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Alternative Energy Sources. Presented by Community Solutions Yellow Springs, Ohio Energy Plan A – Fossil Fuel Based. So called “non renewables” Business as usual Develop tar sands, oil shale, nuclear Top Priority is “clean” coal (Bury CO 2 in ocean and land)

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alternative energy sources
Alternative Energy Sources



Community Solutions

Yellow Springs, Ohio

energy plan a fossil fuel based
Energy Plan A – Fossil Fuel Based
  • So called “non renewables”
  • Business as usual
  • Develop tar sands, oil shale, nuclear
  • Top Priority is “clean” coal
    • (Bury CO2 in ocean and land)
    • CO2 from coal – 2x natural gas
  • Corporate/Government View
  • President Bush, CEOs of Exxon, Cargill, GE, GM, BP, Ford
alternative non conventional fossil fuels
Alternative Non-Conventional Fossil Fuels
  • Oil Shale
    • Does not contain oil – basis is kerogen – add water/ heat to get oil
    • Waste volume greater than ore volume – must be mined like coal
    • Needs lots of water – found in water scare areas – Colorado Plateau
  • Heavy Oil
    • Very thick – limited uses (bunker oil)
    • Major source – Venezuela
  •  Tar Sands
    • Less than 1% of world oil production
    • Located mostly in Canada
  •  Sizable but not huge potential – Currently about 4% of energy 
alternatives natural gas
Alternatives – Natural Gas
  • Natural gas is used primarily for space heating, electricity generation
  • Natural gas is the key ingredient in agricultural fertilizers
  • Main material for hydrogen (natural gas – 48%, oil – 30%, coal – 18%)
  • Not a viable replacement for oil – hard to ship – a regional fuel
    • U.S. only imports from Canada and Mexico via pipeline
  • One of the key solutions to the oil shock of the 1970s
  • Can be used in automobile engines
    • Honda selling a natural gas Civic with home gas dispenser
alternatives natural gas and depletion
Alternatives – Natural Gas and Depletion 
  • May deplete faster than oil – plateau followed by a sharp decline
  • Natural Gas peaked in the U.S. in 1973, in Canada in 2001
  • U.S. get 99% of its gas from North America
    • Simmons & Co International

U.S. Natural Gas Production

alternative coal
Alternative – Coal
  • Major source electricity in the world – 40% of total
  • Abundant but dirty and inefficient
  • Less energy (1/2) per pound than oil/gas

Source: World Coal Institute

alternative coal7
Alternative – Coal
  • U.S. and worldwide coal production may peak between 2020 and 2030

Source: Energy Watch Group, “Coal: Resources and Future Production” (April, 2007)

coal and sequestration
Coal and Sequestration
  • Carbon Sequestration – A potential holocaust for all life
  • Remember nuclear waste ocean dumping?
  • Shows our desperation – and our culpability
mit report on ccs
MIT Report on CCS
  • Coal will remain the fuel of choice in America
  • Clean coal programs like Future Gen fall far short of what is required to ensure coal remains a primary fuel in a carbon-constrained world
coal and climate change
Coal and Climate Change
  • Paradigm shift
    • We dare not burn remaining oil
    • Nor the coal, tar sands & shale!
alternative nuclear
Alternative – Nuclear
  • Nuclear Energy – Only “new” (1945) energy source in centuries – U235
  • Relatively “safe” when operating – No new Chernobyl or 3 Mile Island
    • But accidents could be catastrophic
    • Price-Anderson Act law in 1957 passed exempting liability
      • Still in force – utilities won’t build new plants without it
  • Uranium will be available for some decades – but not forever
  • Fundamental issue is radioactive wastes – last for thousands of years
  • Lots of hype – Fusion reactors, breeder reactors
    • No successes after decades of efforts – $billions wasted
  • Number of reactors needed to carry most of load is phenomenal
    • One or two orders of magnitude over current installation
alternatives dams
Alternatives – Dams
  • Limited number of sites – U.S. “maxed out”
  •  Major ecological effect – destruction of species
    • In third world they destroy many homes and natural processes
  •  Dams will eventually fill with silt – not “renewable”
  •  Forced relocation of people – heavy human toll
  •  Nobody in U.S. is proposing dams!
energy plan b non fossil fuel based
Energy Plan B – Non-Fossil Fuel-based
  • So called “renewables”
  • “Environmentally” oriented
  • Develop wind and solar
    • Nuclear being debated
  • Top priority is bio-fuels
    • Burning of food
  • Assumes new transportation options
    • Mass transit, fuel cells, PHEVs
  • Al Gore, Lester Brown, Carl Pope, Amory Lovins, James Lovelock
    • Many Solar and Wind companies; many NGOs
renewable share
Renewable Share
  • Wind and Solar make up only 0.18% of total energy use
alternatives wind and pvs
Alternatives – Wind and PVs
  • Wind turbines the most efficient options – and fastest growing
    • 2/3 of projected alternative supply is wind
    • Most of the rest is wood
    • But turbines are an old technology
  • Photovoltaics (PVs)
    • PV prices decreased 90% in 1st 12 years – flat in last 13.
    • PV efficiency went from 8% to 16% in first 10 years – little improvement since
  • Most renewables generate only electricity
    • Less flexible than oil or natural gas
the law of diminishing returns
The Law of Diminishing Returns
  • Similar for wind – Basic steel, aluminum, glass, silicon
    • Sam Baldwin, Chief Technology Officer, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. DOE Energy: A 21st Century Perspective, National Academy of Engineering June 2, 2005, Cleveland, Ohio
understanding net energy
Understanding Net Energy
  • It takes energy to process fossil fuels for usage
  • Cheapest energy cost to process fuels is Saudi Arabia oil
  • Most expensive energy cost to process fuels are the non-conventional fossil fuels
  • Also energy costly to produce bio-diesel
    • Negative net energy
  • Vital to understand the concept of net energy
    • Explains poor prospect for many alternatives
    • Different than $$ cost
biofuels unsustainable burning of food
Biofuels – Unsustainable Burning of Food
  • Net Energy Loser – it takes 43% more energy to produce ethanol than it yields. (Pimentel)
  • Myth of oil independence
    • 20% of our corn in the U.S. is used for ethanol, which gives us less than 1% of total oil use.
    • If 100% of the corn in the U.S. was used to make ethanol, it would only account for 7% of total U.S. oil use.
  • Would exacerbate topsoil depletion – currently we are depleting the soil 20 times faster than it is being replaced
  • Already resulting in skyrocketing food prices
  • Cellulosic ethanol – Still technical limitations, takes about five times as much energy required to make cellulosic ethanol than the energy contained in the ethanol.
energy plans a and b common points
Energy Plans A and B – Common Points
  • Fuels or new sources (A or B Technology) will save us
    • Plan A – Clean Coal, Tar Sands
    • Plan B – Switch Grass, Wind and Solar
    • Nuclear Power supported by both to some degree
  • Lots of overlap between two e.g. GE
    • Biggest Wind Turbine Company
    • Biggest Power Plant (coal, gas, nuclear) Company
  • Agreement – Nation’s # 1 goal
    • Increase economic growth by increased energy consumption
    • We don’t have to consume less energy – just different energy
    • Technology is the answer
but can technology save us
But Can Technology “Save Us”?
  • This is a belief issue – it is not at all obvious
  • Technology = more efficient/innovative machines burning fuels
    • Could technology exist without fossil fuels
    • Will it continue when fossil fuels are gone?
  • There are high energy and low energy technologies
    • Cars, planes, power plants
    • Bypass surgery, most drugs, better golf clubs
  • We must consider an intermediate tech – low energy world
  • Recent energy technology breakthroughs are not impressive
alternatives summary
Alternatives Summary
  • Bio fuels, solar, wind feasibility – all in question
    • Proponents have not yet made the case
    • Tabulating sun energy per sq foot is not enough
  • Tar sands, oil shale not proven after more than 40 years
  • Government is committing to biofuels, coal, and nuclear power
  • Huge problem with both is poisonous waste
    • Sequestration is the “sales pitch” of the coal advocates
  • No new fuels are likely and old fuels still dirty
problem of lag time
Problem of Lag Time
  • “Peaking of World Oil Production–Impacts, Mitigation, Risk”
    • Hirsch, Bezdek, and Wendling
why not spend more on r and d
Why Not Spend More on R and D?
  • In a century of technologic process only one new fuel source discovered (but Uranium first discovered in 18th century)
  • Nuclear power took decades to develop and commercialize
    • 1930-2003
  • After seventy years nuclear still provides only 8% of U.S. energy
  • All the other fuels (oil, coal, gas, biomass) were known for a long time
    • Biomass (mostly wood) for thousands of years
    • Coal for centuries!
    • Oil and gas since late 1800s
  • Early large dam was a marble structure built in 1660 in India
energy investment are sizable
Energy Investment Are Sizable
  • No one likes the allocation – that’s politics
  • Big private investments – GE $148B(rev) & Sharp $24B(rev)
the shocking possibility
The Shocking Possibility
  • There may be no “satisfactory” alternatives
    • Satisfactory – Maintain current energy consumption rate
  • Eternal progress based on burning fossil fuels is not sustainable
  • We must change to a different way of living without the dreams of eternal material and mechanical progress
  • This may save us from ourselves
    • Planetary degradation based on burning fossil fuels
conservation the only alternative
Conservation – The Only Alternative
  • Sustainable conservation efforts are imperative!
plan c conserving in community
Plan C – Conserving in Community
  • A view of only using enough
    • Conserving, Sharing & Saving
    • vs.
    • Competing, Hoarding & Consuming
  • Means Curtailment – Cutting back
    • Not “token” conservation
    • Sharing resources now and with people in the future
  • Needs “Community”
    • Context for a new “Way of Life”
    • Cooperation Principle