Peak Oil and Alternative Energy

A lot of people have been talking about peak oil and recent highly marketed cars like Tesla as if electric cars are a new concept. Above is a picture of an electric car from 1880. Right around then the first high density rechargeable lead acid batteries came into play. What’s more interesting is that by 1900 40% of cars were steam powered, 38% were electric and a fraction were gas powered. Today is a very different story.

When people talk about alternative energy or green tech I generally question their research. There’s very little technology out there that’s genuinely green really as solar towers running at 21-31% efficiency running off the sun and¬†geothermal power harnessing the Earth’s heat to drive steam turbines with 12-21% efficiency. That aside most power plants run around 40% off of fossil fuels but dramatically drive up GHG emissions especially from coal fired plants. Solar panels take the same amount of energy to produce one as they harness in an entire year. While many graphene advancements have been made in solar it’s hardly there yet but it will be soon as it’s being made cost effective. Wind turbines are hardly cost effective, and really don’t do much compared to alternative sources. Hydro dams are good except for they tend to build mercury up, flood out farm land and change the river flow killing off fish stock like sturgeon the world around with exception to only the Fraser River. Nuclear power plants dangerous aside take their entire life span to pay off.

So when someone jumps in their electric car I shake my head wondering if they even know where their electricity comes from. The answers might not be as pretty as you think but that’s life. Year-over-year we see improvements. In about 5 years we will see quick charge batteries rapidly charge vehicles and dramatically extend their range. The prices of batteries will be lower and last longer as current innovations have shown this already to be the case. In the next 15-20 years we may see prices of properties around airports rise as electric planes come into market with low sound pollution. Solar paint would coat their body and wings using current innovations to harness additional power. At that altitude the solar generation would be optimal. I suspect most flights would be generally shorter domestic flights but quick swap battery packs in large containers could make current fueling times look like a complete joke reducing general flight costs. Airports could be lined with solar panels and contribute to the energy production of the planes as graphene solar panels enter into the 20% range cost effectively. ¬†An obstacle high or low however remains temperatures which effect batteries immensely.

Peak oil isn’t here yet and likely won’t be for quite some time. The reality is the technology isn’t there yet for most production or commercial applications. The cost prohibitive solutions and most recent drop in fuel have immensely set back green tech alternatives. We are however seeing first signs of changes to come. It will be interesting to see even if that means just hybrid technology because while oil goes up tech costs go down.

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