Savonarola wrote:Darrel wrote:I'm glad you've finally realized that the "source" and "carrier" labels are pointless. The wording of "primary source" I think is better.
No I don't think they are pointless. They just have to be given context. Saying electricity isn't an energy source doesn't make sense in less you are saying it to convey the idea that electricity (like hydrogen) is never going to be on any list of potential energy replacements for our fossil sources (solar is). Unfortunately, the earth doesn't have positive and negative connectors sticking out anywhere! "Primary source" is a good qualifier. Because of the way hydrogen is tied up around us, it can never be a "primary source" of energy for us.I think that analogies are good, and I think that your bank account analogy is workable. The fossil fuel bank account is large but dwindling. The H2 bank account is empty.
But there is a difference: We have no way to deposit into the fossil fuel account because we can't make more. That account will continue to dwindle as long as we draw from it. On the other hand, we are capable of depositing hydrogen into the hydrogen account. What's even better is that the universe gives us a method for making hydrogen: the sunlight that hits the earth is energy that can potentially be made useful. That sunlight is virtually limitless, and so is our store of raw material to make the hydrogen.
Yes. As I posted a couple of weeks ago here:
"Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006."
So I would modify and improve the bank account analogy this way to make use of the extremely important daily sunshine input:
Our benefactor, the sun, has been putting energy in our daily sunshine account for hundreds of millions of years. A small portion of that daily account has been saved and accrued in our special fossil fuel (FF) account. We only discovered this hidden account a couple hundred years ago and have been enjoying ourselves immensely on it's huge reserves. But it's a savings account, fed very slowly and it grows very slowly. The sunshine account, as always, continues receiving substantial daily deposits (but small in relation to the reserves of the special FF account). And the daily account is our living allowance which we experience realtime for a portion of each day but it is in a form that slips through our fingers and is hard to capture and store. Fortunately, the daily account does receive enough energy, that if we can figure out how to capture and store it (and use it wisely), it can serve our needs. For a while it will not serve our wants as easily as the finite FF account has. Not remotely.
I think it's estimated that the world had about 2.5 trillion barrels of crude and we are down to about half of that now.
Some interesting little bits I figured out:
1 kwh = 3,411 btu
1 barrel of crude = 5.8 million btu
Thus a barrel has 1,700 kwh of electricity. About as much electricity as my house uses in two months.
A $400, 100 watt solar panel can produce about .5 kwh per day in Arkansas, year round. In a year that's 622,507 btu (182.5 kwh = $14.92). That panel will have to work for 9.3 years to generate the same amount of energy contained in a single barrel of crude.
The barrel of crude at today's cost: about $125 (one barrel = 1,700 kwh)
That 1,700 kwh of electricity, at 2007 rates, cost $139.
Years to pay off that $400 solar panel at '07 rates, at $14.92 per year = 26.8 years.
If you count debt service on the $400, and you have to, it never pays off. At 4.5% interest, you go in the hole $3.08 per year.