The New Global Energy Thread - U.S. Per Capita Energy Consumption Plummets

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, May 8, 2009.

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  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The function of Deepwater Horizon was to complete the production well, which was very close to being done when the explosion occurred. The cause is still a mystery or hasn't been made public if it isn't. According to Oil & Gas Journal, this is what's being done to try to close off the leak:
    [1.]The drilling rig Development Driller III was being moved into position to drill a well to intercept the Macondo exploration well and inject a specialized heavy fluid to prevent flow of oil and gas. Workers then planned to permanently seal the original well.

    [2.]BP and Transocean also are using remotely operated vehicles in an attempt to activate a seabed blowout preventer on the well. In addition, [3.] they are designing and building an underwater dome to contain the oil, which then would be moved by pipe to the surface.

    The rig is resting on the ocean floor about 1,300 ft from the wellhead. Response officials estimate a total of 1,000 b/d of oil [now estimated at 5,000 b/d] is being released.


    Breaking this down further

    1. Development Driller III either arrived over the site on Monday or is expected this coming Monday, wasn't sure from the article, but whichever, option one is expected to take 2-3 months at a cost of more than $400,000 per day.

    2. This approach has been unsuccessful. The blowout preventer must look like it's somewhat intact, though, or they would not be pursuing this option.

    3. It's unknown whether the dome approach will work, since "the technology is designed for much shallower waters than the 1,522-meter-deep well that is currently leaking."

    Also from WSJ, more detail about where DH was in the process when the explosion happened:
    Transocean officials said workers had recently finished installing a steel production pipe into the well. The pipe also had been cementing the well in place by filling up the open area between the pipe and well walls.

    This should have prevented oil or gas from moving up the well, said Robert MacKenzie, managing director of energy and natural resources at FBR Capital Markets and a former cementing engineer in the oil industry.

    "A blowout after you set your final casing and cement, I've never heard of that," he said. "I cannot recall anything even remotely close to this, in terms of magnitude and scale. This is something that is exceedingly rare."
  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    On wind power...

    How much electricity does a single wind power generator actually generate? Enough to power a small neighborhood?

    I know it's a clean energy source, but I remember hearing that wind power is very inefficient, takes a lot of oil to construct, and doesn't generate a lot of electricity. (Never mind the fact that it's not always windy, or what maintenance may cost).

    But then I hear that some communties in Europe (I think Germany) which were paying their citizens to keep the lights ON because wind power had become so cheap, with excess elecricity being generated.
  3. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That's not a fixed answer. There are many types of wind turbines and they depend on favorable wind conditions, or they'll not generate much energy.

    It depends on their output rating. Some can range to as high as three megawatts. Others only a few kilowatts.

    Well it's a source of energy which won't be depleted, so it's worth the investment. If we don't, we'll not have any energy after all the oil is depleted.
  4. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    I'm pretty sure wind power is efficient and economically sound. It costs a lot to start up, but very little after that.
  5. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Upkeep and maintenance is fairly high for the energy produced. And don't forget interest on capital, which doomed nuclear energy in the US in the 1960's and 70's.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Upkeep for offshore wind is going to be higher than onshore. Ocean water is fairly brutal on equipment, also the turbines are harder to access.

  7. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Still offshore wind energy tends to be much more reliable than surface-based turbines. That, and their placement away from human activity, makes them much more favorable in many ways.

    Cost a lot more to build as well, so reliability always comes at a price.
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    This is going to be more than just environmentalists outraged over images of seabird chicks drowning in tar puddles. Louisiana is talking about a big chunk of the Gulf's seafood industry shutting down, maybe for months. It may destroy the shrimp catch for the season and wipe out the Louisiana oyster beds. We're looking at several billion dollars in clean up costs and potentially billions more in losses to commercial fishing, with perhaps years before a full recovery.

    Also, who want to place bets that BP deliberately misrepresented the rate the wellhead was leaking for a full week until the government came in and made an independent estimate?

    Interestingly, even $10 billion in clean up and compensation costs would be less than 6 months of BP profits. Despite that, their market cap has dropped by $20 billion as a result of the rig disaster, so either the markets have done a better job pricing the cost of the disaster than the media, or BP stock represents a great buy opportunity.
  9. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    I'd say the latter.

    Big Oil is not going anywhere anytime soon, and the stock is-comparatively-at a bargain basement price right now.

    You just have to take the long view, that's all.

    Peace,

    V-03
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    In terms of how bad it could get for fishing, Washington Post says Louisiana alone accounts for 10% of the total U.S. fish catch.

    It looks like the spill may have a larger impact on the Mississippi and Alabama coastline than Louisiana - most of the Louisiana oyster beds west of Venice may be spared at least.
  11. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I've been reading an article of which has peaked my interest.

    The Summary:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=boundaries-for-a-healthy-planet

    Original Scientific American site: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=breaking-the-growth-habit

    This particular article is exactly the kind of thing that I've expected since learning about numerous human environmental problems and their future implications. I expected that economic growth would eventually stagnate and eventually diminish once we've exploited the Earth for all it could yield.

    As peak oil becomes a prominent issue, we will start to realize our ways of life cannot be sustained for another 50 years and technology won't save us. All we've been able to do in the last ~200 years is find better ways to extract more coal, iron, oil, and other precious resources. Only to a limited extent have we figured a way to synthesize rubber and refine aluminum, but these depend on energy of which must be provided in some manner. The concern is that the rate in which we're converting to renewable sources won't keep up with the increasing demand for energy and diminishing oil reserves.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I listened to BP's CEO on NPR this morning. One thing seems extraordinarily clear to me: BP was drilling out of its technological depth, literally. Hayward talked about the containment dome they may try to lower over the wellhead (never been tested at this depth). Also, he talked about his surprise at the blowout preventer failure, which he described as "unprecedented." I'll bet they haven't installed many blowout preventers at this depth before either. In other words, Deepwater Horizon was out drilling at a depth where the wellhead completion and disaster response technolgy had not caught up.

    We can blame BP for this mess, and that seems fair to me, but there was a regulatory failure as well - a refusal by the government to take responsibility for ensuring that our coastline and fishing industry was safe.

    Obama can talk all he wants about how BP will pay for cleanup, but who takes responsibility for the damage that can't be remedied? The reality is that this spill can't be completely cleaned up at any price.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, I don't remember if this was discussed before, but Discover science magazine has an article on the PureGen coal plant.

    The PureGen coal plant is supposed to be able to extract just about every last bit of power from a standard lump of coal. It burns the hydrogen to produce electricity, and also converts some to ammonia and fuel cell energy when electricity isn't needed.

    The benefits are that coal is still plentiful in vast amounts, at least in the US. There's almost no waste. For the most part, by-products are water and trace amounts of nitrogen oxide. There's no carbon emissions like what's released from a standard coal fired plant.

    The disadvantages are that initial start up cost is about double what a regular coal plant costs. Although more efficient, it still involves mining and the release of some waste.

    Still, I'd say it's a solid interim step. If nuclear is also invested in, the overall efficiency of power generation would be sharply increased. Jabba, what else do you know about such plants like the PureGen example, and how do they fit into the overall "Mad Max" solution for the world?
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Hopefully, if it's a good technology it will survive and be replicated. Now is a difficult time for energy start up concepts. Commodity prices have fallen, overall demand remains suppressed in the U.S.
  15. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Well if this is supposed to be at least twice as efficient, then it would make sense to invest in the technology. The major reason that nuclear isn't as favored an energy source is because it's so expensive to build the power plant. Despite the operating costs being lower than coal, the interest on capital is what breaks the deal for nuclear energy. When it comes to coal, the cost for a 1 GW power plant is relatively low; but the constant demand of 15,000 tons of coal a day make it extremely expensive to operate. And yet, coal plants are only about 30-40% efficient. Doubling the output for a given sum of coal can more than make up for the price of the power plant itself over the operating lifetime.
  16. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
  17. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    We do live in the communications age, so that makes sense. More sense to work from home, rather than driving 30 km or more to get to work. Seriously consider how much energy you require to push a car at 100 km/hour over an extended period of time and you are soon to realize that it takes significantly more fuel to drive than to operate all your home's electrical demands.

    Even something like simple mail... fewer envelopes and letters have to be manufactured. You don't have to load as much into mail trucks or UPS air carriers across vast distances. If the post office were to operate like UPS, where you only deliver to a specified location, then it would mean fewer post office workers are needed all around.

    Unfortunately there is still a lot of paper used for transactions all over the world. You just don't see that printed receipt copied and stored over in India for that prescription drug you order every month. It may be less than what they originally used, but it's still a lot of paper, whereas ONLY digital storage would have saved a lot of space, time, and energy.
  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Great article about water shortages, desalination and energy consumption in Australia. The Australians are investing heavily in desalination, but of course since their primary energy source is coal, desalination means burning more coal.

    Arid Australia Sips Seawater, but at a Cost
  19. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    It mentions using wind power as well as coal for the desalination plants. I wonder how well the footprints of the two plants can overlap, putting wind power plants on top of desalination plants.
  20. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Arid Australia would do far better with solar thermal desalinization. 90% of the landscape is just worthless desert pavement, so why not make use out of it?
  21. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    I don't really consider myself a green nut, but calling the desert "worthless" is no better than calling a rain forest or a mountain or a swamp "worthless." These is life in the desert, and beauty for those who can see it.
  22. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I know that. I know that arid climates do support their own kind of ecosystem, but the economic value of desert land is next to nothing. But if it came between destroying the ecosystem of a unit of desert for a solar power plant, or destroying a mountain top ecosystem to strip mining for a coal deposit... the arid landscape supports much less life than almost any other location on Earth.

    Life will be destroyed, no matter what economic activities humans perform. The best solution is to try and minimize the impact to an environment as much as possible.
  23. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    I posted this in a different thread, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more appropriate here.

    What do people think? I understand the basic science here, but a lot of this is over my head.

    Do people think this is economically viable? Could it rescue an ailing US economy?

    Peace,

    V-03
  24. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I'm not sure I got this figured out. 'Reactor' may pretty much give away that this is nuclear, but I don't know if this is an improved fission design or a new concept for fusion. I didn't exert a lot of effort in reading it, but I don't exactly have a point of reference to know what this is based on.
  25. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    It's not nuclear at all.

    It's a self-regenerative electrolysis system that uses hydrogen as a catalyst and, according to the owner, liberates many times more energy than it consumes, which would be a panacea for the energy industry.

    For example, the process only uses 1% of reaction energy to regenerate the catalyst, with somewhere along the lines of a 1:200 input/output ratio for energy generation.

    If this is true, it's an incredible breakthrough. They have designs on their website for cars and airplanes using this method; the car alone could generate 267 hp with water vapor as the only waste product and a special fuel cell that costs only $4600 and weighs less than half of what a conventional electric car battery would.

    Just a thought.

    Peace,

    V-03
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