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admin 20.02.2015

For an introduction to energy terminology, and the basic physics and thermodynamics needed to understand energy issues, see Energy Fundamentals. Averaged over the 8760 hours of the year, 100 Quads per year is an average of 3.4 TW of power. Averaged over the 8760 hours of the year, 450 Quads per year is an average of 15 TW of power.
See also World Resources Institute's energy database, and BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2007.
The European Tribune is a forum for thoughtful dialogue of European and international issues. I have been sent an extremely interesting presentation by  Dr Steven Koonin, the chief scientist at BP (it can be downloaded from this page) which includes a few graphs and tables that shed a harsh light on our addiction on oil.
Despite a 23% improvement in motor efficiency, the USA increased its fuel consumption by 11% between 1990 and 2001. This one below shows the primary energy consumption per capita for each country around the world.
And there is an obvious link between carbon emissions and energy use, with only slight variants in countries that are endowed with more coal (Greece, China) or hydro (Brazil) or made specific policy choices (like France with nuclear). And yet, the biggest worry is that, while the USA is the biggest culprit in volume, it is not the only one, and it is probably not even the most worrying for our future prospects. I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact.
I've got a bit of a problem with the very first chart, which shows a lot of "lost energy." In the referenced report there are a bunch of explanations about the efficiency assumptions, which seem fine but also seem to miss the point. And second, there are improvements in efficiency that could be made, and they would change the ratio of "useful" to "lost" energy.
So I think that the blue part of the chart should be ignored, or at least viewed in context.
I think the main point here was that increasing efficiency couldn't counter increased demands, not so much arguing that there ever will be a way to device no lost energy, that is, 100% efficiency. Note, by the way, that electrical motors for transportation have a very low efficiency (about 30%) so a plug-in electrical car has an energy efficiency of about 10%, much worse than an internal combustion engine. In the case of something like oil, which is chemically much more complex than coal or natural gas, it just makes no sense to burn it instead of saving it as a raw material for industry.


For this one I will be probably rapped on the head, but I do it anyway: Want to reduce driving? I think the initial chart confirms what many of us have been thinking, improvements in efficiency keep the cost of travel per mile from growing very rapidly. Alternatives are not being considered by government officials (at least those in key policy positions).
It is clear that those of us inclined to save resources (like, say, oil by using public transportation) will not make a dent in demand as guzzlers will just be able to consume more at the same price because of lessened competition for the said resources. I had no idea that fully sixty percent of energy used was wasted - a lot of it through electrical transmission. Electrical transmission is not the main culprit, as electricity generation has basically the same thermodynamic efficiency limitations as transportation.
As an example, the old steam engines basically worked between the boiling point of water (~375K and ambient temperature ~300K) and so had thermodynamic losses of 80% . The white paper outlines key questions and design elements for a national greenhouse gas program in order to facilitate discussion and the development of consensus around the creation of a bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
Therefore, comparison with other power generation methods is strongly dependent on assumptions about construction timescales and capital financing for nuclear plants as well as the future costs of fossil fuels and renewables as well as for energy storage solutions for intermittent power sources. In 2005, worldwide energy consumption rates were around 16*10^12 watts (think 160 billion 100-watt light bulbs).
Additionally, according to the US Energy Information Administration world energy consumption is projected to increase by 50 percent from 2005 to 2030. Even if growths slows down in a number of countries, you will still have record numbers of people reaching income levels where they can afford a car - and they WILL use one.
You started one earlier energy diary with the idea that energy is the coming issue and if the Dems don't take it up, the Republicans will.
But even with improved efficiency, there would still be a lot of unavoidable "lost" energy.
It is true that the maximum theoretical thermodynamic efficiency of an internal combustion engine is about 60%, but the point is, internal combustion is not the smartest way to use a scarce resource like fossil fuels. The thermodynamic efficiency is probably similar to that of internal combustion engines, and the rest is mostly the result of losses in transmission. That's why the industrial and domestic sectors have comparatively low losses (20% and 25% respectively).


Use non-renewable sources of energy for heat generation (use gas for heating your house or melting steel) and renewables for actually doing work (in the Physics sense of the term).
As a consequence the "benefits" of living in a fringe community continue to outweigh the costs.
People in the US are not yet ready to alter their expectations and strive to own a big vehicle and a house on a plot in a housing community away from the city center. Using a simple-minded steam engine for electricity generation has thus a baseline efficiency of no better than 20%.
For example, the voltage on the lines could be increased, which reduces the current and therefore the loss.
Cost estimates also need to take into account plant decommissioning and nuclear waste storage costs. With the accelerated use of information technology and the technological development of second and thirdworld countries, consumption will continue to increase.
The largest projected increases in energy consumption are expected from developing economies such as India and China.  Around 90% of the world’s energy is derived from the combustion of fossil fuels and experts anticipate that energy extraction from fossil fuels will not change drastically by 2030. There is always going to be a pretty big blue line on this sort of chart, simply as a result of thermodynamics. Use also distributed electricity generation from local sources (wind, solar, tidal and geothermal) as much as possible.
The only consolation, if any, is that we will be shielded from the initial shock as we have already adapted our lifestyle to using less energy, and so energy represents a lower fraction of our expenses.
On the other hand measures to mitigate global warming, such as a carbon tax or carbon emissions trading, may favor the economics of nuclear power.Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, costs are likely to go up for currently operating and new nuclear power plants, due to increased requirements for on-site spent fuel management and elevated design basis threats.
Both of these represent considerable cost increments, but as the cost of energy changes then the operating point for transmission technology will also change.
So I speculate: the more obese one is, the larger the attraction becomes to use the car, instead of taking a walk.




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