Drumbeat: February 2, 2013

Gas price hikes don't boost smaller car sales

Sales of some of the smallest cars barely budged or fell last month despite the steady rise in gas prices.

It could be a sign that one of the axioms of the car business may be weakening: sales of tiny cars rise in tandem with driver angst at the pump.

Oil Completes Longest Run of Weekly Gains Since 2004

Oil capped the longest stretch of weekly advances in more than eight years after reports showed that U.S. hiring and manufacturing expanded last month.

Futures climbed 0.3 percent after the Labor Department said payrolls rose 157,000 in January and the Institute for Supply Management’s U.S. factory index reached a nine-month high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1 percent. Brent oil’s premium to crude traded in New York widened because of limits on a pipeline linking the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

Europe Gasoline, Gasoil Rise to Three-Month Highs: Oil Products

European gasoline barges rose for a 12th day to the highest level in more than three months. Gasoil futures advanced to the highest since October.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will permanently halt gasoline and diesel production at its Hamburg oil refinery in Germany at the end of March as the company converts part of the site into storage facilities. OAO Lukoil extinguished a fire at its Ploiesti refinery in Romania.

TNK-BP pulls Russia's Jan oil output down

(Reuters) - Lower output from TNK-BP's mature fields led to an overall decrease in Russia's crude oil production, the world's largest, which edged down 0.1 percent in January, Energy Ministry data showed on Saturday.

Russia's oil output fell to 10.47 million barrels per day last month from 10.48 million bpd in December, marking a second monthly fall in a row after it reached a post-Soviet record high of 10.50 million bpd in November.

Ethanol Weakens Against Gasoline on Ample Supply, Lower Demand

Ethanol weakened against gasoline on concern demand isn’t strong enough to cut a glut of the biofuel.

The spread widened 1.68 cents a gallon to 58.46 cents after a Jan. 25 Energy Information Administration report showed stockpiles climbed to a six-week high even as production plunged to the lowest level since the Energy Department’s statistical arm began tracking weekly data in June 2010.

Diesel prices to be hiked 40-50 paise every month, Veerappa Moily says

NEW DELHI: Diesel prices will be hiked by 40-50 paise per litre every month till losses on the nation's most used fuel are completely wiped out, oil minister M Veerappa Moily said today.

"Until further orders, oil marketing companies can increase it (diesel price) by 40-50 paise (per litre) every month," he told reporters here.

The government had on January 17 decided to move towards deregulating or freeing diesel prices from state control and gave powers to state-owned oil firms to raise prices in small measures every month till all of their losses are wiped out.

Lyondell Lightening Crude at Houston With Long Eye on Canada

LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB) is lightening the crude slate at its 265,000-barrel-a-day Houston refinery and has a long-term vision of running more heavy Canadian crude there, Chief Executive Officer Jim Gallogly said.

The refinery will work on the smaller of its two crude units during a planned turnaround this quarter to allow it to run more domestic light, sweet crude, Gallogly said in a conference call.

Alaska January Crude Output Down 7.9 Percent From Year Earlier

Oil production from Alaska’s North Slope dropped 7.9 percent in January from a year earlier as output from wells declined and new ones weren’t added.

Production averaged 576,959 barrels a day last month, down from 626,155 in January 2012, the state tax division said on its website. December output was 582,150 barrels a day.

Accident suspected in deadly Pemex blast in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — With rescue operations winding down, the head of Mexico's oil monopoly suggested Friday that a huge explosion that claimed at least 33 lives at the company's headquarters was a calamitous industrial accident.

If confirmed, it would be a scathing indictment of the ability of the giant petroleum exporter to protect, operate and inspect its facilities, experts said. Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has a long history of lax security, shoddy maintenance, neglected infrastructure, corruption and deadly accidents, as well as incidents of deliberate sabotage.

Asia to deepen Iran oil cuts as sanctions ‘bite’

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (RTRS): Iran’s crude exports to its biggest customer, Asia, fell by a quarter in 2012 and shipments this year are expected to drop by at least 12 percent under US sanctions pressure, but ample alternative supplies will keep refiners flush with oil.

Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

(Reuters) - Iran's crude oil exports in December leapt to their highest level since European Union sanctions took effect last July, analysts and shipping sources said, as strong Chinese demand and tanker fleet expansion helped the OPEC member dodge sanctions.

Exports rose to around 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, according to two industry sources and shipping and customs data compiled by Reuters on a country-by-country basis and corroborated by other sources and consultants.

Biden raises possibility of direct U.S.-Iran talks

MUNICH (Reuters) - The United States is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

Egypt Clashes Near Palace Imperil Accord to End Violence

Egypt’s premier urged protesters to adhere to a cross-party accord on ending violence, after at least one person died during clashes outside President Mohamed Mursi’s palace.

A day after the opposition and Islamists signed the pact, demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at the palace walls late into the night, while security forces countered with tear gas and water cannons. One 23-year-old man was killed, according to the Health Ministry. The state-run website Ahram Online said he died of gunshot wounds to the neck and chest.

Suez Canal Seen Kept Open by Army as Ship Agent Suspends Service

Egypt’s army is maintaining shipping services through the Suez Canal, which handles about 8 percent of world trade, amid unrest that’s suspended some port services, Inchcape Shipping Services, a global maritime agent said.

Saudi Prince Muqrin Is Named Second Deputy Prime Minister

Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a special adviser to King Abdullah and Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, was appointed second deputy prime minister, potentially placing him second in line to the throne.

Muqrin, the king’s younger half-brother born in 1945, was educated in Britain and the U.S. His appointment by royal decree comes amid speculation over succession in the world’s largest oil exporter where the king, who will turn 90 next year, has had recent operations, including back surgery in November.

The 'Silent Peak Oil Trade' That Could Be Setting Investors Up For A Nasty Surprise

Many investors are fascinated by Francisco Blanche's view that WTI could fall to $50/barrel in coming years. A strong dollar-weak commodity backdrop is seen as less helpful for EM.

We think the "peak oil" theme has played itself out convincingly across many equity markets and sectors in recent quarters (all the big outperformance in recent quarters has come from countries (e.g. Japan, peripheral Europe, India, Turkey) and sectors (e.g. consumer discretionary, banks) that do well when oil prices fall. This also suggests that the combo of rising yields and rising oil prices this year would be a big negative surprise to many.

Alberta picks former oil lobby head as Washington envoy

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta on Friday appointed energy executive David Manning, a former head of Canada's most powerful oil lobby group, as its envoy to Washington as it looks for a favorable decision from the Obama administration on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project.

US Energy Secretary Chu is latest Obama Cabinet departure

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize winner who shepherded an effort to help spur a clean energy U.S. economy, will step down after a tenure rocked by the failures of some costly government investments.

Obama leaning toward McCarthy for EPA chief - sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is leaning toward choosing Gina McCarthy, a top official in charge of air quality at the Environmental Protection Agency, to run the EPA in his second term, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

McCarthy, currently the assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, would take on the top job as the agency leads Obama's push for measures to fight climate change.

US shale oil reserves amount to 2 tln barrels -- Kuwaiti expert

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- Sheikh Fahad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti expert in oil strategies, on Saturday estimated the reserves of the unconventional shale oil in the United States at two trillion barrels.

"This is the largest such reserve in the world at least so far," he said in statements to KUNA, citing recent data by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the US Energy Institute (USEI).

Cantabria becomes first region in Spain to ban fracking

"Those scavengers are bleeding the Earth." That is how Manuel López describes his battle against energy companies involved in fracking in Cantabria. The controversial hydraulic fracturing technique, to obtain gas from depths of over 2,000 meters, has been denounced by environmentalists all over the world because of its possible health consequences on people in surrounding communities.

Farmers in Ohio divided on ‘fracking’

The growing amount of hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” being performed in Ohio as part of a booming oil and gas industry is causing a split in opinion among the state’s farmers.Some see the movement as an economic opportunity, while others see the practice as a threat to their livelihoods.

2013 Jetta Hybrid: Volkswagen ups ante with sporty Jetta Hybrid

Traditionally, fuel economy is what the Volkswagen Jetta does best, especially versions fitted with the automaker's 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (TDI) that features plenty of power, but maintains a strict fuel-consuming diet.Despite all its strengths, the TDI is clearly not the first choice among North American car shoppers who are embracing gas-electric hybrids in ever-greater numbers. Not to be left out, VW has fitted its Jetta sedan with hybrid technology, but with some unorthodox differences.

Historic cod fishing cuts threaten centuries-old industry in New England

Scores of fishermen gathered Wednesday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to hear the vote of the New England Fishery Management Council, which has since submitted its recommendations to the federal government.

"We're doomed, as they say," said fisherman Dennis Robillard, whose voice wavered as he acknowledged that his boat, the Julie Ann II, is now up for sale.

"I'm getting out. It just doesn't make any sense to me anymore."

Critics say Coalition's Green Deal is no solution to curse of fuel poverty

Energy efficiency is key in cutting the bills. But who pays?

Insurers' cash used to fund climate change

The UK's insurance industry is today accused of funding enviromentally threating research. The claim comes from the respected Ethical Consumer magazine. Its research shows that big insurers such as Aviva, Legal & General and LV= are funding major oil and gas exploration in the Arctic by investing in the firms whose activities risk widespread environmental disaster.

The work could be catastrophic for the environment, according to Rob Harrison, one of the authors of the report. "At a time when the world's scientific community is urging action on climate change it makes no sense for the UK's insurance industry to be funding activities that will lead to more hydrocarbons being burned," he said.

How Climate Change Could Destroy Energy Companies

Climate change may have been responsible for Hurricane Sandy's $60 billion-plus in damage. It also may be to blame for last summer's drought that cost another $77 billion. Maybe chalk up record-high temperatures, flooding, and wildfires in Australia to a changing climate. But could stranger weather destroy hundreds of billions in companies' value?

It's possible. A lot of the energy reserves that sit in the ground might not be able to be extracted if policy to mitigate climate change aggressively targets limiting carbon dioxide emissions. And a lot of energy companies' value comes from their proven reserves.

An Arctic CSI case: Cyclone is absolved in record sea ice melt

"The Great Arctic Cyclone of August 2012" arose in Siberia on Aug. 2 and crossed the Arctic Ocean to Canada, lasting an unusually long 13 days. The cyclone hit a pressure minimum of 966 millibars on Aug. 6, the lowest ever recorded for an Arctic storm. The stronger the pressure gradient, or difference in pressure, the stronger the winds associated with a storm.

Since the storm, which was equal in strength to a hurricane, tore across the Arctic, scientists have wondered whether its winds and waves were a guilty party in the disappear

Link up top: TNK-BP pulls Russia's Jan oil output down

Oil is getting harder to find and more expensive to extract, which is hitting oil companies' profits despite high crude prices. Tax breaks as well as new technologies for extraction of tight oil, hidden in non-porous rock, should facilitate oil production.

Vankor, the last giant found is keeping Russian production from falling fast. It has 3.8 billion barrels of oil reserves with 1.5 billion barrels of them "proven". Compare that with Prudhoe Bay which has, or had, 13 billion barrels of proven recoverable reserves.

Anyway, it is starting to look more and more like Russia has finally peaked. That leaves the US and Canada to keep non-OPEC from plunging like a rock.

Non-OPEC, less US and Canada, C+C production in kb/d. The data is from the EIA. The last data point is October 2012.

Non OPEC less US and Canada photo Non-OPEClessUSandCanada_zps3e5a3a89.jpg

Ron P.

And now since OPEC production is falling, this would mean that world oil production must also be falling at the moment. I doubt the US and Canada are making up for lost production elsewhere.

So, 2013 is the year of manifest declines showing. Do we have any idea on when and by how much, this may appear?

Well, not unless someone has a crystal ball that allows them to see the future. I have one but it's in the shop being repaired. It kept getting its predictions all wrong. ;-)

What we can do is guess. That's what everyone does, including the EIA, the IEA, Citi, BP and everyone else. The EIA is known for always being way too high with its predictions. But now they are in good company. Everyone is predicting an oil glut. Leonardo Maugeri, of the Harvard Kennedy School says the glut will likely be here by 2015.

My guess is that crude + condensate production will be slightly lower in 2013 than in 2012 but will not start dropping by as much as 1 percent or more until 2014. Then it will gradually pick up steam until it is dropping by a rate that no one can deny. That will happen when the Red Queen gives out and the fracking bubble burst about 2017 or possibly as early as 2016.

Anyway, that's my best guess and that's all it is... a guess.

Ron P.

Ron, It's worth noting that non-OPEC minus US&Cda, accounted for 45% of world oil supply in 2004/5 (slightly smaller % now), so this decline is important. It would be interesting to see the graph with a slightly longer time perspective eg from 1990.

I only collect the monthly data from 2000. The EIA monthly data only goes back to 1994. However I collect the yearly data back as far as the EIA posts it, back to 1970. Here it is. The data is C+C. The dip you see that bottomed out in 1993 was caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Non-OPEC C+C less US and Canada. The 2012 data is the average thru October 2012.

 photo N-OYearlylessUSandCanada_zpscaf72941.jpg

Ron P.

Thanks, Ron. So, we may need to wait a few more years to say that the 2005-2012 period really is different from 1988-1992. But perhaps a major difference between those 2 time periods, is that the average oil price has doubled recently, while it didn't in the 1988-1992 timeframe.

The production plateau has been going on for awhile.

I originally blogged about this in 2005 using a hypothetical example:

The plateau looked like this after extraction pressure was raised on the nominal production.

The extraction pressure was raised according to this curve.

I think the reality of increased extraction is proven out by the doubling of rig count in the last several years:

The plateau can't last forever even with increased extraction pressure and so the production will have to collapse at some point.

I started thinking about revisiting this situation after a couple of anti-PO posts appeared at AGW denier sites over the weekend.

I participated in the comments of the first one, but the second one was filled with abiotic oil believers, so I stayed away. The takeaway message is that many seemed to believe in peak oil, yet in a very indirect way and so will never acknowledge the truth behind it. They also seem very touchy over the plateauing effect, and don't understand how this can happen. I invoked the oil shock model, whereby the plateauing is a straightforward result of extraction pressure, but the legacy of the perfect Hubbert peak is hard to shake.

The EIA data is showing a blip upwards for 2012, after about 0.1% growth from 2005, so the natives are getting restless.
Remember, anti-AGW people latch on to trends. When the Crude-only curves start to increase, the cornucopians come out with their told-you-so's.

Probably a good move to subtract out Canada and USA to help explain what is happening.

"The EIA data is showing a blip upwards for 2012"

Note: In November 2012, 4 new countries have been added to the list of OECD countries in IES. These countries are Chile, Israel, Estonia, and Slovenia. All of the OECD totals for oil data now include these 4 new countries. (Chile had already been included in OECD total oil consumption for a number of months; this month, we are adding Chile to the OECD data for supply, stocks, and imports.)

No problem...if the numbers start turning down - just find some other countries that haven't been counted yet and ease them in the mix.

Current geopolitical events that are decreasing world crude oil supply:

1. NATO sanctions against Iran

2. The Iraqi government and the Kurds are having some issues.

Are there any more?

These could come or go at any time.

These are certainly important caveats to note - we do seem to still be at Peak Lite, but it has to be getting really thin. These two were on my list of potential "surprises" for the year 2013...a war getting started between Iran and Israel/US, and civil war between Iraq and semi-autonomous Kurdistan (which could bleed into Kurdish Iran and Turkey).

As caveats, the downside probability I would imagine is far greater than the upside. So rather than there being potential for peace and rising oil production, the likelihood that one (or both) of these will become more of a problem seems at least twice as likely. Considering that the Israelis just snuck into Syria to blow up something...who knows how far they'll go.

There are still non-production hazards out there as well that could cause a cascade effect affecting investment in production...France is looking shaky, Germany seems to be going into recession and this might tighten the purse-strings on the Euro-bailouts, Canadian housing could collapse or its economy may contract - possibly precipitated by the US going into recession. With all the talk of the "US fracking itself into Saudi Arabia" investment may have already pulled back in anticipation and if these countries tip into recession and pull back demand, investment could fall further. If production then falls and prices rise, the race would be on between the price/availability bankrupting economies and producers re-investing. I think the probability that the wheels will fall off this year is low-ish, but the likelihood increases in 2014 and I still expect 2015 to be a turning point.

Great stuff! We are grateful to you for staying on top of things. By the way, how do you plot these graphs (which software do you use) and post them here?

Plotting is easy if you have Excel and track the data. Of course tracking the data is the hard part but I have created templates in Excel that allow me to track each country quite easily.

Anyway, to plot in Excel just highlight the data you want to track, with the date in the left hand column, or upper column if you are doing it horizontally, then click on "insert" then chart, then the type of chart you want. I always use line charts so I click on that, then finish. That's all there is to it.

Posting to Drumbeat is a little more difficult. You need a Photobucket account. But first you must copy and save your plot to "paint". Paint is a program that comes with Microsoft Windows. If you have a Mac then you have something else, I have no idea what. But then you name it and save it to "pictures". Or that's what I do. Then open your Photobucket account and click on "upload" then "browse". Then you find your chart in "pictures" and upload it.

Photobucket then gives you four formats from which to copy from. Choose the third one down, "HTML code" Copy and paste that to Drumbeat and there you have it.

Ron P.

Good choice of horizontal axis time interval, and really quite scary ...

Ron, I think this could be one of the key graphics to communicate the Peak Oil position over the next few years. Like Westexas' "ELM", but easier to explain. Everyone still thinks OPEC "controls" the price of oil, but your graph shows that "The Rest of the World" (ok, minus US and Canada), peaked in 2004/5.

What is the potential future oil contribution from Vz, assuming that the negative above-ground factors are changed?

What if Vz adopted a Canadian-style production mindset...what if they opened their reserves to foreign partnerships and technology and profit-sharing?

Different but related question: At what point will large-scale exploitation of NG from Canada, AK, and the greater Vz-area be economical to start to displace more and more oil use? Perhaps by adoption of more Plg-in hybrid and pure EV vehicles and more electric-powered trains?

Did anybody else notice that the doughnut island discussed in this Jan 28 thread only needs a siphon pipe with a turbine in it to generate tidal electricity?

Not much of a head, not much of a reservoir volume. If the timing is right, tides would help a little, of course if wrong tides will hurt.

The better tidal generators do not function off fast falling water, they function off slow but powerful ebbs and flows of lateral water movement in volume.

re article: "Biden raises possibility of direct U.S.-Iran talks"

Regardless of what might be baked into the cake on this, it is refreshing to at least hear someone talk about direct negotiations in an effort to avoid what must end up being thousands of innocents killed and perhaps collapse of what remains of our collective economy that still relies on the safe passage of oil through the Straits. It may well be that there is no hope for negotiating an end to nuclear development by Iran, but to simply accept or wait for an Israli attack or joint US/Israli action could be something very dreadful in hindsight.

At least Chuck Hagel seems to acknowledge that war needs to be avoided if possible. Certainly there needs to be some absolute lines drawn on this but there might still be some hope that parties could choose another path leading to resolution. Plus, I am no longer sure if anything I read about this or see on broadcasts is really true or the complete story? The US has lied about so much, (or if not lying then wrong and incompetent with disastrous results)...from the Gulf of Tonkin incident to Iraq's WMDs. It also appears that the Iranian leaders are wacko and out of synch with their people. Can we believe anyone anymore? Should we?

How can we stop them all from driving us over another cliff? This ain't no Mali or Greneda.

Take a deep breath.....go work in the garden...


We need a 'Grand Bargain' with Iran. They need to end their nuke enrichment, get it from Russia, allow deep inspections, end the sanctions, and open them to the free world.

This stupid tribalism is just pathetic at this state in mankind's development.

A nuclear-free Israel would help, too.

As long as each U.S. Senator must pass the litmus test of proving in the Senate that he or she is 100% pro Israel and !00% against Iran, No bilateral agreement is possible between U.S. and Iran. Mr. Hagel confirmation hearing prove that is the case.

We had a grand bargain eleven years ago. But AIPAC who always claimed they could deliver 100 Senators, pulled the rug out from under it. After that the Iranians concluded they couldn't do a deal with the US, because the US was unreliable. Then hardliners won the next election. I don't think the situation has changed. To a degree Hagel's nomination is a test, can someone who didn't toe the lobby's line get a key post? If so then maybe others will decide they can vote their conscience, rather than their narrow political interest (which is to keep the lobby happy with them). I'm not particularly optimistic.

I'm not certain that Iran's leaders aren't doing the right thing for their country. If you look at the behavior of the western powers towards smaller countries it seems that becoming a nuclear power is an intelligent self-defensive action. Look at N. Korea. They may not be doing anything right internally to support their own population but they sure have scared the heck out of the US war hawks. The same may be said about Israel and Pakistan. No one really wants to mess with them. Then there's Iraq. Saddam tried to bluff his way past western aggression and he ended up cowering in a hole in the ground before being hanged.

Just my opinion, but I think the forceful attempts by some countries in non-proliferation to those not yet in the nuclear club is a failing strategy.

I say let any country that wants to go nuclear be free to do so. Maybe, just maybe "if everyone has them, no one will be quick to use them."

Might bring more global stability,and therefore lower prices for FF (while they last).

That's mad, in both senses of the word.

Too many psychotics in positions of power, too much temptation, too much fallout (again, in both senses of the word).

A few countries, little by little, keep being added to the Nuclear Club anyway, despite non-proliferation:

...and hopefully MAD is 'right', and will prevent use:

Have you read the NPT? The United States is the one violating it by not meeting its treaty obligations to pursue world disarmament. Iran, meanwhile, is a signatory, and hence holds the right to develop its own nuclear power industry. Not sure why you are not sure about how this is all working. The United States is committing international crimes in an effort to destabilize a nation-state rich with oil but somewhat impervious to our domination. Given our history -- see Mossadegh -- with Iran, the fact that anybody takes this "crisis" the way it's reported is a proof of how indoctrinated and unfree WE are, here in the USA.

The thing about hypocrisy is that everyone else's hypocrisy is as obvious as the nose on one's face, but your own is invisible. And our reaction on being called out, is to be outraged, and blame the truthteller.

Thank you for pointing this out Michael.

Iran is complying with this international treaty, the US and Israel are not.

Gosh - why didn't I hear that on the news? The more you watch, the less you know...

Because we have a press that's 'Free'(TM) to tell us anything they like...

The thing about treaties is they are either mutually agreed working agreements between peers on relatively even terms, or they are forced agreements between a party in power and another being subjugated.

When power structures change, the treaties' values do too. In the end, a treaty only matters if somebody is going to do something about it. Unsigned international treaty involving military issues? Hah! Who is going to do anything but squawk until the US stumbles and falls from its military perch?

At least we had the decency not to sign something it, so nobody should be very surprised.

Unsigned? Huh? Both the US and Iran have signed this treaty, and Article VI of our Constitution says ratified treaties are the highest law of our land. Need we mention the other treaty known as the UN Charter, which we wrote and started, and which says threatening war is a violation of that Charter?

The fact that Israel refuses to sign the NPT proves what a rogue, scofflaw state that is.

Orwell couldn't exceed this unbelievable scenario...

Orwell couldn't exceed this unbelievable scenario

The sad truth, is outside of academic circles, and a few oddballs like myself, 90% plus of the country thinks otherwise. So the country with the biggest stick on the planet feels secure in its delusional fantasy, and nobody else can challenge it.

nobody else can challenge it.

With portable cameras backed with large SD cards it is only a matter of time before someone decides to craft software for the portable phone which lets you point the UPC code at the camera and be told 'Based on your preferences that product is X% of the assumed profit goes back to Americans.' Then makes this statement: 'You might want to consider buying product Y which would be locally made.'

The whole world not wanting to buy American made stuff. What would the nation do when individual consumers decide to not consume stuff tied to another nation? Quite the backslap to the face with an invisible hand eh?

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013 Explores Global Climate Change Challenges

This conference sees the U.S. as a major denier:

As many nations brace for worsening effects of a changing climate, the intransigence of the U.S. has sparked some concern.

Kiribati's Tong told HuffPost that "the United States should come to the party. They should relax and not be so scared to talk about climate change. It's a reality of this world. It's our creation -- perhaps their creation more than ours -- so we should deal with the monster we've released."

(Huffington Post).

"Atlas Shrugged" from Texas replied as follows:

"8/10 of a degree is a "serious threat to continuity of life on earth" but if I drive 100 miles north or south I experience far more than that. What kind of gullible people believe that ? "

If this is how most people think we are doomed.....

Democracy and more importantly universal suffrage has given rise to the false belief that stupidity is as valuable as intellectualism. In fact intellectualism is considered elitism. Instead of questioning the intellectuals we have swung an additional ten meters and now question the whole idea of indulging in theorizing.

The actual quote is " "We would not be here today if we did not believe in the value of the continuity of life on Earth and that it is under serious threat"

Too much denial on one side and too much hyperbole on the other. Unless by "continuity of life on Earth" he really means his personal BAU.

3 million years ago the average global temperature was 3 degrees C warmer than now. There was no threat to "the continuity of life on Earth."

15 million years ago the average global temperature was at least that warm. There was no threat to "the continuity of life on Earth" then either.

"The middle Miocene represents an intriguing period of Earth history during which high temperatures and a substantial retreat of the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet and shrinkage of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, occurred under CO2 levels in the range of 190–850 ppmv.
At the height of the middle Miocene Climatic Optimum, global annual mean surface temperatures were ∼3 ◦C higher than present,
equivalent to projections for the coming century, with 6 ◦C warming in mid latitudes and 10 ◦C warming for high latitudes, based on an
evaluation of proxy data and model simulations."

Hydrologic cycling over Antarctica during the middle Miocene Warming.
Sarah J. Feakins, Sophie Warny and Jung-Eun Lee

If you poke around, there is a lot of dispute about what was going on in the mid-Miocene. Much of the data is contradictory. And the Columbia Basin flood basalts were flowing at about the same time, which was undoubtedly further upsetting steady state, if steady state has any business being used in the context of climate.

The latest round of Ice Ages began some 3.3 million years ago. It's been suggested that this transition was the result of the closure of the Isthmus of Panama, which blocked the connection between the Equatorial Atlantic and the Pacific. The result may have been a shift in the Thermohaline Circulation to the high latitudes of the North Atlantic and the Nordic Seas. If this is the correct interpretation, there's no real analog to our present situation in those earlier time periods. I think it's not unreasonable to conclude that the warmth some 3 million years back, coupled with the change in circulation, was the causal factor in the start of the present period of repeated Ice Ages. That would lead one to conclude that mankind's climate modifications might actually trigger a return to an Ice Age, with large areas of land covered by deep glacier ice.

With this in mind, I think it's unreasonable to conclude this would represent "no threat to the continuity of life on Earth", as you have suggested...

E. Swanson

Unfortunately, "continuity of life on Earth" isn't hyperbole, and it might already be too late. Even if we magically stopped all Co2 emmisions today temperatures are going to keep rising for many reasons: long lag times, the melting permafrost releasing methane, deforestation, etc.

We could easily trigger an Anoxic event http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anoxic_event which poisons the air with hydrogen sulfide and kills almost everything.

Pfft. Life will go on just fine. There certainly could be massive extinction event but life will continue. To think otherwise is to not understand evolution. There have been massive extinction events in the past and there will be massive extinction events in the future.

About half of the biosphere is archaic single celled organisms that live underground. There is no we we will wipe those out. So, life itself will retain continuity even if all surface life was extinguished. Frankly I think we are incapable of causing as deep an extinction as the Permian-Triassic extinction.

"Frankly I think we are incapable of causing as deep an extinction as the Permian-Triassic extinction."

I wouldn't bet on it.. SOL, our local star, is somewhat brighter/hotter than during the PT event. Thus, to achieve similar conditions with today's increased solar flux will likely need to reach 1/4 (1250ppm) of those ancient CO2 (~5000ppm) levels.

There is only so much time left before our steadily brightening star shifts the Goldilocks zone past earth's orbit. Current Estimates 700 to 900 million years, at which point Earth will transform itself into a lifeless hothouse like Venus.

There is a distinct chance, (my guess ~20%), that mankind's GHG emissions may speed up that schedule and shift that biosphere terminating event to within in the next ten millennium(10ky) or so.

Yes Tim it's amazing how many people look at the past and think and say the future will be the same.
Three hundred million years ago the continents were in a different place the oceans were circulating differently. Flora a fauna were different. The moon was closer, the Earth had shorter days and as you say the sun was cooler.

There will be no going back from the CO2 we are hell bent on releasing. No recovery, not the slightest chance of an ice age.

It depends on what you mean by life. Our species, Homo sapiens evolved about 500,000 years ago. http://animals.about.com/od/evolution/ss/evolution_2.htm

But perhaps that reference is wrong.

If the reference is correct, I am not sure of the relevance of your 3 million years ago reference.

Can homo sapiens survive with the kind of increases in temperature being projected? Perhaps there will be some survival at extreme latitudes or altitudes. Frankly, I don't know but it would seem that continuity of most homo sapiens in numbers we have today is doubtful. Does it matter? I think there would be a better balance of nature if homo sapiens were cut to something less than a billion. There will not be available the rich cache of resources that allowed homo sapiens to evolve last time so it may very well be that life, if any, will be nasty, brutish, miserable, and short.

Climate change is no threat to "the continuity of life on Earth". However, it is a threat to modern human civilization.

Life will go on just fine though.

hey PVguy,

do you have some handy graphs for this stuff? temp vs time sea level vs time co2 vs time etc? Thanks anyone btw.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu Resigns, Chastises Climate Deniers And Clean-Energy Critics

In a wide-ranging and sometimes defiant letter to staff announcing his resignation on Friday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, while highlighting his agency's achievements over the last four years, blasted critics of the administration's investments in the renewable energy market, suggesting that opponents were living in the "Stone Age."


"While critics try hard to discredit the program, the truth is that only one percent of the companies we funded went bankrupt. That one percent has gotten more attention than the 99 percent that have not," Chu said. "The test for America’s policy makers will be whether they are willing to accept a few failures in exchange for many successes. America’s entrepreneurs and innovators who are leaders in global clean energy race understand that not every risk can –- or should –- be avoided."


"There is an ancient Native American saying: 'We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,'" he added. "A few short decades later, we don’t want our children to ask, 'What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?'"

(Huffington Post).

I'm sorry to see Chu leave the administration. I think overall he did a fairly good job.

Unlike most political appointees, his background as a physicist enabled him to grasp the technical side of energy issues. During the Deepwater Horizon spill, an aquaintence of mine (an expert on directional drilling) went down to the Gulf to help with the relief wells. He was also involved in briefing the various big shots in the Incident Command Team. When he came back to Alaska, the driller commented that of all of the people on the ICT, Chu was the easiest one to explain things to, and the one who best grasped the key technical details.

I am greatly saddened by Steven Chu stepping down. We need more hardcore scientists in government that follow the science where it leads. He'll likely be replaced by some bureaucrat or former industry executive that will be swayed by lobbyists instead of following the science.

It is a great loss for the country to longer have a Nobel prize winning physicist making decisions at DoE.


""Under his watch, energy consumption in the United States declined by 2.24 percent while our leading economic competitor, China, increased energy consumption by 28 percent," Kish said in a statement published to the IER website. "Similarly, GDP growth in the United States has limped along at the anemic annual rate of 0.6 percent while China’s economy has soared at the annual rate of 9.12 percent, more than 15 times our own. Clearly, the policies and priorities of Steven Chu’s energy department have benefitted our global competitors and intensified the economic pain felt by millions of unemployed Americans."

This stuff is so ridiculous ...

The claim that solar thermal, specifically solar water heating, is the best bang for one's solar buck is one I've repeated, and has been fairly accurate in the past. With falling PV prices, it occurs to me that this may no longer be the case, that solar electric water heating may have reached parity with solar thermal. Looking at some numbers:

Solar thermal:

To save time and bandwidth, I'll point to a complete system available in the US-

Indirect Solar Water Heating System PV w/80 Gal Tank & 40 Sq Ft Collectors

This is a fairly typical system for areas that experience freezing weather, with a PV powered pump and a 40 squre foot collector. Looking at the chart for this series of collectors, this collector is rated to produce @23 Megajoules per day (There are a lot of variables here, so I picked an average for domestic water heating. Note that, as outside temperature drops, output falls. With polycrystalline PV panels, output increases when temperatures drop.


Solar electric with resistance heaters:

I recently puchased quality PV panels for $0.65 cents/watt. Using my joules to watts converter, the above thermal system can be expected to produce around 6400 watt-hours per day. Using roughly the same conditions (4 hours per day, clear):

6400 watt-hours / 4 hours/day X 0.65 cents/watt = $1040 PV cost to achieve ~ same output. The PV can be installed to directly power DC water heating elements in a conventional electric water heater. Those who already have a conventional electric water heater can replace one or both of the AC elements currently installed (direct replacement). The elements at the link are a bit on the pricey side; I've seen similar for less, but for our purposes... lets use two at $165/ea. We'll add in a conventional 80 gal residential water heater: $579.00 in my market. Also add a thermostat: about $50.00. Total cost for components: $1999.00, excluding wiring, taxes, shipping, installation, etc., also not included in the solar thermal system.

Gosh,, $1999 vs. $3170.66, so far.

Some notes:

1. The solar electric system will be much less complex to install, in fact, less complexity, overall. No moving parts (excepting thermostat perhaps) = higher reliability.

2. The solar electric system is near 100% efficient; virtually all electricity produced will be converted to heating water.

3. The solar electric system requires no plumbing with insulation. Solar thermal will lose some heat even if well insulated. Wire is much easier to route/run than piping. Solar electric needs no glycol (antifreeze) to be maintained and replaced periodically. No pump to burn out.

4. Surplus energy from the solar electric system can be diverted to a battery bank with a little creative wiring.

5. With the electric system, there's no issue with "head" (elevation difference between collector and tank/pump). The 20 watt PV panel and pump included in the solar thermal system may not work well for multi-story buildings, requiring additional expense.

6. Caveat: PV panels will take up 2-3 times as much space on your roof, cost a little more to mount, but aren't nearly as heavy as the solar thermal collector.

I realise that this is a rough, maybe even apples/oranges, comparison. I only offer these examples as food for thought, and am sure some of you will be happy to 'refine' my conclusions. There are many variables to be considered, but considering the simplicity of the solar electric system, and likely, higher reliability, solar electric water heating may be a winner going forward if PV prices continue to drop. The resistance heaters in this system are quite versatile and forgiving, converting whatever energy they are sent from the PV array to heat. Considering the apparent cost difference in the examples, one could still afford a backup conventional AC water heater or keep what they have.

Of course one could have a solar hot water heater that provides-pre-heated water to an electric hot water heater that uses PV solar power. :-)

Interesting comparison. One way to avoid grid connected soft costs (paper work plus inspections ...), is to directly consume the power for some dedicated purpose that you've wired in separate from your grid connected wiring.

So, what I'd like to see. DC powered heat pump (that can be reversed to cool for the summer season). Scaled to be smaller than your total heating/cooling needs -so you don't waste so much of it. Then you could cut the demands on the grid connected part of your heating/cooling system. Note, that because hot/cold water stores heat, this would provide system level (I mean the regional power grid system here) benefits, even after the sun has gone down. Could be pretty interesting.

Thanks, Ghung, for doing the arithmetic for me. I was thinking the same things. Solar hot water is easy if done crudely as I have (rubber rug lying on ground, summer only) , but would be far better to have year around and good control.

I have passed your epistle around among the PV faithful, of whom there are an ever-growing number around here, I am happy to report.

That's how I did the math... ended up just oversizing the PV capacity, it was cheaper and simpler.

Water heater elements really don't care whether they are operated by AC or DC. The standard 240VAC ones in water heaters will operate just fine directly to PV. It's just a matter of matching impedance.

I've been taking PV Hot water showers for almost a decade. You need 3x the capture area since you are at 15% source efficiency instead of ~60%, PV even works in COLD cloudy weather and will be working long after I'm gone. 4 - Spare 190W 72 cell panels at 140 volts or so into parallel 240V elements. Trick is modulating DC current, it would quickly weld the AC contacts in the 1st week. I use redundant 90A DC SSR tracking the thermotank switchs. Note these Relays fail on, so a mercury switch would be the way to go if you had a lot of PV and wanted to avoid popping the P/T valve or worse Chernobyl. Note to get this to work, requires code violations, HVDC into a System not approved, Ungrounded PV system (IMO Better For safety), Redundant Grounds to tank, etc. Works fantastic, but you don't want to do this unless you really consider the safety requirements of HV DC Systems.

For Off Grid, The Standard Midnight Classic 96A Charge controller will do proportional power (12-72V) to an element as the batteries step out of bulk charge and spend hours into the battery maintenance taper modes. I'm going to do this for a customer soon.

2 of these in parallel are and option at lower voltages.

There is a UL listed Black Box that converts 60V DC into AC at Max Power Point for a conventional Hot water heater, I post it when I dig it up. City of Tallahassee is field testing it. IF Someone designed a DC UL Listed tank for direct PV connection might get very rich.

If you are below 33 degrees latitude, and use LOTs of hot water, Solar thermal would still be a more economical solution. One advantage of PV is the Panels can be "very"remote, wire is cheap compared to Insulated tube. Lot's of cool things will be possible with Low(er) cost PV. http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/solar-thermal-dead

Trick is modulating DC current, it would quickly weld the AC contacts in the 1st week.

Donald, are you sure about that? Too much current can indeed weld contacts, or burn them open. But it doesn't matter which type it is, the contacts don't know the difference.

Ron P.

"the contacts don't know the difference."

Actually they do. For DC you need contacts that open quickly and farther. An arc will be started as the contacts open and you need them to move far enough apart to extinguish the arc and get there fast enough that the arc doesn't burn something. When switching AC, the drop to 0 volts 120 times a second extinguishes the arc and the contacts don't need to move as fast or as far. This is even a problem at 12 Volts. If you're only switching under an amp, it's not usually something you need to worry about, but a 10 amps it can be a major problem.

This is why you will often find switches and circuit breakers with different Voltage and Current ratings for AC and DC.

Oh, breaking or opening speed. Never thought about that. Thanks.

Ron P.

Semiconductor switching sounds a better bet, MOSFET or IGBT.


This is the 1st Plug and play PV to DHW DIRECT Gridless controller I know of, http://www.usa-eds.com/web/ Will be Interesting to see how well it harvest the wandering I-V max power watts of the PV Array and what the economics turn out to be. Don't need no Stinking Grid.

I don't know if this product is shipping, They offered one for testing and I said I would wait till they got UL Cert. As a general rule, I don't fuss with products with serial number < 1000 unless I have a good reason to. With Prime PV panels < $1.00/watt, this all of sudden makes mucho since. @ 7kWh day, 5kW peak, 1000-1500 watts of PV takes this OFFLINE. This a big impact to the customer and Utility. Just 200 of these removes a megawatt of demand!!

As per NFPA/NEC, Electrical equipment must be "Listed for use" for professional install. Currently little is listed for DC Use. Typically there are 3 contacts in a hot water heater, top element, bottom element, and safety overtemp. These contacts would quickly weld shut with 60+ volts DC. Great Video on Interrupting DC. Magnets in the breakers keep the arc from traveling.

wanna spend $30 on a LOW VOLTAGE DC light switch?,

Yeah, you are right Donald, my mistake, sorry.

Ron P.

Someone could design DC Thermoswitchs and get Elements tuned to x number of PV panels and certify and tank and it could be no brainer cost effective, instead of the 1000 times more complex way of going to AC via Inverters, with exploding capacitors, but there is are standards, anything outside of standards is "not-legal" Affordable DC Breakers were not available till recently, Cars were supposed to go to 34VDC a decade ago to reduce copper cost by 80%, Not happened. We have 100 watt USB around the corner, In NEC 2014 US hopefully will allow 1000V DC PV source circuits to catch up to world practice. Progress is happening for DC Power, it wil be ubiquitous soon due to affordable PV Power.
Denninger gets it. "Why do we have this crap going on? Why do you have cars where you can't change a crank position sensor without removing the engine, turning a $25 part into a $2,500 repair? Why have you bought millions of monitors and other electronic devices with exploding capacitors in them -- manifestly defective parts?"
http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=216889 Why?, Why are we grid parasites just because .... because we are bleeping sheep.

As a solution to the welding contacts, how about no electrical switching at all. Add a temp sensor and solenoid that would dump water from the tank if it exceeded 170?

Good thinking, Or just mount the tank low and let it thermo siphon up into a radiant loop.


I remember the same thing being reported here a year or two ago (nope, you're not original ;-). Basically, if you are installing solar PV anyway then oversizing it and forgetting about solar HW is the sensible way to go. The installation and inverter issues are relatively less if you are already putting in a system, and as you say, not mucking about with water and pumps increases lifespan.

Whether straight resistance heaters, or batteries and a heat pump approach are best is another matter.

Ghung - I have long been on the 'thermal beats PV' side of this debate. Largely because of the strawman thermal systems costing $5K+ (often $8-10k) that are used for comparison. But your $3171 is right in the ballpark with the batch water heater (ProgressivTube) of which I have owned two and installed two others, all in (mildly) freezing climates: 25F out there right now, after 15 last night. They have had no freeze issues down to 0F over multiple winters. But your math and proposed system has me thinking that the choice is no longer so clear - except that not doing solar hot water in some form is crazy.

And a heat pump water heater could tilt the balance further. Last month, with inlet temperatures not that much above freezing, our Nyle Geyser supplied our two person household with all the hot water we required for just 55.8 kWh -- at a maximum power draw of about 700-watts; that's less than 25-cents a day at current utility rates.


just FYI, Mine is humming along, feeding the big Thermal Store Preheat tank and using about 8kwh/day, for a building serving 7 adults (and renters FWIW).. so it seems to roughly match what you're getting with yours, save that some of my tenants are not especially frugal with water use.. ( As of November, I uprated the output to 122 deg F for this season given the Legionella concerns, so this system is doing ALL the DHW lifting, and the furnace basically none now. )

I didn't get the solar component up last fall, but with this baseline from the Heat Pump's performance, I will at least be able to see just how much the solar thermal is doing to support the HP. As with the above conv., I am also inclined to put up some grid PV on that bldg just to start offsetting the HP's KWHs.

Thanks, Bob, for the update; glad to hear that your new Nyle is working out well for you too. Our Geyser RO is set at 50°C/122°F for this same reason and, as previously noted, the connection to the tank is at the very bottom by way of the drain spigot, so there's no place for Legionella to hide as with a conventional electric water heater.

This same month last year, we used 119.5 kWh, so it has basically cut our DHW usage in half. That said, the other 64 kWh were "stolen" from a conditioned space, so factoring in the additional [ductless] heat pump demand our true usage is probably closer to 2.7 kWh a day. The real benefit will come spring, summer and fall when the Nyle reduces the runtime of our dehumidifier; in effect, for roughly eight months of the year, it will supply us with all the hot water we need (and then some) at no cost. Averaged over the course of the year, our DHW related consumption falls below 1.0 kWh a day. Not too shabby for an $1,100.00 investment and installation is dead simple (for those not familiar with the product, a video guide can be found at: http://vimeo.com/43626189)


Yes to all points.

I can't even put a hard number onto the dehumidification value, but it has kept the Humidity in the Furnace/Laundry and Workshop rooms at 30-40%, with the laundry exhaust emptying right into the room, and a quick dry of the floors after a melt or a rain leaks in! That's a lot of my tools and supplies that are no longer subject to dampness, rust and mold. I do have to deal with better lint-filtering, and have to keep an eye on cleaning the intake filter on the Nyle, but it's hard to guess just how much energy I'm saving by keeping that heat and the airflow of the Dryer indoors.

..And of course the room is dry enough to hang-dry clothes very readily, too! Once I put a coin-op onto that dryer, I might see some of the tenants just racking up their clothes out in the room instead!

I used the Nyle Gyser website's calculator to determine any savings I might realize from replacing my NG water heater...it calculated that I would spend ~ $200 /more/ per year.

Paul, is their calculator using 'therms' as the unit of usage for NG?

Based on my very sunny locale and cheap NG prices, I seem to be in a position to benefit from PV.

No question, individual circumstances will vary.

When we purchased this home back in 2002, it was equipped with a stand-alone, oil-fired hot water tank (circa 1968) that would fire-up every twenty to thirty-minutes, run for five, shut-off, then repeat this same cycle another forty or fifty times a day. There was a flue that ran up through the centre of the tank and heat from the tank and the space around it was being sucked-up a two and a half story stack day and night. The damper would constantly swinging open and on particularly windy days (and we have a good many of them) rattle like it was communicating in Morse code. I don't know how much oil was wasted, but I'm guessing it burned through four or five litres a day -- $4.50 to $5.50/day at current prices.

We replaced it with a small, 115-litre SuperStor Ultra attached to a new, low-mass Slant/Fin boiler. The Tekmar Control system would prevent the boiler from firing-up unless the side-arm or one of the zones called for heat. Thus, during the off-season, the boiler would kick-on two to three times a day and run ten or so minutes from a cold start. That dropped our fuel oil consumption during the spring/summer/fall to between 1.0 and 1.5 litres per day ($1.10 to $1.60/day).

Now, taking into consideration both the reduced runtime of our dehumidifier and the additional load placed on our ductless heat pumps, we're using about 1.0 kWh/day to operate the Nyle, when averaged over the full year. So, basically, the Nyle supplies us with all the hot water we need for about $50.00 a year. The indirect water heat would run us about $600.00 (~550 litres/year @ $1.102/litre) and, as a guess, the original oil-fired tank might come in at between $1,500.00 and $2,000.00 a year. For us, the Nyle is the hands down winner.


Interesting. Would you recommend an off grid solar electric system in the Seattle area? We use about 1500 kw hours per month.

Except I can make solar hot water panels and a storage tank far less expensively than I can purchase them. I can not make photovoltaic panels.

eBay has lots of kits to make solar panels: cells from China, cheap. Whether this actually makes sense, I don't know.

Whether this actually makes sense, I don't know.

Unless you have exceptionally good eyesight, are really handy with a soldering iron and you can find large quantities of cheap solar cells with big contact tabs, I wouldn't recommend it. By the time you mount them and add glass I highly doubt you would find that it is worth your time. Especially if your time is worth money. PV panels have become quite cheap.

"By the time you mount them and add glass I highly doubt you would find that it is worth your time."

Sad but true. Economies of scale do exist, and "I need 10 million of these, and they all have to be exactly the same" is indeed one of those times.

If you assume anything resembling the efficient markets hypothesis you would expect this to be the case. Someone would discover a profitable business model, buying PV scraps and manufacturing cheap panels, then the demand for scraps would push the price of scraps up.

I think a few people were making LED lighting kits for underdeveloped offgrid villages this way.

I could just imagine if there were a need for oddly shaped or sized panels, that it just might make sense.

Right, I can, and did make solar water heaters. But an extra kick from those excess PV watts would be useful in many situations I have seen last year. How about an instant electric heater under each hot water faucet?

And I can make PV, sorta- just get the money from things I can do and turn that into PV.

Hm- I can also make stirling engines, and so can anyone. They work just as well as PV, if you happen to have some clear sun.

This is one of my key issues, too.

The hassles of plumbing are real, but also can be managed, jury-rigged, adjusted and bypassed at a local level, so I will prefer to have kept my 'Portfolio Diversified', and have some direct heating as part of my system. I can only get just so far modifying Grid-tie inverters and Heat Pumps on my own.. and when all you're really looking for is Hot Water, I'm happy to have a fairly elemental tool for getting it.. even if it's bulky and might leak from time to time.

I am hardly down on PV>HP, either, but I'm usually unwilling to let the economics have all the sway in this sort of engineering issue. To me, copper pipe, good pumps and brass fittings are durable, reusable and so, highly prized parts of my home's assets, and I think of the modularity of BOTH the PV Electrical setups and of the Solar Thermal Equipment as essential aspects to my being able to have some real resilience.

[I tried posting a response earlier but somehow the comment disappeared...]

The analysis is correct but it is obviously surprising how a low-grade energy conversion (solar thermal) is more expensive that a high quality energy conversion (electricity to hot water at 70C).

It is indicative of inefficiency and underdevelopment of the market for hot water heaters in the US.

To illustrate the point, in Greece that has widely adopted solar hot water heaters and experience since the 80s with its own large domestic industry, an equivalent capacity system would cost EUR800 ~ USD1000 dollar installed. For example:

Granted, the boiler is outside but having used these systems in the north where the temperatures go below freezing regularly in the winter, the insulation is sufficient for overnight heat after a sunny day. Nevertheless, for a larger market like the US they would probably be made even cheaper.

My 2c.

Thanks for doing the math. A few comments:

Here in California good luck getting a decent thermal system installed for less $4000. Plumbers are a huge issue, there seems to be a sense of entitlement, after the boom times, that they deserve to drive $50,000 trucks and live in mansions.

Plumbing will leak. Solar PV has no moving parts. Big difference. Your thermal system will freeze at some point. Freeze proof systems add $1000's of dollars and/or complexity. PV panels will last many decades and virtually all have 25 year production guarantees. It is the rare thermal panel that lasts anywhere near that long. Warranty is at best a few years. Doesn't cover plumber. Soldering required.

The resource does not match the load in many cases. Hot water is less in demand on hot summer afternoons than it is on cold winter mornings. Your electricity can be produced and stored in June, July, August, and consumed in December January February (net-metering).

When starting from scratch, electric heat and DHW + solar easily beats gas hot water, and when you factor in leaks, plumbers, freezing and other factors, solar thermal.

A Nyle heat pump water heater can be retrofitted to your gas hot water heater in minutes. No more propane (a no-brainer) or natural gas.

Drawbacks: Slightly higher initial cost. If you already have non-PV infrastructure, cost to swap out. Wait until your existing stuff craps out, then switch. Heat pumps make some noise, don't put them in your bedroom.

I know that locally, a professionally installed two panel solar-thermal DHW system will set you back between $6,500.00 and $8,000.00, not including financing charges, if applicable.

Source: http://www.halifax.ca/environment/SolarCity/documents/WebFAQs-SolarCity-...

And in our climate, a system such as this might only supply one-half of a household's annual needs; the balance will be need to be heated using electricity, oil or gas.

I fear I often come across as being anti-solar and I apologise if that's the case. It's just for some of us it's hard to get the numbers to work or their are logistical barriers/site-specific restrictions that come into play, e.g., our home has virtually no solar potential due to its orientation and year-round shading.


"I fear I often come across as being anti-solar and I apologise if that's the case. "

No need to apologize. One size does not fit all, and that is just another version of saying there is not magic bullet, the quest for which gets inthe way of solving the problem at hand. I didn't even know there was sun in Nova Scotia ;-)

Consider the Nile Geyser. It sounds like a good idea in the East, but what about in the desert? I can already charge the cat to 100,000 V whenever I like. Even when it's raining here the humidity is only about 70%. Summertime humidities under 20% are normal. I don't think I need to add a dehumidifier to the house.

I didn't even know there was sun in Nova Scotia ;-)

Sadly, that's why we travel to the north of Scotland to work on our tans.

I don't think the Geyser would pose too much of a problem. I noticed that ours no longer extracts any moisture once the relative humidity drops below 45 to 50 per cent (that's also true of our dehumidifier). You would still benefit from the coolth, but it shouldn't further dry the air.

I often grumble about the amount of electricity that is consumed by our dehumidifier, but here we are in the middle of winter, the temperature below the freezing mark, and the relative is still 100 per cent !



Ghung, I think your calculations are not quite fair for solar thermal. Your hot water system has a special 80 gallon tank, which the site sells for $1429 and for that money, I would expect a lifetime stainless tank, whereas your quoted 80 gallon tank from Home Depot is a generic bottom of the line electric tank with a 6 year warranty, which would likely need replacement 3 times over a 30 year period. Your reference thermal system also includes only 1 4x10 foot collector, whereas one might expect that 2 of the 4x8 or 4x10 collectors would be required in most locations with colder temperatures, thus understating the output of a typical installation. The rated output of the thermal collector which you quote is for cool climate conditions with a Ti-Ta around 50C, as would apply in, fall or winter, again understating the yearly output. FYI, the collector plates for those panels are made in Hickory, NC, according to information I received while touring the manufacturer and watching them make some plates.

As you note, the collection area of the PV panels will be greater than that of the solar thermal, though not as large as you note because I expect more thermal area would be required for a properly designed system. That adds to the installation cost for PV, unless you are doing-it-yourself.

PV has another problem which you don't mention, shading limits the panel output, which implies all the trees in the aperture area to the South must be removed, whereas solar thermal can still capture thermal energy with some shading. This would be a big issue at higher latitudes in Winter where the Sun is at low elevation. Then too, with snow cover, the PV panel won't provide any output if the lower portion of the panel is covered, as might happen when the snow partially melts and slides down the glass to pile up at the bottom.

Finally, your stated cost of your PV panels sounds great, but is that price the average for everyone or just a sale you happened to catch during the off season? Your referenced site sells PV for $0.89 a watt, not $0.65 a watt. Are your PV panels listed and UL certified? If not, your insurance won't cover them if they cause a fire, etc. The same might be said of your do-it-yourself installation work. Solar thermal isn't likely to start a fire whereas a poorly grounded PV system might...

E. Swanson

Yeah, _Dog, as I said: "I realise that this is a rough, maybe even apples/oranges, comparison. I only offer these examples as food for thought, and am sure some of you will be happy to 'refine' my conclusions. At least I was right about something. And yes!, I got a great deal on grade A panels with multiple listings/certs. They went up $.10 the week after I ordered, and I didn't have to order a whole pallet after the vendor screwed up my first order for 200 watters up. I'll note that the same vendor still offers amorphous panels for $.64/watt (which aren't as vulnerable to the shading issues you mention and have no frames to dam snow from falling off). The specific panels I ordered sold out.

I mainly wanted to explore the idea, since there may be clear advantages for many folks/locations. Got some great responses too. Thanks, all. Others with poor solar potential are free to collapse the thread and move on. Seems that those with the most experience with this sort of thing see it as a quite viable option. As Longtimber said, above, " IF Someone designed a DC UL Listed tank for direct PV connection might get very rich." ...and could get panels, relays, thermostats at least as cheap as I can. Such a packaged system could easily compete with a complete solar thermal system with similar production specs, IMO. Add to that the simplified installation...

I've been doing family stuff, shoveling snow and cleaning off the panels for the first time this winter (looks like you guys got quite a bit). Wife works 10-12 hour days during week (tax season), and rightfully resents competing with TOD for my time on weekends. The pups don't care as long as there's room in my lap for a cold nose ;-)

Since the sun came out, the arrays have been producing well above their rating with all of the reflected/ambient light (another difference in PV and thermal). Anyway, this all occured to me as I looked at ways to utilize the excess production we're fixin' to have.

Ghung, I was thinking about your calculation this morning. You equated the daily energy output of the solar hot water panels on a sunny day to the daily energy output of the PV panels on a sunny day. Solar hot water systems use grid electricity as a backup power source on cloudy days usually resulting in 75% of the energy coming from the solar hot water panels and 25% coming from the grid. You did not take this back up grid power into account, and PV panels do not output much power on cloudy days.

In an off-grid PV system there is no back up power from the grid placing the burden on the storage system. If you use lead-acid batteries as your backup, you need to factor in the fractional cost of the batteries that is used and overbuild the PV array. The hot water tank is also part of the storage system which makes me wonder about the size of the tank if the backup grid power is removed. Some assumptions:

1. water temperature in the tank is allowed to vary between 40 C and 60 C.

2. The household uses 15 gallons of hot water per day.

3. On a cloudy day the PV panels output enough power to balance the conductive heat loss from the tank.

4. 4 consecutive days of clouds.

5. Worst case condition is in winter with cold water entering the tank at 0 C.

6. The water in the tank is fully heated to 60 C at the beginning of the cloudy period.

You remove 60 gallons of hot water whose temperature is decreasing and add 60 gallons of cold water whose temperature is increasing. This is a differential flow rate problem, and if I did my math correctly, then the tank needs to have a capacity of 270 gallons for the water temperature to be 40 C at the end of the 4th cloudy day.

If the PV array is overbuilt by 2 times, then using the power from your example, there is 12.8 kWh/day available for heating the water. To heat this water from 0 C to 60 C assuming 100% efficiency:

270 gallons of water = 1046 l
specific heat of water = 4,186 J/(l C)

1046 l * 4,186 J/lC * (60 C - 0 C) = 263 MJ

It would take 5.7 days for the double sized PV array to heat this water starting at 0 C assuming no heat loss (no loss by heat conduction and no use of hot water). It would take 1 hour and 15 minutes on a sunny day to heat 15 gallons of water from 0 C to 60 C which is fast enough to heat the daily average consumption of water. It would take 1.9 sunny days to reheat the 270 gallons of water in the tank from 40 C to 60 C assuming no heat loss.

Remembering you stated your clouds are darker than mine, if you get 10% power on cloudy days, then this overbuilt system would provide 1.28 kWh/(cloudy day) which might be sufficient to compensate for conductive heat loss. If you use less than 15 gallons of hot water per day, then these numbers would scale down.

In summary dealing with 4 consecutive cloudy days in an off-grid PV system will require a sizable increase in the PV array and size of the tank.

Using LA batteries as a buffer is a very inefficient way to go. If you are thinking along those lines then a bigger tank is in order. Many tanks have options for 2 or 3 different heater locations: low, high, top. Your thermostats could switch them in order so as not to need to heat the whole tank. perhaps one of the upper ones could be grid, unconnected to the PV, as a boost. Alternatively use a bulk tank and a supply tank, the smaller, supply tank, being heated first. When that is nice and toasty, divert power to the bulk.


Thanks, BT. Seems the same reasoning would apply to solar thermal systems. Both will need backup during cloudy periods. The idea is to offset external (grid or fossil fuel) inputs whenever possible. In our case, our 450 gallon storage tank (@1600 litters) is heated during warmer months by solar thermal (two homebuilt collectors). In winter, the tank is heated by a heat exchanger in the woodstove. We also have a 400 watt, 24 VDC heating element in the tank which acts as a dump load when the batteries are fully charged. A good thermal charge on the tank will last us for 3 days of regular use (we take long showers). If we expect a long period of cloudy weather, we conserve. Sometimes we need to switch to the tankless DWH which is propane, a matter of turning two valves. The tankless was required by code when we built, and was our primary hot water source until I brought other methods of harvesting heat online. I even have our generator plumbed to dump heat into the tank; offline right now because our woodstove keeps the tank heated nicely and we use the generator much less than we use to. In a more 'conventional' installation, a heat pump could easily replace our woodstove. We very rarely need to use the tankless backup.

DHW is heated by a copper coil heat exchanger in the top of the tank. The woodstove, solar thermal, and radiant floor all use water directly from the tank. Pumps are standard 3gpm circ pumps used in hydronic systems.

Many solar thermal systems have AC backup elements. A PV DHW system could easily be configured the same way. People are making this far more complicated than it needs to be, especially when a PV sourced system is inherently more simple than pumps, valves, collectors, heat exchangers, contollers, expansion tanks, glycol fluid, etc.. A simple domestic electric (or gas) tank type water heater equiped with fittings for DC heating elements (many now have ports for hydronic heating), a control box, some wire and some PV panels. Pretty simple.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti expert in oil strategies, on Saturday estimated the reserves of the unconventional shale oil in the United States at two trillion barrels.

Sheikh Al-Sabah seems to be confusing oil shale with shale oil. You would think that an "expert in oil strategies" like him would know better. The level of uninformation among energy experts is mind boggling.

It's amazing how people get caught up in a big number without asking what is the eroei, or ever at least ask why it has not been extracted in large quantities before. They must think we are just sitting on two trillion barrels of oil because we are testing our ability to resist the temptation to make trillions of dollars in profits. No people we are not that capable of resisting making lots of money, but we are capable of resisting huge losses.

Is he uninformed? Or is he just being strategic? (He is a Kuwaiti expert in oil strategies after all.) As a person who's job depends on selling oil, he wants his suckers customers to believe there is plenty of oil. Go ahead and buy that big SUV, Mr. American.

Shell Tallies Cost of Kulluk Grounding

... In a prepared presentation, Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Voser, played down the company’s many mishaps in Alaska last year.

... Voser denied that the decision to move the rig had anything to do with taxes, saying that the $5-6 million they would have had to pay is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

If the company was moving the rig for tax purposes, the cost of the incident has definitely exceeded what they would have saved. Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said they anticipate spending at least $90 million on the incident in the first quarter of 2013.

“The $40 million I mentioned is the pure salvage cost to salvage operators. The $50 million is everything else — the Coast Guard, our own vessels etc.”

Henry added that those figures don’t include the cost of repairing the rig — he said that information won’t be available until there are more details about the extent of the damage.

We’re in the Arctic for the long term, Shell insists, despite risk to 2013 drilling plans

Shell has spent about $5bn over seven years on its controversial Arctic exploration campaign but has yet to be allowed to drill into potentially oil-bearing rocks.

Setting out the company’s intentions to drill more than 40 conventional oil and gas exploration wells this year, Mr Voser said on Thursday that the Arctic was counted within those plans.

However, he added it was “too early” to say if work there would go ahead after the problems it had “run in to” in Alaska.

Climate Change: The Next Civil Rights Battle

Climate change a civil rights issue? Why?

Because humanity should not be held hostage by a profit-obsessed fossil-fuel cartel. Because humanity has the right to breathe air not laced with carbon; the right to drink water not contaminated by fracking; the right to live on land that hasn’t been slashed and burned into barren submission. Humanity has the right to live on a sustainable planet.

Humanity -- all seven million of it (and counting).

Phew. Thought we had a population problem for a minute there.

Seven Billion!


Whats a factor of a thousand among friends?



And remember that the civil rights department of the DOJ has both a civil and a crimial section.

Hence, the criminal indictment against Oil-Qaeda.

"Because humanity should not be held hostage by a profit-obsessed fossil-fuel cartel."

Complicating the issue is that humanity is standing there waving money at anyone who can deliver those same fossil fuels because humanity loves the benefits they bring. As a friend of mine use to put it; "They support my bad habits of eating and living indoors."

Isn’t this radiation naturally occurring?

Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale region can be radioactive.

Highly radioactive.

A constituent element of that wastewater is radium-226. The Marcellus shale is full of it.

Mark Engle, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist, said the main reason the Marcellus shale is so high in radium is because the shale contains enriched concentrations of uranium, which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. That means, Engle said, “these rocks will continue to generate radium and other uranium series progeny for a very long time.”

Engle co-authored a USGS report that found that millions of barrels of wastewater from unconventional (fracked) wells in Pennsylvania and vertical wells in New York were 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water and 300 times more radioactive than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for industrial discharges to water. He also said the Marcellus’ high levels of uranium and radioactivity has to do with the surrounding geology.

Fracking taps a mile-deep danger

So who is in charge, anyway?

Fracking wastewater can be highly radioactive

When I was in New York many years ago, I remember reading about a deposit of radioactive soil they found. They thought it must be some kind of spill of nuclear material, so they started excavating it and hauling it away.

Then they discovered that it was part of a trend of naturally radioactive soil that continued on well into neighboring Pennsylvania. So they filled in the excavation and did their best to pretend they had never found the radiation.

It's not unusual to have radioactive well water in some areas, and most people who have it don't know they have it. It has nothing to do with the oil industry, it's just that their drinking water happens to flow through a naturally-occurring deposit of radioactive ore.

Radioactive Water- "The Cure of the Century"

In the beginning of the 1900's, scientists discovered radioactivity. With this discovery, it was found that many natural hot water spas were radioactive. Some people made the correlation of health spa to radioactivity and boom; you had the birth of a medical pseudoscience. So, why did so many people buy into something that we now know to be so harmful?

In the 1920's and 30's, ads for radioactive water, as well as other radioactive products, were very similar. The Radium Spa was an at-home radioactive water cooler. One of their advertising slogans was "Radium Spä Duplicates Nature's Process! The Radium-Spa is a Water Jar, permanently lined, with especially selected high grade radium ore. This ore imparts to any water placed therein, millions of tiny gaseous particles known as Radio-activity, in exactly the same manner as Nature does herself."

Topics of The Times; Saratoga's Unsettling Secret

Meanwhile, visitors to the spa soon discover an unsettling fact: Some Saratoga water is radioactive. Commercially marketed Saratoga water comes from a shallow, privately owned spring that contains no radioactivity. But of the seven working springs at the state-operated Saratoga spa, five contain radium 226 at levels that greatly exceed those considered safe or legal to sell. Signs on drinking fountains warn visitors to sip sparingly.

Some Saratogans resent any discussion of the issue. Over the years, the legend of the waters turned their small Adirondack town into a world-famous resort. But Saratoga Springs is capable of thriving on its own. The town is home to Skidmore College, an elegant old racetrack, the Yaddo artists' colony and a Performing Arts Center where the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra spend the summer.

With all that, who needs radioactive water?

I believe Ibsen has already covered the subject.

Nice. Someone knows 'An Enemy of the People'

Since its natural, its gotta be good for ya.

If the water is radioactive, is the NG also radioactive? And if so, what happens the radiation when the NG is burned?

Radon has similar properties to propane, so it would be fractionated off into the propane stream at the gas plant.

It only has a half-life of 3.8 days, so it would break down in the propane processing and storage facilities. The longest lived breakdown product is lead 210, with a half-life of 23 years, so it would plate out in the form of radioactive solids inside the plant pipes and storage tanks. This is a problem for the plant, but not for the consumer.

Good to hear - thanks.

Well, that's one way of countering a helium shortage.


How Climate Change Could Destroy Energy Companies

I don't know about destroying energy companies, but it could have an effect on insurance companies and everyone that pays for insurance.

From my personal experience, it appears that AGW has already had an effect on insurance rates. Unless, of course, one believes that wildfires have nothing to do with AGW. Either way, insurance is one the rise and there is no end in sight.

What they meant, was that if we actually tried to prevent/limit climate change, we would force these companies to leave much of it in the ground. That would indeed cost them big time.

eos - Why focus on the oil companies? They produce a relatively small amount if GHG during FF etraction compared to how much is generated by all the oil consumers. If the US govt really wanted to reduce AGW the should start with the DOD: the single largest user of oil and thus the single largest source of GHG. Wanna fix a problem you should go to the primary sources first IMHO

The only way to cut GHG is to keep the stuff in the ground in the first place. Extract it and it will be consumed. And even if we cut consumption in the U.S. by dealing with consumption, we know that fossil fuels will be used up by places like China. We have cut back on coal so the coal companies are busily exporting the coal to China whose appetite is apparently insatiable.

Yes, I know that you see no reason to care about future generations but what is wrong with leaving it in the ground. Putting aside the whole issue of greenhouse gases, what is wrong with conservation? Wasn't that what they use to do in Texas. Or was conservation just a code work for keep prices up? LOL

I agree, however, that DoD is good place to start and let us start by cutting its budget in at least half. Our socialist President, of course, will not touch that issue with a 100 foot pole.

Back to the conservation issue. Why not use Saudi Arabia's oil first assuming we can't find a way to really cut back on oil consumption. Whoever drains their oil first, loses, it seems to me. Ask the U.K.

ts - You're usually as sharp as a brand new tact but this time you're 180 degress off: "The only way to cut GHG is to keep the stuff in the ground in the first place. Extract it and it will be consumed." Not true at all. There's another way: GHG can easily be cut by reducing consumption. And a very easy way to do that is raise FF taxes across the board. Not only immediately reduces GHG but also raises desparately needed money by the govt.

See...a simple and immediately effective. And in the process puts the majority of pil companies out of business overnight. Win-win...eh?

That is tack, not tact. I have no tact. Anyway, your scheme won't work unless you can tax everyone globally. My first choice would be cap and trade or taxes or both but none of these would be worth anything if we continue to ship coal to China.

Not to worry, though. None of these approaches will be taken.

And what ever happened to Beyond Petroleum? Remember that? I guess BP's plan was to leave it all in the gulf.

And yeh, get rid of those damn pil companies.

ts - Not that geologsts aren't well known as bad spellers I did that on purpose to give you a laugh.

"Anyway, your scheme won't work unless you can tax everyone globally". OK then...lets here your plane to force Aramco, Pemex, Petrobras et al to stop producing oil. Drop me a line when you get rid of ALL those nasty oil companies. IMHO I think it's a tad more practical to tax the hell out of the 5% of the global population that consumes almost 20% of the oil burned every day. That's well within the capability of the US govt.

The U.S. clearly has more leverage on coal, rather than oil. As far as oil, it is clear U.S. cannot act alone and have much impact. We are back to international standards on carbon reduction, which we have seen has failed. Although, a big part of that failure is the refusal of the U.S. to act. China may surprise us though since they are seriously ramping up solar in response to the insane air pollution levels in Beijing. China has the advantage of being a command economy and has now become the leader in total carbon production. They are not afraid to use massive governmental leverage and expenditure to achieve what they want. Unfortunately, they decided to build the world's largest highway system from scratch and decided this was a good time to have everyone convert from bikes to cars. Bad timing.

Blaming things on China and India is an easy way to say we can't be bothered to do anything and not a genuine strategy!

The US consumes something like 15 tones of CO2 per capita, China only consumes about 7 tones and much of that is for manufacturing exports to the US. India is around 2 tones per capita.

So unless the US manages to reduce its CO2 levels to those per capita numbers, it is up to the US to lead the way on reduction, independent of what other nations do. And once the US or Europe have shown how to create a sustainable society, I am sure China will rapidly follow suit.

That might not help reduce CO2 in the short term, but it is the only fair and viable medium to long term strategy.

I am not picking on China per se, but just recognizing that the problem cannot possibly be solved without China. And of course, a significant percentage of Chinese emissions are created as a result of manufacturing products for the U.S. The U.S. must reduce its emissions obviously but do we wait a decade or more for China to decide that it will move because we set such a good example?

China has already announced that they will not stabilize emissions until they increase their GDP per capita by at least a factor of five. Well, maybe that is just from their perspective but if they follow through with that goal, the world is truly toast. They have pledged to decrease their carbon intensity but that is not the same as decrease carbon, period.

Carbon must be decreased now and maybe it is not fair to China because they are late to the party.

There is not a solution, of course, because no country is going to choose to do anything about carbon if it reduces their GDP or stops economic growth. I am just stating the reality that waiting another decade or so for everyone to figure out sustainability is a sure loser.

It is clear that none of the countries has figured out a way to continue rapid economic growth while also cutting carbon. China has admitted as such.

I suppose that if the U.S. has gotten serious at least 20 years ago and unilaterally and radically cut its emissions that we would not be in a position to bring China along. We would also have the moral authority to impose carbon taxes on imports if China did not come up with an appropriate plan.

Despite the above,there is a glimmer of hope that China might make some progress simply because they are poisoning themselves as we speak from massive air pollution from coal. In addition, they have a better ability to impose very rapid increases in things like solar energy because they won't hesitate to do this using central authority. They have already committed to shoring up their solar industry which has suffered from a glut of inexpensive solar panels. They seem to be increasing their commitment in part because of the well advertised poisoning of Beijing.

China has already announced that they will not stabilize emissions until they increase their GDP per capita by at least a factor of five.

I hadn't heard that... do you have a link to where this was said?

"China says its emissions will keep rising until its per capita GDP is around five times its current rate, further dampening hopes that the world's largest polluter will agree in principle to ambitious binding emission reduction targets at this month's Doha Climate Change Summit."


Many thanks.

Heading into the conference, Xie Zhenhua, China's chief negotiator, told state news agency Xinhua it would be unfair and unreasonable to expect the county to make absolute cuts in emissions when its per capita GDP stands at $5,000.

He said emissions peaked in Western countries when their per capita GDP was between $40,000 and $50,000 and China's were still climbing towards that point.

I swear, the capuchin-monkey fairness imperative is so strong that it makes slow suicide seem irrelevant. Our brains are so obsessed by distribution rivalry that it becomes the paramount consideration. Indeed, just try to find even climate activists who are not pushing "greater fairness" as a simultaneous stated goal.

The world isn't fair, and it isn't going to be fair, ever. We can destroy it, but we can't change that.

In other words, if we destroy the planet, who will be around to care whether we were fair or not. I just think waiting until they reach 5 times their current GDP will be game over or at least a game that nobody will want to play.

"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?" Henry David Thoreau

Ohh, but if we destroy the planet, at least we will die knowing it was fair. Everyone shares the same fate. For so many, that's more important, than survival.

The world will become fair, when we are all equally dead...

That's going on a T-shirt.

But, Rock, why are taxes added to reduce consumption? Why, to keep the stuff in the ground ofcourse! Ts is right, the stuff needs to stay where it is, anything that helps in that process is welcome, but never forget the difference between the means and the target.

There are two obvious targets to keep it in the ground. One is extraction, progressively forbid the extraction. This will make the commodity scarce and raise end user prices. The other is at the consumption end -restrict users (your customers), either via edict, or a tax. Cutting it at the consumer end means prices for extractors will plummet. I think you'd rather have restrictions on extraction, as that creates scarcity pricing -i.e. those still allowed to extract will reap big profits.

the should start with the DOD: the single largest user of oil and thus the single largest source of GHG

Yeah, the military is hugely dependent on fossil fuels. I worry that we will eventually be caught in situation of fighting wars to get oil just fuel our military. Think about how absurd that is.

"Think about how absurd that is."

One need only ask WWII era Japan how absurd that is. They found out the hard way.

The DoD, and western militaries generally, are one of the primary sources of research into alternative mechanisms for generating liquid fuels and using these to fuel things like aircraft. Not out of the goodness of their hearts of course, but because of logistics. They are already, seriously, attempting to reduce their consumption - one of the few areas that are. Attack them and you risk that research.

If you want to address climate change and FF CO2 production the key area is quite simple - commuting. If it weren't for that, the US would be self-sufficient in oil already and globally we'd have much less of a problem. Indirectly the commuting problem is a planning problem - the way in which planning is done is totally disconnected from other real world concerns and needs a dramatic shakeup to stop putting people in one area and work many, many miles away.

Frankly, it's needs to clear out the old thinking and people and to undergo a revolutionary change. And nobody notices that its not just 'don't build exburbs', but is more 'stop being stupid and think of the whole system'.

The Navy had been working hard on alternative fuel sources for its ships. Until the GOP decided to terminate military research into alternative fuels. "The business of the military is not energy", said one particularly obtuse Republican Congressman. The irony of that comment is practically overwhelming.

Well. It is true that the Pentagon funds significant research into some forms of renewable energy. They are also buying a lot of PV for both US ad forward operating bases. Both to cut costs -and they hope, to increase autonomy.

But, big military spending in order to have this research. That's like spending $40Billion on a moon program in order to develop Teflon. If we wanted Teflon, we could have simply funded research into Teflon.

re:Teflon ..

I'm sure you realize that it doesn't really work that way. The 'table scraps' from the Space Program are often materials and processes we wouldn't have been looking for in the first place, unless we were trying to accomplish some outlandish goal, and various labs were trying anything and everything to come up with solutions, and they came up with lots of lucky incidental discoveries as well.

Of course, I say 'Lucky', but I won't cook on Teflon or other 'Non-stick' coatings any more, or on aluminum, or nuke in Any plastic..

"There is no greatness without audacity." - Oscar Wilde

re:Greatness ..

"Great Warrior, Hmm.. Wars not make one Great!" - Yoda

And nobody notices that its not just 'don't build exburbs', but is more 'stop being stupid and think of the whole system'.

I posted this TED talk not long and ago based on your comment it might merit a second review. According to Jamie Lerner, who developed and implemented this idea in his own city, there are now 83 cities worldwide that have successfully implemented systems thinking and planning based on his revolutionary ideas. Granted it took a quarter of a century for the second city after his own to implement such a plan.


Life is already hard enough, it's even harder when you are stupid!
Dr. Joseph Lstiburek

Don’t forget, creativity, it starts when you cut a zero from your budget. If you cut two zeros, it’s much better.

- Jaime Lerner re-invented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil.

Because you gotta leave it in the ground. Once its been taken to the surface, one way or another its going to oxidize. Of course coal and gas (and peat) matter too.

If we force some customers to reduce usage, that decreases the market for said oil companies -so they will lose money. But, slowing the rate of extraction doesn't prevent global warming, it just means that any given global temp will take longer to reach.

Unless we perfect capture plus sequestration, leaving it in the ground is the only cure.

Strange, climate change may well kill billions of people, but they're concerned about the effects on energy companies.

"Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled," International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde told participants at Davos.

What happens when people actually realise that climate change is going to start destroying their lives in as little as a decade or so from now?

What happens when people actually realise that climate change is going to start destroying their lives in as little as a decade or so from now?

Then they look at their financial portfolio. Maximizing the portfolio demands, not understanding climate change. Money overrules science.

Gas price hikes don't boost smaller car sales

This first article is pretty weak. Seems you'd need more than a month of data to see trends. Around here (NYC suburbs) gasoline has risen from $3.79 to $3.94 in the past month. This is still much lower than previous maxima ($4.30 or so). I wouldn't expect this $0.15 change to affect car-buying decisions inside of a month.

Much more interesting would be to track car sales overall and by fuel efficiency over a longer time period, and compare to gasoline prices.

The article did make at least one good point, I have to say, that is that buyers are probably now accustomed to higher base fuel prices.

The article did make at least one good point, I have to say, that is that buyers are probably now accustomed to higher base fuel prices.

People do get used to higher gasoline prices. Not sure how they do it, go deeper into debt, or drive less, or buy a more fuel efficient vehicle, or ditch the vehicle all together. What surprised me on trip to Norway about 6 month ago was the price of fuel there: up to 16.00 NOK/litre = 16.00 NOK * 1 US$/5.45540 NOK * 3.785412 litre/gallon = $11.10 US$/gallon. In other words, 4 dollars a gallon is nothing. Bring the price up to 11 dollars a gallon and you will see way fewer SUVs and pickup trucks.

There is not much they can do about it, either pay higher gas prices or don't drive. People can buy a Camry or Fusion hybrid that are mid sized and get 40 mpg. They don't have to buy small cars to save fuel dollars.

Even the 2nd gen Prius is considered a mid size sedan. The 3rd gen is bigger, faster, and gets better gas mileage. You should see the stuff I haul with my Prius.

Norway is the drug dealer smart enough not to get addicted to its product.

Lots of electric vehicles there too. Not the greatest place for them considering the cold but they do have a great hydroelectric resource that provides lots of electricity and they are developing their wind resources.

spec - Yep. I grew up in one the less nice hoods in Nawlins. Know what we called a pusher that used his own junk? A junkie that used to be a dealer. You can be a dealer or a junkie...but not both. The Norwigians can afford to be green: they got all those $billions in their sovereign fund…from selling their junk. So freaking green of them, eh? LOL

So freaking green of them, eh?

At least they try (after they sell the oil/gas). Compare to the Saudis, just burn the oil to run AC for a rapidly expanding population. At least they are being one part problem, and one part cure, rather than simply one part problem.

Kind of like Scotland, using their NorthSea oil wealth to go 100% renewable by 2020. I assume thats only for electricity though.

If it's an engineering problem, my money's on the Scots to solve it. But globally, I don't think it's an engineering problem predicament that we're facing...

clifman - "I don't think it's an engineering problem". And never has been or ever will be IMHO. I appreciate how many TODsters generate one tech fix or another for a variety of the problems they face. But so often they do so with complete detachment to the economics involved. Economics which bring all decisions into the realm of political and corporate control. And the corporate world is ultimately controlled by the political system which is still controlled (even if many folks won't admit it) by the voting public. A public that consistantly votes for its self-interest. A self-interest that is devoted to their financial well being.

Thus for the most part the only problems engineering fixes will be applied to are those that provide a finacial advantage to the public. And which problems and their solutions have societies been focused heavily upon for a long time? Fossil fuel extraction. I won't try to put a number to it but compare the amount spent on FF extraction to the alts and other "solutions". It's like matching up the Green Bay Packers against the 4th grade football team. No amount amount of optimism will ever change the final score of that game.

The problem of course is that our current economic system of perpetual rapid growth was made possible only by fossil fuels. It cannot be sustained by renewable energy, or nuclear energy, or any other known energy source.

Can you prove that? We certainly have grown with fossil fuels but that doesn't not mean it is impossible to grow without them. It certainly won't be as easy. But we won't know until we try. And throwing nuclear into the mix certainly makes it much easier than renewables alone.

Can you prove that? We certainly have grown with fossil fuels but that doesn't not mean it is impossible to grow without them. It certainly won't be as easy. But we won't know until we try

No, we know perfectly well already. At some point all growth must end!

So let's look at a generic graph of something that’s growing steadily. After one doubling time, the growing quantity is up to twice its initial size. Two doubling times, it's up to four times its initial size. Then it goes to 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, in ten doubling times it's a thousand times larger than when it started. You can see if you try to make a graph of that on ordinary graph paper, the graph’s gonna go right through the ceiling.

Now let me give you an example to show the enormous numbers you can get with just a modest number of doublings.

Legend has it that the game of chess was invented by a mathematician who worked for a king. The king was very pleased. He said, “I want to reward you.” The mathematician said “My needs are modest. Please take my new chess board and on the first square, place one grain of wheat. On the next square, double the one to make two. On the next square, double the two to make four. Just keep doubling till you've doubled for every square, that will be an adequate payment.” We can guess the king thought, “This foolish man. I was ready to give him a real reward; all he asked for was just a few grains of wheat.”

But let's see what is involved in this. We know there are eight grains on the fourth square. I can get this number, eight, by multiplying three twos together. It's 2x2x2, it's one 2 less than the number of the square. Now that continues in each case. So on the last square, I’d find the number of grains by multiplying 63 twos together.

Now let’s look at the way the totals build up. When we add one grain on the first square, the total on the board is one. We add two grains, that makes a total of three. We put on four grains, now the total is seven. Seven is a grain less than eight, it's a grain less than three twos multiplied together. Fifteen is a grain less than four twos multiplied together. That continues in each case, so when we’re done, the total number of grains will be one grain less than the number I get multiplying 64 twos together. My question is, how much wheat is that?

You know, would that be a nice pile here in the room? Would it fill the building? Would it cover the county to a depth of two meters? How much wheat are we talking about?

The answer is, it's roughly 400 times the 1990 worldwide harvest of wheat. That could be more wheat than humans have harvested in the entire history of the earth. You say, “How did you get such a big number?” and the answer is, it was simple. We just started with one grain, but we let the number grow steadily till it had doubled a mere 63 times.
Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

If you want to know what that growth you want to try will cost you, just repeat the experiment with the chessboard and use pennies instead of grains of wheat. I'll give you my bank account number and you can deposit 10% of the total in my name! It's just a few pennies >;-)

29,000 grains of rice per pound costing 71c. That's 40,000 grains/$.
US national debt is $16.504 trillion.
You could buy rice up to the 60th square with the US national debt.

It is a problem if one thinks further growth is necessary and that economic growth is the end all and be all of actual well being. With or without fossil fuels, growth has to stop. It is better to plan to stop growth now and figure out how to have a reasonable standard of living with equity.

The EROEI is the driving us to a no growth society, a no growth world. One cannot continue to decrease the amount of energy harvested per unit of input and still have resources left over for economic growth. Solar and wind will continue to become more efficient but will hit a brick wall well short of what we have traditionally gotten from fossil fuels. Further, it is not clear what will happen with the fossil fuels used to produce solar and wind are no longer available.

As long as we define the problem as growth, we will fail to see growth as the problem.

I always tell anyone who want't to listen: use some of the oil and gas to move as quickly as possible to a renewable energy economy and leave the rest in the ground. We'll be a few percent less rich but with a clean and sustainable future.

Instead of doing that, government just pumps it out as fast as they can to become as rich as possible while building up a legacy of pollution, climate change, unstable global politics, depleted resources and leave this future to the next generations to solve. We're damn smart as a population don't you think?

We'll be a few percent less rich but with a clean and sustainable future.

And right there is where the real problem lies, that is a profoundly false statement!

Even those of us who understand that true wealth is having a clean environment and a sustainable future, continue using language, which suggests that doing the exact opposite of what is necessary to provide that sustainable future, will somehow make us poorer. This is wrong, wrong, wrong! We have to start shouting at the top of our voices that not having a clean and sustainable future, is what will bankrupt every single one of us and create widespread misery for all.

Don't believe me? Open your eyes and take a look around the world today. Yeah the 1% thinks that they are doing fine, good luck with that.

Language and how we use it matters! Repeat after me: "Only maintaining a clean environment and creating a sustainable economic system will make us all richer".

I think the problem is that people assume that worsening climactic conditions will have no effect on GDP. Therefore, if we spend large sums of money on controlling carbon dioxide, then that is a net loss to the economy. The issue is where we will be with increasing carbon vs where we will be with decreasing carbon. The GDP might be less in either event, but we will be better off financially if we have not destroyed our natural capital.

However, we still get back to the debated issue. Can we have growth and cut carbon significantly? I think that is the wrong question, because growth distorts the real goal which is well being. In any event, I think we will have to cut back on economic activity in order to make the carbon cuts we need. Whether that is worth it is a value judgement. Personally, a big part of my well being is the condition of the natural world. That is where I get my joy and solace.

This begs the question. What is a walk in the woods or the mountains worth? The problem of course is that walk is not included in the national accounts unless we drive to where we walk.

I agree Fred, totally. In the long run.

However, today, when I try to do things without (seemingly) cheap fossil fuels it will be more expensive. My PV is more expensive then coal/gas power were it not for loads of taxes to make it interesting for a simple citizen, using my bike to meet customers takes much more time then using the car so cycling is more expensive because my hourly rate is so high, vegetables flown in from all over the world are cheaper then the organically grown vegetables from the farm nearby, etc. etc. One of the only things that is really cheaper and more sustainable is better insulating my 80s house and CFL/LED lighting.

Life currently IS a few % more expensive if I try to live (more) sustainable.

And our economic system, and the philosophy that goes along with it, says that few percent is humongously too much to pay, and thus not needed.

Well, Fred, I'm sure you know that many people equate wealth with money. This is absurd on the face of it, but is often a real barrier to sane decision making.

PS- I interpreted Styno to be saying that while we might have less money we would be more wealthy.

PS- I interpreted Styno to be saying that while we might have less money we would be more wealthy.

Hey wimbi, to be clear I got Styno's point and my intention was not to pick on him or her! The problem I was trying to elucidate is precisely the fact that most of us, myself included, use language that obfuscates the truth. Just because 99.9% of the world's population equates money with wealth, it still doesn't make it true.

So if by using certain words we impede sane decision making, then my suggestion is that we need to change the way we use the language.


Energy use is not the only factor that has 7 billion people overshooting the long term carrying capacity of Earth. If human population is not drastically reduced, then humans will exhaust one resource limit after another over the next two centuries. Eventually one or a combination of the limits will be critical causing population collapse.

In my case, I switched to a job that allows telecommuting 4days a week. I only drive into the office on Mondays.

That means instead of fueling the car in the driveway weekly that I use, it is now monthly.

If I lose the telecommuting, then we'll have to cut back on things the kids now get to do (ballet, swimming classes, girl scouts, cub scouts), and so on. Will be a micro collapse scenario in my home ; )

They could do their own washing and forego trips to Disney world. But that can't be it or we'd be seeing a reduction in GDP. Wait...

The first thing to do is actually have a goal that would actually do something about carbon emissions. It is obvious that a good place to start is the massive amount of carbon that is emitted by cars. We have chosen the route of mandating better gas mileage in cars. In addition, however, should be am all out push to get people out of their cars or at least drive considerably less in cars with the best mileage possible. The initial goal should be to cut VMT in half while doubling the gas mileage per vehicle. Mandate a one dollar increase in gas tax each year until the goal is reached. Use the proceeds from the tax to help people become more efficient.

I know I just wasted a lot of carbon by typing this not to mention brain cells but I couldn't help myself.

Hey Obama. We are still waiting for you to announce something really dramatic to kick off your program to fulfill the promises you made in your inauguration speech. But I see you have found other things to occupy your time these days like guns and immigration. They are important but not existential. Well, I guess guns are a little bit existential, at least for those who get murdered. But murdering the planet is a far more dangerous threat.

P.S. Maybe you are doing all that skeet shooting to learn how to take a better aim at congress.

Mandate a one dollar increase in gas tax each year until the goal is reached.

If you did this, there would be no need to mandate any fuel efficiency standards. Drivers would simply ditch their guzzlers in droves, and you would be amazed how much better the traffic would flow in and around the bigger cities.

Ross Perot wanted a 5 cent tax on gasoline every year for 10 years, that went down in flames. Gas taxes are regressive, they hurt the poor them most.

There are, of course, ways to help the poor deal with this issue such as rebates and fuel stamps. We have food stamps that serve millions. Why not fuel stamps?

Anyway, taxes or rationing or cap and trade needs to be done. Does anyone have a better idea? Doing none of these things just demonstrates that we are not serious about dealing with the problem. A significant portion of the country thinks there is no problem. Perhaps we need to bring back the seven deadly sins as a problem, starting with gluttony.

It is part of democracy, you are suppose to vote for what you do NOT want to do, that is not likely to happen.

Funny you should mention that, because global warming, trade deficits, pollution of all kinds, war, and consumer debt also hurt the poor the most. Peak oil is hurting, and will continue to hurt the poor the most. Everything hurts the poor the most, except perhaps the estate taxes that the rich love to whine about.

Basically the 'gas taxes are regressive' line is pretext at best against raising gasoline taxes to reduce consumption. The truly poor don't have cars, and as someone else pointed out, food stamps and welfare programs to help the truly poor are, and will remain, ridiculously cheap compared to the welfare provided to the automobile/energy industry, its attendant infrastructure, and its de facto military.

Countries with high fuel taxes still seem to have plenty of cars on the road. The U.K. for example:

Yair . . . Speaking of guns, I hear Ruger have just added a new piece to their line . . . it's called the "Congressman".

It's not working out too well though . . .you can't fire it and it won't work.


I've never been much of one for conspiracy theories, but lately I'm starting to wonder if the powers that be might not be doing a Thelma and Louise thing.

We now know that massive emission reductions are needed to avoid a permanant climate disaster. We know that this will involve equally massive reductions in lifestyle. The sooner we start real effective large scale action, the more scraps will remain for future generations. People aren't going to give up those dreams easily. It will take a major shift in thinking and expectations. Right now any politician who tried to enforce such a thing would be tarred and feathered. But there's nothing like a big splashy emergency to shatter notions and focus attention, not to mention provide a way to sidestep blame. So therefore, the most honorable and compassionate duty of our top leaders is to make the crash happen as big and soon as possible.

The main reason I don't believe a word of it is because I don't think they could pull it off. But it appears that the confluence of players is making it happen anyway.

They could pull it off by attacking Iran badly allowing them to shutdown oil trade through the Straight of Hormuz.

The IEA did not have to release 60 million barrels of oil from the SPR's of OECD countries during the summer of 2011 to compensate for the lost oil production from the Libyan Revolution and the restored demand of Japan after the Tohoku earthquake. This demonstrates the intent of the current power to stabilize the price of crude oil and prevent an oil price shock that would reduce demand further.

Bush 2 was not tarred and feathered for his laissez faire economic policy that allowed the oil price shock and financial collapse of 2008.

They will continue BAU until they can't.

Not sure how they do it

You answered your own question with: 4 dollars a gallon is nothing

The reality is that historically gasoline has been beyond dirt cheap in the US, and still is. The trebling or so we've seen over the last decade still leaves it too cheap for the vast majority of folks to factor into decisions on vehicles or driving. I've always factored those things in because of my cheap/conservative(small c)/enviro nature. But on a personal income of well under 10K, and a HH income under 20K, we still drive where and when we need/want. We don't do so wastefully, but never have.

As you point out, gas prices need to go to European levels to have an impact on behavior in the US.

I suspect that the fraction of the public which is most concerned by the present prices for oil products aren't going to have enough money to buy a new car. Besides, the price of gas is less than half that of Europe (we've been paying about $3.40 a gallon around here). Furthermore, the usual low cost econo-box hatch back design has rather poor gas mileage because of the high aero drag from the cutoff rear end. Take a look at the SCION IQ mentioned in the story, which is rated at only 36/37 city/highway and that's with a 1300cc engine and a CVT. Those "sports car" models with a "fast back" design would do better if they has small engines, but they are relatively rare these days, except as gas hog pony cars, like Camaros, Mustangs and the Toyota FR-S, rated at 25/34 city/highway with AT...

E. Swanson

Prices for 91 octane unleaded are right back up to US$4/gallon again here in San Gabriel.

Keep in mind that the mileage ratings have been modified over the years, towards more severity. So the "sticker" mileage of a car 10 or 20 years ago was probably even less like reality. That said, there is a LOT of fudging in the mileage figures. Everyone wants to look good, so a lot of times they "study for the test", and design their cars to pull good EPA ratings but not neccessarily to do so well in the real world. Conversely, there are cars that will outperform the EPA rating in real world driving. Of course, driving style has a huge impact as well. Few cars will get 30+ mpg if you flog them.

The FR-S/BRZ/86 is actually not so bad. It's a roughly 200 hp car that gets about 27 mpg real world. My '95 Saturn got around 30 mpg with a rated ~120 hp (though it actually was a total dog and probably made less power - though my biggest problem with it was that the brakes sucked). There has been improvement overall, but unevenly.

That said, you are absolutely correct that aerodynamics has become an overlooked area. Weight is slowly becoming a noticed issue again after years and years of cars tending heavier and heavier. I am really disappointed by the automakers today, because as a whole they have put most of their weight behind power improvements but economy was an afterthought until recently (with the 40 mpg wars). But I can't blame them to much; CAFE standards were stagnant, gas prices were low, and people were buying Canyoneros. There was a big incentive to focus on making more power with the same economy, rather than make the same power and get much better economy. Aerodynamics also is fighting with existing rules and styling. The Aerocivic is a great idea and Aptera at least tried to make a super-high economy car based on sound aerodynamic principles, but it's easier said than done.

It amazes me the concern people have about the aerodynamics of small hatchbacks.

As I have mentioned before, during the northern summer I hired a Fiat Bravo, 1.9l diesel, in Britain. I was averaging 60 imp mpg (50 US mpg) doing 70 mph down the motorway.

Can someone please give the same numbers of the popular long base aero efficient F-250 or Ram 2500. As going by your logic the extended tray must give them lower drag. BTW just to make sure we are comparing apples with apples, don't worry about the gas model, the diesel one will do just fine.

I nearly forgot, i suppose the only reason the Chevy Suburban has poor fuel economy is due to its cut off rear end and nothing to do with its mass.

Why pick on small hatches for their cut off backs. have you looked at most of the SUVs? I hate to make generations about people from specific countries, but Americans need to wake up and realize if they want to lower oil consumption they need to down size.

Why do think 5% of the would population uses 25% of the worlds oil?

Look in the mirror!!

Rant off/

It amazes me that people think that they need a 4 litre engine in a 3 ton vehicle with 2 seats just to haul 1 arse from one traffic light to the next.


Yeah, 5.3L is really the minimum. 6.0L 4x4 is better.

I think the point was that fuel efficient small sedans would offer better mpg results than the tall, boxy hatch backs. And, we don't get to buy those small diesel vehicles one can find in Europe because of our emissions limits. I think we all know by now that diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline. Replacing a gasoline engine with a diesel in any vehicle body will surely produce better mpgs. Pickups are a whole other problem.

Yes, 'Merikans need to wake up, but I don't know how to make a noise loud enough to do it, though dropping a few nukes in the Persian Gulf might work. If I had a rocket launcher, there might be a different ending...

E. Swanson

Black Dog,

I do concede the point that added length at the does improve the aerodynamics of a vehicle, but fuel efficiency is a combination of weight and aerodynamics. The point comes down to which one has the most effect on one's normal use of the vehicle. Everyone will have some low speed driving in their use patterns, but what proportion of the driving is done at high speed? Peak hour freeway driving may not even be high speed.

To me a lot more improvements in fuel economy can be made by down sizing than purely aerodynamics alone. There are always trade offs in life, so by down sizing and keeping a useful cabin volume, that the hatch design allows, with the associating increase in drag is a lot better option than having your long aerodynamic design with little usable space or putting on additional weight with over length extensions.

As for your comments on diesels, Fiat also offered a 1.4l turbo petrol/gas, which had a rated exurban fuel use of 60 imp mpg. So it is not just diesels that can produce good numbers, but as a lot of small cars in the US and in Australia are sold as cheap transport rather than strait good fuel consumption, a lot of the most efficient, and possibly most expensive options aren't offered for sale and therefore dragging down the fuel efficiency results of this group. Europeans have a big incentive to save fuel, and the small hatch with the latest high tech engines, seems to come out as the clear winner

I realize that Americans love there big cars, and seem to make any excuse to justify it. My sister-in-law telling me she drives a big car for safety, yet refuses to wear a seat belt or wear a helmet on her motor bike, tells me more about her thought pattern than any words she could say. Your argument against small hatches reminded me of my sister-in-law.

In their defense Americans were subject to decades of remorseless auto-industry propaganda to get them to love big cars.

But big cars, small cars, in the end its all moot. Even a small car requires so much energy to build and operate that without cheap fossil fuel energy it would be out of the reach for all but the wealthy. In all probability later in the century Americans will be forced out of big cars, and then forced out of cars all together. They will bitterly resist this every step of the way.

That article was indeed mostly crap. No one changes their car buying based on a week to week change in price of gasoline.

But it did point out one truth . . . many micro-cars do have crappy aerodynamics because they are too short to be tapered. However, such cars are largely designed for city driving where aerodynamics really don't matter. Aerodynamics really only matters when you do fast freeway driving. If it is just city driving, having a lighter car is more more important than aerodynamics. Accelerating all that weight from frequent starts & stops hits efficiency.

What probably matters more than the absolute price level is the rate of change. Let's assume a person drives 15,000 miles/year in a 30mph car. That is 500 gallons per year, 9.6 gallon per week. Even if gas goes up a buck that is 10 bucks/week, the price of 2 lattes (if you like those things).

Arthur Berman comments in AAPG Explorer

For some reason, they didn't put this in the html version of the explorer. You have to go to page 47 in the (big) PDF:

A story in the January EXPLORER (“Surprise! North America Grabbed the Spotlight”), included the observation “The Peak Oil guys are pretty quiet now, thanks to the creativity and innovation of the industry,” regarding the tight oil additions to oil production in the United States and Canada.

I am on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO
USA), and I can assure you that we are not quiet nor do these additions change our
concern about the growing cost of oil and its effect on our economy.
Most of the exuberant reports about energy self-sufficiency from domestic production lump crude oil, natural gas liquids, refinery processing gain and biofuels as “liquids.” That is fine, but we must bear in mind that what we import is crude oil and today, we cannot use other liquids for transport – the main use of crude oil – without massive equipment and infrastructure changes that will cost trillions of dollars and take decades.

These same optimistic reports almost never consider cost, price or profit

He also points out the error in lumping Canadian production in with the US, and that Canadian oil is still imported oil for the US.

The US is currently importing about 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil from Canada while producing about 6.9 mbpd itself. That's a total of 9.4 mbpd - but around 27% of it comes from Canada. It's something to think about when listening to pundits discussing "American energy self-sufficiency" - they usually mean North American energy self-sufficiency.

Canadian crude oil production is about 3.5 mbpd, which added to US production to US production gives 10.4 mbpd of North American crude oil production - close to an all-time record - but 1/3 of that is in Canada and 2/3 in the US. No wonder Rockman is worried about all that Canadian crude showing up on his home turf of Texas.

Anyone remember the crazy days when Mexico was the #3 exporter of oil to the US?

Mexico is still the #3 or #4 exporter of oil to the US, varying from month to month, but that's just because Venezuela has been following a similar declining production curve, and no other country has stepped up to fill their places. Iraq, Nigeria, and Russia all export less than 1/2 Mbpd to the US.

The decline in Mexican and Venezuelan production has caused major problems for US Gulf Coast refineries because they are optimized to process their very heavy crude. That's why they want to get access to Canadian crude - it is similar in quality, available in increasingly large amounts, and much cheaper at this point in time.

It had fallen to #5 according to the numbers I stumbled across recently...behind Venezuela and Nigeria. I guess it's in a battle for the bottom with the other two.

For years I've confused people by calling Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot "Americans"...those clued in enough chime back "I thought they were Canadian?" and I say "Yep" cue confused faces..."Canadians are Americans too...North Americans." Apparently the politicians figured out this trick.

"Canadians are Americans too...North Americans."

As are Mexicans... I guess that as a Brazilian (South American) born, US citizen I qualify as a Pan American >;-)

Weekly Preliminary Crude Imports by Country of Origin

Week of 01/25/2013
thousand barrels per day

Canada - 2,552
Saudi Arabia - 1,085
Venezuela - 986
Mexico - 913
Nigeria - 271

Canada is consistently #1 with over twice as high a volume of crude oil exports to the US (around 2.0-2.5 million bpd) as the next highest country. Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico trade places for the #2 spot from month to month with around 1 million bpd or so. Nigeria sometimes gets up into that range as well.

Canada also exports large volumes of oil products to the US. The other countries are more likely to import oil products from the US.

For VLCC Owners, “Another Week of Pain Beckons”

(Bloomberg) — Losses widened for the largest oil tankers hauling Middle East crude to Asia, the industry’s busiest trade route, as a surplus of vessels increased amid a dearth of cargoes.

Very large crude carriers are losing $5,661 daily on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage, more than yesterday’s $5,199, figures from the Baltic Exchange in London showed. Returns yesterday were the lowest for a month’s final session since August, the month they reached minus $7,850, the lowest level for data going back to July 2008 compiled by Bloomberg.

Scotland electrifies 50 km for £40 million


This is close to the standard costs I used to estimate $80 billion to electrify 36,000 miles of US mainline rail lines.

Best Hopes for the USA,


The USA can't afford that!

That's what 9 months in Iraq cost...

Ethanol Weakens Against Gasoline on Ample Supply,
Lower Demand


“We’ve weeded out some of the plants that were inefficient or in corn-starved areas,” said Mike Blackford, a consultant at INTL FCStone in Des Moines, Iowa.

They need to convert some of those to cellulose like Broin, then get more E85 pumps for the 10 million vehicle in the U.S. Forget about the E15 nonsense.

Ethanol production is very low EROEI. I have heard it said that it is even negative EROEI and only works because of subsidies. Then ethenol is used to fuel very low efficiency ICE vehicles that waste most of it. That doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do.

What if an equal amount of acreage that is used to produce corn ethanol was installed with PV panels and used to power electric vehicles. What would be the comparison of overall efficiency and energy produced per land area?

I know it will never happen but it is interesting to think about such a thing.

Ethanol (and EROEI) are complicated beasts.
Although it is true that for a lot of ethanol produced in the US from corn the EROEI is low when you look at ethanol produced from different crops in different locations the EROEI is a whole lot higher. A friend of mine is involved in farming in South America where they grow sugar cane on a no till basis, and the return they get is in the 5-6 range. Most farm equipment runs on ethanol, so they have a true energy surplus, not a energy source transformation.
EROEI has a number of issues which I've outlined here:
Your suggestion of harvesting photons directly is not a crazy one but you need an infrastructure which can use them.

Rgds WP

I understand that very few ethanol producers use 100% ethanol fueled vehicles because this would require a higher purity levels (>99%), which would require additional energy for distillation and result in lower system EROEI. It seems that as long as you are shipping any ethanol out of the farm/plant, it does make sense to ship it all and just use commercial fuels and vehicles.

I understand that very few ethanol producers use 100% ethanol fueled vehicles because this would require a higher purity levels (>99%), which would require additional energy for distillation and result in lower system EROEI.

Not necessarily.


Anhydrous ethanol means an ethyl alcohol that has a purity of at least ninety-nine percent, exclusive of added denaturants, that meets all the requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) D4806, the standard specification for ethanol used as motor fuel.

Hydrous (or wet) ethanol is the most concentrated grade of ethanol that can be produced by simple distillation, without the further dehydration step necessary to produce anhydrous (or dry) ethanol. Hydrous ethanol (also sometimes known as azeotropic ethanol) typically ranges from 186 proof (93% ethanol, 7% water) to 192 proof (96% ethanol, 4% water).

All the major automobile manufacturers have been producing vehicles that run on 100% anhydrous ethanol in Brazil for quite some time now. I myself owned and operated such a vehicle for many years. The EROEI of hydrous ethanol is quite a bit better that of anhydrous ethanol.

After testing in government fleets with several prototypes developed by the local subsidiaries of Fiat, Volkswagen, GM, and Ford, and compelled by the second oil crisis, the first 16 gasoline stations began supplying hydrous ethanol in May 1979 for a fleet of 2,000 neat ethanol adapted vehicles,[24][25] and by July, the Fiat 147 was launched to the market, becoming the first modern commercial neat ethanol-powered car (E100) sold in the world.[21][22][24][25] Brazilian carmakers modified gasoline engines to support hydrous ethanol characteristics and changes included compression ratio, amount of fuel injected, replacement of materials that would get corroded by the contact with ethanol, use of colder spark plugs suitable for dissipating heat due to higher flame temperatures, and an auxiliary cold-start system that injects gasoline from a small tank in the engine compartment to help starting when cold. Six years later around three quarters of Brazilian passenger cars were manufactured with ethanol engines.[21][26]
source Wikipedia

All true, but even in Brazil, the use of pure ethanol fueled vehicles has fallen drastically and I don't think they are being produced in significant numbers anymore (although it is hard to say as flex fuel vehicles could use pure ethanol).

In fact, the UN says that "There are no longer any light vehicles in Brazil running on pure gasoline", although Wiki claims "The number of neat ethanol vehicles still in use was estimated between 2 to 3 million vehicles by 2003, and 1.22 million as of December 2011."


I don't think any other country uses 100% ethanol, and would be surprised if it were prevalent, or efficient, in farm applications anywhere.

In any case, blending is the predominant ethanol application.

Why make so much ethanol when you can make bio synthetic gasoline? Ethanol is an oxygenate that can help clean the air, but 10% is fine. You can synthesize ethanol from natural gas liquids, natural gas and/or biomass.

Full Throttle Ahead: US Tips Global Power Scales with Fracking

The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor. Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices.

I want to see how long these fracked fields produce. They put sand in the fracking mix to keep it open. There is a company publicly traded Carbo Ceramics that makes money selling materials that do just that.

I think that we may see a fracking bubble that encourages people, but may be short lived. I hope it works out, but I have my doubts. It is like saying that we discovered a large oil field, so 10 MPG is fine. That is just plain stupid and wasteful.

It's a typically misleading MSM article on the subject, obfuscated by the fact it's a German magazine, and German reporters know even less about it than American ones. It confuses the Bakken Formation, which is a tight oil play, with the shale gas formations of the Eastern and Southern US. There's a difference - in the Bakken companies are flaring the gas from their new wells while producing only the oil.

The Bakken Formation is not a new discovery - it was discovered over 50 years ago, and hydraulic fracturing has been used to produce oil and gas for over 50 years, too. What is new is the high price of oil. It is true that the Russians will not develop their shale gas resources any time soon because of their political system, and the Europeans will not do so because of their hostile environmental movements. In large parts of the US, the political system encourages unfettered resource development, and the environmental lobby largely toothless, so "drill baby drill" is the order of the day.

They are focused on Russia, but that has very little to do with it. The Russians and Americans are not competing in the same market area, and it is highly unlikely the Americans will be selling NG in Europe or Asia any time soon. Selling American oil outside the US is basically illegal, so the US "shale oil" boom will not have much effect on European oil prices.

I was just reading that online article on Der Spiegal International ( US Tips Global Power Scales with Fracking )and came straight over here looking for comments. Glad (but not surprised) to see folks here are on top of it already. In reading that article I have exceeded my daily dose of surreality...Some other "memorable quotes",

..."We have a hundred years' worth of energy right beneath our feet."
..."The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the United States will replace Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas in only two years. The Americans could also become the world's top petroleum producers by 2017."

Full Denial, or "Big Lie" mode?

guygee – “We have a hundred years' worth of energy right beneath our feet." Nothing wrong with that statement IMHO. Might even be 500 years worth of energy. Depends on the extraction rate. And perhaps all that energy will still be there under their feet a 1oo years from today if circumstances (economic, environmental, political) don’t allow it to be developed. But there's no denying there are huge amounts of energy below their feet. Just not very useful to them at the moment. Sorta like having a $million in the bank you can't withdraw and thus having to beg for the price of a cup of coffee. Another little tid bit: there were pweriod

“The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the United States will replace Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas in only two years.” Nothing outrageous about such a prediction. The US and Russia have swapped that title back and forth for decades. In fact, during the last 50+ years the US has produced more NG than Russia for most years. Russia and the US produce almost half the NG on the planet. Don't see that changing anytime soon.

There are some gross misstatements if not outright lies: “In the late 1990s, American oil and gas companies used new technologies to advance into previously unexplored layers of the earth.” None of the plays were unexplored. They had all been produced to some degree for decades. And none of the tech was new. All of the tech utilized today was being used at least 25 years ago and was actually used to develop reservoirs similar to those being developed today. “New technologies are drastically reducing drilling costs”. The not so new tech is not reducing costs but has greatly increased them. Whether productivity gains justify those increased costs remains to be seen. So far it doesn’t appear to have helped to any significant degree. “The US government has identified a new deposit in Utah, although additional major advances in technology are needed to make extraction economically viable.” Not newly discovered by the govt but discovered over 100 years ago. Not just that ”major advances” are needed but any advances are needed. Despite $billions spent trying to do so not one bbl of commercial oil has even been produced from the Green River Shale. And there’s no projection that it will happen anytime soon. Even by Shell oil who is the primary researcher in this area.

Thanks for the clarifications and corrections. It seems my shotgun anger has hit some wrong targets, but my real objections are to the tone of this article and the many other recent similar ones...it is like "relax, BAU as far as the eye can see". I do not believe anything like BAU is sustainable for even a few more years (in fact, the "powers that be" are barely covering the fact the BAU is already over IMO). These policies and attendent propaganda are just going to cause the inevitable crash to be harder and more destructive.

Who knows, maybe something like sustainability is possible if we embarked on a massive project to convert our infrastructure to rely on a combination of viable renewables and Thorium breeder-type nuclear. Not only our energy infrastructure but our agriculture practices and transportion infrastructure need a complete overhaul. Most if not all of the technology already exists, no cold fusion breakthoughs required.

Doesn't seem likely to happen, though, does it?. I am old, but the future looks grim for my sons and their friends.

I very much appreciate your taking the time to post and share your expertise here.

My research interests the past few years have turned to sustainable agriculture. The gist is grist for another mill, but bottom line is there are solutions, and what we got now ain't it.

Imperial bumps up cost of Kearl oil sands project

Imperial Oil Ltd. boosted the price tag of its Kearl oil sands mine by $2-billion, the second major increase for the project and the latest cost increase to hit Alberta’s energy industry.

Imperial said Kearl’s first development phase will cost $12.9-billion, up from $10.9-billion estimated previously. And the latest estimate is 61-per-cent higher than the original calculation of $8-billion.

ExxonMobil owns Imperial Oil Limited (69.6% ownership)

Note the following in the article:

The delay in transporting equipment resulted from a battle Imperial Oil lost in Idaho and Montana, where residents urged local officials to reject the company’s plans to move enormous, South Korean-made pieces of the Kearl project on their highways. Critics focused on traffic delays, as well as environmental concerns.

Imperial had to take more than 200 of the modules apart so they could be moved on an alternate route. They were later reassembled, a process which required hundreds of people. This pushed up costs and delayed the project, even though the company was previously adamant the damage would not be severe.

A little more detail I can add: Imperial is sufficiently fed up about the delays and increased costs caused by moving the equipment from Korea through the US that it is going to fabricate the equipment for its next project in Canada. It has purchased land in an industrial suburb of Edmonton to build the factory, and from there it's a straight drive up Hiqhway 63 to Fort McMurray.

Also note the following:

Imperial on Friday said it will now cost $6.80 per barrel to develop the first and second phase of the project. That is a 10-per-cent increase from its last estimate of $6.20 per barrel. The company originally predicted it would cost $5 per barrel.

$6.80/bbl is Imperial's Finding and Development costs (F&D), a key oil patch indicator. It also has operating costs, plus taxes, depreciation, amortization, etc. etc. However, compare that to Shell's costs for its recent Arctic gong show, where it spent billions of dollars, ran the drilling rig aground, and had to send it to Asia to be repaired, meaning next year's drilling season is history already. $Billions / 0 Oil = Infinite F&D cost per barrel. Which giant multinational had the best results?

Risk is probably the biggest difference between oil sands and conventional oil. In oil sands you are betting on a sure thing because you know the oil is there. You just have to keep your costs down below revenues so the project stays in the black. In conventional oil, a wildcat well is a big big gamble, and your chances of winning are about the same as it would be at a Roulette wheel, assuming you put all your money on one number for one spin of the wheel. In the past, you won often enough at conventional oil and got a big enough payoff that it was a better bet than oil sands, but I doubt that is true any more.

Naugler House: A New Passive House in New Brunswick

Southern Exposure Construction constructed the Naugler House starting in the fall of 2011 and over the winter of 2012. It is the first house in New Bruswick that has been built to the Passive House Energy standard. This all translates to very very low heating bills. (a estimated $100 a year) You can check in on the actual daily consumption of the house at in the Daily Data section

Now that the Naugler House is finished we have claimed two impressive titles.

Most airtight Home in Canada

We achieved a Blower door test of 0.19 Air changes per hour at a pressure of 50kph (compared to the average new construction being between 2-3 ACH @50kph and the R2000 standard of 1.5 ACH @50kph).

Lowest heating demand of any home in Canada

The Naugler House get's approximately 76% of its heat free from the sun, but when it's cloudy out and cold.

This is provided by a small [2 kw] heater hooked into the fresh air supply of the air exchanger.

Check out the "Photo Journal" menu item at the top of the Naugler Passive House page

Yeah I get the feeling that housing is going to be like musical chairs. Except the strategic thinking people are going to lock up the homes with the best natural energy saving properties. (A nice southern face for solar, no trees blocking PV, good hook-ups for natural gas and electricity etc.)

spec – Strategic thinking requires understanding the problem first. A life time struggling to find that next bbl of oil allowed me a front row insight to the problem. And that started with my first mentor in 1975 explaining PO to me in great detail. And thus led me to buying a small and extremely efficient retirement home. A 1976 home that had $30,000 worth of renovations most of which focused on energy conservation. A disproportionate amount in the eyes of many for a home valued at only $110K. My energy requirements are about 1/3 of my neighbors. My commute to d/t Houston that takes much less than half the time it takes from other suburban Houston burgs because many don’t won’t to live in a small industrial community. A community that has one of the largest refineries in the western hemisphere. A refinery just a few miles from my gas stations which typically have the cheapest fuel in the state. A community where all my purchasing and medical (one of the highest rated hospitals in the state) needs are a 5 minute drive away.

So did the previous owner have a similar strategic view? Never met the man but perhaps. This was his retirement home that he modified to be very energy efficient. A townhome with large flat roof areas suitable for solar panels one day. But he was lured out of retirement by an offer he couldn’t refuse. An offer from Halliburton to go back to his African rotation. Wife didn’t want to live here alone so moved back to her family homestead in another small town about 200 miles away. I don’t know their set up there but I would suspect it’s also designed around a strategic view of PO.

I know no one in the oil patch that doesn’t view the future thru a PO prism and hasn’t made similar strategic plans.

UN "Agenda 21 Hobbit Home" ? :)

Superinsulation is only part of the story. The is a strong diminishing return on energy investment. At some point, you are probably better to spend your energy than trying to save it.

I written a paper about that (http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/4/8/1711) and I just writing one about passivhaus.

A Chat With Henry Gifford

New York City’s premier designer of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems talks about ERVs, thermostats, and LEED certification

Posted on Feb 1 2013 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Most builders and designers involved with green building have heard of Henry Gifford. Energy efficiency experts admire his deep knowledge of heating systems and his straight talk about the unacceptably high number of HVAC problems in run-of-the-mill new buildings in the U.S. At the headquarters of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), on the other hand, he is something of a pariah — due in part to his 2010 lawsuit that accused the USGBC of making “deceptive marketing claims.”

Gifford lost his suit. Yet even those who doubt the usefulness of Gifford's litigious tactics usually admit that he has a point: many LEED-certified buildings use so much energy that they don't even meet Energy Star standards. Due in part to Gifford's needling, the USGBC has implemented changes in the LEED program that attempt to address some of Gifford's concerns.

Gifford knows more about boilers and heating system design than almost any mechanical engineer in the country. I recently reached him by telephone for a one-hour interview.

Well worth reading the comments as that's where I found out about the Naugler House, and Henry Giffords and Martin respond to some questions.

Metro won't raise fares despite deficit

SHANGHAI'S subway operation runs a deficit of some 800 million (US$128.32 million) every year, but the operator has no plans to increase the ticket price to bridge the loss, the city's traffic authority said yesterday.
The legislator suggested the traffic authority allocate money from the city's monthly car plate auction to cut public transit costs. The city government has earned over 6 billion yuan from the auctions, according to Li. The price of a city car plate at the latest auction reached 75,000 yuan. [US$12,000] (my bold)

interesting article on how the U.S. continues to build new highways while falling behind on maintaining existing highways:


The article discusses how the Federal fuel tax has remained stagnant in nominal terms (losing value in real terms) for quite a while. The article seems to think that higher gas taxes may not be as effective as hoped due to stagnant or possibly declining VMT, and it seems to shy away from toll roads due to idea that traffic will avoid toll road corridors for alternate 'free' roads.

Meanwhile, I toot for people such as Alan Drake and their visions for alternate transportation plans more suitable for an oil-limited future.

Battery-Powered InterCity Trains Possible, Says Government Study

Research for Department of Transport reveals trains could travel 600 miles on single charge if fossil fuel prices trigger demand.

The study was ordered by the Department for Transport with the significantly more serious purpose of examining ways trains could run on difficult-to-electrify lines if fossil fuel prices and environmental worries make diesel power too expensive.

The experts, working on behalf of the Transport Research Laboratory, looked into two options, the first of which would see a relatively small battery – still weighing up to two tonnes – with a shorter range, which would be mechanically swapped at stations.

The other notion was seen as more feasible: a single, eight-tonne battery, which could propel a train service for around 600 miles at a time, using a super capacitor or flywheel for the varying power requirements of the route.

... Diesel prices would need to more than double for battery-only trains to become viable, said John Molyneux from the rail arm of the Lloyd's Register group, who led the report.

also and earlier report ... http://www.trl.co.uk/downloads/bc/20110302_Battery_Powered_Trains_Report...

How does the economics compare with the current solution for electric trains with a wire?

I'm an EV fan but battery-powered trains sounds pretty silly to me. Perhaps a battery would be good for dealing with short sections between electrified segments. But batteries are just not going to be a good idea for big massive heavy loads going long distances.

GE is producing batteries for hybrid locomotives and for various stationary applications where kWhr/l matters more than kWhr/kg.



Well knock me down with a feather. I am pretty sure in an episode of the Simpsons (about 'preppers') shown here last night in New Zealand there was a fleeting but clear mention of Peakoil.

You know you have gone mainstream when the Simpsons give you a mention.

There's a good one where Lisa pretty much jumps on to anti-depressants after thinking about ecological collapse from a few years ago. Probably the first one to make me think since the golden age ended in the late nineties.

The saying from The Matric is true, the 1990ies was the peak of the human civilization.

Federal data: Per barrel, Wyoming oil refiners worst for safety citations

Government safety inspectors tagged Wyoming refiners with 239 citations for serious, willful or repeat safety violations in 2008-2012, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That means Wyoming refiners were cited on an average of every eight days.

Only two other states — Louisiana and Texas, each of which has at least triple the number of refineries and around 20 times Wyoming’s refining capacity — were cited for at least 200 violations over the same period.

Bud the Spud moves up North: Farmers battle permafrost to make a go of it in the Northwest Territories

Doug Whiteman is a subarctic potato farmer who battles permafrost year-round, lives about 140 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, and over the past seven years has gone from coaxing 300 pounds to 30,000 pounds of potatoes out of his stubborn land.

Although his current crop is still only half of the typical yield in Alberta or Ontario, it is impressive by the standards of Norman Wells, N.W.T., where the average high temperature crosses 13C only three months a year. It took Mr. Whiteman years of trial and error attempts at working with compost, fertilizer and vegetable matter, to bring his “dead soil” to life. And the nutrient-deprived soil was not where his challenges stopped.

He and dozens of other farmers are part of a growing community of farmers living north of 60 and, in some cases, north of the Arctic Circle. They’re joining farming co-operatives, investing in community gardens, purchasing livestock and starting their own small-scale commercial initiatives — to some extent, resurrecting an industry lost when improved transportation links brought a wide variety of food from the south.

He added "life" to "dead soil" and after years turned it into "live soil" so that more potatos could be grown. Maybe there is hope then for feeding the population when it reaches 10 billion. "Here, have a post-permafrost potato and don't complain. At least you get one a day, some don't."

All that effort to add "life" to the soil just so you can extract the nutrients in the form of potatoes and ship them off somewhere.

Surely farming on marginal soil like that only makes sense if the resultant crop is returned to the soil after composting (both crop and human waste).

There are no roads to Norman Wells, other than winter ice roads, so I don't think the intention is to ship food out to market, I think it is to avoid having to ship it in at exorbitant cost.

I have some relatives in Northern Norway who are farming at similar latitudes. It's something of a challenge, but the outrageous government subsidies make it worthwhile. One cousin was laughing about he how he could sell his cow's milk to the Norwegian government, and then go to the local store and buy it back for half the price.

The article quoted a price of $18 per gallon (4L) for milk in the NWT between the time the ice roads melted in the spring and the time the rivers opened up for boat traffic.

Well since nobody else has commented on it here yet was it not interesting that the Superbowl, that celebration of American magnificence, power and Auto Addiction, had to be stopped for 35 minutes due to a power outage?

Sign of things to come?

They're still not sure what went wrong. Maybe the halftime show special effects tripped a breaker or something.

Not really unusual, though. At least one regular season NFL game was interrupted by a power outage this season. I've also seen it happen at many a baseball game.

Hot metal halide lights take a long time to re-strike. They should go to instant on LED lighting. More efficient too, but the hours of use may not pay off.

Someone forgot to put a shilling in the meter.