80% more than current energy usage rates to get the world up to the level of the industrialized nations.

Anyhow, just wanted to share the good news. The spreadsheet I used to do the calculations is here.

w.

PS—Will this make the planet run out of fossil fuels sooner? Ask a person living on $3 per day on the streets of Calcutta if they care … but in any case, here’s the answer. As mentioned above, as of 2009 using about 11,500 MTOE per year. Total reserves of fossil fuel are given here as being about a million MTOE (although various people’s numbers vary). That doesn’t include the latest figures on fracked gas or tight oil. It also doesn’t include methane clathrates, the utilization of which is under development.

That means that at current usage rates we have at least 81 years of fossil fuels left, and under the above scenario (everyone’s energy usage at least equal to Spain and Italy) we have more than 46 years of fossil fuels left … ask me if I care. I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that, because today we have poor people to feed and clothe, and we need cheap energy to do it. So I’d say let’s get started using the fossil energy to feed and clothe the poor, and if we have to double the burn rate to do that, well, that’s much, much better than having people watch their kids starve …

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241 thoughts on “Double the Burn Rate, Scotty!

  1. Nice arithmetic, w, and a nice way of looking at the people’s needs. The future is not restricted by today’s fuels and today’s technology, so as you say we should just go for it. There’s methanes and uranium and thorium and goodness knows what else for us to tap into, not to mention a few gazillion watts of sunlight.

  2. what is with the warmist anyway? they will get their wish when we run out of “fossil fuel” …they should be happy.

    truth is those bastards will never be happy.

  3. Willis,

    I enjoyed your spreadsheet tinkering and more people should do this back of the envelope type exercise rather than accept distorted opinions put out by the media. Just a little bit of extra input to your PS. Many people get hung up on reserves depletion of fossil fuels. It must be remembered that these reserves are a subset of the worlds fossil fuel resources, which are generally at least an order of magnitude greater than reserves. Resources become classified as reserves dependent on numerous factors, a key one being economic viability. Similarly, the size of the resource increases all the time due to exploration as new deposits are found around the world or existing deposits are increased in size due to new data being obtained. As extraction technology advances what was previously uneconomic, becomes economic and hence the resource now becomes a reserve.

    This ever changing balance is not captured and conveyed to the general public as it does not have the newsy feel of alarmism that is constantly rammed down out throats. I ask anyone on this blog to think back on their primary school years and I will bet you were taught we were going to run out of metals, coal, oil etc, but we are still using them. That is because more of the earth’s resources have been upgraded to a reserve status.

    There are still many sedimentary basins around the world that have not even been mined yet for coal. It is not because there is no coal resource present,it is simply that at present they are uneconomic to mine for various reasons, but given time and need they will become a reserve, and the timeframe for depletion will move further into the future. Just how far this will extend is anyone’s guess.

    cheers, Basil

  4. Willis, this is brilliant. This is now one of my favorites – and now Anthony has a dilemma, which one to make the sticky. :D

    The way is so clear – if only people would get out of their own way, stop living in fear and thus limiting themselves (and wanting to do the same to everyone else).

  5. But cheap energy for the developing world would make people happier, healthier and wealthier. Population growth would slow, and productivity would increase. This just can’t be allowed! The luxurious life style of a great many of the elite regulating class depends on claiming to care for the poor and oppressed. If this means keeping the developing world in poverty and oppression, so be it. After all, the developing world will never agree to global socialism under a framework of UN global governance if they are happy, wealthy and healthy. /sarc

    Fortunately we should be spared the inanity of a manufactured “peak energy” crisis. It’s not just that full baseload thorium power can supply all our needs for centuries. It’s not just that deep sea volcanic vents are producing enough He3 for further centuries of fusion power. No, the main reason we should be spared this next hoax is that the global warming hoax will result in mass species extinction. Right now the Spittle Flecked Doom Screecher and the Red Beaked Green Lyre Bird are top of the endangered list.

    The fellow travellers who were using AGW as a stalking horse will have to pick a new scare. They would be ill advised to try science or technology scares again. These clearly don’t work in the age of the Internet. Of course before they try an all new scare, they are going to need all new people. Every pseudo scientist, activist, journalist or politician involved in AGW is hopelessly compromised.

  6. I’m no statistician, but I think you’ve left out one important factor, the ‘get-to’ energy cost. That is, the cost of the infrastructure needed to maintain the 2.75 TOE per capita consumption. For example, part of that energy useage would be petrol, but for that consumption to take place you first need massive investment in roads, petrol stations, car dealerships, and repair shops. That would add significantly to the total energy cost in bringing the below-2.75’s up, although it will be spread over a longer period.

  7. rgy A few small notes. Looking at the table, there is a difference between “reserves” and “recoverable resources”. We have 81 years of the former, but well over ten times that in recoverable resources. The former has proven to be a rather flexible and hence perhaps pointless number as it keeps changing as new resources are discovered and proven, which is why we haven’t reached “the end of oil” quite yet. In particular, there is a LOT of coal that is recoverable, and nothing prevents us from using a venerable process for converting coal into gasoline but price — the general availability of cheaper gasoline produced directly by refining crude oil.

    Second, you deliberately (I imagine) did not address nuclear energy and its reserves. Uranium is problematic — perhaps — because high pressure light water cooled reactors have technical risks of meltdown and associated risks of nuclear proliferation, but nevertheless there are at least hundreds, possibly tens of thousands thousands of years worth of Uranium reserves (the latter if we use breeder reactors and actually burn all of the Uranium instead of a pitifully small fraction of lightly enriched U-235). Of course breeder reactors that are efficient in this regard burn plutonium for most of the energy they produce, and plutonium is bomb material at this point for pretty much any country that gets it as the concept of implosion lenses and critical density is hardly either secret or technically inaccessible any more even to a very poor and backwards country. Still, we have 30,000 years of Uranium WITHOUT using Uranium from seawater from proven reserves if we use breeder reactors. If anyone works out how to economically extract Uranium from seawater we have an effectively infinite supply — humanity would evolve before we ran out, as the 60,000 years in seawater would be amplified by 100 to 6 million years. Admittedly, this is “at current consumption rates” so it would be less if we converted over to using fission reactors on a broad basis, but I think that it makes the 81 years entirely moot.

    Third, that doesn’t include Thorium, either. Thorium has a number of advantages over Uranium as a reactor fuel, the principle ones being that it is somewhat (but not decisively) more difficult to use as the basis for a clandestine bomb building program, it produces anywhere from 10 to 10,000 times less nuclear waste depending on the fuel cycle selected, and it is MUCH more difficult to make a thorium reactor “melt down” the way existing solid-fuel LWR Uranium designs can. The most advantage fuel cycle appears to be liquid salt reactor designs, which literally cannot melt down, have reduced (but nonzero) proliferation concerns, and which could literally be used to burn EXISTING nuclear waste and in the process would release a lot of the unburned energy in existing spent nuclear solid fuel (currently only around 1% of the available energy is being recovered in LWR Uranium non-breeder designs). Estimates of thorium reserves and available energy necessarily vary because only prototype reactors have been built of the various kinds and because little effort has been put into developing Thorium reserves (Thorium is currently a radioactive waste byproduct of mining rare earth metals and has only a handful of industrial/commercial applications as things now stand) but it is at LEAST tens of thousands of years. As a side effect of adopting Thorium as an energy fuel, we would completely solve the problems with global shortages of rare earths and hence e.g. rare earth magnets and exotic semiconductors, both essential components in other aspects of efficient energy production and transmission and utilization

    I know that we don’t necessarily agree on the eventual utility of solar power, but IMO there is also no question at all that over the next decade or two solar cell technology and engineering will progress to where the cost per watt at over the counter retail rates drops below fifty US cents (to as low, eventually, as ten cents or even less). This will correspond to wholesale prices that are roughly half of these retail prices. This will push the amortized cost recovery for large and small scale solar energy projects to well under a decade, with an expected plant lifetime of at least twice that, and IMO will make solar a no-brainer energy resource for the entire tropical and subtropical band. Although without efficient energy transportation and storage (which are both more speculative and less predictable) solar alone is not a viable single energy resource for a steady state global civilization such as the one you propose, they can easily eke out both nuclear and carbon-based resources and double or triple any of the numbers above for years of available energy.

    If (say) high temperature superconducting transmission lines are discovered/invented that facilitate the transport of electrical energy distances on the order of 10,000 miles with minimal loss, and/or high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage is ever worked out (say zinc oxide batteries are eventually developed that have charged energy densities that are roughly comparable to gasoline) it would both permit the eking out of “fossile” resources (carbon, Uranium and Thorium) to “indefinitely long” and could even serve as the basis for a truly steady state civilization, which I believe should be our long term goal regardless of greenhouse issues.

    Finally, on the speculative front, is low temperature fusion. Fusion in some sense is the holy grail of energy production mechanisms. If economically feasible deuterium-based fusion is ever worked out, we will literally never run out of energy. It would take us tens of millions of years of utilization to BEGIN to deplete deuterium even if you provided energy to every person on Earth at levels equal to or in excess of US consumption per capita, and with that much energy we could cost-effectively mine e.g. Europa, Titan and the gas giants if we should ever actually significantly deplete the Earth’s oceans. A mix of solar and fusion energy production would make the human species secure well past the point where it is no longer recognizably human, time frames longer than the interval from the end of the Cretaceous to the present, geological time scales. The human species might well die off over that sort of time frame, but probably not because we ran out of energy. To ensure survival of the species even beyond that would likely require at least interplanetary if not interstellar colonization, and still more speculative advances in physics and technology for the latter to become even imaginatively possible.

    Otherwise, yes, I agree, we have little excuse for not ending energy poverty worldwide. Nor do I think Spain/Italy should be the standard — our goal should be lifting people up to e.g. the rate of energy utilization in the US. Eliminating poverty might actually facilitate a reduction in the rate of population growth or even initiate a period of population decrease, and that too is a way of extending and improving per capita consumption. Finally, there is a world of undeveloped technology that might reduce per capita consumption without impacting quality of life. The past conversion from incandescent to CF light bulbs, the future conversion from CF to LED bulbs (that use still less energy and have far longer lifetimes) are a prime example. Houses that use integrated local solar for local daytime AC are another. Smart houses that deliver e.g. light or AC only when and where it is needed (without loss of comfort or utility) yet another. A lot of this is technically feasible right now; it simply isn’t implemented because the cost-benefit is marginal with energy being as CHEAP as it is, but as energy prices increase over time, the marginal return from these technologies and their broader implementation and economy of scale will greatly reduce the real dollar cost and eke out our energy resources further still.

    It would be a whole lot easier to establish a stable and sustainable global civilization with a billion humans than it is or will be with 7+ billion humans. OTOH, I’m not quite ready to go out there and pick 6+ billion humans to be “culled”. Nature — via pandemics, asteroid collisions, ice ages — might do it anyway. Or, we might get there by simply improving the standard of living worldwide to the point where humans (apparently) stop reproducing at rates that lead to population growth, and then gradually ramp it down by having fewer babies than people who die of natural causes for a century or two.

    Either way, I won’t be around to watch most of this, probably. Interesting to think about, though.

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  8. Lots of folks claim that the worst possible thing we could do is to allow the third world to actually develop to the level of the industrialized nations.

    They deserve a painful aneurism. What we need is fewer elitists. So far in my experience pressure for equality has come from the bottom up, not the top down. Nobody defends poverty at the point of a gun. Can’t say the same for the wealth of the first and second worlds. You are very correct – we can’t make anything better by destroying our own life style but we can do much to help or stay out of the way of those that are struggling to improve. Our consumerism has created economies of scale that have uniformly driven down the cost of essentials (except health care which is a clever monopoly). If your numbers are even close to being accurate it would make no sense for the elitists to wring their miserly hands over the fate of the third world. The best thing they can do is leave the heavy lifting to those willing to make it work and get the hell out of the way.

    Sometimes I think the world needs an annual “Kick the crap out of an elitist day”. If I weren’t a pacifist I’d buy a ticket.

  9. There are trillions of tons of uranium in Earth’s crust, billions of tons in the oceans, while even common granite rock contains the energy of 50 times its mass equivalent in coal due to the 13 ppm thorium+uranium in it.

    That is the power of nuclear power.

    Much as a few kilograms fissioning pack the energy to blow up a city (although only in a bomb: reactors can’t explode), each kilogram fissioned is equivalent to millions of times its mass in chemical fuels.

    Anti-nuclear, anti-industry creative lies like “peak uranium” try to obscure such facts. However, as Dr. Cohen noted and explained in further detail in the following publication:

    We thus conclude that all the world’s energy requirements for the remaining 5×10^9 yr of existence of life on Earth could be provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising by as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used.”

    http://sustainablenuclear.org/PADs/pad11983cohen.pdf

    The only kind of civilization which could truly run out of Earth’s main resources, the millions of cubic kilometers of crustal resources and oceans (with even the average rock rich enough in aluminum and much else), would be one orders of magnitude beyond modern day civilization in industrial & economic output, but, long before anything like that, space colonization becomes easier. (And once expanding into space, there is enough out there to be still more to reach practically forever, even about all of the way until the end of the universe under most timeframes for it; some say you can’t have perpetual growth in a finite world, but actually you can for practical purposes and timeframes).

    Returning to more immediate near-term matters, while less than nuclear’s potential, even natural gas “reserves” have already been increased multiple times in recent years due to fracking improvements, and the amount of natural gas plus methane hydrates is on a level nominally lasting for centuries easily.

    The global warming excuse for trying to stop such will further flounder once substantial global cooling occurs in coming decades. That will be the consequence of the end of the Modern Maximum of solar activity, due to how climate actually works (as illustrated in the match of five peaks and five troughs in sea level rise rates, humidity, cloud cover, and temperature with forcing from cosmic ray flux over the 1960s-2000s period of neutron monitor data in http://s24.postimg.org/rbbws9o85/overview.gif ).

  10. A lot of energy use in developed countries is for heating in winter. I would guess that a large number of undeveloped countries are in locations that do not require much if any energy to keep warm for a large part of the year. So my guess is that your calculations are far too pessimistic.

  11. As has been said before, the poor are being asked to let their children die so that the grandchildren they will never have leave a “better” planet for our children and grandchildren.

  12. Nice job Willis!

    I was embarrassed when Obama went the Africa about a month ago and told crowds of young Africans that it isn’t feasible for them to have as many cars, air conditioners, big houses, etc., as Western countries have, as it would cause, “the planet will boil over”…. Oh, my…

    Africa and other impoverished nation deserve decent living standards, which will be impossible to achieve on expensive, diffuse, intermittent, inefficient and thin gruel of solar/wind electrification.

    That’s why it’s imperative that Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactors be developed and built as quickly as possible to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not for the CAGW scam, but rather for an affordable and inexhaustible source of energy for thousands of years.

    The other great thing about LFTRs is that the waste heat coming out of the gas generators (900C) is sufficient to synthesize diesel/jet fuel and ammonia for fertilizers as well as other hydro-carbons needed for other essential products such as plastics. The “waste” heat can also be used to desalinate ocean water to address drinking water and irrigation requirements.

    LFTRs are the only feasible technology available that can address all these needs.

    Another factor is that even if there are still about 100 years of fossil fuels available as Willis calculates, as fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, prices will necessarily increase, which will inhibit economic growth and development.

    This energy scarcity will also increase the threat of war as world powers vie for control of dwindling resources. Thorium is available everywhere and the world only needs about 500 metric tons of Thorium a year to provide the world with present energy needs (or around 1000 Metric tons under Willis’ calculation to bring impoverished countries to Western Standards). By the way, just one average rare-earth mine produces about 500 Metric Tons of “waste” Thorium a year… Hmmm.

  13. You know I sympathize with you Willis, but the population is growing (slowly and the rate of growth is slowing down) and they ain’t gonna stop at the level of Spain or Italy.

  14. Willis, I think that you are missing an important detail: much of the goods consumed in developed countries are actually produced in poor contries, with energy which is produced and used there. You don’t replicate Spanish way of living by replicating their energy use, but by replicating it and IN ADDITION increasing energy use in third countries. If Spain produced all of its own goods, our energy use would be quite higher. And I think this is true also for most of the developed nations. You need a new metric for the energy. The real energy cost of a given way of life in a country is the energy used in that country minus the energy used to create the goods that it exports, plus the energy used in foreign countries to create and transport the goods that it imports.

    I don’t think that metric is available anywhere.

  15. I don’t know whether to be elated or saddened by this. The goal of eliminating poverty in the world is within reach, but there’s a certain element who want to prevent this. I can remember a conversation with a green activist a few years back on the UTas campus. He was so proud of having been instrumental in preventing a dam being built in the 3rd world that would have provided clean water and affordable energy for a desperately poor community. His response: they are used to it!

  16. Hi Willis,

    Perhaps we should look in the future when we will have about 9-10 Billion people, which is quite a lock considering the number of people on earth now and their age distribution, and the U.N medium prognosis for 2100.
    (This is obviously only right if no major catastrophy will wipe out a large number of people, but i hope this will not happen)

    So we have about 3.2 Billion additional people and get about 8800 MTOE addidionaly per year at that level of consumption giving in total 29500 MTOE/yr, about 2,56 of the present rate.

    BTW: As large parts of the population live in hotter regions where cooling will be a main cause for energy consumption and their need for it grows and shrinks with daily solar irradiation PV-Energy should work out well. But lets not cherry pick, it just would be nice to develop a simple speculative scenario. Time to fire up a spreadsheet….

  17. @ Energetic

    The prognostication for future population is predicated on keeping the poor impoverished. It is quite clear that improved standard of living (i.e. affordable energy) leads to a lower birthrate.

  18. Surely you are joking Mister Eschenbach. I live in South Africa where grinding poverty is still the norm yet you say that we are better off than Italy or Spain. Why don’t you perform some basic reality checks before you indulge in far-flown speculation?

  19. Actually we have hundreds of years of fossil fuels left. There are MASSIVE oil reserves in Alaska/canada discovered in recent years and untapped.

  20. Putting aside naturally occuring “fossil fuels”, the nuclear folks can generate enough electricity to manufacture all the hydrocarbons needed while producing, um, electricity for things like water pumps, filtration systems, iPhones, etc. And they can do it economically. Even France.

    Call this “the final solution” since, with human ingenuity, we can/will build thorium reactors which means we would have a few billion years of fuel. Billions of years.

  21. Willis:

    Thankyou for your excellent essay.

    I write to support your argument by – hopefully – clarifying some issues which have arisen in the thread.

    Before doing that I state that in my view this is the major moral issue of our age: as you say

    the world’s poor people are starving and dying for lack of cheap energy today. Driving the price of energy up and denying loans for coal-fired power plants is depriving the poor of cheap energy today, on the basis that it may help their grandchildren in fifty years. That is criminal madness. The result of any policy that increases energy prices is more pain and suffering. Rich people living in industrialized nations should be ashamed of proposing such an inhumane way to fight the dangers of CO2, regardless of whether those dangers are imaginary or real.

    My points of clarification are as follows.

    1. Reserves and resources

    A reserve of a mineral (e.g. stone, metal ore, coal, crude oil, etc.) is the known amount of the mineral which can be obtained at economic cost using existing technology.

    A resource of a mineral is the estimated amount of the mineral which can be obtained using existing or imagined technology.

    Reserves usually INCREASE as resources are depleted.
    This is because the value of a mineral is affected by its availability.
    To understand this, please consider the simplified case of 3 men who each own a field which contains diamonds.
    Man A has one diamond on the surface of his field.
    Man B has 10 diamonds 10 meters below the surface of his field.
    Man C has 100 diamonds 100 meters below the surface of his field.
    The resource is 111 diamonds (i.e. 1+10+100 diamonds) but the reserve is only one diamond.
    Man A can find and obtain his diamond at much cheaper cost than Man B and Man C can find and obtain theirs. So, Man A can undercut the price for a diamond demanded by the others.

    Then Man A sells his diamond.
    The reserve then increases to 10 diamonds because Man B can now undercut Man C, but the resource reduces to 110 diamonds. Also, the cost and price of diamonds increases.

    Then Man B sells his diamond.
    The reserve then increases to 100 diamonds but the resource reduces to 100 diamonds.
    This, of course, assumes that the need for diamonds is such that there is no alternative to paying the cost of Man C to obtain his diamonds. Diamonds from somewhere else or an alternative to diamonds may be cheaper, and – in that case – the alternatives become the reserves.

    2. Limits to minimum magnitude of reserves

    People do not pay to find more reserves when they have the reserves they need.
    This is why oil reserves were equivalent to ~40 years of supply throughout the twentieth century and will be at least ~40 years of supply throughout this century. Oil companies have a maximum planning horizon of ~40 years so pay for more oil to be found if they have less reserves than needed for the next ~40 years. But they do not pay to find more reserves when they have enough.

    2. Limits to growth imposed by the finite nature of resources (aka Peak Oil)

    In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite. This also is a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

    Humans do not run out of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

    A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to the resource when it is cheap.

    But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
    (a) alternative sources of the resource
    and
    (b) alternatives to the resource.

    And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

    Both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

    Many alternative sources for crude oil have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

    In your above article, Willis, you say

    nothing prevents us from using a venerable process for converting coal into gasoline but price — the general availability of cheaper gasoline produced directly by refining crude oil.

    That “venerable process” would be the century-old Fischer-Tropsch process which has been developed into the SASOL process in South Africa. The existing price constraint on crude oil is the Liquid Solvent Extraction (LSE) process for coal into oil. We proved the LSE technology both practically and economically with a demonstration plant at Point of Ayr, Wales, in the early 1990s. (There are several papers on LSE in the public domain and UNESCO commissioned one on it from me when I was the Senior Material Scientist at the UK’s Coal Research Establishment where we devised and developed LSE. But the UK government owns some important technical details of it.)

    Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    I hope these details assist understanding of your very fine essay.

    Richard

    PS The link to “the live version at Gapminder” does not work at least for me.

    [FIXED. Thanks, -w.]

  22. FYI, Hans Rosling, the Swedish scientist who developed Gapminder, is a hard-core AGW believer and following him on Twitter is a painful experience. No doubt in his mind that Carbon is a poison and that non AGW Church-goers are horrible big-oil supported, flat-earthers. What a shame.

  23. If our ancestors 200 years ago had stopped mining coal in case it ran out, or stopped building railways and factories because of increasing GHG, where would we be now?

    Still living the same short, brutish lives they had then.

  24. Steven Mosher says:
    August 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Interesting Video. It exactly reflects my view on how things ought to unfold however I noticed he mentioned he was trying to achieve it in 4 years and that there was a date on one of the documents of 2010. So I’m thinking he has only a year or so left to succeed. Good luck to him on that.

  25. Just adding some additional examples for the commentary on reserve figures which other posters have already done well:

    Tin, copper, iron, lead, and zinc all had both production from 1950 to 2000 and reserves in 2000 much exceed world reserves in 1950, which would be impossible except for how “proved reserves are like an inventory of cars to an auto dealer” at a time, having little relationship to the actual total affordable to extract in the future.[59]

    (where reference 59 is http://books.google.com/books?id=yIbH4R77OtMC&pg=PA730%7COnline )

  26. The truth is that ifd we let poorer nations develop they will have more political and financial power in the world. It’s all about greed, but then again why should we give power to others so willingly? Like Apple and Microsoft, nations use monopolised world market for their advantage because they got there first. Let’s also not forget that many of those undeveloped nations are unstable, often with ideology that is contrary to our own.

    Ideally every person in the world should have access to cheap energy, but the end result might be more destabilising to the world than we’d like to believe. Ultimately the choice is whether we should put faith in the status quo or nature of mankind, and to be honest, judging from our past and present actions as human beings, I’d rather put faith in the status quo.

  27. Great analysis. Period. :-)

    Doesn’t mean that anthropogenic global warming goes away, though: if anything, it actually appears, with a vengeance. Waste heat becomes the key problem of civilization to be solved! If we had inexpensive and simple nuclear fusion tomorrow and raised everyone’s energy consumption within a generation to that of the US, the real problem would be heat transfer: heat generated by transmission losses; heat generated by air conditioners (which, after all, simply remove the heat in a cooled room by pumping it outside); the list can be easily extended.

    One aspect that Larry Niven, the science fiction writer, pointed out in his novel “Ringworld” is that for any seriously advanced civilization, heat becomes the primary source of “pollution”.
    In Niven’s world (which is not the Ringworld, but rather the Kemplerer Rosette of the Puppeteer’s home world) solves the problem by moving the plant out from the sun to reduce irradiation effects and use the heat generated by trillions of Pierson’s puppeteers (they like each other’s company, the more the merrier) on five planets to prevent the planets from freezing.

    But that’s ultimately an engineering solution that merely has to be implemented, n’est pas? :-)

  28. The energy deprivers forget that with development comes a reduction of birth rate due to improved child mortality rates. So energy would last longer than your calculations.

    Another thing that must be stopped is growing food crops for fuel. This increased food costs by at least 70% but affected third world peoples far more that any.

  29. rgbatduke:

    I agree with much that you say in your post at August 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396823

    but I write to dispute the technical feasibility of one suggestion and the desirability of one assertion which you make.

    The suggestion is in this long sentence.

    If (say) high temperature superconducting transmission lines are discovered/invented that facilitate the transport of electrical energy distances on the order of 10,000 miles with minimal loss, and/or high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage is ever worked out (say zinc oxide batteries are eventually developed that have charged energy densities that are roughly comparable to gasoline) it would both permit the eking out of “fossile” resources (carbon, Uranium and Thorium) to “indefinitely long” and could even serve as the basis for a truly steady state civilization, which I believe should be our long term goal regardless of greenhouse issues.

    A “high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage” has great – and appealing – benefits. It is often expressed as a desire by advocates of intermittent energy supply systems (e.g. windfarms) because such energy storage would make intermittent electricity supplies useful to an electricity grid. More importantly, a “high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage” device would reduce need for power stations by about a third because it could store energy at times of low electricity demand for use at times of high electricity demand.

    The problem is safety.
    A fuel is an energy store that releases the energy in a controllable manner. Burn a kilo of coal and a kilo of gelignite and the coal releases more energy than the gelignite, but the gelignite burns faster.

    A facility for “high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage” would provide a very high risk. For example, on a typical day the UK generates electricity equivalent to 30 Hiroshima A-bombs. Assume the facility stores a third of this and it would be storing the energy equivalent of 10 Hiroshima A-bombs. Unintended release of that energy would be a devastating disaster.

    Few people would want to live near such a facility.

    And you assert

    It would be a whole lot easier to establish a stable and sustainable global civilization with a billion humans than it is or will be with 7+ billion humans. OTOH, I’m not quite ready to go out there and pick 6+ billion humans to be “culled”.

    I don’t want a “stable and sustainable global civilization”.
    I want a growing civilisation with many varieties that provide human developments of population, wealth in all its forms, diversity, colonisation of all the Earth and elsewhere, the arts, the sciences, politics, philosophy and religion.

    Richard

  30. Willis.
    First I agree that everyone on the planet should live at a decent level. And I’d further point out that whether they do or not is their choice and is not something within the control of the folks in the developed world who control the dialog. In my view China, India, Africa and Latin America will actually be doing the driving. The currently developed world is just along for the ride

    That said, I’m pretty sure your math is wrong. My cocktail napkin says 1 billion folks in the developed world use about 400,000 btu each per day. 6 billion elsewhere use about 100,000 btu each. A reasonably decent lifestyle probably requires at least 300,000 btu for each person except for a few eccentrics who choose to live on less. That puts current energy usage at 10^15 btu and end of century energy usage around 3×10^15 btu. Closer to 200% than 80%. And it does require Americans and a few others to conserve a bit. Higher energy costs will take care of that I should think. (I project unending whining and finger pointing, but little actual hardship).

    And no, there probably is not enough petroleum to support that. Some here think otherwise. Sorry folks. Get a grip on reality. You aren’t paying $100 bucks a barrel for crude because we’re wading in the stuff. Or because the evil oil companies are jacking the price up. (Well, OK, maybe a little, but not THAT much). BUT, there looks to easily be enough total fossil fuel — especially natural gas — to get humanity through this century. Someday — maybe 2100 — maybe 2400 we’ll have to move on. But nuclear (fission,fusion or both) and solar plus a little hydro and some wind and some other minor stuff should be more than adequate. If we keep breeding indiscriminately, I expect we’ll run out of resources to grow food before we run out of energy.

  31. Actually, it’s the advancements in medicine and implementation of advanced medicine that lowers birth rates, but first it lowers infancy deaths, causing great suffering to families with many children and no means for providing for them. That creates dependancy on aid. It also increases life expectancy, increasing the problem even further.

    Lower birth rates tend to fall after a generation or two of great strife. I’m not saying the alternative – the status quo is better, but in regions where arable land is in great contention, when famines can appear with relatively little warning, and with local energy problems still unresolved, a population boom can create great strife indeed.

  32. Wu:

    I write to draw attention to your post at August 22, 2013 at 3:10 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396899

    It is a clear statement of the fear which encourages you and others to want the poor to be kept poor; i.e. why you say you want the status quo.

    Thankyou. This discussion needed such an explanation of WHY, in the words of Willis’ article

    Lots of folks claim that the worst possible thing we could do is to allow the third world to actually develop to the level of the industrialized nations.

    Richard

  33. Nick Stokes says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:35 am
    —————————————————-
    Forget the candles, fear the sunlight Nick, and pray. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. On September 7 Australia is letting the sunlight in. You and yours at CSIRO are finished. ACORN? Tmin exceeding Tmax in over 160 records? Forensic accountants call that clipping. You are not going to walk this one off. Not now, not ever.

    September 14 was going to be whacking day, but sadly the mendacious bovine has had her rubenesque posterior kicked from office. His exulted Kruddulence is once again temporarily warming the seat. So now September 7 is weasel stomping day.

    Like many Australians I have had to cast aside my Louisville Slugger Voters Special engraved with Gillards name. No matter, I have golf shoes. Were you hoping the stomping will stop with the end of the carbon tax Nick? Well, forget it. The stomping won’t stop until every pseudo scientist, activist, journalist or politician who ever supported the inane idea that adding radiative gases to the atmosphere would reduce the atmospheres radiative cooling ability is driven from public life. This is the age of the Internet. What you and yours have done is forever.

    PS. I blame Willis for the rant, he did say something about doubling the burn rate. ;)

  34. Wu:

    At August 22, 2013 at 3:20 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396909

    you assert

    Actually, it’s the advancements in medicine and implementation of advanced medicine that lowers birth rates, but first it lowers infancy deaths, causing great suffering to families with many children and no means for providing for them.

    There many reasons why wealth reduces birth rates and “medicine” is a minor one.

    The major reason why the poor have high birth rates is that having children provides a supply of care (from the offspring) at times of illness, infirmity and old-age. Children are a necessary insurance.

    Wealth provides the possibility to purchase care at times of illness, infirmity and old-age: the insurance provided by many children is not needed.

    Richard

  35. Kurt Myrhagen says:
    August 22, 2013 at 2:41 am
    FYI, Hans Rosling, the Swedish scientist who developed Gapminder, is a hard-core AGW believer…
    ###########

    That’s ironic. Given this presentation, you would think he would be an advocate of burn-baby-burn:

  36. Great article! The conflict between the AGW scare and the struggle to bring developing countries up to a good standard of living is extremely important, and most warmists are amazingly ignorant of the dilemma. The warmists like to talk about “wealth transfer” to the poor parts of the world, but if you actually do what many of them wish for: quickly curb CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by international agreements that dramatically reduce fossil fuel production, of course the poorest will be hit first – since the immediate consequence will be a massive price hike!

  37. The energy vs GDP curve has been well known for a long time; albeit in black and white.

    A nice, 3-D view with the historic trends for countries might illustrate how declining/increasing energy use impacts GDP within e.g. the G20 countries.

  38. It was primarily high infant mortality rate that made having many kids sense. When those children stop dying, the need for having many children passes. The other reasons you supply are bound to what I said – there’s a need for fewer children to achive those goals, i.e. old-age security.

    The problem arises when cultures are slow to change, or when there’s enough food (like in India or through long-term food aid) and it’s possible to feed the children, but through severe poverty. It’s a dangerous, short-sighted and greedy way to behave as parents, but it still happens today despite the medicines. The goal there is to create as many children as possible so that at least 1 will be able to get into university and provide for the family. This culture has to change. However, I’d rather talk about more rational families who do not cling to their old ways or are highly irresponsible. Irresponsible because of the damaging childhood, and also high to certain possibility of starvation when the bread winner of the family cannot “win” food anymore.

    Richard

    I don’t want to keep the poor poor, however I am thinking pragmatically here. There’s always been a fight to do what’s right and what’s best. The deeper one thinks, the further these two trains of thought seperate. The problem arises when greed enters the mix. In terms of world development I think greed has always been there, and it’s hard to be rid of it. It’s also easy to fool oneself that actions are alturistic even when profits come pouring in. The higher profit the bigger the delusion.

    However there is a need for foresight here. Alarmists keep harping on about our children and our childrens’ children. Well our grandchildren might have to contend with powerful warlords if we’re not careful. It might happen or it might not happen, but we must consider all possibilities. It would be highly irresponsible not to.

  39. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:37 am

    The major reason why the poor have high birth rates is that having children provides a supply of care (from the offspring) at times of illness, infirmity and old-age. Children are a necessary insurance.
    ============================================
    A lot of folks think that and it might be true in parts of East Asia except China where the One Child policy was imposed in 1980. But I suspect the real reasons for lower birth rates in developed countries are better access to effective birth control and the fact that as countries develop, even rural families are increasingly part of the cash economy. In a cash economy, the question of “Can we afford to raise a(nother) child?” becomes increasingly significant.

  40. @Steven Mosher
    I got as far as “Look at where the US is, we’re terrible!” (delivered with requisite smugness) before I gave up. I didn’t know or care who the lecturer was, but should I? It was quickly clear that he cherry picked a bunch of factors regarding energy use and GDP, assumed an over-simplistic linear relationship between them, then extrapolated everything to the year X (is he a climate ‘scientist’?) This done to support a trendy but sickeningly patronising and potentially damaging (from the point of view of the poor) world view beloved of self styled progressives and neo-Malthusians. As soon as I hear this kind of self-flagellating anti-US, anti development, population control bleating, the red flags go up and the eyes roll. Yes, there may be a case for population control, but it should be as a response to a real threat, not one fabricated through the statistical games of a bunch of over-privileged narcissists, fuelled by a misguided sense of heroism and a desire to play Cassandra.

    What is still terrible about the USA is the divide between rich and poor; the fact that despite having the amongst the highest standards of living of any country in the world, a great many people continue to live below the poverty line. However, this can be said of any developed country. The US, through it’s “terrible” energy usage has at least managed to raise the standard of living of the majority of its population above subsistence level, which is, I believe, one of Willis’s points. He uses real, current figures, not baseless projections fuelled by a desire to attain the appearance of moral superiority, to support his vision of a possible (and more hopeful future). RGB, later on in these comments makes some excellent points about the sustainability of current energy consumption which tie in to Willis’s viewpoint, plus I didn’t have to sit through quarter of an hour of dull lecture by some bearded smart arse to absorb them.

    I could be wrong, but I get the sense that by posting a video without any summary or comment is another case of hit and run snideness. What point are you trying to make on Willis’s presentation exactly? If you have anything to say, can’t you say it yourself? It would far more interesting.

    J Burns.

  41. @richardscourtney:

    A facility for “high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage” would provide a very high risk. For example, on a typical day the UK generates electricity equivalent to 30 Hiroshima A-bombs. Assume the facility stores a third of this and it would be storing the energy equivalent of 10 Hiroshima A-bombs. Unintended release of that energy would be a devastating disaster.

    Few people would want to live near such a facility.

    Why assume that all that energy would be stored in one place? The combined energy stored in petrol tanks across the UK is probably a few Hiroshimas as well, but no disaster there. Assuming RGB’s transmission problems are solved, couldn’t energy be stored in cells where it is needed?

  42. JJB MKI writes “I got as far as “Look at where the US is, we’re terrible!” (delivered with requisite smugness) before I gave up.”

    and then…

    “I could be wrong, but I get the sense that by posting a video without any summary or comment is another case of hit and run snideness. What point are you trying to make on Willis’s presentation exactly?”

    Well you only got about 10 mins into the 78min presentation so at least you acknowledge you could have been wrong…which indeed you were. His presentation fwiw is very much on topic.

  43. Energetic (@1:10) brought up a good point that there will be as many as 3.2 billion more people on earth by 2100 (actually, demographers say by 2050, but the newborns won’t be full-fledged energy consumers by 2100). So Willis’ estimate of an energy demand increase of 80% is probably low, possibly by a factor of 2.

    Don K.(@ 3:18) also brought up the point that oil @ $100/barrel is at that price because the world demands oil and that’s the market price at current demand. But he alludes to the fact that higher prices will bring on-board more energy from a bunch of competing sources. I believe he underestimates the massive volumes of energy that will be recoverable from a multitude of energy sources as prices gradually increase with growing energy demand. The amount of energy from nuclear, fracked gas/oil and methane clathrates alone are mind-boggling. Those huge energy resources will essentially put a lid on how high and how fast energy costs will increase in the near and distant future. Basically, we will never run out of energy sufficient to provide for a comfortable existence for the entire world’s population.

  44. The map shows Canada with one of the highest energy uses per capita. There are some conventional explanations of this but it is instructive to look at a similar map of Canada itself.
    link The differences within Canada were interesting. It drew two possible conclusions:

    1 – Urban areas use less energy per capita than less densely settled areas. link

    2 – Areas that produce energy have high per capita energy use. On Willis’ map the heaviest energy users were Kuwait and the UAE. On the Canada map, the heaviest energy users were in Alberta.

    Given that much of the third world is heavily urbanized, it is reasonable to extrapolate that their prosperous energy use will be much closer to Spain or Italy than to the US of A.

    Bottom line: Willis is probably right.

  45. @TimtheToolMan

    Okay, I might have been a bit too impatient and ready to cast judgement – I’ll watch the whole video later. Perhaps you’d agree though that an uncritical assumption that high energy usage in the developed world automatically equals ‘terrible’ is a bit irritating, as is the posting of long videos and links with no commentary or summary from the poster?

  46. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:37 am
    Thanks, Richard, for emphasising this point. Outside a few mostly minor religious groups, families tend to get smaller the better-off people are. Increase the standard of living and birth rates drop, like night following day. Simples.

  47. I’m sorry to say this is totally thoughtless comentary.
    No-one wants to see people live in poverty – yet in USA people still do despite cheap energy.
    Who is going to pay for the energy ifrastructure to be built – grid, powerstations etc are not free
    Where is all the water for generating the steam coming from. Most impoverished people do not live near sea or river – France and USA have to turn of neuclear reactors when water is scarce or too hot.
    How are the poor going to pay for the power used – nuclear is about £0.04/kWh. (mainly infrastucture payback costs)
    How are the poor to use the cheap power to improve their lot.
    How are cheap fertilizers and tractors going to cause the still impoverished soils to produce producing potable water from sea water is no problem but getting it to where it is needed is a great problem.

    finally you make this despicable comment:
    “under the above scenario (everyone’s energy usage at least equal to Spain and Italy) we have more than 46 years of fossil fuels left … ask me if I care. I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that, because today we have poor people to feed and clothe”,
    You basically say live now forget the future – unbelievably crass!!!!! and very sad that anyone could think this way.

  48. dp says: @ August 22, 2013 at 12:07 am

    ………Sometimes I think the world needs an annual “Kick the crap out of an elitist day”. If I weren’t a pacifist I’d buy a ticket.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    dp, even pacifist are allowed to kick the crap out of bullies especially the bullies with the blood of innocent babies on their hands. How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis:
    Don’t blame American appetites, rising oil prices, or genetically modified crops for rising food prices. Wall Street’s at fault for the spiraling cost of food.

    Of course the correct way for a pacifist to deal with the problem is to transport these elitists (sans body guards) to the middle of the food riots (And there will be more food riots) and allow nature to take its course.

    For those who have not read Pointman’s wonderful essay The big green killing machine: They sit with God in paradise.

  49. With advances in nuclear power technology, such as breeder reactors, fast reactors, etc,
    the availability of energy is simply not an issue. For example, fast reactors able to burn our nuclear wastes can provide all the electricity we currently consume in the US for the next 1000 years. Even today, uranium fuel costs for current nuclear reactors is trivial – a fraction of a cent per kWhr. And we still have plenty of uranium

  50. Thanks Willis
    Excellent perspective that the poorer countries can be raised up to industrialized countries for a total energy use on the order 21,400 MTOE/year. Then add 1.5%/year for population growth.

    That is a great target to start with to use the fossil fuels we have as “training wheels” while we develop the technology to transition to renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels. The most important challenge is to provide interim liquid fuels.

    For further discussion on energy and caring for the poor I encourage readers to explore the Cornwall Alliance and its articles.

  51. RobertInAz
    You might stand a chance if you at least spellchecked your web pages before posting!
    See Nclear innovaive.

  52. Something else that should be noted is that the per capita fossil fuel usage of the US peaked in 1979, bumped around for a while and began declining steadily in 1999. We are now at the same level of fossil fuel use as in 1962 and have declined 5% since the 2009 data used in this chart. A continuance of that trend would mean less than the 80% increase you calculated.

  53. Gail Combs says:
    August 22, 2013 at 5:16 am

    … For those who have not read Pointman’s wonderful essay …

    It’s a work of fiction. Reality is often nastier. What the essay paints wrong is the supposed cluelessness of the NGO community. Generally they know when they are putting their lives on the line and they do it anyway. As an example: Doctors Without Borders finally withdrew from Somalia only after it became obvious that they could no longer do their job. link

    Pointman’s essay is kind of disgusting.

  54. JJB MKI:

    Thankyou for your post addressed to me at August 22, 2013 at 4:27 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396949

    It quotes from my post at August 22, 2013 at 3:17 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396904

    Where I said

    A facility for “high capacity high efficiency multicycle energy storage” would provide a very high risk. For example, on a typical day the UK generates electricity equivalent to 30 Hiroshima A-bombs. Assume the facility stores a third of this and it would be storing the energy equivalent of 10 Hiroshima A-bombs. Unintended release of that energy would be a devastating disaster.

    Few people would want to live near such a facility.

    Then asks me

    Why assume that all that energy would be stored in one place? The combined energy stored in petrol tanks across the UK is probably a few Hiroshimas as well, but no disaster there. Assuming RGB’s transmission problems are solved, couldn’t energy be stored in cells where it is needed?

    I answer, there are two issues.

    Please consider what I said about the nature of fuels in my post you query; i.e.

    The problem is safety.
    A fuel is an energy store that releases the energy in a controllable manner. Burn a kilo of coal and a kilo of gelignite and the coal releases more energy than the gelignite, but the gelignite burns faster.

    It is important that the energy release is slow and controllable. A recent train crash in Canada demonstrates that even for oil there is a risk when the energy is accidentally released.

    It is hard to see how the unintended release of any proposed energy storage system could be as slow as burning oil (the burning rate is limited by oxygen access to the burning fuel which releases combustion products). Even relatively small electricity storage facilities would provide potential for explosion.

    However, assuming technology and cost considerations do not prevent it then, to some degree the energy could be stored in cells where it is needed and in sufficiently small stores for the safety risk to be negligible.

    For example, small and cheap “cells” may be useful for domestic consumers. They could accumulate e.g. solar power by day, store some, then use the store at night. Whether this could be truly economic is moot. However, if it were economic then it would not avoid the problem concerning large electricity users.

    For example, the Alcan aluminium smelter alone consumed between 7% and 10% of total UK electricity generation. It was closed – it was claimed – because of AGW fears. In fact the closure has deferred the UK’s imminent electricity shortage while the UK still needs aluminium so the AGW emissions have merely been exported.

    The economics of a distributed facility for large electricity storage useful at industrial scale are very, very unlikely to be surmountable (at least not for the foreseeable future). But the big benefits of such storage are from the needs of industry and not domestic consumers.

    I hope this is sufficient answer to your question.

    Richard

  55. JJB MKI writes “Perhaps you’d agree though that an uncritical assumption that high energy usage in the developed world automatically equals ‘terrible’ is a bit irritating, as is the posting of long videos and links with no commentary or summary from the poster?”

    That’s (often) Mosher’s MO.

  56. So why has Obama chosen to lead on a path of failure than to lead on a path of world wide success.

  57. Willis, you are making the same mistake that all people, who do not understand what peak oil is about, make. Peak oil is not about what’s left in the ground, never has been. Peak oil is about the rate of extraction of that oil. An 80% increase in oil consumption would mean an 80% increase in extraction rate. The current rate of oil extraction is about 85bb/yr. 80% increases that to 156bb/yr.

    Oil producing countries are struggling to get that 85bb/yr, which hasnt changed since 2005. If there was room to increase oil production, we would have seen in within the last 8 years.

    Sure, some deposits are slowly increasing, but it’s slowly. And it’s barely keeping up with declines elsewhere.

    The other mistake made here is that oil use is not linear to standard of living increase. The higher the standard of living, the disproportionately more oil is needed. The reason for this is because the amount of maintenance and repairs goes up disproportionately as society advances (more old things to keep running).

    Lastly, more difficult deposits require disproportionately more energy to extract (ERoEI). Increased production suffers from the Red Queen Principle and the Energy Trap.

  58. Henry Clark says: @ August 22, 2013 at 12:08 am

    ….The global warming excuse for trying to stop such will further flounder once substantial global cooling occurs in coming decades…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    M Simon comment @ Pointman’s sums it up nicely.

    My conclusion:

    I have been hungry like that. It turns the brain to murder. Casual murder. I resisted the impulse. But I learned something. Civilization depends on regular eats. And regular eats these days depends on energy.

    God help us (no he won’t) if regular hunger comes to America.

    And just what will happen when we have a real return to a cooler climate? Especially when the farmers are told the climate is warming and more important the SEED companies BELIEVE the propaganda. A few years ago the weather in NC hiccuped and all the Abrussi rye that was planted early died. Farmers wanted to replant but you could not get seed no where no how. If I recall correctly the response time for a change in variety is about three years or more.

    And to make it even more nasty the EPA considered tightening regulation of farm dust. We dodged that bullet for five years. …if the PM standard had been tightened, “it would have been virtually impossible for current agricultural operations to demonstrate compliance, subjecting them to fines under the CAA of up to $37,500 per day” noted NCBA. McDonald added that NCBA will continue to fight EPA’s dust standard until legislation is passed by Congress that gives cattle producers permanent relief from dust regulations.

    Then there is the Strategic Grain Reserve:
    Want Food Security? Bring Back a National Grain Reserve
    At the request of the international grain traders the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act abolished our national system of holding grain in reserve. Not surprisingly the bill was written by the VP of Cargill, Dan Amstutz. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, also written by Amstutz and this law were so successful in diverting gobs of money into the pockets of Big AG, they rewarded him with establishing the “Dan Amstutz Award”

    The Amstutz Award is given by the North American Export Grain Association in honor of Dan Amstutz and in recognition of his outstanding and extraordinary service to the export grain and oilseed trade from the United States. Appropriately, the first recipient of this distinguished service award was Mr. Amstutz… http://naega.org/?page_id=301

    The BIOFUEL LAW:
    …. there were real warnings about possible starvation as a consequence of the law Sarasohn refers to [the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 ].

    The possible consequences were clearly communicated in a Senate briefing a week before initial passage of the Senate bill and 6 months before final approval of the final House-Senate bill.

    Here’s a bit from a June 13, 2007 Senate briefing given by Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute:

    The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying nearly 70 percent of the world’s corn imports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some 55 million tons account for nearly one fourth of world grain exports. The corn harvest of Iowa alone exceeds the entire grain harvest of Canada. Substantially reducing this export flow would send shock waves throughout the world economy.

    In six of the last seven years, total world grain production has fallen short of use. As a result, world carryover stocks of grain have been drawn down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. (See Data.)

    Worse what happens if you remove oil energy from farming?
    In 1930 one American farmer supplied 9.8 persons.
    In 1849 -mixed chemical fertilizers sold commercially. By 1930 The use of hybrid-seed corn was becoming common in the Corn Belt. The change from horses to tractors was from 1945-70. By 1890 most of the basic potentialities of agricultural machinery that was dependent on horsepower had been discovered.

    By 1970 one farmer supplied 75.8 persons. This is dependent on chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and TRACTORS, all of which depend on OIL. GMO crops are no better than hybrid. It is only that they allow the use of herbicides to kill the competition that gives them an advantage. link

    “We are Hungry!” A Summary Report of Food Riots, Government Responses… in 2008

    5 January 2011 World food prices at fresh high, says UN: Global food prices rose to a fresh high in December… Its Food Price Index went above the previous record of 2008 that saw prices spark riots in several countries…

    Messing with the world food supply is not only stupid but DEADLY and that is exactly what big Ag/WTO is doing.

    Bill Clinton Admits Global Free Trade Policy has Forced Millions Of People into Poverty (old 2008 link)

    Former US president Bill Clinton admits that the US `free trade’ policy has forced millions of people in third world countries into poverty and starvation.

    “Today’s global food crisis shows we all blew it, including me when I was president, by treating food crops as commodities instead of as a vital right of the world’s poor”, Bill Clinton has told a UN gathering.

    Clinton took aim at decades of international policymaking by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others, encouraged by the US, that pressured Africans in particular into dropping government subsidies for fertiliser, improved seed and other farm inputs, in economic “structural adjustments” required to win northern aid. Africa’s food self-sufficiency subsequently declined and food imports rose.

    “Food is not a commodity like others,” Clinton said. “We should go back to a policy of maximum food self-sufficiency. It is crazy for us to think we can develop countries around the world without increasing their ability to feed themselves.”

    World-renowned environmental leader, food-sovereignty activist and author Dr Vandana Shiva agrees with Clinton and in this video takes aim at the IMF and World bank over the same issues.

  59. commieBob says:
    August 22, 2013 at 5:01 am
    … On the Canada map, the heaviest energy users were in Alberta.
    =====================================
    Two things:
    1. Home heating requires a surprising amount of energy. The US devotes twice as much energy to heating buildings as it does to cooling them. Alberta is both cold (albeit not as cold as the Arctic or Manitoba), and not terribly urban which suggests the residents have more square feet of housing to heat per Albertan than do folks in Toronto or Montreal.
    2. Energy extraction requires a lot of energy investment compared to most other human activities (other than refining metals).

  60. “Areas that produce energy have high per capita energy use. On Willis’ map the heaviest energy users were Kuwait and the UAE. On the Canada map, the heaviest energy users were in Alberta.”

    And the reason why is simple. It takes a lot of energy to develop the oil sands. ERoEI is around 8:1 (Conventional oil fields is 100:1, world average today is around 24:1). That high energy use in Alberta is a prime example of the Energy Trap.

  61. “….all that we need is a bit more than 80% more energy. “

    Maybe not even that. Many of the poorest countries are much warmer and brighter than Italy and Spain. Less heating and light (more AC though) etc. Also many of these countries are well placed for domestic solar (we just need priced to come down some more). Kenya is tapping well into it’s geothermal I hear. Also there are energy efficiencies continually being made with electrical gadgets and machinery. Just my 2 cents.

    The result of any policy that increases energy prices is more pain and suffering. Rich people living in industrialized nations should be ashamed of proposing such an inhumane way to fight the dangers of CO2,…..

    Willis and I have both lived in impoverished countries. We know what it’s like when power goes out in the early evening – yet we are both probably better off that those relying on $2 a day. They hypocrisy of those with access to energy makes me very angry. Electricity for me but not for thee. 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity.

  62. Ooops!
    The hypocrisy…..”

    Please note I am not lumping ALL those with access to electricity. I am talking about Warmists who have access yet want the rest to use even less of very little or to have none at all. I hear some biog financial institutions and the US govt. are now blocking funding for coal powered stations for developing countries.

  63. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Expanding on what JJB MKI said at 4:27 am
    The ideal use for high capacity high cycle storage is in conjunction with current transformer yards that are diffused about most metropolitan areas. Not only would they be much smaller then those “multiple Hiroshima’s”, but they could be constructed in a manner with a below ground base profile and blast deflectors to make sure if one did go catastrophically, it would send the blast vertically through the atmosphere. (OK it may be a problem if it is below a commercial flight path and a plane is unfortunate enough to be passing overhead when one goes). If they can be made in even smaller capacities they could be placed with the current home service transformers that step the voltage (in the US) down to 120VAC for supply of one to about a dozen homes. Diffusing the storage in this way makes sure that the chance for catastrophe and mushroom clouds expressed by some people would never happen. Finally, the design of such a device, using modern engineering practice, would be such that the failure modes would be controlled in such a way that critical energy bleed would occur in a safe manner. Engineers don’t put their names on designs prone to catastrophic explosion unless they are in the military weapons design business.

  64. A “Manhattan Project” for fusion energy is what we need. Fund it, set goals and demand results. Maybe it needs to be turned over to the military and someone like General Groves who wasn’t an academic and demanded actual results. A couple of decades of pushing could turn this planet into a paradise and get us off this rock and out into the solar system.

  65. Excellent discussion, Willis. You can’t handle everything in a brief essay, but it’s interesting to think about how changes in price will affect energy use in the poorer countries. Inevitably, fossil fuels will become more expensive with greater use, slowing down the development you advocate. This will encourage conservation, which should appeal to the greens, and it should also spur innovation, but too great an increase in price could make it very hard for the indigent to get enough fuel. It’s probably foolish to try to make a numerical estimate of price increases because it is impossible to predict the schedule of inventions of alternative energy sources. In any case, the question of price raises the question: as between increasing availability of fuel or increasing wealth, which is the initial driver of the process you advocate. My guess is that the quickest route is for the poorer nations to adopt policies to make themselves rich.

    As to the fear of others here that using fossil fuel now robs from our grandchildren, here’s a challenge. Try to state the energy use policy that preserves fossil fuel on earth for the next billion years. The answer would have to be vanishingly close to zero usage, which is not going to happen. So plans for the future must envisage ultimately turning to alternative energy sources.

  66. “Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today.”

    Bad analogy. Hay is grown every year, thus there is a new crop every year. Oil doesnt grow every year, it’s a one time deposit never to replenish for our consumption.

    Peak oil is about extraction rates, not how much is still in the ground. Doesnt matter that reserves are increasing, it matters how fast it takes to get it out. Using your diamond example, Person A can supply the demand, maybe even Person B, but Person C may have the reserve, but it takes him more time to extract it. And if the required demand is higher than Person C can physically extract it, society is in trouble. Someone does without, and the price soars because demand is higher than production. Doesnt matter if Person C has a 300 years of diamonds.

  67. “A “Manhattan Project” for fusion energy is what we need. ”

    There are fundemental barriers to fusion. We are better off going to Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, a technology that works but was shelved in the 1960’s China, India and Japan are moving in that direction. We indeed have at least 1000 years of Thorium power.

  68. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 6:35 am
    ========================================
    You’re correct about peak oil being about extraction rates (although it’s also about how much is left). But the argument that the 85 mbpd has been limited by supply ignores the fact that there has been a great deal of demand destruction after 2007. Even if more oil could be produced, it couldn’t be sold. If you check, you’ll see a similar plateau in US oil production during the great depression.

    That said, even the sunniest optimists don’t see infinite oil. I think the EIA (or was it the IEA?) once had the peak around 2030 at something over 110 mbpd. And that’s way on the high side.

    But remember that other fossil fuels can replace petroleum in many applications. US homeowners are slowly phasing out fuel oil for home heating and replacing it with natural gas. Iran and Pakistan have a lot of natural gas fueled vehicles. Fuel substitution is a slow process because it requires infrastructure investment. Joe homeowner doesn’t switch to gas until the repairman shakes his head and says “This oil burner is on it’s last legs. You better think about replacing it” My guess is that over the next few decades US energy use will go from 40% petroleum to 20% and natural gas will go from 20% to 40%. (And, yes, I’m wrong sometimes).

    And I think you’re incorrect about higher standards of living necessarily requiring more petroleum. In point of fact the principle inflexible use of petroleum is transportation and the cars in my driveway get twice the gas mileage of the cars we were driving 5 decades ago when I graduated from college — despite have many energy gulping features like air conditioning and automatic transmissions.

    EREOI? Well, a low EREOI is hardly a desirable feature, and it decreases the effective size of the resource. But the idea that it somehow limits resource availability makes no more sense to me than the notion that the greenhouse effect can’t heat the planet.

  69. thomaswfuller2 says:
    August 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

    You know I sympathize with you Willis, but the population is growing (slowly and the rate of growth is slowing down) and they ain’t gonna stop at the level of Spain or Italy.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The reason the population grows in third world countries is because of CHILD LABOR. Cheap energy replaces that child labor and families no longer see children as adding to the family income. In first world countries children are a substantial drain on the family’s purse not free farming labor… or worse.

    …Human trafficking and child labor have become increasingly prevalent in Iran, which according to reports is now one of the worst offenders of children rights in the world. The Iranian government has done little to resolve this issue, and has in fact been implicated in human trafficking and the exploitation of children.

    Historically low income families with multiple children within Iran have viewed their offspring as a source of labor and income for the family. The existing child labor laws in Iran, and the lack of societal support and advocacy for the rights of children have created a climate where children are commonly subject to abuse and exploitation.

    According to recent statistics, as many as 3 million or 22% of Iranian children under the age of 18 are not attending school. At least half of these children (1.5 million) are estimated to be in the work force. This trend not only deprives children of a chance to develop through education, but perpetuates a cycle of poverty and ignorance, leaving millions of children without opportunity or freedom- and damaging society for generations to come.

    According to Iranian children’s rights activist Ali Akbar Esmailpour the issue of child labor in Iran is far worse than reported. ….

    http://www.iranfocus.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&id=27544:forgotten-children-human-trafficking-a-child-labor-in-iran&Itemid=50

    And it is not just Iran An estimated 5.5 million children are victims of human trafficking globally. Everyone, but especially young women, must stay alert when traveling abroad… However you are not going to stop child labor with laws.

    Human Trafficking and Child Labor: Raid of Indian Sweatshop Frees Slaves as Young as 8
    Police and child advocates broke padlocks and busted down doors in a surprise raid of a sweatshop in India, only to find a group of children imprisoned who had been forced to make Christmas decorations.

    The children were kept in rooms approximately six feet by six feet and had been forced to work up to 19-hour days making the decorations, which advocates believe may have been intended to be sold on the cheap in the United States…..

  70. I think that many do not know what is mean to be not poor but lack of money, We have almost daily brown out, and at that moment I charge every day two rechargeable light and give to the neighbor for night because they don’t have have money pay the bill, income for them is 50 to 100 peso per day and the family need also eat. Luckily I can even little help them. South Philippine

  71. Mike Mellor says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:51 am
    Surely you are joking Mister Eschenbach. I live in South Africa where grinding poverty is still the norm yet you say that we are better off than Italy or Spain. Why don’t you perform some basic reality checks before you indulge in far-flown speculation?

    Energy use is only an entry ticket, but an entry ticket it is. One also needs high level of education, which takes time (many decades). Recent heroic efforts to improve education in South Africa (the country spends 20% of its GDP on it) comes after forty years of “bantu education” for blacks and it still has to bear fruit. Illiteracy among adults is ~16%, a rate preposterously higher than in either Italy or Spain (~1%). However, with no ample energy, one can’t even read at night, which leads to nowhere.

  72. “But the argument that the 85 mbpd has been limited by supply ignores the fact that there has been a great deal of demand destruction after 2007. Even if more oil could be produced, it couldn’t be sold. If you check, you’ll see a similar plateau in US oil production during the great depression.”

    Yes, but China and India have been taking up that slack. China is expected to surpass the US in oil consumption some time around 2015. China’s economy is still increasing some 8% per year. Some can argue that that US demand destruction is because of peak oil. Peak oil wont hit every country evenly. Because of the economics of oil, coupled with debt financing of highly indebted nations like the US, some countries will experience peak oil sooner than other countries. Check out the oil situation in Greece. It is no co-incidence that the turmoil in Egypt started not long after that country reached peak production and now has to import oil. Previously, they paid for imported food with oil export money. That is gone, now the country is on the verge of collapse and civil war.

  73. Gross world product (GWP) ~ $8 x 10^13
    What GWP would be at $30,000 per capita: $20.4 x 10^13
    Current Total millions of tons of oil equivalent/yr (MTOE): 11,685
    MTOE needed at $30,000 GDP per capita: 11,685 MTOE x $20.4 / $8 = 29,797: 155% increase.

    However, the current energy use per dollar of GWP is high, since the denser-population countries, whose GDPs are now low, can increase their GDPs with less energy expenditure than, say, Canada, because their transportation costs will be less. Additionally, efficiency increases will continue.

    I’m not concerned.

  74. Nylo says:
    August 22, 2013 at 12:51 am
    /////////////////////////

    Willis

    The point Nylo raises is relevant, but he has not fully extrapolated it.

    The fact is that people living in the developed world have a good quality of life because much of which they buy is produced at cheap rate in developing countries or 3rd world countries or due to the global nature of markets, even if the goods are produced in developed countries, the price of the goods is kept down because of the need to compete with similar goods (may be of inferior quality) produced in the developing countries/3rd world countries.

    The upshot of this is that when those in developing countries/3rd world countries have an annual income of $26,000, it will no longer be possible to produce goods in those countries at a cheap price. This will mean that everything coming into the developed world will become more expensive, and home grown goods will also rise in price since the global market rate for similar goods has risen. This will have a knock on effect on living standards for those living in the developed world. $26,000 will no longer provide an reasonable standard of living indeed, it may well be that each citisen will need to earn at leats $40,000 if not more to enjoy the standard of living that they were enjoying when they had just $26,000pa. this begs the question whether the developed world could afford to increase wages this amount in order to enable their citizens to enjoy the same standard of living that they enjoyed when there was a significant gap between rich (those in developed countries) and poor (those in developing.3rd world countries)..

    Personally i consider it immoral to deprive those in developing countries/3rd world countries the basic comforts of life that we take for granted provided by 24hr per day reliable electricity (I do not know how long this will remain reliable given the push towards renewables) and the benefit we get from industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels.

    i agree with the thrust of your article, but people need to recognise that the developed world enjoys the life style it enjoys because of the gap between it and the poor of the developing/3rd world countries. So if the living standards of those in developing/3rd world countries is to be raised, even if the developed world do not cut down on its energy use, living standards in the developed world will inevitably fall since I do not see how the developed world could increase its GDP by more than 50% which would be needed if it is to keep its standard of living. .

  75. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 7:02 am

    “A “Manhattan Project” for fusion energy is what we need. ”
    There are fundemental barriers to fusion.
    ===========================
    More accurately, there may be fundamental barriers to fusion. The most serious effort – ITER might tell us something in 2020. Or not. Large scale research projects are notorious for not meeting schedules. And even if ITER is on schedule and works, it’ll be a decade until the first prototype of a commercial fusion generating plant comes on line. If it doesn’t self destruct or simply not work.

    Nothing against Thorium technologies (which are really U233 technologies) but they have many — not all, but many — of the same issues as U238 or Pu239 technologies.

    What we really need are nuclear power plants built so that even TEPCO, Entergy, crazed Russian technicians, or a mongolian goatherder can’t do much damage to/with them. I don’t care whether it’s pebble beds, or liquid fluoride, or some sort of idiot proofed boiling water reactor. The world badly needs some sort of guaranteed pretty safe nuclear power.

  76. Mike Mellor says: @ August 22, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Surely you are joking Mister Eschenbach. I live in South Africa where grinding poverty is still the norm yet you say that we are better off than Italy or Spain….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    If you look at the graph South Africa, Italy and Spain are at about the same energy per capita use. You say grinding poverty is still the norm in South Africa. So why would you have a problem with bringing the countries that use less energy than South Africa, where the lives of the people are “Nasty, Brutal and Short” at least up to the level of “grinding poverty” ?

    Personally I would like to see everyone at the level of civilization of Canada Norway and the USA.

  77. “EREOI? Well, a low EREOI is hardly a desirable feature, and it decreases the effective size of the resource. But the idea that it somehow limits resource availability makes no more sense to me than the notion that the greenhouse effect can’t heat the planet.”

    Let me put in into something more understandable. You need 600 cals per day to survive. If you grow or catch your own food you are fine if your supply exceeds 600cals per day. If you need to expend more than 600 cals per day getting your daily requirement you starve to death. ERoEI drives biological evolution. It determines the Carrying Capacity of all populations. ERoEI is the Law of Thermodynamics. Without a positive ERoEI society dies.

  78. { Nick Stokes says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:35 am
    I burn my candle at both ends
    It will not last the night
    But ah, my foes and oh, my friends
    It gives a lovely light. }

    But then I’m wastefull and quite dull as one can plainly see
    For in the darkness of the night I need no light to sleep

    Using foresight I will plan for evening only light
    And purchase candles for the time I need to use my sight

  79. There is one infinite resource not considered here: the mind of man. If left free to function, it can build a technological civilization that spans the globe and reaches into the solar system. How do I know? It already has. Unfortunately, there is a vital resource that has been artificially restricted since the first organized tribe was formed: FREEDOM. Without the freedom to think, discover, know, and act upon that knowledge, the mind cannot function.

    Unfortunately, we have far too many people who have the attitude that “all those people out there doing all those things without permission must be and will be stopped.” These kinds fill our governments, NGOs, and countless so called green advocacy gangs. Uniformly, their motto is “Protecting the future by prohibiting change.” Sadly, the future cannot happen unless there is change so really what they all are striving for is the end of the future.

    Their dirty little secret is that to live by permission is to live as a slave. Thus their goal is even worse than ending the future, it is to make all of us slaves. So much for “It’s for the Children.”

  80. I think there is an amplifier to the energy per capita equation. That’s energy efficiency. By that I mean the amount of economic activity generated per unit of energy used. In the absurd case, you could have an oil producing country set their oil wells on fire and show a high energy usage per capita, so how you use it can be as important as how much. Realistically the higher the technology the more efficiently your energy is going to be used. If you take a 20 yr time frame (one generation) and use today as a baseline, your 2.75 TOE/capita/year will probably raise the standard of living of those raised to that level above that of the present inhabitants of Spain or Italy just because technology will allow more efficient usage of that energy. That’s assuming they or their governments don’t squander that energy. Of course the Spanish and Italy standard of living would have gone up too, even if they didn’t increase their energy usage per capita just because more can be done with the same energy.

  81. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 6:35 am
    ///////////////////

    Whilst I agree with the point that you make about the rate of oil extraction and the unlikelihood that this rate can be significantly raised, you overlook the fact that base energy is coal.

    Coal is in abundance, and there is no problem is significantly raising extraction of coal and no problem in shipping it worldwide to where it is needed.

    Developing countries and 3rd world countries need coal powered generators to roll out cheap and reliable electricity. China recognises this and this is why it is embarking on such a substantial building programme of coal powered generators ( about 2 a week). These do not need carbon capture, but do require scrubbers to keep down polution.

    With abundant cheap energyagriculture and irrigation problems can be solved. They can then grow grain for ethanol to use in more mobile forms of transport (motor bikes, cars, buses), so need to rely as heavily as the West does on oil.

  82. jrwakefield:

    At August 22, 2013 at 6:58 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397049

    you quote my having written

    Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today.

    then you reply to that saying

    Bad analogy. Hay is grown every year, thus there is a new crop every year. Oil doesnt grow every year, it’s a one time deposit never to replenish for our consumption.

    It is a fact – not an analogy – and you have quoted me out of context.
    At August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    I actually wrote

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    Are you really trying to claim we should behave now on the basis that technology will not change over the next three centuries?
    Such a claim is as daft as fears about ‘peak oil’.

    And contrary to your claims, peak oil is NOT “about extraction rates” and NOT about ROEI.
    Read my post that you have misrepresented by selective quotation. The ROEI of synthetic crude is positive.

    If oil peaks it will be because it has been supplanted by something else. Any other suggestion is an example of economic illiteracy.

    Peak oil is a false scare which is only swallowed by the uninformed and gullible.

    Richard

  83. Wu says:

    > … there’s a need for fewer children to achive those goals, i.e. old-age security.

    How many people are out there that actually think that old-age security is a worthwhile goal? You got it all backwards. We have the instinct to have children and grandchildren, and it is so strong it pretty much determines everything we do. If we were left alone to our own devices, each of us would strive to maximise the number of his offspring. That is not a “goal”, that is simply how life works.

    The notion of a goal is totally fictitious. It comes with civilisation. It makes us pursue careers, hobbies, and other commitments instead of making children. It makes our children, when we do have them, less adapted and less fertile. Civilisations offer lots of ways to interfere with our reproductive instincts, and none of this interference is positive. You may get what you call old-age-security as an upshot from a civilised loss of fertility — fine, but you don’t get it because you had it as a goal; you get it because you haven’t spent all you had to help your children survive.

    To me, all talk of old-age security is just one of the signs that we’re dying off.

  84. Am I reading this graph right? Australia and Norway (Yes I know it’s cold there!), “per person”, consume similar volumes of “energy”. Yet Norway has a population of ~4.5million, Australia ~23million. Lets make this easy, round up. Lets set Norway’s population at 5mil and Australia’s at 25mil. So Norwegians consume 5 times as much energy as Australians? Norwegians earn ~10k more than Aussies? And political propaganda in Australia states that “we” are the “biggest emitter” per capita (Apparently) of CO2 emissions?

  85. “Realistically the higher the technology the more efficiently your energy is going to be used.”

    That is true, except the older society gets the more maintenance is required to keep society going. It’s no co-incidence North American aging infrastructure is going unfixed. It takes disproportionately more money and energy to keep society going because of it’s age.

  86. One of the points left out is the problem of introducing newer technology into desperately poor areas. The technology is sabotaged, destroyed or stolen. We see it in the USA in government housing projects were plumbing and wiring is yanked out and sold.

    There is another nasty type of sabotage shown in this FBI Report

    Thwarted Sabotage in Zambia

    … the FBI learned that a plot to destroy a railroad bridge in the Republic of Zambia had been uncovered….
    … Thurman stated that his immediate superior was Samuel Frederick Winston (fictitious name), a vice president of the firm….

    Winston explained that the chief business of the firm was trading in copper, and Zambia was one of the world’s foremost producers of copper….

    The two men Thurman had been in contact with repeatedly while in Florida admitted to FBI agents that they had been hired by Thurman and Winston to destroy a railroad bridge located eight miles southwest of Mazabuka, Zambia. They produced a map given to them by Thurman which indicated the precise location of the bridge. They stated that they understood the purpose of the plot was to interrupt the flow of copper via railroad from Zambia, a landlocked country, to the ports from which it was exported. The consequent disruption of the world’s copper market was expected to enhance the financial position of Winston and the firm…..

  87. “jrwakefield says:

    August 22, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Let me put in into something more understandable. You need 600 cals per day to survive.”

    Apart from water, that is clean water, let me put reality into something you won’t understand. The cost of “green policies” is making the basics, in Ethiopia for instance, teff (A very good grain IMO), unaffordable to most. Peoples being forced off their lands in favour of “food as fuel” programs etc. These people are predominantly subsistence farmers and have no concept of “ROEI”. These farmers won’t appreciate your “understanding” on hunger and poverty.

  88. Fact: Hay is grown to meet demand, oil is not. The two cannot be compared.

    “Are you really trying to claim we should behave now on the basis that technology will not change over the next three centuries?”

    Technology cannot overcome the Laws of Thermodynamics, only work within it.

    “And contrary to your claims, peak oil is NOT “about extraction rates” and NOT about ROEI.”

    Peak oil has always been about extraction rates “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.[1]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

    “The ROEI of synthetic crude is positive.” Some are, some arnt. Kerogen to oil is not positive ERoEI.

    “If oil peaks it will be because it has been supplanted by something else. Any other suggestion is an example of economic illiteracy.”

    Peak oil has already happened, and has not be supplanted by anything else so far.

  89. “jrwakefield says:

    August 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Peak oil is a false scare which is only swallowed by the uninformed and gullible.

    Peak oil is a geological and thermodynamic fact.”

    Oh dear! Anyone been to the website? I wonder how we can run a besemer converter on current solar and wind technologies.

    Peak oil? Forget the expanding coal to liquid (CTL) programs in China.

  90. jrwakefield says:

    Let me put in into something more understandable. You need 600 cals per day to survive. If you grow or catch your own food you are fine if your supply exceeds 600cals per day. If you need to expend more than 600 cals per day getting your daily requirement you starve to death. ERoEI drives biological evolution. It determines the Carrying Capacity of all populations. ERoEI is the Law of Thermodynamics. Without a positive ERoEI society dies.
    ===============================
    No argument with any of that except for the unimportant quibble that EREOI is usually expressed as energy out divided by energy in which make break even 1.0, not 0. You probably knew that. My point is that even a very low EREOI doesn’t preclude exploiting a resource. It just makes the effective size of the resource smaller. e.g. The deeper beds of the Alberta oil sands may have an EREOI as low as 2.0 because it takes so much energy to get to them. That just means the effective energy yield from those beds — were anyone to exploit them — is only half what one might expect from the nominal number of barrels of oil there.

    And keep in mind that the effect of improvements in extraction technology is to improve EREOI. Just because a given resource requires too much energy to be worth going after today doesn’t mean it is forever unusable. I suspect that might be the case with the kerogens in the Green River beds of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

  91. Owen in GA:

    re your post at August 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397042

    Yes, the use of existing transformer yards for relatively small distributed energy storage is potentially possible for supply to domestic consumers. Whether it is economic is another matter (I doubt it, but I could be wrong).

    More importantly, it ignores the point that large industrial electricity consumers are not distributed like domestic consumers: they exist in relatively few large installations. As I said in my post at August 22, 2013 at 6:04 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397002

    The economics of a distributed facility for large electricity storage useful at industrial scale are very, very unlikely to be surmountable (at least not for the foreseeable future). But the big benefits of such storage are from the needs of industry and not domestic consumers.

    Richard

  92. “Oh dear! Anyone been to the website? I wonder how we can run a besemer converter on current solar and wind technologies.”

    Neither will replace oil. Wind is pathetic in output, and the more wind and solar you put into the grid the more unstable the grid becomes. That’s Germany’s experience.

    Here in Ontario, half the time wind produces less than 7% name plate. 30% of the time they produce nothing at all. The wind comes and goes as frontal systems move over the province. See http:\\OntarioWindPerformance.wordpress.com.

  93. Thanks for the video link Mosher. It is always interesting to hear other view points. I do take exception with him on the point about where he admits that CO2 was much higher in the geologic past but that there were not 6 billion people. That isn’t the point. The point is could a planet with higher CO2 support 6 billion people. I’ve yet to see anything to change my current understanding that a warmer, higher CO2 (within reason, ~1000-1500 PPM) world would be unable to support 6 billion. In fact the argument I have is that if it could support so much more life in general, quantity and variety, how could it not support 6 billion?

    I do like his solution to the population “situation” (it is only a problem because we make it one). Educate the poor and especially the poor females. That takes a higher standard of living and more energy.

  94. “The deeper beds of the Alberta oil sands may have an EREOI as low as 2.0 because it takes so much energy to get to them.”

    Studies done show that “break even” for society is an ERoEI of 4:1.

    “Just because a given resource requires too much energy to be worth going after today doesn’t mean it is forever unusable. ”

    True, but that’s an expression of the Energy Trap. The more energy we need to divert to get more energy is less energy available for society to use.

  95. Thanks Willis. Others have pointed out the problem is more complex, but looking at it with only the parameters you have makes it comprehensible. Adding and subtracting other issues becomes just that, arithmetic.

    sergeiMK says:August 22, 2013 at 5:07 am
    I’m sorry to say this is totally thoughtless comentary.
    No-one wants to see people live in poverty – yet in USA people still do despite cheap energy.

    Cheap energy in the US, under this administration, does not exist and never will. The only thing cheap energy can bestow is a chance at improving one’s personal and/or families’ lifestyle, another thing this admin. does not want, also known as individual freedom. I’m still waiting for the collective-awaiting-salvation to make one technological advance. So far they have all come from individuals.

  96. That 80% agrees with what a glance at the graph shows. That red line of the global average use runs right through the markers for most of the world’s population. Doubling the red line puts it around Spain’s marker. So, yes, approximately doubling the energy is right.

  97. Nylo says:
    August 22, 2013 at 12:51 am

    Willis, I think that you are missing an important detail: much of the goods consumed in developed countries are actually produced in poor contries, with energy which is produced and used there. You don’t replicate Spanish way of living by replicating their energy use, but by replicating it and IN ADDITION increasing energy use in third countries. If Spain produced all of its own goods, our energy use would be quite higher. And I think this is true also for most of the developed nations. You need a new metric for the energy. The real energy cost of a given way of life in a country is the energy used in that country minus the energy used to create the goods that it exports, plus the energy used in foreign countries to create and transport the goods that it imports.

    I don’t think that metric is available anywhere.

    Mil gracias, Nylo. Pero desgraciadamente, I doubt very much if it’s a meaningful amount. For the overwhelming majority of industrialized countries, the net of the imports and the exports are not over 10% of the economy. Hang on, let me check Spain …

    OK, here’s the data. Overall, Spain is a slight net importer, with net imports of about $20 billion dollars and an economy of $1.34 trillion dollars. That’s about a percent and a half of the total economy … and not only that, but the exports are typically high-energy items (machinery, motor vehicles, chemical, ships) and the imports are low-energy items (fuels, foodstuffs).

    As a result, the cross-border energy use for Spain is trivially small, and may actually be a slight flow in the other direction. Your theory, while true, is one of the many “true but immaterial” facts about our lovely planet.

    All the best,

    w.

    PS—A note to the wise. RUN THE NUMBERS before you make statements about your whizbang theories … it saves embarrassment in the long run.

  98. “Read my post at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    and try to understand it.

    Richard”

    I did. Understood it, except this:

    “In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite.”

    Once a resource is completely spent, its gone, period. Once a resource is uneconomic to develop it’s gone, doesnt matter how much is left behind. This is why individual oil fields die. They arnt spent as in every drop extracted, typically 40% is extracted, the rest cannot be. We will never get 100% of the oil in a deposit.

  99. sergeiMK says:
    August 22, 2013 at 5:07 am
    I’m sorry to say this is totally thoughtless comentary.
    No-one wants to see people live in poverty – yet in USA people still do despite cheap energy.

    =======================================================

    While technically accurate in pointing out some Americans live in (relative) poverty, this is not the same as the absolute poverty of other parts of the globe. American “poor” still have high ownership rates of PCs, TVs, cell phones, cars, refrigerators, etc.

    I doubt Willis intended to imply higher energy usage cures both poverty and human stupidity.

  100. “PS—A note to the wise. RUN THE NUMBERS before you make statements about your whizbang theories … it saves embarrassment in the long run.”

    Except your numbers are based on some flawed assumptions. I cant prove that right now except to go on some fundamentals like Peak Oil, the Red Queen Principle and the Energy Trap.

  101. Mike Mellor says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Surely you are joking Mister Eschenbach. I live in South Africa where grinding poverty is still the norm yet you say that we are better off than Italy or Spain. Why don’t you perform some basic reality checks before you indulge in far-flown speculation?

    Dang, is everyone in South Africa blind and crabby, or just you? First off, it’s not my graph, it’s Graphminder’s graph. If you think there’s an error, complain to them. But the only error I see is “pilot error” …

    Second, the graph at the head of the page says that Spain and Italy have an annual income per person of $26,000.

    It also says that South Africa has an annual income per person of only $8,000. And that low an average income, as you point out, means lots of grinding poverty …

    Why don’t you perform some basic reality checks, Mike, and perhaps learn to read a graph, before you indulge in ugly rhetoric?

    w.

  102. Don K says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:18 am

    … That said, I’m pretty sure your math is wrong. My cocktail napkin says 1 billion folks in the developed world use about 400,000 btu each per day.

    Thanks, Don, but if you are using BTU, then I have no interest in following the calculations. Come back with the calcs in TOE like mine, and provide the sources for your numbers as I’ve done, and we can talk. I’m not going to get stuck in unit conversions.

    w.

  103. sergeiMK says:
    August 22, 2013 at 5:07 am

    finally you make this despicable comment:
    “under the above scenario (everyone’s energy usage at least equal to Spain and Italy) we have more than 46 years of fossil fuels left … ask me if I care. I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that, because today we have poor people to feed and clothe”,
    You basically say live now forget the future – unbelievably crass!!!!! and very sad that anyone could think this way.

    It’s “despicable” of me not to want to sentence the poor of the planet to decades of misery? It’s “despicable” of me to want to raise the standard of living of the poor today?

    I’ll tell you what is despicable, and that is waiting one minute longer than necessary to provide the poor with access to cheap energy. Your plan can be summarized as follows:

    LEAVE THE FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND, AND LET THE POOR STARVE IN THE MEANTIME

    I’ll let the readers decide which of us they think is despicable … I know which way I’d vote.

    w.

  104. August 22, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Studies done show that “break even” for society is an ERoEI of 4:1.
    ===============================
    As I said several posts ago, I find that quite incomprehensible.

    Perhaps you should consider the possibility that the folks that did those studies don’t know what they are talking about.

    Are there faulty studies out there? There certainly must be. It’s not uncommon to find studies that come to diametrically opposite conclusions about various things. For examples, try http://www.sciencedaily.com. pick some articles that interest you, click on them and read the Related Stories section. Shouldn’t take you long to find some pairs of studies where one or both must be false.

    One example that has stuck with me. About a decade ago, the two most prestigious English language medical research journals managed to publish articles in successive weeks that came to completely opposite conclusions about the affects of dietary sodium on hypertension in non-sodium sensitive individuals.

    Or, more simply, why the hell would anyone believe that inputting more that 1 million btus to yield 4 million btus of usable energy doesn’t work?

  105. Patrick says:
    August 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Am I reading this graph right?

    No.

    Australia and Norway (Yes I know it’s cold there!), “per person”, consume similar volumes of “energy”. Yet Norway has a population of ~4.5million, Australia ~23million.

    It’s a per capita graph, it says nothing about total amount of energy consumed.

    Regards,

    w.

  106. Wu says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:57 am

    However there is a need for foresight here. Alarmists keep harping on about our children and our childrens’ children. Well our grandchildren might have to contend with powerful warlords if we’re not careful. It might happen or it might not happen, but we must consider all possibilities. It would be highly irresponsible not to.
    ************************************************************************************************
    While this may be true, the one certainty is that our childrens children will have to spend all their lives trying to repay the money spent on all the unsustainable green subsidies being accumulated in such an irresponsible manner by our left wing/socialist/green governing bodies.

    SteveT

  107. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

    “PS—A note to the wise. RUN THE NUMBERS before you make statements about your whizbang theories … it saves embarrassment in the long run.”

    Except your numbers are based on some flawed assumptions. I cant prove that right now except to go on some fundamentals like Peak Oil, the Red Queen Principle and the Energy Trap.

    Ask me if I care about your opinions of my math. If you truly have a problem with math, you need to do more than handwave and mumble spells in Capital Letters. You need math of your own.

    JR, perhaps you’re not as old as I am. The Peak Oil crowd have been predicting we’d hit peak oil within five years or so, just as you are doing now … the problem is, I’ve watched them doing it for half a century now, same prediction, same lack of results. They’ve been predicting Peak Oil is just around the corner, quite steadily since I was a teenager, and likely before that as well … and now, here you are, the latest in a long line, to tell us that this time you’re really truly right, honest, the Red Queen says so …

    As a result of overwhelming failures of the predictions, Peak Oil doomcasting is selling at a huge discount these days … and with the discovery of horizontal fracking and the tight oil hitting the market, the production in the US is actually rising, not falling.

    So you’re free to cast your spells and mumble your prophecies, JR, but I fear that the dozens of folks that preceded you and made the exact same doomcasts you’re making today have kind of poisoned the well. At a minimum, your predecessors’ failed claims have cleared the smoke from most folks eyes … so I doubt if you’ll get much traction selling alarmist ideas that have been pushed unsuccessfully for half a century or more.

    Cue the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, Peak Oilers love to do that …

    w.

  108. So many comments. First, natural gas has begun to replace oil, and if NG rates remain low, will begin having a major impact on both oil and coal.

    The comments I find most disappointing are those who imply impoverished nations are incapable of becoming more energy-consuming, more developed countries (e.g., the people will steal the infrastructure; who’s going to build the infrastructure, etc.). The developed countries were not created developed and/or rich. Who built the infrastructure in the US? Did the impoverished significantly impede that construction? If you don’t think the US experienced periods of extreme deprivation, then you must know nothing about the South after the Civil War, or the consequences of the Great Depression, so named because it was worse than several other depressions previously suffered in the US. To imply that other areas of the world are unable to replicate the success of the US (with only the need to COPY our development, not create it from scratch!) is, what? Racist? Jingoistic? Arrogant? IMO, the biggest need in third world countries is effective, enlightened leadership, and that is also true in the pockets of poverty found in industrialized countries. Otherwise, people are essentially the same all over the world.

  109. That means that at current usage rates we have at least 81 years of fossil fuels left, and under the above scenario (everyone’s energy usage at least equal to Spain and Italy) we have more than 46 years of fossil fuels left … ask me if I care. I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that, because today we have poor people to feed and clothe, and we need cheap energy to do it. So I’d say let’s get started using the fossil energy to feed and clothe the poor, and if we have to double the burn rate to do that, well, that’s much, much better than having people watch their kids starve …

    That would just mean that more people starve later. What we need to do in the next 46 years is invest consistently in all reasonable alternatives: solar, wind, biofuels, diverse nuclear options, and so on. I support increased fossil fuel use, but I don’t support diving off cliffs into unexplored water.

    I’ll tell you what is despicable, and that is waiting one minute longer than necessary to provide the poor with access to cheap energy.

    “than necessary” is uselessly vague. It will take time to increase fossil fuel production by 80% and we can’t be sure that we can do it anyway — known unknowns and unknown unknowns and all that. So think of it as a rate problem: with a particular rate of investment, whatever looks possible now, can we increase energy availability to thousands of underpowered villages faster by investing in large fossil fuel infrastructures and delivery systems, or by investing in smaller more localized solar and wind systems? (Here’s a review of US prices for solar installations:
    http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Installed_Price_of_Solar_PV_Systems_in_the_US_Continues_to_Decline_at_a_Rapid_Pace_999.html) I think the answer to the question can only be arrived at on a case-by-case basis. In the US which has the distribution system and reserves in the ground, solar and wind are competitive only in a few places for a few niche uses. But your graph shows that we are already rich. In rural Africa, India and Asia where the desperate people you write of actually live, and where the US and China bid up the price of what fossil fuels there might be, contemporary wind and solar technologies have advantages — including the tremendous advantage that a entrepreneur does not have to wait (“one minute longer than necessary”) for the entire rest of the country to reform. Put differently, in large poor rural areas of the world, solar and wind are both cheaper and less intermittent than coal, petroleum and natural gas.

    I am sympathetic to the main thrust of your argument and not sympathetic to people (e.g. World Bank) who want to halt construction of fossil fuel powered electricity generation. But you (or “we”) should not airily dismiss the problems that we leave to the future nor should we put all of our eggs in one basket.

  110. Thanks, Don, but if you are using BTU, then I have no interest in following the calculations. Come back with the calcs in TOE like mine, and provide the sources for your numbers as I’ve done, and we can talk. I’m not going to get stuck in unit conversions.

    =========
    Sorry Willis — I have much the same problem with not wanting to mess with unit conversions. I will check your calculation some time and see if I can find out why your answer is so low. But not this morning because I’m at any age where my mental facilities fade fairly early in the day. If I try anything complicated this late in the day (I’ve been up for 9 hours) I’d surely botch it

    The reason I work with btus and btu per capita is the same as the reason that a lot of other folks do — they are a convenient size and aren’t quite as mind boggling as joules or confusing as the two different kinds of calories. I’ve found that most of the material I want to look at either uses btus or is easily converted to btus.

    Sources: Try Tom Fuller’s excellent: http://3000quads.com/ I’m pretty sure (perhaps mistakenly) that he has come up with about the same answers I have. My stuff is summarized at http://donaldkenney.x10.mx/#ENERGY

  111. “jrwakefield says:

    August 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

    They arnt spent as in every drop extracted, typically 40% is extracted, the rest cannot be.”

    Typically, its ~40% that is left behind. You will find many capped oil wells in the US with ~40% still in the ground.

  112. One last thing: the word poverty is sometimes a comparative term only applicable within the confines of a nation’s borders. A person earning an income defined as ‘poverty level’ in the US would be in the top 2% wage earners in the world. With free school breakasts and lunches, and Snap cards (food stamps), a child living in poverty in the US would go hungry only if the parent totally abdicates their responsibilty. In other countries, such a child would be scraping the dirt looking for an edible root or grub, regardless of parental efforts. You cannot honestly compare those ‘poverties’.

  113. @Steve Mosher
    The company Prof. Nocera got involved with was Sun Catalytix that as of Mar. 2013
    has abandoned (put on hold) pursuing energy storarge via PV->H2 storage and instead is working with some sort of “designer molecules”. You see, the theoretical possibilities are sometimes easy to explain, but are then dang hard to actually achieve effectively.

    Sun Catalytix CEO Mike Decelle shows off the two company-designed electrolytes to be used in a planned flow battery for grid storage. Credit: Martin LaMonica.

    MIT spin-off Sun Catalytix has had to put its bold vision of enabling the hydrogen economy on hold. But it still has aggressive technical goals.

    The Cambridge, Mass.-based company has spent the last year and a half designing a flow battery for grid storage and plans to have a prototype later this year, CEO Mike Decelle tells me. The hope is to test the kilowatt-scale system this year and raise additional funding for further development by the end of the year.

    Flow batteries are one of most attractive battery technologies for storing multiple hours of energy on the grid. They can be used to smooth out the variable supply of wind and solar farms or provide back-up power for buildings or campuses with on-site power generation. A commercial product from Sun Catalytix would be able to deliver one megawatt of power for four to six hours and fit in a 40-foot shipping container, Decelle says.

    There are already dozens of flow batteries connected to the grid made by companies with vanadium and zinc bromide chemistries. Sun Catalytix is using “designer molecules” made from abundant materials that are environmentally benign and will yield low costs, Decelle says. The company is targeting a price of $200 to $250 per kilowatt-hour of capacity, far less than long-lasting batteries now on grid.

    The move to focus on flow batteries is a dramatic turn for Sun Catalytix. The startup was spun out of MIT in 2009 to commercialize a low-cost catalyst developed by professor Daniel Nocera. With it, Nocera envisioned an “artificial leaf” that could cheaply strip the hydrogen from water and use the hydrogen in a fuel cell to make electricity. The company raised venture capital from Polaris Venture Partners and from Indian conglomerate Tata, which expressed interesting in its technology for distributed energy. It also landed an ARPA-E grant for a material that can produce hydrogen from water directly from solar energy. (See, A Greener Artificial Leaf.)

    The vision of using a low-cost, solar-powered electrolyzer brought heaps of publicity to the company and Nocera, who advocated using the technology in developing countries. At the time, many venture capitalist companies were willing to invest in companies formed to commercialize lab research. But as the experience at Sun Catalytix shows, development times in material science are typically many years and require a substantial amount of capital to bring to market.

    Decelle joined the company in June of 2011 and by the fall, it was clear the company had to pursue a shorter-term commercial market. “That (artificial leaf) technology tends to rely on hydrogen infrastructure. But when you think about that in venture capital time scales, it’s a tough pitch,” he says.

  114. Marler: natural gas, oil, coal, hydro, and nuclear are all major sources of energy. That’s far more than ‘one basket’. Combined, they can fulfill The world’s energy needs far into the future, and unlike the alternative energies you cited, are already developed to an economical level. ‘Longer than necessary” is any time wasted debating the problem instead of deploying those known solutions.

  115. “Willis Eschenbach says:

    August 22, 2013 at 8:50 am”

    I am just wondering where *all* that energy I am, apparently, consuming in Aus, is going. Oh! Oh, wait! Its an election year!

  116. The peak oil crowd does not understand that the Red Queen is driving a turbo, and is just shifting to second gear. Here’s an extra 100 billion barrels in the most drilled up place on earth:
    —————————————————————————————————————
    DENVER, Aug. 12

    08/12/2013

    By Tayvis Dunnahoe

    http://www.ogj.com/articles/2013/08/urtech-wolfcamp-play-dwa

    “The Spraberry Wolfcamp could possibly become the largest oil and gas discovery in the world,” said Pioneer Natural Resources Co. Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield while speaking Aug. 12 at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) in Denver.

    PNR is the largest acreage holder in the Spraberry field with 900,000 gross acres (730,000 net acres), the majority of which could be prospective for the horizontal Wolfcamp shale. Based on Pioneer’s extensive geologic database, petrophysical analysis, and successful drilling results to date, there is significant horizontal Wolfcamp shale resource potential in this acreage.

    According to Sheffield, the company will test 13 zones over the next 3 years. With 50 billion boe in recoverable reserves to date, Wolfcamp is bigger than the Bakken in North Dakota and South Texas’s Eagle Ford shale. Sheffield noted that recoverable reserves are based solely on the Wolfcamp A, B, D, and the Jo Mill. “More reserves are yet to be discovered,” he said.

    Geographically, Wolfcamp is comparable to other plays. A unique feature that puts it ahead of other plays is its variety of geological zones. The play contains 3,500-4,000 ft of shales, which is more like 3-4 million acres when considered in 3D space as opposed to 2D space.

    “Compare that to the Eagle Ford shale formation, which is about 300 ft deep and the Spraberry Wolfcamp shale, with its 50 billion boe, begins to dwarf the Eagle Ford and the Bakken with 27 billion boe and 13 billion boe, respectively,” Sheffield said.

    According to Sheffield, PNR’s success in Eagle Ford has provided a smooth transfer into Wolfcamp. “When compared by phases of development, we see the Wolfcamp trending higher than the Eagle Ford based on activity and production,” Sheffield said.

    Based on recoverable reserves, the Wolfcamp is second only the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia. “We believe this field will reach 100 billion boe recoverable reserves at some point in time,” Sheffield said.
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    Imagine US oil and gas technology and infrastructure applied in basins all around the world
    And the cornucopia of gas is far greater than oil

  117. Save the elephant and the rhinoceros.

    Currently under severe threat in Africa due to poaching. I can’t really blame the poachers, as they are poor and ignorant and need to sell the ivory and horns to support their families.

    But if they were well off, and well educated, and had ample energy supply, then they would be far less likely to kill these big beasties.

    So Willis’s plan is one that GreenPeace and WWF should (but of course, wont) support.

  118. The conventional wisdom holds that there’s not enough fossil fuels in the world to do that,

    I don’t know who believes that…probably no one except ‘low infoformation’ consumers. The amount of coal that exists geologically is enoough to more then quadruple CO2 levels.

    The only question is will the extraction, transportation and conversion costs of all that coal be economically competitive with the alternatives. In much of the world, coal is not particularly competitive now.

  119. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

    That would just mean that more people starve later. What we need to do in the next 46 years is invest consistently in all reasonable alternatives: solar, wind, biofuels, diverse nuclear options, and so on. I support increased fossil fuel use, but I don’t support diving off cliffs into unexplored water.
    …. It will take time to increase fossil fuel production by 80% and we can’t be sure that we can do it anyway — known unknowns and unknown unknowns and all that.

    No. Your “desire” to put incremental and irregular “green islands” of limited and intermittent solar power and wind – and then requiring that they burn THEIR heat and food and fodder and cooking fuels by requiring they use biofools!! – into isolated villages and a few scattered plots condemns the remaining BILLIONS of people for 46 years into early death, disease, starvation and easily avoided poverty.

    The US and Canada and Europe went from isolated cities of isolated single power plants into regional grids and state and national electric power systems in a half-generation between 1910 and 1935. The rural areas were completely electrified before 1940. AT NO POINT ANYWHERE in the world – until your idealistic, social-driven green dogma interfered with thinking adults – did isolated irregular power from windmills and other generators remain after more efficient, more reliable, more powerful electricity was available from the grid.

    The ONLY reason Africa and the 3rd world are still mired in poverty is the greed, incompetence, socialism and corruption of the GOVERNMENTS (all dictators, kings, and thieves) in charge of the 3rd world countries. Many, like Nigeria and Indonesia and all across central Africa and the horn of Africa, EXPORT their immense energy (coal, oil, etc.) reserves NOW, and their even more valuable industrial chemicals and ores. (China, more reasonable than you) is buying these rigths across all of Africa now for more export. And the Chinese, for their ruthless enslavement of their own people, will do nothing for the remaining billions left in in the 3rd world.

    There is no “risk” nor “development time” to get this power to the people for real development and industry and food production! It can be done immediately – well, 5 years from approval to building and delivery of the final grid elements- but the governments there would lose their power and their personal wealth. 2 years from order to delivery of each oil-fired or NG-fired gas turbine. 12 months for a big transformer and distribution net. 6 months to build the high-volt power lines.

    So, you want to “give” isolated solar and wind generators to “the people” back in isolated villages and tribal camps?

    And you think the local thieves (er, tribal chiefs and their family and the local warrior (leader) is going to sit there and let this “power” get distributed? He will IMMEDIATELY buy air conditioners and refrigerators and TV’s and fans and lights and ovens and microwaves and Mercedes and gold-plated bathtub faucets and ivory-handled knives FOR HIMSELF. He will IMMEDIATELY use that money he extorts from the “power island” (the other customers) to buy more AK-47’s and missiles and machine guns for HIS “guards” and thugs to get MORE power. And let the rest stay in their current poverty.

  120. Peak oilers are funny.
    Current worldwide oil demand is 92 million barrels per day. (Easily met and a new peak no less.) OPEC spare capacity is growing. Alberta oil production is growing, US oil production is growing. That doesn’t even take into account all the newly economic gas production in North America. Gas to liquids technology makes economic sense when the Gas price is ten times less than the oil price.
    Needless to say peak oilers are spitting images of the CAGW crowd. All sizzle no steak.

  121. Jtom: Marler: natural gas, oil, coal, hydro, and nuclear are all major sources of energy. That’s far more than ‘one basket’. Combined, they can fulfill The world’s energy needs far into the future, and unlike the alternative energies you cited, are already developed to an economical level.

    What’s economical depends on place and purpose. Cell phones and small shops can be more economically and reliably powered by solar and wind in some places with current technology, whereas fossil and nuclear depend on large capital projects, roads and transmission lines, and government bureaucracies. The same is true for powering small to medium scale irrigation projects. The installed cost of a current 10kw facility is $5.30 per watt, which works out (in a place like the Imperial Valley or rural San Diego County, CA or Mariposa County AZ) to $0.07 – $0.12 per kwh. If you were building a new nursery and wanted the power for daytime irrigation, you might find that to be an attractive price. You’ll recall that calculations like that supported Anthony Watts’ decision to install solar power. I am a fan of nuclear power, but there is no good reason why all the small operators in the world have to wait for the nuclear power plants to be built when they can independently install nearly equally cheap power without waiting one more minute than is necessary.

    The focus of Willis’ essay was the people who now have no electricity. I agree with you and Willis that it is a crime to deny them cheap power from coal-fired plants. But many of them could benefit from independently installing current wind and solar powered electricity generation.

  122. “A person earning an income defined as ‘poverty level’ in the US would be in the top 2% wage earners in the world. ” Except for one small issue, you are right.

    That one small issue is that most of the so called income of below the poverty level is not earned. It is extorted at point of government gun (aka taxes) from those of us who actually do earn our income. A portion of that extorted wealth is given to the so called poor and disadvantaged. The rest (aka the lions share) of that extorted loot is consumed by a bloated government in order to continue to expand the government, to extort still more of our earnings, and to expand the poverty class so as to create more votes to keep the thugs in office.

    The critical concept here is the earned as opposed to the merely taken by force either directly or indirectly. That difference is between being your brother’s keeper or not voluntarily and others taking from you by force and justifying it by keeping some sacred *other* whom you couldn’t care less about. The others are simply the boundless, bottomless pit of imaginary wants and needs who are unwilling to do anything for them to be fulfilled. If you want to take care of that pile of parasites, be my guest and use your own resources to do it. I won’t stop you. However, leave me out of the equation unless I voluntarily choose to help of my own free will.

    Please note: “voluntarily” means to be without coercion of clubs, knives, guns, boots, or threats of being sent to a gulag backed up by gangs of thugs (aka government) and to be free to choose or not according to your own standards, principles, and personal circumstances. I understand that this is not today’s understanding of “voluntarily”. What “voluntarily” means today is that if 50% +1 of the voting population chooses to sacrifice you for any reason, your goose is cooked, rendered, deboned, and served to the momentary whim of the majority regardless of your rights, your life, your personal purpose, and your personal choice. More exactly, you are to be available without resistance for the use and disposal at the whim of your government who pretends to speak for that 50% +1. Otherwise, out come the clubs, knives, guns, … etc.

    For not agreeing to the above, I am classed as selfish and therefor evil fully deserving of such treatment. However, isn’t it ironic that the 50%+1 and the government thugs who are the enforcers and primary beneficiaries of the theft, are considered noble and sanctimoniously unselfishly good because they say they intended it to be good for the sacred *other*. If you believe this is as it should be, it is way past time for you to check your premises about what is good and what is evil.

  123. This would indeed be a lofty goal but would take time to achieve. If this could be done in by 2050, what would the population be then and how would this affect energy needs? Here are the U.S . census figures for population:
    1818 1 billion
    1927 2 billion
    1960 3 billion
    1974 4 billion
    1987 5 billion
    1999 6 billion
    2011 7 billion
    The doubling time (time to double the population) from after 1927 was 47 years and after 1960 it was 39 years. At that rate, using a simple linear extrapolation, we might then expect to reach a population of 11 billion by 2050 (i.e., in 37 only years). What will the energy needs be for 11 billion people and how might it affect Willis’s analysis? The U.N. claims that birth rates have declined by half since the 1960s, assumes another halving of the birth rate by 2020, and yet another halving of the birth rate by 2050. After 2062, the U.N. claims that world population will no longer increase. These projections seem overly optimistic.
    Willis–you are a master of numbers. What do you make of the population growth and how will it affect energy needs. Any thoughts on this?

  124. RACookPA1978:The ONLY reason Africa and the 3rd world are still mired in poverty is the greed, incompetence, socialism and corruption of the GOVERNMENTS (all dictators, kings, and thieves) in charge of the 3rd world countries. Many, like Nigeria and Indonesia and all across central Africa and the horn of Africa, EXPORT their immense energy (coal, oil, etc.) reserves NOW, and their even more valuable industrial chemicals and ores. (China, more reasonable than you) is buying these rigths across all of Africa now for more export. And the Chinese, for their ruthless enslavement of their own people, will do nothing for the remaining billions left in in the 3rd world.

    Mostly that was a witless diatribe against some straw man. I agree with you, however, that much of the poverty of the world is maintained by criminal governments. How that supports Willis’ plan for massive increases of fossil-fuel power to the exclusion of solar and wind and appropriate biofuels I do not see. The thieves who steal the solar power will steal the transmission lines and pylons (as they do now, along with stealing oil), so I think that the issue of thievery slightly favors local control, which favors local small scale wind and solar, which on the whole are easier to protect. I would happily see all the dung fires replaced with electric stoves powered by large fossil-fueled and nuclear-fueled plants, but a quicker, cheaper solution, with less dependence on government and other central planners, is to introduce solar power and robust solar stoves.

    When the US etc electrified, the current wind and solar technologies had not been invented; for the same reason, the airline industries of the ’30s and ’40s did not adopt the federally subsidized turbine engines. Now they are all turbine powered except for a few niches like small planes, and large sunny and windy areas produce electricity.

    I am glad that you believe China to be “reasonable”. That China is buying oil from some poor countries I already mentioned as one of the factors that leads to oil being too expensive for the poor people in some of the oil-producing countries. China, like the US, is installing massive (by historical standards) wind and solar farms in rural areas where the electricity from them is cheaper than the electricity from imported coal, oil and gas. China has been consistently doubling its wind and solar generating capacity every 1 – 3 years, and consistently reducing the price of production. If the Chinese are “reasonable”, then it is worthwhile to study why and where they are doing that. (As everyone knows, China install more fossil fuel generating capacity every year than wind and solar combined, and they have to import more and more fossil fuel every year. With respect to installed capacity, however, solar and wind generation are increasing at a higher percentage rate, and the power will be available 46 years from now [figure from Willis' text] when there is no more coal, oil and natural gas for the Chinese to import.)

  125. Don K says:
    August 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

    [Willis said]

    Thanks, Don, but if you are using BTU, then I have no interest in following the calculations. Come back with the calcs in TOE like mine, and provide the sources for your numbers as I’ve done, and we can talk. I’m not going to get stuck in unit conversions.

    =========
    Sorry Willis — I have much the same problem with not wanting to mess with unit conversions. I will check your calculation some time and see if I can find out why your answer is so low. But not this morning because I’m at any age where my mental facilities fade fairly early in the day. If I try anything complicated this late in the day (I’ve been up for 9 hours) I’d surely botch it

    The reason I work with btus and btu per capita is the same as the reason that a lot of other folks do — they are a convenient size and aren’t quite as mind boggling as joules or confusing as the two different kinds of calories. I’ve found that most of the material I want to look at either uses btus or is easily converted to btus.

    Don, my main issue is not actually the BTUs. It is the fact that I’ve provided a spreadsheet detailing my calculations. If you think there is an error in them, you need to point out where. Also, providing calculations in some other unit to contest a claim made in different units is just plain impolite.

    In any case, since you seem unwilling to do the conversion, I did it. Your numbers are not much different from mine. Your back-of-the-envelope calculations are good, you say current energy use is 9,211 MTOE. I’ve given two different sources showing it to be on the order of 11,600 MTOE/yr.

    Next, you set 300,000 btu/person/day of energy to be your goal. Curiously, this is exactly the goal I had picked, 2.75 TOE/person/day

    Next, I had calculated the necessary additional energy needed to bring the world up to that 2.75 TOE/person/day level. I got 9,677 additional MTOE required … and you got 11,000 MTOE from your envelope.

    Now, if you’d done that in the units I’d used, you’d have looked at your results and said “Dang, Willis’s actual calculated numbers from real data are a close match to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, looks like that bugger’s right.”

    Sources: Try Tom Fuller’s excellent: http://3000quads.com/ I’m pretty sure (perhaps mistakenly) that he has come up with about the same answers I have.

    I disagreed with Tom on the first day he started his blog, 300quads, with his first post. He’s using market exchange rates for his future calculations, just like the IPCC did. Castles and Henderson took the IPCC to task for that, and rightly so. The exact same criticisms apply to Tom’s work. Tom refused to admit that, because he (like the IPCC) is an alarmist about the amount of energy we’ll need in the future. Hint. It’s unlikely to be 3,000 quads in 2075. Since he wouldn’t listen to either me, Castles, or Henderson, I let him go his alarmist way.

    Tom has taken the highest numbers available for his estimate. He estimates that the world will have just under ten billion people in 2075. In fact the median estimate of the peak population has been dropping steadily since I was a young man. In 2004 the 2075 peak was estimated by the UN at 9.2 billion, and the number continues to drop.

    He then estimates that if nine billion of those imaginary ten billion folks have a GDP about 50% higher than the current US GDP/capita, the world will use 3,000 quads of energy … so his calculations are correct, but his assumptions are way high in each instance.

    As a result, overall, his blog is not “excellent”, it is badly misguided. Despite that, however, there are some very good individual posts to be found there, with accurate data and interesting ruminations on what it means.

    The reason I bring this up, Don, is that you might not have noticed but I didn’t say anything about the future, about income growth to 2075, or about changes in population. Why? Because anyone claiming to know where we’ll be getting our energy in the year 2075 is just blowing smoke. It could be from some currently unknown source, and it might be “too cheap to meter” as we were told about nuclear energy. That’s all “pie in the sky” stuff, and I have to tell you this in all honesty, Don:

    In a world where people are starving and dying because of the lack of cheap energy, my tolerance for fantasies about 2075, and for peoples’ inchoate fears of what might happen then, is vanishingly small.

    As a result, I don’t care if we run out of fossil fuels in 40 years. At least we’ll have had 40 good years, years during which I’m sure we’ll figure out what to do next. I’m tired of people who are paralyzed to inaction, picking the biggest numbers that they can find, multiplying them together, and then gasping “3000 quads! How will we ever do it?” and clutching their pearls.

    w.

  126. I wrote : What we need to do in the next 46 years is invest consistently in all reasonable alternatives: solar, wind, biofuels, diverse nuclear options, and so on. I support increased fossil fuel use, but I don’t support diving off cliffs into unexplored water.
    …. It will take time to increase fossil fuel production by 80% and we can’t be sure that we can do it anyway — known unknowns and unknown unknowns and all that.

    RACookPE1978 turned that into : No. Your “desire” to put incremental and irregular “green islands” of limited and intermittent solar power and wind – and then requiring that they burn THEIR heat and food and fodder and cooking fuels by requiring they use biofools!!

    That’s only one example of what I called a “witless” argument against some kind of straw man.

    How many people here do not understand that in some poorly developed parts of the world wind and solar are less unreliable (though reliably “intermittent”) than deliveries of fossil fuels?

  127. Don Easterbrook says:
    August 22, 2013 at 10:27 am

    This would indeed be a lofty goal but would take time to achieve. If this could be done in by 2050, what would the population be then and how would this affect energy needs? Here are the U.S . census figures for population:
    1818 1 billion
    1927 2 billion
    1960 3 billion
    1974 4 billion
    1987 5 billion
    1999 6 billion
    2011 7 billion
    The doubling time (time to double the population) from after 1927 was 47 years and after 1960 it was 39 years. At that rate, using a simple linear extrapolation, we might then expect to reach a population of 11 billion by 2050 (i.e., in 37 only years). What will the energy needs be for 11 billion people and how might it affect Willis’s analysis? The U.N. claims that birth rates have declined by half since the 1960s, assumes another halving of the birth rate by 2020, and yet another halving of the birth rate by 2050. After 2062, the U.N. claims that world population will no longer increase. These projections seem overly optimistic.
    Willis–you are a master of numbers. What do you make of the population growth and how will it affect energy needs. Any thoughts on this?

    Not a master in any sense, indeed, I am the slave of the numbers … in any case, the projected global peak population has been dropping for years. When I was a kid it was around 12 billion, then over the years it went down to 11 billion estimated, then 10. At present the peak is estimated to occur around 2060-2075 or so, and to be at around 9 billion.

    My own research and estimates (using the first and second derivatives of the population as my variables) on this question give me an answer that’s about the same as that of the UN, 9 billion … which taken all together means it’s likely to be around 8.5 billion or so.

    How will that affect energy needs? Well, if it’s 8.5 billion people in 2060, that’s only about a fifth more people than we have in the world now, and if it’s 9 billion in 2060, it’s a bit over a quarter more people … I’m sure you can do the math on that.

    In either case, however, I plan to let the people of 2060 worry about their own energy needs.

    All the best,

    w.

  128. Willis Eschenbach: I’m tired of people who are paralyzed to inaction,

    Are there such people? I supported your thesis that developing more fossil fuels is a good idea, and said opposing large coal-fired plants in poor countries is “criminal”. What I see is a diversity of recommended actions, however, not paralysis.

    In terms of making good use of the time that we have before fossil fuels run out or become prohibitively expensive for poor people, what do you recommend? In addition to what we have going on, I’d like to see increased federal funding for nuclear R&D. I don’t favor an approach that is either “all free market” or “all government”. Every successful large scale enterprise has been a combination, unless you think that the Panama Canal was an “all government” enterprise, or the Internet “all free market”.

  129. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    ================

    Sir, you speak/write true economics from my understanding. Thank you .

    Not so sure about post modern times. There must be something wrong with modern education/academics.

    I will now read the rest of the comments following yours.

  130. richardscourtney:

    Yes, I’m aware of the paradox, but I never said anything about conservation or decreased usage. Energy efficiency causes a surplus that can then an economic multiplier because it is available to do other things. Think of a situation where all the energy was expended heating homes. If you improve the efficiency of the heating system you now have that as surplus for economic activities that need energy that in turn create other actives that need energy and so on. Without those savings from technology, you stay stuck.

  131. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Matt, always good to hear from you. I fear, however, that your analysis doesn’t go far enough when you say:

    China, like the US, is installing massive (by historical standards) wind and solar farms in rural areas where the electricity from them is cheaper than the electricity from imported coal, oil and gas. China has been consistently doubling its wind and solar generating capacity every 1 – 3 years, and consistently reducing the price of production. If the Chinese are “reasonable”, then it is worthwhile to study why and where they are doing that. (As everyone knows, China install more fossil fuel generating capacity every year than wind and solar combined, and they have to import more and more fossil fuel every year. With respect to installed capacity, however, solar and wind generation are increasing at a higher percentage rate, and the power will be available 46 years from now [figure from Willis' text] when there is no more coal, oil and natural gas for the Chinese to import.)

    First, you are correct that installed windpower capacity is going through the roof in China, as is generation. Here’s a graph of the growth in actual Chinese wind power generation, expressed in MTOE:

    Looks impressive, and it is. They’re avoiding burning more than six million tonnes of oil (MTOE) per year, that’s a lot of oil. So far so good … but as I mentioned, your analysis didn’t go far enough. Now here’s the same data on wind power, but this time including the total energy consumption of China …

    I’m sure you can see the problem with your claim that they will run on wind and sunshine in forty years …

    w.

  132. Now, if you’d done that in the units I’d used, you’d have looked at your results and said “Dang, Willis’s actual calculated numbers from real data are a close match to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, looks like that bugger’s right.”
    ======================================
    Assuming that your calculations are right, I agree. I doubt any of the numbers anyone uses except current world oil production and US/Canadian/EU/Japan energy usage are accurate to even plus/minus 15% so 9,677 and 11,000 are basically the same number. I’ll have to go think about why you say 80% and I say 200%. Presumably I’ll work it out. If not, I’ll email you or something.

    The good news, AFAICS, there’s no chance of running out of fossil fuels in 40 years. Conventional oil, yes. I don’t think we’re at peak, but I don’t think at peak everybody on the planet will be getting 40% of their energy from conventional oil either. We can discuss that sometime, but read up on your Hubbert first. Old M King was a pretty bright guy and I’d love to have a beer with him. I suspect that you and he wouldn’t find much to disagree about if it weren’t for the inconvenience of his being dead and therefore unable to pick up the check.

    Remember that even at peak, conceptually only about half the conventional oil is gone. Numbers for other energy sources are WAGS, but there’s probably twice as much heavy oil as conventional, and maybe as much coal as heavy oil. And a lot of natural gas. No one knows how much. There’s at least some methyl clathrate. And there’s always nuclear. And solar which really does seem to have the energy density to support any number of people that we can feed — after many decades of R&D and infrastructure buildout. The nearest time I can see the fossil fuels running out is 2100, and I expect they’ll last considerably longer. They may not be so cheap though. I think the ever so great grandkids will be able to handle the problems.

    In any case, and I can’t emphasize this enough. Future energy usage is like Bob Dylan said “beyond our command”. It’s up to the leaders of China, India, and a bunch of smaller countries not the leaders of the G7. Given the G7s last decade, that may well be a good thing for humanity.

    The times they are a’changin.

  133. Matt, here’s another look at China …

    Note that the 0.7% is all renewables except hydro, including wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal …

    w.

  134. The third world folk need inexpensive energy so they stop destroying their forests, DDT to kill the bugs that are killing them, and GM food stuffs so they can grow more food. The NGO’s of the western world hate all three of these things.

  135. Willis Eschenbach: Matt, here’s another look at China …

    I think I already wrote that China gets most of its power, and most of its incremental power, from fossil fuel, so that isn’t news. But in 50 years you projected that the fossil fuel sector will be 0%. In the mean time, solar and wind energy production in China doubles every 1 – 3 years. If they maintain 33% growth per year, in 50 years they’ll have 1.5 million times as much power from wind and solar as they have now. Well, nobody believes simple extrapolations like that, but you see the potential. I expect that in 50 years they’ll have more nuclear than wind and solar combined, but given their history of the last 150 years they’ll have two more revolutions, so who knows? In the mean time, solar and wind are decreasing in cost, whereas fossil fuels will increase in cost unless China curtails its fossil fuel consumption dramatically.

  136. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I wrote : What we need to do in the next 46 years is invest consistently in all reasonable alternatives: solar, wind, biofuels, diverse nuclear options, and so on. I support increased fossil fuel use, but I don’t support diving off cliffs into unexplored water.
    …. It will take time to increase fossil fuel production by 80% and we can’t be sure that we can do it anyway — known unknowns and unknown unknowns and all that.

    Mmmm … I guess my first question is that when folks say “invest … in all reasonable alternatives”, they usually mean “subsidize all reasonable alternatives”. So far, we’ve tried that with wind, solar, and ethanol. It has been spectacularly unsuccessful with all three. None of them are economically competitive at the grid-power level.

    So what do you mean by “invest”?

    Next, my point was the size of the task. I, like many people, had thought for many years that it would take five or ten times current energy production to raise the world’s poor to a reasonable standard of living. The fact that the amount currently required if we could do it today is less than double current energy production is big news on my planet. Yes, it’s still a large task, but an 80% increase in fossil fuel production is certainly doable, particularly with fracking and the future of methane clathrates.

    How many people here do not understand that in some poorly developed parts of the world wind and solar are less unreliable (though reliably “intermittent”) than deliveries of fossil fuels?

    I lived in “poorly developed parts of the world”, including remote islands, for many years. And I agree that for villages in such places, certainly 12 volt wind and solar plus automobile batteries can provide reasonable amounts of home power, as long as you don’t try ironing …

    For cities, however, both solar and wind are currently impractical. This is because of their intermittent nature. For some years I lived in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, on Guadalcanal Island. Power there is most definitely intermittent … but the solution for the businesses and industries and residences in Honiara is not wind or solar. The solution is, everyone buys diesel generators that switch on and off automatically when the grid power dies. And the long-term solution is hydroelectric, the islands have steep volcanic mountains plus tropical rains. But solar or wind? All cities whether developed or not are out of luck regarding wind and solar until the electricity storage problem is solved,.

    My best regards,

    w.

  137. Willis Eschenbach: I’m sure you can see the problem with your claim that they will run on wind and sunshine in forty years …

    Was that my claim? I don’t think so, but maybe you can supply a quote. I think I claimed that they would have solar and wind after they had run out of fossil fuels. I also claimed, I think, that solar and wind would be cheaper in the future than they are now, and cheaper than fossil fuels. You’re the one who said we’d all run out of fossil fuel, so I expect that you do not expect the exponential growth of fossil fuel consumption to continue. That makes your second graph incidental to plans for the future.

  138. “the problem is, I’ve watched them doing it for half a century now, same prediction, same lack of results.”

    We have entered the longest period of no increase in oil production, 8 years now. The only way you will know we have past peak production is when we no longer have any increase in peak production, that is, through the rear view mirror. Just because past predictions were wrong doesnt mean the principle of peak oil is wrong. Complexities interfere with predictions.

    US production is up a bit, but no where near peak production in 1972. Thus the US reached peak oil in 1972. North Sea reached peak production in 1999 9http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_oil), Cantarell in Mexico reached peak production in 2003 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantarell_Field), and so on.

  139. “I think, that solar and wind would be cheaper in the future ”

    How do you plan we use wind power when the wind isnt blowing/ Or do we shut society down on those days?

  140. Willis Eschenbach: The solution is, everyone buys diesel generators that switch on and off automatically when the grid power dies.

    You posited the end of fossil fuels, and how to prepare for that future over 4 decades. Those generators will be useless according to you. I do concur in your support for hydroelectric power. I forgot to put it on one of my lists of power sources I would like to see developed. In a world without fossil fuels, current storage technology would probably be good enough, but I support continued R&D on new batteries and capacitors.

    My preference is for more nuclear, but I doubt that sufficient capacity could be approved, financed and built to replace all our fossil fueled power plants in 40 years.

  141. “As a result, I don’t care if we run out of fossil fuels in 40 years. At least we’ll have had 40 good years, years during which I’m sure we’ll figure out what to do next.”

    I’m of the same opinion. 40 years from now is a long way off (my kids will be in their 60’s, my age now). That said, it could take those 40 years to bring 3rd world people out of poverty, assuming that is even possible.

    Abject poverty and hard life is the normal state of all organisms, including humans until we exploited fossil fuels. High living standards consumes a lot of energy to maintain, and the longer we have that society, the disproportionately we need more energy. This is why I think your numbers are off, as in the future just to maintain this high level of civilization we would need more energy per person than we consume now.

    That’s not likely to happen, so what we will see is countries like China and India increase their living standards while the First World loses its (ie like Detroit, Greece, Egypt etc).

  142. jrwakefield: How do you plan we use wind power when the wind isnt blowing/ Or do we shut society down on those days?

    Willis began with an analysis that showed fossil fuels running out in 46 years. The challenge is to plan for that eventuality, and to create the alternative over the required time of 4+ decades. My preference is for more nuclear power. I might mention that the San Onofre plants are shut down due to inadequate quality control and testing in the manufacture of steel tubes. That’s about 2GW of power production off line, probably for years. One must not write as though some form of power production is without problems.

  143. jrwakefield:

    At August 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397457

    you say

    We have entered the longest period of no increase in oil production, 8 years now.
    {snip}
    US production is up a bit, but no where near peak production in 1972. Thus the US reached peak oil in 1972. North Sea reached peak production in 1999 …

    You miss the obvious point that producers do not produce more of their product than economic activity requires. If they did then they would flood the market and the price of their product would plummet so their profits would disappear.

    We have been in a global economic recession so demand for oil has been suppressed.

    But, purely for sake of argument, let us assume you are right and we reached ‘peak oil’ 8 years ago. It has not been a problem, so why are you worried about it?

    In reality, there is no possibility of a problem of ‘peak oil’ for the reasons I explained in my post at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    and you have failed to understand.

    I refer you to the comment made by Willis at August 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397453

    where he says

    an 80% increase in fossil fuel production is certainly doable, particularly with fracking and the future of methane clathrates.

    That is certainly true whether or not you are right that we reached ‘peak oil’ 8 years ago.

    Richard

  144. Hmmmn.

    46 years, eh?

    Your criteria for “projecting engineering and energy production” into the future, right?

    46 years.

    By your statements above, WE MUST DENY the world’s poor immediate and practical and economic energy (now, today, the next 2 years, the next 4 years) IMMEDIATE relief from part of their problems by trying to develop a permanent and “sustainable mix” of their assumed future energy needs.

    In the MEANTIME< you (the CAGE-renewables-acadmic-laboratory-politically-connected-liberal-donors industry) ARE destroying the world's economy with your CAGW propaganda and renewables propaganda (er, central 5-year planning).

    OK. You can go ahead and kill them (now) so their (not-able-to-be-born-and-survive) children and grandchildren will not face a future of coal and real energy reliably supplied. Your choice: Their death, or their lives.

    Today, real world – no 46 year future propaganda! – you are killing them by denying them clean water, good roads, any kind of sewage pipes and sewage treatment plants, irrigation canals, irrigation pumps, irrigation pipes, trains, bridges, reliable power, better heat, better cooking, a market for their crops, food for their children, fodder for their livestock (ever wonder about that "livestock" word?) and better clothes, shelter and cleanliness, better jobs, etc?

    But, no matter, you want to project 46 years into the future.

    Let's do that: 46 year project, and rely on not just 10 years of technological progress (without internal combustion engines by the way) but with coal power and "renewables) wind and water power and animal power and human labor exclusively. No regional electricity, nothing but your "ideal life (in real life) for progress.

    1906. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel.

    Hmmmn. Sorry, can't do that. The last flight across was 121 years before, and all that the two passengers got across was one letter. (Addressed to Ben Franklin by the way.) Reliability and passengers and luggage?
    Well, the rest of the mail, all their clothes, all of the ballast, food, and drink got thrown overboard to prevent them from ditching in the Channel. Fortunately, their "restroom facilities" were also "overboard", because that weight too they had to discharge to lose enough weight to stay aloft.

    1907. Build me an airport and fly me across the English Channel. 121 years of "renewable green energy progress" later.

    Hmmmn. Bleriot just made his first flight, but only got 500 meters. Not quite far enough. His "airfield"? Hey, THAT we can do. You can borrow a 30 meter pasture, run the cows out, and buy a gas can and a canvas tent. No, scratch the tent.

    No passengers. (Don't need a reliability study, the plane crashes every time on landing.) No luggage.

    1908. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel.

    Bleriot can now carry a passenger. Just one. Total flight length of his longest flight? 17 miles.
    Sometimes the airplane doesn't crash or need repairs on landing.

    His airport? We can still use that one pasture you borrowed the last time, he hasn't tried cross-county, cross-city, or cross country flights yet. Make sure you kick the cows off of the runway first.

    1909. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel.

    Bleriot crosses the Channel. Misses the other "runway" (also a cow pasture) but the plane crashes and at least misses the awaiting crowd on the beach. (Not the last time that a flight won't use the original gate at the terminal, though. No passengers, no luggage. (His wife has brought their luggage and clean clothes over first by ship. The same way that Caesar crossed the Channel, by the way.) No comforts; on an earlier flight, Bleriot got 3rd degree burns on his leg from the engine exhaust pipe hitting his leg.

    So, when will you build me that airport and get me and my luggage over the English Channel? Well? There are still no "airports" in England, and no passengers or payloads either in Europe, although ONE plane (over in the US) – the Wright Flyer" is already trying to train student pilots. At least one of those early student pilots (not a passenger!) died in a crash, by the way.

    Hmmmn. 46 years of progress and design later. Remember, YOU (that CAGW-sponsored-government-academic-laboratory-liberal-socialist-politically-connected-donor industry are the
    ones LIMITING our energy development NOW, because YOU are actually projecting the world's energy supplies 46 years into the future and "saving" that future by killing innocents NOW, right?

    Hmmmn. 46 years of progress and design later.
    1952. Build me an airport and fly me across the English Channel.
    Just 46 years of "REAL ENGINEERING and DEVELOPMENT later.

    46 years of ENCOURAGEMENT AND PROMOTION of engineering development and energy progress BY the government (and militaries!) instead of HINDERING IT for political gain and the government's political donors. No computers yert though, just slide rules and good design and real world development.

    1952. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel.

    Well, you need to give me two 10,000 foot reinforced concrete runways, 300 feet wide and 5 feet thick. Add a pair of 12000 foot taxiways, and a couple hundred acres of reinforced concrete parking and operational and maintenance spots. Several 150,000 gallon fuel tanks. A fleet of trucks and support vehicles. Two fire stations. Accommodations for 5,000 crew and their dependents. Throw in several hangers – better make them wider, higher, and longer than any building in the world in 1908 as well.

    Control tower, radar and weather station, training buildings and ……

    Oh. The airplanes?

    The B-36 has been flying for several years already (Cynics may be faulted for claiming that it hasn't had to land yet, but that not strictly true) but it is already outdated and is too slow, too limited a range to be even thought of as state-of-the-art of engineering. Luggage space? Well, the B-36 has 18,000 cubic feet internally, so, yes, there is room for my luggage. They could carry two 42,000 lb bombs, so the luggage weight is not an issue either. But, can the B-36 cross the Channel? 410,000 lbs take-off weight, 6800 mile rounf trip. Yes, it can make it.

    Ironically, it can't use that cow pasture you specified in 1908. That government-approved cow pasture isn't even large enough to park the airplane, must less let it stop (the grass will sink in under the plane's weight.)

    1906. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel in JUST 46 years.

    The B-52 is already flying in 1952.

    Round-the world flights. Routinely capable of more than a half-million pounds takeoff weight. Closed circuit flight of (not of Bleriot's mere 17 miles) but 11,337 miles.

    1952. Build me an airport and fly me and my luggage reliably across the English Channel.
    Blohm und Voss BV222
    Blohm und Voss Bv238
    Junkers Ju322
    Me421
    Me323
    Douglas B-19
    Potez-CAMS 161
    Martin 170 Mars
    SNCASE SE200
    Latecoere 631
    CCF B-1000
    CCF B-2000B
    Dornier Do214
    Short Shetland
    Douglas Globemaster
    Northrup B-35
    Northrup B-49
    Convair B-36
    Lockheed Constitution
    Hughes H-4 Hercules
    Blackburn Clydesman
    Breta-Zappata BZ-308
    Breguet Deux Ponts
    Sud-Est 2010
    Bristol 167 Brabazon

  145. “Peak oilers are funny.
    Current worldwide oil demand is 92 million barrels per day. (Easily met and a new peak no less.) ”

    World production for 2012 was 89mb/day. (http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=53&aid=1&cid=ww,&syid=2005&eyid=2012&unit=TBPD) 2005 to 2011 was flat around 85mb/day.

    “OPEC spare capacity is growing.” Source please. If that was the case why arnt they producing more?

    OPEC output is fairly flat the last 8 years (http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=53&aid=1&cid=CG9,&syid=2005&eyid=2012&unit=TBPD)

    “Alberta oil production is growing,”

    Only in the oil sands, conventional fields are all in terminal decline. Predicted maximum production by 2020 at the oil sands is 3mb/day. That’s Canada’s total consumption, and with a pipeline west to east, we will consume less imported oil.

    “US oil production is growing.” But way way below 1972 peak. The US will never get back to that level.

    “That doesn’t even take into account all the newly economic gas production in North America.”

    This will be short lived. Shale gas has serious limiting issues, specifically, the number of wells to keep production flat. Wells have to be drilled at an accelerated rate just to keep the flow constant. Shale gas wells lose 80% of their output within 6-8 years. They dont follow a bell curve, they follow a decay curve.

    Things are not as simple as you think.

  146. Matthew R Marler:

    In your post at August 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397481

    you say

    Willis began with an analysis that showed fossil fuels running out in 46 years. The challenge is to plan for that eventuality, and to create the alternative over the required time of 4+ decades.

    I think the conservative estimate Willis cited is a gross underestimate and it would be centuries – not decades – before fossil fuels could start “running out”.

    However, purely for sake of argument, let us assume it is only 46 years before fossil fuels run out. In that case, it would be clearly apparent in 26 years time; e.g. reserves would have fallen to to equivalent of only 26 years supply. That would still leave us 20 years to deal with it; e.g. by building nuclear plants to replace power plants that reach the ends of their operating lives.

    Windfarms only have operational lives of 20 years so we would have wasted our investment in them. And that wasted wealth would not be available for the transition you claim would be needed.

    In other words, even on your own terms your argument is plain wrong.

    Richard

  147. “But, purely for sake of argument, let us assume you are right and we reached ‘peak oil’ 8 years ago. It has not been a problem, so why are you worried about it?”

    It is a serous problem. The price of oil because of peak oil is now around $104/barrel. Fuel here in Canada is $1.25 per liter. Our gasoline costs have skyrocketed as a percent of our after tax dollars and because of that we have dramatically reduced our driving (hence lowered our living standard).

    Economic growth is directly linked to the availability of oil and it’s price: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544211003744

  148. jrwakefield:

    re your post at August 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397502

    which provides a silly answer to my sensible question.

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between price and cost. For example, what is the proportion of the gasoline prices you cite which is taxation, and how has that taxation changed?

    I yet again ask you to read my post at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    and try to understand it.

    This time, please take especial note of my comments with regard to synthetic crude oil and the constraint on the maximum price of oil provided by the existence of the LSE process. Oil price varies for a variety of reasons, but its maximum is constrained.

    Richard

  149. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Willis Eschenbach: Matt, here’s another look at China …

    I think I already wrote that China gets most of its power, and most of its incremental power, from fossil fuel, so that isn’t news. But in 50 years you projected that the fossil fuel sector will be 0%.

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that if we divide the current proven reserves by the current usage plus the amount to bring the world’s poor up to Spain’s level, we get about fifty years.

    However, to take just one of the fossil fuels, proven reserves of oil have stayed at about forty years of current consumption for well over forty years, despite increasing consumption … go figure. That’s because how much is available is a function of two things, price and our ingenuity. The former has gradually risen, and there seems to be no limit to the latter. As I mentioned above, the first experiment looking at commercial-scale production of methane from clathrates has already been done in Japan. The amount of the fossil fuels in shale formations is not well-known, and new discoveries are being made constantly. We get more and more efficient with our drilling technologies.

    So no, I don’t project us running out of fossil fuels in fifty years. For example, people talk about “EROEI”, the energy returned on the energy invested, for something like the Alberta tar sands oil as if it were a fixed number. It’s nothing of the sort, and people are at work every day making it more and more efficient. The basic problem is, you have essentially tar mixed with sand, and you need to separate them. One obvious way is to dig up the mixture, heat it, and when the tar gets all liquid, you can get it out. Another way is to dissolve the tar in a solvent, and then recover the solvent in a subsequent step.

    Each of those has a different EROEI, and people are very hard at work looking to reduce the energy it takes to unlock the tar from the sand. And this is true about every phase of oil production and consumption, from the well to the automobile.

    Regards,

    w.

  150. “what is the proportion of the gasoline prices you cite which is taxation, and how has that taxation changed?”

    Taxation is the biggest #1 increase. A recent study showed it doubled as a percent of one’s expenses over the last 30 years. Number 2 was gasoline.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2013/02/04/americans-spending-greater-percentage-income-on-gas/

    “Oil price varies for a variety of reasons, but its maximum is constrained.”

    How so? And what is that maximum? What is the constraint?

  151. Willis:

    At August 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397532

    you say

    However, to take just one of the fossil fuels, proven reserves of oil have stayed at about forty years of current consumption for well over forty years, despite increasing consumption … go figure. That’s because how much is available is a function of two things, price and our ingenuity. The former has gradually risen, and there seems to be no limit to the latter.

    Hmmm. Yes, but how that “ingenuity” is applied defines the period of “about 40 years”.

    I explained this in my above post at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    where I discussed alternatives to sources of reserves and said

    People do not pay to find more reserves when they have the reserves they need.
    This is why oil reserves were equivalent to ~40 years of supply throughout the twentieth century and will be at least ~40 years of supply throughout this century. Oil companies have a maximum planning horizon of ~40 years so pay for more oil to be found if they have less reserves than needed for the next ~40 years. But they do not pay to find more reserves when they have enough.

    Richard

  152. “I don’t project us running out of fossil fuels in fifty years.”

    You are still assuming peak oil is about what’s in the ground. It isnt. We will never run out of fossil fuels. People 1000 years from now will likely be using some form of fossil fuels, albeit local consumption.

    All that increase in proven reserves is only important to keeping energy cheap if it can be extracted fast enough. Unconventional sources have slower extraction rates. If the rate of extraction cannot keep up with demand, then the price goes up (no limit on that) and hence someone gets out bid for the oil, and hence someone who needs it does without because they can not afford it.

    The most indebted countries will have the hardest time competing for oil that rich countries can outbid them on. Hence the US will see the effects of oil constraints than China will.

  153. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm
    Oil price varies for a variety of reasons, but its maximum is constrained.
    =============================
    Sort of. If and when it becomes obvious that the price of crude oil is higher than the price of synthetic oil, AND IS GOING TO STAY THERE you’ll start to see serious CTL and maybe even GTL proposals. Conversion plants are surely going to cost a great deal of money and no one has the slightest desire to build a plant that needs $80 a barrel crude prices to break even only to see crude drop to $55 even if the drop is only temporary. Championing a plant like that is likely to be a career limiting move and many corporate decision makers try to avoid those.

  154. Marler: the solutions you posit provide subsistence energy for subsistence survival. They cannot be used on a large scale for commerce, mass transportation, or just reliable 24×7 power. I don’t think those in third world countries are that impressed with solar powered cell phones when they need power for heat, cooling, running water, etc. And don’t even mention trying to use wind turbines to provide running water for a city of hundreds of thousands. The technology you extol will be consigned to the role of supplemental power sources far after our grandchildren are gone. In the meanwhile, the philosophy you support is consigning millions to a nasty, brutal, and short life. Wind power has been used for over a thousand years; batteries for several hundred; I was playing with solar cells and making solar furnaces fifty years ago. They still aren’t practical for satisfying the energy needs of the general population.

  155. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    [Willis said] “the problem is, I’ve watched them doing it for half a century now, same prediction, same lack of results.”

    We have entered the longest period of no increase in oil production, 8 years now.

    Say what? That’s simply not happening. From the US Energy Information Association, I find:

    Even if they’re off by a bit, that’s a long ways from “no increase in oil production”. And that doesn’t even mention the effect of the global financial crisis …

    See, this is why I hate discussing anything with peak oil guys. They think they’re not only entitled to their own theories—at no extra cost, they also supply their own facts.

    You’ve gotta know, JR, that your credibility is now officially shot. It’s not just the IEA. I can’t find anyone reputable who is claiming an eight-year period with no increase in oil production either.

    Your move … make it a good one.

    w.

    [UPDATE: I note that you cite the same data source ... go back to your cited source and graph the data yourself. You'll get the graph I show above ... -w.]

  156. sergeiMK – when you criticise w for saying “I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that”, you are missing something: the people in 2070 will deal with it very easily because they will have 2070 technology not 2013 technology.

    jrwakefield – w wasn’t talking about 80% more oil (which IMHO won’t happen), he was talking about 80% more energy.

  157. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Willis Eschenbach: The solution is, everyone buys diesel generators that switch on and off automatically when the grid power dies.

    You posited the end of fossil fuels, and how to prepare for that future over 4 decades.

    Nope. See my comment above.

    w.

  158. jrwakefield:

    At August 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397542

    you avoid one of my questions and ask me a question about another issue.

    I asked you

    what is the proportion of the gasoline prices you cite which is taxation, and how has that taxation changed?

    And you have relied

    Taxation is the biggest #1 increase. A recent study showed it doubled as a percent of one’s expenses over the last 30 years. Number 2 was gasoline.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2013/02/04/americans-spending-greater-percentage-income-on-gas/

    I did NOT ask you the percentage of household incomes which is taxation.
    I asked you the percentage of the gasoline price you cited which is taxation, and I asked you how that had changed. I asked because you claimed recent increase of gasoline prices is an indication of oil shortage. I suspect it is an indication of increased taxation of gasoline.

    I also said

    Oil price varies for a variety of reasons, but its maximum is constrained.

    And I referred you to my explanation of that in my earlier post at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1396883

    where I wrote

    Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.
    {snip}
    The existing price constraint on crude oil is the Liquid Solvent Extraction (LSE) process for coal into oil. We proved the LSE technology both practically and economically with a demonstration plant at Point of Ayr, Wales, in the early 1990s. …

    You have replied

    How so? And what is that maximum? What is the constraint?

    The constraint is that if the crude oil price were to rise too high then it would be economically viable to produce syncrude from coal using the LSE process. This would take some of the available market for crude.

    The maximum is ~US$94/bbl so the crude price rarely rises to this level and cannot be sustained at this level.

    However, it should be noted that there is no such thing as a single price for crude. Refiners need to provide products which match market demand (e.g. providing a required amount of gasoline should not provide a glut or a shortage of benzene). Hence, they blend crudes from different sources to obtain refinery input which provides refinery outputs that each match market demands.

    This need for blending is why Brent crude is so valuable. Saudi crude is the most abundant so is cheapest crude, and it happens that a blend of Saudi:Brent in approximate proportions of 2:1 provides refinery outputs close to market demands.

    The surprising economics of the LSE process derive from two factors. LSE consumes sulphur-rich refinery ‘bottoms’ that have a disposal cost and, very importantly, LSE can be ‘tuned’ to provide a syncrude with desired composition for a refinery to match market demand.

    Indeed, this is why the UK Government – which owns the LSE process – keeps important details of the process as a State Secret. Sale of Brent crude is a significant income to the UK and adoption of the LSE process would collapse the value of Brent crude. But that would change if the oil price rose sufficiently because the UK would then benefit from adoption of the LSE process.

    Richard

  159. “w wasn’t talking about 80% more oil (which IMHO won’t happen), he was talking about 80% more energy.”

    I know that. The problem is there isnt an alternative to oil that replaces oil. Electric cars everywhere? Right… Oil is needed to make those cars.

  160. “I asked you the percentage of the gasoline price you cited which is taxation,”

    Ah, sorry. Yes, taxation doubles the price at the pumps. We even have a consumption tax (GST) on top of the fuel taxes. That said, oil just moved from 95/barrel (109/ltr) to 104/barrel (129/ltr) a 20% increase.

  161. “The constraint is that if the crude oil price were to rise too high then it would be economically viable to produce syncrude from coal using the LSE process. This would take some of the available market for crude.”

    Only if the flow rate from LSE can replace the flow rate of oil. If not, it will only have a minor influence on the price of oil. US demand is down, hence less oil needed, yet the price is rising. China is increasing consumption some 8% per year.

    “The maximum is ~US$94/bbl so the crude price rarely rises to this level and cannot be sustained at this level.”

    Sounds like a number from thin air. It only APPEARS to be a ceiling. Like the climate, future oil prices are near impossible to predict.

  162. jrwakefield:

    I am getting fed up with your refusal to read anything put to you.

    Now at August 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm you assert

    The problem is there isnt an alternative to oil that replaces oil. Electric cars everywhere? Right… Oil is needed to make those cars.

    Absolute rubbish!

    Willis explained that synthetic crude oil (i.e. syncrude) is a possibility in his above article and in the subsequent thread I have repeatedly discussed syncrude.

    Please read and think before posting. We know you believe in ‘peak oil’. And it is clear that your faith is unshakeable. But it is annoying that you refuse to register anything which refutes your faith. Please address the refutations and stop pretending they don’t exist.

    Richard

  163. jrwakefield:

    I take severe exception to your assertion in your post at August 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

    I repeatedly said, first at August 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

    We proved the LSE technology both practically and economically with a demonstration plant at Point of Ayr, Wales, in the early 1990s.

    And you queried the LSE price to which I answered

    The maximum is ~US$94/bbl so the crude price rarely rises to this level and cannot be sustained at this level.

    and your reply to that is

    Sounds like a number from thin air.

    Just because you make stuff up (see Willis’ comment at August 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm) does NOT mean others do.

    Withdraw your offensive remark.
    I shall refuse to respond to anymore of your twaddle until you do.

    Richard

  164. Of that $104.00 per barrel, just how much it is “in-country” -= that is, “getting-it-out-of-the-country” taxes?

    If OPEC, by political decision, drove the price of oil from 5.00/barrel to 35.00 dollars per barrel, then their “tax” on the oil is 30.00/35.00 or 6/7 of its “price”. Further, how much of that 4.00 gallon price added to (or required by) the government’s added taxes on each employee and its purchase made for the oil company?

    If I pay an engineer 45.00 per hour for a year, 50% of her wages are going to state, local, and federal taxes in one way or another over that year.

  165. jrwakefield:says @ At August 22, 2013 at 7:59 am you comment on something I wrote saying

    Fact: Hay is grown to meet demand, oil is not.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Fact: You don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

    You didn’t have to put together a group to buy hay in Canada and arrange to ship a 53 ft load down to North Carolina because the hay crop failed.

    You didn’t almost roll the equipment or have your neighbor killed because his equipment rolled while haying. (Actually I did roll a tractor but jumped clear)

    Your horse/mule/oxen is good for about 15 to 30 miles in a day (remember they are grazers) so how far out can you go before it is uneconomical to haul the hay into the city? What about the competition with the land needed to grow human food?

    And then there is the problem of what to do with the ERRrrr processed hay.

    The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894
    We commonly read or hear reports to the effect that “If trend X continues, the result will be disaster.” The subject can be almost anything, but the pattern of these stories is identical. These reports take a current trend and extrapolate it into the future as the basis for their gloomy prognostications. The conclusion is, to quote a character from a famous British sitcom, “We’re doomed, I tell you. We’re doomed!” Unless, that is, we mend our ways according to the author’s prescription. This almost invariably involves restrictions on personal liberty….

    The fundamental problem with most predictions of this kind, and particularly the gloomy ones, is that they make a critical, false assumption: that things will go on as they are. This assumption in turn comes from overlooking one of the basic insights of economics: that people respond to incentives. In a system of free exchange, people receive all kinds of signals that lead them to solve problems. The prophets of doom come to their despondent conclusions because in their world, nobody has any kind of creativity or independence of thought—except for themselves of course.

    A classic example of this is a problem that was getting steadily worse about a hundred years ago, so much so that it drove most observers to despair. This was the great horse-manure crisis.

    ….The problem of course was that all these horses produced huge amounts of manure. A horse will on average produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. Consequently, the streets of nineteenth-century cities were covered by horse manure. This in turn attracted huge numbers of flies, and the dried and ground-up manure was blown everywhere. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced 2.5 million pounds of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of. (See Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999])….

    n 1898 the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abIandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis posed by urban horses and their output.

    The problem did indeed seem intractable. The larger and richer that cities became, the more horses they needed to function. The more horses, the more manure. Writing in the Times of London in 1894, one writer estimated that in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure. Moreover, all these horses had to be stabled, which used up ever-larger areas of increasingly valuable land. And as the number of horses grew, ever-more land had to be devoted to producing hay to feed them (rather than producing food for people), and this had to be brought into cities and distributed—by horse-drawn vehicles. It seemed that urban civilization was doomed.…..

    “Peak Oil” is just another “Great Horse-Manure Crisis”

  166. Gail Combs:

    Indeed those are concerns. There could be particular suffering in the third world in event of price spikes and countries like the U.S. having unexpected downturns in the amount available for export.

    I actually hadn’t heard of farm dust regulation before, but that is informative.

    And dropping the national grain reserve is a bad idea.

    Some notes on one particular other matter, though:

    Fertilizer is not primarily fundamentally dependent on oil. The Haber process for making nitrogen fertilizer most essentially just needs an energy source, a hydrogen source, and a nitrogen source (from air). Ammonia is NH3 after all. Most ammonia production today is by using natural gas (such as in the U.S.) and by coal (such as in China). Although hydrogen from steam reforming of natural gas tends to be cheaper, hydrogen can be made from water via electrolysis, like Iceland made thousands of tons of ammonia fertilizer using excess electricity from hydroelectric plants.

    Even nuclear power can make ammonia fertilizer. In fact, decades ago, the U.S. Army once considered using nuclear power to synthesize ammonia as fuel for vehicles, since having engines burn it as fuel is unconventional but doable. (More common unconventional vehicles are ones running on compressed natural gas: rare in the U.S. or Europe today but 15 million worldwide).

    I don’t actually expect to see ammonia-fueled vehicles much, though, as:

    (a) Gasoline, diesel fuel, plastics, etc. could be synthesized more by Fischer-Tropsch methods which can use basically any carbon source and any energy source: coal, natural gas, inedible biomass, etc., if conventional gasoline wasn’t usually slightly cheaper than it. For example, even at current prices, most diesel fuel in South Africa is so synthesized by Sasol.

    In fact, while not quite as cheap as the conventional competition at current prices, synthesis of jet fuel, gasoline, and other hydrocarbon fuels using CO2 from seawater as the carbon source, water as the hydrogen source, and nuclear power as the energy source has been estimated by U.S. military / national lab studies to be doable at a few dollars per gallon.
    Technically we could turn (some of) the oceans and air into hydrocarbon fuel if we really wanted: a practically unlimited fuel supply.

    (b) There is a lot more oil, including with fracking, than commonly realized, and it may continue to mostly be cheaper than alternatives for a long time.

    But, anyway, from fertilizer to means of powering tractors, agriculture is less fundamentally dependent on oil than sometimes assumed.

    Of course, that doesn’t prevent price spikes and economic troubles from cooling and frost harming agriculture, though.

  167. A couple topics brought up by others:

    EROEI:

    Batteries have an EROEI of less than 1, but such are used for good reason. Fissioning a few kilograms of thorium to provide the energy to produce many thousands of tons of ammonia fertilizer or hydrocarbon fuel is fine. (And, like the Cohen quote in my first post in this threat discussed, there are enough billions of tons of fissionables for eons upon eons). Some forms of energy can be worth more than others, like portable fuel is worth more per joule than thermal power more suitable for just a large stationary facility. Economics are what really matter and what EROEI alone can mislead on.

    Waste heat:

    Earth is hit by 200000 terawatts of solar energy. Human energy usage averages just a few terawatts, minuscule in comparison, and, while waste heat can have a local effect, it has very little global temperature effect. (Bigger effects of human activity include how converting an area to irrigated agriculture changes its average temperature).

  168. Jimbo says: @ August 22, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Ooops!
    “The hypocrisy…..”
    …..I hear some big financial institutions and the US govt. are now blocking funding for coal powered stations for developing countries.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    That is because the World Bank got caught with its pants down.

    While the World Banks was producing an Alarmist Report and World Bank President Kim was saying “A 4-degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided” World Bank funding for coal power stations has soared 40-fold over the last five years to hit a record high of $4.4 billion in 2010.

    So the World bank was lending gobs of our tax money to China, India and other countries to build Coal Plants while having discussions with the US treasury about how to get a Carbon Tax passed in the USA. graph AND they got caught. Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing?

    So yeah Ooops! “Your hypocrisy is showing…..”

  169. “Willis explained that synthetic crude oil (i.e. syncrude) is a possibility in his above article and in the subsequent thread I have repeatedly discussed syncrude.”

    Syncrude is still oil. I was referring to non-fossil fuel alternatives. The question is still, will syncrude production rate be fast enough to make a significant dent? I dont know, and no one does at this point.

  170. “Withdraw your offensive remark.
    I shall refuse to respond to anymore of your twaddle until you do.”

    I read that. I wasnt trying to be offensive. Economics is one of those unpredictable realities. Oil price has shown that it can, and will, break $100. At 140 is subsequently collapsed big time, only to steadily rise again. Predictions are difficult and often wrong, but I would not be surprised to see oil break it’s all time high this cycle. Depends which crisis hits first, oil spike or debt wall. An oil spike will definitely provoke a debt crash, but a debt collapse would tank the price of oil. Maybe…

    And no, I do not believe anything. Faith and belief are the realm of religion. I just disagree with your assertions that the oil crisis will be easily solved. Things are rarely easily solved.

  171. “Your horse/mule/oxen is good for about 15 to 30 miles in a day (remember they are grazers) so how far out can you go before it is uneconomical to haul the hay into the city? What about the competition with the land needed to grow human food?”

    The number one biggest logistics nightmare of WWI was feeding horses. More than half the supplies was hay to feed horses used in the war. Entire shiploads of hay came from NA across the Atlantic.

    The problem of transportation distance is a real issue and shows how thermodynamics is so important. If it takes 6000 calories of food to deliver 600 calories each soldier consumes, you have a serious problem.

  172. “Earth is hit by 200000 terawatts of solar energy.” Meaningless number. 70% of the world is ocean, hence that energy cant be harnessed. Of land, how much can actually be covered in panels? Puny hundredths of a percent. Of that, panels turn less than 5% of the sunlight into power.

    We are having an explosion of panels on farms around here. So the data on what they actually produce is well known. Two pillars of 15 panels each, over the course of a year, produces less power than the house the homeowner consumes.

    And the people of Ontario are paying as much as 80c/kWh for that power, 20 times the spot price.

  173. richard verney says: @ August 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

    The fact is that people living in the developed world have a good quality of life because much of which they buy is produced at cheap rate in developing countries or 3rd world countries or due to the global nature of markets….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is a variation on the Broken Window Fallacy You are looking at the world as a fixed pie and figure the first world nations are getting a bigger slice. That is not the case. The key is how many people are just treading water, just trying to stay alive? That is working as hard as they can as subsistence farmers to feed their family with no time over for learning or building or the arts?

    I will repeat what I had above in very short couple of sentences.
    FOOD
    1810-30 Transfer of manufactures from the farm and home to the shop and factory was greatly accelerated
    1830 – About 250-300 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, and flail
    1840 – Farmers made up 69% of labor force
    (This is the stage most third world countries are IF they are lucky.)
    …..
    1930 – One farmer supplied 9.8 persons in the United States and abroad
    1930 – 15-20 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with 3-bottom gang plow, tractor, 10-foot tandem disk, harrow, 12-foot combine, and trucks
    1930 – Farmers made up 21% of labor force
    …..
    1970 – One farmer supplied 75.8 persons in the United States and abroad
    1970 – Farmers made up 4.6% of labor force
    1975 – 3-3/4 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with tractor, 30-foot sweep disk, 27-foot drill, 22-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution freed mankind from spending all his time just trying to feed, cloth and shelter himself. How many brilliant minds are wasted across this world because they can not read or write or worse died before the age of five. How many inventions were never discovered? How much art was never created?

    Raising others to our level DOES NOT IMPOVERISH US.

  174. Steven Mosher posted a video about http://www.suncatalytix.com/
    The man says the average home uses 31 KW/h per day. That sounds like a lot to me.
    On the graphic Willis posted, the very poor countries are on the bottom, and the countries on top are interesting because they are often the very hot and very cold ones, countries you would not want to live in without heating and/or air conditioning. Without cheap energy, many of us would be climate refugees (not climate change refugees).
    So take away the heating and cooling energy used; what would that graphic look like then?

  175. Why don’t you want anyone to use less energy? What about people who would even increase their bottom lines by using less energy, by eliminating wasteful factors? For example in and near Philadelphia, where there is a large number of poor homeowners, I see people refusing to spend about $40 more on a refrigerator to use $40 less electricity in just 2 years. I have seen people buy cheap brand 100 watt incandescents no brighter than 75W ones that cost no more at home centers, despite the lumen figures being in clear view on the packages. I have seen consumer electronic products that consume a couple to a few watts more than they need to when they are off. What about people with few or no children having an Escalade used only as a peronal vehicle, often mainly for commuting with no passengers?

  176. Willis Eschenbach: That means that at current usage rates we have at least 81 years of fossil fuels left, and under the above scenario (everyone’s energy usage at least equal to Spain and Italy) we have more than 46 years of fossil fuels left … ask me if I care. I’ll let the people in the year 2070 deal with that,

    OK. More than 46 years left. You haven’t somewhere posited that fossil fuels last more than a century, have you? I think it’s fair to consider the case that there are no backup diesel generators.

    Solar and wind are decreasing in price. If we figure 5% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 10% of what they cost now. If we figure 10% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 1% of what they cost now. I don’t exactly “believe” such a simple extrapolation, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

  177. Don Easterbrook says:
    August 22, 2013 at 10:27 am

    ….. Here are the U.S . census figures for population…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    How much of that population growth is from immigrants and their second generation children?
    26 years ago, Ronald Reagan signed an amnesty for 3 million illegal immigrants. Today the estimate in the news is 11 million but on top of that there are 4.5 million US citizen children (Anchor babies) with undocumented parents. “Instead of 11 million people we’re talking more about 16 million,” Passel said.

    If you then look at the demographics you find in Mexico the total fertility rate (TFR) is 2.25.

    According to the latest data, the percentage growth of Hispanics slowed from 4.2 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent last year. Their population growth would have been even lower if it weren’t for their relatively high fertility rates – seven births for every death. [TFR =7.0???] The median age of U.S. Hispanics is 27.6 years. link

    Another Article (PEW) shows birth rates of:
    WHITE:…….. 1.8
    ASIAN:…….. 1.8
    BLACK:…….. 2.1
    HISPANIC:… 2.4

    The total Fertility Rate for the USA in 2013 is 2.06

    Since 2.1 is considered the replacement rate I don’t see much of a problem except for that resulting from illegal immigration.

  178. Jtom: In the meanwhile, the philosophy you support is consigning millions to a nasty, brutal, and short life.

    One of the themes of this discussion is providing electric power to people who now have none. I did not consign them to a life without fossil-fueled electric plants, I commented that they are not likely to get any power that is more reliable or cheaper than solar and wind any time soon. Current PV technology is not what you played with as a kid, but is used to power A/C and ventilation in stores and assembly plants, as well as telecommunication.

  179. Matthew R Marler says: @ August 22, 2013 at 11:22 am
    ………..How many people here do not understand that in some poorly developed parts of the world wind and solar are less unreliable (though reliably “intermittent”) than deliveries of fossil fuels?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    If you are talking windmills they build themselves and can repair themselves I am all for it. Wind used to grind grain or pump water is a great idea BUT they need the technology and know how to do it themselves.

    Ye Ole Chinese Proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    My biggest problem with many ‘Progressives’ or “Socialists’ or whatever parasite politician is masquerading as same, is they do not heed that very wise saying. Instead they prefer George Bernard Shaw’s “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” A lose-lose for all parties except the politician who gains the lion’s share of the wealth and all the power.

  180. Willis: No, I didn’t say that. I said that if we divide the current proven reserves by the current usage plus the amount to bring the world’s poor up to Spain’s level, we get about fifty years.

    Fair enough. What you said was that you didn’t care what happened later; now you are fairly confident that fossil fuel will last much longer, as long as there is what I called “investment” in the more expensive kinds. Energy returned on energy invested is higher for wind and solar than for shale and tar sands, but drops dramatically if the electricity is converted to fuel. This just shows that more than one metric is needed for evaluating different energy sources. It would be foolish to use liquid fuel from tar sands to power the air conditioning for a school in AZ, whereas solar looks cost competitive against all alternatives. Contrariwise, it would be foolish to use liquid fuel made from solar powered electricity to power diesel freight trains hauling coal.

  181. Gail Combs: Wind used to grind grain or pump water is a great idea BUT they need the technology and know how to do it themselves.

    No argument here, but the same consideration applies to coal-fired power plants: they need regular maintenance and someone to guard the transmission lines and repair the step-down transformers after storms.

  182. Studies done show that “break even” for society is an ERoEI of 4:1.

    I’d like to see those studies. But they don’t make much sense to me. The relevant characteristic of advanced societies is large amounts of per capita energy, not large EROEIs. Nuclear fusion, among others, could provide humanity a huge amount of per capita energy and thus enable unparalleled levels of economic development at a very low EROEI.

  183. richardscourtney: That would still leave us 20 years to deal with it; e.g. by building nuclear plants to replace power plants that reach the ends of their operating lives.

    So we both favor more nuclear power. Meanwhile, what is the cheapest and fastest way to get electricity to the people who don’t have it?

  184. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Gail The Actuary from the Oil Drum has her own blog posts continuing now the Oil Drum is sut down. Last year she posted about this very topic.

    http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/07/18/how-much-oil-growth-do-we-need-to-support-world-gdp-growth/

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I think you missed a bit of the point. Even with outoil but WITH technology you go from subsistence farming to farms being able to feed 5 to 10 extra people. Heck Chiefio had a good post on work done by a researcher in India. By introducing some simple changes the good Dr. took a farm from the ‘Brutal and Short’ stage to a net exporter of food. What did he do?

    1. PEN THE GOATS (Willis I am sure understands that one if you don’t these photos explain)
    2. Have the kids cut and carry fodder to the goats.
    3. The fodder? Why the Leucaena leucocephala or Bean Tree which is very drought resistant and fixes nitrogen in the soil. (The goats have to be acclimated to the fodder)
    4. Instead of burning the goat dung, it is collected and fermented in an anaerobic digester (made of local materials – bricks in a hole in the ground)

    …the resultant methane gas piped to the huts to a “stove”. The stove was made of dried mud. Little more than shaped mud where the methane from fermentation, “Gobar Gas”, was mixed with air in a very low pressure ‘jet’ and burned under a pot, that sat in a hole in the dried mud. There was a “clay” (dried mud) chimney that took the exhaust gasses out of the hut. The stove was maybe the size of a can of stew and the chimney about the diameter of your wrist. link

    In fifteen years by keeping the goats from eating anything that sprouted AND placing the fertilizer (goat compost) back on the land the place went from bare dirt to a ‘Jungle’

    …Now we just “tie it together”. The children, instead of chasing goats, collect small twigs and leaves and take them to the goats in the pens. (Dad can cut larger limbs). The larger limbs provide fuel wood. Except… we are using Gobar gas, remember? Initially there may not be enough, so some wood may be used as the goat herd builds up; but eventually that wood becomes a salable product. It can also be used in ‘light manufactures’, so folks can start businesses making things of it.

    As the tree fixes nitrogen, soil improves. More grasses can grow under the trees. As the “fermented poo” makes for a great garden, and the goats are getting ever more ‘bean tree leaves’ and grasses, the village develops a surplus of vegetables, meat, and milk. As the women are no longer hunting for fuel, they turn these materials into more salable products. Cheeses, soaps, and fresh produce. Even jerky and fresh meat. A cycle of prosperity where before had been only desperation.

    But it’s not done yet…

    The canopy of the ‘been tree’ shades the ground. Rains that fall do not evaporate. They act as a wind break. The soils do not blow away. The roots hold hillsides in place. Erosion is halted. Now the rains don’t run off, they soak in. Evapotranspiration from the trees leads to even more rains (water cycling). The “desert” turns first to “savanna” and eventually to “tropical forest” or “agroforest”.

    At that point, the cycle is complete. A desert eroding to barren rocky dry wasteland reverts to lush forest and grasslands. Poverty becomes prosperity. It really can be that simple…..

  185. Matthew R Marler:

    In my post at August 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397499

    I adopted your assumptions, as I said,

    purely for sake of argument

    and I concluded saying to you

    Windfarms only have operational lives of 20 years so we would have wasted our investment in them. And that wasted wealth would not be available for the transition you claim would be needed.

    In other words, even on your own terms your argument is plain wrong.

    At August 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/double-the-burn-rate-scotty/#comment-1397764

    you have replied to that saying in total

    richardscourtney:

    That would still leave us 20 years to deal with it; e.g. by building nuclear plants to replace power plants that reach the ends of their operating lives.

    So we both favor more nuclear power. Meanwhile, what is the cheapest and fastest way to get electricity to the people who don’t have it?

    For the benefit of others, I point out
    you have conceded that “even on your own terms your argument is plain wrong” and you ask a question which has been answered.

    The cheapest and fastest way to get electricity to the people who don’t have it” is to build thermal power stations and to distribute their power by building a grid.

    There are several reasons for this

    1. Proven technology
    This is how developed countries did it.

    2. Minimal training and equipment.
    Centralised infrastructure requires a relatively small number of ‘expert’ engineers to operate, maintain and renovate the system, together with a centralised store of ‘spares’.

    Distributed infrastructure requires – at a minimum – a trained maintenance ‘operative’ in each locality together with local income sufficient for purchase of spares. This never works (e.g. the rapid introduction of agricultural tractors in Nigeria).

    The supply of electricity from a grid is greater and more reliable (i.e. less intermittent) from a grid system.

    3. Greater security
    Local gangsters take on the government (i.e. the army) when they sabotage an electricity grid.
    They steal from the locals whom they already control when they ‘take over’ a local electricity system
    (This was explained to you by RACookPE1978 in the concluding two paragraphs of his post at August 22, 2013 at 10:04 am but you have ignored it).

    4. etc.

    Richard

    PS I will be absent for at least a day after this so unable to reply.

  186. The Low Band UN Population Survey, the only one ever even close to accurate, has population peaking at < 8Bn by 2045 or so, and declining thereafter. The fundamentals of the scare-mongerers' case are egregiously erroneous.

  187. jrwakefield says:
    August 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Willis, only do from 2005 to today as I did: http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=53&aid=1&cid=ww,&syid=2005&eyid=2012&unit=TBPD Then compare that small fluctuation with the period before then.

    JR, your claim was:

    We have entered the longest period of no increase in oil production, 8 years now.

    The info you cite above, eight years worth, goes from a low of 84.5 to a high of 89.2 million barrels per day. That is called a “6% increase in oil production”, not eight years of “no increase in oil production”.

    Let me present my chart once again. It is from your exact same site you link to above.

    Yes, there was a short plateau around 2005 … you can see how trivial that is in the overall picture.

    Look, JR. You made the claim that oil production had stalled for eight years, and implied that it could even be the peak.

    In fact, as the graph shows, production is rising unabated, except for the slight depression from the 2007-8 global financial crisis. There’s no sign of any kind of a peak.

    Now, I said you’d already lost credibility. Continuing to fight for a nonsense claim of an imaginary 8-year plateau in production is not helping. Admit you were wrong, that there is no sign of a plateau, that oil production continues to increase, and move on.

    And this, folks, is why I don’t like dealing with peak oilers. Nothing gets through to them. JR may never admit he’s been pushing nonsense, and that there is no sign of any eight-year plateau or potential peak in the data.

    w.

  188. Donald L. Klipstein says:
    August 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Why don’t you want anyone to use less energy? What about people who would even increase their bottom lines by using less energy, by eliminating wasteful factors?

    Oh, I’m perfectly happy with people using less energy, or using the same amount more wisely. I support “reduce, reuse, recycle”. In fact, in large measure that’s what technology is about, using our energy more efficiently. My electric bill is as small as I can comfortably make it … with the emphasis on “comfortably”. As my friend Wally used to say, “We’re not put on this earth to see what we can do without” …

    I just don’t want to do what the “green” folk do and design a future where people are forced or compelled or expected or coerced to use less energy. To support that possibility, I calculated what it would take just to bring the bottom up, without taking the top down. You’re free to make any alternate calculation you’d like, that’s in part why I posted the spreadsheet.

    w.

  189. “I’d like to see those studies. But they don’t make much sense to me. The relevant characteristic of advanced societies is large amounts of per capita energy, not large EROEIs. Nuclear fusion, among others, could provide humanity a huge amount of per capita energy and thus enable unparalleled levels of economic development at a very low EROEI.”

    They were posted on the Oil Drum a few years back.

    Fusion is a pipe dream. How many decades have they been working on it without success? 60? How many more years do we wait for it?

    We can have all the electrical power we will ever need within 10 years with Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. We know it works. We just, for some reason, dont have the political will to start. It’s almost like some people of power dont want humanity to advance.

  190. “Solar and wind are decreasing in price. If we figure 5% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 10% of what they cost now. If we figure 10% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 1% of what they cost now. I don’t exactly “believe” such a simple extrapolation, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.”

    Number pulled from thin air. If anything our experience in Ontario is wind is costing more each year.

    Over all wind will be the biggest folly humanity has ever undertaken. The reason is simple. Wind cannot be relied on for 24/7/365 “there when you need it” power. Second, studies now show that turbines lose ability with age, by several percent per year. They only last some 20 years, and hence will need to be replaced everywhere every year, after the first 20 years. Hawaii and California, and others, have hundreds of dead turbines rusting away. In 20 years time we are going to be burdened with thousands of useless wind turbines which will all have to come down.

  191. Henry Clark says….
    on Farming….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Thanks for the information on fertilizers.

    What I was trying to get at was the use of current technology + energy allows modern farmers to feed 75 extra people instead of 0 to 10. You still have to mine the ore and smelt the metal, manufacture the chemicals, transport the food and the seed (Seed saving has been all but banned) Take away the energy needed to do modern farming and you are back to farmers feeding ~ 10 extra people instead of 75. That puts you back to 1930s level of farming and when farmers made up 21% of labor force instead of 2.6% and that is IF you are lucky.

    Without the energy to mine and refine metal and manufacture the heavy equipment it is made into, you are back to subsistence farming. In 1840 farmers made up 69% of labor force this dropped to 58% with the invention and addition of farm machinery and the move from human energy to animal energy, that is with 2-horse straddle-row cultivator steel sulky plows, grain drill, mowing machines, threshing machines, irrigation, and chemical fertilizers (Self-governing windmill perfected in 1854)

    Between 1850 and 1890 there was a burst of technological invention by 1890 – Most basic potentialities of agricultural machinery that was dependent on horsepower had been discovered and Farmers made up 43% of labor force. So without tractors you STILL had 50% of your labor doing nothing but feeding the nation.

    The more people you have occupied in growing food and nothing else the less wealth (durable goods and services) the country can produce and therefore the lower the standard of living and the lower the level of civilization. In the USA, out of the 2.1 million ‘farmers’ only 70,000 are GROSSING over $500,000 (net income of $25,000 and up.) Most farmers have other jobs outside the farm or their wives work often both. Producing food is a minor blip in the work force BECAUSE of the substitution of chemical/nuclear energy for muscle energy.

  192. Matthew R Marler says: @ August 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    ….Solar and wind are decreasing in price. If we figure 5% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 10% of what they cost now. If we figure 10% reduction per year, in 46 years they’ll cost about 1% of what they cost now….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You are missing the entire point.

    Solar and wind are NICHE energy sources and actually of less use than horse/ox/mule muscle power because they are intermittent where as your draft animal is ‘on demand’. Solar is fine for running city street lights and especially traffic lights. Solar is absolutely great for running an electric fence in the middle of your farm where there is no access to electric. Windmills are decent for pumping water into livestock watering troughs. BUT there is a darn good reason farmers in the USA quit using windmills and went with diesel generators instead.

    Solar and wind are NICHE energy because solar and wind are intermittent and batteries, solar and wind are OLD technology. (If you really want to go ‘alternate energy’ at home go Geothermal for heating and cooling.)
    the first genuine solar cell was built around 1883 by Charles Fritts As I said above the self-governing windmill was perfected in 1854.

    Battery History:…
    1836 Daniell Cell- The Voltaic Pile could not deliver an electrical current for a long period of time. Englishman, John F. Daniell invented the Daniell Cell that used two electrolytes: copper sulfate and zinc sulfate. The Daniel Cell lasted longer then the Volta cell or pile…. link

    That makes the technological breakthroughs well over one hundred years old. Al we have done sice then is to ‘refine’ the concept.

    On top of those problems is the entire energy system has to be revamped to deal with the intermittent problem. You need a ‘Smart Grid’ and you need ‘Smart Appliances’ that allows energy companies to individually shut down private residences or appliances via ‘Rolling blackouts’ without disrupting power to the government or industry. The ONLY reason to go this rout is to assert the government’s authority over the individual.

    So why in heck are we wasting all our time and effort on a less than optimum system? The ONLY reason I can think of to go this rout is to assert the government’s authority over the individual. The Thorium Salt reactor was proven technology designed to power aircraft in the 1950s. The US navy has used nuclear subs for years. There is even talk of a nuclear powered car. from General Electric no less.

    The 500MW molten salt nuclear reactor: Safe, half the price of light water, and shipped to order
    ….MIT and Transatomic’s Russ Wilcox certainly thought so last year, when he told Forbes that the coming years would be “a fabulous time to do a leapfrog move”. It was a strident statement at the time, even for a company boasting the former CTO of the nuclear pioneer Westinghouse, and the head of nuclear engineering at MIT. This week, though, Transatomic finally co-localized its money and its mouth, announcing a potential leapfrog technology that they claim could re-energize the energy industry: they claim to know how to make nuclear reactors smaller….

    For the purpose of efficiency, it seems that the only solution is to build more and smaller reactors, but such mini-plants have only produced 200 megawatts or so; their energy production doesn’t approach the inflection point that marks the greatest possible efficiency, and the beginning of diminishing returns….

    Enter Transatomic’s molten salt reactor (MSR). Researchers have actually had working models of the MSRs since the ’60s, but they’ve never been used for commercial purposes. One reason is that much of nuclear’s research capital comes from the military, and bulky MSR technology has traditionally been less desirable for submarines and aircraft carriers than their relatively slim light-water cousins. Another is that the plants require a separate facility to filter their core mixture. Still, for the purposes of mass land power production, the MSR design has some serious advantages, most importantly with respect to our two key issues: safety and cost….

    In the same vein, Transatomic’s proposed reactor would also have a so-called freeze plug — an actively cooled barrier that melts in the event of a power failure, leading all nuclear material to automatically drain into a reinforced holding tank. These reactors are “walk away safe,” meaning that a power failure, a runaway heat cascade, and a general worker’s strike could all happen on the same day — and the worst we’d suffer is loss of service….

    Then, there are the costs. Transatomic claims their reactor will be capable of pumping out 500 megawatts for a total initial cost of about $1.7 billion. By comparison, the super-advanced light water Westinghouse AP1000 pumps out a little over 1000 megawatts for an estimated $7 billion. That’s about half the cost per megawatt, at least on paper….

    Norway Begins Four Year Test Of Thorium Nuclear Reactor

    Solar and wind have been nothing but a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich and a means for the government to assert authority over individual lives. If there was true concern we would ALL have geothermal heating and cooling systems. Instead we have bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco crucifixes.

  193. Richard S. Courtney: The cheapest and fastest way to get electricity to the people who don’t have it” is to build thermal power stations and to distribute their power by building a grid.

    That might be true if the grid could be protected. Or even approved without excessive government “oversight” in the kleptocracies.

    On August 12 I posted links to recent reviews of costs and installation rates of current solar and wind technologies on the Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup.

    recent reviews of solar and wind power:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/11/top-10-gigawatts-installed-solar-capacity-infographic/

    http://www.winddaily.com/reports/Price_of_Wind_Energy_in_the_United_States_Is_Near_an_All_Time_Low_999.html

    it says the current cost of contracted wind power in the US is $0.04/kwh.

    No energy panaceas yet, but steady progress.

    One of the fun parts of this topic is that we get to review it again every year.

    Meanwhile, I do hope someone remembers that I favor development of more fossil fuels and nuclear power, and I don’t think the case for anthropogenic greenhouse gas induced global warming is very strong (I have called it “full of cavities”, “Swiss cheese”, and “aerogel”.) If someone thinks I am a “socialist” because I called government support for the Panama Canal and turbine engine development successes (let me add Hoover Dam and Gran Coulee Dam; as I recall, Willis praised the TVA, and I might as well add the REA) — well, “sticks and stones” and all that. See you next year.

    Any predictions? On the basis of recent reviews I expect that by this time next year worldwide production of electricity from wind and solar will have each doubled, and each will be 10% less expensive than now. Write your expectations today, and we can compare notes on August 23, 2014.

  194. Patrick: That has to be another $10,000 bet?

    No. We’ll just compare mean squared prediction error.

  195. “Matthew R Marler says:

    August 23, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Any predictions? On the basis of recent reviews I expect that by this time next year worldwide production of electricity from wind and solar will have each doubled, and each will be 10% less expensive than now. Write your expectations today, and we can compare notes on August 23, 2014.”

    My expectation is that almost all predictions are wrong. We will see.

  196. Patrick says:
    August 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Am I reading this graph right? Australia and Norway (Yes I know it’s cold there!), “per person”, consume similar volumes of “energy”. Yet Norway has a population of ~4.5million, Australia ~23million.

    Most of Norway’s energy comes from hydro.

  197. “Canman says:
    August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm
    On Mosher’s video in the first comment, @55 Minutes in, this guy’s group has come up with a new whiz-bang way of electrolyzing H2 and O2 out of water. @107 he admits he still needs a better fuel cell to use it. Good luck.

    The most important takeaway of the video is to dispell the nonsense that you can bring energy to the poor by building the same kind of infrastructure we have.

    The silly notion that you will power the poor by building grids and centralized power for them.

    Norcera’s solution, his particular implementation of personalized power, in the end didnt work, but that doesnt negate the fundamental insight that you cannot “cost down” or scale down
    centralized power to fit poor countries.

  198. “TimTheToolMan says:
    August 22, 2013 at 6:14 am
    JJB MKI writes “Perhaps you’d agree though that an uncritical assumption that high energy usage in the developed world automatically equals ‘terrible’ is a bit irritating, as is the posting of long videos and links with no commentary or summary from the poster?”

    That’s (often) Mosher’s MO.

    ##################

    The point is to test your intelligence and also your willingness to sit through something were you may disagree with some of what is said.

    Its why I read comments at WUWT. you never know when you are going to learn something.

    The fundamental point that I hope people would get from the video centers around the insight that we cannot be stupidly focused on trying to bring our style of energy production ( centralized with a grid) to poor people. aint gunna work.

    The problem is not transitioning the “haves” to new forms of energy production. we could of course afford to go all renewable. The costs would be huge but it would not drag us down to the level of the poorest of the poor. plese note, I dont think wee should do this, but we could.

    In the other hand you cant solve the “energy for the poor” by giving them our style of solution.
    The cant afford our style of solution, whether that centralized plant is coal, nuke, gas, wind farms.. whatever that approach wont work. They cant afford our kind of solution.

  199. “TImothy Sorenson says:
    August 22, 2013 at 9:32 am
    @Steve Mosher
    The company Prof. Nocera got involved with was Sun Catalytix that as of Mar. 2013
    has abandoned (put on hold) pursuing energy storarge via PV->H2 storage and instead is working with some sort of “designer molecules”. You see, the theoretical possibilities are sometimes easy to explain, but are then dang hard to actually achieve effectively.”

    yes, Im well aware of it.

    I expected several kinds of stupid replies to the video. You fulfilled my expectations.

    Lets review the bidding.

    by 2050 we can expect, but nothings sure, to have around 9B people on the planet, maybe 8.5, its matters little call it 8 billion.

    There are curently 3 billion people who are energy poor.
    There are another 2-3 billion coming.

    you wont service those 6 billion people with cheap energy by using a centralized approach.

    thats the opportunity.

    Norcera failed in his implementation.

    Put it another way, given the realities of trying to cost down our current approach (centralized)
    and given the political resistance to adding more C02, there is an opportunity to attack the problem of powering the poor from an entirely different angle.

    To date both sides have focused on either

    1. denying the poor affordable power by promoting taxes on carbon
    2. Pushing expensive solutions as the answer.

    there’s a third way, or rather an opportunity to change the game entirely.

    since I think we will innovate our way [out] of the c02 problem and the power for the poor problem, I of course like to focus on the opportunity and not old ways of thinking.

  200. JJB MKI says:
    August 22, 2013 at 4:13 am
    @Steven Mosher
    I got as far as “Look at where the US is, we’re terrible!” (delivered with requisite smugness) before I gave up.

    ###########

    this too was an an expected reaction.

    in my experience its often useful to listen for those points where I can agree. Its easy to find points of disagreement, but as a good skeptic I realize that I shouldnt fool myself and decide too early that there is nothing worthwhile in a presentation.

  201. M. Marler says:

    With respect to installed capacity, however, solar and wind generation are increasing at a higher percentage rate, and the power will be available 46 years from now [figure from Willis' text] when there is no more coal, oil and natural gas for the Chinese to import.)

    But 46 years is twice the lifespans of windmills and solar panels.

  202. “rogerknights says:

    August 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Most of Norway’s energy comes from hydro.”

    And Australia is largely coal, and yet we have almost the same per-capita emissions, as Wills pointed out, with ~5 times the population.

  203. jrwakefield says:
    August 23, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Willis, that is total over all supply, not just crude oil. Plot just crude oil. http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=57&aid=1&cid=ww,&syid=2005&eyid=2010&unit=TBPD

    Glad to. I plotted the old one from your old citation, now you’re unhappy with it, so here you go, from your new citation.

    Note how in the few years immediately prior to the big financial crash in 2007, production ramped up to meet the world’s lunatic spending and expansion. The crash knocked that back, but since then we’re back on track.

    Now, once again I say, your claim was:

    We have entered the longest period of no increase in oil production, 8 years now.

    Obviously, that’s a bullshit fantasy. There has been no eight-year plateau. There is no sign of a slowdown in production, we’re right on the long-term trend line. And over the last four years we’ve seen the normal growth in production.

    Now you can admit that you were wrong and that there is no sign of the dreaded “peak oil”, and earn everyone’s approbation.

    Or you can continue to fight for your claim, a claim which has been proven to be wrong

    Your choice,

    w.

  204. jrwakefield says:
    August 23, 2013 at 5:22 am

    “I’d like to see those studies. But they don’t make much sense to me. The relevant characteristic of advanced societies is large amounts of per capita energy, not large EROEIs. Nuclear fusion, among others, could provide humanity a huge amount of per capita energy and thus enable unparalleled levels of economic development at a very low EROEI.”

    They were posted on the Oil Drum a few years back.

    BZZZT! Next contestant, please. Bad JR, no cookies. Claiming that studies support your ideas, and then refusing to cite them chapter and verse? That’s just handwaving.

    w.

  205. Patrick: My expectation is that almost all predictions are wrong.

    My expectation is that all predictions are wrong. Hence my proposal to score the inaccuracies of the diverse predictions.

  206. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 23, 2013 at 7:08 am

    …On August 12 I posted links to recent reviews of costs and installation rates of current solar and wind technologies on the Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup.

    recent reviews of solar and wind power:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/11/top-10-gigawatts-installed-solar-capacity-infographic/

    http://www.winddaily.com/reports/Price_of_Wind_Energy_in_the_United_States_Is_Near_an_All_Time_Low_999.html

    it says the current cost of contracted wind power in the US is $0.04/kwh.
    No energy panaceas yet, but steady progress.

    One of the fun parts of this topic is that we get to review it again every year.

    It’s an interesting report. It also says that the average cost of non-wind power in the US is $0.03/kwh, meaning wind is still, after years and years of development, 33% more expensive than fossil and is totally unreliable.

    How you (or anyone) thinks that is a good deal escapes me.

    Meanwhile, I do hope someone remembers that I favor development of more fossil fuels and nuclear power, and I don’t think the case for anthropogenic greenhouse gas induced global warming is very strong (I have called it “full of cavities”, “Swiss cheese”, and “aerogel”.) If someone thinks I am a “socialist” because I called government support for the Panama Canal and turbine engine development successes (let me add Hoover Dam and Gran Coulee Dam; as I recall, Willis praised the TVA, and I might as well add the REA) — well, “sticks and stones” and all that. See you next year.

    I asked you a direct question above, which as far as I know you declined to answer, viz:

    Mmmm … I guess my first question is that when folks say “invest … in all reasonable alternatives”, they usually mean “subsidize all reasonable alternatives”. So far, we’ve tried that with wind, solar, and ethanol. It has been spectacularly unsuccessful with all three. None of them are economically competitive at the grid-power level.

    So what do you mean by “invest”?

    Still curious …

    Any predictions? On the basis of recent reviews I expect that by this time next year worldwide production of electricity from wind and solar will have each doubled, and each will be 10% less expensive than now. Write your expectations today, and we can compare notes on August 23, 2014.

    My goodness, my constant importunings to run the numbers before making claims and predictions seem to be falling on barren ground. You might want to revise your prediction radically downwards in light of the following graph of worldwide production increases:

    Data from the EIA.

    Of interest:

    1. The global annual increase in electric generation from solar has NEVER been greater than 66%.

    2. The global annual increase in electric generation from wind has NEVER been greater than 48%.

    3. The average annual increase in electric generation from wind over the last ten years is 27%.

    In other words, your prediction that they will both go up by 100% just reveals that you didn’t do your homework …

    w.

  207. rogerknights says:
    August 23, 2013 at 9:33 am
    But 46 years is twice the lifespans of windmills and solar panels.
    Well that would be a long lifespan. Was it not that solar panels lose some 10% per year in efficiency?
    Wanted to double check but it is difficult to find some real articles on it, the internet is full of advertising and garbage when one searches.

  208. rogerknights says:
    August 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Patrick says:
    August 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Am I reading this graph right? Australia and Norway (Yes I know it’s cold there!), “per person”, consume similar volumes of “energy”. Yet Norway has a population of ~4.5million, Australia ~23million.

    Most of Norway’s energy comes from hydro.

    Patrick, I’m not clear on why a country’s population should have some bearing on its per-capita energy use. The relevant factors in per capita use are usually cost (as Roger points out regarding hydro), national income, and population density. Figures on cost are elusive, but here’s the relationships.

    Click here for the active Gapminder graph, you can identify the other countries. Note how the big users of energy tend to be in large sparsely populated countries (Australia, Russia, US, Canada) OR in oil producing countries where the cost is low OR in hydroelectric land (Sweden, Norway, Finland) where the cost is low.

    All the best,

    w.

  209. Willis Eschenbach: Data from the EIA.

    Yeh. Diverse sources make diverse claims. I put up links to two somewhat more favorable reviews.

    What is the meaning of invest? well, here are some federal examples: TVA, REA, Panama Canal, aeronautics in general and turbine engines in particular; radar, Hoover Dam; Grand Coulee dam, DARPA net, epidemiological and bacteriological research, Interstate Highway System. That’s besides wind, solar, corn ethanol and other biofuels. It’s a mixed bag. If the costs of solar fall sufficiently, it will be as good an investment of federal tax money as turbine engines.

    One of the links said that the current long-term contract cost of electricity from wind is $0.04 per kwh. My computations for solar (site-dependent) give costs between $0.06 and $0.08 per kwh, all costs included, at my house.

    See you next year.

  210. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Willis Eschenbach: Data from the EIA.

    Yeh. Diverse sources make diverse claims. I put up links to two somewhat more favorable reviews.

    You are right. You put up links to two favorable reviews, which had no data about percentage growth year over year.

    I put up a graph with links to the US IEA data about percentage growth year over year, which had no reviews, favorable or otherwise. You know … plain vanilla evidence? Facts?

    So if you’d like to put your money where your mouth is, I’m happy to bet a thousand bucks on whether or not both wind and solar will double by next year. We can let Anthony hold the stakes, use the official US IEA figures.

    Or not … I’m just saying, you haven’t done your homework. You claim you have … wanna bet? Because I bet you haven’t …

    w.

  211. Willis,

    I was thinking about this some more. What do you think would be a reasonably sustainable year on year change in solar and wind power? You say the IEA data say there has never been a year with a greater than 66% year on year increase on total solar power — so perhaps 33% per year is sustainable. What will the year on year decline in price be? Maybe 5% — for solar the price of the chips declined 50% one year, but 5% is closer to the annual decline for whole systems, though my calculations for my home are closer to 10%.

    Over what time span can you plan to increase total global fossil fuel consumption be implemented? For now, I’ll guess 20 years, but we can make this a “homework” assignment and get a good figure for next year. Will fossil fuel cost more or less than now, adjusted for inflation? Another homework assignment; recently, natural gas prices fell in the US (inducing conversion of coal-fired plants to gas), and then rose (inducing reconversion of some back to coal.) It is hard to see alternatives growing fast enough to quench demand for fossil fuels by much, so I expect it to cost more.

    What will it all look like in 20 years? 300 times as much electricity from wind and solar as now? At a cost of 36% of what it is now? Maybe. I think more likely at least 500 times as much as now (helping to lower the cost of fossil fuels) and costing only 25% of what it costs now.

    I prefer mean square error. I say 100% increase in each by next August, and 10% less costly than now. What do you think? Less than a 100% increase? Less than a 66% increase? Less than a 33% increase? You see the problem: if I bet on 100% and you bet on 80%, and the actual is 66%, that is a major increase for solar and wind, (in accordance with my other phrase of doubling every 1 – 3 years) but I lose the bet.

    Meanwhile, do you think that total fossil fuel use will increase at 10% per year for a half century? Or even for 20 years? And stay at today’s costs?

  212. Willis Eschenbach: So what do you mean by “invest”?

    I provided a list of examples. A list of examples is called an “ostensive definition”, the most common kind of definition, usually the kind upon which other definitions are based. “Electricity” and “magnetism”, for example, were initially defined by the examples of how they are produced.

    Perhaps you meant to ask “By whom?” I gave examples of successful federal projects. One of those, the Panama Canal, might not be deemed “successful”, might even be deemed a “boondoggle” because its construction was financed by tax money, and it always ran with a federal subsidy (the fees charged to ships that used it never covered its operations and maintenance costs.)

    By “investment” I mostly refer to the time, money, and labor.

  213. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 24, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Willis Eschenbach: So what do you mean by “invest”?

    I provided a list of examples.

    Thanks, Matt, and my apologies, I’d missed them.

    What is the meaning of invest? well, here are some federal examples: TVA, REA, Panama Canal, aeronautics in general and turbine engines in particular; radar, Hoover Dam; Grand Coulee dam, DARPA net, epidemiological and bacteriological research, Interstate Highway System. That’s besides wind, solar, corn ethanol and other biofuels. It’s a mixed bag. If the costs of solar fall sufficiently, it will be as good an investment of federal tax money as turbine engines.

    You have given several very different and entirely distinct categories under the term “invest”. You have included:

    • Building out proven technologies that we know will work (TVA, REA)

    • Paying for the development of military technologies (aeronautics, turbine engines, radar)

    • Building transportation, water, and communications infrastructure (Panama Canal, Hoover and Grand Coulee dams, DARPA net, Interstate Highway System.)

    • Doing basic research in health (epidemiological research)

    So far so good. Those have all been proven successful, we’ve gotten good and sometimes great returns on all of those.

    But then you add, in a throwaway line:

    • Subsidizing Solyndra and solar

    • Subsidizing (and requiring) ethanol

    • Subsidizing wind generated electricity

    Those have all been huge, costly, and unsuccessful boondoggles. Not only that, but the money spent is in the form of subsidies (or “minimum requirements”), rather than in the form of actually building something like the Hoover Dam. After decades of subsidizing those renewable technologies, they are still more expensive than conventional fuel.

    So lumping all of those abject failures in subsidizing someone’s pet technologies on the one hand, with building the Panama Canal and the Grand Coulee dam on the other hand, and calling the mixture “investments” is a crime against the English language.

    I did love your boondoggler’s refrain, though. They alway say what you did, they say just give it another year and it will all be wonderful … or in your words “If the costs of solar fall sufficiently, it will be as good an investment of federal tax money as [whatever] …”

    Matt, I have the advantage of hearing Jimmy Carter say the same thing in different words about solar technologies when he wasted the first federal money on solar. Just wait until tomorrow, we were assured, it will all come right … bad news, Matt. Jimmy Carter gave his famous speech pushing the new idea of subsidizing solar energy in 1977. In it he said:

    World consumption of oil is still going up. If it were possible to keep it rising during the 1970s and 1980s by 5 percent a year as it has in the past, we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.

    … All of us have heard about the large oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope. In a few years when the North Slope is producing fully, its total output will be just about equal to two years’ increase in our nation’s energy demand.

    Each new inventory of world oil reserves has been more disturbing than the last. World oil production can probably keep going up for another six or eight years. But some time in the 1980s it can’t go up much more. Demand will overtake production. We have no choice about that.

    jrwakefield, you awake? You see why you guys’ claims that we have to throw more money at solar are not just crap, but old, tired, recycled crap? The President of the freakin’ USA said EXACTLY WHAT YOU GUYS ARE SAYING THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, scaring us about how we’re about to run out of oil and we have to “invest” in solar. Of course, back then we didn’t know better, we hadn’t realized the “peak oil” scam was just a way to pressure people to subsize your brilliant energy ideas.

    Now you pop up and say the same thing, we have to throw money at solar, it will come good and this time we really, really mean it … and you expect to be believed?

    Sorry, Matt, but after thirty-five years of listening to that kind of nonsense, some of us have wised up. Your technique, of wrapping up the money wasted in solar and wind and ethanol, with money spent building the Panama Canal, and calling it all “investments”, is far too reminiscent of the financial crisis—the banks mixed bad loans in with the good to sell the whole package. Invoking the name of the TVA and the REA doesn’t magically make the money wasted on ethanol an “investment”.

    w.

  214. Willis, meanwhile, tell us how and who will do it there will be an 80% increase in fossil fuel generation directed toward the people who don’t have electricity. We have a sort of contest of impossibilities here.

    Invoking the name of the TVA and the REA doesn’t magically make the money wasted on ethanol an “investment”.

    Shucks, I was hoping that you wouldn’t notice. Don’t forget to include the turbine engine development.

    FWIW, I am as old as you, give or take a few years.

  215. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Willis,

    I was thinking about this some more. What do you think would be a reasonably sustainable year on year change in solar and wind power?

    0%, because if all subsidies were removed nobody would buy them.

    w.

  216. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Willis, meanwhile, tell us how and who will do it there will be an 80% increase in fossil fuel generation directed toward the people who don’t have electricity. We have a sort of contest of impossibilities here.

    Huh? All I was doing is trying to get an accurate handle on the SIZE of the project. Read my post again. I said nothing about who might do it or how it would be done. I was just correcting my (or others) misconception. See, I’d wrongly believed that the task was five or ten times that large.

    But that was all I said, that the task is only a tenth of the size I’d thought. The rest of it, who would do what where by when, those are all good questions … but why would you look to me for an answer? I’m just pointing out that the job is nowhere near as big as I’d thought.

    But heck, if you want part of an answer of who could do it, President Clueless could start by not denying a loan to Vietnam to build a coal plant, or by approving the KeystoneXL pipeline, or by stopping interfering with exploration for oil, or by stopping passing out millions in green subsidies to his pals and political contributors for imaginary electricity generating systems based on rainbows and methane from unicorn farts … but you knew that already.

    w.

  217. RE: Thorium

    One thing to keep in mind is that ‘Thorium’ is NOT a source of energy. It is only a source of artificial uranium that actually releases energy via nuclear fission. As long as there is sufficient natural uranium in the ground, there is no reason to develop the delicate and complicated mechanisms for transmuting thorium 232 into fissionable uranium 233. That need may be a millennium or so away.

    The real advantage is the Molten Salt Fueled Reactor that can get six more times as much energy from a given amount of uranium because the fluid does not have to be replaced after only a small amount has been burned as is true for solid fuel rods, which bulge with accumulated fission products and must be removed early to prevent reactor jamming.

    Here is a recent talk by Canadian Dr. David LeBlanc on the outlook for developing uranium fueled molten salt reactors.

    David LeBlanc of Terrestrial Energy on Denatured Molten Salt Reactors @ TEAC5
    Uploaded by gordonmcdowell
    1122 Views, 21 likes, 0 dislikes; 36:44 min:sec
    Published on Jul 2, 2013
    “Molten Salt Reactors are compared. Thorium vs Uranium. Burner vs Breeder. Single fluid vs two fluid. Fast spectrum vs thermal. Denatured & not. LeBlanc argues that denatured single fluid thermal spectrum molten salt reactor is the fastest reactor possible for certification, and still offers many benefits over solid fuel reactors.”

    “Captured at TEAC5, the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference #5, held in Chicago on May 30, 2013.”

  218. Willis: All I was doing is trying to get an accurate handle on the SIZE of the project. Read my post again. I said nothing about who might do it or how it would be done.

    Yeh, I know. getting a good idea of the size of the problem was a good idea. I was thinking, counterfactually, what I would do with $3B to provide electric power to people who don’t have it. I’d be encouraged by your analysis, but I’d donate PV panels instead of launching a decades long process of government lobbying/planning to build adequate roads, pipelines, transmission lines, cooling towers, etc for the centralized facilities. Toting up all the costs, benefits, problems and such I think more good would come from distributed, roof-mounted PV power. I’d have not said so 10 years ago, and certainly not during Carter’s presidency.

    As to reliability, the San Onofre power plant was disabled by a pipe manufacturing problem. That’s about 1800 GW of power that is equally unavailable night and day. Luckily, there’s backup. In some parts of the world there is barely enough water for subsistence, without any available for cooling large centralized facilities. San Onofre is on the coast where water is always plentiful and cool. In other parts of the US the nuclear plants have to slow down when the water levels decline or the water warms up.

    The comparison of subsidy per kilowatt hour is informative. Most people think the subsidies to nuclear are larger than they are. Nevertheless, the table compares electricity actually produced over decades of nuclear, omitting the future decades of power produced by the solar installations to date. In 1955 one might have compared passenger miles per dollar of subsidies to reciprocating engines to passenger miles per dollar of subsidies to turbine engines — highly favorable to reciprocating engines. What exactly the payoff for solar subsidies will be is only a matter of conjecture now, but almost all of it will be in the future.

    It’s a pleasure debating you, I should mention. You might be right.

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