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PaulS's picture

Energy Beyond Oil, a report

Well, this event has turned out to be an excellent talk!
19 people attended in all, most new to me and to Transition, I believe.

Paul Mobbs is a very good presenter. His talk was comprehensive, lucid and factual. He did not shrink from exposing the energy disaster approaching us, nor from commenting on the lamentably insufficient actions by the government. He clearly has the facts at his fingertips as he showed in answering questions from the audience.

I suppose the main points I have taken home from his talk were that the likelihood of a double downward slope post peak: start of Peak Oil decline sometime shortly (From the stats I have in about 18 months time), which in itself will cause tremendous disruptions - but then followed perhaps 10 years later by Peak Gas, which, according to Paul, will be the real problem the the UK in particular.

Peak Gas will mean end of (or much much more expensive) heating for the majority of UK homes AND end of/ much much more expensive electricity production, since so much of our electricity is produce from gas fired stations.

So not only will we experience the start of the equivalent of the great depression fairly shortly, but after a few years of decline in this depression, things will get worse!

It is really hard to contemplate and that thought should inject much more urgency into everything we do, both for ourselves and within Transition.

Another astounding fact Paul presented was that at the same time, North Sea oil and gas production will continue to decline, meaning that more and more energy sources will have to be imported - some 80% of all our energy by 2020. He pointed out that the only major economy currently importing as much as 80% of their energy is Japan. And the difference between the UK and japan is that they have a large manufacturing base, which generates the type of income you beed to buy 80% of your energy from abrorad - and we don't.

Combine that with the almost certainly much higher cost of these energy sources and the minimal manufacturing sector still left in the UK and the inevitable conclusion is that the UK will have to start restricting its energy imports by perhaps 2012/2014, not because gas will be running out, but because we will not have the money to pay for it!

More astounding facts: to produce just the electricity the UK now consumes, using biomass would take about 330% of the total UK land size! We'd better occupy Franmce double quick!

Paul reckons that all renewables combined, however much investment you throw at it, can produces at best 40% of the energy currently being used. That means that even if our government did all the things that we know they should be doing, in the best case scenario, we all, our industry and government, all would still have reduce consumption by at least 60% to make it work.

We will just have to do whats necessary ourselves.
Starting with good insulation, getting a solar hot water system and then PV panels and/or wind turbine to generate electricity and a wood burner for heating and some cooking. Add an electric powered bike and you will have, for the next 10-20 years virtually free hot water, some heating, electricity and transport!

That's what I am doing.