Drumbeat: August 24, 2010

Norway's gas future uncertain

Norway, the world’s second-biggest gas exporter, will need to make significant discoveries to maintain output at today’s pace after 2020, the head of the nation’s gas pipeline and processing company said.

“The next 10 years look good and after that things look more uncertain,” Gassco chief Brian Bjordal said.

“It’s very simple mathematics - you take 100 billion cubic meters out per year and you try to find a discovery that is equivalent to that. If these are smaller fields, you can’t retain your ability long term.”

Norway is turning to gas to make up for declining oil production from its aging North Sea fields.

Oil output peaked in 2000 and is forecast to drop 6% this year, cutting into the government’s budget, which relies on the petroleum for 22% of its revenue.

Norway, the biggest foreign gas supplier to the UK, has not made a significant gas discovery since the Ormen Lange field in 1997.

Norway oil subsidies hampering renewables: green group

Norway (Reuters) - Norway's renewable energy sector is hampered by the limited subsidies it receives while the oil industry gets five times as much, a leading environmentalist group said on Tuesday.

Marius Holm, deputy director of the Bellona Foundation, said in an interview that petroleum firms received some 9 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.4 billion) in subsidies in 2009, compared with 1.8 billion that went to the renewable sector.

"I am quite convinced this is hampering renewables from developing," Holm told Reuters. "The capacity of the Norwegian economy, the whole industry, is busy drilling for oil."

Enbridge to expand Bakken pipeline

Enbridge Inc., Canada’s No. 2 pipeline company, said on Tuesday it will further expand its Bakken pipeline program, which will raise capacity by 145,000 barrels per day, to handle growing production from the oil field.

The Bakken play is a massive oilfield lying under parts of North Dakota, Montana and southern Saskatchewan.

Transocean official recalls 'confusion' about test

HOUSTON -- An official says a high-ranking employee indicated a pressure test problem had been resolved hours before BP's Gulf of Mexico well blew out.

Scientists Find Oil-Eating Bacteria Plentiful in Deep Gulf Waters

Oil-eating bacteria exist in significant quantities even in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and may be breaking down submerged oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil leak faster than previously believed, scientists are reporting today.

Marines will still be 'hammering' Afghanistan next year

As U.S. combat troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway addressed Afghanistan’s deadline for its similar pullout next summer during a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday.

Conway predicted that a significant number of U.S. Marines and combat forces will still be in Afghanistan “hammering” militants well past the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawal of American forces.

EnergizeUS Coalition Launched

“We must deliver steady, high paying jobs to America by developing new energy technologies to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, “ said David Cozad, Democratic Congressional Candidate for TX-06. “Today, 8 other Democratic candidates committed to join me in Congress and to go to State Legislatures all over the country to jump start America's economy with thousands of new, high paying jobs by making wise energy choices right now.”

The EnergizeUS Coalition will work for Americans to deliver jobs in a new energy economy, move toward independence from foreign oil AND protect our great natural resources like the Gulf of Mexico from irresponsible and risky decisions by foreign companies like BP, who ignore safety procedures and risk the lives and jobs of all Americans.

FACTBOX - China's fledging shale gas exploration

(Reuters) - China last week launched its first national shale gas research centre to support the country's development of the fuel.

Encouraged by the boom in shale natural gas drilling in the United States and driven by recurring domestic gas shortages, China has fast-tracked plans to explore the unconventional fuel in its homeland.

Oil Falls a Fifth Day on Concern Over U.S. Supply Gains, Slowing Recovery

Oil declined for a fifth day on speculation U.S. crude and fuel inventories increased last week as economic growth slows.

Oil fell to a seven-week low as the dollar strengthened against the euro, undermining investors’ need to hedge against inflation using dollar-priced assets. U.S. crude supplies probably rose last week while distillate fuel stockpiles may hit the highest level in 27 years, a Bloomberg News survey shows.

Gas prices continue unusual pre-Labor Day fall

In robust economic times, pump prices don't typically begin to fall until after Labor Day. This year, demand has remained weak, which is one reason the prices are dropping earlier than usual, he said.

PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn thinks pump prices will fall by 10 to 25 cents a gallon in the next couple of months, barring a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that shuts down production. Other analysts predict prices will be 10 to 15 cents lower.

Peter Tertzakian: As U.S. economy sputters, China's importance to oil producers grows

In fact, crude oil stocks are only a bit above last year at this time, a couple of million barrels, but bear in mind that this is not positive indication if levels today are being compared against a period when the economy was mired in the Great Recession. Refined product inventories are also filling to the brim. In the big tanks there are now 223 million barrels of gasoline, 10 million barrels in excess of last year’s levels, which is a record for mid-August. Vacationing drivers have pumped a bit more gasoline this summer, but not enough to keep up with refineries that continue to keep supplies high.

Saudi Aramco says crude oil may end year higher

Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil and gas producer, said crude prices may end the year as high as $82 a barrel because of demand from China and India.

Heating Oil and Diesel Rising to 27-Year High in Survey

U.S. heating oil and diesel inventories probably climbed to a 27-year high as the slowing economic recovery curbed demand, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Supplies of the distillate fuels rose 1 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, in the seven days ended Aug. 20 from 174.2 million a week earlier, according to the median of 13 analyst estimates before an Energy Department report tomorrow. The last time supplies were so high was January 1983, two months after the U.S. exited a recession.

OPEC faces pricing dilemma

LONDON - OPEC is happy with oil prices at the current level of US$70-US$80 per barrel but this will hamper the global economic recovery and energy demand, consultancy CGES warned yesterday.

Gasoil Exports to Reach Record This Month as Japan Refinery Output Rises

Gasoil exports from Japanese refiners may rise to a record this month after plants return from maintenance and boost processing amid increased demand for fuel as temperatures soar.

UK petroleum analyst Michael Smith - interview (1 of 2)

POR: They announced further discoveries in Bohai Bay several years ago, but it doesn’t seem that China’s production reality is going to match the hype.

Smith: That’s right, some large discoveries were announced but large reserves don‘t necessarily mean large production. I worked on the Bohai Bay back in the 1980s and admit I did not fully appreciate the volume of reserves in the area. The reservoirs are difficult and the oil is often heavy so that significant investment is required in shallow water platforms and wells. China is doing that but this takes time. Bohai Bay will eventually produce a lot of oil, but, of course, plateau and peak are all about rates not volumes.

Cracks in the Iranian Monolith

The Iranian regime loves to boast of its military strength, international clout and hold on domestic power. Much of this is accepted by outside experts, but in fact the regime is in trouble. Iran's leaders have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, are unable to manage the country's many problems, face a growing opposition, and are openly fighting with one another.

Total oil-sands project comes under fire

A battle is brewing over a proposed oil-sands project by a French-based company that has drawn more than two dozen opponents from Canada, the United States and France at today's deadline for submissions to a joint federal-provincial environmental review panel.

While a wide range of environmental and faith-based groups, including an Anglican bishop from Atlantic Canada, are urging the panel to reject the Joslyn North Mine project in Alberta, officials from Total E&P Canada Ltd. say they are committed to managing their project's ecological footprint and working with conservation groups to find the best options available.

Outage forces Enbridge to ration oil pipeline space in U.S. system

The outage of an Enbridge Inc. pipeline following a rupture and oil spill four weeks ago has forced the company to limit individual shipper volumes on two other major lines in its U.S. system, a spokeswoman said yesterday. The company, which ships the bulk of Canada's oil exports to the United States, is rationing space on Line 5, a 490,000-barrel-a-day pipeline to Sarnia, Ont., from Superior, Wis. It is also rationing on Southern Access, a 400,000-barrel-a-day line to Flanagan, Ill., from Superior.

Plan for LNG tankers on DeRenne worries neighbors

The natural gas that heats local homes and powers electric plants sails into Chatham County's Elba Island as a liquid in huge, domed ships. It leaves the area as a vapor in underground pipelines.

Except for the looming presence of five enormous blue storage tanks on the river, the distribution process is largely invisible to most area residents.

But that may not be the case for long.

Cairn Drops in London After First Greenland Well Fails to Find Crude Oil

Cairn Energy Plc fell in London trading after its first well off Greenland found natural gas rather than crude oil.

An exploration well encountered gas in thin sands in the Baffin Bay basin, the company said in a statement in London today. The find is “indicative of an active hydrocarbon system” and the well hasn’t yet reached target depth, it said.

UK regulator says safety record of British oil and gas industry is not good enough

LONDON (AP) — Britain's health and safety executive said Tuesday the country's oil and gas industry must improve safety after a rise in the number of leaks from oil rigs operating in British waters.

The Health and Safety Executive said it had also recorded a major rise in the number of serious injuries on about 300 offshore oil and gas installations covered under an annual safety report.

Crews wrestle with pipe stuck in BP well

Engineering crews working on the BP oil well disaster Monday continued efforts to remove an obstacle to their undersea endgame: a 3,000-foot drill pipe that is stuck in the blowout preventer and extends far down the well.

Specifically, the pipe is jammed in a shear ram, a last-resort safety device that is supposed to seal an oil well and quell a gusher like the one that erupted below the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20 off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Four Months After Rig Explosion, BP Panel Still Probing Who Was in Command

More than four months after the Gulf of Mexico rig explosion that killed 11 men and triggered a record oil spill, a U.S. investigative panel is still trying to find out who held ultimate authority aboard the vessel.

Chaos described as BP hearings resume

The night of the massive Deepwater Horizon explosion, few in the crew knew who was in charge or understood the chain of command, and the vessel's captain hesitated before making critical safety decisions, according to testimony Monday before a federal panel investigating the cause of the disaster that killed 11 crew members.

Rig Survivor Blames BP's `Screwed-Up Plan' for Gulf Oil Blowout

BP Plc’s ‘screwed-up’ well design caused the Gulf of Mexico explosion that killed 11 workers and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a Transocean Ltd. rig supervisor who barely survived the disaster says.

Insurers pay high price for disasters

Aftershocks from the fatal explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are continuing to be felt a long way from the Gulf of Mexico.

China's massive traffic jam could last for weeks

BEIJING – A massive traffic jam in north China that stretches for dozens of miles and hit its 10-day mark on Tuesday stems from road construction in Beijing that won't be finished until the middle of next month, an official said.

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock spanning for 60 miles (100 kilometers) with cars moving little more than a half-mile (one kilometer) a day at one point has improved since this weekend, said Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city's Traffic Management Bureau general office.

Meet Obama's point man on electric cars

WASHINGTON — David Sandalow starts his five-mile commute each day by unplugging an orange extension cord connecting his Toyota Prius hybrid to an outlet in his brick carport.

His Prius, which was converted two years ago to allow him to recharge the battery from an electric outlet, gets more than 80 miles per gallon and lets him drive 30 miles on a single charge. He fills up his car with gasoline about once every month or two, an oddity in a transportation sector long dominated by the internal combustion engine.

Charging guides for electric cars to be issued

China will issue three standards in October to regulate charging facilities for electric cars, the Shanghai Securities News reported Monday, citing an unnamed source from the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Prius gets sound option to protect pedestrians

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device that is the automaker's answer to complaints that pedestrians can't hear the top-selling car approaching.

The 12,600 yen ($148) speaker system that goes under the hood of the third-generation Prius sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so that it isn't annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.

Q&A: Peak oil – what is it and should we worry?

Oil, a finite resource, is being used at a rate of some 86 million barrels per day.

This astounding figure is merely a point on an upward curve; the International Energy Agency predicts that global demand for oil will grow 1% each year until 2030 when it will have reached 105 million barrels per day, mostly a result of the needs of the transport sector. This growth will come not from developed countries – where demand is expected to actually fall – but from the booming economies of places like China, India and the Middle East. In fact, China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s biggest spender on oil and gas imports by 2025.

One day it’ll all run out. But before that will come the day when oil production plateaus and then declines.

America: The house that oil built

“No matter what we do we are going to feel the adverse effect of energy crisis on our living standards,” Dresser warned America back in 1976.


Because the American living standard was [is] built on cheap energy. Period. And, for decades now, we’ve done almost everything imaginable to avoid dealing with this reality.

But, like much needed surgery, the pain can only be put off for so long.

Sustainable Agriculture and Urban Gardens in Cuba

Organic agriculture continues to be supported and expanded at government and grassroots levels. Havana now grows well over half its fresh food organically and locally. Cuba hopes to be self sufficient in the production of most of its basic foods within the next decade.

All Cuban young people are introduced to agriculture and food production as part of their education, spending at least one summer during their high school years,farming in the countryside.

The energy emergency has arrived

Wednesday’s Sustainable Centre County page is all about energy, with columns on how to build a regional energy system around the sun, food and biodiesel crops. Bustling as it seems, I think the Marcellus methane-energy boom will fizzle out soon. Investing time and money to release colossal Earth farts is a luxury, and we’re not a rich society anymore.

Growth won’t restart because oil prices will keep rising. As we revisit the Dow milestones of the past few decades — heading back down — physical and biological imperatives will be far more pressing than the political and economic calculations underpinning the gas boom. Complex institutions will break apart, replaced by simpler regional cooperatives now rising from grass roots.

Church of Life After Shopping

This church comes complete with its own Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, which has traveled the world, singing anti-consumerist songs such as "Back Away (From Walmart)" and "Shopocalypse."

Sermons are delivered opposing a consumer culture that demands big dams built to supply electricity to factories that produce more consumer goods; they sing gospel to tree-sitters in Northern California who were protecting great old-growth trees from logging, and organize many more events that muster either support from believers or ridicule from critics.

They have even coined a word to describe America's consumption of fossil fuels. The fact that Americans make up only 5 percent of the world's total population but consume more than 25 percent of its energy, they call it "fuel-aholics."

Illinois: 5 States Seek to Close Possible Carp Route

Five states are asking a federal judge in Chicago to take emergency action to close two shipping locks and install barriers to prevent Asian carp from overrunning the Great Lakes via a “carp highway.”

In the Fields of Italy, a Conflict Over Corn

An agronomist, defying the government, has planted genetically modified corn. Environmentalists have also taken matters into their own hands.

Populist before it was capitalist

However, feeding popular prejudice required that the property rights of landowners in general must be sharply restricted compared with their position in England. Whereas in England landowners owned both the game on their land and the fish in the streams running through their land, in the United States, as R J Smith of the Center for Private Conservation has ably pointed out, rights of landowners were much more restrictive, so hunting and fishing by the populace at large were allowed without restrictions. The result was a classic "tragedy of the commons", wiping out buffalo herds and east coast salmon alike. Capitalism defines and protects property rights; populism allows unrestricted access, thereby destroying the amenity concerned.

PG&E pushes 'pumped hydro' for energy storage

Despite all the advances in battery technologies, pumped hydro storage--essentially pumping water uphill and releasing it through a generator later--remains one of the cheapest ways to store bulk electricity on the grid.

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday filed a request with state regulators to fund a feasibility study for adding a pumped hydro facility which could store as much energy as a power plant can supply.

Robert Bryce: Wind Power Won't Cool Down the Planet

The wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the claim that it will provide major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There's just one problem: It's not true. A slew of recent studies show that wind-generated electricity likely won't result in any reduction in carbon emissions—or that they'll be so small as to be almost meaningless.

Deregulation, the Forsaken Panacea for Climate Change

The European Union mandated liberalization (their term for deregulation) throughout the region four years ago. The fear of a behemoth like EDF of France coming into Italy and snatching a chunk of its customers made the Italian utility Enel roll out the largest grid modernization project in the world five years ago. It thereby transformed its one-trick energy delivery pipe into a multi-faceted platform for customer care. Countries like Germany and Spain have become global leaders in renewable energy. Competition has driven industry consolidation, with big fish such as EDF, Enel, E.ON, and Vattenfall snapping up smaller utilities and improving productivity through economies of scale. Choice now on tap, customers are finally able to dump dirty energy purveyors and switch to greener providers.

No wonder Europe is far ahead of the rest of the world in deploying almost every type of clean energy.

Putin roasted over global warming doubt

MOSCOW (AFP) – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin queried Monday whether man is to blame for climate change only to spark a heated response from a German scientist., during a visit to a remote Russian Arctic zone.

Australia's electorate sends climate-change message

Although Australia's national election has failed to produce a clear winner, the result is pushing climate change up the political agenda once more.

Both the incumbent Labor party and the Liberal–National opposition failed to secure an overall majority after this weekend's vote. That means that the Australian Greens, who now have a record 11% of the vote and advocate aggressive action on climate change, could become key players. Along with a handful of conservative rural independents, the Greens are being wooed by both major parties to help them form a government.

Stoking a food crisis

GLOBAL wheat markets reeling from Russian droughts, thousands of cattle killed by heat in Kansas, the United States, and countless crop acres wiped out by floods in Pakistan are glimpses of what can be expected as the world struggles to battle climate change. But as concerns mount over extreme weather hitting global food systems this year, governments are no closer to forging a pact to fight climate change.

When temperatures rise as a result of smokestack and tailpipe emissions, droughts, heat waves, and floods become more frequent and more intense. As the number of extreme weather events mount, they will likely create havoc in agricultural markets and could lead to food riots in poor countries like those in 2007 and 2008 when prices hit records on market speculation.

Geoengineering won't curb sea-level rise

Unless they involve extreme measures, geoengineering approaches to offset the effects of human-driven climate changes won't do much to combat rising sea levels, an international team of scientists reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That is because sea levels respond slowly to changes in Earth's temperature, says John Moore, a palaeoclimatologist at Beijing Normal University and lead author of the study.

"We've got this 150-year legacy of fossil-fuel [burning], land-use changes, et cetera," he says. "You can't just slam on the brakes instantaneously."

Earth’s Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds

Drought linked to climate change has reversed a decades-long trend of increased global plant growth, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

“Earth has done an ecological about-face,” a NASA statement said. “Global plant productivity that once flourished under warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline, struck by the stress of drought.”

TVA Board budgets $248 million for preliminary work to restart building Bellefonte 1

$4.3 to $4.7 billion to complete.


Construction from 1974 till 1988 reached 88% for Bellefonte 1 and 58% for Bellefonte 2.

Scavenging for spares and rework drop these %'s to 55% and 35% today. Bellefonte is Babcock & Wilcox, and B&W was the poorest of the 4 main US reactor designs (TMI was B&W).


I have been told that the NRC told TVA that Bellefonte would be another Zimmer. Too much low quality work to get an operating license without major rework (see 88% > 55%). This was supposedly the trigger for TVA to cancel 11 nukes on one day.

A couple of years ago, TVA was talking about finishing both Bellefonte 1 and 2 as well as two AP-1000s on the site. Reduced demand plus coal ash spill clean-up costs have shrunk 4 to 1.

Watts Bar 2 (another long mothballed TVA nuke) is scheduled to be completed in 2013 for $2.5 billion (stopped @ 80% complete).

Watts Bar 1 was completed in 1996 after a long halt.

Best Hopes for Getting some experience with new nukes,


TVA is the 4th largest coal generator in the USA, 12 coal plant sites, 17,647 MW in 2005. They plan to shut down 1646 MW of 1950's era coal plants by 2013 (just in time for Watts Bar 2) rather than spend $1 billion adding new pollution controls to them. A new natural gas plant is planned as well.

In 2005, TVA generation was TVA 51.0% coal, 20.8% nuclear, 14.9% hydro, 13.2% natural gas, and 0.1% from oil. TVA also has a 1.6 GW pumped storage plant.

Gaining experience, good and bad, with existing if suboptimal designs is not a bad way to re-educate a lost work-force. There is always value in having plans built by people who were savvy and having finished, operational examples to study and consider.

I am all for Gen 3 nuke building as well, but finishing a few half-done reactors doesn't seem like a bad plan, and the money is high but not too excessive.

Of course we should continue wind and solar as well. Those are "stimulus" that will really help with near-term jobs AND long-term prognosis.

My wife pointed out the Sunfish solar panels to me.

Anybody have comments on these? While not much different than the Enphase system (might that technology be integrated?), it seems better integrated for simple home-owner DIY installation. At less than $1K per panel, a person could pick up a panel now and again, and eventually have some real power available. $4 per Watt is a bit high, but tolerable in the same way that hybrids and EVs of today are helping to build a mass-market for tomorrow.

I would check out the warranty first. Cheap inverter electronics (packaged as a unit) may make the entire assembly a throw-away in a few years.

Good basic idea though !


Don't know if they ever shipped.

Early failures would be a boon for those of us who could deconstruct, repair, or otherwise salvage the cells!

Anybody have comments on these? While not much different than the Enphase system (might that technology be integrated?), it seems better integrated for simple home-owner DIY installation. At less than $1K per panel, a person could pick up a panel now and again, and eventually have some real power available

Good questions!

I'm still trying to research this. It's basically an inverter in two parts one part is the computer controller and it plugs into any outlet and monitors system parameters. The other part is a black box, pure sine inverter that converts DC panel output and delivers 120 VAC current directly into the household circuit through a regular outlet.

The only good thing, assuming it actually works as they say is you don't need any panel to connect it to the household current. That alone usually entails specialized knowledge and skills from qualified technicians and you need to go through all the hoops of complying with your local municipalities permitting process with all the applicable fees. Having been there and done that a few times I can say that any option for bypassing that entire process would be more than welcome. Of course you still need a net metering agreement from your utility to be able to sell power back to the grid. The onus for that is on the power company's already existing meter...

What I don't like is that it doesn'r seem like you can easily add battery back up for those times when the power should go down. I'm actually in the process of researching adding a manual switch over with a standard generator connection to house current. The electrical panel and permits for this kind of connection are much more common and there is less hassle and resistance from municipalities to get this approved.

While there is power you could probably just have a standard AC battery charger maintaining the batteries topped off with power from the grid. If the grid goes down you pull the breaker on the grid panel and connect your battery bank like any standard gas powered portable generator.

Of course that means you still need a solar charge controller and probably another inverter as part of your generating package. This still might make economic sense because the black box they provide is supposed to be under $800.00 dollars which is still significantly cheaper than a standard grid tie connection via additional panel electrician's fees plus permits.

The other question I still have is, is the system modular and can you add more panels and say another box or are you limited to a measly 1KW of panels. Not a whole heck of a lot for most households these days.

Anyway we'll see when they actually come on the market next year. If they do it might be a cheap and relatively easy complement to a solar generator with battery backup.

Best hopes for cheap and easy solar energy!

Fred - this is interesting. As a first guess I would assume the 1kW unit is modular (meaning the 5 modules interconnect but only one plug comes out of the array).

If the module(s) are to be mounted to the roof, then a general contractor would still need to be involved, or this becomes an unlicensed mod. If they are ground mounted, that is easier, but then perhaps there is an issue of theft? And the cord will have to be strung somehow - how long will the included cord be?

I do not know the intimate details of the NEC, but I would venture a guess that the current limits on household plug wiring could possibly make more than one 1kW modular unit on any house circuit non code-compliant. Since one unit is listed up to 8.3 A, two would give more than 16A and that would be too high (per NEC "continuous use" rules) for 12 gauge wire.

Like you say, 1kW isn't a whole lot of power. With just one, maybe a net-metering agreement and new meter are not so crucial - the bill just goes down some, but the homeowner is not usually producing more than they are using.

Any junior electrician can run new AC circuits without confusion, so at least there would be a ready supply of such people versus the continual confusion I hear about doing DC wiring for home systems.

Adding a sub-panel for a bunch of circuits wouldn't be too hard, either.

It would be interesting to know how the mains loss detection function works. I don't think it would be acceptable to have a cross-powering "islanding" risk, so it's got to more sophisticated than it would initially appear.

But if you are going to add a bunch of AC circuits and a sub panel to use this system, the "just plug it in" simplicity has disappeared - and the cost will go up significantly.

I agree that it would be interesting to get some details on the anti-islanding mechanism.

versus the continual confusion I hear about doing DC wiring for home systems.

DC is actually simpler than AC. If I had my choice all household wiring lighting and appliances would be 24 or 48V DC.

Here is an example of a wiring diagram of a small off grid system that I designed for a dock that is modeled after a typical system you might find on a small sailboat. This one has both AC and DC circuits and panels.

Small Solar


Is there a difference in user safety between 60 Hz 110 VAC and 24 or 48 VDC?

I'm not Allan, but in a word yes.
The AC is much much more dangerous than the DC electrocution wise. There was a reason Thomas Edison who was pushing DC promoted the AC electric chair. But the lower voltage DC requires a higher current, so needs thicker wires. The danger of overheating wiring would be greater with DC. Also DC contacts might be problematic corrosion wise, as each polarity promotes its own electrochemical reactions. In AC the positive and negative elctrochemical reactions tend to cancel each other out as the voltage goes from positive to negative.

In telecom central offices, power is distributed as DC -48 volts and ground. The negative voltage is used so that any copper ions are attracted back to the wire.

More recently, -140 and ground were introduced, since the currents and wiring can be smaller. In any case, for racks and shelves of electronics, the power distribution voltages are converted to the +- 5 or +-15 volts as needed by local DC-DC power supplies.

The NEC has a lower standard for anything <50 volts, AC or DC, becasue it is considered safer.

Higher voltage DC like 600 V DC is (I have been told), harder to break away from than AC. But AC (same V) will kill quicker (Edison suggested calling electrocution "Westinghousing").


1kW isn't a whole lot of power. With just one, maybe a net-metering agreement and new meter are not so crucial - the bill just goes down some, but the homeowner is not usually producing more than they are using.

An efficient unoccupied home should have the refrigerator cycling on and off and perhaps 1 to 2 watts in phantom load (door bell light (LED) and LED indicators that cannot be turned off (GFCI plugs, cable/phone for me). Even occupied (like right now), my load is @ 50 watts (computer + screen) + cycling frig & a/c. I turn on printer as needed and use corded phone, etc.

Except when the a/c runs or I brew coffee#, run the garbage disposer, food processor or perhaps wash clothes (spin cycle) and microwave (900 watts), I doubt that I go over total 1 kW demand. All lights are CFL or LED.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


# I use a thermos coffee carafe. Since coffee cools VERY slowly in the thermos, the oils do not separate and it can be microwaved hot the next day. The taste is almost the same. Certainly an energy & coffee saver over a glass carafe and a hot plate that is the norm. Also went with motion sensor LED night lights.

Alan, I agree with you, and my own consumption is a lot like yours, however the vast majority of our fellow citizens consume much more than that. Here are some stats on electricity consumption:

In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 15,624 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.

(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption

(1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts)

But every little bit helps and if everyone adds a 1kW solar array to offset some of that consumption I would be thrilled!

I've got a long way to go compared to you guys! With almost all LED and CFL lights, except for vanities and few incans which have yet to fail, my lowest months are still almost 1000kwh (March and October). Much is for HVAC 24/7, as I work from home, plus lots of laundry, cooking, etc for the family.

Fridge and freezer are fairly new but not high-eff, and HVAC is 16 SEER, 95% AFUE.

Insulation and weatherproofing comes next, but then any amount of PV would help. There are probably parasitic loads to be found as well -- I'm sure the audio/visual, computers, etc. all use some. A better HVAC solution to only heat/cool the office during the day would help too, I'm sure.

I am still working into my house. Lowest month was 238 kWh (before new frig). Last 34 days bill was 1108 kWh. Better next year (finish insulation and weatherstripping).

I hope to never again see a 4 digit kWh use and to go below 200 kWh several months of the year.

More efficient appliances are worth considering. The Made in USA Bosch 300 uses $9/year in energy for 8 loads/week (I think that is yellow & black sticker standard) with natural gas hot water.

Home Depot has a 332 kWh/year 18 cu ft GE refrigerator for about $400 when they run a sale.

Tankless NG hot water heater is as efficient as solar with electric back-up. Solar with NG back-up is the best.

Double honeycomb blinds add R-4 to windows and reduce drafts.

Check and see if your state has any funds left from the "Cash for Appliances" program.

Best Hopes for Lower Bills in the future :-)


I'm feelin' like a Nova Scotian, today! (a Particular one from Halifax, anyhow..)

We've moved into my Mom's house, and her dining room had four 50w downspots in the chandelier on a dimmer-switch. I put in four 11w CFL SoftGlobes (200watts down to 44watts) and found even all four were too much, so it's now 200 down to 22 watts, and the room feels bright but comfortable!

My wife and daughter were dubious about losing the control offered by the dimmer.. but I had been discovering that people were just turning it on full as a matter of course. I think an 89% reduction is pretty decent. I didn't get the Dimmable CFL's in this case.. they seem kind of jumpy to me. Love to know about their power-profiles, though.

About to put Direct Solar-powered LEDs into the office, and have still been toying with a Heliostat-mirror that will just toss direct sunlight onto the Ceiling in here instead. It's kind of nuts, all the places we turn lights on during daylight hours. More poor design, enabled by cheap energy.


Paleo, assuming you aren't using A/C during March and October I would guess you may have an electric clothes dryer. After the AC thats my biggest draw. I got a spin dryer, that centrufuges off most of hte water, and we only need the lowest time setting on the electric dryer now. Big things like towels and sheets I put on the line, but perhaps your humid climate won't make that an option. In any case my electric dryer is about 5kilowatts, so figure a 45minute cycle is a bit over 3KWhr -multiply by the number of weekly loads....

Insulation, and blinds to keep the summer sun out are probably more cost effective than PV. If you want to optimize for cost go for them first. I just shut off our AC, waiting for it to cool enough to open windows. I recon today we will end up at 25KWhrs (14 of which came from the PV) (sounds crummy, but for a 102degree day, its pretty good). Now that the kids are off to college, I think our background consumption (not including heating/cooling) will drop alot. I have hopes the PV will come close to meeting our needs on an annual basis.

With just one, maybe a net-metering agreement and new meter are not so crucial - the bill just goes down some

Are there any utility meters that won't run backwards? As long as over a month long meterread period it hasn't gone backwards would the utility have any reason to suspect you are generating instead of conserving?

All meters may be capable of going backwards - the older ones I have seen around in PG&E territory do.

Usually with solar in NorCal the only way to make it financially viable is to get on a time of use rate card and get credit for the middle of the day (read: expensive) electricity the array generates. So you can make the utility bill approach $0 while still using a good bit more energy than you generate - but you have to have the "time aware" meter.

But if these (the new modules) end up being fairly cheap, then perhaps they can just shave off usage in the higher tiers and be feasible without TOU metering.

I wonder how robust the feature is that disconnects the inverter when the power fails? If you put two of these puppies on the same circuit and the grid failed, could one inverter spoof the other into thinking the grid was still up? That would be a huge safety no-no.

In any case, a smallish system that could be given as say a Christmass present to a green mineded person would be a nice way of diverting some funds from consumption towards solar. I certainly like the idea of being able to play with tiny systems. Grid connected PV that comes in short of meeting 100% of the average use is still just as valuable per KWhr.

I certainly like the idea of being able to play with tiny systems. Grid connected PV that comes in short of meeting 100% of the average use is still just as valuable per KWhr.

I agree, and can think of an example that would be useful for warm summer climates.

I have a bedroom 5000btu 500watt window air conditioner. If I had a small solar system that could output enough power to run it, then I could keep my bedroom comfortable during the day 'guilt free' as it would be powered by the solar array.

'guilt free' as it would be powered by the solar array.

Except the "guilt" is relative. You could feel guilty that you aren't pumping your 500watts into the general grid because you are selfishly using it for A/C.

EOS, true.

Another way to intrepret my theoretical action is to receive grateful thanks from my local electric company for removing 1/2 kW of peak electrical load from their grid :)

I KW system according to their web site is 150KW per month. Take the middle cost of $3500. Our electricity is $.12/KW so 150KW will save $18/month or $216/yr. $3500/216 = 16.2 years which is a far cry from three or four years payback as per web site. Of course if the price of electricity goes up, the cost of PV comes down or we average more than 150KW/mo then the number of years will go down. Other benefits about carbon etc. not counted either way.

BTW: 16 years is about average for payback for a larger PV system @ $3-$4/watt grid tie system too. As mentioned above full batteries will cost $10K to $12K with 10 year guarantee (20 yr probable lifespan) for a complete off grid system.

Interesting comment. Apparently this has been a concern for a while, and some open source algorithms were developed at Sandia to enable inverter manufacturers to avoid this multiple inverter issue. From:


The results of the multi-inverter islanding tests confirmed that if a utility feeder contains several utility interconnected photovoltaic static inverters from different manufacturers, their anti-islanding techniques would have difficulty identifying the absence of the grid. This potential problem can only exist if the isolated portion of the circuit has a load that absorbs the power being generated by the inverters. The variables that make the islanding conditions possible are a function of the types of loads connected to the isolated portion of the utility and the magnitude of loads attached. If the power being generated by the UIPV sources is approximately the same as the load, then the chance for inverter run-on increases significantly. Figure 2 shows the results of one set of multi-inverter tests. For these particular tests, the combined power from the inverters was approximately 6.6 kW and the resistive load was approximately 6.6 kW. The abscissa of Figure 2 is the ratio of inverter power generated to that of the resistive load (Pgen/Pload).

Figure 2 shows that the required 2 second disconnect time was exceeded frequently in the multi-inverter test. As noted, two of the tests resulted in continuous run-ons and required operator intervention to stop the run-on.

Fred,I don't know what the regulations are in the USA regarding connecting an external power source to the grid but in Australia they are very strict in order to safeguard workers on the grid.

When I had my solar panels (Sunpower) installed with a SMA inverter I had a back up system added to it. The SMA backup with 2 x 170amp/hour batteries cost over AU$10,000 installed.It is a complex system but so far runs perfectly.When the grid goes down there is the merest flicker of the lights and no shut down of a computer.

Given the longstanding lunacy in our state government who are responsible for the grid I am considering adding batteries and a plug connection for a little Yamaha 2 kva generator which I have had for years.This would allow me to go off grid for extended periods even in prolonged overcast conditions.

Back up systems don't appear to be common here and SMA is the only supplier that I know of.

IMO,DIY work on anything impinging on the grid is far too dangerous unless the person is a qualified electrician with knowledge of the systems being installed.

Fred,I don't know what the regulations are in the USA regarding connecting an external power source to the grid but in Australia they are very strict in order to safeguard workers on the grid.

G'Day thirra,

Yeah, we seem to have the same problem here in the US, it seems that our utility companies get all cranky when we PV users accidentally fry one of their workers when they are trying to repair a downed grid and we are still energizing it, they just seem to have no sense of humor. Shocking I tell you just shocking...

Given the longstanding lunacy in our state government who are responsible for the grid I am considering adding batteries and a plug connection for a little Yamaha 2 kva generator which I have had for years.This would allow me to go off grid for extended periods even in prolonged overcast conditions.

Back up systems don't appear to be common here and SMA is the only supplier that I know of.

By coincidence I happen to have a subscription to this great Aussie publication, Energy Matters, and I just received their update via email. Here is the link:


Check out their off grid section they might be able to help you with an affordable backup system.
I think creating a generator connection is a good idea but if it were me I'd power it with a solar generator. You folk down under seem to have much better incentives than we do in South Florida...

While I know you're goofing around a serious topic, I've also heard that Solar Islanding has not been responsible for any Utility worker deaths, AFAIK, right? The issue has really grown from people during outages powering up with Gas Generators, and juicing up the wires heading away from their homes.

I expect that dark day will come to Solar, but the record is still (Largely?) clean so far..

I've also heard that Solar Islanding has not been responsible for any Utility worker deaths, AFAIK, right?

AFAIK that is correct. I think that most reputable solar contractors check with their EEs and design their systems according to the book and install only systems that have the proper safety auto disconnects incorporated into the designs.

Unfortunately most DIY home owners with their gas powered generators rarely have a clue as to what it is they are doing.

Heck I'm sure you've heard of stories about people who kill off their entire families with carbon monoxide poisoning because they don't even know enough not to run their generators indoors without proper exhaust systems. These same people tend not to have a very good grasp of the dangers of electrical shock either.

Sad! Anyone can buy an off the shelf generator and just plug it in.
While contractors need to have knowledge, licenses, insurance and must pay permitting fees and pass inspections before they connect a system to the grid.

Why not tidal and geothermal plants? These are established technology, clean energy, and have less impact than nukes.

Not that we won't need some Gen3 plants. Just that in appropriate locations, these seem like a slam dunk. At least to me.


Another approach is a collective purchasing setup by getting a local community of folks to all install solar together:

'The group of neighbors, called "Solarize Salem," is the latest in a wave of grass-roots efforts around the country to connect homeowners interested in solar power.

The homeowners attend educational workshops, buy solar panels in bulk and negotiate a group discount with a panel installer. The practice can save 10% to 30% off the cost of installation, organizers say.'


I found that the last two coal fired plants @ TVA were built in 1970 and 1973 (3,750 MW) and the rest earlier. A 1967 plant of 870 MW is one of the most efficient coal plants in the USA.


Retiring just the pre-1965 coal units (all burn a lot of coal per MWh) and going with conservation, the small amount of wind viable in their area, some small hydro, waste bio-mass, solar PV, more pumped storage, more nukes and more combined cycle NG would be a big step in the right direction.

Best Hopes for a Greener TVA,


Sure natural gas is nice but we simply don't have enough to replace coal for electricity unless you can somehow make geopressured natural gas work.

The US has between 5000 and 49000 Tcf of geopressured gas of which 1100 Tcf is recoverable, much of it in Louisiana. It exists between zones below 2 miles deep. There is the opportunity for simultaneous geothermal recovery as well.

In the 1980s, DOE’s Gulf Coast
Geopressured-Geothermal Program
confirmed the existence of a geopressuredgeothermal
system within the Pleasant
Bayou test facility. Located in Brazoria,
Texas, the site was used from 1989-1990.
An onsite geopressured-geothermal hybrid
cycle 1 MW plant used a mixture of
methane and geothermal brine fluids. The
plant generated more than 3,400 megawatt
hours from November 1989 to May 1990,
and was found to be technically feasible;
however, the Program and the Pleasant
Bayou project disbanded shortly after due
to energy prices and lack of commercial
production support.


Stop worrying about the TVA and make geopressured gas/geothermal your renewable source for the South.

How will it handle winter here?
Electric car. i-MiEV test largest in Canada: Hydro

The upcoming three-year trial of 50 electric Mitsubishi cars in this South Shore city is "at the heart" of Hydro-Quebec's move toward the electrification of ground transport, a senior director of the utility said yesterday.

Although Hydro-Quebec is involved in tests with four different manufacturers of electric or hybrid vehicles, the $4.5-million Mitsubishi project is the largest test in Canada, said Pierre-Luc Desgagne, head of strategic planning and government affairs.

"We will have real-life experience with real people driving those cars, so the data provided will be very" significant, he said.

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/will+handle+winter+here/343486...


Nice to see more tests on EVs in cold weather. Think & Buddy are both EV companies based in Norway, so we know EVs can handle it. But most of those Thinks were using Zebra batteries, not Li-Ions. I'd like to see more Li-Ion research. At worst, every car will need a battery thermal management system like in the GM Volt.

The world is running out of helium: Nobel prize winner

(PhysOrg.com) -- A renowned expert on helium says we are wasting our supplies of the inert gas helium and will run out within 25 to 30 years, which will have disastrous consequences for hospitals and industry.

Professor Richardson warned the gas is not cheap because the supply is inexhaustible, but because of the Helium Privatisation Act passed in 1996 by the US Congress. The Act required the helium stores held underground near Amarillo in Texas to be sold off at a fixed rate by 2015 regardless of the market value, to pay off the original cost of the reserve. The Amarillo storage facility holds around half the Earth's stocks of helium: around a billion cubic meters of the gas. The US currently supplies around 80 percent of the world's helium supplies.

Richardson said it has taken 4.7 billion years for the Earth to accumulate our helium reserves, which we will have exhausted within about a hundred years of the US's National Helium Reserve having been established in 1925.

Thank You

Helium is a byproduct of the decay of radioactive materials, isn't it?

He3, though, is abundent. On the moon. And, it is a better candidate than Hydrogen for use in fusion energy production. If and when we figure out how to do it, that is.

The problem is, we need to have a way to send men and/or equipment to the moon to mine the regolith for this resource.

Oh, one other thing. He3 is delivered to the moon by the sun constantly. The reason we have none on earth is that our ionosphere and magnetic fields repel it. And, if you are worried about lunar mining defacing the moon, and making romantic nights less so, the moon always presents the same surface to the Earth, and mining can be done on the backside and not be seen from here.


Helium is a byproduct of the decay of radioactive materials, isn't it?

It is also the second most abundant element in the universe. IIRC correctly primordial gas is 75% hydrogen and 25% Helium (by mass), with a few traces of ultra light elements like Lithium. On a non giant planet like the earth, any Helium in the atmosphere escapes into space with a few million years. The replenishing supply is alpha decay. Alpha particles are Helium nuclei without electrons. On earth they come from the deacy of Uranium and Thorium and their daughter products. But only a few places has seignificant quantities been confined near the surface, and Texas natural gas is the big winner.

The main deal is that physically Helium is unique. If you want to do extreme cold (under about twenty dgrees absloute) it is hard to do without it.
But we give it away cheap enough to fill party balloons.....

Also used in cryopumps to run ultra high vacuum systems.
We kept a cylinder around as a leak detector which is about the lowest efficiency application I can think of.

Helium depletion was one of my first blog topics

When I was in graduate school, we used superconducting magnets for various purposes. We could use 100 liters of liquid He without giving it much thought. Some sites had recovery and re-liquification systems in place. We didn't - we just vented it to the atmosphere.

Don't worry, as soon as we get all those fusion plants up and running, we'll have all the helium we need.

If you believe that fusion of H2 into Helium is going to take place, forgetaboutit. Hydrogen is far to corrosive to be used in fusion plants. He3 is the substance that is most likely, and as noted above is found abundently on the moon.


Zap, The only way you will ever see a working fusion reactor is if your Daddy fetches us one with his stolen infinite inprobability drive space ship from some distant future world at the other end of the universe. ;)

New project aims for fusion ignition

The last comment on the article is particularly interesting. The theory doesn't always lead to good results, but continued observation, modification, and testing do. What did Edison say about inspiration versus perspiration?

Fusion ain't low hanging fruit.

The probability of all the very tough nut problems associated with building a working useful fusion reactor being solved within the next half century is essentially zero.

Dozens of non existent technologies and materials will have to be invented, and then ways found of converting the knowledge in to thre dimensional reality.

There are thousands of brilliant people who have been working on this for quite a while already, and they have collectively probably spent upwards of a hundred billion dollars.

For this we have not gotten the equivalent of a camp fire-or wildfire-created by banging two rocks together.

Once the uber expensive experimental machines manage to create the equivalent of a burning match, in maybe another ten or twenty years,a working reactor producing useful electricity will still be as far in the future, technologically , as a campfire is removed from a satellite.

Once upon a time I myself believed in such technomiracles.

A little research into the realities of the subject of fusion quickly disillusioned me.

The USA has been working on developing a fusion reactor since the 1950s!!

People think the Big Dig in Boston was protracted and expensive......

Keep on searching for that Heart of Gold...

Actually, the improbability factor of He3 fusion reactors, though not in the "it's gonna happen tomorrow" range, are insufficient to power the HOG.


RIP, Doug

Actually I've read that H3 fusion would require higher temperatures and better containment, with the advantage of lower production of neutrons. It's not quite like the fusion equivalent of LSC or anthracite.

Back when I actually worked in fusion research the favored fuel was D+T
(i.e. dueterium plus Tritium). He3 is just decayed Tritium (one of the neutrons
converts to a proton and electron). Also D He3 was sometimes mentioned. Other rections are possible, but an order of magnitude harder to do.

There may be a lot of He3 on the moon, but it is spread out over many millions of square kilometers of surface. It would be quite dificult to collect, even if we could afford to ship it back to earth.

11% for Australian Greens. It shows what proportional representation could achieve in Anglo-Saxon countries if ti were applied. USA might be able to lead against climate change and two party system would be gone.

USA might be able to lead against climate change

Other places on the internet are reporting:

Despite the fact that President Obama made Cap and Trade and other green policy plans a focal point of his early days in office — not to mention his campaign for president — the White House has quietly scrubbed from its official website many of Obama’s promises and green initiatives.

So long as the climate change ideas are only 30% effective and 1/2 of each dollar spent goes to banks like Goldman Sachs - I see no reason to support climate change. Let the place burn and take the greedy rich bastards with us all. No reason saving the planet should make me poorer and the banking class richer.

Uh - Andrew Breitbart ? Infamously involved in the firing of Shirley Sherrod ? Come on...

galacticsurfer,that 11% overall Greens vote got them additional senators.The Senate has proportional representation on the basis that each state,regardless of population,is an electorate.
Constitutionally,the Senate is a state's house.

The swing to the Greens netted them a whole 1 seat (and the first) in the House of Representatives which has first past the post voting modified by the preferential system.We could certainly do with proportional voting in the House but the two major parties are dead set against it for obvious reasons.It would be good if the current situation of independents having the balance of power in the House could facilitate a change to a more representative electoral system but I won't be holding my breath waiting.

From a leading US think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations:

China Will Force the World Off Oil

As a country’s per capita income increases, its per capita oil consumption increases. Consumption growth tends to be modest up until $15,000 income per head, but then accelerates rapidly. China is quickly approaching this point.

If recent trends continue, the US is well on its way to becoming free of its dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Roger that WT.

The Pickens Plan for one source of foreign oil:


Folks, the rest of the paragraph associated with that graph should be read:

South Korea, which consumes 3% of world oil output, is too small to disrupt oil markets. China is too big not to disrupt them. Were China’s per capita oil consumption to be brought up to South Korea’s, its share of global consumption would increase from today’s 10% to over 70%. In order to cap China’s share at 22%, which is the U.S. share today, global oil output would have to increase by a massive 13% per annum over ten years – well beyond the 1% growth averaged since 1975. This rate of growth is inconceivable, even if vastly more expensive sources of supply, such as the Canadian oil sands, were developed at breakneck speed. If China’s recent economic growth pace continues, it will surpass South Korea’s current per capita GDP shortly after 2020 – meaning that the world may be forced onto alternative energy sources much sooner than it realizes.

Note: The Council on Foreign Relations is not a bunch of egghead outsiders. Has close connections with the elite.

Today it has about 5,000 members (including five-year term members[10] between the ages of 30-41), which over its history have included senior serving politicians, more than a dozen Secretaries of State, former national security officers, bankers, lawyers, professors, former CIA members and senior media figures.


At this point I assume many of The Powers That Be in this country understand peak oil (mostly) and are quite conscious of resources constraints. They are in a box. Time to keep a look-out for some really weird gambits.

Yep and believe it or not Matthew Simmons was a member of the CFR

Is this preparation for war, or just the expected hoarding response as the peak oil reality becomes clearer? Stocks of oil and products made from oil reach all-time highs in the US.

A weekly chart followed by a monthly chart. Both from the EIA.

Data here:

The "markets" think it's a sign of a weak economy - no demand coupled with a supply chain that doesn't quit.

Where the heck are they putting all that oil? Have they been building a lot of oil storage facilities in the past few years? I'm wondering how close they are to being filled.

A good deal of the long term build reflects additions to the SPR. A more relevant picture is Days of Supply of commercial crude oil stocks:

And what is especially relevant is Days of Supply in excess of MOL (Minimum Operating Level). The US has about 5 and a half days of commercial crude oil supplies in excess of MOL. Having said all that, weak demand in the US is not a new story.

I have looked hard but can't find evidence that the MOL (despite its name) is a hard constraint of any sort. Do you have any links to government technical papers etc?

With the war drums pounding, I think SPR is very relevant.

But I would advance the following thesis: the more peak oil proceeds, the more oil will be stored above ground. World-wide storage continues to expand with record amounts in the US where storage expansion is actually slower.

A good deal of oil is needed just to keep the pipelines full and to keep a minimum amount of oil on hand at refineries, in case of disruptions. I think that the only time in recent decades that US commercial crude stocks fell below 270 mb was in the first week of January, 2004, when they averaged about 267 mb.

But if the system didn't need a MOL of 270 mb, why have oil companies almost always maintained this (very expensive) level of crude oil inventories?

In fact, what the industry has done in recent years is to draw down crude inventories, on a Days of Supply basis, quite a bit, because they have the SPR as a backup. Recent inventory changes just reflect variations in a thin margin of supply in excess of MOL--really best measured as hours of supply in excess of MOL.

According to DOE, the SPR is full as of the end of last year:

The SPR completed its fill program on December 27, 2009. Today's inventory of 726.6 million barrels is the highest ever held in the SPR. Actual physical capacity is 727 million barrels.


So any new oil coming in isn't going inthe SPR, right?

At some point Americans will have to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what's holding back the economy is not interest rates or insufficient stimulus but a flat oil supply. Interesting to ponder what will happen after that.

Interesting to ponder what will happen after that.

First it will be Drill Baby Drill!

Then it will take another period to come to the conclusion that the reserves just aren't there to be found at economically viable prices. So we will move on to oil sands, shale, tar sands, chopping up the parking lots, biodiesel from algae, more corn ethanol everything and anything including the kitchen sink will be tossed into the mix. EROEI be damned! Pedal to the metal...

Then when everything has been tried and there is nothing left of this civilization but the smoldering rubble, then, maybe then, we will finally come to our senses and admit we need to find some new paradigm other than BAU.

Yo, brother can you spare a quart?

What makes the present situation so remarkable and unique in history is we KNOW what will happen if the world does nothing. No need to read fortune cookies or see a fortune teller, the cold facts are there for anyone to see.

Has there been any other time in history where the future is so manifest? I can't think of any other time.

Very depressing. At least in the past there was some possibility, however remote, of better things to come. Not now.

I agree. Or, in the past people were too illiterate to know. Or, they were under the sway of a priest.

No internet to spred the doom. If I just go outside and look around, full moon, no wind and it really isn't too bad. Maybe a little hot tomorrow at 100F but nice and cool now. Zuchinni like you wouldn't believe and lots of ripe tomatoes. Coffee smells great in the morning but I am pretty sure the SWHTF before long while forty years ago I would have to believe MSM and the president even though it was Nixon. See, it is the internet that is causing all this anxiety with us. Reality like here and now aint too bad.

Question: Is there any other reality but here and now?

Fantastic cartoon.

I hope Kirk makes a revised cartoon, and just substitute from 'would just take the bus' to 'would just telecommute from home' then I think it might help traffic even more :)

From what I see on news stories relating oil price to the economy, it is always mentioned that oil demand is low because of the bad economy.

I have not seen any stories in the mainstream press that present the two in any other way (yet?).

From what I see on news stories relating oil price to the economy, it is always mentioned that oil demand is low because of the bad economy.
I have not seen any stories in the mainstream press that present the two in any other way (yet?).

Good point. This needs to change.

I think some people should dig up some articles from 2004 or so where they said "If oil goes over $70/barrel, our economy will collapse." We had those stories, but then as oil blasted through $70/barrel up to $147, we forgot about them. Perhaps we assumed they were wrong because things kept working for a while. But they may have been right . . . the economy just kept going for another 2 years or so based on momentum & debt alone. But after running on fumes, the economy finally collapse.

And now we keep hoping it will 'recover' but it cannot recover the way it ran in the past . . . That $1.75 gasoline is gone. The $70/barrel oil did make our economy collapse. It has fallen and can't get up.

Yesterday I read the article in the NYT about how there are no options for the BOJ to stimulate growth. Stimulus packages are too expensive. Interest rates are already zero. Deflation ad unemployment continue. I sort of though the PTB are trying to put the idea ("the END OF GROWTH") into the atmosphere for people to absorb, because there were a lot of economists quoted in the article who were making comparisons to the US situation. Growth is impossible to accomplish...that is the message, now put out hesitantly and reluctantly. And a little bit obscurely.

They will still, if asked, say that they will aim for growth.

But I think they want people to put 2 and 2 together, to cut them some slack when it`s election time.

Correct, but if you subtract out the SPR, the first chart looks a little different. In any case, as noted up the thread, US demand is clearly down since 2005, but I suspect that it is part of a long term trend, as I anticipate that we will continue to get outbid by developing countries for access to a declining volume of global net oil exports.

Focusing solely on the US as an indicator of global demand is like the old joke about the drunk looking for his keys under a streetlight late at night. He had lost his keys down the street, but the light was better under the streetlight.


If the SPR is filled to the gills, then how much longer can supply grow? Is there that much non SPR storage left unused?

Does anybody know how much it costs to store oil in terms of building a tank farm?

My own wag is that a Chinese tank farm might just pay for itself in a year or so if filled with let us say seventy dollar oil worth a hundred bucks this same day next year.

I 'm guessing that underground storage in old mines or natural caverns costs very little, excepting the fact some oil must be inevitably lost in such storage;and the pumping costs might be high .

Any figures from knowledgeable industry people will be highly appreciated, thanks in advance.

1. There is no breakdown between corporate and governmental storage.
2. The military is preparing for civil unrest beginning 2012.
3. If I had a lot of money, land, and wanted to 'get rich' over a period of time, I would build lots of storage, lots of oil at the low end (when prices drop below $72 today, but increasing over time). I would release when prices jumped. Refill, rinse and repeat.
4. What "prepare for war?" We are in the middle of the Resource Wars, today. It may get worse, and it may get better. It will not go away.


Is this preparation for war, or just the expected hoarding response as the peak oil reality becomes clearer?

Neither. It is an economy in the toilet. It is people not driving their cars to work because they don't have a job with the 10% unemployment (and much higher real unemployment). It is people not taking family car trips or flying off on vacation because they don't have the money.

Existing Home Sales Hit 15-Year Low; Housing Market Weakens

The National Association of Realtors said sales dropped a record 27.2 percent from June to an annual rate of 3.83 million units, the lowest level since May 1995.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected existing home sales to tumble 12 percent to a 4.70 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.37 million units in June.

And the beat goes on...
la dee dah dee dah dee dah.
Peggy Lee


Big wheel keep on turning
Proud mary keep on burning
And we’re rolling, rolling
Rolling on the river

Working for the man every night and day

The folks selling in my area have started dropping their asking price in desperation. One home just dropped the price by 67% to 90K. Another home has just dropped the price down 33%. It will be interesting to see if they move them at those prices -- I think they will.

600 MW natural gas plant to be built instead of 1,000 MW coal plant in Ohio


Hopefully, the "lost" 400 MW is conservation.

Best Hopes,


"Illinois: 5 States Seek to Close Possible Carp Route "

The most troublesome part of lock closures for the City of Chicago is the way storm water and sewage has historically been handled.

"History of Storm Water Management

In 1885 a severe rainstorm caused sewage-contaminated river water to flow into Lake Michigan,
contaminating the City’s drinking water. This disaster led to a cholera and typhoid outbreak that killed over 90,000 people. Repeated outbreaks of epidemic diseases compelled the City to find a way to stop the flow of polluted water into Lake Michigan. The Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago was created in 1889 to safeguard the city’s drinking water and determine an acceptable way to dispose of waste.

In 1900, the sewer overflow problem was solved by a massive engineering effort. Engineers constructed the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to reverse the Chicago River’s natural flow from eastward to westward, thereby steering human and industrial waste away from Lake Michigan. Now the river flows into the DesPlaines River, the Mississippi River and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.

Locks regulate the elevation of the river and prevent Lake Michigan from draining freely (City of Chicago, 2000)."

More at this link :- (pdf warning)


Of course, this is one more cause of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, but the bigger issue is how to construct an entirely new waste treatment system in an era of crashing state and local revenues, especially since we have been experiencing bigger and more violent downpours of late.

For all practical purposes, permanent lock closure isn't feasible.

I think the carp came in from the DesPlaines river to the lake, not the other way around. And, once in L.Michgan, they are spreading to Superior, Huron, etc.

And, the river has no connection to any of the other lakes. It connects to other rivers, of course, and as you said to the GOM. But, carp are fresh water fish, and won't bother the gulf. And, the connected rivers are all full of carp anyway. By far, it is the most abundent food fish in the river system.

As a sportsman, carp are fun to catch. Use ultra light spinning or fly gear. about a 2# test line or so, and see how you do reeling in one of those babies. The hit the fly in shallow water, turning over. You set the hook when you see the flash of sliver or gold. Then the fun begins!!

Not bad eating, either. Of course, any fresh water fish is edible.

Besh wishes for good fishing.


I think you guys are talking about different Carp.

I stand corrected. The Asian Carp being discussed is in the rivers; they are trying to keep it out of Lake Michigan by closing off the locks.


Bad news: not very good eating - bones are too big and there are too many. The large mouthed carp, though also a problem, at least good to eat.

OTOH, catching them is interesting (read the Time article). I doubt that a rowboat would work, though.


But still, as Matt Groenig says,
"When life gives you Carp, make Carp-ade!"

You could make either Fish McNuggets or fertilizer.
Waste not want not.

I like the fertilizer idea, Fred.

Don't know if McNuggets would work... perhaps we have a new job title, "de-boner."

Very suave/


It's ok - the 'gators will get 'em...

"August 24, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- 'Alligator Bob' used a net to scoop up a 3-year-old gator that was found in the Chicago River on the city's Northwest Side.

The 3-foot alligator was a pet, according to Alligator Bob, who is a reptile expert ..."


(gator-ade? - haha)

Gator-ade.. very nice!

I love a nice, Synergistic Solution.

Remember this one? An internet 'Golden Oldie'

The Opportunity

Because of steadily increasing demand for fur clothing, a good cat skin will fetch three dollars on the European fur market. A good Mexican cat skinner can skin ten cats in an hour but makes only a dollar an hour. The opportunity is obvious.

The Ranch

Prime ranch property has already been obtained in the beautiful city of San Bromista located in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. The ranch property is ideally suited in terms of terrain, location, and climate for the cat ranching industry. But what about supply of cats?

Raw Materials

Stray cats are extremely common in Mexico. Within a short period of time, a large number of cats can easily be rounded up and placed on a ranch. Once established, the cat population will expand through the naturally high cat reproduction rate. In this manner, the supply of cats is essentially free. But what about the cost of feeding the cats?

Food Supply

Rats are even more common in Mexico than cats. Rounding up rats is even easier than cats. With the right initial rat bait, the ranch would literally be covered with more than enough rats to feed the cats. As natural enemies, the cats will quite easily feed on the rats. But what will the rats eat? After each harvesting of cat skins, the remaining cat carcasses will have no commercial value, so it makes sense to feed the cat carcasses to the rats. The rats will thrive with the cat carcass food supply. And because rats reproduce even more rapidly than cats, the food supply for the cats will be virtually unlimited.

The Value Proposition

Because the cats and rats provide the food supply for each other, the entire operation is self-perpetuating. The only expense is for the cat skinners, and at a dollar an hour that cost in nominal. Since the harvested skins have a negligible cost, the operation is nearly all profit. In a nutshell, the cats eat the rats, the rats eat the cats, and we get the skins.


Who says growth is impossible!?

(I mean, this is like, 'Growth-er than Growth')

They could probably pump around the locks. My understanding is that after that (supposed, read below) disaster in 1885 they also, in addition to sending their combined sewer (storm + sanitary) down the Mississippi, placed potable water intakes several miles offshore in Lake Michigan that sucked water from the middle of the water column. However, some research today shows that was already in place even in 1885...a 'water crib' was constructed two miles offshore back in 1865. Today, there is still much water pollution in the Lake and they are apparently proposing new intakes further back than the current 4 mile distance.


It also appears likely that there never was a mass disease outbreak after the storm in 1885.


EDIT: Similar to many older cities, storm and wastewater appear to have been handled together...likely not treated at all back 100 years ago, but now, during dry weather, treated to modern sewage treatment standards. However, during wet weather it is likely that there are still overflows of untreated runoff, at least until this project is completed...


Interesting link on the mass disease outbreak in 1885 - the current Commissioner for the Environment believed the 90,000 deaths. I'm going to do more homework on that.

I'm not sure that pumping water around the locks would be enough to deal with the volume in a sudden storm.

On the (unfortunately named) TARP (Tunnel and Reservoir Plan), as far as I know there's no work going on right now, but what is there is in use.

Yes, there are "cribs" for water intake. Storm water runoff today does cause sewer overflow into the Lake, but since everything goes through the water treatment facility, is not an issue for drinking water, but does pose a problem for beach closures, and is an additional load on the water treatment facility. Many beaches are closed due to e-coli contamination after bad storms.

matt posted this on the simmons wake thread:

Saudi Arabia lost production share to Russia


so as to not muck up the wake, i am posting here:

the 2008 saudi peak may or may not have been capacity determined. ksa may have lost production share, but appears to have gained price control (which is happening about now,imo).

Green Party candidate for Governer of Illinois talks about climate change and the end of cheap oil as a 911 emergency. Transition initiatives are mentioned.

About 4:50 minutes in :-


Ran across two articles at WeatherUnderground here and here recently that capture the dynamic between pro-Peak Oil analysts and denialists. Although the articles address climate change and politics, peak oil could be substituted because the thesis (of the articles) is politics vs knowledge.

...“The attack on climate science, observed Pollack (2003), replicates previous assaults on science, such as by the pesticide industry (DDT), coal-burning electric utilities (acid rain), and the chemical industry (effect of CFCs on stratospheric ozone). Furthermore, Nissani (1999, p. 37) stressed that the ‘phoney’ controversy surrounding anthropogenic climate change has been preceded by controversies on such issues as slavery, child labour, and civil rights. There have always been experts willing to back up a ‘profitably mistaken viewpoint’; there have always been efforts ‘to cover the issue in a thick fog of sophistry and uncertainty’ and to ‘unearth yet one more reason why the status quo is best for us’ (Nissani, 1999, p. 37–38).”

...It is important to appreciate that the politicization of climate change is not unique because it means that there is not some piece of magic, something that we have being saying wrong, that if we say it correctly, more convincingly, with a preponderance of knowledge and rationality – if we say it correctly, then we can move forward. Also realizing that the climate change is not unique in its politicization allows us to depersonalize the attacks, which are sometimes highly personal (a tried and true political tactic).

... if scientific investigation suggests a need to change, to regulate, or to restrict a certain practice or behavior, then there is a response to oppose that change, that regulation, or that restriction. The depth and vigor of the opposition depends on the wealth and power of those who perceive themselves as impacted; there is often the funding or the advocacy of “opposition science.”

So, I guess the question becomes: "How do you win the hearts and minds?".

The answer, according to the items quoted, is, "you don't." To put it in terms more widely understood, at least by those who watch Faux news,

"We obfuscate, you decide."



I will quote from an article I am working hard on.

Interestingly, while this approach may be [is currently] the most effective way to control our carbon emissions, [yet] it can also be enthusiastically supported by those who deny the importance or severity of climate change since it offers solutions to several other critical national problems.

Best Hopes !


PS: I put word options in brackets.

"How do you win the hearts and minds?

Ignore the "mind" part because it is small and insignificant.

Concentrate on the "hearts" part
... where that part, your mind should tell you, is not located in the thoracic cavity but rather in the cranium.

WTF? What is that link to Michael Ledeen doing on TOD? I'm no fan of Iran, but that war-monger is about as credible on the topic as Glenn Beck is on the state of the USA. Come on, TOD.

You must not read the DrumBeat very often. I've been known to link to Glenn Beck on occasion.

I'm just curious since you're the Drumbeat editor: do you have a background in the oil industry or are you someone outside of the industry concerned about Peak Oil?

I looked at the OilDrum website and your blog and there is no biographical information either place.

The latter. I am not in the oil industry.

"Light pollution dulls the night sky for stargazers - and drains city funds"

by Spencer Rinkus and Amy Langdon
May 25, 2010

"Walk around Chicago during the day and you'll see that wasted lighting isn't just a problem at night.

Experts advise that using less light doesn't mean you have to turn the lights off. Purchasing lights that direct illumination downward greatly improves energy efficiency.

Advocates of efficient lighting are trying to bring attention to light pollution - a problem that wastes energy, contributes to global warming and kills migratory birds."


I'm not a strong advocate of LED lighting outside specific applications such as traffic signals. However, one application where LEDs really shine is freezer case lighting. So if I may have a drum roll please....

Ladies and gentlemen, on your left, we have 135-watt F60T10 VHO case lighting (144-watts per lamp with ballast) and on your right, 15 and 25-watt LED replacement strips from Philips (the centre strips which provide 180 degree coverage are 25-watts and the end strips are 15-watts). I've had to compress this image to keep its file sizes in check so this may be a bit difficult to see, but the fluorescent lighting casts a dull greenish hue over the merchandise whereas the LED lighting provides visual pop and sparkle and nice clean whites. In addition to an 85 per cent reduction in lighting and related refrigeration loads, everything looks much better.

My biggest concern with LEDs is proper thermal management, as higher operating temperatures can result in more rapid lumen depreciation and premature lamp failure. These freezer cases operate at -23°C so this shouldn't be a problem.


I'm not a strong advocate of LED lighting outside specific applications such as traffic signals.
...My biggest concern with LEDs is proper thermal management, as higher operating temperatures can result in more rapid lumen depreciation and premature lamp failure.

Why don't you like LEDs outside of traffic signals?

Premature failure? LEDs last far longer than incandescents and CFLs.

Lumen depreciation? LEDs definitely do drop about 20% in the first couple years but then they tend to level off and drop very slowly after than. Just get something a little brighter than you need initially . . . they'll still save a ton of power.

Above 2 watts, CFLs have more lumens/watt than LEDs.

LEDs are good for colored lights, night lights and lights frequently turned off & on (so are cold cathode or dimmable CFLs).


Ah. Well . . . keep them under 2 watts and use more of them.

And LED lighting should be done differently than traditional lighting which is so point sourced based. LEDs should be distributed into arrays and bars. Spread the light out because that uses it more efficiently. And that is something that LEDs do better.

And yeah, for colors & signs they are awesome.

In many fixtures now, they are pushing the output to the limits and running LED's pretty hot.

I'm sure we'll start to see a lot more premature deaths of them, as their 'retail' presence expands and a lot of ambitious product hits the shelves.

I like many LED setups I've played with, but time will tell which ones really have the legs for the long races.

I've had a lot of fun with the Bayonet-mount Low-volt LED's lately (look at Superbrightleds.com or similar) .. have some Daylight Whites Built into the Ceiling of my Car now to replace the Cabin Light, and they're on BNC right-angle connectors, so they can be aimed all around the car.. great Map lights!


Hi Bob,

That's one of the things that worries me about LEDs. We're having a high number of integrated ballast ceramic metal halide PAR38 lamps fail inside recessed housings, although they're certified for this type of fixture. The electronics are literally cooking inside these cans as internal temperatures routinely exceed 100°C. These lamps are from one of the "big three" lamp manufactures and they've been very responsive and working hard to address this problem, but it's resulted in a lot of frustration and loss of good will. Until we get a little more in-field experience with LEDs, I'm not diving into the pool.

BTW, one of the clients affected is a major retailer with several hundred stores across Canada and this lamp manufacturer was their principal supplier..... now, due to the problems they've encountered with these lamps, I'm told that their relationship with this manufacturer has been effectively terminated.


I hope those weren't the Cree LR-6 family like I've used. So far all 12 of mine are going strong, but I'm only 1 year into them.

A key issue with LEDs is the eternal effort to squeeze them into fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs. With a bit more design lattitude, you should be able to separate the LEDs and the driver circuits, and prevent "cooking" the electronics. Plus, many incan fixtures seem designed to keep heat in, or push it up into an attic space, rather than circulate it in the conditioned space -- the difference in power is so great, the design should change.

Plus, as noted above, LEDs work best where cycling is appropriate, whereas most CFLs opt for always-on during use periods, so you have additional control options as well.

Finally, LEDs create high energy concentrations, and simply spreading the wattage across the size of a typical fixture would help a lot, but most fixtures are designed with floating ceramic bases that isolate the bulb from the fixture. Think about a common 2 or 3 bulb ceiling fixture -- it's a foot or more in diameter, with 100 sq inches of potentially available radiant space, often including a decorative rim that's half of that. If you could simply thermally couple the 20W of LEDs to that fixture, then dissipation into the room would be readily adequate. Plus, the incan bulbs typically sit back behind a high-loss translucent globe, and LEDs or CFLs suffer from that loss as well.

The proper solution is for the quest for E37 and PAR 38 bulbs to fall back, and a new push for LED-specific fixtures to come to the fore. For residential use, a fixture wouldn't need "bulb level modularity" at all, as a lifetime set of LEDs would easily exceed the typical interior design style life anyway. For commercial applications, a different set of bulb-style modules would be in order, perhaps as a bar or strip of LEDs which is separate from the driver electronics. For LEDs, you could avoid globe-loss as well, and mount directly to a low-loss globe for efficient thermal and optical transfer.

I've built some home-made fixtures using the above approach, with LED stars mounted to metal fixtures for appls like CFL tube lights. I've had one LED star fail right away (a pre-mature death mode, it seems), but none of the others, in over a year of use. Check back in 10 years and I'll tell you how they're fairing long term. :)

Hi Paleo,

I think Cree is one of the more reputable players in the field. I've seen demos/mockups of the LR-6 and LR-4 and it's rather impressive. I wouldn't mind trying them out, but at $100.00+ per fixture, first cost is a bit of a hurdle for us. We have a client with dozens of 100-watt E17 mercury vapour recessed fixtures in their hallways where I think this product would work well, but the fixtures are 347-volt and I don't believe Cree supports this voltage.

Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences with the LR-6; this type of real world feedback is helpful and appreciated.


The energy emergency has arrived

Wednesday’s Sustainable Centre County page is all about energy ...

Is Pennsylvania the only part of the country that spells "centre" the proper way, rather than the more normal American way - center?