Drumbeat: August 21, 2013

'Worrying' decline in oil and gas production

The sharp decline in production of oil and gas from under British waters is "worrying" industry leaders.

Trade body Oil and Gas UK says there is record investment this year of £13.5bn.

But its annual report on the industry's economic impact highlights the sharp fall in output of 19% during 2011 and 14% in 2012.

It says the industry's latest estimates of the continuing decline suggest a further fall of at least 8.5% during this year, with no recovery next year.

WTI Drops to One-Week Low on Fed Speculation, Libya Start

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near its lowest in more than a week amid speculation the Federal Reserve will reduce economic stimulus and as Libya prepared to open some oil ports closed by labor unrest.

Futures were little changed after dropping as much as 0.7 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee will publish minutes of a July meeting today, with 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predicting the Fed will taper bond purchases in September. Libya’s Zueitina and Hariga terminals are ready to resume exports, the Oil Ministry said yesterday. An Energy Information Administration report today may show U.S. crude stockpiles shrank by 1.5 million barrels last week.

U.K. North Sea Output May Drop 22% This Year on Maintenance

U.K. North Sea oil and gas production may fall as much as 22 percent this year and take longer to reach previous estimates of higher output, according to the industry trade body.

Oil & Gas U.K. lowered its forecast for daily production in 2013 from its estimate in March to 1.2 million to 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, compared with last year’s average of 1.54 million barrels. It also pared its earlier estimates for a recovery in production.

China Diesel Exports Drop as Farm Sector Readies for Demand Peak

China’s net diesel exports fell to the lowest level in nine months as the government restricted shipments before demand peaks in the agricultural industry.

Overseas sales of the fuel exceeded imports by 119,181 metric tons in July, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing today. That’s equivalent to 28,900 barrels a day, the least since October, when net exports declined to 107,277 tons, Bloomberg calculations show. It’s also 2.2 percent less than in June.

The oil industry hype machine

Prepare yourself for another hype cycle in the U.S. oil and gas industry. The industry says it has found a deposit of oil that may turn out to be the largest in the world. The deep tight oil deposit goes by the name Spraberry/Wolfcamp and is located in West Texas. It's no surprise then that the industry is trotting out the America-as-the-new-Saudi-Arabia theme once again, a theme that many including me have shown to be pure bunkum.

Cnooc Profit Rises as Oil Output Compensates for Costs

Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil and gas explorer, posted a better-than-estimated 7.9 percent increase in first-half profit as rising output helped counter higher costs, including at unit Nexen Inc. The shares advanced the most in 19 months.

Increase in production and fall in taxes boosts Woodside's profits

Major oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum says record production has boosted its earnings for the first half of the year despite lower commodity prices.

A 22 per cent increase in production and lower taxes helped Woodside lift its after-tax profits in the first six months of the year to $965 million.

Statoil funds expansion, OMV expands output with North Sea deal

OSLO/VIENNA (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil sold stakes in North Sea oil fields to Austria's OMV on Monday, in a $2.65 billion deal giving the former cash to develop new projects and placing the latter on course to meet ambitious output targets.

The deal, which analysts said came at a comfortable premium, gives OMV a foothold in one of Norway's top new developments and underlines a rebound in North Sea investments driven by new discoveries, high oil prices and better recovery technology.

Mexico’s Looming Oil Battle: Bid to Bring in Foreign Investment Sparks Protests

To get a sense of the deep emotions linked to oil in Mexico, travel up the capital’s imperious Reforma Avenue to the towering petroleum monument. Using 14 tons of bronze, the statue portrays huge, muscular oil workers in heroic poses beneath an Amazonian woman, in a style that melds Mexican muralism with Soviet brutalism. An 18-m obelisk above marks the year 1810, when Mexico rebelled against imperial Spain, and the year 1938, when then President Lázaro Cárdenas announced the expropriation of oil from American and British companies, uttering the iconic phrase: “The petroleum is ours.” In a country that still smarts from centuries of colonial exploitation, the statue is a giant symbol of a nation finally asserting its sovereignty.

Pemex to explore for oil in United States

Mexico's state-owned oil company says it will form a new entity to explore and produce shale gas and deep-water oil in United States territory.

The plan will help Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex, acquire drilling techniques it now lacks for complicated terrain in Mexico, Chief Executive Emilio Lozoya said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Dempsey: Syrian rebels wouldn't back US interests

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were to seize power right now, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to a congressman in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Effectively ruling out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn't require U.S. troops on the ground, Dempsey said the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force and shifting the balance of the Arab country's 2½-year war back toward the armed opposition. But he said such an approach would plunge the United States deep into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.

Activists say more than 200 killed in gas attack near Damascus

(Reuters) - Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching a nerve gas attack that killed at least 213 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of poison gas in the two-year-old civil war.

Reuters was not able to verify the accounts independently and they were denied by Syrian state television, which said they were disseminated deliberately to distract a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago.

Qatar sends second shipment of LNG to Egypt

(Reuters) - Qatar has sent its second tanker this month of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Egypt, struggling to cover its energy needs even before the removal of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi unleashed deadly violence.

Qatar's state news agency said late on Monday the tanker left Ras Laffan terminal on Aug. 9, a week after the first cargo, part of an agreement made with Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, which were backed by Doha.

Clashes Erupt at Libyan Oil Terminals

Clashes erupted Tuesday at oil terminals that had been closed in Eastern Libya, oil officials said, the latest evidence of mounting tensions in the oil exporting nation, after an unauthorized tanker was blocked from entering another port Monday.

The forced closure of Libya's key oil ports by striking guards and workers, which has more than halved the country's oil production in recent weeks, has helped push oil prices higher, in addition to the crisis in Egypt.

Turkey urges Iraq to stop militants bombing pipeline

ANKARA (Reuters) - Iraq must take serious steps to stop militants attacking an oil export pipeline running to Turkey, a senior Turkish official said on Wednesday, after two bombs disrupted exports for at least the sixth this month.

The pipeline, running from the Kirkuk oilfields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, is one of Iraq's largest crude oil export corridors.

Insurance cover to refiners for using Iranian oil soon

New Delhi: After Petroleum Ministry agreed to provide funds, the Finance Ministry has initiated the process of setting up of a Rs 2,000-crore fund to provide insurance cover to domestic refineries that process crude oil imported from Iran.

Petroleum Ministry has agreed to provide first tranche of Rs 500 crore from Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB), a senior official in the Finance Ministry said.

Oil majors eye oil, gas off Arctic Jan Mayen island

(Reuters) - An additional eight oil firms, including majors BP and ConocoPhillips, are interested in the potential oil resources off Jan Mayen island in the Arctic, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Wednesday.

Isolated Mashco-Piro Indians appear in Peru

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Members of an Indian tribe that has long lived in voluntary isolation in Peru's southeastern Amazon attempted to make contact with outsiders for a second time since 2011, leading to a tense standoff at a river hamlet.

Authorities are unsure what provoked the three-day encounter but say the Mashco-Piro may be upset by illegal logging in their territory as well as drug smugglers who pass through. Oil and gas exploration also affects the region.

TransCanada says Keystone XL’s southern leg over 90% complete

TransCanada Corp said on Tuesday its 700,000 barrel per day Gulf Coast pipeline project is now over 90 percent complete and the company expects the line to be in service by the end of 2013.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said testing and commissioning activities were underway on the line which runs from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Nederland, Texas, and is the southern leg of the controversial Keystone XL project.

BP puts Louisiana justice on trial

BP’s increasingly bad-tempered spat with the U.S. federal court, claims administrators and legal community in New Orleans over oil-spill compensation payments suggests the company has given up trying to win the case locally.

Instead, BP seems to be focused on getting it before a regional or national tribunal as quickly as possible in the hope of a more sympathetic hearing.

Gulf Spill Sampling Questioned

An analysis of water, sediment and seafood samples taken in 2010 during and after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has found higher contamination levels in some cases than previous studies by federal agencies did, casting doubt on some of the earlier sampling methods.

Let N.Y. take lead infrack ban

While claiming that the gas currently being fracked will lead to "energy independence" for the U.S., the reality is that Obama stands ready to approve building enormous liquefied natural gas export facilities on our coasts to ship the gas overseas to China and Europe, where it can bring five times the price. For many of us who supported the president, it is devastating to watch him lead us down this destructive path instead of aggressively building a renewable energy infrastructure and economy.

California Considers If PG&E Penalty Is Worth Bankruptcy

California regulators must weigh whether a $2.25 billion penalty for safety lapses is worth potentially pushing PG&E Corp., the state’s largest utility, into bankruptcy for the second time in 12 years.

PG&E expects the California Public Utilities Commission to decide by the end of this year on a punishment for a September 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people. Imposing the staff’s proposed penalty may force the company into bankruptcy if it can’t sell enough shares to pay for it, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

Japan's nuclear crisis deepens, China expresses 'shock

(Reuters) - Japan's nuclear crisis escalated to its worst level since a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant more than two years ago, with the country's nuclear watchdog saying it feared more storage tanks were leaking contaminated water.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday it viewed the situation at Fukushima "seriously" and was ready to help if called upon, while nearby China said it was "shocked" to hear contaminated water was still leaking from the plant, and urged Japan to provide information "in a timely, thorough and accurate way".

Japan Watchdog as Tepco Doubter Warns of More Leaks at Fukushima

Japan’s nuclear watchdog ratcheted up concern about more leaks of highly radioactive water from hundreds of storage tanks at the Fukushima atomic plant, after today raising the severity ranking of a spill this week.

The leak of 300 tons of water from a storage tank on Aug. 19 was ranked as a “serious incident,” Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said at a meeting today.

Tepco caused suicide, wife tells court

A lawsuit opened Wednesday against Tokyo Electric Power Co., with a Filipino woman from Fukushima Prefecture seeking about ¥126 million in damages over the death of her Japanese husband, who committed suicide when his business faltered after the Fukushima nuclear crisis started.

Coming Full Circle in Energy, to Nuclear

While nuclear power also ranked high in President Carter’s speech, it proved no match against cheap coal and gas — especially after the force of American public opinion, scarred by visions of Three Mile Island and Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster, contributed to delays and regulatory hurdles that made building a new nuclear power plant prohibitively more expensive.

Today, the world is staring at a similar inflection point in energy policy. Glowing wood fires are now understood to be a problem, spewing heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Most scientists see coal — what James Schlesinger, the nation’s first energy secretary, called America’s “black hope” — as one of the biggest threats to the world’s climate.

But even as the consensus among experts builds that coal and other fossil fuels must be sharply reduced and eventually removed from the energy matrix, there is no agreement on what sources of energy could feasibly take their place, and how to get from here to there.

Time to Stop Stalling on Nuclear Waste

A federal appeals court has given the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a well-justified rebuke for “flouting the law” when it stopped analyzing the safety of the proposed nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, some 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The commission engaged in some questionable maneuvers aimed at preventing the Yucca site from ever opening, thus carrying out pledges to scuttle the facility made by President Obama, while campaigning for the presidency in 2008, and Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, who has ferociously opposed the site for years.

Chart: Car-ownership costs per state

Your car may drive the same no matter where you live. But the costs are different matter altogether. The price of everything from gasoline to muffler repairs varies wildly across the country. Here are the average costs of repairs, insurance premiums, gasoline and taxes and fees in all 50 states, according to Bankrate's first Car Cost Index. The costs are ranked from highest to lowest.

Ford revises C-Max mileage claims, offers rebates to owners

Ford of Canada will revise 2013 fuel consumption labels for its C-Max hybrid crossover, after Ford’s recent testing indicated that the gas-electric hybrid didn’t achieve its stated figures; the company will also compensate Canadian C-Max owners up to $895.

Tesla: Our crash test score is better than perfect

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The Tesla Motors Model S electric car recently earned the highest possible rating of five stars in government crash tests.

But that announcement wasn't good enough for the image-conscious company and its charismatic founder, Elon Musk.

In fact, Tesla said Monday -- 11 days after the test results were announced -- that the Model S earned the highest crash test scores of any car ever tested.

A Gasoline-Powered Tesla

Tesla could sell many thousands of its cars, but based on the trend of demand for electric cars, the company will need to add a gasoline-powered engine.

Vestas Replaces CEO With Runevad as Losses Widen

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the Danish turbine maker that’s been unprofitable for two years, replaced its chief executive officer after a worse-than-expected loss.

Anders Runevad, from Ericsson AB, will take over on Sept. 1 from Ditlev Engel, who has been at Vestas since 2005, the turbine maker said. Its two-year turnaround program “continues according to plan” even as second-quarter margins narrowed. Vestas rose the most in three months in Copenhagen trading.

With Proposed Rail Expansion, Northwest Confronts Its Clean Image

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Pacific Northwest’s sense of itself can sometimes seem green to the point of parody: a medium-roast blend of piney peaks and urban cool, populated by residents who look descended from lumberjacks or fishermen.

Now, plans by the energy industry to move increasing amounts of coal and oil through the region by rail, bound for Asia, are pulling at all the threads of that self-portrait.

Your 12-Hour Road Trip Would Have Taken Six Weeks in 1800

These maps, published in 1932 in the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States and available through the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, illustrate how arduous travel was in the country’s early history. In 1800, a journey from New York to Chicago would have taken an intrepid traveler roughly six weeks; travel times beyond the Mississippi River aren’t even charted. Three decades later, the trip dropped to three weeks in length and by the mid-19th century, the New York–Chicago journey via railroad took two days. And the introduction of regional airlines in the 1920s made it possible to travel 1,000 or more miles in a single day.

Baa! O'Hare turns to goats to clear airfield brush

O'Hare is one of the largest airports in the world and takes its environmental initiatives to serious and sometimes quirky heights. It has acres of green roofs, including one atop an air traffic control facility, to reduce storm water runoff and lower the urban heat island effect of the airport's massive concrete expanse. The airport has even turned over a wooded patch of land to 1 million bees living in 28 beehives that produce honey sold in the terminals and help replenish declining bee populations.

Green in a red state: North Dakota's only Sierra Club staffer

North Dakota's only Sierra Club staffer, Wayde Schafer, and his children stood atop a towering butte two decades ago and watched in the distance as a nodding donkey pump sucked oil from underground in an otherwise untouched area of western North Dakota's Badlands.

For Schafer, the lone oil well near Theodore Roosevelt National Park marked the decline of North Dakota's wide-open spaces and its clean water, air and land. And it was then that Schafer — a piano tuner by trade — pursued a path in professional environmentalism.

Europe Set to Impose Sanctions on Faroe Islands Over Herring

PARIS — The European Commission said on Tuesday that it was enacting tough trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands after the tiny North Atlantic territory unilaterally increased its herring quota.

The European fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, said in a statement that the European Union was banning the import of herring and mackerel caught in waters under Faroese control, as well as products made from those fish, which make up the greatest part of the territory’s exports. In addition, Faroese vessels will be prohibited from unloading their herring and mackerel catches at European Union ports.

Looming Helium Shortage Raises Alarms

The United States is the global leader in helium production, producing about 75 percent of the world's helium. About half of that is stored outside Amarillo, Texas, in the country's Federal Helium Reserve, a vast subterranean complex of storage reservoirs and pipelines that extend to natural-gas fields as far away as Kansas.

But the looming helium shortage is actually the government's fault, according to Science magazine. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the Federal Helium Reserve, sells off helium at below-market rates, encouraging waste and discouraging the development of new sources.

Climate Disinformation Continues to Harm U.S. Communities

Scientists already see that people are suffering from the heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. But when I talk to people about this, many don't always accept the science. It's likely because Americans have heard so many conflicting messages about climate change online or in the media. That's no mistake. The fossil fuel industry borrowed a political playbook from the tobacco industry before them: when scientists discover that your products are risky, attack the science.

Coal Foe Named to FERC Is Latest Obama Pick Drawing Ire

President Barack Obama’s nominee to head a little-known energy commission has become the latest appointee drawn into the contentious debate over climate change.

The nomination of Ron Binz to be chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has sparked enough opposition that environmentalists have hired a public-relations firm to aid his Senate confirmation. Binz has drawn the ire of coal-industry interests for advocating policies that mining companies said encouraged the conversion of power plants to natural gas when he served as Colorado’s top utility regulator.

Coastal flooding could cost cities $60 billion by 2050, study says

Coastal flooding could cost big cities more than $60 billion a year by mid-century, with losses jumping even more dramatically if nothing is done to counter rising sea levels and subsiding land, a new study has found.

A team of researchers analyzed data on flood exposure in 136 of the world’s largest coastal cities to project steep increases in economic losses, from an estimated $6 billion a year in 2005 to $52 billion by 2050 based on changes in population, economic growth and urbanization.

The Changing Climate For Flood Insurance

On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters), putting in place long-overdue reforms. Among the most important reforms is the phasing-out of certain subsidies that flood-prone properties have received for decades, properties that are increasingly at risk due to rising sea levels and the greater flooding along U.S. rivers thanks to a rapidly warming climate.

Understandably, there is pushback from some who may pay more for flood insurance, which is provided and generously subsidized through the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). But it's important to understand the impact of those subsidies, the shortcomings of the NFIP in general, and why climate change makes it more important than ever to make substantial reforms.

Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming

An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

The scientists, whose findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report, largely dismiss a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate change doubters, attributing it most likely to short-term factors.

The report emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, justifying the rise in global concern. It also reiterates that the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profound.

Although it doesn't appear much in the media, there are serious turmoil around oil in Lybia currently, for instance :

"Clashes erupted Tuesday at oil terminals that had been closed in Eastern Libya, oil officials said, the latest evidence of mounting tensions in the oil exporting nation, after an unauthorized tanker was blocked from entering another port Monday.

The forced closure of Libya's key oil ports by striking guards and workers, which has more than halved the country's oil production in recent weeks, has helped push oil prices higher, in addition to the crisis in Egypt.

"In [Libya oil terminal] Brega, there's some fighting" between supporters of a striking oil-guards leader and his opponents, Yousef Ghariani, the head of Libya's Oil and Gas Workers Union, told the Wall Street Journal.

Separately, "there is a conflict" at Zueitina terminal, a top oil official, who declined to be named, told the Wall Street Journal. "People from the area marched to the terminal [to protest] against those who stopped the operations."


So we have unrest in Libya, a military Coup in Egypt, a full-blown civil war in Syria, spill-over in Lebanon, terrorist car bombings in Iraq, sanctioned Iran, borderline failed-state in Yemen . . . . it is surprising that oil prices are as steady as they are. But I guess most of those are not really oil exporters with the exception of Libya and Iraq.

That region is going into anarchy when oil depletion really starts to hit big time. :-(

Regarding depletion what's not produced today will be left tommorow.

Today oil production is at record levels. Then where have been a few years of depletion the anarchy might hit the buyers then they run out of money or they just have to work hard to buy the oil.

A major disadvantage with a desired resource are all the greedy neighbors.

I trust you are not confusing/conflating anarchy with chaos. The two could hardly be more dissimilar. Chaos is only a temporary effect as the pathological stasis of most, if not all, nation-states lose control and shatter-- which is the idea/imperative, such as from an anarchist standpoint.
What's problematic of course, is how the media, for example, cluelessly or perniciously or otherwise, ostensibly use that temporary chaos as an example and/or threat of what happens/will happen when/if the nation-state loses control.

Naturally, I welcome that decline/collapse with courage and fire in my heart. The sooner, the better. Heartfelt best wishes to the general populations under such contemptuous/contemptible states/control.

I trust you are not confusing/conflating anarchy with chaos.

Anarchy is the antithesis of chaos.
Its just people have a lack of understanding about anarchism.
Both the Left and the Right want to keep it that way.

It appears so.

Thank you Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member and hightrekker for these two comments. As a long time proponent of non ideological and peaceful anarchism myself, I understand very well why such a POV is highly threatening to any entity that concentrates power, such as nation states and corporations. And why they would find it in their self interest to use fear mongering about chaos and disorder as being equivalent to anarchism.

The New Hampshire's state motto resonates with me, "Live Free or Die"! Of course New Hampshire today is still very much part of the controlling system and certainly not an example of what we should all be aspiring towards...


If we had high amounts of oil say like we did in 1930 this economic crash coming would not be so scary but the scarcity of oil coupled with larger populations and climate change makes it untenable..With governments not officially recognizing peak oil it puts the world on a suicide path and I guess this should not be a surprise because if you look at world leaders...they all are pretty crazy----you would have to be to want the job in the first place....then again if the said we were on peak oil could you create a new economy based on efficiency?

Simple, interesting outlooks on the Arab countries in crisis. He seems to think that economic problems are solvable but other causes of conflict are more difficult to overcome. Historically, he is probably correct but from a finite resource perspective, I think Libya has a better chance at success than Egypt (not that I am usually right about anything).

Ripples of unrest felt across the Arab world

Egypt, despite its troubled appearance, remains one of the most stable Arab countries. The secret to that lies in the uniformity of the social fabric which has been one since the days of the pharaohs. The second reason is the military institution represents the real power in the state amidst the weakness of the middle class and the fragility of Egypt’s political parties. It will certainly undergo a phase of change, but it will do so gradually if the military does well in managing the crisis and in making a gradual transition towards democracy. The fear over Egypt is not rooted in fear of the Brotherhood or others but of the failing economy.

I lose my internet connection tomorrow, and I won't get it back until TOD is no more, so thank you and good night.

May the road always rise up to greet you. Thank you for your always insightful thoughts.

In the 'ham, where else would I be?

May we all have the luck and tenacity of the Irish. That was an Irish quote, correct?

Thanks Ralph! Good night...

Ralph, please consider editing your TOD account to display a contact address.

Good night and good luck,
~ Caelan

See you on another webpage, and good luck on your ways.

Radioactive Leaks in Japan Prompt Call for Overseas Help

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) indicated it’s losing the battle to contain leaks of radioactive water at its Fukushima plant and emphasized for the first time that it needs overseas expertise to help contain the disaster.

“We will revamp contaminated-water management to tackle the issue at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant and seek expertise from within and outside of the country,” Aizawa said at a press conference last night in Tokyo . “There is much experience in decommissioning reactors outside of Japan. We need that knowledge and support.”

… At least one commissioner at the regulator questioned the accuracy of data being released by Tepco and whether the incident had been fully reported. The leak, along with a separate spill of 300 tons of radioactive water a day into the Pacific Ocean, is raising doubts about the utility’s ability to handle the 40-year task to decommission the nuclear site.

From the article:

At least one commissioner at the regulator questioned the accuracy of data being released by Tepco and whether the incident had been fully reported. The leak, along with a separate spill of 300 tons of radioactive water a day into the Pacific Ocean, is raising doubts about the utility’s ability to handle the 40-year task to decommission the nuclear site.

Since leaks are ongoing, I wonder why they don't pipe the water into deep water, rather than continuing to discharge the radioactive water into shallow waters around the coast. I would think that deep water discharge would be the lesser of two evils.

I've been thinking along those lines. The Japan Trench, a few hundred km east of Fukushima, is 9000 meters deep at some points. It may be a Faustian bargain worth considering, except it's likely in international waters.

Water that warm and (non-saline) would be less dense and just come right back up, no? They'd have to pack it with insane amounts of salt to keep it down.

Traveling through a couple of hundred km of pipe would solve the temperature problem for the most part. By the time the contaminated water got to its ~9000 meter destination, it would be at or near the ambient temperature. There may even be a thermo-siphoning effect as the water cools.

As for salinity, the contaminated water could be diluted with sea water as it's injected into the pipeline; use jet pumps (eductors) to move it. Create an artificial bay off shore of the plant and pump the water out (since there's apparently no one source of the leaks), essentially a large sump. This would dilute the effluent from the plant and prevent the site's contamination from traveling up and down the coast. The Dutch are pretty good at this sort of thing; moving lots of water.

Would you want an ongoing uncontrolled release of this stuff into coastal waters, or to at least move most of it to one of the deepest ocean trenches around? Again, the lesser of two evils.

Even if the water were cooled, if the salinity was too low, the water mass wouldn't stay in the bottom of the trench. If the water were first trapped in the artificial bay near the plant, it would be possible to add enough salt to stay on the bottom before it was pumped to the bottom. The same would be true for the water stored in all those tanks...

E. Swanson

Pump radioactive water into the deep ocean trenches. It's the perfect setup to spawn a host of Godzilla movies.

Giant mutant tube worms like something out of Dune, uniquely adapted to high pressure hydrogen sulfide-infused radioactive seawater, incubating their eggs on black smokers as the adults rise to the surface to snack on abundant and clearly clueless humanoids. I like it!

"OH NO! There goes Tokyo, Go Go Wormzilla! [woo woo woo woo]"

Calling BeePee! Calling BeePee!


I believe the "release" of ~300 tons a day is not within their control. It is more seepage and ground water contamination related. They do not appear to be in control of the release so there would be no way to channel it into a pipe into the deep ocean.

There may be some strategic problems at this point with laying down all that pipe in the vicinity. 300 tons of water a day seems like a lot of water. That it's all apparently radioactive is just incredible... Japan's revenge...

300 tons 300 cubic meters. 300,000 liters. ~2 RR cars? Cost to process a Litre ? Who you going to call? GE?

300 tons 300 cubic meters. 300,000 liters. ~2 RR cars? Cost to process a Litre ? Who you going to call? GE?

It would be a rather good idea All six reactors were designed by General Electric.

If they refuse just send them the bill. It's the way they have done in Gulf of Mexico with BP.

The reactor design plans provided by General Electric specified placing the generators and batteries in that location, but mid-level engineers working on the construction of the plant were concerned that this made the backup power systems vulnerable to flooding. TEPCO elected to strictly follow General Electric's design in the construction of the reactors.

It is also .25 acre feet, 80,000 gallons or 2,500 barrels. Whether it is a lot depends upon concentration, exposure time, and distance. Another measure is that it is comparable to adding 11 drops to an Olympic-size swimming pool.

What is the swimming pool? All oceans in the world? 11 drops of radioactive water per day into a pool? How radioactive and for how long the radioactivity and the 11 drops per day? That sounds like a hell of a lot. I don't know about you but I'm not going to want to swim in that pool. That's not good if that's the case and we are talking about all our oceans.

An Olympic-sized swimming pool measures 50 m long x 25 m wide x 2 m deep = 2,500 m3 = 660,430 gallons

300 tons of water per day = 600,000 pounds/day = 71,900 gallons/day

300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima could be poured (aka dropped) from a tank into an Olympic-sized swimming pool 9.2 times before filling the pool.

"71,900 gallons/day"

which is 50 gallon/minute. My 1 1/2 HP irrigation pump does 35 gpm. It's not that much water as a continuous stream.

or 10 garden hoses

I did not say that it was good but I was pointing out that dilution and time will significantly minimize the exposure. The leaks at Fukushima are serious for locals, but far less so on a global basis.

I worked at Hanford, one of the most radioactive sites in the world, and even there exposure is all about time and distance. Dangerous area were restricted and marked so by just keeping away from those areas kept me from getting significant exposure (I never came close the limit of 5 REMS). And it does not take much distance since exposure follows Newton's Inverse Square Law. The farther you get from the source the less exposure you get. Exposure is a function of 1 over distance squared.

Note that I am NOT pro nuclear but I am also not that concerned about it. That said I also would consider it somewhat foolish to go swimming in the ocean near Fukushima or to set out for a hike across Hanford.

One of the 'nice' thing about radioactivity is that it is easily measured and that it decays over time. You can not say that about chemicals.

You can not say that about chemicals.

Chemicals "decay" by reacting with something else.

The Gift that Keeps on giving is Heavy metals until they decay into something else or get tossing into the proper solar furnace and become something else post nova.

Nearly 40 years since it was banned, and DDT still shows up in milk from grass fed cows. Dairy companies monitor the levels to ensure they are safe.

Some chemicals decay. Some are pretty stable. The heavy metals are interesting. The atoms will last until taken out by proton decay, but most of them (including cadmium, lead, and mercury) will stop and become a rock as soon as they find a sulfur atom. Ksp for CdS is something like 10^-70. It's going nowhere.

That was always the flaw in the EPA's Cercla test (At least I think it's cercla). They used acetic acid as the leachant, and that is one of the few acids that will dissolve lead, nitric being the other common one. So that test always overstates the mobility of lead. But it is consistent about it.

The use of acetic acid in the TCLP initially struck me as stacking the deck as well. But apparently, HAc is a fairly common byproduct of the biodegradation of organic waste in landfills so I'm less inclined to think it's unfair now.

300 tons of water per day is about 55 US gal/min.

A large-diameter (3/4") garden hose delivers about 23 gal/min. So it would take a bit more than two large hosepipes to deliver the water at domestic pressure.

A non radioactive drum of liquid waste can be >$500 to dispose of. Looks like multi-million dollar daily expense just for cooling water ... before you even start with Corium, wasted facility, soil, health care for exposure, etc. Lots of unused & open land in Japan. Everyone knows that PV is too expensive. GE or TEPCO smarter than radioactive Yeast?

Wind and solar in industrial quantities require long-distance power lines to get the electricity from there to here.

The maintenance cost and risks are frequently overlooked in touting the "free and safe" energy from these sources. High-tension lines take a regular toll of careless pilots of light aircraft and helicopters, and I've seen an estimate of one large bird per kilometer per year dying from flying into power lines.

Solar PV, even industrial scale, often does not require long-distance power lines. That is the nice thing about solar PV, you can put it up close to the consumption. Industrial scale sites can be installed on warehouses, big box stores, parking lots, office buildings, malls, etc. But it does cost more than wind.

Fukushima leak is 'much worse than we were led to believe'

A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.

... Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added. "The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic," said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

"What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else - not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.

... "There is absolutely no guarantee that there isn't a crack in the walls of the spent fuel pools. If salt water gets in, the steel bars would be corroded. It would basically explode the walls, and you cannot see that; you can't get close enough to the pools," he said.

Palmer: Massive Gas Field Discovered off Papua New Guinea, 28 TCF Recoverable

SYDNEY, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Australian mining mogul Clive Palmer says his oil and gas business has identified what could be one of the world’s largest gas fields off the coast of Papua New Guinea, potentially worth $35 billion.

After $50 million worth of exploration over 3,000 square km, the northern region of the Gulf of Papua was found to have about 28 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.


Has Clive's "company" actually drilled an offshore well off the PNG coast? The only rig I am aware of drilling up there is the Stena Clyde currently working for Total/Oil Search. They are on their third well with 2 small gas discoveries under their belt. A quick google search does not show any other activity except for Inter Oil, which has a land base operation and currently in discussions with Exxon, with reguard to shareing the use of Exxons's LNG plant and being part of the hopeful expansion.

Here is a quote from another source

Mr Palmer said he bought the PPL 381 exploration licence during the Global Financial Crisis.

3D seismic surveys over an area of more than 3000 square kilometers by British geological firm Robertson had suggested 47TCF, with 28TCF recoverable at a p50 level.

Talk about hype, they haven't even drilled a hole by the looks, and he is quoting reserve figures, what a laugh. He must be trying to raise money, lol.

Good catch. I took the report at face value.

Thank heavens we can rely on TOD readers to filter out the hype.

Yeah, too bad that should read 'could rely' as in, only for ten more days...

RE: "'Worrying' decline in [North Sea] oil and gas production"

Those numbers are simply staggering. The investment numbers are gargantuan, yet the declines keep on coming.

And yet here in the UK it almost every evening on the news some ill-informed wonk tells us that shale gas and shale oil have arrived to take us to the giddy plains of Nirvana far, far away from imported oil and gas - and that it is going to be cheap too!

By my estimation, from now until 2020 NS will have declined by about the same amount as the whole of North America's total shale output per day, per year (if you get what I mean?) which means by 2020 our Heroic Shale industry has not only got to ramp up to the entire current North American production of shale oil/gas but also surpass it because we are currently already massively importing.

Crickey, even the barest glance at the numbers shows you this ain't going to happen. Even under completely benign social conditions. 2,000 hippies surround one test site in Sussex for heaven's sake! That is not benign!

The UK is sleep walking off a cliff and we are not getting the facts. Two camps have formed around shale - the hippies and the rest. The hippies are banging on, and on about the environmental impact (which may or may not be a genuine concern) and the rest are just being spoon fed PR nonsense totally devoid of rational analysis. No one, but no one is talking about whether the UK could ever actually produce any meaningful shale gas/oil let alone how much and no one is putting any potential flow rates in the context of the North Sea declines.

Seriously scary. We are delusional.

'Worrying' decline in oil and gas production in UK

Frack, baby, frack.

EOR, baby, EOR

...here is what I am on about - utter nonsense served up by a mainstream newspaper :


it says just 100 shale gas wells in the UK could HALVE the amount of gas we import. Let's do some elementary school maths:

UK currently imports approx 4 billion cubic feet per day (eye-balled from http://mazamascience.com/OilExport/)

To halve that would mean those 100 wells producing 2 billion cubic feet per day.

Is this reasonable?

from http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_prod_shalegas_s1_a.htm (official US government figures) gives TOTAL US shale production (average day) during 2011 was 8 billion cubic feet.

[EDIT: In my haste I misread the eia data, it is not 8 billion a day, rather 8,000 billion a year or 21 billion a day. so my figure below should be for an equivalent US total wells of 1,500 approx. Still, no where near]

So on a like for like basis I would conclude that in 2011 there most surely only have been about 400 shale gas wells IN TOTAL in the WHOLE OF THE US. I am not even going to bother to find official numbers of wells drilled. Any one has the number of actually producing wells for 2011 in the US please do let me know. I will bet both my kidneys it is a lot more than 400 !

See what I mean? In the space of 5 minutes armed with only an internet connection I have totally debunked this idiotic news article - however over half a million readers, readers of a certain political persuasion and voting intention to boot - have read it and taken it as Gospel.

Good grief.


here is a picture of the Manchester Trafford Center :


The article is trying to say that an area of land of equivalent size is all we need to use to halve our imports! In other words don't worry we can tuck it away somewhere no one will notice. Or as mentioned above the US would only need to have used 4 Trafford Centre's worth of land to provide all the shale gas they did in 2011. ARGGGGHHHH!!

Art Berman has suggested that for UK

"Based on well productivity from the Barnett Shale, it will take approximately 30,000 wells to fully develop the Bowland Shale potential reserves."


"In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,"(Tennyson)


Thanks for the link Phil.

30,000 wells in Lancashire!! Not a chance they will be able to get 300 up and running.

Incidentally, I am writing this from the Isle of Wight, and I kid you not, less than 200 yards from where Tennyson penned that poem!

four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire? . . . . Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

My immediate thought (song?), as well. Awesome to check back and find that you thought it, also, and wrote it down, Spec. I will, indeed, miss this place.

...I'd love to tuuuurrrn yooouuuu oooonnnn.
-- sung to gas stove with no gas

Oil prices have reached an all time high in India and only today me and my colleagues were having discussion on the future of oil, one of them mentioned shale oil. I forwarded them the "Red Queen" article by Rune Likvern. They are engineers so they have some background in maths, that shut them up pretty quick.

Thanks a ton to TOD.

The drop in the rupee to the dollar will raise the rupee price of oil as the international oil price is denominated in US dollars.

An oil importing country that subsidizes domestic oil consumption is not only exposed to rising oil prices but the decline in value of their currency that rising oil prices might cause... leading to an amplified increase in the domestic price.

Rinse and repeat.

India needs to leave oil before oil leaves them!

An oil importing country that subsidizes domestic oil consumption is not only exposed to rising oil prices but the decline in value of their currency that rising oil prices might cause... leading to an amplified increase in the domestic price.

Currency rates update August 21: $102.03 to US$1

The weighted average selling rate of the Jamaican dollar cleared the $102 mark against the United States dollar for the first time today, losing $0.09 on its way during trading.

I really hope the new ASPO replacement for TOD or some other site rises to fill the void that is going to be left when TOD goes static! I'm really going to miss the ability of you guys to connect the dots. Of course, this is the invisible hand at work. If a country is running trade and budget deficits to pay for fuel imports, the invisible hand must eventually intervene to restore equilibrium!

Alan from the islands

Alan, I thought you might be interested in this. Purportedly crowdfunding to help 10 caribbean islands to get of fossils. I suspect your island is too big for the first round.
"Carbon War Room Looks to crowdfund $1M to move Caribbean Islands Off Fossil fuels"

India needs to leave oil before oil leaves them

Easier said than done, it's a giant unmanageable country.

The truth is that oil (imported from overseas) will leave the US before it leaves India.

India is a country with a population of 1.241 billion as opposed to the US's 313.9 million. A quick napkin calculation give us a ratio of roughly 1:4 Americans to Indians. Oil being a fungible commodity - I can see entire neighborhoods of Indians putting their rupees into the bucket for the sustenance (cooking fuel, neighborhood emergency motorized rickshaw) - contrast that with the average American's need to fill their car's belly so they can make it to the shopping mall.

Add to the opposition the Chinese - population 1.344 billion. Now we're at 1:8 ratio - it's clear we're screwed for BAU, and soon.

Hi, Norway here.

I live on the West coast and get info from people working in the industry and I read updated info from the government, which they are really good at providing. The Norwegian part of the North sea is receiving billions of pounds in investments as well, and new infrastructure has come in place, and this has really helped to slow decline and helped new fields like the 3 billion barrel field Johan Sverdrup to be found. Production C+C is now 1.85 million barrels and thats great compared to the UK which is now at 0.88 mbpd. The infrastructure in the UK sector has been neglected, and the higher taxes haven't exactly helped much either. The new investments are probably a welcomed thing, but to say that production will actually increase is nonsense. It will at best be a slower decline, from ~15% a year to maybe 7% a year like the Norwegian side. As of Denmark, they're soon net importers, with a consumption at 160 kbpd and production at 200 kbpd. Netherlands are at less than 40 kbpd (I think). North Sea will certainly never be back at the 6 mbpd it was ten/fifteen years ago, and will probably be net importer by 2015. Europe is going to have to compete with Asia over Russias oil, if an economic recovery is ever possible.

I heard on the oilfield grape vine, Shell/Nam are suppose to have recently (this month) had a really good gas find in Holland. I don't see anything about it on the net, but news in the oil field sometimes travels faster than google.

It may hold off the hounds for a little bit longer, maybe?

I haven't heard about that, but the last time I checked Dutch gas production, the offshore production was declining while the Groningen gas field was increasing. Groningen is bascially the backbone of the Dutch gas production, allowing them to be net exporters.

" The Norwegian part of the North sea is receiving billions of pounds in investments as well, and new infrastructure has come in place...[snip]...The infrastructure in the UK sector has been neglected, and the higher taxes haven't exactly helped much either. The new investments are probably a welcomed thing..."

Having to give more Golden Eggs back to the Goose to keep her laying. Peak oil in a nuteggshell.

Take it easy - everything will be fine - it's all in God's hands now as far as UK shale fracking-troubles is concerned

>> "Church of England 'land grab' for rights to minerals under THOUSANDS of homes and farms fuels fears of controversial fracking


Take notice >> The claim is being made under laws dating back to the Norman Conquest (a sleeping 1000y old law, still alive and kicking?)

United Kingdom Offshore Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production, January 2000 to April 2013

UK Offshore Crude Oil and Lease Condensate Production January 2000 to April 2013

Most of the "hippies" I know of including myself believe fervently in conservation via
bicycles, walking, hitchhiking, public transit, cutting consumption and also renewables like solar and wind energy.

Anything that puts up an obstacle to pulling more fossil fuels out of the ground and
burning them to promote Global Warming is a good thing in my opinion as it forces people to face the true externalities of fossil fuels.

Thank god that "hippies" stopped nuclear power for decades from further expansion in the USA in the light of the Fukushima disaster..

Yes you kept the world free of nuke plants so that those coal plants could keep churning out thier planet wide pollution instead.

And now the sacrifices will be made.

Not quite.. somebody else, including these very Oil and Coal interests, were working diligently to keep us from moving in rational and useful directions. They got the Solar yanked from the White House roof and from the national discussion, right when it could have taken off.. Made sure that the sober use of sweaters and thermostats would be laughed out of the room, as 'American's don't roll that way..' ..

So why not offer some blame to the coal companies for the coal that's been burned? The misinformed consumers aren't entirely guiltless, but it's been shown that some of the above acted on these things with knowledge, while others failed to act merely due to (managed) ignorance.

I don't really recall any hippies holding rallies or marches to push a solar agenda. We as a generation made a collective choice and it was a very wrong one. As a direct result of our choice the entire planet is going to pay a steep price. Blaming faceless amoral corporations may sooth a conscience or two but it does not change the reality of what we did.

I'm not sure what you mean by "hippies", but I certainly recall MUSE (Musicians United for Solar Energy).

You seem to be willing to hang this opposition to Nuclear Power on them, (while many other 'non-hippies' were marching against nukes, too) but can't decide if there were energy options that they WERE willing to put on the table as alternates..

You might peek in on what the Whole Earth Catalog was saying, or read some of the Earth Day Signage, or Mother Earth News. It seems to me that the labelling is actually the other way around, because if you DID advocate for Solar power, (or economizing, downshifting, getting by with less) they'd just call you a hippie automatically.

The corporations, politicians and public groups like the Chamber of Commerce and API that have worked forcefully to steer us off of a renewables path are hardly faceless, and neither do I need them to retain my confidence in the choice to oppose Nuclear power. It has bred secrecy, corruption and abuse of power as they try to keep their little leaks and dribbles away from the eyes of a justly concerned public.

All it offers us is a money hole, and a set of troubles we have shown through Japan, Ukraine and Hanford Washington, among other spots, that we don't have the capacity or the intention to properly manage.

Kettle, this seems like a really strange rewriting of history. I was at the first Earth Day in 1970 in New York. It was revolutionary precisely because it was not a rally or march in the conventional sense; we were smart enough to realize that complaining was not a viable vector for change.

We walked through Central Park picking up garbage ALL DAY, the whole point of it was taking personal responsibility and getting involved, not about blaming anyone else.

As for a solar agenda, environmental science was a course that was taught in high school. We learned about the dangers of nuclear power and what anthropogenic climate change was likely to look like. In retrospect, the predictions made in that course were shockingly accurate.

I remember my father and I being unable to understand why we didn't begin shifting away from internal combustion engines towards battery operated cares powered by solar engine, or Stirling engines with flywheels or something. It didn't make any sense to either of us, and I had hair down to my ass and Dad was a John Birch Society defense contractor who wanted Ronald Reagan to be president during the Kennedy administration.

I'm not sure the hippie dialogue explains much of what went wrong.

... and what's this 'we' sh*t? I don't think 'we've met.

Those of us who opposed nukes back in the day were called "hippies", which was a made up term the media applied to those it did not understand. A few of us participated in a California initiative petition campaign opposing nuclear power and after a couple of years effort, when time came to vote on in '76, the industrial might of the electrical power industry buried us with massive spending in opposition. There was no question about laying blame on "faceless corporations", as the campaign spending was clearly documented. It wasn't until after Three Mile Island that opposition to nuclear power really took hold.

And, many of us tried on a national level to promote solar energy. Remember "Sun Day is May Third"? I guess you were "overseas" back then (or maybe, out to lunch)...

E. Swanson

And those who opposed nuclear power we so right to have done so. One only needs to look at the ongoing and worsening catastrophe at Fukushima for just one example of why.

Snide and ad hominem.

With The Tesla Model S, Elon Musk Has Created A Nice Fossil Fuel Car


There is a lot of truth in this. The more electric cars, the more coal needs to be burned.

Sad that this basic and obvious point needs to be made by a mega-loon from Forbes.

The idea of everybody maintaining a 3,500-pound machine to accomplish everyday locomotion was, is, and always will be massively insane. At least the greedy creeps who created the system were genuinely ignorant of the relevant facts. There are simply no excuses now.

Funnily enough, roughly the same weight as a Shire horse.

Actually, there is a lot garbage in that. Coal was around 50% of our grid but in recent years it dropped down to the 30s%. It has gone back up a little recently to around 40% due to natural gas prices going up a bit but it may drop back down. Wind was the most installed electricity production system in the USA last year, just edging out natural gas. Solar is also coming on strong due to the huge drop in PV panel prices.

And the places where EVs tend to sell also tend use very little coal. I live in Silicon Valley and I can't leave my house w/o seeing a Tesla Model S. The carpool lane is filled with Leafs, Volts, and Model S cars. Our local electricity uses less than 1% coal. And EV buyers here often go on to buy a solar PV system because that way they can generate their own electricity for their EVs such that EVs are helping drive PV.

The pacific Northwest also sells a lot of EVs and they are mostly hydropower. So increased EVs really doesn't translate to lots more coal burned.

Of course, you of all people should already know this. You live in probably the #1 EV per capita market in the world (Norway) . . . and all your power is hydropower!

Ah, if only all of America was wealthy enough to be just like upscale Silicon Valley.

blah blah blah

The Spark EV is $27K BEFORE ANY SUBSIDY. The Leaf S is $28K BEFORE ANY SUBSIDY. The Volt is now $35K BEFORE ANY SUBSIDY. All of those cars qualify for a $7500 fed tax-credit. And there are some state incentives. And you save $1K+/year in gasoline costs.

Tesla gets lots of attention but there are inexpensive EVs for common folk.

That's all well and good, but for each of those cars a buyer can purchase an ICE-only version for MUCH less, even taking the tax credit into account. So a buyer with a limited budget, looking to buy a car of a given size, performance level, etc., can still do better by opting for the ICE-only version. An affluent buyer with money to spare can afford to give weight to environmental considerations, convenience of HOV lane usage, etc., but most people around the world don't have that luxury.

Sure they can. But they would merely be getting razor for free and then paying $5 per blade.

Over 8 years of ownership, they'll end up spending more for gasoline than they did to buy the car. The gas car is merely an illusion of being cheaper . . . in the long run it will cost more money.

So what? If they can't buy it, it has no meaning that it's cheaper to run! Minimum-wage job, rent, maybe $500 in the bank. There's no way in hell you're going to get a loan on even a $10,000 car let alone make the payments! In your world people are just stupid to rent a dump when it's so much cheaper to buy an energy-efficient house. You truly don't get it, do you?

The phenomenon you speak of is called a "Poverty Trap" and it's a very dangerous phenomenon at that. It can even afflict entire countries. I think most of the US is trapped in one right now, mostly because of inflated housing prices in combination with stagnant wages. Then again - there are plenty of people "affording" lots of fancy stuff when they could be getting themselves ahead of the curve by going efficient and ditching debt. Because of the poor planning of the US one of the biggest efficiency moves - ditching the car all together - is essentially a non-existent option in most of the country.

I seriously don't know how a lot people - particularly working the wal-mart type jobs are actually surviving of that amount of money - let alone trying to raise families on those wages.

They dont - The government subsidises them with food stamps and other social programs

Right! In California Wal-Mart has been helping their own employees to sign up for Food Stamps and Medicaid.

OR we could provide frequent accessible Green public transit everywhere as in New York City where a monthly unlimited Metrocard provides unlimited transit on all subways and buses in the 5 boroughs of New York City for $112!

Personally I pay $106 out of pocket in the New Jersey suburbs for my unlimited monthly Rail pass which is my totally commuting costs versus $500 per month I would spend if I drove. We should be providing these options all over the US!

As the New York transit system has a farebox recovery ratio close to 50% (about the best in the country) that means the taxpayer is subsidizing you around 100%.

Of course, that is operating cost only. Capital cost is conveniently omitted. And does your car really cost $500 per month to operate? I saw in the news today that the annual cost of owning a car in New York is $3,315, or $276 per month. Carrying a passenger 20% of the time would just about make the cost of using a car equal to the cost of transit. Carrying two people all the time would make the cost of a car $138 per person per month. That's still a third more than you're paying for transit, but a third less than you and the taxpayer together are paying for your transit.

I'd love to have cheap frequent accessible Green public transit available everywhere I needed to go, but there isn't enough money for that.

But there is somehow money for a freeway system that the capital of cars, Detroit, seeks to expand, while writhing in the throes of bankruptcy? Curious! Let me know when they stop raiding the general fund to prop up what passes for a modern transportation network in America.

In the meantime, I would like car drivers to not give me double middle fingers while I try to point out they're driving the wrong way on a one-way road, and for SDOT to put the crosswalk that they've not maintained for years at that location back into working order. Closing the road to vehicle traffic would also be acceptable; this shouldn't take more than a decade or two, unless the population have a sudden change of heart, by which I mean taxes, for road maintenance. Schools and actually walkable neighborhoods might be a better use for that limited revenue, but the state cannot even pass a sugar tax to fund schools, so...

What don't people understand about $27K not being cheap for many people?! Also, the $7500 tax credit isn't meaningful if you don't pay that much in taxes! It's not a subsidy, it's a reduction in FED taxes that doesn't go below zero. It doesn't come off SS or FICA taxes. No lower income person pays anywhere near $7500/year FED taxes. They don't get what you are calling a "subsidy". NO EV is cheap for many of your "common" folk.

As I said in a response to Nick and he totally ignores, if you don't have stellar credit and have a low income, it's impossible to buy this supposedly "cheap" car that saves you "$1K+/year" in gas. They won't get any financing, they have to pay cash. Many, many people are stuck, it's no different if your monthly income is just enough to pay rent. That doesn't mean you can just go out and buy a house even if the payment would be lower than your rent. Ain't gonna happen! Why is it that most people who are decently well off are totally blind to how anybody less well off lives?

Well said. A year-old used Honda Accord is $17K in these parts. Civics are $12K and get 37MPG. Both will last 10+ years with very low maintenance.

The math would favor the hybrid when gas reaches $7/gallon, but we aren't there yet...

I think augjohnson is probably referring to the very large groups of people who can't afford a new car at all. Not to be critical, but most aren't getting one year old used cars either - they buy cars that are several years old. A $5000 car is a major expense that many people can barely afford, and many people finance at even very low levels (so they pay more but less per-month, it makes no sense but neither does a mortgage).

And then there are the people below THAT - people buying beaters. And below that are the people who buy a bus pass and/or ride a bike.

I think many people forget how easy it is to be poor, and how hard it is to do much of anything when you are poor. Lots of people make less than $30k, even less than $20k, here in the US. I think I remember a certain presidential candidate complaining that 47% didn't pay any taxes (the vast majority because they don't make enough money, unlike said presidential candidate who paid 13% in taxes on millions of dollars a year).

Seriously, there are lots of poor people. You don't see them if you make enough money, it's like the movie "The Sixth Sense". The thing is, they are there, right across the counter from you at Starbucks, working the register at the grocery store, etc.

Well said. I don't think many understand the nature of our predicament, and that we will not be buying our way out of it.

Exactly. And buying any new car is out of the question for probably 2/3 of the U.S. population. The lack of consciousness of the crushing expense of the whole cars-first system is one of its most important side effects. People live in their own little bubble worlds, dreaming their own little dreams. "Mobile privatization" was Raymond Williams' term.

I'm also greatly disturbed by the argument that you get to assess the impact of EVs based on your local region's generation sources. Cars-first is a thoroughly national policy and reality. Hence, promoting EVs in hydro-heavy Oregon or NG-heavy SF is not separable from pushing them everywhere. It's not like the transportation system is somehow going to get sane in pieces. We either talk cold turkey about national reality, or we continue driving to Carmageddon.

Last time I checked the median American was driving a 3rd owner car with over a decade on it.

Thanks, augjohnson, for clearly stating a major beef of mine! A very large group of Americans aren't able to afford food and healthcare, right now. Buying a $27,000.00 EV even with a $7,500 tax credit is completely beyond their reach. They are lucky if they can buy a $3,500 ten year old ICE beater.

Right on, aug, some folk's are completely out of touch with other folks' reality. I've never paid more than $22K for a vehicle, and have only owned one new vehicle in nearly 40 years of driving. I know plenty of folks who likely never paid more than $2000-$3000 for a car they had to repair themselves, and many others have to sacrifice to buy something to get to work in, for under $1000. Then they have taxes, insurance, fuel, etc. A new or used EV/hybrid may as well be a Ferrari. Tax credit? Ha! What's that? The 47 million Americans on SNAP (food stamps) certainly aren't shopping for an EV. Financing?

The young family down the road qualified for financing on a used mini van they needed badly; a 6 years old Caravan, sticker price was $7800. Payments are $88/WEEK for 48 months. They'll pay $18,304. I didn't burst their bubble since they were so excited that they actually got a loan and a 'new' car. They both work, mostly part time, and they couldn't both work if their kids weren't in subsidized day care. Both graduated high school, but college is just a dream.

This is why those like Nick who do their hand-waving and say "it's no problem!" annoy me so much. They think the entire world is at least as well off as they are and in actuality they have no clue at all. They are totally blind to how the people that "serve" them live, yet they are totally persistent in their quest to deny that there's anybody who can't do what they've said can be done.

Isn't there something like "You need to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes"? I'd like to see one of these people trade places and spend 5 years working at Wal-Mart or Starbucks! Without any of the "goodies" or "perks" that they now enjoy!

According to Motor Intelligence, Americans are on track to purchase some 15.8 million new vehicles this year, half being pick-up trucks. And according to Forbes, the average new car sold in America comes in at just over $30,000.00.

So, the new car market seems fairly robust, and for every Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris there's probably a $60K Longhorn or King Ranch rolling down the pike.


Roughly one new vehicle for every man, woman and child living in West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming.

Hali, you seem to be missing the point here. This society is hugely polarized. Buying new cars happens among the top 25%. The farther up the stratification ladder you go, the more new cars they buy. It remains a very frequent event amongst the comfortable classes. Hence, that 16 million number. But there are 120 million households down here. Most could not consider buying a new automobile.

New vehicles become used vehicles at some point (at least the ones that don't meet an untimely death), and if you can't afford to buy new, you look elsewhere. I'm sure a good number of Americans will have to wait five or ten years before these alternative choices become affordable to them. That's pretty much a given.


"...a 6 years old Caravan, sticker price was $7800. Payments are $88/WEEK for 48 months. They'll pay $18,304."

That is such usurious scoundralism. They could literally walk into a Nissan dealership and lease a brand new Leaf for less than that and have about $7,000 saved over that amount of time in the difference between purchasing the Caravan and leasing the Leaf to put as a down payment towards buying it at the end of the lease. Scratch that - depending on how far they drive they might have over $10,000 saved because of not having to buy gas.

It's interesting that people go flying off the handle at the idea of a $30,000 car - and then compare it to a second-hand car and declare "It can't be done!" Well, hop on over to [popular used car website] and look up Leafs and Volts. You (yes YOU!) can today purchase an off-lease Nissan Leaf with around 20,000 miles for about $18,000 and I've seen Volts with ~25,000 miles for *under* $25,000. These have obviously just come off a short lease.

So with 20,000 miles on the odo, some poor soul has knocked $12,000 off of the original price...EVs and EREVs come in second-hand too!!

I paid $6,200 for a Prius with 180,000 miles on it...the guy had the original window sticker - he paid $27,000. It works out that he drove it for about $250/mo (disregarding consumables - just base depreciation) - and I expect to get at least 6 years of ownership out of it, putting my cost around $90/mo if that holds (and I drive it until it's worth $0).

You've actually pointed out the real problem in this scenario...the economic system (and societal system...) that these cars are to be sold into is broken.

BTW how many offspring do these folks have if they "need" a minivan?

"...a 6 years old Caravan, sticker price was $7800. Payments are $88/WEEK for 48 months. They'll pay $18,304."

They could literally walk into a Nissan dealership and lease a brand new Leaf for less than that and have about $7,000 saved

Well, hop on over to [popular used car website] and look up Leafs and Volts. You (yes YOU!) can today purchase an off-lease Nissan Leaf with around 20,000 miles for about $18,000 and I've seen Volts with ~25,000 miles for *under* $25,000.

Do you understand that these people probably wouldn't even qualify for the lease? This sort of "financing" is all that they'll ever get! Even you don't understand what is "normal life" for many, many people! What you take for granted is something they don't even dare think about.

I paid $6,200 for a Prius with 180,000 miles on it

I'll bet you paid cash for it too. Or had a great credit rating to finance it. Hard to do if you have at most $500 and maybe $50-$100 extra each month.

You've actually pointed out the real problem in this scenario...the economic system (and societal system...) that these cars are to be sold into is broken.

True, and until this is "fixed" none of the pie in the sky transitions to EVs and the like are ever going to happen.

"I'll bet you paid cash for it too."

You bet correctly, but it also comes at a cost...I "housepool." The cost of housing around here exceeds my income, so I don't live alone - it's a major PITA, but I prefer it to debt. I'd be totally fracked if I had a full mortgage with the income I have. But by housepooling I can afford to buy a car for cash and stay off the debt treadmill. btw, my previous car I bought for $1,900 drove for about 15 years, and did all of the maintenance and repair work myself.

Fine and dandy. Let's say you've done smarter things and made it so you can buy the car you're saying they should. Well, they didn't do what you did. Maybe if they did they could buy that car. They didn't and they can't. For the magical thing to happen and everybody make your and Nick's and Spec's EV transition happen, they need to buy that car. But they can't, they didn't do what you did. They're stupid. The problem is that they can't buy the proper car and the magic won't happen. It doesn't matter that they should have done what you did, they didn't. That's what we have to work with. That's the situation a huge part of the US is in today. Sorry for the rambling, but it's hard to understand the blindness...

I understand it - but as HereinHalifax pointed out "According to Motor Intelligence, Americans are on track to purchase some 15.8 million new vehicles this year†, half being pick-up trucks. And according to Forbes, the average new car sold in America comes in at just over $30,000.00."

I see a f--k of a lot of luxury cars and $35,000+ SUVs and Trucks - with flawless paint jobs and beds that don't have a scratch - an obvious sign that they're being used as suburban commuter vehicles and not as work trucks. The money's out there flying around to get the transition underway - but it's still being spent digging the hole deeper. I'd like to at least see that trend reversed.

At this point, the people that you're talking about - scraping the bottom and barely making it are part of what Chris Hedges refers to as "Capitalism Sacrifice Zones." There are some areas which are concentrated capitalism sacrifice zones and there are many more which are more distributed at this point. We have a broken social system which is driving a huge divide creating a very small "have" class and a large "have-not" underclass. That will have to be addressed but it doesn't mean you have to stop everything else first.

Most of the people "buying" those things are doing so on credit. They are taking on debt in the belief that things are getting better economically, and that their boat will rise. When it doesn't they'll be left with the debt they cannot pay, to move down into the "Capitalism Sacrifice Zone" with all the others. We're all just a step or two away, as the resources available to accommodate the American Dream shrink every year, and the number that can be included shrinks faster and faster.

Right! Buying things on credit has become so much a part of the "American Dream" that those who do it are totally unable to conceive at all of not being able to do it. They automatically think that that's how anybody buys a car and that those who can't, don't matter. As time goes on, more and more people will fall into the "don't matter" zone.

Subprime Auto Loans, exempted from the banking regulations after the 2008 crash,
will likely be the next bubble to burst unless a student loan strike comes first...

They didn't and they can't. For the magical thing to happen and everybody make your and Nick's and Spec's EV transition happen, they need to buy that car. But they can't, they didn't do what you did. They're stupid.

No . . . as the average price of a new car shows, people CAN buy EVs if they really wanted to. But they don't want to. The range *is* an issue. Charging time *is* an issue. You pretty much need to get a charger installed. And the EVs do cost more money. I get all that. I realize that I am a fringe early adopter.

Plenty of people can EVs, they just choose not to . . . because they don't have to. Gas cars are much cheaper up front, they don't have the issues mentioned above, and most of all . . . gasoline is still relatively cheap. That is why they don't buy them. They are not stupid, they've just never heard of peak oil or don't believe it is an issue.

So the transition toward EVs will be a long slow process. People need to learn about them and get accustomed to the limitations. But since there is no pressing need to switch, people don't. Right now the buyers are just tech gadget fans, environmentalists, trade deficit hawks, national security mavens, and peak oil worriers (I'm a combo of all those!).

But as gas prices ratchet higher in the coming years and the EVs get better and cheaper, more and more people will adopt them as the advantages become more pronounced. Right now the downsides slightly outweigh the upsides or they are about even but the upsides are long-term things and people are short-term motivated. It is evolution not revolution. I don't understand this "Well everyone is not buying an EV right now thus they are a failure and will never work!" attitude.

1. I'm not saying they're stupid, but that's often the implication by others.

2. Right now the buyers are just tech gadget fans, environmentalists, trade deficit hawks, national security mavens, and peak oil worriers (I'm a combo of all those!). I'm right there with you! But for decades I've also been extremely frugal and totally aware of "Appropriate Tech". I've owned two different EV conversions, one of them was a 1988 Chevy Sprint that I bought from Otmar Ebenhoech, designer of the Zilla controller.

When we bought our 2012 Prius C, we did so with cash and gave our 2002 Toyota to the 26 year old single-mom daughter who has a BS in Environmental Bio-Sci, two published papers as an undergrad, and yet is struggling to find a part-time job even outside her field! Way outside her field, as in anything. There are a lot more people in what Twilight calls the "Capitalism Sacrifice Zone" than almost anyone admits to, and more arriving there every day.

A decade ago I would have been right there with you in what you're saying, but after seeing what's been happening it's harder and harder to see that we're going to do a darn thing before it's not possible to make any kind of change other than what will be forced on us. We needed to start decades ago yet we didn't. We went farther into denial instead and are still doing so.

Spec I think you are missing alot of points. Jumping to some not addressed yet, a big factor for many of us in the north is we simply aren't sure how these will hold up in the ice and snow. Or what is the range at 0 degrees, how does a charge hold at work when it's cold and nasty all day.

I'd love to get one, if all these points were addressed and wishes were horses, but are they making them in 4WD? Like many in the rural north, we find snow removal isn't what it was, and though we work at home and farm, there's also longer commutes involved to get to that required cash job. Probably need an ICE for half of the year, it's too expensive for 2 vehicles.

Well duh! Ya just plug it in!

Easier said than done.

That won't cut the cold weather performance. The vehicles just aren't quite there yet. I read on the Tesla forums that Norwegians are skeptical of the Model S for this reason, that heating the vehicle discharges the battery even when plugged in to the grid, and of other climate issues.

I was being sarcastic. I live in a small apartment building in a small town in rural Iowa. There is no where to plug in an EV around here. Not at work either, and I work for the largest manufacturer of ag equipment in the world. The only way it would work around here is if you have a house with a garage. You will need to be pretty well-off to own an EV. From November to April, half of the year, the EV will have reduced range due to the lower temps.

Tesla needs more global warming before releasing their snowmobile.

Cold weather is clearly an issue for EVs. But it is an engineering issue to be addressed. And don't jump on the 'all or nothing thinking' . . . some applications will never work with batteries. Some things can be handled with partial measures . . . for example, the Chevy Volt and other PHEVs may be a great way of electrifying cars in Northern climates.

The vampire draw of the Tesla Model S was a significant flaw in that vehicle. It didn't get much press because the owners of a $70K can afford some wasted electricity and the critics probably didnt understand the issue. But they've issued a patch that reduces the problem. And hopefully future designs are more efficient.

Augjohnson, the family you describe does not have enough money to buy the minivan nor have children. If they can pay $88 / week in car payments for 4 years, then they can save $88 / week for two years to buy the used minivan while, in the meantime, using the money they will have to spend on fuel, insurance, maintenance and repair on other, cheaper modes of transportation. Do you realize they accepted 23.8% interest compounded annually? They make bad decisions that trap themselves.

Do you realize they accepted 23.8% interest compounded annually?

No sh!t Sherlock!

They make bad decisions that trap themselves.

Fer f@ck's sake!

You seem to be forgetting the little detail that the system was deliberately created to trap them, and it worked like a charm.

Unfortunately plenty of people around the world are buying in to the same system when there is no real need to other than living the dream.

Banks here in Peru have started offering extortionate rates just like that and are managing to convince people to trade up. 8 years ago when I first came to Peru everyone was driving around in secondhand Ticos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daewoo_Tico), an ugly Korean box on wheels but cheap as hell. Now the people who own/owned Ticos are trading up to Suzukis which cost about ten times as much but with ridiculously expensive loans can now be bought.

Cusco isn't a city where a car is necessary. I can walk anywhere in the center in 30 minutes and there are literally hundreds of VW Combis running around the city which means you can get anywhere you want in under an hour. Obviously these old bangers aren't great environmentally and I frequently curse the billows of black smoke that pour out of them, however I'd prefer a broken down public transport system to the thousands of cars that are now appearing all over the city.

People here are being sold dreams and buying in to it - the system isn't in place yet here but just a few more years and it will be as if nothing else ever existed. In a way I hope that the worldwide recession will hit home here as Cusco might have a chance; with a 700 million dollar airport in the works and a 5 billion dollar mine due to open in 2 years I don't see a backtrack anytime soon.

Hi Inglorious: please send me your email address, I have some material to share with you on the Peru energy scene. tlove AT linfield DOT edu

There are always greedy people looking for their next victim. Because they accepted a rather obvious bad deal, I have no sympathy for them. Grow up....

For clarity, the young couple in question had been refused financing at the Ford dealership, the Dodge dealership, a local bank, and the State credit union. She works in the deli at the local grocery store (a large regional chain) for minimum wage, limited to 24 hours per week. He recently changed jobs to get an extra dollar an hour and is working part time as well. When these two got married, he had a reasonably well paying job at a large ICE toy dealership as a mechanic, insurance + benefits, and she was in school. The dealership went into bankruptcy in 2009; it's now a Catholic church.

1. They made the best deal available to them at the time so they could get their kids to daycare and their butts to work.

2. They were refused more reasonable credit because they work part time and he has been on his new job less than a year, and credit is tight these days unless you're a "well qualified buyer" (like in the Lexus commercial).

3. I have no doubt they'll do whatever it takes to make every payment on time.

4. It's easy to blame people for their condition when one doesn't know their circumstances. In 2008, my wife's and my combined income went from high 5 figures to zip in three weeks. The companies we worked for didn't exist any more. Poof! If we hadn't paid a lot of things forward, we would have been screwed.

5. ...and what exactly does "grow up" mean? Nobody has explained that to me to my satisfaction. IMO, we're all making this up as we go along.

BTW, as I write this I'm watching ABC Nightline about RAM (Remote Area Medical); 2500+ people waiting at a fairground in Virginia at 5 AM, hoping to get free basic medical or dental care. I guess they all need to "grow up", huh? Their first stop is called 'triage'. Jeez...

Hey Ghung,

My business partner sails with a guy who owns an auto dealership that specializes in this type of financing. From what I'm told, the rate of default is far less than what you might expect because the folks who purchase these vehicles desperately need some means to get back and forth to work, and if this is taken away from them, their financial position becomes that much more dire. He says he worries more about the ones with good credit who would be prepared to walk-away from their obligations because it wouldn't impact them to the same extent.


I have a brother-in-law in the same business. I used to think he was something of a loan shark until I actually spent some time at his business last year. He's very up front with his customers about the process, costs, all that, and what more credit-worthy folks see as ridiculously high interest rates mostly reflect his costs of doing business. His customers seem to appreciate him and his services a lot, especially since they've usually been rejected by the more mainstream credit market.

He also rents cars to folks who don't have credit cards or good credit (actually, the bulk of his business), daily/weekly/monthly. He explains the economics to his customers quite well; that it may be better for them to rent for a while than to saddle themselves with a high interest loan for years. When I was there, he was renting a car that he had had to repo from a customer; renting it back to the same customer on a week-to-week basis (the guy had been furloughed for 12 weeks). The hope was that the guy could get caught up, and to keep him getting to work on time.

Pawn shops get a bad reputation as well, but years ago I had to pawn some guns to pay tuition (child support and kids' medical bills came first). Those same guns are in the gun safe as I type, worth several times what they were back in the day. I had actually bought one of the rifles at the same pawn shop a couple of years earlier.

Whether or not someone is a predator or offering a necessary service is often a matter of one's point of view it seems.

Those stories really show the problem with our oil-fueled suburban lifestyle. The rich can afford the increase in gas prices. But it can push the poor over the edge. We need to change the living arrangements so that people have public transportation available or live closer to work. Poor people commuting to work by gas-guzzler is just not a sustainable system. Planet Money had a story about people renting tires! Renting TIRES! Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous?!?! Clearly a sign that the current system cannot be sustained. People need to realize that and change their ways.

It means make responsible decisions like getting a live-in baby sitter in exchange for free room and board. Grandma? Neighbor?

Daycare suggests their children were born within the last 5 years around the time the dealership when bankrupt. Increase the expenses and then complain that you can not pay the bills.

Gee, Ghung, I am in the 4 figure annual income club, but I do not have the issues that wealthy people (5 figures and above) constantly whine about. Perhaps they are optimists who make risky decisions because they always think things will work out. Perhaps they have a longage of expectations. They will not get what they want paying 25% compounded annually. They needed to pick a better option.

Yes, I know they made the bad decisions themselves! The point is that Spec, Nick and others say that they CAN buy the EV or Hybrid and that will let us easily transition to their magical EV economy. However, as you point out, they CAN'T buy it. The transition ISN'T that "easy" because all those people CAN'T make the "easy" transition.

The fact remains that you can now buy an EV for the same price as a gasoline car. The total cost of ownership of a EV is less than a comparable gasoline car. If someone cannot afford a new or used EV, then they cannot afford a new or used gasoline car either. So what is your point?

My point is that you say the new and used EVs cost the same as gas cars. Therefore everybody that can buy any form of gas car can just go buy an EV. OK, show me the $1000-$2000 EV! One that won't have to go to a dealer for any type of repairs. I keep hearing that it's so easy to make the transition, all we have to do is do it.

So many people here don't have a clue just how a huge portion of the US actually lives, they can't just go out and make the transition by deciding they want to. Then I hear that if they can't buy the car, they can just use public transportation. Given that in many places public transportation is either being cut back, doesn't work worth a d**n or is totally non-existent, that's also a bunch of hooey. If that fails, they're supposed to just "move closer to their job". OK, when that part-time job kicks them out or closes down and the new job is 10 miles across town, are they supposed to just up and move again? How about the person working several part-time jobs?

I'm not purposely trying to find fault, just pointing out the realities that so many people live with and how it doesn't fit with an idealized dream of an easy transition to an electric future. It's not so easy for those of us who have or have had a stable, full-time, decent paying job to open our eyes and realize how extremely fortunate we've been to have what we have. But many don't have that!

But if those who can afford to make the transition do it first, then there is more gasoline left for those who cannot yet afford to make the transition. Also, note that EVs are a new technology. As times goes on, the cost of batteries (and therefor new EVs) will drop and more used EVs will be available in the market for a much lower price. By 2020, you may be able to buy a 2012 Nissan Leaf for $2000. It is not going to happen overnight.

EVs are not a new technology. Why do people keep repeating this obvious false statement?

EV's failed in the marketplace during the infancy of the automobile, while there were still other forms of transportation commonly available. The assumption now is that they were out-competed by ICE automobiles powered by cheap oil, but that an electric vehicle based automotive transportation system otherwise similar to what we have now would have been viable. I think we will find out that is not the case.

EVs are not a new technology. Why do people keep repeating this obvious false statement?

That is quite a disingenuous statement.

Low-cost lithium ion batteries are new, computers that control when charging occurs are new, smartphones that allow you to communicate with your EV are new, high-power IGBT electronics are relatively new, computers for controlling and optimizing battery usage are new, computers for carefully controlling motors are relatively new, highly-optimized regen systems are relatively new, low cost PV panels relatively new, the smart grid is new, etc.

Those people buying Teslas are NOT buying it because they are a bunch hippies. They are buying it because is a great car.

The problem with the EV-based transportation system is the time required to recharge - this is the same problem it has always had and that it will always have, as it is dictated by physics and cannot be "solved". You cannot take the system we have now, add a fixed and significant time delay to each and every recharge and expect it will work the same, or be viable at all. And that is if it had an ideal battery - the deficiencies of real batteries only make it worse, creating limits on range.

And the Tesla S is irrelevant - it is rich man's toy. They started with the expensive model because those are the only ones that can support the high costs of the materials needed to get the range, and the success of those models implies nothing about the ability to make low cost vehicles. Also, if you can barely afford to get a vehicle, but need one because that is the transportation system available in the real world right now, then it better be one that can be used.

Until the Model T came along, all cars were pretty much "rich mans' toys". Just sayin'.

The problem with cars in general (IMO) is our longage of expectations, and that they're too damn big.

The problem with the EV-based transportation system is the time required to recharge

If only humans had 8 hours a day where they didn't do anything such that we could charge their EVs! Damn!

"If only humans had 8 20 hours a day where they didn't do anything such that we could charge their EVs! Damn!"

Fixed! There aren't many people that spend more than 4 hours/day in their cars. I know he's talking about long distance driving though. Interstates and whatnot. I wonder how many of those people are actually going 100+ miles and how many are <25 miles and just commuting between work and home.

The vast majority of people would be charging at home and at work, then you'd have a certain small percentage who would need to charge once that day, a smaller percentage that would need to charge twice, and so on.

Lets say a good charge time is 45 minutes and that it'll give you 125 miles in that time. If the vehicle is getting 300Wh/mi at the socket then we need 125Mi * 300 = 37,500 Wh in 45 minutes, or 50kW of power to accomplish (67 horsepower).

Someone traveling 300 miles in a day at 125 miles per charge (assuming a 150 mile range vehicle) would need to charge 2.4 times - if a 125 mile charge took 45 minutes that would be an extra 1 hour 48 minutes added to that trip (bring total trip time to ~7 hours).

If the maximum comfortable traveling time is 12 hours, 1 mile takes a minute to travel (60mph), and 1 mile of range takes 0.36 minutes per mile to charge (45min/125mi)...that gives 1.36 * Miles = Minutes.

So 12*60/1.36 = 530 miles

Obviously the 0.36 figure means that charging accounts for 36% of travel time in this scenario. One assumes you'd do your business (eat, #1/#2) during the charge cycles so that wouldn't add to the time. A gasoline car, allotting an hour for breaks would travel 660 miles during this same time under the same criteria.

I think most people stop every couple of hours for a little while anyway. So this doesn't seem like a big dealio.

Level 3 chargers and Level 2 chargers are going to have to be capped in capacity, and L3 are probably going to have to be licensed and restricted in number to keep from walloping the grid. With a cap in place it'd also provide incentive for efficiency as a more efficient car will recharge miles as a more rapid rate - that is a car that gets 150 Wh/mi will gain double the mileage per minute that a 300 Wh/mi car will - which means less time charging and an overall lighter footprint on the grid with double the throughput per station.

The biggest Irony of this whole thread is that it is a discussion of one of the richest countries on earth, 5% of the earths population, and 75% of those people can't afford the transition. Need I remind anyone that there is a planet full to bursting with people that can't even afford a 'beater'. Any fuel 'saved' will still be burnt, and EV's are resource guzzlers and energy guzzlers, they cannot become cheap, no matter how much the technology matures. Cars are a mature technology and they are not cheap. Sure you could maybe get a leaf for $2k in 2020, but a new battery pack is going to set you back 3x that. Batteries are a pretty mature technology, been around a few thousand years, I have yet to see them get cheaper, they seem to go up in price every year.

Batteries are a pretty mature technology, been around a few thousand years, I have yet to see them get cheaper,

You are kidding, right? Batteries have been around for a few thousand years? Incidentally the cost (per KWHr) of Li ion batteries continues to fall.

Google is your friend.
Now it's my turn to be lazy, whats the cost per kwh of a li ion compared to a lead acid?

Perhaps another thing not being considered is that in the U.S. the cost of automobiles has been increasing faster than income for decades. EV's are being introduced above that inflated average price which means people are still being priced out of the automobile market.

Those arguing that everyone can have an EV now are incorrect because there are not enough available. I still have not seen a plug-in series hybrid compact pickup comparable to my gasoline powered one. It takes time to transition the automobile fleet. If a concerted effort is made, it can be done in 20 years. In its absence the pace of the conversion will likely be lock-stepped with the decline of crude oil.

There is also issue about where to charge an EV which is especially relevant to people without garages or who live in apartments.

No one will give them a grossly usurious loan to get an EV.

Well realize that you've been reduced to arguing that 'poor people can't buy EVs'. Well poor people can't buy new gas cars either! The average gas car sold is $30K and poor people can't buy them. Poverty is an issue whether cars are powered by gas or electricity. Poverty is a problem that can't be solved with EVs, I agree . . . so what?

It is like the people who argue "Well, I won't be able to drive 300 miles to grandmother's house twice a year." . . . the argument has been switched from "Can EVs help replace gas cars and thus prevent a collapse of current society." to "Can EVs provide us with all the creature comforts we currently enjoy without any sacrifice whatsoever." I'm interested in the former question not the latter. I've never said that the transition will be 'easy' . . . I constantly say that it will be hard and there will be sacrifice. I believe that is what has been happening for 6 years now and it may get worse.

Yeah, Spec, now that some of us have gone through the ritual of thoroughly beating up on the cornucopians, and established that a large percentage of the population can't afford a new (or, likely a used) EV at this point, the question is, how do we get those who can afford an EV out of their ICE vehicles? Tax credits, etc., have made only a slight dent.

I remember the oil shocks of the '70s, when the price of small fuel-efficient cars shot up, and viable models were in short supply. I went with my dad to trade in his old Galaxy 500 for a funny looking Fiat. The Fiat dealer was grinning ear-to-ear, selling everything on the lot. That's likely what it'll take; another major oil shock. At least car manufacturers have some things in their pipelines this time. Some of the solutions Detroit came up with in the '70s were downright embarrassing.

Of course, my world view is that it's all just a massive effort to extend and pretend; really embarrassing for the species as a whole. Still, like making one's home more energy self-sufficient, getting out of debt, reducing one's reliance on complex, centralized systems, etc., early adopters who charge their EVs with their PV systems will have an edge, at least for a while. Those who have any surplus wealth would do well to put it to work in sensible ways rather than squandering it on ponzi schemes and crapping up the planet. One can buy one's-self time to adapt if one also has a bit of knowledge, foresight and luck. At least you won't be telling the boss (just before the next round of layoffs) that you couldn't get to work because of a lack of fuel, and the buses were full.

*sigh* You could ask instead of just screaming I'm wrong and don't know what I'm talking about.

Yes, I know a lot of people can't take advantage a $7500 tax credit. That is why there are very cheap lease offers where the leasing company takes the tax-credit and leases the car at a very low $199/month. There have been deals for the Mitsubishi-i down as low as $69/month!

Now there are poor people driving old beater gas guzzlers and paying $150/month in gasoline. Thats a crazy waste of money. How about leasing a new Smart ED for a mere $139/month which will cost like $30/month to fuel:

Are these cars dirt cheap? No. But they are affordable to many. And poor person looking for a $1000 car can't buy a new gas car either! To make EVs more affordable, we need more of them not less. Mass manufacture and building a used market is what will make them affordable to more people. Will everyone be able to afford them? No. We need lots better public transportation.

But at least this is a solution that is presenting itself . . . should I just throw up my hands and say "It is never gonna work . . . everything is going to hell in a handbasket and we'll all soon be eating insects and making clothing from dead squirrels!" like the rest of the doomers? No, I think it is better to look for the best solutions and advocate for policies that will help them prosper. We are only a few years into the rebirth of the EV market and we already have SEVERAL EVs that are available for less than $28K unsubsidized. That was completely unthinkable a mere 5 years ago!

blah blah the poors

One thing that is being skipped over here - "the poors" have trouble affording insurance on these newer cars as the insurance firms look at the credit ratings and jack rates accordingly.

How many of "the poors" can afford the buffer needed to avoid the occasional way credit ratings are dinged?

*sigh* What do you not understand about not qualifying for the lease? Then having to give the car back when the lease is up? This is what gets me about people not having a clue about what life is like for those in less fortunate circumstances than themselves. What you take as a given, walk in and lease the car, is completely out of reach for many of the people today, even if they really, really wanted it!

Yes, as eric notes above, insurance, and registration, is yet another expense that these people can't even begin to afford. How about up-front costs for the lease? Deposit, registration, full-coverage insurance? Yet to you it's not even worth a mention. Out of touch!

This whole argument reminds me of how, back when I was in my early 20s, I had to deal with this guy who insisted that it was "totally easy" for anyone to "retire with a million" using high-yield investment accounts. I went through the math, plotted a nightmarishly spartan lifestyle of virtually nothing but dedication to working and saving and investing, with no emergencies ever. Ignoring inflation, my math said that the earliest I could retire with $1,000,000 would be at age 102.

When I showed him the math and pointed out how it obviously doesn't work for just anyone he was all "are you sure you don't have another source of income you missed?" [Rolls eyes] Yes, I'm sure.

Today, nearly 2 decades later, my money left over after all vital expenses has not significantly improved, there have been a number of expensive emergencies since then, and I have obviously not been following that unrealistic work/save/invest plan. I guess if I started tomorrow it won't be until I reach 125 or so...

Only those who live in a house with a garage where they can charge the car overnight should consider an EV.

30,000 is not inexpensive for the "common" folk

A $7500 fed tax-credit? Well ain't that nice. Being not familiar with U.S. tax law—I usually plow through a 1040EZ in a few minutes—what tax credits are there for pedestrians? Say, those who do not own a car (yeah, no) nor house (none afforable within walking distance of work). For example, I hear car drivers can apply for a discount for polluting between two places of work; what does the fed offer pedestrians?

Norway produces 99% of its electricity from hydro and can still increase production. But the rest of the world might not agree. Coal is still a big part of electricity, and with oil becoming more expensive, coal will be more popular again, even in Europe. Electric cars are what, less than 1% of the cars on the road in the US? Imagine if oil prices skyrocket and everyone wants an electric for their daily commute. Solar and wind just isn't going to cut it. Electricity will be needed to be ramped up a lot, and the cheapest and easiest way is coal. Everything else is too expensive. Countries like China and India already relay mostly on coal and will import even more in the future, from countries like Russia and Australia. But then again, owning a car in the future is going to be difficult as its going to be expensive. The electric grid in the US are in dire need of costly upgrades and an increase in electric cars to more than 10% is going to put a huge pressure on the system.

No, you still don't get it.

As I said, Wind was the most installed new electricity production system in the USA last year. Natural gas was #2. And solar is also coming on strong due to the huge drop in PV panel prices.

And no, electricity does not need to be ramped up a lot. Electric cars use less energy. Most EVs have less than gallon of gasoline worth of energy in them. The Tesla Model S with the massive battery is only around 2 and 1/2 gallons of gasoline worth of energy.

The grid would not need costly upgrades. They study this stuff. We could run millions of new EVs without a single new power plant.

Switching from gasoline cars to EVs is not just switching fuel sources . . . it means using much less energy (due to the efficiency of electric motors) and it means switching from a single energy source (oil) to a diversity of energy sources (natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar PV, geothermal, hydropower, concentrated solar, biomass, etc.) The energy savings from not exploring for, drilling, pumping, refining, and transporting oil is almost enough to cover energy needed for electric cars!

" The energy savings from not exploring for, drilling, pumping, refining, and transporting oil is almost enough to cover energy needed for electric cars!"

One of my favourite articles on the subject (in reference to the Canadian Tar Sands):

That’s a 13 kwh of grid electricity that could have been delivered to your wall socket from the energy used to produce each gallon of oil sands based gasoline under ideal conditions. This doesn’t take into account the energy used in finding, developing and finally repairing the environmental damage of the oil sands operation.

Accounting for average battery charge efficiency (see EPA sticker for each car), how much above the 23 mpg average can the new technology cars go on 13 kwhs from your wall socket? That’s enough electricity for the Chevy Volt to go 37 miles, the same distance it can go burning the gasoline. The Nissan Leaf can go 38 miles, and the Tesla Model S 34 Miles. The Tesla family sedan also has the advantage of being able to spank many purpose-built sports cars such as the 10 mpg 500 hp Dodge Viper.

It appears that using natural gas and grid electricity to produce oil instead of applying it directly to our transportation needs is like feeding bread to a cow instead of grain. Yes it works, but it is an unnecessary and costly waste that only the baker benefits from.

Wind and solar is a joke. You might as well say unicorns and angels will save the world with angeldust. And even if an electric car use less energy, it still use more electricity than an ICE car. Which means that the more electric cars, the more the fragile electric grid will need upgrades. Just because theres going to be less oil produced in the future, it doesn't mean there will be more solar and wind. There will probably be more fracking and exploring than ever, and coal will be ramped up and subsidized. People want the cheapest and easiest way to create energy, not the expensive and complex way. Coal and natural gas is abundant and cheap whether you like it or not. If wind and solar was the way to go, there wouldn't be any fracking or coal use in the world today. Even Saudi Arabia and Spain, despite abundant sunshine, still rather burn oil and coal because its easier and more convenient than solar and wind.

If all the vehicles in the U.S. are replaced with 100% battery powered vehicles, then a 23% increase in electricity production would be needed to power them. If those EV's are charged at night when demand is low, the current idle generating capacity at night is sufficient to provide the electricity. Some electricity would be freed by shutting down the oil refineries, pipelines and gasoline pumps and could be used to charge the EV's.

If all the vehicles in the U.S. are replaced with plug-in series hybrid vehicles, like the Chevy Volt, then the electricity production would need to increase by about 10%.

Presumably such a conversion of the automobile fleet would take some time, perhaps 20 years, during which wind and PV would continue expanding. This is not a problem, and the electric grid does not need to be updated nor expanded. However, converting all the U.S. vehicles to be powered by natural gas would require almost doubling the production, installing more or bigger pipelines and replacing gasoline stations with natural gas stations within two decades. The massive increase in demand for natural gas and the infrastructure build-out would increase its price placing a drag on the economy. Transitioning vehicles from gasoline to electricity is the only option that maintains the transportation system and that has a chance of success.

"...a 23% increase..."

I'd like to have a source on that.

Regardless, it will still require upgrades on a grid that can barely cope with todays consumption, and the increase in natural gas and coal production for that 23% increase in electricity to be a reality, is also substantial.

From EIA U.S. gasoline (includes ethanol) and distillate fuel oil (aka diesel) consumption in 2010 was 8,993 kb/d and 3,800 kb/d.
U.S. electricity consumption in 2010: 3,886 billion kWh = 13.99 EJ
heat of combustion of gasoline (E10) (Table 4): 33 MJ/l
heat of combustion of diesel: 44.8 MJ/kg = 44.8 MJ/kg * 0.832 kg/l = 37.3 MJ/l
1 barrel = 42 gallons/barrel = 158.97 l/barrel

If EV's are 5 times more efficient than gasoline ICE's, then the following amount of electricity is needed to replace the gasoline:

33 MJ/l * 8993 kb/d * 365 days/year * 158.97 l/barrel * .2 (efficiency) = 3.4 EJ/year

3.4 EJ / 13.99 EJ = .24 = 24%

So the 23% that I stated was for replacing all gasoline consumption but not diesel consumption. Being one percentage point off is probably due to the value being computed for a different year with a different amount of gasoline consumption.

Assuming EV's and electric trains are 4 times more efficient than diesel ICE's, then the following amount of electricity is needed to replace the diesel:

37.3 MJ/l * 3800 kb/d * 365 days/year * 158.97 l/b * .25 = 2.1 EJ/year

(3.4 EJ + 2.1 EJ) / 13.99 EJ = 39%

So a 39% increase in the production of electricity in 2010 is needed to replace all gasoline and diesel vehicles in the U.S. Because trains are 29 times more energy efficient than transporting freight in semi-trailer trucks traveling on interstate highways, moving that freight to trains would improve efficiency considerably more than 4 times.

Converting to EV's would eliminate crude oil refineries, ethanol refineries, their pipelines and fuel pumps reducing their electricity consumption making a little more available for charging the EV's. The manufacture of the EV batteries would increase electricity consumption by some amount. If PHEV's (EV battery plus range extending generator) are used during the transition, then the demand for lithium and electricity would increase more slowly giving the system considerably more time to expand. Since I think the minimum time to convert the electric grid to renewable is 40 years, converting the automobile fleet to EV would require at least that much time, use of PHEV's, a reduction in driving or reduction in electricity consumption (such as converting to LED lighting).

Powering the vehicles by electricity is plausible. Trying to power them using natural gas or coal to liquids presents numbers that are significantly more daunting.

If those EV's are charged at night when demand is low, the current idle generating capacity at night is sufficient to provide the electricity.

As if that was the only issue! Why do people insist on only considering the peak power generation, rather than the increased energy that must be generated and transmitted through the whole system?

Even if you can keep from increasing the peak (very unlikely), the energy that must be passed by the transmission and distribution grid still goes up significantly, which obviously has an effect. Whatever it is doing now it must do more. At times of high grid stress (heat waves, cold spells, damage to parts of the system, etc.) it will still have to pass more energy, each and every day.

Oil in transformers stays hotter longer, component lifetimes that are effected by cumulative energy transfer fail sooner/require more maintenance. Failure become more common and more catastrophic. Also, since the distribution grid varies a lot in terms of what percentage of capacity it operates at, but the automobile is a ubiquitous and almost exclusive transportation system, then some portions of the grid would need to be upgraded in capacity just to get going.

This is not different that saying that the roads are less used at night, so we'll add 23% more traffic and make sure it only operates at night, and this will have no effect. Or pick any other system and run it at a greater percentage of capacity for a greater percentage of time.

Yes, and what about the sheer spatial assumptions of "charging at night"? Isn't that a fantasy that presumes we're all living in our own detached suburban houses with our Leafs nursing themselves in the garage while we watch the 11 o'clock news? I live in an apartment, as do a rather fair amount of people across the nation. Who will tell my landlord it has to install an EV charger for each unit's parking space? These are the same people who will barely fix your broken dishwasher.

And, as Tesla's fumblings and ravings have already shown, this doesn't even reach the topic of the practical nightmare of scaling up daytime charging. Who is going to be willing to wait in line for hours to gain access to a half-hour blast of electrons?

The EV is a catspaw technology. Its main purpose is to trick well-meaning people into imagining cars-first transportation could be sustainable.

C'mon Michael, didn't you get the memo?

"GM tofu in every pot and a Tesla in every garage."

Those living in apartments are urban and can walk, bike or take public transportation. Not everyone in the U.S. has a car, and not everyone will have an EV in the future. I suspect the market will insist the landlords of upscale apartment buildings install chargers while the slumlords will continue their ways. As always tenants will have to choose apartments that have the amenities they want and skip the ones without.

... the practical nightmare of scaling up daytime charging. Who is going to be willing to wait in line for hours to gain access to a half-hour blast of electrons?

That only applies to people who travel long distance using a battery-only EV. Use a ship, train, plane or PHEV running off biofuel for the long distance trips. Last I read Tesla's charging stations are free which is a powerful incentive.

Those living in apartments are urban and can walk, bike or take public transportation.

Huh? Go to any major city in the country and you'll find apartment complexes scattered throughout the suburbs. There are probably millions of apartment buildings in the suburbs. Apartments are in no way restricted to the urban centers of cities, and even then, the job you can get isn't often within reach of the rotten public transportation system or biking.

Do you think it is impossible to install chargers at apartment buildings? Of course not. It is not happening right now because there is no demand for it. And Apartment managers will drag their feet. But eventually there will be market demand for it and they'll do it. But we might need to get them started with some regulations that force them to start installing them eventually.

I don't think there is sufficient reason to do that yet but here is a law that I would like see passed today:
All new apartment buildings must include CONDUIT to allow chargers to be installed in the parking spaces. Not chargers,just conduit . . . plastic or metal tubing. This will allow chargers to be quickly added later and costs very little extra right now.

It wouldn't even have to be L2 charging either - just a simple level 1 power socket would be sufficient for most apartment complexes - particularly highly urban apartments where things are likely to be closer and so overall mileage will be lower. If one assumes a 300 Wh/mi rate, L1 at 1,200W and 10 hours to charge (for example 8pm - 6am) that's 12,000Wh or 40miles of range per night. Which means that you can travel a daily average of 40 miles...which if your a normal day is 30 miles, you would be able to recover 10 miles of range per day - so if your car has 100 miles of range and you drove your normal day plus 60 extra (100 - 30 - 60 = 10) you would recover your full charge back in 6 days (in time for the weekend). Else, the apartment complex could have a couple of special pay L2/L3 stations in which you could recover full charge in a couple of hours if you plan on heading out on a trip the next day again.

OMG, people are renting apartments in the suburbs where there are no jobs. I do not travel though the suburbs enough.

The U.S. is building out wind and PV power sources while reducing electricity demand for refrigerators and lighting. Residential PV is generated and consumed locally reducing the load on the grid's transformers. An increased demand for natural gas and coal for electric generation will not occur because it will be displaced by the electricity from wind and PV at other times. Increased failures caused by increased consumption get increased revenue to repair or replace the equipment. A transformer operating at a constant power load gets a constant temperature thus avoiding thermal cycling. The issues you mention are not barriers to EV's. You are basically arguing the electric grid can not grow more which is unfounded. We are not at peak electric grid yet. If another oil price shock drags the economy down, then there will be further reductions in the consumption of electricity which will be available for those with EV's to consume.

Written by Twilight:
Why do people insist on only considering the peak power generation, rather than the increased energy that must be generated and transmitted through the whole system?

Because the details that concern you will be handled by the power companies and do not limit the conversion.

I've spent over 25years designing products for the power grid, many of which can be considered key "Smart Grid" components, that is if the term actually had any meaning at all. I've made a considerable bet that working in this industry will provide a shelter that lasts longer that other areas that I might potentially get into. In other words, it will allow me to stay the BAU game longer than otherwise (that approach would not be my personal choice, but I have obligations to support others).

If Smart Grid it means anything, it is that we cannot afford or are unwilling to make the investment to upgrade the generation, transmission and distribution capacity of the grid, so we are hoping that by overlaying a very complex control system that we'll be able to get more out of what we have. Managers like this because it sounds like "something for nothing", which they apparently are taught in MBA school is real. That control system is turning out to be more expensive and difficult than was imagined.

We stopped serious investment in the power grid with deregulation, at which point the decision was made to allow the elite to strip the assets out of the system. So I would say that we have indeed reached peak grid - not because it would be technically impossible to expand it, but because, like so much else, the industrial system is unable to make the investment now that cheap fossil fuels are gone.

The idea that the power companies will handle the details so one need not worry one's pretty little head about it is just more of the handwaving needed to make it seem like an EV-based automotive transportation system will be viable.

I thought electrical power companies are in favor of EV's because it means increasing demand for their product. You are arguing they can not handle increased demand. Where there is demand, I suspect competent businessmen will rise to the challenge sweeping the incompetent ones aside.

If they are inept, I am fully capable of charging an EV from my expanded off-grid PV system. I figure two Kyocera KD-215's and some electronics would be sufficient.

Wind and solar is a joke. You might as well say unicorns and angels will save the world with angeldust.

Solar is a laugh all right. It's got utility companies laughing so much, they are talking about a "utility death spiral".

(It's corporate BS, of course; but the PR spin wouldn't work if solar was still like angel dust. Solar is a credible threat.)

And even if an electric car use less energy, it still use more electricity than an ICE car. Which means that the more electric cars, the more the fragile electric grid will need upgrades.

No. Widespread adoption of electric vehicles can act to stabilize the grid and allow the country to get by with a smaller grid, by smoothing out peaks in demand.

Even Saudi Arabia and Spain, despite abundant sunshine, still rather burn oil and coal because its easier and more convenient than solar and wind

Yes, and no entrepreneur ever made anything cheaper or more convenient. Oh, well.

In reality, it's only been about fifteen years since people started to look at solar seriously as a large-scale electricity generation method. With coal, at a comparable stage, electricity was being generated by piston steam engines (basically stationary railway locomotives), and gas-light was here to stay.

they are talking about a "utility death spiral".

(It's corporate BS, of course;

It's not corporate BS. Cheap renewable electricity is a very real threat to utilities. And to everyone who wants electricity at the flick of a switch. If the utilities go out of business due to falling revenues it leaves society with two options: subsidize conventional and nuclear power, or adapt to renewables only.

I know many here on TOD believe that adapting would be a wonderful idea, but I fear the social, industrial, and commercial consequences of a renewables-only grid would be much worse than they imagine.

Eventually, yes, we will have to adapt as fuels run out, but I think it could only be manageable on a 100- to 200-year timescale.

The existing grid was designed to transmit power from fixed bulk generation sources to fixed asynchronous loads. That is already a fantastically difficult problem, made possible by excess capacity and the fact that the loads are not really asynchronous in aggregate, but follow predictable patterns. All the protection schemes and stability analysis assume these things.

Now try to add asynchronous distributed generation to the mix. Will your source be on line in the next hour, and how much will it be providing? If there is a fault on the line, how do I see the fault when I can no longer look at it from a single instrumented point of power entrance?

The issue is not so much a threat to the business model, rather that the grid was not designed to do distributed generation. Maybe one could be designed to do so, or the existing one could be re-designed to work in this manner. But we are discussing a very large chunk of old infrastructure that we are unable to even maintain in it's present form.

Residential PV is treated as variable demand by the power companies which is not really asynchronous in aggregate because sunrise, sunset and weather are sufficiently predictable. From their perspective a fault of a single residential system is indistinguishable from increased demand from the residence.

As for centralized PV and wind, they are not asynchronous either because sunrise, sunset and weather remain sufficiently predictable to provide time to activate peaking generators. The grid operator probably has status information from these renewable generator stations which presumably is how an entity, such as California ISO, reports daily renewable power generation.

If the old infrastructure was not being maintained in its present form, then there would be no power in electrical sockets. Because this is not the case, your pessimistic view of the grid seems faulty.

Wind and solar is a joke.

Do you have proof for this claim or just windbag rhetoric?

That petro to be slurped is the result of solar energy. The less aware people don't understand such.

But lets look at your rhetoric:

And even if an electric car use less energy, it still use more electricity than an ICE car.

Yes and an ICE uses less electricity then an electric car because an ICE uses the ICE for motive force VS electricity like an electric car does.

The upside to TOD shutting down is such obvious statements like "electric cars use more electricity than an ICE car does" will no longer have to be rebutted. The downside must be the rest of the Internet is filled with really stupid arguments.

Maybe you're new to peak oil and economics, but supply and demand is then main factor today and will be so tomorrow too. People aren't gonna turn into progressive tree huggers over night when oil is scarce and expensive. They're not going to sell their SUV (because nobody wants it) and then get an EV (because supply is low and demand is high). People are going to go to the streets demanding cheaper electricity and cheaper gasoline ASAP, and building sun panels and wind mills is not going to be what people will care about. People will demand increase in what is directly available, such as coal and shale. Those who think solar and wind will come save the day and give us all EVs and green deserts will be disappointed.

Slurper guy wrote:

People want the cheapest and easiest way to create energy, not the expensive and complex way.

Hate to tell you this, but mankind can't "create" energy. We can only transform if from a source into other forms which we find useful. And, the way which our economic system works ignores the long term costs, such as the rapid decline in gas production from fracked wells and the long term impacts of our changing the Earth's climate. Of course, we've used the easiest to find and thus cheapest sources, but those are fast running out while we still have many billions more people who want to use what's left. What "people want" is not what reality is going to deliver, sad to say...

E. Swanson

Around this relatively poor little slice of appalachia, the only folks who would even think about EV's already have PV. I am expanding my PV so that I can get one. It will very likely be used for most of our short trips, leaving the occasional long one to the Honda sitting next to it. So with that, I am moving some ff out of the honda and replacing it with sun.

So, around here anyhow, it would be unlikely for an EV to be a coal car, even tho our grid electricity is about half coal.

BTW, I am rooting for Musk, since he pushes the stuff I have pushed- battery switching, vacuum trains, solar-- and his push is x orders of magnitude stronger than mine.

I pay an extra two-cents per kWh for 100 per cent renewable energy (mostly wind, plus some bio-gas generation and low-impact hydro), which from a cost perspective amounts to "big whoop". Electricity doesn't have to be dirty; you can demand better if you so choose.

Secondly, our provincial utility has basically maxed-out the amount of wind it can add to the system because it can have excess supplies during the overnight hours and no place to dump it. EVs could potentially increase wind's total contribution to the mix if they boost off-peak demand.


Interesting thread here all along - thanks everyone. 'H-in-H' That last point is also significant. As a lifelong owner of ICE cars (30 years) and never having paid more than 5,000 US for any of them, I shall be looking at an EV option when my current 10 year old, 190,000 miler, shrugs off it's motor coil. Here, in the UK, fuel prices are over 8 dollars a (US) gallon, which skews the maths in favour of EVs (or public transport!).

Hi O-T,

I drive a 300M Special saloon which I purchased back in April of 2002. I use it mostly for client and site visits, and almost all of these trips are under 15 km. A plug-in hybrid would be an ideal choice for me, and if Chrysler were to offer something along these lines I'd jump right away. I wouldn't bother to install a fast charger, so we'd be looking at 1,500-watts/120-volts drawn for the most part during off-peak hours -- well within the capabilities of even our rather anemic 4.2 kV distribution system.

We currently pay $1.341 a litre or just over $5.00 a US gallon for regular grade, and word on the street is that it will be going up two to five cents overnight.

BTW, a friend of mine just bought a fully loaded Nissan Titan pick-up. I don't know the size of the tank, but it reportedly cost him $135.00 to fill it up.


Most of this debate has hinged on the members involved in it fixing on one aspect of the overall problem- which for convenience I will refer to as the cheap and convenient personal transportation problem- and refusing to give any open minded consideration to possible solutions and workarounds to that one aspect.

Now my personal position is that most of the arguments pro and con presented here mean little or nothing in terms of the big picture until they are considered in context with time.

Some are argueing for instance that ev's won't work because so many housing units lack the wiring capacity and or a parking space to install a charging system .Now the lack of a parking space is a tough nut indeed , but most houses and apartments built within the last few decades do have sufficient electrical capacity to run a charger- since this much capacity is required by just about any and every building code.

Now I don't know what the charger itself costs, necessarily, but a piece of cable a hundred feet long , the circuit breaker and the hardware needed to run one drawing 6000 watts can be bought for around a couple of hundred bucks at the local big box store.It is my impression most or all ev's include a built in charger any way, and so only a proper and adequate receptacle within reach to plug into is actually needed.

It typically takes a couple of guys a day or so to install such a circuit from the service panel, out thru the wall, under the ground and out to a nearby the parking space - the trenching machine needed rents locally for half a day for two hundred including delivery and pickup .If the wiring needs be extended only to a weather proof enclosure on an outside wall, one man can finish the job in a day in most cases.

All things considered, and especially considering the potential savings in fuel and maintenance costs, very few of the people who can afford a new ev are going to be deterred by the cost of installing a charger.

Now it is true that the local grid probably will not support an ev being charged silmantaneously at supper time at every house on a block, never mind block after block. But nobody in his right mind expects ev's to be adopted so fast- It is highly probable that it will be a decade or more, at least, before grid capacity in any fairly prosperous nieghborhood will be noticeably taxed by plugging up ev's.

I don't believe the Invisible Hand is attached to Superman, but given time, it has a way of achieving astounding results, and it will add the capacity needed to the grid- because the people who can afford electric cars will have the political clout to see that it gets added - and profitably, for the utilities.

Now as to charging stations at rentals- I own a rental house, and would be very glad to install an outlet installed for a tenant willing to pay maybe fifteen or twenty bucks a month extra- this would be a gravy investment for me. People who rent move even oftener than homeowners, and when ev's take off, rental companies will necessarily get on board and install the needed charging stations- at first only at new upscale units of course.

Business owners large and small will be very quick to take advantage of the income stream potentially available to them by selling juice to ev drivers, once there are enough ev's on the road.. the cost of wiring a parking lot , in relation to the potential income ,will be trivial- I expect a couple of thousand dollars per station would be more than ample at a Walmart for instance.Such a charging station could easily bring in fifty bucks a day- half of it net markup over the cost of the juice.

As a potential ev owner, I would happily top off with five dollars worth of juice - sold profitably by the store of course- rather than paying ten dollars for enough gasoline to take me as far. Given that a dollars worth of juice most places is supposed to be functionally worth about four dollars worth of gasoline, this is potential huge win / win for both the store and the ev owner.

Now I don't want to be pecking away one fingered all day, dealing with all the various anti ev arguments one at a time, but I think most people who are convinced ev's will not be a viable solution to the transportation needs of the typical person would change their mind if they were willing to think things thru more thoroughly.

The one big exception may be the people who are priced out of the ev market- but they are fast being priced out of the ice market too. And i cannot foresee any real reason who a basic ev sufficent for the nerds, as opposed to the wants, of a person in need of a car to get to work, shopping, etc, can't be built for a cost comparable to a cheap ice car in a few more years . So what if it lacks range, air conditioning, electric windows, and all the other bells and whistles - it will still sell once somebody markets it seriously. It is undeniably going to be a long time until there is a sufficient supply of old, cheap ev's.

Al that would be necessary to make this happen is a a law mandating production of enough of them, maybe backed up by legislation requiring they be bought in bulk for use by our too plentiful so called public servants.

Small business owners would buy them for use as delivery vehicles, etc, too- the time is gone when a delivery driver can expect to drive a nice company vehicle .

Of course my remarks are based on the assumption that Old Man Bau has another decade or two of life left in him.

I would not be too surprised if he has a heart attack sooner than that.

Hey OFM,

Those who wish to predict the future are welcome to it. I've taken a crack at it myself and failed rather spectacularly most every time. For now, I'll keep plodding along doing what I do, in wilful ignorance/blissful contentment, whilst others duke it out with their competing visions, complete with sweeping generalisations, half-baked constructs and self-serving rationalisations. Go ahead and fill your boots. Just don't expect my total and unwavering attention.

I don't want to continue burning fossil fuels when there are better choices; it doesn't extend much beyond that. A plug-in hybrid Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town & Country would fit my needs to a T. Sixty to seventy per cent of the time I could conceivably remain electric only, in my case, powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Do I see this as the perfect solution for everyone? No. Is our personal transportation system a viable option over the long-term? Can't really say. Will a plug-in hybrid do much to address the tremendous harm caused by our car-centric lifestyle? Doubtful. And will I lose any sleep if my personal conduct is held in contempt? Not bloody likely.

BTW, it's good to have you back with us, OFM. You've been sorely missed.


Thanks Paul,

Hanging out here got to be a habit taking way the hell too much time when I was a regular, and cold turkey seemed to be the only way to break it- but with the site closing, I can afford to indulge my self for the lat few days!

I made a lot of cyber friends here, and once i have some free time again, I expect to be in contact with most of them- and you - again at some new offshoot site.

I have learned a lot from you in respect to lighting systems, but not as much as i would like. Do you know of a site devoted to introducing the layman to the ins and out of electrical lighting systems- one that gets into some detail in describing the fixtures and the lights themselves?

Now as to whether I am a good prophet- I think I would win the necessary fifty one percent of my bets to make it as an investor, if I had anything to invest, lol, but then don't we all?

In the particular case of electric cars, both pure and hybrid, I am basing my thoughts on some pretty well established patterns of human behavior , coupled with the apparent fact that pure electric vehicles are , excepting the battery, cheaper and simpler to build and to maintain and to run than ice vehicles . They will also obviously last far longer, if equally well built.

It all boils down to the price of batteries , and the price of oil, in the last analysis.

I'm willing tob bet my reputation as a prophet, such as it is , on the price of oil going up and the price of batteries coming down., again assuming Old Man Bau has a few more a few more good years left in him.

Everything else is in place for the ev to come into it's own.

Range as the killer issue will die a slow but sure death as batteries improve and expectations decline in the face of impending overshoot.

I think very few people are giving due consideration to the possibility that ev's are actually going to represent a simplification of our current economy and technology- supplying fuel thru the grid as opposed to hauling it around in trucks and ships for instance.


I'm afraid I was a little grumpy when I wrote my previous post; all this dystopian talk was starting to wear me down.

LEDs Magazine is available on-line without subscription and is a handy source of up-to-date information. Do a google search for "lighting design lab" and "lighting research center", the latter being a part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Also search for "lighting case studies" for real world examples of lighting retrofits.

As an aside, I'm currently working with a client that used over 10,000 kWh this past January to heat his warehouse. When he put the addition on to his building, the HVAC contractor talked him out of installing a heat pump, so his roof-top unit is simple resistance and a/c. The demand charges alone are brutal, and his cost per kWh of energy is excessively high due to his poor load factor.

I've recommended that we de-rate his roof-top unit by two-thirds and install two Fujitsu 15RLS2s. The roof-top unit will still be there to provide back-up and supplemental heat during extremely cold weather, but the lion's share of the work will be handled by his heat pumps. This will reduce his demand charges by almost $300.00 a month, cut his space heating costs by nearly two-thirds, and shift almost all of his billed energy to the lower-cost second-tier.

The bad advice given by his HVAC contractor has literally cost this guy several thousands of dollars. We can correct this, and in the process free-up enough grid capacity to serve twenty Level One EV chargers.



‘Few clues on timing of QE3 reduction in Fed minutes’

A few Federal Reserve officials thought last month it would soon be time to slow the pace of their bond buying "somewhat" but others counseled patience, according to meeting minutes that offered little hint on when the U.S. central bank might reduce its purchases.

Investors are anxiously waiting to see when the Fed will start to slow its $85 billion monthly asset purchases, with most predicting September as the beginning of the end of the quantitative easing program, known as QE3.

If you read that last sentence investors have to rely on predictions as to when QE3 may start to taper. Is it really that hard to make a decision as to when and how much to taper? If they are quaking in their boots over what might happen to the economy, then why not just taper 2.5 billion a month and have it slowly draw down over near a three year period? Start at 85 billion a month, then 82.5 the next month, etc. That way it will be slow enough no one will come unglued, at least not at first. But no, everything has to be suggested first, then wait to see the reaction, then parse their words, then retract, then disagree on how and how long, then blah, blah, blah. Come on you wimps!

I think they are bluffing. They are just trying to get people accustomed to the idea of slowing QE . . . but I think they'll continue buying notes. The economy is still shaky, the government cannot afford an interest rate rise, there are already lay-offs from reduced mortgage refis, etc.

Well, then what's the benefit of getting people accustomed to the idea of slowing QE if they don't plan to taper?

You are correct that the US Government can not afford an interest rate hike, as that would result in a large increase in the interest to be paid on new Treasury bills, which would eventually cause a large rise in the total interest paid each year as old notes mature and are replaced by new borrowing. Trouble is, the Fed isn't really a part of the Government, but an independent corporation (owned by the banks...) and "The Government" can't (theoretically) dictate interest rates thru political action. All that Fed QE spending will eventually (is?) result in inflation, thus the Fed must be stop the QE program before inflation explodes and destroys the value of the currency. So, the US is caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.

As it is, much of the money pouring out of the Fed has gone into the coffers of the big banks, which have used it to invest in other areas, such as commodities, instead of lending it to individuals. Just another example of the reason that the US needs to return to a Glass-Steagall type of separation between commercial and investment banking. I surely hope that Elizabeth Warren can get that accomplished...

E. Swanson

I'm trying to find a discussion I read about the problems inherent in reinstating a Glass-Steagall type of separation and getting banks out of commodities; sort of like un-mixing paint. Seems we've created another conundrum; financial systems have gotten themselves so integrated and systemically linked. There was a mention of how many assets are being double counted (or worse). Again, too many claims on too few real assets, something Stoneleigh has been warning about for some time. It's a can of worms nobody wants to be responsible for opening. Extend and pretend is the least undesirable choice for the politicians and banksters, for the short term. Besides they're still getting rich. Only another major meltdown will make it sellable.

The Too-Big-to-Jail banksters have done a great job of mingling all those funds in ways which can't easily be separated. The basic problem is that they have been able to create the notion that the US government (that's you and me) will bail them out when they screw up, which is a massive hidden subsidy which allows them to take on absurd levels of risk. As a result, the financial "industry" has been collecting some 40% of the corporate profits in the US, even though they don't actually produce anything except more documents, both paper and electronic.

Curiously, Nasdaq shut down today around noon. As of this time, it's still down. Might be something to do with high frequency trading, but they aren't saying yet. Perhaps another "flash crash" or other similar event scrambled everything...

E. Swanson

Wanna bet? I bet they don't start in September. The latest minutes sounded like they're backpedaling to me. The dealer survey was from before the most recent minutes were released.

Systems always fail when the real world moves on, leaving them struggling to function with design assumptions that no longer hold true. Of course you can keep the system going by creating a virtual world that maintains a working environment for it. Which is basically what has happened with the global financial system.

The interface between system and real world has become a horrible fudge to turn reality into acceptable inputs for the system. Hence we have an economic recovery within the financial system and an on going depression in the real world.

There can be no end to QE while reality does not reflect what the system is seeing.

Transport minister announces 25 per cent fare increase


The Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies has announced a 25 per cent fare increase for public passenger vehicles.

This means that adult passengers on Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses will now pay $100 up from $80.

On a taxi, adult passengers who now pay $100 for example will be required to pay $125.

The minister says children under 12 years old, those in uniform, the disabled and pensioners will pay half of the approved fare increases.

The concessionary fares will however remain at $20.

The new fare structure will take effect on Sunday August 25.

The assault on the disposable income of Jamaicans continues. At the same time the government has been asking public sector workers, teachers, nurses and security force personnel to exercise restraint with wage increase demands. Static wages plus rising costs equal less discretionary spending.

Jamaica records fifth consecutive quarter of negative growth

The Jamaican economy has continued in a recession as data from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) have confirmed a fifth consecutive quarter of negative growth.

A recession is technically defined as at least two consecutive quarters of decline in gross domestic product (GDP).

At its quarterly press briefing today, the BOJ reported that real GDP is estimated to have declined during the April to June quarter.

Alan from the islands

Has anyone followed up on this post by Ron Patterson:

EIA numbers diverge from JODI… Why?
The EIA says oil production numbers are increasing while JODI says they are declining.


And thus another life lesson materialized, with applications to Mustachianism as well. And that lesson is that small efforts, repeated over time, will almost always surprise you.

It’s a natural weakness of the human brain that we don’t recognize this, because we have our leftover instincts of survival in the moment. But a ten dollar lunch each workday compounds to $37,600 every ten years. An extra beer or slice of bread beyond your base calorie requirements adds up to 152 pounds of fat* over the same period. A habit of being just a bit rude to your spouse in certain situations can brew itself into lifelong resentment and divorce, while a slightly different habit of patience and respect can keep you happily married for life.

This post of MMM is sort of an....optimism boost. That perhaps all of these small things that we've been pushing for around here might eventually make a difference over time. It just kind of blows that while we've been making small efforts repeated over time, the forces of destruction have been making huge efforts repeated over an even longer time.

"I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we’re trying to fill up sand. A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, “Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.” But we’re saying, “We’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time.” And we think, “One of these years, you’ll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction.” And people will say, “Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?” Us and all our little teaspoons..."

~ Pete Seeger

Yeah, but we still need a basic source of cheap energy. In fact even more so with a growing population and increasing complexity. On a precipitously falling eroei at some threshold, all those tiny spoons will be held out asking for them to be filled. Instead of musical chairs we'll be playing musical tiny spoons.

Yeah, but we still need a basic source of cheap energy.

Only if one wishes to keep an economic model based on cheap energy growing.

The various business, government, and personal models in play by most people are based on that cheap energy model.

In fact even more so with a growing population and increasing complexity.

And while both may be true, the owners of production have an incentive to increase complexity of machinery to decrease the number of workers and the associated complexity of having employees. In the case of Amazon warehouse operations - not needing temperature/humidity control or lighting for the workers is an "advantage" to their robotic picking solution.

The various business, government, and personal models in play by most people are based on that cheap energy model.

But is that sustainable with finite FF, or replaceable with some other energy source?

And if most businesses go the way of Amazon with automation (which I agree is the trend), won't there be less employed to pay for the products? While on the topic, I wonder how long it will be before we see the first automated drive through fast food restaurant? I'm sure it's being worked on to get around increasing worker demands.

first automated drive through fast food restaurant?

Much of the 'food' in the frozen isle may not have had a human touch it from when it was picked in the field to when it is unwapped for cooking or eating after being heated in its package.

The human involvement may only be for order taking, handling of the food, and cleaning up the location for the health inspector.

Web shutdowns just in time.

This is part of implementing President Obama’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) and the federal government’s policies and procedures under its Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM) program.


The new geophysical research, by Won-Young Kim at Columbia University in Palisades, New York, is the latest to suggest that the main risk of earthquakes associated with fracking relates to the way the water used in the operations is disposed of afterwards. In Ohio, the wastewater was injected into a deep well. This raised the pressure of water within the rock and triggered 109 small quakes between January 2011 and February 2012. The largest, on 31 December 2011, had a magnitude of 3.9.

Analysis: Foes of Obama climate policy prepare battle over cost of carbon

Three months ago, the Obama administration made a little-noticed but potentially pivotal move in the stepped-up fight against climate change: it boosted the U.S. government's official estimate of the future economic damage caused by carbon pollution.

After its first review, a panel of technical experts from 11 government agencies raised the so-called "social cost of carbon," known as SCC. The measure is used by many arms of the U.S. government to determine the financial benefits of new regulations since 2010.

The new 2020 forecast of $43 a ton was a 58 percent jump from the previous estimate, made in 2010. The issue is to be reviewed biannually.

The move should make it much easier for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal bureaus to enact tougher measures to crack down on emissions by showing that the greater benefits of such measures will justify their costs. . . .

An example of Obama's regulator push to run around Congress.

One person I know was claiming that Venus has its heat problem not because of being closer to the sun, but because it has various Florine compounds in its atmosphere and that NASA documentation supports this.

I'd be more worried about a worldwide ozone hole from Florine solvents from the past, but perhaps there can be a 2-fer kick in the long term teeth humanity could thank Dow for?

Well its really just the gases (mostly CO2) causing a very strong greenhouse gas effect. After counting for high reflectance from its clouds, Venus actually absorbs less solar energy than does the earth.

In all the chatter up about cost of cars, etc, I missed the biggest cost of all- the degradation of our future planet. Unless we get that into all the arithmetic, the rest of it is self-delusion.

Then I hear people holler " If we did that, we would not be able to afford any car." Right, we can't, but we are still buying them and since we aren't paying for them, who is, and those people who pay- do they get a vote in the matter?

Ah, wimbi,

That's the whole point. The entire system of economic accounting has no interest in considering the MASSIVE 'externalities' of the process. It's like 'side effects' in drugs. They're not side effects - they're EFFECTS. But if we just forget about them our drug looks very good and helpful.

Fine print: If death occurs, discontinue use immediately...

Externalities are not something you sweep under the rug - they are very real COSTS. But our system seems to have no way of dealing with that, so they are ignored, and any analysis of economic viability is nonsensical.

Well, we have a little conundrum here. If we don't sweep it under the rug, all that fun chatter about such trivia as EV vs ICE is irrelevant, and that would leave us with nothing to talk about but ways out, and who wants to do that?

Hence, my favorite candidate for solution of Fermi's paradox- life evolves, stores up fossil fuels, intelligent life evolves, goes on a ff binge, planet atmosphere fries life, end of story, on to the next.

So, best thing to do- broadcast DNA code 24/7/365, hope somebody finds it, fixes the ff addiction gene, and etcetera.


Hub sights new home: Gov't puts China's preferred logistic site at top of list

Goat Island, located on the St Catherine coast, could be the site of the much-touted logistics hub.

Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica's minister with responsibility for land and environment, told representatives of China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), that consideration is now being given for Goat Island One and Two to be the site of the hub.

"The preferred selection by your company as to where the logistics hub should be located is now under very serious consideration," Pickersgill said.

He noted that the project requires some 3,000 acres of land and an appropriate place for the harbour to be located.

The Panama Canal expansion is scheduled to be completed in 2015 and these people are positioning them selves to take advantage of the expected increases in volumes and traffic. Full steam ahead with BAU.

Google map link to Goat Island


The existing facility at the following link and all the areas close to it, were declared unsuitable as they could not identify 3,000 acres to site the new "Logistics Hub"


What's that you say? Beware of Peak Oil? What in heavens is that?

Alan from the islands

Whoops! Nasdaq halts all trading

The Nasdaq OMX exchange halted trading across all securities in the early afternoon Thursday due a technical issue "until further notice."...

... Trading was halted due to issues with "quote dissemination," the exchange said in alerts sent out to traders.

The New York Stock Exchange said it halted all Nasdaq securities at the request of the Nasdaq.

The trading glitch could be another blow to investor confidence, which has been rattled over the years by the Flash Crash in 2010, Facebook's botched IPO, and more recently, a fat finger trade affecting China's stock market.

A lotta that going around lately [from yesterday] ...

Goldman Sachs' Massive Trading Error Bears A Scary Resemblance To The One That Brought Down Knight Capital

Now that we know more about yesterday's options trading error could cost Goldman Sachs hundreds of millions, we know that it looks a lot like another massive trading mistake — Knight Capital's $450 million trading glitch from 2012.

Both Goldman's mistake yesterday — a system programming error that set incorrect price limits in a number of ticker symbols — and Knight's mistake — also a system programming error that sent algorithms buying high and selling low — highlight the fact that complex, high speed computer software has the power to set markets into a tizzy.

... At Knight, that bizarre thing was Frankenstein code.

"Most IT applications have dead code," Leskhin said. "It's in there just hanging out in the code base but none of the live modules are calling it. If you don't have structural oversight then you don't know if your new live code could be calling the dead code."

In Knight's case, it was. The live code called the dead code back to life and the program started trading on that.

Abandoned Dogs Roam Detroit in Packs as Humans Dwindle

As many as 50,000 stray dogs roam the streets and vacant homes of bankrupt Detroit, replacing residents, menacing humans who remain and overwhelming the city’s ability to find them homes or peaceful deaths.

Dens of as many as 20 canines have been found in boarded-up homes in the community of about 700,000 that once pulsed with 1.8 million people. ... Arrington said when she visited Detroit in October, “It was almost post-apocalyptic, where there are no businesses, nothing except people in houses and dogs running around.”

... reminiscent of one of the scenes from Earth Abides

The radio version of Earth Abides from the CBS "Escape" radio show (November 1950) is one of my favorites. Find it at:

[tangentonline dot com/old-time-radio/1198-earth-abides-george-r-stewart]

Thanks for the link. Earth Abides was one of my early favorite dsytopian SF novels.

I guess I was a doomer from 'way back'. [Maybe too much 'duck and cover' practice in 3rd grade?]

My earliest memories are of playing in the bomb shelter while my father worked on building bunks and storage cabinets. I must have been about 4-5. It was a granite walled sub-basement under the house, now a nice wine cellar for the current upscale owners. I also remember the drills and the fallout shelters at our church. Don't think it affected my world view much though :-0

Removing Indoor Pollution

One Earth Designs recently ended a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund production of SolSource, as well as to explore a cost-offsetting model for developing nations. The campaign ended with 330 percent of its goal funded.

The result was SolSource, a high-performance, low-maintenance, portable, durable, safe, and fuel- and emission-free solar cooker. SolSource harnesses energy from the sun, which is ample on the Himalayan plateau, and uses it to grill, steam, bake, boil, or fry. Cooking with SolSource saves families time and money, reduces their exposure to harmful stove pollution, and helps conserve precious resources.

Solar Cooker now available: SolSource

... One of their primary projects is the SolSource, a portable, affordable, parabolic-type solar concentrator. It has been designed to cook, generate electricity, and heat materials for space heating. It can also be dismantled as quickly as a hiking tent and transported from home to field for the mid-day meal.

Neat. What a nice idea to put a notch in the dish to allow easy access to the hot spot from behind! No blinding, or self cooking! I wonder if the metal frame could be replaced with locally made wood components?

I have forgotten nearly all the math I learned back in the sixties and cannot solve a problem involving a solar cooker I want to build .

I have a piece of light weight (thin walled ) steel pipe four feet in diameter and three feet long which I want to use to build a solar cooker with the focus inside the cooker itself- so that i can cover it partially or fully with a piece of tempered glass in order for it to work well in light conditions and cold weather.It will have an easily a adjustable mount and I will insulate it if necessary. I'm thinking that on a good day she will run a twelve quart pressure canner , and even on a poor day she will still more than likely slow cook a big pot of stew.

Anybody here able and willing to provide me with the formula of the parabolic reflector ? It will be four feet across (x ) and and it can be as deep (Y) as three feet- the focus point needs to be about 2 feet above the o,o point so as to allow for a cooking pot a foot high within the glass enclosure.It will be built out of some salvaged , highly reflective polished aluminum sheet metal supported on steel rods bent to the proper curvature.

A "soft" or diffused focus, , as opposed to a point focus ,that would evenly heat the bottom of a pot about a foot in diameter would be highly desirable.

I can work in metric, no problem, thanks any and all.

If any of the old hands here have personal blogs touching on their own efforts to become energy self sufficient, now is the time to post the addresses here where the rest of us TOD folks will have access to them.
I will bookmark all I hear about.

Thanks again!!

Hey OFM;

Here's a quick way to make a parabolic form of any size and focal length, using only a Framing square or equivalent Right angled object, and a couple simple parts.

Get your big 4' piece of paper or board laid out and set up a straight-edge using a strip or plank secured to the paper, along a long edge. This will become the bottom of the curve.

Put a Nail, thumbtack or Screw through the paper (into sacrificial table surface) at the height above that edge where you want your focal point.

With the short leg (its outer edge) of the square up against the nail, and the 90 deg. corner down against the straight edge piece, you can move that corner out a small increment at a time, keeping contact with the nail, and as the long leg angles up the paper, trace that outer edge. Multiple traces will soon reveal your curve where these lines intersect, at which point you can decide how many points you will require to get the accuracy you'd like.

I would say that in solar cooking, your target area WANTS to be a little broad.. maybe a foot square or so, to keep from producing uneven heating on the food. In my mind, a set of 1' square mirrors that basically followed this curve would provide ideally even copies of the sunlight for hitting the desired target.

Holding and Aiming them might be a fun challenge.. but if it's not your thing, feel free to email me and I might be able to help sketch out a couple possible rigs for a good mirror armature.

(Also, many, TOO many.. good solar tracker ideas can be had here.. >> www.redrok.com ) They also have some Parabolic math, if you really want to crunch it out. I prefer using old tool tricks!

Here's another link to someone using the same or a similar way to plot that curve..


.. I'm tired, so my description might not be as clear as theirs.

As no one has listed Dwayne Johnson hand his heilostat page:


One of my (as yet untested) Solar Oven notions is to take a cast aluminum Barbeque Grill and Insulate all the Walls to the Outside, leaving it openable.. except for a generous bare spot on its posterior, which you can glaze over if desired, and then spot up a focused mirror beam towards, allowing the Grill to be used as an oven from there on in. The mirrors ought to be on a tracker, or attended by reliable helpers to follow the Sun..

The grill is already at a good working height, with trays usu. to each side for further, regular cooking needs, and you can be shielded from the beam and the heat for the most part.

With the abundance (in the US anyhow) of used and abandoned Grills, this could be a good way to breathe new life into discarded materials. I also find cast-off 'full-length' mirrors of the cheaper variety, left in the trash after a corner has chipped.. but these can still be quite easily combined and BENT, to form very powerful little arrays for gathering Solar Heat for various uses.. Do be CAREFUL! You can get permanently scarred or blinded with the power involved here!

Border Patrol Grows As Seizures Drop

... Many residents complain that the area, even as far as 25 miles from the border, feels like a “militarized zone,” and it could see another doubling in the number of agents as Congress considers an immigration reform bill that would spend an additional $46 billion there -- despite the fact that Border Patrol apprehensions in 2011, the most recent data available, reached their lowest point since 1972 (PDF).

... The Border Patrol’s visibility stretches well beyond the border itself. Along I-19 about 25 miles from Nogales, there is a large Border Patrol checkpoint where northbound traffic must halt under a high hangarlike canopy. Armed agents with drug-sniffing dogs wander along the backed-up cars and trucks, while other agents inspect vehicles and question drivers about their citizenship. Anyone deemed questionable is pulled aside for more intensive secondary inspection.

“You used to see busloads of tourists coming down here, but that’s fallen way off,” Neubauer said. “Canadian tourists especially got tired of being hassled at the checkpoint because if they don’t have the right documentation with them they’re in deep stuff.”

“The I-19 checkpoint is having a negative impact on residential real-estate prices,” said the report, which also cites local concerns that the checkpoint “creates a military atmosphere that is intimidating to people going through it.”

Sounds like Mexico is the new 'Bexhill' from 'Children of Men'

Good to hear its crashing the local economy. Only a pocketbook issue has any chance to creating a rollback of this madness.

New drilling technologies could give us so much oil, the climate won’t stand a chance

New oil drilling technologies could increase the world’s petroleum supplies six-fold in the coming years to 10.2 trillion barrels, says a report released today by market research firm Lux Research [Evaluating New EOR Technologies in Oil Industry Mega-projects].

... “In light of current oil prices, the peak oil hysteria and projection of $300 [a barrel] prices of a few years ago seem overblown – if not outright silly,” the report states. “But in a sense, they were accurate forecasts of what would have happened if EOR technologies had not come online and made unconventional oil reserves – which vastly exceed conventional ones – accessible.”

But don’t ditch your electric car just yet. The development of such technologies is predicated on high oil prices – at least $100 a barrel – to offset the costs and induce a conservative industry to invest in and deploy new methods. And many of the technologies are still young.

Morever, as we’ve seen with fracking, political opposition to technologies that could pollute the environment and use lots of water could derail their use. And as climate change accelerates, opposition to carbon-intensive extraction of fossil fuels and their expanded use is sure to grow.

... where is that 'Whack a Mole' hammer?

Iran Oil Minister Vows to Revive Output as He Eyes Price War

In his first few days as oil minister in President Hassan Rohani’s new government in Tehran, the 61-year-old initiated plans to revive oil production to pre-2005 levels, hinted at a price war to win old customers and brought back managers sidelined by the previous administration.

... Zanganeh, who won parliamentary confirmation last week, vowed to return oil production to 4.2 million barrels a day. The current level is 2.56 million barrels, ...

Getting them out is another matter, while even keeping the status quo will be a challenge.

The energy industry is showing signs of distress regardless of the sanctions. Without substantial upgrades in facilities, production at Iran’s core fields, several of which date from the 1920s, could go into a precipitous decline. Some of Iran’s biggest oil fields face output drops of as much as 13 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Explosions Shut Down Oil Pipeline in Iraq

Officials say bomb attacks in northern Iraq have damaged part of a pipeline exporting oil through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

A police officer and an oil official said Thursday that three bombs went off next to the pipeline Wednesday night in a deserted area south of Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad. ... The pipeline carries nearly a quarter of the country's daily oil exports, which last month stood at 2.32 million barrels.

So the various groups/tribes in Iraq are going to fight each other over the oil and if someone starts making a lot of money on it, the others will blow up the pipeline. What a mess. :-/ Well, at least we are no longer wasting our money & blood there. :-)

MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia

A 100% genetic match for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been discovered in an insect-eating bat in close proximity to the first known case of the disease in Saudi Arabia. The discovery points to the likely animal origin for the disease, although researchers say that an intermediary animal is likely also involved.

MERS was first described in September 2012 and continues to spread. Close to 100 cases have been reported worldwide, 70 of them from Saudi Arabia. The causative agent, a new type of coronavirus, has been determined; however, the origin of the virus has been unknown until now.


Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly Mers coronavirus that emerged last year, research suggests.

U.S. Desalination Industry Grows Since 2000; Seen as Essential to Meeting Supply Needs

With supplies of clean water becoming more scarce in certain areas and demand increasing, desalination is on the rise in the United States, water professionals told BNA.

... Most water professionals emphasized the need for desalination to play a key role in meeting future water needs. ... “You can't conserve your way out of a water shortage completely,” Bob Yamada, water resources manager for San Diego County Water Authority, said.

More than 40 percent of domestic supplies--water for drinking, cooking, and bathing, among other purposes--comes from desalination and wastewater reuse. That breaks down to roughly 30 percent from wastewater reuse and 13 percent from desalination nationwide, Hightower said.

“You can see already that even though people don't know it, desalination and wastewater reuse are a large percentage of the domestic [commercial and residential] water supply in the United States,” Hightower told BNA.

Many desalination facilities spend roughly “one-third to one-half of operating coston the electricity to run the technology, according to a Congressional Research Service report, Desalination and Membrane Technologies: Federal Research and Adoption Issue.

With the ongoing drought, municipalities in Texas are scrambling for alternate sources of water. Many cities, counties and water utilities are busy trying to make deals on groundwater from outside their jurisdiction. Ever present is the memory and devastation of the "drought of record" - late 40s/early 50s. As I've said before, the growth in population is significant since then and more people live in the cities nowadays. 1950 census - 7.7 milion; 2010 census 25.1 million; 2012 estimate 26 million. This email arrived today:

September 12-13, 2013
Austin Marriott South
4415 S. IH-35
Austin, TX 78704
co-sponsored by the Texas Water Development Board
and organized by the Texas Desalination Association

How can Texas enhance its supply of water resources? One way is by desalinating salty water: seawater, brackish groundwater, and surface water.

Conference presenters will explore opportunities for and obstacles to desalination in Texas, address pol.icy[sic] and legislative matters, discuss new technologies and financing options, and present case studies.

Texas Water Development Board Chairman Carlos Rubinstein will make the keynote address at the luncheon on September 13, and Dr. Robert E. Mace, Interim Executive Administrator, will provide information on financing options for implementing desalination.

Representatives Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) and Bill Callegari (R-Houston) will address desalination from policy and legislative perspectives. Full details of the conference are available at www.TexasDesal.org.

Water will become more expensive... and lucrative.

As you know, during the Fifties Drought, parts of Texas became uninhabitable, because of a lack of water, and as you noted, our population has grown tremendously since then.

I frequently quote the late, great Elmer Kelton, who said that "West Texas is in a state of permanent drought, broken occasionally by rainfall." I would argue that we should assume, going forward, that most of the US, approximately west of the I-35 Interstate Highway, is in a state of permanent drought, broken occasionally by rainfall. Personally, I think that most of Texas needs to adopt "Santa Fe" water rules, i.e., no ornamental lawns.

"I would argue that we should assume, going forward, that most of the US, approximately west of the I-35 Interstate Highway, is in a state of permanent drought"

It certainly is.

But very atypical none the less. Western Montana has the nation's number one priority fire tonite, burning since the weekend, while east of the continental divide, Montana is the greenest many can remember for this time of the year. Nearly daily thunderstorms providing lightening for the western portion, and very uncommon rain and lightening for the east.

Desalinization is a great way to put more carbon in the atmosphere, and privatize the system.

Are we smarter than yeast?

It has a function in deep water sailing.

Sounds like Urinetown

INSA War Game Scenario

'Dirty Bomb' Scenario Proposal pg 3 ...

Defense Science Board Report: Unconventional Operational Concepts and the Homeland

... Since the end of the Indian Wars in 1891, the United States has treated warfare as an “away game.” Attacks on the U.S. homeland (except by symmetric capabilities of ballistic missiles and long-range bombers) have been unthinkable due to the geographical isolation of the Americas and the strength of U.S. naval and air forces. The rise of global travel, commerce, and information flows has radically changed traditional American isolation. America’s sea and air power still make conventional mass invasion unlikely, but as military modes shift from concentrated industrial warfare to distributed wars among populations, domestic disruption is likely. Effects-based targeting, used with great success by U.S. forces to inflict maximum impact with minimum force, is similarly useful to aggressors seeking to distract the U.S. population; disrupt infrastructure, commerce, and government; and delay support to U.S. military forces operating abroad.

... The nations and non-state actors of the world are observing, through the current era of terrorism, that the most lucrative potential approach to war with the United States could well be through operations outside the nation’s moral framework and anticipated behavioral norms. ... Future adversaries, either by choice or necessity, will not follow the path leading to a conflict of strength against strength.

When a determined adversary succeeds in attacking the homeland at the scale imagined in this study, the nation will call on the Department of Defense (DOD) to “provide for the common defense” through both defense at home and offense abroad.

... Without adequate preparedness at all levels of government, across the private sector, and among the populace, the post-attack results could indeed become catastrophic. Some outcomes might include:

■Flight. Remaining in place would prove untenable for many people for actual or perceived reasons.
■Breakdown of mutual aid agreements. Resource-intensive incidents are typically handled through mutual aid agreements within the National Guard, first responder, and medical communities. When under attack, however, leaders in unaffected regions might opt not to support interregional common aid agreements and to conserve their resources in case they are needed locally.
■Breakdown of civil order. Looting, vigilante actions, gang violence, riots, and civil disobedience would further stress first responders.
■Failure of quarantine. Many will be reluctant to stay confined.
■Hoarding. People will rush to amass excess goods to stock up after the attack.
■“Shoot your neighbor.” As people perceive the social and civil situation deteriorating, they will escalate the force they use as a first resort to protect home and family from interlopers (“shoot first, ask questions later”).
■Rampant rumors. Media will promulgate messages from many sources without confirmation.
■Population center “meltdowns.” Many U.S. population centers are located where life without infrastructure services will be difficult to sustain, such as in the desert southwest in summer and northern cities in winter.

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I'm not sure what you mean by that comment. The outcomes listed are exactly what one would expect. You saw similar behavior after natural disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Any responsible civil defence organization has to have procedures in place to deal with them.

Gee Whiz, from those quotes, that looks like a great piece of "Doomer Porn". Or, maybe it could have been titled "The Survivalist Manifesto"...

E. Swanson

Something to think about...

Green's Law of Debate:

"Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about"

There's something painfully ironic about this....

L&T Infrastructure Slows Coal Project Loans on Water Risk

The infrastructure finance unit of Larsen & Toubro Ltd., India’s largest engineering company, is slowing its lending to coal power projects due to concerns that future water shortages may cause shutdowns.

“We are very, very selective on coal projects,” Suneet K. Maheshwari, chief executive officer of L&T Infrastructure Finance Co., said in an interview in Mumbai. Projects must show ample water and be able to source and transport fuel reliably. “There are very few that have all of these boxes ticked.”

Coal plants need water to produce steam that powers turbines. India, the third-biggest coal consumer after China and the U.S., faces a water crisis as industry, farmers and a 1.2-billion populace vie for shrinking supplies, the United Nations says. India plans to build at least 500 gigawatts, a third of the new coal-fired capacity proposed globally, to address chronic power shortages, according to the World Resources Institute.

Source: Bloomberg News


As the new drumbeat is not allowing comments (7 days from the end afterall)


The United States Senate Finance Committee has voted to approve a new tax credit for the purchase of electric bicycles and motorcycles. The Senate hopes that the tax credit will help improve sales in the electric bike industry within the United States. The actual amount of the tax credit will depend on the purchase price and of the electric bicycle or motorcycle.

Buyers will be granted a 10% federal tax credit to a maximum of $2,500.

No idea if it got killed.

Ten whole percent? Wow. All those new electric bikes are going to bust the federal budget ;-/

My understanding was that new stories were to continue until the end of the month, and commenting would continue for 7 days after that. Commenting being inadvertently turned off has happened in the past.

My understanding was that new stories were to continue until the end of the month, and commenting would continue for 7 days after that.

As a noted bureaucrat once said "I have altered the deal. Pray I do not alter it further"

Sorry, that was a mistake. I'm not sure why that happens sometimes. If there's any kind of a glitch when you post a story, it defaults to "comments disabled." Understandably, I guess.

I used to be able to see that comments were disabled by looking at the front page, or the Drumbeat page, but apparently that is no longer the case.

So commenting is blocked on the Aug 23rd Drumbeat . . . is that a mistake or is commenting over and done with going forward?

Perhaps not "last post" but a fine enough far thee well

Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged for denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock.

The charges end a long struggle for justice by Gottfried Gloeckner, a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered a series of illnesses and deaths after eating a variety of the company’s Bt corn.