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Stable Electricity: A Long Slow Goodbye

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Electricity shortages are  for the UK and Europe, and then later for the rest of the overdeveloped world as well. Blackouts will become common, and you will get power only for a couple of hours a day — just like in countries with a less favorable economic position. Most likely not this summer though, maybe not next year. Perhaps not even the year after. Losing a stable electric grid is a slow grind and will go in tandem with the long decline of fossil fuels.

Although most people, who got used to receiving a stable supply of power from the magic wall socket, don’t realize this as an immediate danger, the stability of the grid depends on the availability of fossil fuel (mainly natural gas) power plants ready to fill in the gaps during peak consumption hours. Contrary to the magical thinking pouring in on all channels, we are lacking the infrastructure to switch to a grid powered by ‘renewable’ electricity alone. As  has pointed out:

The U.S. consumes about 4000 terawatt-hours of electricity every year, or 563 times the existing battery storage capacity…

An entire year of battery production from the multi-billion Gigafactory could only store a mere three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electric demand…

Storing only 24 hours’ worth of U.S. electricity generation in lithium batteries would thus cost $11.9 trillion, take up 345 square miles and weigh 74 million tonnes

…and would take 10 years for 48 Nevada sized Gigafactories to produce the battery cells… For storing one, single day worth of electricity. One day, not months needed to cover the supply and demand gap in the winter. All this would come at an enormous ecological as well as resource cost (lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper and their resulting toxic waste streams). Not to mention the fact that we simply neither have these resources at hand nor the mining capacity to get them (if would find them).

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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