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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Energy independence



There’s a lot of hype about all the non-traditional oil and gas being produced in the United States. People even talk about the US becoming a net energy exporter.

It’s not like there’s been a sudden discovery of all these energy sources. Petroleum engineers have known about them and how to recover them for years. They just haven’t been economically viable until now.

Oil at ~$90/barrel makes them worth going after. The big question is whether or not the economy is viable with $90 oil. There’s some evidence it isn’t.

I’ve some grave and serious doubts about the boom as it has all the hallmarks of being just another bubble getting ready to burst.

Never mind that. Let’s say that it is really a good investment. Assume that the energy yields are significantly larger than the energy invested. Pretend that the recovery processes are not harmful to the environment. While we are in dreamland, let’s say there’s 20 years of energy surplus.

Great. Then what? Eventually, we start to use more oil and gas than we produce. All the heroic effort and investment no longer produce the needed energy. Where is the country then? I’d say we’d be worse off than before.

In the mean time, the rest of the world goes down another path. Efficiencies are increased. Sustainable alternatives are developed. While the US is grubbing in the ground for the last drop of oil, other places will be enjoying clean, low cost energy.

I know this can happen because it did happen. The United States used to lead the world in wind and solar technologies. Then cheap Alaskan oil flooded the market. The US dropped development of alternatives. Other countries did not and are now reaping the benefits.

Germany has produced over half it’s power from renewables. Other countries are catching up. (except for the US) Now the United States imports wind generators and solar electric panels from the rest of the world.

There’s not a whole heck of a lot that I can do to influence national policy. That doesn’t mean individuals have to make the same mistakes their government makes. It wouldn’t hurt to take energy conserving measures in our personal lives. Producing even a little renewable energy at home provides a taste of energy freedom. Your home energy policies are too important to leave in the hands of politicians.

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. Solar panels have never been so inexpensive. It's certainly viable for every home to have at least one good sized panel for emergencies... who knows they might even use the power when there's not an emergency. They might, just might find the fun in producing their own power... it's not rocket science, it's pretty simple stuff...

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  2. It's all politics and lined pockets.

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    Replies
    1. True. Crazy to rely on such a bad process for basic needs.

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  3. Recently upgraded my attic insulation to R-60 (Chicago climate). I figure the ROI is better than any bank CD can offer, and pretty much guaranteed. Not mention, natgas isn't going to stay dirt cheap forever.

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    1. Very wise decision. I suspect you will be proven right about the price of natgas. Your money is better in your attic than in the bank. That insulation will be working for you 24/7.

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  4. In my opinion, solar panel and wind generator manufacturing has been outsourced by high wages demanded by unions and government regulation on the manufacturing industry.

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    1. By high wages do you mean wages that someone can actually live on in America?

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  5. I do some work in coal fired powerplants, all of them plan to switch to Natural gas over the next few years. What do you think that's going do to demand when those big boys start sucking on the gas pipe?

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    1. Prices will be all over the place. Bet they spike pretty high for a while.

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  6. Agreed, and it's just the oil companies reaping more profits while raping the land. Germany going about things a lot smarter than us.

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    1. Thanks Adam. Our politicians are captive to the big oil money.

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  7. What is the best source for solar panels and inverters? Have they come up with solar panels that can be rolled up for ease of moving then unrolled to collect the sun?

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    1. There are plenty of good suppliers. No one best source. This is a good one: http://www.sunelec.com/

      There are roll up panels. Amazon has a good selection.

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  8. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

    You are ahead of the crowd on the using of home made power! Looks like you are smarter than the average bear!

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    1. Thanks Hermit. Have a happy your own self.

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  9. Ah, I smell the aroma of your kitchen way down here...have a great Thanksgiving, my friend.

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    1. Thanks! I'll be cooking for people on Paleo diets, vegetarians and everything in between. Should be fun.

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  10. good to develop your own fuel/energy sources as one never knows what the next day brings


    so enjoy your thanksgiving feast time

    cooking texan turkey yet?

    Wildflower

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  11. Bingo, as a union fulltime firefighter I agree . As a 10 year senior pair of boots on the ground , I make 50 k a year, not that much. Unions brought you the 5 day work week, OT,safer work places, ect.So sick of people bagging on the unions. I tested with 200 applicants for 8 positions in a fire academy, I made it. And it wasnt by luck .During the debates , when romney was pointing out how much money was wasted being put towards solar, all I could think was ,thats a possitive .

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