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The Landscape of Energy

The Landscape of Energy

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Overview of the current energy landscape, including conventional, offshore and unconventional oil, natural gas, shale gas, coal, nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, biomass electricity, industrial wind, solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar thermal, refineries, pipelines and transport, hydrogen, micropower and emerging energy technologies.
Overview of the current energy landscape, including conventional, offshore and unconventional oil, natural gas, shale gas, coal, nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, biomass electricity, industrial wind, solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar thermal, refineries, pipelines and transport, hydrogen, micropower and emerging energy technologies.

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Published by: Post Carbon Institute on Jan 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/30/2014

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THELANDSCAPEOF ENERGY
 
This publication is an excerpted chapter rom
The Energy Reader: Overdevelopment and the Delusion o Endless Growth
, Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner,eds. (Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2012).
The Energy Reader 
is copyright© 2012 by the Foundation or Deep Ecology, and published in collaboration withWatershed Media and Post Carbon Institute.For other excerpts, permission to reprint, and purchasing visit energy-reality.org or contact Post Carbon Institute.Photo: Jim Wark, AirPhotoNA.com
Post Carbon Institute | 613 4th Street, Suite 208 | Santa Rosa, California 95404 USA
 
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1
Introduction,
by David Murphy
David Murphy is an assistant proessor within the Department o Geography and an associate o the Institute or the Studyo the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy at NorthernIllinois University. His research ocuses on the role o energy ineconomic growth, with a specifc ocus on net energy.
T
he next decades will witness a global battlebetween geologic depletion and technologicaladvancement, as modern society demands ever-increas-ing quantities o energy rom an aging ossil uel supplyand a nascent renewable energy sector.The ossil uel industry is already straining to deliver increasing quantities o energy rom geologic reservoirsthat are old and depleting quickly, or rom new onesthat are more energy intensive and expensive to develop.Meanwhile, companies and governments alike are rush-ing to develop renewable energy technologies that cancompete on a cost basis with ossil uels. Renewableenergy optimists believe that once these price barriersare deeated (through technological advancement or market manipulation), both our energy concerns and theenvironmental problems associated with the present-dayenergy industry will be vastly reduced.The outcome o this battle can only be analyzedretrospectively, but as we search or oil under the Arcticice cap and coat the deserts with solar panels, we cananticipate that it will extend across all landscapesthought to be energetically bountiul.One thing is clear: When it comes to energy, there isno ree lunch. It would be oolish to assume that transi-tioning to renewable energy will solve all o our energyand environmental problems. Transitioning to renew-ables will certainly diminish ecological impacts in manyways, but it will also have new—and mostly unknown— consequences. For example, both solar and battery tech-nology in their current iterations depend on rare metalsand other natural resources that are unevenly distrib-uted around the world. A ull-scale switch to renewableenergy may merely supplant one dependency or another.It would be wise to approach our energy uture withtwo related thoughts in mind: rst, the precautionaryprinciple, and second, the law o unintended conse-quences. Using that perspective, this section o the bookreviews the major energy resources and their transpor-tation methods. We consider the current status o eachresource as well as any other major concerns, environ-mental and otherwise, that may exist.O course the energy economy is constantly in fux; theollowing overview o the energy landscape can neces-sarily provide only a snapshot in time. It is intended tooer the reader a oundation o understanding about thecurrent energy mix, building on the “energy literacy”series in part one.
 
When it comes to energy, there is no free lunch.It would be foolish to assume that transitioning to renewableenergy will solve all of our energy and environmentalproblems. Transitioning to renewables will certainlydiminish ecological impacts in many ways, but it willalso have new—and mostly unknown—consequences.A full-scale switch to renewable energy maymerely supplant one dependency for another.

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