The implications of collapsing ERoEI

25 01 2017

Judging by the relatively low level of interest the past few articles published here regarding the collapse of fossil fuel ERoEI (along with PV’s) have attracted, I can only conclude that most people just don’t get it……. How can I possibly fix this……?

When I first started ‘campaigning’ on the issue of Peak Oil way back in 2000 or so, 2020 seemed like a veoileroeiry long way away. I still thought at the time that renewables would ‘save us’, or at the very least that energy efficiency would be taken up on a massive scale. None of those things happened.

Way back then, I gave many public powerpoint presentations, foolishly thinking that, presented with the facts, (NOT alternative facts like we have today…) people would wake up to themselves. I even foolishly believed that the Australian Greens would take this up as a major issue, because after all the ‘solutions’ to Peak Oil also happen to be the ‘solutions’ for Climate Change. Now you know why I have turned into such a cynic.

In that presentation, there was one important slide, shown above. It is indelible in my memory.

I’ve now come across a very similar chart, except this one has dates on it….. and 2020 no longer seems very far away at all….

COLLAPSING ERoEI IN ONE CHART

peakeroei

I have selected three years; 2017, in red; 2020 in black; 2025 in green.

Each year has two lines. One for how much energy is being extracted, and the lower one of the same colour shows the net energy available from that extraction. The ‘missing’ energy, lost to crashing ERoEI, is the difference between the two lines of the same colour….  Already, in 2017, we probably only have the amount of energy that was available mid 1980.

By 2020 (which I happen to believe will be crunch time), net energy available is roughly equal to what we had in ~1975.

By 2025, we will be down to 1950 levels………

It doesn’t matter whether I’m out by 1, 2, 5, or even 10 years (which I very much doubt). The point is, the global economy will have shrunk dramatically by then. It simply cannot grow without energy, more and more of it every year in fact. Without growth, the entire money system will have collapsed, and it’s anyone’s guess how many banks will be left standing. Or governments for that matter, the electorate has recently proven itself to be very very fickle……

Why this isn’t mainstream news beggars belief….

Good luck.

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47 responses

25 01 2017
Lloyd Morcom

Hi Mike. I’ve had a similar journey to you. No-one wants to talk about it any more, even though the situation is developing much as we said. I handed out Greens How-To-Vote cards at elections for years: not any more! I think everyone wants to do everything on their ‘Bucket List” and then die before the SHTF, or they see their children suffer. I’m cruising along much like you, building a house for my wife and myself, getting by on part-time work, writing plays and stories and living in the moment.

28 01 2017
mikestasse

Good to hear, and good luck…….

25 01 2017
Simon

Do you have a reference for above ERoEI chart?

This post consistent with our understanding.
A permaculture garden on a 1/4 acre block not going to be much use when this hits in ?2025.

Regards Simon

25 01 2017
mikestasse

The chart originally came from theoildrum.com, now closed….

And you would be amazed at how much food CAN be grown on a quarter acre….
http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/how-much-land-is-needed-to-be-self-sufficient

25 01 2017
Rob Mielcarski

It is amazing that not one leader or political party anywhere in the world has this at the top of their priority list. So amazing that I went searching for a genetic explanation and found a theory on inherited denial of reality by Ajit Varki that seems to explain the insanity.
https://un-denial.com/2017/01/11/by-alex-smith-radio-ecoshock-interview-with-ajit-varki/

25 01 2017
Chris Harries

Gail Tverberg is likewise flummoxed by this – so much so that in her latest post she suggested that there must be some divine intervention at play. See the last paragraph here: https://ourfiniteworld.com/2017/01/10/2017-the-year-when-the-world-economy-starts-coming-apart/

But she does conclude that things will start falling apart this year, even though logic says it should have already happened. My take on it is that huge systems have in built resilience that holds them in place in defiance of the laws of gravity, so to speak, but only for so long.

25 01 2017
mikestasse

That divine intervention had me flummoxed too……. to such an extent I removed it from her article when I reproduced it!

26 01 2017
psile

The divine intervention is called a printing press. But there is a limit to even the Almighty’s mercy.

25 01 2017
Dr Bob Rich

I understand your frustration, Mike. People don’t understand statistics, projections, trends, however they are presented. Story and analogy are probably better tools.

My projection for the excrement to hit the impeller has been 2017. I hope I am wrong, but as you say, even if it’s out by a few years, we should be on emergency footing, not still denying there is a problem.

🙂
Bob

25 01 2017
Mark

I think most who read here get it, agree and understand. Not much to say actually that would improve what has been presented.

Oil like many minerals is getting harder to extract and will only get more expensive or harder to obtain.
I do believe that small scale solar and wind is useful on a house by house basis as long as you don’t expect to live an excessive lifestyle.

A small electric car charged from your household array will cover over 99% of the countries daily vehicle usage, but not a trip from one end of the country to the other. For the rare long trip hire a vehicle or fly as many do.
Car sharing, better biking facilities and decent public transport will improve things, along with living closer to where you work.

Building better quality and suitable (not mcmanshions) housing would also improve things.

But too many want the next gadget, bigger SUV, third bathroom, widescreen and alfresco area.

I offer advise and guidance if asked but don’t force it on people.
Most ignore the advise when given, but still ask how we managed to pay off our house etc then claim they can’t cut back and live in poverty like us.

Local prawns again today, I like this poverty life that I live, don’t think I could handle the luxury lifestyle where even 1 month of unemployment could cost us the house or car etc.

bit of a rant, but this is the problem we face.

25 01 2017
rabiddoomsayer

We are the coyote, running on air simply because we have not looked down. Or the final scene in Thelma and Louise, car airborne but not yet plummeting. Either way we are going down.

26 01 2017
uilyam

“Already, in 2017, we probably only have the amount of energy that was available mid 1980.” But we have a few more people now than in 1980, and the net energy per capita should therefore less than in 1980.

“By 2020 (which I happen to believe will be crunch time), net energy available is roughly equal to what we had in ~1975.” We will probably have more people in 2020 than the mid-1970s, when the Green Revolution really kicked in to accelerate the population increase, So the net energy per capita should be significantly less than in 1975.

“By 2025, we will be down to 1950 levels………” If the world population reaches ~7.7 billion by 2025, then the net energy per capita would be about one-third the net energy per capita in 1950.

26 01 2017
gbell12

We lose influence at both ends of the spectrum – the simple/scared can’t/won’t look at facts. The more educated and brave turn their backs when there’s an article written with no references! Charts /= facts.

26 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

Basically, you are repeating what M. King Hubbert stated when he developed his predictive model for oil production, which is the bell curve shown in the first diagram.

Though we were instrumental in the peak oil movement nearly 15 years ago, when we advised the PRC government to develop PV and wind for domestic power production, our predictions WRT pricing / BOE were wrong.

We failed to incorporate the impact of two key issues……….
a. inability to pay
b. Zero marginal cost of renewable power.

The latter was brought to our attention by a Portugese scholar, and we gained notoriety for editing his essay into fluent english.

However, you refuse to take into account the ongoing changes in both PV and wind. These two technologies are conforming to Moore’s law, particularly in the case of PV.

An analog to your position can be found in adoption of the automobile. Early cars were quite primitive by today’s standards, yet were adopted, en masse, because they were a great improvement over animal drawn vehicles.
So, too with PV and wind. Wind turbines as recent as 30 years ago were kwe units, whose efficiencies were a fraction of today’s Mwe units, and whose reliability was much worse than today’s direct drive Mwe units. Same with PV. Early panels were prohibitively expensive, and short lived. PV panels were so costly that they were mounted on tracking mounts, or were equipped with reflectors to capture more energy / m2.
Now the most expensive part of a PV installation is the controller and switch gear. Where fitted, storage adds considerably to the sunk cost, too.

However, gains are being made as we speak in both of these items. Solutions to Lithium battery fires have been found, NGK Insulators figured out how to prevent NaS battery fires, as well. So both NaS and LiPO4 batteries are available, and mass production is cutting costs in them and in controllers too.
Now to the gloom and doom of Anthropogenic Climate Change. The last time temperatures were as high as mankind will now experience was 15-20 Mya. By that time the continents were justapositioned similarly to today with the exception of the Isthmus of Panama, which then did not exist. Regardless, life flourished planet wide, including megafauna, and forests.
I agree that there will be winners and losers in the anthropocene, but life will continue. With us or without us……..

26 01 2017
Chris Harries

George, I had to raise my eyebrows in reading your post. The first 90 percent more or less says the doom and gloom was all wrong because increasing efficiencies will overcome any difficulties, then the last paragraph challenges climate change itself and your wrap-up says it doesn’t really matter if we destroy our civilisation because the planet will survive anyway.

I think your distilled message is “not to worry, keep on partying”. If so, it’s a view that most have.

26 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

I take issue with the financially bankrupt claim.
To understand my point I suggest you visit Dr. Bill Mitchell’s blog– billy blog
In summary:
Most of the G7 have financial systems organized during the gold standard era. None of them are on the gold standard, or use specie as money. Given a country is sovereign in creation of it’s currency and only issues debt payable in it’s own currency, said country can never go bankrupt, need not ever default on it’s debt, and need not issue debt to cover expenses in the first place. Said nation can simply purchase the goods and services it needs by issuance of it’s own currency. To facilitate this most currency issuers insist upon acceptance of their currencies for payment of “all debts, public and private”.
So, a sovereign currency issuer has at it’s disposal an infinite amount of money. However, it does not have an infinite amount of resources, goods, services, or labor available to it. To minimize inflation, the sovereign must maximize the creation of goods, and provision of services domestically.
Now to other issues commented upon.

What we have in the G7 is a bankruptcy of ideas, a lack of vision.

We at Public Research Institute have known for quite some time that the world is reaching the end of extractible fossil fuels. We investigated the US economy and created a carbon neutral version of it, complete with all existing industries, quantitiative in nature. Quantitative………. as in numbers…….. not opinions………. not philosophy…………. numbers………..
Our analysis showed that conversion of the US economy to a combination of PV, wind, geothermal, and hydro was not only possible, but contained synergies which made the new economy more liveable. It entailed conversion of all housing to PassivHaus standard, conversion of farm machinery to Elsbett Diesel Technology powered by farm grown seed oils, 6 kwe of PV on the roof of each and every dwelling, 50 Kwe on the roofs of each farm, a 1Mwe direct drive wind turbine on each farm, 250 Kwe of PV on the roofs or sunshades covering the car parks of each commercial building, and production of 3Mbbl/day of distillate via a reverse Fischer-Tropsch process powered by surplus wind generated electricity.
Regarding the statement WRT the Miocene environment, given a geological timeframe, the climate of earth has never been stable, and the Pleistoscene has been one of the coolest climates earth has had. Life flourished during the last great warming, and one can reasonably state that the Permian Extinction is not applicable, for the important reason that continental configuration at that time was one unified gigantic land mass, which we do not presently have. More relevant is the great warming of 15Mya, when continents were basically aligned as today.

In summary, life will continue regardless of anthropogenic climate change, whether mankind survives or not, and one can best anticipate the consequences via paleo-ecological studies of periods similar to the one pending.

INDY

26 01 2017
Chris Harries

Thanks for your lengthy reply George.

Have you any idea of timescale – even if such a transition from fossil fuels to soft technology is nominally viable? Have you any idea of the cost of that massive technology transition considering the trillions that are currently invested in the current energy path and nearly all of which would have to be replaced – just to get us to where we are now.

Put the 1) time frame and 2) cost together and we have a diabolical impasse. The current global economy is already teetering.

I’m not advocating sitting on our hands but the rose tinted idea that we can simply change horses and keep going is implausible. Not without very racial lifestyle changes at least.

But you do concede that we may extinguish ourselves anyway, and philosophically speaking I am sort of with you on that score. From a cosmic / inter galactic perspective our existence is as important as no greater than is any grain of sand in the Sahara.

What I don’t particularly like is that thought (“why does it matter if we blow everything apart”) being used to argue for complacency in seriously analysing and responding to the human predicament.

26 01 2017
mikestasse

The problem is NOT countries going bankrupt, because as you say, they can print their own money….

The problem lies in that you and I or companies, CANNOT print our own money, so that when we reach the stage where we can no longer service our debts let alone consume to keep the economy going, said economy is stuffed…. without a working economy, all your green dreams are just that… dreams.

27 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

One respondent mentioned that non sovereigns are currency users…… not issuers……… Yes, this is so…….

However, all that highlights is the total lack of vision in G-7 political leaders…..

Disagree???

The PRC produces 300 million tons of steel annually. USA 20 million tons….
The PRC has over 55,000 km of high speed double tracked electrified rail…
including a line to Lhasa on the Tibetan plateau at 5000 meters altitude…
USA……….. none……….
Australia……….. none…………. NZ…………… none………….

The PRC is building and fielding Gwe of new PV and wind projects to specifically address their severe atmospheric pollution problem.

How????????

Through the use of Sovereign Credit………. dunno about this???

Dr. Mitchell of the University of New South Wales does……… and he is in your backyard!!!!! It’s called MMT!!!

The PRC built highways nationwide……… hospitals…… ditto……. schools ditto……new cities……….. new automated factories……….

Given the anglo-zionists wanted to refurbish their water supply……… USA $$$1 trillion needed……….. refurbish their rail ways……. water ways…….
housing…………… they could……… and in the process put their populations to work………

They could also convert their housing to PassivHaus, emplace PV on roofs nationwide…….. build 65 million stationary batteries / year……..

Eliminate the need for fracking……… new pipelines threatening Lake Olathe….. among other risks……….

Provide medical care to every citizen………

All that is lacking is vision……… The workforce is there……. the need is there…….. the technologies are there……… idle capacity is there……..

Rather than building CVAs and F35s to intimidate the PRC…… you could buy PV and wind turbines from them…….. bulllet trains…….. too!

Batteries from Japan…….. instead of Toyotas………

27 01 2017
mikestasse

AND the Chinese used more cement in three years than the USA did in the entire 20th Century… I bet that did a lot of good to CO2 emissions figures.

BTW, the reason we in Australia don’t have high speed rail is because it’s completely unviable. The distances are too large, inversely proportional to our paltry population numbers. NEVER gonna happen, certainly before TSHTF within five years or less..!

http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/tell-him-hes-dreaming-why-malcolm-turnbulls-plan-for-high-speed-rail-is-a-joke/news-story/a8cc200d15cce3133b2989f256ec2df9

28 01 2017
mikestasse

Behind a facade of hallucinatory paper wealth, our nation is effectively bankrupt. The only thing that enables us to pay our debts now is the status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency—this allows the Treasury to issue debt at a breakneck pace and never have to worry about the cost—and that status is trickling away as one country after another signs bilateral deals to facilitate trading in other currencies. Sooner or later, probably in the next two decades, the United States will be forced to default on its national debt, the way Russia did in 1998. Before that happens, a great many currently overvalued corporations that support themselves by way of frantic borrowing will have done the same thing by way of the bankruptcy courts, and of course the vast majority of America’s immense consumer debt will have to be discharged the same way. __ John Michael Greer.

28 01 2017
mikestasse

I’ve only JUST picked up on this one…….: “They could also convert their housing to PassivHaus”

Sorry, but that’s IMPOSSIBLE…… How do I know? I tried it.

In a previous life, I was an Energy Rating Technician, basically modeling energy in=out to calculate how much heating and cooling a particular design would need even before it was built. I used Bers Pro software, and it’s very very good, accurate to boot.

I used this software to optimise the design of the last house I built, which was 10 stars. https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/more-blank-slate/ To put this in perspective, your average McMansion would rate (in Australia) 1000 to 3000 MJ of heating/cooling energy per m2 of floor space. My last house rated just 11. Our next house will rate even less. It may well turn out to be Australia’s most energy efficient house, period…….. https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/progress-at-the-house-site/

Armed with this software, I believed I would be able to modify existing houses and turn them into the sort of efficient building they should have started out to be. Simple, right? Just modify window size, double glaze, add shading, add insulation, etc etc……. well guess what? The best I could EVER EVER manage was turn a lemon into maybe a 2 star house, or a reasonable one into a 3 star one, or 4 star at the very best…. I was shocked….. Sure, anything was an improvement, but a PassivHaus..? Hhahahahaha!!!

27 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

Yes, we know how much the conversion will cost…… and we estimated the time frame required to achieve it… under various scenarios…….

And………… it’s cheaper than funding petro-energy exploration, development, and production!……….

27 01 2017
mikestasse

We don’t do that anymore, because we don’t have oil left.

27 01 2017
Chris Harries

Well George, with respect, you don’t just need a timeframe, you have to fit into a timeframe before systems unravel.

Predictions on that front vary from right now to thirty years time. Given that there’s quite a lag time in transitioning to new technology (60 million new petrol driven cars will be sold this year, and the year after and the year after… and each of them has a possible 20 year lifespan) even with the best of intent and the most optimistic technological mind set we are running hard against the time limit.

Here’s a guy who likes to present in an upbeat manner for reasons of empowerment, but even Alex admits that there’s no soft landing.

https://thenearlynow.com/seize-the-future-cb964ecb0792#.fg7blzhcv

28 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

FYI, I am a physical Oceanographer…………. salinity……… currents………. chemistry………. etc:

The climate of the Pleistocene……… the current geologic era we are in……… is a direct consequence of three significant plate movements……….
India shifting north and into the asian plate……… creating the himilayas….
Australia shifting north and into the Indonesian plate……… opening a path for
oceanic water to flow east under the influence of the high latitude westerlies
South America shifting north, in consequence opening the Drake Passage, which permitted the Antarctic Circumpolar Current(ACP) to intiate.

The ACP effectively isolated Antarctica from the heat further north, which directly led to ice cap formation, and the current ice dominated condition.
Formation of the Antarctic Ice Cap, via the albedo effect, cooled the earth markedly, leading to formation of the arctic ice cap, and the glaiciations which dominate the pleistoscene.
Anthropogenic climate change will not stop the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, it most likely will stop the “Great Salt Conveyor”, which will probably cause the Gulf Stream to veer southward near the south tip of Greenland, instead of flowing NE into the Barents and White Seas. This will lead to significant cooling of Europe. This cooling will be moderated by absence of arctic ice cover, which via the albedo effect will contribute to warming of the Northern Hemisphere.

Regardless, life has endured similar conditions, and the mid-Miocene thermal Maximum, is most analogous to what lies before us. This specifically means that the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum and the Permian Extinction as recorded in the geologic record will not repeat, exactly.

That said, we will likely experience massive dieoff of oceanic plankton and corals due to acidification, which occurred in the Permian Extinction.

Which specifically means, that we could convert to a carbon neutral economy over a period of 8-20 years, and it is quite likely that some of us will survive. Exactly how many is a function of surviving agricultural productivity, which is an unknown.

28 01 2017
mikestasse

“This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like. It’s not about sitting in a cozy earth-sheltered home under a roof loaded with solar panels, living some close approximation of a modern industrial lifestyle, while the rest of the world slides meekly down the chute toward history’s compost bin, leaving you and yours untouched. It’s about political chaos— … It’s about environmental chaos— … More than anything else, it’s about loss.”

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/how-great-fall-can-be.html

26 01 2017
Sam Powrie

George, With respect I don’t think I should have to point this out, but… I think Mike (and others) are going a bit beyond simply repeating Hubbard. I think what’s being acknowledged now is that net energy is what’s important – not simply the production capacity of oil, our main source of transit energy! It’s a sufficient level of net energy that is required to assist any energy transition. I no longer think it’s possible for western civilisation to take control over the process. It’s all too late. We’re now subject to the forces of inevitability without the tools we need to take the alternative actions and courses you identify (energy storage systems etc) on the scale required. It seems to me that the next few generations will inevitably face an enforced ‘simpler way’ – maybe similar to how most of those in the western world lived in the 1930s…

One important possible indice of humanity’s capacity to overcome this challenge will – I think – be Trump’s success or otherwise in implementing all of the miracles and great works he’s promised the American people. Building the great wall, rebuilding the US economy, rebuilding the US road system, making the US ‘energy independent’ etc. All of these goals seek to face down the reality of diminishing net energy – simple as that!
Sam

26 01 2017
gbell12

Mike,

You’ll like this idea – it explains why you can’t wake people up. A real researcher, not a commentator (though the summary of the theory here is a commentator).

https://un-denial.com/denial-2/theory-short/

26 01 2017
Blue Peter

G’day to all
Mike you mentioned the oil drum, this got me athinking (I know not a good idea in todays world)
BUT
Matt Simons:- the oil drum Book twilight in the desert. DEAD.
Joe Bagent:- american scholar and philosopher, He wrote several books on the Amercian way. DEAD.
Steven Shinder:- a climate scientist, one of the best I have heard speak. DEAD.
David Mackay:- sustainable energy without the hot air. The link between energy and the living plant. DEAD.

Not a word mentioned in the media about the death of these very intelligent people AND YET some rock roll star dies, usually because of the life style they have lived and it is front page news tears etc.

How does one figure that out.

I personal think that , we all know we are finically bankrupt, (current world debt $217T) but WE are also morally, ethically and spiritually bankrupt, that is why there is becoming a religious component to what happening in the world.

Blue Peter

26 01 2017
Harquebus

All one can do now is prepare as best one can.
Good luck from me also.
Cheers.

29 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

From: An Empirical Perspective on the Energy Payback Time for Photovoltaic Mocules by Karl E. Knapp and Theresa L. Jester, Solar 2000, Madison, June 2000.

Making a solar panel involved 2742 processes using 2857 materials in 2000, and fewer now. At the time of their study the norm for mono-crystalline panels were 200 micron thick cells sawn from mono-crystalline ingot. Today, proton induced exfoilation produces mono-crystalline cells 20 micron thick, with no sawing, and no kerf loss
In 2000, Knapp and Jester found 5713 kwh (including both materials and processing), were spent making 1 kwe of solar panel at 13% efficiency. Today, with proton induced exfoilation, auto cooling, and streamlined processing 1764 kwh are required to make 1 kwe of solar panel with 21% efficiency.
Today’s panel has 62% of the area of one built in 2000 to make the same power, and uses 5% of the silicon required back then. Knapp and Jester found an EROEI for PV panels = 7.6 in 2000, and today PV panels EROEI = 24.6, due to thinner silicon cells, streamlined processing, and less area per Kwe.
In Life Cycle Energy Cost of Gas Turbine Power, P.J. Meier and G.L. Kulcinski, Madison, WI,2000, the authors calculated the EROEI of Gas Turbine power, including the cost of extracting and transporting the gas to the plant, constructing the plant, operating same, and decommissioning same. I added the cost of transmission and distribution of the power to their findings. The results are as follows:
Gas at well head EROEI = 7.8
Gas at plant EROEI = 4.6
Net energy of electricity leaving plant EROEI= 1.75
Net energy delivered to consumer EROEI = 1.18

29 01 2017
Chris Harries

Thank you George. All grist to the mill.

But ERoEI figures bandied about by all and sundry are becoming rather meaningless. I’ve seen cradle-to-grave ERoEI for solar pv down so low that it turns out negative. Some enthusiasts putt at above 10:1. Most nuclear Energy Return calculations come in around 5:1 all things considered, but I’ve seen proponent figures some in at 80:1.

My general advice on this is, anyone who wants to make a case on net energy return should use data that’s provided by neutral academic experts. Second advices is to look at the range of figures provided by all sources and go for the middle range.

(This is in accordance with the theory argued by Jarred Diamond who says that where an issue throws up disputed findings the true figure almost invariably sits somewhere between the espoused top and bottom extremes.
It’s only natural for humans to hunt around and find the figures that best suit their own argument.)

29 01 2017
mikestasse

How many times do we have to tell you the problem lies in the BALANCE OF SYSTEM….? Plus the fact that because technology is forever changing/improving (take your pick…..) when something goes wrong with the system, you often have to change THE WHOLE SYSTEM….. or so much of it it makes no difference to the results.

I’ve had so much experience with inverters not lasting and being incompatible with what is left of the system, it’s not funny. I’m so paranoid about this that I will buy THREE backup inverters and MPPTs for my system, as soon as I can afford it…..

29 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

FYI, no one has to use “Balance of System” as a club on me.

As I posted earlier, there is no need for an inverter in a household PV system.
The poster who continues to obfuscate and continues to bad mouth the EROEI of PV, has grounding and lightning suppression problems in his PV system. Specifically his inverters and controllers are not properly grounded, or are not properly isolated to prevent damage due to ligntning strikes.

In the same way, stupidity in routeing oil pipelines, leads to destruction of water supplies, ala the current controversy over the DAPL in the USA. And stupidity in closing in oil production wells led to mass pollution of the Gulf of Mexico. At least stupidity in wiring up a PV system has minimal environmental effects.

WRT the “piss off mate” which refused to acknowledge the scholarship part and parcel of the paper cited “An Empirical Perspective on the Energy Payback Time for Photovoltaic Mocules by Karl E. Knapp and Theresa L. Jester, Solar 2000, Madison, June 2000 ” That paper was peer reviewed, and presented at a major Solar Power conference, which is more than I can say for the rubbish posted here. That paper was quantitative, investigated the entire PV production process, IN DETAIL, and unlike the posters here sucessfully defended its claims during the Q&A session shortly after presentation.

So, given you are having reliability problems with controllers and inverters, I suggest the following…….. convert the house to VDC……… make your own controller using discretes……… from schematics…….. and buy both parts and equipment to repair the gear……….

Not possible??? Then how did my father get K9AAR on the air and WAC??? With homemade gear of course!

INDY

INDY

30 01 2017
mikestasse

You REALLY live in lala land….. how many people can make their own controllers and/or fix them…? 0.0001% of the population? Yeah…. sounds like a climate breaking solution….

NO, I do not have earthing/grounding problems, and no, NONE of the inverters I had die on me were EVER hit by lightning. They were just CRAP. Did you even bother reading the link I wrote about my experience with inverters..? BTW, here is the grounding wire in my new system…grounding link

Regarding converting a house to DC…… good luck with that. Sounds like a major house renovation job, and then you are stuck with a very limited choice of appliances to run. And in any case, when the economy hits the fan, and it could happen THIS year, all those small volume manufacturers will simply close up shop.

Seeing as Charlie Hall is the godfather of the concept of ERoEI, doing his PhD on it under Howard Odum, I fail to see how you can call his work ‘rubbish’. For someone who purports to have a PhD yourself, your tone of writing does not give you a lot of credibility.

30 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

No, I work and live aboard ORV Pegasus, our research ship. Pegasus was fitted with a Heart Interface Inverter when built. That unit functioned flawlessly until hit with a stream of salt water from a blown cooling hose on the main engine. We replaced that unit with a Xantrex inverter 6 years ago. It works flawlessly. We have 920 watts of PV which is sufficient to run the ship, regardless of weather conditions. Our Outback MPPT controllers have also worked flawlessly since installation 6 years ago.

So, again it appears that your installation is the problem, not the equipment……… unless of course………. you ascribe to my wife’s philosophy…… saving a penny to spend a dollar……….

So, let’s get a few things straight. I’m no johnny come lately WRT renewable power, living off the grid, etc: Regardless of scale. I organized a 900 Mwe renewable power company in Namibia and South Africa to meet the needs of their governments, do renewable power installations for communities, and installed off the grid power systems in the marine environment.

So, get your system fixed. There is most definitely something fundamentally wrong with the installation. And stop bitching about PV’s EROEI….. since…… your problem is not with the PV……. it’s with Inverters….. which are not necessary for a PV power generation system………

And, your claim about 0.001% being able to make an inverter, or an MPPT controller is more of the BULLSHIT you seem most capable of spewing…. which I imagine means that is the only capability you have. Actually getting something done……….. is beyond you………

INDY

30 01 2017
mikestasse

Really George… now you want people to make their own inverters? Most people don’t know the front end to the back end of a diode……

And no George, there was nothing wrong with the installation…… three invereters blew up, all of different problems, and I even had lightning protection circuit breaker in the meter box, and it was untouched….. On top of that, I had TWO inverters hooked up, and only one blew up…. ‘splain THAT..?

And if you don’t understand how the balance of system doesn’t affect the ERoEI of PVs, then you haven’t even bothered reading the article….

30 01 2017
gbell12

Thanks for posting data, George. It’s appreciated in what can be a hot-air windstorm.

I have a viewpoint very close to Mike’s but feel like hearing challenging viewpoints is essential at arriving at the truth.

The current popularity of solar PV for the home is largely due to pure-sine inverters making ‘life as usual’ possible. There are a lot of problems running a home on dc. Or are you advocating for a massive cultural shift (involving much lower living standards) to make it through the impending liquid fuels crisis?

I think you should acknowledge Mike’s solid experience with both PV systems and home energy retrofitting. And his holistic thinking. Practical experience and systems thinking beats academic papers.

25 02 2017
mikestasse

TOO BLOODY LATE. Which part of too late don’t you understand?

29 01 2017
Dr. George W. Oprisko

One of you mentioned that it is “IMPOSSIBLE” to convert an existing building to PassivHaus standard, citing a model that was used to prove this.

Dunno about the model used, but I know quite a bit about Computer Modeling, since I cut my teeth on Rainfall-streamflow models in the early 70s.

But I do know of successful conversions in the NYC area. Real buildings…. not computer models.

If I could find them, so can you.

As I’ve said previously…………. The journey begins with the first step………

Regarding the general gloom and doom………. I just read a German paper covering the Mid-miocene thermal maximum. Temperatures then were about 12 degrees Celsius higher than now, and crocodiles roamed what is now Germany

If crocodiles, tortoises, and amphibians survived that climate in northern Europe then……….. they will likely also survive what is coming……..

29 01 2017
mikestasse

It was ME, remember… the owner of this website who happens to have expertise in energy efficiency modeling..? Models in the 70’s were also far simpler than the models we now use in the 20 teens. There is so much data in a house energy model that even a powerful computer takes 3 to 5 minutes to wade through it all…. measuring the solar ingress through every window for every hour of the year, measured at the exact latitude angle, and correlating it all with the climate data at the site… working out the thermal effect of the colour of the walls and roof even, whether the curtains are open or closed at different times, how many people live in the house, etc etc etc….

Well come on then……. show us these magical conversions. With data please. I want to see the data that says a lemon was converted to a 10 star PassivHaus.

30 01 2017
Blue Peter

G’day to all,
Interesting points people are making here, BUT please can I ask all when putting your point of view to remember your manners. This comes to what I posted earlier about morals.

Stay clear headed, Blue Peter

30 01 2017
Austapteryx

Mike,
Getting back to your original point about people not getting it, I have experienced that in most cases where I have talked to my (mainly scientific) colleagues about this. I get either denial or apathy. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment a few days ago when I watched Todd Sampson on ‘Retrain My Brain’ doing a test for optimism bias. I was amazed that when he was asked to estimate probabilities of an event, then given the actual probabilities and retested, his responses to positive events changed a lot, but his responses to negative events changed by only about 1%. He apparently has extreme optimism bias, but given that optimism bias is much more common (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unflagging-optimism/) it probably means that it doesn’t matter how many negative facts you throw at people, it changes their view very little if at all. I suspect then, that those of us that do get it, have either a more realistic bias, or pessimism bias.

30 01 2017
Chris Harries

Now, Austapteryx, add in my theory on optimism bias. Which goes roughly along the lines that no mater what we may privately think, there’s a stigma against being negative or pessimistic. Therefore when people like David Attenborough or Todd Sampson have a microphone put tin their face and are asked if they are pessimistic they lie. Not maliciously, but strategically.

Privately I believe Attenborough is distraught, but he dare not communicate his despair because there’s a long activist history whereby we build up people’s spirits in the face of challenges by saying that we can win.

It’s just not the done thing to do to tell people there’s little hope, so we tend to manufacture optimism so as to inspire people to keep up the battle.

There’s something to be said for this generally, it is actually true that people need to feel Hope if they are to rise to a challenge. But I think at least a few people should bluntly say it as it is, otherwise we can get taken in by our own manufactured optimism and turn a blind eye to the real emergency that faces us. Manufactured optimism can also inspire us to do things, including the commitment of a lot of resources in the wrong directions. This is actually happening.

31 01 2017
mikestasse

Of course…… there IS hope. Hope that we will all come to our senses and live more simply so we may simply live.

But it ain’t gonna happen is it….. hopium

31 01 2017
Austapteryx

I kind of agree with you Chris, but I think it comes down to the pressure to conform. If about 80% have optimism bias then they most of the people you meet will be optimists and will want you to think the way they do. It is just part of human bonding. That said, it is also OK to be pessimistic in the context of what the herd is thinking. So it is OK to be pessimistic about things like the effects of Donald Trump, the weather, the latest management decision you all don’t like, whether the latest version of Windows will be annoying or not etc.

Yes we do need to manufacture optimism to keep people motivated, but if it is out of touch with reality, like you said, it does lead us in the wrong directions and can make things worse. I keep telling my kids that with everything you gain, you lose something, and with everything you lose you gain something. So we may end up with a world that does not have the conveniences of the current one, but may have a much greater sense of community, maybe less stress, a simpler life, less noise etc. Of course that is probably a long way off with much pain in between but we can still hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.

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