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Future of energy is electric, and increasingly green

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There are disagreements on the when of the future of energy being electric, not the if

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that advanced economies tend to rely on electricity for a larger portion of their total energy demand.

With increased interest to move towards a low carbon future, this trend will only accelerate because electricity can be generated from a variety of sources including abundant and increasingly cheap renewable resources.

Putting the two together, the future will not only be electric but green electric. This not only has major implications for energy but on geopolitics of energy. No need to shed blood for oil.

That, in a nutshell is the message of a Special Report on the geopolitics of energy, which appeared in the 17 Mar 2018 issue of The Economist, titled The New Power of Superpowers. In an Op-Ed in the same issue, The Economist writes:

“Oil shaped the 20th century. ….. But the 21st century will see the oil’s influence wane. Cheap natural gas, renewable energy, electric vehicles and coordinated efforts to tackle global warming together mean that the power of choice will be electricity.”

As The Economist notes, the transition of the global energy system to electric and that of electricity to renewable resources is not going to be easy, nor immediate but – as supported by a number of articles in this issue – the transition is already underway and seems inevitable. The only remaining arguments are about how widespread and how soon.

Speaking of the disagreements, on the one extreme are incumbent fossil fuel and auto industries – some of whom may still be in a state of denial and/or disbelief.

Those in this camp argue that such a transition simply isn’t feasible – given our current overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels – and even if it were, it will be a very slow and protracted transition over many decades. They claim that the industry’s assets are sound, and investments won’t be stranded.

An example of this line of reasoning is the following quote attributed to Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil and the former US Secretary of State before President Donald Trump abruptly fired him via an early morning tweet.

“When coal came into the picture, it took about 50 or 60 years to displace timber. Then, crude oil was found, and it took 60, 70 years, and then natural gas. So it takes 100 years or more for some new breakthrough in energy to become the dominant source. Most people have difficulty coming to grips with the sheer enormity of energy consumption.”

We get it. In the energy sector, things don’t happen overnight. But if anybody thinks the transition to green electricity is going to take 100, or even 50 years – as suggested by Mr. Tillerson – this editor’s advice is to think again.

Things that used to take 50 years or more now happen in 5-10 years. Volkswagen, among the world’s biggest automakers, for example, is planning a major overhaul of its manufacturing in the next 5 years, not 10 or 20 (article on page 3). In 10 years, VW, like many other major automakers is going to look significantly different than it does today.

Similarly, there are those who like to – repeatedly – remind us that globally, renewables account for a miniscule percentage of our current energy consumption.

True, in 2017, electric vehicle (EV) sales in the US were a mere 1% of the total. But all indications are that those numbers will rise, and once a tipping point is reached, they will move mainstream, and before you know it, internal combustion engines (ICEs) may be banned and/or phased out.

The Economist wrote the ICE’s obituary in Aug 2017 when it put a picture of an internal combustion engine on its cover with Roadkill above it (visual on front page). In an Op-Ed, it said,

“The internal combustion engine has had a good run – and could still dominate shipping and aviation for decades to come. But on land, electric motors will soon offer freedom and convenience more cheaply and cleanly.”

It referred to a prediction by UBS, a major international bank, suggesting that EVs could make up 14% of global car sales by 2025. Perhaps not 2025, and perhaps not 14%, but many expect the current 1% figure to grow to double digits by 2025.

Few cities and countries have proposed to ban the sale of ICEs as early as 2030, others, including a couple of oil majors are now looking at 2040 scenarios as the date when ICE sales may be restricted or banned as reported in the April 2018 issue of this newsletter.

The point?

To refute Mr. Tilleson’s assertion that the transition will take a very long time. Fundamentally, everyone agrees that things won’t happen overnight.

At the same time, the speed with which things are happening today suggests that this transition will happen a lot faster than the Tillerson generation is used to.

Source: EEnergy Informer. Reproduced with permission.

  

Pocket
  • The green future will include a few huge surprises.

    Any combustion engine can soon be cheaply and easily converted to run on water (fresh or salt). See MOVING BEYOND OIL at aesopinstitute.org to learn more. Imagine ships fueled by the water they float in. And for vehicles, the water can be extracted from the air.

    Electric cars will have on-board recharge. They will be power plants when suitably parked. Selling electricity or powering buildings.

    Piston engines and turbines have been invented that need no fuel. They will run 24/7 on ambient solar energy, a huge reservoir larger than Earth’s fossil fuel reserves. See the same website. These engines will be an alternative to intermittent solar panels and wind. They will readily compete with fossil fueled engines and turbines.

    • Warwick Sands

      The site fails to load but your summation seems to break a few of the fundamental laws of physics.

      • Warwick, Try a different browser. That will bring up the site.

        This is new science. The website includes some explanations. More is available upon request. [email protected] I’m glad to address questions.

    • palmz

      To many colors dude, (In that link) and as far as I can tell the following is kinda misleading

      Diesel Engines on the 16 Largest Ships Create More Pollution Than All The Cars In The World

      page 14 on tab two

      And why so many capitals. (First word not most)

      The site later states it as nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide …based of a news paper report…..(no peer review?)

      • A bit of research will confirm that the 16 largest ships produce an incredible amount of pollution. They burn a huge amount of Bunker oil.

        The inventions on the site reflect breakthrough science not yet generally accepted. Kahn wrote that science advances funeral by funeral. We do not any longer have that luxury.

        Ken Rauen who invented most of AESOP’s fuel-free engines and Bill Harrington who is converting a small Tecumseh to demonstrate fuel-free operation, are the author’s of Temporal Wave Mechanics (TWM), a proposed successor to Quantum Mechanics.

        Ken has been invited to Present TWM at the Astrophysics & Particle Physics Conference in Chicago in December. He has published earlier versions in Infinite Energy Magazine. Anyone interested, email me for a copy.

        • palmz

          Not what I said and please don’t self promote when it is relevant. I said it was misleading to pretend that NO2 and SO2 are the only pollution made by cars and this ships most cars are very good at not producing those two gases these days.

          The global shipping fleet is well known for being very polluting.

    • John Saint-Smith

      “Aesop” was know for his book of fables. This is another in a proud tradition of BS for suckers with more money than sense.
      I did get the website to load, and the video played and showed lots of lovely complex designs ‘engines’ which supposedly worked by concentrating ordinary atmospheric heat and converting it into kinetic energy in the form of a spinning turbine, which could then drive a vehicle or even power a jet aircraft – wow. Presumably the exhaust would be a stream of very cold air, which you could then use for air conditioning.
      Imagine the possibilities. You’d run your car engine on hot air, or use it to generate electricity, and air-condition your home all from the same low grade heat source.
      But at no stage did the spokesman, Aesop CEO “Mark Goldes’, make any attempt to explain the physics behind this remarkable trick, but he wasn’t too shy to ask for money up front to help ‘build a prototype’.
      Buy my snake oil?
      Oh dear, Mr Goldes, are you serious, are you even Mr Goldes?

      • AESOP’s fables taught lessons neglected by schools. One might say they were fabulous as they remain popular even today.

        Yes, engines that run on ambient heat exhaust cold air. They will indeed air condition a home or office.

        The physics is partially explained under NO FUEL PISTON ENGINES and FUEL FREE TURBINES on the website. A White Paper is available with a more complete explanation of the piston engines with a signed NDA.

        Major funds are pending. AESOP is seeking modest Convertible Bridge Loans which can be repaid in 90 days if desired. See the website for additional details.

        The Wright Brothers were widely disbelieved for 5 years after the flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. In 1908 the New York Times, the Smithsonian and Scientific American admitted they had really flown.

        Fuel-free engines will be in the market next year. Many will not believe they are possible until they can experience the reality.

        NikolaTesla wrote: “In this present world …a revolutionary idea or invention is hampered – by selfish interests, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance. It is attacked and stifled and passes through bitter trials and tribulations. …All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed, only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”

        • John Saint-Smith

          I would expect a peer reviewed scientific demonstration please. Even the Wright Bros were believed when others saw their aircraft flying. I will reserve my judgement until then. And you should refrain from asking for money before you have your ‘proof of concept’. I note that you didn’t offer me any evidence of an actual working model that real engineers could study.

          I recall a chap called Stephen Horvath who claimed to have a ‘hydrogen’ engine which ran on H2 from electrolysed water in the petrol tank, powered by the engine’s own alternator. When scientists asked for the boot of the car where they suspected a hydrogen cylinder was lurking to be unlocked, Horvath claimed that he had lost the key. When a journalist offered to drill the lock and pay for the damage, Horvath ‘found’ his keys and drove off.

          Without a more convincing demonstration than that – you have produced nothing but a series of incomprehensible diagrams and a lot of gobbledegook – I’m not buying it.

          • A Ford engine was successfully converted by Chris Hunter in Alaska. The details are in the last few pages under NO FUEL PISTON ENGINES on the site. Hunter has invited any engineer to reproduce it.

            A Tecumseh engine using the same approach, filling the sealed engine with propane as a refrigerant, is undergoing final tests prior to an invitation to a distinguished independent lab to verify and validate.

            Rauen engines will need no propane or other refrigerant.

            The first prototype of his approach failed to overcome friction but proved the science. The data has been presented at several scientific conferences without refutation.

            An improved, self-running, Rauen design will be completed later this year. Pilot plant production will follow.

          • palmz

            If it could not overcome the friction how can one of these engines have a similar HP outout that it would have had if it were diesel (its on your site stating that the output would be similar)

            I think you just stuffed up mate!

      • Rod

        Someone posted a link to a sceptic site that shows this is a scam but the post disappeared.

      • Steve

        Second law of thermodynamics. Carnot efficiency.

        All that needs to be said.

        BTW this joker was on this site about twelve months ago.

        Don’t feed the trolls

    • John Saint-Smith

      You claim ‘Fuel free engines will be in the market next year’

      But when Elon Musk announces a new vehicle that he hopes will be entering the market next year, he at least has a working prototype. Where’s yours?

      I’ve looked for your evidence, but when I attempt to open your documents there’s a paywall!. When I watch a video purporting to ‘explain’ the theory, I’m offered a five minute farce. Two minutes of introduction, and one minute of incomprehensible fluff about a compression which is also an expansion, with more time wasted by a translation from English into German.

      People have been claiming perpetual motion machines which extract ‘free energy from the ‘space between the molecules’ or some such crap for years.

      I’m afraid you’re no different from the rest until you bring something to the table which works as you claim.

      What annoys me the most is your attempts to make yourself sound ‘genuine’ by borrowing quotes from Bill McKibben, James Hansen and other well respected people. Have they endorsed your ‘converted piston engines’? Why would you make a ham-fisted conversion of a petrol engine which is designed on totally different physical principles instead of designing and building something which exploits this fabled energy more effectively? I think my previous post has provided the explanation for that.

    • Alec Sevins

      Water is only an energy SOURCE when it falls via gravity. You can’t burn water and cracking its molecular structure takes external energy.

      Your fantastic claims are unfortunately not much more exaggerated than fantasies of powering the global economy with ugly wind turbines and feeble solar panels, though the latter should definitely be put on as many roofs as possible.

      People don’t want to admit that major downsizing is the only thing that would allow true sustainability. There are just too many people and too many needs to feed with energy sources that pale in comparison to the fossil fuels that built this bloated system.

  • Jon

    I believe even the optimistic of us will be surprised how quickly the transition will happen.
    The power distribution network is in place.
    The new and replacement components to convert to a very high percentage of renewable generation is modular and requires minimal (compared to other generation equipment) site works.
    The economics of green generation are good enough that new players will keep entering the market to get a slice of the “zero marginal cost generation” pie.
    The efficiency of homes and businesses are improving rapidly so there is over capacity in our distribution network in all but very peak demand situations.
    Electric vehicles are now proven technology, Musk has made having a EV more sexy than nerdy and the big automakers are all starting to develop and release models.

    I think we’re in for a big shift and quickly, 2030 will look much different than now.

    • Alec Sevins

      You are dreaming at best. Did you know that all the world’s wind turbines (250,000+) aren’t even generating half a percent of the total energy supply? To get even 10% of the total from wind power would require desecration of untold land and ocean vistas, even if it was economically practical.

      There are too many heavy applications that will never be practical for stationary generators, battery power or onboard solar. Spend some time studying the actual physics instead of pushing a pipe dream of ruined landscapes and dead birds & bats equating to “clean energy.”

      • Jon

        I think history will prove that I wasn’t dreaming enough.
        Your numbers seem a little skewed.
        Just using Aus as an example, most of our emmisissions come from electrical power generation and domestic rooftop solar is producing better than 3% and climbing, and wind is similar.

        Please explain which heavy applications aren’t able to be run with RE power?

  • Malthus Anderson

    I expect nearly all electric cars/buses and almost zero coal-fired power by 2030, world-wide.

  • Ian

    What are the alternatives to ICE vehicles? Is it the statement : as ICE->0% , EV-> 100%. If we want to disrupt the ICE monopoly then we need to look at something oblique and different. Considering that most journeys are short and relate to commuting, this is the place to start looking for solutions and place to put roadblocks in the way of ICE vehicles.

    Suburbs and cars are two faces of the same coin and our quest for freedom from the dominance of oil should start at the suburb level. Public transport is best served by concentrated pickup points and concentrated destinations. Ambulatory and bicycle type transport served by very short travel distances.

    The thing with suburban houses is that these are not really suitable for all people. Out of the whole lifecycle of a person what proportion of their years is best served living in a suburban home ? From 0yo to 18yo dependent on parent or parents, 18yo to 30yo a person is trying to gain an education and become established in the working life and trying to start a family. From 60yo to 70yo downsizing and from 70 yo onwards looking for help and security. So for only half or less of a person’s life they need a home with space and independence , for the last third of their life they need community support and help, for 10 to 15years they need to be close to tertiary education facilities and close to the action in a city environment. Housing needs to reflect these needs and the suburb, with its shrinking block size and encroachment on the rural land scape at the city limits is not cutting it. We should be aiming for say 20 to 30% city apartments, 20 to 30% lifestyle apartments , 10 to 20% retirement housing and a much smaller number of suburban houses say 20%.

    People baulk at the idea of crowded apartment living but there are ways to mitigate this. Plenty of parks, sporting and other amenities. Working families can be encouraged to live in higher density accommodation by providing plenty of advantages from large housing units with ample storage , to parks, hospitals and schools within easy reach. There is no reason why a person should not be able to walk their child to soccer or to tennis, walk to the pub or church, dine at a restaurant downstairs, cycle to the gym or pool, catch a bus or tram to work and only sometimes pack the kids in the car to hit the open road.

    Often people change accommodation including purchased accommodation very frequently. Either to suit their jobs or life situation, or to crawl up the property ladder, or to downsize. Impediments to this kind of owner/occupier mobility should be removed. The biggest of these is the stamp duty and loan establishment fees.

    We have many examples from history and from place and culture of very successful non-suburb built environments. England or Switzerland for instance have hundreds of very livable rural villages. Singapore has worked hard to integrate lifestyle with high rise high density living. Not every apartment building needs to look like a Soviet era depressing Khrushchyovkas.

  • Brunel

    Ships should be easier to electrify than cars – there are only a few places where ships can dock but cars can go anywhere.

    WA is basically empty, while banning petrol cars in Holland could work.

    Moreover, not many are passionate about the sound coming from ships – while people are still passionate about steam trains and Puffing Billy still runs.

    Hopefully we can come to a sensible arrangement – a $1 million tax on every petrol car imported after 2030 and use the money to electrify the SYD to MEL railway.

    • PLDD

      Don‘t most of the places cars go have petrol. As electricity is far easier to transport* than petrol that isn’t a barrier to EV’s.

      The challenge with ships is they go a long long way – steady and slow. Stopping to refuel is a lot of time out of their schedule. And I suspect recharging will be more frequent with electrical power.

      * you can also use solar panels to generate if really isolated.

      • Alastair Leith

        Possibly mobile recharging hubs that move in their direction like the HSR train exchange vehicle concept. Would be a massive ship moving parallel to the coast going up and down and refueling, possibly be exchanging blocks of batteries.

    • Alastair Leith

      It’s a crap load of energy though. The container ship equivalent to filling up a car for a 4,000 – 7,000+ km journey. There’s some car ferries in Norway exchanging battery Lith Ion packs when it docks though, small range. I think they’re using water cooling on the battery packs to manage heat (IIRC).

      • Brunel

        How come B787 aircraft had/have lithium ion batteries? How are/were they cooled?

        Weight matters even more in aviation than it does in shipping given that ships are made of steel while aircraft are made of carbon fibre and aluminium.

        Some shipping containers have long been refrigerated and are plugged into the ship in order to keep the ice cream frozen. Those containers could have a battery built-in to keep the food frozen.

        • Alastair Leith

          You don’t have to cool lithium ion batteries but it mean she I feel you don’t then you can’t draw power from them or charge them as rapidly.

          There’s a Chinese electric powered large freight vessel running on the Pearl River with no smoke stack emissions. Not sure of the range. Ironically it is a coal transport ship.

          According to someone at NASA who knows, the energy density required to power commercial flight conventional distances (100 passengers or more) is batteries of >700 Wh/kg. Well outside today’s conventional or experimental lithium ion range, in fact according to my source outside the theoretical limit of lithium ion chemistries even without heat management issues. Other chemistries may come to the rescue.

          A full scale electric propulsion fan has been tested by Boeing, powered by a gas electric turbine housed in the body of a 747 aircraft. They had three conventional jet engines and one electic.

          Siemens did the electrics iirc. Massive wiring conduit! So it’s just getting the battery density happening. The rest is feasible.

  • Alastair Leith

    tonyseba.com

  • Alec Sevins

    Generating electricity with the ugly urban sprawl of wind turbines is not green, and can’t replace fossil fuels. It takes large amounts of carbon to mine materials, manufacture and install wind turbines, including clear-cutting trees and blasting new access roads. The math of “100% renewables” is a farce when you bother to actually study it.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cbe7acafac0ea6bb0e6caa52dfb016253f504b61cd4589743abfc54b0b2afae3.jpg

    Most subsidies should be going to small-footprint rooftop solar PV and serious conservation, which requires personal restraint. That last part is the hard sell with a greedy populace that mostly pretends to care about the environment.