[ExI] Cheap fuel from coal and solar

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Fri Oct 20 19:01:39 UTC 2023

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> 
Subject: Re: [ExI] Cheap fuel from coal and solar

On Thu, Oct 19, 2023 at 9:42 PM spike jones via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf 
> Of BillK via extropy-chat ... 
> _______________________________________________
> >... China is the most likely to try to buy a hunk of Africa and enforce a border with military force.

>...The future is impossible to predict, but I don't think you can defend PV...

Ja, Keith the South Africans used the energy in coal to run the process of conversion to liquid fuel.  As I understand it, that is highly inefficient in that it produced a loooootta lotta CO2 and requires a relatively higher grade of coal to make it go right.

If some external power source is available such as nuclear or possibly enormous arrays of PVs, the process is practical from a CO2 production point of view.

>...To the best of my knowledge, Fischer Tropsch does not use a lot of water...

It doesn't need a lot of fresh water, but it needs a lot of cooling water from what I have heard.  If you have the option of using evaporative cooling that is great, but it requires fresh water.  If we have the option of dumping the waste heat out at sea, it requires being reasonably close to the coast.  West Africa offers a lot of direct overhead sunlight, access to the sea for water and transportation both ways, even a fresh water source if it is extracted from seawater (which is an energy hog but it might be the best way to go out in the desert.)  

>...The Gobi is far to the north making the PV output highly seasonal...

Ja, agree, far less energy available up that high for PV.  China has an authoritarian government so they have the option to clear an area of proles by just a simple: OK all you little commies, hit the road.  Dear Leader needs your farms, to make fuel for your tractors that you can no longer use because Dear Leader took your farms.  

China stretches far enough down there that maybe PVs are practical, maybe.  It would have some advantages over biting off a hunk of Africa, such as... they already own it.

>...the Saudis have signed a deal for 300 GW of solar by 2030...

Seems like a great place to plant lots of PVs.  Let's see if they can make it pay.

>... the Saudis *could* switch over and sell this kind of synthetic oil for at least another generation...

I don't see why not.  They have lots of sunshine down there, plenty of open land, access to the sea and the Med, which means they could deliver synfuels to the rich infidels in Europe, make buttloads of money.

>...Sorry for all the math but I can't say if something is a good idea or not without working the numbers.  I realize I am an extreme outlier in this respect... Keith


Me too Keith.  As I recall the numbers would work if you had ways to get coal in there, ways to get the synfuels out and plenty of space for PVs or a nuke plant, plus immunity from Europe's notions on how immoral it is to keep burning carbon.  Saudi Arabia has all that and knows that running farm equipment on batteries will not happen anytime soon, it knows that passenger aircraft cannot run on batteries, that rockets don't run on batteries, that plenty of necessary modern processes depend on the energy densities available in liquid fuels.  The demand for that stuff isn't going away until we go away (we meaning civilized humanity.) 


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