Drumbeat: July 25, 2010

Worsening electricity shortages fuel growing crisis

Global electricity demand is growing again after a lull last year related to the economic slowdown.

The result is more countries face electricity shortages.

This is not just a matter of insufficient fuel or high energy prices as the world has a glut of natural gas, the fuel of choice for thermal power generation.

Instead, it mainly reflects poor government planning and neglect of essential infrastructure. It also reflects the accelerated urbanisation of the developing world, which has become a hallmark of the 21st century.

Recovery strains electricity grid

Electricity demand is rising once again as the world recovers from the worst economic slowdown in decades.

A return to levels of demand unseen since early 2008 spells problems for many countries that failed to make adequate preparations for the predictable follow-up to the sharpest decline in energy consumption on record.

See also: Round-up of global electricity developments

UAE firms adopt energy-saving solutions

With utility bills in UAE for commercial buildings rising by over 50 per cent in the last two years, more and more companies are adopting energy-saving solutions to cut down their costs and carbon emissions, said an expert.

It is the financial as well as environmental issues that are driving energy-efficient lighting solutions, observed Anita Mathews, exhibition director of Middle East Electricity, which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre on 8 to 10 February 2011.

Iraq’s volatile north still a powder keg

WASHINGTON — As US troops withdraw from Iraq, a large swath of the oil-rich north coveted by the Kurdish regional government remains a powder keg that threatens to explode in violence, experts here say.

EU to hammer Iran with oil sanctions

BRUSSELS — The European Union will hit Iran with tough sanctions against its vital oil and gas industry on Monday in a bid to lure Tehran back to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear programme.

EU foreign ministers will formally approve the sanctions following Iran’s repeated refusals to halt sensitive nuclear activities, which the West fears are aimed at building a bomb.

Iran launches nuclear fusion program, says atomic energy chief

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The head of Iran's nuclear energy agency announced Saturday that the country had launched a "serious" nuclear fusion research program, according to state-run Press TV.

Ali-Akbar Salehi, the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said as many as 50 scientists were participating in the research to break into alternative energy, Press TV said.

BP set to being drilling off Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya (UPI) -- British oil company BP confirmed Saturday it would begin a deepwater drilling program off the coast of Libya in a matter of weeks.

Israel's gas take even lower than thought, Knesset study finds

The Israeli government takes one of the smallest percentages of revenues from natural resources in the world - only 32%, compared with the average 53% among other Western countries with similar fiscal regimes, the Knesset Research and Information Center said in a report published over the weekend.

Relief well vessel returns to oil spill site

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- The vessel that engineers are using to drill a relief well was back on site near BP's ruptured deepwater well on Sunday. However, officials said storms could continue to thwart containment and cleanup efforts.

"We're going to be playing a cat-and-mouse game for the remainder of the hurricane season," retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters Saturday.

Hayward departure from BP called imminent

LONDON — Chief executive Tony Hayward's departure from spill-plagued BP appears imminent, British media reported.

While a company spokesman told Reuters Saturday that Hayward still has the full backing of BP's board, industry insiders said Hayward may announce his departure by Tuesday, when the oil giant releases its six-months earnings report.

How crisis PR hasn't kept up with the turbulent times

A veritable deluge of crises since 2008 has shown that crisis PR is no longer up to the job. The BP oil spill, Apple's Antennagate, the fall of Goldman Sachs, Toyota's Great Recall, the sexual travails of Tiger Woods, the trysts of Al Gore, the loose lips of Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- all these combustions would have been fixed, in the good old days of 2007, with a call to Burston-Marsteller or Sitrick and Co. The accepted wisdom was that you didn't want to be on the other side of a Mike Sitrick counterattack. Crisis PR wasn't just effective, it was feared.

But the new crisis paradigm is spinning hopelessly in the dark. By mid-2010, the stories were changing too rapidly to control, much less to revise. Like a violent postmodern vortex, the bad news sucked down all who struggled to escape it. Unsurprisingly, the Internet is to blame. But the phenomenon goes beyond the 24/7 news-and-comment cycle. It forces the PR world to confront something far more disruptive -- and something that will undercut its $700-an-hour fees.

New Study Shows Positive Effects From Marcellus Shale Drilling

CHARLESTON -- It's an industry often criticized for its negative impacts. But now, a new study says natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region -- if developed -- could create 280,000 new jobs and add $6 billion in new tax revenues to local, state and federal governments.

The study was just released by the American Petroleum Institute.

Oil Democracy - Government of Ghana, By GNPC For the Chinese

The Petroleum Agreement (PA) gave Ghana 10% initial stake that is free of charge. In addition, Ghana has 5% in royalties – also free. Next, Ghana gets to collect 35% taxes for being the host country. Finally, Ghana has a paid interest of 2.5%. That is called a paid interest because for Ghana to enjoy the benefits of that percentage, it has to pay 2.5% of all developmental costs leading up to production and thereafter. Even that Ghana cannot pay. We are relying on the very people whom we are damaging to pay that for us so that we can reimburse them when the oil starts flowing.

Small N.Y. hamlet gets big train-car contract

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The town of Elmira, an upstate New York community that once prospered during the manufacturing boom, got a spot of good news Friday.

A total of 575 jobs are coming to the small city, after Amtrak awarded an Elmira-based company a contract to build 130 new train cars.

Tesla Electric Cars: Revved Up, but Far to Go

The sedan fits five adults as well as two children in rear-facing seats, Mr. Musk said, and could drive halfway across the country between breakfast and bedtime. It would, he said, be on the road in 2011. Tesla already had a factory lined up and hundreds of millions of dollars in financing on the way from the Energy Department.

Today, production of the Model S hasn’t even begun. Some critics doubt whether the sedan can actually transport seven passengers. And Mr. Musk concedes that driving halfway across the country would take at least 16 hours at a rather heady average speed of 75 miles an hour — not including stopping at swapping stations that Tesla has yet to build to change a heavyweight battery that will have, at best, a 300-mile charge.

Ethanol-free gas running on fumes

Drivers seek stations selling conventional fuel, paying more to get better mileage. But those outlets are getting hard to find.

Huhne Backs Wind Turbine Increase

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has paved the way for a controversial increase in wind turbines to prevent the UK suffering a power crisis.

A Deutschland disconnected from its Volk

For the German renewables technology mission masters however, aiming for the clean energy high ground at a global scale is rather different from the view from the ground at home, in the streets of Berlin's suburbs and its middle-class housing enclaves, where a steadily ageing population is struggling more with every passing year to make ends meet.

Babysitters for backyard chickens

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNNMoney.com) -- You've heard of cat-sitters, dog-sitters and, of course, babysitters. But chicken-sitters?

In Portland, Ore., a city known for its deep do-it-yourself streak and poultry-permissive laws, two backyard farmers have stepped up to meet an unusual need: watching hens when their owners go on vacation.

The Risks Of Fiddling

American Empire provides bread, circuses, and all the toys we (think we) need, stolen from other countries and future generations. I can understand why people are reluctant to abandon the empire. In exchange for inhabiting a cubicle, you get to harvest the fruits of empire while avoiding any steps toward self reliance. You get to shower in the morning, kibitz at the water cooler with your friends, flirt with the hot thirty-something in the next cube, and dine on Thai take-out. What’s not to like, especially if, like most Americans, you couldn’t care less about the people we oppress to do your bidding or the costs to the living planet?

Immorality aside, there is a risk. The risk comes in two flavors. One flavor is the opportunity cost of abandoning the empire too soon. The other flavor is the bitterness that comes when you realize you waited too long to abandon the empire, and you are suffering and then dying as a result. And surrounded by a bunch of ugly boxes we call suburbia, no less.

It's A Race To Failure Between Rogue States And Global Oil Output

Dwindling global oil supplies are leaving the world ever more reliant on a group of unstable countries – many of which are themselves facing major domestic problems right now.

Believe it or not, many of the world’s major oil exporters cannot maintain their own domestic energy requirements. Venezuelan consumers endure electricity blackouts of “seven or eight hours a day,” but less well known is the situation in the Middle East, where residents are facing rolling power outages just as summer temperatures soar, and with it, the demand for air conditioning.

China questions review of controversial carbon program

A Chinese government fund has told a U.N. panel it supports project developers that earn carbon offsets under a lucrative Kyoto Protocol program, and rejects the idea that they are overcompensated.

New Map to Help Calculate Antarctic Ice Loss

High-resolution satellite images and newly developed computer software have enabled NASA researchers to create the most accurate map to date of the snaking line that marks the edge of the ice sheet covering much of Antarctica.

Environmental disaster #1:

NDP sets a bad power precedent

Three years after the passage of the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act and an agreement to meet the national standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, the mercurial NDP government has turned on a dime.

The "dime" was the higher power rates forecasted by Nova Scotia Power to offset the cost of burning cleaner fuel to comply with the law.

After meeting privately this month with business, community, environmental and university groups, government determined the public would happily accept higher levels of the neuro-poison for several more years in exchange for lower power bills next year.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1193594.html

Environmental disaster #2:

Cutting down on clearcuts
NewPage readies for biomass hearings, pledges to reduce controversial forestry practice

On Monday, lawyers for NewPage and its partner, Nova Scotia Power, will try for the second time in a year to persuade government regulators in Halifax to allow them to burn 650,000 tonnes of wood waste a year to generate electricity.

In May, a blue-ribbon panel urged the government to be wary of allowing biomass to be used to generate electricity because the resource may not be sustainable.

Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell has said he is not opposed to the use of biomass, but he is concerned about clearcutting and isn’t in favour of "turning the province into a moonscape" to reduce Nova Scotia Power’s carbon emissions.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1193559.html


And as a follow-up to a previous Drumbeat post:

New Brunswick's role in the smart grid revolution
Energy: But can a province this size really compete with the Ontarios and Californias of the world - the two jurisdictions that have taken the lead on smart grid?

SAINT JOHN - New Brunswick can be a living lab for research and investment in the so-called smart grid.

At least that's what boosters of efforts to develop and market the smart grid - a broad concept loosely centered around the convergence of the power grid with communications and information technologies - here in the province are saying.


The four-year demonstration project - which Chang says will monitor more than 1,000 homes and businesses across the Maritime provinces - aims to balance customer load with variable energy supply from wind turbines. It involves shifting the usage of electricity by water heaters in private homes and commercial air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration systems to create a controllable load to balance the wind power. This could replace the need for costly - and dirty - generation systems to supplement the wind.


He says this is the first project in the world to use aggregated load for the integration of wind power into the system. And the technology could also be applied to other renewables such as solar power.

See: http://nbbusinessjournal.canadaeast.com/journal/article/1148149

Best hopes for making good choices in powering our future.



It doesn't look like you really know anything about the power business, especially the biomass (wood) business. The 650,000 tons wood waste plant in Nova Scotia translates to between 55-70 MW of power, which is pretty small compared to normal gas or coal fired plants, but pretty good size for a wood fired power plant.

The wood fuel really is wood waste, just like the report said, the area probably generates several times that amount of wood waste from tree trimmings and other waste producing activities - otherwise the developers would not try to move forward. Anyone who thinks that trees are harvested to burn as fuel in a power plant really is just showing their ignorance. The wood waste is not free (generally $25-$30/ton)and trying to use timbered logs as fuel would be very uneconomic as the plant would have to compete with lumberyards buying them - that's not going to make anyone any money.

If you really want to go live like in days before electricity, then go for it - but try to ask questions and learn some things before condemning other people for wanting a better life than that.

"a better life than that (pre-electrified living standards)"

A better life for who and how many? At what cost? And Who bears the cost (now and in the future)?

Not necessarily disagreeing, just "trying to ask questions and learn some things."


It doesn't look like you really know anything about the power business, especially the biomass (wood) business. The 650,000 tons wood waste plant in Nova Scotia translates to between 55-70 MW of power, which is pretty small compared to normal gas or coal fired plants, but pretty good size for a wood fired power plant.

I've worked in the utility industry for nearly thirty years, so I have some professional experience to drawn upon, but to answer your question, approximately 225,000 tonnes of biomass would come from milling waste generated by their internal operations, and of the remaining 400,000 tonnes, half would be harvested from crown leases and the balance from several hundred private wood lot owners, the majority of which are not FSC-certified.

Simply put, I object to this project because it's being rammed through without any reasonable assurance of long-term resource sustainability. In fact, Nova Scotia Power in evidence presented before the Public Utilities Review Board admitted that it does not know what practices would be necessary to ensure such.

If you really want to go live like in days before electricity, then go for it - but try to ask questions and learn some things before condemning other people for wanting a better life than that.

I guess you haven't bothered to read my past posts; if you did, I doubt you'd make such a ludicrous statement. May I suggest you follow your own advice.



A better life? Growth til it kills ya? That's a better life than what?

Where do I hear, POWER DOWN ? Developers of what? More techno merry go round?

Depending on how old you are, YOU, will most likely live in the days ahead without much electricity.

I would suggest you get used to it soon.

How about this first-person account:

"I have seen some awful forestry practices and some good ones. But never have I seen such a scene of total, awful devastation as in the Upper Musquodoboit site. Simpson remarked also that he had never as a professional forester seen such destruction. Not only the trees were removed, but even the forest floor. Nothing remained except a wasteland of mud. "

(From the Eastern Native Tree Society web site)

Stripping all available biomass from a site could never be regenerative or sustainable.


Thanks, John. I've read similar accounts and it thoroughly disgusts me.

Best hopes for the Utility and Review Board killing this proposal once and for all.


"New Study Shows Positive Effects From Marcellus Shale Drilling"

I think the single comment at the bottom of the article says it all...

Link up top: Tesla Electric Cars: Revved Up, but Far to Go

This is a very good piece casting doubt that the Tesla Electric Car will ever live up to expectations. But I found an even better article on Seeking Alpha:

Battery Cost Forecasts and The Origin of Specious (With Humble Apologies to Darwin)

...the clear inference is that the Report is political theatre wrapped in a DOE cover...

At some point the market will accept the cruel reality that political promises cannot repeal the laws of economic gravity, we can't waste scarce resources in an effort to conserve plentiful resources, and investments in vehicle electrification are bound to follow the tragic value trajectory blazed by fuel cells and corn ethanol, which have been favorites of the political class since I was a baby lawyer.

It seems that there are far more problems with the electric car battery than anyone is admitting. It may indeed be mostly hype just as the fuel car was, all promise and no delivery. Or as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle.

Ron P.


More pointless slamming of renewables.

Cassandras(Greek: Κασσάνδρα, "she who entangles men") just love to listen to themselves talk, especially dirt-bag baby-lawyers.

Electric car batteries do work, though not as well as we might like. Ethanol does provide fuel though not in the quantities that we currently need.

We should be encouraging renewables which offer an alternative to fossil fuels.

A true 'darwinian' should be encouraging adaptation to a lower energy/renewable future.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."--Charles Darwin

To paraphrase The Princess Bride:

Cassandra. You keep using that character. I do not think it denotes what you think it denotes.

(Cassandra's tragedy was that she was right in her predictions, but as a result of Apollo's curse no-one would believe her.)

Back on Ron's iniital point, I think you're missing the scale of things. You want to make a minor change to how the "predominantly 1 person in a car driving to any and all whims" lifestyle works from fossil fuels to fossil fuels+some other energy sources and carriers. What Ron, and I, are thinking about is the bigger adaptation that thinks about adapting to low-energy future conditions more effectively by trying to configure human activities so there's not so much "predominantly 1 person in a car driving around" going on in the baseline of human lives.

We should be encouraging renewables for whom?

The extreme minority who can afford renewables and will be served by the renewables?

Or those whose resources and labor will be used to build or subsidize the renewables infrastructure used by the wealthy minority?

For whom do you speak?

Almost all the population of the US now has access to grid electricity. Very few of those as individuals could pay for the infrastructure to produce that electricity if they had to do so themselves. Even a small diesel generator is very expensive source of electricity, especially when compared to a large coal fired plant running 24/7 because of the high cost of fuel in the retail market and the fact that the engine in the gen set wouldn't last very long. In addition, the financing available to the large utility is much less expensive than that which an individual might obtain, since bonds can be sold with 40 year maturities.

It's easy to forget that much of our present electric supply will wear out and need replacement within a few decades. Inflation has pushed up the cost of all forms of energy, but we as individuals are paying an average of capital costs spread over 40 or 50 years in the past. If the renewable sources, such as PV and wind, were financed the same as the utilities, that is, spread over several decades, they would be available for costs in the same ballpark as the costs for new fossil or nuke power plants if the external costs were included.

E. Swanson

I think we are relying on old assumptions that are no longer valid.

Access to the grid, and access to a functioning and reliable grid, are two different things.

How to "finance" the grid or alternative energies (grid-tied or otherwise) when the US and Europe are insolvent and barely managing to pretend they are not ?

How many local utilities of bankrupt municipalities will be able to access the grid during economic collapse?

In terms of "financing" any of this: How many decades are left to extend and pretend - to kick the can down the road for the next generation to deal with. Maybe ... NONE ???

"every year is getting shorter
never seem to find the time

plans that either come to naught
or half a page of scribbled lines"

(thanks again gilmore and waters)

Just cut consumption a few % and divert that to investment.

Most Americans were living decent lives in 1960, with *FAR* less consumption than today.


Very good point Alan.

In many places and cultures people live decent lives today with *FAR* less consumption than average Americans in the 1960s.

As far as "cut consumption a few %" ...See "Plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines..."

We will be cutting consumption as this depression deepens. Let's see how it goes.

Yes, "we" are cutting consumption because of the Great Recession. That is to say, some of US are cutting consumption, those who have lost their jobs or who want to enter the job market, but can't find work. Even if the "real" unemployment rate is near 20%, the other 80% are still showing up for work. Perhaps it is a fault in our capitalistic system which responds to a downturn by laying off some of the workers while others keep on going. We might achieve the same 20% cut in hours worked by going to a 4 day work week of 32 hours or a 3 day work week of 30 hours, but that's considered part time work and isn't likely to be rewarded with the sort of benefits enjoyed by full time workers. Instead, as the economy picks up, businesses tend to add overtime for the remaining workers until it's clear that the economy has turned the corner.

Everyone assumes the Great Recession is just another temporary period of consumption curtailment, since the media keeps telling us that everything is going to be AOK...

E. Swanson

Yes, "we" are cutting consumption because of the Great Recession. That is to say, some of US are cutting consumption, those who have lost their jobs or who want to enter the job market, but can't find work. Even if the "real" unemployment rate is near 20%, the other 80% are still showing up for work.

That somewhat overstates the GR. Total decrease of demand/consumption is somewhat under 10%. A broad measure of unemployment that would read 20% today (double the official) would probably have read about 10% pre-GR.

Its not just that those who have become unemployed/underemployed are cutting back. Those with jobs are also. Net national debt (private plus government) is decreasing, i.e. the private sector is paying back debt faster than the government sector is increasing it. So some of the cutback in consumption is caused by people attempting to rebuild their finances. Many corporations are making decent profits again, but rather than investing the profits, they are retaining them. This is good for their balance sheets, but bad for employment.

"cut consumption a few %" ...See "Plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled

Electricity is simple. All the US has to do is match California.

I wonder how much of that is merely home heating related, most of California does not get very cold.

I wonder how much of that is merely home heating related, most of California does not get very cold.

I don't think home heating per capita is rising in the rest of the country. I'll give a few reasons:
(1) The population on average is moving to warmer climates.
(2) We do know how to build more efficient structures than in the past. That doesn't mean we always, or even often take advantage of the opportunity).
(3) Global warming.

In California much of the new growth has been pushed away from the coasts, like where I live. California is having its coolest summer in forty years (or some such), yet I've had 8days at 100 or above. So AC demand per capita has got to be increasing. Of course the unplesant news, is that much of these comparative efficiency gains have been driven by high prices of electricity.

I noticed you left out the "fuel cell car" in your rant. Should we be encouraging taxpayer funded grants to things that have little hope of ever working. If it will work, if it has a positive ROI, then thousands will jump to fund the project. If it has promise then there should be people with money wanting a piece of the action.

Once you understand that The Origin of Specious is political rather than technical, everything else makes sense. Armed with barrels of TAXPAYER money, the political class has sought out battery developers who will adopt the party line and add technical credence to questionable ideological goals. Faced with a Hobson's choice between needed funding and technical integrity, the developers make the rational business decision and take the money, confident that future apologies will be easier to spin than current failure. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of optimism from journalists who don't bother checking facts and you have the perfect political story for the next five years.

I am a true Darwinian. Schemes that have little hope will go the way of the fuel cell car. The government has cut funding for the fuel-cell car after billions of taxpayer money went down the drain.

Energy Department Cuts Funding for Fuel Cell Cars

Well, actually they cut only 60% of the giveaway funds to fuel cell researchers. And that 40% that remains will fund all fuel cell research because no company is stupid enough to pour more money into something that is such an obvious loser.

Industry operates on the Darwinian principal of "natural selection". The losers will be weeded out and the winners will survive. But even the losers can survive as long as they get government grants to keep them alive.

Now I am all for government grants in which the funds are used to study the feasibility of something. But there comes a time, as it did with the fuel cell car, that it must be admitted that the project is just not feasible. At that point all government grants should stop and the project must be allowed to die.

That would be the Darwinian way and I am a Darwinian.

If ethanol were feasible then it does not need taxpayer funds. There will definitely come a time when government funds for ethanol will disappear... What then?

Ron P.

If ethanol McMansion ownership for the masses were feasible then it does not need taxpayer funds. There will definitely come a time when government funds for ethanol oversized homes too far from work sites will disappear... What then?


Then Al Gore will have to globe-trott between smaller mansions.

"Pig-man, PIG-man
Ha Ha, Charade you are

You well-heeled Big Wheel
Ha Ha, Charade you are"

OK, I get your point that Al Gore is very rich...

I think you missed the point of the article that the 'middle class' was sold one bill of goods after another to incentivize them to 'buy' (take mortgages out on) larger houses than they could really afford. And...that the (subsidy) party needs to come to an end, with the result of people moving into smaller houses closer to their places of work...accompanied by zoning changes allowing shops (places to buy and to work) moving in amongst the houses and apartments.

Somehow I don't think that Al Gore, or any other rich people, would change their McMansion-buying ways if all the tax credits and other government gimmicks were to disappear.

"The rich aren't like us"...

But, you got your little ditty published!

Whoa Heisenberg,

That was my point - that the wealthy "green" pretenders (al gore being the poster-child) will pretend to share our burden. I was responding directly to the question "What then" at the end of your boxed quote.

I agree our leaders sold us a bill of goods to create a housing bubble and that it is not sustainable and that we will be forced to change.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Snarlin Ardvark,

Please accept my apology...it is I who misunderstood you and was too snarky at any rate. I am too cranky this week-end. May peace and good health and happiness be with you.

I am too cranky this week-end.

I started responses to any number of items the past few days, and ended up deleting them because they were all cranky responses... it must be something in the air?

Let's all take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

Ahh... nuts! Didn't work! Still cranky.

Hope this week goes better than the last one.




I pray(figuratively,folks figuratively!) that a few of the people here who are so absolutely certain that conservatives (who are not the same creatures as bau republicans) are all ignorant idiots will take the time to read the article linked above to NRO.

I'm smart enough to understand that liberals (other than a few true believers)aren't dingalings who want the govt to run everything.

Unfortunately the more vocal liberals seem to think that conservatives want the govt to run NOTHING other than security and maybe the post office.There are a few vocal true believers who do actually think that way of course, but only a few.

True conservatism properly understood as a philosophy forces people to face up to realities-such as the realities of unsustainable fiscal policies.

If we had had truly conservative govt over the last six or seven decades, we wouldn't be head over heels in debt, or importing two thirds of the oil we are burning.

We could still have social welfare programs, but the facts of financing them would have to be recognized up front, as well as the inevitable negative impacts-viz the housing bubble example.

Organizations of every kind, including bueracracies, are a sort of life form-like an ant colony.

Natural laws demand that they grow and reproduce, or that they die and cease to exist.Liberalism doesn't seem to recognize this fundamental truth.

This is not to say that there aren't problems with conservatism-there are many, and they are formidable.

Probably the greatest single one is ignorance of the physical truths of the world we live in among scientifically uneducated conservatives-meaning unfortunately the vast majority of them .Otoh the problem of scientific illiteracy among liberals is nothing to be lightly dismissed.

The answers to our problems can only be found , if they ARE to be found,by making use of the strengths of all philosophies.

Unfortunately that old "us" and "them " subprogram is at work in this respect,and running just fine, just the way Mother Nature designed it to.

When things get tough enough, we will quit competing with each other and go back to copoperating with each other to survive, as in the earliest days when small bands of us had little to fear from other bands of humans but a great deal to fear from "lions and bears and tigers oh my!" ;)

As a hot hearted young liberal I used to LOVE to get drunk and party;as an old conservative with a brain, I recognize that the price of the party is the hangover.

The current hangover just might kill us-it could be the straw that breaks the camels back, so to speak, leaving us helplessly sliding down the slope to ruin which aangel and many others often point out.

Hey ther, OFM! I agree with you about this. I was a young lib, became a conservative as I aged. Only thing, when Shrub took office, I knew from his behavior in Texas that he was no conservative. And, his actions proved that. I reassessed where I was, and decided I am a conservative progressive. Maybe blue-dog Dem? I dunno. I can't tell the difference between the two parties any more. They both suck up to corporations so much that it makes me sick. I fear that between them we could end up with a true facist government (which is the marriage between corporaitons and government). And, that would be a recipe for disaster. Not that we are not headed in that direction already.

Have a good one.


The fuel cell research fit well with the requirements of the Department of Defense for small sources of electrical power to run electronics in the field as well as to power electric vehicles.

Whenever you look at government funding of R&D, you must always consider how it fits with DoD and National Security objectives, even when the funding is coming out of "civilian" programs.

"If ethanol were feasible then it does not need taxpayer funds."

I'm going to preface by saying that I think ethanol is a bad idea, large scale. With that said...the direct and particularly the hidden subsidies given to the petroleum industry are pretty vast, plus there's competition with a mature industry with a lot of established infrastructure. So if gasoline and other petro-derivatives were priced without their own subsidies (yes, counting military intervention and pollution) then some of these things would likely seem a hell of a lot more competitive.

Fuel cells are theoretically 85% efficient. The PEM fuel cells in cars are about 40% efficient, the problem with the use of platinum and other rare elements will be eventually over come with nanocarbon structures.
Fuel cells run of hydrogen which can be efficiently made from renewable electricity (75%) or fossil fuels
at 50-60% efficiency. Either way they beat cars 15% efficient running on gasoline from oil at 85% efficient.

I get your point, pseudo-darwinian.
If you have to subsidize anything it must be infeasible.

If Darwin were alive today I'm sure he would recognize

Fuel cells are theoretically 85% efficient.

85 percent! Really! When one measures the efficiency of a hydrogen powered fuel cell you must start with the AC electricity required to make the hydrogen and go from there. This site gives the efficiency of hydrogen and where it is lost.

Who Killed the Hydrogen-Powered Car?

Step by step the author of this piece shows that if you start with 100 kWh of electricity you eventually deliver 23 kWh for torque to the wheels. That's right hydrogen car is 23% efficient. Obviously you were not counting generating the hydrogen, not the compression needed to make it deliverable, nor the delivery or anything else.

Either way they beat cars 15% efficient running on gasoline...

Now where did you get that absurd number? Where is the other 85% of the energy lost. I know there is the exploration, the drilling, the transportation and the refining. But even counting all that the energy from gasoline is far more than 15%.

And it is a moving number. It cost much more to deliver gasoline today than it did just 25 years ago due to the much higher drilling cost in deep waters, the arctic and so forth. One cannot say that gasoline is 15% efficient without some explanation like my web site gives for hydrogen above.

And your insulting do-do bird is typical of something you would do. Attack the man, call him a do-do. Better yet, for the effect post a huge picture of a do-do. There is a Latin term for that type of argument. You know what it is.

Ron P.

But even counting all that the energy from gasoline is far more than 15%.

The thermal efficiency of an average internal combustion engine, using gasoline, runs in the 15-25% range. So even after crude exploration,production, refining, transport and distribution, delivering a single gallon of gasoline to the average automobile, the thermal efficiency of the motor itself then loses another 75-85% because automobiles suck when it comes to converting gasoline to motion.

Sounds like with your references that hydrogen has gasoline beat all to hell and back. Humans are such schmucks when it comes to energy usage.

From a detailed reading of majorian's comment it appears that when talking about what's possible now, rather than what is hoped for in the future, he's claiming 0.4*0.75=0.30 percent efficiency for some part of the energy delivery chain. I can't actually tell what "PEM fuel cells in cars are about 40% efficient" actually means: is that efficiency in terms of converting hydrogen potential energy into vehicle kinetic energy, or does it stop short (eg, producing electrical output), in which case to be intellectually honest you need to include other figures to the comparable stage in the gasoline case. Likewise, if you're going to count costs of exploration, production, etc then again to be intellectually honest you need to include analogous "energy costs" for "renewable" generation (or show convincingly that they can be accounted for by using excess energy from the "renewable" source; "proof by bombastic statement" isn't valid).

Now maybe electrical engines would, on an honest accounting, still turn out to be better either in the "theoretical future" or maybe even now, but that requires a more detailed calculation. It's better to be honestly unsure and looking for answers than a "schmuck" who'll swallow any line he's fed without scrutiny.

M Though I'm anything but clever,
I could talk like that for ever:
Once a cat was killed by care;
Only brave deserve the fair.

E Very true,
So they do.

M Wink is often good as nod;
Spoils the child who spares the rod;
Thirsty lambs run foxy dangers;
Dogs are found in many mangers,

E Yes, I know,
That is so.

E(Aside.)Though to catch my drift he's striving,
I'll dissemble - I'll dissemble;
When he sees at what I'm driving,
Let him tremble - let him tremble!


Though a mystic tone I/you borrow,
You will/I shall learn the truth with sorrow,
Here to-day and gone to-morrow;
Yes, I know-
That is so!

The oil infrastructure and the ice engine infrastructure EXIST.

The hydrogen infrastructure does not exist, and the tachnology required to bring it into viable existence does not exist in large part.

Going out and betting the future on a new technology is a very risky adventure;the known and unknown problems must always be solved , every one of them , to create a viable chain;a broken or missing link means a worthless chain.

The catalysts made from precious metals may indeed be replaced eventually by some sort of organic nanotech;but otoh these new catalysts may never be invented;and if they are invented, nobody may ever be able to figure out a way to scale up the production at a reasonable cost.

The odds of solving all the problems associated with hydrogen, and then scaling up the necessary infrastructure, within a viable time frame in respect to ff depletion must approach VERY close to zero.

I'm with Darwinian here. Efficiency of fuel cells decreases with smaller size, and may not scale very well for car sized power plants. But, the main problem with fuel cells is cost and maintenence. Last I heard a hydrogen fuel cell car is very expensive, and then needs a major fuelcell overhaul after 3000miles. So they really aren't good for anything other than expensives greenwashing.
I don't think the electric car is the same sort of animal -although perhaps Tesla sportscar type electrics are no more than expensive playthings for rich people. But electric vehicles with decent lifecycle costs ought to get here. Until then those on a budget may have to utilize spinoffs, such as better motors/batteries for electric bicycles. Directing anger topwards renewables in general because the wealthy are better placed to benefit isn't useful.

A "true Darwinian" would know that human thought can have no positive directional control over our evolution. Darwin was not talking about our physical survival, he was talking about our genetic survival. It could well be that tinkering with renewables terminates our genetic survival. Think of the lack of adaptability of the average person dependent even on renewable energy. Social Darwinism is a myth, and is dangerous.

You are a technotopian. Just let go and enjoy.

Tell us about the lack of adapability of being set up for renewables.

Generally, it involves devising some very efficient consumption needs, since RE's output is often fairly modest.. beyond which, it also is generally divided into various sources, Solar Heat, PV Electricity, Woodfire Backup, maybe wind or micro hydro or renewable grid offerings. Anyone getting some Renewable energy into their systems is already doing so with a mind to having backups and paralleled sources, and are much less likely to be blindly content with a single source.

Seems to me like there's a lot of resilience and adaptability in the renewables approach.

what has ksa been finding ?

mostly gas(and condensate).

this from bp statistical reviews.

from 2001 through 2009 ksa'a PRODUCING gas oil ratio(gor) went from 564 scf/stb to 772 scf/stb.

for this analysis, gor = gas(associated+non associated)/ oil(crude+condensate).


from 2001 through 2009 the gor(DRG) went from 38,000 scf/stb up to 69,000 scf/stb.

two different ways of looking at gor 1)producing gor, and
2)based on discoveries revisions and growth.

and incidentally, total recognized discoveries revisions and growth (2001 - 2009)amounted to 41 gb.

feel free to not understand wtf i am talking about.

feel free to not understand wtf i am talking about.

"wtf"? ;)

"stb" threw me for a sec; you mean Stock tank barrel, right? So KSA is producing more gas for a given amount of oil. Why don't they just produce way more associated than is necessary, given how supposedly humongous their reserves are? Or set up a waiver in OPEC that oil produced along with this gas not be subject to quota? Next I was going to suggest that they just tell the rest of OPEC to f off, but that last idea is tantamount to the same thing anyway. They've got money, just produce it in secret. Or build more GOSPs.

Read that electricity roundup article - these ME nations are really in a world of hurt. KSA should really start a big solar thermal buildout.

yes, stb is stock tank barrels.

the increase in producing gor is no doubt because aramco is producing more non associated gas and condensate. aramco manages their oil fields such that gor for their oil fields(associated gor) should be more or less consistant - a consequence of pressure maintenance.

the ratio of gas reserve increases to oil reserve increases is really what shows their discoveries are predominantly gas/condensate.

more gosps would allow more gas and condensate production. what is needed is gas re-injection(cycling)which would result in better recovery of the condensate in place.* aramco is looking at this as a possibility:

Modeling a Rich Gas Condensate Reservoir with Composition Grading and Faults


A series of prediction runs are planned to forecast the reservoir behavior and hydrocarbon recoveries under various operational scenarios including simple depletion as well as cycling at different stages of production.

the non associated gas is predominately sour, meaning it is difficult and expensive to process. it also takes a long time to design and construct.

solar power ? sounds like a perfect solution. isn't that too big to succeed ?

* one source(me) puts condensate in place at up to 250 gb.

Re. The Risk of Fiddling

I would think this outstanding essay also applies to "The Risk of Bargaining."

"Maybe if we promise Mother we will eat all our veggies and will recycle, and turn off the lights when we are not in a room, and we'll use solar and wind... and... and... hell, we'll make a 'bug-out' bag just in case and..."

"The other flavor is the bitterness that comes when you realize you waited too long to abandon the empire, and you are suffering..."

I know a lot of people who could afford making big changes in their lives two years ago but whose circumstances have changed so radically the past two years they can now barely afford the Cable Bill to watch the current collapse unfold.

No more "bug out" fantasies for them.

"And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You've missed the starting gun...

(well I certainly was in the right...)"

Don't forget to credit Gilmore/Waters.....

Right. I figure everyone knows that already, but I should not assume ;)

No... Really. One should mention the source/to give credit, if one doesn't want to fall victim to suckers like this one:

Newspaper Chain’s New Business Plan: Copyright Suits


Mentioning the source and giving credit has nothing to do with it. They are going after sites for posting even links and short excerpts, even if credit is given.

I think if someone went to court, they would probably win if they posted only a link and short excerpt. But they are counting on people not having the money to stand up to a large corporation in court.

Most of the exerpts posted on TOD would likely fall under the "Fair Use Doctrine", in the US anyway.

Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.


....though it may be a good idea for more posters to read up on this stuff. Very complex issues:

The unauthorized use of text content can be a form of copyright infringement. It is common on the world wide web for text to be copied from one site to another without consent of the author. Roberta Beach Jacobson criticizes the misappropriation of writers' work by websites in her article Copyrights and Wrongs.


....oh geez, did I just violate the Fair Use Doctrine?

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are dual-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Some text has been imported only under CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-compatible license and cannot be reused under GFDL; such text will be identified either on the page footer, in the page history or the discussion page of the article that utilizes the text. Every image has a description page which indicates the license under which it is released or, if it is non-free, the rationale under which it is used.

Contributions remain the property of their creators, while the CC-BY-SA and GFDL licenses ensure the content is freely distributable and reproducible.


I guess I'm OK.....(hears loud knock on door!)

Not remotely a lawyer, but my understanding is that -- although you obviously need to minimise the amount you quote, not copying entire articles -- bizarrely you're actually on safer ground if you're arguing against the writer of the snippet you're "quoting", because in law it's a reasonable defence against a charge copyright infringement that the only way you could write a detailed critique is by pointing out what the original said. In contrast, if you're agreeing with an article the it's harder to argue as a defence that you "had to" quote excerpts rather than just refer people to the original.

Obviously, we think we're safe under fair use.

But some newspapers are actually demanding that other sites not even link to them, even if they don't quote a word from the article. Just a clickable headline is seen as infringement.

IMO, this is a sign of desperation. Newspapers are really struggling, not only with the Great Recession but with the paradigm shift to digital content. They don't know how to make money in this strange new world, and it's making them crazy.

I think if someone went to court, they would probably win if they posted only a link and short excerpt. But they are counting on people not having the money to stand up to a large corporation in court.

True, I read that. :-S That's why I consider Mr. Gibson not being a very nice person...

And I also agree with the first part of your reply, but apart from that, I think mentioning the source is nice and generally helps (for whatever reason*). I hope you won't disagree. :)

* In this particular instance..... I like to know what are people talking/writing about and cuz I've never been to the USA I'm not familiar with all those things people there consider common knowledge and/or is part of their lives. Like Gilmore/Waters, and their... *trying to find the right word in the dictionary* .. hmm... maybe this will do: pertinent/relevant lyrics. :))

@ Ghung: Umm.. Maybe a silly question, but... Isn't it "Gilmour/Waters"? O:-)

I stand corrected (and shamed, as I consider Gilmour to be perhaps the greatest living guitarist. Those in doubt need to check out his '07 performance at Royal Albert).

I'm trying to post between batches of the best kosher dills I've ever made (according to my pickle fans :-)

I consider Gilmour to be perhaps the greatest living guitarist.

While he may or may not be the greatest, he is without doubt my favorite :)

there are always differences of opinion about who is the greatest guitar player. Here's one fellow I know. Here and here are some other locally known folks doing it at home. Then, there's Mark Knopfler and friends...

E. Swanson

Thanks for the Knopfler.

I can usually hear echoes of his Soundtrack to LOCAL HERO when I'm at TOD.

'Nature guards her treasures jealously. Just a decade ago, these fields
were beyond our reach. We didn't have the technology. Today, a Knox engineer will tell you that he might need a little time, but he'll get the oil.'

'..He knows a little time is all that we have left.' -1983 Bill Forsyth

You may think it strange, but I hadn't heard that one. Watching his videos, I notice he is 3 finger picking! I do like this one quite a lot too...

E. Swanson

I love Knopfler and his style. I bet he would agree with me. I know a few really great players, rock, blues, classical. Gilmour is the guitar God. Just ask your favorite player. He does it all. Style. Originality. Timing. Subtlety. Inflection. Tone. Pitch. Versatility. A natural lack of effort. Longevity. Acoustic, electric, classical, and that awesome voice to boot (not to mention his writing). Even the Rev Billy G said so (and I love Billy Gibbons!). Gilmour's the standard. Richards knows it. Satriani knows it. Van Hallen knows it. Carlos knows it. I love all of these guys but they're niche players.

Yeah, IMO Gilmour's the guitar God. How many of the above have Crosby/Nash, Bowie singing backup for them?

Then again, the best player I ever knew personally was a hunchback from Sylvania, Georgia :-)

Sounds like the business approach of a very large (software) marketing corporation in the 1980's..

My understanding of copyright law is that any duplication of another's work is by definition an infringement but there are defenses available. Said another way, you are immediately guilty and must prove why you should be let off.

Re. "Worsening Electrical Shortages Fuel Growing Crisis"

Electricity problems are not confined to the developing world. Australia and North America have emerged as advanced economies in need of a great deal of spending to shore up creaky power generation and transmission networks that are showing their age. Whether their economies can accommodate such spending is an open question.

Europe is on the case, spurred by concerns on energy security and climate change... The euro zone, however, is mired in a deep financial crisis that could potentially upset Europe’s entrenched renewable-energy agenda...

Meanwhile, in the USA, the current administration begins plans for yet another stealth and possibly illegal bailout of dead-beat banks via the FDIC...

The grid upgrades are doing ok in Sweden but some are delayed due to NIMBY. Norway are investing even more and both Finland and Denmark seems to be doing ok. Norway has an oil economy, Sweden has weathered the finacial crisis in a realy good way and Denmark and Finland are doing ok. I am not worried about the grid and I expect it to be one of the most valuble assets during the post peak oil era when the global economy adjusts to the new situation.

Request for Comments about EVs

An underreported weakness of EVs is that their stated range does not include heating, air conditioning, lighting or even windshield wipers.

Every night in DC I took the Orange Line to my hotel in Vienna, VA. The train exited the subway to the surface next to miles of stalled cars in the outbound direction due to road construction. Freeway is 2 lanes each direction and narrowed to one due to construction.

If a fraction of these cars had been EVs, with the air conditioning and lights on, many would have “run out of juice” in that traffic jam. And randomly stalled cars would have seriously compounded the already severe traffic jam. This would have added to the oil consumption by the remainder of the cars in the traffic jam.

Looking forward, I cannot see how large numbers of EVs will be allowed to operate on congested streets and highways.

Any comments ?

Best Hopes for Electrified cars and EVs on uncongested streets and highways,


PS: Leanan, I want to post this Monday (more eyes see it). If I cannot do both, please delete this one.

Create "EV Lanes" next to the car pool lanes?

Maybe build way sides with big ol' power generators at choke points along the freeway so the EV's can pull off and plug in and wait out the traffic jams in comfort.

Then EVs could maybe even add microwave ovens and DVD players along with heating, air conditioning, lighting or even windshield wipers.

Real-World Results: 2011 Nissan Leaf EV Range May Differ by 40 Miles - Wide Open Throttle - Motor Trend Magazine

* Driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 15 mph in cold, wintry weather with the heater on? Expect a range of about 62 miles.

Not a dealbreaker but MM drones will play this to the hilt.

Only thing about EVs that really interests me is how much oil they will save, if any. Obviously with double digit millions of market penetration they'd contribute, but initially? Transportation Energy Data Book says contributions to US VMT from vehicles < 1 year in age averages 9.18%, let's say 200k LEAFs plus 60k Volts is 2.6% of 10 million sales (probably a titch optimistic); so 2.6% * 9.18% * 9000 bpd gasoline is 21 bp/d, a rounding error, in other words.

% of the fleet? TEDB says for 2008 247,322,000 vehicles; 260k is .11%, .11% * 9mb/d would be 9.9 b/d. Not all of those vehicles are in daily use, of course, but even paring down to the 117 million vehicles used by solo commuters we're only up to .22% = 20 b/d.

These are exceedingly simple calcs, about all I'm up for, but magnify by 10 or even 100 and you're still talking chickenfeed.

Looking forward to your article, Alan.

I do see it as a deal breaker for anyone commuting on highways that are subject to occasional hour plus long "parking lot" traffic jams such as I-66 outside DC (Va side).

Let us suppose that 5% of the cars were EVs such as Nissan Leaf. And 4% of those ran out of battery power and stalled due to a/c load (90+F after dusk), lights and perhaps radios during a 3 hour commute#. Remember that these cars may have been recharged last night and run around DC Metro area (with the a/c on high) for much of the day. And a certain percentage of owners will not be that conscientious about the charge level.

In a 10 mile long traffic jam, 30' per car, that is 3,520 cars sitting in the heat. If one out of 500 stalled and blocked a lane that is 7 new roadblocks, with forced lane changes.

I suspect that would be considered intolerable. And EVs will simply be banned from some congested highways.

In other words, current technology EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, appear to be unsuitable for I-66 commutes to DC from, say Vienna, VA. Expanding that to most severely congested highways may, or may not, be justifiable.##

OTOH, Park & Ride at a Metro stop with an EV (perhaps with some recharging there for an extra fee) should work well. Even if a local road becomes a mess, alternative routes exist for streets and hour plus delays are almost unheard of for city streets outside Manhattan.


# The observed speed was much lower than 15 mph. Miles of apparently motionless cars as we zipped by at 50 mph. Unfortunately, when the Metro slowed for a station, I did not get a good view of traffic speed.

## The number of such occasionally terrible commutes affects a good % of US commutes, SWAG between 10% and 30%. Any other SWAGs ?

Dedicate the left lane of I-66 to electric vehicles, install an overhead, and put pantographs on the EVs. On high-flow roads, there is no real reason that EVs should depend on their own stored power during periods of congestion and slow speeds. If power is only drawn at slow speed, it may also simplify the design of the catenaries and pickups.

The voltages involved would be, pun alert, a killer. Ermm, how about extension cords on a sliding track...handy recharge stations on the shoulder every few miles...bike couriers lugging around car batteries...

Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington? - Brookings Institution is an interesting read.

Billions of Hours and Dollars Lost In Traffic Congestion cites a study that estimated 2.8 billion gallons of fuel = 182,648 kb/d lost in 2007.

Show me the dead bumper car drivers.

The impression one gets is that the DC metro area has attempted to stay green by:

  • refusing to build highway capacity so people will be forced onto the Metro (which appears not to be working well), and
  • configuring highways to encourage carpooling (including the bizarrely expensive and unworkable separate HOV lanes on I-95 south)
    • Or maybe it is just that it is the seat of the Federal Government and simply can't come up with solutions.

    Show me the dead bumper car drivers.

    Just comments from people on the Internets, but: What is the voltage in the ceiling of a carnival bumper car ride? If you touched it, could you be electrocuted? | Answerbag

    They have both 50VDC and 90VDC versions.

    If you touch the terminals of 50VDC, you'll feel a strong tingle. If you touch 90VDC, you'll feel a very strong tingle. Both *could* kill you, depending on the circumstances. Say for example you have sweaty hands (salt water conducts well) and you grab two large pipes (lots of conducting surface area) that have 50VDC between then. Since your heart is roughly in the path of your two hands, it could stop your heart. Not too likely with 50VDC, quite possible with 90VDC.

    Not that this couldn't be engineered up some but we're talking whole orders of magnitude of complexity from simply building EVs, which is giving the automakers big enough ulcers in the first place. I suggested the idea of personal vehicles operating on the trolleybus principle here years ago, and Alan pointed out the huge dangers in handling such high voltage items.

    Looking for pics of actual dead bumper car drivers I came up short, but did find this: Dick Cheney Riding a Bumper Car in Dallas in 1976 It's extra creepy.

    Thanks for the link to the picture.

    EVs powered from the roadway would be unworkable generally, and I think that the leading edge deployment of EVs will be for people with short commutes or for people using them as second cars.

    There are a few more vehicles than drivers in the US - about 245 million. There are about 154 million people employed, so about 50% of vehicles are probably used for commuting, taking into account the number of people who walk or take public transit.

    A lot of EVs would be candidates for use as "station cars" that are driven from home to a rail or bus station parking lot. These routes don't usually involve highly congested roadways.

    Car commutes typically involve a local road segment, a longer segment over metro ring and radial freeways, and another local road segment. The metro freeway segments have a pretty high density of vehicles per hour during peak times, and it may be justified to consider ways of powering the vehicles from the roadway instead of storage.

    Not that the bumper car system is the answer (although from Alan's description, they were moving a only a little above bumper car speeds on I-66).

    Here's some precise numbers: Chpt 8 of Transportation Energy Data Book includes 2000 census data on mode of commute, private vehicle was 111,554,000/87.5%
    of the total; 97,247,000/76.3% of the total drove alone, 14,307,000/11.2% carpooled. This should be updated with new National Household Transportation Survey.

    This would be the source of the 10 years good/20 years best formulation for an energy transformation in the Hirsch report everyone is always throwing around, given the typical yearly sales of vehicles in the US of ca. 15 million.

    A changeover of vehicles will take longer than 20 years. The vehicle lifetimes have been going up and the scrappage rates have been going down. Current vehicles will have 20 year lifetimes.

    Plus, you have to allow for the lifetimes of the manufacturing and supply systems and the amount of time needed to depreciated the capital invested in building ICE vehicles.

    30 years would be a better estimate for changing over to alternate vehicle propulsion with a logistic curve shape and a midpoint about 15 years out. Even that would take some dramatic event to galvanize the changeover.

    Keep dreaming!

    It's biofuels or nothing and everybody here knows it.

    In the meantime let's enjoy the oil sands and coal to liquid.

    "It's biofuels or nothing..."
    "In the meantime let's enjoy the oil sands and coal to liquid."

    Scorched Earth policy, eh?

    % of the fleet? TEDB says for 2008 247,322,000 vehicles; 260k is .11%, .11% * 9mb/d would be 9.9 b/d. Not all of those vehicles are in daily use, of course, but even paring down to the 117 million vehicles used by solo commuters we're only up to .22% = 20 b/d

    I think you lost a factor of a thousand. .11% of 9million is 9.9 thousand. Still the numbers won't be significant for several years. Because the journey is going to be long, don't make that an excuse not to start on it.

    So right you are. This is why I try to drum up interest in this subject among the knowledgeable, 9.8% is just averaging out the numbers given for VMT too - you'd want to apply a harmonic mean or the like to get a real sense of what the savings would be, but I'm not the guy to run these numbers.

    Next generation Tesla's, built in India, will have wings.

    BAU is often described as the 'continuation of the growth model'.

    I think it is better described as the idea that individual motorized transport has a long term future, that a substitute can be found for the easily transportatable, concentration of energy found in fossil fuel.

    This attitude is, I believe, the outcome of years of exposure to 'messaging' that sexual fitness and satisfaction is enhanced by ownership of a motorized vehicle. My conclusion is supported by the evidence that the inability to conceive (pun intended) of alternative means of physical communication (transportation) is most strongly seen in the past-their-prime-to-withered-old-farts at the forefront of the electrical/bio-fuel vehicle movement.

    The old guys are still cruising main street in their dream machines.

    Encouragingly, younger people, mentally and physically, are making use of modern means of communication, such as the internet and neighbourhood coffee shops to find partners.

    The young are adapting.

    Hi TFO,

    Funny you should mention this. I was reading an article in the Ottawa Citizen earlier today regarding Generation Y and their reported preference for smaller, more urban accommodations (see: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Continental+living/3314351/story.html). It sounded great from an energy and ecological perspective until I read further down and came across this:

    “I think Generation Y realizes that they can get a job, have a career and have the freedom of a home base without a yard. They’re building equity sooner than their parents, and that gives them freedom to travel.”

    For the Turk’s and their friends, that’s a huge part of micro-living’s appeal. “We travel as much as we can, to two or three countries a year,” says Majed.

    One step forward....


    When my father landed in Halifax in 1928, he came by ship. From Halifax to Edmonton, he travelled by rail. Before emigrating from Germany, he had spent some time travelling in Europe. His travel mostly involved walking, which took him through Austria and down the Adriatic coast. He crossed the sea by boat and then walked and took trains northward through Italy to Switzerland and eventually back to Germany. He did this with next to no money, but with the spirit and energy of youth, including a willingness to pilfer a little fruit here and there.

    When I first travelled to Europe at the end of the sixties, I travelled across Canada by train to Montreal and then boarded a ship for Liverpool. I hitchhiked a lot in Europe, but also walked a great deal in Spain, Ireland, Germany, and Corsica. All in all, during my time as a young man, I travelled for about three years cumulative. Boats, bikes and boots were the means of my most rewarding travel.

    So I can relate to the wanderlust of today's youth, including my own contribution to generation Y. It is true that they are more dependent on air travel than either my father or I, but then air travel has become much more energy efficient. If my grandchildren, should I be so blessed, are lucky, then they will have windpowered sailing ships, electrified rail and blimps to make the big jumps in geography.

    As an aside, and as advice to those panicking about population growth, it should be noted that my family is among the earlier trendsetters in a pattern now apparent around the world: my father was 48 when I was born (my mother 31) and I was almost 37 when the first of my two children was born (my wife 30); my parents had six children and seven grandchildren, only three of which were born before their mothers turned 30. Two of these three have decided to remain childless.

    Indeed, many of Generation Y will not have children, and those that do will have them in their 30's, at a point when their footloose and fancy free days are done.

    One other informative activity when you're walking along a road/waiting at the side of a road is to look into the cars going past (or in this case not going past) and tally up how many you see with 1 occupant, how many with 2 occupants, 3 occupants, etc. At least in the UK I reliably get over 90 percent single occupancy. Electrification in and of itself is not the worst idea in the world (although if you've got to drive I think petrol still wins hands down in terms of efficiency for most feasible levels of "renewables" roll-out for the next couple of decades), it's the idea that it will be used to continue and extend the number of individual people in mid-range to large cars who drive any and everywhere. It sure looks like "the western lifestyle is non-negotiable".

    I bought an electric bike with a lithium ion battery that should have lasted 3 years. It only lasted 2 years as this type of battery has a shelf life of only 3years and must have been sitting around for awhile. New battery will cost $200-300. I decided to go back to using my legs.

    I'm sure that Lithiums, like LEDs are still an evolving art. Sorry yours crapped out on you..

    I still hear the Rav4 owners being pretty satisfied with the Nimh lifespan in their cars. I'm very curious to hear more about this. There's the Chevron Patent on 'Large Nimh's' that EV advocates say is what has kept this option out of the market since the early 2000s.

    I like the Tool Nimhs I use, but know that they must be treated right in order to last.


    "I bought an electric bike with a lithium ion battery that should have lasted 3 years. It only lasted 2 years as this type of battery has a shelf life of only 3years ...."

    Lithium Polymer (LiPO)? The only Lithium based batteries I would recommend are the LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate). LiFePO4 is a much better chemistry that doesn't eat itself to death, so it's "shelf life" should be tremendously better. The cycle life of the LiFE batteries is stated as 3,000+ but that's slightly misleading to the low side. They consider the battery's end of life to be when it can no longer hold 80% of it's original capacity, but the LiFE batteries charge holding ability flattens out around there and keeps on going...so if you design your range around the 75-80% point, these batteries have the potential to last about damned forever.

    How about an EV with a gasoline engine as a range extender (a.k.a Chevy Volt?)

    A second engine adds to the weight (energy consumption) and cost. Still, a Chevy Volt could have "made it home" through such a horrible traffic jam where a Nissan Leaf would not.


    Alan...the Chevy Volt's gasoline engine is *WAY* over sized for the task it should be doing (which is backup/range extension). You can pull the battery pack out of the Volt and have a completely functional car it's so damned over-sized. The range extender should be AT MOST a 2 cylinder engine of approximately 20 HP.

    Here are the specs for AC Propulsion's range extending trailer called the Long Ranger: http://www.madkatz.com/acpropulsion/longRanger.html

    An underreported weakness of EVs is that their stated range does not include heating, air conditioning, lighting or even windshield wipers.

    Its pretty tough to accomodate people who are ignorant of physics, and greedy about their creature comforts. I can recall warning signs on steep Arizona upgrades, "don't risk overheating your vehicle, turn off your AC". I wonder what fraction of drivers complied? Of course with a reasonably intelligent driver an EV or hybrid will be better if forced to wait or drive really slowly than an ICE powered vehicle. At say 5mph the electric probably operates pretty efficiently, whereas the ICE powered car is probably near peak inefficiency.

    In cold climes, I keep saying that EV's should have pedals built in, so you can sit there in that gridlock, getting a little exercise, keeping warm, and tossing at least a few watt/hrs into the pack as you do so. Of course, I want an EV light enough so that the pedals can propel the vehicle as well.

    Maybe for the Southern Vehicles, you could just shift that pedal mechanism over to run a couple of fans in the cabin.

    Ultimately, I wonder when we're going to hit 'peak traffic jam' anyway. Doesn't look soon from today's perspective, but things can change awfully quick.

    “I can pedal while sitting at a stoplight, or I can pedal at 70 miles an hour,” Perdue explained, justifying the “tri” in the name of his road-ready creation.


    The problem is not that we are willing to subsidize electric propelled vehicles; the problem is that we are willing to subsidize electric propelled personal vehicles. For that matter, we are subsidizing gasoline propelled personal vehicles because the gas tax does not come close to funding all the infrastructure associated therewith. Why anyone in the D.C. area would choose a personal vehicle when rail is available is beyond me. I used to live in that area but chose to live very close to work and did not require a freeway to get there.

    Best hopes for even more congested streets and highways to force people to seek alternatives. Just keep cutting the available lanes until the light goes on.

    Electric vehicles are proposed as a solution to a problem that should and cannot be solved; that is, the perpetuation of the destruction personal urban vehicle. Best hopes that U.S. cities be Copenhagenized.

    I largely concur.

    Driving an EV a few miles to a DC Metro station is likely a viable option.

    Perhaps in one of these (cheaper and more efficient than a Leaf).


    Best Hopes :-)


    How many of those same cars ran out of gas while idling? If you flip your assumption on its head, the EV doesn't consume fuel/electricity while idling, unlike all of those gas powered vehicles. So, while everyone stuck in traffic is idling away, consuming fuel to sit in one place, the EV is only using its power to actually move the vehicle, not just to idle. This comes with the side benefit of not spewing emissions at the person sitting behind you in traffic... the motorcycle riders might especially appreciate that.

    If you saw the stories about the hurricane evacuations, you might remember that lots of gas powered vehicles ran out of fuel in the heavy traffic and were stranded on the side of the road. Running out of fuel is not an EV only problem. Lots of people in the US run out of gas every day, due to failure of adequate planning. An EV is no different in this regard.

    An EV starts out each morning with full "tank" of electricity... do you have a briming full tank of gas in your car right now? How many mornings have you started out with a quarter tank, or even less? It takes a different perspective to see how EVs will integrate into everyday life. Change your perspective and you might change your mind.

    The EV's tank is substantially, several multiples, less than a ICE car, and an ICE can pull off at almost any exit and refuel in a few minutes.

    EVs "burn" quite a bit of fuel running the a/c and lesser amounts for lights and radio while idling in the summer.

    So far, I do not see EVs as acceptable for the Vienna, VA - DC commute on I-66.

    But I am asking questions.


    Ugh. I've been on that stretch of 66 in exactly those conditions, way too often.

    So here's your choices.

    1) Turn off the A/C and open the windows. No, really. My A/C broke about 4 years ago and I just said to hell with it. Yes, you get sweaty in DC at 90 degrees. As a co-worker once said to me, "But how do you stay fresh on the way to work?" My answer: "You're not supposed to stay fresh in Washington in August!" Most cars in the 60s didn't have A/C. Heck, most offices didn't. I don't recall that the nation suffered. (Well, maybe the Gulf Coast did, based on my experience driving I-10 without A/C)

    2) Stuck in traffic with a depleting EV is the same as being stuck in traffic with the gas gauge on empty. It doesn't matter if there's a gas station at every intersection if you can't make it to the next one. You do what has to be done. Kill the engine every time you stop, shut off everything (including A/C) that takes power to run. Coast whenever you get a downhill stretch. Cross your fingers.

    How about just lugging around a spare battery in the trunk or backseat - the EV equivalent of the ICE jerry can, there for emergencies? I'm envisioning something that would step in and cover what the typical SLI battery does - everything excepting motive power, in other words. But that would require extra wiring. Don't think you can get around the voltage mismatch between car batteries and the LEAF's 110V plug - can you?

    This doesn't seem to be a big issue in EV discussions to date, AFAIK.

    Air Conditioner Donations Help Those In Need

    During excessive heat emergencies, most of us crank up the air conditioner and stay indoors. But not everyone is fortunate enough to have cooling units or able to pay for the electricity to run them

    Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/business/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=2...

    Brussels plans to test drivers on environmental friendliness

    Learner drivers could fail their driving test if they pose a threat to the planet, under proposals being draw up by the European Commission. Braking suddenly, revving the engine or wasting fuel by being too heavy on the accelerator pedal could prove costly. This is because Brussels wants to include “eco-driving” – cutting carbon emissions at the wheel – in the practical driving test.

    We’re Gonna Be Sorry

    Published: July 24, 2010

    "We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing. "


    Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate

    I like that because it returns the argument back to Science, where the discussion should be rooted, and from which the politics should be based.

    Amen. But alas, there can be no popular movement under the banner of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Politics is rooted in cloaking the truth rather than illuminating it.


    How may I search TOD for a list of dedicated solar PV articles?

    Has this ground been plowed extensively, recently (within the past year)?

    Is PV in the rotation for a 'Fake Fire Brigade' article?

    Would anyone be willing to post some of their favorite links to sites which do a good job at describing the theories, economics, and state-of-the art for PV?

    Recommendations for good books dealing with all things PV would be welcome as well!

    Homepower is a good place to start. Some articles require membership, many don't.

    PVResources has some good stuff. More industry oriented.

    You can download this brochure there: "PVPP 2010 Brochure"

    This brochure addresses all these aspects. It is intended as a guide to and an overview of the industry, but is also aimed at responsible policy makers, and seeks to clarify the economic importance of large PV plants in assisting with the establishment of the appropriate framework conditions.

    Large PDF warning!

    They have a pretty good synopsis of PV history and development:

    "Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Application" is an indepth article, pretty good if you can find it. Look here:
    Cookie Warning!


    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply with these links and your synopsis.

    I will add these to my bookmarks and get a good read on.

    I checked the TOD Tech Talk library; so far HO has written fine pieces about oil, oil shale, oil sand, and coal extraction, which is his forte.

    Wikipedia seems to have an extensive PV article, with numerous links.


    In my endeavors I maintain cognizance of the U.S. military situation.

    Believe me, the U.S. military-industrial complex is predicated on 'growth'.

    In one of the recent Defense News issues a story was run stating that the U.S. military contractor community is bracing for several years (or longer) of 'only' 2% real growth in U.S. defense budgets, after a run of several years of ~ 7% real budgetary growth.

    Increasing in troop strength, coupled with increases in pay and benefits, coupled with the need to fund boots, beans, bullets, etc in two substantial wars (and numerous lesser actions), combined with the perceived need to buy new 'cold-war' types of weapons, new 'counter-insurgency/nation-building' war types of weapons, along with a push to create offensive and defensive cyber-war and space-warfare systems, is stressing the Pentagon's best thinkers.

    Northrop-Grumman is exiting the ship-building business:


    NG doesn't want to be in a business with only single-digit returns (guess they aren't interested in the grocery store business either).

    The contractor community is very concerned about flat budgets...if they do not show revenue and profit growth to their shareholders their share prices will be in trouble.

    Other articles I have read indicate that there may not be a next-generation bomber...but then you turn the page and see articles about flying (and off/on-road capable) HUMMV replacements...real goofy, risky, expensive, useless pie-in-the-sky stuff.

    At what point are we in the U.S. going to have a rational national discussion about prioritizing our goals with our very large, but finite, and not likely to grow, military budget?

    What if the real-money military budget has to shrink?

    It would be essential to start talking about military budget realities at the same time we discuss changes to Social Security (such as raising the retirement age to 72 and capping COLAs to 1/2 percent per year...and then talking about how it may be possible to phase out Social Security over a period of several decades.

    The Health care situation has to be re-visited as well...the recent health care bill will not cut the mustard.

    I guess my point is that the U.S. needs to take a serious look at substantially cutting its budget and balancing its books, and paying down the debt.

    Then the challenge will be to determine what, if any, policies and investments could be funded to guide us through a future with harder-to-find, lower EROI, and slower-flowing oil extraction.

    At what point are we in the U.S. going to have a rational national discussion about prioritizing our goals with our very large, but finite, and not likely to grow, military budget?

    You will know that point has arrived when the US has two (or, hell, maybe more) political parties who no longer feel the need to treat the opposition as unpatriotic traitors if they open a "rational national discussion about prioritizing our [military] goals".

    I don't believe the necessary condition for this discussion has existed at any time after the escalation began in Vietnam.

    Last week the NYT had an article about the increasing numbers of congressmen who want to cut the Afghanistan war part of the US military budget. That IS good news!

    At what point are we in the U.S. going to have a rational national discussion about prioritizing our goals with our very large, but finite, and not likely to grow, military budget?

    Its hard to imagine that happening as long as scaremongering is a successful political target.

    It would be essential to start talking about military budget realities at the same time we discuss changes to Social Security (such as raising the retirement age to 72 and capping COLAs to 1/2 percent per year...and then talking about how it may be possible to phase out Social Security over a period of several decades.

    SS is actually in fairly decent shape (as long as economic growth can continue). Its also been shown that life expectancy is heavily correlated with income, so raising the retirement age is far from class neutral.

    The Health care situation has to be re-visited as well...the recent health care bill will not cut the mustard.

    The recent legislation slightly reduces the long term projected cost. But you are right, major down bending of the cost curve is absolutely essential. Unfortunately essential, and politically possible are nonoverlapping sets. Cost cutting/control is vulnerable to political scaremongering of one kind or another. Opportunistic political forces could gain politically by attacking even reasonable things like research to figure out cost effectiveness of treatments, as "death panels intent on killing grandma". Then you have major economic interests, pharma, doctors, insurance industry etc, whose economic bread and butter is healthcare spending. And all of of these rich interest groups have well funded lobbyists, and well our political system has been largely co-opted by big money special interests, as has the mass media.

    The two big items that are essential for long term budget constraints are medical-costs, and military spending, all the rest is peanuts. But the biggies are sacred cows, so we are in deep deep do-do.

    Much sound and noise.

    What about cutting immigration and returning to a gold standard?

    Until you address population and address money, you address nothing.

    Well, Obama seems to be making more progress on the first of your goals than he is on energy, climate, healthcare, or any of his other priorities.

    Battery powered electric cars for everyday use is a feel good , but completely unworkable situation. Electric cars for specific use, such as in an urban areas where traffic is slow, distances are small, and pollution is a problem they may be of benefit. Even then, the batteries will become a major disposal problem
    Almost all of the renewable energy schemes are worthless and counter productive. Almost all of them use more BTUs of energy than they produce. Ethanol, Solar and wind power would not be around if it wasn't for government subsides keeping them going. Hydro electric, nuclear and hydrocarbons are in reality the only power sources that can meet the worlds demand for energy. No matter what we do in the next 20 years that is not going to change. The only viable thing we in the USA can do is to cut down by conservation or have a depression so deep people cannot afford energy. Right now our leaders are working on the latter. Nothing the USA does will matter on the big scale. China has displaced the USA as the largest energy user in the world and they have only just begun! The remainder of the world will keep using more and more energy making hydrocarbons the major energy source for decades to come. Before I start getting straw-man arguments, saying I want to destroy the world, no I don't I am just stating facts. I hike, run, camp and row and in general enjoy the outdoor planet more and in natural ways far in excess of 90% of Americans.

    "Almost all of the renewable energy schemes are worthless and counter productive."

    Back some of this up. I think you're shooting blanks.

    "Almost all of them use more BTUs of energy than they produce."

    This has been discussed in excruciating detail here.. you'll need to find some specific countering info to back that up. Wind and Solar are constantly shown here to have reported EROEI netting extra energy beyond their embedded energy. Up as high as 20:1 for wind, 10 or 11:1 Solar..


    "Hydro electric, nuclear and hydrocarbons are in reality the only power sources that can meet the worlds demand for energy."

    Until they can't, which is soon, and what this site is all about.

    For those who recieve UCTV, good lecture tonight: Michael Specter: "Denialism-Mistrust of Science"

    He's talking about population, climate change, etc. (and why folks don't believe this stuff).

    Dishnetwork ch. 9412

    I had come across this find online:


    Another unexpected discovery was the large quantity of hydrogen gas, with the mud flowing out of the hole described as "boiling" with hydrogen.[10]

    Very interesting - apparently hydrogen gas exists way, way under the earth! Interesting thought for clean transport energy perhaps?

    I had always been under the impression there was _no_ naturally occurring hydrogen anywhere making it nothing but the equivalent of a "storage" option for renewable energy and thus not much to be excited about. Some oil wells go down to 30,000 feet or so, so if one can go that deep for oil, why not clean burning hydrogen?

    Could it really be the solution was under us, if way under us and just sitting there buried in an obscure piece of scientific literature?

    Comments are welcome...

    color me a skeptic. hydrogen combines explosively with oxygen.

    trying to find the word for hydrogen in russian, i came up with BoAopoA which translated literally mean something like "give birth to water" maybe the well was giving birth to water ? it was claimed that water was unexpectedly found at that depth.

    they stopped drilling for a year to celebrate ? maybe it was vodka that was flowing !

    i know wiki is the source for some real data, but this one ?????????

    hydrogen combines explosively with oxygen.

    True. Problem is the hydrogen and air mix that it's very explosive. Mix of hydrogen with pure oxygen is even more explosive. But pure hydrogen put on fire and supplied with external air/oxygen burns just fine.

    So I see this whole hydrogen thing as a problem of separation. How to get pure hydrogen? How to avoid mixing it with oxygen?

    Then, the ultimate question: Is hydrogen of that Kola borehole pure enough and can be harvested without any accidental mixing it with air?

    I'm a lil bit skeptical about this, too.. :P

    I think given the miracles of gas and oil drilling that are done each day there must be a way to use this hydrogen. Look how big a company liked Schlumberger is and how many billions they make off of giving _very_ sophisticated drilling know-how to companies like Aramco. The problem of getting the hydrogen separated out must be solvable. Solvable, that is with enough capital and time.

    And then look what we get, clean, abundant transportation fuel. A prize bigger than any in history really.

    I think there are two possibilities, and I'd like to figure out which it is!

    1. The info on Wikipedia is wrong, and needs formal correction. ie. there is no hydrogen gas in but trace amounts found at this well site.

    2. The info is right and how to demand this potential energy source be studied for development and replacement of oil be explored.

    More broadly, the presence of hydrogen deep in the earth does make sense to me. If extreme heat and time down under the earth can turn dead organic matter into oil, through heat and time and pressure, why couldn't even more extreme conditions "break down" water into more elemental forms? I really can't see why not...

    Geothermal steam, coming off hot magma, has no hydrogen, or only trace amounts.

    Even if there is hydrogen *WAY* down there (unlikely), it cannot replace oil. Energy to drill each well, the amount of H2 resource, how many wells can we drill for what yield/well ?

    The answer is not in tens of millions of barrels of oil/day equivalent.

    A pipe dream. Forget about it as a "solution" to post-Peak Oil.


    To be fair, Elwood, 'Hydro'+'Gen' also means 'The Genesis of Hydro', gives birth to water.

    Great link!

    It started me on an internet jump-fest, where I ended up reading about the deepest man-accessible mine in the World:


    Folks in South Africa mine gold from a rock face some 12,795 feet deep!

    The rock face is ~ 140 F.


    Interview with Don Runkle of Ecomotors:


    Runkle joined the company last year and is convinced that in the long run no other energy source can compete with oil, and that the internal combustion engine will be here for a long time, albeit with an entirely new architecture, the OPOC. That’s the word that Runkle kept using regarding the OPOC engine’s design, architecture. That and “disruptive”. The OPOC, according to Runkle, is cheaper, better, simpler, stronger, lighter and cleaner than any other power generating technology now or in the foreseeable future. Cheaper than hybrids and electric vehicles and with a smaller carbon footprint too.



    I want one,,,,just to play with.

    Very interesting technology, it ought to be perfect for plug-in hybrids.