10 July 2008

Replacing 1 Cubic Mile of Oil a Year Worldwide

That is how much oil is consumed worldwide yearly--a cubic mile, give or take. How could that much oil be replaced, using other energy sources?
So, what would it take to replace the amount of energy in a cubic mile of oil? Roughly 4.2 billion solar rooftops, 3 million wind turbines, 2,500 nuclear power plants or 200 Three Gorges Dams, according to Menlo Park, Calif., nonprofit research institute SRI International.

In other words, no single category of renewable energy is growing anywhere near the speed it needs to bear the full brunt of displacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels anytime soon.

...While there is no doubt that wind, solar and geothermal have ample energy to power the planet--the sunlight that hits Earth in a single hour contains enough energy to fuel the human population for a year--they will need years to mature before they reach anything approaching their potential....The U.S. spends roughly $1 trillion each year--approximately 10% of gross domestic product--on the fuel needed to power 114 million households, 82 billion square feet of commercial building space, 130 million cars, 95 million trucks and the countless computers, ovens and alarm clocks that drive the metabolism of the modern economy. If there is a cheap and clean energy source out there, odds are someone--looking in the right place--will find it. __Forbes
Fortunately, the catastrophic global warming theory promoted by Al Gore--and used by the US Congress to hamstring the US energy industry--is turning out to be so much pig excrement. Which means that as soon as US voters understand what Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, and crew are doing to them, they can vote the miscreants out of office and hopefully replace them with no-nonsense pro-energy people.

The delays of an inept Congress are pushing the US into a corner, energy-wise. Every form of energy requires time and money to develop, and scale up to useful size.

North America is sitting on enough oil-equivalent (trillions of barrels) to last it hundreds of years at current consumption. But within a decade or two, better forms of solar and geothermal energies--to say nothing of better nuclear energy plants--will be available to provide electrical power for the grid. Oil equivalent resources only really need to last about 30 years. By then, algae biodiesel, synthetic biology energy, and biomass energy will be mature enough to replace most liquid fuels now consumed.

Predicting doom is okay for children who have no useful skills. But grownups will dig in and work, to see to it that doom does not actually fall on civilisation.

From Al Fin Energy


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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

"the sunlight that hits Earth in a single hour contains enough energy to fuel the human population for a year"

I never understand the point of giving statistics about the amount of solar energy hitting the earth. We will probably want more than the odd gap in our solar collecting infrastructure to maintain some plant life. But then it would mean not having to mow the lawn.

It seems that Forbes did some editing. It now reads: "Roughly 4.2 billion solar rooftops, 3 million wind turbines". The question I have is, which will have more of an impact, the rising energy needs of the developing world or the gains in efficiency of use, technology of generation and reclamation of waste energy that science and technology will provide.

Your assessment about the time line of energy demand versus fossil fuel supply seems reasonable. And just as our agriculture land usage patterns includes the production of large amounts of unneeded, unwanted and unhealthy corn starch and syrup, our economic activities include large amounts of plastic bobble head dolls and Star Trek steak knives that could un-disruptively disappear if oil costs were too high while our industrial lifestyles would not necessarily suffer. As with labor shortages, less oil would cause us to revalue what we want to spend our time, labour, energy and money creating and consuming. That doesn't mean we all need to become Amish. Which is good because I can never find a hat that fits me.

Use the oil we have while pursuing the science and technology needed to do without it. Seems like a simple enough plan to most people outside of Congress and other Western legislatures.

Thursday, 10 July, 2008  
Blogger APH said...

Not sure what they mean by solar rooftop, but if we say that a rooftop = 1/3 acre, then 4.2 billion of them translates to 2,165,625 square miles of "solar rooftop" needed. The Sahara Desert is roughly 3.5 million square miles. I know there's a lot of terrible governments over there, but what the hey...Let's put that desert to good use!

Thursday, 10 July, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks, Baron. I'll update the posting.

QS, all forms of alternative energy have significant problems in scaling up to regional, national, and international scales.

Our infrastructure is built for using oil products, gas, coal, and reliable electricity.

Solar and wind are not reliable even at small scale, much less utility scale. All of the huge interlocking power grid schemes are just pie in the sky at this time.

Politicians in Europe and North America are caught up in the fashionable "climate change catastrophe" mindset that forbids them from allowing industry to utilise the fossil fuels that remain--roughly a thousand years or so worth--while developing an infrastructure to use solar, geothermal, wind, bioenergy, ocean energy etc.

Political fashion is death to society, as hundreds of millions of victims of recent political and political/religious fashionable fanaticisms could tell you.

Friday, 11 July, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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