Mudcat Café message #4018612 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166886   Message #4018612
Posted By: Raedwulf
12-Nov-19 - 06:43 AM
Thread Name: BS: nuclear fusion
Subject: RE: BS: nuclear fusion
Indeed, Steve. I burn wood myself, for preference. Not only can I put the ash in the compost bin (too much sulphur in coal ash), it's carbon neutral in the sense that any CO2 generated is releasing carbon that is already IN the current ecological cycle, rather than having been locked away for millions of years. On top of which, at least one of the local suppliers reckons he tries to plant two trees for every one he fells, not least to ensure he still has work in 20 years time! ;-)

Whilst we won't necessarily run out of fossil fuel any time soon (I'm not up to date with current estimates & can't be bothered to go looking, to be honest), the point is our energy demands are ever-increasing & we are well into our most accessible stocks. As with the rare-earths, it's a question of economics. No-one is going to spend $100 getting a barrel of oil out of the ground if they can do it for $10, but once you run out of $10 oil... So not only does the demand for energy grow, the cost of fossil fuels has been increasing for years. If the proportion of energy generation doesn't alter significantly, it's not inconceivable that the British coal industry might see a revival. We've no deep mines any more (the last closed in '15, I believe), and although we've still a number of open cast mines (mostly in Scotland, apparently), they only produce about a quarter of the 18M-odd tonnes we currently use in the UK (about a tenth of peak usage). But if the cost of producing coal keeps rising... And ours, like our oil is comparatively high quality i.e. energy dense, too.

We now, I believe, import most of our natural gas, which (again, I believe) accounts for the largest percentage of our energy generations. Our North Sea oilfields are starting to run down (again, don't know the current estimates), though that's, yet again, the more cheaply extracted stuff; there may well be more 'expensive' deposits still down there. So we really do need to do something significant to change the way we generate energy (electricity, primarily), given that demand is going to do nothing other than grow & grow & grow. Economics demands that we do so, even if one doesn't give a crap about environmental concerns (which, like you, I do!).

As I said in my first post here, you can view human history in terms of energy thresholds - Personal, Fire, Domestication, Fossil Fuel. Fusion is the biggie, I think - crack that one & I can't imagine how the world will subsequently look in a century, given the rate of change of technology thing!