from an ‘Oil Drum’ thread – I liked it:

JonFreise on January 14, 2011 – 2:39pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

But in a free society, solutions are eventually found. (Simon 1996)

This is the leap of faith Simon asks us to take. This is a statement of religion, not science. And natural scientists and engineers have every reason to be skeptical. For a simple example: There was an attempt to convert from scarce copper wire to aluminum. After many homes burned down cities realized that was not a simple substitution and now it is illegal.

Oil, refined into fuel, has such wonderful properties (high energy density, liquid, low toxicity, etc) that trying to substitute any competitors will be very difficult.

Check out this graph of fuels:

from Energy Transitions Past and Future

Just trace for a moment the human economic history: Energy density of wood replaced by coal. Energy density of coal replaced by diesel. Now trace down to the energy density of batteries. 200 years of transportation innovation largely undone. Thus we reach the end of jumbo jet air craft and high speed cargo freighters.

George already did a great job of talking about EROeI in his post. Our society has tried, but not yet produced energy sources that are lower in cost than fossil fuels. And the net energy of our energy sources determines the size, growth rate, and complexity of our society. Yet among many, the faith continues. Any day now, an energy source will be invented that is better than anything that has gone before. Any day now….

The faith proves… false.

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