Electric cars are NOT a pipe dream. Fossil fuel cars are for greedy, selfish people.

But as the oil dries up, so does the capital for new investments.

Why would you think that? The oil industry is just one part of our economy. There is more capital investment in Apple right now than there is in any oil company, for example.

As oil stocks dwindle two things will happen:

-Former oil investors will bail out of the company doing poorly and invest in new companies that are doing better
-New investors will choose more profitable companies

This is nothing new and has been going on for a few centuries here.

And it's not at all guaranteed that there is a linear correlation between investment and energy returned.

There isn't now, nor is EROEI constant. It changes with time. That's why oil will soon become a less than ideal investment.
 
Why would you think that? The oil industry is just one part of our economy. There is more capital investment in Apple right now than there is in any oil company, for example.

Oil IS the world's economy. Everything else is parasitic on that. People have money to buy iPhones because of the wealth generated by oil. (not that I'm a big oil fan, it's a terribly destructive way to run the world)
 
Oil IS the world's economy. Everything else is parasitic on that.

That's like saying railroads ARE the US's economy (and they were in the 1900's at least.) Everything else depends on them. Take away the railroads and the US would be no more.

But 50 years later - not so much. We had moved on.

Now go back to the 1850's. If you had told someone that railroads would someday be the engine of the US economy people would have laughed at you. Everyone knew that horses (and canals) were what moved people and freight. Trains were novelties that some people used to move cotton to canals, but replace canals with expensive, inflexible rails that required massive, cranky, short-range locomotives to move cargo at all? Nonsense! Everyone knew that canals where what ran the US.

Etc etc. Technology moves on, and the economy follows.
 
That's like saying railroads ARE the US's economy (and they were in the 1900's at least.) Everything else depends on them. Take away the railroads and the US would be no more.

But 50 years later - not so much. We had moved on.

Now go back to the 1850's. If you had told someone that railroads would someday be the engine of the US economy people would have laughed at you. Everyone knew that horses (and canals) were what moved people and freight. Trains were novelties that some people used to move cotton to canals, but replace canals with expensive, inflexible rails that required massive, cranky, short-range locomotives to move cargo at all? Nonsense! Everyone knew that canals where what ran the US.

Etc etc. Technology moves on, and the economy follows.

It wasn't rail, it was steam power which drove the economy, mostly from coal. It's been that way since the industrial revolution. Before that it was sail power (which still exists BTW, and might be coming back). Horses used to be very important too.

This can't be extrapolated into the future. The oil was there, the coal was there, horses and sail were there. I'm not sure anything else is there that's so easy.
 
It wasn't rail, it was steam power which drove the economy, mostly from coal.

It was wood that drove the early railroads. That's why there are so many towns that are 6-10 miles apart along rail lines in the US - that's how far a locomotive could run before it took on more wood and water. Fortunately both were in pretty good supply in most places in the 1870's. (It is also why so many old locomotives have those massive spark arresters; the sparks from the burning wood were pretty horrendous, especially when you are motoring through forests full of your own fuel.)

After 1880 most locos switched to coal since it was denser and allowed longer range locomotives, and since US mining had progressed to the point where it was commonly available. At that point we'd also cut down most of the nearby forests for fuel. After 1900 or so oil started to take over from coal.

It's been that way since the industrial revolution.

Nope. People used what fuel was cheapest - and early on, wood was just plain cheaper.

This can't be extrapolated into the future. The oil was there, the coal was there, horses and sail were there. I'm not sure anything else is there that's so easy.

And nowadays natural gas is there. That's easiest and cheapest - currently about half the cost of gasoline per mile.
 
And nowadays natural gas is there. That's easiest and cheapest - currently about half the cost of gasoline per mile.
You are correct about wood, but it soon ran into it's limitations. I'm sure we will use the natural gas, but it depletes faster than oil. What's after that? If there is nothing easy to get, easy to transport. This means we will experience peak economy. Enjoy it while we can!
 
You are correct about wood, but it soon ran into it's limitations.

Agreed! Now we're starting to see oil's limitations.

I'm sure we will use the natural gas, but it depletes faster than oil. What's after that?

Short term electric for normal driving, (remaining) oil and natural gas for long range. A lot of PHEV-25's (easy now; several cars meet this) would cut more than half the gasoline/natural gas needed for personal transportation. Thus as supply declines we match it with demand reduction. In the meantime also add biodiesel, digester methane, cellulosic and sugar cane ethanol to the fuel mix.

Other oddball fuels will help fill the gaps. Liquified inert gas, for example, is not an energy source but is a good way to store energy.

For rail and truck transport switch to direct (not stored) electrical power. This is already common in Europe for trains and there's a pilot catenary project in Germany for trucks.

So now fast forward 25 years.

Long term is more interesting. One option is methane from high temperature gas reactors, synthesized from water and air, with the reactors fueled by reprocessed nuclear fuel. Another is just battery improvements. Cut costs per kwhr by 60% and we could use existing technology batteries. This does two things; it gives us cheap long range EV's and it provides a massive amount of storage capacity across the US to allow use of intermittent power sources like wind and solar. (We have more than enough of both to run our society, it just does not match the timing of our demand.)

Another are the more interesting fusion reactions. He3-He3 fusion reactions are hard to light off - but if we can figure that out, the reaction effectively produces electricity directly, without using a heat engine. That's probably 50 years out, both in terms of harnessing the reaction and finding a better source of He3.

If there is nothing easy to get, easy to transport. This means we will experience peak economy.

At least until the next latest-greatest energy source we can't live without comes along.
 
At least until the next latest-greatest energy source we can't live without comes along.
That's the whole problem. You don't realize the scale of the problem and the timelines involved in developing new energy sources.

From my link:
...the use of renewables as a percentage of total world energy consumption only increased by 0.07% from 1973 to 2009

... To match oil, you'll need half a century or more of clear energy superiority. That means cleaner and cheaper and more concentrated for storage. Nothing fits the bill yet. To replace oil, you'll need a century to allow the entire economy to retool and realign around the new technology.
 
That's the whole problem. You don't realize the scale of the problem and the timelines involved in developing new energy sources.

No one realized the scale of the problem we had when we went from wood to coal, or from coal to oil - but we did those, as well.

...the use of renewables as a percentage of total world energy consumption only increased by 0.07% from 1973 to 2009

Now let's say they continue their current rate of increase. When do they hit 50%?

To match oil, you'll need half a century or more of clear energy superiority. That means cleaner and cheaper and more concentrated for storage. Nothing fits the bill yet. To replace oil, you'll need a century to allow the entire economy to retool and realign around the new technology.

Agreed on half a century if there's a slight benefit. For a clear benefit - ten years. Not because people will be willing to pay for it, but because people will NOT be willing to pay for the clearly more expensive option. And making billions is an excellent incentive for people to build massive amounts of infrastructure.
 
No one realized the scale of the problem we had when we went from wood to coal, or from coal to oil - but we did those, as well.
Because it wasn't a problem! You just dig the shit out of the ground, it's easier to get and transport than wood!



Now let's say they continue their current rate of increase. When do they hit 50%?
25,714 years.
 
Because it wasn't a problem!

It's very easy to say that looking back. But before the wood to coal transition happened, there were people claiming we could never get away from wood - it's free! it's right there! - and the loss of US forests would mean the end of the railroad era. Nothing could replace wood. Mining coal was too hard, the transportation infrastructure was not in place, mining technology could not possibly ramp up in time and get coal to every place there had been a forest, you need rails to transport coal and thus there's no way to build new rail lines without wood etc etc.

But once coal became cheaper, due to better mining methods and improved transportation, none of that mattered any more. We just did it. Even when people said it could never happen.

You just dig the shit out of the ground, it's easier to get and transport than wood!

And the sun just shines on your head for free! And the wind is free as well! And they're almost everywhere! And you don't even have to dig that shit out of the ground!

25,714 years.

Hmm. Right now 16% of global energy is renewable. Looking at just wind power (growing at 27% a year) within 35 years 100% of our current energy consumption could be covered by wind ALONE. If in that time our consumption doubles, then it will take 38 years. So I think you're a few orders of magnitude off there.

(Needless to say we will be using far more renewables than just wind in 35 years.)
 
Billvon, the very first steam powered locomotive in America was powered by coal.

Yep. And the very first cars in America were powered by steam. The next cars were powered by electricity. Doesn't mean either lasted very long once we started building a lot of cars.

As far as renewables, combined, they are less than 1% of the total energy consumption at present.

From Wiki:
===============
Renewable energy is energy that comes from resources which are continually replenished such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewable resources, with 10% of all energy from traditional biomass, mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly. The share of renewables in electricity generation is around 19%, with 16% of electricity coming from hydroelectricity and 3% from new renewables.
==============

27% of 1% isn't very much at all. Please list your sources.

Wikipedia page on total world energy consumption
Wikipedia page on growth in wind energy
(and of course some simple math)
 
Then we are working with different numbers. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables only account for .9% of the world's energy consumption in 2010.

attachment.php

http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/kwes.pdf

However, this organization has been criticized for downplaying the growth in renewables.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Energy_Agency
 
You're misreading the chart, spidergoat; the word "renewable" does not appear on it so you have to add together all of the renewable energy sources.
 
You're misreading the chart, spidergoat; the word "renewable" does not appear on it so you have to add together all of the renewable energy sources.

They are included in "other". Hydro has limited scalability, nuclear isn't renewable, and waste/ biofuels are parasitic on oil.
 
10%+2.3%+.9%=13.2% in 2010. 16% today.

I see now. But what about post #116? You have to be near hydropower and geothermal, so it isn't scalable. Biofuels take farmland away from food production, and fuel from waste is parasitic on the huge amount of waste we generate that oil makes possible so it can only scale up to a point. Nuclear isn't environmentally friendly, requires huge capital subsidies, and isn't renewable. So solar and wind is still less than 1% of all power used today.
 
They are included in "other". Hydro has limited scalability, nuclear isn't renewable, and waste/ biofuels are parasitic on oil.
"Has limited scale ability" doesn't make hydro not renewable.

Frankly, I think the problem is that hydro is too mainstream to be attractive to environmentalists who relish being fringe and don't like that renewable energy can happen without resorting to poor economics.

Anyway, solar won't scale well forever, but the math is not hard to calculate how long 1% takes to scale to 100% at 27% a year.
 
I see now. But what about post #116? You have to be near hydropower and geothermal, so it isn't scalable.

They are definitely scalable; you could easily scale up geothermal plants to nearly any size you like. They are just not practical in most locations due to the depth of the resource. Thus there will be areas where power is ultra cheap (i.e. Iceland) but until superconducting power networks become more commonplace the power will have to be used locally. Iceland exploits this by doing energy intensive processes (like aluminum smelting) there.

Biofuels take farmland away from food production

Not cellulosic ethanol. And farmland for some fuel crops (like sugarcane) are not really suitable for other food crops, so it's not taking away farmland that is currently being used for food.

and fuel from waste is parasitic on the huge amount of waste we generate that oil makes possible

And of course oil is parasitic on solar when you go back far enough. However, most of that "fuel from waste" generation is from sawmills, bagasse, manure, farms, brewing, food preparation etc, all of which would still exist without oil.

So solar and wind is still less than 1% of all power used today.

Right. And like I was saying, if we keep scaling up at today's rates, within 35 years wind alone could provide all the world's energy. That would, of course, be a silly goal; we'll instead end up with a mix of energy from various sources, chosen from which one is cheaper/cleaner/most effective in that area.
 
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