A friend suggested to me recently that all the concern about global warming is driving increasing acceptance of uranium as an energy source. So is this a case of one scary campaign trumping another?
Of course many who campaigned against uranium are now campaigning against global warming.
I’m not so convinced that global warming is driving increasing acceptance, though that’s certainly the spruik that the uranium industry and friends are trying to lay down.
IMHO, the Australian nuclear industry jumped the gun. It’s too early to be raising the profile of nuclear. Without kyoto ratification, there is no compelling reason to go nuclear. It is a big political negative, and costs too much money.
Kyoto could have helped get nuclear over the economic line in Australia, but now that their powder is no longer dry, once the debate fizzles out and we still don’t have nuclear due to the price, when we finally get around to ratifying kyoto the anti-nuclear campaigning will be better prepared.
We will not ratify it, KYOTO is a proverbial dead parrot.
Roger Kalla says
Dead? This parott is not dead it’s pining for the fjords (and other pristine environments it will do nothing to protect)!
Agree. Kyoto is a bit like a nice colorful ornament (a stuffed parrot?) sitting on the mantelpiece gathering dust while the real world is moving along.
Davey Gam Esq. says
Ah, so it’s Kyoto. From ABC journo-speak I thoughd id was the Kyodo Prodogol…
Nuclear nay sayers will have to get their policies sorted out soon, nuclear power is cost effective. Thats why all the Kyoto ratified countries use it.
Phillip Done says
How many people have died from nuclear accidents vs coal mining.
Can we handle the waste issue ?
Rog – Ok prove that nuclear is cost effective rather than just parrot stuff from the nuclear lobby.
Have a look at the Price Anderson Act in the USA.
Nuclear needs more subsidies than even wind or solar to be competitive. Have a look at this from http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm
“The study did not factor in any costs for carbon emissions from fossil fuel generators, and focused on over one hundred plants able to come on line 2010-15, including 13 nuclear plants. Nuclear overnight construction costs ranged from US$ 1000/kW in Czech Republic to $2500/kW in Japan, and averaged $1500/kW. Coal plants were costed at $1000-1500/kW, gas plants $500-1000/kW and wind capacity $1000-1500/kW.”
I really do not think that we want to build plants like those in the Czech Republic so we are looking at USD$2000 to USD$2500 per kilowatt. Wind from this source is USD$1000 to USD$1500. Even if you add have to build twice as many wind to make up for the capacity factor wind is comparable to nuclear. Wind power does not need incredibly expensive waste disposal – the Swedes are spending 12 billion dollars nor does it need liability insurance against accidents.
So how is nuclear cost effective?????
Ender did you actually read that link?
* Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels.
* Decreasing fossil fuel costs in the 1990s eroded nuclear energy’s previous cost advantage in many OECD countries, but higher gas prices are now changing the picture again.
* Fuel costs for nuclear plants are a minor proportion of total generating costs and often about one-third those for coal-fired plants.
* In assessing the cost competitiveness of nuclear energy, decommissioning and waste disposal costs are taken into account.
“How many people have died from nuclear accidents vs coal mining.”
I dont know, what is the answer?
“Ah, so it’s Kyoto. From ABC journo-speak I thoughd id was the Kyodo Prodogol…”
Roger, I think you’re chanelling my grandmother! Those ABC journos are a lot uglier than they used to be as well…
woops, I meant Dave!
rog – I did read the link – however those costs do not take into account the real cost of disposing of the waste and usually not the cost of building a plant to process the fuel. Waste is cheap to ‘dispose’ of now because it is only stored in temporary above ground storage facilities. The long term storage is incredibly expensive and as Yucca Mountain proves incredibly difficult.
Also it is only ‘access to low cost fossil fuels’ because that is all these people think is a viable alternative. Access to low cost wind power or solar thermal qualifies as the same sort of thing.
I put the link in so you could work out that building and operating a nuclear plant and the nuclear fuel life cycle is hugely expensive task and not considered in the cost per kilowatt that is usually quoted.
If you actually went to build a plant you would first have to construct a fuel processing facility and a waste repository. If you take the Swedish example then this could be at least 20 or 40 billion dollars. This is beside the 1 or 2 billion dollar cost of the plants.
How can this be cheaper than wind or solar that needs none of these things. Solar Thermal plants can produce storable gases such as methane or hydrogen for backup power and can give 24X7 power when needed as can the Solar Tower. However if you actually do the numbers as I have solar power is not needed at night as peak demand is often 60% more than off peak. Most of the 24X7 generators are off or on expensive idle at these times. There are very very few times that a geologically distributed renewable energy grid is not producing any power at all.
Unit costs incl disposal and capital items depreciated over life of plant.
Read it again
and more incl capital costs;
Energy Analysis of Power Systems
UIC Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper # 57
August 2005 (2)
* Life Cycle Analysis, focused on energy, is useful for comparing net energy yields from different methods of electricity generation.
* Nuclear power shows up very well as a net provider of energy, and with centrifuge enrichment, only hydro electricity is closely comparable.
* External costs, evaluated as part of life cycle assessment, strongly favour nuclear over coal-fired generation.
rog – the disposal method is not mentioned. It might be throwing the waste in the sea for all this document says about it. I quoted deliberately pro nuclear studies which just about always minimise the costs. So perhaps you can tell us all what disposal method is assumed.
I am glad that nuclear is a net producer of energy however so is wind/solar. I note that you do not dispute the costs of wind.
For a more anti-nuclear source
Arguably the best and most current economic comparison of nuclear and fossil-fueled plants is by Professor Paul L. Joskow in a recent interdisciplinary MIT study, “The Future of Nuclear Power.”4 As seen from the following table from the MIT Study, in the United States today new nuclear plants are far from being competitive with new natural gas or coal-fueled power plants. The levelized cost of electricity5 generated by a new nuclear plant is estimated to be about 60 percent greater than the cost of electricity from a coal plant or a gas-fueled plant assuming moderate gas prices.” The summary is here http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-summary.pdf
Nuclear Power is not cost effective – you have not demonstrated that it is. In the USA the cost of disposal of waste is not borne by the utilities and the liability insurance is subsidised.
Phillip Done says
Comparison of accident statistics in primary energy production.
(Electricity generation accounts for about 40% of total primary energy).
Fuel Immediate fatalities 1970-92 Who? Normalised to deaths per TWy* electricity
Coal 6400 workers 342
Natural gas 1200 workers & public 85
Hydro 4000 public 883
Nuclear 31 workers 8
From the outset, there has been a strong awareness of the potential hazard of both nuclear criticality and release of radioactive materials.
There have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. One was contained and the other had no provision for containment.
These are the only major accidents to have occurred in over 11 000 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries.
The risks from western nuclear power plants, in terms of the likelihood and consequences of an accident or terrorist attack, are minimal compared with other commonly accepted risks.
The operation of many nuclear reactors in the former Eastern Bloc is of international concern, and a program of international assistance is helping to improve their safety.
There have been two major accidents in the history of civil nuclear power generation;
Three Mile Island (USA 1979) where the reactor was severely damaged but radiation was contained and there were no adverse health or environmental consequences.
Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) where the destruction of the reactor by explosion and fire killed 31 people and had significant health and environmental consequences.
Nuclear disposal method is not described but costs ex Sweden were allowed for in the cost analysis.
Japan has the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO) which is funded from a levy on nuclear power and handles all waste disposal. They have allowed to spend US$ 28 billion.
They are not to dump it in the sea as you suggest.
You should read the links that you post , you may find them of interest.
“except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels.”
You mean, like, in Australia????
Nuclear won’t happen in Australia without
a) a carbon tax or emissions trading or Kyoto etc, or
b) an extremely brave government with a lot of cash to throw at subsidies.
a) wont happen, Kyoto suffering from dead parrot syndrome
b) wont happen, nuclear does not have political “tick of approval” from noisy minority lobby groups such as doctors wives, ABC devotees, gardening australia, misc workers union, anti developers movement, celebrities for peace movement, aging rock stars benevolent fund etc
Phillip Done says
Rog – that’s funny. I am really gone … that list was classic…. he he he he he …
cripes maybe you’re right ! now I am worried.
Kyoto is suffering from John Howard syndrome, not dead parrot syndrome
Nuclear’s problem isn’t what you mentioned Rog. Its that it is competing with coal, and coal is king in Australia. While we are arguing here, Jennifer’s pro-coal colleagues are laughing. Even the IPA thinks nuclear is too expensive here without greenhouse-based support. Check out their website.
The only reason I can think of why we are having a nuclear debate now at all is because people want to dig our uranium out of the ground and sell it o/s and make money. But it is easier to do that if you link it to nuclear power generation and global warming.
Rog – so what you are saying is that is cheaper to build 30 or 40 GW of nuclear power generation at a cost of 40 * $2000/Kw * 10^6 = $80 000 000 000.00 PLUS at least 20 or 30GW of peaking gas plants + 28 billion of nuclear waste disposal PLUS 2 or 3 billion for a fuel enrichment plant – thats cheaper is it?
With NP there is no incentive to reduce power consumption at all. We are trying to build enough capacity so that we can waste as much as we want.
Renewable solutions start with dramatic power savings through energy efficiency. Instead of trying to generate the 80 to 100 peak GW of power that we currently use we should start by reducing this to 50 or 60 peak GW. This would mean that the off peak demand would be about 20 or 30 GW. A wind/solar solution would cost 60 * $1500 * 10^6 = $90 billion with no fuel costs and no disposal costs. The preliminary results from my computer model and experience in Denmark suggests that renewable power naturally follows a peak/off peak pattern during the 24 hour day. Geographically dispersed wind/solar reduces the need for backup. The solar thermal plants can ‘backup’ the grid anyway with stored hydrogen or methane. Renewables have no terrorism or nuclear proliferation problems. They do not create tons of toxic waste that must be disposed of.
There is really no comparison – wind/solar is capable of supplying our electricity needs as long as we are prepared to stop wasting energy the way we do. Just plugging in NP is more of the same. If the climate does change centralised power plants are far more vunerable that distributed systems with local storage.
gardening australia hehehehehehhe
Phillip Done says
Ender – so why don’t we get it with renewables then – is it that we can’t have electricity on demand e.g. night time or wind not blowing. Is it that we have local systems ourselves – at a household level.
Some people find looking after a swimming pool unbearable – which is also why some people don’t like water reuse/grey water – too many fiddly diddly pumps n valves and things to remember.
Are wind generators noisy and ugly – the new plague of power lines and TV aerials ?
So does your suggestion imply we have to take more responsibility locally then ? Are long distance high voltage transmission systems incompatible ?
I am genuinely trying to see why the average Aussie wouldn’t go for it ?
Philip – Renewables are touted as being unreliable by people that want to promote fossil fuels or that are mind set on large power stations. To these people renewable power is a whimsical thing subject to the variables of weather compared to the solid 24X7 reliability of a conventional power station.
Having said that how many times have you had a blackout? Parts of Perth were without power for over a week after a recent tornado. It would seem that when you combine the fossil-fuel power plants into a distribution system then it is subject to the weather as extreme weather events can disrupt the system and it is not 24X7 after all. Given the topic of this discussion and others if AGW drives the climate into more frequent extreme events then what is claimed to be 24X7 power may not be as reliable as is claimed – yet this consideration is rarely spoken of in relation to fossil fuel or nuclear power plants.
When you combine different renewable energy sources such as wind, solar thermal etc in different regions of a state then it would seem that the whole system becomes more reliable than the sum of the parts. ie:when it is still in Geraldton it is windy in Lancelin or Albany. If it is raining in Perth it is sunny in Hyden and so on. I am using WA places because this is the data that I bought from the BOM and I am becoming familiar with it. You can substitute your own state place names. The point I an trying to make is that while the weather is fickle in you immediate area when you average it out over a whole state then it becomes more dependable and predictable. Advanced computer models are already being used to predict renewable energy output in the USA and are used to balance hour by hour the energy mix of the grid.
Yes you are still relying on a venerable power distribution network however it is only used when the local power is not present rather that all the time. If an extreme event disrupts the network then as long as the conditions are OK the individual nodes will carry on as normal while it is sunny or windy. Also houses and electric cars will become storage nodes. With the advances in computers and power electronics it is now possible to make battery electric cars part of the grid. It is called V2G – vehicle to grid. What it means that the on average 60% of cars that are parked at any one time if they are plugged into the grid for charging they can also deliver power to the grid and act a storage. Basically it means that the needed battery storage for a reliable renewable network does double duty as transport. Why have millions of batteries in a power station when they can be put in cars and driven about instead, solving or helping to mitigate the problem of Peak Oil and fossil fuel depletion. When you battery electric car is at home and plugged in if the renewable energy fails then your car can power your house and be recharged from the solar panels on the roof. If your business loses power then your employees cars in the parking lot can power your business until the power returns or at least until the working day is over.
Average Aussies are going for it. The $4000 rebate on solar panels had to be scaled back initially as it was so oversubscribed. It was recently saved from extinction by popular demand so some Aussies are going for it. Any large scale renewable solution must include more responsibility and awareness of the true cost of energy. Nothing brings this in to greater relief than when someone proposes to build wind turbines. Boy, then everyone starts to care about birds even though their plate glass windows kill more birds that a wind turbine ever will. Suddenly they are concerned about peace and tranquility when hours before they mowed their lawn and blew down their driveway with one of those damn leaf blowers. NOWHERE in the debates about the siting of wind turbines is a commitment to reduce power consumption so that they do not have to be built. The only thought is do whatever you have to do so that I can have a 10Kw 2 star air conditioner so I can enjoy the ‘natural’ environment from the comfort of my climate controlled living room and build the power station somewhere else so I do not have to look at it. If you have to build nuclear plants then do it – I will be dead when the waste problem comes around so how does it affect me?
I call this the ‘as long as it happens after I am dead” syndrome. Really the only reason that there is any action on climate change at all now is that for the first time the effects of our lifestyles might be felt within a human lifetime. Now the thought is “something is going to change before I am dead – perhaps we better do something about it” While the problems are comfortably after I die then we tend not to worry about them as in the case of nuclear waste. As long as we can store the waste until after I can worry about it then this is OK.
We need to move on from this lack of responsibility to both the future and the environment and come up with a way of keeping the advantages of our technology without endangering the spaceship we inhabit. The answer is not more of the same, the answer is to change. If we do not change voluntarily then the change will be forced on us eventually, maybe before the people reading this are dead. If you think it is hard to change voluntarily imagine the upheaval a forced change will cause.
BTW Philip – do you have any more of those Bex?
Phillip Done says
(I think Rog fancies us actually…)
Yep quite a rave and some good points. To further dimension out an alternative future – how about some more discourse on long distance transport – goods and people.
Fuel (OK energy) for agriculture. Do bio-fuels add up i.e. we have to convert all our arable land to bio-diesel/ethanol whatever. Will we use so much biomass as to run down our soil carbon?
And if we’re using fuel cells anywhere in the system we probably have problems with Peak Platinum (unless Louis is sitting on the mother lode and not telling us).
Do we continue with coal oil gasification a la APP. Is CO2 sequestration/scrubbing worth contemplating.
I guess we could also conjure up big wind sail ships driven by computers if we dream hard enough.
And hi to Rog who’s probably readying his next onslaught …
So in this bright new Enders World we calculate total power needs at peak loads and divide into qty wind generators then work out the number of sites where wind can be reliably experienced in any 24 hour period at any time of the year then multiply the number of wind generators by the number of sites then buy shares in wind propeller company……
Alternatively everyone gets a free pushbike (made in China where they all drive Commodores)
Or in rogs bright new world we build the peak demand in nuclear plants and have most of them sitting around idle all night – even better.
Did you not get anything I said??? Wind generators alone will not do it – wind + sun + storable gases will do it 24 hours a day.
And yes buy a pushbike – I did and I rode it to the station this morning. Good luck driveing the car when oil is $150 dollars a barrel
Lucky you Ender, you live close to the station.
Others less fortunate have to rely on their cars. Many have to ferry the kids around to activities whilst others have to chase work to bring the money in.
Most shopping centres are not near railway lines and anyway it would be difficult carrying a families weekly shopping on to the train then somehow balancing it all on a pushbike and hoping that it is not spoiled in the rain/heat/wind. Dont forget we need wind for our propellers.
Not to worry, oil will come down as higher prices stimulate production.
rog – production from where???
Q: “production from where???”
Honestly Ender you gotta stick with the program Ender
You gotta stay focussed Ender
You keep forgetting your lines Ender.
A: Iraq Ender
Remember, it was “all about oil” Ender
You told me so.
Phillip Done says
And how much oil is left Rog the dodge ?
Shiploads, heaps, a bit, or not as much as you might think ?
rog – Ok how much oil do you think Iraq has? Do you think we can continue to use 83 million barrels and growing per day forever?
We have already used almost half the known and predicted oil reserves. From here it is all down.
Try and be more positive boyos, its not the Ender World. There will be plenty of oil for years to come, you mark my words.
The only thing we might be short on is commonsense, you two seemed to have cornered the market.
rog – well thank you for those comforting words – perhaps you would like to enlighten us poor misguided souls about the oil situation since you know so much about it.
Obviously anyone who considers that there is a limit to a finite resource must be deluded. Those damn people in India and China – fancy them wanting a car like we have. (sarcasm mode now disengaged)
Phillip Done says
I don’t want to mark your words as on facts we’d have to fail you. Rog – big on rhetoric – sparse on any supporting evidence.
A large number of commentators would suggest that global production has peaked or close to it(plus or minus a few years to the half way point).
If you try to look at a business as usual replacement strategy nothing adds up. Hydrogen isn’t there yet, leaks, dangerous (can’t see the flames), no infrastructure, useless for greenhouse if you make from coal or gas, and yep maybe stuffs the ozone layer too.
Biofuels don’t add up on arable land basis. Fusion still doesn’t break even or work ! Leaves coal, nuclear fission, renewables
Australian oil production is in decline. US production has peaked years ago.
The global projected growth doesn’t match the supply.
Oh – the lack of oil won’t get you first – it will be the stockmarkets !
And if you’re into fuel cells – platinum becomes a serious supply issue. One major source – one mine in South Africa.
Rog – why do you think we’re in Iraq and central Asia. And why the interest in Nigeria and Venezuela…. and the LACK of interest in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Rwanda…. see a pattern perhaps ?
And why have we gone full tilt at the Asia Pacific Partnership – for coal to oil gasification.
rog – just a link so that you can understand Enders world and why I am pessimistic about global oil supplies.
It explains depletion. Go to the bottom of the article and read the writers qualifications and think about whether he is deluded.
duelling links? Google at 20 paces?
this is my link
It is from these people
More of the good oil on energy
The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model (and Hubbert Modelers)
Michael C. Lynch
Recently, numerous publications have appeared warning that oil production is near an unavoidable, geologically-determined peak that could have consequences up to and including “war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens” (Campbell in Ruppert 2002)
The current series of alarmist articles could be said to be merely reincarnations of earlier work which proved fallacious, but the authors insist that they have made significant advances in their analyses, overcoming earlier errors.
For a number of reasons, this work has been nearly impenetrable to many observers, which seems to have lent it an added cachet. However, careful examination of the data and methods, as well as extensive perusal of the writings, suggests that the opacity of the work is—at best—obscuring the inconclusive nature of their research.
Some of the arguments about resource scarcity resemble those made in the 1970s. They have noted that discoveries are low (as did Wilson (1977) and that most estimates of ultimately recoverable resources (URR)2 are in the range of 2 trillion barrels, approximately twice production to date. But beyond that, Campbell and Laherrere in particular claim that they have developed accurate estimates of URR, and thus, unlike earlier work, theirs is more scientific and reliable. In other words, this time the wolf is really here.
But careful examination of their work reveals instead a pattern of errors and mistaken assumptions presented as conclusive research results.
The Hubbert Curve
The initial theory behind what is now known as the Hubbert curve was very simplistic. Hubbert was simply trying to estimate approximate resource levels, and for the lower-48 US, he thought a bell-curve would be the most appropriate form.
It was only later that the Hubbert curve came to be seen as explanatory in and of itself, that is, geology requires that production should follow such a curve. Indeed, for many years, Hubbert himself published no equations for deriving the curve, and it appears that he only used a rough estimation initially.
In his 1956 paper, in fact, he noted that production often did not follow a bell curve. In later years, however, he seems to have accepted the curve as explanatory.
The many inconsistencies and errors, along with the ignorance of most prior research, indicates that the current school of Hubbert modelers have not discovered new, earth-shaking results but rather joined the large crowd of those who have found that large bodies of data often yield particular shapes, from which they attempt to divine physical laws.
The work of the Hubbert modelers has proven to be incorrect in theory, and based heavily on assumptions that the available evidence shows to be wrong. They have repeatedly misinterpreted political and economic effects as reflecting geological constraints, and misunderstood the causality underlying exploration, discovery and production.
The primary flaw in Hubbert-type models is a reliance on URR as a static number rather than a dynamic variable, changing with technology, knowledge, infrastructure and other factors, but primarily growing. Campbell and Laherrere claim to have developed better analytical methods to resolve this problem, but their own estimates have been increasing, and increasingly rapidly.
Phillip Done says
Well Yergin would say that wouldn’t he – he wrote The Prize.
Daniel Yergin is best known for The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, a number-one bestseller that won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1992. The book was adapted into a PBS mini-series seen by more than 20 million viewers. Yergin was awarded the 1997 United States Energy Award for “lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding.”
Yergin is the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
We’re talking BIG establishment position here guys … what do you think they’d say … need more than that Rog. He is an industry stooge.
Rog – we’ll drag you – 0-100 Googles ??
Really is we can google each other to death here. So how do we get some more definitive ??
Whether you’re an optimist or not – do you at least acknowledge the USA has peaked ??
Why have no new supertankers been built in last few years ?? Surely they’ll be needed for carrying all that new demand ?
Some other stuff on hydrogen issues:
As the car industry puts billions of dollars into developing so-called
clean hydrogen- powered vehicles, The Financial Times reports that “the
new fuel comes with its own built-in commodity crisis.”
“Today’s experimental hydrogen fuel cells use so much platinum that
there is not enough of the precious metal to replace all the world’s
petrol engines.” “With the current type of technology we know already
that platinum supplies will not be sufficient,” says Kazuo Okamoto,
Toyota’s new head of research and development. “At the current 60
grams or so of platinum in each fuel cell,” writes The Financial Times,
“the world’s 780 million cars and trucks would use 46,800 tons of the
metal, just below the 47,570 tons estimated to be still in the ground”
“If fuel cells power 80 per cent of cars by 2050, miners will be unable
to extract platinum fast enough.” Furthermore, a London Department of
Transport study found that there are “significant environmental impacts
associated with platinum mining and refining.”
From New Scientist
IT WAS never going to be that easy. Cars and power plants running on hydrogen have been touted as the answer to all our environmental problems, from global warming to pollution and smog. But a more problematic vision of hydrogen is now emerging, in which spiralling leakage rates contribute to ozone depletion and even to global warming. If we are to avoid these downsides we had better start planning now.
That’s the warning from researchers modelling the effects of hydrogen in the atmosphere, such as Tracy Tromp and John Eiler from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In June, they pointed out that leaked hydrogen could end up in the stratosphere. There it could react with hydroxyl (OH) radicals to form water vapour, helping to form colder and longer-lasting clouds over the poles. This, they argued, would provide a reaction site for halogens such as chlorine to deplete stratospheric ozone, delaying the repair of the ozone layer (Science, vol 300, p 1740).
Now other scientists are warning of other potentially damaging effects. At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco next month, Larry Horowitz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and his colleagues will report that leaked hydrogen could increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Again, the main problem is destruction of OH radicals, but this time in the troposphere (see Graphic). OH is an environmental scrubber, reacting with and removing all manner of pollutants, including the potent greenhouse gas methane. Lower levels of OH would allow methane to stick around in the atmosphere longer.
Most experts agree that these processes could happen. The big question is how how serious their effect will be, and that depends on how much hydrogen leaks into the atmosphere. At present, about 80 million tonnes of hydrogen goes into the atmosphere every year (see “Hydrogen emissions”). Some of that is natural and some is man-made, with 15 million tonnes coming from industrial uses and the burning of fossil fuels. Tromp and her colleagues caused a stir with their estimate that 10 to 20 per cent of all hydrogen for use in fuel cells would leak. On that basis, converting the world’s 1994 fleet of automobiles to hydrogen would increase industrial emissions to between 60 and 120 million tonnes per year. They based their conclusion on earlier work by others which showed that around 10 per cent of liquid hydrogen transported in Germany is lost through leaks.
rog – however one gaping flaw that no link duel can address is the simple question – is the Oil supply finite?
The commonsense answer, that you have appealed to me to apply, to this question is that all resources are finite and oil is one of them.
Hubbert with his ‘flawed’ model correctly predicted the peak in America’s oil production, a fact that your link author conveniently left out. Also Hubbert was one of the originators of modern oil geology and much of the present field in based on original work by him. He is not some uneducated person cooking the books.
If the authors of this ‘study’ had read what peak is about then they would have realised that they have actually stated the peak oil problem. 2 trillion barrels of oil is remaining out of a original estimated amount of about 4 trillion barrels. Peak oil is not about how much remaining oil there is but the fact that we are now on the second half of the available oil. We have extracted the easy oil and all that is remaining is the hard to extract oil, the heavy sour oil and the tar sands. This is Peak Oil in a nutshell so your link actually states Peak Oil without acknowledging it.
Now your first link
“As skills improve, output from many producing regions will be much greater than anticipated. The share of “unconventional oil” — Canadian oil sands, ultra-deep-water developments, “natural gas liquids” — will rise from 10 percent of total capacity in 1990 to 30 percent by 2010. The “unconventional” will cease being frontier and will instead become “conventional.” Over the next few years, new facilities will be transforming what are inaccessible natural gas reserves in different parts of the world into a quality, diesel-like fuel.”
Now how about some assumptions here. Unconventional reserves require large amounts of energy to extract. So much so the EROEI is marginal. Natural gas is used to heat the sticky muck that they extract and heat the enormous quantity of water needed to wash and process the tar. Where does the Natural Gas come from?????? Natural Gas is a finite resource as well.
All the modern technology etc is presently not finding enough oil to replace the oil we are using and the fields that are going into decline. URR is growing however depletion and demand are growing faster – Peak Oil
*is the Oil supply finite?*
The reliance for oil will run out before the supply of oil.
You guys worry too much, you should get away from your computers for a while, go for a bike ride down to the station, catch a train even.
Leave the supply of commodities for the markets to sort out.
Phillip Done says
The Yergin Puzzle
August 1, 2005
We begin this ominous month with the curious case of Daniel Yergin, who won the Pulitizer for his 1992 epic history of the oil industry, The Prize, later turned into a PBS megadocumentary. Since his big score, Yergin has set up a public relations firm called Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) which, in the spirit of the PR profession, seems to have become the main disinformation organ for its clients, the major oil companies.
In a piece published in yesterday’s Washington Post, Yergin takes the position that there is no problem with the global oil supply. Over the next five years, he says, both OPEC and non-OPEC producers will come up with an extra 16 million barrels a day, taking the world from its current 85 m/b/d to 101 m/b/d in 2010. This will happen, he says, because of “new technology” used to exploit unconventional sources of oil such as tar sands, ultra-deep-water developments, and natural gas liquids.
More than a few elements of Yergin’s pitch are shifty. The slyest one is that he does not mention that unconventional oil tends to be very uncheap, and since it is cheap oil that enables America’s “non-negotiable” easy motoring way of life, and the debt-fueled suburban sprawl-building economy that has evolved to serve it, there may indeed be a problem further along in the pipeline, so to speak.
Yergin also leaves out the fact that most (and perhaps all) of the world’s major conventional oil fields are past peak and now depleting at between three and twenty percent a year — and, ironically, as in the case of the North Sea, the more advanced the drilling technology, the more efficiently the oil is recovered, the greater the rate of depletion.
The big question mark, of course, is Saudi Arabia, which until recently was believed to be years short of peak. A new analysis by Matthew Simmons, chief investment banker to the US drilling industry, and author of the just-published Twilight in the Desert, concludes that Saudi Arabia is peaking now. Simmons adds that the Saudi’s 30-year-old super-giant Ghawar oil field (from which SA gets more than half its crude) has been structurally degraded by aggressive over-production and by the practice of injecting sea water into the geological strata in order to keep the pressure up in the wells.
Saudi oil reserve figures have been guarded as “state secrets” since they nationalized their industry in the 1970s, so nobody, including Mr. Yergin, knows for sure what is left under the desert. But we do know what is coming out of the Kingdom in its tankers, and despite repeated promises to increase production in order to goose down prices over the past year, the Saudis have failed to do so. This we know.
Among the other things Yergin’s rosy analysis leaves out is that oil is inequitably distributed among the nations of the world. It is a generally accepted fact that roughly two thirds of the remaining oil lies under the Middle East, and another substantial fraction is in Central Asia. That is to say, it belongs either to people who hate us, or to landlocked countries on the farthest side of the globe (next door to China). Another significant pool (though past peak) belongs to Venezuela, run by Mr. Hugo Chavez, who remains irked by American attempts to overthrow his regime and have him bumped off. These facts ought to give pause to the confident.
The conclusion that a reasonable person might draw is that the West, and America in particular, is liable to have trouble getting its mitts on all the oil it needs, and that the industrial nations altogether are headed straight into a fateful geopolitical scramble for whatever’s out there. That’s exactly why we are in Iraq, by the way. It is our central forward base to secure Middle East oil supplies. And it also why we have embarked on the somewhat crazy and dubious project of setting up bases in several former Soviet republics. (Kyrgystan has just asked us to pack up and leave.) A great game is underway and the patriotic steroids that America has been taking since 9/11 are no guarantee that we will end up the winners.
Along these geopolitical lines, we note today the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Fahd had been disabled by a stroke for years, and the Kingdom has been effectively ruled during this time by his half-brother Prince Abdullah, who now becomes king. Abdullah himself is 82 years old, and whatever his abilities have been, he would not now seem destined for a long reign. What follows Abdullah –with Arabian oil entering its arc of depletion, and the kingdom’s oil welfare disbursments shrinking among an exploding population, including a large number of unemployed, futureless, non-royal angry young Arabian men occupied in the study of a militant wahhabism — may be a very turbulent chapter in the history of that region.
These are the things that Daniel Yergin’s public relations escort service to the oil industry doesn’t want to talk about.
rog – how, pray tell, is the reliance on oil going to stop??????? Are we going to stop eating for instance?
BTW I just rode my bike home from the train station as I do just about every day.
phil sawyer says
Re: future oil/transport fuel supplies…..enger rog and co…very interesting discussion about resouces. It should be understood that the amount of any given resource varies with price….and at anything over $50 a barrel all manner of alternatives to “easy” oil kick in. These include gas to liquids, coal to oil, tar sands, venezuelen heavy crude, and oil shale…..plenty enough to last until we can use genetically tweaked up algae in ponds to do it all instead.
Unfortunately we wont run out of oil, even given the demand surge expected from 3b people joining the industrial world over the next 30 yrs.
Thus, anyone hoping that a shortage of oil might help renewables become competitive is just being a bit wishful. And anyway, the current high prices do not reflect supply and demand fundamentals..the market has severely overshot. When the yanks have a hurricane or whatever, the price goes up….but anyone in the world can order, and get, a tankerload of the stuff anytime…there is no shortage. Its a case of irrational market exuberance/nervousness and it will all come down in a thud inside twelve months…back to $40 maybe….someprice where the not-so-easy oil people can still make a quid…. phil sawyer
Phil Done says
Phil – have you done the numbers or do you just believe that … have you checked the other fuel sources for size and practicality (except coal to oil)….
phil – all the alternatives that you mentioned use energy to refine. Where does this energy come from? The Energy Returned on Energy Invested of the Canadian Tar Sands is 5.2. That is that the energy of the oil refined is only 5.2 times the energy that has to be put in to mine and refine the oil sands. This energy is in the form of natural gas that has to be used for other purposes. Also the most optimistic output is 5 million barrels per day.
Unless you have been ignoring the other posts on this blog coal to liquids release CO2. Rather than strip mining the entire Earth for oil and oil substitues doesn’t it make more sense to change – or are we so fossilised in our thinking and habits that the change from oil is so difficult.
Perhaps we will perish like one of the major species from the past that was also unable to adapt to change unlike the small animals that replaced them.
Phillip Done says
Yep the reality is energy density and energy return ratio. When it takes more energy to get the fuel than is derived from it in work, then the party is over (and that’s leaving the CO2 issue to one side).
Does anyone have any numbers on the supertanker fleet in recent years. They should be increasing rapidly if there’s going to be stacks of demand that can be supplied….