[ExI] EP and Peak oil.

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Thu Apr 3 04:50:47 UTC 2008

On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 9:26 PM, John K Clark <jonkc at att.net> wrote:
> "Keith Henson" <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>
> > Plan B is that something like 90% of humans starve.
>  I don't think power satellites are the only hope the human race has, and I
>  certainly hope not!  Earlier I listed 5 technologies:
>  1) Coal

According to New Scientist, 25 years till peak coal.

>  2) Tar Sands

Being exploited now.  They would benefit hugely from power sats to
supply upgrade hydrogen.

>  3) Oil Shale

Environmental problems you would not believe.  Biggest problem is the
tails are larger than the hole they came out of.  Second biggest
problem, they leach alkali.

>  4) Methane Clathrate,

Nobody has an idea of how to capture it.

>  5) Nuclear Fission

Every version I know about can be tapped for neutrons.  Combine that
with 100s to thousands of tons of DU, and it's a very serious problem.


>  I believe all of these are far more feasible than power satellites, even
>  Methane Clathrate. I know you said they weren't renewable, but if you want
>  to be that way neither is solar power. Let's just say they would all last a
>  very long time.

If something like power sats don't pick up the load, you may live to
see peak coal, and that's the one that will last longest.

>  The trouble with power satellites is it could take a couple of trillion
>  dollars just to build a prototype and then you could learn for sure that the
>  idea just isn't going to work.

2 trillion is on a par with the Iraq war.  It's got to be a better
investment than that.  There is no reason to think it won't work, the
physics is more than 200 years old.

>  The best ideas are those where you can start
>  small and learn by doing; and then when you really develop some skill in
>  the area you can scale it all up with some confidence you can make it all
>  work. With Power satellites you've got to start gigantic from day one, and
>  that seldom works out very well for a radically new technology; but I
>  hope I'm wrong.

It depends.  The main problem is transport to GEO, the rest of the
risk is fairly low.  The current choices are space elevator, lasers
and rockets in order both of decreasing efficiency and risk.  And
yeah, it's big.  But so is the problem.  I sized the space elevator to
build enough in one year to displace the US coal fired plants.


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