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Think Big, Really Big. The Engineering view of the world is never very interesting, scalable or sustainable  manipulates nature: This needs to stop Replace it by Physicists view the world as a system, assess its overall capacity and limitations  partners with nature. An Issued Challenge.

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think big really big

Think Big, Really Big

The Engineering view of the world is never very interesting, scalable or sustainable  manipulates nature: This needs to stop

Replace it by

Physicists view the world as a system, assess its overall capacity and limitations  partners with nature

an issued challenge
An Issued Challenge
  • Goal: Provide resources for a global population that will quadruple in 100 years. Inequity is allowed
  • Done: 1900 – 2000
  • Consequences: Depends on your point of view about progress versus quality of life versus human condition
some consequences
Some Consequences
  • Rapid mining/depletion of accessible high energy content medium (like, oil, dude)
  • Rapid mining of materials, copper, lead, tin all projected to run out by 2025
  • Serious worldwide inequities in resource distribution and wealth
  • Two world wars and some other minor skirmishes, invasions, annexations,etc
who can we blame
Who Can We Blame
  • It remains pointless to blame the usual suspects (e.g. Corporate America, Over population, over consumption, Aristotle, your parents generation, etc) since that leads to no wisdom or solutions
  • Challenge is to see how, collectively, we can overcome BAU (Business as Usual)
business as usual scenario
Business As Usual Scenario
  • Population stabilizes to 10-12 billion by the year 2100 (possible to do)
  • Total world energy use from 2000 to 2100 is 4000 Terra Watt Years (Current USA use is about 1.5 TW years)
  • Holy crap, Batman is the sky falling?
ultimately recoverable resource
Conventional Oil/Gas

Unconventional Oil


Methane Clathrates

Oil Shale

Uranium Ore

Geothermal Steam - conventional

1000 TWY (1/4 need)

2000 (1/2 the need)

5000 (meets need)





Ultimately Recoverable Resource
other possibilities
Breeder Reactors

Hot Dry Rock


Wind Energy

Global Biomass


2,000,000 TWY


9,000,000 (oceans)

200,000 (works!)


Essentially unlimited

Other Possibilities
there is no real energy barrier or limit

There is no Real Energy Barrier or Limit

And other extragalactic Civilizations have surely solved this problem.

On Earth, we have a bunch of other likely problems

we may be running out of
We may be running out of …
  • Cheap Oil
  • Livable Environment/Fresh Water
  • Tolerance for inequity (its about time …)
  • Money for better options
  • Time for a transition out of the fossil fuel economy into something else
  • Leadership to do what is required
hydrogen production
Hydrogen Production
  • From “stranded” dedicated renewals (Wind in Aleutian Islands; Solar from North Africa; OTEC from Indian Ocean)  need 4 trillion KWH, per year for enough Hydrogen production
  • This equals 10 billion KWH per day or in round numbers 1 billion KWH per hour.
  • Figure of Merit is then 1 million Mega Watts (MW) of power needed for Hydrogen production
  • One Million MW = 1 TW  Is this a lot?
one million megawatts
One Million Megawatts
  • 1000 Nuclear Reactors (1000 MW each)
  • 2000 Gas Fired Plants (500 MW each)
  • Well if your going to build that crap, just connect it to the grid, you idiot
  • Okay, then what about remote energy generation where grid connection is difficult
1 tw production schemes
1 TW Production Schemes
  • Harvest some Megaplumes
  • Build 100,000 10 MW Wind Turbines off the Aleutian Island Chain (note total wind resource here is about 50 TW)
  • Place one 100 MW turbine every 200 meters in the Gulf Stream which is equivalent to a 200 km/hr wind
more production schemes
More Production Schemes
  • Distributed OTEC islands – circular platforms of radius 1 km can produce 1000 MW. (Russia wants to build floating nuclear power plants; Boeing wants floating equatorial launch platforms)
  • Note: 1 TW of PV power requires PV arrays (200 miles x 200 miles) in North Africa Desert
bottom lines
Bottom lines
  • Large Scale hydrogen production schemes are possible using way out of the box large scale renewable energy systems where grid connection is unlikely
  • Solar Power is not a direct player in this scheme; CSP unlikely to work on this scale
  • Many technical and financial difficulties exist but similar barriers were overcome in the last century!
  • Reminder, we have walked on the Moon