Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What could I have been proved right *already*? And we haven't even *peaked* yet!!!

So I haven't posted for a while, mainly because I've been quietly living my life and not as doomers would assume busily packing away guns and ammo and MREs and fortifying my basement for the eventual onslaught of oil-apocalypse zombie accountants.

True there's been a *financial-world-induced* recession and low growth continues but far as I know the oil apocalypse famine hasn't begun in earnest yet. I wonder if JD has lost any weight yet in his dieoff diet?

Anyways, today I want to talk about depleted oil fields, solar panels and EROEI. Yes I'll talk about EROEI because even though in a previous post I debunked the use of EROEI in a single direction and as a sole metric to predict the future based on hubbert curves and *sole direction* declining EROEI of the world's energy supplies. The whole dieoff premise is based on the idea that we can only consider oil as a valid energy source, oil's average EROEI is declining and NOTHING else can replace oil. Not solar, not wind, not nuclear. And thus we
are ipso facto doomed and we should hunker down and prepare for the zombie hordes.

Well as it turns out freaking CHEVRON of all companies is now using SOLAR PANELS to get oil out of the ground.

I had thought that once the alleged EROEI of oil gets so low that it "takes a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil" we could no longer get any oil out of the ground?!?

Well, first of all this just goes to show what I've said all along. In spite of the doomers denying economics and blindly ignoring other energy sources as viable, it's MONEY that gets oil out of the ground.

Even if we turn to the bogus EROEI argument (and nobody talks about EROEI in the oil industry - trust me I work in the oil patch) then duh.
Solar panels have a positive EOREI and it could be easily swapped out for Wind turbines or nuclear power or hydro or whatever.

But here's the interesting thing: doomers will *rightly* point out that this means the endgame is near because we're now using renewables to get oil out. But *what* endgame are we really talking about? It's certainly not doom and "the road" scenarios.

I will point out the corrolary that what this really means is that renewables are now cheap enough in both cost and energy invested terms that it's worth it to use electricity to get oil out of the ground because oil is worth more than electricity at the current time. The price gap between even electricity generated by expensive sources and electricity generated by *horrors* "low EROEI oil" makes it worth it to do. Because you will get MONEY back.

This means there is a massive arbitrage opportunity to leverage cheap electricity to get expensive oil to supply the end product: transportation.

There's another word for this: Profit Potential.

And everywhere in capitalist based economies, profit potential lead to new products to capture this profit potential.

We can either continue to dig oil out of the ground using electricity (but we'll ultimately run into the plateau and decline) OR we can start to use the electricity itself directly for transportation.

My guess is we will do both.

Certain market segments of the rich world and the most successful of the developing county economies (read China) will start to buy expensive electrified vehicles (hybrids, plug in hybrids and fully electric) and the rest will buy cheap but more fuel efficient ICE vehicles and both market segments will have their transportation needs met.

It's going to be a very interesting decade.

1 comment:

Whirlwind22 said...

Dont tell this to the Cult of Mike Ruppert, Heinberg, Kunstler and others. They'll just call you a peak denier. All the harp about is EROEI of renewables is nowhere near oil and that once oil peaks the die off (that they look foward to) will begin. They sure did hate on Yergins recent article. Though he certainly knows more about the oil industry then any of those weirdos do.