Drumbeat, July 26, 2009

OPEC braces for sharp drop in oil prices

Why is OPEC expecting a sharp drop in oil prices? First, much of the rise in oil prices has followed the rally on Wall Street. Investors reasoned that higher stock prices means that business is doing better and hence a need for more oil, and prices rise.

Not so fast. Business demand for oil is weak, and the consumer got clobbered by the recession and is holding back spending money. So the classic relationship between the stock market and oil that investors follow is not there this year.

Assembly Votes Down Governor’s Offshore Oil Drilling Proposal

The plan would have opened up reserves off Santa Barbara's coast

The California Assembly on Friday defeated Gov. Schwarzenegger’s offshore oil drilling proposal with a 43-28 vote.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, led the charge in fighting the plan, which would have allowed the first new drilling lease in state waters since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

Exxon sees natural gas potential with new drilling technique

"We're about 15 minutes away from a new frac being born," Randy Tolman, Exxon's project coordinator for the Piceance Basin, shouts over the noise. He invented this faster method of fracturing, or "fracing," the underground layers of rock and sand to unlock natural gas.

Exxon aims to export the new process to the unconventional natural gas reserves it is accumulating around the world. Drilling for more natural gas could make Exxon a lot of money as Americans demand cleaner fuel because natural gas doesn't emit as much pollution or greenhouse gases as oil and coal when burned.

Scams pose as 'Cash for Clunkers' program

Con artists stepped into the information void, and scores of unofficial "Cash for Clunkers" Web sites began popping up.

Many claim -- falsely -- that consumers must preregister to participate in the program. Some ask for addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, none of which is required. Others promise to put consumers in touch with "authorized" dealers.

"Nobody should be fooled into registering or giving out personal information," Cordray said. "If anyone asks for that, it's a scam."

'$20 Per Gallon' by Christopher Steiner

Steiner has adopted a nicely readable structure for the book. Starting at $4 a gallon, each chapter tracks what will happen when gas hits a particular price, escalating by $2 until he gets to $20. He visits an airplane graveyard in order to explain how $8-a-gallon gas will crush the airline industry. At $14, he checks out an abandoned Wal-Mart "ghost box" and imagines a grim end to the car-dominated exurb. "Stores will return to the downtowns of yore as small towns' populations . . . return to the small-town infrastructures that their grandparents and great-grandparents built."

By $18 a gallon, high-speed railroads serve our travel needs, and by $20 a gallon, we just can't do oil anymore. And like a lot of people who've studied our post-oil energy options, he comes down on the side of nuclear. Eventually, he's replaced transatlantic flights with leisurely ocean passages akin to the grand liners of yesteryear. Except these new Queen Marys will run on nuclear reactors. Personal cars will be a thing of the past. Citizens of the future will wonder why we ever thought we needed them.

New UMD program will train students in energy management

The idea is less about creating new energy sources than it is about helping companies, nonprofits and others retrofit buildings, make decisions about the best timing for implementing change, and determine what makes the best economic sense for their organization.

Municipalities are beginning to seek funds to help them make changes, but many don't have the staff or the money to pay consultants to gather data or prepare reports, according to Jennings. For example, under the Green Communities Act enacted last year, municipalities can receive technical and financial assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, but they have to produce reports about where they are in terms of energy use.

That is where students who are trained in energy management and knowledgeable about subjects such as carbon credits could help.

Algae: The next biofuel bet

"We do not harvest milk from cows by grinding them up and extracting the milk," wrote theoretical biologist Richard Gordon, a professor at the University of Manitoba, in a recently published research paper about diatoms, a type of single-cell algae. "Instead, we let them secrete milk at their own pace, and selectively breed the cattle and alter their environment to maximize the rate of milk secretion. Perhaps we could do the same with diatoms."

Algenol is doing exactly that, but it's not alone. Catilin Inc. of Iowa is taking a similar approach, but like most others is focusing on oil production instead of ethanol.

Energy efficiency incentives likely to grow

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a new generation of mortgages designed to encourage energy efficiency is being rolled out, starting with Federal Housing Administration loans that offer 5% larger mortgages to people who plan on making energy-efficiency improvements.

For example, if you qualify for a $300,000 FHA mortgage, the FHA might now be able offer you an additional $15,000 if the extra money is used to substantially lower the property's annual energy consumption.

Ending oily energy plays

Producers and big users of oil and gas are nervously watching as federal regulators -- hearing complaints of backdoor deals that drive gas prices through the roof -- begin examining ways to crack down on speculation in commodity markets.

The study by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission begins with hearings Tuesday and could result in new limits on the number of futures contracts that investors can hold in oil and other energy commodities.

Energy Campus to Generate Ideas

According to the plan, the Navy Yard is already becoming an energy campus where businesses, academics and Navy engineers congregate and share knowledge about power systems. They hope that new commercial ventures - spin-offs from the Navy's research into alternative-energy sources or smart-grid technology - will emerge from such a creative environment.

The energy-campus promoters are not thinking small. They liken the Navy facility to a national laboratory that can become a regional hub for related developments. They believe that energy-related research and development might one day do for Philadelphia what computers did for Silicon Valley.

GE Oil and Gas to lay off 93 from Oshkosh site

The company says 93 jobs will be cut by mid-September. That's about one-third of the manufacturing facility's 270 employees.

Human resources director Jim Mutsch says the move was prompted by difficult business conditions in the oil and gas industry.

The Oshkosh facility makes high-speed compressors for refineries and pipelines that are mainly used in the natural-gas industry.

Parnell positions himself as fiscal and social conservative

FAMILIAR IDEOLOGY: He has not publicly disagreed with Palin on any issues in two and a half years.

Wind farms: Local writer visits one

The four turbines in his fields were turning as we talked, but if I had not seen them on the way in, I would not have known they were there. The turbines atop the 260-foot tall towers were turning all the time but even when we stopped less than 500 feet away, the only sound we heard was the wind crossing a field. The rotors were turning but there was no "swoosh."

Will said his house is about 1,500 feet from the closest turbine, as are his barns and animals, but there has been no effect on him, his family or his animals since the turbines went into operation eight years ago.

From yesterday's DB article on lithium:

Besides, while engines constantly consume oil, a lithium battery can power a car for years

I'm so tired of this fallacy. Batteries do not power anything. The part that those who believe we will simply continue the car culture with EVs miss is right there. Fossil fuels already contain the energy, so you get to skip the major steps of generating and transferring the energy. With an EV, you must do both of these continually in real time. It's a huge difference, and makes the personal automobile - at least as we have used them - very much more difficult that it was just burning the fuel directly.

Could you post a link? I didn't find the article you mentioned.

Sorry, it was from the July 23rd DB - I must have had an old page up. The full article is here: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/07/23/will-electric-cars-ignite-a-lithium-b...

The lithium in Bolivia might be likened to heavy sour crude oil, too: Lithium Batteries: Nothing But Illusion -- Seeking Alpha

A friend of mine who has been a geologist working in South America for nearly fifty years pointed out to me yesterday that he was astounded by the lack of mention in any of the recent analytical articles, such as the one by Reuters, that Bolivian deposits are, to use his precise term, “lousy.”

Of course the SOP for "Green" Energy to power those EVs is wind/solar/geo. But these are so late to the game: 2007 US stats for energy sources:

Renewable 6.72%
Biomassc 3.56%
Biofuels 1.00%
Waste 0.42%
Wood Derived Fuels 2.13%
Geothermal 0.35%
Hydroelectric Conventional 2.42%
Solar/PV 0.08%
Wind 0.31%

I'm sure someone has calculated how much coal/NG we're saving with turbines and the like. One the transportation side, all of the AFVs in use in the US - CNG, LPG, EV, hydrogen - add up to savings of ca. 22 kb/d. Got bicycle?

What you are saying is closely related to Jeff Vail's recent post saying that to replace the oil we are losing by depletion, investment in renewables would have to be an order of magnitude higher than current spending.

My thought that goes with this is to make an investment of this order of magnitude doable, the investment actually has to have a reasonable return, on its own merits, not as the result of some government subsidy, because such a huge amount of subsidy would be needed that it would be a problem (especially if one also considers the subsidies needed for things like new electric car research and reasonable price).

What you are saying is closely related to Jeff Vail's recent post saying that to replace the oil we are losing by depletion, investment in renewables would have to be an order of magnitude higher than current spending.

Which means we are simply going to have to get over this idea of substituting renewables for FFs on a 1:1 basis. We are going to have to learn to get by on a lot less energy, wherever it comes from. No alternative.

Observes and Dude,
The relevant figure is the renewable portion of electricity production not total energy, since electric cars run on kWh's not BTU's present in oil or coal.
Renewable energy accounts of 13% of US electricity production and nuclear 21%. Since those 2007 figures wind has more than doubled to 2% of total electricity production( EIA April 2009 figures).

Jeff is measuring loss of oil energy by depletion, renewable and nuclear energy only has to replace about one tenth of this if you include refinery losses, transportation losses for oil, and 75-85% losses when using gasoline in vehicles. Compare this to wind or nuclear, grid losses of 7% and charging losses 5-10% and electric motor losses 10%.
Jeff has not made allowance for improved efficiency of oil use while it is depleting.
So I would agree with your statement:
Which means we are simply going to have to get over this idea of substituting renewables for FFs on a 1:1 basis. We are going to have to learn to get by on a lot less energy, wherever it comes from.

We will be substituting ICE vehicles and VMT with EV's on a 1:1 basis but not on BTU or MJ contained in oil with the same MJ in electricity.
I don't think this will be a difficult learning experience, remembering to plug-in is more like learning to take out the garbage bin, most can master it quickly but a few seem to have problems( the same ones who run out of gas on the free-way).

Most recent Electric Power Monthly gives 11.1% for all renewables, with 7.0% of that hydro, in contrast to your 13% - are you going by memory, or using a rolling average? One might calculate a "deployment loss" owing to all of the externialities involved with intermittent energy sources scaling up, to counterbalance the greater efficiency you'd get at the wheel - assuming manufacturers could sell something that would cut into the petroleum industry's downstream sales in such a big way, to name just one shortcoming.

At any rate the pittance of the US vehicle fleet taken up by alternative fuels is what I'm concerned about, like most everyone else here. Don't know where your seeing this 1:1 parity between ICE/EV; hybrid sales in June were 3.05% of the total, 4.19% of that Highlanders that are merely up to CAFE.

EIA data for April 2009 in Net Generation 1.1 all sectors, actually 12.7%
If you use rolling averages you miss the 35% increase in wind over the last year.

Good point about US vehicle fleet, with almost no sales of electric or PHEV at present. This is going to change rapidly, once GM, Toyota, Nissan, VW, etc start to sell vehicles from 2011 on.
The argument Jeff is making is that it will take X10 present renewable investment to provide the energy when in fact will only require re-directing present investment in FF to go into renewable energy. The second is over-estimating the additional investment in building PHEV versus ICE vehicles.

The deployment losses will be the same as now, transmission losses, all the other infrastructure is in place, 110v/15A outlets at garages, carports.

"Don't know where your seeing this 1:1 parity between ICE/EV"
If the US has a sudden loss of oil, the conversion could be as fast as all US auto plants can switch production lines to PHEV and EV. If they could convert from car to tank production in 1 year in 1942, should be easier to produce essentially the same cars with an electric drive train and batteries and crank production up to 20 million vehicles per year. The Sherman tank was only on paper in 1940, and yet was in production by 1943 on the same lines that were used to manufacture cars. It may mean the government finances this( they are already) takes ownership ( they have already) and gives a big subsidy( as they are doing) or even leasing to owners.
If not an extreme emergency the change will be driven by consumer demand, the level of subsidies($7,000 to $10,000) the price of gasoline, the tax structure of fuel. How long did it take to switch production to SUV's? Does it matter, we know what is possible if really needed? If you are convinced that we are going to run out of oil, what's a faster alternative besides replacing ICE vehicles with EV?

As I've noted elsewhere, whatever efficiency gain that may exist, we only realize it where we're using renewables to generate electricity to replace existing fossil-fuel powered electricity uses. That's a comparatively small portion of our electricity use, and a very small portion of our current oil use. Instead, the vast majority of oil (which my target "transition" rate was intended to replace) is used for either heating or transportation. In those uses, the efficiency gain will be more than negated by the energy needed to convert our existing liquid fuels infrastructure into an energy-powered infrastructure. So, in your example of the electric car that runs on KWh, it's also important to not that this electric car doesn't currently exist (except in minute quantities). What doe exist is an ICE car, which can't run on these KWhs. The energy required to build the new electric cars that can run on these KWhs (and other examples of converting our liquid fuels infrastructure to electric infrastructure) will, in most cases, represent far more energy use than whatever is eventually gained by virtue of the absence of a conversion efficiency. Once this transition is completed the math changes somewhat, but my analysis was focused on the challenge (I'd argue near impossibility) of completing this transition in the first place...

That said, I whole heartedly agree with the statement that we'll need to get used to living on a lot less energy. My series on renewables transition is intended to point out the impracticability of any "transition" that intends to maintain BAU and current levels of energy consumption. One area where our levels of consumption will need to change dramatically will be in personal transportation--probably rendering the electric car discussion largely moot.

"As I've noted elsewhere, whatever efficiency gain that may exist, we only realize it where we're using renewables to generate electricity to replace existing fossil-fuel powered electricity uses. That's a comparatively small portion of our electricity use, and a very small portion of our current oil use"
I agree that only a very small part of oil use is for electricity generation, however, 70% of electricity is generated from FF so any additional renewable energy has the capability to replace FF use.
Furthermore, about 800,000 boe/day of heating oil could be replaced by electric heat pumps.

As far as cars that run on gasoline, how much more energy would be required to increase the battery capacity of a Prius to a plug-in Prius? Toyota's plans are to have a 5kWh Li battery replacing the 1.4 kWh Ni battery. Even the more radical Chevy Volt isn't that different to a comparable sized ICE only vehicle. The initial costs may be higher, but that's for fairly low volume production and over sizing the battery needed to drive 40 miles on battery charge.

The energy used to produce a standard ICE vehicle is equivalent to 11%the energy( on a CO2 basis) with 89% accounted by fuel(68%directly, 21% refining and transport). SO even if a PHEV or EV required twice s much energy( very unlikely as the price is not twice as high) the EV is going to recover that extra energy within about 12-18 months, a good FF reduction on FF use(>10:1).

So a PHEV driver is over the lifetime of the vehicle( which will be longer than ICE vehicles) is going to be using about 20-30% of the energy of a driver with an equivalent ICE vehicle, and two thirds of that could be from renewable energy. Since the US recycles 98% of auto steel, most of the remaining FF energy would be for synthetic rubber tires(NG), the energy used by employees( if they don't drive EV and use NG at home) and for the small amount of gasoline use in PHEV's and this could be replaced by ethanol using NG and electricity for ethanol inputs.


WRT electric cars, a personal note. The town government where I worked procured a GEM NEV a few months ago. We now use it for trips to the post office and the bank and for official business around town, instead of driving ICE vehicles. This has been a great success for us, it does work great for the applications to which we are putting it. It is true that we cannot drive it outside of town. Such trips during the workday are relatively uncommon anyway; if we had better mass transit service, the need for ICE vehicles for this purpose would be eliminated.

We still need ICE vehicles for our police and public works departments. Public works mostly uses diesel trucks; I am assuming that they will eventually all be diesels, and will be fueled with B100 biodiesel (we already use B20). A lot of development will be needed before a suitable PHEV is even available for police work, I fear. Few vehicles get as much use and abuse as a police car, and few vehicles are up to the challenge.

As for employees getting to and from work: I have been commuting on foot for over a year now. Fortunately, I live only 1.7 miles, so that is feasible for me. None of our other employees live that close. A couple might possibly be close enough to commute by bike, but better local public transit would be a better solution for them. Absent that, an NEV might also be a commuting option. Several live a considerable distance away, too far for an NEV. Some could carpool, but some live in more isolated locations; I am guessing that these will probably eventually have to either move or find employment closer to where they live.

Of course, all of this is just in the context of work; all of us have lives outside of the workplace as well. In my case, we are not well enough served by public transportation for me to yet be able to consider ditching our ICE cars and just going with NEVs. We still need a highway capable vehicle. That vehicle could possibly eventually be a PHEV. However, given how little we've gotten our driving down to, motor fuel prices would have to go up a very great deal before it would really be cost-effective for us to trade.

To wrap up, if my experience is any guide, then I think that EVs in various incarnations will be working their way into the mainstream. It is not going to be a case of one size fitting all, though. You can expect to see an increasingly diverse mix vehicles on the road, including NEVs, PHEVs, EVs, diesel vehicles (increasingly fueled by B100), and a lingering, slowly decreasing presence of gasoline and gasohol powered vehicles.

I agree with your sentiments, if gasoline is always available at $2.50/gallon and the technology of present EV's remains the same EV's will only have a very small impact on gasoline consumption. However, ICE fuel efficiency is going to have to improve, prices of gasoline are likely to rise and EV technology seems to be rapidly changing perhaps not as fast as mobile phones but faster than it has changed since 1900-2000.

I am sure that wind energy/ electric vehicles have a higher EROEI than present oil/ ICE vehicles so a rapid transition is possible on energy balance grounds.

Yawn dude. The folks that say there isnt enough lithium have a agenda, pure and simple. Don't forget lithium is completely recyclable as well.


According to the article the head of the largest producer of brine Li stated in 2007 to GM that they had no economical method of recycling used PHEV batteries. I don't think the author's pumping an agenda there, unlike, for instance, John Peterson at SA; rather stating a wide range of factors that will make boosting lithium production difficult, or at least keeping it expensive enough to inhibit consumers from affording the extra cost it will involve. He also points out the obvious fact that all this processing of brine will involve quite a bit of energy, invariably involving FFs, unless you want to make things even less economical. All of this is also predicated on Evo not following the policies in re: outside investment pioneered by his pal Hugo: Bolivian politics could stymie future of global lithium supply

"It's not open to investment," said Charles Kernot, a mining analyst at Evolution Securities. "If you can't get agreement from the Bolivian authorities, then no major mining company would be able to get in and develop the projects."

"I would be cautious ... the geology is pretty straight forward, it's just the politics of getting in to develop the asset."

At no point does he state that there isn't enough Li for limited production of PHEVs, either; in that he's in the company of the EIA among others, who see the market dominated by simpler constructs like mild hybrids. Your man with the riposte on the other hand is going by figures thrown out by the USGS, do you consider them the be all and end all for reserves of petroleum, too?

UPDATE: This is even more damning: Solid State Technology- Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry News covering Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment, Process, Services

Foreign companies are afraid to deal with a government that confiscates assets and rips up contracts, says Carlos Alberto Lopez, a former energy minister and consultant with Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "Bolivia's ideological face does not square with business and commercial realities. I doubt lithium's potential will be realised in the short or medium term." Pessimists fear a fiasco: carmakers lacking batteries to power electric vehicles, and Bolivia, one of the continent's poorest countries, losing an opportunity to develop.

When CERA has doubts about the feasibility of extracting a resource you really know you're in dutch.

I think you're intentionally not hearing their point. Sure, the battery is an energy carrier, not a source, but when it comes to supply constraints, the point they're making is that Lithium is not consumed in the process. Charging an EV is ONLY the transfer of energy, and not materials that will be consumed and must be replaced per filling.

Listen to the people who are already using EV's 'continually and in real time'.. there are a lot of people who have remarked on how little, almost NO maintenance is required, and they just plug in, and NEVER go to the gas station at all, some are plugging in to the PV that also helps power their homes.. so no, I don't buy that 'very much more difficult' comparison you make.. while I also don't expect or hope for EV's to step in and fill the same role in the same quantities that Cars do today. We will be paying more for energy, we will have to be more range-conscious with these vehicles, and a great many people will have to start figuring how to live within walk/bike/transit range of their jobs.

Finally, I don't expect Lithium to be the sole answer to the EV battery challenge. NIMH packs are out there still working well, as are Lead Batteries and Iron Zinc or Lead Zinc (?), I hear. They may be far from perfect, but they'll get you around town.

I just saw an old Glass Battery Case in a friend's Junkyard, and he suspects its from an old (OLD) EV. He said he might give it to me. That would be fun to play with.

I don't agree - they were saying the lithium is not consumed like gasoline is, and therefore equating the storage device to the power source. Your gas tank is also not consumed, and will in fact last longer than a battery. I do not know if there will be enough lithium to make a fleet of EVs, nor if lithium will be the material of choice for batteries. Nor what the environmental impacts of extracting the materials and manufacturing the batteries will be.

By saying that the problem of the EV is much harder than the gasoline powered automobile, I was not talking about its use, rather its widespread implementation as a 1:1 replacement for the gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. That's how it's being sold to the world, and what most people I talk to expect. The future will be just like today, but we'll be driving cool new iCars. I don't think that is going to happen - there will certainly be EVs and they make a great deal of sense for some uses. It just doesn't make sense for they way and scale in which we've implemented ICE automobiles.

I understand your point.

I guess I've just decided not to worry about whether people 'think' we'll turn this or that into another BAU.. it's clear enough to me that we won't be in Drive-Thru Paradise again, but that we still have to move in the direction of promoting the right tools. If people are looking at a Mirage a hundred miles away, but it's still in the direction of a grungy but workable watering hole that's a Thousand miles off, then I'd rather have made steps in the right direction.. the truth of the journey will dawn on people in stages as we progress.

I think this is particularly true around transportation, where we have to tool up factories to make the next kind of vehicles while we're still able to use what fuel we can from the fading Oil-days. I know there are those here who want an immediate 'paradigm shift'.. but they are still by and large using the roads, cars, busses and truck-borne produce like the rest of us. This transition, even a radical one will have to turn in stages.

So ultimately, as for the EV.. it's ALL about what kind of a tool it is. Who cares what illusions so many people harbor about EVs, or Wind, or Thorium or Solar Hot Water, and what kind of a world they 'promise'. What I ask is Does it work? Is it durable? Is it simple? Does it help reduce environmental stressors? IE, is it a BB? (Cause in my assumptions, even the best of them are basically always little more than BBs)

Seeing how long and hard I've run Electric Motors in my life, and their batteries.. I'm very confident that EV's are going to be a very solid set of BB's, from large to small. Their mechanical durability would have to force a few fundamental changes to Auto MFG expectations, which have worked with the 'subscription' model of building a whole support business out of replacement parts.. I fear it would grow into a monster like the JetPrinters, where two or three replacements of the cartridges costs more than the printer. A major component of current BAU that does make me extremely uneasy is the 'Planned Obsolesence' system, which I think stands as a huge threat to our building out any kind of durable equipment and infrastructure, when higher-ups just don't have any faith in building truly lasting products. I have to wonder if the battery problem is really as unwieldy as they keep telling us, when the RAV4 gets 120~150 miles on a charge and can get up to 70 highway(Some say 80), with batts that have gone up to 10 years. www.sealbeach.org

I look at the predictable decay of any Operating System I've had on a computer and have to wonder if that was completely avoidable. Well, at least EV's are simple enough that people can often build and maintain them close to home. Battery Management and Motor Controllers are the most complex pieces, and there are growing numbers of custom builders for those


edit (OOPS! - their link changed.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=peW8kl-jpHc this is the same guy..)

"I look at the predictable decay of any Operating System I've had on a computer and have to wonder if that was completely avoidable."

The 1st day of Computer Science we were taught
that the a reliable coded OS Kernel/Environment can not be modified by an application. The application
is allocated it's own space and resources.

Not only does properly designed software not ROT, things like Anti Virus are simply unnecessary (at least to protect the OS).
I think the lack of stability of Windows clients
are a factor in the economic downturn, most
business has serious issues keeping productivity
up. The human brain drifts into lala land, like
windows does when you click and wait & wait & wait.
Two identical windows computers, even same user, will ROT very differently over time, If you knew what is was doing, for no good reason, you would be really mad, since it's function can be so critical for your livelihood.

I guess I look at it this way.

Yes, it is possible to design more secure operating systems, but the temptation is always great to add various backdoors to help support one cool feature or another.

Regarding Windows, the main problem is the legasy of Windows 3.1 where nothing was protected. Users and even application vendors have developed expectations about being able to do certain things. For example, users have expectations about being able to do lots of things, which is why most systems are set up where everyone has administrative privileges. Thus when you hit a compromised website, it goes and downloads crap onto your machine, and has the ability to compromise the system files.

With each release, Microsoft does try to lock things down a bit more - the problem is that the people who write the viruses are actively looking for new backdoors and new ways of compromising systems. With Vista, they made an attempt to fix things so that you aren't always running with administrative privileges. The problem is that people find it annoying to keep getting asked whether something should run with elevated privileges, so many people end up turning that thing off which ends up defeating the whole purpose of the thing..

"The 1st day of Computer Science we were taught that the a reliable coded OS Kernel/Environment can not be modified by an application. The application is allocated it's own space and resources."

Oh, my, oh my. Are they still teaching that hoary old canard? It's theoretically true, of course, but the practical senses in which it's true have been lost for decades. After all, we have long since become saddled with Object Oriented Programming and its bastard successors, all of which thoroughly co-mingle code with data and with everything else up to and including the kitchen sink.

Once upon a time data was (somewhat) standardized in format. To view data in a nonstandard format you had to install new software. But with Object Oriented Programming, i.e. data mingled inextricably with code, users now expect instead that when they look at anything, the code to look at it will automatically download and run. In other words, virus-like behavior is integral to the functioning of Object Oriented programs. Among other things, that behavior helps make it easier and cheaper to write code (managers love the overall framework because it tends to eliminate certain kinds of trivial coding errors, especially with 'pointers', even if it does so at the expense of introducing enormous problems no one bothered to consider at the time.) As with airline "service" and other execrably unreliable implementations of technology, "cheaper" was all that mattered. Reliability and workmanship were tossed out the window decades ago.

In addition, advertisers especially, but also some copyright holders, resist the standardized data formats that would be needed as a practical matter if code weren't constantly and silently installed behind one's back. They prefer new formats, which might, for example, implement the Next Cool Thing that does what advertisers call "cutting through clutter" - never mind that the 'clutter' consists entirely of advertising itself. More often the new formats merely do the same old thing differently and often more badly, in order to buy a few days of 'copy protection' before they are hacked, or to give the 'content provider' and/or some government nanny the privilege of nuking something that you've already bought, paid for, and put on your Kindle or iPhone, or just so some website designer can claim to have done something cool.

A system like that can never be safe in that ancient "1st day of Computer Science" sense. The problems are guaranteed by the very security loopholes that allow Object Oriented code to function at all, the loopholes that (among other things) allow software to be downloaded and run silently to handle new (and superfluous 99.9% of the time) data formats.

Some great realities, seems like OS2 would have
worked a bit better. Don't know what they teach in intro CIS anymore, That was early 80's , long before OOP. Pascal withered died since it was too verbose.

I always put a registry change prompt on
Windows, Majority of changes are just not needed
and they get denied, seems to give
windows an extended life, but if feels like
Russian roulette. Guess there
little incentive to make an OS environment that does
not "rot" or fall apart in time, unless the customers
start demanding it , like the USAF did. What is more needy?, your partner or the PC?

Poor Microsoft users.

There are operating systems out there that do not violate OS/User integrity as a matter of basic functionality. That would be almost every other OS out there. I hear rumors that even Microsoft is trying to move in that direction despite the worst efforts of their own applications divisions.

Even Apple finally took a run at it with OSX, with a fair degree of success.

Unix-based systems even keep system and user configurations strictly separate, so that an individual user can install extensions and applications for their own use without touching the OS configuration at all.

Oregon bids for high-speed rail between Portland and Eugene - OregonLive.com

The president is dangling $8 billion specifically for high-speed rail projects. Oregon, in conjunction with Washington, has put in a bid is bidding for a quarter of it: $2.1 billion.

Under Oregon's proposal, the state would spend most of the federal money to upgrading tracks and crossings so trains running up and down the Willamette Valley could hit maximum speeds of 110 mph and average 65 mph. That would cut travel time between Portland and Eugene by as much as half an hour from the current average of about two and a half hours. Stops along the way include Oregon City, Salem and Albany.

This is the old Oregon Electric Railway line, part of what was once an extensive interurban system - the first interurban in the world, in fact. The OE's big competitor was the Southern Pacific Red Electric system, which passed through the town I live in; would be great if they could refurbish it as well, albeit the grade down into the valley here would be more expensive to refurbish. But the trackage is still there.

Here's the PDF of the draft study: Draft ODOT Intercity Passenger Rail Study. On the PreApp one of the checked items is "Electric Traction," too; blue skying for now but down the line who knows.

As I understand it, the Cascades train can go over 100mph already, but is held back due to the poor UP tracks and crossings. New tracks, owned by the state, would be a good long term investment.

The Automatic Earth had a good article yesterday titled "The Record of the Federal Reserve". I recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the theft of our savings via inflation.

Here on TOD most people expect the world's total wealth to go down. So if money doesn't lose value then all the people holding it will have a bigger and bigger slice of the pie, and all the people trying to do productive stuff will get less even faster. This is the sort of thing that leads to avalanche style collapse. Money is a unit of exchange not a store of value. One of the government's jobs is to stop people hoarding it. By the way, given that deflation is negative inflation and decline is negative growth, the following two sentences are exactly the same:

  • The economy doesn't work if the deflation rate is greater than the growth rate (because people hoard money instead of investing).
  • The economy doesn't work if the decline rate is greater than the inflation rate (...same reason...).

Here is a couple of interesting Arctic articles to share. The first one is familiar to anybody with an interest but if you haven't visited the website in the last few days check out the predictions for minimum sea ice extent -- two of sixteen scientific teams predict a new record minimum this year. It would be funny to me if the minimum was less than all of the predictions. The second link is a sailboat attempting the Northwest Passage -- boringly, they are stuck in Barrow but the blog entries are still interesting. The blog entry I linked to gives some idea just how difficult that floating pack ice makes these attempts.

NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice

Crew Log 40 - Pt. Barrow, Alaska

It looks at though the ice cap is now detached from land and is now free-floating.


The collapse is accelerating. The thinness of the Arctic ice was hidden from the public by the Bush administration.

It is now due to collapse soon, though it is impossible to know exactly when.

The consequences of an ice free Arctic Ocean are unknown but ominous. Probably major disruption of the jet stream, at least.

The thinness of the Arctic ice was hidden from the public by every administration.

fixed that for you.

No, these specific images were hidden by the Bush administration - the Republican attack on science is different and many magnitudes worse than the Democrats meaningful avoidance of it.

Anyway, looks like less cloud cover and accelerated warming with this latest study.

In a Warming World, Cloudy Days Are a Boon

The artic ice.

When working on a pilots license there is a huge amount dealing with weather. What creates weather. How does the flows work. Why is it that way?

What underlies the weather patterns it seems is the simple fact of air rising and falling due to the suns effect at the equator and the ice and cold at the poles.

Of course when the ice goes away then one wonders about those weather patterns. Surely then we will expect vast changes in our weather patterns.

Is it just that simple then? It is just that precarious? If so then we are watching what can doom our agriculture and change immensely our attempts to control our indoor atmospheres. Resulting in far more energy requirements. And far more utter disruption in our ag areas. Like 'no plants this year'. All burned up. Or frost killed everything. Whatever.

Looks like a bad moon definitely on the rise.


It is that simple and that precarious.

Which is why it is so amazing that so many people refuse to see it.

"What underlies the weather patterns it seems is the simple fact of air rising and falling due to the suns effect at the equator and the ice and cold at the poles.

Of course when the ice goes away then one wonders about those weather patterns. Surely then we will expect vast changes in our weather patterns."

That is my conclusion. I have asked over at www.realclimate.org about prediction for what might happen to weather patterns (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) with an ice-free late summer Arctic, but I haven't gotten much clear response.

One study merely spoke of "altered" weather patterns, but I couldn't get much more clarity. Apparently no one has done any very thorough modeling of this probably imminent and almost surely catastrophic event.

My thoughts on the Solix story posted here a couple of days ago, in which is was stated that they will reach "full-scale commercial operation" of algal oil this summer:

The Gold in the Oceans

One of my conclusions for this commercial operation is that there is probably $100 of embedded salaries in each gallon of oil produced. Just salaries.

That is pretty good!

Just looking on Twitter (http://twitter.com/RRapier), and as far as I can tell I am the first person there to write about the story and not simply regurgitate the press release. I recognize that a couple of people on TOD challenged the story as well, so kudos to them.

Great article Robert. I had always thought that algal oil would become a commercially viable enterprise though I never expected it would produce enough to make much of a difference. Your article opened my eyes however. Now I wonder about all those other so-called biofuels out there. How many of them are just pie-in-the-sky concepts like algal oil?

Ron P.

Thanks Ron. It isn't totally out of the question that algal biofuel might eventually make a contribution, but it won't be via the Solix approach.

If you could design algae to weep oil that could then phase out of solution, that might be a workable approach. But algae that is designed by humans tends to get out-competed by algae that is designed by nature. The solution to that is closed photobioreactors, but they are far too expensive for the amount of oil they can produce.

Ultimately, how many are pie-in-the-sky? Upwards of 90% would be my guess.

Robert -

I think that a two-acre algae pond operation is far two small to reflect anything approaching full-scale commercial economics, just as even a large pilot plant of a chemical manufacturing process would show dreadful economics if taken by itself.

I can't seem to find anything on the particulars of the Solix process and have the following questions:

1) Are the ponds open or covered?

2) If they are open, what methods are Solix employing to maintain a reasonable pure inventory of the the desirable high-lipid strain(s) of algae and to prevent them from being 'mugged' by undesirable naturally occurring organisms?

3) Is there any information on the concentration of algae bio-mass within the pond, i.e., dry-weight lbs of algae per 1,000 gallons of pond water?

4) Do we know what method they are using to separate the oily material from the harvested algae?, and

5) What is the final disposition of the dead algae after the oil has been extracted?

As I've said before, a large-scale algae operation is one giant material-handling headache, and the economics of handling lots of wet, relatively low-value material can easily become unfavorable if one is not sufficiently careful about key design and operational factors.

1) Are the ponds open or covered?

I think it's worse than that. Everything I have ever seen coming from them relates to PBRs. In fact, their website says "The AGS Technology is a photo-bioreactor that houses closed-growth chambers that support the monoculture growth of microalgae in commercial application." Add those costs to the cost of the salaries and you are probably now upwards of $200/gal produced.

I agree with your comment that a two-acre operation wouldn't necessarily be reflective of commercial economics (despite the press release indicating "commercial" operation) but it is also hard to see economies of scale here. It is as you say; a material handling headache (nightmare, I would say).

Edited to add: Yep, PBRs: http://www.solixbiofuels.com/content/technology/demonstration-facility

Also, check out their FAQ:


Gotta love this one:

What is the predicted market price for algal fuels?

We believe in order to be a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, we need to be competitive with oil prices at $75-$100 per barrel.

They didn't even answer their own question! The question was where the market price was predicted to be, and they answered with where they "need" to be.

To be fair, that's what the USGS did: instead of making predictions WRT how much oil will be available in the future, they just said how much SHOULD be available, to keep things running smoothly. (I don't remember if others did it too, but definitely the USGS... and they're not even economists, for Pete's sake!)

Robert -

Thanks for the links.

From the aerial photo of the demo plant, it appears that these 'photo bioreactors' are rectangular ponds covered with flat sheets (no doubt supported by some sort of structure at various intervals to avoid an unacceptably wide span).

Let's see, two acres is a tad over 87,000 square feet. I don't know how much reasonably thick transparent, UV-resistant plastic sells for these days, but I bet it's got to be a couple of bucks per square foot. Add to that the cost of the support structures and the cost of building a lined pond in the first place, and you probably have a unit installed cost of several hundred thousand dollars per acre of pond. And that doesn't even include the associated processing facilities.

So, when you go to build a full-scale operation comprising hundreds or even thousands of acres, you're going to have tens or hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in just the ponds. As such, I have to be skeptical of the economics of this sort of an operation being very attractive.

Once someone can demonstrate on a reasonable large scale that they can i) grow high-lipid algae in an open pond at a high rate and for an extended period of time, and ii) extract the oily material and handle the dead algae efficiently and economically, then I will start getting a bit more enthused about algae. Until then, I wouldn't invest a nickel of my own money in any of the algae schemes I've seen so far.

Nice blog entry - and here an excerpt from it

That works out to 300 gallons per year per employee.

Now let's see : 300 gallons / 42 gallons / barrel = 7.1 barrels per year per employee. But that very same employee's per-capita need is more than 20 barrels per year (US). He/She is ONLY PRODUCING 1/3 OF WHAT HE/SHE USES THAT VERY YEAR ..!

Those Solix Biofuels-empoyees are driving to work to make fuel ...ehh mmmm ... actually their own fuel in order to get to and from ...ehh mmmm ...work !

That is a solid and indestructible circle argument - so please let's not ruin these beautiful thoughts in bringing those pesky cost of investments, use of water and land, subsidies, EROEI and other issues into this equation .... furthermore the scenario also reminds me of a 'perpetual engine' - those people even earn a living from this.

(sarcanol aside)
Conclusion : Bio-fuels in any shap or form has NOTHING to add to a fossil driven global world. Bio-fuels may come into some sort of play AFTER 'oil, nat gas and coal' -

In regards to “OPEC braces for a drop in prices”, the article contains some fallacies.

First of all, who is the unidentified person in OPEC who expects lower prices?

Secondly, there is no practical limit on the amount of distillates that can be stored, since there are many tankers available with no place to go.

Thirdly, oil prices have been rising while distillate inventories have been growing, and there are signs now that seasonal forces will reduce inventories in the harvest and heating season. Isn’t a bit late to worry about the obvious?

Fourthly, OPEC has been continuing to cut back exports through the summer, and it’s quite possible now that world supply is less than demand.

I think this is just Connie Madon's opinion--probably not worth much more than anyone else's opinion.

What's your source on OPEC exports?
According to Oil Movements, old OPEC (ex-Angola, Ecuador) increased exports by over 600 kbpds after the price bounced back. Exports have fallen back but are still high compared to three months ago. I don't know how the Nigerian situation figures into this.

Citigroup, a company totally dependent on taxpayer money, has an employee making 100 million a year (change you can believe in) http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090725/D99LM2A80.html

Citi exec's pay package may spark gov't showdown

The hefty 2009 pay package of Andrew J. Hall, leader of Citigroup Inc.'s lucrative Phibro energy trading unit, may spark a showdown between the New York-based bank and government pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

Hall's division generates a substantial chunk of Citigroup's profit, which the bank sorely needs to get back on its feet and eventually repay the $45 billion it has received in government aid. Under the terms of his contract, Hall's compensation is linked to Phibro's profits, but the size of his 2009 pay package, which The Wall Street Journal estimated Saturday may total $100 million, could fuel political and shareholder anger against Citi.

I wonder how "lucrative" Phibro would be without taxpayer money, secondarily I wonder what the net worth of Hall would be if he also had Phibro losses tied to his pay (he would probably be underwater right now).

Another way to look at is is to see how much more tax payer assistance C would have needed if it weren't for Phibro.....

Report: 30,000 China steelworkers in deadly clash

BEIJING - Some 30,000 Chinese steelworkers clashed with police in a protest over plans to merge their mill with another company and beat the company's general manager to death, a human rights monitor said Saturday....

Beijing is trying to streamline China's sprawling steel industry, the world's largest, by orchestrating a series of mergers aimed at creating globally competitive producers. The mergers often are accompanied by layoffs that sometimes spark complaints that workers receive too little severance pay.


China's GINI index is 47

"BEIJING - Some 30,000 Chinese steelworkers clashed with police in a protest over plans to merge their mill with another company and beat the company's general manager to death, a human rights monitor said Saturday...."

I'm not sure that is an accurate description of the merger plan. Most merger plans do not involve beating the outgoing CEO to death.

What they meant to say was...

"BEIJING - A steelworker riot that killed a company executive in northeastern China has scuttled plans for a merger between a giant state-run plant and a private Beijing firm, two officials said Monday.....
.....workers beat Jianlong executive Chen Guojun to death Thursday outside the plant in Tonghua city, Jilin province after he announced that only 5,000 out of 30,000 workers would be retained after the merger."

I parsed it exactly as intended the first time. Perfectly valid English grammar.

Re: Local Writer Visits Wind Farm up top:

Noise from the turbines depends a lot on from which direction the wind is blowing. Those near my place definitely make noise. It's like the continual background traffic hum in a big city.

However, since the turbines are south of the building site, when the wind is from the north it is less noticeable. But when the wind is blowing toward the building site the turbine noise seems to be amplified. None of it is unbearable if one is use to big city traffic noise.

But it is diffinitely not the quiet countryside it use to be no matter the wind direction. Also when the wind changes direction motors in the tower can be heard turning the turbine to find the wind. The swoosh noise is mostly heard up very close and is minor compared to the turbine noise itself IMO. At certain times of the year and the day, the shadow from one turbine's blades sweeps across the house in the afternoon. This flickering can be irritating.

We do not own the land where the turbines stand. It is owned by absentee landlords who have other farms and are better off than us. So we get the noise benefit without any monetary benefit.

But it is diffinitely not the quiet countryside it use to be no matter the wind direction. Also when the wind changes direction motors in the tower can be heard turning the turbine to find the wind. The swoosh noise is mostly heard up very close and is minor compared to the turbine noise itself IMO. At certain times of the year and the day, the shadow from one turbine's blades sweeps across the house in the afternoon. This flickering can be irritating.

My only experience is with the Altamont pass turbines. I take a bike ride near some, and they definetly are noisey -however these particular ones are fairly old designs -back when they were mounted on stell truss towers instead of columns. I haven't been comparably near the more modern ones, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the volume of noise per megawatt is much lower. Perhaps we need more equitable revenue sharing agreements, so that people close enough to recieve some of the downsides, such as noise, at least get some royalties.

Incidentally in the downwind direction the fact that wind speed increases with height deflects the sound waves back towards the ground. That is why you can hear things for a long way downwind. Upwind, and the deflection is upwards, so sound doesn't carry (at groundlevel) very well upwind.

We do not own the land where the turbines stand. It is owned by absentee landlords who have other farms and are better off than us. So we get the noise benefit without any monetary benefit.

That's "Free Enterprise", where the entrepreneurs get a free pass on the externalities they produced. The "American Way of Life".

That's "Free Enterprise", where the entrepreneurs get a free pass on the externalities they produced. The "American Way of Life".

And any attempt to modify it (such as my suggestion of letting nearby neighbors share in the revenue) gets demogouged as "socialism". As long as the notion that free markets are the best of all possible methods remains sacred, we will be unable to tackle many growing problems.

I find the complaints people have about alternative energy externalities interesting. Why don't people complain about the powerlines that run across the landscape, or the powerplants themselves which spew out who knows what and are butt ugly? And let alone complaints about all the infrastructure which exists to support our energy needs.
My guess is that artefacts or externalities which are new in anyone's frame of reference cause dissonance which is expressed - and it's not limited to wind power.

Seems to me the best thing we could do to reduce energy usage in this country would be to offer zero interest loans to builders of zero-energy homes. That would be a massive benefit to homebuilders, and considering the relatively modest cost increases in models such as passivehaus, it seems it would be likely that it would be cheaper to build zero energy homes than standard homes and would build a zero energy home industry.

The problem is that we already have way more homes built than we need. With people moving in together, this may be the case indefinitely--unless we need to massively relocate people to new areas of the country, because of inadequate water or food in some areas.

This is true, but it's not like new houses aren't going up. Even though it's 75% down from the peak, we're still building over a half million houses a year (which if I remember is actually less than the number of homes being demolished). Even though it's easily possible, to get critical mass for the construction of zero energy homes/buildings, you'd need a big time incentive to get builders to switch from their old ways, and zero interest loans are a pretty huge incentive. The real work is getting construction firms to commit to zero energy home construction, considering that the economics are so attractive.

More people walking away from debts. Mish has an post on Preemptive Defaults, which links to a good article in the NYT:


Interesting, that post links to the "You Walk Away" website. I have been considering walking away after my big bank refused to re-fi my mortgage under the Obama re-fi because it didn't originate with them. 1 out of 10 mortgages originated with the bank. My house is worth about what I owe now which means to move I have to come up with a lot of money. I have no problem paying the mortgage but I may walk away just because it is a free 8 months of housing and I dislike the banking system. I just have to be sure that the bank cannot sue me and take away any other property that I own.

Funny world when you can stick it to the bank.

AFAIK there isn't a single western journalist based in Mongolia at the moment, and therefore the devastating floods that have taken place in the past two weeks have received practically no coverage. I've followed the events at the UB Post website, mainly for expats who live in Mongolia. Fortunately al-Jazeera is making an effort to cover the disaster as well (I noticed this last night when watching their English news).

Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, has arrived in Mongolia in order to highlight the impact climate change is having on people's everyday lives, his office has said.

Ban planned to spend time in a traditional Mongolian herder community on Sunday, meeting people whose livelihoods are being hit by water shortages and desertification.

People in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, were still trying to cope on Sunday with the effects of severe flash flooding, the worst since the 1960s according to aid workers.

The flooding first hit in and around the city on July 17, killing a total of 24 people and damaging thousands of homes.

Conditions worsened on July 22 when more heavy rain and hail storms hit the country, signs environmentalists point to climate change.


There is some more info here:


I haven't been in touch with anybody in Ulaanbaatar for a few weeks (a lot of expats are away on holiday), but I hope I'll get more info soonish. In any case, it is just so sad that these people, who live in one of the harshest, yet also most fragile, climates in the world should have to suffer so much, even though they can hardly be blamed for climate change.

EDIT: The BBC website has some pictures, apparently courtesy of the Red Cross: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/8162695.stm

Couple Questions:

If "People in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, were still trying to cope on Sunday with the effects of severe flash flooding, the worst since the 1960s according to aid workers." then what caused the floods in the 1960s?

Was it global warming then too? Was it worse in the 1960's? Does it happen regularly and this was a bit worse than normal?

I guess it just isn't nice to ask questions like that now that everyone is into global warming. I feel for the suffering but not too much for the cause if it happened about the same as 50 years ago.

I am not a denier. I believe in global warming but this is a PP way to prove anything.

Well, this is the direction we are heading--
And in the 60's, the Soviets controlled the game.

NOAA: Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest on Record for June
July 17, 2009

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880.

Global Climate Statistics
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the second warmest on record, behind 2005, 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C) above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees F (15.5 degrees C).
Separately, the global ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C).
Each hemisphere broke its June record for warmest ocean surface temperature. In the Northern Hemisphere, the warm anomaly of 1.17 degrees F (0.65 degree C) surpassed the previous record of 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C), set in 2005. The Southern Hemisphere’s increase of 0.99 degree F (0.55 degree C) exceeded the old record of 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C), set in 1998.
The global land surface temperature for June 2009 was 1.26 degrees F (0.70 degree C) above the 20th century average of 55.9 degrees F (13.3 degrees C), and ranked as the sixth-warmest June on record.

I don't have time to address comments like this. If you really are interested, google "climate change Mongolia". Things have changed a lot in the past two decades or so. But then, things were different just a few million years ago too, so why would you care?

I appreciate the lack of time to answer a couple simple questions. Lets bring it down to one. What caused the flooding in the 1960s?

Best wishes for the survivors, but as far as the lack of world coverage: portions of California and Arizona get floods and mudslides like this every now and then. They rarely make the national media here even when there are fatalities.

This is why it is important to give to the Red Cross and other emergency services organizations even when it seems like everything is going well.

Additional commentary on Nova Scotia Power's failed bid to clear cut and incinerate our provincial forests.

Green energy: A new start?

NOVA Scotia’s messed-up alternative energy policy is now squarely in the hands of the province’s new NDP government, where it should be.


What all this says is that NSPI is basically in a state of defeat about its green role and doesn’t know what to do, being in a situation it should never have been in to begin with. This is where the new government must show leadership – by taking the controls. This is one of the Dexter government’s biggest challenges. It’s heartening to hear Premier Dexter say he’s taking a "fresh new look" at green energy.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Columnists/1134259.html

See also: http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/1134124.html


My little experiment with a solar collector attatched to the hot side of my dc ice chest with ice inside yielded no more than 1/2 a volt. The collector had about 40 minutes labor, so it was respectable. But, a 64 watt uni solar panel has no problem running the thing
thanks for the help

Hello TODers,

My mother died July 20th. I have been busy attending to details so I will probably have a greatly reduced presence here. Such is life..

More on my continuing series: "She comes down from Yellow Mountain.."

Heavy Crude Loses Its Shine for Refiners
Reduced Supply Has Driven Up the Fuel's Price, Squeezing Margins in Comparison to Lighter Oils

U.S. refiners that turned to cheaper, dirtier crude oil in recent years in a bid to boost profits are seeing the strategy backfire as supplies of the oil dwindle.

In past years, many of the nation's refiners invested in pricey equipment to process so-called heavy crude, a more viscous grade of oil that usually contains more contaminants such as sulfur and nickel. The heavy oil cost much less than more desirable, lighter crude, so refiners could boost profit margins by processing the cheaper oil.

But in recent months, a barrel of heavy crude has been selling for nearly as much as a barrel of light crude. "That cost advantage has all but disappeared," said Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero Energy Corp., the nation's largest refiner.

..As a result, the difference in price between light and heavy oil has collapsed in recent months. Earlier this month, a barrel of Maya crude, a heavy grade from Mexico, sold for $62.62 a barrel, 2% or $1.22 more than a barrel of West Texas Intermediate, the light, sweet crude widely used as a benchmark for oil prices, data from energy consulting firm Muse, Stancil & Co. showed.
As discussed in prior postings in this series: IMO, it is only a matter of time until the price/ton of Element S rises to reflect its true intrinsic value to our globalized industrial society; recall Asimov's List [P is #1, S is #2..].

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

sorry about your mom, I've got a gig tomorrow,I'll see if the guys'll do "will the circle be unbroken" in her honor, and then give drunken shout outs when our beers reach the half way point.
now ,get the bleep out of Phoenix.


So sorry to hear that.

My Condolences, Toto.

Bob Fiske

Governing, July 2009, Volume 22, Number Ten

They have a special issue on "A Greater Grid" I share with you the insights
from this periodical, dedicated to State and Local Government.

The Costliest Ride, Josh Goodman, page 50 to 52

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that public transportation give
rides to those with serious disabilities, or paratransit, to
those who are on 0.75 miles of a regular transit line. They cost twenty-six
to thirty dollars per trip. Some local governments work with taxi companies,
share rides and use regular bus drivers who are more professional. They
are also working on training the disabled to use regular system, perhaps
allowing them to use paratransit when it is cold or for non-routine trips.

They did not talk about the energy costs of single-cost ridership vs.
using the bus/train.

Get Smart, page 39 to 42, Tom Arrandale

I liked this quote about the conventional analog technology that the
utility companies use, "Edison could walk into a control room and
he'd recognize almost all of the equipment. He invented a lot of it."
Six percent of electricity is lost in transmission. It has
information on PG&E, San Diego and the Boulder Colorodo Smart Grid

Desert Storm, page 30 to 36, John Buntin

This talks about the environmentalists who stop transmission lines to
bring green energy to the city, starting with the problem at San Timoteo
Canyon. And it talks about the conflict between locally operated (rooftop)
solar panels and big systems out in the desert. It ends at Palm
Desert, a retirement community for the affluent.

The Superbarrel Solution, Brendan Schlauch, page 20

About recycling chemical shipping containers to hold rainwater.

Alan Greenblatt, Coal Fired Compromise Page 12

Kathleen Sebelius left the governship of Kansas to join the cabinet
as Health and Human Services Secretary.
She vetoed bills to allow the local utility to bill two big coal-fired
power plants. The new governmor, Parkinson, decided to allow the
utility to build an 895-megawatt plan instead of a total of 1400 megawatts
of coal power.