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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waxing Crescent (34% of Full)


Re: SC70

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June 08, 2008 10:35PM

Regarding alternative energy:

....................Inappropriateness as Transportation Fuels:

Approximately 2/3 of our oil supply is used for transportation. Over ninety percent of our transportation fuel comes from petroleum fuels (gasoline, diesel, jet-fuel). Thus, even if you ignore the challenges catalogued above, there is still the problem of how to use the electricity generated by the solar cells or wind turbines to run fleets of food delivery trucks, oceanliners, airplanes, etc.

Unfortunately, solar and wind cannot be used as industrial-scale transportation fuels unless they are used to crack hydrogen from water via electrolysis. Hydrogen produced via electrolysis is great for small scale, village level, and/or experimental projects. In order to power a significant portion of the global industrial economy on it, however we would need the following:

Need #1: Hundreds of trillions of dollars to construct fleets of hydrogen powered cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes.

Need #2: Hundreds, if not thousands, of oil-powered factories to accomplish number one.

Need #3: The construction of a ridiculously expensive global refueling and maintenance network for number one.

Need #4: Mind-boggingly huge amounts of platinum, silver, and copper, and other raw materials that have already entered permanent states of scarcity.

Extremely Low Starting Point:

Finally, most people new to this issue drastically overestimate the amount of energy we will be able to realistically derive from these sources inside of the next 5-25 years. If the previous examples didn't convince you that solar and wind are incapable of replacing oil and gas on more than a small scale/supplemental level, consider the following, easily verifiable facts:

In 2003, the US consumed 98 quadrillion BTU's of energy. Source A whopping .171 quadrillion came from solar and wind combined. Source Do the math (.171/98) and you will see that a total of less then one-sixth of one percent of our energy appetite was satisfied with solar and wind combined. Thus, just to derive a paltry 2-3 percent of our current energy needs from solar and wind, we would need to double the percentage of our energy supply derived from solar and wind, then double it again, then double it again, and then double it yet again.

Unfortunately, the odds of us upscaling our use of solar and wind to the point where they provide even just 2-3 percent of our total energy supply are about the same as the odds of Michael Moore and Dick Cheney teaming up to win a 5K relay race. Despite tremendous levels of growth in these industries, coupled with practically miraculous drops in price per kilowatt hour (95% drop in two decades), along with increased interest from the public in alternative energies, the percentage of our total energy supply derived from solar and wind is projected to grow by only 10 percent per year. Source Since we are starting with only one-sixth of one percent of our energy coming from these sources, a growth rate of 10 percent per year isn't going to do much to soften a national economic meltdown. Twenty-five years from now, we will be lucky if solar and wind account for one percent of our total energy supply. Source

Other green alternative energy sources, such as wave and geothermal power are incapable of replacing more than a fraction of our petroleum usage for similar: they are nowhere near as energy dense as petroleum and they are inappropriate as transportation fuels. In addition, they are also limited by geography. Wave power is only technically viable in coastal locations while only a handful of nations, such as Iceland, have access to enough geothermal power to make up for much of their petroleum consumption.

This is by no means reason not to invest in or purssue these alternatives. We simply have to be realistic about what they can and can't do. While they are certainly worthy investments, it is simply unrealistic to expect they are going to power more than a small fraction of our forty-five trillion dollar per year (and growing) global industrial economy.................

At the web page listed above there is excellent lengthy discussion of the inherent problems with the various alternative energy schemes, and why they independently, or combined, will not solve the grave energy predicament we are beginning to experience worldwide.


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