# Re: National Geographic Peak Oil

From: Al Koop <koopa@gvsu.edu>
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 14:04:36 EDT

>>> wallyshoes <wallyshoes@mindspring.com> wrote:

I really do not understand some the numbers that are tossed around here.
According to the US DOE:

The electricity in the United States is generated as follows:

Coal 43%
Gas 19%
Nuclear 15%
Renewable 12%
Petroleum 8%
Pumped Hydroelectric 3%

As can be seen, petroleum is only half of what nuclear generates. If
nuclear
plants number 100, then it would take 50 of them total to replace the
existing petroleum plants. That is one per 2%, not one per week.

The problem is one of cars, not electrical power. In fact, nuclear
plants
could also become that "hydrogen mine" that we need for automotive
power.

AK: As Glenn defended me in a later post, this 1 nuke per week referred
to replacing ALL of the oil we will lose in a declining environment, not
just the energy used to produce electricity. When the oil supply does
start to decline, the gasoline for cars will have to be derived from
synthetic fuel from coal or from electrical power for a battery or to
generate hydrogen from water. (if we continue to use cars). The US uses
about 20 million barrels of oil per day now. Ignoring 1-2 % growth that
is typically considered to be necessary for a good economy, this means
we will have to replace 0.4 million barrels of oil per day every year

In Michigan the three nuclear plants that we use have units that each
produce approx. 1GWe (gigawatt electrical energy) There is a question
of how you relate a thermal GW from oil to an electrical GW from a
nuclear plant. I cannot really address that issue now other than to
take the assertion of the person cited below.

Now this is the calculation from another list:

One barrel of oil has about 6 gigajoules
(6 GJ = 6e9 joules) of thermal energy.

A million barrels of oil has 1e6 x 6e9 J = 6e15 joules
The thermal power of 1e6 bbl/day is
= 6e15/(24x60x60) = 7e10 watts = 70e9 watts
= 70 Gigawatts thermal (70 GWt)
= 70,000 Megawatts thermal (70,000 MWt)

(A typical nuclear generating plant generates about 1 GWe
from 3 GWt, generating about 2 GW of waste heat.)

70 GWt is surely too little to replace a million barrels of oil per day.
160 GWt might also be too little. I
said in my original post, very optimistically, that 105 GWt might be
necessary to replace the chemical energy of 70 GWt from oil, but
really all I know for sure is that 70 GWt won't do it. I think your
160 GWt from nuclear to replace 70 GWt from oil is probably much
more likely.

But to repeat my original suggestion now that we are on the same
page: A 2% decline per year in the oil available in the US would
require roughly (probably more) one big nuke coming on line every
week as long as the decline lasted, if economic growth is to
continue (assumes 2% per year oil consumption growth). If it takes
five years to build a nuke, that means that 250 nukes (or 250 coal
plants) would have to be under construction at all times for several