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The End of Cheap Energy August 27, 2010 Fred Duennebier Emeritus Prof. Geology & Geophysics UH Manoa G & G TGIF Seminar.

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Presentation on theme: "The End of Cheap Energy August 27, 2010 Fred Duennebier Emeritus Prof. Geology & Geophysics UH Manoa G & G TGIF Seminar."— Presentation transcript:

1 The End of Cheap Energy August 27, 2010 Fred Duennebier Emeritus Prof. Geology & Geophysics UH Manoa G & G TGIF Seminar


3 Special Thanks To every one for their input and frank discussions. To all those who are seriously dedicated to finding solutions before its too late. Good luck. To my family for their patient support.

4 The END of cheap ENERGY? Why is this important? What makes Oil so important? What about alternatives? The Future - Sustainability - When might transition start?

5 ONE VIEW: "The technology at hand to tap the planet's vast energy resources is … improving faster than ever. We can economically dig, dam, pump, and purify all the energy we like." January, 2006, Preface, The Bottomless Well, Huber and Mills

6 ANOTHER VIEW:"Petroleum geologists have known for 50 years that global oil production would "peak" and begin its inevitable decline within a decade of the year 2000. Moreover, no renewable energy systems have the potential to generate more than a tiny fraction of the power now being generated by fossil fuels."


8 Peak Oil Since I was born, the rate of oil production has increased ten-fold. Hubbert’s Peak

9 Will production drop soon? Has enough new oil been discovered to keep up the supply? When production begins to decline we will be at “peak oil”.

10 Why is oil so important? FACT: Oil supplies about 90% of the energy we use in Hawaii, and about 97% of the USA’s transportation energy. CLAIM: Survival of civilization, except for the most primitive societies, now depends on the availability of cheap energy for our support systems.

11 cheap Every American uses the energy equivalent of about 150 "servants" working 24-7. Everything is cheap today because oil is cheap. Human muscle supplies less than 0.2% of the energy used in the economy. We can't support ourselves without cheap energy.

12 One person can perform useful work at a rate of about 1 KWh per day - about what’s required to keep a 100 W light bulb going for 10 hours. We pay about 25¢ per KWh for electricity on Oahu - so we get the equivalent energy of a hard-working person for 25¢ per day. What makes me say that energy is cheap ?

13 Energy and Power Power = energy per unit time 1 Watt= 1 kg m /s 3 = 1 Joule/s Energy = kW h (kiloWatt hour) 1 KWh/day is a good reference - one person

14 People Power has been replaced by fossil power

15 Big deal! We can ride bikes instead of cars, change our lights to CFLs, turn down the air conditioner, use electric cars….. Not so fast… Doing lots of little things might end up doing very little to solve the problem.

16 Modern agriculture requires more than ten units of fossil fuel energy for every unit of energy eaten. Take away fossil fuels, and productivity will decrease greatly. “Soil is the catalyst used to turn oil into food.”

17 About 85% of our food and staples come to Hawaii on ships that burn oil. The average North American meal travels 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate.


19 Maintenance of Infrastructure requires energy

20 About 80% of Hawaii’s electricty is generated from oil.

21 A basic premise of this talk is that petroleum will not be able to meet our energy needs for long after we hit peak oil. After that time the supply will DECREASE and will no longer be able to meet the demand for energy.

22 Hawaii imports the energy equivalent of about 1 million barrels of oil per week. At 1,700 kWh/ barrel of oil, that's the equivalent energy supplied by about 250,000,000 people working HARD. AND we pay more than $5 BILLION/YR for fossil fuels, about the cost of rail…

23 CAN WE REPLACE OIL? Without oil or a large supply of other cheap fuels, we will have serious difficulties finding (or affording) enough energy to maintain our current lifestyle! What alternatives are there?

24 What are the qualities of a “GOOD” energy resource? Lots of it, widespread - solar Renewable - like trees, OTEC High energy density - like nuclear Low price - like natural gas Low cost-of-use - like oil High net energy - ?? Easy to transport - like oil Easy to store - like oil Always available - like oil Safe - like OTEC Environmentally friendly - like geothermal Secure - like solar

25 Can “unconventional” sources of fossil fuels satisfy our liquid fuel needs? Tar sands Oil shale Natural Gas Liquids Oil from Coal

26 Mountain Topping to get at coal

27 Over 700 miles of Appalachian streams have been ruined already in coal mining.

28 Peak Coal: 2023 Do we have enough coal?

29 DOE Estimate of Global COAL Production (2009) Peak in 2011



32 What about non-fossil alternative sources of Energy? At LEAST one "good" energy resource is needed that has a large NET ENERGY. Do any alternatives have the energy density, portability, storability, convenience, and profit margin of oil?

33 What is Net Energy?? Every living thing must find more energy than it consumes or perish. Excess energy is used for growth or is stored. Net energy is the energy available minus the energy invested to get it. Some people use ERoEI instead: ERoEI=Energy obtained/Energy invested Net Energy = EO - EI = (EROEI - 1), if EI=1

34 What?…. Consider Your Budget: Gross Income Net Income= Gross - taxes Fixed Costs Luxuries If your net income is greater than your fixed costs, you can take that vacation to Hawaii.

35 Consider the Energy Budget Gross Income: Total energy in the fuel supply Taxes: Energy needed to produce and deliver Net Income= Net Energy: what’s left to be used Fixed Costs: Energy necessary to sustain civilization Luxuries: Energy needed for economic growth If energy net <= Fixed costs, NO GROWTH


37 SOLAR all fossil fuels, PV, wind, passive solar, OTEC, hydro, wave, …. GEOTHERMAL - heat in the earth NUCLEAR - [solar], fission, fusion PLANETARY MOTION - tides BASIC sources of energy: Let's look at various sources and see how they might satisfy the demand.

38 George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address: "A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy which can be used to power a car, producing only water, not exhaust fumes… "The first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution-free." but… let's dig a bit deeper. HYDROGEN

39 Hydrogen fuel does not exist in nature. All the hydrogen is tightly bound to other elements - like oxygen (H 2 O). Making hydrogen FUEL requires energy to pull the hydrogen away from whatever it is attached to. About 80% of hydrogen fuel is generated from natural gas by heating it. Hydrogen fuel can be generated directly from water by hydrolysis.


41 Hydrogen fuel may be an excellent way to store energy. It's equivalent to a charged battery. But, hydrogen is NOT an energy source. The energy to produce hydrogen - or any fuel - MUST come from a source that has a net energy much greater than 0. Other alternatives?


43 Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Target: using energy efficiency and renewable resources to supply 70% or more of Hawai’i’s energy needs by 2030. In THEORY, there is a large enough renewable energy resource in Hawaii to satisfy all of our electrical needs.

44 The Sopogy Thermal Solar Array at Keahole generates 2 mW on 3.8 acres in the Mohave desert. It would take more than 800 of these to generate Oahu's current electricity capacity on 3,200 acres, BUT the sun doesn't always shine… STORAGE, EQUALIZATION

45 Hot Oil Energy Storage

46 Photovoltaic (PV) Can advances in direct solar energy devices make them contenders in the energy picture? Recent thin-film technology is very promising and production could double today's total generation capacity within two years. This PV array on Kauai can generate 700,000 KWh anually. Less than 2 KWh/panel /day

47 Optimistic numbers suggest ~0.5 KWh/day /KW installed 50@ 1.5 MW Wind Turbines are located on the slopes of west Maui

48 Puna Geothermal produces 30 MegaWatts, or 720 MWh/day, and its ALWAYS available.

49 Can "biomass" schemes for using plants to create liquid fuels be scaled up to the level needed to make a difference? These schemes use oil and gas "inputs" (fertilizers, weed-killers, machines) to grow the biomass crops to be converted into ethanol or bio- diesel fuels. Is there a net energy "profit"?

50 Biomass for ethanol production corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

51 for biodiesel production, soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced. Algae?

52 Oil Palm Plantation

53 10 MW OTEC Pilot Plant To be installed 2013

54 NUCLEAR ? Using current technology (fission) we would need 2 new 1 GWatt plants to satisfy Hawaii’s current electrical and heating (oil and gas) needs. Nuclear may be the only way to keep the lights on.

55 FUSION? Chuck Helsley, a former Director of HIGP, is working hard on fusion. IF they can get funding, and IF all goes well, he thinks they can have their first plant in 10 years. But - not likely in the USA…

56 Pelamis 750 KW

57 Do Energy Conservation and Improved Efficiency Help? Certainly they don't hurt, but they can't solve the problem.

58 In his 1865 book T he Coal Question. In it, William Stanley Jevons argued that increases in efficiency in the use of coal would tend to increase the use of coal. Hence, it would tend to increase, rather than reduce, the rate at which England ’ s deposits of coal were being depleted. Jevons Paradox

59 Mass Transportation can help, but it requires a large user base and change in mindset.

60 Examples of energy use - How much energy do our major users require?

61 2,100 acres of PV cells + storage almost twice the perimeter of Oahu in wave energy + storage OTEC: 17 @ 100 mW plants Geothermal: 68 @ 30 mW Geothermal plants Nuclear: 2 @ 1 GW plant 1,133 @ 1.50 mW wind generators + storage 1,556,656 acres of sugar cane To supply Oahu's current electricity needs (1,700 MW capacity) would take:

62 There are more than 700,000 vehicles registered in Hawaii. Each uses about 40 KWh/day, that comes to a total of ~20M KWh/day.

63 To switch from using gasoline to grid electricity in our vehicles would demand that the generating capacity on Oahu would need to increase by ~50%. Batteries cost ~$30,000 Electric cars??

64 To fly a 747 to Hawaii from California would require the energy equivalent of: 5 1/2 days of one Maui wind generator energy at full capacity 25 minutes of an OTEC plant energy 44 acres of sugar cane (ethanol) 468 acres of corn (ethanol) 25 acres of soy (biodiesel) 1 gallon/sec; (13,000 kWhr)/5.5 hr flight

65 BUT Airplanes can't fly on electricity (yet). To store the energy needed to fly a 747 for one hour in lithium ion batteries would require batteries weighing 5 times the weight of the plane.

66 To fuel a container ship from California to Hawaii requires: 1 day of OTEC plant 71 days of Maui wind generator time 247 acres of sugar cane 468 acres of corn 157 acres of soy 4 days of geothermal energy

67 Development of alternatives to oil will require (among other things) energy storage systems - batteries - fuel cells distribution systems infrastructure transition new energy sources and technologies construction of large plants carbon sequestration if coal or natural gas used



70 Cheap energy has made the population explosion possible. The expansion of human civilization is strongly linked to access to cheap, high-quality energy sources. World now uses ~13 trillionWatts, roughly 1,000 barrels of oil per second.

71 How much time do we have?


73 WHAT IS BEING DONE TO REPLACE OIL? We spend more money every ten minutes buying gasoline than we do on alternative energy R&D each year. The NIH gets a yearly budget increase greater than the whole annual budget of the Department of Energy.

74 Governments the world over provided around $45 billion to renewable energy technologies in 2009. BUT…. Fossil fuel subsidies got $557 billion in 2008, reported the International Energy Agency.*

75 Hawaii’s energy initiative of 1977 projected that we should be free of oil by 2010. Since then, our use of oil has risen by about 40%.

76 The US Navy has an initiative to cut oil use in vehicles by 50% by 2015. The US military says: “Bt 2012, the surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels/day.”


78 GREENWASHING In MY opinion: Many of the efforts in “green” renewable energy prospects are motivated by potential for profit - not the need for change. Much of the hype implies that the problem is solvable or solved. Some of these projects might even work, but which ones? Nearly all alternatives have an achille’s heal - cost, scalability, net energy, dependence on other resources, etc.

79 Peak Oil Task Force

80 geologic time 1 million years 1 second Earth history compresses into 75 minutes (Your fingernails grow 50 miles in 1 sec) Nature took about 10 minutes to store all the fossil fuels in the earth. We will burn most of it in less time than it takes to explode a firecracker.

81 Most of the people alive today will see the end of the oil age.

82 SUMMARY No alternative or combination of alternative energy sources can replace oil without a huge development effort - and it isn’t obvious that ANYTHING will replace oil. Civilization without cheap energy will be much different than it is today. Does civilization have the incentive to develop new energy sources while there's still time and energy available? At the very least, there will likely be a serious gap in energy available starting soon.

83 Modern Arab saying: “My grandfather drove a camel, my father drove a Ford, I fly a jet plane, my son will drive a camel.”

84 What's the most critical problem facing humanity? Probably not energy Not the economy Not food supply Not the environment Not global climate change…. All of these would be mitigated if we could only control

85 HUMAN POPULATION “If we don’t control the earth’s population, nature will do it for us, and nature will have no pity.* Nature will NOT honor your rights to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. *heard on broadcast of Nobel Debate on Technology, MIT president’s speech

86 MAHALO ! OIL We’re out of time….

87 MORE? Google: "peak oil" "peak oil books" and

88 ERoEI ERoEI MUST be greater than 1 to supply ANY net energy. All energy storage processes - charging batteries, making hydrogen fuel, etc. REQUIRE energy (ERoEI < 1)

89 The United States is more dependent on oil than any other country, and Hawaii is more dependent on oil than any other state. Hawaii is the “canary in the coal mine” for peak oil.

90 What is sustainability? Something is ecologically sustainable if it doesn ’ t destroy the environmental preconditions for its own existence. The goal of most sustainability efforts is to sustain our current society with minimal disruption and pain. “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please.” Mark Twain

91 sustainability When conditions are changing rapidly, the probability of reliably forecasting the future is very low.


93 What can we expect in the future?

94 Before getting deeper into the problem, we need to understand the difference between energy and power. Energy is the stuff matter has that allows it to be used to do work. The spin of a wheel, heat of the sun, movement of water, chemistry of fuels, etc.

95 POWER is the amount of energy being used per unit time. Power is measured in Watts, or kiloWatts (kW: 1000 Watts), and a useful unit of energy is the kW-hour (kWh), or the amount of energy used in an hour if the power is 1 KW. One kWh of electricity costs about 25¢ on Oahu. One kWh/day is equivalent to a single 40 W light bulb burning all day.

96 One person doing heavy work burns about 1 kWh/day. Thus if you personally use 10 kWh/day, you have the equivalent of 10 "servants" working for you. So… You get the electrical energy equivalent of one hard-working person at a cost of 25¢ per day, or $7.50 per month. ! CHEAP !

97 Pie in the sky This is the future that we’ve all been conditioned to expect, with a strong requirement for and dependence on cheap energy.

98 Optimistic Local, self-sustaining, low-energy communities [who makes the bicycles?]

99 Worst Case Complete collapse of civilization as we know it

100 population “If we don’t control the earth’s population, nature will do it for us, and nature will have no pity.”* World population is growing by ~ 80 million people per year; 99% of the growth is in developing countries. USA now has over 300,000,000 people. At this low rate, (~1.3%) the population of the world DOUBLES about every 53 years. *heard on broadcast of Nobel Debate on Technology, MIT president’s speech

101 The red patch in this California Google Earth image is Lake Tahoe. All of the oil still in the Earth would fit in Lake Tahoe. San Francisco

102 Population and demand for energy and other resources is growing. Can the earth support this growth? Is growth sustainable?

103 Biological populations, like yeast, increase until resources necessary to sustain the population are no longer available, until the environment is poisoned, or until parasites, disease, competition or predation limit the population. Are we smarter than yeast? We could limit our own population by choice. Will we?

104 Fortunately for the world economy, nobody is paying attention.

105 Example: America in 1950 World’s foremost oil producer World’s foremost oil exporter World’s largest exporter of machine tools and manufactured goods World’s foremost creditor nation Self-sufficient in nearly all resources

106 America in 2008 World’s foremost oil importer World’s foremost debtor nation World’s foremost importer of manufactured goods and non- petroleum resources Manufacturing jobs fleeing to other countries

107 energy comes in many flavors Electrical base load coal, nuclear, oil hydro, geothermal, biomass, OTEC intermittent solar, wind, wave Transportation oil, natural gas biomass: biodiesel, ethanol, methanol

108 Say that 1 acre of energy is required. How much land area is actually required to return the required energy for different values of ERoEI?

109 Implications: 1)A low ERoEI product cannot be a primary energy source. 2)A process with a low ERoEI must be sustained by a high ERoEI energy source. The general case is that the source required can be anything - not just acres.

110 Yeast Population in a 10% sugar solution (wine). Population increases until resources are gone or until waste products poison the yeast. WINE MAKING

111 Is oil production reaching its peak? US production is decreasing at ~ 8% per year. Saudi Arabia Russia USA IRAN China Mexico

112 Its difficult to tell when the peak in production will occur because reserves are kept secret.

113 Oil prices rose >20% 38% in the last year, and doubled almost tripled since 2003.



116 CONSIDER a product, A, with an ERoEI of P. If A is a crop, and we assume that no other primary energy sources are available, then ALL energy needed to produce A must come from A. The number of acres required to produce a unit of energy must also include the acres needed to produce that crop, and the acres needed to produce that energy, and so on.

117 B needed to produce A C needed to produce B Energy A ERoEI = 4 TOTAL AREA REQUIRED TO SUPPLY A: 1.33 A Energy A B needed to produce A C needed to produce B ERoEI =0.6 TOTAL AREA REQUIRED TO SUPPLY A: INFINITE

118 Energy Density Isn’t Everything

119 How will people in cities get food?

120 Who will rescue refugees if the crisis is global?

121 Who controls the oil reserves? Much is controlled by NATIONAL oil companies - countries that aren't very stable and don't like us much.

122 ERoEI is often difficult to calculate, and it changes with the environment. Proponents of particular fuels routinely calculate high ERoEI values, while detractors calculate low values. If we ASSUME that the ERoEI is infinite - that NO energy is required to produce the product - we can look at the BEST POSSIBLE conditions for use of that product. As we will see, the best possible may not be good enough…

123 This is a power series. If one energy unit is required for consumption How much energy must be harvested? (TR)=TA? TR= Total Required NE= Net Energy = Energy out – Energy in P=ERoEI ERoEI~Net energy +1

124 Overview Hawaii’s Energy Situation: Dependence on Oil Oil Demand: Worldwide Competition for Oil Oil Supplies: Are We Running Out? What’s Driving High Prices? Oil – Issues and Implications for Hawaii Some Energy and Policy Options for Strategic Change of Hawaii’s Energy Situation

125 Petroleum Consumption Sectors Sources: State of Hawaii – DBEDT, 2004; and U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data Report, 2002 (Latest). Sources: State of Hawaii – DBEDT, 2004; and U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data Report, 2002 (Latest). Air Transport 31% Ground & Water Transport 29% Electric Utilities 26% Other 14% Air Transport 9% Ground & Water Transport 59% Electric Utilities 2% Other 30% Hawaii – 2003 U.S. Average – 2002

126 Electricity Generation by Source 2003 United States Hawaii Sources: HECO and KIUC RPS Reports, FERC Form 1 or Annual Reports to PUC, and IPP reports to US EIA Source: USEIA

127 Nonconventional Oil Reserves Oil, or “tar” sands Ultra-heavy oils Gas-to-liquids technologies Coal-to-liquids technologies Shale oil

128 Global Trends in Crude Oil Quality Sources: J. Shore, World Fuel Conference, in State of Hawaii DBEDT -- September 2003. Sources: J. Shore, World Fuel Conference, in State of Hawaii DBEDT -- September 2003.



131 few of us would trade the comforts and freedoms we enjoy today for life as a serf on a baronial estate, or even for the pre-electricity, pre- petroleum life of a mid-nineteenth- century farmer.

132 Consider hydrogen “ The hydrogen promises a cleaner, less fossil fuel dependent future. Having a hydrogen economy means first that cars will be using fuel cells or hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines that create zero greenhouse gases, zero pollution and provide more energy than the current fossil fuels.”


134 MAYBE, but the problems associated with exploiting these resources include - high cost of production - high carbon release danger of climate change - requirement for large amounts of water - heavy pollution, environmental damage

135 “There's almost certainly enough coal left for us to do the atmosphere (and by extension, ourselves) serious damage. But the really epic crash may not be in the climate, it may be in human civilization, which is by now entirely dependent for its growth and complexity on relatively cheap, relatively abundant fossil fuels. The absence of extreme global warming will be of little comfort if we end up in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellscape.”

136 Energy invested includes all energy required for production of the product: mining construction farm equipment fertilizer insecticides irrigation harvesting transportation refining, etc. It does NOT include the energy inherent in the fuel - such as the energy supplied by the sun or wind.

137 One estimate is that a stable hunter- gatherer group needs a source of energy with a net energy ~10. Technological cultures likely need even more. If your primary energy source has a net energy of 1.0, then you need to find twice as much of that energy than you actually need, since much of the energy you produce must be used to produce more.

138 1)OAHU ELECTRICITY: HECO needs the capacity to generate 1,800 MW of electricity to satisfy Oahu's current peak demand. 2)TRANSPORTATION: cars and trucks A 747 burns about 1 gallon of jet fuel per second. 850 aircraft/day A container ship burns 260 barrels of heavy fuel oil per day.

139 A container ship uses the energy equivalent of 247 acres of sugar cane to go from California to Hawaii.

140 United 747 Airplanes that bring our tourists to Hawaii and keep the economy going use large amounts of petroleum.

141 Are we ready for a world without cheap energy? Could this be a serious threat to modern human civilization? Without oil, can the current population be supported? Should we have begun planning decades ago? Is it too late?

142 Global Energy Sources 86%

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