Drumbeat: October 27, 2012

America's (Un)Peak Oil

Will the US be the globally dominant producer in 8 years? Maybe. Production is trending that way, but 8 years is a long time to forecast, and long-term forecasts are fraught with peril.

Just another reason you shouldn’t fear Peak Oil. Peak Oil (also known as Hubbert’s peak theory) is the idea that, eventually, oil production will peak and start falling. Hard to argue with that—crude oil is a finite commodity.

Yet, in some circles, it’s given way to panic. Folks who ardently believe in Peak Oil (capital P, capital O) believe the era of Peak Oil is upon us, or, worse, already passed. This (they believe) will usher in an era of economic stagnation and possible a forced return to subsistence living. (Google “peak oil” and you can find websites recommending how to prep your doomsday bunkers and learn to farm.)

Crude Pares Second Weekly Loss as Hurricane Approaches

Oil pared a second weekly loss, rising with gasoline and heating oil on concern that Hurricane Sandy will disrupt East Coast refinery production and as the U.S. economy showed signs of growth.

Prices advanced as Sandy was forecast to intensify into a “Frankenstorm” that may become the worst to hit the U.S. Northeast in 100 years. The gross domestic product grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department, exceeding analysts’ expectations.

Cold blast may tighten Atlantic heating oil supply crunch

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A blast of Arctic air sweeping through Europe and snow storms in the United States this weekend are likely to push up already lofty diesel and heating oil prices, further burdening economies struggling to bounce back from recession.

Surges in demand combined with very low stocks on both sides of the Atlantic will exacerbate supply shortages that distributors are seeing in Europe and boost already lofty refining margins.

Gasoline Decline Blunting Romney Weapon

The longest losing streak for gasoline futures since trading began on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 1986 means that prices at the pump will continue dropping through the Nov. 6 presidential election, AAA says.

Tumbling Gasoline Prices Diminish Issue for Obama Critics

The 17-day slide in gasoline prices this month may diminish a campaign issue that President Barack Obama’s critics have frequently raised though the decline is unlikely to sway undecided voters.

Widespread U.S. Power Outages Possible When Storm Arrives

The weather system probably will cut power to millions of people for a week and ground airplanes. The cyclone, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the National Weather Service, will grow out of Sandy and two other storms rushing eastward across the U.S., said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

New Jersey prepares for Hurricane Sandy's worst

Officials were reminding residents that stores are prohibited from raising prices on emergency items and gasoline by more than 10 percent before a storm. “Price gouging will not be tolerated,” Donovan said.

Authorities monitor Mount Vernon gas prices

MOUNT VERNON — The Illinois attorney general’s office confirmed Friday its personnel have been notified about retailers possibly gouging on gas prices in Mount Vernon and are monitoring the situation.

Singapore Airlines to End World’s Longest Non-Stop Flights

Singapore Airlines Ltd. will end non-stop services to New York’s Newark Airport and Los Angeles, the world’s longest commercial flights, next year because of rising fuel prices and slower demand for intercontinental trips.

Shale Glut Becomes $2 Diesel Using Gas-to-Liquids Plants

Drivers are next in line to benefit from the U.S. shale boom.

Technologies that create motor fuels from raw materials other than oil, some drawing on techniques first commercialized in Nazi Germany, are poised to turn the glut of U.S. natural gas into energy for cars, trucks and planes.

Somali immigrants get heating oil gift from Muslims

The Muslim Society of P.E.I. says it will cover the $1,400 oil bill of a Somali woman who was in danger of running out of oil with winter just around the corner.

Brazil’s Petrobras Posts Surprise Profit Decline on Costs

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s biggest oil producer in deep waters, said third-quarter profit fell 12 percent, missing analysts’ forecasts, after fuel imports pushed up costs and crude output slipped.

Oil firms to slash fuel prices on Monday

MANILA, Philippines – Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell and several independent oil players announced on Saturday that they will cut fuel pump prices starting Monday.

Major natural gas find by Saudis. A shift ahead?

Saudi Arabia has every incentive to develop its new natural gas discovery in the Red Sea. If it doesn't, it could become an oil importer in the decades ahead.

Norway's Arctic gas may see demand in Europe after 2020-IEA

A rise in gas demand for power generation in Europe after 2020 may provide a case to extract gas from Norway's Arctic region, which is so far considered too remote and expensive to compete in the market, an IEA official said on Friday. Norway plans to award oil and gas exploration drilling permits in up to 86 blocks next year, mostly in the Arctic region where exploration is booming after recent large discoveries.

Egypt looks to Qatar to boost gas supplies

Egypt is turning its attention to Qatar to help with its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply levels, having agreed a similar deal with Algeria.

Iran to Restart Gas Exports to Turkey

Iranian natural gas supplies to Turkey, disrupted due to a pipeline blast in the north eastern part the country, are set to start again, Press TV has reported quoting an Iranian official.

Oil majors back Kurdistan

Iraq’s Kurdistan region in the country’s north may not be recognized as an independent state by the United Nations, let alone by Iraq’s central government, but Kurdistan has all the recognition it needs from those who count — the U.S.’s ExxonMobil, France’s Total, Russia’s Gazprom, European trading houses Trafigura and Vitol, and other players in the world’s energy markets.

Insight: BP oil spill settlement before election seen unlikely

HOUSTON (Reuters) - For a president locked in a tough re-election fight, it may look like political gold: a settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and BP Plc over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that could send billions of dollars to Florida, one of a handful of politically divided states that could decide the November 6 contest.

Yet a last-minute settlement with London-based oil giant BP is unlikely before the election, experts say. Neither the Justice Department or President Barack Obama, whose race with challenger Mitt Romney is deadlocked in most polls, want to appear to politicize a deal. And Obama appears to face more potential risks than benefits from any settlement at this point.

Police disperse east China chemical plant protesters

NINGBO, China (Reuters) - Police dispersed more than a thousand protesters in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo on Saturday who were demonstrating against plans to expand a petrochemical plant.

The protests, which had turned violent on Friday, illustrate a major challenge for the leadership as it readies for its once-in-a-decade power transition, and tries to maintain social stability but also show it is listening to the complaints of ordinary people.

China's State Grid to help solar power producers-report

(Reuters) - China's largest state-owned utility State Grid Corp will allow some solar power producers to connect to the national grid for free, in a bid to help the ailing solar industry, the official China Daily newspaper said.

U.S. Poised to Be World's Top Oil Producer, Part of 'The New Middle East'. The Bad News: We'll Also Have Their Climate.

Prices are also expected to stay high at the pump -- so much for consumers benefiting from "drill, baby drill."

Anger as oil chief appointed to climate committee

Wide condemnation has been expressed at the appointment of climate change sceptic and oil company director Peter Lilley to the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee.

Toward a Tougher Cap and Trade Program

The multistate carbon trading system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is undergoing its first comprehensive review since it was first put into effect in 2009.

As climate change causes sea level to rise, New Jersey must adapt

We need to look at low-lying countries such as the Netherlands for guidance. Since we clearly do not want to lose our tourism and recreation industry, we must rethink how our coastal communities are built. Raising structures will help, but ultimately we may lose much of our barrier islands, or at least lose them for long periods of time. We may need to rethink our shoreline — perhaps building destinations that are on the mainland. Sea walls and dunes will not offer long-term protection; we may need to plan for inland resorts with shuttles to beaches.

You Will Pay For Hurricane Sandy—Even If You Live Nowhere Near It

Experts are already projecting that Sandy will be a billion-dollar disaster for the US. Last year, Irene alone causing $4.3 billion in losses—and that was just one of 14 storms that cost at least a billion dollars. And while damage caused by a storm like Sandy can be expensive for people who live in its path, it's also costly for everyone else: After Social Security, the National Flood Insurance Program is the second largest fiscal liability for the US government, insuring $527 billion of assets in the coastal flood plain. Private flood insurance is difficult, if not impossible, to come by.

From "Shale Glut Becomes $2 Diesel Using Gas-to-Liquids Plants"

"A Chesapeake Energy Corp.-backed company and Oxford Catalysts Group Plc are planning U.S. factories to make diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from gas, which fell to a decade-low price this year. Their goal is to make motor fuels more cheaply and easily than oil-based products produced at giant refineries, and all within two years."

Median time to get a permit from the EPA, assuming no lawsuits, is three and half years. It's two years to get the engineering done, and that has to be done before you apply for the permit. (You can get some overlap if you are willing to live with the risk the EPA will order you to rip out something you just put in and do it another way.)

Construction is another two or three years. Then another year after that the plant will be running but not very well. You can expect it hit name plate capacity and stay there during its second year of operation.

Five years would be optimistic; so what will the price of natural gas be in five years? What was it in 2007?

According to http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3020us3A.htm

The industrial price was $7.68 per 1000 cubic feet. In 2011 it was $5.11. I certainly would not bank on that trend continuing. But then I am not a menber of The Rich, so what do I know? Obama himself said we have 100 years of natural gas now, and that number is starting to have a life of it's own.

Wearing my Devil's Advocate hat:

What if the idea of using microbes to eat coal and expel methane turns out to be feasible in a large scale?


Think of it: No mountaintop removal mining, no strip mining out West, no impoundments of coal tailings breaking free and killing off river life...no mercury and other heavy metals in the flue gas or tailings...

That, combined with the new driverless cars which will (according to the article I posted a few DBs ago):

- eliminate the need for drivers licenses and drivers Ed
- eliminate the need for liability and collision insurance
- eliminate nearly all traffic accident-related deaths and injuries and hospital visits
- Nearly eliminate the need for traffic cops and traffic court and traffic injury attorneys
- allow cars to be lighter and cheaper, but also somehow more palacial inside
- probably cure cancer and win the war on drugs and terrorism too....

The rider of the majik white horse of technology will surely ride over the hill in the nick of time!

The accident is worth fantastically more than the car.

There are 100 car accidents a day in Los Angeles alone... 300 if it rains. Each one is a potential cash-cow for one if not two or more hospitals and several lawyers. There might be long-term health-care involved. The legal wranglings between the parties and their health and insurance providers might go on for a decade. It brings importance and power to the city's political engine and their police, court, and emergency services. If the state's alcohol industry's taxed product is involved, it will bring huge fines as further income back to the state and perhaps feed it's prison industrial complex. It might generate the instant sale of at least one if not two or more new cars.

No one is going to want to let go of this golden goose.

"It will cost jobs."


7 Injured After 2 Cars Plunge 3 Stories From Hollywood Parking Lot

"The [limousine] driver thought he had shifted into reverse when he was actually in drive," "When he hit the gas, he slammed his limo into a car, knocking that car out of the parking lot for that building and down a 20-foot hill" into an apartment building. The limousine followed behind. Seven were treated at the scene by paramedics, and five were then transported to hospitals for further treatment.


Limousine company
Limousine driver
Apartment building owners (no barrier)
Apartment building management
The other apartment building's owners
Seven different parties in the limo
The owner of the other vehicle
About ten insurance companies
Emergency paramedic services
Several hospitals
Legal counsel for 12


Robotic cars will cause the number of car accidents to plummet. We will get there in incremental steps that have already begun. ABS and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are already widespread. Next comes Collision Avoidance Systems (CAS) and CAS will become increasingly sophisticated. Eventually computers will take over the vast bulk of driving and we'll have few accidents.

There exists man complex issues to overcome to reach your vision.

I would not bet (invest) one dime.

I assume that you are talking about technological challenges.
There are many computers on the road already, from engine control units to number plate readers and speed guns etc. Then there's parking assist, pedestrian detection, lane change warning, 360 vision etc etc. The argument that complexity cannot exist for complexity's sake is absurd, the human body is the most complex machine known in the universe, yet it functions smoothly in most cases and it doesn't require a gargantuan amount of energy either, the human brain runs on what...20W. This is not going to become a common occurrence anytime soon as there are a lot of hurdles in the way but technology isn't one of them.

Moreover most technologies from driver less cars are reusable, from stereo 3D modeling to object detection, collision avoidance and seamless image stitching. Most likely they will go on even more robots and end up taking even more jobs, even in areas hitherto closed to machines.


Yes, technological challenges, as well as liability and affordability and car consumer psyche challenges.

As far a 'complexity cannot exist for complexity's sake...';...I made no such argument.

However, I do not concur with the argument that because all the technologies you mentioned, and more, have been made to work individually in various guises, that the complete package of the autonomous cars, deployed in large numbers, will therefore follow.

In the original article to which I referred the author said that there would be no need for drivers or driving skills of the occupants/passengers of these vehicles...not even in a backup or emergency role.

The problems to be solved are legion, and the payoff, in consideration of the time, energy, money, and brainpower spent on these issues, is questionable, in my opinion.

How much would these 'cars' cost? How much would a repair bill be for a failed black box? How many people will be able to afford them? The extrapolation of the historical increase in car bells and whistles and purchase cost cannot continue...the stagnation in monetary wealth, concurrent with the increasing scarcity and costs of resources, concurrent with the increasing population and the costs to maintain/pacify them, will prevent that 'ever increasing complexity combined with ease of use combined with falling prices' outcome expectation. Cars are not i-phones.

The payoff is questionable??

Not for taxi companies, bus companies, rental car companies, logistics companies, schools, agricultural contractors ... the list goes on.

Greater vehicle utilisation, fewer accidents, reduced fuel consumption (from smoother driving and congestion avoidance), lower maintenance costs, increased vehicle service lifetime, not-increased insurance premiums ... and no wages for drivers in the case of taxis. Accountants would not question payoffs like these.

Sure, minimum-wage workers won't be able to buy autonomous automobiles any decade soon, but they're not the market.

A bus driver does more than drive the vehicle. He might help a disabled person onto the bus, wash it, maintain it, repair it, assist in an accident and keep order.

After the professional drivers are put out of work by robot vehicles, the taxi companies, bus companies, trucking companies, etc. will have a lot fewer customers.

Admittedly the professional bus driver was an endangered species anyway, many of the positions having gone to contractors using inexperienced, low-paid drivers.

So, who do I flip off when I am driving my 86 Toyota PU? The empty seat in the car going too slow? Where I live we take pride in not having to signal, no 'lights' to stop for, and drivers of other cars wave. Sometimes we evem pull over and talk. I don't want to live in a world of driverless cars, thank you very much.

IMO we need a reduction in technology to a place of very small and affordable cars easily worked on by owners. My buddy has a mini van with a malfunctioning chip. $900 dollars later he got the chip replaced so the van doesn't think he is a thief anymore and automatically shut down on him, but it is still a piece of crap mini-van.

This tech search has gone way too far. My sister can't even navigate with a road map.


One factor which is important in driving is that while driving, a person has total control over the machine and it's motion. I suspect that a large fraction of the car cult is that driving tends to be the only time during the day when a person has total control over things, which is both a period of relaxation and a mental challenge. Take away that emotional experience and the attraction of driving may be reduced considerably.

Years ago, I occasionally flew on commercial airlines for various trips. Then, I took flying lessons and learned to respond to the "seat of the pants" inputs while flying the craft. After that, I found that I became extremely distressed while sitting in the passenger compartment of an aircraft, as I no longer had any control of the situation. Call it anxiety, or what ever, I mostly quit traveling on commercial aircraft. I suspect that sitting in a driverless car would leave me with nothing to do but look out the window expecting the next crash with a deer or other object which might materialize in front of the car...

E. Swanson

While I'm in the passenger seat, who would I rather have drive -- the computer or my wife?

Here's a video of google's ride, I think I could get used to it.


I read that one to my wife, who would know my answer. haha. So she immediately retorted- fine, so don't forget to ask the computer to do those errands too, while it's at it.

Sure, the obvious next step- do the errands. and the next one, you guessed it, the computer says- why should I be a mere flunky to these idiots?

Try a taxi in Sao Paulo, the only way is to accept whatever your fate may be. When a passenger I have got out of cars before now though have never felt the need to do so while the car was still moving as one person I knew felt compelled to do.


I see your Sao Paulo taxi and raise you a Shanghai.

a deer or other object which might materialize in front of the car...

Driverless cars will have at a minimum radar, and probably also lidar, as well as optical cameras. Such a car would know about the deer in the fog long before a human driver could see it. Its reaction time and avoidance actions would be better than a human driver's too.

I would seriously doubt that a driverless car could do a better job of identifying a deer. Maybe in the future, but not now..

Radar would only show you a blip - it can't tell you what the object actually is. If a deer is standing still, it wouldn't look much different than any other sort of stationary object of roughly the same size. The only way you would be able to identify the object is to see it, and optical cameras would be just as blinded by fog as the human eye.

If the computer merely identifies that there is an object in the road, it might be able to take evasive action. But if it didn't identify the object as a deer, it wouldn't be able to consider common behavior patterns of deer, and consider that others may also be in the area about to cross the road.

Another scenario that I wonder about is whether the computer would be able to identify that there is black ice on a bridge in the winter time.

"Another scenario that I wonder about is whether the computer would be able to identify that there is black ice on a bridge in the winter time."

The anti-skid/ traction control is supposed to save you in that case.

I wonder about the tumbleweeds. Can the car tell the difference between a tumbleweed and something more substantial? Will it realize that ramming a tumbleweed is harmless, and it's not worth hitting the ditch, or even slamming on the brakes?

What forms of oligarchy and/or wage-slavery are going to pay for this kind of techno grandiosity? What lands or resources will be plundered, pillaged or paved over? Who or what will foot the costs?

Agree. I am really hoping health permits me to e-bike for several decades so I can nurse my current vehicles along as long as possible, keep them in perfect condition, and drive them as few miles as I can manage. Which I plan on thoroughly enjoying.

I just hope I can be spared the aggravation of having to purchase a vehicle built after 1999. I can't even stand having electric windows.

OTOH I feel electric windows and mirrors are safety features, less distracting to twiddle a button than pump a handle especially when you can just flick once for the window to open or close. I shudder when drivers lean across to adjust the passenger mirror.


I hope I wear out before my computer-less 1982 M-B 240D (manual transmission AND windows) wears out.

28 to 30 mpg in the city is "good enough" for the miles I drive.


No it can't. Object identification is very difficult right now and won't be real time anyways. Most algorithms assume that everything is an obstacle. It's much easier that way. Most of the object identification is through size and location like making out between a guard rail and a car. Then there are object specific algorithms like skin tone detection for humans. But it might happen in future, I can think of a few ways to identify a tumbleweed.

Object identification is very easy : just put a name on the object, that is a bar code.
The "dream" of object recognition in the anthropomorphic sense, is the usual technician boring dream, that is the constant advance of death, of glaciation.

Twenty years ago, I built an X-band (10GHz) radar interferometer that could easily detect, at a distance, the chest-wall motion caused by breathing. It could begin to detect the expansion of the skin caused by the beating of the heart. It could hear mice sleeping in their burrows. It was crude and cheap: the partially reflecting mirror to extract the local reference was a bit of 4-40 screw extending into the Gunn diode's beam as is common in commercial motion detectors.

...there are other ways to differentiate between targets.

Yes sure why not, I guess one can add thermal images too. A car has three radars if I recall correctly, two short and one long range.

The red-neck version will swivel the gun turret to plink off the deer automagically and the multi-use, automatic tow-hook will snatch it up to take home.


Let's look at the efficiency of this process versus best case use of fuel for transportation:

GTL has net energy of 0.60 conversion according to Robert Rapier's investigations. Net kinetic energy of a car is at best 20% or 0.20 conversion for automobiles. So to use shale gas to move people in automobiles gives net return of 0.60 x 0.20 = 0.12 or 12% of the energy moves the car.

Taking shale gas and using it to make electricity in a combined cycle (gas turbine plus steam turbine) power plant gives 0.60 efficiency multiplied by 0.95 for transmission losses. Put this to use powering an electric train at motor/drive efficiency of 0.90 and the end result is 0.54 overall conversion. Now consider the US Dept of Energy's figures that show trains as being about twice as efficient as cars (figures average load factors of cars and trains both being near 50%) and the end result is electric trains provide 9 times the transportation per unit of energy compared to this process mentioned in the article.

Trying foolhardy pathways like mentioned in this article is good reason why I am a doomer. But, Wall Street analysts will promote this thing because many investors can not add two plus two and get four.

Not all natural gas plants are combined cycle, in fact few are. The Union of Concerned Scientists did a report on MPGe claims for EVs. It depended on the location where the power was produced. When you take into consideration the losses in power production, the 100 MPGe EV actually averaged 40 mpg across the U.S.

Also, we have more than 200 million vehicles that run on liquid fuels in the U.S. and very few EVs. It is projected that we will still have very few EVs on the road years from now. What to we do in the mean time? Do we hope for stable oil prices on imported oil and encourage people to buy EVs?

I favor synthetic fuels made from natural gas and biomass. They are cleaner burning fuels with less sulfur and less benzene. They are made with domestic resources which reduce oil imports. Using biomass makes the fuels more CO2 neutral as well. The fuel plants make money, we get a more stable supply of fuel for 200 million vehicles and we are less dependent on the whims of OPEC.

Not all natural gas plants are combined cycle, in fact few are.

I wonder what the basis of your claim is. I casually follow the ordering and commissioning of US power plants (300 MW wind, 133 MMW solar and nothing else in Sept. 2012 :-)

Combined cycle NG plants certainly dominate new NG plants - and combined cycle plants are being used for base load as well.


I suspect that of the MWh generated from NG, a majority come from combined cycle plants.
But I have not found data on combined cycle as a % of all NG - either by capacity or ny generation.


The reference was to 60% efficient combined cycle plants. The impression left was that ALL electricity comes from 60% efficient combined cycle natural gas powered electric plants and thus we can use that for calculations, that is misleading.

Only the best combined cycle plants are, in theory, 60% efficient. (Best I have seen was 60.6% nameplate - from vague memory)

I probably overstate (I will change) when I say new combined cycle units are 58% to 60% efficient. Older ones are as low as 50%.

Best Hopes for Good Engineering #s,


After looking at www.eia.gov data, there is a trend toward natural gas, the discussion was how much of our electricity is generated by 60% efficient combined cycle natural gas power plants in the U.S.

I can take synthetic fuel made from natural gas and biomass and run it in a Fusion hybrid at over 40 mpg. Or I can take an EV and get 40 MPGe when the losses in power generation are taken into consideration.

The question is, are 200 million liquid fueled cars suddenly going to become EV and will they all be charged using 60% efficient combined cycle natural gas power plants real soon now? I doubt it and I think most rational people would doubt that.

Average efficiencies, and efficiencies of new builds and expansions can be quite different animals. Policy wise what we are interested in is if we change policy knob A, by X amount what sort of changes in the overall system will we see. So if we turn the knob in favor of more NG generation, the new builds will be overwhelmingly CC. However it is also possible some older equipment which had been scheduled for retirement, might be kept running longer. So I think getting a real estimate of the change in efficiency isn't easy to do.

The Union of Concerned Scientists study did a national look at regions and came up with quite a variation. This is what matters when we are talking about recharging EVs .

EIA says that most of the natural gas combined cycle plants have a 10% utilization during the night, nuclear and coal are used more for base load. If 10% of the power plants are natural gas combined cycle and are used 10% of capacity during the night, we can see that not much of the electricity going into charging EVs at night will come from combined cycle, let alone 60% efficient combined cycle.

Then the Union of Concerned Scientists study contradicts the EIA.


Average NG combined cycle capacity factor was ~27% at 3:30 AM in 2010 (higher 12:01 to 5 AM average and trending higher to 2012).

Personally, I discount the UCS study due to faulty methodology (the concept has some validity, just not done well IMHO).

The issue is what new generation will come on-line to meet new EV demand. My answer is a combination of NG CC & wind will come on-line over most of the Lower 48 states.

In ERCOT Texas, EV demand late at night would be a god-send for West Texas wind - which peaks late at night almost every night.

I could see 1 GWh of new demand - 12:01 to 5 AM - creating more than 1 GWh of new wind generation just through market forces.


Whether combined cycle utilization is 10% or 20% at night misses the point. The point IS that EVs across the country will NOT be charging totally with 60% efficient natural gas combined cycle power, not by a LONG shot.

SO, when numbers are quoted as 100 MPGe for an EV, that does NOT take into consideration the inefficiencies in generating the power. It is only fair to take that into consideration, otherwise you are fooling yourself.
If average power plant efficiency is 40%, then we should know this. If most of the power generation at night when EVs charge is coal, then we should know this.

In Texas, on all but the coldest nights, the marginal supply is combined cycle NG and wind. In Louisiana it is combined cycle.

There are other significant markets where the bulk of marginal supply is NG CC. I suspect California is one.


Not all natural gas plants are combined cycle, in fact few are.

I wonder what the basis of your claim is. I casually follow the ordering and commissioning of US power plants (300 MW wind, 133 MMW solar and nothing else in Sept. 2012 :-)

Combined cycle NG plants certainly dominate new NG plants - and combined cycle plants are being used for base load as well.


I suspect that of the MWh generated from NG, a majority come from combined cycle plants.
But I have not found data on combined cycle as a % of all NG - either by capacity or ny generation.


$1 in feed stock and $1 for plant and equipment per gallon and they make money. The plant is paid off in 5 years with a 40 year life span, the fuel is cleaner and made from domestic resources.

Feedstock costs depend on the market, especially international market once planned liquification plants are built to export this gas from US. Electric cars could kill this plan in a few years. As demand for electricity rises and more gas is used for power generation these GTL plants will not make money, IMO.

That is opinion, Shell invested $20 billion in the Pearl GTL plant. I don't think they would have if they thought EVs would dominate the world.

Whale Oil as the perfect Future Energy Resource assuming we eventually Farm Raise Sperm Whales like we Farm Raise Salmon. Oh, and another thing: How to Speak Irish

Important! Repeat these words individually and clearly:





Now say these words as a phrase, slurring the words together a little:

"Whale Oil Beef Hooked."

You just learned how to speak Irish.

(Some badly needed humor for my Oil Drum friends and foes while we struggle with the election and SuperPacs, Global Warming, the Economy and the impending economy-breaking Frankenstorm. Take Care everyone on the East Coast!!!!)

Your 'lesson' made my morning, Casey. Thanks for a much-needed grin!

Aye, fooked we all might be.

"...economy-breaking Frankenstorm."

Nah,, Sandy will increase GDP, create jobs, and improve profits at gas stations and stores. The Pres and the Fed couldn't get people to start spending again, but Sandy has. Disaster Capitalism at its best ;-/

I wonder if this coming Frankenstorm will end up being called Frankensquall as a slightly blustery non damaging wind passes in the night. Weather is hard to predict and all the hype may be a lot of hullabaloo, much like this coming election 'being so close!' as networks wrangle with the numbers like a monkey with dice to pin everybody to the wall with anticipation of a race probably already won by Obama if one simply ignores the GOP lier polls, like Rasmussen, ARG, Mason-dixon, PPP (public policy polling), and Gallop.

Ní dhéanfach an saol capall rás d'asal. Is possibly a better one. ;)

Snort! Good job, Casey! Reminds me of a bilingual joke (Hebrew - English) which is too rude to repeat here, but is based on the the fact that "dafook" is a perfectly good Hebrew word meaning "useless, dented, knocked" and Hebrew forms the reflexive (things you do to yourself, I did to myself) by putting the prefix "nid" in front, as opposed using a special pronoun the way English does.

No doubt you figured it out by now. The punch line is "Some people are just 'nidfook'".

Now we know why the Irish rule the world, its our lyrical and sooo flexible language, great craíc Casey.

Re: America's (Un)Peak Oil

This commentary references the story written by Jonathan Fahey of AP, which was widely circulated on 23 October. I e-mailed Mr. Fahey and pointed out that his data includes ethanol in the EIA data he referenced and that US production peaked about 1970, not 1985. He checked and replied that indeed, the US production peak was in 1970.


Note that this reference lists petroleum production, which includes crude, lease condensate and natural gas liquids. It also includes ethanol in the total after 1981, so his story is based on a 1985 maximum includes much more than just crude. The Saudis, however, likely present just crude production, perhaps adding natural gas liquids as well. Read the footnotes to see how the definition(s) have changed, both for production and for imports...

E. Swanson

I don't see any mention of EROEI in that report!

Wonder how much fossil fuel will be extracted at breakeven, simply to keep the numbers rosy. After all, using a barrel to get a barrel means two barrels were ultimately extracted. Rinse and repeat as needed.

New oil has low EROEI based on the following observation:

My customer in Fargo, North Dakota takes loads of diesel from the pipeline there (fuel orginates in St. Paul, MN) and moves it to central ND. Reason is not so much cost, but refinery at Mandan owned by Tesoro processes 70,000 barrels per day of oil, yet cannot supply a region having less than 150,000 people.

All the diesel produced by that refinery goes to powering the Bakken oil fields and the economy that supports that oil production. And a large part of the Fargo economy is supporting the Bakken production and it is using oil refined in other states to the east. And drought reduced AG use of fuel. So, IMO the new oil produced is probably much lower EROEI than most oil from older wells. I would guess that Bakken oil is 6 or 7 EROEI at most. And when you consider taking that oil by truck and rail 1000 miles or farther to a refinery in the east or south, that figure drops even lower.

wow, that's bad

When you think about it, the fact that US peak in 1970 isn't common knowledge is truly amazing...

From link above:

Gasoline Decline Blunting Romney Weapon

If Obama was responsible for high gasoline prices, he would logically also be responsible for low gasoline prices -- if Romney's logic is consistent that is?

America's (Un)Peak Oil

I’m sure most here don’t need to hear this but in case we have some newbies. “Will the US be the globally dominant producer in 8 years? Maybe.” Well, hard to argue with that prediction given the US is already a dominant energy producer: 3rd in global oil production, 1st in global NG production, huge in coal resources, more than a few nukes and a growing alt base.

“ Peak Oil (also known as Hubbert’s peak theory) is the idea that, eventually, oil production will peak and start falling.” Another source of confusion…sometime intentional IMHO. Hubbert was proven correct about his PO prediction…for the US. Notice they use “America” in the title and then presumably start referencing global PO without making the distinction. Intentionally deceptive IMHO. Others have made such PO predictions for other countries which were also eventually proven correct. And some have made the same prediction for global PO. That will only be confirmed in the rear view mirror years down the road…just as it has been in other cases. In the meantime folks are free to argue about that “magical” date.

Magical in the sense that the date isn’t relevant IMHO. We are suffering today from the closing gap between supply and demand as clearing shown by rising oil prices. “This (they believe) will usher in an era of economic stagnation…”. I suppose they haven’t noticed what’s been going on in the US and EU economies the last few years. Certainly higher oil prices haven’t played a part…in their HO, I’m sure.

“…you can find websites recommending how to prep your doomsday bunkers…” Yep…right next to the ones with Elvis sightings and alien abduction sites. And dig a little deeper and you can also find some better grounded works on our energy situation. It’s just as easy to slam the cornucopians with reference to web sites touting unlimited supplies of abiotic oil, secret car engines that run on water, the oil patch killing the inventors of cold fusion reactors, etc. And all just as meaningless to the basis of an honest discussion.

Peak Oil (also known as Hubbert’s peak theory)

This quote is often used as a strawman argument against peak oil. In other words, if real life oil production doesn't follow a bell curve, then peak oil must be bogus.

Forbes Magazine has long been known as a source of conservative cornucopianism and AGW denial.

Trash. fit only for the round file.

Northeast U.S. oil refineries prepare for Hurricane Sandy

Six East Coast oil refineries representing 1.19 million barrels per day - or 7 percent of total U.S. capacity - could potentially be hit by the deadly storm, which left at least 41 dead as it roared through the Caribbean and churned northward.

PBF Energy owns and operates two East Coast refineries, the 190,000 barrels per day Delaware City plant and the 180,000 bpd Paulsboro plant in Southern New Jersey, across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia area.

Phillips 66, owner of the 238,000 bpd Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, said it is monitoring the storm.

Hess Corp said on Friday it had implemented its storm plan for its 70,000 bpd refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey and that it would continue to watch Sandy's progress.

In addition, two other plants are potentially within the storm's path: Philadelphia Energy Solutions' 330,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery and Delta's Monroe Energy 185,000 bpd plant in Trainer, Pennsylvania.

Refineries in path of ‘Frankenstorm’

... Extended outages may deplete East Coast supplies, which Energy Department data show are 9.1 percent below a year ago.

Sandy may shutter the plants for five to seven days due to pre-storm closures and power outages, forcing Gulf Coast refiners including Valero Energy Corp., Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Phillips 66 to make up the difference, Roger Read, an energy analyst with Wells Fargo & Co. in Houston, said today in a note to investors.

The need to ship more gasoline east would boost prices in both regions and potentially boost refining margins by 10 percent or more on the Gulf Coast, Sam Margolin, a refining analyst with Dahlman Rose & Co. in New York, said in a telephone interview today.

Heating oil prices may also be boosted by the storm. In addition to the gasoline output, the plants produce about 75,000 barrels a day of jet fuel and 350,000 barrels of diesel and heating oil.

Will Hurricane Sandy Affect Wind Farms?

... When Hurricane Irene struck the same region of the country just last year, utility companies began shutting down nuclear power stations several days in advance of that storm. Natural gas demand plummeted because so many electric power lines were down, ramping up natural gas power plants wasn’t an option. Despite all the flooding, winds and storm damage, not a single wind turbine was harmed.

At the time, about 174 megawatts of wind energy capacity was directly affected by Hurricane Irene. Perhaps twenty times as much wind energy capacity could be directly affected by Sandy than by Irene. Part of the reason for this bigger threat to wind energy is due to Sandy’s projected path. Right now, Sandy’s expected to rake across Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and Ohio. Collectively those states have more than 3,500 megawatts of wind energy capacity that may be in Hurricane Sandy’s path.

Modern wind turbines are designed to protect themselves in extreme weather – including shutting down when winds get too high, even up to a Category 3 hurricane.

At most winds should be cat 1, she won't really a hurricane by then by an exceptionally strong extratropical cyclone. The wind area is supposed to be very large, and the storm may stall inland and gradually weaken for a couple of days. I suspect the WTs will be fine. The real concerns are storm surge, flooding of the NYC subway system is supposed to be very pricey, one foot higher than Irene will supposedly do that. Jeff Masters gives a 30% chance of that. Strong wind for a couple of days on trees that haven't yet shed their leaves is supposed to cause a lot of problems for the grid.

My post on the Washington Post website - trying to connect some dots among their readers.

This developing "Frankenstorm" - half tropical and half winter storm that is predicted to combine is an example of the Climate Chaos we face going forward.

Were the coastal waters not so unnaturally warm, Sandy would have simply died and turned into a just a front.

Had not half the Arctic Ocean ice melted (all time low 5 to 6 weeks ago), the jet stream would have been stronger and the winter storm would have waited till "later" in the season.

The weaker jet stream also means that whatever weather you get will stick around much longer. The weak jet stream will not shove a new weather pattern in as easily as in the past.

This year's drought developed in the Midwest to Oklahoma. A mid-summer dry spell is very common there. But this one just hung on for MUCH longer than in the past - when there was more Arctic Ocean ice and the jet stream was stronger.

Expect even more strange weather as Climate Chaos deepens.

Peer review may question some of my "dot connecting" but only question it. What we know makes these links quite possible - if not conclusively proven.


1693, October 29, "Accomack Storm"

"There happened a most violent storme in Virginia, which stopped the course of the ancient channels, and made some where there never were any; So that betwixt the bounds of Virginia and Newcastle in Pensylvania, on the seaboard side, are many navigable rivers for sloops and small vessels."

Letter by a "Mr. Scarburgh" (Transactions of the Royal Society - 1694)

This is also known as the Great Storm of 1693. It cut the inlet at Fire Island in New York.

http://maps.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/# allows you to search for historical hurricane tracks passing within a radius of a location. The track of this storm is admittedly unusual, but it is similar to a tropical storm of September 28, 1943.

The most recent direct hit on New York City was a category 1 in late August 1893. The most destructive storms to hit Long Island were Gloria in 1985 and the unnamed storm of 1938.

The Atlantic coast from Cape Cod south has many barrier islands which have been remodeled by storms over the last centuries. I've read of research done by taking cores in the bays behind the islands to analyse and date layers of decayed vegatation interspersed with sand driven over the barrier islands by the storms. I'm not sure whether they can obtain objective data on frequency and intensity that shows an increase in the recent past.

700 yr Sedimentary Record of Intense Hurricane Landfalls
in Southern New England

Gotta wonder... What happens if the flooding gets into the subways of NYC. Tunnels? And is this the beginning of something bigger? What if the markets can't reopen soon, if the flooding persists? Will this be a trigger event?

It's happened before. It'll be a mess, but probably not TEOTWAWKI.

The event itself will be a mess, but not much more than so. But if it happen in the wrong time... As they say, it is not as much about what, as about timing. Should this happen in special conditions, it could lead to the demise of the city, and then spread out into the country. Like when the archduke was murdered, and WWI erupted. It is all about stability. Should this happen in a time when everything had been poorly maintained for a long time due to budget cuts and so on, with some nasty above-ground factors ontop of that, then it may lead to a permanent shutdown. But not this round.


George Carlin - Natural Disasters

Why don't they just close the flood doors? Oh, didn't they leave the installing of those to 'business can handle that'?


Nuclear Regulatory Commission watches reactors in Frankenstorm's path

... Nuclear plants in the projected path of the hurricane include North Anna and Surry in Virginia, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, Hope Creek and Salem in New Jersey, Indian Point in New York and Millstone in Connecticut.

Public Service Enterprise Group must shut all units at the Salem and Hope Creek plants two hours before the onset of hurricane-force winds greater than 74 mph, according to Sheehan. An “unusual event” would be declared if the winds are sustained for greater than 15 minutes or if the water level reaches 99.5 feet or higher, he said.

Salem Unit 2 is currently shut for refueling, while Unit 1 was operating at 83 percent of capacity today during maintenance on the circulating water system. Hope Creek ran at full power. The three units have a combined capacity of 3,365 megawatts.

Dominion Resources’s Millstone plant is monitoring Sandy’s progress and preparing to adjust staff as it comes closer, according to Ken Holt, a plant spokesman based in Richmond, Virginia. The plant must shut if winds reach 90 mph.

They forgot Three Mile Island, which is helpfully located in the middle of the Susquehanna River.
In 1972 I was working for PP&L and was assigned to the Brunner Island coal plant, just south of TMI (which was then under construction) and both islands were overrun in the Hurricane Agnes flood. We were picking up glassware from the labs at TMI all over the place.
Sandy may produce as much rainfall as Agnes and then it will be off to the races!

There are Peach Bottom and Susquehanna as well. http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactor/

Massive Power Outages Expected Across Northeast

Utility companies and emergency management officials are urging people to prepare for power outages starting Sunday that could last more than a week in some areas.

“Torrential rain, high winds and the threat of excessive flooding have the potential to cause significant damage to the electrical system in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland, which could result in power outages lasting up to 7 to 10 days,” warned a spokesman for the FirstEnergy Corporation, which runs Jersey Central Power and Light and some of the region’s other large utilities.

power outage map: http://pbs.twimg.com/media/A6LIFQ8CMAEIOBc.jpg

The human cost of austerity

... Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull visited a charity-run soup kitchen in a hard-hit suburb of Madrid where hunger is a very real symptom of Spain's economic crisis.

"Not long ago mainly poor immigrants sat down to lunch at these tables. Now an equal number of Spaniards does as well," he says.

"Spain's new poor have grown so much and so rapidly that the Red Cross now estimates that 2.3 million people are 'extremely vulnerable'. An annual appeal by the Spanish Red Cross, normally devoted to disaster victims far away, is for the first time focused on Spain itself."

Review: 'The Revenge of History: The Battle for the 21st Century'

A recurring theme in the tragedies of ancient Greek theatre was humanity's helplessness before the decrees of fate. Characters such as Laius in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex would attempt to defy powers greater than themselves, only to meet precisely the end that had been foretold at the play's beginning. An interrelated tragedy from the canon is that of Cassandra, whose warnings of the future are fated to be dismissed, then later vindicated. It is from here that the Cassandra metaphor of modern parlance is derived.

Both today and in the myths of antiquity, it is those in positions of power who would presume to defy these greater forces, while the modern day Cassandras are the ones who contradict power, point out its hubris and speak truths that it would rather ignore.

... Genuine and total objectivity may be impossible, but one must at least avoid unquestioning immersion in the conventional wisdom of the day. The prevailing political assumptions at any given time are inevitably and disproportionately shaped by those with the loudest voices; the wealthy and the powerful. One must be prepared to detach oneself from these assumptions to gain a clear view of what is happening,... to see the historical context as it should be seen, rather than as power wants us to see it.

India's Coal Rush

The country's dependence on coal is leaving a dirty trail of violence, landlessness and poverty.

India is hungry for energy. Over 173 power plants, all of them coal-fired, will be built to power the nation's high-tech industries and booming cities.

This is accelerating an ongoing “coal rush” which has put our dirtiest fossil fuel at the heart of India’s breakneck growth, and could soon make a single state, Andhra Pradesh, one of the world’s top 20 carbon emitters.

Some 30k MW installed capacity is lying idle because of coal shortage. I think it's another example of how reality works and theory doesn't. In theory there's lot of coal under the ground but population pressures and a dysfunctional society (a result of population pressure) mean that much of it cannot be extracted easily.

Sandy likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster for the U.S.

Predicted storm surge for Hurricane Sandy at The Battery on the south shore of Manhattan, New York City, from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA"s Meteorological Development Laboratory.

Sandy is now predicted to make a fairly rapid approach to the coast, meaning that the storm surge will not affect the coast for multiple high tide cycles. If Sandy hits near New York City, as the GFS model predicts, the storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea. level.

The highest water level recorded at the Battery in the past century came in September 1960 during Hurricane Donna, which brought a storm surge of 8.36 feet to the Battery and flooded lower Manhattan to West and Cortland Streets. According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA"s Meteorological Development Laboratory, Sandy's storm surge may be higher than Irene's, and has the potential to flood New York City's subway system [... Last time -1992- mass transit between New Jersey and New York was down for ten days]

If the peak surge arrives near Monday evening's high tide near 9 pm EDT, a portion of New York City's subway system could flood, resulting in billions of dollars in damage. [worst case - unusable for nearly a month, or longer, at an economic loss of about $55 billion]

A substantial portion of New York City's electrical system is underground in flood-prone areas. Consolidated Edison, the utility that supplies electricity to most of the city, estimates that adaptations like installing submersible switches and moving high-voltage transformers above ground level would cost at least $250 million.

The storm strengthened overnight, and is still strengthening. It's also moving faster, which I suppose is good news.

IMF study: Peak oil could do serious damage to the global economy

I give the titles of the possible scenarios below. You will have to go to the link to see the text of the article, or to the PDF to read the deeper report.

So how bad would it be if peak oil was really upon us? That’s a question that two IMF economists try to tackle in a new working paper, “Oil and the World Economy: Some Possible Futures.” (pdf) The authors, Michael Kumhof and Dirk Muir, don’t make any definitive predictions about how the oil supply will evolve. Rather, they try to model a number of different scenarios in which oil does become more scarce and the world tries to adapt.

The paper itself offers an interesting look at how the world might cope with higher oil prices, so let’s take a look at the various scenarios:

1) Oil production grows very slowly or plateaus.

2) Oil production grows at a slower rate, but the world adapts fairly easily.

3) Oil production grows at a slower rate, but the world can’t find substitutes.

4) Oil turns out to be far more important than most economists had assumed.

5) Oil production starts shrinking rapidly.

And that PDF report can be found here: Oil and the World Economy: Some Possible Futures

Ron P.

The scenarios developed in this paper highlight that the extent to which persistent oil
scarcity could constrain global economic growth and current account imbalances depends
critically on a small number of key factors. If, as in our baseline, the trend growth rate of
oil output declined only modestly, and if the economy was adequately represented by a
standard production function in capital, labor and oil, world output would eventually
suffer, but the effect might not be dramatic. If the substitutability between oil and other
factors of production was increasing in the oil price, the effect would be even smaller. But
if the reductions in oil output were more in line with the more pessimistic studies in the
scientific literature, the effects could be extremely large. The same could be true if, as
claimed by several authors in the scientific literature, standard production functions miss
important aspects of the economic role of oil under conditions of scarcity. We discussed
three possibilities. First, if the economy attempted to substitute away from oil, it might
encounter a lower limit of oil use dictated by entropy. Second, the contribution of oil to
output could be much larger than its cost share, because oil is an essential precondition
for the continued viability of many modern technologies. Third, the income elasticity of
oil demand could be equal to one third as in some empirical studies, rather than one as in
our model. And if two or more of these aggravating factors were to occur in combination,
the effects could range from dramatic to downright implausible

That must be the nearest the IMF have come to comtemplating the outside possibility of a "Mad Max" situation.

The study analyzes one 'combined downside scenario'...

...real oil prices under this scenario would increase by over 400 percent on impact, and by around 1400 percent after 20 years. Despite this, there is no sharp crisis in the short run, and the subsequent reduction in annual GDP growth rates in oil importers equals a steady, crisis-free 3 percentage points.

Real-world response mechanisms to such extreme increases in oil prices could in principle take one of two possible forms.

One is a much more urgent search for alternatives to oil, reflected in much higher elasticities of substitution. We study this in the following subsection.

The other is a much sharper contraction in aggregate demand. The model in its current form is unable to deliver this. If output were to contract far more sharply at the simulated oil prices, the resulting demand destruction would in turn limit the required increase in oil prices.

...since oil prices are effectively capped by the limit on how much people are able to spend, the supply of oil will be capped also...this is obvious to anyone who understands supply and demand, but not obvious to most American citizens. Capex limits, the unstoppable drumbeat of inflation, and close-to-breakeven or even negative EROEI will likely trap a certain amount of oil in the ground.

I have added this to my small number of PO/LTG reports...does TOD maintain an archive of such reports at a 'library link' off in the margins somewhere?

3points off the non-crisis GDP growth rate. We may be about to elect a plutocrat because the current president can only deliver 2percent, which isn't enough to give hope to the millions of unemployed. Since the nominal growth rate for developed nations during good sailing weather is about 3%, me thinks having that go to zero will create a lot of political and societal stress.

"and the subsequent reduction in annual GDP growth rates in oil importers equals a steady, crisis-free 3 percentage points."

Since growth in GDP has been 2% or less lately, this should be a cause for concern among those who hold that GDP must always increase.

Bernanke will have to crank up his sneer another notch and drive the printing presses even harder.

1400% increase in real oil prices huh? Let's do some back-of-the-envelope math:

Current oil consumption = 85 mbpd
Current oil price = 100 $/barrel (roughly)
Yearly cost of oil = 3 trillion $
Size of world economy = 60 trillion $ (per wikipedia)
Yearly cost of oil with 1400% increase in real oil prices = 45 trillion $

So, 75% of the entire world economy is dedicated to oil? Methinks their models have gone mad.

The quote says 1400 percent increase in real price after 20 years

So let's do the rest of of the back-of-the-envelope math:

$60 trillion at 3% growth for 20 years = $108.4 trillion

$60 trillion at 5% growth for 20 years = $159 trillion

Yearly cost of oil at 3% growth assumption: 41.5% of world economy

Yearly cost of oil at 5% growth assumption: 28% of world economy

It still seems unrealistic, but less mad.

Jack - And I guess we have to assume the $148/bbl peak of oil price wouldn't effect their economic model in the humble opinion of those economists. The subsequent economic downturn and the price of oil crashing below $40/bbl was unrelated.

It seems that "less mad" falls into the same category as less pregnent. LOL

In fairness to these economists, Michael Kumhof and Dirk Muir, they do state that their model is unable to simulate this. They basically say that with high oil prices the world either substitutes or has demand destruction. They then state their model can not simulate demand destruction. So they need to improve their model.

Anyway, going by this link, Kumhof has a better grip on things oil than most of his economist peers.

Looks like their scenarios suffer from being created by economists.

  • They tend to have a proportionate view of things. Rather than seeing tipping points, changed attractors and the whole reality of systemic effects, they think they can run forward BAU models based on old rules of thumb. 1% here equals 2% there, so 2% here means 4% there. No positive feedback cycles. This alone means they get it wrong.
  • They tend to think the market, and governments, are rational. Did they learn nothing from the GFC? The financial markets are not rational, well informed, measured; they are greedy, dumb, ill informed, and pretty much fraudulent most of the time. Why haven't they incorporated that practical demonstration of reality in their modelling? As for politicians ...
  • They don't really cover the expected baseline, >2% decline YoY AND no substitution. Why spend half the time talking about versions of BAU that are exceptionally unlikely to happen? Well, the reason is, of course, the usual way you present scenarios when you want to promote one viewpoint - you make the most realistic seem the most extreme of the options. Natural tendency is then to ignore the outliers. Old trick.

Read the report or listen to the presentation. 2% decline and little substitution is their scenario three. He also explicitly talks about how he doesn't really know how persistent high oil prices interact with gdp, that's a subject for future research.

And i really don't think there is any basis for thinking this guy has an agenda to promote BAU. Not everyone that doesn't agree with your idea of the baseline is in some grand conspiracy to fool the public.

Thing is, I think that 2% pa decline maybe possible to adjust to (not easy, but...) However, I think there is a tipping point somewhere north of that where things start breaking, rather than adapting, and where the actual decline rate increases because of the decline rate (eg positive feedback).

I also think that after a period of attempting to scale up shale oil, tar sands, GTL, etc. to mitigate the decline, the options run dry, the high prices of oil itself causes a reduction in mitigation efforts, and the rate does indeed trend to those higher rates, set by the geology.

Therefore, in scenario terms, one that includes 2% decline, and one that includes 5% are very different in their widescale systemic effects. That is NOT covered in these scenarios.

PS If you watch that presentation (which I've seen before) you'll see that scenarios 4 & 5 are not considered seriously, they are throw away ("don't even look at..."). The worst they seriously consider is scenario 3 - which is pretty benign. That's implicitly guiding the reader/viewer towards a benign viewpoint on the future. It's not some shady backroom conspiracy to fool the public, it's an implicit, worldview-constrained limit and 'permission to not think', in an area where a realistic baseline is worse than his worst case.

I will be moderating a session at the 2012 ASPO-USA conference, on 11/30/12, featuring Michael Kumhof, one of the authors of the paper, and Mark Lewis, head of global commodities research at Deutsche Bank. I think that it will be a very interesting discussion.


Incidentally, an excerpt from the paper by Kumhof, et al:

Finally, the simulations do not consider the possibility that some oil exporters might
withhold an increasing share of their stagnating or decreasing oil output for domestic use,
for example through fuel subsidies, in order to support energy intensive industries (e.g.
petrochemicals), and also to forestall domestic unrest. If this were to happen, the amount
of oil available to oil importers could shrink much faster than world oil output (Brown and
Foucher (2010)), with obvious negative consequences for growth in those regions.

I've looked at the pdf that you cite at the bottom of your post. To me, the work, entitled 'Oil and the World Economy', seems to be a well meaning attempt to understand oil and the world economy. It suggests that

This points to important avenues for future research. Most importantly, we suggest that a multidisciplinary approach to modeling, which better represents the dependence of production technologies on physical processes, would be very useful.

and references Hubbert's work in a very respectful way.

I wonder though, were did you find the text in blockquote that you use to summarize the content? The author of that text has a very different take on the content of the pdf than I have. I take the paper to be an appeal to people in the real world to help economists out of a hole they have dug.

The text of my blockquote was from the first link I posted in that post, third paragraph from the top:

IMF study: Peak oil could do serious damage to the global economy

Ron P.

Re drilling in the Barents. The area is divided into super-blocks one degree high and one degree wide. Each is subdivided into 4 x 3 = 12 exploration blocks.

At that latitude, the super-blocks are ~112 x 35 km (69 x 21 mi) which makes the exploration blocks 28 x 11.5 km (17 x 7 mi)

Pink blocks = Utlyste blokke = Available blocks
Grey blocks = Utvinningstillatelser = Production licenses
Red = Gass = Gas

Chart pdf

Question for Rockman: Where do you start in your block?
1. In the middle.
2. At the edge, hoping to suck up your neighbor's oil.
3. At the sweet spot, wherever it may be.

aardi – None of the above. You start with shooting tens of $millions of 3d seismic. 3d seis is essentially very dense seismic coverage. The mapping capability of today’s seis is light years ahead of 2d seis I started working 37 years ago. Oil/NG is trapped in certain geometric configurations of the rocks. Seis allows much greater details than just using the geology seen in wells themselves. Especially when there are very few wells in the area. Additionally in some areas it’s possible to see direct evidence of the presence of hydrocarbons, especially NG. This allows a much higher success rate. The interesting thing about the advent of 3d seis: it has probably caused more wells to not be drilled than drilled. In the good ole days when there was thin data to base drilling on we would take risks we don’t have to today.

The seis data is the basis for determining not only what blocks you lease but also how much you pay for the lease. Something else to be aware of: even if an exploratory well finds a large commercial field out there it might be plugged and abandoned. It takes a production platform to produce. It often makes more economic sense to plug early wells and redrill them later when the platform is installed. Several other “expendable wells” might be drilled after a discovery to confirm the volume in order to properly size the development program.

One more Rockman side story: the first field I was assigned to develop for Mobil Oil in 1975 in the offshore GOM. Mobil didn’t like drilling too many expendable holes and would lean more heavily on the seis mapping. Drilling off the exploration maps the first 5 wells off the production platform were DRY HOLES. Saving money by not drilling more expendable holes didn’t save money in the end.

BTW every offshore lease block on the planet is surrounded by mulitple lease blocks that have no production on them...and never will.

There's something I don't quite follow here. This seems to imply an expendable hole is cheaper, why would it be cheaper? What difference is there between it and a production hole that has not been completed?


NAOM - Because typically when the drill rig moves off of an expendable hole there’s nothing left above the mud line. While sometimes that original hole can be cut at the mud line, capped and then later reentered in many cases it’s not practical. A “subsea completion”, where the wellhead is sitting on the sea floor and flow lines are run back to the production platform is possible but this is often too expensive. Commonly several expendable vertical holes can be widely spaced across a 5,000 ac lease block but there’s typically only one optimum location for the production platform. From that platform directional wells can be drilled to other areas on the lease. And sometimes if the water depth isn’t too great a single caisson can be set over the well…sort of like a mini-platform. There’s also another consideration: as a well drills deeper addition strings of progressively smaller diameter casing in run into the well. There is a minimum size casing we can complete a well with. In order to be able to run that size casing when the well reaches total depth we would have to start out with larger diameter casing in the well. That can add considerable cost to the well. And remember they don’t know they’ll find commercial pay in the well and that additional costs may be for naught.

There are many factors that determine if an expendable hole makes sense. But the choice is usually fairy obvious.

Ok, thanks. I am understanding this as running in a smaller, less complicated, individual holes that will be followed up later by full bore holes from a single location to the best places indicated by the expendable holes. Am I close?


NAOM - You nailed one critical aspect, grasshopper

Thanks, I found it odd at first but hadn't been thinking about production platform and directional just straight down holes. Those other bits tied it together and it made sense.


Thanks. Looks like the cod will have to wear earplugs.

Offshore Energy Clash Over Undersea Sound

To obtain those pictures of where oil or gas is likely to be found, arrays of air guns are towed behind large vessels that weave back and forth over exploration areas. Sound receivers, called hydrophones, are on streamer cables towed farther behind.

According to a 2004 federal environmental assessment of seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico, the air guns fire every seven to 16 seconds for hours, days, weeks or even months.

Whale Racket: Sounding Out How Loud the Oceans Were From Whale Vocalizing Prior to Industrial Whaling

California researchers Michael Stocker and Tom Reuterdahl of Ocean Conservation Research in Lagunitas, Calif., present their findings at the 164th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), held Oct. 22 – 26 in Kansas City, Missouri. Using historic population estimates, the researchers assigned “sound generation values” to the species for which they had good vocalization data. "In one example, 350,000 fin whales in the North Atlantic may have contributed 126 decibels – about as loud as a rock concert – to the ocean ambient sound level in the early 19th century," Stocker notes. This noise would have been emitted at a frequency from 18 – 22 hertz.

" Seis allows much greater details than just using the geology seen in wells themselves. Especially when there are very few wells in the area. Additionally in some areas it’s possible to see direct evidence of the presence of hydrocarbons, especially NG. This allows a much higher success rate."

Rockman Does that mean that I must stop using the old cliche - 'only the drill bit knows'?

Robert - Hell no! But even that bitch of a bit can lie to you! I'm on a well right now getting ready to run the final electric log. So far it's been difficult to determine productivity from the mud log, the electric log, the side wall cores and even two production tests so far. Sometimes Mother just won't give up her secrets easy.

It still required drilling to be sure. Natural gas has the strongest effect on seismic. However, it turns out that the bigest part of the effect happens with the first bit of gas. Seismic has a tough time telling "fizz water" from a significant gas deposit. There can be infinite variety in the geology, and lots of other things can look like gas on seismic. It's tough to sort out hydrocarbon effects from other effects. Often, you need at least one nearby well with which to calibrate the seismic.

Seismic technology has improved greatly in seeing "direct hydrocarbon indicators" (DHI), but it isn't close to being perfect. The best way to look at it is that seismic lets you high grade a prospect as being more likely to have hydrocaronbs, but it still remains true that you need to drill to know whether you have an economically viable field. DHI's work a lot better in some areas than others. Younger, softer rocks seem to show more reliable DHI's than older, more lithified rocks. DHI's have been highly successful on the Gulf Coast. They are used, but with somewhat less success in other areass.

A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture...

Wawa, Ont., deluge forces First Nation evacuation
Area highway closed after high water levels erode roadway

It could be days before a section of the Trans-Canada Highway reopens through northern Ontario after torrential rains washed out the road near the town of Wawa and prompted a partial evacuation of the nearby Michipicoten First Nation.

The town declared a state of emergency Friday morning after a freak storm dumped more than 100 millimetres of rain in 24 hours.

--- snip ---

The damage to the municipal roads is "equal to or greater" than that of the highway and repairs will cost the town between $5 million and $10 million, she told CBC News.

Does Wawa have that much money?

"Hell no," said Nowicki. "We have a very difficult economic situation to start with and now, with our roads closed, our businesses are suffering."

100mm! That's a half hour shower down here.


It all depends upon what is unusual (or what is a 100year event) for a site. The heaviest shower I ever experienced was the same 100mm, but it came down in 5minutes. And people won't believe me but that was in New Mexico.

I'm not at all surprised that a far northern area would find that rain to be nearly unprecedented.

What do the statisticians on this site think of this?
I'm not sure if this is old news being recycled just in time for the election or something new. Thoughts?


Remember what we were told in 2004: "Exit polls are meaningless".

How American Elections Became a Criminal Enterprise

There are a thousand ways to tilt the elections. The best is to have one candidate. Having two candidates is better showmanship. Under Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, I've seen my country gutted.

A free press and media in the public service...
A multiplicity of parties or candidates with proportional voting/representation...

Meanwhile, the last of my young friends is leaving the country. He is an engineer in the field of power conversion and control. His last question to me involved power bus transfer pre-charge and switching into highly capacitive loads at some part of a Farad within electric vehicles at 600 Volts... and thus my strange capacitor rant last Drumbeat. The fundamentalists will not mourn the loss of his scientific knowledge. That makes three more young people with high potential that have gotten out of here this year.

America is like a diseased sex-worker with a gun. There isn't anything you really want from them, but they will make sure you pay. The best thing the rest of the world could do to protect itself is cease feeding this beast.

I've lived outside of the US for 20 years. I doubt your naive young engineer friends will find where ever they land to be as different as they (or you) expect. In fact, I bet they come back in a few years older, wiser, and more content.

I tend to think of patriotism as a vice and am well aware of the problems in and with US. But when I read the last paragraph of your comment, I get the feeling you are in a bubble every bit as distant and impermeable as the ones your opponents reside in.

I suspect that most of the things you hate about Americans are actually characteristics of all humans. Maybe I am wrong, but I do think it would be better to get out of the place you seem to despise so much and find out.

Yes, actually, I do believe you are wrong. I do not think KD hates Americans, or America, though if he did, there's nothing shocking, amoral, or unpatriotic about that. There are moments when I hate my friends who are alcoholic or make bad decisions that hurt other people I love. It does not mean I would not help them if they were in trouble, or that I have given up on them. I am human, and I have a right to get angry sometimes. So does KD.

What I got from KD's post is contempt for the peculiar blend of capitalism, authoritarianism, and consumerism that brought us Donald Trump, Windows 8, Extraordinary Rendition, talking elevators, and heavy metal bands like Whitesnake. Frankly, a lot of us have gotten pretty sick of it, and we're sick of being told to shut up or to leave the country, though I know that's not exactly what you said.

I hope KD does not leave. Unless it's for a vacation, which, quite frankly, most of us could benefit from. Maybe that is what you meant.

Whitesnake...the British band? Not sure how they fit in with Trump and extraordinary rendition

Point taken. But if it wasn't for for Geffen, an American record company near the apex of its influence in the mid '80s, Whitesnake would likely have been much less successful, which would have spared the rest of us from having to endure them on the air and cable TV.


My point was that the band was created by A&R people and MTV. That's what capitalism does: the crud usually rises to the top, (though not always.) The real talent often gets crushed-- I think that was KD's point about his bright young friends leaving the country.

Our superstars are chosen for us.

So are our leaders.

Calling Whitesnake a creation of A&R people is more than a stretch - they are actually a perfect illustration of the reality that most people who make it big in music have to grind for years. The leader, David Coverdale, was in bands for 10 years before even forming Whitesnake; as far as I can tell every member had extensive musical experience and had been grinding in various bands for years before Whitesnake. They wrote and performed their own music.

Britney Spears, on the other hand, is manufactured - autotuned, singing other people's songs, and raised to be an idol. Not that she didn't put in plenty of work for it, but there is an essential difference between Whitesnake and Spears.

No argument with your central point, which is a bit different than mine-- these were hard working musicians, all the members had extensive experience, they were not Britney Spears (your comparison, not mine.)

I do think Coverdale's best work, however, was with Deep Purple. And I still believe that what Geffen did with Whitesnake did not make them a better band; it made them more bland and annoying, and that's typically what happens when bands get signed to major labels.

While I still maintain there is a kernel of truth to my original point, I believe I have been charged with Hyperbole, and in all fairness, I must plead guilty.

As penance, I am going to go onto iTunes today, and I am going to browse Whitesnake's entire catalog. I will identify the song that I find least obnoxious... and I will purchase it.

I doubt that I will like it as much as "Highway Star." But you never know.

I don't think there is anything shocking, amoral, or unpatriotic about KD's comment. I certainly don't think he should love America or leave it by any stretch.

My point is that the "America" and the "rest of the world" dichotomy that he is trying to establish is false one. I do think he needs to get out of his bubble to see that, whether the change is geographical or psychological.

Much of what lead him to call the US "diseased sex-worker with a gun" applies equally to humanity as a whole and to a lot of other countries. The Whitesnake indictment is an own goal in this regard, as the band isn't even American. Donald Trump is a different story, although it would would be easy to find idiots from anywhere and burn them in a rhetorical effigy. Italy's Berlusconi is no better. And one only needs to read the front page of the New York Times to know that China's leadership isn't exactly pure.

None of this is to say that his critiques of the US are not accurate or important. I do think the country has a lot to atone for (as well as a lot to take credit for). I also agree that the situation has been getting worse, although I think that is very hard to measure.

But I do think KD either needs some perspective or to just think out his frequent rants before posting them. I do know where he is coming from, but in their current form I think many of them just make him sound like a typical spoiled and disaffected (American) teenager.

I appreciate your thoughtful, measured reply.

"Diseased sex worker" may not be the finest metaphor (or simile, to be more accurate) the author has ever chosen. And it's probably accurate to guess that if, for example, KD lived in Hamstead and I lived in Earl's Court, we would probably be complaining about Cameron's support for "free trade," mandatory sentencing and prison building projects.

I'm not sure KD is in a bubble, though. It may be that we're all ranting a bit more than usual on this side of the puddle just because it's November of 2012. The onslaught of media coverage, the amplification of the candidates' every sneeze and fart, is really relentless in the states, and it does not always elicit our most trenchant observations about the human condition.

I could still defend my point about Whitesnake and Geffen, but the larger question is... good God, it's been a quarter century, why am I gnawing at that old bone again?

It's the political cycle. I think we all regress a bit during election year.

<< find idiots from anywhere and burn them in a rhetorical effigy >>

Nice turn of phrase, enjoyed that. If there's anything uniquely American, it's... the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum thing he was talking about, you know? Hard to define it, exactly. A certain particular flavor of hypocrisy that's just sets one's teeth on edge. Particularly now.

Given the absence of true democracy, there is no real leadership in an oligarchy, because there is no real followership.

Yes, of course these are common to the human condition.

In particular, America's most important exports in recent years have been financial ruin, the slaughter of warfare, and "non-negotiable" destruction of the common environment. The future leaders offer no effective response or resistance to the financiers, debate starting new wars while hiding new wars already underway, and try to out bid each-other in appearing to accelerate the race to burn everything left in the ground.

My friend visited the other country. The contrast was stark. Traveling offers a different viewpoint.

The tilting of the 2004 election did not just take place at the polls, either-- what happened in the Supreme Court was unconscionable. I don't know if anyone here is familiar with Vince Bugliosi's "The Betrayal of America." A very well-rendered and researched polemic, and particularly interesting because the author is a self-identified conservative Republican.

Meanwhile, the last of my young friends is leaving the country.

...and millions are desperate to get in the US. A US "green card" or passport is the most coveted document in the world.

The US has problems, but it is a lot worse in other countries (except maybe Canada, Norway or Australia).

A myth from the past - once true.

Highly skilled immigrants that have a choice, often prefer Germany or the Scandinavian nations - or Canada - to the United States.

If they speak only their native tongue and English, Canada is still often preferred.


PS: If I was forced to leave New Orleans, I would leave the United States.

Western Canada has a distinct shortage of skilled workers (Alberta has an unemployment rate of only 4.4%), and the government is loosening the rules to allow more of them in.

According to the latest Canadian census, the most commonly spoken language at home after English and French is - wait for it - Punjabi. Chinese, Spanish, German, and Italian are also common. About 20% of Canadians have a mother tongue other than English (58%) or French (22%).

The French are feeling somewhat overwhelmed, the English (most of whom are not ethnically English), less so. Most Canadians are now ethnically Heinz 57's.

...and Sweden.

Proof that bias exists doesn't mean proof that the vote counting process is fixed. It could just be some artefact of rules that have been written to favor the side that has the power to write the rules. This is normal politics in the US and only illegal if the rules are written to disadvantage blacks rather than Democrats.

What the article needs to make its case is not just an artefact, but a correlation of that artefact with a particular type of vote counting machine. Instead it relies on handwaving arguments about rigging the count being the only possible explanation. Its not quite as weak an argument as "Low temperature fusion is the only possible explanation for the extra heat" but its in the same class.

Most Americans probably aren't worried if Republicans or Democrats hack their votes, because its just a continuation of gerrymandering by other means. However, they ought to be, because if an election is susceptible to hacking, it could be hacked by anarchists, or Teheran, not just by Republicans or Democrats.

Hot Air ~
Nice try at minimizing the implications here. As long as the anomaly works in one's favor, what's the big deal, right?

A an article by the late Christopher Hitchens, who perhaps could best be described as a professional skeptic.

Ohio's Odd Numbers, March, 2005
No conspiracy theorist, and no fan of John Kerry's, the author nevertheless found the Ohio polling results impossible to swallow: Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines.

But what strikes my eye is this: in practically every case where lines were too long or machines too few the foul-up was in a Democratic county or precinct, and in practically every case where machines produced impossible or improbable outcomes it was the challenger who suffered and the actual or potential Democratic voters who were shortchanged, discouraged, or held up to ridicule as chronic undervoters or as sudden converts to fringe-party losers . . .

I am not any sort of statistician or technologist, and (like many Democrats in private) I did not think that John Kerry should have been president of any country at any time. But I have been reviewing books on history and politics all my life, making notes in the margin when I come across a wrong date, or any other factual blunder, or a missing point in the evidence. No book is ever free from this. But if all the mistakes and omissions occur in such a way as to be consistent, to support or attack only one position, then you give the author a lousy review. The Federal Election Commission, which has been a risible body for far too long, ought to make Ohio its business. The Diebold company, which also manufactures A.T.M.s, should not receive another dime until it can produce a voting system that is similarly reliable. And Americans should cease to be treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise.

It may be, as the Chinese saying goes, "An interesting election."

Of course, as Tom Brokaw said of the 2008 election, "The winner should demand an immediate recount."


The article is a pointer to the (not an academic) paper Choquette and Johnson (2012). My first thoughts on a quick read ...

1. Not written by a professional statistician
2. Not written by a programmer familiar with statistical/mathematical toolkits such as R, STATA, or Matlab.
3. When reading 'Tabular', understand 'Spreadsheet' (Excel, or OO Calc)
4. A competent programmer would have run all 50 states; the author states that data is available.
5. Why these states? Data selection criteria not listed or I missed it.
6. The conclusion is not stated in statistical language. How likely/unlikely is it that the results observed would have occurred without manipulation?
7. The author notes that precincts with higher tallies have higher population density; but rejects the premise that 'urban' precincts display a preference for Romney because 'urban' precincts also displayed a preference for Paul. (p30) Fallacious argument.
8. The previous point is probably the killer for this analysis.
9. Doesn't link to spreadsheet used to generate analysis.

You can find more information on their analysis in the second document listed as reference for this sites article here http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/stolen-election-2004-plus-the-voter-fr...
they include the method used to make the graphs and give detail instructions on how you can do it yourself

For regulators, sand mine riches are tough to refuse

As sand mining intensifies across Wisconsin and Minnesota, mineral companies are pouring into the region and many of them are enticing county regulators with job offers, hoping they will join an industry that they now oversee.

In the quest for lucrative mining permits that can be tough to get, the newly formed or out-of-state companies covet the local regulators' knowledge of the region's geography, personal connections in small towns, and intricate understanding of county ordinances covering health, traffic and the environment.

To clarify: the sand is used as proppant for fracking.

The sand stampede that now stretches from central Wisconsin to southeastern Minnesota is being stoked by a national boom in oil and gas production that, federal officials said last week, could make the United States the world's leading oil producer. From North Dakota to Texas, energy companies are using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking" -- to tap underground shale formations rich in petroleum and natural gas.

Western Wisconsin and southern Minnesota have vast deposits of high-grade sand that is vital to the fracking process, leading some to predict that the region could have a $1 billion mining industry before long.

To be perfectly clear, it is not about Sandy either.

Or Snuffalupagus.


Could someone define what "high-grade sand" really means?

Like the stuff my village, in the UK, used to sell to the Arabs :) There are many types of sand, for many purposes so each industry would have its own definition. Glass would want very pure silica sand, PV would want that with low iron.


Oh, we used to send a special grade to Saudi Arabia as it was suited to use in water filtration plants, their type of "high-grade sand".

Hey, Paul in Halifax; and all Heat Pump afficionados..

I've finally flipped the switch on the Nyle Geyser. last night at about midnight. After many intermediary stages of tank completion and assembling/installing PEX Heat Exchangers, the Heat Pump became the first contributor to this storage and DHW preheating system.

I don't have lots of data sources hooked up yet, but I'll be recording Basement Ambient Temp/Hum. and tank strata-temps at some point.

Initially, the pump is drawing an average of 500 watts, sayeth the Kill-a-watt meter, and when I read it at 5:45 this morning (as I finally hooked up the condensate drain hose.. THERE'S some moisture for it to clean up for me.. nice little puddle).. the sensor at the midpoint of the 263 Gallon tank had risen from 62f to 84f in 6 hours, using 3kwh. Of course this is not a homogeneous temp for that mass, so I really can't pretend to come up with the latent energy or the delta T from last night.. but it'll do for now.

The little furnace room didn't seem chilly or icy, as I had feared.. though the pump has a ways to go before it hits the 100 degree mark I gave it as a setpoint.

Next, I'll be adding another 3" of foam to the 3" that are there already, and better sealing the top lid, before I start hauling the Copper Flatplate Collectors to the roof for stage 2.


Congratulations, Bob ! I know you're going to be very pleased with its performance.

Our Nyle has been operational for just under two weeks and during this time it has consumed an average of 1.65 kWh a day, about half of what we had used previously with electric resistance. However, the reduced runtime of our dehumidifier has basically cut our water heating costs to zero.

Between October 16th (the first full day of operation) and the 27th, we've used an average of 11.17 kWh/day for space heating, DHW, all major appliances and plug loads; this same period last year, we were 15.08 kWh/day. So, our total household consumption is down 26 per cent, year over year, even though the weather over this twelve day period was cooler (8.9°C versus 10.2°C) and therefore our space heating related usage higher (2.68 kWh/day versus 1.71).


Hi Paul;
Well it will really be interesting to see how this works with such a significant mass. I just spent the last couple hours in there doing some insulation detailing and so on, and a tenant had the dryer running.. which (are you sitting?) I have mentioned before has been routed into the 'barely finished basement' spaces over the last few winters (outside for summertime), where the workshop space seems to manage the moisture quite well.. I think a good bit has been drawn out with the furnace exhaust.. but this time, the Heat Pump was still bringing the mass up the last few degrees to it's 100deg setpoint, and within a half hour, the RH had returned to about 55% .. I have a custom filter to create for additional lint control, but I'm very satisfied that this will be a good way to manage humidity and reuse that heat.

The Johnson Controller has a Binary Input which might be the best way to use my Humidistat to complement the thermally driven setup, as it lets you adjust and override the normal temp setpoint.

Wait till I tell you about the direct Windpower Input stage I'm going to try on this!

(98 degrees at 3:30 pm, 16hrs running, 8kwh used -- people are in the apts using water, so this isn't a pure input-only count of its heating or storage effic..)

This was at SPI show - http://www.usa-eds.com . Generation 1 of Code approved PV direct drive to a conventional electrical water heater. I have done this with 60 or 90V direct DC to the element with a DC contractor salved to the Thermostat, works fine and safe with ungrounded feed, but can not sell to customer since it's not code compliant. Lots of Interest in ANYTHING that gives grid freedom.
Good use of the "affordable" PV on the market.

Is there a reason not to send PV directly into a properly sized heating element, like these diversion load elements? http://www.altestore.com/store/Charge-Controllers/Dump-Loads-Dump-Load-C...

Of course, now that I'm driving this Heat Pump, I've got a compelling reason to add some grid-tied PV to counter those new KWHs, and they're getting a couple times more use from those watts.. just the same, I like having the simpler and more direct options available for quick deployment anyhow.

My wind setup would be going directly into a DC resistive element.. although the adventurer in me will still toy with the possibility of having windpower DIRECTLY drive a compressor for a one-stage heat pump solution.. no other middlemen! (It might require a LOONNG axle from the basement to a Vertical Axis mill up on the roof. Direct Drive!

How is the humidity, has the box helped?


It's great, in a word!

I had a puddle under the stand this morning, since I was in a rush getting it going last night and just left it to drip.. and after I routed the drip line into a bucket this morning and did a rough mop up, the wet concrete by this afternoon didn't even have damp edges anywhere.

The Clothes Dryer output was blowing right into the HP corner, and the room quickly recovered after the laundry was finished.. they seem to be a perfect complement to each other, and I'm still convinced that routing the damp shower air into this space and triggering the HP with a Humidistat will likewise be a good way to handle the humidity and to preclude blowing High Energy Heated Moist air out of the building envelope, which will additionally force more cold winter air to be drawn into the building..

I will have to make sure that I can time the fans so that the transfer ducts are also self-drying within this process.

(One more benefit is the concern that this hot-water tank could let some steamy moist air escape, while I will endeavor to have tight seals and super-insulation.. but any moisture around this wood-framed tank would clearly be destructive.. but the dehumidification provides the management tool to preclude that problem as well!!)

Hurricane Sandy...

Looking at some model runs I just have to think that the authorities don't believe some of the output.

The latest Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE) value for surge/waves destructive potential is 5.7 on a scale of 0-6. That's a higher number than for Hurricane Ike.

If max surge coincides with a high tide the projected flooding will be very, very bad indeed.

EDIT: Latest surge map as of posting. Note Staten Island.

Updates at http://nc-cera.renci.org/cgi-cera-nc/cera-nc.cgi

A lot of people on the storm forums are wondering why New York is not evacuating Zone A.

Looking at some model runs I just have to think that the authorities don't believe some of the output.

Perhaps they are counting on a belief that their deity of choice will protect them... especially given the fact that they seem intent on sacrificing some of their constituents!

Best hopes that the models are wrong!

Mayor Bloomberg about to hold a press conference. Perhaps mandatory evacuations will be called then. Press conf at http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/live_event_static.html

EDIT: Bloomberg appears to be telling lies. Said surge forecasts changed considerably overnight. Zone A mandatory evacuation now ordered.

Nonsense Mayor Bloomberg. Surge maps have been suggesting Zone A evacuation for over 24 hours now.

Further Edit: There seems to be some confusion in who has responsibility for predicting the storm. Hurricane Sandy is expected to be extra-tropical by landfall and thus no longer the NHC's responsibility. This has affected the wording of warnings and the routes of communication. The NHC has now gone out of its way to use the words "life-threatening" (to make sure Mayor Bloomberg got the message?). He was asked about that wording at today's press conference after he had downplayed the storm yesterday.


1100 AM EDT SUN OCT 28 2012


LOCATION...32.5N 72.6W

Surely NHC will keep it. They are spun-up and have the comm channels open. Even if it transitions, why hand-off to a smaller, less capable entity?

For those who pay attention, the potential has been known for many days. Uncertainty is dropping, but it is all squarely in the risk range foreseen for the past few days.

The NHC put out an announcement yesterday that they would have to hand-off control unless the storm remained tropical. That was the reason they had no tropical/hurricane watches beyond a certain point. It caused a lot of confusion it seems. But yes it would seem logical for them to keep responsibility to avoid confusion.

Here's the statement NHC statement concerning the expected transition of Hurricane Sandy to a Post-tropical cyclone and the flow of information from the National Weather Service (PDF)

Because Sandy is expected to make this transition before reaching the coast, the NWS has
been using non-tropical wind watches and warnings, issued by local NWS Weather Forecast
Offices (WFOs), to communicate the wind threat posed by Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic States and
New England. (This is why NHC’s tropical storm warnings extend only into North Carolina.)
The NWS plans to continue using non-tropical watches and warnings issued by local offices in
the Mid-Atlantic States and northward throughout this event. By using non-tropical warnings in
these areas from the start, we avoid or minimize the significant confusion that could occur if the
warning suite changed from tropical to non-tropical in the middle of the event.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at3+shtml/153841.shtml?gm_psurge is a better storm surge map.

Staten Island contains Todt Hill, which is 410 feet above sea level and will not be inundated. Tottenville and the west side along the Arthur Kill will flood.


Yes the CERA map doesn't seem to have the correct elevation details for Staten Island. However the official NHC surge map you link is based on models that initiated with too low a storm intensity (over 10mb too high). The latest IKE value for surge/waves is now 5.8 (on a scale of 0-6) and used the correct minimum pressure.

Current central pressure just given as 950mb in 8pm advisory. Current expected pressure in latest GFS model is 964mb for this time. I'm not competent by any means to comment more on that other than to note it. It may mean the storm hits at a much lower pressure than currently forecast or it may not.

When a storm's pressure drops off the bottom of the scale of a barometer, it tells you that the people who make barometers for a living never expected to see such a storm.

I read on a swedish news site (svt.se) that Zone A will indeed be evacuated.

Yes, this was announced at last at today's press conference. Meanwhile latest estimated surge/waves destructive potential is now 5.8 on a scale of 0-6. Wind is "only" 2.7.

I note that latest weather model runs all initialised with a pressure about 10mb too high. That should be fixed in the next runs which should improve landfall accuracy.

Yes, evacuations of the low lying areas in New York and New Jersey have been ordered. New York City buses, subways and commuter rail stop service at 7 pm EDT today so that equipment can be parked in safe areas and stations secured. Port Authority Trans Hudson trains between NJ and NY will stop at 12 noon on Monday.

New York City Schools are closed Monday, and I'd expect that schools are closed generally throughout the region.

The worst problem for transportation will be potential flooding of tunnels and low-lying sections of track. It is full moon, so tides are high.

The electrical grid will take a lot of damage due to trees and tree limb breakage. There is a "nature" area near by which is an example of what unmanaged forestry looks like after 45 years -- tall, densely packed, spindly trees. I'm expecting them to lodge like a field of ripe oats after a hailstorm.

Should all forest and other areas in which most buildings and roads are prohibited be 'managed' by humans?

I think it is reasonable to understand that nature existed and persisted and adapted to changing conditions before management by Homo Sapiens.

This is 40 acres of former farmland that is being allowed to "do whatever it does". It is an experiment in forebearance, not really anything natural until a couple more centuries have passed. It would need a few cycles of blowdowns, forest fires, etc. before once again resembling the native mature forest. On the other hand, some judicious intervention could expedite the process.

The cork-yielding forests in Spain and Portugal look pretty stable as an ecosystem, but only because the participation of homo sapiens there has been stable over the centuries.

One of the things forests do is invite humans.

Mandatory evacuation ordered - and transportation to many friends & relatives shut down 5 or 6 hours after the order.

I really disagree with the early shut-down of buses, subways & commuter rail. Sunday is a limited service day anyway.

Run a limited schedule with limited equipment over night and into Monday morning as PATH is doing. Perhaps to 9:30 AM or 10 AM with half or a third of the rolling stock - and the older rolling stock.


I was wrong about the 12 noon for PATH. They are shutting down as of midnight tonight. I think that the philosophy is that people who depend on mass transit should stay home Monday and not go somewhere that they can't return from later in the day.

And those that have a sister in Islip (Long Island), a college roommate in Poughkeepsie NY, parents in White Plains or the "safe side" of Staten Island that they could move in with for the duration are SOL. No MetroNorth or LIRR for them, even with OK weather.

All of the above may have extended outages, but are not at major risk of flooding - no mandatory evacuations there.


If you were one of the 375,000 in Zone A, you were to leave today before the shutdown.

Zone A (with Rockaways, City Island, Hamilton Beach)

There are at least that many more being evacuated in NY State, NJ, and CT.

Jeff Masters said a lot of electrical infrastructure in NYC is underground. Sea water does not make a happy camper out of such.

If I were in the area, I'd be temped to give the trees a major trimming (i.e. remove a lot of branches so there is less for the wine to catch)> I'd rather have a trimmed tree, that one in my living room.

What, you got something against Christmas trees? ;-)

I heard that they are at work doing just that.

State preparations for hurricane impact

"The State Department of Transportation (DOT) is actively preparing for the storm by readying equipment; organizing crews to remove trees and limbs on roadways and trimming trees that could affect electrical lines; identifying staff that will conduct flood watches; and monitoring bridges as water rises. Crews are clearing as much debris and floatable objects as possible that could be picked up by storm water and cause damage, create hazards, or clog roads and the areas underneath bridges."

Yes, the state and local DOTs are very busy. Schools and many businesses are closed in the path of Sandy, but many DOT workers were called in to work Sunday and will be working extra during and after the storm. Even people who don't normally deal with this kind of thing may be tapped - all hands on deck in this kind of emergency. Utility companies are also gearing up in a big way.

NRC Monitors Nuclear Plants in Hurricane’s Projected Path

Nuclear reactors in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast are being monitored for potential impacts by Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 storm that may strike anywhere from Delaware to southern New England.

“Because of the size of it, we could see an impact to coastal and inland plants,” Neil Sheehan, a spokesman based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by phone. “We will station inspectors at the sites if we know they could be directly impacted.”

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), one of the few Peak Oil aware (out loud) congresspeople in a tough re-election bid after re-districting.



A sample of Representative Barlett's energy-issue voting record:


Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling.

Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution.

Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets.

Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (same vote, ~same issue as above)

Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (same vote, ~same issue as above)

Voted YES on investing in homegrown biofuel.

Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC.

Voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies.

Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore.

Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refineries.

Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries.

Voted YES on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy.

Voted YES on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy.

Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels.

Voted YES on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR.

Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol.

But...many times there is more than one issue in a bill...for example, RB voted against a bill referenced by Nate Hagens in the link below...so he voted against a bill which had a feature to raise CAFE standards, because the bill Also stipulated support for ethanol subsidies...


Sooo...due the 'bundling' of different issues in a given bill, there is often more than meets the eye when looking at a person's voting record.

I did find it interesting that the one article claims he has fathered 10 children.


The more I dug, the less I liked...

Roscoe Bartlett doesn't support measure to allow family planning to provide for reasonable population control:


He has voted numerous time on various bills declaring that life begins at fertilization/conception...such bills would, if enforced to the ultimate, make woman criminals who take the certain forms of birth control pills.

He also supported the 'Stop the War on Coal Act 2012'.

He also is quite the fervent War Hawk, to include voting 'nay' on a bill to end the military's ability to indefinitely hold prisoners in the 'War on terror' without charge.

I hope he is kicked to the curb.

Yahbut, what is his opponent's record?



Does anyone know if fees and interests on loans (debts) for oil/gas developments in U.S. are tax deductible?
And how much is this “tax rebate”?

Interest and fees on debt may become considerable costs for companies that are heavily leveraged.

Interest and related loan expenses are tax deductible for business purposes, but principal payments are not (this is true for all US businesses).

Will this apply say for a company operating in oil/gas shales?

If taxes for mineral (oil/gas) extraction is say 15%, will the interest and loan expenses become reduced with 15%?

The reason why I ask is that I am presently modelling/simulating what leverage a company can sustain given various oil (gas) prices.
By leverage I here mean the ratio of total debt to annual net income (profits) and at some point debt services becomes a considerable part of "expenses" and reduces a company's flexibility.

Fees and interest on loans are expenses on a company's income statements and thus reduce income prior to the application of corporate income tax

It would not apply to taxes for extraction, which are really just a fee.

Leverage does not refer to "the ratio of total debt to annual net income", it refers to the ratio of total debt to total assets, although the rest of your assumption appears correct.

Hello Jack and thank you!

You are right about ratio of total debt to total assets.

My point was to illustrate the ratio of total debt to net income as a metric to describe the ability to use net income to reduce debts. Put another way how long would it take to use net income to pay down all or a portion of the debts.

Taxes for extraction is just a fee, does this mean that there is no "tax rebate" on interests from debts/credits used for extraction?

Looking at the numbers it appears that many of the companies involved in shale oil/gas use (growing) debt as a portion to finance growth in production and at some point accrued interests (and other financial fees) becomes an important portion of costs.


Understood. That does make sense.

By the way, one traditional method by which financial analysts (or credit analysts) evaluate the ability of a company's earning to cover debt is by using what is called the interest coverage ratio, or time interest earned (EBITDA/interest expenses).


This is basically the same thing you are doing, except that EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation) is considered a better proxy for cash flow (which determines the ability of a company to extract cash for any purpose, including interest payments) than net income. This is because it is pre-tax (and you wouldn't pay tax if interest payments eliminated profits), doesn't count interest payments twice, and adds back depreciation, which is a non-cash (or accounting charge (meaning it only allocates the capital cost over time for purposes of tax and smoothing reported profits)

Also take a look at the debt service coverage ratio, which includes capital payment:


The website below is my favorite reference for basic finance concepts. I haven't looked for interest coverage stuff yet, but will. It is still before breakfast here in Bangkok, so there is only so much I can do. But I do think you will be able to find a lot more on methodology here and elsewhere. It is fairly well trodden ground.


I'll try to stir up a bit more info once the coffee starts doing its work. Please let me know if there is anything else I can add. I would be happy to think that I was able to contribute in a small way to the great work you are doing.

Hello Jack and thanks a lot for your assistance and links which was very helpful.

I just completed some dynamic simulations of a generic development of a play/area for shale oil and ran the economics of it.

Ability to take on debt (or have other sources for funding like interdepartmental transfers (loans) between departments like in a big international company) is an important element in shale oil developments. This is because it may take considerable time to return the capital that has been invested. This affects the net present value (NPV).

Depending on total debt and income (production, oil price) financial costs (mainly interests) may take as much as $2 - $4/bbl.
Availability to funding has a big influence in development of production (assuming the operations for completing wells runs smoothly).

The risks involve developments in well productivity with time especially declining productivity (leaner areas).

Oil price has a major influence (no surprise there).

Hopefully I will be able to put together a post about these things (need first to further discuss the results with some colleagues); the simulations only took a few hours…I expected days and weeks.

The results from the simulations suggest that the more wells that are added, the steeper the decline becomes if new wells are not brought in continually, approximately 50 % decline in total production in 22 months if all came to a sudden halt which makes the production profile look like a shark fin.


But that doesn't make it free. It is easily confused: a tax deduction doesn't mean the government is paying the entire cost, they are paying the part of the cost equal to your tax rate. A tax deductible item when you're at the 30% tax rate means you still get to pay 70% of the cost.

Stoneleigh weighs in this weekend: Renewable Energy: The Vision And A Dose Of Reality, why renewables won't save society as we know it:

And turning around the world’s fossil-fuel-based energy system is a truly gargantuan task. That system now has an annual throughput of more than 7 billion metric tons of hard coal and lignite, about 4 billion metric tons of crude oil, and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. And its infrastructure—coal mines, oil and gas fields, refineries, pipelines, trains, trucks, tankers, filling stations, power plants, transformers, transmission and distribution lines, and hundreds of millions of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil engines—constitutes the costliest and most extensive set of installations, networks, and machines that the world has ever built, one that has taken generations and tens of trillions of dollars to put in place.

It is impossible to displace this supersystem in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.

Even if we were not facing a long period of financial crisis and economic contraction, it would not be possible to engineer such a rapid change. In a contractionary context, it is simply inconceivable. The necessary funds will not be available, and in the coming period of deleveraging, deflation and economic depression, much-reduced demand will not justify investment. Demand is not what we want, but what we can pay for...

It's a rather long, comprehensive, point-by-point explanation of an overwhelming set of predicaments, and quite depressing for those who think we can, under any circumstances, transition while maintaining any semblance to our current civilization. It took centuries to set this trap for ourselves, and any means of extracting ourselves were squandered decades ago. A fine read on a not-so-fine Sunday.

I fundamentally disagree.

It will be difficult, but quite doable - at least to the 80% renewable mark.

One example - Existing railroads can be expanded (put back second track torn up in 1960s) and electrified. Electrification - $50 to $80 billion. Expansion (depending on how much) - $80 to $200 billion. All investments last 40 to 100+ years.

Shift freight from truck to rail - trade 20 BTUs of refined diesel for 1 BTU of renewable electricity.

Paid for by reducing the $101 billion subsidy for cheap gasoline & diesel in the USA (2010 - more today).

Build out Urban Rail and TOD - I am working with one of the original planners (1962-64) of the Washington DC Metro on a Phase II. Ridership 2.5x to 3x today. Expansion should make on operating profit to break even.


The USA is 5.75x larger than France.

France is building 1,500 km of new tram lines in almost every town of 100,000 & larger for 22 billion euros - 2010 to 2020. Many examples at


Paris is going to double their Metro - +200 km (125 miles), 2 million more daily riders - from 2013 to 2025 for 21 billion euros (Note: about 15% has slipped to "after 2025" but six tunnel boring machines are on order).

Take above, convert euros to $, multiply by 5.75 plus an adjustment factor since Americans are just not as good as French bureaucrats. Affordable IMO (see $101 billion/year).

Making bicycling safer & easier is affordable in almost every case.

I could go on.

Best Hopes,


The USA is 5.75x larger than France.

Eh? USA = 3,618,000 mi2, France = 211,000 mi2

So USA is over 17x larger than France.

Even discounting AK & HA, contiguous 48 states are 2,997,000 mi2, so 14x larger than France.

Edit - Oh, I see you were referring to pop. Fair enough. But geography (less concentrated pop) would have an effect on this comparison, I'd posit...

Most of the needed transport is in the more densely populated regions. Solving the post-oil transport needs of rural areas is a different challenge, and one which is somewhat discussed here in Vermont for example. I expect that rural living will become a more stationary and isolated experience than it has been in the last few decades. It may be not as isolated as it was before the oil age, though, if we can keep some sort of electronic communications going. But the days of living in the country and working in the city, with a long commute, are drawing to a close.

Thanks for linking this. I had thought to, but realized that would likely be counterproductive, as they say.

Depressing? Not to worry. There's drugs for that. May make you suicidal, but that's the real cure, right? (c;

Synergistically, Dave Cohen's Decline of Empire blog has a dandy riff on Schopenhauer today:

"However, I was prompted to write this post when I ran across an article called Schopenhauer’s Extreme Self-Help for Pessimists. I thought that article was very funny in a dark kind of way, but for those of you who yearn for something serious, I promise you this post does have a point, although some of you will think me extremely arrogant for making it. Let's take that potential criticism off the table right now. I am extremely arrogant, case closed."

I love it!

but then, I would...


I fundamentally agree with Nicole Foss and disagree with Alan.

For starters, Alan explains how electrified rail can replace trucks. That transition would take decades, if possible, but he completely ignores Nicole's primary point, the grid. Alan does not even try to explain how the grid could be completely run with renewable energy. So it is really disingenuous to say you disagree with her without even attempting to explain why you disagree. From Nicole's article, bold hers:

The goal of modern power systems is to balance supply and demand in real time over a whole AC grid, which is effectively a single enormous machine operating in synchrony. North America, for instance, is served by only four grids - the east, the west, Texas and Quebec. System operators, who have little or no control over demand, rely on being able to control sources of supply in order to achieve the necessary balance and maintain the stability of the system.

If anyone will argue that Nicole's point is invalid they will have to address her point, not some other point of your choosing because you can make a much better argument there.

Ron P.

Exactly! While Nicole examines the entire worldwide energy system, Alan separates out one individual tiny piece in a few countries and says that transition can be done and therefore everything else can be done also. I tend to have major doubts about even the tiny piece Alan describes, therefore the rest truly is "simply inconceivable".

I could write a multi-essay on this (in fact I am - ASPO's next webinar)

Transport Beyond Oil
The Economic, National Security, Energy and Environmental Implications of Creating New Transportation Paradigms for the United States

I posted a sample here.

Best Hopes,


Transportation is just one small part of a huge worldwide system. It does not cover the non-transportation energy use of industry, homes, businesses, etc. Heating systems worldwide. None of the major energy used by all the major heavy manufacturing industries around the world. Think of the energy used just to mine, refine and mill raw steel stock worldwide.

Changing all these to electric use (even if possible) isn't going to happen in a decade or two. Where are the trillions upon trillions of dollars going to come from?

One, have more than one or two decades to completely change over to renewables. To claim otherwise is to erect a strawman.

And the trillions & trillions can come from one - increased efficiency and two - reduced consumption > increased investment.

The hard part is not in doing it, but wanting to do it. It is quite possible.



Tell it to Strindberg:

What an odd way to skew an argument.

Transportation is clearly a HUGE part of the worldwide energy picture, and when Electric Rail projects can be driven by electrical generation coming straight from renewables..

when Electric Rail projects can be driven by electrical generation coming straight from renewables..

Good grief Charlie Brown, that is really a leap of faith. That was what Nicole's article was all about. She made a very strong argument that the grid cannot be powered by renewables. Now you and Alan are simply taking that as a given and trying to turn it into a debate about whether rail can be run by electricity or not. Obviously that is a much easier argument to make than whether or not the grid can be run on renewables or not.

It cannot. My argument is here: Renewable Energy: The Vision And A Dose Of Reality

Refute that argument first, then tell us about electrified rail. That is what you and Alan have failed to do. And it appears that you are in no hurry to do so.

I just love it when people try to change an argument from one they cannot answer to one which they think they can. ;-)

Ron P.

Some time back I sketched out a 25 to 30 year transition to a 90% non-carbon grid with total costs for electricity about the same % of GDP as today#.

Some nuke required in low renewable areas (Florida is tough at night).

Last 10% is tough.

First 80% to 90% is quite doable IMO.


# About 40% lower electricity per capita x 60% higher prices. 0.6 x 1.6 ~= 1

PS: One secret is highly variable pricing. At some low price (in range of 3-4 cents/kWh) it is worth diverting electricity into chemical storage - say hydrolysis. And then use accumulated hydrogen to synthesize methanol or ammonia.

At some high price, set by policy (say 40 or 60 cents/kWh) FF are burned. One cent below that some stored chemical renewable (see above) might be burned.

A "Different" world with highly variable pricing, but no reason it could not work, and work well.

Average price perhaps 60% higher than today.

Highly variable pricing creates demand management. It also creates incentives to develop storage. But it does lead to something that in some respects doesn't feel like BAU, so for some it is dismissed as too radical.

But it does lead to something that in some respects doesn't feel like BAU, so for some it is dismissed as too radical.

I think that what we call 'BAU' is about as radical as can get!

# About 40% lower electricity per capita x 60% higher prices. 0.6 x 1.6 ~= 1

AlanfromBigEasy, that seems like a reasonable compromise between usage and cost.

Written by The Automatic Earth: Renewable Energy: The Vision And A Dose Of Reality, October 27, 2012:
It is impossible to displace this supersystem in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.

I agree that 2 decades from today is too fast. The period of such a transition is on the order of the lifetime of the fossil fuel powered plants, about 40 years. The current infrastructure is already replaced at this interval. It is simply a matter of replacing the existing equipment with renewable equipment as the old stuff wears out. TAE's reasoning is incorrect.

Darwinian, I remind you that my house has been powered by my off-grid photovoltaic system for the last 21 years. My property is essentially an electrical grid unto itself. It does work. If you are referring to generating all energy currently consumed using renewables, then the task is more daunting.

Written by TAE:
... the components of the infrastructure necessary for converting these forms of energy into usable electricity, and distributing that electricity to where it is needed, are not renewable.

This is a broad, sweeping statement presented as fact without proof. Her concerns about the supply of neodymium fail to acknowledge that it is not an essential material for making magnets. PV and wind are not low ERoEI power sources.

Written by TAE:
Renewables are ideally smaller-scale and distributed - not a good match for a central station model designed for one-way power flow from a few producers to many consumers.

Change is needed. Some people are terrified of change. They can watch Germany lead the way. The next article, "The European Dash for Off-Shore Wind - Germany," discusses Germany. The anecdotal discussion about problems and delays in constructing Germany's renewable energy system are insufficient to defeat the transformation. TAE does not mention that despite the stated issues Germany is continuing to add wind and PV systems. Because the anti-renewable energy arguments about Germany have been disproved by other posters in other Drum Beats, I am not going to repeat any more of those arguments here. The discussion about the problem at Hydro Aluminium in Hamburg in August 2012, does not identify the cause of the power fluctuation. TAE does not give a citation for the quotation, but an online search makes it appear to be from Spiegl Online, Energy Revolution Hiccups Grid Instability Has Industry Scrambling for Solutions, Catalina Schröder, 08/16/2012. This article also does not identify the source of the voltage fluctuation. Without this critical information, implying renewable energy is to blame is nothing more than anti-renewable energy propaganda.

Written by TAE:
It will never be possible to deliver what we consider business as usual, or anything remotely resembling it, on renewable energy alone.

She states it like an established fact, but she is using mere hyperbole. To make this a statement of fact, she must be able to answer my question that no one here at The Oil Drum has ever answered:

What is the minimum operating level of crude oil for modern society?

If the answer is zero, then we can convert to something else. If it is nonzero, then something will have to change which could be reduced population or standard of living. I can satisfy my residential electrical requirement with an off-grid PV system. I see no technical reason why long-haul freight transportation can not be shifted from aircraft and semi-trailer trucks traveling on Interstate highways to electrified rail powered by renewables as Alan Drake expounds. People at TOD have expounded about better building design, passive solar, insulation and heat pumps, to eliminate or reduce heating and cooling requirements for buildings.

There are many issues to be considered: resource depletion, fresh water, food, pollution, climate change, disease, war.... It is all a big maybe.

Understanding, as ever, that you are looking at my statement as if I said 'Electric Rail transport can be entirely powered by renewables which are supporting the whole grid' ..

I am saying that renewables can and DO provide a real transportation tool that we could be using far more than we have so far. I don't propose we will move ALL the tons we move today, or can generate ALL the watts we do today.. or even that one, 24/7 grid is a guarantee for us. But as Rocky Mountain Guy has shown us with Wind Powering the transit lines in Calgary, and as European streetcar systems are surely running watts that came from wind and solar..

The whole debunking of this thread is, as always based on the unspoken assumptions in the setup. These tools work and they could help. They could help people get through some tough times..

ALL the people? ALL the malls? ALL the Fast Food? - that discussion just gets tiresome and useless.

Well, seems to me that the whole shebang could do what I did and felt no pain doing - put in some solar and some thermal power, and a little storage, and take the grid or leave it as the situation allows. Here I am sitting pretty as the great storm approaches, with no fear of any grid downing. I am assuming it will go down, in fact. So i fire up my little wood eating generator to supplement my PV, and just go on in the gloom without any stress.

Same with a pretty big business I consult with. They have a huge roof, ideal for PV, and they actually make fuel driven generators, so that part is no problem, and as for storage, a very little goes a long way to keep everything happy all the time. So they could be doing just what I am, and take the grid or not as convenient, without any situation really needing it.

In other words, put lots of generators where the power is going, instead of just putting a few monsters here and there strapped together with a "single machine operating in synchrony". why bother?

Ahhh... but your perspective is skewed because you are rich. I was rich in the same way living on a mountain top for ten years. One often visitor declared it was like I had taken a vow of poverty... there was nothing but four thin walls, water jugs, batteries, solar panels, tools, parts, and dogs. There was want for nothing. A wood stove kept all warm and dry in the winter. Fetching wood and water really felt good... much better than sitting, turning a faucet, and flicking a switch. But the real test of wealth was sewage. There was a fully functional environment surrounding me. Anything flung in a high arc with a shovel to land far away in the scrub was gone, never to be found or sensed again.

The reason for the concentrated power distribution is to support the population density. Living in such an impoverished anti-Eden as a tall city apartment building means not having anywhere to put the simple solar for one or two nor having the freedom of wood... and the shovel trick is right out.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how renewable energy "replaces" fossil energy. It does so in a way that simply eliminates the need for the production of anything that can be easily understood as a "fuel" b/c most of the energy is sunlight and is directly consumed as heat.

For instance, buildings consume around a third of all of our energy, and depending on climate, 50-75% of this is for space heating and hot water. While converting sunlight to electrical energy is generally only about 12% efficient, doing so for direct conversion to heat is close to 60%, or five times the amount. But when I converted my home's water heater to a solar water heater and added south-facing windows and a solar air heater (and a great deal of insulation and caulk), I didn't need someone somewhere to "make" me some "renewable" fuel to reduce my fossil fuel consumption for these two requirements by 90%. The sun just comes and does the job.

People like Stoneleigh who make a critique of our transition to a sustainable economy still wearing the nonsensical economic eyeglasses of the past will of course cry failure, because no, it isn't possible. I've also reduced my driving "fuel" by 90% - again, not by creating vast amounts of renewable "fuel," but simply by moving from the suburbs to the city where I can bike, walk, and bus most of the time, and use the car only when I have to move something heavy. Has my quality of life plummeted by these 90% reductions? Absolutely not - it's much better than it was.

Try this - stop whining and learn how to do something useful.

Stephen Hren

"People like Stoneleigh who make a critique of our transition to a sustainable economy still wearing the nonsensical economic eyeglasses of the past will of course cry failure, because no, it isn't possible."

"...nonsensical economic eyeglasses", which see what is, relative to what could be and what we need to do. This is about changes which will necessarily have to compete for resources and capital/credit in an environment where the vast majority of resources and capital have already been over-allocated. and are in decline. It has little to do with a small minority who 'get it' and have been willing and able to begin a sensible transition. I'm all for trying, but have my doubts about convincing a critical number of the other 7+ billion humans, especially those who continue to benefit in some way from the status quo. It's a problem of scale, inertia, and undoing a culture which has, for generations, been totally invested in the mis-allocation of finite resources. I can't see how that can happen other than on a local/community level.

People are smart and creative; that's how we got out of caves and trees and into Boeing 787s. In analyzing a situation such as PO and any kind of transition to a different model it is important to keep that problem solving ability in mind. Instead of thinking in a binary "we either have fossil fuels or not" or "either the grid works or it doesn't" look at the issues a bit more nuanced. Small changes, like creating a reliable power steering pump in a car which is powered by electricity rather than a belt can have large consequences over time and across the world.
A lack of understanding of what EROEI really is (http://connectrandomdots.blogspot.com/2012/07/test-post.html) can lead to a wasting lots of time and resources pursuing the wrong goal. The energy problem is primarily political, not physical. If we had the political will to divert a significant part of our available resources, say 5 or 10/%, were willing to put in place a sensible energy tax and infrastructure tax the issue would be quite managable.
Individually, making the choice between going on a cruise or insulating one's house can have significant consequences for years. We can comfortably live well with a fraction of the current energy consumption should we choose to do so.
So Instead of reading TOD go fix that draft around your door.

So Instead of reading TOD go fix that draft around your door.

While many will say that I'm just pessimistic, to put it mildly, about us managing a transition to a fossil-fuel free BAU or even BAU-lite, I keep doing all those things. I'm building a solar-thermal heating system to add to our house and this week I'm also starting making insulated interior shutters for the windows. All sorts of little things add up in a very big way.
They enable me to make do with less just fine, not so much benefit to the transition to FF-free BAU. Sorry.

So Instead of reading TOD go fix that draft around your door.

Net energy decline solved by way of small nuanced changes? Hmm, maybe you should be reading TOD instead of fixing drafts, and maybe not just on weekends.

@Weekend Peak

If you think nuance and detail is in short supply at TOD, then you clearly haven't spent much time here. And if you think "the energy problem" is truly political than physical, well... I have some beachfront property in Kansas you might be interested in.

TODers have been beating the conservation drum for years. It's also true that we --at least in the developed world-- can stretch existing supplies quite a bit with a lot more of it and more efficiency in building/vehicle design, improvements to the electrical grid, more energy self sufficiency, and greater development of and use of mass transit. However, there's no escaping the limits of physical resources on a finite planet, especially when it comes to the draw down of non-renewable high EROEI deposits that the economy depends on being there in order to function. And there's the core problem of world overpopulation outstripping all resources --not just energy, but food, fresh water, mineral deposits, good soil, etc.-- and still growing at a rate of ~70 million per year.

Technology can never solve a fundamental problem of growth outstripping the planet's physical limits, and never will. As Einstein once said, "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them."

I've been posting here for perhaps 5 years or so and/but what I see is that the extremes on both side of the spectrum take the posting bandwidth. Frequently when more nuanced positions are taken or pointed out they are simply ignored.
Technology is a means to an end and it is a (political) choice as to what that end technology gets applied to. Take the oft-cited example of energy/resource taxation a la Daly; if this (political) choice were made resource consumption would likely decline significantly which would buy society more time to go to solar energy in all it's forms, and the reduce consumption of FFs. So yes, that is largely political, not a resource issue per se. It is just that voters don't elect people who make those types of choices. A society gets the leaders it deserves. Similarly with food. If we chose to eat primarily vegetarian a lot of problems would go away. But we choose not to. And yes, BAU is not sustainable.
Etc Etc.


It is just that voters don't elect people who make those types of choices. A society gets the leaders it deserves.

I can't argue with this, but it might help to ask *why* voters consistently make these kinds of choices? I think previous TOD posts have made a vlaiant effort to answer that question with such gems as "Are humans smarter than yeast?", etc. The fundamental problem appears to be that as a species, we are evolutionarily hard wired for maximum reproduction and maximizing consumption & material comfort, which inevitably leads to exponential population growth and consumption that oustrips the planet's finite resources.

How do we solve this problem? I don't know, but it certainly isn't a simple matter of politics, as though choosing one BAU/endless growth candidate or party over another will ever solve it (or represents a real "change"). Would it take a fundamental re-wiring of our DNA so our reptillian and limbic systems do not always override our neocortex? Could we re-wire ourselves so that selfishness, reproduction, greed, and short-term thinking at the expense of all else are not our prime objectives, swamping every other concern, such at achieving a sustainable population or building a just society? Can human beings ever be re-wired to become rational, altruistic macro long-term thinkers, who are satisfied to live with physical limits, shared resources, cooperating vs. competing with others, and having no more than their neighbors?

Given the current state of things, I am not very optimistic. A brief rundown of "reality" TV shows currently airing gives me "Flip that house", "The real housewives of (fill in city)", "The Apprentice", and so on... Provides a small window into the mind of the average consumer.

Are humans smarter than Yeast? A poster (Bob?) here used to have that question as his signature. He no longer posts (because he is fixing drafts around his door?) here unfortunately. I think that a huge part of being alive is to be more / have more than you have/are. Yeast doesn't stop multiplying because it is concerned about waste buildup or lack of sugar(input). It divides until it either drowns in its own waste or runs out of food. Or think of a tree. Does a tree stop growing because it is big enough? No, it keeps growing until it gets blown over or dies of some kind of disease.
Where we humans have the capability of being different from a tree or yeast is that we can make a choice whether to direct our innate desire to grow in either a quantitative or qualitative direction. So far we've been choosing the quantitative vector although Europe and Japan are veering more towards the qualitative side.
Gene Roddenberry had the right idea.


(and yes the "housewifes" shows make me sick but I realize they unfortunately somewhat reflect the ideal lifestyle for a large number of viewers)

While we may or may not be smarter than yeast, it appears that emotionally we are similar to the flatworm.

The Mood of a Worm

Garrison et al. and Beets et al. show that C. elegans, like other animals, expresses a neuropeptide related to oxytocin and vasopressin, key peptide hormones released by the neuroendocrine system of the human brain (see the figure). C. elegans uses this peptide to regulate behaviors similar to those modulated by oxytocin and vasopressin. Neuropeptides and other types of hormones are one of the three ways in which cells of the nervous system communicate with one another and with other tissues, the others being chemical synapses and gap junctions (electrical synapses). Oxytocin and vasopressin, similar short peptides of nine amino acids, are secreted by neurons in the hypothalamus and released into the blood stream and central nervous system. Although both have widespread effects, oxytocin regulates primarily sexual and reproductive behavior, whereas vasopressin is involved in homeostatic regulation of water balance, with effects on the kidneys, vascular system, feelings of thirst, and drinking behavior.

Garrison et al. demonstrate that similar to oxytocin, the C. elegans peptide, named nematocin, is required for normal sexual behaviors by the male. Mutant males lacking nematocin explored their environment in search of mates less frequently than wild-type males. When mutant males encountered a mating partner, they initiated copulation more slowly and executed poorly. This diffuse set of defects led the authors to speculate that nematocin primes a variety of neural circuits to stimulate an overall appetitive behavioral drive. Beets et al. show that nematocin allows worms to modify their behavior in light of recent experience. Normally, worms are attracted to salt. But if they experience salt in the absence of food, they quickly learn to avoid it. The authors observed that nematocin-deficient worms cannot do this. Function in salt attraction is reminiscent of vasopressin's role in water balance. A role for nematocin in memory of experience in the worm is similar to the roles of both oxytocin and vasopressin in establishing memory in parental, pair-bonding, and social settings in mammals

Funny. Not so surprising though given that we all crawled out of the same ocean.


Similarly with food. If we chose to eat primarily vegetarian a lot of problems would go away. But we choose not to.

Not sold on this one. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers for most of our evolution, and in many respects a grain-based diet was a physiological disaster for human beings --bringing on health problems such as diabetes, obesity, malnutrition (due to excessive consumption of inexpensive breads/grains, etc. vs. nutrient-rich vegetables & protein) This has only gotten worse over recent centuries, as sugar in all its forms (especially HFCS) and gluten have become inexpensive staples and routine food additives. We are hard-wired for a diet rich in protein and natural fats, as well as vegetables, fruits and nuts. A Paleo or Atkins-style diet would be a far better choice for our health. Of course, this is not at all possible on a planet with 7 billion+ humans. Yet another reason to drastically reduce our numbers, IMHO.

My guess is that if you replace grain production as an intermediate product as is done now and revert to the older wheat strains (which are less productive but a whole lot better for you) and reduce the quantity of meat we eat now (note I didn't advocate a no-meat diet) on balance we'd be better off. And all the artificial stuff we have in our diet now is a matter of (political) choice. We could easily choose to not allow this in our diet, but society chooses BAU as will be demonstrated once again in a 2 weeks or so when the US is voting for leadership. The funny thing as an outsider is that really there is no significant difference between the candidates - both represent the Capitalist Party, a party which has outlived its usefulness yet you vote, no matter for whom, and thereby enable the status quo.


The funny thing as an outsider is that really there is no significant difference between the candidates - both represent the Capitalist Party, a party which has outlived its usefulness yet you vote, no matter for whom, and thereby enable the status quo.

Agreed. You actually *can* vote for a third party candidate even in the U.S. (Green, Libertarian or even, *gasp*, a socialist!) in those cases where non-R/D candidates qualified with enough votes to be on the ballot. However, most Americans see voting your conscience as "throwing your vote away" and will regard you as a fool or worse. I still get attacked for voting for Nader in 2000 as somehow helping to get Bush elected. I'm from CA, where 100% of the electoral college votes went to Gore anyway, so this is inaccurate as well as irrelevant, but I still feel the hate from angry Democrats nonetheless.

Right. Political. Had a conversation with a highly skilled technician a few days ago, listening to his lament that "Gotta get on to something real insteada this space stuff- see that part there, it cost more than my house, and I can pick it up with one hand."

What I see is a huge backlog of enthusiasm and talent just chomping at the bit and pawing the ground to get at the energy situation- with nothing but nothing doing from the commander in chief- any of them.

I think that the awareness that earth, and the resources contained in it, are in fact finite is something more and more people get their head around.
When you look at the development of windparks at the moment what you see is that it is the shortsightedness of decision makers both politically and financially which are the roadblock to rapid expansion. It is not the technology or the willingness of equity holders to get very low returns. Politicians are in the pockets of FF extractors and banks are hamstrung by low quality balance sheets and a lack of clear vision by government qua policy.
(in other words, it is not the lack of solutions, it is the lack of infrastructure in the larger sense ( political, regulatory) which is the holdup)

Fixed (at least greatly diminished) the draft around the door.

People like Stoneleigh who make a critique of our transition to a sustainable economy still wearing the nonsensical economic eyeglasses of the past will of course cry failure, because no, it isn't possible.

I think that misses the point entirely. I don't think people like Stoneleigh are saying that a transition to a sustainable economy is impossible. They are just being realistic in that they acknowledge that any attempt at maintaining BAU with or without renewables is doomed to failure. And yes, whining is pointless!

While I absolutely respect Stoneleigh's comprehension of the US energy system and grid infrastructure, I think there are mitigating factors that improve our ability to move to renewables, primarily what wildly squandering energy gluttons Americans are. Compared to European countries with as high or higher standard of living (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany) we use almost twice the energy per capita, we have 40% more motor vehicles per capita (we have more cars than licensed drivers), and we live in 2.3 times more square feet per person than the average European.

For the first six months of 2012 Germany supplied 25% of their energy with renewables, half of which was wind and solar. If the US dropped its energy usage by half(entirely doable without a drop in standard of living) then there is a heck of a lot less renewable infrastructure that needs to be built out.

Over the last ten years our family of five has dropped our electricity usage by half (to half of the average American household use), our VMT by half, and our natural gas usage by 3/4ths. It actually wasn't all that hard. We kept the same house, same square footage, invested in some technology and made some behavior changes. (We also installed solar PV and now produce 3/4ths of the electricity we use each year.) We jettisoned our van, kept our Prius, walked and biked and took public transit a lot, and carpooled prodigiously. We did not buy cars for our teenagers, we kept the house between 61 and 65 degrees in the winter, and we learned to wear sweaters and slippers. (We also installed solar hot water, installed LEDs, dealt with vampire power loads, insulated and sealed our drafty house, and improved the efficiency of our heating system.) I would say overall our quality of life has improved while our energy consumption has dropped by more than 65%.

I am certainly not saying business as usual can continue. (And I entirely agree upgrading the US electrical grid is of extreme importance.) But over the next 3 to 7 years, of necessity Americans will move closer to jobs and goods/services, will take a lot more mass transit, will live in much less square footage, will have fewer cars, and will no longer have second refrigerators keeping a six-pack of soda cold. Teens will bike rather than drive themselves to school, the interstates will not be full of monster RV's in the summer, stores will stop blasting air conditioning out of open shop doors, and ceiling fans will again become a reasonable way to keep cool except for the hottest days. A carbon fee and dividend program would go a long way towards jump-starting this process, but it is all likely to happen nonetheless.

"For the first six months of 2012 Germany supplied 25% of their energy with renewables, half of which was wind and solar."

Germany supplied 25% of their electric energy with renewables, half of which was wind and solar. This does not include the non-electric energy used for any vehicles, any heating using oil or gas, any use of coal in industry. Nowhere near 25% of all energy, for that to be true Germany would use no oil, gas or coal for anything except generating electricity.

Fair enough. In 2009 (latest energy mix figures I could find) energy usage in Germany broke down to about 48% electricity (from brown coal, black coal, nuclear, natural gas and renewables) and 52% oil and natural gas (not used in electricity). However, since then Germany has dropped its oil consumption by a few percent and its natural gas consumption by over 13%, stayed even on coal, raised renewables and dropped on nuclear. I would guess slightly more than half of its energy consumption is via electricity at this point. I am also wondering how solar hot water (which is very popular in Germany) gets counted in the mix. I have a system installed on my roof, but it all depends on how much hot water I use as to how much "renewable"energy is created.

This last summer taking a train from Amsterdam to Berlin (all on a latitude above the US/Canadian border) I was absolutely amazed by how much solar PV and how many windmills I saw installed. Absolutely could not believe it, and I live in San Francisco where 12% of my neighbors have PV, and in California, home to some of the largest wind farms in the country.

I agree that there are places where an amazing amount of renewables have been installed. However you have to remember that this initial conversion to renewables is the easy part, just the low-hanging fruit. Many take this first part and say, "See? the rest will be easy!". Well, it won't. It'll be harder, often lots harder (and much more expensive) because the easy stuff has already been done.

Think about it this way, you are given a whole neighborhood of older poorly insulated houses in Northern New York that has Oil Furnace, Electric cooking, Oil or Electric Water Heater to make the transition to non-ff. You start by changing out all the light bulbs and weatherizing the houses. Great improvement although you've already gone beyond what some of the residents can afford. Now you're starting to talk about New Refrigerators, Heat Pumps, Heat Pump Water Heaters, PV, Solar Thermal Heat, etc. You're well beyond the ability of most of the residents to afford, even if they wanted to. The ones that can't afford it won't do it. The ones that don't want to divert funds from their cell phones/TV/etc. to make payments wont do it. The ones that have the cash socked away probably will do it, it all depends... Then there is a poor neighborhood next door that can't afford to do anything...

It's easy to get started and get the first 10%, the next 10% is much harder and so on...

So far I don't see a reduction of ff use at all. Not even a drop in the rate of increase of CO2 emissions, that's accelerating. Note that what happens in one country or another isn't of much importance if the global number is still increasing, and it is.

The really low fruit is the waste. megatons of it, My friends use at least 10 times as much electricity as I do, and aren't a bit happier for it. Problem is, they don't think about it, and don't have the background to think about it even if they thought about thinking about it.

Way to make real progress- jack up the price of ff to the point where they DO think about it. No further education req'd. They know how to think about $ already.

You're so right. I wish we could get the price of ff up a lot higher but the entire political system is focused on keeping it as low as possible. It's climbing even though they don't what it to, though. I know what you mean about your friends and waste, the relationship between my electric use and my friends is pretty much the same, I have got an off-grid PV system so that makes it required that I keep usage low, though.

Using 10 year old laptop for Internet that's asleep when I'm not at it VS high power desktop PC that's left on 24HR/day, for example. No TV VS big TV on >12HR/day. Lights on only in the room where people are. Well insulated house at 62-65F in the winter, that's what a vest or sweater is for. Of course sometimes the wood stove gets fired up a bit too high and then 80 feels like it's 100! I really don't like to waste wood either.

Education required. Most people who want to reduce their use are nearly clueless about how to go about it. Remember how they think they are doing a great job if they turn off unneeded lights and cellphone chargers, but then will think nothing of throwing a single item into the electric dryer for an hour! Clueless-ness about energy consumption is more widespread than even innumeracy. Most of the guys I work with, who write technical engineering software, don't make much of an idea about the relative consumption of different appliances.

One of the reasons conservation gets such rotten PR, is that to the average Joe, it means freezing in the dark. I think of it as the morality-tale applied to energy use: the only way to use less is suffer more. The thought that you can make a huge difference by using it smarter feels like cheating.

Yep. Single item in dryer. Saw it with my own eyes at family reunion, committed by my very intelligent brother who has never given a thought to energy, and when I talk about it, waits politely until he perceives that I have quit moving my mouth. However, he does think about money, since in his case, mere intelligence didn't get him much of it.

If my dear sister had said, "don't do that, it costs too much", he would have heard her. But she would never say that, because she did get a very great deal of it (money), and so never thinks of energy for that reason. That makes two- reasons, that is.

Doom, in three different flavors.

Q- what is worse, ignorance or apathy?
A- I don't know and I don't care.

It really depends upon the timeframe. Those furnaces and refrigerators won't last forever. The best time to replace is often when they wear out. That wouldn't fit the two decade transition timeframe, but it could easily fit into a 50year transition timeframe. If our only concern is FF availability and cost (and not a crash getoff program because we realize the climate emergency is that serious), then if we are aggressive in the early years, we ought to be able to ride down the backside of the production curves. Now personally I hope we soon have that come-to-Jesus moment climate wise, but either way an aggressive renewables plus conservation push is the most sensible policy for the next decade or two at least.

Around 11% (1450 PJ) of Germany's primary energy (13500 PJ) was reneable at the end of 2011. Of the primary energy only around 1005 PJ (8%) are used non-energetically.

35%(!) of the German primary energy goes into heating of buildings and water (4500 PJ), so there is a huge potential to reach around 20% reneables of primary energy simply by improving the insolation level of our buildings from an avarage of 18 kwh/m^2 to 5 kwh/m^2 and using heat pumps (4500 PJ ->400 PJ). However, this conversion will take at least 40 years.

Another 35% are oil products, at least half of it as fuels, therefore, better mileage of cars or moderate reduction of car usage could easily provide 5% higher percentage of reneable primary energy.

With 1.5 % annual net gain of renewable electricity production Germany will very likely reach 40% reneable electricity around 2020, the renewable share of primary energy could then be around ~15%. However, the goal of 50% green primary energy for 2050 will hardly be met IMHO, as the replacement/reduction of ICE vehicles stalls.

Thanks, Taomom, well put.

I think the blanket statements that trigger all the chest-thumping are just not the way to go into an issue. It's like they're TV writers, knowing that they have to create a big dramatic conflict and a winner and a loser in order to have their plots work in the formula.

Who cares what is or isn't THE answer, anyway? What reasonable person really would waste their time worrying whether there even is such a thing? There are choices and investments to make, there are tools and techniques to pick between.

EDIT: It sure seems like the 'WE CAN'T DO THIS, IT JUST WON'T WORK!!' arguments are people who are really worried that any kind of positive direction is going to put us all off our guards, and let us think that our problems are over. The Fervent Cries against BAU keep presupposing that anyone trying to employ these tools is really insisting that we can, must and will keep everything Status Quo.. fear is the mind-killer..

One of the things I appreciate about engineering (and I know there are lots of engineer-types on TOD!) is the practical, commonsense ability to take overwhelmingly large problems, cut them into smaller doable chunks, and then attack each chunk methodically.

I realize if there is a tsunami coming there is no sense sandbagging one's house, and that that's how those the most hopeless about our situation see it.
But maybe what we face isn't a tsunami; maybe there are better ways to cope than to despair prematurely.

Maybe instead we, as a species, can retrench, cut back our energy use for a couple decades until we can produce it all with renewables, stabilize and then slowly reduce our population over the next century, and create an economy that doesn't consume resources at a faster pace than the earth produces them or emit pollution at a faster rate than the planet can absorb it. Though I know given current reality living in balance with our environment seems far-fetched, but still it is not absolutely impossible that a new kind of consciousness will kick in, that humanity will find a path to at least some kind of viable, non-grotesque future. What we can do now is give our children and grandchild time to find that future.

In any event, if we continue to wring our hands and do nothing, the consequences are beyond awful. Maybe we still have a small window of time to avert catastrophe, maybe we don't. I vote on making the effort and trying. Even if futile, it is an act of love.


very well said, sums up my take, better than I could have presented it. Thanks.


You are being far far too reasonable. Maybe you don't live in the US. Here our politics/culture/plutocrat-driven media insure we can't be reasonable about such things. Any tendency towards taking a longterm view is viewed as evidence of communist (or worse) tendencies. And so while we can make sensible changes in our own lives, we have scant to no luck changing the course of society in general. Hence the great pessimism.

If even 10-20% of people out there thought like you and the rest of those here on TOD that are telling about your activities, I'd feel very different about things. You are the ones that are doing what would work! I'm NOT saying that you shouldn't be doing anything!

However, when I look at the world outside my door, I have a very different feeling. Driveways filled with Power Boats, massive pickups that just take one person to work at the local mini-mart or burger joint, kids roaring around on ATV's and if anything is said about it, "Socialist, Communist!" The world out there is very different than here on TOD where people think about these things.

I was at the parking lot of Wally-World a few days ago, at the Auto Supply store, this young woman, maybe 25 years old, had badly misjudged a turn in the parking lot and really chewed up a compact car with her lifted 4X4 custom pickup. Probably cost $40,000 or more. She was on the cell phone crying to her boyfriend how she'd ruined her truck, what am I going to do? Not a word about what do I tell the person who comes out and finds their car unusable. It's all about ME, what can I get, how much MORE can I get?! These people aren't going to get it!

Well, while I do appreciate the discouragement to some degree, I really can't be worried about this bulk of people who don't get it. There are lots who are followers, or who are going nowhere..

What happens or doesn't isn't homogeneous and dependent on them or some consensus amongst all of us. You can't let the knuckleheads distract you from what needs to be done.. they've always been around and are simply deadweight in the realm of finding necessary changes.

You won't find it at Wall Mart.. and such is why what we're talking about here ISN'T part of some 'maintaining BAU fantasy'. Expecting followers to become leaders isn't going to create a picture of what is possible.

All they need to do is follow..

Oh, I don't let it distract me from doing things myself! I'm always working on things here. I know you've seen the pictures of the electric tractor and tiller but I've always got projects going. Now the tractor has a 3600 watt inverter so I can power the tiller or other tools from it out in the garden, away from the house and it's PV and inverter. (We're now on 6 acres so I'd need a looong cord.) From time to time I have frivolous projects like video cameras in birdhouses that I have available on the internet for friends to watch the eggs hatching. It's great when I can do this with a power budget of about 5 watts.

I'm always showing my alternative energy and energy reduction projects to anyone who will look, I just don't let myself get fooled into thinking that I'm going to make any difference to the big picture. Until the people at Wal-Mart DO get it, there won't be any change. They elect the leaders. At best I will help someone else find a way to help themselves through the mess that's coming. And it's going to be a big mess...

And, she didn't acquire that attitude in a vacuum. The idea that the only legitimate reason for doing anything is personal greed -all other motives are subversive, is being actively promoted.


I agree that the lack of awareness of most people of the impending energy plateau (starting with liquid fuels, with coal and natural gas likely to follow within a decade or two) is frustrating. As is the general failure to recognize climate change and the limits to growth.

As we begin to hit these limits, prices will rise and maybe then more people will begin to think about energy and start to change their behavior. Will the transition be smooth? I doubt it. Possible? I am hopeful.


"Renewable Energy: The Vision And A Dose Of Reality", by Stoneleigh seems too pessimistic.

We don't need to rely on renewables to save society as we know it. There is quite a lot of fossil fuel left for a few decades and this can be augmented by nuclear energy.

In the developed world, the energy requirements can be reduced significantly through conservation and efficiency measures.

Only a part of society must be saved. The ratio of people consuming high energy per capita to people consuming low energy per capita can be decreased without jeopardizing society's ability to progress. This will also reduce energy demands proportionately.

The reengineering of economies can occur quite rapidly. The industrialization of Japan between 1870 and 1905, the industrialization of the USSR between 1920 and 1040, and the revival of German industry in the 1930s are all examples of rapid change.

"The reengineering of economies can occur quite rapidly."

The examples you give occurred during a period of increasing surplus energy and plentiful industrial resources (though Japan and Germany ultimately went to war over resources). Most of the world's great oil fields either hadn't been discovered, exploited or depleted. In 1940, world population was less than a third of today. The global economy was still mostly on a gold standard. Two world wars and a great depression occurred during this non-nuclear timeframe. Suburbs were generally in the future, and there was no just-in-time global supply system as it exists today. IMO, on average, things were less efficient, less leveraged, but more resilient. I could go on, but things have changed a lot and are far more complex.

All three transitions were accomplished with much lower per capita energy usage than currently. None of them depended on oil, although Germany and USSR exploited coal to a greater extent. Japan had very meager energy resources, and only gained more abundant coal when Manchuria was occupied. I don't think they used gold currency internally to their systems, even if it was still used externally -- and it was an impediment to Germany. Wars and depressions galvanize political organization and action. Suburbs could be in the past. The information collection, processing and analysis tools are available to inform, organize, command and control the complexity of modern economies and societies. A hallmark of just-in-time is a sophisticated understanding and management of the supply chain.

That system now has an annual throughput of more than 7 billion metric tons of hard coal and lignite, about 4 billion metric tons of crude oil, and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. And its infrastructure—coal mines, oil and gas fields, refineries, pipelines, trains, trucks, tankers, filling stations, power plants, transformers, transmission and distribution lines, and hundreds of millions of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil engines—constitutes the costliest and most extensive set of installations, networks, and machines that the world has ever built, one that has taken generations and tens of trillions of dollars to put in place.

As far as I can tell there isn't anything on the drawing board that has even the remotest chance of saving this system and quite frankly I'm not sure that is what we should be trying to do even if we could. Though if any humans do survive, being an archaeologist or an anthropologist 5000 years from now trying to make sense of this era in human history should be quite a fascinating endeavor.

Though living through the next hundred years or so might not be all that pleasant for the vast majority.

Japan's JX to shut oil refinery operation in Muroran


The Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Plants are located just 18 miles south of Wilmington, DE, built on an artificial island up in the part of Delaware Bay where the bay narrows. These plants date from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Google Satellite maps show some dry cask spent fuel storage there but chances are there is still some in the spent fuel pools and the reactors are operating in the image, based on steam coming from the cooling tower.

Sandy's storm track is coming pretty close to these plants, not to mention Calvert Cliffs to the NE. I'm wondering about the readiness of these aging plants for loss of power and emergency generator capacity and wondering if we might have our own Fukushima scenario on our hands in a few days.

Anyone near there have more information on this? How vulnerable are these plants to a storm surge? Especially since they are in the narrower part of the bay?

Oyster Creek and Hope Creek are GE BWRs. Salem 1 & 2 are Westinghouse PWRs. Oyster Creek is 23 feet above sea level, so it should be above any surge from Sandy.

Oldest US nuclear reactor: a 'disaster' in waiting?

I couldn't find any elevation data for the others.

I found one site that says its only 9 feet. If the storm surge is 14-15 feet, much of the site will be underwater. Yikes!!!!!

Here it shows the altitude of the Heliport as 19 feet. My topo map shows the plant at 18-20 feet. At the south end of the plant the land quickly drops off to almost sea level within a few yards, well before it hits the water.

Oyster Creek Google Map Link


That is the Salem and Hope plants, not Oyster Creek.

[edit] I misread

Google Map Link:
Hope Creek/Salem
My topo map shows at 10 feet.

This is possibly going to be a scary location...


is this 9-10 feet AMSL? If so that is +/- tides and it's supposed to be high tide at about the highest of high tide. That makes it even worse!

Remember that you want to be above surge + waves and I have no idea what waves may be like there.


i haint ben posting here for quite a spell. so i thought i wood jump down the memory hole about bug out bags and natural, civil and technological emergencies. i suspect that hurricane sandy may just well fit all of the above.

iffen i wuz a survivorlist or a prepper or or some sort doomsday prophet i wood be testing my mettle. i wood grab my bug out bag and bug out. even the goobermints are saying there is the likelyhood of power outages for many days. many supermarkets are low or out of bottled water and batteries.

the one i visited at 6 pm sunday, the 28th wuz out of eggs also. when the roads get flooded how are deliveries to be made? how will workers get to the factories to make everything. i myself intend to sit this one out.

bug outers have had fair warning. shouldnt they all be bugging out? where to? oklahoma, nebraska, texas, colorado? sandy is 800 miles wide and affecting most of the eastern seaboard. all preppers should have bugged out. yet i have heard of none leaving. what if 3 atomic energy plants go off line or worse? what if food becomes scarce? cant pump gas if there aint no electric.

which brings to the point of an engineered collapse of financial markets or atomic warfare. the man in the street aint gonna get a headz up on that until it's too late. iffen you haint bugged out yet, you aint never gonna.

just saying.

in the past i have posted many times about titan, a moon of saturn. it has lakes of hydrocarbons. now there is talk of sending a boat there to sail around. i mentioned how a huge space ship shaped like an oil drum can go to titan and lower a hose to suck up all that juice. maybe a giant bucket can be lowered down to scoop up all that energy. don think it will happen? think again.

closer to home is the billion dollar mars SUV. now, viking discovered life on mars in the 1970's. career nasa planetary scientists wanted to secure retirement pensions so they sort of created controversy over the results. i say the new mars SUV will clinch life on mars. methane has been detected from orbit. i bet we send another giant space ship shaped like an oil drum to mars to get that juice also.

it has ben mentioned many times that civilization on earth based on the uhmerikan lifestyle needs 3 earths of resources to maintain it. well, here we go. it's time for us techno monkeys to go out to these other worlds and get it.

otherwise, it's back to the stone age flinging poo at each other.

i wish DARPA wood hurry up with the 100 yeer star ship. we should give all members of congress and the federal reserve and wall street one way tickets on that trip, PRONTO!

what say you to that?

Singapore Airlines Ltd. will end non-stop services to New York’s Newark Airport and Los Angeles, the world’s longest commercial flights, next year because of rising fuel prices and slower demand for intercontinental trips.

Another sign of the changes... No space shuttle, not Concord, now shorter longest flights.