How much energy will a Fossil Free society need?

Interesting discussions I have these days. Where climate change deniers usually just ignore the question of energy security (Big Oil will deliver) pro-nuclear folks acknowledge the climate issue and the scale of the needed transformation. That makes them good discussion partners.

Pro-Nuclear points out that if every kWH of energy used today needs to come from alternatives, “the renewables” are going to be highly inadequate and only nuclear can deliver the required base load. This is where the subject of this blogpost comes from. I want to show that a Fossil Free economy needs massively less energy, that can be supplied by the Renewables.

The point is that the Fossil economy is exactly that: an economy running on Fossil Fuels so it’s no wonder it uses a lot of energy. But what if we think of a fossil free society, what chunks of energy will just drop out of the equation?
I don’t have figures (yet) so it’s going to be quantitatively at this moment, if you do have figure please share them with me.

Fossil Mining requires massive amounts of energy, in drilling, blasting, digging, breaking, transporting cleaning and refining. In a FossilFree society the activity ceases to exist. As resources become ever less in quality the energy per unit of product will soar, even to the point where energy out < energy in (only sustainable by accruing debt)

Transport of energy sources
Transporting all the fossil fuels uses a lot of energy : truck diesel, train diesel, pipeline pumps….no longer needed

Fossil mining and transport industry
Coal diggers, mega trucks, oil tankers, storage tanks, pipelines, deep sea platforms, off shore helicopters, tugboats … Not needed anymore… We will need fewer Iron Works, steel factories, machine factories, maintenance crews, security groups,

Energy infrastructure
All the above are hard at work to feed these: the coal plants and oil refineries. No more coal harbors, compression stations, oil refineries. The highly inefficient coal plants and gas stations (turning 50% of the embedded energy into waste heat) can shut down.

By now we must have saved absolutely massive amounts of “energy”, but it gets better

Food production
The world on Fossil Fuels, Monsanto and Unilever is supposed to eat processed foods and minced cows. The embedded energy in a hamburger is absolutely horrifying : the industrial wheat, transported across the globe and made into highly refined flour for the buns, the cows eating fossil fuel created corn that came half way round the world. The whole processing and packaging, freezing and storage industry….. Waste, waste, waste to,create empty calories that turns your body in a hunger machine : waste food in, more hungry feelings within an hour, fat stored in your body. A fossil free society will eat locally produced real food.

Global transport (sea and air)
$0,25 garbage toys from Shanghai thrown away broken after 10 minutes, brought into first world harbors by the container load. It will stop. It has no value. Flying on tax free kerosine? A memory of the past. Tickets that have all embedded social costs calculated into them? Unaffordable. Flying as we know it will stop. Massive amounts of energy saved again.

Civilian transport
Walkable neighbourhoods, Cities with integrated work/living areas, transport by cycles, e-bikes, EV’s, hybrid busses, light rail. Obscene amounts of energy to be saved here

Urban transport
Last mile transport with electric vehicles, absolute nobrainer.

Household appliances
PassivHaus, Heatpumps, LED-lighting, hotfill washing machines and dishwashers, OLED-TV’s, 5V central charger with house wide distribution: saving possibilities by the shipload

Electricity production
After we’ve created our Fossil Free society we will need some power to keep it going. With all the aluminum smelters and refineries gone we will need energy mostly for households. We make is with wind, solar, biogas, algae diesel, molecular heat storage, hydro, reverse osmosis, tidal and what makes sense locally. The massive amount of EV’s will buffer and redistribute all this abundant energy so that the lights stay on at night and in the winter.

I’ve fired all the rednecks and oil tanker captains, what are they going to do?

New industries
Electricity generation
Wind farms, Solar PV farms, CSP farms, biomass production……loads of jobs here.

Electricity storage
We need bio plant operators and workers to create algae diesel, power2gas, elephant grass, cannabis fibers. We need lots and lots of hands there to maintain these systems.

Local food
People will quickly adopt to Grasshoppers (chocolate dipped or plain) and fish. The energy per Calorie is orders of magnitude lower than Fossil Meat. Towns will be full of mixed agricultural activity with chicken and pigs, rooftop agriculture.

Repair/Circular economy
Things break, but because in a FF-society we make repairable goods we get a whole, refurbishment industry. Lots of work for creative people. Having a circular economy will keep the energy embedded in products in the system in stead of dumping it in a landfill after initial use.

Community services
Because we no longer are relying on Big Banks supported HealthIndustry to “cure” sick people created my Monsanto, McDonalds and Unilever we can have community based health centers where broken bones are healed and I’ll people are cared for regardless of income or social position.

So the point I’m trying to make is that Nuclear may not be that necessary in a society that said goodbye to Chevron and Shell, maybe we can even do without it as the great yellow fusion reactor gives us way more than we can ever use. Just capture, store en distribute.

….And we live happily ever after and tell our children horror stories of the a black world where people believed they needed Hummers to drive 50 miles to Malls to buy new plastic dolls each and every Christmass and eat boxes of Chocolate coated corn flakes jus to be happy.



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