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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146 thoughts on “Constructal GDP

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. “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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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…

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. @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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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/

  31. 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!

  32. 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”.

  33. 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!

  34. It seems we have chosen poverty over development.

    Africa deserves more than it has been getting since the ’50s.

  35. 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.

  36. 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?

  37. 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.

  38. 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…

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. @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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. Actually what the figure 2 shows is that at high GDP per capita (rich countries there is no correlation with energy per capita whatsoever .
    This is well known and there have been hundreds of studies .

    The example Switzerland-Canada that has already been discussed , nicely demonstrates why the ratio energy-GDP becomes very very different when the GDP per capita is high (e.g the country is rich) .
    It is because size matters .
    A rich country has already presumably developped highly its infrastructure – roads , highways , railroads , power distribution net etc.
    Now the energy needed for transport of goods and of persons as well as electrical energy transport losses and the energy needed to maintain the infrastructure is approximately proportional to the size of the country (N.B the number of people is not a factor because we use per capita parameters) .

    Because electrical transport losses and transportation energy are the by far biggest factors of energy consumption of a rich conuntry and both depend on the size of a country this explains why the energy consumption per capita Switzerland is much less than in Canada .
    Switzerland is simply a small country .
    If you take an even smaller very rich country like Luxemburg , it can have a smaller energy consumption per capita than Switzerland if it wants while still staying very rich .

    So a huge caveat before taking very complex parametres like GDP and energy consumption and then simply drawing a straight line through a chaotic cloud of points .
    This is like taking temperatures in climate “science” , drawing straight lines through the points and pretending to explain everything with it .

    Actually a strong correlation between energy and wealth only exists at the low end of GDP per capita (poor countries) .
    Indeed when you are very poor and survive only on burning wood and walking (riding an animal for the richest) , only a brutal increase of energy consumption by constructing power plants , mechanizing agriculture and developping infrastructure can get you out of poverty and simultaneously significantly increase GDP per capita .

    That’s exactly what China is doing right now if you look well .
    The Chinese are moving very fast to the top right corner of Figure 2 because they have understood already in the Deng Xiaoping era in the 80ies that significantly expanding infrastructure and power generation (coal power plants in their case) was the way to go to make out of China a rich and powerful country .

  49. Willis:

    You say:
    “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.”

    But I have repeatedly said that in several placs including WUWT when I used these words:

    “The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture.

    Most of us would not be here if it were not for the use of fossil fuels because all human activity is enabled by energy supply and limited by material science.

    Energy supply enables the growing of crops, the making of tools and their use to mine for minerals, and to build, and to provide goods, and to provide services.

    Material Science limits what can be done with the energy. A steel plough share is better than a wooden one. Ability to etch silica permits the making of acceptably reliable computers. And so on.

    People die without energy and the ability to use it. They die because they lack food, or housing, or clothing to protect from the elements, or heating to survive cold, or cooling to survive heat, or medical provisions, or transport to move goods and services from where they are produced to where they are needed.

    And people who lack energy are poor so they die from pollution, too.

    For example, traffic pollution has been dramatically reduced by adoption of fossil fuels. On average each day in 1855 more than 50 tons of horse excrement was removed from only one street, Oxford Street in London. The mess, smell, insects and disease were awful everywhere. By 1900 every ceiling of every room in Britain had sticky paper hanging from it to catch the flies. Old buildings still have scrapers by their doors to remove some of the pollution from shoes before entering

    Affluence reduces pollution. Rich people can afford sewers, toilets, clean drinking water and clean air. Poor people have more important things they must spend all they have to get. So, people with wealth can afford to reduce pollution but others cannot. Pollution in North America and Europe was greater in 1900 than in 2000 despite much larger populations in 2000. And the pollution now experienced every day by billions who do not have the wealth of Americans and Europeans includes cooking in a mud hut using wood and dung as fuel when they cannot afford a chimney.

    The use of fossil fuels has provided that affluence for the developed world. The developing world needs the affluence provided by the development which is only possible at present by using fossil fuels.

    We gained our wealth and our population by means of that use.

    The energy supply increased immensely when the greater energy intensity in fossil fuels became available by use of the steam engine. Animal power, wind power and solar power were abandoned because the laws of physics do not allow them to provide as much energy as can be easily obtained from using fossil fuels.

    The greater energy supply enabled more people to live and the human population exploded. Our population has now reached about 6.6 billion and it is still rising. All estimates are that the human population will peak at about 9 billion people near the middle of this century.

    That additional more than 2 billion people in the next few decades needs additional energy supply to survive. The only methods to provide that additional energy supply at present are nuclear power and fossil fuels. And the use of nuclear power is limited because some activities are difficult to achieve by getting energy from the end of a wire.

    If anybody here doubts this then I tell them to ask a farmer what his production would be if he had to replace his tractor with a horse or a Sinclair C5.

    So, holding the use of fossil fuels at its present level would kill at least 2 billion people, mostly children. And reducing the use of fossil fuels would kill more millions, possibly billions.

    That is not an opinion. It is not a prediction. It is not a projection. It is a certain and undeniable fact. Holding the use of fossil fuels at their present levels would kill billions of people, mostly children. Reducing the use of fossil fuels would kill more millions or billions.

    Improving energy efficiency will not solve that because it has been known since the nineteenth century that improved energy efficiency increases energy use: as many subsequent studies have confirmed.”

    Richard

  50. Someone should do a PHd thesis on the economic implications of the 50cc Honda step -through motorcycle. With all its derivatives and imitators, sales probably number in the hundreds of million (the 50cc Honda Cub itself passed 40m many years ago). Across Asia it provided a means to get to a job or to take (astonishingly large loads of) produce to market. It was, literally, a vehicle to take them off the bump-stop of substistence. It would be interesting to know, for instance, how many of the peasants who bought the first Cubs have grand-daughters whose parents send them to violin lessons.

    In the discussion about alternatives to burning carbon, it’s often overlooked that no fuel has yet come close to the fungibility of liquid hydrocarbons, and therefore as a fuel for the green shoots of development.

  51. The old saying “Energy is life. Cheap energy is properity” seems to be a provable fact.

    What should strike one about the graph is the huge amount of losses in the system. Billions spent on green stuff would be better spent on improving efficiencies. If electrical generation systems were 10% more efficient, one could manufacture synthetic fuels with the extra “surplus” electricity, eliminating imported oil. Provided that one ignores all that oil shale, etc., laying underfoot.

    The second item is how all this changes when one diverts power generation into electric cars which adds another huge energy loss conversion into the systems.

    But, for sure, America should be exporting everything energy – from resource development through entire generation plants – into the “developing” world. As cheaply as possible. And it should be coercive in that America should require a economic freedoms as pre-requisite. If a nation refuses, don’t even send charity but ramp up propaganda aimed at their populace telling them what they’re missing.

  52. Thanks Willis,

    US EPA air trends:

    The EPA updates this graph regularly, and it shows clearly that in the US we are cleaning our air VERY successfully, and we are increasing efficiencies. It also shows that we are curtailing our miles driven. I find it instructive that in the US since 1970, energy usage (and CO2 generation) has tracked population growth. GDP has outpaced both due to gains in efficiency.

    Anyone care to venture a guess at why the decline in miles driven? I don’t think gasoline prices are sufficient to explain it. The trend used to stay constant while people bought more efficient cars and drove more while keeping their expenditures for gasoline relatively constant.

    As a final note, with our air so clean, the complaints about “dirty” coal ring hollow!

  53. TomVonk says: November 17, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Now the energy needed for transport of goods and of persons as well as electrical energy transport losses and the energy needed to maintain the infrastructure is approximately proportional to the size of the country (N.B the number of people is not a factor because we use per capita parameters) .

    Excellent point, Tom. And frequently ( almost always, actually ) overlooked whenever solar and wind alternative energy sources, and high-speed rail, or even low-speed rail, transport are discussed relative to the USA. Here rail works for freight. It doesn’t work when you’re trying to get a dispersed low population density ( we love our single-family houses out in the boonies ) into a central location to get to work and the office. Another network, btw, that Bejan has investigated in depth. High-speed rail might work center-city to center-city, but even that hasn’t been successful here.

    Here in the USA you can travel several hundreds of kilometers and not pass near any population centers, or any people, even. In Europa, in that distance you pass near a very large fraction of the population.

  54. Energy consumption for oil is logarithmic; US oil consumption per capita is well below the level of 1979. The consumption of electricity is largely linear with GDP, although California has not increased per capita consumption since the 1970’s and enjoys the highest per capita GDP in the US, bar a few states. So, yes, there is a clear connection between energy usage and GDP, but it’s not the same thing.

  55. Just to echo the final point of Richard S Courtney, it has indeed been clearly shown that, in a more or less free market economy, increased energy efficiency, i.e. achieving the same work for less cost, simply frees up more resource for investment in more and more diverse work, the end result being the consumption overall of more not less energy.

    When politicians are asked for solutions to reduce carbon emissions, rather than accept THE only solution i.e. nuclear power (since resurgent medieval superstition about ionising radiation makes it unpolitic to do so) they trot out lame absurdities about insulating lofts, cutting waste and having grassy roofs.

    Its rather like like making the following argument:

    “Technological advances resulting in more efficient manufacturing, transport etc., will cause economic shrinkage and recession. The same goods and services can be delivered at less cost.

    Therefore [here is the key flaw] since all economic and industrial activity basically stays the same, then less money changes hands for the same goods exchanges, less money generally sloshes around in the economy, thus the economy shrinks and everyone gets poorer.”

    Since Willis has pointed out the intimate connection of energy use and economic activity / growth, it is clear that the above agument is just as nonsensical when applied to energy use and fossil fuel consumption as when applied to the economy and money supply.

  56. Carnot was right. Perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible. Shame about that second law of thermodynamics thingy.

  57. Willis says:

    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.

    Not if you consider the ultimate goal of the Fabian socialists backing/promulgating AGW. They can’t come right out and declare food to be illegal–that would be too obvious. However, they CAN declare something integrally combined with food production to be illegal and get the same results–world depopulation.

    Why are they doing this? I get the impression they want to share what they think is the Earth’s finite resources with the fewest number of people possible; being stuck in “single-pie mentality” has serious intended consequences. They’re greedy to the extreme–in terms of both power and possessions.

    They believe the third world has got to go, and much of the developed world, too. The falacy of their thinking lies in the fact that if they want to be king and the rest of the world reduced to nothing, they can be proud of being king of nothing.

  58. Hey Willis, you keep producing this stuff that even unscientific types such as I understand at first read, no headache supplied!
    My dad, who never properly transitioned from the horse age himself, used to tell me back in the fifties that the orginal little grey English TEA Ferguson tractor (copied faithfully and produced in volume by Ford in America) with built-in power take-off and on-board hydraulics for raising and lowering ploughshares, for powering bolt-on front-end loaders and all manner of complex harvesting, sawmilling and industrial equipment etc, not only replaced the horse and spring cart, but allowed individual farmers to do huge amounts of physical work quite easily and eficiently, which then allowed small-acreage post WWII farmers in the Western world who had been one step up from peasants for generations, to prosper. Sadly, our current ecotard Western politicians would not recognise the beautiful simplicity of the Ferguson concept if they were smacked on the head with it, but continue to believe that income arrives by some magic process that involves neither energy (of any kind) or work.

  59. The small slip of mixing GDP and GNP in the article is not terribly relevant to the arguments but there are other errors in intermixing words like GDP, Constructal theory and thermodynamic systems that lead to more extrapolations and errors.

    First GDP as it is currently measured is a measure of human interaction. The laws of thermodynamics come first because without movement of energy there would not be cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is not measured in GDP. Similarly GDP measures non physical things, like the sale of intellectual property rights that incorporate no physical energy. If you can understand the differences in what the two measure you can begin to understand where the links are and where they are not. Energy is fundamentally linked to economics but relationships are non-linear and sometimes are not there at all. For example, an economy can still grow without using more energy, and I’m not talking about efficiency or green jobs or anything physical at all.

    If not already said, the areas on the graph like Canada is a large country with a dispersed population, that is colder than much of the world. However, a major key is that it is an energy exporter. Note energy exporters and oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Canada are above the line. Switzerland has a very small heavy industrial base along with a disproportionately high financial sector so it substitutes high energy using industries for low ones. This can be misleading of course because it still benefits from the imports of heavy industrial countries and cheap energy suppliers.

  60. Good figure, good conclusions, but two caveats:

    1. It isn’t discouraging that energy IS development, if energy includes more than fossil energy. Oil will get more and more expensive, in all likelihood, as cheap resources are depleted and costly ones become the norm. Natural gas will have a longer run as a relatively inexpensive fuel. But electricity can be made by nuclear and solar. Solar will be a lot cheaper in 20 years, and small modular reactors, assembled in factories and fail safe, may become a norm for electricity in many places. Countries that can’t stand the crippling cost of importing oil in the future, or importing costly liquified natural gas, CAN still have electricity. Lights enables students to study at night, electricity powers the internet and cell phones and the most modern technologies. Solar, when it becomes cheaper (as it is, now that it is made in China), is especially good in countries that don’t have a large transmission grid, which are the poorest countries.

    2. You are so right, and it is well past time that people recognized this, that solar and wind won’t make us “energy independent,” because they won’t substitute for oil in transportation.

    However, in the longer run, as oil becomes more costly, plug in hybrids and perhaps, eventually, electric cars with cheaper batteries will in fact displace foreign oil. This is something we can hope and plan for. Everyone says we should think about the long run, but in practice people seem to only care about the short run. But in the long run, when oil is $150 and $200 per barrel, wouldn’t it be good for our balance of payments to use domestic electricity from nuclear and (eventually) cheaper solar, as well as from existing coal and natural gas plants, to substitute for oil at this price?

  61. Perhaps most understand this, but of the 26.3 Quads “electrical system energy losses” only 1-2 Quads is likely due to transmission and distribution losses. The remainder, 24-25 Quads is likely the result of heat rejected from heat engines (at low temperatures and pressures) — a necessary requirement dictated by thermodynamics. Sure there can be some improvement in the efficiency of heat engines, but large expenditures would be required for only small gains in efficiency.
    Just wanted to expand on this one item since sometimes these energy losses are portrayed as carelessness rather than trade-offs between economics and thermodynamics.

  62. What a great graphic. Edward Tufte would approve.

    So, we’re in the heating season. In areas that heat with oil, the forced conversion from classic lightbulbs to CFLs means that home owners will reduce electricity consumption (often created from burning coal) and increase oil consumption (by burning more heating oil). Way to go Congress, I wouldn’t expect better from you!

  63. martin mason says:
    November 17, 2010 at 12:59 am (Edit)

    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.

    #######

    Dont be silly. I am pointing out what IPCC science says. Then I am saying, their science says this. Then I am showing how you can use their science against them, WITHOUT questioning it.

    Ah, also. natural variation is the cause of nothing. Drop that argument.

  64. One thing missing from this discussion which may help clarify how current world-wide government policies divert critical resources, is the understanding of money as a time-store of value.

    What does that have to do with energy? It’s the release mechanism. Without money, energy sources remain potential not kinetic. With a release mechanism the whole flow starts. It also shows why a stable release mechanism is necessary, and how energy flows can be diverted when the time store of value is no longer stable.

    I’ll leave further discussion to the members of this forum, perhaps in another thread.

  65. Such a great graphic.

    Only thing I add is it really doesn’t account for energy loss of charging and discharging batteries. When electric is stored with any means there will always be resistance and great power loss.

    I have first tracked use of natural gas for cars over 25 years ago. It would be more energy efficient to power cars from gas than to ship gas to pipelines, generation of electric, batteries and electric motors at the wheels.

    [Most of the loss – almost all of it compared to the resistance in the wires and transformers – is in the chemical change of AC power (from the lines) into DC electricity “into” the battery, then from DC electricity “from” the battery back to AC energy back “up” into the lines or household Storage itself in the battery over time loses some, but not much. But each loss adds up. Robt]

  66. Someone else made the comment earlier that people in big cities do not know where their energy comes from, and they are so right. I would like to add that the same is true for knowing where your food supply comes from. If you don’t know where it comes from, you have no idea how hard it is to grow, process and ship your food to you–all energy consuming processes.

    This is a great article, and the comments are equally great. This isn’t my favorite website for nothing.

  67. 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.”

    It’s quite easy to get a ‘false’ energy consumption figure, offshore your metals and cement industries.

    You might want to ask BMW why they are spending $100 million on a carbon fiber spinning plant in Washington State, USA when 100% of the output of the plant will go into an ‘eco car’ being manufactured in Germany.

    Not that I’m complaining, I’d like to personally thank the German environmentalists and German anti-nuclear power movement for the jobs.

  68. I like your point. It seems that some of the other objections are demanding a coefficient of correlation of 1 in order to prove a trend. It also seems that they are demanding the absence of any other variables in order for you to argue your point.

  69. Obviously, when one is wealthy, one naturally chooses to increase one’s consumption. Some of that consumption will be in the form of energy, or in ways that happen to consume energy. So it is not remotely surprising that there is a broad correlation between GDP and energy consumption. That is worlds away from the claim that there is a necessary connection between them. Furthermore, the wealthier one happens to be, the more energy one can produce; moreover, when there is lots of energy available, some of it will naturally be used in the production of economic goods to make us wealthier. So again, a broad correlation between GDP and energy is entirely unsurprising. But this does not in any way prove (or even tend to suggest) that one cannot become wealthier without more energy. The graph actually suggests the opposite, since there is almost an order of magnitude range in the GDP to energy consumption ratio, even on a single planet at a single moment in time.

    Energy is one of many factors of production (to be pedantic, different kinds of energy are different factors). One naturally produces at or around the level of energy consumption that, for one’s particular circumstances, gives the lowest overall cost. If the energy cost only half as much, one would naturally use more of it, displacing other more expensive factors; and vice versa. There is no fixed relation between the use of any given factor of production (including energy) and the value of the output. Even if energy were orders of magnitude more expensive – so that far less of it were used – this would not prevent the production of economic value, or economic growth, or place any absolute upper limit on GDP.

    Physically, there is a requirement to use some energy, as well as some land and other resources, in the creation of economic value. But there is no law that says how much, or places a minimum on the amount needed to sustain a given standard of living. There is even a physical “law” (the Biological Scaling Hypothesis) which has the corollory that there is no minimum, however small, not even the ~100W humans need to survive, because in physical terms intelligences and information processing can be embodied with arbitrarily low mass and entropy flows.

    The idea that energy production and economic welfare are one and the same is a perennial fallacy, a “crackpot theory” (or ill-defined compendium of theories) that is a modern version of the Procrusteanism of Malthus or the agriculture worship of the Physiocrats. No industry or factor of production is that important; market economies are almost infinitely Protean.

  70. I am considerably puzzled by the number of posters who repeat the mantra ‘when better/more effective/more eficient/lighter batteries are available’. As I understand the history, scientists and inventors have been working at achieving the wished-for battery for well over a century without getting much nearer their goal, but so far, this has been a dead end when cost is factored in. Putting gasoline or deisel in a can stills seems the most eficient and cheapest method of storing energy by a considerable way.
    Electricity is a great motive power when large generating systems can be accessed via copper wires, such as in the case of electric trains or trolleybuses or trams. For affordable automobiles, it seems that will remain a dream until as yet undiscovered methods of storing electricity arrive.

  71. Willis – Well put.
    You cite: “This is why the GNP of a country should be roughly proportional to the amount of fuel burned in that country.” (Bejan 2009).
    Focusing on transport, commerce requires movement of goods.
    Conversely: Biologically, starvation reduces energy until death. Consequently:

    The GNP of a country is limited by the transport energy required to move goods.

    Transport fuel constrains GNP: The energy use graph shows 96.6% of US transport (25.6 out of 26.5) depends on liquid fuel (petroleum or “oil”). Robert L. Hirsch warns that in the short term GDP varies directly with availability of liquid fuel. Consequently:

    The GNP of a country is currently constrained by the liquid fuels it uses to move goods.

    World Oil Exports Will Soon Decline: US used to be the world’s largest oil exporter. Then US oil production peaked in 1970. Oil wells deplete. Country oil production eventually declines. Global light crude oil eventually peaks and declines, necessitating production of alternative liquid fuels. In its World Energy Outlook 2010, the International Energy Agency’s graphs (slide 7) now show that global crude (light) oil production HAS ALREADY PEAKED in 2006. (IEA now shows it will “plateau”, down from growing in previous projections.)

    (Nominally global light oil production has peaked with ~ 1 trillion bbl left, while 5 trillion bbl of bitumen/heavy oil (aka “tar”) exists but is much harder to recover.)

    Export Land Model:
    Domestic consumption reduces oil exports faster than oil depletion rates. The “Export Land Model” projects rapid declines in country and global exports. Peak Oil Versus Peak Net Exports–Which Should We Be More Concerned About? Jeffrey J. Brown, Samuel Foucher, PhD, Jorge Silveus, ASPO-USA Peak Oil Conference, 2010

    OPEC Indonesia’s exports dropped at a rate from peak production to zero exports in 9 years. The UK’s exports dropped at a rate from peak to zero in 6 years. Brown et al. (2010) project that the net exports from the five largest oil exporters is likely to decline to zero exports within 20 years – by 2030. See Slide 22.

    Rising oil imports: The USA now imports 65% of its oil growing at 5%/year. However, developing countries’ oil use is increasing. China’s oil use doubled in 10 years (1998 to 2008), while India’s increased 60%. Consequently competition for oil imports will rapidly increase, driving up prices, which reduces GDP, increasing unemployment.

    Consequently: The GNP of oil importing countries will soon decline faster than globally declining available exports until alternative fuels are developed!

    Extrapolating recent trends Brown et al:

    “for every three barrels of oil that non-Chindia countries (net) imported in 2005, they would have to make do with two barrels in 2015.”

    Lloyds of London warns that this global “energy” (liquid fuel) crunch is likely to hit between 2012 and 2015! The biggest oil importers that will be most impacted: *United States, •Japan, •China, •South Korea, •Germany, •France, •Italy, •U.K. e.g., the USA will be forced to reduce total transport fuel use very soon e.g., by 22% by 2015.

    Summary: Thermodynamics and geology will constrain then reduce liquid transport fuels (“light oil” / petroleum) and consequently GDP until alternative fuels are developed in sufficient volume to replace depletion and make up for desired growth.
    This decline in global crude oil exports has begun and will likely cause very strong reductions in GDP of oil importing countries very soon – 2012 to 2015 time frame – until alternative transport fuels are developed.
    Prepare ASAP!

  72. Sorry, late to the party………”But I had never realized that energy use is development, that there is a thermodynamic relationship between the two.”

    Thanks for catching up! Perhaps you may be able to articulate this knowledge better than myself. Energy use and economic activity are in a direct relationship. Money may be used as a proxy for available energy, be it food, oil, gas, etc. or an expression of energy used, be it clothes, cars, houses etc. In other words, what has been done or what may be done.

  73. It puts an absolute ceiling on development.

    Yes! I believe this is the crux of AGW based on what I’ve been researching. It’s not to save us from global warming, it’s to ration our energy use so that there’s more for the rest of the developing world to use. Imagine if we don’t reduce our use, as the developing countries use more, the higher demand is going to result in higher prices thereby slowing down the growth of developing nations. And I’ve already read that the view of the World Bank (an organization created by FDR’s communist infested administration) is that developing nations are going to be using more and more fossil fuel for the next 4 or so decades to help them grow and catch up to us.

    I believe the scary scenarios of AGW are way over-exaggerated and thrown at us in order to scare us into accepting massive cuts of energy.

    What they don’t tell us is, our standard of living is going to have to significantly drop in order for those cuts in energy to be realized. There are over 400 mostly everyday items made from oil, all of these items are going to cost more, stop being made, or be made in other countries. Since 70% of our economy is consumption, we are going to be in a world of hurt.

    I also find it oddly coincidental that an organization (the World Bank) created by an administration (FDR’s) that had communists in it (Harry Dexter White was the key man in the creation of the World Bank) is now resulting in the demise of America, both by the offshoring of jobs (i.e. redistribution of jobs, we’ve shipped almost 6 million jobs overseas in the last 10 years) and now by the pressure for us to reduce our use of oil and other natural resources.

    As Maurice Strong was quoted saying (I’m paraphrasing so the copyright people are happy) in a Nov 22, 1973 NYTimes article, large energy consumers (such as the US) might have to racially change their consumption patterns, our 200 million people in the US when using air conditioners use more energy than the entire population of all of China for all of its purposes, and he questioned whether a country has a right to a disproportionate use of the world’s resources. Interesting that Strong now resides in China, which is a communist country benefitting from the 30 years of development assistance from the World Bank.

  74. Or, in terms of tangible objects, what is, or what may be.

    Willis, be careful though, you may be wandering into a study that may be a (gasp) soft science!(economics)

  75. There is a fundamental disconnect between people advocating “green” jobs. It takes energy to manufacture something. Without that energy, no job. Why did your job go to China or India? Because the greens sent it there!

    Somebody explain the economic benefits of paying more for energy? How can we make energy more expensive and improve our economy? Really explain it, and give examples of how it created jobs in other countries.

    BTW: Anybody see the ABC News segment last night titled “Green China?” “Green China?” Really? Did China decommission all those coals plants? Did China put catalytic converters on all those automobiles? Did they put scrubbers on all their smokestacks? Did they stop their plans to build all those new coal plants?

    I’ll tell you how China is going green — they’re getting our money for building things we can’t build in our country. Want a wind turbine? China will design and build it for you. We get an unreliable power source and they get our green(backs).

  76. Great diagrams, Willis! It’s interesting that nukes are still over 20% of electricity even though (if I recall correctly) none have been built since the 70’s!

    However, —

    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.

    — you were right the first time. Although energy may be an essential ingredient for development (elasticity of substitution less than 1 in a CES production function), proportions are not fixed unless the elasticity of substitution is 0, which it rarely is.

    Kyoto-like curbs on fossil fuels will surely be catastrophic for world GDP, sort of like the 1973 Arab oil embargo and ensuing OPEC output restrictions on steriods, but the decline will be less than proportionate.

  77. In economics, the Jevons paradox, sometimes called the Jevons effect, is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.[1] In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.[2]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

  78. I figured this out over a decade ago while studying information theory. It should be fairly obvious that the greenies do intend to destroy civilization. All of the talk of “Green Economy” is just smoke. Notice how the promoted “Green Tech” is always unworkable, but any workable solution to the propagandized “problems” is aggressively resisted?

    Greenies are not just wrong, they are evil.

  79. “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.”

    Crosspatch already (mostly) answered this, but I will put it bluntly: CO2 is not bad. CO2 emissions cost nothing. CO2 has been much higher on Earth than at the present day (long before humans evolved), and Earth did not positive-feedback itself into Venuslike hell. CO2 is plant food, and higher CO2 means plants grow better and make more food and oxygen for animals, including cute baby seals and Siberian tigers.

    If you are concerned about changing climates and species going extinct, may I suggest a general survey course in geology? While you’re there, look into the Carboniferous era, and the Permian die-off. Spoiler alert: Humans weren’t around for either of these events.

  80. In other words, the way to reduce fuel consumption is to make it less efficient through the addition of artificial costs (taxes), or reduced demand (recession).

  81. Yes! I believe this is the crux of AGW based on what I’ve been researching. It’s not to save us from global warming, it’s to ration our energy use so that there’s more for the rest of the developing world to use.

    No , it’s more about demonising coal. When the oil crisis hits there are two main contenders : coal and nukes.

    Creating carbon markets, and in europe there’s a lot of talk about artificially enforcing a “floor” of 30 euros a tonne for carbon, is all a back-door way to subsidise nuclear power. An energy that has never been able to stand on it’s own feet. It was only ever viable as a spin-off of a military program.

    UK governments have never been able to sell of nuclear power because the markets won’t touch it. They don’t want to undertake the cost of dismantling and insuring the risks and the eternal storage of ever increasing volumes of waste.

    The government is now saying the tax payer will cover the eventual cost any nuclear accident , again a back door way of the taxpayer taking the risks so the energy companies can take all the profit.

    The whole AGW spin is to con the green movement that a vital , non toxic trace gas is more dangerous than radioactive waste.

    So far they seem to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

  82. This is why I argue the rule of thumb for judging environmentally “good” is “If it’s [amortized] price is less, it is more environmentally ‘friendly'”.

    When people start adding “Environmetal benefit” to the equation, they are missing the point. The environmental benefit is contained in the cost.

  83. PS, but otherwise I agree with your point . They don’t want to panic the world with the reality of oil supplies and are trying to use climate as the reason we need to change to other energy sources.

  84. Willis

    I very much appreciate the work you have done.

    When my own work comes out, you should be able to understand it (and its implications, and the implications implications) pretty quickly.

  85. Roger Pielke Jr’s book, the Climate Fix has more discussion on this issue.

    He nicely breaks down the decarbonization issue into segments such as

    1) energy use per $1000 of GDP and
    2) carbon emissions per units of energy.

    He then goes on to look at possible ways to reduce carbon emissions to the levels needed to stabilize CO2 at various levels. It is very evident that we aren’t going to get there by the means commonly proposed. This is even more obvious when one looks at the effect of low GDP countries improving their economic situation, and thereby increasing their energy use.

  86. Erik Ramberg says: November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm
    I come to a very different conclusion. …..
    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.
    ——————————————————————————-

    Erik Ramberg. What precisely are you implying by saying this? I would be grateful for a clarification from you.

    Douglas

  87. Mosher (natural variation causes nothing; I hope you are playing with sematics here; natural variation can explain things, not cause them)- go to Bob Tisdale’s site and demolish his latest dissertation for me.

  88. GNP of a country should be roughly proportional to the amount of fuel burned

    An obvious corollary is: the price of a product is roughly proportional to the energy consumed in its production.

  89. “It’s not to save us from global warming, it’s to ration our energy use so that there’s more for the rest of the developing world to use.”

    We could double our electricity production without reducing in any way the amount available for developing areas. A fast breeder can convert natural uranium into fuel (converts U-238 to P-239). If the processing plant is ON SITE with the conventional reactors, there is no need to transport radioactive enriched U-235 around. The P-239 never leaves the site, it is “burned” in the local conventional reactors. No need for expensive enrichment once the fast breeder is started and depleted fuel can be recycled on-site.

    This article should be REQUIRED reading for everyone in Congress:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=smarter-use-of-nuclear-waste

  90. The author’s first point is a bit misleading. True, increasing green energy sources (or nuclear) will have essentially no impact on oil imports. However, if successfully implemented, they could significantly affect the amount of other fossil fuels consumed, i.e. coal and natural gas.

    My suggestion is to subsidize balloons for livestock farmers. Have them attach the balloons to the nether end of their animals. When their hind legs float off the ground, they’re ready for harvesting. Failure to implement such a plan is tantamount to connecting an electrical substation directly to ground.

  91. Gene Zeien says:
    November 17, 2010 at 10:21 am
    GNP of a country should be roughly proportional to the amount of fuel burned

    “An obvious corollary is: the price of a product is roughly proportional to the energy consumed in its production.”

    GNP is an aggregate over all economic activities, so a rough correlation is to be expected. For a single product the enormous diversity of production techniques for economic goods will overwhelmingly dominate the very limited effect of energy cost; in any economy, the ratio of value to energy will range through many orders of magnitude (eg., from a found diamond valued at £100/J to horse manure at anything from £10^-8/J down to nothing).

  92. Alexander K says:
    November 17, 2010 at 7:16 am
    “I am considerably puzzled by the number of posters who repeat the mantra ‘when better/more effective/more eficient/lighter batteries are available’. As I understand the history, scientists and inventors have been working at achieving the wished-for battery for well over a century without getting much nearer their goal, but so far, this has been a dead end when cost is factored in.”

    Yes, battery technology has been under development and continual improvement for over a century. We have much better betteries now (higher energy densities, and lower costs per unit energy stored) than we had even five years ago. Battery powered vehicles have been utilised for special purposes for a considerable time, but the technology is now at last reaching the point at which general purpose vehicles will become viable. We will probably get there in another ten years, or thereabouts. Mind you, hydrocarbon fuelled vehicles may still have the edge; even if we were to run out of fossil fuels (unlikely), it would still make sense to manufacture petrol or diesel for automotive use, because it has the big advantage over batteries of instant refuelling.

  93. Re: Erik Ramberg (10:18 pm)

    How much manufacturing is there in Switzerland? How about agriculture? Do they export many products? How about oil refineries, iron works, smelting plants, etc.? All those things add to the energy consumption of a country. If you include the things consumed by the Swiss but grown or produced elsewhere, how does the calculation change?

  94. Excellent article. Warmists, and their blind followers, claim that reducing CO2 is a no cost strategy and therefore, even if the benefits are not proven, it’s good insurance.

    The truth is that the real cost is to be paid by developing countries, as they are deprived of the plentiful energy that the developed countries have enjoyed to become developed.

    Insurance is not a good strategy if the premium is that much greater than the potential benefits.

  95. Tepid this is not. The fascinating graphic really grabbed my attention, and I’m thinking this has to be integrated into a course I teach – if only I had more time…. The engineering students would love this. Thanks, Willis, for another excellent post.

    Desert Yote: I tend to agree re greenies being ‘evil’ in preaching hopelessness and fighting against a system that has produced peace and prosperity. One wonders how we end up in a world where people can hold such diametrically opposing views of reality.

  96. To reiterate Nuke’s point:

    The comparison of Switzerland, Canada, and Australia is indeed instructive. When you consider that the Swiss rely on the rest of the world to export them their energy and heavy industrial products it becomes obvious that their GDP can only exist because of the energy use of other countries. I suspect that per-capita GDP v. energy use really is a linear trend line. You may be able to move that line up and down but you will not change its shape. Lesson to be learned – a higher standard of living requires a higher level of energy use per-capita. Something I think most already know intuitively.

  97. Doug Badgero says: Lesson to be learned – a higher standard of living requires a higher level of energy use per-capita. Something I think most already know intuitively.

    Yes. Now consider this. If you increase your energy use (with the same % waste) then your standard of living will increase. For example. replacing your push mower with a riding type will increase your energy use, but give you more time to do something else, like play with the wife.

  98. Dave Springer says: November 17, 2010 at 2:32 am

    “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. ”
    ————————————————————–

    The electric motor “aided” gasoline engine is a description of the Chevy Volt, now in production and at dealerships next month. Toyota is starting to offer extended range Prius cars that go 30miles on battery only.

    As for all-electric cars, the Nissan Leaf will be on sale next year. Then there are the Th!nk City and the Mitsubishi MiEV, both selling now (not in the US). Yes, the Tesla (you can buy one now) is expensive, but it’s a “first adopter” toy. The Fisker Kharma promises to be better/cheaper than the Tesla roadster. Aptera is undercapitalized, but probably on sale in a year.

    What happened compared to a decade ago (The GM EV-1 was a low capability money loser) is that Lithium batteries have matured enough to be used in automotive applications.

    My favorite electric vehicle is the Zero-S. http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/

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

    So, of 1,000 MW generated, approximately 700 MW are lost in Generation, transformation, and transmission …

    Care to break that down to each individual part? (i.e., Generation, transformation, and transmission)

    Generation may be your biggest of the three ‘parts’, and I think it a little disingenuous to lump all three together insofar as it leads others to make incorrect assumptions as to the efficiencies of ‘the grid’ since most ppl overlook the generation part …

    .

  100. A fine post at the Air Vent, a jones. Highly recommended. It’s clear that you have put much thought into the question of electric cars, which are no panacea.

  101. I was thinking of the connections between energy use and economic value during a side discussion about ethanol in a recent thread. Ethanol enthusiasts insist that the production of ethanol results in a large EROI, or Energy Rate of Return.

    Yet the only way ethanol competes on the market with ordinary gasoline is through large subsidies and mandates. It is obvious that since ethanol can only be produced with subsidies that it uses more of society’s scarce economic resources than its value. Since a basic input into industrial production is energy, it would seem unlikely that ethanol production creates significantly more energy than its energy value.

    It turns out that David Pimentel of Cornell has done a careful analysis of both the energy and economic inputs to produce ethanol and other bio-fuels, and determined that more energy is used to produce ethanol than is in the product, he estimates 72%.
    Ethanol fuels: Energy security, economics, and the environment
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/f23j03184744317x/

    Ethanol industry promoters and many “greens” promote studies that do not include all the inputs, and then don’t attempt the reconciliation of the putative high EROI of their calculations, and the negative economic ROI of unsubsidized ethanol and other bio-fuels.

    What the “green” analysts are doing is reminiscent of the planners of the Soviet Union who attempted to direct economic resources based on necessarily imperfect physical calculations and assumptions without benefit of the market’s “invisible hand.”

  102. _Jim says:
    November 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm (Edit)

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

    So, of 1,000 MW generated, approximately 700 MW are lost in Generation, transformation, and transmission …

    Care to break that down to each individual part? (i.e., Generation, transformation, and transmission)

    Generation may be your biggest of the three ‘parts’, and I think it a little disingenuous to lump all three together insofar as it leads others to make incorrect assumptions as to the efficiencies of ‘the grid’ since most ppl overlook the generation part …

    Disingenuous: lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; slyly deceptive or misleading;

    Why can’t you simply point out that neither Figure 1 nor I detailed the split between the electrical losses, without editorial comment? I never even thought of splitting them, it wasn’t relevant for what I was trying to say. Why do your ugly fantasies about my motives have to be a part of it?

    _Jim, I invite you to take your nasty allegations of “disengenuous” behaviour and go away. You want the answer about the split between the losses? Go google it for yourself, there’s a good fellow. Come back when you have learned the rudiments of polite discussion. I haven’t attempted to guess at, and then attacked, your motives.

    Please return the favour.

  103. No Smokey you are wrong, I was merely a part of a team put together in a hurry to try to solve energy supply problems post the 1974 oil crisis. Which we did inasmuch as it could be done.

    The basic physics and engineering have not changed much today. There have been incremental improvements as you would expect but that is all.

    There is a new fantasy amongst politicians and indeed the press and so forth that somehow some revolution in energy supply and usage can happen overnight. It cannot of course.

    I suppose this new idealism comes from the idea that the WWW and the internet and its rapid progress can be applied to the most basic energy industry. It cannot.

    You have seen it on here that Mr. Fuller somehow believes that CHP is the solution to everything: along with improvements in hydroelectric turbines and I do not know what else.

    NO. There is no panacea. No worldwide solution except in the imaginations of these persons political or otherwise.

    It is the job of the engineer to devise the least worst solution at the best price to meet the local requirement, whether that is in Siberia or the Tropics.

    It is just like climate really, just as there is no such thing as worldwide climate, just regional ones, there is no such thing as a universal engineering answer to the need for heat, power and cooling. Except in Startrek or the like I suppose.

    But there is always fantasy particularly amongst politicians which mulcts the poor taxpayer.

    Kindest Regards

  104. Your intermediate step for automobile transportation will be ethanol (it’s already cheaper than gasoline, and powering almost 10% of the fleet.)

    Now that we have engines hitting the market that get essentially the same mileage on ethanol as on gasoline, and enzymes that are reducing the cost of producing ethanol from cellulose to the $2.00/gal range, and since the cellulosic ethanol will be produced locally, from local feedstocks, and since the byproduct of said production is a boatload of lignin for use in electrical generation, part of this problem is on its way to being solved.

    We still have a problem with finding a replacement for diesel, but maybe a significant amount of truck transport can be transferred to rail. I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

    The thought crosses my mind: Is it “Energy,” or is it “Technology.” Those people in the Solomons are surrounded with Enormous amounts of Energy. Wave/Wind/Solar/Biomass/Ocean Current/Ocean Gradient to name a few. They might even have some fossil fuel, or Uranium deposits underfoot. But, they don’t have the “knowledge,” or “Technology” to put their energy to work.

    Or, Maybe they just like their low-energy lifestyle.

  105. _Jim says:
    November 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm

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

    So, of 1,000 MW generated, approximately 700 MW are lost in Generation, transformation, and transmission …

    Care to break that down to each individual part? (i.e., Generation, transformation, and transmission)

    Sounds about right to me – Before I posted my praise for the graphic I looked at the lost energy output and concluded it included the waste heat of the Carnot cycle and other thermodynamic processes.

    While it would be nice to see that split further (e.g. lost energy from hydroelectric generation is very low, transmission my be high since large hydro isn’t built near cities), the graphic was pushing “too complex” already.

    Generation may be your biggest of the three ‘parts’, and I think it a little disingenuous to lump all three together insofar as it leads others to make incorrect assumptions as to the efficiencies of ‘the grid’ since most ppl overlook the generation part …

    I agree with with Willis’s assessment of your use of “disingenuous.” It was a little disingenuous on his part to suggest you answer it yourself, I doubt he expects you to do anything constructive.

    So I’ll pop off with comments based mainly on vague memories, perhaps they’ll encourage you to do the search so you can criticize me too.

    Generation – I hate when I see some thermodynamic process rated as a percentage of theoretical efficiency. The world needs a good < 50 kelvin heat dump. In the meantime, I'll settle for keeping manatees warm during cold weather in Florida. A good use for waste heat.

    Transformation – AC conversion is quite efficient. A step-down transformer that supples power to a town may need a cooling fan, but not much more. I don't know how Hydro-Quebec does their DC-AC transform, though I did get forced off the road going into work one Sunday morning by people delivering the unit to the Westford Massachusetts terminal. Big black (okay, dark gray) box, not much support for cooling, must be pretty efficient.

    Transmission – I hear 50% bandied about. That's what convinced me the graphic included absolute thermodynamic losses. The graphic says "Distributed electricity 11.9." Assuming the 50% transmission loss is right, then that's 23.8 quads leaving the power plants, and 24.4 quads of waste heat at the plants. I think that's about right. (Please accept my apologies for the three place math given my one place guesstimates about the proper ratios.)

  106. From Kum Dollison on November 18, 2010 at 12:22 am:

    Your intermediate step for automobile transportation will be ethanol (it’s already cheaper than gasoline, and powering almost 10% of the fleet.)

    From Kum Dollison on November 18, 2010 at 12:28 am:

    I should have said, “it’s already cheaper than gasoline, even w/o subsidies.”

    Reality Check from Bloomberg:

    Ethanol Falls to Five-Week Low on Fuel Production Record
    By Samantha Zee and Mario Parker – Nov 17, 2010 4:43 PM ET
    (…)
    U.S. ethanol output rose 2.1 percent to 895,000 barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Stockpiles of the gasoline additive climbed 4.1 percent to 16.7 million barrels, the most since Oct. 1, the department said today in Washington.

    Production of conventional gasoline blended with ethanol dropped 2.2 percent to 4.84 million barrels a day, according to the report. Refiners receive a 45-cent tax credit for every gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline.

    Denatured ethanol for December delivery fell 0.7 cent, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $2.117 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest price since Oct. 7. Futures have gained 8.6 percent this year.

    In cash market trading ethanol in the U.S. Gulf climbed 5 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $2.425 a gallon and in Chicago the additive gained 1 cent to $2.26, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Ethanol in New York rose 1.5 cents to $2.355 a gallon and on the West Coast the fuel advanced 4.5 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $2.445.

    Gasoline for December delivery rose 0.22 cent, or 0.1 percent, to settle at $2.1579 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract covers reformulated gasoline, which is made to be blended with ethanol before delivery to filling stations.
    (…)

    For December delivery, that’s only a 4 cent difference making the mentioned reformulated gasoline more expensive than ethanol. Are the current subsidies so little that the price of ethanol without them would rise less than four cents? What additional cost is there to make the reformulated gasoline versus standard gasoline?

    Also notice the current cash market trading prices. From here, unleaded gasoline spot price (New York Harbor) on Nov 16 was $2.2832/gal. Above, ethanol in New York was $2.355/gallon. To me, it sure doesn’t look like ethanol is currently cheaper than gasoline.

    And for making blended gasoline, the ethanol will “cost” another 45 cents a gallon?

    This is without figuring out “cost per amount of stored energy” to allow for ethanol’s lower energy content, as well.

    By the way, perhaps you should correct your wording. In the US, ethanol is certainly not powering almost 10% of the automobile fleet. I would have noticed such a massive infrastructure and ethanol-only pumps at the filling stations if that were the case, and noticed it mentioned in the news. What we do have, is most automobiles powered by gasoline which could be blended with ethanol, some powered by diesel, and a few by “alternate fuels” which includes electricity. Here in central Pennsylvania, the gasoline pumps have a “warning” sticker, ‘may contain up to 10% ethanol.’ Ethanol-blended gasoline may account for “almost 10%” of the gasoline use, but we do not have “almost 10%” ethanol-powered automobiles.

  107. Ric Werme says: November 18, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Sounds about right to me – Before I posted my praise for the graphic I looked at the lost energy output and concluded it included the waste heat of the Carnot cycle and other thermodynamic processes.

    Generation – I hate when I see some thermodynamic process rated as a percentage of theoretical efficiency. The world needs a good < 50 kelvin heat dump. In the meantime, I'll settle for keeping manatees warm during cold weather in Florida. A good use for waste heat.

    Transmission – I hear 50% bandied about. That's what convinced me the graphic included absolute thermodynamic losses.
    ———————————————————-
    I agree with your assessment of generation losses, but you have to keep track somehow, and there are processes that are not Carnot limited, such as PV and fuel cells. As for transmission losses, I have also heard the 50% number bandied about. I spent hours searching online trying to get quantitative information on that and failed. So I calculated line losses assuming a 1000 MWe plant shipping power 1000 km (500 KV and 2000 A) with an assumed 6 cm wire diameter and the resistivity of 1100 alloy aluminum (9.89E-8 ohm-cm). I got less than 2% transmission loss, ignoring the 3-phase complication, and line heating lowering the conductivity. So I am forced to conclude the 50% transmission loss is not a real number.

    I also agree that electric cars are not a panacea, but they probably will phase in gradually to gradually lower petroleum consumption. I own three cars, and if other factors are comparable, I would certainly replace one of them with an electric.

  108. Kadaka, the prices you are quoting are *before* the Blending Credit ($0.45/gal) has been applied. The “Blenders’ Credit” goes to the “Blender,” not the Producer; thus it doesn’t show up in the wholesale price.

    I was looking at the futures contracts. I have to admit; that there is such a disparity between the futures, and spot contracts is Very interesting. I thank you for bringing that to my attention.

  109. Myth: Ethanol is Great (Video) (5min) (ABC News)

    Study: Ethanol Won’t Solve Energy Problems (USA Today)

    “Ethanol is far from a cure-all for the nation’s energy problems. It’s not as environmentally friendly as some supporters claim and would supply only 12% of U.S. motoring fuel — even if every acre of corn were used.”

    Ethanol And Biodiesel From Crops Not Worth The Energy (Cornell University)

    The Cellulosic Ethanol Mirage: Verenium and Aventine Are Circling the Drain (Energy Tribune)

  110. From Kum Dollison on November 18, 2010 at 1:43 pm:

    Kadaka, the prices you are quoting are *before* the Blending Credit ($0.45/gal) has been applied. The “Blenders’ Credit” goes to the “Blender,” not the Producer; thus it doesn’t show up in the wholesale price.

    I take it that is based on my comment: “And for making blended gasoline, the ethanol will “cost” another 45 cents a gallon?”

    That’s about the boondoggle of blended gasoline, while we were comparing just ethanol and non-blended gasoline. It’s acceptable to consumers as it’s about the cost of normal gasoline. They generally don’t know that for every 10 gallons of mandated 10% mix there’s another 45 cents of OPM (Other People’s Money) being payed out, as in 45 cents of “lost” tax money that has to be paid back in somewhere to cover government expenditures, which could be from their own taxes or by selling debt in their name (as a US citizen).

    So what happens when the blender’s credit goes away, and they’re paying that much more at the pump? Likely not much, the average working person has already cut their driving down with the economic crunch, they’re buying what they have to and don’t have the luxury of quibbling much about the price. It’ll just add to the resentment against the government for imposing more unneeded regulations without caring how it hurts the little guy.

    BTW, for as much as you like to push ethanol, I sure hope you realize that those of us in the trenches are in no rush to switch to 100% ethanol vehicles, especially if they’re going to cost more. Not that many can afford new cars anyway, and people wanting to buy a house are going to be saving a lot more money so they won’t be buying either. The market for “costs more but good for the environment” ain’t there right now, and possibly for the next decade.

    Take notice of the new car ads, around $13,500 starting price for a gasoline-powered compact car getting up to 40 mpg is often mentioned. Affordable and efficient are the marketing points for the masses. The concept of paying more for a hybrid to save money on gas has taken a severe hit. Except for draconian government mandates essentially banning new gasoline-powered vehicles, can you think of a reason to buy a new ethanol-only car that’s acceptable to average normal people?

  111. Kadaka, I’m not aware of any “ethanol-only” cars on the market. Today, you can buy (order, anyway) a Buick Regal with a 2.0L TDI engine that gets virtually the same mileage on E85 as on gasoline. In a year, or so, you will be able to buy that 40 mpg car that gets the same mileage on E85 as on gasoline (it will, however, deliver about 20% more power when using the 85% ethanol blend.)

    And, you’ve Got to get away from this BTU be-all, end-all. Ethanol has a much higher Octane Rating than gasoline (114 vs 84 for the RBOB it’s blended with.) The new engines coming out will be able to adjust their Compression (via the variable turbo,) and the volume available for fuel mixture in the cylinders via manipulation of EGR in order to achieve parity between gasoline and E85 mileagewise.

    In short, it’s not just BTUs, but, also, the Efficiency in which the BTUs are utilized.

    As for prices, it works this way: If the “futures” contract is showing $2.11 on the CBOT, you can, usually, buy from the biorefinery for approx. $2.00 gal. The Blender is buying for the wholesale price (in this case, approx. $2.00 gal + transportation, and jobbers profit,) and then taking a $0.45 tax credit.) This brings cost to the blender down to approx $1.55/gal + trans., and jobbers fee, and state and federal taxes.

    Bottom line is, if you’re a station in the upper midwest you’re probably buying your ethanol for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.05 to $2.10. If you’re down in the Gulf the jobber is quite likely raping you for $2.45 or $2.50. That’s just an inefficiency in an immature market that will eventually go away when local supplies come online.

    I know there are a lot of “fossil fuel” guys that frequent this site, and everyone has a right to argue against their perceived competition; but in the end they will do just fine, and ethanol will continue to expand to fill the void that’s developing from an increasing tightness in global petroleum supplies. It’s all quite easy to see once you step back and observe the world as it is, and pay attention to how it is developing.

  112. From Poptech on November 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm:

    $3.309 – E85 MPG/BTU Adjusted Price
    +0.450 – Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (Subsidy)
    $3.759 – Actual Price of Ethanol Per Gallon

    Better check the math. From that site comes a retail price of $2.515/gal for E85. The tax credit is $0.45 per gallon of ethanol blended in. For E85 (15% ethanol), with the blender’s credit and using the MPG/BTU adjusted price ratio, the full math would be:

    [2.515 + (0.15 * 0.45)] * (3.309 / 2.515) = 3.398

    $3.398/gal E85 MPG/BTU Adjusted Price with blender’s tax credit added in.

    Not $3.759/gal, but still pretty dang high.

  113. You can’t use “Retail” price. Ethanol is in short supply right now, and is being bought heavily on the “International” market. It’s being bid up. You’ve got to go to what it actually costs to produce. The producers are currently producing, and selling at a profit for around $2.00 – $2.05.

    And, I told you, you’ve Got to get away from that phony “BTU adjustment.” It doesn’t mirror reality. Even the non-efficient Flexfuel cars, and trucks on the market, today, aren’t giving up nearly that much. My flexfuel Impala gives up about 20%. A guy on the thread the other night (not an ethanol lover, by any means) stated that his Ford F-150 gives up 13%. And, as I keep referencing, some of the engines that are coming on the market, now, will get virtually the Same mileage on E85 as on gasoline.

    As for old phony-baloney Pimental, maybe he’d like to explain how we’re replacing 9% of our gasoline, any only using, after allowing for DDGS, about 20% of our field corn crop.

  114. Okay, look, about BTUs: Coal has BTUs. Gasoline has BTUs. Ethanol has BTUs. Firewood has BTUs. Chocolate Kisses have BTUs. The couch you’re sitting on has BTUs.

    All BTUs Are NOT Created Equal. Some do certain jobs better than others. If I were forced to use either gasoline, or ethanol to heat a pan of water I’d choose gasoline. If I were going to use one or the other in a new, advanced ICE engine I’d use ethanol. I can compress it more, and get more power.

    Let’s put it this way: I can cruise along at seventy mph, or so, and get equal mileage with gasoline, but if I get in a tough spot, and need to accelerate out the ethanol will get me out quicker. Got it? Now, I’m not talking about the engine in your car (or mine,) unless you just bought a new Regal. I’m talking about the engine that will be in the car you buy from one to five years from now, depending on the car you buy.

  115. Regards my previous post:

    Sorry Poptech, I was backwards on the ethanol percentage, E85 is 85% ethanol, not 15%.

    [2.515 + (0.85 * 0.45)] * (3.309 / 2.515) = 3.812

    $3.812/gal E85 MPG/BTU Adjusted Price with blender’s tax credit added in.

    Holy Crud, that’s worse than the $3.759 you came up with!

    Man, if the blenders lose that credit and that 45 cents gets passed on to the consumer, I think it’d be a very hard sell to convince people it’s a good thing to pay about a buck more per gallon in equivalent terms. I sure wouldn’t buy it.

  116. Dave F says:

    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…

    I think you identified the key point…. We are NOT changing the fluids every two years as required. Instead we leave the same “corrupted” fluid in place for twenty to thirty years. No wonder the engine is in trouble!

  117. Kum Dollison,

    Sorry but the 2011 Buick Regal is not out and they only claim to improve on the 15% loss in MPG not eliminate the gap. I will wait until Consumer Reports tests any claim a car manufacturer makes because they are consistently wrong, especially with MPG.

    The reality so far is a 15% reduction in MPG running E85,

    E85-ready cars: Gasoline vs. ethanol operating-cost comparison (Consumer Reports)

    Thus, if someone buys an E85 car they will pay more to go the same distance than in a gasoline powered car.

    Ethanol would not exist without government mandates and subsidies. I am interested in why you want Americans to pay more for a fuel that is not economically viable?

    The only thing Ethanol has going for it is a high octane rating, the downsides are many (cannot be transported in existing pipelines, fires are harder to put out ect…) and the most important one – economic viability is not there.

    So do you support the current 54 cent per gallon tariff on imported Ethanol that further steals wealth from the American consumer?

    Why does the U.S. Ethanol industry need to exploit the U.S. consumer? Do you think they are suckers and the government should make them pay more for transportation fuel?

  118. Kum Dollison says:
    November 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm
    “If I were forced to use either gasoline, or ethanol to heat a pan of water I’d choose gasoline.”

    Odd that an avowed ethanophile would say that. Actually chemists traditionally used ethanol for that job, not gasoline. An alcohol spirit lamp burns quietly and safely, whereas gasoline has an unfortunate tendency to produce unpleasantly explosive mixtures (a good way to land yourself in hospital is to use it for lighting fires).

  119. Pop, when the Blenders Credit comes off, the tariff comes off (you do realize that the blenders credit applies to imported ethanol as well as domestic, right?)

    When the Credit comes off you will pay about Four and a Half Cents more for your gasoline, but the Gov will borrow some tiny amount less from China in your name.

    E85 sales will go down, initially, but as corn returns to more normal price levels, and as gasoline becomes more dear, again, the trajectory of E85 sales will likely escalate once more.

  120. From Kum Dollison on November 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm:

    Ethanol has a much higher Octane Rating than gasoline (114 vs 84 for the RBOB it’s blended with.)

    You really need to get off of this “It’s got high octane!” kick. From the Renewable Fuels Association site comes the Changes in Gasoline IV manual (pdf), which yields this on pg 31:

    Octane: A minimum octane for E85 is not specified. FFV’s can tolerate the lower octane of gasoline i.e. 87 (R+M)/2. There is no requirement to post octane on an E85 dispenser. If a retailer chooses to post octane, they should be aware that the often cited 105 octane is incorrect. This number was derived by using ethanol’s blending octane value in gasoline. This is not the proper way to calculate the octane of E85. Ethanol’s true octane value should be used to calculate E85’s octane value. This results in an octane range of 94-96 (R+M)/2. These calculations have been confirmed by actual octane engine tests.

    That’s about the rating of premium gasoline. What you’re talking about, the higher compression possible etc, can be achieved with premium. Mileage is generally the same whether burning common 87 octane or 93 octane premium, it’s the same energy content.

    If you wanted the “performance benefit” that’s possible with E85 but using normal gasoline, all you’d need is an engine system that could measure the octane of the gasoline in the system and adjust accordingly. Don’t need the performance boost, use common 87. If you want it, use the pricier stuff.

    At current national average prices, 87 is $2.883/gal, premium is $3.172. And the E85 MPG/BTU Adjusted Price is $3.306/gal. That’s paying a lot extra for some added performance from E85 versus premium over 87.

    Also, from the mentioned manual, same pg:

    Gasoline Gallon Equivalence (GGE): E85 blends contain less energy than gasoline, which results in fewer miles per gallon. Fuel cost, on a miles driven basis, must be considered. This is where things get a little more complicated. First, E85 is really E75 in the winter, E80 in spring and fall, and E85 in summer. Ethanol does not contain as much energy as gasoline (lower btu/gallon). In fact, E85 (E75, E80) contains about 73% to 76% the btu content of gasoline.

    What is so wrong with ethanol that they can’t use as much when it’s colder?

  121. Ethanol runs cooler. It’s harder to ignite in cold weather. It’s kind of like me; it likes to hang out in a nice, warm place. Your pdf brought up the point that some “gasoline” blends act the same way.

    You’re cherry-picking. You left out all of the references to ethanol, actually, doing better than btu content would suggest due to Thermal Efficiencies.

    Look, some flexfuels only give up around 10% mileage. Some are in the 15% range. Most hang out somewhere between 20% (my Impala,) and 25%. But, these are Old engines. They are just gasoline engines with a few minor modifications that allow them to do an adequate job on higher ethanol blends.

    I’m talking about the engines that are coming out, now. They are a different breed of cat. The new Regal will narrow the gap into the low, to middle single digits. Add in the new Delphi heated injectors that are expected to be on the market in 2012, and you’re probably looking at parity.

    94 – 96 Octane is Not anywhere close to “premium” gasoline. That puts you into the Super-Expensive “Race Gas” territory.

    Well, gotta run now, Kadaka. Been nice chattin wit ya. Happy Motorin. :)

  122. Kum Dollison,

    Actually I have no idea what I will be paying for gasoline after the subsidy and tariffs expire because I have no real idea the available quantity of foreign made ethanol.

    You never answered the question, do you support the current 54 cent per gallon tariff on imported Ethanol that further steals wealth from the American consumer?

    Do you support the 10% Ethanol mandate imposed by economically illiterate government bureaucrats?

    If you believe ethanol is competitive with oil than you should be petitioning to have the mandate, subsidies and tariffs removed. You should also be for repeal of all agricultural subsidies, (especially on corn) – as these directly effect the price of ethanol. Otherwise you are pro-American consumer exploitation.

    Like I said before ethanol would not exist without the government.

  123. It doesn’t matter if I support the $0.45/gal tariff, or not. It’s coming off.

    And, it doesn’t “steal” from the consumer. You pay a little less for gasoline, and the gummint borrows a little less from China.

    As for subsidies: The U.S. Subsidized “Fossil” fuels to the tune of $52 Billion, last year alone.

    Yes, I absolutely support the mandate. The oil companies would have never let ethanol get started without being forced to.

    I do support some sort of “safety net” for farmers. A well thought-out support structure actually serves to make food cheaper. Remember, we pay the lowest prices for food of any nation in the history of the world.

  124. You never answered the question, do you support the current 54 cent per gallon tariff on imported Ethanol that further steals wealth from the American consumer?

    Of course it steals wealth from the American consumer because it makes them pay more for transportation fuel. Why do you want to punish the American consumer?

    As for subsidies: The U.S. Subsidized “Fossil” fuels to the tune of $52 Billion, last year alone.

    I am for removing all subsidies but these are minuscule compared to ethanol, especially once your calculate in the extra taxes and regulation imposed on the oil industry,

    Big Oil” at the Public Trough? An Examination of Petroleum Subsidies (PDF) (Ronald J. Sutherland, Ph.D. Energy Economist)

    Yes, I absolutely support the mandate. The oil companies would have never let ethanol get started without being forced to.

    The oil companies do not control what energy sources we use, the market does. It is clear you don’t care about how much the government punishes the American consumer and steals their wealth, you just care about your emotional ideology based on fantasy conspiracy theories.

    I do support some sort of “safety net” for farmers. A well thought-out support structure actually serves to make food cheaper. Remember, we pay the lowest prices for food of any nation in the history of the world.

    So you are a socialist, this explains your economic illiteracy when it comes to ethanol. We pay the lowest price for food of an nation in the world because we are the wealthiest nation in the world, it has nothing to do with subsidies. Subsidies merely distort prices, they artificially make the product being subsidized appear cheaper while robbing the capital away from other more productive uses of that capital in the economy. Ethanol subsidies BTW make food more expensive but you obviously don’t care if the poor of the world are hungry and starving just so long as your emotional ideology is fulfilled,

    Ethanol Fuel From Corn Faulted As “Unsustainable Subsidized Food Burning” In Analysis By Cornell Scientist (Cornell University)
    Biofuels Could Lead to Mass Hunger Deaths: U.N. Envoy (Reuters)

  125. Just to clarify why the octane rating is irrelevant,

    7 More Fuel-Sipping Myths Debunked: Mechanic’s Diary (Popular Mechanics)

    The Lie: “More expensive fuel offer better fuel economy, because it’s higher quality!”

    The Truth: The media has confused this issue terribly. Post-1996 model-year cars virtually all have knock sensors. If the octane rating is too low, the computer will roll back the ignition timing a few degrees to compensate. This will reduce peak engine power, and also increase fuel consumption. So, in some sense, this myth gets it right–if your car is supposed to run premium. One of our long-term test cars in the PM fleet delivers an impressive 25-percent better fuel economy running on premium than it does on regular, although our test was hardly done under rigorous conditions. I’ll leave the math for an exercise, but I calculate the price differential between 87- and 91-octane fuel at more like 6 percent–at least in my neighborhood. Your mileage may vary, but it’s worth trying to see what happens in your car. If you top 6-percent better fuel mileage on premium, it may save you money to run it.

    Of course, older cars, built in the days before knock sensors, may be damaged by running too poor a grade of fuel. Spark knock can actually burn holes in pistons, so burn substandard fuel in non-knock-sensor-equipped cars at your peril.

    But wait, there’s more! Is your car supposed to run on Regular? There are more BTUs (energy) in regular than in higher grades. You may very well get better miles-per-gallon from regular.

  126. From Kum Dollison on November 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm:

    Ethanol runs cooler. It’s harder to ignite in cold weather.

    Dang, I thought you’d have mentioned the info from that manual I mentioned, pg 31 of the pdf although pg 29 as numbered, where I got the other info. From the section on Vapor Pressure:

    It is often difficult to meet the minimum vapor pressure requirements with today’s lower volatility gasolines. If a customer is complaining of poor cold start and poor warm up performance when operating on E85, it could be because the fuel’s vapor pressure is too low. This can be remedied simply by adding more gasoline to the blend.
    ASTM is currently assessing the possibility of lowering requirements for the ethanol portion of the blend and increasing the hydrocarbon portion. This would increase vapor pressure for colder climates and/or where gasoline used in the blend is of lower volatility.

    I have also read how in colder parts of the US, for ten months of the year they sell 70% ethanol (reference).

    To skip ahead:

    94 – 96 Octane is Not anywhere close to “premium” gasoline. That puts you into the Super-Expensive “Race Gas” territory.

    Nah. And some readers might be getting confused. As the Wikipedia Octane rating entry puts it:

    Generally, octane ratings are higher in Europe than they are in North America and most other parts of the world. This is especially true when comparing the lowest available octane level in each country. In many parts of Europe, 95 RON (90–91 AKI) is the minimum available standard, with 97/98 RON being higher specification (being called Super Unleaded). The higher rating seen in Europe is an artifact of a different underlying measuring procedure. In most countries (including all of Europe and Australia) the “headline” octane that would be shown on the pump is the RON, but in Canada, the United States and some other countries the headline number is the average of the RON and the MON, sometimes called the Anti-Knock Index (AKI), Road Octane Number (RdON), Pump Octane Number (PON), or (R+M)/2. Because of the 8 to 10-point difference noted above, this means that the octane in the United States will be about 4 to 5 points lower than the same fuel elsewhere: 87 octane fuel, the “regular” gasoline in Canada and the US, would be 91–92 in Europe. However most European pumps deliver 95 (RON) as “regular”, equivalent to 90–91 US AKI=(R+M)/2, and deliver 98, 99 or 100 (RON) (93-94 AKI) labeled as Super Unleaded – thus regular petrol sold in much of Europe corresponds to premium sold in the United States.

    The extra-pricey premium in the US is very close to “Super Unleaded” in Europe, which is itself at the low end of the 94-96 range for E85. That is not “race gas” which is 100 AKI and higher. If the market was there, with engines that could provide that performance boost with higher octane but still run fine at 87, gasoline at 94-96 would be freely available.

    As to the rest, well… I don’t like the Wikipedia Ethanol fuel entry, as with the E85 entry it looks abandoned, info getting out of date, references going to now-dead links. But it does have these good parts:

    (…) Ethanol (E100) consumption in an engine is approximately 51% higher than for gasoline since the energy per unit volume of ethanol is 34% lower than for gasoline.[20][21] However, the higher compression ratios in an ethanol-only engine allow for increased power output and better fuel economy than could be obtained with lower compression ratios.[22][23] In general, ethanol-only engines are tuned to give slightly better power and torque output than gasoline-powered engines. In flexible fuel vehicles, the lower compression ratio requires tunings that give the same output when using either gasoline or hydrated ethanol. For maximum use of ethanol’s benefits, a much higher compression ratio should be used,[24] Current high compression neat ethanol engine designs are approximately 20-30% less fuel efficient than their gasoline-only counterparts.[25]
    (…)
    Ethanol’s higher octane rating allows an increase of an engine’s compression ratio for increased thermal efficiency.[22] In one study, complex engine controls and increased exhaust gas recirculation allowed a compression ratio of 19.5 with fuels ranging from neat ethanol to E50. Thermal efficiency up to approximately that for a diesel was achieved.[28] This would result in the fuel economy of a neat ethanol vehicle to be about the same as one burning gasoline.

    Twist it however you want, ethanol still has less stored energy than gasoline. Due to better combustion properties, you are able to use inherently more efficient higher compression ratios. But, flex-fuel vehicles are a compromise, they cannot be as efficient as an ethanol-only vehicle. Pulling out all the stops, with turbos and lots of exhaust gas recirculation with complex computerized controls, you can get an ethanol-tuned very high compression engine that will yield about the same mileage as gasoline, and won’t work with plain gasoline.

    You just can’t get there with E85 and flex-fuel. Period.

  127. The Canada – Switzerland comparison is stupid foolish. Switzerland’s long axis is under 1/15 Canada’s. Transportation costs and losses are much higher in Canada; it also has a much more variable and severe climate. Apples and apples, oranges and oranges, please!

  128. But, that’s just it, Kadaka; the most advanced engines with varible ratio turbo, VVT, and Direct Injection Can Dial it Back for Gasoline.

    When the O2 sensor detects straight gasoline the turbo is dialled back – decreasing the compression, and the EGR is decreased, in effect increasing the volume available for fuel in the Cylinder. You Can run both E85, And Gasoline at their Optimum Efficiencies. This is what the 2.0L DI Turbo Engine in the new Buick Regal does.

    You Will see more, and more of these engines in the coming days.

    * Right now you’re getting about 4% less mileage, and 20% more HP.

    The next iteration will have the soon to be available Heated Injectors. At that point you should have Equal mileage, and still about 20% more HP on E85.

    Pops, it’s too late in the thread to spend another 30 minutes knocking down all those old chestnuts. Maybe some other time.

    Oh, and your boy “Pimental?” He’s an entomologist, and has been pitching “Coal to Liquid” for many years. He is, to put it bluntly, “not a disinterested observer.”

    He stated that it would take our entire corn crop to produce enough ethanol for a 10% blend. We’re at 9%, Now, and we’re using, after accounting for DDGS, approx. 20% of our corn crop. And the crop, itself, is about the same number of acres (between 85, and 90 million acres.)

  129. “* Right now you’re getting about 4% less mileage, and 20% more HP.”

    There is no independent testing to support this statement.

    David Pimentel, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He was also a Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Science at the time of that publication, he just did not retire as such. His research areas included,

    * biodiversity | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * crop management or crop science | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * ecology | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * environmental sciences | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * organic agriculture | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * pesticide management | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * pest management | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * soil and crop science | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * soil health | collaborative research area (CALS)
    * sustainable agriculture | collaborative research area (CALS)

    He is more than qualified on this topic.

    Coal to liquids makes more sense at a certain price point than burning food.

    You still have not answered why you are in favor of punishing the American consumer just to support your emotional ideology about Ethanol. Does the American consumer not have the right to purchase the most economically viable (cheapest) source of transportation fuel?

    Why are you in favor of contributing to world hunger by burning food?

  130. Yeah, Pops, he’s so qualified that he stated that it would take our Entire corn crop to replace 10% of our gasoline, and a couple of years later we’ve replace 9% of our gasoline using 20% of our corn crop. He was still using 120 bu/acre yields in 2007 when yields were running 150 bu/acre (national average.)

    In 2007 a study was done by Ia State that concluded that gasoline prices would be, on average, $0.35 gal higher if ethanol wasn’t in the market place. It’s, also, a fact that the Ethanol Industry pays way more in taxes – fed, state, and local – than it receives in subsidies.

    As for the “food” argument Poor people don’t eat field corn. Field corn is eaten by cows, which are, in turn, eaten by RICH People. BTW, even with the anomalous China-driven Commodity spike field corn is still selling for less than 10 cents/lb.

    And, btw, when you make ethanol from corn you don’t use the protein, vitamins, and minerals. You just utilize the Starch. All the Nutritious stuff is returned in the form of DDGS, and fed to the cows in lieu of the whole corn. Cows grow faster, and put on more wt when fed DDGS than when fed straight corn.

  131. Excerpt from Kum Dollison on November 21, 2010 at 1:00 am:

    Field corn is eaten by cows, which are, in turn, eaten by RICH People.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

    I must remember that!

    Next time I order a burger from the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, I should tell myself I’m eating COW therefore I’M A RICH PERSON!

    Across this country, mothers stretching their budgets are buying the cheapest grade of ground COW. As they serve what they can can scrounge together with it to their hungry children, they need to tell their children THEY ARE RICH PEOPLE!

    Why, when I feed the old dog her store-brand canned food, containing COW, I should her SHE’S A RICH PERSON!

    Because, after all, it is RICH PEOPLE that eat COW!

  132. Well, Kadaka, the anti-ethanol crowd keeps referencing those people in Bangladesh, Africa, etc that live on $1.00/day, or so. You are, I would say, Incredibly Rich compared to them.

    I was just trying to make the point that those people are not eating (and, never were) corn-fed beef, in the first place.

    BTW, there are 2.6 pounds of corn in a pound of beef. Corn, before the big “spike-up” due to Russian buying was up about $0.04/lb compared to pre-ethanol price.

    It looks like your “Quarter-Pounder” is up about A Penny as a result of ethanol

    How will you Ever survive.

  133. The point is not whether people would/could have eaten the field corn. That corn displaces other crops; food prices rise. That’s what caused the food riots and what is killing people.

  134. I defy you to find the slightest connection between field corn prices in the U.S. and any of the “food protests/demonstrations, etc” anywhere in the world. White sweet corn in Mexico, Bread (bakers went on strike) in Egypt, Rice in India, or China. Go on. Show the causation. I’ll wait . . . . . . . . . . .

  135. I am neutral on ethanol. It’s just another fuel.

    I am an opponent of ethanol subsidies. As is, of all people, Al Gore. Go figure.

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