Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Steven Chu’s Energy Miscalculations

* Chu conflates oil & natural gas in Figure 1. Since gas production will peak later than oil does, he concludes we have between 10 and 40 years to solve our fossil fuel resource problems. Nobody knows when natural gas will peak, but a commonly held view puts the world’s maximum production in the 2020’s.
* Chu believes that efficient use can delay peak oil and gas production (taken together) by roughly a factor of 2, so he doubles the solution time. As Mark Hertsgaard reported in The Nation on December 16th, 2008, Chu assumes we have 20 to 80 years before oil & natural gas shortfalls cause problems.

Chu’s optimistic calculations also explain his curious lack of knowledge and concern about the oil (and natural gas) markets. As the nation’s chief energy scientist, he looks only at the very long term. He does not concern himself with what may happen 5, 10 or even 15 years from now. Chu wants to sponsor nifty, cutting-edge science. He does not want to engage in the thankless, difficult work of finding practical ways to reduce America’s oil consumption.

NVDL: Seems like this guy has bitten off more than he can Chu.
clipped from www.aspousa.org

Dr. Steven Chu, our new Secretary of Energy, won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997 for his research in cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. Not only is Chu a very smart guy, he’s also a considerable improvement over Samuel Bodman and others in the Bush administration who did virtually nothing to address America’s energy future.

“But I should also say, Senator, as you well know, the reserves of the United States are approximately 3 percent of the world’s reserve, and the numbers from 2005 suggest that something like five percent of the world production of oil comes from the the United States. So while it is important to fold into this the continued development of oil and gas resources one should also recognize those numbers. The more efficient use of energy in United States is the one factor that can most decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”

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