Review of the energy expo

I showed up at the IRenew Energy Expo 2006 at around 8:45 or so. The main reason I came to this was to hear Steve Andrews speak about Peak Oil as the keynote speaker at 1:00 on Saturday, but there were some other workshops that interested me as well.

I attended 3 workshops that I’m going to just mention I attended them so I can save space for the 2 that held some merit. I attended Me and Mother Earth, Energy Efficient Strategies and Financing your RE investment.

I went to a solar hot water heating workshop next. This workshop at least mildly covered its intended topic. (I won’t address whether or not the speaker did a very good job of conducting the workshop) The speaker started with some discussion about how much money he had saved using solar hot water heating since 1977. It has been quite substantial and was enough to pay for his system 4 times over. He explained that he now has expanded his system so that he also heats up his domestic hot water for his hot water heating (a darn good idea) so that he barely uses any natural gas in the winter to heat his house or to heat up his water.
He then went on to explain how the solar water heater works and how it would be schematically laid out in a house. I thought this was great because while I had a picture in my mind I wasn’t sure if it was completely accurate or not. At this point our hour was up. I had a few problems with his presentation though.

He basically poo poo’d anyone doing anything other than a complete hot water system that relied on antifreeze to heat up water in a completely separate water heater from the main water heater. These are commonly referred to as “Drain down” systems. These systems range from $3,000 to $5,000. He wasn’t interested in Thermosyphic systems or batch systems, both of which are considerably cheaper and still pretty darn efficient. He didn’t think that they were good options as they were mostly warm weather choices. I figure, who cares? If they work most of the time and your cost invested it less than you can still get an acceptable payback. If you are trying this for the first time and just want to test it before you really sink a bunch of capital into it I think these options are perfectly acceptable. Besides, some people use these as their only systems and are quite pleased with them. Why is the most technological way always the preferred way in America? Well, that doesn’t work for me. I don’t just go along with what people tell me. I have to understand all the other options before I’ll make a decision about what other things to do. That kind of turned me off to this guy and I wasn’t sad when the workshop was over.

During lunch I walked around and looked at a few things. They had a lot of biodiesel exhibits set up, along with some information about other local places you can work with for your renewable energy needs. I was interested in the solar oven so I spent some time talk to the gentleman about that. I’ve spent a lot of time researching these ovens online so it was nice to see them up close and personal. Good use of technology to free people from the demands and expense of fossil fuel based cooking. I’ll probably get one of these someday.

The real reason I was there was for the key note speaker, Steve Andrews from ASPO-USA. Unfortunately they only gave him an hour to talk because he could have held the floor for at least 3 or 4 in my book. I’m just going to give a few highlights that I scribbled down from his speech.

He started off discussing Natural Gas and the peak in Natural Gas. He mentioned that it experienced its first peak in 1973 and its second peak in 2000 and has been declining since, even though there are 3X as many NG wells now as there were in 1973. He talked about how the government put out statistics in the early 90s about how NG production was going to steadily increase by about 15% from then to now, when in actuality it was decreased by 4%, even accounting for the run up to 2000 for the peak. (This is why all the utilities built NG plants. They had bad data from our own government.)

In the battle for our declining NG supplies the fertilizer companies have lost out and they’ve bad to shift production overseas to be closer to the supplies. Right now we have enough NG to feed our power plants and fuel our needs for home heating. As it continues to decline which one will start to be used less?

After that he talked about the new Jack 2 well that was found in the Gulf and how it would only supply America for 21 months if it really did have 15Billion barrels in it and they were able to extract every single ounce of it. If you have read any Peak Oil information you already knew this information. These new discoveries aren’t the answer folks.

After these two topics he spent his time discussing Peak Oil. He had a ton of great graphs; I wish I could have captured some for here.

Did you know that Exxon Mobile is the 11th largest oil company in the world? Yes, 11th. The Saudi company (nationalized) is the largest at 11.0 million barrels per day, followed by the Iranian Company at 6.0 million barrels per day. Exxon Mobile pumps 2.5 million barrels per day. Yes, Exxon Mobil is basically 25% as large as the Saudi company.

Can you figure out now why those people in the Middle East have so much money now?

He stated that the US uses 21 mmb of oil per day, 14 mmb of that in transportation and 9.5mmb of that makes gasoline.

The last chart he gave us that I wanted to share was his projections of where we will get our “oil” from in 2015. By this I mean all the means other than actually buying barrels of oil. So if you think some of these great technologies will be our savior, here are the hard numbers.

Efficiency increases: 1.5-3.0 mmb
Oil Sands: 1.0-2.0 mmb
Gas to liquids .5-.75 mmb


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