Drumbeat: June 11, 2012

Greek Blackouts Risked as Power Companies’ Cash Runs Out: Energy

Greece faces the threat of rolling power blackouts as the economic crisis leaves utilities without cash to pay for natural gas imports and operate power stations.

Regulators will meet with Greece’s power market operator as early as today to discuss an emergency loan of 300 million euros ($375 million) to cover payments for gas imports from Russia’s OAO Gazprom, Turkey’s Botas AS and Italy’s Eni SpA. The country’s largest power producer is almost out of money and likely to default after unpaid accounts jumped more than 50 percent in a year, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Oil Gains Most in Five Months on Spain Bailout, China

Oil rose the most in more than five months in New York on speculation fuel demand will increase after Spain requested a European bailout to shore up its banks and China’s imports of crude climbed to a record.

Gas drops nearly 16 cents in the last three weeks

NEW YORK -- The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States fell 15.9 cents to $3.624 in the past three weeks due to a drop in crude oil, which took a hit from fears over Europe's economy and a stronger dollar, the Lundberg Survey showed.

The national average for regular gasoline as of June 8 was down more than 11.62 cents from the year-earlier level of $3.74 a gallon, according to the survey of some 2,500 gasoline stations in the continental United States.

OPEC chief hints at action to reduce oil glut

VIENNA (Reuters) - OPEC's president signalled on Monday it could act to reduce a glut of oil that has knocked the price down towards double digits, but said it was unlikely to set individual country production quotas at a meeting this week.

Abdul Kareem Luaibi, who also serves as oil minister of Iraq, said maintaining the price at $100 (64.33 pounds)-$120 a barrel was "reasonable and acceptable", but repeatedly declined to specify what action if any OPEC might take when it meets on Thursday.

OPEC unlikely to push gas prices up as talks break down

OPEC will be seeking harmony in Vienna this week. It won’t be easy. Some of the oil cartel’s worst infighting in its 50-year history looms. That could make it tougher to cope with the euro crisis, which shows no signs of easing and augurs poorly for the price of crude. The evidence suggests the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will not be able to do much about it.

Goldman Sees a 29% Return From Commodities Over 12 Months

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted a 29 percent return over the next year from the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Enhanced Commodity Index, led by energy and industrial- metals investments.

European policymakers will be able to contain the euro-area debt crisis, while recovery in the U.S. and China is set to continue, Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research in New York, said today in a report. Returns may be 41 percent in a year for energy investments, compared with 23 percent for industrial metals and 18 percent for precious metals, while agriculture is forecast to lose 14 percent, the report showed.

Speculators Slash Bets on Higher Brent Crude Prices

The number of speculators betting on higher Brent futures prices continued its month-long slump last week, falling to its lowest level since November last year, according to IntercontinentalExchange Inc.'s (ICE) weekly Commitment of Traders report published Monday.

Money managers continued to liquidate their long positions in Brent crude in the week ended June 5 as Brent tumbled to its lowest level since October amid growing concerns over the state of the global economy.

Yergin: America’s New Energy Reality

If one takes a broader North American perspective, the changes in the supply picture are even more striking. The output of Canadian oil sands has tripled since 2000 and is now greater than Libya’s output before its civil war began in February 2011.

This adds up to a very different outlook from a few years ago. Until fairly recently, energy independence was a subject to get laughs. The joke was that America was actually becoming more and more dependent upon imports. But now “energy independence” has become a subject of serious discussion and debate.

The prospects for actual energy independence remain elusive. It takes some very heroic assumptions to see that happening. But with oil demand in the United States declining, output rising and increasing integration with Canada, the United States is certainly on the way to becoming “energy less dependent.”

It Only Took A Global Depression To Reduce Gas Prices By 40 Cents

The main reason prices are dropping is the collapse in demand from Europe and the United States. The bumpy plateau of peak oil is in full force. Prices rise to the point where they push economies into recession, demand crashes due to the recession, and prices decline. The double whammy of oil prices reaching $111 a barrel in 2011 and $109 a barrel in 2012 have sapped the life out of the American consumer. This is reflected in the plunge in gasoline and petroleum usage since 2008, with a temporary leveling off in 2010, followed by a further nosedive since 2011. As this recession deepens over the next six months, prices will likely fall further. But this is where the Catch-22 kicks in.

Insurance to stop India shippers handling Iran oil in July: sources

(Reuters) - Indian state-owned refiners will halt planned oil imports of 173,000 barrels per day from Iran when European sanctions take effect in July, unless the government permits them to use insurance and freight arranged by Tehran, industry sources said.

India is the world's fourth-largest oil importer and second biggest customer of the OPEC member nation, but domestic shippers have refused to transport the oil because of a lack of cover, the sources said.

US continues push to wean India off Iran oil, offers fuel sop

The Barack Obama administration is likely to open North America's doors to India for its energy needs as it pushes New Delhi to reduce its energy dependence on "nuclear armed" Iran.

This hydrocarbon sop for India - oil, cooking and shale gas - is scheduled to figure in the third round of Indo-US strategic dialogue in Washington on June 13.

Henry Hub sees a future in US gas

As political upheaval swept across parts of the Middle East and North Africa, another revolution was rocking the energy world.

This year, the United States again became a net fuel exporter, thanks to a technology that unlocks natural gas from shale formations by blasting them with a mixture of water and various chemicals, a controversial practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Now oil companies are looking at how shale can be used to solve a gas shortage in the Middle East that threatens to put a cap on industrial development and domestic electricity supply.

Chesapeake Investors Punish Board Amid ‘Collapse’ in Confidence

Chesapeake Energy Corp. shareholders issued a sweeping repudiation of the company’s management yesterday by rejecting two directors and demanding more influence over the second-largest U.S. natural-gas producer.

‘Tainted’ Chesapeake Hears Rising Calls to Dump McClendon

Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s efforts to defuse a shareholder revolt over Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon’s personal finances and management missteps have intensified calls for his dismissal.

In the past six weeks, the second-largest U.S. natural-gas explorer shrank pay packages, eliminated perks, agreed to remake its board, and obtained a $4 billion loan to cope with tumbling gas prices and a looming cash shortfall. Still, McClendon is $7.4 billion shy of the asset sales he said are needed over the next six months to cover drilling costs and begin to repay ballooning debt.

Fracking in Ohio Sparks Real Estate Rebound: Mortgages

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is bringing new development to the Midwest, creating demand for commercial real estate in the region even as landlords struggle to pay off earlier property loans. Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second- largest U.S. natural-gas supplier, has acquired $2 billion in land leases comprising 1.35 million acres in Ohio and contributing to the beginnings of an economic recovery in the state. The company has leased or bought real estate in towns including Canton and St. Clairsville, according to Pete Kenworthy, a company spokesman.

Anadarko Cut as $25 Billion Toxic Suit Oozes Into Court

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) investors are discounting the company’s market value by $2 billion as analysts and lawyers see few ways to minimize the effect of a $25 billion lawsuit spawned by the toxic past of its Kerr-McGee Corp. unit.

Japan Wins Scientists’ Panel Nod to Restart Atomic Reactors

A panel of Japanese scientists reported that two nuclear reactors idled for safety checks are safe to operate, giving Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda the approval he needs to re-start the units.

After a meeting late Sunday that was moved to a new venue after anti-nuclear protests, the 12-member panel appointed by the governor of Fukui prefecture, where Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)’s Ohi nuclear plant is located, released a document stating the plant can be operated safely.

N.R.C. Nomination Shines Spotlight on Waste-Disposal Issue

For the first time, the president has chosen a geologist for the post, Allison M. Macfarlane of George Mason University, and her expertise aligns with the pressing concerns facing Congress and the nuclear industry. She is a longtime critic of the idea of burying waste at Yucca Mountain, a volcanic structure about 100 miles from Las Vegas chosen by Congress in the late 1980s, considering its geology too unpredictable. With little new plant construction, the commission’s main responsibility these days is assuring the safety of the 104 plants now operating, and what to do with the decades-old problem of waste.

Romney Helped Spark Green-Energy Boom in Massachusetts

Mitt Romney’s criticism of President Barack Obama for promoting green-energy subsidies may keep the former Massachusetts governor from boasting about his own contribution to his state’s expanding clean-energy industry.

As a Republican presidential candidate, Romney has chided Obama for doling out billions of dollars to companies such as failed Solyndra LLC, saying the president is in an “imaginary world” where renewable energy fuels the economy, not traditional sources such as oil, natural gas and coal.

How Eight Possible GOP Tickets Stack Up On Environment And Energy Policies

Mitt Romney will have a lot of criteria to consider in picking a running mate to energize his presidential campaign, and you can bet that environment- and energy-driven economic and regulatory policies will be influential considerations. Right now it’s anyone’s guess as to which candidates top his list, much less, whom he will pick. Recognizing that I’m probably missing some other good possibilities, I’ll mention eight whom appear to be on the media radar, and will characterize my take on where they stand on key issues.

In fact, I’ll go ever farther, and risk comparatively ranking them on environment and energy policy metrics alone.

Q. and A.: A Panoramic View of Energy Innovation

Q. How close are we to the “second Industrial Revolution” that Secretary Chu has described as part of the goal for ARPA-E? How much closer are we now than we were three years ago?

A. Industrial revolutions don’t happen overnight. They’re built brick by brick. In ARPA-E, we have laid the foundation so that it will lead up to the industrial revolution of the future. In the energy sector, it takes sometimes a decade or more for new technologies to flourish and scale in size and volume. It’s not just the technology that one has to innovate. There are things like finance and many, many other aspects that are important. We have to keep our single-minded focus on this so the U.S. comes out globally competitive in the future.

Club of Rome has a skeptical take on the future

In its latest publication "2052 – a Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years," the Club of Rome takes a bold look into the future. The 66 scientists and economists that make up the club predict - similarly to their first report ("The limits of growth") in 1972 - that the current economic development could soon tip over.

But differing from their view back then, they now put climate change at the heart of their study. Their prognosis is mainly influenced by the assumption that a warming of more than 2.5 degrees Celsius is likely: There will be more floods, draughts and climate extremes.

Toward a green revolution and civilization

Billion tons of oil are burned every day to support our prosperity. At the same time millions of tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect that will endure for at least for a century.

Our oil-addicted civilization keeps on extracting carbon that has been stored underground for millions of years, burning it and releasing it into the atmosphere to form heat-trapping gases.

Shell injunction forces Greenpeace to get creative

With a judge ordering its boats to stay away from the oil firm's Arctic rigs, the anti-drilling organization turns to social media and other means of getting its message out.

Navigating Water Rate Increases in Lingering Drought

Higher prices have a way of grabbing attention, and many communities across Texas are raising rates to pay for new water supplies and to encourage conservation amid concerns that the lingering drought may portend a broader water crisis.

Water experts say it is about time Texans placed more value on this irreplaceable natural resource, given the state’s rapid population growth and fickle weather. But raising rates often triggers public resistance in a state that is wary of too much government.

Turning Saltwater From Earth and Sea Into Water Fit to Drink

SAN ANTONIO — Drilling rigs in the midst of cow pastures are hardly a novelty for Texans. But on a warm May day at a site about 30 miles south of San Antonio, a rig was not trying to reach oil or fresh water, but rather something unconventional: a salty aquifer. After a plant is built and begins operating in 2016, the site will become one of the state’s largest water desalination facilities.

Why climate change needs higher energy bills

Green campaigners focusing on expensive energy bills makes perfect sense, but for long-term savings we need to pay the short term price for green energy.

'The problem for coal right now is entirely economic' – EPA's Lisa Jackson

What we've done at EPA, because we've had to from court order, and it's long overdue in my opinion, is deal with pollution from coal-fired power plants. Pollution from coal-fired power plants comes from the extraction of the coal in some cases, the burning of the coal, which gives soot and smog-forming pollution, and mercury and lead and arsenic and cadmium and acid gases and then you've got to get rid of the ash! …One form of energy has to at least be subject to the same laws as the other forms are. That's what we've been working on as far as coal. I always tell people, it's not about coal, it's about the pollution that for too long has been associated with coal.

Airline industry: EU emissions trading scheme 'could risk trade war'

European attempts to enforce its emissions trading scheme on airlines may undermine a global solution to curb aviation's environmental damage and risk a trade war, Iata claims.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents 240 airlines worldwide, reiterated its call for the EU to drop its "unilateral and extra-territorial" scheme, which is opposed by several major powers, some of whom have hinted at retaliatory measures.

Group: Global airline profits thin this year, could be wiped out if European recession hits

BEIJING, China - Squeezed by high oil prices, the world airline industry's profit will be slim this year and could be wiped out if Europe tumbles into recession, the global aviation trade group said Monday.

The International Air Transport Association called for governments to resolve a dispute over European carbon charges on airlines and to avoid tax and regulatory changes it said might hamper industry growth.

China Emissions Suggest Climate Change Could Be Faster than Thought

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - China's carbon emissions could be nearly 20 percent higher than previously thought, a new analysis of official Chinese data showed on Sunday, suggesting the pace of global climate change could be even faster than currently predicted.

Has anybody been having problems accessing the US EIA website? I haven't been able to access it for a few days, but nobody has mentioned it as far as I have seen.

Link below:


I access it, on average, several times a day. I have had no problems whatsoever. And I can access it this morning with no problems.

Ron P.


I am a (gainfully employed) urban planner based in London.

I have been lurking for years and have reached the point where I want to analyse the data for myself. I am sure you get requests like this all the time, but bare with me.

Is is possible in your view to analyse both EIA and JODI Data and draw conclusions? I want to to identify the variance between the two datasets. I think this would be interesting given that JODI data seems to be more transparent and EIA.

However, I have noticed terminology differs between the two. Can you provuide any advice?

One of the characteristics of EIA data is frequent revisions over months and years with a distinct bias for downward revisions. For example, the former peak in global crude oil plus condensate production in July 2008:

2008-10 75.10 Oil Watch Monthly Oct. 2008
2008-11 74.94 Oil Watch Monthly Nov. 2008
2008-12 74.86 Oil Watch Monthly Dec. 2008
2009-04 74.83 Oil Watch Monthly April 2009
2009-08 74.74 Oil Watch Monthly Aug. 2009
2009-11 74.74 Oil Watch Monthly Nov. 2009
2011-05 74.67 EIA World CC Production Jan. 1994 to Jan 2011
2012-04 74.60 EIA World CC Production Jan. 2000 to Dec. 2011
2012-06 74.59 EIA World CC Production Jan. 2000 to Feb. 2012

The EIA has revised the previous peak down by 510 kb/d over the last 3.5 years. This systematic bias of over-reporting production and then revising downward makes the world production plateau appear sloped upward.

g0nzilla, sorry but I missed your post or I would have replied sooner. I do view both databases and am greatly puzzled by the differences between the two. The EIA database is biased to the upside and as BlueTwilight says when they do revise it is usually to the downside.

The JODI database is missing a few countries because they don't report. In those cases I have to use the EIA data. But in the case of non-OPEC I find they track pretty close. But not so with OPEC. In the last three years or so the difference between the EIA and JODI OPEC data has greatly increased.

I have not updated this chart in several months but there is enough here to show what I mean.

JODI EIA OPEC difference in thousands of barrels per day. The EIA had OPEC the lowest in 2006, the year JODI says C+C peaked and the highest above JODI in 2010 and 2011 when the EIA had C+C peaking... so far.


This chart explains why JODY C+C peaked in 2006 and the EIA peaked last year, or perhaps this year. I cannot explain why the EIA has OPEC producing so much more than JODI says. I am suspicious that the EIA is fudging the data.

Ron P.

Ok. Thankyou for getting back to me.

I work for a large International multi-disciplinary consultancy.

Internally there is significant awareness and acceptance that Peak Oil is a real issue. The problem is presenting this information in a palatable manner.

When developing a masterplan /city / national plan it is impossible to sell the idea of planning for zero or negative growth, or as I like to badge it 'planning for decline'.

I am hoping to put together a paper for our internal think-tank outlining the twin crises of Peak Oil and AGW and what this means when thinking about future priorities. In a corporate environment it is all about positive spin (a tough call with Peak Oil). I want to show that there is potential in encouraging and aiding authorities / agencies when it comes to managing the downslope.

When looking at Peak Oil I will be focusing on these two data sources, efficacy, decline rates, pricing and EROI.

One last question. When considering conventional production am I right in assuming both EIA and JODI are talking about the same thing? (same applies to consumption).

eMail me for some thoughts.

alan_drake at ju no period conn (standardized & remove spaces).


Used your link; connected pretty pronto and no problems navigating within the site.


Yes. I have noticed sporadic DNS problems with eia.gov recently and some ISPs. What is the error you are getting? Can you try this numeric IP address link to the website - and see what happens. If it works there is a DNS issue.

You might also want to test for DNSChanger malware by trying this link:


What error do you get? Ok for me here but I use Google and OpenDNS for my DNS lookup.


Squeeze play.

If Saudi Arabia now claims to need $100 per barrel to pay for it's people's pacification, then what if the 'ELM' kicks in? Can they really rise prices to compensate?

if they need $750 million a day ($100 oil price today X 7.5 mbbl/d)
then when they only export 7.0 mbbl/d, they will need the price to be $107.


$115 at 6.5 mbbl/d
$125 at 6.0 mbbl/d
$136 at 5.5 mbbl/d
$150 at 5.0 mbbl/d

Does anybody see a problem here?

Maybe with the Euro Nations and the U.S. in recession/depression, they won't need quite that much to pacify??? Otherwise it looks like BAU to me.


The high prices destroy demand and shift consumers to other energy products. Saudi Arabia can't continue in this way. You're looking at country decline and/or collapse at those prices. Unless there are serious stabilization efforts, you may also see production declines once consumers are unable to meet the prices needed to keep things running smoothly and maintain production.

The ELM doesn't really have to go far for this kind of thing to start happening. There are already huge stresses in countries like Saudi and Russia.

If these countries do collapse, what happens then? Military and political action to secure the oil supplies and ensure continued production? At what additional cost? For an example of the difficulty operating effective military campaigns in failed/fractured states see Somalia.

Not to say that their indigenous situation is quite so dire. But there are serious challenges in the face of declining real resources.

Maybe ELM won't apply to KSA? We will simply make them an "offer they cannot refuse." Then they will sell to us on very favorable terms. So long as they have any oil to extract.

Or not... with 'interesting' consequences.


Well... besides some tourism, KSA have nothing except oil. Nomatter how little they produce, they will have to export some of it. Or they can not afford to import food. They will always export oil. For as long as anyone want to buy it.

I believe they produce lots of tomatoes too. That would be with desalinated water tho.

I lived in Saudi for five years. We planted some tomatoes and they did terrible. It was just too hot. We never tried to grow them during the winter though, that might have worked. I never heard of anyone growing tomatoes there however and the tomatoes we got in the Aramco commissary were imported, just like everything else. Of course that was thirty years ago, things could have change since then.

Saudi is self sufficient in dates, camels and goats. Their wheat program, irrigated with fossil water, is going a lot faster than they had planned.

Saudi wheat production to fall 30%

The kingdom decided in January 2008 to reduce wheat production by 12.5 percent a year, abandoning a 30-year-old program to grow its own, having achieved self-sufficiency but at the high cost of depleting the desert kingdom's scarce water supplies.

The Arab world's largest economy which imports the bulk of its food needs, is expected to import two million tons of wheat in 2010-11, compared with 1.64 million tons a year earlier, it said.

That article is two years old. They are down to almost nothing now. The plan to become self sufficient in wheat irrigated entirely with fossil water was the most insane thing Saudi ever tried to do.

Saudi doesn't have a tourist trade at all. They do get a lot of religious visitors to Mecca however. And about 1.8 million from other Muslim states during Hajj of 2011.

Ron P.

Hmm, I can't remember where I heard that tomato thing, was just in the back of my mind. On Google Earth you can see lots of circular dark areas which are irrigated something, I don't know what.

I lived there for half a year too, back in 2008. Interesting place. There's lots of people going to Mecca.

Those circular dark areas are wheat fields and their circular irrigation system. You can see the same thing when flying over Kansas and other states in that area.

Ron P.

A friend of mine is a retired AG professor from the U of Minnesota. Early in his career (late 70s early 80s) he was part of a consulting/advising team in Saudia Arabia when the Saudis were contemplating tapping a very large aquifer to pump water for irrigating wheat. He advised the Saudis that the aquifer would run dry within 30 years since it took 5-10 thousand years for the aquifer to fill. Well, here we have the expertise and knowledge of a PhD being ignored and then 30 years later he was proven right.

As a side note, in 2008, we elected this same gentleman, with all of his credentials, to the Headwaters and Groundwater Commission for the Guadalupe river here in Texas. When the local yokels found out he was a Democrat, they replaced him, in 2010, with a True Conservative

Fossil water is like fossil oil, there is a finite amount of it and when you pump it all out it is gone... forever. Well forever as far as the human lifespan is concerned.

A true conservative is someone who will tell them that fossil water and fossil fuel will last forever.

Ron P.

A true conservative is someone who will tell them that fossil water and fossil fuel will last forever.

Our conservatives are better than yours.

There is one infamous Norwegian "conservative" that is among the very worst - Anders Behring Breivik.

The rest, such as recently passed Erik Gjems-Onstad, is an truly extremely honorable man.

Best Hopes for Norway,


Most conservatives I know of is of the "don't cut down our forest" type. I would love to see a debate over enviornmentalism on a cross-atlantic conservatives conference.

Saudi doesn't have a tourist trade at all. They do get a lot of religious visitors to Mecca however. And about 1.8 million from other Muslim states during Hajj of 2011.

That was the tourism I was refering to.

Well fortunately for KSA, the price of oil has doubled twice since 2000 yet we remain almost completely addicted to oil as a transport fuel. There just are no good alternatives. However, at least for light-duty transport, they probably can't have another double without starting to lose a lot of customers. If the price of oil were to double again, I think EVs & plug-in hybrids would begin enticing commuters away from oil.


As the aficionado of electric transport, roll your comment out. And recall your comment "There just are no good alternatives" What is the first to happen if electric takes a strong hold--demand for gas plummets. Which would soon shoot retail gas/diesel prices to the sky. They lose economy of scale, among other things. I keep wondering how diesel will ever be reasonably priced in rural areas for ag, where electric just doesn't have the oomph to get the job done. I've seen the converted Allis-Chalmers, they won't cut it. Maybe they'll have to...

I imagine it will be bulk sales, pre-bought, delivered hopefully when needed, if available, much like anhydrous, other fertilizers. No more just in time fuel deliveries, pay at the end of the billing cycle. For smaller farmers/users, I imagine retail will become containerized-5 or so gal cans, exorbitantly priced compared with present distribution. Kinda like the qt of motor oil I bought the other day-$6.19 10W-30. Gas at this out the way station was $4.15

Wait . . . you are suggesting EVs could catch on so well that they gas/diesel sales struggle due to low volume? I really don't see that 'problem' happening. You'll still need gas/diesel for boats, planes, big trucks, tractors, cars for long trips, etc. I also think many people will cling to gas cars even after they are not as economical just because of fear-of-the-new, momentum, gear-heads, etc. EV adoption will be a long slow slog until it hits some tipping point. And even then it will take a long time.

After the Patriotic 'Defense of Incandescent Lightbulbs' has become such a principled movement, I can't wait to see how our compatriots' Norman Rockwell sensihillbilities will take it when EV sales actually start to pick up a little steam.. so to speak.

Maybe Elwood said it best..

"Now you go to Germany, you've got your Bach, your Beethoven, your Brahms... Here in America you've got your Fred McDowell, your Irving Berlin, your Glenn Miller, and your Booker T & The MG's, people. Another example of the great contributions in music and culture that this country has made around the world. And as you look around the world today, you see this country spurned. You see backs turned on this country...

Well people, I'm gonna tell you something, this continent, North America, is the stronghold! This is where we're gonna make our stand in this decade! Yeah, people, I've got something to say to the State Department. I say Take that archaic Monroe Doctrine, and that Marshall Plan that says we're supposed to police force the world, and throw 'em out! Let's stay home for the next ten years people! Right here in North America and enjoy the music and culture that is ours. Yeah, I got one more thing to say. I'm just talking about the music, people, and what it does to me. And that is, as you look around the round world, you go to the Soviet Union or Great Britain or France, you name it, any country... Everybody is doing flips and twists just to get into a genuine pair of American blue jeans! And to hear this music and we got it all here in America, the land of the Chrysler 440 cubic inch engine!"

Blues Brothers - Green Onions... it's like ice cream for the ears! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB2MmNGn79I&feature=relmfu

For fuels competing with oil we have...

Nat gas liquids
Nat gas (compressed)
Converted nat gas

These fuels now represent more than 15+ million barrels per day of equivalent production. Crude + Condensate is 90 million barrels per day. Electricity already provides a decent chunk of mass transport energy (derived from ff, nuclear and alternatives). Add evs and you have the a serious potential to affect rolling transport as well. Factor in efficiency gains and you're off to the races.

I thought crude plus condensate was about 74 million barrels per day?

The Memphis Group, I think we lost Duck Dunn just a couple of weeks ago.

Yeah, I meant to toss in an RIP for Duck..

Yes. SHOULD ev become a real alternative that is alot cheaper. I don't see it now, but..

Rural or low volume stations are already struggling. look at your list. Marinas may sell fuel, but check their price. As per trucks, the impetus will be to fueling stations-(truck stops on major arteries) and corporate headquarters. Stations don't sell-or profit from- gas now-they sell convenience, customers brought in by motor fuel. Easy to see the motor fuel product line discontinued, or relegated to tins.

The economies, safety and convenience of today's system of underground tanks and pumps means that tins are unlikely.

Rather 1) fewer stations 2) less competition 3) much higher mark-ups on gasoline & diesel sales, which compensate for reduced volume.

Today's fiberglass tanks should last for quite a few decades, so the installed base has quite a way to go before needing to be replaced.


From Q. and A.: A Panoramic View of Energy Innovation

One of the technologies subsidized by ARPA-E is investigating:

... genetic modification of E. coli for biofuel production by the synthetic biology venture Ginkgo BioWorks.

What could possibly go wrong?



Nothing. Quote from the link you posted:
"There are many types of E. coli, and most of them are harmless."

Only the non-pathogenic strains of E. coli are used for engineering.

The non-pathogenic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917

"With respect to its metabolic capacities, EcN is a typical E. coli strain. It is a non-pathogenic member of the Escherichia coli family, because it does does not carry pathogenic adhesion factors and does not produce any enterotoxins or cytotoxins..."

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli from the rabbit

"...it was of interest to review the different groups of diarrheogenic E coli and their plasmid-encoded virulence properties, especially adhesion and secretion of enterotoxins or cytotoxins."

These particular pathogenic properties, adhesion and secretion of enterotoxins or cytotoxins, are conferred by plasmids. Plasmids are rings of genetic material that bacteria trade among themselves. Exchanging plasmids allows drug resistance to spread among the various bacteria in a hospital, for example... to the point that the roll-call of plasmids present within them becomes a finger-print of that hospital.

Here are some high-school kids moving plasmids into e-coli bacteria:

The T4 bacteriophage is supposed to inject its own genetic code into a bacteria when it attaches to the bacteria. Sometimes, though, the T4 is loaded with genetic material from the last bacteria in the chain of infection. This is another source of genetic mobility among bacteria.

High-frequency phage-mediated gene transfer

"Bacteriophages are abundant and ubiquitous in the natural environment... Recent whole-genome analyses suggest that lateral gene transfer by phages has contributed significantly to the acquisition of new genetic traits, the ability of bacteria to exploit new environments and the genetic diversity of many bacteria... In gene transfer by phages, phage particles accidentally incorporate a piece of the bacterial DNA into a phage head in place of phage DNA during the propagation. As phage capsids prevent nuclease digestion, phages may serve as reservoirs for foreign genes. Potential gene transfer via phages has been documented in soil, freshwater and marine water environments."

T4 Bacteriophage plush:

E. coli have had millions of years to evolve. Any variant that can survive in the wild probably exists already. Any variant that needs genetic engineering to be brought into being, will also need effort to keep alive.

Promises, promises.

What about strains that couldn't have developed by selection, not because they were selected against but because of intermediate steps that would've been impossible to happen naturally? But I understand the likeliness of those strains having more survival value than their natural counterparts would still be very low. But it isn't impossible? Please tell me if I'm wrong, I only have a very basic understanding of evolution.

Bacteria are far more able to incorporate completely novel genes by DNA transfer from other bacteria, compared to us slow-evolving mammals. Intermediate steps are less of a challenge for them, which is why we're even discussing these biofuel bugs.

Here we go again...

Chris Stolle, Virginia Lawmaker: 'Sea Level Rise' In Climate Change Study Is 'Left-Wing' Term

Flooding in low-lying coastal areas in Virginia shouldn't be judged as a potential consequence of climate change, Virginia State Del. Chris Stolle, a Republican from Virginia Beach, argued this year in his version of a bill to fund a study of rising sea levels.

Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers approved a $50,000 study on the economic impacts of coastal flooding in the state. Thanks to Stolle, the final version omitted mentions of "climate change" and "sea level rise," replacing them with terms like "recurrent flooding."

That's because "sea level rise" is a "left-wing term," Stolle said during debate over the legislation, according to the Virginia-Pilot.


What is wrong with these people, and the people who vote for them? I weep for my nation.

To paraphrase Stephan Colbert: Reality has a left-wing bias.

I came to post this.

Once again, it's apropos to revisit this timeless gem from Esquire:
Greetings from Idiot America

I love their review of the Creation Museum's 'Adam and Eve and NO Peter' ... what a tortured country!

Reality is known to have a left-wing bias.

Perhaps that's because the Right Wing has an ignore-the-teachers bias. Maybe they caught the stupid virus in high school, especially the ones who started drinking and smoking before age 16, 'cause it 'ere kool...

E. Swanson

We humans seem to be a very inventive species. And yet, despite all our capacity for adaptation, we have yet to invent a solution for politicized ignorance.

Or to say it another way...

Telling the truth is ever an offense to liars. So they will do their best to disallow the truth.

Climate change is fact. And facts tend to shatter inflexible ideologies and the societies that buy in to such nonsensical, short-sighted, self-serving mythologies.

In swedish, "stolle" is a word. It means a fool, or someone not to be taking seriously. Just sayin'

"Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" - Marx.

One thing which has come to my attention with the recent problems in Greece, compared to the Great Depression the people have far less resiliency to cope with problems. People need jobs now far more than they did 80 years ago when it was a lot more realistic to expect that the average Joe and Sally on the street had reasonable ways of surviving and thriving without an income. People simply do not have basic skills anymore and the resources which they would have taken advantage of locally to either provide a living or sustenance are either spoken for or depleted.

Part of this lack of resiliency has to to with the breakdown of families and communities. We live as atomized individuals today and barely anyone has a strong extended family structure any more- many do not even have nuclear families that are strong due to divorce, etc. Then the communities are very weak- a bunch of households of strangers. How many people do you know on your block? The focus on cars and movement, constantly relocating, electronic diversions, greed- these all destroy human bonds so when a crisis hits, its like a tidal wave. Churches have some attendance that is high in some places- but religion has been watered down so it doesn't conflict with greed so it really offers very little psychological comfort or philosophical strength in difficult times. Now add to this your observation of a lack of basic skills- not a pretty picture.

Humans are inherently tribal, and tribalism is inherently exclusive as well as inclusive. We want to encourage extending the behaviors associated with the inclusive part to everyone, or to eliminate the tribal feeling entirely. But them we lament the lack of tribal attachments. Partly because those tribal attachments form a power structure that is a threat to other structures - corporate, governmental, religious, etc., partly because the morality of the inclusive group is so much more appealing than is the morality shown towards the excluded groups. What you have left are people without strong attachments who are easy marks for everyone.

Indeed. At my grandmother's place, I recently discovered in the basement all the equipment necessary for potting vegetables etc., to keep them for in the winter. The house I currently live has a smaller house in the garden, with an in-built bread oven next to the open fire. (I live with my parents as I'm 22 and am still studying). Now the garden house will be rebuilt, and the oven destroyed. Of course my parents didn't understand why I kept insisting we should keep it. A lot of skills have been lost, and even the material we use now hasn't got the same durability from back then. For example the shoes; formerly, all shoes had stitched soles. Now they're glued. I bought myself a pair of stitched (leather) shoes in 2007. I still wear them every day, as I've done for the last 5 years, and they still are in great condition. They only need new soles every year or so. I bought glued (popular brand) shoes last year, and I had to stop wearing them after 4 months...

When I explain peak oil, and the 'Great Descent' in general to people, they respond that if things really get that bad as they were in WW2, we will adapt, just as we did back then. I live in Belgium, and my all my grandparents remember how they lived through it. When I hear their stories, I really realize how things have changed and how difficult it will be for us. They still used to pasteurize vegetables in the summer, they still cooked on wood stoves, they were used to cleaning clothing in big baths etc.

My grandfather used to live on the countryside, he was relatively well-of and owned some farms. When he came to the city, he paid with butter bars. The equivalent of gold bars these days. My other grandparents lived in a city. They also were not poor, but they still had to mortgage their house just to buy food. They did keep their own vegetable garden, and had family and friends in the countryside. My grandmother knew people who were getting gradually thinner. Some of them died from hunger (her shoemaker, ...). All gardens, all parks, along the roads, almost all unused patches of ground were used to grow food. There still was barely enough. I wonder what this means for us in the future, with double the population, without the skills, with heavily exploited farming ground (now totally dependent on fertilizers).

Hello Xardas,I live in Roeselare and am a PO guy since 2005.How about a meet?Maybe we can rattle the cage/stir the pot and wake up a few Belge to the coming tsunami.You can contact me ravi.uppal4 at gmail.com.

I know this is not easy when you are 22, but you go to your parents, tell them to keep their crap to them self, and keep that owen. You are the next generation who will take the consequences, even if you will not actually live in that house (chances are; more and more people are moving back in with mom and pop).

Regarding stiched shoes: Igot a pair of indoor shoes mde from wool, stitched. I don't remember how old they are any longer, but they are aproaching the decade. In the winter, I wear the mall the time, althogh I prefeer beeing bare foot indoors. Still in good condition.

Jedi, I would if the oven was that important. But I think it's just something neat to have, not that essential. They're going to repair the house, and make it habitable again. Now it's just a ruin, ready to collapse any day, so it's still a good trade off. In my city there's quite some family living. It wouldn't surprise me if the extra living space could prove itself useful for someone.

As someone who walks a good deal, I find that some cheap epoxy does wonders for fixing up glued soles that come undone before their time.

There is a product stocked at my local CVS pharmacy called "Shoe Goo".
One tube of the stuff will repair several pairs of shoes.

But my best solution, barefoot in the house, a habit I picked up so I wouldn't hurt my furry friends tiny feet.

Now in the summer, I am trying to use my feet to be barefoot outdoors to. But the weather is betraying me, all heat goes to north America (and Greenland). A girl I know has been doing this a long time, never wore a pair of shoes since some where in april.

"compared to the Great Depression the people have far less resiliency to cope with problems."

This is made many times worse by the fact that most farmland in North America is owned by corporations with most people living as serfs in sardine cans in cities. So we won't even have farmland to fall back on as they did in the 30's.

While the suppliers of my super accurate crystal ball have informed me that, due to issues beyond their control, the item remains on indefinite back order, they did give me a preview of the kind of predictions to expect. The headline from the future: "Jamaica Blackouts Risked as Nation's Foreign Exchange Reserves Run Out: Energy"

Jamaica faces the threat of rolling power blackouts as the balance of trade crisis leaves utilities without foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports and operate power stations.

This might be the answer I was looking for in a recent reply to a comment on a thread I started on Saturday evening. This may well be the future for most, if not all nations with no FF resources. Caught in the energy trap and as the late Hermann Scheer was fond of saying, "without energy, nothing works!"

Alan from the islands

The thing is, Alan, I don't think you can make the argument for renewables that will satisfy anyone on familiar Economic grounds, particularly since they are, as you note with the examples of Luxuries and Foolish Excesses in some Jamaican spending, so willing defy any sort of real economic reasoning or long-term thinking.. some sort of bastard mutation of the concept of 'Pursuit of Happiness' that creates some kind of ROI based purely on Wish-Fulfillment or Game Theory maybe.

In any case.. look at that Greece story up top..

The country’s largest power producer is almost out of money and likely to default after unpaid accounts jumped more than 50 percent in a year, according to Standard & Poor’s.


“Greece is going to face higher costs because suppliers will want to have better creditor protection. And if the country cannot pay the bill, well, it’s a real problem.”

How far into the future is that for Jamaica, and what are the costs of getting through those sort of emergencies.. even just to pay for debt service?

I don't know how to convince people to make preps.. I'm just making the ones I can, and making sure they're visible and I can talk about them whenever possible in ways that don't make people shut it out in defensiveness or resentment..

Courage! The sun is up.. don't let it go to waste..

Should have been been "While the suppliers of my super accurate crystal ball have informed me that, due to unforeseen circumstances..." - just saying...

"Solar cells produced with Hyperion thin Si processing are nearly 50% less expensive to manufacture. Hyperion makes your existing investments in polysilicon, ingot growing and wafering equipment up to 90% more efficient."
Hmmm.. Flexible Si Crystal? While 1st Solar was talking $1 watt for thin film, these guys are talking half that for Real CRYSTAL. If this process is scalable, expect a Chinese firm to snatch, Too bad no FIT's, even at no incentive market rates. To date, 90% of Worlds PV has been installed under a FIT Contract. Most State Net Metering caps solar at less than 1%. No caps on power from poison.

I watched the video - very impressive technology! Looks like it's real and not just a pump and dump operation.

It's real when you can buy product, till then, it's a curiosity. it's evolution and Kaizen that's key, when you can buy a 260 watt PV panel for the same price as you a 240 watt could 6 months ago, that's exciting. That shaves a couple of years off the Breakeven point for "free power" .

Damn. If PV dropped down to 70 cents per watt range, that would be amazing. It is pretty cheap as is right now . . . the cost of permits, installation, wiring, inverters, etc. already now dominate over the PV panel cost.

The article on possible blackouts in Greece is a curious piece. We get the headline of "Greek Blackouts Risked as Power Companies’ Cash Runs Out", and at first I thought that this was exactly the kind of thing I've been concerned about. But then we get this:

Although gas provides only 22 percent of Greece’s power supply -- the majority comes from domestically mined coal -- disruption to imports could force limited blackouts

Hmm, that does not seem like a catastrophic problem yet. So what is really going on? Well, further down is this:

The upcoming election may determine whether the country stays in the 17-nation euro. The inconclusive May 6 ballot showed gains for parties, led by Syriza, that oppose terms of the country’s bailouts from the European Union and the IMF.


An exit would see the government take control of all oil and gas imports as the state managed limited foreign currency reserves, said Elias Konofagos, vice president of Athens-based consultant Flow Energy & Environment Operations SA.

OK, I see it now. Greece is being priced out of energy and will suffer because of it, but that's not what's driving this article.

See this post from last week. Once again, TOD predates the story. The part on the medical situation was particularly compelling to me.


I was checking to see any further replies today, unfortunately not.

Zurisee explains the financial problem with the power company as the Greek government has siphoned off too much of the revenue while the article in Bloomberg today blames half of the customers for not paying their bills.

Written by Zurisee on June 6, 2012:
Customers have paid their bills, but the state, being broke, has hijacked that money and it isn't going to the power suppliers now, who can't afford to pay the gas company, who cant afford to buy gas.

Who to believe?

India grapples with garbage

India framed a solid waste policy in 2000 on the orders of the Supreme Court, which required all cities to implement comprehensive waste-management programs that would include household collection of segregated waste, recycling and composting.

However, no city has been able to set up any program like that envisaged in the policy, with the result that heaps of rotting waste are now a regular feature of urban life.

Indian cities generate more than 50 million tonnes of solid waste a year, and on average, each person in the urbanized areas produces half a kilogram of waste daily.

The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi estimates that by 2047 waste generation in the cities will touch 260 million tonnes per year, with local governments unable to handle the problem.

Cities are open systems which have inputs of air, water, fossil fuels, minerals, food, fiber and forest products. They have outputs of air pollution, sewage, garbage, trash, and rubble. They will continue so long as the inputs are available and the outputs do not clog.

I went to India in 2007; to Pauri, a city in the mountains. Every day we left the city by bus to do work some mountains away. In the evening when we returned we knew we were not far off from the city when we noticed its smell, still several kilometers off.

It wasn't really better here in Europe. In the city where I live, Brugge, until 50 years ago the water canals were used as open sewers. We live next to one of the canals, I wonder what our garden will smell like in the future.

I received an e-mail today, with an article in a dutch newspaper (http://tinyurl.com/d3lbvuy) saying a group of scientists has produced the 2012 'Global Energy Assessment' wherein they claim meeting the future's growing energy needs and meeting climate change goals is very possible; in fact, it predicts: renewable energy sources such as wind and solar could provide 30 to 75% of the world's energy demand by 2050 (according to the newspaper).

I'm highly skeptical of these claims. I searched for this 2012 report, but I couldn't find any link to it (apparently it is not published yet, it will be after RIO+20). But I did find a presentation of the 2011 report (http://tinyurl.com/bvh5tds). Slide 9 is interesting, you can see they predict the peak in oil products to happen in 2030. But most other energy sources will continue to expand, until total production would be 950 EJ by 2100.

The mail I got was from someone I explained peak oil to, and of course now he considers my 'argument' to be debunked etc.. He isn't aware of the eroi concept, and probably doesn't compute the economic significance of the high energy prices this would imply.

Is there anyone here who is a bit more familiar with iiasa's work on energy related issues (http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/ENE/GEA/index_gea.html)? And what there is to be said about this Global Energy Assessment?

As I see it, this GEA is nothing more but an optimistic extrapolation of what is technically possible, with policital will and financial investments taken for granted, not speaking about the possibility of peak oil right now. But maybe by reading all those skeptical peak oil posts I've developed a too pessimistic viewpoint? (doubtful, I just consider myself better informed).

I would be very thankful for any viewpoints on this.


If you like, read through this:


And visit the studies linked in there.

It isn't exactly what you are asking about, but in the context of a non-carbon, renewable energy plan, the summary and linked studies show how you get to those percentages. (Summary is based on dispelling the myth renewables can't handle the baseload requirements).

Thank you, Noble Serf. That's a great website. I've not yet dived in the climate change subject, so I haven't noticed some great, really informative websites about these issues.

I'm not really skeptical about renewable energy. I believe a lot is possible, and try to think in their favor until I've read otherwise. But my initial optimism about them has faded quite a bit after reading McKay's 'Renewable Energy: Without The Hot Air'. A lot is possible, but they're very diffuse energy sources. So while I certainly don't want to deny renewable baseload power is possible, I don't see them serving as the basis for future economic growth. As I understand it, investment in them must be HUGE if we want them to supply us with the same amount of energy as we now get from fossil fuel sources.

So I agree (for what my opinion here is worth) with spekticalscience.com when they present us with a scenario of almost 100% renewable energy by 2050, if we cut our current consumption by half. The Global Energy Assessment I spoke about however is about increasing total primary energy supply to more than double our current consumption. And that's what I'm skeptical about. Without wanting to debate the probability of 100% renewable energy by 2050, I just want to understand if I'm correct in saying it's impossible to continue to have economic growth at the level the GEA assumes.

Because I see as crucial the point that economic growth is no longer possible. Decreasing energy consumption for me equals decreasing economic activity (minus efficiency gains). And that's the main message I try to get out to friends and family.


Any serious model of getting close to 100% renewable, or even a combination of nuclear and renewable, involves eliminating waste on a grand scale and being more miserly with energy. Most studies assume half from efficiencies and half from renewables, or somewhere around there, and they footnote it carefully :-)

I'm no techno-utopian though. I don't think we will pull it off. I also think there will be more wailing and ganshing of teeth in the coming energy transitions than we saw in the previous ones. The cycle will be rapid and far too many will be left out in the cold/heat. We're too far into overshoot of carrying capacity and we don't share well (see tribal comments elsewhere on this very same drumbeat).

I do hope those studies were some help though. They are at least trying, thinking, learning....

100% wind and solar has nothing to do with being miserly, it has much more to do with turning things on when the sun shines or the wind blows, and turning them off when it stops.

Either we 'waste' the energy because it falls on solar panels or blows by wind turbines when we can't use it, or store it, or we can 'waste' 75% of the energy, but store 25% of it in a process that only runs when we have abundance.

Think of electric trains that only roll across the american midwest when the wind blows, and then provide power back to the grid for a few minutes while they slow down when the wind stops.

Better would be freight trains carrying low value commodities rolling at 70 or 80 mph when the wind is blowing OR the sun is shining, and slowing to 35 or 40 mph when running off bio-mass or pumped storage.

Trains carrying higher value cargo - say tomatoes, green onions or strawberries in refrigerated cars - need to keep rolling quickly. But they could slow down from 80 Mph to 65 or 70 mph.

Best Hopes for Demand Response,


Here's a really crazy idea! According to this web page each 80 sq ft. of roof should be able to generate 1kW (1.5hp) of power making a one mile train long capable of generating 528 kW less maybe 10% for the spaces between the cars. Would it be enough to accelerate the train to a cruising speed in a reasonable amount of time or to maintain cruising speed? What if a couple of the cars were huge batteries for recapturing the energy during deceleration or excess energy generated during cruising under optimum sunlight conditions? Would it just be way too expensive?

It once occurred to me when I saw something about solar cells in the roof of a car that, if any form of transportation were to benefit from carrying around solar PV on it's roof, it would have to be a train.

Alan from the islands

One of the big advantages of an electric train vs. an EV is that you do not have to store the energy in some form of matter, and you do not need to waste energy carrying that matter with energy stored in it along with you. Why would you want to corrupt the idea by adding batteries to an electric train? OTOH, if you could provide significant solar assist directly when the sun was shining it might be worth the added cost and weight.

Switzerland is 100% electrified railroads, but only them. France plans to.

In the USA, a battery loco to go down a 12 mile spur to a grain elevator. Perhaps a mile electrified to load the train & get the train rolling at the elevator and then batteries to keep it rolling till the main line.

If the grain elevator is served by only a dozen trains/year, why electrify ?

And several other examples - switchyards, factory that only gets one or two freight cars at a time - use a battery loco to pick them up from the siding and run to several loading docks around the factory, etc.

Best Hopes for Electrified Main Lines,


One nice thing about having at least a small battery would be that you could arrange things so that a power failure on a hot day wouldn't be a death sentence for some of the passengers. Such as, at least the capability to pull into a station or other safe place. After all, it's not a pretty picture when it's 115F in the southern US and the "uncorrupted" train suddenly turns into a locked-down solar cooker. Remember, even in much cooler Germany they've had problems.

In the UK, trains used to pull out of Euston station and stack up waiting for space on the line. If they pull out of the platform then stop they can be counted as 'departed on time' and so no penalties. These trains would be jam packed, standing room only. After a long, sweaty day the last thing you want is to spend an hour with solar illumination from the side while sitting in a cutting that has been soaking up sun all day.


It seems to me PV on a train would be more valuable on a diesel electric train. Reduces fuel consumption when the sun is shining. The DE train is a diesel powered generator, then an electric motor, so why not augment the generator with wahtever other source of electric power available. Once you have commodity electricity available, you are competing against the bulk price of power, rather than the cost of diesel generated power.

Interesting idea for refrigerated cars.

They would already be electrically coupled, and, unlike containers, flat cars and open hopper cars (coal, etc.) the exposed side is railroad car.

They need electricity to stay cool.


Other type rail cars (tank cars, gondolas, etc.) would need electrical connections to feed the loco in front. Extra labor & expense to couple and uncouple. Perhaps more useful would be trackside solar PV (less damage, easier to maintain, etc.)


Every time I think of the 'Boxcar Solar' notion, I end up again with the Trackside Solar.. maybe in combo with the Rail ROW also working as an electrical corridor, so it feeds the trains as they come through, and also the towns and the grid overall otherwise.

This offers a side benefit, perhaps, of having the track access and regular power available for these hundreds of linear miles of PV, for easier maintenance, replacement, security, etc..

Of course, Paul's add-on isn't bad, considering the prices of PV now, to have a bit of Rooftop Solar to Air Conditioning as a level of security and resilience for passengers, in case the power does go poof for some reason. Might not need the batteries much at all, since you'd really only need it desperately when you're in direct sunlight..

Lemons to Lemonade! Death Sentence Commuted for the Commuters!

Never thought of this use of PV but it seems feasible. Many of the routes from west coast or Texas to midwest are through areas that have abundant sunshine. Current technology for refrigerated railcars uses end of car diesel units like trucks have. Put PV array on roof and electric refrig unit on end instead of diesel powered unit. Another possibility is to have small generator on axle that would create current during braking to charge some batteries. Such a system would probably be cheaper to build and maintain than diesel units.

Passenger cars from 1920's through 1970's had similar technology to provide lighting and ventilation, but generator was continually connected to supply power at all times (put extra load on locomotive to pull train), so it did not save any energy.

Once the price of PV as a system have dropped enough, or fuel prices risen enough, I think we will all start to see PV on roofs of commercial transportation, such as semi-trailer roofs, train roofs, and such.

At low enough prices, then new rail cars, and semi-trailers will just come with the PV systems embedded, and it will not be an 'add on' but already part of the product.

The typical dimension of a U.S. trailer (of a semi-trailer truck) is 8.5 feet wide by 53 feet long which is 41.9 m2. At 15% efficiency for PV and 1000 W/m2 insolation that gives a rated power of 6.3 kW. Given that they would be pointing vertically (close to optimal in summer but bad for winter) and shaded by various objects at times, I estimate their capacity factor would be 13%. On a sunny day they would deliver to the load between 17 kWh and 32 kWh and quite a bit less on a cloudy day.

Is that enough to run a reefer semi-trailer?

Portable Cold Storage for Trailers requires a 3-Phase, 220V, 60 Amps/Phase power supply. That's a maximum power of 39.6 kW to get 0F (-18 C) in the trailer. The PV panels are inadequate, and I am not sure if improved insulation and efficiency in the refrigeration unit could close the gap.

It lists the insulation as:

"3" Polyurethane on side walls & floor, 4" on ceiling"

which should be about R-21 and R-28 respectively and is better insulation than in a regular residential freezer. One might have to use a vacuum as an insulator which would increase the weight.

Aerogel boards would fit the bill and that sort of application would be ideal.


Thanks for mentioning aerogel because I have not heard of it before. I am doubtful R-10 / inch with an extremely high price ($5 / square foot) would beat R-7 / inch with a significantly lower price. It would have to insulate between -18 C and ambient temperature overnight without any power.

Refrigeration in a trailer between 0 C and 4 C would be much easier to achieve using PV than a freezer.

If production runs of trailers are being lined I would expect an effect on prices and remember that the wholesale price will be less than the retail. Also, a lot of those boards are optimised for construction, I think that the numbers could be greatly improved if they are buried in the walls of trailers rather than designed to be handled by construction workers and have a sheet of sheetrock stuck to them. A potential but would need some work on it, early days yet.


McKay was instrumental in setting up a web-tool with public access for the UK Government, which evaluates energy resources for the UK, what they cost and the energy they can provide, together with things like the amount of land which would have to be devoted to biomass or wind.
You can plug in your own preferred solutions, but here is mine:

The UK could run mostly on a nuclear plant around 1.5 times bigger than that of present-day France, or about 1.5kw per person, with only small inputs from fossil fuels mainly for aviation etc.
Conservation would be needed, including things like air source heat pumps and the electrification of light transport, but without any need for reduced comfort such as switching down the thermostats which is in the FOE plan, and with growth in incomes, so that the modest costs are very affordable.
Reductions in CO2 would be around 80%.

So there would appear to be no need for reduced living standards, huge expenditure on unreliable renewables, and so on.

Of course there will be those who think that WHO etc are conspiring to cover up vast casualties from Fukushima, but there is really no way of addressing those whose position is not based on logic, and who dismiss any counters are being part of the conspiracy, and accept any hysterical claim as gospel.

Based on medical risk assessments the risks of a nuclear future would appear to be absolutely tiny, certainly in comparison to the risks of social breakdown and way if we fail to produce enough energy, or global warming if we stick to fossil fuels.

Anyway, that is my opinion, but have a play around with the tool and see what you think.

Is the cost of abandoning London - quite possibly for a couple of centuries - included in the cost analysis ?

Because that ALMOST happened to Tokyo ! All it would have taken was winds to the south instead of west.

And I think a prime spot for a dozen or so nukes is up prevailing winds from London.


Personally, I believe Tokyo and a large portion of Japan will still eventually be abandoned.

The Japanese have a plan that's working towards that; it's called "extremely low birthrates, and virtually no immigration".

If they can keep from blowing up any more nuclear power plants, I doubt Tokyo will be abandoned. Radically altered, for sure, but cities like that last a long time - Kyoto was Heian, the capital, more than a thousand years ago. Tokyo was a major city long before it was called Tokyo. It may shrink but it would take a true apocalypse to destroy it.

From what I can tell, Tokyo and surrounding areas are highly contaminated, as is the food and possibly the water supply. I don't doubt people will still live there, but they will not be a healthy population. Eventually those that can will leave.

As I said, it is utterly pointless bothering arguing with those who simply stick as many noughts on risk as they fancy.
Health risk does not kick in from radioactivity until 100mSv, and then at very low levels.

A nuclear melt down was supposed to render the northern hemisphere uninhabitable for hundreds of years or whatever.
Well, we have had 5 and confirmed casualties are around 50.

There is a better case for abandoning all cities due to the many thousands of confirmed deaths from air pollution from cars and coal than there is for the evacuation zone around Fukushima.

What happens is deck switching in the argument.
If later casualties from radiation are supposed to be in the thousands from radiation, then why not from industrial chemicals?
Statistical noise is being exploited to give a false appearance of authority to wild and hysterical claims on future deaths.
The 'best' solution then would be to abandon industrial society.

Coal kills something like a million people a year.
It would be very difficult to design a nuclear power system which is anything like as dangerous.

It is rather like the nuclear waste 'issue'.
With reprocessing, France produces something like one taxi-cab worth by volume of high level waste, for generating 75% of it's electricity by nuclear power.

The renewables 'solutions' are bogus, in the sense that they can't run an industrial society.
So in reality, as in Germany and Japan, less nuclear means more fossil fuel burn.

So what are the risks from increased CO2 impeding the monsoon and killing billions, compared to nuclear where the predictions of China-syndrome sized problems have proved utterly false?

Still, we now have an experiment going.
Renewables will fall flat on their face in Germany, at enormous cost.

Fake solutions tend to do that.
The risks of nuclear are exaggerated until they are fake.
The 'problem' of waste is non-existent.

Health risk does not kick in from radioactivity until 100mSv, and then at very low levels.

Simply not proven and quite probably not true !!

Humanity gets significantly more radiation than we evolved for. Medical, dental and C14 from atomic bombs. More radiation is bad.

You are apparently not serious in your analysis. I did not bother reading past the first two sentences - more pro-nuke untruths I suspect.


But it is simply not proven true that LNT model works for low-level radiation risk. It is quite probable that LNT is NOT true. If this is the case, then your arguments against N-power based on fear of ANY rad exposure no matter how small falls apart. You can't seem to even contemplate this possibility and prefer to toss pejorative dismissals instead (e.g. "More pro-nuke untruths!"). You are apparently not serious in your analysis... Would you claim that Prof. Wade Allison is not serious in his analysis?

Nuclear power clearly can scale to eliminate huge swaths of fossil use - just see France for an example. But, if the biggest argument against it is that ANY possible increase in radiation background, no matter how small the chance of such a scenario and how little the amount, is intolerable then I think the international community should resolve to put this LNT debate to bed. The future of humanity just might hinge on proper evaluation of the TRUE risks of low level radiation exposure, hence the true dangers posed by any huge expansion of N-power. It seems there are a lot of people not interested in the debate because they prefer their pet biases or agendas that would prefer to keep nuke power held back.

Humanity in the developed world has ALREADY been exposed to much elevated radiation above natural. Medical & dental X-rays and C14, tighter homes and more radon

And there is very considerable logic in a linear response to radiation.

UNTIL conclusively proven otherwise - it is the best assumption to make for policy consideration. Which is why it is assumed for public policy reasons.


Increased background radiation from properly operating nukes is a very minor argument - almost never heard actually - to expanding nuclear power.

There are a number of better reasons to minimize nukes as much as possible (see exploding reactors at Fukushima) and maximize efficiency & renewables. I am actually pro-nuke - *AFTER* we have pushed the better solutions as far and as hard as we can.


I looked at the Europe Reactor map yesterday and France, sitting there with 58 sites sure stands out against neighbors with 8 or 9. What do you think the odds are that our current economic problems 'Over There' could turn at some point into an unfortunate but not at all unheard of Hot War on the Continent? Yes, it's very unlikable prospect.. but how does France secure 58 Sites from Tanks, RPGs, Missile Strikes, etc, and keep their lights on pumps running and cold water and crewpeople coming in.. while also trying to simply conduct a decent campaign? Sure, you could say, "I don't see that happening.. a War in Europe.. nowadays?" .. But still, what do you as President have to do about 58 Nuclear Sites if you hear the call of 'Incoming!' ??

What would you say are the odds that Climate Change is actually happening, and one of our many, many heavily populated centers that have Reactors either Nearby or Upwind will be facing a condition of either too much water, not enough water, no grid-power, no diesel or available emergency crews, no cashflow for proper maintenance, parts and staff.. etc? I think the odds of any of these combinations taking any of these reactors quickly beyond their design threshhold is getting higher and higher, very quickly.

I don't hear in your argument a signal that you find these challenges could put any of the Western Nations into the situation that Japan and Ukraine find themselves in, where they would soon have to admit that they don't have the ability to control the results, and are at the mercy of Lady Luck to determine their fate. Germany seems to see it, and I don't doubt that they would agree that their options are slim and mostly pretty bad.. but this one is simply worse, once you look at the costs, the dislocations and the upset it causes to the functioning of everything else around it.

Actually, I think the French have about 17 active sites to defend.

Some on right on the border (Chooz, Cattennom, Fessenheim).

Given the problems the French have had with nukes in the summer, all new nukes go on the ocean. And that means the Atlantic (property values too high @ the Riveria).

Earlier I speculated on what the next round of French nukes would look like. I assume all 1.6 GW EPRs and fewer total MW of nukes (obviously the French over built last time).

Perhaps 30 to 33 EPRs at a half dozen or so sites. 20 GW of wind to help in the winter and 25 GW of solar to help in the summer. Pumped storage and existing hydro should mean a 1% or 2% FF grid.


Given the problems the French have had with nukes in the summer, all new nukes go on the ocean

And there has never EVER been anything like underwater movements of the Earth to make big waves.

Or rocks from space splashing down in the sea.

"The 'problem' of waste is non-existent". And PV makes power at night. As long as these rods are protected by only a few inches of water and "stored" above ground, IT IS a showstopper dead serious issue, Its crazy not to get what we can below ground at ratepayer expense before additional extensions or new plants, that's the way the wind is blowing, so lets get started, most onsite pools are shy of room. A single "spent" fuel rod assembly could toast a billion??, Have held a new fuel pellet tube in my paws, but would experience the most horrible death with this same pellet a few months later.

Renewables will fall flat on their face in Germany, at enormous cost.

Well they certainly pay more for their electricity but what do you mean 'fall flat on their face'? They produce lots of power. Do you expect the PV panels to disappear or something? Do you think the wind turbines to just fly off?

Written by DaveW:
Still, we now have an experiment going.
Renewables will fall flat on their face in Germany, at enormous cost.

Since nuclear power has been shut down in Germany, it has failed due to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Meanwhile my house has been electrically powered by my off-grid photovoltaic system for the last 21 years. It has not fallen flat on its face here. My propane consumption has decreased from about 150 gallons/year to less than 1 gallon/year relegated to backup. My gasoline consumption is about 37 gallons/year (140 l/year). I suspect creativity, innovation and adaptability will surprise those who lack those attributes. Calamity and pollution await those who continue playing with the nuclear genie and, unfortunately by the vast scope of its uncontrollable hazards, possibly those who forsake it. Germany will likely excel leaving the dinosaurs shivering in the cold to fall flat on their faces as they perish.

"Germany will likely excel leaving the dinosaurs shivering in the cold to fall flat on their faces as they perish."

He who runs out of oil first fares the best chances long term.

Go Yemen, go Yemen!

A nuclear melt down was supposed to render the northern hemisphere uninhabitable for hundreds of years or whatever.

Citation? What proof do you have to make this statement?

I discovered McKay's calculator some months ago, I see they added a more detailed cost representation bar. About his book, I wonder why there's no mention at all about peak oil? Too controversial?

I'm very doubtful about nuclear energy. On the one hand, I agree with you that it's the least painful choice, if we start soon enough with building those reactors. If you have to choose between disaster climate change, or societal collapse. But I have two concerns:

- All information on the matter I found warned for a peak in uranium production somewhere between 2020 and 2030. That is, with current planned reactors' demand. If you add 1.5 times France's fleet, I guess Uranium becomes scarce even quicker. 4th generation reactors and fast breeders could do away with this problem, but not speaking of costs (and supplementary safety concerns?).

- My second concern is about nuclear waste. I understand you saying that health implications until now are negligible compared to every other option. But I don't entirely buy this. Myself I've met parents in France who lost three children to cancer. Their fourth, last daughter was still fighting the disease. You could see the reactor building in the distance behind their house. I know this is just an anecdote, but even current health implications aside, the risk of just one serious disaster is too big, even if it's one in ten thousand. And this is not speaking of the accumulating waste, which we haven't been able to manage even during the golden years of our civilization. Now economic contraction will make capital needed ever more, while it will be decreasing in supply. I don't see a rosy future in waste handling. And worse than it is now is just not acceptable.

Thorium reactors maybe? A political party here in Belgium recently suggested investing in them.

But theorizing all we want, public and political sphere is only speaking of decommissioning our reactors (In Belgium, but I guess things aren't very different in the UK). With the lag in construction (and development for 4th gen), I just don't think nuclear will make a difference.

I personally discussed peak oil with Prof MacKay whilst he was still writing his book. He wasn't interested, I think because he couldn't let go of his BAU view of industrial society. He is a very good scientist, but he is not good at seeing the bigger picture when the bigger picture is not documented by peer reviewed scientific journals. I suspect it also didn't help in that it makes a lot of hard work he put into his book a bit academic. What does it matter that we could run the UK on nuclear and tidal power alone if we don't have the energetic capital to build all those power stations and tidal barrages anyway? What use planning for the energy demands of an eponentially growing economy if the economy is on the stair-step to implosion?

Thank you for this information. I hesitated to send him an e-mail asking him about it. Maybe he had an opinion I would find worth considering? But I understand now. A pity indeed, the part about the future energy plans for the UK I read without the enthusiasm I had for the first parts. They were useful to put contributions in context, but I severely doubt the reality behind it. But then, it was the scope of the book as he intended it: to consider technical possibilities, without the vague (not easily definable) financial, political, ... implications.

Have a look at the calculator I linked earlier.
Effectively society can run on around 1.5kw per capita, plus some fossil fuels for aviation etc.
That is about 1.5 times the capacity France already has.
Taking the cost from that of the first of a kind Finnish reactor, it is around $5,000kw.
So you need about $7,500 per capita.
Over a 20 year build that is about $375pa per capita plus interest.

It actually takes around 52 months to build a reactor, excluding Luddites getting into the approval process.

Once a reactor is built, the design life is 60 years, so after amortisation, say in 30 years, it turns out power at around 2 cents kwh at the plant gates.

There is nothing remotely un-financible about that.
The cries that nuclear in uneconomic come from allowing gas prices to rise and fall arbitrarily, which of course would make any source where the cost is upfront difficult to finance, but naturally pet renewables are not compared on that basis, but have all sorts of mandates to shelter them.

If the decision is taken not to build nuclear power, it is a political one.
China has now completed it's assessment post Fukushima, and is going to turn on the build again.
The West may be impoverished and de-industrialised from the hysteria of the greens, but China and India have no intention of joining them.

Reality check - in multiple dimensions.

Why do new US nukes require several times the gov't subsidies of wind ? And even then only a couple of pair may get built.

You have COMPLETELY ignored the cost of evacuating London - or another major part of the country.

Or common design flaws (see that brilliant bit of British engineering - Magnox) and more recently the French N4 reactors.

And loads do not follow the flat output of nukes.

I agree that, unfortunately we will need to build some nukes. BUT they are the worst choice after efficiency & renewables. Do the best first, and build as few nukes as you can in an ideal world.

And *SO* many more points you have conveniently overlooked.

And anyone concerned with nuke safety is a Luddite !!!

I need a nice link to a Chernobyl necklace here.


I don't know, I could be very wrong, but you seem to have a too biased favor for nuclear I'm getting skeptical of your claims. For example, on the finnish reactor. I suppose you mean the recent Olkiluoto power plant?


Finland: This month, the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finland was supposed to start producing power. Instead, the plant is at least three and a half years late and more than 50 percent over-budget. Olkiluoto was to be the “poster child” for the new generation of nuclear power plant designs that would drive the “Nuclear Renaissance” and if any nuclear project was going to go well. Instead, it has become an example of all that can go wrong in economic terms with new reactors. The vendor (Areva NP) and the utility are in bitter dispute over who will bear the cost overruns and there is a real risk now that the utility will default.

And what about peak Uranium? I would be very glad if you could address this. Fast-breeders or 4th gen are not there yet.

I think you're a reincarnation of jeppen or r4ndom

They had, IMHO. better reasoning in their arguments.


I worked for a little while in the nuclear industry. I still think the thorium fuel cycle has tremendous potential, especially the molten salt version. However, I have to admit it was both shocking and humbling to watch reactor 3 blow up at Fukushima. That was a real O sh_t moment. I think the key is that the complete reactor and fuel cycle worst case accident has to be below a certain threshold even if there is no power, no water, no nothing working to maintain the reactor or spent fuel. Having to abandon London or Tokyo is not an option, even at a million to one odds. That being said, I think we should be actively supporting research on nuclear technology to get us there because we have enough thorium for thousands of years of electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions.

I once discounted new technology nukes since the experience curve was so VERY long. Before one would want to place a, say, thorium + uranium# molten salt reactor upwind of London or Tokyo, one would want a couple of decades operating experience with a the same type, & size in more remote locations - Siberia, Idaho, south Georgia, Texas, northern Hokkaido, northern Scotland, etc. Several thousand reactor years operation with the new type.

Fission waste would be stored in containment as secure as the reactor itself.

After several decades of massive work on efficiency (which Dave thinks means "lower standard of living" HAH) and renewables, new type nukes might fill in the spaces, displacing the last of the FF.

In the US, I can see renewables + efficiency replacing 85% to 92.5% (roughly) of demand, but that last % in some areas is tough ! IMVHO, nukes will be needed for that.


# Spiking the thorium fuel mix with a little U235 makes the physics & engineering work a lot easier.

BTW, EVERY nuclear power plant in the world should be retrofitted with solar power + batteries as reliable emergency power back-up. One set deployed and feeding the grid, a second set inside a Gaussian cage in case of an EMP event (Carrington+ from the sun or man made or unknown event (did Tunguska release an EMP in 1908 Siberia ?)). the second set needs to be easily assembled & deployed by hand.

BTW, regarding reliable nuclear power.

More than half, 2,200 MW, of California's nuclear power will be off-line for this summer due to a design flaw in the replacement steam generator tubes. They leak.

Now if California has more similar nukes, all with the same design problem, they would be in great trouble.


WEll spotted!

The number of typographical errors in r/j's texts is quite low.


Try "Is radiation harmful?".

I think the luddites are all busy trying to hammer the rising number of pinhole leaks out of the overladen steam pipes at San Onofre, keeping rhythm with the chant of 'Renewables cannot scale, Renewables cannot scale..'

You're still a bit early trying to offer how much the unfinished Finnish plant will be able to sell their power for.. I don't think it's first of a kind until it's operational.

Chernobyl is still costing a huge amount for workers who shorten their lives to keep it stable and of course huge swaths around it are not safe for habitation.
Fukishima has dumped and is continuing to spew radiation.
But beyond the huge risks with nuclear fission is the fact that we are facing Peak Uranium as documented in this Website the Oildrum previously:

So we spend billions for incredibly dangerous nuclear fission plants with toxic byproducts which last for centuries and still have not found safe disposal so we can continue with BAU energy waste for another 50 years until uranium also runs out?
What is the point?
Why take the risk? Why not just invest in the Green Transition NOW?
Furthermore how are we going to convert our Auto Addicted transit from oil?
If everyone tools around in electric 2 ton personal cars we will need huge amounts of ADDED
electricity to run them all. Or, again, we can begin investing in the Green Transition NOW
and begin running our existing already built Green public transit 24x7 with frequent service and expand it over time and over time invest in major upgrades for High speed rail, Light and Commuter Rail down existing highway medians and rights of way.
Chris Nelder has an excellent outline of the huge costs of the US Auto/Air addicted transit and what it would take to move towards Green Transit:
This piece is highly recommended for its outline of the strategy we need to support transportation past Peak Oil/ Uranium..

X - "... but an optimistic extrapolation of what is technically possible..." I think you may have the weakness of their projection. "Technically recoverable" is a little trick many oil/NG reserve cornucopians love to toss out. IOW there's a huge amount of energy out there to be developed as long as the economics of doing so aren't considered. Such as its technically correct that the US could reduce it demand for gasoline greatly if everyone started driving electric cars in the next 5 years. Can't argue with that projection. Of course: if you don't consider that not enough e-cars could be built that quickly; if you don't consider that the majority of the public can't afford to pay for all those cars in that short a time frame; if you don't consider the inability of the existing transmission system to handle the resultant increase in demand.

That's not to say we shouldn't be moving in such directions. But there's a capital cost that has to be taken into account. I've seen many projects that made economic sense but weren't pursued because the capital was lacking. While it may make sense for a quick switch to renewables it won't be done cheaply or quickly. And we can't stop spending capital for fossil fuels until the renewables replace them. Thus not only do societies need to keep paying dearly for existing energy sources but also spend even more money for the development of alternative energy sources. If you don't factor in the economics of such projects and their associate capital demands one can make fantastically optimistic projections.

Take the current news: it would make great economic sense for Greece to begin a major expansion of alternative energy today. Who could argue against such logic? OTOH the DB article above explains how Greece is apparently unable to purchase the imported energy it needs today to keep their society functional. Where are they going to get the monies to build renewable? Given their geographic location wind and solar may be very good TECHNICAL options. But financially possible options? It doesn't seem very likely.

Thanks Rockman, Greece's case is a great example. If people hear that it's 'technically possible', usually they appear to think the scenarios are then just a matter of opinion differences between optimists and pessimists, both being equally worth of consideration. The more the financial mess we're in unfolds, the easier I think it'll get to have people understand the importance of those capital investments, and the real difference between the (opimistic) technical and (pessimistic) probable futures. Except of course if the delusion just will keep on getting stronger the worse it gets. My main objective in all this is simply to get people convinced in taking action. I'm young and still very dependent on the course my family decides to take. Until now I've only been succesful in keeping my own vegetable garden and collecting some useful material. I hope to refine my arguments to the point they're so clear it would be very unwise not to consider some serious preparation.

EDIT: Apparently Greece hasn't discarded the green energy option: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/04/greek-hopes-rest-solar-power-economi...

PM Lucas Papademos, who recently spoke at a renewable energy and infrastructure development summit in Athens, said that investment in green energy was a “national priority” to boost economic growth. Project Helios is the Greek government’s massive initiative to ramp up solar power production from 206 MW to 2.2. GW by 2020 and up to 10 GW by 2050. The country is aiming to become the EU’s largest exporter of green energy.

Of course, the investment has to come from abroad.

Thing is, they'll Borrow money to pay an outstanding oil and gas bill. Will they test their credit or overextend for more sober responses to an emergency situation, or just keep buying bandaids?

Germany just gives the renewables to the Greeks ?

Likely more useful than some other aid they have forked over.


Not so, apparently.


Despite support from the European Union, a massive Greek solar energy proposal isn't a priority for its would-be German customers, a Berlin energy official says.


The project, which is envisioned to produce 10 gigawatts of electricity from sunny Greece, is contingent on finding Western European customers and Germany, which has the most potential customers, is the logical choice.

But Becker said at the gathering his country is more interested in spending resources on its own clean energy sector than in purchasing more expensive imported energy, the Athens daily Katherimini reported.

Gazprom or the Greeks - hard choice that ! /sarc

Just SWAG, but the same solar panel, installed in Greece, will generate twice the annual power of it's Rhineland or Bavarian twin.

And significantly more than twice as much during the fall and winter. With the solar noon offset by an hour or so from Germany.

Cloudy weather in Germany is likely to be independent of clouds in Greece. And Greek or German wind can fill the same transmission lines at night, reducing forced shutdown of renewable power in Germany and adding geographic diversity to German renewable power supplies.

Oh well,


I doubt the 2x will hold, once you factor in transmission costs. And the Germans figure most of the cost of panels deployed at home will be spent in the local economy. Mercantilism at its finest. If they don't find/allow some way for the Greeks to make ends meet, nobody will be better off. But, resentiments filtered by politics works this way.

Toss in some pumped storage in the Croatian Alps en route to Germany, and you're in even better shape.

And access to more pumped storage in Croatia would pay for the northern section of the transmission lines to Greece :-)


As I was saying about political factors.. A few years back it was proposed to partially power the eastern (US) seaboard with modwest wind. Eastern politicians wouldn't have it, because many of the jobs would be in the midwest! They saw it as an economic giveaway to others.

Such as its technically correct that the US could reduce it demand for gasoline greatly if everyone started driving electric cars in the next 5 years. Can't argue with that projection. Of course: if you don't consider that not enough e-cars could be built that quickly; if you don't consider that the majority of the public can't afford to pay for all those cars in that short a time frame; if you don't consider the inability of the existing transmission system to handle the resultant increase in demand.

I agree that we would probably not be able to manufacture enough of them and we DEFINITELY could not afford to pay for all those electric cars. However, except for upgrading many local transformers, the current electricity production and distribution system could handle all those electric cars as long as they were all powered up over night. They've studied this:

And you would sure be very busy drilling natural gas wells!

Uh, Rock, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.

We now have both a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt. Great cars.

Could they build a lot more of them? Of course, if folks were smart enough to buy them.

You say people can't afford them. Nonsense: the Leaf costs only slightly more than the median new car price. People keep saying that electic cars are unaffordable, when they don't ever say that about the over-sized pickups, Suburbans, not to mention the luxury cars, that lots of people buy. Yes, a few people actually need a big pickup, but cruise through a bank garage in Houston and you will see a lot of shiny big pickups that have never seen a bale of hay.

As for "the power grid can't support it", there is lots of surplus power at night. Charging by solar panels is easy, and you can buy the panels to charge your car for the rest of your life for the cost of 3 years' gasoline.

When you think "the power grid can't handle it", just imagine what would happen if we had some crazy national holiday where everybody cooked a turkey simultaneously using their electric stove. Oh, wait...

When you think "the power grid can't handle it", just imagine what would happen if we had some crazy national holiday where everybody cooked a turkey simultaneously using their electric stove. Oh, wait...

I'm going to steal that one. (although many of those ovens are natural gas powered)

Superbowl...many TVs (some with surround sound systems attached) on, most hooked up to sateelite or cable TV boxes which also draw power...

Winter Holiday/Christmas lights...

Tech - I think you missed my point: the time frame. Do you think it's realistic to expect many tens of millions of e-cars to be built and purchased in the next 5 years? There exists many improvements to our energy consumption profile that could be achieved. But can those costs can't be met over such short periods IMHO. Yes...over 20 - 30+ years some improvements could be financially viable. But back to my point: you offer potential solutions. That's fine. Now where is your capital outlay schedule to support your solution? My point is that folks who offer solutions (which are typically really goals and not solutions) seldom offer an estimate of the aggregate cost and a realistic time frame.

seldom offer an estimate of the aggregate cost and a realistic time frame.

I think I have.

For example, to electrify 36,000 miles of US rail main lines, with the same effort used to boil more tar out of more sand in Alberta, would take about $80 billion ($50 billion if extrapolated from BNSF) and 7 years. 6 years per schedule and an extra year for Murphy's Law.

And then I just look to what France is doing, multiply by 4.75 (population & economy ratio US:France) and say Americans can do something comparable - if we want to.

IMO, the first step to doing something is believing that in can be done. Much of what I advocate is beyond the experience of most Americans - so simply getting them to believe that it can be done is a first step.

Best Hopes for Understanding what can be done,


$80 billion invested in the oil sands would produce about 1 million barrels per day of additional oil production, which I'm sure would be more than enough to keep all North American railroads supplied with diesel fuel indefinitely. I personally think that electrifying the railroads would be a good idea regardless, but the railroad companies themselves seem to disagree with me.

It would take government money to motive them, but giving them $80 billion would be far cheaper and more effective than e.g. invading Iraq. It's just that adding oil sands production is more cost-effective than either electrifying railroads or invading Iraq.

BTW, the Alberta government is subsidizing (indirectly) the construction of a bitumen-to-diesel upgrader that will convert the Alberta government's share of oil sands production directly to diesel fuel with a 50% diesel cut. The other 50% of output they will sell to the oil refineries to produce gasoline or whatever. I think the Alberta government has a pretty good idea of where things are going and is trying to ensure that Alberta will not run short of diesel fuel regardless of what happens to the rest of North America.

When operating costs are included, investing in railroad electrification is at least as good as tar sands.

One issue is size. RRs are investing 18% of GROSS revenues - $13 billion this year. And all for worthwhile projects, none of them electrified.


Do you think it's realistic to expect many tens of millions of e-cars to be built and purchased in the next 5 years?

I don't think that is realistic at all. However, I think it imperative to keep the incentive programs going and keep developing them during this time. I think EVs are where solar panels were 10 to 15 years ago . . . not every cost-effective but continually improving. The EVs need support so they can keep innovating & improving. That way, they will be ready when oil prices inevitably spike back up again.

The UK National Grid guy, in the video posted by HiH, stated they were preparing for 1/2 million EVs, in the UK, in only 8 years. Either he is wildly optimistic or there is something he knows and we don't.


Yeah, I think around 30% to 50% is 'possible' and it 'could' be done. But in reality, it is not going to happen since it would require strong political will and buy-in from the electorate. That simply does not exist in most places. Actually, I don't think it exists anywhere except perhaps Germany and maybe Norway.

A lot will depend on technological progress. If solar keeps getting more efficient and cheaper, it could become relatively easy. I think amazing things could happen if all new homes mandated just the OPTION of solar and were at least designed for solar to be easily added later. If you are looking a several hundred thousand dollar purchase and just $10K or $15K more would eliminate your electricity bill, I think many would sign up for it.

I could very well see the Danes go big for solar (say 10% to 15% of total MWh).

They, and California, were the founders on modern wind power. They have a higher % of CHP than anyone else in the world.

*NOT* an ideal location for solar PV, but not that much worse than Germany. And a good compliment to the their wind and CHP.

Best Hopes for the Danes,


I am wondering how much to read into this post by Matt Yglesias:

[T]he Fed impacts both inflation and employment by influencing aggregate demand. A years-long span of 8+% unemployment helps keep prices low. People who are broke or unemployed curtail their own consumption and thus alleviate scarcity. A tradeoff needs to be made in the short-term. If gas prices spike, people will be upset and many families' bottom lines will suffer. But is keeping the labor market weak in order to keep millions of people unemployed rather than commuting really a sound way of coping with the moderate scarcity of oil? I say no. Ben Bernanke seems to say yes. But he's getting away with not putting the issue squarely before the public.

This suggests the reason Bernanke has pursued a low-inflation, high-unemployment policy is that he thinks stronger employment growth would be self-defeating, thanks to insufficient oil supply. In other words, the Fed is evolving toward a slow-growth economic paradigm in response to peak oil (whether they call it by that name or not).

My interpretation of the Fed's actions had simply been that the Fed was pursuing low-inflation/high-unemployment because that was to the benefit of creditors (i.e., banks and investors) by maximizing the value of incumbent assets and by reducing the leverage of workers seeking higher wages, and that because of this my background assumption about oil supply and the economy - namely, that any level of economic recovery consistent with an improving labor market would lead to a spike in oil prices, which would in turn smack down that very recovery - was not being tested. (In other words, the Fed's beholdenness to the financial industry was a more proximate cause for the weak economy than was constrained oil supply.) But this comment by Yglesias is intriguing because it suggests that the Fed's mismanagement of the economy is itself a function of constrained oil supply.

My interpretation of the Fed's actions had simply been that the Fed was pursuing low-inflation/high-unemployment because that was to the benefit of creditors (i.e., banks and investors) by maximizing the value of incumbent assets and by reducing the leverage of workers seeking higher wages, and that because of this my background assumption about oil supply and the economy - namely, that any level of economic recovery consistent with an improving labor market would lead to a spike in oil prices, which would in turn smack down that very recovery

Probably true, but it's also a function of housing prices and overall government and consumer debt. Allowing higher inflation/lower employment would inevitably lead to lower house prices, as interest rates (borrowing costs) would sharply rise from the all-time lows they are at now. This alone would probably tip the U.S. back into a depression and strangle the "recovery" (in banking sector profits, not in jobs). Additionally, it would drive up interest paid to service the National Debt, thus further squeezing government's ability to borrow or spend on anything else even further. The same thing would happen to the already leveraged-up-to-their-eyeballs consumers. The Fed is basically in a zero bound death spiral --it *cannot* raise overnight/inter-bank lending rates, as doing so would crash the economy across multiple fronts. The only question is, how long will "extend and pretend" and "kick the can" keep on working before it no longer does?

The banks own you. How does it feel?

I would not rank Yglesias high as an analyst of such things. Not at all. He's just throwing darts and filling space.

Yeah, I find it highly unlikely that oil prices (in specific) were at all taken into consideration when setting interest rates. They certainly take into consideration the price changes of commodities in general but I doubt they've considered oil as a special case. But aren't the proceedings of the relatively public so someone should be able to verify if this was taken into consideration?


The B2 scenario shown in slide 8 of the presentation is an IPCC
scenario for future emission pathways. It's considered the greenest alternative future. In that scenario, the world turns away from fossil fuels and towards lower carbon alternatives.

This occurs despite the fact that the IPCC's assumption is that fossil
fuels are, globally, abundant or even superabundant. The Austrian think tank IIASA
is the source of much of those underlying resource estimates.

Oil drummers would, for the most part, disagree with IIASA's take on oil. Rutledge and others would disagree with IIASA's/IPCC take on coal. Jim Hansen would argue that regardless of how much carbon fuel you think is out there, there's more than enough to blow past 450 ppm, so that much of it must remain unburned if you want a 2 C future.

Would or could the world totally turn its back on coal, as shown in slide 8, not to mention, ramp down the oil and gas burn as rapidly as shown, while simultaneously scaling RE at fantastic scale? We will see. We've spent $350B on solar in the last 10 years. The friggin Italians installed twice as much last year as the U.S. has in 60 years, but of course solar remains an insignificant part of the world's energy pie. But the conditions to change that might have already occurred. Time will tell.

I suppose almost all of the steel production would have to be made through electric arc furnaces, with scrap steel. This would seem to be impossible with the energy expansion they're predicting.

Off topic, but can any of the experts comment on this http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/11/in-the-oil-game-russia-has-the-lon... ?

I'm hardly an expert on the area, but I was recently asked to evaluate a property in the West Siberian Basin.

As soon as I started to ask for real data to back up reserves claims, the vendor started to invent excuses for not being able to supply it. Eventually the third party broker who brought the deal to my client apologized for doing so.

My experience has been that very little information about oil production in the former Soviet Union is reliable. Historical production figures are often falsified (in either direction -- too small due to oil theft, or too large in order to meet quotas), and reserves are usually unrealistically optimistic.

Many of the fields have low permeability reservoirs. It is very difficult to make a realistic estimate of potential recovery in such fields, and the recoverable oil is often a very small fraction of the "resources".

Hydro-Quebec working on five-minute EV charging
Bombardier launches wireless charging tech

When it comes to new and improved ways to charge electric vehicles, Canadian researchers are on the cutting edge. Hydro-Québec and Bombardier both announced last week they'd made breakthroughs in battery technology.

Engineers at a Hydro-Québec research institute say they're this close to unveiling a new super-fast electric vehicle (EV) charger that should be able to top off a battery pack of any size in about five minutes, reports the Toronto Star, about the same time it takes to fill a gasoline-powered car.

See: http://autos.sympatico.ca/auto-news/13949/hydro-quebec-working-on-five-m...

The Toronto Star article referenced in this story: http://www.thestar.com/wheels/article/1208066--hydro-quebec-research-boo...


Will you have to wear special underpants? That sounds like a lot of power flying around..

Your keys and pocket change fuse together and you smell like roast chicken when you get off at your stop.

And people freak-out over smart meters. Ha !


A super fast EV charger that makes you smell like roast chicken. This is going to be huge. Who doesn't like the smell of roast chicken?

Is anyone working on a super fast EV charger that makes you smell like bacon?

See the Republican Presidential Candidate for details.


I thought special underpants was a Mormon thing...

Thank you, this is great news! I hope they release more information soon.

No, it is meaningless drivel. What does it mean to "top off" a battery? Is that the last 5%? 10%?

E = I * V * T

That assumes an ideal battery. How much energy do you need to store? That is not determined by the battery but rather by the work you need to do. There are limits to the maximum voltage and current you can use - currents cause I * I * R losses, and if the voltage stored is not the optimum voltage for the motors then conversion losses will occur. Plus there are safety and issues associated with higher voltages requiring greater distances and appropriate materials.

The limits on the maximum voltage and current (power) that can be delivered, plus the amount of energy that must be stored are what determine the time required. The battery can only make that worse.

I didn't notice the 'top off' part, so much for fast reading those articles. I thought they were talking about charging a whole battery pack for a car in 5 minutes. You understand how this got me excited..

So did I understand you correctly if I understand it's a physical impossibility to have a car battery pack recharged in around 5 minutes charge time?

Perhaps not impossible - if you can supply a very large amount of power you could do it. But it's quite impractical, especially if everyone else is trying to do that too. Think of the power spikes on the local distribution system. I don't have the numbers handy for how much energy is required to charge a Leaf, for example, but it's a lot. Plug in that figure with the typical limits for a home service entrance and see how many minutes that requires. And that is assuming a perfect, ideal battery and that you can use all your service power. I'm not going to bother, because it's a lot more than 5min. And even if they can demonstrate that they can do it on one vehicle, it does not mean much if you cannot do it as part of a functioning transportation system.

I remember doing a calculation some years ago about charging an electric car battery in the same time as it takes to fill up a gasoline tank.

As I recall you needed an electrical cable about the same diameter as the hose on the gasoline pump!

I caught a presentation this past winter by the CTO of a battery design company (Panacis). Part of his presentation was on the use of stationary batteries to provide quick EV recharges at interstate highway fueling stations. The batteries would be used to charge the car, which in turn would flatten the load on the grid.

It was an interesting presentation, their focus was military and utility level stationary batteries, which is where the money is to be made. They were happy to let others lose money on EV batteries.

That's what I would expect as well; an intermediary storage system, even taking into consideration the added cost and losses, makes good sense due the improved load factor.


Engineering is a process of balancing often competing constraints. When you add fast charging into the requirements you've added a basket of new issues to deal with and new compromises in the final design. Big fat cables that cost more and weigh more, losses and waste power to dissipate. How about the batteries themselves - size, weight, cost longevity? I don't know batteries, but nothing is free. And of course, at every transfer and conversion, energy is lost.

E = P * T
P = I * I * R

It's not just a good idea, it's the law. And there's lots more too.

I worked on a fifty kilowatt charger for large vehicles 20 years ago. It worked just fine, but it could not be demonstrated in front of an audience because of the explosion hazard.

Batteries can only be charged so fast. Some of the new technologies allow charge rates at several times their capacity.

Then, there's trick batteries:

...And liquid element batteries where fluids are recycled through the filling station.

Here's a more complete article that says little:

"But before you rush to your nearest EV showroom, you should know the breakthrough involves recharging just a single 18650 cell, the small, tube-shaped battery that’s used in many laptops and other electronic gadgets, and, in a pack of nearly 6,700, powers the Tesla Roadster electric sports car."

Homopolar generator?

The energy efficiency goes down the more charge/discharge cycles are required before the end use. You also the the capital plus operational cost of eacj battery cycling. I've heard numbers like $.10 KWhour, just for the amortized cost of battery technology. So now lets double that (wearing out both, car and charge-station batteries.
This is really just a sop to the human desire to use the electric vehicle as a car, capable of long distance trips, without losing time waiting for charge cycles.... Its just a wasteful use of the technology.

Instead of batteries, a flywheel located beneath the fuel station might be less expensive.

And very efficient!

When the less expensive option is to build an underground flywheel, one has to wonder if the idea is that good in the first place.

With our service provider, every kW of demand that can be trimmed translates to just over $180.00 in annual savings, i.e., $9.276 per kW of demand, per month, plus 200 kWh per kW of demand, per month, gets billed at the lower-cost second tier. These savings will grow over time as electricity rates continue to escalate higher, but whether they would be sufficient in and of themselves to make any of these storage options economically viable I can't say.

There would be, presumably, additional cost savings related to the facility's wiring system if peak demand could be flattened, e.g., a smaller step-down transformer, perhaps, smaller gauge conductors, and so on.


Hmmmm, I wonder if a home flywheel, maybe under the garage, could soak up power from home solar panels in the day to charge the car at night.


Flywheels are a bit pricy per KWhr, but very good per KW. I.E. if you need short bursts of high power (or to absorb the same), they are a very good choice. Diurnal supply balancing, not so good. Saving grid stability when you only have seconds to ramp, that's where they would shine.

When the less expensive option is to build an underground flywheel tank, one has to wonder if the idea is that good in the first place? The tanks didn't turn out to be such a great deal, what with the leakage.

The electric car is being introduced into a world with only a primitive level of supporting infrastructure.

Trains & Transportation
"Before gas stations, pharmacies were the first establishments to sell gas as a side business."

Life on Four Wheels
"Before gas stations were widespread, car owners bought fuel from local stores and stored it in tanks in their backyards." ...kind of like the home charging plug.

Grumbling Over Gasoline?
"Before gas stations, before standardized fuel nozzles or a distribution system, our country relied on horses. The horse lobby was powerful, and reluctant to give up its watering troughs, feed supplies, street cleaners and veterinarians to a new, disruptive technology."

A friend is making an EV-charger for tow-trucks... talk about basic tech: "Ohhhh! A tow-truck could carry a gas-can!"

All of this is evolving.

The Electrical Worker Online
Electric Cars Open Up New IBEW Opportunities
August 2011

Beacon Power is dead - and that was their product a high speed flywheel on magnetic bearings.

Aside from delivering the high power levels, there's the issue that battery lifetime (number of cycles) goes down with fast charge (or discharge) rates. Unless you have a battery which still has a decent service life with this sort of abusive charging is a non starter.

Amen, Twi. For starters the author of the piece HereinHali posts is a self-admitted car buff. It's a typical blog journalism puff post. I love how the author says this 5-minute car-charger will "likely" be out by the end of 2012! ROFL! The level of analysis makes The Secret look like science. "I really love cars, and they're about to invent an easy rescue!" (Never mind the laws of physics, which suggest that moving 3,500 extra pounds of mass for every mundane personal commute may not have been a very good idea.)

Meanwhile, the author also never mentions the fact that this supposed breakthrough requires something far beyond even the still extremely scarce 240V charging stations currently being promoted as the basis for the "fast" EV "service station." As for night-time charging, that technology is unavailable to all but the wealthy households who can pay pay have their homes' 110V plugs and wires and transformers replaced. The national grid would have to be radically and very expensively warped to facilitate the wide spread of just 240V outlets. Now these people are suggesting a "breakthrough" that requires what level of outlet? 480? 640? 2400? So, every filling station will have to sit atop a huge, new electric volcano?

To be clear, the authors didn't say that this 5-minute charger would likely be "out" by the end of 2012; what they both said is that additional details won't be forthcoming until the patent process has been completed, most likely towards the end of this year. There's a big difference, as I'm sure you can appreciate.

Secondly, I think it's fair to say that most EV owners will recharge their vehicles at home, presumably during off-peak hours to take advantage of lower rates where such rates exist, and that this will be accomplished at either 120 or 240-volts. Commercial charging at the equivalent of your local gas bar could conceivably be done at either 480 or 600 volts. I suspect most urban commuters won't require the services of these commercial charging stations if they can recharge their vehicles at home and, if need be, top them up at work.

Nova Scotia Power has publicly said that they're not too worried about electric vehicles overloading their local distribution system so if they're not overly fussed then I'm not going to lose any sleep. Our convection oven uses 5,200-watts, an electric water heater can draw anywhere from 3,000 to 5,500-watts, and that not so innocent looking electric dryer can scarf back as many as 6,000-watts. By comparison, the Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan EV that I hope to purchase next year or the year thereafter (if I should be so lucky), will pull approximately 1,500-watts because I don't have 240-volt power running to my garage.


And your house is probably wired to allow at least three of these 5KW power hogs to be operated at once! But of course you overnight charge will draw the 1500watts continuously for many hours. So its not so trivial.

Actually, we have a 100-amp service which means we're pretty much maxed-out, so a single 15-amp/120-volt circuit will need to carry the garage lighting and the other plug loads in addition to the van, at least for the time being.

I suspect NSP would kiss my hairy white --- if I were to draw a steady 1,500-watts between the hours 23h00 and 07h00, which coincides with their off-peak daily rate. The utility is continually adding additional wind capacity to their stable and are looking for ways they can put it to good use during the overnight hours when demand is low. Obviously, no two jurisdictions are alike, but I don't think we're in too bad shape overall (provincial net load at the moment is a paltry 806 MW).


Well, OK, I agree about the insanity of the car culture and I think this is a fluff/propaganda piece to make people feel better about the whole EV concept. Keep 'em believing the automobile has an electric future so they won't abandon the dream and they'll keep buying cars now. Made possible by the super new batteries they'll invent any day now. That's a watch-the-birdie distraction, because the problem with the EV is not the battery, or not only the battery.

But I'm trying to focus on the simple reality of the equation for electrical energy, and that pesky "T" term. It's a big number and there's a limit on how much you can reduce it, no matter what the battery is, because you just can't increase the input power without limit. Supposedly we're all going to become good planners and charge our EVs overnight so we can make use of that "wasted" extra capacity. But here we need to reassure people that yes, they'll still be able to go down to the station and "top off" while they get a coffee. During peak hours.

Because anything else smacks of limits, and large children red blooded Americans cannot accept limits.

So are these journalists making this up or do you think that Hydro-Québec is pulling our collective leg? I'm having a hard time imagining why H-Q would allude to this sort of game-changing development if it were not true. That's not how they operate, at least to my knowledge.


There's so little info in the piece, it's got that nifty "top-off" phrase in in it, and I don't know H-Q, so I have no idea what motivated it. But they'll still have to deal with the laws of physics, and unless they've got a practical concept that can be scaled and applied to make an impact as part of a transportation system then it doesn't really matter much.

Understanding where you're coming from WRT Autos and EVs, I can see why that language irks you, but really I think "Topped Off" is just shorthand for 'Charging the batteries', with the unstated assumption that on average it's not charging every car's battery from effectively a full discharge, but that they cover the range from a little to a lot of charging required.

It's not a research paper, so a little bit of colloquialism to allow the public to equate this with 'Topping Off' their Gas Tank is more than fair to allow for.

Well, it does seem a bit much.

Still, let's not get lost in wild exaggeration. A 15kWH battery would need around 220kW (180 nominal but there will be considerable losses) to charge in five minutes. At 240V that would be about 900 amps. That's less than five 200-ampere-service (48kW, 25-minute charge) "house-units" worth per "pump", which is hardly a "huge electric volcano" - especially considering that truck stops and gas stations are really quasi-industrial facilities (and in certain ways regulated as such.) Any of the ten-or-so-story apartment buildings found downtown will have far more service than that, so one can hardly say it would come as, well, a shock, to the electric company. And let's not forget the hydrocarbon volcanoes gas stations sit on now; the electric volcano might possibly be somewhat safer. And let's also not forget that the grid wouldn't have to be warped at all to provide 240V outlets, 240V is what goes into houses already, never mind industrial facilities; it's just usually split in half, by way of running the neutral to the outlets. Of course, to provide a fast charge, the cable from the box to the garage would have to be "warped" a bit; one can't have everything for free.

Now, how much the grid might have to be "warped" to carry the load is another question. Currently (ahem), a lot of the EV handwaving assumes people would charge up mainly in the wee hours, but of course that's not when most folks visit the gas station. Then again, even with slow-charging EVs, many will want to recharge or top off while the car is parked at or near work, since the range may be a bit dodgy especially if they want to combine trips. When all is said and done, maybe the fast chargers would make only a modest difference - a bit more charging during the day, a bit of local load concentration and surging. The real limits might remain elsewhere; one doesn't know (un-) affordable all the stuff will really turn out to be at scale. Then again, at $1.5 billion per mile for the first bit of the Second Avenue Subway, some of the other proposals seem pretty unaffordable too.

The whole concept of fast-chargers is mainly for rare long distance trips. 95+% of the time, you just charge up overnight at your house and do your daily driving with that charge. But if you need to do an inter-city trip, it would be nice to have some fast chargers at service stations or rest stops between cities.

Currently, fast-charging is pretty much a non-entity. There are very few fast-chargers outside of Japan. And the stupid auto-companies decided to have a fast-charger standards war. (Jerks.) The big 3 American and most of the German companies have lined-up behind a new SAE approved fast-charger. The Nissan Leaf uses a TEPCO created ChadeMo fast-charger. Who knows why the US/German companies did this . . . to slow down Nissan? To avoid royalty payments? Whatever, the deed is done. IMHO, the writing on the wall is that ChadeMo will die outside of Japan. Currently, Nissan is standing behind ChadeMo . . . but if I were them, I'd just adopt the new SAE standard ASAP. It is not worth fighting a standards war against the big 3 and the Germans.

Yeah, I just don't see the "fast" aspect as being anything like the biggest problem; indeed, one limit will be the stations having to charge an arm and a leg to pay for their equipment. As for standards, sometimes the Not Invented Here syndrome takes hold. And sometimes somebody tries to hold everybody up for ransom. Maybe in 20 or 50 years we'll know what happened.

Let's correct a few things here . . .

240V charging stations are NOT considered 'fast chargers'. They are just ordinary chargers that are installed at homes for overnight charging.

240V chargers are not just for 'wealthy households'. They cost only like $1000 to have one professionally installed. If you are a DIYer, you can buy one for ~$500 and do it yourself. AFAIK, all U.S. homes have 240V AC service. (120V is created by using 1 hot & a neutral.) Production volume is very small right now, so I assume the price of 240 chargers is going to drop. Actually, they are not even "chargers", they are EVSEs . . . Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. The charger is in the car. The EVSE is just a wire, a few chips, and a switch.

The national grid does not need to be 'radically and very expensively warped to facilitate the wide spread of just 240V outlets'. That is patently ridiculous. You speak as if homes do not have electric clothes dryers, electric water heaters, pools, heavy-duty AC systems, etc. The existing grid could handle changing 73% of the light-duty-fleet into EVs. They've studied this:

You'll need to upgrade some local transformers here & there but they can easily handle that as EV sales increase. The utilities are NOT worried about EVs . . . quite the opposite, they are salivating at the prospect of paying customers for their vast amounts of excess unused over-night generation capacity.

I'm not sure if you are just uninformed on electrical matters or if your hatred of EVs rationalizes spewing lots of misinformation.

The EVSE is just a wire, a few chips, and a switch.

$870 http://www.ebay.com/itm/EVSE-J1772-Charging-Station-for-Electric-Vehicle...

Very overpriced at this point in time.

Yeah, they are very high-priced for what you get. We need a bigger market to push prices down. You can get the GM one for $490 but it is only 15 amps:

Better to pay a little more and get one that can do higher amps for a pure EV.

Or you can build your own like this guy. Page shows schematic and parts list.

It's still almost $500 in parts. Half being the J1772 cord.

Also is that correct for both legs to go through the current transformer the same direction. There would normally be no output, or maybe that's the purpose, to detect something wrong. In his flicker pages others are shown with the black and white going through the CT.

Edit: Just looked at the datasheet for the CT, and it is designed for ground fault detection.

But those parts are expensive since they are low volume. The price will come down.

Yup, that is what a GFCI does - if the current in one leg does not equal the current in the other then that means it's going somewhere it should not be. So a voltage is developed that is used to shut it off.

There is nothing to it but a plug, socket and the GFCI - it has no effect on charging.

It is not absurd to pay attention to the problems coal-cars present for the electrical distribution infrastructure. The IEEE certainly sees issues.

As for warping, I'm not talking about just the bottlenecks in the grid there. I'm saying it strikes me as evil to advocate reconstruction of the electrical grid to facilitate private automobiles. In a future of scarce energy, that is a "warp" in my book, and an inexcusable one at that.

Meanwhile, what, pray tell, are apartment dwellers and residents of dense cities supposed to do at night with their coal-cars? Every time you hear a fan talk about how easy it is to charge coal-cars overnight, the fan is always, literally always, picturing it happening in a detached-house suburban setting.

I'm also amused by the notion that installing a 240V charging system is somehow inexpensive.

Luckily, the coal-car remains a triviality, due to price and laughable functionality, not to mention fire hazard.

Do we really have to keep the cars running no matter what?
I fail to understand why we maintain this Auto Addiction at all costs.
It is just woefully inefficient to use 2000 lbs to transport 200 lbs!
Furthermore even if we COULD power all these personal electric cars which I very much doubt
despite all the optimistic scenarios and manage to provide 250 Million batteries it will not do a thing for Greenhouse Emissions, i.e. Climate Change:

The Green Revolution Backfires: Sweden’s Lesson for Real Sustainability
by Firmin DeBrabander

What if electric cars made pollution worse, not better? What if they increased greenhouse gas emissions instead of decreasing them? Preposterous you say? Well, consider what’s happened in Sweden.

Through generous subsidies, Sweden aggressively pushed its citizens to trade in their cars for energy efficient replacements (hybrids, clean diesel vehicles, cars that run on ethanol). Sweden has been so successful in this initiative that it leads the world in per capita sales of ‘green cars.’ To everyone’s surprise, however, greenhouse gas emissions from Sweden’s transportation sector are up.

Auto Addiction leads to 30,000 deaths, obesity, a football field of asphalt for every 5 cars...
But beyond that it requires asphalt, another derivative of oil for CONSTANT maintenance of
the 10 lane highways strewn across the USA which by the way has quadrupled in price since 2005 along with the price of oil.

Give it up!
The Suburban Wasteland is just that - it is no way to live ANYWAY!

78 new EVs were sold in Sweden this year, which one can compare with the about 300 000 total new cars sold in Sweden every year. It's thus a bit misleading to use the Swedish example to argue against EVs, yes? While I'm extremely critical of cars, this is misleading if anything.

It's interesting, though, to note that every time someone buys an EV in Sweden, they get 40 000 SEK through the "super green car premium". The brazen reverse Robin Hood philosophy aside (someone who can afford to buy a car costing 400 000 SEK does not need a subsidy), EVs still don't sell every well.

Re: OPEC chief hints at action to reduce oil glut above.

OPEC's president signalled on Monday it could act to reduce a glut of oil that has knocked the price down towards double digits,

Was it not a problem a few years ago that oil prices was in tripple digit territory? Now, when it is "down" at double digits, we have an oil glut, and we need to push the prices up again. Did we realy get used to it so fast?

And is it really an oil glut as OPEC claims, or simply oil investors response to uncertainty in the EU (PIIGS) that has resulted from triple digit oil prices? Exporters are now being squeezed for every dime their economies can muster, yet every time the price drops enough to get some minor growth, OPEC starts whining they are not making enough and supply is reduced. I for one do not for a minute believe they need so much a barrel, as much as they have become spoiled by triple digit per barrel prices.

It appears to me that OPEC is trying it's best to obfuscate what it is really happening in the oil markets, mostly by focusing talk on quotas even when they widely disregarded. Despite all talk that Saudi Arabia has lost its influence within OPEC, it in fact remains the swing producer not only for OPEC but for the world.

Current 'output' is sufficiently more than OPEC quotas that Saudi Arabia can talk about increasing quotas in the second half of 2012 while at the same time cutting back on actual production. Keep in mind that as I have been saying for months, long before the geniuses at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere caught on, that Saudi Arabia put oil into storage early on in the year only to ship it in April and claim that its 'output' [including stocks withdrawn from inventory] had increased. Even that surge in exports was for one specific purpose: to build up supplies of heavier crudes that the newly expanded Motiva refinery, now the largest in the US, was supposed to process. Supposed to, because after recently starting the new part of $10 billion refinery expansion for Saudi crude, major problems in refinery were discovered - causing the new portion to undergo repairs for two to five months more, after briefly starting up operations.

Shipping reports indicate that Mideast oil shipments have dropped this week dramatically. Tankers are suddenly being idled at a rapid rate. It's not clear exactly how much of the drop is specifically attributed to lack of demand, OPEC countries, or whether this trend is just a short lived event or indicates a significant OPEC export policy change or change in demand.

Update: More information on the Motiva shutdown below; oil traders expect an extended shut down, indirectly reducing demand for Gulf of Mexico crude:

Fire at Motiva shuts down new unit
By Dan Wallach
Updated 05:48 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A fire at the Motiva Enterprises Port Arthur refinery last Saturday caused a new unit to be shut down just as it was reaching operational status, the refinery reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


For those who've read or are interested in The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, Heinberg offers the first of a two-part update on the status of his hypothesis {PDF file}. IMO, Heinberg is far ahead of the Club of Rome's newest assessment, which is poorly reviewed via the linked item up top. Here is a non-pdf link

Abnormally Dry Weather Continues

"Abnormally dry weather conditions have plagued the region (Chicago area) much of the spring, with only a few widely spaced bouts of significant rainfall."

Meanwhile, this on the front page of HuffPo :-

Human-Induced Ocean Warming Study Addresses The 'Dominant Role' Of People

"Despite the onslaught of politicians attempting to project an air of question around man-made climate change, studies continue to emerge proving the connection between human actions and our changing environment. The most recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, finds an "anthropogenic fingerprint" (human influence) on our warming oceans."

The front page headline reads " "Nobody's Fault but Ours".

New Mexico, Colorado fires burn out of control

Firefighters battling an out-of-control Colorado blaze significantly increased the number of structures destroyed or damaged to at least 118 on Monday as crews in New Mexico also ramped up efforts against a large out-of-control blaze.

Colorado officials increased the damage estimate by 100 structures after crews got a better estimate of blackened areas where subdivisions once stood.

The wildfire west of Fort Collins has nearly doubled to 58 square miles, forcing hundreds of evacuations. ... In New Mexico, fire managers hoped to use a break in the weather to fight a 54-square-mile blaze near Ruidoso from the air. Winds grounded aircraft there Sunday. Residents in Ruidoso were told to prepare to evacuate if conditions worsen.

Both fires were dwarfed by a massive blaze in southwest New Mexico — the largest in the state's history — that has charred 435 square miles of wilderness forest since mid-May. But the smaller blazes were especially concerning because they were closer to more populated areas.

Weird weather …

Wales floods: Call for more defences after deluge

Environment Agency Wales says that the flooding that has hit mid Wales came after more than an average month's rain fell in one day - or 8 inches (20cm) in a very localised area.

Rain threat fades on waterlogged Gulf Coast

Through Sunday morning, some places in Alabama and Florida had received up to 22 inches of rain. West Pensacola received 21.7 inches, while Mobile, Alabama, saw between 5 and 10 inches

and Heavy rains flood Fla. homes; man drowns in Gulf

Freak hail storm strikes Durban, South Africa

Stocks fall; Spain rescue seen as 'temporary fix'

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Wall Street are closing sharply lower. Investors are skeptical that a deal to save Spanish banks will do much to resolve the debt crisis in Europe.

European countries have committed to lend $125 billion to save ailing Spanish banks that are dealing with big losses from a real estate bust. One trader says it's a "temporary fix," as investors are awaiting the outcome of an election this weekend in Greece.

Back to the Greek rolling blackouts item from up top... From the link: "The country’s largest power producer is almost out of money and likely to default after unpaid accounts jumped more than 50 percent in a year..." It doesn't say what the percentage of unpaid accounts was before the increase, but it seems that the obvious solution is to start disconnecting the non-payers. This would have the three-fold effect of reducing fuel consumption, increasing funds collected (as customers who can afford to pay decide the service is worth keeping), and encouraging conservation and efficiency.

This is similar to the health plan proposals coming out of the US House of Representatives:

"Let the poor people die"

It has a long historical record prior to the twentieth century.

A shortage of guar gum used in fracking has caused prices to surge

The multibillion-dollar industry in the United States relies heavily on guar gum powder - a thickener also found in ice cream, toothpaste, pet food and sausage skin - using it to make specialist hydraulic drilling fluids that are pumped underground at high pressure during fracking, the process used to extract natural gas from subterranean rocks.

And the rapid growth of the industry has caused demand for the beans to soar. ... The rising price of guar powder, which has climbed from $US4 to $US5 per kilo to $US30 within 18 months, had enriched small-scale farmers, enabling them to build new homes and buy tractors, motorcycles and televisions, he added.

India is the world's biggest guar gum producer, with an average annual output of a million tonnes. This year, the American oil industry is expected to import 300,000 tonnes of guar gum - 75 per cent of the India's export total.

But the dramatic rise in prices and a limited supply of beans is creating a headache for the oil industry. Last week shares in Halliburton plunged by 5.5 per cent after the US oil services giant warned that rising guar prices had dented its profit margins. It said that guar gum now represented as much as 30 per cent of the cost of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. About nine tonnes of the material is needed per well.

You can buy the stuff on line for about $15 a pound. That works out to be about $30,000 a ton. Guar Gum

Ron P.

$30/kilo ($13.63/lb) - $15/lb - sounds about right

At that price, they'll have to use less guar gum in ice cream. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

Ahhh, the serendipitous benefits of tangential research...

Guar gum is used as a laxative. It is also used for treating diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, and diabetes; for reducing cholesterol; and for preventing “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).

'Regular' ice cream!

Central California growers struggle with farmworker shortage

Growers around the Central Valley are wringing their hands as they struggle to find the manpower they need, though the situation appears better in Stanislaus County.

Anti-immigration laws and policies, an aging population and even a raging drug war south of the border are contributing to a slowdown in the pipeline of Mexican workers.

... maybe they can get some tea-party folks to pitch in

Are they offering $20/hour? $25/hour? Health-care benefits? Pension, or at least a 401(k) with matching? I am no longer interested in listening to employers complain that they cannot hire workers for physically-demanding unpleasant jobs at or near minimum wage... I will cheerfully pay the few percent more that my food will cost if they pay farm workers a living wage.

Yair . . . mcain6925. Get a grip mate, that's not how the system works.

Farmers are price takers. I would have loved to have paid my workers better rates. Half the time though they were making a better hourly rate than me . . . and I worked a lot more hours and I took all the risks.


"they were making a better hourly rate than me"

True, SP

My brother-in-law runs a mixed farm (organic dairy & beef) and pays his hired man & relief milker a higher hourly rate than he himself makes from the farm. When we factor in the risk and the capital invested, the income gap is even more significant.
Not fair, but that's how it is.
Same thing with our own farm: I sheared our own sheep (and got the measly $1.50 per fleece) but if we had to pay a custom shearer he'd charge $5/head ($60-$100/hr for an efficient shearer)... far more than any farmer I know makes on an hourly basis.

Shortage of homes for sale creates fierce competition

The newest problem for the slowly improving housing market isn't a shortage of serious buyers, it's a shortage of good homes.

Would-be buyers are packing open houses and scrambling to make offers on properties before they are even listed. Bidding wars are erupting. And real estate agents are vying fiercely to represent the few sellers that do exist.

Housing inventory has sunk to levels not seen since the bubble years. The number of American homes with a "for sale" sign hit 2.5 million in April, the lowest number for an April since 2006, according to the National Assn. of Realtors

Ha...this is, of course, what happens when you have government control of the economy...shortages at high prices.

Allow the debt to clear, allow the banks to go bust. Let the shareholders and creditors take the losses. Allow homes to sell at firesale cash prices. You will then have lots and lots of homes at prices people can afford.

But no, that would be capitalist, and therefore evil.

It really doesn't matter what you call it, capitalism, socialism, communism, because the politicans aren't going to go that route because it means something other than BAU. I do agree it would work, but it would be pretty chaotic for a few weeks.

However, if you're looking for a vote of confidence on the idea I'm all in if we get to keep our home, pre-supposing a crashed economy will support some income to keep the payments current. But of course we'd be making payments on a home that would in your scenario be downvalued even more than currently, and its already underwater, so I guess we'll be going into the deep end of the pool. But what the heck - it if works, let's do it!

Not in SW Ct ..

Triff ..

Global warming threat seen in fertile soil of northeastern US forests

Vast stores of carbon in U.S. forest soils could be released by rising global temperatures, according to a study by UC Irvine and other researchers in today’s online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

We found that decades-old carbon in surface soils is released to the atmosphere faster when temperatures become warmer,” said lead author Francesca Hopkins, ... “This suggests that soils could accelerate global warming through a vicious cycle in which man-made warming releases carbon from soils to the atmosphere, which, in turn, would warm the planet more.”

Northeastern woodlands that were once farm fields are currently one of the Earth’s beneficial carbon sinks, holding nearly 26 billion tons. “These are carbon dioxide sources that, in effect, we can’t control,” Hopkins said. “We could control how much gasoline we burn, how much coal we burn, but we don’t have control over how much carbon the soil will release once this gets going.”

Stanford biologists call for humanity to 'scale itself back'

"In biophysical terms, humanity has never been moving faster nor further from sustainability than it is now."

It's a dire message, but that's the point. The quote comes from a paper by Stanford biology Professors Paul Ehrlich and Gretchen Daily, with the Nature Conservancy's Peter Kareiva, published in Nature's new Rio+20 issue.

"Just telling the people what the science says hasn't brought about the changes we need," Ehrlich said

"If we don't get off the fossil fuel standard," said Ehrlich, "it hardly matters how many people there are."

Oil acts as lubricant to economic cycles

Oil prices are likely to remain volatile amid the deep uncertainties of uncharted economic, financial and political territory.

The good news is that falling prices themselves could herald the next upturn, as real income is released to importing countries. The bad news for exporting countries is their own declining income in direct counterpart, at least in the short term until some kind of compensating multiplier takes effect among consuming countries.

It could be, though, that a natural equilibrium price between the world's boom and bust conditions is below the $100 that producers might prefer.

Research by Samba has indicated that breakeven budget figures for the GCC states have escalated in recent years, to something over $70 and approaching $80 per barrel in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Falling Oil Prices Prompt Russian Economic Fears

“Almost half of the Russian government’s revenue comes from various taxes on oil and gas exports.”

Tindale says that leaves the Russian economy highly vulnerable to a fall in oil prices. “It would mean their budget was well out of balance and so would be very serious, short-term, for Putin and the Russian government," he said.

Iraq Says Oil Price Decline Is Severe; Surplus ‘Tremendous’

... “It is very clear that there are tremendous surplus quantities that led to this severe decline in the prices,” Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said today in Vienna, where he is attending the meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. “This would not serve anyone.”

Oil prices at $100 to $120 are “a reasonable and acceptable price index,” he told reporters.

Oil falls on euro zone worry, Saudi OPEC view

Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister, said OPEC may need to raise its oil output target for the second half of the year.

"Our analysis suggests that we will need a higher ceiling than currently exists," he said in an interview in the Gulf Oil Review.

Eurozone break-up could hit us in face, warns Basu

Chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu has warned that if the Eurozone breaks up finally, it will be more disastrous than the 2008 global financial crisis triggered by the fall of the Wall Street banks, from which the global economy is yet to recover. "If Europe does slip into a crisis, it is going to be a very difficult time. There is no escaping from that.

Though we (government and the Reserve Bank) have a team that is working on different scenarios, to see how we will react, it will be a lie to say that we have the strength to weather that. It will hit us in the face," Basu told an Exim Bank organised here over the weekend.

Hmm, Spain gets massive bailout
but US stock market dives?
What's afoot?
EU breakup inevitable?
Nah, BAU more important...

But, if it did
according to Ezra Klein
sitting in for Rachel Maddow, says
no election factor will change
the election results except
if an EU breakup
hits world economies hard
Romney wins

Anyone else notice the ominous talk of "capital controls" that is quietly starting to circulate?

On Capital Controls

So what are capital controls?

Simply, capital controls are policies which restrict the free flow of capital into, out of, through, and within a nation’s borders. They can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Setting a fixed amount for bank withdrawals, or suspending them altogether
  • Forcing citizens or banks to hold government debt
  • Curtailing or suspending international bank transfers
  • Curtailing or suspending foreign exchange transactions
  • Criminalizing the purchase and ownership of precious metals
  • Fixing an official exchange rate and criminalizing market-based transactions

Establishing capital controls is one of the worst forms of theft that a government can impose. It traps people’s hard earned savings and their future income within a nation’s borders.

This trapped pool of capital allows the government to transfer wealth from the people to their own coffers through excessive taxation or rampant inflation… both of which soon follow.

I don't want to pull a Ruppert and run around screaming "this is it!", but I haven't felt this kind of cold clammy hand of outright fear gripping my gut since the last financial crisis is '08.


New evidence supporting theory of extraterrestrial impact found

An 18-member international team of researchers that includes James Kennett, professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara, has discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material –– which dates back nearly 13,000 years –– was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 degrees Celsius (3,100 to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and is the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.

These new data are the latest to strongly support the controversial Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) hypothesis, which proposes that a cosmic impact occurred 12,900 years ago at the onset of an unusual cold climatic period called the Younger Dryas.

"Because these three sites in North America and the Middle East are separated by 1,000 to 10,000 kilometers, there were most likely three or more major impact/airburst epicenters for the YDB impact event, likely caused by a swarm of cosmic objects that were fragments of either a meteorite or comet," said Kennett.

"This episode occurred at or close to the time of major extinction of the North American megafauna, including mammoths and giant ground sloths; and the disappearance of the prehistoric and widely distributed Clovis culture."

Younger Dryas impact hypothesis

Greece's 'potato movement' grows in power

A growing group of grassroots activists are cutting out agricultural middlemen and connecting farmers and shoppers.

... The entire greater Thessaloniki area now holds regular sales of cheap produce, and the movement has spread south to the capital, Athens, and beyond.

The potato movement is changing the food market. "Competition has increased," Kamenidis told Al Jazeera. "The stores that once sold for 75 cents are selling for 45 cents, and I heard prices as low as 19 cents." And the effect has not been limited to potatoes. Other basic durable goods such as olive oil, flour, rice, and honey have also gone on sale directly from producers, undercutting market prices by half

The group's organisational power and economic potential give it a possibly subversive political appeal. "We can mobilise more people than anyone else," Tsolakidis told Al Jazeera. "We receive about 5,500 orders for each sale of produce, representing about 45,000 people, or 55 per cent of the population of our town … Political gatherings are lucky if they get 50 people."

Seraph- I'm always impressed with the range and scope of your news postings. I look for these as much as the stuff Leanan posts up top with- kinda like two drumbeats (or a paradiddle)

Indeed this has been spreading elsewhere in the country as well. A couple of months back i saw posters pasted up all around Ioannena advertising that it has come there too.

And, aside from anything that organized, individuals with trucks or vans loaded with produce bringing it to town to sell on the roadside have been making a comeback as well.

the supermarkets and retail in general in greece is a big cartel. It's a favorite thing for the evening news to go to some area, interview a farmer for 'what do you get paid for X' and then go a mile away to a supermarket and check the price of X 15 or 20 or 30 times as high.

small retailers charge a bit less than the supermarkets etc, typically, but their prices are still high thanks to crushing taxes, red tape and the requirements of endless permits, fees, fines, inspections, and so on. the guy selling from a pickup truck on the side of the road doesn't have those problems (though i would imagine in some areas a new trend will be cops harrassing those vendors. usually the cops leave people alone (in general, police in greece are much more benign and friendly than the johnny rambo types in more powerful countries), but i fear this will change)

the country is a cluster****, but the society is trying to adapt and one major source of hope for greece is that so far the people themselves still (mostly) keep the idea of cooperating and being civil, more than i see in e.g. the us.

Regarding the potato movement, one thing i have noticed in the past couple of months also is
an attempt by some of the political parties to try to attack or blacken them- not through anything official, but mainly from the left, through their poster and graffiti organs.
why? well obviously because people self-organizing and even accomplishing something is dangerous competition for political parties which are across the board worthless..

Good news

Managed to ride into work for the first time in a long time. It a 32 km round trip, and although it's not uphill both ways the return trip has a few steep climbs which drain me. And my girls aren't about to show me any mercy just because I biked home from work, they demand play time which tends to involve me throwing them up in the air... and catching them on the way down.

So I got some assistance, electrical assistance that is. I installed an e-assist retrofit kit on my commuter bike. I splashed out on Bionx's premium kit which has a lighter motor and longer range battery.

Got to say I was impressed, the range is 105 kms on the flats on the first level of assistance. I recharged the battery at work, though I probably didn't need to as there was more than three quarters of a charge left. On the ride home I had the bike on the highest level of e-assist and was cruising along for the most part between 20 to 30 km/hr. In city traffic, I was easily keeping up and once on quieter roads it was pretty smooth sailing. And it made the steep climbs a whole lot easier, while still going around 15 to 20 km/hr.

The company started in Quebec and I believe is still partly located there. Frank Stronach of Magna bought the company a few years ago, so it now has a lot more capital and engineering know how behind it.

I get a sense that Stronach wants to use Bionx as a way to develop electric motor technology for EV's. I recall a number of year's back GM had a concept car where the electric motors were in the hub. It was a pie in the sky concept that was meant to give them green cred, but with the Bionx motor you could kind of see something evolving towards that concept car vision. I imagine you'd save a lot of weight by putting a motor in all the wheels; no engine or drive train!

Anyway here's some obscure stuff to read about what Stronach and Gingl (his partner) are up to.

Manfred Gingl Q & A

Gingl: You know why I’m so positive about this? I still have a 14 year old. About three years ago when I got into this new business, he gave me crap because I bought another 12-cylinder car. He said “Dad, what are you doing?” He didn’t speak to me for three days. And the grandchildren, they learn about this early in school. They’re asking, “Opa, are you for real? Why don’t you buy a small car?” It’s where we’re heading.

Frank Stronach's electric Kool-AidFrank Stronach's electric Kool-Aid

Electric bikes are awesome. Pretty cheap to buy, extremely cheap to 'fuel', and easy to use. They are definitely a growth market.

Came across this one last week:
Electric Bikes | Fully Charged


Quite a range of different types - a few that I wasn't aware of.
Some are a bit pricy though.

Nice post...I could see these gaining popularity as PO progresses...

These would seem to address the concerns of folks who post and lament about the waste of using a 2000-5000 pond car/'light truck' vehicle to take them from point A to point B.

Does anyone know of any per-configured electric-assist recumbent bikes, either two-wheel or three-wheel (single wheel-forward or trailing, such as an electric-assist version of something like a Catrike or Greenspeed)?

I've been an avid cyclist my whole life, yet I've never tried a recumbent.
They look so clumsy and lacking in maneuverability but the thing that scares me the most is how low a rider's line of sight is.
I ride like they're all out to get me: because they are! And I like to see what's headed my way.
Am I wrong in this opinion? Obviously, others feel differently.

That is why I do not cycle where I live...I don't have a death-wish. With an e-assist recumbent or regular bike,I could hack the considerable detour from the ';straight shot' from my house to my work and back...detaour to get to the nearest (and only 1 of two) N-S bike paths in the city. Even these tow paths have numerous street/busy road crossings...

On the Sunday ride there was a guy with a recumbant but he was at about normal riding height. Sorry, didn't take any pictures, it was 2 firkin hot.


They're uncommon enough still that the prices are pretty high, and you really would be looking at custom rigs as much as whatever few 'off the shelf' models exist so far.

One might ask "Why aren't such novel ideas more standardized?" (with a wink) - Give them a couple minutes.. they'll either get boring and cheaper in both senses.. or they remain fringe, and stay precious in both senses.

Take a peek here for now, though.. and Google turns up lots of stuff.. mainly Mom and Pop's, it seems.


Wow, a trove of info, KD.

Vielen Dank! (German for 'Feels a little wet', IIRC)


As comments are disabled on the guest post, "Spectral Extravaganza: The Ultimate Light" by Tom Murphy, I'll just say that the post is a nice find, here on the oildrum! Thank you Rembrandt for putting it up, and Tom for a very informative examination of the human factor constraints existing when trying to create optimal artificial light sources.

Signs of the (Canadian) times - Calgary, home of most of Canada's oil companies, is optimizing bicycle access to its soon-to-be-opened West line of its wind-powered light rail transit system. Calgary's C-Train is arguable the most successful LRT system in North America with more ridership than any US LRT system, including Boston and San Francisco.

New LRT line to west side also a boon for cyclists

CALGARY — Along with a new LRT line, residents in Calgary’s western neighbourhoods are getting another inducement to get out of their cars.

In a sign of what Calgary’s new cycling strategy could one day bring citywide, the west LRT area will get “bicycle only” turn signs, special signal-changing cyclist push-buttons, new pathways, and even traffic circles and fewer stop signs to impede their pedalling.

The upgrades are designed in part to add to the number of those who cycle to work, with better links to the Bow River pathway. But they are also to entice residents to pedal to the new LRT stations, since only the west line’s terminal at 69th Street will have a park-and-ride. All the stations will have bike parking, and new street signs will guide people to the nearest C-Train platform.

And in another indication of the shift away from automobile-oriented development in an otherwise conservative, business-oriented Western oil city: Council scraps multimillion-dollar big-box plan at Canada Olympic Park in surprise decision

Calgary City Council scrapped WinSport Canada’s bid to develop a sprawling retail centre near the foot of Canada Olympic Park, as aldermen decried the notion of car-oriented “big box” at the city’s western gateway.

The 9-5 vote Monday will force the sports agency back to the drawing board with its redevelopment plans for the lands around the sports park.

[Mayor] Nenshi went a step farther, saying that transit-unfriendly, retail megacentres are something Calgary should shift away from altogether

And in a third indication: Calgary's new chief planner, Rollin Stanley, wants Calgary growing 'up,' not 'out'

When you find a planning bureaucrat extolling the virtues of parking shortages, normally it's in an unguarded remark after the third pint with peers, or perhaps an off-script moment in a conference speech.

Not when it's Rollin Stanley. That utterance is on his official government blog. Actually, it's the motto:

"No place is worth visiting that doesn't have a parking problem."

Stanley, a man with an equally vocal disdain for one-way streets, drive-thrus and strip malls - and, to some extent, suburbs and opponents - starts today as Calgary's top planning official.

Yeah, I have to give credit to both the Mayors of Calgary (Nenshi) and Edmonton (Mandel) that are trying to turn their respective cities into modern metropolitan cities rather than endless mid-western suburbia. They seem to be the only politicians with any vision for Alberta. (note: I'm getting less impressed by Premier Redford by the day as it seems her election talk of a progressive vision for Alberta was nothing but hot air)

Now if only we can get a high-speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary, that would make my life easier.

Double track and electrify the CP track between Edmonton & Calgary (and on to Ft. McMurray on CN track). Build second track "better", it will diverge from the original by a few km here and there.

Run 145 kph EMUs (self propelled railcars) all day and most of the night between the two cities. Say every hour mid-day. Maybe two car EMUs most of the time - club car with wet bar on the premium car, just seats for regular price.

Attach an express freight EMU car as needed (LOTS of call for that on run to Ft. McMurray).

Affordable and doable.

Best Hopes,


A better idea is to build a new, dedicated high speed line from Calgary to Edmonton on a new, straight ROW. Downtown to downtown in 90 minutes or less. Since Calgary and Edmonton work like two halves of the same city, this would work from a businessman's perspective - they would be able to schedule a meeting with the refinery people in Edmonton in the morning and be back at work at head office in Calgary in the afternoon.

The existing C-E line has a lot of curves and runs through the middle of a lot of the intervening towns with a lot of level crossings, which is counterproductive for a high speed train.

As far as freight goes, better candidates for electrification are the Canadian Pacific transcontinental mainline through Calgary and the Canadian National transcontinental mainline through Edmonton. CP and CN are 2 of the 7 North American Class I railroads. Their main lines are two of the heaviest-used rail lines in the world since they are taking Western Canadian resources to ports in British Columbia and bringing containers back from Asia. The Calgary-Edmonton lines (CP and CN each have their own) are really just feeder lines bringing freight to/from the main lines and are poor candidates for electrification.

A better, but more expensive, solution.

A second track, useable by semi-HSR and freight, and routed somewhat better, is more affordable.

145 kph, with one stop in Red Deer, should be competitive with flying & security, downtown to downtown.

I think it is about 275 km between the two. So just over 2 hours, downtown to downtown with a stop in Red Deer.


More on CP & CN to BC "later" wen I have time.

145 km/h (90 mph) is what the maximum speed limit is on the existing line. The old steam trains running from Calgary to Edmonton actually used to run that fast on the line 50-100 years ago.

But, the problem is with the conflicts with the freight trains, and the fact that all the towns along the line were built around the train stations. It runs right through the middle of most of them, and there are lot of level crossings. If you start running high speed rail (200 km/h+) with level crossings you are going to kill a lot of automobile drivers, and it would cost a fortune to grade-separate the tracks.

The best solution is to do what the French did with their TGV system and build a completely new double-tracked system - straight as an arrow, no slowing down, and take no prisoners who get in the way. It can bypass all the town centers (except Red Deer) and avoid conflicts with freight trains and automobiles.

If they pushed the envelope a bit, they could run 275 km/h (170 mph) trains and go downtown to downtown in 1 hour. Any serious high speed rail manufacturer could build a train that fast. The airlines would not be able to compete with that once they included the taxi rides at both ends and the time for checkin and security clearances.

It would cost about $5 billion, but it's not as if the Alberta government doesn't have that much money sitting around in the oil royalty piggy bank. They just lack the intestinal fortitude to bit the bullet and do it. All it takes is the provincial Premier to say "GO!" and it could be done before next election.

Our newspaper of record is continuing its editorial stance of mocking anyone who prepares for anything:


That's funny, for years, FEMA has published its official disaster preparedness guidance: pack a bug-out bag, and keep two weeks water and supplies and three months' food.

The author prepared to be quarantined for an outbreak of H1N1 virus and the whole article is breast beating for buying survival rations, which have no relevance to real life or its hazards, according to the author. There's nothing wrong with the basic concept. FEMA guidance is for "all-hazards", that is to say that if the bug-out bag is not called for, be prepared to shelter in place because they aren't coming to get you out. The author's mistake was that she spent a bunch of money buying inedible food like crud packaged as survival rations.

The fact that the survival rations did not prevent her family members from dying from natural causes is in the, "well, duh...." category of philosophical insights.

Some of my buddies could point out that the chow comes in right useful when the disaster is the ordinary financial sort. That is, if it is real food to start with, and cooking from scratch with real food is not an alien concept. They had plenty of time to bake bread and make soup after getting laid off.

I think part of the problem is that people are unable to assign a relative weighting to the likelihood, severity and timescale of certain events.

For example, how would one rate this list in order of Likelihood, Severity, Timescale ?

Supervolcano Under Yellowstone
Asteroid Impact
Sea-level Rise from Climate Change
Pandemic Virus
Nuclear Explosion in Populated Area
Peak Oil
Financial Crash

I leave it as an exercise for the reader. Once one has a ranking, of sorts, I think it becomes a lot easier to make plans that have a relatively good chance of being fit-for-purpose.

I think, also, there are short-term, medium-term and long-term plans. Again, one has to match those against the list of possible scenarios. I, personally, don't spend much time worrying about an asteroid hitting the Earth - there's not much one is going to be able to do about that.

I do keep several months worth of food in the pantry - items I would be eating anyway - things just get rotated so the oldest items get used up. I also have an emergency kit, in case of some sudden occurrence - like the time we had a blown transformer, after a huge storm, and power was out for a week.

As for the "bunker" concept - the question I always ask is - what are people going to do when their food stores run out, and they have to exit the bunker ?

btw - I can totally relate to baking bread after being laid off - I went through it in the early 2000's after tech companies hit the wall. I've come to view it as a "test run" for the 2008 crash.

Peak Oil
Financial Crash
Pandemic Virus
Sea-level Rise from Climate Change
Nuclear Explosion in Populated Area
Asteroid Impact (comparable in size to one in Arizona)
Supervolcano Under Yellowstone


Well given enough time some are nearly ineveitable.
P/O 100%
Financial Crash upper 90%
Pandemic Virus upper 90's
Sea Level Rise 100%
Nuke explosion probably <50%
Asteroid Impact likely 100%
Supervolcano probably 70% -if you are prepared to wait long enough, 100% if you could substitute another eruption elsewhere.

Social breakdown
Gang crime and territorial conflict
Civil strife/war
Religious and/or racial conflict.. Sectarian violence
Regional divides resulting in boarder wars over land/resources
KKK begins adopting stretches of highway ;-/

Other than the last all of those are either inevitable or happening already. One of the things I have begun to rank very highly is not a Nuclear Explosion in Populated Area, but another large release of nuclear material in a populated area. As the fragile active systems that keep these things controlled fail, the physical materials that make up the plant age and deteriorate and the financial resources to maintain and staff them disappear, this becomes almost inevitable. Given where they are located the impacts are very high too. In fact, this has become one of my primary concerns because people cannot adapt to contamination by radioactive particles. If/when it happens in the area you're in it will render all of the efforts, plans and provisions you've made irrelevant in an instant.

Yes, in such a case, life changes utterly.
And I think the most interesting point is that people can change after such an experience too.
They can stop really caring about what they cared about before.
They can see some other things entirely----
There are no more safe places, so why look for one.
And life becomes a gig.

The ads for "financial security" through banks in the glossy magazines seem ridiculous. The car ads also.
One just becomes a traveler, or an outsider, or a player, or a wanderer.
Passing through.
Trying to get home when there isn't one.
You realize that your home could be everywhere or anywhere.

I'm thinking that perspective awaits for a lot of people.

On the positive side, it is freeing, however. Of course, destabilizing, worrisome, and all.

You stop expecting so much.

I know it from experience.

You are forced to take stock and see what you can really sell for money.
What can you make with your hands?
Can you sing for your supper?

The only one that is 100% not ineveitable is Nuke explosion - but that takes Mankind to decide no bombs.

You missed the biggest and most probable disaster:

Magnitude 9+ earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone off Oregon, Washington, and BC. plus resultant 100-foot tsunami hitting the West Coast and Hawaii.

Geological and archeological evidence indicates it happens like clockwork every few hundred years. The last time was in 1700 when there were no white people on the West Coast. Major Indian villages were wiped out, though. The date can be verified because the tsunami wiped out towns in Japan, which was keeping records.

Geological evidence also indicates that the San Andreas Fault which runs past San Francisco and Los Angeles usually releases with a magnitude 8+ earthquake at about the same time as the Cascadia fault system because the two are connected.

Also, New Orleans is going to get hit by a category 5 hurricane sometime in the foreseeable future. That is a fairly regular occurrence on the century scale, too. Next time they will probably be as prepared as they were for Hurricane Katrina (which was only a category 3 when it hit land).

The other disasters are lower probability and/or lower consequences. Risk is probability x consequences. The probability of an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone is about 25% over the course of 100 years, and the consequences are about 400,000 dead. That doesn't include what might happen if the San Andreas Fault also releases at the same time.

Consider Mag 9 Earthquake, Tsunami, EF5 Tornado and Cat 5 Hurricane added to the list.

I think one has to look at one's own geographic location and make adjustments. One could also add extreme drought to the list, or even insect infestation, based on that.

Once one does that, I think the chances are markedly improved for creating a workable plan of action.

There was that FEMA analysis from 2000. Their picks for the three biggest disasters likely to affect the US: terrorist attack on NYC, Cat. 5 hurricane hitting New Orleans, massive earthquake in San Francisco.

I think if I lived in SF, I'd be worried.

However this is highly political entity, so there are certain types of eventualities they cannot consider, and reasons why the ranking of various scenarios may be distorted. Still useful, but as always the source must be considered.

The FEMA analysis notorously scored 2 out of 3 for prediction accuracy in the 2000's - The terrorist attack in New York and the hurricane disaster in New Orleans, so that's a pretty good track record.

We're still waiting for the third disaster - the big earthquake in San Francisco. In that case, it's not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen. The San Andreas Fault lets go with a big ground-ripper about twice as often as the Cascadia Fault, but when the Cascadia Fault goes, the San Andreas Fault usually goes with it. It makes for a very wide-scale disaster.

The San Andreas Fault, for those who have been living in Kansas all their lives, runs right through the suburbs of San Francisco. This is what the results looked like the last time it had a major slippage in 1906:

Secretary of War Taft wired instructions to every Army and Navy Base that "No man shall sleep until every needful supply shall be en route on the fastest available train to San Francisco".

Tents, mobile hospitals, rations and field kitchens arrived in San Francisco from Kansas and San Antonio, with telegraphs and steam locomotives, faster than food and water could get to the New Orleans Convention Center over dry, clear, easily drivable roads or via the Mississippi River to the undamaged cruise ship dock immediately behind the Convention Center.


Don't forget the New Madrid fault. Last time it formed Reelfoot lake and rang church bells in Boston.

The New Madrid earthquakes were an example of a mid-continent quake. They can be devastating, but probably don't occur very often - probably no more than once every few thousand years for New Madrid. And you can't really predict them because they are so completely random in nature. The Cascadia Fault releases quite regularly every few centuries, and can be expected to create a tsunami which will be much more deadly than the quake itself.

I think the science is rapidly changing on this. Faults like New Madrid aren't well understood, but there seems to be cause for concern.

I read an article a few years back from a civil engineering perspective, that warned another New Madrid would be much more dangerous than a bigger quake in California. The bedrock in the east is more solid, which means the seismic waves travel farther. That's why New Madrid caused damage as far away as Boston and Toronto. And of course, we don't design for earthquakes here in the east as they do out west.

... the last time it had a major slippage in 1906...

Why doesn't the one in 1989 count?

The 1989 earthquake was an order of magnitude smaller than the 1906 quake and only killed 69 people. A quake on both the Cascadia and San Andreas Faults could be one or two orders of magnitude bigger than the 1906 earthquake and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people with the accompanying tsunami.

Rocky - You're forgetting what could be for many folks the scariest potential calamity: Newt 2016. Maybe even more scary for conservatives. LOL.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog...

Oh, wait a minute. Maybe not that Newt...

Magnitude 9+ earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone off Oregon, Washington, and BC. plus resultant 100-foot tsunami hitting the West Coast and Hawaii.

Geological and archeological evidence indicates it happens like clockwork every few hundred years. The last time was in 1700 when there were no white people on the West Coast. Major Indian villages were wiped out, though. The date can be verified because the tsunami wiped out towns in Japan, which was keeping records.

Yes, that will likely happen one of these days. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a hundred years or so. Saying it happens "like clockwork" might be a bit of a stretch, since there is a significant error bar on timing of events prior to the "Orphan Tsunami", but it does happen periodically. It will happen again. Experience in the recent Japan Tsunami and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami indicates that the tsunami may cause more death and destruction than the earthquake.

Geological evidence also indicates that the San Andreas Fault which runs past San Francisco and Los Angeles usually releases with a magnitude 8+ earthquake at about the same time as the Cascadia fault system because the two are connected.

They are connected by the Mendicino Fracture Zone. Whether or not an earthquake on one increases stress on the other (thus making an earthquake more likely) is not certain, but certainly possible. Our understanding of these kinds of events is growing rapidly. Sadly, much of that knowledge and understanding comes from events such as in Japan and the Indian Ocean.

Stay tuned for events on the West Coast of N America. If you are along the coast and feel an earthquake that makes it difficult to stand, and/or lasts for more than a few seconds.....run like hell to the highest ground you can reach. Failing that, try to get to the upper floors of a really stout building. Good Luck!

I can't speak for California or Oregon, but in my home state of Washington the major metro areas are mostly situated along the I-5 corridor on Puget Sound. I'm not an expert on the subject, and I don't have a link handy, but I recall reading that the tsunami from the last 9.0 subduction zone quake mostly wiped out villages on the Olympic peninsula well to the west.

The local media routinely reminds us that the greater danger for most people in this area is the shallow Seattle fault that runs right under the downtown core of the city of the same name. Shallower faults have the potential for much greater damage, and due to the unique geography here it could also create a "bathtub" effect where the water of Puget Sound sloshes back and forth in a whole series of mini-tsunamis.

Don't get me wrong, a 9.0 of the coast would most certainly not be a walk in the park, but in Seattle the real worry is the fault that runs right under our feet.


Jerry - Though a geologist by trade I probably don't understand tsunamis and their origins as many on TOD but I believe the most significant aspect is sea floor movement more so that the strength of the quake. If I recall correct the big tsunami n the Indonesian area resulted from a faulted uplift of the sea floor of around 3 -4 feet over the distance of hundreds of miles. Likewise the recent Japanese tsunami was also associated with significant sea floor movement. In both cases energy was transmitted directly to the water column which in turn generated the wave energy. I might not have this completely correct but I don't think just the passage of a huge energy pulse into the water column would produce much a tsunami if any at all.

I recall a story about a massive tsunami created by a landslide at one of the upper reaches of a valley along the Washington/Oregon coastline. On the order of 1,000' high due to the energy being restricted in such narrow confines. Perhaps the worst case scenarios would be a massive landslide on one of the Canary Islands on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Models indicate a potential for a tsunami 100's of feet high hitting along the entire eastern coast of the US. The particular island is a somewhat active volcano with a major fracture that could eventually lead to such a massive land slide.

Something like the San Andreas, which is strike-slip, doesn't couple much into the water column. A thrust fault OTOH (like a subduction zone (Cascadia, off of Japan, off of Sumatra etc.) can general a lot of vertical motion.

You are mostly, but not entirely correct. It is true that a pure strike slip fault doesn't much move the water column, hence is less likely to produce a large tsunami. However, strike slip fault can cause uplift at a restraining bend, or subsidence at a releasing bend. Either of these could initiate a tsunami. Also, an earthquake (on any sort of fault) can trigger a major undersea landslide, which could generate a significant tsunami. The 1958 Lituya Bay tsunami in Alaska (noted up thread) was caused by a landslide which was triggered by an earthquake.

The bottom line is while strike slip faults are somewhat less likely to cause a tsunami, they are not totally benign in that regard.

The San Andreas Fault in California is vertical, and it is on land. The Cascadia Subduction Fault which runs offshore from British Columbia to Northern California goes under the continental shelf at a shallow angle of about 30 degrees from horizontal. An earthquake on it would generate a lot of vertical motion, and hence most likely a large tsunami. It is similar to the one which triggered the massive tsunami which hit Japan recently.

A lot of the effects of such a slippage are permanent. Some of the towns near the coast would find themselves permanently underwater after such an earthquake. They were able to date the 1700 earthquake by counting tree rings in forests which ended up underwater after the earthquake. Cedar stumps last a long time after being submerged in water.

A lot of the effects of such a slippage are permanent. Some of the towns near the coast would find themselves permanently underwater after such an earthquake.

Actually no, subsidence is not necessariy permanent.

During the M 9.2 1964 Alaska Earthquake, a subduction zone event similar to Cascadia, areas along Turnagain Arm dropped as much as two meters. This was regional tectonic subidence, and killed forests and destroyed the villages of Portage and Girdwood. However, since 1964 the area has been rebounding, and roughly half of the subsidence has been recovered, by post earthquake rebound, and is still going up. (This is in addition to post glacial rebound.) "Ghost Forests" and remains of Portage can be seen along the highway (Girdwood was relocated to higher ground).

A friend of mine, a retired geologist, has photos of icebergs lying on top of the Seward highway along Turnagain Arm. He says for some years after the earthquake you had to check the tide tables before driving down that highway!

There is also evidence of rebound from the last major Cascadia earthquake.

Well some of the forests submerged by the 1700 earthquake are still under water. The fact that the earth is moving up and down in other places is not really grounds for complacency since it indicates that tectonic activity is still ongoing.

I recall a story about a massive tsunami created by a landslide at one of the upper reaches of a valley along the Washington/Oregon coastline. On the order of 1,000' high due to the energy being restricted in such narrow confines.

Rock, I believe you are thinking of the 1958 Lituya Bay event, in SE Alaska.

The effects of a tsunami are highly dependent on the configuration of the shoreline that it hits. The depth and shape of the local bottom and shape of the shore can either greatly magnify or dampen the effect of the wave. For example, in the 1964 Alaskan Earthquake, Anchorage had virtually no tsunami effects, while much further away in Crescent City California there were several deaths from the tsunami. More recently, the 2011 Japan tsunami did several million dollars damage at Brookings, Oregon. Yet further north near Tillamook, OR, it was a non event according to a familly member of mine who lives in the area.

Or Mt Rainer letting loose a major mudflow.

Mt. Rainier is part of the same system. The Pacific Plate is being subducted under the North American Plate along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and once it goes deep enough under the continental shelf and the rock melts, it can emerge as lava from the string of volcanoes inland of it. Mt. St. Helens was an example.

The whole thing is part of the Pacific "Rim of Fire", which is a problem for everybody in the Pacific region.

Over the past decade, we've had several 8+ magnitude quakes very deep within the subduction zone that caused no tsunami. Our house is just outside of the local tsunami inundation zone, and I've done a lot of research into the total dynamic. The key is where within the subduction zone the quake occurs. And as fate would have it, I lived along the San Andreas fault and noted its meanders, although I was in South Dakota when the Loma Preita quake happened. Of the two structures, the San Andreas fault system is the one most likely to break soon. But of more interest because far more devastating would be another flood basalt event, either here in Oregon or elsewhere. Eventually, tectonics will completely rearrange the continental planetary array and bury most evidence of human existence. But since humans clearly fit the profile of a plague animal, I think that evolutionary calamity will be the first and only necessary event that should concern us--and it's the only one unmentioned as it's the one we do our best to hide from ourselves.

hmmm. A 100-foot tsunami from Oregon's direction would be inconvenient here on windward Oahu; is that considered possible from the Cascadia fault?

One of the potential tsunamis I think about relates to the very large chunk of the big isle that will fall into the sea sometime. I don't have a link, but I seem to recall that there's a very large piece of the Puna side of the big isle on the move. In the past when hunks fell off the Hamakua coast it made for some big ones... which left debris on top of Diamond Head.

Unlikely to happen during the span of my life, but it'd be impressive to see coming in...

I think the 100 foot number is along the US west coast, not thousands of miles away. And even at the coast, maybe a 100foot runup in the most favorable locations. There were somme 100 foot plus runups from the Tohoku quake, but in most places the tsunami was more like 30 feet. And I bet it was only a few feet in Hawaii (it spreads out over distances).

A tsunami from an earthquake on the Cascadia Fault could be 30 feet high at Hawaii. Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific and is actually at risk from tsunamis caused by major earthquakes anywhere in the Pacific region, from Alaska to Chile and anywhere in East Asia and associated islands. People in Hawaii should be afraid, very afraid of tsunamis.

There were somme 100 foot plus runups from the Tohoku quake, but in most places the tsunami was more like 30 feet. And I bet it was only a few feet in Hawaii (it spreads out over distances).

Apparently it varied by a factor of 3 or 4 depending on just where in Hawaii, but you're basically correct. I visited a week and a half later and it had flooded our hotel in Kona, ruining a bunch of stuff on the first floor. The security camera caught video.

"Stay tuned for events on the West Coast of N America."

And just inland, where the line of volcanos runs from Mt Lassen to southern BC.

Along with New Orleans the Tampa Bay Area and New York City are vulnerable to a hurricane.
Pinellas County (the worst place for a TB hurricane because the right front quadrant
would push water into the bay had one hurricane in the 20th century (1921)) However
Pinellas County had ten hurricanes in the 19th century including four in one decade
and two in consecutive years.

The Emergency Management team of the multi-county area held a weekend workshop to
consider a worst case (Cat 5 with eye crossing Pinellas County) a couple of years
ago. Some factoids:

* 85% of Pinellas County dwellings red tagged (pop. 916K)
* 90% of Pinellas County without power six months after event
* Only one hospital in the eight county area fully operational
six months after event (the easternmost in Hillsborough
County--the county housing Tampa)

Pinellas has been hit by several hurricanes in recent history - I know because I was sitting in my house when two passed over (Hurricane Frances and Jeanne). It just usually gets them after they cross the state... So perhaps what I witnessed was down to "tropical storm" levels of power. In any case, what you're saying is incorrect.

A category 5 anywhere in the US would be a problem. Tampa Bay may not be "well prepared", but is definitely better off than New Orleans was (not that that is saying much).

New York City is especially vulnerable. They don't get as many hurricanes as the Gulf Coast, but when one does get that far north, it moves faster and is less predictable. They might end up with very little time to react, and with the traffic situation, evacuation would be a nightmare.

I love lists!

Here's how I categorize them.

Rule 1: Can't run from geology, biology, evolution or astronomy!
Rule 2: After rule number 1, people are almost always the problem, so good luck with that.

Knowing that, I moved right through the model to "acceptance" from Kubler-Ross, after a few years stuck on denial.

"Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."
-Will Durant

I'd like to suggest that people either download (free) or purchase The LDS Preparedness Manual. It is the most comprehensive thing out there that covers everything you need to know!! Lots of checklists and basic information. The downloadable pdf is 509 pages. The few bits about religion won't get in anyone's way.



Thanks Todd.

I just downloaded a copy.. tho' I wasn't nuts about giving my email address.. still, the price seems more than reasonable.

Meanwhile, my wife just came back from Permaculture Design Cert. class #3, just buzzing with ideas and energy.. so there's another layer that starts to become better reinforced.


I got an email from them plugging their organization (Another Voice of Warning) and I assume everyone does.



No need whatsoever to give them your email to download their manual:

Use 10 Minute Mail to get a pseudo-randomly-generated bogus email address which expires in 10 minutes.

Very handy.



Hey America, here's how to use 'half the oil' by 2035

Called "Half The Oil: A realistic plan to cut the United States' projected oil use in half over 20 years" (PDF), the UCS says there is a way to save a total of nearly eight million barrels per day by 2035 using efficiency strategies and another four million through innovation. In this situation, efficiency means things like doubling cars' fuel economy (saving four million barrels a day) and retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient (2 mbd). Innovation means getting serious about "the full potential of electric vehicles" (1.5 mbd) and making better biofuels (1.5 mbd).

Hmmm..."A realistic plan"? Somehow I think not. IIRC, westtexas' ELM predictions suggest world available net exports will be approaching zero about that time, if current trends continue that long. Actually I'm becoming increasingly sceptical of any projections going out more than about 5 years out. I strongly believe we are going to see some significant discontinuities within the next 10 years, as early as.......

Alan from the islands

Alan - As usual, unfortunately, a plan to "save us" that doesn't offer a single word as to the cost of the plan and whether there is enough capital to develop the plan to any meaningful level. Again, poor ole Greece offers a sad real life example. Up thread the question was presented: can Greece prioritize the effort to go green and become an energy exporter to the EU in addition to cutting their fuel import bill? Makes great sense...on paper. So will the Greek govt invest those $billion of alts or, instead, give priority to paying hospital workers who have yet to receive a paycheck this year? And to pay retired pensioners so they can continue to feed themselves? IOW in a society where many are already suffering from the country's financial problems who will the govt decide to damage even more by redirecting funds to going green? Maybe one way to justify an EU bailout of Greece is have those funds directed to alt development. But that effort would take many years to have a positive effect o the economy. Thus in addition to funding green energy more capital would be needed to stabilize the economy. Perhaps a plan could be devised but what about the risks? It could be perceived as a huge risk with no certainty it would work. How much control would the EU have over the Greek efforts? How much control would Greece allow as a condition of such loans?

Grand solutions are easy to design if the details are ignored. Just as our well intentioned scientists do in the solution to our oil importation problem. Just as I feel the frustration in your words about your country's situation. Just as I feel about my country's inability to react logically to our situation.

Yup, we're all caught in the energy trap. Too expensive to stay in, even more expensive to get out! Incidentally the term Energy Trap brings back memories of the term Debt Trap, a term that was used to describe the financial circumstances my island found itself in in earlier times. It describes the situation where debt servicing costs were such that the country would have to keep borrowing more money as it was felt that otherwise, the sacrifices that would have to be made would lead to a collapse of the government. I now realize that this was just the beginning of the Energy Trap.

At the time of the first oil shocks in the seventies, instead of taking steps to drastically increase energy efficiency, the government of the day decided to use a newly instituted levy on bauxite mining to cushion the effects on the poor. This created a generation of Jamaican's who think energy prices are controlled by governments. It has also helped to create a culture of people expecting government to fix energy prices instead of quickly adjusting their consumption quickly in response to rising prices although, to be fair, the inability to adjust quickly, seems to be a world wide phenomenon based on our civilization's structural dependence on oil.

The road to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions!

Alan from the islands

Alan - "...with good intentions!" Like the good intention of allowing folks to make a quicker trip in S. Texas: they are considering increasing the speed limit on one highway to 85 mph. Great way to get folks to take PO seriously... not.

Might that highway end at a place called Hell (or at least somewhere that's as hot as) by any chance? >;^)

Alan from the islands

But, if you followed this plan, versus BAU, the disruption would be a lot lower. The real key is marketting any sort of plan that at least gets us part way there.

My point was that, I think they are probably basing their timetable on EIA energy forecasts and we all know how likely those are to be correct. If their target was to cut oil consumption in half by 2025 then I'd agree.

If there is a country in the world that I could call "Peak Oil Aware" on a national level, it would have to Germany or maybe France. Germany is leading with energy efficiency and renewables while France is leading with nuclear and electrification of transport.

Alan from the islands

I would add Denmark to the list.

World leaders in increased bicycling, wind and CHP (Central Heat & Power Plants - much more efficient use of bio-mass, garbage and FF). And building more inter-city electrified rail (to Sweden and soon to Germany) and a new subway in Copenhagen (Phase I "Y" completed a few years ago, Phase II ring under construction, due to be completed in 2018, talk about one or two small extensions after that).

Plans are for less than 10% of urban trips by car in the near future.

And Denmark is still an oil exporter - it is just that oil extraction is falling faster than their oil consumption (down by over half from 1973).

Best Hopes for the Danes,


Well, the plan is realistic in that many countries use half the oil per capita that the US does, so it is clearly possible to cut oil consumption.

The unrealistic part is that it assumes Americans will be able to do so without changing their lifestyles. In countries with much lower oil consumption, people drive much less and walk, bicycle, and take public transit much more. They also live in much smaller houses on much smaller lots in much more dense urban areas.

They assume that Americans will continue to drive enormous distances every day and continue to live in huge houses in vast, sprawling subdivisions. The only difference will be that their giant SUV will be electric or run on biofuels. I think that's unlikely. The majority of Americans will be unable to afford that lifestyle when the oil supply gets tight.

In 1950, the average new US SFR home was just over 1,000 sq ft. with average households almost 2 more people. Retail space/capita was 10% of today.

In 1970, VMT (vehicle miles traveled) was about 1.1 trillion, in 2008, over 3 trillion.

(All stats from memory).

All we have to do is go back to what was OK back then.


Small is Beautiful U.S. House Size, Resource Use, and the Environment


As house size increases, resource use in buildings goes up, more land is occupied, increased impermeable surface results in more storm-water runoff, construction costs rise, and energy consumption increases. In new, single-family houses constructed in the United States, living area per family member has increased by a factor of 3 since the 1950s. In comparing the energy performance of compact (small) and large single-family houses, we find that a small house built to only moderate energy-performance standards uses substantially less energy for heating and cooling than a large house built to very high energy-performance standards. This article examines some of the trends in single-family house building in the United States and provides recommendations for downsizing houses to improve quality and resource efficiency.

Free access to the article in the link above.

All we have to do is go back to what was OK back then.

[Emphasis added.] Well, those are the social/political kickers right there, aren't they? Going backwards into the past instead of forward into the future. Not going to sell well if anyone starts spinning it that way. And a few weeks of living in the past with no visible hope of escape would be more than enough to cure most people permanently of any nostalgia for back then. Heck, just being sentenced to live for a while in Ralph Kramden's (the one played by Jackie Gleason) apartment might be enough.

Plus, a good chunk - not all, but a good chunk - of VMT increases since 1970 or even 1950 have owed to added commutes by women. Their non-commuting might have been OK back then but would it be OK now? And since Obamacare alone is going to cost people nearly as much as everything they made back then, would it be OK to cut medical expenditure to fit in with incomes of the past, instead of giving everybody every possible thing with utter disregard not only of the cost, but even of whether there is any net benefit (vide reports that doctors fairly often decline "tests" and "treatments" inflicted on others in the interest of "a proper standard of care")?

As someone mentioned elsewhere in this Drumbeat, "Grand solutions are easy to design if the details are ignored." Yes, indeed, the trouble with glib sweeping pronouncements and grand plans is that they tend to founder and sink like rocks when they run into reality.

And the alternative to Super Sizing everything ?

BTW, the increased % of women in the workforce is a minor factor in increased VMT. Kids being chauffeured everywhere - instead of walking and bicycling - has been almost as large an effect.


Realistically, were people significantly worse off in the 1950's than they are today?

Sure, families of six had to live in a 1000 sq. ft. house and could afford only one modest car, but a man could support a wife and raise four kids on a blue-collar salary even if his wife didn't work. He could take the streetcar or commuter train to work to avoid paying for gas. He could pay off the mortgage on his 1000 sq. ft. house and become debt-free in a reasonable length of time. He could expect to be employed at the same company until he died, at which time he could collect a modest but adequate company pension. How many people can do that today?

The Obamacare cost comment is a red herring. Countries other than the US have long had universal medical care insurance systems that are considerably cheaper than the US, and have longer life expectancies than the US despite that. The cost of US medical care is by far the highest in the world, despite which the US ranks 38th in life expectancy - right after Cuba. The US medical care system is a uniquely US political screwup.

Hey RMG,

Is that guy's pension check wired to heaven?

He could expect to be employed at the same company until he died, at which time he could collect a modest but adequate company pension.


I dig your perspective about the utterly screwed-up state of U.S. health care...I dearly wish more people in the U.S. would extract their head from a dark place, jettison their ideology they have been spoon fed by monied interests in order to convince them to vote against their own self interests, and do the right thing.

I will expect to witness that just after Hell freezes over...

after Hell freezes over...

I think global warming will delay that event by thousands of years.

All we have to do is go back to what was OK back then.

Or never leave it:

We've lived in an 851 sq ft 3-bedroom co-op townhouse for 27 years (units built in the mid-1960s). Have 200 sq ft of raised beds out back, herbal medicinal and tisane gardens in front, common areas for recreation, root cellar and pantry in the basement.

Raised two kids here, both seem normal... college-educated, married, employed, living simply, with gardens. One couple is living in the same co-op, the other in a small home in town. Neither couple plans on "trading up" to a starter mansion (even if that were possible).

Not trying to be smaller-than-thou here. Just noting that all around us are demonstrations of what is possible.

Hard to see sometimes, with the glare from over-consumption or an intransigent pessimism about human nature.

Being hidden in plain sight, we have to work at seeing them.

Surely others have positive examples from their home town to help with pre-familiarization?


RockyMtnGuy, good to see you posting again. I genuinely appreciate your insights, Rgs, Joe B.

I tend to disappear without warning from time to time. I was sailing off the West Coast of Canada and the US for most of the last month.

Most of the ports had wireless connections to the Internet, but I didn't have my laptop along. I prefer to be disconnected from the world and just listen to the sound of the wind in the rigging and the water rushing past the hull. My wife agrees with me on that, except she likes the boat to be heeled at 45 degrees, the water to be coming over the rail, and the dinghy to be crashing into the stern from the high waves.

I'll probably be around for most of the summer because the weather is good here in the Canadian Rockies, but come fall we will probably be off somewhere else. We're invited to my nephew's wedding in an old castle in France, some friends of ours want to go kayaking in Mexico, and my wife wants to go sailing in the Caribbean so we'll see.

My brother wants me to sail around the world with him in his new yacht, but I think that might be going too far. At least until after they put in that new hip I need.

Fed: Recession kicked median household wealth to 1992 level

The median U.S. household lost nearly 39% of its wealth from 2007 to 2010, the Federal Reserve said Monday, emphasizing anew the impact of the financial crisis and the recession on ordinary Americans.

Middle-class families took the biggest hit to their net worth during the crunch because much of their wealth was in their homes, whose values plunged during the recession and in its aftermath, the Fed report said. Wealthier families saw a smaller drop in their incomes, but nowhere near as much impact on their net worth.

..."Incomes went down more during two years of this recovery than during the recession itself," he said. "I don't think we've seen anything like this."

Living on food stamps in middle-class suburbia

Morris County is known for its wealth and million-dollar homes. Median household income there is over $91,000. Yet, the number of people receiving food stamps in the area has nearly tripled in the past five years.

I think I know how these people feel, having gone through job losses on several occasions in my life. One thing that does stand out is how your expectations gradually become lower and lower, which I think is a good thing. Another thing that comes to mind is how items that break or wear out do not get replaced: vacuum cleaner breaks down, use broom, ... hole in the jeans, use needle and thread, ... car breaks down, cycle, ... bicycle breaks down, walk, ... and duct tape and wire coat hangers are used to their fullest potential.

Even though I now have had a decent job for last 2.5 years, I still have a lot of trouble spending frivolously, and haven't yet replaced some of the stuff that wore out. I do not take anything for granted and have totally given up on job security. Every day that things stay OK is a blessing.

In my case, I found gainful employment after two weeks, and started the job after four (while drawing six months of severence) pay. But, the psychological effect on my confidence was quite real. And it made me into a paranoid workaholic, which hasn't been the best thing for my heath. So even when it works out, it can effect your way of seeing the world.

What Land of Opportunity?

...the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe—or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.

This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries—and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1 percent of US income earners captured 93 percent of the income growth. Other inequality indicators—like wealth, health, and life expectancy—are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.

A closer look at those at the top reveals a disproportionate role for rent-seeking: Some have obtained their wealth by exercising monopoly power; others are CEOs who have taken advantage of deficiencies in corporate governance to extract for themselves an excessive share of corporate earnings; and still others have used political connections to benefit from government munificence: either excessively high prices for what the government buys (drugs), or excessively low prices for what the government sells (mineral rights).

I live close enough to Yellowstone that the pyroclastic flows would get me immediately, so that's covered.
Only a few commercial nuclear plants and the Hanford rez upwind of me, but both are hundreds of miles away, so no big deal there either. I'm 60 and don't plan on procreating, so it's a non-issue for me personally.
I am, however, surrounded by mostly dead forests killed by mountain pine beetles over the past decade that can explode anytime. My city just lost one-third of its water supply because the reservoir watershed is dead wood, turbidity is above limits and no one has the $25 million needed for a filtration plant that was never needed before. And that's just dead-tree runoff -- nothing has burned there yet.
So my greatest real-world threat is forest fires. Thankfully, al Qaida has announced a threat in that area so maybe the blank checkbook Congress uses for Homeland Security will be used to buy a few more water bombers since the entire country now relies on nine of them.

You're probably better off lighting backfires every winter.

Climate change will boost number of West's wildfires


But these wildfire increases have been predicted for some time.

So my greatest real-world threat is forest fires.

Yeah, there's little question that the recent mega-fires in Arizona and New Mexico are a preview for Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, each of which has something greater than two million acres of beetle kill. The incident manager for the current High Park fire in Colorado raised the possibility today that if the fire spreads west into areas with large amounts of beetle kill, they won't be able to contain that side this summer.

For those not aware of the kind of overall damage that is done by one of these massive crown fires, here's a picture after the Hayman fire in 2002. Much of the Hayman burn area is in the Denver Water watershed; Denver and its suburbs can probably afford the ongoing mitigation that will be required; less populous areas will have problems. The ATV is pulling a harrow and seeder. The harrow breaks up the fused, mostly waterproof crust that the big fire produces, then the track is seeded with quick-growing ground cover. I've visited burn areas 50 years old on the eastern side of the Divide where the returning trees are now roughly six feet tall.

Tell me about it. One sister is watching the fire in Ruidoso -she feels confident there is a burned out area between the fire and her house. Her old (sold a long time ago) house it isn't known if its still there. The other sister in Colorado, they packed up the paperwork -just in case.

"The harrow breaks up the fused, mostly waterproof crust that the big fire produces..."

I guess it depends on the soil type. Here in Topanga California in the mountains near the coast of Los Angeles there was a big fire in 1993. The soil turned into a fine dust. It was really impressive. Trailers were nothing but the frame and gas appliance cores standing within an outline of melted aluminum and glass.


Even a stopped (non 24 hour) clock is right twice a day: in this case, thrice a day!

IMF chief Christine Lagarde warns world risks triple crisis
Lagarde says world risks falling incomes, environmental damage and social unrest without more sustainable approach to growth


North Dakotans to consider eliminating all property taxes in the state:


I am sympathetic to the lament that people can never truly own their property as long as they are in thrall to the property tax man, but on the other hand, I hope these folks have a well-thought-out plan to pay for any community services they want.

The measure failed, 78% - 22%.
People apparently like their community services.

s/t - Good for them. Now if they can just get the state politicians to stop giving the oil patch such a big break on oil/NG production taxes they might be able to give their small population some very nice services. If you didn't catch the other thread: Texas collects almost 3X the tax rate tax on oil production as ND does. And La. collects more than 6X the rate. ND is passing up 100's of $millions every year. Some folks claim the public can't overcome the efforts of the oil patch lobbyists. Texas and La. have more than their fair share of lobbyists and that hasn't got us the big breaks the Bakken companies have gotten. Along those lines there was an interesting side article in H's post above:


"Despite a popular belief that spending on lobbyists and political gifts yield fat dividends for business, a study has found just the opposite - that in general higher corporate spending in Washington is linked to worse market performance."

But I'm not sure their metric is a valid one. Maybe companies that were more financially strapped by govt regs lobbied harder. OTOH they compared how stock values varied with lobbyist expense. But depending on how any one sector of the economy is doing such correlation may just be a coincidence. For instance the studies determined that oil companies did better over the period studied and thus their lobbyist investments paid off better. I would offer that oil prices running up several 100% of that time period had much more to do with gains then lobbyists efforts. Likewise, though they didn't specifically point out the construction business, I doubt any amount of lobbyist effort would have improved their bottom line during the housing/mortgage bust.

I notice this quote in the Reuters article also :-

"The only instance of benefit was over time in those industries researchers found substantially regulated, such as oil, telecommunications, insurance or utilities - representing about 10 percent of the companies they considered."

In other words, there is a benefit in having fewer "compliance" costs. i.e. it costs to be a good neighbor, and some companies don't want to pay for that.

If the folks in ND were really on top of the game, they would tax their oil business similar to LA rates, and invest in public/private partnerships to build /Many/ wind turbines and transmission lines...they could not only provide much more of their own power from wind but they could export other states (MN comes to mind) as well and make $$$. MN could use its own wind to balance slow ind days in ND (not many of those) and to sell surplus power to IL (think Chicago).

They also could use some of the tax to subsidize super-insulating their homes, schools, commercial and industrial buildings.

They also could rebuild their once-fine network of SE-NW-running spur lines off their main E-W rail lines to serve rail-abandoned communities and provide a PO replacement for many of the diesel trucks used to haul grain to elevators. Trams in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck-Dickenson, and Minot would be a wise long-term investment.

Folks who own large plots of land over the Bakken, who also are suitably sited for a wind farm operation, and also have suitable parameters to crow crops could reap the Triple Crown of income streams. Add a forth income stream from building some eateries/grocery stores/entertainment outlets on parts of their land abutting roads where oil service company folks regularly drive.

Some sweet prospects for some lucky land-owners.

Wild migrating salmon likely infected their farmed cousins in B.C., say experts

Observers of the decades-long argument over fish farming in B.C. can now add one more shade of grey to the debate.

Industry critics have long feared Atlantic salmon raised in open-net cages in the ocean can pass on diseases to wild salmon and as a result, jeopardize those wild stocks.

But an outbreak of infectious haematopoietic necrosis, known as IHN, on an Atlantic salmon farm off Vancouver Island's west coast in May appears to have been caused by passing wild stocks, a reversal of the traditional arguments against the industry.

Instead of harming wild stocks, the May outbreak actually led to the quarantine of Mainstream Canada's Dixon Bay farm, north of Tofino, the cull of more than 560,000 young Atlantic salmon, and fears of a larger outbreak industry-wide.

Cooler heads prevailed and there was no demand to cull wild salmon stocks.