Drumbeat: August 17, 2013

Why car companies can't win young adults

It's not just that cars have become less affordable for cash-strapped young adults, it's also that, well, driving simply doesn't seem as cool as it once was.

More than a third of young adults who don't drive say they are too busy to get a driver's license, and more than a fifth don't plan to ever learn to drive, according to a new study released Wednesday by the University of Michigan.

...A few other factors explain the trend: There's the growth of bike share programs in some major cities; many young adults have ditched the suburbs for urban areas with public transportation, according to the survey.

What's perhaps most striking, however, is that the Internet may have also made driving more of a hassle than a convenience. Why drive to work when you can work remotely from home; why drive to shopping centers when you can order virtually anything online?

"There's been a cultural shift," says Brandon Schoettle, one of three authors of the University of Michigan study.

Crude Caps Longest Streak of Gains Since April

West Texas Intermediate crude capped the longest streak of gains since April as clashes in Egypt raised concern that Middle East supply will be cut.

Futures rose 13 cents. Thousands of people poured into the streets in Egypt today to protest the killing of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi. Energy companies began evacuating personnel from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as a storm threatened.

“We are seeing an escalation in Egypt and, obviously, that adds premiums to the market,” said Rich Ilczyszyn, chief market strategist and founder of commodities trading firm Iitrader.com in Chicago. “We’ve got a potential storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico. It pushes the market higher.”

Mexican Government Drafting Bill to Reduce Tax Burden on Pemex

Mexico’s government will send a bill to Congress in September to improve state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos’s capacity to invest in projects by reducing the oil company’s tax burden, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said.

Mexican President Proposes Opening State Oil Company To Private And Foreign Investment; U.S. Corporations Line Up To Return

Why is Peña Nieto now in a position to procede with privatization where other PRI and PAN presidents have failed? First, Peña Nieto, as we have argued before, is on a roll. Even before becoming president, he succeeded in getting the major opposition parties to join his own in the “Pact for Mexico,” a political compact based principally on a series of political and economic reforms which he then moved ahead to pass. Since being elected president he has succeeded in passing a Labor Law Reform bill, an Education Reform bill, and then a highly contested Telecommunications Reform Bill. He jailed on charges of embezzlement the controversial labor and political leader Elba Esther Gordillo, the head of the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE). He has also proposed to give pensions to all Mexican workers over 65 years of age, though that has yet to become a bill. These reforms and proposed reforms have been popular with large sections of the Mexican elite and middle class as well as with much of public at large, giving his administration tremendous momentum at this time.

Motiva Port Arthur Said to Run Hydrotreaters at Reduced Rates

Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery will operate four hydrotreaters and three lube units at reduced rates while a sulfur recovery unit remains shut for repairs, according to a person familiar with operations.

The sulfur unit may be shut as long as two more weeks, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public.

Midwest Gasoline Climbs to Two-Week High on Coffeyville Repairs

U.S. Midwest gasoline strengthened to the highest level in two weeks after CVR Energy Inc. (CVI)’s Coffeyville, Kansas, refinery was said to need more time to carry out fluid catalytic cracker repairs.

Conventional, 87-octane gasoline in the Group 3 region gained 3 cents to 3.5 cents a gallon below futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:34 p.m., the strongest since Aug. 1. Group 3 includes areas from Tulsa, Oklahoma north to North Dakota and Minnesota.

Ethanol Declines With Corn as Analyst Forecasts More Planting

Ethanol fell after an analyst said corn planting may exceed U.S. estimates. The biofuel’s discount to gasoline tightened for a third day.

Ethanol slipped as corn tumbled 1.6 percent after Christopher Narayanan, a Societe Generale (GLE) analyst in New York, said the grain used to make ethanol in the U.S. may be planted on more than the 88.8 million acres reported by the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency. The ethanol-gasoline spread narrowed 0.4 cent to 73.85 cents a gallon.

U.S. Energy Rigs Gain 13 to 1,791, Baker Hughes Says

Oil and gas rigs in the U.S. rose by 13 to 1,791 this week, reaching the highest level this year, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) The increase was the sixth in seven weeks.

Oil rigs rose 12 to 1,397, the Houston-based field services company said on its website. Gas rigs added two to 388. Miscellaneous rigs fell by one to six.

More refiners allowed to import oil

The State Council, China's cabinet, will grant crude oil import quotas to "qualified" refineries, which experts say is a step forward in trimming large State-owned refiners' import monopoly.

Gulf Low-Pressure System Little Threat to Energy Areas

A low-pressure system drifting in the western Gulf of Mexico will probably have little impact on offshore energy rigs and platforms, some of which have evacuated non-essential personnel.

The system has a 40 percent chance of organizing into a tropical depression or storm in the next two days, down from 50 percent earlier, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a weather outlook before 8 p.m. New York time yesterday.

Death toll rises to 173 in Friday's clashes in Egypt

CAIRO — The death toll in Friday's clashes across Egypt has risen to 173, an Egyptian government spokesman said Saturday as authorities considered disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood group and witnesses reported gunfire at a Cairo mosque.

Egyptian government spokesman Sherif Shawki said Saturday that Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi assigned Ministry of Social Solidarity to study the legal possibilities of dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was founded in 1928. Shawki didn't elaborate on the comments.

Companies halt operations amid violence in Egypt

Detroit: A number of international companies have suspended operations in Egypt as three days of violent street battles make the streets of Cairo unsafe.

General Motors Co, Electrolux AB, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Heineken N.V., Toyota Motor Corp, Suzuki Motor Corp, BASF SE and others shut down facilities and told thousands of workers to stay at home during unrest that has left more 700 people dead as of late Friday.

Mosque at center of Egyptian clashes

Cairo (CNN) -- Renewed clashes between protesters and security forces at a mosque in central Cairo threatened to pull Egypt into another day of widespread violence on Saturday.

Egypt's identity torn in two

As the death toll from Wednesday's crackdown on Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda camps, and Friday's "Day of Rage," approaches 600, much more is at stake than the presidency. Egypt's very identity is being contested.

Bomb hits Iraq's main commodity port, traffic unaffected

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - A truck bomb exploded at Iraq's main commodities port near the oil-exporting southern city of Basra, wounding four people on Saturday, but officials said shipping traffic at the Umm Qasr docks was not affected.

Umm Qasr port, near Iraq's border with Kuwait, sits at the top of the strategic Gulf waterway and does not export oil. Imports handled there include grain shipments and heavy equipment used in the energy industry.

Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline bombed, halting oil flow - officials

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A bomb attack halted the flow of crude oil through a pipeline running from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, two Iraqi oil officials said on Friday.

India, Iran bid to resolve oil tanker dispute

New Delhi and Tehran were Saturday working to resolve a dispute over the detention of an Indian oil tanker by Iranian naval guards for allegedly polluting sea waters in the Persian Gulf.

Libya threatens to break up oil sector strikes

Libya is threatening to use military force to bring order to its oil sector, where a strike by guards has dealt a heavy blow to its fragile post-revolution economy.

Oil exports plunged by more than 70 percent at the end of July after guards, including rebels who helped topple dictator Moamer Kadhafi two years ago, forced terminals to shut.

US energy companies eye Brazil shale gas: US official

BRASILIA: US energy companies want to use their experience to help Brazil tap into its vast shale gas reserves, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on a visit to the Brazilian capital.

Studies show that one-tenth of the world's known shale gas reserves are in Brazil, and if it decides to exploit them the South American giant -- currently a gas importer -- could be the world's second natural gas producer.

How Anti-Fracking Activists Deny Science: Public Health

Anti-fracking groups are increasingly focused on public health issues, specifically those that may or may not be related to shale development. Primarily based on air emissions, the “health issue” has also become incredibly emotional, with terms like “cancer” being tossed about recklessly — and often with no evidence to support them. Activists have instilled so much fear in certain segments of the public that policymakers have been utterly crippled. New York’s moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, for example, has been repeatedly extended until a series of state-mandated “public health” assessments are completed.

Keystone XL Seen Harming ‘Quality Night Skies’ Near Parks

Building the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to more manmade light and noise in sparsely populated regions, which may harm natural resources, wildlife and visitors to national parks, the U.S. Interior Department said.

Ottawa councillors concerned about Energy East pipeline

Some Ottawa city councillors are raising concerns over TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline that would run through the west and south ends of Ottawa.

The pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Chevrolet’s Cheap Minicar, the Spark, Is a Surprisingly Strong Seller

G.M.’s decision to market a minicar like the Spark was a logical one, analysts said. With gasoline routinely topping $4 a gallon, many Americans are seeking better mileage. But automakers also need to make their fleets more efficient to meet strict new federal fuel economy standards that take effect in 2016, said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Edmunds.com.

“Everybody’s going in that direction,” Ms. Krebs said, “but no one expected G.M. to do it as well as they have.”

Saudi Arabia’s large-scale renewable energy plan

In 2012, Saudi Arabia unveiled its ambitious renewable energy capacity targets: 25 GW of CSP, 16 GW of solar PV, 9 GW of wind, 3 GW of waste-to-energy, and 1 GW of geothermal by 2032. In February 2013, the country released a White Paper detailing the proposed competitive procurement process of its K.A.CARE programme.

Barred From Malaysia, but Still Connecting With Critical Jabs

HONG KONG — CLARE REWCASTLE BROWN is persona non grata in her native Malaysia, barred from entering the former British colony.

But that does not silence Ms. Rewcastle Brown, who is one of the most effective voices calling attention to deforestation in Malaysia. The booming economy there, she contends, has been fueled in part by the country’s willingness to tap its natural resources in ways that have enriched the leadership of her native Sarawak, a vast state on Borneo Island long known for its stunning natural beauty and biodiversity.

Thriving in Cape Cod’s Waters, Gray Seals Draw Fans and Foes

Mr. Eldredge and many of his colleagues acknowledge the role overfishing and environmental change have played in the paucity of fish in the Gulf of Maine, but they say seals have prevented fish stocks from rebounding even as stiff new quotas are imposed on the fishermen’s activities. Seals eat up to 6 percent of their body weight each day — which, for an 800-pound male, could be about 50 pounds of food, including prized fish like cod and flounder.

“It’s devastating,” said Tom Smith, who has been gill netting bluefish out of Provincetown and Hyannisport since 1981. “They’re eating our fish we’re trying to catch, they’re eating them out of the nets.”

Russia’s Worst Flooding Prompts Emergency in Far East

More than 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain fell on the Amur, Khabarovsk and Primorye regions from July 1 through Aug. 12, causing floods there and in the neighboring Jewish Autonomous Region, according to data from the weather center. Some areas in the Far East received a year’s rain in the period, the center said yesterday.

“We have never seen such a large-scale flood in our country’s history,” Alexander Frolov, chief forecaster at the center, said today on state television channel Rossiya 24. “The flood covers territory from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean.”

The Blame China Syndrome

No nation has spewed more accumulated carbon into Earth’s atmosphere in the industrial era than the United States – an historical reality that neither China nor India will breach anytime soon. The U.S. remains far and away the world’s largest carbon-emitter on a per-capita basis. Individual U.S. citizens generate an average of 20 tons of carbon emission per year, nearly four times the rate of the average Chinese citizen.

No nation state has invested more heavily and powerfully in the political, ideological, and military promotion and defense of the at once carbon- and growth-addicted profits system than the United States.

China is now importing more from KSA than the US, and are also helping the Saudis Build a huge billion dollar refinery to fuel the thirsty Saudis' driving habit. Maybe China should take over the security responsibility down there? Probably not. Oil is still too important, especially for the petrodollar.

Re: Russia’s Worst Flooding Prompts Emergency in Far East

There's a similar story from REUTERS on the NYT web site. That story doesn't mention the 12 inches of rain over the 6 week period, but does add that the flooding "already led to the evacuation of about 170,000 people from the Amur, Khabarovsk and Jewish Autonomous regions" and suggests an additional 100,000 may need evacuation. Good thing it's not cold enough for all that precip to freeze...

E. Swanson

Giant Lake Baikal drains a large part of this area, and it's only outlet is this dam on the Angara River. Zoom way out to get a sense of scale.

“It’s devastating,” said Tom Smith, who has been gill netting bluefish out of Provincetown and Hyannisport since 1981. “They’re eating our fish we’re trying to catch, they’re eating them out of the nets.”

That quote from the 3rd to last article in Drumbeat today. They're eating our fish... Hmm, so even though we evolved as land based animals and seals evolved in the ocean to eat fish they do not have a right to eat them? The fishermen whine because they gave the fish an opportunity to increase in numbers but the seals are eating them. That darn in tact ecosystem does us no good. In other words they are lobbying to have permission to shoot the seals, which I'm sure they already do. They just want to be able to do it without looking over their shoulder in fear of a fine.

I can't imagine how much they would whine if we actually tried to rebuild fish stocks to historic levels - which would mean banning trawling entirely, and every other fishing method that damages habitat, as well as marking off large areas as no-take zones...

The thing is, when the explorers go to the Gulf of Maine, there was so much fish they thought it was inexaustable. Descriptions are ludicrous, of things like "we put a bucket in the water, pulled it up and it was full of fish". Stuff like that, which sounds patently absurd today but which is backed up by account after account of incredible fecundity. I'm quite certain there were more seals at the time as well.

We humans screwed that pooch, the seals didn't and don't have anything to do with it.

The problem is always the same: Talk to "not converted" people.

Please. Share this link on social networks.



THE FUTURE ... is what we made of it.

......Is what we deserve.

I'm a spanish guy. I don't work on energy, but I know that is key in future.

ONLY THE TRUTH is a try to understand and show the outlook for the next fifteen years ...

I don't have any interest.

See it.
Judge it.
Critique it.




The best film I have seen on the subject. The editing could have been better, but it's better then anything I could have done. I generally have very little good to say about anything, but that is a fantastic film.

Thank you.

The real test for this video, will be with people who think we're just in an economic crisis.

I've watched #1 and half way through #2. Nice images and music, but too long and preaching to the converted, I'm afraid. After 28 minutes I doubt I will continue. There's nothing new for me. As for the non-believers, will they accept an unidentified commentator as the voice of truth, or will they switch off?

I know that not saying anything new, but if you want judge something, see it complete (it is only my opinion).

I believe that Part 3, contains something that you may discover new insights.

In any case, test to send of your contacts to see if anyone likes it.

Thanks anyway for your time.

I forgot to tell you that the idea of ​​dividing the video into three parts, is precisely because it is true that it is too long.

If a non-believers only see the first part short, I give happy, because it contains the essence of this world is hypocritical and unrealistic.

Thanks again.

I appreciate the effort. That must have been a lot of work.

It's hard to figure out new ways to try to get this message out there.. I was taken with the discussion with the Psychologist talking about how quickly people will tune out and rationalize away the 'bad news' that they aren't particularly ready to hear.. and I'm afraid this might be the reason I'm not sure your effort will reach the tougher audiences, but I'm glad you and others are working on the problem.. it does have a lot of good comparisons and ways to frame the problem, the Matrix one at the core of your piece being pretty compelling.

I really have liked the comedy piece from many years ago now, 'Rob Newman's History of Oil' .. which has a lot of performance value, it's truly funny, and offers a lot of Historical detail that makes it simply interesting to watch. (and then joyfully smacks you around a bit.. no punches pulled) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DCwafIntj0

I also continue to revel in (and share) Rebeccah Hosking's 'A farm for the Future', which kicks off with the energy, environment and resource issues to move into a very useful 'what you could do' program, pointing at how Permaculture techniques could help to make small family farms a renewed possibility. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAuOqWpZ1lI

One problem with the 'Matrix' framework, is that it plays really hard on the piece of our psychology that has come to think that everything is made up.. that the WHOLE thing is in our heads, and I believe it's important to hold up what's conceptual against what's real, what can become the new pieces that we'll hold onto as our framework and foundation to build with, from here on in..

Anyway, let the discussion continue, and keep getting this video out there.. you did make it very lively and thought-provoking!

Bob Fiske,
Portland, Maine

I took a rare trip to the city to have the thing that keeps my heart going replaced. During this little outing, we bought some shoes and a TV that wife requires for her women's club things. We went to a sandwich place and ate too much. During all this, I watched the people doing what people do. Some observations.
Huge number of huge people, all ages
ditto with huge cars
ditto with TV,s, all other electronic widgets.
Lots and lots of huge people rushing around buying all these huge things

Conclusion. Energy shortage? UTTER NONSENSE What we have is a pig surplus. A huge surplus of huge.

OK, now back to never buying any clothes and thinking about how to save the--- um---which world is that you're trying to save, eh wimbi?

I hear ya wimbi. I rarely go into any city/large town, and when I do, I am struck by the huge number of huge people. I feel like some skinny alien - almost a different species.

I hate going into town. To quote Fred Eaglesmith, in the great song Summerlea...

"He only gets in to town twice a month, and he gets out as fast as he can"...

U.S. to Bring Gas Mileage Rules...

“These vehicles are more sensitive to small design differences than conventional vehicles because advanced, highly efficient vehicles use to so little fuel,” the agency said.

A friend of mine was looking for a large family type car and I told him to look at the Prius (he was looking at Camry-sized cars) - he was surprised that they could be had used in his price range (and that they were actually so big). I had to tame his enthusiasm to the tune of about 5mpg. He was basing his decision on the possibility of 50mpg and I told him to realistically expect more like 45mpg or a touch less based on reality, and the speed that he drives. But 45mpg Vs. 25mpg for a Camry and with the same or better utility - a bit of an improvement.

These things are amazingly touchy - I've had a tank as low as 35 mpg in the Prius...it was in the winter and during that tank I had to park outside overnight a lot (steep driveway + ice = d'oh!) and I had a lot of short drives from cold starts. On the flip side, now that it's summer the car spends less time warming up and the past couple of tanks I've got a confirmed 49+ mpg.

It has an 11.9 gallon tank and I conservatively say that 10 gallons of that is "useable" (likely to be picked up by the fuel pump)...meaning the range is either 10*35 = 350 miles....or 10*49 = 490 miles - a difference of 140 miles. That's a difference literally twice as large as the entire range of the Nissan Leaf. The car's mpg estimate is a little optimistic, but close enough to know what any particular tank is likely to get.

And the good news is that, "Chevrolet’s Cheap Minicar, the Spark, Is a Surprisingly Strong Seller"!

Alan from the islands

The Prius has a surprising amount of room. We took it on a camping trip, instead of the small station wagon we have. Saved enough on gas to at least pay for a family meal out.

I wanted to get a Leaf but am now pretty content with our decision to buy the Prius. When we replace the next car it will likely be an EV, but that's a few years away.

I drive a camry hybrid and get anywhere between 35 and 43 mpg, depending on where I drive (city or hwy). Yes, it's a boring looking car but comfy and very quiet although the cargo space leaves to be desired...

The Prius is the default car in California now. But a lot of people are going further . . Volts, Tesla Model S, plug-in Prius, Leaf, C-Max Energi, Fusion Energi, etc.

It has an 11.9 gallon tank and I conservatively say that 10 gallons of that is "useable" (likely to be picked up by the fuel pump)..

Beware, remember that the new cars have their fuel pumps IN the gas tank and depend on the gasoline in the tank for cooling - And those in-tank electric fuel pumps can be VERY expensive to replace. Best to never let the tank get below 1/2 tank just to make sure the electric fuel pump doesn't overheat and burn out.

The fuel pump being in the gasoline tank provides another reason not to buy a new vehicle. Locating it in the tank is an explosion hazard, puts additional holes in the tank and is difficult to repair. Unbelievable....

That is a little alarmist, considering they have been doing it for at least 15 years with no problems that I know of. My 1998 truck has the pump in the fuel tank.

The hole is combined with the level sensor and only a little larger.

Don’t worry about in tank fuel pumps. Most cars now use them, have since the 1980s. Much better reliability, because small fuel line leaks can be found quickly due to the smell of fuel. On old engine mounted pumps a small leak in the suction line causes all sorts of stalling problems that are hard to find. Often diagnosed as “vapor lock”. As far as being a fire hazard, remember that in tank electric fuel level senders have been in almost all car gas tank since the 1930s.
On Prius the in tank pump will draw the tank down to less than 1/2 liter (one pint).

I never thought I'd get a Prius since with the amount of driving I do (half the American average) it'll never pay. Something like the Spark makes more sense - and I don't mean the EV version. I used to drive a Ford Aspire, it too was a relabeled KIA, so bare-bones that the rear doors (I insist on 4 doors) didn't activate the ceiling lights. And of course hand-crank windows (I prefer them anyway) and no power steering.

But, I ran into a 10-year-old Prius a couple of years ago at a low price when I was looking for a car, so bought it. This is the 2001 model - the very first year they sold in the US. Sedan with a small trunk, not my favorite arrangement, but useful as a commuter. (When I need to haul stuff or it snows too much I use the Subaru, known as the Vermont State Car, in the vein of State Bird, State Flower...) Been getting between 36 and 50 mpg (winter and summer in Vermont), mostly short trips (8 miles to work). The built in mpg estimator is generally about 5% too optimistic. The big question is how much longer will the now-12-years-old battery last.

There's good news and bad news...the first generation batteries seem to not be as good and people have only been getting about 150,000 miles out of them...the good news - they're cheap! Or at least a whole lot cheaper than they were originally. There's also the possibility of getting spare blades from a battery that someone might be selling on ebay and then culling out the bad blades of your pack - it seems to be a few bad blades that does in the rest of the pack. With Toyota's "bounty" and a new pack you're probably only looking at $1200 if you do it yourself.

With respect to Why Can't Car Companies Win Young Adults? The Reasons For The Recent Decline In Young Driver Licensing In The U.S.

Additional information on the respondents (Table 13):

Nearly half are currently unemployed (45.8%). When including full-time students, 66.4% are currently unemployed.

This study found that young adults without a driver’s license—in comparison with the general population of the same age—tend to have less education and higher unemployment. However, the present study was not designed to investigate whether there is a causal relationship between having a driver’s license on one hand and education and employment on the other hand, or the direction of the effect if there were such a relationship. Focus on these issues in future studies promises to be fruitful.

Micheline Maynard's group reached their goal on Kickstarter to fund additional research in this area (rethinking how we get around).

My oldest kids are Millenials and wanted their drivers' licenses and vehicles in the usual timeframe, ASAP. My youngest kids, born later, are in the process of completing their college educations and were never as keen on driving or owning vehicles. The eldest is 21 and just got his DL last week - partly because of being pushed by family members. Always good to have another driver available even if he doesn't care about it, we figure. The younger is still learning to drive at 19 and also not in a hurry.

My 23year old, had to get his as soon as it was possible. My 21yo twins, had no interest. One has now been convinced by his college friends, and is now learning, the other still has no interest.

In my city (Melbourne, Aus), learners must accumulate a minimum 120 hours behind the wheel before testing for a full license. That's a lot of time (and expense) if trips are not part of a regular commute. Such is the case in my family anyway. In my day, some 30 years ago, all one had to do was hold a learner's permit for a minimum 3 months before testing.

It's tougher and more expensive these days; that's part of the reason.

Chevrolet’s Cheap Minicar, the Spark, Is a Surprisingly Strong Seller

Damn article doesn't mention the MUCH BETTER EV version that has received rave reviews:


I ran across this real-world highway-speed test of the SparkEV (I keep forgetting the "Spark" is not instantly an EV): http://youtu.be/TPsgnI4vRoQ

The result? 92 miles @ 62mph with 3 miles of limp-mode remaining. The Nissan Leaf got ~79 miles on the same loop. What's funny is that he got dropped off and picked up by a 2013 Rav4EV.

It appears that the LEAF will go farther than 79 miles in similar conditions - the gauge gets overly pessimistic down near empty, probably to help keep people from stranding themselves.

In this test a 2013 LEAF SL owner got 88.9 miles: http://goo.gl/TkWqVT

Of course, the Spark EV could have had a good deal of range left, too. Would have to drive it until it stopped moving to know for sure.

The thing that's interesting to me is that the Spark is rated at 82 miles of range by the EPA. It has a roughly 21.5kWh battery - this puts it at 262 Wh/Mi. To get the magic triple-digit 100 they need 18 more miles, or 18*262 = 4,716 Wh...call it 5kWh. At the going rate of ~$300/kWh this is 5kWh*$300/kWh = $1,500.

So they could have made the SparkEV a 100 mile range car for $1,500 more and still come in under $30,000.

It also appears that the driveline is made in the US (basically the final drive of the Volt) and the battery pack is assembled in the US, then it's all shipped to Korea where it's assembled with the Koren-made body (Daewoo Matiz) and then shipped back to the US to be sold.

We're starting to get new original content at theoildrums.com. Today,

> Impact of Electric vehicles on the electric system. And on our pockets

Written by Javier Revuelta. He is an engineer with over 8 years of experience in the Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica de España –REE-. His work has been related to integration of Renewable Energy Sources in the grids, market modeling, and system planning. He has published or presented 18 articles in international events and magazines. He holds an MBA by INSEAD Business School.

Comments are welcome.

Excellent article!

Spoiler: Adding a million EVs only increases load by ~1% and can easily be handled at night with no new power plants.

According to Energy Export Databrowser, Spain imported and consumed about 1.3 Mb/d or 2.7 Exajoules/year or 750 billion kWh/year of crude oil. Presumably that oil is refined into gasoline and diesel in Spanish refineries, partially transported in pipelines and pumped into vehicles at fuel stations, all of which use electricity. If the electric vehicles replace (60 to 80 kWh of petrol)/100 km, then the electricity used to refine and distribute the petrol would not be used. An average driving distance of 40 km/day for 1 million vehicles would reduce petrol consumption by 8.7 billion KWh/year to 11.7 billion kWh/year. Making a wild guess that the electricity consumed to refine and distribute the petrol equals 5% of the energy content of the crude oil, then about 500 million KWh/year of electricity is no longer used and is available to charge the electric vehicles. That is about 16% of the 3.1 TWh/year of electricity needed to power the electric vehicles in your scenario. The burden on the electric grid is a little less than you calculated.

He correctly identifies that it it not the total load, but the peak load, that is important.

The nightmare for a utility is everyone getting home at the same time on a winter's evening, plugging in the car, the kettle, the TV and the heater, and taking a nice long shower. The surge in demand would be crippling.

I think long before electric cars become a significant load there will be smart metering. As well as time-of-use pricing, I can see two more optional tiers of usage:
- The utility can cut you off without warning for up to 20 minutes
- The utility can draw power from your battery

There are already customers who have these agreements with utilities. Cold storage depots, arc furnaces, and dewatering gold mines are all processes that are not harmed by getting power cut off for short times, and they get cheap electricity by handing over control of their power to the utility. Similarly, people with significant back-up generators are also paid to be online and instant-starting by utilities.

All the modern EVs are programmable as to when they start charging. All you need to do is make people use Time-of-Use metering and they'll program their cars to start charging when the off-peak time begines.

"Building the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to more manmade light and noise in sparsely populated regions, which may harm natural resources, wildlife and visitors"

So what about the noise and light pollution made by those 450,000 visitors and their cars? That must be several thousands times greater than the pipeline. Maybe they should just tear up the roads and make the visitors walk. That would eliminate a lot of pollution and pounds too.

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water"

Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty

"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: 'dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

I bet we're going to see a lot more of this in the near future!

This is an old story in Texas and predates fracking. More water is pulled out of the ground for irrigation and urban uses than there is rain--so the water table keeps dropping--and people has to drill deeper and deeper wells.

Maybe so, but now the fracking is taking the water away from the irrigation and urban uses. The problem is now even worse.

Well, yes and no. I was born and raised in Central Texas and currently sit on the board of a groundwater conservation district, GCD. And I can tell you without hesitation that the ONE thing that has changed - and, I'll grant you, in the sense that it's been going on for years, it is old - is the population. And it keeps changing - as in, it keeps growing. Unbelievably so. Anybody heard of Austin, TX? Yeah, people keep moving here...in droves. The surrounding areas (where I live) are part of the growth corridor. The combined storage of the two water reservoirs that serve the metro area - Buchanan and Travis - is 35%!! And dropping to the tune of one or more thousand acre feet per day. The ground is so dry that inflows after it rains either don't increase the levels or do so negligibly.

Our GCD is days away from moving into Emergency drought conditions. That is the last stage. We are in Critical at the moment. Guess we need another stage, like Australia for the heat. What shall we call it? "Good Luck" "You're On Your Own"?

The head banger are the "solutions" being tossed around. Like building huge pipe lines to carry water pumped from wells in GCDs to the east. But that's not all smooth sailing either. Some of those folks are banding together and saying NO. Oops. I could go on and on, but it raises my blood pressure.

This is a sad turn of events:

Businesses hope for more traffic with cars returning to Main Street
Bringing cars back to Main Street is being sold as part of downtown Buffalo’s revival, but not everyone is buying it

Buffalo’s Main Street is tangled in construction, heavy machinery and high expectations. The pedestrian mall is being removed; curbs, pavement and sidewalks are being torn up. Main Street is undoing its 30-plus-year run of having no traffic.

But once the dust settles from the slabs of new concrete on a restructured 600 block in the fall and car traffic returns, will the strip be closer to holding the pulse of downtown the street’s businesses crave?

See: http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130817/BUSINESS/...

I have a lot of fond memories of my time spent in the Buffalo area (Youngstown, specifically).


I don't think it's sad. Those Main St. to pedestrian mall conversions were wrong-headed from square one, at least as most cities enacted them.

Victor Gruen, the guy who came up with the Main St.-to-pedestrian mall idea, thought the key was to realize what the real problem with downtowns were. Most of them were designed before Americans became car crazy. They simply could not handle the post-war explosion of cars. He felt there was no point in just closing Main St. without dealing with the traffic issue.

Gruen's design did not just close the street. It involved ring roads and parking lots that would encourage traffic, but keep it out of downtown. Not coincidentally, Gruen was from Vienna. His plan was directly modeled on Vienna's Ringstrasse.

He hated the way American cities implemented his plans. They did not attempt to deal with the cars. Instead, they just closed Main St. to car traffic, apparently thinking that if someone was driving along and suddenly found the road closed, they would stop and shop. Really, really dumb. It's been successful in some areas (places with a college crowd or excellent public transportation, places where there's something to see, like a pretty riverfront), but a big failure in most cases. It's killed the downtown areas of many U.S. cities. Many of them have been removed already. The removal of pedestrian malls where it's not working is not a bad idea.

"It's killed the downtown areas of many U.S. cities."

I think that declaration needs to be more carefully defined.

The downtown areas were already being brutally strangled by the economics of a motorized public, who were doing their shopping out at the malls, and then online.. they were getting their entertainment more and more online, too, so the downtown movie theaters became Drive-ins, Multiplexes, VHS, HBO and then Hi-def 3D and Surround Sound Man Caves. Dance Halls, Live shows, Business offices and specialty shops.. lots of the downtown draws were drawn off, and the creation of these walkable downtowns was among a number of attempts to help recreate a social center.

I agree that without also making these walkable areas part of a greater design that helped outrun the use of Autos overall (no mean feat, of course), the plan was unlikely to win out in that many places..

In any case, let's make sure we don't hang this failure around the neck of 'Walkable Downtown Spaces', when the rampages of the Auto-Dependent culture have done the heavy slugging in these battles. That's what has been REALLY wrongheaded.. while some furtive and overeager Urban-planning stabs at the 'Auto-Era Windmills' doesn't really deserve the worst of our scorn.. it's just a bit more of closing the barn doors after the horse (and buggy) have already left the building..

I think you're mixing up separate things here. The pedestrian mall movement was way before the Internet was a factor.

Yes, it was a response to the rise of enclosed malls outside of town. Land was cheaper, so the malls could be larger, with lots of free parking. Taxes were often lower as well, which meant prices were lower.

But closing Main St. to traffic just made it worse. The problem before was not enough parking. Closing it off just killed downtowns. Empty offices and storefonts, a place no one would go if they had a choice. Re-opening Main St. to traffic did make things better in many cities. Was it back to the way it was before WWII? No. But it no longer looks like "Life After People."

I didn't mean to suggest the internet as a cause, just that it's now one more in the list of the continued pressures that have grown to keep the downtowns from reclaiming the kind of activity they once had, as much to say that the Ped zones didn't 'Kill' the towns which have continued to suffer from countless strikes. I think the access to movement in the multi-auto family created the conditions that made the centralization of the downtown quaint and unnecessary (for a time..)

No doubt there were many that were poorly thought out, or just picked the wrong moment in history to try it out.. but I hope we don't learn the wrong lessons from the ones that failed, or as I said before, claim the victim was killed by aspirin, since it couldn't cure the cancer..

I think it's misguided to think of pedestrian malls as an attempt to be less dependent on the car. It is precisely the opposite: the pedestrian mall was an attempt to adapt American cities to the spike in car use after WWII. Their demise is not something peak oilers should mourn.

I think you are thinking of the Kärntner Straße. The Ringstraße is a busy street circling the inner district of Vienna. But the Ringstraße is part of your point, it is what brings traffic to and from the inner pedestrian district and includes streetcar and bus lines. When I go to the opera or to a concert at the Musikverein I drive or take a street car on the Ringstraße, park in an underground parking garage and walk the rest of the way.

But almost all European cities and towns have pedestrian-friendly inner districts since they were all built a thousand years or so before the car was invented. The structure of most cities in the US, and cultural differences, make this type of pedestrian district almost impossible to reproduce outside a few coastal cities and tourist-trap towns. I think the typical small US town will continue to slide into decline as the price of oil increases; there is probably no population in the world more dependent on oil than these small towns. By contrast, the typical town or village in Europe is fairly self-contained as well as connected to the rest of the country by adequate bus or train routes.

Our little town is repealing a decades old ordinance that prevented residences from being above downtown businesses. I always felt that 'pedestrian' districts that didn't have people actually living there were sort of soulless and contrived. Zoning laws in many areas simply don't make sense; segregating business districts from residential, and limiting which businesses could be in proximity to homes.

I watched some of the smaller outlying towns, that got swallowed by Atlanta's sprawl, decline as newer, more affluent folks moved in and changed zoning. They didn't want the tattoo parlor or pub (that had been there for years) near their homes. They basically sterilized what were vibrant and diverse living/shopping/business/dining districts.

It seems to me that downtown shopping was dying anyway. Its just too difficult to drive and park. And downtown specialty stores have more overhead than bigbox stores, so customers go for the convenience and lower prices.

Well, this is a personal opinion, so take it for what it's worth, but I don't see how spending upwards of 110 million dollars to restore vehicular traffic to Buffalo's Main Street will do much good. To me, it's akin to putting a band-aid on a paper cut whilst ignoring the severed artery. I have to believe the money could have been put to better use.


There is a lot of that about.
Here in UK we continue automatically with the earlier 'business plans' that delivered the money upto 2008.
Rather pointless in my view.
Income is squeezed and aparently domestic use of energy has been severly curtailed (about 24% according to my paper but it might have got its terms confused), but the expectation seems to be that we will get back to 'normal'.

Keep up the good work Paul. It has been a real pleasure to read of your practical efforts these last few years.


Thanks, Phil, for your kind words, and my very best to you as well. We have four more GWh to save between now and the end of the year to meet our annual target, so busy days ahead.


That's the formula for out town. I recall the campaigns 25 years ago to raise money for a pedestrian mall, and it was indeed a great place, vibrant and busy. At lunchtime.

A few years back, 22+ years later, a very similar campaign, promising essentially the same benefits, from removing the same mall. The push came on the heels of a new (and surprisingly successful) new events arena downtown. I actually went to one of the meetings about revitalizing the downtown core, where I pointed this out and asked:
1) How were they going to address the perception that downtown was dangerous, and that south-side well-off women would not go there unescorted?
2) Where would the young people, let alone families, buy groceries and shop for necessities? Sure, there would be bars and restaurants (that part of the model was already having success), but that's not what it takes for people living daily lives downtown.
3) Where would people park, and how would they get around? South-side people don't take buses, so commuters would have to walk in a car-centric area, and any who lived downtown would be trapped without a car.

The organizers said downtown was safe, and ignored question 1 though it's a broadly-known perception based in no small part in reality.

They said business would come...I said they wouldn't unless the stores came first. There was an earlier experiment in the rough side of town where gov't money sponsored a store. They had to hire a full-time armed guard to address the almost-daily robberies, but they still closed in just a year due to endemic employee theft, as the community money ran out.

Some industrial buildings were to be torn-down to make more parking lots, and they have been, but there still isn't enough parking conveniently located to the core of downtown. During rain and temperature extremes, it's not a pleasant hike.

So of course the plan went forward. For major events shuttle buses are working pretty well, but parking is a perpetual issue, and worst of all when events and the commuter work-day overlap. There is minimal shopping except for a Home Depot, and over-shop living and the few local apartments are still discounted. Women still don't like to venture alone, and the heavy fraction of bars and restaurants have led to much petty larceny, car theft, and late-night violence.

It's not a dismal failure, as lunch and dinner business keeps the restaurants alive, and it is kind of a trendy area for young hip people, but it's a two-dimension world of commuters, the bottom-floor shops are still few and far between, and apartments have been slow to appear.

By contrast, downtown Denver has a vibrant mall area, with high-rise parking for commuters and a free shuttle along the shopping area. I don't know what the take of locals is, but when I travel it's a great place to stay, and people who work there tend to walk to lunch instead of drive. There are grocery stores, a variety of department stores, and (expensive) places to live. Buses can take you anywhere in town, given some patience, and life without a car seems possible.