April 29, 2008

The New Joke Going Around

A: We're really addicted to oil.

B: How addicted are we?

A: So addicted, even our alternative energy sources depend on it:
In the comment section of theoildrums coverage of the Grangemouth refinery shutdown, we find that a diesel shortage has caused construction to stop on a $300 million wind farm.


A wind-farm construction project brought to a standstill because of a lack of fossil fuel.
Read the whole post. As the author notes, transitioning away from fossil fuels means not just finding alternatives, but doing so intelligently:
A great concern of mine is the likelihood of falling into the "Tragedy of the Energy Investing Commons". As the energy crisis deepens, more money, expertise and resources will be thrown at any energy alternative that produces energy, irrespective of its quality, density, energy surplus or environmental impacts. Many of these technologies will be dead ends (energy sinks). Many will produce some energy. Some will procure new forms of energy valuable to future society, and at meaningful scale. However, all will drain resources, both liquid fuels and non-energy inputs away from non-energy society. If their energy contributions are marginal, or of differing quality than we depend on, this will accelerate the usage of our remaining high quality fossil stocks. If our energy consumption was well-diversified, and/or redundant, a shortage in diesel would not lead to problems with wind turbine construction.
Thinking about how to develop a really truly diversified energy regime is going to be a hard problem, not least because we're so used to having not just the energy punch of petroleum, but its portability as well. If our alternatives to oil (biodiesel, say) are subject to more constraints than we're used to, folks aren't going to be happy.

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