Author Archives: energyskeptic

Generating electricity with biomass at utility-scale in California limited to direct combustion in small 50 MW plants

Preface. It’s obviously much easier and more energy efficient to set logs on fire for heat and electricity than to turn them into ethanol.   Burning biomass can’t do much to solve our energy crisis.  To produce just 10% of … Continue reading

Posted in Biomass, Electric Grid | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Steam powered farm tractors

Preface. Steam engines weren’t very efficient, 10 to 20% at best, which is why they went away beginning around 1920 when oil-powered engines came along.  At the very best steam engines for transportation reached 10 to 20% efficiency. They were … Continue reading

Posted in Biomass-powered Steam Engines | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Permafrost will limit natural gas, oil, and coal extraction

Preface. For many people, it’s comforting to know that about 25% of remaining oil and gas reserves (we have the know-how and economics to get it) and resources (beyond our technical and monetary capability) are in the arctic. They assume … Continue reading

Posted in Arctic, EROEI remaining oil too low, How Much Left, Peak Natural Gas, Peak Oil, Reserves Lower than stated, Roads, Transportation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charcoal for the high heat needed in manufacturing after peak oil

Preface. De Decker (2011) writes: “A large share of energy consumed worldwide is by heat. Cooking, space heating and water heating dominate domestic energy consumption. In the UK, these activities account for 85% of domestic energy use, in Europe for … Continue reading

Posted in Industrial Heat, Peak Biofuels, Wood | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Why self-driving cars may not be in your future

Preface. Below are excerpts from several articles about why a completely automated vehicle is unlikely.  Heaven forbid they are invented. Researchers have found that people will drive 76% more miles, stop using bicycles and mass transit, waste a considerable amount … Continue reading

Posted in Automobiles | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Foreign Policy: The limits of clean energy

Preface. This article appeared in the magazine Foreign Policy. Some of the points made are: Renewables to power the world would require 34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Energy Resources, Consumption | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Oil Shocks. Airplanes are energy gluttons. Shut down the airports. Refine crude for ships, trains, and trucks.

Preface. As oil declines and the energy crisis worsens, airplanes ought to be the first to go since they are 600 times less energy efficient than large cargo ships (30,000 / 50), 50 to 120 times less efficient than trains, … Continue reading

Posted in Airplanes, Transportation | 4 Comments

Vaclav Smil on natural gas (ethane) and plastics

Preface. Vaclav Smil doesn’t mention using plastic for heat, but in a letter to The Guardian, David Reed suggests: “The effort of collecting, transporting and cleaning plastics for possible recycling has largely failed, created much more pollution and contributed massively … Continue reading

Posted in Natural Gas, Vaclav Smil | 2 Comments

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Preface. Venezuela is experiencing a double whammy of drought and low oil prices, which has lead to blackouts and inability to import food, ultimately due to their oil production peaking in 1997.  The same fate awaits the U.S. someday when … Continue reading

Posted in Central & South America, Social Disorder | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Peak Sand

Preface.  Sand Primer: Without sand, there would be no concrete, ceramics, computer chips, glass, plastics, abrasives, paint and so on We can’t use desert sand because it’s too round, polished by the wind, and doesn’t stick together. You need rough … Continue reading

Posted in Concrete, Sand | Tagged , | Leave a comment