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Energy Storage and Civilization: A History
The Great Simplification #87 with Graham Palmer
While this show frequently covers the importance of energy itself, the ability to store and access energy has been just as critical in shaping societies. Today, scholar and engineer in the field of energy, Graham Palmer, joins me to discuss the history and future of humans and energy storage.
Graham Palmer is a researcher at Monash University, with an industry background as an engineer and researcher in manufacturing, HVAC and electronics. He has published in the area of biophysical economics, renewable energy, life-cycle analysis, and energy-economic modeling. Graham obtained his PhD in the area of energy-return-on-investment (EROI) of electricity supply. His current research interests include the future role of emerging energy storage systems.
From agriculture, to wood, to coal, to oil, each transition has marked a new way for humans to interact with the world around them. What would it mean for economic growth if we no longer have access to these storable energies? What does the necessity of storability mean for electricity - an inherently flow-based energy form? Would human societies moving back to a flow-based energy system also mean once again becoming in-sync with the Earth and her ecosystems?
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In case you missed it…
In this Frankly, I wanted to give my reaction to a recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) critical of 2022 subsidies to fossil fuels. These subsidies - by IMF math totalling $7+ trillion - are not what they seem, resulting in widespread confusion on what is really going on. By peeling back the layers of the onion we can see what really comprises these fossil fuel subsidies, who receives them, the purpose they serve, and who benefits from them (spoiler alert - we ALL do). How do these subsidies fit into the larger story of the huge energy surplus that fossil fuels have provided? What will it mean for societies when the subsidy that is fossil fuels goes away? Will we be prepared when the externalities - paid for in these subsidies - catch up with us and we need to learn to live with the aftermath of the Carbon Pulse?
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