Category Archives: Energy

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

When wood once again becomes our main energy source, how long will it last?

Preface. Since we’re going back to wood as our main energy and infrastructure source after fossil fuels deplete, I thought it would be interesting to try to get an idea of how wood stacks up against other energy resources (below).   … Continue reading

Posted in Nate Hagens, Where to Be or Not to Be, Wood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Boston Globe: the false promise of nuclear power

Preface. This article raises many objections to nuclear power. Theoretically it could be cheaper, but the exact opposite has happened, it keeps getting more expensive. For example the only new reactors being built in the U.S. now are at Georgia … Continue reading

Posted in Nuclear Power | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rust Power

Preface.  This is yet another article with an energy generation idea that will probably never work out and become commercial.  But it gives hope and dreams to ordinary people who think what a cool idea, and who will never check … Continue reading

Posted in Far Out | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Nuclear waste disposal drilled deep into earth’s crust

Preface. I suspect one the greatest tragedies of the decline of oil will be all the nuclear waste left for thousands of low-tech generations in the future. We owe it to them to clean up our mess while we still … Continue reading

Posted in Nuclear Waste | Tagged , | 17 Comments