[Ok-sus] Peak oil fact of the day and an OGE fact

Bob Waldrop bob at bobwaldrop.net
Mon Dec 2 20:40:08 UTC 2013


I think we don't know nearly as much as you think we know about what 
will be possible going forward.  I moderate 
runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com which has 7400+ members and has been 
discussing energy issues since 2001 and I have literally heard it all. I 
am on the ASPO-USA board of advisors with Charles Hall and I am familiar 
with his work.

I think energy systems are very complex and to state, as you do, that 
rail transport is not possible with renewable fuels has a serious 
teleological problem.  Just because you don't see a way that it can 
happen does not mean that it won't happen, or that it is impossible to 
happen.  There is, after all, biodiesel, a renewable form of fuel for 
diesel engines which could run locomotives just fine.

When it comes to energy, there are not a lot of pure goods out there.  I 
think of things like this as a continuum of -- baddest, badder, bad, 
good, gooder, and goodest.  Dependence on some rare earths, and the 
mining, transportation, and etc involved with that, is of orders of 
magnitude better than heating your home with coal.

In my own household's case, we have 90 tubes of caulk and 20 cans of 
foam in our walls, attic, and crawl space, 9 inches of insulation in our 
walls, 14 inches of insulation in our attic, R-20 insulated shutters for 
our windows, 120 sq ft of south facing glazing, a wood burning stove, 
and 2 small oil-filled electric heaters.  That's it for heating at our 
house. No central air, no central furnace, no natural gas service at 
all.  We will be quite comfortable here when the centralized energy 
systems collapse. Communications and the freezer would be our biggest 
concerns when that happens, but I also have a pressure canner, lots of 
canning jars and lids, so we could switch our food storage program from 
the freezer to the pantry shelves with some additional work and wood.

As to how this ramps up to a society wide effort, I don't know how that 
happens.  I don't think it is possible to make an  absolute claim like 
"it can't happen" unless we bring faith into the discussion.   I think 
the most likely scenario is that it happens in the context of a 
generalized collapse.  If the central energy grids go down, if we have 
effective local governance, we will get on a fast track to learn about 
the options for decentralized energy production and distribution. If OGE 
goes bankrupt, OKC municipal power will be born.   I foresee an 
interesting array of systems, the complexities and interactions of which 
are not calculable with our present level of knowledge by even the most 
clever engineers.  I don't think this is wishful thinking.

The collapse of global supply chains will bring local manufacturing into 
play.  We used to make all kinds of things at the local level. There's 
no reason to think that this would not happen again.  It might not be 
2010s technology, it might be 1930s technology, or even 1910 technology, 
but if it does the job, it will come into play.

Diesel powered construction equipment will run as well on biodiesel as 
it does on regular diesel most months out of the year anyway.

So in other words, I see the "it can't happen" statement as a faith 
based claim.

Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City
http://www.ipermie.net  Permaculture your urban lifestyle & protect yourself from the four horsemen of the modern apocalypse: peak oil, climate instability, economic irrationality, and political criminality

On 12/2/2013 1:02 PM, Crews, Andrew J. wrote:
> Bob Waldrop and friends,
>
>           I think your biases in framing fossil fuels in a moral context as evil and "renewables" such as concentrated wind and solar as righteously good are blinding you to the fundamentals going on in the world of energy.  This false dichotomy and binary thinking is blinding you to other practical energy options completely.
>
>          In systems thinking we look at the entire supply chain and energy inputs from the source till energy is irreversibly scattered in the form of diffuse heat.  Solar PV requires exotic earth metals (telluride, gallium, indium) and vast long haul freight transpiration networks to haul in all of the supplies.  Each diesel mining truck is using FF energy as it mines gallium ore ect and each 18 wheeler is using diesel as it brings parts and tools to the production facility.  There is embodied energy in the infrastructure of the concrete roads, trucks and bridges which themselves are maintained via FF energy.  As well as the initial creation of all these trucks and materials which themselves required independent supply chains using petroleum, coal and sometimes natural gas to function.
>     The point is if you remove fossil fuels from the equation you collapse this entire supply chain.  If we said Solar PV has an energy return of 10:1 (currently, just a made up number for example), as roads and bridges decay, long haul freight becomes untenable and global shipping from China to the US becomes insanity, This energy return will decrease less and less as the fossil fuel (ENERGY) subsidy to "renewables" disappears.
>
> 1.  No amount of wishful thinking will allow you to run long haul freight with batteries and solar panels.
> 2.  Railway infrastructure will be impossible to replace without coal or petroleum.
> 3.  collapse of Global trade networks will mean complex parts and machines will be unavailable.
> 4.  Construction equipment (think anything caterpillar) will not be running off of disperse forms of energy.
>
> In your head you may be tempted to invoke the religion of progress with things like:
>
> "they will come up with something" batteries, solar panels
> "technology advances every year on a trend upwards and forever"
> "But Star Trek?"
>   
> <b>Please do not use faith based statements in a sober rational discussion about energy</b>
>
> There are hard limits in engineering, physics, ecosystems and the amount of abuse the earth will tolerate.
>
> There are quite a few options left other than concentrated solar farms and 300 ft tall wind turbines with a central grid system
>
>   The excess of the industrial age left us with more salvageable materials (metals, glass and machines) than we could ever use on a daily solar energy allowance.  What is practical without concentrated energy using complex tools and global supply chains?
>
> <b>Most of the energy technologies of the future will not be converting mechanical and heat energy to electricity (very inefficient) but mechanical energy to mechanical energy (windmill) or heat energy to heat energy (solar water heater)</b>
>
> 1.  Off grid living (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWpSVNrt0LU)
> 2.  In a world without fossil fuel electricity will only be suited for a few uses, radio perhaps.
> 3.  Wind mills for water well pumps and grinding grains ect
> 4. Solar water heaters
> 5. Insulation and weatherization (very practical without a global supply chain
> 6. Human muscle (Oh god, I know no one wanted to hear that)
> 7. Animal muscle
> 8. Critical thinking component, Please help us come up with a better picture!
>
>
> Links:
>
> Charlie Halls and colleagues work on EROI
>
>              http://www.esf.edu/efb/hall/New_Studies_EROI_final4.pdf
>            
>
> A Great way to learn about EROI and biophysical economics.
>
>               http://netenergy.theoildrum.com
>
>              http://netenergy.theoildrum.com/node/4762
>
>
>
>
> Best Wishes,
> Andrew Crews
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________
> From: Ok-sus [ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] on behalf of Bob Waldrop [music at epiphanyokc.com]
> Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2013 2:18 PM
> To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
> Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] Peak oil fact of the day and an OGE fact
>
> All forms of energy lose energy as they are transformed, that's  a basic law of thermodynamics.  Sometimes we measure that energy loss as money, and thus it comes to pass that ALL forms of energy are subsidized.  There's some concern that as the energy returned on energy invested of fossil fuels is plummeting, that they will become no longer economic to mine/extract and burn as fuel. Indeed, some maintain that by the time all of the costs are accounted for, petroleum is not only a net energy loser, but also a net money loser.  The oil companies have never actually done business in a truly free market, so we have no idea of what the price of oil should be,all we know is the regulated/subsidized price.  The real price is likely much higher than we are paying at the pump.
>
>   So the choice is not to select a non-subsidized energy resource, because government at all levels is deeply embedded in the energy biz.  How much of our present society can function based on renewal resources is not known at the present time and I think it is likely unknowable at this stage of our knowledge of the subject. Personally, I'll take subsidize for wind and solar over oil and gas as being the best choice for people, planet, and the future.
>
> Bob Waldrop, OKC
> http://www.energyconservationinfo.org
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ok-sus [mailto:ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] On Behalf Of Crews, Andrew J.
> Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:49 AM
> To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
> Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] Peak oil fact of the day and an OGE fact
>
> " As the price of fossil fuel energy goes up, the price differential will decline"
>
> This statement is completely untrue.  If you want to know, take some time to research biophysical economics and the concept on net energy and Eroei. Concentrated wind power and solar power are not economical now and will never be without subsidies.
>
> Best wishes,
> Andrew Crews
>
>
>
> ________________________________________
> From: Ok-sus [ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] on behalf of Bob Waldrop [music at epiphanyokc.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 2:50 PM
> To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org; okc at sustainableokc.com; runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] Peak oil fact of the day and an OGE fact
>
> This is interesting, I wonder if any of the OGE people who subscribe here will have a response.  Natural gas versus coal is kind of a damned if you do and damned if you don�t.  Both are filthy dirty as everything, the natural gas destructive emissions are front loaded in the production system, which besides flaring a lot of gas also involves fracking these days and injection wells and lotsof big issues.  Meanwhile, coal is destroying mountain tops in the Appalachians and pristine lands in the west.
>
> We�ve abandoned natural gas and coal generated electricity at our house. We pay extra for wind, and are happy to do it.  As the price of fossil fuel energy goes up, the price differential will decline.
>
> Bob Waldrop, OKC
>
>
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