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Of course a big generator is very comfortable. But at some point the fuel runs out and leaves you with nothing. Mike is right. Cut down on consumption. In case of a long term emergency you do not want to maintain the previous comfort level, better to get used to much lower standards of living. It is easier to survive on a low level, rather than falling from al cliff and on your way down through the long term modest standard. It is like a wildfire: only small animals survive.
You never run out of a combination of solar, wind and wood. A well maintained battery pack lasts many years. And if you never want to sit in the dark, buy a small woodgas powered generator, only to charge the battery pack, in case wind and sun let you down a few days.
Well, here in the Netherlands we had a very dry, hot and sunny spring. Summer was cold and wet. Now it is still to humid. Tomatoes are suffering of blight, even in the greenhouse, although the greenhouse harvest was good. Never had so much and so big (early) potatoes, but we had to water them. Most fruit did and does very well, except for cherries and plums. Wheat was good, but the straw is lost due to too frequent rain. Onions were early too, just like pumkins. Many beans. Much of what is still standing is suffering of the moist and caterpillars. The later could be caused by the fact that our permagarden has not yet stabilized.
All in all not a too bad season, just some vegs did fine, while others did not. Perhaps next year it is the other way round. Doesn’t matter, canned vegs and fruits last over two years anyway, so we remain to have a very wide diet.
Drive as less as possible. Adapt your life to that. One of the important changes in lifestyle post-peak.
However, there is nothing wrong to own a car and use it seldom. My choice would be the simplest type that can be maintained with the average tools you already have. Carburettor type, no electronics. Perhaps the older diesels. You might add a donor car for parts.
Why buy a new expensive car now, when there might come a time that they can be had for free? A car is the ultimate representative for the present world problems. Often bought with a loan, it is made of and consumes fossile fuels, it stands for somewhat excessive consumerism and is not very sustainable. How recognizable…
Mind you, I love cars. But I do not neccesarily drive a lot in them.
Your last question cannot be answered, because one needs to know the R-values of walls, floor and ceiling to calculate the heat losses. You also need to know the efficiency of the used stove, which can be as bad as 40% or as good as 90%. The moist content of the wood if of importance. Too many unknown numbers.
My advice is –
1) Buy the biggest wood burning stove you can get.[/quote]
If you mean a mass heater, I fully agree. But not in case of a lightweight cast iron stove. Each stove has a small range where it burns both clean and efficient. A mass heater (masonry) runs a hot clean fire, while the mass accumulates the heat, releasing this slowly over time. Operating a too big cast iron stove means either heating cleanly, but with the windows opened or having a dirty too small fire. Or waste efficiency by excess combustion air, stealing the heat an releasing it by the chimney.
Always buy a stove on which you also can cook. Always season your wood. Start growing your own wood if you do not live near a forest. Last year we passed the tipping point of being payed to cut someones tree down and have the wood, to now pay for it. We live in a country in which 99% of the homes has access to natural gas, but people are hoarding wood…
I read about the Crash Course on the Yahoo Wastewatts group. Chris had just finished lesson # 12. Daily vistor since that time.
Let’s explore a typical calculation of the EROI of the hydrogen fuel cycle for cars:
- Suppose we generate the hydrogen by the electrolysis of water. First we must “rectify” the grid’s AC electricity into DC, at a cost of about 2% to 3% of the energy contained in the hydrogen.
- Now we can electrolyze the water, but that process is only about 70% efficient, so we lose another 30% there.
- Now we have hydrogen gas, but it takes up a lot of space. We could compress it to around 10,000 psi to make it fit in reasonably sized tank, which costs another 15%. But even then, it would only have about one-fifth of the energy density of gasoline, and the pressurized tank needed to store it is very heavy, large and expensive. So if we wanted to use it in a vehicle, we would have to liquefy the hydrogen by cooling it down to about -253°C and keep it in a pressurized, insulated container instead. This process would cost another 30% to 40% of the energy in the hydrogen.
- We lose some more during storage because hydrogen boils off above -253°C, so it’s very difficult to keep it from escaping its container. In vehicles, about 3% to 4% of the hydrogen boils off every day. And at least 10% of the hydrogen will boil off during delivery and storage.
- Then we burn the hydrogen in a vehicle’s fuel cell at an efficiency of about 50% (for a proton membrane fuel cell stack).
- And finally, we lose another 10% of the energy that makes it to the electric motors driving the wheels, because they are only about 90% efficient.
In the end, about 80% of the original energy generated in order to produce the hydrogen is lost, for an EROI of 0.25. Since it doesn’t pay to have an energy regime with an EROI of less than one, hydrogen cars seems a permanent improbability.
Fits exactly to what I am told by our local university. There will never be a hydrogen economy. There is only one solution to solve the worlds energy and resources problem: less consumption by less people. Most other solutions are temporary prosthesis.
Do not use a cheap charge controller in combination with gel cels. Gel cels hate a too long or high absorbtion charge. Ask your battery supplier at what absorbtion voltage your controller needs to be set. Overcharging will dry them out.
I like my deep cycle flooded forklift batteries. But I would kick them out today, if I could lay hands on the old fashioned nickel-iron batteries. Perhaps not the most efficient, but they last a life time and can be abused. There is a Chinese manufacturer, but besides that new ni-fe’s are very expensive, the quality seems not to be very constant.
I would not go for biodiesel, since you also need methanol. And it has a bad EROI. Better to adapt the hardware and use the crude (bio)oil. Big problem can be filtration. You need reusable filters.
Then there is the place you live. Can you grow canola? Or do you live in a forest? Then I would take wood and convert a petrol car. In a sunny desert solar power could be the best option. For all options count that you need to take a truck, car, tractor, generator that is very common.
Suppose for a second some people are able to produce their own fuel from thir own stock.
Yes, me, driving on wood, grown on my own lot. It showed me the hard way that people like Heinberg and Kunstler are right. Trying to keep personal transportation going by biofuels is a desperate move. Not a long term solution. It cannot be scaled up, the basic car itself wears out to a point where no parts are available and it creates a situation with haves and have-nots. All attempts are temporary and personal solutions.
Here, in lowlands Western Europe, we are lucky to have our ancient structure of small cities surrounded by agricultural land. We do not need much transportation. I think that is the direction to go: avoid excessive transportation and move to a place with a mild climate, where all you need for a simple life is available. Forget present standards of living.
In the end, all our future problems boil down to consumption and population, both grown beyond sustainability. Most post peak books I’ve read can be summarized by that one sentence.