Drumbeat: November 29, 2010

Kurt Cobb: Peak oil and four principles of PR

Peak oil activists and the mass media have had a rocky relationship. Activists often don’t understand how the media works and can’t fathom why reporters and editors are not better informed about energy issues. Those working in the media are constrained by the interests of their advertisers, their corporate owners and the necessity of focusing on ratings and circulation.

There is a pervading sense in the peak oil community that those in the mass media “just don’t get it.” And, there is an inclination to criticize them for either their lack of curiosity or their blatant indifference. And, that brings me to my four principles of public relations...

Kurt Cobb: Literature and limits

Aristotle wrote that the desires of humans are unlimited. This is completely consistent with the modern notion proposed by Howard Odum of the Maximum Power Principle which states that biological systems seek to maximize their power intake. In the context of evolution it makes sense that those human beings who gathered the most energy to themselves in the form of food, heat, and even tools for self-defense, hunting and later farming were most likely to survive and produce offspring.

Mark Ruffalo 'added to terrorism watchlist' over Gasland

Actor Mark Ruffalo has reportedly been placed on a US terror advisory list after campaigning in support of a documentary highlighting the alleged dangers of natural gas drilling.

Ruffalo attracted the attention of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security when he organised screenings for Gasland, which won the special jury prize at this year's Sundance film festival, and said he was concerned about the impact of drilling on water supplies. The actor has addressed the subject in the latest edition of American GQ.

Shell Seeks to Sell Texas Fields for $1B

Shell Oil Co., the U.S. arm of the European oil giant Shell, has put its South Texas gas fields on the block, and a sale could fetch roughly $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Seeking cash, Chavez looks to sell Citgo

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez is promising to build new public housing complexes, boost social programs and renovate the long-neglected Caracas subway — and he needs money.

The ambitious plans will squeeze Venezuela's coffers at a time when oil earnings have slipped and Chavez is sending his foreign allies generous amounts of crude on credit. So he has raised a possibility that once seemed remote: selling off Venezuela's U.S.-based oil company, Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Lower 48 US Sept natgas output up from Aug-EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gross natural gas production in September in the lower 48 U.S. states rose 0.7 percent from upwardly revised August output, data released on Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

Gazprom settles gas dispute with Ukraine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz have agreed to settle a gas dispute dating back to 2008-09, reducing the potential threat to Russian gas supplies to Europe, Gazprom said on Monday.

Naftogaz will return 12.1 billion cubic metres of gas to RosUkrEnergo (RUE), a company jointly owned by Gazprom and Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash, while RUE will redeem $1.7 billion of debt to Naftogaz and $810 million to Gazprom.

PEMEX Keeps Oil Output Steady in

The PEMEX oil production in the first ten months of the year, remained stable over the same period of 2009 to close to two million 582 thousand barrels per day on average.

Russian govt approves additional expenses for Sakhalin-1 project for 2010 - energy ministry

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government has approved additional budget expenses for the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project for 2010, the Energy Ministry said on Monday, without mentioning the size of the new budget.

The government has also approved an amended program of work and spending for infrastructure development which will be used as the basis for further annual spending plans.

Gazprom in discussion with Shell over Sakhalin assets swap

Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell are preparing a joint memorandum on their participation in each others' assets, including Shell's share of oil and gas deposits off Russia's Pacific island of Sakhalin, Gazprom's Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said on Monday.

Saudi Aramco to develop six power stations

Dubai: Saudi Arabian Oil Co plans to develop six power stations worth an estimated $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) due to concerns within the company over the ability of the kingdom's main power generator, Saudi Electricity Co, to provide the required level of electricity supplies, Middle East Economic Digest (Meed) reported in its latest weekly edition.

Tullow Oil: First Oil From Jubilee Field In Ghana Scheduled For Dec 15

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Tullow Oil PLC, Anadarko Petroleum, Kosmos Energy, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Sabre Oil and Gas and E.O. Group said Monday that First Oil from the Jubilee field, offshore Ghana, is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Heritage Uganda talks 'going well'

Uganda's negotiations with Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil over a disputed $404 million tax payment are going "well", although there was no certainty when it can be resolved, junior Energy Minister Simon D'Ujanga said today.

Athabasca readies development plans

Canada's Athabasca Oil Sands Corporation expects to file regulatory application for the first phase of Hangingstone and Dover West projects in the second half of 2011.

Swaziland: Govt Depots Run Out of Fuel

In most of the Rural Development Areas (RDAs) tractors were parked despite the fact this was farming season and the minister has been telling farmers to take advantage of the rains currently received in country.

Some of farmers paid government for the services of the tractors two months ago but to date they have not ploughed their fields. Shortage

ANALYSIS - WikiLeaks expose hidden Gulf views on Iran

(Reuters) - The disclosure in leaked U.S. cables that Gulf Arab leaders want Washington to destroy Iran's nuclear programme exposes long-hidden views that will kill any chance of detente with Tehran.

From Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, to tiny Bahrain, Gulf Arab rulers revealed a reality they had spent years trying to hide publicly.

Lufthansa to start using biofuel on local flights

BERLIN — Germany's biggest airline, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, says it will launch the world's first passenger flight using biofuel next year.

The culture of crisis

Apparently, many newscasters, writers, commentators, politicians and bloggers believe their own hype—even those who should know better. The paranoid style in American politics is no longer confined to the radical right as it largely was when historian Richard Hofstadter first diagnosed it in his classic book. It has now spread beyond politics and into the culture at large, infecting nearly everything it touches, transforming otherwise thoughtful Americans into modern-day doomsayers anxiously awaiting imminent civilisational collapse.

Living small looms large amid real estate bust

To save money or simplify their lives, a small but growing number of Americans are buying or building homes that could fit inside many people's living rooms, according to entrepreneurs in the small house industry.

Some put these wheeled homes in their backyards to use as offices, studios or extra bedrooms. Others use them as mobile vacation homes they can park in the woods. But the most intrepid of the tiny house owners live in them full-time, paring down their possessions and often living off the grid.

Copenhagen plans bike superhighways

COPENHAGEN -- Copenhagen, one of the world's most bicycle-friendly cities, has begun turning its extensive network of cycle paths into bike highways in an effort to push more commuters to leave their cars at home.

Population control to be debated at OFC 2011

The political and moral minefield of population control will be debated at the 2011 Oxford Farming Conference running from 4-6 January 2011.

Professor Aubrey Manning, Emeritus Professor at Edinburgh University and Patron of the Optimum Population Trust, will set the scene in the main conference by addressing issues of global resources and our ability to feed the world.

The population debate then is met head on the evening of the 5th January with the Conference’s famed Oxford Union Debate. The motion is: "This house believes unrestrained population growth and food security are incompatible."

James Hansen Is Optimistic On Global Warming (Because of China, Not Us)

Hansen just got back from China, and sees the Chinese as getting serious about doing something about global warming and climate change (unlike Washington, which looks to be stuck in gridlock for the next two years).

“I have the impression,” he says in a recent email, “that Chinese leadership takes a long view, perhaps because of the long history of their culture, in contrast to the West with its short election cycles. At the same time China has the capacity to implement policy decisions rapidly. The leaders seem to seek the best technical information and do not brand as a hoax that which is inconvenient. This is not to say that fossil fuel interests have no power within China, but they do not rule the roost.”

A Mundane Approach to a Vexing Problem

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Building codes are not exactly the stuff of a rollicking supper-table conversation. But experts say that they are among the most straightforward and cost-effective ways to cut energy costs in buildings, which account for about 40 percent of energy use in the United States and Europe because of the need for amenities like heating, cooling and lighting.

Crude Oil Trades Near 10-Day High on Cold Weather in Europe, Debt Measures

Oil traded at the highest price in two weeks on speculation cold weather in Europe will increase fuel demand.

Futures rose as much as 1.5 percent as traders bet subfreezing temperatures and forecasts of snow throughout Europe will boost consumption of motor and heating fuel. Oil trimmed gains as the euro declined after European governments and the International Monetary Fund extended an aid package to Ireland.

Demand pushes oil prices up

It seems that the party is continuing in the oil market in November as, on average, it is the forth consecutive month for prices to maintain their upward movement. The price of the Opec basket of crudes (OBC) continued for the whole month over $80 (Dh293) per barrel to the extent that some analysts are suggesting a new range to emerge and that this level may become a floor.

Talk of $100 Oil Returns as Options Jump Most in 3 Months

Oil’s return to $100 has become the biggest bet in the crude options market.

The price of options to buy December 2011 futures at $100 a barrel jumped 14 percent on Nov. 24, the largest one-day gain in three months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. So-called open interest for the contract has risen 51 percent this year to 45,424 lots, the highest for any crude option on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Co-operation key to Middle East energy security

MENA states should co-operate on developing energy infrastructure as they seek to meet the region's increasing domestic demand for oil, gas and electricity, according to a senior Dubai energy official.

Nejib Zaafrani, the secretary general and chief executive of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said the region should meet the challenge of supplying energy to its rapidly expanding population by transforming it into an opportunity to work together on "visionary" projects .

"Energy is at the core," he said at the World Economic Summit in Dubai during a public debate on energy security.

China Halts Gas Price Increases in Some Provinces, CNR Reports

Chinese provinces including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Henan halted plans to increase natural gas costs after the government called for stable prices, China National Radio reported today without citing anyone.

Hebei province won’t raise gas prices this year while Anhui will refrain from increasing heating, water, gas and public transportation costs before the end of March next year, China National Radio reported.

Russia's TNK-BP eyes oil export hike

(Reuters) - TNK-BP, Russia's venture of BP, is looking to almost double export of crude and oil products as it opens a trading unit in Geneva, a company official said on Monday.

Russia's Gazprom ready to negotiate lower prices for European clients

The world's largest gas export monopoly, Russia's Gazprom, said on Monday it was ready to cut prices on its long-term contracts to Europe as the volume of paid for but undelivered gas mounted, Gazprom said on Monday.

Gazprom, which supplies Europe with a quarter of its energy needs, has come under fire from customers who started buying gas on the spot market where prices are lower than on long-term contracts preferred by Gazprom. Gazprom had to relent as the international financial crisis cut demand.

Edison Plans to Renegotiate Supply Contracts, Purchase Azeri Gas in 2011

The Milan-based company, which uses gas in power generation and supplies it direct to customers, posted a 54 percent decline in third-quarter profit because of supply deals signed when oil prices were higher. Edison’s suppliers include Russia, Algeria, Libya, Norway and Qatar and European gas contracts are typically linked to crude prices. Quadrino said changing the terms of existing gas supply contracts and agreeing purchases from Azerbaijan will set the scene for growth next year.

Russia's Gazprom says plans to double number of gas filling stations in Russia

Russia's gas giant Gazprom plans to double the number of gas filling stations in the country next year by building 200 stations, the company said on Monday.

Gazprom manages 202 automobile compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations out of Russia's 235. Last year the group sold 297 million cubic meters of CNG, or 90% of all CNG sold in Russia.

Nigeria Oil-Region Fighting Threatens Production in Challenge to Jonathan

A year after thousands of fighters laid down their arms under a government amnesty program, militants this month struck an Exxon Mobil Corp. offshore platform, Afren Plc’s shallow water field and a pipeline supplying crude to two refineries. They also clashed with government troops and vowed more raids.

“Any increase in violence is likely to affect oil output,” Mark Schroeder, director of Africa analysis at Strategic Forecasting Inc., an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence group, said in a telephone interview. “And the impact of that is felt not only in the country but globally in terms of higher oil prices, even here in the U.S.”

New Iraq cabinet to foucs on oil laws

Iraq's new government will prioritise work on new hydrocarbon legislation to reassure international oil companies and integrate oil contracts signed in Kurdistan, a government spokesman said today.

U.K. Isle of Grain LNG Terminal's Expansion Delayed, National Grid Says

The Isle of Grain liquefied natural gas terminal near London may not have a fourth expansion for two years or more, according to the head of National Grid Plc.

China tax wrangle hits drilling activity

The row over import tariffs between Chinese customs authorities and China Offshore Oil Engineering Corporation (COOEC), the engineering arm of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), has caused problems for contractors supplying rigs and vessels for activity off China.

Initial Drilling Confirms Leviathan Field Off Israel Contains Natural Gas

Initial drilling results showed that Israel’s offshore Leviathan field contains natural gas, according to partner Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP.

The results don’t yet indicate the size, quality or economic viability of the project, the company said in a statement today to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Details are expected to be released in about two weeks, Ratio said.

Kuwait to spend $A93bn on oil projects

OPEC member Kuwait plans to spend as much as $US90 billion ($A93.53 billion) on oil projects inside and outside the country over the next five years, a top oil executive said on Monday.

"About 90 billion dollars will be spent over the next five years to achieve our strategy," said Hashim al-Refaai, managing director for planning with Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC), the emirate's national oil conglomerate.

Iran Scientist Killed Today Worked on Nuclear Project

A physicist working on Iran’s nuclear program was killed in a bombing in Tehran and another scientist was injured in a second blast, authorities said.

Majid Shahriari died early today as he was heading to his teaching job at Shahid Beheshti University, state-run news agencies including Mehr reported. Fereydoun Abasi, a physicist at the same university, was injured along with his wife, Mehr said. The bombs were attached to their cars by magnets, Hossein Sajedinia, Tehran’s police chief, was cited as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

GDF, Iberdrola, SSE link up for UK nuclear

LONDON (Reuters) - A third consortium planning to build new nuclear power plants in Britain and which groups a French, a Spanish and a British utility was was formally founded on Monday, the companies said.

France's GDF Suez, Spain's Iberdrola and Britain's Scottish and Southern Energy will make a final investment decision as to whether to build 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear power generation in the UK around 2015.

Sustainability in the region requires subsidy reduction

Sustainable development in the Gulf will not work until governments reduce subsidies on water and energy, Masdar's former director of property development told the World Economic Forum open panel on "cities of the future" in Dubai.

"There is no business case for sustainability in the Gulf," Khaled Awad, who left Masdar last year, said yesterday. "Sustainability today is just wishful thinking."

East Asian Welfare Regimes

All the countries in East Asia confront rapid ageing as well as the challenge from cheap labor in the other developing countries. The pressure is also being ramped up by the apparently inexorable post-peak oil rise in conventional energy and other resource costs, not to mention the increasingly unstable US dollar-based global financial architecture. And Japan’s unparalleled public sector debt-dependent model of offering seemingly endless life-support for vested interests seems to warrant a special category of its own. But overall, this snapshot of diverse policy evolution within the region is as useful as a Google map for looking at these countries as they seek to grow out of the vulnerability of export dependence and towards more robust and sustainable domestic consumption.

Indonesia’s Billion-Dollar Forest Deal Is at Risk

A report by Greenpeace last week accused Indonesian government ministries of planning for massive land clearance, despite signing a $1 billion REDD agreement with Norway earlier this year. The agreement, which includes a two-year moratorium on clearing natural forests and carbon-rich peatlands, is aimed at helping Indonesia, which by some counts is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, reach a target of cutting emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020.

China approves more hydropower amid clean energy push

(Reuters) - China has approved several new hydropower projects recently, in a sign that the government is speeding up development of clean energy after an approvals slowdown in recent years because of concerns including environmental impact.

Sandstone solution to cheaper roads?

One gets an uneasy feeling watching the inexorable upward trend in oil prices, knowing that the price of liquid asphalt cement can’t help but follow.

So, some people are thinking, instead of paving with asphalt, why not use stone — sandstone to be exact, sandstone that is manufactured in place using a biological process.

Reforms needed before we drill in the Arctic

The fact remains that no one - not the Coast Guard, not BOEMRE, not the oil industry, not even The Wilderness Society - knows what a serious oil spill would do to the Arctic Ocean, from the costs of cleaning it up to the impacts it will have on the fragile marine habitat for whales, seals and polar bears. Before allowing new Arctic Ocean drilling, the Obama administration should realistically assess the likely effects of spills and ensure that needed regulations and enforcement resources exist. Likewise, Congress needs to ensure drilling safety and environmental protection by increasing oil spill liability limits and providing protection for whistleblowers.

Close-Up: Oil Litters Bottom Of The Gulf Of Mexico

The four million barrels of oil from the BP spill didn't vanish. There's growing evidence that a good portion of it sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where some remains. NPR's Richard Harris spotted some of the oil while he was on board the research submarine Alvin.

Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus

In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found.

Use 37% Less Power By Talking to Friends and Family

It's been tagged the 'kitchen table conversation' approach. And if a recent trial is anything to go by it works. "Participants ... cut power use by 37 per cent and their carbon footprint by 27 per cent," says Paul Graham, one of the projects proponents. Now the search is on to find 500 folk who'll act as convenors of these kitchen conversations with family, friends, neighbours or workmates on the topics of energy, climate change, water and waste.

DuPont, Zurich Chase $135 Billion Climate Market as Warming Forces Change

Seed maker DuPont Co., wind-turbine manufacturer General Electric Co. and insurer Zurich Financial Services AG are devising products to help the world adapt to climate change, a potential $135 billion-a-year market by 2030.

The companies are driven in part by the failure of international efforts to cut the greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to global warming.

States Diverting Money From Climate Initiative

In just over two years, the initiative, known as RGGI, has generated more than $729 million for the 10 states that have participated. Each state is supposed to use its share of the money raised to invest in renewable energy and to promote energy efficiency and consumer benefits, like programs that help low-income electricity customers pay their utility bills.

But the money is proving too much of a temptation for states not to use in other ways.

Africa rejects joint stand with EU on climate

TRIPOLI (AFP) – African nations are refusing to sign a joint statement with the European Union on climate change on the grounds that the proposal does not reflect the continent's priorities, diplomats said on Monday.

Wind seems knocked out of Obama's climate agenda

The fight over U.S. environmental policy will shift next year as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, leaving the Obama administration chasing smaller victories in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What's dead for now is the ambitious climate bill that President Obama had backed, which sought to commit the U.S. to reduce industrial pollution 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Companies that came in under those caps could trade, or sell, their pollution credits to others.

Worst case study: global temp up 7.2F degrees by 2060s

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - World temperatures could soar by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the 2060s in the worst case of global climate change and require an annual investment of $270 billion just to contain rising sea levels, studies suggested on Sunday.

Such a rapid rise, within the lifetimes of many young people today, is double the 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) ceiling set by 140 governments at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last year and would disrupt food and water supplies in many parts of the globe.

Last week NJ declared a few counties as agricultural disaster areas because of this year's drought. This weekend, after talking with a few farmers, I find that decent quality hay is hard to find in NJ.

Seeing how inconsistent this summer's global weather was, this now concerns me.

I have heard some of the same in the Northeast. Two neighbors who keep herds (one grass-fed beef, one organic dairy) are scrambling to find enough hay to feed this winter.

I wonder if the Wikileak stories will affect who gets (to buy) Saudi Arabian oil?

Don't know, but apparently SA pressured China to put pressure on Iran in exchange for access to Saudi Oil. Thus far, I have not read anything about SA putting pressure on the U.S. except that the cables reveal that we know full well that many Saudis still provide money to Al Qaeda.

Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.

Don't see any evidence that U.S. has taken any action against SA, but then there are thousands of cables which I have not read. Oil has power, however, so I would be surprised if any pressure has been exerted by the U.S.

Saudis didn't get everything they wanted, apparently...

Saudi King Wants a U.S. Military Strike on Iran

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah repeatedly pushed the U.S. to attack Iran, according to the U.S. ambassador there. “Cut off the head of the snake,” the king said in 2008, requesting a military strike against Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. The Saudi government also called for “severe U.S. and international sanctions on Iran.” Israel also urged action, labeling 2010 a critical year. A June 2009 message describes Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak outlining a “window between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable.” After that, said Barak, “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage” Other cables show that the U.S. believes Iran has received advanced missiles from North Korea capable of striking Moscow and Europe.

In the "I guess we will probably never know" department, a lingering question that I have is to what degree that resistance from the military played a role in Bush's decision not to attack Iran. I have previously posted the link to Ret. Lt. General Newbold's 2006 essay in Time, in which he implied that officers have a constitutional duty, in some circumstances, to refuse to carry out orders from superiors:

Why Iraq was a mistake (2006)

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.

When one enlists in the United States Military, active duty or reserve, they take the following oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

There is the concept of an unlawful order defined in the UCMJ:

An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.


I was involved in a case where an order was "refused" as being unlawful. A preliminary hearing found that, while the order may not have been unlawful, it was ambiguous and could have been interpreted as unlawful. Everyone "saved face" though the officer's career took a big hit. This is a seriously crappy situation for a member of the military to be in. I found myself requesting (in writing) clarification (in writing) of an order on two occasions. Problem solved.

As WT noted, Officers swear to uphold/defend the Constitution:

Officers, upon commission, swear the following:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.

This affirmation of constitutional allegiance is the same one used for the Senate and House members.

Many need to go back and give it a careful read.

One would think that where the stuff really hit the fan was in regard to discussions over the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iran. I wouldn't be surprised if Bush/Cheney were told that key officers would refuse to carry out the orders.

I've always wondered what the holdup is with attacking Iran? Must be something holding them (US/Israel) back (China/Russia?).

I feel sorry for the Iranian people, to have those clowns in control of their country (I know the feeling).

Rick Steves visited there about a year or so ago. Beautiful country, nice people.

Maybe it is because it is a beautiful country with nice people. Our attempts to simply take out evil leaders in countries in the middle east hasn't worked out so well in the last several years. There seems to be a lot of collateral damage both to the country in question, and the country attacking, in this case the U.S.

Given the apparent fact that Iran has missiles that can reach Europe, perhaps we should ask the Europeans why they are not interested in attacking Iran.

While Israel has claimed that we must attack immediately, not everyone is convinced that Iran is an eminent nuclear threat. Where is the evidence that the U.S. considers Iran a nuclear threat.

As for Saudi Arabia encouraging us to attack, I'd say we tell SA to go for it themselves.

China's oil?

well, it appears that the clowns are in control in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya.
By contrast, Iran could be said to be run by some pretty smart cookies.

After all, up to now they have managed to forestall a preemptive attack on their nascent nuclear industry, while...
they are surrounded on all sides by all the armaments a belligerent superpower can muster.

Their coreligionists conspire against them.

In Lebanon their clients heroically fended off the vaunted IDF.

For attempting to assert their legal rights under the NPT, they get demonized in the world press and made pariahs
Their top scientists get targeted for assassination.

They have elections, and their leadership has taken a calculated risk to do what they feel they must for their own people with full awareness of the price they may have to pay.
Their leadership, in contrast to much of the rest of the Islamic world, are definitely NOT clowns.

But they are not OUR clowns, and that is the problem.

It would be madness to attack Iran. Not quite like invading Russia in the winter, but almost as bad...

President Ahmadinejad may be a clown, but I suspect the real leaders are quite smart.

Iranians are also proud and tough. They fought off the Iraqis, and they would fight off the Americans as well.

If we ever did invade Iran, that would hasten the decline of our Empire - 5 years instead of 10.

There is no motivation to fight Iran, the U.S. has been mired in conflict for nearly a decade at this point.

I've always wondered what the holdup is with attacking Iran?

If you like the casualty rate in Iraq, you'll love the casualty rate if you invade Iran. It has nearly 3 times the population and 4 times the land area of Iraq. Iran's population is much less likely to be cooperative with US troops than that of Iraq, and it has highly permeable borders with a large number of unstable countries of only marginal friendliness with the US - some of which have nuclear weapons of their own, and all of which have vast numbers of AK-47s and RPGs for sale to the highest bidder.

I am often amazed at how little Americans know of foreign countries. That's what got the US into Iraq. Iran could be much worse.

In 1953 the governments of the US and UK conspired to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and impose a harsh dictatorship on them with the goal of getting access to their oil. Everyone in Iran knows the details of that - how many people in the US and UK do? Do they think the Iranians will believe them if they tell them that they are bringing democracy to Iran?

Wonder if it will affect this at all?

Saudi Arabia has been given the green light by the administration to spend $60 billion on some 84 new F-15 aircraft, dozens of the latest helicopters, and other missiles, bombs, and high-tech military products from the US weapons industry.

Saudi is simply supporting the world economy by recirculating petrodollars. It has nothing to do with Iran, or any kind of international military tension.

The key defence expenditures of Saudi Arabia are those for the latest state security technologies, which as elsewhere are purchased in order to defend the regime.

Looking at this from a practical percpective, are we (US) in danger of losing any oil imports because this? Have we ticked anyone off to the point of them selling to other customers... instead of us? I need to know if I need to buy another scarf! Otherwise, its really entertaining, I think.

This whole thing could bring back snail mail in diplomatic pouches.

It does not appear that these were transit intercepts. In any case strong encryption and one-time pads for secrets would be able to get the message safely back.
Just from the shear number, someone must have had access to the US side of the diplomatic email system. Unless messages like these stay on eyes-only paper, (unlikely in 2010) they would eventually show up in a machine readable and copyable database somewhere. If the database was logged and monitored, it's likely that a wholesale copy could be detected.

I'm still waiting to see if there are any peak oil or climate change related messages. I'm not sure if I will be more surprised if there is traffic on these topics, or if there was no traffic.

re Worst case study: global temp up 7.2F degrees by 2060s

If anyone is interested in reading the papers behind the headline see link below


Its interesting, and rather scary, that already we seem to have lost the ability to hold the global temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade, with a rise of 4 degrees now considered to be the new norm.

Worst case results (outside of the standard deviation in statistics, or in the minority of outputs of climate models), though, are not weighted very highly in decision making. The Most Likely case is itself grim enough, but here again I think we see a bit of tone-deafness on the part of environmentally concerned activists.

Mark Lynas's "Six Degrees" came out only a year ago, and already two thirds of it is useless for its original purpose--to warn us about situations we should avoid. Four degrees C is really, really bad news.

US oil demand was 19.507 mb/d in September (up 913,000 b/d YoY).


Making the Consumer an Active Participant in the Grid

The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, is a lawyer and a public servant. But he is also a visionary, which makes him something of an oddity.

In his view, the energy future of the United States looks radically different from its past. Most notably, he sees consumers as active parts of the grid, providing energy via their own solar panels or wind turbines, a system called distributed generation; stabilizing the grid by adjusting demand through intelligent appliances or behavior modification, known as demand response; and storing energy for various grid tasks. He thinks consumers should get paid to provide these services.

Clearly, Jon Wellinghoff 'gets it' when it comes to electric power. I was pleasantly surprised throughout the entire article at how the ideas attributed to Wellinghoff were very much in sync with what I heard at the recent Future Energy Conference in Seattle.

I believe that we will still have electricity and a grid even as we experience shortages of liquid fuels. So it's very encouraging to read that people at the highest levels are actively envisioning a distributed power future that is so radically different from the present.

Eventually, everything we do will be electrically powered. The transition from where we are today to that future will be long and arduous but also filled with opportunity for creative engineers. If I were to give advice to anyone interested in going to school for engineering it would be to pursue a degree related to electric power combined with information technology. That's where a lot of public and private dollars will be spent in the coming decades.

Best Hopes for distributed power 'services'.


I would view active citizen participation in power generation to be a wonderful thing (akin to having people growing or at least partnering with local farmers who grow their food). Power and food have both come to us far too easily and it has made us stupid about the consequences of our choices.

But I have to wonder about the ability of people who can barely balance a check book (and I've known many who couldn't) to become active participants in maintaining and managing what is, in essence, a power generation facility.

We are a button pushing people. How do we get people to make intelligent choices about power usage? My gut reaction is that many are incapable of participating in the sort of citizen-based, distributed power-generating scheme that you speak of.

Yes, these are the very same consumers that complain that they get hit with a $35 overdraft fee every time they buy a latte at Starbucks using their overdrawn ATM account.

One way it to allow people the opportunity to buy into a 'community' generation operation. There is a community-owned solar field in Davis, California that has gone that route.

Buy shares in a wind farm. Supply capital for building even more wind farms and use the profits to offset your energy bill.

Another is rooftop solar. There's little to no maintenance. Even the occasional cleaning could be done by the lawn or pool maintenance people.

Intelligence usage will come with smart meters. Once people realize that they are using significantly more electricity than are those living similar lifestyles many will be willing to look for solutions. Perhaps something as simple as getting rid of that extra refer in the garage that holds nothing but a couple cans of beer.

And by reducing dumb choices. Raise efficiency levels for appliances, TVs, cars, lights, etc. If the only choices are between "good" and "even better" no one is going to choose "terrible".

I think you need to get out more, Bob. I know far too many people, seemingly smart people, successful college grads who don't give a hoot about efficiency or change; their sense of entitlement is complete; their lifestyles non-negotiable. Oh sure, when their energy costs rise, they bitch and blame the liberals (somehow it's always the liberals' fault), write the check, hop in their Escalade and drive 50 miles to have dinner after golf at a friend's Country Club. These aren't the uber-riche, they are the mainstream American bourgeois. They will (and do) fight subsidies, regulations, incentives, and resist legislation designed to accomplish all of the sensible things you propose. They love the idea of a Tea Party/Sarah Palin sweep in 2012 (I've already seen the bumper stickers), and they love the idea of American Imperialism.

They are currently lobbying to eliminate much of the Federal Govt., including the Departments of Energy, Health, Agriculture and Education. They've elected people like this to our State Senate:


..and to Federal Govt.

Only an economic wipeout, collapse, stands the chance of countering this level of hubris. The time for the scale of change you forward has run out. I have reached this point of realization with great sadness.

Didn't you say you live in Humboldt County?

I hear what Ghung is saying and I have to agree with his assessment. What we are talking about is the wholescale abandonment of a worldview that has been a century in the making. I could get really excited about democratization of power generation, but the old paradigm is going to have to be completely discredited -- read "completey smashed, broken, left in a smoking ruin" - before that sort of change can occur.

I could get really excited about democratization of power generation, but the old paradigm is going to have to be completely discredited -- read "completey smashed, broken, left in a smoking ruin" - before that sort of change can occur.

But isn't this exactly what is happening right now?

I know a lot of people expect 'collapse' or whatever to happen on the timescale of one or two years. But I'm expecting it to happen over a couple of decades. On that timescale we are already seeing the beginnings of such a change in different places and on different time lines. Ask anyone under 30 if they expect a corporate pension or ever expect to get anything out of social security. Around here the typical response is "Yeah, Right."

William Gibson is credited with saying: "The future is already here -- it's just not evenly distributed." I think that's a fair assessment of the situation.


Ask anyone under 30 if they expect a corporate pension or ever expect to get anything out of social security. Around here the typical response is "Yeah, Right."

I think the American middle class understands that they are fixing to get a whupping. The problems arise when they start looking for someone to blame.

I am in general agreement with you: big changes have already begun. I also believe that for those in the right place, with the foresight and creativity to take advantage of the changes, there will be the opportunity for "better things ahead."

That said, I am inclined to think that any solution which assumes large-scale participation -- even large scale acquiesence -- of the American population, is doomed to failure. If your plan for a better future relies on coercion (taxation, legal statutes, etc.), you just aren't going to succeed.

Sounds like we're on exactly the same page.

The quote rings true. The collapse is already slowly swirling. The truth is lost among 1000's of posts and 100's of drumbeat stories.

You are both discounting the effect of younger generations who are growing up in a different world than the one that lulled the SUV set into violent complacency.

"You are both discounting the effect of younger generations ".....

....with a different world view than their parents..

Different how? Or: how different, really?

I can't live like my parents. First of all they are Greenspan's choosen generation, meaning they were inundated with all kinds of free money.

The free money created vast amounts of waste. Clothing fashions thrown away a year later. big SUV cars. All kinds of waste and trash. My mother replaced her kitchen wares to update. update what? A soup ladle or a cheese grater?

In any case, I cannot afford to live that way. I am as smart as my parents, but the World does not view this generation in the same way as the prior one.

So we are different and I think that is broadly true.

Simple thing to do. look in your parents refrigerator. look at all the wasted food. why do they waste food? It is an example of a generational difference imho.

If it helps, I might be your parents generation [40+], and I can't live like them either. My wife is not as bad as some, but that's only a 1/2 excuse. One irony is that we used to get our first items for setting up home from parents cast offs [furniture etc]. Nowadays it all gets junked because:

Kids aren't putting down roots - they can't.
The stuff nowadays was junk anyway.
The kids have 'aspirations' and want new junk.

It's bizzare and nauseating.

Only an economic wipeout, collapse, stands the chance of countering this level of hubris. The time for the scale of change you forward has run out. I have reached this point of realization with great sadness.

Cheer up Ghung! Didn't you get a chance to max out your credit card on Black Friday and buy a some hot new big screen TVs or some other must have electronic doodad? Well the good news is today is Cyber Monday and you can still sit down at your computer and spend! spend! spend! Why waste your time reading gloomy reality based sites like TOD when you can stop worrying and just be happy... As for me, I'm no longer sad, I'm frustrated and angry!

I find a little Tokaj helps with the frustration.

Relax, Fred. We're in motion; the best we can do is try to enjoy the ride.


Yes, I understand quite well that we are really in motion.

I just spoke to my mother who lives in Sao Paulo and we were in Hungary together over the summer. We ran into an aunt of mine in Hungary at a family gathering and we spoke briefly about the general situation in the US, she is quite well off by most standards, well long story short, my mother told me that she had just spoken with this aunt and that for the first time she was singing a very different tune than she has ever sung before. Apparently many of her well to do friends and relatives are starting to get hurt economically in a big way.

It's no great satisfaction to me but it seems that some of my ultra BAU relatives may even be ready to say that I'm not totally crazy after all...

Well I'm in South Florida at the moment and since there is no Tokaj at the corner bodega I might try a few shots of tequila in which to drown some of that anger and frustration >;^)

BTW, This is an interesting development in my opinion...

Inspired by tea party success, Latinos float ‘ Tequila Party’ grass-roots movement

Now there's a party I could partake in, so to speak.

...successful college grads who don't give a hoot about efficiency or change...

Oh, dear, here we go again. Consider the sort of "change" you and other posters are often promoting. Smart grid? That carries the whiff of someone with a schedule bursting at the seams being prevented from, say, doing the laundry when he or she is actually at home and available to get it done. Road pricing? That means the same person gets price-gouged for taking the kid to soccer practice when it's actually scheduled, rather than at three o'clock in the morning. Public transit? That means taking two hours that the same person doesn't even have, to make a half-hour trip - and, in more and more places lately, never on Sunday. Yet more regulations? That means even more anger-inducing price-gouging; useless bumf by the ton doesn't come free for the taking from $1k/hour lawyers. And so on.

Almost all actions of these sorts impose costs, some heavy, others petty but repetitive and infuriating. All those costs are paid ultimately by voters. Unless said voters have already auditioned into the AGW/resource-depletion "choir", they may well see the costs as capricious and arbitrary impositions by snobs on high horses, forced upon their own hapless, helpless selves in exchange for absolutely nothing. Hence the Tea Partiers. Really, it's simply utterly futile to get angry or frustrated that some voters refuse to pay through the nose for absolutely nothing.

There's two options for allocation of a scarce resource: by price or by rationing.

I agree with you price is a regressive policy that hits those worst off most and in the end does little to reduce usage in areas where people HAVE to use the resource.

The alternative is rationing, which hits everyone equally, but creates a black market almost overnight.

If you, or voters, don't like the sound of either then the only option left is government support to acquire technologies that reduce usage significantly - which only works if it the coffers aren't bare.

I wasn't really trying to focus on the regressivity (although it's certainly an issue that complicates the arguments), which is why I cited time costs as well as money costs.

I was simply observing that any energy/AGW deal on offer to the voters is bound to look pretty much like a costly boondoggle, nothing-for-something. The proffered benefits look pretty much like incomprehensible distant abstractions; there's nothing much tangible in the here-and-now. As long as that remains the case, we should not be surprised by more elections that turn out like the last one.

By the way, car-fuel rationing doesn't hit everyone equally, and never did. It's not uniform like basal metabolism: circumstances simply vary tremendously. The guy or gal who isn't paid enough to afford breathtaking downtown rents close to work, or who has to come in nights or Sundays when the buses or trains don't run worth anything, or don't run at all, and when walking to or from the stop is dangerous, is the one who gets kicked in the teeth. This person may well be the janitor, rather than the one with the nine to five weekday job in the nice office.

They will (and do) fight subsidies, regulations, incentives, and resist legislation designed to accomplish all of the sensible things you propose. They love the idea of a Tea Party/Sarah Palin sweep in 2012 (I've already seen the bumper stickers), and they love the idea of American Imperialism.

Let's not paint with too broad a brush here. I'm no Imperialist or teabagger and the prospect of a Palin presidency makes me cringe. Nonetheless, am generally anti-subsidy, and anti-government picking winners and losers. One of the common complaints I see here is about all the subsidies (hidden or direct) given to the oil and gas industries, which leaves sustainable/green energy producers at a distinct disadvantage. And that's the fundamental problem with most attempts at "regulation": regulatory capture.

Once major U.S. industries and the big banks realized there was no way to completely avoid regulation, they switched tactics: if you can't beat 'em, try to write 'em. End result U.S. 2010: most "regulation" is written by powerful paid industry lobbyists, aimed to specifically benefit those industries and corporations. Much of it is blantantly anti-competitive, and geared towards ensuring the continued profits and quasi-monopolies those institutions now enjoy --often at the expense of the working class, individual taxpayers, the environment, common sense, etc.

Do ya see now, Bob, why I think it's best you, I, and our like stick to our self-reliance strategies. Accomplishing the things you hope for will require a major national consolidation of effort/focus, a large profit potential, or both. Soon too.

Read the comments between your last and this one carefully.

We doubled the amount of residential rooftop solar last year. The initial EVs are pre-sold.

The Tea Party really didn't do all that much in this last election. Sure, a number of Democratic Representatives lost their seats, as one would expect in an off year following a change in party control of the White House. But not that many successful Republican Reps were actually Teabaggers. A few put on the ball cap for a photo-op, but most are your garden variety corporate servants. The Baggers did rather poorly in the Senate contest.

"Economic wipeout, collapse, ..." Bull hockey.

We're well on our way out of the most recent recession. And we're climbing out at about the same rate we've recovered from previous recessions. We have not run out of unobtainium.

We've got challenges ahead of us, a tightening oil supply which will cause price rises. But we have both elasticity and alternate technology to keep the damage under control. The good thing about rising prices is that we'll get our butts off of petroleum, quit pumping so much CO2 into our atmosphere, quit shipping a billion US dollars a day overseas, and create tons of new jobs here at home.

Are you trying to paper over how extremely deep long and severe this recession has been?



We may seem to be climbing out of it, but many of the problems that got us into it are still with us--a housing market out of wack and full of corruption; banks not lending and full of corruption; countries on the edge of financial collapse; resource limits starting to really take their toll.....

Yes, it could be that by some miracle we'll climb out of this hole, but there is every reason also that we will have a double dip (W), a very faint recovery (backwards J), or a permanent down step (L) or series there of with some modulation in between (OK, I'm out of letters--basically downward squiggle.)

And I can't completely share your optimism that our impoverishment will lead to all the virtues you present. For one thing, really dirty coal is still one of the cheapest fuel sources, and using more of it will not reduce our CO2 footprint.

But I have to wonder about the ability of people who can barely balance a check book (and I've known many who couldn't) to become active participants in maintaining and managing what is, in essence, a power generation facility.

Well, if you have a grid-tied solar PV system, about the only maintenance & managing is occasionally hosing it off if too much dust accumulates on it.

If there is another problem, you just call the local installer. And then you just basically replace the element that broke but is covered under warranty.

I don't know, spec. I see there being a lot more to this than simply hosing off your PV panels once in a while.

We've not joined the PV club yet but expect that we eventually will. One of the things that has been driven home to me in my study of PV is that the cost/watt of PV is high, hence, the average Joe/Josephine is always going to be limited as to what he/she can power with sunlight. To make the transition to a PV powered home, the average person will have to become saavy about a lot of concepts that they would rather not think about. No more "beer refrigerators" in the garage. No more televisions in every bedroom. No more houses lit up like factories. Living on PV will mean structuring your entire day around a constrained energy supply. This won't be BAU with an hour on Saturday devoted to hosing off the PVs while you wash the family car.

I am not saying that this scale of change is not possible. I simply think it will take a couple of generations of deprivation before this change might occur. And by that time, it is possible that we will have more urgent concerns than managing household electricity usage.

I've been off the grid, PV, for more than 20 years. Hosing off is all they need. It helps if the angle is changed 4x a year, but lots of rooftop installations never get adjusted.

At least a couple of studies have shown that once people get smart meters and immediate feedback on their electricity use those beer refers go away.

One is not likely to 'live off PV'. It makes far more sense to stay on the grid rather than dealing with storage and backup issues. But it is at the point where most people can pay less for electricity over the long run by installing solar.

Remember, the 8, 10, 12 year span during which your electricity savings are paying for your panels you've locked in your power price at current rates. And at the end of the payoff you have an investment in capital equipment which will give you another 10, 20, 30 or more years of free electricity.

Basically you pay (possibly) a little more for your electricity for a few years and then get free power for many, many more.

Nicely put. I am a bit concerned about future theft as more cleptos understand how valuable those dark things on peoples roofs are.

I wonder if PV systems will eventually come with car alarm type systems?

The Nissan Leaf has an issue regarding range anxiety that GM hopes the Volt can capitalize on. Now comes grid anxiety for both the Leaf and the Volt:


The Leaf marketing stategy is to introduce it into environmentally conscious cities first. The prime targets are upscale cities in California.

They intend to target the wealthy and the crowd that just has to have the latest thing. The neighbors of this bunch often are those who try to keep up the Joneses.

This may result in several electric cars or plug in hybrids resided on the same block and attempting to recharge at the same time putting stress on local power lines and transformers.

Not since air conditioning spread across the country was the power industry faced with such a potential surge in consumption. We all know what can happen on a hot evening when everybody comes home and turns on the A/C. This is nothing compared to what that Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt can do to the circuitry.

The article has 67 comments at the moment which is a lot for TTAC.

I love the discussion of a potential problem when Nissan and chevy are only releasing 10,000 cars each.

How on earth can grid load be an issue with such a small release of EV cars?

It can't. I imagine that Smart metering will be required with higher adoption rates of EVs. But when will that be?

Perhaps it will be a problem. But I look around and fail to see that many Hybrids. How on Earth are there going to be massive numbers of EVs even in a 3-5 year period? Impossible if you ask me. Just shrill -- political shrill aimed at connecting Obama or whoever to the green agenda or whatever. Worthless political banter which paralyzes the country.


The home charging dock will require a 220/240V 40 amp dedicated circuit connected to a breaker. The charging dock will need to be hard-wired directly to the circuit by a certified electrician.


There will be a portable 120 V unit (R) that can be plugged into any standard receptacle. It will be able to recharge the car fully in 6 hours at 12 amps or 8 hours at 8 amps. The other device option (L) is a 240 V stationary wall-mounted unit that has to be installed in the owners garage per code. This unit running at 16 amps can recharge the Volt in 3 hours.

The 240 volt branch circuits would be similar to those required for an electric range, clothes dryer or hot water heater.

by a certified electrician

Do I smell restraint of trade? In my jurisdiction, home electrical work can be undertaken by the homeowner. Inspection is required for most work. And is advisable, and not just for insurance coverage.

All this is true, electrical modifications require permits and inspections, but the owner can do the actual work him or her self. The problem is that most homeowners do not keep up with the industry and may in fact make a mistake that ends up not doing what the owner wanted, or ends up leaving the home with a safety problem waiting to happen.

There are enough licensed electrical contractors that the actual cost of hiring one is usually worth the peace of mind that results.


If the homeowner does it wrong, it fails inspection. As long as things are inspected by competent inspectors, it will be safe. And it is good for people know some wiring basics.

This unit running at 16 amps can recharge the Volt in 3 hours.

This would be a 20 amp 240 volt circuit. These plugs look just like the standard 120 volt ones, except the two blades are flat instead of vertical. This is smaller and less power than used for dryers and ranges, (30 to 50 amps).

That article is fear-mongering garbage. The adoption rate of EVs will be slow such that the utilities can easily keep up with needed grid upgrades.

But the truth is that little will be needed as far as upgrades as long as smart-metering is done. You put in a smart meter and sell people electricity for 5 cents/KWH from 10pm to 5am (or whatever the proper hours are). Then all the EV owners will program their cars to only charge during those hours of cheap electricity . . . when there is no other load.

There is so much spare capacity out there that 73% of the cars on the road could switch to electric over night and the grid could still handle it as is provided all the charging is done at night. Don't take my word for it, take the word of the PNNL run by the DoE:

You are right for owners doing their charging at night but I don’t like to ever let my fuel fall below 50%. If there are many like me, we will soon want to charge where we park during business hours and at destinations on trips. The upshot of this is that much charging will end up being in the daytime and more electrical generation will be required.

The truth is expanding the infrastructure with charging stations in public places and providing cheap electricity will hasten the change over to EVs and this is the direction our utility companies should be incentivized to go. I am not challenging the fear mongering, but it makes sense to lead with the infrastructure because the manufacturers of EVs will need to have a market for their cars.

Of course I also want to see the rails electrified in the same time period -- I am suggesting that more electricity generating capacity will encourage the right decisions with market forces and it does not matter too much whether the new electricity is nuclear, solar, or wind. Just as long as it is ready.

I doubt daytime charging will amount to a hill of beans in the near term.

Show me the problems. Then propose the solutions. Very very few of these cars will be on the roads. Let the markeplace sort out the issues.

I doubt daytime charging will amount to a hill of beans in the near term.

At the current (and any possible rate for the next few years at least) of adoption of EVs and plugins I can safely say the increase in PV capacity (small as it is) is many times more than will be needed to charge the paltry numbers of electric vehicles.

The part I was referring to would be the charging stations which will need local mods to the infrastructure. Not the grid per se, but a few spaces at job sites and destinations will encourage the Janes and Joes of the world that an EV is useful enough to be purchased sooner rather than later. I respect that the power consumption will be there until we have a lot more EVs on the road. The problem is the usefulness of the EV. If it can be recharged away from the home charging station, then more users will opt for it.

Good point and some job sites are already installing plug in parking spots. Even if you had to pay peak rates for a bit of power now and then to make an EV work for you you'd still be way ahead of buying gasoline.

The highest peak-hour price I've heard for electricity is in LA at $0.31/kWh. If you're driving an EV that uses 0.3kWh/mile you're looking at $0.09 per mile. You could fill up at night with cheap with ~$0.03/mile power, drive to work and top off with more expensive. That makes a 100 mile range EV work for 100+ mile RT commutes.

A 50MPG Prius burning $4/gallon gas costs $0.08/mile.

The highest peak-hour price I've heard for electricity is in LA at $0.31/kWh.

Boy I wish I could get that good a rate here in Santa Cruz California. We are on a five tier rate schedule with a summer peak power cost of from $0.306 baseline power to $0.572 for more than twice baseline. For off peak the price goes from $0.09 to $0.355 per kWh.

My September bill contains this cryptic message to explain some of the costs:

Generation includes charges for the portion of your energy usage provided by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and is being collected by PG&E as an agent for DWR. DWR is collecting 23.139 cents per kWh from Bundled customers for each kWh it provides plus the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment component of the Cost Responsibility Surcharge from Direct Access and Transitional Bundled Service

For daytime car charging you can bet you will be paying the 57 cents per kWh rate.

I agree that hesitant folks may like to see some more infrastructure.

Alas the good old power outlet is somewhat ubiquitous already at least.

A somewhat more official looking charging station that looks like a gasoline pump is not yet ubiquitous, but maybe part of this is cultural.

We are so used to sticking the nozzle thingy into the side of our car, then breathing in a little toluene and benzene and waiting for 3 or 4 minutes to fill 'er up.

EVs are different and will require more filling up for sure.

The local Public Utility District has a meeting about the future of the local power supply and options available. They are looking forward to electric cars. Most of the local power is hydroelectric, and they could really use a big nighttime load to even things out.

The houses in the area are pretty much all-electric, and the 200 amp services is standard. So charging circuits shouldn't be a problem. I could hardwire the charger into the welder circuit. 30A at 240 V, and I only weld in the day time. I could just put a plug on the car charger and use the welder outlet, but they don't want you to pull the plug under full load, which is actually a reasonable concern. BZZOTT! is a bad thing.

There are something like 250+ million registered passenger vehicles in the US. 10,000 a year is a drop in the bucket.

The future involves walking and riding bicycles.

The Leaf is being introduced in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. I'd call that three blue and two red.

The cost of the Leaf after the federal subsidy will be $25,000. In CA, due to the CA subsidy, the price will be $20,000. $22,500 in Tennessee. $21,000 in Texas.

The fuel savings from driving a Leaf as opposed to a 25MPG ICEV burning $4/gallon gas will be around $2k per year. The car pretty much pays for itself during the lifetime of the car. (And do any of your "OUR OIL IS RUNNING OUT!!" folks expect average gas prices as low as $4 for the next decade?)

This is not a car for the wealthy. It's a car for the smart average Joe/Jane who can do simple math and doesn't have a lifestyle in which they must frequently drive long distances.

Our grid is more that capable of absorbing far more EVs that will be produced for many years. Sure, a funky transformer here or there might fail a bit sooner than otherwise, but that's not a real issue. Utility companies know what is coming.

We've got tremendous extra capacity on the grid during late night off-peak hours when most EVs will get charged. Special off-peak rates are already being put into place and EVs are coming with timer-controlled chargers.

When it comes to solar cells, everyone is chasing the highest conversion efficiency. Although we’ve seen conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent achieved with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab is bringing this kind of efficiency to mass production with the announcement of its C3MJ+ solar cells which boast an average conversion efficiency of 39.2 percent.

As far back as 2006 Spectrolab was achieving conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent in the lab with its high-efficiency multi-junction concentrator solar cells and it reached a peak of 41.6 percent with a test cell last year, setting a new world record. The company’s newest terrestrial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell, called the C3MJ+, uses essentially the same technology as its record breaking test cell and follows on from its C3MJ solar cell in production since mid-2009 which boasts a conversion efficiency of 38.5 percent. The C3MJ+ solar cells

"Given the new cells' close similarity to our existing production cells, we believe that our current C3MJ customers will be able to easily upgrade for more efficiency," said Russ Jones, Spectrolab director of CPV Business Development.

Spectrolab claims the title of the world’s leading supplier of solar cells for satellites with its cells supplying power to around 60 percent of satellites currently in orbit, as well as the International Space Station. Boeing hopes to transfer that success to the terrestrial solar cell market with the new high-efficiency solar cells that are expected to be available from January. And it won’t be resting on its laurels. It expects Spectrolab will achieve a 40 percent average production efficiency for terrestrial solar cells in 2011.


One snag. It's a bit vague, but these appear to be concentrator cells. That means they'll need focusing optics, made either with finicky moving parts that are expensive to maintain, which wear out, and which must be absurdly overbuilt in order to handle routine wind loads; or else conceivably with complex multiple-reflecting mirrors that will need constant cleaning. They'll also need big-time cooling, entailing yet more expensive gadgetry and maintenance. Maybe some form of thermal CSP would handle the fundamental disadvantages of focusing arrangements less expensively.

One snag. It's a bit vague, but these appear to be concentrator cells.

I believe you are right. For two reasons. One: that kind of efficiency does require much brighter light than unfocused sunlight. Two: these are very pricy per unit area. Satellite designers don't care how much the cells cost, launch and other costs dominate material costs for them, so a bit of extra efficiency is a bargain for them. In order to get cheap power from multijunction cells you need a high degree of concentration. And that means tracking, and cooling have to be dealt with.

IMO opinion, CPV has promise, but if thin film gets cheap enough per peak watt, it might not necessarily become the cheapest PV technology. But we should pursue it, in case the cost per peak watt of nonconcertrating panels stagnates at too high a level.

I believe there are issues of scalability with these sorts of cells as well (reliance of specialty elements with limited supply), but I've never seen anyone attach any numbers as to say how many peaks watts of highly efficient CPV we could produce annually before resource constraints start to bite.

Last week I had linked to CoolEarthSolar, who plan to provide a CPV solution using airfilled reflective mylar reflectors. When I visted them 18months ago, they were dead set against the idea of using multi-junction cells -because of the limited scalability. I thought this was foolish, as even if the multi-junction cells won't scale to ultra high volumes, they could still make or break the economics of early CPV solutions. They seem to have come around to that point of view now.

I have seen concentrators built from plastic lenses.

I would question the metals in the cells.

Different metals and materials yield bandgaps from 1 to 1.8 eV, which yield efficiencies up to ~25 ~ 30%

They are doing a multiple band-gap technology to increase past the theoretical Quantum mechanical limits of a single bandgap solar cell.

Different metals would be required. Hopefully not indium which will be all used up in flat screen t.v. systems. lol

one group is using zinc manganese tellurium (ZnMnTe) to get multi-bandgap high efficiency cells.


This link talks about the indium semiconductor material. Yikes on that one in terms of mass production.

I saw a blurb for a research project a few months ago. The gist, we can create a new transparent conductor, which they claimed was the key technology
needed to be able to make sixway junction cells, with a theoretical efficiency of 65%(these 40% guys are 3way). Then they claimed they wanted to use them for CPV.

In any case, the volume of materials needed is much lower for CPV than for flat panels, typical concentration factors are a few hundred to a few thousand, so the active surface area (and hopefully special material requirements) should be reduced by that factor.

The less high purity silicon the better.

I wish indium was reserved for solar cells over TVs. I'd rather have the former myself. In any case, I agree with your point that CPV would use less.

wondering what the trade-off to silicon purity and total silicon area required per Watt for regular single gap 25% efficient and these multigap higher efficiency cells may be.


Here is yet another multi-band gap technology, which I just glanced over. It appears that the oxygen atoms are an issue in the crystals requiring fancy ion beam lasers to fabricate. Sounds expensive but I am no expert.

Some feel a limit to multi-band gap is economic -- only a few companies control the entire market.


History is filled with failed concentrator schemes. Or ones that don't ship (Looks over at energy tech - who didn't ship the stirling cycle engine either)


Seems the war games in Iran are being anted up. Maybe wikileaks will have the details next week.

Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist

TEHRAN — Unidentified assailants riding motorcycles launched bomb attacks early on Monday against two Iranian nuclear physicists here, killing one of them and prompting accusations by Iran that the United States and Israel were behind the episode.

I imagine Wikileaks is spending a lot of time watching the rear-view for motorcycles, too.

Stakes are high all over -- Stuxnet plus assassinations in Iran; saber-rattling and artillery duels in Korea.

The new cold wars are a lot lower lethality than the old ones, and more energy efficient. At least we don't have jets in air 24/7 and huge fleets of subs deployed and missile silos manned at all times. Even if things ratchet up a notch or two, probably just a few reactor sites and a few hundred military installations will be decimated.

The notion of international law, which basically is nations agreeing to be jointly governed, may be an early victim of the collapse of complex society. "Legality" stops at the point where enforcement ends. Is the US a blunt whacking tool of the UN, or is the UN a useful PR arm of the US? Both?

Pity the country that gets to be America's "plausible external threat to galvanize internal support" at the same time we are theirs. Will it be Iran? North Korea? Pakistan? Grab some popcorn and watch - 2011 is setting up to be an interesting year.

"probably just a few reactor sites and a few hundred military installations will be decimated."

Check here to see how much popcorn you will need or maybe KYAG.


When I was in SAC we figured about 50 should do the job on all of Russia ... of course we had a couple thousand targeted that way.

BTW Chernobyl was relatively low yield.


The new cold wars are a lot lower lethality than the old ones,

Ya sure we are not already 8+ years into WWIII? One state invading other states in other continents - sure sounds 'world-y' and with actual things going 'boom' - my that sounds 'war-y'.

The notion of international law, which basically is nations agreeing to be jointly governed, may be an early victim of the collapse of complex society.

It didn't cut it with the LEague of Nations and if you have the well ground axe of Israel/Palestine - didn't law "fail" back in the 1940's? International law is hard - unless you subscribe to the view of Mao - power/gun et la.

And you have plenty of people who question the legality of what goes on in the United States. Some of that goes as far back as the 1st 10 amendments and their legality.

At what point do you give the devil the benefit of law?

I feel human health and fossil fuel use are interconnected in complex ways. While human heath has benefited from research made possible by oil and energy and fossil fuels, these are enablers for stopping good practices of walking, exercising, food preparation, and bicycling. Furthermore, the foods we eat are not the healthiest options, but are the options made by fossil fuel industries.

Here is a report looking at the relationship further.


A low carbon economy should be good for health and the climate, say leading scientists
Statement to be Released at Climate Control Talks in Mexico later this Month

Certain actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce climate change can also directly improve human health, according to a statement from the Inter-Academy Medical Panel (IAMP), a global network of the world's medical academies. These health benefits could partly offset the costs of tackling climate change and challenge the belief that policies to tackle climate change will invariably be socially and economically demanding. A copy of the full statement can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/iampHBCCM

I've been thinking about this a lot. While my attention has been on Global Energy Issues while I've been reading TOD, economics, societal implications.. I'va also been looking incidentally for how I can push my own home and transport towards cleaner power, but I haven't used the most compelling arguments enough to advocate for this as a serious priority for my family, which is that our Chimney and exhaust pipes are literally throwing poisons into the air right in ours, our daughter's and neighbors' lungs.

It's funny how one's priorities can keep putting 'Paying the Oil Bill' first- as one of our 'sacred survival needs', letting us upstage so much of the planning for how we can simply get rid of most of that bill with serious insulation and solar or geothermal heat instead.

To be fair, it seems so many people just don't really know that it's possible to knock down SO MUCH of these heating and cooling costs with reasonable amounts of work, or using off-the-shelf equipment. As with the EV comments above, it's given this air of awe and danger that keeps it in the realm of things only wild inventors would do. Even when I propose to build some new shelves, my spouse gets this worried look, since the prospect of doing these kinds of improvements is very alien to the kind of home she grew up in.


(EDIT; But again, look at how my thinking moved right over to 'how can we get it done?', and the financial arguments for doing so, and right away from the idea that in NOT doing it, we're being good and Dutiful with our subscription energy service, and hardly giving a second thought to the continual spew of exhaust fumes that we and all our neighbors are blithely putting into our air and breathing non-stop. It almost feels 'rude' to say out loud that this is unhealthy. But as with much of this abundant and not-clean energy, it's generally set up to be largely invisible and inaudible. It takes extra work to remember that there's actually poison coming out of every house and every car.)

It is certainly extra work to bike -- but a little of it is good for you. When I take my kids home once a week from my wife, I learn about acceleration and kinetic energy and other basic physic laws on my bike. i hope my kids learn to appreciate that the bike is an amazing invention.

As far as insulation goes, I need to make that my next mission. I decided to work on my garden and my bike the last few years. starting on the attic. Then I want to perhaps redo the interior walls for two reasons. One the wiring is from the 1950s and it is not always grounded and two i can get insulation in there when I peal off the wall board. i plan to do one room at a time should be fun! Still deciding if I am going to double wall the inside or not

Interesting event up near the top - expressing an opinion contrary to the BAU is now, it would seem, a terrorist act.

Whatever the reality on fracking (general opinion here seems to be that it is pretty much harmless, minority are skeptics), adding someone to the HS list of terrorists for taking the minority view, and publicizing it, is scarey. How long before arguing that Peak Oil has passed or will sortly occurred is just another terrorist act?


Ol' Orwell was a pretty forward-thinking guy, wasn't he?

Newspeak happens.


How long before arguing that Peak Oil has passed or will shortly occurred is just another terrorist act?

"I'm sorry Perk Earl, you post on that conspiratorial online rag 'The Oil Drum', and have therefore made it to our watchlist. Please come with us."

"Now that you're away from the our patriotic passengers, we'd just like to remind you that flying the friendly skies requires copious amounts of cheap fuel. If you insist on spreading online rumors of shortages or excessively high prices for oil in our near to short term future, then we have no recourse but to force you to take a bus. Can you say Greyhound Mr. Earl?"

In April 2011, Lufthansa will begin a six-month trial of renewable jet fuel with an Airbus A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable jet biofuel and traditional kerosene.

What's your point?

Sure, there are biofuels.. are they not also subject to supply constraints? Posting the clip without offering just a bit of your perspective makes it seem like you're saying 'See, Biofuels! Where's the problem?'

Whether it's the core energy cost of making it (EROEI), the environmental load it creates, or just the direct cost of the fuel once it's up to that sort of production volume, there are a great many possible bottlenecks and externalities that make this a very unsure alternative.

I do believe we have things to be hopeful for, and there are good tools we can be building out and putting to use, but I seriously doubt that the Commercial Airline fleets will be more than Half of what they are today in 20 years time. I certainly don't expect that there will be enough biofuels available to stem that outgoing tide.

Our Beautiful, silver airships are heading 'Into the West'.. as it were..

My point? My point is that there are often alternatives if we put in the effort to look for them.

We do not have limit ourselves to discovering a problem and then declaring that there is no option except for us all to die a horrible death.

Biofuels are not a magic solution, but they are part of a solution. Done right they can, along with improvements in airplane design, keep airfare from becoming totally unaffordable.

In addition we can shift most/all of our medium range travel to high speed rail (as the Chinese and Europeans are already doing) and free up all that liquid fuel for those times when we do need to fly.

BTW. are you aware that we've got military planes flying with oil from camelina, a type of mustard? It can be grown in between crops of wheat, thus requiring no decrease in food cropland and providing an additional income source for farmers.

I understand that there ARE alternatives, as I have said, but I don't get any sense that they can constitute the sorts of quantities on an ongoing basis or that they can be implemented fast enough to keep this from being a hugely disruptive transition down to a far smaller system. Further, when coming from crops, you're also tied to water and weather conditions as well.

As the PO discussion revolves around flowrates, the disrupted flows of Oil will (probably, my quess) not be met with alternatives in time and amount enough to stem these difficulties.. and at this late hour, when we have heard Carter and Hirsh and others say it would take some 20 years to develop enough of the infrastructural changes we'll be needing, so that the coming onset of these declines will also be tripping up these programs as they try to get started, whenever the world feels like truly starting the process...

As my friend Chad puts it, BIIIIG Rock!, Little Hammer. Ting, ting, ting ...


So when is Wikileaks going to leak the real OPEC numbers? What fun that would be!

Well maybe not OPEC numbers themselves but if this Forbes article has any merit, then based on their published interview with Assange, he has plenty of dirt on some of the major players in the Energy industry. Yes it sounds like barrels and barrels of fun, even without the monkeys, though that in and of itself might be somewhat debatable. I for one sure hope Assange doesn't meet an untimely end in the very near future. My guess would be that there is probably already a hefty reward for his inadvertent decommissioning. I don't get the impression that he is making many friends in high places.


Admire Assange or revile him, he is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency. Having exposed military misconduct on a grand scale, he is now gunning for corporate America. Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we’ve been discussing. Energy? Plenty, on everything from BP to an Albanian oil firm that he says attempted to sabotage its competitors’ wells.

Best hopes for oodles and oodles of blatantly unadulterated transparency that will ultimately lead to the rug being yanked from underneath the profoundly corrupt PTB.


"I for one sure hope Assange doesn't meet an untimely end in the very near future. My guess would be that there is probably already a hefty reward for his inadvertent decommissioning. I don't get the impression that he is making many friends in high places."

But I imagine someone else will take up his mission if industry or a government or group was to take himout ;-)

Some portfolio manager named Stephenson is on CNBC now, saying oil is the trade you have to be in on. He says oil will hit $150 again in two years, and $200 in three years. Due to demand in China and other developing countries. He says fuel is subsidized in many countries, so high prices won't affect demand. (I think the ability of those governments to afford to keep subsidizing might be an issue.)


There's also audio from Stephenson somewhere on Financial Sense concerning his "little book of commodities".

As for myself, I don't think us here in the US will be worrying so much about the price of oil in a year or so, but whether there will be enough diesel or gasoline to go around.

Of course there will be enough to go around (barring a hurricane like Gustav). The question will be at what price.

Stephenson sounds like he's been lurking on TOD. On peak oil:


A brother-in-law heard a talk he gave on gold 5-6 years ago. He said that gold would increase 300% against the dollar index in 10 years. He said to buy gold and hold it (@2004)
It seems he was off by a few years.

The price of gasoline rocketed upward about 7.5 cents gallon in futures trading. The gain appears motivated by the issues we've been discussing here about the last three or four weeks (see also below) - which has resulted in relatively low supplies of gasoline, particulary in the upper Northeast US and the eastern part of what normally in considered the upper Midwest. Also gasoline prices in Europe started today at near highs for the year - in terms of dollars.

Platts provided a very good recap of the gasoline issue:

US Atlantic Coast gasoline spasms aren't necessarily all in the past

These moves appear to be taking a toll on inventories. In the last year, total gasoline stocks have declined steadily, at least a partial reflection of the loss of that productive capacity. Current total gasoline stock levels in the USAC (PADD I) at some 51.7 million barrels reported by EIA have not been seen since September 2008, just before hurricanes that hit the US Gulf Coast in September had shut production for a prolonged period of time, forcing USAC buyers to dip into their inventories. Prior to that, high prices and a market backwardation encouraged destocking.


In addition, Platts gives estimates of what to expect from this week's inventory reports:


Platts Survey of Analysts

•Crude oil stocks down 1.5 million barrels
•Gasoline stocks down 1.4 barrels
•Distillates stocks down 400,000 barrels
•Refinery utilization, or run rate, up 0.44 percentage point to 85.94%

Platts is probably right about an increase in gasoine imports last week, and while even Platts expects crude stocks to fall some, it may be worse than that. Crude imports into the US may disappoint, this week or next - as China took some oil from Mexico that may have otherwise ended up in the US.

Corporate America in the crosshairs of Wikileaks, next year:


Early next year, Julian Assange says, a major American bank will suddenly find itself turned inside out. Tens of thousands of its internal documents will be exposed on Wikileaks.org with no polite requests for executives’ response or other forewarnings. The data dump will lay bare the finance firm’s secrets on the Web for every customer, every competitor, every regulator to examine and pass judgment on.

When? Which bank? What documents? Cagey as always, Assange won’t say, so his claim is impossible to verify. But he has always followed through on his threats.

No one is in the target of Wikileaks . . . they just post what they get. It is the insiders that leak things that pick the targets.

*goes out to field*
*gets ears of popcorn*
*makes popcorn - places in bucket*

I guess we'll see if truth-telling about banks is enough to have your web site killed or you killed.

Well, at least now we understand why some Republican congressman wants Wiki-leaks declared a terrorist organization. "Mess with the banks and you mess with me."

MSM Alert:

For a bit of clarity and a really good look at life on the ground in Afghanistan, now showing on NatGeo: "Restrepo: Afghan Outpost"

Repeats at midnight, EST (G -5)

Re: Kurt Cobb: Peak oil and four principles of PR, up top:

3. If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Don't Explain.


good morning, X

Although I generally disagree with your analysis of the ethanol issue, I do understand where you are coming from, and actually have troubled myself to go to the dictionary -some months ago, again today-and check the definition of the word "compare".

As it turns out, you and I learned the same definition-the one that comes up first today on the first three online dictionaries that come up on Bing;we were both probably in an English class in high school wherein the teacher took pains to make sure we understood the correct definitions and usages of commonly misunderstood words a few decades back.;)

I have waited for the best part of a year now, as an experiment in communication,to see if anybody would actually bother to check whether you use this word correctly.Despite the undoubtedly high level of education among the readership, and the tendency on several to use sharp elbows to make sure words are used correctly,not a single person has done so.

The usage of words change of course-you have in this case been left behind even though you are technically correct in a certain sense, and the lone member of the band marching in time to the direction of the dictionary.

Now to the point-you are the only person who has commented on Kurt Cobb's piece on pr and getting along with the media.

As I see it, you are barking up the right tree, in terms of public relations, although perhaps for the wrong reason-I wouldn't mind being in position to grow a few hundred acres of corn myself thses days, but we don't have the land for it, or the nearby market.

The readership would do well indeed to reflect upon Cobb's message-and apply the lessons to be learned from it to thier own efforts to bring about change in the attitudes of those who think differently.

I looked it up a one dictionary site, but haven't found a key change in meaning aside from the addition of 'To' or 'with', as below. But even Shakespeare was willing to hold dissimilar things up and see where they are the same and where they aren't.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:

from 'Free Dictionary'
"Usage Note: Compare usually takes the preposition to when it refers to the activity of describing the resemblances between unlike things: He compared her to a summer day. Scientists sometimes compare the human brain to a computer. It takes with when it refers to the act of examining two like things in order to discern their similarities or differences: The police compared the forged signature with the original. The committee will have to compare the Senate's version of the bill with the version that was passed by the House. When compare is used to mean "to liken (one) with another," with is traditionally held to be the correct preposition: That little bauble is not to be compared with (not to) this enormous jewel. But to is frequently used in this context and is not incorrect."


I am eager to understand where X may be coming from, but so far have not found a useful translation for his thoughts on Comparing and on EROEI

But best to you both and your kin.