Thanks for all the kind words...

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cmartenson's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5974
Thanks for all the kind words...

Hello - I am taking a break from writing to, uh, write some more!

First, I have flipped the comments over so that they display from newest to oldest.

Here are some responses to earlier comments:

  • Nuclear Power. The Net Energy of nuclear is hard to get a firm grasp on and the estimates are all over the place.  They range from 1.5 to 30.  Much of the difficulty lies in where the boundary is drawn (what gets included in the calculation) and what technology is being assessed.  However, there is another, more important view, that allows us to completely sidestep these debates. A 2005 study by Van Leeuwen suggests that there may only be a decade or two of uranium left at current rates of consumption. Clearly to replace any significant portion of oil's energy would require a tripling or quadrupling (or more) of the the currently installed nuclear power base so the assumption of a constant rate of consumption  does not hold.  The issue here is that we've already mined all of the high grade Uranium ore and are now chasing desperately thin yields.  Where we used to mine Uranium ores that were 10% or better, today's best ores are in the range of 0.8% to 0.02%.  At 0.01% the amount of energy to mine the Uranium is exactly equal to the energy returned.  We are now operating mines dangerously close to the net energy boundary where it is no longer a useful activity.
  • I see lots of passion for Hydrogen and I wish I shared it.  It is a magical substance and very abundant.  Unfortunately it's all locked up and it takes energy to liberate it.  The only useful discussions around hydrogen have to move past emotion and hope and enter the world of practicality.  Steve was asking the right questions below.  Where will the energy come from to split the hydrogen?  How will we store and transport hydrogen, which requires special metals due to its exceptionally small diameter?  Where will we get the energy to completely build out new production, storage, and distribution infrastructure, let alone all new cars and appliances to run on the stuff?  These are not necessarily insurmountable obstacles, but they will require a quite methodical and careful approach
  • Cellulosic ethanol, and all ethanols, are non-starters for me.  In each case they require something to be grown on land that is then removed from that land.  Any backyard gardener can tell you that is not a sustainable approach as soil depletion sets in the minute you begin to consistently remove material from the site.  As soon as I see an ethanol plan that has full, closed-loop recycling, or at least a sustainable nutrient replacement program in place, then I will change my mind.  I haven't even seen the slightest glimmer of this yet.  Virtually every ethanol plan I've seen has exogenous nitrogen/potassium/phosphorus implicitly assumed at its core.  Bad assumption, as those are all fossil fuel derived or mined.  Once this gets solved, the usual host of scale, time and cost questions arise.  Instead, we have to face the fact that our liquid fuel way of life is going to have to change.

That's all for now.  Back to writing.  Thanks for all the comments.

Chris Martenson, PhD.

Demi.Moaned's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 2
Hydrogen, Solar and Wind
Chris, I've really enjoyed your series and am eager for the remaining installments. I completely agree with your describing hydrogen as a kind of battery (energy store), and honestly I don't think I ever saw it described as an energy source. But it raises a question that I've never seen addressed. Isn't hydrogen a potentially great solution to the chief problem with solar and wind power-- i.e., their intermittency?

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