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Opposition to mining will prevent a green transition to renewables

Opposition to mining will prevent a green transition to renewables

Source: Bare (2012) Environmentalists win review of two more plants near Rosemont copper mine. Arizona Capitol times.

I could overwhelm you with world-wide trillions of tons of mining waste and how China has rendered 20% of its farmland too toxic to grow crops (BBC 2014), but let’s just zoom in on one mine in Arizona. In 2022, 13 years after the Rosemont Copper Mine near Tuscon, AZ was proposed in 2009, was finally shut down after strong opposition.

Yet clearly mines need to be built to make the transition to renewables ASAP.  If world peak oil was in 2018 (EIA 2022) time’s a wastin’.  Energy will get more expensive and scarcer as it declines. Mining will need increasing amounts of energy as ore quality continues to decline and remaining deposits further away and deeper, as well as the energy to crush ore, smelt metals out and fabricate them into parts. All of these steps require the high heat of fossil fuel energy, especially coal, for which there aren’t alternative electric or hydrogen processes and transportation.  The first generation will have to be made with fossil fuels, not the electricity from yet to be built solar, wind, and nuclear power plants.

Michaux (2022a, 2022b) has made some rough calculations of the electricity, hydrogen, and metals to make them in an energy transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 with wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, geothermal, and biowaste generation. It’s a work in progress, but the best estimate I’ve seen since he included not just the electric grid like most researchers (i.e. Jacobson 2011), but the electricity to replace the fossil energy used by transportation, manufacturing, and heating of buildings and homes.

Then he calculated the metals required to build these 586,000 average sized power stations in addition to the world’s 46,400 to generate the additional electricity and electrolysis of 200.1 million tonnes of hydrogen to power heavy duty transportation and manufacturing.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Government plans to reduce dependency on fossil fuels won’t work

Government plans to reduce dependency on fossil fuels won’t work

Preface. Yikes!  These government plans won’t help the energy crisis at all!  The only items I like are getting Yucca mountain ready to take nuclear waste – it’s my top priority of “what to do”. We need to sequester nuclear wastes while there is still energy so we don’t expose future generations for hundreds of thousands of years to radioactive materials.  It’s also a good idea to sequester CO2 by using it to do enhanced oil recovery.

But (A) electrify transportation?  I explain why that won’t work in When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”. Nor will (B) enhancing the nation’s electric system, because this book also explains why the electric grid can’t stay up after fossils are gone.  (C) Enhancing the biofuels system is the worst idea of all, covered at great length in of “Life After Fossil Fuels: A Reality Check of Alternative Energy”.

I think that a few items in section II. Increasing energy access: expanding domestic supply” are inevitable when the next oil crisis begins. But they won’t won’t work. Oil shale, methane hydrates, and coal to liquids are far from commercial and a negative energy return, as explained in my books.

My best explanation of why methane hydrates won’t be possible is in energyskeptic post “Why we aren’t mining methane hydrates now – or perhaps ever”.  The IPCC includes ridiculous amounts of methane hydrates to justify their worst climate scenarios. They desperately need geologists and energy experts on their committees to explain reserves versus resources, commercially proven, and energy return on invested before they build their 2021-2022 models.

Nor will the arctic and Alaskan oil / coal / natural gas be exploited because icebergs will knock out offshore drills and permafrost will buckle roads and topple drills, bridges, and buildings (see my arctic oil posts here).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Negative energy return of solar PV in Northern Europe

Negative energy return of solar PV in Northern Europe

Preface.  I once yanked this paper after huge blow back, but in the past few years, I have no reason to doubt Ferroni and Hopkirks methods, boundaries, or conclusions, so I’m putting this post back.

An ERoEI of less than 1 means there is a net energy loss. In this paper Ferroni and Hopkirk found the EROEI of Solar PV to be negative, just .82 (+/-) 15%) in countries north of the Swiss Alps.

The problem with EROEI is that there is endless arguing over the boundaries.  For example, Prieto and Hall’s 2013 book, “Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution-The Energy Return on Investment” had energy data for over 20 activities outside the production process of the modules, typically NOT included in EROEI studies. But these steps are necessary, or the solar PV installation won’t happen, and Pablo Prieto built several large installations and was in charge of the finances, so he knew everything required — the road built to access the site, the new transmission lines, the security fence and system and more that EROI studies typically don’t include.

This paper goes beyond Prieto and Hall’s boundaries because it includes labor, the costs of the energy required to integrate and buffer intermittent PV-electricity in the grid (i.e. storage via pumped hydro, batteries, natural gas or coal backup plants), and the energy embodied in faulty equipment.  If Prieto & Hall had included these then their paper would have found a negative EROI, as Prieto wrote here. Though Prieto and Hall’s EROI of 2.6 : 1 in sunny Spain is still far less than the EROI of 10 to 14 many scientists believe necessary to maintain our current civilization.

Another important finding of this paper is that based on recycling rates of PV in Germany, solar panel lifespan is closer to 17 or 18 years than 25.  And that doesn’t count the solar panels that are abandoned or tossed in the trash…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Trucks Stop Running, So Does Civilization. Energy and the Future of Transportation.

when_trucks_stop_running_book_coverWhen Trucks Stop Running, So Does Civilization. Energy and the Future of Transportation.

Also see: When Trucks Stop Running: Table of Contents, Preface, References

Virtually everything in our homes, everything in our stores, got there on a truck. Prior to that, 90 percent of those items were transported on a ship and/or a train. If trucks, trains, and ships stopped running, our global economy and way of life would stop too.

The impact of peak oil on commercial transportation has been of great interest to me after a 22-year career at American President Lines, where I developed computer systems to keep cargo seamlessly moving around the globe and just-in-time between ships, rail, trucks, and customers.

So I was thrilled when Charles Hall invited me to write a book on energy and transportation for his Springer Energy series, a book that has just been published: When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation.

Ships, trucks, and trains are the backbone of civilization, hauling the goods that fulfill our every need and desire. Their powerful, highly-efficient diesel combustion engines are exquisitely fine-tuned to burn petroleum-based diesel fuel. These engines and the fuels that fire them have been among the most transformative yet disruptive technologies on the planet. This is a dependency we take for granted.

Since oil reserves are finite, one day supplies will be diminished to where the cost of moving freight and goods with our present oil-fueled fleet will not pencil out. We have an oil glut in 2016 and a corresponding lack of urgency. Yet, inevitably the day will come when oil supplies decline. What will we do? What are our options? That is the sobering reality my book explores.

Consider just how dependent we are on abundant and affordable oil, which fuels commercial transportation: Grocery stores, service stations, hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, construction sites, manufacturers, and many other businesses receive several deliveries a day.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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