Drumbeat: October 26, 2012

Windmills Overload East Europe’s Grid Risking Blackout

Germany is dumping electricity on its unwilling neighbors and by wintertime the feud should come to a head.

Central and Eastern European countries are moving to disconnect their power lines from Germany’s during the windiest days. That’s when they get flooded with energy, echoing struggles seen from China to Texas over accommodating the world’s 200,000 windmills.

Renewable energy around the world is causing problems because unlike oil it can’t be stored, so when generated it must be consumed or risk causing a grid collapse. At times, the glut can be so great that utilities pay consumers to take the power and get rid of it.

Asking Richard Heinberg: Is the world running out of oil?

FLORIDA — When it comes to generating electricity, nuclear energy is often mentioned as a preferable alternative to fossil fuels. While it seems great on paper, how does it stand up in practice? Or do fossil fuels retain the edge in cost and efficiency?

The "Peak Oil" theory is a controversial element of our nation’s discussion over energy policy, and a widely misunderstood one. How might "peak oil" be explained? Are useful oil reserves being depleted, and if so, when should we expect production to decline?

In this second part of our discussion, Richard Heinberg, one of today’s foremost advocates for energy sustainability, shares his views regarding these subjects. He also describes his life and career.

Part 1 is here

Richard Heinberg: President Declares ‘War on Entropy’

(Washington, DC) At a hastily organized news conference, president Obama this morning called for a new national effort to restore America’s greatness by combating “entropy.” Mr. Obama described entropy as “a self-defeating ideology of failure” and called on Congress to replace the Law of Diminishing Returns with a new legislative agenda geared to reversing a range of trends in resource depletion and economic stagnation. “I have directed the Attorney General to identify loopholes in the Second Law of Thermodynamics,” the president said, “that would allow our nation’s prosperity to advance indefinitely.”

Peak Price Not 'Peak Oil', Free 26 Page Report

In July 2008, when crude oil prices were at $148 a barrel and "peak oil" bulls were forecasting a rise to $200, even $300 a barrel, contrarian technical analyst Robert Prechter took the opposite stance:

"One of the greatest commodity tops of all time is due very soon," he wrote in his June 2008 Elliott Wave Theorist.

By December 2008, a barrel of oil cost just $32.

Oil Set for Second Weekly Drop on Demand Outlook, Supply

Oil in New York rebounded after better-than-forecast U.S. economic figures fueled speculation that energy demand in the world’s largest crude user will increase.

Futures rose as much as 0.3 percent after earlier dropping as much as 1.2 percent. The U.S. economy expanded by 2 percent in the third quarter, 0.2 percent more than forecast, paced by a pickup in consumer spending, a rebound in government outlays and gains in residential construction, a government report today showed. Crude is still set for its largest weekly drop in a month amid increasing stockpiles.

Heating oil inventories low for Northeast. Price spike ahead?

Distillate inventories in the Northeast part of the United States are far below normal levels. As a result, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is warning that "low distillate inventories could contribute to heating oil price volatility this winter." They forecast that retail heating oil prices in the area will average $0.07 per gallon higher than last year's record average of $3.73 per gallon.

The culprits behind the low inventories are a series of refinery outages, closure of refineries in that area, and to a lesser extent consumers switching from heating oil to natural gas.

Worst Storm in 100 Years Seen for Northeast U.S.

Utilities along the East Coast were monitoring the storm. Nine mid-Atlantic power companies held their first conference call Oct. 24 to discuss how crews will be dispatched to the hardest-hit areas, Myra Oppel, a spokeswoman for Pepco, Washington’s electric utility, said yesterday in an interview.

Insider trading rules should apply to oil outages

(Reuters) - Severe maintenance overruns at Nexen's Buzzard oilfield have highlighted the need for a better regime for disclosing price sensitive information about oil output and problems in the North Sea.

Cnooc and CPC plan joint deepwater exploration pact

TAIPEI -- State controlled energy firms in China and Taiwan are preparing to jointly explore for natural gas in deepwater in the Taiwan Strait, having failed to make significant shallow-water finds despite nearly a decade of prospecting together.

Rosneft Narrowing Gap to Exxon on Buyout Deal

OAO Rosneft is trading at the smallest discount in four months to the world’s most valuable energy stocks as the Russian company’s planned takeover puts it in line to become the biggest global crude producer.

Czech oil crunch a warning to inland Europe refiners

(Reuters) - Russia's decade of investment in new oil export capacity is turning the table on inland European refineries. Where once they were privileged customers at the end of a dedicated export pipeline they are now fighting at a disadvantage for crude.

The situation in the Czech Republic is an excellent example. Local oil refiner Ceska Rafinerska has been forced to shut down its Kralupy plant due to a lack of crude oil.

Bloody battles put Syrian truce to test

(CNN) -- Snipers in Damascus. Soldiers shooting protesters. Clashes outside a military camp.

The allegations of violence by the Syrian opposition came just hours after a temporary cease-fire was to have taken hold on Friday, dimming hopes that the killings that have wracked Syria would stop.

Logistics hub for Iraqi oil

The chronic bottlenecks plaguing Iraq's oil and gas sector could soon be eased by a dedicated industry logistics hub near Basra, the country's maritime gateway.

Shale oil and gas boom puts global warming issue on the back burner

A technological revolution is transforming the world's energy landscape as we move from an expectation of shortages of oil and gas to a new era of abundance. The development of natural gas from shale, that has already taken off in the US, and a variety of technologies are creating new options for oil development, so much so that the notion of peak oil has vanished from the conversation.

We can expect some consequences. Chief among them is the fact that, as energy gets more abundant, the incentives to develop clean, renewable energy drop dramatically. As a result, we are no longer looking at an age of increasing solar, wind and nuclear power. We are moving into a renewed hydrocarbon era of oil and gas. That's very bad news for climate change.

Railroads and the Unavoidable Coal Fiasco

The process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has led to a natural gas boom, resulting in a severe decline in demand for coal. In fact, for the first time in history, electricity generated by natural gas has surpassed electricity generated by coal. This poses a problem for railroads, who generate high-margin business from coal shipments. A closer look will help us see how the coal decline will affect railroads and how individual railroad companies are positioned to face these challenges.

China's Second Shale Gas Block Auction Garners 152 Bids

China's Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said Thursday in a published statement that it received 152 bids for 19 of 20 shale gas blocks offered through a tender process which opened last month.

Chesapeake Is Planning To Frack Within A Mile Of A Nuclear Plant

Natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy has been given permission to drill for natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," one mile away from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, according to multiple reports.

Experts cautious as oil giant BP cracks the Arctic

Arctic experts are calling for more research as British energy giant BP and Russian oil company Rosneft eye new offshore drilling opportunities in the fragile north.

Drilling for oil offshore is risky anywhere, but conditions in the Arctic make this kind of work particularly complicated. John Farrell is a marine geologist and the director of the US Arctic Research Commission. In an interview with DW, he explained that drilling or spill cleanup in the Arctic is complicated by extreme cold, strong winds, breakaway ice blocks and, in the winter, limited daylight.

Capacity Fees May Be Disguised Utility Subsidies, Poyry Says

Energy policy in Europe has lost faith in markets to deliver sustainable, secure and affordable power and may be sending the industry “spiralling” into subsidy dependence, according to Poyry Oyj.

Nuclear is 'shovel-ready' but government and industry still need to work together

But the reality is that North Sea gas is depleting and the UK is now increasingly dependent on imports from Norway and Russia. While shale gas should be investigated it will not be a cheap and easy ride. Even BP has said that usable shale gas resources in Europe are limited.

So our challenge remains the same: we need a balanced energy mix, which delivers security of supply, affordability and decarbonisation.

New nuclear has a vital role to play as part of the mix, alongside renewables, and gas and coal fitted with carbon capture and storage.

California Probes Shutdown of Edison Nuclear Plant

The California Public Utilities Commission voted to open an investigation into the causes and costs of the shutdown of Edison International (EIX)’s San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California.

The commission voted 5-0 today to determine if customers should be charged for repairs and other expenses related to San Onofre, which has been shut since January after investigators found unusual wear on steam generator tubes. The commission will also determine the cost-effectiveness of repairing or replacing the generators.

EON, RWE Said to Sell Nuclear JV for About $967 Million

EON AG and RWE AG, Germany’s two largest utilities, are set to sell their U.K. venture Horizon Nuclear Power to Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. (6501) for about 600 million pounds ($967 million), people familiar with the matter said.

World’s Most Powerful Laser Beams to Zap Nuclear Waste

The European Union will spend about 700 million euros ($900 million) to build the world’s most powerful lasers, technology that could destroy nuclear waste and provide new cancer treatments.

High-speed rail efforts gain momentum across the country

The fields of north-central Illinois may seem like an unlikely backdrop to showcase the future of the nation’s transportation system, but for fans of high-speed rail, they may have done just that.

On Friday, a train on Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis corridor traversed those fields at a speed of 111 mph., 40 percent faster than the line’s normal top speed of 79 mph and faster than any U.S. train outside Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

An Airline Fleet Fueled by Natural Gas

At the end of next year, Qatar Airways is scheduled to open a new airport that will include a 25-meter swimming pool and squash courts, among other amenities. But it will also be extraordinary from an energy standpoint because it will pump airline fuel made from natural gas.

Qatar has relatively little oil and vast supplies of natural gas. Oil goes on tankers to distant destinations, but moving natural gas is much harder for the Persian Gulf emirate. So Royal Dutch/Shell built a gas-to-liquids plant called Pearl that makes a variety of liquid fuels.

Industry study backs green natural gas

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A survey prepared for two U.S. natural gas trade groups claims greenhouse gas emissions from gas production are lower than expected.

Ford closing two more European plants

Ford and rival General Motors have been reporting strong profits in the United States, but European losses have been mounting. Sales there are at a 20-year low due to high unemployment and recession conditions in many countries, brought about by the European sovereign debt crisis.

Europe also has labor laws that make it expensive and time-consuming to close plants, which has led to significant overcapacity in the auto industry there.

Toyota Targets 20% October U.S. Gain on Camry, Prius

Toyota Motor Corp., rebounding in the U.S. after four years of falling sales, may report a 20 percent rise in October deliveries on demand for Camry sedans and Prius hybrids, U.S. Group Vice President Bill Fay said.

Questions Linger on Battery Prices in Electric Cars

More critical in the long term is the question of whether the crucial lithium ion cells will become cheap enough, at a fast enough pace, to make pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars economically practical. After a rapid rate of price declines in the 1990s, the rate has slowed.

“Our view is that battery costs are coming down,” Mr. Sankaran said, adding that there is consensus that by 2020 battery prices will have reached an economically practical level — in the range of $200 to $250 a kilowatt-hour. That is a significant decline from the $1,000-a-kilowatt-hour cost that was the auto industry’s rule of thumb until recently.

Public charging stations fuel desire for electric cars

Public charging stations are sprouting up across the country, often backed by public-private partnerships or businesses trying to lure customers who are waiting for their cars to charge.

They're also a lifeline for apartment and condo residents who want an electric car but have no way of charging them at home.

Masdar plans energetic push in region

Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, is in talks to broaden its footprint across the region.

"There are projects under discussion in Morocco, in Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman and also the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," said Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive.

'Green' growth fuels an entire industry

When Rob Watson was writing the nation's first private standard for environmentally friendly construction in the 1990s, he wanted to require "green" buildings to get recertified after five years to prove they were actually conserving energy and water.

But Watson, an environmentalist and early U.S. Green Building Council member, was rebuffed by council marketers who feared that developers would shun a green standard if they knew they could lose certification down the road.

After Federal Jolt, Clean Energy Seeks New Spark

The spending package provided billions for high-speed rail and mass transit, for job training and for carbon capture demonstration projects.

But the stimulus money is almost all gone, leaving many of these projects without a government benefactor and making them orphans in a competitive marketplace dominated by the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industries.

What happens now?

BP Changes Ethanol Plans in Florida

TALLAHASSEE - Plans for a 36-million gallon per year ethanol plant in Highlands County are being scrapped by BP Oil, which announced Thursday it will seek investment opportunities elsewhere.

Backing off plans announced in 2008 to build the cellulose-based ethanol plant in south-central Florida, BP said it is ending its pursuit of commercial ethanol production in the United States entirely and will instead focus on developing the next generation of bio-fuel technology.

A Multitude of Oysters? Looks Can Be Deceiving

Sal Sunseri, sales manager at the P&J Oyster Company in New Orleans, the oldest shucking operation in the United States, said that while business has gradually been improving since the 2010 spill, the company is still at only 35 percent of its normal production – and the company has yet to resume shucking its own oysters.

Cities Enticed by Pay-if-You-Save Energy Deals

WHEN the city of Brea, Calif., about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, set out to reduce its carbon emissions and save money on energy costs, the challenge was the same faced by many other cities nationwide: allocating the funds to pay for the program.

Finding projects to make city buildings more energy efficient was far easier. So the city turned to a form of financing that has become common among government agencies at all levels: an energy-savings performance contract that requires no upfront costs and allows the city to pay for the project over time using the savings on utility bills.

EU environment ministers in disarray over 'hot air'

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - EU talks to agree tactics ahead of an international climate summit in Doha next month ended in disarray on Thursday, after coal-dependent Poland led opposition to more ambitious attempts to curb atmospheric pollution.

Both Romney and Obama Avoid Talk of Climate Change

WASHINGTON — For all their disputes, President Obama and Mitt Romney agree that the world is warming and that humans are at least partly to blame. It remains wholly unclear what either of them plans to do about it.

Even after a year of record-smashing temperatures, drought and Arctic ice melt, none of the moderators of the four general-election debates asked about climate change, nor did either of the candidates broach the topic.

Terzic: Energy's True Cost Increasingly Reflects CO2 Management

In an article published yesterday, Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions Executive Director Branko Terzic challenged American voters to educate themselves about the "true cost of energy" in order to enrich the energy policy debate. The former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission explained that one of the two components of this true cost is time-of-use pricing, which would give utility customers richer information about the supply of and demand for electricity and natural gas.

Terzic also sees the true cost of energy increasingly reflecting the costs that power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities bear to manage their emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Such costs may be in the form of deploying emission control technologies at plants, paying carbon taxes or buying carbon credits under an emissions trading scheme. Terzic groups these costs into three tiers, ranging from short- to long-term and transitioning from adaptation to mitigation.

The Peak Oil Crisis:The End Game

It is becoming clearer all the time that mankind is approaching a major turning point in its tenure on this planet. Recent reports on the speed with which our climate is deteriorating suggest that much of our earth will become uninhabitable sometime within the next 100 to 200 years. Small pockets of humanoid DNA may make it through the climatic catastrophe ahead to establish new civilizations in coming millennia; however, very few of the some 7 billion of us running around on earth today are going to have living descendants a few hundred years from now.

Without going into the myriad of details, the new reports forecast that the temperatures will get very high; the oceans will flood the coasts and no longer contain much fish; pandemics will be prevalent; and the storms will be so fierce that there simply will not be enough food or habitable areas to keep us all going.

RE: Windmills Overload East Europe’s Grid Risking Blackout

The writer states:

Renewable energy around the world is causing problems because unlike oil it can’t be stored...

I guess Spain, with its solar thermal power plant that stores the energy in molten salt repositories, then uses it at night or when otherwise needed, did not get this memo.

There are several ways to store wind energy as well.

Also, a competent smart-grid can distribute to areas of higher need without storing.

Alan Drake mentions pumped hydro storage. Maybe it needs a new techo-glitzy name to get attention. Like 'i-pump', or 'hydrobatt'...
How many charge/discharge cycles can we get out of water...

Most Intelligent Hydro-Batteries should last multiple centuries (200+ years).

Rewind generators every 50 or so years. Reshape hydro-turbines depending on how clean the water is, but a "touch up" at least every century.

Replace transformers every 50 to 70 years.

Penstock "depends" but most will need recoating every 50 years and replacing or relining at least every 250 years.

Take valves out of service for maintenance every 40 to 50 years. Again, depends on water quality.

Best Hopes for "Intelligent Hydro Batteries",


I think you have a winner. Maybe even add the word 'lithium' if there is a trace of it in the water(0.0000001%) should be enough for congressional approval...

How would power storage facilities be financed?

Should generators of intermittent power sources be required to pay into a fund to capitalize storage facilities?

Can storage facilities be financed on their own through the cash flow from buying cheap power during periods of oversupply and selling it back at high prices during periods of undersupply? Is there an electricity trading market in Germany that would support this?

Is there an electricity trading market in Germany that would support this?

Yes, there is: The European Energy Exchange EEX ( http://www.eex.com/ ) All of the renewable energy gets traded via the exchange and overall about 20 - 30 GW of electricity gets traded at a total demand of 50 - 70GW of electricity in Germany. In response to the fluctuating RE, the system was extended a couple of years ago to support negative prices.

Whether pumped hydro plants do buy their electricity on the exchange or via long term over the counter contracts from nuclear and lignite power plants I don't know. But with about 30% of electricity volume going through the exchange, it would be surprising if they didn't to some degree.

It is a bit of a difficult time for pumped hydro (and other storage systems) though currently. Due to the high PV production, the midday power prices, that were traditionally the time when pumped hydro and gas peakers made their money, are now quite suppressed, reducing the price swings on the exchange, and thus making storage non-profitable. As PV (and to some degree wind) continue to grow, the situation will likely reverse, allowing them to buy cheap power at midday and selling it during the morning and evening peaks, moving from one to two cycles per day.

Swiss utilities had plans for 12 GW of Intelligent Hydro-Batteries (tm) until solar PV killed their arbitrage (buy French nuke power at 3 AM for real cheap, sell at Peak, average 5x the price/MWh).

Still, a lot was built. In addition to just modulating flow through conventional hydropower plants.

And I would put the cost burden on the consumer. Cheap power when the wind is blowing hard on a sunny day :-)

Germany & Austria have an agreement to build old fashioned pumped storage (needs rebranding) & improved transmission.

Best Hopes for More,


Can storage facilities be financed on their own through the cash flow from buying cheap power during periods of oversupply and selling it back at high prices during periods of undersupply?

I would think the price spread would be the best mechanism to stimulate new storage facilities to be built.

And not to forget that you don't need a mountain. Hole in ground is good too, like sinkhole near a lake.

Also, can use any big solid mass on a windlass going down hole. Bearings? Simple, hydrostatic bearings take near nothing to pump up and will handle huge load with close to zero wear/loss.

In the limit, mass- height energy storage can be near 100% turnaround efficiency. Even in the middle ages they knew all about it.

But first-quit throwing away so much perfectly good energy doing destructive things like traveling around too much- or blathering doom.

have you done the math on how big a weight you would need to windlass down the hole for say 400 kwh/month (typical household use) ? The results might surprise you.

gravitational potential energy = mgh

m = mass
g = acceleration of gravity = 9.8 m/s2
h = vertical distance through which the mass moves

If m = 5000 kg and h = 300 m, then the energy stored is 14.7 MJ or 4.08 kWh assuming 100% efficiency of the motor and generator.

Yep. Just right for my needs. Mass is cheap, holes are cheap, esp when you already have one.

And, to the other question. I am totally not surprised. and I don't come even close to 'AVERAGE" use. and what idiot would think of storing a month's supply? a few hours would be just fine- like, one hour. Plenty of time to fire up the wood stirling out there in the shop.

Scotland hasn't got much in the way of storage and I think we are already up to apmon's 20/30% penetration from onshore wind farms alone, though we have grid transmission to England. Scotland's peak energy requirement is 10.5GW.
"Over half of Scotland’s renewable energy capacity comes from 80 wind farms, providing 2 GW of electricity across the country. An additional 7 GW of onshore wind energy capacity is currently under construction or planned."
As for offshore - "A generating capacity of 10 GW is currently planned for Scottish waters. The Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Demonstrator project has deployed the world’s largest offshore turbine in the deepest water, some 23 kilometres offshore."


Energy companies are now looking to build new pumped hydro stations - this is the first sizeable one (300-600MW)

But this is small and precious country:

"... pumped storage is a net user of electricity due to inefficiencies in the energy conversion process. It does not generate electricity itself either – rather it takes electricity produced elsewhere and by other means to pump water to the upper reservoir for future use. In this way, excess electricity produced from inflexible systems, such as wind turbines, can be stored for future use, when demand outstrips generation.

In sensitive landscape areas, the John Muir Trust supports the development of small-scale, sensitively-sited renewable energy schemes adjacent to existing settlements, which demonstrate that renewable energy may be sourced and benefit local communities without impacting on wild land.

However, pumped storage is not a renewable technology"

So, to get, finally, to Alan's point above, how about Rechargable Water Batteries? And how many will Scotland need?

"pumped storage is a net user of electricity due to inefficiencies in the energy conversion process"

This is an utterly empty argument. Any energy storage mechanism has losses of some sort. Capacitors have dielectric heating loss and internal resistance, for example.

How the energy is transferred is important, too. Connecting a charged capacitor, again for example, to an empty capacitor causes 50% of the energy to turn into heat: half the energy is lost. The energy is lost in the resistance of the parts and their connections. An inductance must be used. The electric voltage stress from the stiff capacitive source is used to build a rising magnetic field from the currents it will cause to flow within an initially compliant coil or inductor. This magnetic field is then allowed to relax and act as a current source that builds voltage within the once empty capacitor that is now being charged. The charged capacitor then acts as a stiff voltage source: Voltage source / dielectric stress --> Current source / magnet flux --> voltage source / dielectric stress. This is also how light propagates. The speed of light is determined by the unit volume inductance and capacitance of space hereabouts. Higher unit volume capacitance and inductance slows light down through, for example, water and plastic: they are said to have a higher index of refraction. Exceeding the speed of light within such a material, like water, causes Cerenkov radiation: That eerie blue glow in nuclear fuel storage pools... pools of water, that is.

One energy storage technology that is a good fit for offshore wind power is undersea compressed air. This also neatly sidesteps the NIMBY issue. In 1000 feet of water, an ocean bottom tank about 400 feet high by 500 feet diameter would store 1 GWh of energy. It would need to be built about the same strength as a standard above-ground water storage tank. So, steel reinforced concrete with standard slip-form construction. That's a pretty big structure, but not that much larger than a lot of sports stadiums and a heck of a lot more useful. Also, this approach could scale way up with no exotic metals needed, and concrete tanks last a long time. Add these to an offshore wind farm and suddenly you've got dispatchable baseload power. Something to think about.

A couple of points.

Intelligent Hydro-Batteries(tm) have up to 81% cycle efficiency (out/in), although low 70% is not uncommon.

4 in when in surplus, 3 out when you need it with 1 minute's notice is not a bad trade at all.

A HVDC line to Iceland could be very useful. Ship excess wind north, and they hold back hydro. And they could develop a lot of hydro that runs spring, summer and fall. It is just in the winter (when water assumes a solid state - see the national name) that hydro potential wanes.

Since Scottish wind is strongest in the winter, this could be a good trade.

I could see 1 GW traded back & forth, but much more Iceland > Scotland.

"How much" pumped storage depends on many factors. Wind vs. load profiles, interconnects (Ireland is another option#), what % renewable do you want, how much storage does Scottish hydro have, and more.

# Ireland is another developing wind exporter, into the English market. However, there should be some time offset between peak Irish wind and peak Scottish wind from the same storm.

Best Hopes for more renewables,


Another consideration is transmission loss. 1 GW over a 765 KV AC line loses 0.5% to 1% per 100 miles, and that happens both ways.


The ideal geometry would have pumped storage between the generator and destination. Worst case would be out and back to some distant location. Local or even better distributed storage within the grid (e.g. plug-in cars at 90% charge efficiency) would avoid the sizeable transmission loss to some distant pumped storage reservoir.

HV DC losses, at maximum amperage, are about 3% per 1,000 km or 5% per 1,000 miles.

Significantly lower.


Well it depends on how much you are willing to pay for the wire. DC uses a lot less wire for a given loss - no three phase, no radiation loss, no skin effect, and less corona due to smaller peak voltage. But the best case 6-wire AC is still comparable to 2 wire DC, at a given voltage - also 5% per 1,000 miles according that pdf.

According to Siemens, "Typically, DC line losses are 30–40% less than with AC lines, at the same voltage levels, and for long-distance cable transmission DC is the only solution, technically and economically."

DC does have the advantage when running below capacity, since I-squared-R is the major component of loss.

Thanks to all above.

Pumped hydro storage is a great solution but the initial capital expense is one of the main barriers, as is finding suitable locations where people agree that they can be installed (NIMBY).

I believe the solution will require a shotgun approach where every option is used. Batteries, pumped hydro storage, molten salt, liquid fuels, etc.

One of the biggest concerns, as we power down the world's industrialized capacity will be the level of technology that can be sustained. PV solar may be nice but it requires billion dollar fabs and million man supply chains. All this must be considered as we move way from fossil fuels.

It is conceivable that humans will not be able to maintain our current complex technology without the huge amounts of net energy provided by fossil fuels. If so, thermal solar and wind using pumped hydro storage and biofuels are probably the last lines of defense for providing humans with their power needs.

As usual, only the rich will enjoy these future luxuries.

The ride down the back side of the fossil fuel bell curve will be an interesting time, indeed. Scavenging will be a huge part of the equation due to the fact that we have so many resources that were generated with all that excess net energy over the last 100 years or so. We have massive amounts of metals, machines, construction materials, computer chips, roads, bridges, etc. that will still be very useful to post fossil fuel man.

Oh that we might have Germany's problem :: too much electricity. What a novel concept.

An acquaintance of mine has been developing an electricity storage technology which can scale and has a low environmental footprint. I called him last month to find out how things are going.

I had thought he was going to tell me about progress on a megawatt-hour prototype. No, he's talking to, you guessed it, the Germans, and they're asking him to design a Gigawatt-hour system.

When the Germans meet this challenge, they will have technology applicable in all grid environments.

Meanwhile the storage technology in most countries is digging up rocks and burning them. Next they will be buying from the Germans.

Chinese saying: There are two kinds of businessman, good and bad. Good businessman selling; bad businessman buying.

Oh that we might have Germany's problem :: too much electricity. What a novel concept.

Sounds like more of a feature than a bug to me! Funny that nobody in Eastern Europe can find a use for all that surplus electricity... Though I have a hunch that might change in the near future. They could always install more of these!


I may be going out on a limb here, but the real solution to overloaded power is still just a smart switching grid.

At worst, an intelligent grid could shunt the extra power at the source.

Electricity is a flow of electrons and they only need to go into a sink when they are not needed. I can imagine that every wind turbine could have a local ground with a matched impedance for the excess current to sink to. The main point is to be able to dissipate any heat that is generated, and be able to control the shunting quickly

As Fred says, it also sounds like more a feature than a bug. Instead of a local heat sink, someone else could think of something else to do with the excess power. How about having a water slide at every turbine, or a snowmaker in the winter?

It's not a problem, it's an opportunity.

Or something less trivial, like an installed (mobile, modular,shipping-container-based) micro-manufacturing facility that only runs when excessive wind/solar is available.

Electricity is a flow of electrons and they only need to go into a sink when they are not needed.

WebHubbleTelescope, the best thing to do is to just turn off the generators that are not needed rather than trying to design a system to sink the surplus electricity.

Oh that we might have Germany's problem :: too much electricity. What a novel concept.

Remember that Germany would only be a good-sized state (by area) in the western US, and that this surplus is regional even within Germany -- Germany lacked the north-south transmission capacity to carry all of the surplus northern wind power to meet demand in the south. The US also has regional power surpluses from time to time. The best sustained example was in spring 2011, when heavy snow melt runoff in Oregon produced so much hydro power that wind generators were required to throttle back -- there simply wasn't enough local demand or transmission capacity to other demand centers to handle the power available.

A smarter transmission grid would help, but there still has to be more plain old bulk transmission capacity added, both in Germany and in parts of the US.

It is if you consider the low temperatures in the storage not useful to convert expensive electricity to heat and then try to get electricity back, you lose more than 60%. The thermal storage make only sense if you start with chaep thermal energy as in case of the shown power plants.

Germany and Austria have to improve the direct transmission capacities and Germany has to build more wind mills in the southern states, no dispute here. With a 70 yeras old transmission net many investments are due anyway, so some of the high costs are pure propaganda in order to get money from the taxpayer.

In addition, some of the neighbour countries could think harder about a common market without too much protection for own (surplus) capacities, with many power plants to be replaced in the next decade there are a lot of opportunities.

You are vastly overstating the current scale and viability of storage systems to deal with the intermittent power supplied by solar and wind.

The Spanish example is interesting, but at tiny scale and appropriate to solar thermal, but not PV, which is the source of the vast majority of supply.

As your link shows there are several theoretical ways to store power, but aside from pumped storage, none have been applied at any significant scale. And all of these add to the costs to the system.

In certain circumstances smart grids can redirect power to other areas, but this is harder than it sounds. In the US, my understanding is that the main way in which smart grids currently deal with intermittency is by purchasing additional small gas fired turbines that can ramp up quickly to compensate.

The reality is that the quote you are attempting to refute is correct, at least as applied to solar and wind. That their intermittency is causing problems in indisputable to anyone but an ideologue.

Europe and the US have made great strides in bring solar and wind onto their grids and will continue to. However, continued expansion is hampered by both cost and power quality issues. And these will only be solved with time and money - not fantasy.


You conflate competent grids with BAU grids which have pieces falling off anytime anything moves.

That we do not have competent grids with storage built in, with the capacity to take any energy into it no matter the type of generation, and distribute it where it is needed, is evidence of engineering folly, engineering incompetence (lack of foresight, vision, of future needs), and in some cases criminality.

Glorifying that incompetence as a reason for perpetuating it is wrong on all fronts.

The dirty oil and dirty coal propagandists have been doing that since they went utterly nuts long ago, and went criminally nuts fewer-years-than-that ago.

I've been following The Oil Drum for several years. My impression is that we've made a lot of progress over this time period in reducing the cost of solar PV and wind energy. However, I haven't seen the same degree of progress in regards to providing large amounts of inexpensive storage for electrical power. Unless you are an area that has a large amount of hydro electric capacity backed by large water reservoirs (think Quebec or Norway) I am just not seeing practical, realistic solutions for storing large quantities of surplus electricity.

There hasn't been much need for large scale electricity storage yet. There are very few sizable grids so far that have reached the necessary penetration in fluctuating RE at which storage becomes an issue. You can reach at least about 20 - 30% penetration with wind and solar before you need storage. Before that, it is easier and cheaper to build transmission lines or throw away the odd hours worth of RE if there truly is an oversupply for a short time.

Only once significant markets with frequent surplus electricity emerge will their be sufficient pressure on the system to develop solutions.

Possibly the easiest way is to move some of the thermal market to use dual fuel with backup electric heat for times of electricity surplus. With that, there would still be a long way to go before real storage is necessary.

I think there are enough ideas and concepts already out there that over the next decade or so, practical solutions will appear if there is a need to.

Grid-scale battery could keep going and going...

... "Virtually all of the energy-storage capacity currently on the grid is provided by pumped hydroelectric power, which requires an immense capital investment, is location-dependent and suffers from low energy efficiency," the team write.

... Currently, the world's most powerful battery is in Zhangbei, Hebei province, China (above). It can hold 36 megawatt-hours of energy, and is used as a backup to a 140-megawatt solar and wind power installation

There is absolutely no need for pumped storage if you have suitable hydro electric generation and storage facilities. I cannot think of any place better suited for this than Quebec, Canada. Hydro Quebec's LG2 generating site has over 7000Mw of generating capacity and a vertical drop twice the height of Niagara Falls. The Robert-Bourassa reservoir which feeds the LG2 generators is over 2800 square kilometers in size. Wind power fits very well with these kind of hydro electric facilities since hydro production can be scaled back as much as is required to accommodate periods of strong wind production and the water that would have been used simply retained in the large reservoirs for use in the future.

We are not nearly as blessed in Ontario as we lack the combination of large hydro generating capacity and large storage. Indeed, the largest generating station at Niagara Falls is essentially a "run of river" facility.

it's all about distance. Manitoba hydro has the same as Quebec-95+% hydro. During the day the power lines humm with power going south and in dry years the power flows north at night and the hydro can be virtually shut off. But there is no significant solar within 1000 miles of the power stations. The connections are reasonably good north/south but east/west are very poor (the frequencies are allowed to shift around relative to each other so phase shifting is required for Manitoba to sell to Ontario or Alberta). The feds don't want to get involved (fund a DC line)so Ontario pays 3 or 4 times the power rate that Manitobans do.

...or throw away the odd hours worth of RE if there truly is an oversupply for a short time.

apmon, I agree. It may seem like a waste but if it occurs rarely, it is less expensive than adding storage to accomodate it.

There is already a perfect solution for this problem - the Better Place model for transportation. Their network is basically a smart grid where the EVs are plugged into the grid 22 out of the 24 hours in a day. All those massive batteries love to feed on that extra wind power like babies at the breast.

Since the network can determine, based on supply and demand, when and where that energy gets routed, it is a win win for everyone.

Of course, in a few decades this will be common but the solution is a reality today. Just go to Denmark where this is in full operation. Sure, the number of BP EVs are small, because the infrastructure just came online, but it is working and taking all that intermittent wind power.

Why not just disconnect the windmills from the transmission lines and let some spin freely?

They would probably be damaged. However the blades can be feathered into a configuation such that the wind barely tunrs them. I've seen them in this "park" mode many times.

Sometimes there are certain financial or operating agreement reasons to let the generator spin but ground the power rather than vane them. For example, a financing agreement can be subject to a certain number of hours used or kilowatts produced in order to get a certain rate at the next (rate) reset period. Also, usage is a marketing argument for if/when the developer wants to develop another windpark.
Generally the financing of a windpark is contigent on having sold a good percentage of the expected output forward so revenue is secured (and the debt can be serviced). So although spot prices may be low or even negative in order to get the payout from the forward sale or swap you have to produce regardless of the price. Ultimately wind/solar are price takers, not price setters, at least most of the time.

Another way of using excess electricity is to converty the green house gas CO2 into methanol:

The second approach involves carbon dioxide. We were co-inventors of the direct methanol fuel cell. This fuel cell uses methanol and produces CO2 and water. It occurred to us that maybe you could reverse the process. And, indeed, you can take carbon dioxide and water, and if you have electric power, you can chemically reduce it into methanol.

(Tech Review, 2006). The Indy 500 race cars used methanol for forty years, and it has many advantages and is compatible with current technology (Chemical & Engineering). Imagine that, using excess energy to take pollution out of the air and diminish the greenhouse gas effect, as a form of "battery", storing the energy in methanol.

It can then be converted into a host of derivitives to run diesel and other internal combustion engines, to fuel turbin engines to generate more electricity, etc., and make plastics, etc.

Thinking is the first step in new ideas, "it costs too much" is only propaganda.

A number of companies (including major engineering companies like Siemens) are working on "power-to-gas" solutions. I.e. electricity to hydrogen or electricity to methane. As an example, Germany currently has a capacity of about 0.04TWh of pumped hydro storage but ~200 TWh of storage for methane. So once power-to-gas becomes viable the storage situation is "solved". They are hoping to have prototype solutions in the 100MW range by 2018.

The problem is its low efficiency ( < 50% round trip efficiency) and the need to be cost effective while only being operated a few hundred hours a year.

Another way to deal with periods of excessive production feeding into insufficient transmission lines is to shut down some of the wind turbines.

The whole thread above this post concerns energy storage for use with wind farms and photo-voltaic (PV) 'farms'. But the emphasis is on hydro-gravitational potential energy storage, which only works where there is a water supply and an appropriate landscape with elevation differences.

A different way to store energy is in flywheels. Beacon Energy was developing flywheels for short term energy storage in connection with phase control on the 60 Hz grid. They are in bankruptcy now. The technology is fundamentally more expensive than hydro storage, but ...
we all know that sustainable won't be as cheap as petroleum has been.
Flywheels are a technology for which the underlying science is much better understood than the science of cold fusion.

It is a measure of how difficult our situation is that flywheels really are the least bad option from a realistic science and technology point of view.

See http://www.beaconpower.com to get a feel for how far we have to go. It won't be easy, but it is not absolute, final doom. One optimistic observation: there is plenty of space for the flywheels on the ground on land already occupied by wind turbines of PV collectors. Picture thousands of flywheels among hundreds of turbines or solar arrays. ;-)

All this obsession with storing energy to make electricity when it can be stored as heat or cold at the point of use. Add to that the obsession that we need to have absolutely constant use of electricity. We will just have to re-organise to use power as available, do the laundry during the day while there is cheap solar power instead of at night when fossil fuel stations are under-used and struggling so are desperate to sell electricity at whatever price. Times, they are a changing.


"...the obsession that we need to have absolutely constant use of electricity."

Ask areas that are experiencing "load shedding" how important consistent electricity is. I experienced a 1 second discontinuity the other day which shut my computer down and sent the cable-box on a 15 minute journey to reload the program information (1st world problems). Now imagine that you have a business which gets shut down randomly for a few hours at the whim of the weather. It seems obvious that things will have to change at some point, but getting there is likely to be a bumpy ride. If there are any places left that can "afford" it we'll probably start seeing a lot of businesses and homes installing a UPS for critical loads.

Well, if you are doing any serious work on a computer without a UPS (laptop with battery in is an acceptable substitute) then you are asking for trouble wherever you are. Same with any other important equipment. Grid never has been 100% reliable. Businesses will just have to change their working model and that doesn't often require huge changes, maybe use the light coming in through the window instead of 8' 70W tubes that also add to your A/C bill that could probably be slashed with better ventilation/shade/insulation/white paint. Flexibility with working hours and job allocation. There are many ways to change and it is more than about time that change was made. We only do the things the way we do because electric companies only want to make electricity at a constant level. They offer incentives to use their excess. They will just have to change the incentives so that we can make good of abundances of renewables when available and conserve when they are not.


The issue with power to gas is, that it will cost a least 6-7 cents per kWh, therefore, large scale production only makes sense when the NG price is much higher, test the technology, yes, but do not apply it in large scale before 2030 in Germany. Until 2025 there is no need for large scale storage anyway.

Europe has with Norway a huge hydro storage facility with a potential of > 80 TWh. You can in the first step simply moderately increase the transmission capacity to Norway and supply Norway during summertime with excess (PV, wind) energy to cover their demand, they save water which in return could be used to produce energy in winter which is sold to central European countries. All this would work with available hardware in Norway.

The next step would be to increase pump and turbine capacities in Norway.

Another option, smaller than Norway, is Iceland.

Besides the slightly over 1 GW of installed hydro (designed for nearly constant production, so more turbines need to be added), there are MANY undeveloped sites that can produce very economic hydropower for 7 to 8 months of the year. A time when most EU wind is at a minimum. Water could be held back each day until the sun is about to set in the EU.

Best Hopes,


Re: The Peak Oil Crisis:The End Game

Tom Whipple's latest presents a list of effects of global warming, giving a seriously doomerish view of the Earth's future. Sad to say, he ends by suggesting that one possible future is to be found in the form of the so-called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). While one would hope that some breakthru in science or technology will save us from his projected future, one should remember the old saying:

"Don't count your chickens until they hatch"...

E. Swanson

It's really odd, how he's glommed on to cold fusion as our possible savior. You'd think someone with technocopian inclinations wouldn't be a peak oiler at all.

I agree. I am surprised he doesn't see the bigger picture regarding cold fusion. If we successfully ramped it up and it literally replaced every BTU currently produced by fossil fuels, we'd only be successfully moving beyond one limit of many in the limits to growth. We wouldn't be dumping a bunch of CO2 into the air anymore but we'd still be dumping lots of waste heat from all these cold fusion reactors. We'd also be dealing with shortages of fresh water, arable land, and all the base metals, rare earth metals and lithium that would be needed to run a fully electrified hi-tech civilization running on cold fusion.

And if we didn't change the cultural mindset of "exponential growth on a finite planet is possible, desirable and the only option"...then we'd just hit all the other limits very rapidly.

We'd also be dealing with shortages of fresh water, arable land, and all the base metals, rare earth metals and lithium that would be needed to run a fully electrified hi-tech civilization running on cold fusion.

It is almost impossible do disagree with that in general, though Nick several times published some sites which show that there is enough Lithium to electrify the fleet of cars. Problem is that there are only a few countries with big Lithium mines. Besides this there are other elements possible for batteries and there are 'the elements of hope' (published by TOD a few years ago).

In the Ringworld series an intelligent species runs up against the problem of waste heat overwhelming their environment, and they were forced to move their planet farther away from the sun. Here's to hoping for intelligently applied geoengineering :-)

the pupeteers - an apt name for those in charge

it was Arthur C Clark I beleive who pointed out that advanced civilizations last waste product would be heat


Simple thermodynamics. Heat is the lowest quality of energy.

Re cold fusion: Can anybody provide serious sources that really support the claim of higher thermal out-put compared to the elctrical input. This should easily be determined with calorimeters. The fact that most science foundations do not support cold fusion projects any longer point to some severe methodological issues.

Oh I'm sure it's real, just look at this picture and I'm sure you'll agree! /sarc



Can Andrea Rossi's Infinite-Energy Black Box Power The World--Or Just Scam It?

Rossi--a lone Italian inventor with no real credentials and a history as a convicted scam artist--has convinced a small army of researchers that his box can harness a new type of nuclear reaction. What if they're right?

BTW the above article showed up in my inbox sent by popsci in an apparent attempt to entice me into a subscription to their magazine, I've decided to pass up the opportunity >;-)

"Rossi--a lone Italian inventor with no real credentials and a history as a convicted scam artist--has convinced a small army of researchers that his box can harness a new type of nuclear reaction."

My bullsh** meter is pegged at extremely high just from reading this.

My meter has been pegged out on this story ever since I first heard it.

Can anybody provide serious sources that really support the claim of higher thermal out-put compared to the elctrical input.

Recent report by Defkalion (Hyperion LENR) supposed to be by undisclosed observer but quickly established as Micheal A Nelson. The pdf's have now been successfully redacted


1.Defkalion was able to demonstrate an excess of energy.
2.They were able to demonstrate that they can fully control the reaction: starting it, stopping it, increasing and decreasing it.
3.They were able to demonstrate that the reaction is dependent on hydrogen gas.
4.The contents of the reactor were removed and weighed to be 59 grams of mass,most of which was a ceramic encasement. Therefore, the reaction appears to produce more energy than a chemical reaction from a known amount with an equivalent mass; implying a nuclear reaction is involved.
5.There were error bands associated with all data obtained which have not yet been completely established. These will need to be addressed in a detailed analysis of this data.
6.It is my opinion that Defkalion is sincerely attempting to accurately measure and demonstrate the performance of their technology with confidence that they can achieve a COP >1 for a long enough period to exclude any possibility of a chemical reaction.

Defkalion call it LENR -- Low Energy Nuclear Reaction. I call it BFM -- Bovine Fecal Matter.

disclaimer: I do NOT think it's likely to be a real effect; and was among the first to note Whipple's "jumping the shark" in his belief in it. It has been clear from day one that Rossi is a scammer.

So saying, readers here have also seen comments by me wondering, despite my heavy skepticism, if there is some kinda signal, some real anomalous effect. The main reason for wondering this is that there seem to be a number of researchers who claim to have repeatedly reproduced an effect. I've had email from the head scientist of NASA Langley tell me that it will likely be a trillion-dollar industry; a number of people have been convinced.

Now there is a HUGE fallacy involved in sorting any kind of science via social cues - the number and sincerity of believers bears no relation to the reality or correctness of a scientific proposition, particularly when the conclusion is one a person "wants" to believe. Just look at the fairly high number of scientists who don't necessarily believe that their personal deaths will negatively affect their social lives. And it is possible for results to converge without an overt conspiracy, much the way the stories of "alien abductees" tend to converge on standard definitions of alien appearance.

Still, when you have guys from MIT saying they have experiments which have been producing excess power for months, and seeming sincere and competent about it, I feel like building one of the damn things myself.

Finding some new simpler route to fusion right now in the nick of time, on the cusp of civilizational collapse and human dieback, and in contravention to our best models of the way the universe works, would nearly smack of divine intervention. It would be the ultimate cornucopian validation, a win for the silly proposition that the universe is constructed in just such a way that there is a reward waiting at the end of every crisis to boost humans to the next level of the energy video game; that monkey cleverness can find answers even where none seem to exist.

For that's what would be necessary: not only a new area of physics, but we'd pretty much have to drill down and make it practical nearly immediately.

And then.... and then... (drum roll).... we would STILL keep digging up and burning coal, even if it was no longer necessary, because it would still be essentially free low-tech energy and because it has cultural momentum. We'd still convert stuff to liquid fuels for the fighting of wars and the wooing of women. Because we're stupid. Really, really, stupid. The fusion-users would probably have to nuke the coal users to get them to stop. Seriously. (and of course, some of the unrepentant coal users will also have nukes.)

If there is some actual alternate way to fusion which is at all difficult, we'll probably simply miss it by being busy with the wars & famines thing for the next hundred years, and busy with being illiterate mutants for a good while after that, and then later (if there is a tech renaissance) there simply won't be available elements & infrastructure to do high tech stuff.

Still, I find myself wondering about the little experiments and their results.

Because I'm human too.

It takes 10-20 years before a new discovery finds commercial applications. It is now 23 years since Pons and Fleischmann first reported anomalous heat from their experiments and posited cold fusion as the cause.

Cold fusion is still basically a laboratory curiosity with no products of any commercial use despite the huge potential. One can't take the e-cat and its ilk seriously. I don't think there is any there there.

The blades of the large MW type windmills cannot be feathered. No mechanism for this.

curioustom, I don't think that is right. The blades are feathered to spill the wind when it is not needed.

RE: Worst Storm in 100 Years Seen for Northeast U.S.

Sea level rise around the globe is highest where Hurricane Sally is heading.

That area will have several high tides SUN-WED … add storm surge to those high tides and it could cause serious flooding.

Will it affect the election?

Vote early. Polls may be hard to get to after Sunday afternoon – Monday morning.

Vote today if you can … in NJ, NY, Del, MD, DC, MA, and Pennsylvania too.

Add WV and states bordering it if the "Frankenstorm" takes shape when the two storms meld … bringing a snowpocalypse that might also hamper access to the polls and/or cause long term power outages.

Voting machines could be down … flooding … power outages could last a while … in several states.

In Virginia, a swing state, most of the Democrats are around Richmond and towards the coast. While a hard hit from Sandy may reduce turnout in these areas, it seems more Democrats are voting early in some areas.

Another issue will be the closing of east coast refineries (and runs on fueling stations prior to this storm).

In Virginia, the Democrats are overwhelmingly concentrated in Northern Virginia adjacent DC. Fairfax county w/ ~500K votes is triple that of the next largest Va. county. Virginia hinges on the turnout of Democrats in Fairfax and Arlington. The D. turnout was overwhelming in 2008 for Obama, but reversed trend in 2010 when the Republicans overwhelmingly took the Governorship.

My preferred term is not "Global Warming", or even "Climate Change" but "Climate Chaos".

Which I think applies to the looming storm.

But what % of the electorate can connect the dots ?


It looks like we're going to get hit, but it's still hard to tell. It is really amazing how much we've been hit, up here in the northeast, over the last couple of years (chaos does increasingly seem to be an appropriate word). Over the last two years, by my surely incomplete list, we've had record snow, record heat, record rain, and soon our second hurricane.

I'm connecting the dots, but I've lurked around here for years, so that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Prepare for a "Sandy-blasting" TM.

"Climate Chaos".

Which I think applies to the looming storm.

Don't know regarding this storm. Hurricane season ends 30 november.

November 30 is the end in the Caribbean, warmer water there - hurricanes have pretty much ended in the Gulf of Mexico already by this time of year.

This is a real anomaly.


On page 38 of this pdf is a breakdown of storms in Maine by date. 3 out of 45 have occurred between October 16 and 31, though none in November. And Maine is further north than Sandy's current forecasted landfall. So its not really that unusual.

The pdf also contains storm tracks for all the hurricanes to hit Maine. Almost all these storms are going north-east, but this one is forecasted to hit the coast head-on, in a north-west direction. That is unusual, IMHO.

The most unusual feature of this storm is the 'hybrid' aspect: It's going to force its way between a blocking high to the northeast and a powerful cold front coming in from the northwest. Those in the squeeze zone will witness quite a battle as these systems come to terms. Lots of energy there, looking for somewhere to go. The duration of this event should cause significant widespread impacts as well.

The Weather Channel interviewed some guy with a home on the coast at Nag's Head, NC. He said these storms actually are building coastline and beaches (they know because they hired their own 'experts'); seemed like a thinly veiled denial of sea level rise. Meanwhile, they've spent $millions on 'beach replenishment' and 'renourishment', some of which actually makes sense (restoring sea oats and grasses, etc.) Nag's Head is at the heart of North Carolina's battle over climate change, coastal zoning and development, and planning. The denial and hubris are remarkable.

Sandy isn't forecast to remain a simple hurricane. It's predicted to become an extratropical storm, because it's advecting cold air and growing into a widespread frontal system. The storm is also gaining energy from abnormally warm water off of the US coast. It's definitely not a garden-variety category 2.

Jeff Masters


Severe impacts likely in the U.S.

Sandy's expected landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast is likely to be a billion-dollar disaster. Sandy should bring sustained winds of 50 - 60 mph with gusts over hurricane force to a large section of coast, and the storm may be moving slowly enough that these conditions will persist for a full 24 hours. With most of the trees still in leaf, there will be widespread power outages due to downed trees. Sandy is expected to have tropical storm-force winds that extend out more than 400 miles from the center, which will drive a much larger storm surge than its winds would ordinarily suggest. The latest H*Wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Sandy's winds at 2.1 on a scale of 0 to 6, and the destructive potential of the storm surge much higher, at 4.2 on a scale of 0 to 6. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. With Sandy's strongest winds expected to last at least 12 hours near the time of landfall, the peak storm surge will affect the coast for at least one high tide cycle, and possibly two. This will greatly increase the potential for storm surge damage and coastal erosion. If Sandy hits Long Island, as the GFS model predicts, the storm surge will be capable of over-topping the flood walls in Manhattan and flooding portions of the New York City subway system. Fresh water flooding from heavy rains is also a huge concern. Rainfall amounts of 5 - 10 inches will occur over several hundred mile-long swath of coast, with isolated amounts of 15 inches possible. Fortunately, soils are dry and river levels are low over most of the threatened region, which should keep Sandy's river flooding lower than that experienced last year during Hurricane Irene. Nevertheless, Sandy is shaping up to be a historic storm for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. that has few precedents.

Hurricane Sandy heads for US – live updates

The NOAA has produced a rather disconcerting animation that captures computer modeling of Sandy as the storm makes landfall in the Northeastern US.

In the animation, the storm hits land and then stalls, swirling around the New York City area like it's trying to go down a drain, before being whipped to the north.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has declared a state of emergency, joining Maryland. His office notes that "based on current forecasts, the eastern third of Virginia could experience tropical storm force winds for more than 48 hours, along with several inches of rain and coastal flooding." ...

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has declared a state of emergency in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy and encourages residents to make emergency preparations ...

The last major storm to threaten the northeast coast was Hurricane Irene, which made landfall in Brooklyn, New York on 28 August 2011 and caused an estimated $15.8bn in damage

Hurricane Sandy may be unprecedented in East Coast storm history

Model simulations have consistently simulated minimum pressures below 950 mb, which would be the lowest on record in many areas.


Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan noted there has only been one tropical storm with the pressure below 960 mb in the last 60 years in the Northeast

These historic low pressure levels simulated by the model are equivalent to a category 3 or 4 hurricane, which have peak winds over 115 mph. But Sandy’s winds will not be that high, because as it transitions into this hybrid hurricane-nor’easter, its core will unwind. So its peak winds will diminish, but strong winds will be felt over a vast area. Think of a compressed slinky expanding as you let it go.

The word "unprecedented" is going to become like the word "sustainable". Most weather events nowadays have the word "unprecedented" before them.

Lobstermen worried that Hurricane Sandy could wreak havoc on traps

Hurricane Sandy is expected to stir up New England waters within the next few days, potentially causing trouble for the state’s already fragile lobster business.

“A lot of the gear has been brought in rather than chance it out there, but I don’t think everyone can bring all of their gear in,” Adler said.

The storm has such a grave impact on the lobster business because lobstermen only start bringing gear in at the end of October and often continue fishing until the end of December, he said.

... looks like this will be a warm-up to post peak

and Hurricane Sandy: Freaky forecast prompts state of emergency declarations

This thing has been so hyped that I'm beginning to think it won't happen. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking ;-)

- Steve (in New England)

Don't want to get too complacent, since Irene didn't look like much at first...but it's looking like New England will be spared the worst. Tracks are moving southward, to Delaware/Maryland.

This could still be bad news for NYC. The worst part of the storm will be north of the eye, so the storm surge could be ugly.

If hurricanes dump massive amounts of rain in their path, don't they self-dampen as they pick up their own cold rainwater?

We're going to have to watch and learn, Aardvark.

That goes for most of the goings on around TOD, though, don't you think? We are living in a time of extreme change; ecological change, political change and economic change. Things will not be the same, if the ever really were. Today, though. the old paradigms of growth and increasing energy use no longer seem possible. How the changes will impact all of us, whether they will become fixed or will be temporary, are still unknown; though the better computer programs seem to indicate they will be long term, and perhaps perpetual, depending on a number of factors.

It should be 'interesting,' though; at least in the Chinese curse sense of the word.


That would be the storm equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, aardvark. Even if a process like that were to occur, the amount of energy required to re-vaporize the rain droplets would be equal to the amount of energy released by the vapor to the air when it condensed. Plus that energy lost to entropy--heat which escapes the storm system. Suffice to say, it's a losing equation for the storm. A bit like those who think that electric vehicles should be able to power themselves indefinitely with energy recapture from their own brakes. Energy is always lost from the system, and in the storm's case, further, the local cooling where water is re-vaporized would change the air patterns. But a self-powering storm is fun to consider...for a little bit.

Umm, he said 'self-dampen', which would be the opposite of perpetual motion...

Perhaps I should have used a different word. I meant "damp" as in deaden, dull, muffle, mute, or tone down.

So they should tend to switch themselves off as they run over their own cold rainwater, thus cutting themselves off from their warm water fuel.

Although a self-powering storm would be pretty awesome. Our own version of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

Sigh. The wackiness has already begun..

Some people are preemptively booking hotel rooms that they can use in the event the power goes out, and some hotels are already reaching full capacity. Apparently there is no penalty to cancel, and the hotel in question has a generator.

We know someone who was worried about all kinds of things, so he was stockpiling like crazy. He even worried that the gas might go out - something I have never ever seen happen, and the reason he was worried about it was that he was concerned that he might need to boil water if the treatment plants lose power for long enough.

I talked with someone last night who bought a generator after the Derecho, so he could run his fridge, and he had 10 gallons of gas stored. I didn't dare ask him whether he bought any fuel stabilizer.

Getting into a grocery store is virtually impossible - people are just out there stripping the shelves bare.

We are far enough inland and far enough up that we might get some TS winds, but I don't expect much worse than this.

I'm inland, too, but we got pretty hard hit by Irene flooding (areas that hadn't flooded in over a hundred years were washed away), and with the trees still in leaf in many areas, power outages are likely.

Yesterday, I'm told local grocery stores were sold out of bottled water and D and C batteries. I also heard sporadic reports of gas stations being sold out of gasoline.

A lot of my friends are running around like crazy now, trying to get ready for the storm. One good thing about peak oil paranoia...you're prepared. I gave a friend some batteries and bottled water, because I have more than I'm likely to need, and she couldn't find any at the store.

Eric – Be cautious buddy. As Leanan offers flooding is the big threat for you. On the Gulf Coast we get hit with big winds and storm surge bur rain induced flooding isn’t as big a problem because we’re flat. But if you’re in hilly country the rain water can concentrate in low lying areas to levels many wouldn’t expect. And it can happen very quickly and sometimes far from the heavy rains. Decades ago I had a field mapping crew in Mexico run from a flash flooding creek and it wasn’t even raining on them. Be especially careful driving afterwards. In flashflood country like S Texas we have water depth gauges in those low crossings. Even with that folks still drown by trying to push thru.

Big Oil and the Demise of Crude Climate Change Denial


Good read, but long way to go.

Personal thoughts, it's too late and we'll burn it all (sadly) or have a hell of a good time trying.
See 'yall on the other side.

n_s: I agree with your view. Sometime ago I made the point to folks arguing against the denialists that their acceptance of the situation was never going to make a difference. From the article:"Even though big oil companies are...no longer actively questioning the fundamentals of climate science, they are spending millions in the 2012 presidential elections in the USA to support politicians perceived as more inclined to approve projects...". IMHO accepting or denying AGW and its potential effects was never going to be the determining factor. Like so many other aspects the politician/society makes decisions based upon risk vs. reward. And if the risk doesn't show up until long after those around today have departed the planet that risk is considered an even less important factor. I'm sure a few denialists honestly thought their position was correct. But many others agreed with the predictions but pretended otherwise in order to justify maintaining BAU.

Tomorrow every person on the planet could pledge their acceptance of AGW and it might have very little effect on the course we're on IMHO. Accepting AGW won't change the future unless drastic changes are made. And that will require drastic changes in BAU. And I suspect the majority of those who will be required to make those change won't do so to any significant degree. Sacrifice is what they expect the other guy to do...not them. They might use denial of AGW as the reason or just simply express an honest unwillingness to sacrifice today for the sake of future generations. As AGW becomes more universally accepted I expect to hear an ever growing list of reason why we "can't" (read: won't) make any meaningful changes to BAU. Lots of "heartfelt" but empty rhetoric in the future for sure. Consider all the verbal support the current administartion has given the fight against AGW. But that didn't stop them from approving a Clean Air permit for a new coal-fired power plant in Texas last year. As always there are two different worlds:what people say vs. what they actually do.

So, are we the "frog" in Al Gore's educational "movie" a few years ago?

Yep. I watched that "How much is the world worth" show one of the TOD contributors was on last night. Good show and it did drop some "limits" on things in an odd way. We're going to need more talk of "limits" but you can't have a serious political conversation about them (unless you plan on not getting elected).

It got me thinking. We'll have to get off whatever cliff that's before we climb back up. That's the curse of being human and being hard-wired for the tiger in the grass.

n_s: I had planned on watching but had to run out to take care of a sick well and didn't get a chance to tape it. Anyone know if it can be found on the net anywhere?

Looks like you missed it Rock, unless you wait for a rerun or get the video. Robert Rapier had a few short segments. They tried to quantify the value of different stuff we use, including various categories of metals, fossil fuels, agriculture, etc., in current US dollars. In order of value [transcribed from the video]:

Diamonds - $529,886,250,000
Edibles - $2,495,823,720,622
Precious metals - $14,766,306,552,234
Rare earth elements- $23,831,500,000,000
Rock - $93,045,168,000,000
Base metals - $$135,475,825,000,000
Timber - $$269,766,006,335,474
Fossil fuels - $716,941,015,620,000
Water - $5,618,100,089,501,550

I found it a bit silly, especially when they left out soil(?!). I guess dirt still doesn't get much respect these days.

Finally there was this:

"... but the ultimate formula for what the earth is worth should include one final resource, one that it is impossible to put a price tag on: [human ingenuity]... That means our planet is worth more than it was in the past, and it'll be worth more tomorrow.

The End


BTW: Lookin' good, Robert ;-)

Thanks Ghung. I was mostly interested in Robert's presentation. The rest seems a little too fluffy. For instance the value of diamonds is way off. At least the jewelry value: they are worth $ZERO...to me anyway. Now opals, especially fire opals...now you're talking!!! LOL. But the rest of the world may feel differently. But what if the diamond houses suddenly dumped the millions of carats they been holding off the market for decades? I imagine that big diamond number would shrink considerable. How much is water worth in my area? With 50" of rain a year not a great deal. Of course someone in the KSA might have a different opinion. Or if you were 2 days without water in the desert how many carats of diamonds would you swap for a full canteen? Timber? Mahogany logs in Indonesia are cheap...get them to a mill in Canada and not so cheap.

The whole idea of what something is worth is rather nebulous: worth to whom? How much is gasoline worth to you? As I seem to recall you don't use much. How much is N fertilizer worth to me? Nothing...I'm not a farmer. To a farmer in Nebraska? To a farmer in India? I had this debate with a neighbor sometime ago with him arguing his house was worth $X. I told him his house wasn't worth $X because no one was willing to pay that price for it. His house was worth what someone was willing to pay...and not a penny more.

I was mostly interested in Robert's presentation.

Overall, I was disappointed because they interviewed me for 2 hours and I gave them a lot of material that they used, but I am only in for 3 short clips. They also messed up the title of my book when they showed it, and they messed up some details. I told them that we use 10 times the oil China uses per capita. In the documentary, they didn't make it clear that this was per capita, and just said we use 10 times the oil they do. As a whole, we only use about twice as much as they do and they are gaining ground fast.

I think the biggest problem was that the questions they asked me don't fit well into the narrative of "What's the Earth Worth?" Had the show been simply about oil dependence, or about the risks of oil depletion -- they had 2 hours of usable material from me. Even the 3 bits they quoted have really nothing to do with the value of the oil in the earth.

Two quotes that I was sure they would use from me but didn't were: "You can't put a price tag on the earth" and "There will definitely be more wars over oil." They got me to repeat that last one and shot it from a different angle.

One thing that isn't apparent is that the room was extremely bright. I am squinting a bit. My wife said I look tense, but that's the way I always look on camera. So many people have told me I need to smile more and relax, but at this point I have just about given up on that. When I smile it looks like I am forcing it.

You looked like a smart fellow I'd listen to. That's how I see it :-)

I was only loosely paying attention, didn't notice your name, but I sure thought they said "per capita"?

No "per capita", although it could be inferred. I caught that, along with some other 'liberal' uses of language. Consider the source. I catch these shows telling some real whoppers sometimes, and most of it is simple math. Not sure if they're exaggerating/minimizing, don't care, or are just plain stupid. Best hopes for a less deluded/misinformed populace.

Or Liberal Arts (Film) graduates.



... but the ultimate formula for what the earth is worth should include one final resource, one that it is impossible to put a price tag on: [human ingenuity]... That means our planet is worth more than it was in the past, and it'll be worth more tomorrow.

Urk. Gag me with a cornucopia.

Frankly, it was worth more in the past, even to fire-monkeys using US dollars. We've used a bunch of stuff up.

But hey, earth to humans: you're just one species in overshoot.

Wonder what the earth is worth to ants? To dolphins? Isn't verbal narrative great, you can string words together to come up with all sorts of nonsense questions and answers.

The way these guys use the term ingenuity is essentially devoid of and an insult to actual ingenuity.. and when some truly useful combinations are presented to them that doesn't fit into their proscribed economic models of what they can sell and what profitable ingenuity might sparkle like, then they wave it off.

The way it's used up above is, as you gakked so well, a lot like the way my Brother, Sister and I would see the world in November while leafing through the Sears Christmas Catalog Toy section.. fond bit of dreamy nostalgia that.. but nothing that really added to the value of the Earth.

I'm trying to think of what 'Ingenuity' is their euphemism for, and I think the truthful phrase would be 'exploitation' ..

.. 'smoke'em if you got'em.'

So how much do you think the Coccolithospheres are worth to the dolphins? Or for that matter how much are the ants worth to the aardvarks?

But just as a general observation I'd say it's safe to assume that whoever came up with the dollar figures might be a good example of people who know (or at least think they do) the price of everything but don't know the value of anything.


Yes. A real cornucopia. No mention of what a climate destabilized planet will be worth, if humans find they can't satisfy some basic need (such as food).

It was kinda silly in many ways, trying to put dollar figures on stuff. Apples and oranges, annual value of agriculture/fish, but reserves for nonrenewable stuff. Of course picking todays market price is problematic as prices reflect stuff like supply/demand..... Far more heat than light shed if you ask me.

I didn't see this as I was enjoying other, more immediate, entertainment; however, it strikes me that assigning value to what nature provides is the height of arrogance, in part because we don't even know all that nature provides, or what it does with what it has, and we fail to recognize the contexts within which that provision takes place. Sometimes something might be worth very little, at other times, priceless.


To add to that: one can argue that the stuff in the ground is what gives dollars (or whatever currency you want) it's value, not the other way around. The thinking is backwards.

Tomorrow every person on the planet could pledge their acceptance of AGW and it might have very little effect on the course we're on IMHO.

That's because accepting a problem does not change it, and without FF our economy would falter. But it does make for an interesting situation that can only be solved in some techno manner, which is why I am sure there are so many techno-cornicorpians. And that techno stuff seems tantalizing - wind, solar, geothermal, high altitude kites, (possible)cold or hot fusion, EV's, algae oil, etc.

On the surface it seems like a combination of those could offer up a transition, but it certainly is not apparent yet, and even if a transition did take place eventually, what will be the CO2 levels then and what will be the weather effects?

Yea, right, but but but- how about those times when I actually did see a bunch of people get together and do something that took some sacrifice- and have a big party doing it?

I was the engineer on a building that "we can't afford", and with a few others with skills in this and that, and a big pool of ignorant but willing people working hard for many unpaid hours for many many hot wet days, we did it, and did indeed have a big party doing it.

afterwards many of those folks said they never had so much fun in their lives, nor felt so good about their day's work.

So? Let's have a big party going from ff to solar. Quit everything else and just get together and do it, and have a big long fun party and feel good about it every step of the way.

"Can't afford it"? Sure we can, just, as I say, quit affording all that crapola we are affording right now, and start affording the good stuff.

"You can't save the world unless you're willing to make other people sacrifice."

Dogbert, 6/20/2007;

It's on my inspirational wall.

Here I gotta disagree with Dogbert, one of my favorite entities. What we did with that building caper was show people how to do something they thought they couldn't do without "sacrifice" when in fact, when with a tiny dose of leadership, they found they COULD do it and what they were sacrificing was junk compared to what they got for the sacrifice.

I think the same with solar conversion- People would really like to do it, but are so ignorant they can't see any way to do it. With that little dose of leadership, they could see, and would do, and would have fun in the process. I have seen all this a number of times in my life. It ain't just smoke.

Example--I just went and did a solar conversion myself, without the slightest hint of "economic justification" just before the great June/July storm/power outage, and a lot of my friends, seeing what I had done, and the result I got, have done gone and done it themselves, just in the last few months. So there.

We seem to have a funny quirk in our thinking in this culture which looks at a project that will require substantial effort and say to ourselves or each other 'That's not worth the effort.. that'll be to hard, why kill yourself?' Even when the effort is actually fairly modest.

It's a little like walking the 2 miles down the road to the store instead of driving. You frown a little and say, 'That was nothing.. when I drive it it seems like I'd have to walk all day to cover that ground, but it was just a pleasant little stroll.'

We're just a bit spoiled, eh?

Your panels might be getting some attention again this week.

It's the old folk who remember when petrol was cheap and cigarettes didn't kill that are reluctant to change.

If you were a child growing up in a wind- and solar-driven world, you'd think it was normal, that this is the way the world is supposed to be.

Kinda funny--I grew up in a time when gas was real expensive at 20 cents/gal, everybody smoked, and nobody had nuttin'. But it was normal for us to get together and do things that needed to be done- and always do it as a big party with lots of food, lying, and horsing around. As a kid, I hauled the water and cut the wood, and was happy to have those chushy chores instead of the godawful ones the grownups had.

i think we were happier then.

PS. Right, when folks got as old as I am now, they had already died and got out of the way like good citizens should.

Maybe the solution is not to have the 'bottleneck' of the Utility centralizing a grid (controlling its own profits), but instead to get back to local production and consumption? Allow all producers to use their produced BTU's as a profit center, force utilities to BUY, not just net-meter...maybe even something as radical as a BTU or unit of energy become the new global currency, with a low/no carbon full life cycle BTU being the 'gold standard', and others with higher carbon footprints a 'silver', 'Bronze' etc ?

The complexity of the systems anymore makes us one sunspot/flare away from big-time disaster... its conveient, but at what full life cycle cost?

Storing Up Trouble: A World of Imbalances

Humanity’s increasing impact on the Earth’s climate system involves more than just the emission of a trillion-plus tonnes of carbon dioxide since 1750.

The IEA publication CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion (2012) calculated global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion to be more than 30.5 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2010, equivalent to atmospheric concentrations of 3.9 parts per million (ppm). The United States Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center has data extrapolated back to 1750 showing that of the 1337 Gt of CO2 emitted from use of fossil fuels in the 261 years since the dawn of the steam age, 24% occurred in the 11 years from 2000 through 2010.

... During the last great climate-change event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, some 55 million years ago, the Earth heated up about 6°C over 20 000 years and then took 200 000 years to return to near pre-perturbed conditions. The planet underwent significant changes during this period; ocean acidification accompanied mass extinctions on land and in the sea. The sedimentary rocks that formed before and after this event are so different that they were divided into separate geological epochs long before scientists discovered what had caused the split.

For a great many species, adaptation was simply not possible, even over many thousands of generations. Business-as-usual scenarios using current emission trajectories suggest that a similar degree of climate change is likely, but over less than 1/100th the amount of time.

Thanks, Seraph, you're such a ray of sunshine. (Nudge, wink)

As Eric Idle would say "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" ...

... OK, here's some 'Good News' ...

Silvio Berlusconi sentenced for tax fraud


I have made my wish known to family and friends that "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" should be played at my funeral. Fits my outlook :-)

As for the tax fraud thing, it's a start!

P.S.: Bringing up my funeral song as a way to cheer me up is a peculiar tactic, but it worked!

Post of the week...month, year, century, mill...?

Albert Bartlett has been trying to convey the concept of exponential growth for decades. And here it is in bold print - 24% in the latest 11 years. That means roughly another 24% in the prior 22 years or so. Roughly half over the last 30 years. And as I understand the impacts of ocean thermal heat capacity and other delaying factors, climate change is on roughly a 30 year lag. So we're only experiencing the effects of half of our carbon loading of the atmosphere.

"Hey Sandy, what's your big sis gonna be like 30 years hence?"

Payden & Rygel has been running the following ad on CNBC for some time, noting that nearly a quarter of goods & service produced in all of human history have been produced in just the past 10 years:


From the ad:

"Seen in that light, global trade, investment and economic activity are still in their infancy."

Of course, roughly a quarter of all crude oil ever consumed was consumed in the just the past 10 years.

No problems on the horizon at all . . . If you don't count a (so far) accelerating rate of decline in the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI):

Reading todays stories up top really sent the message of terminal insanity to me. It usually does...but today was special

Fracking next to a nuke plant (earthquake?)
Poland wanting to burn more coal (showing Europe is CO2 happy also)
I in a 100 year storm- (undoubtedly made more likely by AGW)
Trying to drill the arctic to release more CO2
Trying to keep destructive aviation going with new fossil fuels

this is a madhouse- I'm locked in an insane asylum

Cue 'terminal insanity' ...

Louisiana Woman Struggles To Rebuild After Losing Fifth Home To A Hurricane

... Though she's considering moving to a home on higher ground this time around, Martinez is still hesitant to leave Louisiana.

I fled Galveston, TX after it was both threatened in 2005 (Rita) and wiped out in 2008 (Ike). That was enough to convince me to leave.

But I do have a soft spot for these stubborn people. There's a certain charm there. But here's the point: accept the consequences of your decisions. Don't ask for a bailout from the Federal government, because the all powerful, magical American taxpayer is now broke.

My wife's great great grandfather left Ashton Villa in Galveston for a sod shack near Lubbock some time around the Great One.

5 years ago we visited Houston and rented a car to Galveston to visit the villa. On the drive there I saw just how vulnerable the city is, and what a nightmare it would be to evacuate. I also saw the defunct rail bridge from Galveston. A train would rescue the residents in all of four trips.

I continue to boggle at the people there not doing the obvious thing and rebuilding it.

I remember discussing this with "OilManBob." He lived in Galveston and thought it was a good place to ride out peak oil. Of course the first thing most others thought about was hurricanes. He was confident the sea wall would hold.

I have no idea what happened to his home during Ike. He passed away the year before.

King of Swamp Castle:
"When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England."

so, ...
What is your quest? .. (Thanks- Idle, Palin, Cleese, Jones, Gilliam and Chapman!)

And as I understand the impacts of ocean thermal heat capacity and other delaying factors, climate change is on roughly a 30 year lag.

This is what I say all the time. Even if we stop emitting today, we have 30 to 50 years of CC left to expect, and probably with an acceleration baked in to. Now if we do stop emitting today the cahnges will go slower and slower, and the last bits of the change will occour over a millenia into the future. But the accumulated effect will be that of 30 to 50 more years of what we have now. And then lets hope there will be now methane leaks or other feadbacks...

But we wont stop pumping...

If anyone wonders what consensus means, and why there is one on AGW, here's a good one stop shop:


I am going to take off a bit and try to sort through it all. If anyone sees any "good news" there, let me know.


I'm still unclear about the connection between CO2 levels and temperature. Maybe I should look at a few dozen more graphs to really get it.

Reminds me of the movie Dune in which the question keeps coming up; Could there be a connection between the worms and the spice?

There is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb all of the outgoing infrared radiation with the appropriate wavelengths. Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere causes the infrared radiation to absorb lower in the atmosphere which increase global average surface temperature while lowering the average temperature in the stratosphere.

I'm still unclear about the connection between CO2 levels and temperature.

Graphs won't do it. Start here: Radiative forcing

Statoil to Cut 2013 Oil and Gas Production

OSLO—Statoil ASA STL.OS -0.84%said Friday that its oil and gas output will fall in 2013, contrary to the Norwegian company's own forecasts, as it produces less natural gas than planned in the U.S. in response to a drop in prices to almost record lows, and after selling fields off the coast of Norway.

Statoil has decided to cut natural gas production in the U.S. by 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, compared with its previous plan. Production of natural gas released from shale rock by a new combination of technologies has created a glut of supply in North America. North American gas production will still grow next year, but not by enough to offset a decline in the rest of the company.

"We think there's value for us in delaying production," the company's chief executive, Helge Lund, told The Wall Street Journal. "We are reducing the number of rigs and the production. Growth will come later when prices are better," ...

Streetcar tracks blamed in one-third of Toronto bike accidents

A study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found the greatest risk to cyclists occurs when they share major streets with parked cars and no bike lanes – like Dundas or King Streets – where there is a heightened risk of injury from moving cars and car doors opening.

However, 96 of the 690 crashes studied in downtown Toronto and Vancouver directly involved streetcar or train tracks. Eighty-seven of those accidents were in Toronto, accounting for 31.5 per cent of all bike accidents in the city that led to an injury that required a visit to an emergency department.

Efforts To Mitigate Climate Change Must Target Energy Efficiency

A report published today in Nature Climate Change shows that twice as much effort is being spent on developing energy supply technologies - such as new power stations - than is spent on improving the efficiency with which energy is used.

Dr Wilson said: "About two-thirds of all public innovation efforts are directed toward energy supply technologies. It is vital that innovations in renewable energy supply continue, but the imbalance in spending needs to be redressed urgently to mitigate climate change. Evidence strongly suggests that energy end-use and efficiency currently stand as the most effective ways to mitigate climate change."

The researchers considered three desirable outcomes of energy innovation - the potential for greenhouse gas emission reductions, broader social, environmental and energy security benefits, and the potential for technological improvements.

They found that efficiency in energy end-use outperforms supply technologies in all three areas. They occupy a greater share of energy system investments and capacity, and engage higher levels of private sector activity, they offer higher potential cost reductions, and they provide higher social returns and higher emission reduction potentials.

According to the International Energy Agency, the total public sector research and development spend for all energy end-use and efficiency innovations from 1974 to 2011 was around $38 billion.

"This is less than the $41 billion spent on nuclear fusion alone - a single, and highly uncertain energy supply option which is still to make any contribution to a low carbon future," added Prof Grubler.

Meanwhile subsidies for fossil fuels, estimated at around $500 billion, dwarf innovation investments of around $160billion into non-fossil fuel energy.

Is it a surprise that we are going about things ass-backwards?

Autonomous robot swarm takes over farm work (w/Video)

A new robot developed by David Dorhout and colleagues from Dorhout R&D is designed to plant seeds in a field while coordinating with a gang of other robotic farmhands.

In this video, you can see the prototype in action. The robot can walk in any direction while avoiding obstacles, using a sensor underneath its body to detect where seeds have already been planted. Once it finds an untouched patch, it drills a hole in the ground and releases a seed, triggering an electronic eye that guides the planting. ...

also Meet the Amazing Robots That Will Compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge

and Darpa Robots

and Darpa Media

I saw an existing ag robot demo at the Boston Museum of Science last spring. They are on wheels and are used to reposition pots for large decorative planting growers.. this is a very difficult task for humans, as the pots are so low to the ground, fairly hefty and there are thousands of them.. so the handfull of little Huey Dewey and Louis 'bots just pick up , move and place them in preprogrammed spacing arrangements.

Fairly simple and useful.. albeit for a discretionary purpose at this point..

So much for asking for my steak to be cooked medium rare. I was wondering why some folks who had eaten steak from the XL Foods packing plant got sick. Used to be that you just had to cook the outside of the steak well enough to not have to worry about E. coli.

Canadians 'need to know' about mechanically tenderized meat

Labelling for mechanically tenderized meat may come to Canada

Canadians should be aware of the possible risks from a widely used mechanical process to tenderize steaks and roasts, a U.S. food safety advocate says.

Food safety concerns made headlines in late September after a recall of beef products processed at an XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta. At least 16 people were sickened by meat contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The Public Health Agency said evidence suggested some of the illness seemed to be caused by tenderized meat.

Here is the water depth above minimum power pool of the two major reservoirs on the Colorado River in the western U.S., Lake Powell (Glen Canyon Dam) which is up river of the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead (Hoover Dam) which is down river. Because the data for Lake Powell begins on January 1, 1964, the combined graph before that represents only Lake Mead.

Elevation above mean sea level of minimum power pool for Lake Powell: 3470 feet (1058 m)

Elevation above mean sea level of minimum power pool for Lake Mead: 1050 feet (320 m)

Source of data for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

In my opinion we should use hydro dams at chronically low levels for pumped storage. One possibility is to generate unregulated wind or solar power on ridges near the river valley. Transmit that power short distances (under say 10 km) then pump the outfall water back up to the lake using external pipes (penstocks) and pumps with variable speed motors. I have no idea of the cost but it should be a lot cheaper than the current practice that involves regulated power, reversible pumps and digging tunnels into mountains.

The pumps operate when the wind blows or the sun shines. There would be very few days per year of low flow. This should have little effect on downstream irrigation since an amount of water is recirculated, not removed. If/when major dams fall below 20% full their generating role will be compromised. With enough outside power supply for pumping these dams could be kept at least 50% full even in droughts.

People downstream want their water :-0

More important to keep Vegas blazing with light all night.


We can probably keep one filled, but not both.
Might have to let Powell reclaim its environment.
Huge evaporation pits, that should be removed.

In the "High speed rail" piece, I noticed a strange quote:

“The difference between 79 and 110 mph isn't necessarily all that much, but at 110, the number of people they can carry improves dramatically,”

I am not sure how the figure that. I mean, the only way they can carry more people is more scheduled departures, longer trains, or more seats on the trains they have. Though I can report that demand is high, and many seats are not available, except with reservations many months in advance, there are still empties on those that are on the rails.

I suppose, once they have the trains filled, and have increased the number of departures, at some time going faster will make more trips possible. AFAIK, Amtrak is not there yet - - - not even close. Am I wrong about that?


That line confused me too. But as I recall the next paragraph suggested that at 110 mph the train can compete with short haul flights. So I think the writer was trying to point out that capacity would increase because it would be drawing people who would otherwise fly.

When we had physics at school, I was taught that as a train gain speed, it will become longer as it aproaches speed of light. Then they should be able to squeeze in more people. Can it be that?

(Okey, I am just kidding, but it WAS my first thought...)

Rolling stock is fairly expensive (as are crews - paid by the hour). Faster means more trips/days.

Electrifying commuter rail lines routinely means a 14% to 15% decrease in trip times (mainly faster braking & acceleration for their many stops). This implies that six trains and crews can do the work of seven. And faster also attracts more passengers and revenue.

I suspect that this same calculation applies to this regional rail service. More scheduled trips for the same rolling stock & crews.

Best Hopes for more 110 mph trains,


When there is only one trip per day, adding speed doesn't do much. I agree with the concept; how do we get to 7 trips a day on Amtrak? Or more.

It seems to me that city center to city center at about 180mph would compete nicely for convenience with airport to airport travel at 540. It would also help in reducing sprawl. Once volume of travelers increases, there will no reason to continue the heavily subsidized air travel meme.

Maybe not soon, and maybe never, but I can dream, can't I?


An interesting few days for myself. I took a cruise boat for the first time ever; I got wasted for the first time ever with some people who perhaps consider myself an OK person (pretty girls remained pretty and the less attractive ones were not able to rise to attractivity, alas); I traveled home by airplane (for the first time ever). I considered the amount of fossil fuel and other base and rare metals, water and other resources it took to facilitate these activities and had epiphanal realizations about how incredibly cheap they were (my employer paid for everything though). I hadn't considered just how cheap thus far. And how many people do fly, as a % out of the entire world population in a given year or lifetime? Maybe 10%?

I wasn't really fond of landing or when the captain was turning the plane, but I think I was able to sit there something closely reminiscent of stoic calmness anyway.

Fly to the other side of the world, and you use 5 times your body weight in fossil fuels. Enough energy to power an adult human for 4 years. Fly back, another 4 years. Boggles the mind, actually.

I have researched all the different renewable sources including biomass, air source, ground source, solar thermal but thermodynamics solar panels seems to be the only one that seems like the best technology is this true?

I live in a mid terrace facing south, south west, and have 4 bedrooms, running on gas combi bolier.

http://www.sks-thermo.co.uk is this any good?

When it sounds too good to be true....