20 January 2010

The Cost of Energy: Comparison per Million BTUs

Chemical engineer Robert Rapier has provided a comparison of costs per million BTUs for various energy sources. It is an interesting beginning point for discussion.
Current Energy Prices per Million BTU

Powder River Basin Coal - $0.56
Northern Appalachia Coal - $2.08
Natural gas - $5.67
Ethanol subsidy - $5.92
Petroleum - $13.56
Propane - $13.92
#2 Heating Oil - $15.33
Jet fuel - $16.01
Diesel - $16.21
Gasoline - $18.16
Wood pellets - $18.57
Ethanol - $24.74
Electricity - $34.03 _Source, Sources, and Conversion Factors

This is the type of comparison that the Obama - Pelosi crusade for energy starvation does not want you to see. But there it is, stark and plain.  It is important to separate issues of cost from peripheral issues such as "carbon climate catastrophe" and "peak oil."  

The only way that Powder Basin coal can be used cleanly is via gasification -- preferably using Integrated Combined Cycle Gasification with Combined Heat and Power production (IGCC with CHP).  IGCC extracts more energy from the fuel, using both gas and steam turbine cycles.  CHP makes productive use of the "waste" heat, making the entire enterprise above 80% efficiency.  Powder Basin coal is cheap and dirty, but it can be used cheap and clean using IGCC plus CHP.    If you want liquid fuels, you can convert cheap, dirty coal to cheap clean liquids using gasification plus Fischer Tropsch catalysis etc.

Forget the carbon sequestration, unless you have an algae farm or other productive use for the CO2 you are sequestering.   Carbon sequestration is a horrific waste of resources.  It virtually eliminates the advantages of IGCC while doing nothing for the environment except necessitating the use of even more fuel.

When the people understand the issues behind the grand crusade of the Obama - Pelosi Revolutionary Reich for redistribution, energy starvation, economic depression, and social justice, they tend to vote against it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You probably already know this, but the Northern Appalachian coal is mostly used for making steel and soon we won't even need it for that. The companies in the US that used to buy scrap to melt it in electric arc steel mills are now working on being able to process raw ore. In addition a Japanese process has been imported that can concentrate ore to 95% percent purity with very little coal. Soon America's 100 million ton per year steel production will be able to come exclusively from electric mills and the monstrous furnaces on the Great Lakes will be able to be shuttered once and for all, which is a shame.

Soon only a tiny part of our coal output will be needed for steel production, and we could even phase out coal for electrical generation if we adopted nuclear. Our coal reserves then would be free to be used for liquification.

This doesn't avoid Peak Oil, but it would uy us another century, at which point we would have found another energy source or have made our way off this planet.

Wednesday, 20 January, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

No one knows what Obama's EPA is going to try to do about coal. If they try to shut coal mining and coal use down, they will create an instant energy crisis. No one can predict the long term consequences of such a boneheaded move.

Coal, gas, bitumens, and kerogens, are in abundant supply in North America. There is no reason for North America to suffer any energy shortages. Uranium and Thorium can also be found in North America.

I call Obama's Green Utopian Crusaders "GUCs". The morons can really GUC up an economy.

Wednesday, 20 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is a bit of local preening, but thorium can be found here in AZ.


Wednesday, 20 January, 2010  
Blogger neil craig said...

At $60 lb for uranium http://www.commodities-now.com/news/metals-and-mining/731-growth-in-uranium-demand-will-require-high-cost-supply-response.html I assume the raw the raw energy cost there would be a very small fraction of a cent. Nobody knows exactly how much of the cost of nuclear is consumed by hysteria driven regulations on what is, per kw, easily the safest method of generating power but it is probably the large majority of it.

Thursday, 21 January, 2010  

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