[Marxism] Re Peak Oil

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sat Oct 15 16:52:23 MDT 2005

David Walters wrote:

> There are three issues:
> 1. How much oil/Fossil fuel is there actually left?
> 3. The 800lbs gorilla in the room: nuclear power.

there is a study of nuclear energy future by some engineers at MIT, out 
in 2003:


it's a large download (approx 25 MB, so buyer beware). but some points 
it makes:

o based on a theoretical scenario of one thousand to fifteen hundred new 
1000 MWe reactors world-wide built over the next 50 years:

    This scenario would displace a significant amount of carbon-
    emitting fossil fuel generation. In 2002, carbon equivalent
    emission from human activity was about 6,500 million
    tonnes per year; these emissions will probably more than
    double by 2050. The 1000 GWe of nuclear power postulated
    here would avoid annually about 800 million tonnes of carbon
    equivalent if the electricity generation displaced was
    gas-fired and 1,800 million tonnes if the generation was
    coal-fired, assuming no capture and sequestration of carbon
    dioxide from combustion sources.

so best case is a 1800/6500  --> 28% reduction in C emissions based on 
2002 emission rates, but we wouldnt see these types of reductions for a 
minimum of 10 years and i would suspect more towards 30-50 years, 
depending on who owns the means of production.

o on U fuel supplies:

    Closed fuel cycles extend fuel supplies. The viability of the
    alternative in a global growth scenario depends upon the amount of
    resource that is available at economically attractive prices. We
    believe that the
    world-wide supply of uranium ore is sufficient to fuel the
    deployment of 1000
    reactors over the next half century and to maintain this level of
    over a 40 year lifetime of this fleet. This is an important
    foundation of our
    study, based upon currently available information and the history of
    resource supply.

o this last point however is partially contradicted by another study, 
published in Physics Today, July 2004:

    Nuclear energy. Uranium fission plants in the US are presently
    supplying less than 8% of our total energy demand. Were the current
    nuclear technology expanded to provide the electricity now supplied
    by coal (about 23 Q), the estimated US uranium resources [2] would
    be exhausted in about 35−58 years—less than a human lifespan.


les schaffer

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