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PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 3B – Will Renewable Energy Sources Save the Day? Robert Bériault.

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Presentation on theme: "PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 3B – Will Renewable Energy Sources Save the Day? Robert Bériault."— Presentation transcript:

1 PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 3B – Will Renewable Energy Sources Save the Day? Robert Bériault

2 What about the hydrogen economy Earthlings talk so much about?

3 A hydrogen economy : What would it entail? Is it feasible?

4 The idea is to replace the oil used in transportation with hydrogen. This would require building: 800 million fuel-cell operated cars The wind farms or photovoltaic arrays to produce renewable electricity The infrastructure to produce liquid hydrogen, to store it and to transport it to the consumer Hydrogen stations to replace present gas stations.

5 A hydrogen economy would also have to include, trucking, air and sea travel.

6 Advantages of hydrogen: Could be produced from wind, solar, hydro or nuclear sources Clean-burning. Water is its only product of combustion Portable: Might be the most practical way to carry electricity to drive vehicles

7 Problems with hydrogen - 1 Physical characteristics: 10 X more flammable than gasoline Its explosive range is 20 X greater than that of gasoline Very little energy by volume (requires huge tanks) Flame is invisible Small size of hydrogen molecule leaks easily It is also very corrosive (pipe connections, valves, seals, etc.)

8 Problems with hydrogen - 2 Both forms of storage are problematic Exxon-Mobil Report, Oct When carried as a liquid it is more practical for transport. BUT IT RESULTS IN: a 30% loss through the liquefaction process + a 1.7% evaporation loss per day When carried as a gas it must be under very high pressure (10,000 – 20,000 lbs / sq. in.) or Compressed hydrogen for use in busses Liquid hydrogen for use in cars

9 Problems with hydrogen - 2 Both forms of storage are problematic Exxon-Mobil Report, Oct Either way, with a hydrogen vehicle youd have to forget about parking indoors

10 Problems with hydrogen - 2 Transportation to filling stations would be problematic To carry the same equivalent energy to the filling station would require 21 times more trucks than for gasoline* Just imagine how many hydrogen tankers would be roaming the roadways in search of accidents! = * The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak?, Baldur Eliasson and Ulf Bossel, ABB Switzerland Ltd.

11 Problems with hydrogen - 3 Hydrogen leakage would be similar to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) Could indirectly cause as much as a 10-percent decrease in atmospheric ozone Scientists are uncertain about the effects on the atmosphere because they still have a limited understanding of the hydrogen cycle. California Institute of Technology June 12, 2003 If hydrogen were to replace fossil fuels entirely: Effect on ozone layer

12 Problems with hydrogen - 4 There are no exploitable underground sources of hydrogen It takes more energy to produce hydrogen than what the resulting hydrogen will yield – always* Not an energy source, but an energy carrier: Why? – because the process creates a waste product: heat (heat energy) Blame the laws of thermodynamics! * The Partys Over: Oil, War and the Fate if Industrial Societies, Richard Heinberg

13 Problems with hydrogen - 5 Fuel cell technology for cars is still under development We might have to resort to using the hydrogen directly as fuel in internal combustion engines Technology not ready:

14 Problems with hydrogen - 6 Virtually all commercial hydrogen is made by natural gas reforming or by gasification of coal. * The infrastructure for large scale production by electrolysis of water from wind or solar would have to be built from scratch. * Mr. D.R. Simbeck, Vice President Technology, SFA Pacific, Inc., Mountain View, CA

15 Problems with hydrogen - 7 Infrastructure cost: To convert from a gasoline to a hydrogen infrastructure would require massive amounts of : EnergyCapital

16 You can see that hydrogen made from water is much more expensive Exxon-Mobil Report, Oct. 2004

17 What necessities would you have to do without if a fill-up cost $400?

18 Problems with hydrogen - 8 It just doesnt make economic sense because natural gas is so cheap Will it ever make economic sense? No commercial hydrogen is made from wind or solar energy today:

19 When gas and oil get expensive: Rather than going hydrogen, it will probably always make more economic sense to: Buy a smaller gasoline car Walk Cycle Take public transit

20 James Howard Kunstler has this to say about hydrogen: The widespread belief that hydrogen is going to save technological society from the fast- approaching oil and gas reckoning is probably a good index of how delusional our oil- addicted society has become. The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler

21 Some analysts conclude that: a HYDROGEN ECONOMY will never be economically feasible

22 Theres a lot of news about ethanol in your newspapers. Couldnt ethanol replace gasoline?

23 Growing our fuel…

24 For one thing, Growing corn to make ethanol takes a lot of cropland out of food production

25 Lets suppose Americans work like mad between now and 2020: …and switched all of their 300 million cars to corn-derived ethanol… Take a guess at how much land it would take to grow the corn!

26 Red portion = area required for replacing US gasoline needs for 2020 Exxon-Mobil Report, Oct Today, cropland makes up 19% of all the land in the United States

27 In a world of declining per capita grain production, is it wise to create another use for farmland?

28 Taking land out of food production: According to Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute: U.S. automakers push for vehicles able to run on ethanol made from corn will boost food costs and global hunger…The vast number of distilleries in operation and in the planning stages threatens to reduce grain available for direct human consumption.

29 And heres another thing about ethanol-from-corn: The Energy Return On Energy Invested is low (1.7 to 1). It takes almost as much energy to grow the corn and process the ethanol than the energy we can derive from the ethanol.

30 Some energy analysts say: … we might as well chase our tails!!! If were going to make corn-derived ethanol fuel…

31 What about the company in your natal city that produces antoher kind of alcohol?

32 Ah!, what youre referring to is cellulosic alcohol – ethanol made from cellulose, the fibrous part of plants like stems, branches and trunks. It differs from grain alcohol in that it requires a greater amount of processing to make the sugar monomers available to the microorganisms that are typically used to produce ethanol by fermentation. But there are more serious drawbacks than this…

33 To find out what they are, I recommend viewing the DVD: By David Fridley:

34 OK, then, what about that diesel fuel you can make from those little green creatures?

35 What youre referring to is biodiesel from algae: You can find some interesting papers on the internet about how fantastic this still-to-be- developed technology will be. If you believe the claims, for a fraction of the cost of one years imports, the USA could build facilities to replace all of the countrys liquid fuel needs. Scientist examines a flask of oil produced from algae

36 Biodiesel from algae: The procedure would use liquid waste streams from farms and municipal sewage on which they would grow oil-producing algae. The oil could be burned directly in diesel engines if supplemented with 10% methanol. Botryococcus, an oil producing green alga Michael Briggs, University of New Hampshire, Physics Dept.

37 Biodiesel from algae: If something is too good to be true… …draw your own conclusions Oil from algae has only been produced under laboratory conditions. It cannot be scaled up to industrial production.

38 I saw some solar panels from my spaceship. Couldnt they solve the oil crisis? I hear they can be used to make hydrogen

39 Photovoltaic (solar) panels convert sunlight directly into electricity

40 Advantages: Quiet operation Quiet operation Can be placed on rooftops, close to point of use Can be placed on rooftops, close to point of use Little maintenance except for washing and de-icing Little maintenance except for washing and de-icing US General Services Admin., Pacific Rim Region

41 Problems With Photovoltaics - 1 Solar panels take up a lot of surface area To replace 1 nuclear reactor would take 75 sq. km of solar panels in southern Canada

42 Problems With Photovoltaics - 2 1) When its cloudy (think of November And December) They dont work: 2) When its dark

43 Problems With Photovoltaics - 3 The electricity produced cant be used in transportation …unless converted into a fuel

44 Problems With Photovoltaics - 4 Electricity from solar panels presently costs 57¢ per KWH* vs. 6¢ for electricity from coal or hydro A lot more expensive than what were used to spending: *

45 The big difficulty with photovoltaics is that there is no cheap way to store the electricity during the day… …so that we have power to run the lights during the night.

46 One way we could get around this would be to convert surplus solar electricity into hydrogen during the day -- and then convert the hydrogen back into electricity at night. Solar electricityHydrogenElectricity

47 The problem with doing this, is that in each step of the conversion process, we lose some of the energy through waste heat. Those darned laws of thermodynamics come into play!

48 Here is an example of the energy losses that can be encountered at each step of the way: * The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak? Baldur Eliasson and Ulf Bossel ABB Switzerland Ltd., Corporate Research, Baden-Dättwil / Switzerland ** Exxon-Mobil Report, Oct Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Developers Claim 50% Efficiency I.H.S. Petrochemicals Fuel Cell Efficiency: A Reality Check, E.V. World Overview of the Electric Grid, U.S. Department of Energy Solar panel produces electricity Hydrogen is lost through storage & transportation Fuel cell converts hydrogen back to electricity Transformation & transmission Consumer 25%* Energy losses: 15%**20% 10% Solar power is used to make hydrogen by electrolysis Hydrogen is liquefied for storing 30%*

49 Because of efficiency losses the 57¢ per KWH cost increases to $1.77 per KWH !!!* *Calculations of cost by author Solar panel produces electricity Hydrogen is lost through storage & transportation Fuel cell converts hydrogen back to electricity Transformation & transmission Consumer 25%* Energy losses: 15%**20% 10% Solar power is used to make hydrogen by electrolysis Hydrogen is liquefied for storing 30%*

50 Canadians presently pay between 5¢ and 8¢ per KWH By this calculation, your $100 a month hydro bill would climb to $2700!!! And in my calculations I used the most optimistic numbers!

51 Problems With Photovoltaics - 5 At the 45 th latitude solar panels need to run 5 years to pay back energy used in their manufacturing.

52 Its not likely that in the future we will ever be able to make replacement solar panels from the energy generated by solar panels.

53 The cost of making solar panels depends very much on the cost of energy. So they will become much more expensive.

54 It was very windy when I landed here. Why doesnt Canada invest in wind energy? You could have wind farms all over the place.

55 Advantages of wind power: Price almost competitive with fossil fuels. Many suitable sites in Canada Non-polluting once the infrastructure is in place The resource is renewable Large potential

56 Problems with wind power - 1 Erratic supply – Wind mills dont run when: 1- The wind is too strong 2- The wind is too weak

57 Problems with wind power - 2 Erratic supply – affects the price per KWH Wind mills are rated according to their peak production in an ideal wind. The actual power produced from a wind farm over a year will only be 16% to 35% of the peak rated capacity. i.e.: A 1000 Megawatt array would produce an average of 250 Megawatts average over a year

58 Problems with wind power - 3 Off-periods require having a fossil fuel backup In other words, you always have to have a fuel power station on standby for windless periods. we will still need: we will still need: On windless days: On windless days:

59 Problems with wind power - 3 So wind farms wont reduce the size of our fossil fuel infrastructure.

60 Problems with wind power - 4 Excess power cant easily be stored It could be stored in the form of liquid hydrogen or by pumping water up into reservoirs, but the infrastructure has yet to be built. Other methods of storage might be possible, subject to research.

61 Problems with wind power - 5 Not suitable for transportation, with 2 exceptions: 1- Every KWH of power you produce with wind means 1 KWH you dont need to produce with oil or gas. The oil or gas thus saved could be used in transportation. 2- Its electricity could be used to produce liquid hydrogen for transportation, but it would be extremely expensive.

62 Energy analysts say: Wind is the most cost-effective renewable source after hydro They recommend investing heavily in wind farms now while oil is cheap

63 What about that cute little compressed air car? You could use solar or wind energy to generate the electricity to compress the air.

64 About eight horsepower of electricity are used to generate one horsepower of compressed air.* Is this a wise use of expensive solar or wind energy? Is it affordable? And what about all those barrels of oil that are required to build the car in the first place? * Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

65 Finally, good old reliable hydro power: Two major drawbacks…

66 1) Hydro dams disrupt the natural topography, fauna and flora

67 2) Silt accumulates behind the dams, rendering the reservoirs useless within a few centuries

68 3) Flooding of rivers destroys their value for water sports forever

69 Perhaps you suspect that weve going too far in exploiting the Earths resources. Read about how a past society did as we are doing, in Chapter 4. Click icon for Chapter choice

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