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Preview: The Oil Drum: Canada - Discussion of Energy and Canada's Future

The Oil Drum: Canada - Discussion of Energy and Canada's Future


In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 15:11:07 +0000

Thermodynamics When you use energy, the rules are very well defined.  The first and second laws of thermodynamics have been well understood for well over a century, and the third for just over a century, but the subject is still viewed by most as being pretty arcane.  This is a pity, both because these laws are of such importance, and because almost everyone has a fair understanding of the first and second laws, even if they think they don't.  Understanding the implications of the laws is another matter. [break] There are many facetious versions of the laws.  The set I like best goes: (zeroth law) You must play the game. (first law) You can't win. (second law) You can only break even on a very cold day. (third law) It doesn't get that cold. These are surprisingly accurate. The actual laws are, it should be remembered, experimental in origin.  The world has been found to work this way. Zeroth Law The zeroth law actually states that if two systems A and B are in equilibrium with each other, and systems B and C are also in equlibrium with each other, then systems A and C are also in equilibrium with each other.  Another way of putting it is that situations like Escher's "Waterfall" don't occur in real life. You must play the game. First Law The first law is the law of conservation of energy.  It includes the equivalence of heat and work, but is more general than that, in that there are many forms of energy that are interconvertible, but with the total for an isolated system remaining constant over time.  One point that is often misunderstood is the role of the equation E = mc2.  This is usually taken to refer to a conversion of matter into energy, but the reality is simpler.  Energy has mass, and the equation tells you how much.  No matter what conversions take place in a isolated system, its total energy (and hence mass) remains constant. You can't win. Second Law The second law is the one that results from the observation that hot things lose heat to colder ones.  It's a one-way process.  Mechanical work can be turned into heat.  Heat can be turned into mechanical work, but there are limitations.  The implications of this are far-reaching, and a surprising amount can be deduced (and defined) from just this and a thought experiment. If we have two reservoirs of heat (both conveniently infinite in capacity) at different temperatures, then devices can be constructed that take heat from the hotter reservoir, turn some of it into mechanical work and reject the rest to the colder reservoir.  The rejection of part of the heat has been found to be unavoidable, but the amount of rejected heat becomes less as the temperature of the heat source is raised.  Without at this stage defining what we mean by the numerical value of a temperature, let us suppose that the maximum possible efficiency of conversion is a definite function of the two temperatures.  Engine efficiencies are usually defined as [work out/heat in], but in this case, I'll look at [heat out/heat in] or [1 - efficiency].  If the temperatures of the two reservoirs are T1 and T2 and the heat taken from the hotter is q1, and the heat released to the colder is q2, then we will say that: q2/q1 = F(T2,T1)       F is some as yet unknown function (an algebraic expression) of the two temperatures. Maximum efficiency implies reversibility of the process.  An example of this is that heat transfer from the hotter reservoir to the engine must be achieved without any temperature difference between the reservoir and the part of the engine that absorbs the heat.  If there were any difference, the heat engine would operate at a lower efficiency (smaller temperature difference between hot and cold), and it would not be possible to run the process backwards (heat won't flow "uphill").  There can't be any friction either.  The engine with maximum efficiency is thus reversib[...]

The Round-Up: October 24, 2008

Fri, 24 Oct 2008 14:41:44 +0000

Petro-Can may scrap Fort Hills upgrader to cut costs

...Petro-Canada's partner, UTS Energy, estimated deferring the upgrader would cut costs of Fort Hills by about half, to the $13-billion to $15-billion range.
"Due to several factors including costs, current commodity, equity and credit market conditions, the partners are considering deferral of any decision to construct the upgrader," UTS said in a statement.
Petro-Canada, the country's third-largest oil company, said in September that costs at Fort Hills, located roughly 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Ab., had ballooned between 50% and 60% to more than $23-billion through the last year....

Suncor could cut plans further if price slump persists

CALGARY -- Suncor Energy Inc. -- which axed capital spending plans by more than a third Thursday, delaying completion of its third oil sands upgrader -- could also hold back future expansion plans at its Firebag in-situ operations if the credit crisis and slumping oil prices stick around...
Suncor on Thursday cut its spending plans to $6-billion in 2009, down from its previous forecast of $9-billion to $10-billion. About $3.6-billion, or about 60%, of its 2009 spending will go into its planned $20.6-billion Voyageur expansion project, which includes its new upgrader. The upgrader will be delayed to sometime in 2012, pushed back from late 2011.

Quick Sand: Credit Crunch and Falling Oil Hit Oil-Sands Projects

It’s unclear whether the pullback owes more to the financial crisis or to falling oil prices, which make exotic oil fields such as tar sands less economically-appealing. Either way, it shows how oil-gathering efforts that were said to make sense a year ago no longer seem so economic...

OIL SANDS-PART 3: Biggest Customer Has Second Thoughts

Together, skyrocketing construction costs, falling crude prices, increasingly vocal opposition from some native groups, and a little known section of the 2007 U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act all threaten growth projections in northern Alberta.

"If I was an investor, I wouldn't want to take the risk of putting money into the tar sands right now," said Liz Barratt-Brown, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defence Council, an NGO leading U.S. lobbying efforts against Canada's heavy oil industry.

Les sables bitumineux (special report in French)

Il y a présentement 17 projets d'expansion de raffineries dans la région des Grands Lacs, dont 16 en territoire américain. Les chercheurs de l'Université de Toronto signalent que les promoteurs des raffineries sont attirés par les Grands Lacs car ils pourraient faire usage des grandes quantités d'eau disponibles dans la région.

Le rapport scientifique, qui doit être dévoilé ce mercredi, précise que la valeur des projets d'expansion des raffineries d'ici 2015 pourrait atteidre 31 milliards $ US afin qu'elles soient en mesure de traiter les sables albertains. Mis ensemble, ces projets risquent d'anéantir les gains de lutte à la pollution réalisés dans cette région depuis les années 70, selon les auteurs.

Compressed Air Energy Storage - How viable is it?

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 14:00:19 +0000

Energy Storage - Compressed Air One of the most critical aspects of the implementation of renewable electricity is the ability to store electricity.  If a good solution existed right now, our situation would be a good deal easier.  On the face of it, compressed air seems a likely candidate: relatively easy to make, store and use - so what is the problem?  Why isn't it used routinely? More Thermodynamics than You Ever Wanted to Know? We usually speak of storing and using energy without being very precise about what we mean.  That ends forever if you take a few chemistry or engineering courses.  Thermodynamics rules everything. [break] Let's start with the usual definition of work - using a force to push something a given distance (in the direction of the force).  The amount of work is the force multiplied by the distance, and has units of energy.  If we lift a 1 kg mass by 1 metre in the earth's gravitational field on the surface of the earth, then the work done on it is the force required: 1kg x 9.8 m/s2 (9.8 Newtons), times 1 metre, or 9.8 Joules.  Since a Watt is 1 Joule per second, then in principle (no friction), this lift could be carried out in 9.8 seconds by a 1 Watt electric motor.  At the end of the process, the weight has acquired 9.8 Joules of gravitational potential energy. We just constructed an energy storage device.  The weight we lifted could now be allowed to descend, giving its potential energy back to an electrical generator and making electricity in the process.  This is in fact the basis of possibly the most effective existing way of storing electricity.  Water is pumped from a low reservoir to a high one at times when there is a surplus of electricity, and then allowed to flow back when there is a shortage.  For useful amounts of energy storage using reservoirs that are not too large, one generally requires reservoir height differences of a hundred metres or more, which limits this to suitable terrain. So what about compressed air?  Surely a cylinder of compressed air contains energy that could be used to drive something? This is where it all becomes a little strange.  The energy content of compressed gas isn't very different from that of uncompressed gas at the same temperature.  For an ideal gas, the energy contents are identical.  How come we can get work from the compressed gas? The answer is that compressed gas has a lower entropy than the uncompressed gas, and that the amount of useful work you can get out of something when it changes depends both on the change in energy content and the change in entropy.  We usually focus so much on the energy side of things that we ignore the entropy side. If the compressed gas has no more energy than the uncompressed gas, where did the energy used to compress it go?  The answer can be found in the old bicycle pump experiment.  When you compress a gas it becomes hot.  In fact all the work put into an ideal gas to compress it is turned into heat.  If that heat is thrown away, the same amount of energy as was in that work is thrown away with it. To look at a definite example, if we take 1 cubic metre of air at 1 atmosphere pressure and 20C and compress it to 10 atmospheres pressure, its temperature will increase very considerably - to 293C.  If we want to store this compressed air at 10 atmospheres pressure and 20C, then more compression will be needed as we cool the gas, or its pressure will drop as its temperature does.  The total work done on the gas, and the total heat lost are both about 91.7 Watt-hours (Wh).  (This assumes that the air is an ideal diatomic gas.) This gas would now have a lower entropy than the same amount of uncompressed air.   The entropy change is 796 J/K (Joules per degree Kelvin).  Note the units are energy per degree.  This gives a hint of how the entropy change is related to the work that can in principle [...]

Oil Megaproject Update (July 2008)

Sun, 06 Jul 2008 01:23:22 +0000

Possible future supply capacity scenario for crude oil and NGL based on the Wikipedia Oil Megaproject database. The resource base post-2002 decline rate is a linearly increasing rate from 0% to 4.5% between 2003 and  2008 then constant at 4.5% afterward. The decline rate for each annual addition is 4.5% after first year. [break] Below is the evolution of  the new supply additions since the beginning of the project compiled by year of first oil: December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 May 2008 June 2008 We can clearly see the initial 2008 and 2009 peaks wearing out with time due mainly to delays. Now the situation does not look so good: Possible new gross and net new supply additions compiled by year of first oil. Crude oil + NGL monthly production from the EIA. The resource base post-2002 decline is a linearly increasing rate from 0% to 4.5% between 2003 and  2008 then constant at 4,5% afterward. The decline rate for each annual addition is 4.5% after first year. Below is a possible scenario for future supply assuming a 4.5% decline rate. Possible future supply scenario for crude oil and NGL based on the Wikipedia Oil Megaproject database. The resource base post-2002 decline is a linearly increasing decline rate from 0% to 4.5% between 2003 and  2008 then constant at 4.5% afterward. The decline rate for each annual addition is 4.5% after first year. This scenario seems to agree with this recent statement from Ray Leonard: “By 2010, the production of the fuel that has driven the world’s economy will start to rapidly decline. This will conflict with the steadily increasing demand for oil. The collision of these two trends will lead to shortages and increased prices, providing a strong incentive to shift to alternative fuel resources…Due to unequal distribution through the world of oil and gas supply and consumption, [the upcoming] transition will result in significant shifts in global power and wealth.” Many thanks to Ace who has diligently updated the data and put more than 500 separate contributions. Finally, maintaining this database is a lot of work and it is crucial to track delays, project final approval, etc., so I'd like to repeat our appeal: the more folks in the TOD community head over to the Wikipage and help, the faster we'll know what's really going on here. Related stories: Update on Megaproject Megaproject Help us List Megaprojects [...]

Weekend Energy Listening: Wind Power with Paul Gipe

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 15:00:00 +0000

The World Wind Energy Conference is just around the corner and happens to be in my home town. I was flipping through the conference program and noticed a familiar name pop up quite a lot: Paul Gipe. He's written a number of books on wind power and most recently has become involved in feed-in tariffs for wind power in North America. I spoke to him a while ago about how the industry has developed. To listen to the show, you can either play it in the built in player, or download it directly via the link. or download directly: Wind Power Conversation with Paul Gipe [break] Transcript Disclaimer: This transcript was provided by a 3rd party and may not be 100% accurate. Please refer to the audio as well. Ben : I have spoken a lot on the show about wind power and how it is growing by leaps and bounds. Records for wind power installations are breaking every year now, so worldwide the wind power sector grew by 43% last year. US growth was a little under, Canada’s growth was a little over. Interestingly, India is coming on strong now. They just overtook Denmark for fourth spot in terms of total installed capacity, but nobody can really match Denmark in terms of wind power per capita. Joining me to talk about wind power from California is Paul Gipe. So, thank you so much for coming on the show, Paul. Paul Gipe: Yeah, thank you Ben. Ben : Just as a quick biography, Paul has been around the wind power industry since the 1970s and he has written a number of books and articles, which everybody can find on his website wind He was named Person of the Year in 1988 by the American Wind Energy Association. He was given pioneer status by the World Renewable Energy Congress. Paul, actually you were first described to me as the guy that David Suzuki goes to for wind power answers, so I just have this vision of David Suzuki having you on speed dial, calling you up in the middle of the night to talk about things like capacity factors. Does that ever happen? Paul Gipe: I wish that was true, but no. David and I do talk and we do discuss this issue, but there are lots of wind power experts in the world and I have my own take on how renewable energy is being developed or should be developed. Ben : For today, I am especially interested in, since you have all this experience, I am especially interested in getting some type of historical background of how wind power has been developed since the 1970s up until now. I know that Denmark back then had the state-of-the-art technology and the industry is going through record high oil prices all the way through record low oil prices and now we are again approaching record high oil prices. So, could you walk us through the developments of the wind power sector? Paul Gipe: Well, the development of wind energy has often been connected to the availability, not just the price of oil and when oil has become abundant and very low cost it has set back wind power development a number of times. Wind generation of electricity really began in Denmark around the turn of the century where wind turbines were being developed to produce the direct current for charging batteries at the villages that had not received central station electricity in Denmark and during the war years, the First World War when oil supplies were cut off by the British blockade of Jutland, the Danes again turned to wind power and also as they are entering World War II when the German war machine needed oil, it was consuming all the oil available in the continent. The Danes again turned to wind power for generation of electricity in the villages of the Jutland Peninsula and then in the 1950s and 1960s, we saw a real bloom in the development of wind technology in Germany, in England, and in Denmark and with the abundant supply coming from the big giant, super giant, fields of Saudi Arabia that the bloom was taken off the flowering of wind energy at that period and that technology then lapsed [...]

Predictions for Canada’s Natural Gas Production

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:00:45 +0000

Canadian natural gas is important in a number of ways: It provides 17% of total US NG consumption and today contributes roughly 11% [see calc at bottom] of the energy content in a barrel of tar sands oil (which will only increase with in-situ recovery growth). By no means (conventional or unconventional), can Canada be considered to have lots of natural gas, yet, we produce more than our fair share. Accurately predicting Canadian NG supply is, of course, important for all the usual North American energy security reasons and, among others: It would be nice to know if Canadians will have NG for things other than tar sands and exports to the US. Half of all Canadian homes are heated primarily by natural gas and about 6% of Canada's electricity sector relies on natural gas, a lot of which is used as peak electricity generation. It’s well known that Canadian conventional gas peaked around 2001, but according to a continuing trends prediction case from the National Energy Board, it doesn’t appear as if unconventional gas will be playing a big part, at least compared against 2001 peak production levels. Below I summarize some predictions for future production of Canadian natural gas and try to estimate how much of Canada's natural gas will be left over for regular Canadian citizens. [break] Here is the EIA’s take on Canadian natural gas: In 2004, Canada provided 85 percent of gross U.S. imports of natural gas. Although Canada’s unconventional and Arctic production both are expected to increase over the projection period, and LNG imports into Eastern Canada are expected to begin by the end of the decade, those supply increases are not expected to be sufficient to offset a decline in conventional production in Canada’s largest producing basin, the Western Sedimentary Basin. Gross U.S. imports of LNG are projected to exceed gross pipeline imports from Canada after 2015, and Canada’s share of gross U.S. imports is projected to decline to 25 percent in 2030. ... In Canada, natural gas consumption in the residential and commercial sectors is expected to increase steadily at rates of 0.5 and 0.7 percent per year, respectively. Strong growth rates of 2.2 percent per year in Canada’s consumption of natural gas for electricity generation and 2.1 percent per year for industrial uses—including vast quantities of natural gas consumed in the mining of the country’s oil sands deposits—are the main contributors to Canada’s projected consumption growth. In short, Canadian production decreases while consumption increases and LNG imports start while we’re still exporting. From an energy security stand point, this is not good and will be felt over a broad range of industries. Canada will become a net natural gas importer, which will require new LNG terminals, some new pipeline connections and maybe even a reversal of the flow of gas from east to west depending on where the LNG will be coming from. As far as Canadian exports to the US go, this is linked to production through NAFTA. NAFTA requires that Canada continue to export about 60% of its gas production to the US, and based on the EIA’s predictions of Canadian NG imports, it seems as if the US will be holding Canada to this clause. How much Canadian gas will be produced? I’ve painstakingly dug up some good historical NG production data for Canada and compiled a small list of predictions from the NEB and EIA. I’ve put all of the data here for the world to enjoy (aside: why oh why don’t my Canadian tax dollars pay for a good centralized service like the EIA for energy stats?). Fig 1. Past natural gas production in Canada (data points), predicted future gas production including unconventional sources, excluding imports (broken lines) and my Hubbert model for gas depletion (solid line). Sources for the historical data are: Stats Canada (two data sets: 1911-1980, 1970-2002 paid service thanks to TOD:C advertising revenue) EIA [...]

Weekend Energy Listening: The H2 Economy vs the Electron Economy

Sat, 31 May 2008 14:45:11 +0000

This week's installment of the podcast is a conversation that I had with Ulf Bossel, organizer of the Lucerne Fuel Cell Forum, one of the biggest scientific fuel cell conferences going. This conference used to flip every year between a focus on low temperature PEM fuel cells and a focus on high temperature solid oxide fuel cells. A couple of conferences ago, the PEM cycle was dropped on "sustainability" grounds and now the conference is flipped between the SOFC program and a general fuel cell program. You can listen to the conversation by clicking play in the built in mp3 player or by downloading the show directly by clicking on the link. A transcript is available for this conversation below the fold. or download the link directly: Ulf Bossel on the H2 economy vs the electron economy (12MB, 35min) Here are some reports that may be of interest as well. [break] The concept of the H2 economy has fizzled from its peak along with many stock options but it still seems to creep up every once in a while. Every car manufacturer has a PEM fuel cell program and occasionally I see an ad on TV promoting a fuel cell car which is "right around the corner". Here's a tricky ad for Honda's fuel cell car that was recently brought to my attention. Now, the technology works, no doubt about it. If you live in the Southern California area, for $600/month you can lease Honda's fuel cell car. Last year I took a test drive in a Ford Focus with a Ballard PEM fuel cell and a compressed H2 tank stuffed into the trunk. They couldn't tell me how much it cost but I was told it was insured for $250,000. Also no mention of the lifetime, but the last person I spoke to about this who works in the business (it was a Japanese maker) tells me that they're at the 5 year mark before problems arise and the target is to double that. I have confidence that they'll be able to double it, just like they've been able to fix the sub zero freezing start issue. The problem with the H2 economy isn't in the technology, it's in the thermodynamics when compared against battery cars (note, batteries do have their own problems). Making H2 is extremely hard to justify when you can keep electricity on the grid and charge up a battery instead. This isn't to say that H2 as a fuel is a goner all together, it just means it will have a much smaller impact than previously thought. It's the so called hydrogen economy which is a goner, and the market knows it. This smaller impact is largely reflective of the correction in Ballard's stock price that happened about 8 years ago now when they first decided to investigate PEM fuel cells for stationary power generation, a much smaller market than the transportation sector. Transcript Disclaimer: This transcript was provided by a 3rd party and may not be 100% accurate. Please refer to the audio as well. Ben : Joining me from Lucerne, Switzerland is Dr. Ulf Bossel who is the organizer of the European Fuel Cell Forum in Lucerne, which for me at least is one of the conferences to go to, although Switzerland's Big Macs are a little more expensive than they are in Canada. Ulf has been around fuel cells and renewable energy for a long time now, but Ulf, I think, one of your best credentials is that your great, great grandfather back in the 1830s, Christian Friedrich Schoenbein, was the first to figure out how fuel cells work. Ulf Bossel: Yes, he is the discoverer of the fuel cell effect. Ben : So, fuel cells obviously run in your blood. Ulf Bossel: Because of genes. Ben : In your genes, yes. Ulf Bossel: Fuel cell genes. Ben : I have one of your books that you wrote about the history of fuel cells and it was dedicated to your great, great grandfather. So, thanks for coming on the show by the way. It is great to have you. Ulf Bossel: Oh, thank you. Ben : So, the topic… Ulf Bossel: It's a pleasure to have a show across the Atlantic. Ben :[...]

The Round-Up: May 26, 2008

Mon, 26 May 2008 14:19:13 +0000

Oil shock: China and Mexico, not Exxon, stupid

Prices are soaring, in part, because oil is denominated in U.S. dollars and the dollar declines, thanks to Washington’s overspending on wars, trade, subsidies and government budgets. Investors have also abandoned credit markets, since the meltdown due to subprime scandals in August, and put their money into solid, real assets instead. But the biggest reason prices have been soaring is that investors are now understanding the future supply and demand reality.

CITIC Resources Announces Oil Discovery in Oseil Oilfield, Indonesia

CITIC Resources Holdings Limited announces the discovery of the Lower Nief and Manusela carbonate oil reservoirs at the Nief Utara A-1 drilling well located at Seram Island in Indonesia. Lower Nief oil reservoir is the first discovery in the region. The Original Oil in Place (OOIP) of the Nief Utara A-1 drilling well is over 60 million barrels. Thus, the current total Original Oil in Place exceeds 123.6 million barrels.

Oil rises towards US$133 on Monday

Oil rose towards US$133 a barrel on Monday, extending the previous session's gains on a supply outage at the Statfjord oilfield in the North Sea and a weak U.S. dollar.

StatoilHydro upgrader delayed

Blaming rising construction costs and policy uncertainty, StatoilHydro ASA, Norway's state-owned oil giant, is delaying by two years the startup of its oilsands upgrader near Edmonton, joining at least three other oilsands developers that are facing or recently announced delays in their oilsands strategies.

If Alberta can't thrive with this record oil, nobody can

Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets Corp., is among the country's most-respected economists, producing extensive analysis and research on all facets of the economy, investment and markets. Several years ago Porter distinguished himself by discovering a flaw in Statistics Canada's Consumer Price Index, arguably the most respected measure of consumer inflation in the world.

Oil price to average $115 this year: UBS

UBS AG knocked its oil forecasts higher Friday and it projected Canada's energy-heavy S&P/TSX Composite Index could climb all the way to 16,400 in the next 12 months.

The Switzerland-based parent of investment firm UBS Securities Canada Ltd. became the latest global financial player to revise oil projections in the wake of crude's surprising rally to record heights. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate will average $115 US a barrel this year, $120 US in 2009 and $116 US in 2010, UBS said. It marks increases from UBS's previous projection of 32 per cent, 54 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.

Weekend Energy Listening: Ethanol's Energy Balance with Tad Patzek

Sun, 25 May 2008 14:00:34 +0000

For a bit of weekend energy listening, here's a conversation that I had with Tad Patzek (who should need no introduction around here), talking about ethanol's energy balance. This was recorded 2 years ago now, but it still remains quite timely today. You can listen to the mp3 either by downloading the link or clicking play in the built in audio player. or download mp3: Conversation with Tad Patzek (52min, 21MB) A long transcript of this conversation is available below the fold. This discussion is especially relevant in Canada now because of Bill C-33 which amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and is supposed to be debated in the House of Commons around May 28th, 2008: Amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 proposed in this bill allow the federal government to implement regulations requiring 5% average renewable content in gasoline by 2010. Subsequent regulations will also require 2% average renewable content in diesel and heating oil by 2012 on successful demonstration of renewable diesel fuel use under the range of Canadian environmental conditions. [break] Here are some links that I mention in the mp3: Thermodynamics of the corn-ethanol biofuel cycle, Tad W. Patzek, Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 23(6), 519-567, 2004 and The Real Biofuel Cycles Transcript Disclaimer: This conversation was transcribed by a third party and may not be 100% accurate. Ben: Tad Patzek joins me over Skype to talk about the very important issue of the ethanol energy balance. Tad is a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley and he is well known in the bio-fuels industry because he offers the viewpoints that ethanol and in particular ethanol from corn requires more fossil fuel energy to make than the energy that ethanol offers us in return by burning it and using it to fuel our cars. So, one pretty big consequence of this is that ethanol made from corn produces more CO2 than gasoline does. So Tad, thanks so much for taking the time to come on the show and talk to me today. Tad Patzek: Thank you for having me. Ben: The first thing that I want to do is direct everybody or all the listeners to your website so that they can read your reports, titled Thermodynamics of the Corn Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, because that goes into some pretty good detail about what is included in energy balances and what your reasoning was to include or exclude some things from the energy balance. So everybody listening, please I put up a link from website so that you can read through Tad’s documents and I especially like the idea of having a document like that, which is continuously refined. Are those refinements based on reader comments, Tad? Tad Patzek: Yes. I got a feedback from several people and I accounted for them but also some of them reflect my changing in thinking, for example, switching from the low heating value to the high heating value of fuels reflects the point of view that if you want to look at sustainability of an energy scheme, you want to account for the most you can get out of this regardless of how much you get in a given implementation, so that is just one example. The second example that was a big discussion about how much energy goes into steel making process, so I have added [02:19 unintelligible] on that and so it goes on, but I stopped updating this document. I think the version that is on the web was stopped in February. I wrote now a simpler and shorter document which is called The Real Biofuel Cycles, which is also on the web on my website and it does not go into the second law of thermodynamics which probably is sort of discouraging for some of the readers, although it makes most sense to use it. So, in the second document I just used the first law of thermodynamics,[...]

Canada as an energy superpower

Thu, 22 May 2008 16:00:09 +0000

Ed note from PG: I am happy to announce that TOD:C is up and running again (and I believe overdue thanks are in order to Stoneleigh and Ilargi, now over at The Automatic Earth, for their efforts here). One of the new editors is benk (and I believe you already know Khebab!). Ben is completing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in Canada. His research focuses on the fine details of solid oxide fuel cells, dealing with ceramics and long equations. He attributes his initial interest in energy to the documentary "The End of Suburbia," which he first saw about 4 years ago. Since then he has felt a duty to get the good word out. Ben has been the host of theWatt Podcast talking about various energy issues, a capacity we are exploring bringing the TOD. Welcome Ben! To get TOD Canada rolling again, I've written a refresher on Canada's energy situation. Canada can't be ignored when it comes to energy. We are a land of plenty. Lots of land, lots of weather, lots of consumption, lots of production. Plenty can easily become scarce though and it has to be managed, and managed well. Management of our resources will be Canada's challenge in the years ahead. Unmanaged, Canada's energy consumption is close to the highest in the world and stands at 350 GJ/person, slightly more than in the U.S. and Canada's energy intensity is the worst in the G7 at 10.6 MJ per unit GDP. [break] It's wrong to average Canada's energy situation though. Even neighboring provinces have vastly different stances: British Columbia has implemented North America's first consumer based carbon tax and is joining the Western Climate Initiative's cap-and-trade system while Alberta's Premier is still talking about bird kills by wind turbines. On the East Coast, New Brunswick has the largest Canadian refinery (288,400 bpd capacity) producing 45% of all U.S. reformulated gasoline imports, is building a new LNG terminal and has plans to become an energy hub for the Eastern U.S. by building a second 300,000 bpd refinery and a second nuclear reactor, both to be used exclusively for export to the US. Energy exports are a huge part of Canada's economy, accounting for 20% ($90 billion) of Canada's total exports in 2007. From the federal perspective, Canada's government has publicly stated that they are positioning Canada as a "reliable energy superpower". This is the closest we have to a national energy policy. The wording here is important: By definition, energy superpower implies at least two things: 1) multiple customers 2) willingness to use energy supply as a negotiation tactic. As far as energy superpowers are concerned, Canada still has a long way to go. Multiple customers are difficult to come by for a country with a single border. As far as "reliable energy superpowers" are concernerd, I recon Canada's just about there, we have no choice but to be reliable. That being said, Canada is slowly gaining courage with respect to criteria #2 of an energy superpower: Our trade minister, David Emerson, recently suggested that he's willing to use the energy card after Hilary Clinton's and Barack Obama's talk of renegotiating NAFTA, Emerson let this out: "Knowledgeable observers would have to take note of the fact that we are the largest supplier of energy to the U.S. and NAFTA has been the foundation for integrating the North American energy market," said Emerson. So, what can Canada offer? Canada's credentials: Having energy resources isn't enough to be an energy superpower. Those resources have to be exported. The National Energy Board just released the Canadian Energy Overview 2007. From that document, I've put together a graph of Canada's average 2007 energy exports to the US: Note: Here I assume all types of oil to have the same energy content Even 30 TWh/year of electricity can be significant to small parts of North Ea[...]