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Global Energy Prices, and why oil will force us into space.

Posted by: James Summers - Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:38 pm
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Global Energy Prices, and why oil will force us into space. 
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Post Global Energy Prices, and why oil will force us into space.   Posted on: Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:38 pm
You are sitting in your living room in your house.

A helicopter flies over your house and because you won a prize, dumps a bag of $100 notes/bills on your house.

You get to keep the money so how do you go about getting the most money in the shortest time?

The answer is that you pick up the dollar bills closest to you on the ground, then you work your way up into the stuff in the bushes, and finally you get a ladder and start getting the bills that are on the roof, and in the trees.

This is how we are getting at oil deposits. We are extracting the first easiest to get deposits, and are working our way towards the ones that are harder to find and extract. Simple economic forces here.


Now:

Imagine that you are a person trapped on a deserted island. You need 2000 calories to live and the only food on the island is in the form of some fruit trees in the middle of the island that drop fruit regularly on the ground. You can walk over, pick up and eat a fruit at a cost of say, 10 calories, and get 500 calories from each fruit.

You will need 4 fruits (plus a very small fraction) to survive per day.

Now imagine that the easy fruit on the ground is gone, and you have to climb up the tree, go out onto a branch and laboriously saw the fruit off the tree. This takes 200 calories for EACH fruit.

You will now need 6.67 fruits per day to survive and your total caloric intake has gone from 2040 calories to over 3300. Your body still only needs 2000 calories, but you had to spend 1300 calories to get that.

The same is true for oil energy. The "return" on each new barrel of oil gets slimmer, so even if the world's economy/energy needs weren't growing our energy consumption would.

BUT

The world economy IS growing. For each 1 percent of GDP growth, we need 1 percent PLUS X percent with the X percent being determined by the efficiency of our energy sources.

SOOOO....

If supply is constant or shrinking, and overall demand is going up, where does the "price point" go?

You guessed it, UP.

High enough that competing energy sources will eventually become more cost-efficient. I think faster than the oil companies expect.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:48 am
I hop that that point is closer in time then the point-of-no-return for the damage we have allready done to this ecosystem.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:11 pm
I think if it really came to it, higher energy costs would make things like solar satellites very cost competitive with ground based renewable energy platforms.

The main thing I see us getting from space are lots of usuable rare metals from asteroids, and enegy from the sun.

That alone would make living in space profitable.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:51 pm
I think we'll use clean nuclear power and hydrogen. I imagine beaming down concentrated solar energy from space would be much more dangerous than having many more nuclear reactors. Think Ion Cannon.

In the short term, of course. Since even nuclear (including fusion) power is exhaustible. But then, so is our sun..


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:31 pm
Minthos wrote:
I think we'll use clean nuclear power and hydrogen. I imagine beaming down concentrated solar energy from space would be much more dangerous than having many more nuclear reactors. Think Ion Cannon.

In the short term, of course. Since even nuclear (including fusion) power is exhaustible. But then, so is our sun..


I've read a while ago that if we would suddenly switch from oil supply to energy supply by nuclear energy, we would have 50 years of uranium left to make that happen. That's not much, so it will only be a very short-period solution.

Plus, which why this will never happen unfortunately, thanks to folks like greenpeace who have showed apperently zero knowledge about nuclear power, keep lobbying to prevent this.

To get back to the original idea of the topic, we can switch it also around. If we don't get into space before the end of the age of oil, we won't get there until we have a substitute for oil. I'm afaid.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:18 am
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
I've read a while ago that if we would suddenly switch from oil supply to energy supply by nuclear energy, we would have 50 years of uranium left to make that happen. That's not much, so it will only be a very short-period solution.

I said clean. Current uranium technology is not clean. However, 50 years should be plenty of time to develop clean reactor technology.

A clean reactor is not only environmentally friendly, it also consumes its fuel at a dramatically reduced pace, since it uses what would otherwise be radioactive waste as fuel. It would also be able to use thorium as fuel.

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Plus, which why this will never happen unfortunately, thanks to folks like greenpeace who have showed apperently zero knowledge about nuclear power, keep lobbying to prevent this.
This may be true for The Netherlands today, but in other countries, nuclear power is gaining popularity. I for one believe it's the first realistic alternative to oil and coal we'll be able to use.

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To get back to the original idea of the topic, we can switch it also around. If we don't get into space before the end of the age of oil, we won't get there until we have a substitute for oil. I'm afaid.
If nothing else, we can use hydrogen as rocket fuel. In fact, we're already doing that.


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