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1 Supply Demand, and ~appralsa1
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Energy: Production, Consumption, and Consequences. 1990. Pp. 21-34. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. Energy in Retrospect: Is the Past Prologue? ALVIN M. WEINBERG Before the discovery of fission, energy policy was not a central issue in the United States. After all, this country was blessed with enormous reserves of fossil fuel, and one could hardly conceive of a day when the United States would be importing 30 percent of its oil. 1b be sure, the lS59 discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania, came just in time to replace whale oil, which was becoming scarce; and before the discovery of the East Texas fields, alternatives such as shale oil were being pursued. By and large, however, the problem of energy in its broadest aspect had not become part of the federal government's agenda. The discovery of fission, which was widely regarded as the ultimate answer to the problem of energy, focused attention on energy. It was as though, with the solution in hand, we became aware of the problem. Thus, in a 1953 report sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission (Putnam, 1953), Palmer Putnam argued that a prudent custodian of the world's energy future should assume energy demand would grow exponentially and that energy supply would turn out to be lower than the expansive estimates of supply then current. Although Putnam's maximum plausible world population by 2050 was only 6 billion people, his per capita growth rate for energy of approximately 3 percent per year was very high; this led to his "maximum plausible" annual demand for energy of 436 quads (1 quad = 1 quadrillion, or 10~5, Btu) by 2000 ~D. and 2,650 quads by 2050! No wonder Putnam concluded that the world must get on with the development of all energy sources, especially nuclear power and solar energy (which he regarded as too expensive), as well as improving the efficiency of energy 21
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22 ALVIN M. WEINBERG use. Incidentally, Putnam was the first energy futurologist to call attention to the implication of the greenhouse effect for energy policy. Putnam's report echoed in apocalyptic tone the Paley Commission Report of 1952 (President's Material Policy Commission, 1952~. This too warned that serious shortages in energy supplies could develop, but by and large Paley went unheeded. The 1950s and 1960s were periods of energy euphoria, although a few voices, notably King Hubbert of "Hubbert oil bubble" fame, warned that the United States would become an oil importer by the 1970s (Hubbert, 1969~. The euphoria reached its zenith with the 1962 Atomic Energy Com- mission (AEC) Report to the President on Civilian Nuclear Power, (U.S. AEC, 1962) projecting some 734 gigawatts of electricity from nuclear power by 2000 (this represented about 30 percent of a total projected energy de- mand of 135 quads), and the 1964 interagency study of energy research and development (R&D) which placed fission into a broader context of energy sources. This report found "no ground for serious concern that the nation is using up any of its stocks of fossil fuel too rapidly; rather there is the suspicion that we are using them up too slowly . . . we are concerned for the day when the value of untapped fossil-fuel resources might have tumbled . . . and the nation will regret that it did not make greater use of these stocks when they were still precious" (Camber, 1964~. Despite this rosy estimate of the U.S. energy future, the interagency committee urged that the government expand research on long-range energy sources, both nuclear and nonnuclear. These studies belong to what could be called the "pre-Cambrian" period of energy policy. During this period an overall energy policy hardly seemed very relevant; and as for government-sponsored energy R&D, this was almost entirely preempted by the all-powerful AEC and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Although an Office of Coal Research had been set up in 1971, nuclear energy strongly dominated the government's thinking about the future of energy. President Nixon's price freeze in 1971, followed by the Arab oil em- bargo in 1973, marked the beginning of the modern era of energy policy. The United States was then importing 6 million barrels of oil per day, and independence soon became the aim of U.S. energy policy. Thus, Dixy Lee Ray (1973), chairman of the AEC, reported to the President in 1973 that the nation could achieve energy independence by 198~but only if it con- served the equivalent of 14 quads (an oil equivalent of 7 million barrels per day) out of a total annual demand of 100 quads; and Project Independence (1974) claimed the United States could achieve energy self-sufficiency by 1985 at an annual energy consumption of 96.3 quads if oil prices rose by 20 percent and the nation conserved approximately 8 quads.
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ENERGY IN RETROSPECT: IS THE PAST PROLOGUE? 23 These estimates of future demand were on the low side. Most fore- casters at the time were predicting a 1985 energy demand of around 115 quads. Even Amory Lovins (1977), an arch-exponent of limited growth, was predicting 90 quads a number close to the Ford Foundation's "Zero Growth" scenario (Energy Policy Project, 1974~. Only the National Re- search Council's Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems (CONAES; Brooks and Hollander, 1979), in its heavy conservation sce- narios, spoke about the demand for energy remaining constant—or even falling but CONAES characterized its extreme conservation scenario as "very aggressive, deliberately arrived at reduced demand requiring some life-style changes" (see scenario A* in Gibbons and Blair, Figure 5, in this volume). I do not think that CONAES took this scenario very seriously. In those days, several energy analysts used as a rule of thumb that the number of quads equaled the last two digits of the calendar year- 78 quads in 1978, 79 in 1979, and so on. However, the reality turned out very differently. Who, in 1973, would have predicted that the total amount of energy used in 1986 would be only 74 quads, the same as in 1973? Let energy forecasters practice their precarious art with humility! THE RATIO OF ENERGY TO GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT In the early 1970s many of us were convinced that the ratio of energy (E) to gross national product (GNP) or to gross domestic product (GDP) was a constant- as indeed it was from 1945 to 1975. We seem to have forgotten that the E/GNP ratio had been falling from 1920 to 1940. The constancy of this ratio from 1940 to 1970 concealed the secular trend to- ward higher efficiency (Figure 1~. This improvement in energy efficiency was evident throughout the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): between 1966 and 1970, the elasticity of energy to gross domestic product, ~ ~ ~l~nlGEp ~ 1.4; between 1980 and 1984, ~ ~ —0.2 (see Table 1~. Although the energy demand in the less developed and newly industrialized countries continued to expand, the entire non- communist world became considerably more energy efficient: ~ ~ 1.3 in 1966 1970; ~ ~ -0.5 in 198~1983. The other characteristic trend has been the continued electrification of the United States and of the world. In 1968, some 18 percent of primary energy in the United States was converted to electricity; by 1987 this fraction had doubled. The figures for the noncommunist world are similar. Moreover, the elasticity ratio of electricity to GNP seems to have been fairly constant, at least for the past 40 years (Figure 2~. Thus, the great realities of energy in the postembargo world have been (1) the extraordinary flattening in the demand for energy in the developed world, which implies an unexpected decoupling of energy and GNP, and (2)
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24 ALVIN M. WEINBERG O 1 50 _ ° 125 ~ /~~~` . . x as, 1 00 - O ~ 75 / A/ 50 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 FIGURE 1 Energy (E; mineral fuels and hydropower) consumed per dollar of real gross national product (GNP) in the United States, 1880-1985. SOURCE: Schulz (1984:410~. the continuing electrification of the world in conduction with the remarkable correlation between electricity and GNP. How can this extraordinary diminution in the growth of energy de- mand be explained a diminution so extreme as to call into question the usefulness of forecasting energy demand? Four schools of thought have arisen to explain away this discrepancy. First are the energy economists. For them, the reduction in energy demand simply reflects both the lowered rate of economic growth and the increase in the price of energy. Even today, the average price of all energy is some two times (in real terms) the price of energy 15 years ago—little TABLE 1 Growth Rams of the Demand for Energy and the Gross National Product (GNP) of the Noncommunist World 1966-1970 1970-1975 1975-1980 1980-1985 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Energy (%) 5.8 1.3 1.7 - 0.2 Gross domestic product ('ho) 4.2 3.0 3.5 2.1 (to 1984) Elasticity 1.4 0.4 0.5 -0.2 (to 1984) Nonconununist world Energy (%) 6.0 1.9 2.6 0.7 Gross domestic product (Jo) 4.5 3.6 3.9 1.4 (to 1983) Elasticity 1.3 0.5 0.7 -0.5 (to 1983) SOURCE: BP statistics International Monetary Fund-lnternational Financial Statistics as quoted in Ministry of Intemational Trade and Industry (no date), p. 59.
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ENERGY IN RETROSPECT: IS THE PAST PROLOGUE? 2.8 2.6 2.4 2.2 L N O 2.0 - IIJ m 1.8 1.6 1.4 ?- 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 1 985 1975 ~ · / 1970- — /. _ 1 / / — —1 960 / / ~ 1955 / /: .~ 1 9 I_ 1 947 0.2 1 1 1 1 ·/ —a/ ·? 0 1 2 3 4 GNP (trillions 1982 $) 25 FIGURE 2 Electncity production in the United States versus gross national product (GNP). The approximately linear relationship suggests that the elasticity ratio of electnaty to GNP has been constant since 1947. SOURCE: Energy Study Center, Electnc Power Research Institute. wonder that demand has abated! Moreover, since all this has resulted from the operation of the market, energy economists by and large support nonintervention as our basic energy policy. The market has worked; let it continue to work. A second group of analysts is the stn~ctural~sts. For them an important, if not dominant, reason for energy being uncoupled from GNP is a change in the structure of our economic activity the shift from manufacturing, mining, and agriculture to services, coupled with a saturation in some end uses (e.g., television sets and refrigerators). Because services are by and large less energy intensive than manufacturing, energy demand has flattened. Thus, the structuralists' policy implication would be: encourage further shift to services; energy will then take care of itself. Third are the conservationists. These include the doctrinal conser- vationists who regard conservation of energy as a transcendent human
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26 ALVIN M. WEINBERG purpose; and the technical conservationists who simply insist that the tech- nology of efficiency, both in end use and in energy production, has improved greatly and can be improved further. Moreover, these improvements often result in lower overall cost. For them much of the reduced E/GNP ratio reflects the adoption of more efficient technologies prompted in part by the rise in energy prices, and in part by the widespread acceptance of a conservation ethic. Energy policy must, therefore, stress increased techni- cal efficiency; but at least for doctrinal conservationists the government must mandate efficiency standards such as corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and building efficiency performance standards (BEPS), as well as promote broad acceptance of the principle that conservation per se is ethically superior to any alternative. Finally, there are the "electro-niks." For them the increase in electri- fication and the reduction in E/GNP are not coincidental. Rather, electri- fication of industry is per se a powerful catalyst of increased productivity. As industry electrifies, whether or not the electrification is itself energy efficient, industry becomes more productive. Electrification increases the denominator of the E/GNP ratio rather than diminishing the numerator, but the result is a decoupling of energy growth and economic growth. Energy policy for the electro-niks is: encourage electrification because an electrified society is an energy-efficient society. There is truth in the views of all four groups of analysts. Nevertheless, although analysis of energy supply and demand is much more sophisticated now than it was at the time of Project Independence, all of us must retain a basic skepticism about the ability to predict, much less mold, energy futures even to the year 2000. An intrinsic dilemma confronts us: Energy policy, insofar as it requires decisions today that affect the world 10, 20, even 50 years hence, must rely on visualization of that future world; yet as the inglorious history of past energy projections has demonstrated, that world cannot be known. The main lesson from this experience is that, insofar as possible, we must try to formulate energy policies that finesse these uncertainties, that are resilient to surprises. Is this a realistic possibility? INCREASING SUPPLY AND REDUCING DEMAND Balancing supply and demand is of course automatic. The issue is how to achieve this balance without causing unacceptable economic and social dislocations. Most old-time energy people assumed almost automatically that demand was hardly subject to any control. Their emphasis, both as policymakers and as engineers, was on increasing supply. Develop nuclear fission and fusion, oil shale, synfuels, geothermal sources—even solar and wind was their response to the oil embargo.
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ENERGY IN RETROSPECT: IS THE PAST PROLOGUE? 27 What a shock to discover that demand could also be altered and, in- deed, that the technologies required to reduce demand might challenge the engineering community no less than the technologies of expanding supply. Today, there are many opportunities for research in demand management as well as in supply enhancement. Why did most engineers gravitate toward supply enhancement rather than demand management? I can give at least two reasons. First, designing nuclear reactors seemed to be more glamorous than improving car efficien- cies. Second, demand management usually requires millions of people to change their way of doing something. In some cases, such as lowering the thermostat, the change might affect life-style; in other cases, such as replacing an energy-inefficient refrigerator with a more efficient one, the change requires an additional outlay of money. In a broad sense, demand management, even when based on clever new technologies, is a social fix: many individual decisions are needed to achieve lower demand. By con- trast, increasing supply was regarded, perhaps naively, as a purely technical fix: only a few people have to be convinced to build a nuclear reactor or a synfuel plant. The technical fix seemed to be simpler than the social fix. At least, this is the way many engineers viewed the matter. Somehow, predicting the increased supply seemed much more robust than predicting reduced demand. But we were wrong again. We neglected the public an- tagonism to all sorts of large centralized energy systems—whether nuclear reactors, coal-fired power stations, or synfuel plants. We also underesti- mated the public's acceptance of conservation whether price induced or resulting from a widespread belief in a conservation ethic reinforced by government-mandated efficiency standards. In a way, the relative effectiveness of supply enhancement and demand management reflects the underlying U.S. political structure. Ours is a Jeffersonian democracy: decentralized, open, some would say chaotic. Large-scale interventions that are perceived as threatening by a determined group can be, and often are, blocked. Under the circumstances, we have much incentive to avoid big, threatening, energy supply projects in favor of demand management and much smaller, decentralized, supply options. By contrast, where the political structure is elitist, particularly in France with its Jacobin political tradition, large, centralized supply options- especially nuclear energy remain viable. France has managed to reduce oil imports (and, incidentally, reduce the carbon dioxide thrown into the at- mosphere) largely by its steadfast commitment to nuclear electrification a path that is unavailable to the United States, at least for the present.
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28 ALIGN M. YVEINBERG INCREMENTALISM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES In trying to follllulate energy strategy for the next decade, we must therefore accept three realities: 1. The future is much less knowable than it was thought to be 15 years ago. 2. Ours is a participatory polity, one with growing environmental concern. 3. Although certain segments of the U.S. energy supply system, no- tably oil, are dominated by a few large corporations, other segments, particularly electricity, are fragmented. The United States has approxi- mately one generating company per million people, whereas Japan has one per 10 million and France, one per 50 million! The U.S. energy system seems to be responding to these realities with a grand strategy that I would describe as incrementalism. Because our energy demand in 10 years cannot be predicted, we should not build anything very large. Thousand-megawatt power plants or 100,000-barrel-per-day synfuel plants are much too risky. If more electricity is needed, build a 50- or 100- megawatt gas turbine; buy electricity from small independent producers (who have enjoyed the protection of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act of 1978) or, if possible, from Canada, and do not shut down old plants; or reduce demand by offering incentives to customers to use more efficient devices. Such incrementalism finesses the uncertain future and does not expose a generating company to the risk of bankruptcy, which has engulfed unlucly utilities saddled with ridiculously overpriced nuclear reactors. Incrementalism also evokes little antagonism from politically sensitive, and often powerful, conservationists. Thus, the 1950s vision of a gradually nuclear electrified nation has in the 1980s and 1990s given way to a nation in which conservation is primary and in which energy is increasingly supplied by small, decentralized units or by older units that have been coaxed into a few more years of operation. The energy dream of 1950 is coming to pass, but not in the United States. It is happening in France, in Japan, in several communist countries, and in other newly industrialized countries whose political tradition is more authoritarian than ours and whose energy systems are more centralized. Let us concede that incrementalism is inevitable during the next decade or so, at least if conservation is insufficient to keep our energy demand from growing. Are there dangers in the long run for an energy system that will eventually be dominated by a large number of small producers? I see several such dangers. Perhaps most important, many of the new electrical supply increments use gas- or oil-fired turbines. Although the Gas Research Institute (GRI, 1987) has recently estimated that there will be enough gas through 2010 (see Able 2), one Is naturally concerned
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ENERGY IN RETROSPECT: IS THE PAST PROLOGUE? 29 TABLE 2 Gas Research Institute Baseline Projection of Gas Supplies (quads), 1987 Production Basis 1986 1990 2000 2010 Current practice Domestic production 16.6 16.3 14.3 9.3 Canadian unpons 0.8 0.9 1.4 1.1 Iiquefiedna~lgasunpons o.Oa 0.1 0.3 0.8 Supplemental sources o.ob 0.2 0.3 0.3 Total 17.4 17.5 16.3 11.5 N. . . . ew ~ anves Lower48 advanced technologies 0.0 0.3 Z6 5.4 Alaskan pipeline 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 Canadian frontier 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.7 Other Capons 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 Synthetics 0.0 0.0 0.0 O. 1 Total 0.0 0.3 3.1 8.4 Total supply 17.4 17.8 19.4 19.9 aLess than 0.05 quad. bldcludes net injections to storage of 0.1 quad. SOURCE: Gas Research Institute (1987). that to achieve its 19.9 quads of gas projected for 2010, some 8.4 quads must come from "new initiatives" such as advanced extraction technologies, the Alaskan pipeline, the Canadian frontier, imports, and synthetics; and the total imports (including Canadian imports) amount to 3.6 quads. Also, insofar as oil is used in these small generators, U.S. dependence on imported energy will be increasing, not decreasing. Second is the economy of scale. During the era of energy euphoria, particularly nuclear euphoria, bigger was assumed to be cheaper. The catastrophic escalation of capital costs for nuclear plants has dissuaded us from this belief: we seem now to believe that the economic scaling laws have been repealed or at least can be circumvented if the devices are manufactured serially. However, even if the capital costs of small units are favorable, most would claim that operating costs will be higher for small plants than for large plants. One must therefore ask, does the trend toward incrementalism imply that energy particularly electrical energy—will always be more expensive in the United States than it is in countries where large plants continue to dominate?
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62 CHAUNCE:Y STARR availability of natural gas for filer purposes does raise a question as to whether such a high-quality resource should be consumed in this manner, instead of being kept as a raw material for the production of petrochemicals and synthetic products. Nevertheless, the important role of fossil fuels is evident. In 2060, this projection calls for 1.64 times as much annual fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation as was used in 1980. In Figure 10 it is assumed that the world's hydroelectric energy is 5 times as much and nuclear energy 18 times as much as was available in 1980. Whether hydroelectric growth will be this great, even if feasible at 2.0 percent per year, or nuclear energy will expand this much at 3.7 percent per year, depends on many existing constraints. Even in such an authoritarian and centrally planned economy as the USSR, major hydroelectric and nuclear 32 28 24 ti~ 1 2 J 6 o _ . - 20 _ o ._ _ ._ 16 _ _ 8 4 0~ 1 960 I · Based on GNP | · Based on Population | 1 1 Pr a/ i' /Y Pi ~ p 9 Global Population Year Pop (x 106) 1980 4,453 2000 6, 123 / 2020 2040 8,979 2060 7,807 9,686 1980 2000 2020 2040 2060 FIGURE 8 World electric power consumption- actual and projected (from 1980 to 2060), based on GNP (Pg) and population (Pp). Pg = - 2,076 + 0.8202(GNP), where GNP in billions of 1985 U.S. dollars is given by GNP = - 679,252 + 349.218(calendar year). Pp = —9,466 + 3.872(Pop), where Pop is given by the inset table.
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IMPLICATIONS OF CONTINUING ELECTRIFICATION 7 I 6 (D 5 o CD CL in cr: llJ A 63 p Coal 4 3 1~ ~ ~.0- _o Natural Gas _ _ ~ Uranium —O— of ?> New Sources Of ~~ ~ Hydroelectric 05=~ 1960 1980 2000 2020 2040 2060 Noncommercial FIGURE 9 Evolution of world energy supplies (projection from 1980~. SOURCE: Fnsch (1986~. power plant projects have been modified because of general concern with potential long-range environmental and ecologic effects. If this becomes a global trend, then the role of fossil fuels, and coal particularly, increases substantially—regardless of whatever greenhouse effects they may produce. Although nuclear power avoids the atmospheric environmental impacts of fossil fuels, its public acceptance depends on establishing the safety of the whole nuclear fuel cycle. Perhaps the cost of electricity will eventually be the dominant determinant, driven by the economic scarcity of fossil fuels. In any event, the history of international calamities and uncertainties in long-range strategic planning would suggest that all technical options should be kept viable and that each may have a useful niche in the future global mix of fuels for electricity generation. BIOSPHERIC IMPLICATIONS Let us now consider the broad implications of such long-range growth in global electrification. It is evident that the most certain consequence will be a significant annual increase in fossil fuel combustion products emitted to the biosphere, with a resulting greenhouse effect. Whatever climatic change the continuing growth in some atmospheric gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane) is projected to produce, such changes will be accelerated by the future increase in global fossil fuel use. There is at present no economically practical technology that can be used to remove carbon dioxide as an end product of fossil fuel use. Although it is technically
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64 CHAUNCEY 5174RR 4 3 2 1 Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, car' Thor / - ~ Hydroelectric O l 1960 1980 2000 2020 2040 2060 FIGURE 10 Projected mix of available world primary energy sources for electricity generation (projections from 1980~. possible to strip carbon dioxide from power plant flue gas, the ultimate conversion of the carbon dioxide to storable forms requires large energy inputs and is very costly. The permanent storage of carbon dioxide is not foreseeably resolvable. Reduction in its rate of production may result from seeking an increase in the efficiency of fossil fuel conversion, and this may delay the onset of the inevitable biospheric effects by a decade. It is important to recognize that any reduction in electrification growth by using fossil fuels directly for end purposes (i.e., a low-electrified econ- omy) is apt to increase, rather than decrease, the total emission of pol- lutants. Except for the use of passive solar heating where feasible, the system efficiency of primary resources conversion to end functions is higher for electrified systems because of the relatively high efficiency of electrical devices. Also, electrification permits the use of nonfossil resources such as nuclear, hydroelectric, and solar power for electricity production. Further, centralized generating plants based on fossil fuels usually permit a much higher quality of pollution control than is feasible with small dispersed activities. The goal, then, is to minimize pollution by promoting the most efficient generation and use of electricity. On the brighter side, technology is available to reduce the output of other noxious atmospheric effluents such as the oxides of sulfur and nitrogen that produce acid rain. In the coming decades, the new-technology fossil fuel plants should reduce these effluents to minimal levels. Coal ash will still need disposal, but as new uses are found for this material, it can become a resource material. A further uncertainty in long-range electricity projections arises from
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IMPLICATIONS OF CONTINUING ELECTRIFICATION 65 the effect of projected climatic change by altering present electric load patterns. A study now under way for EPRI indicates that this impact on electric utilities could be significant and that these changes could be evident within several decades. The net effect is to shift the structure of electrical demand in such uses as agricultural irrigation pumping, air conditioning with heat pumps, and other weather sensitive loads. If climatic changes also cause demographic movements of industry and populations, a corresponding shift of transmission networks will be needed as well. A major technical factor affecting large increases in regional elec- trification is the increasing scarcity of inland cooling water to accept the by-product heat from either fossil- or nuclear-fueled power plants. Regional constraints on water use and ecologically acceptable water temperature in- creases have already limited power plant expansion plans in many areas. This has created continuing engineering interest in the development of dry cooling towers (atmospheric heat rejection), and a parallel interest in raising the Carnot efficiency of the thermodynamic cycle. This would also have the salutary effect of reducing the total effluent outputs per unit of electricity. Major progress toward this objective depends on the develop- ment of very high temperature materials, such as workable ceramics, which represent one of the active frontiers of materials research. More distant is the use of high-temperature thermionic converters for additional efficiency gains. Another technical option for mitigating some of these undesirable constraints is the current development of direct conversion to electricity by the electrochemical fuel cell (U.S. Department of Energy, 1986), which avoids the Carnot cycle limits and may achieve efficiencies of approximately 60~0 percent. Materials lifetime and economics are current issues, but another decade of development may produce competitive commercial units. The fuel cell needs hydrogen, foreseeable produced from hydrocarbon fuels, and an oxidant such as the oxygen in air. Three approaches are now being developed: the low-temperature phosphoric acid, and the hi~h-temnernt~,r~ molten carbonate and solid oxide fuel cells. Gas turbines work well with carbon monoxide. This, fortunately, befits the output of a coal gasifies, which can use coal and water to produce equal amounts of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Thus, given an economically functional phosphoric acid fuel cell, the efficient way to use coal is through gasification, with carbon monoxide fueling a thermodynamic combined cycle generator (gas turbine and steam cycle), and with hydrogen going to the fuel cell. This combination might provide a 25 percent efficiency improvement in the use of coal for electricity generation. More options become possible because of the ability of high-temperature molten carbonate and solid oxide fuel cells to use carbon monoxide (or methane) directly with the
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66 CHAUNCEY 5174RR added benefit that by electrode surface reactions with water, hydrogen is produced. TECHNOLOGY IMPLICATIONS All of us are familiar with the role of electrification in a modern society. Personal productivity is generally enhanced by a variety of electrical devices. The more recent applications in industry are described in a series of EPRI reports (EPRI, 1984 1987~. Of special interest is the potential of the more recent developments such as lasers, plasma torches, superconductors, and new materials. Lasers provide a highly collimated energy beam that can be tuned over a wide range of frequencies ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. They can be used to stimulate chemical reactions and separate isotopes by selective photoexcitation, photoionization, or photodissociation of atomic or molecular vapor. When used with computerized controls, lasers are replacing conventional cutting tools with commercial success. The plasma torch can reach a temperature of almost 8000°F (4400° C), about twice the temperature of a flame. Plasma torches could dissociate the molecular structure of most compounds. A plasma-fired cupola for iron foundry melting is one of the many new and potentially large present applications. The use of the plasma torch to destroy toxic wastes has been demonstrated to be extremely effective, and this "pyroplasma" technology will eventually become a major tool for environmental waste control. The laser is scale limited at present and thus not adapted for a large throughput of material. However, the application potentials are sufficiently attractive that low-cost modular units may eventually be developed. More speculative is the possibility of future commercialization of elec- tric laboratory processes such as the synthesis of new products by using electrochemistry and organic plasma chemistry (Schurr, 1983~. An elec- trode reaction or a controlled plasma can provide the energy needed for molecular excitation and bond breaking, with subsequent stabilization of resulting species to provide new products. Electrochemical and plasma processes have the ability to produce high-energy electron level excitation, thereby creating new species and reactions. Great progress has been made in the laboratory synthesis of new products, but so far the energy eifi- ciency and rate of production are low. The development of large-scale electrochemical equipment is the challenge for the twenty-first century. A recent electrochemical development appears to have promise for removing toxic chlorinated chemicals from organic waste. By electrochem- ical stripping of the chlorine atom from chloro-organic compounds, their inherent toxicity is destroyed. A commercial prototype dechlorinating plant has been built to treat pesticides.
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IMPLICATIONS OF CONTINUING ELECTRIFICATION 67 Perhaps the most exciting near-term electrotechnical development is the electric automobile. Electric vehicles have been used since the ear- liest days of the automobile, but their use has been severely limited by the electricity storage capacity and lifetime of the conventional battery. In the past decade, intensive development of the lead-acid battery and the electric vehicle has made the combination marginally competitive for short-range urban uses and prototype demonstrations are now under way. Improvements in the traditional nickel-iron cell have succeeded in produc- ing a battery with 50 percent more energy storage per unit weight than the lead-acid cell. It is expected that within a few years, a demonstration of a nickel-iron powered commercial van with a possible 100-mile range will be made. It appears very likely that urban use of the electric automobile will be common by the turn of the century. Another long-range technical challenge is the fixation of nitrogen by electrical means. Low-cost fertilizer is one of the key requirements for meeting the food demands of the inevitably increasing global population. Historically, primitive arc devices were used in the United States and Sweden to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. This was superseded by the much more economical synthetic ammonia technology. Perhaps the ongoing development of lasers and plasmas may lead to commercial nitrogen fixation which, with phosphate rock, could provide the nutrients for a future global food supply. SOCIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS The electrification of industrial societies has resulted in profound changes in their social structure. Most dramatic among these has been our emancipation from the solar day its effect on our living patterns is obvious. The revolutionary change in manufacturing produced by the ad- vent of the electric motor has already been described. Electrically powered small machine tools also made possible the decentralization of small-scale specialty manufacturing. Beyond manufacturing, however, the same electric motor development provided the mechanical power for vapor-compression refrigeration units for commercial and residential use. The consequent sociological restruc- turing has been massive. The effect of refrigeration on the processing and distribution of food is clearly evident; it has radically increased our available sources of nutrition as well as their economics and healthfulness. Refrigeration has also totally altered our food supply and delivery systems. Air cooling has completely changed the demography of the southern portion of the United States, as well as becoming an integral part of life-styles in hot weather (e.g., air-conditioned cars, offices, restaurants, schools, theaters, and homes). Electricity-powered cooling systems have
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68 CHAUNCEY 5174RR expanded the availability of friendly living space in otherwise inhospitable climates. The continuing development of the electric reversible heat pump now provides a single device that can both cool and heat, and can do so very efficiently, so that completely electrical, space temperature conditioning is now becoming more commonplace and economical. The electrification of communications and information systems has steadily expanded the individual's span of accessible knowledge and recre- ation. Each of these areas of electrification deserves much study to assess thoroughly its sociological impacts. In this limited discussion, it is sufficient to make the general point that electrification in the twentieth century has profoundly changed our society. The interesting speculation is the degree to which the twenty-first century will see continued societal changes from this electricity-based expansion of accessible food, space, time, knowledge, and productivity. In looking forward to the twenty-first century, the most significant electrification outcome is likely to be its contribution to global economic growth and increased per capita income. This could be the strongest force for improved global health, education, and public welfare. Such broad benefits are not usually perceived as causally related to electrification, but our studies indicate the relationship is both real and powerful, given a societal environment conducive to economic and industrial growth. One can also predict substantial mitigation of many of the current envi- ronmental problems of industrial societies by the application of foreseeable electrotechnologies. The most obvious is the revival of urban electrical transportation systems as a means of reducing air pollution and traffic con- gestion. The electrical passenger train, both surface and subterranean, has again become the technically desirable transportation mode for connecting the inner city with the suburbs, and this will become more commonplace as the traffic density on surface roads increases. Further environmental benefit can be gained by using the by-product heat from electricity generation for urban district heating or other local uses. In the city, the air pollution created by the gasoline-fueled automobile has become an incipient health hazard. The electric automobile is now a developmental reality. As previously mentioned, the commercial availabil- ity of improved storage batteries (e.g., nickel-iron) could provide a major alternative to the gasoline-fueled automobile for urban use. A study of the potential role of a successful electric automobile (100-mile range) indicates that it could satisfy 92 to 96 percent of the average family's trips and could cover approximately 66 to 74 percent of the miles traveled annually (Horowitz, 1987~. Such a major transportation transition, encouraged for urban pollution reduction, could substantially raise electricity demand and
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IMPLICATIONS OF CONTINUING ELECT~FI=TION 69 reduce national oil needs by as much as one-half. This is a current tech- nological development that could significantly change long-range electricity roles and the geopolitics of oil. Electrification of communications will facilitate urban decentralization. It is already evident that advanced communications techniques permit any individual to function intellectually from any location, through communica- tions links with other individuals, libraries, data banks, universities, service centers, markets, financial services, entertainment, and so on. Eventually, this could mitigate urban population density and its attendant environ- mental stresses. I~To-way television will become commonplace as the full capacity of fiber-optic networks is achieved. The terminal equipment is costly today, but rapid progress can be anticipated to lower its cost substan- tially. Thus, video conferences, shopping, education, and other activities may be conducted without personal travel. Low-cost and versatile commu- nications may also help to strengthen the family ties of members separated by a long distance. There will, of course, continue to be many activities that require the assembly of large groups in urban centers. Transportation costs for raw materials, finished goods, and services play an important role in deter- mining the need for centralized production and management. Thus, the pressures for urban decentralization will be balanced by counterpressures for the maintenance and revitalization of urban centers. Electrified `'peo- ple movers" such as trains, subways, elevators, escalators, and walkways facilitate more efficient infrastructure for high-population-density urban communities. These few examples of the possible future implications of electrification have focused on their potential for societal change. The rapidly developing information and electrification technologies have combined to produce a foreseeable spectrum of future technical opportunities for achieving global societal goals. In an unpublished paper entitled "Future Imperfect," Robert M. White (1986), president of the National Academy of Engineering, per- ceptively discusses the present era of technological change and its interac- tion with economic, political, and social change. In that paper, he suggests that we may not fully perceive that we are already in a period of techno- logical innovations so sweeping that they will "transform the institutions of society, the general welfare of people, the economies of nations, and the fate of individual industries." Electrification is by no means the chief element of such a technological revolution. However, in combination with the parallel development of other technologies, it is clearly a crucial com- ponent in the creation of future opportunities to effect changes in our global societies.
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70 C~4UNCEY STARR IMPLICATIONS FOR NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY Electrification is so closely interwoven with other energy systems that its future course will be influenced by the directions taken by all other energy programs. The global issues discussed in this chapter, which are pertinent to electrification, are similar to the issues for a national energy policy. These may be summarized in terms of two strategies: 1. Societal strategy—establish long-range objectives and priorities: economic growth; environmental improvement: both regional and global; · geopolitical balance of international versus national markets; · transition methodology for government and industry; and · time scale for objectives. 2. Technological strategy—develop energy supply and demand alter- natives for adaptation to future constraints: · electrification a dominant mode, except for passive solar heating; · stimulation of nonfossil resources such as hydroelectric, nuclear, and solar energy; risk-taking incentives for research and development; and program stability in government and industry. As previously discussed, the long-time characteristics of energy systems require very long-range strategies for achieving both societal and technical objectives. The duration of such strategies must be very much greater than the short-term, two-, four-, and six-year election periods of our political processes. We need a national energy policy whose directions can be maintained and supported for decades by both government and industry. As a more general comment, it should be emphasized that although applied science and engineering can provide the technical tools, their use depends on the initiatives and support of industrial, political, and social institutions. Familiar as this thought may be, one must continually emphasize the need for institutional flexibility to achieve the benefits made possible by the opening of new frontiers through technological progress. This requires a long-term societal commitment to achieving common goals. A historical review of the relationship of energy use and social development throughout human civilization (Starr, 1971, 1979) illustrates that energy has always served as a scaffolding for economic progress. Unfortunately, during the past two decades, the historical recognition of energy as a positive good has undergone a reversal. Once again, the productive contribution of energy—used efficiently, of course must be recognized. It is in this context that electrification appears to be the most effective mode for the use of future energy resources.
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IMPLICATIONS OF CONTINUING ELECTRIFICATION REFERENCES 71 Electric Power Research Institute. 1984. Microwave Power in Industry. EPRI report no. EM-3645. Palo Alto, Cali£: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1985. Electricity and Industrial Productivity A Technical and Economic Perspective. EPRI report no. EM-3640. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1985. Induction Heating of Metals: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM - 131. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1985. Resistance Heating of Metals: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM4130. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1985. Vacuum Melting of Metals: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM-4132. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1986. Electroforming of Metals: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM4568. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1986. Electron Beam Processing of Metals: State-of-the- Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM~526. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1986. Plating, Finishing, and Coating: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM-4569. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1986. Radiation Curing: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM-4570. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1986. Resistance Heating of Nonmetals: State-of-the-Art Assessment. EPRI report no. EM4915. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Electric Power Research Institute. 1987. Radio Frequency Dielectric Heating in Industry. EPRI report no. EM-4949. Palo Alto, Calif.: EPRI. Frisch, J. R. 1986. Future Stresses for Energy Resources. World Energy Conference- Conservation Commission. London: Graham & Footman. Horowitz, A. D. 1987. Exploring potential electric vehicle utilization: A computer simulation. Transportation Research 21A(1~:17-26. National Research Council. 1986. Electricity in Economic Growth. Energy Engineer- ing Board, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Research and Development. 1987. December65. Schurr, H. 1983. Application of nonequilibrium plasmas in organic chemistry. Pp. 1-51 in Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing, Vol. 3, No. 1. New York: Plenum. Schurr, S. 1988. Electricity in the American Economy: An Agent of Technological Progress. Palo Alto, Calif.: Electric Power Research Institute. Smith, C. B., ed. 1978. Efficient Electricity Use. Elmsford, N.Y.: Pergamon Press. Starr, C. 1971. Energy and power. Scientific American (September). Starr, C. 1979. Collected Readings in Energy. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. U.S. Department of Energy. 1986. Fuel Cells Technology Status Report. DOE/1VIETC- 87/0257; (DE 87006525~. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Energy. White, R. M. 1986. Future Imperfect. Paper presented to the Electric Power Research Institute, Monterey, Calif., August 19, 1986.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: