2011 October 3

The Master Resrource Report  2011-09-30

More on dear Mr. Yergin    (page 1 ) 

Shale gas and trucking policy.    (page 2 ) 

Good news for global oil and LNG supplies.   (page 3 )

What is a Cargohopper?   (page 4 )

Dept. of Energy Report.

The U.S. Department of Energy just released its “Report on the First Quadrennial Technology Review” (large PDF) this month. For a taste of what it contains take a look at the excerpt that discusses the scale of the U.S. energy system and the energy flow chart representing the U.S. energy system.


Trillions of dollars of capital are embodied in the infrastructure to generate, distribute, and use energy, for example: ~$2.4 trillion in generating assets, ~$100 billion in high-voltage transmission, and ~$2.3 trillion for light-duty vehicles. Great quantities of fuels are moved and consumed each year: 1 billion tons of coal, 7 billion barrels of petroleum, and 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (which is 50% larger than the volume of Lake Erie)—fuels collectively valued at some $600 billion per year. Currently, there are nearly 10,000 square miles of residential and commercial buildings (about the size of the State of Vermont) that must be lighted, heated, and cooled. New energy technologies must be deployed at such scales if they are to have an impact on national energy challenges.[Emphasis added]

The most striking thing about this chart is the “Rejected Energy” (light grey). Simply put that is waste and it comes to 60% of the primary energy that enter the flow chart on the left side. The report indicated that 30 Quads (nearly 1/3 of the approx. 95 Quads) could be recovered by 2030 by implementing efficiency technologies available today. What is amazing is that in nearly every case this is some of the cheapest energy available but for some reason it is the least pursued. Why?

Cick image for larger view.

This could be value added for geothermal power.

What if you could extract lithium, manganese and zinc from the brine that is a byproduct of power generation using geothermal energy? Carbon free power with value added supply of some of the key metals required in other sectors of the alternative energy market. This week Simbol Materials released information on just such a process at a demonstration facility near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley, California.

The addition of this value stream to geothermal power generation could potentially further lower this clean energy’s cost in the future. It may also open up new geologic areas for development of geothermal power as the metal recovery figures into the economics.

While there currently is no supply issue concerning lithium for battery manufacture any additional supply should help lower lithium prices and translate in lower battery prices.

Of course like any new technology the question of scale and price will ultimately determine success.

This may be as much about politics as energy.

It was reported by Reuters this week that ExxonMobil is beginning hydraulic fracturing on a second shale gas well in Poland. For Exxon and its partners this is about developing a natural gas supply. For political leaders in Europe it is about unlocking the shackles of depending on Russian gas and the political issues that come with that dependency.