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We will NOT find an alternative to energy dense, easily transportable conventional oil in time to sustain indefinate economic growth.

All alternative energies have one or more disadvantages that do not let them compete with cheap conventional oil.

Given our industrial civilization depends on massive amounts of cheap energy, the reliance on conventional oil is enormous.

The only quick solution I see is a drastic downscaling of economic activity.

Topics: energy

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    Feb 21 2013: To Mike Colera,

    I agree wholeheartedly Mike. Have you checked out the DESERTEC proposals?

    Sure, over here we are making a mint from coal, and we have plenty of uranium. But I'd only support nuclear if the technology Bill Gates is talking about is feasible - any waste that requires "baby sitting" for 300.000 years is absolutely stupid, and it is NOT "clean energy"! (Bill's talk here .... http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html )

    But my country could also make a mint from solar. We have the next best resources after the Sahara and could actually export power to Indonesia and Southeast Asia, like DESERTEC are looking to do from North Africa to Europe.

    Your transmission problems are nowhere near as big as ours. We have most of the nation on a grid, including undersea to Tasmania and our nation is only sightly smaller than your 48 states, with less than 7.2% of your population to fund it!

    Over the last 4 years, they upgraded the grid to cover the peaks (summer afternoons) and that doubled the cost of electricity. That of course dropped usage and now that overhead is not needed, but we are still paying for it!

    Now, that peak was caused by people switching on the air con when they got home.... so that means if they had implemented a solar panel program to offset air con (e.g. got a 3kW air con, gotta have 3kW of panels), they would have killed the peak at the source. (Apparently they did something like this in Canada.) Oh, but our stupid Governments CUT the solar panels program!! Transmission here is run by Govt - private is just not feasible with the low population density so they cut their noses off to spite their faces.

    So now we pay through the nose for headroom in the transmission system that is never used!

    Did you check out my post above regarding having to cover the "value add" portion of the input side of the energy economics? If we don't start serious work to address these problems NOW, they'll sit on the back burner, and that will cost us BIG long term!
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      Feb 21 2013: Sorry Mark, for some reason, I thought you were from Great Briton. Your geographical situation is like ours, except we got a greater bunch of fruits and nuts. I have also heard that you are blessed or cursed with abundant natural gas. The Danes have developed a fuel cell like a small refrigerator that has 12 KW output.
      They have shown that transmission of natural gas (a pipeline) is cheaper then electrical transmission with no energy loss in the process, so electrical power is made right at the residence or business (bigger cells).
      So, like Canada, the wealth of your nation will be in raw materials as opposed to great industrial centers
      Canadians have looked to very specialized manufacturing which seems to be highly profitable. Today, our northern neighbor is sitting pretty with out all the turmoil. I'd move there except for all that snow.
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        Feb 22 2013: You thought I was a Pom? Them's fightin' words, partner! ;) (G'day to any Poms reading this :P )

        Mike, the BlueGen methane fuel cell was developed in Melbourne a few years back, but at around $30k it hasn't caught on here, (you could go off-grid with PV for half that here) so now it's manufactured in Germany, under the Australian license.

        Thing is, I hate it when I see our stuff going overseas like that. We should make it here and export. Unfortunately, a lot of Australian business is way too short sighted. If you can dig it up and sell it for a quick buck, go for it, anything else.... "looks too hard, mate."

        When China stops buying our dirt and rocks, that short-sightedness will turn around and bight us where the sun don't shine!.

        Over-dependence on commodities is just too many eggs in one basket, for mine! An older bloke I knew used to say, "If they want our iron ore, then they can buy it...... after we've turned into a refrigerator, washing machine, or a car, or a......"

        Even a manager of a US chemical manufacturer (can't remember who), who is an Australian and was "back home" recently, addressed this exact issue. He said that his company was keen to invest here in manufacturing. Better a US company than nothing, but I really wish that we could change the local mentality.

        I like the German "Mittelstand" concept, local entrepreneurial ownership integrated into local communities, which is said to have attributed to Germany's recent resilience. Check this our... http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2012/s3430858.htm

        That somewhat "old model", has a lot going for it. It may not create the same economical highs, but it can minimize the lows, and the contagion of more global models, whilst maintaining stronger communities. If industry is locally owned, it will more likely be sustained if profitable. I've seen externally owned operations close and wreck communities, even though they were still profitable, because there was something more profitable elsewhere
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          Feb 22 2013: Too soon old, to late smart.
          Mittlestand in my poor German for middle place referring to people. But the secret is the German attitude for hard work and frugality. A Scot friend of mine told me that the Germans taught the Scots how to squeeze a schilling into extra pence... what ever that means.

          The Germans are a hardworking and frugal society unlike many other many other modern nations including mine, where too many of the citizens find that it is easier to elect a strong central government that will provide all the basic necessities.

          One story:
          A local TV station interviewed people lining up at a local food bank to receive free food.
          These recipients were people who were on public welfare programs. What I saw. People loading bags of free food into late model cars...better then mine, I enviously thought.
          One lady being interviewed was well dressed, holding a high quality cell phone, telling the interviewer how her children would have nothing to eat if she didn't have the food bank.
          Is it just me?
          No frugality, no hard work, just open hands with no sense of personal responsibility.
          My fellow country men have even elected a federal governments that fosters this behavior.
          Maybe my lack of concern with "global consequences" is my sense that maybe we deserve it.

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