Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Looking for Clean, Abundant Energy


Governments of the western world appear more focused upon shutting down fossil fuels -- out of carbon hysteria -- than in providing their economies and industries with abundant and clean energy supplies. You might think that shale gas is an exception, given the graphics above, but shale gas was a natural evolutionary development of the petroleum industry.

As far as official bureaucracies are concerned, shale gas fell into the laps of the North American energy markets almost like manna from the sky. Governments cannot claim credit for it, nor can any particular research agency, university, or corporate lab. Neither official policy nor planning had anything to do with it. But governments are busily at work attempting to shut shale gas down -- particularly Obama's EPA -- out of vastly inflated faux environmental concerns. Not the attitude of a government that cares about the energy supply of its people and its industries, eh?


Brian Westenhaus points to two important viewpoints on energy here and here. The graph from the first source above, demonstrates current dysfunctional energy policies on the left, contrasted with more intelligent policies which might be instituted on the right.

The graphic below from the second source illustrates the connection between a concept called "Energy Intensity Ratio (EIR)" and the state of the economy. When the EIR drops for the dominant energy/fuel sources, economies tend to go into recession. More detail at Brian's blog and at the original source PDF.


When energy starvation becomes official government policy, a prolonged recession is virtually certain to come. Investors and venture capitalists will go where energy is not artificially constrained by faulty government policy. Banks and other lendors will be reluctant to lend funds in an environment of anti-energy, anti-market regulations and tax policy.

This is the impasse faced by much of the western world. The shale gas bonanza was totally unplanned by the higher levels of policy and planning. It has come as a disruptive force which threatens an otherwise solidly-constructed plan of energy starvation by the ruling regime. The US Interior Dept and the EPA are united with groups of useful idiots to try to shut down shale gas production -- but government forces must be subtle, and attempt to build a popular movement against shale gas to use as a shield and smokescreen.

Coal supplies are far more vast and easily accessed than popular media and official government sources are willing to admit. And clean coal is a very real possibility, quite within reach. Integrated gasification combined cycle coal plants -- without carbon sequestration -- would place vast resources of coal inside the "clean energy" category.

This makes two abundant sources of potentially clean fossil fuels which will reach at least to the mid 2100s, coal and gas. If you consider advanced fission technologies as implemented in small modular factory-built reactors as a third abundant source of clean energy, the world has three potentially abundant and clean energy sources to see it through the 21st century and beyond.

If you go further and look at microbial energy and fuels, prolific biomass (land and marine) energy and fuels, methane clathrates, enhanced geothermal, orbital solar, and eventually fusion and other advanced approaches from nuclear and particle physics -- and you should be able to see yourself clear to the 26th century at least.

The worst possible thing you could do for the planet is to cut off humanity's ascent to advanced technologies at its current primitive stage. But if current policies of carbon hysteria and energy starvation continue as at present, that is exactly what will happen.

If the faux environmentalists and neo-Luddites have their way, this planet and all of its precious ecosystems will continue to be vulnerable to a massive dieoff event from terrestrial and/or extraterrestrial agencies. Natural climate change -- ice age -- is a far greater threat to species diversity than the minimal climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. An impact by comet or asteroid has the potential to destroy more life in one fell swoop than all of man's impacts put together -- including a massive nuclear war.

There is no perspective nor wisdom within most of the world's governments -- only hunger for power and graft. It is up to any humans capable of awakening, to make up the deficit.

Addendum: Here is a short list of "useful idiots" on the local level of the US Pacific Northwest, who are vocal in opposing a biomass CHP plant in Port Angeles, WA:
Mania and Toby Thayler, attorney for the seven environmental groups filing the appeal, argued that selling the electricity could overtake the primary use of the mill.

"Obviously they listened and carefully considered their decision," Thayler said.

"I think they are wrong, but they listened carefully."

The environmental groups -- Port Townsend AirWatchers, Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Environmental Council, No Biomass Burn of Seattle, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy of Spokane, the World Temperate Rainforest Network and the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club -- said the assessment was incomplete. _Source
These easily manipulated but quite vocal fools are willing to oppose whatever they are told to oppose, and loudly. The attorneys among them are sometimes quite well-paid, however. Particularly those in the higher levels of powerful faux environmental - industrial complex political lobbies such as Sierra Club.



Blogger Mark Goldes said...

Clean, abundant energy is on the horizon.

See Moving Beyond Oil and Running on Water at www.aesopinstitute.org

Coal will not be able to compete on price.

Neither will other fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Future cars can become power plants when parked. No wires needed.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Thanks for another great analysis showing the absurdity of faux environmentalists. After all, if a technology obeys the 2nd law of thermodynamics, then it's not sustainable, and therefore, must be opposed.

Obviously, the environmentally-correct solution is to use clean, abundant energy sources that are cheaper than coal and nukes. Or will we just run into peak water concerns?

1:50 PM  
Blogger al fin said...


We will always run into "peak this" or "peak that." That is the nature of resources that are used for economic activity.

Peak water is becoming very popular, seeing that 70% of the earth is covered by water, and a good deal more by very thick freshwater ice.

None of the problems that have been championed by the big-money enviro-political lobbies are insoluble. But panic is popular in the media, and contagious among a certain class of persons. Problem-solving doesn't thrive in a panicked populace.

Much better to be oriented toward solving problems.

2:50 PM  

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