Constructal GDP

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Encouraged by the response to my post on Adrian Bejan and the Constructal Law, which achieved what might be termed unprecedented levels of tepidity, I persevere. Here’s a lovely look at the energy use of the United States:

Figure 1. US 2002 Energy production and consumption by sector.

There are some interesting things which can be seen in this diagram.

1. Almost none of the power for electrical generation comes from oil. This means that even if the US could generate every Watt of electricity from solar/wind/whatever, it will not directly replace our consumption of oil.

2. Generation, transformation, and transmission losses eat up most of the energy used for electrical generation. Overall efficiency is 31%

3. Transportation is worse, with only 20% efficiency.

4. Nuclear is three times the size of hydro.

5. Wood, waste, alcohol, geothermal, solar, and wind electrical generation together are 3% of total energy use.

However, as interesting as I found those, that’s not the reason I started looking at energy use and GDP.

I was sucked into this subject by what I thought was an interesting quote from Adrian Bejan here (PDF, worth reading. My emphasis):

To summarize, all the high-temperature heating that comes from burning fuel (QH or the energy associated with QH and the high temperature of combustion; cf. Bejan 2006) is dissipated into the environment. The need for higher efficiencies in power generation (greater W/QH) is the same as the need to have more W, i.e. the need to move more weight over larger distances on the surface of the Earth, which is the natural phenomenon (tendency) summarized in the constructal law.

At the end of the day, when all the fuel has been burned, and all the food has been eaten, this is what animate flow systems have achieved. They have moved mass on the surface of the Earth (they have ‘mixed’ the Earth’s crust) more than in the absence of animate flow systems. The moving animal or vehicle is equivalent to an engine connected to a brake (figure 4), first proposed by Bejan & Paynter (1976) and Bejan (1982, 2006).

The power generated by muscles and motors is ultimately and necessarily dissipated by rubbing against the environment. There is no taker for the W produced by the animal and vehicle. This is why the GNP of a country should be roughly proportional to the amount of fuel burned in that country. (Bejan 2009).

I must confess, I had thought about GDP and energy before, but never from a thermodynamic standpoint. Here is a graph of per capita GDP and per capita energy consumption for a number of countries:

 

Figure 2. Per Capita Energy Consumption vs Per Capita GDP for Different Countries. PPP values are used. Image Source

OK, call me slow. I knew that depriving the developing world of affordable energy would impede development. But I had never realized that energy use is development, that there is a thermodynamic relationship between the two. I hadn’t noticed that if a country wishes to develop, it can only develop to the extent that it has energy, and no further. Lack of energy doesn’t merely hinder or slow or delay development of poor countries as I had thought.

It puts an absolute ceiling on development.

Given the number of people in the world living on a dollar a day or so, that’s a discouraging insight in the context of the current AGW war on fossil fuel energy.

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Gday Willis
Very interesting, and pretty much intuitive. We will only develop through further efficiency. Britain led the Industrial Revolution powered by the steam engine. You need a hell of a lot of ox carts to power a modern society.
One quibble- GDP is not the same as GNP.
Ken

Carl Chapman

Energy use is approximately proportional to GDP. I would say that’s fairly obvious.
People from an engineering, physics background, or even economics background would just take it for granted. They wouldn’t usually bother mentioning it.
People on the socialist side probably wouldn’t conceive of such a thing. They think wealth comes from government initiatives, or is just there waiting for governments to redistribute.
An example of wealth and energy is a ship loading wheat. Once a hundred men (no women) would lift heavy bags of wheat onto their shoulders and run up a gangway into the ship. Eventually the men’s spines would distort and their ribs would compress together. Now one man, or woman, presses a button and electric motors feed the wheat along a conveyor belt and into the hold at the rate of tonnes per minute. More energy, more wealth.

Dave Walker

Good post, good insight.
I’ve long suspected that economic activity can be described by thermodynamics, with money being a store of potential human energy.

crosspatch

Yes, energy consumption equals economic output.
For example. Imagine I grow a crop of apples. A certain amount of energy is consumed in producing them, harvesting, preparing for market, shipment to market, shipment to consumer and preparation for eating.
Now I want to double my apple production. I must now ship harvest, wash, and truck more apples to market. My energy consumption rises. The more the economy grows and factories open, the more energy is consumed as goods are manufacture and shipped.
Now look what happens when you tell the number 1 economic power on the planet that it is not allowed to build any more nuclear power and can not build any more coal plants and can not drill for any more oil. But other countries face no such restrictions. On top of that you add environmental regulations that make it impossible to build a steel mill or other heavy industrial plant but in the other countries you have no such regulations.
The result is that economic activity dies off in one country and explodes in the other. These regulations are designed to strangle our economy but having the people buy into it because they are fed a line of bull about “saving the planet” while the other countries are laughing all the way to the bank.
There is a way we could save a huge amount of oil. The railroad system is fairly easily electrified. Run an national electric rail system on nuclear power and we can still move goods even if the oil goes away.

Erik Ramberg

I come to a very different conclusion. The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2 without affecting GDP per capita. Putting a cap on energy consumption does not result in a lower standard of living.
Note that for the same energy consumption per capita (4 TOE), then some countries have only ~$7K GDP/capita, while others have $28K – an astonishing factor of 4 difference, demonstrating the incredible power of efficiency.
Another lesson from the graph is that the United States is paying a high price in CO2 emission for its only slightly higher GDP per capita.

AusieDan

Hi Willis
What you say is most important.
It makes sense.
It is quite fundamental.
There has been a distict disconnect between production and wealth in recent decades.
And a disconnect between wealth creation and the ability to get a job.
(Many of those people who have lost the plot, have university degrees and so have “positions” rather than mere jobs).
Hence the rise of the inner city green voter, who cannot tell the wood for the trees.
You are completely correct.
Jobs (including high ranking positions) need wealth and wealth needs production and production needs energy.
Somehow this bit of conceptional algebra has been lost in sophisticated learning.
We need to educate the educated masses once more.
So many people now work in services industries, that they have completley lost the plot.

John F. Hultquist

The size or scale of things is often difficult for some to grasp. Thus, the figure you provide is information rich but conceptually lacking. We need images in this era of the pixel. I’ve tried to explain about soil loss in tons per acre per year. Then I realized that most urban-living young people in the USA have no concept of a ton nor of an acre. Thus, communication in these terms is not possible. I had to use bags of sugar and flour – how many 5 pound bags in a ton? How many of our classrooms or football fields in an acre. Most students have seen a football field – none knew its relationship to an acre.
Regarding power, one needs a metric that a person can relate to. Perhaps show something, such as, watching chocolate drops (or Hershey’s Kisses, or M & Ms) flow from the product line. Figure out what part, say one inch on one side of the flow represented “nuclear power” and what part represented coal, and all the others. A good video overlaid with colored lines might help. The main thing would be to do this in a way that shows the magnitude and the relentless production.
Now take an image of a poor family cooking over a small fire of sticks that they have spent an hour or so collecting. What is their alternative? I return from some entertainment activity and I turn a knob on an electric range to cook dinner and miles away a power plant increases its output. My total power usage might be visually equivalent to adding one new chocolate drop or M & M to the daily production output. It would almost go unnoticed by the utility.
How can all the poor wood or dung burning families around the world reach the level of turning a knob on an electric range? Does my standard (GDP) have to go down for theirs to go up?

Alleagra

A terrific read on this subject is – ‘The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy’ by Peter Huber and Mark Mills which expands greatly on the information in this article.

AusieDan

Erik
Switzerland’s wealth did not come from restricting CO2 emissions.
What a strange idea!
It came from hundreds of years of careful accumulation of wealth by producing more than was consumed and wisely investing the surplus in wealth creating enterprises.
A very high level of education is also a major factor.

Willis Eschenbach

Erik Ramberg says:
November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm

I come to a very different conclusion. The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2 without affecting GDP per capita. Putting a cap on energy consumption does not result in a lower standard of living.

Thanks, Erik. The point I am making is that nobody has ever done it for less than about 0.75 TOE for each $10,000 of GDP. This puts an absolute limit at the bottom end. If you only have 1 TOE per person, and you are really efficient (think Swiss), you’ll get a per capita GDP of around $12,000 per person. Likely, it will be less than that, since global average is about $3,200 of GDP per TOE.

crosspatch

“the United States is paying a high price in CO2 emission ”
Exactly what does CO2 cost? That sentence right there says a lot. You apparently assume CO2 has some negative impact. Nobody has proved that to date.

Willis,
If you look at the relationship in the SRES between GDP and the warmth of the planet, you will see that the only way we get to a less warm planet is by impoverishing ourselves.
What the climate models prove is that a richer world is a warmer world. full stop. Which is why I can very easily accept models and say “the real question is not the science. the real question is the economics”
why fight their science when you can use their science to fight them?

John F. Hultquist

Erik Ramberg says: at 10:18 pm
Switzerland is not Canada. Please think of the geography. Going from Geneva to Zürich (about 220 km) stretches most of the way across Switzerland. A similar distance for a Vancouverite would not get her across B.C.

AusieDan

I note three countries with about the same GDP, Switzerland, Australia and Canada, but these three have quite different consumption of energy.
Switzerland is a small country with a highly educated population, with the most emphasis on brain type economic activity (international banking & high precision light manufacture etc).
Australia has a much more diverse industry spread, much of which requires high levels of energy input (mining, farming etc). The country is very large with a small population and a less than extensive public transportation system, which means considerable private car and aeroplane transport, both being very energy intensive.
Canada I do not know, but it is probably much the same as Australia, with the added problem of the extreme cold, which would require much more use of energy.
You can’t just wave a magic wand, ban coal & oil use and expect that things will just go on as before.
Comparative economic advantage is the key to relative energy consumption per unit of GDP per head.

Ben D.

Erik Ramberg says:
November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm
“I come to a very different conclusion. The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2 without affecting GDP per capita. Putting a cap on energy consumption does not result in a lower standard of living. ”

The point of this graph is not to compare two countries like you are doing but to demonstrate what was said in the abstract. Comparing two countries like you are is comparing apples and oranges. There is a number of things that determine energy usage per capita, most notably the climate. Then there is the issue of Canada being so big versus Switzerland being smaller. Its harder to transport goods when a country is larger.
I am not saying that graph may show some countries where they could lessen their energy usage without economic harm, but I don’t think you can make that case with two such vastly different countries.

Willis Eschenbach

Hey, Mosh, good to see you. Thanks as always for your input.
Steven Mosher says:
November 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm (Edit)

Willis,
If you look at the relationship in the SRES between GDP and the warmth of the planet, you will see that the only way we get to a less warm planet is by impoverishing ourselves.

No. What the SRES shows is the only way to get to a less warm virtual planet is by impoverishing its virtual inhabitants.

What the climate models prove is that a richer world is a warmer world. full stop.

I was actually unaware that models could “prove” anything, but if they can, all they prove is a richer virtual world is a warmer virtual world.

Which is why I can very easily accept models and say “the real question is not the science. the real question is the economics”
why fight their science when you can use their science to fight them?

Because unlike far too many AGW supporting scientists, I’m absolutely unwilling to sign on to bad science in order to achieve my desired aims. Of course, YMMV.

Erik Ramberg;
I come to a very different conclusion. The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2 without affecting GDP per capita.>>
I think that is an over simplification. Willis’ observation is in general accurate (just ONCE I’d like to see him get it hopelessly wrong and prove he is a mere mortal like the rest of us). I don’t think you can start drawing any conclusions by drilling into a comparison of two specific countries without also understanding the underlying factors. Switzerland is a banking and financial centre for example, with considerable amounts of the population concentrated in urban centres. Canada has a widely dispersed population and an economy based on dry land farming, mining, lumber and mannufacturing. Cutting Canada’s per capita energy consumption to the same level as Switzerland would be devastating to the economy. You cannot compare the two in that manner and draw any meaningfull conclusion.

Dave F

Boy, can I just say that when I look at the diagram, I am reminded of an automatic transmission? The lost energy is heat. That is strange given the fact that economy is the transmission of society, transforming raw materials into finished goods, with the lost energy being the heat lost to provide hot air to the political system. Change the fluid every 2 years…

Steven Mosher;
why fight their science when you can use their science to fight them?>>
Because winning an argument for the wrong reasons is just as dangerous in the end as losing it for the right ones.

renminbi

Clearly, more carbon will be burned by poorer countries as they develope. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing all of this decarbonisation effort ultimately fail as it must since no one will tolerate impoverishment for nothing.

Keith Battye

Here in Zimbabwe our GDP per head is lower than it was in 1951 and our electrical power usage for the entire country of 12 million people is 1500Mw. Consider also that our liquid fuel consumption is around 1m liters a day and you can see how far we have to go to improve lives.
The disastrous corollary to this is that deforestation is massive and accelerating because wood as a fuel is “free”. In the last 10 years approximately 60% of our forests have been burned to cook food and to provide poor light after dark.
Widespread rural electrification coupled with upgraded power generation ( we have billions of tons of coal and huge natural gas fields that have not been exploited) would improve lives and stop deforestation. Instead my government is disinvesting in power and starting to pass laws to combat global warming with particular reference to CO2.
It seems we have chosen poverty over development.

Sera

@Erik Ramberg says:
November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm
Swiss: Proven oil reserves= 0. Proven gas reserves= 0
Canada: Proven oil reserves= 175.2 billion bbl (#2 in world). Proven gas reserves= 1.754 trillion cu m (#21 in world).
Canada exports energy, while the Swiss are mostly dependent on imports. Energy costs are higher for the Swiss, so that might be the reason why.

Willis Eschenbach;
It puts an absolute ceiling on development.>>
Thank you for saying so Willis. I get into this tussle with promoters of “green jobs” over and over again. They seem to believe that somehow they can raise energy costs to the point that the economy “adapts” and starts recovering by producing “new” jobs that are based on less energy consumption.
Probably true as a technicality, but the number of jobs created can’t even come close to those lost. Further, the absolute cieling can be easily demonstrated by some very simple examples.
Consider a tractor trailer with 100,000 pounds of cargo run by a 500 horsepower diesel engine and run by a single driver. In theory, you could move that 100,000 pounds of cargo with 1,000 labourers each carrying 100 pounds. Oops. Each labourer weighs 200 pounds, and they have to move themselves too. Collectively they weigh more than the truck, and the amount of energy required to move the cargo that way is MORE than what the truck would use.
But it isn’t just about the efficiency that concentrated energy in the form of fuel provides. It is also practicality. If the cargo is bananas, they have a shelf life of perhaps a week if kept at cool temperatures. If already ripe and not kept cool, perhaps a day or two. The truck with a reefer unit can deliver 100,000 pounds of bananas perfectly fresh a thousand miles away. Not only would labourers require more total energy to deliver the load, they have no means to keep the bananas cool, nor can they travel fast enough to deliver them fresh. A million labourers would not make it any better.
The absolute efficiency of concentrated energy in the form of fuel makes possible all sorts of things that would not only be inneficient by others means, but actually impossible.

don penman

This is a simplistic way of looking at the energy flows between life (which includes humanity) and the earth,firstly life needs energy which is a flow from the earth to animals and plants,as life takes more energy from the earth then unless the sun increases its output the energy in the rest of the earth must fall.We also create energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power which does not drain energy from the rest of the earth.It is interesting to note that after the second world war when there was increasing agricultural production and increasing population world temperatures fell.As we approach the next ice age we need to remember that we need to take energy from the earth to live that can’t be provided by burning fossil fuels.

dcardno

The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2
No – it shows the impact of transportation costs (a very large consumer of energy) in a vast and sparsely populated country as compared to a small and densely populated country. Your example also illustrates the problem of trying to argue based on obvious outliers from the population.

Sean

While the rule is about right, is it is approximative. There are local effects – eg regional climate. But also there is energy consumption exportation. The car I drive was made in France. But the steel was imported. So the energy cost of my consumption appears lower as I am counted in France, and not in India – the assumed source of the steel.
You can appear to green the USA by selling Micosoft Windows to buy Japanise cars.
The rule works more or less, but will work less well as industrial production moves away from industrial consumption. Natuarally the Indians and Chinese will increae in comsumption with increased wealth, but the mix of energy hungary and less hungary production may not be the same as in the USA of UK – at least for the next decades.

AleaJactaEst

no wonder China is building clean burning coal fired power stations at the rate of 1 per calendar month. With it’s 1.3 billion population and GDP of $7.62 trillion, plot that on the chart.

Rob R

There seems to be an implication that a country needs to be well endowed with natural energy sources to be successful. But there are exceptions like Singapore, Hong Kong (pre Chinese admin), Japan and Switzerland. What is really needed is access to energy and the right mind-set that enables the energy to be used as efficiently as possible. Success (high GDP) then seems to follow quite naturally

1. Almost none of the power for electrical generation comes from oil. This means that even if the US could generate every Watt of electricity from solar/wind/whatever, it will not directly replace our consumption of oil.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This needs to be repeated because just about every single person pushing wind and solar to those making silly claims about “energy independence” have no remote idea of this simple fact,
Only 1% of the United States electrical generation comes from oil (EIA) (48% Coal, 21% Natural Gas, 20% Nuclear)
Increasing the use of “green energy” (wind, solar) will not reduce our use of oil or make us less dependent on foreign oil – period.

Bulldust

Ellis I shall have to read this later, but I thought you might enjoy the following links. There is a spaghetti diagram of Australian Energy Flows here (not updated for a few years, but I doubt it has changed significantly):
http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/mapping/files/australian_energy_flows_2006-07.pdf
Note the miniscule contribution of renewables, most of which is sugar cane waste (bagasse) burning. ABARE is a good source of energy data because of their annual surveys. This is their energy data area:
http://www.abare-brs.gov.au/publications/2010/energy-update-2010
The thing about Australian energy consumption (which is quite intense on a per capita or per GDP basis) is that much of our energy consumption is destined for export. We are both net exporters of primary energy products and energy embodied in non-energy products. This was the subject of a PhD chapter or two I wrote (although never finished).
In the case of Australia it is very dangerous to look at aggregated data and assume one has a clear picture of our embodied energy trade. We are a net importer of manufactured goods, for example, which might lead one to assume that means a net embodied energy import.
Nothing could be further from the truth, because diosaggregation of the manufacturing data shows that we are net exporters of low end manufactures (like metals and metal products) and net importers of high end manufactures like plant and machinery. The former is very energy intensive (think aluminium, or aluminum if you must, for example) while the latter is not so much on a per dollar basis.
I am happy to provide a basic analysis if there is interest… I imagine that had I completed the thesis some 10+ years ago, it might have been heavily referenced by now 🙂
As for CO2 emissions and GDP growth you may find Gapminder an invaluable resource for graphics and video clips:
http://www.gapminder.org/
Some of Hans Rosling’s videos are absolute gems and show what is possible with the graphing interface:
http://www.gapminder.org/videos/

dcardno

I’m probably going to screw up this URL…

If it doesn’t show up, go to
http://www.gapminder.org and look at per capita gdp v. percapita energy consumption (they have about a 30-year period of record). It shows an incredibly stable and linear relationship. I had always known that energy consumption is a good proxy for standard of living – looking at it as a thermodynamic limit illustrates that it is standard of living!

“Energy use is approximately proportional to GDP.”
Exactly,
The U.S. uses 25% of the world’s oil supply because it produces over 25% of the world’s economy (World Bank)

You get a much better correlation if you graph total world consumption of energy (including estimates for wood burning) with total world GDP.
Enerconics: the use of energy as a proxy for GDP
– useful in two scenarios:
1. In assessing the future viability of high energy capital consumptive energy extraction techniques which are “not currently viable” due to cost.
2. Assessing pre-money economies or “enerconics” in which there is no money in which to value the “economy”.

Sorry – still half asleep! The system of energy flow is an enerconomy!

The connection between development and primary energy consumption is even much stronger. There is a rule that say the world as a whole produces so much GDP how much it consumes primary energy. The coefficient is 9.7 mW x year per US dollar adjusted in prices 1990 on 5% measure of significance. The Garrett’s paper that finds it is here:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/9476j57g1t07vhn2/
There are mistakes in his work as for economics consideration but the statistical measurement of the phenomenon is probably correct. The economic value is actually thermodynamic caloric state value!
When I find some time I want to write down an economic analysis of the phenomenon. Nevertheless there is a strange thing connected with that. All the nasty oppressive feudal systems were based on control of a dominant production factor. Productivity of medieval agrarian societies could be derived from acreage of soil quality weighted arable land. The value of the land meant value of GDP. Inundation civilization had as their feudum inundation water. Amount of the water meant their GDP power. All real despotism was based on the ruling elite control of production factor that represented feudum of their time. There were limits of investments and, thus, limits of competition. The feudum has been given to feoffee by the lords as a tenant.
Carbon is a feudum of our time. The system they want to establish under the pretence of AGW is actually a new type of industrial-feudalism which should replace a liberal capitalism of free investment and competition!

Dave F

It seems we have chosen poverty over development.
Africa deserves more than it has been getting since the ’50s.

Bulldust

Incidently, you may wish to read up on some intensity of use theory (Wilfred Malenbaum was the originator IIRC). There have been a lot of papers post Malenbaum, notably John Tilton (of the Colorado School of Mines) was a big fan as well as Mark C Roberts. There’s been plenty of work done in that space. I wonder how much has been done tying together energy intensity of use and the implications of various climate policy approaches.
I am happy for Anthony to pass on my email address for some references or the old unpublished chapters of my PhD dabblings etc.

crosspatch

Why is the “cost” of CO2 so high in the US, it it is apparently so “cheap” in India, China, and Brazil?
Wouldn’t CO2 be a global cost? Isn’t the CO2 emitted in the US exactly the same relative to Greenland as the CO2 emitted from China?
Why is it ok to build steel mills in Brazil and coal power plants in China yet wrong to build one in the US? And why is it wrong to build a nuclear power plant in the US but not in China? And why is it ok to recycle nuclear fuel in France, Japan, China, Russia, and India but wrong in the US? Any why should we reduce our energy consumption when it is actually very easy to double our energy production without emitting a bit of CO2 using existing technology that requires no subsidy?

martin mason

Mr Mosher
You use words such as “only” and “proof” to apparently give certainty to the fairly weak and uncertain hypothesis that man’s activities will significantly and harmfully increase surface temperatures. Where will I find one piece of evidence to show that current warming, if indeed there has been any, is caused by man and not natural variation.

Nice overview Willis!
What is most interesting is how much energy is wasted before it has done anything useful, especially in electricity generation and transport. Main reason: the efficiency that thermal energy is transformed in electrical or mechanical energy. That wasted energy in general is too low in temperature to generate more power. Exceptions are combined heat-power generation (around 90% overall energy efficiency, compared to the 30% for nuclear plants or up to 45% for modern STEG plants), mainly in industry (but some greenhouse gas owners use it too).
A few years ago, there was some fuss about a multiple thermocouple implementation on chips, which could generate electricity from small temperature differences. Never heard of it again. Think about the watercooler in your car: just replace it by a power generating unit full of chips, aiding your gas motor with an additional electric motor, no or few (just for the first few km) extra batteries needed.
Anyway, anyone who could implement power generation from low temperature differences would get rich and famous, as you see how much energy is wasted as low temperature waste…

Malaga View

So GDP is like a hot air balloon… you have to keep burning fuel to stay aloft.
This is where the Constructal Law becomes interesting because it facilitates change… usually small variations around the optimum as the flow peaks and troughs…. like the bends in the Mississippi river… but sometimes the changes may be more catastrophic – like Hurricane Katrina breeching the levees in New Orleans… so it is important to remember that flow systems are subject to Destructive Events… especially manmade flow systems.
If you take inland transportation, as an example, then the increasing utilisation of fuels has enabled societies to evolve from using horse and carts… first they built canals… then railways… then tarmac roads… and finally airports… this is the evolutionary history of the industrial revolution which has steadily increased the flow of people and goods to every corner of the land.
The point being that it has taken generations for this system to evolve and that, by definition, there is no fallback plan… we drive cars to the supermarkets – not horse & carts… the supermarkets are restocked by road – not railways. The system is only as resilient as its weakest link… this resilience can be counted in days on one hand… so it is always good to remember that our energy dependent society is always only five days away from collapse…. Man Proposes But Nature Disposes.

To Crrospatch:
It is simple, barrier of entry into monopolized sector controlled by a cartel. Roots of all the Green seeking for protection our planet is in seeking monopoly privileges of cartels, which are the right “evironment”, that must be protected from investment waves that could bring about competition and Nash equilibrium.

Christopher Hanley

Re: Erik Ramberg (10:18 pm),
Switzerland is not only a very compact country with, due to its long history of settlement, a highly developed social and material infrastructure, its physical geography makes it ideal for hydro:
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:SjMgxehl5qoJ:www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/CHELEC.pdf+switzerland+electricity+generation&hl=en&gl=au&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgNuVCPU2iucZ_oR9DXd0xdWINDtzCoY7g5ghSyTxf8tK-KDQnb0tMb-IFinW8AK9cRJqShbQbyViUOJxbBk-0wYqk6gjnb20BUMtofFnwl5o8sVeXmRuXJjaCxEhJYJTjjpeQ4&sig=AHIEtbTgXfK5NG771ddNJ31dNF6edOTsaA
So called renewables constitute a tiny fraction of electricity generated.
BTW, Switzerland is second only to US in imported electricity:
http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?t=50&v=83
…..keeps that nice clean and tidy image, don’t you know.

John Marshall

Of course energy is needed for improved development. This is why it is criminal to deprive the third world of cheap energy on grounds of ‘Saving the Planet’ . It will not because the planet does well despite us and whatever we do to ‘Save the Planet’ will not change any natural cycle.

Bernd Felsche

Tell it to these Silly Bankers in Australia:

WESTPAC Banking Corp has become the first major bank to declare it will steer clear of financing emissions-intensive projects as the federal government pushes ahead with plans to introduce a carbon price.
In a sustainability report yesterday, the bank said it had a policy of “avoiding involvement in transactions which support the establishment or long-term continuation of inefficient and high carbon-emitting assets into the future”

There you go…. if you’re actually a nett producer in society, your business isn’t welcome by that bank. No agriculture. No manufacturing. No transport. Perhaps they’re also reticent to loan to people wanting to build a home. That can only lead to massive CO2 emissions; especially as the people may be prone to breed in their nest.
Obviously the bankers have not looked closely in the mirror because the zero actual wealth and tangible goods produced by bankers results in massive emissions of CO2; making them infinitely less efficient than the real producers.

bananabender

Erik Ramberg says:
November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm
“I come to a very different conclusion. The case of Switzerland vs Canada shows that you can reduce energy consumption by more than a factor of 2 without affecting GDP per capita. Putting a cap on energy consumption does not result in a lower standard of living. ”
Until WW2 Switzerland was one of the poorest countries in Europe. They got rich mainly by trading with the Nazis and stealing Jewish assets during WW2. They turned to money laundering later on.
Switzerland doesn’t use much energy because they have no mining industry or any heavy manufacturing. They import virtually everything they need and export expensive niche products.

Dave Springer

@willis
“I hadn’t noticed that if a country wishes to develop, it can only develop to the extent that it has energy, and no further.”
Good. Better late than never.
I’m all for developing alternative energy sources and conservation of energy use but ONLY if those sources and/or conservation measures lower, or at least at least show real promise of lowering, the effective cost of energy. Anything that raises the effective cost of energy can only lower global net production of the goods and services which raise living standards.
The two most promising near-term sources of less costly energy are biomass and photovoltaic IMO. Both are now reduced to engineering problems and both, not surprisingly, draw energy directly from the sun which in the end is the source and reserve of the vast majority of potential energy in the solar system.
Mark my words – biomass for liquid fuel production and photovoltaics w/net metering for electrical energy will emerge as the big winners in just a few decades at most. There is simply too much extant infrastructure in the distribution and consumption of energy for any other solutions to be practical. Transportation needs liquid fuels – the diesel fleet can switch over to biodiesel without modification and the gasoline fleet is well on its way to being ready for E85 (85% alcohol/15 gasoline) fuels. Local (distributed) electrical generation via photovoltaics with net metering is the most practical way of meeting residential electrical needs. Storing electrical power is the major stumbling block for electricity and there’s no breakthrough storage technology on the radar screen thus we’re still going to need centralized electrical power generation (although at a much lower level) to guarantee a reliable supply all day every day. There’s a big problem in centralized generation in that our power grid doesn’t have any excess capacity and it’s a very expensive proposition to upgrade it which makes distributed PV generation such a good solution.

Does anybody know which software can be used to create this kind of flow trend diagram?

Dave Springer

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
November 17, 2010 at 12:59 am

A few years ago, there was some fuss about a multiple thermocouple implementation on chips, which could generate electricity from small temperature differences. Never heard of it again. Think about the watercooler in your car: just replace it by a power generating unit full of chips, aiding your gas motor with an additional electric motor, no or few (just for the first few km) extra batteries needed.

There’s no practical way to “aid” a gas motor with an electric motor at the transmission level and one standard car battery doesn’t hold enough energy to drive around a single city block in any case. Any proposition for using electrical power for vehicular use that involves batteries is doomed to fail or at best doomed to very marginalized use. Batteries (including fuel cells) are expensive, heavy, toxic, and have short service lifetimes. Electrical motors are expensive (check the price of copper over the last decade) and there’s a limited non-renewable supply of rare earth neodymium permanent magnets that efficient electrical motors require.
Believe it not electric vehicles pre-date those powered by internal combustion engines by almost half a century. The latter have advanced greatly while the former have advanced hardly at all and it isn’t for lack of trying. There’s just no good efficient low cost way to generate electricity in as needed in a moving vehicle and get it on the ground and there’s no practical way of generating it elsewhere and storing it in a vehicle. Internal combustion engines and liquid fuels will be with us for a very long time to come.

Frank

I think the energy consumption in figure 2 is electricity only. In Norway with almost 100% electricity generation by hydroelectric installations, electricity has been relatively cheap and used for heating and energy intensive industry. Overall Energy consumption paints a different picture though.