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Response to KamaAina (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 01:24 PM

3. To understand where we are going, you must understand where we came from

 

As I said at the end of my paper, what people did in the pre-oil age can help us to adjust to a post oil age. One of the chief problems will be food production. Can electrical devices be made that are as superior to the horse as the Gasoline or Diesel power tractor is? Today we have huge tractors that can plow or harvest a field without anyone being in the Tractor (Computers run the tractors along pre set guidelines via GPS). The problem with such machines is not the computers, but they are all diesel powered. As oil production decline. what will replace diesels in such applications? The alternatives are NOT as "nice".

Bio-Diesel and Rural farming
Bio-diesel is the front runner, but it depends hauling the crop to a processor to be made into diesel. Recent studies have indicated that this is almost a one gallon of Diesel for one Gallon of Bio-diesel ratio (And the study was being generous, indication that it may even be lower, one gallon of Diesel to produce 1/2 gallon of Bio-diesel). Bio-Diesel main advantage is that it requires no extra power source on the farm. I suspect it will be only a short term solution given the cost to produce bio-diesel in terms of energy, but it is a factor,

Electrical power Tractors
Electrical powered devices are another alternative. The problem with electrical powered devices is the storage of electrical power. A gallon of Gasoline can produce the same amount of power as 100s of batteries. With diesel this ratio is even worse. On a large farm with a large tractor, the weight of the batteries may make the tractor to heavy for many fields. Furthermore the tractor will have to return to be charged several times a day given how little power batteries store compared to oil. Furthermore to get the tractor charged rapidly a high power charger must be present on the farm, thus a retro-fit on most farms of such charges. This is complicated by the fact most Farms are serviced by Rural Co-ops, which by their very nature have limited ability to provide power to farms. This is due to the small demand such farms have today, compared to a suburban neighborhood of the same number of acres, AND that they are miles away from any electrical power source which means you will have major shifts in voltage as farmers hook up and unhook such electrical chargers (Rural electrics are noted for having high number of voltage spikes during the day, given the distance from the power source and the number of farmers on the same power line).

Panto-graphs and tractors
The other way to provide power to Electrical devices, a direct hook up via a panto-graph, is generally not viable for it would be used no more then three to four times a year. On certain farms I see such a system being developed and used but its use on most farms restricted. I do see such panto-graphs being used, as they are used today on AMTRAK trains in the Northeast. I foresee freight trains adopting them first, then such panto-graphs being put on the Interstate so that truckers can use them. These would be highly used given the need to transport goods from place to place, and being electrical NOT dependent on what is the undelying power supply (The power supply may be excess power from Solar Roof Panels discussed below, the problems with getting the power to the interstate is NOT as severe as to farms, for the simple reason the interstate can use the power several times a day, if not an hour, thus justifying the upgrading of the power lines to such overhead wires).

That leaves the horse. Even today, on farms of less then 50 acres, it is more efficient to use a horse then a tractor. Now, most farmers can NOT stay full time farmers as such small farms, but it may be the wave of the future for the alternatives are NOT that much better.

The internet
Now, in other areas of the Economy, we have many viable alternatives to how we did things in the 1920s. For example, it may be more energy efficient to get one's information via the net then via the mail Shipping of books may cost more in terms of energy then providing internet service to everyone, even people in rural America.

Paved roads
One of the aspects of Oil age America has been a massive improvement in the Roads of the US. During the 1921 West Virginia Coal War, reporters wanted to go to the scene of the battle and decided to DRIVE to the location. After a day of going up and down the Mountains of Southern West Virginia they were happy when they came across a Train Station where they could switch to a train, the roads were that bad at that time. Since that time we have seen a MASSIVE expenditure on improving the roads in the US. Today, it is easy to drive the Roads of West Virginia do to this improvement. While this improvement included paving these roads, it also meant straightening them out, eliminated bad intersections, moving them to the edge of towns instead of going through them etc. All of these improvements will survive the transition to a post oil era. We will being using these roads for decades if not centuries from now. This will permit quicker movement of goods, even if the only transport available is a horse drawn wagon (I suspect it will be some sort of electrical powered truck, using overhead wires on major highways and batteries for short trips off such highways).

Roof Solar Panels

Solar panels are dropping in price, I suspect that sooner or later all new homes will be required to have them installed AND anyone who gets a new roof on an old home will have to get them installed at the same time. Such panels will provide power to the house and any excess power would go into the grid. Along with Wind and Hydro power, almost all renewable. If combines with Hydro and wind a good base for electrical power. When the wind in not blowing and the Sun is not out, Hydro can provide the power needed. When the wind is blowing or the sun is out, Hydro can be kept in reserve (and any excess wind or solar electrical power used to pump water uphill to be used as hydro power when needed, a more efficient electrical storage system them batteries).

Now, I do NOT think this combination will provide enough electrical power to fully charge an electric car in a day, but can do so if the car is NOT used every day and thus only need charged after it has been used AND that can be once a week or even less. The more efficient use would be to encourage people to bike to the local electrical streetcar or bus stop and use the bicycle or electrical streetcar or bus to go to and from work. Small electric bicycles, which require a much smaller battery then a car, can provide such transportation for people who live to far from a electrical streetcar or bus.

Side note: The above is based on an Automobile that can do what modern Automobiles can do, if you downgrade performance (i.e. Max speed at 25 mph not 105 mph as is the case of the Prius), the automobile can go further then the today's hybrids can go on electrical power alone. Electrical bicycle can go further then electrical cars, for Electrical bicycles tend to be restricted to under 25 mph today (Aided by the fact such electrical bicycles can be pushed and peddled unlike electrical automobiles, this if offset, but only to a degree, by the fact that automobiles have bodies designed to minimize the effect of wind). Lower performance, lower energy costs.

I point the above out in my conclusion on my paper, the post oil age will be different then the pre-oil age, but in some aspects the same. Technology will be different in 2100 then it was in 1900, and will be using more power (and more efficiently) in 2100 then we were using in 1900, but some of the problems that were common in 1900 will be problems in 2100. Furthermore the solutions of the pre-oil age may be more efficient then any other solution. On the other hand new technology may make what we did in 1900 look stupid when it comes to energy. Only time will tell (for example I may be wrong as to Rural America but somehow I doubt it, the horse can be a very efficient method of farming if you accept the limitation of the horse). The alternatives to oil are NOT as "nice" from an energy point of view and that will be the biggest problem of the 21st century.

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happyslug Dec 2011 OP
KamaAina Dec 2011 #1
LineLineReply To understand where we are going, you must understand where we came from
happyslug Dec 2011 #3
phantom power Dec 2011 #2
Kennah Dec 2011 #4
NYC_SKP Dec 2011 #5
happyslug Dec 2011 #6
NYC_SKP Dec 2011 #7
happyslug Jan 2012 #12
Saving Hawaii Jan 2012 #15
JDPriestly Jan 2012 #8
wtmusic Jan 2012 #9
happyslug Jan 2012 #10
wtmusic Jan 2012 #11
happyslug Jan 2012 #13
wtmusic Jan 2012 #14
happyslug Jan 2012 #16
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