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Dave Beans

"oil Shortages Unlikely For Several Decades"

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/03/scientists-answer-energy-questions

1. Could we support our current western lifestyle with only "renewable" energy? Asked by Jim Burks

José Goldemberg answers: Presently "renewable" energy accounts for approximately 10% of the energy consumed in Europe. The impressive growth of energy produce from windmills, biomass and other renewables indicates that renewables as a whole could account for "circa" 50% of all energy consumed by 2050.

The present western lifestyle requires the energy equivalent of three tonnes of petroleum per year. Improving the efficiency of energy use (with more efficient automobiles, refrigerators and other end-use appliances as well as better home insulation) could reduce that amount by at least 30%. As is well known considerable efficiency gains have already been achieved in the OECD countries since 1973. Present energy consumption would be 50% higher than it is actually without them. That reduction could give renewables a better chance to replace fossil fuels.

2. Do you agree with the US Joint Forces Command (JFC) that spare capacity in global oil production may very well disappear in 2012 and a shortfall of 10m barrels per day develop by 2015? NoSurrenderMonkey (and others)

Clement Bowman: The word 'may' in the question, and the multiple use of the word "could" in the energy summary statement of the US JFC document, obliges one to accept the possibility that "yes it could". However, I believe that it is highly unlikely that there will be significant oil shortages over the next few decades. Once there is a perceived gap, forces come into play that cause the gap to be filled.

Here are some of the likely forces. Even modest increases in oil prices will convert unproven resources into recoverable reserves. Action on energy efficiency has finally taken hold in response to the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. New pipelines are under construction or planned in North America that will bring crude oil to refineries that have unused capacity. The enormous quantities of shale gas that have been discovered will provide part of the energy mix. The Canadian oil sands are just starting to ramp up with new more environmentally acceptable insitu recovery technology. China and India will use a combination of more efficient coal technology, nuclear energy and renewables to help meet their accelerating demand for energy. When I entered the oil industry in the 1960s, the conventional wisdom was that there was only 10 years of oil supply left. Predictions have a habit of failing.

3. The world's population is due to rise to 9 billion people. Can the planet supply the energy needed to achieve that end? ken brookes

Tom Blees: Widespread predictions that energy demand will double by mid-century to meet the needs of an expected 9-10 billion humans are, I believe, too conservative. Billions of people rely on now-shrinking glaciers for much of their water supply, with many areas of the world already lacking adequate water. Increasing human numbers by 50% means that we will have to provide most of the water for some billions of people primarily with desalination, an energy-intensive process. Add to that the fact that the majority of people in the world today use a fraction of the energy used by those in developed countries, and one could easily anticipate at least a tripling of demand in developing countries as they strive strive to improve their standard of living.

In the book Prescription for the Planet, I explained how a doubling of energy supply could easily be accomplished by 2050 at a rate of deployment even less ambitious than the French employed as they converted to nuclear power in the 1970s and 80s. Given the ability to factory-produce fast reactors of the type described here, a concerted global effort to meet mid-century energy demands should be quite within reach. The fuel is already available and - for all intents and purposes - virtually free.

4. I'm 25 years old. What's your best case scenario for the world's energy supply mix when I'm 75? What's your worst case scenario? And where you you think we'll actually be? Ian Bullock

Tom Blees: While there's widespread agreement that fossil fuels must eventually be abandoned, there seems to be no consensus on which technologies can be expected to take their place. The contenders already available run the gamut from some of the most diffuse energy sources (wind, sunlight) to the most energy-dense. While nearly all of the latter systems currently in use consist of light-water nuclear reactors, fast reactors can extract well over 100 times more energy from uranium, and are seen by most nuclear prognosticators as being the inevitable successors to light-water reactors and the solution to the looming global energy crisis.

All of the energy a person in a developed country today can be expected to use in a lifetime - for electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, and the energy that goes into producing all that they will consume - could be supplied by a single piece of depleted uranium the size of half a ping-pong ball. Despite all the controversy over competing technologies today, this amazing fact - plus the fact that it can supply all that energy safely and without harm to the environment - should eventually carry the day, leaving other energy sources as bit players on the world stage.

5. Is energy storage - ie battery technology - one of the biggest things holding back renewables and widespread energy efficiency? Look at the intermittancy of wind power, the requirements of a "smart grid city", electric cards etc - surely decent energy storage could transform the economics of these industries. And when might/how the problem be solved? Mago Salas (and others)

Alvin Trivelpiece: An excellent source of technical information regarding batteries is the Wikipedia site.

Even so, it does not answer the implicit theme of the question. Namely, why not large-scale energy storage in batteries to capture energy from intermittent sources such as wind or solar for use at times when the energy is required by a consumer?

The use of batteries for energy storage is a matter of the application and its need for a source of energy. Standard small batteries for toys and other convenience devices such as flashlights are examples where the cost per kilowatt-hour is irrelevant. The consumer pays the asking price and discards them without additional cost. Some solar applications using battery storage make great sense. Remote applications in the middle of desert where the cost of transmission lines is greater than the cost of a solar panel with some battery storage system. Same reasoning applies for spacecraft applications.

For other applications, the three laws of thermodynamics and the rules of economics must be taken into account. A simplified version of thermodynamics is: (1) You can't win, (2) You can't even break even, and (3) You can't get out of the game.

This means that you have to take all costs from cradle to grave into account and see if you make money selling the energy at competitive price. If you can do this without any subsidy, then you don't have a sustainable situation.

Unfortunately, when this is done for batteries, with all factors taken into account, it doesn't seem to come out favorably. That is, taking into account the cost of the raw materials including whatever environmental remediation might be needed, the transport of these materials to the location where fabrication takes place, cost of fabrication and distribution, the cost of disposing of the batteries, including the cost of maintenance during their useful life, etc.

Any energy storage or distribution scheme that doesn't make net energy, without subsidies, is not likely to be sustainable. Subsidies are a good way to get some products developed and deployed, but at some point it is usually assumed that the subsidy can eventually be eliminated, or justified on some non-economic basis.

6. How far away is nuclear fusion? Is it a realistic goal? Mischa Hewitt (and others)

Robert Aymar: There is a popular view that fusion energy has been just over the horizon for decades and it has failed to deliver. This is false.

Fusion has always been a long-term project; scientific progress in magnetic confinement of plasmas has been impressive and quantitative performances, achieved in the successive experiments, have from 1975 done better than the well known Moore's law of digital technologies.

On this ground, seven among the largest countries in the world ( China, Europe, India, Japan, Russia, South-Korea, US) have decided on the strategy to pursue the development of fusion through international collaboration and are building together the large facility, called "ITER", the first burning plasma to produce after 2025 half a gigawatt of fusion power.

This device , a physics experiment and an experimental reactor, should demonstrate the scientific feasibility of fusion as an energy source; it should validate and optimise the parameters and develop the technologies for the following strategical step, an electricity generating demonstration reactor to evaluate economics of fusion, before a commercial power reactor can be designed. Each of these steps requires around 40 years for its design, construction and enough operation time to capitalise on its results. Unless there is an urgency to provide a faster track (and pay for more risk), it is unreasonable to assume a sensible amount of fusion generated electricity in the grid before the middle of this century.

The need for new energy sources by the end of the century is undisputed. Besides coal burning plants, with total sequestration of the CO2 produced, large electrical power plants will possibly rely only on nuclear fission or fusion. Magnetic fusion has many appealing features (unlimited fuel reserve, safety and environmental characteristics), and from present analysis, its potential for energy generation is real and ITER will bring an experimental confirmation.

7. Why has tidal energy not been employed on a large scale (similar to hydro) anywhere in the world ? Is it down to cost or lack of efficiency? The Doc (and others)

Klaus Riedle: Tidal power differs from other renewable sources, in that it offers predictable though still intermittent power with decent power densities at certain preferred locations like estuaries or tide channels. One of the main barriers to large scale use is the cost of the back-up needed due to the intermittency.

Tidal range technologies make use of large tide differences by blocking off an estuary or forming a tidal lagoon and using a conventional water turbine in the dam to generate power from the tides going in and out, much like in a river. A large plant in Brittany, La Rance, has been operating successfully since 1966. Specific cost can be taken from planned projects on the Severn, which have an estimated 120-year lifespan, with commercial discount rates to €0.1-0.2/kWh stated by the UK Sustainable Development Commission [Last month, the UK government scrapped the Severn barrage tidal project on financial grounds]. Environmental concerns, related to whether the barrage causes harm to the estuary, will be a significant obstacle to their implementation.

Slowly rotating, large axial turbines make use of tide stream velocities above 1 metre per second. Like offshore windmills, such turbines are fixed to the seabed or even to masts, to be lifted out of the water for maintenance. Several prototypes have being tested in recent years; some projects around the UK are under planning. Little information so far is available about generating cost; a UK Carbon Trust study gives a range of €0.12-0.18/kWh. Environmental concerns and the impact on fishing and sea transport have to be addressed, as for offshore windfarms.

As with the other renewables, public support for tidal power should go into further development and testing of prototypes allowing them to find their niche in the market, rather than continuously subsidising power generation.

8. What are the barriers in getting our reliance on oil and petrol transferred over to electricity/hydrogen? Matt Flynn

Marta Bonifert: Fossil fuel reserves - like oil, petrol and coal - have been depleted quite rapidly in the recent years. This fact and the need to reduce the green house gas emissions of anthropogenic origin (global climate change) drive the business and the governmental sector to utilise renewable energy resources on a much wider scale. The transfer is not easy – there are technical, political and last but not least economical barriers. The efficiency of the new technologies has to be improved, there is a need for moderating the costs and legislation should support these new energy resources. Further more we cannot forget that oil is not only an energy resource but we use it in various forms – even in the human heart as artificial plastic valve – when needed.

So it is a very complex question which has implication on the economy, the environment and the society at the same time. Electricity and hydrogen will most probably be used at larger increasing extent substituting traditional energy carriers but again the question is their resources: whether they will be produced from fossil or renewable.

But there is a much easier and available solution which immediately helps to combat climate change: energy saving and energy efficiency. Changing our way of life, taking actions perceived as difficult however with a simple move – eg switching off the lights when they are not needed – we together can do a lot for the environment and the future generation.

9. Is it really possible to justify the legacy of nuclear waste for countless generations while we continue to waste electricity so carelessly, on things like flashy advertising and keeping buildings lit at night? Surely this should only be considered as a very last resort, when we have finally given up all such inessential useage of energy? greghaddock (and others)

Pius N'gwandu: Something must be done now. We cannot afford to add to our plight the luxury of the proliferation of nuclear waste. Yet the evidence of the threat from nuclear waste does not show that it comes from the generation of nuclear energy. The threat rather comes from the stockpile of the arsenal of nuclear weapons accummulated by nations with such weapons. Moreover the data on the utilisation of World Energy Resources nuclear energy accounts for only 16%.

With the development of nuclear science and advances in nuclear reactor technology and the international jurisprudence developed by the IAEA safeguards and safety measures have been developed for the peaceful use of nuclear power. In Africa we we have substantial uranium resources which are being mined and exported by large transnational corporations.

Yet Africa suffers chronic shortages of energy which factor is a serious constraint to her development. International cooperation through the IAEA could reduce the danger for nuclear proliferation and dumping of nuclear waste by offering the latest technology in mining and mangement of thentire nuclear fuel cycle. Depleted uranium could be used to produce clean and safe energy

Other uses of nuclear technology would include nuclear medicine, eradication of pests and vectors such as mosquitoes and tsetse flies which spread diseases such as malaria and tripanosomiasis (SIT).

With the ominous prospects of mutual terror and extermination nations have no other rational choice but to learn fast to cooperate for the survival of the human species. Time is running out. We must move away from the self inflicted fear of nuclear energy. Let us combine knowledge, technology and the collective will to survive. Fifty years after President Eisenhower's speech on "atoms for peace", we must build the will to tame these atoms for peace, development and development.

10. What exactly is the carbon footprint of nuclear power (including uranium refining)? Dr Tim (and others)

We are awaiting an answer from the panel on this question, and hope to update this article later today.

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1. Could we support our current western lifestyle with only "renewable" energy?

No chance.

2. Do you agree with the US Joint Forces Command (JFC) that spare capacity in global oil production may very well disappear in 2012 and a shortfall of 10m barrels per day develop by 2015?

I do. Jimmy Carter recognized the impeding problems which America would face in the coming decades; hence the fake crisis, then the 'Gulf wars' and overt territory grab.

Mhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_Doctrine

3. The world's population is due to rise to 9 billion people. Can the planet supply the energy needed to achieve that end?

No. Not at current levels. Enforced disparity is the key to the west keeping on the lights.

4. I'm 25 years old. What's your best case scenario for the world's energy supply mix when I'm 75? What's your worst case scenario? And where you you think we'll actually be?

It will be vastly different world for the citizens of the UK who will be near 100% importers of energy, in far less than 50 years.

5. Is energy storage - ie battery technology - one of the biggest things holding back renewables and widespread energy efficiency? Look at the intermittancy of wind power, the requirements of a "smart grid city", electric cards etc - surely decent energy storage could transform the economics of these industries. And when might/how the problem be solved?

Batteries. The weak link is always going to be weak power conversion and inefficient and or highly toxic chemicals precursors to keep a steady current source.

6. How far away is nuclear fusion? Is it a realistic goal?

Won't happen anytime soon. We can't even get it working on paper. It won't be a priority until the oil cabal is in it's death throes.

7. Why has tidal energy not been employed on a large scale (similar to hydro) anywhere in the world ? Is it down to cost or lack of efficiency?

Same problem as all other environmentally driven power sources. Periods of null activity and the requirement for an alternative source.

8. What are the barriers in getting our reliance on oil and petrol transferred over to electricity/hydrogen?

Stupid question by non science types.... Sheesh. Energy is energy, in whatever form. 6 Gigajoules is a lot of energy, and that is from one barrel of oil.

9. Is it really possible to justify the legacy of nuclear waste for countless generations while we continue to waste electricity so carelessly, on things like flashy advertising and keeping buildings lit at night? Surely this should only be considered as a very last resort, when we have finally given up all such inessential useage of energy?

Nuclear waste is small potatoes. Easy to contain and put away somewhere where it will never be an issue outside of a global catastrophic event, and then it would be the least of our collective worries.

10. What exactly is the carbon footprint of nuclear power (including uranium refining)?

FFS. Carbon shmarbon.

This kind of questioning from the general population just amplifies how collectively stupid we are. No chance of a bright tomorrow.

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Saudi Production is in decline and Russian Production is plateauing with a steep fall ahead as it has only kept production up by drilling loads of infill wells. Export declines are even steeper as those two countries use more oil in their domestic economies.

I still haven't heard a credible explanation as to where the replacement oil is due to come from let alone what is going to fuel the expansion of china and india

There is new production coming on stream in Saudi but the production costs are 10 fold what they have been supplying. Sour vanadium contaminated heavy oil which is very tricky to handle and eats refinery pipework.

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1. Could we support our current western lifestyle with only "renewable" energy?

No chance.

Probably not, but eventually, within a few decades, renewables might be virtually the only dish on the menu., so we'll have to make do. If, for international political reasons, say, we don't have access to dwindling oil and gas supplies, or even uranium for nuclear power stations, we''l have to rely on renewables.

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From the article:

The need for new energy sources by the end of the century is undisputed. Besides coal burning plants, with total sequestration of the CO2 produced, large electrical power plants will possibly rely only on nuclear fission or fusion. Magnetic fusion has many appealing features (unlimited fuel reserve, safety and environmental characteristics), and from present analysis, its potential for energy generation is real and ITER will bring an experimental confirmation.

I don't understand the "fusion is our only hope for the future" argument.

We could cover a (small) fraction of the Sahara with Pv cells, crack water with the leccy, and use the resulting hydrogen to power the planet. Sure, it would cost a lot more than current energy sources - but the only important question is: would it cost more than fusion?

There's no energy shortage forcing us to use fusion - there's more than enough solar power to keep our civilisation going.

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From the article:

I don't understand the "fusion is our only hope for the future" argument.

We could cover a (small) fraction of the Sahara with Pv cells, crack water with the leccy, and use the resulting hydrogen to power the planet. Sure, it would cost a lot more than current energy sources - but the only important question is: would it cost more than fusion?

There's no energy shortage forcing us to use fusion - there's more than enough solar power to keep our civilisation going.

Nice idea but the capital and material requirements are astronomical.

Start working on a basis of £2000 / KW of capacity and approx 1500kwh output per KW per annum.

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The last of the oil will be used fighting for the last of the oil. Depleting reserves more quickly and destroying infrastructure in the process.

We are an oil based world economy. We are not ready for life without it.

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Nice idea but the capital and material requirements are astronomical.

Start working on a basis of £2000 / KW of capacity and approx 1500kwh output per KW per annum.

I never said that it would be cheap ;)

My point is that it is possible to power the world with solar - so the argument that we need fusion in order to avoid an energy crunch is invalid. There are alternatives.

(Whether or not it's the most cost-effective solution is another debate; once again, I'm just pointing out that "fusion is our only hope" is rubbish).

Edited by DeepLurker

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I'd rather we didn't wait til we were down to the last 5L of oil before deciding we should try something else...

We will be down to our last teaspoon full when we realise.

We aren't finding the likes of the Ghawar or Cantarell fields anymore as we did in the 70's.

We use about 80 million barrels of oil per day. And a barrel of oil is about 40 gallons.

That's a lot of oil.

So when our latest 'big' finds are 3 billion barrels.... That's not a lot....

Edited by Coldberry

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Saudi Production is in decline and Russian Production is plateauing with a steep fall ahead as it has only kept production up by drilling loads of infill wells. Export declines are even steeper as those two countries use more oil in their domestic economies.

I still haven't heard a credible explanation as to where the replacement oil is due to come from let alone what is going to fuel the expansion of china and india

There is new production coming on stream in Saudi but the production costs are 10 fold what they have been supplying. Sour vanadium contaminated heavy oil which is very tricky to handle and eats refinery pipework.

Always the defeatist.

Fossil fuels will be king until at least 2050 with production easily meeting demand. Coal gas and oil consumption will be higher 2020 than it is today.

The fossil fuels are all interchangeable directly and indirectly. It wouldn’t matter greatly if oil production didn’t grow much but gas/coal production grew 50%.

Now run along and read your unsustainable friends 4 thousandth post about not wanting babies

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We will be down to our last teaspoon full when we realise.

We aren't finding the likes of the Ghawar or Cantarell fields anymore as we did in the 70's.

We use about 80 million barrels of oil per day. And a barrel of oil is about 40 gallons.

That's a lot of oil.

So when our latest 'big' finds are 3 billion barrels.... That's not a lot....

I suspect most oil folk greatly understate their finds for political reasons.

Look at the north sea, its well past its original estimates.

BP is hardly going to say, you know what guys, there is still 50B barrels more down there cos UK PLC would increase the royalties from 50% to 75% before you can blink twice.

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This kind of questioning from the general population just amplifies how collectively stupid we are. No chance of a bright tomorrow.

I've read all of the questions that were submitted on the Guardian site, including all of the ones they chose not to answer.

There were many highly intelligent and searching questions that the panel chose not to answer, instead choosing the easy ones.

The question is why?

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The last of the oil will be used fighting for the last of the oil. Depleting reserves more quickly and destroying infrastructure in the process.

We are an oil based world economy. We are not ready for life without it.

With nearly 7 billion, a small fraction of whom enjoy a western lifestyle and a large fraction of whom would like to, we are not capable of life without it

Edited by tallguy

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From the article:

I don't understand the "fusion is our only hope for the future" argument.

We could cover a (small) fraction of the Sahara with Pv cells, crack water with the leccy, and use the resulting hydrogen to power the planet. Sure, it would cost a lot more than current energy sources - but the only important question is: would it cost more than fusion?

There's no energy shortage forcing us to use fusion - there's more than enough solar power to keep our civilisation going.

I thought the problem with solar was the cells only last for around 10-20 years then become very inefficient? Hence due to the replacement cost it's not economically viable, otherwise they could just plaster deserts with solar cells as a one time project to benefit humanity.

Besides it seems fast breed reactors are the obvious solution as you can see in this article, besides which I already knew they were (99% efficiency vs much less for water reactors). The guy said a person in a developed country will only use half a ping pong ball worth of uranium, that's probably $3,000-4,000 worth at current prices?

Pretty cheap. Compare that to the amount of coal needed for one person, it would be a whole mountain side worth.

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I thought the problem with solar was the cells only last for around 10-20 years then become very inefficient? Hence due to the replacement cost it's not economically viable, otherwise they could just plaster deserts with solar cells as a one time project to benefit humanity.

Besides it seems fast breed reactors are the obvious solution as you can see in this article, besides which I already knew they were (99% efficiency vs much less for water reactors). The guy said a person in a developed country will only use half a ping pong ball worth of uranium, that's probably $3,000-4,000 worth at current prices?

Pretty cheap. Compare that to the amount of coal needed for one person, it would be a whole mountain side worth.

The cells degrade gradually. The ones I have are guaranteed to exceed their rated output for 25 years.

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I thought the problem with solar was the cells only last for around 10-20 years then become very inefficient? Hence due to the replacement cost it's not economically viable, otherwise they could just plaster deserts with solar cells as a one time project to benefit humanity.

Besides it seems fast breed reactors are the obvious solution as you can see in this article, besides which I already knew they were (99% efficiency vs much less for water reactors). The guy said a person in a developed country will only use half a ping pong ball worth of uranium, that's probably $3,000-4,000 worth at current prices?

Pretty cheap. Compare that to the amount of coal needed for one person, it would be a whole mountain side worth.

There's many different types of solar.

The most efficient solar system ever developed (to present) does not use solar cells. It consists of a concave mirror that focuses concentrated sunlight to a Sterling engine. No solar cell involved.

I believe that California has ordered around 500 MW of these systems.

Edited by Toto deVeer

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There are studies under way in South Africa looking to build power plants in the Namibian desert that consist of a glass enclosed base with a high central stack containing turbines. The sunlight heats the base, causing air to rise through the turbines generating electricity.

Lots and lots of different options on the table. Just takes the will to do it.

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Always the defeatist.

Fossil fuels will be king until at least 2050 with production easily meeting demand. Coal gas and oil consumption will be higher 2020 than it is today.

...

It's quite possible that consumption coule be higher in 2020. Probable even. But what would be the EROEI of these FF's in 2020 and beyond? If it's 20 now and 10 in the 2020s then we're still being slowly choked to economic death by rising energy prices. Having to resort to oil from tar sands and deep water wells, mine ever deeper coal, get gas from shales, etc.

EROEI is hardly every mentioned in these debates, only raw output figures, which are about half the story.

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The amount of investment and the number of research startups looking at Algal Oil, suggest to me that this will be the winner by 2025. The technology is advancing rapidly, and it will be a matter of a few years before a durable high yielding strain is ready to be produced globally on a franchise basis. Scale up will take maybe 5 years to a decade, but the potential is limitless. Algae is effectively the most efficient battery for solar that exists, and can be converted into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel without addition of conventional Oil. It can be transported using the existing infrastructure, is carbon neutral and requires very small amounts of fertiliser.

Peak Oilers who bang on about the unique properties of Oil being irreplaceable are plain wrong. If a car can be made to run on chip fat, then Oil isn't that unique. I admit that there will be a period where we may suffer hardship due to the rising cost of Oil, but I am convinced that Algae will meet the transport fuel needs of the future, while Gas, nuclear and renewables will meet the power generating needs. Growing algae could even become a cottage industry.

Those who say it's not possible remind me of a friend who I did my Ph.D. with in Southampton chemistry department. He was studying LCD technology back in the early 90s. He said the best they would ever produce would be specialist black and white screens for laptops. He said that colour was impossible...impossible, and he was doing a Ph.D. in liquid crystal chemistry at a leading University. we are already on the threshold of producing high quality algae...in other words we are already a lot further along in this technological race than my LCD example, so I am certain that before long (2015ish) we will hear the US military will be getting as much as 50% of their fuel from algae, this will then be followed by a wider role out.

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The amount of investment and the number of research startups looking at Algal Oil, suggest to me that this will be the winner by 2025. The technology is advancing rapidly, and it will be a matter of a few years before a durable high yielding strain is ready to be produced globally on a franchise basis. Scale up will take maybe 5 years to a decade, but the potential is limitless. Algae is effectively the most efficient battery for solar that exists, and can be converted into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel without addition of conventional Oil. It can be transported using the existing infrastructure, is carbon neutral and requires very small amounts of fertiliser.

Peak Oilers who bang on about the unique properties of Oil being irreplaceable are plain wrong. If a car can be made to run on chip fat, then Oil isn't that unique. I admit that there will be a period where we may suffer hardship due to the rising cost of Oil, but I am convinced that Algae will meet the transport fuel needs of the future, while Gas, nuclear and renewables will meet the power generating needs. Growing algae could even become a cottage industry.

Those who say it's not possible remind me of a friend who I did my Ph.D. with in Southampton chemistry department. He was studying LCD technology back in the early 90s. He said the best they would ever produce would be specialist black and white screens for laptops. He said that colour was impossible...impossible, and he was doing a Ph.D. in liquid crystal chemistry at a leading University. we are already on the threshold of producing high quality algae...in other words we are already a lot further along in this technological race than my LCD example, so I am certain that before long (2015ish) we will hear the US military will be getting as much as 50% of their fuel from algae, this will then be followed by a wider role out.

As a liquid fuel replacement you could be correct - it is certainly a better prospect than any other biofuel. As a general energy replacement it would probably still be more expensive than nuclear power.

As far as oil being irreplaceable.. in a scientific sense this is always going to be incorrect. Technically, as long as we have an energy source with positive ERORI, anything else can be done with a bit of synthetic chemistry. However, in shorter time frames (i.e. <5 years) we are highly dependant on fossil oil, and by extension on a small group of middle eastern countries. And that 5 years will keep rolling over unless we actually do something about it.

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As a liquid fuel replacement you could be correct - it is certainly a better prospect than any other biofuel. As a general energy replacement it would probably still be more expensive than nuclear power.

As far as oil being irreplaceable.. in a scientific sense this is always going to be incorrect. Technically, as long as we have an energy source with positive ERORI, anything else can be done with a bit of synthetic chemistry. However, in shorter time frames (i.e. <5 years) we are highly dependant on fossil oil, and by extension on a small group of middle eastern countries. And that 5 years will keep rolling over unless we actually do something about it.

I agree that in the short term there is lkely to be an oil "crunch" resulting in a potential show down between the consuming powers over the oil in the middle East (although to a large extent that may already have happened since the US now has Iraq). Those on the margins will be those that suffer the most during any transition period. We in the wealthy world might buy less TVs and go on fewer overseas trips, but the UK will not turn into some Mad Max style wasteland. I don't agree with your point about the 5 years keep rolling over though, too much money has already gone into Algal Oil to turn the clock back and abandon including big money from the likes of Exon who see it as a potentially cheaper way of producing liquid fuel once all the cheap fossil oil is depleted. Instead of drawing the oil out of the ground, it will grown on useless scrubland in verticle sheets, but it will still be refined and distrubuted using existing networks owned by the majors. Also there is a lot of competition in this area meaning that innovation wil be faster. I am bearish about many things, but not about our ability to get out of the looming energy crisis.

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Always the defeatist.

Fossil fuels will be king until at least 2050 with production easily meeting demand. Coal gas and oil consumption will be higher 2020 than it is today.

The fossil fuels are all interchangeable directly and indirectly. It wouldn’t matter greatly if oil production didn’t grow much but gas/coal production grew 50%.

Now run along and read your unsustainable friends 4 thousandth post about not wanting babies

You pillock - I never suggested anywhere in my post that FF wouldn't be king. I was simply doubting the availability of new supplies to replacing depleting fields and meet the demand from the developing world at current prices.

Now run along and go back to servicing swimming pool heat exchangers or whatever it is you do :lol:

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  • 259 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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