Showing posts from 2012

How Shale Gas Will Rock the World: A Belated Second Chorus

How Shale Gas Will Rock the World: A Belated Second Chorus “Shale Gas Will Rock the World: Huge discoveries of natural gas promise to shake up the energy markets and geopolitics. And that's just for starters. That was a May 10, 2010, Wall Stree Journal post at by by Amy Myers Jaffe was also talking about about a subject of discussed in earlier posts on this blog—massive increases in natural gas reserves because of new drilling techniques to develop gas from shale. But, being a business newspaper it noted several key additions. Besides repeating much already said in other articles, the Journal author considered “game-changing” implications. First, there is a generally good implication that large amounts of cheap domestic natural gas will bring more affordable prices for users of natural gas. Furthermore, the domestic may slow or reverse the rise of energy imports for some time, possibly decades.

Coal Rising Again in Germany

Coal Rising Again in Germany “Merkel’s Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More Coal.” That was the Blomberg headline at on August 20, 2012. Prime Minister Angela Merkel shied away from nuclear fission after the earthquake-driven fission-reactor disaster in Japan. However, Germany needed power from somewhere, so coal it is. Part of the rush to coal apparently came from the collapse of the carbon trading market for various reasons. However, another issue was that coal power plants have become more efficient. The article keyed on 2,200-megawatt station near Cologne that is 43% efficient. Also, it can vary its electricity out put by 500 megawatts within a quarter hour.   That is important because the coal plant is backing up notoriously undependable wind generation facilities. Bottom line: coal burned “last year” (presumably that means 2011) rose 5.4 percent. Coralloary: If

The Physical and Economic Reasons for Noticeable Warming of Planet Earth

The Physical and Economic Reasons for Noticeable Warming There a number of reasons to expect at least moderate warming in the 21st and 22nd Centuries. First, as the warmers will tell us (whether we are listening or not) there are increased levels of CO2, methane, and other of global warming agents. More importantly, we are in only the second century of upswing from the end of the Little Ice Age in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The roughly fifteen hundred year cycle moves up on average gradually for six or seven centuries before the shuddering drop, like a roller coaster, into cold weather; therefore, continuation of the natural cycle would be a gradual warming. Possibly most important, there are ongoing industrial revolutions in what were called the Second World and the Third World in the Twentieth Century. The cliché is BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), but many counties are in a rapidly industrializing phase with economic growth rates of averaging 5% or more each year.

Nuclear Fission, Take 2: The Thorium–Hydrocarbon Economy (Part 1 of several)

Nuclear Fission, Take 2: The Thorium–Hydrocarbon Economy  (Part 1 of several) Enrico Fermi was one of the key scientists in the Manhattan Project, the American project that developed the nuclear fission bombs used to end World War II. He led the team that built the pile and operated the first manmade self-sustaining fission reactor. Fermi famously opined that there should only be nuclear fission power reactors if the technology were forgiving enough that workers would have time to discuss any breakdowns over a cup of coffee before taking action. Thorium fission reactors (at least a few proposed designs) could be that more forgiving technology. They also have advantages in lower ore requirements, less processing required, hotter operation (hence potentially greater operating efficiency), less energetic neutrons, greater safety, considerably less waste storage mass, and considerably less waste storage time. In addition, the high temperatures possible for thorium reactors opens pos

One Big Fracking Debate

One Big Fracking Debate The on-line New Scientist included a January 11, 2012 post of Fracking Risk is Exaggerated,” In brief, a British geologist said that the concerns about toxic leaks and induced earthquakes were overblown. The quoted geologist said that methane deposits are deep underground and the leaks into groundwater would usually be small. Furthermore, there is already natural methane contamination of a number of existing wells. As far as earthquakes, these would be minor shakes comparable to those caused by subterranean coal mining. That led columnist John Ransom to opine, “Scientists Discover Gassy Liberal Pseudo-Science,” at Ransom went on to comment on errors in Al Gore’s, An Inconvenient Truth and in Gasland by Josh Fox. Ransom continues by suggesting that such po

An Elephant in the North Sea

An Elephant in the North Sea Lundin Petroleum put out a press release on November 28, 2011: The Oil Drum picked up the story on December 28, 2011 under the title “A Monster from the Deep”: The story is about the largest oil deposit ever discovered in the North Sea. It is apparently one of those “elephant fields” that need to be discovered to hold off peak oil. Granted, several more would be required to hold it off. Still, it was expected that the North Sea was a declining oil province. If the North Sea can be resuscitated, what’s next … the North Dakota oil cartel?