Drumbeat: September 10, 2012

Asian Water Scarcity Risked as Coal-Fired Power Embraced

Inner Mongolia’s rivers are feeding China’s coal industry, turning grasslands into desert. In India, thousands of farmers have protested diverting water to coal- fired power plants, some committing suicide.

The struggle to control the world’s water is intensifying around energy supply. China and India alone plan to build $720 billion of coal-burning plants in two decades, more than twice today’s total power capacity in the U.S., International Energy Agency data show. Water will be boiled away in the new steam turbines to make electricity and flush coal residue at utilities from China Shenhua Energy Co. to India’s Tata Power Co. that are favoring coal over nuclear because it’s cheaper.

With China set to vaporize water equal to what flows over Niagara Falls each year, and India’s industrial water demand growing at twice the pace of agricultural or municipal use, Asia’s most populous nations will have to reconsider energy projects to avoid conflict between cities, farmers and industry.

Climate change challenges power plant operations

BOULDER CITY, Nev. — Drought and rising temperatures are forcing water managers across the country to scramble for ways to produce the same amount of power from the hydroelectric grid with less water, including from behemoths such as the Hoover Dam.

Hydropower is not the only part of the nation’s energy system that appears increasingly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as low water levels affect coal-fired and nuclear power plants’ operations and impede the passage of coal barges along the Mississippi River.

Naimi Says Supply and Demand Don’t Justify Rising Oil Prices

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said global supply, demand and inventories of crude don’t justify the current increase in oil prices, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

“Saudi Arabia is concerned about rising oil prices in the international oil market,” al-Naimi said today. “The price of oil is simply not supported by market fundamentals. The market is well balanced, forward cover remains within an acceptable range and inventories are more than adequate.”

Oil Trades Near One-Week High on Outlook for Economic Stimulus

Oil traded near the highest level in a week in New York amid speculation that the U.S. and China will implement measures to revive their economies.

Futures were little changed after three days of gains, the longest rising streak in three weeks. The Federal Reserve meets this week to discuss monetary policy after the European Central Bank agreed last week on bond purchases to ease the euro area’s debt crisis. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said supply, demand and inventories of crude don’t justify the current increase in prices, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.8376 a Gallon, Lundberg Says

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations rose 7.85 cents in the past two weeks to $3.8376 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

Hedge Funds Lifted Wagers to 16-Month High Before Rally

Hedge funds raised bullish commodity bets to the highest in 16 months before speculation that policy makers in the U.S., China and Europe will revive global growth pushed prices higher for a sixth week.

Ship Magnate Uses Gut in $11 Billion Bet Worst Since ’70s Ending

The flow of much of the world’s oil is controlled from a small suite of offices perched over a Tiffany & Co. store in the Chelsea section of London. That’s where John Fredriksen, a Norwegian shipping magnate worth $13.2 billion, manages the world’s largest fleet of supertankers, the most valuable deep-water drilling company and an armada of about 128 other vessels that carry minerals, grains and liquefied gases.

Oman the comeback kid of oil

By the end of the year, Oman is set to become the first country in the eastern hemisphere to harness the sun's power to get oil out of the ground (see story below). It is negotiating with BP an estimated US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn) investment that would make it the first Middle East country to use hydraulic fracturing, the technique that has unleashed a natural gas windfall in the United States. And, as production has recovered to 930,000 bpd, Oman is the comeback kid of the oil world.

Plains Exploration to Buy $5.55 Billion Gulf Fields From BP

Plains Exploration & Production Co. agreed to buy BP Plc’s stakes in a group of Gulf of Mexico oilfields for $5.55 billion, increasing output.

U.S. ‘Not Setting Deadlines’ for Iran, Clinton Says

The U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations as “by far the best approach” to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Bombs Kill 34 in Iraq, Including 14 in Oil-Producing Region

A series of bomb attacks killed 34 people in Iraq, including more than a dozen in the northern oil region of Kirkuk, Deputy Health Minister Khamees al-Saad said.

Another 327 people were wounded in the blasts, al-Saad said in a phone interview from Baghdad. Seven recruits were slain in a suicide car bombing and 17 injured while waiting outside the police headquarters of state-run North Oil Co. in Kirkuk, Aywa Salah, a North Oil police colonel, said by phone.

Shell begins oil, gas drilling off Alaska coast

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- More than four years after Royal Dutch Shell paid $2.8 billion to the federal government for petroleum leases in the Chukchi Sea, a company vessel on Sunday morning sent a drill bit into the ocean floor, beginning preliminary work on an exploratory well 70 miles off the northwest coast of Alaska.

One of the Greatest Intellectual Frauds Ever Perpetrated

I've written many times over the past decade that I consider Peak Oil to be one of the greatest intellectual frauds ever perpetrated.

I believe having a correct understanding of these issues is critical... perhaps the single most important economic issue of the next several decades.

This matters because if M. King Hubbert (the original Peak Oil theorist) was right in 1956 when he forecast global oil production would peak around the year 2000... we're facing a major change in the future of the energy industry.

The little green bean in big fracking demand

In just one year the price of guar has surged tenfold, from about 30 rupees (about 50 U.S. cents) to around 300 rupees for each kilogram of the precious seed.

Millions plunged in darkness as power goes out in Havana, other parts of Cuba

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cubans are used to the mundane inconvenience of brief, localized power outages that regularly hit the country's aging electricity grid, but the large blackout that plunged the western part of the Caribbean island into darkness Sunday night was unusual.

More than 2 million residents of the capital, Havana, lost electricity, except for those at hospitals and other places with generators, a government spokesman, who was not identified per government policy, said late Sunday.

GM's Volt: The ugly math of low sales, high costs

(Reuters) - General Motors Co sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August - but that probably isn't a good thing for the automaker's bottom line.

Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.

Electric car charging: Good luck with that

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- I sometimes get to borrow plug-in cars but, like many city dwellers, I don't have a place to plug one in at home. That means, if I want to drive on electricity farther than a full battery will take me, I have to rely on charging stations provided in some of New York City's parking garages.

If you live in a city and are thinking about making the leap to a fully electric car, I recommend carrying a large bottle of Tylenol in the center console because your headaches will be epic.

In Portland, Ore., bikes rule the road

PORTLAND, Ore. – America spent 50 years and billions of dollars after World War II redesigning itself so that cars could move people across this vast country more quickly.

Now, with many cities in gridlock, one-third of the population obese and climate change forcing innovators to look beyond the internal combustion engine, cities are beginning to rethink that push toward the automobile.

Solar Installations Surge on Strong Utility Market

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. solar installations jumped 116 percent in the second quarter from a year ago thanks to the completion of more than 20 big projects for utilities, according to an industry report released on Monday.

The quarter was the largest ever for utility installations, which represented 447 megawatts of the 742 MW total.

Solar Trade Association slams proposed cut to solar farm incentives

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has responded angrily to the government's latest proposals to cut financial support for solar farms by 25 per cent from next April, accusing ministers of pulling the rug from under the industry.

China pushes wind power, but no quick payoff for producers

(Reuters) - China will order its dominant electricity distributors to source up to 15 percent of their power from renewable energy including wind, but slow compliance means it may be years before the country's struggling wind power developers benefit, industry executives say.

Wood Could be the Future of Wind Turbine Masts

In a bid to lower the costs of wind turbine masts, as well as enable taller installations, a German engineering firm is pursuing a novel method of building them - using wood instead of steel.

US agency in $2bn nuclear loan to Abu Dhabi

The US export credit agency has approved a US$2 billion (Dh7.35bn) loan to help pay for Abu Dhabi's nuclear plant.

It is the first slice of financing for the US$20bn cost of building the power station. The first reactor of the project is expected to be completed by 2017.

Climate change expert calls for nuclear power 'binge' to avert global warming

A leading British academic has called for accelerated research into futuristic geo-engineering and a worldwide nuclear power station "binge" to avoid runaway global warming.

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, said both potential solutions had inherent dangers but were now vital as time was running out.

The next ten billion years

100 years from now. In 2100, the human economic system has collapsed and the size of the economy is now a small fraction of what it had been at the beginning of the 21st century. Resource depletion has destroyed most of the industrial system, while climate change and the associated desertification - coupled with the destruction of the fertile soil - have reduced agriculture to a pale shadow of the industrial enterprise it had become. The collapse of agriculture has caused a corresponding population collapse; now under one billion people. Most tropical areas have been abandoned because global warming has made them too hot to be habitable by human beings. The rise in sea level caused by global warming has forced the abandonment of a large number of coastal cities, with incalculable economic damage. The economy of the planet has been further weakened by giant storms and climate disasters which have hit about every inhabited place. Crude oil is not extracted any more in significant amounts and where there still exist gas resources, it is impossible to transport them at long distances because of the decay of the pipeline network and of the flooding of the ports. Only coal is still being extracted and coal fired plants maintain electric power for a reduced industrial activity in several regions of of the North of the planet. Labrador, Alaska, Scandinavia and Northern Siberia see the presence of remnants of the industrial society. Using coal liquefaction, it is still possible to obtain liquid fuels, mostly used for military purposes. The Earth still sees tanks and planes that exchange gunfire against each other.

Putting Bay Area’s Water Source to a Vote

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — It is one of the oldest environmental battles in the United States, and it involves one of the country’s most famous national parks, one of its most liberal cities, leaders of Silicon Valley and a perennial source of conflict in California: water.

The rush to exploit an increasingly ice-free Arctic

The Arctic also holds large, untapped reserves of oil and natural gas. (Estimates put it around 30 percent of global undeveloped natural gas, and 13 percent of undeveloped oil.) The question is, who does it belong to?

Despite Russia’s well-publicized planting of a flag on the Arctic seafloor, the region will be carved up by international negotiation, not by the colonial-age rules of “finders, keepers.” As part of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, there are some rules about how far from the coast a country’s economic claims are valid. However, the United States has never signed onto the convention because of its refusal to defer to an International Seabed Authority when no country has a clear claim to a resource.

Lush Antarctic past suggests more monsoons in future

It's unlikely we'll reach Eocene temperatures unless we burn fossil fuels well into the 2200s. Even then, Antarctica is likely to stay frozen, so an Antarctic monsoon probably isn't on the cards. But Jacques says monsoons could spring up on other continents.

Martin is unconvinced. She says major weather systems like the jet streams operate close to the poles, and could interfere with any new monsoons.

Thin ice: Access to Arctic oil is not an energy solution

What does the Arctic Ocean's vanishing ice have to do with Western Pennsylvania? The massive sea melt has the potential to revive tensions between the United States and Russia and to slow America's transition to a cleaner economy. That could keep this region and others addicted to oil longer, while postponing the creation of alternative-energy jobs.

Guyana struggles to invest in climate defences

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Alertnet) - Guyana has not made the financial investment it needs to cope with worsening floods and rising sea levels, highlighting how poor countries are struggling to make climate change adaptation a spending priority, researchers say.

Government funding for sea defences, drainage and irrigation has taken a backseat to expenditure on security in the poor South American nation, according to a study by geography experts at Canada’s University of Western Ontario, released earlier this year.

Re: "Greatest Intellectual Frauds..."

Yawn, yet another shill conflating reserves and flow....

So, "global warming" is not the greatest hoax ever ... peak oil is?

"we're number one, we're number one, we're number one." /sarc

Just imagine how the Germans and the Spanish will feel when they realize the PV solar panels from First Solar that they spent billions of dollars on don't work.

According to his article Solar Power flat out doesn't work. Also new energy sources will appear. But he can only name one (nuclear power), probably in embarrassment that he'd already declared renewables a washout.

So... when I heard about Peak Oil for the first time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I knew it had to be wrong.

Because nothing gives you the results you want in science like starting with what you want to be true and hand waving away anything that doesn't fit your beliefs.

As Hubbert's own calculations would show you, increasing the size of the known reserves has the impact of pushing off Peak Oil.

Nope. Completely and demonstrably wrong.

Energy lies at the foundation of our ability to produce wealth and enable the pursuit of happiness

Happiness is the accumulation of wealth. Sigh? Really?

I wouldn't have believed that article before I started hanging out at the oil drum. That is by far the worst MSM article on oil I have ever had the misfortune to read... and I have read a fair few. Anyone using this twit for financial advice deserves what they get.

First Solar’s 250 MW Agua Caliente is the World’s Largest Solar Plant


California’s 1-Gigawatt Solar Milestone: What Does It Mean?


According to the Wikipedia article on Porter Stansberry:

Stansberry was successfully sued for fraud in 2003 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a "scheme to defraud public investors by disseminating false information in several Internet newsletters".

In 2007, he and his investment firm, then called "Pirate Investor," now known as "Stansberry & Associates," were ordered by a U.S. District Court to pay $1.5 million in restitution and civil penalties, the court stating "Stansberry's conduct undoubtedly involved deliberate fraud, making statements that he knew to be false."

So what we have is a convicted fraudster alleging "intellectual fraud." The man apparently does not have a strong sense of irony.

... the more energy we use, the more we discover.

Obviously a causal connection there. Of course, it must be a connection between use and availability. Oh, and oil becomes so more less expensive to extract as we 'discover' more and more.

But I am glad to learn that he is working on a new "study." I can't wait!


That one got started with great plains farming. By luck a wet period began when we started plowing, and it was assumed we were being rewarded for our industriousness (or something).

Did you see the headline over to the right of the article: "A simple way to buy into the natural gas megatrend..." - someone's got to be left holding the bag, eh?

Other supplies of energy will surely be discovered.

'Magic happens here' step.

I've never quite understood why people who make these types of appeals to 'something will save up' haven't realised you only get to be wrong once.

People think that 'something will save us' because it has happened so often. In the past 50 years or so I've seen a number of predicted crises fail to materialize, either because the predictions were flat out wrong, or because some breakthrough provided a fix for the problems tending towards crisis. (On a trivial level, I've been waiting for the limits on how small transistors can be made to be reached for at least a couple of decades.) That has made me very skeptical of most doom scenarios. So, people want to believe that something will save us, again: mythological (Arisians), science (cold fusion), technology/business (replacement of all fossil fuel use with renewables within a decade), and/or behavior changes (everyone giving up their cars and riding bicycles or public transport). (The last two are possible, but highly unlikely.) After all, the consequences of something NOT saving us are more than most people want to face.

(On a trivial level, I've been waiting for the limits on how small transistors can be made to be reached for at least a couple of decades.) That has made me very skeptical of most doom scenarios.

There is a thick concrete barrier at the end of this road and I have my foot on the accelerator and my car is still going faster and faster, therefore I'm very skeptical that at the last minute the barrier won't vaporize and I will pass through it unscathed.

For those that simply won't accept the fact that the universe has laws and physical limits may I suggest they go bang their heads against the concrete barrier a few times before they attempt to drive their car into it at full speed!

Whoever here recently said they were printing up T shirts with the saying "Humans Are Idiots", I like to place an order for a couple dozen...

Don't misunderstand me. I am well aware that we are fast using up the fossil fuels that accumulated over many millions of years, and that climate change is happening and accelerating. I'm just saying that people can become inured to doomsday predictions, and many people don't have the background to understand why 'peak oil' and 'extreme climate change' are different.

But as I say, you can only get it wrong once - then you aren't there to get it wrong again. There can be no track record of anything other than surviving.

Track record, all the other times you didn't die, they tell you nothing other than that you've been lucky to date.

What is worse is that either the old sources of energy haven't properly replenished or we are still using them up at the same rate.

We are riding a bird higher and higher, pulling feathers out one by one in the vain belief that there will always be new feathers or that if we just get high enough, it won't matter anymore.

But as I say, you can only get it wrong once - then you aren't there to get it wrong again.

This is, of course, the position many of us take regarding how the future might play out. The probability of BAU continuing is very low and we cannot "see" the future, but we can, at least, make educated guesses as to how it might play out.

While being somewhat wrong might be no better than doing nothing, I really doubt this will be the case because doing "something" provides options that will be unavailable to those who expect nothing to change.


Yeah, Flak, I think Porter's going to get some attention here today. He reliably trotted out all the old junk, ready to replay the tired battles of the last decade..

Well, our local Solar Installer had this TESTIMONIAL in their email newsletter the other day, so I'll drop it in to see if it offers a pragmatic counterpoint to Stansberrie's Smirking Drivel..

According to Evan Sohm of Londonderry, NH - solar works GREAT with his electric car (a Chevy Volt). Here's Evan's experience in his own words:

"I drive from Londonderry, NH to Methuen, MA for work, Monday thru Friday. It's approximately a 37 mile round trip; the Volt will go approximately 40 miles on 10kWHr of charge. As a result, I've been driving the Volt to and from work without using any gas.

The PV Solar Panels on my roof produce 4kW of power in full sun. So if the sun shines on my roof for 2.5hours, that produces 10kWHr of energy which is enough to drive the car for 40 miles! On average our PV system produces 18.9kWhr/day. If you use all that energy to charge the Volt you could drive 75 miles per day with zero fuel expenses.

If we drove a regular car that gets 25mpg for 75 miles, that would require 3 gallons of gas. So for us, it's like our solar panels produce 3 gallons of gas per day, every day.

I couldn't be happier, because in all honesty, I hate giving my money to the oil companies. Not only do I get to save money and help the environment, but I get to drive a really cool car! Everybody who takes a ride in it says it's like a space ship. But the Chevy Volt is not rocket science. It's like any other regular car, only much more efficient. So far, I've driven 7,000 miles and the lifetime fuel economy is 107mpg. "

... Evan has made his solar data publicly accessible and you can view it online at: https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/7HPp61895.

We'll have more about solar and electric car driving soon with new videos in our Solar Road Tour series and an appearance by our fully decked our Chevy Volt at the Common Ground Fair this year. Also be sure to swing by our offices at 142 Presumpscot St, Portland to see our charging station whenever you're in the area.

I do wonder just how much coddling and attention these truly foolish articles should get. A response is appropriate, but I think one that mainly ignores their silliness and goes right to the working points on the other side of the issue might be the best way to sideline this everpresent hyperbole..

Let me get this straight, with the following...

According to Evan Sohm of Londonderry, NH - solar works GREAT with his electric car

He charges his car from solar power.

"I drive from Londonderry, NH to Methuen, MA for work, Monday thru Friday. It's approximately a 37 mile round trip; the Volt will go approximately 40 miles on 10kWHr of charge. As a result, I've been driving the Volt to and from work without using any gas.

He drives his solar powered car to work and back.

The PV Solar Panels on my roof produce 4kW of power in full sun. So if the sun shines on my roof for 2.5hours, that produces 10kWHr of energy which is enough to drive the car for 40 miles!

Conclusion... Evan must work at night as his car is not home during the day to be charged by his solar panels. He relies on the grid and fossil fuels.

I agree, stupid foolish article.

So what if he relies on the grid and fossil fuels (to be fair you don't know what fraction of his electricity comes from burning fossil fuels)? We all do.

The crux of the matter is that he is not burning imported, non-renewable oil for his personal transportation and offsetting his fossil fuel consumption by generating solar energy.

The crux is ALSO that he's providing more KWH than he's using for his commute, and he shows it. Not only does that go far in answering the challenges by those who doubt renewables or EV's on 'replacing fuel burned', but it also demonstrates quite nicely one of the BB's available for storing useful Grid Power.

It would certainly also be quite possible for commuters to work with employers to establish standards and deals to use power while parked at work (where businesses could ALSO have installed PV or Wind, etc..) .. Considering the amount of time most vehicles are just 'Sitting around'.. there are ample opportunities for them to be nibbling steadily at the oat bag.

More desperation to demonize the Volt and a solar garage...

1. Perhaps the garage is equipped with storage.
2. Even if there is no storage, we end up with sunlight in the morning and afternoon. It's reasonable to assume that a Volt driver would get to work early so they could return home with enough time to charge their vehicles during most times of the year.
3. The solar garage, if grid tied, reduces fossil fuel use all day long.

I think it's a great way to kick the oil companies off your back.

It's important to know how the grid power he consumes at night to recharge his car is generated to know how much of a net benefit we are getting from his actions. If that power is coming from coal it's not such a great thing.

Another issue is how well it scales. What happens if millions of people install solar panels and recharge their electric cars at night off the grid? While having large amounts of solar power during the day would be beneficial there certainly isn't enough surplus power at night to recharge millions of cars. The result would almost certainly be large amounts of fossil generated power been used to supply the new night time peak load. Scaling of costs is also a problem. Manufacturers are subsidizing the cost of manufacturing electric cars, many governments are subsidizing the purchase of electric cars in various ways and subsidies for PV power are also common. Certainly, there is the hope that these costs will come down over time but I am skeptical that they could be reduced enough to match the cost of owning and operating an ICE powered vehicle. Also keep in mind that ICE vehicles generate substantial tax revenue for governments through sales tax and fuel taxes. If significant numbers of electric vehicles appear on the road the lost tax revenue needs to be replaced somehow.

The bottom line is that I don't see the electric car as the salvation for everyone. As oil prices continue to rise, the segment of the population that can afford an automobile will diminish. The majority of people will be dependent on public transit.

"While having large amounts of solar power during the day would be beneficial there certainly isn't enough surplus power at night to recharge millions of cars."

Maybe not everywhere, but in many places with hydro-power the rivers run all night, and the utilities are scrambling to find places to dump load.

Great Plains wind (such as West & North Texas) peaks late at night pretty consistently.

*IF* consumers can be induced to recharge after, say 2:30 AM, it would be an ideal load.


It is also important to know how the grid power is generated that his PV system displaces in the daytime. One should also consider the type of energy used in the production, refining and distribution of the gasoline.

For example:
1. say his grid power is generated by coal;
2. PV system outputs on average 2 times the energy (x kWh) needed for the Chevy Volt battery;
3. crude oil production and refining and distribution of gasoline is eliminated.

1. decrease electricity from coal consumption by x kWh in the daytime;
2. increase electricity from coal consumption by .5x kWh at night;
3. eliminate fossil carbon emission from crude oil and gasoline.

Even if the PV panels output the same amount of energy used by the Chevy Volt battery, the coal consumption would remain unchanged and the savings from reducing the gasoline consumption would remain.

As for whether it scales, one only needs to increase U.S. electrical generation by about 10% to charge PHEV batteries which are smaller than pure EV batteries. Electrical demand at night is much less than 91% of the demand in the day. This approach most certainly scales provided there are enough fossil fuels remaining. Install wind turbines and run hydroelectric, geothermal and tidal generators to provide enough power at night to satisfy demand. Apply some demand side management to reduce power consumption at night, for example, more efficient lighting (LED's) and use refrigerator/freezers and air conditioners that only run in the daytime. Read HereinHalifax's posts to learn what can be saved by upgrading lighting.

The fossil fuel industry receives more subsidies than the renewable energy and electric automobile industries. The wars in the Middle East funded on credit and the cost to adapt to climate change make fossil fueled vehicles much more expensive than you seem to consider.

I think scaling is more complicated than you suggest, although given a timescale of decades for the transition this need not be a show stopper. The need to accommodate variable generation increases with penetration, and indeed if a neighborhood/city/region had enough solar to generate the annual KWhours, peak generation would be roughly five times average demand, so there would be a need to substantially reinforce grid distribution -and presumably some sort of storage needed. And still the issues of seasonal variability, and periods of a week or two where generation is on the low side due to a string of bad weather. I think these are all doable, but they require some changes in the way we think about using energy that the populace isn't ready for.

Wow! What an expert debunking! We have a new king of the hill! (and who noticed that he's butt-naked, too!)

According to the Enphase site that reports on his production so far, his system has produced 3.4 megawatt/hours of electricity with these microinverter/ GRID-TIED panels.

Is that cheating, do you think, or quite clever, that his output can go into the grid when it's there, and he can charge his car OFF the grid when he needs to (and during the part of the day when demand is much lower anyhow?

Or did you have a point there that I missed?

Let's say I have Apple trees and I collect the apples from them and sell them at the market.

Then I buy an HDTV at Best Buy with the money I got from the Apples.

I proudly proclaim that I bought my HDTV with apples from my tree . . . am I lying? I didn't give any apples to Best Buy.

So what if he is charging at night when there is a massive excessive of grid power available? He is helping make the grid more efficient by providing clean renewable power to the grid during the day and withdrawing excess power plant power at night. It is a GOOD thing to do that. The utility can pay down their CAPEX costs faster since they have more night-time power users.

What's the alternative? Should he install a massive battery array to store solar power at his house and then transfer that solar power in the batteries into the car batteries during the night? Now THAT would be stupid.

You do however, rely on a functioning additional system than can turn your apples into something that the store wants.

Same for the EV - it will not be sufficient to have solar panels and an EV.

Yes . . . if you are a hardcore survivalist nut then this doesn't work. Nor does ANY car which requires thousands of parts manufacturers with long supply chains, a massive fuel infrastructure with a long supply chain from well, to transport, to refinery (multi-billions for those), to transport, to gas station (which also requires a grid to pump that gas). Etc.

No one is saying an EV is a lone-wolf survivalist technology.

You are refuting arguments I did not make. The issue is in the overall complexity that a transportation system requires, and if that level of complexity can be supported in a time of decline. The existing automotive transportation system requires a lot of additional systems in order to function. However, these systems exist, they need to be maintained but they do not need to be created.

Since it does not rely on storage, this scheme requires that there be users of the power available when it is being generated, and that other sources be available when recharge is needed. If a reasonable portion of the automobile fleet were replaced with EVs running a scheme such as this, then would this scale?

Electric rail does not have these issues, and is of lower overall system complexity.

I'm pointing out that your argument is of a doomer nature which you are certainly free to espouse. But meanwhile, most people will continue driving cars.

"If a reasonable portion of the automobile fleet were replaced with EVs running a scheme such as this, then would this scale?"


Your link did not work for me.

I consider trying to perpetuate the automobile one of the most "doomer" things possible. I try to be a little optimistic and allow myself a tiny hope that people will change, but I know it is vastly unlikely. Even people like yourself who understand the issues cannot shake the auto addiction.

He does say at the end of the article - to stop by the office and look at the charging station, so I would think that he charges during the day, at work.

Fills grid at home while drawing charge at work? Using the grid as his 'long lead'?


Or have two sets of batteries, one charging at home, the other powering the car ..

Doesn't sound like he is doing that.


Evan Sohm drives between Londonderry, NH and Methuen, MA. The charging station is in Portland (presumably Oregon) and is operated by the writer of the news letter.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire locations..

Ever heard of Portland, Maine? This is by a Solar Installing business here, Revision Energy, and Sohm is one of their customers.

I have not heard of it until now. The issue of whether Even is parking his car at the charging station during the day remains unanswered. Sell PV power cheaply to the grid at the house and charge the car battery expensively in another state seems like an economic loss.

If you read the article carefully, you will notice that it actually carefully uses words and does not say what you are incorrectly inferring. Solar 'works GREAT with his electric car' does not mean it is directly charged with it. He drives w/o using gas . . . true. It says "if" you use this to power the car. He says he doesn't like oil companies (no complaint about electric power utilities).

Yes . . . he certainly does rely on the grid and (non oil) fossil fuels. But he is reducing overall emissions, significantly reducing OIL usage, and helping make the electricity grid cleaner.

Yes SOLAR works great with a car like the Chevy Volt!
It does work because, in my case, I am netting the power produced by the 4 kW PV I have on the roof, thus I am virtually putting the kWh in the Volt, even it is occurring at night.
The bottom line for the Chevy (No 161 of the line, owned since Dec 2010) is 140 MPG lifetime. It works as designed: the nation commuting distance averages 30 miles per day. The battery capacity of the Volt offers that range. I have driven this car for trips as far as 350 miles and averaged 40 MPG on the (oversize) on-board generator.
I am still connected to the grid through a Time-of-Day meter that gives me preferential night and WE rates. The overall $ gas & kWh savings average $150/month.
The detractors will find every possible argument to sink the concept, but I do not believe the car manufacturers will stop there, because of the new CAFE rules. EV will still be a car too expensive for most and charging stations are scarce, but it will slowly regain the place it had back in the 1890's.

And as balances shift, it might be that full size Auto EV's will be more common as Taxis or Work and Delivery Vehicles, while more commuters who haven't opted for Mass Transit or Walkable/Bikable Jobs will find Scooters and other lightweight EV options that can be powered by even far less PV.

I live in a highly auto-dependant city in an electron rich nation (Auckland, NZ-lots of hydro + wind + geo) and while lobbying for more rational transport policies and investment to reorient the transport system towards electricity I had a bit of an epiphany about EVs when leaving the airport yesterday.

There were lots of taxis queued up waiting for customers. Quite a few Prius' in the mix but no charging infrastructure. Here surely is a market for early uptake of plug-ins? Taxi ranks with recharge technology, very big mileage business bit not intercity journeys (mostly) where fuel is a big overhead. Plenty of waiting around at specific points that could easily have appropriate kit installed. Opportunity for the taxi companies and/or the state to supply the necessary capex for both machines and charging points, can be a staged roll out as existing fleet ages.

Generally I'm bearish on EVs coming to the rescue but this business does seem ripe for it...While we wait for idiot BAU government to allow us to extend the metro system (currently being electrified)

I chew over the taxi question, too. Good points you raise..

Yeah, I'm not trying to say they'll 'Save the day'... just that as we face a shrinking range of options, an EV looks like a particularly good tool to have in the stable, since the essential parts are or can be quite simple and durable, and there are SO many ways we can generate electricity.

Apart from taxis, I think we could find a number of other vehicles used for civic or business use that would fit the profile well. One that comes to mind is Electric Utility Trucks (probably as hybrids), since they could hook in wherever they are working, apart from restoring power in outages, tho' even then, they wouldn't be under dead lines all the time..

Talk about raising a storm...

Let's look closer. This is a piece of advertising for BAU as much as Faux news trotting out a Saudi oil minister stating unlimited reserves.

It is misleading, by implying that Evan powers his car from solar when he doesn't (because he drove it to work).

If Evan really wanted to help the environment, simply put the power back into the grid and ride a pushbike.

For those who threw out the barbs, at my being anti-green/alternative or whatever, consider the following...

I installed a solar panel and battery backup 25 years ago as our only source of light at the time. I currently have 5Kw of PV on the roof, grid fed. I heat our house with wood I cut from trees we grow on the property. I use biodiesel that I make myself from used cooking oil to run both the car and tractor. I also grow olive trees for oil.(young and only producing small amounts at present plus too valuable to use in a vehicle while used cooking oil is free)plus other food crops. I also collect and use our own water supply from within the property (tanks for domestic, dams for irrigation).

I understand from practical use, that none of what I stated above is possible without Fossil Fuels.

Again for those who like to throw the barbs, because to them Evan looks good compared to what you do, I will back my Enviro creds against Evan's every day of the week and call BS.

There is so much discussion throughout drumbeats and separate articles that is just smoke and mirrors hiding the real picture. Peak oil and resources should have us concentrating on the real issue, that being food, not on EV's and how people are going to get to work in the cities.
If there is not liquid fuels available for farms, then whatever Evan's doing becomes pretty irrelevant.

Sorry, but your own green-cred doesn't make your statements any more correct. It's not in fact your creds AGAINST his, but in addition to them.

It's great to hear what you've been able to accomplish, but the only reason these hundreds or thousands of people DO know about what you just shared is through these computers and this internet, so pretending that your example is really any less a part of this tangle of interrelated and ultimately still oily connections we all share is an unproductive conceit.

We're all mired in the mud, here, and he's scraped a little bit off by putting equipment on the roof and in his driveway that give him some resilience and stand to keep a few things working if we do start to see clearer signs of a coming transition in the next several years. It's not ALL just about his ability to Commute (now a good bit more economically) , even though he has in aggregate anyhow managed to stop putting new pollution into the air for every mile he moves.

Maybe the roads will start to fall apart, maybe his company will fold. His family and his community has a vehicle that can still roll if the Gas Stations all close up. He might start car-pooling with a few neighbors and recoup some more of that investment as a defacto cabbie.

Nobody here is really forgetting the messy web of stuff that is snared around our throats. But you sound like one of those immigrants who fights so hard to stop the NEXT wave of them. Too bad.

Talk about raising a storm...

Maybe it was the use of the phrase "stupid foolish" to describe an article detailing one man's efforts which seemed fairly reasonable to most folks.

South East Asian oil peak in the rear view mirror

The so-called Asian century will last as long Asia can increase oil imports.

Previous post for those who missed it. BHP shelves uranium and copper mine expansion due to i.a. high diesel prices. Huge amounts of overburden would have to be removed for 5 years to get at the ore body.

BHP Billiton's Australian oil reserves in long term decline

This is important to keep in mind when one reads about the tensions in the South China Sea.
Vietnam and Thailand both very recently became net imports of oil since they had been net exporters for quite a while.

Malaysia has also very recently joined the ranks of the net oil imports, after being a net oil exporter.

That oil in South China Sea is wanted by many nations, not just Japan or China.

Svamp - what is your source for claiming Thailand as ever being an oil exporter?

According to the Energy Export Databrowser, Thailand has been a net importer, and a significant one at that, for decades.

Yes, you're right. Thailand was a mixup.
It was Vietnam and Malaysia.

Here they are:

My general point still stands about the South China Sea.

Climate change expert calls for nuclear power 'binge' to avert global warming

Wadhams proposes the use of thorium-fuelled reactors, being tested in India, which are said to be safer because they do not result in a proliferation of weapons-grade plutonium, experts say. Also, under certain circumstances, the waste from thorium reactors is less dangerous and remains radioactive for hundreds rather than thousands of years.

The U.S. had one running at Oakridge but Nixon fired the head scientist and shut it down because it did not produce weapons material.

Climate change expert calls for nuclear power 'binge' to avert global warming

The thinking that we can get out of the problems that are the result of technology and engineering with more technology and engineering is apparently tempting even for people who should know it doesn't work... This professor sees the damage and is getting desperate, but his claims that he is "very suspicious of using technology to solve problems created by technology" are belied by his proposals. Is it really wise to go from playing around with one danger to playing with another? We already know that nuclear has a potential for catastrophic failure and long term environmental damage, so isn't going from a fossil fuel to a nuclear economy just asking for new forms of failure? We would be stupid to go from one polluting form of energy to another. He proposes we build what doesn't exist, viable thorium reactors that don't create any long lived waste - as far as I can tell, thorium is more of a fuel additive to uranium than anything, and attempts to make more advanced thorium reactors haven't panned out. I think geoengineering can also be put into the category of "things that only exist in people's imaginations right now". It's easy to propose we go to using magical new tech with no downsides because it doesn't exist. It sure would be nice to binge on such perfect technology, nuclear power that doesn't create long lived waste or have the potential for disastrous failure, and geoengineering that works without creating any unintended consequences.

It sounds to me like the professor is a typical hard science/engineering type, but is having trouble aligning his love for and trust in technology with the damage he sees it doing. His remarks on arctic drilling are telling - "philisophically" it makes little sense and probably should be banned, but hey, Shell's doing a great job with their precautions! It's doublethink.

I think this is perhaps the biggest thing getting in the way of change. Rather than adapting, we do anything and everything to continue the same patterns.

Did you miss the fact that he does not advocate nuclear power plants of the current technology? Thorium with liquid salt is not current technology.

edit: By that I mean current technology does not use thorium and liquid salt reactors.

A large scale expansion of nuclear is not feasible due to the limited supply of experienced engineers and managers for these type of projects. Trying to deploy an immature technology at the same time as greatly expanding the rate of construction is a recipe for disaster.

The Three Mile Island accident was much more severe than it should have been because management, with a background in operating coal fired thermal generating plants, did not understand the much greater safety requirements of operating nuclear power plants. The plant operators were instructed to not shutdown the reactors unless absolutely required because this would result in a lengthy outage that would cost the company a lot of money. The Arab oil embargoes of the 70's generated a huge expansion in the construction of nuclear reactors. Many of the other less serious accidents during the same time period were the result of managers who lacked the training and experience to be responsible for the operation of a nuclear facility.

In the western world, with the exception of France, there has been very little construction of new nuclear facilities in the last couple of decades. There is a very real possibility that electrical utilities are going to suddenly decide that nuclear is more cost effective than coal or gas resulting in a large number of new reactor orders in a short period of time. We are not prepared to deal with this situation and are likely to run into the same problems we did back in the 70's. If nuclear is to play a greater role in the future it needs to be ramped up slowly so as to ensure there is an adequate supply of engineering/managerial expertise.

"The Arab oil embargoes of the 70's generated a huge expansion in the construction of nuclear reactors."

Absolutely not true. I was working in the nuclear industry at that time and exactly the opposite occurred. The 1973 oil embargo caused a huge re-think of energy use and halted the 90 year trend of 5-10% per year utility growth that the industry was counting on. By 1975 virtuallly every not-yet-started nuclear plant in the US was cancelled.

So, you don't want technology and engineering, and don't want polluting power sources? Ok. How many wants to follow you into the pre-fire stone age? And why are you using a computer and the internet to tell us this?

You'll notice, if you care to, that he doesn't really say 'Get rid of all engineering and let's go back to the Stone Age..'

He points clearly to "..aligning his love for and trust in technology with the damage he sees it doing."

It sounds pretty clearly like a realignment, not an exorcism of technology. Your interpretation needs to be a lot more generous than it has been.. extreme suppositions are just more argument fodder, no?

An extreme form of alignment is exorcism, and several of his other sentences point to that's what he would like to see. But I'm happy to be wrong here - AdamX can just outline his dream society (that doesn't rely on magic tech or polluting power sources) and I'll yield.

I tend to side somewhat with the transition guys in that I think we must go for a much lower energy society. My key questions are "what technology should we keep?" and "how can we live with the living bioshpere rather than just on it?" Basically I think we need to give nature a lot of room to recover, and we need to make our living areas more harmonious with nature. Some of this is as simple as making cities that have a lot of trees and lots and lots of bicycle routes and lanes. Some of this is harder - maybe we need to go back to having one heated room, and eating meat once a week instead of every day. Is that the end of the world? Yet just those things would do a tremendous amount.

As for some of the technologies I would like to keep: refridgeration, birth control, antibiotics and surgery, indoor plumbing, ideally clothes washers (but not driers). So, is it possible to keep those without destroying the living earth that we depend on? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe not with 9 billion people. Maybe with fewer. In any case, I want to see living oceans and living forests. That doesn't mean bulldozing the cities, city dwellers often have much lower impact on the environment and there are lots of ways to make that much, much lower.

I think we should be trying to recreate the conditions of abundance in the oceans and return to good farming practices on land. In a lot of places the oceans can bounce back quickly. I went snorkeling yesterday off Waikiki (Queen's beach) where there is a MLCD (Marine Life Conservation District), and the place was packed with fish. It's been protected since 1988, but lots of damage has been done before that. Yet now there is a tremendous amount of life there. We could sink all the bottom trawlers tomorrow and most people would never know, yet that's what's killing the seas in many places! On land, we need to do simple stuff like crop rotation and get away from monoculture.

Basically, we should live within our means - and by that I mean what we can get with solar and wind. Rather than trying to ramp up solar and wind to run wasteful HVAC systems we move ourselves down to where solar, wind, hydro, and other renewables can power our needs (of course while ramping up solar, wind, etc). And we don't need a lot of what we're doing today. The hardest part is how to unbuild the current built environment with stuff like this all over the place.

A lot of people seem to think we can't have medicine or refridgeration or plumbing without non-renewable power and 6 lane highways. I find that hard to believe. At the same time, I honestly don't expect us to do what we should do, I expect us to screw things up very badly and suffer tremendously because of it. But what I would like to see is people realizing that living with less tech means we get more nature. Less streetlights, more stars. Not stone age, just not so much. Perhaps even less wouldn't be enough - in that case, we're going back to the stone age anyway. Not even nuclear can keep us doing what we're doing now for very long. It's just a delay tactic.

Adamax I agree, I see a lot to gain by slowing down and powering down. I can see a combination of low tech new tech being a whole lot better than the 20th century ideal. Nothing to loose but our chains etc....

The elephant in the room however is climate change. Yes the seas can bounce back if we stop over fishing but not if they've acidified.... Gotta get off them dirty old fossil fuels, but the over complexity and waste problem of nuclear is no answer either....?

The complexity of nuclear power is commonly overstated. The tech itself precedes computers, and is about generating steam by metals that heat themselves. It's perhaps no coincidence it took wind and PV an additional 30-40 years of technological progress to start gaining traction.

Of course it's not a coincidence.

Solar and Wind are behind because we have had cheap oil and noone was inconvenienced enough to do the work of improving that technology. Short Term thinking ruled the day. Nuclear is another example of the refusal to look down the road and appreciate the consequence of our actions.

Do you really think wind and PV would have come close to current standards in the 70-ies, had oil and coal peaked then? I don't think research and its applications can be fast-forwarded or postponed 40 years just like that. Modern material science, production processes, computer simulations and so on all contribute to wind and PV's current costs. While nuclear was very cheap already back then and was supposed to become "too cheap to meter" once mass production set in. Instead we got a flurry of regulation that stopped mass production and made nuclear quite expensive.

Nuclear power got $100's of billion in Gov't subsidies to get started (perhaps close to $1 trillion in current $).

Wind got some support from Denmark & California, but six or eight orders of magnitude less support.

NASA did some early R&D on solar PV, but just a few tens of millions. And then the German FIT (which upsets the nuke fanatics so much because it made a competitor cost effective with new nukes).

GIANT Gov't support is why nukes got the head start. And have since stalled.


"I don't think research and its applications can be fast-forwarded or postponed 40 years just like that. "

Well, it sure seems that it can be postponed, considering how many GE Mark One's are still on line, eh?

Who knows what advances would have come about differently.. the point is that Renewables didn't get the serious attention, just like a bowl of $1 Apples can be assured of a quiet day when they are sitting on a Free Candy and Cake Table.

All we need even today to get off to a rip-roaring start on our energy issues is a bunch of Solar Hot Water on everyone's applicable rooftops, and a serious push to insulate those buildings as well. If that had been our 'Shining City on the Hill back in '65 instead of 'Mr. Atom', those very basic technologies would have grown and changed considerably, whether or not it would be advancements you would deem to be technologically advanced.

I think theres a lot of truth in what you say. Push a technology that doesn't have the supporting infrastructure (industrial as well as scientific), and you end up spinning yor wheels (like of like fusion). We could have dome better with both of these technologies if we had been more earnest earlier on, but we couldn't have moved ahead by forty years. Especially PV has ridden to some extent upon processing infrastructure developed for electronics.

I suspect if we had waited for Nuclear, we would have done a much better job of it. Once we threw the big dollars at a poor technical choice (boiling water reactors), we had too much in spent costs to go for a major redesign -so in this case you might say that agressively pushing the tech before its natural time might have doomed it.

Absolutely agree on fusion. Fusion research funding was allocated decades too early. Regarding fission, I think nuclear licensing and regulation killed innovation. Perhaps, as you say, nuclear deployment started a bit too early too, but I'm not so sure. First generations of any tech is pretty lousy in hindsight.

"Regarding fission, I think nuclear licensing and regulation killed innovation."

You couldn't possibly have been in that industry in the sixties and seventies and think that. The amount of creative energy and money to support it was phenomenal. Licensing and "regulation" were simply off-loaded to a bunch of drones who did that kind of thing. We were paid hansomely for patents and given the time and money to pursue innovative ideas in every area of reactor and plant design.

Blaming licensing and regulation is right out of the neo-con book of lies ("We don't let fact-checkers" dictate our campaign"). Germany is one of the most regulated countries in the world and today probably has the healthiest and most innovative economy.

Eh, 60-ies and 70-ies? Yes, innovation was alive then. It was killed late 70-ies/early 80-ies.

Is Germany innovate? Not really, to me. Disciplined, though.

Premature government regulation is Freeman Dyson's explanation of why nuclear power didn't evolve like e.g. air travel, and he ain't no neo-con.

You might have done the research, but how many innovative nuclear plants were ever built and operated? The licensing authorities would never have permitted them. No one wants to be the guy that okay'd the Thalidomide of nuclear reactors. And without practical experience, realistic development is very difficult.

We are basically building 1950-era nukes with 2000-era control systems. An improvement, but not on the scale of the airline industry.

Maybe computer modeling is sufficiently advanced for us to design next-generation nukes virtually, but there's no substitute for reality.

Which is why I think the Chinese will be the premier designers and builders of nukes in the decades ahead. They are getting experience with a wide variety of designs ATM. Look for the next generation of reactors to come off their drawing boards soon.

Freeman Dyson was also a Technotopian who wanted to power interstellar spacecraft (see: Orion) with a steady stream of Nuclear Explosives tossed out the back of them..

The General Atomic reactors (Ft. St. Vrain and another one) were quite innovative. Just uneconomic.

There were the British Magnox reactors, the Canadian CANDU reactors, several failed attempts at fast breeding reactors, the Russian (in Siberia, good place for an experimental reactor) and US Navy sodium cooled reactors and likely more that I overlooked.

I do not see a lack of innovation in the 1960s and 1970s. That was not what killed new nuclear power plants.


I did spent five years in fusion. I think the biggest issue, was the serious underestimation of how hard nature has made that problem. In the fifties, scientists recruited for the program thought they'd have it cracked within five years. The estimated time to completion just grows longer and longer. The old statement about fusion power being twentyfive years way (and always will be), has been proven wrong, fusion power keeps getting further away. So it wasn't that fusion research was started too early, it was that it is inherently really difficult -perhaps it will never be a practical power source no matter how much we spend on it.

The N power stuff, started with designs that met naval needs for submarines, rather than starting with the question, what would be the best design for land based central power stations. Then there has the greed for special N materials for the weapons program. So much of the early investment went towards designs that met other requirements.

The complexity of nuclear power is not limited to the tech itself but the amount of money, manpower, resources and bureaucratic red tape that's required to build, commission, run and decommission a power plant. When engineers discuss tech they often limit themselves to just the bookish aspects. It's a very common problem among engineers.

Steve Wozniak designed and built the Apple I all by himself, he couldn't have done so with a nuclear power plant even if the tech was 40 years old when he achieved that feat.

The amount of red tape we have is not a necessity, and it really inflates the other factors. Anyone worried about resource depletion and/or AGW should demand more streamlined, smarter nuclear red tape. Perhaps NRC should be merged with any regulatory authorities responsible for coal and be required to minimize the overall average damage, not suboptimize by minimizing nuclear risks?

The nuclear equivalent of Woz might be the radioactive boy scout. However, it was more difficult for him because materials were restricted, of course, and he hadn't the simple building blocks Woz could get.

Thanks for the video link, I didn't know that you could get radioactive material from smoke detectors.

The amount of red tape we have is not a necessity

Yes it is. I am surprised you made that statement, I think the answer to is in the video that you shared. There is a reason nuclear materials are heavily controlled, if David had access to the "simple building blocks" like Woz, he would have irradiated his neighborhood and exposed himself to lethal doses of radiation like his idol Marie Curie. The very reason people can tout the 'safety' record of Nuclear is because it's so heavily controlled. You have to realize that the absolute threat level posed by Nuclear materials by themselves (compared to say a machine gun or a bomb) is not much, they are like biological weapons, they induce panic which does the real damage. I think you are under estimating the psychological impact of such things. And the term smarter red tape is an oxymoron.

Also I don't think you are being fair to Woz. Apple I was the precursor to Apple II which was a a blockbuster product, not a backyard boy scout project which probably produced a few atoms of plutonium.

I don't agree. I think the safety record would have been much the same without the amount of red tape. Operators are not that keen on destroying their multi-billion-dollar investments and then going bankrupt after lawsuits.

Also, even if the nuclear safety record would have been worse (say two more TMI and one Fukushima) with less regulation, it would be a net win since coal-related cancers and environmental destruction have been much worse than that.

I think you are under estimating the psychological impact of such things.

I am fully and sadly aware that the aversion is psychological, not rational. I also realize that the big problem of nuclear power is that its damage is concentrated in time, not that the cumulative effects are particularly bad.

And the term smarter red tape is an oxymoron.

You know I'm fiercely pro-market, but I still can't agree about that. :-)

Without regulations the corporations would have employees signing contracts that absolve them of any liability, they would be venting radioactive steam into the atmosphere (because it is cheaper than using a heat exchanger), there would be no security at NPP's, there would be no redundant systems, they would dump radioactive waste into drinking water, and on and on. Look at what the Russians did. Corporate executives are not responsible. They are risk takers on a never ending quest to increase profit for the next quarterly meeting.

Obviously, our viewpoints regarding how companies operate are very different. For instance, redundancy would absolutely be there, since corporate entities like to protect their property. Russians were communists, remember?

Also, it seems you have a very shallow idea of just how intrusive nuclear regulation is. No one is saying significant pollution should be allowed (or un-internalized). That's not the problematic regulations at all.

Please enlighten me about what you think is intrusive government regulation over the nuclear power industry.

In the meantime I will list some of the mistakes made at Fukushima.

1. Management refused to construct the sea wall tall enough.

2. Management and government allowed an NPP to be constructed in an earthquake and tsunami zone.

3. General Electric engineers designed a reactor with a spent fuel pool beside the reactor core.

4. Management overloaded the spent fuel pools because they don't know what else to cheaply do with their toxic waste.

5. Engineers located the backup generators in a low spot subject to flooding.

6. Engineers and management did not use submersible generators.

7. Engineers designed a reactor that would explode from hydrogen gas during a core meltdown complicating the situation.

8. Management (bean counters), engineers or government allowed reactors to be located too close together such that a catastrophic failure at one would damage the others and flood the area with radiation.

And you want these idiots to be deregulated. I say, "No way. Shut them down."

Operators are not that keen on destroying their multi-billion-dollar investments and then going bankrupt after lawsuits.

Point 1: The guy operating the plant isn't the same guy that made the multi-billion dollar investment.

Point 2: The career of the guy operating the plant depends on the profit he can generate. As long as the risks he takes don't result in accidents, they don't matter.

Point 3: If operators can choose between a 1-in-10000 chance of major disaster (per year) and 100 million profit, or a 1-in-100000 chance of major disaster and 90 million profit, I firmly believe the operator will choose the first. Better for your career and the disaster won't happen anyway.

This is of course simplified, but I think it's an accurate description of the mechanics of what's going on. With about 400 nuclear plants in operation worldwide, that results in 1 major disaster every 25 years, instead of every 250 years.

The guy operating the plant isn't the same guy that made the multi-billion dollar investment.

I would guess the operators are working for the owners of the capital involved.

If operators can choose between a 1-in-10000 chance of major disaster (per year) and 100 million profit, or a 1-in-100000 chance of major disaster and 90 million profit, I firmly believe the operator will choose the first.

Let's see, 10 million divided by (9/100000) = 111 billion. Depending on what is a "major disaster", that may very well be a rational choice for operator and public alike.

However, my view is that major accident frequency for gen 3+ plants is far below that. If we change to 1-in-100000 versus 1-in-1000000, the calculus improves by a factor of ten, for instance.

Example: See the guys in charge of drilling the BP Deepwater Macando well. *MANY* short-cuts to save time and $.

They had done it before, and gotten away with it - and no doubt cashed their bonus checks.

Till they did'nt.


Everybody tries to increase efficiency, and that's mostly a good thing. Sometimes it has bad consequences, and then you get burnt and learn. But regulators come in anyway to demand and monitor that the industry doesn't do what it just learned not to do. And the next disaster will be something else not anticipated by regulators. So the only thing regulators really create is higher costs.

NASA did not learn from the destruction of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. People change jobs, new ones replace old ones, training is streamlined under tight budgets, and they grow complacent after a while of no accidents. Lather, rinse and repeat....

NASA did not learn from the destruction of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia.

Of course they did. It's silly to claim otherwise.

People change jobs, new ones replace old ones, training is streamlined under tight budgets, and they grow complacent after a while of no accidents.

Yes, and perhaps this is mostly good? And regulation tends to just add costs and smash in open doors.

I find your concept of acceptable nuclear safety both completely unacceptable andbordering on irrational.

A known safety problem that should be (but is not, due to lax regulations and an industry indifferent to safety) - More waste fuel off-site to another secure location as soon as it is cool enough to move.

Problems at the reactor should involve an absolute minimum of waste fuel.

And the waste fuel should have it's own containment structure.


The experts were amazed about the cleverness of that Apple 1. It accomplished the goal with far fewer parts than the big boys thought possible (like Xerox Palo-Alto) who were trying to invent similar stuff).
I agree about regulation. A necessary if unpleasant necessity.

Written by jeppen:
The amount of red tape we have is not a necessity....

Maybe the red tape is a consequence of the Price-Anderson Act moving liability from the nuclear power companies to the victims and tax payers. Shift that liability back to the companies along with severe criminal penalties in the event of accidents and watch the industry fail.

Put nuclear on the same footing as other industries and watch it thrive.

Do you mean like the coal industry that is allowed to dump their pollution into the atmosphere and externalize their costs onto others? Oh, they are already allowed to do it.

Eh, no they aren't.

They are allowed to emit fossil carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Adamx. Thanks for putting out the thoughts that I am too lazy to do. I have often thought of, and haven't done, a short essay on what of tech we should keep and improve, and what of it we should toss out, with the target of a simpler, less busy, happier life for all.

Present BAU all boils down to a criminal misallocation of available resources, resulting in a lot of totally unnecessary misery and a tragic reduction of the whole planet's biosphere.

My own personal approach is the old idea- "be what you would wish the world to be", and it seems to be working, sort of. People keep asking how I get along on such a very small fraction of electricity, gasoline, etc of what they use, and yet seem to be just as comfortable as they are. The answer is no miracle, of course-and it's not that I am all that virtuous, but that they are so goddam wasteful--and ignorant.

Now, having made my nanocontribution to the salvation of the world, I go back to the endless fun of trying to understand wood gasifiers.

What you write seems reasonable on the surface, but digging into details, I'm not sure. Some thoughts:

My key questions are "what technology should we keep?"

And my counter-question is: Should anyone single out technologies to keep or to use like that? Why not just suppress environmental damage to a level that's good enough by putting taxes on damage (not on good stuff like energy, but on damage!), and then let consumers ("the market") decide which tech they want to prioritize within their means?

Some of this is as simple as making cities that have a lot of trees and lots and lots of bicycle routes and lanes.

I like trees in cities, but I don't think it matters to mother nature. Do you? Planning cities differently with regards to infrastructure is certainly something we can do collectively, I agree.

I think we should be trying to recreate the conditions of abundance in the oceans and return to good farming practices on land.

Sure, no argument there, at least not in the abstract.

Basically, we should live within our means - and by that I mean what we can get with solar and wind.

And then I have to ask why nuclear is not within our means. Nuclear energy's environmental footprint is on par with wind and far lower than solar PV. Even fossils should be admissable - the amount that we can use if we pay for its external costs, ie environmental damage. I would prefer nuclear to wind for the same reason (I guess) you prefer trees in the city - visual appeal. Not that nuke plants look good, but wind plants everywhere is a disturbance. Also, energy use is more environmentally friendly if you don't have to cycle it in concert with wind.

And we don't need a lot of what we're doing today.

"Need" is completely subjective. Again, we should live as comfortable and luxurious lives as possible, within a reasonable balance with nature. For instance, I don't see a problem at all with air conditioning as such. It is good, it saves lives and provides comfort and enables us to use time better, sleep better and so on. There might be a problem with power production for it, but then attack that problem and not the good stuff!

Can't be sharing your rosy old view of nuclear. Decommissioning? Failsafe? Really? Whole of life costs of nuclear are almost unimaginable. Nuclear only stacks up by beggaring the future. So that, along with insurance just isn't counted up. The very definition of over complexity. And the idea that it is simpler technology than wind and solar; can't be having that either. Or this idea that it 'precedes' those technologies. Clearly untrue, I guess you mean uptake in western technosphere then yes, but that was a policy decision by the military industrial complex not a result of technological simplicity.

The 'need' question question; fair enough. Living in Phoenix may well 'need' aircon, but then do humans really 'need' to live in the middle of an arid desert?

Decommissioning? Failsafe? Really?

Decommissioning is easy if you want it to be (ie abstain from unneccessary regulation). Failsafe it cannot and should not be. Nuclear is no special compared to other sources of energy in that it sometimes give rise to accidents. Its accidents are almost as bad as hydro's and similar in magnitude, but the per-TWh impact is very small.

Whole of life costs of nuclear are almost unimaginable.

Not at all. Nuclear costs are completely dominated by its up-front capital costs. The idea that back-end costs are large are completely unwarranted (although in the end, regulation can make costs arbitrarily high in all parts of the fuel cycle).

Nuclear only stacks up by beggaring the future.

On the contrary. A brand-new 60-year-life-time nuclear power station is one of the most valuable gifts you can give the next three generations - almost free, non-polluting power. That's also why old-age interest groups have been known to oppose nuclear power - they realize they will do the investment but they won't have time to reap much benefit themselves.

And the idea that it is simpler technology than wind and solar; can't be having that either. Or this idea that it 'precedes' those technologies. Clearly untrue, I guess you mean uptake in western technosphere then yes, but that was a policy decision by the military industrial complex not a result of technological simplicity.

This seems like a conspiracy theory. Wind power and solar PV wasn't close to being economically viable until recently. Not in the west and not anywhere. Solar PV still isn't. (I'm thinking of economical viability order, not first discovery.)

More nonsense. No nuclear cannot fail, the costs are potentially infinite, moving to Fukushima to grow some veges now?

Sure decomissioning costs can be waved away by just not bothering to do it properly.

And when I say future I clearly mean beyond the working life of the plant.

And as for conspiracy, well you can call it that for a sly dig, but it was/is just policy. The promotion of nuclear in the US and elsewhere is intimately linked to military and state objectives and this is well documented. Sure there was/is also the raging technophilia and 'biggism'' that characterises the postwar era and continues today in the minds of many who can't grasp the costs of this concentrating of resources.

In the UK, Thatcher loved nuclear in part because of the state control and secrecy that goes hand in hand with it, as well as the fantasy that it gave a country still sliding down from Empire to minor status to kid itself that it is still at the top table with the real playas.
Same for Polaris. Tragic.

Conclusion: the sunk costs in existing nooclear plants make the math great and means we should squeeze everything out of them. That and the fact that the costs we're handing on to the planet and our kids have already been blown like a subprime estate on the deserty fringes of a sunbelt boomburb. Yeee-Ha! says Dr Strangelove.

But building more?, especially in developing countries. I shudder.

Sorry, Patrick, but feeding the trolls won't get any useful responses. I'm avoiding certain threads these days as some posters are more concerned with dominating the discussions rather than moving them forward. That some are more concerned with being 'right', and that anyone who disagrees is 'wrong' reminds me of my first marriage. What is OK is anything that doesn't affect them directly. Hopefully we can get past this and return to the level of discourse that TOD is known for.

Yes you are clearly bang on there. Especially, it seems when it comes to the ol' too cheap to meter Nooclar pwer.

Just too sexy for some to resist, eh?

Much as I generally disagree with him, Jeppen is hardly a troll. He is a long time member and poster here, and he generally thinks his posts through, and has enough to support them. As I said I generally disagree with him, and in the end think that our disagreements are truly "philosophical". But calling him a troll is hardly conducive to politeness.

No nuclear cannot fail, the costs are potentially infinite, moving to Fukushima to grow some veges now?

Why should nuclear not be allowed to fail once in a while? A million die in traffic each year, world-wide. Who is requiring no accidents in traffic? And how could the costs be infinite?

Sure decomissioning costs can be waved away by just not bothering to do it properly.

You don't recognize it can be (is being) overdone, safety-wise and regulation-wise? Would you like examples to the contrary?

And when I say future I clearly mean beyond the working life of the plant.

Then you're into the false meme that waste handling is difficult?

But building more?, especially in developing countries. I shudder.

I shudder at alternatives. What should the Indians and Chinese do, pray tell? Wind, solar and pumped hydro, perhaps? Is it reasonable to ask from them what even the rich Germans fail to do?

Written by jeppen:
On the contrary. A brand-new 60-year-life-time nuclear power station is one of the most valuable gifts you can give the next three generations....

I would return the gift given to the residents of Pripyat, Ukraine and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Millions would return cars, coal, oil, modern medicine, fertilizer (remember Bhopal), flight, hydro and so on. The negative impacts of these things have been orders of magnitudes worse than nuclear power. I would like you to try to avoid being that shallow in your argumentation. It doesn't further the discussion to refuse to put things in perspective.

None of the examples you quote have created "Permanent Exclusion Zones" like nuclear power has.


Of course, the evacuees of Three Gorges dam is much more permanently removed from their land than Fukushima evacuees. The nuclear exclusion zones are of course not permanent. Every human generation, the radioactivity halves (cesium-137 with 30 year half life absolutely dominates), and, depending on exact distribution, so does exclusion zones.

Also, the other examples have orders of magnitude worse death tolls.

The 3 Gorges reservoir should be silted in before all of the Chernobyl area is safe to live in again.

But you do have a point. Just plan to only build nukes in areas that the nation can do without.


Sure, if we can have it all, that's great... I just can't see how we can have it all and not destroy the place. "Taxing the damage" sounds nice enough, but in all honesty there are some things (like trawling and clearcutting) which pretty much always do tremendous amounts of damage, and so should be cut out. I don't think there is any way of "taxing the damage" for those sort of things short of taxing them out of existence. The thing is, once you start down the road of "let's get back to a truly healthy environment" then you start down the road of questioning everything. I think we underestimate how much damage we do and are apathetic about it. How do you evaluate the value of a healthy environment for these tax purposes? And how do you enforce this at the source? In the US, one issue we have is the Mississippi river dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the pollutants is pretty much every state along the river and its tributaries, because the problem is basically fertilizer runoff. Each of these states will fight to not be responsible for what they do. You can tax the fertilizers, but how much would you have to tax to fix it?

Ultimately, I think that if we hope to reduce the damage we do we need to embark on a really radical set of changes. A bit here and there is not doing the job, as can be seen in the US, which has reduced air and water pollution drastically compared to the worst periods of the 50's to the 70's. Great, it's better than before, but we still have that dead zone, Chesapeake bay is still a mess, etc. Not to mention noise and light pollution, which have basically been ignored totally. What we are doing now is just not doing the job, but it's "good enough" for most people.

And that is the crux of it. My level of "good enough", I suspect, is at a different level. I would like to see us reverse as much of the decline as possible. Right now, it is still getting worse in many cases, and it may be too late in some cases. It's not "good enough". It just looks that way on the surface because we've never seen "healthy" in our lifetimes.

Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with your perspective, no matter how out of step you might feel sometimes. It is hard to see just how serious things are right now.

I'm not sure we have the same set of basic values. For me, the target is not "get back to a truly healthy environment". It's about not killing the goose that lays golden eggs. There is a difference, I think, i.e. I value maximizing the long-term fulfillment of human needs. While you might value nature itself, and may place that above the well-being of fellow humans?

If certain stuff such as bottom trawling is universally bad, then forbidding instead of taxing it out of existence might be easier, I agree. Regarding fertilizer, yes, if we don't want to use satellite pics or something to find and tax those who release fertilizer into streams, then we might need to find some other regulatory solution. (AFAIK, Swedish farmers use high-tech GPS equipped fertilizing systems that avoid wasting too much fertilizer near streams. Saves them money, I think.) However, these kinds of commons problems are not that many or hard to solve.

Yes, our values are certainly different. I stopped thinking of myself as a humanist when I realized that I value the natural world as much as I value the human world. Though I think that people would find that if they protected and experienced the natural world they would be better off than if they cut themselves off from it. But it depends on how you measure "well-being". Pure material well-being has little value after you get medicine, plumbing, and maybe a few other things. A huge house is not that much better than an apartment. And well-being bought at the expense of the environment is often far too dear, just look at Beijing's air.

This doesn't mean I oppose every development, just that I think we should make every effort to live in harmony with existing ecological systems.

It seems very much like most environmental problems are easy to solve, but that doesn't mean they can be solved easily in the face of resistance. It seems like common sense that farmers here in the US would try to minimize fertilizer use and waste, but if you told them they had to or face steep fines I think you would find a political war with argibusiness companies. Mountaintop removal mining is another "that's obviously wrong" sort of activity, yet attempts to stop it have been faced with tremendous opposition. The truth of it is that every environmental regulation hurts somebody's business in some way - if you were strict with noise pollution, companies that make machinery, from cars and trucks to power tools, would probably have a fit. Same if you treated small engines and marine engines the same way as cars vis-a-vis emissions. Or if you banned disposable plastic grocery bags (though there has been some success there). It's cheaper to pollute, for them at least.

This may be okay with you, but it's not with me. I don't want to live in a world without coral reefs or old growth forests. I want to see clean oceans and rivers, not plastics outnumbering plankton. Sadly, so far it's going in the wrong direction quite quickly, despite efforts to prevent it.

"Pure material well-being has little value after you get medicine, plumbing, and maybe a few other things."

The things I miss on camping trips; refrigerators, and hot showers. Running water and a toilet more advanced that an outhouse were great health advances too.

And in compare and contrast mode;


"The "Advice Letter" from PG&E to the Public Utilities Commission notes that the 20-year PPA price "is below the applicable 2011 Market Price Referent (MPR)."

For a twenty-year PPA with production beginning in 2016, the MPR is $0.104 per kilowatt-hour.

The CPUC defines the MPR as "best reflected by the long-term ownership, operating, and fixed-price fuel costs for a new 500-megawatt natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT).""

Nuclear power plant costs keep going up, solar and wind keep going down. Unless you live somewhere cold, cloudy, and calm, I just don't see the economics paying out.

The Henrietta project sounds more reasonable cost wise (but it is 4 years out). Can someone however say what is going on at the Agua Caliente solar project in Arizona?

If the information I have found is correct, it is a 290MW project at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion which would be over $6/W! Its construction began in 2011 and is scheduled to complete in 2014.

As a contrast, the Neuhardenberg solar project in Brandenburg, Germany is a 120MW project at a cost of 120 Million Euro, or $153 Million. I.e. $1.3/W. Also its construction started at the end of July 212 and is expected to be complete by end of September 2012, so it is built in just 2 month.

Why is building a solar park nearly 5 times more expensive in the US and takes more than 5 times longer to build?

Why is building a solar park nearly 5 times more expensive in the US and takes more than 5 times longer to build?

I think that is the right question. We know parts of the answer. Excessive paperwork and time consuming environmental reveiws is a piece of it. Not pushing on the physical balance of system costs hard enough is another. Not having the local scale learning curve effects the Germans have bought with their pricy support over the years. But, even with all these factors, why are we as bad as we are?

I think many utility scale plants are now coming in closer to $3 per watt. Hopefully this one is an outlier. But $3/watt, when you can buy panels for circa $.80 is clearly ridiculous!

Paperwork? Going from $1.3/W to $6/w for a 290MW park is a difference of 1.4 billion dollar. That is damn expensive paperwork...!

Another question is who pays these high prices? Investors? The utility companies? Government susidies?

How does the different policy frameworks, renewable energy quota and power purchasing agreements, vs feed in tariffs with rapidly decaying prices play a role in how efficiency of building PV (and other RE)?

I think the price is paid primarily by the utilities, although government subsidies also are a part of the picture. I'm not an expert on the German program, but I think the subsidies were all in the FIT rates, the industry players needed to be competitive against each other.

I agree, the price escalation is gigantic -and unacceptable. But $6/watt is out of line of what most utility parks cost today.

article at Forbes (one of their blogs actually) has a comparison chart of costs.


Over there you don’t need permission to connect to the utility, you don’t need a building permit, you don’t need any inspections and you don’t need financing (it’s automatic with a German bank).

In the US, each little city/county/state/utility company/utility governance agencies/... has their own individual rules and permit/inspection requirements. So a U.S. PV installer has to have separate forms/expertise/... to deal with each jurisdiction.
Germany has a single one-page form, for the entire country.

more details in these pdfs mentioned in the story

The LBL "Tracking the Sun" should have an update out soon.

Because the installer is ahead of schedule and the manufacturer wants to supply other customers, First Solar stopped shipping CdS/CdTe thin-film PV panels to Agua Caliente solar project until January 2013 according to First Solar Stops Installation at Agua Caliente Project, Bloomberg, Christopher Martin and Justin Doom, Aug. 30, 2012:

First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the biggest U.S. solar manufacturer, halted panel deliveries to the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant, which it’s building in Arizona, because construction is ahead of schedule and the company must slow down to meet contractual milestones.

First Solar: Agua Caliente Solar Project: Project Overview shows a timeline:

Project proposed by NextLight

September 2009
PPA with PG&E

September 2010
Approved by AZ Corporation Commission

September 2010
Special Use Permit approved by County

June 2010
PPA approved by California PUC

Start construction

July 2010
Interconnection Agreement approved by FERC

Estimated project operation 2013 - 2039

Because the project is ahead of schedule and its progress is being limited by delivery of PV panels from First Solar, it appears that it will be complete at 290 MW early next year.

Because the site is located near the existing Hassayampa-North Gila 500 kV transmission line, connecting to the grid is as inexpensive as possible. According to First Solar: Project Datasheet (PDF warning):

The Agua Caliente Project, initially developed by NextLight Renewable Power, LLC., is now being completed by First Solar which acquired NextLight on July 12, 2010. On August 5, 2011, NRG Energy acquired the Agua Caliente project and on January 18, 2012, MidAmerican Renewables, LLC acquired a 49% stake in the project.

Perhaps multiple transfers of ownership have driven the price up and slowed the project down. I also suspect, but have not been able to confirm, that the $1.8 billion includes the purchase of the land. The Neuhardenberg solar project is being constructed at an airport and probably does not involve the purchase of land.

Here is an analysis of nuclear costs which makes clear why there are widely different cost estimates publicised.
They are largely due to The difference between overnight costs, ie what the cost would be if it were built excluding financing and ownership costs and those that include those charges.

At $4500/kw for the overnight cost, 7% interest and a five year construction time that gives a cost of around 7.1cents/kwh as the levelised cost if amortised over 20 years.

After that the costs per kilowatt would be around the same marginal cost as at present, about 2 cents/kwh.
This is cheaper than anything else other than amortised hydro.

So the cost/kwh over the 60 year lifetime is vastly less than any alternative, and lifetime costs are often the preferred basis for those advocating renewables.

In absolute terms during the 20 year amortisation period the cost disadvantage of nuclear compared to NG is around 11%, and about double that in Europe:
Most of us on this site would feel that US gas prices are far below production costs, and need to approximately double to be sustainable.
NG is not going to last forever, and reducing emissions are way cheaper with nuclear than with most renewables, save arguably on-shore wind, which however as argued below implies continued CO2 emissions from the supporting fossil fuel burn.

Solar and wind with any technology we can envisage making practicable for the foreseeable future are utterly reliant on fossil fuels for the bulk of production.

In Spain a 10% nominal wind capacity means that in gales it goes above 100%, so you effectively have no baseload capacity at all, but are tied in to fossil fuels as it is the only way to ramp up and down power to cover.
Technically you can ramp nuclear, but it would make no financial sense.

So except where used for instance in the US South West where solar can, although at very large cost, be used to provide peaking power as that is when the demand is, a high penetration of renewables depends absolutely on the continuing burn of massive quantities of fossil fuels.

France has around 2/3rds of the per capita CO2 emissions of Germany.
That is not coincidence.

Given the very high risk of building and operating nuclear power plants (innumerable examples from Zimmer to Brown's Ferry to TMI to WHOOPS & TVA to Southern Cal Edison & New Brunswick today), a 7% interest rate is *FAR* too low, absent gov't subsidies.

Redo the math with 15% to 18% interest to get a more realistic (still too low) cost. That is still below the minimum that a financially "stand alone" nuke (without a utility putting all of it's other assets up as collateral) would have to pay.

The only nuke currently under construction in the USA has socialized financing - the Georgia rate payers are paying for part of nuke as it is being built, without recourse if it does "a Finland". Gov't coercion, not market economics, drive the construction there (see also US gov't subsidies to subsidize Vogtle).

And how far off was the construction price and time in Finland ?

I vaguely remember 6 years late and $6 billion over budget, but I am not sure.


Your 15-18% interest rate is pure invention.
No industrial plants at all are amortised at such a rate.
If you have data demonstrating such a rate please provide substantial links and analysis, as I have done for my figures.

As I clearly and fairly indicated, the very low costs of natural gas currently in the US make that the low cost choice.
However the element of subsidy required for nuclear is s fraction of that for renewables, particularly since much of their costs are hidden in mandates to take their power, so the extra cost of building and running fossil fuel plants is simply not costed to the renewables.

The costs in Finland are far higher for this first of a kind than projected, but still produce acceptable electricity rates.
That is why they are ordering another.
The AP1000 has a far better record for costs than the EPR so far.

No industrial plants carry the multitude of risks of nuclear power plants.

Both building and operating nukes are UNIQUELY risky - as history has repeatedly shown - and deserve a commensurate risk premium.

That your economic analysis is quite wrong is demonstrated by the # of nukes under construction - and in the US new nukes get MUCH# more subsidy than wind & solar. Yet additional subsidies from Georgia ratepayers are required.


# See the 2005 Energy Act - New nukes get 100% of the subsidies of wind just for starters, and billions on top of that.

# Let's set Price-Andersen limits at $50 billion - a reasonable upper limit that Fukushima clearly exceeds, but a cost the industry should bear. Policies that large can be bought.

So, you are entirely unable to back up your claimed figures and simply invented them.

An analysis of actual deaths from civil nuclear power does indeed show that it is unique in it's risks - it is uniquely safe.
Fukusima is a fine example of this.
Unknown numbers of people were incinerated instantly in fires from the oil and gas installations, whereas the death toll from radiation is exactly zero.

Aside from their own inherent risks, the fact that renewables need a 70% fossil fuel input makes them way more risky.

I was talking financial risks

TOO many to list in the time available.

Brown's Ferry
5 WHOOPS reactors started, 1 completed
11 TVA reactors canceled in one day
Ft. St. Vrain
Grand Gulf #2
Black Fox
River Bend #2
Watts Bar
Three Mile Island
Onefre (the So Cal two reactors down forever apparently)
Lepreau (New Brunswick)

And on & on.

Junk bond risks to be charitable.

Not enough time to list ALL the financial meltdowns - have to go ATM.


To quote the TVA Chairman when TVA cancelled ELEVEN nukes in one day - "It was not Three Mile Island, it was the risk that continued cost over-runs and delays would bankrupt TVA. That we could no longer access financial markets.

TVA is a federal agency, with truly massive assets (dams, transmission lines, coal fired plants, distribution network, etc.) but it is not explicitly covered by the "Full Faith and Credit of the US Treasury". And they were at risk of being excluded from borrowing at anything less than junk bond rates.

A private company would have been squeezed out long before.

And a nuke, without the rest of the company behind it, would NEVER get financing.

I have not followed the Finnish situation too closely, but building just one nuke would have bankrupted the national utility - unless Areva swallowed much of the massive cost overruns. The Finnish utility, without Areva support (French Gov't) or Finnish Gov't support can simply NOT AFFORD another nuke.

And your remark that the AP-1000 in Georgia is "not as bad as the EPR" yet is "unconvincing". They have just started to pour concrete for the pad - and they have had their first (or is it second) cost overrun & delay. I will bet a reasonable sum that is not their last cost-overrun and delay.

New Nukes are not financially viable today, even WITH massive government subsidies. Too much financial risk - and such risk requires very high interest rates to compensate (if you can find capital at all - see TVA).


On of the Crystal River reactors in Florida is apparently trashed too. Fractured containment. Not the pressure vessel.


Add another to your list.

Yeah, that one is almost in my back yard and it's a major clusterfvck if ever there was one!

Here's another link with a picture of the damaged containment vessel.


But even with a nearly finished engineering plan, Glenn, the incoming Progress Energy Florida president, questioned whether the plan would work. He's cautious for good reason.

"We cannot be assured that (the plant) can be repaired and brought back to service until full engineering and other analyses are completed," Progress reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month.

Progress has spent $839 million so far on the first repair attempt and to purchase alternative electricity, according to its SEC report. The utility expects future repair costs to exceed $1.3 billion and the cost for replacement power while the plant sits offline to run about $300 million a year.

I can't help but wonder how much solar could be built out with that amount of money here in the Sunshine State!

Florida Progress Energy, which owns Crystal River, is trying to build a new plant nearby in Levy County, but that is not going well, either. From the Tampa Bay Times (http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/progress-energys-levy-count...):

Had the PSC [Florida Public Service Commission] heeded the warnings, it might have limited customer losses to about $150 million. Instead, the PSC rejected the warnings and has allowed Progress to double down on Levy.

Now, customers must pay off a debt of $1.1 billion — for a plant that keeps getting delayed and may never get built.

At the 2009 hearings, the PSC was reviewing Progress' latest expenses related to the Levy project and whether customers would have to pick up more of the tab. By then, the estimated cost for the project had climbed from a high of $6 billion to $17 billion.

A few months later [after the 2009 hearings], analysts at Stanford University's Institute for Economic Policy Research released a score card that looked at the feasibility of 27 proposed reactors nationwide. The scale ranged from a low score of zero to a perfect six, based on the resources available to each nuclear project.

Only Georgia Southern's Vogtle plant received a six. It recently became the first U.S. plant to receive a new operating license in 30 years.

Three other projects scored a four — among them, the Summer nuclear project in South Carolina, which was the second to receive a license. So far, there hasn't been a third license handed out. The two other projects that like Summer received scores of four have been abandoned.

The Levy plant? It scored a two.

Written by DaveW:
... whereas the death toll from radiation is exactly zero.

Utter BS. Begin your research at Wiki: List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll

Both building and operating nukes are UNIQUELY risky

The risk has been political. Don't blame the energy source for the failings of politics.

in the US new nukes get MUCH# more subsidy than wind & solar. Yet additional subsidies from Georgia ratepayers are required.

You cannot support any of these assertions.

Let's set Price-Andersen limits at $50 billion

Price-Andersen has no real limits. In the event of an accident, the government can squeeze arbitrary amounts of money from the industry.

The cause of the failure of nukes in the USA is engineering and management *NOT* politics !

That is a red herring excuse that avoids the massive problems of the nuke industry.

The USA started building too many nukes too fast. Not enough experienced people. Costs got *WAY* out of control, with multi-year delays.

All the plants listed, every one, is an engineering or management failure (including construction).

The NRC regs clearly state that the area around the nuke must be capable of evacuation.

Stupid managers build plant in area that simply cannot be evacuated.

No operating license. A utility management failure - NOT politics - although unrealistic people claim politics in that case.
Would that wind & solar had such generous government subsidies.


it extends the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act through 2025;
it authorizes cost-overrun support of up to $2 billion total for up to six new nuclear power plants;
it authorizes production tax credit of up to $125 million total a year, estimated at 1.8 US¢/kWh during the first eight years of operation for the first 6.000 MW of capacity,[8] consistent with renewables;
it authorizes loan guarantees of up to 80% of project cost to be repaid within 30 years or 90% of the project's life [1];
it authorizes $2.95 billion for R&D and the building of an advanced hydrogen cogeneration reactor at Idaho National Laboratory[2];
it authorizes 'standby support' for new reactor delays that offset the financial impact of delays beyond the industry's control for the first six reactors, including 100% coverage of the first two plants with up to $500 million each and 50% of the cost of delays for plants three through six with up to $350 million each for [3];
it allows nuclear plant employees and certain contractors to carry firearms;
it prohibits the sale, export or transfer of nuclear materials and "sensitive nuclear technology" to any state sponsor of terrorist activities;
it updates tax treatment of decommissioning funds


Consumer advocates are especially concerned because of legislation passed in 2009 allowing Georgia Power to charge ratepayers for the project while it's in construction.


The government is on the hook for any accident costs over (memory) $250 million/accident. The nukes carry insurance to cover the first $250 million.

Change that, in stages, to the nukes carry a $50 billion liability insurance policy, and the gov't pays for $51 billion and above.


I supported all my claims.

New nukes are simply not economic today.

Stupid managers build plant in area that simply cannot be evacuated.

No operating license. A utility management failure - NOT politics

Both are politics, obviously. You can't just set up arbitrary rules and then claim stupid managers are the cause of the problems.

The USA started building too many nukes too fast. Not enough experienced people. Costs got *WAY* out of control, with multi-year delays.

This does not explain why the industry died suddenly. In any other industry, a collapse would have lead to construction/competence overcapacity that would have been soaked up by some cheap builds and after a while, the industry would have ramped at a more sustainable pace. Only the regulatory flurry after TMI explains the death of the nuclear construction industry!

Regarding the Energy policy act of 2005: It is simply an attempt from legislators to balance the extreme and unnecessary regulatory burden and regulatory risks with some small compensatory bread crumbs and some guarantees. Legislators know they have hampered the nuclear industry unfairly, but don't dare backtrack due to the stupid media attention that would garner. So they try to compensate a little to get something done.

The government is on the hook for any accident costs over (memory) $250 million/accident.

The actual amount is $12.6 billion. And then government has a congressional mandate to retroactively increase the nuclear industry's liability. There is no major problem here.

New nukes are simply not economic today.

Fully agree. And that's because of regulation.

The *MASSIVE* cost over-runs and multi-year delays killed new nuke construction, not required and prudent regulation.

The cause is the nuke building industry itself. They did not do their job.

he failure of individuals such as yourself to accept reality is reason to question the judgment of nuke builders. They may think like you - which will require more strict regulations in the future to prevent their errors in judgment.

How is it politics to publish a clear regulation - an specified area around the plant must be capable of evacuation. And when a utility chooses to build in an area that simply cannot be evacuated, it is denied an operating license ?

Or a number of quality control measures and inspections are required. Management chooses to ignore those regulations - and is denied an operating permit ? See Zimmer.

And the nuke industry is getting the wind & solar subsidy AND several times more ! They are awash in government freebies and handouts in the Energy Act of 2005 !!

The nuke industry is due zero compensation - it is, by many orders of magnitude - the most heavily subsidized energy source. That is why I want to tax waste fuel that has not been stored. One reason is to recover a penny on the dollar in subsidies to nukes.


Etc. etc.


Nothing I say seems to get through to you - you just repeat your falsehoods again and again.

Again, no bad management has ever killed entire industries before or since.

You have a good idea there, counter opposition to too hard regulation with even harder regulation, blaming the opponents. Typical of how tyrants treat dissidents.

Ah. Nuclear engineers yearning to breath free - and build everything as cheap as they possibly can without paperwork.

Perhaps nuke management and engineering is uniquely incompetent - but they did manage to kill their industry.

Except Watts Bar & Vogtle. Not QUITE dead yet.

Sony management managed to kill off superior Betamax. Digital Equipment management managed to kill off mini-computers. Kodak did not do very well with photographic film.

And Egypt only built a few pyramids.


Perhaps nuke management and engineering is uniquely incompetent - but they did manage to kill their industry.

Yeah, I guess that's your story. Hopefully everybody can see through it. Industries don't die like that. Never happens.

Sorry, your parallels with specific products don't work. At all.

jeppen, think about what caused the core meltdowns at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. The answer is incompetent engineers (bad designs), management and operators. Those accidents resulted in more regulations and public opinion turning against nuclear power.

Yes, and millions have died due to bad car engineering and bad road safety engineering. However, the regulations have not killed those industries and the public opinion hasn't turned against traffic.

So, to me, the big problem is not nuclear incompetence, but incompetent public and the incompetent politicians. Killing the nuclear industry by tough regulation has obviously been a sub-optimization of extreme proportions. The reason is that people let themselves be dazzled by spectacular and newsworthy accidents, but ignore the far larger every-day grind of other industries.

Nuclear Power - As Safe as Driving a Car !

BTW, the "extreme regulations" for nuclear power were drawn from the aviation industry standards. Almost duplicated.

Boeing seems to be able to cope with very comparable regulations.


Your first sentence is a good testament to your seriousness.

The principles may be similar in some abstract sense, but the actual regulations are of course very different.

Aviation standard and nuke standard are basically the same.

For example, a Loctite representative said that their aviation grade Loctite is identical to their nuclear grade Loctite - and both have MUCH greater quality control & testing than industrial grade Loctite (and cost more too).

The paperwork requirements for maintenance, etc. are very similar, etc. etc.

As I noted, Boeing manages to get the job done right.

Your approach would lead to using mild steel fasteners in high radiation areas. Something the Brits did to almost all their Magnox reactors.


Your approach would lead to using mild steel fasteners in high radiation areas. Something the Brits did to almost all their Magnox reactors.

So without government oversight, reactors builders can't make smart choices? I don't think we'll ever agree. We have very different perspectives on what self-interest results in. Again, I guess this is a fundamental difference between doomers and ordinary people (and to some extent between socialists and libertarians).

See the note regarding air compressors at TMI, and other short cuts.

There have been several cases where Boeing has provided detailed technical assistance to Airbus in an accident investigation. I am not aware of any joint B&W, CE, GE and Westinghouse engineering groups reviewing TMI, Brown's Ferry I, etc. - bringing the best minds of the industry together in search of greater safety.

The nuke industry let the regulators dig out what they could instead.

Electrical safety (UL & NEC) in the USA is set by private industry, working in the best interest of the public (lead by insurance companies). It works well IMHO.

The nuke industry has simply not developed the same safety culture of aviation and electrical. TMI attitudes are common in nukes.

The only alternative is strong and stiff regulation, and building as few nukes as we can get by with and still get off coal.


The concept is called "crowding out". As soon as government takes on too much responsibility in an area, it crowds out private initiatives. It is true for safety as well. If government is tiring everybody with extreme amounts of safety related red tape, then you can expect this to be all there is.

The nuclear industry failed to develop a safety culture, as aviation did. There is no alternative (except no nuclear plants). It is clearly the fault of the nuclear industry.

Aviation is also strictly regulated - but because of the pervasive safety culture, there is no need to make such regulation more strict. Nuclear power clearly needs much more strict regulation than before.

Such as requiring all waste fuel (on-site & off-site) to be stored inside a containment structure and for waste fuel to be transferred off-site ASAP.

To provide two sets of solar PV for emergency generation (+ the diesels) and multi-days of battery back-up. One set of solar PV to be stored for quick set-up after a massive solar flare. Also store large quantities of borated water in flexible bags + on-site wells.

Prepare all nuclear power plants for a solar flare 10x Carrington.

And more regulation than above is needed. The industry will not do this on their own.

BTW, you fail to recognize that, with different winds, nuclear power would have contaminated a city of 30 million people.

You fail to recognize that lax regulation and an aviation industry indifferent to security not only could have, but actually did create two gruesome wars and the direct death of some 3000 people at 9-11. It is now absolutely necessary that airports universally use machines that strip people naked, that they hold travelers up for an extra hour in airport security and to put people with strange names on no-fly lists. It is also very important to have forms with questions for inbound foreign travelers to ask them whether they are planning terrorist attacks or to otherwise "behave immorally" on US soil. Would the aviation industry do all this left to their own devices? Of course not - we need those wise government regulators to make them!

So, to me, the big problem is not nuclear incompetence, but incompetent public and the incompetent politicians. Killing the nuclear industry by tough regulation ...

So, those people's feelings are bogus, but your feelings are true and correct.
Sez who?
The reality is: JQ Public was told "nukes are safe, and (almost) too cheap to meter".
The reality is: mass evacuations, cost overruns, lack of sense of control and BROKEN TRUST as coverups/lies/incompetence are exposed, but nobody in the industry will come clean and say "we screwed up".
They just continue to play victim, and blame the "muppets" who got loans knowing they could never repay them. (do you get the reference to the banksters, not taking any responsibility for the financial crisis - they blame excessive regulation too, even though the financial meltdown was enabled by cutting back regulations?).

Look in the mirror,
read Don't Be Such A Scientist
and get off your high horse.

Problems can't be fixed until they are honestly acknowledged.
I see the problem as an incompetent/cowardly nuclear industry:
(a) unwilling to be honest with themselves, internally, and accept criticism/dialog internally.
(b) thence unwilling to face the need to be totally on the up and up with the public
(c) which risks facing the uneconomic reality of most nuclear plants -> job/prestige/esteem loss
(d) the entrenched light water interests don't want any competition from LFTR, et. al.,
so resist the major changes in the industry/technology whereby they could in fact
address the public and say (honestly),
we were wrong, this is better and here's factually why, and get more public support.
(e) unwilling to face the legal mess, where their lawyers hide as much info as possible,
to avoid lawsuits (vs. the aviation industry which has a long tradition of "anymouse"
(anonymous) reporting of near misses/bad practices so safety culture/info is shared and widely disseminated.

In short: the nuke industry has circled their wagons, is playing righteous victim, and wondering why they're victimized.
If the high nuclear priesthood wants to be treated like everybody else, it's time they stopped claiming infallibility/special privilege.

Did you read the original, printed report on TMI?
If, so, can you tell me what government regulation inspired the cheapskates to skimp on a large enough/duplicate instrument air compressor?
(The nuke industry and lawyers fought tooth and nail to limit "safety critical" areas, whole systems analysis, and other safety practices/regulations known from aviation to be effective in reducing accidents).

No, we can't spend $10K or $20K to get enough instrument air, let's just cross connect to shop air,
and ignore the known/repeated problems with water getting into the instrument air lines (they used shop air to "fluff" water treating resin beads). So water gets into the instrument air line AGAIN,
causes things to go haywire, condenser vacuum is lost, the turbine trips and the reactor scrams.
All fine and well so far, just a hit to up time.

But tell me again, what regulation caused/inspired the cheapskates to skimp on fixing the Pilot Operated Relief Valve? Known to have problems, but never addressed, the PORV sticks open (again!),
but with inadequate (more cheapskate) instrumentation and training, the operators can't apply correct actions - and (culture of hiding inconvenient truths) doesn't call for help immediately.

So, did anybody in the nuke industry own up to "we were too cheap to spend $20K on enough air compressor, so we blew a billion dollars and trashed a power plant (and the industry's future)?
No, the current official party line is "cause unknown" for the initial "non-nuclear" problem - "oh, poor us, we're victims".

The nuclear industry is it's own worst enemy, and won't/can't admit that.

I wonder is the complexity and risk are so great that most people (including those in the industry),
deal with the overwhelm by adopting blind faith, instead of applying themselves even more.
Blind faith means defending decisions by emotionality (including attacking "the other"'s intentions), instead of factual reasons. I think this can be seen in both the rabidly no-nukes-of-any-kind clique and the nukes-are-safe-people-are-stupid clique, as well as the peak-oil-is-bunk and global-warming-is-the-biggest-fraud-ever crowds.
It's been a while since I've read Tainter - wondering if the cost of hard work/intellectual honesty vs. the cheapness of the shortcut of faith (leading to unreality -> failure) sets the stage for collapse.

I hope for some sanity and deployment of LFTRs, but I'm not optimistic.

So, those people's feelings are bogus, but your feelings are true and correct.

I think human intuitive perception of risk is deeply flawed - evolution hasn't prepared us for a modern life and technological challenges. So I would advocate putting feelings aside, count the beans and go with the result of that.

Problems can't be fixed until they are honestly acknowledged.

While I agree that an open culture is important, as well as accountability, I think that perhaps it's a bit too easy to be wise (and extremely critical) in hindsight, and to let the failings of a smaller group tarnish an entire industry and for all eternity.

I am arguing that regulation is not killing the nuclear power industry, and your argument is that regulation has not killed the automobile industry. That supports my position. Accidents and deaths did create an obsession with safety that has increased the cost of automobile ownership and operation in the U.S. making driving prohibitively expensive for some people.

Because their effects are limited to the immediate vicinity of the accident, automobile accidents do not make cities uninhabitable. The magnitude of the accidents and liability are not comparable. Even being 8,000 km away did not spare me from the effects of radioactive fallout from Fukushima. I had to halt the collection of rainwater for 4 months until the wind shifted. Due to a combination of the fallout and drought, I end up with a shortage of potable water that persisted until this summer. TEPCO did not accept any responsibility for their behavior toward me. They externalized their pollution onto me. Some will say what you don't know, won't hurt you, or if you can not see it, smell it, taste it, hear it or feel it, then it can not hurt you. They keep blinders on while refusing to perform competent risk assessment.

Because their effects are limited to the immediate vicinity of the accident, automobile accidents do not make cities uninhabitable. The magnitude of the accidents and liability are not comparable.

Do you know about 3000 die every day in global traffic? Would you like to change your position in light of this fact?

Even being 8,000 km away did not spare me from the effects of radioactive fallout from Fukushima. I had to halt the collection of rainwater for 4 months until the wind shifted.

You didn't have to. You chose to, for no good reason. The fallout can't have been significant for you.

Written by jeppen:
Would you like to change your position in light of this fact?

No, because your statistic is irrelevant for assessing risk with fission nuclear power.

Written by jeppen:
You didn't have to.

In rainwater catchment there are two factors the concentrate radioactive fallout. During several weeks of no rain, fallout accumulates on the roof which is washed off when it rains. The rain also washes the fallout out of the atmosphere. An experiment at Berkeley in 2011 measured radioactive concentrations from rain and dew ranging from 500 to 5000 times the concentration in air. This experiment did not measure accumulation on the apparatus over several days or weeks because it was cleaned off each day. The water coming off the roof ends up contaminated far beyond the concentration in air as well as the background level. Boiling such water does not remove the radionuclides. It is unsuitable for drinking, cooking, watering plants and pretty much any other use. It would even turn my water tanks radioactive if I stored it in them.

It is easy for people to ignore the danger from radiation because their senses can not detect it requiring them to think to perceive it.

No, because your statistic is irrelevant for assessing risk with fission nuclear power.

How would nuclear power be able to get up to numbers like 3000 dead/day? TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima's long-term cumulative effects won't get close to even a week of road fatalities.

The water coming off the roof ends up contaminated far beyond the concentration in air as well as the background level.

Interesting. So what levels would you get up to in the water?

3000 randomly dying from all parts of the world is not comparable to emptying a city of inhabitants in one go. As was stated, both the liabilities and overall effect would be completely different.

Following your logic would mean that 9/11 (approx 3000 deaths) had the same effect on the world as your 3000 world deaths from driving.

3000 randomly dying from all parts of the world is not comparable to emptying a city of inhabitants in one go.

Of course it is comparable. Which is worse is not clear, however, you have to do some arithmetic to decide this.

Following your logic would mean that 9/11 (approx 3000 deaths) had the same effect on the world as your 3000 world deaths from driving.

Not "had", but perhaps "should have had". Far too much passion and panic just because one is sudden and compressed in time.

The stress and increased mortality from evacuating Tokyo as fast as possible would certainly kill more than 3,000 people per day.


The "entire industry" is producing electrical power. The "specific product" is nuclear power plants. And bad management and inferior engineering have managed to kill off a number of "specific products".

PS: DDT manufacturing is not doing very well either.

The "entire industry" is producing electrical power. The "specific product" is nuclear power plants. And bad management and inferior engineering have managed to kill off a number of "specific products"

The rest of the industry didn't change much. It wasn't the case that nuclear missed a short time window like betamax. So if nuclear hadn't got killed by regulation, it would have bounced back quickly from any incompetency problems.

DDT manufacturing is not doing very well either.

DDT manufacturing went bad because DDT is dangerous. I could understand if you said that nuclear was killed (by regulation) because it was too dangerous. But you say incompetence killed it and that's nonsense. Incompetence can't kill industries like that.

I was there and I saw it. Incompetence in management and engineering killed new nuclear power plants in the USA.

The role of Zimmer is lost I fear to history. MASSIVE cost over-runs, multi-year delays. And then, when completed, it could not get an operating license due to poor quality construction (VERY justifiable BTW).

Other utility Boards and executives were shocked - could this happen to us ? Pick the wrong project manager and destroy the company ?

The high risks of building nuclear power plants became apparent. IMVHO, Zimmer had more impact than Three Mile Island (build a nuke and one day it just turns to scrap with a very expensive clean-up).

It is just a myth that regulation did. Denying the root cause of failure explains continued failure.

See Vogtle, with enough gov't subsidies (Federal plus Georgia ratepayers "prepaying") a new nuclear power plant is being built. And TVA rebuilt Brown's Ferry and is finishing Watts Bar #1 & #2. So obviously regulations do not prevent nukes from being built.


Incompetence in management and engineering killed new nuclear power plants in the USA.

You really seem to believe repetition creates truth. Why not respond to my comments instead? For real, I mean, not just using them as a space to cover with your own propaganda?

See Vogtle, with enough gov't subsidies (Federal plus Georgia ratepayers "prepaying") a new nuclear power plant is being built. And TVA rebuilt Brown's Ferry and is finishing Watts Bar #1 & #2. So obviously regulations do not prevent nukes from being built.

The recent idea of construction licenses, so you're guaranteed to be able to operate the plant if you follow the blueprint, has helped a bit to unkill the industry. But there is still so much regulation in place that they needed those government subsidies to offset it all.

but are tied in to fossil fuels as it is the only way to ramp up and down power to cover.

Use pumped storage and hydro. That is what Japan and, to a lesser extent, Germany are going to do.

Technically you can ramp nuclear, but it would make no financial sense.

As EdF has shown, nukes cannot be ramped up & down in any useful way. EdF just turns them on & off (off on weekends, Spring & Fall).

Were it not for the hydro and pumped storage of Switzerland, Luxembourg & France, EdF could not operate so many nukes. See renewables above.

Japan is going to repurpose it's pumped storage and hydro from supporting nukes to supporting hydro.

I read a Swiss utility report boasting of selling power for 5 times what they bought it for from EdF last at night. Not so good economics for nukes, very good economics for the Swiss.

a high penetration of renewables depends absolutely on the continuing burn of massive quantities of fossil fuels.

BS !! Just as true for fixed production nukes as renewables.

BTW, EdF is adding wind to meet winter demand. It makes more sense, economically, than building more nukes. Existing pumped storage & hydro can help shift an excess wind generation around.


I've been using another way of describing this suggestion that every KW of Wind or Solar requires backup sources to be installed as well, which is that WITHOUT that wind or solar, those plants would end up there, too, only they'd be running and burning fuel a great deal more.

Yet another way to put it is that new wind and solar wastes parts of capital investments in other plants. With penetration high enough, the biggest victims are earlier solar/wind plants.

With Negawatts, all FF plants should be sunk costs and no need to build more (at least for 50+ years).


In North America. In the rest of the world, not so much.

Japan too.

And others if they wished. Australia for example.


No, definitely not Japan.

Japan just managed to shutdown 54! nuclear power plants within a year with surprisingly little issues.
That is a more rapid phase out than probably even the most ravid anti-nuclear folks ever dreamed of being possible.

How many more Negawatts do you need?

With a quick and massive build-out of renewables, and pumped storage, I do not see the need for Japan to build more FF plants.

Their population is starting to drop, and working age population is dropping faster than overall population.

Phase I - perhaps 60 GW wind, 75 GW solar, 1 GW biomass and 500 MW geothermal. Stronger connections between 50 Hz & 60 Hz grids. Program EVs to recharge when renewables are in surplus.


Japan just managed to shutdown 54! nuclear power plants within a year with surprisingly little issues.
That is a more rapid phase out than probably even the most ravid anti-nuclear folks ever dreamed of being possible.

How many more Negawatts do you need?

About as many negawatts as Japan has ordinary watts, since we are talking about the remaining fossil fuels here!

'Use pumped storage and hydro. That is what Japan and, to a lesser extent, Germany are going to do.'

You take no account whatsoever of scale issues.
it is fine supporting renewables for the 5 million people in Denmark with Scandinavian hydro, although even that has it's difficulties in drought years.
The notion that support for a high degree of penetration by renewables can be provided by this means for 700 million people in Europe is absurd.

The energy of raising mass by weight or volume is tiny compared to chemical energy.
For an analysis see here:

'The main problem with gravitational storage is that it is incredibly weak compared to chemical, compressed air, or flywheel techniques (see the post on home energy storage options). For example, to get the amount of energy stored in a single AA battery, we would have to lift 100 kg (220 lb) 10 m (33 ft) to match it. To match the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline, we would have to lift 13 tons of water (3500 gallons) one kilometer high (3,280 feet). It is clear that the energy density of gravitational storage is severely disadvantaged.'

We have no present means to substantially support renewables other than to mostly use fossil fuels.
Why do you think that Germany is building them as fast as it can, and not pumped storage or CAES?

Japan has 21 GW of operational pumped storage today, and another 1.6 GW that only needs turbines #3 to #6 installed.

That is enough to balance a very high % renewable grid. Add Japanese storage hydro, a few GW of demand response and build some more pumped storage and the % renewable that can be supported gets well above 50%.

This proves your claim We have no present means to substantially support renewables other than to mostly use fossil fuels FALSE !


I believe that

1) New US Nukes are uneconomic and are almost certainly going to remain so. However, a slow build-up of series production of nukes can reduce the economic gap.

2) All current technology nukes are dangerous. There is about a 0.25% chance that the area around a nuke will be an exclusion zone for 100 to 250 years.

3) Coal is worse than nukes. See Climate Chaos & mercury.

4) We should be on a mad dash to conserve AMAP ASAP. NEGAWATTS !!

5) We should be be on a mad dash to build as much renewables + supporting infrastructure (pumped storage, HV DC)

6) We should raise the gov't subsidies to whatever is required to get at least four AP-1000s, one EPR and to finish Watts Bar #2 under construction. As each of these are finished, start up two more. New nukes will be the "second wave" to get off carbon after we have built all the renewables and conserved as much as possible. A 20% of so "gap filler".

Build new nukes only in areas the nation can do without if it has to.

7) Resolve the high level waste problem - once and for all. More all waste fuel off-site with-in five years of refueling.

Put the burden on the industry to deal with waste by taxing all undisposed waste fuel over, say 20 years old. The tax rises by year to a very heavy tax at 30 years. Let them figure it out - but it has to meet unanimous approval by NAS panel. The tax should be high enough to double the operating costs for a 40 years old reactor (i.e. another 2 cents/kWh).

8) Raise Price-Anderson liability limits in stages to $50 billion for all operating and new nukes.

The above more closely resembles reality than your position. It will get new nukes built - and it is defensible.

2) All current technology nukes are dangerous. There is about a 0.25% chance that the area around a nuke will be an exclusion zone for 100 to 250 years

This is an important point. The debate seems to be about lives lost. And few lives have been lost to Nuke accidents (as compared to other energy tech). But we now two two rather large exclusion zones, and the loss of human accessability to these areas carries a high cost. So I would say the risk of N power, is dominated by the risk of losing land access, not direct casualities.

Written by enemy of state:
So I would say the risk of N power, is dominated by the risk of losing land access, not direct casualities.

and sickness and loss of homes, businesses and fresh water.

"Put the burden on the industry to deal with waste by taxing all undisposed waste fuel over, say 20 years old"

It's not the industry that is the problem. Congress has to approve the disposal plan, and they won't.

By the way, the only areas the nation can do without are Wilderness areas, as they have no economic impact by law. Be careful what you wish for.

Why shouldn't the industry pay for their own waste disposal? That should have been required from the start! Makes it look cheap when you don't have to pay for the disposal process...

Japan has 21 GW of operational pumped storage today, and another 1.6 GW that only needs turbines #3 to #6 installed.

That is enough to balance a very high % renewable grid.

No, it isn't. It's just 20% of average capacity, and likely, much of that is already tied up in balancing load. Even if all of it is used to balance wind, i.e. making baseload of 21 GW of wind, that's only 7 GW wind average, which is only some 6-7%. And it's also questionable if the pumped hydro dams retain enough water to perform that feat.

This proves your claim We have no present means to substantially support renewables other than to mostly use fossil fuels FALSE !

Please try again.

Studies habe shown you can get by with a lot less than 1 to 1 backup to nameplate for wind/solar. Particularly as your sources become geographically distributed. I'd also note, Japan didn't have incentive to try hard to develop pumped (or dispatchable hydro), unless now, so they can laikely expand this capability manyfold.

Remember, a cubic metre of water has only 0.272 kWh of energy at 100 m height! According to wikipedia, the largest Japanese pumped hydro installation is this: "The Kurokawa Reservoir, the upper reservoir, has a capacity of 33,387,000 m3". So that's less than 10e6 kWh or 10 GWh (though I'm not sure of the height). But its capacity is 2 GW, so it only has 5 hours of storage capacity. And the bottom reservoir has only half that!

They would need to be 50-100 times larger to be really effective in matching wind! Wind's rolling 30-day average in Sweden may easily vary from 50% of average till 170% of average during a year.

Spill a little wind on a windy 3 AM.

It has minimal effects on the economics, and no harm done.

One does not have to save EVERY scrap of renewable energy.

Many dams spill water instead of generating power when river flows get too high.

Same deal with wind.

As I noted elsewhere, you have no understanding of utility operations or economics. Perhaps that is why you are so dogmatically pro-nuclear.


What the heck are you talking about? 3 AM? Again, you need to store 70% extra for a month or lose it! Or you need to fill a 50% deficit for a month or go without adequate power.

Get real.

Wrong, jeppen. Overbuild wind and photovoltaic systems while discarding some of the energy during especially windy and sunny periods. My off-grid PV system does not store 70% of the power I use in a month. My batteries store 5 days of energy that my PV panels output on a sunny day and my refrigerator/freezer stores between 1 and 2 days of energy. I have not deep cycled my batteries since the early 1990's which means that I use a small fraction of the stored energy. During several consecutive sunny days, my PV system probably discards half of the power by the regulator simply opening the relay when the batteries are charged.

Expand hydroelectric plants, interconnect the grid over long distance, install solar hot water systems, implement demand-side management and add some geothermal and tidal power plants. Demand-side management could include using low cost surplus electricity from wind and solar to synthesize ammonia and natural gas. When its dark or calm and the price of electricity high, the natural gas could be used to generate electricity. It will work far better than you think.

I'm not sure why you say I'm wrong when your own PV experience proves me right.

Even low-penetration wind and PV are more expensive to produce than traditional power. The suggestions to overbuild and waste much of it and do lots of other things to accommodate high penetrations manifolds the already high cost. Not viable.

Wind: The maximum power you can expext from wind in Germany is only 75% of the installed power, so you can build 130% power without loosing energy, 200 % installed power only give 20% waste (need for storage or thermal conversion)! 8% of the wind power in Germany is baseload, each increase of FLH improve the situation, check the last generation of Enercon turbines, 7.5 MW with 3000 FLH onshore, this with production costs of below 8 cents. Larger groups of countries are in a much better situation, France to Poland would be my model.

Reduction of PV inverters to 70% (of panel power) produced 3-6% loss of PV-electricity production in Germany, that without any small storage. With small storage (battery) it would be possible to reduce the inverter to less than 50%, no peak problem.

The maximum power you can expext from wind in Germany is only 75% of the installed power, so you can build 130% power without loosing energy,

It is tiring that you repeat this when I pointed out the flaw of your argument in another thread. Demand varies, so you cannot build 130% and not waste anything!

You do not get it: Of course you can build 130 %, because not all production sites are in sync! Best is 75%! With better distribution of the turbines this number would decrease! You can even build simple models for this question and get good useful answers with highschool math, what is your problem?

Of course you need other source to provide the rest of energy, fast coal and NG power plants are available.
Serious studies come to the same conclusion, I get from analysing actual wind production data. Theese additional plants causes financial burdens, however, as many of them are already written off, this is acceptable.

This is excactly the reason why no new NG plants are build, we have already enough fast power. Suddenly, coal plants are almost as fast as NG plants, this should tell you something about the value of statements by the utilities in the past, they perform a PR u-turn. Now production gap any longer (despite 50 TWh less nuclear electricity) and constant contribution of coal,.... :-)

You do not get it: Of course you can build 130 %, because not all production sites are in sync! Best is 75%!

You said best is 75% of installed power, i.e. 1.3*0.75 = 97.5%. I assume this is 97.5% of average demand. But sometimes demand is 60% of average and if you have best wind then, you lose almost 40% of the wind output! If you mean something else, please specify!

To me it seems Germany's wind expansion have stalled, as have other double digit wind-penetration-countries in Europe. France did 75% nuclear in less than two decades. Germany has had a decade already with renewables. Will they be done in another decade or when?

French nuclear only works with 10% hydro, 4 GW pumped storage (+1 GW in Luxembourg and many GW in Switzerland) and because they sell their late night power at a severe discount.

The Germans are already selling their winter wind to France to keep the lights on (NOT at a discount) and may soon be selling their mid-day solar as well in the summer.

So the French success is quite qualified. It would simply not work if France were an island.


It seems France's gross electricity imports is around 2-3% of consumption. So I think your conclusion is flawed, they should easily be able to do some additional biomass or some imported gas to fix this, if it weren't cheaper and better to use the european grid.

OTOH, Denmark's paltry 20% wind seems to require enormous imports/exports.

The loss in the past was according to German data I have seen around 3% of electricity production by wind, usually caused by not sufficient transmission capacities. Up to 40% renewables, there is no loss expected with available storage facilities and sufficient transmission capacities.

Between 40% reneables and 80% the storage issue becomes more important, this will be our problem after 2020.

Wind has "stalled" because 2010 was a bad wind year, (2009 we produced more energy with less power and 2011 with 7% more power we got 25% more electricity compared to 2010), if you check the net increase of wind power 2007-2011 and the added production this gives a linear graph. However, the 1.5 GW per year added on-shore wind power are IMHO not enough, we should build ~2 GW p.a.

My bet is Germany will miss the primary energy reduction of 50% until 2050 and will reach 60-65% renewable electricity production around 2030, not earlier. We still see increasing industrial production and a higher number of households, immigration may also further increase due to euro crisis resulting in a higher electricity demand. The real unknown factor is the German demography.


You completely fail to understand utility operations.

21 GW of pumped storage should be more than enough to balance 60 GW of installed wind and 75 GW of installed solar PV. Rough guess is that <5% of renewable power will need to be spilled.

Add dispatchable hydro and demand management.


What you claim is so ridiculous I don't even know where to begin. Your combo will sometimes output 10 GW and sometimes 100 GW. How can you balance this with 21 GW dispatchable power that holds only one hour of max output? It's simply insane. From where do you get these ideas?


Most of the renewable energy is predicted and feed into the grid as part of dispatch. Any under projections are made up by pumped storage. Any overages (assuming one cannot simply throttle back coal or NG) goes into pumped storage.

If renewables are > 100% of demand, then the energy surplus above 100% of demand is stored in pumped storage till full.

The errors in prediction for 60 GW wind and 75 GW solar are quite likely to be consistently < 10 GW an hour ahead of time.

And sometimes, at a windy 3 AM, a few % of wind energy is spilled (assuming no chemical plant or refinery need for H2 & O2 from hydrolysis).

Use NG and coal to fill gaps in renewables that pumped storage cannot fill.


Sigh indeed. Weather predictions... You seem to think this is about balancing hourly supply and demand. It is not. It is about weekly and monthly variations in supply. You should be able (with a lot of investments in grids) to balance this with lots and lots of coal and gas. Pumped hydro, however, is irrelevant for this purpose.

The peak miss predictions in Germany were +- 5GW for PV and +5GW - -7GW for wind in 2012 so far. So for 60GW wind and 75GW PV, the peak miss predictions would be slightly above 10GW. But I think those are day-ahead predictions, not hour-ahead.

A scatter plot of prediction vs actual production for wind, PV (and conventional) can be found in http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/downloads/pdf-files/aktuelles/stromprodu...

jeppen, please take a look at apmon's link. Check the graph on page 9 showing the energy generated per month for both solar and wind. They compliment each other well enough to smooth their individual variations over the span of a month. There is another graph farther down that shows their combined output with apparently daily resolution. 10 GW of pumped hydroelectricity with a few days of storage would smooth that nicely.

Looks fairly nice, but I want a full year to draw conclusions.

You won't need to balance that completely for a long time.

Taking Germany once again as an example: They have 30GW of PV and 30GW of wind installed. That results in 5% PV coverage and 10% wind coverage for a total of 25% renewable (of which 15% are Wind + PV).So far the maximum combined PV+wind generation has barely exceeded the 30GW. As the minimum of conventional production in Germany so far was at 22.3GW at 5:00 on the 17th July 2012 (i.e. during the night with no PV), one can basically double wind and PV to 60GW each before exceeding 100% of power usage. That corresponds to 30% Wind+PV or 40% total renewables before you have to pump up any water in pumped storage. If you throw away a couple % of PV and wind, you can probably push that quite a bit further (although I haven't seen any reliable studies on that).

Balancing power over a European grid, will allow you to increase penetration probably by another couple of % without the need for storage.

So you can nearly reach 50% penetration of renewables with the right mix, before you have to worry about any significant quantity of storage. (Up to that point you can therefore use your pumped storage to reduce load gradients on your conventional power plants, but you don't need it for storage of renewables).

Furthermore, the power output of wind + PV on a monthly basis is surprisingly stable. Power output varied between 5.6TWh in February 2012 and 7.6TWh in January. For most of the month it was rather tightly around 6TWh / month. This shows that Wind + PV is quite nicely anti-correlated.

After that storage does become crucial and a pretty big issue. But if every country reaches the 50% renewable target, I think a lot would have been achieved. So lets cross the bridge of storage once we actually get there.

At the moment the opposite is actually the issue. The various pumped hydro plants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are complaining that they can no longer operate economically, as PV has taken out most of the peak power usage during the day, when they used to sell lignite and nuclear power that they bought cheaply during the night.

A very nice summery of data for Germany on PV, wind and conventional power supply can be found at:

Yesterday's renewable generation in California can be downloaded from here.


Multiple solar by x2.5 vs. wind and you would get a pretty good load following with the two combined. Add a little pumped storage to even things out (weak at 8 AM)

Rough guess - multiple wind by x16, solar by x40, keep hydro and their two operating nukes (two CA nukes are off-line for years - or forever. Nukes are unreliable that way), add 7 GW pumped storage and California could have operated off 100% renewable (or at least non-carbon) electricity yesterday.


Wow! Looking at a number of days from that page, PV and wind are remarkably anti-correlated on an hour by hour basis in California!

You appear to get a wonderful dip in wind power just when PV produces its power. The combination "nearly" looks like base power!

If the last couple of days are in any way representative for the rest of the year, storage looks like much less of an issue in California than anywhere else I have seen so far.

Why does California not get the majority of its energy from renewables? With those resources, it should be able to get it very cheap.

California doesn't allow the older "large" hydro plants to be counted as renewables. IIRC these are something like 20-30% (a lot imported from the Pacific Northwest). Add in the 30% target, and you will be around 50%. And point of use solar (about 1.2GW on rooftops) doesn't count either! So the picture is a lot better than the headline numbers indicate.

I picked "yesterday' because wind and solar are so nicely offset. Almost any day would work in California with a few exceptions.

If one balloons up solar (2.5x wind), then one gets not base load, but a fairly good match with the demand curve.

Add dispatchable hydro (small & large) plus a bit of pumped storage and it all works quite nicely :-)

Best Hopes for California renewables,


PS: California wind potential may only be 3x or 4x existing. They may have to import wind from other states.

What you imply demands that Germany shuts down all nuclear and then provides extreme load following from coal + ng, and I guess that's why Germany is building modern fossil plants like mad right now. It seems wind + PV is making continued fossil use guaranteed and profitable.

And btw, two months of data is too little to draw conclusions. This is my own quickly thrown together graph of Swedish wind data from 2011, normalized to average 1. Swedish nuclear performance (separately normalized) has been awful lately, mainly due to problems with upratings, but as you can see it is still far superior even to a monthly smoothed wind.

Btw, you'll have to wait a long time indeed for 50% renewables in Germany. Any bets?

The combination would output 175 Gw with maximum wind and sunlight coinciding and the pumped storage facilities full.

I am guessing Japan's hydroelectric system holds more than 1 hour of maximum output.

Because the system uses less power at night than in the day, the 75 GW of PV is not needed at night.

The wind turbines would be spread over the entire island of Japan reducing the likelihood of zero or maximum power output.

My guess is that Alan's configuration would guarantee 20 GW at night and above 40 GW during the day. A typhoon might be able to cover the entire island with clouds and shut down the wind turbines from excessive wind simultaneously. It would be a power outage which is common during such storms due to damaged power lines.

Given the dimensions of Japan, that the best wind is in Hokkaido on the north coast (too far north for typhoons), I simply cannot see any weather patterns that would zero out all renewables.

Cloudy days significantly reduce solar PV, but not to zero.

Far more likely is an event that would shut down all of Japan's nuclear power plants for months at a time than an event that would shut down all of Japan's renewables for one minute.


'As EdF has shown, nukes cannot be ramped up & down in any useful way. EdF just turns them on & off (off on weekends, Spring & Fall).'

I find it baffling that people make absolute statements without doing the needed research to find out what they are talking about.
This can only expose the fact that their opinions are unfounded and the product of prejudice, not knowledge and reason.

Present US were built as baseload, not to be ramped up and down, and the reactors in EDF are indeed partly controlled by switching them off, although in a reactor fleet the size of that in France with 60 reactors this still provides a surprising level of control of output.
In addition, you clearly have not studied the alternative methods of ramping which are used in France:

'So to minimise these impacts for the last 25 years EdF has used in each PWR reactor some less absorptive "grey" control rods which weigh less from a neutronic point of view than ordinary control rods and they allow sustained variation in power output. This means that RTE can depend on flexible load following from the nuclear fleet to contribute to regulation in these three respects:

1. Primary power regulation for system stability (when frequency varies, power must be automatically adjusted by the turbine),
2. Secondary power regulation related to trading contracts,
3. Adjusting power in response to demand (decrease from 100% during the day, down to 50% or less during the night, etc.)

PWR plants are very flexible at the beginning of their cycle, with fresh fuel and high reserve reactivity. But when the fuel cycle is around 65% through these reactors are less flexible, and they take a rapidly diminishing part in the third, load-following, aspect above. When they are 90% through the fuel cycle, they only take part in frequency regulation, and essentially no power variation is allowed (unless necessary for safety). So at the very end of the cycle, they are run at steady power output and do not regulate or load-follow until the next refueling outage. RTE has continuous oversight of all French plants and determines which plants adjust output in relation to the three considerations above, and by how much.

RTE's real-time picture of the whole French system operating in response to load and against predicted demand shows the total of all inputs. This includes the hydro contribution at peak times, but it is apparent that in a coordinated system the nuclear fleet is capable of a degree of load following, even though the capability of individual units to follow load may be limited.'

Plants being built today, eg according to European Utilities' Requirements (EUR), have load-following capacity fully built in'


Here is a full study of load following in modern nuclear plants:

To meet European regulations, which both the AP1000 and the EPR do, they must be capable of daily cycling from 50-100% of rated power, at a rate of 5% per minute.

I have analyzed (TEDIOUS) a number of days for EdF (demand & nuke generation) and, with one exception, have found an amazing non-correlation between the two.

Highest nuke generation hour is the 9th highest demand hour.
Highest demand hour is the 11th highest nuke generation hour.

The magnitude of the delta in nuke generation is very small compared to the magnitude of delta in demand (range 5x to 11x in the days I studied)

EdF does not have load following nukes, in any reasonable use of the term. I looked at the data - NOT at their claims.

I find it baffling that people make absolute statements without doing the needed research to find out what they are talking about.
This can only expose the fact that their opinions are unfounded and the product of prejudice, not knowledge and reason.

You are frustrated because your case cannot be supported by the real world. So you make spurious ad hominem attacks.

I can rattle off over a dozen financial meltdown nukes in 90 seconds of typing - I have down tedious matching between nuke generation & demand for several days - I know about the financial meltdown in Finland, etc. etc.

And then you make that ad hominem attack ?

Lets build all the nukes that are economic in the USA. Zero gov't subsidies, raise Price-Andersen limits for all nukes (current and new) to $50 billion (the major Re-insurance companies can issue such policies, but not much higher) and just let your supposedly economic nukes do their best in a free market.

'"a high penetration of renewables depends absolutely on the continuing burn of massive quantities of fossil fuels."

BS !! Just as true for fixed production nukes as renewables.'

You really need to study some of the fundamentals on how the grid works.

Using a medium sized European country as an example, for instance Germany, baseload (ie the minimum ever required) is around 20GW and occurs during the day in the summer.

The solar park now approaches that in capacity, so you have knocked out all baseload, as the coal and gas plants now can't be amortised over all the hours.

It is reasonable, although expensive, to imagine that enough storage can be provided to cover the needs at other hours of the day and night, and this option applies both to solar and nuclear.
However clearly the costs are way lower for nuclear, as it will continue churning out the same 20GWe day and night, so even in the summer the storage needs for that option are way lower, and as delt with previously there is absolutely no reason why nuclear plants can't be ramped according to demand, although of course this increases amortisation costs.
You have no such option with solar, and if the sun is not shining you have had it.

Clearly if there is an BS around it is in your claimed parity between the nuclear and renewables, in this case solar, in support needs.

Things get really interesting in the depths of winter though, where at the latitude of Germany your expensive solar arrays would provide maybe 5% of rated output, or 1GW, leaving a 19GW hole in baseload to be made up with fossil fuels.
Meanwhile in the winter nuclear plants would be chugging happily along, so the only extra demand would be for the peak load, not baseload.

In Europe wind tends to be higher in the winter than in the summer, so at another huge expense it might be possible to cover some of the deficit with that.
Week long lulls with cold, still weather often occur though, and there is no way at all, if you actually do the maths, that storage can cover that.

So as yet another vast expense you have to back up the wind.

Even if you did the same with nuclear, and used a combination of wind and fossil fuels as back up, you have 19WGe which you don't need to back-up as opposed to the renewables option.

In fact, with in particular the use of electric cars the amount of baseload is likely to increase relative to peak demand, and so nuclear could cover a great deal more.

The other factor is that renewables bump up the price of electricity so far that no-one in their right mind uses electricity for heating.
They switch to gas, keeping fossil fuel burn high.

In France in contrast air source heat pumps are being rapidly installed, so that even more of the fossil fuel load will be eliminated.

There is no basis at all for your claim that the fossil fuel load as a result of renewables is as low as that from nuclear power.

But a good discussion would require that we work with hard data:

By far the most important "green" contribution to the German gross electricity production comes from wind and will come from wind in the next decades, and wind can deliver baseload with relatively small storage facilities, so why your PV focus? The second largest contribution comes from biomass and biogas, both deliver baseload, or better, are combined with wind and PV (=baseload)! The THIRD largest reneable is now PV. :-)

France is a good example, how a perfect baseload in combination with stupid demand peaks caused real problems during the winter 2011/12 and were interestingly compensated by German wind power, thank you for this great example! :-)
BTW why is France building mopre wind power, if nuclaer is so cheap?

If you check German prices for electricity and natural gas, then it is painfully obvious, that in modern buildings a good heat pump (air source heat pumps are not a good solution) is the cheapest way to produce heat. BTW almost 80% of new flats in France use direct electric heating (thats's exactly the reason for the winter demand peaks, there, your arguments goes. :-)

nuclear, as it will continue churning out the same 20GWe day and night

Or zero GWe for years, day & night.

See Japan, Southern California and New Brunswick for current examples.

100% of all nuclear power needs either 1) back-up FF and/or 2) a massive conservation program to back up every MWh one might hope that they will produce.

Nuclear power is simply not "firm capacity".


Nuclear doesn't need 100% backup unless you only have one reactor. There is no question that New Brunswick is really hurting from the extended shutdown of Lepreau. This was a major source of power generation that would largely have to be replaced with imported power. The cost of the refurbishment is also a big burden for a province with such a small population.

It's quite a different story in Ontario which has a total of 20 Candu reactors. Of these, 2 are out of service with no plans for refurbishment, 2 are being refurbished and the remaining 16 are operational. Presumably, the two units being refurbished will be back in service before the project to refurbish the four units at Darlington begins in a few years.

Not quite true.

Southern California Edison lost both of their reactors due to a common design fault.

Japan has lost all but one reactor to another common design fault (they are all nukes).

France lost all of their N4 reactors due to a common design fault.

The UK should have shut down their reactors - all Magnox - due to a common design fault (they did not, economics > safety).

After Chernobyl, all RBMK (?) type reactors should have been shut down.

I question leaving any GE Mark 1 reactors operating after Fukushima.

etc. etc.

One reason I want some EPRs built here - to avoid 100% of the nukes being AP-1000s.


"nuclear, as it will continue churning out the same 20GWe day and night"

While it's running. There is a 6 week shutdown every 18 months for refueling. So one of every 12 will be down for refueling at a given time.

How about we go on a solar panel binge instead? Roofing, coverings over parking lots, railways (such as they are doing in Germany), highways, etc. first and then maybe large solar farms out in the desert. We have the technology. There is no long term radioactive waste and no risk of turning solar cells into nuclear bombs. Cost per kWh are cheaper than nukes. And there is no water requirement, compared with nukes.

I wonder that the US doesn't - Germany, which on the whole is a lot less sunny - is now up to 29 GW of installed solar PV (that's another 2.5 GW approx in Q2 2012).

They plan to run it up to 52 GW before abolishing subsidies (and might reach that by 2014).

As a lot of German electricity consumption is in the middle of the working day, having solar PV means that for part of the year at least they don't need to switch on conventional plants to power offices, schools, etc.

People always say 'but the sun doesn't shine at night' but at night isn't when the power is needed!

Cost per kWh are cheaper than nukes.

Marginal cost, you mean. Total cost of PV electricity is like 5 times higher, and the value is less at high penetrations.

Wheels come off Chariot Oil again as second well comes up dry


but it's not all bad as they encountered source rock:-)

Also Apache/Tullow's Mbawa offshore Kenya well has found some gas but no oil so far. These are very expensive wells. Tullow's ultra-deepwater Jaguar well in Suriname had to be plugged recently at a cost if I remember correctly of about $100m, the pressure they were encountering was too dangerous.

A lot of wells going forward, being offshore, will be make or break for the smaller explorers, and enough dusters can sap the strength even of mid range companies like Cairn.

mass - Mother Earth has never made it easy and never will. This did catch my eye: ""Whilst the results from Kabeljou are disappointing, the fact that we encountered source rock within this well is important." Very telling if I'm reading it correctly. This wasn't just an exploratory well but what we loosely call a "rank wildcat". There was insufficient data to indicate whether hydrocarbons were ever generated in this area let alone trapped in commercial quantities. I recall decades ago a well was drilled offshore Alaska. Not only did they not find oil but geochemical analysis indicated that the conditions needed for the generation of oil had never occurred in this area. Thus this one well wiped out all speculative potential others had assumed.

These wells, or dry holes, are in offshore Namibia in case anyone is interested.
Chariot Oil & Gas plugs and abandons Kabeljou well, shares plummet 60pct

Chariot Oil & Gas (LON:CHAR) plummeted this morning after announcing that it will plug and abandon the Kabeljou exploration well targeting the Nimrod prospect in Southern Block 2714A offshore Namibia.
The well has now reached its total depth of 3,150 metres and preliminary logging results showed that no commercial hydrocarbons were found.

Haven't we been hearing a lot about better exploration methods leading to fewer dry holes?
Repsol shows the future of offshore exploration with more powerful and detailed seismic imaging

—Repsol needed to augment its seismic imaging capabilities to reduce the risk of drilling “dry holes” and shorten the time to “first oil.”

Ron P.

Ron - That's the thing about exploring in a new basin. You can have the best seis in the world and clearly image every potential hydrocarbon trap. But if the grease hasn't been generated then every potential trap will yield a dry hole. In a case like this you have to get chunks of the rocks out of the well to know if you have any chance along those lines.

Quick tale about that process: back in the 70's a "stratigraphic test well" was drilled offshore US east coast. All the big oil companies participated and paid a share of the cost. The feds donated a free lease but picked one that had virtually no trap potential. The sole purpose what to get shale samples to test for hydrocarbon generation. As they drilled they did the geochemical analysis and every test came back: "No analysis possible. Sample contaminated." The drilling contractor (who wasn't paying for any part of the well) was putting diesel in the drill mud to make it easier to dig. Mobil Oil complained and I read the response from the drilling company. Essentially said it was up to them to decide how to drill the well so sit down and shut up. LOL. Needless to say the answer as to whether hydrocarbons were generated in this area remained unanswered at that time.

Just one little part of the answer as to how we've ended up in the mess we're in.

I remember many years ago, when Petro-Canada was government owned, the president of the company talking on national television at great length about the exciting structures they had found with seismic on Ellesmere Island - the Canadian Arctic Island closest to the North Pole. (The few people living there could only get two radio stations, and they were both Russian.)

He said they were much like the huge oil-bearing structures in Saudi Arabia. Well, Petro-Can drilled them, and a fundamental difference was found. The structures in Saudi Arabia are full of oil, the ones in Ellesmere Island are full of water. We in the private sector started calling them "Petro-Can't" because they couldn't find oil.

You really shouldn't start talking about what's down under the ground until you sink at least one well into it to test it. Before you do, you really don't know whats there. Apparently the Canadian government didn't know that.

It was a learning experience for the government and after a few more multi-billion dollar boo-boos like that, they sold it into the private sector, where it did relatively better. At least it didn't cost the taxpayers any more money.

Besides the usual wisdom that to find oil you need a trap, a source, and a reservoir, you also need a another thing: timing. That is to say the trap had to be in existance at the time the oil was generated and migragted from the source.

There are examples of beautiful traps, with good reservoir sands, adjacent to good mature source rocks. The trouble is that the folding that created the traps didn't happen until well after the source rocks reached maturity and generated oil. The oil was formed, expelled from the source rock, and migrated off to somewhere else, long before the trapping configuration existed.

Oh well....another duster.


Namibian Operations

Chariot is well positioned with our blocks situated in three geologically distinct settings:

- The “Northern blocks” in the Namibe Basin, located north of the Walvis Ridge
- The “Central blocks” straddling the Luderitz/Walvis Basins
- The “Southern blocks” in the Orange Basin

The Namibe Basin forms part of the prolific West African “salt basin”, bounded to the south by the Walvis ridge. Prior to the Atlantic Ocean opening, the Namibe Basin lay adjacent to the Santos Basin of Brazil, in which recent super-giant oil discoveries have been made. The Luderitz and Walvis Basins are virtually unexplored with only four wells drilled to date, in an area similar in size to the prolific UK North Sea Central Graben, where hundreds of exploration wells have been drilled. The Orange Basin contains the very large delta of the Orange River system and also hosts the giant Kudu gas field.

Kabeljou-1 is 100 km south-west of Luderitz, near the Orange Basin.


aardi - Good to remember a stat I read years ago: though there had been earlier discoveries, the first major N. Sea oil field discovery was made by the 93rd well drilled in the basin. Even with the much improved seismic it can still take quite a while to figure out what's going on.

The discovery of oil and gas at Ekofisk, on the Norwegian part of the continental shelf, is a good illustration of this. Initial seismic studies began in the early 1960s and offshore drilling began around 1966 with Esso's first well on block 8/3. By mid 1969 32 wells had been drilled offshore Norway with no commercial discoveries, and the chief geologist who famously had said he would drink all the crude oil found in Norwegian waters was looking pretty smug.

At the time Phillips Petroleum had an ongoing obligation to drill one more well on their original 1965 concession. They were in no hurry to drill this and the decision from head office was to delay drilling. However, the drill rig, Ocean Viking, was under contract and despite efforts to sublease the rig, Phillips could find no takers, so a decision was made to go ahead and drill the 2/4-1 well - the discovery well for the super-giant Ekofisk field and the first commercial discovery on the Norwegian shelf. Coincidentally, the Phillips' geologist on that rig was a Mr. Max Melli, who was my boss when I first stared out working in this business, many years later.

A history of this discovery can be found here.

That brings up the story of Vern "Dry Hole" Hunter, who after WWII drilled 132 consecutive dry holes in Canada for Imperial Oil. However, seismic had been introduced, and in Alberta there were a lot of peculiar anomalies on the charts. On the 133 hole, the geologists told Vern to drill into one of these anomalies to see what it was. It was the Leduc Reef - the first big oil discovery in Canada, which produced over 300 million barrels of oil.

Old geologists still weep when they remember it. The Leduc Reef was one of hundreds of Devonian Reefs, and many of them were bigger. For the previous 50 years they could have found considerably more oil by drilling wells completely at random than by following their theories. The investors in Gulf Oil were particularly bitter because Gulf had given up drilling and sold all its Alberta leases to other companies just 6 months before Leduc #1 blew in.

Leduc No. 1

Geologic breakthrough
The discovery at Leduc was actually a stroke of good fortune, as geologists chose the location on the basis of theories that were later shown to be incorrect.

Just to keep geologists confused, the biggest oil field in Alberta - Pembina - is not a Devonian Reef but a Cretaceous Sandstone. Several companies drilled right through the Pembina Sand, looking for deeper reefs, before someone noticed on the well logs that there was oil there.

I've probably mentioned the story of "Dry Hole" Hunter and Leduc #1 before, but it's worth repeating to keep the geologists from becoming overconfident in their theories.

OK...one more old fart geologist story but I'll make it short. Many decades ago a long time Houston independent was broke...again. Actaully had folks hunting for him around town to force him to pay debts. Had a prospect in La. ready to go but driller wouldn't spud until paid up front. He snuck out of town at 2 AM with $200,000 his momma gave him. Paid the driller and then dug his hole which discovered one of the largest salt dome fields in La. Made $billion in today's dollars.

Must have had a lot of faith in his geologist's map, right? Nope...didn't even have a map. He had always wanted to drill a well on this dome. How did he pick his drill site? It was the only mineral owner out there who would give him a free lease. True story told to me by his grandson. As they say sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart. At least it's a lot less work.

Droughts and heat waves can force thermal power plants AND hydroelectric to shut down more and more often as the world heats up, as confirmed over and over by reports from among others some links above. Seems to me "waterless" wind turbines and PV should be scaled massively up if nothing more than to mitigate this. And yet we have a presidential candidate and his fossil fuel crony backers who do not understand this and that a proper incentive plan for wind and PV is in fact a very good idea. Fellow TOD choir members please remember this if you think it makes no difference who you vote for in November if you are a US voter.

Bombs Kill 34 in Iraq, Including 14 in Oil-Producing Region (Uptop)

The total death count is closer to 100 from what I've read.
Iraq is veering from bad to worse.

The day after the Americans officially left Iraq, the ruling prime minister, a Shia, initiated a court indictment of his #2 man, a Sunni VP.

Both have dirt on their hands, so nobody is innocent, but it's still quite amazing that he only waited a single day before trying to oust his rival.

Now this matters a lot because Iraq is 35 % Sunni and 65 % Shia.
The Middle East is mostly Sunni, with the exception of Iran, which is Shia.

After these attacks, the Sunni VP - who had gone into hiding first into the Northern areas of where what you might call 'Kurdistan' is - and now he's in Turkey - was sentenced to death by hanging in a sham trial.

He's one of the primary leaders of all Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

The Shia PM, al-Maliki, is widely believed to be consolidating power. Some believe, not without reason, that he's aiming to become a new Saddam.

Saddam himself was Sunni and it created a lot of resentment since most of Iraqis were Shia but were ruled by a Sunni dictatorship. It's a similar situation in Bahrain today, where Saudi Arabia props up a Sunni regime ruling over a majority Shia population.

If al-Maliki is too aggressive then the Sunnis will be backed into a corner. They may have a minority of the population, but where they are most numerous is also where most of the oil is.

And unlike Saudi's minorites, they are considerable in numbers. If they revolt, we don't have a case of the state stamping down.

We have a case of civil war.

And that is precisely what a lot of people are fearing. The central government in Iraq is already very angry with the Kurds who have been very bold in their strive for independence.

Now it's sentencing one of the top Sunni leaders to death.
The Shias already control all the major security ministries of the government(the ministry of the interior, the police, the intelligence department etc).

When it comes to raw power, it's already a Shia government with Sunni and Kurdish topping for effect.

Things could escalate very quickly, not least because Iran doesn't want to lose Iraq.
Syria is the only other place with a Shia government, and there the situation is like in Bahrain - but reverse.

If - and I think when - Syria falls, Iran will only have Iraq. So they will backstop the Shia government in it's persecution of the opposition because otherwise they will become completely isolated in the region.

To add to this, the Sunni al-Qaida is back in Iraq, and they could easily have had a hand in the latest attack.

Iraq is, in short, starting to boil down into a meltdown in slowmotion.

Svamp, this is precisely what was predictable (I predicted it, at least) from the first day of the Iraq war... we might be able to 'pacify' the country, but the day we left the country would go into (un)civil war. It is, after all, not a true 'nation,' but rather a directive by the victors after WWI (the first oil war), dividing up the oil fields between their friends, with no regard to nationhood, tribal claims, or much of anything else.

Imperial hubris...


Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Day Iraq

"As Britain's colonial secretary in the 1920s, Winston Churchill made a mistake with calamitous consequences. Scholar and adviser to Tony Blair's government, Christopher Catherwood chronicles and analyzes how Churchill created the artificial monarchy of Iraq after World War I, thereby forcing together unfriendly peoples under a single ruler. The map of the Middle East that Churchill created led to the rise of Saddam Hussein and the wars in which American troops fought in 1991 and 2003. Defying a global wave of nationalistic sentiment, and the desire of subject peoples to rule themselves, Winston Churchill put together the broken pieces of the Ottoman Empire and created a Middle Eastern powder keg. Inducing Arabs under the rule of the Ottoman Turks to rebel against their oppressors, the British and French during World War I convinced the Hashemite clan that they would rule over Syria. In fact, Britain had promised the territory to the French. To make amends, Churchill created the nation of Iraq and made the Hashemite leader, Feisel, king of a land to which he had no connections at all. Eight pages of photographs add to this fascinating history on Churchill's decision and the terrible legacy of the Ottoman Empire's collapse."


All because the Brits and French lied to an Arab leader, and to make up for it they invented a country for him to rule. Fascinating. History IS important

Best Hopes for the People.

If anyone is interested, there are a couple of other good books on this era:

"A PEACE TO END ALL PEACE: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922" by David Fromkin

"Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia" by Michael Korda
(Lawrence was a key player, and one of the few Brits who could even begin to understand the complexities of the Middle East. Had his friend Churchill paid more attention to Lawrence's ideas, things might have worked somewhat better in the long run.)

NPR was reporting (unironically, no connection to our historic role) about how dysfunctional Iranian politics continue to be right now. If it was a call-in show, I would be sore tempted to ask them what the effect of Nationalizing all their Oil resources might have on their political prospects.

Oh well.. this much raw power running around.. it was bound to create a mess, I think. We have culpability, just like a dog is culpable for yanking a hot, juicy ham off the dining room table. It may be his fault, but did he really have a choice in the matter? (I'm sounding a little like Darwinian today..)

It may be his fault, but did he really have a choice in the matter? (I'm sounding a little like Darwinian today..)

No, you are not sounding like Darwinian at all. I am sure you are referring to my position on free will. But you have it all wrong. You always have a choice! It is just that the choices you make are determined by your heredity and your environment.

Discover Sam Harris But I did not get my ideas from him. I was a determinist when he was still in grade school.

de·ter·min·ism  noun
1. the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws.
2. the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes.

But I am not sure as far as all events are concerned. There may be true randomness in nature, at the quantum level, I don't really know. My position only applies to acts of the human will.

Ron P.

I was counting on you to take a principled, definitive stand to the contrary! History still rhymes!

(I know you had a choice in the matter.. AND, the choice you made followed your nature.)

Did you choose or did you react? Naturally, like with the Dog and the Ham, or the US and Mossadeq, the question is essentially rhetorical, since it's a wily blend of the two.

"Character is destiny" Heraclitus

(I know you had a choice in the matter.. AND, the choice you made followed your nature.)

No, it seems you still don't understand. Your nature is only half the equation. Everything that ever happened to you in your past is the other half. Your genes and your environment. That is what you are because there is nothing else.

Of course, you can argue with the proposition that all we are is knobs and turnings, genes and environment. You can insist that there’s something...something MORE. But if you try to visualize the form this something would take, or articulate it clearly, you’ll find the task impossible, for any force that is not in the genes or the environment is outside of physical reality as we perceive it. It’s beyond scientific discourse.
- Robert Wright, "The Moral Animal"

If you were to argue that there is something about yourself that was not there as a result of either your genetic makeup or something in your past, your education, your experiencing of the world, I have no idea what that would be. It would be beyond scientific discourse.

Ron P.

You are right about the fact that it's beyond scientific discourse but to say that we are all genes and environment is highly arrogant when we don't even understand the true nature of intelligence and moreover even if it is a deterministic system the almost infinite sets of possibilities make it as good as a random system. It's a purely archaic and academic concept that has no consequences on reality. For all we know true intelligence could be fundamental quantity. Roger Penrose has written about this in his book The Emperors New Mind

You throw the word "arrogant" around without any justification whatsoever. I find your use of the word highly offensive and insulting. You could have disagreed with me without being insulting.

For all we know true intelligence could be fundamental quantity.

What on earth does that mean? If there is something else in the makeup of the human psyche other than genes and environment, nature and nurture, then it would behoove you to tell just what it is. Then and only then can you call me arrogant for claiming there is nothing else.

The true nature of intelligence is not part of the equation. We can debate what percent of intelligence is nature and what part is nurture, but we cannot debate that it is not either one or the other, or both. No one in the world of medical science or psychology has ever suggested that it was something other than a combination of the two. Not even the book on artificial intelligence you suggested does that.

I do not believe in freedom of will. Schopenhauer's words, 'Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants', accompany me in all life situations and console me in my dealings with people, even those that are really painful to me. This recognition of the unfreedom of the will protects me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and judging individuals and losing good humour.
(Albert Einstein in Mein Glaubensbekenntnis, August 1932)
Philosophy Quotes on Free Will Chance and Determinism

Call Einstein arrogant if you will, or Schopenhauer or Darwin or Spinoza or... well I can name a few dozen great thinkers who were also determinists. Were they also arrogant?

Ron P.

I apologize if you feel insulted, that was not my intention, I guess the difference is cultural. Anyways there is nothing offensive or insulting about the term. It's frequently used in arguments without any personal insinuations of any kind. The term is meant to show that one is making claims without understanding the basics. Intelligence which in many cases is the driver of our actions is not well understood at all and that remains a fact. Nothing changes that. And Einstein merely expressed his opinion, it's not a gospel. Same is true with everyone else, these things are not scientific facts.

re: "...judging individuals..."

Approximate quote: "We tend to judge others by their actions - and ourselves by our intentions." (Schumacher).

re: That Einstein quote has long been a favorite of mine.

More recently, though, I like the idea of something that appears to be a type of "escape" from the dilemma E. describes, namely, the non-choice of motive. This idea cannot be an escape, of course, given the second definition (in your other post, Ron) of sufficient cause.

At the same time, it seems to me that the following is quite possible: I've mentioned before a "model" I like, references here: www.cnvc.org, www.gordontraining.com. (Also, we have the examples of meditation.) It may be possible to become more aware of motive, (posit "need" as driver of motive; posit "feelings" as indicators of "needs.")

Articulation of need can lead to additional options of ways to meet need. These options may arise via a process of directly addressing a particular situation via the underlying needs of people involved.

I suppose one could look at this as a way to increase the nurturing of the nature - provide an environment more conducive to values and outcomes we like. Of course, this latter phrase also carries a connotation of a way to bring a sense of...what would be the word...ethics? (Oh, dear)...some assumption here of universal value or values.

What part of 'A wily blend of the two' didn't translate? Don't worry, I know the answer, Ron.

It's funny how you can take my saying it's Both, And, and act as if I called it a stark Either/Or, so you have something to knock down.

Well.. it's sort of funny.

Sorry Bob if I misunderstood you. But nowhere in your post did you mention nurture or environment, so I could not know what "two" you were talking about. But you did mention "nature" and the term was unaccompanied by anything.

Ron P.

Fair enough, Ron.

You and my wife, two of the most literal people I know. It can be very tough discussing the 'soft' sciences between us intuitives and you literals.

When I said 'following your Nature', I didn't mean that purely as your genetic proclivities.. but assumed that in context, 'your nature' would be understood to mean 'All of What makes Ron Ron' etc..

Anyway.. no offense intended.. Vive la difference!

Its not quite as bad as a true civil war. Its not even as bad as when we were there supposedly to keep a lid on things. It is however NOT a pretty picture. But, the government doesn't appear to be seriously threatened.

Written by Svamp:
... Iran will only have Iraq. So they will backstop the Shia government in it's persecution of the opposition because otherwise they will become completely isolated in the region.

Are you suggesting that if Israel and U.S.A. attack Iran, then Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz to Iraqi oil tankers?

Yaay! Another side-effect of intensive farming! Can't get enough, personally.


Idiot humans.

Och, yer pansie! Can't stomach a little lice with yer fishy!

Here in Seattle, when you buy wild caught salmon directly from local fishing boats it's important to check for the presence of sea lice as an indicator that the fish were caught in the last couple of days. The lice eventually fall of when the fish are kept in storage for very long.

But I suppose too many lice in an aquaculture setting would be a bad thing.

Best hopes for well managed, wild fisheries. --> Save Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine!

wild salmon are a mainstay of our family diet. All wild fish have sea lice, or usually do. They always have, and I have caught them long before the first fish farms were established on our coast. Farmed fish get them from the environment, not the other way around. The difference is the crowding in net pens require pesticides (slice) to be used.

Our fish do not get treated other than at the time of cleaning we hose the lice off. Voila, pristine salmon fillets.

We also catch fish in our local river. The sea lice fall off in fresh water.


My favorite paragraph:

"The agency said it was not carrying out any studies into the impact of the chemicals on the marine environment, but added that there was no evidence of any cumulative damage from increasing use of pesticides."

mine too!

As someone noted in the comments section, of course there is no darn evidence if you are not looking for it.

As I said up top: Idiot Humans.

I am thinking of getting a bunch of T-shirts made up with the slogan: 'Humans are idiots'.

What about an 'I'm with Stupid' shirt, and an arrow pointing to a shot of the Earth.

The T-shirt I liked had a picture of the earth and the caption "Scotty, beam me up. There is no intelligent life on this planet.".

Expensive cities letting people sleep in cars

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A little known program born in Santa Barbara is highlighting a growing problem in wealthy enclaves of California -- people who have full-time jobs but cannot afford a place to live. Now, many of them include people who have full-time work but cannot cover housing costs in the expensive town.

and Full-Time Worker & Homeless

... they sleep in a county parking lot, joined by more than a dozen others who live in their cars. It's called the Safe Parking Lot Program. 114 spaces spread out across the county with a waiting list of more than 40.

Nancy Kapp with the New Beginnings program says, "I have senior citizens. I have couples. I have families." She also says a third of the people, have jobs but are under-employed.

other cities ...

City of Bremerton, WA Safe Park

San Diego, CA Safe Parking

Yes, here in San Francisco there are lots of people living in cars and vans. The cost of housing is high and there just aren't that many vacancies. For lots of people it's just a short term thing until they find a room to rent, but there are others that have lived here for years.

Many have started to realize that a quarter million $$$ (plus interest) for a house, coupled with every other crippling expense of maintenance etc. will be a perpetual anchor and a path to wage slavery until "death do us part". A very nicely outfitted van or large SUV at least affords some mobility and a hint of a light at the end of tunnel as far as actually paying it off...

As the saying goes - I'd rather spend on a car vs. a house because if I have to I can live in my car but I can't drive my house... (although an RV may be an exception - but then there are parking issues and it's much harder to be discrete than living out of your car).

a quarter million $$$ (plus interest) for a house, coupled with every other crippling expense of maintenance etc.

Here in California, a quarter million will buy you a starter home in the desert exurbs (Meth-otropolis) or central valley (agricultural Mexifornia). Most homes that are within a commutable range to a middle class job (and not in a ghetto-ized crime zone) will set you back half-a-million plus. A good house in a low crime neighbohood within an hour of work for a quarter million $ is a fantasy to most Californians.

Yep - I figured that was the case for a lot of areas. Quarter million is a drop in the bucket for many places on both coasts.

I used that figure because I was trying to be optimistic ;)


If I lived on the west coast, I'd be living on a sail boat in a local marina. As soon as things started to fall apart, I'd sail away to some islands to "sit things out". When the landlubber idiots had finished killing each other off I could come back and live safely and well along the coast again?

Have you watched the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead?


Much easier to live on semi-permanently, mobile, often can be pretty self sufficient, and surprisingly affordable when compared to the price of a house. The only downside is the maintenance costs can be high (buffeting and sea salt).

If I know my state, our valiant legislators will try to find a way to tax living in cars, as we cannot allow these people to become "free riders" on the system by not paying "their fair share" of taxes. Meanwhile, banks and mega corporations pay almost nothing in property taxes, thanks to Prop. 13 --they keep their inflation-un-adjusted 1979 tax basis intact by transferrring the title via various shell and holding companies. As one prominent "job creator" once said, "only the little people pay taxes".

I heard a "state of the economy" report on the radio out of NYC this morning.

First story was lamenting how the "consumer" economy was never going to get better given the wage stagnation that has occurred over the past _____ (fill in the blank for period of time - decade ? ok that sounds fine).

Next story - IMMEDIATELY following - was a cheerful announcement that apparently home prices had FINALLY turned the corner and were rising for good now...

No real increase in wages = bad... home prices increasing = good :|

The inability to make even the most obvious connections between these kinds of dots is complete willful ignorance and deception by the media - consistently broadcast to be lapped up by the majority of idiot listeners out there in radio land, IMHO.

I wish they would have gone for the trifecta and told us how expensive gas is the work of the evil oil companies and speculators while expensive houses are the real estate crime syndicate just looking out for your future...

I wish they would have gone for the trifecta and told us how expensive gas is the work of the evil oil companies and speculators while expensive houses are the real estate crime syndicate just looking out for your future...

Yup, and we've all seen numerous posts here about the former, even penned by "respected economists", while the latter seems to be a tacit and unchallenged article of faith by the general public. Years ago during the housing bubble, I saw a great post that compared real estate to a secular religion. The Church of Everlasting Appreciation, or some such. Rising home prices = wonderful thing, great for "everyone". Falling home prices = horrible depression-inducing disaster. "Like, an average salary can almost afford a 50-year-old fixer-upper out in Clownifornia's meth country. OMG!!! What can be done to remedy this awful state of affairs?"

The remedy is being delivered. Message not yet received, the locals continue to propagate the myth. I don't know what it is going to take before reality takes hold there.

I suppose, in retrospect, what it is going to take is a horrible depression? If so, it is undoubtely on the way.


This is what comes of treating properties as an "investment". Bad, bad idea. Not sustainable. Historically prices have of course been stable for generations, and this is what they will return to once society has gotten over our current growth phase.

Living in a van is relatively easy - it's possible to make one quite homey. Living in a car is more difficult, although a friend of mine in university lived in his Mustang. Fortunately he was a short guy.

A lot of grad students at university lived in their offices, and one student was found living in the steam tunnels under the campus. He had brought in a complete set of furniture and had quite a cozy setup - steam heated, after all.

On the West Coast, I know that some of the students at the University of British Columbia were living in the woods in black garbage bags. That seemed to be going a bit far, although it never really freezes in Vancouver. It does get awfully wet, though.

RMG, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I guess cry...

students at the University of British Columbia were living in the woods in black garbage bags.

Is this what we have to look forward to? Oh, wait! Garbage bags are plastic. Plastic is on the limits list. What choice will we then have?


Don't cry. Some people here (a resort town in the Canadian Rockies) are living in tents in the woods because they can't make enough working in restaurants to pay rent - and it gets much colder here than in Vancouver.

The thing is, it is a personal choice. They could choose to live somewhere where housing was cheaper and they could make enough serving tables to rent an apartment. They live here because they want to live here, and living in a tent seems like a reasonable choice because they are young and looking for adventure.

I've made similar personal choices in the past myself.

Yes. Tents, lean-to's, cabins are all good choices, especially in timbered areas. Adobe may be a good choice in years to come, here in Texas. It was before, after all.

The real choice-maker to me is the ability to raise sufficient food to support yourself and family (or have a trade that will enable barter for food). I'll be going with trade. Pots, dishes, etc., will be in demand; also simple wordwork [need to add to this one!). For those advising their youngsters, my suggestion to grandchildren of late is animal farming, veternarian, leather work (learn to do tack!), metal work and general sewing. Foot powered machines are more likely to sustain.

We do have a choice, and in many ways it will be exciting. Unfortunately, I'm of an age that change (a slow process) may not avail me. I do have hope for the grandkids though!

In the next few years we will be looking to move to mid-Michigan or northern Wisconsin, I suppose. Where there is land that has not been destroyed by chemicals, there is decent water and a few remaining trees... used to have a few acres there, with some native pine! Maybe I can buy it back. :>)


Some parts of it are personal choices, Rocky. Some parts of it are corporate choices.. some are banking choices, some are policy choices.

No, it's all personal choices. You can put up with corporation rules, bank rules, and policy rules. Or you can do what you want to do.

The bank's objective is to make money for the bank. If you want to make money for yourself, you have to do something different than what the bank wants you to do. If the bank can live with your rules, that is great, but if not you have to find your money elsewhere.

When I built the house I live in, the bank was difficult about mortgage rules, so I squeezed a few nickles and built it out of cash flow. It took me 20 years, but it's done and mortgage free.

Hopefully you don't have Hanta Virus (mouse feces born illness). There is a huge panic going on, as the premanent tent camp in Yosemite was infected, and 10-20,000 campers are getting notices that they could be at risk. So far three fatalities detected....

No, the hanta virus is spread by deer mice. I used to have a deer mouse problem but I put down a dozen traps, baited them with vegetarian cheese, brought in a pack of coyotes and a couple of pine marten to patrol the perimeter, and now they're gone. So, no risk of hanta virus here.

I knew one guy, who claimed he lived in a cave for a year while in school.

Living in a van is relatively easy - it's possible to make one quite homey

I've actually been seriously considering this, not for economic reasons, but mostly because I would really like to get out of the city for awhile and see some natural wonders before I'm either too old or too sick. I've lived in a dense urban environment with no car for a several decades now and I have developed an intense longing to see a starry night sky at least one more time.

Gas, maintenance, and insurance are like paying rent, so I'm under no illusion of saving tons of money, but it would be worth it to have the freedom. Not to mention good practice for self sufficiency skills without actually having to live in a tent. Water, waste, heat, light, food, cooking, refrigeration. All have to be completely self contained and as low maintenance as possible.

I've browsed some forums, do a search on "boondocking" for some interesting links. The biggest problem can just be finding a safe place to park, especially in small towns. Park in the wrong spot and you get the dreaded 2am tap on the window from the local cops. BLM allows long term parking on public lands for a month or two at a time, with the proper permits. State parks often have "tent" campsites which rally means a place to park and car camp, plus access to hot showers, but those can run $20 per night in season.

One resourceful fellow claimed he had no problem making deals with people to help keep an eye farms, ranches, construction sites, etc in exchange for a place to park for a few days.


" I've lived in a dense urban environment with no car for a several decades now and I have developed an intense longing to see a starry night sky at least one more time."

Do it, Jerry! Forget the virtual for a while, and partake of the actual... I have no idea where you are, but you can park here in NH at my place for a few days if you want. Nice dark skies full of stars, though the horizon is somewhat limited due to trees...

But if it's stars you're after, the desert SW can not be beat... Canyonlands NP in Utah is one of the last great places in that corner of the country.Best stars I've ever seen. (I'm a lifelong amateur astromer and stargazer.)

Thanks for the offer! I'm in Seattle so I have a lifetime of opportunity to tool around the Olympic and Cascade mountains, not to mention Oregon coast just south of here and Vancouver Island north of the border. A shame, really, that I haven't done more of that mainly due to my decision not to own a car.


I had a lot of fun up in your neck of the woods back in the 70's. The Olympic Peninsula ia an amazing place, and I have fond memories of various islands in the Sound, but especially Lopez Island. A good friend of mine from Bellingham knew a lot of people there, and we hung out and had a great time. For some reason the King Crab omelettes really stand out in my memory. :-) And the view of Mt. Baker.

At that time of my life, I was on the road much of the time, and lived out of a VW bug - not bus, bug. :-) Spent a lot of time in Arizona/Utah - I was a real canyon rat, just loved that country for some reason. Maybe it was the sense of deep time, or maybe the incredible night skies. My last road trip was in 2002 (10 years ago now! Ack!), spent mostly in Canyonlands, but also up in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. It was mid-Autumn, oh so sweet. For a number of reasons, I don't think I'll do anything like that again - it was a swan song, really...

But get out of the city! See the sky! Be in the forest! It is utterly priceless...

Just got back from climbing mount baker this weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect for a summit and you could see rainier out in the distance from the top. Mountain climbing is awesome.

Alas, my mountain climbing days are behind me, but I feel your ecstasy! :-)


I'm in NE WA. Still have property in the woods. Used to live there, 3500', wood and water, relative isolation, scenic. Give a shout. Have a son in the Seattle area.

I boondocked and fulltimed in a smallish motorhome for six years, Jerry, if there's anything you want to know. Miss it a lot sometimes. Class B rigs are a bit small though a smaller Class C can work. Overall costs were about what sharing a one room apt. in a moderate market would be, depending on your level of resourcefulness. Decent RV parks will negotiate monthly rates in their off season; nice to have the hookups occasionally. I spent a lot of nights in remote National Forrest undeveloped sites and BLM lands (boondocking). Hard to beat.

A small RV with a couple of PV panels, a good set of batteries and full water/propane tanks can be accommodating for weeks with careful management, especially if you have somewhere to dump and fill. KOA Campgrounds and some others used to charge just $5 to dump your tanks and fill with water. Some Interstate rest areas also have dump stations. Appearances mean a lot. If you are fairly well groomed and you have tight, clean rig (rather than looking like a 'gypsy'), even the cops will treat you well. Serious full time RVers rarely cause trouble.

I also spent a lot of time in VW Westfalia campers, especially in the military. Van campers are fine if you have a place to shower and go to the bathroom. One difference in a conversion van and a true RV is that you can claim the RV is your primary residence and have certain rights in many States. There are even services that establish your residence and forward your mail, etc., if you don't have friends or family that will allow that. A converted van is just another motor vehicle that can be searched, towed, etc., and insurance is structured differently. Fulltimer policies on RVs are very reasonable and comprehensive. If you crash and burn or get robbed in a conversion van, good luck getting reimbursed for your stuff.

Or better yet, load up a bicycle and head out. Finding a place to camp for the night is way easier when you don't have a four thousand pound monkey on your back. Sightseeing is much more rewarding when not restricted to 'scenic overlook' parking lots. I'm serious. It is fun and surprisingly easy.

I know Wall Mart was letting employees sleep in the parking lot.
The choice was, eat, or shelter.
Both was not an option.

People who have graduated to this 'style' of living will also discover another 'benefit' bestowed by their legislators ...

The 2002 federal Help America Vote Act requires any voter who registered by mail and who has not previously voted in a federal election to show current and valid photo identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.


Enough wind to power global energy demand, new research says

There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world's demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. New research from Carnegie's Ken Caldeira examines the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole. Their work is published September 9 by Nature Climate Change [Geophysical limits to global wind power].

... Using models, the team was able to determine that more than 400 terrawatts of power could be extracted from surface winds and more than 1,800 terrawatts could be generated by winds extracted throughout the atmosphere.

Today, civilization uses about 18 TW of power. Near-surface winds could provide more than 20 times today's global power demand and wind turbines on kites could potentially capture 100 times the current global power demand.

S - Very interesting. Can't wait for the second part of the study when they identify who will make those $trillions in investments and where they'll get that capex.

Rocko, that is an honest statement of curiosity. The honest answer is that a fraction of the trillions that currently go to fossil fuels exploration, development and transport will be diverted by investors to wind farm projects. LOL.

Decarb - It would be nice if it could work like that. Unfortunately we have to spend money on both at the same time. It's that dang transition thingy. Great: take the many $billions we're spending on FF today and start spending them on alts tomorrow. In the meantime what do we do with the tens of millions who become unemployed and cannot feed themselves due to the loss of FF's?

It could be done with much less pain, of course. But over a very long time period. And obviously should have started decades ago. The always easy example is gradually increasing motor fuel taxes very slightly annually but consistantly over the last 40 years or so. But that didn't happen. So to get to that happy place as soon as we need need to what do we do...double the tax every year or so? So in a few years gasoline might cost $10+/gallon. I have no doubt it would greatly reduce our fuel consumption and oil imports. But what would that do to the economy?

It's the same problem we keep slapping our heads against: yes...we should do X. But we don't have the time/capex to do it as fast as we need to do it. I suspect that we'll be "exporting democracy" to other countries (along with the unfortunate collateral damage, more shiny silver boxes arriving at Dover and absurd costs) long before half the vehicles in the US are EV's.

The best gas tax in my opinion -

9 months of zero tax increase to start making adjustments.

Then a tax increase of +$0.001/gallon/day at the wholesale level for 20 to 25 years. Quarterly inflation adjustments. Apply it to aviation fuel as well.

Pass it requiring a super majority (say 90%) to repeal.

Much less immediate pain - but time and motivation to make every sort of adjustment to use less oil.

IMHO, the "minimum pain, maximum gain" gas tax.

Best Hopes for Rational Policies,


I live in a country where regular gasoline is already about $10 US/US gallon, and has been for almost 2 years. This has not eliminated gas guzzlers from the road, but the most popular car for taxis (taxis are very widely used here)is the Prius. The Prius is the number 3 model by car sales GLOBALLY so far in 2012. Toyota offers a hybrid option for most of its car models in Europe now.

Total global sales of hybrids is conservatively projected to reach 2.8 million/year by 2017.

The Volt has sold more in its first year than the Prius sold in its first year (1997). I would say the plug-in hybrid drivetrain has a fantastic future which will get more and more cost-competitive starting now. Look for a range of plug-in hybrid models coming soon.

Ridership in public transportation is setting records relative to the last 50 years. The tsunami of retiring of baby boomers will eliminate the daily drive to work for more and more the next 5 years....and today's teenagers are more interested in smart phones than cars, will understand the value working some days at home, and they will not fall into car addiction like our generation.

So I claim the transition to lower fuel consumption can go much faster than what you indicate. And once this trend takes hold and global crude oil consumption is driven permanently downward, prices will follow, as will investments in new oil production.

"today's teenagers are more interested in smart phones than cars, will understand the value working some days at home,"

Will their bosses understand the value of working from home? Mine won't even consider going to a 4-10 schedule. Working from home? Forget it. And if you don't come in you get charged a sick day (or vacation day) even if you do your work over the VPN. The VPN is so you can do extra work from home, or look at plant data when you get called up at night.

yes, I know, I'm waiting for a dinosaur to pass on. But the dinosaur got advice from a high-dollar consultant, so it must be true. (insert snort here)

And, of course, a great many jobs cannot be done from home, at least not until telepresence and remote waldos become cheaper and more reliable (by which time robots will also be cheaper and more reliable).

The US subsidized burning more oil to the tune of $101 billion in 2010. More today.


Best Hopes for a Better Allocation of Resources,


Reports on the limits to wind I'd seen earlier, claimed that somewhere above a terawatt, the energy extracted from the winds begins to change the climate/weather. Why is his limit so much higher than these earlier studies?

The estimates vary greatly.

I read the paper (or short take on it) on sciencedaily. His big number (400TW) is the max that can be extracted from wind, add another turbine, and it reduces the output of other turbines by more than it produces itself. He modeled the climate effects of 17TW (well distributed, not concentrated in a few spots like today), as 1% precipitation and .1C (far smaller than the changes for AGW to date). These now appear to me to be reasonable results.

Today, civilization uses about 18 TW of primary power, i.e. including all the heat energy put into the front end of combustion power and transportation. A theoretic all-wind world does not have replace all of the primary, only the secondary power and the primary heat systems (that aren't replaced with heat pumps).

GM's Volt: The ugly math of low sales, high costs

Reality: The bad math shows this article is just anti-Volt propaganda.

Wow. And I thought that Ford Focus Electric review was a hit piece. This one really takes the cake. Yeah, like all the development costs for Voltec platform should be divided just across only the 20K Volts that have been built. Never mind that those electric-only component parts will be used in other hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Never mind that the entire Voltec platform will be put into an upcoming Voltec based Cadillac. Never mind that many other plug-in hybrids using the same technology will be added in the future. Never mind that they will keep building and selling more Chevy Volts in the future and the sales have been INCREASING with last month being the highest monthly sales ever.

The comments after the Yahoo! News copy of that story are so sad:

Filled with misinformed vitriol, hatred, and above-all . . . more disinformation. "It is that 'Obama car'!" Never mind that the project was started by and championed by right-wing Bob Lutz who calls climate change 'a crock of ****'. Never mind that it was developed during the Bush administration before Obama even announced he'd run for president. Never mind that Obama's car czar wanted to kill the project during review & bankruptcy and it was the GM people who insisted that the project continue because it was vitally important for the long-term health of GM as gas prices rose and stricter CAFE requirements kicked in.

So much mis-information and short-term thinking. :-(

Here is GM's (tepid, IMHO) response:

GM Response to Reuters Story on Chevrolet Volt Development Costs


DETROIT – Reuters' estimate of the current loss per unit for each Volt sold is grossly wrong, in part because the reporters allocated product development costs across the number of Volts sold instead of allocating across the lifetime volume of the program, which is how business operates. The Reuters' numbers become more wrong with each Volt sold.

In addition, our core research into battery cells, battery packs, controls, electric motors, regenerative braking and other technologies has applications across multiple current and future products, which will help spread costs over a much higher volume, thereby reducing manufacturing and purchasing costs. This will eventually lead to profitability for the Volt and future electrified vehicles.

Every investment in technology that GM makes is designed to have a payoff for our customers, to meet future regulatory requirements and add to the bottom line. The Volt is no different, even if it takes longer to become profitable.

GM is at the forefront of the electrification of the automobile because we are developing innovative technologies and building an enthusiastic – and growing – customer base for vehicles like the Volt.

This is all true, but what is the delay before a payback? Naturally, GM had to borrow the money to develop these technologies, as well as the specific product development, and of course they pay interest on that debt. They have to earn enough money to service that debt and fund the operations, otherwise they have to borrow ever more to keep going.

Well, in this case, most of those development costs got wiped out in a bankruptcy. But, yeah, that is cheating.

Assuming there was no bankruptcy, would it have paid off in the long run? I believe so. The division by just the Volts currently produced is massively deceptive. Even that article mentions that they are using Volt developed technology in the current Cruze. A new Voltec based Caddy ELR is coming out. Pretty much every future hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or pure electric car will use some electric parts or electric technology that was developed for the Volt.

The Prius probably lost money for nearly a decade. But now every car company wishes they had Toyota's Prius technology.

The Volt may have been a leap a bit too far. I think the cheaper 20 mile electric range PHEVs like the Ford C-Max Energi may prove more popular than the Volt. But GM will just make a modified Voltec platform for that segment.

Large capital projects take years to pay back, but in general, take less time than what most people require to pay off their home mortgage. So the Reuters hit piece on the Volt was written with malicious intent or by a business illiterate. Think about it, your first day in your new home, fully mortgaged, cost x thousand dollars!

Product development is not the same as a large capital project like a bridge.

they [GM] pay interest on that debt.

In GM's particular case they would pay little interest on prior Volt development costs as bondholder debts were zero'd in the 2009 bankruptcy, and major financing has been made available now through the US Treasury's stock purchase with the Treasury still the number one shareholder at 500 million shares.

Exceptionally bad math.

The headline says GM is losing $49K on every Volt they sell, but if you look toward the bottom of the article, the manufacturing cost is less than the selling price. Thus, in fact GM is making incremental profit with every Volt they sell. It is only because the article is charging $56K of research and tooling costs per car that it looks like a loss. Selling another car does not incur another $56K of development cost.

Indeed. Lots of idiots in comments section of the Yahoo! News version of the article were saying things like "Well stop building it so you stop losing money on it!!!' Duh.

That said, I suspect the $24K for parts & labor estimate was too low. If you eliminate the development costs, I suspect it still only has a very narrow profit margin at this time.

How much margin do the dealers typically get? But even taking that into account, 24K parts and labor would leave them with a very nice profit per car - pretty much the opposite of what the article implied.

The Champion of the Volt, climate-change denier "Maximum" Bob Lutz has fired up his megaphone to shred this Reuters story. His response can be read here:

I find this quite encouraging:

The Volt “variable cost” (labor and materials, without revealing any confidential GM information), looks very roughly like this: A Li-Ion battery today runs about $350 per KWh. The Volt’s is 16KWh, so that’s roughly $6000.

Damn . . . they are down to $350/KWH now? With $350/KWH batteries and gas climbing above $4/gallon again, EV & PHEV sales should start picking up again. Very encouraging!

Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini

A new survey suggests that the chamber of molten rock beneath Santorini's volcano expanded 10-20 million cubic metres – up to 15 times the size of London's Olympic Stadium – between January 2011 and April 2012.

"Atlantis" (Santorini) Eruption Twice as Big as Previously Believed, Study Suggests:

Well, at least they are staying ahead of sea level rises :( If that one does a repeat performance I wonder how catastrophic an impact it will have on world civilisation?


A little perspective, from 5 months ago:


In a recent analysis of the volcano published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists estimate Santorini's latest inflation is due to 14.1 million cubic meters of magma accumulating in a chamber about 4.5 kilometers below the surface.

That may sound like a scary-big mass of melted rock, but it represents only about 0.03 percent of the estimated eruptive volume from the monstrous 1650 B.C. eruption—not nearly enough for a repeat performance. Should Santorini erupt, it will most likely be a relatively tame event, the study’s authors say.

A thousand cubic meters is a square kilometer. Large eriptions are measired in square KM, supervolcanoes in hundreds or thousands of cubic kilometers. So this is indeed a small amount.

A thousand cubic meters is a square kilometer.

Now wait a minute? What kinda math is that?

Large eriptions are measired in square KM,

I don't think so. The volume of anything must be measured in cubic something, or three dimensions, not square something, which is only two dimensions.

How Volcanoes work

Ron P.

Ron, Ron, Ron…how many times must I explain geologist math to you? Just like measuring beer volume: it’s not ounces but in levels of cleverness one attains. Like I had so much beer that I eventually understood more than anyone else in my mineralogy class. You must come visit our universe sometime. But if you do remember its BYOB.

OOps. I meant a thousand million cubic meters!
Ooops I said square instead of cubic. I wonder if I was half asleep?

By saying big eruptions are measured in cubic KM, I mean those units give reasonably scaled numbers, sure you could use anything you want, cubic micrometers, or express the volume in units of the volume of the solar system! Choose your units correctly for the problem at hand, and numbers stay within reasonable limits.

A thousand thousand thousand cubic meters is a cubic kilometer.

The eruption occurred 3,600 years ago on the Santorini archipelago... The massive explosion may have destroyed the Minoan civilization based on nearby Crete.

Writing in this week's issue of the journal Eos, a team of Greek and U.S. researchers estimate that the volcano released 14 cubic miles (60 cubic kilometers) of magma—six times more than the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatau (Krakatoa).

Only one eruption in human history is believed to have been larger: an 1815 explosion of Tambora, in Indonesia, which released 24 cubic miles (100 cubic kilometers) of magma.


A thousand thousand thousand cubic meters is a cubic kilometer.

Yes exactly. But an easier way of saying it is: "One billion cubic meters equals one cubic kilometer."

Ron P.

I was getting a mental image of a 'square kilometre-metre' a bit like that 'acre-feet' weird stuff that the industry uses in non-metric countries and that confuses the hell out of the vast majority of the normal public!

Gigaliters are worse than acre-feet.


Gigalitres (international spelling) should be stamped out. The real measure is thousands of cubic metres (international spelling), which we had to abbreviate as 103m3 or E3M3 in the Canadian oil industry because there is no convenient official name for the unit. It was our standard unit for natural gas in the field, and the guys in the field used to call it a "dek" for convenience (spelling approximate).

When we sold it to the end user we converted it to gigajoules, which is a standard energy unit much like the BTU, but more standardized. There are about 5 different standards for the BTU. We needed a gas analysis to convert it, but we always had one, and we did it automatically.

Unbeknownst to most people, the Canadian oil industry operates in metric, but we didn't use half-baked units like "gigalitres". The custody transfer meters (note spelling) at the border used to automatically convert it to US units for the benefit of Americans who thought we were doing the same thing as them.

I irritated engineering professors by converting English units to metric, solving, and then converting back. My first degree was in Physics (all metric - both types).

And I have noted how Americans do not use metric units, but insist on OUR spelling of them :-)

And Gl are used in reservoir planning (hydroelectric). Not my favorite unit.


And 60 cubic kilometers is a cube roughly 4 km on a side.

FYI: volcanic volumetric conversions

14 cubic mile (aardvartric) = 60 cubic km (eostric) = 1 SL (geologic). What? Oh...1 SL = 1 sh*t load. The SL system is much more manageable. Especially after discussing volcanology after a 6 pack or so. The SL metric is also handy when describing the volume of FUBAR geologic section.

Being the de-facto metric conversion expert where I worked, I always had to explain to people that only geologists used "cubic kilometres" as a unit, and then only when they were completely sober (i.e. not that often).

U.S. Crude Oil Production to Rise 74% by 2022

Crude oil production in the United States is projected to grow by 74%, or more than 4.9 million barrels per day (MMb/d), during the next 10 years to an average of 11.6 MMb/d by 2022, according to Bentek Energy®, the energy data analytics unit of Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider.

"Not only will the projected record growth in oil production affect North America, it will have dramatic implications for global crude oil markets," said Jodi Quinnell, Bentek oil analysis manager. "We foresee a massive displacement of traditional waterborne oil imports to the United States by 2022, taking them from 45% of U.S. total crude supply to no more than five percent."

Do you believe this is remotely possible? Given all that we know about the nature of the plays involved?

It seems to me that if imported oil is going to be only 5% of our oil usage in 10 years it will be because we are using way less oil, whether through policies promoting alternatives or economic stagnation/recession/depression reducing demand and rendering us unable to buy the stuff.

Let me see... in order to maintain, double every 2 years; that's about 32 times the number of wells, and workers, goin' at it, hot and heavy, that are working in the Dakotas today. Boom town, hello.

All at a cost of? What will the price of oil need to be to support that sort of infrastructure? Then, 2 years later need to double again??? I predict peak oil workers!


I thought these charts from Goldman "vampire squid" Sachs, via Zero Hedge, were interesting:


The image is too large to post here, but one chart in particular stood out, look for "it's all about biofuels, liquids, and shale". Conventional crude out to 2017 shows barely a blip, while "renewable", which I take to mean biofuels, and "unconventional" together with NGL are projected to go almost vertical to the magic 11 mbpd mark, and presumably beyond.

I guess in a few years we'll find out.


Jerry - Maybe in a very few years. I'm hearing more scuttlebutt about growing problems with capex availability.

look for "it's all about biofuels, liquids, and shale". Conventional crude out to 2017 shows barely a blip,

But notice that Bentek in this case is talking about crude oil, not biofuels, all-liquids, etc.

I think that "it's all about..." graph is a little low at the 2012 mark. US all liquids have surely already exceeded 11 mbpd per EIA. Breakdown (mbpd): Crude+Cond 6.3, NGL 2.4, other 1.2, refinery gain 1

"are projected to go almost vertical to the magic 11 mbpd mark"

...to eleven

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

Video of Nigel Tufnel's wisdom.

If they believe it will go to "eleven" then who's to argue!


These folks have developed an interesting approach to constructing wood towers. Apparently, they have figured out how to transmit the tension forces through the panels and connections rather than using steel tension rods.

I like seeing new uses for wood products and this approach has potential for other structures besides wind turbine towers.

Shell halts Chukchi Sea drilling

A big chunk of ice is drifting towards the location. "....drilling was stopped as a precautionary measure in accordance with its ice management plan..... when the ice.... has moved on, the Noble Discoverer will reconnect to anchors and resume drilling."

We need the fictional underwater drilling platform from the James Cameron movie The Abyss. When they actually start building one, Cameron will probably regret having given them the idea. (Although it was pretty obvious . . . and don't the Norwegians already do it somewhat?)

"I will be one of those persons most cheering for an endless summer in Alaska," Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska, told luminaries at the Arctic Imperative Summit at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, August 25-27.

From: Ice-Breaking: U.S. Oil Drilling Starts as Nations Mull Changed Arctic

Shell's best hopes are for that pesky ice to just go away...

Rephrased question: Is it possible for yeast to be as dumb as humans?

Wholesale Gasoline Price Superspike Continues for New York Harbor area

If you thought that the sharp and sudden price rise for wholesale gasoline last Friday was some kind of freak event, well think again, as the price spiked even higher today. The NY harbor wholesale price is up 30 to 40 cents a gallon in the last 10 days.

Gasoline traders blamed the price rise on a failed restart at the problem plagued Motiva refinery in Louisiana, which will be the nation largest refinery when it finally gets up to full capacity. However any gasoline produced in Louisiana would take at least 10 days to reach the New York City area, and the recent price spike may have more to do with what is not showing up - that is gasoline imports from Europe.

Low supplies in the East may be directly or indirectly related to the recent Amuay refinery explosion in Venezuela, where Venezuela has bought gasoline shipments otherwise intended for the US - some of which were already in mid-ocean and previously on their way to the US.

So far it does not appear that the eastern states have asked for an emergency waiver from the EPA (in addition to the eight states already operating under an emergency waiver due to Hurricane Isaac), although some type of use for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in this situation is still under consideration.

Gulf Gasoline Gains With Motiva Refinery Start Delayed by Week

Conventional 87-octane gasoline in New York Harbor rose 5 cents to a premium of 41 cents a gallon versus futures, the widest since Sept. 16, 2008.


RPT-US officials fret emergency oil won't ease fuel prices-sources
Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:57pm IST

A top concern was not about global crude supply, but that refining capacity was low, diminishing the ability for plants to turn SPR crude quickly into gasoline, diesel and heating oil, the energy expert said.

"We don't have refinery capacity to really have much impact on gasoline prices," the source said.

September 7, 2012
East Coast Wholesale Gasoline Price Spikes Upwards

Confirming the short supply situation in the East, this evening the API inventory report, usually less reliable than the EIA report, indicates a very large drop in gasoline inventories of 4.2 million barrels - where the East Coast region alone lost 2.3 million barrels. In last week's report, the API reported an earlier drop of 2.3 million barrels for the entire country.

U.S. crude stocks up slightly, gasoline falls-API

Meanwhile wholesale gasoline prices in the NYC area continued their relentless two week advance, rising another four cents. However traders expect that about September 15 through 20, a significant amount of gasoline imports will arrive from Europe, which would have the effect of lowering prices.

U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.8376 a Gallon, Lundberg Says

If I remember correctly, the switch from summer blend gasoline to winter blend starts on Sept 15th. Winter blends are much less expensive to produce, so usually prices for gasoline normally begin to drop after the 15th of September.

Any guesses as to whether the oil companies will continue to pass some of the savings on to the consumer this year like they have in the past?

The general answer is: yes, they will, all other things being equal.

Commodity futures prices indicate that gasoline for delivery at the end of November is at a 20 cents/gallon discount to the price for delivery at the end of September. This mostly reflects the impact of the cheaper winter blend.

Generally they will pass along that difference, but also they will pass along other changes.

Things are rather turbulent in the gasoline market in the last few weeks. Most notably, the price for gasoline right now in NY harbor is selling for 30 cents - or more - than the futures price at the end of the month. This is about a record difference.

So it's possible supply problems, if they continue, could more than offset the savings of using winter blend.

Greetings earthbound consumers!

Recession feared if U.S. goes over fiscal cliff

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- A recession is imminent if Congress and the Obama administration don't find a way to avoid impending drastic spending cuts and tax increases, a business group's top economist said Monday.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Martin Regalia added his voice to the growing chorus of economists warning that the "fiscal cliff," a series of massive tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts, will send the economy into a recession.

"If we don't figure out a way to finesse this fiscal cliff. . . if we don't figure out how to kick this can down the road, we will almost certainly be in a recession," said Regalia in a briefing with reporters.

...recession... Funny that, the Chamber's top economist admitting that we're reduced to "kicking cans": stalling; buying time; procrastinating; shoring up; delaying the inevitable. Leanan has suggested she expects we may muddle through somehow, though 'muddling through' implies some sort of resolution, at some point. So many 'cans being kicked', and, at some point the cans become unkickable, some even begin kicking back, which is basically where we find ourselves.

Kunstler, today:

People complain about "the size and burden of government," but our problems extend to the size and burden of everything, beginning with the number of human beings now vying to occupy the planet and moving to the size and scale of every activity supporting them.

What we are witness to is the remarkable process of humanity collapsing under it's own weight and complexity, taking a big swath of the biosphere along with us. Equally remarkable is our ability, as societies and individuals, to minimize, rationalize, and over analyze our parts in this drama. Overshoot is a simple concept.

Interesting times indeed...

"Recession feared"

The recession is here. And it's obvious if you have been paying any attention at all. The question now is how bad it will be.

If the recession already ended, this chart wouldn't look like this:

Well, in the last DB I posted an article that per capita meat consumption in the U.S. has been falling since 2007 because the consumer could not afford to pay higher prices. What will the consumer do next year? The drought is going bring much more economic hardship then we have seen lately. This is one can that cannot be kicked.

Soybean Reserves Smallest in Four Decades After Drought

Feedlots lost about $316 a head in July fattening cattle for slaughter, said Ron Plain, a livestock economist at the University of Missouri. U.S. beef output will drop 3.9 percent to 24.575 billion pounds next year, the lowest since 2004, the USDA estimates. Retail prices will rise 5 percent, outpacing other food groups, according to the agency.

“Nobody has seen this kind of global shortage before, and yet there is little evidence that demand has slowed at current prices,” said Mark Schultz, the Minneapolis-based chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investments Inc., which advises the grain, livestock and renewable fuel industries. “Soybean demand may not slow until we reach $20.”

Great post Ghung! The first blockquote from the article:

A recession is imminent if Congress and the Obama administration don't find a way to avoid impending drastic spending cuts and tax increases, a business group's top economist said Monday.

This part of your post nails the situation:

the Chamber's top economist admitting that we're reduced to "kicking cans": stalling; buying time; procrastinating; shoring up; delaying the inevitable.

The questions are:

Could a different prez be the answer? No, a different person in charge won't make any difference in and of itself.

Will tax cuts for the richest guy at the end of town do it? No, he'll probably just stuff it in a swiss account.

How about QE's? No, that just lowers the value of the dollar and raises the cost of already very high commodities, like oil.

The question they should be asking is:

Will cheap oil do the trick?

And the answer is: Yes, but from where?

Overshoot is a simple concept.

Yeah, but we know better here on TOD to hold our collective breath waiting for the masses to ever get it even when shtf. That's when it will turn into the 'Blame Game.' So and so is responsible for us losing all of our stuff! Waa!

We could try a partial debt jubilee. But that would likely blow up the financial system again.

Isn't that what bankruptcy is for? :)

Debt jubilee means that the borrower gets to keep the house without paying off the loan while the bank loses the unpaid portion. Bankruptcy means the borrower gets evicted and does not pay off the loan while the bank gets to sell the house to recover some or all of the loan.

Moody’s threatens US credit rating

Moody’s has threatened to downgrade America’s prized triple A credit rating if Congress fails to reach a deficit reduction deal, raising the stakes in the fiscal debate that lies at the heart of the November election.

... The comments made clear that a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” – a series of tax increases and automatic spending cuts due in early January – may not be enough to prevent a downgrade, and that a broader agreement to shrink America’s debt pile over the medium term would need to be crafted.

also from Congressional Research Service ...

The “Fiscal Cliff”: Macroeconomic Consequences of Tax Increases and Spending Cuts (0.3M pdf)

Policy choices with respect to the fiscal cliff are difficult because of the conflict between short-run and long-run economic and budgetary objectives. In the short run, the reduction in demand from the reduced budget deficits could damage an already fragile recovery. In the longer run, however, deficit reduction is needed to address a projected unsustainable debt level.

CBO estimates are similar to those of other forecasters. Estimates are uncertain; CBO suggests a range of potential reductions in growth from 0.9% to 6.8% if the fiscal cliff occurs. Thus, the effects could be much smaller, but they could also be significantly larger, than CBO’s mid-point estimate.

and The Ryan Sinkhole

... the Ryan budget contains an $897 billion sinkhole: massive but unexplained cuts in such discretionary domestic programs as education, food and drug inspection, workplace safety, environmental protection and law enforcement.

The scope of the cuts – stunning in their breadth — is hidden. To find the numbers, turn to page 16 of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget – Fiscal Year 2013. In Table 2, Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution Discretionary Spending, in the far right hand column, you’ll see the nearly $897 billion figure, which appears on the line marked “BA” for Budget Authority under Allowances (920) as $896,884 (because these figures are listed in millions of dollars).

The importance of the nearly $1 trillion in unexplained and unspecified cuts that Ryan and the Republican party are proposing, under the catch-all rubric of “Function 920: Allowances,” cannot be overestimated.

While the Ryan budget does specify cuts in programs serving the poor, many of whom are Democratic constituents (Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits), it hides under the abstruse veil of “Function 920 allowances” the cuts in programs popular with many other voters.

This maneuver stands in stark contrast to Ryan’s campaign rhetoric.

The problem that so many oil importing countries have, in an era of $100 plus oil as they try to keep their "wants" based economies going via deficit spending, is that a tax rate that will balance their budget will crash their economy, and spending cuts that will balance their budget will crash their economy.

In my opinion, the reality we are facing is a triple play: a declining economy, higher taxes (on those still employed) and lower government spending.

Regarding the US election, I think that we are basically electing new officers of the Titanic, after the ship hit the iceberg.

We're on the slippery slope. Whether they call it triage or not, this is how they'll be handling folks going forward...

Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments resources based on the severity of their condition need. This rations patients' treatments resources efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately.

... During the early stages of an incident, first responders may be overwhelmed by the scope of patients and injuries.

One valuable technique, is the Patient Assist Method (PAM); the responders quickly establish a casualty collection point (CCP) and advise ; either by yelling, or over a loudspeaker, that "anyone requiring assistance should move to the selected area (CCP)". This does several things at once, it identifies patients that are not so severely injured, that they need immediate help, it physically clears the scene, and provides possible assistants to the responders.

As those who can move, do so, the responders then ask, "anyone who still needs assistance, yell out or raise your hands"; this further identifies patients who are responsive, yet maybe unable to move. Now the responders can rapidly assess the remaining patients who are either expectant, or are in need of immediate aid. From that point the first responder is quickly able to identify those in need of immediate attention, while not being distracted or overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation.

Using this method assumes the ability to hear [facts & reason]. Deaf, partially deaf or victims of a large blast injury may not be able to hear these instructions.

... unfortunately most are deaf

Yeah, it'll be either triage or being overwhelmed and thrashing about, making things worse. It's bad enough getting your mind around applying triage when there are maybe 100 victims (I have never been in that position, just introduced to the topic in CERT training). It will be much harder when the victims are entire countries. I recently read a novel called "Etiquette for an Apocalypse." That made me wonder what has been written on "ethics for an apocalypse."

Shale oil can't stop crude topping $150 by 2020-Bernstein


Amongst other things: "..It said that Canada's oil sands producers need $100 a barrel to achieve an adequate return on capital."

although "an adequate return on capital" is a little vague, I had not thought such a high figure necessary for viability of the region, costs must be rising for some reason.

I cannot find the full report.

Tar Sands need $113 to break even, says this report.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/video/video-canadian-o... .

f - Couldn't open your link so haven't read the details. But if the $113 is accurate then, based on the price the Canadians have been getting, the tar sand developers have been intentionally losing $billions and are merrily continuing on their way to financial disaster. I suppose we each must pick the assumption we feel is more likely. I know my choice.

I had no trouble opening it. But try it again, the video is very interesting.

Video: Canadian oil sands needs $113-a-barrel oil to break even, says report

Ron P.

The number is for 2013.

This statement is not true.

It depends on when the plant was built.

$35-85 more realistic.

RMG, where are you?


The established oil sands operators have an operating cost in the neighborhood of $45 per barrel at the moment. This has gone up substantially in the last few years, but that is really because the economics permit them to spend more money. Back in 2000 when oil prices fell to $10/bbl, they cut their operating costs to $12/bbl. They have considerable ability to adjust their costs to fit market conditions.

They don't need $113/bbl to break even. New oil sands operators would like to see $113/bbl for Brent oil (not WTI) to encourage them to invest the tens of billions of dollars needed to get into the business. The startup costs are horrendous, so they want to be sure of an extremely high return on investment before they commit any money. The established oil sands operators would be making a huge amount of profit if they got that much for their oil.

It really depends on whether companies want to look good on the quarterly report, or still be in business 20 years from now. Most companies are trying to put the best numbers on their quarterly report, but 20 years from now they'll probably be gone.

Suncor, which built the first oil sands plant in the 1960s, didn't make any money at all on it for the first 7 years. Now they are the biggest oil company in Canada, whereas many of their competitors are out of business. I worked or consulted for many of those competitors, and it was really grim watching their death spiral as their conventional oil production went relentlessly downhill. The oil depletion treadmill kept running faster and faster for them, and eventually they fell off it.

Whether you are an employee or a consultant, it's not good for your career path to tell upper management that they are going to put their company out of business if they keep on doing what they are doing, but that's what most oil companies are doing now. OTOH, the oil sands companies will still be producing into the next century.

That one worked Ron...thanks.

Rocky - wasn't clear to me from the video but is that what they are talking about: the need of $113/bbl to build new plants? From your post I gather that you agree but perhaps not as high a price is required. I listened to the video a second time and although it isn't stated clearly the impression is that he's talking about ongoing operations and not new startups. Perhaps it's just a poorly presented story. From everything I've read current ops are rather profitable at current prices let alone needing $113/bbl.

But I gather from you statement that few new projects may get started without $100+/bbl price expectations. Seems like that platform won't be reached until the bottleneck at Cushing is either eliminated or another higher price outlet is developed.

The video is actually talking about Canadian Oil Sands Limited (COS) the company, rather than the Canadian oil sands in general.

Canadian Oil Sands (COS)

Canadian Oil Sands is a pure investment opportunity in light, sweet crude oil. Through our 36.74% interest in the Syncrude project, we offer a solid, robust production stream of fully upgraded crude oil, exposure to future crude oil prices, potential growth through high-quality oil sands leases and an attractive dividend.

COS is an investment company rather than an operating oil company It is usually a highly profitable company, but has a lot of earnings volatility. It has substantial debt on which it has to pay interest, plus taxes, royalties, cash calls for capital it has to meet as a partner in Syncrude, and... dividends it has to pay to its investors. Dividends are the real kicker.

It has to pay all of these "costs" out of cash flow, which is why the analyst claims it needs $113/bbl to break even. "Break even" occurs after it has paid a dividend "cost" to investors.

I think the media kind of missed the distinction between operating costs and total costs - including profit. $113/bbl includes debt payments, capital costs, and a typically a rather high profit which it pays out to investors. It is a bit of an arcane distinction for most reporters.

At the moment there are about $100 billion in new investments in oil sands moving forward. Remember, a lot of new investment is Chinese, and they aren't that concerned about the price of WTI.

Logging off and thinking about the bogus Globe article Fubar linked, I wondered why this opinion was out there?

Then, it occured to me that Ontario, and Toronto in particular blame their decline in manufacturing/speculation (and economic standing) on the rise of the Canadian petro dollar. The manufacturing advantage was based on a 75 cent dollar, and now that it is 1.02 and the west is doing well the 'sands' has to be demononized.

We had cuts for years out west and both Alberta and BC have been flat out broke in the recent past. It happens. Life changes. People have to move where the work is and adapt. Don't blame the demise of manufacturing on oil production.


Strong exports of natural resources are one factor that has driven the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar but it certainly isn't the sole factor. The loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario is likewise due to a number of factors other than the high value of the Canadian dollar. The price of electricity has risen sharply in recent years and this is a major expense to manufacturers. Unionized manufacturing jobs are in some cases being relocated to states that have "right to work" legislation that allows workers to be paid barely more than minimum wage. Most Ontarian's are oblivious to the damage that has been done to the Ontario economy because the provincial government has been covering it up by running $15 billion/year deficits.

Ontario has always been overly dependent on the automobile industry for employment, and I don't think they realize that can be a weakness. They talk about the advantage of "manufacturing" over "resource" industries, but don't realize that "automobile manufacturing" has become a sunset industry. They now just riding the automobile production decline curve down.

I think we are past "Peak Autos" and into "Auto Depletion", at least in North American and Europe.

Electricity prices are a problem in Ontario, too, and their government has really screwed that up. Historically, Southern Ontario had cheap hydro from Niagara Falls, and that caused many industries to locate there. Now, some other provinces have lower energy prices and are therefore better places for energy-intensive industries to locate.

Ontario workers think of unions as a universally good thing and don't realize that they have non-union competition they have to meet. And the Ontario government budget is indeed something of a disaster area. Ontario lost that reputation for fiscal responsibility they once had.

In general, I would say that blaming their problems on the "Dutch Disease" is really trying to avoid the issues. The global decline in the automobile industry (except in China and other developing countries) is the main issue they are doing their best to ignore.

I think you are oversimplifying the situation in Ontario. There are a number of factors that have adversely affected manufacturing in Ontario.

1. Excessive dependence on branch plants. With the liberalization of trade rules, multinational companies found that they could close their Canadian operations and reduce costs by supplying the Canadian market from their US manufacturing facilities (or later Mexico or China). Furthermore, in many cases, the branch plants have no mandate to develop new products or act in competition with the parent company.

2. Weaknesses in the High Technology sector. Nortel, the star of the Canadian High Tech sector crashed at the beginning of the last decade more recently, RIM is looking shaky. Poor management seems to have been a factor, particularly in the case of Nortel. However, there are many other factors. One of the things that strikes me is how Canada has bent over backwards to open Canadian markets to other countries without getting equal treatment for its exports. For example, the US IP system seems to be designed to discriminate against foreign companies. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to sell defense electronics to the US military if you are not a bona fide US company.

3. The increase in the relative value of the Canadian dollar. This certainly doesn't help and exacerbates the other factors. Moreover, currency volatility makes it difficult to plan or even set prices. Sure, this is something that can be hedged, but is a further overhead.

I think it is rather unfair to blame the unions. The reality is that unions in Ontario have made dramatic concessions. One of these is the widespread adoption of two tier wage scales - it is not unusual for new employees are being hired at not much over minimum wage with few benefits. The practical reality is that you can't live in Canada on the wages that are anything near those being paid in Mexico or Asia.

Well, those are additional factors, but I don't see why they should be worse in Ontario than in other provinces. The West is coping relatively well with them compared to Ontario, (the East not so much). Canada as a whole is doing well compared to the rest of North America and Europe, which are verging on financial disaster areas.

On the subject of unions, some of my friends were talking today about airlines. They were comparing Air Canada to WestJet. The unionized employees at Air Canada are probably being paid more than the non-union employees at WestJet, but they don't seem to be having nearly as much fun. They are often downright surly, in fact, whereas WestJet employees usually seemed to be cheerful.

We speculated that the Fun Factor doesn't often enter into union/management negotiations at Air Canada, but is a major attraction for workers and management at WestJet. Regardless, WestJet is eating Air Canada's lunch in those markets where they compete.

A few more details on Shell interupting drilling due to ice movements.

When Shell first began tracking the ice, it was about 105 miles from the Burger prospect, Smith said.

"The winds suddenly shifted and as far as we could determine, the ice could potentially impact our operations at that point," he said. The ice came within roughly 15 miles of the prospect, he said. It is moving at about .5 knots, or one-half a nautical mile per hour, he said. Shell is tracking the ice through satellite and radar imagery, and on-site reconnaissance.


The Noble Discoverer drilling ship was disconnected from its eight anchors methodically, not through the acoustic quick release method that would be used if it had to get out of the way fast, Smith said. The drill bit was pulled up from the pilot, or test, hole being worked on, and Shell expects to be able to re-enter the well in the same spot. But it might have to start anew, Smith said.

Increased sightings of orcas in Arctic Ocean raises questions

Scientists counting marine mammals off Alaska's Arctic Ocean coast spotted two large groups of killer whales last month, but orca experts are not ready to say the species has increased its numbers in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

On Aug. 20 an aerial survey crew spotted 13 killer whales about 6 miles northeast of Barrow, America's northernmost community. The flight was part of a bowhead whale survey sponsored by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other federal agencies.


The presence of killer whales in Arctic waters is unusual but not unprecedented. Research biologist Paul Wade of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory said he has no indication from published reports or anecdotal evidence that more orcas are spending time north of the Bering Strait. Russian scientists have reported them on their side of the Chukchi Sea, attacking gray whale calves. That could be why the surveys are seeing them in Alaska, he said.


Biologist Craig George of the North Slope Borough wildlife department, who has written research papers on killer whales in the Arctic, said Native Alaska seal hunters see orcas every summer but they're rarely spotted by aerial surveys. The main reason, he said, is that there are hundreds of hunters and few aerial surveys.


Eagle Ford Shale Production Trend - In another conversation Rune presented some interesting statistics of recent Bakken production history. Instead of focusing on the high initial rates and the high decline rates he looked at a better indicator of where the trend was heading IMHO. Unfortunately for both of our analysis we're stuck with dealing with rather short time frames but it's all we have. The simple metric is the first 12 months of cumulative production presented in a monthly time frame. IOW wells completed in Jan 2010 produced X bbls of oil in the first 12 months of their lives; wells drilled in Feb 2010 produced Y bbls of oil in the first next 12 months of their lives; etc.

What I found amazing was the 25% decline in the first 12 month cum from Bakken wells in just a couple of years. All the more difficult to understand since Bakken wells were being drilled with longer laterals and more frac stages during the period. All things being equal you would expect increased initial cums. But perhaps all other factors didn't stay the same. My first thought was that better areas were drilled first and even with more technology being applied the recoveries per well can decrease. This actually has happened in every trend ever developed. But the transition to poorer quality/smaller prospects typically takes many years. I mentioned earlier about my current efforts drilling for small 50,000 bbl oil fields in a trend which has 30 -150 million bbl oil fields in the same reservoir. But that transition took over 20+ years.

Rune's efforts got me thinking about the Eagle Ford Shale so I generated the same stat: cumulative production for the first 12 months of a well's life. The list below shows the average first 12 month production per well for wells drilled since Jan 2010. The number following the oil volume is the number of wells coming on line that month. This is all raw data...no editing. I chose to separate out the first two months: early days and only 3 wells drilled. I then split the remainder into two equal groups to smooth the jumpy data out a bit.

JAN 2010__ 36,370 bo___ 2
FEB______ 28,860 bo___ 1

MARCH____ 58,400 bo___ 8
APRIL_____ 80,660 bo___ 5
MAY______ 86,900 bo___ 5
JUNE_____ 93,900 bo___ 6
JULY_____ 65,000 bo___ 8
AUG______ 92,000 bo__ 10
SEPT_____ 29,000bo____ 11
OCT______ 59,000 bo___ 14
AVERAGE FOR THIS 8 MONTH PERIOD = 70,600 bo per well

NOV______ 48,000 bo___ 12
DEC_______ 42,400 bo___ 57
JAN 2011___ 46,800 bo___ 27
FEB_______ 72,040 bo___ 13
MARCH____ 54,200 bo___ 19
APRIL_____ 64,500 bo___ 31
MAY______ 47,100 bo___ 41
JUNE______ 48,200 bo___ 54
AVERAGE FOR THIS 8 MONTH PERIOD = 53,300 bo per well

It does appear that there has been a similar drop in the stat for the EFS as for the Bakken: newer, longer and more frac'd EFS wells are not doing as well during their first 12 months has they had been back in 2010. I don't consider it a strongly supported trend given the short period and relatively small number of wells. But it is a trend of unedited and unbiased data. Five+ years from now would provide a more substantial stat to hang our hats on. BTW these are gross numbers. The operators are netting about 70% after adjusting for royalty and production tax.

The recent SPE paper gave a median EUR of about 161,000 BOE for about 1,000 Eagle Ford wells. If we subtract out associated gas, I estimate that the median EUR crude oil number would be about 120,000 BO.


How do they get the economics to work with 120 000 Bbls of total recovered crude oil from the well?

They shall pay taxes, royalties, OPEX and more.

Rune – A simple eco model: URR 160,000 bo. Production first 12 months 60,000 bo. Royalty 25%. Production tax = 4.5%. Completed well cost (very rough guess) = $8 million. Acreage cost per well (even rougher guess) = $700,000. Monthly op expense = $3,000/month. Decline after 12 months = 60%. Oil price $95/bbl

So net income first 12 months = $4.03 million or 46% of payout
Second 12 month production = $1.6 million or 65% of payout.
Ult net revenue = $10.6 million or about 1.2X the investment non-discounted. Maybe a bit better than my model: I hear from some folks that it’s more like 2X to 2.5X. Rate of return obviously low but not that much worse than many US conventional wells,

Obviously the numbers may vary significantly from company to company. So profitable for some but the details get more muddy when you start looking at how a company’s finances are arranged and capex sources. So some can sustain ops and some can’t. But I suspect many can’t take much lower prices for too long.

But back to the basic problem for the pubcos. There are not enough conventional prospects to allow half the US pubcos to increase their reserve base y-o-y IMHO. And if they can’t then Wall Street devalues their stock. And that makes for very unhappy shareholders.

I still contend the most profitable EFS player to date has been Petrohawk. But not from drilling but by selling their company (and all that very valuable UNDEVELOPED ACREAGE) for $12 billion. Again the age old oil patch adage about you make the big money on a “hot new play”: you roll into town with the first wagon load of whores and roll out before the first drill rig shows up.

Hello ROCKMAN and thx.

There is the key word non discounted......ultimate nominal net revenue after 30 years?
Depending on the discount rate NPVs could easily be of the color red...it is this pesky time value of money thing.
Another issue is cash flows to keep operations rolling, or are operations driven to meet debt service and more funding?

So little time and so many questions. ;-)


Rune - Maybe you've worked with pubco managers or not. I've pointed out before how priorities with these folks often aren't what some folks think. In some cases discount rates, profit, NPV, etc are not a priority. I'll repeat just one anecdote: years ago I drilled 4 hz wells that management knew would lose money let alone not have a positive ROR. These wells also instantly reduced the NPV of the company. But the two managers achieved their goal: the ignorance of Wall Street rewarded them with a huge increase in stock price because I increased company NG production RATE by 400%. This led to a successful hostile stock take over which, in a few years, led to bankruptcy and the disappearance of this small company forever. It was truly amazing to have a ring side seat to watching one idiot believing the lies of another idiot as they sold their lies to idiot investors.

Yes: my reserve report told the truth of exactly what we did by drilling those wells. So often no one reads the reports...they just swallow what they brokers pitch without doing any research. It was like watching a blind man walk in front of a speeding car with all the bystanders encouraging him to go forward. That was almost 20 years ago and so far I've been able to keep the pledge to myself: never be an employee of a pubco again. Life in the oil patch is so much less stressful when all I have to worry about is drilling profitable wells.

A couple of years ago my former landman couldn't get it that the Eagle Ford Shale was not appropriate for our private company. He kept bringing in folks to present their EFS projects. To make my point to him I made counter offers to 4 of those companies. I would pay the full price they were asking for their undeveloped EFS acreage. But instead of giving them the cash I would use it to pay for half the drilling costs of the wells and assign them that 50% working interest. A great deal, eh? Not only would they get top $ for the acreage positions but a free piece of those "great potential oil wells". Needless to say they all turned me down: not one of them wanted to own a piece of any EFS well even if I paid for it all. My landman finally became a believer. But I still had to eventually run him off. A nice guy but couldn't begin to understand the money side of our business.

This led to a successful hostile stock take over which, in a few years, led to bankruptcy and the disappearance of this small company forever. It was truly amazing to have a ring side seat to watching one idiot believing the lies of another idiot as they sold their lies to idiot investors.

I know the feeling, having had a ring-side seat at a number of such circuses. You can't tell the President and Vice-Presidents they are complete idiots and expect to keep your job, so the only thing you can do is polish up your resume, get it out on the street, and start having lunch with your opposite number at competing companies.

Always be nice to your competitors because you never know when you'll be working for them. Always be nice to your old boss when he lays you off, because he might be working for you at your next company, and you don't want disgruntled employees on your staff.


I appreciate you sharing from your vast experiences.

I think you are right that people will not see the hard numbers or do due diligence it is about some agenda, sometimes it is more a scam, but eventually truth catches up with reality or vice versa.

If we are right, your EFS research and my Bakken research, then we are close to a point where reality catches up with truth.

In my view there is one important take away from our efforts......"new" cheap crude oil is a thing of the past.
There could of course be temporarily declines in the price due to market conditions, but the new normal oil price is going higher.


Rune - Speaking of which did you catch the news that Chesapeake just sold about $7 billion in west Texas production to help cover their drilling budget short fall? By my count that puts them over $25 billion in asset sales in the last couple of years.

I haven't seen the details about this latest sale but I had heard it was going to be mostly proved producing NG reserves. And such PDP reserves are selling at record low prices these days. Not only that but I suspect most of those reserves had a fairly long life left to them compared to the flash in the pan shale wells. I can see such a move motivated by an absolute fear of not replacing reserves and how Wall Street would react. OTOH by selling reserves that reduces the volume of proven reserves on the books. But I've seen that ploy before: Chesapeake can say they didn't have a net increase in reserves this year due to the sale. Sort of like a magician's misdirection: Just look at all the capex we raised selling those devalued proven NG reserves that we can now spend to develop the much better valued oil reserves. IOW closely watch my right hand and pay no attention to what my left hand is doing. LOL.


Yes I read about that. Actually it is a little disturbing that so few understands what is really going on.
Like the changes in the SEC rules in 2009 that became motivation for some companies to move into shale gas.
Shale gas is as much about book keeping.

The bad news ROCKMAN is that you and your likes will soon become redundant..........some companies increasingly use "Drilling for press releases" to support their stock valuations.......which allows growth beyond infinity... until it doesn't. ;-)


Thanks a lot for your efforts and for sharing! This is becoming very interesting.

Using the same metric (first 12 months cum) the same trend appears in Eagle Ford as I found in Bakken.
Being an operator (oil/gas company) you want your money for the well returned as soon as possible, that is as high production for as long as possible.

As you point out having data only for 12 months may serve as an indicator, but how many wells in shale formations see a plateau or even a growth in production after 12 months?

Right now, the primary motivation is to get some reasonable wells, a large acreage position, then divest. So you have wells drilled all over the place in risky areas and completions that don't work for the local rock. But that's exploration for you. You'll see a decent well a half mile away from a $10 million travesty, which can result from something as seemingly innocuous as landing the lateral 20ft too high. There are lots and lots of really crappy Eagle Ford wells, and an equal number of very good wells that keep convincing people to take risks. Some people will lose their shirts, some will get rich, as you would expect. The EUR's range from 20,000 boe to 3,000,000 boe. It's a long, funky-looking log-normal distribution, which you would expect from a highly heterogeneous resource play that stretches from Mexico to Mississippi.

My guess is we'll see the shallowest of the Eagle Ford oil window eventually disappear from the industry's consciousness, so we'll be left with the rich gas and volatile oil windows, and the dry gas window for when the gas price gets back to break-even levels. If/when completions are optimized for local geology (they have in some areas, but it's slow), some pockets of the shallower areas will become economic.

Thanks! is this all the wells drilled there in this period, or just a sampling?

Dovie – I use the Drilling Info data base which collects the data operators report to the Texas Rail Road Commission. These were all the wells reported as Eagle Ford completions during that period. The per well average should be very accurate. But individual well numbers aren’t always clear. Oil production in Texas is reported by the lease and not by the individual well. No problem if there’s only one well per lease. The vast majority of EFS production is from single well leases. But if there are 4 wells drilled on a lease it may show 200,000 bo for the lease or 50,000 bo per well. But 150,000 bo may have come from just one of the wells. So actually using averages tends to smooth out the stats.

Yes…those are all the wells that have a full 12 month production history. I suspect you had expected more. The trend took off slowly despite the hype. From last June during the prior 12 months 1420 EFS wells were put on production. It will be a year before we have the initial 12 month cum stat to look at. As I said earlier, in a couple of years we’ll have a much more telling stat. Till then the spin master will try to have their way with the public. This is the problem with trying to come up with a stat that might tell you something about how such a trend play is developing. Forget plotting initial production rates as reported to the TRRC. I can test the same well at 400 bopd or 900 bopd and report either. There is no standardization. More import what I test a well at doesn’t necessarily determine at what rate I initially start at or maintain. This is why folks argue about using curve fitting. Using such techniques is very user dependent and can easily be fudged. But until you have more valid stat, like the initial 12 month cum, folks are just pissing into the wind IMHO.

Oil production in Texas is reported by the lease and not by the individual well. No problem if there’s only one well per lease.

In Alberta companies are required to report production to the Energy Resources Conservation Board monthly, by well, producing zone, and production date. They are required to test all their wells at least once a month. I used to get all the data about a month after it was reported. Then I would run queries on it to find out what was going on of an interesting nature.

If there was a play like the Bakken, I could calculate the monthly decline rates on all the wells in the area, for us and our competitors, and put them on a report to our engineers and geologists. I could sort them by geographical location, on-production date, production rates and identify trends. I could plot the individual well, pool, or field decline curves. Everybody else could and would do the same.

However, that meant if a speculator did make a wild claim, there were a lot of industry people able and willing to shoot him down, which made Bakken-like hype unlikely. Alberta does have Bakken-like plays (e.g. the Cardium), but you're not likely to hear much about them unless you're in the industry.

The American reporting standards tend to encourage a lot more exaggeration of results. It's a lot easier to obscure what is really going on.

Rocky – And if you think Texas could tighten up reporting a tad check out Kentucky: as of a few years ago operators were not required to supply production information to anyone INCUDING THE STATE. Yes…you heard me correctly. There could be a well sitting just across my lease line that has been producing for 30 years and unless that operator volunteered the data I would have no idea what the well had produced.

Unbelievable, eh?

Yes, it is quite amazing what some governments do not require.

Alberta's incentive to collect good data was driven by the fact that it owned the mineral rights on 85% of the land. Its royalties were sliding scale and varied from 0-50% depending on well production. And, on the land it didn't own the mineral rights on, it levied a Freehold Mineral Tax which was not a great deal different than its royalties.

It also liked to encourage companies to drill wells, and one way to encourage them was to inform them that someone directly across the lease line had a good producing well. Then, they could collect royalties and taxes on two wells instead of one. Alberta had a tremendous incentive to make sure nobody under-reported production and everybody knew what everybody else's well was producing.

OTOH, I suspect Kentucky didn't collect any royalties or taxes on oil production at all. If the company didn't have to report what the well was producing, how could the government assess any taxes?

Rocky - Oddly enough KY charges about the same severance tax on oil as does Texas...4.5%. But if you don't know what's really shocking is PA, where they do not now nor have ever collected severance tax. Over the decades Texas and La. have collected $trillions in ST. Additionally counties in Texas have collected tens of $millions in ST. Folks in PA were complaining about the damage being done to roads by the Marcellus boom as well as lack of money to pay for increased regulatory control. I estimated that PA could collect over $300 million/yr if they charged the same ST as Texas. But their new R gov ran on a "no new taxes" pledge. Idiot.

Maybe it's a sign we've reached Peak Geologists.

Not enough skilled personnel to pick out the good drill sites.

aardi - As much as dislike saying it Peak geologists won't be much of a problem IMHO due to a number of factors. We are so much more efficient now thanks to tech improvements. With 3d seismic and computer work stations I can put out 5X the work product in half the time it took 4 geophysicists to do it 30 years ago. And with a better success rate. I still suspect many don't buy it but it's true: exploration has never been easier than today. The problem isn't with our abilities but with the lack of prospects left to drill in the US.
And generating fractured shale prospects? Once the exploration teams decides on the orientation, length and number of frac stages they should go with any geologist cold spot the locations of their next 20 wells in 15 minutes. The real manpower shortage is on the operations side of the game. We have improved the drilling tech but it still takes X number of boots on the ground and Y number of days to drill, complete and frac a well. And, obviously, operators are utilizing less experienced hands than they would normally use due to the rush to get wells down. And if there's a sudden swing away from the shale plays you'll start seeing stories of massive layoffs in the oil patch just as we did when NG prices collapsed back in '08. This is how it has always been in the oil patch and always will be IMHO.

Partner Country Series - Gas Pricing - China’s Challenges and IEA Experience

... This report highlights some key challenges China faces in its transition to greater reliance on natural gas, then explores in detail relevant experiences from IEA countries, particularly in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States as well as the European Union (EU). Preliminary suggestions about how lessons learned in other countries could be applied to China’s situation are offered as well.

The aim of this report is to provide stakeholders in China with a useful reference as they consider decisions about the evolution of the gas sector in their country.

Report: Partner Country Series - Gas Pricing - China’s Challenges and IEA Experience (4.0M pdf)

Today I had a long argument with a long-time friend. He argues that NG in LNG isn't actually "natural gas", but some mixture of light alkanes, methane having highest proportion of course. This is, as he says, to make the temperatures higher and thus lower the energy cost of refrigeration. He finished with stating that this is of course not the only practice, that everything is governed by several standards, but shipping LNG in a form of effectively pure liquid methane is surely not the common practice. The same argument went over about CNG.

As far as I understand, LNG = CNG = almost pure methane. Mixing it with something together would only create stratification issues during refrigeration and possibly compression. However I couldn't find anything that contradicted my friend's claims, so I'm quite puzzled. Maybe someone could share some insight?

Your friend is mainly right. LNG typically contains approximately 85-95% methane. Although the final composition of the LNG has an impact on the energy consumption, other deciding factors for the composition of the LNG include the gross calorific value and Wobbe index of the LNG. Different parts of the world have different specifications for this.

After some more thought I'm finally understanding where the disagreement and my friend came from. I was talking about LNG use in general (I had the bulk LNG shipping industry in mind) and he was referring to the automotive industry in particular. I guess you're referring to the latter too.

My friend said that some gas additives must be added into both LNG and CNG before use. Isn't this, by any chance, to match the heat of combustion and Wobbe index specified in the local standard for the particular fuel?

Natural gas is generally considered to be methane plus ethane, but may include some propane, butane, and heavier hydrocarbons. Methane, ethane, propane, and butane are all gases at room temperature and pressure, and heavier hydrocarbons are liquids.

Generally speaking companies fractionate out the propane and butane and sell them as natural gas liquids (NGL) because can be liquefied by simply compressing them and get a higher price than NG. They are also a problem to include in an NG pipeline because they may liquefy during transmission. They might also fractionate out the ethane if there is a demand in a local petrochemical industry, although that requires more chilling.

Generally, LNG only contains methane plus (optionally) ethane. They usually strip off the propane and butane before the LNG plant - Usually they do, but they might not if they want to include propane and butane in the shipment to the destination country.

Basically your friend doesn't know what he is talking about.

The reality isn't as simplistic as I thought either (and my original post badly needs editing :( ).

So, as I understand, a LNG tanker is quite flexible in what payload it can carry, be it methane, methane-ethane mixture, or even some NGLs added. Since these have fairly different boiling temperatures, don't some of the LNG tankers specialize in the specific composition of NG it can carry (I know that LPG carriers exist, but that different matter)? This could correspond to the 'standards' my friend was talking about. Never heard of such thing, but it's worth to have a clarification.

Another question, are there any hard, technological limits on the payload of a LNG tanker? That is, can a regular LNG tanker accommodate, say, an imaginary shipment consisting from 20% methane and 80% propane? Again, to an eye of a layman it seems that there's no technological barrier, the tanker can handle 100% methane anyway, but maybe I'm not aware of something?

Fuel when laden comes from cargo boil-off (most of it anyway).

Implications ?

Don't know.


Implications are that the light hydrocarbons boil off first. That would be the methane. The load will get more heavy over time as there are proportionally more heavies in the left over gas. This mean a higher btu cargo load. This can present a big problem if the gas gets too hot for the tariff. We will turn ships away if the LNG is too hot. The same problem occurs to import terminals that have a lot of LNG in their tanks but no gas sendout. Especially when boiloff gas exceeds fuel gas requirements. It is a major headache as the gas will eventually get too hot for sendout.

The boiling point of a mixture of gases depends on how they interact, not on the separate properties of the individual gases.

The fundamental difference between LPG and LNG is that LPG can be liquefied by simply compressing it, whereas LNG must be supercooled to liquefy it. Chemically, they are more or less the same gases in different proportions, it's just that the physical properties of the mixtures are different.

This makes LNG a lot more energy-intensive than LPG because a large amount of heat must be extracted to liquefy it, and the same amount of heat must be input to re-gassify it. LPG tankers are a lot simpler and cheaper than LNG tankers because their cargo does not have to be kept super-cooled for the voyage.

You probably could ship a 20% methane, 80% propane mix in LNG tankers, but it would probably be more cost-effective to ship the propane in separate LPG tankers. OTOH, shipping an 80% methane, 20% propane mix in LNG tankers might be cost-effective compared to the costs of using separate LPG tankers. I think it's basically a commercial decision.

Agreed. Tariffs also play a part in how much of any substance is allowed in the LNG.

Senkaku islands dispute escalates as China sends out patrol ships

A territorial dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea has intensified after Beijing sent out two patrol ships in a show of anger after Tokyo bought the largely barren outcrops from their private owners.

The paramilitary China Marine Surveillance has drawn up plans to safeguard China's sovereignty of the islands and the ships were sent to assert those claims, said China's official news agency, Xinhua. The marine agency's ships are often lightly armed. The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are also claimed by Taiwan.

Apple's iPhone 5 sales could boost US economy, says JP Morgan economist
Projections that Apple will sell 8m of the devices predict growth rate surge of 0.5%. That is if it's releasing an iPhone at all

It's come to this: hope for U.S. economy pinned on shiny new toy for the "no life" crowd.

Permafrost thaw will speed up global warming, study says

... The study, published this week in Nature Geoscience, predicts that the thawing permafrost will release between 68 billion and 508 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere by the year 2100. As a result of those carbon emissions, researchers say the Earth's temperature will rise by more than 0.5 C by the end of the century.

Although seemingly insignificant, that amount is in addition to the two degrees the Earth's temperature is expected to rise because of global warming from industrial sources.

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria and one of the study's authors, warns that once the planet warms by more than two degrees, the impact could be dire.

"Warming much beyond that puts an unacceptably high probability that we're committed to Greenland melting," Weaver said in an interview. "Rather large percentages of existing species become committed to extinction."

Now that this process has started, not much can be done to stop it, said Weaver.

"It's like a slow, creeping cancer," he said. "Once you've set it in motion, it continues on and on and on and gains momentum."

Man, are we ever idiots.

The Export Land Model for corn.

Corn Exports Shrivel as U.S. Ethanol Demand Grows

As the world’s biggest exporter of corn diverts more and more of its crop to make fuel, it’s sending less to the global marketplace.

I guess this is symptomatic of the Peak Oil Dynamic (POD) that Rockman introduced the other day. That said, the impacts of climate change have a lot to do with it. This year farmers planted the most acres of corn ever and climate change came along and erased what was to be a bumper crop. Livestock farmers are left to compete with ethanol producers for what the drought didn't destroy.

Hat Tip: Stuart Staniford

aws – And that was exactly my point in pitching POD: not so much to give us another catch phrase or term. But to put PO into perspective with all the other factors. I think most on TOD already got it. It’s not a question of which is the biggest problem we’re facing. It’s not PO, not AGW, not deflation/inflation, not unemployment, not military solutions to FF supply problems, not political posturing, not higher motor fuel taxes, not EV batteries, not permafrost melting, etc, etc.

It’s an entire system with a great many parts constantly moving and shifting from one level of impact to another. All separate and connected at the same time. POD was handy but any all encompassing buzz word is just as good.

Otherwise known as the limits to growth, as modelled for the Club of Rome 40 years ago.

US official dies in Libya consulate attack in Benghazi

An American has been killed and at least one other wounded after militiamen stormed the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, officials say.

It is believed the protest was held over a US-produced film that is said to be insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.

The building was set on fire after armed men raided the compound with grenades.

Protests have also been held at the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

In the attack in Benghazi, unidentified armed men stormed the grounds, shooting at buildings and throwing handmade bombs into the compound.

Security forces returned fire but Libyan officials say they were overwhelmed.

"One American official was killed and another injured in the hand. The other staff members were evacuated and are safe and sound," Libya's deputy interior minister Wanis al-Sharif told AFP.

Our nutcases can set off their nutcases. This was the same preacher who tried to become famous by staging a public Koran burning. Its pretty awful how something stupid someone does without your knowledge halfway around the world, can get you killed.

Four dead, including the US ambassador. Killed by smoke inhalation in the ensuring fire.

Scientists Defending Against The Methane Bomb


In a worst-case scenario, suggest Joshuah Stolaroff, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and his co-authors, with huge plumes of methane erupting into the atmosphere from underground, scientists might have to battle the gas with bombs, and more. “If the concentration of methane is high enough . . . ” they write, “. . . then a laser can be used as a remote ignition source.”

Just a reminder, folks: please make your points without using profanity.