Energy Density is Key (Richard Fulmer gets back to the basics)

By Richard W. Fulmer -- October 16, 2012 7 Comments

“While incremental improvements can be expected with biomass, wind and solar, what is needed for them to become viable is an order of magnitude increase in productivity…. As significant future energy sources these technologies are dead ends, which is why the government, and not the private sector, is funding them.”

When it comes to power, density is the key. Energy density. The reason that solar power, wind power, and ethanol are so expensive is that they are derived from very diffuse energy sources. It takes a lot of energy collectors such as solar cells, wind turbines, or corn stalks covering many square miles of land to produce the same amount of power that traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants can on just a few acres.

Each of these alternative energy sources is based on mature technology.

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Energy Density: Robert Bryce's Powerful Energy Message

By MR Administrator -- January 14, 2011 6 Comments

Editor note: Del Torkelson of The American Oil & Gas Reporter covered Robert Bryce’s address talk to the Permian Basin Petroleum Association at its annual meeting in Midland last October. Torkelson’s  summary is reprinted with permission.]

“One of the reasons I wrote Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (Public Affairs: 2010) is that our discussions are fundamentally wrong-headed,” author and journalist Robert Bryce told the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

“Politicians generally do not understand the issues of energy and power, and in particular, the issues of scale.”

Bryce expounded on a number of key themes, including density, the distinction between energy and power, and the future of natural gas and nuclear generation. He also pointed to signals that suggested ordinary citizens were losing patience with green energy sources.

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Energy Density is Key

By Richard W. Fulmer -- April 3, 2010 22 Comments

When it comes to power, density is the key. Energy density. The reason that solar power, wind power, and ethanol are so expensive is that they are derived from very diffuse energy sources. It takes a lot of energy collectors such as solar cells, wind turbines, or corn stalks covering many square miles of land to produce the same amount of power that traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants can on just a few acres.

Each of these alternative energy sources is based on mature technology. Agriculture and fermentation have their roots in prehistory, windmills date back at least to 65 B.C., the photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839. Yet nowhere in the world are these technologies serving as primary energy sources without significant government subsidies. While incremental improvements can be expected, what is needed for them to become viable is an order of magnitude increase in productivity.

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Energy Strategy: Begin with Density

By Jerry Graf -- August 21, 2013 6 Comments

“In this century the bulk of humanity will live in large densely populated cities. If the citizens of of these cities are to attain a high quality of life they will require large centralised energy generation. This is not a matter of ideological preference, but of engineering reality.”

– Robert Wilson, The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters, Energy Collective, August 8, 2013.

“There is no doubt that we in the United States need to alter our energy strategy. The question is how we will change it. A rational energy strategy must be determined by scientific evaluation of fact and logical analysis of performance and economics–not by emotion, political considerations, and ‘feel good’ methodologies.”

– Jerry Graf (below)

Other than the damage to the economy from the waste itself, the real problem with mandating and subsidizing non-viable energy technology projects is that this distracts us and diverts resources from other efforts to improve our energy production strategy.

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Energy & Environmental Newsletter: February 3, 2020

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Energy & Environmental Newsletter: January 20, 2020

By -- January 20, 2020 2 Comments Continue Reading

Paris Climate Accord Withdrawal Underway (Trump, Dense Energy Winning)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 12, 2019 5 Comments Continue Reading

“Energy and Society” Course (Part III: Electricity from Hydro, Nuclear, Renewables, Biomass)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 2, 2019 No Comments Continue Reading

FDR’s New Deal with Energy: Part III (oil retailing)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 10, 2019 2 Comments Continue Reading

“The Economic Fall and Political Rise of Renewable Energy”

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 15, 2018 2 Comments Continue Reading