WORLD LAND AREA NEEDED FOR REPLACING FOSSIL FUELS WITH BIOFUELS

For the past 200 years, we have multiplied from 1.0 billion in 1800 to 7.4 billion in 2016, and will multiply to a likely 9.5 billion by 2050.

 

Most of them have lived the good life, courtesy of our fossil fuel inheritance. Transitioning to biofuels is like having to get a real job and work for the annual yield, year after year; a yield subject to the vagaries of the weather.

 

No more freebees from nature that were just lying around for millions of years waiting to be scooped up. Luckily, we have time to prepare, as we have about 100 to 150 years of fossil fuels left over. That leftover will be stretched due to increased future energy from wind, solar, hydro, bio and nuclear.

 

Eliminating fossil fuels from electricity production is one thing (expensive, but not difficult. See next two sections), it is quite another to eliminate them from the thousands of industrial processes that use fossil feedstock, and from the millions of products that consist of fossil feedstock, such as plastics, drugs, etc.

 

Biofuels Replacing Fossil Fuels: The fossil fuel substitution issue is usually ignored by most RE proponents, because they are focused on gathering the generous subsidies to build mostly wind and solar systems, using the slogans of “getting rid of these evil fossil fuels, saving the world, fighting global warming, reducing climate change”.

 

Corn Kernels Replacing Fossil Fuels: During the past 15 years, US corn production has become very efficient with large energy yields per acre. Harvesting corn requires modern machinery, good soils, fertilizers, various chemicals and adequate rainfall. 

 

Annual corn energy yield in the US: 160 bushel/acre/y x 56 lb/bushel x 7000 Btu/lb x 0.85 = 53,312,000 Btu/acre/y, equivalent to 9.6 barrel of oil/acre/y.

 

In below calculations, the very efficient level of US corn production is used as the basis. All areas of the world do not have as good corn-growing conditions as the US.

 

Land Area to Replace World Fossil Fuels With Corn Kernels

 

Crude Oil = 80 million/d x 365 d/y = 29,200 million barrel/y.

Land area in corn = 29,200 million/9.6 = 3.040 BILLION acre.

 

Coal = 8 billion metric ton/y. 

Land area in corn = (8 b metric ton/d x 27,778,244 Btu/metric ton)/53,312,000 net Btu/acre/y  = 4.168 BILLION acre.

 

Natural Gas = 3,600 billion cubic meter/y.

Land area in corn = (3,600 bm3/y x 35,315 Btu/m3)/53,312,000 net Btu/acre/y = 2.385 BILLION acre.

 

Total land area about 3.040, crude oil + 4.168, coal + 2.385, natural gas = 9.593 BILLION acre in 2016; 12.964 BILLION in 2050.

 

World Land Area For Food Production  

 

World land area for food production is 18,963,881 sq mi x 640 acre/sq mi = 12.140 b acre, of which 28%, 3.40 b acre, is in annual crop production.  For comparison, the US has about 0.434 b acres of cropland.

 

World Population Reduction and Increased Efficiency

 

The 2016 world population requires about 12.140 billion acres for food.

The 2050 population would require about 16.406 billion acres.

 

If the energy of fossil fuels were replaced with the energy of corn kernels, then 9.593 + 12.140 = 21.733 would be required in 2016

 

If the energy of fossil fuels were replaced with the energy of corn kernels, then 12.964 + 16.406 = 29.370 would be required in 2050

 

If the world population were reduced to 1.0 billion, plus the energy consumption per capita were reduced by 50%, then 1.970 billion acres would be required for food and 0.761 billion acres for corn kernels, for a total of 2.688 billion acres. That would be much less than 29.370 billion acres in 2050.

 

NOTE: The 0.761 value likely is significantly understated, because crude oil, coal and gas require much less energy to produce the thousands of chemicals for many purposes, than would be required to produce those same materials, etc., from corn kernels.

 

The three measures 1) population reduction, 2) increased efficiency, and 3) fossil fuels replaced by corn kernels would:

 

- Allow the fauna and flora to reestablish themselves on 12.140, present land area for food - 2.688, future land area for food and corn kernels = 9.452 b acres.

- More likely enable the fauna and flora to survive and thrive elsewhere in the world.

 

 A summary of the above numbers is in the below table.

 

 

Year

Population

Energy/capita

Food less Crop

Crop

Total Food

FF to Corn

Total

 

 

 

%

b acre

b acre

b acre

b acre

b acre

 

2016

7.4

 100

8.740

3.400

12.140

9.593

21.733

 

2050

10.0

100

11.811

4.595

16.406

12.964

29.370

 

2100

1.0

 100

1.387

0.540

1.9270

1.523

3.450

 

2100

1.0

50

1.387

0.540

1.9270

0.761

2.688

https://yearbook.enerdata.net/coal-and-lignite-world-consumption.html

http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec11_5.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_land

https://yearbook.enerdata.net/world-natural-gas-production.html

https://www.reference.com/science/convert-1-cubic-meter-natural-gas...

http://www.convertunits.com/from/Btu/to/tonne+of+coal+equivalent

“Bionic Leaf” Research at Harvard

 

The bionic leaf is a semiconductor wafer, coated with a catalyst, placed in water, to produce hydrogen gas that is fed to a bacterium called “ralstonia eutropha”, which uses the hydrogen to generate biomass. By changing key genes of the bacterium, isopropanol, isobutanol, isopentanol, and PHB, a precursor to bioplastic, were produced. The bionic leaf scrubs CO2 from the atmosphere at 180 grams/kWh. It would take a lot of “bio leaves” to make a dent in world’s CO2 emissions of about 38 billion metric tons in 2015; each ton weighs 1,000,000 grams.

http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/189/

 

Reality Checks: Below are three URLs that describe 1) the current 100% RE craze, 2) the reality of wind energy in New England and 3) the grossly inadequate COP-21 pledges.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/review-of-the-100-re-by...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-reality-of-wind-ene...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cop-21-world-renewable-...

 

Germany, Denmark and Vermont: Germany has a goal to have almost all of its domestic electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2050. The Energiewende targets are 35% RE by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 80% by 2050. Thus, about 20% of domestic electricity consumption would continue to be from fossil fuels, such as natural gas, in 2050. Germany has a goal to have 60% RE of all primary energy by 2050.

 

Rich Germany's goals are much less extreme than the "90% RE of all primary energy by 2050" goal of poor Vermont. It would be more reasonable and more affordable, if poor Vermont had an RE goal of about 40%. Vermont's present RE is about 16.5%. See below table.

 

RE goals

Primary energy

 Elect’l prod’n

 Primary energy

H’sehold elect rate

 

% of total

 % by 2050

% by 2050

 

Denmark 2015

27.2

 100

100

30 euro c/kWh

Vermont 2016

16.5

 90

90

18 c/kWh

Germany 2016

12.6

 80

60

29 euro c/kWh

 

Germany is an Example of Not Reaching CO2 Goals: Germany’s CO2 emissions (from all sources) are about the same as in 2009. There is no way Germany, a big industrial nation, will meet its 2020 and 2030 targets. German households paid a MINIMUM of about 8 x 25 billion euro = 200 billion euro in subsidies during these 8 years to gain ZERO CO2 emission reduction. German boasting about COP-21 and criticizing the US is just empty rhetoric.

 

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/german-carbon-emissions-rise-2...

http://www.ag-energiebilanzen.de/4-1-Home.html

 

Year

CO2eq

 Reduction below 1990

 

million Mt

 %

1990 actual

1251

 

2009 actual

907

 

2016 actual

906

 

2020 target

 751

  40

2030 target

 563

 55

 

Germany’s consumption of electricity from renewables has increased from 30.8%, 32.7%, and 35.1% in the first half of 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. But regarding the consumption of thermal energy for buildings, industry and commerce, and fuels for transportation, there has been so little change that the overall energy consumption from renewables has increased from 14.7%, 14.8% and 15.2% in the first half of 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively, which means Germany will not meet its 18% goal in 2020.

http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-renewable-energy-use-rises-but-only-j...

 

The electricity sector contributes only about 45% of Germany’s total emissions. The 100% decarbonizing of the electricity sector, which is already about 45% decarbonized (if we add nuclear) would reduce total emissions by about another 25%. Yet Germany’s efforts to decrease emissions continue to concentrate on the electricity sector.

 

The World Making Almost No Progress Towards RE: Here is a table of global primary energy consumption percentages (fuels, electricity, etc.) during the 2011 - 2015 period, which, indicates hardly any progress towards RE, despite worldwide investments in renewables of $250 - $300 billion in each of these 5 years. The fossil fuel percentage likely remained about the same in 2016 and 2017.

 

The total primary energy of wind, solar, bio and geo electricity was only 1.6% in 2015, after about $3 trillion of investments in such renewable energy systems over the past 25 years, and that percentage likely was about 1.8% in 2016, for a growth rate 10.4%/y for the past 5 years.

 

If that growth rate were extended to 2030, that category would increased from 1.8% in 2016 to 7.2% in 2030, which would have a negligible impact on global temperatures. Google: “REN 21 Renewables 2017” report.

http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2017/chapters/chapter_01/chapter_01/

  

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

 2015

Percent

 %

 %

 %

 %

%

Fossil fuels

78.2

78.4

78.3

78.3

78.4

Nuclear

  2.8

  2.6

  2.6

  2.5

2.3

Total renewables

19.0

19.0

19.1

19.2

19.3

Modern renewables

9.7

10.0

10.1

10.3

10.2

- Biomass, geo, solar heat

4.1

4.2

4.1

  4.2

4.2

- Hydro electricity

3.7

3.8

3.9

3.9

3.6

- Wind, solar, bio, geo electricity

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.6

- Biofuels, such as corn ethanol

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.8

Traditional biomass

9.3

9.0

9.0

  8.9

9.1

 

http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2012KFen.pdf  

http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GSR2015_KeyFindings...

http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/KeyFindings_2013_lo...

http://www.ren21.net/Portals/0/documents/Resources/GSR/2014/GSR2014...

http://www.ren21.net/resources/publications/

 

Capital Cost Estimate of Renewables Energy for All: Many people think we can have 90% of ALL primary energy from renewables for 10 billion people and their economies by 2050, or by 2100. Prorating the $33 billion cost of Vermont’s energy transformation* for 10 billion people would be $33 b x 10000/0.625 = $528 trillion, adjusting for per capita income would be 12,380/47,000 x 528 = $139 trillion, or $4.2 trillion/y. Currently, the world spends about $300 billion/y on RE systems.

* The Vermont goal is 90% of ALL primary energy from renewables by 2050, not just electrical energy.

 

NOTE: The gross world product was about $78 trillion, or $78 trillion/6.3 b = $12,380/capita, in 2014. Vermont’s GDP/capita was about $47,000 in 2015.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cop-21-world-renewable-...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-s-90-percent-re...

http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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