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07 May 2013


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So much for all that investment to get at those rare earth elements available in Afghanistan. (Though we will eventually do something along this line.)

Babak Makkinejad

Reminds me of an old Cold War joke:

-East German Professor: And by 19XX we shall have arrived on the Moon.

-Student: Herr Doktor, when can we arrive in Vienna?


Asteroid mining? Who would have thought, beyond Larry Niven and a host of other SF writers?



We're here for you. what's wrong? pl


I imagine such a monograph was written in the 1860s regarding mining the sea.


I should live to see.


My problem with the Forbes suggestion is quite simple:

We have already working systems like wind turbines or PV modules that have the potential to provide 100% of the global demand while only consumimg a tiny percentage of the surface of mother earth. PV and wind turbines have a acceptable or even excellent energy return and do not require critical resources.

Everything that requires the transport of larger amounts of mass into space has from a purely physical point of view a very low EROEI. Therefore, the scientist in me would like to see an estimate for the energetical amortisation.

Babak Makkinejad

I believe you to be mistaken about the feasibility of Photo-Voltaics; they are economical only when they are as cheap as concrete.

I think Wind Turbines also are useful for narrow applications. Will not do for energy consumption of the planet.

I think natural gas is much more practicable, versatile, and plentfiul.

Charles I

As would all the starving people under a Virgin Galactic flightpath once its up and running. The estimates you seek are the sunk costs of human imagination and the freedom of accumulated private capital and adventurous weilders of them r

Robert Ballard would say never mind the EROEI,lets finish exploring inner space first - but he's no Heinlein or Branson.

Solar energy will not be a practical means to provide the portable mileage we demand for our lifestyles until photovoltaic paint can be simply applied and switched on - even then, battery storage and potential will never equal the consumer EROI one can get from a gallon of gas.


Sorry, that is nonsense. For private consumer and small industry the price you have to beat is set by the utility, in most European countries in the 20-30 Cent/kWh range. Therefore, I have no problem to produce electricity which I can consume for a lower price by PV, here in Austria around 13 cent/kWh.

Onshore wind is in most European countries already cheaper than NG, NG has lost 14% of its share of electricity production in Germany last year, half to coal, half to renewables.


The point is, crude is quite limited and affected by a high depletion rate, shale oil is only a small peak in this developement, it is a save bet, that the Bakken will peak around 2017-20 an then show a shark fin curve. :-)

Do you really think BAU is possible? Transport wates 2/3 of the energy as heat, nothing you can afford in the long run (~30 years). 50-90% of the cars can easily be substitudet with EV or plug-in hybrids fed with electricity from PV, wind or nuclear power plants.


Neither PV Or wind provide reliable base load generation.


"50-90% of the cars can easily be substitudet with EV or plug-in hybrids fed with electricity from PV, wind or nuclear power plants. "

Just a few quesitons: what manufacturing plants are going to be making all those electric motors for the tens of millions of vehicles on the road already? What are you going to do to all those millions of gas and deisel engines you're going to replace?

Who's paying for all of this?

Babak Makkinejad

Sorry but I have to disagree; the prices includes subsidies to renewables as well as taxes on non-renewables.

Babak Makkinejad

We have pleanty of crude that we wish to sell to EU countries.

Lift sanctions and watch the price drop.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, to that must be added the sunk cost of fuel stations etc.

The cheapest electric car in $ 50,000 - with a range that is useless in large countries.


Asteroid Mining is just another name for holding the high ground. Throw rocks at them takes on a fine new meaning when the rocks are travelling 10K mph ... I think one of those just missed Chelyabinsk in February.

Clifford Kiracofe

IMO Tesla was right and there are energy forces out there which remain to be harnessed.

For exaple, there has been massive solar activity recently so why can not we find a way to harness various forms of cosmic radiation?

Hydrocarbons are so yesterday...

SAC Brat

I'm partial to Armenian Radio jokes: This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us: “Why is our government not in a hurry to land our men on the moon?” We're answering: “What if they refuse to return?

Babak Makkinejad

The cosmic radiation - cosmic rays - consist of very energetic massive particles such as protons; there is not simple mechanism that could interact with these particles and convert their kinetic energy to electricity - there is no natural or man-made material that could do that.

Solar radiation, in principle, can be captured in High Earth Orbit with very very large solar arrays. The current could then be converted to microwaves and beaned back to Earth and converted into electricity - reverse antenna process.

Outside of the economic and technological challenges of such an engineering system, such a system - potentially - is a weapons platform in space - a Death Star.

That is, by varying the intensity and frequency of the radiation beamed from the solar array, entire cities can be fried.

I think buying crude from OPEC and other oil producers is more prudent; they are not going to shoot their crude at you and try to drown you in their crude.


The 'sunk' costs are just that - sunk. They shouldn't be considered in the future decision; however the cleanup or modification of fuel stations should. True, electric vehicles have such a limited range to not be too useful outside of urban driving.

Charles I

Accepting all your crude factors, my point is that anybody wth any disposable income is going to ahng onto gas until its gone, and they will be thinking sunk costs, not of the enormous task of switching from a hydrocarbon economy.

We can be led to war, consumerism, but not to group long term strategic rationality.

Babak Makkinejad

There is a wonderful invention that is called the Internal Combustion Engine that has made all the difference in the world - almost as much as electrical machinery.

That engine would still be with us even if all petroleum in the world is consumed.

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