Topic 4 – Natural Resources. A – Types of Resources B – Conventional Sources of Energy C – Alternative Sources of Energy. A – Types of Resources. Resources and Reserves The Renewable / Non-Renewable Dichotomy Resources, Technology and Society Minerals. 1. Resources and Reserves.
Topic 4 – Natural Resources A – Types of Resources B – Conventional Sources of Energy C – Alternative Sources of Energy
A – Types of Resources Resources and Reserves The Renewable / Non-Renewable Dichotomy Resources, Technology and Society Minerals
1. Resources and Reserves • Context • A resource is something held in reserve that can be used for a purpose. • “Nature does not care”. • Three major categories of resources. • Natural resources • Derived from physiographical conditions. • Economic resources • Derived from human activities. • Geographical resources • Derived by spatial characteristics. Natural Minerals Biological resources Endowments Geographical Location Human Capital Economic
Reserves and Total Resources Potentially Unrecoverable Sub-economic Price / Technology Total Resources Cost of Recovery Available Resources Reserves (Identified and recoverable) Exploration Unidentified Uncertainty
2. The Renewable / Non-renewable Dichotomy Non-renewable Resources Renewable Resources Extraction Rate / Replenishment Rate Time Scale Geological Human Formed over a time scale involving geologic time. Once consumed, they disappear forever (unless recycled). Replenishment can occur on a human time scale (Years, decades, centuries).
2. The Renewable / Non-renewable Dichotomy Infiniti Minerals (unless recycled) Millions Fossil fuels (oil, coal) Millennia Soils: 200 years (permanent vegetation cover) - 1000 years (mature). Erosion is extremely important because growing populations do not provide adequate time for soils to regenerate fully. Centuries Forests: In some areas, the rates of deforestation surpass the natural ability of the forest to regenerate. Rainforest: 65-100 years. Years Food: Very short growth cycle (reason why preferred as food source). Rice (3-6 months). Chicken (12 weeks). Months Water: Rivers. Rain water. Aquifers. Irrigation has increased in many dry areas. Days
Non-Renewable Resources Curve Resource Peak Demand Usage Abandonment / transition Adoption Technology Time
Potential Depletion of Non-Renewable Resources Extract, use and discard 1 Recycle, technological improvements 2 Usage Recycle, reuse, reduce consumption, technological improvements 3 Time
2. The Renewable / Non-Renewable Dichotomy • Renewable sources of energy are also dependent on non-renewable resources • Photovoltaic cells consume non-renewable resources. • Solar-thermal plants consume land and water from aquifers (arid areas). • Geothermal power consumes water from aquifers. • Wind energy consumes land, concrete, steel and rare earths (gearboxes). • All energy supplies require distribution systems (electric wires) that consume land and resources. • The term renewable energy is therefore misleading.
3. Resources, Technology and Society • Technology • Definition: • Processes according to which tools and machines are constructed. • Insure a control of the physical environment. • Comes from the Greek word teckne(manual expertise) and logia (field of knowledge). • Technology means the control, or the science, of manual expertise. • The more it is developed, the further the control and the transformation of matter is possible. • Concept of resource is tied to: • Technology (extent of available resources). • Technological change (growth in available resources and the efficiency of their use). • Culture controlling the technology (level of consumption).
3. Resources, Technology and Society • Nuance • Technology requires the systematic usage of science and especially of the scientific method. • Relationship between science, technology and production (the market). • Scientific research helps discover or improve a technology. • Changes production while creating new goods available or permitting a more efficient way to produce. Research Development
3. Resources, Technology and Society • The “Resource Curse” • Paradox: • Many resource-rich countries have the poorest population. • Particularly for resources that have a high concentration level (e.g. oil, diamonds, gold). • Resources as a power support structure: • Prone to authoritarian rule, slow growth, corruption and conflict. • Resources used to finance armies, corruption and patronage. • Civil wars to gain control of resources. • The “curse”: • Instead of resources being a vector for development and capital accumulation, they become a factor of inequality. • Under investment in infrastructures, utilities, health and education. • Inverse relationship between natural resources and democracy.
3. Resources, Technology and Society • Resource loss due to destruction • Natural and man causes can destroy resources. • Natural hazards: • Earthquakes. • Weather hazards (hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding). • Forest fires. • Pollution: • Reduces the quantity and quality of natural resources such as water. • Conflicts: • Destroyed huge quantities of resources, material and human alike, throughout history.
3. Sources of Energy • Chemical • Fossil fuels (Combustion) • Nuclear • Uranium (Fission of atoms) Non-Renewable • Movement • Stored (potential) • Kinetic (used) Energy • Chemical • Muscular (Oxidization) • Nuclear • Geothermal (Conversion) • Fusion (Fusion of hydrogen) • Gravity • Tidal, hydraulic (Kinetic) • Indirect Solar • Biomass (Photosynthesis) • Wind (Pressure differences) • Direct Solar • Photovoltaic cell (Conversion) Ordered (mechanical energy) Renewable Disordered (thermal energy) World’s power consumption: 12 trillion watts per year (85% from fossil fuels)
4. Minerals • The earth’s crust • Contains metallic and non-metallic minerals. • Unequal concentration and distribution because of geology. • Metals • Dominant mineral resources. • Ore • Rock in which a mineral can be mined. • Two factors for ore mining: • Market value of the mineral. • Concentration level in the ore. • There are ore rocks all over the world. • Only a small portion can be economically mined.
4. Minerals • Metals • Iron: • Most common and used metal. • Iron deposits can easily be mined and smelted for the ore. • Used to make steel, a highly versatile metal. • Aluminum: • Second most used metal. • Light weight and strength. • Third most common element in the crust, but difficult to extract in its most common form (silicates). • Bauxite: easier form to extract aluminum but energy intensive (electricity). • Nonmetallic minerals • Vary wide variety and use. • Clay. Limestone. Potash (fertilizer). Silica sand.
B - Conventional Sources of Energy Coal Petroleum Natural Gas Nuclear
1. Characteristics • Nature • Formed from decayed swamp plant matter that cannot decompose in the low-oxygen underwater environment. • Coal was the major fuel of the early Industrial Revolution. • High correlation between the location of coal resources and early industrial centers: • The Midlands of Britain. • Parts of Wales. • Pennsylvania. • Silesia (Poland). • German Ruhr Valley. • Three grades of coal.
1. Characteristics • Anthracite (7%) • Highest grade; over 85% carbon. • Most efficient to burn. • Lowest sulfur content; the least polluting. • The most exploited and most rapidly depleted. • Bituminous (75%) • Medium grade coal, about 50-75% carbon content. • Higher sulfur content and less fuel-efficient. • Most abundant coal in the USA. • Lignite (18%) • Lowest grade of coal, with about 40% carbon content. • Low energy content. • Most sulfurous and most polluting.
1. Main Coal Regions of the United States Lignite Powder River Basin (40%) Bituminous Bituminous Lignite
2. Coal Use • Coal use • Thermal coal (about 90% use): • Used mainly in power stations to produce high pressure steam, which then drives turbines to generate electricity. • Also used to fire cement and lime kilns. • Until the middle of the 20th Century used in steam engines (“Steam Coal”). • Coking coal: • Specific type of metallurgical coal derived from bituminous coal. • Used as a source of carbon, for converting a metal ore to metal. • Removing the oxygen in the ore by forcing it to combine with the carbon in the coal to form CO2. • Used for making iron in blast furnaces (without smoke). • New redevelopment of the coal industry: • In view of rising energy prices. • “Clean Coal” technologies, less ashes but same CO2.
3. The Economic Importance of Petroleum • Nature • Formation of oil deposits (biotic perspective): • Decay under pressure of billions of microscopic plants in sedimentary rocks. • “Oil window”; 7,000 to 15,000 feet. • Created over the last 600 million years. • A-biotic perspective. • Exploration of new sources of petroleum: • Related to the geologic history of an area. • Located in sedimentary basins. • About 90% of all petroleum resources have been discovered. • Production vs. consumption: • Geographical differences. • Contributed to the political problems linked with oil supply.
3. The Economic Importance of Petroleum • Use • Transportation: • The share of transportation has increased in the total oil consumption. • Accounts for more the 55% of the oil used. • In the US, this share is 70%. • Limited possibility at substitution. • Other uses (30%): • Lubricant. • Plastics. • Fertilizers. • Choice of an energy source: • Depend on a number of utility factors. • Favoring the usage of fossil fuels, notably petroleum.
West Texas Intermediate, Monthly Nominal Spot Oil Price (1970-2012) Third Oil Shock Second Oil Shock First Oil Shock
4. Nature and Use • Natural gas formation • Thermogenic: converted organic material into natural gas due to high pressure. • Deeper window than oil. • Biogenic: transformation by microorganisms. • Composition • Composed primarily of methane and other light hydrocarbons. • Mixture of 50 to 90% by volume of methane, propane and butane. • “Dry” and “wet” (methane content); “sweet” and “sour” (sulfur content). • Usually found in association with oil: • Formation of oil is likely to have natural gas as a by-product. • Often a layer over the petroleum.
4. Nature and Use • Use • Mostly used for energy generation. • Transition in use: • Previously, it was often wasted; burned off. • The major problem is transporting natural gas, which requires pipelines. • Now more frequently conserved and used. • Considered the cleanest fossil fuel to use. • Gas turbine technology enables to use natural gas to produce electricity more cheaply than using coal.
4. Availability and Distribution • Reserves • Substantial reserves likely to satisfy energy needs for the next 100 years. • High level of concentration: • 45% of the world’s reserves are in Russia and Iran. • Regional concentration of gas resources is more diverse: • As opposed to oil. • Only 36% of the reserves are in the Middle East.
4. Natural Gas • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) • Growth of the global demand has created needs to move natural gas over long distances. • Liquid form of natural gas; easier to transport. • Cryogenic process (-256oF): gas loses 610 times its volume. • Value chain: • Extraction. • Liquefaction. • Shipping. • Storage and re-gasification.
5. Nuclear Power Generation • Nature • Fission of uranium to produce energy. • The fission of 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of uranium-235 releases 18.7 million kilowatt-hours as heat. • A nuclear power plant of 1,000 megawatts requires 200 tons of uranium per year. • Heat is used to boil water and activate steam turbines. • Uranium is fairly abundant. • Requires massive amounts of water for cooling the reactor. • Relatively cheap: 2 cents per kWh (4 cents for coal).
5. Nuclear Power Generation • Nuclear power plants • 436 operating nuclear power plants (civilian) worldwide. • Very few new plants coming on line: • Public resistance (NIMBY syndrome). • High costs. • Nuclear waste disposal. • 30 countries generate nuclear electricity: • About 15% of all electricity generated worldwide. • Required about 77,000 metric tons of uranium. • United States: • 104 licensed nuclear power plants; about 20% of the electricity. • Licenses are usually given for a 40 year period. • Many US plants will are coming up for 20 years license extensions. • No new nuclear power plant built since 1979 (Three Mile Island incident). • 4-6 new units by 2018. • China: • 11 nuclear power plants. • Plans to add 13 new nuclear reactors per year until 2020.
5. Nuclear Power Generation • Uranium reserves • Canada and Australia account for 43% of global reserves. • The problem of “peak uranium”. • 20 years of reserves in current mines. • 80 years of known economic reserves.
C - Alternative Sources of Energy Hydropower Hydrogen Biomass Solar Wind
1. Hydropower Generation • Nature • Generation of mechanical energy using the flow of water as the energy source. • Gravity as source and sun as the “pump”. • Requires a large reservoir of water (energy “storage”). • 95% energy efficiency. • Considered cleaner, less polluting than fossil fuels. • Cheapest source of energy: 1 cent per kWh. • Utilization • Water wheels used for centuries (grinding flour). • Used during the industrial revolution to power the first machines. • First hydroelectric plant; Niagara Falls (1879).
1. Hydropower Generation • Controversy • Require the development of vast amounts of infrastructures: • Dams. • Reservoirs. • Power plants and power lines. • Very expensive and consume financial resources or aid resources that could be utilized for other things. • Environmental problems: • The dams themselves often alter the environment in the areas where they are located. • Changing the nature of rivers, creating lakes that fill former valleys and canyons, etc.