[OPE-L:6034] Re: oil and alternative technologies

From: Paul (clyder@gn.apc.org)
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 17:34:47 EDT

On Mon, 01 Oct 2001, you wrote:
> Of course, these are not perfect analogies. Yet, in making them I want to
> emphasize that coal technology for electrical generation is an older and
> less 'eficicient' technology than that of oil.
In Britain for most of the last 25 years, oil fired power stations have
been the last to be switched on when demand for electricity is high.
The ranking is normally nuclear, hydro, gas, coal oil.

> > and in cases
> > where oil is in short supply it acts as a feedstock for gasoline and
> plastics
> > production - see germany in the 40s or South Africa in the 70s.
> I am reminded of a slogan during WW2 in the US developed by the Coal
> Miner's Union (who were at the time threatening to strike and were
> responding to a threat from Roosevelt to use federal troops to mine coal):
> "You can't mine coal with bayonets!".  Similarly, you can't run gasoline
> engines with coal; you can't produce fiberglass with coal; etc. Moreover,
> oil-derived energies can not even be used necessarily as substitutes (if
> you don't believe this, try putting gasoline in a diesel-powered engine).
> Moreover, even if technically feasible the cost to switch to alternative
> technologies could be prohibitively high and result in the 'premature'
> scrapping of existing constant capital.

It all depends on oil price. Recall the plans during the Carter period to
develop gasoline from coal and shale after the oil price rises that followed
the first Opec oil price hike in the 70s.

> In solidarity, Jerry
Paul Cockshott

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