Drumbeat: May 14, 2010

Wind power growth in China's deserts ignored financial risks

Across the country, seven wind-power zones, each with a capacity of 10 gigawatts, have been approved. In the space of just a few years, this previously overlooked source of energy has undergone a massive expansion, led by China's "big five" power firms. Han Mingwen, the deputy chair of Guazhou's reform and development committee, has said his region is leading the way: "We are pioneers," he said on July 16, 2009. "A lot of management and technical issues will be solved here and large-scale projects in other provinces will be able to learn from that experience."

At the same time, concerns about a national wind bubble are mounting. The losses visible in financial reports from Jiuquan's emerging wind-power network prove that, without state assistance or more preferential policies, limitless winds do not translate into limitless profits.

Lisa Margonelli: 7 Ideas for Armchair Oil Spill Regulators

Drill here often? Then register your ship here, too--and pay some taxes.

I noted yesterday that though Transocean was in fact a company largely formed in Houston, it registered itself in the Cayman Islands so it didn't pay U.S. taxes. In 2008, company brass moved to Switzerland, avoiding U.S. income taxes as well. Even more problematic, their drilling ships are registered in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which is officially responsible for inspections but actually leaves the work up to a classification society. Under the Jones Act, only U.S.-owned ships can do coastal shipping. Do we want to allow "non-U.S. rigs" from "non-U.S. companies" to drill off our coasts?

Barack Obama: No more cosying up to oil industry

US President Barack Obama has vowed to end the "cosy relationship" between oil companies and US regulators in the light of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Promising "relentless" efforts to stop the oil leak, he rebuked oil industry executives for seeking to pass on blame for the disaster in Congress.

Proposed spill penalty: A year of profits

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Companies responsible for oil spills could be forced to give up a year's worth of profits under a bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

The Oil Spill Response and Assistance Act was proposed in response to BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The bill would double the current $75 million cap on economic damages to $150 million or expose a company to damages equal to the last four quarters of its profits, whichever is greater.

Environmental analysis: Oil spill disaster 'could lead to oil crisis'

The oil industry is likely to suffer as awareness of the risks of drilling grows among environmentalists, an oil and energy group has said.

BP's recent oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico may cost the company more in the long-term as major organisations could join the lobby against the oil industry for its harmful effect on the environment, according to the UK Industry Task-Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security.

Spokesman John Miles said: "There is likely to be a massive outcry against the environmental risk of drilling in extreme locations and operations may get suspended."

Disastrous oil spill further greases the energy crisis

Americans act as if gasoline comes from a pump and electricity from a switch. But a recent string of environmental and human disasters reminds us that there are consequences to our cravings for cheap energy.

2 oyster areas reopen in Gulf ahead of oil slick

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Louisiana health officials reopened two prime oyster areas Friday to give harvesters a chance to gather as many oysters as they can ahead of a Gulf of Mexico oil slick that has been spreading west from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"It'll keep the wolf away from the door for a number of people," Al Sunseri, co-owner of P&J Oyster Co. in the French Quarter, said of the move by the Department of Health and Hospitals. He said he had been close to running out of oysters to shuck for restaurants in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.

US Coast Guard treating oil spill as "catastrophic"

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (Reuters) - The spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to be "catastrophic", and the U.S. response is already treating it as such, Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said on Friday.

US Coast Guard sees less threat of huge oil landfall

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (Reuters) - The oil slick from the huge uncontrolled spill in the Gulf of Mexico has broken into smaller parts, and while potentially catastrophic, may pose less threat of a massive landfall, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen said on Friday.

"The character of the slick has changed somewhat, it is disaggregated into smaller patches of oil," said Allen, who is leading the response to contain what could be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

"It's not a monolithic spill, we're dealing with oil where it's at," Allen added.

Indonesian energy - a black future?

Indonesia is mixed up about the energy mix, and the underlying problem is the shortage of energy. Latest long range projections from the Ministry of Mines and Energy show growing dependence on coal, rising from 36.5 percent now, to 52 percent in 2025 and 86 percent by 2050.

Although government and people seek a green future, the future will be black, or coal will have to be greened. What has happened to all this renewable energy we are supposed to develop? To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in the famous movie Casablanca "It doesn't seem to amount to a can of beans".

Airlines come out for regulation -- of the derivatives market

(Fortune) -- Airlines and banks tend to be on the same page when it comes to regulation of business -- they don't want it.

Now, the airline industry has decided some regulation isn't so bad. Carriers have become big champions of limitations in the financial sector, especially around reforms related to derivatives trading.

So, why the change of heart? It comes down to oil. Airlines are blaming the unchecked derivatives trading market for severe price swings that have made it impossible for them to control their fuel costs. In a note to employees on April 23, Delta Air Lines (DAL, Fortune 500) CEO Richard Anderson summed up the issue for his company: "Prices are artificially inflated and volatility is created as a consequence of excessive speculation and trading by parties with no tangible need for the commodities."

In other words, hedge funds and other investors with no intention of taking delivery are betting on oil futures, and it's making fuel hedging harder and more expensive for the parties that actually burn the jet fuel-the airline carriers.

Nigeria's oil region ex-governor freed on bail

ABUJA, Nigeria (Map, News) - A spokesman for the former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta state says he was freed on bail after being arrested in Dubai for corruption charges.

BP May Bid for Colombian Reserves as Production Slips

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil and gas company, said it may bid for new reserves in Colombia as it seeks to stem a decline in production in the country.

Is there a quick fix for KSA’s refining sector?

Saudi Arabian refining has suffered a lot since the beginning of this year. Three major development projects face an unclear future that may lead the government to review its generous subsidies for the sector.

Brazil May Top Second Biggest Pre-Salt Find at Well

(Bloomberg) -- A second oil well Brazil’s drilling as part of a plan to swap reserves for stock in state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA may hold more than the 4.5 billion-barrel estimate of the recent Franco discovery, an official said.

The new prospect, named Libra, may be larger than Franco based on seismic data obtained from the well, Magda Chambriard, a director of oil regulator ANP, told reporters today in Rio de Janeiro. Franco is Brazil’s largest discovery since the 8- billion barrel Tupi find in the offshore Santos basin in 2007.

Economic Woes Threaten Chavez's Socialist Vision

Venezuela's economy is in trouble despite the country's huge oil reserves. Blackouts plague major cities. Its inflation rate is among the world's highest. Private enterprise has been so hammered, the World Bank says, that Venezuela is forced to import almost everything it needs.

The situation is creating a serious challenge to President Hugo Chavez's efforts to transform his country into a socialist state.

Semisub Had Taken on Water Before - Reports

The Aban Pearl semisubmersible rig that sank off the Venezuelan coast early Thursday had a history of listing problems, according to August 2009 reports from two Trinidad and Tobago newspapers.

Venezuela rig disaster further dents PDVSA image

(Reuters) - The reputation of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA has taken another hit with the sinking of an offshore gas exploration platform it was leasing in the Caribbean Sea, raising doubts about its ability to develop potentially huge undersea reserves.

China coal imports may hit 170 mln T in 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - Net coal imports to China, the world's biggest coal producer, could soar by 70-100 pct to 170 million tonnes or more in 2010, boosting coal prices globally, if China's power use boom continues, according to exporters and analysts including the International Energy Agency.

Despite domestic coal output of over 3 billion tonnes a year, China's 2009 net imports soared to 100 million tonnes, having been forecast at 50 million at the start of the year.

Iran’s Nuclear Determination May Doom Fuel Swap, IAEA Head Says

(Bloomberg) -- The prospects of a nuclear-fuel swap with Iran are fading because the Iranian government refuses to heed calls to curb its uranium-enrichment program, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said.

More than six months after the United Nations-brokered offer to exchange nuclear fuel for low-enriched uranium, the deal has stalled and chances of reviving it look bleak, Amano said. In the meantime, some nations are losing interest in pursuing the agreement, he said, without naming the countries.

UN warns rare metal shortage could derail clean tech boom

The UN yesterday issued a stark warning that the adoption of low carbon technologies such as solar panels, electric cars and energy efficient lights could stall unless the recycling rates for "speciality metals" used by the electronics industry drastically increases.

Metals such as lithium, neodymium and gallium all play crucial roles in the development of many clean technologies. But according to a new preliminary report from the UN's International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, recycling rates for these metals currently stand at around one per cent.

Regulators OK Ameren's 'Methane to Megawatts' project

Missouri regulators said Thursday they approved AmerenUE’s plans to build electricity-generating turbines that burn methane gas captured from Fred Weber’s landfill in Maryland Heights.

Nature loss 'to damage economies'

The Earth's ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned.

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach "tipping points" where they rapidly become less useful to humanity.

Such tipping points could include rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef death.

Wild Fishing Industries Catch On to Locavore Craze

Ask any fisherman: It's not an easy way to make a living.

Still, from Alaskan wild king salmon to lobsters plucked from the chilly waters off Maine, the industries have for the most part survived, many benefiting from the newfound appreciation for local, sustainable food sources.

Iceland's volanco revealed the deep ignorance of jet-setters

Why, asks Molly Scott Cato, did it take a volcanic eruption to demonstrate to us the hugely fragile links that hold our modern lives and economy together?

Degrowth - Voices from 1st North American Conference

Pretty well everyone senses a collapse is inevitable, as natural reality, and the laws of physics, interrupt our endless expansion of population and consumption. The only question is: will we drain Earth until it dies, or will we at least try to plan something else?

There is an alternative. It is called "Degrowth". A planned and willing movement to end the mad economic system of endless growth, based on endless consumption and pollution. An admission that really, to survive, humanity needs to shrink out demands upon the planet. To plan out a smaller economy, and lower personal ecological footprints.

Sustainable business: sea change or meaningless buzzword?

It may seem a misnomer as big businesses by their nature are money-making machines first and foremost, but there are ways they can reduce their impact on the environment, either through technology and more government intervention.

Bill McKibben's Nonfiction Picks

MJ: Which science-fiction book do you think is most interesting in the way it grapples with the future of our planet?
BM: The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is really a very long book about how to make communities work (or not).

MJ: Which book (past or present) has given you the most hope?
BM: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey.

Response to “Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis?” in Mother Jones

The author states, incorrectly, that “Two hundred million women have no access whatsoever to contraception…” This is false and represents a common misunderstanding of the primary driver of the population problem. Many people think that the term “unmet need,” which is used to describe the estimated 215 million women who don’t want to be pregnant and are not using contraception is actually the phenomenon of unmet demand for contraception. It is not.

In fact, most of these women don’t want or intend to use family planning because: 1. they have heard it is dangerous, 2. their male partners are opposed, 3. their religion is opposed, or 4. they don’t think it will work because they think God determines how many children they will have. Many people in the population/family planning field do not know this information, let alone journalists.

Q. and A.: The Population Guru

Paul Ehrlich, the biologist and professor of population studies at Stanford University, is best known for his 1968 book “The Population Bomb.”

The book gained him as many fans as critics with its stern warnings about the impact of population growth, and Dr. Ehrlich continues to explore this subject in his teaching and writing, often collaborating with his wife, Anne Ehrlich.

Recently, they have become involved in the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior, or MAHB (aptly pronounced “mob”), an international effort to engage academics and the general public on the ethical and behavioral challenges involved in creating a more environmentally aware society.

Nigeria and China sign $23bn deal for three refineries

Nigeria's state-run oil firm NNPC and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) have signed a $23bn (£16bn; 18bn euros) deal.

The two will jointly seek financing and credits from Chinese authorities and banks to build three refineries and a fuel complex in Nigeria.

The project would add 750,000 barrels per day of extra refining capacity.

NNPC hopes the construction of new refineries will stem the flood of imported refined products into Nigeria.

Ukraine president resists Russian gas takeover

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych has told the BBC he will not let Russia's state gas monopoly Gazprom take control of his country's gas pipeline network.

He was reacting to an offer by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to merge Gazprom with Ukraine's main energy firm Naftogaz. Ukraine's network carries almost all of Russia's gas exports to Europe.

Moscow's surprise offer was another indication of how close relations between Russia and Ukraine have become since Mr Yanukovych was elected president in February.

Shell faces final hurdles for 2010 Arctic drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Shell Oil won a court victory in its quest to drill exploratory wells in Arctic waters this summer but still faces several regulatory hurdles, a company spokesman said.

Curtis Smith said Thursday the company awaits appeals of required federal air permits before it can send its drilling ship north to the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska's northwest and north coast. The company also needs a final Interior Department blessing and authorizations on several wildlife issues.

Talisman, Repsol Win Drilling Rights in Indonesia

(Bloomberg) -- Talisman Energy Inc., PTT Exploration & Production Pcl and a unit of Repsol YPF SA were among companies awarded rights to drill in Indonesia as Southeast Asia’s biggest crude producer seeks to replace aging fields.

The government awarded rights in 14 oil and natural gas areas with planned total exploration investments of $146 million, said Edy Hermantoro, upstream director at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

Crude Oil to Remain Depressed

Yesterday, crude oil futures settled below $75 per barrel, hitting a three month low. Although the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently raised its forecasts on oil prices, supply and demand forces suggest otherwise and point to the likelihood that these price levels will remain intact, if not witness a further decline.

Oil Leak Stop At Least a Week Away, BP Exec Says

(CBS/ AP) A top executive for British Petroleum said Friday that the best-case estimate for putting an end to a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was still a week away.

"We'll keep trying until we bring this thing to a close," Doug Suttles, BP's Chief Operating Officer, told CBS' "The Early Show", adding that the current techniques the company is using now "won't stop" the leak caused by an oil rig that exploded April 20.

Congressman to launch inquiry on how much oil is gushing into Gulf

(CNN) -- A U.S. congressman said he will launch a formal inquiry Friday into how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after learning of independent estimates that are significantly higher than the amount BP officials have provided.

Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said he will send a letter to BP and ask for more details from federal agencies about the methods they are using to analyze the oil leak. Markey, who chairs a congressional subcommittee on energy and the environment, said miscalculating the spill's volume may be hampering efforts to stop it.

Sunbathing, and Keeping an Eye Out for Tar Balls

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — When David and Darla Lindsey arrived for a day at the beach with their paperbacks and crab nets and towels, they found a mysterious line of hay bales stretching along the water, taking a heavy beating from the waves.

A couple of hours later, they watched in bemusement as a small army of workers in Tyvek pants, work boots and life vests came along and moved the entire line a few feet back from the surf.

Life on the prized white sands of Dauphin Island, a barrier island guarding the mouth of Mobile Bay, is proceeding on two tracks right now. While National Guard troops and scores of laborers in hazmat gear and gloves fortify the island for the coming war on oil (the hay, it turns out, is meant to absorb encroaching sheen), vacationers kite-surf and loll about barefoot, peering at the heavy helicopter traffic through their bird-watching binoculars.

Nuke the Gulf Oil Gusher, Russians Suggest

Using a nuclear explosion to try to plug the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico might sound like overkill, but a Russian newspaper has suggested just that based on past Soviet successes. Even so, there are crucial differences between the lessons of the past and the current disaster unfolding.

For U.S. government and BP, no choice but to work together

Within hours of the massive April 20 explosion on Deepwater Horizon, the U.S. government launched an urgent and carefully managed response to demonstrate its control of the emerging disaster, sending Coast Guard ships to the site, keeping the president informed and posting projections of how an oil spill might affect travel.

What the Obama administration did not realize was how the arcane world of offshore drilling would collide with official Washington as politicians began kibitzing about rig mechanisms on Sunday talk shows and oil executives gave daily briefings about their disaster-management skills. The administration probably had no idea that it would find itself in many ways dependent on a foreign oil company -- both foe and needed friend in the response.

Africa’s Biggest Fund Manager Invests to Help Eskom

(Bloomberg) -- Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest money manager, plans to invest as much as $1.2 billion in the expansion of South Africa’s power utility that is needed to keep pace with economic growth.

Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part X, Improving Vehicle Efficiency

Dr. Daniel Sperling knows about as much as anyone about what policymakers can do to reduce the use of oil. He is the Director of the Institute of Transport studies as the University of California Davis, and a long time member of the California Air Resources Board [CARB], so he understands transportation from both the academic and policy perspectives. He also recently co-authored a book Two Billion Cars: Driving Towards Sustainability, so he understands the magnitude of the problem as well.

Huhne outlines coalition deal over nuclear power plants

A new generation of nuclear power plants will still be built - provided no public money is spent on them, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said.

Huhne attacks 'scandalous' UK wind power waste

Huhne told the BBC that he thought "the most scandalous legacy" of the past 13 years of government by the centre-left Labour Party was "the fact that here we are sitting on the part of Europe that has the most potential for wind power. For tidal power, for wave power.

"We literally have an abundance of potential renewable energy and yet we have one of the worst records of any country in the European Union for generating electricity from renewables".

IEA to present roadmap for CSP at industry summit this June

This June at a meeting of over 650 Concentrated Solar Power professionals the International Energy Agency (IEA) will present their roadmap for CSP. The Roadmap which was announced last week in Valencia during the Mediterranean Solar Plan Conference hosted by the Spanish presidency of the EU, emphasises that solar energy could represent 20-25 per cent of global electricity production and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6bnta by 2050. The roadmaps detail the technology milestones that would make this possible.

U.S. Clears a Test of Bioengineered Trees

Federal regulators gave clearance Wednesday for a large and controversial field test of genetically engineered trees planned for seven states stretching from Florida to Texas.

The test is meant to see if the trees, eucalyptuses with a foreign gene meant to help them withstand cold weather, can become a new source of wood for pulp and paper, and for biofuels, in the Southern timber belt. Eucalyptus trees generally cannot now be grown north of Florida because of occasional freezing spells.

EU biofuel policy has ‘negative’ climate impact

The new study conducted by Mareike Lange and Dominique Bruhn of the institute says that current EU regulations have seen biofuel production displace food production on cultivated land. In turn this has, in some cases, resulted in new land being cleared for the purpose of producing food and in extreme cases, the new land cleared is in tropical forests. This situation leads to a rise of greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the indirect affects of biofuel production. Equally if biofuels use of previously uncultivated land, e.g. forests, savannas, and grasslands (i.e., a direct change in land use), it emits considerable amounts of GHGs and results in a loss of biodiversity and habitats as well. In this situation, the contribution that biofuels have in reducing emissions is virtually nil.

Leading Evangelical Group Expresses Grave Concern Regarding New Restrictive Energy Policies

WASHINGTON /Christian Newswire/ -- Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, made the following statement today:

"Despite the fact that the scientific case for dangerous, manmade global warming is crumbling in the wake of Climategate and other revelations of scientific malpractice by leading alarmists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, supporters of policies to fight global warming are still pushing for restrictive energy policies.

"But those policies will hurt working families and the poor by driving up energy prices. And since energy goes into everything we consume, these rising energy prices will make everything more expensive--especially the most basic things like food and clothing and shelter.

"American evangelicals strongly support greater energy freedom, not restriction."

'Climate dice' now dangerously loaded, leading scientist insists

Evidence for global warming has mounted but public awareness of the threat has shrunk, due to a cold northern winter and finger-pointing at the UN's climate experts, a top scientist warned.

James Hansen, a leading Nasa scientist whose testimony to the US Congress in 1988 was a landmark in the history of climate change, said he was worried by "the large gap" in knowledge between specialists and the public, including politicians.

"That gap has increased substantially in the last year," Dr Hansen said.

Study: Climate change puts world's lizards at risk

Hundreds of species of lizards in nearly all parts of the world are at risk of extinction because of climate change, according to research reported in the journal Science.

In fact, because of rising global temperatures from carbon dioxide emissions, about 1,000 of the world's 5,000 lizard species could be extinct by 2080, the researchers say.

Ambani Says Refiners Must Prepare for $100 Oil as New Norm

(Bloomberg) -- Refiners must be ready for oil prices to rebound to more than $100 a barrel on growing consumption in Asia, said Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man.

“We have to again be actively prepared to see a three-digit oil price” amid sluggish refining growth and higher marginal cost of production at new fields, Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., said in a speech at a conference in Mumbai today.

Oil falls near $73 amid signs demand may slacken

SINGAPORE – Oil prices fell to near $73 a barrel Friday in Asia amid expectations a slower economic recovery in debt-saddled Europe will weigh on crude demand.

WTI at 15-Month Low to Mars on Cushing Supply: Energy Markets

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil is trading at the widest discount in 15 months to traditionally less expensive grades as supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded futures, swelled to a record.

Salazar names 2 to oversee agency restructuring

WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday he has named two high-level officials to oversee a restructuring of an agency that oversees offshore drilling.

Salazar previously said he wants to split the Minerals Management Service in two. One agency would be charged with inspecting oil rigs, investigating oil companies and enforcing safety regulations, while the other would oversee leases for drilling and collection of billions of dollars in royalties.

Saras Says Refining Margins Will Recover on Stronger Economy

(Bloomberg) -- Saras SpA, owner of the largest oil refinery in the Mediterranean, swung to a loss in the first quarter and said refining margins are likely to improve as the economy picks up.

India Acquires Russian Oil Company

NEW DELHI - India has acquired a Russian oil company and bought equity stake in an oil field project in Venezuela through consortium route, the Rajya Sabha was informed on May 4.

Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Jitin Prasada said, “we have recently acquired a Russian oil company named Imperial Energy through ONGC Videsh. Apart from this we have acquired 18 per cent equity share in a Venezuelan field project through consortium mode.”

Aban Offshore Falls Most in 18 Years After Rig Sinks

(Bloomberg) -- Aban Offshore Ltd., India’s largest oil rig company, fell the most in almost 18 years as Venezuela started investigating the sinking of a natural-gas platform leased by a unit to state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Aban shares fell 18 percent to 832.25 rupees at the close in Mumbai, the biggest decline since July 17, 1992. The stock has dropped 35 percent this year compared with a 3 percent fall in the benchmark Sensitive Index.

Obama eyes 'next steps' in oil spill

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – US President Barack Obama meets with top advisers Friday to determine the "next steps" in trying to stem a sea of oil lapping the fragile Gulf Coast as BP readies its latest containment bid.

Obama, who the White House said was "deeply frustrated" that the leak has not been plugged three weeks since a spectacular explosion rocked an offshore drilling platform, has increased pressure on rig-operator BP as experts raised questions over exactly how much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts said the spill may actually be at least 10 times worse than the US Coast Guard's official estimate that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of crude were gushing from a ruptured well each day.

Pressure mounts on BP as Obama eyes 'next steps'

PORT FOURCHON, La. (Reuters) – Political pressure mounted on Friday for BP to show progress plugging a massive oil leak while residents of coastal Florida, Mississippi and Alabama learned the growing pool of oil from the leak would not strike their beaches before late on Saturday.

The drifting sea of oil could still spell disaster for coastlines all around the Gulf of Mexico while crippling attempts in Washington to overhaul U.S. energy policy.

Obama Sends Bomb Inventor, Mars Expert to Fix BP Oil Spill

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signaled his lack of confidence in the industry experts trying to control BP Plc’s leaking oil well by hand-picking a team of scientists with reputations for creative problem solving.

BP hopes tube will siphon Gulf oil to tanker

Undersea robots tried to thread a small tube into the jagged pipe that is pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico early Friday in BP's latest attempt to cut down on the spill from a blown-out well that has pumped out more than 4 million gallons of crude.

The company was trying to move the 6-inch tube into the leaking 21-inch pipe, known as the riser. The smaller tube will be surrounded by a stopper to keep oil from leaking into the sea, which could be in place later Friday, BP said. The plan is for the tube to siphon the oil to a tanker at the surface.

Spill’s ‘Slow-Moving Hurricane’ Leaves Coast Waiting

(Bloomberg) -- For Tammy Wolfer of Louisiana, the worst part about the oil slick looming off the Gulf of Mexico coast isn’t that it cut her income from working at a marina and ruined plans to buy a house this year. The worst part is waiting to see where and when the oil will arrive on shore.

“The not knowing is what is driving everyone crazy,” Wolfer, 42, who lives in Empire on Louisiana’s eastern coast, said this week. “At least if the oil started coming ashore, we could start cleaning it up and know where we are.”

Gulf Oil Leaks Could Gush for Years

If efforts fail to cap the leaking Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico (map), oil could gush for years—poisoning coastal habitats for decades, experts say.

Where's the oil? Much has evaporated, underwater

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - For a spill now nearly half the size of Exxon Valdez, it's hard to pin down where the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster has gone.

Although the government has been slow to say what's happened to it, a picture can be drawn from a publicly available model called the Automated Data Inquiry for Oil Spills.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward admits his job is under threat over oil spill

Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, has signalled for the first time that his job could be under threat if the company is unable to swiftly resolve the oil slick crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr Hayward admitted that, while he felt under no immediate pressure to step down, his career was likely to hinge on the company’s ability to end the crisis.

BP’s suggestion box is spilling over

Some 5,000 suggestions have been submitted through an online suggestion box set up by the oil giant and the Coast Guard, and thousands more are circulating through Youtube videos, in Internet chat rooms and in e-mails sent to media organizations.

“It is just unbelievable,” said BP spokesman Mark Proegler. “People are not only offering products, we are getting a lot of calls — even here in the media center — from people with ideas on how to fix it. Anything ranging from crazy ideas to ones that actually sound sensible.”

The Risky Hunt For The Last Oil Reserves - Does Deep Sea Drilling Have A Future?

The oil catastrophe afflicting the Gulf of Mexico underscores just how dangerous offshore oil exploration can be. Oil companies are seeking to extract the planet's last remaining barrels by drilling from ever-deeper sites on the ocean floor that wouldn't even have been considered not too many years ago.

The oil now coating the Gulf of Mexico in reddish brown streaks has a long journey behind it. Tracing that journey would require diving 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) into the ocean, passing through a massive layer of mud and finally pounding through hard salt.

Don’t drill: Recent destruction digs a deeper hole of despair

As we enter the third week of the Gulf Coast oil spill, various strategies have tried and failed to stop the flow of 210,000 gallons of oil per day. These include, but are not limited to, roping off the area, a failed cap system, untested chemical dispersants and even stuffing the hole with shredded tires.

Those 210,000 gallons have translated into roughly $350 million in costs — at this point. While the news is abuzz with stopping the flow, we should be more concerned with stopping the flow of oil, for good.

It's now time that we stop paying for gasoline, along with its "mistakes," in the form of catastrophic oil spills and begin paying for environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Doug Casey on The Return of the Crisis Creature

Oil. As currencies go down, oil will have to go up. But there's a lot to be said for Hubbert's Peak Oil theory. And the increasing possibility of a serious war could send it to the moon. In any event, demand from developing economies will continue growing. The need for it isn't going away anytime soon. At least not until we're well into the Nanotech Era.

Peak Oil: The End

Matthew Simmons sees peak oil as the end of energy supplies as we know them.

The following is a transcript of the conversation I had with Matthew Simmons on the April 27 episode of Turning Hard Times into Good Times and with Paul Michael Wihbey on the May 4 episode of my radio show. Simmons presented his continuing thesis that the lights on western civilization are about to go out. Contrasting that notion is Paul Michael Wihbey, who provides a much more optimistic view of prospects for keeping the lights on, not from foreign imported oil, but from abundant sources right here in North America.

(Transcript of audio interview previously posted.)

Updating the Oil "Head-Fake" Scenario

The terrible irony of the head-fake, of course, is that the exporters' mad efforts to pump more oil merely exacerbates the oversupply, further depressing prices, which are set on the margin. As exporters receive fewer dollars for their production, they attempt to compensate by pumping even more oil. Perniciously, this suppresses prices even more, setting up a positive feedback loop which pushed prices into full-blown collapse.

At the same time, the majority of exporting nations will continue under-investing in their oil production and exploration infrastructures, essentially dooming them to future depletion and potentially even collapse of production.

Manifesto omissions

For energy, the manifesto talks about revising the fiscal terms to stimulate activity in the sector, the priority use of gas resources and renewable energy agenda. What is interesting is that the Government’s focus will be on small, mature fields, tail-end production and encouraging new investment (where?) while allowing production levels to be sustained.

Its priorities for gas development refer to allocating gas to downstream plants. There is not a word in the manifesto on the precarious situation which we have been brought to by successive governments - past Peak Oil in which the production of oil is steadily decreasing and our risked reserves of gas is at 18.67 tcf which, with current use (not including the new plants), will last for 12 years. But moreso, wherein we have become a gas economy in which LNG is the major consumer of our gas production, the international gas supply situation is in glut and the medium term prospect is that its prices will remain low, restricting the Government’s ability to get the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund to TT$30 billion.

Vermont: Independent Congress candidate finally gets his say

"I don't see any alternative (to secession)," he said. "The system is broken and unfixable, but Vermont is small."

Secession, Steele said, would free this progressive enclave from the moral stain of illegal wars and financial calamity of Wall Street bailouts. Vermont could harness an agrarian ethic, according to Steele, that would save the Vermont from peak oil and looming environmental disasters.

"For my children to be able to have a future in this state and live here and work here, I believe an agrarian agriculture-based society is the only way that can happen," Steele said.

EVs Will Fail in the Marketplace, Says a Battery Insider

He’s particularly negative about the viability of EV batteries, expressing doubt that costs will come down below $400 a kilowatt hour anytime soon. In an interview Monday, Anderman compared the fuel savings of the forthcoming Nissan Leaf with an off-the-shelf Toyota Prius and found the plug-in car wanting.

The Leaf’s battery, he said, will cost $16,000 to $20,000. Even if the Leaf is produced in volumes of 200,000 or more, Anderman concludes, the battery will still cost $9,000. All this, he said, to produce a car that, when the different power sources are compared, only saves $400 in fuel costs annually over the Prius. “In five years, you save $1,500, which isn’t even enough to pay for the charger, let alone the $20,000 battery,” he said.

GE, Vestas Fall Behind in China’s ‘Tough’ Wind Market

(Bloomberg) -- Western wind turbine manufacturers are losing ground in China, the world’s fastest-growing green energy market.

The combined market share for companies such as General Electric Co. and its European rivals Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Siemens AG fell to 14 percent last year from 71 percent in 2005, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Sales are being eroded by local companies including Sinovel Wind Co. Ltd. and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd.

UN science chief defends work, welcomes review

AMSTERDAM – The head of the U.N. scientific body on climate change defended Friday the work of the thousands of scientists who contribute to its reports, even as he welcomed a review of procedures that produced errors undermining the panel's public credibility.

The E.P.A. Announces a New Rule on Polluters

The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a final rule on Thursday for regulating major emitters of greenhouse gases, like coal-fired power plants, under the Clean Air Act.

Starting in July 2011, new sources of at least 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year and any existing plants that increase emissions by 75,000 tons will have to seek permits, the agency said.

Amorphous silicon is a workhouse of the photovoltaic industry. I updated some novel ideas on how to charactetize the material here:

Many people consider this behavior "anomalous" yet I think it is perfectly predictable.

I also put together an analysis of wind energy statistics here:

Again, people complain about the unpredictability of wind, but it is perfectly predictable in terms of its unpredictability.

BTW, This came from data that LenGould dumped to TOD from a few days ago.

Best hopes for a PV and wind future.

I am not at all hopeful; for a PV future - with the ridiculous subsidies being paid out, we will be bankrupt before we get enough power to do anything useful.

A very interesting analysis of German PV electricity production, and subsidies here;

Most interesting statistic is the capacity factor at just 11%!
They pay an average subsidy of $0.50/kWh produced, for 20 yrs. The german gov is now on the hook for about $3bn a year for 20 yrs, and for this, they get the power output equivalent to a 900MW plant, but with less controllability.

That is a LOT of money for very LITTLE output. It could have bought so much more in energy efficiency, or even improving efficiency of existing generation, or transmission, or virtually anything else.

Solar PV seems to be the most expensive way, by a long margin, to make electricity, and we haven;t got the money to waste right now.

I am not placing any value judgments (excuse me for borrowing Allan from NO's tag-line) apart from the fact that we will all need to learn to deal with entropic non-concentrated sources of energy. We got sent off-track by having a source of concentrated on-demand energy for so long.

We just have to learn how to deal with energy from sporadic sources. Isn't farming based on sporadic sources of rain? The wind dispersion analysis is just a step down that path. Same with PV, we are making incremental steps and I am just trying to add some insight.

Most interesting statistic is the capacity factor at just 11%!

Ummm... yeah, assuming "capacity factor" denotes real-world average generation divided by nameplate capacity, as it usually seems to for wind, it seems reasonable.

On that basis, the most you can ever get out of a fixed-orientation flat plate is a bit under 30% on average since it's dark about 50% of the time, and even when the sun is up, it's off-axis most of the time. Clouds - abundant in Germany - and haze reduce that 30% drastically, with average global cloud cover around 60%. All this is what makes solar expensive, it's only available a very small fraction of the time. (Fueled generating facilities, on the other hand, can be available 90% of the time since weather and daylight do not pose significant limitations.)

One commenter claims 70% ultimate capacity factor for solar thermal, so quite obviously he must be using a different denominator, one that must subsume the effect of darkness and maybe clouds - or he must be counting only the heat engine itself and not the expensive, complicated movable mirrors nor the thermal storage needed to keep the heat engine busy 70% of the time. (Nowhere in the world does the sun shine 70% of the time on a year-round basis.) If we used his denominator, whatever it is, for photovoltaic, it surely would look a lot better than 0.11. But irrespective of that sort of fiddling, if you want 1kW average, you'll need to order and pay for roughly 9kW of panels. (And in Germany you'll need massive seasonal storage or massive standby power, since you'll be getting about zip in January.)

OTOH efficiency, important as it is, is only a partial solution since it is not indefinitely scalable. Even a future near-100% efficient LED light bulb would still require an actual power source. So in the end one does need also to look at actual generation, and we do need to get started on it.

As to the money, well, even with the recession, there are vast gouts of frivolous public spending in the OECD. For example, in the USA there still seem to be limitless public billions available for palaces of moronic entertainment. And everywhere, frivolous energy-guzzling tourism garners gargantuan subsidies, now even, apparently, to the point of government-paid trips to the beach on already massively-subsidized trains and highways. Surely there's plenty of similar frivolity in Germany. So even if it turns out that the 60 billion could have been spent better, a quibble we can't possibly settle right now, in the big picture, inasmuch as it's over 20 years, it's lost in the noise.

(And in Germany you'll need massive seasonal storage or massive standby power, since you'll be getting about zip in January.)

Besides that most household energy is heat energy and seasonal heat storage is inexpensive and does already exist now,

German wind farms actually produce much more electricity during winter than during summer.


One commenter claims 70% ultimate capacity factor for solar thermal, so quite obviously he must be using a different denominator, one that must subsume the effect of darkness and maybe clouds - or he must be counting only the heat engine itself and not the expensive, complicated movable mirrors nor the thermal storage needed to keep the heat engine busy 70% of the time. (Nowhere in the world does the sun shine 70% of the time on a year-round basis.)

You can legitimately claim such high capacity factors for solar thermal, if they include storage. But what you're trading off is peak power, by downrating the generating capacity.

Say a plant is picking up 300 MW of heat in midday; converted on the fly it could generate 100 MW of electricity. If it only has a 50 MW generator, with provision for storing the rest of the heat for later generation, its capacity factor will be quite high, because the denominator is the capacity of the generator, not the collector. The plant will generate the same number of MW·h but spread over more hours: 50 MW × 10 hours instead of 100 MW × 5 hours.

A very interesting analysis of German PV electricity production, and subsidies here;

Fact is the PV farms in Germany PAY TAXES and don't get subsidies. They indirectly receive feed-in tariffs which still make a miniscule amount of the German electricity price:

And according to the facts the feed-in tariffs mostly thanks to wind power lower the electricity prices more than what the consumers pay for them:

The german gov is now on the hook for about $3bn a year for 20 yrs, and for this, they get the power output equivalent to a 900MW plant, but with less controllability.

Again you are a blatant liar or you are simply proud to be that ignorant. The German gov does not pay a single cent. For the one-hundreds-time: Feed-in tariffs are paid for by electricity consumers and NOT the tax payer! And this is besides the fact that feed-in tariffs actually lower the electricity prices more than what the electricity consumer pays for the instrument:
And if the electricity consumers still do not want to pay those extra 5% they can either free themselves from paying for that instrument (if they are a large industrial electricity consumer) or simply invest in efficiency measures.

The photovoltaic industry in Germany pays more taxes than what they indirectly receive in feed-in tariffs - not to mention that they reduced the German costly unemployment rate:
Of course Germany gets more energy for those $100 bn a year it pays for oil and gas imports, but then again those oil sheiks don't generate German jobs and don't warrant that they will still deliver cheap oil and gas in 20 years from now and neither will you.

we haven;t got the money to waste right now.

So you're basically saying that you don't have $3 bn including jobs for PV because you already wasted $11,900 bn on banks without any jobs and any return on investment at all... http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/277282


if the PV farms only "indirectly" receive feed in tariffs, then who *directly" receives them?
I stand corrected if you want to say the consumer pays, not the taxpayer, though, really, something that is mandated by government to be paid by someone, qualifies as a tax in my book. You can call it other names, like a feed in tariff, but if required by law, it;s basically a tax.

I would be very interested to see your comparison of the annual tax paid by PV farms compared to the subsidies they get. With poweer prices average 10c/kWh, and the solar subsdiies at 40c on top of that, that is one hell of a lot of tax to be paid to make it back. And if so, then why bother with the feed in tariff ion the first place?

Yes, the spot prices have come down, because the PV and wind farms get paid a direct subsidy (the feed in tariff) and then sell in the spot market. It's very easy to sell a kWh for zero when you are getting paid 40c to produce it.

You can compare the money wastage to banks, and in both cases the result is the same - money is wasted. Two wrongs don;t make a right.

If we are to have any hope of getting through peak oil, and transitioning away from fossil fuels in general, we should spend our limited capital where it creates the most benefit. The feed i subsidy of 40c/kWh for solar is way above the level needed to justify almost any conservation project.

With the capacity factor of 0.11, a 1kW panel will produce 963kWh/yr, or 19,260 over its 20yr life. at 40c/kWh subsidy, that panel has cost the consumer $7700, over and above the real value of the electricity produced. It represents a government mandated transfer of wealth from the consumers at large, to the owners of PV farms.

What should happen instead, is let consumers have the option of paying extra for electricity, if they want to pay the extra 40c, and feel good about solar, then have at 'er.

But as a business model it is futile. If it was to be scaled up to be, say 20% of all electricity, the cost of that 20%, with the feed in tariffs, would equal that of the remaining 80%. Surely then it becomes obvious a better way to go is to save 20%, or generate that 20% by other means.

A successful economy creates real value. Having government pay you a subsidy of 4x the actual value for a commodity is not creating real value, it is destroying it.

I would be very interested to see your comparison of the annual tax paid by PV farms compared to the subsidies they get.

Again that is a blatant lie. They PAY TAXES and don't get subsidies! But you obviously don't get it:
Private investors paid for their PV roof and thus the PV industry and its employees paid taxes NOW and these private investors won't get their big investment back with feed-in tariffs before 15 years from now, that is if their PV-roof produces the actual kWhs.

Yes, the spot prices have come down, because the PV and wind farms get paid a direct subsidy (the feed in tariff) and then sell in the spot market.

Again besides that it is not being sold in the spot market FACT is that the feed in tariffs lowered the electricity prices more than what the consumers pay for them, because most feed-in tariff electricity is produced with inexpensive wind, which is cheaper than the power produced with gas power plants but when operating dictate the electricity price for the entire country:

You can compare the money wastage to banks, and in both cases the result is the same - money is wasted. Two wrongs don;t make a right.

Wrong. Fact is that the PV industry reduced the unemployment rate and paid more taxes than what they indirectly received in feed-in tariffs.
The banks didn't do anything: No jobs, no electricity, no taxes - absolutely nothing!

we should spend our limited capital where it creates the most benefit.

You mean that's why it is sensible to spend $800 billion per year on your military and less than $1 billion on renewables?
Wind and PV have the highest potential of all renewables. It does make sense to invest in those 2 technologies among other renewable options.
First Solar would have never reached production costs of $850 per kW if it wasn't for feed-in tariffs allowing them to develop their thinfilm PV process and scale up production.

if they want to pay the extra 40c, and feel good about solar, then have at 'er.

Again nobody paid extra: According to the facts the feed-in tariffs lowered the electricity prices more than what they cost:
http://www.tagesspiegel.de/wirtschaft/art271,2147183 (PV plays a minor role)

But as a business model it is futile. If it was to be scaled up to be, say 20% of all electricity, the cost of that 20%, with the feed in tariffs, would equal that of the remaining 80%. Surely then it becomes obvious a better way to go is to save 20%, or generate that 20% by other means.

It is actually a very smart business model, because feed-in tariffs are lowered continuously especially in the PV sector to prevent high costs once PV has a higher share.
Germany will need more electricity as the entire heating, hot water sector will eventually be electrified.
If Germany would build gas power plants with low capital costs and increase its dependence on gas imports without reducing the German unemployment rate it will end up paying much more.

if the PV farms only "indirectly" receive feed in tariffs, then who *directly" receives them?

It should obviously have said: the taxes the PV industry pays.

Having government pay you a subsidy of 4x the actual value.

That's a blatant lie. The gov does not pay a single cent and the feed in tariffs lower the electricity price more than what the feed-in tariffs cost. http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/ewea_documents/documents/publications/repo...

anyone, You shouldn't call someone a blatant liar and then make an argument that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

1) Are there any taxpayers who aren't electricity buyers? Or any electricity buyers who aren't taxpayers? The feed-in tariff is effectively a tax on electric power. A tax on electric power raises prices overall.

2) Solar power companies of course employ people. But how you can know these companies increase net employment? If people didn't have to spend more on electric power as a result of the solar feed-in tariff they'd spend more on other goods and services which would also create jobs.

3) Putting expensive PV so far north with such low insolation levels is a really really expensive way to generate electricity. It would be more cost effective to spend the money on co-generation, wind, insulation, more efficient appliances, and other measures. Solar barely makes sense in SoCal, let alone Germany.

You should simply read what I wrote instead of repeating the same old lies.

The feed-in tariff is effectively a tax on electric power. A tax on electric power raises prices overall.

Wrong. Fact is that the feed in tariffs lowered the electricity prices more than what the consumers pay for them, because most feed-in tariff electricity is produced with inexpensive wind, which is cheaper than the power produced with gas power plants, which - when operating - dictate the electricity price for the entire country and the electricity costs for an entire country:

The feed-in tariff is effectively a tax on electric power. A tax on electric power raises prices overall.

And wrong. Fact is that feed-in tariff go directly to those who paid for and own the renewable power plants and only when they actually do produce electricity and not to the government and is therefore not a tax. And more importantly fact is that not just the wind industry but also the PV industry paid more taxes than what they indirectly received in feed-in tariffs.

So thanks to the feed-in tariffs, people actually do have more money. And this is besides the fact that the German wind, PV and biomass-waste industry generated over 200'000 jobs and reduced the very costly unemployment rate - making sure that people have even more money.

It would be more cost effective to spend the money on co-generation, wind, insulation, more efficient appliances, and other measures.

Wind and PV have the highest potential of all renewables and there's more wind during winter and more PV during summer. It does make sense to invest in those 2 technologies among other renewable options in order to reduce their production costs (especially what PV is concerned).
First Solar would have never reached production costs of $850 per kW if it wasn't for feed-in tariffs allowing them to develop their thinfilm PV process and scale up production. We cannot afford to wait a few decades until fossil fuel prices explode and then hope or pray for someone to develop cheap PV and ramp up production in a couple of months for nothing.

While Googling the peak oil news this morning I came across this jewel: Oil Panic and the Global Crisis Predictions and Myths by Steven M. Gorelickv. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2010. 255 pp., illus. $54.95, £32.50.

In this balanced consideration of the peak-oil controversy, Gorelick comes down on the side of the optimists.

The rest of the article is behind a pay wall but I looked the book up at Amazon.com and searched of several key words and found out why the author is so optimistic. On page 30, figure 2.7 is a pie chart that shows the total world endowment of crude oil. Total world endowment of crude oil, according to the author’s source, the EIA and USGS, is 3142 billion barrels. (The author reminds us that this does not include 324 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.)

The pie chart shows that of this 3142 billion barrels, 1095 billion barrels have already been produced. Remaining known reserves are 1342 billion barrels plus another 759 billion barrels of reserve growth and undiscovered reserves.

The author also cites The Oil and Gas Journal as another of his sources. Anyway there appears to be nothing new here. The author seems to accept, without question, the reserve numbers claimed by the OPEC national oil companies and repeated by the EIA, USGS and The Oil and Gas Journal. And of course those reserve growth and undiscovered reserve numbers come primarily from the EIA.

Ron P.

Based on conservative estimates on the discovery trends, I had 2800 billion barrels a couple of years ago:
that gave a rounded peak centered around 2008. (this was the dispersive discovery model convolved with the oil shock model)

2800 is closer to 3142 than it is to 2000 or some of the other low-ball estimates. Unfortunately, in the greater scheme of things, it won't matter much unless we can get some conservation measures in place.

WHT, you did not mention "OPEC" or "Middle East" a single time in your article. And since almost every optimistic cornucopian bases their opinions concerning peak oil on those massive reserve estimates, why the omission from your article.

The world, outside a few peak oil aware folks, believe those numbers WHT. When most in the MSM becomes aware that the numbers are larely bogus, it will be the shock felt around the world. I expect that to happen about two years from now.

According to current estimates, more than three-quarters of the world's proven oil reserves are located in OPEC Member Countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 72% of the OPEC total. OPEC Member Countries have made significant additions to their oil reserves in recent years, for example, by adopting best practices in the industry. As a result, OPEC's proven oil reserves currently stand at well above 1000 billion barrels.
OPEC Share of World Crude Oil Reserves 2008

Ron P.

I only use ideas from the world of physics and probability and statistics. So I couldn't figure out how to include the concept or the role of political boundaries. The oil doesn't know that OPEC sits on top of it, and I am a fan of Occam.

Also, the laws of probability improve based on the larger sample space. It run counter to the notion of the central limit theorem and law of large numbers to use a subset of the data (i.e OPEC) when the superset will work better. No sane statistician will take the smaller data set when the larger one is available.

What say you about these basic premises?

The oil doesn't know that OPEC sits on it, but OPEC knows that they don't sit on nearly as much oil as they claim.

I'm sure your statistical calculations are fine, but Darwinian's point remains - if you are trusting that the OPEC data is accurate, it doesn't matter how sound your physics and statistics may be.

The OPEC numbers are highly suspect. Garbage in, garbage out.

I would argue that GIGO is not the operative term.

Replace this with Bayesian inferencing and improving on estimates with all available information. Under Bayesian inferencing you can include bad additions to your data set but it will work out eventually. Ultimately, it is the best way we have to quantifying people's uncertainty in numbers.
Perhaps what we are forgetting is that many of the discovery estimates occurred years ago and they have become a matter of historical record. A model based on maximum entropy essentially does a continuous Bayesian update over all the past history of discovery updates. Any new outlier updates become hiccups in the overall trend.

And then you have to consider this. So what if the OPEC numbers are exaggerated? At worst it becomes an unbiased (from statistical considerations) conservative estimate at how much is left. I figure it is better to argue from a quantitative POV rather than hand-wave.

So Saudi Arabia is what, around 20% of total estimated reserves? And that is just reserves, not what has been produced thus far.

I see what you are getting at but saying something is GIGO seems to be a pure excuse for ignoring what you can do with the numbers you have. I appreciate these kinds of arguments because incorporating these considerations makes the defense of the model more solid.

I would argue that GIGO is not the operative term...

Under Bayesian inferencing you can include bad additions to your data set but it will work out eventually.

Would you argue that the amount of garbage in does not matter? Would you argue that the size of the error simply does not matter? I would argue that you are dead wrong here WHT. Very large amounts of bad data can obviously skew your results. And the OPEC reserve numbers are exaggerated by at least 50 percent.

So what if the OPEC numbers are exaggerated? At worst it becomes an unbiased (from statistical considerations) conservative estimate at how much is left..

Are you jus pulling our leg WHT? You are joking right? Both unbiased and conservative? I would argue that the OPEC estimates of their reserves are both extremely biased and the furthest thing from conservative. They are unbelievably liberal estimates.

I realize you are saying "unbiased from statistical considerations" but they are very biased from statistical considerations. Just like garbage in, garbage out, if you have biased data in then your output will be equally biased.

Ron P.

What someone means by "conservative" depends on what perspective you are coming from.

If you are being a pessimist in regards to oil depletion, a conservative estimate would include information that may not go your way. You are essentially remaining unbiased toward data that may make any projections more optimistic.

In contrast, if you are being an optimist in regards to oil depletion, a conservative estimate would include information that would low-ball your estimates.

The roles are reversed if you are being liberal.

So I am obviously a pessimist, so I include the conservative estimates of the first kind.

That makes perfect sense to me, yet I can understand how someone can get confused by this.

You claim you are being unbiased when you knowingly use deeply biased data. I fail to understand that logic at all.

Almost every peak oiler, and you are talking to peak oilers on this list, knows that the OPEC numbers are extremely optimistic, or overly liberal estimates. But because you claim to be a pessimist then the numbers become conservative. That makes even less sense.

So I am obviously a pessimist,

That is not so obvious to me. You say the world endowment of oil was originally 2800 billion barrels while we have used less than 1100 billion of those barrels. This means we have used less than 36 percent of the oil available. And you call that pessimistic? I would say you are wildly optimistic, a cornucopian as far as peak oil goes.

Just curious, are there anyone else on this list who believes we have used only slightly over one third of our original oil endowment, as does WHT? Do we have any other wildly optimistic cornucopians on this list? ;-)

Ron P.

The essential problem is that people do not have an appreciation for the effect of a fat-tail in a discovery profile. I did not assume an exponential growth in this model (which would have generated a Logistic and something closer to a URR of 2000), but instead assumed a power law growth which I think matches reality a bit better.

Just the term "fat-tail" implies that there is a lot of "meat" in the tail of a model. The URR is the integral of the whole curve so that is where the higher number comes from. The bottom line is that it doesn't shift the peak too much. In the link I provided, the peak shifts to the year 2008. Hmmm, wan't that two years ago?

So how am I wildly optimistic cornucopian?

This is the original plot with text from late 2007 that I posted on TOD:

I fit the discovery plot by Laherrere to the dispersive discovery model with a cumulative limit of 2800 GB and a cubic-quadratic rate of 0.01 (i.e n=6 for the power-law). This gives the blue line in Figure 27 below.

For the oil shock production model, I used {fallow,construction,maturation} rates of {0.167,0.125,0.1} to establish the stochastic latency between discovery and production. I tuned to match the shocks via the following extraction rate profile:

And notice the extraction rate of around 3.8%. Isn't that in line with what everyone is saying?

This is actually pretty interesting math and I have applied it to all sorts of other applications, so don't mind if people get worked up over it. It is perhaps counter-intuitive but that's often what happens when you put pen to paper and actually do the math.

The bottom line is that it doesn't shift the peak too much. In the link I provided, the peak shifts to the year 2008. Hmmm, wan't that two years ago?

So how am I wildly optimistic cornucopian?

I take it all back. You are a person who believed that world oil production peaked after consuming about 33 percent of production. Hubbert said it would peak at 50 percent. I think it peaked at about 50 percent as well but stayed on that plateau until over 60 percent was consumed.

But you think oil production peaked after only one third of the recoverable oil was consumed. I have no idea what one would call a person who believed such a thing. I would not even venture a guess. Perhaps someone else can give me a hint.

Ron P.

Venture a guess?

Guess what the cumulative production is under this production profile:

The peak occurs at Time=0 yet the URR is infinite. The integral under the curve defines the URR and if the decline occurs in a certain way, you can get the odd infinite URR. That said, there is an awful lot of wiggle room between 1/2 URR and infinity. Put in those terms 2/3*URR on one side does not seem bad.

Chalk it up to the way fat-tails and causality works. People have been intellectually poisoned by classical statisticians who only believed in the power of the normal where everything is supposed to be symmetric.

Just curious, are there anyone else on this list who believes we have used only slightly over one third of our original oil endowment, as does WHT?

There must be a lot of people that are confusing URR with OOIP. If all the stranded oil that could be recovered with CO2-EOR, etc is counted, one third recovered could be a good guess.

I haven't seen a proof of a symmetric peak oil curve and I can easily come up with an asymmetric curve.

Let's think of it like this. If I was a bad guy the good guys would think of me as a bad guy but my friends who are also bad guys might think of me as a good guy.

What WHT is saying is that even when he uses "conservative" estimates we are still screwed. You can insert "liberal" in the place of "conservative" if you didn't understand the good guy/ bad buy stuff above. If he used "liberal" estimates we would be even more screwed. Again if the good guy/ bad guy stuff is too complicated for you replace "liberal" with "conservative".

And to top it off, the author Gorelick of that book that Ron references shows the same 2 trillion and 3 trillion URR that Hubbert used in 1969. His peak also showed less than a 10 year shift in position after adding the extra trillion barrels.

So why aren't we attacking Hubbert as well?

I primarily want to put the analysis on a firm physical foundation. The logistic clearly doesn't explain anything and only gives the occasional close agreement due to happenstance.

The problem with using heuristics is that they have no defendable basis, since they are by definition aligned with the data. So when the data changes, everyone clinging to the original heuristic starts making crap up to rationalize their commitment to the new "standard" logistic. This is all so predictable and it does not happen with a real physics-based model, since the model can become invalid if it doesn't work in the face of new data. Yet, with these heuristics, people twist themselves into pretzels to justify their sunk costs and they always get away with it because it isn't science, just curve fitting. I guess that is why we can't fault Hubbert for his two estimates. Its also why all these estimates have chased their own tail over the years -- the old heuristics simply get updated with the new heuristic. No concept of Bayesian updating, entropic dispersion considerations, search rates, none of that stuff, just some "knobs" to tune (to put it into Gorelick's terminology).

I would argue that GIGO absolutely IS the operative term. GIGO is not a "pure excuse for ignoring what you can do".

It is a recognition that your calculations, though hewing to all the niceties of statistical analysis, are not going to be much use if you plug in bogus numbers.

You say "At worst it becomes an unbiased (from statistical considerations) conservative estimate at how much is left."
Unbiased? It is totally biased, statistically. This is not about "uncertainty in numbers", some random noise. These are systematically falsified data points, well to the upside. Conservative? Wildly optimistic is what it is.

You sure can sling the lingo, but I don't think I'm engaging in "hand waving". It is political and economic reality. You run your numbers, because it's what you can do, and you're good at it. But the reported OPEC numbers reflect what they need to do politically, and to bump up their allowed quotas. This means significant over-reporting of their reserves.

I am not sure what "bogus numbers" I am plugging in. I simply used Laherrere's discovery data that had his estimate of 2000 MB, and supplied the fat tails that were missing from his analysis.

I am not sure what the sticking point is. It seems to me that everyone is OK about including fat-tails when predicting financial calamity on Wall Street, yet here I am doing a bit of fat-tail analysis that may prolong peak a tiny bit and this is called GIGO.

Like I said above, I never intentionally included anything special about OPEC. Ron accused me of ignoring OPEC. I simply took the original Laherrere data and generated the fat-tails. There may be 800 MB left in there. Did Laherrere or Campbell approach it this way? I kind of doubt it.


I hate to admit my ignorance of statistics,but I am sure I am not the only regular here who cannot follow your arguments-especially as you seem to have a personal brand of statistics.

Have you posted free on line a beginner's intro to your work accessible to a well educated layman who has only encountered statistics at the level of a typical undergrad majoring in a field other than math or some field heavily dependent on statistics?

If so , please state PRECISELY how to find it.

Thanks in advance!

It's not statistics precisely but more about probability. The book I would recommend is by E.T. Jaynes, "Probability Theory: The Logic of Science".
Jaynes was one of the first people to apply entropy arguments across disciplines.

If you understand that book, everything falls into place. Its also unique in that it remained unfinished on his death. So there are many freely available versions on the net and one commercially available where a co-author tried to tie up the loose ends by providing exercises for the reader.

Also interesting about the book is that Jaynes provides a running commentary wherein he criticizes the conventional statisticians. You can just read this independent of the math and get a good feeling for what is going on.

If you can get through that, most of my applications are pretty trivial.

Okay, you say that the world's oil endowment is 2800 billion barrels. Of that 1095 billion barrels have already been produced. That leaves 1705 billion barrels still in the ground. That means we have produced less than 36% of the world's oil. If that be the case then we are nowhere near the peak!

Of course that was not your question. From what I can understand by your article, you are using discoveries, the rate of discovery and the size of discovery and some very complicated math to figure out how much discovered and undiscovered oil is left. I just ain't buying it no matter what the size of your sample.

I use a different method.

I have argued for years on this list that the more oil a country, a company, or the world, has to produce the more oil it does produce. The vast majority of the time they produce every barrel they possibly can but on rare occasions they may produce a little less.

I also believe that while most secondary and tertiary recovery methods may allow a field to produce a little more oil but mostly they just enable the oil to be pulled out a lot faster and delay heavy water cuts until a much later period in the life of the field. That is because they pull the oil from the very top of the reservoir instead of all the way down like the old vertical wells once did.

For these reasons I believe that a chart of the world's oil production will eventually look far more like a shark fin than a bell curve. We reached the peak in 2005 and have remained on that peak plateau every since. We are currently using from 3 to 3.5 percent of the world's remaining reserves each month. The numbers I list below are of course approximate. In billions of barrels.

Endowment  1900

Used       1100

Remaining   800

What say you about these basic premises?

Ron P.

You mean 3 to 3.5% per year, right?

Thanks Fuser. Yes I meant 3 to 3.5% per year. I was shocked to realize that I wrote "per month". I often screw up when writing but seldom that bad.

Ron P.

Oil estimates

I don't know where Dr. Mills got that graph. He includes it on his peak oil primer page:

I go with Dr. Campbell's assessment until I see one I think is better (haven't yet). That's 2 trillion barrels with a margin of error of a few hundred billion barrels either direction.

I'll also concur with Gail and Ron on the net impact of decreasing capital shaping the other side of the curve into more of a shark fin. Oil production will, in my view, look more like this:


The capital to get the most expensive oil will become scarce and thus that oil will remain underground forever. The Deepwater Horizon rig was $1 billion alone. Simmons points out that the infrastructure delivering oil today needs trillions of $'s to be replaced as it continues to rust away. The competition for capital will be fierce and I see nothing but the shrinking of the petroleum industry over a relatively short period of time (like decades, not a century).

It's for that reason that I don't worry too much about CO2 coming from coal to liquids plants, unlike my friends in the climate change community. According to the coal to liquids industry association website, it costs approx. $6.5 billion for a plant that would make just 80,000 barrels per day.

How long would it take to construct a CTL plant? What is the cost?

CTL plants are costly to construct, about $1 billion dollars for a 10,000 barrel/day facility, and up to $6.5 billion or more for a world-scale 80,000 barrel/day plant with a five-seven year lead time.


We're just not going to build that many of those plants (same with nuclear power plants as they are retired).

Decreasing capital availability has far reaching impacts.

At 10% interest, that would be $650 million/year for about 30 million barrels/year, or about $22/barrel. That's more than loose pocket change, but it doesn't seem even to begin to rule it out.

Yes, however, that cost estimate was made in a low oil price environment. We saw during the last price spike two things:
a) cost estimates for plant construction skyrocket
b) then they often get cancelled when costs exceed the amount investors are willing to put in

Here is a list of oil projects that were cancelled or delayed when credit got tight:

People routinely fail to consider that the economics of energy infrastructure projects are heavily impacted by the price of oil.

We just won't muster all the capital needed to make more than a small dent using CTL, in my view.

We just won't muster all the capital needed to make more than a small dent using CTL, in my view.

Do you think they can't / won't do it China ? Think again. Not only do they have enormous amounts of money - they have cheap labor that makes plant building cheaper.

evnov, I read China is reconsidering it, not in the last place because of the huge amounts of water needed in the process.

I think it is pretty obvious why it stuck to around 2000 billion barrels since around 1965.

Peak discovery occurred just a few years before this and according to Hubbert, there will be one curve that is both (a) symmetric and (b) the cumulative has to be double the amount observed at the peak.

If you use the Logistic curve, you will always get 2000 NB. Yet if you use some other curve that has a fatter-tail or includes the factor of reserve growth, then this number will go up.

Also you notice that no estimates go much below 2000 but several go much higher. The logistic generates that lower-level clamp and only a few people have had the nerve to predict anything higher than this.

So pretty obviously the number has to be 2000 or greater, just how much greater is the issue.

I noticed the last one on the graph is around 3000.

That might be this estimate from Shell, which also has a fat-tail if youu look closely.

So I notice that the upper range is around 3000. So what exactly is wrong with taking 2800 and providing a kind of safer upper-bound to the predictions? It still only moves the peak from around the Year 2004 to Year 2008.

This math is nowhere near as complicated as you seem to think.

It is essentially a fat-tail analysis that one can use to estimate how much oil remains undiscovered based on the premise of previous discovery data.

Endowment 1900

Used 1100

Remaining 800

What say you about these basic premises?

I don't think the Original Endowment of 1900 is a premise. That looks more like an assertion. So how exactly did you come up with 1900?

This math is nowhere near as complicated as you seem to think.

Oh you are just being modest. You know very well that one needs a degree in math to understand the some of the formulas in that article. But your math is only half the problem:

In the natural world, dispersion comes about from a range of rates or properties that affect the propagation of some signal or material (see the animated GIF in Figure 5). In terms of oil discovery dispersion, I model physical discovery as a maximum entropy range of rates that get applied to a set of exploratory processes. Some of these proceed slowly, others more quickly, while the aggregate shows dispersion.

Wow! That explains a lot. I was really worried about the maximum entropy range of rates that get applied to a set of exploratory processes. That makes everything so crystal clear.

So how exactly did you come up with 1900?

1. It is a an average of the estimates produced by geologists since about 1960. See Aangel's post above. Aangel says he does not know where Dr. Mills got this chart but I have seen it many times. It is an actual estimate by many different oil geologists of the total world oil endowment. Each verticle line represents a different oil geologist's estimate.

2. Non-OPEC oil reserves are usually stated at between 270 and 300 billion barrels. Allowing for yet to be discovered oil, 400 billion barrels would be a pretty good estimate. I think this is also a pretty good ball park figure for OPEC as well, though OPEC only produces 40 percent of the world's crude oil. That would mean 800 billion barrels remaining. Add that to the 1100 billion already produced and you get 1900 billion barrels.

Ron P.

OK, let me partially close the circle on this discussion.

The original point of your comment was to point out the book by Steven Gorelick. I already mentioned elsewhere in this thread that he is an expert at something called "Multiple-rate mass transfer". What else is this "multiple-rate mass transfer" but the simple idea of dispersion applied to material transfer.

So you essentially scoff at my explanation of dispersion. That's OK, as I was perhaps being two concise by half. Yet I guarantee that if we could get Gorelick to read that post, he may actually understand the ideas. The main gist is that Gorelick and I both comprehend the possibility of disorder in the environment. All processes do not proceed at the same rate, and this includes variations in discovery rates around the world. This leads directly to the fat-tail effects that I see and the fat-tails that Gorelick observes in solute transport in his groundwater contamination studies. Not all solute diffuses and drifts at the same rate, so that scientists see these long tails.

I might be strange in this regard, but I actually try to understand some of these ideas and try to make sense of them in some other context. Fortunate that I have been studying some of Gorelick's work in the last week, not knowing that he wrote this particular peak oil book.

Now there is also a distinction between the depth of Gorelick's analysis and the dumbing down he does for his book on peak oil. I will end up getting the book in all likelihood, but this is the snippet I get from Amazon:

Hubbert used a straightforward formula that yields the curve as illustrated in Figure 1.2. The logistic-curve formula is a simple expression with three adjustable parameters (mathematical knobs) that control the slope, peak, height and time of peak

So that's what you get when you dumb it down for a mass audience. You call things "mathematical knobs"


Ummm... yeah... and you call 'em knobs when adjustment knobs have all but fallen out of use... so the youngsters in your mass audience still have little idea what you're blathering about...

So that's what you get when you dumb it down for a mass audience.

But it works in the real world. Even if there are a lot of small fields left to discover, it doesn't matter much. There won't be (enough) capital, infrastructure and workforce to make the difference when TSHTF.

I only use ideas from the world of physics and probability and statistics. So I couldn't figure out how to include the concept or the role of political boundaries.

Tell us you're kidding here ... surely no-one is so pure (aka ingenuous).

So you are asking whether I have equations in my model that are like:

if (oilFrom = SaudiaArabia) then
    rate = 0.2;
elsif (oilFrom = USA) then
    rate = 10.0;

Seriously, if I did something like this, I would go find another hobby.
You do not quite grasp what is involved with trying to find universal behaviors.
Possibly there are none, but that won't keep me from trying.

So mathematics trumps geology (the USGS)?
The USGS(2000) has 758 Gb as undiscovered potential
with 592 Gb in rather expensive EOR.


CERA's USGS 2000 based report has 758 Gb of undiscovered potential and 1066 Gb of conventional oil. Most of the oil is unconventional(expensive) stuff like deep water, arctic, oil shale, EOR and tar sands.
CERA has deepwater only amounting to 2% of the resource and the Arctic only 3%(really only Alaska and Greenland according to latest USGS papers--Russia is rich in gas).

If you take EOR as reserve growth plus undiscovered 'potential' as conventional reserve growth you get 1Tb(conventional reserves), 1Tb(conventional reserve growth) and 1Tb(unconventional mostly in USA, Canada and Venezuela-currently at 5% production?).

EOR and unconventional oil are simply not happening in a significant way.

Take those off the table and you're back down to 1.5 Tb of oil.

Since when did the USGS do geology? That place is all politics, AFAIK.

Stephen Gorelick's resume makes interesting reading http://pangea.stanford.edu/research/groups/hydrogeology/docs/Gorelick_CV...

Former employee of USGS and recipient of an M King Hubbert award (!). It always seems odd to me that "Environmental Studies" in the US includes the Mining dept.

Good catch, I didn't realize this was the same Gorelick that is an expert on groundwater transport kinetics.

Gorelick pioneered something called Multiple-rate mass transfer, which is similar to what I do with dispersion modeling. The general idea is that many physical rates occur over a wide range of variability and therefore you can use a different analytical approach and simplify many of the arguments.

So the end result is that I can come up with a completely different conclusion than Gorelick. I just can't tell from what point-of-view that Gorelick is coming from. I can't even tell if he is being scientifically curious about the entire subject matter, or just taking on the role of a devil's advocate.

I have just seen the video footage of the oil leak at the bottom of sea. Doesn't look good does it?

Has anyone actually stopped to think about what would happen if it can't be stopped? It could continue for many, many years. Seriously, are there any contingency plans if BP can't stop it?

Drill more wells.


HA -- The only feasable contingency plan IMHO should the relief well fail is to drill another relief well. A relief well will kill the blow...eventually. It may be a very a painful process to watch but the RW will work. But maybe not the first time.

Two questions, just for my own education.

  1. There's a fair amount of play in the media about the risk of having a blow-out of the relief well, with the potential to create a second much larger leak. Are there any historical cases of a relief-well blow-out?
  2. The media also seem to be playing up the "worst case" scenario of the leak continuing at its present rate for years or decades. Any idea of the longest time needed to close a blown-out well using relief wells?

To echo several other commenters, your experience, expertise, and willingness to share same are greatly appreciated.

mc -- I know of two hands killed on an onshore relief well but it was a pipe handling accident not related to the blow out. Relief well can be dangerous but the good news is that they know what they’re getting into. The problem usually comes when you think you’re not heading into trouble but you are.

Not sure about the rest of the stats.

Thus my call for 4 relief wells to be drilled simultaneously (as quickly as DW rigs can be pulled off other jobs, regardless of the cost to BP).


Hey, I'd missed seeing you propose that, good!

I've been saying six or more. WTH shouldn't every available rig be set up and trying? Drill baby drill. Let's add a penny per gallon to the fuel tax now.


HAcland, get yourself a nice order of fish and chips and savour the flavour. Really savour the flavour.

Just think. You may live to see the day when the beaches of Blackpool live up to the name.

Bottom line, it is grim :-(

Zadok, I caught the question you had the other day. The Pow Wow Trail in in northern Minnesota right in the middle of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. No one hikes there because the canoeing is so good. There is a great book out there called Lost in the Wild chronicling a couple of harrowing misadventures in that area. The one guy started a hike on the Pow Wow a little too late in the season... How he made it out is awe inspiring.
The weirdest part of this is that the lost hiker referred to a hiking guide as a reference that I helped to edit. It turned out that the references in the book were mapped out just prior to the big straightline wind blowdown that occurred in 1999. So all the trails got messed up and then stuff happens.

Thanks Web for answering my earlier question. It was the acronym BWCA that threw me off.

You must be a bit of a woodsman to help edit hiking guides. Unfortunately as an adult, I haven't spent nearly as much time in the woods as I would like... as a boy, the forest was a second home and playground for me. I miss it.

Every summer now, I volunteer at a Teen Camp located 12 kms away from the nearest neighbour, complete with no running water or electricity. (The cookhouse is outfitted with propane for refrigeration, lighting, and cooking) You don't realize how much light pollution obscures the night sky until you get away from civilization and see the Milky Way in all of its brilliance.

Here's to going primitive. You've never been lost until you've been lost in the woods. Even the danger of that is, somehow, bizarrely, refreshing.

Keep the hiking going, Web. Beavers rule!!


Darkness is not darkness unless you have been in the woods. I recall one hike that we were scoping out close to Lake of the Woods. It was getting late in the season and thought to just go out a little ways before it got dark. Without benefit of a flashlight, we could barely make it back 100 yards.

Darkness is not darkness until you've been underground...

E. Swanson

Yes. The darkest dark I've ever seen has been in caves a hundred feet under the ground.

Your eyes are better than mine. In the same place, I couldn't see anything.

Mine too...

E. Swanson

Darkness is not darkness unless you have been in the woods.

Especially when overcast or raining.

Walking blind is no fun. Sometimes it means resorting to navigating on all fours. In complete darkness, crawling certainly helps. Less likely to trip and fall on sharp objects or break bones.

Upright on two legs is only an advantage if you can see where you are going. Same holds true underground.

Backpacking rule is to stay in one spot should you find yourself lost after nightfall. Let the light find you, not the other way around.

Why do I get the niggling feeling this is a metaphor for life in general?

One reason why I keep a fueled zippo lighter in my pocket at all times, it is handy to have if you are stuck in a place without light, be it outside after dark or inside a building.

I also carry a swiss army knife, whose style they don't seem to make anymore, at least not with all the same parts/blades.

If you are going hiking take a small pack of torch making items. One Item I usually have handy is a 35mm film container with vaseline soaked cotton balls, not to much vaseline, but each cotton ball has at least half of it soaked, the can will hold about 3.

I also used to pretend I was blind, and picked up a few skills dealing with dark places. Use a walking stick to navigate. But it is best not to get stuck out without light in the deep woods, if you are stay put.

I used to go spelunking. Turning off the lights and sitting down to let the experience flow over you is fun, you start getting used to being blind after a while, or at least I do.

It is kinda funny when you say it is dark dark, as if there are grades of dark, it is either dark or there is visible light even if dimly there. I have pretty good night vision.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Hey Charles, good points for anyone venturing in the woods.

An army knife is handy wherever you go. Funny you should mention torch making items. One of the few disadvantages of quitting smoking a few years ago was that I no longer carried the perfunctory and omnipresent lighter or matches. Now I must consciously pack them away with me.

Dark dark is somewhat the same as whiter than white.;-) Most people know the difference, but understand what's being said anyway. The beauty of the English language.


+1 on the book. An excellent read.

I read the article at "EVs Will Fail in the Marketplace, Says a Battery Insider".

Time after time I read articles like this where the sole factor considered in EV adoption is cost, and the only cost used for comparison is the CURRENT cost of gasoline to power a Toyota Prius. No look ahead at potential gasoline prices two or four or ten years out, no comparison of the maintenance costs, resale, or anything other than "Why buy an EV when putting gasoline in a Prius is much less expensive?" They can't even be bothered with the simple things like the additional cost of oil changes, plug changes and timing belt maintenance on an ICE that do not exist with a pure EV.

My current vehicle, which has 240K miles on it, requires a timing belt/water pump/radiator flush/fuel filter/serpentine belt and spark plugs every 100K miles, and I change the oil every 5000K. Air filter every 10K miles. I needed plug wires one time (expected), and a fuel pump (not unexpected). In addition, two clutches. None of these are breakdowns, but none would have been required on an EV. The total cost of all these invisible services has added up to nearly $5000, not counting my time and effort to get all of this done. If you consider time and effort for these services, plus the time and effort associated with the approximately ONE THOUSAND times I have had to fill the beast with gasoline, the EV equation is looking very, very square with the gasoline vehicle. Just consider the fueling time alone. At five minutes per fill, I have spent 5000 minutes, or 83 hours fueling, and a large portion of that time has been spent standing next to my vehicle breathing gasoline fumes. With an EV you will just spend ten seconds plugging in.

It is this kind of unbalanced thinking that is leading us down the rathole of no return.

With an EV you will just spend ten seconds plugging in.

And waiting 0.5 - 8 hours for it to charge up.

And waiting 0.5 - 8 hours for it to charge up.

During which time you can be eating, shopping, working, partying, sleeping or doing whatever you want (except driving) to pass the time. The time taken to refuel an ICE powered vehicle is too short to allow anything else to be done while refueling so, it's really about a different paradigm for refueling.

Alan from the islands

What if what you want to be driving?

What if what you want to be driving?

Maybe people will have more than one battery which they can swap for the empty one.

At $10k per battery? Do you keep them in the glovebox?

This is where rapid battery swap stations come in. Edison had designed one over a hundred years ago, so this is not rocket science.

One company working on this now is Better Place

Yeah, I know about ABP.

How many extra batteries have to be manufactured for each car out there so that there is always one waiting for you?

The vast majority of trips and days of driving can be done by an EV with a range of 100 miles. If we actually did this, we would still have a massive reduction in oil usage. The fact that the remaining trips were done by ICE, PHEVs, train, bus, plane would not be problem worth solving in the near to mid term.

For those who don't have two cars, it makes sense to rent an ICE for those times when one really needs to go over 100 miles. And, then there are other alternatives like trains, buses, and planes.

...there are other alternatives like trains, buses, and planes.

The technical solutions to the problems of FF consumption seem to be without limit.

What if people lived closer to where they work and walked or rode a bike because they couldn't afford a car? The assertion that that is the end of the American Dream is propaganda. When I was a kid childhood obesity was an anomaly. Today it is an epidemic. The answers are simple but we can't stop with this flight to complexity:

Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), examines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations,[1] and the Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory. Tainter argues that sustainability or collapse follow from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions[2] and that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their "energy subsidies" reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. He recognizes collapse when a society rapidly sheds a significant portion of its complexity.

Tainter argues that collapse, or the Middle Ages, was a rational response to an economic problem of the paradigm of Roman civilization.

It's my thesis that declining affluence, although inconvenient, will do more to solve many of the complex problems associated with peak oil and Climate Change than all of the cornucopian central planning solutions combined. Are the smart folks the ones that are learning how to deal with less of the stuff in preparation for where we're headed?


Yes. Even if the only cars in the future are EVs, they should fill a small niche not covered by walking, biking, etc. The goal should be to make mobiity less necessary to meet one's daily needs. Every attempt should be made to make as many things as local and as close to the consumer as possible. If we can minimize our costs of transportation, then will need to be less affluent. Declining affluence will be less inconvenient if people can do things like walk to the corner store or "distribution" point to meet their needs. Optimized home delivery is also more efficient than each person individually going to the store and making a round trip home with their purchases. And then there are all the infrastructure ramifications including less need for duplicative, expensive parking lots and structures.


My walkscore is 78.


My walkscore is 89. Someone should start doing bikescores. That would be interesting.

As I live in the boonies, my walkscore is 3. But just as the folks who lived in our house before us used 35 kWh per day, whereas we use less than 5, this walkscore site doesn't account for lifestyle differences. I get in a car about twice a month. I have eliminated my 'need' for all of the amenities to which it calculated travel distance insofar as possible. It doesn't know that I walk to a neighbor's once each week to pick up my local, raw milk as part of a collective. Does it know that I am willing to walk the mile plus to the nearest 'theater', (local improv group). Does it know I have no daily commute? Interesting tool, to be sure, but I don't think of it as 'my' walkscore, I think of it as a default based on average American BAU lifestyle walkscore, for the place I happen to live.

Shift the house number up and down the road and watch the walk score vary. I have a 70. If I go up the street about 8 houses the score drops to a 60 and if I shift on my street about a 5 minute walk to State Street in Santa Barbara I get to a 77. So the scores seem kinda misleading to me.

If we can minimize our costs of transportation, then will need to be less affluent.

Gizmoes are the things that affluence brings to the tables and shelves and usage of people that can be set aside for less stuff all around. Once I saw a friend pull out an electric knife to cut a turkey, when I just use the old fashion kind. Though there are some high priced knives out there, keeping them sharp is the same process. The friend had a 6 figure income, so he could have afforded a high end knife. It just reminded me of the salad shooter uselessness gizmo.

We have built an affluence based society, where the more money we have the more gadgets we have, the more collections we have, the more generally useless stuff we have in our houses. I suppose We Here, would be in the same class if someone were to ask us what we use all the nuts and bolts, screws and nails for. One persons useless junk might or might not be useless to the next person in some cases. If you can't use a hammer, then a nail is useless( snicker, as if it is that simple), but if you don't care for toads, will someone's collection of 40 kinds of glass toads be as useless?

I used to collect glass bottles, during the days of living single, had over 3,000 different ones, a lot of them are not made anymore. But they were getting hard to take care of and useless to me, I've got some still in boxes, but I gave away a lot and trashed some more. I guess you could class me as affluent.

If you can load it in a car you are more willing to buy it than if you have to carry it in a pack for walking, biking, public transit. Maybe we need to teach our kids to not pick up every neat thing they see, unless they can carry it all the time. Nomads not keep useful items, and items dear to them, but fewer than most other people. I have a big pair of ViseGrips that I have personal attachment to, they are one of the first tools my dad gave me when I left home, they'd been his for a while. They are handy enough to get put in my bug out bag.

Best hopes to train more nomadic tricks of living.

Charles, BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I used to collect glass bottles, during the days of living single, had over 3,000 different ones, a lot of them are not made anymore.

When I was about 12 years old I got into comic book collecting and trading. I spent a huge share of my paper-route money on comics. (yeah I was a geek...you got a problem with that?) When I was 22 I joined the service and when I was overseas my parents moved and they gave my collection to goodwill.

"it was just taking up space" says my mother in her defense. 32 years later I still grieve about my lost treasures.


Why oh why does that seem like a common thing that parents do? They seem to keep all the most boring useless junk of yours that you never want to see again but they seem to have a laserlike focus on throwing away the ONE THING that you really wanted to keep forever. All of my friends have similar stories it seems.

In my case? A giant roll-up wall map of the SF Bay Area, with detail down to every street, court, lane, creek, park, RR track, etc. Made by Thomas Guides I think. And my folks knew I was a map junkie and in fact nicknamed me "Map-o-Matic" when I was a kid because I always knew directions better than them. Yet one day when they cleaned out a fraction of the junk in the garage, out went my rolled up map that was neatly hiding out of the way in some corner.

Well, this is destined to get interesting. Things that "are not rocket science" to a certain blinkered sort of wand-waving technical-scientific mind-set sometimes become much more like rocket science in the real world, where human factors and economics, not just technical feasibility, come into play.

If I'm even contemplating ever swapping the battery, then I want to rent it, absolutely not buy it. I certainly don't want to risk turning in a new $10,000 battery for a worn out piece of garbage - which, given the enormous temptation, would be certain to happen, and probably sooner rather than later. But it's all new-ish technology, so whoever's renting me the battery could very well go belly-up during the life of the car, or get bankrupted by some after-the-fact set of genius-Congresscritter regulations, leaving me stuck, when the music stopped, with, by then, a junk battery and therefore a relatively useless (but expensive) car. It's even worse when new-ish technology is provided via some kind of venture-capital startup - history informs me that those come and go like mayflies. (This sort of thing is why the gov't bailed out GM so generously, knowing full well that no one would ever buy GM cars again if they had any doubts about future parts and service.) So now I guess I want to rent the car as well, rather than take a chance that it becomes stranded, or that a new or reorganized battery supplier, armed with a captive market and perhaps impregnable patent fortifications, elects to charge an unaffordable price.

Oh, and I want to rent the battery without putting down a significant security-deposit on it, because if the scheme goes south, I won't be getting my deposit back. With rental cars, there are so many economic and tax fiddles in play, supported ultimately by the used-car market, that I can rent without putting down a deposit. But I wonder about batteries; I don't imagine there could be much of a market for used batteries.

Seems to me, then, that down this road must lie a wholesale change to the entire business model of the very very conservative car industry. Not the least bit impossible from a blinkered technical point of view - but, like I said, destined to get interesting.

Again, I don't understand the pushback on this. Go to betterplace.com and actually look at the website. They are proposing battery leases, in fact, the Nissan Leaf was originally going to have a leased battery, but Nissan decided at the last minute to make it a part of the car. Why? Because some people didn't like the idea of a leased battery.

Obviously a lot of people are so set in the ICE paradigm that they can't see the forest for the trees. Will this infrastructure appear overnight? No, but it *will* appear eventually. Why? Because it has to. Either the Better Place technology or something better.

When gasoline is rationed to five gallons per driver per week and costs $20.00 per gallon, this will all become very attractive, and the infrastructure will be built. Do you want to spend $400 a month to buy 20 gallons of gasoline and go say, 600 miles max, or do you want to spend $400 a month for a battery lease and you can go as far as you want? Then consider that the maintenance costs on an EV will be a fraction of the maintenance costs of an ICE vehicle. The $20.00 a gallon/five gallons per week + the low cost maintenance of an EV takes care of the economic push to EV. I completely miss the part about "human factors". Would you rather pull into a bay and sit for two minutes while your battery is swapped for you, or pull up to a pump, get out, and pump gas into your tank?

How many people who are saying EVs will never fly thought twenty years ago that people would be willing to pay $100 a month to carry around an iPhone? Be honest. Twenty years ago people would just have laughed at you over the prospect. Why pay $100 a month for a phone when you already have one at home and in the office, and who needs to carry around a computer anyway?

The various pushbacks including the one you newly mention, against rented batteries (!), are not about science, nor are they precisely about dollars. That is, they're not technical pushbacks about cut-and-dried mathematics - which seems to be why they puzzle you so.

They're pushbacks about financing, potential fraud, continuity of supply, who gets to eat what risks, how much the customer is to pay up-front, and other matters of a similar sort. These are basically subjective social matters difficult to quantify. Owing to these factors, it'll never be quite so cut-and-dried simplistic as, bang:

Do you want to spend $400 a month to buy 20 gallons of gasoline and go say, 600 miles max, or do you want to spend $400 a month for a battery lease and you can go as far as you want?

Because, for example, as I observed, if the venture-capital battery leasing startup I'm relying on flies the coop, as so many startups do, I risk being left with a garbage battery and thus a relatively useless car. (In fact companies on the way down often cut corners with abandon, so I'd be virtually certain to be left with a garbage battery.) I can't assess that in a simplistic, oh-it's-so-blindingly-obvious mathematical model, because there's no means to estimate the odds of such an occurrence. Maybe 1%, maybe 70%, who knows?

Now, if a car company, flush with money, wants to take on the entire leasing system as an open ended inalienable obligation, fine. But it may be some time before that happens, and it's not sensible to make such a large personal investment until after the risks, rules, and likely pitfalls have become reasonably clear - and until it's clear that the service is highly likely to remain available for the reasonable life of the car.

Now, if the government wishes to step in with an open ended guarantee to those effects... oh, but wait a minute, the government is already tapped out umpteen times over...

in fact, the Nissan Leaf was originally going to have a leased battery, but Nissan decided at the last minute to make it a part of the car. Why? Because some people didn't like the idea of a leased battery

Actually, the reason the nixed the leased battery idea was because the $7500 US tax credit is only available if you purchase the battery along with the car.

Aargh, once again ham-fisted government picks the "winning" business model. With friends like that...

All of the technology improvements that we experienced in the 1900 to 2000 era produced new products and devices that offered beneficial services very much more cheaply than alternative approaches for doing the same effort--car versus walking; trucks vs transporting by animals; computer versus hand calculations of numbers.

When there is a truly better solution, people adopt it willingly.

But I think we are kidding ourselves about people adopting "solutions" that are more expensive. Customers have only so much income. If they have to cut back in buying something else to buy this "solution", the result is likely to be more recession and debt defaults, leading to lower prices for goods (including fossil fuels), not higher prices. Idealism won't win out--what will win out is the practicality of people's pocketbooks.

But I think we are kidding ourselves about people adopting "solutions" that are more expensive. Customers have only so much income.

Nobody is claiming everyone is going to buy an EV in the next year. We are talking about a decades long transition.

Besides, already Nissan Leaf after credits is the same price as a Prius. A lot of people spend more than $25K on cars - so it is not like they need to spend a lot more now.

When there is a truly better solution, people adopt it willingly.

Exactly. That is why I think people will adopt EVs. It is a better solution.

BTW, I find it interesting that a place that talks about how gas will become scarce & expensive in the coming years, thinks EVs will not be seen as a solution by individuals ! May be it infringes on their apocalypse fantasy ?

Nobody is claiming everyone is going to buy an EV in the next year. We are talking about a decades long transition.

You think we have DECADES to make changes?

It is a fantasy, magical thinking, to think that we can techno-fix the complexity of peak oil.

It is a fantasy, magical thinking

Speaking of "magical thinking", a HuffPo editorial today is precisely directed to that issue:
Magical Thinking Caused the BP Spill

Here is an excerpt of interest:

Magical thinking would be of only academic interest if it did not have such a profound affect on public policy. Naïve faith in science and the "self-correcting" marketplace led to deregulation and, ultimately, horrendous disasters. Now America is facing difficult choices about issues such as deficit reduction and energy. Widespread use of magical thinking could preclude wise decisions.

You think we have DECADES to make changes?

Same can be asked for everything we talk about here - renewable energy, organic gardening etc etc.

The real question is how do you think the post-peak oil world will play out. If you think in a couple of years fedearl govt will melt away and we will have ad max scenario - nothing really matters.

If you think in a couple of years fedearl govt will melt away and we will have ad max scenario - nothing really matters.

The federated United States of America existed before the industrial revolution. Russia was a colossus long before it experienced the benefits of coal or oil. China has had periods of contraction and expansion but contemporary borders are not that much different from thousands of years ago.

Cheap energy did not create large states or empires. It merely eased communication and transportation among peoples and places. Even a Mad Max futuristic scenario doesn't prelude the possibility of overlords elsewhere exerting an influence over local populations.

It is one of the areas where I do quibble a bit with James Howard Kuntsler's thesis that the role of the US federal government will diminish as economies resume local dimensions. It may, but then, it may not.

This isn't to argue that BAU is possible without cheap energy. It clearly isn't. But the unraveling of the global economy may lead to more violence in some parts of the world, yes, and the possibility exists of more cooperation in others. It may lead to the collapse of some mega-states while simultaneously could lead to the creation of others.

History tells us that human beings will figure out some arrangement for living together or will kill one another trying.

On a crash basis, we can electrify the 33,000 miles of main line railways in seven (perhaps eight) years.

Best Hopes,



A question of clarity... sorry, my brain is slow tonight.

"On a crash basis", do you mean "concerted effort with the political will to do so" or "after the collapse"?

33,000 miles of railway is a fair amount of line. I would guess that would cover most major centers of the contiguous United States.

Best hopes for rail,


A concerted effort.

I later found UK estimates that were 75% of the US rate (adjusted).


Thanks Alan,

The U.K. estimates, I am assuming, would be lower because of shorter distances. Not as much territory to cover perhaps?

I assumed 5 teams, the four biggest US railroads (UP, BNSF, CSX, NS) and a 5th team equivalent of everyone else (the two Canadian RR with US lines, CP & CN, plus KCS plus the Class 2s like Florida RR). The first year, just organization, materials acquisition, engineering, etc. Second year, 500 miles electrified/team , 3rd year, 1,000 miles/team, 4th year 1,500 miles/team ...

UK has just one railroad company and their crash electrification goals (never implemented) had about 75% of what I proposed for each team individually.

Best Hopes for Rail Electrification,


The Canadian Pacific Railway built its transcontinental main line (Montreal to Vancouver) in about 4 years. They could probably electrify it in about the same length of time.

However, their incentive was that they didn't have any revenues from it until they drove the last spike and could start selling tickets from Montreal to Vancouver (and moving Chinese silk from Vancouver to Montreal).

Any idea what the electric locomotives will cost? How big a loss do the RRs take on the existing diesel locomotives?

As a fraction of total US copper consumption any idea how much copper would be involved in such a large electrification program?

On a crash basis we can buy every American household an EV in 10 years ! If gas becomes very expensive, the governement can direct all car makers to make EVs fulltime. Like they asked everyone to make tanks during WW II.

It would cost less than the total wall st bailout too ;-)

Not sure if that is possible. Can lithium mining be scaled up that rapidly?

When there is a truly better solution, people adopt it willingly.

Exactly. That is why I think people will adopt EVs. It is a better solution.

You're assuming it will be a better solution, but it will be more expensive and the range is still a problem. Where we live, its an hour drive to a city and an hour back. With gasoline its no problem, but we can't stop and recharge at a tree. And even if we could stop to recharge that's lost time.

But also, the big concern I have is the life of and cost of the batteries. Every battery I've ever had, whether it could be recharged or not had a certain life to it that always dissapointed me. What if your EV goes say 60 miles on a charge when you first get it, but a year later only goes 50, then the next year only 40, but the cost is in the thousands to replace the batts plus the car payments? It starts to become much more expensive and very aggravating.

EV's will end up being a niche product for those that drive only a few miles, live in a city and the don't drive every day. That way it will always hold a charge and the batts will last a long time.

Where you live is irrelevant given that most people don't live an hour from the nearest city, town, or suburb. EVs don't have to solve everyone's transportation problem, just help most people with their transportation problem.

Frankly, I think all autos,whether ICEs or EVs should become a niche product. Long distance travel, if really necessary, should be done by other modes.

EVs don't have to solve everyone's transportation problem

Then by your statement it doesn't halt the problems associated with peak oil.


The idea is to make the long distance travel by ICE a niche market. This would cut way down on the use of oil. In the near to mid term, focus should be on solving 90% of the problem, not 100% If we cut oil use by 90%, that would stretch out the availability of oil and give people time to make other arrangements as they say. It is trying to fill the needs of that last 10% which drives costs way up.

The problem as you have stated is that there is no 100% solutions. It is hard for most people to see that. Most people have a problem they fix it, not fix it part way. Changing people's idea about how they fix problems might be key here.

My father is a problem solver, if something breaks, he fixes it, whatever it is. But you learn that not all breakages can be fixed the same way, some things can only be made to be less than 100% whole again. A lot of my mental processes have been influenced by watching him work out the solutions to problems, when you have many different ways to fix something you can juggle several of them to get a better fix in the end.

We have a bunch of issues here as far as moving people from place to place, and all of the methods available to us should be used. In some cases I'd hope to see more horse drawn carts and wagons coming into play.

In computers you have hot swap technics, why not in cars? Like changing out a set of tired horses at the stage coach depot.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

And not everything that's broken can be fixed.

But I guess we're not allowed to entertain that thought.

It is like me trying to tell people that modern agriculture is broken or at least not broken yet but will soon be broken because of Peak Oil.

I have been crunching some numbers recently, on how much land is available for use as viable growing land. After you take out for deserts you have just over 39 million sq Miles of land left over. That figure leaves you with 3 to 4 acres of land to feed each human on earth, depending on the number of humans you have---A range of 6.2 to 8.3 billion people.

People were telling me it took 5 acres to feed a human and I thought that sounded like a little to much, if you average it out, then we have reached the point of no return because land that is not desert should only feed a little over 5 billion people. And we all know that not every one of those acres that is not desert is under cultivation, some of it is still wild. So how many acres of land are we using to feed the people we have?

Aw well you got me started on a different topic.

We are in a broken system that looks like it is still working, but just seems like that, if you get to looking at the details and the future outlook, you start seeing the broken nature of it.

Without modern transportation we would not be able to move all the goods that we need to move, or grow as much as we need to grow to live like we are now.

Localize is okay if your local area can support the food needs of the area and people. Localize is scary when you think about feeding everyone in say Las Vagas with local produce, which has to also depend on rainwater to water it. Or places like Hong Kong, where are they going to grow enough food there?

Most of my yard is on rainwater rations. If it does not get rainwater it does not get watered. I might change that if the heat waves hit and things get parched, but right now I am trying to see if the systems I am designing work as planned.

Anyone can draw a plan up, getting the drawn plan to actually work in the real world takes hands on effort.

So how many people could we feed if we couldn't depend on the oceans providing food( see gulf oil spill and limiting fish catchs as a side event)?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Every battery I've ever had, whether it could be recharged or not had a certain life to it that always disappointed me.

Bingo. They seem to vary between fair-to-poor and outright garbage, with the life-cycle graphs being lab creations usable only for decorative purposes. So until a good sample of old EV batteries (which don't exist yet) has been measured, it's all a crapshoot. The speculative life-cycle information might prove true or it might not.

You do know there are people still driving RAV4EV or Ranger EV, right ? After 10 years they still get decent range.

If your experience is laptop & cell phone batteries - then obviously you shouldn't carry that forward to EVs.

A t-shirt & bullet proof vest aren't the same when it comes to being in the firing line ;-)

Wondering: what % of original range is "decent" range? 30%? 50%? 70%?


Passed 100,000 miles in 06.06, with no battery problems or range loss. Driving about 100 miles a day as the primary commute car.

Anyway, Nissan says 70%-80% range after 7-10 years. If we don't have a "collapse" we should be able to get a much better battery by then.

Where we live, its an hour drive to a city and an hour back. With gasoline its no problem..

I thought gasoline was the problem ? Or do you actually don't think peak oil is real ?

I think he was saying that if the EV can't get him to the next charging (or swap) point, then it's not a substitute for the gasoline vehicle... peak oil or not. That might prove to be an issue in sparsely populated regions of the country. At the extreme you see the signs, "No Services Next 120 Miles". Maybe people in areas like that will have to kludge in extra batteries somehow...

I think for niche cases like that - an EREV with bio-diesel that can be made at home / locally would be ideal. While we know bio-diesel doesn't scale well, locally I think it is viable.

Or get a gas trailer.

Besides, already Nissan Leaf after credits is the same price as...

And there's the rub. How sustainable is an EV if the only way it can be done is by massive govt subsidies, which means more borrowing and more debt?

I think part of the problem is making EV's to try to be all things to all people. Make them a small, two seater, designed for commuting, as that is the target market for EV's.

IF the gov MUST subsidies EV's, they should have thrown down the gauntlet and only offered a tax credit (of say $5k) on EV's that sell for less than $20k. This would have led to some very interesting gaming of the system, and guaranteed that EV's were smalle enough to work well and cheap enough that people who need to save money, can afford them.

One final point about EV's in a post peak oil scenario. With oil prices through the roof, energy prices won;t stay where they are either. They cost of running an EV will be less than a Prius, but both will be very expensive, and fast become out of the reach of many people.

EV bikes will have a bigger future..

I agree that we need to stop obsessing with the idea that EVs have to be all things to all people, simply a drag and drop into the existing system. They can perform a niche well for short ranges. It would be a better use of government funds to focus on that. I don't care if EVs ever go over 100 miles.

If you really need to go over 100 miles, drive something like a Prius. Sometime in the future, hopefully, the train will be feasible for more people.

And there's the rub. How sustainable is an EV if the only way it can be done is by massive govt subsidies, which means more borrowing and more debt?

The first thing I learnt when I started reading TOD is that oil is heavily subsidized - some direct but a lot of it indirectly. Is $480 a barrel for oil - out of which $400 is subsidized - sustainable ?

If subsidies for oil is removed, you don't need subsidies for EV. It will be competetive with ICE cars. You can't spend a trillion dollar fighting wars to "secure" oil & then crib about relatively small amounts of subsidies in the beginning for a new technology.

For 2008, $400/bbl would be $2.85 trillion, which would be 98% of the $2.9 trillion in Federal budget expenditures. The notion that the "subsidy" for oil is equal to the entire Federal budget is so far beyond absurdity that it would be a ludicrous waste of time to analyze it any further. (Conversely, discontinuing the imagined "subsidy" would free up so much money that virtually all Federal taxes could be abolished? Really?) So maybe the notion is fantasy or rubbish - or, more likely, an ideologically based cheap shot with no basis in fact?

Yes, ideologically based cheap shot with no basis in fact. I'm using the figures from here ... you would be sure to recognize the liberal bias of Heritage Foundation & St Ronnie ;-)


Milton Copulus, the head of the National Defense Council Foundation, has a different view. And as the former principal energy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a 12-year member of the National Petroleum Council, a Reagan White House alum, and an advisor to half a dozen U.S. Energy Secretaries, various Secretaries of Defense, and two directors of the CIA, he knows his stuff.

After taking into account the direct and indirect costs of oil, the economic costs of oil supply disruption, and military expenditures, he estimates the true cost of oil at a stunning $480 a barrel.

BTW, assuming all subsidies are paid by governement isn't correct. The cost is "socialized".

the article went on to say

Summing It Up

To be honest, I have no idea how one could sum up these estimates. There are too many different boundaries for the costs that are counted and a lot of troublesome math that wouldn't yield a terribly significant number anyway.

Seth Meyers on SNL Weekend Update would say "Really!"

I don't have time to find the thread right now, but a little while ago I calculated the cost of the Iraq war at $15 per barrel.

I've been thinking about this issue extensively for our family. We downsized one car by getting rid of our van, getting a membership to a carsharing co-op, getting two electric bicycles, and taking public transit more. We are generally happy with just one car and don't want to own more than one. (Saves us $6000 - $8000 a year.) The car we have is a 2005 Toyota Prius which has taken abuse over the years (dings, scratches, children eating in the car) but works pretty darn well. It is paid off. In general we are not car-status people and keep our cars until the maintenance costs start escalating. (10 years +)

On the other hand, after this latest gulf oil disaster, I am completely disgusted with oil and my participation in its continual destruction of our environment. The options I'm considering: selling the Prius for a Nissan Leaf or getting a plug-in conversion upgrade for the Prius.

Most (90%) of our driving is around town. We occasionally make trips 60 - 80 miles round trip. Once or twice a year we might drive 4 hours to Tahoe. Once a year we make a family road trip of 1000 miles (each way)to visit family in Seattle and stay for a month on one of the islands in the vicinity. Right now we drive 9000 miles or so a year.

The plug-in conversion I like best is by this company:

It has an all EV mode, they use LiFePO4 batteries, and you can go up to 52 mph in EV mode, an option other conversion systems don't have. They have a 10Kw system and a 4Kw system. The 4Kw system has less EV range (20 miles) but is lighter and doesn't require a vehicle spring upgrade or the sacrifice of the spare tire. I think we would be in the 20 mile EV range for 80% of our driving (almost all under 40mph.) The 4KW system is $7000 and the 10Kw system is 12,000, not including installation. I'm guessing installation cost will be $2000.

If we went with the Leaf, given that a battery swapping system has yet to be put in place, it seems to me there is no way we could do our annual road trip. So a plug-in conversion has more utility short and medium term. Of course with a gas shortage scenario, long car trips may be a luxury all of us have to drop. Still, there are many things I'll sacrifice before the trip to see family.

My husband argues that since we only spend $1000 a year right now on gasoline, we won't get a return on what we put in. (He also dislikes the idea of losing the spare tire and somewhat putting the warranty at risk.) I put a higher intrinsic value on being oil-free and place a higher probability on the likelihood of oil shortages/ increased oil prices. It would certainly make our decision easier if the price of gas were to double, but I worry if we wait until this happens, we will have difficulty obtaining a plug-in conversion because then everyone will want one.

I suspect I will continue to ponder this, watch gas prices, and work on convincing my husband . . .

You may still be able to take those long trips if you own a leaf.

Many EV owners have taken a "leaf" from Chevys book (like what I did there?!)

Instead of owning a plug in hybrid like the volt where the battery has a permanent on board generator, for long trips they buy a trailer/generator. Usually when you want to take a long trip you know about it in advance - affording you the opportunity to hook up the little genny trailer behind the car. You drive down the road and its as if you are hooked up to your power outlet at home (only its a little 25hp honda genny or similar)

The advantage is that on the typical short trips the car isnt hauling around that engine along for the ride - more room for batteries - thats probably one reason why the leaf has a longer battery range than the volt.

Here are couple of things to consider
- Check Priuschat.com - the most exhaustive info on anything Prius you can get.
- You can think of getting a Chevy Volt. This way most of your commute will be free of gas.
- You can get a Leaf, but use a rental car for your longer trips, which you probably make a handful of times a year

I didn't mean to imply that the economics don't matter, but if economics were the ONLY factor, we would all be driving a Nissan Versa with crank windows and a manual transmission, wouldn't we? These are available at any Nissan dealer, but have you ever seen one, let alone owned one?

Transportation choices are complex psychologically, socially, and economically. I believe once EVs are readily available, people will gradually come to the conclusion that they are a better option. However, some infrastructure in the form of charging stations and rapid battery swap out are necessary. Reality will eventually intrude on the ICE paradigm.

Ford and Edison had this all lined up a century ago. Then, Edison's lab burned mysteriously, and the oil/ICE consortium agreed to allow Ford to produce his Model T. That was the end of the electric car for awhile. Read Edwin Black's excellent book "Internal Combustion" for this story.

In addition to electric autos, electric motorcycles are beginning to appear. Take a look at zeromotorcycles.com for an example of a fully engineered, well thought out electric vehicle.

It seems like the prevailing paradigm is that we simply drop EVs into the existing transportation system and make no other choices. We will simply continue on as usual with all that implies in terms of sprawl and the overwhelming care and feeding of the auto within our cities.

EVs should have a limited role but should be implemented in the context that personal transportation requiring a great deal of energy is a supplement to a system that emphasises compactness and close in availability of goods and services. Serious downsizing of roads so that they take up much less of the urban space will permit a more energetically efficient overall system of mobility.

We should start by reducing the amount of required mobility. Radically lower the distances required and make it more viable to use such modes as walking and bicycling.

Renewable electricity can run EVs. However, the bulk of new renewable energy should be spent reducing the amount of fossil fuels required for other existing uses.

E.F. Schumacher wrote about the idea of appropriate technology. EVs could be a form of appropriate technology but should not simply be a plug in for an auto centric system. There is an obsession with range because it is thought of as a replacement for the ICE under the paradigm of the current system of urban structure.

But then, our is a society that succumbed to madness decades ago. Oh, and isn't there a new Cadillac that goes from zero to 60 in something like 3.8 seconds and has over 500 hp? Now that really makes sense and I am sure is quite economical.

The most economical (in the sense of CO2 emissions) is apparently "green" electricity fed electric bike with a pillion rider. That is even more economical than a local organic food fed walker (for a given distance).

Electrci cars are not neccessarily less economical than mass transit - esp when used with much less than 100% occupancy.

I was actually fairly seriously considering buying a Hyundai Accent 5-spd, manual everything, not even an AM/FM radio - still weighing my options but it's on my short list...

If economics mattered a bit more to the vast majority of people then we probably wouldn't be in nearly as serious a mess as we are now - oil-wise, debt, housing etc.

The trouble is we have been swung so far toward this idea of "unlimited choice" with no consequences that we totally replaced what we "need" with what the auto corporations convinced us we "really need". The argument typically goes that Detroit (et al) made almost exclusively big cars, SUVs, pick-ups because that's what the people "wanted" - never mind that that "want" was totally artificially induced - people were brainwashed into thinking they just couldn't possibly run their errands without an Excursion 4WD that could seat 16 and had a V8 6.9L engine but could still manage to do 0-60 in 5 seconds (fictional, exagerrated specs. of course - but we all know how those ads went) and we had cheap oil as the primary enabler of this idiocy - despite the fact that an extreme minority had a "need" for anything much more than your Versa or my Hyundai.

Bernays et al. swapped out wants and needs decades ago and it was off to the races - figuratively and literally... unfortunately I don't think we get the genie back into the bottle without everybody that "needs" to be driving a gigantic vehicle either going thru a lot of economic pain (due to high gas prices) or inflicting a lot of pain (on those they think are causing the high gas prices).

"Idealism won't win out--what will win out is the practicality of people's pocketbooks."

Gail, are you a descendant of Ben Franklin?

Cars win out over walking and other modes because we have built our cities on purpose and built an interstate highway system that ensures that they will be more convenient than walking and other modes.

The fact that cars have won out is not simply a function of technological improvements but of political decisions to make sure that cars win and that other transportation approaches are inconvenient and more expensive.

The fact is that there are many cities in Europe where cars only win out for some people and not most people in terms of basic day to day mobility. In those cities, it simply does not make sense to drive the car given all the other faster, more convenient, and less expensive alternatives.

Regardless,however, on the other side of the oil production curve, the ICE solution to our transportation needs will become increasingly expensive and finally nonviable as there simply won't be enough oil to power all those millions of cars.

The approach to all this in the U.S., at least is to simply wait for the deluge while we all the while continue indulging ourselves with our nonsustainable transportation system whose primary feature is the ICE.

If in fact we end up with lower prices for oil because of recession/depression, this will just decrease the availability even more.

Apparently, young people of today are less likely to feel they just must have/drive a car like we did in our day. It is no longer the rite of passage that it used to be. Maybe they know something either on a conscious or intuitive level about their future.

There are others, of course, like many people here, who have long questioned the paradigm that the car is or should be the dominant transporation mode. Many of us decided years ago to minimize or eliminate our use of the auto for environmental and other reasons. That is what interests me. What makes people tick who don't see the private auto as the end all and be all of transportation? Was there something different in their water at birth?

One reason I don`t like the automobile is that I was in a serious accident on a US Highway when I was 20. The car was totalled but I walked away. I was not driving. The whole thing made me wonder why people like cars so much when they are so dangerous. So when I could move to a country where a car isn`t a necessity I was relieved. And when I found out about peak oil 5 years ago I was happy. For too long the world has been ruled and dominated by cars and now they are going to be a losing proposition. I am happy about that!

So when I could move to a country where a car isn`t a necessity I was relieved.

There aren't many countries where a car is really needed.

Thought experiment:

If Peak Oil creates gas that costs $10 per gallon (or more), how economical is that Prius versus an EV? Lets say gas is $20 a gallon, how about then? Look at it this way.. assuming a Prius gets about 50 mpg, it takes about 200 gallons to go 10000 miles. At $5 per gallon, thats $1000, $10 = $2000, $15 = $3000 and $20 = $4000, per year. Double those numbers for the average 25mpg car.

I did the math for the LEAF that I've reserved. At my (green) electricity rate, it will cost me about $1.60 to go 100 miles with the LEAF ($1.30 for regular electricity/my rate is about 0.08 per kWh). That translates to about $160 for the same 10,000 miles. Double or triple the price if you want, the results still speak for themselves. So, how long does it take to make upgrading to a LEAF or other EV profitable if gas were $20 a gallon and your current ride is 25 mpg or less?

The LEAF right now costs the same(or a bit less after rebate) as the Prius does. I'm reserved one for myself, call it an insurance policy against a huge increase in the price of gas.

You need to look at total costs per mile traveled. I think that a new Civic is around 50¢ per mile, assuming about 12,000 miles per year.

If we assume about 30 mpg, the annual fuel consumption would be 400 gallons. At $3 per gallon, fuel would cost $1,200, or 10¢ per mile, leaving non-fuel costs at about 40¢ per mile.

Let's assume $18 gasoline, and assume that non-fuel costs go up by 20%, to 48¢ per mile. Total costs per mile at $18 gasoline would then be $12,960, about $1.08 per mile.

So, based on the foregoing assumptions (for a Civic), $18 gasoline would result in a little more than a doubling in total costs per mile, from 50¢ per mile to about $1.18 per mile. In dollar terms, annual costs would go from about $6,000 to about $12,960.

Not including insurance and taxes, it costs me about fifteen cents per mile to drive my old 1984 Toyota pickup with regular at 2.70 per gallon..It does have an electric starter and a heater, but none of the other convenience/luxury features nowadays considered essential. ;)

Since I don't drive it much, the fixed insurance and tax costs run my per mile total figure up considerably.

Incidentally I do believe in electric cars will become commonplace over the next decade.Electric car sales may suprise the heck out of everybody if gasoline prices get out of hand sooner than expected.Many millions of people will be able to keep thier paid for conventional car for the occasional longer trip and put very few miles on it, allowing it to last for decades, and commute and shop locally in thier electric car without being inconvenienced by the short range.

But I doubt if I will ever live long enough to buy one second or third hand.

Electric car sales may suprise the heck out of everybody if gasoline prices get out of hand sooner than expected.

Indeed. People, have short memories. I remember during the 2008 peak price, everyone wanted a small car. The used car prices of guzzlers plummeted.

BTW, you should be able to get a used Leaf in 3 years easily. A lot of us are leasing, hoping for better options in 3 years.

Good comments evnow and others,

All this discussion on electric cars raises a serious question for me:

If we can work out all the glitches and marketing questions...

Is it viable to see renewable (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geo-thermal, tidal, etc.) electrical generation as a real alternative and solution to our reliance on fossil fuels? What are the capacity limitations of using electricity to run our cars, our railways, our smelters, maybe even to heat our houses? In other words, is it possible we could see a transition occur from a petroleum age to an electrical age, similar to the transition from the bronze age to the iron age, or the age of steam (coal) to the internal combustion engine (oil)?

Curious as to what others may think.


Many alternatives are limited by various rare earth element amounts. It's not just a matter of generating the electricity, but storing it.

No rare earths in EVs I know of. Prius does use rare earth's - but that is just a technology choice ...

Conventional batteries aren't running anything more than a glorified golf cart. Rare earth elements such as lithium and lanthanum are used.

Lithium is not a "rare earth" element in the usual technical sense. In a non-technical sense, lithium and lanthanum are relatively non-rare: both are more common overall than lead, for example. Large high-quality deposits are not so common.

Lithium is an alkali metal rather than a rare earth metal. It is about the 25th most common element in the Earth's crust. The real problem is that it is highly reactive and does not accumulate in large amounts, so there are very few concentrated sources of mineable lithium.

Over the long term, I personally believe its viable to be able to switch over to renewables. Will it be quick, easy, cheap, and pain-free? No way. We can not scale up fast enough to make this easy in any way. We just don't have the luxury of that kind of time, in my view anyway.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. The state of Washington, and the NW in general, exports power to other states. Washington and Oregon each run 1 coal powered plant and there is 1 Nuke plant between the two. Almost everything else comes from Hydro. Several wind farms have popped up, and we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the potential for tidal power. If both coal plants and the nuke plant disappeared, I think as a region at least, we'd still be able to keep the juice flowing. The short story is, yes, it can work, at least in some regions...

Now, if I lived in Kentucky, or the south, I might feel a bit different. The good news (if you could call it such), is that Oil will go first, and other than Hawaii, the US really does not use oil to make electricity.

In short, it kinda comes down to the "Shawshank Redemption" theory of life... Get busy living, or get busy dying. We can moan and groan all we want about how difficult, or expensive, or impractacle alternative energy is, but fast forward past when fossil fuels as a whole run out, however long that might be in coming, and tell me what other choice we have other than to lay down and die?

The problem is that climate change is going to make some hydro gulp and die as well. So depending on it is not going to be the blessing you think it is.

What I don't see in this country is Geo-thermal, There are several areas it can be used, and if we can drill oil wells as deep as we do, we can also drill for geothermal.

Iceland still has most places trumped on that account.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

In the northwest, we need to build more dams. Otherwise we are ok with rainfall amount under various climate change scenarios. The basic problem will be not enough natural water storage on our peaks.

We would have to become energy conscious and not be pigs. But, that is in itself not a big problem.

I think in the long term the basic problem is the transition time. As Hersch report said, we need 2 decades to transition. We wasted 2000's chasing bubbles & wars. This is the case for climate change too. May be the butterfly ballot really sealed our fate, afterall.

Time after time I read articles like this where the sole factor considered in EV adoption is cost, and the only cost used for comparison is the CURRENT cost of gasoline to power a Toyota Prius.

Indeed. There are any number of reasons given for why EVs will fail in the market: too expensive, too little range, takes too long to charge, etc. OTOH, EVs succeed in the US when one assumption becomes real: the average consumer's access to gasoline is sharply limited, but not their access to electricity. It seems extremely unlikely to me that in the case of severe limits on availability that gas/diesel in the US will be rationed exclusively by price. Farmers will get fuel, as will fire departments, police, emergency vehicles, doctors, and others whose jobs are classified as critical. If the more typical driver gets a ration of, say, five gallons per month, with no sign of eventual relief, lots of adjustments will occur.

It appears that a small light EV with a 50-mile range that can be charged overnight can be built and sold at a reasonable cost. In the rationing scenario, such vehicles would be popular: it doesn't do all the things that gas-powered cars typically do today, but it does the day-to-day critical things.

"It appears that a small light EV with a 50-mile range that can be charged overnight can be built and sold at a reasonable cost. In the rationing scenario, such vehicles would be popular: it doesn't do all the things that gas-powered cars typically do today, but it does the day-to-day critical things."

You have exactly described the Myers DUO : http://www.myersmotors.com/ .

We haven't heard much from them lately. Hopefully it is because they are busy working on the DUO and not because of some other issues.

Like NEVs sold everywhere. Infact in many places seniors are buying golf carts and using them roads.

One of the best "solutions" for reducing oil usage is to
- Reduce max speeds everywhere to 40 mph
- Allow NEVs to use any road

Overnight, we would have reduced oil usage of cars and gotten cheap electric vehicles that can be driven everywhere.

The DUO is much more capable than an NEV. 75mph top speed, up to 100 mile range. If they actually hit their targets(might be a long shot, but who knows), they will be very viable everyday commuter vehicles.

At the moment EVs such as the Nissan Leaf are only going to be available to people who have a garage to park their car in over night. Most cars in Britain - and i guess in the US too - are parked on the roads at night, sometimes a fair distance from the owner's house. How are they going to plug their car in to recharge? Sure, one solution is to rip up all the pavements (sidewalks) and build a network of charging points like parking meters. But just think about the complexity of this idea! The wiring that leads from the final substation down streets and into houses is pretty loaded already so a completely new grid - and possibly substations too - will need to be built. It is not good enough to rely on people only charging their cars at night when the normal load is less. Then there is the complexity of working out how to charge (pay) for the electricity consumed. Different cars will use the same charge point. Then the actual connector has to be able to lock into the car to stop kids from unplugging them. None of these is an insurmountable problem but it won't be easy, quick or cheap. And of course the biggest problem of all is ensuring that there is enough generating capacity available, which here in Britain is far from certain.

If EVs are the future, then it will be many, many years until they have captured a meaningful slug of the car market. And before then the full ravages of peak oil will be upon us.

I just have to reply to this thread again.

How is that people are so myopic that they can only see pulling up to a plug in their garage to recharge an EV? Do you refuel your ICE car at home? Some people do. My mother-in-law lives on a farm and has a 200 gallon tank on a tall stand that is serviced by a local fuel company. When she needs gasoline, she pulls her car up and the gasoline gravity feeds into the tank. This does not prevent her from stopping at a gasoline station when necessary. For people who don't have the option of fueling at home, we have service stations. Pretty cool, huh?

The paradigm is this: You plug in at home, if possible. If not possible, or you have depleted your batteries on a trip, you pull into a service station and the batteries are lowered out of the bottom of the vehicle by hydraulically driven robotics, and a new battery is put in place of the depleted battery. This is not that tough, people.

Look at this: Better Place Tokyo Taxi Trial for an example. Watch the video. This is Version 0.5. Think of version 5.0. The logistics are way less of a problem than the power generation challenges.

moabite - with great respect, you are hovering around fantasy land.

How long will it take to swap out a battery? Most petrol stations have limited forecourt space and it takes less than 3 minutes to fill the tank and swipe your card and drive off. If it takes about 10 minutes to swap out a battery the throughput at the petrol station will grind to a halt.

Second, most cars don't need to refuel every day, but enough do and a motorway service station can easily see ten thousand cars refill each and every day. Even if half of all cars only ever recharge at home that would still mean 5,000 batteries need to be held in store each and every day and that they need to be fully charged! Give me a break! 5,000 batteries for each motorway service station! Where the heck are they going to put them all, and bare in mind that they will need to be all plugged in at once! That is a HUGE load on the local electric grid. Local gas stations which typically have very little space will still need to hold several hundred batteries. And don't forget that the average petrol car gets about 400 miles per tank of fuel. EVs had better be able to match that or my numbers above are way understated.

Then there is the logistical nightmare. What happens when all the batteries end up unevenly distributed around the country? What happens when a foreign car comes along? How many different battery types are there? At the moment there is only diesel and petrol. I imagine that the auto companies will need significantly more types of battery. Then what about large trucks? How big are their batteries?

Sorry, but to glibly suggest that filling up with petrol at a service station and swapping out a battery are similar is lunacy. It completely misses the point of why oil has been so darn successful, namely that it is a liquid fuel which can be stored in large underground tanks and works in all different engines.

HAcland - with great respect, did you even bother looking at the link to the Better Place video I provided?

Their barely-out-of-beta automatic swap takes under three minutes. Really. Take a look at it.

Having worked in large scale robotics for awhile, it is clear to me that the three minutes could easily be cut in half. And you don't even have to get out of your car. Really.

so what? It doesn't answer the questions about how many batteries will be needed. The video is for a niche market where the vehicles place and time is highly coordinated. You failed to mention the most important quote from the video: "We will be able to store up to 12 batteries here". 'Here' is a a very large garage which stores a WHOPPING, JAW-DROPPING TWELVE WHOLE BATTERIES!! Whoppee Doo!!

Do you really think that every motorway station in the country will have 5,0000+ batteries just sitting there on charge ready to be slotted in to a car by a robot? Please answer this.

Sorry buddy, but it is this sort of 'Star Trek' thinking which is dangerous as we head down the peak oil slope. When the creator of Star Trek was writing it he needed a way to get the characters down to planets and back again quickly so he 'invented' the transporter. Very neat! What you appear to be doing is just creating a 'solution' to the recharge problem with out giving it any serious thought, with the greatest respect.

Let me state it again: the current model of refueling at service stations works well because it is a liquid fuel and you can take as much or as little as you need in a timely manner. The storage tank is underground and the energy was put into the fuel many millions of years ago. Central extraction, wide dispersal. This is completely different to having 5,000+ batteries on charge at every large service station and hundreds at rural stations. All sucking on the grid.

This is a picture of a Nissan Leaf battery pack:


Pray tell me how you plan on storing 5,000+ of these? And then how you plan to redistribute them around the country when they end up unevenly distributed?

Well let's see. According to a little Googling, there are 116,000 service stations in the US and about 200 million autos. If 80% of these autos were electric, that would be 160 Million. If on any given day 3% of those needed a swap, that would be 4.8 Million. Remember a swap would only be needed on a day when you needed to drive beyond the range of the battery AND you were unable to convenience charge at a mall, or work, or school, or train station, or wherever. So, on average, if there were 116,000 service stations, they would each have to have about 41 batteries available over the course of the day. Of course, since they could be charged in under eight hours, they could conceivably be cycled out more than once, but let's ignore that. In fact, let's round it up to 50 to account for your "uneven distribution" issue. Storing fifty batteries in a robotically accessed rack system would be no problem at all on the footprint of most common service stations.

Where did you get a 5000 number? Why are you getting so spun up?

Stations near highways would need massive numbers of batteries. Nevermind the fact it's unrealistic to be swapping out batteries and pooling them again. What if someone damages the battery and a service station accepts it, and something happens to the next person who receives it? Something like this is a massive liability issue. Additionally, the batteries would have to be standardized and that seems unrealistic.

Jeee. Suuuussssss.

Look, just go to the link betterplace.com . Please.

Guess what? Gas stations near highways need MULTIPLE, MASSIVE fuel tanks. Holy crap are they big. I've seen truck stops that have so many big tanks that they take ACRES of land. Impossible!!!!!! And every one of them is BURIED. And they can't be stacked. IMPOSSIBLE! We could never build such an infrastructure!

You will buy a subscription from BP, Shell, Microsoft, who in hell knows. The subscription will cover batteries for your vehicle. The battery configurations will be standardized - THIS IS WHAT BETTER PLACE IS DOING, PUSHING STANDARDS. There may need to be meetings, lawyers, teeth gnashing, and GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION to get ALL automakers to agree on a standard. Guess what? Your internet connection runs on a totally improbable stack of standards that are negotiated, jiggered, bent and backstabbed into existence. Eventually, there are winners, and there are losers. But it all works. A MIRACLE.

What if someone damages a battery? I guess they pay for it. Wow. The batteries can have actual serial numbers, and your subscription will have a number, and they will use real computers to track who last used a battery. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY!

Stop trying to talk sense into these people, they've made up their minds.

Better Place is one model for battery swapping, but is not the only option (in fact, Nissan is not participating in Better Place). The much more realistic option is public charging stations, for those (few) times when you need to exceed the normal range of the car before you have a chance to recharge at home. Per the Nissan LEAF website "It takes about ~30 minutes to 80% at a 480(volt) quick-charge station. Starting from a depleted battery" You don't need thousands of batteries sitting around, you just need some quick charge stations at the rest stops, most of which already have the electricity (they tend to have lights).

I'm an EV enthusiast... I've reserved one and am fortunate enough to be able to pay for one. I think project Better Place is, at best, a distraction. The battery swap idea is better suited to a fleet of vehciles at a home base... say a postal or delivery fleet, or a car swap group, etc. For those who own their own vehicles, most would be unwilling to trade their known condition battery for an unknown one, myself included. The quick charge idea is much more appealling to the consumer, and economical as well. Some chargers are already available, more are being currently being installed.

Personally, however, I plan on charging at home. I don't really care if a quick charge station comes to my area or not, as I don't plan on using it. If I am going to exceed the 100 mile range of my EV, I will probably just take our other car. Maybe I'll visit one someday as a novelty, just to check it out. Go grab some food and come back to a charged car.

If you want to check current quick charge availabilty in your area, you can do it at:


You can also compare quick-charge availability to natural gas or hydrogen if you are interested in alternative fuels. Biodiesel and E85 stations can also be flagged if that floats your boat.

HAcland, +++ !!
I find your arguments very convincing. I believe you hit on a very great difficulty in these schemes. Factory I used to work, they had Fenwick fork-lifts and other kinds, battery driven. Recharging them wasn't a simple thing in spite that everything needed was there, and technical people to handle problems -real engineers with long experience. Sometimes, after a heavy work load sometimes it was necessary to wait hours until the batteries got charged again.
HAcland writes from the perspective of England, a very small, very densely populated country, technically very advanced, well qualified people.

I read that in Israel (a still smaller country, technical peoplet, etc) they were studying this kind of thing, and so far nothing has really been done, nothing with a big impact. Sure, a lot of loudmouth businessmen pushing their thing, but it is not happening.

I think that EVs will be a reality but HAcland points show that it will be not as simple as people believe.

There is no way in hxlx I would swap a five to ten thousand dollar battery that belongs to ME that I know is in good condition for one out of a service station on the road someplace which may be on its last legs.

If batteries are to be swapped vthey will have to be totally standardized and rented, not owned.

Hacland is mainly in the ten ring today, although I think the home charging problem is manageable-not for everybody everywhere , but for enough people in enough places for the electric car to achieve critical mass.

There is no way in hxlx I would swap a five to ten thousand dollar battery that belongs to ME that I know is in good condition for one out of a service station on the road someplace which may be on its last legs.

If batteries are to be swapped they will have to be totally standardized and rented, not owned.

Yup, I don't for the life of me understand why this point is so hard to grasp. It has seemed blindingly obvious to me all along. It also seems blindingly obvious that a business model one might swallow with respect to an RV propane tank would be unacceptable for a $10k+ battery. Maybe tub-thumping idealism can cloud a person's thinking sometimes...

Again, idle dreaming on the current sales and business models. No sensible person who has bought an EV battery will ever take it to some service station or other to get it swapped. The risk of swapping a good battery for a piece of garbage would be just too great. In a real pinch, one might chance it with a $15 cell phone battery, but not with a major investment.

Swapping works for that taxi company because they own and control all those batteries. It's as if you owned an extra battery or two, kept it under your own care and control in your own garage, and swapped it when needed. That's not the same as taking your fantastically expensive battery to a garage that's not under your control, and swapping it for God knows what.

There's a lot of work to be done before any such scheme can become viable. Very little of it is technical work. It's legal and financial work in some combination that depends on the business model ultimately chosen (I argued before that only renting such batteries would make sense, in order to finesse the perverse incentives inevitably arising from the swap of purchased batteries.) Making fantastic "well duh" assertions based on irrelevant promotional videos will not get one jot of it done.

That is why you won't BUY a battery. You will LEASE the battery from a battery subscription service. You will still be able to charge it on your own, but you will also be able to swap it out when it is depleted. If the one they give you is substandard, stop in at the BP Battery Station and get another.

To what "well duh" assertion are you referring?

Of course there is legal and financial work to be done. Does this not happen every day? How in the name of &diety did a cellphone network ever get built that covers 80% of the world's population 24x7? Holy crap, it can't be done! Think of the effort!

Blue Rhino, and other firms push using swapable tanks for your gas grill. There are several things that can be swapped in for a new or used one, in use today.

The system is not here now, just means that the system can be brought up to standard.

How many people here have had to go through ISO certification? It is mind numbing for the general flunkie, but given what it does do, there is a method to the madness.

Hang in there Moabite, somethings take time. If we have any time left to debate things, we should try any solution that will solve the problems we have as long as they don't make them worse.

Fits and starts for some things are just part of the process.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Swappable propane tanks have existed for decades, used on RVs and the like. You wound up buying the first set, then swapping them for rusty old hulks; they weren't truly rented. Semi-acceptable for RV tanks. Wholly unacceptable OK for a $10k+ battery. So like I said, swapped batteries will have to be rented. Which means you'll be wanting some assurance that compatible batteries will still be rentable 10 years or more from now.

That doesn't sit well at all with the rapid obsolescence of electronic articles, including batteries. It sits even less well with the instant obsolescence of the internal microchips and software protocols (in the battery pack) that will monitor the charging. (The extreme case is that a chip is announced, then obsoleted by the manufacturer before stock ever makes it to the distributors. Happens about every week.)

Maybe the car companies will have to be forced by regulation to standardize the physical "form factor" and charging protocol. However, bureaucratic processes like that tend to take many years from time of conception, so you and Moabite may need to "hang in there" for quite a while. It may well come to pass since it's not technically infeasible in the least - but something often forgotten by idealists is that social, economic, and legal factors often count for more than technical ones, and often take absurd amounts of time to work out.

I did say it would take time, and I hope I also mentioned, that we might not have the luxery of time. But I might not have said that.

I don't own a car. I have in the past owned cars. I can't afford a car now, no matter if gas was free. I won't be buying even an EV car in the future. At some point in time I expect I'd be without the use of vehicles I now have use of( My Dad and Mom have 2 vans, one is his work van, only used as a second vehicle and rarely gets over 50 miles a month, unless he is doing work that month).

I'd love to be able to kick the standards into gear and make a lot of things the same. Imagine, every cell phone has the same battery(or a big one for the newer high end phones, but ), the same plug in rechanger. We have loads of areas where we have 10 different produces that do the same function, we call it the way of doing business.

The business model in this case is not a standardized way of life, lots of room to improve and get out of the ruts we are living in. In some ways Jacque Fresco is right, the world is screwed up. I don't agree with everything he talks about, but standardization of some things would fix a lot of our waste.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Why not lease the whole damn car. Jump out of one into another and f off. In a BAU world some genius will make a fortune.

moabite is to EV's as x is to ethanol.

("x" is not a variable. "x" is a well-known constant :-)

ROFLMAO, that summarizes it. Nitey-nite.

More efficient appliances and lighting (and better insulation/weatherstripping/windows for a/c and electrical heat) will reduce the competing electrical load on the local pole mounted transformer.

There is equipment to tunnel underneath sidewalks and insert a conduit and UF rated (USA) wire for a curb side charger. I suspect that in volume, a curb side charger could be added for less than $1,000 each.


if neccessery it will be done. If they can get a cable - which is not a neccessity - everywhere, this is no big deal. You have heard of G-Wiz, right ?

BTW, thats not the only option. One could always organize around charging at work.


WTF? What would be the half-life of an arrangement like that in a vandal-ridden part of almost any large US city, especially after dark as in that snap? Surely the neighborhood teenagers would quickly invent more than one highly entertaining way to draw sparks and melt things, ROFLMAO...

Charging point for an EV and vandal electricution device. I'd call that a two for one!

These already exist in the US however, and more are currently being built. Check this site to see if there is one near you.


Yes, the can't do generation ;-)

ps : How will that PV ever work - won't they keep throwing stones ? BTW, ever read about J-1772 standards and its safety features ...

Gasoline cars will never work. Kids will just come by and siphon all the gasoline out of the tanks...if they don't pour it all over the cars and set them on fire.

You just described le banlieu de Paris !

"EVs Will Fail in the Marketplace, Says a Battery Insider"

That is stupid.

He’s particularly negative about the viability of EV batteries, expressing doubt that costs will come down below $400 a kilowatt hour anytime soon. ...
The Leaf’s battery, he said, will cost $16,000 to $20,000. Even if the Leaf is produced in volumes of 200,000 or more, Anderman concludes, the battery will still cost $9,000.

So, what is it really ? $16K implies $666/kwh. $9K implies $375. Then he says battery won't go below $400/kwh.

Do these experts even read major stories on the web about batteries ? In the last few days every auto blog has suddenly woken up to a interview done a month back by Times of London. It quotes the battery cost of Nissan at Pounds 6K ($9.1K).


On the banking system............


Another day of triple digit losses on Wall St. today. Oil down $2. Even CNBC is sounding kinda panicky lately.

I wonder who is trading in this market, so much of the volume is nothing more than trades meant to skim profits - mostly machines trading with machines between "real" trades.

Imagine the public mood if the market drops back to the March '09 Lows. That "bottom" was false because it was due to legalization of fraud (FASB 157 - end of mark-to-market).

I wonder what the next market "bottom" will look like and what gimmick they will try next to stop the bleeding.

Imagine the public mood if the market drops back to the March '09 Lows.

I keep wondering who is investing with all these triple digit fluctuations of the market. It's too heart pounding for my taste. I think your question above is a good one. If the market plunges all the way back down, one has to wonder where money could then be invested? Real estate is still hovering at its lows - bank book pays zip - bonds are a long wait and pay little - and the stock market will then look like a crap shoot.

I wonder what the next market "bottom" will look like and what gimmick they will try next to stop the bleeding.

By gimmick, you mean the trillions borrowed or was it printed to stimulate the economy? Seems like the trillions to do that again will not be available. I can't see Congress going for that solution again. It's going to be rough.

Essentially I see the situation as one where those that are above the fray financially will do fine, with those below getting disenfranchised. The best survival tactic is to find ways to stay above the fray. But as time moves forward, it will get increasingly harder to do that. At some juncture the majority of people will have become disenfranchised and form an angry mob. How will they be appeased?

"one has to wonder where money could then be invested?"

I think there will be a rush to cash - dollars. Even gold will fall (enter a cyclical bear market).

There has to be a decline in the gap between "credit" dollars in circulation(borrowed and spent = shorted) and actual printed dollars in cirulation.

Look for a dramatic increase in yard sales with huge bargins on unusual inventory (unusual for yard sales).

(imagine a country where government statistics include "same-store sales" for rummage sales ;)

I think there will be a rush to cash - dollars.

An individual can sell off other investments and collect dollars. But the market as a whole cannot do that, because somebody has to put dollars in so you can get some out (the same minus the cut to the leeches).

There has to be a decline in the gap between "credit" dollars in circulation(borrowed and spent = shorted) and actual printed dollars in cirulation.

The Bank of Serta? And that's better than being in the bank and earning meager interest?

"An individual can sell off other investments and collect dollars. But the market as a whole cannot do that,...

I don't know JB, I think "the market" can try to do that in many ways - much depends on what kinds of stunts and gimmicks the governments pull to prevent it.

...because somebody has to put dollars in so you can get some out

That's the "short squeeze" part. With a credit collapse loans act like short positions. If loans can't be serviced, or can't be rolled over and/or are called, then demand for cash increases. And cash-on-hand becomes more important to everyone at all levels (banks included = less lending).

And yes, I think many people will lose confidence in the FDIC and lose trust in our goverment in general, and as a result want cash-in-hand.

I think many people will choose a fire-proof "Serta" lock box in-hand over a bank-n-the-bush account full of electronic digits and that earns virtually no interest.

Precious metals are not liquid enough or plentiful enough to act as an everyday currency for "the masses" so it's gotta be the cash dollar as default. At least for a while.

Our city has a limit of yard sales to one a month, or is it less than that. It is hard to make a lot of money on selling things at a yard sale. First there is work setting it up, then there is work manning it, and haggling with people that really want to get your things free if they can, then dragging it all in again.

My church has an indoor yard sale every 3 months. The building is big, At one time there was a basketball court set up inside, with class rooms along the edges and a full kitchen with steam table and built in dishwasher and gas stove. Nice place really. But the rooms are now used as storage rooms rented out each month to anyone willing to pay for the service. I have some of my larger items and other stuff stored there. So getting a table for the yard sale is not really that hard.

But in general I can't make more than 50 bucks at a time selling things, mainly because I have little left that I want to get rid of, or that anyone would want to buy.

If everyone is forced to sell things, it might be better to just get into trading item for item, going into a cashless kind of living arrangement.

What would you consider unusual for a yard sale? I have seen almost everything you can find in a house or business in yard sales.

One thing is that yard sales seem to be an american hobby. If I offer things for sale and they don't sell I give them away, or try to anyway. Lots of things are ending up in the charity bins that no one will ever buy again. Casette tapes have almost all disappeared, but I have them still, and can still play them.

Then again I have some old encyclopedias, printed in the 1920's, I find them helpful when looking back at yesteryear. I even have some old math books and Chemistry books from the 1890's, they might come in handy in the years ahead.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I agree with you, yard sales are too much work for so little gain. But some people love it - people with lots of time on their hands (retired elderly, young mothers with too many outgrown baby clothes every season).

And if unemployment continues to climb, there will be many poor people with lots of time on their hands and bills to pay on their hands. That started happening here two years ago.

Now like you, we have new laws to limit the number of garage/yard sales you can have per year - for individuals and churches (they won't be considered non-profit if they sponsor more than 2 or 3 sales a year, or something close to that).

My uncle is a yard sale treasure hunter, sells stuff on E-bay and makes a decent amount of money on this hobby (obsessive hobby ;). I bet he would LOVE those old text books... My retired father-in-law makes crafty lawn and garden signs and benches, stuff like that sells well at his daughter's "rummage" sales.

The math and chem books were a gift from an uncle, and were his own aunt's college text books, they still have her notes them. They look like old leather bound books, until you read the labels you'd just pass them off as fiction. And they aren't for sale.

The craft items are always the things that sell, at least when people have money to buy them. Useful hand made things are what you can do to make a living, but supplies need to be cheap.

There will come a point though that we will have a lot of useless junk that no one wants, even if it is free.

I see it all the time all the things we have built that seem like a waste of time and energy. Where did we start going wrong in that manner? Build a house, stock it with junk, because you are no longer nomadic, and have energy to spare.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

... one has to wonder where money could then be invested?

This is the great conundrum of our time - governments would like to increase the savings of the populace, and increase the capacity of those people to fund their own retirement by being prudent during their working lives.

But where do you put these savings for the long haul? The Australian Government has just announced that they are increasing the compulsory superannuation contribution from 9% to 12% annually - because everyone knows that 9% is too little to fund a reasonable retirement.

But what is the point of increasing the input, if the share market tanks regularly (wiping out a high percentage of super savings), and most other forms of investment are either too risky, or if safe, not even able to maintain real wealth (let alone actual growth) relative to inflation?

Life's a bugger, eh.

There is an obvious and underutilized way to save: Buy stuff that reduces future expenses (especially future energy expenses) by more than the initial expenditure. For example, insulate your house. Or install a heat pump.

I wonder who is trading in this market, so much of the volume is nothing more than trades meant to skim profits - mostly machines trading with machines between "real" trades.

One of the wire-service stories about last week's trading debacle said that about 60% of all equity trades in the US are computers trading according to one algorithm or another. At one point in the last few years, as high as 50% of all equity trades were so-called program trades, buying and selling "baskets" of stocks together, usually based on one or more of the common indices. As an individual investor, equities make me feel more and more like an ant on the floor with the dancing elephants.

Even CNBC is sounding kinda panicky lately.

I've noticed that too. All their commentators seem to be asking their guests the same question about whether what is happening in Europe should be impacting the US stock market so much. Most answer no, but that ignores the evidence of dropping stock values here and abroad. The Euro is dropping like a stone.

11 of the last 14 trading days have had triple digit moves. That's an astounding degree of volatility. The problem seems to be that there is little information on how the near trillion dollar EU bailout will work. Investors do not like uncertainty.

There is also talk of Europe's economy slowing. Oh my, if that carries over to the U.S. - all the momentum of recovery will be lost! My thought is all the borrowed money to save the economy is finally starting to make investors nervous. They just don't see how it will get paid back, and are worried about the impacts if the debt is monetized. Either way the rising debt is starting to become a brake on expansion, which reduces corp. profits and that reduces equity valuations.

It seems like the next time the economy starts to drop down along with the stock market and oil prices, it will be very difficult to get things moving again. Borrowing trillions will no longer be an option.

Panic is the correct description of many so called 'investors' this week. It seems like the meme of a collpasing Euro has such wide panic appeal that most can not see anything except a lower value for the euro taking european business with it.

While I am not saying that is impossible, some parts of this panic don't make sense. If the euro has no value, doesn't the dollar also have no value? Does anyone really know what a dollar is? A dollar is mostly backed by home mortgages and assets previously owned by failed financial firms. If the US dollar could trade like a stock against some other imaginary constant value/real dollar, it's value would have fell sharply since 2008 as its assets became less valuable and many more were printed up.

Please note the Fed/ECB swap arrangement has barely gotten off the ground and it is still premature to say last weekend's plan won't work when it has harfly been fully implemented yet.

Anyway I am not backing off my prediction of possible $100 oil this summer. Almost unoticed, OPEC has now started cutting back exports these last two weeks, even as the financial news is filled with stories about how OPEC is cheating more on itself.

Seaborne oil exports by OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to May 29. Exports from the group will fall to 23.29 million bpd on average from 23.40 million bpd in the four weeks to May 1, UK consultancy Oil Movements said.


Hmmm ...

Oil prices are down, watch out for that HARD DOLLAR coming like a mafia hit man to the town where YOU live!

Remember 'Oil Price Spike 2.0'? Well, we had it. Brent is below $80 and NyMex @ near $70. $87 is the new $147.

This wasn't supposed to happen, was it? I see Jeff "$3000 Oil' Rubin got religion along with Colin Campbell. Better late than never.



The scary- hard dollar is coming out of the closet like a monster with a bad atitude. Even Bernanke's dollar swap machine can't control it. Check that Brent/Cushing spread! The Euros are at the edge of a full- blown energy crisis, complete with gas lines. This is on top of all their other problems! Watch the euro/GBP disintegrate as Eurocitizens scramble for bucks to buy oil. Look for the China property bubble to start flaying itself. The Canadian and Aussie property bubbles can't be far behind. As usual, when the rest of the world wakes up to the nightmare of the hard dollar it will be far too late for anyone to do anything about it.

Guess what? It's too late now!



Europe is flirting with a Lehman- style liquidity freeze. Dollars will flow 'home' to the US (and out again to Saudi Arabia to offset any losses from that pesky oil leak under the Gulf of Mexico).

In the meantime the US government is supporting 'Made In USA' energy oonservation, Ronald Reagan style:

Are we self- destructive or what? Unless you stand next to one you can't imagine how gargantuan this bulbous automotive bolus really is. Ford, Toyota, Honda and GM/GMC all have similarly- sized models along with large(r) SUV's. This Dodge model and the equivalent GM product are what is putting US motor vehicle manufactuing back into profitability, not tiny battery cars.

But it's sooooo pretty.... [** slaps face **]

Sexy, even.
When they start showing ads of electric trucks running through water/mud, then maybe they'll sell some to truck guys. But any car with a squeaky clean image is anathema to macho truck guys, and, as stated, simply not as profitable for the mfrs.

They are in business to (try) to make money. Saving the planet/country/economy is the government's problem.

Hey Paul,

If Ford didn't offer paper bags as standard equipment on all their models, thing of how many trees could be saved....



I just wanted to make an observation.

Why bother arguing about what estimates for reserves from OPEC we should use?

Just do two cases. One case with unverifiable reserve jumps in the 80s and 90s (don't remember when). And one without.

At this point... the only difference I see it making is "bad" or "worse"... let others decide which to believe. I think I know what the majority of people will pick, and in the end, its that buy in that matters, not the number itself.

That is what I was trying to say upthread: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6466#comment-623359

From the POV of the pessimist, the conservative outlook would include questionable data points. The other end would give the "worse" outcome.

Why bother arguing about what estimates for reserves from OPEC we should use?...

let others decide which to believe.

Chrisale, I think you, as well as WHT, completely miss the boat on this one. Does it matter that the EIA, IEA, World Oil, Oil and Gas Journal, as well as the BP Statistical Review are telling the world that we have absolutely nothing to worry about as far as peak oil is concerned? (These agencies parrot the OPEC produced numbers almost to the barrel.)
Does it matter that they are saying "Don't worry, be happy, we have enough oil to last for decades before we need to make preperations for peakoil?


Does it matter that the sooner we start to prepare the fewer people will suffer and die in the transition?

Why bother? Words fail me.

Ron P.

You know thinking about the big Oil spill in the Gulf, it has done one thing that is good. It is making the general public more aware of the dangers of using oil in the first place.

Most people might not change their habits, but there is froth being added to the discussions you can have with people because of the news like it is. Telling people that the need of oil and other fossil fuels has gotten us into this mess. That we as a global human race need to start thinking about our future in a different way than just motoring along with the wind in our hair without a care in the world.

This oil spill is a blessing in disguise, it gets the national discussion going, it gets the Gov't on the hot seat, it gets oil companies thinking about how they have to increase saftey, and it helps people release they are part of the problem with their energy usage.

Here is hoping it will make a difference.

BioWebScape design for a better fed and housed future,

Interesting debate regarding EV’s. My two cents:

Captain Obvious: “In a world where access to petroleum is increasingly difficult, transitioning from transportation which uses petroleum to transportation that uses an alternative such as electricity is a logical progression that will obviously be supported by market pressures.”

The Complexity Kid: “But captain, I think you may be failing to consider some variables. First of all, aren’t the global supply chains that would allow the manufacture and distribution of electric vehicles themselves highly dependant on petroleum? If access to petroleum is difficult, then mining, refining, and shipping raw materials becomes much more costly. This relationship may mean that since access to petroleum is difficult, then access to anything that relies on petroleum dependent global supply chains also becomes difficult.”

Oblivious Boy: “If access to petroleum is increasingly difficult, then these supply chains that rely on petroleum will find ways to operate using alternatives as well, because in free market economics, there is always a viable substitute.”

The Complexity Kid: “Hmm. Let me remind you guys that there is a lot of good analysis out there that would seem to indicate that over the next decade or two we’re going to see not only petroleum, but coal, natural gas, and uranium production peak and go into decline as well. So, what you guys are saying is that while fossil energy begins declining probably within the next years and decades, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that alternative energy will replace this energy at an even faster rate that it is declining, so that we can continue the BAU paradigm of economic growth? Not only that, but at the same time, we are going to remodel our entire infrastructure to support these new energy sources?

Captain Obvious: “It’s probably a good idea to start learning how to use our own brains and muscles to make use of the gifts of nature and as sustainably as possible provide what our families and local communities need, instead of relying on an increasingly vulnerable industrial global economy”.

The Complexity Kid: “Thank you, Captain!”

Oblivious Boy: “Well, Rush said environmental terrorists probably blew up the Deepwater Horizon Rig!!”

Captain Obvious and The Complexity Kid: …..?

The Complexity Kid: “But captain, I think you may be failing to consider some variables. First of all, aren’t the global supply chains that would allow the manufacture and distribution of electric vehicles themselves highly dependant on petroleum? If access to petroleum is difficult, then mining, refining, and shipping raw materials becomes much more costly.

Captain Obvious: Thats why it makes sense to purchase an EV in the short term, while petroleum is still readily available and relatively cheap and before the demand for such vehicles completely overwhelms the potential supply.

If EV ownership confers a large advantage, it will become very popular among car thieves.

I've actually mulled over the stealing of EVs in a post-peak world situation. The LEAF, at least, has the whole "intelligent key" thing, a vehicle immobilizer, and the whole "Carwings" thing, which is apparently an Onstar type deal. The security seems pretty decent to me as a layman, but I don't have a lot of personal knowledge as to how hard it is to overcome the systems and how difficult newer cars are to steal in general... Assuming that a car thief is able to obtain your key fob from you directly, however, creates a whole different story. If things go Mad Max on us, keeping the car from being stolen will be small potatoes anyway compared to the challenge staying alive/healthy in general.

Way to stop Gulf oil spill? University of Alabama professor says method 'will absolutely work'

After reviewing video footage released Wednesday by BP PLC, a University of Alabama professor says a common industry technique known as "gas-lift" could be used to collect oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill before it is released into the Gulf of Mexico.

"Having reviewed the video of the oil spill, I now know of a way to collect that oil that will absolutely work, is not hard to rig up, and that is very familiar to BP," Philip Johnson, wrote in an email to the Press-Register. "Basically it involves additional gas injection into a deep point on a pipe."

The gas lightens the fluid in the pipe and carries it upward, he said.

Another day for The FDIC, 4 more banks so far. Assuming west coast isn't on the list yet.

Midwest Bank and Trust Company; Elmwood Park IL
Southwest Community Bank; Springfield MO
New Liberty Bank; Plymouth MI
Satilla Community Bank; Saint Marys GA

U.S. Clears a Test of Bioengineered Trees

I'd take care with growing genetically modified eucalyptus trees. In Tasmania it is thought that the foam from the leaves after heavy rain is toxic. It may (or may not) be responsible for the deaths of oysters in river estuaries

On the positive side the trees must be one of the fastest growing hardwoods at say 4 metres a year. They produce good timber and slow burning firewood. Just avoid the mutant strains.

Boof, they only really produce good lumber when they are slow growing. California had a huge eucalyptus boom in 1900-1920, mostly blue gums. Going on the Australian experience they used them for railroad ties, piers etc. But the durability was not great, and it was traced to the fact that the california trees had grown very fast, whereas most Aust trees had grown slowly.

You see the same with Douglas Fir, Cedar and probably most other trees. Slow growth means tightly spaced growth rings and denser, stronger wood, and usually more rot resistant too.

My neighbiour across the road here in British Columbia has two blue gums that are growing at about 6' per year. Another neighbour had to cut his blue gum down as it was growing into the power lines - growth rings were 1/2" apart!

These trees that Arborgen are looking to grow are mainly for biofuel, where it is just tons/ha/yr that matters.
For good lumber you want tighter spacing to slow the growth and you get thin tall trees. Leave them for a hundred years and you will have superb straight grained trees - but who can wait that long?