DrumBeat: February 27, 2008

Another Peek at the Plateau

Deutsche Bank’s oil team is jumping into the swirling peak-oil debate, arguing that steep decline rates in existing oil fields will make it all but impossible for producers to break beyond a 100 million-barrel-a-day ceiling.

Their analysis puts the bank, long a big player in the oil patch, among a growing chorus who see the world hitting a production plateau of 100 million barrels a day within seven or eight years. The world is now consuming around 87 million barrels a day, but most institutional forecasts say that demand will top 100 million barrels a day by 2015.

The bank says that supply constraints could push the price of oil to $150 a barrel by 2010. The big question will be whether prices at that level will finally lead to a sharp break in demand, something that $100-a-barrel oil has yet to do.

Deutsche Bank bases its supply-side gloom on how much harder it is for oil producers to make up the difference for slumping production in aging fields. For the last 36 years the world has managed to add, on average, around 4.2 million barrels a day to annual supplies. But with a conservative 5% decline rate in existing fields, that figure will have to rise to over 7 million barrels a day to get to 100 million barrels a day—a level “that has never been achieved,” according to the report.

Hungarian PM criticised over gas deal with Russia

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany came under fire Wednesday from both allies and the opposition for what they described as the secretive way in which he struck a recent gas pipeline deal with Russia.

Looking back 10 years - Campbell's "The End of Cheap Oil"

From ASPO-USA’s perspective, the article entitled “The End of Cheap Oil,” published 10 years ago in the March issue of Scientific American magazine, marked a turning point in the discourse about peak oil—at least in the US. While a few books and a lot of articles had featured peak oil prior to that article, none had the circulation or prestige that the Sci-Am article carried with it—again, at least in the U.S. No, the world didn’t wake up to peak oil over night after the article was published, but it generated more interest than any document written during the previous two decades. It paved the way for the slew of books on peak oil that followed. It appears to have galvanized activists to action. We asked authors Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere to revisit and reflect on their article these 10 years later. Here are Colin’s brief thoughts; Jean’s will be printed next week.

Oil Binge Spikes Price

Phil Flynn, an analyst with Alaron Trading, said today's hike is madness. "This is just the latest evidence of commodities on fire," he said. "It seems to be going beyond supply and demand." Flynn attributed the oil hike to general price inflation across commodities, but the major driver was how the U.S. dollar has been hammered.

Flynn said another fundamental factor not being discussed is the cold winter weather. "Global warming has really let us down. Not just in the U.S., but in places like China, India and Siberia that are very cold and use more heating fuel," he said. He and his colleagues are concerned that the extreme cold in China has lead to a mis-allocation of coal and a general shortage. Many factories are using diesel generators because they can't get coal. Diesel fuel is being used up and is increasing oil demand temporarily.

Food and the spectre of Malthus

February has been the month for revisiting old and unpleasant economic concepts. Last week, financial markets experienced that 1970s feeling, as a combination of rising inflation and unemployment in the US triggered unwelcome memories of the decade of stagflation that ended the postwar golden age and the Keynesian consensus. Then came this week’s report that the United Nations’ world food programme might have to ration food aid. Set against a backdrop of rising food prices worldwide – global food prices have now risen by more than 75 per cent since their lows of 2000, jumping more than 20 per cent in 2007 alone – the news revived fears from a much earlier era, conjuring up the Reverend Thomas Malthus.

South African Inflation Unexpectedly Quickens to 8.8%

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa's inflation rate unexpectedly rose in January, reaching its highest in almost five years and keeping pressure on the central bank to leave interest rates at a four-year high.

...Inflation may accelerate after the government raised gasoline costs by 2.3 percent in February and plans to increase fuel levies and other taxes on alcohol and cigarettes in March.

Current food shortage result of high demand

For the past 30 years, new technologies and freer trade combined to make food almost continuously cheaper. The price of wheat, for example, dropped by more than 80 per cent between 1973 and 2000, factoring in overall inflation.

In the last year, however, creeping rises became a surge. The real cost of wheat is now more than double what it was a few years ago. For rich nations this means spending more on food, for those countries less well off the rising price of food can be measured in lives and disease as well as political instability.

Sierra Leone: Fish Shortage Rocks Freetown Markets

Ramatu Bangura said she bought a carton of bonga fish for Le 8,000 last year but now, its price has increased to Le 33,000 "and I have to make profit," she said adding that she has been having problems with her customers because of the increment in price.

On what could have been responsible for the price increase and afterward, shortage in the commodity, Bangura said they observed that fishermen are paying high taxes and that the increase in the price of fuel also contributed to the shooting up of fish price.

China aluminium output seen cut 600,000 tns by snow

HONG KONG, Feb 27 (Reuters) - China's recent snowstorms and power outages may reduce primary aluminium output by about 600,000 tonnes this year, equal to 5 precent of the country's 2007 output, industry officials said on Wednesday.

Reduced output in China, the world's top producer of aluminium, coupled with long-term power supply problems in Southern Africa, have driven world aluminium prices above $3,000 a tonne for the first time since May 2006, when prices hit a record of $3,310.

Worry about the S-word: Stagflation is more likely to bite than recession

The latest U.S. inflation numbers and the expectation of another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve Board make "stagflation" — not recession — the real challenge facing the U.S. economy.

The focus on recession by many economists and by the media has distracted us from the serious medium-term risk of U.S. stagflation, which combines strong inflationary pressures with stagnant economic growth — as happened during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Australia: Paying dearly for our needs

While drought and strong global demand for grains and dairy have pushed food prices up in Australia, the worldwide rise is being fed by a surge in biofuels, economic growth in developing countries (which has led to an increased demand for grain-fed protein) and urban encroachment on food-producing land.

The most contentious development among these is the rise in biofuels, and the use of food for fuel has attracted widespread criticism. Global biofuel production doubled between 2000 and 2007, from 21.8 billion litres in 2000 to 72.7 billion in 2007. The US has a target of 163.6billion litres of biofuel by 2022.

Democrats seek to boost taxes on oil companies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats in Congress are relying on record oil prices and a surge in gasoline costs to make another attempt at imposing $18 billion in new taxes on the largest oil companies.

Airlines plummet on oil

Airline stocks plummeted Wednesday as oil prices touched new highs and American Airlines flight attendants' election of an aggressive leader indicated the carrier may be in for tough contract negotiations.

...Fuel and labor represent the industry's highest costs, with oil prices pushing carriers toward consolidation, but the challenges of labor integration are holding up such deals.

French port union warns of possible strike in March

PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - France's port and dock union, part of the CGT federation, on Wednesday said it would call a 48-hour strike unless the public port authorities agreed to start negotiations soon.

... Staff at Marseille's Port Autonome (PAM), which houses the 115,000 barrels-per-day Fos-Lavera oil hub, have held several strikes in the last couple of years, causing disruption to refining and other port activities.

An 18-day strike at the terminal last year threatened to shut down some refineries and cause a fuel shortage in southeastern France.

East Coast propels Canadian energy output to record high

OTTAWA - A 21 per cent surge in output from East Coast offshore producers and increased oilsands volumes drove Canadian oil and natural gas production to a record high in 2007, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Alaska fiscal woes give oil firms the upper hand

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska is driving a hard bargain with the oil majors that dominate its energy sector but the state is negotiating from a position of weakness as falling oil production will soon begin to bite into its revenue.

Ecuador hopes to secure new oil deals by March 8

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador is progressing in talks to increase control over foreign oil contracts and expects to secure a deal by a March 8 deadline, Oil Minister Galo Chiriboga told Reuters on Wednesday.

Experts call for sharp cut to CO2 emissions

Scientists at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology say carbon emissions should be slashed to one ton per capita annually to help combat global warming.

They said achieving this ambitious goal – Swiss levels currently stand at nine tons per capita of carbon dioxide – would involve the three Es: increased efficiency, renewable energy and electricity.

What we can do now

SOME parts of tackling climate change will be expensive. Some will be cheap. One goal of policy should be to bring on the cheap bits, so we have time to tackle the bits that will cost us.

Mexico's Cantarell oil output slides further

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Crude oil output from Mexico's huge but aging Cantarell offshore field fell again to 1.243 million barrels per day in January, the lowest average monthly output level in several years, the energy ministry reported on Tuesday.

Cantarell, the jewel of Mexico's oil industry since the late 1970s, for years had produced 60 percent of Mexico's oil, but production has slid rapidly from its 2004 peaks.

China Told not to 'Invest in Darfur Blood'

A senior presidential assistant in Sudan warned a visiting Chinese official against investing "in Darfur blood."

Minni Minnawi spoke to Liu Guijin, the Chinese envoy to Africa, about Beijing's influence with the government in Khartoum in resolving the ongoing crisis in Darfur, the Sudan Tribune said Wednesday.

BP chairman meets with Mexican president

LONDON (Reuters) - The chairman of BP Plc (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is in Mexico for an "important" meeting with President Felipe Calderon as the country considers opening up to foreign investment in its oil sector, BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward said on Wednesday.

Oil Market Eyes Nigeria Unrest After Election Result Upheld

Anxiety over security of Nigerian oil supplies will hold prices near $100 a barrel for days to come, market participants said Tuesday.

News Tuesday that the Nigeria Elections Tribunal upheld President Umara Yar'Adua's 2007 election victory is expected to provoke further unrest in the country, Africa's largest exporter of crude and the source of around 7% of total U.S crude imports.

Dropping Gulf dollar peg would ease inflation: Greenspan

JEDDAH/ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Monday near-record Gulf Arab inflation would fall "significantly" were the oil producers to drop their dollar pegs, in contradiction to Saudi policy.

The pegs restrict the Gulf's ability to fight inflation by forcing them to shadow U.S. monetary policy at a time when the Fed is cutting rates to ward off recession and Gulf economies are surging on a near five-fold jump in oil prices since 2002.

Oil and gas profits go both ways

Earlier this month, Exxon-Mobil once again announced record profits. These record profits, $40.7 billion to be exact, have been labeled “outlandish,” “unjustifiable,” “appalling” and “ruthless” by many in Congress. They believe that such profits gouge the American consumer and are consequently immoral.

Yet what many people do not realize is that record profits result in record tax collection. Exxon-Mobil will pay close to $30 billion in taxes for its success. Unfortunately, not one of my Democratic colleagues has called upon Congress to give American taxpayers back the federal government’s share of Exxon’s “immoral” profits.

LNG harmful energy choice, group says

In a full-frontal attack on the dozen liquefied natural gas terminals proposed along the coast of California and Oregon, a Bay Area environmental group says the purported "clean energy" is as bad as coal and will harm the state's much-vaunted push to cut greenhouse gases in the coming decades.

The authors of the report — "Collision Course: How Imported Liquefied Natural Gas Will Undermine Clean Energy in California" — said Tuesday that importing the superchilled fuel is too costly, will cause too much pollution and ultimately, they say, the fuel is unnecessary.

Maine senators announce heating assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released $40 million in emergency LIHEAP funding to 11 states including an additional $3.8 million for Maine.

Pakistan: Govt asked to restore LPG import parity price

KARACHI: The government must revert to the policy of linking the price of locally-produced liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) with its import parity rates to stabilise supplies in the market and stop erratic price fluctuations, an industry official said.

A cap on the producer price of a deficit fuel that is deregulated at the retail end has discouraged imports and encouraged black-marketing, said Abbas Bilgrami, Managing Director of Progas, the company that operates the only LPG import terminal in the country.

Raymond J. Learsy: Food is Becoming The New Oil, OPEC Shows The Way as Grain Prices Reach New Heights

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. As the world's governments acquiesce to the outrage of OPEC's collusion to manipulate the price of oil another storm is looming in the near distance. Grain prices are lurching forward. Wheat prices have reached new records and soybeans (including soybean oil and soybean meal) and corn
are not far behind. The UN is warning on the impact of rising food prices cautioning many nations may not be able to cope. Argentina, Russia and Kazakhstan have imposed restrictions on grain exports

Are We Really Facing Stagflation?

Stagflation implies that incomes will fall and jobs will be lost at the same time as prices increase. This is a double-whammy effect that was last experienced throughout the 1970s. Global recessions followed. Central banks have since changed their attitudes to monetary policy, realising that inflation cannot be allowed to run away at the expense of economic growth management. The challenge for central banks today is ensure inflation does not run away as the world deals with trying to ease the downward pressure on the global economy in the face of the credit crunch. But there is faith being placed in the expectation slowing economies will naturally affect a fall in inflation eventually. While stagflation may appear to be upon us right now, it may yet prove a short-term phenomenon. At least that's what central banks are hoping.

Shoppers warned bigger bills on way

When William Lapp, of US-based consultancy Advanced Economic Solutions, took the podium at the annual US Department of Agriculture conference, the sentiment was already bullish for agricultural commodities boosted by demand from the biofuels industry and emerging countries.

He added a twist – that rising agricultural raw material prices would translate this year into sharply higher food inflation.

“I hope you enjoy your meal,” Mr Lapp told delegates during a luncheon. “It is the cheapest one you are going to have at this forum for a while.”

EasyJet Faces `Pressure' From Oil Prices, CEO Says

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- EasyJet Plc, Europe's second-biggest low-cost airline, is under pressure from rising oil costs and is already buying contracts for jet fuel at "a much higher" price for next year, Chief Executive Officer Andy Harrison said.

"If oil prices remain at the current level, it's going to put enormous pressure on all airlines," Harrison said in an interview yesterday. "We are hedging now for next year, but it's at a much higher price."

A recipe for inflation

As the price of spring wheat soars on the American exchanges, the global phenomenon of 'agflation' appears to be intensifying.

Biofuel demand to push agri commodities prices higher

KUALA LUMPUR: Strong demand for biofuels will be the catalyst driving prices of agriculture commodities higher.

Singapore-based Frost & Sullivan director, global consulting Chris de Lavigne said the global supply tightness in oilseeds this year would take years to balance while the world market continued to look for ways to grow more crops, especially for bioethanol production.

China may hit energy use target for 1st time in 08

KUNMING (Reuters) - China could meet its own annual targets for energy efficiency for the first time this year, but will still have problems meeting its goals of reducing emissions, according to a state-backed think tank.

Gazprom creates new energy giant

Gazprom is joining forces with Russia's biggest coalminer to create a new energy giant, combining electricity generation and coal resources.

Firms submit interest in Manifa gas package

Twelve companies have expressed interest to Saudi Aramco for the gas processing package on the onshore portion of its 900,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) Manifa heavy oil field development.

Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, report warns

The destruction of Sumatra's natural forests is accelerating global climate change and pushing endangered species closer to extinction, a new report warned today.

Turkey offers oil pipe lifeline to India

Under the plan, oil transported through Turkey's extensive pipeline infrastructure from Central Asia to its Ceyhan port would be sent across the Mediterranean Sea by tanker to Israel's port of Ashkelon. There it would be fed into Israel's Ashkelon-Eilat 254-kilometer pipeline. From Eilat port, again by tanker, it would be sent through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea via the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea to India. Neither Israel nor the US have commented on the proposal.

The Turkish offer holds out the promise of a well-established route by which energy-hungry India could access Central Asian reserves, in contrast to less-practical alternatives.

Russia gas pact energizes Iran

While Washington, facing European Union discomfort and frank opposition from Russia and China, remains obsessed with another round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, the facts on the ground spell an overwhelming "expansion of mutual cooperation" in the energy sector between Iran and Russia.

Oil equipment underinsured by half

The Middle East needs to double its protection against the rapid escalation of oil equipment costs, experts said on Tuesday.

Shell Repairs Nigerian Bonny Crude Pipeline; Exports Remain Cut

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil company, completed repairs to a pipeline in Nigeria that forced it to cut exports of the benchmark Bonny light crude in February and March.

The Nembe creek pipeline has been repaired and Bonny crude is being produced, Shell spokesman Rainer Winzenried said in a telephone interview today. He declined to comment on the rate of Bonny production. Bonny exports are still cut, he said.

Nigerian Hostage Kidnapped In Oil Hub Freed, Source Says - AFP

LAGOS (AFP)--A Nigerian man kidnapped by gunmen Sunday in the country's oil capital Port Harcourt was freed Wednesday, a security source said.

He gave no details of the man's release but said that no ransom was paid.

India: Reliance, Essar Cut India LPG Supply in January, Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. and Essar Oil Ltd. cut liquefied petroleum gas supplies last month, causing a shortage of the cooking fuel in some Indian states, junior oil minister Dinsha Patel said.

State-owned marketing companies reported a shortfall due to reduced shipments, Patel said in written replies to questions in parliament yesterday. Reliance spokesman Paresh Chaudhry said India's most valuable company met its commitments.

BOOK REVIEW: Re-Inventing Collapse, The Soviet Example And American Prospects, By Dmitry Orlov

Opening the book with a "recipe" for collapse soup and noticing that the United States has combined all of the ingredients, Dmitry states that economic collapse, particularly in the throes of Peak Oil, is an enormous red flag signaling that the collapse of the American empire is underway. Additionally, he emphasizes that "when faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money." Physical resources and assets, as well as relationships and connections are worth their weight in gold and quickly become more valuable than cash.

Solutions to global problems start close to home

Stories about climate change, energy costs and a shaky economy are in the news more than ever. New climate studies find that the situation is far more serious than previously thought.

More countries are passing their peak of oil production. We see more clearly the emerging tip of the nation’s iceberg of economic make-believe. Effective responses to these challenges can be found close to home.

Building green in SF

Wind turbines and solar panels may soon sprout on San Francisco rooftops as the city considers rival plans to implement mandatory green design standards for new residential and commercial buildings.

Crude oil prices set record high 102.08 dollars per barrel

LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices rocketed Wednesday to a record high above 102 dollars, with speculative trade energised by the sliding US dollar and jitters before OPEC's crude production meeting next week, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, touched an historic 102.08 dollars per barrel in electronic deals.

Brent North Sea crude for April delivery struck an all-time peak at 100.53 dollars.

"Oil futures made new record highs (on Wednesday) as the market continues to benefit from the weakening dollar, however, the market has retreated since making fresh highs amid profit taking," said Sucden analyst Nimit Khamar.

Oil Hits a High; Some See $4 Gas by Spring

Gasoline prices, which for months lagged the big run-up in the price of oil, are suddenly rising quickly, with some experts fearing they could hit $4 a gallon by spring. Diesel is hitting new records daily and oil closed at an all-time high on Tuesday of $100.88 a barrel.

The increases could not come at a worse time for the economy. With growth slowing, high energy prices that were once easily absorbed by consumers are now more likely to act as a drag on household budgets, leaving people with less money to spend elsewhere. These costs could exacerbate the nation’s economic woes, piling a fresh energy shock on top of the turmoil in credit and housing.

Oil industry freed from grip of jailed 'master of arms'

The voice at the end of the crackling mobile phone line was that of a confident, well- educated man speaking in the clipped accent spoken by much of the elite in English-speaking Africa.

But Henry Okah, who this month was transferred to a detention centre in Nigeria from Angola, where he was arrested in September, was in fact the self-proclaimed leader of militants in Nigeria's turbulent oilproducing Delta region.

Despite having never been seen in public, he has held international oil markets to ransom over the past two years as the frontman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), which in 2006 claimed responsibility for cutting almost a quarter of Nigeria's oil output.

Answers sought in Fla. blackout

MIAMI — Energy experts are trying to figure out today why a small malfunction shut down a major nuclear power plant and knocked out electricity to one-sixth of Florida's population.

As many as 3 million people from Daytona Beach to the Keys lost power Tuesday when an equipment glitch at a transmission substation triggered the shutdown of two Turkey Point nuclear reactors and a natural gas power plant south of Miami.

Gasoline prices jump in California and nationwide

Even though U.S. gasoline inventories are the largest in 14 years, motorists are paying more at the pump as higher crude oil costs, which are near $100 a barrel, are passed on to drivers.

BP outlines turnaround, hints at green unit sale

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil giant BP Plc said it was "quietly" making progress in improving its lagging performance versus rivals and that this process should add billions to profits in coming years. "We have made significant progress at BP over the past 10 months, quietly and without fuss, in resetting essential context, in establishing sound, practical objectives and beginning to deliver them," Chief Executive Tony Hayward said.

Howard also said BP was considering how best to realise the value of the Alternative Energy business, which was much prized by his predecessor, John Browne.

BP says can pump 4 mln BPD until 2020, even without new finds

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - BP can can pump 4 mln barrels of oil a day until 2020, even without new resource finds, its chief executive Tony Hayward said today on the release of BP's strategy update.

Consumers cut back on small pleasures

Jason Jepson works for a chi-chi yacht dealer in Newport Beach, Calif., but he's so worried about the economy he stopped buying $1.79 PowerBars at his gym.

Richmond, Va., legal secretary Angela Harris is passing up her beloved $3.46 Iced Mocha Latte at Starbucks.

William Muckelroy II, a research director from Eagle, Idaho, now carries a bottle of tap water instead of buying $1.29 bottles of Evian at Walgreens.

Such small luxuries seemed almost necessities in happier economic times. But no more for lots of folks, including those and other USA TODAY readers who described how they've changed their habits.

Coal industry spending on election ads

BILLINGS, Mont. - Facing a bruising fight over climate change, the coal industry is on the political offensive this election year to ensure that no matter who wins in November, so does coal.

Billions of dollars in corporate profits are at stake for the companies that mine, ship and burn the nation's most abundant domestic fuel.

Some powerful Washington voices, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, have lined up against coal-fired power, which churns out two billions tons of greenhouse gases annually. Not shirking from a fight, coal's supporters are spending tens of millions of dollars to cement their support among members of Congress and the top presidential candidates.

The industry is also appealing directly to the voters those politicians need.

London protesters fight airport expansion

LONDON — At least five protesters opposed to building a third runway at London's Heathrow Airport unfurled banners from the roof of Britain's Parliament building near the Big Ben tower on Wednesday morning.

"This is just the beginning of a huge campaign to make a third runway completely unbuildable," one of the youthful protesters, who identified himself as Richard George of London, told BBC News in a telephone interview broadcast live on television.

Australia, New Zealand to cooperate on climate change

CANBERRA (AFP) - Australia and New Zealand agreed Wednesday to work together to tackle climate change now that the new government in Canberra has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

EU's Barroso challenges Sarkozy to ensure emissions targets adopted

LONDON (AFP) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso challenged French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country will hold the rotating EU presidency from July, to ensure that targets to combat climate change are adopted, in an interview published Wednesday.

Alaska town sues over global warming

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A tiny Alaska village eroding into the Arctic Ocean sued two dozen oil, power and coal companies Tuesday, claiming that the large amounts of greenhouse gases they emit contribute to global warming that threatens the community's existence.

I came across a startling news item yesterday which I thought I'd share. It should be of interest to most people on TOD.

The reliability of electronic devices is going down. This is because of a two-year-old ban on lead solder in electronics. The ban was instituted by the EU, but since electronics is a worldwide industry, most manufacturers have complied and virtually anything you buy today has lead-free solder. The new solder, from what I understand, contains tin, silver and bismuth.

The problem is that this type of solder grows "tin whiskers" - single crystals that mysteriously grow from pure tin joints. You should read the whole article - a relevant quote follows:

Leadfoot: Sometimes going green hurts more than it helps.
Nobody knows how or why these whiskers grow and nobody knows how to stop them, except through the use of lead solder. Whiskers can start growing in a decade or a year or a day after manufacture. They can grow at up to nine millimeters per year. They grow in any atmosphere including a pure vacuum. They grow in any humidity condition. They just grow. And when they get long enough they either touch another joint, shorting out one or more connections, or they vaporize in a flash, creating a little plasma cloud that can carry for an instant hundreds of amps and literally blow your device to pieces.

Such sudden catastrophic failure could have serious consequences - failure in a nuclear powerplant, in an airplane, radar, online banking, etc - it's not hard to see that this could be disastrous. The military is particularly worried. And circuit boards made with tin solder cannot be repaired, only replaced.

Some of my favourite camera lenses disappeared from production due to this ham-fisted piece of legislation.

Lead in petrol - bad

No lead anywhere at all, even in tiny amounts is not near so clever, especially in critical applications.

Which camera lenses?

The Canon200/1.8 is the most famous example, one of the finest lenses ever built and much used in astronomy.

They still haven't replaced it in their line up, I believe.

Seems a shame as the actual production of the lenses was minuscule, and they were hardly likely to be licked by infants or such - at any rate most photographers would give any toddler who did so many more life expectancy issues than were caused by the lead! ;-)

As noted above, the fear wasn't that babies would eat circuit boards. It was that the electronics (and their lead) would end up in landfills.

Probably not too much of a worry with Canon lenses, as they hold their value very well and are pricey enough that people repair them rather than throw them away.

Check out the prices those beauties still fetch - I don't think landfill is a concern!

OTOH, I'm not sure lead is the reason they were discontinued. Why would only that lens require lead? They're still making lots of other lenses.

I suspect the real reason is they didn't sell enough to make it profitable. IOW, it would be out of production anyway, lead or no lead.

I don't know in a referenced way, but at the time was spending a lot of time on dpreview, that was not the only lens discontinued when they weren't allowed to use lead to dope the glass, and most of the very highest quality glass did.

Of course, low demand explains why they did not make greater efforts to build a replacement with the new restrictions, but regardless of other motivations the EU lead regulation would have made them discontinue it, so it seems unnecessary to look harder for causes.

Canon and other lens makers routinely retire lens models and replace them. This one would have been retired anyway, no doubt. It was retired just about the time when people were switching from film to digital. A lot of lenses were retired then (and replaced with spiffier versions with IS). The slow-selling models were not replaced. This was probably one of them. It took them 13 years to sell 5,000 lenses. Not very profitable, lead or no lead.

Canon probably made a decision to replace the fabrication processes using lead with some other technology. When your fab processes change, your design usually follow. Lenses with small markets could well not be justified to go through redesign and probably retooling.

Why would only that lens require lead

Optical properties of leaded glass? Or perhaps the lead makes the glass more shape-able, thus allowing the maker to get the lenses correct.

And my gut was right:

Lead oxide added to the molten glass gives lead crystal a much higher index of refraction than normal glass, and consequently much greater "sparkle".[citation needed] The presence of lead also makes the glass softer and easier to cut.

(Now I'm looking up homemade glass foundries - just what I need - more stuff to consume electricity!)

I don't buy it. That doesn't explain why the 200mm f/1.8 would need lead, but not, say, the 300mm f/2.8.

I do.

Channeling physics of optics from my teen years and my now dead grandpa commenting on how all the good binoculars were made in Germany VS Japan - I have no trouble believing that better manufacturing and knowledge of optics would make the lenses 'better' over time. Better ways to make glass lenses helped drive down the cost and up the quality so my Grandpa's POV was just wrong by the time came I cared about a set of Binoculars.

In the case of the 2 lenses - we do not know the size or the arrangement of the glass elements - therefore one can not say with any kind of authority if the improvements are due to the better manufacturing of the glass elements or changes in the placement or different dopants in the glass.

Optics and the rules about how photons travel are well enough understood that if we know the lens placements and the dopants in the glass, we can calculate the 'betterness' or even how one lens is working VS the other. Finite Element analysis or POV ray tracing are to ways I can think of - based on what I remember of physics of light and such from my misspent youth.

Forget the lead. Look at the dates. The EU ban started July 2006. Canon stopped manufacturing the lens in question in 1998, and officially announced its retirement in 2001. Lead had nothing to do with it. It was all about low sales.

Hmm, actually I expressed myself poorly, and there was more than one lens at issue - I can't remember the details now at this distance in time - the 200/1.8 was the one everyone focussed on.

But the real issue though is that it didn't just affect luxury goods, medical imaging equipment and so on was also affected, where it is really, really nice to be able to see what is happening.

There are probably other fields I am unaware of where it also may have had a major impact.

Now I am not sure if they have been able to work around these problems and get the same standard of performance in all fields as before, but the general point is that bans should be imposed with care, and individual items looked at to assess the impact, rather than just coming out with one size fits all legislation.

Chromatic aberration becomes more of a problem as the f-ratio gets smaller.

Lead in the environment is a big problem. You average early 1990s vintage computer and CRT contain about 4 lbs. of it. Most of that has probably ended up in landfills, either in the U.S. or "recycled" in third world countries (which means dumped in a pile more often that not it seems). All landfills leak, even new ones, it just takes them longer. Secondly, lead in the environment does not go away, not really ever. When hurricane Katrina swept through the gulf states, people started seeing elevated lead concentrations in near surface soils and sediments. They realized that what this was was the lead that was deposited from when leaded gasoline was being used. It never went away, it just got buried and kicked up again when the hurricane swept through. Additionally, there is still noticeable lead contamination at and downwind of sites where the Romans roasted lead ore and that was a couple thousand years ago.

I'm sorry you won't be able to take pictures in your favorite way, but by removing all sources of lead ending up in waste streams you are minimizing the risk of literally hundreds of future generations from developing neurological problems.

I thought putting lead in petrol was insane - perhaps they had been exposed to too much lead as children? :-)

However I am not too keen on politicians blanket bans, and bland assumption that the technical guys will somehow get over it, and think that a wiser course would have been to offer very limited and specific exceptions with strict rules for recycling.

Top quality optical glass is jut one example of areas which are tough to substitute, and I feel that bans need intelligent application, not just for lead but any future materials which are held to be hazardous.

Yeah I do see your point, specialty cases like you lens are not ever going to be a major component of a waste stream. I suppose if Canon had lobbied hard enough, they might have gotten an exception... or maybe not. These things are hard to tell, especially if it's a case of where to draw the line. Dichotomies are much easier to grasp and legislate I suppose.

"All landfills leak, even new ones, it just takes them longer"

Most of the time I would blow off most comments. But I spent my first 5 years out of school designing and doing construction over site on landfill projects.

I have a hard time to believe that a newer landfill would leak, the only way is if a owner allows for to much head then they have a sidewall blowout, that another issue, and those people should go to jail!

Otherwise with 4 feet of clay correctly installed and a liner there is no way a NEW landfill would leak, plus with the leachate collection systems today.

Boy I'm happy not doing that any more, but I did realize how wasteful we really are.

From my years working as a mechanical and civil engineer, I have to ask
"What is this landfill liner with an infinite life-span?"
"Where is the clay that cannot be eroded by geological processes?"
"What is the system that prevents people from excavating and releasing toxic landfill materials in the future?"
"What happens to the leachate? (Is it disposed of in a meta-landfill?)"
Clearly as claimed above, on some timescale, all landfills will leak. Better-designed landfills will leak on a longer timescale, but no design can defeat the forces of entropy, erosion, and material degradation forever.

Tommyvee is right. You can put as much effort and money as you wish into the containment system for your waste, but at some point it becomes prohibitive and you have to stop and it WILL leak given enough time. Here's the official EPA take on it:

EPA's view of the function of a liner contrasts somewhat with that of some members of the public and the regulated community. Some have argued that liners are devices that provide a perpetual seal against any migration from a waste management unit. EPA has concluded that the more reasonable assumption, based on what is known about the pressures placed on liners over time, is that any liner will begin to leak eventually.

The longest certification for a waste disposal system that I can think of is the Yucca Mountain Repository. There the DOE has certified that radionuclide escape will be at or below acceptable levels for 10,000 years. That doesn't mean there is no escape, only acceptable levels of it. Of course, this was struck down in court because it doesn't correspond to the peak in radiation coming from the site, which is on the 100,000 year time scale. If I remember correctly, DOE has stated it is unable to certify the repository for that long, so at this point it requires an act of congress to say, "yes unacceptable levels of leakage are okay after 10k years."

When hurricane Katrina swept through the gulf states, people started seeing elevated lead concentrations in near surface soils and sediments. They realized that what this was was the lead that was deposited from when leaded gasoline was being used. It never went away, it just got buried and kicked up again when the hurricane swept through.

The same sort of phenomenon has occurred with forest fires near Los Angeles putting back into the air decades of car exhaust detritus from the leaded fuel era. What a toxic legacy humans have.

No lead anywhere at all, even in tiny amounts is not near so clever,

As I remember the chain of events:

1) Electronics were just being tossed in the trash.
2) The Lead in the CRTs and solder joints was a problem.
3) The people who make laws offered up, as a way to keep lead outta landfills - either take this stuff back or stop using lead
4) The makers of stuff opted to stop using lead VS taking stuff back at EOL.

Now if the 'tronics die in a few years and you have to go buy more it becomes the fault of lawmakers and not the makers of stuff.

Lead free solder is harder to work with - but then so are the really thin traces and solder pads of todays surface mount devices. As I recall, having more space and treating the boards surface with resin will stop wiskers from happening.

Besides - the life of a TTL gate is 50 years or so due to migration. If a TRUE collapse comes and man can not make TTL gates anymore - the electronics as we know 'em will be gone then in 50 years.

Back to hi powered tubes.

Don't forget -- the principal of planned obsolescence operates here. Perhaps the politicians were really trying to save the brains of babies, but I'm sure they got no real push back from makers of circuit boards.

If all of electronics were to vaporize tomorrow, it would be better for the human race, and much better for the world.

If all of electronics were to vaporize tomorrow, it would be better for the human race, and much better for the world.

No. Electricity is a very flexable tool for man to have harnessed.

You are trying to claim that the non-electric powered ways of doing things would be better for 6.5 billion humans?

You are gonna have to show your work on THAT conclusion. Please explain where all the bees wax will come from for lighting, and how going back to Fossil Fuel boilers fueling gravity fed steam heating is gonna work out as two examples.

Electronics does not equal electricity.

Please, there is enough disagreement around here not to have it exacerbated by misreadings.

Ok, then at what point does an 'electrical consuming item' starts to become 'electronics'?

A motor acts as a resistor, choke, and can be a generator.

Is a resistor "electronics"? How about a Capacitor? Battery? LED? The junction of Silicon where dopant values differ?

PLEASE define 'electronics' for us - so we can know at what what point the statement If all of electronics were to vaporize tomorrow can be discussed.

NeverLNG.. Never say Never. Not ever.

Really, Do Try to avoid ridiculous absolutes.

Even avoiding the 'Vaporize Tomorrow' aspect of that line, I doubt you've thought through your statement in much detail.

1) Radio Communications (& phone, telegraph, satellite, etc..ALL Long Distance Communications, Diplomacy, Coordination, Energy Future Planning ?)

2) Water Pumping

3) Refrigeration/Freezing

4) All Electric Lighting sources

There might be ~some~ workarounds for these particular, predominantly electrical tasks, but they would be considerably worse, less efficient, and at the very least, would take considerable time and work to put in place.

More importantly, though, I don't see the real core of an argument that tries to say all technology is always a detriment.


I hadn't heard of that, and it is a little concerning.

I doubt that immediate failures in anything safety critical are a major concern in that anything that can be designed to fail into a safe configuration should be being designed on the assumption of other things such as, eg, hitting the assembly with an axe triggers failsafe behaviour. (I gather there are somethings like the latest jet fighters which are literally completely aerodynamically unstable and are only flyable at all with the active aid of the avionics, but they're relatively rare.)

What's more concerning is if it introduces such high levels of failures that field replacements of the affected boards is overwhelming/too expensive.

This is huge.

Almost every microprocessor based system I've worked on uses the CPU to perform monitoring and some sort of control. Subsystems intended for aviation go through an exhaustive process in order to qualify for FAA certification (Google DO-178 for this), but there are still many subsystems totally dependent on hardware and software. It would be very hard to design the electronics to survive failure or shorting of *any* connection.

The EU-driven RoHS standard is driving the reduction of at least six hazardous substances in electronics. All consumer electronics produced or sold in the EU since early 2006 has had to use these lead-free techniques. Most electronic parts produced since then (including in the U.S.) are now lead-free, but the U.S. has no equivalent program forcing manufacturers to use lead-free solder.

It's odd. I always thought RoHS was good for the environment, but I never considered its benefit to manufacturers for planned obsolescense. Has everyone seen http://www.storyofstuff.com ?


That's the law of unintended consequences at work. Very close to the heart of Tainter's work on collapse of complex civilizations.

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, a horse was lost;.... Until, of course, the kingdom was lost.

LaoZi pointed this out some 2500 years ago.

what are the examples of human inventions that can not be "misused" to do more harm than good?

I can't speak for the aviation industry, but I can say that military specs require the use of leaded solder. Why? Well, for reliability, of course! I would imagine that aviation would have similar exceptions.

How do I know? Well, a close family member designs and manufactures circuit boards for a living.

Better hold on to your last computer, as the newest one may go belly up any time. That would include your hard drive as well. More frequent backups would be in order for those of us who tend to be a bit lazy.

E. Swanson

I wonder how many people have died of lead solder circuit boards?

I remember this tech, whenever I walked into his lab he would have a soldering iron in one hand and a spool of solder in the other and he would always pull the solder off the spool with his mouth.

Today when he comes to our retirement get togethers he looks like a 70 year old man but he is only in his 80's.

Most sensitive solder applications today use a 96/4 tin silver eutectic solder. It is mechanically stronger and from past experience does not have the problem in question, however it melts at 205 C about the same as the bismuth solder, rather than 179 C of the 63/37 eutectic or the 60/40 tin lead variety.

Actually it is not the SnAg (usually SnAgCu in fact) solder that is the problem, it is the pure Sn coatings being used on componenets to make them compatable with this solder that tend to form whiskers.

Peak electronics.

As someone who has wielded a soldering iron while putting together several electonic devices from kit back when one could do so in the 1960s, I'm not sure it would be a totally bad thing to have to go back to that era. You got to really understand how your equipment worked. Such devices were could be repaired and re-repaired for decades and decades. Now, almost anything you buy is non-repairable. Use it until it breaks (which isn't very long, either), and then you have to throw it away and buy another. That is about as far removed from sustainability as it is possible to be.

Beyond the whiskers, the lead free solder melts at a higher temperature, and the joint quality is generally poorer. At the same time the complexity is increasing, the size of features is decreasing, and so it the price. I see a lot of stuff, especially computer stuff, that simply doesn't work (at least not for long).

There is also no continuity, as all the design and manufacturing work is outsourced (it seems even the "low cost countries" are outsourcing to even lower cost countries), so often each batch is a dead-end one-shot and designs do not evolve over time.

Contrary to what most people believe, electronic devices don't last forever. There are alway exceptions, but in general I'd bet that if all electronic manufacturing were to end, then virtually all electronic devices would be gone within a generation. Motors and other heavy electrical devices can last much longer, depending on how well they are made.

Contrary to what most people believe, electronic devices don't last forever.

I don't know anyone who believes that. At least here in the US, people treat electronics as disposable. If your cell phone or computer or DVD player breaks, you don't get it repaired. You throw it away and buy a new one. Apple even says iPods are only supposed to last four years.

They are disposed of due to damage, defects, the batteries fail, but mostly due to obsolescence. But I suspect that most people would think these items would continue to work indefinitely otherwise, as they are "solid state" so they never wear out. Nobody keeps electronics long enough to experience them simply failing due to old age - they were obsolete long before that.

My bet is the average American has no idea what "solid state" means.

More probably know that the motherboard of a computer "rots" after awhile, and that seven years is probably the most you should count on from it.

Please don't let my 23 year old original Nintendo know that! If it knew, it might decide to stop working for those twice a year gaming flashbacks! ;)

RE: Oil Hits a High; Some See $4 Gas by Spring

The New York Times almost mentions Peak Oil:

While demand keeps growing, producers are struggling to catch up. They are not replacing the oil they are pumping out of the ground fast enough because of restrictions on access to fields, as well as rising costs. Meanwhile, demand in China, India and the Middle East is expected to push oil consumption up by more than one million barrels a day, each year, for the next decade.

“An oil crisis is coming in the next 10 years,” John B. Hess, the chairman of the Hess Corporation, said at a recent conference held by Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “It’s not a matter of demand. It’s not a matter of supplies. It’s both.”

E. Swanson

Note that the underlying premise in the article is still something approaching the infinite energy model:

They are not replacing the oil they are pumping out of the ground fast enough because of restrictions on access to fields. . .

It is imperative that major oil companies be granted unlimited access to prospective areas, so that they can match the post-1972 Texas decline rate of -4%/year and the post-1999 North Sea decline rate of -4.5%/year (C+C). These two regions show what private industry can do with virtually unlimited access and the best available technology.

Once more, with gusto: Historically we don't stop finding oil in post-peak regions, but we can't offset the declines from the old, larger oil fields.

I wrote the journalist a note.

He reported that "oil has quadrupled in price in the last six years, and could rise by (about 35%) more in the next 7 years".

also the comment about "production has been constrained by limited access to new fields".

I pointed out that neither of these assertions made any sense.

I have sensed a shift, both in tone and content, in how Jad Mouawad (NY Times) and others at major media outlets are explaining the surging price of oil.

Has anyone else noticed that recent explanations for high prices haven't been emphasizing a fear premium, geopolitics, or market speculation? The fact that Jad ends his piece with a quote about a coming oil crisis seems to typify this shift.

I looked at these two websites yesterday.

"Live Oil Free with Solar Power"



"Electric Cars Are For Girls"


The first site shows a solar array that powers a house and two plug-in EVs. There's a good essay in support of EVs and chiding industry for suppressing EV technology.

The second site is full of info and links, and on the "Who's That Girl?" page describes very well the predicament many parents find themselves in when looking at their kids: wondering what kind of world we will leave to them. This has motivated the woman who started the ECAFG site to do what she is doing.

Cool and educational and inspiring websites to visit!

Thanks, once again, for a positive and encouraging contribution! I have to really remind myself to avoid the Snark-fests (which I do slip into, on occasion), when I'm really here to share thoughts on what we CAN be Doing right now!

I thought these lines from the http://sealbeach.org/ page were worth pasting in here:

An electric car is much more efficient than a gasoline car. The reason is simple: there is basically only one moving part, the motor rotor, on an electric car, and it's going in the right direction -- same as the wheels.

A gas engine has pistons going in an up-and-down motion that has to be valve-regulated, with rings, wrist-pins, rods and lots of other moving parts, and transformed into rotary motion by the crankshaft, with the help of grease, oil, coolant, bearings, etc. There are muffler, EGR, catalytic converter, fuel and other systems that are just not needed on an Electric car.

A gas engine runs most efficiently at a constant power range -- usually about 3,000 Revolutions Per Minute ("RPM"). The gas engine is not suited for stopping and starting; for this reason, locomotives, long ago, were redesigned to use the diesel engine only for generating electric power, ALL traction power comes from the electric motor. The rationale behind this is also simple:

* Stopping the vehicle requires either turning off the engine, or interrupting the connection between the engine and the wheels. Usually, this is done with a friction or hydraulic-fluid clutch, which loses energy and wears out.
* The power range is poor for starting out; hence, a gas engine car must have gearing, so that it has about 10 RPM of the engine for each turn of the wheels at low speed, but 1, or less than one, at highway speeds. "

One of the biggest challenges is to get cities and towns to establish a meaningful set of lanes and traffic regs to make it easy and safe to ride bikes and NEV's in town.

Bob Fiske

One more clip from the http//:sealbeach.org/ link..
It's worth reading through this page.. one more satisfied customer!

" Driving more than 30,000 miles per year in two RAV4-EV currently costs my family NOTHING; if we had an average gas car, that would be 1,500 gallons of gasoline, or at least $4,000, not counting tune-ups, oil changes, engine repairs, smog checks, brake jobs, etc. Three years of that, plus our $100/month domestic electric, and we have more than paid for our solar system. And it will go on producing for the next few decades, mostly without maintenance or cost. "


(His Gas estimate was based on 2.66/gal gas..)

Thanks, Bob!

I zipped off to work at a client's home right after posting those website addresses this AM. Yes, they are quite impressive!

I was talking with another NEV owner in town today, and he was working out some "personal finance" calculations on the cost/benefits of buying and using his electric vehicle versus his old van. Interesting that he finds the smaller Zap truck to be better for hualing some of the sruff he needs to haul than his old ICE-powered minivan!

At any rate, I'll post when he figures up the numbers. It seemed like after using the NEV for 20,000 miles (?) he will have saved as much in gasoline costs as it cost to buy the NEV. I'm not sure about whether that includes maintenance cost comaprisons or not.

As I said, I'm not sure of those numbers but will pursue that line of inquiry. If gas prices continue to rise -- 4, 5, or even 6 bucks per gallon -- the savings from driving an EV are even better.

Of course the cost of electricity will rise as well.

From an overall "ecological economics" point of view. the NEV seems to me to make so much more sense for the many short trips people in urban areas make. Something like over 90% of these trips are under 10 miles...?

Couple with walking, biking, and electric rail, what a huge, huge, huge positive difference we would make by divorcing such trips from the Internal Combustion Engine!

Canary in the coal mine

RE: "Consumers cut back" article

On the Nightly Business Report last night, they said that all Starbucks stores were shutting down for a couple of hours so that top management could give a remote-link pep talk to all the troops. Which means that they must be really hurting, far more than they are letting on.

Naw, it was on the TV man. Said they wanted to just have better coffee.

Why would the story be anything other than better coffee? To suggest otherwise sounds like a conspiracy theory.

Starbucks To Begin Sinister 'Phase Two' Of Operation


"We have enjoyed furnishing you with coffee-related beverages and are excited about the important role you play in our future plans. Please pardon the inconvenience while we fortify the second wave of our corporate strategy."

No, no, no, it is really a giant conspiracy. Starbucks, by shutting 3.5 hours yesterday were really making plans to....to uh.....to...overthrow the government?

Wow! You conspiracy theory wingnuts really take the cake. Starbucks shutting down is some kind of a conspiracy. Unbelievable!

It was a marketing scheme. Starbucks, according to the company, shut down for 3.5 hours for training. It cost them a lot of money. If they were really hurting, this would cause them to hurt a lot more. Starbucks is not hurting. What it really was was a publicity scheme. They were on every major network and on every cable news network. They got literally millions of dollars in free publicity and all it cost them was 3.5 hours of downtime. Plus, as a bonus, they even got in a little training during that time.

And no, a publicity stunt is not a conspiracy. Companies, as well as celebrities do it all the time. Every star and company executive are always looking for a way to get themselves in the news. Of course companies want it to be positive news but for celebrities any publicity is considered good publicity.


Ron Patterson

Starbucks really is hurting, which you would know if you followed business news. And nobody shuts down a retail business for 3.5 hours without a compelling business reason. At the least, it sounds like they have a quality problem, and probably a local management problem -- the way a business would normally handle this would be to train the managers and have the managers train the employees.

Is there more to this closing than Starbucks is letting on? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't really know. Then again, neither do you.

shargash -

I tend to agree. It is quite an extraoridinary thing for a company of Starbuck's size to shut down all its retail operations for almost half a workday. This is typically only done for a very important reason, usually to address some serious deficiency or major problem. As a rough analogy, Starbuck's action is akin to an airline grounding all of its planes for a day or the Air Force grounding all of a certain model plane to investigate a safety problem.

Time is money, and nowhere is that prinicple more strictly adhered to than in a large corporation. For example, iin the auto industry there is hell to pay (usually in the form of someone's scalp) if an assembly line suffers an unscheduled shutdown even for an hour.

I am also sceptical of the training angle. Corporate training programs are not typically carried out at all locations at the exact same time. This to me sounds like something to do with a major restructuring. (Possibly including the closing of low profitability locations and a major elmination of jobs?)

So, on the face of it, it would appear to me that something important is brewing at Starbucks.

Right, Starbucks is really hurting because their profits rose by slightly less than 2 percent last quarter:

Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday its fiscal first-quarter profits rose by less than 2 percent, and it detailed plans to open fewer domestic stores and more overseas to revitalize the coffee house chain....

For the 13 weeks ended Dec. 30, Starbucks posted net earnings of $208.1 million, or 28 cents per share, up from $205 million, or 26 cents a share, during the same period a year ago.

Of course hurting is a relative thing. By the same standards of hurting, Delta which loses millions every quarter, is comatose. But if you are used to 5 percent growth every quarter then I guess 1.5 percent growth is an absolute disaster.

And I don't know if there is more to this Starbucks closing or not. That was not my point Shargash. The point was that to suggest it was some kind of conspiracy is just really stupid.

Some people just cannot resist suggesting that virtually everything that happens is part of some kind of conspiracy. That is getting old. It degrades this list. It puts us into a fringe group.

Ron Patterson

The point was that to suggest it was some kind of conspiracy is just really stupid.

And you went from 'sounds LIKE a conspiracy' to whip out a straw man so you could then attack your own straw man.

Some people just cannot resist suggesting that virtually everything that happens is part of some kind of conspiracy.

And some people refuse to accept that some things ARE actual conspiracies.

That is getting old.

VS what - not admitting there are ANY conspiracies? Or how about addressing actual questions asked - is that what was getting old for you?

It degrades this list. It puts us into a fringe group.

So does using straw men and not accepting actual realities. Or just mis-reading something and going off on a tangent on something you like to rail about? (The last one is a personal fav. of mine BTW)

Let me give you a BIG old hint here. Peak Oil is a fringe postion.

To be on the fringe or the fringes of a place means to be on the outside edge of it, or to be in one of the parts that are farthest from its centre. black townships located on the fringes of the city They lived together in a mixed household on the fringe of a campus.
11. The fringe or the fringes of an activity or organization are its less important, least typical, or most extreme parts, rather than its main and central part. The party remained on the fringe of the political scene until last year.
12. Fringe groups or events are less important or popular than other related groups or events.

It will REMAIN a fringe position until such time that man acts in a way that does not expect energy to be a cheap as it was years ago. And then it will stop being fringe. Marketing of the present way of life and tweaks done by people who benefit to keep benefitting have FAR more of an effect of keeping the westtexas ELP, the Chimps/Moimbungo Guru's 'we are fricking doomed', or even the MontyQuest model of powerdown than anything TOD can do. I believe someone in the past few days commented how crops can only grow if one has the seeds AND water - unless the masses have the seeds of the Peak Oil message no amount of water from TOD will matter.

As you are SO concerned about 'conspiracy theories' - why are you not asking for changes like open record keeping so that there are less places for conspiracies to be exist without outside people knowing about them? (See - there is one of my pets - open records. And they don't need straw men to eat, I can feed em meat or chewy parables) There is NO way for any 'conspiracy theory' to have traction if there was no past basis for there to be conspiracies. So why are you not working towards a world so open that conspiracies can't happen?

If you are an executive, and your big pay is stock options (I used to work at a company where the technical people got them as well), and the prospects of the company decrease -it means the stock price will go down (even if the change is from great future to merely good future) -the market had priced the stock in expectation of the bright future, and your options become worthless.

No, no, no, it is really a giant conspiracy. Starbucks, by shutting 3.5 hours yesterday were really making plans to....to uh.....to...overthrow the government?

So Ron makes the claim then says:

Wow! You conspiracy theory wingnuts really take the cake. Starbucks shutting down is some kind of a conspiracy. Unbelievable!

Then attacks his own man of straw. Next time you opt to rant about conspiracies, I'll look forward to you responding in a level headed manner about ADM/Lycine, faked acts of war, propane and electrical market fixing without the straw man hystaria, m-kay?

(For the event to be a conspiracy there has to be some level of illegality or the less common form of 'doing evil'. For a few - the lack of a cuppa joe just may be seen as an evil plot, but I could only hope to see MORE of such levels of evil VS actual evil.)

On Aug. 3, 1993, an epic edition of New York Newsday was released in which the presence of these cassettes would first be publicized, thus revealing a secret U.S. Government complicity in the World Trade Center bombing: "The Federal informant who allegedly foiled the plot to bomb the Holland Tunnel and the United Nations Building secretly tape recorded his conversations with Federal prosecutors and agents. Prosecutors fear that the recorded conversations, which must be turned over to defense lawyers, could damage the conspiracy case against the eleven defendants."

"When Ron Kuby, one of the defendant's attorneys in the case was questioned about an article which revealed that Salem and the FBI were involved in the bombing, he stated: "The article on the FBl being involved in the World Trade Center bombing actually understated the evidence, believe it or not. The informer, Emad Salem, is actually on tape saying that he built the bomb that ultimately blew up the World Trade Center."


BREAKING 9/11 NEWS: FBI Says Barbara Olsen Did Not Call Ted Olsen ...
FBI Says Barbara Olsen Did Not Call Ted Olsen. Bush Solicitor General LIED. poster_911-01.jpg. 21.02.2008. Nationally syndicated talk show host Charles ...

Anything else?

Did anyone else notice that the Starbucks "conspiracy" was from "The Onion." It's satire, dudes.

Wow! You conspiracy theory wingnuts really take the cake.

Yeah, you're right: the conspiracy stuff is completely out of hand. It's even infected the top levels of our gov't who claim a conspiracy orchestrated by a guy in a cave brought down the WTC and the Pentagon.

Whatever happened with Starbucks, conspiracy or not, it's not my biggest worry these days. And even if they managed to overthrow the gov't, what would they do? Mandate latte breaks? Replace the dollar with the biscotti?

Anyway, I'm still mired in the past. I fondly remember being able to count on listening to Vivaldi at all the Au Bon Pains at least here in the NYC area. That's how I mark the onset of decline -- peak Vivaldi I call it.

What you are doing here is a classic straw man argument. Instead of presenting the argument you oppose, you present something else, in order to attack it more easily:
It's even infected the top levels of our gov't who claim a conspiracy orchestrated by a guy in a cave brought down the WTC and the Pentagon.

Nope. Nobody in our government claims a guy in a cave orchestrated 9/11. Nobody.

They say Osama Bin Laden did it. Until 9/12/2001, Osama was not living in a cave. he was living in a house with a phone in Kabul, with all the Taliban's resources available to him, including shortwave radio, satellite phones, and a supply line and money source in Peshawar.

Also, nobody says he orchestrated the attacks. To orchestrate means to stay actively involved in the project down to the finest details, the way a conductor orchestrates a symphony. Nobody in our government claims that.

What they say, is that Osama supplied the 19 conspirators with money, papers, ideology and instructions and sent them on their way. He did not need to orchestrate their activities. Muhammad Atta was a very intelligent man. And educated. With a degree in architecture, which requires studying to at least some depth how construction projects are done. He knew how to orchestrate things without running to Daddy every day. If anyone "orchestrated" things, it was him, but perhaps not even him.

Neither what our government says about 9/11 nor the straw man version you of what our government says is especially relevant to the topic of peak oil. But it is a good example of some of the pervasive human failings that are preventing our society from addressing the issue constructively.

Or the part of the narrative where there is a statement reported to be by Osama where he said he had nothing to do the the deal.

If anyone bothers to read my original post, nothing about any conspiracy was said or implied. I did imply that this was probably an indicator of some financial problems, and probably related to the increasing reports of people cutting back their purchases of discretionary items, Starbucks being one thing particularly mentioned. That is all I said.

WNC, it was not your post that I was replying to, it was Eric's. He was the one who mentioned a conspiracy theory, not you. Some people just cannot resist a backhanded swipe at those of us who would rather not turn this list into a fringe list of conspiracy theory wingnuts.

Ron Patteson

Good morning Ron,

I guess I am curious though...do you admit that there actually have been conspiracies?

It seem obvious to me that the existence of historical conspiracies can be proven. So perhaps you could enlighten me as to how you differentiate between "conspiracy theories" to be rejected out-of-hand and actual conspiracies?

It always seemed to me that the label "conspiracy theory" is used to discount or ignore an idea. Many times these "theories" may only be worthy of ridicule, but some ridiculed theories have turned out to be true.

My standard has always been: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This seems to separate the lunacy from the possible. Motivation is also important; the desire for money and practical power makes sense. Other, more esoteric motivations are less convincing to me.

Many years ago, while trying to explain Peak Oil to some co-workers at a mine in Northern Nevada, I was accused of being a conspiracy theory wingnut...in almost the exact terms you used. These doubters were not miners but geologists and engineers...thereafter I was accused of being a "nutter".

This reply is not meant to be an attack...I am genuinely interested in you thoughts.

Many years ago, while trying to explain Peak Oil to some co-workers at a mine in Northern Nevada, I was accused of being a conspiracy theory wingnut...in almost the exact terms you used. These doubters were not miners but geologists and engineers...thereafter I was accused of being a "nutter".

I second that...

Peak Oil, and the downplaying it gets in the media, along with governments, is a perfect example of those who are Peak Oil Aware being deemed as conpsiracy theorists. The problem is, a conspiracy is two or more people conspiring to do something.. Whether it is to sneak out of bed to see Santa as he delivers presents or to defraud investors out of millions of dollars, it's the product of people conpsiring, and thus A CONSPIRACY.

But, as you pointed out, people often view Peak Oil as one of those "conspiracy theorist wingnut" ideas, because we just COULDN'T have the wool pulled over our eyes.

Like it or not, everyone that posts here except cornucopians are deemed as conpsiracy theorists to SOMEBODY. :/

To both Bryant and Durandal,

Of course there have been historical conspiracies. I have covered this many times in the past but every so often I must repeat it again. There have been military conspiracies, with the threat of death to anyone who leaked the secret. And there have been conspiracies by the FBI or other government law enforcement. An undercover agent is a co-conspirator, conspiring to trap the bad guys.

There are hundreds of other conspiracies but they always require only a small group of co-conspirators. Larger conspiracies require extraordinary threat of punishment in order to keep the lid on.

There is no such thing as a conspiracy that requires hundreds of co-conspirators. And people who see a conspiracy in every event have a screw loose.

And of course peak oil is often regarded as a conspiracy theory. That is why we must eschew other very stupid conspiracy theories in order that we may be taken seriously. If we associate with true wingnut conspiracy theorists that only reinforces the belief that we are also conspiracy theory nuts.

The consequences of peak oil are so devastating that people will look for any excuse to deny it. So if they see us espousing a bunch of stupid conspiracy crap then they will say: “See I told you so!”

... He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn't reserve a plot for weeds.

Dag Hammarskjold

Ron Patterson

To both Bryant and Durandal,

So you only post to me to put up straw men to tear down.

I understand, having seem me tear apart others - you phreer my 'l337 skillz.

Tis ok. But if the only way you can post to me is a

There is no such thing as a conspiracy that requires hundreds of co-conspirators.

So the Employees of Enron or ADM or Alephia who carried out/allowed the manipulation of electrical prices, made/delevered the Lysine, or did nothing about the family's spending of money makes them...what? Just Employees?

Or is your claim yet another staw man?

Before I take the time to show you wrong (or not), why don't YOU post YOUR definitions of
Conspiracy Theory
That way "we" are all working off the same page.

Before I take the time to show you wrong (or not), why don't YOU post YOUR definitions of
Conspiracy Theory
That way "we" are all working off the same page.

I agree with these definitions.



Conspiracy Theory

Ron Patterson

(And I do thank you for responding when asked. It helps to understand where someone elses head is/what their POV is)

From your own use of circular definitions - you will always be right.

the Wikipedia link talks about the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, so at the point ANY plot becomes part "public" it is no longer a "conspiracy theory".

So you just keep claiming there are no "valid" "Conspiracy Theories" - secure in the knowledge once any talk hits your ears, it is no longer secret and therefore can not be a valid "Conspiracy Theory" - due to the secret part.

I'll be sure to remind posters in the future when you go on one of your 'there are not valid conspiracy theories' tears how, in your world, once something is no longer secret it is no longer a conspiracy theory.

Thanks for the reply Ron. So if I understand your reasoning, conspiracies which would require many co-conspirators are suspect, and the larger the number of conspirators, the less likely such a proposed conspiracy could be true?

Well Bryant, you have about half of it. There are other reasons. For instance some conspiracies do not just require hundreds of co-conspirators but require them to be picked from the general public rather than a group of like minded people. For instance the very stupid idea that it was not a plane that hit the Pentagon would require the whole damn Arlington Fire Department, as well as other assisting fire departments to be part of the conspiracy. That is because they were the ones that collected the plane parts and the body parts of all the airline passengers, body parts that were identified via DNA. Then there are all those forensic investigators who also had to be part of the conspiracy.

Then there is Occams Razor! Then there is a thousand other things that make those very stupid conspiracy theories so very unlikely.

So no Bryant, it is not just the number of co-conspirators required though that is a large part of it.

Ron Patterson

There are other reasons.

With the big one being any conspiracy theory to be valid it has to be secret. And, well, for you to talk about what others have claimed, it is no longer secret.

The problem is, a conspiracy is two or more people conspiring to do something

Based on the definition on the internet of 'conspiracy theory' the action(s) must be illegal or at least 'evil' (whatever evil is these days)

Well I don't know about evil, though that is the way it is normally portrayed. But there must be victims, people who are conspired against! And for that reason it must be covert. Simple planning is not a conspiracy because there would be one being conspired against and there would be no reason to keep it secret.

Well I don't know about evil,


But there must be victims,

Oh, methinks I can provide them - and tools called 'weapons of mass destruction' by the UN - would that make 'em evil enough/illegal enough?

people who are conspired against!

That would be victims.....thus:


(Lets see, "illegal weapons", people who've suffered, and planning to use the 'illegal weapons' then the 'crime' of their use. (yea, yea DU. Low hanging poisoned fruit to get to my point))

And for that reason it must be covert.

Oh, well then. The use of Depleted Uranium has been in public - guess that use isn't a 'conspiracy' then. If the matter is part of the public record, does that not make it a conspiracy? What if its part of the public record for one purpose but not another? (DU, various drugs used 'off label', records judges ask for and not being turned over could be other examples of "a conspiracy theory" but have been 'disclosed to the public' and therefore SEEM to not fit Ron's definitions)

Be nice if you'd define exactly
Conspiracy Theory
VS your present linguistic dance, that way "we" would all know what exactly you are complaining about.

Ron: Re your absolute numbers ceiling, you couldn't be more wrong. The Hells Angels have more than hundreds of members, along with many other criminal organizations.

Ahh, but by Ron's definition, the matter has to be secret. Ron's definition requires organization and action for reasons other than the publically stated purpose. (nothing to do with crime)

For years before (and after) Hell's Angels members getting convictions for murder or drug trafficking, "the public" "knew" about "what the Hell's Angels" "do" is different than what the public statements were.

The *KEY* to Ron's world is the secret. Not organization or the deception. Secret.

A conspiracy theory usually attributes the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events, or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, and often deceptive plot by a group of powerful or influential people or organizations.

Egro anything done by, oh say Congress, can not be a 'conspiracy theory' - because what is conspired is done in public.

The Angels are just guys who get together because they love bikes-all their public statements reveal their disgust for drug trafficking or crime of any type-there is no way so many members could be keeping their "secret"-we all know everyone is compelled by Ron's law to show their cards every minute.

In hopes of bringing to a conclusion this thread I will come clean about the 3.5 hour shutdown. TPTB are changing the name of the company to WARBUCKS and in future all employees will wear camo and combat boots. Interior walls will be painted with various battle scenes from the past such as the flag raisning on Iwo Jima, and the US flag and all service flags will be prominantly displayed. The only coffee served will be called 'MUD' and it will look and taste exactly like the stuff our troops in the field get. The CEO has told me personally that these changes will more closely suit the image that WARBUCKS wishes to portray.

So, there is no conspiracy. Only a few superficial changes. :)

And the CEO will henceforth be known as "Daddy Warbucks".

"It's deja vu all over again"

Yes, I understand that there is an alternative plan to rename Starbucks as "StarWarBucks" rather than just "Warbucks."

Oh, and of course the company training included quotations from the master of conspiracy theorists himself, J. Edgar Hoover:

"The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent."


"Banks are an almost irresistible attraction for that element of our society which seeks unearned money."

The above thanks to wikiquote:


:) :) :)

And I mentioned that how the reason given - training to make better coffee - was just what it was - training to to make better coffee.

Having hidden motives/agendas and suggesting what these hidden motives and adjendas might be is LIKE a 'conspiracy theory'. If you had suggested some illegal act, then it would have been an actual 'conspiracy theory'.

The action of Starbucks is the marketers action - if we can offer a better product, people will buy from us VS others. Somehow they feel that 3 hours will create better product.

Ron Patterson is the one who posted a straw man about the shutdown being a plot to overthrow the government. Then railed on his normal diatribe about 'conspiracy theories' in concern for how such things look VS worrying about using straw man argument (which effect how things look also) or actualy working towards an environment where theories about conspiracies can't happen like have happened in the past.

Such actions (posting about how conspiracies are bogus, denial of past conspiracies, and a lack of action to create an environment where there can not be conspiracies) are what are expected from Ron, just like I expect tales of fertilizer from the poster in Arizona.

I think that people are getting tired of spending 5$ for a cuppa joe. Meanwhile, Dunkin Donuts has been picking up the slack, which says that people aren't cutting back on coffee, just expensive coffee.

Personally, I just get out my French press, and make my coffee at home.

I wouldn't mind paying $5 for a cup of coffee if it were actually good coffee (okay well maybe not $5, let's say $2-3). I've gotten to the point where I've thrown out so many cups of Starbuck's coffee because it tastes like aspirin that I won't buy coffee there any more. I go anywhere else before I go to Starbucks. Things like Cappuchino, etc. are okay but their regular coffee is terrible!

Aspirin. That made me laugh..

I haven't figured out what it tastes like, but it's not what I usually call 'coffee'..

We have a lot of Local roasters and Cafe's, so the option is easy to avoid. I did see David Crosby at a Portland Starbucks, and Harrison Ford at a NYC one.. which of course implicates all three of us as sometime supporters of their 'Coffee-food-product'..


(Tough news about this conspiracy to turn WNC's post into a 'conspiracy or no-conspiracy' thread, though..)

The purpose of pointy haired bosses is to do stupid things that show the breadth and depth of their strategic vision, eg, shut down all the stores of a national chain for training at the same time. They do it in good times and bad times. After all, how can you show that you're a great leader unless you do things on a scale that forces people to notice what you're doing.

OK, some of that was sarcanol. To be fair, the free press coverage they've got may be close to balancing the revenue lost.

RE: oil at $102

Well 10 days ago oil was 65.3 euro with the greenbacks trading @ $1.44/euro
Now oil is 67.6 euro @ $1.508/euro

Maybe there is some component due to scarcity but this is mostly dollar depreciation

Yep. Bearish US inventory data this morning. Oil $ needle holding 100 quite nicely so far. PO=1 hit. PO+Inflation=2 hits. With upcoming scarcity news ,the hits, they'll keep on coming too.

Especially since the Fed stands ready to act in a timely manner to support economic growth

About that $100. In Britain the mediae only gives the price of Brent crude, which is always several dollers lower than West Texas crude. We still think it's $97 a barrel.

BBC: Oil hits $102 for the first time

The price of oil has hit a record high for the second day running, touching $102.08 a barrel for US sweet crude.

London Brent crude was trading near $100 a barrel after surpassing that level on Tuesday.

There's a bar in Sapporo, Japan with great import beers from all over the world. The owner wallpapered the wall behind the bar with newsprint when he opened his doors in 1980. How history rhymes!

Fuel Expected to Cost More

By the way, I worked out some interesting math regarding home heating:

kwh/btu conversion: 1 kwh = 3412 btu

Cost per 10,000 btu using electricity at $0.20 kwh (total end user cost): $$0.59.

btu per gallon of propane: 91,000 (average)

Cost per 10,000 btu using propane at $3.40/gallon: $0.373

btu per gallon of heating oil: 139,000

Cost per 10,000 using heating oil at $3.10/gallon: $0.223

However, heat conversion efficiency is typically about 66% for vented propane and heating oil heaters.

Effective cost per 10000 btu:

Propane: $0.56
Heating oil: $0.34

From this I conclude that electricity and propane have almost equivalent costs. Considering the greater flexibility of electric heat, electricity is a better choice, assuming electricity prices don't rise much. You can easily put an electric heater in each room for zone heating, or use radiant heaters, electric blankets, etc. Thus, your total cost might likely be lower. Plus, capex costs are low.

Heating oil is still cheaper on a btu basis, but it is the least flexible of option, which means that you might use more heat overall. For example, it is much more common to see a heating oil-fired whole-house central heating system, which would eliminate any cost advantages.

Natural gas is a damn bargain today. But, it probably won't stay that way. (Of course, higher natgas prices probably mean higher electricity prices too.)

Air heat pumps (common in Asia) could be a good solution for heating in places that don't get much below freezing, basically the Sunbelt. These combine room-by-room heating with good efficiency. However, the capex is considerable.

I've thought that an interesting combo for colder areas would be to have an air heat pump running into a greenhouse/sunroom. Passive solar would get the room up to 40-50F or so, very nice for heat pump operation.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve) rose by 3.2 million barrels compared to the previous week. At
308.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the middle of the
average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased
by 2.3 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average
range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components
inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.5
million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of
year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 2.4 million barrels last week.
Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 2.7 million barrels last
week, and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

Blending components now exceed conventional gasoline inventories and are responsible for 50% of the gain in inventories this week. We seem extremely good at increasing this inventory up 15.9% YOY

Corn Ethanol Use: Driven by continued expansion in ethanol production capacity, corn use for ethanol
is projected at 4,100 million bushels in 2008/09, up 28 percent from the current year projection. At this
level, ethanol corn use will account for 31 percent of total corn use, up from a projected 25 percent for

4100 Mbu divided by 40 (bu to the MT) = approx. 100 MMT.

Agricultural Outlook Forum 2008 Released: Friday, February 22, 2008

"At this level, ethanol corn use will account for 31% of total corn use, up from a projected 25% for 2007/08."


Once again thanks for keeping us up. Maybe it's time to try again.

Dear Policymaker
Currently the US government is subsidizing an annual 9.3 billion gallon corn ethanol output at $.51 a gallon while American consumers contemplate $5 a loaf bread and $4 a gallon gasoline. Corn grown for biofuels displaces vital food crops like wheat which has reached critically low stockpile levels worldwide. It is also stimulating food price inflation as it competes for needed grain exports.

Unfortunately this biofuel is nearly as energy intensive to produce as it yields when burned. Given $100 a barrel oil it is time for a long developed corn ethanol industry to stand on it's own economic footing.

As countries around the world apply tariffs to their grain exports poor people are being priced out of much needed nutrition. Repealing the corn ethanol subsidy will do more to help American consumers, meat producers and bakeries than any tariff or food subsidy could and it will aid those worldwide who need food price relief the most.

Please research this issue carefully it is of an immediate and vital importance. sincerely, x

Cornell/Pimentel Corn Ethanol isnt worth it

Financial Times editorial on biofuels subsidies

Keep in mind, though, Mac, that we'll get back forty percent of that 31% in cattle feeding ability (that's what corn is, you know; cattle feed) in distillers grains. That puts us around 19% of corn used.

All in all, we used about 2% of global grains for ethanol this year. We could, probably, increase the number of acres in grain production by twenty, or thirty percent, easily (over several years, of course.)

Not just cattle feed; it's hog feed, chicken feed, turkey feed and even used on farm raised catfish.

The mash is not the same as "virgin" corn.

See reply to first responder. 8D

100 MMT is not 2%.

How should distillers feed be handled?
Handling wet distillers grain (WDG) in warmer weather can be challenging. Wet distillers grains will mold and go out of condition in as few as four days, although typically, WDG have about seven days of shelf life before going out of condition. Organic acid may extend shelf life, but the additional cost needs to be considered. Wet distillers grains have been successfully stored for more than 6 months in silage bags, either bagged alone or in combination with another feed to increase bulk. SDSU researchers have been very successful storing blends of WDG and soybean hulls.


What Feeding Levels are Possible?
For beef cattle the recommended levels of DDG are 10-20% of the ration, with WDGs ranging
from 10-40% of the total ration on a dry matter basis. For dairy cattle the recommendation is not to exceed
20% of the total dry matter content with WDGs. For poultry the recommendation is to feed up 10% in the
diets of broilers and turkeys and up to 15% of the diet in layer rations. For swine nursery pigs above 15
pounds can have DDG up to 25% of the diet, growing and finishing pigs can be fed up to 20% with lysine
and tryptophan added to the ration, lactating sows up to 10% and gestating sows can have 50% of the dry
matter in the diet come from DDG.

Also, to facilitate proper performance and to avoid urinary calculi (water belly),
Ca to P ratios should be equal to or greater than 1.2:1 but not greater than 7:1.

Starch content of DG is much lower than that of corn grain (2.4% vs. 72%), but fiber and protein
content greater than that of corn grain.


So at the least, more care has to be taken. The source material
needs to be close at hand.

I believe it also cause "the runs" in certain livestock.

More if interested.

James ;}

I beleive you are a little off on your prices.

Current heating oil Avg US price $3.50/Gal
Current propane Avg US price $2.55/Gal

Making them both about .251 dollars per therm.

Well, propane doesn't cost $2.50 a gallon HERE, not anymore.

Not to mention that electricity was $0.09/kwh in Arkansas last time I looked at the bill. (Admittedly, that was 6 months ago.)

Thats because PADD1A(New England) only stock & consume about 1.5% of total propane.

PADD 2 & 3 Midwest and Gulf Coast stock and consume 85%. The rest 13.5% is West Coast, Rockies and the rest of PADD1.

If you down load this XL from EIA it has a complete breakdown.


Central Maine Power states (on my bill, anyway) 7.5 cents/kwh, but counting the 'Electricity Supply: Standard Offer Service', the cost per bill amounts to 15.5 cents/kwh.

Heck of a Service Charge, Brownie!

Bob Fiske

It is normal for electricity transport and distribution to account for about 50% of consumer electricity costs. The "generation" cost is what it costs at the generator gate.

Modern air heat pumps especially the CO2 models in Japan can work in temperatures as low as -15C
World of Renewables - News - Heat Pumps capture new markets in Asia & the EU

There is a model from Maine good for down to -30C
Hallowell International: Technical Data

They would be useful and provide a high multiplication factor all over North America.

Thanks for the link to the Hallowell unit. That's the first air-source heat pump I've seen that will operate in the usual winter temperatures around here, where it can be in the -20C range for weeks at a time. We do have some days where the temperature can drop below -40, but those days are fairly rare ( maybe 2-3 per year ).

The -30F (-34.5C) rating on that unit might be workable if there were a backup system for when it gets too cold. I'll have to look into this when it's time to replace my furnace.

Well, the fact that they work down to -30 doesn't mean that they are that efficient at that temperature - I would check the curve of performance carefully to see what the score is - it hardly ever gets below around -5C here in the UK.

In your case you might be one of the few who would need a ground source heat pump, and the extra expense that entails.

Certainly they are standard issue in Sweden.

The Japanese model was designed with Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, in mind, and that has a much milder climate than where you are.

Considering the greater flexibility of electric heat, electricity is a better choice, assuming electricity prices don't rise much.

I don't agree with that. Electric resistance heating is always just about the most expensive form of heat. You're right about the low capex costs for small electric heaters, blankets, etc. Ground-source heat pumps are another story, very attractive in terms of cost/btu but relatively high capex. Plus, electricity prices are going up just like heating oil, propane, and natural gas.

Natural gas is a damn bargain today.

Yes. I'm a huge fan of natural gas for heating. In my area (suburban Boston), electricity is about three times the cost of gas ($0.19 per kWh vs. $1.72 per therm). Assuming an 85% AFUE rating for a gas-fired boiler, gas is still about about 2.5 times cheaper than electric resistance heating. New England is also highly dependent on natural gas for electricity generation, so I figure I'm better off with gas.

I also have a very simple 750 millivolt steam system that is not grid-connected. So if the electricity goes out I still have heat. I view gas service as more reliable than electrical service for private residences.

I keep coming back to the issue of insulation and air sealing, though. In almost all instances you are better off spending your money on better/more insulation and air sealing. Then it almost doesn't matter what kind of heat you have because you need so little of it.

Hi Calorie,

I keep coming back to the issue of insulation and air sealing, though. In almost all instances you are better off spending your money on better/more insulation and air sealing. Then it almost doesn't matter what kind of heat you have because you need so little of it.

I wish more folks understand this. Get your heating requirements as low as possible and just about any fuel, including electricity, can do the job affordably. Plus every kWh of heat you remove from your requirements is one less to worry about in term of future replacement cost and reliability of supply.

In Nova Scotia, electricity rates are reasonable ($0.1067 per kWh) and surprisingly stable, having increased by less than 28 per cent over the past sixteen years. During this time, residential fuel oil has more tripled in cost and is now more expensive than electricity on a per BTU basis. Obviously the situation will vary from one area to the next (and as you point out, New England is a different beast altogether), but at this point I feel a little more comfortable recommending electricity than I do either oil or natural gas, especially if heating demand is modest. And if an air source heat pump can cut your kWh needs by half or more and a GSHP can do even better, the case for electricity becomes that much stronger. Regardless of where you live, your primary goal should be to minimize or eliminate demand first, then look at these other choices later; in a world of rising energy prices and growing supply uncertainty it seems foolish not to do so.


Electricity is very flexible. For example, you can keep pipes warm with simple pipe-tape heaters (about 165W for 25 feet, thermostat controlled), while keeping pipes warm with gas or oil would entail heating the whole room. Or, you can leave little-used rooms like the bathroom or bedroom unheated or nearly so. (Our bedroom is unheated, bathroom left at 50 deg.) In this way you can use much less heat, so even if it is 2x the price per btu you're using 75% less and it's cheaper. Your fancy 85% efficiency "boiler" for example might heat water with amazing efficiency, but then what happens? In my former heating oil/boiler house, it was necessary to heat the whole house all the time. Why? TO KEEP THE HEATING PIPES FROM FREEZING! The main purpose of the heater was to heat the heater! This heating of the heater consumed about 70-100 gallons of heating oil a month, on a base level (for example if we were traveling). Vented single-room natgas or propane heaters are not so efficient alas, 66% seems to be common.

Natgas is bizarrely cheap right now. It could easily double, very quickly. I wouldn't make big long-term bets on the cheapness of natgas.

Hi econguy,

I enjoy the comfort and quietness of hot water baseboard heat but on a couple occasions I've had my pipes freeze and it scares the life out of me. Now, during colder weather I have to remember to turn up the downstairs and main floor thermostats and circulate water through these pipes for five or ten minutes before I go to bed; otherwise, there's a good chance I'm going to wake up to problems. This is one of the issues you run into when you rely on any alternate heating source for the bulk of your needs.

If I were building a new home, I would likely install electric hot water baseboard units. My parents had them in their summer home; they were made by Intertherm but I believe these same units are now sold under the Cadet name (http://www.cadetco.com/show_product.php?prodid=1010). All the advantages of hot water baseboard heating and a lot safer than standard electric strips (no freeze hazard too, which makes them ideal for this type of application). *


* As I recall, a few of them got a tad noisy as they got older, but I have no idea if this is something inherent in their design or just a one-off thing.

Underfloor is the dream, Paul - no way it will freeze, and you can use relatively low temperature water, so solar thermal is good in the summer and fall, supplemented by an air heat pump in the winter- or at least, that is my understanding, I am not lucky enough to have it.

Hi Dave,

I may have mentioned this already, but I have in-floor electric radiant heat in my home office, front foyer and bathrooms and it works well. These areas have slate floors and I was concerned they would be uncomfortable if I didn't add supplemental heating and there was no practical way to do this with hot water without altering the height of these floor.

Each room is controlled by its own thermostat which reads the floor temperature.

See: http://www.datafilehost.com/download.php?file=412944fe

Kelsey, one of my older collies who is sadly no longer with us was thrilled whenever it got turned on.

See: http://www.datafilehost.com/download.php?file=ab373d7b


Cute dog! Voted with it's paws for underfloor!

Thanks, Dave. I've had five collies over the years, all male rough coat sables..... Casey, Kyle, Kingston, Kelsey and, most recently, Cameron. Casey and Kingston were both rescue dogs and I was thankful to have shared in their remaining years. I lost Kelsey a little less than year ago and it was a huge blow. Even the veterinary staff were crying when they broke the news; this guy touched a lot of hearts and he certainly stole mine (this thank you card has a better picture of him: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-d1a7d6a4.html ).

Cameron, is another real charmer; his picture can be found here: http://www.freewebs.com/eastleigh/puppies.htm


They look great to share your life with, Paul - real beauties!

As I recall, a few of them got a tad noisy as they got older...

When I was junior high age
('64-'66) the family lived in a
brand new house in Newburgh NY, outfitted with baseboard heat. That system was as noisy as all get out.

When I told that to my plumbing
instructor his reply implied that
'properly' installed systems were quiet.


My boiler has an automatic bleeder (if that's the correct term) that's suppose to address this problem, but I still end up bleeding air from the lines from time to time to get rid of that annoying gurgling. Other than that, they're virtually silent.

What's odd to me is that these Intertherm units were fully self contained (no external plumbing) so I wouldn't expect them to get noisy with age, but one or two would hiss as they warmed up; it wasn't loud or objectionable, just peculiar. This is going back some thirty-five years, so if there were a problem with their design or construction no doubt it would have been addressed by now (or so one hopes).


Natgas is bizarrely cheap right now. It could easily double, very quickly. I wouldn't make big long-term bets on the cheapness of natgas.

If natural gas doubles, then electricity rates in New England are going to skyrocket as well because of NE's high dependence on gas for electricity generation:


New England's electricity rates, among the highest in the nation, will continue to depend almost entirely on the price of natural gas over the next two decades -- no matter what policies state leaders adopt for conserving energy and approving new kinds of power plants, according to a study being released today.

I own an old 1600 sf house with a gas-fired steam heating system, so the question is, do I keep that system, or replace it with something like a ground-source heat pump? (Electric resistance heating in a few rooms while leaving the bathroom at 50 would not impress all family members ;-).) Given my particular situation, namely the capital costs of a GSHP and the high dependence of electricity rates on gas prices, the option with the highest net present value is sticking with what I have and investing in insulation, air sealing, and turning down the thermostat if necessary.

If at some point I decide to install central air conditioning, requiring high-velocity ductwork, then, yes, I probably would seriously consider a GSHP.

Hi Calorie,

I ran the NPVs for GSHP systems under a wide range of scenarios and was shocked to discover they were almost always negative. Granted, your higher electricity rates would no doubt improve your results, but I would advise you to take a hard look at the numbers before making any decision. On the other hand, some folks blow $40,000.00 or $50,000.00 on a luxury SUV that will have little or no residual value at the end of three to four years, whereas a GSHP will ultimately pay for itself and you will have the peace of mind of knowing you won't be hurt by rising energy costs as much as you would have been otherwise.

Personally, as I've said here before, I would likely go with one (or two) high efficiency ductless systems because I'd rather spend $3,500.00 or $7,000.00 than $25,000.00 or $30,000.00, even if I have to forego a few hundred dollars a year in additional savings. The possible exception would be if your family are heavy users of DHW, but even at that a $1,000.00 heat pump water heater could cover off that end of things nicely.


Granted, your higher electricity rates would no doubt improve your results

I don't understand that statement. Wouldn't higher electricity rates make the NPV for a GSHP worse than lower rates? I guess the question is, improve my results compared to what?

The more I read about pipes freezing, the more I am glad I have steam heat. The pipes are, of course, filled with air when the system is not running, and so not susceptible to freezing. But I don't understand how your house could possibly get close to freezing. I keep my house at 65F, and if if loses 1F per hour during setbacks, then in 8 hours the temp would still be above 55F. Are you talking about when things malfunction or you're away from home and want to turn the heat completely off? Or do things really get close to freezing during your normal setbacks?

Hi Calorie,

I don't understand that statement. Wouldn't higher electricity rates make the NPV for a GSHP worse than lower rates? I guess the question is, improve my results compared to what?

You're right, I expressed this poorly. At higher electricity rates, a GSHP would be more attractive relative to electric resistance and possibly an air-source heat pump, but not heating oil, natural gas or any other competing fuel. I should have been more clear.

In another thread I compared the economic performance of air and ground source heat pumps versus electric heat and found air source to be the better choice right across the board. The reference home in this analysis has an annual heat demand of 15,024 kWh or 51.3 MM BTUs, which I'm told is typical of a 1,700 sq. ft. conventional new home in our climate (~8,000 HDD). We assume a GSHP can provide 100 per cent of the home's space heating and domestic hot water needs -- the latter being roughly 200 litres per day at a 40C temperature rise.

We budgeted $25,000.00 for this system. Price appears to be all over the map, but I'm told by one HVAC company that installs these systems in New Brunswick that a 3-ton installation generally runs anywhere from $25,000.00 for a closed loop to $30,000.00 for open well (new construction).

At $0.10 per kWh and assuming a 6 per cent annual escalation in electricity rates and a 5 per cent cash discount, the ten-year NPV of our reference system is -$10,654.47. If we bump up our first year rate to $0.15 per kWh, the ten-year NPV is -$4,076.94 and at $0.20 per kWh, it is $2,500.59.

The alternative is a high efficiency ductless heat pump at an installed cost of $3,500.00. We assume it can supply roughly 75 per cent of the home's space heating needs with the balance provided by electric resistance. The ten-year NPVs at each of these rates are $4,484.41, $8,393.28 and $12,302.15 respectively.

Note that if we double the size of the home and assume a 3 ton GSHP can still supply us with 100 per cent of our needs, the numbers are notably better. The ten-year NPV's for the GSHP then become $1,611.20, $11,927.21 and $23,839.45 at each of these three starting rates.

With respect to the air source alternative, if we double the size of the home and add a second ductless heat pump to better serve this expanded space, the ten-year NPVs are $8,968.82, $16,786.57 and $24,604.31 respectively. Even taking into consideration the DHW component, it's only when we double heating demand to 30,047 kWh/year and double the cost of the air source alternative (but keep the cost of the GSHP constant) and double electricity rates to $0.20 per kWh that the gap in NPVs narrows to something less than $1,000.00.


Thanks! I'll go over your previous posts when I get a chance. Do you have some more detail on the calculations or maybe a spreadsheet for the NPV calculations?

Do you know of any good web sites for discussing these sorts of things? Drumbeats are awkward because they are general-purpose threads.

Hi Calorie,

The file was created in Excel 2007 and I have since discovered is incompatible with previous versions of Excel because the number of nested statements exceeds what is supported by these earlier versions. I'd be happy to e-mail you a copy if you so wish, but I'll warn you it contains ten years of hourly temperature data and is 741 pages in length.

A PDF of the summary page/variables and 2007 temperature data is available at:

This spreadsheet was created to model the operating performance of the Fujitsu 12RLQ and 15RLQ ductless heat pumps in our local climate and the inclusion of the GSHP component was merely an afterthought. I should also note that this is my first attempt at using Excel as I normally do all my work in Quattro Pro, so having someone who is familiar with Excel review the file would help me considerably.


The more I read about pipes freezing, the more I am glad I have steam heat. The pipes are, of course, filled with air when the system is not running, and so not susceptible to freezing. But I don't understand how your house could possibly get close to freezing. I keep my house at 65F, and if if loses 1F per hour during setbacks, then in 8 hours the temp would still be above 55F. Are you talking about when things malfunction or you're away from home and want to turn the heat completely off? Or do things really get close to freezing during your normal setbacks?

Sorry, I didn't answer your second question. I've insulated these lines with foam wrap, but they run inside exterior walls that are also heavily insulated; unfortunately, about 2/3rds of that insulation is in-front of the pipe so if that water is left standing for any length of time it will freeze (if it's -25C outside and +15C inside, it's probably no more than -5C or -10C at the position of the pipe). One trouble spot is where they pass by (or run parallel to) the sill plate and exposed to air leakage. Two years ago, I had a pipe freeze on the upper floor where it runs behind the bath tub; that same loop also passes through an adjoining attic space where it is routed behind a bedroom closet. Of all three zones, this is the one I have to watch most closely.


I didn't realize how lucky I am. I have steam risers in exterior walls; if these were hot water pipes I would probably have a freezing problem. My domestic hot water lines are all in interior walls and are never in any danger of freezing.

Propane: $0.56/10000BTU with propane at $3.40 a gallon
Electricity: $0.59/10000BTU with power at $0.20 kwH

I have an electric coop and my power is $0.11 per kwH. My propane is $3.05 and rising, and my very inefficient GFA furnace is 22 years old. When I bought the house 20 years ago, I almost choked when my neighbor told me his house was all electric. I couldn't believe anyone could afford to heat with electricity. I never thought I'd see the day when I wished I had electric baseboard heat, but here it is.

Hi moabite,

It's a crazy, upside down world we live in. I never thought I'd recommended electric heat given my own past bias against it, but times have changed and so too my opinion. ETS (electric thermal storage) is one of the least costly ways to heat here in Nova Scotia. With an off-peak rate half that of the standard residential rate -- $0.05335 per kWh -- it's the equivalent of paying $0.468 a litre for heating oil at an AFUE of 82 per cent ($1.76 per U.S. gallon). In terms of propane, it works out to be $0.348 per litre or $1.31 per U.S. gallon at an AFUE of 92 per cent. Right now, I'm paying $1.05 per litre/$3.95 U.S. gallon for propane and I'm also charged a $6.95 "Hazardous Mat Handling Fee" and a $9.00 "Transportation Fee" with each fill. These guys are doing everything they can to piss me off short of kicking the family dog.


I find some amusement with the political hacks especially in the NE that demonize the SPR, advocate the regular tapping of, and promote legislation to stop the dreadful practice of adding to the SPR because it causes the oil price to increase. As of this EIA report we have added 10 million barrels to the SPR over the last 52 weeks. Roughly 1/2 days worth of U.S. consumption, or about 1/10th of 1% of our annual (U.S.)consumption. Thats really pouring gas on the fire isn't it?

I was wondering if you could clarify your point. You criticize those who claim that adding to the SPR will drive up the price of oil. But the price of oil has been going up, which would seem to provide evidence for their position.

To have an impact on price you must have a significant action. An 1/10 of 1% increase in demand spread over 52 weeks is not significant. We have not even added to the SPR materially in a couple of months meanwhile prices have moved up significantly. In addition the SPR inventory is included in the total Petroleum inventory number therefore adding to the total inventory (SPR is approx.42% of total U.S. inventory) and therefore providing a pricing cushion (albeit in the case of the SPR more of a disaster mitigation cushion).
Commodity inventories are generally accepted to influence price movements. The declining nature of commodity inventories be they wheat, copper, iron ore, or oil are all influencing price movements as declining inventories increase the risk of shortages/running out in the future.

EIA Weekly Data

KansasCrude, I hope you do not trade commodities. You will lose your shirt with the ideas you are posting. Inventories have nothing to do with price. Commodity markets like all futures markets are a forward looking mechanism. Although the cash price is tied to the nearby futures, it is still a futures market and not a cash market. As the name implies it is the future price that is being discovered. It is not the situation with inventories the markets are looking at, but the prospect of change in the future and what the price should be to deal with that change. I have cited before that corn prices usually start going down about July when the bins are being emptied and inventories falling. The low generally comes just before harvest when the bins are nearly empty. After the harvest the bins are full (large inventory) and guess what usually happens: The price rises to draw stocks out of inventory and that is what is happening in the grain markets at the moment.

As to the question whether a small amount can have large affect on price the answer is definitely yes. The commodity futures markets are a zero sum game and for every short contract there must be a long and vice verse. If there is one buyer more than a seller the price must rise to settle the trade. Since the price for the whole commodity is set at the margin, the last trade even if small determines the price for all that type of commodity. I know it sounds crazy, but that is the way it is.

A 0.1% increase in demand due to the filling of the SPR will cause roughly a 1.5% increase in price.

A small amount of extra demand can't have a big effect on price in a market as liquid as WTI, except in after-hours trading, which is, of course, less liquid. (That's why you see big price moves overnight that get killed as soon as regular trading hours begin.) It takes a large increase in the aggressiveness of buyers to move the price much.

Well Practical, I must agree with Kansas Crude. A small amount could have a large effect, but such is very, very rare. Most often, by a very wide margin, a small purchase has a small effect on the market. The purchases for the SPR, over the months, has had, at best, a very tiny influence on the price of oil.

In the last four weeks there have been NO inputs to the SPR. Pray tell, how can that influence the price of oil? Inputs in the last year have been so tiny that any effect on the price of oil would not be significant. Certainly not enough to cause great losses by any oil trader.

Since the price for the whole commodity is set at the margin, the last trade even if small determines the price for all that type of commodity. I know it sounds crazy, but that is the way it is.

That is pure doubletalk. What does "set at margin" mean? I have traded commodities, some quite successfully, and I never heard that term. I know all about margins for back in 86 I was a commodities broker. Margins are set based on the price and volatility but margins never determine the price. The price is set by the current bid and ask price.

Remember the 2nd of January when one trader bought an oil contract at $100. His order was filled at that price but the previous and next trade was right back down where the bulk of contracts were trading, about sixty cents lower. The price of the last trade means nothing except that it was the last recoded trade. Well, it could mean more if, at that moment, the price was moving up or down sharply and that trade triggered forced sells, or buys, because of previous margin calls that were not met. Otherwise the price of the next contract is set by the current bid and ask price, whatever that may be.

No, you are simply wrong. In the last two or three years, since there has been very little additions to the SPR, it has had almost no effect on the price of oil.

Ron Patterson

I beg to differ you said "Inventories have nothing to do with price" The futures price discounts the past production, present inventories, and in the case of agricultural commodities what price do you have to have in order to meet expected demand given the ability to switch crops. I.E. do you plant Corn or Beans, Corn or Sorghum, Beans or Rice, Wheat or Corn, Oats or Wheat? One of the reasons we have such great volatility in the markets today is that we have low inventories and the futures price will send the signal to the producers on what to plant. Buyers and Producers are trying to influence that decision by how they evaluate the inventory situation, Ending Stocks, and Months Coverage(inventory)that sythesis along with their own internal profit/cost motive will determine how they buy or sell the Futures.

Actually I have traded commodities for over 25 years and have been successful enough to still be doing it. I have traded at the CBOT, KCBOT, Minneapolis Grain Exchange, NYMEX, the Coffee, Cocoa, and Sugar Exchange, and the Chicago Merc. I have hedged Cattle, Wheat, Sugar, Cocoa, Hogs, Soybeans, Oil, Meal, Oats, Corn, Gasoline, Currencies and Cheese. Also helped write the first dairy contracts traded in New York (went defunct due to low volume) and Chicago. I was also V.P. of commodities for a Fortune 50 company where I developed Cross Hedging strategies for Cattle and Hogs that they still use today.
So yes I do know a bit about commodities trading and you will not convince me that inventory has no impact on price. Your own example deals almost exclusively with the price/inventory mechanism.

Finally the Crop year low generally comes when the Harvest is IN the bins. The cash markets usually are at the Crop year highs right before the crop comes in. Why else would the producer/elevators be willing to carry the commodity? Inventory is expensive. Why are prices higher right before the harvest? Its because thats when uncertainty is still high and inventory the lowest. Summer grain futures are typically higher than the fall futures for the same reason. Caveats might be if you have extemely low inventories and a bin buster of a harvest on its way. Let me know if you have more questions

JEDDAH/ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Monday near-record Gulf Arab inflation would fall "significantly" were the oil producers to drop their dollar pegs, in contradiction to Saudi policy.

The pegs restrict the Gulf's ability to fight inflation by forcing them to shadow U.S. monetary policy at a time when the Fed is cutting rates to ward off recession and Gulf economies are surging on a near five-fold jump in oil prices since 2002.

Why would Greenspan tell the OPEC countries to remove their pegs to the dollar? If he's telling them that their inflation concerns are the fault of a dollar in freefall what sage advice might he have for Americans that are struglling with inflation at home? Get out of the dollar and it the Euro!

The Saudis understand perfectly well this thing, even without Alan pointing it out.

I think the real message is aimed at home: if Bernake does not do the right thing and does not tighten the monetary policy we are risking an all out flight from the dollar and a hyperinflation. So what if this temporary hurts economic growth? Is bubble-based hidden-inflation economic growth, a real growth? Who is benefiting from such "growth", but the hordes of speculators?

Perhaps someone who needs a job or wants to keep his her job and and is not living on a government handout.

Cash rich, property rich, government employed, those on living on public handouts can of course quite easily afford and prosper in a faltering economy.

Ah, yes.

Those who live on government handouts.

You refer, of course, to Halliburton, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Exxon, GE, and all of the rest of those welfare queens -- no doubt?

BOOK REVIEW: Re-Inventing Collapse, The Soviet Example And American Prospects, By Dmitry Orlov

Leanan, thanks a million for this link. I would likely not have heard of this book for months otherwise. I am pre-ordering it now. (It has not yet been released.)

The link led me to another of the author's articles on Carolyn Baker's web site:

Though I am not fond of Carolyn Baker's blog at all she did come up with a really good article here. I think this guy Dmitry Orlov is really onto something.

Orlov does make one embarrassing error:

We can be sure that the living will not always outnumber the dead, as they do now, and that the flow of humanity will reach a peak and start to ebb.

That is a popular myth that is far from the truth. The dead outnumber the living by a factor of about 15 to 1. However the rest of the article was so good, this slip up could be overlooked.

Warning: He is a doomer and the antidoomers will hate him.

Ron Patterson

Ron, I dropped this Orlov post in my favorites some time ago...In case you have not seen it...


His thinking is that the USSR was better prepared for financial collapse than the US (will be?)... I agree with most of what he says. Somehow, I do not see him as a doomer...More of a realist, like me. :)

River, thanks for the link. But Orlov is definitely a doomer. He realizes that the collapse is coming and more importantly he realizes that there is not a damn thing we can do about it:

Because, you see, there really is not much to be done, on a global scale, and most serious people sense that intuitively. The biggest "if" in the world is the one in sentences that start "If we all..." If we all reduce our ecological footprint to a sustainable level, then there wouldn't be anyone left out to increase theirs at our expense. An additional complication is that we cannot make such a huge reduction because the current human population of the Earth far exceeds its carrying capacity: a lot of people would have to die. If this sort of thing has to be part of our little project plan, then doing absolutely nothing becomes the more ethically acceptable option, albeit a distressingly impotent one.

Most importantly River, from the above we know that he clearly understands human nature. He knows that people do what the desires of the moment dictates that they do. "If we all do this" is laughable, because we will not do anything of the sort. We will do what gives us the most pleasure until reality bitch slaps us in the face. Then it will be too late, far to late.

Orlov is a doomer, most definitely a doomer, just like me.

Ron Patterson

Interesting that you defy both these 'If we all' statements like Orlov does, and are constantly getting snared in the conspiracy arguments. It's as if you didn't think people ever joined together to do anything cooperatively, (Like Voting, Banning CFC's, or Manipulating Energy Prices in California)

I'm not trying to start an argument, Ron, but I'm often perplexed that you go from very rational posts in so many instances, to these ones that have you hollering absolutes.. and it seems like something around this 'accomplishments of collective action' thing triggers an angry and less-than-objective side of your thinking..

"..there is not a damn thing we can do about it.." There is a LOT we can do to affect our immediate situations, and there are large groups of people who are working together to create energy-supplies, community solutions, regional networks, more resilient transportation setups etc.. but that doesn't mean that these will magically prevent what historians may call 'This Civilization' from fracturing, collapsing, dying.. But still, here on the ground, this is made to sound by doomers like one day we'll wake up, and everyone will just be screaming, dying, throwing spears into each others' backs..

That stuff will happen, here and there, now and then, and already is, and always has. And people DO join each other and accomplish both great and terrible things. Sometimes you sound very isolated, and I hope that's not the case.

Bob Fiske

"..there is not a damn thing we can do about it.." There is a LOT we can do to affect our immediate situations,

Damn Bob, that has been my argument all along. You cannot do a damn thing to save the world but you can do a lot to save your own ass. Do your own thing but do not expect the world to follow your example, because the world will do what it damn well pleases.

That is why statements like "If we all will only do this..." is so stupid. No, YOU do this, the world will follow its own bliss, right into oblivion. The world is sleepwalking into a nightmare. You can wake up but the world will not. You may scream and holler yourself silly but the world will not wake up.

There is not a damn thing you can do to stop the collapse Bob. You may or may not be successful in saving your own ass but you will not stop the collapse of the world.

Ron Patterson

No, I won't, but WE might.. (and I don't think the whole WORLD will collapse, anyway)

But we knew already our philosophies were different, and that's what this has come down to..

Best to you, Ron.

He's not only a doomer, his work is generally full of inaccuracies. (at least his work online, haven't read the book)

So, be prepared, Ron, for a whole host of embarrassing gaffs. Don't say you weren't warned.

Flynn, the "famous" analyst with Alaron Trading already announced in November 07, that he is going to short oil. After probably loosing quite a substantial money from his clients, now "It seems to be going beyond supply and demand."
A very smart statement, indeed. This means nothing else than he has no clue, what is going on in this market.
Flynn should take some advice from Jim Rogers and learn finally something about the fundamentals of the oil market.


Here is a graphic of horsepower and fuel economy changes for light vehicles in the past 30 some years. Horsepower has doubled since the early 80's, while fuel economy has declined. This is part of the explanation for why everyone feels entitled to drive 75-85 on the freeways.

Wind Turbine in Denmark "explodes" ... for Video click link under picture.

Audio is in Norwegian, but the video speaks it own tale. This video is from Friday, another similar collapse happened Saturday, also in Denmark the voice says...

Video : WindTurbine in Denmark "explodes"
This is a fairly strong NIMBY argument against WTs

It's spinning is too fast, so I guess it's another gearbox/emergency-brake out of order(!) Its collapse cause is not elaborated by the voice.

Do tell us how many sq mm were contaminated with lethal radioactive turbine parts.

Cop that on the back of your head and I don't think you will be worried about whether it is radioactive!

The worry is of course for the operator that the failure might be systemic, which could mean hundreds of turbines at risk - standards have not been easy to keep up in the recent very fast build.

ok Thomas you win ! Remove the B from NIMBY.

But the complexities in the NACELLE are real and thereby the Achilles of WTs.
And to speak frankly, WTs costs are camouflaged big time by cheap fossils – we are not getting around that – regardless of how many times this is discussed (!)

(this is not another WT discussion)

I work with an expert on wind turbines - gearbox failure is by far the most common fault that occurs. Some wind turbines don't have any gearbox, but I'm not sure what percentage they make up. This is a worrying development though.

Amazing that the video camera just happened to be there right when that happened.

More likely there was warning of impending failure.
The video is great destructive testing data source.
Sadly we seem not to be beyond late test phase.

Do large WTs have 'feathering' props? That is, are the props variable pitch as on large aircraft engine props? If they are variable pitch then it would be a simple matter to have a hydraulic governor coupled to the shaft to limit prop speed. In full feather mode the prop should stand still as on an aircraft. Variable pitch props are old technology, there is no need to re-invent them.

River -

As best I can tell from their outward looks, the large three-bladed wind turbines do not appear to have variable-pitch blades, as the blades look to be solidly affixed to the hub. While variable-pitch would theoretically be a good idea, these blades are so large that going with a variable-pitch configuration would probably entail greatly increased mechanical complexity and cost, as well as some serious structural headaches. As it is, the gearboxes on these things are huge. (The aircraft industry encountered many headaches in designing large variable-pitch propellers, particularly counter-rotating props.)

I suspect that the recent failure in question was probably the result of fatigue-induced cracks and/or a failure of the speed brake to slow the blades down in a wind exceeding the safe design speed. Once one blade goes, the whole thing gets out of balance, causing rapid massive failure.

Much of the operating experience with large wind turbines is in the North Sea and the North Atlantic off the British Isles. While these locations often get fierce storms, I don't think they are prone to anything like a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. So, for those locations that do get hurricanes (such as the US Atlantic coast), I would have some concerns about the survivability of these large wind turbines, though you can design something to survive almost anything if you are will to pay enough for it.

I drive through a WT field every day to/from work. There are some recent large ones. I have seen them with the blades feathered (if that is the right term for rotated so they won't catch any wind).
It is possible that this is a pretty recent feature.

here's the slow motion version... http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=8be_1203819244

This is a fairly strong NIMBY argument against WTs

Hate to rain on YOUR parade here - but most places have a 'can not place a turbine within X feet of buildings' rules in place.

So - care to show how the local rules and ideas of placing the turbine near people are being violated?


I read where a farmer got something like $500 per month for every wind turbine that they put on his property and he had over 70 and was planneing on 70 more. At $6000 per year with 70 turbines, that is $420k per year just for letting them use his land. Now I hope that the cows are not near any of those if they come apart, but I guess that would be a statistic that you would take into consideration before signing.

Now I hope that the cows are not near any of those if they come apart,

If the wind is blowing that hard - what work will be done outside? And what self-respecting animal won't be seeking shelter?

The original snark was about the 'radioactive parts' - the wind turbine parts when not moving have a limited ability for lethality.

but I guess that would be a statistic that you would take into consideration before signing.


Hello TODers,

Time will tell if we succeed in techno-magic to keep the lights on, or if most of us will have to enjoy the nightly darkness and chill.

But will the continual need for the huge 10:1 ERoEI bang from I-NPK trump the luxury of heat and illumination in the Global Resource War long run? Burning natgas for heat seems so wasteful compared to using it for Haber-Bosch [N]itrogen, and there are NO SUBSTITUTES to P & K for optimizing photosynthesis.

Morocco, and their huge [P]hosphate reserves, will be increasing Peak Phosphorus important going forward, especially as North America goes into Phosphate deficit [see the UN FAO posting in yesterday's DB]. Are the global PTB subtly moving their 'Life's Bottleneck' chess control pieces? Recall my earlier posting that detailed how a postPeak African-Asian NPK consortium could be much more powerful than the current FF-OPEC.

Iran and Morocco sign five MoUs

Ma'zuz, for his part, called for speedy implementation of the agreements reached by the joint commission, saying that they provide a favorable environment for further expansion of bilateral trade and cooperation between the two countries.

Oil, fresh and dried fruits, petrochemical products and ceramics are Iran's main exports to Morocco, while natural calcium phosphate, phosphoric acid, and some auto parts make up its major imports from the North African country.
Iran trading FFs for mining P could potentially be a very powerful combo. Will Iran eventually premiere their nukes as the Mo-rock-oh defensive shield? Will China & Russia get into the game too?

Or is AFRICOM in the geo-strategic lead with moves to remake the military into the defacto postPeak Phosphorus Barbary Pirates?

A position paper of the National Conference of Black Lawyers

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) concludes that the mission of Africa Command (Africom) infringes on the sovereignty of African states due to the particularity of Africa’s history and Africa’s current economic and political relationship to the United States.

Further, Africom is designed to violate international law standards that protect rights to self determination and that prohibit unprovoked military aggression.

Africom is also likely to become a device for the foreign domination and exploitation of Africa’s natural resources to the detriment of people who are indigenous to the African continent.

NCBL opposes Africom in the strongest terms and calls upon people of African descent in the U.S. to avoid military service to ensure that they will not be ordered to carry out missions on behalf of Africom, or any military unit or program engaged in violating international law, committing crimes against humanity, or committing crimes of any kind that threaten the peace of any continent.

It has been suggested that the Bush Administration actually has three primary items on its agenda:
1) making Africa another front in the Administration’s war on “terrorism”;
2) protecting U.S. access to African oil, mineral wealth and other raw materials; and
3) putting the U.S. in a better position to compete with China for domination of Africa’s resources.

Can the US successfully trade Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan to pickaxe and wheelbarrow the phosphate in the blazing sun, or will Morocco instead prefer FFs in trade for mining P?

US Africom chief says role goes beyond terrorism
Wed 27 Feb 2008, 14:13 GMT

General William 'Kip' Ward said the aim of Africom went well beyond simply fighting terrorism.

"There are other threats such a piracy at sea, arms and drugs trafficking, which have a massive negative effect on populations," Ward said during a conference on conflict resolution and prevention in Mali's capital Bamako.

"Countries are asking for our assistance. It could be that that comes in the form of training, joint exercises, our logistics support," he told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, organised by West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

More Links for your consideration:

World War 4 Report
African leaders, civil society reject Pentagon's Africa Command

Jane's Defense & Intelligence [warning: a subsidiary of IHS/CERA]
"This notion of militarising a continent is just not there," said Gen Ward. Rather, he said, AFRICOM represents a "historical opportunity" for a "sustained security engagement".

"We cannot ignore the notion that AFRICOM will be used to prop up friendly regimes given how this has happened in the past," said Dr David Francis, director of Bradford University's Africa Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Recall my prior posting that Moroccan friendship dates back to Thomas Jefferson. We don't need to militarize all of Africa, maybe just a 'sustained phosphate security engagement' with Morocco is all that is required?

As usual: I encourage my fellow TODers to elaborate or refute my brief postings.

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

'There are other threats such as priacy at sea, arms and drug trafficing which have a massive negative effect on populations.'

Well, Gen. Kip Ward should know if he is vaugely familiar with US History. The US is the biggest trafficer of drugs and arms in the world and have been for a long time. Two outta three aint bad, huh Kip?

Did Gen Kip say anything about all those furrenirs sitting on our resoruces?

Thanks for setting 'em up Bob... :)

Hello River,

Thxs for responding. Yep, since we know potash needs to go to Africa and elsewhere, and Mo-rock-oh P needs to come to North America, military piracy sealane control that merely skims a profit portion from this transoceanic exchange can be extremely lucrative. No violence required if controls and protocols are adhered, but as usual, that is the damn tricky part. As posted before: the historic Guano Wars will be a nothing to the P & K War.

I picture a potential Mo-rock-oh & Cascadian territoriality linkage for P & K dominance, and sealane control for political distributive logistics. Even far postPeak, if the Cascadian Earthmarines are successful in biosolar habitat protection and sere transmutation: tall wooden clipper ships will again move the I-NPK & O-NPK under the purview of boats like Old Ironsides.

Excellent summary of the evolution of the current financial situation


Hi Perpetual,

This link has a "mature" warning, which I'm going to heed (just have to). Is there any chance you might share (in "PG-rated" language) what it conveys (that you wanted us to get)?

Many thanks.

Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency

A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers, the grid agency said on Wednesday.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said a decline in wind energy production in west Texas occurred at the same time evening electric demand was building as colder temperatures moved into the state.

So much for the claims that wind can be integrated up to 20% before interruptability becomes a problem.

So much for the claims that wind can be integrated up to 20% before interruptability becomes a problem.

And the grid shutdown in Florida effecting the fission plants shows how fission plants for baseload doesn't work.

(Like it or not - people who are used to power at the flick of a switch had better start thinking about other ways of existence.)

I think the intermitency for wind is quite a bit larger than the intermitency for nukes.

Yea, hows that working out:

* December 12, 1952 — INES Level needed - Chalk River, Ontario - Reactor core damaged
o A reactor shutoff rod failure, combined with several operator errors, led to a major power excursion of more than double the reactor's rated output at AECL's NRX reactor. The operators purged the reactor's heavy water moderator, and the reaction stopped in under 30 seconds. A cover gas system failure led to hydrogen explosions, which severely damaged the reactor core. The fission products from approximately 30 kg of uranium were released through the reactor stack. Irradiated light-water coolant leaked from the damaged coolant circuit into the reactor building; some 4,000 cubic meters were pumped via pipeline to a disposal area to avoid contamination of the Ottawa River. Subsequent monitoring of surrounding water sources revealed no contamination. No immediate fatalities or injuries resulted from the incident; a 1982 followup study of exposed workers showed no long-term health effects. Future U.S. President Jimmy Carter, then a nuclear engineer in the US Navy, was among the cleanup crew.[1][2]
* May 24, 1958 — INES Level needed - Chalk River, Ontario - Fuel damaged
o Due to inadequate cooling a damaged uranium fuel rod caught fire and was torn in two as it was being removed from the core at the NRU reactor. The fire was extinguished, but not before radioactive combustion products contaminated the interior of the reactor building and to a lesser degree, an area surrounding the laboratory site. Over 600 people were employed in the clean-up.[3][4]
* July 26, 1959 — INES Level needed - Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California - Partial meltdown
o A partial core meltdown took place when the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) experienced a power excursion that caused severe overheating of the reactor core, resulting in the melting of one-third of the nuclear fuel and significant releases of radioactive gases. [5]

[edit] 1960s

* October 5, 1966 — INES Level needed - Monroe, Michigan - Partial meltdown

* A sodium cooling system malfunction caused a partial meltdown at the Enrico Fermi demonstration nuclear breeder reactor. The accident was attributed to a zirconium fragment that obstructed a flow-guide in the sodium cooling system. Two of the 105 fuel assemblies melted during the incident, but no contamination was recorded outside the containment vessel. [6]

* May 1967 — INES Level needed - Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland - Partial meltdown

* Graphite debris partially blocked a fuel channel causing a fuel element to melt and catch fire at the Chapelcross nuclear power station. Contamination was confined to the reactor core. The core was repaired and restarted in 1969, operating until the plant's shutdown in 2004.[7] [8].

* January 21, 1969 — INES Level needed - Lucens, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland - Explosion

* A total loss of coolant led to a power excursion and explosion of an experimental nuclear reactor. The underground location of this reactor acted like a containment building and prevented any outside contamination. The cavern was heavily contaminated and was sealed. No injuries or fatalities resulted. [9][10]

[edit] 1970s

* February 22, 1977 — INES Level 4 - Jaslovské Bohunice, Czechoslovakia - Fuel damaged

* Operators neglected to remove moisture absorbing materials from a fuel rod assembly before loading it into the KS 150 reactor at power plant A-1. The accident resulted in damaged fuel integrity, extensive corrosion damage of fuel cladding and release of radioactivity into the plant area. The plant was decommissioned following this accident. [11]

* March 28, 1979 — INES Level 5 - Middletown, Pennsylvania - Partial meltdown

* Equipment failures and worker mistakes contributed to a loss of coolant and a partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor. This is the worst commercial nuclear accident in the United States. While the reactor was extensively damaged on-site radiation exposure was under 100 millirems (less than annual exposure due to natural sources), with exposure of 1 millirem (10 µSv) to approximately 2 million people. There were no fatalities. Follow up radiological studies predict at most one long-term cancer fatality. [12][13][14]

[edit] 1980s

* March 13, 1980 - INES Level 4 - Orléans, France - Nuclear materials leak

* A brief power excursion in Reactor A2 led to a rupture of fuel bundles and a minor release (8 x 1010 Bq) of nuclear materials at the Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant. The reactor was repaired and continued operation until its decommissioning in 1992. [15]

* March, 1981 — INES Level 2 - Tsuruga, Japan - Overexposure of workers

* More than 100 workers were exposed to doses of up to 155 millirem per day radiation during repairs of a nuclear power plant, violating the company's limit of 100 millirems (1 mSv) per day. [16]

* September 23, 1983 — INES Level 4 - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Accidental criticality

* An operator error during a fuel plate reconfiguration in an experimental test reactor led to an excursion of 3×1017 fissions at the RA-2 facility. The operator absorbed 2000 rad (20 Gy) of gamma and 1700 rad (17 Gy) of neutron radiation which killed him two days later. Another 17 people outside of the reactor room absorbed doses ranging from 35 rad (0.35 Gy) to less than 1 rad (0.01 Gy).[17] pg103[18]

* April 26, 1986 — INES Level 7 - Prypiat, Ukraine (then USSR) - Power excursion, explosion, complete meltdown

* A mishandled reactor safety test led to an uncontrolled power excursion, causing a severe steam explosion, meltdown and release of radioactive material at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant located approximately 100 kilometers north-northwest of Kiev. Approximately fifty fatalities resulted from the accident and the immediate aftermath most of these being cleanup personnel. An additional nine fatal cases of thyroid cancer in children in the Chernobyl area have been attributed to the accident. The explosion and combustion of the graphite reactor core spread radioactive material over much of Europe. 100,000 people were evacuated from the areas immediately surrounding Chernobyl in addition to 300,000 from the areas of heavy fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. An "Exclusion Zone" was created surrounding the site encompassing approximately 1,000 mi² (3,000 km²) and deemed off-limits for human habitation for an indefinite period. Several studies by governments, UN agencies and environmental groups have estimated the consequences and eventual number of casualties. Their findings are subject to controversy. See Chernobyl disaster.

* May 4, 1986 – INES Level needed - Hamm-Uentrop, Germany - Fuel damaged

* A spherical fuel pebble became lodged in the pipe used to deliver fuel elements to the reactor at an experimental 300-megawatt THTR-300 HTGR. Attempts by an operator to dislodge the fuel pebble damaged its cladding, releasing radiation detectable up to two kilometers from the reactor. [19]

* November 24, 1989 — INES Level needed - Greifswald, Germany (then East Germany) - Fuel damaged

* Operators disabled three of six cooling pumps to test emergency shutoffs. Instead of the expected automatic shutdown a fourth pump failed causing excessive heating which damaged ten fuel rods. The accident was attributed to sticky relay contacts and generally poor construction in the Soviet-built reactor. [20]

[edit] 1990s

* April 6, 1993 — INES Level 4 - Tomsk, Russia - Explosion

* A pressure buildup led to an explosive mechanical failure in a 34 cubic meter stainless steel reaction vessel buried in a concrete bunker under building 201 of the radiochemical works at the Tomsk-7 Siberian Chemical Enterprise plutonium reprocessing facility. The vessel contained a mixture of concentrated nitric acid, uranium (8757 kg), plutonium (449 g) along with a mixture of radioactive and organic waste from a prior extraction cycle. The explosion dislodged the concrete lid of the bunker and blew a large hole in the roof of the building, releasing approximately 6 GBq of Pu 239 and 30 TBq of various other radionuclides into the environment. The contamination plume extended 28 km NE of building 201, 20 km beyond the facility property. The small village of Georgievka (pop. 200) was at the end of the fallout plume, but no fatalities, illnesses or injuries were reported. The accident exposed 160 on-site workers and almost two thousand cleanup workers to total doses of up to 50 mSv (the threshold limit for radiation workers is 100 mSv per 5 years)[21]. [22] [23]

* June, 1999 — INES Level needed - Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan - Control rod malfunction

* Operators attempting to insert one control rod during an inspection neglected procedure and instead withdrew three causing a 15 minute uncontrolled sustained reaction at the number 1 reactor of Shika Nuclear Power Plant. The Hokuriku Electric Company who owned the reactor did not report this incident and falsified records, covering it up until March, 2007. [24]

* September 30, 1999 — INES Level 4 - Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan - Accidental criticality

* Workers put uranyl nitrate solution containing about 16.6 kg of uranium, which exceeded the critical mass, into a precipitation tank at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tokai-mura northeast of Tokyo, Japan. The tank was not designed to dissolve this type of solution and was not configured to prevent eventual criticality. Three workers were exposed to (neutron) radiation doses in excess of allowable limits. Two of these workers died. 116 other workers received lesser doses of 1 msV or greater though not in excess of the allowable limit. For more details, see Tokaimura nuclear accident and 5 yen coin. [25] [26] [27] [28]

[edit] 2000s

* April 10, 2003 — INES Level 3 - Paks, Hungary - Fuel damaged

* Partially spent fuel rods undergoing cleaning in a tank of heavy water ruptured and spilled fuel pellets at Paks Nuclear Power Plant. It is suspected that inadequate cooling of the rods during the cleaning process combined with a sudden influx of cold water thermally shocked fuel rods causing them to split. Boric acid was added to the tank to prevent the loose fuel pellets from achieving criticality. Ammonia and hydrazine were also added to absorb iodine-131. [29], [30]

* April 19, 2005 — INES Level 3 - Sellafield, UK - Nuclear material leak

* Twenty metric tons of uranium and 160 kilograms of plutonium dissolved in 83,000 liters of nitric acid leaked over several months from a cracked pipe into a stainless steel sump chamber at the Thorp nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. The partially processed spent fuel was drained into holding tanks outside the plant. [31].

* November 2005 — INES Level needed - Braidwood, Illinois - Nuclear material leak

* Tritium contamination of groundwater was discovered at Exelon's Braidwood station. Groundwater off site remains within safe drinking standards though the NRC is requiring the plant to correct any problems related to the release.

* March 6, 2006 — INES Level needed - Erwin, Tennessee - Nuclear material leak

* Thirty-five liters of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during transfer into a lab at Nuclear Fuel Services Erwin Plant. The incident caused a seven-month shutdown and a required public hearing on the licensing of the plant.[32] [33]

the intermitency for wind is quite a bit larger than the intermitency for nukes

Actually not. Adding wind to the grid requires no additional spinning reserve. Adding a nuke means a massive increase in spinning reserves.

The California energy crisis was tightly linked with two nukes being shut down, one for refueling and the other "unscheduled" for repairs.

Nukes are very large chunks of power that can suddenly go off-line without warning. Wind is small chunks that can be somewhat predicted by weather forecasts.


Alan, have you got full details about wind not requiring additional spinning reserve?

I am not saying it isn't so, just that it is very unexpected, to me at least, and I would like to look at it more fully.

I would also have thought that in practise the nuclear reactors are in such large blocks of power, that typically they would not in fact seek to back up with additional spinning reserve, but would instead accept the outage if it went down?

That is not good either, of course, but would be a rather different proposition.

I confirmed this with a Austin Energy employee (city owned utility in Austin Texas, part of ERCOT, the electrical island of Texas and a major wind buyer) a xouple of years ago.

This makes very good sense. Geographically diverse wind gains or loses generation substantially slower than than load naturally changes, and any major shift that weather reports do not predict can be accommodated with natural gas fired turbines (15 to 20 minutes from cold start. steam section of combined cycle to follow).

Small generators where losing one or two has no impact.

OTOH, one simply does NOT accept blackouts when nukes go off-line. ERCOT maintains enough spinning reserve in North Texas to replace Comanche Peak 1 or 2 (1+ GW) going off-line without warning and enough in South Texas to accept the loss of either South Texas Nuclear Project 1 or 2 (1+ GW). Before Comanche Peak and STNP, the largest units were about 600 MW, and the new nukes required substantial additions to spinning reserves (the non-nuke utilities were not happy).

My understanding is that the spinning reserves of North Texas will be used if both STNP 1 & 2 go off-line at once, and those of South Texas will be used in both Comanche Peak 1 & 2 go off-line (tornado goes through switchyard for example).

France needs to keep enough fossil or hydro spinning reserve to accommodate the loss of their nukes.

Hope this helps,