Some Facts About Energy

By Wallace Manheimer

The industrial age, namely using coal, oil and gas to generate power instead of human and animal muscle, and wind and solar have lifted billions out of poverty. Before the industrial age, civilization was a thin veneer on top of a vast mound of human misery, that civilization maintained by such things as slavery, colonies, and tyranny. The recent calls to reject fossil fuel and go back to the former ways motivates one to see in a quantitative way just how important fossil fuel is and how we rely on it. It takes some numbers, which generally bore people as compared to generalities and preposterous claims, but numbers are important, and in fact are simpler to understand than the vague generalities.

First let us look at the power that the world uses. BP is one of many organizations that publishes this data. Below is their graph of the power used by different parts of the world at various years and with projections for the future. The unit on the vertical axis is billions of tons per year of oil equivalent. Since this is not the usual units we think of, just think of a billion tons of oil per year as approximately equal to a trillion Watts, or a terawatt (TW). These Watts are the same units we are all use to, for instance we know what a 100-Watt light bulb is. Keep it on for 10 hours and you have used a kilowatt hour of energy and added about a dime to your electric bill. Here we will reduce all units of power to Watts, so everything will be in the same units and we can compare the power usage of one aspect of our lives to another.

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Note that now the world uses ~14 (TW). Also note that it is the less developed parts of the world that is increasing power use. However, power use is very unequal. The billion or so people in the developed part of the world use about 6 TW, or about 6 kilowatts (KW) per capita. In the United States we use about 8 KW per capita. The billion or so people in China are greatly increasing their power use. At a science meeting in 2009, a high-ranking member of the Chinese Academy of Science said that in 2000, the average Chinese used about 10% of the power of the average American, and they would not rest until the power use is about the same. The 1.2 billion Chinese now use about 2.5 KW per capita, or about 30% of what the Average American uses. Regarding the rest of the world, the other 5 billion people use ~ 1 KW per capita.

Let’s see what these power number means. Take a typical American family with two parents and two children in the household. Say both parents work in different places so they have 2 cars and drive each one the average of 12,000 miles per year. If their cars get 30 miles per gallon (most cars average less), they use together 800 gallons of gas per year. A gallon of gas (or heating oil) has the energy equivalent of about 40 KW hours, and there are about 30 million seconds in a year, so the family’s cars use about 5 kW. Now say they use the average of 500 gallons of heating oil to heat their house; this is about 3 KW. Then say that their home electrical use is the average of about 1.3 KW. However, electricity is produced with an efficiency of, of about 1/3, so their electrical use claims another 4 KW total (of say coal, gas or nuclear fuel). Hence their total power use is ~ 12 KW, or about 3 KW per person for the 4 of them.

But where does the other 5 KW’s come from? Obviously the home is not the only source of power; there are offices and other public buildings, factories, the military, public transportation, airplanes, ships, railraoad,s etc, which use the other 5 KW per capita.

Now think of what the lifestyle in the rest of the world where the average power use is only 1 KW. These countries also have factories, a military, airlines…. The average power these citizens use in the home is probably more like 0.5 KW per capita. These people live on a much, much lower standard than we do in the United States. Is this what we want either for us or for them? Of Course not, not only is it immoral, the citizens of these poorer countries will not stand for it much longer, just like the Chinese do not stand for it now. The world needs more power, not less.

Let’s see what the sources of power are. Here again we turn to BP. Below is their graph year by year of past and predicted world power by source.

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Clearly fossil fuels count for ~80% of world power, and at least currently, renewables ~1%. While BP predicts it will go up to ~10-15% in 20 years, this is speculative and depends on strong subsidies for renewables, dependent on the changeable political will of the nations. There are all sorts of speculations of

what the consequences of climate change might be in a worst-case scenario, which everyone seems to assume. However, we should also consider the consequences of ending the use of fossil fuel before a substitute becomes available at about the same quantity and price. The unquestionable consequence of greatly reducing fossil fuel any time in the next 20 or more years will mean the end of the industrial age, and the impoverishment of billions of people worldwide. Furthermore, it would mean nearly continuous war, as different countries scramble for the diminishing resources. No, more than that, there is no doubt that it would it would mean the end of civilization as we know it.

Reference:

The graphs can be found on page 14 of the 2018 edition of the BP Energy Outlook: https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/energy-outlook/bp-energy-outlook-2018.pdf

102 thoughts on “Some Facts About Energy

  1. Rather than speculate about future global warming (a fantasy, always claimed to be really bad news), I wonder why more people don’t look back at the past 80 years of adding CO2 to the air (really good news).

    IF CO2 emissions are making our planet a little warmer, then give me more of that !

    The current climate is the best it has been for humans in at least 500 years.

    Possibly the best climate since the Holocene optimum thousands of years ago.

    There can only be two reasons for wanting to stop global warming:
    (1) You are a fool, or
    (2) You love colder weather (perhaps a ski bum?)

    Making k

  2. Who missed the good old days when they have slaves at their calling, they have colonies to supply the raw materials and commit the most hideous crimes without fear of being punished but the tyrants, the cruel colonizers and the people at the top of the heap enjoying the sufferings of the bulk of humanity below them? Take a quick scan of the profiles of the people supporting the CAGW and decarbonization of the global economy? Are those not composed primarily of the descendants of the tyrants, colonizers, and slavers? Of course below them are the modern compradors who sold goods obtained by local slaves , local chieftains who harvest their neighbors for sale to slavers, and local elite who are part of the cargo cult.
    What has the mainstream media have to say of the XR profile? the billionaires and the very rich in former colonizers talking and pretending like saviors and liberal minded citizens of the world? Is CAGW and decarbonization agenda really fund transfer ot the rest of humanity or if there is a fund transfer is it primarily to leaders of the cargo cult, the compradors, and the suppliers of slaves hoping for the return of the good old days?

  3. How did the learned “scientists “ decide that pre-industrial (pre-1860) was an appropriate benchmark. If I recall correctly, almost 25 percent of Europe’s population died between the medieval climate optimum and 1860.

    • That’s because CO2 was estimated to be ~280ppm/v then. The climate was stable, the weather was perfect every day, there were no bushfires, no floods, no storms, everything living together in perfect harmony.

      Seriously, there are people who believe this.

  4. People are not going to want to lower their standard of living. Therefore, in the absence of viable energy alternatives, they will be coerced or forced to give up on fossil fuels. Only totalitarian societies will be able to wield such coercion or force.

  5. Even after 155 years, Democrats in the US are still pissed that Republican President Abraham Lincoln took away their slaves. Now they want to impeach the current Republican President to help them bring about energy poverty under a fake climate crisis claims and return to a feudal society. A society where the serfs don’t compete with the elites for ski slopes, beach access, or the fuel needed for their private jets and yachts.

    • Well said. Stark, but true.

      It sounds like you’ve read “The Road to Serfdom,” which I recommend frequently. That’s where the left is taking us, most likely with intent, unless you subscribe to the axiom that you should never attribute to a deliberate scheme what can more easily be explained by stupidity.

    • I followed the Congressional Impeachment Inquiry in a disbelief. The source (the whistleblower) is anonymous. All (s)he reported was a hearsay. They discussed “facts” that would be inadmissible in a small claims court. Apparently they value the presidency at less than $5,000.00.

      • Notice how the same techniques used to push the impeachment insanity are used to promote the alarmist agenda? Do you think they’ll learn that these techniques always blow up in a spectacular manner?

        It sure has boxed Pelosi into a corner who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Either there’s no vote or a vote fails and it becomes patently obvious that its been a hoax from the start, or it goes on the the Senate where the Democrats will be destroyed and Trump will come out of it stronger than ever. Either way, her term as speaker is over after 2020.

        • It has become patently obvious to me that the “impeachment” thingy has been a hoax from the start, but has morphed from just trying to discredit and/or destroy Trump’s Presidency ……. to a concerted “delaying action” of criminal prosecutions of elected Democrats and Federal Government employees who willingly and knowingly committed dastardly, devious, dishonest acts in violation of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

          If they can/could get by with it, …… the Democrat’s “impeachment” circus (testimonies, etc., etc,) will continue on unabated until the General Election in November 2020.

          • When the President tried to bribe a foreign official it is grounds for impeachment.

            Trump, Pelosi, Nadler and Schumer have been friends for decades. Impeaching him is the last thing they want to do.

            They would much rather work with him to pass legislation.

          • Ralph,

            Be careful with the kool-aid. It’s been known to cause hallucinations.

            Can’t you see how the Democrats invented context to both hide the truth and fit a false narrative? It’s the same kind of BS the alarmists do by inventing fake facts to support a contrived narrative and then apply circular logic and projection to support the lies. It’s a tried and true formula used to push ideas that can’t stand on merit.

            There was no bribe and the only thing Trump did was his job. I think he actually should have held up the aid until we had some clarity on the issues related to corruption within the Obama administration, the DNC and the Clinton campaign. What’s really worse here, corruption or investigating the corruption?

            BTW, Pelosi doesn’t want to pass bipartisan legislation, but wants to use her House majority to push partisan bills on controversial issues. They add some pork to get a few Republicans on board and then call it bipartisan in a self righteously indignant manner, knowing full well that it will not stand a chance in the Senate. Meanwhile, legislation that would easily pass the Senate is held up by Pelosi so they can concentrate on their fake impeachment.

          • Ralph Gardner December 6, 2019 at 12:46 pm

            They (Pelosi, Nadler and Schumer) would much rather work with him (Trump) to pass legislation.

            Ralph, best you start thinking for yourself rather than depending on those Democrat politicians doing your thinking for you. They have been lying to you …. and lying has served them well, …. Which you are testimony of.

            “DUH”, Pelosi, Nadler and Schumer have to work with other House and Senate Democrats and Republicans “to pass Legislation”, …… but not with Trump because the POTUS cannot pass Legislation or even vote on passing it.

            The POTUS can only “sign it” or ”veto it” after Congress passes it.

    • Two new discoveries should fairly quickly lead to solar electricity at around 1/3rd the current cost of electricity if the government backs them with a couple of billion and a program like the Manhattan Project to build an Atomic bomb.

      The average efficiency of a commercial solar panel is between 11 and 22 percent. One new device could boost that to 80 percent. That would make solar about one-third the cost of fossil fuels and the markets will switch to solar by themselves.

      A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency to 80%
      https://www.sciencealert.com/device-that-channels-heat-into-light-could-boost-solar-efficiency-to-80-percent

      There is another lead that may produce 95% efficiency from solar.
      Secrets of fluorescent microalgae could lead to super-efficient solar cells
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190509112258.htm

      • yes , the next big leap in renewables is coming/imminent/just over the horizon or around the corner

        has been for some time

        batteries are getting much cheaper , its coming/imminent/just over the horizon or around the corner

        Lion batteries have viable operational recycling systems as well, they are coming …………

        • In Australia they claim that solar electricity is now as cheap as the distribution costs for fossil fuel generated electricity.

          • This must be some strange and unusual definition of the word “cheap” I’m not familiar with. Here in South Australia, the most expensive place for electricity on the planet behind Germany, we have solar and wind farms. Over the past 20 years our electricity has quadrupled in price and to ensure this they literally blew up the coal fired power plant. As an aside the Musk battery has really only been used for frequency stabilization on most days in the year.

            Solar/Wind is not even close to the coal plant’s $30/MW it was not so long ago. Also monitoring this site: https://opennem.org.au/energy/sa1/ States other than QLD (WA not connected to this grid) apart from QLD that still has a good number of coal fired plants, regularly rely on QLD to provide power to the rest of the grid thanks to the change to ‘renewables’

        • “yes , the next big leap in renewables is coming/imminent/just over the horizon or around the corner

          has been for some time

          batteries are getting much cheaper , its coming/imminent/just over the horizon or around the corner” and

          Germany’s Schwarz-Schilling makes profit on Elon Musk’s Tesla ponzi-scheme.

          https://www.kas.de/web/geschichte-der-cdu/personen/biogramm-detail/-/content/christian-schwarz-schilling-v1

          Subsidised by ornery working class scandal-diesel owners.

      • That new device must really be something since most present solar cells will never get much over 30% the physic they are built on limit them to that. Any one how claim they will be a solar cell running over 80% is in all probability lying, again physic is a bitch, you cannot beat it, I am more than will to tell you efficiencies you are talking about are not possible. You are basically spewing perpetual motion machine nonsense.

        • It’s not perpetual machine nonsense. One organism they have discovered can convert solar energy to usable energy at 95% efficiency, that’s why they issued a press release that I provided the link too. The other article is about a way using nanotechnology to convert heat which current solar cells waste and convert it to electricity and an 80% efficient. That is also from a press release that I provided a link to.

      • Strictly speaking, solar and wind are not sources of energy because the quality of that energy is unbearable low.
        If reliability isn’t good enough, then so source of energy is faulty, it doesn’t work.
        Take example: how much would you pay for a car normally worth 20k, that is running only half a time? Every time you want to drive, you check if it eventually can start at all, then you hope to get to destination before it goes off.
        I personally, wouldn’t get such a car for free. It is worth zero $. Strictly speaking, it’s not even a car.

      • Even if this claim was true, you still have to cover the cost of what produces power when the sun isn’t shining.
        That cost is by far the biggest cost of solar power, and your claims don’t change that.

        • With 80-95% efficiency compared with the 20% efficiencies of current solar panels they should be able the provide enough electricity for day and night.

      • The vast majority of the energy falling from the sun is in the visible spectrum.
        Even if you were able to capture 100% of the IR energy, it wouldn’t get you anywhere close to capturing 80% of the energy from light.

        • The solar cells only use 20% of the solar energy, the rest is converted to heat. The discovery I posted was a way to convert the wasted heat back to light which should boost the efficiency to around 80%.

        • “Ralph Gardner December 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm

          The solar cells only use 20% of the solar energy, the rest is converted to heat. The discovery I posted was a way to convert the wasted heat back to light” –> The solar cells only use 20% of the solar energy, the rest is converted to heat. The discovery I posted instead of getting rich by just MAKE it for REAL was a way to convert the wasted heat back to light.

      • I’ve been watching solar power R&D for over 40 years now, and have seen many claims like these. They all came to nothing. Solar conversion efficiency has hardly improved at all. So you’ll excuse me if I remain skeptical. But even if they get efficiency up to 95% and panel lifetimes up to 50 years, we will still need massive leaps in battery technology in order to provide sufficient buffer for night time and cloudy/snowy days. Good luck with that. In my experience, miracles seldom happen, and back-to-back complementary miracles are 100 times less likely. In the meantime, dismantling our primary energy production systems, hoping for the double miracle, is criminally insane.

        • We have done all types of things that weren’t possible in the past. Cars are better than horses and man created that. That was a miracle at the time. Going into outer space was a miracle along with going to the moon. Vaccinations are a miracle as is the cures of cancer.

          There are lots of things that some people would can miracles that have happened in the past and are still happening. I like Eurekalert.org because it has lots of press release of new science discoveries, miracles, if you like.

      • The best solar energy harvesting technology I have heard of is based on a bioengineered protein called RuBisCo. Organisms with this protein system use sunlight to split water into H2 and O2 with approaching 100% efficiency, and using the energy and chemical reducing power to synthesise organic compounds. These organic compounds and polymers are later processed by compaction and burial to create high energy concentration semicrystalline solids or organic fluid. These materials are harvested and combusted to generate energy in an efficient and cost effective way. Any CO2 produced is recycled straight back into the system for light-catalysed water splitting and organic synthesis. Several different versions of this almost completely efficient system have been developed, referred to for example and C3 abd C4 for instance.

        This system is called photosynthesis and evolved one billion years ago. It is the only solar energy technology that we need. All artificial alternatives are dirty, polluting, inefficient and expensive wastes of resources.

      • … if the government backs them with a couple of billion and a program like the Manhattan Project to build an Atomic bomb.”

        If any new technology had merit, there would be no need of government support at all. Industry would happily invest in the Research and Development to bring the device to market if they could sell it for a profit. Therefore I can call bulls*** on your entire comment, as well as your links, without reading another word.

    • Trump, Pelosi, Schumer and Nadler have a been friends for decades. Trump was a large Democratic donor until 2015 when he decided to run for office as a Republican, because of the smaller number of candidates.

      • You mention energy consmption in KW. Should it not be measured in Kilo Watt hours kWh – and not just KW? total energy consumption is measured in kWh. Pls explain

  6. Before fossil fuels, one of the main sources of human muscle was slavery. link If you’re against fossil fuels, you’re for slavery.

  7. Anyone who believes that the USA abandoning Fossil Fuel use will have any measurable effect on global CO2 levels is dilaudid.
    Anyone who believes that China will follow suit in any effectual timeframe is similarly dilaudid.
    Regardless of what the OECD (OCD) nations of the world do, Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will continue to increase so long as the developing world is allowed to continue utilizing fossil sourced energy.
    Further, anyone who believes that the UN will be able enforce any mandated reductions in Fossil Energy use in China or India has a severe “Wake-up Call” in their immediate future.

    • Ha Ha, you got me there, for a while, Bryan A. I thought you had misspelled deluded, when you really meant dilaudid, which is an opioid pain killer. Clever, suggesting anyone believing the USA gives up fossil fuel is zombied out of their mind on opioids.

    • “….will have any measurable effect on global CO2 levels is dilaudid.”
      dilaudid is an opioid medication for pain. Your statement may be true even with the wrong word.
      The important reason reducing emissions will have no effect is that they only comprise about 3% of the increase in atmospheric content and are swamped by natural emissions. (Harde 2017, 2019, Berry 2019). Changes in human emissions elicit no response in atmospheric content for periods of at least 5 years
      (https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/12/19/co2responsiveness/) so reducing emissions is wasted effort with no expected reduction in atmospheric content even if all humans quit using fossil fuels.

  8. You should correct your units. You start well referring to the kilowatt-hour but then happily interchange power and energy. A “terawatt” is a measure of power not energy.

    Power has no time component. It cannot be “used”. Energy is “used”.

    Your units are a mess. Your conversion of oil volume to power is just meaningless. If you meant TWh instead of TW then you are few orders of magnitude out. Global energy consumption is around 15.5PWh.

    • I agree; it was the first thing I noticed and had to quit reading. If even the units are not accurate, how carefully presented is anything else? It’s unfortunate because I think the writer meant well, but yes the “units are a mess”.

      Come to think of it, wasn’t it in even high-school physics that we were taught to balance out the units of every equation first before doing a calculation?–because if the units didn’t balance the equation was wrong?

      • Hear hear!

        It promised to be an interesting, maybe even informative, post.

        I happened to have received my electrical bill in the mail today, and for a moment, I thought – hello! I’m super-rich? I’m using close to 70kWh/day some months, and that’s just to heat/cool/run my little house North of the Vermont border (mine’s hydro though, so no big multiplier).

        Oh well. Easy come easy go.

        I thought the talk had been of kWh/day… but then everything went fuzzy…

        Assuming the basic facts are solid, I would like to see the article presented coherently.

    • Yes, the units are a mess.
      No, power has a time component, energy does not. A Watt is a Joule/second. A Watt-hour is a Joule/second/hour, or Joules*3600, a measurement of energy. The author seems to be going to terawatt-years (?) for most of the latter discussion…

      • In the sense of “used”. Power has no time component. It is instantaneous. Power integrated over time is energy.

  9. The biggest problem we face is one of ignorance. And with humans the supply of ignorance is unlimited.
    What is clear is most East and Left Liberals in the US thinks there electricity comes from a plug in the wall and their food comes from grocery stores. Or at least they act like it when they call for an end to fossil fuel extraction and burning.

    Because even if every car truck and airplane became an EV with the wave of the hand magic. And every home, office, factory was all electric, no fossil fuel. And every KWh consumed was from a renewable source, our agriculture system that delivers high quality produce, foods, and a large consumer selection of brands and organic, non-organic, etc, all comes from fossil fuel. For the conceivable future our agricultural systems of crop planting, seed production, harvesting, fertilizing, processing are all highly fossil fuel dependent. Take away fossil fuel from our agricultural system and the grocery shelves go bare very quickly and 4 billion people will quickly find out what starvation means for green climate dreams.

    But then billions of people dying of starvation is exactly what many on the Left envision. They actually want to realize Paul Ehrlich’s and John Holdren’s dream of mass worldwide starvation …in order to save the planet.

    For the Left their policies actually bring about the crises they to want to avoid. From homeless tent cities, to food shortages, to unaffordable energy, everything they say they want to avoid their polices actually enable.

    • Two new discoveries should fairly quickly lead to solar electricity at around 1/3rd the current cost of electricity if the government backs them with a couple of billion and a program like the Manhattan Project to build an Atomic bomb.

      That should get rid of Russia as a world power.

      The average efficiency of a commercial solar panel is between 11 and 22 percent. One new device could boost that to 80 percent. That would make solar about one-third the cost of fossil fuels and the markets will switch to solar by themselves.

      A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency to 80%
      https://www.sciencealert.com/device-that-channels-heat-into-light-could-boost-solar-efficiency-to-80-percent

      There is another lead that may produce 95% efficiency from solar.
      Secrets of fluorescent microalgae could lead to super-efficient solar cells
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190509112258.htm

      • Hello Ralph Gardner. Thank you for this excellent technology breakthrough news. Our energy infrastructure at any given time is a work in progress that has evolved through dramatic changes and it will continue to evolve. But that evolution will be driven by innovation and ideas that will compete in the market for energy AND NOT BY ACTIVISM OF ANY COLOR and not by force of fake planetary crises.

      • If this stuff was as great as you claim, the market would be rushing to invest in it.
        The fact that only massive government subsidies can bring this about is just proof that it will never work.

        • Massive government subsidies have funded space exploration, nuclear technology, most of the biological discoveries and most other of science at the universities which are subsidized by the government.

          • Nuclear technology is no more economical than solar or wind were it not for governments shouldering the liability for its catastrophic failures (with money they don’t have), and, as you say, it probably would not be functioning at all without the huge capital investments governments have made and continue to make for military purposes. The waste storage problem has yet to be resolved, and that is also because governments just look the other way while the danger of catastrophy keeps growing. The news media is looking the other way too. Last I heard, Japan was saying it had to start dumping radioactive cooling water into the ocean for lack of storage space for the holding tanks. Who cares?

            I note that with all of the wonderful advancements in solar and wind generators cited, you fail to mention any such advances in the crucial area of storage.

    • I’ve never heard a leftist say that they want to avoid a homeless tent city. I live in Oakland and all I hear is how they want to fix the problem, but they don’t. They just move them around (on large salaries, of course), and the stupid “educated” elitists believe them. I’m embarrassed to admit that I know this because they’re my neighbors. I can’t stop them developing this mental condition, or help them with it. It’s the same with potholes in the streets (and freeways). Homeless people are just human potholes.

  10. Some sensible comments there, but how on earth did you conclude that wind and solar have lifted millions out of poverty> They have done no such thing – they have delayed the improvement of power supplies which by now would be helping those in developing countries to live the sort of lives we take for granted. The billions of dollars wasted on wind and solar would have been much better spent on other developments instead of lining the pockets of those with no conscience – Gore, Mann, etc.

  11. I like your article but your historical account left one important element out, water power, water power was used as a conduit for transportation before and during the IR, water was used to power machines long before electricity arrived, it was used extensively in remote extraction areas were it was not viable to import coal,it was used in the extraction industries long before the IR. And later during and the present to power electric generation via pelton wheels to full blown hydro schemes, ( I know you account for hydro power now and in the future) water power powered our saw mills , cotton mills,our mine pumps, our dressing plants, inclines, such was the bond between a wheel ,water and man.

    • Water power had multiple problems in most places there is no enough drop to make use of it. I know my great grand father owned a dam in Illinois that generated power from water, even in the early twenty century he saw the potential of electricity, he installed electrical power in the small town he lived in. Once the transport of electric over power transmission lines the small dams became obsolete. He sold out and moved to Minnesota. Water power is the reason New England dominated the manufacturing in the US for so long. Yet again coal base power made that obsolete. Water has a seasonal ebb and flow to make it not so you need great dams, there is a finite number of places such dams can exist. That why hydro is old and yet new. Most of the great dams were done in the middle of the twenty century in this country.

      • My point is water power in its historical sense was by large ignored by the author, you do need a drop or hydraulic gradient to power pelton wheels and turbines ,but to power a factory along side a river in a low lying area with a large breasted water wheel a drop was not needed the flow was enough to drive these wheels that drove vast pulley and belt systems that drove all the machines in a factory, sure they were eventually superceded by steam but that was not my point,every upland mining district in the UK relied upon water power to drive the narrow breasted wheels some times up to 70ft in dia, sure they were subject to frost and drought but were in continual use till the late 19th cent and some times beyond ,pre IR water power was used at the mine sites a thriving industry before the IR, the Roman’s used water power, hushing a ancient technique in mining was used as far back as the bronze age with the use of reservoirs ,where water power was not sufficient wind mills were used eg keeping the fens dry via pumps ,grinding corn,ectect, water power played a important part of powering the industrial revolution,

  12. “The industrial age, namely using coal, oil and gas to generate power instead of human and animal muscle, and wind and solar have lifted billions out of poverty”

    Yet some ancient gene inside us fears these monumental changes, always has, always will, in different forms and different guises.

    Pls see

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/10/14/racism/

  13. Two new discoveries should fairly quickly lead to solar electricity at around 1/3rd the current cost of electricity if the government backs them with a couple of billion and a program like the Manhattan Project to build an Atomic bomb.

    The average efficiency of a commercial solar panel is between 11 and 22 percent. One new device could boost that to 80 percent. That would make solar about one-third the cost of fossil fuels and the markets will switch to solar by themselves.

    A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency to 80%
    https://www.sciencealert.com/device-that-channels-heat-into-light-could-boost-solar-efficiency-to-80-percent

    There is another lead that may produce 95% efficiency from solar.
    Secrets of fluorescent microalgae could lead to super-efficient solar cells
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190509112258.htm

  14. Two new discoveries should fairly quickly lead to solar electricity at around 1/3rd the current cost of electricity if the government backs them with a couple of billion and a program like the Manhattan Project to build an Atomic bomb.

    That should get rid of Russia as a world power.

    The average efficiency of a commercial solar panel is between 11 and 22 percent. One new device could boost that to 80 percent. That would make solar about one-third the cost of fossil fuels and the markets will switch to solar by themselves.

    A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency to 80%
    https://www.sciencealert.com/device-that-channels-heat-into-light-could-boost-solar-efficiency-to-80-percent

    There is another lead that may produce 95% efficiency from solar. That would produce electricity at about a quarter of current energy costs.
    Secrets of fluorescent microalgae could lead to super-efficient solar cells
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190509112258.htm

      • One easy way to detect a scam is when the person feels the need to repeat the same message over and over and over again.
        No doubt, like Sid, this guy is going to be plaguing us for months with this nonsense.

    • “Infrared radiation is a component of sunlight that delivers heat to the planet, but it’s only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

      No it doesn’t and yes it is small.

      Sounds like a call for more funding to me.

  15. Deja vu all over again. I also wonder if you know which countries had the fastest market take-up of satellite and then cellular phones and the highest per capita adoption of personal (private domestic) solar and wind technologies? You can search this question on the internet and I am sure based on your implied assumptions, that you will be quite surprised.

    Your scenario is a requiem for nations with sluggish industrial bureaucracies and centralized governments, not the poor and dispossessed you think can’t take care of themselves. It’s all very white and western of you, really. Unindustrailized, non-militarized societies are not dependent upon OECD nations, they are victimized by their predation and theft of their resources.

  16. As they say, if fossil fuels didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. And that is exactly what will happen for the next 1000+ years after we run out of affordable fossil fuels. The power density in carbon based liquid or even carbon gaseous fuels is just too high to be replaced by some sort of battery for things like jet aircraft and ocean going shipping. Not to mention a 1001 other uses including the entire petrochemical industry for the 1001 products that we have come to rely on. It may happen with some distant future technology that hasn’t been invented yet that we will attain ultra dense power capacity in some form of battery/capacitor, but there are probably hard limits to this kind kind of power density subject to the laws of physics. And then we are carrying around a potential very explosive power source that will go boom, or catch fire.

    My bet would be that liquid carbon based fuels will be with us for centuries, and there will probably never be anything better coming down the pipe than electricity, other than better ways to use it and how we use it or transmit it. So figuring out and implementing Gen 4, 5, 6 nuclear is probably our only long term best hope, from which every long chain carbon molecule can be synthetically arranged in any fashion we wish which we already know how to do. The big question is at what price point of fossil fuel does it make sense to start synthetic fuels. Pure economics should dictate that and not some mythical CO2 ceiling that supposedly is the control knob for the weather, and hence long term climate. Let supply and demand (without carbon taxation) and the laws of economics address that, and let’s not cripple our economy based upon the junk science of CO2 sensitivity to climate. That is being shown to be junk science just based upon the fact there is little change to weather/climate within what we are familiar with regarding natural variation. We don’t even understand that yet, so assuming humans are responsible for all the warming is patently false. And some modest warming of a few degrees above the average of the LIA temps will be beneficial welcome insurance against the ravages of a colder climate that can do incredible damage with just one missed growing season. History is chock full of horror stories of climate change, and almost all of them are intense cooling events that disrupt agricultural output, and/or promote plague and disease which leads to warfare. The last 4000 years of history is full of examples of failed civilizations due to shifting climate and cooling temperatures causing drought, all natural for whatever cause. Warming periods, not so much.

    We have plenty of fossil fuels to utilize for many decades to come while we prepare for the new synthetic carbon and atomic economy. In the mean time, hardening a robust reliable and secure electricity grid should be our current priority since electricity is here to stay, as are carbon based fuels, whether fossil or future synthetic carbon based fuels. So…build those pipes, we are going to need them forever too.

  17. A well written “doom and gloom” for the future? I don’t accept the outcome nor the path. Only Russia’s future is painted with the need for fossil fuels. I don’t know why! We will have plenty of oil for the end of time. That’s all I know.

    Our future is certain: all of mankind. It will end in fire. Until then, eat, drink, and be merry.

    I do admonish all to “finish well”.

  18. “In the United States we use about 8 KW per capita.”

    What does that mean, 8KW per hour of every 24 hour day?
    Based on my electricity bill, I used somewhat over 3200KWH in the last 12 months (at close to $0.20 per KWH). That calculates to about 8.8KWH per day or 0.37KWH per hour when spread over the 24 hour period. This, of course, does not include gasoline, natural gas, being warmed or cooled, as the season dictates, in stores and public buildings, street lights, eating out, nor many other things that could be listed.

  19. The really important thought here is that a too early transition to renewables will result in wars that may well end with the deep greens having their wish fulfilled; an Earth with a few thousand scattered human inhabitants.

  20. Hmmm… you might want to compare US power usage with German… there’s a widespread high standard of living in Germany, yet Germans use less power/energy.

    Otherwise there is still a great mass of the world which is still waiting for fossil fuel to raise it out of poverty and give it electric light…

    • Griff
      Be careful of US – Germany comparisons of energy use. US dwellings are on average more than twice the size of those in Germany, where many more people live in flats compared to the US. In eastern Germany the standard flat during communist times only had 60-70 square meters. Many probably still live in such apartments. Of course they will take less energy to heat. But it’s not a like for like comparison of energy efficiency. Energy use should be normalised to meters squared of living space.

      • “In eastern Germany the standard flat during communist times only had 60-70 square meters.”
        How much?? You are kidding??
        Have you ever been to the ex-USSR???

        My flat was 29m3, & the one next door I bought was 35m3 (A big flat!).
        Knocking the 2 into 1 to make 60, gives me the largest flat in the town and one of the largest in the REGION!!! W-T-F!
        What planet are you living on?

    • The Germans believe that air conditioning is not for tough citizens. Hot weather kills a few of them during warm summers. The lack of air conditioning probably cuts their energy usage, it can be between 16-60% of electric bills.

  21. Back c. 1963, my PhD supervisor the late Professor Meredith Wooldridge Thring introduced the idea of ‘energy servants’ to highlight the contribution energy had made to the emancipation of human labour. He also preached ‘convergence and contraction’ to try and equalise this amongst developed and developing nations. This was long before anyone had thought of global warming, but was based on the idea that fossil fuels were finite and we should be more responsible about exploiting them.

  22. 20 times as many people die from it being too cold compared with it being too hot. We are in a long-term ice age that started 2.6 million years ago called the Quaternary Glaciation. We never hear the climate scientists and their followers mention those items.

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