Category Archives: Energy

the posts in this category used to be in “Energy in A Nutshell” at my former web site.

Far Out power #6: Stale beer, crayfish shells, and burning metal powder

Preface. Unfortunately, turning beer into biogas requires a pandemic so that it isn’t drunk at pubs instead. Scientists assure us there will be more pandemics as we mow down (rain)forests for shopping malls and come into contact with new viruses, … Continue reading

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Not enough rare metals to scale up solar power

Preface. Sunshine may be free, but the materials to make solar contraptions sure aren’t.  Since sunshine arrives in a diluted form, vast expanses of solar photovoltaic panels will be needed to produce the world’s 24,000 Terawatt hours of electrical power … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining, Photovoltaic Solar, Recycle | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What are rare earth metals and how are they used?

Preface.  After oil, the main feature of new products will be drastic simplification. The re-use of existing stuff. Lack of precision machine tools as they rust away. Back to basics: wood, iron, and clay. Yet every high-tech object depends on … Continue reading

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Even Pencils will be hard to make

Preface. Most of us are unaware of how complex our society is, how things are made, how food is grown, how stuff is delivered, and the people, energy, transportation, and kinds and sources of materials in every day objects.  This … Continue reading

Posted in EROEI Energy Returned on Energy Invested, Localization, Supply Chains | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Many steps using fossil fuels to make cans & potato chips

Preface.  I am gobsmacked by how much energy goes into making beverage cans and potato chips, look at all the steps, each one using energy!  Why haven’t we run of oil yet? Especially when you look at everything else out … Continue reading

Posted in EROEI Energy Returned on Energy Invested, Manufacturing & Industrial Heat | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Renewables: not enough minerals, energy, time or clean and green

Preface. Electricity generating contraptions like wind and solar can’t replace the 50% of oil used in global manufacturing, because they can’t generate the high heat needed, or run battery or catenary electric trucks as I explained in “When Trucks Top … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Battery - Utility Scale, Elements: Critical, Elements: Platinum Group, Elements: Rare Earth, Peak Resources, Recycle, Solar, Wind | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Minerals essential for wind, solar, and high-tech, are anything but clean and green

This is a book review of Pitron’s “The rare metals war”.  To produce the metals and minerals to make a transition to wind, solar, nuclear and so on would be incredibly destructive and filthy. A fifth of China’s arable land … Continue reading

Posted in Battery - Utility Scale, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining, Peak Resources, Photovoltaic Solar, Recycle, Wind | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Batteries are made of rare, declining, critical, and imported elements

Preface.  Since oil and other fossils are finite and emit carbon, the plan is to electrify society with batteries.  But doh!  Minerals used in batteries are finite too.  And dependent on fossil-fueled transportation and manufacturing from mining trucks, to smelter, … Continue reading

Posted in Batteries, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining | Tagged , | 7 Comments

800 scientists: burning forests for electricity or heat releases more 1.5 x more CO2 than coal, 3x more than natural gas

Preface. The 2015 Paris climate change agreement states that burning biomass is carbon neutral. Not true. Over 800 scientists have written the European Parliament to tell them that burning wood for heat or electricity emits 1.5 x more CO2 than … Continue reading

Posted in Biomass, Climate Change, CO2 and Methane, Deforestation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Offshore wind turbines: Expensive, risky, and last just 15 years

Preface: The Department of Energy high wind penetration plans require a lot of offshore wind. But is it possible, affordable, or wise to do this? Corrosion leads to a short lifespan of just 15 years. To reduce maintenance, offshore windmills … Continue reading

Posted in Offshore | Tagged , , | 3 Comments