Polywell and Peak Oil

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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cgray45
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Postby cgray45 » Tue May 11, 2010 3:39 am

Add Venezuela to that list of nations not ding the best job with their oil.

Fundametnally, the reason we need fusion or something like it is two fold.

1. Sooner or later oil will either run out, or demand will exceed what we can pump out of the ground-- esepcially when we consider that most nations aren't willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods, quite rightly in fact.

2. As long as we do, even if we can get enough oil, much of the world commerce will be controlled by nations who have access to it, or by sitautions that might reduce its availability.

I doubt fusion powered cracking stations would ever reach the lowest price oil *has* been, but they'll be less than the most expensive, and more importantly, they'll be completely controllable-- you don't have to worry about what is happening across teh world, since you're making your oil.

In terms of energy, it'll represent the move from a "hunter gatherer" system of getting resources to a farming system.

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Postby MSimon » Tue May 11, 2010 6:11 am

most nations aren't willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods, quite rightly in fact.


In fact it is just the opposite. Most nations run by corruptocrats are willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods.

And yes - getting off oil is a good thing. It will take about half a century to a century.

In the mean time the US is shooting itself in the foot. We have oil. We watch the environment. We have put vast swaths of oil politically out of reach.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

cgray45
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Postby cgray45 » Tue May 11, 2010 10:00 pm

MSimon wrote:
most nations aren't willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods, quite rightly in fact.


In fact it is just the opposite. Most nations run by corruptocrats are willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods.

And yes - getting off oil is a good thing. It will take about half a century to a century.

In the mean time the US is shooting itself in the foot. We have oil. We watch the environment. We have put vast swaths of oil politically out of reach.


Devils advocate mode: But by doing that, the US has artificially increased the cost of oil to where alternatives are now financially viable. That may give us a leg up in development.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Tue May 11, 2010 10:14 pm

MSimon wrote:
most nations aren't willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods, quite rightly in fact.


In fact it is just the opposite. Most nations run by corruptocrats are willing to use the most environmentally destructive methods.

And yes - getting off oil is a good thing. It will take about half a century to a century.

In the mean time the US is shooting itself in the foot. We have oil. We watch the environment. We have put vast swaths of oil politically out of reach.


What you are really talking about is subsidizing the oil industry.

There is a true cost to oil / coal. It has to include not just the cost to pull the stuff from the ground but also the lost economic potential of the damaged land and the extra healthcare costs of the pollution.

Some countries directly subsidize oil companies. Other subsidize them indirectly by taking care of the damage and pollution through taxation.

I don't know what the most cost effective method of producing oil / coal is but it strikes me that the US method that does provide some subsidies, does provide some legal protection (therefore the tax payer cover the expense) and also requires higher prices probably is the most cost effective method.


Just because a cost doesn't show up on a companies balance sheet doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that the rest of society pays it for the company.

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Postby KitemanSA » Tue May 11, 2010 10:20 pm

The major oil companies are subsidized in so many ways it is difficult to ferret them all out. Drilling write-offs, depreciation allowances.... the list goes long and deep into the tax code as well as many other codes.
Last edited by KitemanSA on Wed May 12, 2010 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby MSimon » Wed May 12, 2010 6:27 am

Devils advocate mode: But by doing that, the US has artificially increased the cost of oil to where alternatives are now financially viable. That may give us a leg up in development.


Yes. And raising the costs of energy hurts the people at the margins. Of course if you are a liberal and really care about people hurting those at the margins is a very good idea. It gives a further rationalization to increase the power of our betters.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby MSimon » Wed May 12, 2010 6:28 am

KitemanSA wrote:The major oil companies are subsidized in so many ways it is difficult to ferret them all out. Drilling right-offs, depreciation allowances.... the list goes long and deep into the tax code as well as many other codes.


AE subsidies run about 3X to 10X oil subsidies.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby MSimon » Wed May 12, 2010 6:36 am

Just because a cost doesn't show up on a companies balance sheet doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that the rest of society pays it for the company.


And all the ways we profit from oil (increased forests due to mechanized chemical agriculture for one - or the reduction in electrical fires from plastic insulation for another) do not show up on balance sheets either.

Net energy is the lifeblood of civilization. It is amazing the number of people who love civilization and go about attacking our energy supplies with no viable alternative.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

cgray45
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Postby cgray45 » Wed May 12, 2010 8:32 am

MSimon wrote:
Devils advocate mode: But by doing that, the US has artificially increased the cost of oil to where alternatives are now financially viable. That may give us a leg up in development.


Yes. And raising the costs of energy hurts the people at the margins. Of course if you are a liberal and really care about people hurting those at the margins is a very good idea. It gives a further rationalization to increase the power of our betters.


The problem is that the people at the margins are going to hurt-- sooner or later. Maintaining a certain degree of pressure, enough to make it financially viable to go to a board of directors and say: I want to put in X million dollars into R&D for better solar systems/ better Ic engines, etc, etc, will in the long run reduce their costs.

Flip side, raisings costs too far and fast by artificially restricting the delivery of oil would have the opposite effect-- businesess under siege seldom can turn money over to long Term R&D. Equally, their are some who argue that we cannot have drilling where there is *any* risk of damage, which is just foolish-- you'll always have a chance of something going wrong, and to be brutally honest, cheap energy is what allows the 1st world nations to be so comparitively benign to their enviroment. It's the marginal nations that are devastating, mainly because even if they are trying not to be, they just cannot afford the extra expense.

Of coures, Ideally, we'd scrap all the wind farms and throw that money into Polywell, Focus fusion, or one of the other areas-- when you consider how often the feds toss money at some pork (donkey or elephant), it's a bit annoying, because the minute we get something like polywell, the whole game changes beyond recognition .

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Postby MSimon » Wed May 12, 2010 9:00 am

The problem is that the people at the margins are going to hurt-- sooner or later.


As a conservative I'd prefer to put it off until later.

Remember the fable about "teaching a pig to fly (sing)?"

Why punish people now for something that may not happen? - i.e. in 5 or 20 years we may have a solution in hand. Then we will have caused suffering for nothing. I consider causing unnecessary suffering a bad idea.

And wind and solar alone have zero chance of getting us off carbon fuels. ZERO. It has to be combined with low cost storage. But energy generation is sexy. Energy storage is not.

How good does the storage have to be? To start it has to be able to store energy over a period of a day to do anything useful about fossil fuel consumption. Ultimately over a season. There is NOTHING like that even on the horizon.

The support for government mandated higher energy costs falls to near zero when the cost rises above $1,000 a year per family. At $500 a year the support runs in the single digits to low teens. So what is acceptable? I'd have to look it up but it is in the neighborhood of $10 to $100 a year.

i.e. plenty of money for research. Not near enough for roll out of current AE technology.

Corollary: any politician who votes in such a scheme is going to get hammered at the polls. Estimates are that Rs will gain between 50 and 100 seats in the Nov. elections. And we don't even have a carbon tax. Yet.

And should such a tax pass what will be the result? Shipment of jobs to countries without such taxes c.f. China. Also higher food prices (good for the poor who are too fat anyway). In fact higher prices for everything.

Not to mention fraud:

The top cops in Europe say carbon-trading has fallen prey to an organized crime scheme that has robbed the continent of $7.4 billion -- a massive fraud that lawmakers and energy experts say should send a "red flag" to the U.S., where the House approved cap-and-trade legislation over the summer amid stiff opposition.

In a statement released last week, the Europol police agency said Europe's cap-and-trade system has been the victim of organized crime during the past 18 months, resulting in losses of roughly $7.4 billion. The agency, headquartered in the Netherlands, estimated that in some countries up to 90 percent of the entire market volume was caused by fraudulent activities.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12 ... itics-say/
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clonan
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Postby clonan » Wed May 12, 2010 10:40 am

MSimon wrote:
Just because a cost doesn't show up on a companies balance sheet doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that the rest of society pays it for the company.


And all the ways we profit from oil (increased forests due to mechanized chemical agriculture for one - or the reduction in electrical fires from plastic insulation for another) do not show up on balance sheets either.

Net energy is the lifeblood of civilization. It is amazing the number of people who love civilization and go about attacking our energy supplies with no viable alternative.


Don't miss understand, I am not attacking oil. I have worked for power companies. What I am criticizing is the argument that the price to the consumer is the "cost" of something. The true cost is ALWAYS there.

My industry is Pharma. It would be MUCH cheaper to not do clinical testing. That can save billions per product. But those billions would still be paid in higher death and injury rates.

Net power is an absolute necessity. However, the 10 cents / KWH for coal and $2.80 a gallon is only part of the true cost. If you actually look at the true price you really need to just about double the cost. Currently society pays that hidden cost through taxes, clean-up costs and healthcare.

The real advantage of renewable energy is that the $4 / Watt installed reflects nearly all of the true cost of the net power.

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Postby KitemanSA » Wed May 12, 2010 2:20 pm

MSimon wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:The major oil companies are subsidized in so many ways it is difficult to ferret them all out. Drilling write-offs, depreciation allowances.... the list goes long and deep into the tax code as well as many other codes.
AE subsidies run about 3X to 10X oil subsidies.
But given that many of the oil company subsidies are so well hidden, how do you know?

KitemanSA
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Postby KitemanSA » Wed May 12, 2010 2:38 pm

MSimon wrote: And wind and solar alone have zero chance of getting us off carbon fuels. ZERO. It has to be combined with low cost storage. But energy generation is sexy. Energy storage is not.
I agree wrt wind. Not so much wrt solar. There are LARGE segments of the energy demand spectrum that can be well covered by solar power. And it would be so if the power grids in this country weren't subsidized for the users that could best use solar power.

Solar PV is most needed during the times when it is most available; hot summer days. But almost every residence in this country has it's summer daytime energy use subsidized by commercial users. If Time of Use pricing was used across the board, the cost competativeness of solar PV would be much better.

Further, excess PV in the day-time could be easily used in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) s which provide effectively "free" storage. PHEVs need to down-load a certain amount of energy per day, it is only a question of when. PHEVs could go a long way to reducing the need for IMPORTED hydro-carbon fuels.

So, while your statement is true in a sense, those AEs have zero chance of replacing ALL petroleum needs, at least solar can and should almost eliminate the need for imported petroleum.

D Tibbets
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Postby D Tibbets » Wed May 12, 2010 9:11 pm

KitemanSA wrote:
MSimon wrote: And wind and solar alone have zero chance of getting us off carbon fuels. ZERO. It has to be combined with low cost storage. But energy generation is sexy. Energy storage is not.
I agree wrt wind. Not so much wrt solar. There are LARGE segments of the energy demand spectrum that can be well covered by solar power. And it would be so if the power grids in this country weren't subsidized for the users that could best use solar power.

Solar PV is most needed during the times when it is most available; hot summer days. But almost every residence in this country has it's summer daytime energy use subsidized by commercial users. If Time of Use pricing was used across the board, the cost competativeness of solar PV would be much better.

Further, excess PV in the day-time could be easily used in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) s which provide effectively "free" storage. PHEVs need to down-load a certain amount of energy per day, it is only a question of when. PHEVs could go a long way to reducing the need for IMPORTED hydro-carbon fuels.

So, while your statement is true in a sense, those AEs have zero chance of replacing ALL petroleum needs, at least solar can and should almost eliminate the need for imported petroleum.


Keep an open mind. See the novel battery tech. thread. They claim a sodium Sulfide battery that stores electricity very cheaply. Certainly sodium and sulfur are cheap and practically inexhaustible commodities if the batteries can be developed and there is not some hidden component that limits scaling.

As far as lead acid or lithium batteries in electric cars being a free storage method- I don't think so. Having such a multipurpose battery application has it's advantages, but to be honest, you need to consider the average car battery storage capacity that is utilized for grid use and factor that cost compared to the total cost of the car and it's batteries. After all, a battery is a battery and costs so much irregardless of it's application. In effect, you are adding cost to the car and it's fuel efficiency (excess battery capacity and associated weight) to decrease the cost of grid power storage. This is mitigated somewhat by the car driver's desire to have excess capacity for those infrequent long drives, but this is an artificial (and inefficient) trade off. Having a supplemental battery pack that you disconnected from the grid and plugged into your car when you knew you were taking a long trip would be more efficient, but it would still not be free, just a shifting of cost.
There would be some potential advantage in the total number of batteries needed and the time distribution of electrical loads, and this may be significant, but not free.


Dan Tibbets
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Postby KitemanSA » Thu May 13, 2010 11:47 am

D Tibbets wrote: As far as lead acid or lithium batteries in electric cars being a free storage method- I don't think so.
Seems I didn't make myself clear, an all too frequent occurance! :)
I meant that it was "free" in the context that, given the use of PHEVs, the only issue was WHEN they get charged, and that can be chosen for optimum load leveling. Thus, if by some situation, solar power exceeds other day-time uses, the PHEVs could be charged during the day to take the excess supply. And in doing so, supplant some rock-oil use.

No, it will not be a perfect match, but there never is one, is there? If there were, Beacon Power wouldn't be getting into the Frequency Regulation business, i.e., providing instantaneous supply/load to maintain the 60Hz power grid. The FR power costs are quite high and exist becasue there is no perfect match.


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