Exergy and Power Plants

By Andy May Key question: Can renewables ever replace fossil fuels and nuclear? Understanding the value of renewables, vis-à-vis fossil fuels and nuclear power, requires that we consider that all energy is not equal in value. In fact, the quantity we call energy can be misleading and many experts prefer the quantity called “exergy,” which…

Renewable Energy, what is the cost?

By Andy May A key question to think about, do renewable fuels decrease fossil fuel use, or do they increase it? What are the costs of using renewable energy? The sun and wind are free, does that make wind and solar power free? Biofuels require power to plant crops, make fertilizer and spread it, harvest…

The timing of interglacials

By Andy May P. C. Tzedakis and co-authors have just published a new paper in the February 23, 2017 issue of Nature entitled “A simple rule to determine which insolation cycles lead to interglacials.” The paper introduces new rules for defining interglacial periods in the geological record. They come up with the same interglacial periods that Javier…

Risk and Nuclear Power Plants

By Andy May The financial risk is too great. Updated post (2/21/2017) In any discussion of the future of energy, nuclear power generation is brought up. Once a nuclear power plant is built and operating, it can produce cheap electricity reliably for decades. Further, in terms of human health, some claim it is the safest…

Oil – Will we run out?

By Andy May “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future” (old Danish proverb, sometimes attributed to Niels Bohr or Yogi Berra) In November, 2016 the USGS (United States Geological Survey) reported their assessment of the recent discovery of 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (technically recoverable) in the Midland Basin of West Texas. About…

Energy and Society from now until 2040

By Andy May ExxonMobil released its 2017 Outlook for Energy, A View to 2040 in mid-December. David Middleton has written that the report reveals wind and solar will supply a whopping 4% of global energy by 2040! He also reports that wind and solar capacity will grow, but we will only be able to utilize…

At the length truth will out

By Andy May Some will recognize the title as part of a line by Launcelot Gobbo in Act II, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In plainer and much less poetic language it means that the truth will be known eventually. The film version, with Al Pacino playing Shylock, is the best in…