DrumBeat: March 26, 2007

The lights are out all over oil-rich Nigeria

Nigeria is rich in oil but short of energy, and at night the lights are out and darkness reigns for most of the 140 million inhabitants.

Hundreds of small and medium-scale businesses are being strangled by an almost total lack of power in a country which is the sixth-biggest exporter of oil in the world.

Clean coal is all hot air

When it comes to clean coal, there is a gigantic elephant in the room. Although $500 million is a significant amount of money to spend on corporate welfare, it is a drop in the ocean compared with the higher costs of electricity generation that are involved in the use of clean coal technology, and the effects that these higher costs will have on consumer prices.

Al Gore and the Wedges Game

Whether they realize it or not, policymakers dealing with energy and climate issues are now deeply engaged in the wedges game. What is the wedges game? It is a useful way of thinking about how to replace energy technologies that produce greenhouse emissions with less-harmful alternatives.

Energy activists snipe at rivals

In what one industry representative calls a struggle for supremacy, advocates of various sources of alternative energy are beginning to point out the competition's warts.

Ethanol industry basks in big profits - But margins not expected to last

The ethanol industry last year posted the largest profit margins since the industry's infancy, fueled by factors including high gas prices, low corn prices and the elimination of the fuel additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE).

Is bioethanol a sustainable fuel or a threat to food for the poor?

Looked at globally, using data from the US-based Earth Policy Institute, the world's 800 million motorists will be competing for food with its 2 billion poorest people already struggling to stay alive.

Apparently, the maize required to fill the tank of a 4x4 vehicle with ethanol once would be enough to feed a person for a whole year.

Peak oil thriller hits German best-seller list - includes an interview with the author.

Ghana: Use energy efficiently

The two agencies say consumers would have to endure more of the ongoing load management programme to save the Akosombo Dam from total collapse.

...Under the new timetable electricity consumers will be denied power for 24 hours every four days instead of the current 12 hours off, after every 5 days.

Vietnam: Production brought to standstill due to power cuts

According to the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the consumption of electricity in the first month of the year increased by 17%, while the demand for electricity for 2007 is forecast to increase by 15% only. Thus, the actual electricity demand is much higher than expected.

South Africa: Petrol and diesel imports to surge

South Africa will import about 1.2 billion litres of diesel, petrol and other refined petroleum products this year to meet demand from motorists and industry that local refineries cannot satisfy.

The rising demand for fuel has raised concern about the capacity of ports to handle significantly larger volumes of refined product and the ability to move fuel inland.

Energy trading market planned to protect suppliers

The Yangtze River Delta is preparing to inaugurate a united energy trading market in an effort to safeguard its energy supply and enhance efficiency.

As if gold weren’t bad enough, now they have found oil

Ever since press reports indicated several years ago that commercial deposits of petroleum had been confirmed in Zanzibar off the shores of Pemba and surrounding areas, things have never been the same.

Iran’s chances are getting slimmer for controlling future energy markets

The troubles surrounding Iran is not ending. With mass reserves of gas and oil, the ambition to develop nuclear technology is leaving the Iranian industry handcuffed. While Iran is following the footsteps of North Korea, Russia is using the gas to build an energy empire.

UAE has the fifth largest natural gas reserves in the world

The UAE contains proven crude oil reserves of 97.8 billion barrels, or slightly less than 8% of the world total reserves. Abu Dhabi holds 94% of this amount, or about 92.2 billion barrels. Dubai contains an estimated 4.0 billion barrels, followed by Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, with 1.5 billion and 100 million barrels of oil, respectively.

Japan recognises India’s nuclear energy requirement

Japan “recognises” India’s quest for civilian nuclear energy cooperation and has promised to “proactively participate” in the discussions on the sensitive issue in the international fora.

Fighting for air: frontline of war on global warming

"We only see the sun for a few days each year," said Zhou Huocun, a doctor in the outlying village of Liucunzhen. "The colour of our village is black. It is so dirty that nobody airs their quilts outside any more so we are getting more parasites. I have seen a steady increase in respiratory diseases as the air quality gets worse and worse."

From Pipe Dream to Pipe Reality

China's thirst for oil is clear from the numbers. Although the country was self-sufficient in oil as late as 1993, unprecedented economic growth in recent years has drastically changed the situation. Since 1995, for example, China's gross domestic product has grown by 8 percent to 10 percent per year, while oil imports have increased by an average of 22 percent.

And the appetite continues to grow. According to a September 2005 report from China's Energy Research Institute, China's oil demand will top 11 million barrels per day by 2020. By the same year, China will have to be a net importer of almost 8 million barrels per day, versus about 4 million now. How will it make up the difference?

Saudi petrochemicals group eyes GE plastics

Saudi Basic , the largest public company in the Middle East, is lining up a bid for General Electric's plastics division in a deal that could be valued at up to $12bn (€9bn).

Carbon Trading: History Repeating Itself?

The Catholic Church was roundly criticized—and rightly so—for the practice of selling indulgences. Indeed, it spawned the Reformation. But even at its worst, this practice was never touted as a permission to commit sin, nor as a pardon of future sin. It would take the modern environmental movement to bring such commerce to the secular world. These new indulgences are called "carbon credits."

U.K.: Report recommends decentralising energy

Creating a network of local power stations would be far more efficient and lead to lower carbon emissions than building new nuclear power stations, according to a report commissioned by Greenpeace.

The changing nature of Russia's Gazprom

"Because gas is so tremendously important to the Russian economy, Gazprom has a tremendously important position, and I think President Vladimir Putin views it as too important a company for foreign or even private Russian interests to get control of."

Kurt Cobb: Environmental discourse and the paradox of the open society

Given the increasing weight of the evidence on such issues as global warming, energy depletion, industrial agriculture, fisheries destruction, and water supply and quality, the natural course for an open society would be to discuss ways to minimize the risks of possible adverse developments. Instead, with the emerging exception of global warming, the discussion continues to be whether any of these concerns rate as real problems. This discussion, of course, isn't taking place in a vacuum. Vast sums are being spent on public relations by large corporate interests in an effort to convince the powerful and the not-so-powerful that the problems we face are either not problems at all or at worst, are easily managed by the very corporations complicit in creating them.

You can't have it your way

We keep arguing over potential solutions to the problems we've caused in our world. Invariably, we look to science for those solutions, believing that there is a perfect solution there if only science could find it. In fact, there is an excellent solution, but it's one that we can't ever believe because it says something that contradicts everything our national ethos tells us to believe.

The solution is to change our behavior.

'Green' revival with echoes of the '70s

In Halfmoon, the sign over the front door of Town Hall still reads "Solar Town, USA."

But the futuristic monicker town officials inaugurated when they built a new Town Hall in 1978 that featured state-of-the-art solar technology never got hot.

Take my junk mail, but leave the toilet paper

Oil prices hit 2007 highs on Iran tensions

World oil prices struck the highest points so far in 2007, nearing 64 dollars a barrel in London on Monday as the market fretted over rising tensions in major crude producer Iran, traders said.

In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude May delivery rose 52 cents to 63.70 dollars a barrel in electronic deals. It had earlier struck 63.97 dollars -- the highest point since December 6.

OPEC Dictates Higher Prices, Scarcity as Crude Rises

Saudi Arabia is shipping less oil to customers. OPEC by February reduced daily output by 1 million barrels. Global inventories this year fell the most in a decade.

Bush, automakers to talk flex-fuel cars

President Bush is getting at look at U.S. automakers' latest advances in alternative fuel vehicles as the companies press the case that ethanol and biodiesel blends can help reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil.

Why Hybrid Cars Aren't Selling Well

I would suggest that Americans aren't all that "green" despite the endless print and broadcast media harangues that our wonderful lifestyles are to blame for everything from hurricanes to frizzy hair. Those who have tried to be green have found that there are considerable additional costs involved and this has proven particularly true of hybrid cars that include batteries to permit electricity to partially replace the use of gasoline.

Jérôme Guillet: The View from the Peak

So what can be said about peak oil today? Richard Heinberg and Leonardo Maugeri provide some solid answers - and radically different conclusions.

Clean fuel's internal combustion

Imagine legislators in Washington being driven around in steam-powered cars, indicting heavy polluting car companies, holding federal hearings on reducing carbon emissions, and introducing legislation to ban the internal combustion engine within 10 years. Sound like an optimistic future? Try 35 years ago.

APPLE leader inspires others to help planet

A Nevada City woman transformed her life by trading in her SUV for a motorcycle, replacing all the lightbulbs in her house with energy-efficient bulbs, taking in a roommate, cutting down on meat consumption and saying goodbye to her cell phone.

Report queries nuclear role in beating global warming

The surge in political popularity of nuclear power as a quick-fix, zero-carbon solution to global warming is misguided and potentially highly dangerous, a group of academics and scientists said on Monday.

In its report "Secure energy, civil nuclear power, security and global warming", the Oxford Research Group said there was not enough uranium available and nuclear nations would therefore tend to opt for reprocessing spent fuel to obtain plutonium.

Palm Oil & Deforestation: Truth or Fiction?

First, the BBC sent a film crew to film the so–called deforestation and habitat loss of the Orang Utans. Then the NGO’s added their voices to the irrational chorus of calls for consumers to avoid palm oil products as they had allegedly come from unsustainable sources. The Friends of the Earth, a UK NGO alleges that “the palm oil industry is now considered by scientists as the biggest threat to the Orang Utan”! Scientists? Which scientists? The pseudo-scientists from the verbose sounding “Center for Science in the Public Interest”?

Japan's Energy Wisdom: Green and growing

AN ISLAND nation with no domestic oil supply, Japan offers a glimpse into the world's energy future, when oil reserves decline to unsustainable levels and alternatives are the only alternative. Unlike the vast and swaggering United States, Japan has confronted the reality of limited oil, especially in its energy conservation efforts. According to the International Energy Agency, Japan's energy consumption as a percentage of gross domestic product is the lowest in the world.

Tesla Motors claims it's taken 350 deposits for their Lotus Elise-based, lithium ion-propelled, $92k Roadster. Despite this success, Tesla's hyper-exotic may be nothing more than hype-fuelled vaporware. The company refuses to allow any independent product evaluation. Even before they've delivered a single Roadster, they're promising two additional, mass market electric vehicles– whose enabling technology is, at best, under-developed. Meanwhile, they've raised $60m in venture capital and scored $20m in state subsidies a new New Mexican factory. To find out if the Tesla Roadster is keeping it real for planet Earth, or DeLorean/Tucker redux, we sent our man Shoemaker to Tesla for a "test drive."

... the Roadster houses 6831 lithium ion cells. The battery pack weighs 900 pounds and costs $20k to replace (try not to misplace it Bond). Tesla rates the four pole electric motor at 248 horsepower. It can be charged in six hours (if your home has 30 - 40 Amps of power) or as little as three hours (if you’re rigged with 90 Amps). Although the Roadster’s maximum range is 250 miles, the company says spirited driving will yield “substantially less.”

Before we share Shoemaker’s “driving” impressions, keep in mind that all these numbers reflect Tesla's ambitions, not demonstrable reality. Again, no independent organization has evaluated any aspect of the Roadster's performance or construction. While Tesla Motors is happy admitting their Roadster's range could be “substantially less” than advertised, anyone thinking about buying a Roadster should consider those words carefully. Would you purchase a sports car that can only drive 90 miles between 12 hour recharges?

Tesla admirers/intenders also note: our man was not allowed behind the wheel. Indeed, all Tesla’s media coverage has been carefully supervised and controlled. While "you can't touch this" restrictions are not unknown in an industry that produces million dollar plus prototypes, there are plenty of electric car companies happy to let responsible journos do what responsible journos are supposed to do.


Good job of quoting others. Do you have any original thoughts about what you quoted?

tom deplume is a good contributor - I assume you're just a troll ripping off his clever name. Time for todban.


Thanks for the update on Tesla. I think you quoted the high points regardless of the suspect troll's comment.

IIRC, this company was the result of a split between 2 guys who had a partnership. It's still on ongoing story and well worth keeping an eye on. The limited comments I read underscores the bugs that will have to be worked out, like the LiIon battery choice.

I am unable to understand the message that you are trying to convey with your write-up.

Is there a larger warning buried in the message ?

Not at all - go ahead and put down your deposit :-)

Hmm . . . Well, Tesla himself was the Father of Vaporware. I had no idea before that article that they weren't already cranking those cars out and that no one was even allowed to drive the prototype.

If any one out there is keeping track, one of the most bizarre vaporware car stories was the Dale.

Can't comment on these cars yet, but I'd say Tesla's 120v60hz is some firmware that's worn pretty well, and the math underlying its 3-phase generation was done in his head, so the story goes. I'd say the stuff he 'supposedly' invented has been pretty well justified by the things he actually accomplished.

-First Radio controlled boat, central park, 190?
-Fluorescent Lighting

etc, etc.

"Father of Vaporware" was so outlandish to me that I held back from posting. I don't own any of the many books written about Tesla and it's been decades since I've done the kind of reading required to addequately refute the label.

I would be surprised if a large portion of this particular board's readership was well informed of Tesla's contributions. Most here seem to have a high degree of formal education in the sciences, which I certainly don't. That can create a tunnel vision.

Your points are just the obvious contributions of his career. The non-obvious is what was taken by the Yugoslav authorities after the FBI took what they wanted.

Caps, your link takes me to some website where math geeks argue about curves all day.

He probably meant to post this:

I see that Wikipedia has a whole category for them, with several hundred entries.

The problem will solve itself.

But not in a nice way.

The most recent post from the Tesla Motors blog seems to contradict most of that article.

Excerpt from Tesla Roadster Progress - From EP to VP:

So, it’s one VP [Validation Prototype] built and nine others on their way. Why would we want nine more? Yup, you’ve guessed. Four of them get the pleasure of a short life – they are sacrificed for the final validation crash testing. It is necessary to confirm that none of the detail-level changes has invalidated the crash performance we achieved with the EPs [Engineering Prototypes]. Crash testing is always in the spotlight but there are numerous FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) that also need to be tested and reported. These include low speed bumper impacts, lighting, demist/defog, and field of view from mirrors. Even the powered windows need to meet FMVSS requirements.

Durability testing of the Tesla Roadster must also be repeated, since we need to ensure that the latest iteration of parts that are destined for production meet our stringent life expectancy requirements. Then there is the dynamic tuning of the many vehicle systems to be finalized.

I don't see the contradiction. TTAC said Tesla has no cars available for them to review, and the Tesla blog says:

These VPs will also be used for “first drive” reviews by major car magazines and other members of the media.

Tesla has built one "validation prototype" and must build several more before journalists have something to drive and review. That is way behind where I thought they were from reading Green Car Congress blurbs.

Hmmmmm.......... Donal, Thanks for the post. There is a very similar car called the TZero that operates and looks about the same. It has well documented acceleration and range, about the same as the Tesla, I believe. It is not vapor, although there are no plans to put it into production that I have heard of. You can go to their official web site at: http://www.acpropulsion.com/tzero/ The Tzero has raced and beaten supercars, so Tesla can do the same. As with any cutting-edge product, they will have their problems. I hope it isn't vapor.


The Tzero defines vaporware. It's expected to go into production in 2002, according to their site. They've been pushing it for a solid decade, since '97. Their next car is expected to begin volume production in 2005.

It's 2007 and they JUST managed a standard EV hack of a scion Xb, and sold it to Tom Hanks.

This shit isn't rocket science. Ask the many amateurs that have built EVs on a shoestring budget. It's all about getting things into volume production, in a nice package, at a cheap price. Materials science produces the breakthroughs, a car only benefits anyone when it actually uses said breakthroughs in a commercially successful package.

AC Propulsion only built a few tzeros, and has no plans to sell them.  Straight from your own link:

The tzero is not for sale. It is a concept & development vehicle to demonstrate that cars could be both fast and efficient. AC Propulsion built three prototype tzeros, and considered selling tzeros to the public, but production plans were dropped in mid-2003. All three tzeros still run and continue to delight those who drive them. Beyond those lucky few, the tzero exerts its influence through new electric vehicles whose creation it has inspired.

Those vehicles include the Tesla roadster and the E3 Enigma.

The article says the Tesla is vaporware, has not been independently tested, and has not proven safety, range, reliability, battery life or build quality. The article asserts the battery is unsafe. It says the Tesla should be considered nothing more than a toy.

However, those assertions appear to be incorrect.

The Tesla prototype has undergone independent Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) durability testing, including 1-hour pavé, 25,000-mile durability, and environmental heating and chilling.

The journalist passenger confirmed that the car's acceleration seemed to match claimed specs.

The battery system has multiple redundant and passive safety cutouts that prevent ignition-type failures. The company claims the car meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This of course cannot be independently verified until a production model is available for crash testing. In fact, the Tesla's program of crash testing is the strongest argument that the vehicle is not a toy.

Tesla has always been clear and open about its development schedule. Notwithstanding any impressions you may have gotten from the media, the company is meeting the milestones it promised to investors and first-round customers.

To be precise, TTAC said Tesla *may be* vaporware, and that *until* it is independently reviewed, the Tesla should be considered another concept car or a *fabulous* toy.

Given the track record of EVs, I think those are reasonable cautions.

In any case, after a long exchange of comments between TTAC and a Tesla VP, and many others, they've edited out the v-word and lightened the cautionary tone - a bit. If you're a fan of the EV, I'd strongly recommend reading these comments.

New home sales: Slowest in 6 years

Sales of new homes sank to the slowest pace in more than six years in February, as the government's latest reading of the strength of the battered real estate market showed more pricing weakness and a growing glut of homes on the market.

Also, I notice that the WSJ is expecting Citigroup to announce 15,000 layoffs. This is the kind of thing I would expect if housing problems are spreading to banks. Arguably, these cuts reflect other problems, but housing can't be helping the total picture.

Citigroup Likely to Propose Cuts of 15,000 Jobs
Revamp Plan May Call For Charge of $1 Billion; High Stakes for Prince

Citigroup Inc. executives are putting the finishing touches on a restructuring plan that is likely to involve around 15,000 job cuts and a charge against earnings of more than $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The stakes are high for Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince, who announced a cost-cutting review of operations late last year and has billed the outcome as critical to rejuvenating the world's largest financial-services company. Mr. Prince is facing mounting pressure from both inside and outside the company to reduce Citigroup's expenses -- which are rising at a faster rate than revenue -- to deliver better financial results, and to drive up the company's stagnant stock price.

Finally, a story pops up about Wells Fargo, the largest US subprime lender. But it doesn't reveal much yet. The company is so big and smart that so far it succeeds in hiding its losses.

Wells Fargo Subprime Loans Won’t Torpedo Bank

Overall mortgage losses are rising at Wells, while the yield on its portfolio of retained mortgages is well over 7 percent -- 2 percentage points higher than at Bank of America and a level only achievable by high exposure to subprime mortgages, Bove said.

The bank manages its risks so well, however, that other factors probably will offset subprime losses. For example, Bove said, the bank has established large reserves to offset the losses its loan-servicing business suffers when homeowners refinance, paying off their old loans.

Now that home prices have leveled off and lending standards have tightened, there will be far fewer refinances, so Wells can release a flood of these reserves to cancel the damage from subprime.

At the same time, Bove and other analysts say it is hard to get a full picture of Wells’ exposure to the mortgage meltdown.

The company buries details about its exposure to subprime losses amid overall lending statistics, making it hard to compare it with other big subprime lenders, said Frederick Cannon, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

“Wells Fargo’s disclosures are extremely limited,” Cannon said.

As an example, he said Wells doesn’t disclose how much interest it retains in loans that are turned into mortgage securities.

Check out Implode-O-Meter site.

We're up to 44. When I first starting following this page back in January it was 30something. It started in Dec. with 26. It jumped to the 40's in the last couple weeks.

They cover them all. Scroll down the page and see the lastest stories on these companies, Including Fremont.

Like this one.
2007-03-21: Fremont General Finds Subprime Buyer ("Fremont General said it has already received approximately $950 million in cash as part of the first installment with more coming in the next several weeks")


A good site.
Here are a couple more with daily updates about the lending/Credit contraction/fraud. These guys Know
their stuff.



Banknorth to cut 400 jobs, shut or consolidate 24 branches

I don't know if this is at all related. I found it interesting that the bank called it a "restructuring", just as CitiGroup does.

cfm in Gray, ME

re: "Palm Oil & Deforestation": moo


The Southland's hidden Third World slums

Like most of their neighbors in the sprawling, ramshackle Oasis Mobile Home Park, the Aguilars have no heat, no hot water. On cold nights, the family of eight stays warm by bundling up in layers of sweaters and sleeps packed together in two tiny rooms.

Bathing is a luxury that requires using valuable propane to boil gallons of water. So the farmworker clan spends a lot of time dirty.

Jose Aguilar, a wiry 9-year-old, has found a way around the bath problem. He just waits until dinner. "My mom makes frijoles," he said, "then I take a bath in that water."

Jose and his family live in a world few ever see, a vast poverty born in hundreds of trailer parks strung like a shabby necklace across the eastern Coachella Valley.

Out here — just a few miles from world-class golf resorts, private hunting clubs and polo fields — half-naked children toddle barefoot through mud and filth while packs of feral dogs prowl piles of garbage nearby.

Thick smoke from mountains of burning trash drifts through broken windows. People — sometimes 30 or more — are crammed into trailers with no heat, no air-conditioning, undrinkable water, flickering power and plumbing that breaks down for weeks or months at a time.

"I was speechless," said Haider Quintero, a Colombian training for the priesthood who recently visited the parks as part of his studies. "I never expected to see this in America."

Riverside County officials say there are between 100 and 200 illegal trailer parks in the valley, but the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition says the number could be as high as 500.

California will lead the USA into the post peak oil abyss. It is an energy island according to Matt Simmons. It is under attack from the south by Vandal hordes. It's leadership fiddles, concentrating on Media events and concocting arcane and irrelevant theories such as EROEI. Few leading Californians have a clue what to do except tighten environmental regulations that have the effect of worsening the situation. If a leader like Vinod Koshla suggests something, he is ridiculed and dismissed as a loony. Meanwhile evil Barbarian Midwesterners, drunk on ethanol, press on disregarding California wisdom. The trickle of oil from Alaska gets smaller each year and has to be divided with other western states. Oil from Texas has a hard time getting further west that New Mexico and Las Vegas for sure. The economy built on a housing bubble is imploding with one sub-prime lender biting the dust after another. Soon even the prime lenders will feel the thud. Jobs are exported en mass to China and all that returns is quickly purchased with funny money spewing from the Fed spigot. American made cars are held in contempt as the better built Japanese dominate the market. Welcome to the Post Peak Oil America. California is showing us the way again.

I think I will continue on as a Barbarian Midwestern drinking ethanol. Actually a SoutherRedNeck drunk on shine(white likker).

Are you telling me that California has it right? Or wrong?
Weren't u guys into the DOTCOM runup and subsquent bust? Then sleeping under the freeways in cardboard boxes?

What will you all do for water then?

Good rant though nonetheless.


This story should lead to either of two rational outcomes (IMO):

(1) Enforce existing Nation-state border control laws


(2) Repeal the laws (may require a constitutional rewrite), dismantle border controls and dismantle the welfare state.

If only part of (2) is done, i.e., part 1 which is a repeal, the nation state will be bankrupt (even more than some of you currently keep reminding us of)

Which will it be?!

Whenever I see "family of eight" in stories like this, steam begins to shoot out of my ears.

Six was probably the most she could blip out by the age of 24.

The problem will solve itself.

But not in a nice way.

Like most of their neighbors in the sprawling, ramshackle Oasis Mobile Home Park, the Aguilars have no heat, no hot water. On cold nights, the family of eight stays warm by bundling up in layers of sweaters and sleeps packed together in two tiny rooms.

No Carbon Emissions! Al Gore would be proud! I smell a business opportunity. I'll just get their names and sign them up to resell some indulgences carbon credits they've generated by living in a sustainable manner without carbon emissions.

How about five major threads each week, one regularly each week day, say
One on oil supply/stocks, maybe on wed after stocks report.
One on ng, maybe thur after storage report.
One on ethanol
one on solar/wind
one on nukes

I am happy with the news, however Leanan chooses to give it to us. It is nice to get it when it happens, as opposed to a week later. And not everything fits into your categories - climate change, fresh water supply, coal to liquid activity, localization of electric supply, for example. I consider the posts that don't fit into your categories as important as the ones in the categories you list.

No Way! Leanan has the pulse of The Oil Drum. Her intuition tells her what to post and has never let her down. To try to catagorize it would be like endorsing the chosen catagories over others. Ethanol makes me see red. If I had to see an ethanol post every day I might just go insane. Others on The Oil Drum might feel the same about other catagories. Let Leanan do her job.

"Ethanol makes me see red"

Be sure to let me know when you find us a liquid fuel alternative to gasoline that can be produced in relatively commerical volumes from domestic resources within a 10-year timeframe.

Let it go. I would rather be able to eat, than lop a dollar a gallon off my $7.00 a gallon gasoline. Already food and livestock feed prices are skyrocketing because of this Ethanol Initiative. Yes, those that can afford it can continue to drive while the poor in this country begin to die of starvation. As regards to food, Demand Destruction = Starvation. Malnutrition among a major portion of the population(Yes, the poor make up the majority of the population) will lead to Pandemic, and even the wealthy will be susceptible to disease. People will not lie down in the streets to die. The Russian Revolution and the French Revolution are prime examples of what happens when the ruling class decides their needs outweight the needs of the masses for food.

"Ethanol makes me see red"
Be sure to let me know when you find us a liquid fuel alternative to gasoline that can be produced in relatively commerical volumes from domestic resources within a 10-year timeframe.

It doesn't make me see red, it makes me sad. To me it's the right answer to the wrong question.

If the ethanol solution is to the this question;
"What fuel can we switch to Keep our cars running"

Then, I think I was right.
The paradigm is the problem. The rate of change is too slow.
I agree with the Hirsh report and it's timeframes. We're at zero hour, and we're behind 20 years from where we should be.

I think a major part of the ethynol problem we are discussing is that it requires removing every single bit of water.

The distillation process to remove the all water drives up the production cost from the extra "heat" to boil the mash to remove water. There is though a material used like little balls whic are able to soak up the last bit of water, that even stills can't take out.

To remove the water from the material it can be heated or placed outside in the sun to dry out, and be reused over and over. All because the engines of today and the fuel injectors require this. Note they talk about it will take until 2010 or some number to tell you how long it will take to make cars that run on E-85. Talk about BS. Your car today most likely could run on E-85. Whats needed, nothing more than resetting the computer in your cars engine to account for the higher octane from the ethyl, as the fuel is "sniffed", and timing is adjusted before it goes to the injectors.

On Carbs you can replace the airjets with a larger size (or if your good perhaps bore/hone them out. Then manually adjust the timing forward to adjust for the higher octane. Some chalk and old "timing light".

Also if you have a manual choke on the carb you could use it instead of replacing the jets on the carb. You use the choke to add (adjust) the little extra air flow needed. Think about this for a gas generator. YOu could run straight low octane, not as energy intensive to make (compared to the highly intensive made ethyl for E-85) in your genny.

That and replacing rubber parts that carry/interact with fuel with metal or other because the ethynol is corrosive. This reprograming on many cars can be done with the chipsets in the car. In some cases a pull and replace and a new software set and your good to go. All the info about cars and chipsets etc I think is on the site listed too. Its been a while since I went thru it. I have a 93 dodge steath. I can't get a chipset or re do the chipset. WHy, because Mitsubishi will not release the code for the car so people can reprogram. Of course I can take probably a 50 50 mix with the preset "sniffer" on that car. It wants High octane... baby.

Its the need for speed and passing power that is the culprit. Guilty as charged.

However just by making good ol high octane moonshine I think to around 85 or 90 proof you can run this in a "carburated" engine.
For the home farmer etc this site may be helpful.


The person running it passed away a couple years ago. His daughter still sells the diagrams and plans for el cheap. He did quite a bit of research. NOTE he makes his fuel which is from a "FIRE" by using scrap lumber he finds, or in my case when I build mine, plenty of trees and fallen limbs around. This brought his cost per gallon way down. He also has the info on how to make E 85 fuel, the name of the material that is used to absorb that last bit of water, and much more in all the links. Not that expensive or hard to build. The major cost is for the thermostat, which is a must.

You do have to have a BATF license, but unless its changed its not that hard because of an old law from the Carter days( I think).

I wonder what the energy numbers would look like if you ran off a proof like is made with this still that they ran cars and trucks on for years. How the less energy and manpower if we switched back to a carbed engines. How all the trade-off would work out. One thing for sure. If you need to make something move and make your own fuel, this has to be an option I think.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Distillation is the small problem.  You missed the most important part of the ethanol problem:  we can't grow enough biomass to make enough of it to replace petroleum-based motor fuels.

Ethanol might be able to go 20%.  We'll use electrons for the remaining 80%.


No, I am well aware of the processes and cost to run an economy on. The idea of continuing a growth economy based on any of the named resource suspects that could replace oil,.. fallacy IMO.

My post was for people that can, could for personal need in fuel shortage and or high cost make a reasonable amount to run farm engines or gennys (generators) to make electricity on a as needed basis. Ethanol as long as its keep sealed and not exposed to air will not go bad is what I understand. This is way different than gasoline and its go bad time frame without additives. Notice this still is designed to run on "free" energy in the form of found wood supply. Bio mass, well at some point it may become hard to find. Or the farm has to grow some sort of stock. I don't agree with all the web page claims. I see where making 95 percent pure ethyl to use is less energy intensive than making 100 percent pure. Using the material that will soak up the extra 3 percent of water still has costs for the material, and the energy to take the soaked up water back out. Solar would work but is not time reliable.

The website states that it would take the same amount of energy to remove that last 3 percent of water that it took to make the first batch. I wonder what techniques the ethanol large scale use to remove that last 3 percent and how much extra that costs, and what technique they use.

How much less energy would be needed if they made only 95 proof, how would that effect the ratio, just curious. It might prove a little better, but again you couldn't run an economy on it, it would be an "as needed" resource on a small scale, not a throw away like gasoline is considered.

The market changes on cost, but the feed stock that can be used is the same that is used to feed many farm animals. Its corn based, but I refer you to different corn types, and crops, and growth costs for its price. Whole different subject. Feed stock can be gathered food scraps, this still is not designed to make drinking alcohol,,Its pure enough to run a combustible motor, not to make beverages, as outlined on the web site.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

My post was for people that can, could for personal need in fuel shortage and or high cost make a reasonable amount to run farm engines or gennys (generators) to make electricity on a as needed basis.

All well and good, but for emergency use it would probably be simpler to come up with wood chips for a gasogene than a bunch of feedstock for ethanol.

Trying to keep a fuel which is only for emergencies is problematic; how often do you check your supplies of canned food, bottled water and flashlight batteries?  The systems used for emergencies only are also likely to deteriorate from neglect.  We'd be better off having a system where we use a small amount of something, but regularly so that both the system and its supplies are always ready.

If the emergency generator is part of your plug-in hybrid vehicle, you're practically guaranteed to have it ready at all times!  If it burns denatured alcohol (esp. 95% ethanol), you're right:  you've got a fuel supply which will last as long as the containers don't leak, and you even have some potential for making it at home.

I looked at that process. Found a web page that showed a conversion of a tractor back in the 40's I recall. Because of the war and fuel they adapted a tractor that would start on gas, but switch over to the wood system which was attached to the tractor. It worked, Though you need a lot of wood chips, and the key word I see is "chips" gotta make those chips somehow.

The above still makes perfect 95 proof very easily using a variety of feed stocks. Why would I want a hybrid and that expense when I could buy a carbed VW bug and run it off the ethyl on the infrequent but necessary trips. I;m not going to hack wood all day to stoke the belly of the beast wood gasohol engine, though they do work and the conversions are not that difficult. Australian couple had a web page with info on their truck they converted and used to travel around the outback. Looked like ma and pa kettle with their rig.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

That's a little misleading EP.

You know that I know that ethanol can't replace all petroleum fuels in the amounts used today.

However, both of us know, that ethanol could easily replace more than 20% of petroleum based motor fuels.

But that's not the crux of the issue which in the greater context of Peak Oil is again... petroleum input reduction.

Who says we need a liquid fuel alternative?

Within 10 years, every light-duty vehicle (and a lot of the rest) produced in the industrialized world should be a PHEV or even an EV.  Instead of substituting one liquid for another at 15% tank-to-wheels efficiency, we'll use electrons at 75% wall-to-wheels.

Please tell me you're not serious.

Long distance driving in North America is now and will be for some considerable amount of time... dependent on liquid fuels. End of story. And I'm not just saying that to be trite.

I advocate conservation, I advocate rail electrification and I advocate BPHEVs as you know, however, sans prioritization as a national endeavor, the real world -strangely enough- tends to interfere.

Please tell me you're not serious.

Serious as a heart attack.

Long distance driving in North America is now and will be for some considerable amount of time... dependent on liquid fuels.

Long-distance driving is a relative small fraction of the total.  Eliminating the use of liquid fuel for short trips can reduce consumption way out of proportion to the maximum range of the vehicle.  Quick charging helps too; if any stop is an opportunity to run the next 20-50 miles on electricity, so much the better.

"Layperson question of the day"

How is synthetic motor oil made and how does the molecular structure differ (if it does) from conventional motor oil?

"Synthetic Oil" isn't man-made. It's Tar Sands, or other heavy crude. Either way, it's still oil that is pumped out of the ground, or scooped out. Fossil fuel.

Fooled ya, didn't they?? Me too, for a while there...

I have no idea why it should be "better" than "regular oil". I put the cheapest oil I could find into my Saturn and drove it for 190,000 miles. The engine was still just fine.

I was not implying synthetic oil came from non-fossil fuel sources, just asking if it differed in any way. I had always heard it came from natural gas processing. As far as better performance, I have used it for about 10 years in the same vehicle, 125k, runs like a top. I follow drag racing and as far as I know they all use synthetic, must be a performance or equipment longevity advantage.

Sorry, your question "How is synthetic oil MADE" gave me the impression that you didn't think it is still fossil fuels. Unfortunately, it seems that the general public thinks "synthetic oil" is somehow manufactured without fossil fuels, mixing chemicals in a lab or something. More than once I've pointed out to someone that there is a problem looming with oil supplies, and the immediate response is "Well what about synthetic oil?". When I explain it's still a fossil fuel that comes out of the ground I'm met with stunned disbelief.

The product of the tar pits in Alberta is bitumen. It is upgraded into refinery-ready synthetic oil by adding hydrogen or rejecting carbon. On this website, click on "learn more about our production process...", for an animated representation of Snycrude's method: http://www.syncrude.ca/users/folder.asp

You are not wrong to think synthetic oil is 'made'.

Thanks for this link.

Why are these corporate presentations always so tacky?

SS, instead of giving this bunch of twaddle, why din't you send him to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_oil?

Tar sands is not crude oil, it is tar - it requires hydrogenation to make it oily, thus becoming synthetic crude oil.

Synthetic motor oil is a better [ie., more refined] version of regular motor oil that performs better at lubrication. It is probably intended for racing engines and generally not necessary for regular usage. It is not necessarily made from synthetic crude oil

Thanks, that's what I assume he ment-what that synthetic motor oil they started selling 10-15 years ago is made out of. With all the hype (and price) I assumed it was totally man made.

Kudos for Leanan catching and posting the Boston Globe's editorial Japan's Energy Wisdom: Green and Growing

Most remarkable is the closing paragraph in which Peak Oil is acknowledged as "already behind us"!!!

The full quote is: "With peak oil production already behind us and global warming an urgent reality, oil consumption is getting costlier all the time."

This is the first time I am aware of that such a large metropolitan newspaper (i.e. MSM) in the US has made such a matter of fact statement. (BTW, the Boston Globe is owned by the NYTimes.)

Of course this bold acknowledgment is slipped in an editorial couched in a tone of reassurance, if we would only do as the Japanese do, then it will all be fine -- we too can be "Green and Growing".

Unfortunately, I don't readily expect that we can attain, as the editorial writer hopes, "the common consciousness of energy conservation in Japan - a country where commuters form a silent queue on subway platforms and no one jaywalks".

Huh? Silent subway queues and no jay walking in America? Forgetaboutit!

I might just as well hope the editors of the Boston Globe think to place more emphasis on this reality in their pages than the latest doings of Anna Nicole or the Red Sox.

And the odds of that happening are...

great catch

With peak oil production already behind us and global warming an urgent reality, oil consumption is getting costlier all the time. Sooner or later, we are all Japan.

Never seen that in a major newspaper.

The Japan article in the Boston Globe is even more significant than it appears at first.

The author of the piece is Renée Loth, Editor of the Globe Editorial Page -- an influential position. What is more, she is a vice-president of the New York Times Company.

Energy Bulletin

I think she may actually mean that the US has peaked, not the world. I assume she wouldn't refer to a global peak in such a matter-of-fact way.

Let me pop your bubble - that article is a fluff piece, at best.

Unlike the vast and swaggering United States, Japan has confronted the reality of limited oil, especially in its energy conservation efforts.

Hah! So that must be the reason so few homes here use any insulation, and why double pane windows are rarer than lunar eclipses, and why lights are left on 24/7 (nominally to scare away criminals), and why an estimated up to 50% (that is right, HALF) of all prepared food gets dumped into the garbage.

According to the International Energy Agency, Japan's energy consumption as a percentage of gross domestic product is the lowest in the world.

That measurement, of GDP vs energy use, is fraught with problems, not the least of which is that GDP numbers are engineered to be what they are. Totally overlooked in the above quote is the assigned value to the produced products - in this case in Japan the specialty is high value manufactured goods (the cheap things are made in China). Furthermore, the manipulated value of "services" is difficult to pin down. Additionally, Japan does what the US does - send the cheap labor requirements to China, along with the requirement for a great deal of energy.

The national expression of concern for the earth dovetails nicely with the traditional Japanese reverence for nature (Shintoism sees gods in every mountain, rock, and tree),

So, this editor of the Boston Globe clearly hasn't done much research about Japan. If she would venture to look into a few Japanese homes she would see an abundance of Brazilian hardwards adorning floors and walls. In Japan proper there are almost no natively existing lowlands or wetlands - they were all paved over or plowed up years ago.

However, Japan has managed to drive down energy use dramatically without sacrificing the comforts of an affluent society. The per capita consumption of energy in Japan is nearly half that in the United States, but the per capita incomes are roughly the same.

The reason Japanese use half the energy per capita compared to the US is because (1) they live much much much more closely together, and (2) most Japanese live in very moderate climates and what little cold there exists is appealing to them. No deserts, no great continental icy interiors, etc.

Its office towers and shopping malls teem with innovation and commerce. Its continued prowess in innovation and design keeps the Japanese well-stocked in consumer gadgets: cellphones with GPS maps, high-tech toys, the peculiarly appealing new electric toilet.

Gag me on Chamber of Commerce drivel... truth is those type of gadgets consume very little energy (and btw most were NOT invented in Japan.) Energy is used principally for transportion, heavy industry (steel, cement, etc.), and in addition oil is a basic compenent for material (e.g., plastics and a billion other things.) Keeping your butt warm while you sit on the throne playing with your Nintendo consumes little energy.

How do they do it? Partly, the Japanese have invented their way out of energy abuse. Hybrid cars from Toyota and Honda are just the most obvious examples.

Of which I don't see on the roads here. In my (very average) neighborhood I see everything from oversized SUVs that can't fit down streets to box vans too small for the average American to sit in comfortably, but no hybrids - sorry.

The "How do they do it?" in truth - the Japanese living arrangements are so tightly packed, and so poorly built, that Americans, and btw Canadians, Australians, and Europeans too, would find them unacceptable. There is no mystery here folks - if you are willing to live in a 200 square foot apartment all your life then you too will use a lot less energy than what is currently be consumed per capita in the US.

I could go on but I'm probably beyond the patience of most readers - just let me say that that article is one of the least insightful, most contrived and just downright misleading pieces of fiction I have seen about Japan coming from a major US paper.

Let me restate the non-magical, non-secret, non-brain-surgery reasons why Japan uses less energy/capita than the US:
1) Japanese live closer together, and closer to their work, as a result of the much higher population density.
2) Japanese live in housing that no one else in the Westernized world would accept.

Let me also say that for any given occupational/societal stratus, the Japanese equivalent lives a far less luxurious lifestyle than his American counterpart.

What is furthermore so tragic about that Boston Globe piece is that it is 180 degrees out of phase with the truth. Namely, that the Japanese are failing in finding solutions to there import problem. The national energy strategy is based upon finding new sources (countries) from which to import, but that is failing (China is out manuevering them - e.g., see Hu in Russia again this week.) The other plank of the strategy is increased Nuclear production, but there is a continual stream of issues raised on the problems that industry faces here, the latest being the lack of disclosure of some documents.

The future of Japan's energy requirements will be saved by one thing: the drastic population drop that has just started. The birthrate has been so low and declining for so long that current births are supportive of a steady state population on the order of 80 million, not the current 127 million.

P.S. The national energy strategy does mention Peak Oil, but it defers to the official IEA estimate and does not mention it having happened already.


There are many ways in which the Japanese outshine the rest of world when it comes to energy efficiency.

I will point out just a few.

1) You have a kotatsu.
2) You dry your clothes on a rack.
3) You drive a minika - that is IF you drive at all.
4) Your lights are fluorescent.
5) You don't have a conventional oven.

The Japanese drive like madmen. If they see the light is about to turn green they blow through the red light. The US is different. In the US they blow through if it only just turned red. In China they don't care about lights or signs. :)

This reminds me of my travel experiences in India in 1991, from which I devised a set of rules. For amusement they are as follows -

Travel Rules of India:
1) Avoid traveling here at all.
2) If you must, expect the worst and allow plenty of time getting nowhere to get anywhere.
3) Traveling by jet is worse than going by train which is worse than going by bus which is worse than going by taxi which is worse than going by rickshaw which is safer then any of the above but won't get you anywhere.
4) Three people in line at any ticket counter constitutes an unruly mob, and as a simple foreigner you are completely disadvantaged at getting out of the non-existent line and joining the mob.
5) All travel agents and ticket clerks are petty tyrants who wish you would go away but not with their help.
6) Nothing departs on time, runs on time, or arrives on time.
7) If in India, stay where you are, unless already enroute somewhere, which means you are stuck elsewhere or in a mob someplace you'd rather not be.
8) Get out as soon as you can by rickshaw.
9) If all else fails, pray to be reincarnated as a cow, which move about freely everywhere.


Truthfully, I loved my time and experiences while traveling in India, even tho it was exhusting. I also imagine an Indian could write a similar set for traveling here in the US now a daze, what with all our over-wrought faux security measures just to get on an airplane, never mind that practically the only other way to get around here is while driving solo in a Hummer/SUV (and talking on the phone), or monster sized tricked out trucks with loose trash flying out of the empty cargo bed. What a hoot we are!

uh, that's nice, but I at least wasn't the least be interested in the reality of the picture of Japan. I was impressed that an editorial writer with some clout thinks peak oil is already behind us.

However, many of the bubble poppings that you administer plainly admit of different interpretations.

Americans may have to accept much smaller living spaces in the future... what they would accept now, and what they will accept in the future are two very different things.

Let me venture to guess that with 200 square foot apartments, you are already saving so much energy that double panes and other things provide little added advantage.

The basic equation of using energy for production instead of home consumption is also indicative of where the U.S. may have to go in the future.

I'm not saying Japan is wonderful... I'm suggesting that it has long been living in a more energy constrained reality than the U.S., and we should do so well as it has done when supply declines drastically. Japan is useful (in some areas) as a lens into how to cope with adversity, not as an example of utopia.

Please don't misconstrue my rant as saying that the American lifestyle can or should continue.

Rather, as you point out, the US (and Canada and other countries) will have to conform to a more humble lifestyle, probably one more in line with the (average, not flamboyant stereotype) Japanese. I agree with you that Japan is a useful example of how to deal with limitations.

Indeed, my ranting is partially due to my frustration with seeing how my own country refuses to own up to the truth - that instead of building decent high density urban areas serviced by rail (and interconnected by rail) most Americans are ignoring the real problem and thus the path to a real solution.

I wish, truly wish, that the US would adopt some (just a little bit) of Japanese philosophy when it comes to living.

The big disappointment to me about that Boston Globe article is that the writer truly misleads the audience (on why Japan consumes less energy per capita than the US) and thus does not offer the true solution (to what the US has to do about dwindling oil supplies.)

BTW, my quite average (actually much newer than average) Japanese apartment has one large sliding window to the balcony, and I would love to have double pane glass in it! Likewise my steel (uninsulated) door is a great conductor of heat out of the apartment!

Back in the US I lived in a ranch-style house on a 10,000ft^2 lot commuting ~20 miles (one way) on freeway. Here I live in a newer efficiency apartment and take the trains. Of course my energy consumption has gone way down! But I did it by saying goodbye to the American lifestyle of overbundance and saying hello to the (average) Japanese lifestyle of constrained space, not by any magical technologies.

I know how you feel. At first glance Japan seems so much better than the US. Small cars, no central heating, efficient lighting etc etc

But reality is Japan is hugely wasteful. Remember Japan is 2nd and 3rd in terms of oil importation and oil usage.

I've come to the conclusion that modern life is unsustainable without plentiful/cheap fossil fuels. Even if the entire industrialized world lived the Japanese lifestyle.

I too use a small fraction of energy compared to when I lived in the US. But that's mostly because I live in an unheated shoebox and pack in cheek to jowl everyday on the train.

(There's no point in heating my apartment for just the reasons you stated. I can feel the freaking wind blow throw my walls in the winter, and my apartment is neither cheap nor old!)

Our Electric Car Search

This isn't directly on topic, but at least it doesn't hijack a thread with a specific theme.


So my wife and I have been wanting to replace our one car, a 2000 Subaru Outback (with completely unneeded gas sucking AWD) with an electric car.

I already bike to work, and she drives less than 25 miles / day.

I know "they" killed the electric car, but you can still buy something that works can't you?

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have the luxury of thinking of an electric car as a "hydroelectric" car, to a significant degree.... but lest we be too smug about that, we could think of it as a "salmon burner" as those dams are deathtraps for the fish.

Anyway I decided to go fishing for a Pacific Northwest (or anywhere else) electric car dealer.

Here's my Google search for an electric car that I can buy today.







http://www.mcev.biz/vehicles/streetlegal/streetlegal1.html (30 miles/day! But only at 25 mph!)

The vehicle needs to have a back seat for two children.

What you see here is that while you can buy a vehicle right now, they all seem to be limited to a 25 mph top speed (with about a 30 mile daily range.)

Now I think a 40 or even 35 mph speed would be OK for around town... but 25 mph doesn't seem like it quite cuts it.

Is there anything out there that will manage bursting to 40 mph and 30 miles in a day? (We probably only need 20 miles a day... but you know.)

A practical around town electric doesn't have to be freeway capable, but it does have to be able to get out on a major city street without too much worry.

Anyone have pointers on this?

Do kit car conversions do any better?

Do you own an electric car?

Instead of Electric, how about compressed air? In the metro free newspaper in London today was published a piece about a car that runs on compressed air.


Sounds too good to be true? Probably is (will probably leak air all the time).

I've been following Aircar and its engine technology for a while... it's a fascinating idea.


But it sounds like it is perpetually in search of a manufacturer. The press is good, but what story really lies behind their inability to find an investor? http://www.theaircar.com/investors.html

Don't know if you are joking about "leaking air", but I haven't heard anything about that as a problem.

Questions of behavior of compressed air tanks in crashes, and the actual recharge times, are interesting, but surely can be resolved.

I love the fact that the cool air produced by expansion is used for air conditioning.... directly (or only indirectly?) running the piston exhaust through the passenger compartment to make people comfortable. Sweet.

The claimed range and speed are everything I'd need for 99% of trips, even without the gasoline hybrid option.

Well... you might want to look at a Golf TDI. By my calculations your wife would need to visit the fuel pump 2.2 times a year. That's not a lot of guilt. Mine works fine and with the rear seats down, I can haul stuff. And... they are fun to drive. Make me think of the old BMW 2002's from way back when.

Golf TDI is one of the best cars ever made--with an aftermarket chip it outperforms most cars on the road and still gets a measured 50 mpg consistently.

Pardon, what do you mean by "with an aftermarket chip..."?

In layman's terms, it's the programmable chip that goes into the car's computer and controls fuel flow and ignition.

Chip is produced by Upsolute (Austria) and boosts torque and horsepower by 30% over a stock tdi and actually improves mpg.

Then why in the world isn't it included as stock?

Probably emissions.

Electro Automotive

"Electric Car Conversions Since 1979"
They convert just about anything. Lots of photos of their conversions. Looks like do-your-own instruction books too.


Samantha Brown (of the Travel Channel) rented an EV when she reviewed the Mark Hopkins hotel in SF on "Great Hotels" - I thought they were all destroyed by GM except for a few in museums.

The Electric Auto Association has a list of manufacturers: http://www.eaaev.org/eaalinks.html

The Electric Car Guide at EV World is another resource: http://www.evworld.com/evguide.cfm

Your best bet for cost effectiveness, if you can do your own labor, is going to be a conversion kit. They cost around $10,000. Performance and range vary. One manufacturer says a compact car with lead acid batteries can go 55-60 mph and can have a range of 60-80 miles between charges.

Have you considered an electric bike? They're a lot cheaper, and are available from many manufacturers with standard warranties and a wide variety of options.

The low-speed vehicles you listed are potentially capable of going faster, but they're speed-limited by law in order to bypass crash testing and other federal and state requirements. Also, they're usually limited by law to streets with a 35 mph speed limit or less.

Does that mean we could tinker with them and get more speed? I'll bet local cops wouldn't recognize they were going faster than rated or that they don't belong on faster streets.

I followed the first link that you provided and went on to the following page:


If you scroll down to the last two or three paragraphs they have a roadster in development (production?, marketted?..) that seems to have a high top speed of 120 kmph (75 mph) and a range of 200 km (125 miles). Excerpt reproduced below:

About the REVA-NXG
REVA-NXG is unique in that it has advanced capabilities in terms of speed and range. It is a two-seater roadster with an extended range of 200 kilometres per charge and a speed of 120 kilometres per hour. The car is powered by a high performance 37 kW AC induction motor that drives the front wheels, and uses Sodium Nickel Chloride batteries in lieu of conventional lead acid batteries for extended life. ‘REVA-NXG’s’ 4-wheel independent suspension with integrated regenerative and hydraulic braking system provides excellent handling and braking.

The car is fitted with a “wireless tablet”, an embedded appliance made by Encore Software that integrates into a high-resolution single touch-screen display system all vehicle dashboard functions such as Speed, State-of-Charge, Range and critical sensor inputs as well as personal communication tools such as GPS-based in-vehicle navigation, a GPRS Modem for internet and e-mail, and MP3 music.

Some more digging on that web-site:

These are production cars. They mention and I know that in London owning one gets you out of parking and congestion charges etc. There are no such material advantages in the States of course.

Some interesting info from the FAQ link

3. What is the seating capacity of the REVA?
REVA is a two-door hatchback, which can comfortably accommodate two adults and two minors.

4. What are the colours available?
REVA is available in over 2000 exciting colours to suit your personality and style. This is in addition to our standard production colours - Cherry Red, Blue Envy, Passion Yellow, Silver Arrow and Midnight Black.

5. How economical is the REVA?
The REVA uses 9 units of electricity for a single full charge that gives up to * 80 KM in city driving conditions. This works out to 40 paise per km (less than 1 US cent). The average running cost of a petrol car is Rs.4.0 per km.

Since the REVA does not have an engine, clutch or gears, or a carburetor, radiator, exhaust etc, the maintenance cost is low. Estimates show that the maintenance costs of REVA are 40 % lower than that of a small car over a 3-year ownership period.

REVA is the cheapest commercially produced electric car in the world.

6. How far can REVA go on one single charge?
REVA can go up to *80-KM on a single charge depending on usage. There is a battery level indicator light, which comes on when there is 15 KM of charge remaining. Subsequently, the onboard computer automatically shifts the car into an " E " or economy mode, which enhances your driving range by another 5 KM.

REVA’s charging system is extremely simple, very reliable and safe. It has an on- board charger along with a charge cable and can be charged anywhere, at home or at work, by simply plugging in to a 230 Volt, 15-Ampere socket. A full charge a attained in 8 hours and 80% charge in 2 and a half hours.

7. What kind of batteries are used in the REVA? What is their life span?
A total of eight 6-volt tubular lead acid batteries specially developed for EV`s form REVA's power pack. The battery pack has a typical life of 2-3 years depending upon usage.

And the image shows two rather cute kids sitting somewhat exposed to a rear-end collision with a big SUV


It's bad enough with people driving and talking on cell phones. Sending e-mail and posting to blogs would be over the top.

Take a look at the Zap Xebra.

It seats four and avoids the 25 mph limit on NEV's by being officially classed as a three-wheeled motorcycle. (Allegedly it goes 45 mph and has a range of 40 miles, though Xebra drivers find the range could be as little as half that in cold weather.) For more info, check out the fairly thriving Yahoo Xebra group.

I don't own one. At $10k, it's pricey for what it is, but it wouldn't have to be much less for it to be a viable short-hop car, at least in our family.



I want the 1974 Fiat EV - $3900:

"RANGE WITH NEW BATTERIES: 60 miles freeway, 75 City"
"TOP SPEED: 75 mph"

Still in mild shock Maria Bartiromo on CNBC was just discussing the direction of oil prices with a couple of analysts. After the analyst making the case for higher prices finished Maria concluded that with oil production peaking around the world that she wasn't expecting lower prices either. (paraphrased) Maybe Matt Simmons got her attention and she has come over to the dark side!

Was this today? You're not talking about her interview with Simmons last week are you?

Today during her show I figured she was picking up on the Simmons interview with her comments

Did she actually say the P-word?

You mean "Pene oil" as in "we're screwed?"

Way to go Maria. What a Babe.

If Matt looked like Maria probably 10X as many Americans would be aware of peak oil. It's a video culture.

Hi BrianT,

Actually...I'm not so sure about this. (WMs still count in some circles.)(wups...and I don't even understand sarcasm, did I just use it?) Anyway, my guess is the people Matt is speaking to may not have any ideas of how to proceed.

(Do we?)

There's a problem w. video though, namely...does the content even matter?

My question is: Okay, so let's assume this works- (because I just deleted a rather long paragraph on how it could be done, but cut to chase) - now they "know". They know what you know. Now what?

Mexico's Pemex Cantarell Production Down At 1.57M B/D In Feb

March 26, 2007 5:39 p.m.

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Crude oil output at Mexico's Cantarell oil field slipped in February to 1.57 million barrels a day from 1.59 million barrels in January, according to data released Monday by the Energy Ministry.

Declining production at Cantarell, which just more than a year ago was producing around 2 million barrels a day of heavy crude, has pressured output at state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

Pemex produced 3.15 million barrels a day of crude oil in February, up from 3.14 million in January but below the 3.31 million barrels a day produced in February 2006.

While Cantarell output continued to slip, other offshore fields in the Campeche Sound produced more, with overall output for the region rising to 2.06 million barrels a day from 2.05 million in January.

Production at the Ku-Maloob-Zaap oil fields recently reached 500,000 barrels a day, and Pemex expects daily output there to reach 800,000 barrels by 2009.

Company officials have estimated that Cantarell production will average 1.53 million barrels a day this year, down from 1.79 million barrels in 2006.

Good news!

There's no need for improved CAFE standards

"This makes a big difference," Wagoner said. "There's nothing that can be done that can reduce the curb of growth of imported oil, and actually turn it down, like using E85."
Bush has sought higher fuel efficiency standards for cars; Wagoner said they spent "very little time" talking about gas mileage standards beyond the president's support for reforming the way standards are applied for passenger cars.

only for those wanting to be slaves on his ethanol plantations. :P

"As a group, we've agreed to double our production by the year 2010, and then have 50 percent of our production E85-capable by the year 2012. This makes a big difference, and there's nothing that can be done which can reduce the curve of growth in imported oil and actually turn it down like using E85, taking advantage of what's there today."

"... actually turn it [the oil curve] down [by 2012]" from George W. Bush transcript here.

Was it just me hearing things or did our Oil-Provider in Chief declare 2012 as the year of Peak Oil imports?

re carbon credits as 'indulgences'

The linked article reinforces what BHP and Duke Energy exec Paul Anderson says about carbon trade being scammed. We need a simple criterion that says whether a claimed offset is valid. I think the test should be that the net rate of CO2 emissions should always be zero or negative. The cut has to be now not in the future maybe. Thus

biofuels are OK since yields would be unsustainable without equivalent CO2 absorption

tree planting for guilt-free travel is not OK unless the carefully monitored tree is replaced when it gets old and releases GHGs

investment in wind and solar is not OK since it doesn't displace the fuel burn that needed the credit in the first place

Let's hope that new carbon schemes such as that proposed for California don't fail because of easily exploited loopholes.

Reading "Clean fuel's internal combustion" was a deja vu experience.

I remember things like the Lear Steamer and Stirling-engine cars touted on glossy magazine covers and in the pages of Scientific American.  And I know exactly what killed these things:  the Energy Crisis.

Steam did not have the thermal efficiency of the Otto-cycle engines of the day.  They'd be even further behind now.  When oil got expensive and relatively scarce, it revealed an Inconvenient Truth:  the notion of sacrificing efficiency to reduce pollution was not realistic.

So we got catalytic converters and closed-loop mixture control instead.  The LA smog still got cleaned up.  Life went on.

Now we've got a problem where we don't just need to maintain efficiency, we need to increase it radically.  The internal combustion engine needs to go, to be replaced by prime movers of much greater efficiency rather than less.  This is another opportunity to slash pollution, of several kinds.

Strangely, people seem resistant to this historical lesson.

From the article "Why hybrid cars aren't selling well"

"Since 1990 alone, the petroleum industry has invested more than $20 billion in exploration and production activity in Africa. A further $50 billion will be spent between now and the end of the decade, the largest investment in the continent's history--and around one-third of it will come from the United States."

Sounds to me: "Houston, we have a problem". But they make it sound like all is a-ok.

Further, the webside has an unflattering picture of Al Gore saying something nasty about his weight.

My point is: I think I have had enough with this kind or reporting.

I didn't read the article since it had such a silly title.

Just try shopping for a hybrid car — you have to order one, and get on a waiting list for six months. That's about as well as anything sells, short of some recreational drugs...

The problem will solve itself.

But not in a nice way.

I thought about replying to that author but it was clear that it was not an advocacy piece, not a serious discussion of the topic.

Hybrid sales follow gas prices. As gas prices dropped below $3.00 then hybrid sales have fallen off. It is something of a misnomer to classify all hybrids in one category. The Prius and Insight are truly designed to get good gas mileage. Most of the others use hybrid technology to obtain more power at equivalent mileage or to reduce emissions. It makes sense that customers would not want to buy a hybrid like that if it didn't return a substantial return on investment.

In the SF Bay Area I can easily see ten or twenty Priuses just while driving around within a few miles of my home in a single day. When I travel around the country on business I rarely see a Prius. Up and down the east coast I'll see one or two Priuses a week.

On the west coast you can rent a Prius at most major air ports (Fox or EV Rental).

I'm looking forward to the next major revision of the Prius (expected in 08 or 09). I hope it will offer a plugin option.