DrumBeat: February 10, 2007

Peak Oil Passnotes: Russian About Going Nowhere

If we ever needed reminding of the problem of making forecasts about crude oil and products we only need think of three tiny letters, I, E and A. The International Energy Agency (IEA), so frowned upon in 2004 and 2005 for failing to foresee the sharp rise in demand, has this week decided that some of its previous predictions were in fact erroneous.

The IEA has decided that non-OPEC output will in fact be some 1.1 million barrels short of what it was previously predicting in 2007. That is a 50% reduction from its previous 2.2 million barrel increase. Now, you might think this is not such a big deal being that we consume around 84.5 million barrels per day. But the IEA only made this forecast last July. It is not like the IEA do not have access to reams of information most mere mortals would love to get their hands on, they have loads of it.

But in 2005 they also predicted a near 2 million barrel increase in non-OPEC output. Then over the course of the year they consistently revised the figure, downwards of course. By the end of 2005 they had decided that rather than 2 million barrels extra per day there was in fact, well, no barrels extra per day.

Americas oil slide may raise US Mideast dependence

Steep oil field decline rates in Mexico and Venezuela and delays and outages in offshore US and Canadian areas should lower output from the region this year, countering earlier expectations of a rise.

Leading Climate Change and Energy Experts Map Out Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan For Canada

Pelosi: Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts Needed

The United States cannot effectively tackle global warming without enacting mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today.

America goes to the top of renewable energy league

The United States has extended its lead as the most attractive location in which to invest in renewable energy projects.

The country’s increasing desirability is directly linked to a conviction among investors that politicians are now firmly in support of renewable energy.

Gazprom forms power firm with russian coal miner

OAO Gazprom, the world's biggest natural-gas producer, will become Russia's largest coal miner once it completes a deal to pool assets with OAO Siberian Coal Energy Co., also known as SUEK.

Oil and gas companies scramble to develop fuel cells

Gas and oil suppliers, facing competition from electric utilities over household heating systems, are stepping up development of fuel cells.

Nigeria's Oil Workers Rule Out Immediate Strike Action

Nigeria's oil workers, threatened by a recent spate of kidnappings and killings, have ruled out immediate strike action after a meeting with President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Living in a state of exponential delusion

Very soon we are going to have to face up to the very short life of globalisation. The inevitable decline in oil production will bring with it restricted mobility, and a far more localised way of living. Work, schools, social services, medical care will all need to be close to where we live. Sustainable neighbourhoods are going to need to be connected with good, reliable public transport. We need to begin planning at every level of government, in every sector of the economy, in every town and in every village for this. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

The conspiracy Of Silence On Climate Change - a review of Monbiot's Heat

One of the most important points that comes out of the book is that, no one has seriously researched into the question of the extent of renewables any grid can accomodate. Can we have a 50% or a 80% or even a 100 % renewably powered grid? Another good feature of the book is that it takes cognizance of the growing literature on 'peak oil' unlike most books on climate change. However I find that the author does not look into the issue of availability of resources (mainly oil, gas, coal, steel etc and their dependence on each other) as critically as one would hope.

From Greener Production to Carbon Trading: Sustainable Energy Careers

Energy is big right now. The most important fuel of the last century or so--oil--is being used up; the only question is how soon it will be gone. The energy supply may be the limiting factor on how many people can live at a high standard--especially if they consume energy at the prodigious pace Americans do--and the standard of living of billions of people is growing fast.

So the world needs new, cleaner energy sources, and the only way to find them--and to make the exploitation of known clean sources cost-effective--is scientific research. It seems obvious, then, that the world needs more good energy researchers.

At long last, the soft underbelly is revealed

In the past two months, Iran has been asking for payments for oil revenues and other exports in euros, not dollars. It is now believed to be conducting much of its foreign exchange transactions in euros or United Arab Emirates dirhams. The Government has also been reported to have been shifting its foreign-held assets out of dollars into euros.

Qatar ‘to consider selling gas in euros’

QATAR, the world’s largest shipper of natural gas, will consider selling gas in euros, instead of dollars, HE the Finance Minister Yousef Hussain Kamal said, reducing global demand for the US currency.

Is Gates Stirring Up Trouble With Iran To Boost Oil Prices?

Defense Chief Robert Gates knows well what the effect of escalating rhetoric against a major oil-producing nation like Iran can have on the price of oil. After he gave up his CIA chiefdom, Gates spent part of his time engaged in an event in 2005 called 'Oil Shockwave'.

Ethanol may fuel inflation

Forget about oil as the inflation bogeyman we should fear the most. The surging price of corn is the latest threat to American wallets, and where it hits them might go beyond the supermarket.

‘Leading the Way to New Food System,’ PASA Blasts Corporate Farming

In his 30-minute speech that was sprinkled with sarcasm and strong language, Kunstler attacked corporate farms, blaming them for creating a “cheese doodle agriculture economy.” He was also skeptical of alternative energy, stating there is not enough technology available to replace oil and that the country will shut down as a result. “We’re not going to be able to run Walt Disney, Wal-Mart and the interstate highway system,” he said.

Cox woos conservatives by promising spending cuts

In response to a question regarding peak oil, Iraq should use the money to diversify its resources, said Cox, who ran for the Republican nomination in for Illinois's 10th Congressional District in 2000 and for U.S. Senate in 2002.

"I'm not an oil man," said Cox, who grew up in Chicago, Ill. "I don't see us totally relying on oil forever."

Instead, Cox advocated a diversification of energy resources within the United States. His plan would include constructing nuclear power plants, creating more wind, solar and bio-diesel energy.

Venezuela Tries to Attract More Oil Rigs, Halt Departures

Faced with a declining rig fleet in a tight global market for oil services, Venezuela is preparing a fresh licensing round to attract new drilling equipment and renew contracts for those on the ground, industry executives say.

But Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PVZ.YY) is increasingly slow about paying its contractors and insists on paying in a local currency that is difficult to convert into dollars, dampening interest in projects with the state oil firm.

Water Rights for Sale in Alberta

The Athabasca River, running north from the Fort MacMurray area, has dropped several metres in just the short time that the tarsands operations have begun. If this five fold expansion happens-- or even if the current pace remains-- the agricultural farmers, never mind the nations who actually own the water or the marine life who live in it, will lose out completely. As this is only just beginning it is highly notable that the Athabasca River was once clear, yet the people who live along it now consider it poison.

Canadian Oil Industry Fears Possible Tax Increase, Enviro Controls

Canada's oil companies are preparing themselves for possible tax increases and environmental controls from a Conservative government under pressure to enforce tougher policies on the industry, according to a letter obtained by the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Occidental sees Elk Hills production resuming soon

The company declared force majeure on oil and gas supplies from the field after a natural gas pipeline ruptured and burst into flames on Tuesday, injuring four people.

Is Oil's Ride Almost Over?

Big oil companies are scrambling to keep their reserves up. Land wells are showing signs of depletion. And the recent surge in offshore drilling could be oil's final frontier.

$70 Oil: A Spill Or A Skirmish Away

Thailand: Low down on ethanol

"We will use price incentives to expand the market and the number of gasohol petrol stations. I am confident that we will have three million litres per day by year's end or at the beginning of 2008. We may have enough to export or even go for E20," explained Pornchai.

Australia: Congestion — there could be a price to pay

Congestion charges in central districts, like those levied in London, or that use electronic tolling, would be politically acceptable only if the revenue was channelled into public transport.

Energy-efficient buildings 'need of the hour'

Abu Dhabi: Residential and commercial buildings in the Gulf currently consume 45 per cent of the energy produced in the region, demanding timely guidelines for sustainable buildings to avert a future energy crisis, said an official at the Emirates Green Building Council (Emirates GBC).

No single solution to energy crisis

You fall into the old trap if you pick one thing -- "Tastes great! Less filling!" For Democrats, traditionally, the one thing is increasing CAFE standards. For Republicans, the one thing is drilling. And we say, "No, it's four things." What we really want is a commitment to give a little bit on some of the individual interest items, in return for getting the whole package. We want the drillers to accept tighter controls on drilling. But the technology is good, and we think that people have to recognize that drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf is safe. Ethanol is wonderful, but it's not the whole answer.

Delmarva Power hopes to help this region's energy future

At Delmarva Power, we're unveiling a new proposal to help our customers deal with rising energy prices driven by national and international trends that have driven up the cost of coal, oil, and natural gas -- the primary fuels used to generate electricity. The proposal builds on many of the ideas that have been around since the 1970s with one very important twist: it uses the latest technology to make those ideas even more effective.

That new technology takes the form of a device often referred to as a "smart meter."

Bold leadership needed to avert environmental disaster

Meanwhile, Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International in Houston, a close friend of President Bush and a towering figure in the world of petroleum exploration and development, said that the world has now reached peak oil. Modern industrial civilization has been built upon cheap, abundant, highly concentrated liquid petroleum. Once on the downhill slope of the peak oil bell curve, world petroleum production can be expected to decline 2 percent to 3 percent annually.

Oil companies discuss energy challenges

With dwindling oil supplies, pollution concerns and the ever-present threat of gas prices soaring again, talk of new and better ways to fuel our cars, heat and cool our homes, and power our factories has never been greater. What's more, the conversation is emanating increasingly from a source that's been surprisingly quiet until recently — the oil companies themselves.

Oil prices briefly top $60 a barrel

On Friday, National Nigeria Petroleum Corp. said it will cut crude loading volumes for February and declared a “force majeure” on cargoes, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

BP stockholders request freeze on CEO benefits

Two large BP PLC stockholders asked an Alaska court on Friday to freeze millions in retirement benefits for outgoing chief executive John Browne, saying he does not deserve compensation in light of recent crises at the oil giant’s facilities in Texas and Alaska.

U.S. gov't moves to lower tailpipe pollution

U.S. environmental regulators issued new standards on Friday to reduce the amount of cancer-causing emissions from gasoline, vehicles operating in cold weather and portable gas cans.

Group names top 10 polluting refineries

Hybrids in, bi-fuels out in Arizona

hree models of small hybrid cars will be permitted to use car pool lanes on area freeways under an experiment that also will ban some alternative-fuel vehicles that can now use the special lanes.

Carmakers to Calif. attorney general: drop suit

Six major automakers told new California Attorney General Jerry Brown that their lawyers were ready to discuss improving vehicle fuel efficiency but that he should dismiss the state's greenhouse gas damage suit.

Soy growers ask higher U.S. support, biodiesel aid

Congress should increase soybean subsidies and provide a biodiesel incentive payment to encourage development of the renewable fuel, the American Soybean Association said on Friday.

Greenhouse gas ocean burial can start Feb 10

International rules allowing burial of greenhouse gases beneath the seabed enter into force on Saturday in what will be a step toward fighting global warming, if storage costs are cut and leaks can be averted.

Low energy TV delayed

Surface-conduction electron-emitter displays, or SEDs have about half the power use of LCDs (which use significantly less than cathode ray TVs). Of course, the prime target market is 55" screens.

I wonder how much a more "human scale" 25" or 28" screen would use; or a "get by" 13" ? Perhaps 10 or 12 watts ?


An essential part of the non-negotiable 'American Way of Life" that CAN be saved by the "Just-In-Time Technology Fairy" (tm) (Made in Japan). If we cannot drive, we can at least sit at home and watch a screen.

Best Hopes,


I wonder if we could run our electrified railroads off the power savings from SEDs ?

Perhaps tax every other form of television EXCEPT SED 28" screen or smaller. Large screens (including SEDs) get a luxury tax (increases with size, small tax for 32" or 35", thousands for 55"+), all types except SEDs get a "energy waste tax" (varies by power wasted, CRTs taxed more, LCDs taxed less) and we give a tax credit for buying a medium or small screen SED for several years to speed the transition.

Less waste heat from the TV means less air conditioning needed.

IMVHO (back of envelope) SED TVs + more compact fluorescents could save enough to run the current railroads PLUS a large % of heavy truck inter-city freight. SEDs alone might run the main lines today.

Best Hopes,


This may be something TPTB are working on much harder than we realized.

Case in point: A few years ago in a large apartment building I'm living in, the power goes out. It's dark, it's still early evening, nuthin' much to do, no TV to watch, so.... people get their flashlights and glowsticks and a few have candles, and start getting together and talking. Little groups form, and start getting to know each other. Oh, I live here, Wow, you're right around the corner from me, Hey, I've seen you in the parking garage, you have that so and such car right? Remember that time in the library... etc.

If it stays out, for a few days, sure you get some pissed off people, but the main thing is you end up with these social networks that have formed. You may have people realizing how much time they waste watching TV and sitting around, you may end up with, after time, if these social networks are not snuffed out, POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS.

However, in the case I saw, after a few hours the lights came back on and we went back to our TVs and not knowing each other and never saying Hi or making eye contact. We went back to being good Americans.

It may however be harder to keep people good Americans, not knowing and not trusting their neighbors, if those darned TVs keep fritzing out everytime the power goes out - which will only happing more often in our decaying Empire.

Hence, the low-power TV. We may see TVs that can run off of the UPS you may already have for your computer, TVs that can run off of a car batt, TVs that can run day/night off of a $100 solar cell array like they sell at Fry's, charging during the day.

We may see much more effort and exotic materials put into this than there would be otherwise, because TVs give TPTB that valuable social control.

Hi fleam,

I like your story. You may be interested in these folks: http://www.tvturnoff.org/. They used to be called "TV Free America", which I liked a lot better. Then they changed their name. Still, maybe check them out. "Live free - turnoff TV".

I really enjoy TV-free life myself. As one of my neighbors used to say "I may not accomplish anything in my life, but when I look back, I'll say - 'At least I didn't spend it watching TV'"

When you write:
"However, in the case I saw, after a few hours the lights came back on and we went back to our TVs and not knowing each other and never saying Hi or making eye contact."

I wonder what it would take for someone to make these kind of get togethers something that happens...?

One 19-inch TFT-LCD computer monitor I measured a while back took about 20W. (A 19 inch CRT might take around 80W and typically has a slightly smaller useful screen area.) One thing we'll have to see is how long an 'SED' actually lasts, since manufacturing cost/energy may well dominate. After all, if that TFT-LCD lasts 20,000 hours (10 years active business use, one shift), and it uses 20W, it will only use 400kwh over all that time, which might be $40 in electricity at retail rates, or $15 at wholesale rates. I suspect it takes more than that to make it, but anything more than a guesstimate is probably proprietary information.

Unfortunately, just a week or two of driving, even in the most efficient vehicle, is likely to use more than 400kwh. So if it turns out that we cannot - or do not wish to - or let the NIMBYs and BANANAs run the whole show as in the Case of Ted Kennedy and the Wind Farm - build enough of something to have reasonably abundant energy supplies in the future, then, yes, indeed, we will be sitting at home watching screens. This should shock no one - before energy became abundant, most people could do little but sit home, once they were done with the day's enormously hard labor. And the hard reality is that only dead people have zero environmental impact.

let the NIMBYs and BANANAs run the whole show

I am pro-NIMBY and pro-BANANA. Humans have already destroyed & polluted too much of this world. Humans need to learn to live without cars and television sets and consumer goods. Humans probably ought to learn to adapt to their own local environment, too, rather than using climate control to maintain a "perfect" temperature suitable for the comforts of the obese & lazy.

David Mathews

What happened to the flag system that was announced the other day? I can't wait.

Sorry David, but I would rather watch paint dry than read your rubbish. That was not hyperbole.

Hello pickyreader,

Sorry David, but I would rather watch paint dry than read your rubbish.

I am so saddened to hear you say that, pickyreader. Then again, it is altogether possible that I simply don't care about your opinions.

Have you considered that possibility?

David Mathews

If you simply did not care, you wouldn't be so saddened now, would you?

This deep thought message brought to you by:

Hothgor! Paid Troll Extraordinare!

Hello Hothgor,

If you simply did not care, you wouldn't be so saddened now, would you?

That would mean ... I was not saddened. Thanks for the clarification, Hothgor.

I feel bad for anyone who actually reads every post on these threads. Such people ought to spend their time watching paint dry. There are really one about three different arguments which occur here on The Oil Drum on a regular (near-daily) basis, and after a week all the different views are fully expressed.

Anyone who reads all the posts on The Oil Drum really needs to find some sort of hobby ... like watching paint dry. I really do believe that most of the regular posters spend way too much time on The Oil Drum and way too much time thinking strictly about oil & mathematical models regarding oil.

There's more to life than this. Like watching paint dry.

Hothgor, don't you have any other interests? Pursue them.

David Mathews

Hello Everyone,

Here's an Anderson Cooper news clip regarding the Niger Delta tragedy:


Nigeria is undoubtedly a country which would have benefited were it governed by the principles of NIMBY and BANANA over the last several decades. The oil industry has made a horrendous mess out of the delta.

It is sad to think that those who have profited from these crimes are rewarded by our economy for their success.

David Mathews

dmathews you're mellowing out, and becoming much more readable.

However, as I've said before and will keep saying, much of this web site is all about How can be keep the Modern civilization party going?

Just coming right on out and saying that humans "hafta" learn to live without cars and TVs and live within Mother Nature's budget will make you about as popular as someone screaming on the sinking Titanic, "DO SOMETHING people, we're SINKING!"

dmathews is just too blunt in the way he says what he says.
but that doesn't mean what he says is wrong, just that people do not want to listen.
because what he represents is the reality that drastic changes are needed to at least minimally soften the blow reality is about to make on people.
or as someone posted here once.
you can't solve a problem with the same frame of mind that got you into the problem in the first place.

i am also against the 'flag' system.
whats to stop jack*&^^%'s like Hothgor from signing up multiple accounts then using them to flag people like west texas off the page?
don't think that will happen? it happens more then the people at slashdot like to admit.

That's why Slashdot has meta-moderation, where anyone can pop over and check a few comments' moderation for fairness. Not a perfect solution, but helps.

I had assumed that I would only be able control the people that I was able to ignore. This is not necessarily a good assumption.

If I had to choose who could flags other posters for me I would devise a weighting system where only the story contributors were able to set flags, and their flags would be multiplied by the number of articles that they have posted to TOD. Under that system, I would not want to get on Leanan's bad side!

Do you mean humans need to do without consumer goods like bread? Food is the ultimate consumer good because everybody uses it while not everyone uses electricity.

Hello Thomas,

Do you mean humans need to do without consumer goods like bread? Food is the ultimate consumer good because everybody uses it while not everyone uses electricity.

I am in favor of bread but opposed to oil, electricity and technology. Consumers can keep their bread if they sacrifice all of these other things. But if the consumers sacrifice nothing they won't even have bread to eat.

David Mathews

BUT but but but but but ..... will people have to do without IPODS???? No CELL PHONES???

Somewhere on some deep level these are being seen as equivalent with bread. In fact, what yup eats bread any more? Isn't it pasta al dente and various scones and things?

You can really scare the bejeezuz out of people here flat-out saying that it will be bread and bicycles not ipods and solar-nano-fusion-heavywater-good-karma-powered-GreenPorsches and let the easy motorin' go on.......

Mr. Mathews,
Bread can't be produced without using technology like an oven, some form of plow, and at least harnesses for draft animals.
Your blanket statements against technology reveal a certain cognitive dissonance between your ears. You detest technology yet continue to berate us using the most sophisticated technology ever created. Be true to your beliefs and stop using up space on this discussion board.

Hello thomas deplume,

Your blanket statements against technology reveal a certain cognitive dissonance between your ears. You detest technology yet continue to berate us using the most sophisticated technology ever created. Be true to your beliefs and stop using up space on this discussion board.

Individual sacrifices are not sufficient to solve this problem. This civilization needs to sacrifice its technological crutches or otherwise it will suffer the consequences. So I will speak to the civilization using the tools which make such communication possible.

David Mathews

What is a BANANA?

BANANA (an acronym of Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything or possibly Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) is a term most often used to criticize the ongoing opposition of certain interest groups to land development.

The apparent opposition of some activists to every instance of proposed development suggests that they seek a complete absence of new growth. Compare with acronym NIMBY, which describes development stymied by those who do not want the development in "their backyard".

The acronym was coined by Don Terner, President of affordable housing developer BRIDGE Housing of San Francisco, in 1990 or earlier. The term is also used within the context of planning in the UK. The Sunderland City Council lists the term on their online dictionary of jargon.

[edit] References


Hello Conrad,

BANANA (an acronym of Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything or possibly Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) is a term most often used to criticize the ongoing opposition of certain interest groups to land development.

The apparent opposition of some activists to every instance of proposed development suggests that they seek a complete absence of new growth.

Exactly. This is why I am pro-BANANA. Get your oil industry off my planet!

David Mathews

FWIW, because of the licensing issue that was giving the SED venture problems, Toshiba recently sold all of its interests to its partner, Canon. So Canon now owns the whole venture. How this will play out is still unknown because SED is still more expensive manufacture, even if otherwise being preferable to other technologies.

SED is however an example of where we can continue to work on increase the efficiencies of many of the products that we use. I expect that over the next two decades much of what we use in daily life will be scrutinzed for energy improvements.

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The state department and the Pentagon are opposed, as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. The sources said Mr Bush had not yet made a decision. The Bush administration insists the military build-up is not offensive but aimed at containing Iran and forcing it to make diplomatic concessions. The aim is to persuade Tehran to curb its suspect nuclear weapons programme and abandon ambitions for regional expansion.


Putin has made a speech about US behaviour:


Get set for WWIII as Putin is smeared as a new Saddam by the "independent" western media. The threat made by Gates on Thursday will be unmentioned, of course.

We're not going to attack Russia. Unlike the Iraqis, the Russians have real air defense systems. Something to watch in any possible U.S invasion of Iran is the Iranian's Russian built TOR-M1 system. These systems are specifically designed for shooting down American cruise missiles and aircraft. If the invasion of Iran happens, and I doubt it will happen, the performance of the TOR-M1 during the initial air strikes will be a critical factor. If the TORs are effective, then the Russians will gain enormous prestige in that they can claim to any defense partner that they can provide an effective defense against American aviation. If they fail then the Russians will have a much harder time building a sphere of influence.


The Tor Missile System (Russian: "Тор"; English: torus [1]) is a low to medium-altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile system designed for engaging airplanes, helicopters, cruise missiles, precision guided munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic targets.


Russia has delivered an indeterminant amount of Tor-M1 systems to the Islamic Republic of Iran amid protests from the United States.[2] It is suspected that at least 29 such systems have been transferred along with service contracts with an approximate value of between $700,000,000 and $1,000,000,000 USD.[3]

oh the us will attack iran.
not only would a more friendly regime(doesn't matter how it gets put in place) there allow the united states more easy access to the oil(at the sacrifice of the Iranians themselves). the bases we would build in the country would complete the so called 'encirclement' of china to prevent it's return to super-power status.

I think Putin is a pretty smart fellow. He deserves watching and should be listened to.

I watched Crude Impact. I think Pres Bush almost started laughing at his comments about ANWAR. It was like he couldn't believe how stupid the US public is and he was setting up his buddies to make another pile of money while acting to "care about america". Watch it and tell me what you think.

Bosch Aquastar Tankless Water Heater CHEAPER

I am financing and supervising the repairs and improvement of a small shotgun (12' x 36' + small bathroom, Robin Egg blue with white trim @ 3014 Maurepas for anyone visiting Jazz Fest in New Orleans :-) that was hurricane damaged (water got within 2 inches of elevated ~1900 home). It was in danger of collapse on top of an older gentleman who was having difficulty coping.

His water heater was also leaking. Last night I bought the smaller Bosch Aquastar tankless natural gas water heater @ Lowe's for $489 (sales tax to Orleans Parish is not a cost, they need EVERY penny). With $300 tax credit (which I will take) it was CHEAPER to buy (more expensive to install) than a convential water heater.

He uses hot water twice a day, so this will maximize energy savings. Natural gas will only be used (@ 80% efficiency) when he turns on the hot water tap.

Due to drafts and no insulation, etc. his monthly utility bills were running from $135 minimum to upper $200 in the summer. I hope for an average of $50 or less. New siding and insulation are critical parts of the strategy but this tankless water heater will help.

Best Hopes for Small Steps,


Good for you, Alan.

Here's hopes for a better world with people like Alan.

Alan, I've been thinking about installing a small tankless heater in our upstairs bathroom for the sink because it is a long ways from the water heater downstairs.

We run too much water to get warm water at the sink, in my opinion.

Not being an engineer, I've been trying to figure out if water and/or energy savings would be achieved such that this approach would make environmental sense.

It may also be of "economic" value over time. I'm interested in that also, but secondarily right now.

Any thoughts from alan or other engineering types out there?

It gets pretty cold here in MN, so I think we use plenty of energy heating homes and water as well.

Do you want to run a gas line to the bathroom for the tankless heater?

Insulating the hot-water pipe to the upstairs would probably be very effective and much less expensive.

Actually, I was thinking of a small electric water heater. I've seen them in a couple of applications.

But you are right, insulated pipes might be the best solution.

I'll need to see how I can get at much of the pipes -- but why not?

We have a 2.5 gal electric water heater in our shop bathroom. 1500 watts which is alot for the ammount of water, given that a 40 gallon WH is 4,000 watts. Came with a cord and can be plugged into a standard outlet. This might be more cost effective than running a gas line and also keep in mind the exhaust gas venting. Our 2.5 gal heater is "almost" instant so we have it on a switch because we use it so in frequently.



It is good to hear what other folks have found using these little electric water heaters!

Oh, almost forgot if you put it on a switch save yourself some future headaches and use a 20 amp one instead of a 15. It will last longer.

I'm a big fan of insulated lines, like SOP, but I thought I'd drop in a DIY notion as well.

On my busy drawing board is a small-scale solar water heater which heats a small (5-10 gallon) insulated watertank under a single sink. The collector might be as small as one pane of a discarded storm window, built onto a box with black hose/copper pipe inside to collect the heat with a glycol solution (antifreeze) and an exchanger in the storage tank.. another coil of copper. As with any closed loop system, you'd have to have a controller that ran the circulation pump when the collector is hot. The sink would be fitted with a third faucet, solely for Solar Hot Water, and would have a visible thermometer near it so you know that there's hot or warm water there that can be used first. I'd also have installed an anti-scald valve, both for safety, and to moderate the output to let it last longer, and there should be a P/T (pressure/temp) safety valve and drains in the Glycol circuit to protect from overheating, too.

With all this fuss, I would at least have A)Instant hot water at the tap, B)Some energy savings, and C)a fairly portable system that could be uninstalled and used portably in case of moves, emergencies, needs elsewhere. (I have a 3-unit house, and might play with a few of these on the Kitchen Sinks, just to offset the Hot Water Draw and let the others in the building have ways to contribute, which they all want to do.

It may seem like too much trouble, but trouble is my middle name!

Bob T Fiske

Should have said
- The storage tank is under house-water pressure, and refills as it is drawn from. Thought would be given to keeping the Heated Layers undisturbed by the incoming cold water.

- A simple, one-wall heat exchanger would not meet most housing codes for Potable Water. You may need to either desist, or insist that this is only for washing. I never drink heated water from the tap, as heating systems can leach lead from the brass/bronze and solder joints in the plumbing. ("Plumbus" being the latin word for lead, eg, PB on the Periodic Table)


and re: controller/pump..

a super-simple variant on the control circuit is to have a dc circulation pump powered directly by a small solar panel. This just runs it when the sun is up. Some care is taken initially to see that the panel and motor match up to start and stop not too early or too late..


Thanks, jokuhl!

Very creative ideas. I'm something of a DIYer handyperson myself.

The idea of a small solar hot water heater really appeals to me.

I had a local company give a bid on installing solar hot water heat for my house, and they came up with just under $10,000 installed, plus the cost of whatever auxillary HW heater to make up any difference needed during our very cold winter days.

This makes me wonder if I shouldn't try to design my own little system to get some HW from the sun. My roof is well-positioned to take advantage of the sun.

Now you've got me thinking!

Here is a university research link I found comparing "homemade" with comercial bought. Looks like the larger but cheaper homemede unit performed very well indeed.

Variety of considerations. First of all, insulating hot water pipes is always a good idea; it should be done routinely. However, depending upon time between uses, even insulated pipes may not retain much heat.

It also depends upon energy value of water (probably low in Minnesota, sky high in Phoenix (20% of electric use ?) and relative sources of energy (NG vs. local electricity). NG comes from Alberta I suspect with decently long pipelines. Electricity mainly from coal with NG peaking (informed guess).

An electric "top up" water heater at point of use that takes warm water and heats it up to desired temperature until gas heated water arrives would "make sense" with insulated pipes. I would suggest 240 V (two phases) water heater that uses two 20 amp circuits instead of single phase 120 V that needs oversized wiring.

Best Hopes,


We use an Aquastar 125(S) (solar) model in our propagation greenhouse for bench (root zone) heating. The solar model is self (flame)modulating to account for changes in incoming water temperature from a solar water heating system. Because we run a closed loop I felt this would take into account temperature changes in returning water from the benches.
I cannot say enough nice things about using this unit. Very well built, it has a solid brass heat exchanger and stainless steel burners. This unit is built to last! Greenhouses can be a very corrosive enviroment with excessive moisture and fertalizer salts.
We have had -0- problems in 7 yrs. I think you will be very happy.

We too are looking very closely at our personal and business enery use and plan to install both solar water heating and PV in the coming year or two.

Best wishes to small steps x millions.


I think there is a staggering energy wastage keeping water tanks hot, up to 70C I believe. In effect manmade hot springs. I've been putting a timer on an 80 litre electrical hot water service plus lowering the thermostat. The water is still hot enough if used sparingly.

For small reservoir systems I think we could have valve mechanisms that only allow maybe 20 litres (5 gal) of hot water at a time.

I don't think the US lawyers let tanks go as high as 70C. Probably more like 60C max. Anyway, my full-sized heater runs me about $5/month with California prices. That is for 1.5 people. My tank has no additional insulation and sits in an outside closet. I'm not sure of my cost if I used no hot water at all, but it's safe to say it would be less than $5/month.

Based on my experiences, I think most people in the US are so wasteful that they could cut energy use much more buy doing much less if they concentrated on other areas. Heating my house in the winter sometimes exceeds $50/month, for example. Another example of easier conservation: I could switch my electric clothes drier to gas. (I already use a clothes line part-time) Perhaps I could convince my company's CEO to stop flying around in his private jet.

In regards to "Peak Oil Passnotes: Russian About Going Nowhere", I disagree with a few implications of the article.

If anything, I think the use of the Goldman Sachs commodity index by S & P signals the beginning of the expansion of commodities investing into the public realm – and not the opposite. If anything, the bull market in oil has hardly even started.

Further, why do writers insist on mischaracterizing the "superspike" report by Murti? Did this writer even read that report? I have, and the writer does not predict a rise to $105. He only states if certain political circumstances were present in the next few years, oil could reach $105. I think almost anyone who reads TOD regularly would have reached that same conclusion without Murti's superspike analysis.

As for my opinion, a war with Iran would make the price of oil so high that all regular market systems would break down. Internally, within the US, there will be price controls and allocation systems. Externally, all sales would revert to a contract system – and even then – would be escorted by the navy of the purchasing nation to its destination.

Iran exports 4Mb/d, but imports 2Mbd gasoline... so, if both exports and imports are blockaded, teh world loses 2Mb/d, or 2.5%, which would not lead to any significant changes other than price.

A potential Iranian response to an attack will likely include an attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz. This is a key choke point and may impact up to 15 Mb/d of capacity.


You also have to reflect on the fact that Iraq was a "walkover." The Iraqi ground forces were destroyed in Desert Storm and never really rebuilt and the Iraqi air force fled to Iran. In addition, the imposition of sanctions and the US/UK overflights of Iraq permitted the gradual neutralization of Iraqi defense capabilities. Attacking Iraq was equivalent to a militaristic bully attacking a mean and incompetent grandmother. And after 4 years the grandmother is clearly holding her own.

Attacking Iraq will give the Iranian people their own version of 9/11. I do not know the outcome but suspect the world will loose much more than 2Mb/d. To say that such a conflict

would not lead to any significant changes other than price.

is both irresponsible and dismissive of the loss of life that will ensue.

Can anyone answer a question for me or point me to somewhere that can answer it?

Suppose a typical 1500 to 2000 sq ft home with a average to above-average degree of insulation. Suppose this home is situated in the midwest, a place with relatively good conditions for tree growth. How much wooded land would be necessary to sustainably heat this home using a wood-burning furnace or outdoor wood-burning boiler system?


I can't really answer your question but I do have some comments. I was born and raised in OH and lived in NJ, DE and the Bay Area. I've lived the past 30+ years in the Coast Range Mountains of northern CA. At my elevation, our climate is somewhat similar to a midwest climate. However, we get substantially more wind. My house is 2200SF. It has R-47 ceiling insulation, R-20 walls and an insulated slab. Windows are triple glazed and I designed the house to get about 30% of its heat from solar insolation.

I burn about 2-3 cords of wood a year that I cut from our property. Heating comes from a large air-tight wood heater in the living room for cold days. On moderate days we use the wood cook stove in the kitchen (We also have an electric range.) This year I cut all fir rather than oak because I couldn't start cutting until late spring and oak would not have dried.

I got 3 cords (our year's supply) out of 7 fir trees. The diameter at the butt (not the DBH) averaged about 16". They ranged in height from 30-40' and were probably at least 30 years old. Although I have 57 acres, I doubt that I have even cut in (not clear cut) as much as 10 acres over the last 28 years we have been here.

What I would do is call the Ohio Dept. of Forestry and ask them for specific growth rates in your area for hard and soft woods.

Hope this helps.


As a drying note - Germans believe 2 1/2 years for oak - around here, red oak, roughly 30 years old. As a kid growing up in Virginia, oak was definitely considered something to season for a couple of years, but then, at the time, most of this wood was easily 100 years old, as the region's watershed was replaced with suburbia. Often, the wood was burned on site (mound and torch - this was done up until at least the 1970s, and occasionally in the 1980s it could still be seen in practice, being a cheap way to get rid of many cubic yards of splintered and torn wood), though occasionally it was hauled to a mill, and it was never a problem for someone to collect and sell. Though these days, I am sure oak firewood is quite rare in Northern Virginia.

Just picked up a small tool for measuring the wood's wetness from a company called Wöhler, the idea being to track the best way to dry the wood over time. Probably nothing too ground shattering to learn, though.

From my experience in Vermont, just picking up the naturally-dead wood from about 5 acres of woodland would suffice. But that's with a good indoor wood stove. A furnace would be somewhat less efficient (heats up the basement), and an outdoor burner even worse (heats up the great outdoors, loses heat from the pipes to the house, often burns a dirty and inefficient flame, but depends on the model). Remember that the labor to "feed" the stove is a major undertaking, so the most efficient setup will save a lot of muscle and joint pain!

My place at 3,700 ft elevation, 40 degrees latitude in lower Cascades, uses about 4 cords per year. It is 1,840 feet. That would require about 4 acres of the better mixed conifer forest land here, managed primarily for wood. If I had about 25 acres, I could manage the land for timber and heat the house with what is otherwise wasted or shipped to the power plant at a loss.

I have read that it takes about 10 acres of hardwood forest to sustainably heat an average size American home. But you better put a really good fence up around your wood lot to keep your freezing neighbors from over-harvesting your wood.

"I have read that it takes about 10 acres of hardwood forest to sustainably heat an average size American home."

10 acres would be ample. Here in Northern New England you can figure on 2-3 cords per acre per year of raw volume growth, so 10 acres would easibly supply a home in a sustainable fashion. Plus, many of our stands are rather over-stocked at this time and could use a good thinning. I have 15 acres, and in getting my 3 cords per year I have visited a rather small portion of it. I drag it log length to just outside my woodshed with my horse, and work it up there - then I just toss it into the shed for stacking. The only fossil fuel involved is the ol' chainsaw, and she don't drink much.

At this point, since I'm trying to actually manage my woodlot in a coherent fashion (I'm an ex-forester, can't help it :-) I'm cutting a lot of red maple, birch, ash, and some beech. I'm favoring the nicer red oak, and yellow birch. Not a lot of sugar maple where I'm working, but I favor that as well. Sugar maple is a nice firewood, though - lots of BTU's per cord, and smells wonderful (maple sugar!).
I burn some of the scraggly old black cherry, too - another good firewood.

This is our 14th winter here, and I'm sure there's more volume on my land now than there was when I started!

I'm not to worried about my neighbors swiping my wood - they all have much more land than I do!

It is hard work, though - seems harder every year. But I basically have all year to make 3 cords - one learns how to pace one's self :-)

To second sgage's 10 acre suggestion here is a quote from Working with Your Woodland - A Landowner's Guide:

"Where fuelwood is of an interest not as a cash crop but as a source of heat for a landowner's residence, at least 10 acres of woodland, stocked primarily with hardwoods are necessary...an acre can be expected to grow between a half cord and a cord a year."

The authors are describing a 5 cord per year heating requirement in an unmanaged woodlot. If managed the minimum acerage can drop to as low as 5 acres depending on the forests productive capacity.

Re: oak. My experience is oak takes the longest to season and I won't burn it unless seasoned more than 2 years.

I just want to chime in and agree with everyone's comments on oak - it takes a real long time to season properly. But if you can get ahead of the game by a couple of years (ha ha!) it's worth it. I stack oak separately, and keep track of "aging". Once you have seasoned oak, it burns like anthracite. Lots of BTU's, and makes long-lasting coals. I save it for power outages and special dinner parties.

Oak rots from the outside in, so if you find big fallen branches or trunks in your woodlot that seem beyond use, just cut one and have a look - usually the middle 90% is sound as a dollar used to be, and you can just kick the "rind" off. Around here we refer to it as "petrified wood".

Red maple dries up pretty quick, and so does ash - you can burn ash practically green. Birch you need to get split right away, because the bark seals in moisture very effectively, and it'll rot. In fact, you can burn anything if you split it small enough and keep the fire crankin'. Just takes a while to get her going.

Good to see a bunch of experienced wood-burners here - it's a great form of energy if you have the right situation and temperament. I love it!

Agreed. But this is misleading i.e. an access to an unmanaged woodlot allows much more harvesting in the first ten years. Such a lot allows about every sixth tree to be marked to open up the canopy and remove predators (eg beech).

Most folks are shocked in disbelief to see the degree of thinning most bush requires. Once done, new saplings will flourish (and less mosquitos).

Good point Freddy, Mollie Beattie (Working With Your Woodland) asserts an unmanaged woodlot contains 5 to 15 cords of potential firewood per acre which needs to be removed. Only after this wood is removed do the estimates for annual production apply.

Beech may be a pest with respect to more valuable species of trees, but it makes excellent firewood

thanx. btw, i ditto the remarks on hydraulic splitters. a god send if the wood is for more than aesthetics.

Thanks for the responses. I am a city person at heart and I really hope I never have to leave the city, but part of why I ask about wood heat is I am considering buying some wooded land as an investment or possible future home site. Land around here is pretty cheap for now. I suspect land values will rise as marginal land needs to be put back to agricultural use in the future and also as more rural people try to rely on wood heat.

Part of me has reservations, however. Is it really a good idea to use wood heat on a wide scale? Seems like almost every day, I hear of someone around here (in the country) putting in a wood-heating system bc/ of higher gas and electric prices. The external wood-burning boiler type that uses green/ wet wood seems to be the most popular type. Many burn their trash in it as well and some will mix in about 20% to 40% coal. One guy I know has been cutting up tires and putting that in his system (a practice that probably ought to be illegal if it isn't).

Our area is prone to flooding and soil erosion, so this trend makes me a little worried. I cannot know the real numbers, but I suspect in our county of 60+ thousand, there are probably several hundred homes that rely on wood heat. Can a rural area support a large number of homes using wood heat without running into significant environmental degradation?

I think a lot of the firewood for sale around here is coming from clearing houselots. Most everyone here burns wood, at least as a supplement to a furnace and to tide one over during our frequent power outages.

I suppose it depends on the area, the tree species, climate etc., and the density of housing (we're a very small town, and very spread out).

I know that in some inversion-prone places, air quality is a big problem from time to time. I think they had to ban wood burning in some of the Colorado ski towns because the inversions would lock in all the smoke and it looked like LA. Or Denver, for that matter.

Another approach being explored around here is wood-powered electricity generation. Burlington VT has its own electrical dept., and they have been making electricity from wood for years now from converted coal boilers. Here in NH, PSNH is building a couple of new wood-fired plants up north. Feeding them will give the loggers and truckers something to do, what with all the paper mills shutting down.

I have been meeting 100% of my heating needs with wood for over 5 years now. Been burning wood for over 20.

I use a Woodstock Soapstone woodstove, with a catalytic combustor. Emissions are very low.... no smoke is visible from the outside stovepipe when the stove is up to temp. A cold startup will produce smoke.

Burning wood has a bad rap from people that do not know what they are doing, or burning older pre-EPA appliances. Turning down an older, pre-EPA stove (for an overnight burn) usually results in a smokey burn. New stoves feature secondary air to burn flammable vapours before they go up the chimney.

Outdoor wood furnaces can produce alot of smoke. In West Virginia, one unit could smoke out an entire valley when the winds were calm and a low barometer. This is because they essentially shut off the air flow to the fire when heat is not needed, causing it to smoulder. When there is a call for heat, a blowing stokes the fire and cleans things up.

In Maryland/Virginia, I typically burn about 3 cords per year. All of the wood is scrounged after NorEaster, Tropical, and Hurricane storms. Plenty of wood lying around. Nice exercise too. I use about 1 gallon of gasoline to produce those three cords in a Stihl chainsaw. I split all of the wood with a maul. No splitter.

See Hearth.com for lively discussions and good advice.

No smoke is visible from my my stove at working temp. either (it's a Jotul). I deliberately got a stove that is maybe a bit on the small side, so that I can burn it cleanly without turning the house into a sauna. I sort of wish I had a bigger firebox sometimes, but oh well, next stove...

I split with a maul too - some pieces can be a challenge! If they're too nasty, I stack them in a separate pile to try again another year. I was actually thinking about renting a splitter next year to do up the past few year's accumulated monsters. But mostly I'm cutting stuff that's small and clean enough that I can do it no problem. Especially the ash - sometimes it seems all you have to do is look at it the right way and it splits. :-)

OK, time to go build up the fire for the evening... it finally turned cold around here... Hope everyone is staying warm!

I split with a maul too - some pieces can be a challenge!

Live in a city for a few years - you'd be surprised how quickly that challenge turns into something to savour.

Have you tried using wedges and a sledgehammer on the monsters?

"Have you tried using wedges and a sledgehammer on the monsters?"

Oh yes. In fact, I usually have a sledge within reaching distance when I'm splitting with the maul. If I can at least get the maul stuck into an otherwise recalcitrant piece, it becomes a wedge and I can pound away with the sledge. I have other wedges to use as well. But some of these bad boys are too much for me. Though sometimes I come back to them when I'm feeling feisty, or need to work out some stress - it's amazing what you can do in the right frame of mind :-)

I used to spilt with mauls (including an all-steel monster maul), wedges, etc. But I switched to a gas powered hydraulic splitter about 10 years ago when I hurt my back. I'll tell you, I would never go back to doing it by hand even if may back was perfect. I have a 30 ton splitter and it splits or crushes almost everything. I get, maybe, four or six unsplitables in a cord that I have to re-saw to get them to size. The splitter uses almost no gas. Give me those energy slaves!

PS - Yes, I still have all that hand stuff including hand saws just in case.

Phinias. I get from some of your posts that we both may live in the hills around the Ohio river. I have heated with wood for many years. Some modern wood stoves are very good, and almost never smoke, and put almost all the combustion heat into the house instead of up the stack. I have seen local outdoor wood furnaces, however, that are really bad. The designers have not caught up with modern technology, and hence create a totally unnecessary pall of smoke from partial combustion.

Typical good wood burners have two chambers- a smoke generator, and a secondary chamber in which the smoke is mixed with pre-heated secondary air and burned at a high temp in an insulated volume designed to allow complete combustion.

The best designs have electronic controls that do the job of setting the right proportions of fuel and air, and mix and burn completely.

Of course, you can always make a primitive smoke pot and rain grief on every living thing around while getting almost no heat from all your wood.

As for the work. So I take my pick, I can cut and tote wood and stuff it into a stove, or I can take my car, drive into town, get on an exercise machine crank away for an hour, and have whatever is left of my mind destroyed by the goddam television that they stick in front of that exercise machine.

A second question you might consider is what sort of population density are you willing to live with in an area that burns wood for heat?

For example my sister lives in Chico, CA and I live in Chicago. Most would expect that Chicago has worse air quality do to the vast number of people, cars, industry, etc. but I cannot visit my sister in winter when the huge amount of wood burning causes their air to be so foul that it burns my lungs and tears my eyes. The worst air in Chicagoland is from the steel mills and oil refinery's near Gary Indiana and even that is preferable to the miasma that hangs over Chico much of the winter.

I fear the day that folks resort to burning wood in Chicago. Currently it is too expensive and awkward to be a practical alternative here and is only done by the very rich on holidays. Natural gas heat makes the air here breathable. Even the best wood technology if used by many millions would likely be a catastrophe for the air.

I didn't go all the way down the thread yet, but don't forget two things:

1) The VERY high efficiency stoves from skandinavia and russia, 'Masonry Heaters' and Tulikivi stoves and the like, up into the 80's for efficiency. We built two in my Mom's western Maine homes.. I'd never build without one in the plan now. (Not kits, done by a local mason who knows these systems)

2) The other retrofits that can reduce your heating fuel demands.. Passive Solar, Active Solar (Hot water and hot air).. and geothermal. and of course a tight, well-insulated house to start with. There are combos out there that need no other fuel-based heating at all.. you might be able to let the woodfire just be the icing in extreme conditions!

Bob Fiske

phineas, I have been burning wood for 24 yrs now. Trees fall faster than we can burn them in western OR off 24 acres. We burned 4-6 cords a year with an old home made stove like the "baby bear' from years ago. House is 1800 sqft R30 roof, R19 walls, R19 floor(this is a recient add - glad I did!!). Bought a vermont soap stone(secondary air type) last year. Saving wood like crazy and house stays warmer too. I estimate burning 3-5 cords this year.

Outdoor boilers - Watch out there are a few places banning these now for polution problems.

If you want hot water from a wood stove google it and thier is a Mother Earth news article with a coil mounted behind(and out of sight) the wood heater system. This I plan on adding to our stove next year.

FYI Wood on average contains 5,600 btu per pound dry weight. Resin content adds to this.

A lot of the old hippie stuff used copper coils and they don't last. I put in a Holly Hydro (don't know if they're still in business since it was over 25 years ago). First, it had an ASME code plate which I needed to make the building inspector happy and, second, was built to last - out of 1/4" steel. It's tied into our active solar water heating system*. HH also had a SS one at that time but it was out of my price range.

Another one from the mid to late '70s was the Blazing Showers which replaced a section of flue pipe. I don't know if they are still in business either.

*FWIW, the solar water runs off a timer whereas the wood heater exchanger runs off a differential temperature controller.

Did you have a heat exchanger as a WH preheater tie it direct to the WH? I read and it seems that a heat exchanger is needed when incorporating with active solar.
..and how well does it work? (the wood part I mean)



I use a common preheater tank (35 gallon) and pump for both systems. I started out circulating directly to the main HWH but the reality was that there were many times when I was actually cooling the water when on the solar or the water in the tank was too high for the differential controller to kick on for the wood heater. Therefore, I lost some of its value.

The actual heat exchanger in the wood stove is about 2" deep, 8" high and 16" long. It's set on the firebrick bottom since that was the only way I could get the inlet and outlet pipes through the back of the stove (The smoke shelf is in the way were it higher.) They are 1/2" which I then increased to 3/4" to match the rest of the piping.

How does it work? Well, it depends upon the fire size and how much hot water we are using. I just took a look at the thermometer on the tank and it's 100 degrees. It wasn't very cold today so we only kept a small fire and we did do laundry this morning. When it's been cold for days on end, I've seen it as high as 180 degrees. At that point I simply dump hot water to bring the temperature down.

I'm personally convinced that it is well worthwhile. I manually switch back and forth between the systems. But I usually just shut the solar down for the winter and restart it in spring. There is winter shading when the sun is low so that it would only get around 3-4 hours per day.

I hope this helps. If not, fire away.



These kinds of things are not toys. Everything needs to be properly vented using a pressure relief valve (PRV) and the vent line run outside!!!! On my system, I have one about 6" from the outlet of the heat exchanger on the wood heater, one on the storage tank, one on the solar collectors and, of course, one on the main HWH.

Have my systems vented? YES. The solar has only done it once in many years. However, I vent the wood heater heat exchanger several times a year. Some times I forget to open a valve when I'm switching between the solar and heat exchanger. Other times the differential temp comtroller has failed for some unknown reason. It has also vented when the power has failed before I can switch to the PV system or if the power goes off at night when we're sleeping.

YOU (generic) do not want to experience a steam explosion. It could kill or scald you. Do it right or don't do it at all.

Thanks for the reply. More questions...
Is your preheater tank a heat exchanger w/antifreeze or do you drain your solar setup to prevent freezing for winter? Your post sounds like you don't use a heat exchanger type tank and houshold water circulates through it. We would freeze hard enough to damage solar panels.
We get more winter sun (hrs) than you when it isn't cloudy (ahem!) here in rainy western Oregon. However I question the value of heat exchangers and the hassle of antifreeze because we already heat with wood in winter and this seems like a more dependable way to go (with a setup like yours).
Did you buy your solar setup and did you have it installed? Any advice? Building it yourself looks cheaper but fewer hassles could tip the scales.
It is really helpful to talk to someone who uses as system and is not just selling it. Our well water is 38 deg F. even in August! I wish I were kidding, this a damn cold water. Obviously this has a huge potential for saving electricity for us.



No, I don't use one of the anitfreeze-type systems like the Copper Cricket. The pre-heater tank is the "cold" source for the HWH. In other words, the incoming cold water goes to the pre-heater which then feeds the HWH.

First of all, I built and installed almost all of the system including the solar collectors. I'm into cheap and I like designing stuff like the solar collectors which are very low profile (8" high), semi-concentrators. Up thread someone mentioned a system costing something like $10k. Here were my costs 25 years ago: I designed the house to have solar HW and a heat exchanger in the wood heater so there was no real added plumbing installation costs. The solar collectors cost me about $400 to build. I used an old gas HWH I had from our rental so zero cost for the pre-heater tank. The Grunfos pump was about $200. The differential temp controller was $100 and the wood stove heat exchanger was about $180. Throw in misc. plumbing parts and evrything cost under a grand.

Anyone with reasonable carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills could build solar collector panels like mine and put in a similar system. I might also add that the main HWH is run on the PV system during sunny days - winter and summer. Because my PV system is only 3.6kW, I use a cycling timer (about 12 seconds on and 15 seconds off - I adjust it depending upon insolation) so as to not suck the batteries down below 80% charge.

My weather in the Coast Range Mountains of northern CA is much like yours. As I mentioned above, I drain and shut down the solar collectors for most of the winter. I'd have freezing problems and there isn't enough sun to make it worth the effort.

Our well water is around 55 degrees and often much colder by the time it gets to the house since all the plumbing goes to our unheated garage/shop.


Todd, ...more and more questions...
I assume with your collectors - copper pipe? I keep coming back to copper as the way to go. Plastics seem to have disavantages.
I like that you decided draining was the way to go, it just looks all round better to me. No antifreeze/no expensive heat exchanger.
Your panel design- V shaped metal? Semi-concentrator(?) Not parabolic right? Looks too hard to build a parabolic.
Grundfos- boy do I like those(!) we use them at the nursery for bench heat.
I will probably build my own system. I have the skills and the prices of store bought even with the state and federal tax credits cost alot.
Did you use insulation on the back side and if so what type? Durability?
Wow even more questions.. wood or metal frame, glass or plastic for covers?
I hope you don't mind all the questions. Hands on experience is worth alot imo.

Hi D,

Since it looks like we're the only ones here, I'll be a little (:-) more verbose. I did a complete description of how to build these collectors on another forum http://www.timebomb2000.com a couple of years ago so you might find it on a search there. I may also have a draft of that post in my doc files. If you email me at detzel(at)mcn.org I'll check them out.

Anyway, I used 1 1/2" rigid urethane foam. I used this for two reasons. First, it is light weight and provides insulation as an integral part of the collector. Second, the parts can be glued together using regular carpenter's urethane glue (It's water catalyzed and available at most home supply-type stores.)

The collectors are built in 4' sections. This allows the use of regular 4x8 foot sheets of foam.

You know, as I'm writing this, I think I'll have a look at Timebomb first because it might save a lot of tims.

Be back soon.


Well, I did a quick search on TB and couldn't find my post on construction nor could I find a draft in my docs. So...

Rip the foam into 16" by 4 foot sections. I used my table saw for all this but you could use a regular power saw with a straight edge to guide it. Now take one of the sections and set the saw for a 45 degree bevel. Rip one half of the piece to 8 inches. Rip the other piece to 8 inches also. SAVE the little triangular piece that is left. You'll be gluing this to the 90 degree angle when you glue the two halves together. I did tests using my laser and this little made a difference.

Take an uncut 16 inch section. Cut triangles from them to glue in the ends later. You'll have to get your own dinensions for this. The actual interior opening between the faces is about 9 1/4 inches. SOrry about the scrap left.

THIS IS OUT OF SEQUENCE but I don't feel like retyping it...I use three runs of 1/2inch copper pipe. They are 1 1/2 inches back form what will be the face of the collector. One pipe is dead center and the other two are 2 3/8 inches on either side. I punched holes for the pipe in the end pieces using a shapened piece of 1/2 inch copper. I made a jig so all the holes would line up perfectly.

Now, get some 1/2 or 3/4 redwood. Rip it to 1 1/2 inches with a 45 degree bevel on one edge.

Initial assembly - Glue the two 8 inch pieces together. I used the top of my table saw with some plastic to protect it from the glue. I wet one side and put one side up against the fence. I applied glue to the other side and joined them. I used a piece of wood and a block of metal to hold them tight.

Cut the redwood to length (4') and glue to the edge of the top and bottom. This is to give a place for the glass to sit. Use the same glue. I think I just taped them in place until the glue set. BTW, urethane glue is the pits to get off your hands so use gloves.

Now, continuing from above, cut the side triangles to size, that is, to fit in the opening between the right angle sides. Punch the holes and glue. Glue in the triangle piece so the face is perpendicular to the front face.

Glue on almuninium foil to the inside surfaces. I considered aluminized mylar but I didn't know if it would take the heat so I didn't use it.

So, at this point you have the basic collector but with no glazing or plumbing.

Glue the four foot sections into the length you want using silicon glue/adhesive (but you probably could use the urethans). I used 2-24 foot sections. They are on a 3 1/2 pitch roof and the solar angle is fine.

Paint the sections to match your roof color.

OK. I moved the sections to the roof. I did not attach them to anything. We have a metal, spanish-style roof. A steeper or shingled roof might need some kind of attachment. FWIW, we get lots of wind on our mountain top.

Paint the copper pipe black. I just used flat black not a fancy collector-type paint. Slip the pipes into the collectors and solder them together. On the ends, I set it up with elbows so that the flow is a continuous loop through all the collectors. Does this make sense to you?

Get glazing cut to size. I got single strength glass. Put a bead of silicone around the edges and put the glas in place. I used duct tape to hold it from sliding until the silicone set.

I think that's about it but I might not have been clear and I hope I didn't miss something important.

Were I doing it again, my new idea is to use chip board in place of the foam and a piece of aluminium flashing to make a real concentrator.

With my set-up, I get about a 50-60 degree rise from the ambient temp of the tank. In the summer I usually end up with 130-150 degree water by the end of the day. As I mentioned before, I use a simple outlet timer to turn it on and off. Typically this is 10AM to 4PM. I do need to keep it on long enough because these collectors WILL make steam.

Thinking about email, I could email you some pictures if you thought they's help.

Post again if I missed something.


One point I should make is that these collectors are NOT self-draining. When winter starts to set in and freezing weather is expected, I take one of my air compressors and "blow them down." This is why I pretty much shut it down for winter. It doesn't take five minutes and since I'm cheap I'll do it at lest a half a dozen times before I say the heck with it.

Also, I used foil faced foam. It's lasted pretty well with the paint although some of the foil is showing cracking so I need to repaint them this year. They've been up 7 or 8 years I think.

Also, also, I used the silicone between them because I wanted to be sure that water couldn't get trapped between the sections, freeze and push them apart.

1 gal #2 fuel oil = 22.2# wood
1 therm (100 cubic feet) nat gas = 14# wood
1 gal propane = 14.6# wood
1 kwh electricity = .59# wood
1# coal = 1.56# wood

I live in Nebraska and heat exclusively with wood. 1 acre of good hardwood in nebraska will sustainbly produce about 25 cubic feet annually. 128 cubic feet per cord = 5 acres per cord. We use 5-6 cord annually which would require 25-30 acres of good hardwood forest. We have an 1800sq foot home with a modern lopi stove and my wife prefers to keep the house around 80.

Here is a good source for reliable info:


Thanks for the link. Very informative.

A close friend?

Bold leadership needed to avert environmental disaster

Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International in Houston, a close friend of President Bush and a towering figure in the world of petroleum exploration and development, said that the world has now reached peak oil.

That "close friend" bit seems way off from what I've heard.

IIRC, Mr. Simmons was interviewed by GPM a year or two ago and claimed not to be close to the president and not to be an energy advisor to the administration. That being said, I believe he did state that he gave his opinions to the political leadership more or less because he felt it was his duty to do so -- something to that effect.

My recollection from a Simmons interview was that he gave some data to the 2000 Bush/Cheney election--but that was it.

simmons was on the 2001 cheney energy task force. I think only good friends were invited

Hi earl and upthread folks,

If I heard him correctly, in a Q&A after a recent talk, Simmons said that his idea for a tax on all oil imports in order to mandate transparency of production data (esp. from KSA - my impression) could be easily implemented by Pres. Bush.

The logical follow-up Q would be: "Okay, so who convinces Bush to do this? and How?"

My guess is that if they were *really* good friends, Bush would have put this in place by now. (Unless, of course, there might be more convincing reasons not to...)

I've suggested and wonder if TOD might invite Simmons to respond to some qs, if we have them. (I do.)

Joel Belz of World Magazine wrote a column critical of ethanol as an alternative to Petroleum. He cites EROEI (without using that term) as a major reason. World is a Christian-oriented news magazine.

I'm curious as to who actually owns Worldmag.

I'll try to find out, but does anyone know how to find out?

Does anyone have a hard copy with that info?

OK, the publisher is Nick Eicher.

My curiosity was piqued as I was raised in the USA Right Wing Fundamentalist offshoot from Christianity.

From what I could tell from googling, the guy is known in the circle of folks who followed Francis Schaeffer & Co. Looks like he is part of the Right Wing US - Xtian subculture.

Yup. Where I came from.

NASAguy, I don't subscibe, so read only the first part of Belz's article. His intro line:

If you want a good symbol of almost everything that's wrong with government, try ethanol.

Interesting take on the topic of ethanol. I might start an article out with the line:

If you want a good symbol of almost everything that's wrong with American Christian Fascism's marriage to Corporatist Government, try ethanol."

Although I'm not sure I'd want to start an article on ethanol that way -- at all!

His article might be very, very effective in starting some critical thinking amoung those in his target audience about ethanol. And that's a good thing, I think.

I am bemused at how ethanol becomes a foil against which to take a shot at "government" in a fashion typical of the Religious Right. A prelude to defense of some narrative in which Religious, Government, and Corporate power are united to create A Theocratic State?

Perhaps not! Old memories are stirred by the look and content of Worldmag's website

Oil, ethanol, and the Midwestern Bible Belt Religious Right. An interesting comparison to the Middle East?

Sorry to reply to my own reply!

Somehow half of my previous message got cut off.

My thought continued, if any care to follow this further... :)

I do not think it would be a good idea to start off most essays on ethanol with an attack on government, religion, or agriculture -- unless one is preaching to one's own choir, as Belz clearly seems to be.

My curiosity about this is piqued as I grew up in the Religious Right, and spent my high school years in good ol' Iowa.

My sense is that there are a quite a number of God-fearing folks in the USA who would like to see a Theocracy established in the image of U.S. "Christian" Fundamentalism.

The irony of Islamic Fundamentalism being used to manipulate people around the world in contrast to the same being done with Christian Fundamentalism is enough to make me smile and wince at the same time.

The fact that oil and ethanol are both tied into cultures where religious fundamentalism blends religion, government, and corporate power into fascist unity is simply stunning.

In the USA we are more overtly addicted to worship of Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith, our electronic novacaine of sexualized and narcisistic disinfotainment. In a bizzarre twist, this overtly-embraced popular American Idolatry may keep religious fundamentalism, the other American Idolatry, from taking over. More likely, they are two sides of one phenomenon.

Even so, will the "Saudi Arabia of Ethanol" ever materialize, or will it fade like a mirage in the desert?

And will the religious extremists of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism -- who have so much in common -- continue to fuel the flames of hatred and dress resource wars in drag as Holy Wars: God Against Satan?

When the last evil-doer is dead, the world will be a very quiet place for the rest of the species -- unless they are taken out as collateral damage.

Sorry for the rant. Old memories were stirred of growing up in the Religious Right.

Great Juxtaposition of stories above: "Living in a state of exponential delusion" followed by "The conspiracy Of Silence On Climate Change"

...This might now explain why it is that Eskom has been unable to keep up with electricity demand and why we keep experiencing power cuts. If Eskom is going to meet demand, it is going to have to generate more electricity than it has in our entire history during the course of the next 11 years. Does anyone seriously think this is possible?

...no one has seriously researched into the question of the extent of renewables any grid can accomodate... However I find that the author does not look into the issue of availability of resources (mainly oil, gas, coal, steel etc and their dependence on each other) as critically as one would hope.

Here we are at Peak Oil and the general public has no idea that TimezUp - most expect growth to continue at a time that sustainability of the status quo is not even possible.

The Mother of All Mass Delusions is in progress, please stand by... (3...2...1... ****)

Superb observations, sendoilplease!
Send oil..... please!

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this
- Warren Zevon

Replace Havana with Baghdad, and who have we there?

Greetings to all. I haven't posted, or even visited, for a while -- been busy at a new job (teaching). I just read an interview in Barron's Online (subscription required), and didn't see it linked here. Sandra Ward interviewed Art Smith, chairman and chief executive of John S. Herold, "The Big Question for Big Oil: Where to Invest?" Check it out for yourself, if you're a subscriber. A few excerpts follow:


Smith: I did a Webcast a few weeks ago called the "Petroleum Exploration Paradox." According to our president, we are addicted to oil, but apparently we don't want to explore for it anymore. All of the data we collect show the industry's capital investment in the upstream -- for exploration, anyway -- has been declining substantially from where it was five and 10 years ago. It amounts to 15 cents on the dollar when it used to be 30 cents on the dollar.

Basically, the exploration model hasn't been working, so no one is funding it. The big oil companies have determined the best thing they can do is continue to buy in their own stock and pay dividends.


Our bottom line on this exploration paradox is that it will cause the large companies to review all the major players in the world, and those that have undeveloped reserves of significant magnitude but require capital will be the targets. Major oil companies have become bankers, rather than risk-takers.


You know, Cambridge Energy Research Associates came out a couple of months ago with a stinging attack on peak oil. It's the "Peakists" versus the "Cornucopians," which is what Kenneth Deffeyes at Princeton calls the CERA people. Quite frankly, I don't want to be branded either one. The debate is very healthy and no one knows the answers, but there is a lot of evidence that the world's thirst for energy will be reaching a point where we certainly don't want to go the ethanol route.

A bushel of yellow corn is now $4 because of all of the new plans for ethanol production. It has driven up the price of tortillas in Mexico, and people are protesting. It is killing the agriculture and livestock business. A bushel of corn could easily be $5 based on all the new ethanol plants under construction. At a conversion rate of 2.8 gallons of ethanol per bushel, I can tell you without doing much further work that it doesn't work at $5 a bushel for corn and $50 oil.


I keep telling anybody who doesn't know about the oil sands to buy some and put it in your kids' or your grandkids' account and just forget about it, because it is clearly a unique asset that is economic at much lower oil prices. If prices go to $100 a barrel, it will be phenomenally profitable, because it goes on forever.


I'll stop here, for fear of incurring the wrath of Barron's Online, and its lawyers... Good to see that TOD remains alive and well.

Don't forget the Popultopians, those who think population can just keep on growing and growing and growing....... maybe with soybean faux-foods and more walking and bus riding, but by golly we'll put 10 billion souls for ... God or something ... on this planet if it kills us!

From Drudge:

Target Iran: US able to strike in the spring

Despite denials, Pentagon plans for possible attack on nuclear sites are well advanced
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Saturday February 10, 2007
The Guardian

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The state department and the Pentagon are opposed, as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. The sources said Mr Bush had not yet made a decision. The Bush administration insists the military build-up is not offensive but aimed at containing Iran and forcing it to make diplomatic concessions. The aim is to persuade Tehran to curb its suspect nuclear weapons programme and abandon ambitions for regional expansion.

War of words

"If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly"
George Bush, in an interview with National Public Radio

"The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they are in position to press us in many ways. They are doing nothing to be constructive in Iraq at this point"
Robert Gates

"I think it's been pretty well-known that Iran is fishing in troubled waters"
Dick Cheney

"It is absolutely parallel. They're using the same dance steps - demonise the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux"
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter- terrorism specialist, in Vanity Fair, on echoes of the run-up to the war in Iraq

"US policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response. Enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumours about death and health to demoralise the Iranian nation, but they did not know that they are not dealing with only one person in Iran. They are facing a nation"
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


The possible attack on Iran by the US reminds me of the attack that US president Nixon made on Cambodia during the waning years of the Vietnam War.


In the early months of 1970, the United States made the decision to attack North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sanctuaries in neutral Cambodia. Previously, the NVA had utilized these bases with impunity to assist in the conduct of offensive operations into South Vietnam. This decision was not a popular one politically for the Nixon Administration. However, Nixon believed this action would speed up the “Vietnamization” process and thus quicken the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

Nearly all the senior Pentagon officers and members of the US Congress will recall this episode from the briefings and newscasts of the time. The campaign objective was to weaken the adversary of South Vietnam by attacking a sanctuary, thus facilitating the subsequent withdrawal of American troops in what was by then an unpopular war.

This strategy did not work. American troops were nonetheless pulled out and just a few years later the American sponsored government of South Vietnam was overcome by its domestic insurgents as well as by North Vietnam.

I hope that Bush is just adopting a threatening posture to pressure Iran not to arm the Shias against us. If we can just get to 2008 without an attack on Iran, I expect the next administration to withdraw American troops regardless of the bloody civil war that will probably ensue.

Also never forget that the big problem the Dems have with the war is not that it's going on, but that they feel they can do a better job of fighting it than the Repubs. Obama, Hillary, Kerry, et. al. all want to put more troops over there and expand it.

So, starting the war on Iran and other parts as yet undetermined in time for Bush to leave is just about right - then the Dems can expand the war greatly while blaming it on the previous administration and grinning while they say in effect, "Dear Mrs Jones, we're drafting your 15 and 16 year old sons, and oh yes, your 53-year old husband, because we just have to clean up the mess Bush left..."

Which comes around to my theory, which is that if each and every American were able to see the whole picture, that it's live like we do and keep up the oil wars and creeping police state, or gear way back and greatly decrease the non-essential in how we live, almost all Americans would want to keep on doing things as we are now.

Hello TODers,

Dr. Duncan's Olduvai Gorge has a new update version.




Hope these links work, otherwise go to Savinar's LATOC newssection and blog.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Interesting comment that the discussion of the impossibility of an infinite growth rate against a finite resource base is a taboo subject in the media, i.e., the Peter Huber view is really the mainstream view, to-wit, our energy consumption will essentially increase forever, although our sources of energy will change with time.

The really odd part of this line of reasoning is that even Huber, if pressed, will admit that some oil producing regions like the Lower 48 are in decline. In other words, he admits that discrete sources of energy will peak and decline, but our aggregate energy output--which consists of the sum of discrete sources of energy--will never peak and decline.

This is analogous to saying that individual oil wells in a field will peak and decline, but the aggregate output of the field--which is the sum of the production of all oil wells--will never peak and decline.

The MSM is not part of the reality based community. It is run by neocons who are too busy whitewashing and paving the way for the chimperor's crusades.

As we discussed in November, the Olduvai model is continually invalidated due to its failure to forecast energy production per capita. This third version will fall upon a similar fate due to its author's inability to access new energy production proposals data.

The orginial model foresaw the ratio peaking in 1998 and like Peak Oil, the date keeps being pushed into the future to provide continued fodder for the lunatic fringe...

Please provide the evidence the PO has been consistently being pushed into the future - or maybe you didn't actually read the linked article above?

Charles, please don't dring the koolaid. PO: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, Y2k, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & now at 2010.

Duncan has no legitimate basis for a peak EPC either. It is something he wishes to happen to usher in the anti christ and the subsequent path to armageddon as foretold...

Version 1.0 was a piece of sh*t in 1989. 2.0 in 2004 was worse. And this ver3.0 doesn't even have any references. No science. Zilch. Just a bibliography of pages from books by gloom merchants. Anecdotal nonsense.

It is unfortunate that he used 2008. He'll have to start work on Ver 4.0 post haste!

I notice that 2006 isn't on the list - I guess because, at least currently, at least using a strict definition of crude, and viewing the information within a fairly tolerant boundary, 2006 is, it seems, the production peak - with very little information indicating a flood of oil coming online in 2007.

We will all know in a few years, but I do think it will be increasingly hard to argue over the next few years that a massive flood of oil is just waiting to arrive.

Not actually disputing the part about believing as compared to accepting data - but at some point, beyond dispute, the data will show peak. And then a number of people will retain their belief that peak hasn't arrived yet - life mirrors pretty much everything when viewed over a long enough time span.

(And in fairness - I assume the missing 2006 was a typo.)

I want to thank you Freddy. Even though your post was nothing more than a sophomoric ad-hom attack, it did force me to do a little fact checking on Dr. Duncan and Olduvai. I wasn't able to find his original 1989 paper on the web, but I did find his 1998 paper here (specifically figure 13) where he states:

That study was done in 1996 and predicted the peak in 2005 at a rate of 29.0 Gb/year. The Issue #2 study (rightmost point) was done in 1997 and predicted the peak in 2007 at 30.6 Gb/year. The Issue #3 study (topmost point, this paper) was done in 1998 and predicted the peak in 2006 at 31.6 Gb/year.

In the 2007 update linked above he states:

Geologist Walter Youngquist and I have made a series of ten forecasts of world oil production - one per year over 10 years. One of the forecasts put the world peak at 2005; two put it at 2006, six at 2007, and one at 2008. System dynamics software was used. We call our approach "encircling the peak of world oil production" because - right or wrong - our forecasts for the world oil peak kept converging on 2007.

The 1998 paper is confusing in places because it has hypothetical data points for 1999 and 2000 that aren't clearly marked as such, but I can't find any basis for the data you posted. If you have links that will back up your dates please post them.

That's not what the article said.

Interesting. Looks like he's sticking with 2008 for the "Olduvai Cliff":

What if Ghawar and Cantarell are, as I suspect, both declining or crashing? Note the juxtaposition of the Duncan and Iran stories.

One of the questions that I (and others) have posed is what if the Neo-cons believe some version of Richard Duncan's model? What if they view themselves as super patriots? What if they believe that we are--today--moving from a net population increase of about 1.4 million people per week to a net dieoff of 2.1 million people per week worldwide? (Duncan's estimate)

What if they believe that things are going to get so bad that they believe that it is absolutely imperative that the US seize control of the oil fields in the Middle East?

One of the corollaries of Peak Oil is that the federal debt will never be repaid (or perhaps repaid with hugely inflated dollars), so if you believe in Peak Oil, why not max out the federal credit card and in effect use borrowed money to pay for the military takeover of key oil fields in the Middle East?

This has been my working assumption for some time. To my mind it is really the only "rational" explanation for the events of the last few years.

I tend to agree.

One of my favorite all time quotes comes to mind:

"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution "

Nothing in recent geopolitics makes sense except in the light of Peak Oil

Nothing in recent geopolitics makes sense except in the light of Peak Oil

Yes. I learned about PO at Caltech in 1973 and knew the general idea to be a scientific fact. As the US had peaked, the world must eventually peak also. The only quibble was the error bars around the date.

At this point the error bars have shrunk considerably, and I think that 2010 +/- 5 years would satisfy most honest informed parties.

Knowing PO is upon us, the horrific geopolitics of the current decade are no longer a mystery, and the interpretations of Heinberg and Campbell are spot on.

yea. it has dawned on me too that current events don't really make that much sense unless you factor in peak oil to the equation.
suddenly the united state's military movements make sense as well as other things.

MK Hubbert's first crack at PO was to rationalize the move to the Nuclear option. That was good. But as a model it sucked. The geologists of the day told him that global URR was 1250-Gb. Based on that it was easy for him to figure out the halfway crossover, even w/o a computer. He guessed the Peak Rate would be 34.25-mbd.

He kept increasing that 'til he got to 110-mbd. Then he died. Ever since his death, the Peak has always been two to eight years away. The problem is price. Everytime oil goes up five bucks, it brings another 100-Gb of Resource into the Reserve category. Most bottom-up or curve fitting modelers haven't factored this into their models or estimates or musings. And hence the upward revisions are inherent in their methodology.

This will continue to 'til another energy source short circuits the process in play. We thought it was Nuclear. But wacko's got in the way and the fossil fuel parade continues. There are 15-Tb of OIIP. Plus the coal. This could be a long road...

Hi Bob, WT/Jeffrey, et al,

I'll just add the general reference for this line of thought:

Very good questions West Texas.

If the neocons believe Peak Oil will cause something resembling the Duncan model, and the fundamentalists rulers of Iran believe Peak Oil will herald Divine Intervention in human civilization, that basically puts both of them in The Apocalypse Camp.

And, what if Duncan's model turns out to be essentially correct?

Bahkatari's t1 chaos calling?

Hello WT,

Thxs for responding. My fervent hope is that we will successfully spread PO + GW Outreach, abandon the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario, drastically cut our military expenditure and shift to relocalized permaculture. IMO, Putin's speech upthread is 'right on the money'.

Otherwise, we will have millions of young people physically and emotionally incapacitated just when we need them most for human labor. Imagine ten million terribly wounded war-vets abandoned to skidrow [see my post from yesterday's drumbeat]. It is the destiny of the younger generations to wisely choose their postPeak future-- my goal is to inform them as best as I can through Peakoil Outreach.

If the worst starts to develop-- the young should prefer dying in a Revolution at home versus dying overseas--it will be much more energy efficient and have much less total lethality and #'s of lifelong incapacity.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi Bob,

Thanks, and in terms of "outreach" and "relocalize...", I wonder what else we can do?

"My fervent hope is that we will successfully spread PO + GW Outreach, abandon the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario, drastically cut our military expenditure and shift to relocalized permaculture. IMO, Putin's speech upthread is 'right on the money'."

Just as a bit of interest, which Heading Out may report on tomorrow, I thought it was interesting to see some of the latest of LED advances, such as http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=1554, and as anticipated in conventional-type lighting, esp. in conjunction with "off-grid" solar power sourcing. (Sometimes I have to cheer myself up when contemplating Olduvai.)

Hello Aniya,

Thxs for responding. Please read my Death Valley into Life-Saving Valley post in the Feb.11 Drumbeat--I am constantly racking my brains for solutions because I am a fast-crash doomer, but I don't want it to happen at all. We TODers really have to start stretching our minds more to create solutions, then spread them with Peakoil Outreach to the huddled masses.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi Bob,

Thank you for responding back, as well. Since it's already a day later...I'll just add since it seems you read replies...Yes, I did read your Death Valley post, and the replies. Here are some things you might want to check out when you have time: www.cnvc.org, www.gordontraining.com, www.newconversations.net. I listed a bunch, just to show there's a context. (The core idea are more profound than might appear at first glance, is my experience.) I'd just thought I'd mention them. To me, they are at the heart of the idea of people working and talking together.

Jim Pupluva has a good oil markets discussion at www.financialsense.com. He quoted an excerpt from a recent article that "Demand Destruction" is really a code phrase for "Death and Conflict."

Note that ExxonMobil has put the world gross decline rate (before new wells) at between 4% and 6%. So, our current production base will decline by 50% in a time period from 12 to 18 years. Therefore, our current crude + condensate production will decline to about 36 mbpd in a time frame from 2019 to 2025.

In order to maintain flat production, we have to add 36 mbpd (four new Saudi Arabias) in new production by sometime between 2019 and 2025. Or, we need between 2 and 3 mbpd in new production per year. Note that the initial decline is much sharper. At 6% of 72 mbpd, we need 4.3 mbpd in new production to just stay flat.

Note that the ExxonMobil estimate is probably on the optimistic side.

This is really the crux of the Peak Oil argument: at around the 50% of Qt mark the new production coming on line can't make up for the decline in production from older, and larger, oil fields.

Edit: in regard to the decline rates.

For example, the long term net Texas decline rate has been about 4% per year. At peak production in 1972 (3.5 mbpd), we needed an additional 140,000 bpd in new production per year to stay flat. At one mbpd, we needed an additional 40,000 bpd in new production per year to stay flat, but production continues to decline. Again, peak does not mean that we stop finding oil. Peak just means that we can't offset the decline in large, old fields.

The story is the same in most larger producing regions in the world. Just add more zeroes. If the Saudi decline is not voluntary, they needed an additional 770,000 bpd in new production per year to stay flat.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for responding. What would be interesting to see is if the numbers of people getting their electricity from pure biosolar sources [wind, PVs, tidal, hydro, etc] is growing faster than those losing access to electricity from now unaffordable detritus sources [coal, crude, natgas]. My guess is the reverse is true, and will get worse over time from diminishing returns [other TODers are free to disagree]. This biosolar/detritus ratio might be a reliable blowback predictor of violence and mortality levels going forward.

As mentioned before: I will gladly accept naturally occuring darkness if that energy is shifted to providing safe food & water locally. But every night, my Asphalt Wonderland continously trys to get black tarmac to reflect photons with millions of high-powered streetlamps and other futile points of illuminated insanity. Such is life.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi again, Bob,

re: "What would be interesting to see is if the numbers of people getting their electricity from pure biosolar sources [wind, PVs, tidal, hydro, etc] is growing faster than those losing access to electricity from now unaffordable detritus sources [coal, crude, natgas]."

Some of these (esp PVs and wind) are growing at a pretty fast rate, is my understanding; I don't have time to research the numbers, but they're available. It might be interesting to look at the "wedges" from this growth, combined with some of your conservation ideas, such as earlier "lights out" in the evenings, and see what you can come up with.

The right side of the graph is cut off. Changing the type size doesn't work this time. Can I see it without going to the pdf version?

Oh my GAWD! Like, that site is sooooo Teenalicious!!

Honestly, it works though. You click on the thingie on the upper right to download the file and it's a regular old .pdf

I have a very soft spot for the ol' Olduvai theory, I've read tons'n'tons of books about Edison, Farnsworth, Tesla, etc and they were major players in the beginning of Modern, electricity-based, civilization. From Tesla's family raising their own meat and his mom raising flax to "ret", spin, weave, and make their clothes, to the Edisons' biggest moneymaking scheme while Tom was a kid being a tower on their farm that once in a while someone would pay a nickel to climb up and look around, to Farnsworth getting his idea of raster scanning from the way you plow a field with a mule...... I've never thought about this but, in the lives of these heroes you can see what made 'em heroes in the lights of our Modern beliefs. They came from an agrarian, non-electric, background, and in the sudden huge cascade of incoming energy, due to the discovery and utilization of oil, were able to make huge changes, to figure out ways to make no Modern person comfortable without electricity surrounding them and in wattages no old landline telegraph operator could imagine.

So it's not hard for me to imagine the reverse happening, the unraveling. That, and, well, we've had Bosnia, the ex-USSR, we've got Africa, etc showing us how it will be done.

There was a big gas price jump in my boondocks northern CA area from late last week to today. Was $2.699 for regular. Today $2.799. Interesting.

Hmmm... I just filled up this morning for $2.17/gal (NH). That's quite a disparity!

A fellow Humboldter?


No, I'n north of Laytonville in Mendocino County. But, knowing your usual gas prices I can see why you thought I was up your way.


Hello TODers,

I was musing on Indonesia, which according to the CIA Factbook: has approx. 250 million people, almost entirely Muslims, who now are net importers of oil, probably soon to be net importers of natgas too.

Then if one considers all the recent problems from the Boxing Day tsunami, the mud volcano in Sidoarjo, the recent flooding in Jakarta and elsewhere, ferries routinely sinking, plane & train crashes, increasing electrical blackouts, landslides & earthquakes, and so on... how soon before they join the Zimbabwe Syndrome? Has this country reached its Detritus Apogee and its downhill from here? How effectively will their biosolar powerup sustain them? Will their leaders choose Peakoil Outreach to their struggling masses?

Landslides and floods kill hundreds across Indonesia each year, and the capital is not immune. But the floods this time around have been the worst in recent memory, residents said, washing indiscriminately into poor districts, middle-class housing estates, hospitals, schools and shops. (Latest death toll)

Electricity and power supplies to much of the city remained cut off on Wednesday.

Major floods last occurred in 2002 in the city, much of which is below sea level.

Environmentalists blame rivers clogged with rubbish, rampant construction of shopping malls on park land that should serve as a water catchment area and deforestation of hills to the south of the city.

So potentially could Jakarta be worse than New Orleans? It appears that way if one considers this next link:

Part of the problem is that some 40 percent of the city’s land area is already below sea level as it sprawls across more than 660 square kilometers of alluvial lowland on the north coast of West Java. With 13 rivers running through it and more than two meters of annual rainfall, there is rarely a year without floods.

I recommend reading this next link in its entirety:
Natural Disasters or Mass Murder?

Indonesia is profit-driven to the extreme. It is also one of the most corrupt nations on the face of the earth, and there seems to be no immediate profit to be made from implementing preventive measures. The moral collapse of the nation is reflected in the scale of values — corrupt, but rich, individuals command incomparably higher respect than those who are honest but poor.

I hope North American elites are not hoping to emulate Indonesia postPeak. Recall that Tiger Woods's mother is from nearby Thailand: Will Tiger remain a 'good sport' in the future and help financially convert golf courses into vegetable gardens to become a true "Peoples' Champion", or will he ruthlessly continue to become an elite "Masters' Champion"? His global recognition factor could have a tremendous effect on Peakoil Outreach if he becomes involved.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

zimbabwe and indonesia have more in common than just being third or fourth world countries... both are thoroughly corrupt. IMo you can pass peak intact - the us can imo reduce its oil consumption by 4%/a for decades, but not if hobbled by corruption.

The US does not belong in the "first world" if you look at a whole lot of stats, from life expectancy to social mobility to violent death rates to.... you name it.

And yes, the Empire is really corrupt, no matter what Fox tells you.

Electric co-op eyes 'gasified' generation fuel

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The Vermont Electric Cooperative is eyeing a new power source: a series of small, one-megawatt generators that rely on 'gasified' trash, sewage, wood chips and other fuels native to Vermont.

David Hallquist, CEO of the Johnson-based co-op, said it was working with a Quebec company that supplies large-scale gasification systems to scale down their product to the one-megawatt size.


Yesterday's Drumbeat had quite a subthread on organic vs FF farming. Below is a repost of a Jan. 24 posting that got no comments at that time. Could batshelters be the key to drastically raising organic yields?

Hello TODers,

In the recent natgas keythread: I posted again how we should be using natgas to stockpile fertilizer to help us bridge to relocalized permaculture. If this isn't done, I hope, at a minimum, we can go back to the future:

What would the reader think, if he were asked to invest in a gold mine from which all of the ore had been taken out, and, at the end of a year, it had all replaced itself? What would he think, if he had, attached to his mercantile establishment, a warehouse in which, as fast as the goods were removed for display and sale, they would replace themselves without the expenditure on his part of one grain of energy or one cent in money!
EDIT: to make link below activated


I was astounded by the amount harvested. Are there any TOD biologists that care to comment? A postPeak future with very little FF-pesticide will require lots of bats to keep the bugs at bay.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

In a heavy alternative future with solar/wind excess electricity off peak could be "wasted" into nitrogen fixation. Nitrate production was the original purpose of the TVA dams. Guano is great but I don't think it exists on the scale we need. Most Guano mines were taking hundreds if not thousand year build ups. Humanure would be a good source if you can work out the health issues in a feasible way. Isn't Millorganite human waste?

Hello Oilrig Medic,

Thxs for responding. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but what little I have read talks about bat guano as being a nearly ideal balanced fertilizer with all the trace minerals for optimum plant growth.

The bathouse in the included link was generating two tons of guano every year, but has a very small footprint [15 x 15?]. Multiply that by thousands of bathouses + livestock & chicken manure + humanure + terra-prieta bio-char = might equal a staggering amount of organic fertilizer for soil replenishment.

The manufacturing of building materials from cow manure maybe profitable in the short run, but I worry greatly on how it will affect long run soil & forest sustainability. Hopefully R-squared or Engineer Poet wil investigate. If we build enough bathouses---maybe this will be sufficient. Anyone familiar with bat reproduction birthrates?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I am guessing there is a diminishing return at somepoint. Bats need insects to feed and at some point (admittedly I have no idea) you are going to have too many bathouses per sq mile to have max populations. If we maximize all our waste streams industrial, agricultural, and the waste produced by each household and then recycle it we can make great strides toward sustainablity.

As for fertilizer I still think electric nitrogen fixation is a great option as is bioengineering super legumes (or making all crops nitrate fixers)


bats are good insectivores a brown bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes a hour.

The human head weighs 8 pounds.

you said you had no idea's on how much they eat. i gave you the amount, at least for brown bats.

A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes.

Is there any means to harness the energy involved? Is the source energy immediately renewable?

How fast would you deplete stored reserves?

Hello TrueKaiser,

Good point to remember when FF-pesticides are non-existent postPeak. I forget the bat-specie's name, but some cacti in AZ are only pollinated by these nectar-seeking bats--critical to our habitat. A few years ago some punk kids were caught in AZ shotgunning bats by the dozens--from memory, the judge imposed very harsh penalties.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

yea bats are interesting critter's.
but it's also interesting to note the typical burb is a landscape that favor's the mosquitoes, by removing the creatures that prey on them. like bats which are considered more of a pest.
it's like my mom and spiders. she absolutely hates them and no matter how many times i tell her that if you kill a spider your guaranteeing that the bugs the spider would eat a happier life. hint: she hates those bugs too.

personally i would not mind having a colony of bats nearby. it would mean i can go out on summer nights and have a much lower chance of getting bitten and catching some awful virus.

The limiting factor is probably the mosquito supply. Maybe we have to create more wetlands in conjunction with the bat-houses.

That article you linked to doesn't contain the actual plans to build the bat-house. It's like a long-winded sales brochure to promote the sale of the plans. Can you find us a copy?


Creating/restoring wetlands is Ok in the US where mosquito borne illness is not a problem but in the majority of the world wetlands were drained explicitly to protect the public.

I think while an interesting idea...this method of fertilizer is a novelty only. Bats however are excellent pest control. The guano should be considered a lagniappe not the primary goal.

Hello Oilrig Medic,

From the link below bat guano is currently fetching $5-9/lb, cheaper in larger qtys, more for high phosphorus guano. The bathouse in the link generated 2 tons/yearly =4000# x $5 = $20,000 yearly, with no effort--I wouldn't call that lagniappe--that is some serious $$$.


As mentioned before: I am no expert, but guano prices/values could skyrocket postPeak and if bathouses work--that is some very serious barter material. It is already a felony in many states to harm bats and their habitats. Might well be worth it to guard bat habitats with Earthmarines.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello Wehappyfew,

Thxs for responding. No plans, but I bet a biologist with bats in his belfry =) could figure out how to reproduce what was built in that photo so long ago, maybe even improve upon the design.

The Organization for Bat Conservation's bat houses are the best on the market because:

They have been scientifically tested for over 10 years
They have a greater than 80% occupancy rate
They are guaranteed to work
They are American made
Also this Google might help:


There may be very strict laws regarding bat habitats--they can be vectors for disease-- check it out before you spend any money.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

One place I know of to observe bats in the Silicon Valley area is on Page Mill road, drive up to where the Park and ride is, and just observe at dusk - they make no sound when they fly and are better fliers than birds.

Hello Young TODers,

Will you let your grandchildren be treated this way?


Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi Bob,

Well, "young" is relative...

We have right now some good ways (little time/money investment, complexity factor already in place) to help secure human rights. www.aiusa.org. It saves lives. This is not the only way; it does work, though. The more people who join in, the more success it enjoys.