free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 118. HUBBERT'S NUCLEAR FUTURE

Thursday, September 29, 2005

118. HUBBERT'S NUCLEAR FUTURE

The following thought-provoking figure was drawn by the godfather of peak oil himself, M. King Hubbert, in his 1956 paper Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels(pdf):



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Some nimwit in the comments is trying to advance the idea that "peak fossil fuels" in the diagram refers to peak oil. Let's put that nonsense to rest. In Figure 29, which precedes Figure 30 above, Hubbert shows the relationship between peak oil and nuclear power in the U.S.:As you can see, when Hubbert wants to refer to peak oil, he uses the label "PETROLEUM". When he wants to refer to peak fossil fuel he uses the label "FOSSIL FUELS".

It's interesting to note that the U.S. is right on schedule according to Figure 29. Net summer capacity in 2004 of operable nuclear generating plants in the US was about 100 million kW (source: DOE, Annual Energy Review 2004, P. 274).

23 Comments:

At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 7:34:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You kind of have to squint, but Hubbert has us wisely building our nuclear capacity well in advance of peak, as opposed to our current default strategy, to squeeze them out (hopefully) just in the nick of time...

 
At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 8:02:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

The peak in the figure is peak fossil fuels, not peak oil.

 
At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 8:18:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Hubbert was a geologist, not a nuclear physicist. His little cartoon can therefore be taken as maybe just a little better than wishful thinking.

2) Surely no one thinks that, when he indicated fossil fuels, he meant anything other than oil.

3) In any case, it's clear from the diagram that the peak he was talking about was imminent, as it is, whereas at the same time, nuclear energy was supplying a vast amount of energy over and above what oil was doing, which it's not.

I can't see why this little diagram is relevant to the issue at all.

 
At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 8:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dukat- said...

Looks like hubbert put alot of thought into that lol, back then it would seem obvious that nuclear power would take off like that to him, but there is too much opposition to nuclear power now, I am strongly in opposition to nuclear because it's far to dangerous. It's amusing to see that hubbert had a peak for fossil fuels and not a peak decline for nuclear power, it stays at the peak and continues on forever. Anyway, uranium will peak soon enough if everyone switched over to it.

 
At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 9:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Dream's End said...

Oh...I see. This site is about promoting nuclear energy. There IS a peak but nookular will save us. I didn't understand when I first started coming here. Thanks for the clarification.

 
At Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 11:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're talking about fusion, then yes it will save us.

But if you're talking about fission, then sorry it won't save us.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 12:50:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back then Hubbert probably thought fusion was 50 years away.

Here we are and fusion is still 50 years away.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 2:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Oh...I see. This site is about promoting nuclear energy.

Actually, I greatly prefer space solar to nuclear energy, but in a pinch nuclear will tide us over just fine. You know... whatever skins the cat.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 2:31:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

But if you're talking about fission, then sorry it won't save us.

Why not? Fission's going to save France. See #42.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 3:18:00 AM PDT, Blogger Dukat- said...

We have the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the solar system called the sun, do we really need another one in this solar system?

There's alot of nuts here like JD who would use a slingshot to shoot themselves into space if it had a chance of working. These people live in a fantasy world and are shit scared of peakoil because they are emotionaly retarted and could not function in a society without technology. That is why they are grasping at straws in a feable attempt to convince people that human kind will naturally progress through this period of history. The skinny wirely geek who can only get ahead in this world by being an expert in unix system administration would have been killed off by their mother and father before technology became prevalent. The world is running out of energy and when that happens JD is going to be shitting his pants.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 4:10:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world isn't running out of energy, it might be running out of cheap energy.

But then you can get more efficient, do things differently or not do things at all.

The whole PO Dommer theory relies on 'business as normal'.

The world will never run out of energy, at least for the next few billion years, but which time it will be consumed by the Sun.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 5:23:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dukat, in order to be so seemingly enraged about space technology and nerds, I wonder if maybe you don't have some emotional problems yourself. Are you saying that JD "be[ing] killed off by [his] mother and father" would be a good thing?

And if Hubbert meant peak oil instead of peak fossil fuels, I sure think he would have said "peak oil". He wasn't stupid or imprecise.

And nuclear fission is dangerous, sure, but so is the collapse of technological society. :-P And there are more reasons to like technology than "emotional retardation". I assume you can see them.

It is correct, though, that if we were really on course according to Hubbert, we would be building lots more nukes. I hope that gets started soon.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 5:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second-to-last poster is perfectly correct about "business as normal". While it may be technically true, to me it looks like the PO doomer theory is based on the idea that most people would sooner eat their neighbors than use public transportation (well, I'm slightly exaggerating), and that the government would sooner go to nuclear war than ration gasoline (not even the Bushites are that stupid).

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 5:27:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: By "technically true", I meant to say "technically sound", i.e. the geological/technological assumptions of doomer theory may be true. Or they may not. Nobody knows.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 7:41:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The deflection is absurd. People use terms interchangeably all the time; I'm sure Hubbert was no different. The peak in the first graph shows oil peaking when he predicted it would.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point is. Hubbert wasn't an expert on nuclear energy, and he wasn't qualified to assert that nuclear energy would save us. It's disingenuous at best to post this graph with the implication that it's meaningful.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 9:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the world going to run out of Uranium, the stuff we need for reactors?

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hubbert was a geologist, not a nuclear physicist. His little cartoon can therefore be taken as maybe just a little better than wishful thinking."

Since when did credentials matter when we are talking about Peak Oil?

None of the doomsayers have any sort of background in economics, and yet are all amazingly qualified to predict how the economy will react to an energy shortage (3% decline annually)

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 9:29:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dukat wrote:

"That is why they are grasping at straws in a feable attempt to convince people that human kind will naturally progress through this period of history. The skinny wirely geek who can only get ahead in this world by being an expert in unix system administration would have been killed off by their mother and father before technology became prevalent. The world is running out of energy and when that happens JD is going to be shitting his pants."

Incredibly well said.

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 9:31:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(well, I'm slightly exaggerating), and that the government would sooner go to nuclear war than ration gasoline (not even the Bushites are that stupid)."

Hey sh-t-for-brains, ever hear the words "war in iraq" and "depleted uranium"?

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 10:23:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. Good point on the war in Iraq... but the oil supply isn't tight yet. If it does, sure the Bushies might go to war, but they won't do it while letting tens of millions of people freeze and starve. Duh.

BTW, what is it with peak oilers on this site that they need to use insults like "sh-t-for-brains" or "emotionally retarded" "skinny wirely geek who can only get ahead by..." It seems that the debunkers side is a bit more civil.

I'm fully with the anon who said "None of the doomsayers have any sort of background in economics, and yet are all amazingly qualified to predict how the economy will react to an energy shortage (3% decline annually)".

 
At Friday, September 30, 2005 at 2:27:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Since when did credentials matter when we are talking about Peak Oil?

None of the doomsayers have any sort of background in economics, and yet are all amazingly qualified to predict how the economy will react to an energy shortage (3% decline annually)"

Red Herring. If the question is whether Hubbert was qualified to understand how nuclear energy would impact overall energy supplies as Peak Oil approached, it's completely irrelevant that many doomers don't have a background in economics.

Additionally, the claim is incorrect. I'm a doomer, though I don't publish. But I have a decent background in economics.

Of course, this isn't to say that if someone makes a claim that is obviously false, unsupportable, or just dumb, they shouldn't be called on it.

 
At Saturday, June 9, 2007 at 11:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger Felix said...

Nuclear power can save the technological society but only by using the right kind of reactors (breeder reactors). They can pull 100 times more energy out of the same lump of uranium or thorium, leave only small amounts of relatively safe waste and if something goes wrong with the operation they just shut down, like a fusion reactor would.

If society doesnt colapse and manages to survive at least 50 more years then eventually we could switch to fusion power, which is faaaar closer to a reality than it was 50 years ago. I should know it since i'm trying to specialice in fusion research.

Having paid lip service to our so called alternatives i must confess than i'm terrified at how little work is being done to adress the crisis. We are going to need like 5000 new nuke plants (of the advanced kind) and i dont see anybody building them.

Meanwhile i have plans to go buy a nice 1000 hectare plot of amazonian land sometime before 2008 or 2009 to start a litle kibbutz. I could equip it with windmills, batteries, electric agricultural machinery and an electric oven for the manufacture of vegetal carbon. Vegetal carbon could then be transformed into diesel with proper equipment and exported to the closest ghost town.

I just hope spare parts will be available in the future, even at a high cost.

 
At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 3:17:00 AM PST, Anonymous soylent said...

"...I am strongly in opposition to nuclear because it's far to dangerous."

It's hard for me to even put into words how stupid this statement is. Coal kills on the order of one million people every year(mostly from particulates). That's on the order of 100 times more people killed each year than will ever die from chernobyl. And that's before you consider the relative abundance of coal vs. uranium or global warming.

If you'd liken nuclear energy to russian roulette as some nuclear opponents have taken a liking to. I'd liken maintaining the status quo as putting a bullet in every chamber just to remove the risk of disaster.

"It's amusing to see that hubbert had a peak for fossil fuels and not a peak decline for nuclear power, it stays at the peak and continues on forever. Anyway, uranium will peak soon enough if everyone switched over to it."

A factor 100 improvement in fuel efficiency can be had by simply using breeder reactors.(and it's retroactive, as long as we didn't burry the "waste" or fashion all the "depleted" uranium into ballistic weapons). At 100 times the fuel efficiency even regular granite rock is more energy dense than coal.

We'll stop using fission because we find a better form of energy; no other reason.

 

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