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Author Topic: Fossil Fuel Subsidies - The Invisible Ones are Worse Than the Obvious Ones!  (Read 3775 times)

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    • Agelbert Truth AND Consequences

Snippet 3:
[What Colin discovered was that the EROI of the Reduced Case and Literature Model were 0.13 and 0.57, respectively. This shows that we have much to learn for the potential of making viable liquid fuels. Additionally, Colin’s calculations for the experimental set-up (and Reduced Case analysis) show that 97% of the energy output resides in the biomass, not the bio-oil. For his idealized Literature Model, 82% of the energy output was in the biomass.

While these results seem discouraging, we do not have much ability to put these results into context of the rate of development of other alternative technologies and biofuels. How long did it take to get photovoltaic panels with EROI > 1 from the first working prototype in a lab? We have somewhat of an idea that it took one or two decades for the Brazilians to get reasonable EROI > 1 from using sugar cane for biomass and biofuel production (Brazilian sugar cane grown and processed in Sao Paulo is estimated near EROI = 8 ).  ]

Snippet 4:
[Let’s hope others join in in trying to assess the EROI of their experimental and anticipated commercial processes for alternative energy technologies.]


Snippet 1:
[Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a tiny aquatic plant can be used to clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and potentially be part of the answer for the global energy crisis. Their research shows that growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researcher Dr. Jay Cheng. This means that ethanol production using duckweed could be "faster and cheaper than from corn," [/i]says fellow researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp.
"We can kill two birds – biofuel production and wastewater treatment – with one stone – duckweed," Cheng says. Starch from duckweed can be readily converted into ethanol using the same facilities currently used for corn, Cheng adds.]

Snippet 2:
[The duckweed system consists of shallow ponds that can be built on land unsuitable for conventional crops, and is so efficient it generates water clean enough for re-use. The technology can utilize any nutrient-rich wastewater, from livestock production to municipal wastewater.]

Snippet 3:
[Cheng says, "Duckweed could be an environmentally friendly, economically viable feedstock for ethanol."
"There's a bias in agriculture that all the crops that could be discovered have been discovered," Stomp says, "but duckweed could be the first of the new, 21st century crops. In the spirit of George Washington Carver, who turned peanuts into a major crop, Jay and I are on a mission to turn duckweed into a new industrial crop, providing an innovative approach to alternative fuel production."]

Duckweed for electricity at 3 CENTS per kwh:

Snippet 1:
[It's a little, water-born plant that doubles in mass every 24 hours. The ducks really like it," Behrens said. Two pounds of duckweed seed in a 32-foot tank in Philadelphia grew to a depth of 2 inches in 10 days, he said.

"It's very easy to harvest," Behrens said. "That was the undoing of a lot of algae concepts. You can't spend too much energy removing fuel from water, otherwise on your balance sheet you haven't made any energy."

Duckweed is smaller than a grain of rice, but a million times bigger than an algae cell, he said. The duckweed is harvested with a nylon mesh, similar to screen doors, then dried.
In many ways, it's similar to wood-products waste, another type of biomass, which is used to generate electricity in White City and other places around the country.

"Trees don't grow fast enough, so we found something that grows faster," Behrens said. "The key is growing fuel on site, because shipping it in is too costly. We just had to find a fast-growing plant -- and there are plenty of those -- and then create an artificial environment that optimizes plant growth."

The artificial environment -- BioEnergy Domes -- is where Pacific Domes comes in. There are four sizes of BioEnergy Domes, ranging from a backyard-sized, 5,000-kilowatt version that can supply energy for one home to a commercial-size, 60-foot-diameter unit, such as the initial unit in a Philadelphia industrial park. The generating unit sits outside the dome and runs silently.

Behrens said it costs about $750,000 to $800,000 to install the largest BioEnergy Domes, and the payback time is only two years.

"You are able to generate electricity at the cost of 3 cents per kilowatt hour, the same as coal or nuclear plants," Behrens said. "It's completely controllable, unlike wind or solar power, and generates on demand like a fossil-fuel plant."]
While I laugh at the idea that the actual cost of coal or nuclear power is just 3 cents per kwh because the EROI numbers on those two poisonous energy products exclude massive subsidies and environmental costs, I see no reason to doubt that the 3 cents per kwh is bona fide with duckweed. Since nuclear has an official EROI of 10.0 and coal has an official EROI of 80.0 then duckweed is somewhere in between. Even if it is only in the wind EROI range of 18 it is still a far better alternative than, for example, natural gas as of 2005 which was 10.0 because there are zero pollution costs associated with it and less transportation costs as well because duckweed infrastructure would be decentralized and local.
EROI figures for nuclear, coal, and natural gas 2005 and wind source:


Now I bring this low corn ethanol EROI to your attention. I am certain the EROI would be much higher for ethanol if duckweed was the biomass source rather than corn. Of course that would cut chemical fertilizer and pesticide corporations out of the loop. It would also reduce fossil fuel costs in harvesting because duckweed is not a crop requiring tilling and grows several times faster than corn simply with animal feces in stagnant water. A mechanized netting operation for monthly harvests (shorter intervals are possible depending on climate) would vastly exceed corn biomass in addition to ultimately cutting out fossil fuels from the farm machinery because they would run on ethanol.


[They found that the EROI range for corn ethanol remained low, from 1.29–1.70 ]


Furthermore duckweed can be pelletized and used as food for tilapia fish farming or fuel in furnaces.

What about those that claim that renewables like duckweed, wind, photovoltaic, etc. are just niche energy markets and will never actually replace fossil fuels as number one?

Snippet 1:
[4. Clean energy investment has surpassed investments in fossil fuels
2011 was the first time global investments in renewable energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels.
The global market for clean energy was worth a whopping $250 billion.
The United States (as of 2012 before China passed us) is currently leading in corporate R&D and venture capital investments in clean energy globally, and last year retook the top spot in overall investment with a 33 percent increase to $55.9 billion.]

As to the current EROI figures on fossil fuels, please consider that YOU paid for a lot of the R&D for them as well as current and past subsidies BEFORE the EROI figures are calculated.

Snippet 2:
[6. Fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy
To date, the oil-and-gas industry received $446.96 billion (adjusted for inflation) in cumulative energy subsidies from 1994 to 2009, whereas renewable energy sources received just $5.93 billion (adjusted for inflation).

Renewable energy investments should be put in proper historical perspective. According to the Energy Information Agency, “focusing on a single year’s data does not capture the imbedded effects of subsidies that may have occurred over many years across all energy fuels and technologies.”

The U.S. government is showing a smaller commitment to renewables than it showed in the early years of the oil-and-gas industries. A study showed that “during the early years of what would become the U.S. oil and gas industries, federal subsidies for producers averaged half a percent of the federal budget. By contrast, the current support for renewables is barely a fifth that size, just one-tenth of 1 percent of federal spending.”]

Snippet 3:
[Here are the top six things you really need to know:

Clean energy is competitive with other types of energy
Clean energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels
Clean energy improves grid reliability
Clean energy investment has surpassed investments in fossil fuels
Investments in clean energy are cost effective
Fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy]


Given all these real world facts about the main energy investment trends and the promise of EROI increases from renewables such as wind, photovoltaic and duckweed free of the environmental hazards of fossil and nuclear fuels and the prospect of much reduced government energy subsidies that we-the-people will benefit from,  isn't it folly to cling to the concept that centralized power systems will remain dominant in the energy markets?

" One can judge from experiment or one can blindly accept authority.

To the scientific mind experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description to be junked when it no longer fits.

To the academic mind authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority."  Robert Heinlein

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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