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Digged deeper and thought along

At this point statements, thoughts and comments concerning different topics of energy supply will be published in loose sequence.

2011.05.04

The New Benchmark: Energy Expenditure

Considering increasing world market prices, euphonic scenarios like New Oil or New Gas appear, giving the impression that – even on a higher cost level – the exploitation of earlier non-economic reservoirs will be feasible. From a technical point of view this statement may be effective, but on the long run it is more than questionable.

Oil sands like in Athabasca depression, Canada, count for this type of new resources. But their bitumen contents ranges just around 5 %. Hardly to imagine amounts of spoil are to be handled. Correspondingly high result energy expenditures for transport and separation of sand and tar oil, as well as further processing to fuels.

A similar situation appears at uranium mining for nuclear fuel rods. Uranium content in ore averages today 300 ppm (300 g uranium per ton of spoil) with further decreasing tendency. If the ore content drops below 100 ppm, according to calculations of the Energy Watch Group, energy expenditures for production of nuclear fuel rods already surmount later electricity generation: Under these circumstances the operation of a nuclear power station will contribute to a net energy demand – and not to fulfill energy needs.

Wrong world, one will think. However, increasing prices for energy raw materials will appear even these scenarios to be economical. Not the physical depletion of mines and wells, but the fine spreading (uranium ore in rock, bitumen in oil sand) shows as the limiting factor. For how long we will be able to afford the primacy of economy? – It is foreseeable that energy expenditures to provide energy will be the pivotal question!

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