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kuhla

Then the oil ran out.

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This is probably the only conspiracy type theory I think I subscribe to but I cannot imagine how the world would not plunge into chaos and anarchy when oil starts to run low and starts costing more than the vast majority of people can afford.

 

Then everyone starts over?.... middle ages again?

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I do not believe that even if oil runs out to the point where its not economically feasible to extract it anymore (there will always be plenty of usable oil in one form or another as long as the sun shines and we're living), we will ever revert to the middle ages.

 

It would not be a sudden drop, but rather a slow process over decades, where we will have to reduce consumption probably through government mandated restrictions. Standard of living will overall drop but still quite usable.

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Old reply, I know but I just haven't gotten around to replying until now...

 

It would not be a sudden drop, but rather a slow process over decades, where we will have to reduce consumption probably through government mandated restrictions. Standard of living will overall drop but still quite usable.

I do realize that the oil is not going to suddenly run out and that it is more of a gradual decline from the peak, which some (just google it for plenty of source) say we are on top of right now. My perspective was more that given a slow decline or even plateau of current oil available + extraction rate vs increasing global demand would cause a faster than linear increase in price. I don't want to use the word exponential because that might be too extreme. I imagine it could put oil outside economic feasability for most people within our lifetimes if graphs like the one at the link below are to be believed...

 

link pic - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PU200611_Fig1.png

 

(there will always be plenty of usable oil in one form or another as long as the sun shines and we're living), we will ever revert to the middle ages.

I know your are a lot more knowledgeable on energy sources than I am (especially alternative energy) but I don't know where you are coming from with that. I'm not going to lie, part of what brought this subject up in my mind were two science fiction novels I read that talk about the issue. They are...

 

ILL Wind by Kevin J. Anderson (read a long time ago): The premise is during a major oil spill, genetically engineered oil-eating microbes are released but the lead scientist modified them at the last moment to consume not just a specific type of oil but all "long-chain polycarbons" (not a chemistry major) leading to the destruction of most plastics, etc. around the world. Pretty much downfall of modern society.

 

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (currently reading, not too far in): This is at least a bit more believable, and closer to the premise of this thread, oil is far beyond the ability of most people to afford so people have turned to bio-engineered solutions for just about everything. Engineered animals for labor and sometimes power, engineered plants for bioplastics, etc.

 

....so I completely understand if you can't take me seriously after that but maybe you know more where I'm coming from.

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I'm under the pretense and hope that nations and their population are finally starting to do something about our oil addiction and have started to diversify our energy portfolio. Based on that premise I believe we are in the process of curbing that huge demand. Energy conservation has made a huge impact in the per-capita energy usage for Californians. Now don't quote me on this but I think the numbers I've heard was that compared to the past 20 years, the typical US household energy consumption has gone up to around 12,000 KWHr of energy usage per capita while california has stayed constant at around 7000 KWhr/capita (can't remember the source but it was recent, and i'll update this if I find it).

 

There are a number of factors in regards to faster increases in oil price that leads me to believe that the faster increase in price will not happen as quickly as many environmentalists (including myself) are hoping for. For one thing, I have not yet seen peak oil in the many charts (such as the one you are looking at) I've gone through, and the prediction of peak oil has been around since the 70s. Not to mention that there are many new technologies being develop to reduce cost oil extraction from previously ignored sources (shale rock, methane clathrate etc.), and the various bio-fuels. The main factors that can still drastically change it is all the developing world countries in their own demand for energy, and the rate at which they will want it. I believe that prices will still be affordable to America and the 1st world countries (not to say they might not spike to European price levels), but random drives to your local subway will probably not be done by most people.

 

As to what sparked your interest in this topic, shows that they are decent science fiction writers in the sense that their factual enough to make you believe in such an scenario but the fiction comes in when in that they are still implausible when taking enough real world factors into account.

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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (currently reading, not too far in): This is at least a bit more believable, and closer to the premise of this thread, oil is far beyond the ability of most people to afford so people have turned to bio-engineered solutions for just about everything. Engineered animals for labor and sometimes power, engineered plants for bioplastics, etc.

In a somewhat related note, after finishing this book I went looking for some scientific explanations to some of the situations presented in the book and came across this quote from the author:

 

source (interview via comment section) - http://io9.com/5480532/ask-paolo-bacigalup...out-windup-girl

 

Basically, I took all the different alternative energy sources that got in my way, marched them out back, and shot them through the eye with a spring gun (not much gunpowder in TWG, either).

 

I had to do in oil shale, tar sands, hydrogen fuel cells, wave generators, and a bunch others, too. Bloody work, I'll tell you.

 

But I kept coal because it's dirty and stupid and plentiful, and we use a lot of it.

 

At root, there was an aesthetic I was interested in, and I did everything I could to reinforce that. If you look at it through the lens of predictive science fiction, this story will definitely fail for you.

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While this is an article geared towards how high costs oil projects are a waste, I'm reading between the lines when I say its interesting that all these companies are investing as much money as they are in alternative oil project with high market prices required to be successful.

 

 

Pulling numbers out my butt I'm going to bet we're going to see $6/gal oil (inflation adjsuted) by the 2018-2020 time frame. Assuming no major revolutions or big oil finds, these high risks projects are only going to increase.

 

To create shareholder value, oil majors need to reduce exposure to exploration projects requiring the highest oil prices, rather than solely pursue production volume. To help investors, CTI lists the top 20 undeveloped high-cost oil projects, by size. They are primarily a mix of Alberta oil sands and deep water projects in the Atlantic, representing $91 billion of capital (over the period 2014-25), which could be returned to shareholders rather than have oil firms gamble it away.

All the fields require at least $95 a barrel for sanction, and some need prices in excess of $150 per barrel. The global Brent oil benchmark has ranged between $99 bbl and $114 bbl over the past 12 months.

 

In particular, this is a interesting mix of high-risk oil development projects by company:

oilcost02.png

 

http://www.altenergymag.com/emagazine/2014/08/top-20-high-cost-oil-projects-risk-wasting-91-bln-of-investor-cash/2318

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Pulling numbers out my butt I'm going to bet we're going to see $6/gal oil (inflation adjsuted) by the 2018-2020 time frame. Assuming no major revolutions or big oil finds, these high risks projects are only going to increase.

 

If you asked me to pull numbers out of my butt, I'd probably double that but yeah, I'm just guessing.

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Let me clarify I meant, $6/gallon FY2014 value. So it might go higher depending on US inflation which is a 50% increase over what we have now.

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http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140224.htm

 

Gasoline doesn't seem to be moving higher through inflation. Also California has it's own economic environment for gasoline. We had a few refineries that weren't at full production for a while, I believe all of them are operating now, and the increased supply has been driving down prices. There's also large seasonality in gasoline usage/price.

 

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=EMM_EPM0_PTE_SCA_DPG&f=W

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Back on the topic of alternative energy. Solar is now considered cheaper than traditional fossil fuel sources for electricity production even without government subsidies. More importantly, its carbon negative. One of the big remaining issues is how to increase the penetration levels so it doesn't wreck our current grid configuration (something I'm directly working on).

 

I found this article interesting:

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/12/the-solar-industry-has-paid-off-its-carbon-debts/510308/

 

 

The solar industry probably paid off its long-term energy and climate “debts” in 2011, a study published this week in Nature Communications finds. Since its inception in 1975, the solar-panel industry has almost certainly prevented more greenhouse-gas emissions than it emitted. It has also cumulatively produced more energy than it initially required.

In other words, the solar industry is now likely historically carbon-neutral, if not carbon-negative.

 

One of the interesting aspects to consider:

 

When solar panels are manufactured in China, they require a lot of energy and produce relatively dirty emissions. When they are made in Europe, they need relatively little energy and produce cleaner emissions.

Yet by the same token, a panel installed in China prevents more greenhouse-gas emissions than one installed in Europe.

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I've wondered about the carbon footprint of the production of a solar panel of undetermined size and how long it takes to "pay off", break even on carbon vs fossil energy source. Are there any direct numbers that can be cited? I'm assuming region/sunlight would affect the numbers.

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There are many maps from NREL that describe solar output throughout the world and the math/science fairly well known. The article mentioned in the report also has a number of nice graphs. What data are you exactly looking for though?

 

http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13728

 

Something like this maybe?

 

 

Sun exposure (by region): Southern California

Different region

 

Model ABC produced in EU

Model XYZ produced in NA

Model LMN

Produced in China

 

 

 

Common Size A

X days to carbon neutral

Y days to carbon neutral

Z days to carbon neutral

 

 

 

Common Size B

I days to carbon neutral

etc

Etc

 

 

 

Common Size C

etc

etc

etc

 

 

 

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I'll revisit this when I get a chance, but to answer your question, the information is out there to calculate your desired chart, but there are a lot of numbers to crunch and find.

 

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2006-06-16/energy-payback-roof-mounted-photovoltaic-cells/

  • Table 2 shows energy input (in MJ/m^2) required to create a panel type based on technology in 1999. The energy required here ranges from 333 kWh/m^2 to 1580 kWh/m^2.
  • Mc-Si, sc-Si and thin film modules are assumed to have efficiencies of 13, 14, and 7 percent respectively. (note there are many sub-types of modules for each module class)
  • The systems are assumed to receive an irradiation of 1700 kWh/m2/yr and have a performance ratio of 0.75.

Panel efficiency has also increased to ~19% /17%/14% typical for each of the technologies mentioned

In California, you can expect performance ratio to be closer > 0.95, and almost 2200 kWh/m^2/yr from my personal research. This gives you an idea of the conservative values used in the early estimations.

 

 

This NREL report quotes that same research and mentions 420-600 kWh/m^2 for production.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/24619.pdf

 

Given that range, assuming a poly-crystalline at 600 kWh/m^2 production cost (western), and LA region solar output (2200/365*.0.17) = daily production rate of 1.02 kWh/day. Meaning it would take approximately 588 days to break even in production costs.

 

Didn't find figures in a reasonable time, but China's production is roughly 20-30% more energy intensive (not to mention higher CO2 content per kWh due to coal versus cleaner western sources) so the effective carbon output is twice as much. - http://www.anl.gov/articles/solar-panel-manufacturing-greener-europe-china-study-says

 

Given this known, you would just double the value I calculated above giving you 1176 days or 3.2 years for a Chinese produced panel compared to 588 days or 1.6 years for a western panel. Since the life of a panel is approximately 25 years before it reaches 80% of original power capacity, you'll far exceed the production costs versus energy generated for solar. This is all calculated at the model level of course, rather than the balance of plant costs (installation, framing, inverter, wiring etc.). When you add that all in too, its roughly double the module cost in CO2 which is still only 25% of production output over its life.

 

This is why solar is considered the lowest cost form of energy at the moment.

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Another interesting perspective to consider is solar powered EV versus traditional ICE.

 

Assumptions:

1000 W panel = $830 or $3320 installed1. Would provide 50370 kWh over life of the panel. This equates to 1494 gallons of gas (33.6 kWh/gallon) in pure thermal energy equivalent or $2.22/gallon.

 

If you used that energy to power my Spark EV where I regularly get 5 mi/kWh (its rated 4.4, but I easily get 5 to 6 miles/kwh with my driving habits). This equates to about 168 miles/gallon equivalent or $0.013/mile (2.22/168).

 

A traditional gas spark is 31/40/34 (city/hwy/combined). Using the upper figure and $2.65/gallon, this gives you a $0.066/mile (2.65/40) cost or about 5 times higher.

 

 

1I used $4/watt installed rather than the national $3/watt due to the higher cost of labor in LA. Utility costs is closer to $1.25/watt which makes their costs closer to $0.69/gallon.

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Given that range, assuming a poly-crystalline at 600 kWh/m^2 production cost (western), and LA region solar output (2200/365*.0.17) = daily production rate of 1.02 kWh/day. Meaning it would take approximately 588 days to break even in production costs.

 

Production financial cost or production carbon footprint?

 

1000 W panel = $830 or $3320 installed1. Would provide 50370 kWh over life of the panel. This equates to 1494 gallons of gas (33.6 kWh/gallon) in pure thermal energy equivalent or $2.22/gallon.

....

 

1I used $4/watt installed rather than the national $3/watt due to the higher cost of labor in LA. Utility costs is closer to $1.25/watt which makes their costs closer to $0.69/gallon.

 

Is this the metric usually used for installation? Dollars per watt? I don't actually know that much about installation process.

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Production financial cost or production carbon footprint?

 

Carbon footprint. Financial cost cannot be modeled as a kWh figure. 600 kWh is the energy cost in producing said panel (for a given technology/manufacturer etc.). The amount of CO2 output can then be determined based on the regional generation source.

 

 

Is this the metric usually used for installation? Dollars per watt? I don't actually know that much about installation process.

 

Yes, material cost is typically about $1-2/watt + $3-5/watt for installation for the customer. There can be significant discounts. When I did research back on the topic I used a standard $4/watt for labor (this was mid-2000's labor cost). Nowadays solar installation is a widely understood trade with many competitors allowing market competition for price to drop significantly. I normally utilized WholeSale Solar as a website to find current "market" prices on solar components (Solar's Newegg equivalent).

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