Re: National Geographic Peak Oil

From: wallyshoes <>
Date: Tue May 25 2004 - 09:10:31 EDT

Al Koop wrote:

> >>> wallyshoes <> 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
> for decades.
> 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
> decades.

I have a friend who like to say that "figures lie and liars figure". he
would use alternate approaches to arrive at different answers. Let me take
his approach and see what a lower limit might be (using your 2% loss figure)
-- and assuming zero growth via conservation or something.

If you look at the US government page:

you see that in 1998. oil energy consumption was a factor of 5 greater than
nuclear. Therefore, to replace all oil completely it takes 5 times as many
nukes as we have today. That is additional 400 nukes. Since it would take 50
years to run oil usage to zero, that means 8 nukes per year -- not 52. That
many nukes per year is easily achievable and has been realized in the past.
By that time Glenn's Fusion reactors may happen.

The problem is one of starting -- It is not hopeless gloom and doom IMO

By an admitted non expert.


Walt Hicks <>

In any consistent theory, there must
exist true but not provable statements.
(Godel's Theorem)

You can only find the truth with logic
If you have already found the truth
without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
Received on Tue May 25 09:11:25 2004

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