Home » Posts tagged 'fossil fuels' (Page 2)

Tag Archives: fossil fuels

Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Post Archives by Category

Sunshine Might Be Free But Solar Power is Not Cheap

Sunshine Might Be Free But Solar Power is Not Cheap

Mississippi residents are consistently told that renewable energy sources, like solar panels, are now the lowest-cost ways to generate electricity, but these claims are based on creative accounting gimmicks that only examine a small portion of the expenses incurred to integrate solar onto the grid while excluding many others.

When these hidden expenses are accounted for, it becomes obvious that solar is much more expensive than Mississippi’s existing coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants and that adding more solar will increase electricity prices for the families and businesses that rely upon it. One of the most common ways of estimating the cost of generating electricity from different types of power plants is a metric called the Levelized Cost of Energy, or LCOE.

The LCOE is an estimate of the long-term average cost of producing electricity from a power plant. These values are estimated by taking the costs of the plant, such as the money needed to build and operate it, fuel costs, and the cost to borrow money, and dividing them by the amount of electricity generated by the plant (generally megawatt hours) over its useful lifetime.

In other words, LCOE estimates are essentially like calculating the cost of your car on a per-mile-driven basis after accounting for expenses like initial capital investment, loan and insurance payments, fuel costs, and maintenance.

We can estimate the LCOE of new solar facilities in Mississippi by using overnight capital cost estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Electricity Market Module and other state-specific factors. We can then compare the cost of solar to the real-world cost data for the coal and natural gas generators at the Victor J. Daniel Jr. Generating Plant, and the Grand Gulf nuclear power plant using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Form 1 database.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

These Are North America’s Biggest Sources Of Electricity By State And Province

These Are North America’s Biggest Sources Of Electricity By State And Province

On a national scale, the United States and Canada rely on a very different makeup of sources to generate their electricity.

The U.S. primarily uses natural gas, coal, and nuclear power, while Canada relies on both hydro and nuclear. That said, when zooming in on the province or state level, individual primary electricity sources can differ greatly.

In the infographic below, Visual Capitalist’s Selin Oğuz takes a look at the electricity generation in the states and provinces of these two countries using data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (2021) and the Canada Energy Regulator (2019).

Natural Gas

Natural gas is widely used for electricity generation in the United States. Known as a “cleaner” fossil fuel, its abundance, coupled with an established national distribution network and relatively low cost, makes it the leading electricity source in the country.

In 2021, 38% of the 4120 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity generated in the U.S. came from natural gas. Not surprisingly, more than 40% of American states have natural gas as their biggest electricity source.

Here are some states that have the largest shares of natural gas-sourced electricity.

In Canada, natural gas is only the third-biggest electricity source (behind hydro and nuclear), accounting for 11% of the 632 TWh of electricity produced in 2019. Alberta is the only province with natural gas as its main source of electricity.


Nuclear power is a carbon-free energy source that makes up a considerable share of the energy generated in both the U.S. and Canada.

19% of America’s and 15% of Canada’s electricity comes from nuclear power. While the percentages are close to one another, it’s good to note that the United States generates 6 to 7 times more electricity than Canada each year, yielding a lot more nuclear power than Canada in terms of gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Europe Is Being Deindustrialized With a Purpose

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

he sun is shining, birds are singing and natural gas demand destruction goes on unabated in the EU. One might ask here: why have TTF gas prices fallen below 70 Eur/MWh (1) actually to even lower levels than in Asia? Mainstream media tries to spin the story that this is largely due to mild weather, energy saving and a rise in US LNG deliveries — and this is where thinking usually stops. According to Irina Slav writing for oilprice.com though:

The first red flags appeared last year: much of the gas consumption decline in Germany that was praised by politicians actually came from demand destruction among industrial users because of prohibitive prices. In other words, gas demand in much of Europe last year fell because it was destroyed and not so much because everyone suddenly became conscientious with their gas use. But demand destruction is not good for the economy. It means shutdowns of factories and layoffs.

In other words: Europe is deindustrializing as expected, and simply shed 20% of it’s gas consumption as a result. Mission accomplished.

Low demand begets low prices. Should the price of Natural Gas fall further still though, it would quickly deter LNG ships to pursue more lucrative business opportunities — i.e.: deliver their gas to Asia instead, where they can sell it for a higher price. That would (will?) leave the EU with even less gas supply. Norwegians alone will surly not able to fill in the gap, especially so that their ‘production’ is actually on a high plateau and about to peak soon (then decline).

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Renewables Are Slowly Approaching Diminishing Returns

Photo by Ryan Grice on Unsplash

Once a source of hope for maintaining our modern lifestyle, renewables are close to hit diminishing returns (i.e.: providing less and less benefit to society with every addition of a new solar panel or wind turbine). For the record: fossil fuels have long passed the same point, where drilling another well or opening a new mine eats up exponentially more resources and energy than the previous one — not to mention kicking CO2 levels even higher. The question is: can we continue high tech civilization now based on renewables, or are we about to hit the same limitations as with every other technology we have used in the past?

Providing data to substantiate claims of hitting diminishing returns is not easy. It goes well beyond “simple” return on investment calculations — it takes a holistic approach, a real cradle to grave assessment if you like. So far I haven’t came across such study (Simon Michaux’s work comes closest), so if you are an independent researcher or student looking for a PhD topic, feel free to elaborate on the subject— just please let me know what you have found.

Until then — as usual — treat the following as thought experiment, and see if it makes sense to you. As always, use your critical thinking skills and don’t take anything I (let alone uneducated people in the mainstream media) say at face value. With that aside let’s see what may be the ominous signs of society hitting diminishing returns when it comes to deploying ‘renewables’ at scale.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Energy requirements and carbon emissions for a low-carbon energy transition

Energy requirements and carbon emissions for a low-carbon energy transition


Achieving the Paris Agreement will require massive deployment of low-carbon energy. However, constructing, operating, and maintaining a low-carbon energy system will itself require energy, with much of it derived from fossil fuels. This raises the concern that the transition may consume much of the energy available to society, and be a source of considerable emissions. Here we calculate the energy requirements and emissions associated with the global energy system in fourteen mitigation pathways compatible with 1.5 °C of warming. We find that the initial push for a transition is likely to cause a 10–34% decline in net energy available to society. Moreover, we find that the carbon emissions associated with the transition to a low-carbon energy system are substantial, ranging from 70 to 395 GtCO2 (with a cross-scenario average of 195 GtCO2). The share of carbon emissions for the energy system will increase from 10% today to 27% in 2050, and in some cases may take up all remaining emissions available to society under 1.5 °C pathways.


The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C concludes that we can still meet the 1.5 °C target and that by doing so, we would reduce climate impacts and limit the risk of exceeding the tipping points of the climate system1. The report provides a range of low-carbon energy pathways compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. However, at present, there is no estimate of how much energy would be needed to build and maintain a low-carbon energy system, or what amount of greenhouse gas emissions would be associated with such a transition2,3,4. This is an important gap in knowledge, as previous research suggests that rapid growth of low-carbon infrastructure could use a substantial amount of the global energy supply5,6. Moreover, since the global energy supply is currently derived mostly from fossil fuels, the transition itself may become a source of significant emissions7,8.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

2022 — A Year-End Contemplation

Another year has passed (almost), yet the world didn’t collapse. We have got close to nuclear annihilation — probably closer than we’ve ever had — yet we are still here. The long decline of our High-Tech civilization in general, and the Western empire in particular works on different timescales than mere years though. The fall of a civilization does produce some serious humps on the road (some admittedly brutal and terrible), but for most people living through it, it is rather like a long trendline pointing downwards throughout many decades. Let’s review why we always end up in this process, and how it might continue to unfold in our case.

In order to have a better understanding what we are facing in the new year, we have to pull out our ultra-wide angle lens and see how 2022 fits into the large scheme of things. True, we are living through remarkable times, one of great flux and high unpredictability. This time though, it is quite a bit different from previous cases of decline and fall. We are at a turning point in human civilization, one which could only be understood from a truly historic and systems perspective.

Our modern, planetary civilization is complex system with innumerable positive as well as negative feedback loops. There are a multitude of factors, processes and groups of influential people competing with one another, producing a dynamic equilibrium. In a relatively stable world with abundant resources such systems of human beings produce remarkable results, growth and prosperity. Factors, serving as a basis for this growth and which we have took for granted, however, have started to shift under the immense pressure of our industrial activities. The climate has kept deteriorating from its ten millennia long mean in an accelerating way. Resources, we thought were inexhaustible have started to become ever harder to get. Sand. Fresh water. Fossil fuels. Metal ores. All of them.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Simple Story of Civilization

The Simple Story of Civilization

The stories we fashion about ourselves are heavily influenced by our short life spans during an age of unprecedented complexity. We humans, it would seem, are unfathomably complicated creatures who defy simple “just-so” characterizations. Animals, or humans tens of thousands of years ago are fair game for simple stories, but not so for transcendent modern humans.

Two major problems I have with this attitude are that 1) we are animals, and 2) we have exactly the same hardware (albeit with slightly smaller brains) as we had 100,000 years ago.

So allow me to pull back from our present age of baffling complexity to outline a simple story covering the broad sweep of the human saga. The result may be a little startling, and, for a number of readers, sure to be rejected by cultural antibodies as “not applicable” (see also my views of our civilization as a cult).

Story Timeline

In order to make comprehensible the vast tract of human time on this planet—itself 5,000 times shorter than the age of the universe—I will compare the 2.5–3 million year presence of humans (genus Homo) on Earth to a 75 year human lifespan: a span that we can grasp intuitively. On this scale, we get the following analogous periods:

  1. First 70 years: various species of humans evolve and coexist (sustainably) on the planet;
  2. Last 5 years: the age of Homo Sapiens (about 200,000 yr; mostly sustainably);
  3. Last 15 weeks: the age of civilization (agriculture; then cities) (10,000 yr);
  4. Last 4 days: the age of science (400 yr);
  5. Last 36 hours: the age of fossil fuels (150 yr of increasingly significant use);
  6. Last 12 hours: the age of rapid global ecological devastation (50 yr).

On this lifetime scale, agriculture is a recent, unexpected hobby we picked up, and one that is still pretty new to us in the scheme of things…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The economy is moving from a tailwind pushing it along to a headwind holding it back

The economy is moving from a tailwind pushing it along to a headwind holding it back

The problem is hitting limits in the extraction of fossil fuels

We know that historically, many economies around the world have collapsed. We also know that there is a physics reason why this happens. Growing economies require a growing supply of energy to keep up with a growing population. At some point, the energy supply and other resource needs cannot grow rapidly enough to keep up with population growth. When this happens, economies tend to collapse.

In their book Secular Cycles, researchers Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov found that economies tend go through four distinct phases in each cycle, with each stage lasting for quite a few years:

  1. Growth
  2. Stagflation
  3. Crisis
  4. Inter-cycle

Based on my own analysis, the world economy was in the Growth Stage for much of the time between the Industrial Revolution and 1973. In late 1973, oil prices spiked, and the world was put on notice that the energy supply could not continue rising as rapidly as in the past. Between 1973 and 2018, the world economy was in the Stagflation Stage. Based on current data, the world economy seems to have entered the Crisis Stage about 2018. This is the reason for saying that headwinds are beginning to hold the economy back in the title of this article .

When the Crisis Stage occurs, there are fewer goods and services per capita to go around, so some participants in the world economy must come out behind. Conflict of all kinds becomes more likely. Political leaders, if they happen to discover the predicament the world economy is in, have little interest in making the predicament known to voters, since doing so would likely lead them to lose the next election.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Finite Feeding Frenzy

Finite Feeding Frenzy

Image by ariesjay castillo from Pixabay

You may be aware that our food industry is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, to the point that it takes about 10 kcal of energy input to deliver 1 kcal of consumed food. The enormous energy multiplier is due to extensively mechanized plowing, harvesting, processing, and delivery of food; fossil-fueled fertilization (via methane feedstock); refrigeration and preparation; then of course food waste. In olden times, when all agricultural energy came from muscle power that needed to be fed, the system would collapse (i.e., starve and fail) if energy inputs exceeded energy ingested.

Some have phrased our current practice as “eating fossil fuels,” and in fact a 2006 book by Dale Allen Pfeiffer had this title. So what? More power to us—literally.

The problem, people, is that fossil fuels are finite. We have already consumed a fair fraction (roughly half?) of the accessible allotment. And before concluding that we therefore have a century or so before needing to worry about the consequences, realize that the inflection point happens around the halfway mark, wherein decreasing ease of access tends to result in ever-decreasing output rates in the second-half of the resource. We see this behavior in individual oil fields and in regional (country-scale) aggregations. The low-hanging fruit is taken first, sensibly, so that what’s left is more stubborn.

Because human population has been substantially boosted by fossil fuel input, we have put ourselves into a vulnerable position. What happens when fossil fuels begin to give out on us?

It’s been a while since I did any, you know, math for this blog, as I seem to be living my own worst nightmare and turning into an armchair philosopher (oh the shame). In this post, I return to something closer to math..

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Why Economic Models Neglect Energy, and Why That’s a Problem 

BP weighs ending its 70-year-old Statistical Review of World Energy

BP weighs ending its 70-year-old Statistical Review of World Energy

An illuminated BP logo is seen at a petrol station in Gateshead, Britain, September 23, 2021
An illuminated BP logo is seen at a petrol station in Gateshead, Britain, September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Lee Smith/File Photo

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) – BP (BP.L) is considering ending the publication of its Statistical Review of World Energy, over 70 years after it first published the benchmark report, as the energy major focuses on its shift to renewables, the company told Reuters.

The Statistical Review has been a go-to resource for the wider energy sector since it was first published in April 1952, providing detailed data on global oil, gas and coal production and consumption.

However the report has been seen by some BP executives as detrimental to the company’s new direction, sources told Reuters.

A BP spokesperson confirmed the company has launched an internal review of the report.

“We’re looking at options for publishing the annual Statistical Review of World Energy, but as yet we’ve taken no decision,” the company said.

“The world of energy is changing fast and becoming ever more complex, and our energy and economics team are focused on understanding different elements of the energy transition and their implications for BP.”

The company added that “the Review is a valuable source of objective and comprehensive data, and ensuring this continues is an important consideration.”

Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney has radically shifted BP’s focus since taking office in 2020, aiming to sharply reduce oil and gas production while rapidly building a renewables business in order to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The company has in recent years also cut its ties with several oil and gas associations and has sought to raise its profile as a clean energy provider.

“Put simply, it (Statistical Review) is bad PR,” one company source said.

The report is compiled by BP staff and in recent years with the help of the Edinburgh, Scotland-based Heriot-Watt University.

BP Statistical Review
BP Statistical Review

Science Snippets: Peak Fossil Fuels

Science Snippets: Peak Fossil Fuels


Latest peer-reviewed journal article appears in the prestigious Elsevier series of journals:

McPherson, Guy R., Beril Sirmack, and Ricardo Vinuesa. March 2022. Environmental thresholds for mass-extinction eventsResults in Engineering (2022), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rineng.2022.100342.

Full text:

When the head of the conservative International Energy Agency admits we are in the midst of the “first truly global energy crisis,” then you know we’re in serious trouble. According to the chief of the International Energy Agency—the IEA—that’s the current situation. The story was published by Reuters on 25 October 2022.

Let’s turn back the clock a bit. According to the IEA, the extraction of conventional oil for the world peaked in 2006. Conventional oil refers to crude plus condensate, and it’s the relatively easy oil to extract and refine. The tough stuff comes next, which is why we have been rabidly pursuing shale and other petrochemicals that have a low energy return on investment, often called EROI. It comes as no surprise that 16 years after the conservative IEA concluded we had passed the peak of crude-plus-condensate, the most important element in the history of industrial civilization, we have similarly, and in a much worse state, passed the peak of all oil. All, as in the whole shebang.

According to the headline of a story published on January 15th, 2021 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Fossil fuel production expected to increase through 2022 but remain below 2019 peak.” Of course, the US EIA is referring to extraction, not production. It’s not as if humans are producing oil. Oil is not ice cream, after all. Even though we do not produce oil, we’re doing a great job sucking it out of the bowels of the planet and turning it into gasoline, diesel, and other energy-rich materials that make our lives easier..

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Peter Zeihan: You’re Being Instructed Not to Notice This!!!

Peter Zeihan: You’re Being Instructed Not to Notice This!!!

Canadian Banks Slammed For Continued Fossil Fuel Investments

Canadian Banks Slammed For Continued Fossil Fuel Investments

  • Canadian banks are receiving backlash from investors for their continued investments in fossil fuels.
  • All Canadian banks were revealed to have increased their exposure to fossil fuels between 2020 and 2021, by between 25 percent—TD and BMO—and 132 percent for CIBC.
  • The report is the latest example of investor pressure on financial institutions to reduce their lending to fossil fuel companies.

An investor group has criticized Canadian lenders for investing heavily in fossil fuels despite the Paris Agreement, noting that all of the largest Canadian banks still need to be ready for net zero.

In a report titled Net Zero Policy Report Card, Investors for Paris Compliance graded Canada’s largest banks on several indicators, including fossil fuel investments, climate targets, and emissions reporting.

In fossil fuel investments, all banks were revealed to have increased their exposure between 2020 and 2021, by between 25 percent—TD and BMO—and 132 percent for CIBC.

According to the report, RBC invested $48.5 billion in fossil fuels last year, up 101 percent on 2020, and Scotiabank increased its exposure to the sector by 87 percent to $38 billion.

TD’s fossil fuel investments rose to $26.4 billion, and BMO’s went up to$23.5 billion. CIBC invested $27.8 billion in fossil fuels in 2021, Investors for Paris Compliance said, noting that the sixth bank under review, National Bank, had no data published on its fossil fuel industry exposure.

The report is the latest example of investor pressure on financial institutions to reduce their lending to the fossil fuel sector and focus on emission reporting and reducing measures in line with international Paris Agreement commitments.

This, however, stands in stark contrast with warnings, including from the IEA, that not enough is being invested in the new supply of fossil fuels, including coal, which this year saw a real renaissance.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Spotlight: The Diesel Fuel Crunch




While gasoline prices have risen 14 percent so far this year, diesel’s price has shot up by 50 percent to a record $5.35 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association.

As of 17 November, the U.S. average price of diesel was $1.61 more than that of gasoline; a year earlier, the difference was 23 cents, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Diesel is more expensive than gas because of the additional steps involved in refining clean versions of it from crude oil and because it carries higher taxes.

Also as of last week, the U.S. had only a 25-day reserve of diesel, the least since 2008, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

The shortage is due to the Ukraine war and Western sanctions; unlike Russia’s crude oil exports, its diesel shipments have fallen sharply because of the conflict.

Also, Russia has cut off virtually all natural gas supplies to Europe, forcing electricity generating plants there to shift from gas to diesel as fuel, spiking demand for shrinking supplies.

In addition, an unusually cold winter and hot summer in North America hiked natural gas prices when demand jumped. Oil refineries, which are fueled by natural gas, cut gas use when their fuel’s price leaped.

China’s heat waves this year were related to blackouts, leading Beijing to cut exports of oil and related products to protect domestic supplies.

The diesel shortage also is partly a byproduct of the COVID era.

During the COVID War, demand crashed for transport fuels. As a result, some U.S. refiners permanently shuttered older plants and have not found it economically feasible to start them up again, in part because expensive equipment upgrades would be required.

Also because of the war, U.S. refiners have been shipping diesel to Europe to help ease its fuel shortage. The shortage has lifted diesel prices there well above what they are at home.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
Click on image to read excerpts

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress