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 Post subject: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 07, 2011 2:25 pm 
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Hi. It has come to my attention that some people like to analyze potential power sources in terms of Net Power, also referred to (unless I'm confused, here) as Energy Return on Investment.

Basically, how much energy has to be input to build mine/extract fuel, transport it, build physical plant (power plants/PV Panels/Wind Turbines), build necessary transmission lines, etc, vs how much energy is output.

I came across a 2003 paper by a guy named "Gene Tyner, Sr", which is the top-ranked result when searching for 'nuclear net power'. This paper indicate's a very low Net Power for nuclear plants. I have a hard time believing that the paper could be reaching the correct conclusion.

Does anyone know of any other, good sources for such an analysis, and any reviews/critique of Mr. Tyner's paper, which could rebut his findings?


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 07, 2011 2:58 pm 
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This is a good source:

http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/Web ... lear_Power

People like Tyner, Storm&Smith etc are anti-nuclear zealots with axes to grind. They make all sort of silly economic assumptions and use pessimistic estimates for nuclear variables, when real measured energy inputs and outputs and real nuclear plant performance are available from numerous sources. When confronted with their flaws, they argue that energy inputs cannot be measured directly. Which, needless to say, is absurd. They're saying all LCAs based on real measured data are wrong. These people would use economic intensity calculations to estimate the mass of the moon if they could get away with it. They're frauds.

People just don't seem to get the implications of highly energy dense fuel. EROEI, economics, footprint all become excellent with high power density fuel. Natural uranium is tens of thousands times more energy dense than coal. Fissile materials is millions of times more energy dense than coal. New enrichment processes use 30x less energy on a LCA basis compared to older diffusion enrichment plants. Obviously MSRs would offer another order of magnitude improvement in lifecycle energy requirements.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 07, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Furthermore, even if we follow the flawed, hideously inferring, economic input-output model, the assumption that energy intensity in the economy is constant is wrong. It improves all the time as we learn how to get more efficient and use more efficient technology.

Image

Tyner assumed 12000 BTU/$GDP. This is already outdated. US is around 8000 BTU/$GDP right now and declining.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 07, 2011 5:32 pm 
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This is energy intensity for whom? The US I presume. If it is for a first world country, then the chart provides little comfort as the only people who seem to specialise in making 'stuff' are the Chinese. The western world seems more than happy to export all energy intensive primary industries like steel and aluminium making and a large portion of the manufacturing as well, so it is little wonder the values are coming down.

If all we make is zeros and ones in a cloud somewhere, then it's not surprising that energy consumption per unit of GDP is coming down. Another interesting angle would be a breakdown of other key resource consumptions, oil, gas, coal, electricity, copper, iron, aluminium. I suspect that we in the west don't make a lot of these primary products/resources, but we probably still consume quite a lot, which could come from anywhere.

What would be interesting would be to see that same chart drawn on a global basis along side energy per capita.

Getting back to EROI, I don't have any figures, but I would imagine that nuclear power should show up pretty well even when mining 200 ppm uranium ores as happens in a number of places. Further more there are a number of extractive (mining) industries that use large amounts of oil to power digging an earthmoving machinery, a mature small scale LFTR/MSR coupled with practical electric drives and ultracapacitor storage could have a dramatic effect on reducing oil consumption for mining activities.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 07, 2011 9:52 pm 
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Here is a great resource concerning EROEI for nuclear and other power systems, including criticism of SLS cherry-picking: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf11.html

BTW, despite the thorough debunking of SLS, and the fact that their work has never been published in any respectable journal, a lot of other (typically but not exclusively anti-nuclear) analyses use them for inputs. It is a good idea to check sources of any EROEI analysis for this plague.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 2:06 am 
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This is the one piece of data I find most telling, from nuclearinfo.net, mentioned earlier:

http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/Web ... lear_Power

Quote:
Another Uranium source for Forsmark is the Rossing Mine in Namibia. A description of the operations of the mine is available here. The Rossing mine produced 3037 tonnes of Uranium in 2004, which is sufficient for 15 GigaWatt-years of electricity with current reactors. The energy used to mine and mill this Uranium was about 3% of a GigaWatt-year. Thus the energy produced is about 500 times more than the energy required to operate the mine.


That's from Rossing, the lowest operational ore grade for the worst quality ore in the world that's currently being mined. 500 fold energy return sounds pretty good to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 3:19 am 
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Another lovely quote which elucidates what a piece of work the SLS analysis is, from the same page:
Quote:
Here SLS predict Rossing should require 2.6 Giga-Watt-Years of energy for mining and milling. The total consumption of all forms of energy in the country of Namibia is equivalent to 1.5 GigaWatt-Years, much less than the prediction for the mine alone.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 7:21 am 
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Actually Lindsay, the Chinese energy efficiency progress is more impressive than the US:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 9:37 am 
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Another one:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 11:23 am 
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Are these corrected for inflation?


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 12:52 pm 
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Yes they are recent dollars (probably 2000 and 2006 USD). The last graph is an index so I'm not sure about that one. The China line looks similar to the others so apparently these are also recent dollars.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Here is a chart from my energy policy class at GA Tech. it is levelized to 2000 dollars and shows a general decline in energy intensity. There are further gains to be made in many industries as old equipment is phased out plus regulations and such.....


Attachments:
Lecture6b_IndustrialEE.jpg
Lecture6b_IndustrialEE.jpg [ 30.15 KiB | Viewed 1779 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 2:33 pm 
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Thanks Cyril and McMooper, those are quite interesting charts with a strong clear trend across the board and from my perspective I find that China chart somewhat counter-intuitive, but it is what it is. I wonder what the energy per capita charts look like.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 3:27 pm 
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It makes perfect sense to me. The Chinese are rapidly transitioning to first world technology. So the efficiency move is strong. They copy very well, have a good national policy on copying technology, and even have a culture that has perfect copies as the highest level of cultural magnificance (as opposed to most Western culture, where being unique is the highest cultural standard).

And frankly, we can't blame the Chinese. Our technology is great.

Keep in mind though, that on an absolute level, energy demand is rising strongly.

Image

And business as usual doesn't look good:

Image

China especially is aiming for the moon and has overtaken the US in primary energy consumption:

Image

What can I say? Energy efficiency is good, but not enough. We need lots more nuclear.


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 Post subject: Re: Net Power / EROI
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2011 4:11 pm 
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Here are three factoids that I took as being additional confirmation that the great economic and industrial power of the US is now formally in decline in relative terms at least.

In 2010:
- For the first time ever, China imported more oil than the US;

- For the first time ever, more new cars per day were registered in China than the US;

- More gold was sold to retail mum and dad investors in China than in the US.

Another important piece of information comes from a Robert Hargraves presentation Aim High. The US could halve its per capita electricity consumption and the rest of the world achieve the same energy intensity, and the US component becomes quite trivial, see attached. The centre of gravity for energy issues is no longer North America, although this is still a very important place in energy terms.

This is the new world of the 21st century and we need to adapt.
Attachment:
Conservation won't do it.pdf [11.57 KiB]
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