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March 30, 2008

The big energy picture


This is how much energy the United States was using from 2002 to 2006. Notice that solar is 0.1%. Nuclear increase from 2002 to 2006 was equal to the total amount of all solar power. (even though that was just operating efficiency and some small nuclear uprates).

Oil and fossil fuel usage was increasing. Petroleum (oil) was the primary source. 21 million barrels per day or about 7.4 billion barrels per year.

Oil usage in the united states is described here


Twenty times as much solar power as there was in 2006 would be 1.2 quads. It would be nice but 5% of the coal usage. Increasing wind by ten times 2006 would be 2.6 quads. Combined it would be equal to about what one would expect to be the business as usual increase in energy consumption. All of the old coal and oil would stay in place.

The California million roof plan is subsidies of $2.9 billion and the hope is to get 3GW of solar power installed by 2018. These kind of programs are not good energy investments because the same investment could buy more nuclear power, wind power or pay for the research for more efficient and effective solar or other energy. A Berkeley study shows that solar installations do not pay back their investment.

Biomass has a more significant share.

France was able to achieve over 30% energy from nuclear (80% of electricity) [4.4 quads out of 11.4 quads).

Brazil has been able to get more of its cars running on biofuels from sugarcane.


Energy Plan
Any reasonable energy plan has to look at still obtaining and using oil for the next ten to twenty years. This means enhanced oil recovery and new oil sources (such as the Bakken Formation) and new natural gas sources.

Even drilling oil from profitable reserves takes time. US drilling activity in 2007

Making our homes and houses more energy efficient. Heating, insulation and appliances need to be addressed more aggressively.

New technology for uprating nuclear power plants can add 50% more power to existing reactors within 10 years. Regular nuclear power uprates will be adding 4% to nuclear reactor in France and 2% to US reactors over the next 6 years. New nuclear plants are being constructed and could add 150-250 GW worldwide by 2020.

I had a prior post on short, mid and long term energy strategy.

Short term: conservation and drilling for more oil, enhancing oil recovery, uprate nuclear power, develop and deploy more efficient thermoelectric processes and technology, ecomod existing the fraction of the 800 million existing cars and trucks with a lot of highway travel (make them more aerodynamic with a focus on those that drive on the highway the most.), increase industrial and home efficiency. Adopt policies that shift energy away from coal and oil.

Mid-term (2012-2020) signficant nuclear power and efficiency technology could be brought into play. The privately funded nuclear "battery" (Hyperion Uranium hydride reactor) could be developed and placed into fairly high production (50 per year would be equal to one large nuclear plant

Kitegen is an interesting wind power technology which has interesting potential.

By 2015 Iris reactor and/or the Modular Helium Reactor could provide greater fuel and energy effiency and lower costs.

Nuclear fusion could start making a significant difference to the energy picture in the 2015-2020 timeframe if the IEC fusion, colliding beam fusion or some of the other private projects pan out.

UPDATE:
Oil prices fell March 31, 2008 to about $100/barrel.

Refineries operated at 82.2 percent of capacity in the week ended March 21, the lowest since October 2005, the department said last week. Total implied US fuel demand averaged 20.3 million barrels a day in the four weeks ended March 21, down 2.2 percent [440,000 barrels per day, 0.8 quads which is more than the power from wind and solar from some demand destruction caused by higher prices] from a year earlier, the Energy Department said last week. Fighting between government forces and militiamen in Iraq eased after a truce offer from Moqtada al-Sadr. Iraq has the world's third biggest oil reserves, according to BP Plc.


Electric cars using a cellphone like billing service model could be dominant in countries like Isreal and Denmark within ten years. Smaller countries, islands (Hawaii, Singapore, some Japanese islands) and city regions with smaller service areas and higher gasoline prices and car taxes are most suitable for the new model.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The free market will take care of the energy problem on its own. When oil becomes too expensive, clever, profit-driven entrepreneurs will come up with something else. The worst thing to do is for the federal government to get involved. They've got a long and consistent history of seriously screwing things like this up.

Currently, the only "green" power source that is even remotely cost effective, is wind. But if you look at the wind turbine manufacturers (and their suppliers) order backlog, you'll find that their production is sold out for the next 4 to 6 years. They can't build the things fast enough. See how the free market works?

Andre Angelantoni said...

The free market is a wonderful thing for what it's good for.

One of the things it's not good for is planning for something like peak oil. By the time the market gets the price signal, there isn't enough time for the free market to react and move our entire infrastructure off of oil.