Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Eurasian Railway Developments

There are lots of developments underway in improving trans-Eurasian raillinks between China and Europe. Three such links are discussed in the article. Engdahl, who abandoned his peak-oil beliefs a few years ago, is optimistic about the prospects of Eurasian trade: “The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom lasting into the next Century and beyond is at hand“. That is too optimistic in our view.


Germany Plans €60bn Energy Investment

A raft of new offshore wind farms and hydroelectric power plants are in the offing, after German energy companies and investors yesterday confirmed they are preparing to plough up to €60bn into overhauling the country’s power infrastructure, following the government’s pledge to phase out nuclear reactors… plans are underway to build or modernise 84 power stations with a combined capacity of 42GW… Confirmation that 23 offshore wind projects and 10 hydro pumped storage projects are being planned… the report also reveals that energy firms are planning 29 gas-fired power plants and a further 17 coal-fired facilities.


World Food and Oil Price Correlation

The world is a complicated place and often it is difficult to make sense of it. Here at least is a piece of knowledge that is easy to remember, namely that oil and food prices are strongly correlated (93.4%). And that there hardly is a time lag between them. And that the poorest are going to be hurt if fossil fuel prices will continue to climb, as they likely will.


American documentary from 2010 by Josh Fox about the consequences of exploiting schale gas for the environment (Russian subs). [German spoken]

[Tegenlicht] – Dutch documentairy about Gasland, applied to Europe. Lots of spoken English.
[gasland with Russian subs]

Read more…

Energy related conversion factors

Conversion factors.

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Chinese Shale Gas

World map showing potential for shale natural gas.

The EIA says China has 36 trillion cubic meters of shale gas. Assuming that the caloric value of 1 m3 of natural gas is roughly equal to that of 1 liter of oil, this amount of gas is equivalent with 226 barrels of oil. In 2010 China consumed 10 million of barrel of oil a day. Further assuming an EROI of shale gas of 70, this would mean that China’s shale gas reserves do represent an oil equivalent of 60 years of present day chinese consumption. That’s good news for China and we have to admit we are surprised.
Read more…

Japan to become neo-medieval?

Dejima and Nagasaki Bay, circa 1820. Two Dutch ships and numerous Chinese trading junks are depicted.

Kunstler in his yesterday column writes: “all of which points to the likelihood that Japan will become the first advanced industrial nation to bid sayonara to modernity and return to a neo-medieval socio-economic model of daily life.” Kunstler has earlier acknowledged that the days of globalism are over in the long run in the light of resource depletion, first and foremost oil. It is ironic that it had been the US that in 1854 under commodore Matthew Perry had forced Japan to open up for world trade. Before that Japan always had been a closed, read nationalist society, that did not need combustion engines to keep it’s society going. The only contact Japan had with the West up until 1854 was with the Dutch on the small island of Desima.
Read more…

Egypt cuts off natural gas deliveries to Israel

Egypt’s energy companies have terminated a long-term deal to supply Israel with gas after the cross-border pipeline sustained months of sabotage since a revolt last year, a stakeholder in the deal said on Sunday… Before the sabotage, Egypt supplied about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which is the country’s main energy source. Israeli officials have said the country was at risk of facing summer power outages due to energy shortages. It is the second such attack in a month on the pipeline, south of the town of El-Arish (see map), just 30 miles (50km) from the border with Israel. The pipeline has frequently been targeted, including an attack on 5 February during the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak from power. Read more…

India opens world’s largest solar park

The newly-developed solar power park will be a 500-megawatt system using state-of-the-art thin film photovoltaic technology and should be fully completed by the end of 2014. It now has an operational capacity of 214 MW and has already become the largest such single location in the world, spread over 3,000 acres (12 km2) of mainly wasteland.


Electric Clothing

Here is another post showing that we are not merely helpless victims of resource depletion, but rather that the new situation offers challenges that actually can be addressed. Take indoor heating. During the middle ages people had open hearths, causing you to be fried on the front side, while you still frooze on the backside. Central heating improved things dramatically. But that invention seems to be heading for the exits together with fossil fuels. How can society react? Read more…

The Economist feels peaky

Every now and then a glimps of the impending resource desaster makes it through the fog into the rooms of the editors of main stream media. To be fair to those people, they have to provide their readers with news, preferable with good news and peak-oil definitely falls not into that category. Let’s not judge these media types too hard though and be thankful for every little crumb of truth bread being fed to us. The Economist, a periodical almost as old as the venerable British Empire now defunct (are Scotland and Wales still part of it?), after Britain made Europe safe for communism and insisted that Poland should be owned by Stalin rather than Hitler (who never wanted it for keeps anyway), today opines that maybe, just maybe “supply is inadequate to keep up with rising demand“. Now how about that! Read more…

Tidal Energy Animation

Water has 1000 times the density of air. This means that with equal flow and rotor area the generated power for water turbines is 1000 times higher than for wind turbines. There is a lot of potential for power generation in the stormy waters that surround the British Isles. We predict that Britain once might rule the waves again. This time not with an imperial fleet in an unsatiable quest for new imperial territory (25% of the planet in 1920), but rather scraping the last few hundreds of megawatts from the bottom of the energy barrel.

[Wikipedia – tidal power]

Read more…

Huge Water Reserves In Africa

Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London (UCL) have mapped in detail the amount and potential yield of this groundwater resource across the continent. Greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in the large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad. The amount of storage in those basins is equivalent to 75m thickness of water across that area, which is huge… With careful exploring and construction, there is sufficient groundwater under Africa to support low yielding water supplies for drinking and community irrigation…This research… could have a profound effect on some of the world’s poorest people, helping them become less vulnerable to drought and to adapt to the impact of climate change.

* map shows amount of water present in aquifers.


Read more…

The Rising Shia Super Alliance

One of the, no doubt unintended, consequences of the US intervention in Iraq is that the country de facto has been handed over to the Iranian sphere of influence. Saddam was a dictator whose powerbase was rooted in the 18% Sunni minority. Installing democracy in an essentially tribal world, means that a country is going to be taken over by the largest tribe, and in case of Iraq that is the Shia majority of ca. 63%. And although the Shia flavor of Islam represents a minority, fate decided that most of the oil rich areas happens to be populated by Shia. Mind you: populated, not controlled. Not yet. Well, Iran and Iraq are, but Saudi-Arabia is Sunni controlled and does not like at all to see the rise of the Shia. To make matters worse, much of the Saudi territory that harbors the oilfields is Shia populated.
Read more…

London buses equiped with flywheels

[Source pic]
Pilot project involving 6 buses. Expected fuel savings up to 30%. If successfull, implementation on all 4,000 companies fleet buses could be considered. In essence, rather than wasting kinetic energy as heat in breaks, it is transformed in kinetic energy of a rotating flywheel (‘mechanical battery as it were’). This energy again is used to bring a bus up to speed from standstil and thus the bus engine saves fuel. Return on investment with current high fuel prices estimated to be five years.

Read more…

Donald Sadoway on Storage

Donald Sadoway is working on a battery miracle — an inexpensive, incredibly efficient, three-layered battery using “liquid metal.” 2MWh batteries are under construction.



[Source pic]
The situation with peak-oil and resource depletion in general is like this… we are on board of the Titanic. The food is excellent, the music is nice, the captain pleasant company. A few people however claim to know that the ship is going to crash into an iceberg and that nothing can be done about it. They also say to know that there are not enough lifeboats. The only thing have left is a certain amount of time. What is the rational thing to do? Read more…

Peak Oil Key Articles

  • Peak Oil [Wikipedia]
  • Peak Oil Primer []
  • Global energy crunch: how different parts of the world would react to a peak oil scenario [Elsevier]
  • The End of the Oil Age – Richard Heinberg []
  • Will The End of Oil Mean The End of America? – Robert Freeman []
  • The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge – Richard C. Duncan, Ph.D.[]
  • Recommended Books

    Richard Heinberg – The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
    The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times. In The Party’s Over, Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the twentieth century and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the twenty-first century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the United States—the world’s foremost oil consumer—is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a “managed collapse” that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

    Richard Heinberg – The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
    Economists insist that recovery is at hand, yet unemployment remains high, real estate values continue to sink, and governments stagger under record deficits. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits. Richard Heinberg’s latest landmark work goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes.

    Donella H. Meadows a.o. – Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
    Updated for the second time since 1992, this book, by a trio of professors and systems analysts, offers a pessimistic view of the natural resources available for the world’s population. Using extensive computer models based on population, food production, pollution and other data, the authors demonstrate why the world is in a potentially dangerous “overshoot” situation. Put simply, overshoot means people have been steadily using up more of the Earth’s resources without replenishing its supplies. The consequences, according to the authors, may be catastrophic: “We… believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the lifetimes of many who are alive today.” After explaining overshoot, the book discusses population and industrial growth, the limits on available resources, pollution, technology and, importantly, ways to avoid overshoot. The authors do an excellent job of summarizing their extensive research with clear writing and helpful charts illustrating trends in food consumption, population increases, grain production, etc., in a serious tome likely to appeal to environmentalists, government employees and public policy experts.

    F.William Engdahl – A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
    This book is a gripping account of the murky world of the international oil industry and its role in world politics. Scandals about oil are familiar to most of us. From George W. Bush’s election victory to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US politics and oil enjoy a controversially close relationship. The US economy relies upon the cheap and unlimited supply of this single fuel. William Engdahl takes the reader through a history of the oil industry’s grip on the world economy. His revelations are startling.

    Production and Consumption Data

    This post is going to be used to collect sources of production and consumption data of primary energy sources. This blogpost will be updated regularly and later probably given a link in the sidebar.

  • Rembrandt Koppelaar on World Energy Consumption 1830-2010, see graph above.
  • The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released full-year 2007-2011 world oil production data per country.
  • [] – “Home of the Internet’s most complete country profiles. This site contains detailed country statistics, charts, and maps compiled from multiple sources.
  • Gail Tverberg’s blog. Analysis of 2011 EIA oil supply data. Data about top 5 crude oil producers in 2011 (Russia, Saudi-Arabia, USA, China, Iran):

  • [] GasOverview
  • [] The world’s power plants
  • [] Electricity production per country from nuclear
  • [] Dutch power generation
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