The website Energyshortage.com is dedicated to keeping track of world-wide energy shortages and blackouts.
Richard Duncan’s Olduvai theory predicts the fall of civilization (Olduvai cliff) will begin in 2012 (ending in 2030) with permanent blackouts worldwide, starting with brownouts and temporary blackouts, and then finally the electric power networks themselves will expire.
Although fracking is delivering plenty of natural gas now (essential for electricity production in many states), natural gas fracking wells deplete within 1 or 2 years, leading to an endless “red queen’s race” need to drill exponentially more wells to keep up the same production. When the financial system fails, or the energy to drill is more than the energy obtained, this all ends. Probably at most in 9 years, by which time we’ll have switched a lot of essential transportation (delivery trucks) to natural gas, and our electric power plants will depend even more on natural gas than they do now. Oil can be imported, but we have very few facilities (4?), and we’ll be competing with many other nations. Plus 9 years assumes that all of the new natural gas fracking goes as well. But right now, the best, sweet-spots in the most productive shales are being drilled.
Blackouts mean unreliable refrigeration. And the cool chain of food production from getting lettuce refrigerated with 2 hours of picking to it’s final delivery at the grocery store will break down somewhere along the way (including natural gas delivery trucks not having fuel).
Blackouts are the end of civilization because electricity is essential to services that keep us alive — clean water, sewage treatment, and so much more…
D. Fogarty. 4 Jun 2012. Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk-study. Reuters.
* Risk of power cuts rises in coming decades as world warms
* Falling river flows, higher water temps main threats
Warmer water and reduced river flows will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States and Europe in future. The likelihood of extreme drops in power generation, with either complete or almost-total shutdowns, is projected to almost triple.
The authors predict that coal and nuclear power generating capacity between 2031 and 2060 will decrease by between 4-6% in the United States and 6-19% decline in Europe due to a lack of cooling water. Thermoelectric power plants supply more than 90% of electricity in the USA and 40% of the nation’s freshwater usage.
Coal, nuclear and gas plants turn large amounts of water into steam to spin a turbine. They also rely on water at consistent temperatures to cool the turbines.. A spike in river water temperatures can affect a plant’s operation.
Disruptions to power supplies are already occurring. During warm, dry summers in 2003, 2006 and 2009 several power plants in Europe cut production because of restricted availability of cooling water, driving up power prices.
A similar event in 2007-2008 in the United States caused several power plants to reduce production, or shut down for several days because of a lack of water for cooling and environmental restrictions on warm water discharges back into rivers, the study said. The study projects the most significant U.S. impacts at power plants inland along major rivers in the Southeast.