Drumbeat: June 7, 2013

Dangerous Times As Energy Sources Get Costlier To Extract

Remember the term “peak oil”? With all the oil now available from oil shale, tar sands, and other new sources, many analysts assume that the old talk of peak oil has been proven dead wrong. They buttress this conclusion with statistics showing decreased per capita oil usage, a signal, they say, of our entry into a golden era of rising supply and falling demand that will cut energy prices and fuel economic growth.

The optimists believe that our energy problems have been largely solved. I wouldn’t bet on that. The real issue with oil isn’t how much we have or even whether we can continue to increase production. That’s what peak oil had come to represent and why, in retrospect, it was a misleading term.

Rather, what really matters is the cost of resources, in terms of resources required, including energy resources, to keep producing oil. On that front, the U.S. is losing ground at an alarming pace.

Watts Up, Vaclav? Putting Peak Oil and the Renewables Transition in Context

Like most serious energy geeks, I'm a huge fan of Vaclav Smil, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. His detailed and highly empirical work on energy is enormously useful for those who would have a realistic grasp on the future of energy.

But for heaven's sake, don't forecast the future of energy. Nothing brings down the Wrath of Smil like a confident forecast.

Peak water limiting energy production

As a non-renewable resource, it takes millions of years for organic material to turn into oil. So it is a reasonable assumption to make that once we burn the oil we currently have, there won’t be any more for a long time. Water, on the other hand, is recycled through the ecosystem over a much shorter time period. Yet there is considerable evidence that the world is becoming short of water, at least in certain areas.

Just as there are oil-rich countries and oil-poor countries, parts of the world are rich in water resources (Brazil, Russia, Canada), while other areas are lacking in water, most notably China and India but also some developed countries such as Australia. However, unlike with the oil sector, there is no significant trade in bulk water from countries with excess water to countries who lack it. In fact, here in Canada there has been serious opposition to any bulk water exports; an interesting contrast to how eager Canadians are to export our oil.

WTI Heads for First Weekly Gain in Four Before Jobs Data

West Texas Intermediate headed for its first weekly gain in a month before data forecast to show more jobs were added in the U.S., the biggest crude consumer.

Futures rose as much as 0.6 percent, and have advanced 3.5 percent this week. Employers in the U.S. probably created as many jobs in May as in the month before, a Bloomberg survey showed before the Labor Department’s report today. WTI’s discount to the European benchmark, Brent, widened for the first time in three days. WTI may slide next week, according to a separate Bloomberg survey.

“We are expecting a seasonal pick-up in demand in the coming months,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil-market analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., a consulting company in London. “The U.S. recovery has been broadly on track so far. The labor market is healing and the economy is slowly getting better.”

Oil markets oversupplied amid 'staggering' US shale boom: BP's Ruhl

London (Platts) - The global oil market remains currently oversupplied helped by "staggering" US production gains which are eating into the demand for OPEC's oil, according to BP's chief economist, Christof Ruhl.

Booming volumes of unconventional light, tight oil output from the US are forcing OPEC to consider idling more of its production capacity in order to prop up oil prices, Ruhl said late Thursday.

"The production numbers for the US are quite staggering, so far they have always surprised to the upside," Ruhl said on the sidelines of a conference organized by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.

Chicago gas prices, highest in U.S., continue climb

Average gas prices in Chicago are now higher than anywhere in the United States, driven higher by a combination of refinery issues and the annual transition to a more costly summer blend.

Drivers in the city are now paying an average of $4.55 a gallon, according to AAA, which is 20 cents higher than a week ago. On this day last year, drivers were paying $4.12 per gallon.

The city still hasn’t reached the record per-gallon price of $4.68 a gallon, a mark set on March 27 of last year.

Texas oil, gas stabilized at high level

Oil and gas exploration and development in Texas this year has stabilized at a relatively high level while sustaining modest growth, according to the latest Texas Petro Index, an uncommon economic condition that benefits producers and consumers alike, a petroleum economist said.

Malaysian exports go down

Kuala Lumpur (IANS) Malaysia's exports recorded a 3.3 percent drop in April, mainly due to decreased exports to its major trading partner like China and Japan, according to the external trade figure released Friday.

..."The lower exports in April 2013 was mainly due to reduced exports of crude petroleum, electrical and electronic products primarily electronic integrated circuits as well as petroleum products," the International Trade and Industry Ministry said in a statement.

Mexico Weighing Profit Sharing in Oil Overhaul, Ambassador Says

Opening Mexico’s oil industry requires changing the constitution, and the Pena Nieto administration is weighing profit-sharing contracts for private companies, said Eduardo Medina Mora, the ambassador to the U.S.

Allowing profit-sharing agreements is one of “several routes that could be followed” in the energy overhaul proposal that the government is drafting to submit to congress in the second half of the year, Medina Mora said.

Wintershall's Libya oil output still below pre-war levels

OSLO (Reuters) - BASF-owned oil company Wintershall hasn't been able to raise its Libyan oil production to pre-civil war levels because of lingering infrastructure problems, and protests could continue to disrupt the country's exports.

The firm now produces 85,000 barrels per day and this year aims to get production back to the 100,000 barrels per day it had before the war in 2011, Uwe Salge, Wintershall's general manager in Libya, told Reuters.

Gazprom Neft, Japan to start Siberia oil output in 2016

(Reuters) - Gazprom Neft and Japan's JOGMEC will start jointly producing oil in East Siberia in 2016, the head of the Russian company said on Friday.

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom , and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp last year agreed to team up in the Chonsk project to develop oil and gas in East Siberia, a region with huge untapped hydrocarbon reserves.

Urals Exports Plunge as Russia Refiners Keep Oil

Russia’s refiners are processing so much of the country’s Urals crude that exports via the Baltic Sea have tumbled to the lowest in 20 months, driving prices close to parity with Brent.

Shipments from Primorsk, Russia’s largest port on the Baltic, will be 953,000 barrels a day in June, down from a five-year average of 1.4 million, a loading program obtained by Bloomberg showed. The grade sold for 3 cents a barrel less than Dated Brent in northwest Europe as of June 4, the smallest discount since August, when it traded at a premium.

Petrobras’s Biggest Oil Discovery Brings Cost Concerns

For Petrobras, more oil means more investments and debt for a company that already has the world’s second-biggest spending plan and is stretched for staff and equipment. The Rio de Janeiro-based producer will pay a multi-billion-dollar signing bonus for Libra at a time it sacrifices revenue from fuel sales as part of a government policy to curb inflation. Petrobras has sold imported gasoline and diesel at a loss since late 2010.

“They haven’t got a shortage of reserves, so another new find isn’t going to move the needle,” Nick Robinson, the head of Brazilian equities at Aberdeen Asset Management, which has about $15 billion in Latin American shares including Petrobras, said by telephone. “The big issue for Petrobras is cash flow generation.”

Russia proposes auctioning spare capacity on German OPAL gas pipeline

Moscow (Platts) - Russia has proposed to the European Commission that spare capacity on the OPAL pipeline, which transports Russian gas from the Nordstream pipeline through Germany to the Czech-German border, could be auctioned off, to comply with the EU's Third Energy Package rules, energy minister Alexander Novak said late Thursday.

"Now we are looking at a variant which would suit both the European and Russian sides. This concerns firstly the option to put up for auction by companies which are developing the OPAL pipeline, including Gazprom, surplus gas shipping capacity," Novak said in an interview broadcast on the state-run TV network Russia 24.

Mexico's Pemex says losing up to 10,000 bpd to oil theft

(Reuters) - Crude oil theft at Mexico's state oil monopoly, Pemex, amounts to as much as 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) and has been rising by nearly a third annually, a top official with the company said on Thursday.

"It's between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels per day," Carlos Morales, head of Pemex's exploration and production arm, said on the sidelines of an oil conference in the resort city of Cancun.

Centrica Said Close to Buying U.K. Shale From Cuadrilla

Centrica Plc is close to buying a stake in shale gas fields in England, a person with knowledge of the matter said, placing the U.K.’s largest energy supplier at the center of efforts to start producing the fuel.

Erdogan Can Win By Engaging Turkey’s Park Protesters

Every turn confirms that this protest is mainly about Erdogan’s increasingly take-it-or-leave-it style, the excessive brutality of the police, and a slew of huge projects and initiatives that threaten to limit secular lifestyles and to concrete over not just Istanbul’s Gezi Park, but also whole forests and city districts.

Anger was already mounting in Istanbul over a Roma neighborhood cleared for gated compounds, a 19th-century district near Taksim forcibly nationalized for redevelopment and a much-loved old central cinema peremptorily destroyed to make way for yet another shopping mall. In recent weeks, Erdogan pushed forward with plans to build a third Istanbul airport where a forest now stands, a grand mosque that would be visible from the whole city, plus a new bridge over the Bosporus with associated highways that would plow through yet more woodland. A vast land-reclamation project in the Marmara Sea and a shipping canal parallel to the Bosporus are also planned.

India expected to further cut Iran crude oil imports

Iranian crude imports to India are expected to continue to decline this year, as the country secured a fresh six-month waiver from the United States on sanctions against Iran this week, analysts say.

"India has reduced its dependence on crude oil imports from Iran to 13.3 million tonnes, 7.3 per cent of crude oil imports, in 2012-2013 from 18 million tonnes, 10.5 per cent of crude oil imports, the previous year," said Mayur Matani, an oil and gas analyst at ICICI Securities.

Myanmar as Economic Miracle Hinges on Natural Gas Bounty

Myanmar’s opening to foreign investment has been compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of an economic growth story to emulate Vietnam. How those views pan out will be largely decided by natural gas.

Aging Nations Like Low Prices Over High Income: Cutting Research

Singapore-based economist Andrew Cates of the Swiss bank’s global macro team plotted average inflation levels over the last five years against changes in the dependency ratio, which compares the very old and very young to the working-age population.

The resulting chart showed nations that have aged in recent years typically faced very low inflation and, in the case of Japan, deflation. By contrast, those that have been getting younger, such as India, Turkey and Brazil, have relatively strong price pressures.

“Since aging demographics will now start to feature more prominently in the outlook for many major developed and developing countries this is clearly of some significance for how inflation might evolve,” said Cates in a May 30 report.

U.S. to Lease Federal Waters for Commercial Offshore Wind Energy

WASHINGTON — The federal government will hold the first lease sale for commercial offshore wind energy projects at the end of July, the Interior Department announced on Tuesday.

Interior official hears wide range of views on oil drilling in Arctic

Anchorage — Against the backdrop of Royal Dutch Shell's troubled 2012 attempt to drill in the Arctic Ocean, a top Interior official -- and former Alaskan -- heard the gamut of views Thursday about whether and how oil companies can safely drill offshore in the Alaska Arctic.

No drilling at all, said the Sierra Club.

Clear and consistent standards, said the oil companies and industry groups.

The Department of the Interior for the first time is crafting specific rules for oil and gas exploration and production offshore in the Arctic. While Shell was operating under special conditions, such as a ban on drilling into oil-rich zones without a spill containment system, those requirements don't automatically extend to other oil companies.

Canadian Utility Finds a Use for Detroit’s Pile of Oil Sands Byproduct

OTTAWA — In something resembling a bottle return program, Detroit’s enormous petroleum coke pile, a byproduct of Canadian oil sands, is making its way back to Canada.

A Canadian electrical power plant, owned by Nova Scotia Power, is chipping away at the three-story-high, blocklong pile of petroleum coke on Detroit’s waterfront. The company is burning the high-carbon, high-sulfur waste product because it is cheaper than natural gas.

Student Loan Bill Had Pipeline Implications

A little-noticed part of U.S. Senate Democrats’ effort to freeze the interest rates on federal student loans could have implications for the debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The legislation, which stalled today on a procedural vote, would end a tax exemption on bitumen, the heavy form of crude mined in Canada’s oil sands.

Drones count down to takeoff in Alaska’s oilfields

No pilot was required when the Aeryon Scout took off into the leaden skies of Alaska to inspect a stretch of oil pipeline. The miniature aircraft was guided by an engineer on the ground, armed only with a tablet computer.

The 20-minute test flight, conducted by BP Plc last fall, was a glimpse of a future where oil and gas companies in the Arctic can rely on unmanned aircraft to detect pipeline faults, at a fraction of the cost of piloted helicopter flights.

Indigenous Peruvians protest state oil company taking over their land

Members of the Achuar people say they won't allow Petroperu to enter their territory, but the company has other ideas.

B.C. Premier says new cabinet puts focus on natural gas; includes surprising picks

VICTORIA — B.C. Premier Christy Clark says the new cabinet she introduces today includes ministers responsible for driving her government’s plans to develop British Columbia’s natural gas industry and oversee what she’s calling a line-by-line review of government spending.

B.C. opposition to Northern Gateway puts focus on west-east pipeline: Alward

FREDERICTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford says Canada’s biggest challenge is to improve access to international markets as she steps up efforts to promote a proposal to ship oil to Eastern Canada.

Redford spoke to the New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton today, where she said Alberta’s lack of direct access to a coastal shipping route contributed to a $6-billion slide in her province’s revenues this year.

Northern Gateway riches would benefit British Columbia’s LNG, Enbridge says

CALGARY – Enbridge Inc., battling stubborn resistance to its Northern Gateway pipeline on Canada’s West Coast, is tying the fortunes of the project to British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas industry.

Abe’s Power Plan Lifts Renewables at Utilities Expense

Shinzo Abe’s pledge to spur 30 trillion yen ($302 billion) of investment in Japan’s electricity industry opens the way for a surge in clean energy projects at the expense of traditional utilities.

The prime minister endorsed proposals to deregulate an industry that produces power mostly from fossil fuels, as well as boost competition among generators and make it easier for wind and solar energy to be distributed to consumers. His speech yesterday in Tokyo didn’t mention restarting nuclear plants closed since the earthquake in 2011.

Socal Edison Retiring San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will close.

The announcement that Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors will retire was made by Southern California Edison early Friday.

Strong demand for electric vehicles leaves supplies short

A lease-price war is causing a run on battery-powered cars, and some models have even sold out in Southern California.

Russia’s First Hybrid Power Plant Launched in Siberia

YAILYU (RIA Novosti) - Russia’s first hybrid diesel/solar power plant was launched Friday in south-central Siberia.

Bill Would Sweeten Loans for Energy-Efficient Homes

Home buyers purchasing energy-efficient properties could qualify for larger mortgages than their incomes would normally allow under a Senate bill reintroduced Thursday with broad real estate industry support.

The measure would allow lenders to include projected energy savings from efficiency upgrades when measuring the borrower’s income against expenses and the value of the home against the debt. In addition to giving borrowers larger loans in new purchases and refinancings, it could also lower their interest rates.

Tesla Is Worse Than Solyndra

How the U.S. government’s bungled investment in the car company cost taxpayers at least $1 billion.

U.K. to Share More Wind-Power Wealth With Local Residents

The U.K. will give residents more say over onshore wind farms and higher payments to communities affected by them, an effort to heal a rift over the technology that’s divided lawmakers and sparked local resistance.

Wind farm developers must pay 5,000 pounds ($7,721) a megawatt each year to communities that host projects, a five-fold increase from the current rate, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a statement today.

Market Realities

These days, “fracking” is almost a household word. Half a dozen years ago few had even heard of this rupturous, explosive method for fuel extraction. Back then, the energy mantra was “go green”. People worried about peak oil; now we wonder if the bounteous fuel output is harming aquifers. Today, electricity costs are fairly level. Historically low-cost natural gas is piping forth in abundance.

So, with such competition, how are projects for solar, wind, and other alternative energy faring?

For some insight, here’s a discussion with participants in renewable energy work, who talk about projects that adapt to “the new generation” of onsite power market realities.

Solar energy plan no space oddity

Peter Glaser, who worked with Nasa on numerous experiments carried out in space or on the moon, is credited as the first person to have proposed a method for creating space-based energy that could be beamed back to earth.

He did so back in 1968 and received a patent for his idea five years later. His concept, in short, was to have a satellite that could harness solar energy from the sun, convert it into microwave frequencies and then zap it back as energy to the earth's surface, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a professional group.

Gravity of challenges is not to be underestimated

Launching a satellite into space to capture energy from the sun is a bold enough idea.

But, in this increasingly interconnected world, global politics and business trends are representing a growing challenge to researchers and financial backers in this market.

From a cost perspective, it might be best for a company or government body to build a launching facility on a Pacific island near the equator, says Philip Chapman, a former Nasa scientist who is a proponent of this movement. Yet, he warns, "it'll also give that organisation or country strong advances of military uses in space".

"There are issues here about national security," says Mr Chapman.

Apple does a 180 with suppliers in China

FORTUNE -- Ma Jun, the noted Chinese environmental activist, says Apple has gone in a short period of time from being the most uncooperative of electronics companies to "one of the most proactive IT suppliers" of all.

Speaking at a panel on supply-chain trends at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China, Ma practically gushed about Apple's change in behavior. He said that when his group, the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, initially approached 29 big Western brands about cooperating with its environmental work, 28 responded -- all but Apple. "They said they had a long-term policy against" participating with such groups. Things changed after Ma's group published two reports critical of Apple. "They approached us," he said. "They said, 'We need transparency.'"

Why we need 202-story skyscrapers

FORTUNE -- Today, for the first time, more people worldwide live in cities than in the countryside. What's often missed in this equation is how fast this trend will accelerate. Take China. Currently 650 million people, or 52% of the population, now live in cities. Fast-forward only ten years or so and that number is expected to hit one billion. That means that some 350 million people, the equivalent of the entire population of the U.S., will move from the Chinese countryside into urban areas. The number of Chinese cities with a million or more people will hit 221.

This migration presents a challenge. China's urban dwellers on average consume three times more energy than rural ones. That means we must design new cities and rebuild old ones in ways that will allow billions to live, drive, eat, and work sustainably. At today's session on Rethinking Our Cities at Fortune's Global Forum in Chengdu, Zhang Yue, the CEO of Broad Group, a maker of energy equipment and a real estate development company, said that we have to totally redefine what it means to live in cities.

"People don't want to have to get on trains or drive a car to get to work," he said. One solution: Zhang plans to lick the urban congestion problem by building up. His proposed high-rise prefab in Hunan Province called Sky City will soar 202 stories to a height of 838 meters.

The Best and Simplest Way to Fight Global Poverty

Proof that giving cash to poor people, no strings attached, is an amazingly powerful tool for boosting incomes and promoting development.

Farm Subsidies Leading to More Water Use

A study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, this year concluded that Kansas farmers who received payments under the conservation subsidy were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.

Another study by researchers at New Mexico State University in 2008, which studied an area running from Colorado to New Mexico, came to the same conclusion.

“Policies aimed at reducing water applications can actually increase water depletions,” the researchers said.

World Wheat Harvest Seen at Record High on Europe and Black Sea

The world will reap its biggest wheat crop ever in the coming season as larger harvests in Europe and the Black Sea region lift stockpiles, according to the Agricultural Market Information System.

Production will climb to 702 million metric tons in the 2013-14 season starting July 1 from 659 million tons in 2012-13, Rome-based AMIS, which was set up by Group of 20 countries, wrote in an online report today. That will rebuild inventories and reduce trade as importers in Asia and Europe grow more of the grain at home, the report showed.

Genetically Altered Wheat in Oregon Comes as No Surprise

One week after the revelation that an Oregon farmer had found genetically engineered wheat growing in his fields, scientists remain mystified over how the strain — apparently the remains of a test crop shut down a dozen years ago — got there.

But few are surprised. Even with extensive precautions, gene-altered plants turn up in unwanted places regularly enough that farmers have come to consider a few of them weeds, and even a threat to their livelihood.

Peak soil: industrial civilisation is on the verge of eating itself

A new report says that the world will need to more than double food production over the next 40 years to feed an expanding global population. But as the world's food needs are rapidly increasing, the planet's capacity to produce food confronts increasing constraints from overlapping crises that, if left unchecked, could lead to billions facing hunger.

Plans for Subdivision May Threaten Bat Colony

SAN ANTONIO — As the sun sets every summer night at Bracken Cave in the Hill Country, a vortex of Mexican free-tailed bats rushes forth. For as long as four hours a night, a stream of bats leaves the cave to dart south, over the tree line, to hunt. The scene at the cave is repeated in reverse at dawn, when the bats return.

Making up the largest colony of flying mammals in the world, the bats can number as many as 20 million. But a plan to build a subdivision near the cave has conservationists worried about the colony’s fate.

4 Topics Clean Energy And Climate Change For Obama and Xi

While many people are skeptical that China can break its fossil fuel dependence, Chinese officials have repeatedly affirmed they would grow the country’s share of clean energy and curtail its greenhouse gas emissions. This commitment is reflected by the energy and carbon intensity and clean energy targets under its 12th Five Year Plan. And, there are recent signs of progress. For instance, China is planning to launch its first pilot regional carbon trading system later this month. While this project is not expected to reduce emissions on its own, it offers an important testing ground for how emissions can be reduced cost-effectively.

Furthermore, it’s clear that China has several reasons to embrace clean energy. Beyond its economic goals, China is motivated by its concerns over energy security, a desire to improve local environmental conditions, the impacts of climate change, and the opportunity to display greater leadership on the global stage.

Greens put carbon tax back on the table

(BusinessDesk) - The Green Party is considering whether to revert to support for a carbon tax to force climate change behaviour changes, given the failure to date of local and global emissions trading scheme to place a meaningful price on carbon emissions.

The proposal emerges in a discussion paper issued at a Green Party-sponsored climate change conference at Parliament, which has attracted a who's who of New Zealand climate scientists, thinkers and policy-makers.

Hungary next to fear surging Danube, as Elbe floods eastern Germany

(CNN) -- Hungary has been warned it could suffer its worst floods ever, as record levels are expected over the next three days from the surging River Danube, which has already inundated parts of Germany, Austria and Slovakia.

In Flooded Europe, Familiar Feelings and New Questions

MEISSEN, Germany — Andrea Bahrmann refused to talk about what it cost to rebuild 11 years ago, after the floodwaters of the Elbe reached record levels, bursting over the banks and devastating this riverside city near Dresden in eastern Germany. On Thursday, she wavered between anger and dismay as she watched the river’s surging brown water rise once again to record levels, drowning her house to the windowsills.

As a native of this city, famed for its fine porcelain, Ms. Bahrmann echoed the words of many who live along the major rivers of Central Europe as torrents of rain have produced another once-in-a-lifetime disaster, barely a decade after the last.

Antarctic ice loss less severe than previous IPCC estimates: research

New research by a group of international scientists has found ice sheet loss in Antarctica is likely to be less extreme than previously thought.

The review - published in the journal Nature - confirms that Antarctica and Greenland are both losing ice and contributing to rising sea levels.

But it found that Greenland is losing twice as much ice as Antarctica, and that Antarctic ice loss is likely to be less extreme than previously suggested.

Warming World: It's Time to Give Up the 2 Degree Target

Limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, as called for by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has become patently unrealistic. Political will is lacking, and emissions continue to increase. The target needs to be revised.

Infographic: This Is What's Causing Climate Change

Cars are, predictably, the biggest individual contributor. But the next biggest? Deforestation. Chopping down forests doesn't just make our land less pretty or put plant and animal species at risk: it reduces the planet's natural ability to filter out our garbage in the air.

Up Top
Peak water limiting energy production

Many thermal power plants are currently shut down here for lack of water due to the ongoing drought in parts of India. Turns out that water is a more critical resource than coal, natural gas or oil.

West Texas Oilfield Town Runs Out of Water

...Nanny said he had checked for a leak but had not found one. The Barnhart area has been hard-hit by drought, he said, just as surging oil and gas drilling activities have increased local water demands. Barnhart was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal owing to the increase in oil boom-related railroad traffic through the town. (Incidentally, Barnhart's backup water well was drilled by the railroad in the early 1900s, Nanny said.)...

...The residents of Barnhart are “pretty P.O.'d” about the water situation, Baker said.


Why is solar such a slow burner in India, distributed generation and storage, possibly using flow batteries or compressed air, this combination is the answer to many of India's power problems surely.

They have a few other problems to solve first.

Good Lord...

If the populace has no more respect for their infrastructure than this, why should anyone else give a damm?

This is the kind of lack of respect for public facilities I expect to find in government-subsidized ( i.e. some politician is stiffing someone else to pay the bill ) areas of the United States.

As an engineer who studied long and hard to learn how to make our world a better place, photos like that which show such a disrespect for public infrastructure built by other engineers, well, it just makes me sick.

I have seen it over here too, and it makes me furious that our government can look the remaining productive citizens in the eye and assess us tax to "provide" for people who do stuff like this. As far as I am concerned, I would love to see the public-at-large give enough concern for the infrastructure which is put in place to make life easier for them that they will care for it, and self-police those who mess it up.

I probably should not post with the state of mind that photograph put me in.

The people who "do stuff like that" do it because they can't afford to pay for electricity. They are illegally tapping into the grid.

There's an article about it here. Though the illegal taps in slums are the most visible, middle class people and big industry steal even more. The article says between a third to one-half of the electricity supply in India is stolen.

The article dates from 2006, and things might be different now.

"This is the kind of lack of respect for public facilities I expect to find in government-subsidized ( i.e. some politician is stiffing someone else to pay the bill ) areas of the United States."

What areas of the United States would that be? I've been all over the USA and I have never seen such a mess of electrical lines in any area.

My guess would be that this is the result of poor people tapping into nearby electrical lines to get "free" electricity. Since the users of this stolen electrical power will be very close-by, it should not require a major investigation to see who is doing the stealing. Exactly why local authorities allow this practice to persist (wherever it does) I have no idea?

It wasn't power lines in the USA I see so much disrespected... rather its disrespected public toilets and defaced architecture. But seeing the obvious trash up in the lines, that's what got my goat. It irritates me to think someone went to the trouble to provide a convenience ( often a highly needed convenience ), only to have someone wantonly render it useless, as if to consider it a punishment for providing such a thing. It makes me think of entire groups of people as somehow being more vermin than human.

I can see poor people trying to steal power. Unfortunately, that's the human condition. We will take whatever we can get away with, and everyone, not just the poor, does it. The upper classes just have more genteel ways of doing it with pens, made-up "rights", and paid-for legislation, but its theft never-the-less.

It's not rendered useless. It's still perfectly functional.

The trash may have simply been blown there, rather than intentionally put there. If your shirt blows off your high-rise clothesline and ends up in the power lines, you are probably not going to try and retrieve it.

Here in the US, kids often throw their old shoes over powerlines (with the laces tied together, so they can hang over the line, one shoe on each side). I don't see anything in the photo that could reasonably be tossed up like that.

I don't see vandalism in that photo, just theft. And the trash that is ever present in cities.

It's the vandalism in state parks that gets me. People are doing it just to put the photos on Twitter. No other benefit. Tagging ancient trees with graffiti, writing their names on Native American petroglyphs. That Chinese teen got the wrath of the world for writing his name on an Egyptian antiquity, but we've got plenty at home like him.

The tied shoes over the line are also an advertising sign for the local dealer.


Apparently that used to be true - but no one knows that history any more, so kids just do it for the hell of it.

I'm afraid they still do it around here:(


I have bee posting stories about the situation in my neck of the woods, where electricity theft is a big problem. In a response in one thread, I posted a comment that includes the following:

The fact of the matter is that, many of the people who steal electricity can't afford to pay for it, certainly they cannot pay enough to run fridges. Yet politicians over the years have given potential voters the impression that they have a right to electricity, as well as health care, education and housing, regardless of whether the individuals are in a position to pay for it.

I'm pretty sure that I would have also posted this:

EDITORIAL - It's more than electricity theft

Further, Jamaica's perennially weak economy, with its high rates of joblessness and underemployment, means that electricity, at its real cost, is beyond the effective demand of many consumers, who nonetheless have expectations of it. So, they steal it and have, in the process, been enabled by the Government, as was all but admitted by Roger Clarke, the agriculture minister, in relation to whole communities on sugar estates that were allowed to tap into government entities for their electricity.

This is, at once, reflective of a kind of blind-eye social welfare and a breakdown of law and order. Theft becomes normal. Attempts to break the cycle often erupt in violence.

The comments give further insight into the problem. Note that most of the islands sugar estates were nationalised in the 70s during a period of fairly intense anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist sentiment held by the then ruling party, hence the use of the term "government entities" to refer to sugar estates.

So the one word answer as to

Exactly why local authorities allow this practice to persist (wherever it does)

is, VOTES.

Alan from the islands

You see that only in the densest parts of the old cities where people live cheek by jowl, new layouts don't have this issue. I haven't seen this thing in years.

Because of the usual third world problems (inefficiencies, corruption) and the fact that it still costs a bomb (for a poor Indian) to setup the house to run entirely on solar, however at a small scale solar is being adopted. I was surprised to see the number of solar lanterns on a trip through the countryside. The govt also provides subsidies.

Anyone have any insight regarding transplanting trees - as in digging them up and moving them? I'm wondering what the pros/cons are relative to size, say 1-2' vs. 5-6' vs 10-12'. Can't imagine going any larger than that. And yes, this is directly related to 'energy and our future'. I'm going to be in charge of a project to place trees in proximity to numerous summer use only buildings to ameliorate the increasing need for cooling as the climate warms, which need was minimal in past decades, but grows ever more dire as the years pass.


1-2 year old saplings are easier to dig up and plant. They may not need to be watered after transplanting. The bigger transplants need to be watered for a number of years until all of those roots you chopped off grow back out.

One thing you might want to consider (but maybe have) is planting different trees (when mature) to the east and west of the buildings than the side facing the equator.

Shorter trees facing east and west help block the lower angle sun early and late in the day, while taller trees on the equator side deal with the higher middle of the day sun. You could get some of this effect by adjusting how close to the building you plant the trees (planting the equator side trees closer than the east west trees, to get that shade up and over the building).

Some species are easier to transplant than others. Those with a deep central taproot (eg most oaks) can be problematic unless you move them when very small. I've had the best luck with the 5 - 6' class. I've planted a couple in the 10' range, but they never did as well as the smaller transplants. After 5 years or so the smaller trees had actually overtaken the larger trees that had had about a two year head start. And as I'm sure you're aware, make sure the soil conditions are appropriate in the new location(s).



If the site is favorable the smaller transplant will almost always be larger after a few years. It can send out straight roots that are optimized for the site instead of having to contort existing roots which may then choke themselves as they increase in diameter. However if there is root competition a large hole is required in either case, so the required effort may well be the same.

Tasty leaves may require taller plants with a branch or two that are out of reach of predators, otherwise they will rarely grow more than head high.

This is a major investment in time if nothing else, so consult a professional. Depending on where you live, if your county extension agent (in the US) is still funded, he or she may have good advice for free, and may be able to sell saplings (or give them away to encourage native and naturalized tree repopulation).

As far as sourcing, buy whips. It's an age old arguement, but I favor the growth rate of bare root whips and saplings over bigger root balled trees. Forget transplanting on your own. It's too expensive in terms of time and fuel compared to inexpensive, small whips.

Some more tree stuff from my place below, but if you live in a zone where they thrive, the Crepe Myrtle, in my opinion is the fastest growing, most wind firm woody plant you can put close to a building for shade. They must be pruned to 3 or 5 main trunks, but they can go close and go big. They are simply the best in my book. I have them close in around my place for "instant shade" (in terms of tree time, they are nearly instant anyway)

As an ameture tree buff and new home owner, here's what I did (Zone 7 USDA, soon to be Zone 8 for sure).

- planted fast growing, wind firm, long-lifespan trees along the west and south west side to kill off the afternoon sun in the summer. the trees are bald cypress and dawn redwood. they drop foliage in the fall and allow the suns winter warmth to heat up the house in the afternoon. five years on, the tallest is around 20 feet. in another five i will have shade (or the next owner will provided they don't go back to "lawn")

- the east side has a few evergreens to block winter winds and two more tall fast growers to block summer morning sun. (went with nanjing-beauty, a hybrid test tree out of china there, as well putting them in a few other places)

- north side has more screening trees

- due south has some slower growing hardwoods and fruit trees (fast movers, prone to damage though)

You might want to look for fast growing trees -or even shrubs and vines. The time it takes to reach a decent shade producing height can be fairly long otherwise.

Thanks, all, for the tips. I think you've convinced me to 'go small'. We're going to try some of our own transplants, most likely of white pine & sugar maple, since that's what there are mostly around the campus anyway. Then we'll follow up with 'store bought' trees as needed. This is in northern NY's Adirondacks. Yes, we'll be planting largely on the west side to reduce summer afternoon impact. Nothing on the south, and the east already has shade on many of these buildings. Also going to be planting for shade of athletic fields & playing courts, again, largely on west sides. In addition to the natives, a couple of species have struck my fancy. Tulip (yellow) poplars are meant to be fast growing. And there's an effort to re-introduce the American Chestnut in hybridized form, and this property used to have some glorious ones, before my time. Should be a fun project, and hopefully leave something to benefit those who will follow me. Over my 52 years, I've seen many trees go to storms, disease and cutting, but few/none to take their place. Makes for a very different campus. We're out to change that.

I built wooden "awnings" to go above my south facing windows. Cuts about half of the solar for them. I shoulda used two way (wood & machine screw bolts) so they could be seasonally attached and removed for winter. You can build shade about a hundred times faster than nature can grow it.

Yes, absolutely shade can be built faster than grown. And they have been doing that. This is a traditional Adirondack summer camp. In my youth, it was a cool, naturally shaded collection of meadows on a ridge. These days, with a whole lot less trees and the ubiquitous 'shade pavillions' built to replace them, it's beginning to more resemble a suburban park anywhere. Sad. But this project is an effort to reverse that trend.

We planted a weeping willow six or seven years ago, and are shocked by the speed of its growth. It's now 20 feet high with a 10 inch trunk, in a location with plenty of water and sun. Within months after planting as a sapling, a storm took off the entire top half down to the trunk and we though it was a goner.

Tulip Poplars and Catalpas are amazing in that regard too. Both are beautiful and effective shade trees too. We have a Catalpa that is about 100 years old right next to the house, and I know it will need to be taken down soon. It is too big and too close for me to take down so I will have to hire someone, which will be expensive. I will be very sad to lose it and our house will be much hotter in the summer until I get another established. The flowers are about to pop out - a monster of a tree all covered in beautiful white and violet flowers, it is quite a show!

What about pollarding it or is the base of the trunk in too bad a state?


Yes, it's the base I'm worried about. It's quite hollow - catalpas often are and it is not necessarily a problem, but at 100yo this tree is older than they typically get.

Weeping Willow trees are water/sewer pipe seeking-destroying missiles - beware of where you plant them.

Interesting article on how automated trading hit declining marginal returns...

How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading's Rise and Fall

For the first time since its inception, high-frequency trading, the bogey machine of the markets, is in retreat. According to estimates from Rosenblatt Securities, as much as two-thirds of all stock trades in the U.S. from 2008 to 2011 were executed by high-frequency firms; today it’s about half. In 2009, high-frequency traders moved about 3.25 billion shares a day. In 2012, it was 1.6 billion a day. Speed traders aren’t just trading fewer shares, they’re making less money on each trade. Average profits have fallen from about a tenth of a penny per share to a twentieth of a penny.

According to Rosenblatt, in 2009 the entire HFT industry made around $5 billion trading stocks. Last year it made closer to $1 billion. By comparison, JPMorgan Chase earned more than six times that in the first quarter of this year. The “profits have collapsed,” says Mark Gorton, the founder of Tower Research Capital, one of the largest and fastest high-frequency trading firms. “The easy money’s gone. We’re doing more things better than ever before and making less money doing it.”

From: An Empirical Perspective on the Energy Payback Time for Photovoltaic Mocules by Karl E. Knapp and Theresa L. Jester, Solar 2000, Madison, June 2000.

Making a solar panel involved 2742 processes using 2857 materials in 2000, and fewer now. At the time of their study the norm for mono-crystalline panels were 200 micron thick cells sawn from mono-crystalline ingot. Today, proton induced exfoilation produces mono-crystalline cells 20 micron thick, with no sawing, and no kerf loss
In 2000, Knapp and Jester found 5713 kwh (including both materials and processing), were spent making 1 kwe of solar panel at 13% efficiency. Today, with proton induced exfoilation, auto cooling, and streamlined processing 1764 kwh are required to make 1 kwe of solar panel with 21% efficiency.
Today's panel has 62% of the area of one built in 2000 to make the same power, and uses 5% of the silicon required back then. Knapp and Jester found PV panel EROEI = 7.6 in 2000,
and today PV panels EROEI = 24.6,

due to thinner silicon cells, streamlined processing, and less area per Kwe.

In Life Cycle Energy Cost of Gas Turbine Power, P.J. Meier and G.L. Kulcinski, Madison, WI,2000, the authors calculated the EROEI of Gas Turbine power, including the cost of extracting and transporting the gas to the plant, constructing the plant, operating same, and decommissioning same. I added the cost of transmission and distribution of the power to their findings. The results are as follows:
Gas at well head EROEI = 7.8
Gas at plant EROEI = 4.6
Net energy of electricity leaving plant EROEI= 1.75
Net energy delivered to consumer EROEI = 1.18


It looks like this a very new technology from a single production equipment manufacturer - Twin Creek. Is it being adopted by the mainstream PV manufacturers now? With the much thinner cells, will something different have to be done in panel construction to maintain crystal mechanical integrity in the real-world conditions of careless contractors, thermal expansion/contraction, and hail?

today PV panels EROEI = 24.6

Yawn , I really miss that modest and down to earth guy Daniel Yergin

Don't solar panels last forever? So the input energy is finite and the output energy is infinite.


But it seems clear enough that they last a lot longer than most roofing materials you can buy, so you might well be able to get an extra return from them if you used them as BOTH your power source and as your Shingles.

They also seem to have double or triple the operational lifespan of any vehicle or major appliance one can get..

We don't need to insist on infinity.. we do need to decide when something is 'Enough'.

Something you don't see much discussion of. If the solar panels last longer than the roof/shingles, is the cost of taking down the hardware and panels factored in when the roof needs to be replaced. And then of course reinstalled.

That is a very good point. Best not to skimp on the quality of the roofing material.

Your shibles may last longer under the panels from shading. What we need though is the panels used as the roofing.


That's good. Scalping (another word for HFT) doesn't add value to society because it doesn't add liquidity. If anything, it increases the volatility in quantity of stock available to buy or sell. Every dollar made by HFT comes out off the pocket of your pension fund/mutual fund/insurance company. They don't "make money", they transfer money.


So what ever happened to all that talk following Black Monday 1987 about the evils of program trading anyway? Here we are 26 years later. Did the "smartest guys in the room" end up deciding to blame something else so they could go back to making money for nothing?

I doubt that the people creating these algorithms have even the slightest idea about the stability margin of the resulting dynamical system.

totally different beasts.

Back in 1987 - which were the dark ages as far as modern finance is concerned- the idea was stock investors could replicate call option profile with respect to their portfolio. Limited downside and unlimited upside. To do that they had a "program" that would sell stock as the market went down and buy as it went up. Of course this was a good idea for the first few investors who tried this approach. Of course when a whole bunch of people thought they were the smartest in the room for having adopted this "riskless" investment strategy they discovered the joy of non-continuous markets which blows up the the underlying premise of option pricing models.

HFT is just trying to get between the wall paper and the wall to make a tiny profit on billions of shares.

It does raise the question of whether the real problem that the developed economies are facing has less to do with the price of oil and more to do with the fact that so much of economic activity is the parasitic - most of the banking industry, real estate agents etc come to mind. Perhaps the parasites are overwhelming the host.

Perhaps the parasites are overwhelming the host.

As one of the blind men stumbling about and grabbing at different parts of the elephant at different times, I'll toss in my two cents worth. Whatever is standing there in front of us isn't a tree, or a snake or a brick wall...

Seems to me that since the host's life blood is/was cheap oil, which is requiring ever more energy and getting more expensive to get, then even if the number of parasites had remained the same, the beast would already be in a weakened state. Now add more and more parasites and at some point your host is bound to keel over and no amount of beating will ever get it to stand up again!

There was a study done not long ago

The New Economics Foundation said today that a study of the social impacts of several jobs revealed that City workers, advertising executives and tax advisers destroyed value, while hospital cleaners, childcare workers and staff in the waste-recycling industry gave much more to the country than they took out.

Well duh! Guess which segment of society is being paid less and less if not having their jobs done away with altogether? I think that big stinking pile sitting there in the middle of the room is actually elephant dung!

The system is working perfectly. The system's main goal is to sustain itself and therefore all who rely upon it. The only real conspiracy at work is the systemic failure of human nature to match up to idealism. In the end the long term goal of the financial system is to match unrealistic expectations to reality. The financial crisis is really a question about who will pay. Having a bunch of money 'disappear' is essential to the survival of a system where resources are already over-allocated. The diversion of money outside of the real economy is effectively a way to reduce consumption of real physical goods without the associated feelings of hardship. Think of it like a river which has been allocated to 300% of its possible flow.

Rising house prices are a tax on the young to pay for the old. The majority of people have to buy their way into the system and this represents double dipping by elders because their savings are essentially backed by loans towards housing and other 'safe' investment packages and their capital accrual is represented in large part by the nominal value of their homes over and above any loans. The recent push for retirement savings for the young also represents another transfer of wealth because it will enable the older generations to spend their savings without the value of said savings falling towards realistic levels.

If there were a story on the news about how younger people are enjoying tofu so much that they are avoiding meat at all costs then people would honestly sit up and take notice at such a strange trend taking over. Younger people aren't eating tofu as much as they are living a 'tofu existence' because the real experiences of life are being replaced by cheaper, artificial and less wholesome alternatives. The only thing which is better for younger people are the opportunities afforded by computers and the internet for entertainment whilst other more visceral experiences are being eroded. This is the behavioural sink which will destroy humanity because it represents the result of our ongoing energy crisis.

Take a look at this: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Funniest-Videos/552479714780967

It is surely some of the funniest things you could see but in my heart I feel sadness about how this represents the changes I am witnessing first hand in the cultural landscape.

Take note of the herbivore men in Japan because they represent a possible future for your grandchildren.


The major question of the age really is this: Who is going to pay and how are they going to pay the system to keep the system intact. I have said before the outside sheds and the inside crumbles when an empire comes apart, so the unrest in places like Syria is the shedding and the long term changes in humanity is the crumbling.

There is no system.

I didn't understand our present situation until I understood that peak oil will break the backs of the people who produce so little for so much gain (the top of the economic spectrum as well as the various classes of dependents), and, in response they will direct their anger toward the remaining productive working and middle classes and the result will be revolutions similar to what happened in Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

This will mark the end of the expansive Anglo-led world civilization which is 200 years old if not longer, and a return to what some in the distant future might refer to as a new dark age.

I for one see the writing on the wall and have decided to withdraw my support from the system, they'll just have to find another sucker.

The report said tax accountants were the most destructive, laying waste to £47 of value for every £1 they created. Elite City bankers (earning £1m plus bonuses) destroy £7 of value for every £1 they create and advertising executives wreck £11 of value for every £1 they are paid.

On the other hand, the report judged that waste-recycling workers generated £12 for every £1 spent on their wages. Childcare workers create between £7 and £9.50 of value for every £1 of pay and hospital cleaners create more than £10 in value for every £1 they receive in pay.

I wonder if you could set up a market for something equivalent to carbon credits? Call them Social Impact Credits.

If you create value you can sell your credits. If you destroy value, you have to buy credits to compensate.

So each banker has to buy 7 SICs. And each childcare worker has 7 SICs to sell.

It's a great idea except I can see all parties going to lawyers to dispute their credit rating, and lawyers' SICs are negative infinity. The market would implode.

IIRC portfolio insurance involved essentially buying puts, not calls against a long portfolio of equities. Part of the issue in '87 was that portfolio insurance was becoming more popular and the seller of options hedged themselves by selling futures. Obviously there is a (strong) relationship between equities and equity futures so as portfolio insurance kicked in and options were either exercised or rolled down in strike and out in maturity more futures needed to be sold by the option sellers to keep their books balanced. To add to the mess option volatility increased as the market went down increasing the number of futures which needed to be sold to be hedged.(option pricing is essentially a combination of how volatile a price series is and of how far your option is away from the strike price). As futures went down cash markets followed and what was designed by Leland, Rubenstein and O'Brien as insurance turned out to be a self-reinforcing cycle.
Sound familiar?
Hedging is a concept which can work for some parties if not everybody is doing it because somebody has to take the other side of the trade.
Ultimately the system has a certain amount of volatility and in total that volatility cannot be reduced, only redistributed.

HFT may have started out as trying to wedge oneself between the wall and the wallpaper but it has turned into a game of trying to manipulate other market participants by giving fake price signals through for example quote stuffing. In quote stuffing you issue a large number of quotes but if somebody "hits" you (wants to transact at the quote you issued) you cancel as much as you can and either don't or barely transact. A good site to that looks at this in detail is Nanex, a data provider (google it). IMHO a huge issue is that it moves prices by a fraction, which, looked at in isolation, is de minimus, but when you multiply it by the volume are significant dollars coming out of the pockets of, generally, "real money" (your pension fund and insurance company)and are transferred to a few people with very fast data connections and computing power.
Calling it parasitic is very kind.....

Perhaps the parasites are overwhelming the host.

That seems to be happening to Google. More and more irrelevant stuff is rising to the top.

One of these days *gasp* we'll have to rely on memory.

"doesn't add value to society"

This was my exact thought as I read that article. A farmer produces food, a bicycle maker makes bicycles, beer makers make beer, janitors keep the world from going to hell...and these "traders" just steal money legally.

Once upon a time "investing" meant looking at a company and going "I believe in that company and its products" and buying shares in that company - which the company issued to generate capital as either a start-up or to expand operations. As the company grew and profits grew, so did your investment in the company - its success was your success.

Now it's just gambling at best. Often times with an IPO it seems to be a golden parachute...build the company enough and issue an IPO, snatch the money and bail. Clean getaway.

Whenever shares are traded of a particular company the intrinsic value of the company (outside of a Modigliani / miller framework) doesn't change. No matter who owns the shares and no matter what the price of those shares is (within reason) the company has the makes the same widgets and has the same revenue/expense dynamics. Yet money gets transferred from the shareholders to the middlemen by means of commissions and bid/offer spreads. Trading stocks facilitates wealth transfer from owners of capital to middlemen but does not increase the size of the pie.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will close.

At the rate the old nuclear plants (SONGS & Kewanne) are closing, the new nuclear plants being built will barely cover the retirements.

It will be interesting to see if their are any grid problems in California due to San Onofre being off-line this summer.

And Crystal River too. There are several others at risk of being closed early.

San Onofre was offline last summer.


SONGS will be "Retired". Reuters has a good story about the plant and local (California) energy supply.
Warning! Reading required.


Reliability regulators say California already faces "operational challenges" from the shutdowns and that a prolonged heatwave could lead to rolling blackouts in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.

Best hopes for California to get through the summer without any blackouts.

"...from the shutdowns and that a prolonged heatwave could lead to rolling blackouts..."

What causes this heat? The Sun. What works well in the Sun? Solar panels. Need Moar Solar.

What causes this heat? When a high pressure weather system is stationary in the area around southern Utah (USA) the clockwise descending air is heated and sent west towards California creating what we call a Santa Ana. It's not always windy but winds can be 80 mph and with humidity at 10% or less the wildfires can be a problem, lookup "Cedar Fire".

"Santa Ana" are the local name but the phenomenon itself is generally called a "Chinook" wind (at least in not-Europe) and is caused by downslope adiabatic heating. High pressure systems can also bring "inversions" - this is the non-windy condition you're referring to - but all of these things are associated with bright, clear skies.

And we hope that there are not any power cuts around the retired nuclear power plants as they will need continuous external electricity supply for over 50 years before their spent fuel loads stop needing active cooling. Before its cool, failure of that power supply can be troublesome (witness Fukushima).

SONGS not being available this summer was already factored in. I think the threat is if very hot weather hits. I think they had a regional blackout last summer in far southern California. Tranmission capacity between
the far southe (San diego), the south LA, and the North isn't so high, so I think we (SF) will be OK.
Interestingly, yesterday I was ecstatic that the CAISO solar had hit 2000MW, today its at 2100 (just in time for a quick 2day heatwave).

There were two memorable heat waves in Southern California when daytime temps were 103 to 110F for seven to ten days. Plants and landscape trees died or were burned. The overnight low temp was 85 for a short time before sunrise.
The grid is really tested when there are high temps in the north and central parts of the State leaving less electricity available to be sent south.
Bonus comment. Death Valley California forecast temperature for Saturday June 08, 2013 is 121 degrees.

Yeah, less hazard of radioactive fallout for me.

Re: Solar energy plan no space oddity

The promoters of Space Based Solar Power are at it again. But, the top guy just made a serious blunder when he stated:

One of the issues with trying to tap the sun's rays from earth for power is that they are not always shining — namely at night, or when the sky is overcast.

"So space-based solar power has a significant advantage, because in space if you go to a high enough orbit the sun shines constantly," says Mr Mankins.

While correct in a general sense, the desired placement of a SBSP is at geostationary orbit. At that radius, there are periods during the year when the satellite passes thru the Earth's shadow, at which time the power output would drop to zero. One could imagine placing a satellite at a Lagrange point in space, but those are too far from Earth to provide power back on the ground, not to mention the timing problems with a satellite not situated in a geostationary orbit. This approach makes sense only as part of a space colony, which is another kettle of fish entirely. Maybe these deep thinkers are planning for the recovery of human life on Earth after some major die back event, such as the Nuclear Winter projected as the result of a small nuclear war between India and Pakistan or the impact of a large asteroid...

E. Swanson

The other mistake is that PV panels output reduced power under overcast skies, not no power.

... I understand - so the coal-fired backup powerplant only needs to crank up to 90% of capacity - Great.

Not necessarily, a new software package, developed as part of a PHD thesis in Ireland and which takes digitised GIS data as an input can now spit out so many potential pumped hydro sites that even if chemical storage doesn't come of age soon the renewables plus storage baseload offering is now within reach.

Studies of Vanadium Redox flow batteries as storage for distributed renewable generation are about to take place in three European countries later this year. The beauty of a flow battery is that as the electroylte is liquid therefore larger storage tanks overcome the current lowish energy density problem, which itself is months rather than years away from major improvements and of course the vanadium electrolyte never wears out and can be reused forever.

Fossil fuel dependency for electricity generation is a mindset problem at this stage rather a tech problem.

Isn't water going to be a problem in the future? It seems to me like unlimited pump storage isn't something you should count on.

In summertime at least, you rarely lose more than 50%.

A satellite in geosynchronous orbit will be in the Earth's shadow for less than 70 minutes per day for the three weeks before and after each equinox. That means the satellite would be in sunlight for nearly 8700 hours per year.

Check out figure 4 in this link.



It isn't even correct in a general sense. If the SBSPU (space based solar power unit) is in geostat orbit, the mirror focuses sunlight on the Earth, the spot of sunlight will be about 200 mi in diameter, due to the angular size of the Sun when observed from Earth. To capture that sunlight the on-Earth receiver will have to be 200 mi. in diameter. LEO (low Earth orbit) will give a spot size proportionately less according to the elevation. The orbit elevation of GPS satellites is about half geostat, so gives a required collector size "only" about 100 mi. Or, instead of a focusing mirror, one can propose photovoltaic panels in space, and use the electricity generated to pump a high power laser, in space, that is more narrowly focused than direct sunlight. I don't like either option. But, IMHO, geostat orbit is not a 'no brainer'.

If the SBSPU is at any distance from Earth other than geo-sync it will move across the sky, rising and setting according to the laws of celestial mechanics. To have continuous power, one needs a 'constellation' of SBSPUs in LEO (low Earth orbit), like the GSP satelites, and multiple power receiver stations on the Earth surface to receive the power. The mirrors in space will have to be stearable to shift between pointing the beam at one power receiver station to another, and the power receiver station will have to have stearable mirrors to concentrate the incoming light onto a tower mounted boiler, similar to solar power station that already exist in the desert in California. But not identical, because the light will be coming from a fast moving source, complicating the design of the control system. Note, also, that a ground station can only receive power from the SBSPU at which it si pointed, so there is bound to be a lot of waste in the utilization of expensive capital equipment.

Or, instead of optical mirrors, power 'converters' of some imaginary design will have to convert sunlight into microwaves, which has its own beam divergence problems and a different long list of unsolved technical problems.

Many technical decisions will have to be made before one can even begin to write a proposal for the project. The project management team has 20yrs to get it funded, designed, built, and open for business in order to maintain BAU. The whole project, by itself, will give a whole new meaning to BAU.

Because I like supporting open source and DIY I present you all with:

izontal concentration
"The Helios": a solar oven

This guide helps you build a DIY full sized oven, using the square mirror bending method.
Machine mirror surface: 6m^2
Peak power: 3000 watts, similar to a domestic oven.
Download now! PDF
Image gallery: Pictures, Drawings, Details
Notes on mirror calibration: Focal drift and mirror focusing
More on the Oven

"The global oil market remains currently oversupplied helped by "staggering" US production gains which are eating into the demand for OPEC's oil, according to BP's chief economist, Christof Ruhl. "

That's some serious talent at cold blooded lying ...

It's oversupplied if your goal is to maintain $100 per barrel of oil...

It's insane that the oil prices of $20 barrels observed in the last decade have so quickly fallen down the memory hole.

"...cold blooded lying..."

Which is what I assume must be the top "talent" requirement for anyone seeking to be a "chief" at British Petroleum. (/well-deserved snark)

Plus he also is "Vice President of BP plc" :

But it not the first time there are news with outrageous statements from this guy.

Yes. The only 'staggering' is going to be industrial civilization as we come off the plateau extended all-too-briefly by fracking every rock in sight.

In case you didn't know:

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

Check out the slides at the end of the article...

E. Swanson

Really, I am only surprised that anyone at all is surprised.

A family member spends a lot of time at GCHQ. It doesn't take too many passing remarks to confirm what the conspiracy theorists have been spouting for decades.

Government of Quebec announced this week that shale oil drilling would resume at Anticosti Island - shale gaz drilling remains under embargo. Although wild estimates are circulating for the Anticosti ressource - Petrolia, who owns the claims,says 30 billions of barrels - the last three research wells were dry and no one really knows.

Now, my question. Drilling is allowed as long as fracking happens at least 400 meters under the aquifer level. What's the norm in other shale oil states, such as N. Dakota, Texas and the rest? So you feel this provision is sufficient to protect the aquifer from leaking drilling mud and chemicals?

Just saw this ad on Craigslist in Sao Paulo...

We have several drilling rigs available for sale located in the USA...

Snip... complete rigs, 2008 models. Very good condition and ready to drill now.

...We have a very large inventory of many other rigs for sale, as well as all major rig components.

Anyone interested? /sarc

You Won’t Finish This Article

Only a small number of you are reading all the way through articles on the Web. I’ve long suspected this, because so many smart-alecks jump in to the comments to make points that get mentioned later in the piece. But now I’ve got proof. I asked Josh Schwartz, a data scientist at the traffic analysis firm Chartbeat, to look at how people scroll through Slate articles. Schwartz also did a similar analysis for other sites that use Chartbeat and have allowed the firm to include their traffic in its aggregate analyses.

Schwartz’s data shows that readers can’t stay focused. The more I type, the more of you tune out. And it’s not just me. It’s not just Slate. It’s everywhere online. When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing. Schwartz’s data suggest that lots of people are tweeting out links to articles they haven’t fully read. If you see someone recommending a story online, you shouldn’t assume that he has read the thing he’s sharing.

Maybe people read like this with dead-tree books, magazines, and newspapers, too. But my feeling is they don't, at least not this degree. Reading online is different. Attention spans are much shorter. This is why we've made a conscious effort to make key posts shorter.

It may interest you to check out medium.com

They are well on to this, and post "time to read" at the top of the article.

I don't have an interest in the company or site, other than following a guy I enjoy reading, David Axe.

Do you think people do this with dead-tree books? Have you considered making key posts shorter? /sarc

When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page.

Leanan, it is a sign of the times. We have easy access to an almost unlimited amount of information that our attention span is shorter and we move on if something doesn't interest us.

I try to keep my TOD comments consise. I sometimes skip reading long TOD comments.

Yes. I find I resemble that remark. We just have so much more stuff to do, we constantly have to ask "is there anything new in the next paragraph?". Also since Firefox is such a piece of #@$%$, I'm reluctant to click on links that might crash my computer.

Talk about diminishing returns...you need to go to the "Add Ons" and search for "NoScript" - it has a little snake symbol and is a script blocker. That's what's crashing your computer. If you go to any regular site, like Slate, there's at least a half dozen websites trying to run scripting. If I run into a site I'm interested in seeing and the scripting is fouling it's core functions I'll cut and paste the link into IE rather than fiddle with the settings...it'll usually take twice as long to load and make a few flashes and jerky page movement. Sometimes I'll browse on a non-script blocked computer and it's like a nightmare - brings back memories of dial-up.

As to the article I'm certainly guilty of sending someone the link before reading the whole thing. Usually some worthy points have been made and that's enough to trigger it. I'm really bad about reading only part of John Micheal Greer's posts...they start off interesting enough but eventually become so verbose I - SQUIRREL!

Reading online is different. Attention spans are much shorter. This is why we've made a conscious effort to make key posts shorter.

LOL! and I'm about to read a 148 page PDF of a scientific paper on:
heavy on the physics and math. And I have about 10 more similar length papers to read on various aspects of medical imaging and diagnostic technology advances. Well, it's not exactly for pleasure, I'm getting ready to help a team of Brazilian physicians navigate preparations for participating in an international medical conference. That's just a little bit of the background reading I'm doing just to bring myself up to speed.

Just wading through the guidelines for preparing an abstract and presentation at such a conference is probably way more than most people would be willing to read in one sitting...

Hey it's still better than watching American Idol or FOX news >;-)

Guess I'd better stay away from TOD for a while, later dudes!

What uses (wastes?) more energy than modern medicine? In the past medicine was tied with the military as % of GNP. It is now far ahead. It might be difficult to calculate total energy costs if on includes items such as transportation to medical offices and hospitals.

When I run across an interesting online article that requires some time or thought I just print it as a PDF and go back later to read fully. If you are just measuring how many pages I viewed the statistics would be skewed. I suspect that I am not the only person who does this frequently.

Why not just save it as a PDF?

Maybe people read like this with dead-tree books, magazines, and newspapers, too. But my feeling is they don't, at least not this degree. Reading online is different. Attention spans are much shorter.

I don't think the main reason reading online is different is because of short attention spans (though that may also be a factor). The real problem is that much online writing is differnt than dead tree writing. Because of the ability to publish near instantaneously online, and the pressure to maximise "web hits" for advertisers, much web writing is mere fluff and is devoid of meaningfull content.

So often I see a web article about some current with a catchy title like "New Details About ...yada...yada". When I click on the article it turns out that the "new details" are just a rehash of press releases and material published previously, with a touch of the author's opinion. I find I have very little patience for such writing. If I click on a web article and get halfway down the first page and haven't seen any indication of new or orignal information or explanation, I am higly unlikely to read further.

Because of the time involved in dead tree publishing, it seems that there is a greater chance that some original research or interpretation has been done. There are exceptions both ways, of course. Some web writing has been well researched and has new thinking, and there is certainly some trees killed to print garbage. But in general I find a lot more useless articles on the web, which I usually don't bother to finish reading.

Marshall McLuhan would have something to say about that.
Different mediums, and processed differently in the brain.

I couldn't agree with you more.

This article does a fine job of illustrating why nobody reads to the end:

This article has a word count of 1,979 after I delete the chart names.

I read the entire article and made a list of everything that I considered to be an important fact or peice of data. Here is the content from just under 2,000 words:

I preserved the order and noted when there were graphics because the charts and graphs contain data without adding to the word count.

1) 38% bounce immediately (don't read anything)
2) scrolling loses 5% of what remains
3) people link and or comment before they finish reading
4) people can't stay focused
5) after a few hundred words only 50% are left
6) A typical Web article is about 2000 pixels long
7) graph for Slate data

essentially no content (410 words)

8) graph for broader data

essentially no content (207 words)

9) 3 graphs showing how little correlation there is between reading the whole article and tweeting about it

essentially no content (303 words)

10) cool graph (cool, as in, actually contains information that is worth thinking about) for Slate Data
11) cool graph for broader Data

no content (397 words)

The article had 6 links embedded in the text
21 links to other Slate stories on the sidebar and below the article and 1 popup Slate link
16 sponsered links (adds)
2 separate sections for links to facebook, twitter, et. al.
6 more Slate links at the bottom of the comment section

That boils down to ~200 words per detail and 52 links vying for attention. The information density and signal to noise ratio of this article blow.

For anyone who is interested in this topic there is a rich scholarly literature on the subject that the article didn't mention: Information foraging theory
or Google scholar "information foraging theory"


What? I think the headlines are just too damn long. Data wants to be free and, therefore, unread. Our reading, other than books, used to be pretty much limited to the newspapers and magazines we subscribed to. I am pretty certain I used to read virtually every article of every magazine I subscribed to. I don't think I read any less now but I am much more selective as to what I read all the way through. Yes, the internet caused this but I think it is more of a function of almost unlimited reading material vs limited attention span.

I will also admit to being a consumer of narrow casting but that may be partially a function of age.

I've noticed this with manuals as well. The information they need is all there, but people can't be bothered to read about it and try it out; or maybe they tell themselves it's too difficult for them. Whatever. They would rather call someone to do it for them. Which means there are business opportunities for doing quite simple things one can learn from the supplier's manual. You don't need a degree. Just a half-day reading the manual, and you're an expert to most people.

Not restricted by column-inch limitations, most online articles are missing one key element - editors enforcing a word-count limit. Nothing improves readability like brevity.

Newspapers are read the same way -- headlines on all stories, first paragraph on many, a few paragraphs on some, and all of a few.

Newspaper articles are written as a summary followed by layers of increasing detail and decreasing importance. That also allows editors to truncate the articles to fit the space.

Shorter posts and comments may be part of the reason why some TOD posters are now posting at other sites. What I've noticed is that on a regular basis somebody makes a somewhat longwinded, nuanced point which then gets zero replies. That is not exactly encouraging for the OP.
It is relatively easy to post a snappy comment/reply and move on but thoughtful posts which look at the various sides of an issue from multiple POVs take time to write and it is only human nature to want to be rewarded for that (Nate's dopamine thing).

"...somebody makes a somewhat longwinded, nuanced point which then gets zero replies."

Westexas would make a good bit of those - they'd usually be self evident, so there was really nothing to comment on. If there was a 'thumbs up' button I'm sure he would have gotten many, but otherwise there'd just be 100 people posting "+1!" "Good post" etc, and what the hell good is that?

A good number of those posters would like to back up their posts with links to pictures or other articles and with this spam filter it's powerfully frustrating to know that if you put a link into the post there's probably about a 95% chance it's going off into the ether. Leanan has been super-vigilant about getting them unhidden, but it remains a deterrent.

Perhaps things have played out so many times over here, same posts with almost the same information that those folks have taken the opportunity of a badgering spam filter as an excuse to find new ears to bend. There's been a strange lull in activity of late...no weird price spikes, imminent threats of Iranian war, or obvious signs of impending doom. I've no doubt it's coming - but we're in a calm period. They might decide to return when things start heating up again. I'm still looking towards 2015 to be the next big shake up, though something could happen sooner - plenty of triggers out there.

Hopefully I haven't driven anyone away with the EV-PV posts, but things are getting so exciting on that front. There's a chance that these 70 mile range jalopies will again sour the industry and set it back another decade - but there are also a number of people getting along in them as well. Once the industry gets its head out of its ___ then things should happen more quickly. The EREV platform also needs to expand into small trucks, crossovers, and vans. This would broaden the market considerably and open them up to businesses as well who would gain a competitive advantage due to lower operating expenses (starting a stampede).

That has been an issue since the early days of this site, if not the early days of the Internet.

There are many reasons for this. The comments of someone else's blog really isn't the place to post something too long. The blogging model is set up so you post long responses in your own blog, with a link to the blog you're responding to. A well-argued post might be intimidating; people feel they aren't qualified to respond. And if they agree with what you wrote, they likely won't say anything; it's when they disagree they jump in.

I'd prefer if the agreers would comment. Picking up the thread and expand on it. I like to get smarter, so please educate me.

It occurred to me I was fast-reading or skipping through several of the comments when I followed this thread...

I think you have to. It's 'Time Triage' and 'Brainspace Tetris'

I don't see the problem with scanning. It's played above as if we're slackers for not reading all of everything. The volume of material is staggering.

You have to choose, and often enough, you realize you're in a topic you don't need any more info about (at the moment)..

There is a discipline thing in it, and there is a need to finish 'something' .. but to get the broad view, you have to sacrifice the detail levels as you see fit.

That is why I don't watch videos, I hate the format because I expect to skim. Just because it was written doesn't mean I have to read it nor that it was worth reading. In a text document I can at least skip things like background for people that have been under a rock for years or boilerplate or standard canards. Often that doesn't leave much that contains useful information on many internet articles, and I find that if I'm skimming/skipping too much sometimes I will decide it's garbage and quit before I get to the end. Conversely, if it was important I may re-read sections of it.

Keeping informed takes a lot of time and means making value judgements about what you spend your time on. If the article didn't hold my attention well or long, who's fault is that anyway?

And for what it's worth, I find I read (most of) your posts entirely, since you and I have enough areas where we agree, AND others where we disagree, that I have to pay attention if I want to understand how your reasoning and mine are functioning. Keeps the most critical synapses sparking, unlike the posters that are singing exclusively to one choir or the other.

Vive la Difference!

LOL - ditto!

Anyone know if there's such a thing as a load limiter to limit the power drawn from an individual socket in a house?

I've googled around and these devices seem to be installed by the utility and respond to utility signals by cutting off circuits to HWCs, aircons etc.

I need something for a single socket I can buy and plug in and set to, say 100 watts.

The application is, we have a wendy house-type security hut in the middle of a parking area. To save the cost of digging up the parking area and installing cables, we have an overhead cable from the hut to my apartment, through my window, and plugged into my socket as the power supply. By arrangement with the body corporate I get paid an amount to cover lights, cellphone charging, radio, kettle, etc. i.e. Light loads.

What has been happening is at night the guards have been running two electric heaters without my knowledge, and suddenly I have been hit with a big Final Demand from the electricity supplier, much to my shock.

I need a load limiter to prevent them drawing more than the agreed amount of power. I can't police them overnight -- I'm sleeping.

Someone with electrical skills could rig up a fuse or circuit breaker rated for a current that would cover acceptable loads, but would open the circuit for a heavy load such as an electric heater.

Note that an electric kettle represents a fairly heavy load, probably similar to that of a portable electric heater.

In general those are called circuit breakers. About all you can do if someone tries to draw more than a set amount of power is to cut off the circuit (i.e. tripping a breaker) - and then you will be waking up I expect. You could add a breaker in the cable that is fed by the socket.

A kettle is a short term but not particularly light load, so a 100 watt power limit is not appropriate and might lead to justifiable mass resignations. You could monitor daily energy consumption with a wired-in killawatt meter, but not sure what recourse you would have if that showed too much use.

There are coin-operated electric meters, give the employees a monthly allowance and let them spend more if they wish. If OSHA allows that :)

I don't want a fuse or a circuit breaker. I would need to reset them. I want something that browns out the power if the load gets too big, but never switches it off. When they unplug the [whatever] the lights should get bright again. All without my intervention.

Agreed that the kettle is a problem. They are about 2.5 kW. But there's a distant outlet they can plug the kettle into and bring their tea to the hut, so there is a solution.

You could steal one out of a post 2009 ceiling fan w/ light kit. They have a 190W wattage limiter inside.

Or, if you need like a thousand of them or something, go here:



I have it -- the Lumo Kettle ™! A 100W light (or 15W LED plus heating element) inside a transparent insulated container that holds one cup of water. Put that waste heat to good use! Accept no substitutes.

I shall patent it anon.

The following might be useful,http://www.eltako.com/en/switchgear-power-units/g-mains-monitoring-relays-current-relays-and-current-limiting-relays.html failing that what you are really looking for is a current limiting dimmer switch, your local TV or computer repairman should be able to modify a switch mode power supply.

If you can't find such a person locally my email is in my profile but as I am in Ireland the postage on a completed unit might be a deal breaker, the design would be free to a fellow TOD'er if you can find a suitable soldering iron wielder locally, but I'm sure your local TV repairman can help.

Thanks but I want something off the shelf preferably. I'm not an electrical or soldering fundi.

I'm thinking something like a battery trickle charger might be a better analogy. If it could dribble out limited electricity at 220 volts.

There's an electrical wholesaler a mile or so away. I'll walk down and ask them what's available.

A battery charger outputs DC rather than AC.
Of course the cheapest solution is to install a 5 amp circuit breaker in the security hut, cost approx $10 plus installation, if the guards trip the breaker with a heavy load they can reset it themselves and you are both protected from heavy bills and any inconvenience.

If it was an old style fuse, they could use the trick of putting a penny in its place. Go with the breaker.

How about a ballast circuit?

A light bulb wired in series with the hot lead. A 200W incandescent in series would allow a couple 60W bulbs to operate at near full brightness.

You might consider a PTC thermistor. They work by passing current as long as the current they are passing is below their threshold. Exceed it and the thermistor heats up above a critical temperature, then its resistance goes way up and it opens the circuit until the load is removed and it cools back down.

Its also known as a thermal fuse.

It is self-resetting. Remove the load, wait for it to cool back off, and you are back in business.

Here's a link for one of them. There are lots out there to choose from. Use this for an idea for what these are and how to use them. I use smaller versions of this kind of technology on a lot of stuff I design, because one of the things I hate the most is having a customer return stuff to me because of a blown fuse.


That PTC thermistor seems to fit the bill.

How hot does the PTC get when it activates? Might require being inside a metal box? Next time I have a Digikey order I'll get one to play with.

Yes, the PTC does get a bit hot, but they commonly install them on printed circuit boards. It would be risky wrapping them in electrician's tape. But obviously, they do not get hot enough to melt solder. The ones I worked with switched around 125C. Note some of them drop resistance a bit before they suddenly start ramping up. This makes them quite useful for inrush current limiters as well.

Maybe this helps... look for the "switching PTC".


You may want to get a little steel circuit box from the hardware store like they mount electrical sockets in and make yourself a special current-limiting "extension cord", wiring the PTC in series with wire nuts in the box. Its not perfect, but it will get the message across by interrupting the power when too much is demanded.

Here's some more from Digi-Key. These are little toggle switch circuit breakers...


Its a terribly long URL because it has a lot of filter parameters I already put in place so you won't have to fish through a lot of other stuff, but while you have Digi-Key pulled up, you may want to browse around anyway.

You might want to use a double box, so you can mount a duplex outlet on one side and jerry-rig an aluminum panel on the other, drilled for a toggle-switch breaker. Having them have to come to you to beg to have their power restored might make them a little more careful what they plug into their outlets.

( I kinda hope you can discuss with the landlord that the guards are cold, and it can get darned uncomfortable in the cold, maybe he will relent and give more allotment - if its cold there, I kinda hate to see someone having to sit all night freezing their tushes off. But what is happening now is a fire hazard... if they are plugging multiple space heaters into sockets and extension cords not designed for it, this is just asking for a fire. )

Thanks for all the ideas, guys. It's given me a lot to chew over. Hut-mounted trip switch or thermal fuse seem the most promising in my application.

I also thought of an alarm controlled by a solenoid in series with the load that actuates if the current exceeds a fixed amount. Seems a bit Heath Robinson though.

EDIT: Or wattage limiter, if I can find just one. (Sorry, didn't see that post.)

Chevy throws $4,000 rebate on slow-selling Volt amid plug-in price war


Chevrolet, which has added a $4,000 rebate to its poky-selling Chevy Volt to match price cuts from Nissan and Toyota. The cash-back offer from Chevy, which can be swapped for a $3,000 rebate combined with a zero-interest loan for four years, means the Volt carries a larger rebate than any other Chevy model; in some online listings, dealers have 2013 models with price tags of about $26,000, well off its $39,000 base before $7,500 in federal incentives.

Wow. If there really are places selling the Volt for $26,000 and you can plop $7,500 in tax rebates on top of it - that is a screaming deal. With every one of these puppies that makes it into the hands of someone there should be a new "believer" made who can go out and tell everyone how it's been X months since they last visited a gas station and how much money they're saving. This is how revolutions start.

Wait - subsidies and selling the thing at a loss doesn't actually make the car less expensive to produce, it just means someone else paid. What exactly should the recipient of this largess become a believer in? Good luck, fairy tales?

If you can afford it these are nice cars for as long as the present road system can be maintained, and that will last a bit longer yet. People who are ignorant of what is coming and are taking out a loan for a new car are going to buy the coolest thing they can get for the monthly payment they can afford, and a somewhat boring sedan at a high price won't interest many. Those looking for a somewhat boring sedan will get a cheaper one. By the time the car loan bubble and the rest of the economy pop, we'll be talking about whether GM should be bailed out again. And hybrids and EVs will still not meet the price/utility expectations.

"And hybrids and(?) EVs will still not meet the price/utility expectations."

They might if something happens to the gas and diesel supply.. but that could never happen, right? Electricity is a phenomenal FLEX fuel, since we can generate it in so many ways.

You go ahead and curse the darkness.. I'm going to try to make sure a bunch of us has some of those wimpy and totally inadequate LED Tea Candles in our pockets, in case we need to see even just a little bit when the other lights are all out.

I'm not in this for mainstreamed solutions. I think we need to be stocked up on emergency tools, and even an EV that 'looks' like Daddy's Olds', just with a difference, can still be a working tool when the vast majority of our present Tool Fleet has become magically grounded.

LED tea lights are a great use of the available technology. But get a pocket fire starter too.

Roger that.

Also, I tend to pepper my tool-kit pockets and Bug Out supplies with Bic Lighters, as a flexible compromise between modern FF convenience and improvisable backup tool.

You will probably laugh to see what stands for an EV in my most recent sketchy-notes.. it's truly the 'LED Tea Light of Electric Rides', comprised of a pair of cast-off Razor Scooters as the Dynamic Rear wheels of what is essentially a powered Beach Chair. The 'dynamic' is that the independent suspension of the two drive wheels would work into the Tilt/Steering design, in order to keep the required wheel-base and C.G. within a tight footprint, but without the Driver having to lay flat on the ground to prevent rollovers.

Hand and Foot powered inputs would also be part of it, to keep the battery and motor at a minimum size/weight. Like a Mobility Scooter with an emphasis on the Mo'.. maybe 'Less is Mo' '..

Not great news north of the border. The Chevy Volt's Canadian base price is $42,000.00, to which you add a destination charge of $1,550.00. With HST, you're now at $50,082.50, again, without selecting a single option. You want floor mats with that? Ka-ching, Ka-ching !

By comparison, the base Dodge Dart SE with destination is $17,690.00 or $20,343.50 with HST. This vehicle also qualifies for 36-month, interest-free financing. Thus, the difference in cost is almost $30,000.00, and presumably several thousand more if you were to finance your Volt purchase.

With respect to fuel economy, the base Dart is rated at 8.6 L/100 km, city and 5.8 L/100 km, highway, and if you opt for the 1.4 L MultiAir turbo version, that falls to 7.4 and 5.3 L/100 km respectively.

Long and short: I can purchase TWO Dodge Darts for the price of a single Volt, and still have almost $10,000.00 left over in my pocket.


I can top that !

Holden Volt Australian Review: The Four-Wheeled Future Goes Electric (gizmodo)

The Volt costs $60,000

Doomsday poll: 87% risk of stock crash by year-end


Peter Schiff is ‘doubling down’ on his ‘doomsday’ prediction

Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff, author of “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy,” is “not backing away from doomsday predictions about the U.S. economy,” wrote MarketWatch’s Greg Robb last week. He sees the no-win scenario: “Either the Fed stops QE and starts selling the Treasurys and mortgage-related assets on its balance sheet, thus triggering a recession, or else faces an inevitable, even-worse, currency crisis.”

The “idea that the U.S. economy is in recovery is based entirely on rising asset prices ... Asset prices are only rising because rates are low. As soon as rates go back up, asset prices will” fall.