On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 5:51 PM, Chris de Morsella
<cdemorse...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
> [mailto:everything-list@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Telmo Menezes
> Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 1:07 AM
> To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
> Subject: Re: Our Demon-Haunted World
>
> On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 12:49 AM, LizR <lizj...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 13 November 2013 10:55, <spudboy...@aol.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> if you want us to give up the bad, dirty, power, then please provide
>>> a clean, affordable, abundant substitute. Faster, please.
>>
>>
>> The Sun, of course. Produces millions of times more power than we need.
>>
>> Trouble is the fossil fuel industry doesn't want us to use it. Given
>> the sort of effort ut into that that has been put into the "space
>> race" or warfare we'd have this sorted by next week.
>
> I have no doubt that the fossil fuel industry will try to prevent this. I
> also agree that the effort put into wars is a horrible misuse of human
> potential and that great things could be achieved instead.
>
> Regarding solar power -- this could be the solution but it's sci-fi at the
> moment. It's intuitive to look at solar panels and imagine fossil fuels
> being replaced by this. It's less intuitive to visualise the scale of the
> problem and the limitations of current technology. We have a world
> population of about 7 billion now. It has doubled since I was born, in 1976.
> It continues to grow at more than 1% a year and this is an important part of
> the equation. Ultimately, the world's energy budget is mostly spent on
> providing basic necessities to all of these people. Food, heating, health
> care, schools and so on. I'm not arguing that the resources are correctly
> distributed, but I am arguing that this is what we mostly use the energy
> for. A lot of energy. The large chunk of it currently comes from oil, coal
> and natural gas.
>
> So the problems, according to my limited knowledge: current solar panels are
> based on silicon, which is a scarce resource. The amount of silicon
> available might not be enough for the total solar panel surface area that we
> would need to remove our dependency on fossil fuels. In fact, some people
> are suggesting that we already reached peak silicon.
>
> Another other issue is energy efficiency. Mining the raw materials and then
> transforming them into solar panels takes a certain energy budget. Then
> these panels last for some years. Then you have to build new ones. The more
> you remove fossil fuel from the equation, the more you have to rely on the
> solar panels energy to pay for the energy budget of the next generation.
> Notice that you also have to store a lot of energy because of seasonal
> effects, day an night and so on.
> This takes some sort of capacitor with its own energy budget. I don't think
> it's clear that all this could become self-sustainable with our current
> technology. Remember that we still have to provide for the 7 billion humans
> while paying these energy investments -- and I mean paying in terms of
> energy, doesn't matter if we're under cut-throat capitalism or a socialist
> utopia, this economic fact remains.
>
> In fact, defeating our dependency on fossil fuels and curbing our CO2
> emissions are antagonistic goals. To bootstrap the great solar panel farm we
> need a lot of energy upfront. The faster you want to do it, the more of this
> energy has to come from fossil fuels. Then you have two options: increase
> CO2 emissions or use energy that you would normally use to keep the 7
> billion people alive. The faster you do it and the more you rely on the
> second option, the more human suffering you will cause. We're mot talking
> about trivial inconveniences either, we're talking about millions and
> millions dying from starvation, cold and disease. It is tempting to assume
> that we can go back to a simpler lifestyle and make do with less, but this
> regards that the current carrying capacity was made possible by the energy
> budget provided by fossil fuels. Before the energy revolution there were
> orders of magnitude less human beings on earth, and the complexity of human
> society was much lower. Organising 7 billion people to live somewhat
> peacefully on a small planet is no trivial matter. You cannot disregard
> economic and social effects. We are not talking about some tribe here. A bit
> of politics, sorry -- part of the reason I am for less government is that I
> think that this level of complexity vastly outgrown human intelligence.
> Nobody can manage this, it has to be self-organising to a large degree. And
> it is. Where there is more central control, there is also more human
> suffering, case in point:
> China. They had to resort to enforcing a child birth budget to manage both
> the energy budget and the complexity.
>
>>>The same principles apply to wind power and all other renewable source we
> know of. They have horrible efficiency compared to fossil -- efficiency as
> in energy investments required vs. total yield. A technology breakthrough
> could change things, but then we're relying on something that might not even
> be possible.

Hi Chris,

> Well said, and I agree with everything you said except that the EROI of
> renewables being horrible compared with fossil energy. This was certainly
> the case in the era of easy oil (and coal and gas) but the fossil energy
> landscape has also changed a lot and the oil (and oil like tars in shale and
> tar sands) and the increasingly marginal seams of coal can only be extracted
> at ever increasing costs, in terms of capital and energy costs. I have seen
> EROI estimates for say deep sea oil platforms -- like the kind of the BP
> Deep Water Horizon disaster -- that are around 8:1. Still a good enough
> return to support technological civilation but nothing to write home about

I completely agree.

Telmo.

> Chris
>
>
> Here's an interesting report that analyses both energy budget issues and
> complexity:
> http://www.feasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Tipping-Point-Nov.pdf
>
> Telmo.
>
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